Oct 052016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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“What Russia is sponsoring and doing [in Syria] is not counter-terrorism it is barbarism” – Samantha Power, US Representative to the United Nations

Introduction

The US representative to the United Nations, Ambassador ‘Ranting Sam’ Samantha Power, accused the Russian and Syrian governments of ‘barbarism’, claiming Moscow or Damascus had attacked an unarmed United Nations humanitarian convoy delivering aid to civilians in Aleppo. No evidence was presented. Rants and threats do not require facts or proof; they only require vehement emotional ejaculations and compliant mass propaganda organs.

‘Barbarians’, to be clear, evoke images of leaders and groups, which abjure all civilized norms and laws. They only respond to armed force.

In the present context Power’s charges of barbarism against Russia and Syria was used to justify the US aerial bombardment of a Syrian army outpost, which killed and maimed almost 200 government troops engaged in combating ISIS terrorists and jihadi invaders.

In other words, accusing Syrian soldiers of ‘barbarism’ was Ambassador Power’s cynical way of dehumanizing the young victims of an earlier and deliberate US war crime.

Let’s analyze the appropriate context for the use and abuse of the language of ‘barbarism’ – and its rightful application.

Barbarism: The Deed

Over the past decade and a half, the US and its allies have invaded, occupied, killed, wounded and dispossessed over ten million people, in countries from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Military and civilian officials have systematically destroyed entire economies, fostered ethno-religious wars, undermined ancient community and family ties and placed corrupt political puppets in power.

Promoted by the US, torture, arbitrary arrest and incarceration have become the norm creating lawless and chaotic societies, which had once been productive and stable. The shredding of  social structures has provokes massive population flight, with millions of desperate refugees fleeing invasions, wars and total society breakdown. The result of these deliberate imperial policy decisions has been emptied cities and neighborhoods, broken families, destroyed lives and futures for many millions of young Arabs and Muslims.

As the human toll mounts and Western Europe is flooded with the results of US aggressive wars, the imperialists have sharpened their shrill rhetoric, labeling all of their adversaries and critics as ‘accomplices in war crimes’, and ‘barbarians’.

The greater and more sustained the policy of wanton imperial pillage, the more intense the frustration of its leaders over its ultimate failures, and the greater the recourse of its ‘diplomats’ to vituperative language.

Barbarism in Search of Barbarians

The barbarism underlying the US and EU imperial wars of conquest in the Middle East is unmatched. The principal adversaries to US aggression, Russia, China and Iran, have not invaded any sovereign countries, nor have they provoked the desperate flight of millions of refugees. Russia was invited to aid its Syrian government ally confronting an invasion of terrorist mercenaries who are intent on dividing the country. Crimea peacefully re-joined Russia via elections. Moscow rejected playing any military role in support of Western wars against Iraq, Yemen and Libya. None of this rose to the level of US-EU barbarism.

In Asia, the West has invaded and devastated Viet Nam, the Philippines and Afghanistan. Japan, now a US ally, had invaded China, Korea and Southeast Asia. China for its part has not engaged in any imperial war of conquest for centuries.

Iran has not invaded any country in modern times. On the contrary, Iraq invaded Tehran in the 1980’s with US support and waged a decade-long war which caused millions of casualties.

In truth, if waging wars, staging invasions, destroying whole societies and causing millions of deaths are the measure of barbarism, then the US, Europe and Japan have been clearly barbaric.

To claim otherwise and follow the ranting script of Ambassador Samantha Power is to enter into a tunnel of hallucinations where the language of liberal values embellishes truly barbarian acts.

The entire language of politics has been perverted and converted into an artifice of self-delusion. Terrorist militias are re-packaged as ‘rebels’ and ‘moderates’, spreading barbarism from the imperial Western center to the periphery. The deliberate spread of terrorism is itself a barbaric deed, which degrades the status of Western powers.

Conclusion

In ancient Greece, the barbarians were those outside of the empire who did not speak the language of civilization. They were savage invaders seeking to pillage the wealth and culture of the empire. Today the barbarians emerge from inside the empire and spread outward. The imperial leaders have engaged in serial wars of destruction and pillage, even as their own societies and economies wallow in ignorance, misery, debt, addiction and criminality. Imperial barbarians devastate whole cultures, erasing the great historical legacy of ancient civilizations like Iraq and Syria, while imposing their culture of morons, drugs and electronic gadgets, which has already infantilized its own population.

The empire of barbarians is infested with moneychangers and corrupt speculators. They have debased the entire legal system and legislative bodies. The public space has become a private latrine for the elite, closed to any real public discourse and debate.

Electoral spectacles, rather than reasoned debates, undermine republican principles. Imperial conquerors, enmeshed in a military metaphysic, cannot reconstruct a devastated society into a productive colony, nor can they learn or benefit from the best and brightest among its captives, as Rome did with Greece, because it has sown such destruction and salted the very soil under the feet of its conquered peoples.

The barbarian-imperial world order is constantly at war with ‘others’ and can never assimilate and learn from the precious human treasures it has so wantonly destroyed. It rules by terror abroad and deceit at home. As so crudely displayed by the imperial rants of Ambassador Samantha Power, its oratory at international forums reflect the hysteria of mediocre functionaries: mindless barbarians raving among themselves in marbled echo chambers.

In the end, the imperial barbarians will be besieged by their own fleeing vassals and puppets. When they finally confront their own decay and internal dissolution they have to decide whether to engage in a last global conflagration or dismantle the imperial barbaric order and choose justice, law and civilization.

Aug 142013
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

Representative democracies and autocratic dictatorships respond to profound internal crises in very distinctive ways: the former attempts to reason with citizens, explaining the causes, consequences and alternatives; dictatorships attempt to terrorize, intimidate and distract the public by evoking bogus external threats, to perpetuate and justify rule by police state methods and avoid facing up to the self-inflicted crises.

Such a bogus fabrication is evident in the Obama regime’s current announcements of an imminent global “terrorist threat”[1] in the face of multiple crises, policy failures and defeats throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest Asia.

Internet ‘Chatter’ Evokes a Global Conspiracy and Revives the Global War on Terror

The entire terror conspiracy propaganda blitz, launched by the Obama regime and propagated by the mass media, is based on the flimsiest sources imaginable, the most laughable pretext. According to White House sources, the National Security Agency, the CIA and other spy agencies claimed to have monitored and intercepted unspecified Al-Qaeda threats, conversations by two Al Qaeda figures including Ayman al Zawahiri[2].

Most damaging, the Obama regime’s claim of a global threat by al-Qaeda, necessitating the shutdown of 19 embassies and consuls and a world-wide travelers alert, flies in the face of repeated public assertions over the past five years that Washington has dealt ‘mortal blows’ to the terrorist organization crippling its operative capacity[3] and citing the US “military successes” in Afghanistan and Iraq, its assassination of Bin Laden, the drone attacks in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and the US-backed invasion of Libya.  Either the Obama regime was lying in the past or its current terror alert is a fabrication. If, as Obama and the NSA currently claim, Al Qaeda has re-emerged as a global terrorist threat, then twelve years of warfare in Afghanistan and eleven years of war in Iraq, the spending of $1.46 trillion dollars, the loss of over seven thousand US soldiers[4] and the physical and psychological maiming of over a hundred thousand US combatants has been a total and unmitigated disaster and the so-called war on terror is a failure.

The claim of a global terror threat, based on NSA surveillance of two Yemen-based Al Qaeda leaders, is as shallow as it is implausible. Every day throughout cyberspace one or another Islamist terrorist group or individual discuss terror plots, fantasies and plans of no great consequence.

The Obama regime fails to explain why, out of thousands of daily internet ‘conversations’, this particular one, at this particular moment, represents an ongoing viable terrorist operation. One does not need a million spies to pick up jihadist chatter about “attacking Satan”.

For over a decade, Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen have been engaging in a proxy war with Washington-backed regimes and over the same time the Obama regime has been engaged in drone and Special Forces assassination mission against Yemeni militants and opposition figures[5]. In other words, the Obama regime has magnified commonplace events, related to an ongoing conflict known to the public, into a new global terrorist threat as revealed by his spymasters because of their high powered espionage prowess!

It is more than obvious that the Obama regime is engaged in a global fabrication designed to distract world public opinion and, in particular, the majority of US citizens, from police state spying and violations of basic constitutional freedoms.

By evoking a phony “terrorist threat” and its detection by the NSA, Obama hopes to re-legitimate his discredited police state apparatus.

More important, by raising the specter of a global terrorist threat, the Obama regime seeks to cover-up the most disreputable policies, despicable “show trials” and harsh imprisonment of government whistle blowers and political, diplomatic and military defeats and failures which have befallen the empire in the present period.

The Timing of the Fabrication of the Global Terror Threat

In recent years the US public has grown weary of the cost and inconclusive nature of the ‘global war on terror’, or GWOT.  Public opinion polls support the withdrawal of troops from overseas wars and back domestic social programs over military spending and new invasions. Yet the Obama regime, aided and abetted by the pro-Israel power configuration, in and out of the government, engages in constant pursuit of war policies aimed at Iran, Syria, Lebanon and any other Moslem country opposed to Israel’s erasure of Arab Palestine. The “brilliant” pro-war strategists and advisers in the Obama regime have pursued military and diplomatic policies which have led to political disasters, monstrous human rights violations and the gutting of US constitutional protections guaranteed to its citizens. To continue the pursuit of repeated failed policies, a gargantuan police state has been erected to spy, control and represses US citizens and overseas countries, allies and adversaries.

The “terror threat” fabrication occurs at a time and in response to the deepening international crisis and the political impasse facing the Obama regime – a time of deepening disenchantment among domestic and overseas public opinion and increasing pressure from the Israel Firsters to continue to press forward with the military agenda.

The single most devastating blow to the police state buildup are the documents made public by the NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, which revealed the vast worldwide network of NSA spying in violation of US constitutional freedoms and the sovereignty of countries. The revelations have discredited the Obama regime, provoked conflicts within and between allies, and strengthened the position of adversaries and critics of the US Empire.

Leading regional organizations, like MERCOSUR in Latin America, have attacked ‘cyber-imperialism’; the EU countries have questioned the notion of ‘intelligence cooperation’. Even dozens of US Congress people have called for reform and cutbacks in NSA funding.

The “terror threats” are timed by Obama to neutralize the Snowden revelations and justify the spy agency and its vast operations.

The Bradley Manning “show trial”, in which a soldier is tortured, often with forced nudity, in solitary confinement for almost a year, imprisoned for three years before his trial and publically prejudged by President Obama, numerous legislators and mass media (precluding any semblance of ‘fairness’), for revealing US war crimes against Iraqi and Afghan civilians, evoked mass protests the world over. Obama’s “terror threat” is trotted out to coincide with the pre-determined conviction of Manning in this discredited judicial farce and to buttress the argument that his exposure of gross US war crimes “served the enemy” (rather than the American public who Manning repeatedly has said deserve to know about the atrocities committed in its name). By re-launching the “war on terror” and intimidating the US public, the Obama regime is trying to discredit Bradley Manning’s heroic revelations of documented US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing on nebulous Al Qaeda terror threats over the internet!

In the international political arena, Obama has suffered a series of repeated political and diplomatic defeats with far-reaching implications for his fanatical empire building project.  The Obama-backed and Al Qaeda-led Islamist mercenary invasion of the sovereign nation of Syria has suffered a series of military defeats and his proxy jihadist ‘freedom-fighters’ have been denounced by most prestigious human rights groups for their massacres and ethnic cleansing of civilian populations in Syria (especially Christians, Kurds, Alevis and secular Syrians). Obama’s Syrian ‘adventure’ has backfired, and is clearly unleashing a new generation of Islamist terrorists, armed by the Gulf States – especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, trained by Turkish and NATO Special Forces and now available for global terrorist “assignments” against US client states, Europe and the US itself. In turn the Syrian debacle has had a major impact on Obama’s NATO ally, Turkey, where mass protests are challenging Prime Minister Erdogan’s military support for Islamist mercenaries, based along the Turkish border with Syria. Erdogan’s savage repression of hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors, the arbitrary arrest of thousands of pro-democracy activists and his own “show trials” of hundreds of journalists, military officials, students, intellectuals and trade unionists, has certainly discredited Obama’s main “democratic Islamist” ally and undermined Washington’s attempt to anchor its dominance via a triangular alliance of Israel, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies.

Further discredit of Obama’s foreign policy of co-opting Islamist “electoral regimes” has occurred in Egypt and is pending in Tunisia. Obama’s post-Mubarak policy in Egypt looked to a “power sharing” arrangement between the democratically elected President Morsi of the Moslem Brotherhood, the Mubarak-era military and neo-liberal politicians, like Mohamed El Baradei. Instead, General Sistani grabbed power via the army, overthrowing and jailing the civilian President Morsi. The Egyptian army under Sistani has massacred peaceful pro-democracy Muslim protestors and purged the parliament, press and   independent voices. Forced to choose between the military dictatorship composed of the henchman of the former Mubarak dictatorship and the mass-based Muslim Brotherhood, US Secretary of State John Kerry backed the military take-over as a “transition to democracy” (steadfastly refusing to use the term ‘coup d’état’). This has opened wide the door to a period of mass repression and resistance in Egypt and severely weakened a key link in the “axis of reaction” in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt).

Obama’s incapacity to deal with the new peace overtures by the recently elected President Rouhani in Iran was evident in the Administrations capitulation to a Congressional vote (420 – 20) in favor of further and more severe sanctions designed, according to the bill’s AIPAC authors, to “strangle the Iranian oil economy”. Secretary of State Kerry’s offer to “negotiate” with Iran, under a US-imposed blockade and economic sanctions, was seen in Teheran, and by most independent observers, as an empty theatrical gesture, of little consequence. Obama’s failure to check the Israeli-Zionist stranglehold on US foreign policy toward Iran and to strike a deal ensuring a nuclear-weapon-free Iran, ensures that the region will continue to be a political and military powder keg. Obama’s appointments of prominent Zionist zealots to strategic Middle East policy positions ensures that the US and the Obama regime have no options for Iran, Palestine, Syria or Lebanon– except to follow the options dictated by Tel Aviv directly to its US agents, the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, who along with their insider Zionist collaborators, co-author the Middle East policy script for the US Congress and the White House.

The Obama regime’s Israeli-Palestine peace negotiations are seen by most observers as the most distorted and bizarre efforts to date in that cruel farce.  Washington has purchased the leaders of the Palestinian ‘Authority’ with multi-million dollar handouts and gave way to Israel’s accelerated land grabbing in the occupied West Bank and ‘Jews only’ settlement construction, as well as the mass eviction of 40,000 Bedouins within Israel itself.

To ensure the desired result – a total fiasco, Obama appointed one of the most fanatical of pro-Israeli zealots in Washington as its “mediator”, the tri-national Martin Indyk, known in diplomatic circles as “Israel’s lawyer” (and the first US Ambassador to be stripped of security clearance for mishandling documents.)

The breakdown of the negotiations is foretold.  Obama, caught in the web of his own long-term reactionary alliances and loyalties and obsessed with military solutions, has developed a knack for engaging in prolonged losing wars, multiplying enemies and alienating allies.

Conclusion

The result of prolonged unpopular wars of aggression has been the massive built-up of a monstrous domestic police state, pervasive spying around the world and the commission of egregious violations of the US Constitution. This, in turn, has led to crudely concocted “terror plots” to cover-up the repeated foreign policy failures and to slander and persecute courageous whistle blowers and threaten other decent American patriots. The recent declaration of another vast ‘terror plot’, which served to justify the illegal activities of US spy agencies and ‘unify Congress’, produced hysteria lasting less than a week. Subsequently, reports began to trickle in, even in the obedient US mass media, discrediting the basis of the alleged global terror conspiracy. According to one report, the much-ballyhooed ‘Al Qaeda plot’ turned out to be a failed effort to blow-up an oil terminal and oil pipeline in Yemen. According to regional observers: “Pipelines are attacked nearly weekly in Yemen”[6] And so an unsuccessful jihadist attack against a pipeline in a marginal part of the poorest Arab state morphed into President Obama’s breathless announcement of a global terrorist threat! An outrageous joke has been played on the President, his Administration and his Congressional followers. But during this great orchestrated ‘joke’, Obama unleashed a dozen drone assassination attacks against human targets of his own choosing, killing dozens of Yemeni citizens, including many innocent bystanders.

What is even less jocular is that Obama, the Master of Deceit, just moves on. His proposed “reforms” are aimed to retrench NSA activities; he insists on continuing the “bulk collection” (hundreds of millions) of US citizens’ telephone communications (FT 8/12/13 p2). He retains intact the massive police state spy apparatus, keeps his pro-Israel policymakers in strategic positions, reaffirms his policy of confrontation with Iran and escalates tensions with Russia, China and Venezuela. Obama embraces a new wave of military dictatorships, starting, but not ending, with Egypt.

In the face of diminishing support at home and abroad and the declining credibility of  his crude “terror” threats, one wonders if the ever-active clandestine apparatus would actually stage its own real-life bloody act of terror, a secret state supported ‘false-flag’ bombing, to convince an increasingly disenchanted and skeptical public? Such would be a desperate act for the State, but these are desperate times facing a failed Administration, pursuing losing wars in which the Masters of Defeat can now only rely on the Masters of Deceit.

The Obama regime is infested with the “toxic politics of terrorism” and this addiction has driven him to persecute, torture and imprison truth seekers, whistle blowers and true patriots who strive (and will continue to strive) to awaken the sleeping giant, in hopes that the people of America will arise again.

Reposted with permission from the author, James Petras.

NOTES:

[1] BBC News 8/16/13; Al Jazeera 9/16/13

[2] La Jornada (Mexico City) 8/16/13, p. 22;FINANCIAL TIMES 8/10-11/13”T he exact threat to US missions has yet to be made public..”

[3] Financial Times 8/8/13, p. 2  and Financial Times 8/10-11 2013 p 2; McClatchy Washington Bureau 8/5/13

[4] Information Clearing House Web Page

[5] Financial Times 8/8/13, p. 2.

[6] Financial Times, 8/8/13, p. 2.

May 242012
 

 

* NATO PROTESTS – CHICAGO 2012

By Tall Tale Productions

Shot between May 18 – May 21 throughout the city.

I came in as an unbiased observer in attendance only to document. Footage is edited out of context for entertainment purposes only. Any assumptions on the motives or actions shown within are unintentional. Music is property of its creators and only the footage is considered copyright to Tall Tale Productions, LLC.

Music:
Viaggio Notturno – Balmorhea
A Familiar Taste & On We March – The Social Network OST (Trent Reznor)

VIDEO @ http://vimeo.com/42578179

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* NATO TALKS A SHAM

By Dennis Kucinich, Reader Supported News

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not a benevolent organization. NATO is not about the North Atlantic and it’s not about our collective defense.

NATO is a cost-sharing organization that finances aggressive military action. By hiding behind the claim that the organization provides for ‘common defense,’ NATO allows us to wage wars of choice under the guise of international peacekeeping. The most recent example was the unconstitutional war in Libya where NATO, operating under a United Nations mandate to protect civilians, instead backed one side in a civil war and pursued a policy of regime change.

Today, NATO leaders are meeting in Chicago to discuss the future of Afghanistan. The talks are being billed as discussions of plans to end the war. The war in Afghanistan is not ending. These talks are simply about financing the next phase of the war. […]

READ @ http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/268-35/11554-nato-talks-a-sham

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KUCINICH: U.S. ‘SANCTION WARFARE’ MAKES REAL IRAN WAR INEVITABLE

Source: RT

War mentality has saturated Washington and arms merchants want to benefit, says Congressman (d) Dennis Kucinich. He opposes sanctions against Tehran that could lead to war, and is sure the US should forget about trying to conquer other countries.

VIDEO and TRANSCRIPT @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=SjSGFQYZAm0

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* INTER OCCUPY STATEMENT ON NATO PROTESTS

By Io Joan, InterOccupy

The protests in Chicago show that Occupy is a network committed to social change through direct action. Arguably,the policies of NATO benefit Americans the most, so to march against NATO in America is a very strong statement against war and how it perpetuates uneven capitalist development. At NATO, the rich and powerful decide which  countries will be unified, which they will ignore or refuse aid, and those they will invade.  NATO is both a military alliance and an instigator of severe repression as its policies ensure the reign of the global north over countries who adopt other economic systems. This history of NATO shows that it began as an arrangement to suppress communism, but it now endures to secure the profits of multinational corporations.

As for this weekend, perhaps mirroring the military strategy of NATO, the protests were over-policed and extremely violent.  Police beat and sprayed non-violent protesters with impunity. Those who were live streaming events were pulled over by police, detained, and harassed. Others had their homes invaded and have been accused of terrorism. Several participants in the Occupy movement who traveled to Chicago reported being followed by unmarked police vans as they moved about the city. In another instance, travelers who intended to camp in a backyard were met with police condemning the back porch and requiring them to move along. When real police oppression is happening, it becomes difficult to focus on the policies of NATO as the target of protest activities. But, those from the Occupy movement went to Chicago to support the Nurse’s Union’s call for a Robin Hood Tax, to support veterans’ calls to end all wars, and to raise awareness that NATO is the army of the 1%.

Moving forward, the more the Occupy movement converges at these large-scale protests, the more fundamentally influential we will become on setting the national political agenda. Practice makes perfect as the saying goes.  People that resist together form dense ties and begin to trust each other’s judgement.  These are the moments where movements crystallize and become strongly aligned in vision and goals. Those who met in Chicago will have ample opportunities to rally again as plans are in the works to protest the DNC and RNC as well as the November elections. In addition, an open and transparent national gathering in Philly is happening on July 4th.

READ @ http://interoccupy.org/interoccupy-statement-on-nato-protests/

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* NATO IN CHICAGO: PROTESTS ARE HERE TO STAY, AND THE WARMAKERS ARE AFRAID

By Mark Harris, OpEdNews

[…] The Chicago protests also highlight just how tense and repressive the political landscape has become. Every social protest in every American city now is met with a massive, militarized police mobilization. The Chicago police presence even included police brought in from other states, with the National Guard nearby in reserve.

Yet the large majority of the protesters were peaceful. As for the exception of the so-called Black Bloc, their justifiable ire toward the state is largely reduced to running infantile street skirmishes with police. They play into the hands of the mayor’s office, the police, and the alleged journalists in the local broadcast media, the latter of whom just can’t wait to congratulate the police on their “remarkable restraint” and a “job well done.” This they do when not busy reporting with solemn authority the latest dubious “terrorist” plot cracked by the local authorities. It’s at moments like this, when politics heats up, that we realize how much news is just propaganda, the gist of which in this case seems designed to persuade the locals that the crazed protestors are just not like the rest of us.

How skittish and insecure the moneyed political establishment has become. More evidence of this came from Mayor Emanuel’s last-minute effort to deny the permit for the nurses rally at Daley Plaza, moving it to Grant Park ostensibly on logistical grounds that popular musician Tom Morello would draw too big a crowd. Thanks to the nurses refusal to be cowed, that attempt at petty intimidation failed.

More folly was to be found in the paranoid response of some Chicago downtown corporate offices, which Crain’s Chicago Business (May 8) reports were advising employees to “dress like protesters” during the summit, lest they be targeted by crazed mobs of rampaging dissenters. There’s a certain Midwestern, middle-management mentality involved in that advice, one that views protesters as just wackos who don’t like “The Man,” which must mean anybody who dresses nicely and carries a briefcase.

The liberal Democratic mayors who methodically repressed the Occupy Wall Street encampments in city after city last fall, no doubt coordinated with federal assistance, understood something. A living, breathing round-the-clock protest against an unjust political and economic system is intolerable. It’s intolerable because, like their Republican counterparts, the liberal Democratic establishment has few answers to the bleak reality of how hard it has become to make an adequate living or find a decent job or expect a peaceful world or just have some damn hope for the future. Even at its best the “free market” capitalism espoused by both parties cannot offer stability and peace for the majority of the people. But no one in power wants to talk about alternatives.

The spontaneous explosion of the Occupy Wall Street protests last fall was the frustrated spirit of the grassroots organizing that swept Barack Obama into office in 2008 finally set free. Spend any time now with the young Occupy activists, watch their press conferences or read their statements, and it’s clear we’ve entered a new era of social activism, one defined by a lively and energetic resistance to social and economic injustices. Most important, it’s also an era of international social protest, as we are seeing from Egypt to Tunisia, Greece to Spain and elsewhere. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/articles/NATO-in-Chicago-Protests-by-Mark-Harris-120522-823.html

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* HOW PROTEST IS BEING OUTLAWED

Source: Democratic Underground

The narrative of public dissent is being rewritten with astonishing speed. As police continue to crack heads with impunity, peaceful protesters are handed down harsh deterrent charges. Ten defendants in the Fortnum and Mason trial were recently given six-month suspended sentences for aggravated trespass, essentially for standing around in a grocery shop with some leaflets. I was there at the time, and the worst I saw was some slogans against corporate tax avoidance being carefully wrapped on printed ticker-tape around large stacks of Earl Grey tea. For those swept up in last year’s riots, meanwhile, there hasn’t been a crumb of mercy. As I write, teenagers are still in prison for creating Facebook events.

Whatever we think about how these young people behaved, we should have the decency to call them what they are: political prisoners. That this government has run out of ideas for enforcing austerity beyond frightening people into compliance may be of little comfort to those whose young lives and job prospects will be blighted by deterrent jail sentences. […]

READ @ http://www.democraticunderground.com/101629072

ALSO READ @ http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/laurie-penny/2012/03/police-protest-meadows-public

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* HOW TO BUY A POLITICIAN

Source: The Young Turks

How do politicians (both Republicans and Democrats) cash in after they leave office? How does this legalized bribery corrupt the American government? The Young Turks host Cenk Uygur breaks down examples showing of the influence of money on our political system.

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=0swbTrW5zEA

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* REVENGE OF THE WEEDS

Plant pests are evolving to outsmart common herbicides, costing farmers crops and money.

By Amy Coombs, The Scientist

In January, a hair-raising infestation of the kochia shrub was confirmed in Alberta, Canada. Originally introduced to desert climates as forage for cattle, the tenacious weed can now survive glyphosate, which targets an enzyme involved in the biosynthesis of aromatic compounds. It can also withstand chemicals that inhibit the ALS enzyme, involved in the production of amino acids. At least 2,000 acres are now impacted, and “we expect more cases will be confirmed after a field survey this fall,” says Hugh Beckie of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the government department that manages farming policies.

The United States are also being taken by storm. Palmer amaranth recently developed resistance to the same two classes of chemicals in Tennessee. Since 2009, the tall, spindly weed has swept across 1 million acres of cropland, causing some farmers to abandon their fields. And in California, a plant named hairy fleabane recently crept into vineyards. It is now able to withstand both glyphosate and Paraquat—a chemical that hijacks photons from proteins involved in photosynthesis.

Worldwide, 23 weed species have developed glyphosate resistance, and at least 10 of these have also developed resistance to other herbicides, according to the International Survey of Herbicide Resistant Weeds. And Bill Freese, of the Center for Food Safety in Washington, DC, believes these numbers underestimate the problem. In order for a weed to be listed as resistant, it must survive four times the concentration used to kill susceptible plants. “Some weeds tolerate lower levels of glyphosate, and these also have a big impact in the field,” he says.

Weed infestations are more of a nuisance than a monstrosity—but they are biting into farmer’s pocketbooks. In Alabama, 61 percent of soybean fields are infested with glyphosate-resistant Palmer amaranth, costing farmers $71 million a year in lost yields, and 80 percent of the state’s cotton is also infested, with losses now totaling $10.9 million. […]

READ @ http://the-scientist.com/2012/05/20/revenge-of-the-weeds/

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* FRENCH BAN OF MONSANTO 

The EU’s food safety body ruled there is ‘no specific scientific evidence’ that the insect-resistant strain is harmful to health or the environment

By Adam Vaughan, Guardian UK

France’s attempt to ban the planting of a Monsanto strain of genetically modified maize was rejected by the EU’s food safety body on Monday.

In response to scientific evidence submitted by France backing its bid to ban the GM maize, the European Food Safety Authority ruled that “there is no specific scientific evidence, in terms of risk to human and animal health or the environment” to support a ban.

In 2008, France banned the the strain MON 810 following public protests against the GM maize, but this was overturned by a French court in 2011. However, in March the French government reinstated the ban, with the then agricultural minister Bruno Le Maire saying the move was “to protect the environment”. […]

READ @ http://the-scientist.com/2012/05/20/revenge-of-the-weeds/ 

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* THE PITS OF HELL

Source: Common Wonders

[…] The likelihood is that he was exposed to the smoke emanating from burn pits. Most U.S. bases in Afghanistan, and until recently in Iraq, operate a burn pit 24/7. Everything no longer needed in the war effort is consumed in such pits. This includes medical waste, ammunition, amputated body parts, feces, paints and solvents, electronic equipment, old tires, plastics, lithium batteries, whole vehicles, jet fuel — and just about everything else under the sun, possbily including military equipment containing radioactive material.

“The American military will likely insist that it strictly controls the disposal of radioactive waste, but such assertions are not credible,” former U.S. Air Force Captain Matthew J. Nasuti wrote two years ago in an article published by the Kabul Press. “While there are strict regulations, the time and cost of complying with them in a war zone are such that base commanders in Afghanistan most likely ignored them, opting instead for throwing the waste into burn pits.”

While the Pentagon has continually denied there’s any evidence linking the burn pits with health problems, the website Danger Room recently obtained a 2011 Army memo stating that the pit at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan may cause “long-term adverse health conditions” for the troops there, increasing their risk of “reduced lung function or exacerbated chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, asthma, atherosclerosis, or other cardiopulmonary diseases.” […]

READ @ http://commonwonders.com/world/the-pits-of-hell/

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* ITALY’S PRESIDENT WARNS OF A RETURN OF 1970s-STYLE VIOLENCE

Italy risks falling back into the kind of political violence that scarred the country during the 1970s, President Giorgio Napolitano said on Wednesday at a commemoration for anti-mafia judge Giovanni Falcone who was murdered 20 years ago.

By James Mackenzie, Reuters

Speaking days after a deadly bomb attack on a school named after Falcone’s wife, who died with him in a huge explosion set off by mafia killers on May 23, 1992, Napolitano said Italy faced a deadly threat to its future.

He warned that organized crime groups could try to profit from the widespread mood of uncertainty and discontent caused by the economic crisis to provoke a return to the kind of bloody upheaval seen in the 1970s “Years of Lead”.

“The mafia, Cosa Nostra and other forms of organized crime remain a serious problem for Italian society and thus for democracy,” he said at the Ucciardone prison in Palermo, Sicily, scene of a trial led by Falcone of hundreds of mafiosi in the 1980s. […]

READ @ http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/05/23/us-italy-mafia-idUSBRE84M0ZP20120523

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* EXPLODING THE MYTH OF THE FECKLESS, LAZY GREEKS

Stereotypes and untruths are everywhere, but this economic crisis is not the self-inflicted result of a lax Mediterranean work ethic

By Alex Andreou, NewStatesman

[…] Here is the first myth: This crisis is made in Greece. It is not. It is the inevitable fallout of the global crisis which started in 2008.

Are there features in the Greek economy which made it particularly vulnerable? Yes – there is rampant corruption, bad management, systemic problems, a black market. All this has been explored ad nauseam. There are other factors, too; rarely mentioned. The crisis came at particularly bad time for Greece – four years after this tiny economy overextended in order to put on a giant Olympics and prove to the world it had “arrived”. When the crisis came, the country lacked the monetary and fiscal mechanisms to deal with it, because of its membership of the single currency.

However, all of the above are contributing factors – nothing more or less. The catalyst was the behaviour of the financial sector after the crisis. Here is what Angela Merkel had to say in February 2010, when the “Greek problem” started to rear its head, as reported by Bloomberg:

German Chancellor Angela Merkel criticized market speculation against the euro, saying that financial institutions bailed out with public funds are exploiting the budget crisis in Greece and elsewhere. In a speech in Hamburg, she hit out at currency speculators, who she said are taking advantage of debt piled up by euro-area governments to combat the financial crisis. “The debt that had to be accumulated, when it was going badly, is now becoming the object of speculation by precisely those institutions that we saved a year-and-a-half ago. That’s very difficult to explain to people in a democracy who should trust us.” […]

READ @ http://www.newstatesman.com/blogs/world-affairs/2012/05/exploding-myth-feckless-lazy-greeks