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It's Time to De-Escalate the Drug War

By John Grant

“And we never really face what is in front of us, never face what is inside our gutless language of cartels and drug lords and homeland security, never face that forces are unleashed on the land with names like poverty, a fix, murder, and despair, and our tools cannot master these forces. …Things happen and no one says much. Then after a while, no one admits the thing even happened.”

--Charles Bowden on life in Ciudad Juarez

US Ambassador to Mexico Carlos Pascual resigned last week after cables he sent were released by WikiLeaks suggesting he thought Mexican police and military forces were crippled by corruption.

Truth was no defense in Pascual’s case.

Toxic Intervention: Are NATO Forces Poisoning Libya with Depleted Uranium as They 'Protect' Civilians?

By Dave Lindorff

President Obama’s criminal launch of an undeclared and Congressionally unauthorized war against Libya may be compounded by the crime of spreading toxic uranium oxide in populated areas of that country.

This is latest concern of groups like the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons, which monitor the military use of so-called depleted-uranium (DU) anti-tank and bunker-penetrating shells.

Images of Libyan civilians and rebels celebrating around the burning hulks of the Libyan army’s tanks and armored personnel carriers, which had been hit by US, French and British aircraft ordnance in the early hours of the US-led assault on the forces of Col. Muammar Gaddafy, could well have been unknowingly inhaling the deadly dust of the uranium weapons favored by Western military forces for anti-tank warfare.

Report Underscores Ticking Time Bomb Of US Nuke Power Plants

By Linn Washington, Jr.

A timely report from the Union of Concerned Scientists, based on data from the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), contains troubling news about the state of America’s vast network of nuclear power plants.

The report, which examined serious incidents at 14 U.S. nuclear power plants nationwide from New York to California in 2010, finds fault with both plant operators and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which is supposed to oversee them.

“Many of these significant events occurred because reactor owners and even the NRC tolerated known safety problems,” states the report, entitled: “The NRC and Nuclear Power Plant Safety in 2010: A Brighter Spotlight Needed.”

While none of the 14 safety incidents tagged in the Union’s report as “near misses” produced harm to nuclear plant employees or the public, the report terms the frequency of these incidents, which averaged more than one per month, “high for a mature industry.”

Veterans Tell Obama White House its War Policy is a Disgrace

By John Grant

A contingent of 20 right-wing veterans with flags and signs declaring their devotion to “our troops,” marched up to the blocked-off Pennsylvania Avenue area in front of the White House. One of the men wore a blue shirt with Army Security Agency printed on it.

“I was in the ASA,” I said to the man, attempting some kind of cordial dialogue. At nineteen, I had been an Army Security Agency radio direction finder in the mountains west of Pleiku.

The heavy-set man glowered at me and said: “I’m sorry to hear that.” It was as if he were somehow the arbiter of who was, and who wasn’t, a good American, as if he alone gave a damn about "our troops."
I shot back at him: “So, what the hell does that mean?” He turned away, and I moved on. So much for dialogue.

Review and Reflection: Thr Great Migration and the New Orleans Diaspora

By Fatima Shaik

Isabel Wilkerson’s first book, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration, couldn’t have come out at a better time for black New Orleanians, who as 2010 statistics confirmed, but our own hearts knew, lost more than a third of our community in the last decade. As we reassess what we had – good and bad – what we miss and what matters, we may find instruction and solace in this book about a previous era of departures, comparing its lessons to our Diaspora.

The Warmth of Other Suns is a beautiful book. It opens with a quote from author Richard Wright: “I was leaving the South to fling myself into the unknown…respond to the warmth of other suns and, perhaps, to bloom.”

CIA Contractor Raymond Davis Sprung from Murder Rap in Pakistan after US Pays 'Blood Money'

By Dave Lindorff

Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor indicted for the murder of two young Pakistani motorcyclists, whom he gunned down in the back in broad daylight through his car windshield in a busy section of Lahore, Pakistan, has been freed, after the payment of $2.34 million in “blood money,” called diyya, to relatives of the two slain men.

The surprise “deal,” which Pakistani news reports are saying appears to have been forced on the relatives of the two men, who up to March 15 had insisted they wanted no blood money, but only justice, was announced in a court session March 16 in Lahore, at which the prosecution’s case of murder was to have been presented.

Hate to Say It, but We Told You So!

By Dave Lindorff

It seems rather silly now, doesn’t it, all the US concern about terrorism?

The nuclear crisis in Japan, which continues to worsen, threatens to become a total multiple meltdown, combined with the perhaps even more disastrous explosion and fire in one or several spent fuel rod ponds. If any of these things happen, not to mention many of them, several hundred square miles of Japan would be rendered indefinitely uninhabitable, costing hundreds of billions of dollars. And it could be worse. If the winds are blowing south during such a disaster, all of Tokyo, which has a metropolitan population of over 30 million, could have to be evacuated.

A study by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission back in 1997, found that one spend fuel disaster could devastate almost 200 square miles of the US, and cause half a trillion dollars in damage!

The Idiocy and Hubris of Engineers: Will GE Get Whacked for the Catastrophic Failure of its Nuke Plants in Fukushima?

By Dave Lindorff

GE, the company that boasts that it “brings good things to life,” was the designer of the nuclear plants that are blowing up like hot popcorn kernels at the Fukushima Daiichi generating plant north of Tokyo that was hit by the double-whammy of an 8.9 earthquake and a hugh tsunami.

The company may escape tens or hundreds of billions of dollars in liability from this continuing disaster, which could still result in a catastrophic total meltdown of one or more of the reactors (as of this writing three of the reactors are reported to have suffered partial meltdowns, and all could potentially become more serious total meltdowns with a rupture of the reactor container), thanks to Japanese law, which makes the operator--in this case Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) liable. But if it were found that it was design flaws by GE that caused the problem, presumably TEPCO or the Japanese government could pursue GE for damages.

Pennsylvania's Corbett Expands Conservative War on the Middle Class

By Linn Washington, Jr.

Swinging a sledge hammer, Pennsylvania’s first-term Republican Governor Tom Corbett, smashed into educational spending and state worker jobs during his first-ever budget address, following in the footsteps of his conservative cost-cutting confederates across the nation.

While Corbett proposes slashing over a billion dollars in fundis for pre-K through college, he spares the Keystone State’s burgeoning billion-dollar Marcellus Shale natural gas industry from his call for ‘shared sacrifice’ to close a $4-billion gap in the state’s budget.

Corbett refuses to do what over a dozen other oil and gas-producing states do and impose an extraction tax on the natural gas industry--the same industry that low and behold last year lavished him with hundreds of thousands of dollars in contributions to his gubernatorial campaign.

It's Time for a New Policy Face in Afghanistan

By John Grant

Here’s a modest proposal for President Obama and our policy wizards to consider:
General Petraeus has provided laudable service to his great nation by pulling counter-insurgency theory from the wreckage of Vietnam and giving it CPR, and after his predecessor self-immolated in Rolling Stone, he stepped in and assumed command of US forces in Afghanistan.

But, now, as a New York Times military analysis makes very clear, the mission in Afghanistan has moved on into new territory. According to an independent think tank known as PHOOA, it is time to replace the good General Petraeus with a new commander more appropriate to the reality of the mission.

The new candidate is Bozo The Clown. PHOOA (pronounced P-Hooo-ah!) is an acronym for Pull Head Out Of Ass. It’s time to put someone in charge who perfectly symbolizes the reality of current US war policy in Afghanistan, which is simply in-your-face absurdity.

Word Games: Most US Media Hide an American Atrocity in Afghanistan Behind 'NATO' and Fudge the Victims' Ages

By Dave Lindorff

The people of Afghanistan know who was flying the two helicopter gunships that brutally hunted down and slaughtered, one by one, nine boys apparently as young as seven years old, as they gathered firewood on a hillside March 1. In angry demonstrations after the incident, they were shouting “Death to America.”

Americans are still blissfully unaware that their “heroes” in uniform are guilty of this obscene massacre. The ovine US corporate media has been reporting on this story based upon a gutless press release from the Pentagon which attributes the “mistake” to “NATO” helicopters.

The thing is, this terrible incident occurred in the Pech Valley in Afghanistan’s Kunar province, where US forces have for several years been battling Taliban forces, and from which region they are now in the process of withdrawing. Clearly then, it is US, and not “NATO” helicopters which have been responding to calls to attack “suspected Taliban forces.”

The National Shame of the US Military's "Slow Torture" of Bradley Manning

By John Grant

Stripping before men still clothed is the first step toward weakening the prisoner’s psychological defense. … But stripping is also sexually laden. It transposes sexual gestures, acts and innuendo from a strip club to the torture chamber. Thus sex is always present in the torture chamber whether the victim is a man or a woman. The sexing of torture is deeply grounded in the recesses of the torturer’s psyche.

-Marnia Lazreg, Torture and the Twilight of Empire: From Algeria to Baghdad

The process – employed in the name of “security” – which involves the mutual destruction of human dignity, seems to be an integral part of most police and specialized agency methods.

-Breyten Breytenbach, The True Confessions of an Albino Terrorist

 

Madison a Foretaste of Things to Come: The Next Big Occupation Could be Boomers Taking Over the Capitol Building

By Dave Lindorff

The dramatic occupation of the Wisconsin State House in Madison by angry public workers and their supporters over the past few weeks is an exciting preview of what we can expect to see in the halls of Congress before long, as right-wing forces, funded by corporate lobbies and corporate-funded think-tanks push hard for cutbacks in Social Security and Medicare.

The drive to undermine these two critically important social programs is moving into high gear as the 79-million Baby Boomers this year start to reach eligibility, even as their other assets--their homes and their investment portfolios--are still shriveled by the Wall Street heist known as the “fiscal crisis” and Great Recession.

Pennsylvania: the Next Big Target for the Right-Wing's Anti-Union Campaign

By Linn Washington, Jr.

Philadelphia--Charlene Scott cheered and chanted with the hundreds thronging Philadelphia’s Love Park during Saturday's protest against conservative Republican onslaughts seeking to slaughter what remains of the living-standard comforts enjoyed by middle and working-class Americans.

But Scott had a different perspective than most attending that demonstration, which had been organized largely to voice solidarity with public workers in Wisconsin now confronting calculated attacks against their collective bargaining rights from that state’s Tea Party-aligned Republican governor.

Scott said she had seen this onslaught coming ten years ago.

“When I saw jobs moving off-shore, banks lowering interest rates on personal accounts and governments passing more charges onto taxpayers I knew this was coming,” Scott said.

Davis Arrest Throws US Undercover Campaign in Pakistan into Disarray

By Dave Lindorff

The ongoing case of Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor facing murder charges in Lahore for the execution-style slaying of two apparent agents of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency, is apparently leading to a roll-back of America’s espionage and Special Operations activities in Pakistan.

A few days ago, Pakistan’s Interior Department, which is reportedly conducting a careful review of the hundreds of private contractors who flooded into Pakistan over the last two years, many with “diplomatic passports,” and many others, like Davis, linked to shady “security” firms, arrested an American security contractor named Aaron DeHaven, a Virginia native who claims to work for a company called Catalyst Services LLC.

The Peace Movement and the Roller Coaster Ride of US War Policy

By John Grant
 
It’s considered unsportsmanlike to say, “We told you so.” But since all’s fair in love and war and we’re definitely at war, it’s fair to say the peace movement has been right about the whole sordid reality of US war in Iraq and Afghanistan.

That may sound audacious or ridiculous to some, especially to those knee-jerks who love to ridicule the antiwar movement while knowing nothing about what it really stands for.

It’s important to note, here, that the peace/antiwar movement doesn’t have quite as extensive a public relations and propaganda program as that employed by the military and its supporters in the federal government and the mainstream media.

For instance, the peace movement doesn’t have well-funded, highly-trained Psy-Ops Teams such asRolling Stone has shown the military has. So no one is able to brainwash US congress members intocutting the military budget and de-funding the wars.

Don Imus Slips a Great Anti-War Folk-Rock Song onto Fox-TV: KMAG YOYO!

By John Grant

From the WTF Department, here's something from Fox TV's Don Imus Show last December.

Hayes Carll is a young country singer from Texas with a fantastic surreal song about an 18-year-old soldier in Afghanistan that is up there with the best of Dylan, with elliptical lyrics like Desolation Row you never get tired of reaching for to figure out.

It's called KMAG YOYO, which in military argot means "Kiss My Ass Guys. You're On Your Own." (This version is the one broadcast on Sirius Radio, because the lyrics are easier to hear. If you want a performance with more of a live feel, check out the Fox Imus performance.)

Is it Antiwar? No question. But better than that, it's pro living, breathing life and it really jumps. Check it out!...

For the rest of this article by JOHN GRANT in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent online alternative newspaper, please go to: ThisCantBeHappening!

Pakistani and Indian Newspapers Say US CIA Contrtactor Raymond Davis is a Terrorist

By Dave Lindorff

Pakistani and Indian newspapers are reporting that Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor in jail in Lahore facing murder charges for the execution-slayings of two young men believed to by Pakistani intelligence operatives, was actually involved in organizing terrorist activities in Pakistan.

As the Express Tribune, an English-language daily that is linked to the International Herald Tribune,reported on Feb. 22:

“The Lahore killings were a blessing in disguise for our security agencies who suspected that Davis was masterminding terrorist activities in Lahore and other parts of Punjab,” a senior official in the Punjab Police claimed.

Surprisingly, Some Bigots Back (sort of) Black History Month Obsevance

By Linn Washington, Jr.

Rep. Michele Bachmann and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, two right-wing Republicans eyeing presidential campaigns in 2012, provided a big boost for Black History Month recently with remarks challenging contentions that this recognition of ignored contributions is an irrelevant relic in this post-racial "Age of Obama."

Although conservative dogma considers this annual observance during the month of February an anathema, neither Bachmann nor Barbour face censure for heresy from their ideological confederates.

Far from being a ringing endorsement, the offensive utterances of Bachmann and Barbour highlight the importance of Black History Month founded in the early 20th Century to counter factual inaccuracies about blacks then rampant across America’s racially segregated society.

Breaking: UK Guardian Reports Raymond Davis is working for the CIA

By Dave Lindorff

A report today in the British Guardian newspaper is confirming that Raymond Davis, the man jailed in Lahore, Pakistan charged with murdering two young Pakistanis who were almost certainly themselves working for Pakistan's intelligence agency, the Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI), is an employee of the CIA. The paper says that based upon its reporters' interviews with both Pakistani and US sources, it is "confirming" that Davis is a CIA spy.

The paper adds that Davis's wife provided information numbers for him to a local TV station and those numbers turned out to be the CIA. Meanwhile, Agence France Press reports that Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), a loose-tongued member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also apparently inadvertently slipped up and disclosed on the Senate floor that Davis is an "agent", saying, "We can't throw this agent over."

Cuba's Upcoming Communist Party Congress: Moving Away from Socialism and Workers' Democracy

By Ron Ridenour

The Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) has set April 2011, the 50th anniversary of the revolution’s victory over the US-Cuban exile mercenary force at the Bay of Pigs, for its 6th Congress. I follow this process with special attention, in part, because I participated in the PCC’s 4th congress preparatory discussion, in 1991.

Like millions of others around the world, I feel the Cuban revolution was (and is) fought for me too. Cubans, including their leader Fidel Castro, help make us feel so. For instance, as recounted in the bookCastro's Cuba, Cuba's Fidel Fidel told Lee Lockwood: “Those who are exploited are our compatriots all over the world; and the exploiters all over the world are our enemies... Our country is really the whole world, and all the revolutionaries of the world are our brothers.”

Why Pakistan Cannot Release the Man Who Calls Himself Raymond Davis

Shaukat Qadir

Islamabad--By now journalists everywhere (except in the US) have come to the conclusion that there is far, far more to Raymond Davis than is being revealed by the US or by Pakistani officials. That he was engaged in anti-state activities in Pakistan and that the two young men he killed were intelligence agents tailing him is virtually an accepted fact.

The US, never famous for its diplomacy (The Ugly American, which made that point more than half a century ago, became a best seller and a very successful movie, starring Marlon Brando), seems to have discovered fresh depths to its strong-arm, coercive diplomacy. The mere fact that no less a personage than the US President has asked that this low-ranked person be granted absolute immunity, is indicative of the US desperation to get him him out of Pakistan and its court system.

Diplomatic and Consular Immunity: One Rule for Foreign Consulates in US, Another for US Consulates Abroad

By Dave Lindorff

President Obama, before he was a President or a Senator, was a constitutional law professor. He should know the law.

And yet in the increasingly dangerous show-down over Pakistan’s arrest and detention of Lahore consular contract “security official” Raymond Davis, who is charged with two counts of murder for the shooting deaths of two young Pakistanis on January 27, the president has grossly misstated what international law is with respect to the immunity from prosecution of diplomatic and consular officials.

US Misinformation: International Law is Clear that Diplomatic Immunity is Not Absolute

By Yasmeen Ali

Lahore, Pakistan--You cannot open the TV, or read a paper here without more and more news about Raymond Davis and his murderous act. His killing on Jan. 27 of two young Pakistanis has created international waves, too, plunging the Pakistan-America relationship into stormy waters.

A great deal has been written about the case: Raymond Davis’s employment status, whether he is a diplomat or not, who his victims were and what led to their demise at his hands, and finally whether or not Davis can be detained and ultimately tried under the Pakistani Law.

Interestingly though, nobody in the media has made a study of the Vienna Diplomatic Coventions that discuss diplomatic immunity. The convention of 1961 gets cited routinely by the American government, which claims it grants all diplomatic workers immunity from prosecution.

But that claim overstates the case. The actual document -- never actually quoted -- is more nuanced.

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.”

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