Jun 232018
 June 23, 2018  Posted by at 1:07 pm Finance Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

René Magritte Le Mal du Pays (Homesickness) 1940


The two most viral photographs of the ‘Trump Separation Scandal’ have now been debunked, or at the very least been proven to have been used ‘out of context’. This is a dangerous development, as are the reasons to use them the way they have been. Both pictures are of children who had not been separated from their mothers at all. But both were used to depict just that: a child being taken away from its mother.

What’s dangerous about this is, first, that those who spread the narrative regardless of the truth may next permit themselves to use images from entirely different locations or times to make their point. Yes, children have been taken from parents at US borders. And attention for that is warranted, very much so. But playing loose with the facts turns those facts into a mere narrative in which nobody can tell fact from fiction anymore.

First, a week ago already, I saw this on RT:


Debunked: Viral Image Of Crying, Caged Toddler ‘Detained By ICE’ Not What It Seems

A distressing image of a crying toddler locked in a barred cage after purportedly being detained by US immigration officials has gone viral – but despite online claims, it does not actually depict what has been alleged. The image, which shows a little boy crying in a cage as he looks out between its bars, was shared by activist journalist and undocumented migrant Jose Antonio Vargas as a comment on the Trump administration’s immigration crackdown on families.

In the same thread, Vargas admitted that he came across the photo on a friend’s timeline and was still looking for the original source. Nevertheless, the snap quickly went viral with Vargas’ post garnering more than 23,000 retweets and many others sharing the image across their own social media accounts.


Vargas explained that he shared the photo because when he was detained by ICE in McAllen, Texas in 2014, he encountered children who were locked up there. “It wasn’t okay then; it’s not okay now,” he wrote, adding that he’s been outraged about the incident for years.

It has since emerged that the picture was in fact not from a detention facility at all, and instead was taken at a protest against Trump’s immigration policies held on June 10 outside Dallas City Hall. The demonstration organized by Brown Berets de Cemanahuac was held to call out the policy of family separation and confining undocumented children.

Ergo: an activist journalist and undocumented immigrant makes it look as if a picture depicts something that in reality it did not. Note also that the article says he wanted to comment on the Trump immigration crackdown, because he has memories of the Obama immigration crackdown, when he saw children locked up. But then, hey, that’s social media, right? Anyone can say anything.

It’s different, though, when TIME Magazine uses such politics. And its editor-in-chief defends the use of the picture by saying it was the most visible symbol of something, even though he knew full well that the photo didn’t depict that something. That’s a mighty slippery scale. If they could have achieved the same effect with a picture of a overripe banana taken in the Pacific in the 1950’s, they probably would have used it. It’s the effect that counts, not the facts.


Fact-Check: Was Migrant Girl On US Border Taken From Mother? Unfounded

Two photos that went viral on social media depict scenes that are not directly related to the family separations taking place on the US-Mexico border since early May. The most prominent, of Honduran two-year-old Yanela Varela crying inconsolably, has become a global symbol of the separations – helping to attract more than $18 million in donations for a Texas non-profit called RAICES. The photograph was taken on June 12 in McAllen, Texas by John Moore, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for Getty Images.


An online article about the picture, published by Time Magazine, initially reported the girl was taken from her mother, but was subsequently corrected to make clear that: “The girl was not carried away screaming by US Border Patrol agents; her mother picked her up and the two were taken away together.” Time Magazine nonetheless used the image of the sobbing child on its cover, next to an image of President Trump looming over her, with the caption “Welcome to America”. The head of Honduras’ Migrant Protection Office Lisa Medrano confirmed to AFP that the little girl, just two years old, “was not separated” from her family.

The child’s father also said as much. Denis Varela told the Washington Post that his wife Sandra Sanchez, 32, had not been separated from their daughter, and that both were being detained together in an immigration center in McAllen. Under fire for its cover – which was widely decried as misleading including by the White House – the magazine said it was standing by its decision. “The June 12 photograph of the 2-year-old Honduran girl became the most visible symbol of the ongoing immigration debate in America for a reason,” Time’s editor-in-chief Edward Felsenthal said.


Nassim Nicolas Taleb, of black swans and Fragility, has found the appropriate term for this ‘phenomenon’, and explains why it works so well that TIME apparently doesn’t care about the damage to its reputation caused by using photographs for such purposes.


Pedophrasty, Bigoteering, and Other Modern Scams

Pedophrasty Definition: Argument involving children to prop up a rationalization and make the opponent look like an asshole, as people are defenseless and suspend all skepticism in front of suffering children: nobody has the heart to question the authenticity or source of the reporting. Often done with the aid of pictures. [..] Pedophrasty is effective as it provides arguments to strike before the evidence is formed. People are moved into “doing something” Pedophrasts prey on our maternal (and paternal) instincts.

Pedophrasty has its most effects on actors, journalists and similar types who are intellectually insecure, deprived of critical judgment, and afraid of being classified as violators of some norm of political correctness. For instance, pedophrasty has been commonly used in the Syrian war by such propagandists as Julian Roepke continuously supplying the German public with pictures of dead children. Or the various lobbies hired by Saudi Barbaria (and allies), such as the Middle East Institute in Washington DC, to promote Sunni Islamist policies under the cover of “think tanks”.

The Nayirah testimony: a false congressional testimony by 15-year-old girl who provided only her first name, Nayirah (she turned out to be the daughter of the Kuwaiti ambassador to the U.S.) was a bit responsible into tipping the US into the war. Nayirah claimed that she had witnessed Iraqi soldiers take babies out of incubators a Kuwaiti hospital, and leave the babies to die. Nobody dared to question the veracity of her claims.

That’s what is dangerous: seeing a photo of a child in distress makes people halt their critical thinking. That’s also why such photos are used. They help build a narrative that doesn’t have to be factual to shock people. But at that point TIME becomes a fiction magazine; it’s where it leaves journalism behind.

The narrative also depends to a large extent on the singularity of Trump’s brutality compared to other presidents and nations’ leaders. It seeks to single him out as being extremely cruel. That narrative will fall to pieces going forward, and not only because the stories behind the photos have now been exposed.

First, here’s a look at what happened under earlier US presidents, in this case Obama, published by the ACLU in May 2018:


ACLU Obtains Documents Showing Widespread Abuse Of Child Immigrants In US Custody

Documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union featured in a new report released today show the pervasive abuse and neglect of unaccompanied immigrant children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The report was produced in conjunction with the International Human Rights Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School.

“These documents provide a glimpse into a federal immigration enforcement system marked by brutality and lawlessness,” said Mitra Ebadolahi, ACLU Border Litigation Project staff attorney. “All human beings deserve to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of their immigration status — and children, in particular, deserve special protection. The misconduct demonstrated in these records is breathtaking, as is the government’s complete failure to hold officials who abuse their power accountable. The abuse that takes place by government officials is reprehensible and un-American.”

The report is based on over 30,000 pages of documents dated between 2009 and 2014.

Then, what other ‘leaders’, who express their ‘disgust’ and worries at the Trump separation policies do at home. The Guardian yesterday:


Theresa May’s Brutal Family Separations Would Make Trump Blush

[..] as a British citizen I cannot, in good faith, reassure myself with that time-old mantra that we are somehow more civilised and less cruel or brutal than our cousins across the pond. Nor do I think that condemnation from our government can carry any real currency. Since long before anybody had heard the words “Make America great again”, splitting up families has been official policy in Theresa May’s Home Office – and it has been carried out with a brutality and on a scale that would make even President Trump blush.

The Children’s Commissioner has found that at least 15,000 children growing up in the UK live without a parent because the right of British citizens to reunite with a foreign spouse is limited by an unreasonable income threshold, an impossible complicated application system fraught with Home Office errors, and no legal aid for families to challenge incorrect decisions.

And the Sydney Morning Herald from December 2017:


Australia Is Wilfully Damaging The Health Of Children On Nauru To Make A Point – And It Is Appalling

When we visited Nauru as paediatric specialists three years ago, we were asked to see 30 of the 100 children being detained on the island. Among them was a six-year-old girl who had tried to kill herself and a two-year-old boy with such severe behaviour problems a doctor had prescribed anti-psychotic medicines. Their parents were in despair. They had fled persecution, trying to save their children from harm, but had ended up imprisoned on a remote island, without hope.

We left with the view that these were the most traumatised children we had ever consulted on, far worse than children we had seen in Australia, Africa, Asia or Europe. Three years later, 43 of those children remain on the island. Officially they are now free to move around, but reports of attacks by locals show Nauru is not safe and so they remain in the “Regional Processing Centre”.

In 2014, the Australian Human Rights Commission reported that children at this centre were deeply traumatised psychologically, and had even been abused. Their detention was harming them. When Australia introduced mandatory detention in 1992, it took 10 weeks on average to process an application for refugee status. Now it takes years. As the numbers of children in detention fall, the length of time in detention rises. This is deliberate: wilfully damaging children’s health to deter others from seeking asylum.

See, what TIME Magazine and others do, using pictures of crying children regardless of their actual context, may make for an initially appealing narrative, but in the end their approach only distracts from what really matters. Which is that children need to be with their mothers (and preferably fathers).

Just reporting the facts on this is not only enough, it’s the only way to report on it. Once you start making up stuff, you’re done, and the truth is done.

US immigration laws are clearly not working; so change them. ICE is a terrible organization that has attracted far too many sociopaths. Close it down. Child abuse as a tool to instill fear has been an international political tool for a very long time. Those are the things that should be making headlines. Turning this into yet another anti-Trump narrative, using crying children as shortcuts to people’s emotions, doesn’t work, or not for long.

This is not about Trump. Trying to make it about him is not going to help those children. And that’s what you want, right? Right?



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    René Magritte Le Mal du Pays (Homesickness) 1940   The two most viral photographs of the ‘Trump Separation Scandal’ have now been debunked, or at
    [See the full post at: Images of Children Crying]

    V. Arnold

    Monsters; we’ve become the person our mothers warned us about.
    It has been said photographs don’t lie; any who believe that are doomed to victimhood.
    Any who believe anything are already victims.
    Belief is a trap.
    My favorite alter-ego is Thayer Dowd:
    Everything you know is crap.
    Everything you think is crap.
    Everything you have been taught is crap.
    Everything you say is crap.
    And everything you believe is crap…
    Thayer Dowd

    V. Arnold

    I love the Magritte, by the way.
    It’s just so perfect…



    Reality is a photo shop reality!

    Reality another level of THE MATRIX!


    We keep reading stories about villagers in Africa bleeding themselves in order to amass the 2000/3000/5000 euros for smuggler networks to get one of them to Europe and then what? Have that guy rot in a banlieue on welfare? This is a path to happiness? This is absurd!

    The real solution to the immigration chaos is for these countries to get their act together. Japan did it a few decades ago. Taiwan, that used to be an agrarian society not really different from Vietnam, followed, along with Korea. China is joining them. THAT is the solution to the migrant crisis. Each country, each society taking care of its own. But this is not something that developed countries can do for them; it is up to each to find whatever inner resources, ingenuity, work, history, models and forge its own path to development. This is way harder and takes more time, but is also incredibly more rewarding and a source of pride than giving up and just sending all their populations to march to Europe or North America for the already overstretched welfare system of these countries to take care of. Arguing that emptying Africa into Europe is the only solution to the ills of the world is absurd. It only makes for unhappy immigrants, incapable of getting jobs, idle, misfits, sullen and resentful of the country they moved to, gathering in dreadful ghettos of welfare and criminality which generates a miror hostility in the host country while depriving the immigrant countries of human resources they would need to get on the path to development. Lose-lose-lose. If developped countries need to slam their doors shut so immigrant countries have to face their own deficiencies, so be it. It is incredibly more productive for rich countries to help third-worlders in their country of origin than it is in the way more expensive Europe. But they have had to cut down on international aid because they are now burdened with hundreds of thousands of migrants to lodge and feed at home.


    Do you believe that our social/economic systems are humanitarian?


    Humanitarianism is an active belief in the value of human life, whereby humans practice benevolent treatment and provide assistance to other humans, in order to better humanity for moral, altruistic and logical reasons. It is the philosophical belief in movement toward the improvement of the human race in a variety of areas, used to describe a wide number of activities relating specifically to human welfare. A practitioner is known as a humanitarian.

    Which is it?

    Do unto others before they do it to you
    Do unto others as you would have them do to you?


    Read about all this back in ‘84, so, no surprise.

    John Day

    Up-Periscope for a moment:
    War has been the traditional solution for ruling elites to maintain their power in times of economic upheaval. Our current local and global economies are “inseparably” connected in the current globalist financial structure. This structure excels at extracting value and reducing current market prices, at the expense of strip-mining all of the production centers, including their environments and people. The exponential growth of this system is fated to meet hard limits, but a little bit before it hits the hard limits, the exponential growth collapses, which makes the financial system collapse, since the growing exponent is the flat-baseline of the current global financial regime. That’s sort of a saving grace, really… It tried to happen in 2008.
    There will be a financial reset to a system that functions well without exponential growth. (Or we can just have chaos.) Ideally, it will be functional in wide fluctuations, since we can expect that. That’s what the world has had until the industrial revolution.
    China has the longest contiguous history of financial ups and downs, alternating between paper money in growth and gold during declines, each serving a phase of economic cycles. These can be decades and centuries long. China has now come out of a couple of centuries of slump, and is in a sharp rise, but aware of Chinese history, and prepared for a reversion to the gold standard.
    Russia has been through her reset, is economically and financially resilient, has lots of natural resources, including oil and gas that other countries need, the means to defend it, and pipelines to move it to markets.
    Among the big 3 powers, Russia has the most flexible and least vulnerable position, but way too small of an economy to dream of subduing China or the US/Western-empire. Russia is focusing her brilliance on diplomacy, being the deciding voice in any awkward stalemate in the world.
    Russia, China and the US, as “rational actors”, know that nuclear war is a threat to hold over the heads of their own populations, not a rational alternative.
    Expunging irrational actors, like the playground-bully neocons, is of primary importance. Then the real deals can be made to carve out spheres of influence, and cut back on wasteful military spending. It looks like negotiations regarding Korea are the start of that.
    The US affords military-financial-empire right now, because the global trade currency standard is still the $US. That will not persist, partly due to the decline of American industry, which it has created, as with prior empires. No national currency persists as global trade currency, as a quick review shows.
    We can expect is a return of basic industrial production in North America. This will be in the contexts of much lower wages and much lower total bureaucratic cost structure, or it won’t happen at all.
    That restructuring of productive economy must mean a cheapening of the upper layers of government, and a return of agency to less remote state and local governments, without any increase in revenues for state and local governments, just a decrease in Federal spending.
    Within that overall picture, basic services will still need to be provided, in ways that are least costly to the overall economy.
    Natural monopolies, owned and run by local, state and regional government include electricity, roads, waterways and railroads, water and wastewater, communications networks, regulatory agencies and enforcement, means of taxation, law enforcement, education and medical care. I’m sure I have left things out.
    The necessary losers here are the portion of the 5% who are not actually skilled contributors to economy, but who manipulate the legal-financial system to draw off skim. They have to get real jobs. They will be tremendously stressed, and many will not be able to perform useful work. They are the politically powerful contingent, screaming “No, No, No”! They are what “pulled us out” of the 2008 financial crisis, by promising lots of nice money to everybody, if they would all just cooperate.
    That nice money is promises of a cut of future wealth. Those promises are impossible, like our retirements.
    Who loses the most, and when?
    That deal may have been cut, but is not yet made public, or it may have to work itself out in very unpleasant ways, especially in the USA.


    Yes, the West is bombarded by corporate media propaganda. William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer lead America into the Spanish-American War. In this case, the agitprop is clearly a continuation of the coup against Donald Trump, promoting open borders and acerbating wedge politics. Women and children are fleeing Central America because life is impossible at home. Migration from Mexico has reversed. Unless repudiated, the forever wars, the destruction of rural America, austerity, and media mogul prodding will splinter the USA apart. There has been 30% increase in suicides in the USA this century. The only resolution is to take some of the hoarded wealth and make life livable again in America.

    Dr. D

    Excellent rundown JohnDay, of what will happen because it MUST happen. You can go with, or against, but no one is larger than history.

    Vet points towards something Martensen said: when things are bad, it’s good, because things won’t change without a reason, without enough stress to give up the old ways. This has a positive side because things are so screwed up and the 5% apparatchiks are taking so much that there’s plenty of gain for everyone if they change and most directions are better than here. Think of it as a corporation with bad management: since the corporation functions and sales are good, but only losing profits and can’t get anything done, any idiot with some common sense can fix it and make it profitable again. Easy-peasy. Sadly, that is also the hardest thing: to admit, address, discipline, and cut out the old ways.

    America is the land of lies, and you can just pretty much assume anything, anywhere, from the highest spycraft to the dog catcher’s report is Bullsh*t. Bullsh*t is different from lies in that with lies, you know the truth and are trying to hide it. Americans don’t do that. Bullsh*t is when you don’t know what the truth is and don’t care so long as it sounds good and gets stuff done. …Exactly the recent pictures, and the Times cover. Bullsh*t is kind of less troubling, it’s a good-time, well-meaning thing, but is sadly more dangerous, because the Bullsh*tter doesn’t even know what is real, and what’s worse, they don’t even care. This makes them psychotic and able to believe all opposing things simultaneously. They make fun of Americans not knowing geography, history, world politics, etc, but this is why. If they knew, as good people, they’d be responsible, so they make sure NOT to know, and the media makes sure to help them, good and hard.

    Since you’d never learn a single thing in our education system, or in the news however much you follow it, in college, in books, or from other people, how are you supposed to know you don’t know? How are you supposed to go look? One thing’s for sure, it’s the fault of the masses and not the 5%. They’re perfect people and never responsible for anything. I blame the poor for being ignorant, since it can’t be the rich stovepiping them Bulls*t through corporate buyouts, media, politicians, professors and economists, can it?


    https://projects.fivethirtyeight.com/trump-approval-ratings/Trump approval ratings compared to Presidents since FDR.

    Trump is a minority President by election and popularity. The Electoral College is one of the political engineering mechanisms to give the South power. The racial discrimination built into U.S. is forever a challenge. Other cultures and nations have their own ways of enslaving others.

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