Donald Trump, Mass Shootings With an Islamic Terrorist Flavor, and the Rise of the "Spectaculection"Winners and Losers in Our New Media Moment
Donald Trump, Mass Shootings With an Islamic Terrorist Flavor, and the Rise of the "Spectaculection"
By Tom Engelhardt
Sometimes what matters most takes up every inch of space in the room and somehow we still dont see it. Thats how I feel about our present media moment.
Let me put it this way: Im a creature of habit, and one of those habits has long been watching NBC Nightly News, previously with anchor Brian Williams and now with Lester Holt. Its my way of getting some sense of what an aging cohort of American news viewers (like me) learns daily about the world -- what stories are considered important and not, and in what order, and how presented.
Heres one thing its hard not to notice: the line-up of stories that we used to call the news seems increasingly like a thing of the past. Remarkably often these days, the news is a single hyped-up story -- most recently, the San Bernardino shootings -- reported frenetically and yet formulaically, often in near-apocalyptic fashion. Clearly, such an approach is meant to glue eyeballs in a situation in which viewers are eternally restless and there are so many other screens available. This single story approach is both relentless and remarkably repetitious because a lot of the time next to nothing new is known about the supposedly unfolding event (which is nonetheless presented as if our lives depended upon it). To fall back on the anchor of Avon, it often enough seems like a tale told by a collective idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
What this form of news certainly does is suck all the air out of the newsroom. On some days, when one of these 24/7 events is running wild, you could be excused, at the end of half an hour of national news, for thinking that nothing other than the event at screen center had happened anywhere on Earth. And I mean nothing. Not even the weather, generally such a favored subject of the nightly news because it offers disaster in its most picturesquely chaotic and yet expectable form.
Above all, the 24/7, all-hands-on-deck news story obliterates context, or rather becomes the only context of the moment. To offer the most obvious recent example: in the days in which the San Bernardino shootings ate the screen, most Americans would not have noticed that the fate of the planet was being seriously discussed and negotiated in Paris by representatives of just about every country. There was next to nothing but those shootings available -- the exploration of the backgrounds of the two killers, their marriage, their arsenal of weaponry, a pledge of allegiance by the wife to ISIS, the contents of their house, what relatives and friends in Pakistan had to say, their bank account, heart-rending tales of those killed, testimony from survivors, and on and on. Even more than a week after the event, it was still the lead story on NBC Nightly News evening after evening. ("San Bernardino Shooters Discussed Jihad in 2013 Before Engagement," "FBI Divers Search Lake Near San Bernardino Massacre for Clues." Viewers might be pardoned for thinking that Islamic terrorism was indeed an apocalyptic threat for most Americans rather than the distinctly minor one it is.
Sucking the Air Out of the Newsroom
Mass shootings, a particularly American phenomenon, seem like the perfect story for our news moment. They are guaranteed to eat any screen and recur so regularly, with uniquely gruesome twists, that covering them has become formulaic. They are the equivalent of no-brainers: disturbed (or disturbing) shooters, horrified victims, blood and guts, grim hospital scenes, the testimony of victims, the rites around the dead, and in the case of San Bernardino the added attraction (or repulsion) of Islamic terrorism.
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When Hillary and Donald Were Still Friendly
Bo Dietl went to Donald Trumps third wedding in January 2005 in Palm Beach, Florida, he said the other day, because hes good friends with Trump and the wedding was the wedding of weddings and anybody who got an invitation and didnt go had to have been on crack. So there was the ex-New York City homicide detective and Fox News contributor, in the gardenias-scented Episcopal Church of Bethesda-by-the-Sea, when up walked Hillary Clinton.
Hillary came running over, Dietl said. She was very nice. Bo, how ya doin'? Bo, I love you.
This, he thought, was strange, seeing as how theyre politically so at odds, a fact he has made public and plain. Voters now may feel a similar sense of befuddlement at the notion that Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton were once friendly enough that she attended his joyful nuptials.
The wonkish Clinton is the front-runner for the Democrats. The bombastic Trump is the front-runner for the Republicans. What exactly was she doing at his wedding? Why did Trump invite Clinton, who at the time was the junior senator from New York, and why was she there, along with her plus-one, former President Bill Clinton, who didnt attend the actual ceremony but did arrive for later portions of the opulent soiree?
As a contributor, Trump told POLITICO in a statement on Thursday, referring to checks hes written to her campaigns as well as the Clintons foundation, I demanded that they be therethey had no choice and thats whats wrong with our country. Our country is run by and for donors, special interests and lobbyists, and that is not a good formula for our countrys success. With me, there are no lobbyists and special interests. My only special interest is the United States of America.
The Clinton campaign didnt respond to multiple requests for comment.
Her presence at the event, though, could bolster a cynics suspicions that todays politics is a pay-to-play spectacleless public service, more private richesand that the Trumps and the Clintons have more in common with each other than they do with, say, Jim Webb or John Kasich.
On January 22, 2005, a year after the debut of Trumps The Apprentice reality TV series, which made Youre fired a thing people say, and at the approximate apex of Floridas last Ponzi-scheme housing boom, camera crews from celebrity gossip shows and news helicopters gawked as scores of limos pulled up under a setting sun.
The common denominator of the A-list guest list: people who had become personalities.
The coin of the realm: time on a screen.
Oprah Winfrey. Katie Couric. Derek Jeter. Barbara Walters. Russell Simmons. Star Jones. Anna Wintour. Simon Cowell. Don King. Kelly Ripa. Chris Matthews. Sylvester Stallone. Stone Phillips. Shaquille ONeal. Four hundred some-odd somebodies in a church to see Trump.
Clinton sat in the front row of the pews.
I think it was a respect thing, Dietl said. If I was a U.S. senator, I wouldve been seated in the front. Instead, he was seated in the third row, he said, behind ONeal, the basketball behemoth. I couldnt see much, he said.
Trump, then 58, wed Slovenian model Melania Knauss, then 34, in a ceremony that lasted about half an hour. He wore a black Brioni tuxedo. She wore a $200,000 Christian Dior dress, replete with 300 feet of satin, 1,500 crystals and pearls and a 13-foot, 50-pound train. The strapless gown reportedly took 1,000 hours to make.
Joyce McLendon, the wife of a Palm Beach town councilman, recently called the wedding lovely and simple. After the ceremony, McLendon took an opportunity, she said, to talk to Clinton. Her daughter had been a student at Wellesley College at the same time as Clinton, nee Rodham, and she was still sitting there, alone, McLendon said. She was obviously waiting until the press went away. We chatted awhile.
Clinton wasnt the only politician on hand. Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor, was there. Al DAmato, the former New York senator, was there. Through an aide, DAmato, whos 77 now, recently said the wedding was great but doesnt remember much other than that. Clinton wasnt even the only future 2016 presidential candidate there. George Pataki, at the time the governor of New York, happily accepted the invitation to the Trump nuptials on account of Trumps previous financial support and their generally amicable relationship.
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Hillary Clintons Got Serious Grandma Street Style Game
Hillary Clinton might be running for president and have the New Hampshire primary on her mind (what other cool thing can she do before February to capture more millennial votes?), but she still took time out of her busy schedule to spend some time with her family over the holidays (or maybe she pencilled them in too).
On Sunday, the candidate took a stroll through Manhattan with her husband, daughter Chelsea, whos expecting her second child in the summer, and Chelseas husband, Marc Mezvinsky. Hillarys nearly 1-year-old granddaughter, Charlotte, was along for the ride as well, with stroller-pushing responsibility shared by all of the adults.
While the Sunday stroll apparently wasnt a photo op for the campaign, the crew was certainly dressed as if they were ready to have their picture taken. Chelsea, 35, concealed her baby bump with a gray wool coat and a vibrant orange and red scarf, while her investment banker hubby dressed down in jeans and sneakers. The 42nd POTUS looked like a character straight from the set of Top Gun in jeans, boots, and a brown leather bomber jacket. Even the Secret Service agents wore casual weekend clothes. As for the former New York senator, shes got grandma street style down. She paired a floral coat with black trousers, sensible boots, a lilac scarf, and tinted Wayfarer sunglasses.
4 International Soldiers Among Missouri Flood Victims, Sheriff Says
Published: December 28, 2015
Four soldiers from another country who were temporarily stationed at Fort Leonard Wood are among the eight people who have died in flooding in the state, a Missouri sheriff says.
Pulaski County Sheriff Ronald Long said in a statement late Sunday night that a witness saw a car drive into a flooded roadway a day earlier. It was swept downstream. First responders found two men inside the sedan who apparently had drowned, and the bodies of two other men who had been in the car were t)
Long says the victims were "international soldiers" who were temporarily stationed at the central Missouri Army base for training. They were not immediately identified, pending notification of their families by the U.S. State Department, and the statement did not give their nationalities.
A message seeking further information was left with the base's media affairs department.
Long says it's possible that a fifth person was in the car because an acquaintance of the soldiers' is missing.
Read more: Link to source
Back to the 1930s Hitler, Da'esh and the West
Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book Divide and Ruin: The Wests Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and 'austerity'. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.
Published time: 24 Dec, 2015 15:40
Whilst Da'esh [Islamic State] is constantly being compared to the Nazis, the real parallel the Wests willingness to build up fascism in order to cripple Russia is often forgotten.
The recent debate in the British House of Commons on bombing Syria saw comparisons coming thick and fast. Da'esh are the fascists of our time, said Labor MP Dan Jarvis; this is the fascist war of our generation opined Sarah Wollaston; whilst Hilary Benn rounded off the debate by explaining that we are faced by fascists and what we know about fascists is that they need to be defeated.
The parallels are real: the political worldview of Wahhabism the ideology of Da'esh, al-Qaeda, and Britains number one weapons buyer, Saudi Arabia does indeed have much in common with that of Hitler and Mussolini.
In essence, European fascism was an emotional response to national humiliation at the hands of the so-called Great Powers military defeat in the case of Germany, and a denial of the fruits of victory in the case of Italy. The fascists blamed this humiliation on an enemy within whose presence was corrupting the nation and sapping its strength, and who therefore must be purged before rejuvenation could take place. We are all aware of the political program that flowed from this.
Similarly, by the late 1700s, the Ottoman Empire which just a century earlier had been at the gates of Vienna was also entering a phase of decline. European military prowess was becoming virtually unassailable, and a series of defeats at the hands of Russia led many Ottoman subjects to wonder what lay behind their apparent weakness.
Muhammad ibn Al-Wahhab, a radical Sunni preacher from the Nejd desert in central Arabia gave them an answer: the Muslims were being punished for their departure from true Islam. In particular, the presence of rival sects such as Sufism and Shiism which, he argued, did not even count as Islamic at all - were weakening Muslim power. Only by eliminating them from the caliphate along with any Sunnis who disagreed - could its strength be restored.
It is this thinking that motivates the countless executions of Yazidis, Alawites, Christians and others at the hands of ibn Al-Wahhab modern-day disciples. Just like fascism, Wahhabism is a politics of strength through ethno-ideological purification.
But that is not the whole story. Neither fascism nor Da'esh drew their strength solely from the commitment of their fighters rather, the rise of both is inextricable from the Western worlds response to its own economic and geopolitical crises.
In the 1930s, fascism was viewed much more favorably by Britains ruling elites than Benns statement that this entire House stood up against Hitler and Mussolini, would have us believe. What has Hitler done of which we can reasonably complain? asked Conservative MP CT Culverwell in 1938, a year after the Luftwaffes devastation of Guernica.
Three years earlier, Mussolini had invaded Abyssinia. Hearing of the pending invasion, Labor Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald wrote to El Duce to inform him that "England is a lady. A lady's taste is for vigorous action by the male, but she likes things done discreetly - not in public. So be tactful, and we shall have no objection. These views were not untypical; as historian J.T. Murphy has noted, "It was conspicuous that no government in the capitalist world quivered with apprehension when this new power (Fascism) arrived. The world's conservatives hailed it with glee, and there was not a Tory who, as he nodded approval of the Hitler and Mussolini method of dealing with the "labor problem", did not feel confident that in the bargain-basement of diplomacy, he could make a deal with the new anti-Bolshevik champion."
Sir Stafford Cripps, British ambassador to the USSR during World War Two, noted of the interwar years that throughout this period the major factor in European politics was the successive utilization by Great Britain... of various fascist governments to check the power and danger and the rise of communism or socialism." In particular, Hitler was seen as a bulwark against the Soviet Union, and was supported by British and US elites throughout the 1930s for this reason.
And so, too, with Da'esh. The West and its regional allies have been the cheerleaders, patrons and armorers of the Wahhabi insurgency in Syria since its very inception: not despite its sectarian nature, but because of it. A recently declassified US Defence Intelligence Agency document from 2012 revealed that the Pentagon were well aware of the nature of the forces they were supporting, noting that the Salafist [sic], the Muslim Brotherhood, and AQI [al-Qaeda in Iraq, the forerunner of DAESH] are the major forces driving the insurgency in Syria.
The same report predicted the establishment of a Salafist [Wahhabist] principality but noted this was exactly what the supporting powers of the opposition [defined as the West, Gulf countries and Turkey] want. Of course, none of this was revealed at the time just as Hitler received early support from the Daily Mail and Daily Mirror, the Western press was still trying to convince the world that the Syrian rebels were valiant freedom fighters, fighting for democracy and equality.
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Turkish MP faces treason charges after telling RT ISIS used Turkey for transiting sarin
Published time: 16 Dec, 2015 09:56Edited time: 16 Dec, 2015 17:33
Ankaras Chief Prosecutor's Office opened the case against Istanbul MP Eren Erdem of Republican People's Party (CHP) after his interview about sarin was aired on RT on Monday.
"Chemical weapon materials were brought to Turkey and put together in ISIS camps in Syria, which was known as the Iraqi Al-Qaeda at that time."
Erdem noted that the chemicals used for the production of weapons did not originate from Turkey. All basic materials are purchased from Europe. Western institutions should question themselves about these relations. Western sources know very well who carried out the sarin gas attack in Syria, Erdem told RT.
As Turkish media reported Wednesday, the prosecutors office is planning to send a summary of proceedings to the Ministry of Justice on Thursday. Following that, the summary may be forwarded to the Turkish parliament, which could vote to strip Erdem of his parliamentary immunity.
Once Turkish mass-media reported the criminal investigation had been opened against Erdem, the hashtags #ErenErdemYalnızDeğildir - #ErenErdemYouAreNotAlone began to circulate in Turkish social networks.
On Tuesday, MP Erdem issued a written statement in his defense, saying he had become the target of a smear campaign because of his statements made in parliament.
He claimed he had received death threats over social media following the publication of his interview with RT, revealing the Turkish paramilitary organization Ottoman Hearths had published his home address on Twitter to enable an attack on his house.
I am being targeted with death threats because I am patriotically opposed to something that tramples on my country's prestige, said the MP.
As for his accusations about Turkish businessmen being involved in supplying Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) with the poisonous gas sarin and other reactants needed for chemical warfare, Erdem maintained this statement was made based on the results of a Turkish court investigation in 2013.
Erdem revealed that five Turkish citizens had been arrested by the Adana Chief Prosecutor's Office as a result of an investigation coded 2013/139. A Syrian national was prosecuted in Turkey for procuring chemical agents for Islamist groups in Syria. At the same time, Erdem noted all the persons arrested within the framework of the 2013/139 investigation were released a week later.
TWO VIDEOS AT LINK...and more at:
I don't usually post things like this...but, since its kind of a dark time out there...thought some might find this funny. Especially if you've ever had a past disaster with a holiday recipe. A Happy Holiday Wish to All DU'ers no matter what your faith or non-affiliation is.
Funny Christmas Cookie Photos: When Pinterest Recipes Fail
There are 11 Photo's of funny disasters to scroll through:
Sometimes you really want that batch of Christmas cookies you're making for the holiday cookie exchange to look absolutely perfect. But sometimes that just doesn't work out. The Internet always makes things look so easy and when your friends are posting all their best holiday decoration and baking triumphs, you may feel a little left out. Well, this gallery will help with that. First, we have a photo of cookies that are supposed to be happy, holiday snowmen wearing hats and smiles. Apparently snowmen are really hard to make, as you'll see in this gallery. These snowmen, sadly, look like they're slowly melting away and dying rather than celebrating Christmas. From more holiday snowmen cookies that just look like they're angry or crying to candy canes cookies that look more like blobs, click through the photos to see the funniest of the holiday cookie fails. (Instagram/Callyn_Seymour)
Published on Dec 24, 2015
Here comes Republi-Claus, full of goodwill and bearing gifts for each boy and girl, and mommy and daddy, too: AR-15s and a gun lobbyist for you!
By Mark Fiore
You better watch out ... Republi-Claus is coming to town! Poking a little holiday fun at the GOP (as well as the Democrats) and taking the edge off an already feisty election cycle, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore has created these animated good tidings to add a bit of cheek and a dash of spark to your holiday season.
Poking a little holiday fun at the GOP (as well as the Democrats) and taking the edge off an already feisty election cycle, Pulitzer Prize-winning cartoonist Mark Fiore has brought these animated good tidings to add a bit of cheek and a dash of spark to your holiday season. Its all in good humor so pass it on, if you like, by sharing the link with friends.
Maidan Two Years Later
By Stephen F. Cohen. Prof Emeritus, Russian Studies, Princeton;
The John Batchelor Show
Posted December 22, 2015
Ukrainians Disillusioned With Leadership
By Julie Ray
17% approve of Poroshenko's job performance
8% confident in their national government
5% say government doing enough to fight corruption
December 24, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Despite signs last year that Ukraine's then-new president was starting to rebuild Ukrainians' trust in their leadership, President Petro Poroshenko is now less popular than his predecessor Viktor Yanukovych was before he was ousted. After more than a year in office, 17% of Ukrainians approve of the job that Poroshenko is doing. This approval rating is down sharply from 47% a few months after his election in May 2014.
Job Approval of Ukrainian Country Leaders
Poroshenko's low approval rating largely reflects Ukrainians' disenchantment with their leadership, which many feel has failed to deliver on what protesters demanded when they took to the streets two years ago. Since the Maidan revolution, Ukraine's economy has been in shambles, the Crimea region joined Russia and fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists in the country's East has claimed more than 9,000 lives.
Although fighting between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists has decreased recently, Gallup's interviews in Ukraine this year took place in July and August, as renewed fighting threatened the shaky truce. Gallup's polls excluded the Donetsk and Luhansk territories, where security continues to be an issue. The excluded areas account for approximately 2% of Ukraine's adult population.
Poroshenko is not popular in any region of Ukraine. He has the fewest fans in the country's Russian-leaning South and East, where one in 10 or fewer approve of the job he is doing. However, Poroshenko notably also has fewer admirers in the West and South and East than Yanukovych did before the revolution. In the Central and North regions (which include Kiev), roughly as many Ukrainians approve of Poroshenko now (21%) as approved of Yanukovych (20%) in 2013.
As low as Poroshenko's approval rating is, fewer Ukrainians have faith in their national government, which many have criticized for its slow pace of reform. Ukrainians' trust in their national government arguably did not have much room to fall, but the 8% who express confidence in their government is only one-third of what it was in 2014 (24%). It is also one of the lowest trust levels Gallup has recorded in Ukraine since 2006.
Ukrainians Have Little Confidence in Their Government]/b]
Some of this distrust stems from Ukrainians perceiving little progress in what U.S. Vice President Joe Biden referred to as the country's "historic battle against corruption" during his visit there earlier this month. Although the government has taken some steps to curb corruption, nearly nine in 10 Ukrainians (88%) say corruption is widespread in their government, and about eight in 10 (81%) see the same widespread problem in their country's businesses. Just 5% of Ukrainians say their government is doing enough to fight it -- similar to the 6% who said this in 2013 before the revolution.
To that effect, fewer Ukrainians now say their leadership is taking them in the right direction than before the revolution. Fewer than one in five (19%) say it is going in the right direction -- down from previous years -- and 65% say it is leading Ukraine in the wrong direction. But as disillusioned as many may be with their leadership, these are not the worst ratings on record. Amid economic turmoil in 2009, only 5% said leadership was headed in the right direction.
As Sanders Chides Clinton on Regime Change, Is Democratic Front-Runner Touting a GOP Foreign Policy?
Both are Good watches but Curry about half way in "Nails It" for Voters.
As Sanders Chides Clinton on Regime Change, Is Democratic Front-Runner Touting a GOP Foreign Policy?
Published on Dec 21, 2015
We get analysis from two guests: Bill Curry, political columnist at Salon.com and former White House counselor to President Clinton, and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of several books, including "Understanding ISIS and the New Global War on Terror."
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and former Maryland Governor Martin OMalley faced off Saturday in the third Democratic presidential debate. The candidates met just one day after the Sanders campaign sued the Democratic National Committee for blocking access to key voter data files. The DNC took action after a Sanders campaign staffer improperly viewed Clintons voter files, taking advantage of a glitch in the system. The Sanders campaign fired the staffer involved, and the DNC has restored access to the files. Sanders apologized for the breach during Saturdays debate, which focused largely on foreign policy. Clinton and Sanders sparred over the role of the U.S. military, with Sanders accusing Hillary Clinton of being too quick to push for regime change overseas.
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