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Sans Tar Sands

What does the Keystone XL pipeline mean to you? Unless you have been schooled in the process of producing oil from tar sands and transporting it, along with the deadly mess it leaves, you probably don’t know. Fortunately, with a little effort of discovery, there is enough proof of its costs. Some are quite deadly.

Billions of dollars can be made by exploiters we love to hate, like the Koch brothers. Their interest in the Keystone XL pipeline is not based on patriotism. It is based on greed. In this space, we can’t possibly name all their holdings, only a few. …

When Your Name is on the Graylist

This morning I was privileged to read the poet Amjad Nasser’s essay, “When Your Name is on the Blacklist,” describing United States Homeland Security interrogating him for two hours at London Heathrow before banning him from flying to New York to help inaugurate the Gallatin Global Writers series at New York University. Nasser was to appear at NYU on September 30th. Only one week earlier I was in New York and participated on a Nelson Mandela Panel at the Brooklyn Book Festival. I did contemplate, however, as I waited to board my flight from Portland to New York, whether or …

With The People’s Climate March Behind Us, What Do We Do Now?

The climate action weekend built around the People’s Climate March proved that the climate movement has broad popular support and millions are ready to mobilize. These are two ingredients necessary to achieve climate justice. Also needed is a strategy that is widely understood so people recognize their work is connected to a larger movement and their actions are more effective.

Governments are sold out to big corporate interests who profit from dirty energy and false market-based climate change ‘solutions.’ Climate justice advocates must stop the government from doing more damage while creating new systems that allow us to stop participating …

Turn the Tables: Stopping Western Aggression in Syria

As the US begins token airstrikes on both sides of the Syrian-Iraqi border, the fighting capacity of the “Islamic State” or “ISIS,” has seen no visible setbacks. This is because ISIS is, in fact, the very proxy mercenaries intentionally created to fight the West’s proxy war against Iran and its arc of influence stretching from neighboring Iraq, through Syria, and into Lebanon. 

As early as 2007 – a full 4 years before the 2011 “Arab Spring” would begin – Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his New Yorker article titled, “The Redirection: Is the

Rogue Courts in Canada Trample Self-Represented Litigants

There is a crisis of access to justice in Canada. It is a crisis of systemic judicial partiality against ordinary citizens who cannot afford brand-name “justice”. ((A judge of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice cited the author (Denis Rancourt) in criminal contempt of court for among other things publishing an earlier version of this article, and stated in open court that the author could consequently be sent to jail following a “show cause” hearing that the judge ordered the author to attend. The judge then (some three months later, prior to the hearing) dropped all his charges

The Gaza Medical Aid Scandal: Suffer, Little Children

What do our clueless politicians care?

The indifference shown by Messrs Obama and Cameron to the slaughter and unimaginable destruction that Israel – the self-styled “only democracy in the Middle East” with “the most moral army in ther world” – inflicted on Gaza a month ago is beyond sickening.

In the UK a petition was raised, addressed to

Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister
The Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, Foreign Secretary
The Rt Hon David Cameron MP, Prime Minister
The Rt Hon Ed Miliband MP, Leader of the Opposition
The Rt Hon Michael Fallon MP, Secretary of State for Defence

requesting them to send the ‘Argus’, a fully-fitted hospital ship of the …

Will Myanmar’s Reforms Sideline Suu Kyi’s Political Influence?

Myanmar’s military rulers have wised up since 1990. After Aung San Suu Kyi was elected in a landslide victory the military rulers quickly discovered that Democracy threatened control over their self-interests. They promptly placed Suu Kyi under house arrest and returned to their business as usual. Prior to Suu Kyi’s release in 2010 Burma’s dictatorship announced its new Constitution.

The recent “reforms” rolled out in 2012 by a former general, President Thein Sien, was touted as amazing progress by governments, institutions and people across the globe itching to get their hands on a piece of Myanmar’s vast resources and access to …

US Global Power in the 21st Century

Military or Economic Imperialism?

Despite vast amounts of imperial data to the contrary, the great majority of writers on imperialism continue to describe and analyze US imperialism strictly in economic terms, as an expansion of “capital accumulation”, “accumulation on a world scale”.

In fact the major and minor US imperial wars have more to do with “capital dis-accumulation”, in the sense that trillion dollar flows have gone out from the US, hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from resource sites have been undermined, markets for exports have been severely weakened and exploitable …

Extracting Ourselves from the Extractivist Mindset

Naomi Klein has written a brave book that not only confronts the calamity of climate destabilization but also examines the deep roots of the crisis in the perverse logic of capitalism and the dehumanizing values of the “extractivist” high-energy/high-technology world.

Klein’s courage comes not in her reporting on the science and politics—there we get the exhaustive research and intellectual rigor that are her trademark—but in her simple plea that we not only think about all this and commit to act, but feel it as well. Taking climate change seriously is not only about data and analysis but about anguish, and Klein …

Bring On Operation Whack-a-Mole

Another Summer has come and gone – it’s time for the annual Fall festival of fantasy, when Americans gear up for another season of national chest-beating.  The more innocuous among us will satisfy the primal urge with football, perhaps binge viewing of a favorite television series, and/or the usual back to school clacque-tivities into which their spawn are channeled.

But as the leaves turn and the sap runs (for office), the power brokers (i.e. “one-percenters” and political operatives) are meanwhile teeing up and shaping the game in anticipation of the usual “October surprise” – buying up teams and players, crafting scripts, …

“I Could Not Stop Sobbing”: The Effect of Rev. Dr. Ian Paisley

There are more born-again people in Ulster to the square mile than anywhere else in the world. This little province has had the peculiar preservation of divine providence.
— Ian Paisley, quoted in London Review of Books, January 22, 1987

History’s agents are its skilful transformers. They are the creatures of notable drag, those who can don a suit at a moment’s notice to charge into the scene of battle befitting them. Just as quickly, they can abandon it for another, the war maker running into the arms of the peace maker, and vice-a-versa.

So many would have seen the former leader of …

Whipping Boys in America

Why are so many young unarmed black men killed by the police? Obviously there is no easy answer to that question, but most evidence suggests it is race-related.

In addition, a whole divisive national culture of apartheid and inequality furnishes a fertile setting for angst and anger. In this setting, our media displays dual props of haves and have-nots, many of the latter, minorities. In a society of changing demographics, intent on winning white votes at any cost, conservative politicians set have-nots up as “whipping boys” for disgruntled whites with eroding wealth.

But stereotypes focus on young blacks. In a long history …

America’s Radical, Underground Climate Change Countermovement

The year is 2050; rising seas have inundated Miami, America’s most recent ghost city, since Detroit. A deadly heat wave scorches Chicago, killing thousands of elderly, and a mega-drought has farmers in the Southwest on their knees, praying for relief, as a dreadful dust bowl blankets the fields. America goes hungry.

A flickering television screen in an abandoned home in Miami, its mangled window shutters flapping in the breeze, shows a real live news story of desperadoes breaking down the gates to the DuPont estate and the Mellon estate, both overlooking Nantucket Sound. The properties are owned by the children/grandchildren of …

The Insidious Quabal

Unstoppable climate change, massive refugeeism, genocide, starvation, domestic militarization, violence, human trafficking, poisoning of the Earth, constant war, terrorism, maltreatment of women, American exceptionalism, wealth and income disparity. Sounds like a laundry list of human disasters, doesn’t it? That’s because it is. And that’s the short list.

These massive global trends seemingly have nothing in common, except that each one adds another layer of human decomposition to the accumulation of the centuries. The Earth as we know it is dying. Why is this happening now? Is it just coincidence? Or perhaps only a different perspective triggered by the speed of communication, …

Are You Depressed? Big Pharma Hopes So

Are you depressed? Have you lost interest in things you used to enjoy? Are you eating or sleeping too much? Big Pharma hopes so! The push to convince people who are dealing with job, family, relationship and money problems that they actually have “depression” has resulted in almost one in four American women in their 40s and 50s taking antidepressants. Ka-ching.

Psychiatry is often accused of not being “real medicine” because the diseases it diagnoses cannot be proved on blood tests and brain scans. That’s why this month’s announcement of the “first blood test to diagnose major depression in adults” …

Ruling-Class Supremacy and the Free World

Soon after children start noticing differences between others and themselves, they’re old enough to believe they’re superior or entitled in some ways. These feelings come naturally, and are reinforced by adults as children learn social behaviors by comparing attributes and values so they can fit in with, or be seen apart from, certain others in society. This is all instinctual to some degree and a normal part of life. To make the case for instinct and superiority, think about what anyone would consider when choosing a partner for a serious or long-term relationship. If a potential partner does not meet …

Parliament and Congress Have No Power to Legalize War

Congress has fled town to avoid voting for or against a new war. Many of the big donors to Congressional campaigns would want Yes votes. Many voters would want No votes, if not immediately, then as soon as the panic induced by the beheading videos wears off, which could be within the next month. Better to just avoid displeasing anyone — other than people who notice you running away.

The standard for legal-ish cosmopolitan respectability in the U.S. now has become getting five kings and dictators to say their on your side as you start bombing a new country.

But the British …

Danish F16s to fight ISIS

Danish government more loyal with the U.S. than with its own citizens

What’s your image of Denmark? Apart from the Little Mermaid, Carlsberg beer and H.C. Andersen perhaps something with decency, welfare, development aid, equality and peace?

Unfortunately, that image is outdated. During the last good 15 years Denmark has participated in wars on/in Yugoslavia and Afghanistan, it was an occupying country in Iraq for four years and a main bomber nation of Libya.

The government’s decision earlier today to send 7 F16s to fight with the U.S. increases the risk of terror actions against Denmark.

It must have been known for quite some time since, about a month ago, the Danish government …

Krugman, Putin and the New York Times

Paul Krugman is an outstanding scholar-journalist, arguably the most enlightening among the New York Times’s regulars. He has grown in his years with the Times, possibly to the dismay of the top brass of the paper. When he was taken on as a regular in 2000 Krugman was a free trade enthusiast, and in his very first regular column (January 2, 2000) he admonished the protesters at the World Trade Organization gathering in Seattle (12/99) for portraying globalization as “an ideology of and for a rootless cosmopolitan elite that is out of touch with ordinary people.” He claimed then that …

They Are Coming For You

ASIO, Surveillance and Australia’s New Security Laws

What we’ve seen [tonight] is, I think, a scary, disproportionate and unnecessary expansion of coercive surveillance powers that will not make anybody any safer but that affect freedoms that have been quite hard fought for and won over a period of decades.

— Senator Scott Ludlam, Australian Greens, Sydney Morning Herald, September 26, 2014

So much for Parliament and its representative functions.  So much for politicians who have a rather nasty habit of forfeiting duties and, in the name of duties, smoothing the path to a surveillance and policing imperium. Where is the mettle, the determination in Canberra?  Distinctly absent, given the …