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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.

Trials of Globalization: And We All Melt Down

By Betsy Ross

We are now on the brink of the mother of all meltdowns in more ways than one.

Last weekend, The Times quoted Alan Hansen, a nuclear engineer and executive vice president of Areva NC, a unit of Areva, a French group that supplied reactor fuel to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plan, who spoke before a private gathering at Stanford University. “Clearly,” he summarized, “we’re witnessing one of the greatest disasters in modern time.” What the on-going release of cancer-causing radioactive fragments means in terms of human health and the environment is only beginning to come to light.

How About a Spring Peace Offensive in Afghanistan?

By John Grant

Peace is in the air and its blowing around like little specks of Spring pollen. Maybe it’s a good time for the US government to recognize this hopeful spirit of Spring and try to figure out a new tack in its foreign war policy.

US war policy is still very much bogged down in the paranoid, preemptive strike mentality of the Bush years. We have moved on only in the sense our very sophisticated military is now less concerned about holding large areas and much more focused on the precise task of finding and killing insurgent leaders. Lop off their heads.

At the same time, using its two most powerful tools vis-à-vis the American public – secrecy and public relations – our military is involved in a concerted campaign of face-saving, lest anyone think our forces are in a condition of moral quagmire or military stalemate. Which they are.

Mass Incarceration Creates Big Mess Across America

By Linn Washington Jr.

Herman Garner doesn’t dispute the drug charge that slammed him in prison for nine years.

Garner does dispute the damning circumstance that doing the time for his crime still leaves him penalized despite his having ended his sentence in the penal system.

Garner carries the “former felon” stain.

That status slams employment doors shut in his face despite his having a MBA Degree and two years of law school.

“I’ve applied for jobs at thousands of places in person and on the internet, but I’m unable to get a job,” said Garner, a Cleveland, Ohio resident who recently published a book about his prison/life experiences titled Wavering Between Extremes.

Recently Garner joined hundreds of people attending a day-long conference at Princeton University entitled “Imprisonment Of A Race,” that featured presentations by scholars and experts on the devastating, multi-faceted impact of mass incarceration across America.

New Song by Dave Lindorff: That Tea Party Racket (Ain't Playin' Too Well No More) Blues

(to hear the song, go to ThisCantBeHappening! and click on the link.

New Song by Dave Lindorff:

That Tea Party Racket (Ain't Playin' So Well No More) Blues

Governor Scott Walker tried to
Take union rights away
But the workers of Wisconsin
Are gonna make him pay
We’re working on those recalls
Gonna show those bums the door.
That Tea Party racket
Ain’t playin’ so well no more!

Oh here in Pennsylvania
Corbett’s slashing aid to schools.
That means more local taxes.
They’re playing us for fools
But meanwhile with natural gas
He’s giving away the store.
This Tea Party racket
Ain’t playin’ so well no more!


Over in Ohio
The legislature threw
Union rights of cops away
And firefighters too.
What happens if a fire
Starts on the capital floor?
Then that Tea Party racket
Won’t play so well no more!

There’s twenty percent unemployed
Home prices in the the gutter

Why Are We In Libya?

By John Grant

“…get a man greedy enough and he got the guts to go – go, go, … Vietnam, hot damn.”

-Norman Mailer, Why Are We In Vietnam?

The Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP), the program created by Congress to expend over $700 billion of our tax dollars to prevent a “meltdown of the financial system,” is a “colossal failure.” It’s now official. Neil M. Barofsky, the man hired as TARP’s special inspector general, has come clean.

Why is it a colossal failure? Because, Mr Barofsky says, the act passed by Congress “expressly directs” Timothy Geithner’s Treasury Department to spend hundreds of billions of the TARP money to aid struggling homeowners with their mortgages.

Speaking Events

2015

May 8 New Jersey

May 30 NYC here and here

August 27, Chicago

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