Friday, March 23, 2018

Facebook the Surveillance and Social Control Grail NOT Under Deep State Control

NewYorker |  Twelve years later, the fixation on data as the key to political persuasion has exploded into scandal. For the past several days, the Internet has been enveloped in outrage over Facebook and Cambridge Analytica, the shadowy firm that supposedly helped Donald Trump win the White House. As with the Maoist rebels, this appears to be a tale of data-lust gone bad. In order to fulfill the promises that Cambridge Analytica made to its clients—it claimed to possess cutting-edge “psychographic profiles” that could judge voters’ personalities better than their own friends could—the company had to harvest huge amounts of information. It did this in an ethically suspicious way, by contracting with Aleksandr Kogan, a psychologist at the University of Cambridge, who built an app that collected demographic data on tens of millions of Facebook users, largely without their knowledge. “This was a scam—and a fraud,” Paul Grewal, Facebook’s deputy general counsel, told the Times over the weekend. Kogan has said that he was assured by Cambridge Analytica that the data collection was “perfectly legal and within the limits of the terms of service.”

Despite Facebook’s performance of victimization, it has endured a good deal of blowback and blame. Even before the story broke, Trump’s critics frequently railed at the company for contributing to his victory by failing to rein in fake news and Russian propaganda. To them, the Cambridge Analytica story was another example of Facebook’s inability, or unwillingness, to control its platform, which allowed bad actors to exploit people on behalf of authoritarian populism. Democrats have demanded that Mark Zuckerberg, the C.E.O. of Facebook, testify before Congress. Antonio Tajani, the President of the European Parliament, wants to talk to him, too. “Facebook needs to clarify before the representatives of five hundred million Europeans that personal data is not being used to manipulate democracy,” he said. On Wednesday afternoon, after remaining conspicuously silent since Friday night, Zuckerberg pledged to restrict third-party access to Facebook data in an effort to win back user trust. “We have a responsibility to protect your data, and if we can’t then we don’t deserve to serve you,” he wrote on Facebook.

But, as some have noted, the furor over Cambridge Analytica is complicated by the fact that what the firm did wasn’t unique or all that new. In 2012, Barack Obama’s reĆ«lection campaign used a Facebook app to target users for outreach, giving supporters the option to share their friend lists with the campaign. These efforts, compared with those of Kogan and Cambridge Analytica, were relatively transparent, but users who never gave their consent had their information sucked up anyway. (Facebook has since changed its policies.) As the sociologist Zeynep Tufekci has written, Facebook itself is a giant “surveillance machine”: its business model demands that it gather as much data about its users as possible, then allow advertisers to exploit the information through a system so complex and opaque that misuse is almost guaranteed.

Facebook, and the Revelations of Open Secrets

NewYorker |  When Facebook finally acknowledged that Cambridge Analytica was using Facebook data it had obtained surreptitiously, the company’s response was not to alert its users or audit its partners or engage in any sort of meaningful reform. Rather, it sent a polite request to Cambridge Analytica asking it to delete the GSR-sourced material, some of which, according to the Times, remains on the company’s servers.

This weekend’s reports about Facebook and Cambridge Analytica did introduce us to Christopher Wylie, a twenty-eight-year-old Canadian coder and data scientist, who conceived and helped construct C.A.’s psychographic tools. For at least a year, it seems, Wylie had been feeding information to Carole Cadwalladr and her team at the Guardian and its sister paper, the Observer. Now he is out of the shadows. In a thirteen-minute video posted on the Guardian’s Web site on Saturday, Wylie details the story of the creation and deployment of “the weapon” that he and Nix sold to Bannon, and then to Mercer, to fight their “culture war.” It was in those early days of 2014, Wylie says, that he and Bannon began testing slogans like “drain the swamp” and “the deep state” and “build the wall,” and found a surprising number of Americans who responded strongly to them. All they needed was a candidate to parrot them. Cambridge Analytica promised that psychographics could not only target people as voters but also as personalities. “We would know what kind of messaging you’d be susceptible to and where you are going to consume it and how many times we are going to have to touch you with it to change how you think about something,” Wylie told the Guardian. “Web sites will be created. Blogs will be created—whatever we think this target profile will be receptive to. See it, click it, and go down the rabbit hole until they start to think something different.” The goal was to break society. “It is only when you break it can you remodel the pieces into your vision of a new society.” As one former executive of Mercer’s hedge fund told The New Yorker’s Jane Mayer, last year, “He wants it to all fall down.”

Perhaps the most telling revelation from the recent reporting—aside from the U.K.’s Channel 4 catching Alexander Nix on camera explaining how his company could supply beautiful Ukrainian women to entrap politicians—is that Cambridge Analytica is essentially a shell company created by the British firm Strategic Communications Laboratories. During the 2016 campaign, according to Cadwalladr, C.A. was staffed primarily by non-U.S. citizens, in possible violation of American campaign-finance laws. This included the contractors the firm brought to Austin, Texas, to work with Trump’s digital team there.

“We were really speaking directly to the voters in a number of states,” one former C.A. employee, who worked with a number of non-U.S. citizens or green-card holders, told the Guardian.

What right really do they have to demand to block any information getting to us?

"Google has partnered with the United States Department of Defense to help the agency develop artificial intelligence for analyzing drone footage, a move that set off a firestorm among employees of the technology giant when they learned of Google’s involvement." — Gizmodo / March 6, 2018
Gizmodo's report on Google's work for the Pentagon has been making headlines all day. It's also thrown the normally placid halls of Google's Mountain View HQ into chaos. Seems that Googlers can't believe that their awesome company would get involved in something as heinous as helping the Pentagon increase its drone targeting capability. 

But the fact that Google helps the military build more efficient systems of surveillance and death shouldn't be surprising, especially not to Google employees. The truth is that Google has spent the last 15 years selling souped-up versions of its information technology to military and intelligence agencies, local police departments, and military contractors of all size and specialization — including outfits that sell predictive policing tech deployed in cities across America today.
As I outline in my book Surveillance Valley, it started in 2003 with customized Google search solutions for data hosted by the CIA and NSA. The company's military contracting work then began to expand in a major way after 2004, when Google cofounder Sergey Brin pushed for buying Keyhole, a mapping startup backed by the CIA and the NGA, a sister agency to the NSA that handles spy satellite intelligence. 

Spooks loved Keyhole because of the "video game-like" simplicity of its virtual maps. They also appreciated the ability to layer visual information over other intelligence. The sky was the limit. Troop movements, weapons caches, real-time weather and ocean conditions, intercepted emails and phone call intel, cell phone locations — whatever intel you had with a physical location could be thrown onto a map and visualized. Keyhole gave an intelligence analyst, a commander in the field, or an air force pilot up in the air the kind of capability that we now take for granted: using digital mapping services on our computers and mobile phones to look up restaurants, cafes, museums, traffic conditions, and subway routes. "We could do these mashups and expose existing legacy data sources in a matter of hours, rather than weeks, months, or years," an NGA official gushed about Keyhole — the company that we now know as Google Earth.

Military commanders weren’t the only ones who liked Keyhole's ability to mash up data. So did Google cofounder Sergey Brin.

The purchase of Keyhole was a major milestone for Google, marking the moment the company stopped being a purely consumer-facing Internet company and began integrating with the US government. While Google’s public relations team did its best to keep the company wrapped in a false aura of geeky altruism, company executives pursued an aggressive strategy to become the Lockheed Martin of the Internet Age. “We’re functionally more than tripling the team each year,” a Google exec who ran Google Federal, the company's military sales division, said in 2008.
It was true. With insiders plying their trade, Google’s expansion into the world of military and intelligence contracting took off.

What kind of work?

Thursday, March 22, 2018

The Black Desk 2.0: Welcome to the Real Face of the FBI

medium |   A new Intercept article by George Joseph and Murtaza Hussain reports on never-before-seen documents obtained from the FBI via Freedom of Information Act by the civil rights groups Color of Change and the Center for Constitutional Rights. The FOIA request for FBI files pertaining to Black Lives Matter activism was answered with a stack of heavily-redacted documents revealing evidence of police stakeouts at the homes and vehicles of activists, as well as the use of police informants, with no mention of any potential crimes suspected of the people they were monitoring.

One such document is a report provided “for coordination with Monsanto” describing a single Black Lives Matter activist’s plans to fly from New York City to Ferguson for a 2014 protest against racially motivated police brutality. The document covers the protesters’ plans to begin their demonstration at a Monsanto factory, as well as money raised for protest materials and bail money, without a single visible mention of potential crimes or violence.

“Coordination with Monsanto.” To protect them from Black Lives Matter protesters.

Welcome to the real face of the FBI.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation has enjoyed an obscene resurgence in popularity among purportedly left-wing Americans lately as the current administration locks horns with them over the imperialist Russiagate psyop, but the FBI has never been the friend of anyone other than establishment power structures. The FBI does not exist to protect and serve the American people, and it certainly doesn’t exist to protect the rights of black Americans to protest the violence of an increasingly militarized police force. The FBI exists to protect Monsanto, and all the other seats of real corporatist power in the United States.

What's Wrong With Former CIA Director John Brennan?

consortiumnews |  What prompted former CIA Director John Brennan on Saturday to accuse President Donald Trump of “moral turpitude” and to predict, with an alliterative flourish, that Trump will end up “as a disgraced demagogue in the dustbin of history”? The answer shines through the next sentence in Brennan’s threatening tweet: “You may scapegoat Andy McCabe [former FBI Deputy Director fired Friday night] but you will not destroy America…America will triumph over you.”

It is easy to see why Brennan lost it. The Attorney General fired McCabe, denying him full retirement benefits, because McCabe “had made an unauthorized disclosure to the news media and lacked candor — including under oath — on multiple occasions.” There but for the grace of God go I, Brennan must have thought, whose stock in trade has been unauthorized disclosures.

In fact, Brennan can take but small, short-lived consolation in the fact that he succeeded in leaving with a full government pension. His own unauthorized disclosures and leaks probably dwarf in number, importance, and sensitivity those of McCabe.  And many of those leaks appear to have been based on sensitive intercepted conversations from which the names of American citizens were unmasked for political purposes. Not to mention the leaks of faux intelligence like that contained in the dubious “dossier” cobbled together for the Democrats by British ex-spy Christopher Steele.

It is an open secret that the CIA has been leaking like the proverbial sieve over the last two years or so to its favorite stenographers at the New York Times and Washington Post. (At one point, the obvious whispering reached the point that the Wall Street Journal saw fit to complain that it was being neglected.) The leaking can be traced way back — at least as far as the Clinton campaign’s decision to blame the Russians for the publication of very damning DNC emails by WikiLeaks just three days before the Democratic National Convention.

This blame game turned out to be a hugely successful effort to divert attention from the content of the emails, which showed in bas relief the dirty tricks the DNC played on Bernie Sanders. The media readily fell in line, and all attention was deflected from the substance of the DNC emails to the question as to why the Russians supposedly “hacked into the DNC and gave the emails to WikiLeaks.”

This media operation worked like a charm, but even Secretary Clinton’s PR person, Jennifer Palmieri, conceded later that at first it strained credulity that the Russians would be doing what they were being accused of doing.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

"Defense is NumberOne" Always Looks So Shady...,

strategic-culture |  On March 17, the Russian General Staff warned about an imminent attack on Syria. The statement did not elaborate. Of course, some information is classified but an independent and impartial analysis of publicly available information leads one to the same conclusion. Let’s look at the facts.

There are warships deployed by US Navy in the Red Sea, the Mediterranean, and the Persian Gulf. They are ready to launch roughly 400 long-range Tomahawks against a target in the Middle East on any given day. Sea-launched cruise missiles were used to strike Syria in April. Anything that is at all related to the military operations on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean is hush-hush information, but it’s an open secret that the strategic bombers based there can launch at least a hundred cruise missiles and then use other high-precision munitions in a follow-up attack. On average, one bomber carries 20 AGM-86 ALCMs. Five bombers are believed to be normally stationed on this island that is off-limits to inquisitive outsiders. This means that at least 500 cruise missiles can be fired on short notice.

On March 17, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov declared that Great Britain, France, and some additional countries besides the US had special forces operating in Syria that were engaging the Syrian Army directly. But it’s not just commandos.

It was reported on March 16 that the UK would be stationing a significant number of troops at the US-controlled Al-Tanf military base, adjacent to the Iraqi border. This facility is prominently eatured in NATO’s war planning in Syria. It blocks the corridor linking Iran to Lebanon via Syria and Iraq. The size of the deployment — about 2,300 troops accompanied by tanks and helicopters — is too significant just to be intended to fight Islamic State militants who are already on the run.

Inside Israel's Secret Raid On Syria's North Korean Nuclear Reactor

politico |  Even if President Donald Trump is able to reach an agreement with Kim Jong Un, with North Korea promising to freeze or even dismantle its nuclear program, there will always be uncertainty about possible cheating.

Just ask Israel—which, despite having one of the world’s most competent and aggressive intelligence services, the Mossad—nearly missed the fact that North Korea was helping build a nuclear reactor in next-door Syria, a country long viewed by Israel as a dangerous threat.

The American CIA missed it, too, and now, 11 years after Israeli air force jets bombed the clandestine Syrian facility, Israel’s military censor is finally lifting the veil of secrecy and permitting locally based reporters to publish interviews with participants in the operation for the first time. We spoke with dozens of former cabinet ministers, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, as well as military and intelligence chiefs and commanders and even some of the pilots who took part in the operation. The codename for the Sept. 6, 2007, raid, conducted near the remote desert city of Deir ez-Zur: “Outside the Box.” Before today, Israel has never officially acknowledged its existence.

Years later, Israeli spooks are still raising bitter questions about the CIA’s intelligence failure. Former Mossad director Tamir Pardo asked in an interview with us: “Where were the Americans? North Korea is a highly important target for them. And it still isn’t clear whether [Syrian President Bashar] Assad was running the nuclear project, or was it the North Koreans?” The former spy chief added that he has some doubts that Syria was going to keep the plutonium, or perhaps it was going to be shipped to North Korea as a supply of which the West would be unaware. “This is a resounding failure by the Americans,” Pardo said.

Pardo’s questions raise another: If one of the best intelligence communities in the world, and certainly the most formidable in the Middle East, could be fooled by North Koreans and Syrians, what might the CIA be missing? That could be true in Korea, in Iran, or almost anywhere on Earth.

The Israeli air force raid on a secluded, unmarked building in northeastern Syria took place—a few minutes after midnight between 5th and 6th of September. To attack deep in enemy territory is easy, but Israel’s American-made F-15 and F-16 jets enjoyed protection by sophisticated electronic jamming that blinded Syria’s air defenses, and they had no trouble dropping tons of explosives on the target and confirming visually that it had been flattened. (Photos, many provided by Israeli intelligence, were released by the CIA to Congress – and immediately leaked to the media in Washington.) 

The Syrian facility was almost identical to the Yongbyon nuclear complex in North Korea that produced plutonium for nuclear bombs, according to Israeli intelligence officials, and it was only weeks away from beginning to produce highly radioactive materials.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

George Clooney?!?!?! The Key to Making Peace in Africa

ForeignPolicy |  The scenario in South Sudan is hardly unique. Something similar plays out across many African countries torn by conflict, including the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Sudan. Oil, gold, diamonds, cobalt, copper, and a variety of other mineral deposits and trafficked wildlife provide immense opportunity for those in power to line their own pockets. Brutally repressing all forms of opposition is seen as the only way to maintain control of the spoils.

Remarkably, there is currently no coordinated strategy to disrupt the illicit siphoning of money by leaders and their foreign business partners. For leaders, giving up power almost certainly means losing access to their spoils, and it might even mean facing prosecution. Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa: taxpayers and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars.

Every year, billions of aid dollars pour into Africa: taxpayers and donors around the world fund peacekeeping forces, state-building programs, humanitarian assistance, elections, and peace processes. But none of this support has been able to keep corrupt leaders and their network of beneficiaries from stealing billions of dollars.
This is the fatal flaw of peacemaking in Africa: those supporting mediation lack the leverage necessary to stop corrupt figures from using their forces to bomb, burn, imprison, silence, torture, starve, impoverish, kill, and rape to maintain or gain power. South Sudanese peace talks, for example, are currently stuck because Kiir and his allies have rejected any notion of sharing power with the rebels, since such an arrangement would require giving up their exclusive grip on the crudely-constructed looting machine masquerading as a government.

For years, the tool of choice for building leverage against actors undermining peace or human rights has been to impose targeted sanctions. But sanctions have been used sparingly in Africa. They have been applied to only a few individuals at a time, with very little enforcement, and are rarely extended to predatory commercial collaborators, both inside and outside Africa, who facilitate and enable official misdeeds. Over time, warring parties have come to regard sanctions as a vague annoyance for their public relations rather than as any serious threat to their power. The Obama and Trump administrations recently removed comprehensive sanctions against neighboring Sudan, but were unable to extract meaningful changes in Khartoum’s behavior. This move is a potent example of the folly of current peace efforts in Africa, which have for the most part eschewed the use of readily available tools for applying pressure that are both more sophisticated and better focused. 

This standard but failing approach can change. Serious financial pressure with real bite is not only possible; it has proved effective in the past. 

As a start, sanctions must be levied against entire networks, not just individuals. That was the approach the United States took with Iran and North Korea in order to drive them to the negotiating table. The United States deployed extensive sanctions targeting Iran’s leadership and military networks in an effort to disrupt the illicit funding streams used by the country’s ruling elites to maintain their grip on Iran’s economy. For example, in June 2013, the U.S. Treasury Department blacklisted the Execution of Imam Khomeini’s Order, a state-owned entity that includes 37 ostensibly private businesses located around the world, many of which were used as front companies meant to evade sanctions. They generated and controlled massive, off-the-books investments that they hid from both the Iranian people and international regulators. 

Wlhat Does Hollywood Gain By Placing the Queer Gaze in the Spotlight?

LATimes |  Such an approach, and the resulting film, is a manifestation of the unique vantage point Berlanti brings to projects as a gay man. As Hollywood continues conversations about inclusion and diversity, the distinctive outlooks LGBTQ filmmakers bring have become a calling card. Call it the "queer gaze."

The "male gaze," a term coined in 1975 by film theorist Laura Mulvey, describes how film — and art of all sorts — is created through the lens of a heterosexual man. Such a gaze has manifested itself in stereotypical roles for women and minorities, including the busty dumb blond and the sassy black woman.

Over the last couple of years, awareness has risen for an unofficial retort, the "female gaze," as women have taken and been given more opportunities to write and direct their own narratives with female characters at the center. Look no further than the boom of women behind the scenes in television — from the all-female directing teams of "Queen Sugar" and "Jessica Jones" to the writers rooms of "Crazy Ex-Girlfriend" and "Jane the Virgin" — for representations of women toppling patriarchal conventions.

The "queer gaze," meanwhile, remains less known and discussed as a creative perspective. A direct response to the oft unspoken of yet ever-present "straight gaze," the queer gaze recognizes how lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people create and view art. Moreover, it challenges binary notions of existence and storytelling employed in many male gaze versus female gaze conversations where the context is nearly always heterosexual.

LATimes |  I have never been so upset by a poll in my life. Only 22% of Americans now believe "the movie and television industries are pretty much run by Jews," down from nearly 50% in 1964. The Anti-Defamation League, which released the poll results last month, sees in these numbers a victory against stereotyping. Actually, it just shows how dumb America has gotten. Jews totally run Hollywood.

How deeply Jewish is Hollywood? When the studio chiefs took out a full-page ad in the Los Angeles Times a few weeks ago to demand that the Screen Actors Guild settle its contract, the open letter was signed by: News Corp. President Peter Chernin (Jewish), Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey (Jewish), Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger (Jewish), Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton (surprise, Dutch Jew), Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer (Jewish), CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves (so Jewish his great uncle was the first prime minister of Israel), MGM Chairman Harry Sloan (Jewish) and NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker (mega-Jewish). If either of the Weinstein brothers had signed, this group would have not only the power to shut down all film production but to form a minyan with enough Fiji water on hand to fill a mikvah.

Monday, March 19, 2018

The Alt-Right and the Jewish Question

Quillette |  For many on the alt-right, every grievance is, at root, about Jews. Andrew Anglin, host of the most popular alt-right/neo-Nazi website, explains: “the only thing in our movement that really matters [is] anti-Semitism.” If only the Jews were gone, he argues, the white race, freed from bondage, would immediately overcome all of its problems. Where does this attitude come from?
Jews are a conspicuous people, small in number but large in footprint. As Mark Twain wrote in 1899:
If the statistics are right, the Jews constitute but one quarter of one percent of the human race….Properly, the Jew ought hardly to be heard of, but he is heard of, has always been heard of. He is as prominent on the planet as any other people, and his importance is extravagantly out of proportion to the smallness of his bulk….What is the secret of his immortality?
For many people throughout history, the answer to Twain’s question was simple: Jews conspire among themselves to dominate and disadvantage gentiles. This answer fell out of fashion, at least in polite society, after World War II. Since the 1990s, however, the conspiratorial account of Jewish prominence has taken on a new, more meretricious form in the work of (now retired) California State University, Long Beach psychologist Kevin MacDonald, known affectionately among alt-righters as “KMac.” According to Richard Spencer, the inventor of the term “alt-right” and unofficial leader of the movement: “There is no man on the planet who has done more for the understanding of the pole around which the world revolves than Kevin MacDonald.” And: “KMac…may be the most essential man in our movement in terms of thought leader[ship].” To understand the alt-right’s anti-Semitism, we must understand MacDonald’s ideas, particularly as outlined in his most influential book, The Culture of Critique.

According to MacDonald, Judaism is a “group evolutionary strategy.” Jews possess both genetic and cultural adaptations (including, on the genetic side, high IQ and ethnocentrism) that allow them to develop successful intellectual movements that undermine gentile society and promote their own group continuity. “Jewish intellectual movements,” MacDonald argues, are led by charismatic figures analogous to rabbis. They attack white nationalism while promoting Jewish nationalism, and use pseudoscience to “pathologize” anti-Semitism, which in reality is a justified response to “Jewish aggression.” According to MacDonald, Jewish intellectual movements include Freudianism, Frankfurt School critical theory, and multiculturalism. These movements, MacDonald claims, taught white gentiles to reject ethnocentrism and accept high levels of nonwhite immigration to their countries while tolerating Jewish ethnocentrism and racially restrictive immigration policies in Israel.

MacDonald’s theory and the anti-Semitism of many on the alt-right are largely reactions to the perceived liberalism of Jews. One of us (Cofnas) has just published an academic paper that examines MacDonald’s most influential book, The Culture of Critique, and finds that it is chock full of misrepresented sources, cherry-picked facts, and egregious distortions of history. MacDonald and the alt-righters are, nevertheless, correct that many liberal leaders over the last hundred years have been Jewish. We’d like to offer an explanation for this phenomenon, as well as determine whether Jewish liberalism is the cause or the result of anti-Semitism.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

What, Exactly, Are Male Supremacy Groups?

rantt |  Last month, the Southern Poverty Law Center for the first time added two male supremacy groups to its hate group watch list, noting in their announcement that “the vilification of women by these groups makes them no different than other groups that demean entire populations, such as the LGBT community, Muslims or Jews, based on their inherent characteristics.”

The decision to officially track the actions of two groups espousing male supremacy ideology comes at a time in which fringe and extremist groups have become increasingly emboldened through many factors, such astheir unprecedented access to key political leaders. And it also comes at a time when these groups are affecting tangible, real-world damage—to women, to marginalized people, to media, and to the overarching landscape of American politics.

The rise and embrace of male supremacy groups has yielded violence and provably damaging anti-woman White House policies. But perhaps most terrifying of all, groups that operate on the premise of white male victimhood, of the equation of female empowerment and diversity to anti-male persecution, are spreading the message that marginalized voices are a threat to free speech that must be expunged. This ideology of invalidating modern feminist speech is most recognizable in that innocuous term, “political correctness” — the idea that basic demands for respect and recognition are somehow far from basic, and rather, an oppressive overreach; that speech in opposition to misogynistic, hateful speech is somehow not free speech, but rather, the hate speech that it responds to is.

The very concept of political correctness, espoused by the same thinkers who founded male supremacy activism, is meant to trivialize oppression, and through that trivialization, silence, rewrite history, and make marginalized groups vulnerable to political attacks.

Scientific Integrity Within the Academic and Media Industrial Complexes

CounterPunch |  You may not recognize names like Amy Cuddy, Kristina Durante, or Brian Wansink but if you listen to NPR, watch TED talks, or read popular online news sites or local and national outlets such as the New York Times, you have probably stumbled across their work. They are among a growing number of academics who have produced one or more exciting, novel, too-amazing-to-be-true research studies that have caught the attention of the media and have been widely disseminated through American culture to the point that we may have internalized their findings as fact. Yet their work has since been debunked, shown to be unscientific and irreproducible. It is all part of what has been dubbed the “replication crisis” in science. Since replication is one of the basic tenets of science, failure to reproduce the results of a study (especially after several attempts) indicates a lack of support for the original findings. How does this happen time and time again, and what does it say about science and the news media?

Case 1 – Amy Cuddy
Amy Cuddy’s famous study on how an assertive “power pose” could elevate testosterone levels and increase a person’s confidence and risk-taking was published in the prestigious Psychological Science, one of the top journals in that field. Then a professor in the Harvard Business School, Cuddy went on to give the second most-popular TED talk ever, sign a book deal, and travel around the world commanding huge fees on the lecture circuit based on the general theme of her study. In the meantime, other skeptical researchers Joe Simmons and Uri Simonsohn questioned the veracity of her claims and Eva Ranehill and collegues failed to replicate the results of the study. One of Cuddy’s co-authors, Dana Carney, has since withdrawn her support of the study, saying “I do not believe the effects are real.” But Cuddy, having voluntarily left her academic position, still stands by her work.

In truth, not only is the power pose study a replication failure, it is a failure of peer review. No one needs a particularly specialized expertise to see some of the problems with the study. One glance at the methods section of the paper and you see the sample size of 42, hardly sufficient or statistically powerful. In addition, like in many studies, specific subjective proxies were used to indicate a much more general, supposedly objective, finding. Here, risk taking was measured by participants’ willingness to perform a certain gambling task. Yet one’s interest in gambling is not necessarily directly proportional to one’s interest in other risky activities. Further, participants’ levels of confidence were self-reported on a scale of 1-5. Self-reporting is always error prone, because your level of “2” may not be equivalent to my level of “2.” And yet, all of these subjective measurements are treated as concrete quantifiable data. Finally, the study assumed no cultural differences; demonstrations of power or confidence might not be viewed as beneficial and positive as they are assumed to be in the American culture.

You can see how the reliability of the study deteriorates under scrutiny. But no study is perfect. One of the biggest problems with this study and many similar ones is not just how unreliable the results are, but that the results are treated as generalizable to everyone everywhere. If Cuddy had defined the results as provisional and contingent upon certain assumptions, and circumstances, then her research might have been more defendable, but instead she presented her shoddy science as universal immutable fact. This practice appears to be too widespread.

Saturday, March 17, 2018

Psy-Opping, Gaslighting, and Outright Lying - MSM Weirder By the Minute...,

medium |  This Red Scare reboot keeps getting stranger and stranger.

In a recent discussion with Infowars‘ Alex Jones, Luis Elizondo of To The Stars Academy spoke about new video footage of UFO phenomena recently released by the Pentagon, and says the three videos that have been released so far comprise just a small fraction of the strange and compelling evidence that he has accessed personally.

“These are just three videos now that have come out that everybody’s looking at,” Elizondo said as Jones downed an entire pitcher of CAVEMAN True Alpha Bone Broth Formula™ without pausing to breathe or breaking eye contact with the camera. “But there is far more compelling evidence that I was privy to that — you know, I think you’re looking at the tip of the iceberg.”

“It could be anything, so I wouldn’t rule anything out, and that’s why I think we need to look at it,” Elizondo added. “I mean it could be Russian. It could be Chinese. It could be little green men from Mars. We don’t know what the hell it is.”

Oh wait, sorry, I got mixed up. That wasn’t Infowars, it was CNN.

The mass media propaganda machine is very busy. It’s got wars to manufacture consent for, it’s got Russia to lie about, it’s got a CIA-packed midterm election to sell as healthy democracy, it’s got end-stage ecocidal neoliberalism to disguise as freedom and sanity, and it’s got a corporatist oligarchy to dress up as a constitutional representative republic. How is it finding the time to talk about space aliens so much all of a sudden?

IG's Don't Place Internal Investigative Targets Under Oath...,

theconservativetreehouse |  Don’t be so blinded by the tripwire flares you fail to see the obvious.  Within the statement from Attorney General Sessions hopefully you’ll note: “Including Under Oath”
The IG doesn’t place the internal investigative target “under oath”.  An outside prosecutor who is assisting the IG does.  Hence Attorney General Jeff Sessions is telling us what is going on – SEE HERE – Just like he did before:
… I have appointed a person outside of Washington, many years in the Department of Justice to look at all the allegations that the House Judiciary Committee members sent to us; and we’re conducting that investigation. (read more)

You're Going To See Pure TNT Come Out Of This IG Report

Friday, March 16, 2018

Fresh Off Of FUBARing A Wrinkle In Time, Ava Duvernay Will Fustercluck The New Gods...,

hollywoodreporter |  If superhero stories, as many have argued, offer a contemporary mythology, then the Fourth World Saga at the center of New Gods, ups that ante considerably. The DC Entertainment property is getting its highest profile yet, with the news that director Ava DuVernay will be tackling a film adaptation of the project for Warner Bros.

So, who are the New Gods?

Since its creation in the early 1970s, when Jack Kirby abandoned the Marvel Universe to create something altogether new at competitors DC, the Fourth World Saga has endeavored to tell stories on a scope that make even the most cosmic of superhero epics seem unambitious by comparison. Not for nothing did the first issue of 1971’s New Gods open with the gloriously melodramatic narration, 
There came a time when the old Gods died!”

Told, initially, across four separate comic book series running in parallel — and then, in subsequent years, through even more revivals, guest shots and graphic novels — the Fourth World Saga is a sprawling storyline with a truly vast cast of characters that would take a long time to fully introduce. In order to get a quick handle on DuVernay’s film project, however, here is a brief primer on some of the primary players.

Russia Stories So Preposterous They'd Make Shonda Rhimes Blush...,

thesaker |  Assuming mankind finds a way not to destroy itself in the near future and assuming that there will still be historians in the 22nd or 23rd centuries, I bet you that they will look at the AngloZionist Empire and see the four following characteristics as some of its core features: lies, willful ignorance, hypocrisy, and hysterics. To illustrate my point I will use the recent “Skripal nerve-gas assassination” story as it really encompasses all of these characteristics.

I won’t even bother debunking the official nonsense here as others have done a very good job of pointing out the idiocy of the official narrative. If you are truly capable of believing that “Putin” (that is the current collective designator for the Evil Empire of Mordor currently threatening all of western civilization) would order the murder of a man whom a Russian military court sentenced to only 13 years in jail (as opposed to life or death) and who was subsequently released as part of a swap with the USA, you can stop reading right now and go back to watching TV. I personally have neither the energy nor the inclination to even discuss such a self-evidently absurd theory. No, what I do want to do is use this story as a perfect illustration of the kind of society we now all live in looked at from a moral point of view. I realize that we live in a largely value-free society where moral norms have been replaced by ideological orthodoxy, but that is just one more reason for me to write about what is taking place precisely focusing on the moral dimensions of current events.

Lies and the unapologetic denial of reality:
In a 2015 article entitled “A society of sexually frustrated Pinocchios” I wrote the following:
I see a direct cause and effect relationship between the denial of moral reality and the denial of physical reality. I can’t prove that, of course, but here is my thesis: Almost from day one, the early western civilization began by, shall we say, taking liberties with the truth, which it could bend, adapt, massage and repackage to serve the ideological agenda of the day. It was not quite the full-blown and unapologetic relativism of the 19th century yet, but it was an important first step. With “principles” such as the end justifies the means and the wholesale violation of the Ten Commandants all “for the greater glory of God” the western civilization got cozy with the idea that there was no real, objective truth, only the subjective perception or even representation each person might have thereof. Fast forward another 10 centuries or so and we end up with the modern “Gayropa” (as Europe is now often referred to in Russia): not only has God been declared ‘dead’ and all notions of right and wrong dismissed as “cultural”, but even objective reality has now been rendered contingent upon political expediency and ideological imperatives.
I went on to quote George Orwell by reminding how he defined “doublethink” in his book 1984:
To know and not to know, to be conscious of complete truthfulness while telling carefully constructed lies, to hold simultaneously two opinions which canceled out, knowing them to be contradictory and believing in both of them, to use logic against logic, to repudiate morality while laying claim to it (…) To tell deliberate lies while genuinely believing in them, to forget any fact that has become inconvenient, and then, when it becomes necessary again, to draw it back from oblivion for just as long as it is needed, to deny the existence of objective reality
and I concluded by saying that “The necessary corollary from this state of mind is that only appearances matter, not reality.

This is exactly what we are observing; not only in the silly Skripal nerve-gas assassination story but also in all the rest of the Russophobic nonsense produced by the AngloZionist propaganda machine including the “Litvinenko polonium murder” and the “Yushchenko dioxin poisoning“. The fact that neither nerve-gas, nor polonium nor dioxin are in any way effective murder weapons does not matter in the least: a simple drive-by shooting, street-stabbing or, better, any “accident” is both easier to arrange and impossible to trace. Fancy assassination methods are used when access to the target is very hard or impossible (as was the case with Ibn al-Khattab, whose assassination the Russians were more than happy to take credit for; this might also have been the case with the death of Yasser Arafat). But the best way of murdering somebody is to simply make the body disappear, making any subsequent investigation almost impossible. Finally, you can always subcontract the assassination to somebody else like, for example, when the CIA tried and failed, to murder Grand Ayatollah Mohammad Hussain Fadlallah by subcontracting his bombing to its local “Christian” allies, killing over 80 innocent people in the process. There is plenty of common crime in the UK and to get somebody to rob and stab Skripal would have probably been the easiest version. That’s assuming that the Russians had any reason to want him dead, which they self-evidently didn’t.

But here is the important thing: every single criminal or intelligence specialist in the West understands all of the above. But that does not stop the Ziomedia from publishing articles like this one “A Brief History of Attempted Russian Assassinations by Poison” which also lists people poisoned by Russians

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Do You Believe That Putin Underestimates the West?

paulcraigroberts |  By now one would think that Russians, both government, media, and public, would understand that all the West is capable of is to lie. The purpose of the lies is to demonize Russia and to set up Russia for military attack. 

But somehow Russians can’t get the message. Russians think it is all some kind of mistake that facts and legal processes and diplomacy can clear up. “Please just listen to us, we can clear up all the misconceptions!” As if the West cares. Washington wants “the misconceptions.” That is why Washington creates them.

The inability of Russians to understand the West, which Russia stupidly wants to join, is the reason that World War 3 is near at hand.

What if, instead of reciting the legal process and the law governing it that the UK PM refused to follow before publicly accusing Russia without the presentation of any evidence, the Russian UN Ambassador had simply said: “If the UK exists tomorrow, it will be due entirely to the forbearance of the Russian government.”

By relying on law, about which no Western country gives a hoot, the Russian UN ambassador permitted Washington’s French puppet and other of Washington’s European puppet states to say that they supported the British charges against Russia despite the absence of evidence. Perhaps the Russians noticed that none of those European governments required any evidence that Russia was responsible. All that was required was the accusation.

In the exceptional, indispensable Western World ruled by Washington, accusation alone is proof of Russian mendacity. When British Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn asked PM May if she actually had any real evidence that Russia had tried to kill the former British double-agent, Corbyn was shouted down not only by the corrupt Conservatives but also by members of the Labour Party that he heads. How much more evidence does Russia need that facts are not important to the West?

Will Russia wake up? Or will its demented desire to be part of the West leave Russians unprepared for Washington’s nuclear strike, which is coming.

After You Fire McCabe Jeff, GTFOH Y'Dayyum Self!!!

NYMag |  We now live in a world where the attorney general going out to dinner with two top Justice Department officials is not only news, but a sign that he’s rebelling against the president. As a senator, Jeff Sessions was one of Donald Trump’s earliest supporters, and he served as one of his campaign’s top foreign-policy advisers. But the seeds of the attorney general’s rift with the president were planted during his confirmation hearing, when he offered up some thoughts about Russia collusion that turned out to be not entirely accurate. Here’s how the Trump-Sessions relationship devolved to the point that two 71-year-old lawmakers are barely speaking, lobbing insults on Twitter, and sending passive-aggressive messages with their choice of dinner companion.

Sessions’s Russia Contacts Are Revealed

Exactly one year ago, President Trump was basking in the unusually positive reviews from his first address to Congress. The very next day, we learned that Sessions met with Russian ambassador Sergey Kislyak at least twice while working with the Trump campaign — yet during his confirmation hearing he denied, under oath, having any such contacts.

“I’m not aware of any of those activities,” Sessions said of Trump officials’ Russia contacts, “I have been called a surrogate at a time or two in that campaign and I did not have communications with the Russians.”

Andrew McCabe - You're Fired!!!

NYTimes |  Attorney General Jeff Sessions is reviewing a recommendation to fire the former F.B.I. deputy director, Andrew G. McCabe, just days before he is scheduled to retire on Sunday, people briefed on the matter said. Mr. McCabe was a frequent target of attack from President Trump, who taunted him both publicly and privately.

Mr. McCabe is ensnared in an internal review that includes an examination of his decision in 2016 to allow F.B.I. officials to speak with reporters about an investigation into the Clinton Foundation. The Justice Department’s inspector general concluded that Mr. McCabe was not forthcoming during the review, according to the people briefed on the matter. That yet-to-be-released report triggered an F.B.I. disciplinary process that recommended his termination — leaving Mr. Sessions to either accept or reverse that decision.

Lack of candor is a fireable offense, but like so much at the F.B.I., Mr. McCabe’s fate is also entangled in presidential politics and the special counsel investigation. He was involved from the beginning in the investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia. He is also a potential witness in the inquiry into whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct justice.

Mr. Trump’s supporters have tried to cast Mr. McCabe as part of a “deep state” that operates in secret to undermine the administration. Mr. Trump has goaded Mr. Sessions into taking action against him.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Exxon Out, Koch Brothers In At Foggy Bottom...,

libertyblitzkrieg |  When the director of the CIA, an unelected public servant, publicly demonizes a publisher such as WikiLeaks as a “fraud,” “coward” and “enemy,” it puts all journalists on notice, or should. Pompeo’s next talking point, unsupported by fact, that WikiLeaks is a “non-state hostile intelligence service,” is a dagger aimed at Americans’ constitutional right to receive honest information about their government. This accusation mirrors attempts throughout history by bureaucrats seeking, and failing, to criminalize speech that reveals their own failings…

Words matter, and I assume that Pompeo meant his when he said, “Julian Assange has no First Amendment freedoms. He’s sitting in an embassy in London. He’s not a U.S. citizen.” As a legal matter, this statement is simply false. It underscores just how dangerous it is for an unelected official whose agency’s work is rooted in lying and misdirection to be the sole arbiter of the truth and the interpreter of the Constitution.

– From Julian Assange’s Washington Post opinion piece: The CIA Director Is Waging War on Truth-Tellers like WikiLeaks

What’s most unique about Mike Pompeo isn’t the fact he’s a terrible human being, it’s the fact he’s so transparent and shameless about it. This became crystal clear last April when I read the transcript of a speech he gave at UAE-funded think tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS).

I covered Pompeo’s commentary in detail in the piece, The American Empire Under Donald Trump Has Become Increasingly Desperate, Dangerous & Insecure, but let’s revisit in case some of you missed it the first time around.

Sergei Skripal: UK Now Playing Some Russia, Russia, Russia Music...,

timesofisrael | Moscow rejects accusation of responsibility for attack on Sergei Skripal, likening it to previous attacks against Russians on UK soil. 

Moscow on Monday rejected British Prime Minister Theresa May’s statement to parliament that it was “highly likely” Russia was responsible for the poisoning of a former spy in Britain.  

The statement was part of an “information and political campaign based on provocation,” said Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, in comments carried by news agencies. 

“This is a circus show in the British parliament,” she added.

“Rather than think up new fairy tales, maybe someone in the kingdom could explain how the previous ones ended up — about Litvinenko, Berezovsky, Perepilichny and many others who have mysteriously died on British soil,” Zakharova said.

timesofisrael |   The White House on Monday condemned the chemical attack on a former Russian spy in Britain as “an outrage,” breaking a week-long silence. 

“The use of a highly lethal nerve agent against UK citizens on UK soil is an outrage,” said press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The attack was reckless, indiscriminate and irresponsible.” 

Sanders stopped short of pointing the finger of blame at Moscow, as British Prime Minister Theresa May did earlier in parliament.

The United States and Britain have a long-standing intelligence-sharing agreement.
When asked whether Russia was to blame, Sanders demurred: “We stand by our ally and fully support them.”

For a week, the White House had refused to comment on the attempt to kill Sergei Skripal, who sold secrets to Britain and later moved there in a 2010 spy swap with Russia.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

The CIA Democrats: Warsocialist Welfare Trash Flooding Midterm Elections...,

wsws |  An extraordinary number of former intelligence and military operatives from the CIA, Pentagon, National Security Council and State Department are seeking nomination as Democratic candidates for Congress in the 2018 midterm elections. The potential influx of military-intelligence personnel into the legislature has no precedent in US political history.

If the Democrats capture a majority in the House of Representatives on November 6, as widely predicted, candidates drawn from the military-intelligence apparatus will comprise as many as half of the new Democratic members of Congress. They will hold the balance of power in the lower chamber of Congress.

Both push and pull are at work here. Democratic Party leaders are actively recruiting candidates with a military or intelligence background for competitive seats where there is the best chance of ousting an incumbent Republican or filling a vacancy, frequently clearing the field for a favored “star” recruit.

A case in point is Elissa Slotkin, a former CIA operative with three tours in Iraq, who worked as Iraq director for the National Security Council in the Obama White House and as a top aide to John Negroponte, the first director of national intelligence. After her deep involvement in US war crimes in Iraq, Slotkin moved to the Pentagon, where, as a principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for international security affairs, her areas of responsibility included drone warfare, “homeland defense” and cyber warfare.

Will Putin’s Speech Be Enough To Wake Up the Empire’s Ruling Elites from Their Delusional Slumber?

thesaker |  Russia and the USA have been at war since at least 2014 (I have been warning about this year, after year, after year). So far, this war has been about 80% informational, 15% economic and 5% kinetic. But this could very well change, and very suddenly. Russia has therefore embarked on an immense effort to prepare against both a conventional and a nuclear attack by the AngloZionist Empire. Here are some of the measures which have been taken in this context: (partial, non-exhaustive list!)

In response to the conventional NATO threat from the West:
  • Putin has ordered the re-creation of the First Guards Tank Army. This Tank Army will include two Tank Divisions (the best ones in the Russian military – 2nd Guards Tamanskaya Motor Rifle Division and the 4th Guards Kantemirovskaya Tank Division), and a total of 500+ T-14 Armata tanks. This Tank Army will be supported by the 20th Guards Combined Arms Army (in progress). This will be what was called a “Shock Army” during WWII and the Cold War.
  • The deployment of the Iskander-M operational-tactical missile system (completed)
  • The doubling of the size of the Russian Airborne Forces from 36’000 to 72’000 (in progress).
  • Creation of a National Guard: which will include troops of the Interior Ministry (about 170’000 soldiers), personnel from the Ministry of Emergency Situations, the OMON riot police forces (about 40’000 soldiers), the SOBR rapid-reaction forces (about 5000+ soldiers), the Special Designation Center of the Operational Reaction Forces and Aviation of the Ministry of Internal Affairs including the Special Forces units “Zubr”, “Rys’” and “Iastreb” (about 700+ operators) for a total of about 250’000 soldiers which will probably reach the 300’000 men figure in the near future.
  • The procurement and deployment of advanced multi-role and air superiority fighters and interceptors (MiG-31BM, Su-30SM, Su-35S and, soon, the MiG-35 and Su-57).
  • Deployment of S-400 and S-500 air defense systems along with very long range radars.
  • The adoption of about 70% of new, modern, systems across all the armed forces.
In response to the ABM “encirclement” of Russia by the USA:
  • The deployment of the RS-28 Sarmat ICBM with hypersonic maneuverable reentry vehicles
  • The deployment of conventionally armed very long-range cruise missiles
  • The deployment of a nuclear powered cruise missile with a basically unlimited range
  • The deployment of a nuclear powered unmanned submersible with intercontinental range, very high speed, silent propulsion and capable of moving a great depths
  • The deployment of the Mach 10 hypersonic missile Kinzhal with a 2’000 kilometer range
  • The deployment of a new strategic missile Avangard capable of Mach 20 velocities
This list is far from being exhaustive, there is much more missing from it including new submarines, (air-independent propulsion, conventional diesel-electric, nuclear attack and SSBNs), strike aircraft, new armored vehicles of various types, new advanced (high tech) individual soldier equipment, new artillery systems, etc. etc. etc. But by far the most important element in the Russian readiness to confront and, if needed, repel any western aggression is the morale, discipline, training, and resolve of Russian soldiers (so powerfully illustrated in several recent examples in Syria). Let’s just say that in comparison US and EU servicemen (or their commanders, for that matter) are not exactly an impressive lot and leave it at that.

Si vis pacem, para bellum
The reality is, of course, that nobody in Russia plans for a war, needs a war or wants a war. In fact, Russia as a country needs many more years of (even relative) peace. First, because time is obviously on Russia’s side and that the military balance with the USA is very rapidly shifting in Russia’s favor. But no less important is the fact that, unlike the USA which strives for conflicts, wars, and chaos, Russia badly needs peace to deal with her still very numerous internal problems which have been neglected for all too long. The problem is that the entire US political system and economy are completely dependent on a permanent state of war. That, combined with an imperial hubris boosted by an increasingly vocal russophobia is a potent and potentially dangerous mix leaving Russia no other options than “bare her fangs” and engage in some saber rattling of her own. So will Putin’s speech be enough to wake up the Empire’s ruling elites from their delusional slumber?

Probably not. In fact, in the short term, it might have the opposite effect.

Remember when the Russian’s deflected Obama’s planned attack on Syria? The US reaction was to trigger the Maidan. Sadly, I expect something very similar will happen soon, most likely in the form of a full-scale Ukronazi attack against the Donbass this Spring or during the World Cup this summer. Of course, regardless of the actual outcome of such an attack (already discussed here), this will not in any way affect the actual correlation of forces between Russia and the Empire. But it will feel good (Neocons love revenge in all its forms). We can also expect further provocations in Syria (already discussed here). Hence and for the foreseeable future, the Russians will have to continue on their current, admittedly frustrating and even painful course, and maintain a relatively passive and evasive posture which the Empire and its sycophants will predictably interpret as a sign of weakness. Let them. As long as in the real world the actual power (soft or hard) of the Empire continues to decline, as long as the US MIC continues to churn out fantastically expensive but militarily useless weapon systems, as long as US politicians are busy blaming everything on “Russian interference” while doing nothing to reform their own, collapsing economy and infrastructure, as long as the USA continues to use the printing press as a substitute for actual wealth and as long as the internal socio-political tensions in the USA continue to heat up – then Putin’s plan is working.

Monday, March 12, 2018

Headlines Focusing On One Word: Jews

Forward |   In an interview with NBC’s Megyn Kelly in Moscow that aired on March 9, Russian President Vladimir Putin was asked about the 13 Russian nationals indicted by special counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election with a covert social media campaign.

Through a translator, Putin responded:

“Maybe they’re not even Russians. Maybe they’re Ukrainians, Tatars, Jews, just with Russian citizenship. Even that needs to be checked. Maybe they have dual citizenship. Or maybe a green card. Maybe it was the Americans who paid them for this work. How do you know? I don’t know.”

The reaction from U.S. and Israeli media outlets was immediate and angry, with headlines focusing on one word: Jews.

Slate went with “Putin: Maybe it Was the Jews Who Meddled in U.S. Presidential Election”, New York Magazine with “Putin Says Jews Might Be to Blame for 2016 Election Hacking”, and the Jerusalem Post with “Putin: Jews might have been behind U.S. election interference”, as a representative sample.

The American Jewish Committee called Putin’s remarks “eerily reminiscent of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” a parallel also drawn by the head of the Anti-Defamation League. Democratic lawmakers also condemned the remarks, including Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, who tweeted, “Repulsive Putin remark deserves to be denounced, soundly and promptly, by world leaders. Why is Trump silent? Intolerance is intolerable.”

This reaction, while understandable, fundamentally misrepresents both what Putin said and the cultural context in which he said it.

This is not to defend Putin for his smug and condescending tone throughout the interview, his palpably dishonest statements regarding whether the Russian government meddled in the 2016 election, or his unhelpful injection of ethnicity into the debate. Nonetheless, it’s important to be accurate about what Putin most likely meant and whether it represents a deeper animus toward Jews. Anti-Semitism in Russia is a real problem, but the panicked responses to Putin’s offhand comments miss the mark.