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By Charles M. Young
Between college and graduate school, I worked for a year in a factory in Verona, Wisconsin, which is a few miles and a paradigm shift outside of Madison. It wasn’t the worst place to work. We had a union. We had benefits. We chopped, folded and riveted large sheets of metal and turned them into the air diffusers that you can see in the ceilings of theaters and other large buildings.
More Syrian Blood on Obama's Hands
by Stephen Lendman
Morning headlines again falsely accused Assad of mass killings in Qubeir village in central Hama province.
Houla-style slaughter was repeated. Reports said as many as 78 civilians were killed. Half were women and children. Around 35 members of one family were murdered in cold blood.
Endangered Press Freedom in Israel
by Stephen Lendman
America and Israel both wage wars on free and open expression. Whistleblowing journalists are targeted. Threats give others pause. Bradley Manning and Julian Assange understand Washington's wrath.
So dooes Israeli journalist Anat Kam and Haaretz's national security reporter Uri Blau.
Thanks for the response to my column last week on giving Obama "more time" for what? As I prepare for the American Humanist Association conference this week in New Orleans, where I'll be speaking on the theme "Humanity and the Planet Come First: Stop the Crimes of Our Government," I'm reading more on Obama's "Kill List" - and I recommend you look further into it as well.
by Bill Fisher
Each week there are reports of the TSA groping children and harassing the elderly, along with stories of internal corruption and theft. To divert attention from this continual bad publicity, the TSA likes to place stories trying to show that its employees sometimes do their job and find a weapon that a passenger forgot to remove from a carry-on bag. (Though how doing one’s job is somehow newsworthy is puzzling. Imagine if Domino’s issued a press release every time it delivered a pizza.)
Remembering Bob Chapman
by Stephen Lendman
On June 4, longtime market expert, analyst, Progressive Radio News Hour regular, International Forecaster owner and editor, and valued friend succumbed to pancreatic cancer.
He endured a protracted struggle to recover from what took him. He'll be sorely missed.
Walker Wins, Wisconsinites Lose
by Stephen Lendman
Morning headlines read more like obituaries than reason for anyone to celebrate. Despite pre-election polls suggesting either candidate could win, odds greatly favored Republican Scott Walker.
Some years ago, I watched a screening of a film about Daniel Ellsberg and the release of the Pentagon Papers. The film was shown in the U.S. Capitol, and Ellsberg was present, along with others, to discuss the movie and take questions afterwards.
I've just read Chris Hayes' new book "Twilight of the Elites," and am reminded of the question that progressive blogger and then-Congressman Alan Grayson staffer Matt Stoller asked Ellsberg.
What, Stoller wanted to know, should one do when (following the 2003 invasion of Iraq) one has come to the realization that the New York Times cannot be trusted?
The first thing I thought to myself upon hearing this was, of course, "Holy f---, why would anyone have ever trusted the New York Times?" In fact I had already asked a question about the distance we'd traveled from 1971, when the New York Times had worried about the potential shame of having failed to publish a story, to 2005 when the New York Times publicly explained that it had sat on a major story (about warrantless spying) out of fear of the shame of publishing it.
But the reality is that millions of people have trusted and do trust, in various ways and to various degrees, the New York Times and worse. Ellsberg's response to Stoller was that his was an extremely important question and one that he, Ellsberg, had never been asked before.
It's a question that Hayes asks in his book, which can be read well together with Chris Hedges' "Death of the Liberal Class." Hedges' book goes back further in U.S. history to chart the demise of liberal institutions from academia to media to labor. Hayes stays more current and also more conceptual, perhaps more thought-provoking.
Hayes charts a growing disillusionment with authorities of all variety: government, media, doctors, lawyers, bankers. We've learned that no group can be blindly trusted. "The cascade of elite failure," writes Hayes, "has discredited not only elites and our central institutions, but the very mental habits we use to form our beliefs about the world. At the same time, the Internet has produced an unprecedented amount of information to sort through and radically expanded the arduous task of figuring out just whom to trust." Hayes calls this "disorienting."
While I have benefitted from Hayes' brilliant analysis, I just can't bring myself to feel disoriented. I can, however, testify to the presence of this feeling in others. When I speak publicly, I'm often asked questions about how to avoid this disorientation. I spoke recently about the need to correct much of what the corporate media was saying about Iran, and a woman asked me how I could choose which sources of news reporting to trust. I replied that it is best to watch for verifiable specifics reported by multiple sources, to begin by questioning the unstated assumptions in a story, to study history so that facts don't appear in a vacuum, and to not blindly trust or reject any sources -- the same reporter or outlet or article could have valuable information mixed in with trash. Such critical media consumption may not be easy to do after a full day's work, I'll grant you. But it's not any harder to do than reading the New York Times and performing the mental gymnastics required to get what you've read to match up with the world you live in.
Amnesty International ran ads and sent a letter signed by Madeline Albright supporting the absurd claim signed by the heads of state at the NATO summit in Chicago: “In the ten years of our partnership the lives of Afghan men, women and children, have improved significantly in terms of security, education, health care, economic opportunity and the assurance of rights and freedoms. There is more to be done, but we are resolved to work together to preserve the substantial progress we have made during the past decade.”
Recent facts to the contrary include:
Chase Madar discusses his new book "The Passion of Bradley Manning: The Story of the Suspect Behind the Largest Security Breach in U.S. History." Madar is a civil rights attorney. He writes for the London Review of Books, Le Monde diplomatique, the American Conservative, CounterPunch, and TomDispatch. He discusses with host David Swanson the voluminous information that Manning is accused of providing to Wikileaks and to us, and some of the startling insights it gives us into what our supposedly representative government has been up to. The show also looks at the official and public responses to Manning, his mistreatment, his legal status, and the fate of whistleblowers under the Obama administration.
Total run time: 29:00
Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Engineer: Christiane Brown.
Music by Duke Ellington.
Syndicated by Pacifica Network.
Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!
Embed on your own site with this code:
<object autostart="false" data="http://davidswanson.org/sites/davidswanson.org/files/talknationradio/talknationradio_20120606.mp3" height="100px" width="400px"></object>
By Dave Lindorff
There will be all kinds of dancing around the issue of why progressives lost the recall campaign against union-busting Tea Party Republican Gov. Scott Walker in Wisconsin on Tuesday, with the Obama campaign trying to claim that it was not a reflection on him or his popularity, the Democratic Party saying it was not their battle, and the labor movement, sadly, blaming it all on right-wing money. They’ll all be saying that it doesn’t matter, and that the important thing is to focus on helping Democrats win in November.
Sorting Out the Facts about Iran
By Ray McGovern
Editor Note: Neocons, including the Washington Post’seditors, keep playing games with the facts regarding Iran’s nuclear program. The plan apparently is to guide the United States into a military confrontation whether President Obama and the American people want one or not. McGovern will discuss these issues at 6:00 PM Thursday, June 7, at Random Row Books, 315 West Main St., Charlottesville, Virginia.
On the issue of Iran’s “nuclear ambitions” you hear one thing on Monday, a different thing on Tuesday. “It’s a puzzlement!” to quote Yul Brunner’s famous line in The King and I. But in this case, the confusion is hardly insignificant.
Heated Anti-Assad Rhetoric Promotes War
by Stephen Lendman
Increasingly war looks likely. Earlier Obama said "the Assad regime must come to an end."
In early June, White House press secretary Jay Carney said "bloody sectarian war will be diminished if Assad removes himself from power or is no longer in power."
Israeli Commanders Face Trial in Turkish Court
by Stephen Lendman
A previous article discussed arrest warrants issued for four ex-IDF senior officers.
By Gary Lindorff
Welcome to the Land of No-poetry.
If I succeed in writing this poem
No one will understand me.
It will be like talking backwards.
It will be like autism.
There is no music here,
Except what you buy.
The weather is predictable.
Frogs are two-headed or one-legged
But it doesn’t mean anything.
Up means up, down means down.
Scott Simon, NPR & The Empire
Crisis Economic Conditions
by Stephen Lendman
Global economic data signal trouble. Headlines reflect worsening conditions.
The Financial Times said America's dismal jobs report and world economic weakness raise "fears of a sharp global slowdown" or worse.
Reason for Hope and Despair in Palestine
By Stephen Lendman
First the good news.
On May 24, Haaretz headlined "Turkey issues arrest warrants for ex-IDF officers," saying:
As of Monday evening, Charlottesville City Council has joined the list of over 250 localities, several state legislatures, 22 state attorneys general, the Supreme Court of Montana, four Supreme Court justices, dozens of Congress members, countless clubs and organizations and political parties, and -- in poll after poll -- the vast majority of the people of the United States -- all of whom want the U.S. Constitution amended or by other means wish to undo the Citizens United ruling that opened the flood gates on corporate election spending.
A group of local citizens met, one at a time, with four of the five City Council members ahead of time to win their support. Several of us spoke at Monday's meeting. When I spoke I asked people to stand up if they believed that Congress and states and cities should be allowed to limit or ban corporate and private spending on elections.
A delegation of over a dozen Afghans, mostly women, was attending the meeting. I encouraged them to stand up if they thought the model for Afghanistan's future should be democracy rather than corruption.
I didn't spot a single person left seated.
But there probably was one, because a woman had spoken against the resolution. She'd falsely accused those of us speaking in support of not being from Charlottesville and not caring about local people or local issues. We of course had explained the importance of local governments representing their constituents to higher governments on matters of great importance.
The local newspaper, the Daily Progress, had devoted a big front-page story a few days beforehand to the point of view of the one city council member who opposed the resolution on the grounds that it was not a local matter. Following a 4-0 vote in favor of the resolution, the Daily Progress quickly produced a new article about the point of view of that same city council member who had abstained, not the four who had voted yes, not the crowd that supported them, not what it does to Charlottesville to have a Congress that ignores majority opinion and obeys its funders, not the people who had drafted and promoted the resolution, not the impact it might have, not the national trend, not the pending U.S. Supreme Court case, but the one councilwoman who abstained from voting and who -- during the course of Monday's meeting baselessly accused her four colleagues of being "manipulated" -- presumably by us.
City Councilman Dave Norris pointed out that every single locality in Virginia petitions the state goverment every year, and many petititon Congress every year. Councilwoman Kristin Szakos noted that when she and her colleagues devote 30 minutes to an important issue, they don't neglect others but simply extend the meeting 30 minutes.
The resolution text, or very close to it, follows. For exact wording check with Charlottesville City Council.
WHEREAS, We the people adopted and ratified the United States Constitution to protect the free speech and other rights of people, not corporations; and
WHEREAS, Corporations are not people but instead are entities created by the law of states and nations; and
WHEREAS, for the past three decades, a divided United States Supreme Court has transformed the First Amendment into a powerful tool for corporations seeking to evade and invalidate the people’s laws; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, relying on prior decisions, interpreted the First Amendment of the Constitution to afford corporations the same free speech protections as natural persons; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United overturned longstanding precedent prohibiting corporations from spending corporate general treasury funds in our elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United unleashed a torrent of corporate money in our political process unmatched by any campaign expenditure totals in United States history; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United purports to invalidate state laws and even state Constitutional provisions separating corporate money from elections; and
WHEREAS, Citizens United presents a serious and direct threat to our republican democracy; and
WHEREAS, hundreds of municipalities across the nation are joining together to call for an Amendment to the United States Constitution to establish that political speech and spending by corporate entities to influence the political process must be regulated and made subservient to the people’s interest in authentic democracy and self-governance; and
WHEREAS, the people of the United States previously have used the constitutional amendment process to correct decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court that are deemed to be egregious and wrongly decided and which go to the heart of our democracy and self-government.
NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT WE CALL UPON THE VIRGINIA STATE LEGISLATURE AND THE UNITED STATES CONGRESS TO SUPPORT A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO REVERSE CITIZENS UNITED V. FEDERAL ELECTION COMMISSION AND TO RESTORE CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS AND FAIR ELECTIONS TO THE PEOPLE. By the People of Charlottesville, Va.
June 4, 2012
Hello All – With two weeks to go before the next round of negotiations with Iran about its nuclear program, the “P5+1” shows no sign of making the accommodations necessary for some kind of deal. Instead, the US-led P5+1 has refused to consider lifting sanctions and reiterated its threats of military action. The pessimism that followed the unsuccessful talks in Baghdad has only deepened. It looks like the US-led coalition wants to wait and see whether the European Union anti-Iran oil embargo, due to go into effect on July 1, will cause Iran to agree to US/Israeli demands to end its nuclear program.
For activist, author, and blogger David Swanson, it really is about the never-ending struggle for social and economic justice; the same battle that has been fought since time began. And for him, “success” or “defeat” cannot be defined by one election or one Supreme Court ruling. For Swanson, “victory” may be generations away, but that does not deter him from keeping the activism fires burning via every avenue he can find.
“I don’t necessarily tell people not to lose hope,” Swanson said in a recent interview with Wisdom Voices. “I think there’s a problem with having a dependency on hope. I don’t go through these cycles of being hopeful and then being despondent. I actually enjoy activism. I don’t think activism is something temporary that we do it once and then everything will be fixed and then we stop. I think it’s permanent and it should be permanent. Activism is more enjoyable than sitting home and griping. It provides me a way to enjoy living every day.”
Based in Charlottesville, Virginia, Swanson is a prolific writer and author of several books, the most recent being:
- The Military Industrial Complex at 50 (2012)
- When the World Outlawed War (2011)
- War Is A Lie (2010)
- Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union (2009)
Information on his books and other articles can be found at his web site: www.davidswanson.org.
Activism has been rooted in almost all of Swanson’s adult life. He holds a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He has worked as a newspaper reporter and as a communications director, with jobs including press secretary for Dennis Kucinich’s 2004 presidential campaign, media coordinator for the International Labor Communications Association, and three years as communications coordinator for ACORN. John Nichols of The Nation magazine once said: “David Swanson will be remembered and well recognized as the citizen who held up a lamp in the darkness and cried, as did good Tom Paine: ‘We have it in our power to begin the world over again.’ ”
“The most important work I think is educational,” Swanson said. “By that I mean activism has to take a kind of broad term organizational effort. It’s not in passing a particular bill or electing a particular person. Setbacks shouldn’t get us down. If all of our hopes lie in (President) Obama turning out to be better than he claimed to be or all of our hopes are in un-electing (Wisconsin Governor Scott) Walker, we’re setting ourselves up for defeat because we can lose a particular battle and because elections can be the wrong place to be putting our emphasis to begin with. I think we should be putting about 95 percent of our efforts into educating and organizing and mobilizing non-violent struggle and maybe 5 percent into elections.
“But that doesn’t mean I’m not disturbed about what’s going on in our country today. I’m extremely disturbed that the primary business of our government has been mass murder and the preparation for mass murder. And we’ve given presidents powers that kings never had, and most of us will be completely oblivious to that fact as we grill out and shoot off fireworks on another 4th of July.
“And I find it extremely disturbing that we are ruining our earth’s atmosphere for our children and grandchildren. I think we either go down fighting or we win by reversing these trends. But to sit back and watch TV, and say we can’t do anything or we lost an election seems to me immoral. Maybe that’s because I really do enjoy activism.
“We are in a struggle for our lives…a struggle that will not see victory come for generations. And we don’t have to be martyrs about it or somehow make ourselves victims about it, but it is something we have to understand will just go on. But even for people who have demanding day jobs, they are doing a ton of work for peace and justice. People do it in different ways; mine happens to be writing.”
And although the struggle for economic and social just has been a continuing and historic struggle, Swanson does sense something “different” about what’s happening today.
“Historically everyone has thought that their age was the crisis or turning point in history,” he said. “I think in a certain sense we are in a more dangerous time globally than we’ve seen before. I say that in terms of the environmental devastation that is ruining our atmosphere and our ecosystem as well as in terms of our proliferation of weapons that can destroy life on earth.
“Those twin dangers are unprecedented in the military empire of the United States in terms of military spending and production and the number of bases and our presence in occupations around the world. No one has ever had an empire remotely resembling this. It is something we haven’t seen before and it’s incredibly dangerous and destructive environmentally as well as other terms. For example, the U.S. military is our biggest consumer of oil and uses the highest percentage of oil that it fights wars for. It’s an incredibly dangerous cycle.
“And, we are in a place in history that we’ve never been before in terms of our democracy. We’ve done away with more civil liberties, more checks and balances. We have formally legalized a form of campaign bribery. We have less control over our so called representatives in Washington.
“Granted, you can go back in history and find whole chunks of the populace who were forbidden from voting or were slaves or were shut out of the process, but there’s always been popular activism and popular media. And that’s missing today. We are now in a place in which majority opinion is just ignored in Washington by both parties. We’ve never so empowered a set of parties and we’ve never so shut out popular opinion even as we continue to wage wars in the name of democracy.
Swanson points to some positive developments such as the rise of the Internet to counter the corporate controlled main stream media. “If you poll the American people on what we actually want, if majority opinion really ruled, we’d be in a much better place than we’ve been in the past. But we have less activism today and much greater belief in the futile inability of activism. We have people believing they are a minority when they are a majority on positions such as taxing the rich, green energy, etc. We have people believing activism doesn’t work and so we should sit home and be miserable, and that’s a very dangerous trend.
“People want to understand how what they are doing can do some good. They’ve been taught that only elections matter or that the things we see daily are the only things that matter. And then we give up. That’s the wrong frame of mind to be in. We have to tell people the good their work is doing…even if that good doesn’t show up for a long time and even with the fact that the government is trying to hide from us the way we influence it.
“There’s value in election campaigns if they build a movement, if they organize, if they educate, whether they elect an official or not. It’s an added plus if they do. But fundamentally we’re currently electing people in a pair of parties that have sold out and are doing the work of their funders.”
Swanson specifically pointed to the recent New York Times article that described the drone killings by President Obama. “If somehow it had been revealed that Obama was really George W. Bush in disguise, we would have had millions of people surrounding and protesting at the White House. Somehow, we’ve imagined that when Obama does this, he somehow is wringing his hands with guilt or that everyone tells themselves that secretly Obama means well. Or that it’s our job to denounce Mitt Romney because some how he would be even worse. And that’s fatal for us as a country.
“If you can’t object to giving someone arbitrary power to kill, if you can’t object to that because you can imagine someone else coming up will be even worse, then we’ve really tied both hands behind our back.”
The son of a man who studied to be a preacher, Swanson carries that fiery vocal force in his talks and conferences he leads or supports. He was part of the Military Industrial Complex (MIC) at 50 conference in September 2011 and is one of the featured speakers at Peacestock 2012 at the Windbeam Farm in Hager City, Wisconsin.
“I’ve never understood there to be an alternative (to activism),” Swanson said. I would be miserable if I weren’t working a job to help save the world…if I were just working to make a buck.”
See below to hear David Swanson in his own words:
By Michael Collins
(Chantilly, VA 6/3/2012) The Bilderberg Group completed its annual meeting today in Northern Virginia. The group was founded in 1954 by the financial, political, and military elites of Europe and the United States. Annual meetings provide for "regular, off-the-record discussions [to] help create a better understanding of the complex forces and major trends affecting Western nations in the difficult post-war period." Bilderberg Meetings, Official Website
The inherent contradiction in this mission statement is glaringly obvious. These are the very same people who put in place and control the governments and programs that they're meeting in private to "discuss." Don't they discuss these things before and during their masquerade of governance?
The group's official meeting website says, "What is unique about Bilderberg as a forum is the privacy of the meetings, which has no purpose other than to allow participants to speak their minds openly and freely."
When the world's ultra-rich and powerful meet to address major sociopolitical problems in a forum based on privacy, it's time to take a closer look.
Wisconsin's Recall Election
by Stephen Lendman
Winter 2011 witnessed an epic worker rights battle. Wisconsin public workers challenged Republican Governor Scott Walker.
Discrimination Against Arab Communities in Israel and Palestine
by Stephen Lendman
An April joint Bimkom Planners for Planning Rights/Arab Center for Alternative Planning (ACAP) report titled "Outline Planning for Arab Localities in Israel" explains state-sponsored discriminatory injustice.
Graduation at Fordham: Worker Bees vs. Cowardly Drones
By Ray McGovern and Nick Mottern
We have reported on White House “Kill List” compiler and alumnus John Brennan’s second coming to Fordham for commencement inside Fordham’s Bronx campus http://warisacrime.org/content/priests-or-hench-men — (see embedded link “imaginative protests” on the line above the subhead, Bellying Up.) And several readers have expressed gratitude to learn that a few Justice-oriented graduates found inventive ways to protest this indignity at graduation on May 19.
Opposing Doctrines: Putin v. Obama
One leader supports peace and stability. The other thrives on violence and wages imperial wars.
One believes nation-state sovereignty is inviolable. The other endorses the divine right of intervention.
Russian Journalist Exposes Propaganda Lies about Houla Massacre
by Stephen Lendman
Going to war depends first on selling it. Gaining public support is vital. Previous articles discussed it. Walter Lippmann coined the phrase "manufacture of consent."
By John Grant
“No, Charlotte, I’m the jury now. I sentence you to death.”
The roar of the .45 shook the room. Charlotte staggered back a step.
“How c-could you?” she gasped.
“It was easy.”
- Mickey Spillane, I, The Jury
Risking Global War
by Stephen Lendman
Tyranny and permanent wars define Obama's agenda. Since taking office, he exceeded the worst of George Bush.
Much more ahead is coming. Ravaging humanity is policy. Foreign nations and America's homeland are targeted. Rule of law principles are ignored. Unchallenged dominance alone matters.
Baghdadi Mahmoudi Faces Torture and Death in Libya
by Stephen Lendman
Mahmoudi is a physician. He also served as Deputy Prime Minister before becoming Prime Minister and General Secretary of the General People's Congress of the Libyan Jamahiriya. He assumed that post in March 2006.