AuthorTopic: Knarf's Knewz Channel  (Read 1871926 times)

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
go to hell in a handbasket
« Reply #14641 on: November 21, 2019, 11:53:11 AM »
go to hell in a handbasket
To be in an extremely and increasingly bad or ruinous condition; to be on the inevitable path to utter failure or ruin. With the way he's running things, the company is going to hell in a handbasket! After our funding was cut, our project went to hell in a handbasket.

go to hell in a handbasket
undergo a rapid process of deterioration. North American informal
This expression has been recorded since the early 20th century; variants of it include go to hell in a handcart and go to hell in a basket .
1990 Nature Conservancy I read widely on environmental issues and often feel that ‘the world is going to hell in a handbasket’.

go to hell in a handbasket
To deteriorate rapidly. This expression, originating in America in the early twentieth century, owes its appeal to alliteration. It also makes sense: something carried in a handbasket is light and easily conveyed, whence the phrase can mean going to ruin easily and rapidly. However, more likely it is simply an alliterative elaboration of gone to hell, which has meant ruined or destroyed since the early nineteenth century. The cliché tends to be applied to large generalities, as in “The economy is about to go to hell in a handbasket.” See also go to the devil; go(ing) to the dogs.

go to hell in a handbasket
Heading for trouble. The expression might possibly have been inspired by the heads of decapitated prisoners falling or being dumped into handbaskets or handcarts. The “handbasket” alliteration following “going to hell” caught on and was applied to anyone whose behavior was likely to lead to an unhappy consequence.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Contemplate: How are these songs similar? ( free will )
« Reply #14642 on: November 21, 2019, 05:26:21 PM »
<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

<a href="" target="_blank" class="new_win"></a>

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Netanyahu charged with corruption, says he won't resign
« Reply #14643 on: November 22, 2019, 05:14:27 AM »
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Thursday he would not resign despite being charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a corruption scandal that he denounced as an "attempted coup".

The charges announced by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit were the first of their kind against a serving Israeli prime minister and represented the gravest crisis in the political career of Israel's longest-serving leader.

Netanyahu, in power continuously since 2009 and before that in the 1990s, has dominated Israeli politics for a generation, decisively turning the country to the right. He has denied wrongdoing in the three graft cases, saying he is the victim of a political witch hunt.

He is under no legal obligation to resign. But the indictment could further embolden challengers trying to dislodge him after two inconclusive elections since April, with a third election expected to be announced within weeks.

Conviction on the charges could bring a lengthy jail term. But any trial could be delayed for months by the political crisis, and Netanyahu could try to secure parliamentary immunity from prosecution.

His rejection of the charges echoed the pugnacious language of his ally, U.S. President Donald Trump.

"It is an attempted coup based on fabrications and a tainted and biased investigative process," Netanyahu said in a televised speech. "I will continue to lead the country, according to the letter of the law, with responsibility, devotion and concern for all of our futures," he said, standing at a podium against the backdrop of four Israeli flags in his official residence.

His main center-left challenger in the two elections this year, Benny Gantz, tweeted in response: "There is no coup in Israel, just a bid (by Netanyahu) to hang onto power."

The attorney general, who was appointed by Netanyahu, spelled out the indictment in his own televised statement.

"This is a difficult and sad day," said Mandelblit. It was his duty, Mandelblit said, to ensure that no one in Israel was above the law.

CASES 1000, 2000 AND 4000

Police recommended in February that Mandelblit file criminal charges against Netanyahu in the long-running investigations dubbed Cases 1000, 2000 and 4000. [L8N281633]

Netanyahu is suspected of wrongfully accepting $264,000 worth of gifts, including champagne and cigars, from wealthy businessmen in one case. In another, he is accused of dispensing favors in return for favorable stories about him in Israel's biggest selling newspaper, Yedioth Ahronoth.

In the most serious case, he is accused of granting regulatory favors worth about 1.8 billion shekels (about $500 million) to Israel's leading telecoms company, Bezeq Telecom Israel, <BEZQ.TA> in return for positive coverage on a website owned by its former chairman.

Mandelblit indicted Netanyahu on charges of breach of trust and fraud in all three corruption cases, as well as bribery in the Bezeq Telecom case.

"They weren't after the truth, they were after me," Netanyahu said in his address, a note of emotion in what was otherwise a speech mixing anger with accusations.

"What I'm going through is not easy. I'm a human being, too. What my family is going through is unbearable. Every day, every evening, my blood and the blood of my wife and son are being spilled."

Netanyahu failed to form a government after the election in April, and he and Gantz each fell short of securing a ruling majority in parliament after the second vote in September.

Earlier on Thursday, during one of the most unusual days in Israeli political history, the country's president told lawmakers to name a third candidate to form a new government, a development that probably sets the stage for a third election within a year.

"These are harsh dark days in the annals of the State of Israel," President Reuven Rivlin said as he announced that Gantz had not mustered enough support for a stable coalition.

The prolonged political stalemate comes at a tricky time for Israel and its most prominent statesman on the domestic and international fronts.

A conflict with arch-foe Iran has deepened - Israeli warplanes hit Iranian targets in Syria on Wednesday after rockets were fired toward Israel - while fighting with Palestinian militants in Gaza flared last week.

The introduction of criminal charges could further complicate the eventual rollout of a long-delayed Middle East peace plan from Trump, by imperiling the political future of one of the key players whose support is needed.

And if a new Israeli election is in the cards, Netanyahu would be running as an indicted suspect, displaying further vulnerability to an electorate that has already seen him falter at the polls.

Palestinians greeted the news with grim pleasure. Palestine Liberation Organization official Wasel Abu Youssef said that for years Netanyahu had sought to avoid this outcome by "launching wars against the Palestinian people" to boost his domestic popularity.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Iran Internet Shutdown First Ever to Effectively Isolate a Developed Nation
« Reply #14644 on: November 22, 2019, 05:25:45 AM »
Shutdown a historic milestone in efforts by authoritarian governments to censor online communications

Internet connectivity is trickling back in Iran after the government shut down access to the rest of the world for more than four days in response to unrest apparently triggered by a gasoline price hike.

The shutdown across a nation of 80 million people was the first to effectively isolate a modern, highly developed domestic network, experts say. That makes it a milestone in efforts by authoritarian governments to censor online communications.

Other governments — such as Ethiopia’s — have imposed longer internet shutdowns. And Russia is exerting more central control over its internet. But nothing to date equals Iran’s shutdown in logistical complexity, the experts say.

“There is a desperate move to control all information in the country and to ensure that the government has a monopoly on information,” said Adrian Shahbaz, research director for technology and democracy at Freedom House, a watchdog group.

Despite the open nature of the internet, a combination of technical measures and political pressure in repressive states can isolate large populations from free-flowing information.

Some governments, especially during unrest, have been accused of trying to prevent the spread of videos and images showing police violence against protesters. They do so by throttling, or slowing down, internet connectivity or blocking access to specific applications such as Google search. It’s happened on multiple occasions in Venezuela.

Iran acted to staunch demonstrations in a reported 100 cities and towns. After gas prices were increased, demonstrators abandoned cars along major highways and joined mass protests in the capital, Tehran, and elsewhere. Some protests turned violent.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
It took two years and a lawsuit for the documents to be released

The Secret Service paid more than a quarter of a million dollars to Donald Trump’s businesses in the first five months of his presidency alone, newly released documents show.

The documents, obtained by Property of the People via a Freedom of Information Act request, a government watchdog group, detail more than 50 payments made by the Secret Service to Trump properties, 40 of which were paid to "Trump National Golf Club".

Mr Trump o

wns several golf clubs and the document does not indicate at which specific location the money was spent.

The Washington Post was able to match several of the payment dates with Mr Trump’s visits to his golf clubs in Virginia and New Jersey.

As the Post notes, the Secret Service also protects members of Mr Trump’s family, and many of those charges could also be protection for one of his other close

The website TrumpGolfCount found that Mr Trump has spent at 224 days at his golf resorts, and has been seen playing golf on at least 105 occasions. Founder Sophie Germain estimates that Mr Trump’s visit to his golf clubs have cost the federal government somewhere in the range of $110,000,000.

Mr Trump’s son, Eric Trump, continues to run the Trump family businesses.

It took more than two years for Property of the People to obtain the documents released today. The organisation initially filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and filed a lawsuit against the government when the documents were not provided.

If the Secret Service’s spending remained consistent over Mr Trump’s presidency, Mr Trump’s businesses would have netted more than $1.7m to date.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Clashes in Colombia as hundreds of thousands protest against government
« Reply #14646 on: November 22, 2019, 05:41:12 AM »
Hundreds of thousands of Colombians have taken to the streets in a show of support for the country’s embattled peace process with leftist rebels – and to protest against its deeply unpopular government.

Pensioners, students, teachers and union members joined marches across the country in one of biggest mass demonstrations in recent years.

In the capital, Bogotá, police helicopters whirred overhead, while riot police fired teargas at protesters who had blocked bus routes before dawn. Despite torrential rain, thousands of people thronged the city’s historic Plaza de Simón Bolívar, singing the national anthem.

The marches began in Bogotá largely without incident, although a few clashes broke out near Bogotá airport between protesters and riot police around midday. As the rain cleared, more confrontations broke out across the city in the early evening. Explosions could be heard across the city. Teargas was fired in the Plaza de Simón Bolívar and at the campus of the National University, where protesters battled with security forces.

The national strike was prompted by proposed cuts to pensions weeks ago. Though the reform was never formally announced, it became a lightning rod for widespread dissatisfaction with the government of President Iván Duque, whose approval rating has dropped to just 26% since he took office in August last year.

Protesters also expressed anger at the perceived slow-walking of the rollout of the country’s historic 2016 peace deal with the leftist Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (or Farc) rebel group. That accord formally ended five decades of civil war that killed 260,000 and forced more than 7 million to flee their homes.

Others say Duque has done little to protect social leaders and indigenous people, who are being murdered at alarming rates. Public fury has also been stoked by a recent airstrike against a camp of dissident rebel drug traffickers, which left eight minors dead.

“We live in a country that kills children, that kills social leaders, with a government that is against peace,” said Alexandra Guzmán, a businesswoman who hires ex-Farc members to work at her furniture workshop. “That is why we have to change something. We cannot continue to live like this.”

And as in Chile, which has been mired in more than a month of unrest, many in the expanding middle classes feel left behind as the economy continues to grow.

“It is not the economy that is growing like Duque and his friends say. It is the profits of the bankers that are growing, which means that they are draining the economy,” tweeted Gustavo Petro, an opposition senator who ran against Duque for the presidency last year, ahead of the march.

“I’m marching today because my generation need a pension when we grow old,” said María Rodríguez, a student who was marching with her colleagues. “We have to stand up for our rights.”

The marches were mostly peaceful, although clashes broke out near Bogotá airport between protesters and riot police.

In the past, such protests have failed to attract large turnouts, which activists attribute to a fear of being demonized as hardline leftists or rebel sympathizers.

“We have fought for generations to make sure we are no longer persecuted to speak,” said Mafe Carrascal, a prominent activist who attended the marches in Bogotá. “The peace process gave us a big tailwind in showing that to support peace is not to be a defender of the guerrillas.”

Also in attendance was Jacqueline Castillo, a mother whose brother was murdered by the army before being falsely declared an enemy Farc combatant – one of thousands of so-called “false positive” killings that plagued the country from 2002 to 2008. Some reports say the practice may have returned.

“We aren’t scared to fight for justice and peace, and we’ll take to the streets until we get it,” Castillo said. “The people do not surrender, dammit!”

Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
U.S. warships sail in disputed South China Sea, angering China
« Reply #14647 on: November 22, 2019, 06:01:55 AM »
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Navy warships twice sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea in the past few days, the U.S. military told Reuters on Thursday, at a time of heightened tension between the world’s two largest economies.

The busy waterway is one of a number of flashpoints in the U.S.-China relationship, which include a trade war, U.S. sanctions, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Earlier this week during high-level talks, China called on the U.S. military to stop flexing its muscles in the South China Sea and adding “new uncertainties” over democratic Taiwan, which is claimed by China as a wayward province.

The U.S. Navy regularly angers China by conducting what it calls “freedom of navigation” operations by ships close to some of the islands China occupies, asserting freedom of access to international waterways.

The littoral combat ship Gabrielle Giffords traveled within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef on Wednesday, Commander Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, told Reuters.

The destroyer Wayne E. Meyer challenged restrictions on innocent passage in the Paracel islands on Thursday, Mommsen said.

“These missions are based in the rule of law and demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” she said.

China’s military confirmed on Friday that the two U.S. warships had sailed through the contentious waterways and said it tracked the passage of the American ships.

“We urge (the United States) to stop these provocative actions to avoid any unforeseeable accidents,” the spokesman for China’s Southern Theatre Command said in a statement. “China has indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea islands and its surrounding area.”

China claims almost all the energy-rich waters of the South China Sea, where it has established military outposts on artificial islands. However, Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam also have claims to parts of the sea.

China’s Foreign Ministry also voiced anger, saying it had lodged strong representations with the U.S. over the warships movements.

“The U.S. actions severely damage China’s sovereignty and safety, destroy the peace and stability in the South China Sea, and we express our resolute opposition,” said ministry spokesman Geng Shuang at a daily press briefing on Friday.

The United States accuses China of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate Asian neighbors who might want to exploit its extensive oil and gas reserves.

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper met Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe earlier this week for closed-door talks on the sidelines of a gathering of defense ministers in Bangkok.

Wei urged Esper to “stop flexing muscles in the South China Sea and to not provoke and escalate tensions in the South China Sea”, a Chinese spokesman said.

Esper has accused Beijing of “increasingly resorting to coercion and intimidation to advance its strategic objectives” in the region.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
80% of global terror attacks' victims are Muslims
« Reply #14648 on: November 22, 2019, 06:29:04 AM »
Defying growing perceptions in Western countries over Muslims which are often associated with terrorism and extremism, 80% of terror victims globally are Muslims, the head of a French NGO said Thursday.

“Muslims are the first to suffer from terrorist attacks. It is important to recall in Europe because it is assumed that the terrorists are Muslims and the victims are non-Muslims. However, this is not true,” Guillaume Denoix de Saint Marc, the executive director of the Association Française des Victimes du Terrorisme (the French Association of Victims of Terrorism), said ahead of the 8th International Congress for the Victims of Terrorism, as reported by Anadolu Agency (AA).

People from all over the world whose lives have been affected by terrorism gathered yesterday in the French city of Nice. Many people from the Muslim community were invited to the congress in order to show that Muslims have also suffered from unjust treatment, Saint March said. “The terrorists wanted us to confront each other, [but] we want to rebuild the destroyed bridge,” he also noted, underscoring the importance of establishing dialogue with victims of terror attacks from other religions.

France has the largest Muslim minority in Europe, estimated at 5 million people or more out of a population of 67 million. Following a wave of militant attacks since 2015, officials have urged people not to confuse the actions of radicalized individuals with those of France's Muslims, but anti-Islamic violence is on the rise. A Europol report has shown that, contrary to media representations, more than 99% of terrorist attacks in Europe from 2006 to 2009 were, in fact, carried out by non-Muslims.

Muslim communities in the world have suffered numerous hate attacks in recent years with many blaming the surge on an anti-Muslim discourse existing in the media and supported by politicians. The Christchurch mosque terror attacks became the latest example of growing far-right terrorism, a well-known global threat. Extremist politics, including extreme nationalist and white supremacist politics that appear to be at the core of the latest terror attack on Muslims in New Zealand, have been part of daily politics for a long time. The rise of global extremism, with the flourishing of the right in Europe and U.S. President Donald Trump and the alt-right in America, has emboldened potential terrorists.

According to a report released by the Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) earlier this month, Muslims are often portrayed as a monolithic group and associated with terrorism and extremism. Attacks against mosques are generally reported on Fridays and religious holidays, the report said, adding that mosques, community centers and Muslim families' homes are also targeted, as well as women wearing headscarves. The vast majority of bias-motivated crimes go unreported as many victims do not go to the police because they doubt the authorities will take action, the report added.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
In a speech, the actor argued that Facebook would have run ads by Hitler. Here are his remarks in full

‘A sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories that threatens democracy and our planet - this cannot possibly be what the creators of the internet had in mind.’

In a speech last night at the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the actor and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen attacked Facebook and other social media platforms for enabling the proliferation of hate speech and misinformation.

The speech was striking in its sincerity – Baron Cohen appeared as himself, rather than “in character” as one of his satirical personas – and its blistering tone.

Describing Facebook as “the greatest propaganda machine in history”, Baron Cohen argued that the company, which does not vet political ads for truthfulness, would have allowed Hitler to run propaganda on its platform.

Here is the full transcript, from his prepared remarks:

Thank you, ADL, for this recognition and your work in fighting racism, hate and bigotry. And to be clear, when I say “racism, hate and bigotry” I’m not referring to the names of Stephen Miller’s Labradoodles.

Now, I realize that some of you may be thinking, what the hell is a comedian doing speaking at a conference like this! I certainly am. I’ve spent most of the past two decades in character. In fact, this is the first time that I have ever stood up and given a speech as my least popular character, Sacha Baron Cohen. And I have to confess, it is terrifying.

I realize that my presence here may also be unexpected for another reason. At times, some critics have said my comedy risks reinforcing old stereotypes.

The truth is, I’ve been passionate about challenging bigotry and intolerance throughout my life. As a teenager in the UK, I marched against the fascist National Front and to abolish apartheid. As an undergraduate, I traveled around America and wrote my thesis about the civil rights movement, with the help of the archives of the ADL. And as a comedian, I’ve tried to use my characters to get people to let down their guard and reveal what they actually believe, including their own prejudice.

Now, I’m not going to claim that everything I’ve done has been for a higher purpose. Yes, some of my comedy, OK probably half my comedy, has been absolutely juvenile and the other half completely puerile. I admit, there was nothing particularly enlightening about me – as Borat from Kazakhstan, the first fake news journalist – running through a conference of mortgage brokers when I was completely naked.

But when Borat was able to get an entire bar in Arizona to sing “Throw the Jew down the well,” it did reveal people’s indifference to antisemitism. When – as Bruno, the gay fashion reporter from Austria – I started kissing a man in a cage fight in Arkansas, nearly starting a riot, it showed the violent potential of homophobia. And when – disguised as an ultra-woke developer – I proposed building a mosque in one rural community, prompting a resident to proudly admit, “I am racist, against Muslims” – it showed the acceptance of Islamophobia.

That’s why I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you. Today around the world, demagogues appeal to our worst instincts. Conspiracy theories once confined to the fringe are going mainstream. It’s as if the Age of Reason – the era of evidential argument – is ending, and now knowledge is delegitimized and scientific consensus is dismissed. Democracy, which depends on shared truths, is in retreat, and autocracy, which depends on shared lies, is on the march. Hate crimes are surging, as are murderous attacks on religious and ethnic minorities.

What do all these dangerous trends have in common? I’m just a comedian and an actor, not a scholar. But one thing is pretty clear to me. All this hate and violence is being facilitated by a handful of internet companies that amount to the greatest propaganda machine in history.

The greatest propaganda machine in history.

Think about it. Facebook, YouTube and Google, Twitter and others – they reach billions of people. The algorithms these platforms depend on deliberately amplify the type of content that keeps users engaged – stories that appeal to our baser instincts and that trigger outrage and fear. It’s why YouTube recommended videos by the conspiracist Alex Jones billions of times. It’s why fake news outperforms real news, because studies show that lies spread faster than truth. And it’s no surprise that the greatest propaganda machine in history has spread the oldest conspiracy theory in history – the lie that Jews are somehow dangerous. As one headline put it, “Just Think What Goebbels Could Have Done with Facebook.”

On the internet, everything can appear equally legitimate. Breitbart resembles the BBC. The fictitious Protocols of the Elders of Zion look as valid as an ADL report. And the rantings of a lunatic seem as credible as the findings of a Nobel prize winner. We have lost, it seems, a shared sense of the basic facts upon which democracy depends.

When I, as the wannabe gangsta Ali G, asked the astronaut Buzz Aldrin “what woz it like to walk on de sun?” the joke worked, because we, the audience, shared the same facts. If you believe the moon landing was a hoax, the joke was not funny.

When Borat got that bar in Arizona to agree that “Jews control everybody’s money and never give it back,” the joke worked because the audience shared the fact that the depiction of Jews as miserly is a conspiracy theory originating in the Middle Ages.

But when, thanks to social media, conspiracies take hold, it’s easier for hate groups to recruit, easier for foreign intelligence agencies to interfere in our elections, and easier for a country like Myanmar to commit genocide against the Rohingya.

It’s actually quite shocking how easy it is to turn conspiracy thinking into violence. In my last show Who is America?, I found an educated, normal guy who had held down a good job, but who, on social media, repeated many of the conspiracy theories that President Trump, using Twitter, has spread more than 1,700 times to his 67 million followers. The president even tweeted that he was considering designating Antifa – anti-fascists who march against the far right – as a terror organization.

So, disguised as an Israel anti-terrorism expert, Colonel Erran Morad, I told my interviewee that, at the Women’s March in San Francisco, Antifa were plotting to put hormones into babies’ diapers in order to “make them transgender”. And he believed it.

I instructed him to plant small devices on three innocent people at the march and explained that when he pushed a button, he’d trigger an explosion that would kill them all. They weren’t real explosives, of course, but he thought they were. I wanted to see – would he actually do it?

The answer was yes. He pushed the button and thought he had actually killed three human beings. Voltaire was right: “Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” And social media lets authoritarians push absurdities to billions of people.

In their defense, these social media companies have taken some steps to reduce hate and conspiracies on their platforms, but these steps have been mostly superficial.

I’m speaking up today because I believe that our pluralistic democracies are on a precipice and that the next 12 months, and the role of social media, could be determinant. British voters will go to the polls while online conspiracists promote the despicable theory of “great replacement” that white Christians are being deliberately replaced by Muslim immigrants. Americans will vote for president while trolls and bots perpetuate the disgusting lie of a “Hispanic invasion”. And after years of YouTube videos calling climate change a “hoax”, the United States is on track, a year from now, to formally withdraw from the Paris accords. A sewer of bigotry and vile conspiracy theories that threatens democracy and our planet – this cannot possibly be what the creators of the internet had in mind.

I believe it’s time for a fundamental rethink of social media and how it spreads hate, conspiracies and lies. Last month, however, Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook delivered a major speech that, not surprisingly, warned against new laws and regulations on companies like his. Well, some of these arguments are simply absurd. Let’s count the ways.

First, Zuckerberg tried to portray this whole issue as “choices … around free expression”. That is ludicrous. This is not about limiting anyone’s free speech. This is about giving people, including some of the most reprehensible people on earth, the biggest platform in history to reach a third of the planet. Freedom of speech is not freedom of reach. Sadly, there will always be racists, misogynists, antisemites and child abusers. But I think we could all agree that we should not be giving bigots and pedophiles a free platform to amplify their views and target their victims.

Second, Zuckerberg claimed that new limits on what’s posted on social media would be to “pull back on free expression”. This is utter nonsense. The first amendment says that “Congress shall make no law” abridging freedom of speech, however, this does not apply to private businesses like Facebook. We’re not asking these companies to determine the boundaries of free speech across society. We just want them to be responsible on their platforms.

If a neo-Nazi comes goose-stepping into a restaurant and starts threatening other customers and saying he wants kill Jews, would the owner of the restaurant be required to serve him an elegant eight-course meal? Of course not! The restaurant owner has every legal right and a moral obligation to kick the Nazi out, and so do these internet companies.

Third, Zuckerberg seemed to equate regulation of companies like his to the actions of “the most repressive societies”. Incredible. This, from one of the six people who decide what information so much of the world sees. Zuckerberg at Facebook, Sundar Pichai at Google, at its parent company Alphabet, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Brin’s ex-sister-in-law, Susan Wojcicki at YouTube and Jack Dorsey at Twitter.

The Silicon Six – all billionaires, all Americans – who care more about boosting their share price than about protecting democracy. This is ideological imperialism – six unelected individuals in Silicon Valley imposing their vision on the rest of the world, unaccountable to any government and acting like they’re above the reach of law. It’s like we’re living in the Roman Empire, and Mark Zuckerberg is Caesar. At least that would explain his haircut.

Here’s an idea. Instead of letting the Silicon Six decide the fate of the world, let our elected representatives, voted for by the people, of every democracy in the world, have at least some say.

Fourth, Zuckerberg speaks of welcoming a “diversity of ideas”, and last year he gave us an example. He said that he found posts denying the Holocaust “deeply offensive”, but he didn’t think Facebook should take them down “because I think there are things that different people get wrong”. At this very moment, there are still Holocaust deniers on Facebook, and Google still takes you to the most repulsive Holocaust denial sites with a simple click. One of the heads of Google once told me, incredibly, that these sites just show “both sides” of the issue. This is madness.

To quote Edward R Murrow, one “cannot accept that there are, on every story, two equal and logical sides to an argument”. We have millions of pieces of evidence for the Holocaust – it is an historical fact. And denying it is not some random opinion. Those who deny the Holocaust aim to encourage another one.

Still, Zuckerberg says that “people should decide what is credible, not tech companies.” But at a time when two-thirds of millennials say they haven’t even heard of Auschwitz, how are they supposed to know what’s “credible”? How are they supposed to know that the lie is a lie?

There is such a thing as objective truth. Facts do exist. And if these internet companies really want to make a difference, they should hire enough monitors to actually monitor, work closely with groups like the ADL, insist on facts and purge these lies and conspiracies from their platforms.

Fifth, when discussing the difficulty of removing content, Zuckerberg asked “where do you draw the line?” Yes, drawing the line can be difficult. But here’s what he’s really saying: removing more of these lies and conspiracies is just too expensive.

These are the richest companies in the world, and they have the best engineers in the world. They could fix these problems if they wanted to. Twitter could deploy an algorithm to remove more white supremacist hate speech, but they reportedly haven’t because it would eject some very prominent politicians from their platform. Maybe that’s not a bad thing! The truth is, these companies won’t fundamentally change because their entire business model relies on generating more engagement, and nothing generates more engagement than lies, fear and outrage.

It’s time to finally call these companies what they really are – the largest publishers in history. And here’s an idea for them: abide by basic standards and practices just like newspapers, magazines and TV news do every day. We have standards and practices in television and the movies; there are certain things we cannot say or do. In England, I was told that Ali G could not curse when he appeared before 9pm. Here in the US, the Motion Picture Association of America regulates and rates what we see. I’ve had scenes in my movies cut or reduced to abide by those standards. If there are standards and practices for what cinemas and television channels can show, then surely companies that publish material to billions of people should have to abide by basic standards and practices too.

Take the issue of political ads. Fortunately, Twitter finally banned them, and Google is making changes, too. But if you pay them, Facebook will run any “political” ad you want, even if it’s a lie. And they’ll even help you micro-target those lies to their users for maximum effect. Under this twisted logic, if Facebook were around in the 1930s, it would have allowed Hitler to post 30-second ads on his “solution” to the “Jewish problem”. So here’s a good standard and practice: Facebook, start factchecking political ads before you run them, stop micro-targeted lies immediately, and when the ads are false, give back the money and don’t publish them.

Here’s another good practice: slow down. Every single post doesn’t need to be published immediately. Oscar Wilde once said that “we live in an age when unnecessary things are our only necessities.” But is having every thought or video posted instantly online, even if it is racist or criminal or murderous, really a necessity? Of course not!

The shooter who massacred Muslims in New Zealand live-streamed his atrocity on Facebook where it then spread across the internet and was viewed likely millions of times. It was a snuff film, brought to you by social media. Why can’t we have more of a delay so this trauma-inducing filth can be caught and stopped before it’s posted in the first place?

Finally, Zuckerberg said that social media companies should “live up to their responsibilities”, but he’s totally silent about what should happen when they don’t. By now it’s pretty clear, they cannot be trusted to regulate themselves. As with the Industrial Revolution, it’s time for regulation and legislation to curb the greed of these hi-tech robber barons.

In every other industry, a company can be held liable when their product is defective. When engines explode or seatbelts malfunction, car companies recall tens of thousands of vehicles, at a cost of billions of dollars. It only seems fair to say to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter: your product is defective, you are obliged to fix it, no matter how much it costs and no matter how many moderators you need to employ.

In every other industry, you can be sued for the harm you cause. Publishers can be sued for libel, people can be sued for defamation. I’ve been sued many times! I’m being sued right now by someone whose name I won’t mention because he might sue me again! But social media companies are largely protected from liability for the content their users post – no matter how indecent it is – by Section 230 of, get ready for it, the Communications Decency Act. Absurd!

Fortunately, internet companies can now be held responsible for pedophiles who use their sites to target children. I say, let’s also hold these companies responsible for those who use their sites to advocate for the mass murder of children because of their race or religion. And maybe fines are not enough. Maybe it’s time to tell Mark Zuckerberg and the CEOs of these companies: you already allowed one foreign power to interfere in our elections, you already facilitated one genocide in Myanmar, do it again and you go to jail.

In the end, it all comes down to what kind of world we want. In his speech, Zuckerberg said that one of his main goals is to “uphold as wide a definition of freedom of expression as possible”. Yet our freedoms are not only an end in themselves, they’re also the means to another end – as you say here in the US, the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. But today these rights are threatened by hate, conspiracies and lies.

Allow me to leave you with a suggestion for a different aim for society. The ultimate aim of society should be to make sure that people are not targeted, not harassed and not murdered because of who they are, where they come from, who they love or how they pray.

If we make that our aim – if we prioritize truth over lies, tolerance over prejudice, empathy over indifference and experts over ignoramuses – then maybe, just maybe, we can stop the greatest propaganda machine in history, we can save democracy, we can still have a place for free speech and free expression, and, most importantly, my jokes will still work.

Thank you all very much.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Poll finds most Israelis think Netanyahu must step down now charges announced
« Reply #14650 on: November 22, 2019, 04:13:26 PM »
Survey indicates that new election wouldn’t break political deadlock, with Liberman still holding balance of power between rival blocs

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during a meeting of the right-wing bloc at the Knesset in Jerusalem on November 20, 2019.

Fifty-six percent of Israelis think that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign, according to a survey published Friday after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced that he would be indicting the premier in three corruption cases.

Just 35% of respondents said that the Likud leader should not budge from the Prime Minister’s Residence, while the remaining 9% were unsure, according to the Channel 13 poll.
If elections were held today, the survey indicated that Benny Gantz’s Blue and White would climb to 36 seats — three more than it received in September’s election. Likud, despite the Netanyahu indictments, would also see its seat count rise, from 32 to 33.

The balance between the right-Orthodox and center-left-Arab blocs that has caused a nearly year-long political stalemate would not change, according to the poll, with kingmaker Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party holding onto the eight seats it won in September and with the majority-Arab Joint List party doing the same with its 13 seats.

The poll indicated that the two ultra-Orthodox parties Shas and United Torah Judaism would receive six seats each, a drop from nine and eight seats, respectively.

The left-wing Labor and Democratic Camp parties would also drop, to four seats each, hovering just above the electoral threshold along with the national religious Jewish Home party. Interim Defense Minister Naftali Bennett’s New Right party, which ran with the Jewish Home as the Yamina alliance in September, would receive six seats, the poll predicted.

In total, the center-left-Arab bloc of Blue and White, Labor, Democratic Camp and the Joint List would edge the right-wing and religious bloc of Likud, Shas, UTJ, Jewish Home and New Right, by 57 to 55.

Respondents were also asked if their trust in the police, State Prosecutor’s Office and the entire law enforcement system was strengthened, diminished or remained the same in light of Mandelblit’s Thursday announcement of charges against Netanyahu.

Twenty percent said their trust was strengthened, 26% said it was diminished and 47% said it stayed the same.

Asked who would be to blame if a third election is called, 35% said Netanyahu, 27% said Liberman, 25% said all players were equally responsible, and just 4% said Blue and White chairman Benny Gantz would be culpable.

The Channel 13 poll surveyed 749 Israelis, 601 of them Jews and 148 of them Arabs. The margin of error was 4%.

Mandelblit on Thursday laid out the charges he intends to file against Netanyahu in three separate cases.

In Case 1000, involving accusations that Netanyahu received gifts and benefits from billionaire benefactors including Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan in exchange for favors, Mandelblit said he intends to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust — the latter being a somewhat murky offense relating to an official violating the trust the public has placed in him. Milchan is not to be charged.

In Case 2000, involving accusations Netanyahu agreed with Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon Mozes to weaken a rival daily in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth, Mandelblit will seek to charge the premier with fraud and breach of trust, while Mozes will be charged with bribery. The case is said to have been a contentious one in Mandelblit’s office, with many prosecution officials reportedly arguing that Netanyahu should be charged with bribery, while Mandelblit considered not charging the prime minister at all.

In Case 4000, widely seen as the most serious against the premier, Netanyahu is accused of having advanced regulatory decisions that benefited Shaul Elovitch, the controlling shareholder in the Bezeq telecom giant, in exchange for positive coverage from the Elovitch-owned Walla news site. In that case Mandelblit announced he intends to charge Netanyahu with fraud and breach of trust, and both Netanyahu and Elovitch with bribery.

Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing, castigated the police and prosecutors hours after Mandelblit announced the charges, saying he would continue to lead Israel, that the cases were fabricated in order to oust him in a coup, and that his investigators must be investigated by an independent panel. He also said Israel no longer enjoyed credible rule of law.

On Friday, he repeated his demand for his investigators to be probed, but moderated his tone somewhat, and said he would respect the courts’ rulings in his case.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Our neighbors defy Billionaire's move to rezone 192 acres for his new Gun empire
« Reply #14651 on: November 22, 2019, 04:32:30 PM »
County planning commission opposes MidwayUSA move after neighbors fill chambers

Concerned neighbors of the land proposed for a new MidwayUSA headquarters filled the commission chambers and spilled out into the hallway during the Boone County Planning & Zoning Commission’s meeting Thursday.

The commission opposed MidwayUSA owner Larry Potterfield’s request to rezone 192 acres at Route J and U.S. 40 from agricultural to planned industrial use after around 50 neighbors attended the meeting to oppose the continuation of the project.

Including the 23 neighbors who live within 1,000 feet of the proposed property, 260 people signed a petition against the development, Gary Frisch, who lives across the street from the property, said. About 150 signed a petition against the development.

Potterfield wants to expand the MidwayUSA headquarters to the Route J and U.S. 40 plot, according to previous Missourian reporting. The new plot is about 171 acres larger than the current headquarters property at 5875 W. Van Horn Tavern Road.

The plan proposes a 1 million-square-foot warehouse, which would be built in phases, principal engineer Tim Crockett said during the meeting. It also includes multiple parking lots, office space, distribution space and possible industrial use and would be built to employ up to 1,200 people.

Eight neighbors shared concerns about the potential for lower property values, safety and constant noise and light from the property.

Dennis Stephenson, who lives directly behind the property, said during the meeting that he fears the headquarters would threaten the way of life in the agricultural area. Many of the people who live around the property have lived there for most of their lives, he said.

“Everyone whose property touches the property requesting zoning has livestock,” he said. “Try to find that anywhere else in Boone County.”

Frisch fears the consequences on the value of his property and house, which he plans to sell in a few years. He said he had his house appraised and then was informed afterward that the appraisal would decline because of the development.

“My wife and I feel very strongly that you should not approve this,” Frisch told the commission.

No one spoke in support of the rezoning, but Thad Yonke, county senior planner, said the resource management office received an email of support before the meeting.

Potterfield can appeal the Planning and Zoning Commission's rejection to the Boone County Commission within three days. If he does so, the three-member county commission would consider the request during its regular meeting at 7 p.m. Dec. 3 in its chambers at the Roger B. Wilson Boone County Government Center.

Crockett couldn’t confirm whether they will file an appeal.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Harvard-Yale delayed by climate change protest
« Reply #14652 on: November 23, 2019, 01:31:21 PM »
The start of the second half of Saturday's Harvard-Yale game was delayed by nearly an hour after a number of spectators rushed the field to stage a climate change protest.

The game went to halftime around 1:40 p.m. ET with the Crimson leading 15-3, and then students from both schools occupied midfield after the Yale band had finished performing.

The field was ultimately cleared, and the game resumed at 2:48 p.m. ET.

Some protesters held banners asking their colleges to act on climate change and Puerto Rican debt relief, including one sign that read, "Nobody wins. Yale & Harvard are complicit in climate injustice."

"Hey hey, ho ho, fossil fuels have got to go," some protesters chanted.

Players were stretching and warming up when the protesters first took the field. The players returned to the locker room as hundreds more rushed in.

Some protesters had tied themselves together and were requesting police to arrest them, according to ESPN's Jack Ford. Police officers were seen escorting some protesters off the field.

Caleb Schwartz, a Harvard student and spokesman for the group Divest Harvard, said Saturday's protest was the result of months of coordination.

"This is a very deliberate choice of targeting this specific [game] to get our action out there," Schwartz told ESPN's Paul Kix.

Saturday was the 136th edition of "The Game" between Harvard and Yale. The Bulldogs were in position to clinch an Ivy League title with a win.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Hunter Biden-linked company received $130M in special federal loans ...
« Reply #14653 on: November 23, 2019, 01:39:37 PM »
while Joe Biden was vice president.

An investment firm linked to Hunter Biden received over $130 million in federal bailout loans while his father Joe Biden was vice president and routed profits through a subsidiary in the Cayman Islands, according to federal banking and corporate records reviewed by the Washington Examiner.

Financial experts said the offshore corporate structure could have been used to shield earnings from U.S. taxes.

Rosemont Capital, an investment firm at the center of Hunter Biden’s much-scrutinized financial network, was one of the companies approved to participate in the 2009 federal loan program known as the Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility, or TALF.

Under the program, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve Bank issued billions of dollars in highly favorable loans to select investors who agreed to buy bonds that banks were struggling to offload, including bundled college and auto loans.

According to federal records, 177 firms participated in TALF, many of them well connected in Washington or on Wall Street. For investors, there was little risk and a high chance of reward. The Federal Reserve funded as much as 90% of the investments. If the bonds were profitable, the borrowers benefited. If not, the department agreed to take over the depreciated assets with no repercussions for the borrowers.

“It's very complicated to become qualified as a TALF borrower or as a TALF fund, if you will,” Carol Pepper, a wealth management specialist, told Forbes in 2009. “But that's an example of where, if you can get into a TALF fund, you can benefit from this government program.”

Under the terms for the program, any U.S. company looking to invest in select categories of bonds was eligible to apply for the loans. However, the Treasury Department and Federal Reserve maintained the “right to reject a borrower for any reason,” and the internal selection process was criticized by some lawmakers as opaque and open to corruption.

“How can my constituents in Vermont get some of that money? Who makes the decisions? Do you guys sit around in a room — do you make it? Are there conflicts of interest?” Sen. Bernie Sanders asked Federal Reserve Bank Chairman Ben Bernanke at a March 3, 2009, Senate hearing. “Do you have to be a large, greedy, reckless financial institution to apply for these monies?”

Joe Biden was a key advocate for the financial bailout, which was approved under the Bush administration and expanded under President Barack Obama. He delayed his Senate resignation in January 2009 to cast his final vote to increase funding for the Troubled Asset Relief Program before taking office as vice president.

“These guys are not the most likable guys in the world,” Biden said about the banks and hedge funds aided by the government intervention. "But here are the facts ... Had we not bailed out the largest bank institutions in the world, there would have been a flat-out depression.”

One of the firms that benefited was Rosemont Capital, a company led by Hunter Biden’s business partners, Chris Heinz and Devon Archer. The firm received the loans at a crucial time for Hunter Biden. The younger Biden had stepped down from his lobbying business in late 2008, reportedly due to pressure on his father’s vice presidential campaign.

Biden, Heinz, and Archer incorporated Rosemont Seneca Partners in Delaware on June 25, 2009. The “alternative investment and market advisory firm” was an offshoot of Rosemont Capital, which held a 50% stake in the new venture. Rosemont Seneca and Rosemont Capital shared the same office address in lower Manhattan and the same New York phone number, according to Securities and Exchange Commission documents. Three weeks after Rosemont Seneca was incorporated, a subsidiary of Rosemont Capital, called Rosemont TALF SPV, received $23.5 million in federal loans through the TALF program. This included $13.4 million to invest in student loans and $11.1 million to invest in subprime auto loans. Over five months, the company received a total of $130 million from the program in multiple installments for investments in subprime credit cards and residential mortgages.

“This is a great example of the suspicion of many Americans that these bailouts were used to benefit connected insiders while ordinary Americans went broke,” said Tom Anderson, director of the Government Integrity Project at the National Legal and Policy Center, an organization that was critical of TALF at the time.

Although the government stopped issuing the loans at the end of 2009, the names of the well connected borrowers and investors were later released — prompting new criticism from lawmakers and the press. In April 2011, Rolling Stone reported that millions in TALF loans had been issued to the wife of Morgan Stanley Chairman John Mack, Miami Dolphins owner H. Wayne Huizenga, and Wall Street titan John Paulson, dubbing the program “welfare for the rich.”

“Our jaws are literally dropping as we're reading this,” Warren Gunnels, an aide to Sanders, told Rolling Stone. “Every one of these transactions is outrageous.”

Sanders also raised concerns that borrowers were using the program to evade taxes. His office staff compiled a list of over 100 TALF investors based in the Cayman Islands and other known tax havens.

“It has been estimated that each year corporations and wealthy individuals avoid approximately $100 billion in U.S. taxes through the use of abusive and illegal tax shelters,” wrote Sanders in a letter to Bernanke. “Why would the Fed lend to material investors located in the Cayman Islands?”

Federal Reserve records show Rosemont Capital was one of the companies that set up an offshore limited partnership, called “Rosemont TALF Investment Fund LP,” to participate in the TALF program. The fund was incorporated in the Cayman Islands on May 14, 2009, and dissolved on Nov. 14, 2014, according to corporate records in the British territory. The fund was managed by a Delaware-based subsidiary of Rosemont called “Rosemont TALF GP,” SEC records show.

Another investor in Rosemont’s TALF fund, called “Rosemont TALF Opportunities Fund II,” was also based in the Cayman Islands. Additional Rosemont TALF investors included two Greek shipping magnates, a California class action attorney and a financial trust based in Liberia.

Tax experts said the Cayman Islands were a popular location at the time for hedge funds and corporations to set up subsidiaries in order to avoid paying certain U.S. taxes. Didier Jacobs, a senior policy adviser at Oxfam America who focuses on international finance, said an estimated $2.7 trillion was parked in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens prior to the U.S. tax reform in 2017.

“As long as it was sitting there, it was not taxed. That’s why there was a lot of money sitting there in the Cayman Islands,” said Jacobs.

Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow at the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, said the use of an offshore company could also help investment firms reduce the tax liability for foreign or tax-exempt investors who could otherwise be subject to U.S. taxes.

Matt Gardner, a senior fellow at the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, said the most likely reason for setting up a company in the Cayman Islands would be to take advantage of its tax laws.

“It seems like a pretty basic ask that any recipient of these TALF loans would act in certain ways. And one of those ways would be to not organize their businesses to avoid taxes in the Caymans,” said Gardner.
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'

Offline knarf

  • Global Moderator
  • Master Chef
  • *****
  • Posts: 14928
    • View Profile
Here’s how we escape TrumpWorld where there’s ‘no future and no truth’
« Reply #14654 on: November 23, 2019, 01:49:36 PM »
Yale historian Timothy Snyder

There will come a time when Donald Trump is no longer president of the United States. The Democrats may defeat Trump in 2020, sending him back to one of his resort hotels to brood and plot further chaos.
This article first appeared in Salon.

Trump could be impeached, convicted and forced from office, unlikely as that seems at this moment. A serious medical illness may mean that he is unable to fulfill his duties and is forced to resign. Because of his many scandals and likely illegal behavior, Trump could also choose to resign — if given assurances that Mike Pence, as the new president, will pardon him and his family.There are other possibilities. Based on his threats and his obvious authoritarian tendencies, it seems possible that Trump will refuse to leave office if he is defeated, or perhaps after his second term if he is re-elected. Nonetheless, despite his malignant narcissism and his grandiose sense of self-worth, Donald Trump is not immortal. Even if he takes on the full trappings of an American emperor, at some point he will no longer occupy the White House.Whichever scenario comes to pass, the American people will still have the challenge of healing, improving and protecting American democracy so that a fascist authoritarian such as Donald Trump can never take power again.
Yale University historian Timothy Snyder is one of the most insightful truth-tellers about Donald Trump’s movement and the dangers of authoritarianism in America and around the world. His 2017 bestselling book “On Tyranny” explained how sick democracies succumb to fascism and authoritarianism. “On Tyranny” is also a survival guide for the American people about the lessons they can learn from other countries and other historical eras about how to survive such a regime.

Snyder’s 2018 follow-up, “The Road to Unfreedom,” maps out how Vladimir Putin’s Russia has worked to destabilize Western liberal democracy, as seen with Brexit, Trump and the rise of the global New Right.

I recently spoke with Snyder about the health of American democracy in the third year of Trump’s presidency. Snyder also shared his concerns about the ways Trump and Attorney General William Barr are working to undermine democracy and the rule of law.

In this conversation, Snyder implores the “Resistance” and other Americans of conscience to craft a positive narrative of their political vision rather than simply opposing Donald Trump’s regime. Snyder also urges the Democrats, especially if they defeat Trump in 2020, to immediately pursue a plan to save American democracy and the country’s future by addressing fundamental problems of social inequality and imminent global climate disaster. As he did in “On Tyranny,” Snyder again warns that if Trump is re-elected, the American people must enter survival mode and learn lessons about how people in other countries survived authoritarianism and totalitarianism, and ultimately defeated them.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and length. You can also listen to my full conversation with Timothy Snyder through the player embedded below.

In “On Tyranny” you wrote one of the first and most widely read and influential books about the threat of authoritarianism and Donald Trump. Three years into Trump’s regime and entering an election year, how is America doing?

Some people are doing better. A handful of politicians, some of whom are running for president, are doing a much better job of articulating a future for America post-Trump. That is absolutely necessary, because if we do not have a sense of the future then we do not have any reason to resist in the present. And if we do not have a sense of the future. then in a very basic way democracy becomes impossible. Why? Because democracy is precisely about the idea that you can make a mistake and you can correct it later on.

A sense of the future is also very important because what Trump is really good at is driving people down into an eternal present, where we’re all just elated or depressed — but we’re stuck in today, and that eternal present is leavened with a little bit of nostalgia for a past that never was. Politicians such as Donald Trump are very good at keeping the future completely out of view.

Another group of people who are doing better are the investigative reporters. In 2016, there were a lot of things that needed to be investigated in real time which were not. At the national level, we are witnessing a renaissance of investigative reporting. There is still a dire need for foreign correspondents. Events in Syria and Russia and Ukraine would be a lot less mysterious if we had permanent foreign correspondents in those areas from multiple American newspapers.

There is also a real need for local news. The absence of local news is probably the fundamental problem in U.S. politics right now. And then there are people who are still doing good things. All the new NGOs, all the lawyers who are trying to hold things back, the attorney generals in states such as Massachusetts who are filing suits and slowing things down and in some instances even stopping things, in terms of Trump’s push against democracy and the rule of law. But we as Americans have a problem of fatigue, which shows through in people’s increasing difficulty in remembering how the news of today fits in with the news of yesterday or last year.

This fatigue manifests itself in the difficulty one has of getting people to rally for things that are not immediately obvious. America is facing titanic constitutional questions right now with Donald Trump, including the question about whether the rule of law still applies in the country. Yet, paradoxically, it’s hard to imagine a march about such important issues.

How do we as a country manage that fatigue? How do we navigate what seems like a manic state where there are high hopes that Trump will somehow be stopped — Robert Mueller, impeachment, Ukraine — and then great lows of despair and learned helplessness where nothing changes and Trump is further empowered?

The therapeutic vocabulary is appropriate. When I wrote “On Tyranny,” I was thinking about political hygiene in the sense of brushing your teeth. You do not get excited about brushing your teeth, but it’s still a really good thing to do. There are a lot of things in politics that are like that. These are the daily and weekly things that must be done to maintain a healthy democracy. Subscribing to newspapers, making eye contact with people, making sure that you go to a march every so often, those things are partly important because of how they impact our individual and collective mood for the better.

I worry that people get manic because they think it’s all on their own shoulders. Everybody’s refreshing on their phones to figure out what the latest dramatic thing is that has happened. But if all you do is refresh your phone then you don’t actually go out and do anything. The result is that you end up feeling manic or depressive.

If you put the phone down and go out and actually do something, such as attend a small rally in front of the ICE headquarters or write an editorial and get it published or whatever it might be, then you end up feeling better. There are plenty of things that it does not take a lot of courage to do, but if you do them, you will actually feel better. Action is the answer. The way that Trump wins is through inaction, both on the part of people who oppose him and on the part of people who support him. Ironically, if the people who supported Trump actually made demands upon him then he would have a real problem.

In the age of Trump, there has been much discussion of the “Resistance.” What does resistance actually mean in practice?

I respect people who are putting their bodies out in a public place for something that matters. And those people do not necessarily call themselves the resistance. But they are paying some kind of price for their actions. If you’re a citizen and if you are white, it is a small price. But you’re still paying some kind of price. You’re taking some kind of risk. I respect people who are writing about things that they actually know something about. Those people wouldn’t call themselves the resistance either. But they are incredibly significant, because without the facts any type of resistance against Trumpism is going to be slippery. We are going to be on ice. I also respect the people who are running for public office — especially for local offices and state level offices — who would not have done such a thing before.

The idea of a resistance is not incoherent. In America there is a Trump regime that is partly foreign-sponsored and that is constitutionally questionable. Therefore, I do not think the notion of resistance is itself incoherent. What you have to do is break that down from big-R resistance to small-R resistance, and ask yourself exactly, “What am I resisting with a small R today?” There are millions of people who are doing a wonderful job with that now. Then the other aspect of resistance is that there must be an answer of what you want to accomplish. Just being “anti” something is not enough.

One of the syndromes of politics in our time, in 2019, is this kind of passive-aggressive “anti” where we know that Mr. Trump is against a lot of things, but he is not really explicit about what he is for. As a result, the people who oppose Trump can also fall into the trap of being anti-Trump but not being very explicit about what they are really for either. We have to take care that we are as clear as possible about what we stand for.

What is the role of conspiracy theory in a failing democracy?

Attorney General Barr’s recent speech at Notre Dame was very disappointing in this respect, because here is a man who understands it to be part of his job to fly around the world to pretend to look for evidence of things that he knows are fictions.

One of the most prominent of these fantasies involves Ukraine hiding a computer server for the Democrats or that Ukraine, rather than Russia, interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Mr. Barr knows, because he’s a very intelligent man, that he is chasing phantoms. He knows that. Barr and others doing that work have made the decision that they do not want their country to exist in a world of empirical reality. Instead they want the United States of America to be led by someone who has all these fantasies outside of reality, because fantasies allow you to divide politics between “us” and “them.”

Barr’s speech at Notre Dame is an example of this. Barr is saying that the law can’t really be impartial anymore because “we’re” under attack. Barr then makes up a fantasy about a “secularist conspiracy.” What Barr is doing is making a claim that because “we’re” under attack then the normal rules don’t apply. Those normal rules are the law.

There is something very discouraging about a man who is, after the president, at least in principle, the highest law enforcement official in the land, saying that there is a permanent state of emergency because of some type of “attack” on America by “secularists.”

It is not possible to reconcile a permanent state of emergency with democracy or with the rule of law.

With Trump, Barr, the Republican Party and their propaganda machine there is an obvious strategy to render the rule of law meaningless except as a way for them to assault their enemies. Like other authoritarians in other countries and moments in time, they use the law when convenient for themselves and ignore the law when it is inconvenient. Ultimately the law as a matter of principle has no standing.

There are two ways of breaking the law. One, you break the law by breaking it. Two, you break the law by showing it to be absurd. The latter is the 21st-century way of building an authoritarian state — at least the 21st-century Russian way. The law doesn’t apply to the individuals and groups who have power, but then that same law can be used against other individuals and groups. The law is made absurd. That is what is happening in America now with Mr. Trump.

This investigation of the Mueller investigation is meant to have the effect of making the whole system of law look absurd. At the end of the process, we are not supposed to ask who is really guilty. The American public is supposed to conclude that this is all ridiculous. Everybody’s guilty. Everybody’s not guilty. Who knows? The law is clearly a joke in the same way that other things in this moment are a joke. That is the ultimate goal of Trump and his agents’ strategy.

How do you think the whistleblower or whistleblowers who have sounded the alarm about Trump, Ukraine and other matters will be remembered by history?

I’m going to treat this as a hopeful question, because it has the nice premise that in 50 years there is going to be a United States. Moreover, that there are going to be historians and they will be writing about the United States — which I hope is right. The way that history works is that historians will pick out the people who are exceptional in order to create a context, a general backdrop for the narrative and analysis.

The whistleblowers will be necessary for this American story in order to make the point about how people generally just went along with Trump.

The ethic that regardless of political convictions or party affiliation there are actually rules that count is not to be dismissed. This is what the whistleblower and other people who are now testifying exemplify. The alternative is a type of one-party-state situation where civil service does not matter at all as an ethic.

Would you have thought or written five years ago that the president of the United States was foreign-sponsored or that the country might not exist in 50 years? It now seems so matter-of-fact in this state of malignant reality, the unreality of America under Trump’s regime.

The important thing is to make sure that you’re radically truthful. The truth is radical enough. When I look at the great exemplary political intellectuals, such as George Orwell or my late friend Tony Judt, their language was powerful precisely because it revealed with clarity the grotesquerie of what was actually happening. If you describe what is happening, and do so carefully, it is very forceful. Describing the reality of the situation gets us to a much more radical place than almost anything else.

As far as the U.S. not being around in 50 years, I hope it is. But I am a historian. There is no country which has ever lasted forever, and we’ve had a nice long run. It is perfectly clear that the country will not last unless it radically improves upon itself. Even Jefferson thought there had to be a revolution every so often. Here we are.

How much should we focus on the person of Donald Trump, as opposed to the political, cultural and other systems of power that allowed this moment to happen?

If you cannot do both at the same time, then you are probably not doing either. Mr. Trump must be opposed, because if unopposed his administration is capable of doing damage that future generations won’t be able to repair. That structural and moral damage will get in the way of making America a more just country.

Donald Trump must be opposed in the name of something else. But we have to get better at articulating what that something else is. The world in 2016 must have been such as to allow him to be president, because he became president that year.

Therefore, we have to then ask, as we think about the future, “Just what was it that was so wrong in 2016?” The answer can’t be that what was wrong is Mr. Trump. The answer has to be that what was wrong was the Electoral College, but also gerrymandering, but also dark money in politics, but also Election Day not being a holiday, but also voter suppression of African Americans and others. Inequality represses people.

In opposing Mr. Trump, we have to be able to oppose the things that made it possible for him to come onto the scene. Donald Trump wins if it’s all about him — because if it’s all about him then, in an odd way, this abnormal situation becomes normal.

What has to be normal instead is an America which can renew itself, because it’s capable of thinking about the future and drawing conclusions from the past. Donald Trump’s specific terrain is that there is no truth and there is no future. If you cannot keep yourself in a world where there is truth and therefore there’s a future, then Trump is actually winning.

If Donald Trump wins in 2020, what must the American people do? If he loses in 2020, what must the American people do?

I believe that between now and the 2020 election a great number of surprising things are going to happen. This is not going to be a normal race. I’m not even sure that Donald Trump is going to be the Republican candidate.

My first answer would be that it would be a terrible mistake to think we can just wait for impeachment, or for the Democrats to win in 2020. This next year is probably more important than the previous three years in terms of creating a sense that America can be a different place. In practice this means not just following passively as Trump falls into ever greater legal trouble and gets impeached. Instead we should be sketching out for ourselves what kind of America this could instead be. This year cannot just be bracketed by Mr. Trump’s problems. It has to be a year in which the American people are thinking about the second half of your question, which is what do we do next?

Most people did accuse me of being too much of an alarmist about what Mr. Trump represents. I don’t think I was. I would say that if Mr. Trump does win, then the parts of my book “On Tyranny” which are actually about resistance, such as the very practical things about how you live a semi-legal life and how you protect yourself from surveillance and so on, will become much more relevant. And the lessons from Poland, Hungary, Russia and now Hong Kong about how you organize resistance in a semi-legal or even illegal way, that then becomes relevant. I’m not sure Americans are quite ready for that. But that will then be the mode of existence in America if Trump wins again and has some kind of legislative support behind him.

But I think the harder question, and the one that I personally worry about most, is what to do when he loses. We need to think about catching up on all this lost time. These last three years are lost time, in terms of our survival as a species. We needed to have climate policy. Instead we just messed around. And there’s also a lot of lost time in the Obama years. There’s a lot of lost time in the Clinton years, not to mention the Bush years. We in America have just fallen behind in terms of fundamentals such as life expectancy and inequality and prospects for the future. We need to make the 21st century a century that we as a species are actually going to get through.

I worry that the Democrats will win and not hit the ground running, because if you don’t hit the ground running, it is not just that the country, but our entire species, is going to have big problems. If the Democrats do not hit the ground running it will seem as though they are not a real alternative to what came before. We’re going to need political leadership which says, “Yes, really good things have to happen really fast right now.”
Mark Twain — 'There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.'