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Fathers and Sons: The Invisible Ladder

Act 1

Setting: Restaurant, where four middle-age friends, who have known each other since their university days in the early 1970’s, meet for lunch.

Professor: Should we share a bottle of wine?

Lawyer: Why not! There’s no time clock, clients or deadlines.

Social Worker: (smiles). We can afford it!

Doctor: No doubt … we’re drawing pensions, Social Security, and annuities. Medicare covers our medical bills. Mortgages are paid up.

Professor: Someone e-mailed me an announcement about a half-century anniversary of the student strike… back then and when.

Lawyer: Is it that long ago? Seems like …

More Threats from Palestine’s Nasty Neighbour

Israel to extract a heavy price if Palestinians join UN bodies, says minister

US-brokered negotiations with Israel, which started on 29 July 2013 and were to last nine months, are nearing their ignominious end. And Israel, the serial defaulter that it is, has reneged on the agreed release of 104 pre-Oslo prisoners in exchange for Palestine’s postponing joining international organizations to help achieve their long-overdue freedom.

Three phases of the agreed release had taken place, and the final batch of 30 prisoners were due to be handed over on 29 March. When the Israeli government refused to release them the Palestinian embassy in London, on 2 April, announced that President Mahmoud Abbas had signed …

Killer Drones in a Downward Spiral?

Illegal US drone strikes continue (the Long War Journal says there have been 8 drones strikes in Yemen so far in 2014), but efforts to curb the use of killer drones have made remarkable headway this year.

While the faith-based community has taken far too long to address the moral issues posed by remote-controlled killing, on February 13, the World Council of Churches — the largest coalition of Christian churches — came out in opposition to the use of armed drones. The Council said that the use of armed drones poses a “serious threat to humanity” and condemned, in …

Indoctrinating a New Generation

The Anti-Empire Report #127

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

– In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering

Distracted by the Peace Process

What Really Happened During the Talks

There was a mad scramble by Washington last week to prevent the seemingly inevitable – an implosion of the Middle East peace talks. In a last-ditch effort to stop Israel reneging on a promise to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners, the US briefly threw in possibly the biggest bargaining chip in its hand: the release of Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard.

With Israel still dragging its feet, an infuriated Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas submitted applications to join 15 United Nations conventions, thereby reviving a campaign to win international recognition of Palestinian statehood.

Although Washington will continue quietly arm-twisting the two sides …

Whaling Contradictions

Japan, Australia and the International Court of Justice

It has been a long and drawn out affair. For years, Australian environmental activists and political figures have had the Japanese whaling program in their sights.  Every year, between 500 to 1000 whales are slain under a permit program ostensibly authorised by the International Whaling Convention.  The IWC has been a strange creature. It regulates whale hunting, yet has effectively tried stifling commercial hunting by limiting the catch levels to zero since 1986.

Whaling countries, for that reason, have tiptoed around the commercial restrictions by embracing scientific and aboriginal subsistence arguments.  Japan’s own response seemed cunning enough, legitimising the faulty scientific …

J’Accuse! Supreme Court Challenge to Democracy

There is no right in our democracy more basic than the right to participate in electing our political leaders.

— Chief Justice John Roberts, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission

In January 1898 Emile Zola published an impassioned defense of General Alfred Dreyfus, accusing the French government of anti-Semitic bias in convicting the general of treason.  Dreyfus went to Devil’s Island and Zola fled to Great Britain to escape prosecution for libel.  Both Zola and Dreyfus would ultimately be exonerated and the French government shamed in the annals of history.

The title of Zola’s article became the battle cry of the oppressed for generations …

To Save our Planet We Must End Wage Slavery and Rebuild the Commons

Who runs your workplace?

For most of us the answer is a boss, who reports to a higher boss, who reports to an even higher boss, who reports to a … all the way up to the “owner” of the enterprise. This is called a chain of command.

The words “chain” and “command” are both suggestive of a fundamental truth: Today’s rules about the power of bosses and workers evolved from a time of masters, servants and slaves. While many norms and expectations have changed over the years the fundamental truth that bosses give orders and workers are required to obey remains …

Chris Hedges on “Israel’s War on American Universities”

Excerpts from author, foreign correspondent Chris Hedges’ talk at Northeastern University in support of its now banned Students for Justice in Palestine chapter. [Hedges is at his best -- DV editor]

Frame of Reference and Journalistic Integrity

Can writers, can anyone be truly objective? In his article, “Journalism and the Illusion of Objectivity,” Michael Holtzman tackles a topic that impacts media and journalistic integrity. It is correct to question claims to journalistic objectivity and to question the very existence of such a beast as objectivity.

Holtzman wrote, “Nobody can honestly claim an objective perspective.” He links to a source where Barbara Walters claims journalistic objectivity, to which her colleagues agree. That Walters claims objectivity speaks something about her and those around her. Walters’ record stands for itself, and it should be a simple case to go …

Another Fraudulent Jobs Report

The March payroll jobs report released April 4 claims 192,000 new private sector jobs.

Here is what John Williams has to say about the claim:

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) deliberately publishes its seasonally-adjusted historical payroll-employment and household-survey (unemployment) data so that the numbers are neither consistent nor comparable with current headline reporting. The upside revisions to the January and February monthly jobs gains, and the relatively strong March payroll showing, reflected nothing more than concealed, favorable shifts in underlying seasonal factors, hidden by the lack of consistent BLS reporting. In like manner, consistent month-to-month changes in the

Is Fat Bad?

People who know me know that I am forever grumbling, “Thousands of years from now, scientists will shake their heads and say, ‘too bad about those people back at the end of the twentieth century. They didn’t eat enough fat.’”

The obesity epidemic began around 1977, the year the low-fat diet was first recommended. It was also around the same time that I had my first farm, cow, goats, pigs and chickens. I guess I didn’t get the memo. Our diet included whole milk, red meat, tons of butter, cheese and lard-infused pies.

While trans fats are still on the black list, …

Responding to Global Warming

Analyzing Some Ideas

Economist William D. Nordhaus, The Climate Casino: Risk, Uncertainty, and Economics for a Warming World, 2013, argues (e.g., on p. 169) that there are four possible approaches to coping with the global warming problem:

Reduce the rate of economic growth by reducing living standards.

Change our lifestyle by cutting back on those activities that involve the use of fossil fuels (e.g., reducing one’s travel by airplane).

Continue producing and transporting (goods and people) at the same level, but do so with low- or no-carbon …

Colonialism and Puerto Rico’s Fiscal Crisis

Puerto Rico, is usually thought of as a tourism destination or is usually invisible in the U.S. media. In recent times, its fiscal and economic crisis has led to show up in the business pages of the mainstream media with inaccurate comparisons with Detroit or Greece whose fiscal crisis had attracted much media attention. As usual, the mainstream press looks at the illness without looking at the root causes. And the comparisons are usually risky because they tend to ignore history and the nuances of each case. Unfortunately for Puerto Rico, its fuzzy political relationship with the United States is …

Dominoes

One of the most widely used explanations for why the United States had to be involved in Vietnam during the 1960s/70s was that communism had to be stopped in its tracks, that if communists were allowed to “take over” Vietnam the rest of South East Asia would quickly follow. It was called the Domino Theory to suggest the image of how a row of domino tiles, placed on their edges and near to each other, could all be made to topple over by simply knocking the first one over onto the second. It was a pretty effective analogy and was …

Syria: Countering Sectarian Apologetics for Imperialist Sponsored Bloodshed

According to Michael Karadjis’ latest article published on 17 February, titled “Assad Regime Responsible for Rise in Religious Sectarianism,” it is the secular Syrian government that is responsible for the rise in sectarianism, and not the actual bloodthirsty insurgents of all factions who have earned an international reputation for their sectarian brutality.

The main theme of Karadjis’ article is his argument that the sectarian hatred endemic among most, if not all rebel factions, is primarily a predictable outgrowth of the over-representation of Alawis in the Syrian government. He refers to the Syrian state as a “family run” “Alawite regime”, …

The European Central Bank’s War on Wages is Pushing Europe’s Economy to the Brink

William K. Black, author of The Best Way to Rob a Bank Is to Own One, teaches economics and law at the University of Missouri Kansas City (UMKC). Says Black: The media has failed to report on the causes and possible solutions for Europe’s deflating economy.

Ukraine and Crimea

An Illegal Putsch and a Democratic Referendum

At 6.05 a.m., (GMT) on Tuesday April 1st, a correspondent on the BBC’s flagship morning news programme “Today” stated that Russia had “seized Crimea”, faithfully following the rampant propaganda being hysterically stirred from Washington and Whitehall and by newspapers ranging from the Los Angeles Times to pick-your-favourite-news-outlet land.

Again, for anyone just returning from another planet, Crimea with a turn out of 83.1%, voted, in a referendum, by nearly 97 percent, to rejoin Russia. Not only was not a shot fired (apart from a couple in the air and one by a sniper suspiciously mirroring actions by the far right in …

Revisiting Walden

Thoreau's tenets and their relevance today

Walden Pond, an icon of the environmental movement, was the retreat and experiment in simple living of Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), but it is often used for self-promotion by those who neither understand, nor care about our planet. Thoreau believed man’s stewardship of the environment was necessary to the enrichment of his spirit, not his bank account; and, since he spent $28.11 to build his simple cabin by Walden Pond, his was a very different kind of economy.

Thoreau advocated that by living simply and keeping possessions to a minimum, a man could better enjoy the essence of life. …

Hugo Chavez: A Revolutionary Life

Hugo Chavez was one of the most important public figures of the last twenty years. From the moment of the failed 1992 coup he helped foment until his death from cancer in 2013, his presence was felt around the world. Politicians, media outlets and capitalist power mongers despised his popularity and what they feared it meant for their future. Many of those around the world who are not among the powerful or working for their public relations machinery saw him as a hero and leader in the struggle against those very powers that repress the common people’s …