“Talk of freedom, democracy and human rights are just a convenient cover. Washington is never at risk, for example, of stumbling into war with Saudi Arabia, despite Riyadh’s laundry list of crimes against humanity.”
The way the mainstream media tells it, the United States never, ever ends up embroiled in wars and military conflicts on purpose — only ever by mistake, or as a result of things like ‘bad planning’ or ‘strategic missteps’.
Very often when media coverage of war is analysed, there is a focus on how hawkish pundits cheerlead for conflict and journalists parrot official narratives while dissenting voices are drowned out. Mainstream networks, for example, have been heavily criticized by media watchdogs for almost exclusively inviting pro-war guests and ex-military hawks onto their news shows to convince Americans that war is the only reasonable course of action, while refusing to let anti-war commentators get a look in.
But there is another more subtle and unnoticeable way that the media deceives us. Even when they are not outright cheerleading for military action (as was the case in the lead up to the Iraq War), the language they use to describe events is designed to absolve Washington of blame.
Next time you read the news, notice how the US is always “stumbling into” war, or “drifting into” war or “sliding into” war — or even “sleepwalking into” war. To “stumble into” war seems to be a firm favorite among headline writers. The US has “stumbled” into war in Iraq and Syria and has been, at one time or another, at risk of “stumbling” into war with Russia, North Korea and most recently Iran.
According to these headlines, the US has also been “dragged into” (CNN) and “sucked into” (NI) war in Syria and Afghanistan, twice (NI, The Times). In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been “sliding into” (AP) a potential “accidental” war with Iran — and back in 2017, it was “dragged into” (FP) the disastrous Yemen conflict.
The examples of the US stumbling, blundering and bumbling its way into wars are endless — and it does raise a question that no one ever seems to ask: If it’s so easy to trip and fall into massive never-ending wars, why isn’t it happening to everyone else? Is Washington just especially clumsy?
With this narrative of the bumbling superpower, agency is always removed from the architects of war. Instead of enthusiastically banging the drums for war, we’re told the White House is always ‘reluctant’ to deploy its military, but is ‘forced’ into it . Then, once the war is in full-swing, when things are not panning out exactly as planned, the US can become the sacrificial hero, propelled into a deadly conflict not of its own making.
A recent headline in the Miami Herald framed recent US actions on Venezuela as the US being “pushed to act.” Pushed by who? The Trump administration voluntarily helped organize and instigate the attempted coups that worsened the country’s political crisis and proudly imposed the economic sanctions which have led directly to thousands of premature deaths. There was no “pushing” involved.
In April, Foreign Policy magazine even had Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido “stumbling toward a coup.” How do you stumble into a military coup? Surely that’s the kind of thing that requires careful, deliberate planning and execution? The Washington Post had Trump “fumbling”an uprising in Caracas, too.
It’s not just media pundits and journalists who employ this kind of misleading language, either. British Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt said this week that a US war with Iran could happen“by accident.” Did Hunt take a vacation from reality and miss US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor John Bolton ramping up war rhetoric against Iran for months? Maybe Trump abandoned the 2015 Iran nuclear deal by accident and sent an aircraft carrier and bomber task force into the Persian Gulf last week to “send a message” to Iran by mistake.
Such framing obscures basic facts about Washington’s motives and predilection toward military conflict over diplomacy. Washington doesn’t get into wars by mistake. Unless a country is directly attacked, threatened or occupied, wars are quite easy to avoid getting into if you really don’t want to be in them — but the hawks in Washington, no matter how much they pretend to not want war, are always itching for more and they will stop at nothing to get what they want, even if that means fabricating evidence (as in Iraq) or pulling off false flag attacks to use as convenient pretexts for the US to ‘respond’ to.
Please stop publishing pieces declaring the US is “stumbling” or “drifting” into a war. The US goes to war because it’s by design, not by accident. If it’s not painfully clear the intentions are to goad Iran into an armed conflict, you haven’t been paying attention.
US military actions are designed specifically to provoke the conflicts that they believe will be of benefit to their overall geopolitical strategy. Talk of freedom, democracy and human rights are just a convenient cover. Washington is never at risk, for example, of stumbling into war with Saudi Arabia, despite Riyadh’s laundry list of crimes against humanity.
Whether this propagandistic language is always employed in a totally conscious way or not, it’s difficult to tell. Either way, it’s a psychological trick which frames the most powerful, military-minded and trigger-happy country in the world as some kind of innocent victim of events beyond its control.
Danielle Ryan is an Irish freelance writer based in Dublin.
A massive concrete dome built during the Cold War to contain waste from US Nuclear testing has degraded and began leaking nuclear waste into the Pacific Ocean, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres has confirmed. While the imposing structure at Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands may look like something from a James Bond movie, Guterres described it as a “kind of coffin:” a stern reminder of the aftermath of American atomic weapons testing.
The soil irradiated by the tests and ash from the fallout were dumped into a crater which was then capped with 18 inches of concrete, measures that have proved ineffective at containing the waste in the long run. The bottom of the crater was reportedly never lined at all.
Guterres confirmed the disturbing information while speaking to students in Fiji as a part of a tour of the South Pacific focusing on climate change and environmental issues. The leakage, according to Guterres, has already begun to have its effect.
Our oceans are in serious trouble, from coral bleaching to biodiversity loss. Healthy oceans save lives and livelihoods. We need urgent #ClimateAction to protect our oceans – and our future. pic.twitter.com/vakISTezL8
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) May 15, 2019 The consequences have been quite dramatic, in relation to health, in relation to the poisoning of waters in some areas.
Aside from being used to store the dangerous atomic waste, Guterres discussed how the Pacific had been victimized while under US administration. The islands and atolls far off the southeast coast of Japan such as Enewetak were the sites of 67 American nuclear weapons tests that took place between 1946-58.
One such test was the 1954 ‘Bravo’ hydrogen bomb, which remains the most powerful US-tested atomic weapon. Its explosion was 1,000 times bigger than the atomic bombs used on Japan.
While Guterres had no specific recommendations for how to minimize the impact, he warned that action needs to be taken soon. A powerful storm in the region could end up damaging the cover further, which would have devastating results for the environment.
Only the US – not Germany or the EU – is interested in economic sanctions against Russia, the head of the Bundestag’s economy and energy committee has said. German MPs are looking at ways to lift the restrictions, he added.
Bundestag energy and economy chief Klaus Ernst of Die Linke party accused the US of behaving as if Germany is its colony, as Washington tries to bully Europeans out of buying Russian gas.
“Those measures don’t only target Russians, they deliberately target Europeans, for example, German energy companies involved in Nord Stream 2,” he said at a conference on the prospects of energy cooperation between Russia and the EU, organized by the Russian Gas Society – an association of Russian energy companies, relevant research institutions and local administrations.
US officials, including President Donald Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Berlin ambassador Richard Grenell, have mounted an offensive against the Russian-led Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline that is expected to be completed in 2019. With the stated goal of countering Russian “leverage,” they are threatening European companies with sanctions if they continue investing in the project.
“The actions of the US ambassador to Germany are simply unacceptable,” Ernst said, as cited by Russian media.
It’s as if Germany is a US colony.
The real goal, according to Ernst, is to make the EU buy American gas instead: “The Americans are using politics to realize their own interests in this field.”
The threats have had no effect so far, with Nord Stream 2 construction continuing to surge ahead. The Gazprom-owned pipeline’s operator stated that each of its European partners, which include German, French, British, Dutch and Austrian companies, have invested around a billion euros in it.
Speaking of other economic measures in place against Russia, Ernst noted that the US is the only party that wins from them.
“There are currently discussions about this in the Bundestag economy committee, and it is growing stronger – how sanctions against Russia can be lifted. Neither Germany, nor Europe is interested in these sanctions. The only ones winning from these sanctions are the Americans.”
This move from Russia, which started a while back, along with China dumping US Treasury bonds, does not bode well for the USA. Many of us were wondering when this would happen, as the USA is fuelled by the fake money printed out by the Federal Reserve, the biggest scam artist on the planet.
Foreign investors have accelerated the reduction of US debt securities, selling $21.7 billion of their holdings in March, according to data released on Wednesday by the US Treasury Department.
Russia, which is no longer a leading creditor of the US, after an unprecedented dumping of the US Treasury bonds in April and May, has slashed its stockpile by almost $800 million in March to $13.716 billion.
“The decline this month brings China essentially flat to where they were in February, erasing the increases from December through February,” Jefferies LLC’s senior money market economist Tom Simons told Reuters.
Japan, the second largest US debt holder, raised its Treasuries holdings to $1.078 trillion, the highest since November 2017, from $1.072 trillion in February.
She might be the world’s most famous romance writer, nay the highest selling living author bar none, but there’s little room for flowers and chocolates in Danielle Steel’s writing regime. In a recent interview she laughed at the idea of young people insisting on a work-life balance, and has claimed she regularly writes for 20 to 22 hours a day, and sometimes 24. The result: 179 books in under 50 years, selling about 800m copies.
Some aspiring novelists might just have cancelled their entire lives to get on the Steel plan, but many more are probably wondering if it’s time to try something less demanding. We asked four creative writing teachers for their perspective:
Liam Murray Bell, University of Stirling
Steel’s claim reminds me of the thriller writer Edgar Wallace, who was known to write a novel over the course of a long weekend. He’d retire to his study on a Friday evening and not emerge until the Monday morning, dictating his words to a secretary and stopping only for half-hourly cups of tea. Poor secretary.
The only thing I recognise from that brutal regime is the need for copious amounts of tea. For me, a productive day is four hours of writing. Four hours of focused, uninterrupted time at the keyboard. This morning, I wrote for two hours and managed just shy of 1,000 words. Even that is a decent day; a steady day. To wrestle those hours of writing time free, I’m postponing teaching preparation, leaving my marking until the evening, relying on childcare. Most of all, I’m doing my damnedest to ignore emails. When does Steel answer her emails, is what I want to know.
There have been times, on writing retreats or under threat of impending deadline, when I’ve been known to stretch to six or seven hours. No more, though, because then the words stop making sense and the delete key takes a hammering. I start explaining my plot to the mantelpiece and rehearsing lines of dialogue with the cat. Instead, I go and do something else. It’s amazing how often clarity about your writing comes while washing the dishes, trimming the hedge, taking the dog for a walk. The writers I know are full of anecdotes of story ideas scribbled on bus tickets, or pulling over the car to jot down a poem opening by the side of the road.
It’s often when I’m out for a lunchtime run that I find myself reflecting on what I wrote that morning or find the thread for a scene to write the next day. Haruki Murakami talks about the similar feats of concentration and endurance required for long-distance running and for writing a novel; each endeavour requiring the person to turn up day after day for months or even years. At the University of Stirling, we’ve actually formed a research group to look at the links between creative writing and physical activity because so many writers are also keen runners or cyclists or swimmers.
The appeal of Steel’s process, then, seems to be that every day is race day. But you can’t sustain that. Little and often is my mantra, with every day building momentum. If you manage 200 words today then those are 200 words you didn’t have yesterday. That might take you 15 minutes or it might take six hours; either way, it’s progress. The aim isn’t to get as many words on the page as quickly as possible; the aim is to get the right words on the page, however long it takes.
Sarah Corbett, University of Lancaster
I’m sorry to say there isn’t a formula for how to write a novel (so don’t buy those “how to” books) – only hard graft, staying power, blinding self belief (rescued every morning from the teeth of doubt), and the willingness to meet the devil at the crossroads and outwit him. And to write, rewrite, write, rewrite, write, rewrite …
Perhaps this isn’t very helpful to the beginner; and I have to admit that I’m just finishing my own first novel – after five years. But having taught creative writing for almost 20 years across all genres, here are some things I can say from experience:
1) Read other novels. There’s no getting round this: you have to do a lot of reading – passionate, engaged and risky – but also the kind where you start to notice, and then investigate how the writer does things. Read lots of different types of books too: be curious, endlessly;
2) Practice, practice, practice. Write regularly even if you can only spare an hour in the evening or an afternoon at the weekend. Most writers have other jobs, families, pets, households, and you’d be surprised how much writing gets done in the gaps between other things;
3) Work at your technique at every level of detail from sentencing and phrasing to word choice, creating believable characters, immersive settings, dynamic scenes and authentic dialogue;
4) Write what saddens/moves/frightens/turns you on; write with the whole of your self and the whole of your senses;
5) Join a course, start a group;
6) Write because you enjoy it, and you enjoy a challenge;
7) Be prepared to tear it up and start again;
8) Remember that writing is work, the best kind, that transports and enchants you;
9) Keep going…;
10) Write your own rules.
So how did I write my novel? Slowly – I published two poetry collections in the same period, did a lot of teaching and saw my son through his GCSEs and A-levels – and with a lot of gutting and rewriting; begging more experienced friends to read it and give me their toughest, most honest advice, and then acting on it, even when it meant radical cuts and changes.
Mine is a literary novel – about family, home and shame – but with a psychological twist. The character and her story came to me all in one go on the train home from Manchester after an unsettling encounter in Waterstones, and since then it’s been a process of excavation, as if the novel already existed somewhere in the world, and I just had to keep uncovering it, slowly, layer by layer. I’m still adding scenes, taking others away, fine tuning every line. I’m still working out the best way to tell the story, but I know I’m nearly ready to let it go because the next one has already arrived.
Edward Hogan, Open University
For his 2016 book Rest, the writer and Silicon Valley consultant Alex Soojung-Kim Pang collected the routines of creative people throughout history. From the habits of writers such as Charles Dickens, Anthony Trollope, and Alice Munro, he concluded that four hours a day is optimum, and you need to wake up early. Trollope rose at 5am each morning (a servant brought him coffee at half past), and wrote until 8.30am, before going to his job at the post office. On that schedule, he published over 40 novels.
As a writer with a family and a full-time job, I currently follow the 5am method, though I make my own coffee. In theory, this “little and often” approach seems straightforward: if you write 500 words a day, you’ll have a first draft in months. But it isn’t that simple. My first novel took eight years, but my third was pretty much done in 40 days. Writing requires two states of mind: you need the researcher’s brain, the clear-thinking editor’s, but you must be open to the dark mess of creation, too. My routine changes, because I haven’t figured out how to do it yet. When I do, I’ll probably quit.
I’m interested in Steel’s way of working. That sort of immersion, favoured by Kasuo Ishiguro, and Jesse Ball – who claims to write his novels in as little as six days – allows them to retain the vitality of the initial idea.
Paul Sheldon, the author and narrator of Stephen King’s Misery, describes “falling through a hole in the page” when writing. Maybe that’s the sort of compulsion that Steel experiences, and it’s refreshing to hear her address the physicality of the process. Writers are reluctant to talk about the (rare) sensation of extreme focus that results when they become possessed by their work. Rambling about raised heart-rates, losing track of time, and being “in the zone”, can make writing sound like a cross between yoga and golf.
The writer’s routine is where practical concerns meet the more ephemeral subject of inspiration. You have to decide what kind of writer you want to be. Jenny Colgan produces two books a year, and this involves hitting deadlines so that her novels appear around Mother’s Day and the Christmas season. Writing is work, the daily pursuit of a word count. For Hilary Mantel, that sort of regularity is alien. She talks about“flow days” when she has no idea what she’s written until she reads it back. But both writers are at their desks, daily.
The act of writing can be exhilarating, but it’s mostly quite difficult. Then again, it’s not like going down the pit. So if you want to write a novel, and find Steel’s method unappealing, let me refer you to the celebrated and prolific children’s author Jacqueline Wilson, who writes for about half-an-hour a day. In bed.
David Bishop, Edinburgh Napier University
Steel’s regime sounds extreme, but if that works for her – so be it. Every writer has their own unique sweet spot, a time and place where they can produce words that will be ready for reading one day. The trick is finding your personal approach, and also recognising it might not suit every project.
Some people say you must write every day to be a writer. Perhaps, but writing is not simply the act of typing words on paper or screen. There is so much more that goes into creating narratives from your imagination. Reading widely is often the sign of a voracious writer, though there is always the danger of a project being infected by the style or substance of whatever you happen to be reading at the time.
It’s also a myth that you need to write a certain number of words in a session. Some writers do benefit from a daily or weekly target, but others prefer to devote a fixed amount of time to writing, and trust that the words will come. Feeling guilty for not matching another writer’s productivity is certainly not good for your mental health. Besides, quantity is no measure of quality. I once had 600,000 words published in one calendar year, but they certainly weren’t my best work.
The act of not writing is just as important as writing. Never underestimate the importance of staring out of a window or going for a walk. All too often the knottiest story problems can only be untangled by getting away from the desk. If all else fails, try going to sleep and letting your subconscious do the heavy lifting. It’s amazing how often the resting mind can resolve a problem your active thoughts couldn’t fix.
For most writers, finding the best way to write a novel is trial and error: experimenting with different systems until they discover one that chimes. Some writers craft detailed plot outlines as a narrative safety net; others prefer a journey of discovery that could mean wholesale rewrites later. Some work in total silence; others needs background sounds such as music. An idea to spark your imagination is necessary, along with a trajectory to follow – but what happens next is up to you.
Steel has a sign in her office that reads: “There are no miracles. There is only discipline.” To be a writer does not require 22 hours at a desk each day, but Steel is right that there are no miracles, either. If you want to be a writer, you have to write – however you do it. That much is inescapable.
— There’s an awesome social network startup called Minds, but you probably don’t know about it if you get your news from Facebook. That’s because the tech giant is essentially blocking links to Minds.com across the platform.
Minds.com has a very familiar functionality and feel to Facebook, except the philosophy behind the social network startup is in stark contrast to Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for his increasingly authoritarian conglomerate.
While Facebook reads your private messages and sells your conversations to large corporations, Minds encrypts them. While Facebook stifles free expression, Minds embraces it. While Facebook basically “steals” the content you create on the platform and sells ads around your posts, Minds rewards your activity with tokens that can be used to boost your posts so more people see them and will eventually be convertible to real currency. Where Facebook exploits your privacy, Minds protects it. Where Facebook has centralized the flow of information, Minds has deployed blockchain technology to ensure decentralization. Where Facebook has censored, banned, and deleted independent media, Minds is welcoming independent media with open arms.
As you can see, while the basic user experience on both platforms is very similar, the way each company values its users varies greatly. Perhaps this is why Facebook makes it nearly impossible for the news of Minds.com’s platform to be shared. This is what happens when you try to post or share a link to Minds on Facebook:
As many of our readers already know, Anti-Media was deplatformed from Facebook and Twitter back in October of last year. We’re now using Minds.com to share our articles instead, after having tried multiple other alternative platforms. You can join us on Minds by following this link.
Bill Ottman, the founder of Minds, was recently on Joe Rogan’s podcast to talk about his social network and the philosophy behind it, which you can view below:
While Minds isn’t going to look exactly like Facebook in terms of number of users, content, and groups right away, those of us who truly desire to use a social network that supports free speech need to start spending time on one in order for it to be successful. If you’re tired of what Facebook has become, give Minds.com a try and invite your friends — because a successful alternative platform isn’t going to appear out of nowhere, we have to help create and build it.
“Our citizens should know the urgent facts…but they don’t because our media serves imperial, not popular interests. They lie, deceive, connive and suppress what everyone needs to know, substituting managed news misinformation and rubbish for hard truths…”—Oliver Stone