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Al Jazeera Investigations – The Lobby P1

No Conflict Here: 150 Wall Street Firms Own Over $1.5 Billion of Donald Trump’s Debt

Posted on Jan 5, 2017

By Lauren McCauley / Common Dreams

  While concerns over Trump’s conflicts of interest continue to mount, the president-elect has thus far failed to resolve the issue. (d_pham / Flickr)(CC-BY)

As many suspected, President-elect Donald Trump’s web of business conflicts is much more complicated than he has let on.

An analysis by the Wall Street Journal published Thursday found that the incoming president owes at least $1.85 billion in debt to as many as 150 Wall Street firms and other financial institutions.

According to the examination of legal and property documents, “Hundreds of millions of dollars of debt attached to Mr. Trump’s properties, some of them backed by Mr. Trump’s personal guarantee, were packaged into securities and sold to investors over the past five years,” thus “broadening the tangle of interests that pose potential conflicts for the incoming president’s administration.”

In May, Trump filed documents with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) that disclosed $315 million owed to 10 companies—but that only included debts for companies that Trump completely controls, “excluding more than $1.5 billion lent to partnerships that are 30 percent owned by him,” WSJ reported.

“As a result,” wrote WSJ reporters Jean Eaglesham and Lisa Schwartz, “a broader array of financial institutions now are in a potentially powerful position over the incoming president.”

Put more directly, as Think Progress’s Judd Legum did: “As president, Trump will be responsible for regulating entities that he also owes money to.”

In one troubling example, the investigation found that Wells Fargo, currently under investigation for a years-long banking fraud scandal, “runs at least five mutual funds that own portions of Trump businesses’ securitized debt;” is “a trustee or administrator for pools of securitized loans that include $282 million of loans to Mr. Trump;” and “acts as a special servicer for $950 million of loans to a property that one of Mr. Trump’s companies partly owns.”

“Once he takes office,” Eaglesham and Schwartz observed, “Mr. Trump will appoint the heads of many of the regulators that police the bank.”

The spread of Trump’s debt can in large part be attributed to the process known as “securitization,” when debt is repackaged into bonds and sold off. More than $1 billion of debt connected to the president-elect has been handled in this way.

While concerns over Trump’s conflicts of interest continue to mount, the president-elect has thus far failed to address the issue. Despite warnings from ethics attorneys, he has refused to divest his business holdings, though there were reports that he would hand the reins of the real estate empire over to his sons and advisors, Donald Jr. and Eric. At the same time, a December press conference was postponed and is now scheduled for Jan. 11—the same day as some of his more controversial appointees’ confirmation hearings.

source

Obama out

Liberation: Acre and the End of the Crusades

http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/the-crusades-an-arab-perspective/2016/12/liberation-fall-acre-crusades-161225103519869.html

The Crusades: An Arab Perspective’ is a four-part documentary series telling the dramatic story of the crusades seen through Arab eyes, from the seizing of Jerusalem under Pope Urban II in 1099, to its recapture by Salah Ed-Din (also known as Saladin), Richard the Lionheart’s efforts to regain the city, and the end of the holy wars in 1291. Part one looked at the First Crusade and the conquest of Jerusalem. In part two, we explored the birth of the Muslim revival in the face of the crusades. Part three examined the Battle of Hattin, Saladin’s siege of Jerusalem and the Third Crusade. And the final episode tells the story of the Muslim liberation of the Holy Land and the end of the crusades.  

In 1193, Salah Ed-Din Al-Ayoubi, known in the west as Saladin, fell ill and died, leaving the Ayyubid dynasty in disarray. Six years earlier, he had defeated the Christian forces in the Battle of Hattin and opened the way to the liberation of Jerusalem.

“The successors of Salah Ed-Din ruled over Egypt, the Levant and Iraq. But they failed miserably, unlike the founder of their family. Salah Ed-Din had gained his legitimacy, and that of his state, by embracing the project of defending the Islamic nation and its sanctities against crusaders. His successors relied on a policy of reaction. They never took positive action, relying instead on peace initiatives,” explains Qassem Abdu Qassem, head of history department, Zaqaziq University.

Pope Innocent thought the Islamic world was a snake that can only be killed if its head was chopped off. The head of the Islamic world, right up to the present day, is Egypt. If Egypt could be crushed, the whole Islamic world would fall apart.

Afaf Sabra, professor of history, Al-Azhar University

The First Crusade, a century earlier, had succeeded in establishing four Christian enclaves in the Levant and, above all, in the capture of Jerusalem. The Second and Third Crusades, each led by powerful and famous European monarchs, had ended in abject failure.

By the end of the 12th century, after 100 years of Muslim fightback, the territory under crusader control was reduced to a tiny coastal strip in the Levant. The crusaders were forced to adapt and revise their targets.

“Pope Innocent III called for a crusade to atone for the failure of the Third Crusade, but the campaign could not secure a means of transport,” says Abdu Qassem.

“The main army hired the Venetians in 1202 to ship them to the east. They couldn’t afford to pay the Venetians the fee that they had agreed,” adds Christopher Tyerman, Hertford College, Oxford University.

So instead of heading towards Palestine and Egypt, the crusaders landed in Constantinople in 1204 – and sacked it.

“This is a remarkable thing for a crusade to have done. To have sacked the greatest Christian city in the world. It provoked outrage across many parts of the west, of course in the Greek world, too. And interestingly, one contemporary Greek writer says ‘look, when Saladin recovered Jerusalem what did he do? He spared the Christians and what have you done? You Christians, you have taken a Christian city and you have killed Christians. You should follow the example of Saladin. He was superior to you in the way that he behaved here,” explains Jonathan Phillips, professor of history, University of London.

“Innocent III. was a pope obsessed with crusading. He inherited the failure of the Third Crusade to recover Jerusalem and the Fourth Crusade that he launched that captured Constantinople, the great Christian city. He tried to inspire yet another expedition that we know as the Fifth Crusade and this was designed to go through Egypt and use the fertility of the Nile and the wealth of Cairo to have the resources to then recover Jerusalem,” says Phillips.

What does Crusade mean today?

In 1218, the crusaders finally found their way to the Nile Delta. The armies of the Fifth Crusade landed in Egypt and captured the port of Damietta. For three years, the crusaders made no move to advance southwards towards Cairo. But when they finally did, their move would prove disastrous.

“This went down in history as a failed crusade due to the flooding of the Nile and the fact that the crusaders had no clue what happens to Egypt during the flood season, how hard it would be for the horses to move on such wet land. All these reasons caused the crusade to fail and achieve absolutely nothing,” says Afaf Sabra, professor of history, Al-Azhar University.

Meanwhile, the three Ayyubid brothers were engaged in deep infighting. And one of them, Al-Kamel, the ruler of Egypt, took an infamous decision. He decided to seek an alliance with the Holy Roman emperor, Fredrick II . Fredrick helped Al-Kamel and in return, was given the keys to Jerusalem in 1229. This came to be known as the Sixth Crusade.

“An excommunicated king [Frederick II.] realised the ultimate aim of the pope’s crusader project. Ironically, he came with a small fleet and 300 knights and entered Jerusalem without shedding a single drop of blood,” says Abdu Qassem.

Frederick II had managed to take Jerusalem, but 15 years later, in 1244, Jerusalem was reconquered and thereafter would remain under Muslim rule for the next seven centuries.

In 1218, the armies of the Fifth Crusade landed in Egypt and captured the port of Damietta [Getty Images]

The ‘Knights Templar of Islam’

“The idea of conquering Egypt was still firmly planted in the mind of the pope. It did not change and he was adamant Egypt should be the target. The man who would fulfil this idea for the papacy would be the king of France, Louis IX,” says Sabra.

The king’s army marched towards Egypt through Damietta, but “Louis had learned nothing from the failure of the Fifth Crusade and ignored Egypt’s geography. The Seventh Crusade also faced a new class of opponent. Muslim historians called them the ‘Knights Templar of Islam.’ They were the Mamluks. They were likened to the Knights Templar, the veteran crusader soldiers,” says Sabra.

RELATED: The legacy of the crusades in contemporary Muslim world

According to Mahmoud Hassanain, professor of Islamic Arts, Cairo University, “the Ayyubid military forces relied on new troops drawn from the white slaves bought from Central Asia. They were brought up in Egypt and given a military and religious education.”

Retracing the path of the Fifth Crusade, Louis IX led the armies of the Seventh Crusade south from Damietta towards Cairo, and was eventually defeated and taken prisoner in 1250 by the Mamluks in a spot called Al-Mansoura, meaning “the victorious.”

The year 1250 not only marked the Ayyubid victory over the Seventh Crusade, but also the end of the Ayyubid dynasty.

Bolstered by their strength and number, the Mamluks, the slave warriors, rose up to overthrow Salah Ed-Din’s successors and take control of their masters’ state.

“This emerging force faced a greater threat than crusaders: the Mongols. They’d swept across the known world. The Muslim world was destined to face the spearhead of that force, Hulagu Khan. He sacked Baghdad in 1258 and put an end to the Abbasid Caliphate. Baghdad succumbed and so did the Muslim caliphate. That was the ultimate test for this newborn force,” explains Sabra.

After destroying Baghdad, Hulagu Khan advanced westwards, and two years later, and with the help of the crusaders in the Levant, he captured Aleppo and Damascus. The only Muslim power remaining in the region was the Mamluks in Egypt.

The Mongols swept across the Muslim world, putting an end to the Abbasid Caliphate [Getty Images]

The Battle of Ain Jalut and the fall of Acre

The Mamluk sultan, Saif Ed-Din Qutuz, defeated the Mongol army in the battle of Ain Jalut in 1260 in Palestine, legitimising the Mamluk state.

By the time Antioch falls to the Mamluks in the late 13th century, the Frankish states are pretty weak. Antioch itself is not the great principality the great power that it had been during the 12th century. That really does spell the end for the crusaders.

Jonathan Phillips, professor of history, University of London

“This battle opened the door for the Mamluks to enter history. Shortly after the battle, Qutuz was killed and Baibars became sultan. The Sultanate of Baibars is considered the real start of the Mamluk state,” says Sabra.

Sultan Baibars made it his mission to capture all the crusaders’ citadels on the road between Cairo and the Levant, which he did before annexing Antioch.

“By the time Antioch falls to the Mamluks in the late 13th century, the Frankish states are pretty weak. Antioch itself is not the great principality, the great power that it had been during the 12th century. That really does spell the end for the crusaders,” says Phillips.

Sultan Baibars was succeeded by Mamluk sultan Al-Mansour Qalawun who took over Tripoli in 1289.

“If Baibars destroyed 50 percent of the crusaders’ force, Qalawun smashed 40 percent of what remained. What did Europe do in response? It didn’t send a single soldier,” says Mahmoud Imran, professor of European medieval history.

In the late 13th century, several European states emerged as sovereign nations with their own challenges and agendas.

Setting off for Acre, the last crusader stronghold in the Holy Land, Sultan Qalawun’s army headed to the Levant, but as soon he reached the outskirts of the city, he fell ill. On his deathbed, he appointed his son, Al-Ashraf Khalil, as his successor.

Subsequently, in April 1291, after a six-week-long siege, Acre fell to the Mamluk sultan, Al-Ashraf Khalil.

“The crusaders fought hard, not heroically… They fought ferociously because they failed to recognise the moment to leave had arrived,” says Muhammad Moenes Awad, professor of history at Sharjah University.

With the fall of Acre, the crusades came to an end after almost two centuries of bloodshed.

The crusades ended centuries ago, but the impact of this chapter of history lives on, and is very much alive in the modern world. In fact, for hundreds of years, the struggle has continued in the very same lands with Jerusalem at its heart.

Source: Al Jazeera

Down the Alt-Right’s Syrian Rabbit Hole

How a Chemical Attack in 2013 set the Stage for Trump’s Post-Truth Presidency, and How We Can Fight Back.

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On August 21st 2013 rumors of a massive chemical attack in Eastern Ghouta, a rebel held suburb of Damascus began to emerge. A series of now famous videos which showed victims laid out on the floor shaking were uploaded. Over the next few day fragmentary details of a major sarin gas attack began to emerge in the western media. As  journalists started putting the pieces together an Austin based conspiracy theorist named Alex Jones went on air to present his own version of events with absolute certainty.

In retrospect the August 23rd episode of “The Alex Jones Show” is worth re watching, because it was a chilling precursor to the alt right movement that would shape how Donald Trump sees the world. Between segments hawking survivalist and pseudo medical products, listeners called in to speak with Jones. One caller ranted about fears that Obamacare death panels would kill his grandmother, Jones suggested Obama’s Muslim background made him a bad dog owner and a segment about the inappropriate conduct of the Clinton foundation ran (remember this was during the summer of 2013).

Read full article here

(TYT) Carl Paladino : Michelle Obama Should Live In Africa With Apes

Carl Paladino was the chairman of Donald Trump’s campaign in New York. Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, breaks it down. Tell us what you think in the comment section below. https://www.tytnetwork.com/go

Russia and the Syrian Regime are Documenting Their Own Crimes

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In the era of “fake news,” Russian hacking, and “post truth presidency,” it can be hard to discern fact from fiction and propaganda from reporting. Over the past few years the smear and bullshit industry has been kicked into overdrive by state actors invested in spreading misinformation.

Propaganda is nothing new but as America comes to grips with the role of Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election via hacks and so-called “fake news”, many are wondering what, if anything, can be done to counter these increasingly toxic and advanced strains of misinformation. Most worrying is the fact that US president elect Donald Trump seems to be a voracious consumer of fake information, at the expense of US intelligence agencies and other more rational observers.

This seemingly insurmountable challenge has left lawmakers scratching their heads, considering countermeasures and toying with the absolutely unacceptable notion of censorship. For those of us who oppose censorship but are still terrified by the plague of bullshit there is good news. Simply put, the best cure for Russian propaganda is Russian propaganda.

Nowhere is this problem more apparent than in the Syrian war, which despite being one of the most recorded conflicts in history, is still the subject of a massive amount of orchestrated disinformation. As the evacuation of Aleppo kicks off Russia and the Syrian regime are franticly pushing to control the narrative through selective reporting and ad hominem attacks. Pro Regime outlets, Russian TV as well as some western apologists have consistently tried to downplay or obfuscate the reports of mass atrocities taking place in Syria. One of the most obvious propaganda tactics has been to attack the credibility of rescue workers and try to debunk evidence of indiscriminate airstrikes.

Fortunately, the disinformation frequently discredits itself.

In the wake of an airstrike against a UN SARC convoy earlier this year Russian television claimed that Russian forces did not know the location of the convoy and that no airstrike had taken place. Yet they also showed Russian drone footage of a rebel mortar being driven past the very convoy. Russians can’t have been unaware of the convoys location while simultaneously tracking it for proof that it was somehow a legitimate target. The UN subsequently provided satellite evidence that showed that indeed airstrikes had taken place.

Russia and the Syrian regime have claimed that they don’t target civilians yet they have dropped leaflets over Aleppo which threaten the population with extermination if they remain in their city.

There has also been an obsession with discrediting civilian voices coming out of Aleppo. Russia Today and InTheNow have both aired videos over the past 72 hours calling into question the validity of activists tweeting videos out of Aleppo, blatantly asserting that they themselves are part of a misinformation campaign. The implication has been that the activists are somehow linked to the west or are not in Aleppo.

The most startling example of this has been the campaign to discredit the twitter account run jointly by the seven year old Bana Alabed and her mother Fatimeh, from inside Aleppo. During a segment featuring RT’s Anissa Naouai for the Russian funded InTheNow tried to discredit Bana’s and other Syrian’s twitter accounts and pleas for help “it almost looks like a coordinated PR campaign.”  This regardless of the fact that many journalists have been in direct contact in Bana and her mother and Bellingcat’s Eliot Higgins has used geolocation to prove Bana’s precise location in Aleppo.

A subsequent RT segment featuring Murad Gazdiev attacked Alabed’s parents, “for all their concern for Bana’s wellbeing instead of fleeing east Aleppo the parents chose to take Bana deeper into rebel territory.” Gazdiev went on to try and discredit the notion that Bana’s family could have access to internet “the odd thing is how Bana’s parents seem to have a constant internet connection.” Gazdiev claims that while he was in government controlled Aleppo there was no internet yet Bana was still tweeting.

Of course tweets from RT’s own correspondents show that there is internet in Aleppo and anyone who has been to rebel controlled Aleppo knows that there are ways to stay online. Finally after complaining about being blocked by Bana and questioning why she would be “up at 2am,” Gazdiev did acknowledge that she is “a real girl in Aleppo being used as a tool in a war she probably doesn’t understand.” In other words Russian propaganda discredited Russian propaganda, Bana is real and in Aleppo, and Russia knows it.

One of the most frequent targets of disinformation and smear attacks has been Syria’s lauded Civil Defense group known as the “White Helmets.” Attacks from Russian outlets and apologists have been relentless. In a press conference held along with Syria’s UN delegation a Canadian blogger named Eva Bartlett claimed that no one had ever heard of the White Helmets in East Aleppo

Unfortunately for Eva Bartlett and Russia’s disinfo narrative RT also ran a segment where surrendered civilians—undoubtedly in a position where they could be coerced by nearby regime soldiers—claimed that the White Helmets were notorious thieves known to everyone. RT has also claimed that the White Helmets abandon civilians under the rubble. This is what Freud called the logic of dreams. The White Helmets which RT says don’t exist have been behaving terribly according to RT.

The fact checking website Snopes was so appalled by Bartlett’s dishonesty that they weighed on her false assertions that victims were being “recycled” and that Al Quds hospital cannot have been struck on two separate occasions.

The Syrian military itself is also a great source of corroborating information. Earlier this year after the White Helmets were struck in an attack, the Syrian armed forces posted a screen grab on their official Facebook page taking credit for the attack and boasting about “tearing apart” civil defense, yet regime and Russian outlets continued to deny targeting the group.

On Saturday the famous and beloved Syrian doctor Salem Abualnaser posted a powerful video from the roof of Al Quds hospital in Eastern Aleppo, showing the destruction around him explaining to the world why he chose to join the demonstrations in his home city of Tartus back in 2011 and why he is still in Aleppo. The subtext of this message makes it one of the most poignant pieces of footage filmed since the war began.

For several years the Assads themselves have been a great source of information on their own human rights abuses and lies. When the image of a shell shocked five year old, Omran Daqneesh in the back of an ambulance following a regime or Russian strike was seen across the world, Bashar Assad promptly dismissed the image as a fabrication during an interview with Swiss media.

His wife Asma al Assad, however, had a different take,when she was questioned about the photo she did not dispute it’s authenticity. The Assad regime likewise has often claimed to be fighting ISIS in Aleppo, yet pro regime accounts consistently post images of dead fighters in Aleppo affiliated with other groups.

The regime has also dismissed all evidence that it is conducting mass displacement in communities like Daraya as propaganda, yet Syrian state television broadcast images of Bashar Assad visiting a completely bombed out and empty Daraya where he bragged “we have come here to replace the fake freedom which they tried to peddle during the beginning of the crisis- including here in Daraya- with true freedom.” This statement delivered in a completely empty street of a depopulated suburb was a direct denunciation of the peaceful protests that had taken place in Daraya in 2011 and furthermore it is an admission of guilt in the policy of displacement.

After the 2013 sarin gas attack on Eastern Ghouta Assad admitted to having chemical weapons during an interview with Dennis Kucinich for Fox News saying “it’s not a secret anymore.” The Syrian regime has always blamed the Ghouta attack on Syrian rebels in what they describe as a “false flag attack.”

In the immediate aftermath of the chemical attack Russia Today initially aired segments calling into question weather or not the attack actually happened and Russian diplomats insisted that images of the attacks were faked.

Months later as evidence of the chemical attack became insurmountable, Russia Today aired a segment conveniently quoting “Russian diplomatic sources” saying that the Ghouta attack was the work of “an Al Qaeda linked group backed by Saudi Arabia.” Interestingly the segment contradicts previous Russian and regime assertions that the attack wasn’t real, by confirming that “one thousand and a half” people were killed. Curiously the regime has never been able to explain why they think the rebels have never again used their supposedly massive stockpile of sarin.
In recent weeks doubters and deniers have questioned the location and sincerity of activists uploading messages from besieged Aleppo. However as evacuations from rebel held Aleppo get underway more and more video evidence is emerging which proves that Aleppo was in fact full of civilians who were bombed indiscriminately. Activists and residents who’s location and validity have been questioned by doubters and state actors have been posting videos of themselves with civilians preparing to be evacuated in the easily identifiable green buses that have become a notorious tool of Assad’s policy of displacement.

The videos posted by the activists the regime tried so hard to discredit either match the images of green buses taken from the regime side or are in easily identifiable locations. A video of evacuees running in terror seems to have escaped the attention of those openly mocking the besieged and terrified population.

The old axiom that “the first casualty of war is the truth” may be true, but sometimes you just aren’t looking hard enough.

Russia Today and the post-truth virus

P U L S E

Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one

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A video is circulating of a woman revealing “the truth” on Syria that is being withheld from us by “the mainstream media”. The woman is introduced as an “independent Canadian journalist”. She is said to be speaking  “at the UN”. The date is December 9, 2016. The video has become viral.

Eva Bartlett, the woman in the video, writes for various conspiracy sites including SOTT.net, The Duran, MintPress and Globalresearch.ca. But more recently she has emerged as a contributor to Russia Today. And though her wordpress blog is called “In Gaza”, and though she has a past in Palestine solidarity work, unlike the people of Gaza, she is a strong supporter of Assad and she uses language to describe Assad’s opponents that is a virtual echo of the language Israeli propagandists use against Gazans.

Bartlett was recently a guest of the Assad regime, attending a regime sponsored PR conference and going on a tour of regime-controlled areas herded no doubt by the ubiquitous minders (the regime only issues visas to trusted journalists and no visitor is allowed to travel without a regime minder). On her return, the regime mission at the UN organised a press conference for her and three members of the pro-regime US “Peace Council” (The organisation has the same relationship to peace as Kentucky Fried Chicken has to chicken). In the press conference they all repeated the claims usually made by the regime’s official media SANA and by Russia Today: all rebels are terrorists; there is no siege; civilians are being held hostage; the regime is a “liberator” etc.

So a conspiracy theorist with a blog who briefly visited Syria as a guest of the regime is declaring that everything you know about Syria is wrong. That you have been misled by everyone in the “MSM” from the New York Times to Der Spiegel, from the Guardian to the Telegraph, from CNN to Channel 4, from ABC to BBC, from CBS to CBC; that human rights organisations like Physicians for Human Rights, Medicins Sans Frontiers, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch; that international agencies like the UN and ICRC—they are all part of a vast conspiracy to malign Bashar al Assad. And the truth is only revealed on “alternative” media like the Kremlin’s own Russia Today! (watched by 70 million people a week according to its own claims)

In normal times something like this would provoke derision and dismay—or at least the person would be asked to provide verifiable facts instead of anecdotes (virtually everything she said is verifiably false). But these are not normal times. Supporters of the regime, admirers of Putin, and sectarian propagandists have latched on to this video. Kremlin broadcaster Russia Today has promoted the video heavily. And, in the game of Chinese whispers, the story has morphed into “a UN press conference”.

There is of course a deep racism at play here. Besides great international journalists like Christoph Reuter, Janine di Giovanni, and Martin Chulov, there are also many excellent Syrian reporters on the ground. But we are supposed to dismiss them because the truths that eluded all of them were vouchsafed to a Canadian blogger with a column on Russia Today!

What is happening in Syria is not a mystery. The facts are crystal clear. They are corroborated by multiple independent organisations. People who deny these facts only do so because of a will to disbelieve. It’s willed ignorance in the service of an ideology. This ignorance has been reinforced by Kremlin’s premier disinformation service: Russia Today. The broadcaster has rebranded itself “RT” to conceal its provenance and agenda. It has even spawned neutral-sounding viral video outlets like “In the Now”. Their aim is to sow doubt, feed cynicism, and confound knowledge. They are pressing a narrative—Kremlin’s narrative. And as the major perpetrator of violence in Syria, Kremlin has every intention to muddy the waters. (And no Russia Today is not “just like the BBC”. Have you ever seen a Russian government official questioned the way British government ministers are by a Jeremy Paxman or a James O’Brien?)

So next time someone shares a stupid video like this, hit them with facts. If they want to challenge them, then they should bring something more substantial than rambling nonsense from a conspiracy nut.

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There is an old joke. A wife returns home to find her husband in bed with another woman.

“What are you doing in bed with another woman?” she screams.

“What woman?” the husband replies.

“The woman I just saw in bed with you,” says the wife.

“Who are you going to believe,” the husband replies, “Me or your lying eyes?”

There is no doubt that the Western media has often failed in its coverage. Its reporting on Gaza and the journalism leading up to the Iraq war was abysmal. But western media isn’t devoted to obfuscating truth with the kind of single-minded determination that Russia Today is. It is deeply ironic that many people’s often justified disdain for western journalists has led the into the embrace of a channel that has no commitment to truth at all. And it becomes most pernicious when pro-Kremlin propaganda is dressed up as criticism of “the mainstream media”, “the establishment”, or “Washington”. As I wrote elsewhere:

There are few things more commonplace than an Oedipal disdain for one’s own government. In this solipsistic worldview, one need not have to understand the dynamics of a foreign crisis; they can be deduced remotely. If you hate your own government then, by virtue of being in its bad books, a Putin or an Assad becomes an ally.

Conversely, if people elsewhere are rising up against their far more repressive states, their cause is tainted because of a sympathetic word they might have received from your government. And all the images of agony do not add up to a tear of sorrow as long as they are relayed by a hated “mainstream media”. Indeed, victims are reproached for eroding ideological certainties by intruding into our consciousness through their spectacular suffering.

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