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Music to the Ears: Music Therapists Tap into the Sick, the Old, the Disabused

New research pinpoints how music helps heal PTSD, restore memories, rebuild neuron pathways

Note: Alive Inside just came out, about music therapy. My work here is for my regular gig as a writer – Spokane Magazine. It is currently out. Before my piece, a compelling quote from an MD from the documentary, Alive Inside.

Dr. Bill Thomas, a gerontologist and advocate for long-term care reform, points out the film, “The health care system imagines the human being to be a very complicated machine. We have medicines that can adjust the dials, but we haven’t done anything medically speaking to touch the heart and soul of the patient.

“What we’re spending on drugs that

Pipe Dream Version 2.0

When in the course of human destiny the aggressions of a Government against the people it has been formed to protect become so untenable and egregious as to threaten the security and freedom of that people, it is the sacred duty and obligation of said people to detach from and dissolve that Government until such a time arises when it is safe to once more reconstitute the union with the proper assurances allowed for that prove conditions have been made congruent and agreeable with the basic God-given rights that all people are naturally born with, including among these: the right …

Broken Windows, Workfare, and the Battle for Public Space in Giuliani’s New York

Part 1

Daniel Pantaleo, the rogue police officer who choked the unarmed 43-year-old Black man named Eric Garner to death for allegedly selling single untaxed cigarettes, will not go to trial. Garner was murdered on July 17, 2014 in his native borough of Staten Island. A grandfather as well as a father of six, Garner had previously submitted a complaint in federal court in 2007 after an officer conducted a cavity search on him in a public street. In …

More Than a Number

Any conditions that compel the teacher to take note of failures rather than of healthy growth give false standards and result in distortion and perversion.

— John Dewey

School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam.

— Albert Einstein

It is widely recognized that …

US-Cuba Policy Change: Score 11-1, US Wins

The United States of America, the global policeman, is “changing its relationship with the people of Cuba”, as President Barack Obama put it. With this announcement of a resumption of diplomatic relations after John F. Kennedy severed them January 1, 1961 we need to evaluate what is behind it and what is positive and negative.

By Ron RideourI feel compelled to spell out my take on this new policy after having Cuba in my heart for five decades, from the day of my first protest during …

Free Fall of the Ruble: Who’s Behind it? A Ploy of Russia’s Economic Wizards? Whose Chess Game?

The world is still hell-bent for hydrocarbon-based energy. Russia is one of the world’s largest producer of energy. Russia has recently announced that in the future she will no longer trade energy in US dollars, but in rubles and currencies of the trading partners. In fact, this rule will apply to all trading. Russia and China are detaching their economies from that of the western financial system. To confirm this decision, in July 2014 Russia’s Gazprom concluded a 400 billion gas deal with China, and in November this year they signed an additional slightly smaller contract – all to be

Zombie Apocalypse and the Politics of Artificial Scarcity

Dystopian narratives have long been an alluring and thought-provoking form of entertainment, especially for those who take an interest in studying social and political structures. From classics like Nineteen Eighty-Four and Brave New World to the current hit, The Hunger Games, these stories play on our fears while simultaneously serving as warning signs for the future.

Their attractiveness within American society is not surprising. Our lives are driven by fear. Fear leads us to spend and consume; fear leads us to withdraw from our communities; and fear leads us to apathy regarding our own social and political processes. This fear is …

Russian Roulette: Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for Trillions in Oil Derivatives

The sudden dramatic collapse in the price of oil appears to be an act of geopolitical warfare against Russia. The result could be trillions of dollars in oil derivative losses; and the FDIC could be liable, following repeal of key portions of the Dodd-Frank Act last weekend.

Senator Elizabeth Warren charged Citigroup last week with “holding government funding hostage to ram through its government bailout provision.” At issue was a section in the omnibus budget bill repealing the Lincoln Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, which protected depositor funds by requiring the largest banks to push out a portion of their derivatives …

American Exceptionalism and American Torture

The Anti-Empire Report #135

In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds.

That’s how they handle such matters in what used to be called The Third World. In the First World, however, they have no need for such legal niceties. In the United States, military torturers and their political godfathers …

Regime Change In Cuba

What Does Normalization of Relations mean?

Paul Craig Roberts views normalization of relations with Cuba as a Trojan horse for a US corporate takeover of the Communist island. Is this the beginning of the end for the Cuban Revolution?

The Invasion of Panama

The Proclamation of a Lone Superpower above the Law

Twenty five years ago, before dawn on December 20, 1989, U.S. forces descended on Panama City and unleashed one of the most violent, destructive terror attacks of the century. U.S. soldiers killed more people than were killed on 9/11. They systematically burned apartment buildings and shot people indiscriminately in the streets. Dead bodies were piled on top of each other; many were burned before identification. The aggression was condemned internationally, but the message was clear: the United States military was free to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and they would not be bound by ethics or laws.

The invasion …

Is Your Doctor Paid by Big Pharma?

There is good news and bad news when it comes to conflicts of interest (COI) between the drug industry and clinical medicine. The good news is the “Sunshine Act,” part of the Affordable Care Act, has been implemented and many drug company web sites now list the payouts–including to “grassroots” groups that are actually Pharma fronts like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The bad news is that editors and publishers sill cooperate with pulling the wool over the public’ eyes when it comes to conflicts of interest. Here are some …

Edward Snowden and the NSA Disclosures

Was it all a Waste?

Disclosures from the vast trove of NSA documents obtained by Edward Snowden were first published in The Guardian exactly 560 days ago, and it’s worth asking ourselves whether we have gained anything from the revelations since then. The answer to that question increasingly seems clear: no.

I agreed with the publication of those documents and was appalled by the breadth and depth of America’s surveillance state apparatus. I agree with the principle that those who would trade security for freedom deserve neither. (For a reminder on just how wide-reaching the NSA’s capabilities are, this timeline of …

The Dead End of the Post-Oslo Diplomacy: What Next?

TFF brings excerpts of a longer analysis by professor Richard Falk who until recently also served as the UN Secretary-General’s envoy for the Occupied Territories.

His main argument is that the process of recognising Palestine and the Palestine Authority’s initiative at the UN Security Council will turn out to be futile unless accompanied by an entirely new approach consisting of a global civil society movement — citizens rather than government diplomacy.

*****

The Palestinian Authority will seek a vote in the Security Council on a resolution mandating Israel’s military withdrawal from Occupied Palestine no later than November …

Splendid Isolation

Almost a thousand Israeli personalities have already signed an appeal to European parliaments for their governments to recognize the State of Palestine.

I am honored to be among the signatories, which include former ministers and members of the Knesset, diplomats and generals, artists and businessmen, writers and poets, including Israel’s three outstanding writers Amos Oz, David Grossman and A. B. Yehoshua.

We believe that the independence of the Palestinian people in a state of their own, next to the State of Israel, is the basis for peace, and therefore as important for Israelis as it is for Palestinians. This, by the …

Questioning Christian Dogma

This year as in every other year, Christianity and fundamentalist capitalism, two great allies, are joining their forces to extract billions of dollars, all over the world, mainly from the poor.

As money flies towards the coffers of the church and into corporate accounts, over-sugary, kitschy Christmas carols and gospels are soaring out from the audio systems of department stores and malls all over the Empire and in almost all of its colonies (Saudi Arabia being an exception).

‘White Christmas’ is re-enacted and faked in the steaming-hot tropical ‘client states’, into where Christianity with all its nomenclature was forcefully injected decades and …

Playing with the Holocaust

Netanyahu’s Throw of the Dice

The iron hand crush’d the tyrant’s head,
And became a tyrant in his stead.

— William Blake, The Grey Monk

The use of historical suffering is standard fare for the descendants. The descendants of history’s victims tend to be the modern day avengers. History’s record is not so much to be righted as washed, cleansed and made anew.
When the political reserves are empty, forms of credit have to be found. In the historical context, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has often had an enormous reserve to draw upon: the terrifying, seemingly bottomless legacy of the Holocaust, the negative …

World Climate Deal Further Away Following Disappointing Peru Talks

Delegates at UN conference struggle with weak agreement

With yet another United Nations-hosted climate change conference making very little real progress, a near miracle will be required if countries are to reach a meaningful and binding global agreement on carbon emissions in Paris next December.

The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ document, agreed to on Sunday by 194 countries, is not a new “deal” for the climate. It is a 12-month work plan leading to COP21 a year from now.

The major change – a victory for rich countries – expects countries with rising economies, such as China, India and South Africa, to take action on climate change in …

Go West Young Han

November 18, 2014: it’s a day that should live forever in history. On that day, in the city of Yiwu in China’s Zhejiang province, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, the first train carrying 82 containers of export goods weighing more than 1,000 tons left a massive warehouse complex heading for Madrid. It arrived on December 9.

Welcome to the new trans-Eurasia choo-choo train. At over 13,000 kilometers, it will regularly traverse the longest freight train route in the world, 40% farther than the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. Its cargo will cross China from East to West, then Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, …

The Problem with Obama’s Cuba Speech

Six years into his Presidency, Barack Obama has finally taken steps he campaigned on in 2008 to normalize relations with Cuba. The new policy towards Cuba will include important changes including establishing formal diplomatic relations, removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and expanding trade relations. However, Obama is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. His rationale for finally abandoning the hard-line Cold War stance demonstrates his belief that the morality and legality of United States actions are beyond reproach.

“In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end …