Before the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991 and Russia established a capitalist government that was headed by President Boris Yeltsin and later, President Vladimir Putin, it was infamous for Orwellian language: government-owned media reported what the Soviet Communist Party told them to report. Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was among those who grew up in the Soviet Union, and in a December 5 op-ed for CNN’s website, he finds some Orwellian parallels between the old Soviet Union and the Trump Administration.
Now 56, Kasparov points out that in the Soviet Union, “reality” was “whatever” the Soviet Communist Party “put out on the nightly news.” Kasparov notes that the Soviet Union’s official government newspapers were Pravda and Izvestia; in Russian, “pravda” is the word for “truth,” while “izvestia” means “news.” And Kasparov recalls that in the Soviet Union, a common joke was that “there is no news in the truth and no truth in the news.”
“I’m a post-Soviet citizen,” Kasparov explains. “The country of my birth ceased to exist in 1991. We enjoyed less than a decade of tenuous freedom in Russia before Vladimir Putin launched its post-democratic phase. My ongoing attempts to fight that tragedy led to my exile in the United States. Now, my new home finds itself locked in its own perilous battle: a battle to avoid becoming the latest member of the post-truth world.”
Kasparov goes on to explain why Trump’s presidency reminds him so much of the Soviet Union.
“Unable to change the facts, Trump and his supporters instead try to shift the debate into an alternate universe where the truth is whatever they say it is today,” Kasparov observes. “Trump repeats the same lies over and over, and it’s hard to say which is more troubling: that his followers don’t realize that they are lies or that they don’t care. Globalization and the internet may have made the world smaller, but now, we’re experiencing a counterattack: the regionalization of truth.”
Kasparov observes that in 2019, Americans have a lot more media options than he had growing up in the Soviet Union; the problem is that Trump supporters only consume media that carries his water — Fox News, for example.
“If you watched the impeachment hearings only on Fox News, you would have thought things were going great for the president,” Kasparov notes. “Any phrase that might sound like it exonerated him — and there weren’t many — was repeated over and over like a mantra. The copious and damning evidence provided may as well not have existed.”
Kasparov wraps up his op-ed on a sobering note, explaining that whether it’s pro-Putin media in Putin’s Russia or pro-Trump media in the United States, niche media is quite effective when it comes to indoctrination.
“What’s the truth? In the era of regionalized facts, it depends on where you stand, what channel you’re watching — and what party you belong to,” Kasparov stresses. “But there cannot be a red state reality and a blue state reality any more than there should be one world map inside of Russia and a different one outside. Trump is finally facing the music, and that must begin with everyone facing the facts.”
‘Sealed off’: China isolates city of virus outbreak
The Chinese city at the heart of a deadly virus outbreak is under effective quarantine, with outward flights and trains suspended, subways halted and large public events cancelled as doctors in full-body protective suits treat patients.
The coronavirus has spread across China and beyond, with 17 people killed and more than 500 infected in an outbreak that started in Wuhan -- a central city of 11 million people described by state media as "the main battlefield" against the disease.
Most cases are in Wuhan, a major transport hub with a seafood market that has been identified as the epicentre of the epidemic. A few cases involving people who visited Wuhan have been found elsewhere in the United States and some Asian countries.
‘Schumer is the Devil!’ Screaming pro-Trump protester storms the Senate gallery before being seized by Capitol police
On Wednesday, during the second night of arguments in the impeachment trial, the Senate chamber was startled by a screaming protester — evidently opposed to removal of President Donald Trump — charging the gallery before being seized and thrown out by Capitol police.
The protester, who reportedly was shouting about abortion and calling on senators to dismiss the charges, was ordered ejected from the chamber by Chief Justice John Roberts. He continued to shout as he was being removed from the premises.
A protester just burst into the Senate gallery, Gallery 5, across chamber from the dais, yelling something like "Jesus Christ! They're trying to overturn the election!" Capitol Police instantly grabbed him and pulled him out to the hall. Yelling continued. #impeachmenttrial
Mitch McConnell just gave Democrats a huge gift — by publicly tainting any acquittal of Trump: columnist
It seems all but inevitable that the impeachment trial of President Donald Trump will end with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) mustering the votes to block conviction, no matter what the evidence says and no matter whether Democrats successfully bring in new witnesses and documents.
But McConnell has already handed a victory to Democrats in one key aspect, wrote columnist E. J. Dionne for the Washington Post. His handling of the trial has removed any possibility that impeachment will bolster the president's approval — and emboldened Democrats to take their case to the American people as hard as they can. Indeed, wrote Dionne, Democrats "owe a debt" to McConnell.