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How America Screws up the World without Its People Knowing What Is Happening

Brian Williams, American television network anchor caught telling his audience a fantasy version of his experience on a foreign assignment, has unintentionally provided us with a near perfect allegory and tale of caution about American journalism and the role it plays in politics and foreign affairs.

I am not referring to the fact that a number of prominent Americans have done exactly the same thing Williams did making false public claims of risky deeds, this Münchausen-like condition being surprisingly common among American politicians. Hillary Clinton, in her 2008 nomination campaign, claimed she came under fire in Tuzla, Boznia in 1996, …

NATO: Creating Crises

Talk about a contrived crisis. NATO, in its ongoing struggle to create enemies and thereby provide itself with a reason to exist, is now calling Russia its greatest threat. In other words, there really is no threat, unless NATO provokes Moscow and in doing so, creates one. In the current period—one that was preceded most recently by almost complete military domination of the world by the United States—Russia’s recent and relatively mild reactions to its growing encirclement by US client regimes and NATO military forces has been ratcheted up to what NATO is calling the greatest threat faced …

Education Has Little to do with Knowledge

Information for the Chinese Mind

As I was leaving India, which is, according to the Empire “the largest democracy on Earth”, a flight hostess of Qatar Airways distributed, even before take-off, copies of the International New York Times. One of its cover stories was titled “China sounds alarm on ideas from West, with a big exception”.

In its usual vitriolic manner, a newspaper that could easily be described as the flagship of official Western propaganda, commented:

“They are out there, hiding in library stacks, whispering in lecture halls, armed with dangerous textbooks and subversive pop quizzes: foreign enemies plotting a stealthy academic invasion …

Rounding up on Kayla Mueller

How Some Conservatives thanked ISIS

Buh-bye, Kayla.  Have fun with your 72 Yasser Arafats.
— Debbie Schussel, February 10, 2014

The circumstances of her death are still coming to the fore.  Aid worker and activist Kayla Mueller, an ISIS hostage captured in August 2013, supposedly died in a Jordanian air raid on February 6.  While much of the commemorative nature of Mueller’s death veered into the land of over sweetened reminiscences and nobility, an undercurrent of dislike bubbled to the surface.

The rejoicing and scolding did not take long to slither their way into the public arena.  But what was striking about the vitriol was that you could …

The Terrorist Feels No Shame

It is crowded on the Gaza Strip. Very few playgrounds. Besides being crowded, it is also dangerous. Traps everywhere. Houses that were bombed to rubble during the last war have not been reconstructed. Children playing in the rubble get injured. Walls collapse, unexploded ordinances detonate when played with. Everything is missing to recreate the home that disappeared during the bombing. There is no cement, iron bars, aggregates, pipes, tools, wood. There is no electricity, water or sewage management. Everything must be imported and the tunnels are few and narrow.

Now the war has restarted.

The young cousins meet outside the house. A …

Become Ocean, A Grammy Star

Become Ocean, composed by John Luther Adams, commissioned and performed by Ludovic Morlot, music director, Seattle Symphony Orchestra, won the Grammy for best contemporary classical composition, February 2015.

Indeed, Mr. Adams also won the Pulitzer Prize for the same haunting orchestral piece, suggesting a “relentless tidal surge, evoking thoughts of melting polar ice and rising sea levels,”  (2014 Pulitzer Prize Winners, Music.)

Thus and so, global warming gains recognition within a vanguard of artistic creation, on stage in orchestral performance, the Seattle Symphony Orchestra’s first-ever Grammy, 2015.

John Luther Adams (Fairbanks, Alaska) has long been inspired by the expansive, untamed landscape of …

The Public Officials Who Need Locking Up

If there is one story that encapsulates the corruption of public life at every level, it is the latest revelations about HSBC’s Swiss bank helping thousands of clients evade tax. Some £78 billion was stashed away, out of sight of the tax authorities of various countries.

HSBC was praised in the UK after the banking crash for being the “clean” bank, the one that didn’t need a massive bail-out from public money for the semi-legal but wholly unethical practices the other banks were engaged in. Maybe that was because HSBC preferred to engage in completely illegal practices.

The man who sat atop this global money-laundering …

The Absurdity Awareness Support Group

It would be in a place you’d recognize immediately: just another dark, clean, church basement, in an old church near a bus stop. With fluorescent lighting and folding chairs. Cool and quiet inside, with a reassuring, but somehow melancholy feel. Only the ones who’ve dropped out of the light, become invisible to the rest of the fast-moving, forward-racing world, would go there. The losers, the ones who’ve fallen in the race and sit on the sidelines as the others speed on out of sight, holding their sides and gasping, baffled and exhausted and sad.

Generally sparsely attended, with perhaps a few …

Mending “Axis of Resistance”: Hamas Returns to the Start

Despite its success of repelling Israeli military advances in Gaza, Hamas’s regional political maneuvers of recent years are not bearing fruits. Jointly isolated by Israel and other Arab parties, unaided by the Palestinian Authority (PA) of Mahmoud Abbas, the Islamic Resistance Movement is once again facing difficult choices, and it seems to be choosing a cautious return to its old camp of Iran and Hezbollah. The maneuver this time is particularly risky.

Hamas’ other options, however, are too limited or simply don’t exist. The movement is facing formidable challenges: a mired economy, ruined infrastructure, destroyed Rafah tunnels and a persisting …

First Causes, Last Rites

Nothing Radicalizes like Unprovoked Violence

You may have noticed that nearly every essay or article emerging from the underfunded ghettos of leftist thinking in this country in the wake of a terrorist atrocity immediately offers a firm and frequently hysterical disclaimer that the author does not approve of the terrorist atrocity he will now discuss. This is necessary because the intelligentsia has conflated any form of self-criticism with condoning terror. It may be perfectly apt to reflect on “how good we are,” as George W. Bush once mumbled. It may be admirable to haughtily meditate on the liberties enshrined in that hallowed scroll hidden in …

Capital Must Be Taxed

In the 1940s, following decades of booms, busts, unemployment, disorder, wars and destruction, rigid free market policies were abandoned. Governments began to deliberately act to maintain employment and market demand. This shift was identified with J.M. Keynes, a prominent British economist and government adviser who had made the case that classical economics was wrong. Depressions, he wrote, were not caused by a decline in the supply of capital but by a fall in demand caused by declining wages and rising unemployment.

During Keynesian times, until the late 1970s, economies and employment grew steadily. Democracy came to mean that governments had a …

War in Ukraine: Who Wants War? And Who Doesn’t?

“Russian aggression” – the bad faith mantra of dishonest brokers

Just as NATO allies Germany and France were undertaking a peace initiative with Russia and Ukraine, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry turned up in Kiev at the same time, seeking to poison the talks before they started by spouting yet again the ritual U.S. accusation of “Russian aggression.” The incantation is meaningless without context. Its purpose is mesmerize a false consciousness. “Russian aggression” may or may not exist in the events of the past year, just like “Russian self-defense.” Reporting on the ground has been too unreliable to support …

Noam Chomsky and BDS

The "responsibility of intellectuals?"

Noam Chomsky’s critique of the boycott/divestment/sanctions movement against Israel, which is in solidarity with the Palestinian people, has attracted wide attention. The Nation, where his article appeared, published five responses, to which Chomsky responded, and at least five appeared independently. (( “Responses to Noam Chomsky on Israel-Palestine and BDS,” Yosef Munayyer, et al. July 10, 2014 (August 24, 2014). “On Israel-Palestine and BDS: Chomsky Replies,” July …

Alabama Cops Brutalize Indian National for Walking While Brown

A Case of mstaken identity?

Now comes word from that a 57-year-old Indian citizen was severely injured when northern Alabama police body-slammed him to the ground for looking and acting “suspicious.”

Sureshbhai Patel, an Indian national and permanent resident of the US, had only arrived in Huntsville one week before the incident occurred. He had migrated from India to assist his son Chirag Patel, an engineer, and daughter-in-law in raising their handicapped child.

Henry F. Sherrod, a civil rights attorney from Florence, Alabama, is quoted by Aljazeera thusly:

He was just out for a walk, and apparently someone made a suspicious person

Leaking Against the Impossible

John Kiriakou, Torture and Whistleblowing

What about the CIA officers who directly violated the law, who carried out interrogations that resulted in death? What about the torturers of Hassan Ghul?
— John Kiriakou, Democracy Now!, February 10, 2014

He was the only agent of the Central Intelligence Agency to blow the otherwise hesitant whistle on the torture program made infamous by the Bush administration. And for all that good grace, he paid with a prison sentence, having violated the covenant of the espionage service. In 2007, John Kiriakou publicly confirmed and noted the use of waterboarding by agents in dealing with terrorist suspects. And it hardly came …

German Sociologists on Crimea’s Choice

A few days ago an interesting study, “The Socio-Political Sentiments in Crimea,” was released by the Ukrainian branch of GFK, the well-known German social research organization, as part of the Free Crimea initiative. Intriguingly, the primary objectives of this project, launched with the support of the governmental Canada Fund for Local Initiatives, were to “debunk aggressive Russian propaganda” and to “reintegrate Crimea into Ukraine.” Thus the researchers can hardly be suspected of being Russian sympathizers. So let’s take a look at the results.

The attitudes of Crimeans were studied in January 2015. This representative sample included 800 respondents living …

When Guerrilla Warfare Defeated Terrorism in Cuba

We have found, then, that we wish for the end, and deliberate and decide about what promotes it; hence the actions concerned with what promotes the end will express a decision and will be voluntary.
– Aristotle

Guerrilla warfare may be categorically different from terrorism, but definition alone does not make the two mutually exclusive. This is vital to acknowledge, as actors may use guerrilla tactics and terrorism in tandem to determine their desired political outcome. For the Cuban Revolution, however, such was not the case. This revolutionary struggle for liberation, which ousted Cuba’s unconstitutional Batista dictatorship of the 1950s, did not …

Planetary Suicide

Every so often a nonfiction book comes along that, because of its objective, comprehensive coverage of a hot topic, should be carefully read with a highlighter in hand by everyone.  That new book is Unprecedented by David Ray Griffin.  Be warned, this book will probably bum you out.  It presents the most readable treatment of the global warming and climate change issue that anyone could wish for.  It is not an emotional rant, but rather a carefully organized and detailed discussion.  Most significantly, with carefully documented sources, it allows a reader to fully appreciate the compelling and …

Why Public Banks Outperform Private Banks

Unfair Competition or a Better Mousetrap?

Public banks in North Dakota, Germany and Switzerland have been shown to outperform their private counterparts. Under the TPP and TTIP, however, publicly-owned banks on both sides of the oceans might wind up getting sued for unfair competition because they have advantages not available to private banks.

In November 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Bank of North Dakota (BND), the nation’s only state-owned bank, “is more profitable than Goldman Sachs Group Inc., has a better credit rating than J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. and hasn’t seen profit growth drop since 2003.” The article credited the shale oil boom; but …

The Shift

We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person oriented society: when machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism and militarism are incapable of being conquered.

— Martin Luther King Jr., “Beyond Vietnam

Here in Lexington federal prison, Atwood Hall defies the normal Bureau of Prisons fixation on gleaming floors and spotless surfaces. Creaky, rusty, full of peeling paint, chipped tiles, and leaky plumbing, Atwood just won’t pass muster.

But of the four federal prisons I’ve lived in, this particular “unit” may be the …