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A Jarring Disconnect: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What About Here at Home?

By Dave Lindorff

In his latest speeches on the Middle East, President Obama, both at the State Department and at the G8 meeting in France, has pledged billions of dollars in economic aid to Middle Eastern countries, drawing a direct connection between the unrest and demonstrations that brought down the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and the joblessness and hopelessness felt by the young people in those two countries.

His adviser on international economics, David Lipton, has been more specific, saying that, “We believe that these two pillars go hand in hand. Without economic modernization, it will be hard for governments trying to democratize to show people that democracy delivers.”

Unemployment in Egypt among young men and women is about 30%. In Tunisia, it is over 40%. The White House claims that with figures like that, the future for democracy in those countries is tenuous.

Too Big to Do Time?: Fed Wrist-slap for Wachovia Bank Makes a Farce of the Drug War

By Linn Washington, Jr.

The U.S. government won convictions against 23,506 drug traffickers nationwide during 2010, sending 96 percent of the offenders to prison, according to U.S. Sentencing Commission statistics.

Yet one of the biggest entities busted by the feds for involvement in drug trafficking last year received just a wrist-slap deal from federal prosecutors with nobody getting prison time.

During 2010, the U.S. government also won convictions against 806 persons involved in smaller-time drug-related money laundering, sending nearly 77 percent of those offenders to prison.

Yet when it came to a case involving billions of dollars in illegal drug profits, the federal government gave the same unusual wrist-slap to the same entity caught giving greed-blinded assistance to Mexican drug cartels by laundering billions of dollars in illegal profits for them.

Veterans Courts Hit the Beach in Philadelphia

By John Grant

John Fleming is a 58-year-old African American born and raised in Philadelphia who served in the Army from 1969 to 1972 maintaining nuclear weapons in silos in Germany.

It was 10:45 AM on Friday outside Courtroom 1006 in Philadelphia’s Criminal Justice Center. Fleming had been “caught with an illegal substance” and he was there for Veterans Court. Instead of taking his chances in the regular court system in Philadelphia, he had volunteered to participate in Philadelphia’s Veterans Court.

He was pacing in the hall. He had been told to be there at 10 AM for court that would not begin until 11 AM. Earlier there had been some kind of misunderstanding and he had to come back. He was impatient.

Will Sri Lanka's Tamils Get Some Measure of Justice from the United Nations?

By Ron Ridenour

Forty-seven governments on the Untied Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) will discuss and decide, beginning at its May 30th session, what to do about an unusually candid and truthful report in the world of international politics.

The Report of the Secretary-General’s Panel of Experts on Accountability in Sri Lanka was delivered to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on March 31 concerning both alleged war crimes and crimes against humanity in the last phases of the 26-year old civil war that ended May 19, 2009, and the consequences for approximately 300,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) and, by extension, for the 2.7 million Sri Lankan Tamils, who were the losers in the war. Some 13% of the Sri Lanka’s 21 million people are Tamil.

Obama Officials Refuse to Investigate New Evidence in National Guard 1970 Kent State Shootings

By Linn Washington, Jr.

Three days after President Barack Obama visited Ground Zero in New York City on May 5th with his message of "justice being done" with the slaying of terrorist Osama bin Laden, disturbing news broke about this administration's blocking of a quest for justice in the infamous May 1970 killing of four Kent State students.

Those four students fell in a barrage of gunfire on May 4, 1970 by Ohio National Guardsmen who opened fire during a peaceful protest against the Vietnam War on Kent State’s campus. That lethal fusillade of 67 shots during a 13-second period also wounded nine others, some seriously.

That blocking action by Obama officials includes an apparent unwillingness to investigate new evidence providing damning insights about that shooting orgy forty years ago, which heightened criticism about U.S. foreign policy in Vietnam and about the abuse of domestic political dissidents.

Two Pakistani Views on the Current Crisis in Post-Osama Assassination US-Pakistan Relations

Beware of Americans...Bearing Gifts

By Shaukat Qadir

I am sure everyone knows this but merely to ensure we are on the same grid, a policy has one or more aims to be achieved in a specified period and spells out how the said aims will be achieved. While I have no intention of fleshing out a policy in this article, I will merely seek to emphasise the need for one and suggest what it should be aiming at. Pakistan has been without any policy since Ayub Khan’s decline in 1964!

Let us start by looking at what every ordinary citizen of any country, including Pakistan, wants. First and foremost is security: Not just security of life and limb or security from neighbouring enemies, but also food security, water security, job security, economic security, energy security etc. The list is long, and he/she wants to live in peace, so as to have the right to ‘pursue happiness’.

Is the UK headed for a Break-Up?

By Ken Ferguson

The stunning victory in last week’s elections by the pro-independence
Scottish National Party was a result which was supposed to be
impossible.

Scotland, after all, ceased to be an independent country in 1707, when it was
forcibly joined with England to form Great Britain.

The union took place against a background of popular riots put down by
troops and has been controversial, to a greater or lesser degree, ever
since.

In 1999, following years of agitation and its endorsement in a
Scotland-wide referendum, the Scottish Parliament reconvened with
powers over a wide range of domestic matters such a health, education,
planning, etc.

The new parliament was designed with an electoral system designed so that it
would supposed be impossible for any one party to win a majority -- the explicit intention being to prevent the SNP from using it a stepping stone
to independence.

Cuban SEALS for Florida?

By Victor Grossman

Berlin -- The debate continues: Was the killing of Osama bin Laden justified? Perhaps a rather useless debate since he is now most certainly dead. But despite their distance in time and space some flashbacks insist on recurring, right next to terrible images of those two planes and the two huge buildings collapsing in New York ten years ago. (No, make that three buildings!)

I for example still think about that Cuban plane which exploded on October 6th 1976 in the Caribbean, killing the 5 crew members and all 73 passengers, including the entire champion fencing team of Cuba, many of whom were still teenagers. All four men directly responsible for this horror had ties to the CIA which, it was later revealed, knew of the bombing in advance.

The Dude Abides For You and Me

By John Grant

I know when night has gone
That a new world's born at dawn.

I'll keep rolling along
Deep in my heart is a song
Here on the range I belong
Drifting along with the tumbling tumbleweeds.

"Tumbling Tumbleweeds"
-- Sons Of The Pioneers

_______________________

We live in frustrating times for anyone politically opposed to the relentless militarization and financialization of virtually every facet of life in America.

The idealism of the Sixties and Seventies was overwhelmed first by Reaganism, then by the tsunami of post-911 fear and, finally, by the momentum of two, now three, on-going foreign wars. We live in an enforced condition of permanent war and unfettered piracy.

Bill Hicks and the Place of Corporate Comedy

By Charles M. Young

I have three comedians on my iPod: Richard Pryor, George Carlin and Bill Hicks. All of them evolved as much into prophets as comedians, and all of them died younger than they should have from maladies that probably had something to do with the stress of being a live performer on the road in corporate America.

Hicks died the youngest, of pancreatic cancer at the age of 32 in 1994. Perhaps his pancreas had had enough of his drinking, which started later than usual at the age of 21 but got excessive quickly. Or maybe it was road food from all that driving to comedy clubs around the country. He looked puffy by his mid-20s. If Hicks came back from the dead, he could do a good routine about government agents slipping some carcinogen (white sugar?) into his food because his routines had come too close to the truth.

Numbers Racket: Why the Democratic Party is a Corporate Lickspittle and Cannot Be the People’s Party

By Dave Lindorff

A new Gallup Poll conducted for USA Today earlier this week reports that a majority of Americans (52%) say that they would prefer a third party instead of the two parties, Republican and Democrat, that have dominated American politics for nearly centuries.

The poll shows that one third of Democrats say there’s a need for a new political party, while 52% of Republicans say the same thing. Meanwhile, 68% of independents say they have no use for either Democrats or Republicans and would prefer another option (no surprise there--that’s why they are not registered with either of the two major parties).

Obama's Terror War Misses Domestic Targets

By Linn Washington, Jr.

In the wake of the Obama Administration’s ballyhooed elimination of Osama bin Laden, thousands of government workers across the United States wonder when their president will provide them the ‘comfort of closure’ through his attacking a terrorism they confront daily.

This terrorism ravishing government employees working in entities from mega-federal agencies to small municipalities fits the classic dictionary definition of terrorism: using force or threats to demoralize, intimidate and subjugate.

This terrorism is a tyranny predating the birth of al Qaeda: institutional racism and its related deprivations like vicious retaliation against anyone objecting to unlawful institutional inequities.

Interestingly, a raging battlefield in the institutional racism wars is the federal Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Civil Rights, where numerous organizations have blasted that office’s director for his failures to enforce civil rights.

Bin Laden Back Story: Destroying the Monster We Created

By James Ridgeway

Back in the 1980s, before the Cold War gave way to the War on Terror, American money and supplies helped Osama Bin Laden create Al Qaeda and build it into one of the world’s most successful terrorist organizations. And without the close alliances between Al Qaeda and our “allies” Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, the attack on the World Trade Towers could not have been carried out. What follows are the bare bones of what we know of this world as it existed in the days before September 11, 2001. (Some of the early material in this account first appeared in my book The Five Unanswered Questions About 9/11.)

A Troubled Nation Feeds on Bin Ladin's Corpse

By John Grant

Supplying an army at a distance drains the public coffers and impoverishes the common people.
--Sun-Tzu, The Art of War

With the killing of Osama bin Laden by a 79-member JSOC hunter/killer team inside Pakistan, the nation has entered yet another of those moments when a news media that professes independence has become an unashamed cheerleader for militarism.

No one can deny the JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) Seal Team executed its killing mission with great competence and aplomb. They were also lucky that the bin Laden entourage had apparently become so confident of its safety that it was a bit lackadaisical.

'Fog of War' My Ass: White House and CIA Caught in a Lie about Osama Bin Laden Assassination

By Dave Lindorff

In the end they couldn't get away with it.

As I noted back on Monday in my first article on the Sunday Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed Osama Bin Laden, President Obama himself spilled the beans in his initial midnight statement, when he said, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

After that perhaps unintentionally honest account of an execution, the lies began, with White House chief counter-terrorism advisor (great title huh?) John O. Brennan fabulating that Bin Laden had "engaged in a firefight" with the SEALs who "entered the area of the house he was in," and adding, "Whether or not he got off any rounds, I frankly don't know." Then there were the lies that Bin Laden had shamefully used his wife as a "human shield," that he had been armed with an assault rifle, etc.

Questions about the Obama Osama Drama

By Yasmeen Ali 

Lahore, Pakistan -- I am incredulous!

I’ll say one thing: this US Special Forces operation deserves a standing ovation for immaculate execution. Except that some details do get confusing.  

Maybe I’m just slow, but truly, viewing the still pictures of the compound where Osama was shot to death that are being aired on local TV here, I am left spell-bound by many odd contradictions.

First, the wall that encircled the compound, which was blasted through to allow entry to the US attackers, showed a humble charpoy next to a water geyser and a few odd household items stacked right next to the opening. Not a hair out of place, so to speak. It was all a little too orderly for my lawyerly taste. Wouldn’t something have been damaged or knocked over at least?

What were They Thinking? Suspicions will Inevitably Grow about the Extermination of Osama bin Laden

By Dave Lindorff

According to the brief announcement made by President Barack Obama last night, the operation in Pakistan by US Navy SEAL special forces was a well-planned hit job.

“They took care to avoid civilian casualties,” the president said of the top-secret night-time raid by helicopter on a highly secure compound near a military base in Abbottadad, a city only about an hour’s drive drive from, Islamabad, Pakistan’s capital city. He added, “After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

Not for long though. After “double-tapping” bin Laden--that is a military term for the illegal process of executing a wounded person--or insuring that a person is truly dead--that involves firing not one but two bullets into the head--his body was taken out of Pakistan by the departing SEAL raiding party, and reportedly buried (dumped) at sea.

Solidarity & Resistance: Participatory Journalism

By Ron Ridenour

(Part II of journalist Ridenour’s political autobiography, Solidarity and Resistance: 50 Years With Che)

Wilfred Burchett was a key source of information for many of us who wanted to understand what the United States was doing against Southeast Asians. Burchett was an intrepid reporter for decades. He was the first correspondent to enter Hiroshima after the nuclear bombing and brought the world the military-censored news of its horrors.

Cheri Honkala runs as Robin Hood to become Sheriff of Philadelphia

By John Grant

Some men rob you with a six gun.
Some do it with a fountain pen.

“Pretty Boy Floyd”
Woody Guthrie

_____________________

We hear a lot about what democracy is about in America. Some of it is true and some of it is the usual boilerplate crap. Whatever you hear about the Cheri Honkala Green Party campaign for Sheriff of Philadelphia – and of course there’s a lot of crap going around -- one thing is true, it’s real democracy in action.

TCBH! Exclusive: Statement by President Barack Obama on Release of his Democratic Party Registration Certificate

The intrepid journalists at ThisCantBeHappening! have obtained and exclusive: documentary proof from the White House that President Obama is actually a Democrat and has been since he turned 18. See the president's actual 1979 Democratic Party registration, at www.thiscantbehappening.net Finally we can put this canard to rest...

3rd Circuit Appeal Ruling Favoring Abu-Jamal Smacks Down US Supreme Court

By Linn Washington, Jr.

The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, in a stunning smack at the U.S. Supreme Court, has issued a ruling upholding its earlier decision backing a new sentencing hearing in the controversial case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, the convicted killer of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner.

The latest ruling, issued on Tuesday April 26, 2011, upholds a ruling the Third Circuit issued over two years ago siding with a federal district court judge who, back in 2001, had set aside Abu-Jamal’s death penalty after determining that death penalty instructions provided to the jury, and a flawed jury ballot document used during Abu-Jamal’s 1982 trial, had been unclear.

The U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the Third Circuit to re-examine its 2009 ruling upholding the lifting of Abu-Jamal’s death sentence.

War Crimes Charges Anyone?: New Exposé of Big Oil’s Role in the Iraq War

By James Ridgeway

   When it was  suggested the war in Iraq was about oil, Tony Blair,then the British prime minister, had this to say on February 6,2003:

     “Let me just deal with the oil thing because… the oil conspiracy theory is honestly one of the most absurd when you analyse it. The fact is that, if the oil that Iraq has were our concern, I mean we could probably cut a deal with Saddam tomorrow in relation to the oil. It’s not the oil that is the issue, it is the weapons…”

Talking Revolution: The New Elderly Generation can provide the Spark for an American Rising

By Dave Lindorff

I am 62 and have just reached the age where I could apply for Social Security retirement benefits. Of course, I’d be crazy to do that and collect some $700 a month for the rest of my life, when I could keep working and wait until I’m 70 and get $2000 a month.

But the point is, I’ve arrived. I’m a “senior.” And now I’m paying a lot more attention to what the Right and its paymaster, the corporate lobby, are trying to do, not just to my retirement plan (which is Social Security. period), but also to Medicare, the program upon which my medical care will depend once my wife decides to retire from her university job.

Hedging, Delusion and Dishonesty in Afghanistan

By John Grant

“The Americans have not been honest about this, even among themselves.”

That’s how Mullah Attullah Lodin, deputy chairman of the High Peace Council of Afghanistan sees our nation and its government as it relates to the question of permanent bases in Afghanistan and to his specific portfolio, the establishment of peace in Afghanistan.

Lodin is a former Hizb-e Islami militia commander (they fought the Russians), and he's now in the Karzai government. Some might suggest he has an agenda, which generally means he's not in synch with US policy. Americans don't have "agendas." The presumption is Afghans are backward and corrupt and somehow not as worthy of trust as a westerner or an American. And he's all for talking peace with the Taliban, which makes him radioactive.

An 'Oh Please!' Moment; Is S&P Running Interference for the Right to Help Crush Social Security and Medicare?

By Dave Lindorff

Today’sbreathless anxiety-inducing headline was that Standard & Poors, the rating agency, has issued a “negative outlook” warning on US sovereign debt, claiming that the US, in comparison with other countries with a top AAA credit rating, has "very large budget deficits and rising government indebtedness and the path to addressing these is not clear to us". S&P warned that there was a “a one in three chance that the US could lose its AAA rating in two years because of its mounting debt.”

The ratings firm--one of three global companies that Wall Street relies upon to establish the credit ratings of companies and nations around the world--said its analysts had “little confidence” that the Obama administration and the divided Congress would reach any agreement on a deficit-reduction plan before the next national election in the fall of 2012, and that they doubted that any such plan would be adopted until after 2014, two whole Congressional elections away.

Solidarity and Struggle: 50 Years with Che

Ron Ridenour

(This article is the first of seven pieces dedicated to the Cuban revolution and its defeat of the US imperialist invasion 50 years ago, April 17-19, 1961, and embraces my half-century struggle.)

I. Sharing Che’s Activism

Che’s penetrating eyes stare at me seriously as I write about him. It is strange that I have never written about him before, other than to quote him. Perhaps it is because Che has been too large a figure for me to tackle? I don’t know. This writing, though, is a commemoration of Che and of my 50 years in our common struggle.

Ernesto Guevara was my greatest personal inspiration and Cuba’s revolution was my greatest collective inspiration—along with the Vietnamese resistance fighters. Nicknamed Che, an Argentine expression, he lived and died as he preached. Che’s internationalist ideals, his consequent actions, his integrity and charm, have influenced my life all these decades.

Happy Birthday Jed! You're on the Rolls as a Potential Draftee in America's Wars

By Dave Lindorff

America’s wars came home today in the mail, with a letter from the Selective Service. Enclosed was my son Jed’s draft card, just a week ahead of his 18th birthday.

The card, which unlike the ones in my day, comes in technicolor, arrived along with a glossy brochure advertising the US military as: “The career you were born to pursue.”

The card featured a color photograph of a bunch of Army recruits jogging towards the reader wearing gray T’s and camo pants. Over the head of each of these runners was a career: scuba diver, computer software engineer, occupational therapist, firefighter, public relations, accountant, human services assistant, interpreter, musician, journalist...etc.

The journalist, appropriately, was buried behind the pack, so all you could see was about two thirds of her face. You might say she was “embedded” in the group.

The Battle Over PTSD

By John Grant

The battle over the meaning of a traumatic experience is fought in the arena of political discourse, popular culture and scholarly debate. The outcome of this battle shapes the rhetoric of the dominant culture and influences future political action.

--Kali Tal, Worlds Of Hurt: Reading the Literature of Trauma

There’s a major struggle for meaning going on in America now that centers on war trauma among returning soldiers and veterans of our wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and, now, Libya.

Not Licensed to Kill: America's Imperious Attitude in Pakistan is Wearing Thin

By Dave Lindorff

There was a truly bizarre and telling paragraph at the end of a Wall Street Journal news report today on Pakistan’s demand that the US bring home hundreds of CIA and Special Forces personnel operating undercover in that country, and that it halt the drone strikes in the border regions abutting Afghanistan, which have been killing countless civilian men, women and children.

Reporters Adam Entous and Matthew Rosenberg, with no sense of irony, wrote:

The US hasn’t committed to adjusting the drone program in response to Pakistan’s request. The CIA operates covertly, meaning the program doesn’t require Islamabad’s support, under US law. Some officials say the CIA operates with relative autonomy in the tribal areas. They played down the level of support they now receive from Pakistan.

Hail to the Trump: Class Traitor

By Charles M. Young

In the past few months, Obama has had time to play golf. He’s had time to fill out his NCAA basketball playoff bracket. He’s had time to go to Chile, a country prone to terrible earthquakes, and sell them new nuclear reactors. He’s had time to go to Florida and tell Jeb Bush what a great job he did on education. He’s had time to be a “bridge” between John Boehner and Harry Reid.

Obama did not have time to go to Wisconsin.

That would be the same Wisconsin whose unions donated money and turned out for him at mass rallies so that Obama could collect Wisconsin’s 10 electoral votes in 2008.

That would be the same Wisconsin which was so demoralized by Obama’s first two years of broken promises that Democrats didn’t turn out in 2010, thus dooming Russ Feingold to defeat in the Senate and allowing the election of Scott Walker as governor.

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