First up: ‘US Justice Department forces RT America to register as “foreign agent”’, Trévon Austin, wsws.org, 10 November 2017
“Washington has given the outlet until Monday to register as a foreign agent or its director could be arrested and its assets frozen.
The move is a product of the ongoing anti-Russia witch hunt being led by the Democratic Party, together with the US intelligence agencies, aimed at delegitimizing and outlawing domestic political opposition.
The Justice Department’s actions will have a chilling effect on the numerous independent journalists who have either worked for or appeared on RT, as well as on press freedom in the United States as a whole.
“In demanding RT America register as a foreign agent, the government has produced no evidence that RT qualifies as a foreign lobbying outfit, nor has it bothered to explain how this network is different from Al Jazeera, the BBC, or other state broadcasters,” Max Blumenthal, senior editor for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project, and a regular guest on RT America, told the World Socialist Web Site.” [snip]
“The Director of National Intelligence report further denounced favorable coverage by RT of the Occupy Wall Street movement, declaring, “RT framed the movement as a fight against ‘the ruling class’ and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations.”
The World War II-era Foreign Agents Registration Act required companies or individuals considered to be working on behalf of a foreign government in the US to disclose their funding and relationship with foreign governments or actors with the DOJ. According to RT, over 400 entities are registered under the act, but not a single media outlet is included in the list.”
Via RT Oct. 20: ‘NGO publishes names of 2,300+ RT guests, labels them ‘useful idiots who undermine Western democracy’ (includes 10 minute video)
“An NGO called the European Values Think-Tank has published a report on RT featuring an extensive list of US and European public figures who have been accused of “undermining western democracy” just by appearing in RT shows.
The report, claiming to be an “overview of RT’s editorial strategy and evidence of impact,” comes with an Excel list of 2,327 people who have appeared on RT over the last four years. The names are carefully arranged in seven categories, including US politicians, UK politicians, European politicians and so on, and are arranged in alphabetical order. The list mentions the shows the guests appeared on, the total number of their appearances, and gives hyperlinks to all the relevant episodes.” [snip]
“The report generally claims that RT is “an instrument of hostile foreign influence,” which has the sole purpose of “undermining public confidence in the viability of liberal democracy.”
It repeatedly discourages any public figures from potentially appearing on any of RT’s shows in the future, as those on the list are accused of boosting RT’s “credibility as a legitimate news network.”
The report asserts the opposite in no uncertain terms. It constantly describes RT as the “Kremlin’s mouthpiece” tasked with no less than destroying the western civilization and society from within.” [snip]
“The report was prepared by Monika Richter, who is described as an analyst at the European Values Think-Tank who works specifically for the “Kremlin Watch Program” – a project aimed at “exposing and confronting instruments of Russian influence and disinformation operations focused against Western democracies.” Richter also cooperates with the Atlantic Council – a US-based think tank, which is known for its staunch anti-Russian stance.”
Meanwhile, heightening the abject hypocrisy, David Love’s ‘Legislation Criminalizing ‘BDS’ Boycott of Palestinian Occupation Has Implications For Black Protest Movements’, atlantablackstar.com, Nov. 10 writes:
“A new piece of legislation working its way through the Senate has drawn attention for its attempt to criminalize boycotts against Israel. The bill would make it a felony punishable by a fine and imprisonment to support the BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) movement against Israel for human rights violations against the Palestinians. From the civil rights era boycotts of segregated buses and businesses that did not cater to Black people, to the anti-apartheid struggles, boycotts have become an important part of the American legacy of free speech as enshrined in the First Amendment. Civil liberties groups and critics across the political spectrum have cited the chilling effect the bill would have on freedom of speech if enacted into law. The vague language of the legislation, harsh penalties, and a failure of lawmakers to read the text of the bill have caused its sponsors to reconsider their support.
The bipartisan-sponsored bill, S.720, also known as the Israel Anti-Boycott Act, would prohibit support for boycotts by international governmental organizations against Israel, with punishment for violators ranging from a penalty between $250,000 and $1 million, and/or up to 20 years in prison. In the Senate, the bill attracted 46 supporters [50 by today], 31 Republican and 15 Democratic, while the House version has 234 supporters from both sides of the aisle. Lobbying for the bill is the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC)— the pro-Israel group that helped write the legislation and reportedly has made its passage a top priority this year. AIPAC has faced criticism for promoting the right-wing policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, and competition from younger, progressive Jewish groups such as J Street, Jewish Voice for Peace, T’ruah: The Rabbinic Call for Human Rights, and IfNotNow, who oppose the occupation.
Also lobbying for the bill is the evangelical group Christians United for Israel. Pastor John Hagee, the founder of the organization, told NPR that “those who live by the Qur’an have a scriptural mandate to kill Christians and Jews. … It teaches that very clearly.” In 2008, Republican presidential candidate John McCain rejected Hagee’s endorsement due to his extremist views, which included claims that Adolf Hitler was a “hunter” of Jews sent by God to get Jews to return to Israel. The radical pastor also blamed the unraveling of America on “nasty” welfare recipients and “pedophile” immigrants.” [snip]
“A number of U.S. states have followed suit in the response to BDS. In 2016, New York became the first state to divest public funds supporting the BDS movement. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an executive order directing state government to compile a list of institutions and companies that engage in boycotts, divestment and sanctions against the Mideast nation through a parent or subsidiary. The governor also directed all state agencies and authorities to “divest their money and assets from any investment in any institution or company” on the list. North Carolina is poised to become the 22nd U.S. state to punish companies that do business in their state and participate in the boycott of Israel.”
Yes, the ACLU has objected to this bill, but apparently not to Elf Sessions’ demand that RT register as ‘a foreign agent’, nor have “…Amnesty International to the Committee to Protect Journalists, [thus having] made themselves accomplices in a McCarthyite crusade that is whittling away at press freedom”, according to what Max Blumenthal reported to Trévon Austin at wsws.
Let’s add this news to the Russophobia-beyond-the-pale Horror Show, as if the North Korean Horror Show weren’t enough already. ‘NATO wants Europe’s civilian infrastructure ready for war’, RT 8 Nov, 2017
“NATO needs civilian infrastructure in Europe to meet its growing military requirements, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said ahead of a meeting in Brussels. This will mean coordination with national governments and the private sector, he added.
Defense ministers from the 29 NATO states arrived in Brussels to begin discussions on a “revision” of the NATO Command Structure. What is envisioned is a new command to protect sea lines between North America and Europe, and another to “improve the movement of troops and equipment within Europe.”
Stoltenberg believes that a revision of NATO’s structure is necessary to tackle the alleged threat from Russia. Thus, for the purpose of “deterrence and collective defense,” the alliance wants European roads to be ready to handle the rapid mobilization of tanks, artillery and the like.
“This is not only about commands. We also need to ensure that roads and bridges are strong enough to take our largest vehicles, and that rail networks are equipped for the rapid deployment of tanks and heavy equipment,” Stoltenberg said Tuesday at the pre-ministerial press conference. “NATO has military requirements for civilian infrastructure, and we need to update these to ensure that current military needs are taken into account.”
NATO hopes that national governments and the private sector will cooperate to take the measures necessary, emphasizing that the European Union has an “important role to play.”
While troop and equipment movement across Europe will be demarcated, the proposed Atlantic Command, Stoltenberg believes, would strengthen the military bloc’s “ability to protect the sea lines which are so critical for a transatlantic alliance.”
From Brussels this week:
such shocking news! @NATO 9h9 hours ago
“Defence Ministers agree to upgrade #NATO Command Structure https://youtu.be/8SNEOJn1qg4 #DefMin
but my personal fave: “she has the firepower!!!”
From the ibtimes.com on Halloween Day: ‘Defense Department: The War On Terror Has Cost $250 Million A Day For 16 Years’
“American taxpayers have spent $1.46 trillion on wars abroad since September 11, 2001. The Department of Defense periodically releases a “cost of war” report. The newly released version, obtained by the Federation of American Scientists Secrecy News blog, covers the time from the September 11th terrorist attacks through mid-2017.
The Afghanistan War from 2001 to 2014 and Iraq War from 2003 to 2011 account for the bulk of expenses: more than $1.3 trillion. The continuing presence in Afghanistan and aerial anti-ISIS operations in Iraq and Syria since 2014 have cost a combined $120 billion.”, etc.
From Newsweek.com, Nov. 8: ‘The Cost of War for the U.S. Taxpayer Since 9/11 Is Actually Three Times the Pentagon’s Estimate’
“The United States military has spent more than $5.6 trillion on conflicts since 2001, more than three times the Pentagon’s actual estimate, according to a new study.
But that figure appears to underplay the real cost of war for the American taxpayer, at least according to the Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs at Brown University. It puts the total cost at $5.6 billion, or $23,000 per taxpayer.
The study examines not only the money spent by the Pentagon but also the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security, for resources dedicated to the “war on terrorism.”
And as Nick Turse has amply demonstrated by pouring over various other budgets, many War costs are hidden, not publicly stated, and those have almost doubled the official “defense” budget.
Much of this and more is contained in Phil Rockstroh’s November 8th ‘No Proportion Kept: Within the Belly of the US’s Star-spangled Leviathan’, a few outtakes:
‘Ha, ha! keep time: how sour sweet music is,
When time is broke and no proportion kept!
So is it in the music of men’s lives.
~ Richard II’s lament from Act 5, Scene 5
“Given the (great unspoken) fact, the wealth of Western civilisation’s ruling class was created by, and is maintained to this day by, genocidal conquer-lust and its attendant, imperialist aggression and plunder, the acts of mass murder being perpetrated by (mostly) White males in the US reflect a culture that deploys military and police state firepower to maintain its dominant status. As Malcolm X averred, the chickens have come home to roost. Moreover, if there does not arrive a rendezvous with reality and an honest reckoning with the fact, the Law Of Perpetual, Homicidal Poultry Returns will continue, ad infinitum.
Daily life within an empire becomes a grotesque pageant wherein the collective aura of its citizenry oscillates between the manic and the grim, between cruelty and self-pity, from a reality-defiant belief in their victimhood to displays of bullying (also known as US foreign policy).
As noted, aggressors often view themselves as victims, and, in a manner, they are — withal, victims of their choice to surrender an independent mind to the soul-devouring machinery of a state and its cultural criteria that has grown monstrous. Their lives have merged with the dim beast, possessed of insatiable appetite, known as empire. After a while, the sum total of their knowledge of the world has been, exclusively, gathered from viewing the scenery within the belly of the US’s star-spangled leviathan.”
The rest is here, including several excerpts from poems by Federico García Lorca.
Updates: from wsws.org: ‘NATO summit escalates preparation for war with Russia’, Alex Lantier, 10 November 2017
And from RT today:
“On Thursday, RT America announced it will comply with the DOJ demand to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), but will continue to challenge it in court. The Committee to Protect Journalists stayed completely silent on the subject.
Comedian and former ‘Daily Show’ producer Jena Friedman, however, took up the slack and accused RT of attempting to “destroy” America’s “liberal democracy.” She also called comedians for RT America’s popular comedy-news show ‘Redacted Tonight’ “useful idiots.”
Media reacts. One asked why AIPAC isn’t required to register; how about The Times of Israel?