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Sharing the Spoils

The Illegality of UK-US Bulk Collection

The world owes Edward Snowden a great debt for blowing the whistle, and today’s decision is a vindication of his actions.

— Eric King, deputy director of Privacy International, February 6, 2014

It is a relationship seemingly beyond question – the sharing of intercepted data between the United Kingdom and the United States has been a norm etched in stone.  Not that such bodies as the otherwise clandestine Investigatory Powers Tribunal would agree – at least entirely.  The IPT found on Friday that regulations covering access by GCHQ of phone records and emails intercepted by its US counterpart, the National Security Agency, actually …

The UK Nuclear Nightmare: An Awakening

At last the Armageddon nightmare which is the existence of nuclear arsenals is exploding into the  UK’s political consciousness. At last the magical word ‘deterrent’ which is supposed to automatically kill dissent is being examined and unmasked as the delusion by which the paranoid silence that still small voice, the voice which says it is a crime against humanity to prepare to incinerate a large part of the world’s population and risk triggering a global nuclear war.

It started with the Scottish Independence movement and now the abhorrence of these vile instruments of genocide is manifesting in Wales. In England the …

What is Lost in Poles’ Memories

A few days ago Polish President Bronisław Komorowski proposed a Victory Day parade on May 8 in Westerplatte – a section of Gdansk where World War II began on September 1, 1939. He was supported by Poland’s foreign minister, Grzegorz Schetyna, speaking on Radio RMF. Responding to the host’s question as to whether the Polish proposal was an attempt to undercut the celebrations in Moscow, Schetyna was frank:

It’s natural to commemorate the end of the war at the site where it began… Why are we so accustomed to the idea that Moscow is where we should

Zombie Country

Britain is now a zombie country – not so much a country of zombies, but a zombie itself. A zombie is a dead thing that doesn’t know it’s dead, but which is still capable of being controlled by evil wizards to wreak havoc. You can’t rescue zombies because you can’t bring dead things back to life; you can only render their controllers harmless, let the corpse finally rest in peace, and then begin again by creating new life, starting from scratch. And that’s exactly what we’ve got to do: start again, from scratch.

Britain isn’t the only zombie country in the …

Meeting the Challenges of Global Warming

Sleepless nights bring on drowsy days, and for those experiencing this disorder because of heightened concerns about global warming, awakening in the middle of the night, screaming, there is a remedy.  Read Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene –A Journey to the Heart of the Planet We Made, Milkweed Editions, 2014.

Gaia Vince, the former editor of the journal Nature Climate Change, the news editor of Nature and online editor of New Scientist, left her professional life in London to travel the world in search of answers to what is really happening and what people are doing about it.

Her book …

Florida Sheriff Tells Drivers to Run over Street Protesters

As reported by Counter the Sheriff of Florida’s Palm Beach County is being called on the carpet for making incendiary remarks at a community meeting last month in Boynton Beach. It seems Bradshaw urged the attendees that they should use their vehicles as weapons against protesters – “violent thugs” in his parlance — who may be blocking their path.

Bradshaw’s statement was made in response to an elderly woman who voiced concerns about street protesters. He offered this as a “solution”:

Your safety is far more valuable than those violent thugs illegally blocking the roadways. If you see the protesters,

Conundrum: Syriza, Democracy, and the Death of a Saudi Tyrant

It’s always a tricky moment for the corporate media when a foreign leader dies. The content and tone need to be appropriate, moulded to whether that leader fell into line with Western policies or not. Thus, when Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez died in 2013, conventional coverage strongly suggested he had been a dangerous, quasi-dictatorial, loony lefty. For instance, the Guardian‘s Rory Carroll, the paper’s lead reporter on Venezuela from 2006-2012, appeared to let slip his own personal view on Chavez when he wrote:

To the millions who detested him as a thug and charlatan, it will be occasion to bid,

The “Great War” of Sinai

How to Lose a "War on Terror"

The Sinai Peninsula has moved from the margins of Egyptian body politic to the uncontested center, as Egypt’s strong man – President Abdul Fatah al-Sisi – finds himself greatly undercut by the rise of an insurgency that seems to be growing stronger with time.

Another series of deadly and coordinated attacks, on January 29, shattered the Egyptian army’s confidence, pushing it further into a deadly course of a war that can only be won by political sagacity, not bigger guns.

The latest attack was a blow to a short-lived sense of gratification felt by the regime that militancy in Sinai …

American Sniper: Humanizing and Glorifying a Mass Murderer for the Empire

I saw Clint Eastwood’s movie American Sniper the other night. It is the story of U.S. Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, based on his autobiography. Kyle fought in Iraq between 2004 and 2009 when the U.S. was occupying the country. (In February 2013, Kyle was killed at a gun range by another former soldier, reportedly suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).)

American Sniper has been nominated for six Oscars, including best film and best leading actor; it has broken box-office records for war movies, and it’s generating heated debate.

Many who are praising the film say the movie is about him, not about the politics …

Banned from FERC

Like the vast majority of people in this country, I knew nothing about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until maybe 2-3 years ago. Since then, through my CCAN work fighting the plans for the Cove Point LNG export terminal at Cove Point, Md., through my work in New Jersey fighting a compressor station and pipeline going through the county where I live, and through my work in the mushrooming movement in the Marcellus Shale region and elsewhere against fracked gas infrastructure and exports, I have unfortunately learned a great deal about FERC.

FERC is, quite simply, a rubber stamp for the

“Low Life Scum” Considered

Feeling Sorry for McCain, Kissinger, and Other Living Dead

Please allow me to introduce myself
I’m a man of wealth and taste…
– “
Sympathy for the Devil,” The Rolling Stones

Would you want to change places with a despised war criminal? Seriously, would you want to live as a guilty monster, unwilling to see yourself clearly even in a mirror, at the end of a career of criminal cruelty that has made you hated by millions if not billions of your fellow humans, never knowing if those who politely fawn on your excellence don’t secretly despise you behind your back? Would you really like to change places with John McCain …

US Loses its Grip on Israel and Palestinians

For 20 years, the White House stood guard over the peace process, reserving for itself the role of stewarding Israel and the Palestinians to a resolution of their conflict. Like some Godfather, the US expected unquestioning loyalty.

But Washington’s primacy in the relationship with both the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships is unravelling at astonishing speed.

The crisis has been building for six years. Barack Obama arrived at the White House just as Israel elected one of the most right-wing governments in its history, led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

At their first meeting Obama reportedly told his Israeli counterpart “not one more brick”, insisting on …

Rosewater: Hollywood’s Morbid Obsession with Iran

Rosewater, a film marking the directorial debut of ‘The Daily Show’ host Jon Stewart, and the showman-turned-director’s first attempt to stoke up flames of Iranophobia in America and the world came to waste due to the inefficiency of the filmmaker on the one hand and the poorly-written scenario on the other.

Rosewater which is based on The New York Times best-selling memoir Then They Came for Me: A Family’s Story of Love, Captivity, and Survival, written by Maziar Bahari apparently chronicles the writer’s observations of the presidential unrest in Iran in 2008.

Contrary to the expectations of the writer and the director, …

Distorting the Story of Syria’s Heritage Destruction

The takfiris’ destruction of Syria’s heritage—indeed of all humanity’s—is extremely serious. The world’s, including the UN’s, turning a blind eye to this horrendous crime against humanity is shocking.

Much has been written about the destruction and looting of Syria’s heritage sites. Syria’s Directorate-General of Antiquities & Museums (DGAM), as well as UNESCO have documented the vast damage and looting as extensively as possible in this time of proxy-war-manufactured crisis. In July 2014, the DGAM issued a statement and plea regarding the critical situation of Syria’s heritage under attack.

“A year has passed since …

Class War Furor

Class war furor amplifies throughout Europe. “The trenches are the streets” of major cities that have suffered the most from neoliberal policies as promulgated by the world’s monetary authorities, like the EU-IMF.

Suddenly, the “Syriza Virus” is circulating throughout Europe. The “people” have had enough austerity crammed down their throats. They’re in the streets!

Headlines depict bitterness: “Austerity Anger Sweeps from Greece to Spain as Hundreds of Thousands March Through Madrid in Support of Fledgling Radical Leftist Party,” Daily Mail, January 31, 2015. The “March for Change” converged around Madrid’s Cibeles fountain. People are fed up, tossing their support to a pony-tailed …

Born at War

Foreword to America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying (available in Kindle version free this week.)

One of the ways in which we commonly handicap our own struggles to reform the bad practices of the U.S. government is by imagining those practices to be degenerative developments taking us away from a purer and nobler past. As Gary Brumback shows in this book, the United States grew out of the idea that (in Thomas Paine’s phrase) it was “common sense” to launch a war to settle political differences, a war that in turn set the new nation free to launch a …

Peoples’ Tribunals and the Canadian Mining Sector

What Liberia is to shipping companies, Canada is for mining companies.

— Theresa Wolfwood, Director of the Barnard-Boecker Centre Foundation, April 12, 2013

In time when legal and regulatory institutions find themselves short when confronting the corporate fiends, it has fallen upon civil society to come up with a solution – of sorts.  The Peoples’ Tribunal is one such example, an experiment born in the activist’s drive to give judicial shape to ethical sentiments and indignant opposition.  The format has been deployed in attempts to adjudicate the legality of Israeli actions regarding Palestinians; the legality of the Iraqi War; and the acts …

Uday Al-Zaidy: The Face of Liberated Iraq

 Let freedom reign.

— George W. Bush on formation of Iraq’s first US puppet government, June 28, 2004

I don’t see anything wrong with Tony Blair giving his opinions on Iraq, it’s just that he should be doing it at The Hague.

— Comedian, political commentator, Frankie Boyle, January 16, 2015

On January 10th, the Brussells Tribunal circulated internationally an urgent Appeal for the release of the prominent Iraqi journalist and human rights campaigner Mr Uday Al-Zaidy who had been disappeared by Iraqi militia the previous evening.

A further article outlined the extreme danger he faced, the torture to which he was being …

The Authoritarianism of the American Police State

Two days before Christmas, a “thug” launched an “unprovoked attack” on a female MTA employee on a Bronx subway platform, “choking her” and causing injuries, according to the Daily News. The “hulking brute” then fled the scene, “grinning as he made his may through the turnstile.” The newspaper’s description conjures images of a fanatical psychopath, aggressively assaulting an innocent victim and showing a twisted pleasure in his deranged actions while escaping. Several days later the perpetrator was located, but he was not arrested. On Friday, more than a month later, police announced he will …

Tipping Point in Ukraine?

Ukraine war grinds on under ceasefire, no path to peace in sight

Pretty much everything about Ukraine is murky and unreliable these days, and that’s before you take into consideration any of the meddling by outside powers playing carelessly with their Slavic pawns. Viewed in their darkest light, the events of the past 20 months (and the past 20 years) reflect an East-West death spiral that is now accelerating, and from which none of the engaged parties show any desire to disengage.

The civil war in eastern Ukraine has continued fitfully since September, when the parties signed a ceasefire known as the Minsk Agreement. The ceasefire has often been more honored in …