Paris & San Bernardino Attacks ISIS Mythopoeia

newIn light of the Paris attacks there has been a rise in anti-Muslim animus as well as a deluge of propaganda and myth-making by the establishment media. Not only has inciteful political rhetoric been rationalized, but the hysteria has pushed many into calling for infringements on civil rights for American Muslims. 

In the United States fear mongering about terrorism has become theatrical, reaching such a degree that the shooting in San Bernardino is being framed as an organized ISIS plot instead of conventional US gun violence, despite the FBI admitting that they have found no connection to a foreign terrorist organization. 

The cartoonishly fascist nature of Donald Trump’s politics may essentially force voters into joining the Hillary Clinton camp due to a mess of demoralization, orientalist panic, and the entertainment-laced agitprop being spread by news outlets. And still there exists a troubling reality, that Donald Trump’s alarming rhetoric—including his calls for Muslims to wear forms of identification documenting their religion and banning Muslim immigrants entirely—is acceptable by large swaths of Americans. It reveals that anti-Muslim bigotry, which is being aided by a new Cold War push and the lack of a diverse press, is taking a more dramatic turn.

Join Abby and Robbie Martin on Media Roots Radio as they parse through the overwhelming disinformation regarding what many have branded “the second biggest terrorist attack since 9/11”, as well as the formulaic and hysterical response that has become emblematic following such tragedies.

 

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Listen to all previous episodes of Media Roots Radio here.

Follow @FluorescentGrey | @AbbyMartin

Abby Martin on The Joe Rogan Experience

JOE ROGAN AND IComedian Joe Rogan’s unfiltered podcast The Joe Rogan Experience (JRE) features a variety of awesome guests whose topics range from ancient civilizations to the police state.

I always love joining Joe while in LA, and recently got to discuss with him everything from Islam to the need for a new economic model.

Many fucks are said, so if you’re offended by swearing please skip the broadcast.

 

The Joe Rogan Experience with Abby Martin

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To download this podcast go here. Check out the last podcast I did with Joe focusing on Israel’s war on Gaza and the Drug War.

Some of my favorite topics to hear Joe and his guests wax philosophy about are space and consciousness, so I invited him on Breaking the Set to talk string theory, invisible aliens and collective DMT dreams.

 Joe Rogan on Breaking the Set

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While in Cali I also stopped by Bonoboville to speak to Dr. Susan Block, a sex therapist specializing in the philosophy of ethical hedonism. On her weekly radio show, we discussed everything from US hegemony to ecosexuality.

For a sweet write-up about the interview and an audio file to download it, go here.

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Abby Martin | @AbbyMartin

Drone Wars Can’t Exist Without Decades-Long Genocide in Congo

DronebyFLICKRAKROCKEFELLERIn January of 2014, a UN surveillance drone crashed in Eastern Congo.

According to the UN, the drone was part of a surveillance operation to keep tabs on warring militias that have been fighting in the country since 1996.

Ironic, considering the manufacture of drones is entirely dependent on the bloody conflict taking place on the ground below. That’s because the source of cobalt, a vital mineral in defense technologies like drones, is one of the many resources rebel groups in the Congo are fighting to control. In fact, every death by way of drone can be traced back to the embattled history of this region.

For several decades beginning in 1908, the Congo was a Belgian colony. In 1960,  a nationalist movement led by young postal clerk Patrice Lumumba was successful in gaining the country’s independence. Lumumba was then chosen as the first democratically elected Prime Minister of the Congo that year.

However his popularity, driven by a commitment to the economic and political liberation of the country, dissatisfied former colonists in Belgium and their American allies. Only months after his election, Lumumba was deposed by Western-backed forces. Within a year, he was captured by those forces and subsequently executed by firing squad on January 17, 1961.

After several years of jockeying for power, in 1965 military strongman Mobutu Sese Seko came to power in a US/Belgium backed coup. A staunch anti communist, Mobutu used much of the Congo’s resources to his personal gain, amassing a multi-billion dollar personal fortune throughout his years of cooperation with western governments and corporations.

It was during Mobutu’s rule in 1982 that the Congressional Budget Office released a report entitled “Cobalt: Policy Options for a Strategic Mineral”. In it, the CBO outlines how cobalt is an essential mineral used in American aerospace and defense technologies. Because of its necessity, the CBO declares that if cobalt supplies were to shortfall, it would be of great concern for the US government and national security.

The CBO also points out that the greatest producer of cobalt is the Congo, at the time known as Zaire. The report determines that the greatest threat to cobalt production in the Congo would be political unrest and quote “guerrilla insurrection” against Mobutu’s hardline rule.

Fifteen years later, the threat of Mobutu’s overthrow became a reality.

When Mobutu was ousted in 1997, Congo fell into chaos from which it never recovered, culminating with the takeover of yet another pro-western dictator Joseph Kabila in 2001 – but the violence never stopped. Despite enjoying a cozy relationship with US leaders, it is estimated that somewhere between 5.4 to 6 million people have died under Kabila’s watch in the deadliest conflict since World War II. According to Friends of the Congo spokesperson Kambale Musavuli, the conflict can all be traced back to the “War on Terror”.

“The battle in the Congo has really been about who’s going to control Congo’s resources and for whose benefit,” he says. “Cobalt [is] a mineral very essential to modern technologies…found in aerospace, in drones, in airplanes, in nuclear reactors, and it is a strategic mineral to the so called war on terror.”

In 2011, Kabila gave approval for American Mining Company Freeport-McMoRan to expand its ownership of the Tenke Fungureme mine – the largest cobalt reserve in the world – to 56 percent, making him quite popular in Washington.

However, not everyone in the US government has turned a blind eye to the fact that minerals like cobalt come with a heavy human cost. That’s why a few members of Congress made an effort to classify some resources as “conflict minerals,” which would require companies to disclose the sources of their products.

In fact, hidden within the 2010 Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform Bill, “Section 1502” promises to “monitor and stop commercial activities involving the natural resources of the Democratic Republic of Congo that contribute to the armed activities of armed groups and human rights violations”.

Yet cobalt was not named among the four “conflict minerals” classified in the report, despite the fact that it’s the most strategic and abundant resource in the Congo.

Perhaps that’s no surprise, considering that the VP of International Affairs at Freeport (formally VP of Africa), Melissa Sanderson, was a Political Counselor to the State Department for over two decades before joining the company. Specifically, she was the Charge d’Affairs at the US Embassy in the Congo.

With the conflict of interest so entrenched and drone strikes replacing conventional warfare, it’s hard to imagine how any top-down policy could foster real change. Ultimately, Musavuli says that rather than count on governments and corporations to put peace before profits, the solution lies in the people.

“They need the people in Pakistan [and] Afghanistan who are being bombed day and night by drones to know that those drones would be able to be sending those missiles [into their] community if the western powers did not have access to minerals in the Congo,” he says. “[Minerals] such as uranium, such as cobalt…creating those alliances with people who believe in peace and freedom and human dignity will be a change maker as we continue to support those who are fighting on the ground [in the Congo].”

Indeed, while the struggle begins with democratizing the source of cobalt in the Congo, it won’t prevail without global solidarity. Yet until people realize the interconnectedness of these conflicts, such unity may prove to be its greatest obstacle.

Written by Anya Parampil, Follow me @anyaparampil

Photo by flickr user AK ROCKEFELLER

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How Words Absolve Pillaging and Mass Murder

WordsFlickrKool_SkatkatObama’s election marked a new dawn for hundreds of millions of people, who were looking to an eloquent, constitutional lawyer for “Hope” and “Change” in America. However, it quickly became apparent that Obama had little substance beyond the slogans branded by his campaign.

With a little more than a year left in his presidency, his milquetoast legacy has been embodied by his greatest skill: wordcraft. Obama’s team has continued, if not exacerbated, most Bush era policies, simply rebranding them in order to appease and confuse the public into compliance.

One of the first things his administration did was declare an end to the “War on Terror” that the Bush sociopaths launched worldwide. Turns out, all they wanted to do was stop calling it a “War on Terror,” making clear that any further military involvement abroad would simply be called “Overseas Contingency Operations.”

Six years later, and the Nobel Peace Prize winning president has bombing campaigns in seven different countries under his belt. And the casualties of the empire’s plunders? Collateral damage.

There are also new terms for war. When US and NATO bombed the hell out of Libya resulting in the failed state we see today, it wasn’t a war. No, it was merely a “Kinetic Military Action,” according to government officials.

Torture is now “enhanced interrogation techniques”, and the act of kidnapping and exporting torture is simply called “extraordinary rendition”.

Whenever the administration sends predator drones to bomb people around the world, they’re just “surgical strikes” targeting “militants”. However, simply being military aged male constitutes someone as a militant, and according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, less than four percent of drone victims in Pakistan are officially listed as al Qaeda.

When Obama’s cabinet dropped the term “enemy combatant”, it was a purely symbolic move to distance itself away from the Bush Guantanamo era. Unfortunately, over 140 men still remain rotting away in the notorious prison despite what they’re now called on paper. And when these prisoners go on a hunger strike, it’s now called a “long term non-religious fast”.

As journalist Glenn Greenwald reminds us, altering the names of policies doesn’t change the fact that they’re still happening:

“The Obama administration…makes only the most cosmetic and inconsequential changes – designed to generate headlines misleadingly depicting a significant reversal – while, in fact, retaining the crux of Bush’s extremist detention theory.”

Obviously this rebranding tactic wasn’t invented by Obama’s PR team. 

Propaganda was propelled with the advent of PR genius Edward Bernays and later Nazi mastermind Joseph Goebbels, whose powerful techniques have been perfected and employed for decades by governments worldwide. Disturbing Newspeak phrases that absolve their pillaging and mass murder have permeated society and warped our interpretation of reality.

 

How Words Absolve Mass Murder

The term “Mowing the Lawn” is what governments say to allude to the literal mowing down of civilians. Shockingly, the callous term has been used not only by Israeli military commanders in reference to the recent bloodbath of Palestinians, but it’s also been used by Obama’s counter-terrorism adviser Bruce Riedel who said this about drone strikes:

“You’ve got to mow the lawn all the time. The minute you stop mowing, the grass is going to grow back.”

If you think that’s bad, officials also use the cute phrase “Shake ‘n Bake” to refer to using banned white phosphorus before blowing up people with high grade explosives. Administrators also think so lowly of the people they’re killing with flying robots that they brutishly call them “bug splats”.

Beyond war, in today’s cut throat capitalist world overrun by neoliberal doctrine, there’s a language of dehumanization employed towards everything, spoken among the elite class and policy heads in order to keep things running efficiently.

As the Guardian points out, the term “cleansing the stock” is actually used to describe excess human beings by parliamentarians. After all, you can’t afford to actually feel emotion, empathy or sorrow for the paupers at the bottom of the totem pole.

Unsurprisingly, when it comes to the natural world, the language is even more crude.

According to journalist George Monbiot,

“Nature is “natural capital”. Ecological processes are ecosystem services, because their only purpose is to serve us. Hills, forests and rivers are described in government reports as green infrastructure. Wildlife and habitats are asset classes in an ecosystems market. Fish populations are invariably described as stocks, as if they exist only as moveable assets from which wealth can be extracted – like disabled recipients of social security.”

All of these devaluing terms have seeped into mainstream consciousness, dutifully repeated by media figures and then, by us.

Words hold tremendous power, and if we don’t reclaim our language and start seeing people instead of “militants”, drone victims instead of “bug splats”, or natural splendor instead of “green infrastructure”, then the voiceless are destined to be silenced forever.

Follow me at @AbbyMartin

Media Roots Radio – Abby Goes to Gitmo

Recently I traveled to one of the most nefarious prisons in the world: Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Despite repeated government pledges to close the infamous detention facility down, 149 men remained indefinitely imprisoned there.

gitmoAccording to a top Bush administration official, the vast majority of prisoners are innocent, and were either swept up in a dragnet or handed over in exchange for US bounties.

It’s already hard enough traveling to Gitmo as a journalist, but upon arrival I realized the experience was going to be controlled 24/7 by military escorts preventing us from going anywhere near the detainees I had come to report on.

However, I was able to speak with several top brass defense attorneys for the military commissions, a corrupt system that grants alleged terrorists less rights than civilian courts. The fact that six men are facing formal charges at the prison in relation to 9/11 & the USS Cole bombing gives the world the false impression that even alleged terrorists get their day in court. In reality, the remaining 143 men never charged with a crime may never get that luxury.

Amazingly, according to their lawyers, the detainees watch RT and Breaking the Set regularly.

My brother Robbie interviewed me about my intense experience at Gitmo for Media Roots Radio, a much more personal account than presented on my show.

Watch my on-the-ground documentary special about Guantanamo Bay here.

Follow me @AbbyMartin, and my brother Robbie @fluorescentgrey