Never Forgotten, Michael Hastings (January 28, 1980 – June 18, 2013)

In June it will be four years since the world lost one if its gutsiest muckraking reporters of his generation. A man who obeyed journalism’s key rule of questioning power. Of looking behind the curtain and reporting the emperor’s lack of clothes. In a world that celebrates Mika Brzezinski and Sean Hannity, Michael Hasting’s work was the medicine we needed. A man who told us what we were and not what we wanted to hear.

Hasting’s effectiveness lay in his ability to challenge the reader. He challenged our view of military power, the people who govern it, the role of whistleblowers and the role of transparency, the media and the way it covers election campaigns, to issues of love and loss. In his relatively short career, Michael Hastings broke convention and


To celebrate the work and life of Hastings, I have posted the following links so that interested parties can enjoy many of his seminal articles and works and learn more about him. Enjoy.

* * * Key Articles* * *

The Runaway General, Rolling Stone – June 22nd 2010

Hack: Confessions of a Presidential Campaign Reporter, GQ – September 20th 2008

King David’s War, Rolling Stone – February 2nd 2011

The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret, Rolling Stone – April 16th 2012

The Spy Who Cracked Up in the Cold, Rolling Stone – Rolling Stone – March 28, 2013

America’s Last Prisoner of War, Rolling Stone  – June 7th 2012

Incidentally, Matt Taibbi scathing defence of Hasting’s critics and is a must read (Lara Logan You Suck)

* * * Books * * *

— The Operators: The Wild and Terrifying Inside Story of America’s War in Afghanistan Noevember 2012

I Lost My Love in Baghdad: A Modern War Story February 2012

Panic 2012: The Sublime and Terrifying Inside Story of Obama’s Final Campaign (A BuzzFeed/Bl ue Rider Press Book)

* * * Video & Interviews * * *

  • Interview with Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!  1 Aug 2012
  • Interview on CBS 20 Jan 2012
  • Tribute from the progressive channel The Young Turks on news of Hasting’s death


*  *  *  *

Never Forgotten, Michael Hastings (January 28, 1980 – June 18, 2013)

The Rise & Threat Posed By Extreme Right Wing Parties In Europe

Factfromfiction notes: The last time I saw the work of BBC’s John Sweeney was his last documentary on Trump for Panorama called Trump: The Kremlin Candidate. In this latest piece for Newsnight, Sweeney explores the rise and threat posed by extreme right wing parties throughout Europe. Sweeney was, in part, made famous by his excellent expose of Scientology entitled Scientology and Me and his follow up special, The Secrets of Scientology. 

With the recent successes of extreme right wing groups, Brexit to Trump, Wilders to Marine Le Pen, it certainly seems like the tide in political power is certainly with the right. With matters such as climate change, policies on mobile populations (refugees, asylum seekers and unskilled and skilled migration), LGBTQ+ rights. foreign policy matters such as Iran and the two state solution, energy policies etc – countries throughout the western world never seem to have been so internally divided.

For many of us progressives, it is easy to be downbeat, the failure at present is certainly partly our fault in terms of our lack of ideas, ability to utterly compromise over principles and lack of mobilisations for demonstration. Yet now is time to learn from the past and never to swallow your voice.

For those interested in the subject and wanting to know more about the landscape of the rise of the populist right wing groups and how to counter them, please check out the following;

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  • The Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung is a political foundation affiliated with the German Green Party and promotes ecology, democracy, solidarity, and non-violence. In Dec 24, 2015 they published, Capacity Building – Conclusions and Recommendations “How to Counter Right Wing Populism and Extremism in Europe”  It is well worth a read and offers valuable insight.


  • The European Party published the following in which they seek to downplay the rise of the right with policy principles which are uncompromising. This was in part a bulk reference to the resolution adopted at the EGP Council, Berlin, 16-18 March 2007. Combating Right-wing Extremism throughout Europe.


  • Jonathan Pie on the success of Trump and failure of us on the left
  • Stewart Lee takes on the subject of the right wing UKIP and exposes the ridiculous illogical nature of their policies

Interview between The New Yorker’s editor David Remnick and Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith

Factfromfiction notes: Just finished listening to the fascinating interview between The New Yorker’s editor David Remnick and Buzzfeed’s Ben Smith.  The primary source of discussion is how Buzzfeed chose to release the infamous Trump dossier. Well worth a listen if you’re interested in the relationship between Trump and the media.

David Remnick and Ben Smith Discuss How the Media Should Cover the President

Excerpt: Insane Clown President by Matt Taibbi

FACTFROMFICTION Notes:  I have long been a fan of the work of Matt Taibbi, dating back to his work in Russia with Mark Ames for The Exile. Since then his fantastic work has grown to now focus on domestic issues. From founding the Buffalo Beast and covering the rise of the Tea Party, to his work in Rolling Stone covering the financial crisis, his articles and books are a must read for any political junkie.

Mark Ames and Matt Taibbi when writing The eXile

Penguin Publishing notes: Insane Clown President by journalist Matt Taibbi offers an unapologetic account of Donald Trump and the world of contemporary American politics. Read the opening chapter below.


A little over ten years ago, while writing a book and working as a correspondent for Rolling Stone, I thought I saw a new trend in American politics.

I was spending half my time in Washington watching Congress make some very unsavory sausage and the other half hanging around political extremist movements in vari­ous parts of the country. In retrospect, the setup probably predetermined the conclusion. Nonetheless, I ended up re­turning over and over to the same theme, which had a syl­logistic formula:

The country’s leaders are corrupt and have become unresponsive to the needs of the population.

People all over are beginning to notice.

This being America, as ordinary people tune out their corrupt leaders, they will replace official propaganda with conspiratorial explanations even more ridiculous than the original lies.

Continue reading…

This was the core idea behind a book that ended up being called The Great Derangement. Between first-person narratives about fringe political phenomena like the apoca­lyptic “Rapture” movement and 9/11 Truth, the book tried to warn about a loss of faith in national institutions, most notably in my own business, the political media.


Read Matt Taibbi’s blog and articles at Rolling Stone.



Tell Trump what YOU think about his potential impact of human rights

FACTFROMFICTION notes: Amnesty International have drafted the below letter which you can send to Trump if you wish to express your concern over his positions on human rights. This applies both domestically in the United States as well as their impact on the world stage. ALL WELCOME TO SIGN.

Sign the letter here.  

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President Trump: Will you stand up for human rights?

I’m contacting you on behalf of Amnesty International, to urge you to make human rights a priority in your administration. To this effect I ask that you commit to the following:

• Uphold protections for human rights defenders
• Protect the rights of people fleeing conflict and crisis by not allowing America to turn its back on refugees
• Halt the sale of weapons to governments that commit human rights abuses
• Support and protect women’s rights by working to end violence against women and ensuring access to sexual and reproductive rights
• Close the Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
• Unequivocally renounce torture

Every day in office, every choice you make will define your legacy. You can choose to leave the world a better place or one in which hatred, fear and discrimination grow stronger. We urge you to renounce hate and choose human rights.

Yours sincerely,


Click here to sign the letter to Trump

Press Releases: Amnesty calls for Theresa May to demand urgent action in her visit to Turkey


Press Releases: Amnesty International UK, January 28th 2017 

Responding to Prime Minister Theresa May’s visit to Turkey, Amnesty International UK Director Kate Allen said:

“This visit is a vital opportunity for Theresa May to ask some probing questions over Turkey’s human rights crackdown following last year’s bloody coup attempt.

“Human rights abuses during the attempted coup absolutely must be investigated and their perpetrators brought to justice, but this can’t be done at the expense of fundamental rights.

“We’ve gathered disturbing evidence of widespread torture in the immediate aftermath of the would-be coup, and the rights of detainees have also been severely curtailed in a series of executive decrees.

“More than 40,000 people have been remanded in pre-trial detention since the coup attempt, and more than 90,000 civil servants have been summarily suspended or dismissed from their jobs.

“More than 100 journalists and media workers have been imprisoned – some for months – in punitive lengthy pre-trial detention, and hundreds of media outlets have been shut down as part of a massive crackdown on freedom of expression.

“Mrs May should call for journalists held in pre-trial detention in Turkey to be released, for an end to torture in detention and for due process and the rule of law in Turkey to prevail.”

International Days of United Nations

With the end of January approaching, here is a quick post to update on the international days approach for next month. I have provided links so that you can find more about each one below.


4 February —World Cancer Day


6 February —International Day of Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation


11 February —International Day of Women and Girls in Science (A/RES/70/212)

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13 February —World Radio Day  (UNESCO 36 C/Resolution 63; A/RES/67/124)


20 February — World Day of Social Justice   (A/RES/62/10)


21 February —International Mother Language Day  (A/RES/56/262)


Islamic vigilante group in the spotlight

By John McBeth, Asia Times, Jakarta January 26th

Indonesia’s Islamic Defenders Front, notorious for its intimidation and violence, faces a backlash after years of tacit official support

Pressure is mounting on the hardline Islamic Defenders Front (FPI), with Indonesia’s two biggest political parties and a growing number of civil society activists urging the Government to take stronger action against mass organizations they say are threatening national unity.  The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party for Struggle (PDI-P) and key ally Golkar party have added their voice to a backlash against a group whose intolerant brand of Islam and links to elements in the security forces have raised concerns about the direction the country is headed.

Continue reading…


FACTFROMFICTION notes: Having lived in Indonesia a few years, and witnessed their aggression first hand, the FPI have been a threat to both the country and region for years. It appears that the cancer growing.  It threatens one of the largest muslim countries, a corrupt democracy with certain extreme limits to free speech and gender equality, with a decent into the past. This would benefit neither the country or the world.

Hopefully the government learns from the mistakes of their past and uses good intelligence and effective arrests rather than indiscriminate brute force to deal with the current threat. Moving forward, introducing a more secular line of education, increasing gender equality and limits on censorship, tackling corruption – all of these would limits that the extremists like FPI prey upon. They prey upon the ignorant and uneducated.

Terrorism no longer a man’s world in Indonesia

By Chaula Rininta Anindya, RSIS, East Asia Forum, 12 January 2017

Detachment 88, Indonesia’s police counterterrorism unit, recently arrested three women who were allegedly involved in plotting to bomb the Indonesian State Palace. The women — Dian Yuli Novi, Arida Putri Maharani and Tutin Sugiarti — were a part of a Solo-based terrorist network under the coordination of Bahrun Naim, the man allegedly behind the 2016 Jakarta attacks. A few days after their arrest, Detachment 88 also arrested Ika Puspitasari in a mosque near her home in Purworejo, Central Java.

Continue reading



FACTFROMFICTION notes: Detachment 88 was established after the 2002 Bali bombings carried out by militant network Jemaah Islamiah, which firmly placed Indonesia as a frontline state in the U.S.-led “war on terror.” U.S. government documents showed the unit had received technical support, training and equipment under the State Department’s Anti-Terrorism Assistance (ATA) program since 2003.

The decision to fund a police rather than army unit was due to the previous behaviour of Kopassus, the army special forces unit especially under the 30 year Suharto dictatorship. This included participating in the invasion of East Timor, mass slaughter of opponents amongst other crimes. Over the last fifteen years, relationships have warmed and they work closely with the ASAS (Australian Special Air Services) ASAS (Australian Special Air Services)