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Dysfunctional Hagiography: Australia and the Passing of Gough Whitlam

The punters know that the horse named Morality rarely gets past the post, whereas the nag named Self-interest always runs a good race.
— Gough Whitlam, Daily Telegraph, October 19, 1989

Hagiography is the curse of the Australian Labor movement. It is a movement that searches for, and craves, mythical figures and myths. Such a phenomenon might be termed mummification, and detracts from closer examination. There is no greater mythic hero for that tradition than Gough Whitlam, who died at 98. In his brief period as Prime Minister, between 1972 and the infamous dismissal by the Governor-General in 1975, Australia nudged its …

“My Father was Killed by a Computer”, says 7 Year Old Afghan Child

Imal, a 7 year old Afghan student in the 2nd grade, came to visit us in Kabul.

As Imal grew up, he kept asking his mother where his father was. His mother finally told Imal that his father had been killed by a drone when he was still a baby.

If you could see Imal in this video, you would want to hug him immediately.

If Imal were a white American kid, this tragedy would not have befallen his father. Which American would allow any U.S. citizen to be killed by a foreign drone?

Suppose the UK wanted to hunt ‘terrorists’ in the …

Zionism, US Imperialism, and the Occupation of Palestine

The Israeli military went again on a rampage against the ghettoized people in the Gaza strip. The last time, they “visited” the walled-in strip at the turn of the year 2008/09, they slaughtered 1400 Palestinians. In 2014, they killed over 2100 Palestinians, 80 per cent civilians, injured over 10 000, made over 300 000 homeless and ravaged the infrastructure. Israel’s patron, the US Empire, did not lift a finger in 2008/09; neither did it this time. This one-sided relationship is analyzed by James Petras, an award-winning author and Professor Emeritus, in The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel

Stop the Killing

On August 9, 1983, three people dressed as U.S. soldiers saluted their way onto a U.S. military base and climbed a pine tree. The base contained a school training elite Salvadoran and other foreign troops to serve dictatorships back home, with a record of nightmarish brutality following graduation. That night, once the base’s lights went out, the students of this school heard, coming down from on high, the voice of Archbishop Oscar Romero.

I want to make a special appeal to soldiers, national guardsmen, and policemen: each of you is one of us. The peasants you kill are your own brothers

What if Climate Change is Worse Than We Thought?

It is worse than we thought!

New studies about the warming of the planet and the risk of massive release of methane from the Arctic are “worse than we thought.”

As it goes, the danger to human existence; i.e., to a nice long life on the planet, is obscured from the public by innocence of happenstance, as follows: The climate change issue, as it is embodied within public discourse, masks the true impact of the problem because of the amplitude of public discussion. This, therefore, inadvertently makes the climate change issue seem ordinary, not at all out of the ordinary. As it …

Surveillance Reform Theater

Recently 60 Minutes aired a segment where FBI Director James Comey described how he threatened to quit as acting Attorney General back in 2004 rather than reauthorize warrantless wiretapping programs. He also described an old Hoover-era memo that he keeps on his desk as a reminder of what not to do. The memo is a request by J. Edgar Hoover to conduct “technical surveillance” on Martin Luther King Jr. The basic impression that 60 Minutes viewers come away with is that James Comey is a man who is “deeply skeptical of government power.”

This 20-minute biopic was likely timed in …

The Evolution of Greed

From FDIC to bail-ins

You’re not going to believe this, but there was a time – actually about 65 years ago – when the financial world, at least the securities-trading world, the world we call Wall Street, was actually dependent on a foundational principle of honesty and integrity. Now I’ll just pause for a moment and allow the laughter, whistling and foot-stomping to subside before continuing. There. Everybody finished now?

Okay. I said foundational. If you think about it, it had to be that way and it was. Oh, I know all …

Beyond Critical Thinking

To understand Denis Rancourt and his book, Hierarchy and Free Expression in the Fight Against Racism, you have to know the difference between critical thinking and independent thinking.

Critical thinking is nothing special. Every college student is taught to do it, to prepare for employment fielding matters for employers. On the job, critical thinking amounts to little more than the ability to say, “The boss isn’t going to like this.” You don’t need your own ideology to say that. You need only understand the boss’s ideology and use it to guide your work.

The safest way to …

Ebola! Prevention and Responsibility

Ebola! Ebola! Ebola! The word is everywhere—the name of the deadly virus from West Africa with a seventy percent fatality rate. A sense of dread and dismay is beginning to spread through our country. Asking vital questions will shed light on how to stop the spread of the current outbreak as well as prevent future outbreaks. Policies impacting both infectious diseases and those institutions that focus on treating, curing and stemming outbreaks need to be reworked to offer stronger support for nations with almost no public health facilities.

Since Ebola was first detected in the Congo by the Ebola River in …

The Great Unhinging

The defining economic challenge of our time is secular stagnation. It is the risk of inadequate growth, leading to inadequate potential, leading to inadequate growth.

Lawrence H. Summers, former U. S. Treasury secretary, now teaching at Harvard

Summers uses jargon familiar to those who make financial policy, teach at Harvard, and are in the process of destroying more of the earth and its people for short-term private profits that guarantee long-term public loss.

Did you know that the signs of systemic breakdown we are experiencing were due to “secular stagnation”? You would have if you majored in the theological economics that …

13 Years of Permanent War: Unite Peace and Climate Movements

This month of October presents us with 13 years of permanent war for profit or, as the warmongers call it, the “war against terror”. This “operation” is killing and maiming millions of people especially in the oil rich Middle East. Simultaneously these Juggernaut nations “of the willing” are choking Mother Earth to death—polluting the air we breathe, the water we drink, the soil that spawns our food, and eradicating millions of species.

Most people are clearly aware that the main cause of climate change, which is destroying the planet, is human motivated. And many are acting against this. But most environmental …

History of Key Document in IAEA Probe Suggests Israeli Forgery

Washington, October 17, 2014 (IPS) — Western diplomats have reportedly faulted Iran in recent weeks for failing to provide the International Atomic Energy Agency with information on experiments on high explosives intended to produce a nuclear weapon, according to an intelligence document the IAEA is investigating.

But the document not only remains unverified but can only be linked to Iran by a far-fetched official account marked by a series of coincidences related to a foreign scientist that that are highly suspicious.

The original appearance of the document in early 2008, moreover, was not only conveniently timed to support Israel’s attack on a …

The Islamist State: Who Not to Believe

The Anti-Empire Report #133

The Islamist State

You can’t believe a word the United States or its mainstream media say about the current conflict involving The Islamic State (ISIS).

You can’t believe a word France or the United Kingdom say about ISIS.

You can’t believe a word Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, or the United Arab Emirates say about ISIS. Can you say for sure which side of the conflict any of these mideast countries actually finances, arms, or trains, if, in fact, it’s only one side? Why do they allow their angry young men to join Islamic extremists? Why has NATO-member Turkey allowed so many …

California Leads the Way in the “Block the Boat” Movement

A new phase is developing in the US Palestinian solidarity movement: Block the Boat.

In organizing theory, activists often emphasize the importance of formulating what they call an “escalation plan.” When pushing for social change, they explain, it is important that one’s methods of exerting pressure on power slowly grow in strength, not remain stagnant.

Block the Boat is the next step in the escalation plan of US Palestinian solidarity activists. The idea of Block the Boat is quite simple: Hundreds of activists organize a protest in a local dock and prevent Israeli ships from unloading cargo.

The action has its origins in …

American Unawareness

Is America’s folk image of itself derived from a cinematic narrative that defines its national character as one representing a ‘can-do-force’ fostering trade in the world for the common good? To date, American settler culture has tried to mould the rest of the world — unsuccessfully — into this ‘productive’ image of itself via hard power. The more the American Empire Enterprise garrisons the globe with military bases, the more skeptical the world community becomes. The time has come, it seems, for the spirit and energy of the American people to address itself more diplomatically to the world community. The task of creating a whole new soft power for the purpose of defining …

The Absurd Illusions of a Shining City on a Hill

The average natural born citizen in any country is continuously indoctrinated into the national culture starting about the time they begin understanding the meaning of words. There’s one country in particular where reality is staring the public in the face, but the truth has been grossly distorted for decades by government, and mass media, bias and propaganda. If the citizens would suddenly see the truth, instead of what they’ve been conditioned to believe, they would find themselves in a strange and bizarre foreign land that’s contrary in many ways to their personal beliefs regarding home. For those who experience this …

A Sordid Mix of Murder and Racism

In 1771 in the North Carolina colony, Justice Martin Howard condemned a grand jury that refused to consider a murder charge after a white man was accused of the murder of his African slave. Apparently, the grand jury did not consider the killing by a white man of a Negro slave to be murder.  In 2012, the murder of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman followed by Zimmerman’s subsequent acquittal of the crime took much of white United States by surprise.  These Americans had convinced themselves that Black men were treated the same as every other resident of the United States …

A Caliph in a Wilderness of Mirrors

I’m aiming at you, lover
Cause killing you is killing myself

— Orson Welles (director), The Lady from Shanghai, 1947

He’s invincible. He beheads. He smuggles. He conquers. He’s the ultimate jack-of-all-trades. No Tomahawk or Hellfire can touch him. He always gets what he wants; in Kobani; in Anbar province; with the House of Saud (which he wants to replace) trying to make Putin (who he wants to behead) suffer because of low oil prices.

If this was a remake of Orson Welles’s noir classic The Lady from Shanghai, in the mirror sequence the lawyer (American?) and the femme fatale (Shi’ite?) …

The Rule for Respectable Commentary

There is a simple rule that is followed scrupulously by U.S. commentators of every stripe on world affairs and war – with a very few notable exceptions, Paul Craig Roberts and Pepe Escobar among them.

This rule allows strong criticism of the U.S. But major official adversaries of the U.S., Iran, Russia and China, must never, ever be presented as better than the US in any significant way. The US may be depicted as equally bad (or better) than these enemies, but never worse.

The Rule

Major Adversaries: Never better than the U.S.
U.S. (and the rest of West): Never worse than the …

Bashing Obama to Make Way for Hillary

Three years ago, during the height of the Occupy movement, I was ejected from a Congressional hearing for allegedly “assaulting” Leon Panetta, then Secretary of Defense and former Director of the CIA. He was testifying to the House Armed Services Committee about “lessons learned by the Department of Defense over the preceding decade.” I jumped out of my audience seat to tell him that young people were paying the price of those “lessons,” and we were sick of the government funding war instead of education. The baseless assault charges against me were ultimately dropped.
A few years and trillions …