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Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Musicians in N. Korea Officially Murdered for Viewing Porn? Wait. Not So Fast. -- Aug 22 2018

by Lawrence Wines

We're being played. In more ways than we can comprehend. On more topics and issues than we can imagine.

What's stated in our headline, above, was actually reported as fact by corporate mainstream media. And it went unchallenged by them when they ran with it. Helping to feed American's perception that, well, it's what North Korea does.

Take a step back. By now, don't all of us have reason to believe that most of what we see is part of a narrative? And what we see isn't the be-all and end-all of what's going on in the world, despite their authoritative claims?

That their claims are laden with psychology to make you feel stupid unless you buy them, hook line and sinker?

But still... you are often left with the sense that objective reality is a whole lot bigger than, or just isn't what, they're reporting. And to that statement, you feel like adding, "as usual."

Today, corporate mainstream media is giddy over multiple guilty findings in the cases of two Trump-connected henchmen -- one on guilty pleas, the other for being several dimensions of a financial crook. Meanwhile, back at the ranch -- and everywhere else in the world -- countless things are being ignored.

And it is those things that bear far greater import for America's standing in the world.

We'll get to those musicians. We have a couple of stops to understand what's going on here.

Joe Lauria, award winning journalist and UN correspondent of 25 years, is finding trouble getting any corporate mainstream media outlet to talk about what's become his primary point: that their nonstop obsession with the Trumpian singularity is a purposeful distraction.

Last fall, the Huffington Post pulled his article on Russiagate hysteria, leaving a dead link. (You can still read it, thanks to another more inclusive site that isn't part of "the narrative;" it's at:

These days, Lauria goes so far as to voice the same warning you've seen here -- that Democrats may not win a midterm landslide in the absence of putting forth a true program of policies.

Especially given the corporate Dem leadership's longtime adherence to wholesale passage of corporate deregulation and tax advantages that benefit the corporatists. And the fact that the same Democrats always vote for more spending on endless wars.

Mr. Lauria likewise warns that the American public isn't likely to "buy it" if losing Dems claim it's the Russians again this time.

Meanwhile, says Lauria, world events go on with most Americans in a distracted state of ignorance.

And there's no question that all ignorance is not created equal.

So you might have missed the part about those North Korean musicians. Maybe in the initial round of "facts." Certainly in the "hey, wait a minute" analysis. Maybe because there wasn't that analysis.

His points parallel a new revelation, out today. In it, award winning investigative journalist Max Blumenthal is calling-out a Washington darling for a tangled web of purposeful lying about what other governments do.

What Blumenthal cites is part of a web of deception. It influences American public opinion to support evermore expenditures for the Military-Industrial-Cybersecurity complex. It's purposeful, carefully crafted deception. Necessary to allay our fears. And to keep us safe. And to assert that we're the biggest badass. 

Simply put? It's a rehearsed paradigm of US meddling in foreign governments that are not to our liking. Which requires constant public preparation for more conflicts, wars, and assorted economic, political, and military coups.

To be sure, there are many actors. Along with the usual suspects -- CIA, NSA, DIA, ICE, DHS, and other federal agencies, there are plenty of others.

Blumenthal, in his piece today, focuses on one and the trouble it's causing.

It's the US government-funded --meaning taxpayer-funded -- "National Endowment for Democracy," or NED.

NED flagrantly violates its status as a registered nonprofit NGO (non-governmental organization). It is formally supported by both the Democratic and Republican parties. And it's messing with other countries.

It purports to have a warm and comfy set of goals that would at last make the world safe for democracy and all people free and pursuing happiness.

Yet NED founding member Alan Weinstein told the Washington Post way back in 1991, “A lot of what we (NED) do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

In all the years since NED's founding in 1982, it's clear that their activities have been far more like the CIA's bag of tricks, accompanied by, at best, a smokescreen of promoting democratic freedoms.

"Inside America’s Meddling Machine: The US Funded Group that Interferes in Elections Around the Globe," was published today. In it, Max Blumenthal does what corporate mainstream media will not -- exposes the profitable machine that perpetuates endless conflict, eliminates alternative voices, and foments war in the name of exploitive US interests.

Blumenthal exposes the National Endowment for Democracy as, "a taxpayer funded organization that has interfered in elections, mobilized coups, and orchestrated public relations campaigns against nations that resist Washington’s agenda."

He says NED is "doing precisely what Congress accuses Russia-funded media outlets and troll farms of doing in the United States. They interfere in other countries’ politics with foreign money. The only difference is they do it openly, and in the name of spreading freedom."
NED spends millions to interfere with campaigns and elections, to disrupt economies, and to cause violence worldwide, from Nicaragua to South America, Africa to Mongolia, the two Koreas to the Chinese Uyghurs and other minorities. Extending his track record of credibility in revealing hidden hands, Max Blumenthal is off to a good start tracking-down and revealing this dangerous presence. He even calls-out comedian John Oliver, who helped the misinformation campaign when he "echoed the claims of US-government backed sources."

Blumenthal cites "The meddling machine McCain built," referring to notorious neocon war proponent Sen. John McCain (R, AZ). He cites the New York Times calling NED, thanks to McCain, “a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman.”

Known for his direct, factual style, Blumenthal says, "Carl Gershman founded the National Endowment for Democracy. He’s (a) neoconservative activist with roots in Trotskyism. Today, Gershman still embraces the ideology of permanent worldwide revolution."

So, NED, this powerful entity you've never heard of -- just where did it come from? Blumenthal writes:

"Founded in 1983 by then president Ronald Reagan, the National Endowment for Democracy became an international vehicle for the neoconservative agenda. Its founding cadre were Cold War ideologues who were, like so many early neoconservative operatives, former Trotskyists who once belonged to the Social Democrats USA party."

"Over the years, the NED and its partner organizations have weaponized civil society and media against governments that stand in the way of right-wing, free market parties and corporate interests."

The piece, which is both an online video and a text article, covers a lot of ground.

One emphasis is the two Koreas, where "activists are responsible for much of what the West believes about North Korea and its human rights record. While many tell harrowing tales of escape from political repression, others have been exposed as serial fabricators lured by hefty sums of cash."

Most examples of "checkbook journalism" in America fail to hold up to scrutiny. When governments buy what they want to hear in desperately poor places, extent examples indicate you can get testimony of whatever you want. Remember the wholly fabricated accounts of Saddam Hussein's officials euthanizing babies in Baghdad hospitals? Or the defector testimony of massive stockpiles of WMDs in Iraq?

In Korea, multibillion dollar defense sales are at stake. As in, eliminate the tension on the peninsula, and there's no need for a massive, armed-to-the-teeth, eyeball-to-eyeball presence.

Blumenthal writes, "In 2017, South Korea quadrupled the payout for testimony from North Korean defectors to a whopping $860,000. The bounty has incentivized colorful accounts of sadistic — and unusually creative — human rights abuses.

He takes on the shocking statements of North Korean defectors. He notes some are now under investigation by the UN because the stories change with each re-telling. Others, including one documented by journalist Mary Ann Jolley, were fueled by Venezuelan-American oligarch Thor Halvorssen, whose Oslo Freedom Forum "weaponizes human rights in the service of neoconservative foreign policy objectives."

Consumers of news in the West are left mystified when the heads of state of the two Koreas meet, hug, combine their Olympic teams, and allow family reunifications. We're baffled and feel betrayed by our South Korean allies because our corporate mainstream media isn't geared to portray things with the color, character or orientation of one people divided by a political border.

And the tension machine does all it can to keep it from being possible for that to make sense to us.

For example, Blumenthal writes that
Peter Thiel, a libertarian tech billionaire, partnered with oligarch Halvorssen to launch the deliberately provocative “Hack Them Back” campaign. Their purpose was to disrupt inter-Korean peace talks in 2014. It was a "campaign (that) nearly brought the Koreas to the brink of war..."

When you learn that, you begin to look for signs of sabotage happening now. And they're there for the finding.

Blumenthal dissects "the right-wing network behind Korea’s celebrity defector(s)" including one of the most prominent, who was "unmasked as a fabulist" in South Korea.

As it turns out, much of what seemed unbelievable should never have been accepted by the public -- or the Big Media that foisted on us.

Like the tale that "a crowd of 10,000 was forced to watch the execution of 11 musicians for the crime of viewing porn," wherein "the musicians were shot with anti-aircraft guns, then run over with tanks."

Or the tale that another defector "claimed female prisoners were raped and then forced to hand their babies over to be used as food for hungry guard dogs."

So, were musicians grotesquely butchered? Were newborns fed to guard dogs?

The tellers of those tales were, as it turns out, paid plenty. And their retellings remain lucrative, even when they don't come out the same way twice, and often pick up added embellishments for new audiences.

But corporate mainstream media isn't around, because they're trackside for the Trump train when questions of anything like that should be asked, and the absence of answers reported.

Fortunately, the best non-mainstream journalists are not missing from the arenas that matter.

Blumenthal has won awards for his journalistic exposes, and his work has appeared in the New York Times. But mostly, he has kept his integrity by being published in sources that are not part of the overmerged corporate mainstream media.

There was a favorite line a few decades ago: "How do you strike fear into the heart of a wrongdoer? Tell him, 'Mike Wallace is here from 60 Minutes to ask you questions.'"

That TV newsmagazine has, in the 21st century, lost its edge and much of its credibility, and the likes of Mike Wallace, Morley Safer, Ed Bradlee, Harry Reasoner, Walter Cronkite, and Edward R. Murrow are long gone. So is the ability of any major American news organization to make a star of an investigative journalist in the age of the almighty corporatocracy.

But you can still find a Seymour Hersh, a Chris Hedges, an Abby Martin, and a Max Blumenthal, if you stay diligent and inquisitive. If you remain unwilling to accept pat answers that are processed and packaged for inclusion in the narrative.

After all, when you talk to CIA whisteblowers, write about political machinations by economic interests "Sowing chaos, spreading instability, and opening markets," for their own interests, you're going to cultivate powerful critics.

Blumenthal has been in the forefront of things that give the propaganda machine heartburn. He has repeatedly exposed Israeli government and military atrocities against the people of Gaza -- for which he has been falsely smeared as an anti-semite. (Which is, anytime it happens, always curious, since racially Middle Eastern Jews and Middle Eastern Arab peoples are both Semitic Levantine peoples.)

So we offer a quick reminder that everything you read, see or hear about someone -- anyone -- needs to be held to the scrutiny of considering the agenda of both critic and proponent. And held to the test of evidentiary proof before veracity can be assessed. Assessed? Make that verified so it can be legitimately reported.

Not just sensationally thrown into the hall of mirrors and the tribal echo-chambers. Where it is replayed with fresh voices hour after after hour. Over and over again by the smarmy serial repeaters of cable TV's cult-of-personality hour-long blocks whose modus operandi is just talking-head breathlessness.

Of course, when an investigative voice like Blumenthal exposes something like his topic today, mainstream media looks out for their corporate interests by attacking with a lame claim.

In this case, if they are forced to acknowledge his report at all, you'll get what might as well be their catalogued "standard response number 312."

It goes like this, "Yes, but you're just trying to distract away from what Trump and his minions are doing, and until we have thoroughly explored and examined and discussed all of that and all of the implications of that, anything else is an annoying and unwelcome attempt to distract the American public away from the central narrative of making dots to connect Trump and Russia-Russia-Russia."

Finally, just bear with us long enough to read a statement by Blumenthal and ask yourself if you didn't see it coming. Blumenthal wrote:

"America remains obsessed with the specter of Russian interference and Moscow’s supposed active measures against our political system. But at the same time, official Washington celebrates its own taxpayer funded meddling machine as an engine of 'democracy promotion.' Does the American public know what’s being done with its money, and will there ever be a public debate on the consequences of Washington’s regime change efforts?"

You're an experienced media watcher. What do you think?

You can watch the video and read the full text of this latest Max Blumenthal story, "Inside America’s Meddling Machine: The US Funded Group that Interferes in Elections Around the Globe," at:

In addition, Max Blumenthal's work appears in lots of non-corporate, and therefore non-mainstream outlets. He is editor of one of those, at:


That's all for now.

We'll be back again soon with music news and more "News of the Non-Trumpcentric Universe." (c)



Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?

What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...

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