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Tyrants Beware: The People of Egypt Have done It! They Have Driven Mubarak Out!

By Dave Lindorff

Breaking News! Egypt's dictator for 30 years, Hosni Mubarak, has been driven from power by the uprising of the Egyptian people, who refused to accept his attempt last night to hang on to power. See it all on Al Jazeera TV!

There is still much to know, but the 20-second announcement on state television at 6 pm Egyptian time informed th country that Hosni Mubarak had been driven from the Presidency of Egypt. It appears that his handpicked successor, the blood-drenched Interior Ministry head Omar Suleiman, who had been "vice president" for a few days, and who made the announcement, has also been pushed out--he said in flat tones on state television that the Army would henceforth be running the country's affairs.

It remains to be seen if that army tries to hold power or keep the ruling elite in power, or whether it will hand things over to civilians from the incredible people's movement that has accomplished this astonishing feat.

The Tahrir Blues

By John Grant

Hosni Mubarak has chosen not to fold his losing hand and to play it to the bitter end.

After the CIA and the Egyptian military said he was going to resign, he didn’t, which further escalated the tension around the question hanging over Cairo: Who is the military going to side with?

Is it the bloated kleptocrat and his bloody sidekick, Omar Suleiman – the ally the generals have been in bed with since the State Of Emergency was declared in 1981 -- or the Egyptian citizens who refuse to leave Tahrir Square and demand a suspension of the constitution, then fair and open elections.

For the military the choice seems like whether to let go of your 300-pound mother as she’s pulling you into powerfully raging floodwaters. If you don’t let her go, she’s going to drag you into even more dangerous waters that will assure all your doom.

US Terror Campaign in Pakistan? What was Raymond Davis Shooting for in Lahore?

By Dave Lindorff

The mystery surrounding Raymond A. Davis, the American former Special Forces operative jailed in Lahore, Pakistan for the murder of two young motorcyclists, and his funky “security” company, Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, in the US continues to grow.

When Davis was arrested in the immediate aftermath of the double slaying in a busy business section of Lahore, after he had fatally shot two men in the back, claiming that he feared they might be threatening to rob him, police found business cards on him for a security company called Hyperion-Protective Consultants LLC, which listed as its address 5100 North Lane, Orlando, Florida.

A website for the company gave the same address, and listed the manager as a Gerald Richardson.

Exclusive: The Deepening Mystery of Raymond Davis and Two Slain Pakistani Motorcyclists

By Dave Lindorff

The mystery of American Raymond A. Davis, currently imprisoned in the custody of local police in Lahore, Pakistan and charged with the Jan. 27 murder of two young men, whom he allegedly shot eight times with uncanny accuracy through his car windshield, is growing increasingly murky. Also growing is the anger among Pakistanis that the US is trying to spring him from a Punjab jail by claiming diplomatic immunity.

Davis (whose identity was first denied and later confirmed by the US Embassy in Islamabad), and the embassy have claimed that he was hired as an employee of a US security company called Hyperion Protective Consultants, LLC, which was said to be located at 5100 North Lane in Orlando, Florida. Business cards for Hyperion were found on Davis by arresting officers.

However Counterpunch Magazine has investigated and discovered the following information:

America: Standing in the Way of Democracy

By Dave Lindorff

It is pathetic and even laughable to hear American leaders, and the leaders of the other Western democracies in Europe, cautioning that Egypt’s revolution needs to move slowly, as they call for a “transition” government that would be gently guided to elections by the very man, Omar Suleiman, who for years has headed the dreaded Mukhabarat, the Egyptian secret police, all under the protective umbrella of the Egyptian military.

What is this nonsense?

America's Happy Talk Media: No Jobs is Good News!

By Dave Lindorff

The propagandists in the corporate media are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to paint a rosy picture using the shockingly bad employment news out of the Labor Department today.

Here’s the raw data:

The official unemployment rate fell from 9.4% to 9.0%, when the prediction had been that it was going to move up slightly to 9.5%

The number of new jobs added was a net 36,000, the lowest increase since last September, when the economy was still losing jobs.

Here are some of the media quotes:

Associated Press: “The unemployment rate dropped sharply last month to 9 percent, based on a government survey that found that more than a half-million people found work.”

Swapping a Dictator for a Torturer in Egypt

By James Ridgeway

As things now stand, the United States appears ready to have Egyptian dictator Hosni Mubarak tossed out in exchange for his newly-named Vice President, Omar Suleiman, the Egyptian spy master. That is, maintain the status quo by swapping one dictator for another.

Of course, Israel must sign off on this deal aimed at assuring that Egypt can remain as America’s main base in the region, straddling as it does North Africa and the Middle East. Without that status quo, the U.S. would have to rethink its entire neo-colonial policies in the region.

But Suleiman looks like a nasty piece of work.

You don’t get much about him in the US corporate media, but Agence France Press has pulled together the basics:

A Marine Remembers: Learning to Kill, Learning Not to Kill

By David Lindorff

One of my grandsons recently asked me, “What is wisdom?”   After some discussion, we together concluded that wisdom comes only with experience. 

When it comes to war, though, living in a country that has not experienced a war on its own soil since 1865, Americans, other than those veterans who have actually fought abroad, have no such experience to draw on.

Perhaps this is why so many Americans easily accept, and even cheer the nation’s militarism, and why most of us accept our government’s reflexive resort to military action to settle international disputes.
  
Einstein, who had his share of wisdom, advised forgetting everything one has learned.  This was his way of getting his thinking out of a box. 

Rather than add more to this somewhat evasive notion, let me reflect here on my own experience of war, and on how the concept of war has permeated my life, in hopes of finding  a bit of wisdom to counter the temptation to turn to cynicism. 
   

A Marxist Analysis: Arab Uproar

By Ron Ridenour

Long time in the making! Long time suffering poverty, inequality, official murder-torture-imprisonment, despotism, fundamentalism, and governments lackeyed to US/Western powers.

I am no expert on Arabic/Middle East history or politics, other than knowing that US/Israel-led imperialism has had a grip on the entire area for decades, and before that there were other foreign oppressors. I know that in part of the Arab world—so far not involved in this uproar—the US-led “humanitarian” operation has cost over one million Iraqi lives, created millions of refugees, tortured tens of thousands and destroyed incalculable cultural wealth and history. European allies assisted in this butchery. Something similar is occurring in Afghanistan, and extending into Pakistan.

The Last Zealots: Hack History on the Right

By John Grant

It was a dark and stormy night and Scat Horbath was glad to be out of the weather in the Washington DC metro, where he was to meet the sinister Ali Ben al-Masseur in the last car of the Blue Train.

Al-Masseur ran the Brothers Of Islam Charity Center in Arlington, and he held the clue to a two-thousand-year-old secret that had been scratched in code into the bottom of John Hancock’s pewter chamber pot. The fate of the free world hung in the balance.

The doors opened, and Scat entered the nearly empty car. As the car moved off he became aware of the subtle smell of falafal. Then he saw his man, seated at the end of the car chewing as he read from a copy of The Koran.

Al-Masseur looked up and flicked his tongue, projecting little pieces of yogurt sauce into the air.

“So, Scat, we meet again.”

President Obama's State of the Union Speech: WTF?

By Dave Lindorff

I never expected to find myself agreeing with Sarah Palin, but I’ve got to admit that the woman nailed it regarding President Barack Obama’s State of the Union Address. Asked to comment on it, she said it had a lot of “WTF moments.”

That’s exactly what I found myself thinking as I read through it!

We’ve “broken the back” of the recession? WTF? The official unemployment rate is still 9.4%, and even that is down slightly from a 9.8% high only because so many people have given up trying to find a job and have left the workforce, taking early retirement or just staying home. And the real unemployment rate--the one that counts those who have given up but would work if there were actually jobs to be had, and those who have grasped at part time work just to survive--is still at between 19% and 22%, depending on how you’re counting. Who’s Obama kidding: us or himself?

Tyranny American-Style: Pvt. Bradley Manning is a Hero of Our Age

By Dave Lindorff

Looks can be deceiving.

When you see photos of Army Specialist Bradley Manning, the fresh, slightly pudgy-faced 23-year old private who has spent the last seven months in solitary confinement, first in Kuwait and later at the Marine base at Quantico, VA, enduring the tender mercies of military guards, you don’t get the sense that this is someone who could withstand a lot of pressure and physical and mental abuse.

Pvt. Bradley Manning, the face of a hero

Mixed-Media: Assange and Posada in the Propaganda System

By Edward S. Herman and David Peterson

By an historical coincidence, both Julian Assange and Luis Posada Carriles were brought before Western courts around the same time in late 2010 and early 2011—Assange in Britain and Posada in the United States. The contrast in their treatment by the U.S.-Anglo system of justice and in their handling by the Western establishment media is enlightening.

Posada, now 82, is a self-confessed terrorist, Bay of Pigs veteran, School of the Americas graduate, and CIA operative who has been credibly placed at two meetings where the plan was hatched for the October 1976 bombing of a Cuban airliner that killed all 73 civilians aboard. He also has been implicated in numerous other terrorist acts in which people were killed or injured and property destroyed, and he played a role in the United States' arms-smuggling network in Central America that eventually came to light in the Iran-Contra investigations.

Historical Amnesia: The Nation's Number One Disease

By John Grant

Recent indicators suggest the US military mission in the Middle East and Southwest Asia is waning in influence, leaving us mired down with hundreds of thousands of soldiers and billions of dollars of equipment and bases. And a lot of face to save.

According to a New York Times analysis, Turkey and Iran are rising in regional influence as the United States is falling. And let's not forget, arguably the single-most important historical act that boosted Iran to this level of regional influence was the 2003 US invasion and occupation of Iraq.

“The jockeying might be a glimpse of a post-American Middle East,” writes Anthony Shadid in the Times analysis.

Still, you have to admire US leaders for their talent and tenacity in never publicly recognizing the obvious. George Bush, of course, was an underestimated master at this.

Here's One for the Birthers: Is GE's Immelt Really an American?

By Dave Lindorff

If President Barack Obama had announced this week that he was appointing Japan’s Takanobu Ito, president and CEO of Honda, to head his new Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, one can imagine the shock wave that would go through the American body politic. A foreigner!--and one from one of America’s major competitors--to head a White House advisory panel on jobs and competitiveness?
And yet, at least the president could argue that Ito represents a company that earns the bulk of its revenues from its operations in the US.

But what are we to make of the actual announcement, that the president has named Jeffrey Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE Corp., to chair the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness?

Don't Tone It Down, Amp It Up: In Praise of Incivility in Politics

By Dave Lindorff

 
"The wranglers over creeds and dogmas are perhaps the most persistent of all agitators; the bedrock idea being that a wrong exists which must be found and exterminated."

-- Eugene Debs

"Get it straight, I'm not a humanitarian, I'm a hell-raiser."

--Mother Jones

 

Momma Grizzly Mauls Smokey the Bear

By Linn Washington Jr.

Outdoors enthusiast Sarah Palin, who sees sport in blasting wolves with assault rifles from helicopters, surely knows the practical message of iconic fictional character Smokey The Bear: “Only you can prevent forest fires.”

Whether Momma Grizzly can really see Russia from her home in Alaska, as she once claimed, she certainly can see the clear meaning of Alaska Statute Section 41.15.110 titled “Uncontrolled Spread of Fire; Leaving Fire Unattended.”

Under a provision in that statue section, a person is guilty of a misdemeanor if they neglect “to make every effort possible” to extinguish a fire they’ve knowingly set.

Now former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin is not guilty of literally starting wildfires in the forests around her beloved Wasilla home. But she is complicit in figuratively firing up the dry tinder in America’s forests of political discontent with incendiary rhetoric delivered with the clear intent to inflame.

Incendiary?

Racism in Arizona: Latinos Have No History in Arizona Schools

By Jess Guh

It's all too appropriate that on the day that we celebrate the birthday of one of history’s most notable civil rights leaders, Arizona is in the national news spotlight.  Arizona,one of the last states to recognize Martin Luther King Jr's birthday as a federal holiday only began doing in 1992.  Ironically, Arizona’s Attorney General Tom Horne, a supporter of the states tough new immigration laws, and author of a new ban on ethnic studies in the state’s public schools, continually cites his participation in MLK's marches as proof that he's not a racist.

A Review: Revolutionary Violence and Ted Rall

By Charles M. Young

The Anti-American Manifesto
(Seven Stories Press)
by Ted Rall

Lots of books collect all the low-hanging fruit in the abundant orchard of corporate state crime and arrange it into a more or less digestible feast, and then they all conclude with a ringing exhortation to elect more Democrats to Congress, or build a third party, or challenge the legality of war through the courts, or write well-reasoned letters of protest to The New York Times, or impeach whoever is president, or go to more demonstrations, or drip more snark on the ruling class.

The reader sits alone at night with the question, “Is that all there is?”

Ted Rall seeks to answer that question in The Anti-American Manifesto. At the beginning of chapter one (“Kill the Zombie Empire”), he quotes the U.S Criminal Code that advocating the overthrow of the government by violence is unlawful, and then he advocates the overthrow of the government by violence.

Tucson and the End of the Frontier Myth

By John Grant

Hello darkness my old friend,
I’ve come to talk with you again,
- Paul Simon, 1964

The same year the Tet Offensive in Vietnam made it clear that war was a quagmire there was a spate of domestic political assassinations in America. It was a highly polarized and volatile time when people struggled with issues of race and class. Civility suffered.

Forty-three years later, the similarities are stark. The economy is distressed to the point poor and working class Americans are fearful and uncertain about the future. Meanwhile, the world of high finance has rebounded and is again thriving; and the military budget consumes more than half of US tax resources.

Not a Video: Grand Theft Constitution

By Linn Washington

Maybe it’s not a violation of criminal statutes.

But the misappropriation of the U.S. Constitution by conservatives for their partisan posturing – as illustrated in last week’s reading of the nation’s founding document in the House – does fit the definition of theft: taking property without consent…in this instance the ‘consent’ of the governed.

However, this is a heist conservatives’ have successfully pulled off before as evidenced by their politicized appropriation of the American Flag, the Pledge of Alliance, national security, God, mom, apple pie, etc. etc…

This brazen theft by deception of the Constitution – the foundational document of the U.S. government – happens on three levels: dismissive; disturbing and downright dangerous.

Connecting the Crazy Dots: Assange, Recruiting Kids, the Tucson Massacre and General American Bloodthirstiness

By Dave Lindorff

There is, it cannot be denied, a tendency on the part of many Americans to grab for their guns, if not actually, then figuratively.

And let’s face it, we also have an awful lot of guns to reach for. The FBI estimates that it’s 200 million, not counting the guns owned by the military, and the National Rifle Assn. says that’s a number that rises by close to five million a year.

And we sure do use ‘em. NY Times columnist Bob Herbert says 150,000 people have been killed by guns in the US just in the first decade of this new century. Clearly it’s not just Tucson, capital of the Arizona county that also includes the gunslinger town of Tombstone, that is the Wild West. This whole country is gun-crazy.

A Disturbing Meeting at the Gym

By Dave Lindorff

At the local YMCA today, I ran into a boy who was a childhood friend of my son. As my son goes to a public arts high school in Philadelphia outside of our local school district, I don't see much of his old grade-school friends any more. This boy, who used to be over at our house years ago at least once a week, recognized me right away, and said, "Hey Mr. Lindorff, I haven't seen you in years. How's Jed!"

I was impressed by how he'd grown up, tall and strong looking. He was headed for the basketball court. I asked him, since both he and my son are seniors this year, where he was applying for college, and he stunned me by saying he had signed up for the Marines. "I'm going to be going in after graduation," he said proudly. "The recruiter came to school, and he convinced me it's a good move."

I asked him what he planned to do, and he said, "Helicopter gunner! I'm really excited and proud!"

The Drug War: A Roller-Coaster to Hell

By John Grant

The War On Drugs, fought mostly in poor and person-of-color communities (despite the fact that whites are more than 70 percent of all drug users) has contributed dramatically to the growth of a prison-industrial-complex that is quickly sapping resources from education, job training and other vital programs.          
-- Tim Wise

I’ve taught creative writing in Philadelphia’s maximum-security prison for ten years. I joke with the inmates that most of them are POWs in the Drug War. Of course, most of the men in the class are African American.

Last week only two men showed up for the class, which gave me and my co-teacher the opportunity to talk with them about their lives.

A Profound and Jarring Disconnect

By Dave Lindorff

Democracy: de-moc-ra-cy, government by the people; the common people of a community, as distinguished from any privileged class

According to the latest poll conducted by CBS "60 Minutes" and the magazine Vanity Fair, 61 percent of Americans want to raise taxes on the wealthy as the primary way to cut the budget. The same poll finds that the second most popular first choice for cutting the nation's budget deficit, at 20 percent, is cutting the military budget. That is, 81 percent of us--four out of five--would cut the deficit by taxing the rich and/or slashing military spending.

Only four percent of those polled favored cutting Medicare, the government-run program that provides health care for the elderly and disabled, and only three percent favored cutting Social Security.

Righting an Ugly Wrong: Compassion or Just Crass Political Calculation?

By Linn Washington Jr.M

An outrageous assertion by a potential presidential candidate who praised a group which had notoriously and openly supported racial segregation played a role in finally righting one of the most grotesque wrongs anywhere in America’s justice system with the freeing of two sisters serving controversial double-life sentences for an $11 robbery they may not even have committed.

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour recently announced suspending the troubling prison sentences of Gladys and Jamie Scott primarily on the humanitarian grounds that older sister Jamie needs a kidney transplant.

Back in 1994, a Mississippi jury convicted the Scott sisters for a Christmas Eve robbery the preceding year. The Scotts, according to police and prosecutors, had lured two men into an ambush where three teens robbed the victims of what records indicate was $11 in cash.

DADT: A Repeal of Convenience

By Jess Guh

Am I the only queer person in the country that is sad about the repeal of "Don't Ask Don't Tell"? I know the long-delayed bill just signed into law has destroyed my plan to avoid any future military conscription.

Let me explain. Many of my male friends in college photodocumented their participation in pacifist activities. They explained that this was their insurance policy against any eventual military draft: solid proof to support a history of conscientious objection. As a queer person, I had another plan, though: If anyone tried to compel me to serve in the military, before anyone could even "ask," I planned to "tell" by yelling, "I'm gay, and not in the happy way!" loudly and repeatedly, until no branch of the military would want me. Just for extra measure I would threaten to convert any and all women that I ran across.

Serfing USA: Corporate America is Robbing American Workers

By Dave Lindorff

Along with the staggering theft in broad daylight of Americans’ assets that has occurred in the course of the ongoing financial crisis, as taxpayers funded multi-trillion bank bailouts and banks stole homes through foreclosures with the help of fraudulent paperwork, American companies have also been picking the pockets of workers more directly.

This second round of paycheck theft has come in the form of stolen productivity gains.

Holiday Thought: Santa was a Con, and Jesus Got the Death Penalty

By Jean Casella and James Ridgeway

As Christmas is celebrated in Incarceration Nation, it’s worth remembering certain things about the two figures who dominate this holiday.

As more than 3,000 American sit on death row, we revere the birth of a godly man who was arrested, “tried,” sentenced, and put to death by the state. The Passion is the story of an execution, and the Stations of the Cross trace the path of a Dead Man Walking.

Less well know is the fact that Saint Nicholas, the early Christian saint who inspired Santa Claus, was once a prisoner, like one in every 100 Americans today. Though he was beloved for his kindness and generosity, Nicholas acquired sainthood not only by giving alms, but in part by performing a miracle that more or less amounted to a prison break.

They're 'Slow Torturing' Bradley Manning Right Under Our Noses

By John Grant

On December 18, David House, an MIT researcher, visited Bradley Manning at the Quantico, Virginia, military prison where he is being held in solitary confinement. Other than Manning’s attorney, House is the rare person allowed to visit him.

House’s report is quite thorough in pointing out instances where the military authorities are lying -- or to use philosopher Harry Frankfurt’s formulation, “bullshitting” -- about how the 23-year-old Army intelligence worker is being treated.

Here’s some of psychologist Dr. Jeffrey Kaye’s comment on House’s report:

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