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Interview with a GOP opponent of militarization: Police State Gears Up

By Dave Lindorff

(This article originally ran in WhoWhatWhy News)

If you’re a small-town police chief, or perhaps the chief of a university security department, the US Department of Defense has got a deal for you!

Thanks to the ending of the Iraq War, and the winding down of the war in Afghanistan, the Pentagon has 11,000 heavily armored vehicles that it has no use for.  Called MRAPs—Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected—they are designed to protect against AK-47s, rocket-propelled grenades and IEDs. And as pitchman Paul Richards used to say of the ’69 Pontiac Firebird, “They’re practically giving them away!”

Correction, they are giving them away.

All a local police department has to do to get itself an 18-ton MRAP—which originally cost taxpayers between $400,000-$700,000 complete with gun turret and bullet-proof windows—is send a few cops to pick it up and pay for the gas.

There are a few downsides: the things get only five miles to the gallon, can’t go over most bridges (or under them), and have a nasty habit of tipping over on rough terrain.

Pandering to the Fraternal Order of Police: Senator Calls Winning Constitutional Case on the Death Penalty ‘Undermining Justice

By Dave Lindorff

Pennsylvania Senator Republican Pat Toomey last week went before the whole US Senate to oppose the nomination by President Obama of Debo Adegbile, former head of the litigation department of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, to head the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. In his speech, Toomey tried to argue that Adegbile is unfit for the job because he supervised the Legal Defense Fund’s successful appeal in federal court of the death sentence of Philadelphia journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal -- an appeal that ended up vacating that sentence, and that was left standing by the US Supreme Court.

Toomey’s position -- that Adegbile had “undermined the justice system” by filing that appeal claiming that Abu-Jamal’s death sentence had been unconstitutional -- is ludicrous on its face. Given that the appeal was successful in federal court, and then upheld on appeal by a three-judge panel of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, and given that the US Supreme Court, asked to reverse that ruling by Philadelphia’s District Attorney and the Pennsylvania Attorney General, refused to hear the case, thereby affirming it -- to say that Adegbile had “undermined justice” is the same as saying that a Federal District Judge, an Appellate Court panel, and the Supreme Court all “undermined justice.”

That’s a pretty heavy indictment, even for a self-styled “Tea Party” senator!

But Pennsylvania’s junior senator didn’t stop there.

Ignoring injustice: Philly Black Officials Silent On Police Brutality

By Linn Washington, Jr.


Philadelphia -- Back in 1978, a respected newspaper columnist in in this city blasted local black elected officials for their failure to criticize police brutality – the scourge that ravaged blacks for decades, often with the sanction of white elected officials like then Philadelphia Mayor Frank Rizzo, a former city police commissioner.

A man of many convictions: The Shape-Shifting Secretary of State John Kerry

By Dave Lindorff

 

US Secretary of State John Kerry is a man of many convictions--many of them in open conflict with one another. 

Recall that back in 2004, while trying to unseat President George W. Bush, he famously told students at Marshall University who wanted to know his stand on the US invasion of Iraq, that he “actually did vote for” a bill funding the war “before I voted against it.”

New weekly ThisCantBeHappening! radio show Climate change: Washington and the Oil Companies Know but Won’t Act to Stop It

ThisCantBeHappening! has a new radio program of the same name. TCBH founder Dave Lindotff  will be hosting the show every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on theProgressive Radio Network.

It’s always darkest before the dawn: The Irrepressible and Irreplaceable Pete Seeger

By Dave Lindorff


I never really knew Pete Seeger, but he taught me how to play the banjo.

Climate Changes-- Washington Freezes (Part III of three part Climate Change series)

By Dave Lindorff


(This is Part III of a three-part series on climate change by Dave Lindorff that is running in WhoWhatWhy News)


The case for harm reduction: Philip Seymour Hoffman and Drug War Sanity

By John Grant


It was to be expected. A famous person’s death by heroin overdose becomes a catalyst for today’s equivalent of the lynch mob. Leading the pack, Bill O’Reilly immediately and aggressively called for heads to roll. Soon, four people were arrested in Manhattan for allegedly selling the drugs to the Academy Award winning actor.

Justice gets the shaft when it involves Mumia: Sen. Toomey and Philly DA Williams Slam Obama Rights Nominee for Seeking Justice

The latest from ThisCantBeHappening!:

 

Justice gets the shaft when it involves Mumia:

Sen. Toomey and Philly DA Williams Slam Obama Rights Nominee for Seeking Justice


By Dave Lindorff


Cop literally a ‘ball-buster’: Sexual Assault and Other Philadelphia Police Scandals

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

Philadelphia -- A January 7, 2014 police assault on Darrin Manning that resulted in the 16-year-old honor student's needing emergency surgery to repair a ruptured testicle, is outrageous but hardly unusual in this city.

Cop literally a ‘ball-buster’: Sexual Assault and Other Philadelphia Police Scandals

By Linn Washington Jr.

 

Philadelphia -- A January 7, 2014 police assault on Darrin Manning that resulted in the 16-year-old honor student's needing emergency surgery to repair a ruptured testicle, is outrageous but hardly unusual in this city.

Public Vengeance as a Career Tool: "American Hustle" and Prosecutorial Politics

By John Grant

“In this town, money talks and bullshit walks.”

                        -PA Rep. Ozzie Myers on his Abscam tape

Political sports scorekeeper Chris Matthews recently predicted American Hustle would become a classic film of American politics of the order of Citizen Kane. I’d add All the King’s Men and All the President’s Men.

What’s so wonderful about American Hustle is that it’s very serious at the same time it has great fun with a contemporary political system dominated by the archetype of the aggressive prosecutor. While a servant of the state, he or she ruthlessly advances a career by bringing down others. Dishonesty and the entrapping scam are major tools of the trade.

With Chris Christie, the whole smelly system has narratively come full circle. An aggressive federal prosecutor with eyes on the White House is suddenly the hunted prey of other hungry prosecutors looking for a career boost. The attorney credited with getting the goods to put away Governor Blagojevic in Illinois has been hired to go for Christie.

While American Hustle may be based on the late seventies Abscam scandal, it’s more art than journalism or history. “Some of this actually happened,” we’re told on screen up front. Like all good fiction based on reality, the art is in finding a deeper truth...

The State of the "Union" from the Outside

by Debra Sweet          Observing tonight's messages from the President and several Republicans providing what we are told is the "other" side, we ought to step back, look at this as the outsiders we are, and ask questions:

Insulting Workers, Coddling the Rich: Obama’s ‘Raise’ for Federal Workers is a Bad Joke

By Dave Lindorff


President Obama, five years late, decried the terrible income gap in the US, which has worsened during his years in the White House, and offered the puny “fix” of raising the minimum wage paid to employees working on federal projects from its current $7.25 to $10.10 per hour. This executive order, which could have been done when he took office in the depths of the Great Recession back in 2009 would be not immediate but would be phased in over the next three years.


Snowden nominated – Can the Nobel Peace Prize committee reverse its course?

by R. Teichmann

The Nobel Peace Prize. The politicians argue that  “Snowden had contributed to global security by revealing “the nature and technological prowess of modern surveillance.” 

I wonder if they have not read what Alfred Nobel’s intent was. According to his will the price should be awarded 

to those who have “done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.

I am not going to judge the actions of Edward Snowden here, I am just asking if his disclosures have anything to do with the above criteria. In my opinion nothing.

Over time we have witnessed ”strange” decisions by the politicians that determine who will be honoured with this prestigeous award. They have gone so far as to award this prize to

Theodore Roosevelt in 1906. A man who was deeply intertwined with the military. He effectively was running the US Department of the Navy, then resigned and formed the Rough Riders, a volunteer cavalry regiment that fought in Cuba. He later sent the Great White Fleet on a world tour to demonstrate American power. His motto was “Speak softly and carry a big stick“. Though he is credited with negotiating an end to the Russo-Japanese War he was hardly a person who opposed war and violence in all its forms and worked for peace and non-violence. His actions and life spoke a different language.

*****

Woodrow Wilson in 1919. A man, who in April 1917, asked Congress to declare war in order to make “the world safe for democracy.” He entered the US into the war and set up the War Industries Board, effectively laying the groundwork of what later became known as the “Military Industrial Complex”. Wilson also suppressed anti-war movements with the Espionage Act of 1917  (the same act that is now used by the Obama administration on its crackdown on dissenters) and the Sedition Act of 1918.  Wilson was awarded the 1919 Nobel Peace Prize for his sponsorship of the League of Nations. Certainly he was not a man who was in favour of peaceful solutions.

 *****

Henry Kissinger in 1973. Not a man of non-violence at all. In an article published in Sept. 2013 in the Independent it is summed up as follows:

“Christopher Hitchens, in 2001, claimed to have amassed sufficient evidence to secure prosecutions for “war crimes, for crimes against humanity, and for offences against common or customary or international law, including conspiracy to commit murder, kidnap, and torture” and “The charge sheet is extremely long, even considering the eight eventful years Kissinger was running US foreign policy: he and the CIA helped orchestrate the coup against the elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende, and his murder in 1973; he and Nixon invaded neutral Cambodia in 1970; they indiscriminately bombed civilians in that long war; connived in the Indonesians’ brutal repression in East Timor; left the Kurds to their fate at the hands of Saddam as early as 1972; the list goes on. “War criminal” and Nobel Peace Prize holder; the unique genius of Henry Kissinger.”

He signed a peace treaty when the war in Vietnam was lost and won the prize for it. His counterpart Le Duc Tho declined the prize saying: “Peace has not yet really been established in South Vietnam. In these circumstances it is impossible for me to accept the 1973 Nobel Prize for Peace which the committee has bestowed on me.”

*****

- Barack Obama in 2009. “for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples.”  The results of his “extrordinary efforts were”:
- Intensification of the war in Afghanistan
- The destruction of Lybia through an unprovoked attack
- Use of drones that kill innocent men, women and children in many countries
- Waging a war against Syria by proxy
- Engaging in new wars in Africa
- Threatening Iran with “all Options on the table” , ie. nuclear included
and so on.

*****

The European Union in 2012 “for [having] over six decades contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe.” The committee obviously did not know that the EU carried out an unprovoked attack on a sovereign state (Jugoslovia). Peace Activist David Swanson writes:

“Europe is not a person.  It has not during the past year — which is the requirement — or even during the past several decades done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations.  Ask Libya.  Ask Syria.  Check with Afghanistan.  See what Iraq thinks.  Far from doing the best work to abolish or reduce standing armies, Europe has joined with the United States in developing an armed global force aggressively imposing its will on the world.”

And obviously the committee was also not aware that the EU has 1,5 Million soldiers under arms and spends €192.5 billion (2011) on the Miltary.

Hardly an organisation in favour of peace and non-violence.

*****

 Conclusion

These are just a few examples of , to put it mildly, “questionable” decisions by the Norwegian committee. If Edward Snowden becomes the next laureate he will add to a list of persons and organisations that have nothing to do with what Alfred Nobel envisaged. By no means do I want to take away from what Edward Snowden did but the question here is if this fits Alfred Nobel’s will. The fitting acknowledgement of what Edward Snowden has done for (not only) the American public would be to award him the Congressional Medal of Honour. There are always nominations for persons who would really deserve this prize like  Chelsea (ex Bradley) Manning, who is now serving a 35 year sentence for her courage to expose the horrors of war to the world and to highlight the effects it has on victims as well as perpetrators of violence. For this year’s prize  Mother Agnes Mariam has also been nominated. She has tiredlessly worked for peace amidst the chaos in Syria, for which some of the recent recipients have to share responsibility. If the prize would be awarded to Snowden that would certainly be an improvement but it would still not be in line with Nobel’s vision to abolish war. Let us see if the politicians forming the committee can rescue the peace prize from itself by selecting a deserving human being as per Nobel’s will.

About the author:
R. Teichmann is an activist living in West Cork / Ireland and an editor with news-beacon-ireland . He also blogs on War is a Crime.

To See Climate Change in Florida, Check Out Miami Beach’s Storm Sewers

By Dave Lindorff


Miami Beach – Len Berry was relaxing with colleagues on a hotel patio here one evening last October when one of them shouted, “Look! It’s happening!”  Peering over the railing, the group could see water pushing up onto the street below from storm sewer drains – something that thanks to sea level rise has been happening with increasing frequency in this low-lying resort city. Berry, director of Florida Atlantic University’s Center for Environmental Studies, says he and the others were in town to attend a conference on climate change when they got this first-hand view of the crisis.

Republicans Recycle Excuses: Christie's Defense Ties Bridgegate to Racial Profiling

By Linn Washington


New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s Bridgegate defense of being misled by staff members resembles a defense advanced in 1999 by another once top Republican NJ official to distance himself from a his role in a contentious 1990s-era scandal that roiled the Garden State: racial profiling by NJ state troopers that targeted minorities for illegal enforcement.

Same criminal spying but with a White House blessing: Obama in NSA Speech Says Nothing Will Change

By Alfredo Lopez


This past week, the Federal government threw a one-two punch that will effectively destroy the Internet as we know it. Demonstrating, once again, his talent for obfuscation and misdirection, President Obama made a speech about reforming the NSA and controlling surveillance that actually officially recognized, sanctioned and even expanded the NSA's domestic spying and cyber-warfare.

Short-term profits trump survival: Washington and the Oil Industry Know the Truth about Climate Change

By Dave Lindorff


Climate skeptics in Congress, and oil and coal industry lobbyists like the American Petroleum Institute and the American Coal Council may be preventing any significant action in the US on reducing this country’s emissions of carbon into the atmosphere, but at the Pentagon, and in the executive suites of the oil industry giants, there is no doubt about the reality of climate change.


Poem: A party for The American People

This poem is based on two assumptions:

1) A party is good for the American People.

2) There actually are “American People”.

So, let’s have a party and invite the American People!

Let’s have a theme.

We’ll get everything we need from the party store!

Addicted to the fruit of a poisoned tree: Thanks to George Bush, Talks with Iran Make Sense

By John Grant


US military history from Vietnam to Iraq and Afghanistan is too often a combination of destructive stumbling around followed by an effort to sustain and project forward the notion of US power and exceptionalism. To forge another narrative is very difficult.

Gangsters, warriors, thugs TAO is the NSA's Band of Technology Criminals

By Alfredo Lopez


On this website, we've speculated that one outcome of the flood of NSA-centered revelations has been to desensitize U.S. citizens and diminish outrage at what is actually revealed. We are becoming conditioned to the horror story that is the National Security Administration.

The US Department of Injustice: Harsh Prosecution for the Little People and the Big Guys Skate

By Dave Lindorff


The US Department of “Justice” has a distinctly nuanced concept of that term, taking a tough, no-holds-barred stance when it comes to individuals -- especially little people without much power or influence -- and trying at all costs to avoid prosecution when it comes to the powerful, and to big corporations -- especially big financial corporations. That schizoid approach to prosecution is personified in the recent actions--and inaction--of the DOJ’s man in Manhattan, US Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara.


When Will They Ever Learn? The American People and Support for War

When it comes to war, the American public is remarkably fickle.

The responses of Americans to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars provide telling examples.  In 2003, according to opinion polls, 72 percent of Americans thought going to war in Iraq was the right decision.  By early 2013, support for that decision had declined to 41 percent.  Similarly, in October 2001, when U.S. military action began in Afghanistan, it was backed by 90 percent of the American public.  By December 2013, public approval of the Afghanistan war had dropped to only 17 percent.

In fact, this collapse of public support for once-popular wars is a long-term phenomenon.  Although World War I preceded public opinion polling, observers reported considerable enthusiasm for U.S. entry into that conflict in April 1917.  But, after the war, the enthusiasm melted away.  In 1937, when pollsters asked Americans whether the United States should participate in another war like the World War, 95 percent of the respondents said “No.” 

And so it went.  When President Truman dispatched U.S. troops to Korea in June 1950, 78 percent of Americans polled expressed their approval.  By February 1952, according to polls, 50 percent of Americans believed that U.S. entry into the Korean War had been a mistake.  The same phenomenon occurred in connection with the Vietnam War.  In August 1965, when Americans were asked if the U.S. government had made “a mistake in sending troops to fight in Vietnam,” 61 percent of them said “No.”  But by August 1968, support for the war had fallen to 35 percent, and by May 1971 it had dropped to 28 percent.

Of all America’s wars over the past century, only World War II has retained mass public approval.  And this was a very unusual war – one involving a devastating military attack upon American soil, fiendish foes determined to conquer and enslave the world, and a clear-cut, total victory.

In almost all cases, though, Americans turned against wars they once supported.  How should one explain this pattern of disillusionment?

Time to invite Occupy back to Wall Street: Is New York’s New Mayor De Blasio Really a Lefty or Just Another Progressive Poseur?

By Dave Lindorff


There is no question but that New York’s new mayor, Bill De Blasio, owes his landslide victory in the November election to the Occupy Movement.


Art, Ideas and the Profit Motive: Capitalist Executives Evicerate a Working Class Film

By John Grant

 

The issue of economic equity is appearing on the national agenda. We’re suddenly hearing lots of talk about raising the minimum wage and other reforms to break the cycle of social Darwinism and provide working people at least a livable wage for their labor.

One cheer for the Times (three for the Guardian): Nation’s Major Paper Says Snowden’s a Hero, but Won’t Say Obama’s a Criminal

By Dave Lindorff


Let’s start here by conceding that today’s New York Times editorial saying that President Obama should “find a way to end (Edward) Snowden’s vilification and give him an incentive to return home” was pretty remarkable.

It shouldn’t be, though.

Optimistic Thought for the New Year: The Looming Battle for Real Social Security Can Spawn a New Progressive Movement

By Dave Lindorff


I don’t care if you are 75 and retired, 61 and just about to reach the age when you become eligible for Social Security, 50 and looking out 15 or 20 years to the time when you’ll need to retire, or 25 with grandparents collecting retirement benefits and wondering what will be there when you get old. Whatever your age, don’t let anyone tell you Social Security is in trouble, or that it “won’t be around” when you need it.


The Eleventh Hour – Decision Time

by R. Teichmann


  


It is a well-known fact in biology that pressures of an existential nature on a species result in two possible outcomes. The first outcome is that the species evolves. It adapts by way of biological evolution to the new conditions and survives. The second is that the species does not evolve and thus perishes. This also is the case if it evolves but the time frame is too short to complete the process. Humanity and the web of life are currently facing existential threats in very many ways. Almost all of them are manmade.

New TCBH! Poem: Mister Fracker and America go for a walk one day

Fracker: It’s just over there on the other side of these trees.

America: What’s that noxious odor I smell upon the breeze?

 

F: That smell is giving away the surprise.

A: Oh, well, I’ll just close my eyes.

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