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The United States has an empathy problem which feeds a culture of violence abroad, ignorance at home and tragedy all around.

While the world weeps for the Las Vegas victims, America’s lack of empathy for its own victims abroad is staggering

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When ever mass shootings or other incidents of terrorism (domestic or otherwise) hit the United States, the outpouring of sympathy from Russia and indeed from the wider world is always palpable, in spite of the current state of political relations. Russian culture in particular, is one where expressing sympathy at a time of objective tragedy and pain, is highly emphasised, both on a humanitarian and spiritual level.

But there is another element of the aforementioned reactions to uniquely American tragedies, among people outside of the United States that is less straightforward. As a country of immense wealth and one which exercises an exceptionalist foreign policy, one which still confounds some geo-political adversaries of the United States, many find it shocking that so many American citizens decide to kill one another in large numbers, in a land that is promoted as supremely idyllic by Washington’s  propaganda machine.

In this sense, there is an element of cognitive dissonance, among a wider world seeing tragedies unfold in a country where such things are ‘not meant to happen’, but nevertheless, often do happen.

Among many Americans and certainly among those whose narrative is embraced by the mainstream media, the wider world’s cognitive dissonance is somehow lost in an ever pervasive exceptionalist attitude whereby Americans elevate their domestic tragedies to the level of a cataclysm, while the deaths caused by the United States in the wider world, are reduced at best to the level of statistics and at worse, to the level of a macabre achievement.

Take for example a segment on the popular Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. On a recent episode, female comic writers and the celebrity Miley Cyrus greeted Hillary Clinton with fawning letters of appreciation, complete with a physical embrace. Many US based pundits, even those opposed to Hillary Clinton’s politics,  have failed to grasp the geo-political subtext of the display.

Many are correctly criticising the television stunt as a propaganda exercise in identity politics, which seeks to pit female Americans against male Americans, with the subliminal message being that most American men were supporters of ‘big bad’ Donald Trump while the cognitively superior American women was for ‘kind gentle’ Hillary Clinton. In a land of the First Amendment, identity politics cannot be censored, but should be peacefully countered by others using their own free speech to argue for policy based, rather than identity based politics.

But the bigger geo-political problem present in such a vulgar display, is that Hillary Clinton is neither kind nor gentle. She was the architect of the most devastating of all the post-9/11 US led wars on foreign countries. Hillary Clinton’s ‘brainchild’ was the war on Libya which turned the richest country in African history, where people were freely housed, fed and whose education and vocations were generously subsidised, into a blood-soaked failed state. The once secular and independent Libya is now the world’s largest terrorist training camp, in which several political factions are fighting each other and local terrorist groups as well as various piratical factions are for Libya’s resources. While Syria is winning the war against terrorism and Iraq is slowly recovering with help from Iran and others, Libya shows few signs of any meaningful change from the post-2011 status quo for which Hillary Clinton is directly responsible.

This is just one of Hillary Clinton’s many disastrous policy making decisions, but it is the most profoundly horrific. Whereas even Barack Obama, who ultimately signed off for Hillary Clinton’s plans, has somewhat atoned for the disaster, Hillary Clinton instead was filmed laughing about the death of Libyan revolutionary leader Muammar Gaddafi. She continues to stand by her feeling of pride in the barbaric death of a man who led the nation she obliterated.

While Hillary Clinton was the author of the Libyan tragedy, she is not the author of America’s wider psychological tragedy. Instead, she is merely a profoundly grotesque symptom of America’s inability to empathise beyond its own borders, even at a time when countries like Russia show compassion towards Americans slaughtered in the United States and in the case of the Las Vegas massacre, likely slaughtered by a fellow American.

The United States has killed millions outside of its own borders in devastating and primarily illegal wars, none of which were related to the security of the people in the US. A recent research project from James A. Lucas has concluded that since 1945, the United States has killed over 20 million people and this does not include the deaths caused by the dropping of two atomic bombs on Japan in 1945, the only instance of a nation using such weapons on civilians. When one accounts for the numbers of families destroyed, lives ruined, famine created and bodily mutilation inflicted by US military action, the numbers grows even higher.

The culture of violence within the United States is ultimately dwarfed by the culture of violence promulgated by the US military on the wider world. In some parts of the world, any sympathy that people would otherwise feel for Americans killed in domestic horror shows, is becoming exhausted because of the continued violence that the United States perpetuates abroad.

US topping polls of ‘greatest threat to world peace’ to continue

The scary part of this entire spectre is that many in the United States are unaware of what their country does abroad. The fault here lies in the narrative that most US politicians and all of the US mainstream media proliferates, one which perversely proffers the hypothesis that Americans are hated abroad because of their supposed domestic freedoms, rather than because of overt acts of aggression conducted by US armed forces from East Asia, to Europe – South America to North Africa.

Increasingly, while the US is doing nothing to change its reputation as the primary global aggressor of the modern era, many people are looking at the repeated tragic events inside supposedly ‘free’ America and thinking that this ‘freedom’ doesn’t look particularly appealing.

The United States is becoming a place that no one wants to live with and fewer people want to live in. Some people blame American policy makers for this disaster and of course the blame lies with them. Others, myself included, also blame America’s drug culture for fanning the flames of violence, all the while, making people comfortably numb to the grizzly scenes around them. Others question America’s gun laws, although I personally don’t. Many countries have a high proliferation of guns, legal and otherwise, but few have become replicas of the most gruesome facets of modern US life.

The problem with the United States, is an attitude problem that prioritises exceptional arrogance with exceptionally bad exposure to the facts of the wider world. Until this attitude changes, Americans will not know the meaning of real empathy and real sorrow, even as tragedy continues to unfold. A nation constantly at war, cannot hope to find internal peace. In this sense, having celebrities embrace a war criminal like Hillary Clinton, sends the message that Americans will have to live with the violence they have spread elsewhere, until people in the United States find the courage to condemn all violence, no matter where the victims might be.

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Is this man the puppet master of Ukraine’s new president or an overhyped bogeyman?

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

RT

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Via RT…


It doesn’t actually matter if Ukrainian-Israeli billionaire Igor Kolomoisky is the real power behind Volodymyr Zelensky – the president elect has to get rid of the oligarch if he is to make a break with the country’s corrupt past.

The plots, deceits and conflicts of interest in Ukrainian politics are so transparent and hyperbolic, that to say that novice politician Zelensky was a protégé of his long-time employer was not something that required months of local investigative journalism – it was just out there.

Zelensky’s comedy troupe has been on Kolomoisky’s top-rated channel for the past eight years, and his media asset spent every possible resource promoting the contender against incumbent Petro Poroshenko, a personal enemy of the tycoon, who hasn’t even risked entering Ukraine in the past months.

Similarly, the millions and the nous needed to run a presidential campaign in a country of nearly 50 million people had to come from somewhere, and Kolomoisky’s lieutenants were said to be in all key posts. The two issued half-hearted denials that one was a frontman for the other, insisting that they were business partners with a cordial working relationship, but voters had to take their word for it.

Now that the supposed scheme has paid off with Zelensky’s spectacular victory in Sunday’s run-off, Ukrainian voters are asking: what does Kolomoisky want now, and will he be allowed to run the show?

‘One-of-a-kind chancer’

Born in 1963, in a family of two Jewish engineers, Kolomoisky is the type of businessman that was once the staple of the post-Soviet public sphere, but represents a dying breed.

That is, he is not an entrepreneur in the established Western sense at all – he did not go from a Soviet bloc apartment to Lake Geneva villas by inventing a new product, or even setting up an efficient business structure in an existing field.

Rather he is an opportunist who got wealthy by skilfully reading trends as the Soviet economy opened up – selling Western-made computers in the late 1980s – and later when independent Ukraine transitioned to a market economy and Kolomoisky managed to get his hands on a large amount of privatisation vouchers that put many of the juiciest local metals and energy concerns into his hands, which he then modernised.

What he possesses is a chutzpah and unscrupulousness that is rare even among his peers. Vladimir Putin once called him a “one-of-a-kind chancer” who managed to “swindle [Chelsea owner] Roman Abramovich himself.” In the perma-chaos of Ukrainian law and politics, where all moves are always on the table, his tactical acumen has got him ahead.

Kolomoisky’s lifeblood is connections and power rather than any pure profit on the balance sheet, though no one actually knows how that would read, as the Privat Group he part-owns is reported to own over 100 businesses in dozens of Ukrainian spheres through a complex network of offshore companies and obscure intermediaries (“There is no Privat Group, it is a media confection,” the oligarch himself says, straight-faced.)

Unsurprisingly, he has been dabbling in politics for decades, particularly following the first Orange Revolution in 2004. Though the vehicles for his support have not been noted for a particular ideological consistency – in reportedly backing Viktor Yushchenko, then Yulia Tymoshenko, he was merely putting his millions on what he thought would be a winning horse.

Grasp exceeds reach

But at some point in the post-Maidan euphoria, Kolomoisky’s narcissism got the better of him, and he accepted a post as the governor of his home region of Dnepropetrovsk, in 2014.

The qualities that might have made him a tolerable rogue on TV, began to grate in a more official role. From his penchant for using the political arena to settle his business disputes, to creating his own paramilitary force by sponsoring anti-Russian battalions out of his own pocket, to his somewhat charmless habit of grilling and threatening to put in prison those less powerful than him in fits of pique (“You wait for me out here like a wife for a cheating husband,” begins a viral expletive-strewn rant against an overwhelmed Radio Free Europe reporter).

There is a temptation here for a comparison with a Donald Trump given a developing country to play with, but for all of the shenanigans, his ideological views have always been relatively straightforward. Despite his Russia-loathing patriotism, not even his fans know what Kolomoisky stands for.

The oligarch fell out with fellow billionaire Poroshenko in early 2015, following a battle over the control of a large oil transport company between the state and the governor. The following year, his Privat Bank, which at one point handled one in four financial transactions in the country was nationalized, though the government said that Kolomoisky had turned it into a mere shell by giving $5 billion of its savings to Privat Group companies.

Other significant assets were seized, the government took to London to launch a case against his international companies, and though never banished, Kolomoisky himself decided it would be safer if he spent as long as necessary jetting between his adopted homes in Switzerland and Tel Aviv, with the occasional trip to London for the foreseeable future.

But the adventurer falls – and rises again. The London case has been dropped due to lack of jurisdiction, and only last week a ruling came shockingly overturning the three-year-old nationalization of Privat Bank.

Smiling to himself, Kolomoisky would be within his rights to think that he has never had it so good.

Own man

Zelensky must disabuse him of that notion.

It doesn’t matter that they are friends. Or what handshake agreements they made beforehand. Or that he travelled to Geneva and Tel-Aviv 13 times in the past two years. Or what kompromat Kolomoisky may or may not have on him. It doesn’t matter that his head of security is the man who, for years, guarded the oligarch, and that he may quite genuinely fear for his own safety (it’s not like nothing bad has ever happened to Ukrainian presidents).

Volodymyr Zelensky is now the leader of a large country, with the backing of 13.5 million voters. It is to them that he promised a break with past bribery, graft and cronyism. Even by tolerating one man – and one who makes Poroshenko look wholesome – next to him, he discredits all of that. He will have the support of the people if he pits himself against the puppet master – no one would have elected Kolomoisky in his stead.

Whether the oligarch is told to stay away, whether Ukraine enables the financial fraud investigation into him that has been opened by the FBI, or if he is just treated to the letter of the law, all will be good enough. This is the first and main test, and millions who were prepared to accept the legal fiction of the independent candidate two months ago, will now want to see reality to match. Zelensky’s TV president protagonist in Servant of the People – also broadcast by Kolomoisky’s channel, obviously, would never have compromised like that.

What hinges on this is not just the fate of Zelensky’s presidency, but the chance for Ukraine to restore battered faith in its democracy shaken by a succession of compromised failures at the helm.

Igor Ogorodnev

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Roger Waters – The People’s Champion for Freedom

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there.

Richard Galustian

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Submitted by Richard Galustian 

Roger Waters is one of Britain’s most successful and talented musicians and composers but more importantly is an outstanding champion for freedom in the world, beyond compare to any other artist turned political activist.

By way of background, he co-founded the rock band Pink Floyd in 1965.

A landmark turning point of his political activism occurred in 1990, when Waters staged probably the largest rock concert in history, ‘The Wall – Live in Berlin’, with an attendance of nearly half a million people.

In more recent years Waters famously narrated the 2016 documentary ‘The Occupation of the American Mind: Israel’s Public Relations War in the United States’ about the insidious influence of Zionist Israel to shape American public opinion.

Waters has been an outspoken critic of America’s Neocons and particularly Donald Trump and his policies.

In 2017, Waters condemned Trump’s plan to build a wall separating the United States and Mexico, saying that his band’s iconic famous song, ‘The Wall’ is as he put it “very relevant now with Mr. Trump and all of this talk of building walls and creating as much enmity as possible between races and religions.”

In February 2019, Waters showed his support for the Venezuelan Maduro government and continues to be totally against US regime change plans there, or any place else for that matter.

Here below is a must see recent Roger Waters interview, via satellite from New York, where he speaks brilliantly, succinctly and honestly, unlike no other celebrity, about FREEDOM and the related issues of the day.

The only other artist turned activist, but purely for human rights reasons, as she is apolitical, is the incredible Carla Ortiz.

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ISIS Says Behind Sri Lanka Bombings; Was ‘Retaliation’ For New Zealand Mosque Massacre

ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. 

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Via Zerohedge…


Shortly after the death toll from Sunday’s Easter bombings in Sri Lanka climbed above the 300 mark, ISIS validated the Sri Lankan government’s suspicions that a domestic jihadi organization had help from an international terror network while planning the bombings were validated when ISIS took credit for the attacks.

The claim was made via a report from ISIS’s Amaq news agency. Though the group has lost almost all of the territory that was once part of its transnational caliphate, ISIS now boasts cells across the Muslim world, including in North Africa and elsewhere. Before ISIS took credit for the attack, a Sri Lankan official revealed that Sunday’s attacks were intended as retaliation for the killing of 50 Muslims during last month’s mass shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand.

However, the Sri Lankan government didn’t offer any evidence for that claim, or the claim that Sunday’s attacks were planned by two Islamic groups (though that now appears to have been substantiated by ISIS’s claim of responsibility). The group is believed to have worked with the National Tawheed Jamaath, according to the NYT.

“The preliminary investigations have revealed that what happened in Sri Lanka was in retaliation for the attack against Muslims in Christchurch,” State Minister of Defense Ruwan Wijewardene told the Parliament.

Meanwhile, the number of suspects arrested in connection with the attacks had increased to 40 from 24 as of Tuesday. The government had declared a national emergency that allowed it sweeping powers to interrogate and detain suspects.

On Monday, the FBI pledged to send agents to Sri Lanka and provide laboratory support for the investigation.

As the death toll in Sri Lanka climbs, the attack is cementing its position as the deadliest terror attack in the region.

  • 321 (as of now): Sri Lanka bombings, 2019
  • 257 Mumbai attacks, 1993
  • 189 Mumbai train blasts, 2006 166 Mumbai attacks, 2008
  • 151 APS/Peshawar school attack, 2014
  • 149 Mastung/Balochistan election rally attack, 2018

Meanwhile, funeral services for some of the bombing victims began on Tuesday.

Even before ISIS took credit for the attack, analysts told the Washington Post that its unprecedented violence suggested that a well-financed international organization was likely involved.

The bombings on Sunday, however, came with little precedent. Sri Lanka may have endured a ghastly civil war and suicide bombings in the past – some credit the Tamil Tigers with pioneering the tactic – but nothing of this scale. Analysts were stunned by the apparent level of coordination behind the strikes, which occurred around the same time on both sides of the country, and suggested the attacks carried the hallmarks of a more international plot.

“Sri Lanka has never seen this sort of attack – coordinated, multiple, high-casualty – ever before, even with the Tamil Tigers during the course of a brutal civil war,” Alan Keenan, a Sri Lanka expert at the International Crisis Group, told the Financial Times. “I’m not really convinced this is a Sri Lankan thing. I think the dynamics are global, not driven by some indigenous debate. It seems to me to be a different kind of ballgame.”

Hinting at possible ISIS involvement, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said during a Monday press conference that “radical Islamic terror” remained a threat even after ISIS’s defeats in Syria.

Of course, ISIS’s claim couldn’t be confirmed and the group has been  known to make “opportunistic” claims in the past, according to WaPo. The extremist group said the attacks were targeting Christians and “coalition countries” and were carried out by fighters from its organization.

Speculation that the government had advanced warning of the attacks, but failed to act amid a power struggle between the country’s president and prime minister, unnerved citizens and contributed to a brewing backlash. Following the bombings, schools and mass had been canceled until at least Monday, with masses called off “until further notice.”

 

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