Mr. Fish

Here's how Donald Trump embodies the incoherence of the modern digital age

Here’s a repost of the Feb. 18, 2019, column of Chris Hedges, who is on vacation. He will return with a new column Aug. 12.

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By focusing on battlefield exploits, we ignore the crippling physical and psychological wounds that plague veterans

Over 50,000 soldiers were killed, wounded or reported missing here in July 1863, many of them dying in terrible agony on the battlefield or carted off to improvised hospitals where arms and legs were swiftly amputated and tossed into large heaps on the floor. Abysmal hygiene—surgeons would nonchalantly wipe the blood from their bone saws on their pus-stained smocks and move on to the next victim—caused infection, blood poisoning and gangrene. To buy time, regiments such as the 1st Minnesota were ordered into battle against superior forces and as a result were decimated within minutes. Hundreds of African American men, women and children, many born free in the surrounding Pennsylvania towns, were abducted by invading Confederate forces led by Gen. Robert E. Lee and shipped south to be sold in the slave markets in Richmond, Va. Confederate and at times Union forces looted homes, farms and shops. For three days in the summer of 1863, there was an orgy of destruction, death and suffering on this ground.

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The coming show trial of Julian Assange

On Friday morning I was in a small courtroom at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London. Julian Assange, held in Belmarsh Prison and dressed in a pale-blue prison shirt, appeared on a video screen directly in front of me. Assange, his gray hair and beard neatly trimmed, slipped on heavy, dark-frame glasses at the start of the proceedings. He listened intently as Ben Brandon, the prosecutor, seated at a narrow wooden table, listed the crimes he allegedly had committed and called for his extradition to the United States to face charges that could result in a sentence of 175 years. The charges include the release of unredacted classified material that posed a “grave” threat to “human intelligence sources” and “the largest compromises of confidential information in the history of the United States.” After the prosecutor’s presentation, Assange’s attorney, Mark Summers, seated at the same table, called the charges “an outrageous and full-frontal assault on journalistic rights.”

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Beware: The thought police are coming

Chris Hedges gave this talk Tuesday, June 11, at an event held in London in support of Julian Assange.

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There's a new cold war with Russia -- despite the conclusions of the Mueller report

Despite the Robert Mueller report’s conclusion that Donald Trump and his campaign did not collude with Russia during the 2016 presidential race, the new Cold War with Moscow shows little sign of abating. It is used to justify the expansion of NATO to Russia’s borders, a move that has made billions in profits for U.S. arms manufacturers. It is used to demonize domestic critics and alternative media outlets as agents of a foreign power. It is used to paper over the Democratic Party’s betrayal of the working class and the party’s subservience to corporate power. It is used to discredit détente between the world’s two largest nuclear powers. It is used to justify both the curtailment of civil liberties in the United States and U.S. interventions overseas—including in countries such as Syria and Venezuela. This new Cold War predates the Trump presidential campaign. It was manufactured over a decade ago by a war industry and intelligence community that understood that, by fueling a conflict with Russia, they could consolidate their power and increase their profits. (Seventy percent of intelligence is carried out by private corporations such as Booz Allen Hamilton, which has been called the world’s most profitable spy operation.)

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Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi: Old media sold false objectivity to manufacture consent — but new media 'packages anger just for you'

In “Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media,” published in 1988, Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky exposed the techniques that the commercial media used to promote and defend the economic, social and political agendas of the ruling elites. These techniques included portraying victims as either worthy or unworthy of sympathy. A Catholic priest such as Jerzy Popiełuszko, for example, murdered by the communist regime in Poland in 1984, was deified, but four Catholic missionaries who were raped and murdered in 1980 in El Salvador by U.S.-backed death squads were slandered as fellow travelers of the “Marxist” rebel movement. The techniques also included both narrowing the debate in a way that buttressed the elite consensus and intentionally failing to challenge the intentions of the ruling elites or the actual structures of power.

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The abortion debate is not about the sanctity of life — it's about corporate capitalism

On Wednesday, the day it was announced that the U.S. birthrate fell for the fourth straight year, signaling the lowest number of births in 32 years, Alabama Gov. Kay Ivey signed into law the most draconian anti-abortion lawin the country. That the two developments came at the same time could not have been more revelatory.

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'Grotesque distortions of the judicial system': While refusing to hold Wall Street accountable, our ever-deadlier police state continues to criminalize being poor

Editor’s note: New Haven, Conn., was hit by four days of protests last week after police gunfire wounded an African American woman while officers were investigating a robbery. In Charlotte, N.C., last Monday there were a number of protest rallies stemming from release of a video of police fatally shooting an African American man who had brandished a pistol at a restaurant. Amid ongoing public anger over police shootings of black Americans, Truthdig reposts an Oct. 22, 2017, column here in which Chris Hedges analyzes the issue and its causes. Hedges will return with a new column next week.

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A professor of astrophysics explains why humans are on the path to self-destruction: 'Not the first time there’s been a civilization in the universe'

Editor’s note: The U.S. Senate on Thursday confirmed a former oil and mining industry lobbyist as secretary of the interior. President Donald Trump’s nomination of David Bernhardt, a government official during the George W. Bush administration, easily survived challenges by environmentally minded senators and others. It came amid rapidly mounting scientific evidence that global warming is an existential threat to huge numbers of species, including Homo sapiens.

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How the national security state’s disastrous and prolonged military interventions overseas cemented Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency

Donald Trump’s ascendancy to the presidency, as Max Blumenthal points out in his meticulously researched book “The Management of Savagery: How America’s National Security State Fueled the Rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS, and Donald Trump,” was made possible not only by massive social inequality and concentration of wealth and political power in the hands of the oligarchic elites but by the national security state’s disastrous and prolonged military interventions overseas.

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