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Freedom of Expression Fundamentalism or – What happened to Charlie?

My answer is simple: the issues surrounding the horrific attack on Charlie Hebdo disappeared so fast because the general Western reaction was ill-considered/phony and therefore unsustainable. 

But there is actually still quite a lot to be discussed.

Secondly, European politicians and media chose – quite uniformly for a professed pluralist society – to not discuss the possible causes. The more convenient interpretation was that the perpetrators were just madmen and people like that should be hunted down and eliminated (like IS in Syria and Iraq).

Without causal analysis we can more easily go straight for more “security”, …

I Want What You Want

A Letter to the Scottish Independence folk

Of course, although this was addressed to the people in Scotland who had been campaigning for independence, there is a message here for all of us, denied as we all are by our governments of real democracy.  How can we wake ourselves up and take part in the kind of inspired political debate that the referendum on independence generated among the Scots, whichever side they were on?

When I first became engaged in the debate about independence for Scotland it was because of anger and embarrassment at the slant presented by the Better Together campaign.  But as I talked to …

Scramble to Conclude Suspicious EU-US Trade Deal

UK industry is in intensive care. Should we throw open the door and allow America’s big business battalions to muscle in under cover of a trade treaty?

Critics claim that the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) currently being cooked up between the EU and the United States could:

Weaken workers’ rights and put millions of jobs at risk;
Reduce environmental protection and food safety regulation;
Lead to more privatisation of public services like education and our prized National Health Service (NHS);
Give new powers for corporations to sue European governments, including the UK, in secret courts.

They complain that world leaders are working alongside major …

The Communist Manifesto Today

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels published the Manifesto of the Communist Party in 1848. By no means did Marx and Engels set out to read the fortune of future capitalist societies, or to develop some high-resolution photograph of future international political economy amongst states. Nor did they predict the various incarnations of communism that would arise after their time. Instead, the manifesto was a commissioned work; its intention was to communicate the purposes and platform of the Communist League, an international political party started in 1847 London.

The manifesto’s investigation of historical and then class struggle included polemicizing capitalism and the …

Why do critics love American Sniper?

I watched American Sniper the other night and it really is the most puerile propaganda imaginable. It is not even as though it is simply unfair to the “enemy” – that is, mostly ordinary Iraqis, who are shown to be ruthless and heartless killers filled with irrational hatred for the American soldiers sent to liberate them from … well, in this re-write of history it is seemingly from al-Qaeda. It is equally unfair to the US soldiers there, presenting them either as good guys being heroes or as good guys being traumatised by their exposure to the natives’ savagery.

And, of …

The NFL’s Anarchist Success Story

Last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers came within minutes of defeating the Seattle Seahawks and earning a berth in the Super Bowl. Were it not for a miracle comeback by Seattle, the Packers would have made their 14th appearance in the NFL’s title game. With 13 world championships, the Packers have far more than any other football team. They are arguably the most successful franchise in American professional sports history. But the most remarkable thing about the Green Bay Packers is that in an industry controlled by parasitic owners who leech billions of dollars off taxpayers, they are 100% publicly-owned …

Iraq Invasion: The “Six Wise Men” Tony Blair Ignored

Nothing justifies killing of innocent people.

— Tony Blair, CNN, 15th January 2015

The Independent on Sunday has revealed that having decided to back George W. Bush in the illegal March 2003 invasion of Iraq come what may, in November 2002 the then Prime Minister Tony Blair and then Foreign Secretary Jack Straw, with senior advisors, consulted “six wise men” — then ignored all they had to say. Four of those consulted agreed to talk to the Independent.

The revelations end a week when the publication of the Chilcot Inquiry into the invasion is further delayed and government statements confirm it will …

Trident – UK’s Instruments of Armageddon

The existence of nuclear weapons makes Armageddon possible. If there were no nuclear weapons on the planet, the human race would have a dire threat lifted and could focus on the other, less instantaneous, threats to the survival of our species.

In certain cops and robbers films a scene arises when protagonists are lined up opposite each other, both factions pointing weapons at their opponents. Obviously this is a highly risky scenario which typically ends badly – in a bloodbath.  One of the protagonists decides he can win if he fires first; a passing waiter drops a tray of glasses and …

Why Business And Government Are Quiet About TPP

The Trans-Pacific Partnership has been negotiated secretly for many years and there is good reason for the secrecy, especially in terms of how it affects billions of people in the world. As you might guess those who benefit most are governments and the rich and powerful.

Clyde Prestowitz, president of the Economic Strategy Institute, who served in the Reagan and Clinton administrations, says that TPP won’t deliver jobs or curb China’s power, the former a fallacy that seems to be pushed, or at least suggested, by both Congress and the Obama administration.

Supporters like Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.) and former U.S. …

The Greek Elections and Media Bias

Who are the heroes of Greece?

As you may have heard, Greece will be holding national elections this Sunday, January 25. I’m not here to talk about the election itself, however—I’d rather focus on how the for-profit media has skewed their reporting on the election to imbue everything they write with a clear anti-Syriza bias. And this is an important issue to keep in mind, because as Malcolm X once observed: “If you aren’t careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed and loving the people who are doing the oppressing.”

With that in mind, notice how virtually every mainstream …

Divesting America of Ozone-Destroying Energy Sources

Long before the price of gas and oil began to plummet, socially conscious churches, universities, non-profit organizations, and local governments began to divest themselves of fossil fuel stock and shock the fossil fuel industry to understand the environmental and public health concerns.

The World Council of Churches, which represents about 590 million Christians in 520,000 congregations, decided in July that to continue to hold fossil fuel stock would compromise its ethics, and recommended that the 349 member denominations consider divesting oil and gas stock.

Six of the eight Anglican dioceses of New Zealand and Polynesia, and four dioceses in Australia divested their …

Contradiction in Action: The Eulogies for King Abdullah

What a spanner in the works of international relations he proved to be. The late King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al Saud of Saudi Arabia was always the spoiler in the morality plays of Western powers keen to back him. Oil was always the greatest deterrent against getting on his wrong side, but it also meant the most intolerable of inconsistencies. For most governments, however, these were tolerated.

Those inconsistencies were there for all to see in the eulogies for the monarch. US President Barack Obama gave a description of someone who was distinctly different from a member of the House of …

“Operation Merlin”: Another self-serving CIA project

The jury is still out in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for allegedly having leaked the story of “Operation Merlin” – the covert CIA effort to lure Iran into working on phony plans for a key component of a nuclear weapon – to New York Times reporter James Risen.

But “Operation Merlin” itself was also on trial. The CIA was hoping that testimony by prosecution witnesses and a series of declassified CIA cables introduced as evidence would show that Risen’s account was wrong in recounting that the CIA’s human asset “Merlin” had immediately spotted a flaw in the …

Three Minutes to Midnight

The threat is serious, the time short. The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists does not move the hands of the Doomsday Clock for light or transient reasons. The clock ticks now at just three minutes to midnight because international leaders are failing to perform their most important duty—ensuring and preserving the health and vitality of human civilization.

— Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 2015

When Barack Hussein Obama was presented with the Nobel Peace Prize on December  10th, 2009, just eight months into his Presidency, the motivation was: “ for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and co-operation between peoples.”

The Nobel …

Occupier’s Justice: Heads and Tails You Lose

Yesterday I had an idea for a short story to explain the unrelenting insanity of the occupation for ordinary Palestinians. Tell me what you think.

In my story, there is a Palestinian family, let’s call them the Jaabaris, and they live next to a Jewish settlement, let’s call it Kiryat Arba, close to Hebron deep in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

One day the settlers decide to build a synagogue on the family’s private land in an effort to force them off.

This family decide to stand their ground. Sadly, they have no way to stop the takeover of land that has been in their family …

Aleppo Photographer Brings Syrian Reality to the United Nations

Twenty-six distinct photos, in black and white. Scenes of a ravaged city and the human beings within struggling to exist, let alone to find hope for the future. Gravestones of rubble. Homes looted, trashed. Civilians defending their country. Children aged beyond their years by the horrors they’ve lived.Hagop Vanesian, a 44 year old Syrian-Armenian photographer from Syria’s largest city, Aleppo (Halab), was meticulous in his choice of photographs for the exhibition, “My Homeland,” which opened at the United Nations Headquarters on January 8 and ran until January 16.

I chose the photographs showing the destruction, and children. I have many

A Future in Prison

The Bureau of Prisons contacted me today, assigning me a prison number and a new address:  for the next 90 days, beginning tomorrow, I’ll live at FMC Lexington, in the satellite prison camp for women, adjacent to Lexington’s federal medical center for men.  Very early tomorrow morning, Buddy Bell, Cassandra Dixon, and Paco and Silver, two house guests whom we first met in protests on South Korea’s Jeju Island, will travel with me to Kentucky and deliver me to the satellite women’s prison outside the Federal Medical Center for men.

In December, 2014, Judge Matt Whitworth sentenced me to three …

The Strategy Behind Israel’s Attack on Iran and Hizballah

Israel’s claims of an imminent threat of Hizballah attack are not credible. More likely it wants to subdue the Lebanese militia so that it has a free hand to manipulate the Syrian battlefield to its advantage

Israel has good reason to fear that the Lebanese militia Hizballah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard will seek dramatic revenge for the killing of 12 senior figures from the two organisations in an air strike in Syria on Sunday.

Israel’s concerns were underscored on Wednesday by the decision of its military chief of staff, Benny Gantz, to cancel a trip to meet his European counterparts, as the Israeli army remained on high alert.

Earlier, on Monday, Israel moved an Iron Dome anti-missile battery to the northern border, in case of rocket fire from Hizballah. That is precisely what Hizbullah leader Hassan Nasrallah had …

Federal Prison Sentence Begins for Anti-Drone Activist

On January 23, Kathy Kelly, co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence, a campaign to end U.S. military and economic warfare, will begin a three-month jail sentence in federal prison for a protest against drones (also known as “unmanned aerial vehicles”) at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. I had a chance to interview her before she had to turn herself in.
Medea Benjamin: Can you just say why you have been particularly moved to take action against drone strikes?
Kathy Kelly: I think 21st-century militarism is very …

Canada’s Flourishing Arms Trade with Middle East Dictatorships

Psst. Looking for arms? Guns, ammunition, high tech supplies, armoured vehicles, and more, all quality Canadian made. Background check? We can get around that. Not democratic? No worries. Tools of repression? Sounds good to us.

Stephen Harper’s Conservatives are working to expand Canadian arms exports and the focus is Middle Eastern monarchies entangled in a great deal of violence.

At the start of last year the Conservatives announced Canada’s biggest ever arms export agreement. Over the next 10 to 13 years General Dynamics Land Systems Canada will supply $14.8 billion worth of light armoured vehicles (LAVs) to the Saudi military.

Ottawa pushed this …