TDB Top 5 International Stories: Saturday 18th March 2017

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5: Why the Right Is Dominating YouTube
4: Pentagon Denies Bombing Syrian Mosque, But Its Own Photo May Prove That It Did
3: Donald Trump and Angela Merkel in key White House talks
2: Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney Insists Cutting Meals for Poor Seniors is Compassionate
1: Trump stands by unsubstantiated claim that British intelligence spied on him

5: Why the Right Is Dominating YouTube

“Twitter is a tiny echo chamber. I’m not sure the left understand the monumental ass-whupping being dished out to them on YouTube.”

Thus reads a tweet posted this Tuesday by InfoWars editor Paul Joseph Watson, who you may remember best as the right-wing vlogger who inadvertently promised every journalist in the world a free holiday to Sweden.

As with most things PJW does nowadays, the tweet was immediately and widely mocked. But however fun mocking Watson might be, there was a curious hollowness to the whole affair. Because on this issue – breaking the habit of a lifetime – Paul Joseph Watson is right.

PJW’s tweet offers a sketch of the social media terrain that seems spot-on. Twitter isn’t wholly dominated by the left, but – Donald Trump and anyone with an egg avatar aside – left-wing views are certainly better-represented there than on any other major social network. However, left-wing Twitter has failed to translate into real-world influence. Twitter conversations aren’t very accessible to outsiders. The “echo chamber” trope is lazy and inaccurate – I’ve personally learnt a huge amount from people on Twitter, and often this has led to my political views changing as well. Nevertheless, Twitter lends itself best to the refinement of people’s views in conversation with people they already share some sympathy with. It’s an effective tool for dragging young Labour voters further left, perhaps, but not turning Trump voters into Black Lives Matter activists.

On YouTube, by contrast, left-wing voices are seemingly non-existent – apart from that communist child – while right-wing voices dominate. PJW himself is one, standing in front of his little world map shouting at the internet from his room; his mentor Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist who likes to whip himself up into a frenzy by thinking about secret documents, is another. But it’s not just InfoWars – there is a whole ecosystem of right-wing YouTubers out there at least as sophisticated as the society of woodlice you might find scurrying under a loose paving slab, a vast horde of unloved grown-up boys droning on and on about why we need to halt immigration; why we need to ban toilets; why we need to kill all girl-children at birth.

Vice News

4: Pentagon Denies Bombing Syrian Mosque, But Its Own Photo May Prove That It Did

THE PENTAGON SPOKESPERSON insisted that the U.S. airstrike in the rebel-held village of Al-Jina in northern Syria on Thursday night did not hit a mosque. “The area was extensively surveilled prior to the strike in order to minimize civilian casualties,” Navy Captain Jeff Davis wrote in an email. “We deliberately did not target the mosque.”

He even unclassified and circulated a photo. And he pointed out that on the left, you can see a small mosque, still standing.

The Intercept

3: Donald Trump and Angela Merkel in key White House talks

US President Donald Trump has welcomed German Chancellor Angela Merkel in the White House for the first face-to-face meeting between two leaders known for holding opposing views on a host of issues.

Items on the agenda for Friday’s meeting included the fight against ISIL, strengthening the NATO alliance and resolving Ukraine’s conflict with Russia.

At the start of her remarks in a joint press conference, Merkel said it was “much better to talk to one another and not about one another”.

Aljazeera

2: Trump’s Budget Director Mick Mulvaney Insists Cutting Meals for Poor Seniors is Compassionate

President Trump has unveiled his 2018 budget proposal to Congress, which calls for an unprecedented $54 billion increase in military spending while slashing environmental, housing, diplomatic and educational programs, and calling for the outright elimination of 19 agencies. The budget would also cut spending for the State Department and USAID by 28 percent, and slash billions of dollars in funding for the United Nations. The Office of Management and Budget director describes Trump’s proposal as an America First budget, even though numerous programs to help the poor are on the chopping block, including the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps the poor pay for heat during the winter, the Legal Services Corporation, which funds free legal aid nationwide, and the Community Development Block Grant program, which partially funds Meals on Wheels to feed the elderly, poor, veterans and disabled. When asked about the cuts, OMB head Mick Mulvaney said they were “about as compassionate as you can get.”

Democracy Now

1: Trump stands by unsubstantiated claim that British intelligence spied on him

Donald Trump refused to back down on Friday in the face of British outrage at White House press secretary Sean Spicer’s decision to repeat an unsubstantiated claim that British intelligence had spied on the president.

Asked about the claim during a joint press conference with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, Trump said Spicer had only been quoting “a talented lawyer” who had been speaking on Fox News. “We said nothing,” argued Trump. “All we did was quote a certain very talented legal mind who was the one responsible for saying that on television.”

The Guardian 

 

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