Posts by Russell Brown

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  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Ally Cat,

    CT 1: Islamic Terrorists hijacked a couple of commuter planes, flew them into the Towers, and that brought them down (for what purpose?)

    I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say “because they were terrorists”.

    Crazy, I know, compared to the proposal that it was all the work of a sprawling conspiracy among US government officials, air traffic controllers, airlines and many others to attack their own country and kill thousands of people yet still keep everything completely secret, but there you go.

    But “no doubt unmanned drones”. Jesus Christ: would you be willing to tell Alan Beaven’s wife and family you’ve just erased him?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Ally Cat,

    I just hope you realise that a conspiracy is a secret plan to do something illegal. No matter how “secret,” a plan to change the rules or the law by legitimate political means is not a conspiracy.

    No, a conspiracy need not break the law to be a conspiracy.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Rob Stowell,

    This wasn’t the year facts and old scandals and ‘baggage’ necessarily destroyed a candidate – however likely that was on past experience

    Maaaaaybe ... but it does underline the fact that Sanders basically hadn't been attacked, and regarding polls taken when the only information about him was positive as a guarantee is pretty perilous.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem,

    This interesting – and puts into context the claims that if only Bernie Sanders hadn't been done down by Clinton and her evil helpers at the DNC, he'd have waltzed in against Trump. Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek:

    Next, the infamous hack of DNC emails that “proved” the organization had its thumb on the scale for Clinton. Perhaps nothing has been more frustrating for people in the politics business to address, because the conspiracy is based on ignorance.

    Almost every email that set off the “rigged” accusations was from May 2016. (One was in late April; I’ll address that below.) Even in the most ridiculous of dream worlds, Sanders could not have possibly won the nomination after May 3—at that point, he needed 984 more pledged delegates, but there were only 933 available in the remaining contests. And political pros could tell by the delegate math that the race was over on April 19, since a victory would require him to win almost every single delegate after that, something no rational person could believe.

    Bust mostly:

    Here are a few tastes of what was in store for Sanders, straight out of the Republican playbook: He thinks rape is A-OK. In 1972, when he was 31, Sanders wrote a fictitious essay in which he described a woman enjoying being raped by three men. Yes, there is an explanation for it—a long, complicated one, just like the one that would make clear why the Clinton emails story was nonsense. And we all know how well that worked out.

    Then there’s the fact that Sanders was on unemployment until his mid-30s, and that he stole electricity from a neighbor after failing to pay his bills, and that he co-sponsored a bill to ship Vermont’s nuclear waste to a poor Hispanic community in Texas, where it could be dumped. You can just see the words “environmental racist” on Republican billboards. And if you can’t, I already did. They were in the Republican opposition research book as a proposal on how to frame the nuclear waste issue.

    Also on the list: Sanders violated campaign finance laws, criticized Clinton for supporting the 1994 crime bill that he voted for, and he voted against the Amber Alert system. His pitch for universal health care would have been used against him too, since it was tried in his home state of Vermont and collapsed due to excessive costs. Worst of all, the Republicans also had video of Sanders at a 1985 rally thrown by the leftist Sandinista government in Nicaragua where half a million people chanted, “Here, there, everywhere/the Yankee will die,’’ while President Daniel Ortega condemned “state terrorism” by America. Sanders said, on camera, supporting the Sandinistas was “patriotic.”

    The Republicans had at least four other damning Sanders videos (I don’t know what they showed), and the opposition research folder was almost 2-feet thick. (The section calling him a communist with connections to Castro alone would have cost him Florida.) In other words, the belief that Sanders would have walked into the White House based on polls taken before anyone really attacked him is a delusion built on a scaffolding of political ignorance.

    And ...

    According to a Western European intelligence source, Russian hackers, using a series of go-betweens, transmitted the DNC emails to WikiLeaks with the intent of having them released on the verge of the Democratic Convention in hopes of sowing chaos. And that’s what happened—just a couple of days before Democrats gathered in Philadelphia, the emails came out, and suddenly the media was loaded with stories about trauma in the party. Crews of Russian propagandists—working through an array of Twitter accounts and websites, started spreading the story that the DNC had stolen the election from Sanders. (An analysis provided to Newsweek by independent internet and computer specialists using a series of algorithms show that this kind of propaganda, using the same words, went from Russian disinformation sources to comment sections on more than 200 sites catering to liberals, conservatives, white supremacists, nutritionists and an amazing assortment of other interest groups.) The fact that the dates of the most controversial emails—May 3, May 4, May 5, May 9, May 16, May 17, May 18, May 21—were after it was impossible for Sanders to win was almost never mentioned, and was certainly ignored by the propagandists trying to sell the “primaries were rigged” narrative.

    And before anyone starts to delegitimise Eichenwald, bear in mind that he's the guy who investigated Enron (and then wrote the book) and who busted a multi-billion fraud against consumers in the insurance industry, among other things. He's had the odd slip-up, but he's a hell of a journalist.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Tom Burleigh,

    I’m talking about writers like the Daily Beast’s Michael Weiss – a ‘Russia expert’ who doesn’t even speak Russian, who pivoted to being a Syria expert.

    I know Weiss is a perennial hate figure for the "anti imperialist" Left – but as editor of The Interpreter, which translates, and republishes Russian news, he performs a valuable role.

    ,q>This guy is a fellow of the Atlantic Council – which receives money from the Turkish Army, Turkish Petroleum and Saudi Arabia. </q>

    That sounds really terrible, until you go and look at the honour roll of contributors and discover that the government of Sweden, the Carnegie Foundation , Thomson Reuters and the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions are all contributors on the same tier as the Turkish Ministry of Energy & National Resources – which itself is on the list because it was a sponsor for the AC Energy and Economic Summi,, which was held in Istanbul in November last year. (It wasn't exactly a Big Oil fest – one of the keynotes was the European Commission Climate Action commissioner.)

    Yes, that does sound less alarming than picking a handful of donors out of a list of hundreds (the Council has begun listing every donor over $250, which is welcome – think tanks do need an eye kept on them). Indeed, one could equally say that the Council "takes money" from such evil interests as Penguin Random House, the Open Source Policy Center and LexisNexis, and it would feel pretty different. The Council's biggest donor is the philanthropist Adrienne Arsht, who is best-known for her support of performing arts projects and funding programmes to help Hispanic and disabled young people.

    I know Global Research will tell you different – but RationalWiki's assessment of Global Research and its countless conspiracy theories (from Jews to vaccines) is a bracing read.

    Honestly, this happens every single time I follow up these statements – they never add up to the claim made.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Tom Burleigh,

    I’ve been hard on Russell on Twitter in the run-up to the election. It has been hard watching people on the NZ left re-tweet writers who are egging on war with Syria.

    This is just a meaningless statement. No one is “egging on war with Syria”. As recently as September, the US reached agreement with Assad and the Russians to focus on Isis and al-Nusrah. Syria agreed to cease bombing defined civilian areas. It fell apart when Assad and Russia rained hell down on Aleppo.

    See Amnesty International: Syrian and Russian forces targeting hospitals as a strategy of war and this, also from Amnesty:

    The Syrian government, with Russia’s support, has without a doubt used air power to deliberately inflict suffering on civilians, routinely bombing densely populated civilian areas and buildings. For several years, there’s been a clear pattern of government bombardment as a means of punishing populations in areas controlled by the armed opposition. But there is more to it than that. Over the past year, Amnesty International has documented a pattern of deliberate attacks on hospitals in the north of Aleppo governorate in what appears to be part of a military strategy to empty towns and villages of residents, in order to pave the way for ground forces to advance.

    It is this same strategy that Syrian government forces are now using to gain control of Aleppo city. The city’s besiegement – coupled with the impotence of the UN Security Council and others – has empowered Russia and the Syrian government to attack civilians with impunity and leave only one option for Aleppo residents to escape the horror – forcing them to evacuate to government-controlled areas. Once the city is emptied of people, the government can seize control and claim victory. It did this last month too in Daraya, near Damascus, which the remaining inhabitants reluctantly agreed to completely evacuate after four years of brutal siege and bombardment.

    One of the most despicable things that people kept linking me to was the Pilger screed in which he twisted all kinds of facts to depict the FSA as no different to Isis and basically characterised the bombing of Aleppo as taking out the trash. Fuck him and every other apologist for what’s happening. Fuck them and their undying love affair with former Communist strongmen.

    It isn’t just loons who see a no fly zone as the beginning of a war against Russia.

    I didn’t see how Clinton’s idea would work. But that’s not the same as “starting World War III’. And saying so is just reciting words.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to DeepRed,

    So it’s an organised form of Google-bombing.

    Yeah. And while liberals were busy Google-bombing Trump so that a search for "wankpuffin" delivered Trump results, the Russians were doing something a bit more focused.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: The fake news problem, in reply to Andrew R266,

    Credible fact check sites are to be preferred to relying on MSM which reports $100,000 bottles of wine and “soft” interviews of Honest John, etc.

    The Herald's failure to own the bottle-of-wine debacle was lamentable. But it's the same Herald that employs Kirsty Johnston, Matt Nippert and others. Blanket dismissals of the "MSM" are part of the problem.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: #eqnz: Okay?, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I also note that The Herald and TV1 news tonight both have trouble spelling Hanmer Springs correctly in captions and headings.

    Yeah, we noticed that too. Arrgh.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: From Zero: Weed, in reply to Prudence,

    Thanks Prudence! It's actually a fairly demanding gig but I'm loving it.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 21562 posts Report Reply

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