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Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Platts confirmed CSX Corporation's train that exploded in Lynchburg, Virginia was carrying sweet crude obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") in North Dakota's Bakken Shale basin. CSX CEO Michael Ward has also confirmed this to Bloomberg.
The author of Brazil's Dance With the Devil, Dave Zirin, must love sports, as I do, as billions of us do, or he wouldn't keep writing about where sports have gone wrong. But, wow, have they gone wrong!
Brazil is set to host the World Cup this year and the Olympics in 2016. In preparation Brazil is evicting 200,000 people from their homes, eliminating poor neighborhoods, defunding public services, investing in a militarized police and surveillance state, using slave and prison labor to build outrageous stadiums unlikely to be filled more than once, and "improving" a famous old stadium (the world's largest for 50 years) by removing over half the capacity in favor of luxury seats. Meanwhile, popular protests and graffiti carry the message: "We want 'FIFA standard' hospitals and schools!" not to mention this one:
(FIFA = Fédération Internationale de Football Association, aka Soccer Profiteers International)
Brazil is just the latest in a string of nations that have chosen the glory of hosting mega sports events like the Olympics and World Cup despite the drawbacks. And Zirin makes a case that nations' governments don't see the drawbacks as drawbacks at all, that in fact they are the actual motivation. "Countries don't want these mega-events in spite of the threats to public welfare, addled construction projects, and repression they bring, but because of them." Just as a storm or a war can be used as an excuse to strip away rights and concentrate wealth, so can the storm of sporting events that, coincidentally or not, have their origins in the preparation of nations for warmaking.
Zirin notes that the modern Olympics were launched by a group of European aristocrats and generals who favored nationalism and war -- led by Pierre de Coubertin who believed sport was "an indirect preparation for war." "In sports," he said, "all the same qualities flourish which serve for warfare: indifference toward one's well being, courage, readiness for the unforeseen." The trappings of the Olympic celebration as we know it, however -- the opening ceremonies, marching athletes, Olympic torch run, etc., -- were created by the Nazis' propaganda office for the 1936 games. The World Cup, on the other hand, began in 1934 in Mussolini's Italy with a tournament rigged to guarantee an Italian win.
More worrisome than what sports prepare athletes for is what they may prepare fans for. There are great similarities between rooting for a sports team, especially a national sports team, and rooting for a national military. "As soon as the question of prestige arises," wrote George Orwell, whom Zirin quotes, "as soon as you feel that you and some larger unit will be disgraced if you lose, the most savage combative instincts are aroused." And there is prestige not just in "your" team winning, but in "your" nation hosting the grand event. Zirin spoke with people in Brazil who were of mixed minds, opposing the injustices the Olympics bring but still glad the Olympics was coming to Brazil. Zirin also quotes Brazilian politicians who seem to share the goal of national prestige.
At some point the prestige and the profits and the corruption and the commercialism seem to take over the athletics. "[T]he Olympics aren't about sport any more than the Iraq war was about democracy," Zirin writes. "The Olympics are not about athletes. And they're definitely not about bringing together the 'community of nations.' They are a neoliberal Trojan horse aimed at bringing in business and rolling back the most basic civil liberties."
And yet ... And yet ... the damn thing still is about sports, no matter what else it's about, no matter what alternative venues for sports are possible or imaginable. The fact remains that there are great athletes engaged in great sporting activities in the Olympics and the World Cup. The attraction of the circus is still real, even when we know it's at the expense of bread, rather than accompanying bread. And dangerous as the circus may be for the patriotic and militarist minded -- just as a sip of beer might be dangerous to an alcoholic -- one has the darndest time trying to find anything wrong with one's own appreciation for sports; at least I do.
The Olympics are also decidedly less militaristic -- or at least overtly militaristic -- than U.S. sports like football, baseball, and basketball, with their endless glorification of the U.S. military. "Thank you to our service men and women watching in 175 countries and keeping us safe." The Olympics is also one of the few times that people in the U.S. see people from other countries on their televisions without wars being involved.
Zirin's portrait of Brazil leaves me with similarly mixed sentiments. His research is impressive. He describes a rich and complex history. Despite all the corruption and cruelty, I can't help being attracted to a nation that won its independence without a war, abolished slavery without a war, reduces poverty by giving poor people money, denounces U.S. drone murders at the U.N., joins with Turkey to propose an agreement between the United States and Iran, joins with Russia, India, and China to resist U.S. imperialism; and on the same day this year that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission proposed ending the open internet, Brazil created the world's first internet bill of rights. For a deeply flawed place, there's a lot to like.
It's also hard to resist a group of people that pushes back against the outrages being imposed on it. When a bunch of houses in a poor Brazilian neighborhood were slated for demolition, an artist took photos of the residents, blew them up, and pasted them on the walls of the houses, finally shaming the government into letting the houses stand. That approach to injustice, much like the Pakistani artists' recent placement of an enormous photo of a drone victim in a field for U.S. drone pilots to see, has huge potential.
Now, the question is how to display the Olympics' victims to enough Olympics fans around the world so that no new nation will be able to accept this monster on the terms it has been imposing.
Fight for our Future has launched a "Reset The Net Campaign" for June 5th, 2014.
The problem, as outlined at Reset the Net, is:
"The NSA is exploiting weak links in Internet security to spy on the entire world, twisting the Internet we love into something it was never meant to be: a panopticon." It defines a solution as "We can't stop targeted hacking, but we *can* stop mass surveillance, by building proven security into the everyday Internet." Finally, the plan is to "First, get hundreds of sites & apps to add proven security (like SSL). Then on June 5, we'll run a splash screen *everywhere* to spread NSA-resistant privacy tools."
On Sunday, April 27, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appeared on U.S. television, denouncing progress made in reconciliation talks between Fatah, which ostensibly controls the West Bank, and Hamas, the democratically-elected government in the Gaza Strip.
According to CNN: “Netanyahu said he and Secretary of State John Kerry recently applauded that some progress was being made toward a peace agreement. ‘And then the next day, we were both shocked, there's no other word, we were absolutely stupefied that President Abbas embraced the terrorist organization Hamas that seeks Israel's destruction,’ he said on ‘Face the Nation.’”
Tim Carpenter seemed unstoppable. He was part of this website from day 1, when its name was AfterDowningStreet. He was part of activism in this country from long before that. He was an organizer, a lobbyist, a rabble rouser, and a talker. The cell phone never left his ear, but that didn't prevent him talking to you in person, and getting in more words per minute -- and all of them right to the point -- than an auctioneer. His emails were shorter, often a few words, or a single word. Often that word was "Teamwork!" But they made up for brevity in the sheer number of them. If anyone could make the current U.S.
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
In this episode clip (watch the full show here) Shahid Buttar outlines why he thinks the biggest enemy to the U.S. Constitution is a domestic enemy. Also, Kevin Zeese makes the point that the U.S. government is illegitimate.
“Every member of congress swears an oath of office to protect the constitution from enemies, foreign and domestic,” explains Buttar “and the principle enemy to the U.S. Constitution is a domestic one with three letters. The only debate in my mind is whether it is the NSA or the FBI.”
Originally posted at PopularReistance.org
note This clip is an excerpt. Watch the full show here.
Shahid Buttar, the Executive Director of The Bill of Rights Defense Committee drops knowledge on the NSA in his new House track The NSA vs. the USAwhile appearing on a recent episode of Acronym TV.
A sample verse:
Some people think Edward Snowden is a Traitor /
They forget everything that happened later /
Congress LIED TO by EXECUTIVE OFFICIALS /
We’re talking about CORRUPTION in the Capitol FO SHIZZLE /
Democracies FIZZLE when their people are watched /
His books include: War No More: The Case for Abolition, War Is A Lie, When the World Outlawed War, and The Military Industrial Complex at 50.
He is the host of Talk Nation Radio. He helped plan the nonviolent occupation of Freedom Plaza in Washington DC in 2011. He has worked as a newspaper reporter, as press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, and communications coordinator for ACORN. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsaCrime.org and works for RootsAction.org Swanson is Secretary of Peace in the Green Shadow Cabinet.
Swanson will sign books.
United University Church
817 W 34th Street
Los Angeles, CA, 90089
Exposition Light Rail: Jefferson / USC Station
Parking in the UUC lot and Lot M. Access to UUC parking is through Gate 5, McClintock/Jefferson entrance to USC. Get a parking permit at Gate 5 kiosk. Tell them you are going to the church. Turn left onto 34th Street and then next left onto Watt Way. Turn right into Lot M and go through Lot M to UUC Lot.
12:00 - 2:30 p.m. May 10, 2014
Free Admission, Open to All.
Sponsored by: California Peace Alliance, Interfaith Communities United for Justice and Peace, Military Families Speak Out, MLK Coalition LA, Peace Center of United University Church, Project Great Futures, Topanga Peace Alliance, United Teachers of Los Angeles Human Rights Committee, and Veterans For Peace.
CONTACT: Kathleen at 310-339-1770.
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Shahid Buttar, the Executive Director of The Bill of Rights Defense Committee, and Kevin Zeese of Popular Resistance sit down with host Dennis Trainor, Jr. in this episode of Acronym TV to discuss, among other things:
The Utility of the NSA | The 4th Amendment | Edward Snowden | The Espionage Act | Why the MSM treats Glenn Greenwald as a criminal | An update on Chelsea Manning | The Reset the Net Campaign | The Criminalization of Dissent | The Campaign to cut off Water to the NSA | and we ask the question: In what significant ways is President Obama different than the Straussian, noble liars that preceded him?
Originally posted at PopularResistance.org
Dr. Jill Stein on Capitalism, the most important question of the climate struggle, and just how long we have before the planet will no longer support civilization.
Days before the Earth Day to May Day Global Climate Convergence kicked off, Dr. Jill Stein talked with Dennis Trainor, Jr. of Acronym TV in a wide-ranging conversation about her hopes for the Convergence, a first response to ShowTime’s new series Years of Living Dangerously, and why the Climate Justice movement is all about jobs.
Check out these short clips below, or watch the full episode here.
Originally posted at PopularResistance.org Recently, Dr. Margaret Flowers initiated an online petition declaring herself a consciences objector to the Affordable Care Act and asking others to send a message to President Obama that the ACA is a scam.
In this short clip (above), Dr. Flowers states:
“The most important question we should be having right now, knowing that insurgence is not protective, is do we want to continue to treat health care as a commodity and people only get what they can afford, or do we want to join the rest of the industrialized nations in the world and treat health care as a public good and create a system where people can get what they need.”
You can watch the full interview below:
Portugal as a Model for a New Socialism?
by Leila Dregger
Preliminary note of the author:
In this text the words socialism and communism are used synonymously. I see their differentiation and the rift, which has been stretched between their representatives, as no longer appropriate today. This article is directed toward all those interested in justice, solidarity and freedom.
By Winslow Myers
When Jonathan Schell, the most cogent moral philosopher of the nuclear age, died of cancer last month, it left a rift in the moral fabric of our small planet, a hole similar in size to those left by the three Alberts—Camus, Einstein and Bigelow. Never heard of Bert Bigelow? He was the Harvard grad who in 1958 twice tried to sail his ketch, the Golden Rule, into the waters of the South Pacific where nuclear weapons were being tested—and found time as well to be beaten up by racist thugs alongside Congressman John Lewis while protesting for civil rights.
Compared to giants like Schell, Bert Bigelow, or General Lee Butler, a former head of the Strategic Air Command who now advocates for nuclear abolition, the people who presume to military, political and industrial leadership here and abroad sometimes seem, from top to bottom, like a bunch of corrupt, deluded, hypocritical flunkies.
I take this indignant tone not out of moral superiority, but because like many ordinary citizens I experience periodic spasms of hopelessness. I have no say—except here—in deliberations over war and climate change that could affect the lives of billions of my fellow inhabitants of spaceship earth.
I take comfort that a similar spleen occasionally overtook the prophet of love whose rise from death into new life we celebrate on Easter: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are like unto whited sepulchres, which indeed appear beautiful outward, but are within full of dead men's bones, and of all uncleanness!”
NATO presses against the Western flank of Russia, risking a game of nuclear chicken, and then feigns surprise when Russia pushes back. While the U.S. administration self-righteously excoriates Iran for its mere intent to build a nuclear weapon, our Congress in January happily funds the production of the latest version of a 700-pound hydrogen bomb that will be fitted to fighter planes in Belgium, Holland, Turkey, Germany and Italy. A more blatant violation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is hard to imagine.
That the law of force still prevails over the force of law has its roots in a collective insanity, a gigantic echo chamber of projection. Possessing such enormous destructive power themselves, the nuclear nations cannot afford to acknowledge that they are potential agents of genocide—even omnicide—so we project onto each other the malevolence contained in our own weapons. The effect is a grotesque chimera, a monster “meme” that does nothing but make apocalypse more likely. Some in the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) coalition which focuses on genocide, have rightly turned their attention to the genocide-in-waiting that reside under the wings, in the silos, and within the submarines of the nuclear powers.
Do Costa Rica or Sweden feel so threatened by each other that they obsess with obtaining nuclear weapons to keep them “safe”? They do not. Nonetheless if, God forbid, nuclear winter happened, they would perish alongside those in the nuclear club. The whited sepulcher of our international system is based in the gross illusion that the potential for perfect destruction will maintain perfect security. And behind that looms a far older illusion, that the best way to resolve a conflict is to kill those with whom you disagree. Did this work between Hutu and Tutsi in Rwanda 20 years ago? It did not. Will it work between separatists and their opponents in the Ukraine—or between Russia and NATO? It will not.
The vast majority of our leaders and lawmakers do not yet seem to understand that national interest can no longer be at cross-purposes with planetary interest. Spending billions more on nuclear weapons will do nothing to solve growing climate instability or the withering away of life in our oceans.
Effective leadership must now initiate on the basis that the self-interest of my country is intimately bound up with the self-interest of my “adversaries.” Shia will not be secure until Sunnis feel secure. Israelis will not feel secure until Palestinians feel secure. Ukraine will not feel secure until Russia feels secure. No one will feel secure until we start spending less on weapons and more on clean, renewable energy.
Out of the crucifixion that was Dresden and Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki, out of the crucifixion that is Iraq or Syria or the Central African Republic today, may a resurrection come where military creativity measures its effectiveness by something other than the sheer level of destruction at its command. Let us call upon all the institutions that enshrine our values and powers, the governments and their armies, the churches and mosques and synagogues and temples, the universities, and the corporations, to turn their creativity toward the life-affirming mission of caring for the entire earth community.
Winslow Myers, the author of “Living Beyond War: A Citizen’s Guide, writes on global issues and serves on the Advisory Board of the War Prevention Initiative.
Employees of the U.S. government refer to people they murder as "bugsplat." They pretend that the men, women, and children they are killing with drones are just bugs, because they just look like little fuzzy creatures on a computer screen. Thank goodness for the artists who have put a giant portrait of a child in a field for the drone murderers to see and think about. Maybe the rest of us could think about it, and do more than think about it, too.
In Davidson, North Carolina, among many other places in the world, wealthy people ignore the suffering of the poor right nearby them as well as thousands of miles away. A fraction of what the U.S. government spends killing people with drones could end starvation in the world, and many certainly seem not to care. A fraction of what someone spends in a shopping mall could make a real difference in the life of someone sleeping on a bench, but most people provide no help.
But in an odd irony, many people in North Carolina, among many other places in the world, cling to ancient magical beliefs that just happen to include worshiping a man who was poor and who recommended caring for the poor. A sculpture of a homeless Jesus, a man you're supposed to worship because he has nail marks on his metallic feet, has got some people wondering whether they should find a little decency and compassion for those homeless people on benches who are made of flesh and blood.
CIA Director John Brennan, aka Obama's Cheney, was dispatched to Ukraine, where the U.S. had already spent $5 billion stirring up trouble. Ukrainian troops were immediately sent to attack protesters in eastern cities. Brennan may have had drones in his head. Drones have been known to crash, but never to stop and have a beer with the enemy. Drones often blow up the "wrong people," but they don't invite people to climb on board and share a laugh. When unarmed Ukrainians confronted tanks, many soldiers joined the people. How Brennan thought Ukrainians could be sent to kill Ukrainians seems a mystery after the images of human decency have taken over. How Christians think the poor and homeless, the hungry and ill-clothed can be blamed for their own inability to satiate their greed seems baffling when faced with the homeless Jesus. How drone "pilots" can sit and take part in the world's worst real-life Milgram experiment ought to horrify anyone who stops and thinks -- and nothing can make people stop and think the way a great work of art can. A picture is worth a million words, and a few lives let's hope.
Originally Posted at PopularResistance.org
Dennis talks with Dr. Jill Stein, President of the Green Shadow Cabinet about the recently published U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) fifth assessment on climate change. The findings, combined with the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, paint a picture of humanity committing a collective genocide and ecocide. The end of civilization scenarios, once projected for your grandchildren’s grandchildren are now a reality for anyone ho plans to be alive in 2050.
by AFRI (Action from Ireland)
Our society has lost a great activist today with the death of John Judge. No one spoke more clearly, strongly, and informedly on political power, militarism, and activism for positive change. While John lived nextdoor to Dennis Kucinich -- and with one of the best views and one of the best collections of political books and documents -- in Washington, D.C., it was as staff person for Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney that he advanced numerous causes of peace and justice and accountability for the powerful on Capitol Hill. On impeaching Bush and Cheney he was there first. John's expertise reached back into history and across continents. From the Kennedy assassination to conscientious objection to how-a-bill-becomes-a-law, he was a person to turn to for information and wisdom who was never anything but helpful, friendly, cheerful, and energetic. He could describe the hiring of Nazis in Operation Paperclip and the creation of the Cold War and then suggest that perhaps the Nazis actually won World War II. He could explain the creation of standing armies in such a manner that you knew without a doubt that either our society was insane or you were. He could get you thinking and get you active. And always with complete humility and good will. He will be missed.
I just opened this small selection of videos of John all at once, and it wasn't enough:
Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog
Flying beneath the public radar, though, is another TransCanada-proposed pipeline with a similar function as Keystone XL. But rather than for carrying tar sands bitumen to the Gulf Coast, this pipeline would bring to market shale gas obtained via hydraulic fracturing ("fracking").
Two professional sports teams in Washington, D.C., have intolerable names: the Redskins and the Nationals.
The Redskins name is disgusting racism that recalls the nation's original genocidal sin, a crime that carries over to today's naming of weapons and operations after various Native Americans and treating other groups of people as valueless.
But I for one find it easier to imagine a crowd of Redskins fans as ignorant and oblivious -- which is really the best you can hope to imagine a crowd to be. They aren't consciously advocating genocide. Most of them have never stopped to think how they would respond as a white minority to a team called The Fighting Whities, but they also aren't thinking about racial superiority. They're thinking "I want OUR team to beat the other team," and having identified themselves with the team, they just accept its name like they accept their own names regardless of how evil King David or whomever they're named for was.
The Nationals, on the other hand, are part of the promotion of the worst crimes our society is currently engaged in. A National's game is packed, inning after inning, with songs and cheers and announcements promoting war. Fans are told that the U.S. Navy is "keeping the world's oceans safe and free" -- and they stand and cheer for that, even as the U.S. Navy and Army and Air Force and Marines and assorted special forces and mercenaries and CIA kill, and kill, and kill, building hostility around the world.
"I'm proud to be an American because at least I know I'm free," they hear and sing. How do they know they're free? How does an ocean know it's free? What in the world are they talking about? This nation lacks civil liberties and human rights found elsewhere, and we lose more rights with every war. Where's our Fourth Amendment? Our First Amendment? Where are Roosevelt's freedoms from fear and want? Polluting the world's oceans with death machines that launch missiles into people's houses doesn't make us or the fish or the people murdered "free."
Can we imagine Nationals' fans as oblivious? Do they not know that the world doesn't appreciate being kept "free"? Do they suppose that wars really benefit people? Do they not know what was done to Iraq? Maybe, but I for one find it a greater strain to imagine. The uniformed killers are right there, being honored, singing songs. And the team is named for the concept that 5% of humanity should be identified with over the other 95%. There's not an enlightened way to do that, and as long as we imagine there to be we'll remain as ignorant and destructive as jackasses who paint their faces red and stick feathers on their heads to go to football games. In fact, we might be worse.
Humanity Versus a Corrupt State:
Coups and Cash Machines in Rio de Janeiro
By John Grant
The mechanisation of killing is marching on. The dream of the controllers is to replace "human" riot police or soldiers with "Robo Cops". No need to take into account any "sentient" uncertainties. The activist organisation AFRI (Action from Ireland) is starting an awareness campaign. Here is their announcement.
Irish launch of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots
Irish School of Ecumenics -Loyola Institute building (facing rubgy pitch)