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Sat, 07 Dec 2019
The World for People who Think


Camp Bucca, Abu Ghraib and the Rise of Extremism in Iraq

Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi

Video stills (cropped) of Abu Bakr al-Bagdhadi and of a soldier torturing a prisoner at Abu Ghraib
Yesterday morning, President Trump announced the death of Abu Bakr Al- Baghdadi and three of his children.

President Trump said Al-Baghdadi, the founder of ISIS, was fleeing U.S. military forces, in a tunnel, and then killed himself by detonating a suicide vest he wore.

In 2004, Al-Baghdadi had been captured by U.S. forces and, for ten months, imprisoned in both Abu Ghraib and Camp Bucca.

I visited Camp Bucca in January, 2004 when, still under construction, the Camp was a network of tents, south of Basra, in an isolated, miserable area of Iraq.

Mr. Potato

Something BIG Has Happened! Or Has it?

Situation Room with Trump
© The Drive
The Dissembler-in-Chief took to Twitter this past weekend to let the world know that "Something very big has just happened!" We now know that that something was a daring special forces raid that ended in the death of Osama bin Laden! . . . Or is that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi? Or maybe Abu Omar al-Baghdadi? No, no, it was Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi! Honest! We took DNA evidence before we threw him in the sea! Find out about the unlikely story of Baghdadi's umpteenth death in this timely edition of The Corbett Report podcast.

For those with limited bandwidth, CLICK HERE to download a smaller, lower file size version of this episode.

For those interested in audio quality, CLICK HERE for the highest-quality version of this episode (WARNING: very large download).

Comment: We live in clownworld.

Eye 2

They Live, We Sleep

"You see them on the street. You watch them on TV. You might even vote for one this fall. You think they're people just like you. You're wrong. Dead wrong." — They Live
They Live
© The LiveWired
We're living in two worlds, you and I.

There's the world we see (or are made to see) and then there's the one we sense (and occasionally catch a glimpse of), the latter of which is a far cry from the propaganda-driven reality manufactured by the government and its corporate sponsors, including the media.

Indeed, what most Americans perceive as life in America — privileged, progressive and free — is a far cry from reality, where economic inequality is growing, real agendas and real power are buried beneath layers of Orwellian doublespeak and corporate obfuscation, and "freedom," such that it is, is meted out in small, legalistic doses by militarized police armed to the teeth.

All is not as it seems.

This is the premise of John Carpenter's film They Live, which was released more than 30 years ago, and remains unnervingly, chillingly appropriate for our modern age.

Best known for his horror film Halloween, which assumes that there is a form of evil so dark that it can't be killed, Carpenter's larger body of work is infused with a strong anti-authoritarian, anti-establishment, laconic bent that speaks to the filmmaker's concerns about the unraveling of our society, particularly our government.

Time and again, Carpenter portrays the government working against its own citizens, a populace out of touch with reality, technology run amok, and a future more horrific than any horror film.

In Escape from New York, Carpenter presents fascism as the future of America.

In The Thing, a remake of the 1951 sci-fi classic of the same name, Carpenter presupposes that increasingly we are all becoming dehumanized.

In Christine, the film adaptation of Stephen King's novel about a demon-possessed car, technology exhibits a will and consciousness of its own and goes on a murderous rampage.

In In the Mouth of Madness, Carpenter notes that evil grows when people lose "the ability to know the difference between reality and fantasy."

And then there is Carpenter's They Live, in which two migrant workers discover that the world is not as it seems. In fact, the population is actually being controlled and exploited by aliens working in partnership with an oligarchic elite. All the while, the populace — blissfully unaware of the real agenda at work in their lives — has been lulled into complacency, indoctrinated into compliance, bombarded with media distractions, and hypnotized by subliminal messages beamed out of television and various electronic devices, billboards and the like.


U.S. Military Could Collapse Within 20 Years Due to Climate Change, Report Commissioned by Pentagon Says

The report says a combination of global starvation, war, disease, drought, and a fragile power grid could have cascading, devastating effects
uncle sam climate change
© Calvin Shen / Vice
According to a new U.S. Army report, Americans could face a horrifically grim future from climate change involving blackouts, disease, thirst, starvation and war. The study found that the US military itself might also collapse. This could all happen over the next two decades, the report notes.

The senior US government officials who wrote the report are from several key agencies including the Army, Defense Intelligence Agency, and NASA. The study called on the Pentagon to urgently prepare for the possibility that domestic power, water, and food systems might collapse due to the impacts of climate change as we near mid-century.

The report was commissioned by General Mark Milley, Trump's new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, making him the highest-ranking military officer in the country (the report also puts him at odds with Trump, who does not take climate change seriously.)

Comment: Again, that is not the root cause.

It's interesting that some at the Pentagon are at least aware that they ought to be preparing for the worst.

As we can see, however, between now and then, they'll be unable to resist the temptation to interfere in others' affairs and put hegemony before national security.

Russian Flag

Russiagate's First Survivor: The Harsh Education of Maria Butina

maria butina social media collage
© Maria Butina/Facebook
Maria Butina
As a foreign student eager to bring American values to your home, you'd normally be a darling of US media and NGOs. Unless your name is Maria Butina, that is - then your fate is Russia conspiracy theories, media smears and jail.

Your story begins like a movie: A twenty-something from "flyover country," going to Moscow to advocate for what Americans consider a basic constitutional right, but which has been curtailed for almost a century. Frustrated by the political and social opposition, you move to the US to study - at American University in Washington, DC, can't get more American than that! - and seek out members and officials of the biggest US advocacy group for your cause.

You post photos of yourself in a cowboy hat at their conventions in the heartland and tell tall tales to your fellow students in an effort to be cool and fit in.

SOTT Logo Radio

MindMatters: Halloween Special: Oh the Horror! Why Do People Like Getting Scared?

halloween special
It's that time of year again: when All Saints's Day, the Day of the Dead, and Halloween come around and our propensity to view or read some horror becomes that much more likely. But why do we indulge in horrific stories year around? Or better put - why do we seem to enjoy horror? What is it about horror, which can be so unpleasant - yet makes people crave a dose of the willies from time to time? Is the viewing or reading of it cathartic? A reminder of something intrinsic to the human experience? Can it even be healthy in a way? Or is it just morbid fascination? Maybe all of the above?

This week on MindMatters we take a look at some of our favorite scary books and movies and, in an effort to answer the questions posed, get into those stories and ideas that we find truly frightening; a top 5 more or less. We'll also be sharing some of our own scary experiences, and seeing what, if anything about them, has brought value to our lives and a greater understanding of the world in which we live.

Running Time: 01:34:14

Download: MP3 — 86.3 MB

Cowboy Hat

'Lucky' Trump Basks in Glory of Russia's Landmark Security Achievement in Syria

trump speech
Russia has pulled off an impressive security deal to avoid escalation of violence and war in Syria. It's a win-win formula for peace, drawn up by Russia and Turkey. Arguably, the luckiest beneficiary is US President Donald Trump.

Although, you wouldn't think that listening to Trump's trumpeting about the latest ceasefire, worked out by Russia and Turkey. The American leader arrogated all praise for the peace accord as being "an outcome created by us, the United States... No other nation did this."

In Trump's vainglory, he reckons his dubious policy shift earlier this month, which many saw as a shameful betrayal of the Kurds, was the precursor for the Sochi memorandum creating a new peace corridor in northeast Syria, to be overseen by Russia, Turkey, and Syrian state forces.

It's like someone who throws down a basket of eggs. Then, when someone else comes along and somehow turns the mess into an omelette, the original wrecker slaps himself on the back for being a gourmet chef.


SJWs as Bourgeois Bolshies: Book Review of 'The House of Government'

soviet pride poster LGBT
© designboom.com
I'm reading one of the best books I've ever seen, historian Yuri Slezkine's The House of Government: A Saga of the Russian Revolution. It's a massive — over 1,000 pages — history of the Bolshevik movement, focusing on the people who lived in a vast apartment building constructed across the Moskva River from the Kremlin, for party elites. In the 1930s, during the purges, it was the most dangerous address in the country. The secret police came for people there all the time.

The book has given me a breakthrough in understanding why so many people who grew up under communism are unnerved by what's going on in the West today, even if they can't all articulate it beyond expressing intense but inchoate anxiety about political correctness. Reading Slezkine, a UC-Berkeley historian, clarifies things immensely. Let me explain as concisely as I can. All of this is going into the book I'm working on, by the way.

In my book, I identify two main factors that make the "soft totalitarianism" we're drifting into different from the hard totalitarianism of the communist years. One is the vastly greater capabilities of surveillance technology, and its penetration into daily life in this current stage of capitalism. The other is the pseudo-religion of Social Justice, the holy trinity of which is Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion. The mathematician James Lindsay last year wrote an insightful essay analyzing Social Justice ideology as a kind of postmodern religion ("faith system," he writes). Reading Slezkine on Bolshevism illuminates this with new depth.


Vladimir Putin, Syria's Pacifier-in-Chief

Russia-Turkey deal establishes 'safe zone' along Turkish border and there will be joint Russia-Turkey military patrols
putin erdogan sochi

The negotiations in Sochi were long - over six hours - tense and tough. Two leaders in a room with their interpreters and several senior Turkish ministers close by if advice was needed. The stakes were immense: a road map to pacify northeast Syria, finally.

The press conference afterwards was somewhat awkward - riffing on generalities. But there's no question that in the end Russian President Vladimir Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan managed the near-impossible.

The Russia-Turkey deal establishes a safe zone along the Syrian-Turkish border - something Erdogan had been gunning for since 2014. There will be joint Russia-Turkey military patrols. The Kurdish YPG (People's Protection Units), part of the rebranded, US-aligned Syrian Democratic Forces, will need to retreat and even disband, especially in the stretch between Tal Abyad and Ras al-Ayn, and they will have to abandon their much-cherished urban areas such as Kobane and Manbij. The Syrian Arab Army will be back in the whole northeast. And Syrian territorial integrity - a Putin imperative - will be preserved.

Comment: As we suspected, the Turkish 'invasion' of northeastern Syria last month was more like an incursion done with a view to stimulating Syrian-Kurdish cooperation, presenting Trump with a problem if American troops got caught in the crossfire.

Trump probably saw through the ruse, but to his credit he played along with it and spun US troops' withdrawal from the border region into a 'win' in terms of his electoral promise to 'end endless wars'.

Trump can claim all the credit if he wants, but everyone knows there's only one peacemaker...
Putin peacemaker
© dailystar
Putin banner that says 'Peacemaker' hangs over Manhattan Bridge, New York, 6 Oct, 2016

Heart - Black

Only Cowards, Sadists And Sellouts Support The Persecution of Assange

assange court
© Matt Dunham/Associated Press
Julain Assange is taken from court, where he appeared on charges of jumping bail seven years ago, in London.
Former British ambassador Craig Murray has published a very disturbing account of Julian Assange's court appearance yesterday which I recommend reading in full. There have been many reports published about Assange's case management hearing, but the combination of Murray's prior experience with torture victims, his familiarity with British courts, his friendship with Assange, and his lack of reverence for western power structures allowed for a much more penetrating insight into what happened than anyone else has been able to provide so far.

Here is a small excerpt:

Comment: Ruptly (again) managed to get more footage of Assange, this time inside a paddywagon transporting him from court back to prison: