By Seymour M. Hersh
Barack Obama did not tell the whole story this autumn when he tried to make the case that Bashar al-Assad was responsible for the chemical weapons attack near Damascus on 21 August. In some instances, he omitted important intelligence, and in others he presented assumptions as facts. Most significant, he failed to acknowledge something known to the US intelligence community: that the Syrian army is not the only party in the country’s civil war with access to sarin, the nerve agent that a UN study concluded – without assessing responsibility – had been used in the rocket attack. In the months before the attack, the American intelligence agencies produced a series of highly classified reports, culminating in a formal Operations Order – a planning document that precedes a ground invasion – citing evidence that the al-Nusra Front, a jihadi group affiliated with al-Qaida, had mastered the mechanics of creating sarin and was capable of manufacturing it in quantity. When the attack occurred al-Nusra should have been a suspect, but the administration cherry-picked intelligence to justify a strike against Assad.
Also, join a group photo op at 9:20-9:30 AM, at Capitl's East Front, House Triangle, near Independence Ave. SE and New Jersey Ave.
This week social and economic justice, peace, environmental and community groups are heading to Washington DC to tell Congress: We the People demand a budget that meets our critical needs - by cuting out-of-control, dangerous military spending.
Over one hundred organizations have signed onto a letter outlining a plan to meet dire human and environmental needs by cutting the dangerous, runaway military budget by 25-50%.
Thousands of individuals have signed on to a petition calling for the same thing.
On December 10 we're delivering it to Congress! Join us and tell Congress this is the only way to end the ongoing financial and humanitarian crisis caused by this reckless and obsolete wartime budget.
Will they listen? We're not holding our breath. But we are going to tell them anyway! And we'll start building our power to compel a People's Budget in the future.
So if you can, come along to Congress on Tuesday. Bring a picture or drawing of something you personally are sacrificing in order to pay for the policy endless war.
RSVP to email@example.com for updates.
See you there!
Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, Mark Dunlea, David Swanson
By Dave Lindorff
The White House, and most headline writers around the country, are crowing that the November jobless rate of 7.0%, reported Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is the lowest since 2009 when President Obama took office, when it was 7.3% and rising.
But is this number really something worth cheering?
Recently I noticed a post on a social media site honoring Rosa Parks for her refusal to move out of her seat on a segregated bus. Someone commented underneath, that in fact another individual deserved credit for having done the same thing first. What happened next was entirely predictable. Post after post by various people brought out the names of all kinds of forerunners of Parks, pushing the date of the first brave resister to segregated buses back further and further -- many decades -- into the past.
What we understand as the civil rights movement was successfully started after a great many failed attempts -- by organizations as well as individuals. The same goes for the suffragette movement or the labor movement or the abolition of slavery. Even the Occupy movement was the umpteenth time a lot of activists had attempted such a thing, and chances are that eventually the Occupy movement will be seen as one in a long line of failed predecessors to something more successful.
I've been discussing with people whom I consider key organizers of such a project the possibility of a newly energized movement to abolish war. One thing we're looking at, of course, is failed past attempts to do the same. Some of those attempts have been quite recent. Some are ongoing. How, we must ask ourselves, can we strengthen what's already underway, learn from what's been tried before, and create the spark that this time, at long last, after over a century's preliminaries, catches fire?
Momentum for the abolition of war began to grow in the late 19th century, and then again, much more strongly, after World War I, in a different manner after World War II, again after the Cold War, and -- just maybe -- again right now. Arguably the 1920s and 1930s have seen the strongest popular sentiment for war abolition in the United States. We're not at that level now. But we do have the advantage of being able to study the past 80 years of struggle. Of course, anti-war efforts have had great successes as well as failures, but war remains. And it doesn't remain on the margins, like slavery. It remains, front and center, as the United States' principal public program. Standing armies are so well accepted that most people aren't sure what the phrase means. Wars are so common that most Americans cannot name all the nations their own is at war with.
A proposal on "Abolishing the War System" that I've just been reading (from Marcus Raskin at the Institute for Policy Studies) takes us back to 1992 and provides much useful material to draw on. Raskin's preface and Brian D'Agostino's introduction suggest that the moment in which they were writing was a particularly opportune moment for a campaign to abolish war. I'm sure they honestly believed it was. And I'm sure that it, in fact, was -- even if there's a tendency to find such a remark comical in retrospect. Strategic-minded people want to know why 2013 is such a moment, and they can be pointed toward many indicators: opinion polls, the rejection of the proposed missile attack on Syria, increased awareness of war propaganda, the diminishment of drone attacks, the ever-so-slight reduction in military spending, the possibility of peace in Colombia, the growing success of nonviolent conflict resolution, the growing and improving use of nonviolent movements for change, the existentially urgent need for a shifting of resources from destroying the planet to protecting it, the economic need to stop wasting trillions of dollars, the arrival of technologies that allow for instant international collaboration among war resisters, etc. But just as many indicators were available in 1992, albeit different ones, and nobody has developed the means for quantifying such things. However, here's the key question, I think: If all of those predecessors to Rosa Parks hadn't acted, would Rosa Parks have ever been Rosa Parks? If not, then isn't the strategic time for a moral and necessary campaign always right now?
Raskin's "Abolishing the War System" is not an argument to persuade anyone against war, not a plan for organizing a mass movement, not a system for reaching out to new constituencies or creating economic or political pressure against war. Raskin's book is primarily a draft treaty that should be, but never has been, enacted. The treaty aims to take the United States and the world to an important part-way step, most of the way perhaps, toward war abolition. In compliance with this treaty, nations would maintain only "nonoffensive defense," which is to say: air defense and border and coast guard forces, but not offensive weapons aimed at attacking other nations far from one's own. Foreign bases would be gone. Aircraft carriers would be gone. Nuclear and chemical and biological weapons would be gone. Drones over distant lands would have been gone before they appeared. Cluster bombs would be done away with.
The argument for nonoffensive defense is, I think, fairly straightforward. Many wealthy nations spend under $100 billion each year on military defense -- some of which nations fit major offensive weapons systems into that budget. The United States spends $1 trillion each year on military defense and (mostly) offense. The result is a broken budget, missed opportunities, and lots of catastrophic foreign wars. So, the case for cutting $900 billion from war spending each year in the U.S. is the case for fully funding schools, parks, green energy, and actual humanitarian aid. It is not the case for completely abolishing the military. If the United States were to be attacked it could defend itself in any manner it chose, including militarily.
But, someone might protest, why is it sufficient to shoot down planes when they reach our border? Isn't it better to blow them up in their own country just before they head our way?
The direct answer to that question is that we've been trying that approach for three-quarters of a century and it hasn't been working. It's been generating enemies, not removing them. It's been killing innocents, not imminent threats. We've become so open about this that the White House has redefined "imminent" to mean eventual and theoretical.
The indirect answer is that, I believe, Raskin's treaty could benefit from a better vision of success, assuming such a vision can be added without losing the practical part-way step created by the treaty. The treaty is excellent on the establishment of a structure for disarmament, inspections, verification. It bans exports and imports of weapons. The treaty and accompanying text are also excellent on the need to abolish the CIA, NSA, and all secret agencies of war. "Intelligence" agencies should be internationalized and opened to the public, Raskin wrote, as if the internet already existed but with Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden hired by the government to do as ordinary labor what they in reality ended up doing as heroic acts of defiance. The National Security Act of 1947 must go, Raskin writes. The U.N. Charter must be upheld.
Here's where it starts to get dicey. Raskin wants to reform the membership, structure, and veto powers of members in the U.N. Security Council. But his treaty is written as if that reform has been accomplished. Power all flows to the United Nations, reformed or otherwise. A "nonlethal" (but not nonviolent) U.N. Peace Force is strengthened by the treaty. Raskin also supports the creation of an international criminal court; of course it has since been created, but under the shadow of an unreformed United Nations.
Raskin explicitly traces the lineage of war abolition movements back to Salmon Oliver Levinson who led the organizing that created the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Raskin faults the Pact for lacking a "collective security arrangement." Levinson, and his allies, in Congress and without, would have objected that this lack was an advantage, not a flaw. A "collective security arrangement" along the lines of the United Nations is a sanction to use war-making as a tool with which to eliminate war-making. This approach, as Raskin acknowledges, has been a failure. But Raskin begins his draft treaty by recommitting nations to the U.N. Charter, not the Kellogg-Briand Pact, that is to say: to an agreement that sanctions certain wars, and not to an agreement that bans all war.
Now the Kellogg-Briand Pact is widely ignored and violated. But then, as Raskin notes, so is the U.N. Charter. Why ask nations to recommit to it, except because they are violating it? Through the course of this book, Raskin happens to note various other laws that are routinely ignored: the Humphrey Hawkins Act, the Nuremberg Principles, the 1963 nuclear test ban treaty in which the U.S. committed to general and complete disarmament, etc. Yet, Raskin wants to create a new law, hoping it will be complied with as well as being formally established.
There's no reason the Kellogg-Briand Pact and/or the vision of its creators shouldn't be a part of our work, and there are many reasons why it should be. When those dreaded mythical bombers approach our shores, defended purely by every possible defensive weapon known to humankind, what if bombing the land from which those planes departed was not what came to mind? What if other actions were the focus of our thoughts in contemplating such scenarios? The imaginary government that sent the planes (or drones or boats or whatever) could be prosecuted in a court. Arbitration could be taken to a court. Sanctions could be imposed on the government responsible. International legal, trade, political, and moral pressure could be organized. Nonviolent protesters could be sent to the nation responsible. Nonviolent flotillas of boats and hot air balloons could interfere. Video of any suffering created could be immediately made visible in public spaces in the nation responsible and around the world. And, of course, if the attack planes came from no nation at all, then all the nations of the world could be pressured to cooperate in criminal apprehension and prosecution of those responsible -- an idea we might have done well to think of some 12 years ago, some 9 years after Raskin's drafting of his treaty. But, but, but, what if all of that failed? Well then, we could add to it in our handicapped imaginations the use of every defensive weapon available to any department of what we actually call, but don't think of as, Defense.
I find it hard to imagine that if the United States took a chunk of that $900 billion and gave the world schools and medicine there would be a lot of attacks planned against it. Others find it hard to imagine anything could stop such attacks from inexplicably materializing. How do we shift such a perspective? I think it has to be by pointing to a first step in combination with outlining an image of the final goal. That means thinking beyond the idea of using war to prevent war. That idea leads straight to the question "Which nation(s) will dominate the United Nations?" Waiting to transform the United Nations into a fair, democratic, and yet universally respected, institution before dramatically reducing the military and beginning a virtuous cycle of further disarmament, may be a roadblock. The United Nations is in the process of legalizing drone wars. The U.N. just might be a bigger hurdle than the U.S. Senate in the cause of peace -- although, admittedly, these are all chicken-and-egg dilemmas.
If we can get people understanding what a world without militaries will look like and show them a partial step in that direction -- one that makes sense to them because they see where we're headed -- it just might be that this time beginning the ending of war will have been an idea whose time had come.
Reflecting on the death of Nelson Mandela, Jerome Ross, writing at Roar magazine states: “The only appropriate way to honor the legacy of the iconic freedom fighter is not to beatify the man but to take his struggle to its logical conclusion.”
To contact Bartolo email firstname.lastname@example.org
The body of Ali Aqeel Abdulla Marhoon, 18, carries the marks of sadistic torture inflicted on him two days ago. The Bahraini youth was walking on his own just before sunset on Tuesday 3rd December in the middle of his town, Al Sanabis, when he was abducted. Several masked men belonging to Alkhalifa Death Squads jumped out of a civilian vehicle, grabbed him and forced him into the car. Six hours later, at 1.30 AM he was dumped at the graveyard of Barbar’s town, four kilometres to the West of Sanabis. His mutilated body indicated the horrific torture he had endured at a secret torture house used by Hamad’s thugs. His father took him to Salmaniya Hospital which is run by the military. The officers asked his father to sign an undertaking not to reveal anything about what had happened to his son in return for treatment. This is just one of the latest of the episodes of torture. It happened three days before the “Manama Dialogue”, organised to mask the real face of the Alkhalifa dictatorship.
A week ago a young Bahraini youth, Ahmad Abdul Ameer, from Aali Town, died at the same hospital. He had suffered burns to his body resulting from an exchange with the foreign-staffed riot police. His condition was not life-threatening when he was taken to the hospital. The military officials at Salmaniya are now adopting a policy of liquidating anyone who is brought to the hospital for treatment from injuries incurred in demonstrations. Because it is managed by the military, Salmaniya is the only hospital allowed to receive Bahrainis injured in clashes with the police or Death Squads. There were serious clashes both at his burial and at the end of the three days of mourning. People chanted anti-regime slogans including: “People want regime change” and “Down with Hamad”.
Nabeel Rajab, the President of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights has been denied the right to be released after serving three quarters of his two years prison sentence. On Monday 2nd December, the Alkhalifa court refused the request by his lawyers saying he was not eligible for early release. The regime is exacting maximum revenge on Bahrainis opposing its dictatorship and calling for transformation to democracy.
Last week a legal team of British and American human rights lawyers, solicitors and barristers, assembled by advocacy organization Bahrain Watch, filed a formal complaint with the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) National Contact Point (NCP) in Korea against Dae Kwang Chemical Corporation. The company is believed to be originating the shipment. The complaint requests that the NCP respond within 7 days to clarify whether it is prepared to act to prevent exports in this regard. Dae Kwang has admitted to supplying approximately 1 million tear gas canisters to Bahrain in 2011-2012, and the Korean National Police Agency told Amnesty Korea that over 1.5 million tear gas units have been exported to Bahrain since 2011. A journalist who contacted Korea’s tear gas export authority, DAPA, was told that DAPA had recently received a request from an unnamed Korean company to export more tear gas to Bahrain. A leaked tender document released by Bahrain W atch last month shows that the Bahrain Government apparently intends to acquire 1.6 million more canisters.
On Wednesday 4th December a Bahraini youth confirmed that he had been severely tortured and forced to sign false confessions. Two years ago Ali Al Taweel was sentenced to death for his alleged role in the death of a policeman. The regime failed to produce compelling evidence and the sentence was seen as another case of brutal revenge against Bahraini natives. He is illiterate but was forced to sign the pre-prepared statement. In the past two years he and his family have endured enormous pains and ill-treatment. His family blame Alkhalifa Western friends for encouraging them to commit heinous crimes against humanity.
Many people have been detained in the past few days. At dawn yesterday, Ali Al Hayki, from Bilad Al Qadeem was arrested from his home and taken to unknown location. Ahmad Falah was snatched by masked militia men from his home in Maqaba town. More than 15 people were arrested on Wednesday from various parts of the country. At least 12 were from Duraz Town.
Meanwhile the fathers of martyr Mahmood Abu TAki, martyr Ali Jawsad Al Sheikh and detainee Hussain Jawad have been on hunger strike for the past three days. They are protesting against the increasing repression by the Alkhalifa dictators.
Bahrain Freedom Movement
5th December 2013
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Nelson Mandela's story, if told as a novel, would not be deemed possible in real life. Worse, we don't tell such stories in many of our novels.
A violent young rebel is imprisoned for decades but turns that imprisonment into the training he needs. He turns to negotiation, diplomacy, reconciliation. He negotiates free elections, and then wins them. He forestalls any counter-revolution by including former enemies in his victory. He becomes a symbol of the possibility for the sort of radical, lasting change of which violence has proved incapable. He credits the widespread movement in his country and around the world that changed cultures for the better while he was locked away. But millions of people look to the example of his personal interactions and decisions as having prevented a blood bath.
Mandela was a rebel before he had a cause. He was a fighter and a boxer. Archbishop Desmond Tutu says that South Africa benefited greatly from the fact that Mandela did not emerge from prison earlier: "Had he come out earlier, we would have had the angry, aggressive Madiba. As a result of the experience that he had there, he mellowed. ... Suffering either embitters you or, mercifully, ennobles you. And with Madiba, thankfully for us, the latter happened."
Mandela emerged able to propose reconciliation because he'd had the time to think it through, because he'd had the experience of overcoming the prisons' brutality, because he'd been safely locked up while others outside were killed or tortured, and also -- critically -- because he had the authority to be heard and respected by those distrustful of nonviolence.
The CIA had Mandela prosecuted in 1963. He might have been given the death penalty. Alan Paton testified in court that if Mandela and other defendants were killed the government would have no one to negotiate with (this at a time when both sides would have rather died than negotiate anything).
The U.S. government considered Mandela a terrorist until 2008, when he was a 90-year-old Nobel Peace Prize winner (and most Nobel Peace Prize winners were not yet in the habit of engaging in terrorism).
But many here in the United States and around the world brought pressure to bear on the Apartheid government of South Africa in a manner similar to what is now being developed to pressure Israel. The times were changing. A door was just cracking open. And Mandela negotiated it right off its hinges, even as violence rolled on in Northern Ireland, Yugoslavia, and the Middle East. Mandela showed another way -- or, rather, the first and only way that involved actually accomplishing positive change.
Mandela had flaws, and traits that many would consider flaws. Either his sex life or his economic reform agenda (not that he stood by the latter) would have disqualified him from politics in the United States even had he not been on the list of terrorists. His second wife suffered in the movement outside the prisons, turning toward anger and hatred even as her husband turned toward empathy and forgiveness.
Mandela did not adopt an ideology or a religion that imposed nonviolence on him. Rather, he found his way to tools that would work effectively, and to the state of mind that would give him the strength to implement them. He found, not only empathy but great humility. He sought fair elections but not a candidacy. Urged to become a candidate he committed to serving only one term. As the election results came in, reports are that he stopped the counting before his lead could grow so large as to exclude minority parties from the government. He credited the movement with the victory and invited his former jailer to his inauguration.
Danny Schechter has produced a fantastic new book about Mandela, called Madiba A to Z: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela. It's based on the making of a documentary series that's based on the making of the new film, Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, which is in turn based primarily on Mandela's autobiography.
In the book, Schechter speculates on how the corporate media will cover Mandela's death. "Which Mandela will be memorialized? Will it be the leader who built a movement and a military organization to fight injustice? Or a man of inspiration with a great smile whom we admire because of the long years suffered behind bars?" It's a rhetorical question now and always was, but I wish the answer could have been something other than those two choices. I wish the answer were Mandela the man who negotiated a peaceful change, who forgave, who apologized, who sympathized, who showed a way for nations to live up to the standards of our children, whom we routinely urge to settle their problems with words rather than aggravating their problems with violence.
The United States needs that example when speaking with Iran. Colombia needs it as the possibility of peace glimmers in the distance there. Syrian builders of movements and military organizations that fight injustice need that example desperately.
When will we ever learn?
Originally posted at AcronymTV
Earlier this year, as the Edward Snowden story was just starting to break, Michael Grunwald – the Time magazine senior national correspondent and poster boy for everything wrong with journalism, no strike that, poster boy for everything wrong with the blowback inducing homicidal bull in a cultural, religious and geopolitical china shop of US foreign policy that I like to call manifest destiny’s child, wrote that he “could not wait to write a defense of the drone strike that takes out Julian Assange. “
To contact Bartolo email email@example.com
By Dave Lindorff
Talk about a no-brainer!
Google may have been, until now, the Obama of hip internet monopolies. No matter how many nations the President bombs, people still put Obama peace-sign stickers on their cars. No matter how many radical rightwing initiatives Google funds, people still think it's a "progressive corporation" -- How could it not be? It's making progress!
Google is funding Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform, the Federalist Society, the American Conservative Union, and the political arm of the Heritage Foundation.
And there's more really bad news: Google is funding ALEC, the powerful, secretive, and destructive lobbying force from which many companies concerned with their public images are fleeing. ALEC is in the news this week, holding its 40th annual meeting. Together with allies, RootsAction.org is applying as much pressure as we can. And it might just be that the tide is turning. Google just might have to start worrying about whether its users favor plutocratic plundering or not.
ALEC targets state legislatures around the country to roll back labor rights, environmental protection, civil rights, public health measures and more. Using big money, corporate clout and smooth lobbyists, ALEC teams up with like-minded state lawmakers to draft and enact regressive legislation.
Tens of thousands of people have heeded our request to Tell Google and other huge firms to which we'll deliver this petition not to participate in ALEC's corruption of our government:
We urge you to stop funding ALEC. With ALEC's help ...
* Tobacco companies get tax cuts.
* For-profit education companies get school privatization.
* Management gets union busting.
* Oil companies get opposition to renewable energy.
* The rich and powerful get the repeal of estate taxes.
But, in the process, democracy gets hijacked -- one state at a time.
You should read the thousands and thousands of comments people have submitted when they have signed this petition. And you can, they're all publicly posted at the link above.
Some people express their great affection for Google, along with disillusionment:
"I really thought that your business was a role model as progressive, social conscious Corporation... I was seriously mistaking... - - It is outrageous that you are supporting these politicians that have injured out country and our people so deeply... and ALEC???? - - PLEASE STOP!!!" --J. Carlo Diaz, FL
"Really, Google. Really!? I expect more sense from you!" --Marian Pickett, LA
"As much as I like Google, I'll be damned if I'll support in any way the increase in political clout of big and secret money funneled to "money is above all" unbridled capitalism Republican organizations! There are other choices ... and I'll be switching!!" --William Whitlock, CA
"Any company that funds an organization like Alec does not have an interest in democracy. Alec is in the business of buying votes, and votes for the most un-American causes. My respect for Google has taken a huge hit because of its support of Alec." --Kathlyn McCaughna
"I used GOOGLE to research ALEC. I am surprised and greatly disappointed that your corporation would support this horror to our democracy. Greed. Cynicism. Arrogance. Downright stupidity. Or as stated in one of your listed sources--policy areas including legislation 'opposing U.S. consumers' rights to know the origin of our food,' 'undermining workers' rights,' 'stripping environmental protections,' and 'limiting patient rights and undermining safety net programs.' (MediaMatters 12/4/13) I said 'surprised.' Perhaps not, just thoroughly disgusted. - I love GOOGLE; other venues' ads have not swayed me. However, your support of such a vicious, predatory, manipulative organization has changed the game. --JoAnn Durfee, OR
Some explain to Google what the problem is:
"Alec is for profits at any cost to society. Make your engine work for people, not for evil." --John Kozub, TN
"Google, Facebook and Yelp are people driven and should not support corporate takeover of the internet or other arenas." --Amy Whitworth, OR
"Does Google want to be seen to be supporting ALEC? If so they are also supporting this neanderthal approach to energy production: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/04/alec-freerider-homeowners-assault-clean-energy -- An alliance of corporations and conservative activists is mobilising to penalise homeowners who install their own solar panels -- casting them as 'freeriders' -- in a sweeping new offensive against renewable energy, the Guardian has learned." --E Healy, CA
"Funding the most regressive organizations puts your company right there with them: destroyers of democracy, dirty political actors. Think carefully whether this is where you want to be, and where you are going to be seen to be." --John Prehn, UT
"ALEC has caused so much evil and trouble in Wisconsin that I am sure most people don't understand, at this point in time. Please do NOT support the agenda of ALEC as it is not for the people but for the FEW!" --Joan Schneider, WI
Some get a bit angry:
"Alec sucks. When I found out the State Farm backed them, we DUMPED State Farm. And we had been with them for 20 years. Don't miss them a BIT!" --Audrey Lima, FL
"ALEC's prime mission is to destroy everything decent in this country! Fascism simply ISN'T the same thing as Democracy! STOP supporting this evil group!!!!" --Linda Christy, OK
"Stop SCROOGLING the very hard-working Americans who pay taxes that made you a household name. We don't need ALEC trying to shove their power-hungry, money-centered, and sexist/racist/homophobic agendas onto hard-working taxpayers. And we won't need GOOGLE either if they get in bed with corrupt ALEC and its members." --Deirdre McCullough, NC
"Google is EVIL SCUM pretending to be a progressively-minded company while funding organizations that systematically destroy the rights and well-being of everyday citizens everywhere, all to increase their already bloated bottom line. Screw you--I don't need your search, your email, your phones, or anything else you can offer. I NEED DEMOCRACY AND A COMPASSIONATE SOCIETY." --Ellen Read, NH
Or angry and pithy:
"Dicks." --Brad Thompson, IA
Some plead with Google:
"Please, Google, do not be a part of this right wing attempt to hijack democracy in your country!" --Sharon Fummerton, BC
"With your power you could (and should) do good instead of furthering ALEC's poisonous agenda." --Barbara Coulson, NC
Some propose a course of action:
"I will boycott any company affiliated with ALEC" --Jim Knipe, VA
"Don't make me start using Bing." --Liz Neff, CA
Some are taking action already:
"I am already using DuckDuckGo for web searches. I'm pretty sure I can find an email service other than Gmail." --Dan Starr, IL
"Just changed my search engine." --Michael Keenan, IL
"I already changed my home page to Yahoo." --Nadia Daley
"I have stopped using Google completely due to it's support of these ultra conservative and regressive groups." --Kelley Dempsey, MD
"Until Google makes it clear that it no longer supports Alec and other anti-democratic, anti labour, and environmentally destructive causes I will conduct my searches through other engines." --Glenn Ashton
Some have a more serious solution in mind:
"Google is Getting too big and powerful, break it up!" --Stephen Rawlings, FL
"When corporations get a fairer deal than the tax paying population, something needs to CHANGE!" --Debbie Boozer, IN
Originally posted at AcronymTV
This is a full and uncut interview with Vlad Teichberg, of Global Revolution TV, shot in December 2011 at the squat in Bushwick, Brooklyn where Global Revolution TV had set up studio space, just days before an NYPD raid would rout them from the space. Portions of this interview appear in the documentary American Autumn: an Occudoc (available on iTunes, or set your own price for the DVD).
A New Yorker feature article described Vlad and Global Revolution TV in the following way:
By Norman Solomon
Every new revelation about the global reach of the National Security Agency underscores that the extremism of the surveillance state has reached gargantuan proportions. The Washington Post just reported that the NSA “is gathering nearly 5 billion records a day on the whereabouts of cellphones around the world.” Documents provided by whistleblower Edward Snowden have forced top officials in Washington to admit the indefensible while defending it. One of the main obstacles to further expansion of their Orwellian empire is real journalism.
Real journalism is “subversive” of deception that can’t stand the light of day. This is a huge problem for the Obama administration and the many surveillance-state flunkies of both parties in Congress. What they want is fake journalism, deferring to government storylines and respectful of authority even when it is illegitimate.
In motion now, on both sides of the Atlantic, are top-down efforts to quash real journalism when and how it matters most. In the two English-speaking countries that have done the most preaching to the world about “Western values” like freedom of the press, the governments led by President Obama and Prime Minister Cameron are overseeing assaults on real journalism.
They’re striving to further normalize fake journalism -- largely confined to stenographic services for corporate power, war industries and surveillance agencies. A parallel goal is to harass, intimidate and destroy real journalism. The quest is to maximize the uninformed consent of the governed.
In direct contrast, those willing to fight for truly independent journalism -- including whistleblowers, political activists and journalists themselves -- are struggling to provide our world with vital light, fueled by comprehension that real journalism must be willing to challenge entrenched power.
From incessant war and arming the world, to climate change and coddling fossil fuel industries, to anti-democratic governance and enabling vast NSA surveillance, the U.S. power structure -- with epicenters along Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue -- continues to dominate. That power structure is a clear, present and horrendous threat to human survival, the natural world of this planet and the possibilities for authentic democracy.
Against such dire, highly institutionalized assaults on the present and the future, we desperately need a wide range of nonviolent, principled and unrelenting insurgencies. In that context, government efforts to crush real journalism can be understood as methodical counterinsurgency.
Smashing Guardian hard drives and hauling the newspaper’s editor in front of an inquisitional parliamentary committee are aspects of the British government’s counterinsurgency program against real journalism. In the United States, the counterinsurgency includes numerous prosecutions of whistleblowers and wide-ranging surveillance of journalists’ workaday communications. These assaults aren’t episodic. They’ve become routine.
Journalism is at a momentous crossroads. The alternative to unrelenting independence is sheepism, and that’s not journalism; it’s a professionalized baseline of bowing to government and corporate pressure even before it has been overtly exerted.
For journalists, and for the rest of us, silence is not neutrality; it ends up as acceptance of autocratic rule, a present festooned with pretty-sounding names like “anti-terrorism” and “national security.”
As the most powerful institutions run amuck, their main functionaries are “leaders” who keep leading us farther and farther away from a world we could possibly be proud of leaving for the next generations. Pushing back against the ominous momentum will require fighting for real journalism. No one can plausibly say that reversing course will be easy or probable -- only imperative.
Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org
While catching up with one another over the challenges facing ordinary Afghans and Egyptians, Sherif Sameer and I talked about how ‘opening our eyes’ could go a long way to building a better world. We decided to co-write this piece, from Ismailia, Egypt and Kabul, Afghanistan.
Sherif and I in Cairo, 2006
Open Our Eyes in Egypt
The truth is there, clear and burning like a sun. We only need to open our eyes and take a look. ‘Our eyes’ means ‘our minds’. The mind is that big thing on top of our necks inside of our heads, and it has a function called ‘thinking’.
Just last year, I was taken from my village in Egypt to spend some time in Spain, because I wrote a short story and won a prize. There, I noticed that I was walking around with a belief in the cleanliness and accuracy of everything. I was drinking tap water believing it was so pure and clean, eating food as if it was coming from heaven, even after I got diarrhoea and had to take medicine. I believed that the medicine will cure me like magic. I had faith in absolutes and that meant that my mind was dysfunctional.
Now, that was a very small example of what is happening on a world wide scale that hurts us more than diarrhoea.
A few rich people benefit from the natural resources of the majority of human race, and they don't have to kill you for it. They only have to turn off your thinking machine, and then not only will you let them take your life, but you’ll also fight for them against those who work to free you. I know Egyptians who are poor and sick and ready to sacrifice their lives and their children's lives to help those who abuse them last richer and more powerful for longer, under absolute beliefs like religion, just as the Muslim Brotherhood members do every Friday while their leaders ‘perform’ the American agenda.
Now, I know this sounds so complicated and mysterious, and that you are really enjoying the peaceful and secure feeling of the absolute beliefs, but in fact, you really need to suspect and think through every claim and cause, not so much the new ones, but the old ones, for those are the most dangerous.
A golden rule for all of us: welcome every idea however strange it seems as long as it doesn’t claim to be the absolute good, as soon as it doesn’t refuse differences, and let go of every idea that shuts the door for creation and progress.
As we evaluate the outcomes of the recent UN climate negotiations in Warsaw, one lesson that we are invited to learn, again, relates to our strategy for getting effective action taken on the ongoing climate catastrophe and other critical environmental problems. Is lobbying elites to change their behaviour an effective strategy for change?
My experience, reinforced by decades of casual observation, is that lobbying elites is a complete waste of time and that a strategy that focuses on inviting ordinary individuals and groups to take action in the desired direction is far more effective. Why do I say this?
Vice Deputy Under Elf for Hearts and Minds: Good Afternoon, this is the Vice Deputy Under Elf for Hearts and Minds, how may I bring you joy?
Anonymous Pentagon Official: Cut the crap, Nils, you know why I'm calling.
VDUEHM: You've got me confused with the big man, Chuck. I can't see you even when you're awake.
APO: We're providing your sled with fighter jet escort in a $3 billion promotional video, Nils, and this is the 218th -- count 'em, Nils -- the 218th defective puppet you've given us, under warranty, and your people -- if I may call the little goblins "people" -- are not helping.
VDUEHM: What is the name and serial number of the puppet?
APO: The hell you think his name is? Hamid Frickin Karzai, you third-rate bureaucratic ... you can't even see over a bureau, can you? You know what, Nils, if your big man had given us a reasonably small sack of coal instead of each and every puppet we've ever picked up on Christmas morning, we'd ... we'd ... well, we'd have had to think up an entirely different reason for our wars, that's what!
VDUEHM: Please state the difficulty you are experiencing with the puppet.
APO: I don't have all damn day here, Nils. You want the full list? Let me put it to you this way. Remember that last puppet, Maliki, who you claimed was not under warranty ...
VDUEHM: When you intentionally, maliciously, or negligently destroy the puppet's primary or temporary nation or society, the warranty is voided in its entirety, as found in rule number ...
APO: You can imagine where I might suggest you stick that rule book, Nils. Tell me this: who is your best customer in the entire world?
VDUEHM: The innocent child who wishes good only for others and experiences a depth of gratitude ...
APO: Who's your second best customer?
VDUEHM: We give presents, Chuck. Did you think you'd dialed Saudi Arabia? I can have someone connect you. Please hold ...
APO: Hold on! Hold on! My god! Whose chestnuts do you have to roast to get some service around here?
VDUEHM: Please state the difficulty you are experiencing with the puppet.
APO: He's refusing to sign on for 10 more years and beyond.
VDUEHM: Beyond what?
APO: Beyond the next 10 years.
VDUEHM: So, why don't you just call it "indefinitely"? Why mention 10 years if you're going to add "and beyond"?
APO: You wouldn't understand marketing, Nils. You give stuff away, remember?
VDUEHM: It is my understanding that he said he would sign on if you changed a few things. Is that true?
APO: Yeah, yeah. Just a few little bitty things like turning the sky upside down. We had Kerry try to get one of Karzai's underlings to sign on, but Karzai blocked that. Talk about an aggressively defective puppet. This is asymmetric warfare, Nils!
VDUEHM: Kerry? John Kerry? The guy who is opposed to and in favor of every war? The guy who tried to sell missiles-on-Syria as a radical overthrow by violent pacifist fanatic moderate secular extremists that would change everything and have no effect whatsoever? That guy? That guy? Wait, and you're the expert on MARKETING? Oh my god, wait a minute, hang on, I gotta tell Rudolph this one ...
VDUEHM: Chuck, I've got an answer for you from Rudolph. He says you'll go down in history.
VDUEHM: No, not really. Listen, this is what your puppet Karzai said to you: stop killing civilians, stop kicking people's doors in at night, engage in peace talks, free prisoners from Guantanamo, refrain from sabotaging next April's elections, and he'll sign your paper. Now, you had this conversation on the big man's knee. He asked you if you were sure you wanted the democratic puppet and not the monster puppet. No, no, you said, you wanted the democratic puppet. You were all about spreading democracy, Chuck.
APO: That wasn't ME! That was the guy before the guy before the guy before the guy before me!
VDUEHM: It's the same warranty, and your puppet is performing as required. If you'd like to submit a complaint ...
APO: I'll tell you what I'll submit, Nils, I'll submit that melting ice isn't healthy for elves. I'll submit that the guy after the guy after the guy after me is going to get a call from you begging for a bit of terra firma, and I'll submit that he's going to remember the exact number of defective damn puppets you will by that point have provided. Do you like freezing water, Nils?
VDUEHM: I'm transferring you to my boss.
APO: I thought so.
It is a given that no elected Republican government official can agree with anything President Obama says or does. Whether or not this is due to genuine philosophical differences with the president, or, more simply, because he’s of African-American descent and therefore has no business being president, is a topic for another essay. Suffice it to say, not much is getting done in the nation’s capital these days.
On the international stage, it appears that Mr. Obama has had considerably more success in negotiating with Iran than he has with the U.S. House of Representatives. He and several other nations involved in the negotiations have brokered a deal with Iran, wherein Iran will scale back its nuclear ambitions, and the west will scale back some of its sanctions.
On Jeju Island, an environmental jewel sixty miles south of the Korean Peninsula, a massive naval base is being built to house US warships, submarines and aircraft carriers, serving as a key forward base for the " US Pacific Pivot", and turning the region into a hair trigger for global confrontation. Seven years of principled non-violent struggle by the affected villagers have resulted mostly in endless beatings, arrests, fines, imprisonment; a growing international solidarity movement; but little tangible in the way of political support from any national or local government.
On December 3rd, 2013, the City Council of Berkeley, voted to support the Peace and Justice Commission's Resolution in support of the residents of Jeju Island and to End US support for construction of the Jeju Naval Base. This makes it the first city in the world to formally declare its support of the Jeju Islanders and its opposition to the base.
Despite being stripped out of the consent calendar and placed almost at the bottom of the council agenda--procedural maneuvers designed to kill off the item--the resolution ultimately passed (with 5 votes in favor) and 4 abstentions in the Berkeley City Council. Council member Kriss Worthington, who had fast-tracked the resolution, tabled the two items preceding the resolution, allowing it to be put to discussion and a vote, minutes before the clock ran out.
Huge popular support, an unusually vibrant and vocal group of speakers who stayed late into the night--waiting for over 4 hours for the opportunity to address the council for a single brief minute--and a massive flurry of emails from concerned individuals all over the country may have influenced the final vote.
Motivated activists from local seminaries, from the Berkeley Fellowship of Unitarian Universalists, the Peace and Justice Commission, the Ecumenical Peace Institute, and others made passionate, informed pleas for support of the resolution. An activist in a wheel chair broke down in tears as she implored the council to support the cause of peace.
Also significant was a letter from Christine Ahn, a scholar at the Korea Policy Institute and peace activist, who wrote in a heartfelt and moving letter that she had named her daughter Jeju because of her passion for the cause of the peace activists on the island.
An earlier version of the resolution had previously been shot down in February by the Council. Even as it was drafted by the commission, Thyme Siegel of the Peace and Justice Commission had stated, with a straight face, "It is not our business of the US to tell the South Korean government and military how to defend itself against North Korea and China."
Council Member Linda Maio attempted to water down the resolution by stripping out references to the Pacific Pivot (despite corroborating statements from the Secretary of State and Defense); references to toxic dumping in bases in the Phillipines, and rapes and violence in Okinawa, (as well as missile tests in the Marshall Islands and drone bases in Australia). In particular, Council Member Maio stated, "Condemning the U.S Military for rapes--I can't put it in there", apparently oblivious to the fact that 22,000 rapes and sexual assaults occur within the military annually, a number that itself pales in comparison with the abuse that is dealt out to the general population by an occupying military immunized from local prosecution by Status of Forces Agreements.
She also removed information regarding the hardware being deployed (the US Navy's Aegis Combat System).
Council Member Max Anderson, however, put paid to her statement, stating that he had been in Okinawa, and had witnessed first hand the abuses, the rapes, the violence, and ugliness of the military occupation.
Council Member Gordon Wozniak mentioned the recent escalation of hostilities in the pacific with Air Defense Zones, stating that "it was not just about Korea, that it was Japan, China", and that the supporters of the resolution were "missing the point" [in focusing on Korea]. He did not seem understand that he had just proven the argument of the supporters, that the Jeju base was part of the general escalation of hostilities and projection of force in the pacific, and that its presence would exacerbate regional conflict.
Ultimately, what may have swung the vote may have been a missive from Gloria Steinem, legendary feminist icon and supporter of Jeju, addressing the city council:
"As you cast your votes about Jeju's future, I hope you will consider the attached", referring to her article in the New York times where she had written, "There are some actions for which those of us alive today will be judged in centuries to come. The only question will be: What did we know and when did we know it? I think one judgment-worthy action may be what you and I do about the militarization of Jeju Island, South Korea, in service of the arms race."
Adam Hochschild discusses his books, Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves, and To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
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By William Blum
“If nature were a bank, they would have already rescued it.” – Eduardo Galeano
What do you think of this as an argument to use when speaking to those who don’t accept the idea that extreme weather phenomena are man-made?
Well, we can proceed in one of two ways:
12 NE 10th Ave, Portland, OR 503-236-2893
David Swanson will discuss and sign copies of his new book, War No More: The Case for Abolition.
Swanson's books include When the World Outlawed War, named by Ralph Nader as one of the six books everyone should read; the best-selling classic War Is A Lie, and Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union, of which Glenn Greenwald said, "There have now been many books written which chronicle the imperial, lawless presidency of the Bush era, but Swanson’s superb new book is one of the very few to examine how we can recover from it and reverse its pernicious trends."
Swanson is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. Swanson holds a master's degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich's 2004 presidential campaign. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org and works for RootsAction.org. Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.
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From Mark Dunlea
Now is the time to pressure Congress for shifting our resources from the military to human needs. We compelled their attention on Syrian missiles; they listened; and they know we were right. The case for talking with, rather than bombing, Iran grows stronger by the day. The drone strikes have been scaled back. And, yet, the White House is pushing for another decade in Afghanistan, and Congress is not resisting because we aren't forcing Congress to act. The lesson of the Syrian Missile Crisis is that we have power when we speak up en masse. Congress members are home now, just as they were when the missiles were being primed. Now is the time to tell them in person. Now is the time to go to the root of the madness of militarism: the budget. If we can make them cut the military budget, and then point out that the sky hasn't fallen, bigger and bigger cuts may become possible. It's our best hope, and momentum is in our favor.
Senator Patty Murray is the lead negotiator for the Senate on the December 13 budget resolution. Call her office to tell her that we need deep cuts in military spending - much deeper than required under sequestration. Phone: (202) 224-2621 Toll Free: (866) 481-9186
We also need groups that are interested in helping to organize events in DC on Dec. 10.
Here are the next three steps, with details below:
Educate and Mobilize your Community
Join the Day of Action December 10
Details on the next three steps:
Educate and Mobilize your Community
2. Ask community, faith and labor organizations to sign on to the letter. Or to write their own letter in their own language, highlight their issues. Many organizations shy away from taking a stance on military spending - but since the military gets 53 cents out of every discretionary dollar in the federal budget, if we don't cut the military, their cause won't get the funds they need. Many group leaders underestimate the public support for cutting the military budget.
The Hill. Feb. 25, 2013, Forty-nine percent of respondents said they would support cutting military spending, while just 23 percent said they would support slashing Social Security and Medicare. The Washington Post/ Bloomberg News Poll, October 6-9, 2011. 51% support reducing military spending in order to reduce the nation’s budget deficit. Americans on average want to reduce military spending by18 percent.
4. Organize local media events. Be creative. On Tues. December 10, International Human Rights Day, the campaign will deliver the letter and petition to Congress. Organize your own local media event. Sat. Dec. 7 is the 72nd anniversary of Pearl Harbor - isn't it time to declare the war over and demilitarize?
5. Work with other peace groups that are working to cut the military budget. Also urge them to pressure Congress to enact deep cuts - many just focus on public education or work on particular issues.
Meet with your local Congress member and ask them to both support deep cuts (25 to 50%) and to take leadership. It is not enough to preserve the cuts under sequestration (about a 5 to 8% cut). You can also hold a rally or media event (e.g., in front of their office) or organize phone ins or letter writing. Find Congressmember.
Check which committeesthey are on, The most important is the budget conference committee created by the deal to end the government shutdown. The committee will present a framework for the budget for adoption on December 13; if final action is not taken by Jan. 15, another shutdown occurs. (Members listed at the end). Defense and various budget committees also have more say. But any Congress member can show leadership and push an issue. (Funny they never argue that they don't really have any power when they run for office).
Steps. individual Congress members can take:
1. Circulate a sign on letter to other members of Congress calling for deep cuts. Cong. Barney Frank and Ron Paul got 50 of their colleagues to sign on to a letter calling for a 25% cut. They're both gone from Congress. Who will replace them? (There was a bipartisan mix of co-signers.)
2. If they are not on the Joint budget conference committee (listed below), ask them to lobby members who are. Ask them to get back to you with the response.
3. Ask them to vote against the National Defense Authorization Act which has passed the House and is now in the Senate. It supports too much funds for the military and many bad military policies.
4. Ask them to publicly speak out locally and nationally in favor of deep military cuts (e.g., write an op ed).
Join the Day of Action December 10
On the 10th of December, International Human Rights Day, we will deliver our message in person. We will deliver thousands of signature, a letter signed by organizations from across America - but we also want to deliver our voices.
Join us in Washington D.C. on the 10th as we tell Congress, the White House, the media, and the world that the War Budget must become a People's Budget.
Members of the Budget Committee
On the Senate side, the conferees will be the full Senate Budget Committee:
· Democrats –Committee Chair Patty Murray (WA), Ron Wyden (OR), Bill Nelson (FL), Debbie Stabenow (MI), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sheldon Whitehouse (RI), Mark Warner (VA), Jeff Merkley (OR), Chris Coons (DE), Tammy Baldwin (WI), Tim Kaine (VA) and Angus King (I-ME)
· Republicans – Committee Ranking Member Jeff Sessions (AL), Chuck Grassley (IA), Mike Enzi (WY), Mike Crapo (ID), Lindsey Graham (SC), Pat Toomey (PA), Ron Johnson (WI), Kelly Ayotte (NH) and Roger Wicker (MS).
And on the House side, the conferees will be:
· Republicans –House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan (WI), Tom Cole (OK), Tom Price (GA), and Diane Black (TN).
· Democrats –House Budget Committee ranking member Chris Van Hollen (MD), Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn (SC), and Appropriations Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (NY).
For background information on the powers of a budget committee, see here.
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Originally posted at AcronymTV
The full campaign spoofing the Direct TV commercials, produced by Acronym TV for Move To Amend. All six spots, each about 30 seconds, are included here in this single video.
Written by Lee Camp and Dennis Trainor, Jr, and Directed by Trainor, these spots aim to hijack a popular meme to shine a seriously unserious light on the issues of corporate personhood and money as free speech.
Move to Amend is a coalition of hundreds of organizations and tens of thousands of individuals committed to social and economic justice, ending corporate rule, and building a vibrant democracy that is genuinely accountable to the people, not corporate interests.
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
The Guardian has published a major investigative piece that once again exposes the scandalous ways of the right wing lobbying group, American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC).
Cross-Posted from Frack the Media