True North Humanist Perspective - May 2014

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FOCUS: Robert Parry

Who's the Propagandist: U.S. or RT?

Parry writes: "After Secretary of State Kerry lashed out at Russia's RT network over its reporting on Ukraine, a senior aide assembled a list of particulars, which have backfired by showing how weak Kerry's case is and how hypocritical Kerry's State Department has been."

(The allegation of) “propaganda” by RT has to be considered one of the purest expressions of hypocrisy in the long history of U.S. government hypocrisy.

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
(John Parry is a journalist who has had a long and distinguished career with such as Associated Press and Newsweek)
01 May 2014 he U.S. State Department, which has been caught promoting a series of false or dubious stories about Ukraine, is trying to give some substance to Secretary of State John Kerry’s counter-complaint that Russia’s RT network is a “propaganda bullhorn” promoting Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “fantasy.”

In a “Dipnote” of April 29, Richard Stengel, under secretary of state for public diplomacy, made some broad-brush criticisms of RT’s content – accusing the network of painting “a dangerous and false picture of Ukraine’s legitimate government” by citing examples of fascism, anti-Semitism and terrorism surrounding the Kiev regime.

Stengel claims he knows the difference between news and propaganda because he spent seven years as managing editor of Time. He defines propaganda as “the deliberate dissemination of information that you know to be false or misleading in order to influence an audience” and asserts: “RT is a distortion machine, not a news organization.”

But Stengel offers no specific citations of the supposedly propagandistic stories done by RT, making it impossible to ascertain the precise wording or context of the RT content that he is criticizing. One basic rule of journalism is “show, don’t tell,” but Stengel apparently didn’t learn that during his seven years in the top echelon of Time magazine. (More)


Whatever happened to John Kerry?

Has he become what he was fighting?

John Kerry’s sad circle to deceit

25 April 2014 — Exclusive: Secretary of State John Kerry is framing the Ukraine narrative to make the U.S. side – despite neo-Nazis overthrowing an elected president – the good guys and Russians the bad guys. But Kerry’s strident propaganda is a sad ending to a career that began as a truth-teller, writes Robert Parry of Consortium News.

By Robert Parry

As a young man, John Kerry was thrust into the Vietnam War by old men who lied to the nation out of ideological delusions, political expediency or personal pride. Now, John Kerry has become that old man, either detached from reality or believing he has a right to mislead the American people just like those old men who sent him and so many other young Americans into the bloody jungles of Vietnam nearly a half century ago.

Kerry’s strident April 24 speech about Russia and Ukraine was, in many ways, a replay of his bellicose speech last Aug. 30 about Syria and the mysterious chemical weapons attack of Aug. 21. In both cases, Kerry opted for a one-sided rant over a balanced presentation of the facts; in both cases, he made repeated assertions about what the U.S. government knows without actually providing evidence.

Indeed, it seems that whenever Kerry does cite supposed “evidence” that can be checked — like the dubious anti-Semitic fliers distributed in eastern Ukraine or the photos of alleged Russian special forces soldiers who allegedly slipped into Ukraine — the “proof” goes “poof” as Kerry once said in a different context.

For Kerry, playing fast and loose with the truth has become a pattern, so much so that he is quickly shredding the credibility he once had as a brave young naval officer who returned from Vietnam to speak out against the war and as a courageous young senator who investigated serious crimes of state by the Reagan administration, including its tolerance of cocaine trafficking by U.S.-backed Nicaraguan Contra rebels.

There were, of course, troubling signs along the way, such as his politically motivated vote in 2002 to let President George W. Bush invade Iraq on baseless claims about hidden WMD stockpiles and Kerry’s weak-kneed 2004 presidential campaign when he let his handlers convince him to hide his honorable past. (More)


Kerry Grovels Over Israeli 'Apartheid'

'Yet, Official Washington can’t handle this truth, as the capital of the world’s leading superpower has become a grim version of Alice’s Wonderland in which speaking truth about the well-connected requires immediate apologies while telling half-truths and lies against “designated villains” makes you a proud member of the insider’s club.'

By Robert Parry
Consortium News
30 April 2014 It is a mark of how upside-down Official Washington has become over facts and evidence that Secretary of State John Kerry, who has developed a reputation for making false and misleading statements about Syria and Russia, rushes to apologize when he speaks the truth about the danger from Israeli “apartheid.”

After public disclosure that he had said in a closed-door meeting of the Trilateral Commission last week that Israel risked becoming an “apartheid state,” Kerry hastily apologized for his transgression, expressing his undying support for Israel and engaging in self-flagellation over his word choice.

“For more than 30 years in the United States Senate, I didn’t just speak words in support of Israel,” Mr. Kerry said in his statement. “I walked the walk when it came time to vote and when it came time to fight.”

He then sought to clarify his position on the A-word: “First, Israel is a vibrant democracy and I do not believe, nor have I ever stated, publicly or privately, that Israel is an apartheid state or that it intends to become one. Anyone who knows anything about me knows that without a shred of doubt.”

Kerry added: “If I could rewind the tape, I would have chosen a different word to describe my firm belief that the only way in the long term to have a Jewish state and two nations and two peoples living side by side in peace and security is through a two state solution.”

Kerry scurried to make this apology after his remark was reported by The Daily Beast and condemned by the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which said: “Any suggestion that Israel is, or is at risk of becoming, an apartheid state is offensive and inappropriate.”

The only problem with AIPAC’s umbrage – and with Kerry’s groveling – is that Israel has moved decisively in the direction of becoming an apartheid state in which Palestinians are isolated into circumscribed areas, often behind walls, and are tightly restricted in their movements, even as Israel continues to expand settlements into Palestinian territories. (More)


Atheist candidate for congress

takes on Christian Right darling

James Woods is fighting to make atheism electable in an election against an incumbent who got an A+ rating from the Family Research Council.

By C.J. Werleman
30 April 2014 Polls show that atheists remain the most distrusted and despised minority in America. A University of Minnesota study found that 40 percent of Americans believe atheists “do not agree with my vision of American society.” With such widely held prejudice, there’s little wonder 46 percent of Americans are unwilling to vote for an atheist in a presidential election. It’s also why atheist politicians have, for the most part, kept their atheism a secret until long after leaving office.

Take Barney Frank (D-MA). In 1987, while serving in the U.S. Congress, Frank stepped out of the close to announce he was gay. But he kept his atheism a secret until he had long retired from public life. Pete Stark (D-CA) was one of the longest serving congressional members in U.S. history, representing California’s 13th congressional district from 1973 to 2013. It wasn’t until 2007 before Stark, in an interview with the Secular Coalition of America, acknowledged he was openly atheist, which made him the first congressman in U.S. history to declare his atheism while still in office.

If the U.S. congress proportionately represented the will of the American people, there’d be no less than 50 atheists serving in the federal legislative branch of government. Instead there are none. Not a single open-shirted atheist walks among the 535 members on Capitol Hill today.

James Woods is hoping to change that scorecard as he fights to become not only the representative of Arizona’s 5th Congressional District, but also the first elected member of Congress running unabashedly as an atheist.

Woods is a Democrat and also legally blind. One billboard sponsored by the Freedom From Religions Foundation, of which is a member, features a photo of the candidate with a quote attributed to him: “Faith without reason is true blindness.” (More)


Creationists hit the panic button after Neil DeGrasse Tyson

destroys the myth that the universe is just 6,000 Years Old

This kind of thinking is what stunts scientific growth in the US and around the world.

By Dan Arel
30 April 2014 Creationists find evolution so offensive that this week they attacked Neil deGrasse Tyson and his show Cosmos over the claim that stars evolved and created life as we know it. In episode 8 titled, "Sisters of the Sun," Tyson highlighted the stellar evolution and explained in detail the life and death of stars.

Of course creationists take issue with stars that are scientifically proven to be billions of years old. The creationist website that's emerging as the leading opposition to Tyson and his show,  Answers in Genesis (AiG), claimed: “We know from the Bible that God created the stars on Day Four of Creation Week about 6,000 years ago.”

Yet they do not know this, because there is zero evidence that any star we see in the sky is less only 6,000 years old, in fact for us to see almost any of the stars in the sky they would have to be hundreds of millions or billions of years old because of how far away they are (as explained in earlier episodes of Cosmos about what a light-year is.)

The continued use of the universe's actual timescale, an estimated 14.8 billion years to now, is a thorn in the side of creationists who know anything older than 6,000 years brings their entire myth to its knees. (More)