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Mon

27

Dec

2010

America's War Veterans: PTSD and its Cure
by Zahir Ebrahim
 

The two American websites, Veterans Today and Salem News, run by two former US Military veterans, contain some of the most outstanding RealitySpeak writings by both civilians and America's war veterans, presumably, all mostly being eagerly ingested by other American war veterans. In full disclosure, these websites also reprint my two cents every now and then. The Editors in chief of both websites whom I have never met but communicate with occasionally, very generously invited me to become Staff Writer on their respective panels, and I politely declined in each case. I prefer my lonely voice to stay independent – for it allows me to explore my own confusions as no one else can.

So, exercising that independence of thought, if I may be permitted to ask the next logical question to great penmanship and reportage by recovering war veterans, does such RealitySpeak affect a change in status quo?

Does all this verbiage ameliorate the suffering of the bemedaled American war hero who brought my fellow Muslim men, women, and children of Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, perhaps Iran next, the 'liberation' depicted in the images?

Do the oft maligned liberators of truth from the sharp jaws of deceit, ever impact the inflexion of hegemonic power with mere moral words and intellectual theses which unravel the never ending lies of the hectoring hegemons du jour?

For, if words alone could make appreciable difference to the calculus of hegemony, then, the Ten Commandments would have surely eased mankind's journey over the past hundred years of successive world wars and vile deprecation of humanity. As the noted essayist and novelist Aldous Huxley had once observed when responding to the question “What does one do?”:

'Well this is the real problem. Nothing is easier than to formulate high ideals, but few things are more difficult than to discover the means for by those ideals might be implemented, and the categorical imperatives which spring from them can be a pain. This is the real problem. I mean one has to dream, but one has to dream in a pragmatic way to consider how... Merely preaching to people doesn't have much effect, people have been preaching for an awefully long time and we are still pretty much where we were.' (Herman Harvey: Sum and Substance with Aldous Huxley, co-produced with University of S. California, KNXT Public Affairs. http://www.huxley.net/ah/huxley-interview.html )

The undeniable practical fact of the matter remains, that unless moral prescriptions and copious intelligent analyses appearing on these websites get translated into direct activism, into building organizations, into building movements, and into creating a powerful national chorus collectively saying NO to the murdersome hectoring hegemons now bringing vile indignities to the American people right here at home, elegant moral words on paper, wonderful prose bringing exposes to the intelligent, is only self-entertaining the armchair internet warriors.

In all honesty, haven't we, the narrators du jour, merely substituted the mind numbing television, America's favorite sedative, with a new type of cognitive programming for a minuscule sub-minority who indulges in study, but which remains as impotent in mobilizing the conscience to act in order to affect change, as the former medium was effective in amusing us to death? The “history's actors” in fact even brazenly noted that this is all we shall be able to do. The New York Times quoted a senior White House Advisor during the Bush Administration while explaining how fait accompli enacted by “history's actors” actually worked for “imperial mobilization”:

‘We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality — judiciously, as you will — we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors . . . and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.’ — Senior Bush Advisor, The New York Times, October 17, 2004 (see Convince People of Absurdities and get them Acquiescing to Atrocities: The Enduring Power of Machiavellian Political Science )
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Whitewashing Defeat: Obama’s Indecisiveness Defines His Presidency
by Ramzy Baroud

He may still possess the poise of a confident leader and an eloquent intellectual, but the presidency of Barack Obama is now suffering its most difficult phase to date.

Certainly, Obama cannot solely be blamed for all the factors that have stifled his country’s chances of recovery from the failures of the Bush era. But the man who promised the moon has now extended the abhorrent and morally unjustifiable tax cuts for America’s wealthiest class. The “sweeping” $858 billion tax bill was signed into law on December 17. It includes an $801 billion package of tax cuts, extending Bush’s tax break for the rich for two more years – at a time when the majority of Americans are reeling under the weight of a failing economy and persistently high unemployment.

Still, the tax bill was presented by the self-assured president as “real money that’s going to make a real difference in people’s lives.” The cuts will help stimulate an ailing economy, he claims, despite it being the rich who gambled with American wealth to increase their own, stimulating a market crash that led to millions losing their small investments and savings. All we know for sure is that the cuts will add a gigantic chunk to an already impossible deficit of $1.3 trillion, another Obama battle that is likely to be lost to the Republicans early next year.

But this concession, and its presentation as a victory for America’s middle classes says more about Obama’s style than the weakening of the Democrats since the midterm elections. Even in his foreign policy management, Obama’s approach seems to teeter between giving face-lifts to ugly realities and postponing urgently needed action. The agent of change has become the quintessential American politician, who is more consumed with his chances of reelection than with bringing about the kind of long-term change that can really benefit his country, and the world at large.

Obama’s handling of the shortly-lived peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel’s rightwing government is another example of a striking failure followed by whitewash. Although he adamantly demanded a halt to Israel’s construction of illegal settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Obama soon began capitulating before an obstinate Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli leader, supported by much of the US Congress and backed by a strong Israel lobby in Washington, finally forced Obama into a humiliating retreat. Even a generous bribe to win a limited Israeli moratorium on settlement construction failed. Obama administration officials finally declared that the US would abandon its efforts to halt Israeli settlement expansion, effectively signaling an American exit from the ‘peace process.’

Instead of laying the blame squarely on Israel, the Obama administration delved into the same long-discredited rhetoric that only Palestinians and Israelis are capable of accomplishing peace without any outside intervention. That was the core message of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who argued that it was up to Israel and the Palestinian leadership to “settle their conflict”. It signaled a complete shift in US foreign policy, which Israel has naturally welcomed, for the US-financed military occupier prefers to be left to its own devices in this very unbalanced conflict.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay recognize Palestine within 1967 green line armistice boundary
by Jim Miles

A curious turn of events is taking shape in Latin America, one that demonstrates at least two levels of international change. The leaders of Argentina, Brazil and Uruguay have stated their recognition of a Palestinian state within the ‘green line’, the 1948 armistice line between Israel and the Palestinians.

The first level of international change is the recognition of the green line itself as the Palestinian-Israeli boundary, representing an area about forty-five per cent larger than the area proposed for the Israeli state by the UN General Assembly. In that sense, even recognizing the green line is a significant concession to Israeli claims and makes a very generous offer of Palestinian land to be recognized as Israeli territory. As it stands now, with the settlement patterns breaking Palestine into four or five bantustans, with Gaza nothing more than a large open air prison, there truly is no manner in which a sovereign contiguous state of Palestine existing side by side with an Israeli state can be formed. This of course is exactly what the Israelis wish and have always wished for since the Six Day War of 1967. In truth it is a demographic fear of the original Zionists that the population of the Palestinians would either be too strong a minority or conceivably overwhelm the Jewish settlers by sheer numbers and make the establishment of Eretz Israel impossible. The Zionist leaders understood full well that they would face resistance to establishing settlements in then British controlled Mandatory Palestine. The 1948 nakba served the purpose of the new Israeli state by destroying hundreds of villages and towns and causing the displacement of about 700 000 Palestinians into refugee camps scattered within and throughout the region. Returning to the present, it is ironic that with a de facto single state of Israel, the population ratio is very close to 1 : 1 with another 5 million or so refugees in surrounding countries potentially able to exercise their right of return under international law.

In response to the Latin leaders recognition, P. J. Crowley of the U.S. State Department, whose interests lie in homeland security and internet advocacy of U.S. interests (propaganda in other words, it’s always better to change one’s image rather than one’s actions according to most U.S. State Department personnel) stated:

“We believe earnestly that final status issues should be negotiated between the parties…um…and we…uh…think at this stage…you know…um…bringing these issues to the United Nations will just distract us from the important business at hand of…of charting a way forward and tackling the core issues.” al-Jazeerah, December 11, 2010. “Palestine turns to UN for statehood”]

Negotiation between parties? This is a misleading myth that is perpetuated continually in western and U.S. media, operating under the implication that the two parties are equal contenders in the situation. The reality is that one (Palestine) is completely dominated by the other (Israel) and without outside support there can be no fair and equal negotiations. The U.S. has pretended to play the role of mediator but its ongoing support of Israel economically and militarily, and its ever declining ability to say anything against Israeli wishes as witnessed by Obama’s capitulation, there is no chance the U.S. can act as an honest broker in the situation. U.S. actions speak only of support for Israel while it seeks its own control of the Middle East for hydrocarbon resources and geopolitical control of Russia and China. That of course is truly “the important business at hand” for the U.S., while for Israel it is creating more and larger facts on the ground called settlements, illegal under international law.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Obama: A Titanic Disaster for Everyday People
by Larry Pinkney
"Part of being a revolutionary is creating a vision that is more humane."
- Assata Shakur

"I must, however, respect tradition by addressing a few words to you at a time when all sane human beings — those who want peace, freedom, and happiness for all men [and women] — renew their hopes and belief in a better life for mankind, in dignity, independence, and genuine progress for all peoples."

- Amilcar Cabral

The only way to ameliorate an unacceptable reality is to first acknowledge its existence. In other words, one cannot change a condition that one fails (or refuses) to recognize.

After approximately two years of continued shenanigans, double speak, and betrayal by the Obama / Biden regime (and its ever-willing accomplices from both major U.S. corporate-parties) the metaphorical "chickens" are beginning to come "home to roost;" and no amount of economic smoke and mirror politics or high sounding rhetoric can any longer sufficiently mask this growing unacceptable reality.

Everyday Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow people are being mercilessly kicked in the posterior by the cold, hard, unforgiving reality of political and economic betrayal — combined with avaricious corporate hegemony. And the peoples of this planet — Mother Earth — are being ravaged & savaged by a relatively small corporate / military elite bent on the absolute domination over the lives and livelihoods of all of humanity. Gone is even a semi-believable veneer of economic and political justice at home or abroad. 'America's' 21st century 'winter of discontent' has begun, and it will continue well into the foreseeable future irrespective of mother nature's varying seasons.

Barack Obama has shown who he really is and it's not a pretty sight for just plain everyday people to behold. Indeed, only the filthy rich (with their insatiable appetites for the accumulation of wealth) are enjoying the blood-drenched fruits of their legalized-thievery, thanks to their de facto ally — Barack Obama. It was apparently not enough for Obama to extend and expand his predecessor's program of illegal international kidnapping and torture — euphemistically known as 'extraordinary rendition.' Nor has it been enough for Obama to continue and expand upon the gutting of the U.S. Constitution and its rights thereto. Nor has it been enough for this Nobel "peace" prize laureate to continue the U.S. empire's military occupation in Iraq — even as he expanded the bloody, amoral, and unwinnable war in Afghanistan, and has simultaneously and consciously increased the human carnage, suffering, and rage in Pakistan with intensified U.S. drone-missile attacks raining down terror from the sky. No! None of these outrages have been enough! Even as an ever-increasing amount of U.S. men and women troops (i.e. the empire's cannon fodder) return home in body bags, or physically and/or psychologically maimed. Amazingly, as joblessness, home foreclosures, and homelessness spiral upward, Obama has most recently extended the utterly criminal tax cuts for the rich! The demonstrated arrogance and hypocrisy of Barack Obama are surpassed only by his callousness and actual disdain of and contempt for everyday people. Extending his predecessor's tax cuts for the rich is a slap in the face to everyday people, particularly in these times of pain, home foreclosures, wars abroad, joblessness, and growing despair. It is another in a long list of utterly inexcusable betrayals of everyday people, dating back to when Obama, and the corporate — U.S. Congress, bailed out the vampiric banksters and barons of Wall Street.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

2011: Prospects for Humanity?
by Francis A. Boyle Ph.D.
 
During the 1950s I grew up in a family who rooted for the success of African Americans in their just struggle for civil rights and full legal equality. Then in 1962 it was the terror of my own personal imminent nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis that first sparked my interest in studying international relations and U.S. foreign policy as a young boy of 12: "I can do a better job than this!"

With the escalation of the Vietnam War in 1964 and the military draft staring me right in the face, I undertook a detailed examination of it. Eventually I concluded that unlike World War II when my Father had fought and defeated the Japanese Imperial Army as a young Marine in the Pacific, this new war was illegal, immoral, unethical, and the United States was bound to lose it. America was just picking up where France had left off at Dien Bien Phu. So I resolved to do what little I could to oppose the Vietnam War.

In 1965 President Lyndon Johnson gratuitously invaded the Dominican Republic, which prompted me to commence a detailed examination of U.S. military interventions into Latin America from the Spanish-American War of 1898 up to President Franklin Roosevelt's so-called "good neighbor" policy. At the end of this study, I concluded that the Vietnam War was not episodic, but rather systemic: Aggression, warfare, bloodshed, and violence were just the way the United States Power Elite had historically conducted their business around the world. Hence, as I saw it as a young man of 17, there would be more Vietnams in the future and perhaps someday I could do something about it as well as about promoting civil rights for African Americans. These twins concerns of my youth would gradually ripen into a career devoted to international law and human rights.

So I commenced my formal study of International Relations with the late, great Hans Morgenthau in the first week of January 1970 as a 19 year old college sophomore at the University of Chicago by taking his basic introductory course on that subject. At the time, Morgenthau was leading the academic forces of opposition to the detested Vietnam War, which is precisely why I chose to study with him. During ten years of higher education at the University of Chicago and Harvard, I refused to study with openly pro-Vietnam-War professors as a matter of principle and also on the quite pragmatic ground that they had nothing to teach me.

In the summer of 1975, it was Morgenthau who emphatically encouraged me to become a professor instead of doing some other promising things with my life: "If Morgenthau thinks I should become a professor, then I will become a professor!" After almost a decade of working personally with him, Morgenthau provided me with enough inspiration, guidance, and knowledge to last now almost half a lifetime.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Alain de Botton: West is experiencing serious problems in the area of morality and community
by Koroush Ziabari

Alain de Botton is a Swiss public intellectual, author, philosopher, television presenter and entrepreneur living in the United Kingdom. He has written several books on literature, philosophy, art, travel and architecture. In August 2008, he established a new educational enterprise in London called "The School of Life". Among his prominent books are "How Proust Can Change Your Life", "The Consolations of Philosophy" and "The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work".

De Botton is an honorary fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. The title was awarded to him in recognition of his services to art and architecture. His books are translated into several languages and are among the best-selling works of literature in so many countries, including Iran. What follows is the complete text of an in-depth interview with Alain de Botton where we discussed a variety of topics and issues concerning philosophy, art, literature, travel and architecture.

Kourosh Ziabari: Dear Alain; I'm the second Iranian journalist who conducts an interview with you. How's your feeling about that?

Alain de Botton: I'm delighted to hear from Iranian journalists and readers. In most countries, one signs an agreement with a publisher to sell a book and therefore there is an immediate and direct connection with a country and its readers. However, with Iran, it didn't happen like this for me. One day, from the blue, I received an email from my translator and she offered to send me a few copies of my books in Persian. This felt like a great surprise and honor. I know a lot about Iran, Its architecture, its history, its landscape, but I have never visited, so knowing that my books are read in the country helped to solidify a connection which is very vivid in my imagination already.

KZ: "How Proust Can Change Your Life" is your most widely-read book in Iran. Many Iranian booklovers with an inclination toward philosophy have read both Proust's "In Search of Lost Time" and your book on Proust's work, as well. You published this book 13 years ago. If you had to rewrite or revise your book, what would you change, append or remove? What are the advantages and disadvantages of this book in your own view?

AB: I continue to be rather happy with this book. It is short, so it doesn't say everything one could say about Proust, but it tries to say what is most important. I imagine it like a conversation with an imaginary friend who asks me 'Why should this book matter? Why should I bother with it when life is short and I am so busy?' So my book is my answer. It attempts in clear and non-academic language to convey the importance of one of the most intelligent and sensitive writers in the history of humanity. A man like Marcel Proust comes along once every 300 years or so... not more.

KZ: You admire Marcel Proust for what is believed to be his "simple and straightforward" language. What are the features of such a language? What makes a piece of writing simple and appealing to an ordinary reader? According to your response to one of Mr. Kamali Dehghan's questions, they're only the idiots and stupid people who seem complicated; the genius, intelligent man is simple and straightforward. Why do you think so?

AB: There can of course be pleasure in complex pieces of language: some very beautiful poetry is very complicated. Nevertheless, I especially admire clarity and logic, where one feels that a very complex thought has been understood so profoundly that it has been distilled into a perfect clear jewel. For example, consider this aphorism by La Rochefoucauld: 'We all have strength enough to bear the misfortunes of others'. This thought contains years of experience, one could write an entire book on this, and yet he has condensed it into one beautiful, brilliant sentence. Marcel Proust does this too - one finds one's own thoughts in his work, but in a way that teaches us more about ourselves than we ever knew on our own.

KZ: You started your literary career at a young age and published your first book when you were 23. How did writing in the youth days contribute to your future career as a professional writer?

AB: Sometimes I wish I had started writing later, but I felt ready at 23, and I wrote the book that I still perhaps love best, Essays in Love. I felt so unhappy about love; it was as if I had no choice but to write. I felt the full agony of late adolescent unrequited love. Many works of literature have arisen from such feelings. They are among the most powerful we have.

KZ: Tell us a little about your School of Life. How did the idea of establishing this enterprise come about? What activities are usually carried out in the school? How and for what purposes do you connect people together in this school?
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Will Dur$T’$ 2010 Xma$ Wi$H Li$T.
by Will Durst

Wishing you all a Very Happy Merry. And no, I'm not falling into that trap. You go out and dance to the beat of whichever winter festival you want to celebrate. Christmas. Hanukah, Kwanza, Saturnalia, Solstice, noon Tuesday, 420, a December date equal to the square root of the number 625. Whatever. And good on ya. As we say in politically correct San Francisco, "May the corpulent bearded one in the scarlet suit smile upon your chosen shrubbery.

" Now, inevitably some people are going to find their stockings aren't quite stuffed with the egregious booty they were expecting or most importantly, believe they deserve. So I'm here to help the under- gifted achieve a certain amount of cathartic closure. As the great philosopher Rodney King once almost said: "can't we all wear a thong?"
So, to insure that certain traditions don't get washed right out into the ocean like a picnic table on a Malibu hillside, let me offer up my annual scathingly incisive yet curiously refreshing:

WILL DUR$T'$ 2010 XMA$ WI$H LI$T.

  • For Mel Gibson: A muzzle. Permanent. Steel. Welded with titanium rivets.
  • For the Economists who insist the recession ended in June of 09. An opportunity to collect 99 weeks of unemployment insurance.
  • For Charlie Sheen. A date with Lindsay Lohan. Matching ankle bracelets at Dr. Drew's Celebrity Rehab.
  • For WikiLeaks Founder Julian Asange: A slip of paper naming whoever leaked details of his sexual assault charges tucked into a dictionary in the fold of the page with the "irony" entry.
  • For Betty White. 30 more years.
  • For Ireland. Far fewer reasons to drown their troubles.
  • For Juan Williams. A prayer rug for his Fox News cubicle.
  • For the American public. A case of antacid to get through the next two years watching the heartless pummel the spineless cheered on by the clueless.
  • For Conan O'Brien. Half the on- air excitement he inspired off- air.
  • For Barack Obama. An electron telescope to focus on jobs. American jobs. Democratic jobs. Obama Administration jobs. His job.
  • For Mrs. Clarence Thomas. A six pack of Coke.
  • For Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. A used set of Spanish language cassette tapes.
  • For the Cast of Jersey Shore. Watches that only measure increments of 15 minutes.
  • For the Texas Board of Education. A railroad car stuffed full of historical blinders.
  • For Bill Clinton. A Presidential appointment to the position of Secretary of Secretaries.
  • For Toyota. A new corporate motto. Because after 4 recalls involving acceleration problems, "Moving Forward" might be a bit too apropos.
  • For Katy Perry. A bigger bra.
  • For the Tea Party. Kissable wallets. Because its time to put their money where their mouth is.
  • For Willie Nelson. A THC patch.
  • For the TSA. Extensive training to perfect the impromptu prostate exam.
  • For John Boehner. A deal with Fruit of the Loom to market a line of "Mister Speaker" monogrammed handkerchiefs. And hand towels.
  • For former BP CEO, Tony Hayward. Now that he has his life back, a reason to live it.
  • For Medical Science to Study. Dick Cheney's heart, Joe Biden's mouth and Rod Blagojevich's brain.
  • For New Gingrich, Mitt Romney and the rest of the Republican field taking sidelong glances at 2012. Something on Sarah.

San Francisco based political comic, Will Durst, writes sometimes, this being a conventional example.

Catch Durst in stand- up mode at The Big Fat Year End Kiss Off Comedy Show XVIII. Dec. 26- Jan. 1. 6 comics. 7 cities. 8 shows. 2,437 laughs. willdurst.com or 415.820.9628. Facebook. Twitter. Blah- blah.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

WikiLeaks and the press
by Paul J. Balles Ph.D.

The press is down on WikiLeaks and Julian Assange for all the wrong reasons.

They ought to be after Assange for giving governments reasons for censorship--just the opposite effect of the transparency he presumably wanted to promote.

What is the press after him for? Whatever happens to suit the politics or niche of their publication or network.

Scandal sheets are going after Assange for an alleged rape in Sweden, where a couple of his consensual sex partners admitted that they wouldn't have pressed charges if Assange had willingly been tested for HIV.

The gossip sheets have been denigrating Assange for social ineptitude. Stories about his dictatorial rudeness seem to abound in these rumour mills.

A story appearing in one of the gossip sheets reports that an American journalist said "Mr Assange was unusually rude, and when he offered him a copy of his recent, well-reviewed book, he said: ‘Don’t bother. I’d only throw it away.’ After that, he says Mr Assange ignored him, focusing intently on his girlfriend instead."

Another newspaper has been trying to bring Andy Coulson to book for his alleged role in the News of the World phone hacking affair but has no compunction in revealing nuggets of gossip and information to the world obtained illegally by WikiLeaks.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Gilad Atzmon: Jewish Diplomacy
by Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon (Hebrew: גלעד עצמון‎, born June 9, 1963) is a jazz musician, author and anti-Zionist activist who was born in Israel and currently lives in London.
"Anti-Semite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist - which I am not - or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism... which I have."
He was born a secular Israeli Jew in Tel Aviv, and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His service in the Israeli military convinced him Israel had become a militarized state controlled by religious extremists. In 1994, Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London, where he studied philosophy. Atzmon is an anti-Zionist who critiques Jewish identity issues and supports the Palestinian Right of Return as well as the establishment of a single state in Israel/Palestine. He is a signatory to the "Palestinians are the Priority Petition" which states “full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua non for activists to adopt.

Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman taught us today another lesson in Jewish diplomacy calling his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu a liar. Lieberman took aim at Turkey today just hours after the Mavi Marmara was cheered into Istanbul port.

At a conference of Israeli ambassadors Lieberman also rejected the notion of peace with the Palestinians.

"Even if we were to offer Tel Aviv as the capital of Palestine and returned to the 1948 borders they would still find a reason not to sign a deal."

I can only advise Lieberman to give it a try. If he is indeed correct, if the Palestinian refuse to take Tel Aviv aka Yaffa back, it could be presented as a great Hasbara victory.
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

The Consequences of Modernization The Techno-Fantasies of Evo Morales
by Chellis Glendinning Ph.D.

Cochabamba.

On 22 January 2006, newly-inaugurated President Evo Morales made his exuberant procession through the streets of La Paz to join the throngs of supporters awaiting him in the Plaza de los Héroes.  To the excited crowds, Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano announced that the historic event signaled “the end of fear.”  Vice-president Álvaro Garcia Linera shouted that, in the new government, poor Bolivianos would be given equality at last.

And President Morales proclaimed, “Our job is to finish the work of Che Guevara!”

It was a triumphant day — for the most destitute country in South America had finally risen above the centuries of oligarchies and dictatorships to elect one of its own: the first indígena to lead the nation in 500 years.

But who, at that peak moment, was remembering that Che Guevara was not just the hero of courage and confrontation whose life’s work lay unfinished due to assassination in Bolivia?  He was also Cuba’s great pusher of industry, development, and modernization.

And so, true to his words, Morales has pursued industry, development, and modernization.

From Flores to Progreso

Perhaps the tip-off to this lunge toward technological expansion arose when billboards leading into the tiny agricultural town of Tiquipaya were abruptly changed from “EL CAPITÁL DE FLORES” to “EL CAPITÁL DEL PROGRESO” – and high-rise apartments and office buildings, suddenly and without local input, began to tower over tin-roofed shanties and women hawking papayas on the Reducto.

Or perhaps the tip-off came when President Morales proclaimed via his government T.V. station that the goal was to make Bolivia’s economy like that of Brazil, which is currently viewed as the #1 (and, according to financial advisers in the U.S., only) country in Latin America to invest in.

Or perhaps it surfaced when he claimed access to wireless Banda Ancha/Universal Broadband as a “human right” – despite that international scientists have proven that electromagnetic emissions can cause sleeplessness, anxiety disorders, depression, cancer, genetic breakage, heart disorders, immunological deterioration, and other health problems.

The discovery of lithium was the biggest boon to Morales’ urge to emulate Brazil’s rise to economic potency.  The rarity of the “gold of the 21st century” — with its importance to the up-and-coming electric-car battery industry, as well as to nuclear weaponry — has put Bolivia in the running to build a Saudi-Arabia-size bank account, with battery sales between 2011 and 2014 slated to top $902 million and total sales possibly reaching $515 billion.  At the same time, partnerships with the likes of Mitsubishi and South Korea have traditional communities nervous about any possibility of local input – as does the inevitable contamination of air, water, and soil via leeching, leaks, spills, and emissions.  
 

Mon

27

Dec

2010

Former CIA Spook Calls For “Covert” Action vs. Assange
by Sherwood Ross

Two writers with close ties to U.S. intelligence agencies published a shocking article Dec. 23rd in The Miami Herald asserting that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange is "a narcissistic nut" with "blood on his hands" and President Obama should do "whatever it takes to shut down WikiLeaks." Without giving a single example of how Assange's disclosures caused blood to flow, co-authors Thomas Spencer and F. W. Rustmann warn, "No nation can operate without secrets. Unless we adopt an aggressive plan, adopt new tough laws and take immediate action---overt and covert---we face disaster." The authors go on to state the president should be joined in this suppression of the press by "Congress and our entire intelligence, military and law-enforcement communities" because "(our)lives are depending" on it.

While the above is vaguely worded it does appear that Spencer and Rustmann are calling for "immediate" and "covert" action---to put a stop to Assange's activities. In short, they appear to be saying Obama & Co. has the right to terminate Assange covertly, that is to say, secretly, and, as the word has come to mean in CIA parlance, "violently" as well. It is no surprise that two writers closely tied to U.S. spy agencies appear to be advocating covert action against Assange, but it is a bit of a shock that the Miami Herald would publish this seeming call for blood.

Pardon me for suspecting this hysterical screech for Assange's scalp was published with the blessing of the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA). Rustmann spent 24 years as a CIA payroller and was an instructor in its covert training center, so he would know, if anybody, how to stick Assange's feet into a block of cement and dump him in the Everglades. (Hollywood might even make a movie about it, with Rustmann's intoning, "He sleeps with the alligators.") As for Herald co-author Spencer, he is a lawyer who represents intelligence officers and is a Life Member in the Association of Former Intelligence Officers.

Rustmann's former CIA employer, by the way, probably could have taught gangster Al Capone a thing or two. Capone's record for murders at a single "massacre" was a measly seven, famously achieved in Chicago on Saint Valentine's Day, 1929. The CIA's covert killers, who do things globally, triggered a slaughter of 75,000 folks just in El Salvador alone in the 1980s. By some estimates, the CIA has been responsible for overthrowing a score of governments resulting in the murders of millions of people around the world.

Apparently, Spencer and Rustmann weren't paying attention to former CIA Director Robert Gates, now our Secretary of Defense, who conceded there was no proof that Assange has blood on his hands. As Scott Horton pointed out in Harper's: "When pressed by the Senate Armed Services Committee, Secretary Gates was forced to admit that these claims were hyperbole—'the leak… did not disclose any sensitive intelligence sources or methods.' Gates went on to acknowledge that there was no evidence of any informant being killed or threatened or even requesting protection as a result of the WikiLeaks publications."

In fact, the charge Rustmann and Spencer make about Assange having "blood on his hands" is true not of WikiLeaks but is true over and over again of the CIA. It is the world's No. 1 gangster organization and it operates at the direction of the White House, and has done so for years. Only Dec. 21st, the Associated Press reported from Santiago that "A Chilean government lawyer is seeking to arrest four retired army officers for the killing of renowned folk singer Victor Jara during the 1973 coup." And which U.S. Agency was behind that violent overthrow? At least 3,000 innocent Chileans were tortured and executed by the generals with the support of the CIA. And Spencer and Rustmann want WikiLeaks shut down? It is the CIA that needs to be abolished.

While Rustmann and Spencer do not cite a single instance of blood on Assange's hands, investigative journalist William Blum in "Rogue State"(Common Courage Press) reels off a long list of CIA violent actions more than 20 pages long. Here are just a few:
 

Tue

21

Dec

2010

The Rise of ‘British’ People Power
by Adam W. Parsons
In the space of a few weeks, a nationwide protest movement has emerged in Britain characterised by intelligent, humorous and peaceful direct actions. The question that remains is whether it can connect with the popular protests in other countries through its fundamental call for equality and justice...

This weekend in central London, amidst the falling snow and crowds of Christmas shoppers, British protesters carried out their biggest day of mass action this year - the targeting of major high street retailers to highlight the issue of corporate tax dodging.

On the surface, the cause of the protests might seem nothing new; campaign groups have long pointed out how Britain loses an estimated £100 billion a year to tax dodging by multinational corporations, money that could double funding for the ailing National Health Service and finance poverty reduction programmes throughout the developing world. Many non-governmental organisations, such as the Tax Justice Network, have dedicated years of high-level research and advocacy work to the important field of tax and regulation, boldly declaring on their website homepage that "tax havens cause poverty" - a cause that is seldom discussed around most kitchen tables and widely ignored by most governments.

Yet on Saturday, hundreds of protesters braved the freezing weather and carried out 55 separate protests up and down the country in the name of corporate tax evasion, closing down several high street stores on the busiest shopping day of the year. For a British public renowned for its stiff upper lip and middle class respectability, there is no real precedent for hundreds of people storming through the commercial maelstrom of Oxford Street - without prior permission from police authorities, as in the usual city demonstrations - and chanting such slogans as "Pay Your Tax!", or "Where Did All The Money Go? He Sent It Off To Monaco!". In Brighton, some activists even glued themselves onto store windows as a way of stopping trading.

Contrary to what the establishment Daily Telegraph newspaper reported, the main victims of the protests were not the people trying to buy Christmas presents for their loved ones. As Jeremy Wight reported in Red Pepper, most shoppers weren't at all annoyed with the tax protesters - in fact, many of them joined in the sit-down demonstrations and showed "a spontaneous outpouring of solidarity", even ordinary ‘shoppers' who had known nothing about the cause.

The obvious reason for this drastic change in public sentiment is the harsh austerity measures currently being pushed through by the UK coalition government. As expressed by UK Uncut, the umbrella group that has organised the nationwide protests which first began on December 4th; "If you're angry that the government is cutting services for the poorest and most vulnerable whilst letting the rich avoid billions in tax, then please join us, even if you have never been on a protest before." Tax justice is back on the agenda because people can clearly see the link with ‘austerity', now that the government's rhetoric on public sector cuts is being exposed as a confidence scam.
 

Tue

21

Dec

2010

William A. Cook, Ph.D.: Slave to Shame, Whipped by Deceit
by William A. Cook, Ph.D.
“I was broken in body, soul, and spirit…my intellect languished, the disposition to read departed…the dark night of slavery closed in upon me; and behold a man transformed into a brute!
- Frederick Douglass
On June 4, 2009, President Barack Hussein Obama stood strong before the world in the Levant and declared “Israel must live up to its obligations to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society…we should choose the right path, not just the easy path… we must do unto others as we would have them do unto us. This truth transcends nations and peoples…”
 

Thu

09

Dec

2010

America - Y UR PEEPS B SO DUM? - Ignorance and courage in the age of Lady Gaga
by Joe Bageant in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico

If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.

One explanation might be the effect of 40 years of deep fried industrial chicken pulp, and 44 ounce Big Gulp soft drinks. Another might be pop culture, which is not culture at all of course, but marketing. Or we could blame it on digital autism: Ever watch commuter monkeys on the subway poking at digital devices, stroking the touch screen for hours on end? That wrinkled Neolithic brows above the squinting red eyes?

But a more reasonable explanation is that, (A) we don't even know we are doing it, and (B) we cling to institutions dedicated to making sure we never find out.

As William Edwards Deming famously demonstrated, no system can understand itself, and why it does what it does, including the American social system. Not knowing shit about why your society does what it makes for a pretty nasty case of existential unease. So we create institutions whose function is to pretend to know, which makes everyone feel better. Unfortunately, it also makes the savviest among us -- those elites who run the institutions -- very rich, or safe from the vicissitudes that buffet the rest of us.

Directly or indirectly, they understand that the real function of American social institutions is to justify, rationalize and hide the true purpose of cultural behavior from the lumpenproletariat, and to shape that behavior to the benefit of the institution's members. "Hey, they're a lump. Whaddya expect us to do?"

Doubting readers may consider America's health institutions, the insurance corporations, hospital chains, physicians' lobbies. Between them they have established a perfectly legal right to clip you and me for thousands of dollars at their own discretion. That we so rabidly defend their right to gouge us, given all the information available in the digital age, mystifies the world.

Two hundred years ago no one would have thought sheer volume of available facts in the digital information age would produce informed Americans. Founders of the republic, steeped in the Enlightenment as they were, and believers in an informed citizenry being vital to freedom and democracy, would be delirious with joy at the prospect. Imagine Jefferson and Franklin high on Google.

The fatal assumption was that Americans would choose to think and learn, instead of cherry picking the blogs and TV channels to reinforce their particular branded choice cultural ignorance, consumer, scientific or political, but especially political. Tom and Ben could never have guessed we would chase prepackaged spectacle, junk science, and titillating rumor such as death panels, Obama as a socialist Muslim and Biblical proof that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs around Eden. In a nation that equates democracy with everyman's right to an opinion, no matter how ridiculous, this was probably inevitable. After all, dumb people choose dumb stuff. That's why they are called dumb.

But throw in sixty years of television's mind puddling effects, and you end up with 24 million Americans watching Bristol Palin thrashing around on Dancing with the Stars, then watch her being interviewed with all seriousness on the networks as major news. The inescapable conclusion of half of heartland America is that her mama must certainly be presidential material, even if Bristol cannot dance. It ain't a pretty picture out there in Chattanooga and Keokuk.
 

Thu

09

Dec

2010

An Intelligence Defense of Julian Assange
by Susan Lindauer

If only I'd known Julian Assange, everything would have been different.

Mine was a spook's world of black ops and counter-terrorism. The real stuff—not color coded threats. For a decade I performed as a covert back channel to Libya and Iraq at the United Nations in support of anti-terrorism. My special access made me one of the very few Assets covering Baghdad before the War. Our team started talks for the Lockerbie Trial with Libyan diplomats. We also held preliminary talks to resume the weapons inspections with Iraq's Ambassador, Dr. Saeed Hasan. Once Baghdad agreed to rigorous U.S. conditions for transparency in the inspections, I notified the Security Council myself, and within 72 hours the U. N invited Iraq to attend formal talks to ratify the technical language. By then it was a done deal. Contrary to official reports, Iraq always welcomed the return of weapons inspectors as a necessary step to ending the sanctions. Ordinary people just didn't know it.

My world was "black." Off radar. So deeply secretive that my father, brother, aunts and cousins had no knowledge of my work in Washington. I operated in absolute secrecy.

My bona fides in anti-terrorism were no less outstanding for my lack of public acclaim. I discovered advance intelligence about the bombing of the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen, and the first World Trade Center attack in 1993. My team conducted one of the very first investigations of Osama bin Laden and his cohorts—then known as the Inter-Arab group— six months before the Embassy bombings in Dar es Salaam/Nairobi in 1998.

Most provocatively by far, my team warned about a 9/11 scenario involving airplane hijackings and a strike on the World Trade Center throughout the spring and summer of 2001. My CIA handler responded aggressively, ordering me to threaten Iraqi diplomats with War, in the event they failed to supply intelligence to thwart the attack.

If that wasn't politically dangerous enough, I solicited Iraq's cooperation with the 9/11 investigation—a cause Baghdad embraced enthusiastically. Oh yes, Iraq was one of our best sources on anti-terrorism throughout the '90s. You didn't know that either, did you?

If only I'd known Julian Assange.

A Time for Openness

For all of the political scolding, there comes a time when secrecy becomes its own greatest handicap in the ultimate game to protect global security. Informed consent creates power for the people to make better decisions that impact the welfare of the total community. Just like government leaders require a depth of information to guide them, the people require it, too—so they can provide better instructions to government leaders representing their interests.
 

Tue

07

Dec

2010

Tomgram: Alfred McCoy, Taking Down America
by Tom Engelhardt
 

Trying to play down the significance of an ongoing Wikileaks dump of more than 250,000 State Department documents, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently offered the following bit of Washington wisdom: “The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it's in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets... [S]ome governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us.  We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.”

Now, wisdom like that certainly sounds sober; it’s definitely what passes for hardheaded geopolitical realism in our nation’s capital; and it's true, Gates is not the first top American official to call the U.S. “the indispensable nation”; nor do I doubt that he and many other inside-the-Beltway players are convinced of our global indispensability.  The problem is that the news has almost weekly been undermining his version of realism, making it look ever more phantasmagorical.  The ability of Wikileaks, a tiny organization of activists, to thumb its cyber-nose at the global superpower, repeatedly shining a blaze of illumination on the penumbra of secrecyunder which its political and military elite like to conduct their affairs, hasn’t helped one bit either.  If our indispensability is, as yet, hardly questioned in Washington, elsewhere on the planet it’s another matter

The once shiny badge of the “global sheriff” has lost its gleam and, in Dodge City, ever fewer are paying the sort of attention that Washington believes is its due.  To my mind, the single most intelligent comment on the latest Wikileaks uproar comes fromSimon Jenkins of the British Guardian who, on making his way through the various revelations (not to speak of the mounds of global gossip), summed matters up this way: “The money-wasting is staggering. [U.S.] Aid payments are never followed, never audited, never evaluated. The impression is of the world's superpower roaming helpless in a world in which nobody behaves as bidden. Iran, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, the United Nations, are all perpetually off script. Washington reacts like a wounded bear, its instincts imperial but its power projection unproductive.”

Sometimes, to understand just where you are in the present, it helps to peer into the past -- in this case, into what happened to previous “indispensable” imperial powers; sometimes, it’s no less useful to peer into the future.  In his latest TomDispatch post, Alfred W. McCoy, author most recently ofPolicing America’s Empire: The United States, the Philippines, and the Rise of the Surveillance State, does both.  Having convened a global working group of 140 historians to consider the fate of the U.S. as an imperial power, he offers us a glimpse of four possible American (near-)futures.  They add up to a monumental, even indispensable look at just how fast our indispensability is likely to unravel in the years to come.  Tom

The Decline and Fall of the American Empire 
Four Scenarios for the End of the American Century by 2025 
By Alfred W. McCoy

A soft landing for America 40 years from now?  Don’t bet on it.  The demise of the United States as the global superpower could come far more quickly than anyone imagines.  If Washington is dreaming of 2040 or 2050 as the end of the American Century, a more realistic assessment of domestic and global trends suggests that in 2025, just 15 years from now, it could all be over except for the shouting.

Despite the aura of omnipotence most empires project, a look at their history should remind us that they are fragile organisms. So delicate is their ecology of power that, when things start to go truly bad, empires regularly unravel with unholy speed: just a year for Portugal, two years for the Soviet Union, eight years for France, 11 years for the Ottomans, 17 years for Great Britain, and, in all likelihood, 22 years for the United States, counting from the crucial year 2003.

 
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