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The Good American

"The Good American: A Situation Report for Citizens" by B. Sidney Smith is well worth reading, and you can read it in an hour.  This is more the length of an article than a book, and you could read it in the same time in which you could read a lengthy review by me that wouldn't do it justice. 

Smith summarizes brilliantly the state of U.S. society; the role our government/military plays in the world; the ways our televisions and advertising and elections keep us ignorant, distracted, obedient, and pacified; the degree to which ours has become an unequal class society; the looming environmental catastrophe we face (or should face up to); and -- a little less brilliantly -- what we can do about it. 

I could quote many excellent paragraphs or quibble with the points I disagree on.  But fundamentally this is an outstanding pamphlet that should be spread around like Tom Paine's was.  I can't think of a better, more concise explanation for your average American of what sort of mess we're in.  It's a shame that Smith follows his analysis with a final chapter that walks right up to the edge of demanding creative nonviolent activism and then tells the reader -- exactly as would Obama or Romney: "Now go vote."

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

New Book for Ages 6 to 10: Tube World

Tube World is the first children's book by David Swanson, author of several nonfiction adult books. The illustrations for Tube World are by Shane Burke.

Parents: Have your kids been tired in the morning?  Have you found wet bathing suits in their beds?  Do they know things about far-away places that you didn’t teach them and they didn’t learn in school?  Do children visiting your town from halfway around the world always seem to be friends with your kids, and to only be around during certain hours of the day?  You won’t believe the explanation, but your kids might grin and wink at each other if you read it to them.

Kids: Did you know the center of the Earth was hollow?  Do you know the words that can take you there, if you’re under the covers in your swimming suit and prepared for the trip?  Can you imagine traveling anywhere in the world where there’s a swimming pool — and being home again in time for breakfast?  If you haven’t been to Tube World yet, this book will tell you the secrets you need to know.  And it will tell you about some children who discovered Tube World and used it to make the whole world a better place.

Buy the PDF, EPUB (iPad, Nook, etc.), or MOBI (Kindle) from Ebookit.

The paperback has been published in two versions, one with slightly better color, slightly better paper, and a dramatically higher price.

Buy the standard paperback from Amazon,

(If you order from Amazon it will ship right away even if Amazon says it won't ship for weeks; it is print-on-demand.)

Buy the premium paperback from Amazon,

Your local independent bookstore can order the book through Ingram.

Anyone can order the book in bulk at the lowest possible price right here.

Buy PDF, Audio, EPUB, or Kindle for $8 right here:

http://davidswanson.org/tubeworld

Advance Praise for Tube World:

“This book will make you laugh till water comes out your ears!”--Wesley

“This story is super flibba garibbidy schmibbadie libbidie awesome, mostly!”--Travis

“The best part is we saved 2,000 islands and pretty much the whole world in our swimming suits!”--Hallie

About Shane Burke:
Shane Burke lives in Denver Colorado and has been drawing and painting since he could hold a pencil. He took private art lessons when he was young and began winning awards and contests by the age of seven. His first big commission came at age nine when he created artwork for a billboard near his home town of Tracy California. His greatest influences came from his grandfather and elementary school teachers. He loved watching his grandfather paint landscapes and wanted to be just like him. Shane is a creative day dreamer and at complete peace when putting ink to paper.  You can see more of Shane's work at www.beezink.com

Ralph Nader's 6 favorite books

The former presidential candidate and consumer advocate devours books on history and politics
The Week

Six-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is the author of a new book, The Seventeen Solutions, about mending America's social and economic bruises.

Six-time presidential candidate Ralph Nader is the author of a new book, The Seventeen Solutions, about mending America's social and economic bruises.

Paradise Lost, Paradise Regained by Arthur D. Robbins (Acropolis, $35). This is the sleeper book of 2012. Engaging, historical, eye-opening, agitating, and imaginative, it challenges us all to be included in "the true meaning of democracy" — shorn of myths and false history. 

My 70 Years in the Labor Movement by Harry Kelber (Labor Educator Press, $25). Kelber is 98 years young and still this nation's most ardent champion of democratically run labor unions, a hair shirt to the AFL-CIO. His account of labor struggles in modern American history features stories that shock and inspire. 

Government Is Good by Douglas J. Amy (Dog Ear, $20). Amy, who teaches at Mount Holyoke College, tells the compelling story of what government can be like at its best and what government can't be when anti-government propaganda campaigns take hold. He's the creator of the website GovernmentIsGood.com. 

When the World Outlawed War by David Swanson (self-published, $15). Did you know that in the 1920s war was outlawed by the Kellogg-Briand Pact, which is still on the books? It was championed by Frank Kellogg, Calvin Coolidge's secretary of state, who received a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts. Read Swanson's book and you'll be astounded and shamed by the peaceful vigor of some of our forebears. 

Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion edited by Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank (AK Press, $17). This collection of essays comes from the political Left, and its critiques are more accurate than what the Romneyites are hurling at the president. Hopeless indirectly asks, whatever happened to liberals/progressives as a demanding political force?

Billionaires & Ballot Bandits by Greg Palast (Seven Stories, $15). Amazing are the ways some people have to steal votes, block voters, cover up the tracks. Even as the Electoral College allows a few states to swing the results in our presidential elections, these travesties go uninvestigated and unprosecuted. It's as if they are just games the two parties play against one another. Read this and be alert.

 Consumer advocate Ralph Nader has six times been a candidate for president. His new book, The Seventeen Solutions, lays out his prescription for curing America's social and economic ills.

Drone Opposition Breaks Through the Corporate Media Ceiling

Americans ignore 'great risks,' travel to Pakistan to protest US drone strikes
http://worldnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/10/05/14241712-americans-ignore-great-risks-travel-to-pakistan-to-protest-us-drone-strikes
NBC News

American activists in Pakistan to protest U.S. drone strikes
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/05/world/asia/pakistan-us-drone-protest/index.html
CNN

CODEPINK to Protest Drones in Pakistan
http://www.usnews.com/news/world/articles/2012/10/05/americans-in-pakistan-to-protest-us-drone-strikes
US News

American protestors join Pakistan protest against drone attacks to 'apologise on behalf of those with a conscience'
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2213409/Code-Pink-campaign-U-S-drone-attacks-Pakistan-Imran-Khan-leads-peace-march.html
The Daily Mail Online

Imran Khan braves march into Pakistan's Taliban heartland
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/asia/imran-khan-braves-march-into-pakistans-taliban-heartland-8198400.html
The Independent

The folly of drone attacks and U.S. strategy
http://www.cnn.com/2012/10/04/opinion/pakistan-drone-attacks-akbar/index.html
CNN

US Peace Activists Challenge Ambassador in Pakistan About Drones
http://www.commondreams.org/video/2012/10/05
Common Dreams

Delegation of American Activists Confronts US Drone Strike Policy in Pakistan
http://dissenter.firedoglake.com/2012/10/04/delegation-of-american-activists-confronts-us-drone-strike-policy-in-pakistan/
FireDogLake

Americans Press U.S. Ambassador for End to Drone Strikes in Pakistan, and the Ambassador Responds
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/americans-press-us-ambass_b_1941919.html
The Huffington Post

Power of Pink: women hungry for drone protest
http://www.smh.com.au/world/power-of-pink-women-hungry-for-drone-protest-20121005-274lm.html
The Sydney Morning Herald

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

Assange Labeled an 'Enemy' of the US in Secret Pentagon Documents

 

By Dave Lindorff


An investigative arm of the Pentagon has termed Wikileaks founder and editor-in-chief Julian Assange, currently holed up and claiming asylum in the Ecuadoran Embassy in London for fear he will be deported to Sweden and thence to the US, and his organization, both “enemies” of the United States.

An Urgent Call for RTTV to schedule alternative Third-Party Presidential Debates!

 

By Dave Lindorff


There is a simple answer to the refusal of the Two Party-Controlled Presidential Debate Commission's refusal to include third party candidates in its three debates: An alternative televised debate that would include the third party candidates, and that would air right after the corrupt and largely meaningless debate between Obama and Romney ends.

How Hawkish Are Americans?

By Lawrence S. Wittner

Dr. Lawrence S. Wittner (http://lawrenceswittner.com) is Professor of History emeritus at SUNY/Albany. His latest book is "Working for Peace and Justice: Memoirs of an Activist Intellectual” (University of Tennessee Press).


U.S. Army gunner during a mission in Afghanistan. Credit: Flickr/Zoriah.

In the midst of a nationwide election campaign in which many politicians trumpet their support for the buildup and employment of U.S. military power around the world, the American public’s disagreement with such measures is quite remarkable. Indeed, many signs point to the fact that most Americans want to avoid new wars, reduce military spending, and support international cooperation.

The latest evidence along these lines is a nationwide opinion survey just released as a report (Foreign Policy in the New Millennium) by the highly-respected Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Conducted in late May and early June 2012, the survey resulted in some striking findings.

One is that most Americans are quite disillusioned with the Iraq and Afghanistan wars of the past decade. Asked about these conflicts, 67 percent of respondents said they had not been worth fighting. Indeed, 69 percent said that, despite the war in Afghanistan, the United States was no safer from terrorism.

Israel is not Calling the Shots in this US Election

 

By Dave Lindorff


Netanyahu blinked.


That’s the takeaway from the goofy address by the right-wing, Cheltenham,PA-raised, MIT-educated Israeli prime minister to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday.

Attacking American Sovereign Soil Diminishes the Rights of Religion

 


 


by Walter Brasch


 


The terrorists who attacked the American embassy in Cairo, Egypt, and the consulate in Benghazi, Libya, claimed the attacks were retaliation for the publication on You Tube of an anti-Muslim film. That YouTube video was a 14-minute trailer for a one-hour film, “Innocence of Muslims,” that was not only a vicious bigoted attack against Islam but also of no artistic merit.  


 One of the extremist political parties in Egypt plucked the trailer from obscurity and used it as part of a newscast, inflaming the people of Egypt, who mounted a demonstration against the U.S. embassy. Within a week, the trailer had more than 10 million hits on YouTube.

The Birthday of Occupy

 

By Charles M. Young


Is there anything less threatening than a morbidly obese cop on motor scooter?


A Sea Change in US-Israeli Relations?

 

By Dave Lindorff

 

The situation in the Middle East has reached a dangerous point, to be sure, but there are also signs that a sea change may be taking place here in the US which could herald a whole new relationship between the US, Israel and the rest of the Arab and Islamic world.


The Military Spending Cut Scare

The fearmongering is on.  Here's a typical article, this one from the only daily newspaper in my hometown:

"Defense spending could face large loss from federal cuts

"Charlottesville and Albemarle County could see a potential loss of $46.5 million in defense-related spending if federally mandated cuts, which are slated to start next year, come to fruition."

There are several ways in which this is misleading.  First, "defense" here means military, whether or not defensive.  Second, "cuts" in Washington-talk includes reductions in a budget from one year to the next, OR reductions from a desired dream-budget to a less-desired budget, even one that is an increase over last year's.  For the past 13 years, military spending has grown to levels not seen since World War II. It's over half of federal discretionary spending, and as much as the rest of the world combined.  The Pentagon's budget grew each year George W. Bush was president and the first three years that Barack Obama was president.  It is being cut by 2.6% this year, not the 9% used to calculate a portion of that $46.5 million figure.  If the mandated cuts mentioned above go through, the Pentagon will still be spending next year more than it did in 2006 at the height of the war on Iraq.

In addition, military contractors have been bringing in more federal dollars while cutting jobs.  They employed fewer people in 2011 with bigger contracts than in 2006 with smaller ones.  So the logic of bigger contracts = more jobs is essentially a bucket of hope and change.

And the Pentagon's base budget is less than half of total military spending. It's necessary to add in war spending (over $80 billion nationally this year), nuclear weapons spending through the Department of Energy, military operations through the State Department, USAID, and the CIA, the Department of Homeland Security, etc., to get the real total. The Pentagon also has $83 billion in unobligated balances it can draw on.

The war industries in the United States are also by no means limited to the U.S. government.  U.S. weapons makers brought in $66.3 billion last year from foreign governments.  Many of those governments, like our own, are engaged in horrendous human rights abuses, but as long as we're being sociopathic about job creation, there's no reason to leave this out.

The article continues:

"The figures - compiled by the Center for Security Policy and the Coalition for the Common Defense, conservative-leaning Washington, D.C.-based think tanks - are based on publicly available information on Department of Defense contracts compiled and made available online through the Federal Procurement Data System website.

"The coalition describes itself as a group of individuals and local and national organizations 'committed to the Constitutional imperative to provide for the common defense and returning the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing its national security.'"

Never mind that the Constitution was written to include the creation of armies in times of war, not the permanent maintenance of a military industrial complex as a jobs program.  The above is how the two groups pushing the "news" in this article describe themselves.  How would a journalist describe them?  Well, as long as they're promoting military spending, it seems most relevant and significant to describe the ways in which they benefit from that spending.

The Center for Security Policy has a board of advisors packed with weapons makers executives and lobbyists from such disinterested parties as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, TRW, Raytheon, Ball Aerospace & Technologies, and Hewlett-Packard.  The Coalition for the Common Defense has been maneuvering the anti-spending Tea Party behind massive military spending. Hence the Constitution-talk.  But the "Coalition" isn't run by Constitutional scholars.  It's dominated by weapons company lobbyists, including the Aerospace Industry Association, which represents Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Honeywell, L-3 Communications, and other military industry corporations.  The Aerospace Industry Association spends over $2 million a year lobbying our government in Washignton.  Much of that money ends up being spent on luxurious lobbyist lifestyles in the great Commonwealth of Virginia.  Never forget the danger of the loss of that source of job creation should Congress simply and unquestioningly take direction from the weapons makers.

The article goes on:

"The data is reported by fiscal year and does not include grants or loans.

"From 2000-2011, more than 14,000 Virginia businesses provided defense-related goods and services, according to a state level report prepared by for Common Defense.

"Based on fiscal year 2011 defense contract date, the estimated reduction in Albemarle County in 2013 would be $43.25 million; in the city, the reduction would be an estimated $3.25 million.

"Earlier this year, defense budgets were cut by about $487 billion, an average of a 9 percent cut over a decade. In addition, the reports reflect the impact of sequestration, a 2011 mandate for about $500 billion more in defense spending reductions from 2013-2021, which averages to about an overall 18 percent cut in defense spending."

Here it's worth pausing to note that the $487 billion figure has been multiplied by 10.  It's a figure "over a decade."  Divided by 10 it would be $48.7 billion "over a year."  Or, it could be multiplied by 100 to give us $4,870 billion "over a century."  The reasons to talk about the decade are two.  First, it sounds bigger that way.  Second, by loading the later years heavily, politicians can claim to be making big cuts while actually passing those cuts on to future politicians who may not make them.  While all the news articles deal with cuts "over a decade," Congress actually only passes budgets for a year at a time.

"Published earlier this year, the reports indicate the Northern Virginia and Hampton Roads regions would see the most severe losses if the cuts are fully implemented, while the state overall could lose $7.24 billion in earnings and more than 122,000 jobs.

“'There’s no question that Virginia will be the most impacted,' Christine Brim, chief operating officer of the Center for Security Policy told The Daily Progress. 'Virginia has the largest amount of defense spending. This is, without a doubt, the state that is the most impacted.'

"Furthermore, Brim said the effects go beyond just the financial to the core of Virginia’s identity, history and culture as a state important to America’s defense, character traits that still hold true today."

Here's Democratic Virginia Senate candidate Tim Kaine claiming that one in three Virginians depends directly on military spending.  These claims are almost certainly exaggerated. They are for Albemarle County.  The county's website says: "The economy of Albemarle County is vital and growing. The predominant economic sectors are services, manufacturing, education, retail, tourism, trade,  care & social assistance, technical & professional services and agriculture. The County of Albemarle's labor force is roughly 53,000 and its unemployment rate of 2.6% is consistently lower than the state and national averages." 

"However, Jeff Caldwell, a spokesman for Gov. Bob McDonnell, said the state does not yet have any estimates for the effect of sequestration in Virginia.

“'With so many variables involved, there is no firm number to delineate that impact on the commonwealth or any particular area,' Caldwell said by email.

"Rep. Robert Hurt, R-5th, called the looming cuts 'devastating' for his district, which encompasses most of the Charlottesville region.

“'The White House and the Senate must join with the House [of Representatives] in addressing this impending crisis so we can keep our military men and women adequately equipped, protect jobs across the 5th District and the Commonwealth, and reduce our national debt in a responsible manner,” Hurt said in a statement."

A few points missed in the above: First, refusing to cut military spending does the opposite of reducing the national debt.  Second, military spending is the least cost-efficient way to produce jobs.  It produces fewer jobs than spending on infrastructure, green energy, education, or even tax cuts for working people.  So, if the goal is to save money while producing jobs, military spending is exactly the place to cut.  Third, there is absolutely no evidence that "adequate equipment" is what's on the chopping block here.  Hurt makes it sound like putting the U.S. navy on Jeju Island, South Korea, against the passionate will of the people there, is being done not to threaten China but as an act of philanthropy for U.S. sailors.

"House Minority Leader Eric Cantor, whose 7th District encompasses portions of the Charlottesville region, issued an even more sharply worded statement on his website, calling the planned cuts a 'dangerous threat' and urging President Obama and Senate Democrats 'to take serious action to prevent these arbitrary, devastating cuts from taking place.'"

Did he offer any evidence for those sharp words?

"While Brim acknowledged the need and desire to cut federal spending, she said gutting the defense budget would derail America’s recovery from the recession.

"That’s because conflict would interrupt trade and commerce and 'there would be nothing more costly than having our trade routes disrupted,' she said."

Now this is a new one.  Unless we continue to borrow money from China with which to build up our military presence all over the globe, including in every location strategically helpful in cutting off China's trade routes, our trade routes will be disrupted.  What trade routes?!  Can she name one?  Conflict, indeed, dirupts peaceful activity.  But conflict comes from war spending.  War spending and war preparation spending does not reduce conflict.

"Local leaders, however, were more measured in their assessment of the effect of the cuts on the local economy.

“'While our area would be affected by any change in federal spending, the overall impact would be minimal given that defense spending constitutes a small percentage of our overall economy,' Chris Engel, Charlottesville’s economic development director said by email.

"Albemarle County spokeswoman Lee Catlin said recent reaffirmations of the county’s AAA bond rating in spite of potential defense-related reductions is an indicator of confidence and stability in the local economy.

“'However, we are home to several major federal installations and associated defense contractors who are valued and important partners in our economy, so we are concerned about funding uncertainty,' Catlin said by email.

"And if the spending cuts do come to pass, Engel expressed confidence that the region’s economy would persevere. 'I think our business community has proven itself to be very adaptable in the past and this could be another instance where that trait will be needed,' Engel said."

If these last paragraphs had come first, this would not have been a bad article at all.

Harvey Pekar, Graphic Art and Israeli State Policy

 

By John Grant


A review of:
NOT THE ISRAEL MY PARENTS PROMISED ME
By Harvey Pekar and J.T. Waldman
With an epilogue by Joyce Brabner
Hill and Wang, 2012
$24.95. 
$14.67 on Amazon
 

FBI Foils Own Plot Yet Again

NY Times:

An 18-year-old suburban Chicago man, who the authorities say was enamored with Osama bin Laden and intent on killing Americans, has been arrested after attempting to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Chicago bar, officials said Saturday.

There was never any danger that the suspect, Adel Daoud, would actually detonate a bomb. The plot, which ended with Mr. Daoud’s arrest on Friday, was proposed by undercover F.B.I. agents posing as extremists, according to a statement released by the United States attorney’s office in the Northern District of Illinois.

New: ColdType Magazine & The Reader


Issue 68

86 Pages: Our biggest issue so far. Cover story is Eamonn McCann’s tale of the strange affair of Marian Price, a gravely-ill former IRA bomber, who has been detained by the British government. The story says much about the state’s denial of legal and human rights to its citizens. Other stories cover the suspicious and unresolved death in 1961 of UN chief Dag Hammarskjold in a plane crash, how Karl Rove and his billionaire chums are trying to fix the US election, why Julian Assange is right to avoid trial in Sweden, and much more. Contributors include Greg Palast, Edward S. Herman, Michael Parenti, John Pilger, George Monbiot and many others.

PLUS: Our second freebie this month is a 66-page e-book, The Terrorist's Brother, in which investigative reporter Jason Leopold tells the amazing tale of the FBI and the US-based brother of Al Qaeda terrorist, Abu Zubaidah.Tony Sutton, Editor

Click here or on image above to download ColdType magazine

Click here or on image above to download The Terrorist's Brother e-book

Writing Down Rants

In an age when the "conservative" political party cracks jokes about the destruction of the only planet we have to live on, and the other party -- which actually holds that 90% of governing power that now resides in the White House -- gets a free pass on its record of destroying that planet because the other party cracks jokes about it, cool dispassionate political science textbookese is out of place.  I'll care what Rational Man would do under each of the various systems of oppression when you find me somebody rational.  And then I'll just ask him or her what they are doing, so you won't have to tell me.

Media Scoundrels Promote Permanent Wars

 

Media Scoundrels Promote Permanent Wars

 

by Stephen Lendman

 

Real journalists report issues responsibly. Scoundrels operate by different rules. They play lead US imperial roles. Without them, pretexts for war wouldn't matter. Selling them depends on widespread dissemination. Messages not heard don't exist. 

 

Iran's Call for Nuclear Abolition by 2025 is Unreported by New York Times

By Alice Slater

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), formed in 1961 during the Cold War, is a group of 120 states and 17 observer states not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc.  The NAM held its opening 2012 session yesterday under the new chairmanship of Iran, which succeeded Egypt as the Chair.

Significantly, an Associated Press story in the Washington Post headlined, “Iran opens nonaligned summit with calls for nuclear arms ban”, reported that “Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi opened the gathering by noting commitment to a previous goal from the nonaligned group, known as NAM, to remove the world’s nuclear arsenals within 13 years.  ‘We believe that the timetable for ultimate removal of nuclear weapons by 2025, which was proposed by NAM, will only be realized if we follow it up decisively,’ he told delegates.”

Yet the New York Times, which has been beating the drums for war with Iran, just as it played a disgraceful role in the deceptive reporting during the lead-up to the Iraq War, never mentioned Iran’s proposal for nuclear abolition.  The Times carried the bland headline on its front page, “At Summit Meeting, Iran Has a Message for the World”, and then went on to state, “the message is clear.  As Iran plays host to the biggest international conference …it wants to tell its side of the long standoff with the Western powers which are increasingly convinced that Tehran is pursuing nuclear weapons”, without ever reporting Iran’s offer to support the NAM proposal for the abolition of nuclear weapons by 2025.

Surely the most sensible way to deal with Iran’s nascent nuclear weapons capacity is to call all the nations to the table to negotiate a treaty to ban the bomb.   That would mean abolishing the 20,000 nuclear bombs on the planet—in the US, UK, Russia, China, France, India, Pakistan, North Korea and Israel—with 19,000 of them in the US and Russia.   In order to get Russia and China to the table, the US will also have to give up its dreams of dominating the earth with missile “defenses” which, driven by corrupt military contractors and a corporate- owned Congress, are currently being planted and based in provocative rings around Russia and China.  

The ball is in the U.S. court to make good faith efforts for nuclear abolition.   That would be the only principled way to deal with fears of nuclear proliferation.   The US must start with a genuine offer for negotiations to finally ban the bomb in all countries, including a freeze on further missile development.  It should stop beating up on Iran and North Korea while it hypocritically continues to improve and expand the US arsenal, with tens of billions of dollars for new weapons laboratories and bomb delivery systems, and fails failing to speak out against the nuclear activities of other nations such as the enrichment of uranium in Japan and Brazil and the nuclear arsenal of Israel. 

Navy Vet Responds to Navy Week P.R.

By Mike Ferner

All this summer, the U.S. Navy has put on a multi-million dollar dog and pony show called “Navy Week” in 15 cities across the country.  Six stops on the Great Lakes featured guided missile frigates, coastal patrol boats and the historic brig “Niagara,” the ship Oliver Hazard Perry transferred to during the War of 1812’s Battle of Lake Erie (“Don’t Give Up the Ship”), when the “Lawrence” was blown out from under him.

At each stop, Navy officers and enlisted gave numerous press interviews, visited kids in hospitals, played musical concerts, helped build projects for the disabled and everywhere displayed banners with its motto, “America’s Navy: A Global Force for Good.”

A Shift in the Zeitgeist? Hitchhiker Finds Drivers Suddenly More Willing to Give a Lift

 

By Dave Lindorff


Sometimes a journalist just has to go with the story, even if it’s going all wrong. 


PEACE GRANNIES, MOMS AND VETS DISS NBC'S NEW REALITY RAH RAH WAR SHOW, "STARS EARN STRIPES"

By Joan Wile

 
In a remarkable display of unity, a number of New York peace groups joined together in just a few days to plan and carry out a protest at NBC headquarters in Manhattan regarding the debut of the new reality show, "Stars Earn Stripes."  The program is an abomination that touts war as a game, as a sort of sports competition, an entertainment where minor on-their-way-down celebrities along with military personnel compete with each other in carrying out simulated missions, using real ammunition in demonstrations of war maneuvers -- long-range machine guns blowing up mock human targets, for instance.
 
This demonstration of the deadly capacity of modern monster weapons is hosted by none other than retired Gen. Wesley Clark, an anti-war candidate for President of the U.S. in 2004.  One wonders how a person proclaiming to deplore war could get involved in such a display of seemingly almost psychotic militarism.  Among his so-called celebrity participants are Sara's husband, Todd Palin, celebrated for ... exactly what?
 
Among the 50-60 participants in the action were MFSO (Military Families Speak Out) mothers with sons deployed in Afghanistan; Veterans for Peace; Gray Panthers; Brooklyn for Peace; U.S. Labor Against the War (USLAW); OWS Anti-War Committee; World Can't Wait; PANYS (Peace Action New York State); and  peace grandmothers groups including the Granny Peace Brigade, Grandmothers Against the War, and the Raging Grannies, who sang their spirited anti-war songs throughout the demonstration. 
 
http://entertainment.inquirer.net/files/2012/08/Stars-Earn-Stripes.jpg
Raging Grannies singing at protest at NBC Aug. 13  photo by Brigitte AFP
 
U.S. Navy veteran Bill Gilson protest against NBC's U.S. Navy veteran Bill Gilson protesting NBC Aug. 13                    Photo by Charles Eckert, amNewYork
 
Reviews of the show were mostly negative.  In addition to being objectionable as gung ho war propaganda, it was a profoundly boring mishmash interspersed by seemingly a zillion commercials.  Said the New York Times: 

"The teams race to complete missions under conditions that include live ammunition and explosives, the claim being that this will give the stars a taste of what real soldiers experience. That is an absurd overstatement, of course, since no one is shooting back or planting roadside bombs intended for them."

"The show is treacly, exploitative military porn, according to the early reviews" said a writer for WIRED.

The protesters had with them a petition launched by Roots Action, with approximately 18,000 signators (so far) urging that NBC "air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars."  When women of Military Families Speak Out attempted to deliver the 500-plus-pages petition to an NBC executive, the head of security, Jim Kelly, lined up near the protest with six other security officials throughout the demonstration, insisted that they could not do so.  There was a stand-off for over an hour while the women negotiated with him as he stalled them.  Ultimately, the only thing he would allow was for them to give it to him personally, which they did.  Will it ever be seen by a top NBC executive?  Unfortunately, probably not.

The cause to shut down "Stars Earn Stripes" was aided immeasurably by nine Nobel Peace Prize winners, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who sent a strongly worded letter to Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, Gen. Clark, Producer Mark Burnett, and others urging its cancelation. 

In part, the letter read:  "We call upon NBC to stop airing this program that pays homage to no one, and is a massive disservice to those who live and die in armed conflict and suffer its consequences long after the guns of war fall silent."  Tutu's huge reputation attracted media coverage in the thousands all over the world to the Nobel Prize recipients' opposition.

Encouraged by passersby's sympathetic responses to the protest as well as the enormous media attention, the coalition decided to proceed with further actions.  They plan to continue their Monday protests throughout the four-week run of the series, initiate a letter-writing campaign to NBC top-level people, and launch a boycott of the many sponsors.

Rev. Steve Chinlund at the protest                                                                                photo by Bud Korotzer

We urge readers to sign the Roots Action petition, created by David Swanson.  Go to starsearnstripes.org.

Among the many expressions of anger by the protesters was this one:“Having my son return from two REAL wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the cost of war carried in his body and heart, I find this deeply offensive,” said Sarah Fuhro, a member of Military Families Speak Out. “Having met wounded children and refugees from these and other wars, I find this disgusting. I hope NBC will reconsider this form of entertainment.”

From our perspective, "Stars Earn Stripes" earns nothing more than contempt and outrage.

Democracies Don't Start Wars, But Fake Democracies Sure Do!

 

 

By Dave Lindorff


We’ve all heard it said by our teachers when we were in school, we’ve all heard it said by politicians, including presidents: “Democracies don’t start wars.”


NBC's Celebrity Warriors: "They barely survived the first week!"

If you sat through the two-hour debut of NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes" on Monday, you heard the promotion for next week's show: "They barely survived the first week!"  And you thought to yourself: "Uh, no, that was me."

What intolerable filth!  In this "reality" show, "celebrities" we've mostly never heard of are paired off with current or former members of the U.S. military to "play" at "missions reminiscent of counterinsurgencies that have taken place all over the world."  It's war for fun.  This sport has all the excitement of golf, but without the same level of danger.  Nobody "barely survived."  Nobody killed anybody.  Nobody's suffering moral anguish from what they've seen and done.  Nobody's lost any limbs.  And nobody's a suicide risk, with the possible exception of the producer.

Just prior to the show's debut, nine Nobel Peace Prize laureates, not including the one whose "counterinsurgencies" the show reenacts, released a statement demanding the show's removal from the air:

"Real war is down in the dirt deadly.  People -- military and civilians -- die in ways that are anything but entertaining.  Communities and societies are ripped apart in armed conflict and the aftermath can be as deadly as the war itself as simmering animosities are unleashed in horrific spirals of violence.  War, whether relatively short-lived or going on for decades as in too many parts of the world, leaves deep scars that can take generations to overcome – if ever.  Trying to somehow sanitize war by likening it to an athletic competition further calls into question the morality and ethics of linking the military anywhere with the entertainment industry in barely veiled efforts to make war and its multitudinous costs more palatable to the public."

In other words, we're dealing here with the crime of war propaganda, not for any particular war, but for the normalization of eternal war on the borders of the empire. 

A crowd protested the show at NBC headquarters in New York on Monday evening, chanting "Shame, Shame, War is not a Game," and delivering a petition bearing thousands of signatures.

The show's first episode opened with co-host and retired general Wesley Clark claiming that soldiers sacrifice for the rest of us.  Dean Cain, an actor who played Superman, remarks that he had never before had to "be a superhero for real."  Numerous other voices go on and on about soldiers' heroism, claiming that they "do this" "for our freedom."  But the "this" turns out to be a game that the contestants describe themselves as "playing."

One of the military "operatives" paired with a celebrity brags about having killed 160 people.  That split-second comment is the only appearance in the two-hour marathon of the enemies or victims of war.  One celebrity asks their partner if he's ever killed anyone, and he replies, "We don't talk about that."  Neither does NBC.  The people whom U.S. troops slaughter in our one-sided occupations or wars are never brought up.

The episode involved training for a mission and then performing the mission as a contest with four people on each team.  The "mission" was to "infiltrate a hostile encampment."  This meant that they had to ride in a helicopter, jump in a lake, climb in a boat, pretend to be shot at by "enemies" not actually shooting or appearing, blow up a guard tower with no guard in it, shoot human-sized paper targets, wade through mud, locate a box of ammunition and move it into a building, and blow up the building by pushing a button.

This stupidity is chock full of exclamations and commentary about real bullets and real explosives that are really real.  It may be the noise of their own voices that prevents anyone involved from discovering that they aren't actually shooting at anyone and no one is actually shooting at them.

Kicking in doors is a big focus of the mission.  This ought to inform thoughtful viewers about what "battlefields" look like in "counter insurgencies."  Our wars are fought in people's homes.  But when these celebrities and the tough guys they worship kick in doors there are no screaming children behind them.  This act of terrorism is transformed into an act of athletic accomplishment.  Blowing up a poor person's house is transformed into an act of special effects, creating a gigantic explosion with the push of a button while being lifted on a rope tied to a helicopter.  When, at the end of the show, it is time to eliminate the worst warrior from future programs, the two worst warmakers thus far pair off in a contest that involves kicking in a door, entering a room, and shooting a bunch of humanoid targets in the head.  I wonder which missions that is reminiscent of.

Muhammad Ali famously remarked, when refusing to participate in war: "I ain't got no quarrel with them Viet Cong. . . .  No Viet Cong ever called me nigger."  His daughter Laila Ali is a Stars Earn Stripes celebrity contestant blissfully unconcerned about whether or not she has a quarrel with the people who theoretically might inhabit the buildings she's shooting up.  War lovers must feel some satisfaction in having brought Ali's daughter into the fold, along with the late football star and soldier Pat Tillman, who had turned against our wars but for whose charity one of the Stars Earn Stripes celebrities is competing.  When one of the celebrities lies, "I know there's a chance I could die," one imagines he must have in mind friendly fire.  Like Tillman, he would die with no enemy present.  To make the show seem dangerous, the producers show one celebrity, Dolvett Quince, having trouble swimming.

The losing team in each mission/sporting event loses by completing the mission with the slowest time.  Yet the show itself is almost unbearably slow, repetitive (literally replaying the same little snippets of "action"), and so packed with commercial breaks that it's hard to imagine people waiting through them voluntarily.  But the whole thing is a commercial for war, the business of 49% NBC owner General Electric.  No matter how small the audience for this slime, it is likely to be disproportionately made up of young people contemplating enlistment.  And what a massive and deadly lie this show is to them!

These celebrities are unlikely to suffer PTSD or to die in the most common way in which actual members of the military die (suicide).  There's no fear, no horror, no revulsion, no moral crisis.  Asked what their biggest concerns are prior to their "mission" they say things like "how high the helicopter will fly."  This is beyond promoting war as a hell that is somehow necessary as a last resort.  This is war as exciting sport with no moral component, no killing, no dying, no downside.  Now we don't have to be sociopaths to support the military as a jobs program; we can be patrons of the arts (or the sports anyway).

At one point, one of the celebrities, Eve Torres, in tears, says that she appreciates those who do such difficult stunts "every day" as their job. "We do this for fun," she says.  Yet, when her heroes practice these extreme sports they do so with real victims in real nations, generating real enemies.  NBC doesn't include that complication.  Nowhere in Stars Earn Stripes do we hear about the list of countries that Wesley Clark said the Pentagon wanted to attack and overthrow right after 9-11: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, and Iran.  And of course we are not told what he said the motivation for those attacks would be, namely trying to look strong and to dominate the globe.  Clark was outraged to learn that "the purpose of the military is to start wars and change governments, it's not to deter conflict; we're going to have to invade countries, and you know my mind was spinning; they wanted us to destabilize the Middle East . . . . They could hardly wait to finish Iraq so that they could move into Syria."  Clark was talking then about the same sort of people who are running the U.S. military now.

Stars Earn Strips could have gone differently.  Imagine if the "mission" were to put out a fire or rescue people from a storm.  Or the mission could have been to save our atmosphere.  Or how about a mission to see who is fastest at building the fastest and most energy efficient trains?  Or . . . anything useful in any way!

The excitement (such as it is) of NBC's "reality show" lies precisely in its being "reminiscent" of war, and not of some beneficial project.  And yet it is not war.  And it may be doomed to low ratings.  If it were war, however, its ratings wouldn't necessarily rise.  Americans don't want to see families slaughtered, children mutilated, whole regions of the world ruined for human life, refugees struggling to survive, cluster bombs and depleted uranium killing for generations.  What's fun about that?

If NBC would like to show the uglier side of war, we've provided resources to get them started at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

Nine Nobel Peace Laureates Call on NBC to Cancel "Stars Earn Stripes"

http://nobelwomensinitiative.org/2012/08/nine-nobel-peace-laureates-call-on-nbc-to-cancel-stars-earn-stripes/?ref=18

WAR ISN’T ENTERTAINMENT— AND SHOULDN’T BE TREATED LIKE IT IS

An Open Letter to Mr. Robert Greenblatt, Chairman of NBC Entertainment, General Wesley Clark (ret.), Producer Mark Burnett and others involved in “Stars Earn Stripes”:

During the Olympics, touted as a time for comity and peace among nations, millions first learned that NBC would be premiering a new “reality” TV show.  The commercials announcing “Stars Earn Stripes” were shown seemingly endlessly throughout the athletic competition, noting that its premier would be Monday, August 13, following the end of the Olympic games.

Batten Down the Hatches: Israel Likely to Strike Iran Before November

Israel’s ‘Bomb Iran’ Timetable

August 12, 2012

Editor Note: As the clock ticks down to the U.S. elections in November, another clock is ticking in Israel. There is increasing evidence that Israel's leaders plan to get hostilities going with Iran in the coming weeks, in the expectation that Obama will have no alternative but to commit U.S. forces to support Israel.

By Ray McGovern

More Washington insiders are coming to the conclusion that Israel’s leaders are planning to attack Iran before the U.S. election in November in the expectation that American forces will be drawn in. There is widespread recognition that, without U.S. military involvement, an Israeli attack would be highly risky and, at best, only marginally successful.

What Paul Ryan Has and Obama Wants

According to the Huffington Post, "President Barack Obama's reelection campaign and Democratic political groups have been eager for Romney to pick Ryan, the architect of plans to slash government spending and overhaul entitlement programs that Democrats believe are political losers."  ABC agrees: "The selection of  Ryan as running mate makes it far more likely that Medicare, Social Security, and dramatic spending cuts will be as central to the campaign conversation this fall as jobs and the economy. Adding some of those famed political third rails into the mix is not just a potential risk Romney is willing to take, it is also clearly a potential risk he felt he had to take."

So, cutting Medicare and Social Security are unpopular, and Obama benefits from Romney's risky move in picking a runningmate willing to cut them.  That's the story.

Now, however, read this from the New York Times: "The news media have played a crucial role in Mr. Obama’s career, helping to make him a national star not long after he had been an anonymous state legislator. As president, however, he has come to believe the news media have had a role in frustrating his ambitions to change the terms of the country’s political discussion. He particularly believes that Democrats do not receive enough credit for their willingness to accept cuts in Medicare and Social Security, while Republicans oppose almost any tax increase to reduce the deficit."

So Obama too is willing to take the political risk of cutting the popular programs called Medicare and Social Security.  In fact, what Obama wants is not to protect these programs from cuts, but rather to receive appropriate credit from the media corporations for his willingness to cut them.  This, we are about to be told endlessly, is in stark contrast to Romney-Ryan's willingness to cut Medicare and Social Security.  But the biggest contrast seems to be that the media gives Romney and Ryan the credit that Obama covets.

Oh no, Obama supporters will reply, there's a big difference.  Romney wants to cut these programs, while Obama is willing to cut them. Romney is evil, while Obama is noble and gracious in his appeasing of evil.  I'm sorry, but won't the catfood that grandma lives on taste as bitter regardless of whether her income was removed maliciously or accommodatingly?

Oh, but Romney-and-Ryan want to cut more than Obama wants to cut. 

Are you sure?  RR need only triple their demand for Obama to double his.  The longer the debate goes on, the more old people Obama wants to starve to demonstrate his willingness to accommodate.  In fact, exactly how many old people starve -- whether Iranians living under sanctions or Americans living under austerity -- is hardly relevant.  The important thing is to have gone further toward meeting RR's demand than RR went toward meeting yours. 

But what about the demand of the majority of the country that Social Security and Medicare be expanded rather than cut?  What about the popularity of lifting the cap on payroll taxes, lowering the retirement age, and expanding Medicare to include us all?  Will that agenda be advanced by cheering for a compromiser over an unapologetic crapitalist?

Of course not.  What would move both of these reprehensible candidates away from deeper cuts to decent programs, and toward deeper cuts in the war machine, the fossil fuel funding, the bankster bailouts, and the "Bush" tax cuts is an independent movement that makes its minimum demand an absolute bar on any cuts to Social Security or Medicare whatsoever. 

If you don't soon see progressive groups advancing that demand, expect bad times ahead, regardless of who wins the world's worst reality drama.

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