Doves flew into the sky and traditional dancers performed at huge rallies in the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh on Saturday, as the ruling party of long-serving Prime Minister Hun Sen launched campaigning for general elections on July 29.
I’ve been noticing videos going viral the last few days, some with millions of views, about Muslim women bravely fighting to free themselves from oppression in the Middle East. The videos, curiously, are being shared enthusiastically by many Republicans and pro-Israel hawks, who aren’t traditionally the sort of crowd you see rallying to support the civil rights of Muslims. What’s up with that?
Well, you may want to sit down for this shocker, but it turns out that they happen to be women from a nation that the US war machine is currently escalating operations against. They are Iranian.
Whenever you see the sudden emergence of an attractive media campaign that is sympathetic to the plight of civilians in a resource-rich nation unaligned with the western empire, you are seeing propaganda. When that nation is surrounded by other nations with similar human rights transgressions and yet those transgressions are ignored by that same media campaign, you are most certainly seeing propaganda. When that nation just so happens to already be the target of starvation sanctions and escalated covert CIA ops, you can bet the farm that you are seeing propaganda.
Back in December a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how then-Secretary of State, DC neophyte Rex Tillerson, was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports:
The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the U.S. should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.
“Allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,” argued the memo, written by Tillerson’s influential policy aide, Brian Hook.
The propaganda machine doesn’t operate any differently from the State Department, since they serve the same establishment. US ally Saudi Arabia is celebrated by the mass media for “liberal reform” in allowing women to drive despite hard evidence that those “reforms” are barely surface-level cosmetics to present a pretty face to the western world, but Iranian women, who have been able to drive for years, are painted as uniquely oppressed. Iran is condemned by establishment war whores for the flaws in its democratic process, while Saudi Arabia, an actual monarchy, goes completely unscrutinized.
This is because the US-centralized power establishment, which has never at any point in its history cared about human rights, plans on effecting regime change in Iran by any means necessary. Should those means necessitate a potentially controversial degree of direct military engagement, the empire needs to make sure it retains control of the narrative.
Women in Iran are recording the abuse they suffer at the hands of men for not wearing religious clothing. May the good people of Iran free themselves from the shackles of the tyrannical mullah theocracy. pic.twitter.com/QWcPI5wylR
— Julie Lenarz (@MsJulieLenarz) July 4, 2018
This is what war propaganda looks like in the era of social media. It will never look ugly. It will never directly show you its real intentions. If it did, it wouldn’t work. It can’t just come right out and say “Hey we need to do horrible, evil things to the people in this country on the other side of the world in your name using your resources, please play along without making a fuss.” It will necessarily look fresh and fun and rebellious. It will look appealing. It will look sexy.
And it’s working. I am currently getting tagged in these videos multiple times a day by Trump supporters who are eager to show me proof that I’m on the wrong side of the Iran issue; the psyop is so well-lubricated with a combination of sleek presentation and confirmation bias that it slides right past their skepticism and becomes accepted as fact, even the one with the Now This pussyhat propaganda logo in the corner.
Be less trusting of these monsters, please. The people of Afghanistan haven’t benefitted from the interminable military quagmire that has cost tens of thousands of their lives. The invaders of Iraq were never “greeted as liberators” by an oppressed population. The humanitarian intervention in Libya left a humanitarian catastrophe in its wake far more horrific than anything it claimed to be trying to prevent. Saving the children of Syria with western interventionism has left half a million Syrians dead.
If the Iranians do in fact wish to change their government, it should happen without crippling sanctions, collaboration with extremist terror cults, or the rapey tentacles of the CIA manipulating the situation. There has never been a US-led regime change in the Middle East that wasn’t disastrous. People should be screaming at the US and its allies to cease these interventions, not applauding propaganda that is clearly being manufactured by that same empire.
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As we saw with Friday’s jobs report, the booming US economy has continued to draw in workers from “the sidelines” – ie people who weren’t actively looking for work and were considered to be “out” of the workforce – as the participation rate has ticked higher in recent months (though it remains well below its pre-crisis levels). Still, economists have been largely unable to explain how wages have remained stagnant in a supposedly “tight” labor market. But a recent story in the Washington Post might hold a few clues…
According to Census data analyzed by WaPo, the number of Americans aged 85 and older who are still working has risen to record highs in recent years.
Meanwhile, the number of workers between the ages of 18 and 30 who are out of the workforce hasn’t been this high since the 1970s, before large numbers of women entered the workforce.
At last count, there were 255,000 Americans aged 85 and older who had been working or looking for work in the past 12 months. That’s approximately 4.4% of Americans that age – up from 2.6% in 2006. Indeed, it appears Ruth Bader Ginsburg (85) and Warren Buffett (87) are not alone.
Overall, 255,000 Americans, 85-years-old and over, were working over the past 12 months. That’s 4.4 percent of Americans that age, up from 2.6 percent in 2006, before the recession. It’s the highest number on record.
They’re doing all sorts of jobs – crossing guards, farmers and ranchers, even truckers, as my colleague Heather Long revealed in a front-page story last week. Indeed, there are between 1,000 and 3,000 U.S. truckers age 85 or older, based on 2016 Census Bureau figures. Their ranks have roughly doubled since the Great Recession.
America’s aging workforce has defined the post-Great Recession labor market. Baby boomers and their parents are working longer as life expectancies grow, retirement plans shrink, education levels rise and work becomes less physically demanding. Labor Department figures show that at every year of age above 55, U.S. residents are working or looking for work at the highest rates on record.
The oldest workers in the workforce, many of whom have been forced out of retirement for financial reasons, have clustered in 26 of the 455 occupations tracked by the Census Bureau data.
As one might expect, these are industries like sales or management, which don’t require physically demanding labor. Farmers and ranchers has perhaps the largest percentage of elderly workers compared with younger ones, according to WaPo.
Crossing guards are relatively likely to be age 85 or above. The same goes for musicians, anyone who works in a funeral home, and product demonstrators like those you might find at a warehouse club store.
But that chart only tells half the story. Few people of any age get the opportunity to work as crossing guards, funeral directors or musicians. So, while they may be elder-friendly jobs, they’re not the top jobs for older people.
By sheer numbers, the top job among the 85-plus-year-olds is farmers and ranchers. It’s also the one in which the distribution of older workers is most different from the distribution of the rest of the population. That category, which is distinct from farm laborers, houses 3.5 percent of the oldest workers – but just 0.5 percent of the rest of the population.
Generational shifts drive much of the split. When today’s oldest workers were entering the labor force, farmers and ranchers had far more options than computer scientists did, and that’s shaped their professional choices today, seven decades down the line.
Perhaps the bizarre phenomenon that older workers are entering the workforce at levels never seen before, while a growing number of young people have been sidelined from the workforce for whatever reason (be it because of drugs, illness or simply because they don’t want to work), has something to do with the fact that wages are stagnant. According to WaPo, at every age above 55, US residents are working or looking for work at the highest rates on record. Workers who are coming out of retirement, or just trying to hang on in the face of ageism in the workforce, aren’t exactly in the best position to negotiate for higher wages.