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Talk Nation Radio: After the Legalization of Marijuana

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/after-the-legalization-of

Jon Walker is a writer and a senior policy analyst at FireDogLake.com and the author of the new book After Legalization: Understanding the Future of Marijuana Policy in America. We look into his crystal ball.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Building a Global Movement to End All War

I've been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I've seen.  When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you've announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning -- and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it's time to start thinking about what you're going to help build as a movement.

In this case I'm talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:

"I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace."

This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org -- and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There's a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we'll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also -- as part of these actions -- the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how "the next war" will be fought.

So, we've set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial.  Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

We've also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.

This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth's natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria -- which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.

Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we've seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies. 

But we've only just begun to work out our plans, and we'd like everyone's input. If you go to http://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own.  You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities.  You can also enter a brief statement of your own.  Here are a few of the many entered already:

"I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war.  I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution." — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

"As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues.  We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons." —Ann Wright

"Everybody's worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there's a really easy way: stop participating in it." — Noam Chomsky

"It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war--everywhere. And it's great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King's call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into 'life-affirming activities.' Bravo!" —Medea Benjamin

"We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex." — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group

"The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity." — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000

"War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people's children. As former President Eisenhower said, 'I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.' When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world's people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us." —David Hartsough

http://WorldBeyondWar.org

Close GITMO March on the Washington Photos from Today by Ted Majdosz

Click for more:

 

Vowing to “Make Guantanamo History,” human rights advocates from around the country marked the beginning of the thirteenth year of torture and indefinite detention at the prison camp with a dramatic protest at the National Museum of American History. 150 activists occupied the atrium of the crowded museum for more than two hours, speaking out against torture and calling for Guantanamo to close.

The activists hung banners, stood in stress positions in hoods and jumpsuits, spoke to the tourists, and with their bodies and voices revised the museum’s “Price of Freedom” exhibit to include twelve years of torture and indefinite detention as the bitter cost of the United States’ misguided pursuit of “national security.”

In a booming chorus, members of Witness Against Torture and other groups read from a statement that closed with the lines: “to honor freedom and justice and the struggles of Americans for these things, we must end torture, close the prison and make Guantanamo history.”

Chantal deAlcuaz, a Witness Against Torture activist from Anchorage, Alaska spent the two hours in an orange jumpsuit and black hood. She reflected that: “We came here today because we want to see Guantanamo relegated to a museum — to be shuttered and condemned, but also understood as an example of where fear, hatred and violence can take us.”

The museum protest followed a robust and spirited rally at the White House that featured speeches from grassroots activists, Guantanamo attorneys and representatives of national human rights organizations.

“It was so great to see the spirit of hope at the White House, in the streets of DC and at the museum,” said Chris Knestrick, a divinity student form Chicago. “We definitely moved closer to our goal of closing Guantanamo today. And the work will continue!!”

Since Monday, January 6, Witness Against Torture activists from throughout the country have gathered in Washington, D.C. to engage in street theater, demonstrations, fasting and direct action to demand that Guantanamo be closed immediately.  There were also anti-Guantanamo protests and vigils throughout the country, including in Los Angeles, CA, Boston MA, Chicago IL, Santa Monica, CA Erie, PA, and Cleveland, OH.

Witness Against Torture is a grassroots movement that came into being in December 2005 when 24 activists walked to Guantanamo to visit the prisoners and condemn torture policies. Since then, it has engaged in public education, community outreach, and non-violent direct action. January 2014 is the eighth year the group has gathered annually in Washington, DC to call for justice and accountability. To learn more, visit www.witnesstorture.org

 

Talk Nation Radio: Edward Herman on the International Criminal Court (for Africa)

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-edward

This show opens with an awesome poem about drones by Misty Rowan.

Edward S. Herman says that Desmond Tutu is wrong to support the International Criminal Court, given its bias for prosecuting only Africans and only those Africans not working with the United States. Herman is a Professor Emeritus of Finance at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, where he gave courses in micro- and macro-economics and financial regulation for 30 years. He also taught courses on The Political Economy of the Mass Media and on The Analysis of Media Bias at the Annenberg School of Communication at Penn for a decade.  He has a regular "Fog Watch" column in the monthly Z Magazine and has published numerous articles on economics, finance, foreign policy, and media analysis in a wide array of professional and popular journals. Among his published books are The Political Economy of Human Rights (2 vols, with Noam Chomsky, South End Press, 1979); Corporate Control, Corporate Power (Cambridge University Press, 1981); Demonstration Elections: U.S.-Staged Elections in the Dominican Republic, Vietnam, and El Salvador (with Frank Brodhead, South End Press, 1984); Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media (with Noam Chomsky, Pantheon, 1988, revised editions 2002, 2008); The "Terrorism" Industry (with Gerry O'Sullivan, Pantheon, 1990); and most recently, The Politics of Genocide (with David Peterson, Monthly Review Press, 2010); and an edited volume, The Srebrenica Massacre: Evidence, Context, Politics (Alphabet Soup, 2011).

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Thou Shalt Not Make Fun of World War I

From The Guardian:

<<Once, in Blackadder, the eponymous first-world-war British army captain learned that the Germans were stealing our battle plans. "You look surprised, Blackadder," said Stephen Fry's absurdly over-moustachioed, rubicund General Melchett.
"I certainly am, sir," retorted our hero. "I didn't realise we had any battle plans."
"Well, of course we have!" shouted Melchett. "How else do you think the battles are directed?"
"Our battles are directed, sir?"
"Well, of course they are, Blackadder, directed according to the Grand Plan."
"Would that be the plan to continue with total slaughter until everyone's dead except Field Marshal Haig, Lady Haig and their tortoise, Alan?"
"Great Scott!" exclaims Melchett. "Even you know it!">>

The Secretary of Education of the United Kingdom (The United Kingdom has education?!) is royally upset that anyone would make fun of World War I as that great and glorious event hits the 100-year mark. And he's not upset because British humor is so relentlessly unfunny. He's upset because people might laugh.

But of course if people had been permitted to make fun of World War I at the time, without being thrown in prison (Yes, that was also Woodrow -- the Obama delusion for liberals of his day -- Wilson's policy), well then, perhaps the stupid bloody idiocy could have been stopped or prevented.

The Secretary of Education, if he had a bit of -- what is that stuff? oh yeah -- education would know that the majority of observers have very good reasons for believing that World War I was, as he puts it, "a misbegotten shambles – a series of catastrophic mistakes perpetrated by an out-of-touch elite."

Well, what would you call it when a group of inbred cousins meet to squabble over petty matters of competing egos at all the best weddings and funerals and then return to ruling over their respective nations as divinely appointed monarchs and ministers eager to send their peoples off to murder each other for no particular reason, especially if these sociopaths and their sycophants each decide they must defensively attack the other first, not because war can begin so quickly but because it takes months to badger people into knocking off the wisecracks, abandoning all sense of human decency, and picking up a gun, and then to put those people on trains to send them on a trip to a big field in which imbeciles on horses with swords will try to conquer machine guns and poison gas, eventually realize how ridiculous they are being, and hide in tents far from the fighting while ordering millions of others who have no interest in the affair to kill each other year after year after year for no earthly reason and with nothing to show for it at the end -- an end pre-determined by mutual agreement, but with the fighting continuing until that appointed day and hour?

And that was the wise, deliberate, and admirable part of World War I.  The stupidity really took hold, along with the influenza falsely called Spanish and the brilliant notion of banning alcohol, with the settlement of the war in a royal French palace where it was decided to punish the entire nation of Germany severely, begin preparations for World War II, carve up the so-called Middle-East in order to produce a century of chaos there, and to tell Ho Chi Minh to go to hell, laying some early groundwork for the never-to-be-ridiculed war on Vietnam, which the U.S. government is now funding a major campaign to beautify (don't laugh!).

All right, so maybe I find it all too horrific to laugh at, but if others can laugh at it -- even when the jokes are predictable and stupid -- I can think of nothing better for the world.  In fact, I wholeheatedly encourage everyone to complete this line: How many Secretaries of Education does it take to change a lightbulb?

Take away the gun
From every mother's son
We're taught by God above
To forgive, forget, and love

The weary world is waiting for
Peace, forevermore
So take away the gun
From every mother's son

And put an end to war

—Al Jolson
 

 

Videos: The Virginia People's Assembly


Open for a lot more videos.

Top 10 Proofs People Can Be Completely Manipulated Without Hypnosis

1. Any article listing the top 10 of anything will be widely read.

2. A poll of people in 65 countries, including the United States, finds that the United States is overwhelmingly considered the greatest threat to peace in the world. The consensus would have been even stronger had the United States itself not been polled, because the 5 percent of humanity living here is largely convinced that the other 95% of humanity -- that group with experience being threatened or attacked by the United States -- is wrong. After all, our government in the U.S. tells us it's in favor of peace. Even when it bombs cities, it does it for peace. It's hard for people under the bombs to see that. We in the U.S. have a better perspective.

3. Polls in the United States through the 2003-2011 war on Iraq found that a majority in the U.S. believed Iraqis were better off as the result of a war that severely damaged -- even destroyed -- Iraq[1]. A majority of Iraqis, in contrast, believed they were worse off.[2] A majority in the United States believed Iraqis were grateful.[3] This is a disagreement over facts, not ideology. But people often choose which facts to become aware of or to accept. Tenacious believers in tales of Iraqi "weapons of mass destruction" tended to believe more, not less, firmly when shown the facts. The facts about Iraq are not pleasant, but they are important. To believe that the people who live where your nation's government has waged a war are better off for it, despite those people's contention that they are worse off, suggests an extreme sort of arrogance -- and a misplaced arrogance because you've just proven that a few slick politicians can make you believe up is down.

4. According to U.S.ians the greatest threat to peace on earth is a nation that hasn't threatened any other, and hasn't attacked any other in centuries, a nation that suffered horrible chemical weapons attacks and refused to use chemical weapons in response, a nation that has refused to develop nuclear weapons but been falsely accused of doing so by the U.S. government for decades. That's right: a bit of laughably bad propaganda, regurgitated in variations for 30 years, and the smart critical thinkers of the Land of the Free declare a nation with a military budget below 1% of their own -- Iran -- the Greatest Threat to Peace.[4] Edward Bernays is cackling wickedly in his grave.

5. Because no cartoon character has ever been named after Edward Bernays, nobody's ever heard of him.

6. In poll after poll after poll, 75% to 85% in the United States say their system of government is broken. Yet, what remains the top piece of advice to agitators for change? That's right: "Work within the system." And what remains the fallback ultimate reliable justification for launching or escalating or continuing a war: That's right: "We need to bring our system of government to others."

7. When U.S. military spending begins to inch below $1 trillion a year, military-friendly journalists declare the weapons lobby dead.  When it begins to inch back slightly above $1 trillion a year, slightly less military-friendly journalists declare the weapons profiteers alive but struggling. In both scenarios the level of spending remains roughly $1 trillion and the difference between the high end and the low end, while greater than most other public programs will ever see, is less than the Pentagon "misplaces" in an average 12-month period.

8. On Tuesdays, President Barack Obama goes through a list of men, women, and children, picks which ones to have murdered, and has them murdered. Knowing this would conflict with hating exclusively a particular sub-group of our public sociopaths, so most people simply choose not to know it.

9. If Iraq had really had those weapons, and if Syria had demonstrably really killed a small number of its victims with the wrong type of weapons, and if Iran were really building nuclear weapons, . . . then launching wars on those countries would still be illegal, immoral, and disastrous. We all have opinions about the question the warmakers want asked, but not about the insanity that lies behind the question.

10. People have been dying since before recorded history, and yet only those who pretend to believe nobody dies can be considered serious, honest, upstanding folk. That there's another longer life helps us not worry so much about getting screwed during this one. Perhaps it also helps us in allowing our "representatives" to routinely end the lives of so many foreign, and thus ignorant, people.

Footnotes:

1. The last such poll may have been Gallup in August 2010.
2. Zogby, Dec. 20, 2011.
3. The last such poll may have been CBS News in August 2010.
4. Check out Gareth Porter's forthcoming book, Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

The Story of Gaza

Young authors of fiction from Gaza, some of whom say they are finding Palestine on the internet while unable to see it exist in reality, have just published a collection of stories, written in English, marking the five-year anniversary of the 23 days from December 27, 2008, until Obama's inauguration, during which Israel bombed the people of Gaza far more heavily than usual.  They're publishing a new excerpt of the book each of these 23 days on their FaceBook page. You can talk with them in an upcoming Google Hangout.

For five years, the world -- just like Obama -- has overwhelmingly been "looking forward" when it comes to crimes committed by nations aligned with the U.S. government.  But the crimes in Gaza then and now, and in other countries, have been exposed to unprecedented "looking present" through immediate real-time blogging available to those actively looking, even in the places responsible for the far-away terrorism-too-big-to-call-by-that-name. If everyone turned off their television and searched on a computer for news about their own country as reported in other countries, injustice, rather than our natural environment, would be endangered.

The telling of truer-than-news stories by these young Gazans has the potential to reach many more minds, and to set an example that just might scare off the next "humanitarian war" no matter where it's targeted.  If victims of military benevolence can have their stories read by people who matter, or who could matter if they acted, and if those stories inevitably effect understanding of the obvious-but-always-denied fact that they are like we, that those people are people just like these people, that something has "brought out their humanity," then the shock and awe might have to move from its fictional location in the streets of non-humans' cities to a real existence in the offices of Lockheed Martin. 

The stories in this book are of childhood and family, love and loss, soccer and toothaches. As with any story, people are placed in particularly special circumstances. A visit to the doctor is a visit to someone making decisions of triage: Will your father be sent to a specialist to be saved, or will this baby who has a better chance at living be sent instead? Two farmers, a Gazan and an Israeli unknowingly stand just inches or feet away from each other, separated by an impenetrable wall.  A Gazan and an Israeli are perhaps attracted to each other, but blocked by a wall that needs no physical presence. A child is listening to a bedtime story when a missile strikes the house. Who will live? And who will be traumatized? Or was everyone pre-traumatized already?

"I spent that night thinking of Thaer's home, of the distant life in Mama's eyes. I kept wondering what's more torturous: the awful buzz of the drone outside or the sounds of some tough questions inside. I guess I eventually slept with no answer, thanking the drone for not giving my inner uproar any chance to abate."

Children in Gaza know the names of books, of toys, of movies, of trees, and of deadly flying aircraft. Some of the latter are called "Apaches," named after a people marched, and imprisoned, and slaughtered by the U.S. military, people kept in camps that inspired the Nazis', whose camps in turn inspired what the nation of Israel now does to non-Jewish African immigrants.  How long will it be before little children in China are pointing to the sky in fear of a swarm of "Gazas"?

These stories are of people and of land, and of efforts to understand other people on the land. Understanding is a challenge:

"If a Palestinian bulldozer were ever invented (Haha, I know!) and I were given the chance to be in an orchard, in Haifa for instance, I would never uproot a tree an Israeli planted. No Palestinian would. To Palestinians, the tree is sacred, and so is the Land bearing it."

Gazans try to imagine what goes on in the minds of Israeli soldiers, particularly those soldiers who have killed their family members. One story tells the tale of an Israeli soldier's regret (or what we like to clinically and cleanly call PTSD), and of the soldier's wife's efforts to ease his pain:

"Honey, you were doing your job to follow orders. It's alright."

These words come as kind words of comfort, spoken to a man beyond the point of being able to hear them. And at the same time they come as an articulation of an ongoing horror of immense proportions. The contrast of these multiple meanings might make us all stop and question what we hear too often without thinking. Here in the United States, for example, any soldier in uniform gets on any airplane first and is thanked for his or her "service." Surely not thanking someone for their service would be impolite. But those who flip the switch on our prisons' electric chairs aren't thanked. Those who risk their lives to put out fires are not thanked. Only those who kill in war, even as their largest current killing operation -- in Afghanistan -- has the support of 17% in the U.S. and polling around the globe finds a consensus that the United States is the leading threat to peace on earth.

The stories from Gaza are not essays. They do not address the inevitable "What about the Gazans' own violence?" One need not misunderstand the nature of the occupation, the slow genocide, the international injustice, the vastly disproportionate violence and suffering imposed on one side of this so-called conflict in order to believe that "What about the Gazans' own violence?" is a reasonable question. Nor need one be a Gazan or an inexcusably arrogant and unsympathetic fool to have the right to disagree with the usual answer. The stories come with an introduction from the editor in which he expresses support for this well-known concept: "by any means necessary."  I prefer this phrasing: "by any means effective." Means that most easily express rage are sometimes misinterpreted as necessary, while means that have the best chance of succeeding are rejected for not having a greater chance than they do.

The stories themselves don't actually take up that debate. Rather they depict the struggle merely to survive, the bravery that we may in fact all need everywhere if the earth's climate goes the way scientists expect. These young people from Gaza may become leaders in a movement to create peace and justice before madness and disaster-imperialism overtake the comfortable and the forgotten alike.  I wonder if, and hope, they know the Afghan Peace Volunteers, and the people of No Dal Molin in Italy, and of Gangjeong Village on Jeju Island, and I hope they will join a new worldwide movement to end war that will be launching next year.

Sending Love to Gaza:

What Your Local Radio Stations Could Be Airing

Talk Nation Radio is a 29-minute program available every Wednesday for free to any radio station that wants to air it. Dozens are airing it now, and your local stations would probably be happy to do the same if they knew about it. Please let them know. It's syndicated by Pacifica Network. It's available at http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio and it's FREE.

Think how many people would then hear shows like these!

(Which you can hear online anytime and embed on your own website or social media page.)

Robert Parry on Syria in Reality and in the New York Times

Lisa Simeone on How the TSA Trains Us in Complete Obedience

Doug Fry: Humans Have Not Evolved for War

Andy Shallal on Why He Should Be Mayor of Washington D.C.

Adam Hochschild on Ending Slavery and Not Ending War

I'm Thankful We Can Abolish Debt

Stephen Kinzer on The Dulles Brothers

Manuel Perez-Rocha: 20 Years of NAFTA Is Enough

Ann Jones on How the Wounded Return

Margaret Flowers: Web Failures Just a Symptom of Obamacare's Illness

Max Blumenthal on Israeli Ethnocracy

72 Cities Demand Clean Air Act Be Enforced to Protect Climate

Stephen Canty: Once a Marine.

Nathan Schneider on the Occupy Apocalypse

Taking Kent State to the United Nations

Iraqi Students in the U.S.

Rep. Alan Grayson on Syria: House Will Vote No, Obama Will Heed

Patrick Cockburn: Missiles Won't Make Peace in Syria

Jean Bricmont: Keep Humanitarian Imperialism Out of Syria

Tim Shorrock on Peace and Its Opponents in Korea

The EPA Lies for Frackers and Tar Sands Producers

Rooj Alwazir: U.S. Drones Terrorize Yemen

Medical Experimentation on Children in Cold War America

Hunger Strikers and the Law vs. the Prison Industry

John Whitehead on Our Government of Wolves

Gar Alperovitz Points to Worker Ownership as Fix for Broken Democracy

Nobel Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire Says Syrians Oppose Intervention

Peter Kuznick Tells the Untold History of the United States

U.S. Peace and Justice Activists to Gather in Madison, Wisc.

Rick Rowley Tells How He Made the Film "Dirty Wars"

Guantanamo Is Getting Worse

David Vine on U.S. Bases All Over the World

Carl Gibson on Shutting Down the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

Arun Gupta on Iraqis in California and Professor Petraeus

Highway Boondoggles Bypass Budget Crunch

Here Comes Corporate Nationhood

Pentagon Professor Says the U.S. Military Overpowers Civilian Rule and Should Be Demilitarized

Honduras Most Dangerous Country in World Thanks to Us

Jody Sokolower on Teaching Wars in U.S. Schools

Richard Wolff on Putting Workers in Charge at Work

Robert Shetterly's Portraits of Americans Who Tell the Truth

Wenonah Hauter on Foodopoly

Robert Fantina on War and the Bravery of Deserters

Norman Solomon on Iraq War Lies and New Online Activism

Nick Turse: Kill Everything That Moves

The Crisis in Mali and How to Stop Contributing to It

"I Killed People in Afghanistan: Was I Right or Wrong?"

Robert Pollin: There Is No Fiscal Crisis

Marcy Wheeler: Brennan Is Obama's Cheney

Reese Erlich on Bahrain and Syria

Stephen Zunes on Kerry, Hagel, Brennan, and Obama Part II

Shahid Buttar on Spying, Detention, Torture, and Zero Dark Thirty

Sam Pizzigati: What Serious Progressive Taxes Would Look Like

David Hartsough on Peace Work

Roy Hange on Struggle for Peace in Syria and Iran

Erica Chenoweth on the Strategic Logic of Nonviolent Conflict

Michael McPhearson and Michael Eisenscher on Jobs Not Wars

Glen Ford on Black and Progressive Activism in the Obama Era

William Blum on America's Deadliest Export: Democracy

Brian Terrell Is Headed to Prison for Protesting Drones

Gar Smith on Nuclear Roulette

Mike Elk on Employers Telling Workers How to Vote

Green Party Presidential Nominee Jill Stein

Kucinich Says Failure to Impeach Bush Has Allowed Obama to Intensify Bush's Policies

How Did NATO Go Global?

Slow Democracy Is Better Democracy

Comedy as Political Force

War Tax Resistance

The Risks and Benefits of Political Theater in the West Bank

Sanctions on Iran -- March Toward War

How Young People Shut Down a Strip Mine in West Virginia and Why

The War on Whistleblowers With Thomas Drake and Jesselyn Radack

How Drones Appear from the Receiving End

Hidden History of the War on Iraq and Its Oil

Leah Bolger on the Upcoming National Convention of Veterans For Peace

Clinical Psychologist Bruce Levine Says U.S. Citizenry Particularly Inactive

U.S. Poverty Is Expanding and Worsening

An Israeli General's Son Meets Palestinians, Reverses His Beliefs

Bombs Bursting in Air, Alice Slater on Nuclear Weaponry in the World Today

Contempt, Congress, and Elizabeth Holtzman on How to Prosecute George W. Bush

Bruce Gagnon on U.S. Aggression Toward Russia and China

Sandy Davies on War, Weapons, and Obama

Chase Madar on the Passion of Bradley Manning

Marcy Winograd on Leaving the Democratic Party and Opposing War

Coleen Rowley's Top Ten Ways to Be a Good Citizen

Cindy Sheehan on the Venezuelan Constitution as a Model for the United States

Stephen M. Kohn on Our Government's Attacks on Whistleblowers

Rebecca Vilkomerson on Jewish Voice for Peace

Medea Benjamin on Drone Wars and This Weekend's Upcoming Drone Summit

Dahr Jamail: BP Oil Disaster Ongoing After Two Years

John Horgan on the End of War

Rocky Anderson on His Campaign for President

When a War Veteran Tortures His Daughter, and She Survives

The Power of Theater to End Militarism

3-Hour Military Test Secretly Administered in Thousands of High Schools

Students Hunger Strike for a Living Wage

Robert Naiman of Just Foreign Policy on Bahrain, AIPAC, and Military Spending

Paul Chappell on How We End War Forever 

##

Talk Nation Radio: Robert Parry on Syria in Reality and in the New York Times

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-robert-parry

Robert Parry reports that the New York Times has finally, and quietly, admitted that a key claim pushed in September by the New York Times and Human Rights Watch that nearly took the United States to war in Syria is false. Parry has been the editor of ConsortiumNews.com since 1995. He broke stories on Iran-Contra and the October Surprise for AP and Newsweek and other outlets. His books include America's Stolen Narrative: From Washington and Madison to Nixon, Reagan, and the Bushes to Obama.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

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Talk Nation Radio: Lisa Simeone on How the TSA Trains Us in Complete Obedience

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-lisa-simeone

Listen to this show and you may not think of air travel the same way again. Lisa Simeone runs the civil liberties watchdog site TSA News Blog, where she and her writers keep track of the abuses of the Transportation Security Administration.  Simeone has been working in public radio and print for 30 years. She has hosted NPR's All Things Considered, Weekend Edition, and Performance Today, also the independent documentary series Soundprint. She's written book reviews and op-eds for the Baltimore Sun and now writes on a variety of subjects for Style Magazine. In 2011, she was fired by Soundprint and blacklisted by NPR for her involvement in the Occupy movement. She managed to hang on to two radio gigs and continues her lifelong political activism.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://davidswanson.org/talknationradio

Senator Kirk's War Prayer

Senator Kirk was praying to Senators Schumer and Menendez, or rather to his god but for their benefit. He was praying in his office where the three were gathered late at night. He was praying for a chance to drop bombs on Iran.

An aged stranger entered the office without a sound, despite the closed door.  He moved with slow and noiseless step toward Senator Kirk's desk, his eyes fixed upon the senator, his long body clothed in a robe that reached to his feet, his head bare, his white hair descending in a frothy cataract to his shoulders, his seamy face unnaturally pale, pale even to ghastliness. With all eyes following him and wondering, he made his silent way; without pausing, he reached the desk and stood there waiting. With shut lids the senator, unconscious of his presence, continued with his moving prayer, and at last finished it with the words, uttered in fervent appeal, "Bless our arms, grant us the victory, O Lord our God, Father and Protector of our land and flag!"

The stranger touched his arm, motioned him to step aside -- which the startled senator did -- and took his place in the senator's leather chair. During some moments he surveyed the spellbound audience of three bewildered senators with solemn eyes, in which burned an uncanny light; then in a deep voice he said:

"I come from the Throne -- bearing a message from Almighty God!" The words smote the room with a shock; if the stranger perceived it he gave no attention. "He has heard the prayer of His servant your shepherd, and will grant it if such shall be your desire after I, His messenger, shall have explained to you its import -- that is to say, its full import. For it is like unto many of the prayers of men, in that it asks for more than he who utters it is aware of -- except he pause and think.

"God's servant and yours has prayed his prayer. Has he paused and taken thought? Is it one prayer? No, it is two -- one uttered, the other not. Both have reached the ear of Him Who heareth all supplications, the spoken and the unspoken. Ponder this -- keep it in mind. If you would beseech a blessing upon yourself, beware! lest without intent you invoke a curse upon a neighbor at the same time. If you pray for the blessing of rain upon your crop which needs it, by that act you are possibly praying for a curse upon some neighbor's crop which may not need rain and can be injured by it.

"You have heard your servant's prayer -- the uttered part of it. I am commissioned of God to put into words the other part of it -- that part which the senator -- and also you in your hearts -- fervently prayed silently. And ignorantly and unthinkingly? God grant that it was so! You heard these words: 'Grant us the victory, O Lord our God!' That is sufficient. The whole of the uttered prayer is compact into those pregnant words. Elaborations were not necessary. When you have prayed for victory you have prayed for many unmentioned results which follow victory-- must follow it, cannot help but follow it. Upon the listening spirit of God fell also the unspoken part of the prayer. He commandeth me to put it into words. Listen!

"O Lord our Father, our young patriots, idols of our hearts, go forth to battle -- be Thou near them! With them -- in spirit -- we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the Iranians. O Lord our God, help us to tear their men and women and children and infants to bloody shreds with our missiles; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

(After a pause.) "Ye have prayed it; if ye still desire it, speak! The messenger of the Most High waits!"

It was believed afterward that the man was a lunatic, because there was no sense in what he said.

Apologies to Mark Twain.

The War on Marriage on Christmas

Very rarely does our government ask us what to have a war on.  The proposal for missile strikes into Syria was a rare occasion when public pressure and other factors compelled Congress to demand a say. Public pressure then compelled Congress to say No.

But daily drone buzzings over various nations aren't occasions for public debate.  We aren't being asked about another decade in Afghanistan or cooking up a future war on Iran.  And our current president and his predecessor combined have wiped out eight wedding parties (six in Afghanistan, one in Iraq, and one in Yemen earlier this month) without our having ever been asked about any of them.

What if we were?

There are various ways a debate over whether to launch a war could go.  In a highly-informed debate, we might investigate whether a war would violate the Kellogg-Briand Pact, the U.N. Charter, and the U.S. Constitution.  We might ask how many adults, children, and infants would likely be killed, injured, and traumatized, how many refugees created, what sort of environmental damage, what economic cost, what erosion of our civil liberties, what heightened secrecy in government, what increase in violence throughout our culture and the country attacked, what likely blowback for decades to come, and what obvious alternatives are available to violence.  But, of course, if we asked all that, then we'd never have any wars.

In a more plausible scenario, we might expect a debate to squeeze its way onto our televisions that would ask questions like: How many U.S. troops will die?  How much will it cost?  Why are we on the same side as al Qaeda this time?  How will it end once begun?  How does bombing more people express our support for suffering people?  Or, depending on the circumstances, maybe even this: Haven't we been arming that dictator for decades -- why the urgency to overthrow him now? 

But how would a debate over whether to send hellfire missiles screaming into a wedding party look?  What if such a debate were to develop in our news media this Christmas season? 

In areas of frequent drone strikes, people are often afraid to get together in large numbers.  In Yemen, parents resort to home schooling for fear of letting their children out of the house.  Few and far between are the events deemed important enough to risk violating that rule.  One such event is a wedding. 

How much, we might hear our pundits ask, could be saved by killing 15 people at a wedding as opposed to killing them each separately?  (If the missiles alone cost $1 million each, the answer is well over $14 million.)  What element of surprise might be gained in obliterating people whose minds are distracted by love and friendship and an important right rite of passage?  What fear and respect might be placed into the minds of the survivors?  Let's say one of the wedding couple survives and the other doesn't; which one would it be most desirable to let live?  Does it matter what kind of dress the bride is wearing?  Should fashion consultants be brought in by the Pentagon, or should morning talk shows contribute that analysis as part of their patriotic duty?  Should the missiles hit just as little kids bearing flowers enter the scene?

The debate may sound absurd, but its creation would actually be a significant step toward sound government.  We ought to vote on or be represented by officials who vote on important decisions for us.  We ought to be informed, engaged, and consulted.  Therefore, a debate before the next wedding strike is a perfectly reasonable proposal -- unless of course we're going to unilaterally stop blowing up weddings.  Far be it from me to suggest anything that rash.

Bringing U.S. Crimes in Yemen to New York

By Nick Mottern
 
On Wednesday afternoon, Dec. 18, 2013,  about 20 people - from the Granny Peace Brigade (GPB), World Can't Wait, KnowDrones.org, Mary House (the Catholic Worker House in NYC) and Concerned Families of Westchester County - gathered in front of St. Patrick's Cathedral in New York City to witness on behalf of the 15 Yemeni wedding-goers who were killed by a US drone six days earlier.
 
  I brought a replica of the MQ-9 Reaper drone, one of the work horses of US drone killing, and as I carried the replica parts to be assembled in front of the cathedral, I was so heartened to see such a long line of witnesses.  Most were from the GPB, and the yellow smocks the Grannies wear at protests gave the line a heightened presence and assertion in the midst of a scene that was about anything but why we were there.  
 
  As the attached photos show, many, many people passed in front of us, with a fair number actively avoiding conversation and flyers, even when some of us approached them.   Although we were in front of one of the most renown houses of worship in the United States, and maybe the world, the atmosphere had no hint of spiritual intention.  St. Patrick's is in the heart of one of the most famous, some might say  infamous, shopping districts in America, and the prevailing energy had to do with commerce,  sight-seeing and rushing, constant rushing, rushing of souls flashing by pre-occupied with immediate demands.   Yemen, the drone dead and their families were galaxies away.
 
 
  The most pronounced, kindest evidence of a spiritual inspiration came from the NYC policeman who approached us when we gathered to begin the vigil.  He said he had been advised that we would be protesting, that we were free to stand on the broad sidewalk in front of the cathedral and that, if we wished, the police would, cordon off our spot, an offer we declined.  I have never experienced a policeman being welcoming in this way or to be so pleasant.   Conversely, when one of us went into the cathedral office to ask if someone might copy some additional flyers for us, he was told no and asked who gave us permission to be there anyway.  (Flyer attached)
 
  We arrived at 1:00 pm and left at 2:30, when we ran out of the 200 plus fliers.  The  end of the flyers was welcome in a way because the cold was beginning to establish a beachhead under our layers of clothing.    
 
  In terms of impact, I know that a man in his early 50's from Long Island, accompanied by his wife and children, was very interested in what we were doing, very sympathetic, and stood around for sometime.  I also found several passersby wanting to take a flyer, and two said they would definitely Facebook Pope Francis when I told them we were encouraging people to ask him to condemn drone warfare and drone surveillance.   I know others in our group had similar small signs of success, and I left feeling that at least for the time we were there we were honoring, and in some way praying for, those who had been killed in Yemen and for those who loved them.
 
  Pope Francis' Facebook address is:                     https://www.facebook.com/PopeFranciscus

Are There Just Wars?

What Drives War?

Talk Nation Radio: Doug Fry: Humans Have Not Evolved for War

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-doug-fry

Douglas Fry administers the Peace, Mediation and Conflict Research program between the University of Tampere and Åbo Akademi University in Finland. He is the author of Beyond War and War, Peace, and Human Nature. He discussed the evidence that war is a new and eliminable development in our species.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

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Peace in the Pentagon

I'm a huge fan of peace studies as an academic discipline that should be spread into every corner of what we call, with sometimes unclear justification, our education system.  But often peace studies, like other disciplines, manages to study only those far from home, and to study them with a certain bias. 

I recently read a book promoting the sophisticated skills of trained negotiators and suggesting that if such people, conversant in the ways of emotional understanding, would take over the Palestine "peace process" from the aging politicians, then ... well, basically, then Palestinians would agree to surrender their land and rights without so much fuss.  Great truths about negotiation skills only go so far if the goal of the negotiation is injustice based on misunderstanding of the facts on the ground.

I recently read another book discussing nonviolent resistance to injustice and brutality. It focused on a handful of stories of how peace was brought to various poor tribes and nations, usually through careful, respectful, and personal approaches, that appeased some tyrant's ego while moving him toward empathy.  These books are valuable, and it is good that they are proliferating.  But they always leave me wondering whether the biggest war-maker on earth is left out because war isn't war when Westerners do it, or is it, rather, because the military industrial complex requires a different approach.  How many decades has it been since a U.S. president sat down and listened to opponents of militarism?  Does the impossibility of such a thing remove it from our professors' consideration?

Here in Virginia's Fifth District, a bunch of us met with our then-Congressman Tom Perriello a few years back and sought respectfully and persuasively to bring him to oppose and stop funding the war on Afghanistan.  Perriello was and is, in some quarters, considered some sort of "progressive" hero. I've never understood why.  He did not listen.  Why?  We had majority opinion with us.  Was it because we lacked the skills?  Was it because of his sincere belief in so-called humanitarian wars?  Or was it something else?  The New York Times on Friday reported on the corruption of the organization where Perriello was hired immediately upon his electoral defeat.  The Center for American Progress takes funding from weapons companies and supports greater public funding of weapons companies.  The Democratic National Committee gave Perriello's reelection campaign a bunch of money just after one of his votes for a bill containing war money and a bank bailout (he seemed to oppose the latter).  White House officials and cabinet secretaries did public events with Perriello in his district just after his vote.

I know another member of Congress who wants to end wars and cut military spending, but when I ask this member's staff to stop talking about social safety net cuts as if they only hurt veterans rather than all people I can't even make my concern -- that of glorifying veterans as more valuable -- understood.  It's like talking to a brick military base.

My friend David Hartsough was one, among others, who spoke with President John Kennedy when he was President, urged him toward peace and believed he listened.  That didn't work out well for President Kennedy, or for peace.  When Gorbachev was ready to move the Soviet Union toward peace, President Ronald Reagan wasn't.  Was that because of sincere, well-meaning, if misguided notions of security?  Or was it senility, stupidity, and stubbornness?  Or was it something else?  Was it a system that wouldn't allow it?  Was something more than personal persuasion on the substance of the matter needed?  Was a new way of funding elections and communicating campaign slogans required first?  Would peace studies have to revise its approach if it noticed the existence of the Pentagon?

Of course, I think the answer is some of each.  I think reducing military spending a little will allow us to be heard a little more clearly, which will allow us to reduce military spending a little further, and so on.  And part of the reason why I think it's both and not purely "structural" is the opposition to war that brews up within the U.S. military -- as it did on missile strikes for Syria this past summer.  Sometimes members of the military oppose, protest, or even resist wars.

Another type of book that has proliferated madly is the account of military veterans' activism in the peace movement during the Bush presidency -- with always a bit on what survived of that movement into the reign of the Nobel Peace Laureate Constitutional Law Professor President.  I've just read a good one of these books called Fighting For Peace: Veterans and Military Families in the Anti-Iraq War Movement by Lisa Leitz.  This book, as well as any of them, provides insights into the difficulties faced by military and veteran peace activists, and military family member peace activists, as well as the contributions they've made.  I've become an associate (non-veteran) member of Veterans For Peace and worked for that group and with other groups like Iraq Veterans Against the War and Military Families Speak Out because of the tremendous job they've done.  The non-military peace movement needs to work ever harder at welcoming and encouraging and supporting military and veteran peace activism.  And vice versa. 

Different risks are involved.  Different emotions are involved.  Would you march against a war if it might ruin your own or a loved one's career?  To stretch the definition of war-maker a little, would you take a job with Lockheed-Martin if you oppose war?  What if you oppose war but your child is in the military -- would you be proud of his or her success and advancement into an elite murder team?  Should you not be proud of your child? 

The contributions of military and former military peace activists have been tremendous: the throwing back of medals, the memorials and cemeteries erected in protest and grief, the reenactment of war scenes on the streets, the testimony confessing to crimes no one wants to prosecute.  New people have been reached and opinions changed.  And yet, I want to say there is a downside.

Most peace activists have never been in the military.  Most books about peace activists are about the military ones.  This distorts and diminishes our understanding of what we're doing.  Most victims in our wars -- and I mean statistically almost all of them -- are on the other side, but most writing done about victims is about the U.S. military ones (assuming aggressors are victims).  The giant cemeteries representing the dead in Iraq are orders of magnitude too small to be accurate.  This severely distorts our understanding of one-sided slaughters, allowing the continuation of the myth of war as a contest between two armies. 

Eliminating war would logically involve eliminating the war-making machine, but veteran and military opponents of war, more often than others, want the military preserved and used for good ends.  Is that because it makes sense or because of personal identification?  Nationalism is driving wars, but military peace activists tend, more than others, to favor "good patriotism" or "true patriotism."  Must a peace movement that ought to celebrate international law and cooperation follow that lead? 

Leitz quotes Maureen Dowd claiming that veterans have "moral authority" to oppose war, unlike -- apparently -- those who have opposed war for a longer period of time or more consistently.  Imagine applying that logic to some other offense, such as child abuse.  We don't suggest that reformed child abusers have the greatest moral authority to oppose child abuse.  What about shoplifting?  Do reformed shoplifters have the greatest authority to oppose shoplifting?  I think that in any such situation, the former participants have a particular type of perspective.  But I think there's another valuable perspective in those who have opposed a crime.  Some veterans, of course, were in the military before I was born and have worked for the abolition of war longer than I've breathed.  I don't think their past diminishes them in any way.  I also don't think it does what Dowd thinks it does.

Dowd's idea may be that some wars are good and some bad, so we should trust those who've taken part in wars to make the distinction.  I'd disagree with the conclusion even if I agreed with the premise.  I don't think it's a premise the peace movement should accept.  Peace is as incompatible with some wars as it is with all wars. 

Accounts like Fighting for Peace bring out the segregation of military from civilian culture in the United States, a product of standing armies and standing foreign bases.  I once spoke on a panel with a Democratic veteran candidate for Congress who thankfully lost but who advocated for everyone joining the military so that everyone would be familiar with what the military was.  I have another proposal: everyone join civilian life, close the bases, dismantle the weapons, disassemble the ships, put solar panels on the runways, and give the Pentagon a new role to play.  I think it would make a fine roller skating rink.

In the meantime, we should try to understand and work with each other to reduce the military, and that requires doing so without promoting it or joining it.

99 Years Ago: A Pause in the War on Christmas

Frank Richards recalled:

"On Christmas morning we stuck up a board with 'A Merry Christmas' on it. The enemy had stuck up a similar one. Platoons would sometimes go out for twenty-four hours' rest -- it was a day at least out of the trench and relieved the monotony a bit -- and my platoon had gone out in this way the night before, but a few of us stayed behind to see what would happen. Two of our men then threw their equipment off and jumped on the parapet with their hands above their heads. Two of the Germans done the same and commenced to walk up the river bank, our two men going to meet them. They met and shook hands and then we all got out of the trench.

"Buffalo Bill [the Company Commander] rushed into the trench and endeavoured to prevent it, but he was too late: the whole of the Company were now out, and so were the Germans. He had to accept the situation, so soon he and the other company officers climbed out too. We and the Germans met in the middle of no-man's-land. Their officers was also now out. Our officers exchanged greetings with them. One of the German officers said that he wished he had a camera to take a snapshot, but they were not allowed to carry cameras. Neither were our officers.

"We mucked in all day with one another. They were Saxons and some of them could speak English. By the look of them their trenches were in as bad a state as our own. One of their men, speaking in English, mentioned that he had worked in Brighton for some years and that he was fed up to the neck with this damned war and would be glad when it was all over. We told him that he wasn't the only one that was fed up with it. We did not allow them in our trench and they did not allow us in theirs.

"The German Company-Commander asked Buffalo Bill if he would accept a couple of barrels of beer and assured him that they would not make his men drunk. They had plenty of it in the brewery. He accepted the offer with thanks and a couple of their men rolled the barrels over and we took them into our trench. The German officer sent one of his men back to the trench, who appeared shortly after carrying a tray with bottles and glasses on it. Officers of both sides clinked glasses and drunk one another's health. Buffalo Bill had presented them with a plum pudding just before. The officers came to an understanding that the unofficial truce would end at midnight. At dusk we went back to our respective trenches."

 

Bruce Bairnsfather remembered:

"The dawn of the 24th brought a perfectly still, cold, frosty day. The spirit of Christmas began to permeate us all; we tried to plot ways and means of making the next day, Christmas, different in some way to others. Invitations from one dug-out to another for sundry meals were beginning to circulate. Christmas Eve was, in the way of weather, everything that Christmas Eve should be.

"I was billed to appear at a dug-out about a quarter of a mile to the left that evening to have rather a special thing in trench dinners—not quite so much bully and Maconochie about as usual. A bottle of red wine and a medley of tinned things from home deputized in their absence. The day had been entirely free from shelling, and somehow we all felt that the Boches, too, wanted to be quiet. There was a kind of an invisible, intangible feeling extending across the frozen swamp between the two lines, which said 'This is Christmas Eve for both of us—something in common.'

"About 10 p.m. I made my exit from the convivial dug-out on the left of our line and walked back to my own lair. On arriving at my own bit of trench I found several of the men standing about, and all very cheerful. There was a good bit of singing and talking going on, jokes and jibes on our curious Christmas Eve, as contrasted with any former one, were thick in the air. One of my men turned to me and said:

"'You can 'ear 'em quite plain, sir!'

"'Hear what?' I inquired.

"'The Germans over there, sir; 'ear 'em singin' and playin' on a band or somethin'.'

"I listened;—away out across the field, among the dark shadows beyond, I could hear the murmur of voices, and an occasional burst of some unintelligible song would come floating out on the frosty air. The singing seemed to be loudest and most distinct a bit to our right. I popped into my dug-out and found the platoon commander."

"'Do you hear the Boches kicking up that racket over there?' I said.

"'Yes,' he replied; 'they've been at it some time!'

"'Come on,' said I, 'let's go along the trench to the hedge there on the right—that's the nearest point to them, over there.'

"So we stumbled along our now hard, frosted ditch, and scrambling up on to the bank above, strode across the field to our next bit of trench on the right. Everyone was listening. An improvised Boche band was playing a precarious version of 'Deutschland, Deutschland, uber Alles,' at the conclusion of which, some of our mouth-organ experts retaliated with snatches of ragtime songs and imitations of the German tune. Suddenly we heard a confused shouting from the other side. We all stopped to listen. The shout came again. A voice in the darkness shouted in English, with a strong German accent, 'Come over here!' A ripple of mirth swept along our trench, followed by a rude outburst of mouth organs and laughter. Presently, in a lull, one of our sergeants repeated the request, 'Come over here!'

"'You come half-way—I come half-way,' floated out of the darkness.

"'Come on, then!' shouted the sergeant. 'I'm coming along the hedge!'

"'Ah! but there are two of you,' came back the voice from the other side.

"Well, anyway, after much suspicious shouting and jocular derision from both sides, our sergeant went along the hedge which ran at right-angles to the two lines of trenches. He was quickly out of sight; but, as we all listened in breathless silence, we soon heard a spasmodic conversation taking place out there in the darkness.

"Presently, the sergeant returned. He had with him a few German cigars and cigarettes which he had exchanged for a couple of Maconochie's and a tin of Capstan, which he had taken with him. The séance was over, but it had given just the requisite touch to our Christmas Eve—something a little human and out of the ordinary routine.

"After months of vindictive sniping and shelling, this little episode came as an invigorating tonic, and a welcome relief to the daily monotony of antagonism. It did not lessen our ardour or determination; but just put a little human punctuation mark in our lives of cold and humid hate. Just on the right day, too—Christmas Eve! But, as a curious episode, this was nothing in comparison to our experience on the following day.

"On Christmas morning I awoke very early, and emerged from my dug-out into the trench. It was a perfect day. A beautiful, cloudless blue sky. The ground hard and white, fading off towards the wood in a thin low-lying mist. It was such a day as is invariably depicted by artists on Christmas cards—the ideal Christmas Day of fiction.

"'Fancy all this hate, war, and discomfort on a day like this!' I thought to myself. The whole spirit of Christmas seemed to be there, so much so that I remember thinking, 'This indescribable something in the air, this Peace and Goodwill feeling, surely will have some effect on the situation here to-day!' And I wasn't far wrong; it did around us, anyway, and I have always been so glad to think of my luck in, firstly, being actually in the trenches on Christmas Day, and, secondly, being on the spot where quite a unique little episode took place.

"Everything looked merry and bright that morning—the discomforts seemed to be less, somehow; they seemed to have epitomized themselves in intense, frosty cold. It was just the sort of day for Peace to be declared. It would have made such a good finale. I should like to have suddenly heard an immense siren blowing. Everybody to stop and say, 'What was that?' Siren blowing again: appearance of a small figure running across the frozen mud waving something. He gets closer—a telegraph boy with a wire! He hands it to me. With trembling fingers I open it: 'War off, return home.—George, R.I.' Cheers! But no, it was a nice, fine day, that was all.

"Walking about the trench a little later, discussing the curious affair of the night before, we suddenly became aware of the fact that we were seeing a lot of evidences of Germans. Heads were bobbing about and showing over their parapet in a most reckless way, and, as we looked, this phenomenon became more and more pronounced.

"A complete Boche figure suddenly appeared on the parapet, and looked about itself. This complaint became infectious. It didn't take 'Our Bert' long to be up on the skyline (it is one long grind to ever keep him off it). This was the signal for more Boche anatomy to be disclosed, and this was replied to by all our Alf's and Bill's, until, in less time than it takes to tell, half a dozen or so of each of the belligerents were outside their trenches and were advancing towards each other in no-man's land.

"A strange sight, truly!

"I clambered up and over our parapet, and moved out across the field to look. Clad in a muddy suit of khaki and wearing a sheepskin coat and Balaclava helmet, I joined the throng about half-way across to the German trenches.

"It all felt most curious: here were these sausage-eating wretches, who had elected to start this infernal European fracas, and in so doing had brought us all into the same muddy pickle as themselves.

"This was my first real sight of them at close quarters. Here they were—the actual, practical soldiers of the German army. There was not an atom of hate on either side that day."

 

John McCutcheon reimagined:

 

Joe Henry and Garth Brooks rediscovered:

 

Even Snoopy was inspired:

 

And now, after 99 years, what will we do?

There Are No Bad Bears

When he was a tiny little bear cub, Nelson would scamper over to be close to his mother when he heard any loud noise.  When he got a little bigger, if something scared him he would growl.  Bigger still, and he would stand up on his hind legs, growl, and wave his paws about.  And when he got even bigger than that -- when he began to look like a full-grown bear -- if Nelson heard something that might be dangerous, he would stand calmly still and listen harder.

Nelson's cubhood was a happy one.  His mother and the other big bears taught him to run and climb, and how to find the berries that were good and wouldn't make you sick.  They taught him how to settle arguments with other bears.  Growling was only for show, Nelson's mother always told him.

A bear must never attack another bear
But only growl and attack the air. 

She told him that little poem many times.

At the end of each day, Nelson's mother would read him stories before he went to bed in the cave. He especially liked "Goldilocks and the Three Humans." When Nelson got a little bigger his mother sometimes let him listen to stories told to a big circle of bears by the best bear storytellers in those mountains.  All of Nelson's friends listened to the stories, so Nelson's mother let him do so too.  Nelson found the stories -- full of fights and adventures -- to be tremendously strange but tremendously exciting.

Nelson knew that the bears around him in his woods and mountains were not the only bears in the world.  He knew other bears lived far way, and others even farther away on the far side of the world.  And yet Nelson was never taught a name for his bears until he was nearly full-grown.  And when he was taught the name, it was a name he had heard before in movies and books.  The name was: the Good Bears.

Nelson was happy to be a Good Bear, but the Bad Bears worried him.  He was told where they lived, and he was horrified at the thought that Bad Bears might come into the Good Bears' area.  He imagined what the Bad Bears looked like.  They must have horns and scales.  Some said the Bad Bears breathed fire.  Nelson began to grow afraid again, just as he had been afraid of everything when he had been a tiny cub.  And at the same time, Nelson was excited by the idea of the Bad Bears.  At any noise, Nelson would jump, his hair would stand up, he would rise and growl and wave his claws through the air fast enough to have ripped through a brick wall had there been a brick wall in the middle of the woods. 

There was nothing human in the woods until the day the truck came.  Nelson knew nothing of trucks.  They hadn't been in any stories.  He also knew nothing of guns.  So, when the forestry department came to help the bears by drugging them to sleep, inspecting them all over, sticking tags on them, and letting them go again, Nelson only knew that a large and noisy thing was nearby and getting closer.  He sprang into action.

While Nelson stood his tallest and roared his loudest at the truck, the truck did not talk back to him or retreat. The truck stopped. A human got out with something in his hands. There was a noise.  And then Nelson felt a sharp pain in his left rear leg.  Nelson felt dizzy.  He was spinning.  Or the forest was spinning.  Or the clouds were spinning.  Nelson heard voices, human voices.  They were saying he might be sick.  He must be tested.  They must help him.

Nelson woke up in a place he'd never seen or imagined.  There were huge hard bars on all sides of him, and above him.  Nelson roared like mad.  Humans came near to his cage but were afraid to come all the way up to it.  Nelson's rage and fury were limitless. Nelson nearly went insane with fear and anger and hatred. He roared and roared and smashed himself against the bars.  Afterward, he had no idea how long this had lasted.  It ended when the cage was loaded onto a truck, taken into the woods, and opened.  Nelson was free!

But something was wrong.  The trees were not the same as before.  The mountains were not the same shape.  It was as if the world had been twisted sideways somehow.  And then Nelson figured out what had happened.  The humans had released him into the wrong woods.  They had put him in the land of the Bad Bears.  Nelson shook with fear.  It was one thing to imagine fighting the Bad Bears with all the Good Bears standing at your side, like in the stories told to bear cubs.  It was another thing to be alone, the only Good Bear in a world of vicious Bad Bears seeking to destroy you.

Nelson heard and smelled something.  He looked quickly around for a place to hide, but it was too late.  A bear was coming close, and the bear had seen him.  But Nelson was in luck: this didn't look like a Bad Bear at all.  This was another Good Bear just like him.  They would be together now, two Good Bears against all of the Bad.  "Greetings, fellow Good Bear," growled Nelson. "How did you come to be in these woods?"

"I was born in them," said the bear. "But I haven't met you before. Where do you come from?"

Nelson was confused but answered, "I come from over that ridge and across the next valley, of course.  Don't all Good Bears come from there?"

The other bear began to back away slowly and the hair to rise on his back.  "You come from the land of the Bad Bears?" he growled.  "Are you a Bad Bear then?"

"What are you talking about?" growled Nelson.  "Do I look like a Bad Bear? Do I breathe fire? Where are my scales? Where are my horns? I'm a Good Bear, just like you."

"That's true," said the other bear, whose name was Steven.  Nelson and Steven relaxed a little and began to trust each other, but both were puzzled and confused.  Each of them thought the other must be a Bad Bear, but both could see it wasn't true.

Nelson stayed with Steven's family that night, planning to begin traveling home the next day.  In the morning Steven, who did not want Nelson to leave, said he would travel with him, at least half way.  And so, the two friends moved quickly through the day and crossed the mountain ridge.  And not long after crossing the ridge and beginning down the other side, they heard the most frightening noise in the world.  They heard the noise of war coming.  They heard it coming from in front of them and behind.

Hundreds of bears were roaring and stomping and screaming and smashing against the trees.  They all seemed to have gone insane, a huge line of them moving up from Nelson's woods.  And another gigantic group of mad crazy bears ready to kill was coming up the mountains from Steven's home.  Nelson and Steven stood perfectly still, listened, smelled, and thought.  And they thought well, without even quite knowing they'd done so, and without having to tell each other what to do.

Together, Nelson and Steven raced back to the top of the ridge.  They could see the armies of bears advancing up both slopes toward them.  Nelson faced the bears from his home.  He saw bears he knew, friends and family.  "Stop!," he roared.  "Who do you think you are attacking?"

"Stop!" roared Steven at his own bear nation.  "Who are you coming to kill?"

"The Bad Bears!" said Nelson's countrybears.

"The Bad Bears!" said Steven's bear kin.

"They don't exist," roared Nelson and Steven. 

"Look," roared Nelson.  "Look at this bear next to me.  He is from the land of what you call Bad Bears, but he is just like you and me.  His bears have been told that YOU are the Bad Bears.  And you know that isn't true."

Steven told his bears the same thing.  But meanwhile the bears had been advancing quickly and were nearing the ridgetop.  "Look at them," pleaded Nelson and Steven.  "Look at them!  They're Good Bears the same as you.  Bad Bears are only in stories.  Things in stories aren't always real.  Bear cubs know that!  And bear cubs know that growling is only for show. You must never attack another bear, but only growl and attack the air." 

The two bear friends were telling whole armies of angry bears what every bear mother had told every one of those bears when they had been young cubs.  Some of the bears were roaring like mad at their enemies.  Some of the bears were beginning to listen.  Some of the bears were stopping and looking carefully at the bears in front of them.

Bears growled, but they didn't attack.  They stopped and looked.  They understood that Steven and Nelson were right.

Nelson and Steven had stopped a war. 

Later, at Nelson's cave, Steven said to his friend, "Do you know why I'm glad you're not really a Bad Bear?"

Nelson nodded.  "I do," he said. "Because then I wouldn't exist.  And you'd be a Bad Bear too and not exist either."

"Exactly," growled Steven. "There'd be no more bears if we weren't all Good Bears, as of course we are!"

"I'm glad," growled Nelson.

Who's Excited About Another Decade in Afghanistan?

With 196 nations in the world and U.S. troops already in at least 177 of them, there aren't all that many available to make war against. Yet it looks like both Syria and Iran will be spared any major Western assault for the moment.  Could this become a trend?  Is peace on the horizon?  Are celebrations of Nelson Mandela's nonviolence sincere? 

The glitch in this optimistic little photo-shopped storyline starts with an A and rhymes with Shmafghanistan.

The U.S. public has been telling pollsters we want all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan "as soon as possible" for years now. We're spending $10 million per hour, and $81 billion in the new annual budget, on an operation that many top officials and experts have said generates hostility toward our country.  The chief cause of death for U.S. troops in this operation is suicide. 

And now, at long last, we have an important (and usually quite corrupt) politician on our side, responding to public pressure and ready -- after 12 years -- to shut down Operation Enduring ... and Enduring and Enduring.

Oddly, this politician's name is not President Barack Obama.  When Obama became president, there were 32,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan.  He escalated to over 100,000 troops, plus contractors. Now there are 47,000 troops these five years later.  Measured in financial cost, or death and destruction, Afghanistan is more President Obama's war than President Bush's.  Now the White House is trying to keep troops in Afghanistan until "2024 and beyond."

Sadly, the politician who has taken our side is not in Washington at all.  There are a few Congress Members asking for a vote, but most of their colleagues are silent.  When Congress faced the question of missiles into Syria, and the question was front-and-center on our televisions, the public spoke clearly.  Members of both parties, in both houses of Congress, said they heard from more people, more passionately, and more one-sidedly than ever before. 

But on the question of another decade "and beyond" in Afghanistan, the question has not been presented to Congress or the public, and we haven't yet found the strength to raise it ourselves.  Yet someone has managed to place himself on our side, namely Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Like the Iraqi government before him, Karzai is refusing to agree to an ongoing occupation with U.S. forces immune from prosecution under Afghan laws.  Before signing off on an ongoing military presence, Karzai says he would like the U.S. to stop killing civilians and stop kicking in people's doors at night.  He'd like the U.S. to engage in peace negotiations.  He'd like Afghan prisoners freed from Guantanamo.  (Of the 17 still there, 4 have long since been cleared for release but not released; none has been convicted of any crime.) And he'd like the U.S. not to sabotage the April 2014 Afghan elections. 

Whatever we think of Karzai's legacy -- my own appraisal is unprintable -- these are remarkably reasonable demands.  And at least as far as U.S. public opinion goes, here at long last is a post-invasion ruler actually engaged in spreading democracy. 

What about the Afghans? Should we "abandon" them? We told pollsters we wanted to send aid to Syria, not missiles.  Humanitarian aid to Afghanistan -- or to the entire world, for that matter, including our own country -- would cost a fraction of what we spend on wars and war preparations (51.4% of the new federal budget), and could quite easily make us the most beloved nation on earth.  I bet we'd favor that course of action if we were asked -- or if we manage to both raise the question and answer it.

MoveOn Says It Has Been Following Government for Years, Will Now Ask Government to Follow Us -- Too Funny

Dear David,

"The change we need doesn't come from Washington. Change comes to Washington." 

That's what Barack Obama said in his acceptance speech at the Democratic convention in 2008. Now, midway through the president's second term, we know just how true that was. Congress has an approval rating of 8.4%—and they've earned it.

Sitting around waiting for this Congress to lead isn't going to work. So we've come up with an alternate strategy—bringing change to them. 

[A remarkable breakthrough in 2013, wouldn't you say? Has anyone else thought of this?]

Our plan is to start campaigns targeted at every level of government—from local to state to national—kick-starting a wave of progressive action that Congress will eventually be forced to react to as well.

[Incredible. So, like, the government would represent us instead of the other way around? This changes everything!]

But with only 25 staff, we can't know what campaign to launch everywhere. That's why, as a local MoveOn member, you're so key to this effort.

[25 staff! 25 staff! WTF have they been doing? The email goes on to ask local activist groups and individuals to donate their email lists to MoveOn so that those people can be flooded with demands to drop everything and raise money for lousy candidates in the next election. I've deleted.]

Why Andy Shallal Should Be Mayor of D.C.

It would make a tremendous difference nationally and internationally to have a real activist, progressive, populist, and democrat as mayor of our nation's capital.  Imagine a leading opponent of war as mayor of the world center of war making.  Imagine major public initiatives to address the massive poverty and racial disparity in the headquarters of the greatest wealth machine on the planet.  Imagine the model set in Washington for school systems elsewhere based on public community schools rather than corporate commodification of mis-education. 

Imagine Congress forced to work in a place with living wage laws, wise environmental practices, free mass transit, perhaps a public bank -- a place where the quality of life rises for all and trickledown propaganda can't utter its first syllable without being mocked.  Imagine the home of the U.S. government as a living breathing counterexample to every acontextual ahistorical anti-intellectual claim for the benefits of violence over diplomacy, monopolistic capitalism over the social good, and brutal pigheadedness over civic engagement and innovation.

I hardly ever promote candidates.  We're not going to vote our way to peace and justice -- much less vote our way to clean, open, verifiable elections with public financing and free, fair media time.  But Washington, D.C., is actually a place where Andy Shallal has a chance to get himself elected.  He's in a 7-way race, and people want a newcomer. 

Andy Shallal! Most of you know who this is.  Andy has been a leading opponent of wars and militarism, of racism, and of extreme materialism.  Andy has testified before Congress, rallied crowds, and gone to jail for justice.  He's helped keep Northrop Grumman from living off DC taxpayers.  He's pushed for higher wages from Wal-Mart, and paid them at his own restaurants.  He's the owner of four -- soon to be six -- Busboys and Poets restaurants, the places where all the best organizations and campaigns find a free space to meet, strategize, communicate, and entertain -- spaces that always seem a bit more integrated by age, race, and background than anywhere else in DC.

Andy is not just a personality, not just a backstory, not just an aura or a brand name.  He has proposals ready to work on.  He wants a moratorium on school closings.  He wants money put back into the minimum wage (what's commonly and misleadingly called "raising" it).  He wants the voting age dropped to 17.  Andy is on the board of trustees of the Institute for Policy Studies.  That's like having your own cabinet already formed, but formed by geniuses and actual small-d democrats. 

I can think of another major city where a mayor was recently elected with great fanfare and great expectations, but the disappointments came quickly.  I don't know how that will work out, but I know that Andy won't disappoint. He also would not want public activist pressure to go away.  We'll need to pressure Andy and the D.C. City Council, we'll need to organize and educate and listen to and learn from our neighbors.  We'll need to keep doing what we do, but we'll do it with the mayor on our side, the mayor of an international city, a city with sister cities on every continent, a city with great influence on public discussion at home and abroad.

This is a campaign for us all, no matter where we live.

Andy is the guest this week on Talk Nation Radio.  Listen here.

His own website is at http://Andy4DC.org

I hate to say it, but we really need you to make a small or large contribution right here.

Murray-Ryan Budget Dumps 51.4% into Military -- Happy Human Rights Day!

Excerpted from the press release pasted below:

"In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion."

This is an unbelievable outrage for Congress to churn out on International Human Rights Day while numerous members of Congress were off in South Africa claiming to support the use of nonviolence to effect change in the world.

How will the U.S. public react once the media lays bare this incredible proposal? Here's enough money to work wonders in green energy, infrastructure, actual humanitarian aid, education, and many other areas all combined.  This is an amount of money very difficult to comprehend, and it's being dumped into such unpopular projects as the ongoing war on Afghanistan.

One has to wonder how our Nobel Peace Prize laureate, "ender" of the war, President Barack Obama might respond should Congress send him such a budget.  I'm sure he'll be hard-pressed not to assume he's dreaming when he reads these numbers.  I'm sure ...

Oh, wait.  What?

Obama wanted 57% to go to militarism?


 

 

I see. I get it. Don't you get it? This is 18-dimensional chess. By proposing an outrageous budget, Obama motivated Congress to scale back to something slightly less outrageous. He never could have talked them into that. This took strategic planning and plotting.  Probably some people actually fell for it, actually thought Obama wanted funding for the wars he continues and launches. Pretty funny.

CONTACT:
Murray Press Office:(202) 224-5398
Ryan Press Office: (202) 226-6100

Murray and Ryan Announce Bipartisan Budget-Conference Agreement

Two-year budget agreement would avoid government shutdown in January, provide certainty to businesses and families, and return budget process to regular order

Bipartisan agreement would provide sequester relief for defense and domestic priorities—fully offset by concrete savings and reforms—and further reduce the deficit

Short-term agreement breaks through partisan gridlock and can serve as foundation for continued bipartisan work

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, Senate Budget Committee chairman Patty Murray (D-WA) and House Budget Committee chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced that they have reached a two-year budget agreement in advance of the budget conference’s December 13th deadline.

“I’m proud of this agreement,” said Chairman Ryan. “It reduces the deficit—without raising taxes. And it cuts spending in a smarter way. It’s a firm step in the right direction, and I ask all my colleagues in the House to support it.”

“This agreement breaks through the recent dysfunction to prevent another government shutdown and roll back sequestration’s cuts to defense and domestic investments in a balanced way,” said Chairman Murray. “It’s a good step in the right direction that can hopefully rebuild some trust and serve as a foundation for continued bipartisan work.”

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 would set overall discretionary spending for the current fiscal year at $1.012 trillion—about halfway between the Senate budget level of $1.058 trillion and the House budget level of $967 billion. The agreement would provide $63 billion in sequester relief over two years, split evenly between defense and non-defense programs. In fiscal year 2014, defense discretionary spending would be set at $520.5 billion, and non-defense discretionary spending would be set at $491.8 billion.

The sequester relief is fully offset by savings elsewhere in the budget. The agreement includes dozens of specific deficit-reduction provisions, with mandatory savings and non-tax revenue totaling approximately $85 billion. The agreement would reduce the deficit by between $20 and $23 billion.

The House of Representatives is expected to take up the Bipartisan Budget Act first, followed by the Senate. If this bill is signed into law, the appropriations committees will then be able to work on spending bills at an agreed-upon level in advance of the January 15th deadline.


The People's Budget Goes to Washington

Tuesday, December 10, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.

NewLocation: Cannon House Office Building 402
Washington, DC 20002

Also, join a group photo op at 9:20-9:30 a.m., at Capitol's East Front, House Triangle, near Independence Ave. SE and New Jersey Ave.

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 cutting out-of-control, dangerous military spending.

Over one hundred organizationshave 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.

Whether you can come or not, please ask your Congress members to attend!
202-225-3121
http://www.usa.gov/Contact/US-Congress.shtml

 

RSVP to info@greenshadowcabinet.us for updates.

See you there!

Jill Stein, Cheri Honkala, Mark Dunlea, David Swanson

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