Howard Dean gets earful for claim Ukraine’s anti-Semitism struggle is Russian disinformation

The author of an article published in the Jewish-American press about anti-Semitic attacks in Ukraine has pushed back against progressive heartthrob Howard Dean, who suggested that the piece was inspired by Russian propaganda.

Lev Golinkin wrote an open letter to Dean – former six-term governor of Vermont and Chair of the Democratic National Committee – after he speculated on Twitter about Golinkin’s article, ‘Violent Anti-Semitism Is Gripping Ukraine — And The Government Is Standing Idly By,’ which was published by prominent Jewish-American outlet The Forward.

“Be interested to know if this is based on Russian disinformation,” Dean tweeted on June 24, in response to Golinkin’s piece.

Golinkin, who is Jewish, addressed Dean’s cynical insinuation in a letter published by The Forward two days later. He stressed that his article was published by a reputable Western media outlet and not a Russian one. He also claimed that, as a child refugee from the Soviet Union, he harbored little sympathy for the Kremlin.

He pointed out that his article cites numerous Western sources, including reports from State Department-funded Radio Free Europe. “I’m glad you’re exhibiting a healthy scepticism,” wrote Golinkin.

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Supporters and members of different far right nationalistic movements and parties, Kiev, Ukraine, January 1, 2018 © Sergii Kharchenko

“The next logical step would’ve been to look at the article, which contains 58 links to stories by established Western media, including Reuters, the New York Times, and US-funded Radio Free Europe; statements from Amnesty International and the Anti-Defamation League; a video from the World Jewish Congress; a report from the Israeli government; and a press release from the president of Ukraine acknowledging the existence of anti-Semitism in his own country.”

He then theorized that Dean had made his comment because highlighting right-wing vandalism, intimidation and violence in Ukraine was inconvenient to American foreign policy, which is obviously unacceptable.

“I like puppies and rainbows as much as everyone else; the reason I choose not to ignore neo-Nazis, however, is because, well, they’re neo-Nazis, and ignoring neo-Nazis doesn’t work,” Golinkin wrote. “Indeed, it has reached the point where US-funded Radio Free Europe — certainly not an arm of the Kremlin — is now filing regular reports about Roma pogroms and neo-Nazi street gangs, some of which are supported by the government — the very government we’re giving billions to.”

Although he sharply criticized Russian media for covering anything bad that’s happening in America, while “suppressing and ridiculing coverage of horrible things perpetuated by Moscow and its allies,” Golinkin said that “did Russia cover this?” should not be “a litmus test for what’s allowed to be discussed in American media.”

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Sugar maples could struggle in a warmer, drier future, despite help from nitrogen pollution

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Though Michigan’s sugar maples benefit from the growth-promoting effects of nitrogen compounds in the environment, those gains will not fully offset the added stresses of growing under a drier climate in the future, according to a new study. Sugar maples, known for their fiery fall foliage and as the main source of maple syrup, are a dominant tree species in the northern hardwood forests of eastern North America. They are found mainly in moist, well-drained soils and are drought-sensitive. Some climate forecasts for the Upper Great Lakes region in the coming decades call for warmer temperatures and an increased likelihood of summer drought, conditions that could prove stressful for sugar maples and other trees. Climate scientists and forest ecologists have long wondered whether the fertilizing effects of human-derived nitrogen would be enough to offset added stresses produced by a warmer, drier climate. The new study, based on 20 years of data from four forest sites in both Michigan peninsulas, concludes that nitrogen deposition from human activities “will not fully compensate for the negative effects of growing under the drier forecasted climates.”

Visit Website | Image credit: University of Michigan News/Michigan Gradient Study

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Ahed Tamimi Speaks of Her Struggle: “All I Wish Is for Palestine to Be Free”

Palestine/Israel

In late 2016, investigative journalist Abby Martin had the opportunity to interview 16-year-old Ahed Tamimi. The two discussed the hardships of living under Israeli occupation as well as Tamimi’s future aspirations. It quickly becomes apparent why her oppressors are attempting to silence the teen and her family.

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‘Vastly outnumbered’ US forces would struggle to win war with North Korea – former general

The United States would struggle to win if a war broke out with North Korea, as tensions over the country’s nuclear ambitions continue to mount on the peninsula. That’s according to a retired US general with years of experience in the region.

Now retired, Lt. Gen. Jan-Marc Jouas gave his views on a possible conflict with North Korea in a letter to Representatives Ted Lieu (D-CA), Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona), and Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-Illinois) earlier this week.

Jouas, formerly deputy commander of US Forces Korea, said the near 30,000-strong US forces stationed in the neighboring South would struggle to counter the North Korean Army, which the country claims almost 5 million people have volunteered for.

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© uriminzokkiri

“The 28,500 US Armed Forces personnel in South Korea are vastly outnumbered by North Korean forces,as well as ROK (South Korean) forces that will conduct the overwhelming majority of the fighting,” he wrote.

Jouas also stressed that unlike previous conflicts, the US would not be able build up its forces prior to engagement with the North Koreans, stating that it “will take days to months to arrive in theater [of war].”

In the meantime, the 25 million inhabitants of the South Korean capital, Seoul would be in grave danger from the enemy to the north and that US and allied forces would be “subject to attack by conventional or chemical weapons” which would further delay their entry into the war.

The retired general, who was “deeply involved” with developing plans to counter any potential attacks on South Korea from the North, warned that despite the US’ clear technological advantage, the sheer number of North Korean troops, coupled with the country’s “artillery, rockets and missiles,” would result in an “enormous casualty and evacuee crisis.”

Furthermore, the North Korean submarine force, “although technically inferior,” is among the largest in the world and “capable of sinking allied vessels, sowing mines and inserting Special Forces units.” There’s also the small matter of the country deploying unknown quantities of nuclear weapons against its enemies.

Jouas believes that there’s no such thing as a surgical strike designed to knock out North Korea’s nuclear capabilities and that any US attack, “no matter how limited,” would result in a full-scale war.

“An attack by the US on North Korea’s strategic nuclear capabilities, which they deem essential to the regime’s survival, would most likely be viewed as an existential threat and generate a corresponding response,” he wrote.

The letter comes just days after thousands of South Koreans flocked to the streets of Seoul to demand peace with North Korea and protest the visit by US President Donald Trump, who previously promised to unleash “fire and fury” against the “rocket man,” Kim Jong-un.  

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A Political Realignment is Necessary – The Real Struggle is Liberty vs. Authoritarianism

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By Michael Krieger

Until the American public ceases bickering amongst itself along Democratic and Republican or “left” vs. “right” lines, we’ll continue to be divided and conquered by authoritarians who wield tremendous power throughout both sides of the traditional political spectrum. This isn’t to say there aren’t real, meaningful differences between those who classify themselves on the “left” or the “right,” but it is to say there’s a much bigger battle afoot and nothing’s going to get better until we frame the new political reality for what it is. The most significant, existential struggle at play in these modern United States is a battle between Liberty and Authoritarianism, and it’s extremely important you know where you stand.

While the entire Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution is crucial to our civil liberties, no right is more significant than the First Amendment. If we lose freedom of speech, it’s game over for our society, and we have to understand that authoritarians on both the “right” and “left” are taking shots at freedom of speech as I write this. As such, differences between “right” and “left” should be deemphasized because if we lose the First Amendment, we lose everything.

A major political realignment is not simply a good idea, it’s absolutely crucial to the survival of a thriving civilization here in the U.S. The historical struggle we face today is not Democrat vs. Republican, or right vs. left, but Liberty vs. Authoritarianism. 

Let’s get started by highlighting an extremely creepy proposal recently published, titled, Fool Me Once: The Case for Government Regulation of “Fake News. One of the authors is Ann M. Ravel, who was previously a Democratic Commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

For the most part, the proposal outlines how social media should be regulated in order to track and categorize how advertisements on the platforms are created and distributed. It’s not until the end that the authors’ more Orwellian objectives become apparent. They write:

Government regulations to help voters avoid spreading disinformation

Educate social media users. Social media users can unintentionally spread disinformation when they interact with it in their newsfeeds. Depending on their security settings, their entire online social network can see items that they interact with (by “liking” or commenting), even if they are expressing their opposition to the content. Social media users should not interact with disinformation in their feeds at all (aside from flagging it for review by third party fact checkers). Government should require platforms to regularly remind social media users about not interacting with disinformation.

Similarly, after a social media user clicks “share” on a disputed item (if the platforms do not remove them and only label them as disputed), government can require that the user be reminded of the definition of libel against a public figure. Libel of public figures requires “actual malice”, defined as knowledge of falsity or reckless disregard for the truth. Sharing an item that has been flagged as untrue might trigger liability under libel laws.

Nudge social media users to not view disputed content. Lawmakers should require platforms to provide an opt-in (or, more weakly, opt-out) system for viewing disputed content and periodically remind users of their options. We think the courts should uphold this as a constitutional regulation of political speech, but we acknowledge that it is a closer question than the more straightforward disclosure regulations above. The most analogous cases are to commercial speech cases (AdChoices and Do Not Call Registry, which was upheld). Commercial speech receives less protection than political speech.

Think about how creepy all of that is. They want social media companies to warn its users when they’re apparently interacting with “disinformation,” which I assume government will enthusiastically define at a later date. Even worse, a simple warning isn’t enough for them, the authors actually want social media companies to warn citizens they might be exposed to libel laws if they share a particular piece of content.

As such, it becomes crystal clear that when it comes to libel laws some Democrats have a lot more in common with Donald Trump than they’d like you to believe. Which basically proves my point — there’s a lot more agreement between authoritarians on the “right” and the “left” than meets the eye. Both types want the power to control what you see, what you read and how you think. Don’t let political labels fool you, anti-free speech is anti-free speech whether it comes from a Democrat or a Republican. The real battle is Liberty vs. Authoritarianism.

Ron Paul Liberty Report – Archives

A struggle for power

Published online 9 November 2011 | Nature479, 160-161 (2011) | doi:10.1038/479160a
News: Brazil is developing the last great untapped reserve of hydroelectricity, the Amazon basin.
Jeff Tollefson

When a few hundred demonstrators, mostly from indigenous communities, temporarily occupied the construction site of the Belo Monte dam on Brazil’s Xingu River early on 27 October, workers laid down their tools. But the Brazilian government did not back down from its stance that this hydroelectric project on a tributary of the Amazon — expected to be among the world’s largest, with a capacity of 11,000 megawatts, when completed in 2015 — is essential to meeting the energy needs of a booming economy. Under a court order, the demonstrators vacated the site later the same day, but the dam remains the subject of fierce litigation.

The episode briefly drew the world’s attention to a controversial mega-project, but this is only part of a larger picture. Led by Brazil, governments in the region are increasingly looking to tap into the Amazon system to slake a growing thirst for energy. If current plans are realized, a wave of dam construction will bring staggering change and development to the rainforest in the coming decades.

Click for annotated version.

In a global context the Amazon stands out as an area of untapped potential, with the world’s greatest river system and a paucity of hydroelectric stations, says Mark Mulligan, a geographer at King’s College London, who has led the development of an interactive database of more than 36,000 dams around the world. One of his former students, Leonardo Sáenz, has moved on to Conservation International in Arlington, Virginia, where he is improving the database and incorporating dams that are planned and under construction in the Amazon (see ‘A beckoning prize’). The goal is to understand how those investments affect the broader landscape, both physically and economically.

According to the conservation group WWF, less than 10% of Brazil’s electrical power comes from dams in the Amazon region at present. The Belo Monte dam would boost this figure, and many more projects are on the drawing board, including 18 dams proposed for the Tapajós tributary system alone over the coming decade. Brazil has also signed an agreement to develop hydroelectric dams in the Peruvian Amazon in exchange for a share of the power.

Although the dams promise carbon-free electricity, they also lead to more road construction and deforestation as well as invasions of migrant workers and massive methane emissions when large swathes of forest are drowned. And, increasingly, experts fear that changing patterns of rainfall brought about by deforestation and climate change could reduce the energy return from dams, rendering many investments obsolete.

 “It’s really easy to get your infrastructure wrong, and that poses serious investment risks in the long run,” says John Matthews, a freshwater expert at Conservation International. “From this perspective climate change presents the ultimate risk in the Amazon.” Matthews fears that Brazil could become perilously reliant on an uncertain energy source, even as the government builds more dams.

“They are opening a new hydropower frontier, the last hydropower frontier in South America,” says Pedro Bara, who works for the WWF in Brasilia. “In 30 years, if all of the plans were implemented, half of Brazil’s energy would come from the Amazon.” 

 

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