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A Temple and a Mosque; Worship in America

By Soraya Sepahpour-Ulrich

On August 5,  a Sikh temple in Southern Wisconsin was attacked.  Six worshippers lost their lives before the gunman was killed.   There was an outbreak of condemnation – rightly so.  President Obama ordered flags at public buildings to be flown at half-staff and Mrs. Clinton called her Indian counterpart. Mitt Romney offered his prayers to the families of the victims.   Left ignored, was the burning down of a mosque in Missouri -  predictably so.  Worship in America is a political prerogative in sink with U.S. policies.  

Best Southern Corporate Editorial Ever

One cannot always count on words of wisdom from the editorials published by corporate newspaper chains in the Southern United States, or anywhere else.  This one is far from perfect, but remarkably great.  This was published by the Charlottesville Daily Progress on Tuesday and adapted by them from their corporate sister the Richmond Times Dispatch.  Possibly numerous other Media General (Warren Buffet) newspapers printed the same or similar:

"Would cuts in defense spending be a bad thing?

"Gov. Bob McDonnell suggested President Obama hold Congress in session until it hammers out a deal to avert what is known as sequestration — whose effects on Virginia could be profound."

Note that this editorial is about to challenge the claims of the state's Transvaginal Governor who is also trying to get himself nominated for U.S. Veep on the Romney ticket.  Not only that, but a gang of U.S. Senators including the previous Republican presidential nominee John McCain recently stopped in Virginia on a tour of swing states hyping the danger to the U.S. economy of any cuts to the military budget.  This editorial does not name those senators but does handily reject their bogus claims.

"Sequestration is the term applied to automatic budget cuts that will take effect Jan. 2 unless Congress acts now to prevent them. They are the result of last year’s Budget Control Act. That law tasked a special committee with finding $1.2 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade. If it failed, automatic cuts — half of them in defense spending, half in domestic discretionary spending — would kick in. The committee failed."

Of course "defense" is code for military, even while few would pretend that attacking Libya or Syria or continuing in Afghanistan or drone bombing Pakistan or Yemen, etc., is defensive.  The code is well understood and virtually unavoidable in a corporate newspaper.  You'll recall that there was huge public pushback against the Super Congress, that the public told pollsters we favored taxing the rich and cutting the military.  The Super Congress failed to push through a deal to enlarge the military and continue tax cuts on the wealthy.  And rightly so.  But Congress is intent on accomplishing post-2012-election what the Super Congress couldn't do.

"Without action soon, the first of $600 billion in defense spending cuts will start to bite. That could mean the loss of tens of thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands, of jobs here in the commonwealth — which is the No. 2 recipient of federal defense outlays. That is a frightening prospect indeed."

Note, however, that dollars don't translate simply and predictably into jobs.  When the military had less money several years ago, it also produced more jobs. Also, the $600 billion is "over 10 years," and might as well be called $1200 billion "over 20 years" for all such monkeying with the numbers enlightens us.  It's $60 billion "over one year," but reduced from that in order to put more of the cutting later in the 10-year period. $50 billion or less, cut from $1.2 trillion or so in total military spending can only frighten people who are truly intent on being frightened.  Of course, fear is what allows military spending on this kind of scale to begin with.

"But it is not in itself a sufficient reason to oppose the cuts. National defense is not a jobs program. Many of the very arguments conservative Republicans have made with regard to government spending over the years — about inefficiency, about the displacement of private investment, about gargantuan bureaucracies doling out contracts to the politically connected — might apply just as well to the Pentagon as to any other government agency."

This is a stunning bit of honest sanity.  Reflect on the earthshattering, "debate" crashing, impoliteness of introducing this bit of truth to the public.  Of course it's also the understatement of the year.  Spending on the military produces fewer jobs than spending on education, energy, infrastructure, or even tax cuts for working people, because it is so incredibly wasteful.  How wasteful?  We don't know, since it's the only department that is never audited.  But we know that it routinely misplaces billions -- with a b -- of dollars, something no other department is allowed to do.  We also know that in much of the world spending money on killing in order to generate jobs would be viewed as sociopathic.

"What’s more, the alarms being rung about the hollowing out of the military sound considerably less grim when put in context. For example, ask yourself this: Was the U.S. military on the brink of collapse in 2007? Few people would answer yes. Yet if sequestration occurs, then military spending would revert to — you guessed it — 2007 levels. That doesn’t sound quite so horrible."

Again, this is simple and obvious but staggeringly new.  It renders ludicrous countless "news" reports that have been published by these papers.

"Even after adjusting for inflation, Pentagon spending is now almost double what it was in 2000. And that leaves out the billions lavished on Homeland Security. And the further billions spent on ongoing military operations abroad, which add more than another hundred billion to the tab."

This too is new and different, pointing out that the "Homeland Security" budget is added on top of the Pentagon's.  But let's not forget State, Energy, CIA, and all the other departments that include military spending, plus the expense of caring for the veterans our wars keep producing.  The total cost of the military is about $1.2 trillion per year, many times what any other nation spends, more than all other nations combined, and more than half of federal discretionary spending.

"True, federal defense outlays are smaller as a share of the federal budget than they have been in many years,"

Oops.  That's not true, not when all military ("defense") expenses are counted.

"and they are smaller as a percentage of gross domestic product than at any time since World War II. But this is not a very useful comparison. It implies that whenever Washington creates a hugely expensive new entitlement program, or whenever the economy booms, Pentagon spending should be jacked up just to keep the proportions steady."

Wow.  This is amazingly decent and dismissive of an entire genre of public "discourse."  The Congressional Budget Office has repeatedly stressed to Congress that military spending is low as a percentage of GDP.  Even though it's high and has been rising each of the past 15 years as a dollar amount adjusted for inflation, as a percentage of the federal discretionary budget, and as a percentage of global military spending, the theory indeed seems to be that if we have more money we should buy more weapons because we can.  This requires a psychiatrist, not an economist.

"The real question is how much the U.S. needs to spend to maintain military dominance. To help answer it, consider a more useful comparison: For every dollar the world spends on military outlays, America accounts for 46 cents. China, a distant second, comes in at about 7 cents."

Hmm.  Is that the real question?  Isn't the real question how the United States can best keep its nation safe?  Isn't it at the very least an open question whether striving to dominate the globe is making us safer or putting us at risk? The answer above to the wrong question is dramatically understated, and yet hugely important and worldview shattering for many potential readers.  I hope they read it.

"Gov. McDonnell is right to worry about the effect of defense spending cuts here in Virginia. Congress should pass legislation to stave off the sequestration meat ax. However, it needs to make judicious cuts to the defense budget. Overseas bases, redundant weapons systems, even force structures should all be on the table. The nation currently borrows 43 cents of every dollar it spends. And there is simply no way to fix that problem without including military cuts as part of the solution."

Wouldn't you know they'd reach the wrong conclusion after so much good rhetoric.  The sequestration meat ax would cut that $1.2 trillion budget by about $50 billion.  It should be cut by much more.  Cutting back to merely three times the size of China would allow us not only to pay off debt but to make college free, eliminate student loans, develop a massive green energy program, and update our infrastructure.  Those are the tradeoffs that should have been mentioned.  The mass murder of non-Americans that is generated by the war momentum that Eisenhower warned us war spending would create might also merit consideration.  Nonetheless, I doubt I shall ever see this good an editorial in my local paper again.

KPFT's The Monitor Takes on Violence

Listen here.

The theme of this week’s show: Guns and Media

  • RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have launched a campaign targeting NBC’s new program, “Stars Earn Stripes,” a reality show co-hosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark and co-starring Todd Palin, which the network is advertising during the Olympics. We discuss this with David Swanson
  • Another mass shooting, this time in Wisconsin, has people wondering what can be done about gun violence, the gun lobby and the debate about second amendment protections. We discuss this with Ladd Everitt

More about this week’s guests:

David Swanson

David Swanson 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, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now.

He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works as Campaign Coordinator for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org

In April 2012, Swanson began working for Veterans For Peace. Swanson hosts Talk Nation Radio.

Quote: “NBC is marketing its new show during the Olympics as the next big sport, featuring former Olympic athletes, but the sport is war, with — so they tell us — real bullets, real explosives, and real danger. If NBC is really risking blowing off the head or arm or leg of Sarah Palin’s husband and the other stars, then we’ve regressed to ancient Rome. Bread and circuses are now Big Macs and NBC war-o-tainment shows. I suspect and hope that in fact NBC is not putting these people at risk and nobody is going to die on Stars Earn Stripes (note, link does not take you to the NBC show page). And I am certain that the 95 percent of casualties in U.S. wars who rarely get mentioned on any NBC program, namely the non-Americans, will not be featured. We will not see children and grandparents blown to pieces. We will not see cluster bombs picked up as toys. We may see doors kicked in, but not the screaming terrified families behind them. NBC is sanitizing and normalizing war as a sport. Gone is any concept of war as an emergency, any notion of war time as separate from peace time. We are into permanent war, and war for its own sake.”

—————————————————————————————

Ladd Everitt

Ladd Everitt is the Director of Communications of Coalition to Stop Gun Violence. He has served as the Director of Communications of the Coalition to Stop Gun Violence since May 2006.  In this position, he is responsible for developing and managing a wide range of communications activities in support of the organization’s overall mission.

Mr. Everitt has served in a volunteer capacity with the D.C. Crisis Response Team, a group which offers comfort, support and referral services to victims and survivors of homicide in the District of Columbia. From 2002-2007, he served as the volunteer President of the D.C. Chapter of the Million Mom March. Under his direction, the chapter conducted events for victims and survivors of gun violence, published letters and editorials in local and national periodicals, participated in press conferences and demonstrations calling for sensible gun laws, networked with other community groups who are interested in stemming the tide of gun violence, and authored a comprehensive resource book for victims and survivors, which was used by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Ladd relocated to the District of Columbia from New York in September of 1993 to pursue a Masters degree in U.S. Foreign Policy at American University.  After completing his degree, he worked as a Research Associate with the U.S.‑Saudi Arabian Business Council in Washington, DC, and as a Chief of Policy Development for the Air Force Association in Arlington, Virginia.

A statement from Coalition to Stop Gun Violence issued in the wake of the incident in Colorado read in part: “Reports indicate that the shooter, 24-year-old James Holmes wore body armor and was armed with two Glock handguns, a tactical shotgun, and an AR-15 style assault rifle. He also released some type of chemical gas into the theater during the massacre. Twelve fatalities have been reported so far, with approximately 38 moviegoers injured, including 16 critically.  “Sadly, there is nothing novel about this tragedy. It is yet another massacre perpetuated by a homicidal maniac who was given easy access to lethal, military-style firepower.     “The pro-gun movement has told us that bloodbaths like Aurora are the price we must pay to guarantee freedom and individual liberty in the United States. Rational Americans should reject such radical ideology and demand immediate reform of our gun laws.  “The truth is that there is no greater threat to ‘life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’ than the wanton gun violence that continues to destroy American families and communities. Until our legislators stand up to the extreme leadership of the National Rifle Association and enact laws to assure the thorough screening of gun buyers, tragedies like Aurora will continue to haunt America. It is long past time to put public safety back on the agenda in the U.S. Congress, and in our state legislatures.”

The  Coalition to Stop Gun Violence has also released a statement about the shooting in Wisconsin. You can read it here.

ladd callout

America a Democracy? Really?

By Dave Lindorff

This article was originally written forPressTV

We Americans are taught it in school. The propaganda put out by Voice of America repeats the idea ad nauseum around the globe. Politicians refer to it in every campaign speech with the same fervor that they claim to be running for office in response to God’s call: America is a model of democracy for the whole world.

But what kind of democracy is it really that we have here? 

Children's Book Illustrator Needed

I'm searching for a good children's book illustrator to illustrate my first children's book. If you are one or know one, please write to david at david swanson dot org

City on the Ledge

I just read a terrific novel set in contemporary Quito, Ecuador, with the main characters employees of the U.S. State Department and the CIA.

This is not an easy one to write about without spoiling the plot.  Let me just say that it's politically and psychologically insightful.  It doesn't simplify or glorify.  It doesn't beautify or brutalize human behavior.  And you will find yourself trusting that it's going somewhere good, but you will not be able to say exactly where.

If Bradley Manning didn't exist we would have to invent him.  Kraske has invented a narrative that takes us inside the workings of our government in a way that no collection of State Department cables ever could.  For better or worse, I suspect he's taken us to a place very closely resembling the real thing.

 

Audio: David Swanson and Coy Barefoot Discuss NBC's New War Reality Show

Charlottesville Right Now: 7-30-12 David Swanson

David Swanson from davidswanson.org joins the show to discuss a new NBC show called Stars Earn Stripes that turns war into a reality show. LISTEN.

And then ...

Do Something About It!

NBC Invents War-o-tainment

If you've watched the Olympics on NBC you've probably seen ads promoting a war-o-tainment reality show cohosted by retired U.S. General Wesley Clark, co-starring Todd Palin, and with no apparent role for reality. 

The ads brag about the use of real bullets in a way that promoters of the new Batman movie probably wouldn't try. But the chances that any of the celebrities engaged in "war competition" on NBC's "Stars Earn Stripes"  will be shot and killed is essentially what it was for John Wayne, as he promoted war while dodging it (even if nuclear weapons testing got him in the end).

RootsAction.org and Just Foreign Policy have set up a website at StarsEarnStripes.org to push NBC to show the real cost of war, and to help get them started.

"Stars Earn Stripes" is being produced by the TV “genius” behind Donald Trump’s “Apprentice” and “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Husband Todd Palin is a “Stars Earn Stripes” co-star.) NBC is promoting the show during its Summer Olympics telecast as the next big sporting event.  But the sport it's exhibiting is war.

On "Stars Earn Stripes," celebrities will pair-up with members of the U.S. military to compete at war-like tasks, including "long-range weapons fire." Only there won't be any of the killing or dying.

Our wars kill huge numbers of people, primarily civilians, and often children and the elderly.  NBC is not showing this reality on its war-o-tainment show any more than on its news programs.  Other nations' media show the face of war, giving people a very different view of war-making.

NBC news programs have repeatedly used retired generals, pretending independence but getting their pro-war talking points from the Pentagon. See New York Times: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand and Glenn Greenwald: The Pulizer-Winning Investigation That Dare Not Be Uttered on TV.

In the United States, our tax dollars are spent by the billions each year marketing the idea that war is a sport and associating the military with sporting events.  Media companies like NBC are complicit in the propaganda.  While 57% of federal discretionary spending goes to the military, weapons makers can't seem to get enough of our tax dollars.  In the spirit of transferring veterans' care to the realm of private charity, "Stars Earn Stripes" will give prize money each week to "military-based charities" in order to "send a message." 

One of NBC’s corporate parents, General Electric, takes war very seriously, but not as human tragedy -- rather, as financial profit.  (GE is a big weapons manufacturer.) A retired general hosting a war-o-tainment show is another step in the normalization of permanent war.  And consider for a moment who that retired general is.  During the 1999 bombing of Yugoslavia commanded by Gen. Wesley Clark, civilians and a TV station were bombed, while cluster bombs and depleted uranium were used. Had Clark done these things for another nation, NBC would probably favor his prosecution and certainly not employ him. See Democracy Now! Confronts Wesley Clark Over His Bombing Of Civilians.

StarsEarnStripes.org  is asking NBC to stop treating war as a sport, and to air an in-depth segment showing the reality of civilian victims of recent U.S. wars, on any program, any time in the coming months.  We've provided some resources to help NBC research and show the reality of war, at http://StarsEarnStripes.org

Guilty Conscience or Cynical Ploy? Architect of Too-Big-to-Fail Banks Says It Was a ‘Mistake’

 

By Dave Lindorff


Imagine for a moment what would happen if former President George W. Bush were to give an interview on television and declare that his invasion of Iraq, and the ensuing nine years of death and mayhem that resulted from that war, had been the wrong thing to do. Imagine if he were to say of that decision, “Mistakes were made.”


GOOD VIOLENCE, BAD VIOLENCE

By Robert C. Koehler

“In the end, after he has felt the full force of our justice system, what will be remembered are the good people who were impacted by this tragedy,” President Obama said this week in Aurora, Colo., after the shootings.

That’s probably not true.

No R.I.P. for Alex Cockburn

 

By Dave Lindorff


ThisCantBeHappening! lost a valued friend Friday night with the death, from cancer, of Alexander Cockburn, 71. Alex and his comrade-in-arms Jeffrey St. Clair atCounterpunch magazine have helped our struggling little online left alternative newspaper mightily by running most of our articles on their site when other allegedly progressive news aggregator sites have rejected stories as being too radical, or in the case of  Truthout, have simply barred us from their site.

Rupert Watch, Murdoch Faces Shareholder Rebellion in UK

By Michael Collins

News Corporation is facing an investor rebellion in Great Britain that parallels a similar rebellion occurring in the United States. (Image)

"A consortium of 18 heavyweight investors is calling for Mr Murdoch to stand down as chairman in the interests of good corporate governance and be replaced by an independent figure who is seen to be acting in the best interests of shareholders." The Independent, July 20

The investors have filed a resolution to remove Murdoch from power at the October News Corp shareholders meeting. The resolution will accompany those already filed by large investors in the United States.

What upsets the 18? Murdoch and his family have too much control. That control serves the family well, but not the shareholders. Specifically, recent scandals have hurt News Corp performance.

CNN Expert’s Civilian Drone Death Numbers Don’t Add Up

CNN’s national security expert Peter Bergen speaking at a recent event (Miller Center/ Flickr)

Following recent revelations by the New York Times that all military-aged males in Waziristan are considered fair game by the CIA in its drone strikes, many US journalists have been reassessing how they report on deaths in the attacks.

So when CNN’s national security analyst Peter Bergen produced a graph claiming that no civilians have been killed in Pakistan this year by US drones, his views were bound to attract criticism. Conor Friedersdorf, a columnist at The Atlantic, accused CNN and Bergen of running ‘bogus data‘, for example.

Bergen is also a director of the New America Foundation, which for more than three years has run a database on CIA drone strikes in Pakistan and produces estimates of numbers killed. That data is the most frequent source of statistics for the US media, including CNN itself. So the accuracy of its material is important.

Yet there are credible reports of civilian deaths in Pakistan this year. And unlike the New America Foundation the Bureau actively tracks those claims.

Are Drones Moral Killing Machines? NY Times National Security Journalist Says Yes

 

By Dave Lindorff


Are weaponized drone aircraft more moral than the more traditional killing machines used in warfare? In an opinion published in Sunday’s New York Times, the paper’s national security reporter, Scott Shane, argues that they are.


War: The before, the during and the after

By George Ikners

In a book written by Alex Carey and titled "Taking the Risk out of Democracy" there are many magnificent insights about just how the elites guard against anyone other than themselves controlling the system, socially, economically and politically. On the topic of war Carey says (at p 137) that "..modern wars require the support of everyone; and so wartime propaganda idealizes the humane, egalitariandemocratic character of the home society in a way that no elite or business interest has any intention of allowing actually to come about. In consequence, at the end of major wars there is a public temper that expects reforms in the direction of the democratic and egalitarian ideals for which people have been told they sacrificed and suffered."

As Congress pushes cybersecurity law, privacy advocates warn of increased domestic spying

In Washington, both chambers of Congress and multiple federal agencies are pushing for sweeping cybersecurity legislation that would allow more information sharing between corporations and the government. But privacy advocates say the country’s intelligence gathering agency, the National Security Administration, already has too much access to US citizens’ private data, and has abused its powers by engaging in widespread warrant-less domestic surveillance. On Capitol Hill, FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

Ralph Nader Lists 11 Books You Should Read

Below is Nader's list of books you should read to jolt your mind into action. 

I'm going to skip number 8 because I wrote it, but I'd like to offer it to you at a discount.

When the World Outlawed War Graphic
For the paperback, kindle, epub, PDF, or audio book, just go to:
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jolting the mind for action

These are suggested summer readings from Ralph Nader to activate the citizen’s mind:

  1. Corporations Are Not People by Jeffrey D. Clements, Berrett-Koehler Publishers, San Francisco, 2012. This book is for corporate accountability and the grossly uneven relationships between corporate personhood and real people. Clear, historically founded, compellingly invigorating and connected to a growing movement (see freespeechforpeople.org).
  2. The Responsible Company: What We’ve Learned From Patagonia’s First 40 Years by Yvon Chouinard & Vincent Stanley, Patagonia Books, Ventura, California, 2012. You may be wearing the apparel of this outdoor clothing company, but you may not be aware of the remarkable pioneering practices and counter-intuitive wisdom of this successful company and its casual, underworking founder and outdoorsman, Yvon Chouinard.
  3. Government is Good by Douglas J. Amy, creator of governmentisgood.com, Dog Ear Publishing, Indianapolis, IN 2011. This professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College debunks the myths of corporatist-Republican propaganda, surfaces the realities of government’s services, explains the war on government and how to revitalize both democracy and government from its present distortions by self-seeking organized private power. Douglas Amy is the man Cong. Paul Ryan would never debate.
  4. Buying America Back by Alan Uke, Selectbooks, New York, 2012. Uke is a domestic manufacturer of Scuba diving and industrial lighting products and the architect of the federal Automobile Smog Index. The book’s dedication is “to the workers displaced, the factories closed, the small towns decimated and the opportunities denied to the people of America. It is also dedicated to all of us, the consumers, whose money has been harvested by those who work against us.” He has proposed to put a specific fight-back tool in our hands.
  5. We Can All Do Better by Bill Bradley, Vanguard Press, New York, 2012. The former U.S. Senator and basketball start delivers his wide-ranging thoughts on the book’s title. The book is short, clear and tells you where he stands. If presidential campaigns covered such subjects, the people would know where the candidates stand, instead of the blizzard of trivia, repetition and distortion to which they are exposed.
  6. Bad Brake: Ford Trucks Deadly When Parked, by Robert Zausner, Camino Books, Philadelphia, 2012. If you want to see the gripping persistent pursuit of the rights of people whose lives were devastated by a popular truck defective brake design by trial lawyers at their creative best, read this documented story. As Arthur Bryant, director of Public Justice, wrote: “The book shows how trial lawyers are our last line of defense against corporations maximizing profits over people’s safety and lives.”
  7. The Emergency State: America’s Pursuit of Absolute Security at All Costs by David C. Unger, Penguin Press, New York, 2012. The book’s title understates the depth of the author’s indictment of the national security state – built by both political parties – into a folly that has traded away “the country’s greatest strengths for a fleeting illusion of safety.” Unger does not leave his readers hanging. He provides them with ten proposals to reverse course.
  8. When the World Outlawed War by David Swanson, (self-published, 2011). The author of several books, political activist and civic leader, brings to contemporary memory the existence of the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928 that outlawed war. Still on the books and signed by 54 countries, including the United States, the Treaty was the result of the leadership of assertive citizens in many countries and their governmental officials, including our Secretary of State Frank Kellogg, following the horrors of that preventable World War I. Our forebears’ vision should stimulate their descendants today into a reawakening for muscular institutions of peace.
  9. My Seventy Years in the Labor Movement by Harry Kelber, Labor Educator Press, New York, 2006. Now at age 98 and writing articles every week on his blog http://laboreducator.org, Harry Kelber has been championing working men and women for seventy-five years and holding slugglishy-led trade unions’ feet to the fire. With no one else stepping up, he is running for the presidency of the AFL-CIO on a detailed reform platform of greater activism. An inspirational, instructive auto-biography.
  10. Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated and Battling the Corporate Elite by Bruce E. Levine, Chelsea Green, 2011. Going beyond the how-to-become-active civic handbook, Levine, a clinical psychologist invites us to explore what he calls the “learned helplessness” that has “taken hold for a great many Americans…locked into an abuse syndrome in which revelations about their victimization by a corporate-government partnership produce increased anesthetization rather than constructive action.” The author, citing historian Lawrence Goodwy, then shows many ways toward “individual self-respect” and “collective self-confidence,” the “cultural building blocks of mass democratic politics.”
  11. Days of Destruction Days of Revolt by Chris Hedges and Joe Sacco, Nation Books, New York, 2012. This brilliant combination of prose and graphic comics reports from the field on four of the poorest, most abandoned areas of the U.S. The plight of the Americans barely existing there reflects the power of the corporate supremacists and their indentured governments to exploit and deny.

Want to disturb your routine and enliven your vision for human possibilities, read through the above works. It will take you a lot less time than the authors spent delivering their minds to yours.

As rockets hit Homs, Wikileaks releases documents on Syrian conflict and regime

Wikileaks is releasing what it described as a massive trove of documents related to the conflict in Syria. Speaking at London’s Frontline Club, Wikileaks project analyst Sarah Harrison said the documents consist of more than two million emails from political figures, ministries and companies doing business with the Syrian government.

“The Syria files shine a light on the inner workings of the Syrian government and the economy but they also shine a light on how the West and Western companies say one thing and do another. The range of information extends from the intimate correspondence of the Baath party figures to financial transfers sent from Syrian ministries to other nations.”

FSRN July 4th Special - Occupy: Building a New Movement Against Inequality

What does Independence Day mean to you? The holiday can be a time to gather with family, friends and community. But it can also be an opportunity to reassess the direction of the country, the past struggles that secured rights and freedom, the challenges to power that rose up in the face of adversity, and the inequalities that still exist.

As US seeks personal data from Google and Twitter, activists move to protect online speech

A coalition of open Internet advocates unveiled a “Declaration of Internet Freedom” this week, seeking to rally activists against censorship and privacy violations from both governments and corporations. The Declaration comes as a Manhattan Judge ordered Twitter to turn over months of personal data from an Occupy Wall Street protester, arrested during last fall's mass demonstration on the Brooklyn Bridge. Both Google and Twitter released reports this month showing the US government requested more private user data than any other country in the world, and the companies largely complied.  FSRN’s Alice Ollstein has more.

(Transcript; audio available here)

Somebody thinks we have 9 lives

H/T LUV News

Speaking Events

2015

May 8 New Jersey

May 19 Charlottesville, Va., at screening of Shadows of Liberty at 7 p.m. at The Bridge.

May 30 NYC here and here

August 27, Chicago

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