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Prosecution of Assange is Persecution of Free Speech

US authorities are reported to have prepared charges to seek the arrest of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. This overreach of US government toward a publisher, whose principle is aligned with the U.S. Constitution, is another sign of a crumbling façade of democracy. The Justice Department in the Obama administration could not prosecute WikiLeaks for publishing documents pertaining to the US government, because they struggled to determine whether the First Amendment protection applied in this case. Now, the torch of Obama’s war on whistleblowers seems to …

Internal Exile

The Life and Times of a South Vietnamese Special Police Officer, Part 2

In modernizing the GVN’s police forces, MSUG sent qualified uniformed police officers to study at Michigan State for a year. Theoretically, these individuals became police chiefs upon their return to South Vietnam; in fact, any official who wanted to remain in the Ngô family’s good graces did not stray far from home.

As Nhuận explained, officials were not promoted into positions of authority unless they met the four D criteria. All civil servants and military personnel had to join the first D: Đoàn Công-Chức Cách Mạng Quốc Gia, the National Revolutionary Civil Servants Organization. The second D (Đạo) referred to the …

Guarimbas 2.0P: Murder and Terror brought to you by the Empire and the Local Oligarchy

April 19 chavista march in support of the government in Caracas
The episodes in recent days, featuring the erection of barricades, destruction of public property and widespread violence by opposition groups bring back memories of the 2014 guarimbas. After months of violence, with certain neighbourhoods effectively under siege, and a death toll of 43, the opposition gangs slowly demobilised. But some analysts argue that this time it is different. With the right-wing coming …

Canadian Missionaries in Africa and the NGO Model

For more than a century Canadians have gone abroad to do “good” in poorer parts of the world. Whether they spurred positive change or simply became foreign agents should be of interest to international non-governmental organizations.

Last week the Globe and Mail reported on the Canadians Christians who set off to proselytize in China in 1891. Focused on their medical achievements, the laudatory story hinted at a darker side of their work. It quoted a missionary who was “critical of the lifestyle most of the missionaries led, with their large houses, many servants and imported comforts which contrasted with the …

The Omnipresent Pressure to Conform

It was the school holidays and there were lots of teenagers in my local park. I sometimes spot them meandering home, but I rarely see them en masse as it were. Blind to the bluebells, peacocks and glories of nature all around us, they were glued to their palm-sized screens. What were they so engrossed in – some kind of game or trivial video, a map of the park perhaps, unnecessary given the proliferation of signs? Are they texting, e-mailing, or trawling through the Internet, or all of the above? If one did not know what these shiny seductive objects …

Remaining Animal

The philosopher David Abram wrote a book called Becoming Animal (2011), which was, in part, an exploration of shamanism and an attempt to understand what that means from outside a culture in which that term and practice are still central to human life.

What he found was that our fascination with what we call magic in Western civilization is utterly rooted in the mysterious (to us) transformations that take place in quotidian fashion in the living world. He described how our perceptual and cognitive apparatus hinder us from knowing that world intimately, as full participants, and yet give us a unique …

Mike Pence in Oz

Vassal visiting time, and the next slot in the US imperium tourism schedule was one of America’s more cosy allies, Australia. The US Vice President Mike Pence popped in to keep an eye on matters just to make sure that all was in order.

There had been that issue of the notable phone call, when Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull had been verbally slapped by The Donald over the “dumb” refugee resettlement deal made with the previous Obama administration.

Not to fear.  Turnbull and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop came across as caddies willing to do their best for Pence (a US vice …

The Life and Times of a South Vietnamese Special Police Officer

Part 1: The Early Years

The Vietnamese perspective is rarely found in English language books about the Vietnam War, especially regarding the CIA’s “liaison” relationship with South Vietnamese police and security officials. Which is why I considered myself very fortunate when I was introduced to Lê Xuân Nhuận.

Nhuận’s Wikipedia bio provides a comprehensive account of his life and accomplishments. He is a noted poet and author of three Vietnamese language books about his experiences as a “Special Police” officer. Two of the books are currently available. The first, The Police Plan (Cảnh-Sát-Hóa) (2002) tells of his service as Director Security and Counter-Intelligence in Region II …

The Voyage of the Good Ship Carl Vinson

What I believe to be the true significance of the mix-up over the wanderings of the USS Carl Vinson has been entirely missed, even by the alternative media. I think it provides an intriguing insight into the machinations of the nefarious, secretive – some say nonexistent – “Deep State”.

On April 8th Pacific Command announced that the Vinson (previously famous for being the carrier from which Osama bin Laden’s body was unceremoniously dumped in the presence of only a few top officers) was headed for Korea, a show of resolve lauded by the ever trigger-happy corporate media. On April 12th, in …

Challenging Racism isn’t Anti-Semitic

Weirdly, even some self-declared “anti-fascists” who claim to be intent on “punching Nazis” get uncomfortable when you criticize the Jewish Defense League.

In an incident akin to Canadians organizing to thwart freedom riders during the US civil rights movement, the Toronto-based JDL organized a mob that attacked protesters at last month’s American Israel Public Affairs Committee conference in Washington DC. Over the past decade the JDL has built itself up by aggressively harassing pro-Palestinian activists in Toronto, which has won them active or passive support from much of the Jewish establishment, dominant media and the city’s broader power structure. As I was …

The Unbearable Lightness of Union Contract Language

By now most labor union officials in the country have heard about and are rejoicing over the “grammatical” U.S. Appellate Court ruling that favored dairy drivers in Maine.

Given how rare it is for unions to win anything these days—whether in federal court, at the bargaining table, or in the court of public opinion—this ruling, minor as it was, counted as a significant victory.  We’ll take it.

Essentially, what happened was this:  Maine dairy drivers argued that because there was no “Oxford comma” used to clearly delineate the intent of the overtime language, their union contract entitled them to premium pay.

The company …

How did al-Qaeda know in advance about the Syrian air strike?

There is an anomaly among the evidence that the Syrian chemical weapons attack at Khan Sheikhoun in Idlib province on April 4, 2017 was a “false flag” operation, designed to provoke a US attack on Syria. The evidence is otherwise quite strong, as put forth by former Pentagon consultant and MIT professor Theodore Postol in his three part analysis of the declassified White House Report on the Syrian chemical weapons attack of April 4, 2017. Postol’s analysis has been widely cited as disproving the White House contention that the Syrian Air Force bombed the “rebel” controlled village with …

Theresa May’s Snap General Election: The Mother of All U-Turns

Theresa May ruled out an early snap general election on the Andrew Marr show on 4 September 2016 on the grounds that the country needed stability.I think the next election will be in 2020, she said. Fast-forward to 18 April 2017, explaining her decision to hold a general election on 8 June 2017, she said:

Since I became Prime Minister I have said there should be no election until 2020 but now I have concluded that the only way to guarantee certainty and stability for the years ahead is to hold this election and seek your support for the

U.S. and Turkey Have Long been Aware of ISIS’ Chemical Weapons

Recently, Syria and Iraq have witnessed increased chemical weapon usage. In Khan Sheikhoun, a performance was staged to accuse the Syrian government while in Iraq’s Mosul, the situation is quite contrary – the besieged ISIS militants used chemical agents chlorine and mustard gas against the Iraqi troops.

The first reports of ISIS developing chemical weapons appeared in November, 2015. Then, the AP, basing on the information of the U.S. and Iraqi intelligences, stated that the terrorists were actively developing chemical agents with the assistance of highly qualified specialists from Iraq, Syria and other Middle East states.

As known, …

President Trump’s Disappearance

In my long experience in Washington, vice presidents did not make major foreign policy announcements or threaten other countries with war. Not even Dick Cheney stole this role from the weak president George W. Bush.

But yesterday the world witnessed VP Pence threaten North Korea with war. “The sword stands ready,” said Pence as if he is the commander in chief.

Perhaps he is.

Where is Trump? As far as I can tell from the numerous emails I receive from him, he is at work marketing his presidency. Once Trump won the election, I began receiving endless offers to purchase Trump baseball caps, …

Trump: In North Korea You will be Murdering Human Beings

When I think about North Korea, what first comes to my mind is a mist over the calm and majestic surface of the Taedong River near Pyongyang. Next I always recall two lovers, locked in a tender and almost desperate embrace, sitting side by side on the shore. I saw them every day, while taking brisk walks at dawn. Now I don’t know for sure whether they were real or just a product of my fantasy; a sad and gentle reminder of all that has been already lost, as well as of all that should have happened but never really …

When Daesh is Defeated: Who Will Fill the Intellectual Vacuum in the Arab World?

Back in the Middle East for a few months, I find myself astounded by the absence of the strong voices of Arab intellectuals.

The region that has given rise to the likes of Michel Aflaq, George Habash, Rached al-Ghannouchi, Edward Said and numerous others has marginalized its intellectuals.

Arab visionaries have either been coopted by the exuberant funds allocated to sectarian propaganda, been silenced by fear of retribution, or are simply unable to articulate a collective vision that transcends their sects, religions or whatever political tribe they belong to.

This void created by the absence of Arab intellectuals (reduced to talking heads with …

An End to UN Occupation of Haiti, but Abuses Remain

Last week the UN Security Council finally voted to end its military occupation of Haiti. Instigated by the US, France and Canada, it has been responsible for countless abuses during the past 13 years.

At the same time as the Security Council voted to draw down its military force (a police contingent will remain), the Associated Press published an in-depth investigation confirming widespread sexual abuse by UN troops in Haiti. The foreign soldiers had sex with minors, sodomized boys and raped young girls. An internal UN report uncovered by AP implicated 134 Sri Lankan troops in a sex ring that …

Karmic Disaster: The Debt Comes Due

Hindu scriptures teach that anyone who kills or causes harm to other sentient beings is in for a big dose of Bad Karma as a result. The shit can hit the fan in this lifetime or in some future reincarnation, but it will happen. Not that I personally subscribe to Hinduism or any other religion, but I do believe that there’s a large dose of merit in their world view. A lot can be said for lifestyles which involve veganism and peaceful coexistence with our fellow beings. Stray from the path, commit the crime, and you’ll eventually do the time. …

Nuking The West Coast: BBC News Massively Hypes North Korean “Threat” To The United States

One of the longstanding functions of the ‘mainstream’ media is to channel government ideology about who are ‘the Good Guys’ – that’s ‘us’ and our allies – and who are the ‘Bad Guys’ – ‘Putin’s Russia’, ‘Saddam’s Iraq’, ‘Chavez’s Venezuela’, ‘Gaddafi’s Libya’ (until rehabilitated for a while by Blair) and North Korea.

Of course, ‘we’ often help ‘Bad Guys’ into power, even give them poison gas, sell them arms, and support them through thick and thin. But let’s put all that to one side.

Consider a recent …