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Barbarism, civilization and modern politics: PTSD as a Political Football in a Hobbesian Age

By John Grant

 

If our wars were to make killers of all combat soldiers, rather than men who have killed, civilian life would be endangered for generations or, in fact, made impossible.

Total Recall: New poem by ThisCantBeHappening! resident poet Gary Lindorff

(Prefacing remarks: My dealer writes to thank me

for letting them fix the airbag on my Suby Outback.

Apparently I was driving my car for many years with

a defective airbag that was a potentially lethal weapon.

Supreme Hypocrisy in Pennsylvania: US High Court Opens Door to New Appeal by Mumia Abu-Jamal of His 1982 Conviction

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

One unintended consequence of the recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling in a death penalty case that rebuked actions of a Pennsylvania Supreme Court justice and prosecutors in Philadelphia for conflict of interest was to open a new avenue for activist-journalist Mumia Abu-Jamal to appeal his own 1982 murder conviction in a trial that was tainted by the same exact type of conflict of interest.

ISIS and U.S. Weaponry: At Home and Abroad

When someone commits mass murder in the United States and is tied, however significantly, to a foreign terrorist group, there remains a section of the U.S. population willing to recognize and point out that no ideology, fit of hatred, or mental derangement can do the same damage without high-tech weaponry that it does with it. Why does this understanding vanish into the ether of ignorance and apathy at the water's edge?

ISIS videos display U.S. guns, U.S. Humvees, U.S. weaponry of all sorts. The profits and political corruption that bring those weapons into existence are the same as those that litter the United States with guns. Shouldn't we be bothered by both?

The same politicians who claim they'd like to restrict U.S. gun sales have flooded the world markets with the weaponry of mass slaughter. President Obama's administration has approved more weapons sales abroad than any other administration since World War II. Over 60 percent of those weapons have been sold to the Middle East. Add to that total huge quantities of U.S. weapons in the hands of the United States or its proxies in the Middle East -- or formerly in their hands but seized by ISIS.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton waived restrictions at the State Department on selling weapons to Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Kuwait, United Arab Emirates, Oman, and Qatar, all states that had donated to the Clinton Foundation. Saudi Arabia had chipped in at least $10 million, and Boeing added another $900,000 as Secretary Clinton made it her mission to get Saudi Arabia the planes with which it would attack Yemen.

In the past five years, the United States has sold weapons to at least 96 countries. As of 2011 the United States accounted for 79% of the value of transfer agreements to ship weapons to governments in the Middle East, 79% also to poor nations around the world, and 77% of the value of total agreements to ship weapons to other countries, according to the Congressional Research Service. By 2014, those percentages had dropped a bit but remained over 50%.

In 2013, the big war profiteers spent $65 million lobbying Congress. There's a big headline when the National Rifle Association spends $3 million. We ask if black lives matter. In addition, do foreign lives matter?

Toddlers with guns kill more people in the United States than do foreign terrorists -- even adding in domestic terrorists somehow tied to foreign ideas. But we don't hate toddlers. We don't bomb toddlers and whoever's near them. We don't think of toddlers as inherently evil or backward or belonging to the wrong religion. We forgive them instantly, without struggle. It's not their fault the guns were left lying around.

But is it the fault of ISIS that Iraq was destroyed? That Libya was thrown into chaos? That the region was flooded with U.S.-made weapons? That future ISIS leaders were tortured in U.S. camps? That life was made into a nightmare? Maybe not, but it is their fault they murder people. They are adults. They know what they are doing.

True enough. But could they do it without the weapons?

On the domestic scene, we are able to recognize that other nations have conflict, hatred, and crime, but that -- in the absence of all the guns -- the crimes do less damage. Australia got rid of its guns following a killing less deadly than Orlando. Now a gun in Australia costs more than anyone would be likely to get out of an armed robbery. Now Australia has no mass killings, apart from its participation in U.S. wars.

On the foreign scene, can we recognize that regions armed to the teeth with U.S. weapons, wars with U.S. weapons on both sides, and CIA and Pentagon proxies fighting each other in Syria are not the inevitable result of backwardness in Arab culture, but rather the result of giving free rein to merchants of death?

Documents: Before Rightward Rebrand, an MSNBC 'Lean Forward' to Promote Fracking

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Cable TV network MSNBC has made headlines in recent days for apparently moving away from its "Lean Foward" progressive brand, catering instead to a more center-to-right-leaning crowd. 

"People might start accusing us of leaning too far to the right," the station says in a new advertisement featuring MSNBC's conservative personalities — an array of Republican identities such as Michael Steele, Steve Schmidt and Ben Ginsberg. 

NEWS FLASH!: With 5 Million Votes Still Uncounted in the Democratic Primary, Sanders Could Still Win California!

By Dave Lindorff

 

FLASH! The Los Angeles Times, actually a Hillary Clinton backer, reports that not 3.6 million votes, as reported on election night, but 8 million votes were actually cast in the California Democratic primary -- a turnout of 47%. According to the Times article, the Secretary of State of California, Alex Padilla, concedes that 2.5 million of those votes, mostly mail-in ballots from young people and hispanic voters, both backers of Sanders, have been counted, and another 2 million have yet to be counted by local county officials.

After Keystone XL: TransCanada Building North American Fracked Gas Pipeline Empire

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Though President Barack Obama and his State Department nixed the northern leg of TransCanada's Keystone XL tar sands pipeline in November, the Canadian pipeline company giant has continued the fight in a federal lawsuit in Houston,  claiming the Obama Administration does not have the authority to deny a presidential pipeline permit on the basis claimed that he did.

Emails: US Senator Turned Exxon Lobbyist Limits Access to Public University-Based Archives

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Emails and documents obtained from Oklahoma State University (OSU) under the state's open records law depict an arrangement in which former U.S. Sen. Don Nickles (R-OK) donated his U.S. Senate papers to OSU, a public university, but still maintains full control of the papers and who gets permission to view them. 

Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Fox in Hen House: Online Auctions For Public Lands Oil and Gas Bids May Be Industry-Owned, Run

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

If the recent past serves as prologue, then online leasing of oil and gas on U.S. federal lands may resemble the proverbial fox guarding the hen house, with one eBay-like company in particular standing to profiteer from the industry's proposed e-bidding scheme.

Image Credit: Willis Nowell | Flickr

Republican presidential candidate’s true colors: Trump’s Bashing of Hispanic Judge Defines Bigotry

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

When Donald Trump announced his bid for the Republican presidential nomination in June 2015 he unleashed a tirade against illegal immigrants from Mexico, libeling most of those immigrants as criminals and “rapists.”

America’s party-line corporate media: The Democratic Primary Race Has Been Called Before 15% of the Country Votes

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Reading the papers and listening to the radio about the Democratic primary race, which is reaching its climax tomorrow in California, New Jersey, Montana, New Mexico and South Dakota, I’m having a powerful sense of deja vu harking back to my years living and working as a journalist in China in the 1990s.

It’s happening right under our noses!: Let’s Stop Google from Gobbling Up Our Schools

By Jackie Smith and Alfredo Lopez

 

(The following article was co-written by Dr. Jackie Smith -- of the International Network of Scholar Activsts -- and TCBH member Alfredo Lopez. It is being published here and in other places.)

 

Key issue left unraised is secret financial deals: With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers

By Dave Lindorff

 

            When it comes to Hillary Clinton’s State Department email scandal, reporters -- and even her right-wing critics in the Republican Party -- are asking the wrong question.

 

Documents: IOGCC-Spawned Loophole Creating Frackquake Crisis Faces Federal Lawsuit

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

On May 4, several environmental organizations filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), calling for an end to the regulatory exemption it carved out in the late 1980s for the oil and gas industry with regards to how it handles industrial waste.


Photo Credit: United States Geological Survey

A lesson here for Sanders?: 72-Year-Old Fringe Left Candidate Wins Presidency in Austrian Run-Off Election

By Dave Lindorff

 

A 72-year-old college professor named Alexander van der Bellen, running for president as the candidate of the leftist Austrian Green Party, a fringe party that had never been considered a serious contender in post-war Austrian politics, just won a narrow victory over Norbert Hofer, a right-wing candidate of the neo-fascist Freedom Party who had been favored to win.

Big Oil Group Plots to Exclude Public from Public Lands Bidding, Calls for "eBay"-Style Auctions

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

At the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission (IOGCC)'s 2016 meeting in Denver, Colorado this week, a representative from a prominent oil and gas lobbying group advocated that auctions of federal lands should happen online "eBay"-style — a clear attempt to shut the public out of the bidding process for fossil fuel leases on public lands. 

Virus blinds public to health issues that really matter: Zika Hysteria Spreads Faster than Zika Itself

By Jess Guh, MD


Zika has been described as extraordinary in so many ways. But the only thing that’s really extraordinary about the whole thing is how incredibly dispassionate I am about it.

Corruption in the Time of Cholera

In 2004, the United States, which had previously occupied Haiti from 1915 to 1934, kidnapped the president of Haiti, overthrew his government, and sent in United Nations "peace keepers." In 2010, an outbreak of cholera hit Haiti for the first time ever. The disease had previously been unknown in the country.

The UN had sent in soldiers from Nepal where cholera had just broken out. It hadn't tested the soldiers for the disease. At the soldiers' camp in Haiti, a truck picked up their fecal waste on October 17, 2010, and drove it to a hilltop septic pit overlooking a river. The pit was already full and overflowing. The driver's boss told him to dump his load anywhere. So he dumped it into the river.

Downriver, people started dying of cholera. An outbreak would spread rapidly. Thousands (and still rising) would perish. The "international community," with its benevolent military takeovers, had literally shat on the health of the Haitian people.

Next it proceeded to make matters worse. The United Nations, international diplomats, hired scientists, the New York Times, National Public Radio, the Lancet, and the respectable humanitarian NGO complex in general spent years covering up and lying about what had happened.

Because the armed occupying army of "peace keepers" was widely resented as an armed occupying army, many were concerned, or professed to be concerned, that honestly stating what had begun the cholera outbreak would lead to an outbreak of violence. In fact, the refusal to state what had happened led to the lynching of dozens of practitioners of voodoo who were scapegoated. And false claims about what had caused the outbreak led to misdirected resources in the struggle to eliminate the disease -- and in fact to the false belief that the disease could not be eliminated as it supposedly lay lurking in the environment ready to emerge in any natural disaster.

Avoiding the blame it deserved, the United Nations was happy to blame Haiti and to suggest that poor countries lacking in modern services simply must deal with disease outbreaks eternally. Meanwhile, smaller, better targeted steps, at relatively limited cost, could have eliminated cholera from Haiti as this nasty, deadly disease has been eliminated from other places -- and those steps still could eliminate cholera from Haiti this year.

Ralph Frerichs' new book is called Deadly River: Cholera and Cover-Up in Post-Earthquake Haiti. The author cites a $2.2 billion ten-year plan that could eliminate cholera and improve water and sanitation. That's 0.00002% or so of U.S. military spending. Can it possibly be spared? Dare we cancel half a weapons system, tax a few corporations, or divert some of Hillary Clinton's speaking fees? Apparently not.

Frerichs' book is largely the story of French doctor Renaud Piarroux's efforts to uncover the truth of what happened in Haiti. It's a story of bureaucratic coverup and deception undone by science and journalism. It's a story of supposedly benevolent Western agencies and authorities declaring it unimportant how a disease outbreak began, in a manner that they never would have attempted in the United States or Europe. The New York Times actually denounced "the feverish urge to blame," even though finding the source of a disease is generally considered essential to halting its spread.  

Western NGOs proved better in this case and others at helping out during a crisis than at ending it. They began pushing the idea that Haiti would simply have to control cholera as well as it could from here to eternity, a claim that Piarroux had heard before in Comoros, Madagascar, Senegal, Ivory Coast, and Guinea. Even years later, NPR was airing a folksy liberal newsy-ish story on the views of a discredited scientist exonerating the UN of all blame for cholera in Haiti. And with years gone by, attention and available funding had moved on to other disasters around the globe.

Past cholera pandemics have often followed armies. The UN sends more armies to more places than anyone other than the United States. That has to stop. Not because the cholera contamination was intentional, not because a secret world government run by black helicopters is planning to destroy apple pie or Christianity, but because countries are better off without their governments overthrown, doctors are better assistance than soldiers, unaccountable bureaucracies often do more harm than good, and peace is not going to be found at the end of a thousand guns.

Here's Chelsea Clinton in early 2010 as Haiti dealt with an earthquake and had yet to be hit with cholera: "The incompetence is mind numbing. The UN people I encountered were frequently out of touch … anachronistic in their thinking at best and arrogant and incompetent at worst. There is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system.” But the focus of U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to her emails, was on public relations, specifically on countering all negative accounts of U.S. involvement in Haiti. She had just supported another coup in Honduras, and later that year U.S. diplomats would clamp down on efforts to honestly report what had brought cholera to Haitian shores.

If Haiti had the same vote at the United Nations that the United States does, this would not have happened. If democracy were a serious worldview rather than a fund-generating slogan, this would not have happened. The Catholic Church of all ancient bloated bureaucracies is considering dropping "just war" sophistry after 1,700 years. How many years will it be before the United Nations tries nonviolence, democracy, independence from the five war powers, and respect for human life?

New TCBH! poem by resident poet Gary Lindorff: 'Riding the elephant'

There is an elephant lying

flat out on the ground,

depressed, wasted.

His life is giving rides.

Why the best candidate can’t win the support of People of Color: Where the Bern is Fizzling

By Alfredo Lopez

 

In the recent New York primaries, Bernie Sanders experienced some very cold water thrown in his face. Not only did he lose, and soundly, but he was served a major lesson about one of the primary deficiencies in his campaign.

Documents: How IOGCC Created Loophole Ushering in Frackquakes and Allowing Methane Leakage

Cross-Posted from DeSmogBlog

Earthquakes caused by injection of shale oil and gas production wastes — and methane leakage from shale gas pipelines — have proliferated in recent years, with both issues well-studied in the scientific literature and grabbing headlines in newspapers nationwide.

Denying discrimination: Clintonian Political Calculus and the Culture of Hooey

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Hooey –- silly talk/nonsense –- frequently has slimy characteristics and slime is slippery.

Former President Bill Clinton recently slipped on some silly talk when trying to dance around a slime trail oozing from his presidency during the 1990s.

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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