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Fossil Fuel Lobby: Threat to Meaningful Progress at Paris Climate Talks

In the early-1950s, when it became widely known that smoking caused cancer, giant tobacco companies formed the Tobacco Industry Research Council (TIRC). Its main goal was to deny the harmful effects of tobacco and confuse the public.
The tobacco lobby wormed its way into the United Nations’ World Health Organization (WHO), wreaking havoc and slowing the WHO’s efforts to reduce the growing number of cancer deaths.
Realizing that the tobacco corporations were obstructing progress, the WHO finally built a firewall between public health officials and industry lobbyists. Only then was it possible to better control tobacco.
Flash …

The Ferguson Effect

This week we bring you black and brown power worldwide as peeps from Manila to Chicago fight the powers that be. In the Philippines, anti-capitalist warriors told APEC leaders to pack up and get the fuck out of dodge, while comrades in Minneapolis took a page from the Ferguson riots, and stormed a police station and in Chi-town, a strong reaction to the Laquan McDonald shooting tape. On the music break Argentine-French rapper, Keny Arkana with “Gens Pressés.” In our featured interview, climate change journalist Dahr Jamail tells us just how fucked we are and what we need to …

Warring France

The fear that is gripping France today stands in ghastly contrast with the positive national mood during the days immediately following the horrific Nov. 13 attacks in Paris.

Two weeks ago, the French people gallantly defied fear by gathering out of doors to share grief, affirm solidarity and demonstrate their love of peace and of freedom. Last weekend, the streets were deserted (it’s true the weather turned cold) and soldiers with submachine guns were on patrol. The nights have been punctuated by unnecessarily brutal SWAT-team style commando raids on mosques (two here …

Emerging from the Fog of Capitalism: New Dawns

Part I -- Yawning out of the Insanity with a new book

Finished the first draft of a book about my commentary looking at the belly of the beast from the lower intestine up at the unending gluttony of Capitalism. It feels good, and I am ready to send it to the publisher, after a fellow dissident — John Steppling — looks at it, and, I hope writes a bang up introduction to inculcate some magic from my muses. As always, though, being hyper precarious in this rot gut society, I can’t see much these days as worthy of celebratory zeal to the point of letting my guard down.

The book is …

McRaven’s Delusional, Dangerous National Security Strategy

Bill McRaven is a highly respected retired admiral and popular chancellor of the University of Texas System. But his remarks at a recent conference on national security left me doubting his intellectual and moral fitness to lead institutions of higher education.

While my lack of deference to a boss who is a decorated veteran may seem uppity, it’s important—especially for professors at highly respected public universities—to contest McRaven’s ahistorical analysis, which offers a deluded account of the past and prescribes a dangerous course for the future of U.S. foreign policy.

This statement of McRaven’s captures his main points: “In the …

Little Murders in Retrospect

After their wildly successful anti-war classic Mash, actors Elliott Gould and Donald Sutherland ventured out on a very weak limb and made a film version of a hit and miss Broadway production.  Alan Arkin directed the film and played the part of mentally disturbed Lieutenant Practice of the NYPD.  The year was 1971.  My beautiful baby daughter had just entered the world.  I’d recently been convicted of twice refusing induction into the U.S. Army, and was awaiting my court date for sentencing.  Somehow, amid the mix of joy, sadness, and confusion, my wife and I managed to slip out and take in a movie.  Little Murders would haunt …

Testing the Limits of Liberalism

We live in dark times. For some, the accident of birth provides insulation and safety. A womb-like existence defined by ephemeral exposures, if at all, to the presence of an outside. Simultaneously, an overwhelming majority have the exact opposite experience. Unambiguously marked and categorized in a world not of their making, life itself, seen through the former lens, appears to be a transient game of reactions. The goal of the game is simple — survival. In continuation with this Manichean portrait of the world, my thought will work through two dominant registers. Needless to say, these registers are wholly conceptual; …

How to have a Guilt-Free Thanksgiving

Millions of people over the US will be gathering on Thanksgiving to share a meal together and to give thanks for the people and the blessings in their lives.  As you gather, it’s important to think about the meaning of this celebration, and to challenge the received myths about this problematic holiday.

While some form of harvest celebration is found in most cultures, the historical circumstances of Thanksgiving in the US are deeply intertwined with the oppression and genocide of the indigenous peoples by the settlers.

The anthropologist Levi-Strauss suggests that myth is an attempt to create an imaginary resolution of a real, …

Bank Crimes Pay

Under the Thumb of the Global Financial Mafiocracy

November 13, the United Kingdom’s Serious Fraud Office (SFO) announced it was charging 10 individual bankers, working for two separate banks, Deutsche Bank and Barclays, with fraud over their rigging of the Euribor rates. The latest announcement shines the spotlight once again on the scandals and criminal behavior that have come to define the world of global banking.

To date, only a handful of the world’s largest banks have been repeatedly investigated, charged, fined or settled in relation to a succession of large financial scams, starting with mortgage fraud and the Libor scandal in 2012, the Euribor scandal and the …

Britain to Vote on Bombing Syria

There are Thousands of Reasons Not To

Yesterday Prime Minister David Cameron stood up in Parliament and told all the MPs how very important it was that the United Kingdom joined the orgy of bombing Syria.  He is closely following Tony Blair’s path to Iraq, using fear of ‘terrorism’, exaggerating so-called ‘intelligence’ and wanting desperately to be seen as a tough leader.  In a few days MPs will hold a vote on this and he’s sent them all home to ‘think it over’ during the weekend.

There are many reasons why Members of Parliament should not vote in favour of bombing Syria.  The most obvious reason is that …

Beyond the Life of the Sun: Ecomodernism and its Discontents

Part I: Introduction

Retreat from our predicament is not an option. We must push through the Anthropocene, indeed accelerate our modernity, and accept our species’ dominion over the Earth.
— Leigh Phillips (186)

Though imperceptible to the human primate body, the sun is growing hotter. It is predicted that in about a thousand million years, its temperature will increase to such an extent that the oceans will evaporate, plate tectonics will stop and, in a further two or three billion years, the earth will become uninhabitable for all but the most extreme of extremophiles, those microscopic creatures which can survive anywhere from close …

Obama’s Immigration Reform is “Pure Hypocrisy”

Of Guatemalan origin and an undocumented resident in Chicago, Ilka Oliva Corado is a prolific writer inspired by social struggles for the rights of the undocumented and of sexual diversity and against gender and racial discrimination in the heart of the empire. In this exclusive interview for El Diario de Nuestra América (The Newspaper of Our America), the author analyses with a clear focus the difficult situation of her compatriots in the pre-electoral context of a country governed for seven years by the “first black President in its history.”

Ilka Oliva …

Forget ISIS: Humanity is at Stake

I still remember that smug look on his face, followed by the matter-of-fact remarks that had western journalists laugh out loud.

“I’m now going to show you a picture of the luckiest man in Iraq,” General Norman Schwarzkopf, known as ‘Stormin’ Norman, said at a press conference sometime in 1991, as he showed a video of US bombs blasting an Iraqi bridge, seconds after the Iraqi driver managed to cross it.

But then, a far more unjust invasion and war followed in 2003, following a decade-long siege that cost Iraq a million of its children and …

Ben Carson, Joseph in Egypt, and the Attack on Rational Thought

Joseph built the pyramids to store grain

Joseph in Egypt: A Myth
I confess: I don’t believe in the biblical story of Joseph. Quite aside from the fanciful notion that Joseph built the pyramids for grain storage (as alleged by Republican presidential candidate Ben Carson), I don’t believe in the Bible character himself–any more than I believe in Prometheus, Rama, or the Yellow Emperor of Chinese mythology.
You perhaps recall the story. But I should not assume that, of course. (I am struck by how unfamiliar most of my students, at a highly competitive New England university, are with the Bible. This is in part because they come from …

Turkey’s Actions Show the Despair of the Regime Change Camp

Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet today shows the utter desperation currently sweeping through the regime change camp as Russia closes in on the death squads in Syria – and does so with massive international support.

At 9.30am on Tuesday morning, a Russian SU-24 jet was shot down by Turkish fighter planes. Its pilots were then allegedly killed by Syrian Turkmen anti-government militias, with the body of one paraded on camera in a video that was immediately posted on youtube. Turkey claimed the jet had encroached on Turkish airspace, but Russia maintains the plane was shot down well …

Ten Billion Reasons to Demand System Change

Has the international community left it too late to prevent runaway climate change and widespread ecological degradation? Does the typical citizen and career politician have the inclination to accept the severity of the ‘planetary emergency’, let alone make the lifestyle changes and policy decisions needed to address it? And can the upcoming UN climate negotiations in Paris really signal an end to the unregulated dumping of carbon emissions, or mark a shift away from the business-as-usual approach to economic development?

These are among the many troubling questions that emerge when watching a new documentary written and presented by one of the …

Canadian Mining Abuses in Africa

Two weeks ago police shot and killed an individual at Pacific Wildcat Resources tantalum mine in central Mozambique. The incident received some attention in Canada because community members responded by seizing the Vancouver-based company’s mine site and setting some equipment ablaze.

One protester told O Pais newspaper this wasn’t the first time someone was shot dead at the mine and another said:

We don’t want to see the managers of this company operating in the mine anymore. Otherwise we will take the law into our own hands. The director of the company does not respect us, and we cannot allow someone to come

Bad Policy, Bad Ethics: U.S. Military Bases Abroad

The thesis of anthropologist David Vine’s latest book, Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Abroad Harm America and the World, is taboo in American political discourse. It is a radical notion to suggest that foreign bases don’t protect American interests but actively harm them. Candidates who fail to reflexively support U.S. militarism face a political land mine. Even putative leftist Bernie Sanders has refused to challenge the status quo, in which the United States has 800 foreign military bases while the rest of the world combined has 30.

Vine makes his argument by comprehensively detailing the profligate, unsustainable spending on …

Turkey Has Destroyed Russia’s Hope of Western Cooperation

UPDATE: A friend, George Abert, suggested a reason why the Turks shot down the Russian fighter-bomber over Syria. The Russians have a technology that they recently demonstrated against the newest US missile cruiser and Israel’s US jet fighters. The technology shuts down the communication systems of hostile forces, leaving them blind. He wonders if the Russian aircraft was shot down in order to encourage the Russians to use its unknown technology whenever Russian aircraft are in the vicinity of NATO and Israeli aircraft. He bets that the US has sent every Raven and ELINT specialist to the area in

The Last Black Man Burned at the Stake in Texas

On Saturday, December 2, 1933, a 30-year-old white woman named Nellie Williams Brockman was murdered near Kountze, Texas. Brockman had headed to town to visit a department store and run into trouble along the way. She was shot to death and her body and vehicle were found partially burned. Some folks claimed they had seen a shotgun-wielding black man in the vicinity and law enforcement officials mounted an intense search for the culprit, but turned up nothing.

A few days into the manhunt, the Kountze Police Department received a “secret” tip incriminating a young, African American ex-con …