Glenn Greenwald
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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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March 01, 2024
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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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WEDNESDAY, APRIL 10 - EPISODE 254

Elon Musk Goes to War with Brazil’s Censorship Regime. PLUS: 19 Republicans Defy Speaker Johnson to Kill Renewal of Domestic Spying Bill

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Internet Censorship in Brazil (15:52)

Spy Bill Rejected (44:09)

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Endless War and US Security State: W/ Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Davidson

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Endless War and US Security State: W/ Sen. Ron Johnson and Rep. Davidson
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Good evening. It's Thursday, April 11. Tonight, we speak to two members of Congress about a variety of issues involving the war in Ukraine, the war in Israel, the U.S. Security State, warrantless domestic spying and much more. 

The first is the Republican Senator from Wisconsin, Ron Johnson, who started back in 2022 supporting the idea of U.S. aid to Ukraine for its war with Russia but has since become one of the most vocal and stalwart opponents of sending more aid there. We'll talk about what motivated that change and his views of current U.S. foreign policy. 

Then we speak to Congressman Warren Davidson, the former Army Ranger who now represents Ohio's eighth congressional district, a job he has held ever since. His predecessor, former Republican House Speaker John Boehner, retired in 2016, where we spoke extensively not only about the evils of U.S. foreign policy but also his view on the vote that took place in the House yesterday that we reported on last night, show that blocked renewal of the FISA spying law without any meaningful protections, warrant requirements or reforms. 

As I've been arguing for some time, one of the most significant and one of the most overlooked developments in U.S. politics, especially when it comes to foreign policy and civil liberties, is the radical realignment among left and right, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans when it comes to who supports the military-industrial complex in the United States and who does not, who supports the U.S. posture of endless war and who does not, who support vesting vast and unaccountable powers in the hands of the U.S. security state, and who does not. Both of our guests tonight are in many ways highly illustrative of this realignment. Senator Johnson, for instance, is not just an opponent now of the U.S. role in the war in Ukraine, but also a thoughtful critic of imperialistic American foreign policy over the last several decades, which he insists Washington needs to study much more to understand its foundational mistakes. Meanwhile, Congressman Davidson has become one of the most scathing opponents of what he calls the neocon consensus in Washington. In some ways, his foreign policy critique of American wars and militarism could almost be called “Chomskyesk” and, notably, it's almost impossible to hear similarly fundamental principled critiques of U.S. foreign policy, the military-industrial complex and the U.S. security state from any Democratic member of Congress, it is almost impossible to note that this critique is, I should say, is not always applied with complete consistency. 

I asked each of these lawmakers why their arguments against funding the war in Ukraine, that we cannot afford to fund more foreign wars, that it brings no benefits to American citizens, that it jeopardizes our standing in the world and does not apply equally to our current policy of financing and arming Israel's war in Gaza, which most Republicans and most Democrats support. In other words, even if one sides more and empathizes more with Israel over the Palestinians, why shouldn't Israel pay for its own wars instead of having Americans pay for them? Both gave thoughtful answers, even if not fully convincing, and I appreciate how willing they were to reconsider and think about in the interview, their stances on those questions and how they might align or not align with their broader principles. 

Both of these interviews, I believe, are highly illustrative of the realignment I described and why these clear changes in the DC consensus are starting to become ever more promising. We recorded both interviews last night after our live program, and we are delighted to share them with you. 

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

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Elon Musk Goes to War with Brazil’s Censorship Regime. PLUS: 19 Republicans Defy Speaker Johnson to Kill Renewal of Domestic Spying Bill
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Good evening. It's Wednesday, April 10. 

Tonight: a virtual war has erupted between Elon Musk and X on one side, and virtually the entire Brazilian establishment and the Brazilian left with which they're united on the other. As we have been reporting for two years now, the censorship regime that has been imposed in Brazil—the world's fifth most populous country—all centralized in the hands of a single Supreme Court judge, is more extreme, more repressive, and more lawless than anywhere in the democratic world. And that's saying a lot given how much censorship has spread. That's just one indicator of how extreme the Brazilian censorship scheme is. 

This platform Rumble decided last year that they would rather block Brazilians from viewing its content, despite having built a large and growing Brazilian audience, rather than face massive fines and even criminal threats of prosecution for failure to comply with the avalanche of censorship orders they were receiving virtually daily. 

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That message is what people in Brazil now see when they try to access Rumble, a message saying Rumble is not available in the country because of censorship orders. Rumble announced that it would no longer serve as a weapon in the censorship regime and would block access for all Brazilians, at least for those who don't use VPNs, pending its judicial challenge of the censorship laws that it has now brought.

Last week, the independent journalist Michael Shellenberger, working with two separate Brazilian journalists, released the Brazilian part of the Twitter Files. It documented how internal Twitter lawyers in Brazil were growing increasingly alarmed at the politically motivated censorship orders from the court that they were being drowned with routinely, and they were worried about the consequences they might face from failure to comply. We interviewed Shellenberger last week about his reporting. He was in Brazil at the time, and he was interviewed by multiple media outlets in Brazil, usually in a very hostile manner, far more interested in attacking his character and methods than addressing the substance of his revelations. 

Elon Musk saw all of this—obviously, he pays attention to the Twitter Files—and responded to all of that over the weekend by launching a series of very vitriolic attacks on this one Supreme Court judge overseeing the censorship regime, calling him a tyrant and urging his impeachment. Musk also vowed that X would prefer to disobey unjust censorship orders and even leave Brazil than continue to be used as a weapon in service of this regime. The same decision that Rumble made concerning Brazil last year. That, in turn, provoked very aggressive threats from this judge. He declared Musk to be a target of a pending criminal investigation involving fake news and disinformation. He just inserted Musk into this pending criminal investigation as one of the targets of the criminal probe. He also ordered X employees in Brazil to be questioned by the federal police and explicitly threatened them in writing, with arrest and prosecution if X permitted any banned voices to return to the platform. All of this demonstrates the severity of the growing censorship regime, not only in Brazil but throughout the democratic world. Precisely because Brazil has been so extreme is why it's so relevant to Americans, because it's being used as a laboratory to see how far control over the Internet and online speech can go. Europe and the United States have embarked on their own online censorship regime. We have been reporting on that extensively to the point that it's now at the Supreme Court. What is being done in Brazil is a harbinger of what is coming to the West. We will report on everything that happened here and explore its quite significant implications. 

Then: Republican House Speaker Mike Johnson has long been a vocal and steadfast opponent of the U.S. Security State, generally in its attempts to censor the Internet and spy on Americans in particular. Shortly before becoming a speaker, we interviewed him on this show, and he was very clear about his views on these questions. Yet since being elected Speaker, Mike Johnson has seemingly changed his views in quite radical ways on many key issues. He was a longtime opponent of providing more U.S. aid to the war in Ukraine, yet now is working to ensure that Joe Biden's $60 billion request for Ukraine is approved in the House, even if that means relying on Democrats and Democratic protection to do so. Earlier today, Speaker Johnson tried to bring to the floor a vote to renew the domestic spying powers of the NSA and the FBI and to do so without allowing even a single reform, safeguard, or warrant requirement. In other words, Speaker Johnson worked hard to give the Biden White House and the U.S. Security State what they were demanding for renewal of their domestic spying powers and spying on Americans, which was originally enacted during the Bush administration in the name of the War on Terror, and to renew it without any reforms or protections at all. But Mike Johnson had a serious surprise today: his own caucus delivered a major and quite unusual defeat to the House Speaker, with 19 members defecting and preventing the speaker from bringing the bill to the floor. It is likely that some domestic spying bill will eventually pass, though it's not guaranteed and we'll explain what happened today in Congress that dealt a serious blow to the efforts suddenly led by Speaker Johnson, to hand the FBI all these spying powers they want without a single reform. We also will have various members of Congress on over the next week or so to talk about the war in Ukraine, to talk about the FISA law and related issues as well. 

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

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