Fractured Europe series, by Dave Hutchinson - There are three novels in the *Fractured Europe* sequence, which is probably all that we are going to get as the third volume rounds off the story nicely ...
5 hours ago
Well, all this is interesting to me, anyway, and that's what matters here. The Internet is a terrible thing for someone like me, who finds almost everything interesting.
At a different time, in another country, it was effectively a death sentence.
Being branded an "enemy of the people" by the likes of Stalin or Mao brought at best suspicion and stigma, at worst hard labour or death.
Now the chilling phrase - which is at least as old as Emperor Nero, who was called "hostis publicus", enemy of the public, by the Senate in AD 68 - is making something of a comeback.
In November, the UK Daily Mail used its entire front page to brand three judges "enemies of the people" following a legal ruling on the Brexit process.
Then on Friday, President Donald Trump deployed the epithet against mainstream US media outlets that he sees as hostile.
"The FAKE NEWS media (failing New York Times, NBC News, ABC, CBS, CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!" he wrote on Twitter. ...
Steve Silberman, an award-winning writer and journalist, wondered whether the remark would prompt Trump supporters to shoot at journalists.
And that might not be a far-fetched concern. Late last year, a Trump supporter opened fire in a pizza restaurant at the centre of a bizarre conspiracy theory about child abuse.
The US president's use of "enemies of the people" raises unavoidable echoes of some of history's most murderous dictators.
Under Soviet leader Joseph Stalin, out-of-favour artists and politicians were designated enemies and many were sent to hard labour camps or killed. Others were stigmatised and denied access to education and employment.
And Chairman Mao, the leader of China who presided over the deaths of millions of people in a famine brought about by his Great Leap Forward, was also known to use the phrase against anyone who opposed him, with terrible consequences. ...
Carl Bernstein, a reporter who helped to bring down Richard Nixon with his reporting on the Watergate scandal, tweeted: "The most dangerous 'enemy of the people' is presidential lying - always. Attacks on press by Donald Trump more treacherous than Nixon's."
On Feb. 6, Germany's most-read newspaper reported that dozens of Arab men, presumed to be refugees, had rampaged through the city of Frankfurt on New Year's Eve. The men were said to have sexually assaulted women as they went through the streets; the newspaper dubbed them the Fressgass “sex mob,” referring to an upmarket shopping street in the city.
Bild's report sparked widespread concern in Germany. The nation has taken in millions of migrants over the past few years, and there had been reports of a similar incidents in Cologne and other cities the previous New Year's Eve.
But police investigating the crime now say that the allegations included in the article are “without foundation.”
According to the Frankfurter Rundschau, the witnesses who spoke to reporters may be investigated themselves. Bild has now deleted the story from its website. The paper's online editor in chief on Tuesday said that the company apologized “for our own work.”
There have been plenty of false stories about refugees and migrants in Germany over the past few years, in large part a reflection of divisive political views on the issue within the country and the increasingly fragmented world of online media. They include the story of the “Allahu akbar”-chanting mob that set Germany’s oldest church alight (quickly proved false), for example, or the refugee who took a selfie with German Chancellor Angela Merkel who was accused of terrorism links (again false).
But most of these stories have been driven by social media or spread by ideological websites like Breitbart.
The truth is Michael Flynn does not matter. We have before us a question that has stood before us, centerstage, for something like a year, brazen and shameless and yet too baffling and incredible to believe: Donald Trump's bizarre and unexplained relationship with Russia and its strongman Vladimir Putin.
It is almost beyond imagining that a National Security Advisor could be forced to resign amidst a counter-intelligence investigation into his communications and ties to a foreign adversary. The National Security Advisor is unique in the national security apparatus. He or she is the organizer, synthesizer and conduit to the President for information from all the various agencies and departments with a role in national security. This person must be able to know everything. The power and trust accorded this person are immeasurable. It is only really comparable to the President. And yet, we are talking about the President. A staffer or appointee can be dismissed. The President is the ultimate constitutional officer. ...
...the circumstantial evidence, the unexplained actions, the unheard of spectacle of a foreign power subverting a US election while the beneficiary of the interference aggressively and openly makes the case for the culprit, the refusal to make even the most elementary forms of disclosure which could clarify the President's financial ties - they are so multifaceted and abundant it is almost impossible to believe they are mere random and chance occurrences with no real set of connections behind them. ...
If you were Vladimir Putin you could not have done more to help the cause of Donald Trump. And if you were Trump, you could not have done more in actions and statements to repay the favor. The only question is whether the trajectory of perfectly interlocked actions were simply chance or tacit. Is it even remotely credible that with everything that led up to it, Michael Flynn initiated and conducted this back channel on his own? Hardly. It's crazy that we're having this conversation about a sitting President. But here we are. It's time. We need to know the answer to this question.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) on the Flynn affair: "I just don't think it's useful to be doing investigation after investigation, particularly of your own party. We'll never even get started with doing the things we need to do, like repealing Obamacare, if we're spending our whole time having Republicans investigate Republicans. I think it makes no sense."
That was the same mindset – an aversion to accountability in exchange for perceived short-term political gain – that produced an explosion of GOP corruption in the mid-aughts. There's little evidence the party learned from that sordid period, and Trump seems likely to reproduce it, except bigger, more garishly, and with more conspicuous gilding. And his congressional enablers seem ready to help out, if only by omission of real oversight.
Trump does not simply have “a running war with the media,” as he so indecorously and disrespectfully spouted off while standing on the hallowed ground before the C.I.A. Memorial Wall. He is in fact having a running war with the truth itself.
Donald Trump is a proven liar. He lies often and effortlessly. He lies about the profound and the trivial. He lies to avoid guilt and invite glory. He lies when his pride is injured and when his pomposity is challenged.
Indeed, one of the greatest threats Trump poses is that he corrupts and corrodes the absoluteness of truth, facts and science.
It is no coincidence that the rise of Trump is concurrent with the rise of “fake news.” It is no coincidence that his rise comes during an age of severely damaged faith in institutions.
And now that he has been elected, Trump wants absolute control over the flow of information, to dictate his own version of facts rather than live with the reality of accepted facts. Trump is in a battle to bend the truth to his benefit.
He hates members of the press because, when properly performing, they are truth seekers rather than ego-strokers. The press may sometimes get things wrong, but it most often gets them right. A truly independent press is not stocked with political acolytes but political adversaries.
This doesn’t sit well with an administration that wants to be perpetually patted on the back and never rapped on the knuckles.
After Trump and his press secretary, Sean Spicer, got called out by the press for lying about Trump’s inauguration crowd size and viewership, Spicer limped back to the mic and whined of Trump’s press coverage: “The default narrative is always negative, and it’s demoralizing.”
No, sir, the default is to call a lie a lie; lies are negative because they are the opposite of the truth; and Trump continuously lies. ...
And Trump for his part continues to rage about three to five million illegal votes causing him to lose the popular vote in November. This, too, is a lie. A lie. Not the euphemisms you hear on television, like “unsubstantiated,” or “unproven,” or “baseless.” It is a lie, pure and simple.
But Trump won’t let it go. His pride is hurt, his vanity tarnished. The man who prides himself on winning lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by nearly three million votes, the biggest popular vote loss by a winning candidate in American history. That stings.
So, even after his lie is reported and rejected, he continues to perpetuate it. This is what makes Trump qualitatively different from our leaders who came before him: He believes that truth is what he says it is, and the only reason it has yet to be accepted is that it has yet to be sufficiently repeated. ...
We all have to adjust to this unprecedented assault on the truth and stand ready to vigilantly defend against it, because without truth, what’s left? Our president is a pathological liar. Say it. Write it. Never become inured to it. And dispense with the terms of art to describe it. A lie by any other name portends the same.
On the one hand it is chilling, bizarre, un-American to see the President's spokesman begin the term excoriating and threatening the press, telling demonstrable lies, speaking with a palpable rage in his voice. On the other, the President and his toadies are on the second day almost vanishingly small. They are embarrassing themselves. They look silly. They look ridiculous. It is hard to be intimidated by ridiculousness. I suspect this will be the abiding duality of the Trump presidency.
Senior Trump advisor Kellyanne Conway said in an interview Sunday morning that White House press secretary Sean Spicer wasn't lying about crowd size at the President's inauguration—he was just giving "alternative facts." ...
"You did not answer the question of why the president asked the White House press secretary to come out in front of the podium for the first time and utter a falsehood," [Chuck] Todd interrupted. "Why did he do that? It undermines the credibility of the entire White House press office on day one."
"No, it doesn't. Don't be so overly dramatic about it, Chuck," Conway replied. "You're saying it's a falsehood, and they're giving Sean Spicer, our press secretary, gave alternative facts to that. But the point really is—"
"Wait a minute. Alternative facts? Alternative facts?" Todd interjected, looking incredulous. "Four of the five facts he uttered were just not true."
Conway tried to interrupt, but Todd continued.
"Look, alternative facts are not facts," he said.
A presidential speech that was intended to thank the intelligence community quickly went off the rails Saturday as Donald Trump talked about himself, his inauguration crowd, the dishonest media and how great his party was.
Trump appeared at the CIA on his first official day as the 45th president after a rough few weeks where he'd heavily criticized the agency, blamed it for leaks and questioned their assessment that Russia had interfered in the U.S. election. In a brief 15-minute statement, Trump meandered, but without the kind of discipline or grace one might expect from the commander in chief. ...
It seemed at every turn, Trump would pivot to himself. As he talked about his choice to lead the CIA Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS), Trump noted that he himself was smart.
"I met him and I said, he is so good. Number one in his class at West Point. I know a lot about West Point, and I'm a person that very strongly believes in academics. In fact, every time I say I had an uncle who was a great professor at M.I.T. for 35 years, who did a fantastic job in so many ways," Trump said. "He was an academic genius, and then they say, there's Donald Trump, an intellectual, trust me, I'm like a smart person." ...
It was a strange juxtaposition: a President, standing before the memorial wall at the CIA that honors the lives lost by agency officers as he talked about crowd size and his intelligence. According to the pool report, there were about 400 CIA employees at the agency Saturday. At first, the cheering came from across the crowd, but the pooler noted that as the speech continued, the senior officials in the front grew "subdued."
"I completely agree with that. We spent eleven hours on the air during the inauguration, barely talked about the crowd size if we brought it up at all," George Stephanopoulos replied. "The question is, why does the President choose to talk about that at the CIA? Why does he send his press secretary out to talk about it in his first White House briefing and say things that aren't true?"