Glenn Greenwald
Politics • Writing • Culture
SYSTEM UPDATE NEWSLETTER: NOV 27 - DEC 1
Weekly Newsletter
December 03, 2023
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We are pleased to send you a summary of the key stories we covered last week. These are written versions of the reporting and analysis we did on last week's episodes of SYSTEM UPDATE.

—Glenn Greenwald

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Listen to this Article: Reflecting New U.S. Control of TikTok's Censorship, Our Report Criticizing Zelensky Was Deleted

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How Do You Feel About Aaron Bushnell?

Aaron Bushnell engaged in an extreme act of protest—self-immolation—against the Israeli occupation of Gaza and the genocide of the Palestinian people.

Independent of your thoughts on his stance, how do you view this form of protest?

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Mass Famine in Gaza as 100 Die at Aid Convoy. Biden Reaffirms Israel Support. Oct. 7 Propaganda Collapses. PLUS: Bari Weiss & TIME Reveal Neocons’ New Self-Victimhood Narrative
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Good evening. It's Thursday, February 29th, which is Leap Day. 

 Tonight, a mountain of new data proves that a significant portion of the population of Gaza is now at immediate risk of dying of mass famine. One out of every six children in northern Gaza is classified as acute malnutrition and wasting, meaning their bodies have already entered the state of being emaciated. There are now proven reports of children actually dying, of starvation and dehydration, and as aid and hunger groups have been warning that this will happen for weeks, there are now all kinds of very strident warnings coming from aid organizations and nurses who are working in Gaza that they have never seen anything on the scale of a humanitarian disaster this extreme.  

There's no mystery, nor is there any reasonable debate about why this is happening. Israel's Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, vowed in the first week of the war back in October that Israel intended to impose a full blockade on Gaza. That would, in his words, mean, “no food, no water, no fuel, no electricity.” Well, there has been a minimal amount of humanitarian aid let into Gaza, after that, it is nowhere near close to giving the population of 2.2 million people any chance to survive. Israelis have been physically blocking the entrance of aid convoys for weeks. A scene of extreme desperation unfolded before the world's eyes earlier today, as hungry and desperate Gazans swarmed aid trucks carrying food and other humanitarian necessities. Moments later, dozens were dead and hundreds were seriously injured. While there are conflicting accounts about how many of them actually died and how they died, either through a stampede or by opening fire from the Israeli Defense Forces, some facts are agreed to by both sides, as the New York Times summarized: “Israeli forces opened fire while a crowd was gathered on Thursday near a convoy of trucks carrying desperately needed aid to Gaza City, part of a chaotic scene in which scores of people were killed and injured, according to Gazan health officials and the Israeli military." (February 29, 2024)

Whatever your views are on Israel or on the wisdom of Biden's policy of supporting and arming the Israelis without conditions, we are witnessing mass famine of the kind that is rarely seen in the modern world. That is just a fact. On top of that, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin testified in Congress today where he said that 25,000 Gazan women and children have been killed by Israel since October 7. That's 25,000 women and children killed in and in Gaza. 

Even if you want to assume that every adult male who was killed was a Hamas operative—and that's obviously an absurd assumption—that would still mean that roughly 80% of those Palestinians killed in Gaza by airstrikes and the Israeli ground invasion since October 7, 80% of those killed are innocent civilians. Roughly 70% of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza is permanently destroyed. And for those who believe it is important to note such things, Israel claims that the indiscriminate and widespread famine and killing now heading into its sixth full month—not between two militaries, but between one military that's among the most sophisticated in the world, backed by the world's largest and most powerful superpower in world history, the United States, against a basically defenseless population composed almost overwhelmingly of women and children—Israel argues that it is all justified by the October 7 attack, in which Hamas militants killed 700 Israeli civilians, and that is the number that they killed, 700. 

Meanwhile, the Biden administration remains absolutely steadfast in its support for Israel, repeatedly isolating our country on the world stage in order to block resolutions at the U.N., resolutions that are supported by most countries on the planet that call for a cease-fire. Biden, who has spent his career as one of Washington's most unyielding and vocal supporters of Israel, has vowed that the U.S. will continue to fund and arm Israel's military and its war without conditions until the very end. Biden remains adamant in his view, even though by all accounts, his own reelection in 2024 is threatened by growing anger over this policy among key Democratic voting blocs. On Tuesday, a campaign led by Arab Muslims and young voters in Michigan succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams. More than 100,000 Democratic Party voters went to the polls to vote “uncommitted” rather than for Joe Biden, as a signal of their willingness to abstain in November over Biden's support for this Israeli war. 

As all of this unfolds, the true extent of the war propaganda that sustains American support for this war is finally being revealed. Some of the most horrific stories that circulated in the weeks and months, even about what happened in Israel on October 7—things like 40 Israeli babies being beheaded, babies murdered by being baked in ovens, obviously recalling the Holocaust, babies cut out of their pregnant mother's wombs—have been affirmatively debunked. Those things did not happen. They've been proven as lies, as so often happens when we are fed stories designed to view the newest enemy as subhuman savages whose death we should not mourn but rather celebrate. 

The New York Times, in particular, faces a real and serious journalistic scandal surrounding its highly influential December 28 article that purported to confirm the use of mass rape by Hamas on October 7. Wars are so horrific, and the attack on core humanity so severe, that governments know that the only way their populations will tolerate them for as long as those governments want, is that people become convinced that the targets of the war are people who deserve suffering, largely because they are something less than human: hey're subhuman, or savages, or so singularly primitive that not only them but their children and culture and population deserve to be destroyed. All war propaganda at its core is designed to provoke that belief in us and a lot of that propaganda typically ends up being debunked as the war proceeds. That is most definitely the case for a lot of the propaganda surrounding October 7. 

Then: speaking of war propaganda, there were two major journalistic events this week in the U.S. designed to fortify a narrative that we've been covering from the start, namely, that American Jews, once safe in the United States, are now a uniquely endangered and vulnerable victim group. Time Magazine, which is now owned by a fanatical supporter of Israel who is a billionaire, published an article by Harvard law professor and longtime Israel supporter, Noah Feldman, arguing that the United States is now subsumed in what it calls “the new antisemitism.” Meanwhile, another fanatical and very prominent, wealthy and influential Israel supporter, Bari Weiss, was invited to give a speech on the State of World Jewry at the 92nd Street Y, in Manhattan, just weeks after they canceled another scheduled speech by the Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen due to his criticism of Israel. In that speech, Weiss also announced a new victimhood narrative for American Jews, while also advocating the classic neocon worldview that demands that the United States either fight or finance multiple foreign wars, knowing that is a mentality that, of course, will lead to injustice by having the U.S. continue to finance and arm Israel's military and all of its wars. 

This mentality has become more dominant than ever, despite its self-victimizing claims that those who believe this are relegated to the dangerous fringes of society and somehow silence, yet we hear from them continuously and all in the most influential venues and because of how dominant this worldview has become, we think it is highly worth considering. We know this topic is polarizing and divisive to a lot of people, but there's just no question that the war in Gaza has become something unlike what we really have seen, certainly in the 21st century, and it's just not something it can be avoided because some people prefer that we do, or some people disagree with us on our perspective. We do our best to show you the truth, our sources for them, the documentation for it, in the hopes that you will evaluate it objectively regardless of your view, and then decide for yourself that, ultimately, it is our job not to tell you what you want to hear or to flatter all your views, but to cover the things that we think most need coverage.

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.

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Media Revives Russia Hysteria for 2024 Election. Is Self-Immolation Always Regarded as Immoral? PLUS: Germany: Still the Most Extremist Country in Europe
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Good evening. It's Tuesday, February 27

Tonight: In case you didn't get enough of Russiagate hysteria during the 2016 presidential campaign when Trump's alleged collusion with the Kremlin was the dominant storyline of the Clinton campaign's attack, and in case you still didn't get enough of it during the entire first Trump presidential term—when talk of pee-pee tapes and dossiers and Russian blackmail and Robert Mueller was the leading story in the United States for years —and in case you still weren't satiated by the tsunami of Russian talk leading up to the 2020 election, when Democrats and their allies in the CIA and corporate media actually succeeded in getting reporting about Joe Biden censored by Big Tech, by falsely labeling it “Russian disinformation,” don't worry, there's a lot more coming as we head into the 2024 election. 

Earlier this week, the grand dame of Washington media, NBC News and MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell, who is also a former wife of former Federal Reserve Chair Alan Greenspan, announced that the 51 former intelligence officials who warned of “Russian disinformation” in the lead up to the 2020 election, now feel “vindicated,” in her words, despite the fact that the claim they made that the Hunter Biden laptop was Russian disinformation is every bit as much of a lie now as it was then. Somehow they feel “vindicated.” That is because major media outlets are explicitly preparing to label everything they dislike in this election year, from criticisms of Joe Biden to questioning the war in Ukraine and everything in between as “Russian disinformation.” 

With apologies to one of the world's greatest animals, these media operatives are like a dog who finds a toy they love and then refuses to release it from its mouth no matter what. Since 2016, they have been attempting to regain control of American discourse and politics by calling everyone a “Kremlin agent” and all dissent “Russian disinformation.” Amazingly enough, despite how tired and stale it is, they are clearly preparing for this to be their primary tactic to prop up Joe Biden and ensure that he is reelected and that the glorious war in Ukraine continues eternally. They unveiled it this week and we will show you all of that. 

Then: on Sunday, a 25-year-old member of the United States Air Force, Aaron Bushnell, went to the Israeli embassy in Washington and set himself on fire while chanting pro-Palestinian slogans such as Free Palestine. In recordings and posts he left before doing so, Bushnell made very clear that he was engaging in this as an act of protest against U.S. support for Israel's destruction of Gaza. All of this led to a rather predictable form of discourse, with Israel supporters clearly understanding the danger to their cause of a U.S. service member sacrificing his own life in protest of U.S. support for Israel, insisting that the man was just mentally ill and that nothing about his act should be admired or celebrated, in fact, should be scorned and hated. But is it really possible to separate one's views of this act of self-immolation from one's view of the underlying cause and whose name it was done? One might think from this that anyone who engages in setting themselves on fire for a cause is always disparaged as mentally ill. But that is simply not true. The U.S. has a long history of venerating such acts and expressing admiration for people who do this provided the cause is right. So, is there anyone condemning this self-immolation now because they believe that the act is inherently immoral, or is it just cover for their opposition to the underlying cause of stopping Israel's destruction of Gaza? It's really worth taking a look at. 

Finally, Germany's history in the 20th century is rather shameful and horrific, to put that mildly. Few people will say this more loudly or eagerly than Germans themselves. Not only do they engage in extreme self-denunciation of their history and self-actualization as a people, but they also insist that they are now going to do everything possible to compensate for what they regard as their shameful past. Yet so often, this embarrassment about their own history results not in what you might think it should—humility or moderation or restraint—but instead in its opposite. Some of the most unhinged extremism on the planet emanates from German officials. Indeed, one could easily make the case that Germany is, despite all this history, or more accurately, because of it, still the most extremist nation in all of Europe. We will examine how and why. 

For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now. 

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Why Nikki Haley—After Destruction in Her Own State—Refuses to Leave the Race. CIA Use of Ukraine Shows Why US Prolongs the War. Hasan Piker Scandal & the Sickly Left-Liberal Streaming Culture
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Good evening. It's Monday, February 26. 

Tonight: Republican presidential candidate Nikki Haley suffered a deeply humiliating defeat over the weekend in her home state of South Carolina, the state where her political career was built when she served as its governor for six years. Despite massively outspending Donald Trump in that state—many millions in advertising for Haley to Trump's close-to-zero media buys—Haley was crushed by the former president by 20 points. Haley herself sought to create for herself an extremely low benchmark: to justify the continuation of my campaign, she said, she has to do at least better than the 17-point crushing defeat she suffered at Trump's hands in New Hampshire, where Independents and Democrats were encouraged to vote in the GOP primary against Trump. And yet, in her own home state, she could not even meet that absurdly low self-created expectation, as all polls show her trailing now from anywhere between 25 to 50 points in the 15 different Super Tuesday states, which will have their primaries and caucuses on March 5.

 Normally, when candidates depend almost entirely on large donors like Haley, the limitation on the campaign is that those donors stop fueling the campaign as soon as it is obvious that the campaign is futile. And some of that is happening in the network of the former Koch brothers. They announced yesterday, after Haley's crushing defeat, that they were suspending funding for her campaign. However, she has already collected so many millions of dollars from hedge funds, Wall Street tycoons and various arms of the U.S. National Security State that she remains awash in funding and a lot of people continue to express eagerness to fund her campaign, despite the chances being extremely low, close to zero, that she could win the nomination. 

She and her funders understand, as well as anyone else, how badly she is losing, so why is she continuing, and why are they so willing to pour their money into a campaign that has almost no chance, basically no chance, of culminating in the Republican nomination? There are reasons why, and we will examine those.

Then: the U.S.-funded war in Ukraine is now more than two years old. From the start—from the very first week of the Biden administration's vow in February 2022 to arm and finance Ukraine—we have repeatedly asked the same question over and over: in what conceivable way is it in the interest of the United States, and especially the lives of American citizens, for the U.S. government to fund and arm a war all to determine who will rule various provinces in eastern Ukraine, a country that even Barack Obama, as recently as 2016, said was not a vital interest of the U.S. At least in theory, this should always be the first question asked of any proposed U.S. policy, namely, how will it benefit or secure or improve the lives of American citizens? There was never, and still, there is not any coherent answer to that question. 

Over the weekend, however, we did receive a glimpse into one reason why U.S. elites in Washington might consider this war in Ukraine so necessary to them. According to The New York Times, the Central Intelligence Agency has been using Ukraine for more than a decade as a vital American base for gathering intelligence and spying on Russia. 

It seems clear at this point, especially in an election year, that the New York Times would never publish what it refers to as “highly sensitive secrets” about the CIA or especially the war in Ukraine unless the CIA wanted that paper to tell us this, perhaps as a reason to convince various sectors of the American population that have come to doubt the wisdom of further financing the war, as to why they should do so. Oh, it's a crucial country for the CIA to spy on Russia. Yet it doesn't seem like any of this has helped, which is why there's this desperate propaganda now about Ukrainian soldiers on the front line desperately scrolling their phones to see if they're getting money. We will examine all of the implications of this revelation, but for the moment, no doubt, constantly and unfailingly really, the establishment wings of both parties and establishment liberalism in the allied states align so perfectly with the agenda and the ideology of the CIA. The CIA's primary cause has been this war in Ukraine, for reasons we're now starting to understand better. And that, too, is the top agenda item of the Democratic Party and the establishment of the Republican Party. 

Then, finally, last week we covered a scandal embroiling one of the three leading left-liberal streamers, his name is Vouch. That's at least his online name. His scandal took place when he accidentally revealed his downloaded porn file that included animated images of child pornography. We weren't much interested in the substance of the scandal, but it arguably matters, since he's been organizing with leading Democrats in Washington sent to Congressman Ro Connor, and so, obviously, a child porn scandal affects the Democratic Party that way. But we left the tawdry details to others. We did, however, invite a young online leftist, Gavin Charles of The Vanguard to discuss how sick and mentally decadent is this world of political left liberal streamers. People who look like Hasan Piker and Destiny beyond Vouch spend literally 8 to 10 hours or even 12 hours every single day, streaming live consecutively online, just online, 10 to 12 hours a day, creating a whole community of people whose identity and purpose in life becomes entirely parasocial, namely, devotion to these online communities and especially to the leaders of these online communities who become extremely wealthy by serving as a sort of creepy father figure to their audience. 

Just this week, Jason Piker, who got his start in political streaming as a result of working for his uncle, the founder of The Young Turks, Cenk Uygur, inspired a fair amount of rage, including on the left, by suggesting that his “job,” which is earning millions upon millions of dollars a year by sitting in front of a camera and talking about politics in his life with no boss telling him what to do, is somehow a job that's more difficult and burdensome, at least in some respects, than people who work at ordinary jobs involving low hourly wages and manual labor and levels and levels and layers of bosses. 

Piker is a self-identified socialist, even a communist. So, the idea that a person who brands himself very lucratively as a left-wing radical, earns many millions of dollars a year and lives in a gigantic mansion in LA and flies on a private jet and so obviously eagerly lives the lavish life of an online celebrity that he would of all people suggest that his job is harder, at least in some respects, than, say, plumbers or fast food workers, generated a lot of resentment—obviously. But on some certain level, I have to say, I think Hassan Piker was right when he described what he does as “soul destroying.” All kinds of data continue to show in a very convincing and yet alarming way that both the millennial and the Gen Z generations are plagued with a kind of mental illness and spiritual sickness at a rate far higher than any previous generation, and their complete dependency on online identities, when used as a replacement for real-life purpose and connection, is, according to the data, clearly a major reason for this mental and spiritual sickness. 

So, in some respects, Piker's plea for help that streaming 10 hours or 12 hours a day for a parasocial audience on whom you depend for your happiness destroys your soul is precisely the point we were trying to raise last week when covering the other scandal rocking this world of liberal online streamers. And that's because online addiction is corrosive in so many ways and left-liberal political streaming communities, which are increasingly where a lot of people go to get their politics, but not just their politics, but their sense of purpose and identity in life, are the ultimate expression of this sort of sickness. So, we'll look at this latest episode, from that perspective, which I think merits a lot more attention than it gets.

 For now, welcome to a new episode of System Update, starting right now.

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