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News that doesn't receive the necessary attention.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Neocons are joined by Russia-hating liberals as together they fuel more bloodshed in Ukraine-Consortium News, James W. Carden...(Where are the peaceniks?)

"Then, as the blood flowed and the suffering worsened, the neocons just sought out someone else to blame."...7/13/2015
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10/14/17, "Fueling More Bloodshed in Ukraine," Consortium News, James W. Carden

"Exclusive: In the U.S., Russia-hating liberals are joining the neocons in seeking more war in Ukraine, as the prospects for a rational and peaceful resolution to the crisis continue to fade, explains James W. Carden."

"Last January, Sen. John McCain led a delegation along with his longtime sidekick, Sen. Lindsey Graham, to a contingent of Ukrainian troops not far from the front line in eastern Ukraine. In the presence of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, Graham told the soldiers: “Your fight is our fight … 2017 will be the year of offense. All of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against Russia.”

Jan. 2, 2017, McCain, Graham in Ukraine

McCain promised the assembled troops, “we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win.”

When contemplating the long careers of the two Republican senators, it is hard to escape the conclusion that McGeorge Bundy’s quip about the famed Cold War columnist Joe Alsop – that he had never known him to go to any area where blood could be spilled that he didn’t come back and say more blood – applies equally to McCain and Graham.

Indeed, last month’s National Defense Authorization Act shows that – if nothing else – McCain and Graham are as good as their word: the recently passed defense appropriations bill provides for $500 million, including “defensive lethal assistance” to Kiev, as part of a $640 billion overall spending package.

The aid comes at a good time for the embattled Ukrainian President Poroshenko, whose approval rating hovers around 16 percent. In a bid to stave off the possibility of a far-right coup d’etat, Poroshenko is back to banging the war drums, promising, well, more blood.

In a little covered speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point on Sept. 19, Poroshenko promised that “American weapons will help us liberate the Donbas and return Ukrainian territories.” He also noted that Ukraine spends roughly 6 percent of its GDP on defense, “a figure,” he observed, “much bigger than the obligation for the NATO members.”

Clearly Washington’s condemnation of governments that wage war “against their own people” remains selective, contingent upon who is doing the killing and who is doing the dying. In this case, it would seem that Russian-speaking Ukrainians simply don’t rate.

In addition to promising a wider war in the Donbas, Poroshenko has repeatedly promised that he will seek NATO membership. In August, during a visit by U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis, Poroshenko declared: “Our Ukrainian caravan is on a roll and we have one road to travel upon — a wide Euro-Atlantic highway, leading to membership in the European Union and NATO.”

Ukraine’s Human Rights Abuses

There are a number of objections to yet another round of NATO expansion. As I reported in February 2015: “The current [Ukrainian] government has, according to organizations that could hardly be described as Kremlin friendly (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe), committed war crimes in its attempt to defeat the Russian-backed separatists in the Donbas. … 
NATO’s principal consideration should not be whether NATO will make Ukraine more secure, but whether Ukraine will make NATO more secure. The answer is self-evident.”


Nazi symbols on helmets worn by members of Ukraine’s Azov battalion. (As filmed by a Norwegian film crew and shown on German TV)

It is true that NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, as recently as this month, insisted to Russian state media that NATO is not contemplating Ukrainian membership, telling Sputnik that “There is no MAP [membership action plan] on the agenda.” Yet Stoltenberg has also said, as he did in a speech to the Ukrainian parliament in July, that he believes Ukraine “has the right to choose its own security arrangements” further noting that “last month, NATO welcomed Montenegro as the 29th member of our Alliance. This shows that NATO’s door remains open.”

So the issue doesn’t seem to be going away.

Poroshenko’s push to join NATO, which is being made against the backdrop of ever-worsening relations between the U.S. and Russia, ignores, perhaps purposefully, one of the principal causes of the morass in which Kiev and Moscow find themselves. It was Moscow’s not unfounded fear that Ukraine might join NATO that helped spark the Ukrainian crisis in early 2014.

In the weeks prior to Russia’s annexation of Crimea (and just over a month before the outbreak of full hostilities in the Donbas), three former presidents of Ukraine (Leonid Kravchuk, Leonid Kuchma and Viktor Yushchenko) called on the post-Maidan regime to renounce the 2010 Kharkiv agreement which allowed for Russia to base its Black Sea naval fleet in Crimea (in return for discounted prices on Russian natural gas).

It is perhaps not unreasonable that this last move, in addition to the foreign policy and security protocols embedded within the European Union Association agreement (which Poroshenko signed in June 2014), would cause the Russian government to at the very least suspect that NATO was setting the stage for Ukraine’s eventual absorption into the alliance.


Indeed, Kiev’s launch of its violent and indiscriminate “Anti-Terrorist Operation” against the Donbas – with the effect of intimidating and alienating otherwise loyal Russian-speaking citizens in the eastern part of the country – surely played a role in the Kremlin’s decision to come to the aid of the rebels later in the summer of 2014 and again at Debaltseve early the following year. 

Less Dangerous Options

One reasonable alternative to NATO membership would be a treaty along the lines of the 1955 Austrian State Treaty, which was an agreement reached between the four post-World War II occupying powers (U.S., USSR, Great Britain and France) that granted Austria its independence “with the understanding,” according to the U.S. State Department, “that the newly independent state of Austria would declare its neutrality, creating a buffer zone between the East and the West,” meaning it would join neither NATO nor the Soviet-run Warsaw Pact....

The situation in postwar Austria – occupied by East and West is not perfectly analogous to the situation that obtains in Ukraine today, but there seem to be lessons...that might be drawn upon to inform Western diplomacy.

But instead of trying to implement the Minsk peace agreement (which calls for the Donbas to remain as part of Ukraine but with more autonomy from Kiev) or search for a reasonable alternative to what are indeed perplexing and pressing matters of national security, Poroshenko has continued to ring the alarm over the another, this time illusory, Russian invasion.

In a recent speech before the Ukrainian parliament, Poroshenko claimed “there is more and more evidence for [Russia’s] preparations for an offensive war of continental proportions.”

Yet perhaps the danger isn’t as clear and present as Poroshenko portrayed it. As Mary Dejevesky of the U.K.’s Independent has observed: “Nato itself had held exercises in the Black Sea and before that in and around the western borderlands of Ukraine. Who, it has to be asked here, is threatening whom?

Indeed, if Russia was on the precipice of launching a land war in Eastern Europe, would it have cut its defense budget by 25 percent to $48 billion a year, as was recently announced by the Kremlin? 

As difficult as it might be for our hearty band on new cold warriors to believe (some of whom have scant knowledge about the topic of U.S.-Russia relations on which they so frequently choose to declaim), the push for a peaceable settlement in Ukraine is coming not from Washington, but from Moscow and Berlin.

Nevertheless, the stalemate continues: a resolution to the Ukrainian conflict – through the implementation of the Minsk agreements, as well as a settlement of the outstanding security concerns of all parties to the conflict – seems to remain tragically out of reach."

"James W. Carden served as an adviser on Russia policy at the US State Department. Currently a contributing writer at The Nation magazine, his work has appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Quartz, The American Conservative and The National Interest."

Above McCain Ukraine image: "Jan. 2, 2017, In Ukraine, video published Jan.2, 2017, "President of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko time s amerikanskimi senators pid Shirokіno," google translation

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Added: More on McCain in Ukraine inciting bloody overthrow of the Russian government funded by US taxpayers:

2/2/17, "Interfering in Ukraine - A Breach of U.S. law?"
viableopposition.blogspot.ca

"Recent news that John McCain and Lindsey Graham made a trip to Ukraine in early January 2017 was rather surprising. What is even more surprising is this commentary from Lindsey Graham and John McCain, made in the presence of Ukraine's President Poroshenko on the front lines of the Ukraine civil war, comments which seems to fly directly in the face of Donald Trump's approach to Russia: 

Urging a restart of the stalled Ukrainian civil war, here's what Lindsey Graham had to say: 

[At 1:20 in video, following remarks by a Ukraine official, possibly Pres. Poroshenko,  dressed in military garb]: 

Your fight is our fight, 2017 will be the year of offenseAll of us will go back to Washington and we will push the case against RussiaEnough of a Russian aggression. It is time for them to pay a heavier price. 

Our fight is not with the Russian people but with Putin. Our promise to you is to take your cause to Washington, inform the American people of your bravery and make the case against Putin to the world." [In the video, Lindsey Graham rubs his hands together as he speaks] 

John McCain had this to say: 

"I believe you will win. I am convinced you will win and we will do everything we can to provide you with what you need to win. We have succeeded not because of equipment but because of your courage. 

So I thank you and the world is watching and the world is watching because we cannot allow Vladimir Putin to succeed here because if he succeeds here, he will succeed in other countries." 

Given that some theorize that actions taken by former Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs at the U.S. Department of State, Victoria Nuland, may have engineered the regime change in Ukraine, the comments by both Graham and McCain seem particularly malevolent since they obviously are not making any kind of personal sacrifice in restarting this conflict. 

What is even more interesting is a little-known federal law called the Logan Act, dating back to 1799, which reads as follows: 

"Any citizen of the United States, wherever he may be, who, without authority of the United States, directly or indirectly commences or carries on any correspondence or intercourse with any foreign government or any officer or agent thereof, with intent to influence the measures or conduct of any foreign government or of any officer or agent thereof, in relation to any disputes or controversies with the United States, or to defeat the measures of the United States, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than three years, or both." 

In addition, a very influential Supreme Court decision from December 1936, United States v. Curtiss-Wright Export Corporation looked at the sale of unauthorized/illegal munitions of war and the delicate balance between the powers wielded by the Executive Branch when it acts without congressional authorization in foreign affairs.

Here are the key paragraphs in the decision: 

"Not only, as we have shown, is the federal power over external affairs in origin and essential character different from that over internal affairs, but participation in the exercise of the power is significantly limited. In this vast external realm, with its important, complicated, delicate and manifold problems, the President alone has the power to speak or listen as a representative of the nation. He makes treaties with the advice and consent of the Senate; but he alone negotiates. Into the field of negotiation the Senate cannot intrude; and Congress itself is powerless to invade it. As Marshall said in his great argument of March 7, 1800, in the House of Representatives, 'The President is the sole organ of the nation in its external relations, and its sole representative with foreign nations...

The President is the constitutional representative of the United States with regard to foreign nations. He manages our concerns with foreign nations and must necessarily be most competent to determine when, how, and upon what subjects negotiation may be urged with the greatest prospect of success. For his conduct he is responsible to the Constitution. The committee considers this responsibility the surest pledge for the faithful discharge of his duty. They think the interference of the Senate in the direction of foreign negotiations calculated to diminish that responsibility and thereby to impair the best security for the national safety. The nature of transactions with foreign nations, moreover, requires caution and unity of design, and their success frequently depends on secrecy and dispatch." (my bold) 

With Donald Trump still being President-elect while the warmongering John McCain and Lindsey Graham were pontificating in Ukraine, it certainly appears that they were not representing the future president and it is highly unlikely that they were representing the last days of the outgoing Obama Administration given that they are both Republicans.

At the very least, it looks like both men were meddling with Trump's moves to soften America's approach to Russia and their interference certainly has the appearance of breaching U.S. laws." Image above is screen shot from video 




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The U.S. has an estimated 800 foreign military bases in well over 100 countries while Russia has three in two countries. Who is the aggressor? Cold War is a US cover story to mask US aggression posing as defensive-Consortium News, David P. Hamilton

"The U.S. has an estimated 800 foreign military bases in well over 100 countries while Russia has three in two countriesU.S. military budget is at least ten times that of Russia’s and was just increased by 10 percent while the Russians just reduced theirs by 7 percent. Who is the aggressor?...This Cold War creation myth of Soviet aggressive intent is essentially a U.S. cover story to mask U.S. aggression disguised as defensive."

10/16/17, "Understanding the ‘Fake News’ Hysteria," Consortium News, David P. Hamilton

"The mainstream media’s hysteria over “fake news” is aimed less at the few instances of intentionally fabricated stories than at well-reported articles that challenge the U.S. government’s dubious official narratives, says David P. Hamilton."

"For the most part, “fake news” is a fake concept designed by the corporate news media to discredit those who challenge the official U.S. hegemonic narrative. The typical MSM fake news accusation starts with some egregious fictionalization and then morphs over to the real targets: the subversives, those who would dispute foundational elements of the official history or its recent approved updates.

These subversive elements are likely to question important myths, such as the necessity of the nuclear incineration of Hiroshima or – before the Iraq War – Saddam Hussein possessing WMD, and hence must be silenced.

There are people in this world who write what they know to be fiction and try to pass it off as fact. Many of them work for the CIA and related institutions. Then, there are satirists like The Onion who write fictionalized truth. These professional prevaricators are not what draws the ire of the corporate “news.”

The approved rendition of U.S. history is a composite of lies, euphemisms and dubious rationales taught in schools, public and private, since the nation’s founding. It is continuously updated by the corporate news media. There is an army of PR types and psy-op warriors working constantly on this project; some private sector, some public, who often switch roles and sectors, but work hand-in-glove regardless.

The real fake news is the fake narrative that flows perpetually forth from these functionaries of the MSM to dominate the discourse which the billionaire owners allow voiced via their facilities. In this manner, we are all being played, all the time, and have been since birth.

For the record, the official narrative follows certain principles.  Among them are:

  1. The U.S. is never wrong in any conflict with other nations.
  2. If the U.S. ever happens to be wrong, it was a reasonable mistake.
  3. U.S. intentions are always benign and honorable.
  4. U.S. judgment is always objective and fair.
  5. The U.S. is a democracy and always supports democracy.
  6. Americans are a peaceful people.
  7. Americans are a superior people, so American lives matter more.
  8. Americans are always on the high moral ground because God is on our side.
  9. The word of our leaders is sufficient proof of any assertion.
  10. The U.S. is the greatest nation in history.
  11. Private is always better than public.
  12. Individualism is always better than collectivism.
One-Sided ‘News’...

Are the New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, et al, lying knowingly? Not exactly. The news media doesn’t have to invent the lies, only repeat them. They are mainly the stenographers of governmental agencies that provide the raw material to be quoted, invariably substantiating the validity of the official position. The owners of those news outlets likely believe that narrative, but mainly they want you to believe it.

The pundits and talking heads of those news media, the on-camera personalities, must think within the parameters the official narrative or they wouldn’t have been hired to the position of highly paid spokesperson for it. Wolf Blitzer is a Zionist true believer who used to do P.R. for the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  Anderson Cooper is a Vanderbilt heir worth $100 million.

How objective can you be about issues of income inequality when you’ve been the top .0001% for six or seven generations? And if one dare to go off the reservation, the next thing you know you’ll be working for RT for a lot less money like Ed Schultz.

This process of narrative creation is principally a matter of focus, parameters and interpretation. On major U.S. cable news channels, the great bulk of coverage involves domestic politics, mass murders and “natural” disasters. In Europe, the focus is far more on international relationships.

The spectrum of opinion allowed in the U.S. is limited to the point that Hillary Clinton is considered “the left” and the anti-capitalist left might as well not exist. The range of permissible opinion typically stretches from pro-capitalist social liberals to pro-capitalist social conservatives. This is hardly surprising if one considers that billionaire investors own the controlling interest in all major U.S. news media. One outcome is that the U.S. is the only major industrial nation without a significant socialist political party. 

The private interests that own the news media don’t have to get together and compare notes because they all have a high level of ruling-class consciousness that includes shared economic fundamentals, e.g., socialize debts and privatize profits. Their message control is described far more clearly by Noam Chomsky and Edward S. Herman in Manufacturing Consent, chapter 1 on “the propaganda model”.

Dubious Conformity

It is generally accurate to assume that there is an entirely reasonable interpretation of news events that contradicts what you are being told to believe by the corporate news media. Cases of official duplicity are notorious and legion: the Gulf of Tonkin, WMD in Iraq, the black kid killed by the police had a gun, etc. 

Central among the American myths is that the myth surrounding the origins of the Cold War. This myth would have you believe that the Soviet Union in 1945, despite having lost over 30 million of its citizens during two German invasions in less than 30 years and with a devastated infrastructure, would suddenly decide to invade Western Europe, into the teeth of the world’s sole nuclear armed military power, the USA, and its various formidable allies. 

Furthermore, that the Soviets would do this despite having achieved their major war aims, a divided and demilitarized Germany and a “sphere of influence” between themselves and Germany, an arrangement agreed upon by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt at Yalta. This Cold War creation myth of Soviet aggressive intent is essentially a U.S. cover story to mask U.S. aggression disguised as defensive.

Like Germans in 1939 believing the Polish horse cavalry was about to attack their tanks, Americans bought this spurious interpretation. These steady U.S. “defensive” efforts have now brought NATO, essentially an agency of U.S. foreign policy, to Russia’s very doorstep in the Baltic states, with Ukraine up next for NATO membership. Who is the aggressor?

Every other late Twentieth Century storyline of official U.S. history had to conform to the basic foundational concept of the U.S. defending freedom against an expansionist Soviet Union/Russia bent on destroying us. And so, today, we have thousands of NATO troops, innumerable missile batteries and nuclear-armed aircraft carrier-led naval battle groups patrolling Russia’s borders and shorelines, including the Black Sea, because “THEY are the aggressor.”

Try to imagine the U.S. reaction to a Russian fleet cruising the Gulf of Mexico, although that might be difficult given that 11 of the world’s 17 aircraft carriers, a uniquely aggressive weapon, belong to the U.S., all with unlimited range, and Russia’s only puny little single carrier rarely leaves Russian territorial waters and doesn’t have enough range to get to the U.S. and back.

The U.S. has an estimated 800 foreign military bases in well over 100 countries while Russia has three in two countries. U.S. military budget is at least ten times that of Russia’s and was just increased by 10 percent while the Russians just reduced theirs by 7 percent. Who is the aggressor?"

"David P. Hamilton is a long-time Austin activist and writer. An archive of his other articles can be found at http://www.theragblog.com/tag/david-p-hamilton/. His Facebook page is https://www.facebook.com/david.hamilton.71066700."


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Facebook grossly inflates ad reach claims in all 50 US states, citing more people than actually exist. Analyst on Facebook miscalculations: "There appears to be a systematic misrepresentation of data across the board, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen." Facebook claims to reach 25 million more adults 25-34 than exist-Adweek, 10/2/17

10/2/17, "Facebook Ad Reach is More than U.S. Census Bureau Data in All 50 States (Report)," adweek.com, David Cohen

"Facebook’s ad reach figures outpace U.S. Census estimates for every single state by anywhere from 3 percent to 42 percent."

"Facebook’s issues with reporting ad reaches larger than the actual population base appear to be even more prevalent, according to a new report from the Video Advertising Bureau.

Early last month, Pivotal Research analyst Brian Wieser pointed out discrepancies between Facebook’s ad reach and U.S. Census Bureau data, including:
A Facebook spokesperson said in an email to Adweek at the time, “Reach estimations are based on a number of factors, including Facebook user behaviors, user demographics, location data from devices and other factors. They are designed to estimate how many people in a given area are eligible to see an ad that a business might run. They are not designed to match population or census estimates. We are always working to improve our estimates.”

The VAB took a closer look in the report it released Monday, and its findings included:
















*While Facebook cited visitors from different areas as one of the reasons for its reach topping U.S. Census figures, the same reach figures are generated when advertisers select “everyone” in the U.S. or users who “live” in the U.S.

*The gap between Facebook’s ad reach figures and U.S. Census date for users 18 through 34 is much more pronounced within the 10 most populous cities.”










  • When preparing a demographic-targeted, one-day, $5,000 ad buy on Facebook, there is a gap of more than 10 million adults between 18 and 34—1.9 million to 12 million—between the low and high ranges. 
  •  
  • The VAB said in the conclusion of its report,Whether this is truly another metrics glitch remains to be seen. However, with questions of trust regarding ad-tech platforms at an all-time high among many marketers, our analysis provides another instance where first-party data should at least be questioned, or even challenged, particularly when the numbers don’t align with universally accepted metrics such as U.S. Census Bureau population data and basic media math.

  • And VAB president and CEO Sean Cunningham said in a statement emailed to Social Pro Daily: “It’s difficult to understand how a precision platform, such as Facebook, could continue to miscalculate these numbers time and time again. Rather, there appears to be a systematic misrepresentation of data across the board, at a scale unlike anything we’ve ever seen. Advertisers need to know that the data and metrics they’re viewing are valid, and third-party verification, rather than simply accepting data at face value, is the only way to ensure that advertisers get what they pay for.”

    Facebook had not yet responded to a request for comment at the time of this post."
     
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    Added: 

    "Facebook has promulgated a number of "trust-me metrics...There is a pattern. All of them are about giving the appearance of being bigger.""...

    10/4/17, "Facebook accused of inflating its reach among young adults," Poynter.org, Rick Edmonds 

    "Analyst Brian Wieser of Pivotal Research raised that and other questions about Facebook's claims to advertisers in a report in early September.

    Now the Video Advertising Bureau, a trade group for cable and broadcast networks and their sites, has a follow-up study saying that the internet giant is over-counting non-existent 18- to 24-year-olds in all 50 states. 

    Collectively, Wieiser and the VAB say, the company's claimed reach exceeds census estimates by a third in the 18-24 demographic and 80 percent among 25-to-34-year-olds.


    This is not Facebook's first misadventure with ad metrics. A year ago September, the company conceded that over a period of two years it had miscalculated and thus overstated the typical time that users were spending engaged with its videos.

    I chatted with a Facebook spokesman, who explicated the company's cryptic rejoinder to Wieser that its estimated reach numbers "are based on a number of factors" and do not necessarily correspond to census data, itself an estimate.

    Those young users Facebook counted could include people from other countries registering in the United States and some who misreport or don't update their age, he said. Also the reach figure would pick up tourists and other visitors.

    I'll buy that there are plenty of people in New York City (and a few other destinations) at a given time who do not live there. But I am highly dubious that addition would cover the gap the critics have identified.

    Sean Cunningham, president and CEO of the Video Advertising Bureau, told me that Facebook has promulgated a number of "trust-me metrics ...There is a pattern. All of them are about giving the appearance of being bigger ... pushing the idea that they are ubiquitous."

    The accusation is not that Facebook is overcharging. Its ads are generally placed by electronic auction, and the price is based on the numbers (views and a watch-to-completion factor) for a given ad. 

    But Cunningham said that the inflated claims for desired demographic groups are meant to influence ad buyers who are considering the scale of Facebook purchases compared to their broadcast and cable budgets.

    His members would like to see Facebook using the same exacting third-party verification that is expected in the TV industry, Cunningham said. "Data innovation is a big part of what's going to be good about the future of advertising," he added, "but we need an equal view where everyone is looking at the same set of data." 

    The Facebook spokesman said that the company is partnering with both Nielsen and comScore to develop new and more exact measures of digital audience reach. More is on the way, he said, as well as a more detailed explanation of the reach claims.

    I had the impression that the current controversy is focused on national advertisers and big brands. But Cunningham said his membership includes Comcast and other cable system owners who see the same dynamic at work in local market competition for ad share.

    As I and others have been reporting for some time, Facebook and Google's growing dominance in local advertising is the biggest factor in ad revenue declines at newspapers and magazines. Those placements make publications less competitive in selling ads to their digital sites and often are financed by reducing print schedules.

    The questions about Facebook's claimed reach take place against a broader background of concerns about ad fraud in digital buying and pricing. 

    Just last week, the Financial Times said an internal study had found bogus listings for ft.com ads on a number of ad exchanges. It urged clients to step up verification to insure against fraudulent placements....

    The worse case for Facebook is that hits to its credibility will slow the astronomic rates of ad revenue growth that have kept the company a darling among investors even as it has grown from big to huge."

    "Rick Edmonds is Poynter's media business analyst, co-author of 10 State of the News Media reports, former Tampa Bay Times and Philadelphia Inquirer editor."



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    Sunday, October 15, 2017

    Iowa Democrat party fundraiser displays cardboard cutout of Hillary near podium a year after 2016 election loss, wonders how to win back rural voters-Quad City Times, Des Moines, Iowa...(Didn't they hear Putin stole the election? Why don't they just ask Putin for tips on how to win next time?)

    Oct. 14, 2017, "Democrats agree: They ignored, talked down to rural voters, and lost them," Quad City Times, Erin Murphy, Des Moines Bureau


    "Rural Iowa shifted its political direction in 2016 and caught Democrats off guard.

    The conversation of how to earn back those votes is dominating the conversation among Democrats these days. 

    It was the focus by speakers at a recent fundraiser held by Democrats from Polk County, which is dominated by the city of Des Moines and its suburbs, as they talked about the party’s need to reach voters outside the state’s biggest cities. 

    This week in Des Moines, Democrats gathered again to discuss the need to regain the trust of rural voters at an event organized by a new national advocacy group formed for the sole purpose of having that conversation."... 

    [Ed. note: The national Democrat Party is happy keeping its focus on identity politics. (Chaos and hatred keeps the rubes churned up). Ohio Democrats couldn't get them to change. 4/5/17, "Democrats are still ignoring the people who could have helped them defeat Trump, Ohio party leaders say," Washington Post, William Wan, Youngstown, Ohio. The Republican Party doesn't care about voters either.] 

    (continuing): "“We have to make our argument with courage, and we have to make it everywhere, said Jason Kander, a former Missouri secretary of state and Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in 2016. 

    Kander was one of the speakers at the event in Des Moines hosted by New Democracy, an advocacy group formed to help expand Democrats’ appeal in the Midwest, the region that Democrats’ losses took the biggest hit in the 2016 elections. 

    Formerly blue states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania all flipped to Republicans in the presidential election. 

    That swing was magnified in Iowa, a state that went twice for Democrat Barack Obama but in 2016 went for Republican Donald Trump by almost 10 percentage points. 

    From the 2012 to 2016 elections, the state swung nearly 15 points from the Democratic candidate to the Republican.

    Obama won 38 counties in 2012; 32 of those went for Trump in 2016. Most of those 32 counties that swung away from Democrats were in rural areas, particularly in eastern Iowa. 

    (The 2016 election) brought home a reality that we were dimly aware of, but were not focused on,” said Will Marshall, who formed New Democracy. “We have to expand the party and we have to expand in all directions, reaching beyond our core partisans and engaging voters who are not now Democrats or are not now voting for us.” 

    Marshall added, “We have to go everywhere and build real, winning coalitions and majorities again.” 

    So how do Democrats earn the support of rural voters? 

    “Before the Democrats can win over the folks you mention, they have to get these folks to be willing to listen to them,” said Dennis Goldford, a political science professor at Drake University and author of a book on Iowa’s first-in-the-nation presidential caucuses. 

    “You don’t do that with a list of policy proposals; you do that by presenting an overarching vision for the country that respects them and includes them.”
     

    Calling them deplorables or focusing on an identity politics that speaks to every group that’s not them will not accomplish that,Goldford said.

    That message seems to be getting through to Democrats. 

    What happened in Iowa (in 2016) unfortunately and tragically has happened all over the United States. Because our party, for whatever reason, stopped showing up and stopped competing effectively in rural areas,” said Tom Vilsack, the former two-term Iowa governor and U.S. ag secretary for all eight years of the Obama administration. “We stopped understanding the hopes, the dreams, the aspirations, and yes the frustration and anger of those who live, work and raise their families in rural areas. We forgot how to talk to folks, and when we did we often talked down.” 

    How Democrats talk to rural voters is a problem, said John Anzalone, a Democratic pollster. The website for the polling firm ALG Research, in which Anzalone is a partner, believes he has helped beat more incumbent Republicans and take back more Republican seats than any other polling firm in the nation. 

    Anzalone said Democrats can get trapped by holding hard-core stances on issues like immigration, and by holding contempt for voters who don’t agree 100 percent with their stance on the issue. 

    The problem is is that...we, generally, as Democrats, if they have those feelings, we kind of treat them like idiots. We condescend, literally treat them like idiots in elections,” Anzalone said. “And I think that this is a really big problem that we have to figure out, to understand that their values and their concerns aren’t ones that we can just dismiss, in small towns or big towns. Because a lot of what I’m talking about is actually in suburbia, in a place like West Des Moines."

    Anzalone said, when that happens, as Goldford alluded to, voters will tune out Democrats regardless of whether they are talking about the right issues. 

    Many Democrats have said they must shift their message in 2018 and beyond to focus on jobs and the economy. But, Anzalone said, none of that will matter unless Democrats first learn how to talk to voters on issues with which they may not perfectly align with Democrats. 

    “We want to talk about believing that there is a magic fairy dust on our economic message,” Anzalone said. 

    Democrats can do that simply by being genuine, multiple leaders say. 

    Kander said, while there is a debate within the party about which direction it should go ideologically -- more to the left or more to the center -- he feels it’s more important for Democrats to be genuine and honest, and that voters will respond better to that regardless of the candidate’s ideology. 

    Kansas City mayor Sly James said it’s about listening, not pandering. 

    “It’s not about putting on overalls, sitting on a tractor and acting like you know what it’s about,” James said. “That ain’t what it’s about. It’s about listening to them.” 

    If Democrats do that -- simply listen -- they may begin to win back those rural voters they have lost, said Matt McCoy, an Iowa state senator from Des Moines. 

    “Our future is not how we talk to rural Iowa,” McCoy said, “but rather how we listen.”"
    .......................

    Comment: I didn't see Putin mentioned in this article. Why don't they just ask Putin what they should do to win elections? 
    ...................

    Added:

    4/5/17, "Democrats are still ignoring the people who could have helped them defeat Trump, Ohio party leaders say," Washington Post, William Wan, Youngstown, Ohio 

    "At a bar on the hollowed-out edges of Youngstown [Ohio], Betras slid a memo dated May 12, 2016, across the table. It was then that he saw the wave of anger coming and tried to warn Clinton’s campaign.

    “I know I am just a chairman but I am a chairman in the trenches,” Betras wrote in the three-page memo, begging Clinton to focus on jobs.

    Mahoning Cty, Ohio
    In Mahoning County — a Democratic stronghold decimated by the manufacturing industry’s decline — Betras was seeing GOP yard signs suddenly popping up. During the primaries, [March 15, 2016] he learned that 18 of his own Democratic precinct captains had crossed party lines to vote for Trump. Some areas had to print extra Republican primary ballots just to keep up with the demand.

    “That’s when I knew something was wrong,” he said. 

    He warned Clinton that she had lost all credibility with working-class voters by waffling on trade and offering tepid solutions. He urged in his memo that she talk about infrastructure instead.

    The workers we’re talking about don’t want to run computers, they want to run back hoes, dig ditches, sling concrete block,” he wrote. “They’re not embarrassed about the fact that they get their hands dirty. ....They love it and they want to be respected and honored for it.”
    He sent his memo to Clinton’s top campaign adviser in Ohio and other senior party officials. But Betras never heard back."...

    ............................

    7/18/2016, "Outside Cleveland, thousands of Democrats are becoming Republicans," CNN, Mahoning County, Ohio

    ------------

    Added:

    Chuck Schumer in July 2016 not worried about losing blue collar Democrat votes in Midwest, says for each they lose they'll pick up 2-3 moderate, suburban Republicans:
     

    10/4/17, "Could Washington's centrist dream help Trump win a second term?" CNN Politics, Gregory Krieg

    "During a live interview hours before Hillary Clinton accepted the Democratic presidential nomination in Philadelphia, he (Sen. Chuck Schumer) was asked if Donald Trump's blunt appeal to white working class voters could turn the Midwest red. Schumer, the unwavering optimist, offered allies this soothing equation:

    "For every blue-collar Democrat we will lose in western P-A (Pennsylvania), we will pick up two or three moderate Republicans in the suburbs of Philadelphia," he reasoned, "and you can repeat that in Ohio and Illinois and Wisconsin. The voters who are most out there figuring out what to do are not the blue-collar Democrats. They are the college-educated Republicans, who lean Republican, or independent and in the suburbs."

    It is a remarkable riff, and not only for the sheer tonnage of faulty assumptions the now-minority leader manages to pack into such a tidy space. Schumer clearly possesses an abiding belief in the power of the political center -- that there is no populist swell the establishment cannot divert, manage and make to find its level."...  
    Dates of interest: March 15, 2016: 18 Ohio Democrat Party precinct captains vote for Trump in the Republican primary.

    July 22, 2016, First Wikileaks release: 

    7/22/2016, "Wikileaks Releases Nearly 20,000 [allegedly] Hacked DNC Emails," Daily Caller, Chuck Ross

    Oct. 7, 2016, Second Wikileaks release:

    10/13/2016,  "The John Podesta emails released by WikiLeaks," cbsnews.com, AP

    "WikiLeaks says it has some 50,000 Hillary Clinton campaign emails, and on Fri. Oct. 7, it began leaking the personal emails of Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta. The group said it would release emails every day until Election Day."... 
     


     
    ....................

    Saturday, October 14, 2017

    In 2014 Iran General said Obama was a "low IQ president" whose "all options on the table" remarks were a farce and "the joke of the year"-3/4/2014, Times of Israel with AFP

    3/4/2014, "Iranian general: Obama’s threats are ‘the joke of the year’," Times of Israel, Marissa Newman. With AFP

    3/4/2014, Iranian News Agency
    "Masoud Jazayeri says the ‘low-IQ’ president’s ‘all options are on the table' remarks are a farce; warns against US strike"

    "President Barack Obama is a “low-IQ US president,” whose threat to launch a military offensive should nuclear talks fail is an oft-cited punchline in the Islamic Republic, particularly among children, an Iranian general said on Tuesday.

    The low-IQ US president and his country’s Secretary of State John Kerry speak of the effectiveness of ‘the US options on the table’ on Iran while this phrase is mocked at and has become a joke among the Iranian nation, especially the children,” General Masoud Jazayeri said, according to the semi-official Fars News Agency. 


    Jazayeri was responding to the US president’s interview in Bloomberg on Sunday, in which Obama maintained that the Iranian leadership should take his “all options on the table” stance--including the warning of a potential military strike--seriously. [3/2/2014, "Obama to Israel--Time Is Running Out," Bloomberg, Jeffrey Goldberg: "When Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits the White House tomorrow, President Barack Obama will tell him that his country could face a bleak future-one of international isolation and demographic disaster if he refuses to endorse a US-drafted framework agreement for peace with the Palestinians. Obama will warn Netanyahu that time is running out for Israel as a Jewish-majority democracy."...] 

    (Obama): “We have a high degree of confidence that when they look at 35,000 US military personnel in the region that are engaged in constant training exercises under the direction of a president who already has shown himself willing to take military action in the past, that they should take my statements seriously,” the president [Obama] told Bloomberg. 

    Jazayeri called Obama’s statements regarding the deployment of US troops “completely inexpert remarks far from the reality, and these statements can be used as the joke of the year.” 

    The Iranian news agency Tuesday published a political cartoon mocking the US president, calling it: “All Options on Table.” This Time for Russia.” In a jab at US non-intervention in Ukraine, the cartoon portrays Obama peering forlornly into an empty paint can with the label “Red Line” while Russian President Vladimir Putin walks away saying, “I think you used it all on Syria.”

    The Iranian general also issued a warning to Obama that should US forces make a move, “the region will be turned into a hell for them.” 

    Jazayeri is the second high-ranking official to castigate Obama since the interview was published Sunday. On Monday night, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham panned Obama’s comments for undermining the diplomatic process.

    “One part of the remarks made by the US president is in contradiction to the principles of the international law and against the spirit of diplomatic negotiations meant to prevent unconstructive slogans and resorting to threats,” Afkham said. 

    Under an interim deal clinched in November, Iran agreed to curb parts of its nuclear program for six months in exchange for limited sanctions relief. The agreement came into effect on January 20. 

    Negotiators from the P5+1 group of world powers — the United States, Britain, France, China and Russia plus Germany — are set to resume talks on a permanent accord with Iranian nuclear negotiators on March 17 in Vienna. 

    “The (nuclear) negotiations are going well…I’m hoping by the first deadline (July 20) we will reach an agreement,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif told reporters on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi on February 28.

    However, he said that there were still disagreements between the sides, referencing a “problem in terms of both substance and approach.” He added that Iran would not get rid of its enrichment program. 

    I can tell you that Iran’s nuclear program will remain intact. We will not close any program,” he said, according to Reuters. Western nations and Israel have long suspected Iran of pursuing a nuclear weapons capability alongside its civilian program, charges denied by Tehran." 

    AFP and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report. 

    Cartoon image caption, ""All Options on table", This Time for Russia, TEHRAN (FNA)- President Barack Obama warned that the US was planning a string of economic and diplomatic sanctions to "isolate" Russia if it does not reverse its incursion into Ukraine. [CARTOON]," english.farsnews.com




    .....................

    Thursday, October 12, 2017

    Brazil imported more African slaves than any country in the world, 10 times more than the US. In 1980s Brazil was said to be 'most racist country in the world.' Work on 2016 Rio Olympics unearthed thousands of slave era artifacts-Guardian Weekly, 10/23/2012

    40% of people in Rio were slaves in 1888, the year slavery was abolished in Brazil.   

    10/23/2012, "Brazil comes to terms with its slave trading past," Guardian Weekly, Nicolas Bourcier 

    "Groundworks for the 2016 Olympics bring questions of ethnicity to the surface." 
    ...........
    "Just a step from the centre of Rio de Janeiro, at the heart of the docks undergoing a massive facelift in preparation for the 2016 Olympics, two workers await the verdict of three archaeologists at the bottom of a trench. Municipal workers have once again stumbled on the remains of the Valongo wharf, where the largest number of slaves imported to the [western hemisphere]...disembarked. A place to remember, a place of suffering long buried under the paving stones of this dazzling city....

    Since work started in 2010, a huge variety of bracelets, precious stones and personal items has been unearthed, tens of thousands of objects, says Tania Andrade Lima, who heads the dig. 

    Work on the wharf has also revealed the scale of the slave trade in Brazil. Of the 9.5 million people captured in Africa and brought to the New World between the 16th and 19th century, nearly 4 million landed in Rio, 10 times more than all those sent to the United States.

    But for the last century Brazil has tried to forget its past, refusing to accept the legacy of the slave trade. It has sought to project the image of a country of mixed descent, where the colour of a person's skin does not count, a land unfettered by racism where cordial relations reign between citizens of Indian, European and African descent.

    Brazil was the last...nation [in the western hemisphere] to abolish slavery, on 13 May, 1888. At the time Rio represented the largest urban concentration of slaves since the end of the Roman empire, more than 40% of the population, almost a complete city in irons. Rio city council now plans to turn part of Valongo into an open-air archaeological site. "This heritage can finally be recognised, shown off and used to combat our collective amnesia [...] regarding the black community," Lima suggests. The country is certainly changing. There are few people in Rio who would still describe it as a "racial democracy", a term coined by the sociologist and writer Gilberto Freyre. 

    Black movements tend to refer to "institutionalised racism", a view endorsed, among others, by the Catholic church, which condemns discrimination and the persistence of a slave-based mindset.

    According to census results published in 2011 by the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), brancos (whites) account for less than half the population for the first time since the 19th century. Approximately 51% see themselves as preto (black, 8%) or pardo (mixed, 43%), up by more than 5% on 2000....

    According to a 2007 survey, coloured people only account for 3.5% of executives, 10% of university students, 5% of members of parliament, 3% of the judiciary. So there's room for more change.

    President Dilma Rousseff's 36-strong coalition government includes only one black minister, Luiza Helena de Bairros, secretary of state for racial equality. She is a worthy successor to Edison Arantes do Nascimento, aka Pelé, the first coloured man to serve as a minister (of sport) in 1994. All the figures confirm this situation, contradicting the impressions of passing visitors.

    "Racism in Brazil is well hidden, subtle and unspoken, underestimated by the media," says Joaquim Barbosa, the first black judge to sit on the bench of the supreme court in Brasilia. "It is nevertheless extremely violent."...

    In a sensational decision this April [2012] the 10 supreme court judges unanimously ruled in favour of positive discrimination in higher education, declaring that the racial quotas in Brazilian universities were constitutional and redressed the "social debt of slavery". Dozens of expert witnesses were heard and the ruling was televised live. In August the senate passed a bill requiring federal universities to reserve half their places for students from state schools. Rousseff has signed the whole text into law; universities have till 2015 to comply....

    Opponents of the quota system have condemned the "racialisation" of Brazil, rooted in an increasingly ethnic approach to social affairs. Above all the ensuing debate seems to have put an end to the myth of racial democracy, in which skin colour does not count.

    A major change is apparently underway in what the sociologist Alberto Guerreiro Ramos called "the most racist country in the world", during the military dictatorship in the 1980s, a view endorsed by most of the experts Le Monde talked to. "The quotas are the only alternative to the mechanisms of concealment and social exclusion set up since the end of slavery," says Spiritos Santos, the author of a lively blog on racial issues....

    Since independence in 1822, the Brazilian elite has sought to deny the nation's African roots. "In an effort to glorify the past, while making no concessions to the Portuguese, the elite started by promoting the Indians, the original masters of the land and no threat to the slave-makers," says the historian Richard Marin. Blacks were sidelined. Even the abolitionist writer Ruy Barbosa de Oliveirato, then finance minister, authorised much of the government records of slavery to be destroyed in 1890.

    When slavery was finally abolished the former captives were left to fend for themselves. Unlike Abraham Lincoln, who established 4,000 schools for former slaves, Brazil did not open a single one. "With no land nor education, cut off from any social organisation, the enfranchised blacks were condemned to misery," according to historian Alain Rouquié. "The long-awaited abolition ultimately entrenched inequality.

    Prior to the financial crisis of 1929 the boom in coffee production attracted 4 million immigrants from Europe with little concern for the country's colonial past. On the grounds that this young and prosperous nation could not flourish with a largely black population, European immigration was encouraged in order to "whiten" Brazil, to limpar o sangue (cleanse the blood).... 

    There was a big gap between the supposed racial democracy and the actual condition of many Afro-Brazilians, the victims of racism....

    The debate on quotas started in the 1990s under President Fernando Henrique Cardoso. He set up working groups to discuss public action to promote the black community and made it compulsory for official documents to indicate skin colour. In 2002 Bahia State University introduced racial quotas, gradually followed by about 60 other establishments....
      
    The streets of the Valongo neighbourhood have just been paved over and re-opened to traffic. This evening the first episode of a telenovela (soap), Lado a Lado (side by side) will be broadcast. It is the story of a black community after the abolition of slavery. "It is an exciting and as yet little known period," said the lead actor, Lazaro Ramos. Could he be joking?"

    "This article appeared in Guardian Weekly, which incorporates material from Le Monde."

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/oct/23/brazil-struggle-ethnic-racial-identity

    =============

    Added:

    2015 Brazil population over 205 million:

     









    Brazil on world map, copyright Ontheworldmap.com


















    Above, Angola

    ========

    Added: Published in Feb. 2015:


    "Description: This book explores the history of African tangible and intangible heritages and its links with the public memory of slavery in Brazil and Angola. The two countries are deeply connected, given how most enslaved Africans, forcibly brought to Brazil during the era of the Atlantic slave trade, were from West Central Africa. Brazil imported the largest number of enslaved Africans during the Atlantic slave trade and was the last country in the western hemisphere to abolish slavery in 1888. Today, other than Nigeria, the largest population of African descent is in Brazil. Yet it was only in the last twenty years that Brazil’s African heritage and its slave past have gained greater visibility. Prior to this, Brazil’s African heritage and its slave past were completely neglected. 

    Even after the abolition of slavery in Brazil, African culture continued to be marginalized. Carnival, religious festivals, as well as Candomblé ceremonies, and capoeira (an Afro-Brazilian martial art) created important spaces of black assertion and insurgency. These cultural traditions were contested by white elites and public authorities, but starting in the 1930s, capoeira became a national symbol and Candomblé temples were gradually officially added to Brazil’s list of heritage sites.

    In spite of these developments, the Atlantic slave past has remained absent from the public landscape of Brazilian and Angolan former slave ports, suggesting how difficult it is for these countries to address the painful legacies of slavery. African art and material culture also continued to be excluded from museums and other official institutions. In the rare instances that African artifacts were shown, they would be confined to only certain places dedicated to popular culture and associated with the religious sphere. 

    Even though public attention on slavery was growing internationally through national and international initiatives (e.g., The Slave Route Project by UNESCO), Brazil and Angola developed very few initiatives for the memorialization of slavery and the Atlantic slave trade. This has started to change slowly in the last decade as Brazil has begun engaging in more initiatives to memorialize slavery and underscore the importance of its African heritage. 

    Brazil’s slave past and African heritage are emerging gradually in urban and rural areas through different kinds of initiatives led not only by activists but also by scholars in association with black communities. Although in their early stages, most of these projects are permanent programs supported by official agencies. This new configuration suggests that––unlike the case in Angola––in Brazil, slavery and the Atlantic the slave trade are becoming recognized as foundational chapters of the country’s history. 

    This is the first book in English to focus on African heritage and public memory of slavery in Brazil and Angola. This interdisciplinary study examines visual images, dance, music, oral accounts, museum exhibitions, artifacts, monuments, festivals, and others forms of commemoration to illuminate the social and cultural dynamics that over the last twenty years have propelled––or prevented––the visibility of African heritage (and its Atlantic slave trade legacy) in the South Atlantic region."...




















    Image of book cover from cambriapress.com



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