Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Why did this #MeToo ending to the Titanic get sunk?

Even those few who never saw Titanic, 1997, knows it was about its sinking, but they may not be familiar with the love triangle that provided the human interest angle. That was composed of Cal Hockley, a rich aristocrat played by Billy Zane, Rose Dewitt Bukater, the daughter of a newly bankrupted aristocratic mother played by Kate Winslet, and Jack Dawson, the poor working class hero, played by Leonardo diCaprio. As the ill-fated voyage is coming to its end, we find Cal telling Rose that he intends to force sex on her that night. Then, when those plans are interrupted by the sinking, he ends up stealing a gun, and chasing Rose and Jack through the sinking Titanic while shooting at them.

There is a final meeting between Rose and Cal on the Carpathia that was in the screenplay written by James Cameron that is missing from the award winning movie. In The Titanic, Cal searches the rescue ship Carpathia for Rose. One of the reasons he is looking for her is that he realized that a very valuable diamond, the Heart of the Ocean, was in the coat he had put on her earlier. Rose is there, but he never finds her. That is the case even in this extended version of the Carpathia scene that shows many cut sections:

However, in Cameron's screenplay they do meet on the Carpathia and there is this final dramatic dialog between them:
You won't find any of your people back here, sir. It's all steerage.
Cal ignores him and goes amongst this wrecked group, looking under shawls and blankets at one bleak face after another.

Rose is sipping hot tea. Her eyes focus on him as he approaches her. He barely recognizes her. She looks like a refugee, her matted hair hanging in her eyes.

Yes, I lived. How awkward for you.

Rose... your mother and I have been looking for you--

She holds up her hand, stopping him.

Please don't. Don't talk. Just listen. We will make a deal, since that is something you understand. From this moment you do not exist for me, nor I for you. You shall not see me again. And you will not attempt to find me. In return I will keep my silence. Your actions last night need never come to light, and you will get to keep the honor you have carefully purchased.

She fixes him with a glare as cold and hard as the ice which changed their lives.

Is this in any way unclear?

(after a long beat)
What do I tell your mother?

Tell her that her daughter died with the Titanic.
She stands, turning to the rail. Dismissing him. We see Cal stricken with emotion.

You're precious to me, Rose.

Jewels are precious. Goodbye, Mr. Hockley.

That was the last time I ever saw him. He married, of course, and inherited his millions. The crash of 28 hit his interests hard, and he put a pistol in his mouth that year.

[I have made bold the cut sections]
While Rose doesn't make clear what shameful "actions last night" she is referring too, it's easy to imagine rape or attempted rape. In any case, clearly Rose had escaped, not only from the sinking Titanic, but also a much slower drowning in an abusive marriage. I know Titanic is still very long, and probably many good scenes had to be cut, but I think it's a real shame that this final reckoning between Rose and Cal was cut, especially in the light of the new consciousness about sexual abuse and the appropriate response brought about by the #MeToo movement. Titanic was already a good movie, this cut scene would have made it better.

By Clay Claiborne

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Google decision to end military AI drone work reboots old memories

A major US corporation, arguably the richest and most powerful on the planet, has just adopted an explicitly anti-war decision to not renew a contract that would involve using artificial intelligence [AI] to kill people. It did this, in large part, because of opposition from its employees. Although the workers, like Google, stood to benefit economically, they rejected it on moral grounds. THIS IS HUGE! The application of AI to the art of war, which is the business of killing people, is one of the most dangerous technological frontiers facing us. It is the scientific nightmares of "Terminator" and "The Matrix" engineered into the living world. This nightmare future can only be created if the techie proletariat, the only ones capable of creating it, allow their skills to be manipulated by the masters of war to this end.

Now Google, propelled by its workers, has reversed an earlier decision that was pushing them, and us, closer to that dark future. It is understandable that this news has receive little attention in the corporate-owned media, but those on the Left should be demanding the same, or better, from all the other tech giants. Friday CNET reported:
Google reportedly not renewing contract for Project Maven drone program

Backlash against the company's involvement in the project led to the decision, according to Gizmodo.

By Abrar Al-Heeti
Google reportedly won't seek another contract for Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot AI program that could be used for drone strikes.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene made the announcement at a Friday employee meeting, people familiar with the matter told Gizmodo. Strong backlash against the company's involvement in the project reportedly led to the company's decision not to continue to pursue the project. Greene said Google decided to work on Project Maven "at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work," Gizmodo reported.

According to BuzzFeed News, Greene said "We've always said this was an 18-month contract that we did, so it ends in March of 2019." She added, "There will be no follow-on to Maven." More...
Gizmodo covered this in story in greater detail, owing to their access to internal Google emails:
Google Plans Not to Renew Its Contract for Project Maven, a Controversial Pentagon Drone AI Imaging Program

By Kate Conger
1 June 2018
Google will not seek another contract for its controversial work providing artificial intelligence to the U.S. Department of Defense for analyzing drone footage after its current contract expires.

Google Cloud CEO Diane Greene announced the decision at a meeting with employees Friday morning, three sources told Gizmodo. The current contract expires in 2019 and there will not be a follow-up contract, Greene said. The meeting, dubbed Weather Report, is a weekly update on Google Cloud’s business.

Google would not choose to pursue Maven today because the backlash has been terrible for the company, Greene said, adding that the decision was made at a time when Google was more aggressively pursuing military work. The company plans to unveil new ethical principles about its use of AI next week. A Google spokesperson did not immediately respond to questions about Greene’s comments.

Google’s decision to provide artificial intelligence to the Defense Department for the analysis of drone footage has prompted backlash from Google employees and academics. Thousands of employees have signed a petition asking Google to cancel its contract for the project, nicknamed Project Maven, and dozens of employees have resigned in protest.

Google, meanwhile, defended its work on Project Maven, with senior executives noting that the contract is of relatively little value and that its contribution amounts merely to providing the Defense Department with open-source software.

But internal emails reviewed by Gizmodo show that executives viewed Project Maven as a golden opportunity that would open doors for business with the military and intelligence agencies. The emails also show that Google and its partners worked extensively to develop machine learning algorithms for the Pentagon, with the goal of creating a sophisticated system that could surveil entire cities. More...
Linux Hardware Partners T-Shirt ~ 1997 while Linux
was still in the "ignore you/laugh at you" stage.
A kind of class warfare has gone on at Google over many questions. It appears that for now the less greedy, more ethical side has won something on this one. That Google would take the lead on this, among the tech giants, would surprise few in the IT world. Google has not yet drifted that far from its Free Software Movement roots. Google was the product of the Linux community, and even today runs on Linux. Google became the principal financial sponsor of another Linux-based Open Source Software [OSS] project, Android, that short-stopped Apple's plans to monopolize the emerging smartphone market.

Google came out of a research project done by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were graduate students at Stanford. The project was nicknamed "Backrub," written in Java and Python, themselves open source projects, and run on Linux servers at http://google.stanford.edu. These were the early days for Linux. It was less than five years old.

with Linus Torvalds - 1996
About the same time Page and Brin were sending their first project web crawlers out to explore and catalog the Internet in March 1996, I was founding the first Linux Users group in Los Angeles. I was president of Linux Users, Los Angeles [LULA] for eight years.

While the focus was on the developing an open alternative to Microsoft world domination, the social and political implications of the technology we were promoting was always a part of the discussion. In 1999 we help launched one of the first websites designed to reconnect refugee families in response to what was happening in Kosovo. We were able to do this by networking with Linux users worldwide connected through Linux International, and since I am digging through old papers and emails that have no record on the Internet, this is the core of the argument I made to get things rolling, 15 April 1999:
Kosovo: The pen is mightier than the sword.

And it was printing that gave the pen that power. Well the PC is the modern pen and the Internet is the publisher. I’m not saying that occasionally the sword isn’t necessary, as I believe it is in the present instance. I merely want to point to the enormous power of information technology in the sphere (spear) of war. The Serbia government understands this. Just look at their website: http://www.gov.yu/kosovo_facts/index.html
“The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia recognizes and guarantees the rights of the members of the national minorities to the preservation, development and expression of their ethnic, cultural, language and other specific features, and the use of their national symbols, in accordance with the International law”
Yea, right. Goebbels never had it so good. In the face of their acts on the ground, these lies in cyberspace cannot go unopposed. Fortunately for us, it is not just governments who can set up websites. I think Dan summed up the two things that we are well equipped to do:
“1. carrying out a campaign of public education to educate the average Serb about the human costs of ethnic cleansing, and
2. documenting on video as much of what Serbia is doing as possible, and showing it to the Serb people.”
Certainly we can put together a website (or provide technical assistance to others) that exposes what is really going on. Facts can be presented as documents, reports, photos, sound and video. I agree with John on how this could be done. And certainly we can enter into a dialog with the enemy. If we can email them and can post to discussion groups, we can get our point of view heard. Sure our posters may be quickly torn down by the opposition, but its easy enough to re-post them.

I also know that it is almost impossible to charge hearts and minds of people given over to ethnic hatred. I’ve run into Southerners who are still fighting the Civil War, and these Serbs are still fighting a war that took place over 600 years ago. But I personally believe that the only ultimate salvation of humanity lies overcoming precisely such hatred. Therefore, I think it is worth the effort.
Although we were located in Los Angeles, we didn't feel such goals were beyond our reach because the Linux user groups community gave us contacts worldwide, including 85 in 19 cities in Yugoslavia, so soon we were sending out this appeal:
We represent a special interest group who’s goal is to assist in reuniting Kosovo refugees. Specifically, we are establishing an internet web server and database to facilitate refugees with locating families and loved ones. Your assistance\advice would be greatly appreciated towards accomplishing this goal. 
Our initial appeal led to some very interesting email exchanges. We thought it absolutely revolutionary that we could now communicate on a person-to-person level with ordinary people on all sides of a conflict half a world away. We were no longer prisoners of media reporting on a distant conflict. We could make our own news, and did. Now that the Internet has matured into facebook and Twitter, we expect this sort of thing, but in 1999 to be able to circulate independent reports and images of what was happening in Kosovo was mind blowing! Although, I have to admit that all Linux users didn't see things the way we did. I especially remember one fellow from Belgrade that suggested that the best way we could help out was to convince the Pentagon to use more Microsoft products.

Even then, that was a hard sell, the Pentagon was finding disfavor with Redmond's shaky products. When computer crashes can cost lives, half-baked solutions become hard to shallow.

Anyway, after an initial attempt to do our own thing, we discovered an NGO successfully doing the same thing, and folded our efforts into its. It was the first time such a thing was being tried. It was the first time, in eons of war, that such a thing was even possible! I argued in an email:
I think that one master database is the best solution for Kosovo refugees. That avoids duplication and allows for all efforts to be concentrated. It means one place to gather information, and one place to search.

It means one link on the web page for refugee information. One URL to publicize among relief workers, news media, refugee organizations, etc.

Thanks to the web, one site can full fill this worldwide need. Also, thanks to the web, all who want to can participate in this effort.

We are less interested in building another independent database than we are in supporting a unified effort led by those that are closer to the crisis.

What I think we can offer is the necessary systems infrastructure for such an effort, namely bandwidth and hardware. Thorough our ties to the Internet and corporate communities in Southern California, and especially given the current atmosphere, I feel confident we can scrounge an almost unlimited supply of both.  We can also provide people in this area with a wide range of programming and sysadmin skills to help to put together and maintain the site.

What domain name it is under, and who manages it, these are separate questions.  As you know, this can be done from anywhere in the world.  
We didn't know it at the time, but we were pioneering political uses of the Internet that wouldn't be fully realized for more than a decade with its dynamic role in the Arab Spring.

As Linux developed into an industrial strength system, the question Google is currently grappling with, participation with the war machine, became ever more pressing as the metal of this publicly owned ["copyleft"], labor donated, open source computer operating system was shown to best all others, and the Pentagon came a calling.

When the Windows NT system running the US Navy's new "Smart Ship," Aegis missile cruiser USS Yorktown crashed so badly that it had to be towed in 1998, we had great fun with it in Linux circles. We said that Microsoft had given "blue screen of death," a whole new meaning.

Soon the military was looking to Linux for the kind of stability and robustness they needed [ Imagine that: Stability and utility from a worldwide collective of volunteers versus a corporate behemoth! There is an important lesson here.] Soon, even tiny Linux companies, like my own Cosmos Engineering Company, were receiving lucrative contracts from arms makers like General Dynamics.

For some, including me, the beginning of the Iraq War in 2003 became a turning point. On 4 January 2004, I published this to the group's mailing list:
By some estimates the United States has killed more than 6.5 million people of color since the end of WWII. That is more human beings than were murdered in the Holocaust. That total includes maybe a million people killed by us during the Korean War, as many as 2 million in Vietnam, not to mention Laos and Cambodia, a million killed by sanctions in Iraq. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright thought that the death of 500,000 Iraqi children was "worth it" because Iraq had WMD, except now it appears they didn't. (Our bad).

Then there are the numerous smaller massacres like the thousand of Panamanians slaughtered and bulldozed into mass graves in the name of catching a drug dealer.

Already we have killed tens of thousands of Iraqis in the name of bringing democracy to those oppressed people. Exactly what our idea of democracy for the Iraqis is is illustrated by "A statement issued by the U.S.-led authority and broadcast by the Iraqi media network Wednesday, December 31, [that] said no individual or group is allowed to organize marches or demonstrations or even gather in streets, public places or buildings at any time without a prior from the occupation command." And the fact that all across Iraq we have been shooting unarmed demonstrators.

Up until now Linux has had very little to do with this carnage, but this is rapidly changing.

'The US Army has abandoned Windows and chosen Linux for a key component of its "Land Warrior" programme, according to a report in National Defense Magazine. According to program manager Lt Col Dave Gallop this is part of a broader move towards Linux by the US Army: "Evidence shows that Linux is more stable. We are moving in general to where the Army is going, to Linux-based OS."'

Linux has been designated the core OS of the Stryker Brigades being deployed in Iraq. The Stryker Brigades are based on a new rubber tired armored vehicle, the Stryker. These new units represent the cutting edge of a military that is rapidly retooling itself from being a defense against a creditable threat like the USSR, to becoming a instrument of repression of third world people's struggle for self-determination. The Stryker brigades are also highly computerized. Plans call for complete computerization down to each individual soldier wearing a computer, and all those computers will be running Linux. General Dynamics has the contract. Time was they hired my company, Cosmos Engineering to do Linux development for them, but they are way pass that now. Embedded Linux is also making important inroads in the military. It is starting to show up in smart bombs and cruise missiles.

Since it's deployment in Iraq, the Stryker Brigades have been among the most brutal of the occupation forces and this brutality is not unrelated to the computer game cocoon in which many of our forces operate. For example while we have been celebrating the Christmas holidays, soldiers from the Fort Lewis-based Stryker brigades cordoned off the city of Samara, conducted house to house searches and shot anyone who resisted. "The soldiers move cautiously into this clutch of concrete-block homes, rousting the men, women and wide-eyed children. Uninvited, the Americans head inside, poking through cabinets, closets and shelves, and peering beneath the beds...this is the boot of the American occupation"

"It provokes people's hatred," said Mohammed Ibrahim, imam of a Sunni mosque near Forward Operating Base Vanguard. "When your life is threatened with raids, and you are expecting that everyday, life becomes so cheap, so worthless that you would rather die than live."

How many innocent people did we kill over the holidays? We are spared from knowing because, as an Army spokeswoman said "We don't take Iraqi casualties" and we have forbidden the Iraqi authorities from counting the dead.

If the pentagon has its way, 2004 will be the first year that Linux is used for killing on a wide scale. I for one oppose this. What meager contributions I have made to Linux over that past 8 years, including founding this organization, have been done because I see it as an instrument to advance humanity. I will not see it turned into a instrument of death and destruction without a fight.
In the past my company has done work for the Army, Navy and Air Force, not to mention General Dynamics, Lockheed, Rockwell, and Boeing. I have sinned in the past, and I know how tempting fat military contracts can be, especially now when development dollars can be hard to come by. But the question facing my company, and the rest of the Linux community, now is are we developing the brains of a monster?
When another LULA member complained that anti-war posts were a violation of list etiquette,  I responded, 5 November 2003:
As our President and many other officials have made clear recently we intend to stay in Iraq no matter what. At the same time we are facing growing popular opposition to our occupation. What we are planning, and in fact carrying out, amounts to little more than mass murder because we are clearly willing to use whatever level of violence is needed to conquer the Iraqi people. Already we are selectively putting certain communities in 'lock down,' and killing or imprisoning anyone who dares oppose us. We are even shooting at journalist who try to cover it, although frankly most are so tame there is no need.

The poor Americans that have been forced to turn to the military for a job will be forced to do the killing and dying. Fortunately for us, most LULA members do not fall into that category. All that is required of us is nothing. Just carry on business as usual and let it happen.

It is my position that war is not just another subject. It is my position that when your country embarks upon a war of aggression against a much smaller, weaker country, and starts killing other people in large numbers, you lose of your right not to be bothered by it. Because we are such a powerful country, we can be in the happy position destroying another country, killing thousands of its people, and expect that it should not even be brought up in a Linux meeting. What 'white man's burden' arrogance! It has been said that all is fair in love and war. While I don't know that I would go that far, I will say that I am not terribly bothered if I infringe upon netiquette in opposing the war.

I just finish watching ABC's Nightline, which was sponsored tonight by IBM, with a Linux commercial no less. Of course they talked about the American causalities. In a more perfect world they would have also talked about the much more numerous Iraqi casualties caused by us. Then I wouldn't have to.
And in another email:
My words aren't 'inflammatory.' Cluster bombs and depleted uranium shells are. From today's L.A.Times (11/4/03) "The attack Friday night destroyed two houses in the village of Warez [Afghanistan] in the eastern province of Nuristan, killing four children, a woman and a young man..."

Let's try another tack. Transport LULA and this disagreement in time and place. Say to Nazi Germany. Would I be wrong to speak in opposition to the extermination of the Jews among Germans that found such talk 'inflammatory' and 'off topic'? Or the United States in the mid-19th century. Would I be wrong to speak out against slavery even if it was considered a divisive subject? I think not! But since at that time there would have very likely been LULA members who favored slavery and the killing of Jews, I can only assume you would have found such talk a grave violation of etiquette. Of course hindsight is easy. I seriously doubt if today any LULA member supports slavery or the killing of Jews. That is why it is so easy to take a stand on historical questions, but it is also irrelevant to do so. Today it is people in Iraq and Afghanistan that are dying, and it is we who are doing the killing. And since there are very powerful economic interests that favor this, (as there was at the time for slavery and the holocaust), the reality of these wrongs is somewhat muddied.

The Bottom Line is This:

War is simultaneously the most coercive and most destructive of all human endeavors. With the current levels technology it will lead to the complete destruction of humanity, quite possibly in our own lifetimes. It is quite obvious that war is forced upon those that are the subject of aggression. The people of Baghdad were given no say but to suffer the effects of 8,000 or so cruise missiles slammed into their town for example. But even in the aggressor nation it is generally a matter of coercion for a majority. Even with our "volunteer" army, many feel they have no real choice, and as for the financing of the enterprise, the money is appropriated from those that oppose the aggression as well as those that it support it.

It is because of this coercive nature of war that those that oppose it cannot, I repeat CANNOT, confine their activities to those who would 'opt in' to such opposition. To allow those who promote the war, and those who think they have no part in it, to go about there business in peace, is to allow the war to continue even if the majority oppose it. This simply is not an acceptable solution to the problem of humanity's success.
When I resigned as president of LULA in April 2004 to focus more of my energy on anti-war work, including producing my first feature length documentary, News Clips from the Iraq War, which was streamed on the Internet years before YouTube [which runs on Linux], by the Linux Public Broadcast Network [LPBN], I wrote:
I once had high hopes for Linux. I felt sure it could make a real contribution to the success of humanity, now more and more I have my doubts. I have a real and growing fear that if the Mr. Smith’s of Linux [a Matrix reference. Matrix was all the rage with the Slashdot crowd.] have their way, in the future they will look back and say “Wasn’t it nice that so many smart people worked to hard for free to forge their own chains."
Newsforge ran an article with the title LUG Pres Resigns Over Military Linux Use, and when Joe Barr posted a link to Slashdot with this comment:
"NewsForge is carrying the news that the founder and president of Linux Users Los Angeles (LULA) has resigned because of his opposition to the war in Iraq and the U.S. Armed Forces' use of Linux."
It ignited a discussion [i.e. flame-war] that extended to 1361 comments.

In the fourteen years since that discussion, the Pentagon has largely been able to count on the greed and cooperation of the tech industry. This new decision by Google represents an important move in the right correct direction. It makes me hope that a little of its open source ancestry lives on at Google.

My other blogs on Google:
Google correct the record: Little girl was beheaded by Assad not ISIS [GRAPHIC!] 4/30/17
Why are they protesting Google?  6/19/13
Coming Soon: Obama versus Google 5/19/11
Google Supports Revolts | Anonymous does too! 2/27/11
The Google Search for Wael Ghonim 2/9/11
Google Goes Rebel, Supports Egyptian Protest 2/6/11
The Internet Takeover: Why Google is Next 12/05/10
EFF on the Google\Verizon Net Neutrality Proposal 8/30/10
Court rules -> Google Must Be Evil & Maximize Profits 8/30/10
Google-Verizon: What is the Free Press Agenda? 8/13/10
Will Android make Google Money? 8/10/10
Google Verizon Announce Terms of Deal 8/9/10
Why I like Google: Reason #38 6/6/08

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Friday, June 1, 2018

Maxine Waters' white supremacist opponent exposed!

President Donald Trump didn't just fail to condemn the extreme racism we all saw on display in Charlottesville, VA last summer, he is trying to bring people like that into the US government. One of the ways he and his cabal are doing that is by promoting people whose racist views aren't that well known, and then passing them off as ordinary conservatives. He is rapidly appointing many of these to all levels of the federal government. They are trying to get others elected to office as vanilla Republicans, now that the GOP has largely been taken over by racists. Think of Congressman Steve Scalise, who sold himself as "David Duke without the baggage."

Congresswoman Maxine Waters
It is extremely important to realize they aren't just working towards a peaceful government takeover; they are also building connections to the type of groups and individuals that flocked to the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville.

In a related matter, they really hate Congresswoman Maxine Waters with a passion. She is an African American woman that has a long history of fighting for social justice, and she has been outspoken about the need to impeach Trump from day one. Now these white supremacists have dressed up one of their associates in a suit, and they are trying to replace Maxine Waters with him. Gary Walker told a big part of the story in this week's Argonaut:


30 May 2018
It’s no secret that supporters of President Donald Trump would love to be rid of Rep. Maxine Waters (D- Los Angeles), one of the president’s most gleeful antagonists. Perhaps underscoring their aversion for the 14-term incumbent, Trump confidant and political strategist Roger Stone is lending support to one of Waters’ three Republican challengers in Tuesday’s primary election.

Famous (or infamous, depending whom you ask) for his use of opposition research and aggressive campaign tactics, Stone wasted no time flinging mud at Waters while endorsing Torrance small business owner Omar Navarro during a campaign rally in the South Bay last year.

“Omar is the kind of hard-charging young reformer that we need in Congress. He’s an honest man, whereas Maxine Waters may be the single most corrupt members of Congress,” Stone says in a YouTube video published last August. “She’s living high. She’s eating filet mignon while the people in Omar’s district are eating hamburger.” More...
His Tweeter account @RealOmarNavarro is described as "Candidate for Congress running against @MaxineWaters. Endorsed by @RealSheriffJoe @LarryElder @TheHermanCain @GenFlynn @PastorDScott Advisor Roger Stone"

Roger Stone and Omar Navarro at a South Bay campaign rally last year
Roger Stone told the Argonaut, 18 May 2018, “The people of the 43rd [Congressional] District deserve better than poverty pimp Maxine Waters. While her district starves and lives in circumstances reminiscent of a Third World country… she sits pretty in a McMansion.”

Steve Bannon with Omar Navarro
Roger Stone's connections to Donald Trump are so well known that its pretty clear that if Stone is actively working for Navarro, Trump supports his bid too. What's more, former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn visited California on the birthday of Ho Chi Minh and Malcolm X {19 May} to endorse Navarro, so it would already appear they are planning to mount a noisy base-building challenge to Maxine Waters. He has no chance of winning.

Gary Walker gave you a part of the picture. The picture below gives you a view of Omar Navarro the Trump cabal would like to hide.

In the video below, when Gionet first sees Omar, he says "Hey, What's up Omar? Hey, what's up? Omar's a little ... I'm not going to blow his cover.  He's a little incognito." 

Allow me to blow his cover.
Omar Navarro joins Anthime Gionet [aka Baked Alaska] and other white nationalists to disrupt a meeting of the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice on 6 August 2017.
This picture is from the white nationalist assault on the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice last Summer. You can read more about that here: Six days before Charlottesville, the same racists came to Santa Monica

While Omar Navarro was camera shy and stayed in the background, Gionet and others tried to break up the meeting, 6 August 2017.
This picture is from the Baked Alaska livestream of the racists at Charlottesville on the march:

A week later Gionet was speaking to the klansmen and Nazis in Charlottesville, 11 August 2017
The two clips in this YouTube video show Omar Navarro and Gionet chatting at their anti-racial justice action, and then Gionet in the Tiki-touch parade in Charlottesville

The first minute is of Navarro with Gionet, a local So. Cal Alt-Right/White nationalist leader when they tried to crash the meeting of the Santa Monica Committee for Racial Justice on August 6, 2017. The second minute is an establishing shot of Baked Alaska - 5 days later he is leading the Charlottesville "Unite the Right" touch light march, where he spoke the next day.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Donald Trump fusses with long time supporter ABC over Roseanne Barr

Early this morning @realDonaldTrump tweeted out this in response to the ABC cancelling of "Roseanne," after Roseanne Barr tweeted that Valerie Jarrett, an African American and former Obama adviser, was like the child of the Muslim Brotherhood and Planet of the Apes, although she didn't give "Muslim" its deserved capital "M." She was saying that Valerie Jarrett wasn't a human being, in racist Donald Trump parlance, she was calling her an "animal." So naturally, Trump had to tweet to her defense:

This Roseanne Barr fracas has nothing to do with Donald Trump, and still he has to try to put himself at the center of it, but he shows a lot of gall by complaining of bad treatment from ABC. Over 2 years ago, well before he had even won the Republican nomination, I wrote about how the capitalist media, and ABC News in particular, was not only weighting their coverage in favor of a Trump presidency; in the best Trump tradition, they were telling outright lies to help him win. That post had the title: Bourgeois media resorting to sleight-of-hand to put Trump in the White House, 21 December 2015. It is a reminder of how far we have come that he can even make his claims of unfair media treatment these days. I began by warning:
There have already been many media surveys that have shown that the most racist US presidential candidate of the 21st century, Donald Trump, has received an overwhelming coverage advantage from the bourgeois media. Now we are starting to see a willingness to play fast and loose with the facts and even use sleight-of-hand to favor Trump that goes beyond Fox News. In the Democratic debate on Saturday, Hillary Clinton made the statement that:
"We also need to make sure that the really discriminatory messages that Trump is sending around the world don't fall on receptive ears. He is becoming ISIS's best recruiter. They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists."
People knowledgeable about the subject matter will conclude this statement is true based on logical deduction: Are there videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims? Check! Could these videos be useful recruiting tools for ISIS? Check! Is ISIS a media savvy organization that uses videos from western media for recruitment? Check!
Then, after critiquing a misleading PolitiFact article, No evidence for Hillary Clinton's claim that ISIS is using videos of Donald Trump as recruiting tool, I torn into the ABC News coverage:
This is bad enough, but ABC News has taken it one step further by employing a bit of sleight-of-hand in their manipulation of this story. I first heard about this controversy on ABC's Good Morning America show this morning. Their coverage of this controversy led with Trump's demand for an apology, has a video clip of Clinton at the debate saying "They are going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists." [0:40 in this video] Then the ABC narrator says "Clinton's campaign unable to prove such a video exists." This is how and when the sleight-of-hand shift is made. Clinton made the claim that videos of Trump had been used by ISIS, she didn't say they had used them in one of their videos. This is an elaboration that ABC has added so they can demand that Clinton produce this video which she never claimed existed. You can see how they do the same thing in this posting on their website:
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made up her claim that ISIS uses videos of him to recruit new members, said Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump.

"Knowing the Clintons and knowing Hillary, she made it up," Trump said today on ABC's "This Week." During Saturday's Democratic debate, Clinton said ISIS is "going to people showing videos of Donald Trump insulting Islam and Muslims in order to recruit more radical jihadists.”
Trump said many fact checkers have "vetted" the claim of Trump being used in ISIS videos and have proven it to be false.
ABC News has adopted Trump's distortion of Clinton's statement and you can't get more mainstream media than ABC News. Even if Trump's or ABC News' "fact checkers" have a complete inventory of the latest ISIS videos, which I doubt, not finding Donald Trump in them doesn't mean his anti-Muslim statements aren't being used by Daesh to argue their case. Every thinking person knows this already, but ABC News, in its rush to ride roughshod over the facts in support of Trump, has distorted a rather banal statement of fact by Hillary Clinton into a demand that she produce a video that she never claimed existed.

If this is an example of the presidential election year that is coming, we have a big problem. As ridiculous as it seems, it looks like a rather large section of the US bourgeois wants Donald Trump to be our next president.
On a related matter, I am so sick of hearing leftists that failed to fight Trump in 2016 say that "nobody thought he could win." Maybe, nobody on the white-Left thought that, just as they didn't think Donald Trump's overt racism didn't make him anymore evil that Hillary Clinton, while his "anti-intervention" opinions made him less evil.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

@DemocracyNow on the Libyan Model: Who killed Gaddafi?

Much of the Left has a great deal of unity with alt-right warmongers in their understanding of recent Libyan history. As you know, Donald Trump and other prominent members of his administration have been threatening North Korea with something they call the “Libyan model.” This is a view of Libyan history that leaves the Libyans out of it. It ignores their suffering under the 42 years of Gaddafi's dictatorship, including the hundred of thousands of Libyans, and other Africans, he murdered. It ignores their equally long fight against his brutal regime, and it especially ignores the heroic struggle by the Libyan thuwar [freedom fighters] that began in January 2011, and after the cost of thousands of Libyan lives by October 2011, finally put that regime out of their misery.

After a bit of hesitation, and a UN authorization that even Russia voted for, not to mention the need of certain French refineries for Libya's irreplaceable light-sweet crude on the heels of a European economic crisis, NATO intervened in the civil war. This “Libyan model” uses the fact that NATO protected the civilian population with a no-fly zone, and gave the revolution air support, to take the Libyan people out of the picture. This “Libyan model” is based on the idea that it was the omnipotent US imperialists that took out Muammar Gaddafi. The story is that they treacherously did this even though he had yielded to their demands, and he gave up his nuclear weapons eight years earlier.

While Trump and company use this “Libyan model” as a threat of what might happen to Kim Jong-un, 3rd Supreme Leader of North Korea, if he doesn't play ball (or even if he does!), the white-Left condemns this use of the “Libyan model,” but they don't dispute its core assumption, which is that the US imperialist made a decision to conduct a “regime change” operation in Libya, and then they just made it happen. The whole history of the uprising; its connection to the Arab Spring; the unarmed protesters that braved Gaddafi regime bullets; the patriotic soldiers that defected to the revolution rather than fire on their own people; Gaddafi's merciless siege Misrata; are all washed away in this unified American version of what went down in Libya in 2011.

“Anti-imperialist” support for this vision of US imperialist omnipotence, as embodied in Trump's definition of the “Libyan model,” was on full display on Democracy Now, Friday, 25 May 2018. Amy Goodman first touched upon it in the headlines:
AMY GOODMAN: Trump’s withdrawal came after North Korea blasted recent comments by Vice President Mike Pence, who suggested Kim Jong-un will end up like slain Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi if he doesn’t denuclearize North Korea.
She went into greater detail later in the show with investigative journalist Tim Shorrock:
AMY GOODMAN: NBC reports Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has privately blamed National Security Adviser John Bolton for torpedoing the talks. North Korea first threatened to pull out of the talks after Bolton said the U.S. should use the Libyan model for denuclearization. In 2003, Libya negotiated sanctions relief from the United States in exchange for renouncing its nuclear program and welcoming international inspectors to verify the dismantlement. Eight years later, the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi. Vice President Mike Pence and President Trump have also talked about the Libyan model in recent weeks.
That's the white supremacist short story on the revolutionary struggle to end a 42-year fascist dictatorship, and the 30,000 Libyan lives that were lost in that struggle. U.S. and other nations attacked Libya and killed Gaddafi. End of story. Finis. She continues:
AMY GOODMAN: Last week—last week, President Trump said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un could suffer the same fate as former Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, if he refuses to give up his nuclear weapons:
PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: The model, if you look at that model with Gaddafi, that was a total decimation. We went in there to beat him. Now, that model would take place if we don’t make a deal, most likely. But if we make a deal, I think Kim Jong-un is going to be very, very happy.
It should be noted that Amy Goodman cut short the Trump quote before he made it clear that he was offering US imperial protection to yet another dictator [i.e. “leader” in DN parlance.] as long as he plays ball. The Guardian continued its coverage to include this clarification from Trump:
“This with Kim Jong-un would be something where he would be there. He would be running his country. His country would be very rich.”
“We’re willing to do a lot, and he’s willing … to do a lot also, and I think we’ll actually have a good relationship, assuming we have the meeting and assuming something comes of it. And he’ll get protections that will be very strong.”
Democracy Now would just as soon as not have to question this side of the deal. Trump is interested in control, not democracy, so he is willing to offer the Kim dynasty “protections” provided they “have a good relationship.” Gone is even the suggestion that the dictator step down and allow for free elections. No threat of “regime change” here, so long as he plays ball. DN should be pleased; they like some dictators    like Kim and Gaddafi. One thing they have in common with Trump, Putin, and Kim, is that they can't afford to actually admit that it was the Libyan people that took Gaddafi out, and it is the Korean people that pose the greatest threat to the Kim dynasty, the Russian people to Putin, and so on. Instead, she side-steps that issue and continues her objections to the use of the Libyan model as a threat. Then she introduces Tim Shorrock. Amy Goodman likes to bring subject matter experts onto the show:
AMY GOODMAN: So, Tim Shorrock, the issue of Mike Pence, the vice president, reiterating what John Bolton said about the Libyan model—again, if people remember, after the denuclearization deal, U.S. allies attacked Libya, and Muammar Gaddafi was not only overthrown, he was murdered in the streets of Libya by U.S.-backed rebels.
She wouldn't say “JFK was murdered in the streets of America.” What's up with this language?

On the screen she shows images of the slain Brother Leader. Of all the 30,000 Libyans, on both sides, that died in the civil war, the one most mourned by the white-Left, one might say, the only one mourned by them, is Muammar Gaddafi. Tim Shorrock joins in:
TIM SHORROCK: And, you know, clearly, Bolton understands, when he talks about the Libya solution, there’s two parts to it. You know, Libya gave up its nuclear weapons without making—you know, gave up its nuclear weapons before receiving any kind of economic aid or support. So that was one part of it. And then, of course, after he did give them up, his regime was overthrown by the U.S. and NATO.
Now their Libya myth has been stretched to the point where they are claiming Muammar Gaddafi even gave up nuclear weapons into the bargain. They've been spreading his propaganda for years. To hear them tell it, under Gaddafi, Libya had the best of everything! The best schools, a tremendous healthcare system, free housing and income for all, a great man-made river, even marvelous nuclear weapons! It was all a lie. As I reported just days ago, Gaddafi's “nuclear program” consisted of some unprocessed and unenriched uranium, a handful of centrifuges that they couldn't get to work, and purchased bomb plans they couldn't understand. The only enriching it ever did was accomplished by putting more Libyan oil money into the pockets of Gaddafi-connected contractors. It probably also added to the mercenary violence in Africa, as he sought to illegally import thousands of tons of uranium ore concentrate from neighboring Niger. Now, through the magic of time and corruption, this nothing has miraculously morphed into nuclear weapons! Who knew it could be so easy?

Given the terminal confusion this concept of the “Libyan model” embodies about who is responsible for the death of Libyan “Brother Leader” Muammar Gaddafi, I thought it might be useful to review some known facts surrounding his death. I like having those stubborn things on my side. Facts are a real problem for proponents of the “Libyan model” like John Bolton and Amy Goodman. But before we get to that, since the thesis of Bolton and Goodman is that it was just a US led regime change operation, it would be useful to review some lesser known facts about the Libyan revolt before NATO came in.

The Libyan Revolution before NATO

Neither the US imperialists or “Anti-imperialist” want to remember that there was a time when NATO supported Gaddafi, before it opposed him. That gets in the way of everybody's narrative that what happened to Gaddafi was the result of a US driven “regime change” plot. Allow me to refresh their memories. From my piece NATO's Game Plan in Libya,” 3 July 2011:
NATO countries had little more than words to show for their humanitarian concerns” after Qaddafi killed 700 protesters in Tripoli on February 21, some of them bombed with jet aircraft, and maybe 2000 in Benghazi days before. When President Obama spoke of this on February 23, he condemned the Libyan government, saying “suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable,” but he did not call for Qaddafi to step down nor did he announce any new sanctions the US would support to punish the leader that he said “violate international norms and every standard of common decency.”
Qaddafi started using military violence against protest rallies as early as Feb. 20, yet UN/NATO did not act militarily until March 19. They were willing to give Qaddafi almost a month to put down the rebellion with tanks, artillery and aircraft.

As Qaddafi's violent repression was taking thousands of lives in Libya, NATO was taking a wait and see attitude. On February 25, the NATO Secretary General made an official statement“I do not consider the situation in Libya a direct threat to NATO or NATO Allies ...I would like to stress that NATO as such has no plans to intervene. The next day he elaborated NATO's plan to deal with the Libyan crisis, priority must be given to evacuation and possibly, also, humanitarian assistance.”
Here is a little more detail on how those 700 protesters died. It has a new relevance today, now that we are all more aware of the nefarious side of social media: while both Putin and Trump have put it to evil intent, Gaddafi topped them both years ago. On 21 February 2011, a date that will forever be remembered as Tripoli's “Long Night,” Gaddafi first used tweets to convince people that he had fled to Venezuela; then he used fake-activist accounts to call for a “celebration rally” in Green Square. The real activists in Tripoli, like the Free Generation Movement, tried to get the word out that it was a trap. Still, hundreds showed up. Then Gaddafi brought out the machine guns and worst, and slaughtered them. He killed 700 that night, mostly young people.

In this 29 June 2011, Al Jazeera video we hear from an eyewitness to this massacre. He also tells us of some measures NATO took to minimize civilian casualties. After the first few air strikes, the people of Tripoli saw how precise they were, and learned to stop worrying and love the bombing. They knew only Gaddafi's compounds were being targeted, so all over Tripoli, people could be heard cheering from the rooftops as NATO hit those targets.

An orderly in the hospital that night was interviewed by the BBC’s Pascale Harter in Tunisia, 17 June 2011, about what happened:
Many young people went to protest in Green Square that day, and I believe almost no-one came back alive that night.

Between 600 and 700 people were killed. I know this because I carried the bodies into my hospital.

Each ambulance brought three or four dead people. And the ambulances just kept coming and going, like delivery vans dropping off goods.
I think Col Gaddafi’s forces were using anti-aircraft guns on people.

The people had gunshot wounds to their heads or chests. The bullets had exploded and some of the people had their heads blown open. I tried to pick up the pieces.
This history is conveniently forgotten by believers in the “Libyan model” on both sides because that white chauvinist position holds that it was the autonomous decision of the US imperialists to take Gaddafi out even though he gave up his imaginary nuclear weapons eight years earlier.

While NATO air support stopped Gaddafi from using his air force and heavy armor against both the people and their freedom fighters, mostly; it didn't stop him from using his artillery or superior firepower on the ground. The National Transitional Council [NTC] very wisely forbid NATO ground troops, something NATO always strove for, but never achieved; the fighting on the ground was done by Libyans. Some thuwar had come over from the army and had some military training, most were citizen-soldiers, activists that formed themselves into brigades and found weapons, after Gaddafi made it clear a peaceful transition was off the table. Unlike Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, there were never US boots on the ground in Libya. So while the NATO air cover prevented Gaddafi from doing to Libya what Assad has been allowed to do to Syria, it was still a hard slogging eight months of fighting by the revolutionary brigades before Gaddafi was finally run to ground in his last stronghold of Sirte.

The Death of Muammar Gaddafi

A National Transitional Council (NTC) fighter points a gun at Libya's former leader Muammar Gaddafi in Sirte in this still image taken from video shot on October 20, 2011 and released on October 22, 2011. REUTERS/Reuters TV/Files
Muammar Gaddafi, was captured and killed on 20 October 2011. He was found hiding in a culvert west of Sirte and captured by NTC forces. He was dead shortly afterwards. This is how it happened.

Gaddafi and his mob had been hunkered down in a makeshift bunker for ten days as the seige of Sirte closed in on them. On that day, they made a desperate break for it in a 100 vehicle convoy that included Gaddafi and his closest cohorts in five cars at its heart. As the convoy left Sirte, it split up, but a large contingent stayed with Gaddafi.

In a Trump-like move, Gaddafi ignored the advice of his security people, and used his satellite phone. He did this knowing that when they had earlier fled from Tripoli to Sirte, his son, Mo’tassim, had traveled separately because he was still using his satellite phone to command what was left of their collapsing military effort. He suspected it could be tracked, and didn't want to endanger his father.

Once Gaddafi's voice was recognized by a NATO electronic warfare aircraft, most likely a French C160 Gabriel, it was “Game On!” The focus shifted to that contingent, and a pair of RAF Tornado GR4s aerial surveillance jets started tracking him. NATO command notified the NTC, which already had forces on the ground looking for Gaddafi, and hit the convoy with either $800,000 AASM smart munitions or 500lb Paveway smart bombs from a French Rafales jet, and Hellfire missiles from a US drone piloted from Las Vegas.

NATO used smart ordinances overwhelmingly, if not exclusively, in Libya. This kept civilian loses, and infrastructure damage lower than your average war. This limitation was used by the “anti-imperialists” for a propaganda advantage. There were times went NATO would announce a pause in airstrikes, citing a shortage of smart munitions as the reason. Without ever mentioning the smart bomb limitation, the “anti-imperialists” would say that showed NATO was dropping so many bombs on Libya that they were running out of bombs!

It's very likely that even with that limitation, this excuse for these pauses was a lie. Close observers noticed how they always seemed to coincide with NATO attempts to wrangle concessions from the NTC on one question or another. The “anti-imperialist” protests actually supported NATO's public relations efforts to look like they were trying as hard as they could, when they were actually holding back.

Anyway, remember those airstrikes on Gaddafi's column? Those airstrikes left 15 pick-up trucks mounted with heavy machine guns burnt out, smashed and smouldering next to an electricity substation 20 yards from the main road, about two miles west of Sirte. See below:

The picture above is from the Daily Mail on the day after Gaddafi was killed. It clearly shows how Gaddafi's escape convoy was devastated by NATO air strikes. It is easy to see the violence of NATO's assault on Libya in this picture, but it also shows something else, it shows the extremely unusual delicacy and precision with which NATO carried out its war against Gaddafi, not Libya. While that is also clearly shown in this picture, it is easy to miss, if it's not pointed out.

Notice the high voltage towers and electrical transmission facility in the background? What's unusual about that picture? This is near the very end of the war, in fact one of NATO's last strike missions. This is also an electrical substation outside of Sirte, which the NTC, with NATO air support, has had under siege for months. Clearly that power substation would be an easy target, easier than a moving convoy, and yet there it stands, apparently unscathed. That is because in its air campaign over Libya, unlike the way the US made war in Iraq, Afghanistan and just about everywhere else, NATO took serious pains to avoid damaging the infrastructure. The NTC had other ways to turn the lights out in Sirte during the siege. As a result, while Libya had many problems after the war ended, replacing a bomb-damaged electrical grid wasn't one of them. Bashar al-Assad didn't even take such care in bombing his own cities. That is why where some see in this picture the results of a vicious NATO air attack on “Brother Leader,” I see airwar done right.

This may be because it was the European allies that carried out the overwhelming majority of the strike missions, and they used a care and precision that is foreign to the US Air Force. The US carried out less than 17% of the NATO strike sorties over Libya, less than half as many as France, and the US actual “dropped ordinances” in less than 17% of those “strike sorties.” ; no doubt Libya is better off for that. I guess they didn't like only using expensive bombs, but that doesn't stop the joint US imperialist/anti-imperialist project from complaining that the US is responsible for these bad things that happened to Libya.
After the airstrike, which destroyed the vehicle in front of Muammar Gaddafi's car, he and his son Mo’tassim, and defense minister Abu-Bakr Yunis Jabr, took shelter in a nearby house, which was then shelled by NTC forces.

Mo’tassim then took 20 fighters and went to look for undamaged cars, having persuaded his father to come too. “The group belly-crawled to a sand berm,” a UN report, released in March 2012 said, and then through two drainage pipes and set up a defensive position. One of Gaddafi's guards threw a grenade at advancing thuwar on the road above, but it bounced off the concrete wall above the pipes and fell in front of Gaddafi. The guard tried to pick it up, but it exploded, killing both the guard and Yunis Jabr.

Did this bounced grenade cause most of the bloody injuries we see in the pictures of the dead Gaddafi, or was it just beatings by a mob, as we are led to believe? The 2012 UN report says he was wounded by grenade fragmentation, which shredded his flak jacket, and left him on the floor, dazed and in shock, bleeding from a wound in the left temple. Gaddafi next took refuge in a large drainage pipe with several bodyguards. A nearby group of NTC fighters opened fire, wounding Gaddafi with gunshots to his leg and back. According to one unnamed NTC fighter, one of Gaddafi's bodyguards also shot him, apparently to spare him from being captured.

A senior NTC official said that no order was given to execute Gaddafi. According to another NTC source, “they captured him alive and while he was being taken away, they beat him and, then they killed him.” Mahmoud Jibril, leader of the NTC, gave an alternative account, stating that “when the car was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head.” The UN commission was unable to determine exactly how Gaddafi died, or whether it was an unlawful killing.

If the NATO air strikes had taken out Gaddafi directly, this joint imperialist/anti-imperialist claim that NATO killed Gaddafi would be much easier to make, but they didn't. By all accounts, he was taken out by the thuwar, if he wasn't killed by his own people. This is a real problem for this most basic claim of the “Libyan model. Nowadays this is being dealt with by not even mentioning the role of the thuwar, or when forced to recognize their role they are the “US-backed rebels.” In their thesaurus “backed” is a synonym for “controlled,” meaning the thuwar were agents of US imperialism, so their role can be zeroed out anyway.

Could the NTC have taken out Gaddafi without NATO support? There is no doubt that NATO played an indispensable role in locating and stopping Gaddafi so soon after he abandoned his human shield in Sirte and got out in the open, just as it was indispensable in bringing the whole conflict to this point so quickly. However, it's not clear how long Gaddafi could have evaded capture in any case. It's not even clear where they thought they were going. They were fleeing their last stronghold. They were like the Jefferson Davis train fleeing South at the end of the US Civil War, hoping some foreign country might take them in.

The claim that the US overthrew and killed Gaddafi is really twice chauvinist vanity. It is the Libyan revolutionaries, under the leadership of the NTC, not NATO, that deserves the main credit, or blame, if you are a Gaddafi fan, for these accomplishments. It started and ended with them. NATO just reduced the cost in lives, and accelerated the same outcome that would probably have been reached anyway; unless Gaddafi was able to obtain the type of massive foreign support, including armies, that allowed Assad to turn the tide, kill hundreds of thousands, and hang on for another round.

NATO's role was a secondary one, but no matter how you view NATO's role, it is a big mistake to give the US all the credit (or blame) for it. The US flew a lot of missions because it provided the bulk of the air reconnaissance and refueling, but when it came to strike missions, not so much. The US had “dropped ordinances only 132 times in the first 92 days of flight operations! The US was a laggard in Libya. As compared to most NATO operations, this was a European led show. That is why I say that this united white-Left/alt-Right shorthand for the Libyan revolution, “the U.S. and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is doubly chauvinistic.

I mean, honestly, since it was French warplanes that hit Gaddafi first, as his tanks approached Benghazi on 19 March 2011; a French plane that hit him last, as he was fleeing Sirte on 20 October 2011; French aircraft that air-dropped arms to thuwar stuck in a tight spot, and French planes that flew 33% of the strike sorties, twice as many as US planes, shouldn't Amy Goodman be saying “France and other nations attacked Libya, toppling and killing Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi,” even if she insists on leaving the Libyans out of it? No! That won't do either. The Libyan Model requires the mythology of US dominance.

There were also a few other features from the Friday Headlines on Democracy Now that relate to these matters, such as this report on Syria:
Government Seizes ISIS-Held Refugee Camp Outside Damascus

In Syria, government forces have recaptured the Yarmouk Camp for Palestinian refugees outside Damascus, after a brutal month-long campaign drove ISIS from the area. The assault reportedly killed scores of civilians and left most of the camp in ruins. With its capture, Syria’s military now controls all the areas around Damascus for the first time in seven years.
ISIS hasn't held the camp for seven years; it hasn't been around that long, so what history are we missing? The Free Syrian Army, and its Palestinian ally Liwa al-Asifa, freed much of it from Assad regime control in 2012. ISIS didn't overrun the camp until April 2015. Here are some screenshots from the DN video report:

As you can see, they recaptured it with indiscriminate artillery and barrel-bomb attacks. Yarmouk was once of the largest Palestinian refugee camp in Syria. The silence of the white-Left, as the Assad regime treated it worse than Israel treats Gaza, did much to reveal the capricious nature of their support for the Palestinian people.

That was the last anti-Assad stronghold in Damascus. After seven years of unrestricted air assault by the Assad regime and its allies, bomb ravaged cityscapes like this are all too common in Syria. These pictures could have just as easily come from Aleppo, East Ghouta, Homs, Idlib, or Hama. This damage represents the triumph of the policy positions championed by Amy Goodman on Democracy Now. There was no UN sanctioned no-fly zone in Syria, and no countries, not even France, stepped forward to offer a shield to the civilians under the bombs. Code Pink would protest the thought!

That was followed by a report from Libya:
Car Bomb Explodes in Benghazi, Killing Seven and Injuring 20

In Benghazi, Libya, a car bomb exploded outside a hotel on a busy road in the city’s center late Thursday, killing at least seven people and injuring 20 others. No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, which was the latest in a series of bombings in Libya that followed the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.
Notice how they have adopted the Trump policy of repeating lies so often they start being taken as the truth? Its like they can't even mention Libya without reminding us of “the 2011 NATO bombing campaign that helped U.S.-backed rebels overthrow and kill Muammar Gaddafi.”

Below are a series of screenshots from that report. We can see from the damaged cars and destruction in the street that it was a terrible blast. In addition to seven people killed, 20 were injured. Sadly, it is a sign of these times. This could have happened in any major city in Africa, or in London or Paris, for that matter, and if it had happened in any other city in Africa, its chances of being covered by Democracy Now would have been a lot slimmer, but Democracy Now has a point to make about Libya, about how Libya was destroyed by NATO intervention, and even today is still dealing with the consequence.

Again, if you look at the background, rather than what is given to you in the foreground, these pictures tell a different story. If you look beyond the carnage in the street, you will see that the city of Benghazi is still standing proudly. While it's a little hard to be make out, because it is a night scene, none of the visible buildings appear to be bombed-out or war-damaged. Fortunately these night pictures do show us quite a bit because Benghazi appears to be a city of lights. This indicates that the NATO assault didn't take out the electrical infrastructure, and Gaddafi's air force wasn't allowed to do that either. It also indicates that the electrical grid has somehow “miraculously” been maintained these past seven years amidst all the Libyan chaos we keep hearing about.

There are a lot of people on the street. Does that mean things aren't so bad in Benghazi that people can't get on with their lives, meaning its not still the war zone many would have us believe? It also looks like they have a functioning emergency response system amidst all the anarchy and chaos.

People are not afraid to come out at night, in large numbers, even after there has been a terrorist attack. There is another thing about these terror attacks in Libya that gets little notice. Remnants of the Gaddafi regime are behind many of them. This isn't just random violence that has sprung up as a result of a poorly-conceived “regime-change” operation, as the Right/Left fusion would have you believe. That is another part of the myth. Although Gaddafi was killed, other leading members of his cabal went into hiding. They have been funding counter-revolutionary chaos as part of what they fancy is the “Green Resistance,” and they still have a lot of stolen Libyan money to do it with. It's no coincidence that Sirte, Gaddafi's home and last stronghold, became the center of ISIS in Libya before it was thrown out.

Even when they are reporting on the terrorist murder of seven Libyans just the day before, they can't help but mourn Gaddafi, and call him out by name. That's all Libya is to them; it's a place US/NATO bombed and killed Gaddafi. This report is not because they are in the habit of giving much coverage to recent happenings in Libya. This report is meant as an object lesson.

Back to Yarmouk:

Does anybody at Democracy Now really think these bombed out Syrian cities will look as good as Benghazi in a few years? This is what Benghazi would have looked like if Democracy Now had prevailed against the French jets that stopped Gaddafi from doing to Benghazi what he had just done to the much smaller Ajdabiya.

My current favorite “what if fantasy” begins with: What if the Left had given both material and ideological support to the Libyan thuwar from the very beginning? I know that there were significant elements within their revolutionary struggle that were open to that. Could that have helped in any way to move their struggle in a more cohesive and progressive direction? In my opinion, the main problem with the Libyan revolution has been the lack of a strong internal Left leadership, not the lack of revolutionary energy from the masses. That leadership can be simulated externally [Consider the French influence on Ho Chi Minh.], but that is most unlikely in an environment in which what is passing itself off as the international “Left” is so hostile to their revolution.

If things had went a little better in Libya, might the outcome in Syria have been different? There are many cascading effects to consider. Revolutionary Libya was already one of the strongest material and moral supports the Syrian people had. The new Libyan General National Congress voted hundreds of millions of dollars to support the uprising. Many Libyan thuwar, in the spirit of Che Guevara, joined the struggle in Syria as the one in Libya wound down. Many of Gaddafi weapons joined the fight on the other side. If Obama's CIA hadn't stopped them from getting his best anti-aircraft weapons [SA-7 MANPADS], much of Syria could have been spared being barrel-bombed into rumble.

A Left in the US and Europe that came to understand and support the Libyan revolution, probably would have supported the one in Syria too. What difference could that had made? If organizations like Veterans for Peace, Code Pink, and Democracy Now had come into this struggle on the side of the Syrian people, rather than seeing in their struggle an opportunity to score points against “neoliberalism,” could that had helped move things in the right direction? If they had spent the years protesting Assad's daily barrel-bombing of civilians, rather than hitting the streets only to defend his occasional use of chemical weapons, would that have changed things? Would ISIS still have been able to take Mosul if Obama had not reneged on his “red-line” promise? Would ISIS, and other reactionary Islamists, even have the mass appeal they now enjoy, if the “Left” alternative hadn't been shown to be so bankrupt? And finally, if these things had been handled differently by the Left, would Trump even be president now?

That is all water under the bridge. The question of the day is: Shall we have a Left that has humanity's best interest at heart and can learn from its mistakes, or one that is an appendage to white fascism? There is another Libyan model that is being quite purposely obscured by this revised definition; it is the example of a people who took their destiny into their own hands and threw off a fascist dictatorship that had ruled most of them all their lives. In that, I see hope for all of us.

Libyan government fighters celebrated after routing the last remaining forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi from the coastal town of Surt on Thursday. Credit Mauricio Lima for The New York Times. [Please allow me one last observation on background. We are told that the rebels who fought Gaddafi were all Islamic extremists, yet few of the men in this picture are sporting the type of beard that many consider mandatory for a devout Muslim man.]

These are the people who killed Gaddafi, and no amount of white-Left/alt-Right unity, around a so-called “Libyan model” that leaves them out of the picture, will change this truth.

Syria is the Paris Commune of the 21st Century!

Click here for our posts on the 2016 US Election
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Syria
Click here for a list of our other blogs on Libya