Well, whadaya know. The short, multi-topic analysis I shared with a few friends back on March 1st became, after a few emails, the first installment of a new weekly column—the latest regularly-featured column in the L.A. Progressive.
Here, in its second appearance, is "The Detangler." After this week, you'll find it as a regular feature each Wednesday. Each time, we'll cut through the Big Media BS with several brief topics. Mostly, we'll target important things that are being flippantly ignored, spun with an air of superiority, underreported with impunity, or otherwise manipulated (if they appear at all) in corporate mainstream media.
We live in a nation where over 90% of our major media is controlled by just six mega-giant corporations. Their "news divisions," as wholly-owned subsidiaries, are tools tasked with profitably supporting the agenda of the parent corporation. It is a horrifying and dangerous betrayal of the Fourth Estate and a betrayal of the public trust. Too often, the truth is painted into a corner or paved-over for the "story of the week." Moreover, much of the news is being obfuscated, diverted, propagandized, framed into purposefully warped contexts, cherry-picked to omit salient facts, or put on a convoluted path to produce a particular deductive conclusion.
Quite an indictment? It's warranted. We aim to consistently prove that, a little at a time, each week.
Our purpose can also be expressed in the resonant words of venerable American humorist and writer Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936): to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.
Our purpose can also be expressed in the resonant words of venerable American humorist and writer Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936): to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable. You may have heard that phrase applied to a few denizens of the pulpit, but Dunne was talking about newspapers when he first put it in the mouth of his character, Mr. Dooley. And yes, it was oft-voiced by those late icons of folk music, Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger, as each battled the tangles of social and economic injustices of their times.
Moreover, we'll confront things that are being authoritatively presented when that's being done without factual evidence. There is always a "narrative" in corporate mainstream media and too many elsewheres, and we'll call them out for it when it's necessary—and these days, that's all the time.
In short, we'll detangle. As always, we invite you to challenge us and let us know how we're doing.
Here are this week's topics.
The few, the proud, the... naked
Wednesday, March 8th, was International Women's Day. Here in the US, it's the nominal centerpiece of Women's History Month. If the day or month sound like something nice that will result in coworkers taking each other to lunch and sending flowers, consider the realities being faced by women, globally. Here in the US, where women earn 79 cents for every dollar men make, the ongoing struggle continues for equal pay for equal work. And there's career-ending motherhood, and more. Plus the following, in a profession where lives are on the line.
Hundreds of enlisted Marines are under investigation by the NCIS for posting thousands of nude photos of women Marines on a secret website, and on a Google drive used as a medium of exchange, and where it was revealed, on what's being called a "secret Facebook page." What's known so far is that intimidation and harassment played a role. The photos began to surface after women were first assigned to Camp Lejeune, NC, in early January. The male whistleblower, a civilian contractor who revealed it, has suffered death threats from within the military, directed at himself and his family, with some threats to brutally rape his wife.
USMC veteran Loretta Gabaldon told KNSD, San Diego's NBC channel 7 , "I think it undermines all of us female veterans who have fought, struggled and worked perilously to prove we belong... It contradicts all the core values that every Marine lives by... I hope that the Marine Corps or the DoD takes action... so this kind of behavior does not continue."
In the post-9/11 age of military personnel being lauded, de rigueur, as "our heroes" and the multiplicity of "NCIS" TV shows depicting honorable and righteous behavior reigning supreme in the military, most Americans are oblivious to the possibility of things being otherwise. After all, it's been more than 15 years since the "Tailhook" sexual exploitation scandal, in which more than 100 U.S. Navy and Marine Corps "Top Gun" aviation officers were alleged to have sexually assaulted 83 women and 7 men—though only a few were convicted of anything. An important 2013 New York Times story, with a video accompaniment, traced more than a decade of continued aberrant behavior in uniform including and since that scandal.
Yet it seems our society's expectations—of dignified treatment for the women among us who sacrifice personal freedom to serve in our military—still are not being met by those in command of individual units or bases.
"Cybersecurity" sounds better than "total theft of your privacy"
It's called "Vault 7," for the online name of the CIA insider who gathered and released information published on Tuesday by Wikileaks. It's touted as a record of "the entire hacking capacity of the CIA" and it's the biggest-ever trove of top secret CIA documents to see daylight. All are related either to cyberspying and hacking for the purposes of covertly getting information or to weaponizing something electronic through introduced malware that fools protection devices and programs. The documents reveal that the CIA can infiltrate any wifi-capable or online device commonly found in every American household. And it can make it look like someone else did it. The law prohibits CIA operations within the US directed at American citizens, but if this proves to be in use domestically—and it seems certain it is—this will become the agency's most egregious of its many known violations of the rights of ordinary American citizens.
When the news broke Tuesday, RT America gave it detailed coverage with live-on-air analysis by two former CIA agents and another from Britain's MI-6. On the broadcast networks' evening news Tuesday, only CBS made it the number-one story, though ABC's report, partway through their lineup, also took it seriously. But neither offered the meaningful insider expertise that RT had. Wednesday saw minimization by cable news and nothing on the front page of the L.A. Times.
By today, it may be sensationalized in Big Media's funhouse mirror, or spun by cable's cult-of-personality infotainment hosts to somehow be all about Trump's appointees or the dastardly Russians. Or it may be getting the cold shoulder in favor of some newly trumped-up scandal. So, we'll try to second-guess their coming coverage, or the lack of it, and offer some salient facts.
We'll start with the inconvenient truth, as background that was known before Tuesday but rarely reported by Big Media: US government intel agencies wiretapped 35 world leaders under President Obama, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, numerous prominent members of the Australian government, and the heads of state of other allies. And that was in addition to the shocking amount of still-ongoing cybersurveillance and data collection for sale, conducted daily by countless commercial enterprises and targeting ordinary American citizens—all of it known to, and some of it in conjunction with, our government's intel agencies.
Now, let's look at a few key points in the news that broke Tuesday.
Wikileaks' Vault 7 release is the first installment of their "Year Zero" plan to release covert documents that, in the words of founder Julian Assange, go "well beyond the choice between cyberwar and cyberpeace," and are "also exceptional from a political, legal and forensic perspective."
Vault 7 is 8,761 individual files, in the form of 7,818 formal documents plus 943 attachments, all of them bearing CIA identifications. And it's just one percent of the CIA documents Wikileaks has received, and will eventually release, on CIA activities that impact our privacy or world peace.
In great detail, we now know that the CIA has the ability to break into any smart phone, Android or Apple, and it's possible that 85% of the world's smart phones have already been implanted with CIA weaponized malware. Plus, they can use the flat screen TV in your home as a microphone, and enable any other web or signal-activated camera or microphone on any device, all without you knowing. In addition to obvious things like your phones, security cams and baby monitors, any "smart" device, from your hi-tech refrigerator to your thermostat to your laptop's camera, can be activated at will whether the device is seemingly unresponsive or functioning normally or in a "turned off" state.
The CIA was running its own in-house and unknown version of the NSA that has been escaping any government oversight, and has therefore been unaccountable outside the agency. Vault 7 reveals they can grab and read, see or hear any and all info from your phone, tablet, or other device, and encryption programs are no obstacle. They grab the data before it is encrypted for transmission, bypassing your peace-of-mind encoded security and the scrambled message apps you think are secure. They can alter the effectiveness of your Norton-Symantec or McAfee or Panda or any other malware detection program to make your safety net ignore whatever spyware has been remotely planted in your devices, and make it immune from updates you download from the anti-malware manufacturer.
It isn't clear if they have, or are working on, an ability to remotely take over various systems of any modern automobile, a capability that would enable changes in speed, render brakes useless, and produce undetectable assassinations.
There are many international dimensions. Vault 7's revelations of CIA spying on NATO-ally France and interference in French elections are being dubbed "a nuclear bombshell." And it seems the Stutznet virus, developed by the NSA and Israel's Mossad to destroy Iran's nuclear fuel centrifuges, has a lot of company in the CIA's arsenal of malware. That includes numerous weaponized spyware and malware programs developed by foreign governments, stolen by CIA hacking, and made ready for CIA use with embedded false-flag foreign fingerprints in place to scapegoat someone else.
Suddenly, all those allegations—repeatedly parroted by msm with no evidence—that foreign hacking determined the US election? They soon might be... explainable. And the stuff that made Trump sound like a raving lunatic a few days ago—those Tweets that his phones in Trump Tower had been bugged by the Obama Administration—don't sound quite as crazy.
Yet another US war in the Middle East, and...
The Pentagon confirmed Monday that Yasser al-Silmi, a former Guantanamo detainee who was released, was killed last week in a US airstrike on Yemen. Corporate mainstream media minimizes or ignores the rapidly increasing role of the US military in that country. If reported at all, such airstrikes or missile attacks by US Navy ships are labeled, without exception, as "strikes against terrorists."
"Terrorist" is also the consistent euphemism when msm reports the deaths of Yemeni civilians, including children, at the hands of the US. Or when civilians die at the hands of any US-backed rebel faction in Syria, or by the Iraqi army, or when they're killed anywhere by the Saudi military. Saudi Arabia, champion buyer of US- and British-made arms and "weapons systems," has been conducting a proxy war in Yemen on behalf of the US for years. It's part of the world's worst-kept secret, the decade-and-a-half-old US covert regional regime-change policy. If it's an Iraqi or Syrian or Israeli kid who gets wounded or killed, Big Media is all over it, parroting the Pentagon or State Department press release, sometimes verbatim. But all carnage is not equal. Dead Yemeni and Palestinian kids don't qualify for press releases, so they're omitted from msm coverage.
Fighting to overturn Citizens United? Get into action TODAY, Thursday
The crickets reign supreme in the Democratic Party when it comes to a constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College. Or to launch an autopsy to determine the real reasons for the 2016 election losses (like the Republicans' mea culpa after 2012). Or to do anything other than become the grumpy obstructionists they hated when the Republicans did it.
But, thanks in part to a key nonprofit organization, things are happening in the movement to overturn Citizens United. That group, American Promise, was founded in 2016 to propel and win passage of a 28th Amendment to the US Constitution. That amendment would assert, in the highest law of the land, that people—not money—govern America. The group calls itself "the fiercely cross-partisan, citizen-powered organization" built to win the amendment, and it wants "to set reasonable spending limits in American elections, reverse the damage of Citizens United v. FEC, and restore human liberty, equal citizenship, and responsible self-government."
This may be the only current progressive cause with victories to celebrate. So far, 18 states have passed resolutions for a 28th Amendment, and numerous states have similar legislative resolutions or statewide ballot initiatives in the works for their 2017-2018 cycles.
Today, Thursday, the organization is conducting a "Core Team Call" that's open to all who are interested in getting "into action" for the cause.
"Progress doesn't just happen on its own. It all starts with simple actions like a phone call, email, or letter to the editor," says spokesman Ben Gubits.
He adds, "That’s why we’re continuing to train and gear-up for the Citizen Uprising in every single state, and help give citizens like you the tools to either spark or sustain the movement in your own communities."
The group call is Thursday, March 9th, at 5:30 pm Pacific time.
To get the web address or number for your phone, register for the call here.
We recommend you register directly through the American Promise site, rather than using the offered options for Google, Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn, since social media sites spy on and sell to commercial interests the metadata and more about all you do while you're on them.
Gubits continues, regarding today's call, "A lot of people across the country feel like they want to make a difference right now, but don’t know where to start. This is the perfect opportunity to gather up a group and have a fun and impactful activism night together!"
We'll add that we received a nearly simultaneous appeal on Monday to sign a petition that will go to congress, asking for action to legislatively overturn Citizens United. It came in an email from Joe Kennedy III, a candidate for congress in Massachusetts.
The petition campaign Kennedy supports is being paid for by a who's-who list of old-line Democrats and a few young ones, all of whom hold or are seeking elective office: Blumenthal for Connecticut, Cory Booker for Senate, Bob Casey for U.S. Senate, Friends of Maria, Chris Coons for Delaware, Catherine Cortez Masto for Senate, Donnelly for Indiana, Gillibrand for Senate, Maggie for NH, Martin Heinrich for Senate, Heidi for Senate, Friends of Mazie Hirono, Kaine for Virginia, the Angus King for U.S. Senate Campaign, McCaskill for Missouri, Menendez for Senate, Peters for Michigan, the Reed Committee, Shaheen for Senate, Whitehouse for Senate, Friends of Don Beyer, Bonamici for Congress, Friends of Cheri Bustos, Tony Cárdenas for Congress, DeFazio for Congress, Himes for Congress, Joe Kennedy for Congress, Ruben Kihuen for Congress, Kuster for Congress, New Mexicans for Michelle, Grace for New York, Schneider for Congress, Kyrsten Sinema, The Committee to Elect Mike Stack, One Commonwealth PAC, CHC BOLD PAC, Democratic Action, Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, Democrats Win Seats PAC, End Citizens United, Equality PAC and Grassroots Victory PAC.
Ben Gubits and his "cross-partisan" American Promise will argue persuasively that this must transcend partisanship, and only a 28th Amendment will cure the problem. But, unless you want all your eggs in one basket, intermediate steps can't hurt. Here's the link for the petition being touted by Patrick Kennedy.
See you next week. Meantime, don't get tangled in "the narrative."