Tuesday, April 10, 2018

As The World Burns

As the world burns, the ghosts of what many hoped was our long dead past rear their ugly heads again. Coast Watcher gives us a historical comparison between a past and current regime that will turn your blood cold.

The Ghosts of Himmler and Heydrich
by Coast Watcher

Recently the Department of Homeland Security created a job posting seeking a contractor for a media monitoring services project. The job briefing entails the creation of a searchable database capable of handling the details of 290,000-plus news sources from all over the world. It would cover “traditional news sources as well as social media, identify any and all media coverage related to the Department of Homeland Security or a particular event.” 

Also: “Services shall provide media comparison tools, design and rebranding tools, communication tools, and the ability to identify top media influencers.” The database will also be capable of instantly translating media from 100 languages, including Chinese and Russian, into English. It should also be able to analyze the coverage’s “sentiment” and “momentum.”

The news spread and an immediate alarm went out among journalists, bloggers and media influencers. Any government monitoring of media, in whatever form it takes, hints that the ground is being prepared for a major crackdown on dissension. President Trump is notorious for being at loggerheads with the mainstream media. In one of his usual Twitter-fits of rhetoric, he once labeled journalists as the “enemy of the people.”

Some of the reactions to this revelation:

Maybe the Trump Homeland "Security" forces would like dissidents to wear monitoring bracelets and submit themselves for tattoos, too. ~ Dr. DaShanne Stokes
I have friends who have been prohibited from leaving their countries, exiled from their countries with their citizenship stripped, detained and questioned by authorities, tortured, and/or imprisoned for years because of their social media commentary. This is dangerous. ~ Leah McElrath

Needless to say the Establishment fired back with its usual tactic of denigrating and belittling opposition:

(Those suspicious of its purpose are) tin foil hat wearing, black helicopter conspiracy theorists. ~ Homeland Security press secretary Tyler Houlton
Houlton did not respond to queries as to what the agency intends to do with the information, but I think we can guess. Once again we can take a lesson from history, in particular the crushing of dissent in Nazi Germany.

Even before the Nazi government took power in 1933, the party was at work against those it deemed its enemies. Heinrich Himmler was appointed Reichsführer-SS and put in charge of security for the party and gathering intelligence against the Nazi Party’s prime rivals, the Bolshevist Movement and Social-Democrats. Himmler initiated a card index system to track and correlate the information gathered, a task later taken on by former German naval officer Reinhardt Heydrich who expanded the system.

The index was not intended purely for intelligence and the browbeating or blackmailing of opponents. It was directed toward the Nazi goal of Machtergreifung, the seizure of total power within the state. The indexes were used to draw up lists of the most dangerous enemies, differentiating between those who would be dealt with for good by imprisonment or execution after the assumption of power and those who could be frightened off, either into silence or exile.

History shows how the indexes came to be used. Information is power and the Nazi administration wielded it with ruthless efficiency. The SS was its

tool. It was answerable only to Hitler. Trump's stated aim to set up an intelligence service answerable only to him has obvious parallels for those with an eye to history.

Most people today will shrug and say the government of the United States has systematically gathered information about those who might harm it since the beginning of the Cold War. The FBI is rumored to have established a similar system of media watching during the 1960s comparable to the one begun by Homeland Security today. 

To those who say this gathering of information isn't harmful, I say don’t be so sure. With the power of the Internet, we’re seeing information gathering methods Himmler and Heydrich couldn’t have dreamed of in their wildest fantasies, but of which their ghosts would approve of wholeheartedly. 

Do we really want to return to an era where a dictatorial and genocidal regime can use technology to shut down opposition and dissent? Will there be anyone left who cares about our freedom of speech if the means to carry it out are all but eliminated?


Himmler – Peter Padfield, MJF Books, New York.

Homeland Security To Compile A Database of Journalists, Bloggers And Influencers:

BIO: Coast Watcher says some days can't tell if he's reading a history text or the morning headlines. Those who don't remember and learn from history are doomed to repeat it--especially the worst bits. His motto: Stay awake and keep learning!

More on the propaganda machine of the Mainstream Media (warning-- contains strong language):

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From the Color of Change:
By now, you’ve probably seen the video of dozens of local news anchors around the country reciting in unison a script parroting Trump’s war on the media, warning about “fake news.”1 The script is the brainchild of the Sinclair Broadcast Group, an ultra-conservative media corporation that owns almost 200 television stations that reach 40% of the U.S. population. 
If Trump’s FCC approves their plan to buy the Tribune Media Company, Sinclair will be able to pump their right-wing propaganda to over 72% of U.S. homes.2

Sinclair Broadcast Group has often been compared to Fox News, but Sinclair is much more dangerous. Unlike Fox News, where some people know the content is biased, Sinclair is forcing trusted local anchors to parrot Fox-type content that undermines trust in the rest of the media and promotes damaging stereotypes. And with 3 out of 4 U.S. adults regularly consuming local news, millions of people are unknowingly peppered with pro-Trump propaganda.3 But, just like Fox News, Sinclair Broadcast is vulnerable to pressure from their core advertisers. As we’ve done so many times in the past - like with Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly - we can hold advertisers accountable for funding Sinclair’s pro-Trump propaganda.

While Sinclair claims they’re focused on “fair and objective reporting," their close relationship to the Trump administration, and unquestioning repetition of Trump talking points proves this to be false.4 According to Senior Advisor (and Trump son-in-law) Jared Kushner, Sinclair media outlets were given increased access to the Trump presidential campaign in exchange for Sinclair stations broadcasting Trump interviews without critical commentary.5 Boris Epshteyn, a former high-level member of the Trump administration who wrote the infamous Holocaust Remembrance Day statement that failed to mention Jewish people who died in the Holocaust, was hired by Sinclair shortly after his departure from the White House and is now their Chief Political Analyst.6 His “Bottom Line with Boris” segments are “must runs” and required to be aired on Sinclair stations 9 times per week.7 Epshteyn’s commentary is often nothing more than just a parroting of White House talking points, including harmful rhetoric that minimized the level of hatred and violence committed by white supremacists in Charlottesville last summer.8
The Sinclair threat goes beyond spreading pro-Trump propaganda. When news outlets lack accountability, they let down Black people with racially biased coverage and damaging stereotypes. We know from our report “A Dangerous Distortion of Our Families: Representations of Families, by Race, in News and Opinion Media,” that Black families are erroneously over-represented as lacking stability and more likely to be on welfare.9 These harmful depictions of Black families in the news media influence perceptions of Black communities and can dictate policy. Inaccurate and damaging portrayals of Black families gives false support to Trump administration policies that actively oppress Black people and communities such as increased policing in schools and communities, further demonizing of Black immigrants, and more cuts to social safety net programs.

Tell advertisers to stop supporting the spread of pro-Trump propaganda. 

Local news stations are often seen as neutral reporters, but the reality is that they are owned and run by major corporations like Sinclair Broadcast Group. Sinclair shouldn’t get to exploit our trust in local journalists and use that trust to promote propaganda from an illegitimate presidential administration. Even though Sinclair is a major media company, they rely on local advertisers for much of their revenue. Because of the intimate connection local advertisers have with their communities, our voices are much more likely to be heard by them. And we’ve already seen this in action with Democratic Congressional candidate Amy McGrath removing her ads from all Sinclair owned TV stations in her district.10
In an election year, political ads like the ones Amy McGrath pulled will be crucial to Sinclair’s bottom line. If we put pressure on other local candidates and corporate advertisers we can create a mass exodus of Sinclair advertisers and force them to abandon Trump’s propaganda.

Local news stations should not be propaganda hubs. Tell advertisers to cut ties with Sinclair Broadcast Group.
Until justice is real, 

--Arisha, Rashad, Brandi, Jade, Johnny, Future, Corina, Chad, Mary, Angela, Saréya, Eesha, and the rest of the Color Of Change team


  1. "How America's Largest Local TV Owner Turned Its News Anchors Into Soldiers In Trump's War On The Media", The Concourse, 31 March 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33245?t=9&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  2. "Tribune Media shareholders vote in favor of merger with Sinclair Broadcast Group", LA Times, 19 October 2017 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/33246?t=11&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  3. "How Americans Get TV News At Home", Pew Research Center Journalism and Media, 11 October 2013 http://act.colorofchange.org/go/4644?t=13&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  4. "Sinclair defends itself over uproar after local news anchors read anti-'false news' screed", USA Today, 2 April 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33247?t=15&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  5. "Kushner: We struck deal with Sinclair for straighter coverage", Politico, 16 December 2016 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33248?t=17&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  6. "White House aide Epshteyn wrote controversial Holocaust memorial statement", Politico, 30 January 2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33249?t=19&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  7. "Sinclair increases 'must-run' Boris Epshteyn segments", Politico, 10 July 2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33250?t=21&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  8. "This is the pro-Trump propaganda being quietly broadcast on local stations across the country", ThinkProgress, 12 October 2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33251?t=23&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  9. "A Dangerous Distortion of Our Families: Representations of Families, by Race, in News and Media, Dr. Travis L. Dixon, December 2017 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33252?t=25&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0
  10. "Amy McGrath pulls ad from Sinclair-owned TV station in Lexington for 'fake news' message", Courier Journal, 3 April 2018 https://act.colorofchange.org/go/33253?t=27&akid=10462%2E3399430%2E3_7Ck0

Stop corporations from choking our oceans and waterways with single-use plastics!
What if I told you that every minute of every day, the equivalent of one garbage truck load of plastic is dumped into the sea? I imagine you’d be pretty shocked. Well, from straws to soda rings, our oceans are filling up like a landfill — and fast. We’re witnessing how these plastics choke or entangle species like seabirds, turtles, and whales, get into the food chain, and kill marine life. This has got to stop.

We can no longer tolerate this cycle of destruction for so-called "convenience.” You’ve already taken the first step C.A.. You signed our petition demanding that the CEOs of seven of the largest producers of single-use plastics come up with better designs and methods for the delivery of goods, and I thank you for that! But there is so much more to be done.

We need your help to get as many other people as possible to sign the petition as well. Would you please recruit at least seven friends or family members to add their voice to those who have already spoken up? It’s as easy as sharing this link.

You can help us achieve one million signatures by Earth Day, April 22. All of these actions will call for an end to corporate plastic pollution by convincing executives at Coca-Cola, PepsiCo, Nestle, Unilever, Procter & Gamble, Starbucks, McDonald's, and others to replace their single-use plastic packaging.

The more people who join the campaign, the more likely we are to succeed.
Here's how you can spread the word:
For too long, corporations have been telling us that the responsibility for dealing with their waste lies solely with us, the consumers.

But what would happen if millions of us speak out? We could change that story!

That’s why we are building an international movement of people demanding that corporations take responsibility for the problem they’ve created by moving away from throwaway plastic.

I believe that 2018 is the year that things begin to change. I promise you, it’s the beginning of the end of single-use plastics.

Greenpeace has always been a people-powered organization. When enough of us join together, there’s nothing we can’t do.

For a plastic-free future,
Annie Leonard
Executive Director, Greenpeace USA

P.S. Such a campaign is a massive undertaking, and we’re grateful to have your help. Adding your name to the petition was a vital first step. Now I’m asking you to expand your commitment by recruiting friends and family members to add their names, too. Please share the link far and wide.


Tell Congress: Don't destroy America's largest national forest
The petition to Congress reads:
"The Tongass National Forest in Alaska is our largest national forest, home to some of the oldest trees in the United States, fragile ecosystems and protected species. Do not allow dangerous road building and old growth harvesting in the Tongass."
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►

Tell Congress: Don't destroy America's largest national forest
Inside America's largest national forest, the trees are older than the United States itself, dating over 1000 years, but these ancient trees of the Tongass National Forest in Alaska could be all but decimated if Donald Trump, Republicans in Congress and the logging industry get their way.

For years, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski – who some have called the "#1 anti-public land lawmaker" – has been pushing to substantially increase old-growth timber harvesting in much of the Tongass' 17 million acres, which would jeopardize natural habitats, infringe on indigenous rights and put an entire ecosystem at risk.1

Senate Democrats recently defeated a provision snuck into a government funding bill that would have opened up the Tongass for more logging, but Sen. Murkowski is not done fighting for short-term industry profits over the health of Alaska's wilderness.2 We must act now to prevent future attacks on the Tongass and protect this important national forest.

Tell Congress: Don't destroy America's largest national forest. Click here to sign the petition.

Located in the southeast region of Alaska, the Tongass National Forest is a 500-mile archipelago, which encompasses the world's largest temperate rainforest and is "home to five species of Pacific salmon, humpback and orca whales, otters, beavers, Alexander Archipelago wolves, plus some of the largest concentrations of brown bears and bald eagles found in the United States."3 Its old-growth trees store vast amounts of carbon – an estimated 10-12 percent of all of America's national forests – and play a critical role as "Alaska’s first line of climate change defense."4,5 And local indigenous people, including the Tlingit and Haida, have lived in this region for centuries and rely on the forest's healthy natural resources for survival.6

Right now, the Tongass is protected by the "roadless rule," a critical moratorium enacted nearly two decades ago that blocks much-needed road building to access the millions of acres of old growth forests in the Tongass. For years, the logging industry and their Republican backers have attempted to repeal this critical rule but have been stymied in the courts, including by our allies at Earthjustice. Recent efforts could be given new life, especially with public lands foe Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke overseeing national forest regulations.7

It's only a matter of time before Sen. Murkowski and Senate Republicans again sneak poisonous provisions into future spending bills to destroy the Tongass. For years, Sen. Murkowski fought to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) for fossil fuel extraction, and she recently succeeded when she snuck an ANWR drilling provision into last year's Trump Tax Scam.8 We can not let Republicans ruin one more fragile ecosystem to benefit another failing extractive industry.

Tell Congress: Don't destroy America's largest national forest. Click the link below to sign the petition:

Thanks for all you do.
Josh Nelson, Co-Director
CREDO Action from Working Assets
Add your name:
Sign the petition ►
  1. Jake Bullinger, "Lisa Murkowski, the #1 Anti-Public Land Lawmaker," Outside, Feb. 7, 2018.
  2. Earthjustice, "Earthjustice Statement on FY2018 Omnibus Appropriations Bill," March 21, 2018.
  3. Libby Stortz, "Stop attacking the Tongass," Juneau Empire, March 14, 2018.
  4. Dominick A. DellaSala, "The Tongass Rainforest as Alaska’s First Line of Climate Change Defense and Importance to the Paris Climate Change Agreements," Forest Legacies.
  5. Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network, "Alaska Indigenous Women to Senator Murkowski: End The Assault On Our Communities and Lands," HuffPost, Jan. 10, 2018.
  6. Krista Langlois, "Thanks to Trump, This Senator Finally Gets Her Chance to Decimate Alaska’s Environmental Protections," Mother Jones, March 11, 2018.
  7. Earthjustice, "Federal Courts Uphold Landmark Federal Forest Protections Again," Sept. 22, 2017.
  8. Graham Lee Brewer, "Alaska is open for drilling," High Country News, Jan. 6, 2018.

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