Monthly Archives: April 2011

Polls Show Canadian Election Surprise

African Countries Develop Alternative to IMF Strategy

Reframing the Israel/Palestine conflict: an interview with Ilan Pappe

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Thom Hartmann vs. David Selig: What’s wrong with paying people a living wage?

AVTM Royal Wedding Spectacular

Bomb blast in Morocco: Who benefits from the crime?

Written by our correspondent in Morocco Friday, 29 April 2011

Yesterday, a bomb killed 16 people at the historic centre of Marrakesh. Most of the people killed were sitting in a café overlooking Marrakesh’s Jamaa el-Fnaa square, a place that is often packed with foreign tourists.

It would be difficult to find a more emblematic target than this square which is promoted worldwide by the Moroccan Ministry of Tourism. Most of the victims are foreigners.

The terrorist attack seems to have been carried by one or two suicide bombers. This is the first terrorist attack since the blast in May 2003 which killed 43 people in Casablanca. So far now nobody has officially claimed the attack. In 2003 the attack was carried out by 12 members of an Islamic terrorist network, local activists of Al Quaeda.

The government used the brutal killing eight years ago to reverse the timid democratic reforms initiated when the new king came to power.

The attack signalled the start of a general onslaught on all kinds of Muslim activists and set in motion the dismantling of real or imagined networks of terrorists. More importantly it was the excuse to curtail democratic rights and freedoms, threaten the freedom the press, etc. The regime used the general popular revulsion against the terrorist attack to gather the whole of the population around it in the name of national unity. It thus strengthened its legitimacy, temporarily at least, and justified an increase of repression against social protests quickly branded as ‘terrorism’.

Revolutionary context

The regional and national political context that this attack has taken place in is completely different from that of eight years ago. Now Morocco is gripped by an unprecedented wave of national political protests demanding an end to the despotic regime. The youth is highly politicised and there is a revival of the class struggle in some sectors (such as education).

The region is witnessing a wave of revolutionary events which has already led to the downfall of the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt. The national days of protests culminated last week on Sunday, April 24 in demonstrations in 100 different cities and villages across the country.

The movement is still spreading and has rejected the manoeuvres of the King, who has promised ‘constitutional reform’. Despite official denials, the regime is clearly considering the possibility that it too may be overthrown, as has happened in other countries in the Middle East, and it is fighting back.

On yesterday’s bomb blast “security experts” said the attack was in line with Islamist militants’ previous attempts – most of them disrupted by security services – to undermine Morocco’s rulers by targeting the tourism industry.

“The majority of plots are detected in their early stages because Moroccan authorities retain a very effective network of informants right down to street level,” said Anna Murison of Exclusive Analysis.

“However, the regular recurrence of plots… mean it is likely that a few will slip through the net,” she said.

Last week, men claiming to be Moroccan members of al Qaeda’s north African wing appeared in a video posted on YouTube threatening to attack Moroccan interests.

A masked speaker, who identified himself as Abu Abdulrahman, said the planned attacks were to avenge the detention of Islamists by Moroccan authorities. (Source: Reuters).

Strategy of tension

The Minister of Communication Khalid Naciri told the media that, “Morocco is now confronted with the same threats as in May 2003 and will react with diligence.” The message is clear!

Why is it that during eight years no attack has taken place and only now a bomb kills tourists and local Moroccans alike in probably one of the most protected and policed areas of Morocco? Why does this happen now in the middle of the biggest political challenge to the regime by the the revolutionary youth movement? Many activists in the 20F youth movement point an accusing finger in the direction of the regime.

Suspicion is growing that the security services could have deliberately let slip a terrorist cell through its network. Or it could have manipulated some of the Islamic youth to bomb the tourist square. This resembles the famous “strategy of tension” used by the Italian bourgeois between 1964 and 1980.

By a series of secret services sponsored terrorist attacks it wants to create a climate of political violence that would then justify more repression and an authoritarian regime. If you ask the question “Who benefits from the crime?”, you very often find the perpetrator. This attack is clearly benefiting the besieged regime in Morocco.

Last night after weeks of almost no repression of the protests, there were reports on the many facebook pages of brutal police charges in Tetuan and Meknez. In the evening the police entered the Faculty of Literature in Meknez and attacked the students. Some were arrested ,others were wounded. In Tetuan, at 1am the peaceful sit-in in solidarity with the prisoners of the 20F demonstrations in front of the court was baton charged by the police.

It is not clear yet if this a general pattern throughout the rest of the country. But it is surely a warning from the regime: “Don’t think you are demonstrating in Switzerland. You are in Morocco and we are still the rulers.” A week ago the regime and its media tried to stir up a chauvinistic campaign against the Polisario, but it failed to take off amongst the masses.

This terror attack benefits the regime to the extent that if will be used to justify the repression against the protest movement. It will surely be used to try to rally the population around the King, at a moment when his regime is buckling.

The King will present himself as the only person and institution able to guarantee calm and stability in the country. The immediate effect, however, is that it will increase the tensions and harden the relations between the revolutionary youth and the regime. The youth again will not be fooled. A new stage of the revolution has opened up in Morocco.

Obama’s Birth Certificate: Not the Issue [Voltaire Network]

Obama’s Birth Certificate: Not the Issue [Voltaire Network].

Wal-Mart’s Shocking Impact on the Lives of Hundreds of Millions of People | Economy | AlterNet

Wal-Mart’s Shocking Impact on the Lives of Hundreds of Millions of People | Economy | AlterNet.

Syrian Ba’ath Party Members Quit in Protest of Killings

Bernanke presser, Union hypocrisy & partisanship, Rand Paul calls out Trump,

U.S. Needs its Own ‘Arab Spring’ to Counter Power of Pro-Israel Lobby

By Pam Bailey and Medea Benjamin

April 27, 2011 “Information Clearing House” — We spent a lot of time in the Middle East this year, during what history will surely regard as the equivalent of a seismic earthquake. In country after country, people rose up and either forced from power tyrants propped up by the United States or put them on the defensive, promising reform after reform in the vain hope of convincing their constituents to go back to sleep.

But the “Arab Street” is awakened from its slumber now, and there is no turning back. The revolt that swept through Tunisia and Egypt, and that is continuing now through Yemen, Libya, Syria and Bahrain, should be a wake-up call for both the U.S. government and the remaining dictators.

One of the most glaring examples of how U.S. policy is out of step is its unwavering support for Israel, even in the face of increasingly rash and alienating behavior – such as the ongoing expansion of its illegal settlements and the murder of nine Turkish internationals in last year’s Free Gaza Flotilla. As we saw recently in the demonstration of Egyptians in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, human rights and freedom for Palestinians are core concerns for Arabs. Once the U.S.-friendly rulers are deposed, or even if they barely retain power, the people’s empathy towards the Palestinians will have to be addressed. A knee-jerk defense of Israel by the U.S. government – or by Arab governments – will become increasingly untenable.

For too long, U.S. foreign policy has been skewed by a fear of offending Israel – or rather, the Israeli government and its right-wing arm in the United States, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). On May 22, AIPAC will kick off its annual policy conference in Washington, DC, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a keynote speaker.  Already, American politicians are lining up for a spot at the podium. Last year, President Barack Obama sent a high-level liaison – Secretary of State Hillary Clinton – to the confab and is likely to do so again this year. Speaker of the House John Boehner and the majority leader for both the House and Senate are confirmed speakers, and hundreds of other elected officials will make an appearance.

Why such a rush to appear at this particular policy conference when similar events are ubiquitous in Washington? To spell it out bluntly, AIPAC has shown its ability to make and break political careers. Offend AIPAC and your opponent will be generously funded. Befriend AIPAC and you may well be richly rewarded in campaign contributions. According to the Center for Responsive Politics, pro-Israel political action committees – most of which are affiliated with AIPAC – contributed nearly $12 million to political candidates in the 2009-2010 election cycle. One senator alone, Mark Kirk (R-IL), received $553,698. 

What does all that money buy? It’s difficult to trace the dollars directly to votes, but one can only assume it is a primary explanation for Obama’s instructions to UN Ambassador Susan Rice on Feb. 8 to use the American veto to overrule the other 14 Security Council members, all of whom voted for a resolution condemning as illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

That single vote accelerated the loss of faith that began almost immediately after Obama’s famous “message to the Muslim world” in Cairo in 2009, when he boldly proclaimed, “The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements. This construction violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace. It is time for these settlements to stop.” U.S. credibility has crashed since then as the Obama administration failed to back up its words with Netanyahu.

Perhaps the disappointment of the Arab world is best captured by a poster we saw during the revolution in Cairo.  It read: “Obama, we don’t want to hate you.”  Likewise, Palestinians we talked to were crestfallen when they received the news that the U.S. vetoed the UN vote on settlements; they were not surprised that they had been betrayed once again, but were disappointed nevertheless. Hope dies hard.

The U.S. is preparing to repeat this mistake by voting against recognition of Palestine (based on the 1967 borders) as an independent state if it comes to a vote in the UN General Assembly this fall. Most members — more than 100 countries — are expected to vote yes, leaving the United States alone with Israel in the pariah corner.

If the United States wants to remain an influential voice in the Middle East – the heartland of oil and geopolitics – it must adjust to the shifting sands. It’s time to publicly acknowledge that Israel’s intransigence and the resulting injustice and lawbreaking must not be ours. And that means practicing some “tough love” that goes beyond talk – including joining the global community in Israel-related votes at the UN and putting a hold on the $3 billion in yearly military assistance we provide.

An interim step we can take to ease the way for congresspersons overly dependent on lobbyists and their contributions is to counter the outsized and outdated influence of AIPAC. That’s why more than 100 peace and justice groups have taken a page from the Arab playbook and launched a people-power movement of our own, called “Move Over AIPAC: Building a New Middle East Policy.”  We will meet to discuss alternative views and make those views known as AIPAC convenes in Washington DC’s Convention Center.

It’s time for the people to show the way. If the Egyptians were able to overthrow Hosni Mubarak, the American people should be able to get out from under the boot of AIPAC.

Pam Bailey is a freelance journalist and social entrepreneur who frequently writes from the Middle East. She is the co-founder of the DC metro chapter of the International Solidarity Movement (

Medea Benjamin is cofounder of Global Exchange ( and CODEPINK: Women for Peace ( She is a principal organizer of

Take action by attending Move Over AIPAC, a gathering in Washington DC from May 21-24, 2011, to expose AIPAC and build the vision for a new US foreign policy in

t the Middle East! More information can be found at

Shadow of Syrian Conflict Stretching into Lebanon

By Robert Fisk

Independent” — -Every night, Syrian state television is a horror show. Naked corpses with multiple bullet wounds, backs of heads sliced off. All Syrian soldiers, it insists, murdered by “the treacherous armed criminal gangs” near Deraa.

One of the bodies — of a young officer in his twenties — has had his eyes gouged out. Knives appear to have been used on the soldiers, the commentary tells us. There seems no doubt that the bodies are real and little doubt that they are indeed members of the Syrian security” forces — nor that the weeping, distraught parents in the background are indeed their Syrian families.

Pictures show the bodies, washed for burial, taken from the military hospital in Damascus. Their names are known. Mohamed Ali, Ibrahim Hoss, Ahmed Abdullah, Nida al-Hoshi, Basil Ali, Hazem Mohamed Ali, Mohamed Alla are all carried in flag-draped coffins. They are from Tartous, Banias, Aleppo, Damascus. When al-Hoshi’s funeral cortege was passing up the Mediterranean coast road to the north, they were ambushed by “an armed gang”.

It’s easy to be cynical about these pictures and the gloss put on their deaths. Shooting at funerals, after all, has hitherto been the prerogative of the government’s armed cops rather than “armed gangs”. And Syrian tv has shown not a single dead civilian or civilian funeral after the death of perhaps 320 demonstrators in more than a month.

But these reports are important. For if the dead soldiers are victims of revenge killings by outraged families who have lost their loved ones at the hands of the secret police, it means that the opposition is prepared to use force. But if there really are armed groups roaming Syria, then President Bashar Assad’s Baathist regime is on the road to civil war.

Hitherto, the demonstrators — pro-democracy or anti-Bashar or both — have been giving us the story line; their YouTube footage, internet descriptions, the stunning pictures of Syrian T-72 tanks powering through the streets of Deraa have dominated our perception of the all-powerful dictatorship crushing its people in blood. And truth lies behind what they say. After the 1982 slaughter in Hama, no one is in any doubt that Syrian Baathists play by Hama rules. But their explanation for the daily series of macabre pictures on state TV lacks conviction.

According to those bravely trying to get news out of Syria the mutilated bodies are those of Syrian troops who refused to shoot at their own people and who were immediately punished by execution and mutilation by the “shabiha”, the “hoodlums” of Alawi fighters, and then cynically displayed on television to back up false government claims that it is fighting an armed insurgency and that the people of Deraa themselves had invited the army in, to save them from “terrorists”.

Which sounds a little like the flip-side of the government’s own propaganda. Of course, the Syrian authorities have only themselves to blame for their lack of credibility. Having cited “foreign plots”– the explanation of all the region’s potentates when their backs are to the wall — the authorities have banned all foreign journalists from entering Syria to prove or disprove these claims. The ministry of tourism has even been sent a list of Middle East correspondents to ensure that no reporters slip into Syria with a sudden desire to study the Roman ruins of Palmyra.

Thus history is written in rumours which begin, I suppose, with the last words displayed on Syrian television’s evening news: “Martyrs Never Die.” Clearly they do expire, but which martyrs are we talking about? A good tale from Deraa — one without a shred of evidence so far — is that after tanks of the Fourth Army Brigade of Maher Assad (little brother of the president) stormed into the city, elements of the regular army’s Fifth Brigade near Deraa — supposedly commanded by an officer called Rifai, although even this is in dispute — turned their guns on Maher’s invaders. But the Fifth, so the story goes, has no tanks and includes air force personnel who are not allowed to fly their jets. So are there now armed civilians now fighting back in a systematic fashion? In Lebanon, whose capital is closer to Damascus that Deraa, there is growing fear that this bloodshed is only two hours away by road. Syria’s friends in Lebanon are now claiming that the Saudis — allies of the outgoing government in Beirut — have been subventing the revolution in Syria.

One former minister produced copies of cheques for $300,000 (£200,000) supposedly carrying the signature of Prince Turki bin Abdul Aziz, the former Saudi intelligence head — and in that capacity once on good terms with a certain Osama bin Laden — and brother of King Abdullah, and given to Lebanese political figures to instil unrest in Syria.

One of those accused is the former Lebanese minister Mohamed Beydoun. He has said that his accusers are guilty of “incitement to murder” and Prince Turki has indignantly called the cheques “false”. But the Syrian-supported Hezbollah has now endorsed the claim and at least one Lebanese MP, Ahmed Fatfat, has uttered the fateful words. By these accusations against the “Future Movement” — the largest grouping in the outgoing government — he said, “the Hezbollah and its crew are preparing the way for civil war in Lebanon”.

In the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli this Friday, pro and anti-Assad supporters plan demonstrations after morning prayers. Many Lebanese in the north fear that in the event of a civil conflict inside Syria, Tripoli will become a “capital” of northern Syria, though whether it would be a rebel or an Assad stronghold is open to question.

Somewhat more disturbing right now — and much nearer the truth — is that Ali Aid, a rather tough character from the Jebel Mohsen area of the Alawi mountains of Syria, has left his son Rifaat in charge of his proto-militia movement. He has instead built himself a fine villa next to the Syrian-Lebanese border where it runs along the narrow Nahr al-Shemali al-Kbir river in the far north. The problem is that Major Ali Aid is living in his new home — which lies on the Lebanese side of the frontier.

Libya: Fact and fiction

Proof: The “unarmed civilians”, the darlings of Messrs. Obama, Cameron and Sarkozy, are Islamist terrorists. We present photographic evidence, films of a convoy of civilians, including women and children, being fired on by the Bearded Wonders of Benghazi and a peaceful pro-Gaddafy rally in Tripoli attacked by terrorist snipers.

Fact: The Libyan “unarmed civilians” attacked by Government forces are not civilians at all, but instead trained Islamist militants – terrorists and professional troublemakers mixed with CIA-trained operatives who have tried and failed to take power in Libya.

Fact: The leader of the rebels, one Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, was arrested in Pakistan for having links with Al-Qaeda, for fighting against NATO forces in Afghanistan, for recruiting operatives from Benghazi to fight against American and British forces in Afghanistan and in Iraq.

Fact: Muammar Al-Qathafi was to receive a UNO award for his excellent humanitarian record in March. How could he have become a bloodthirsty tyrant in the meantime? He is not fighting unarmed civilians, he is fighting armed Islamist militants.

Fact: Muammar Al-Qathafi has not stolen billions from his country. He has used very little money for his personal gain. The US-led alliance stole 30 billion USD from a bank account, money which was earmarked for African Union plans. Far from siphoning off money for himself, Muammar Al-Qathafi has been setting billions aside to help set up African institutions for Africans.

Fact: Muammar Al-Qathafi has cheesed a lot of Islamist fanatics off by referring to the veil as a tent, for speaking out against stoning of women and for demanding an end to the execution of homosexuals.

Fact: Muammar Al-Qathafi has dissed off a lot of western-based financiers by setting up independent institutions and services for Africans. For example, the communications programme which he financed (instead of siphoning off the money for himself) puts all Africans in touch with one another, for free, brings all Africans into connection with distance learning and tele-medicine programmes, whereas before the Africans had to pay 500 million USD a year for the use of western satellites.

It is the many projects like this, and other financial programmes which have freed Africans from the yolk of imperialist tyranny, but which have cost the western banking elite billions, which have rubbed the elitist cliques up the wrong way.

Fact: Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron face historically low popularity ratings, far below those of Muammar Al-Qathafi, in their own respective countries.

Does all of the above put their little “war” into context? Now, who are the “rebels” they support? The above-mentioned three, joined now by that other pariah, Berlusconi, fighting allegations of sexual abuse of minors, are spending hundreds of millions of dollars of their taxpayers’ money on supporting pigs like al-Hasidi and his troupe of misfits, criminals, looney-toons and terrorists.

On Sunday, a peaceful convoy sent to speak openly with the citizens of Benghazi, including many women and children, was savagely strafed by the “unarmed civilians” near Bin Jawad. Watch the video:

 That is not the end of it.

 Child abuse: children have been sodomised by the Benghazi-based suicide bombers in Iraq, the ones now fighting against Colonel Al-Qathafi, trying to form an Islamist terrorist state at the gates of Europe. Boys and girls as young as eight years of age have fled Benghazi, telling stories of the most shocking physical and sexual abuse, having been raped in front of their families. Read the following extract from the British charity, Save the Children:

“Michael Mahrt, Save the Children’s child protection adviser, said: “The reports of sexual violence against children are unconfirmed, but they are consistent and were repeated across the four camps we visited.

“Children told us they have witnessed horrendous scenes. Some said they saw their fathers murdered and mothers raped. They described things happening to other children, but they may have actually happened to them and they are just too upset to talk about it – it’s a typical coping mechanism used by children who have suffered such abuse.”…”

And now for a pro-Gaddafy peaceful rally in Tripoli attacked by terrorist snipers:

It would appear that the western bought media has the Libya story bottom-up, inside-out or upside-down, polite euphemisms for saying they have purposefully ass-ended it and turned it out as a propaganda story, once again to provide a public opinion base to support their disgusting deeds.

The western interference in Libya is fundamentally wrong and the people of the world must say Enough! It is time the West stopped breaching international law and stopped using lies to further its own selfish interests: in this case, raping this African nation of its resources, the first step to a closer hands-on approach towards this continent, to which Muammar Al-Qathafi tried to give a voice of its own.

Photo: “Unarmed civilians”

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey


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Full Show – 4/26/11. “The People’s Budget”

Full Show – 4/26/11. “The People’s Budget”

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Lies, damn lies, and misreporting about Gitmo detainees

By Stephen Lendman

Post-9/11, The New York Times became the lead misreporting source about Guantanamo detainees, largely characterizing them as dangerous terrorists threatening US security.

For example, on July 25, 2007, (like its many other reports) William Glaberson headlined, “New US study calls Guantanamo captives dangerous,” saying:

A new Pentagon study “argues that large numbers of detainees were a direct threat to United States forces, including Al Qaeda fighters, terrorism-training camp veterans and men who had experience with explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades.”

“It paints a chilling portrait of the Guantanamo detainees, (saying) 95 percent were at the least a ‘potential threat,’ including detainees who had played a supporting role in terrorist groups or had expressed a commitment to pursuing violent jihadist goals.”

More on The Times’ reassessment below.

Under Professor Mark Denbeaux’s direction, Seton Hall University School of Law’s Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published 17 “GTMO Reports,” including profiles of detainees held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government (and media) accounts, characterizing innocent men as dangerous.

An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data (obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the time were “enemy combatants.”

Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20 were children, some as young as 13.

In his first February 2006 report, profiling 517 detainees through analysis of Defense Department (DOD) data, Denbeaux found:

— only 8% “were characterized as al Qaeda fighters;”

— 55% committed no hostile act against US or coalition forces; and

— of the remaining 37%, most had no connection to either Al Qaeda or Taliban forces, based on the Pentagon’s assessment.

In his latest March 2011 report, Denbeaux headlined, “Rumsfeld Knew: DoD’s ‘Worst of the Worst’ and Recidivism Claims Refuted by Recently Declassified Memo,” explaining that:

Rumsfeld’s memo showed he lied, calling into question whether anything he, or other Pentagon officials, said was true. In fact, Denbeaux’s reports refute virtually everything from official and major media sources, exposing their deception in detail. They show the vast majority (perhaps all) Guantanamo prisoners were and still are innocent or “low-value” detainees, posing no terrorist threat to America or other nations.

In other words, even the DOD knew they incarcerated innocent men and children, America’s media going along with the ruse, notably The New York Times, the lead source of US propaganda.

On April 24, New York writers Charlie Savage, William Glaberson and Andrew Lehren headlined, “Classified Files Offer New Insights Into Detainees,” saying:

Released files on about 750 detainees, including 172 still held, “lay(s) bare the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal.”

However, continuing their willful deception, the writers added:

“(M)ost of the 172 remaining prisoners have been rated as a ‘high risk’ of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation and supervision, (besides) about a third of the 600 already transferred to other countries….also designated ‘high risk’ before they were freed or passed to the custody of other governments.”

A same day editorial headlined, “The Guantanamo Papers,” saying:

Despite documents revealing administration “chaos, lawlessness and incompetence….(t)here are seriously dangerous prisoners at Guantanamo who cannot be released,” despite no corroborating evidence proving it.

Moreover, falsely claiming torture and abuse have stopped, it continued saying the “trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and five other alleged Sept. 11 plotters should be pursued,” even though no incriminating evidence proves culpability, except from perhaps torture-extracted confessions The Times apparently believes are credible, despite international law and two Supreme Court decisions calling them inadmissible in criminal proceedings (Fisher v. State, November 1926 and Brown v. Mississippi, February 1936).

The Center for Constitutional Rights’ (CCR) Assessment/Critique

Since Guantanamo detentions began in 2002, CCR has done heroic work representing unlawfully held detainees. It enlisted hundreds of pro bono attorneys on their behalf to provide what Bush and Obama administration officials denied, a detainee’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel of his or her choice.

Earlier, CCR said:

“The government has illegally detained thousands of people, the most notorious example being the men at Guantanamo.” Its attorneys filed many cases on their behalf, as well as others falsely accused in the “war on terror.” In fact, for years, their lawyers “challenged immigration sweeps, ghost detentions, extraordinary renditions, and every other illegal program the government devised to lock people up and thrown away the key.”

On April 25, CCR headlined, “Rights Group Critical of Poor Reporting by New York Times,” saying:

Executive Director Vince Warren said the following in response to The Times and other news stories on released documents for around 750 Guantanamo detainees, saying:

They “shed light” on “innocent men….many of whom remained and remain there long after the government knew they were innocent.” Of course, it was known all along. Still, however, misinformation is being reported about alleged detainees still held, notably from The New York Times.

It keeps recycling “unfiltered….out of date and long-discredited DOD claims and its sensationalizing of inflated risk assessments over revelations of abuses committed by the US. For example, (it calls) five Russian men….recidivists, contradicting DOD’s characterization.

CCR client Abu Sufian Ibrahim Ahmed Hamuda bin Qumu is also falsely called a recidivist, “when in fact he was jailed on his return to Libya and is now fighting with the US-supported rebels….”

Other examples also show irresponsible misreporting, including “scare stories that abet those forces seeking to legitimate the continued existence of Guantanamo and the scheme of detention without charge that the place was created to facilitate.”

Moreover, besides scandalous ongoing levels of torture and abuse, Times reports refused even to mention, let alone explain, their lawlessness and effect on innocent victims. In addition, Times, Washington Post, and other major media coverage ignore the fact that most of the remaining 172 detainees, “had been cleared for release by the Interagency Task Force set up in 2009.” Instead, as quoted above, The Times called at least most of them “high risk….posing a threat to the United States and its allies.”

In fact, their risk assessments “are based on patently unreliable information, much of it the product of other interrogations at Guantanamo,” producing torture-extracted confessions or other bogus information. In addition, the files “are years out of date and repeat inaccurate Bush administration allegations long since put to rest.”

Yet innocent men will be held indefinitely, either uncharged or tried illegally in military commissions using spurious “evidence” to convict them, including the 9/11 suspects. In fact, their alleged guilt is very much open to question, including the so-called mastermind, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed (KSM), brutally tortured for months in several locations before sent to Guananamo for even more.

Overall, the released documents reveal a sordid story of “government attempting to justify its mistakes and detaining, interrogating and abusing men – as well as teenage boys and men old enough to be suffering from dementia – for years based on bad (or bogus) evidence, hearsay (or) sheer incompetence.”

They disclose a scandalous lack of accountability, transparency and respect for international and US law. They also reveal that Washington withheld “information the public sorely needs in order to be able to make informed decisions about vital government policies. In addition, they show that the” media, including The New York Times repeatedly, disgraced themselves by misreporting.

Unlike official Washington and America’s media, CCR (for almost 15 years) has advanced and protected constitutionally guaranteed rights and those stipulated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – the same ones Seton Hall’s Mark Denbeaux and his dedicated team respect, teach and support.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

AP photo

Hasta la vista, Baby! Skynet Is Already Here

By Daniel Patrick Welch

April 26, 2011 “Information Clearing House” — As Christians in the US and the world over flock to church to celebrate the martyrdom of their lord and savior, American predators are noiselessly cruising the skies above yet another Arab land, holding their hellfire missiles in abeyance until they are sure, damn sure, that the wedding or parade or market convoy or whatever crawls beneath their cold techno-gaze is linked to the terrorists who will destroy our way of life. Whew! That was a mouthful. But then, piss and vinegar are notoriously hard to swallow, much less hold in one’s mouth for any length of time.

And isn’t it way past time for Americans to choke on our own bloated rhetoric, the constant, nauseating peristalsis of Orwellian bullshit that flows from the agents of the Lone Superpower war machine? In one theater after another, as Americans graze blissfully unaware on our diet of hamburgers, housewives and media hash, the empire is sowing the seeds of its own destruction and hastening its own demise.

I would be tempted to say Can I get an Amen? And be done with it—it is fully justified and long overdue—if it weren’t for the fact that a dying empire, like a threatened tyrannosaur, is most dangerous on its last legs. And the lies and contradictions that are tearing the country and the global order apart always result in the greatest misery for the forlorn and forgotten, both internally and around the world.

Save the children! Bellow the righteous liberals and tools of empire, as their gadgetry murders poor black and brown kids and the Bringers of Democracy ban street protests in the streets of Baghdad. Why would the heartless air pirates of NATO and its US string pullers—as if there were any difference—why would a new assault from the air be any more precise, any less deadly to civilians than any of its predecessors, whose documented criminality looms like a radioactive cloud of depleted uranium dust over countless victims past. Does anyone seriously still believe the cant about “smart bombs” and “pinprick” strikes? It’s worse than trickle-down economics: decades of devastation later, and no one bothers to question the original premise.

We must intervene to protect human rights, scream the Progressive Internationalists, who have been chomping at the bit for The Good One they can fully support ever since their unrepentant racist hero made the world safe for democracy a century ago. Really? But there is no talk of a no-fly zone over Bahrain where the Fifth Fleet sits just offshore, or over the open air prison that is Gaza, or over the disastrous shooting gallery that is the above mentioned AfPak theater. And, naturally no such call to ban flights from the 800 or so US bases dotting the globe from whom the shooters are launched. Nobody polices the Global Police. Ever the dutiful technocrat, The Obomber epitomizes the infinitely more dangerous potential of the yes man over that of the ideologue.

Welcome to the post racial society, crow the enthusiasts of a rigged and money-drenched electoral system that feigns democracy while undermining it at every possible turn. Americans aren’t interested in genuine democracy, don’t experience it at all in virtually any aspect of our daily lives, and wouldn’t recognize it if it jumped up and bit us in our collective transfat ass.

Besides, civil rights are for silly whiners who still think “democracy” is about being able to protest in the streets. Obviously they missed the memo: It’s about being able to choose your favorite brand of sneakers or your choice of which housewives to obsess over. Duh! Way to go: “we” elected a black guy! Big deal—Caligula elected a horse. Is there anything more racist than raining indiscriminate death from the skies upon brown people intent on running their own countries? Or have people actually not caught on to the dynamic George Carlin so eloquently illuminated, bless his immortal soul: “Who were the last white people—the Germans—the only white people we’ve ever bombed! And why?? Because they were trying to cut in on our action. They wanted to rule the world. Bullshit! That’s our fucking job!!” Americans can continue to ignore this at our peril, along with the sad realization that those letting loose the bombs are economic conscripts drawn in overwhelming disproportion from poor, black and brown communities at home.

Orwell and Kafka lost together in the miserable plot(s) of Inception could not have constructed such a horrific nightmare. There is no dystopia yet written that can rival the brave new world in which we are living today. The worst part is that, while drones patrol the skies, from Libya to the Mexican border to the streets of our inner cities where the two million plus inhabitants of our Prison Planet grow—the largest in the world, another American triumph—in the midst of this horror, debate rages on about how to tweak a broken system, about how best to enrich the already-haves, about the values of recycling and gluten-free beer. John Connor is not coming back, folks. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

Guantánamo Bay files: Al-Qaida assassin ‘worked for MI6’

• Leaked Guantánamo papers link UK to Algerian militant
• At least 123 prisoners incriminated by one informer

The Guardian,

CIA believed Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili ‘withheld important information’ from British intelligence, the files reveal.

An al-Qaida operative accused of bombing two Christian churches and a luxury hotel in Pakistan in 2002 was at the same time working for British intelligence, according to secret files on detainees who were shipped to the US military’s Guantánamo Bay prison camp.

Adil Hadi al Jazairi Bin Hamlili, an Algerian citizen described as a “facilitator, courier, kidnapper, and assassin for al-Qaida”, was detained in Pakistan in 2003 and later sent to Guantánamo Bay.

But according to Hamlili’s Guantánamo “assessment” file, one of 759 individual dossiers obtained by the Guardian, US interrogators were convinced that he was simultaneously acting as an informer for British and Canadian intelligence.

After his capture in June 2003 Hamlili was transferred to Bagram detention centre, north of Kabul, where he underwent numerous “custodial interviews” with CIA personnel.

They found him “to have withheld important information from the Canadian Secret Intelligence Service and British Secret Intelligence Service … and to be a threat to US and allied personnel in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

The Guardian and the New York Times published a series of reports based on the leaked cache of documents which exposed the flimsy grounds on which many detainees were transferred to the camp and portrayed a system focused overwhelmingly on extracting intelligence from prisoners.

A further series of reports based on the files reveal:

• A single star informer at the base won his freedom by incriminating at least 123 other prisoners there. The US military source described Mohammed Basardah as an “invaluable” source who had shown “exceptional co-operation”, but lawyers for other inmates claim his evidence is unreliable.

• US interrogators frequently clashed over the handling of detainees, with members of the Joint Task Force Guantánamo (JTF GTMO) in several cases overruling recommendations by the Criminal Investigative Task Force (CITF) that prisoners should be released. CITF investigators also disapproved of methods adopted by the JTF’s military interrogators.

• New light on how Osama bin Laden escaped from Tora Bora as American and British special forces closed in on his mountain refuge in December 2001, including intelligence claiming that a local Pakistani warlord provided fighters to guide him to safety in the north-east of Afghanistan.

The Obama administration on Monday condemned the release of documents which it claimed had been “obtained illegally by WikiLeaks”.

The Pentagon’s press secretary, Geoff Morrell, said in many cases the documents, so-called Detainee Assessment Briefs, had been superseded by the decisions of a taskforce established by President Barack Obama in 2009.

“Any given DAB illegally obtained and released by WikiLeaks may or may not represent the current view of a given detainee,” he said.

According to the files, Hamlili told his American interrogators at Bagram that he had been running a carpet business from Peshawar, exporting as far afield as Dubai following the 9/11 attacks.

But his CIA captors knew the Algerian had been an informant for MI6 and Canada‘s Secret Intelligence Service for over three years – and suspected he had been double-crossing handlers. According to US intelligence the two spy agencies recruited Hamlili as a “humint” – human intelligence – source in December 2000 “because of his connections to members of various al-Qaida linked terrorist groups that operated in Afghanistan and Pakistan”.

The files do not specify what information Hamlili withheld. But they do contain intelligence reports, albeit flawed ones, that link the Algerian to three major terrorist attacks in Pakistan during this time.

Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the self-confessed architect of the 9/11 attacks, told interrogators an “Abu Adil” – an alias allegedly used by Hamlili – had orchestrated the March 2002 grenade attack on a Protestant church in Islamabad’s diplomatic enclave that killed five people, including a US diplomat and his daughter.

He said Abu Adil was also responsible for an attack that killed three girls in a rural Punjabi church the following December, and that he had given him 300,000 rupees (about $3,540) to fund the attacks.

The church attacks have previously been blamed on Lashkar I Jhangvi, a Pakistani sectarian outfit that has developed ties with al-Qaida in recent years.

Separately, US intelligence reports said that Hamlili was “possibly involved” in a bombing outside Karachi’s Sheraton hotel in May 2002 that killed 11 French submarine engineers and two Pakistanis.

But the intelligence against the 35-year-old Algerian, who was sent home last January, appears deeply flawed, like many of the accusations in the Guantánamo files.

Some of the information may have been obtained through torture. US officials waterboarded Khalid Sheikh Mohammed 183 times at a CIA “black site” in Thailand during his first month of captivity.

And little evidence is presented to link Hamlili to the Karachi hotel bombing, other than that he ran a carpet business – the same cover that was used by the alleged assassins to escape.

What is clear, however, is that Hamlili was a decades-long veteran of the violent jihadi underground that extends from northern Pakistan and Afghanistan into north Africa. From the Algerian town of Oran, he left with his father in 1986, at the age of 11, to join the fight against Soviet forces in Afghanistan. Later he fell into extremist “takfir” groups, recruited militants to fight in the Algerian civil war, and gained a reputation for violence.

Under the Taliban the Algerian worked as a translator for the foreign ministry and later for the Taliban intelligence services, shuttling between Pakistan and Afghanistan in the runup to 9/11.

Last January Hamlili and another inmate, Hasan Zemiri, were transferred to Algerian government custody. It was not clear whether they would be freed or made to stand trial.

Clive Stafford Smith, whose legal charity, Reprieve, represents many current and former inmates, said the files revealed the “sheer bureaucratic incompetence” of the US military’s intelligence gathering.

“When you gather intelligence in such an unintelligent way; if for example you sweep people up who you know are innocent, and it is in these documents; and then mistreat them horribly, you are not going to get reliable intelligence. You are going to make yourself a lot of enemies.”

The Guantánamo files are one of a series of secret US government databases allegedly leaked by US intelligence analyst Bradley Manning to WikiLeaks. The New York Times, which shared the files with the Guardian and US National Public Radio, said it did not obtain them from WikiLeaks.

A number of other news organisations yesterday published reports based on files they had received from WikiLeaks.

Meet the Religious Right Charlatan Who Teaches Tea Party America The Totally Pretend History They Want to Hear | Belief | AlterNet

Meet the Religious Right Charlatan Who Teaches Tea Party America The Totally Pretend History They Want to Hear | Belief | AlterNet.

Comparing national economies, Why you are unemployed, Youth violence, McCain goes to Libya

Comparing national economies, Why you are unemployed, Youth violence, McCain goes to Libya

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Government shutdown: A psychodrama

Government shutdown? America was treated to a faux spectacle recently.  The threatened apocalypse?  Government shutdown. It was a through-the-looking-glass threatened inversion of the magnificent, and similarly grandiose, fantasy of Ayn Rand in Atlas Shrugged (Now Playing At a Theater Near You) of a “General Strike by the Productive” and the ensuing collapse of civilization.

The federal government does a few genuinely useful things. It dispatches checks to bondholders and social security retirees. It provides for the care, feeding and arming of our warriors in and out of battle. It even has retained a few essential services. (Come in, Air Traffic Control. Hey! Wake up! And while you are at it, how are your vacuum-tube-based radar systems working out?)

Beyond certain nontrivial exceptions involving a tiny fraction of the federal workforce, shutdown of the federal government would probably amount to little more than an inconvenience. Really, what is one to make of a nation that employs more people in the U.S. Department of Agriculture than there are farmers?

In fact, most essential government services are not provided by the federal government but by municipal and state governments. If the federal government were to shut down traffic lights would still turn from green to red and back again; schools would remain open, as would fire, police and emergency medical services. A federal shutdown would not be catastrophic, not even close.

Except symbolically. Between the symbolism and the reality lies a … psychodrama.

Our elected and senior appointed officials, the mainstream media and every progressive in good standing, attach a kind of presumption of nobility to government.  The idea of agencies shutting down, therefore, carries intonations of anarchy. Riots in the streets.  Burning cities. The Fall of Civilization.

But social cohesion, and the superb diffusion of powers set up by the Founders, make such a vision risible.  Law and order primarily come from a lawful, orderly citizenry. Commerce and culture are almost exclusively a function of enterprise, not government.  Liberty endures in spite, not because, of the government.

And yet even those who gripe about its excesses find something deeply magical to the word “government.”  Our officials, by virtue of their election to office, become known, even after retirement (and under prevailing rules even after indictment and conviction) as The Honorable.

Many of my progressive, and even many of my politically apathetic, friends honestly, deeply and sincerely believe that the work that takes place inside these massive marble and sandstone edifices in Washington, and in federal buildings around the country, must be undertaken by people who are nobler, smarter and wiser than mere citizens.

Few have ever looked inside the box known as “the federal government.”

There are many fine and conscientious people who work for the federal government.  That said, fine and noble people are by no means more numerous there than in the private sector. Yes, the civil service is based, in theory, on the merit system. This is a shining ideal of the original Progressive Era in which government agencies were rife with patronage and graft. The Merit System was designed to create a government meritocracy. Yet the Merit System, upon inspection, is terribly broken. There is a lot of evidence that a bureaucratic spoils system has supplanted the political spoils system.

Whether or not there is a flimsy pretense of “competitive service” protocols established for hiring there can be no question that job security protections are so convoluted that, as a practical matter, it is next to impossible to fire a career civil servant. This leads to a very mixed quality of workers – not to mention the enormous inertia one imagines from a system that protects the incompetent and only slightly, if at all, rewards the able.

There are very few meaningful rewards for exercising judgment and initiative inside the federal civil service. It’s very much paint-by-number in there. The system was, in fact, designed to, and usually does, stifle imagination and initiative. Very few really brilliant civil servants, men like the father of the F-16, Col. John Boyd, or the visionary who brought about the Internet, J.C.R. Licklider, or the CIA’s Afghan Task Force Chief Gust Avrakotos, achieve extraordinary things from within an agency. Very few indeed.

And yet, in the face of all the evidence to the contrary, most progressives believe – as an article of faith – that most GS-13s somehow are better adapted to promote the general welfare and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity than are mere citizens. As Ernest Hemingway concludes The Sun Also Rises, “Isn’t it pretty to think so.”  It takes a special kind of sweet naiveté to think so.  Ah, Faith!

Bless the hearts of all those in federal agencies fighting for Truth, Justice and the American Way. Yet really, dear progressive reader (if any), brace yourself: Civil servants are not superheroes. They are people like everybody else, no more, no less. It is the values that citizens bring to the government, not the values that the government brings to its citizens, which made, and again will make, America great.

Government shutdown? William Jennings Bryan once unforgettably declaimed, “I tell you that the great cities rest upon these broad and fertile prairies. Burn down your cities and leave our farms, and your cities will spring up again as if by magic. But destroy our farms and the grass will grow in the streets of every city in the country.”   Shut down the government and leave our enterprise, and enterprises and the government will spring up again as if by magic.  But if the government destroys our enterprise and our enterprises, grass will grow in the streets.

Ralph Benko

AP photo

Gitmo Papers Reveal Hundreds of Innocent People Held and are Still Held

Gitmo Papers Reveal Hundreds of Innocent People Held and are Still Held

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U.S. Officials Equate Pakistani Spy Agency With Terror Groups in Leaked Documents

by Kim Barker

Activists of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf protest against the CIA’s Raymond Davis in Peshawar on Jan. 28, 2011. Material published by Wikileaks and the Guardian gives a more detailed picture of U.S.-Pakistan relations, one colored by deep suspicion. (A Majeed/AFP/Getty Images)

Documents published yesterday by Wikileaks and a threat matrix quoted today by the Guardian show that what U.S. officials have said publicly about Pakistan and terrorism often has not squared with what was happening behind the scenes.

The Guardian’s revelation [1] that U.S. interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention center ranked Pakistan’s main intelligence agency as a threat on par with terrorist groups like Hezbollah and Hamas shows again just how fraught the relationship is between the two countries and how suspicious the U.S. has been of Pakistan for years. (The documents [2] were initially obtained by Wikileaks and provided to several news outlets, but The New York Times, NPR and the Guardian obtained them separately. NPR and The Times collaborated to vet the documents, while the Guardian operated solo.)

Ever since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the U.S. has treated Pakistan more like a “frenemy” than a friend. U.S. officials have often publicly praised Pakistan’s efforts in the war on terror while privately complaining that the army and intelligence services should do more. Pakistan, and particularly the ISI, has been blamed for harboring some terrorists — such as the country’s former Taliban allies [3] and the militant group run by Jalaluddin Haqqani [4] — while making scapegoats of others. Initially, U.S. assessments of the ISI blamed “rogue” elements for supporting terrorists, the documents show. But by 2007, that caveat seems to have been removed.

These aren’t the first documents outlining U.S. suspicions — U.S. military field documents [5] released by Wikileaks last summer suggested that Pakistan allowed ISI agents to meet with the Taliban in secret strategy sessions. But these are the first documents showing that some U.S. officials actually equated the ISI with other known terrorist groups, hardly an indication of trust. There is a striking contrast between the documents and rosy comments made by U.S. officials at the time.

For instance, in June 2005, a document shows that officials hoped one detainee [6] could provide information on corruption within the ISI and “its support to the Al-Qaida network.” Weeks later, interrogators thought another detainee could provide information on how the ISI was supporting the efforts of Hezb-i-Islami, a terrorist group that stages attacks mainly in eastern Afghanistan.

Yet, also in June 2005, Christina Rocca, then the State Department’s assistant secretary of South Asian affairs, told a U.S. House subcommittee: “Over the past three years, Pakistan’s leaders have taken the steps necessary to make their country a key ally in the war on terrorism and to set it on the path to becoming a modern, prosperous, democratic state. As a result of forward thinking and acting, Pakistan is now headed in the right direction.”

The Guardian quotes [1] another document, called the “Joint Task Force Guantanamo Matrix of Threat Indicators for Enemy Combatants,” dated September 2007, that lists the ISI among 36 questionable groups, including Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the Iranian intelligence services, and the Muslim Brotherhood. The document says that through associations with one of these groups, “a detainee may have provided support to Al Qaeda or the Taliban, or engaged in hostilities against US or coalition forces (in Afghanistan),” the Guardian account says. (The newspaper does not provide a link to that document.)

That same month, September 2007, Richard Boucher, who replaced Rocca in the State Department, told reporters that he believed that nobody in Pakistan wanted terrorism. “… (F)rom what I see in Pakistan, it’s not just the army that’s committed to fighting … terrorism,” he said. “It’s not just the politicians. It’s really the vast majority of the whole society.”

So far, the ISI and Pakistani army officials have been publicly mum on the latest set of leaked accounts. But privately, who knows?

One point is clear — the leak has the potential to further damage the already tense ties between the U.S. and Pakistan, especially after the debacle with the CIA’s Raymond Davis this year [7] and the ongoing debate over drone strikes [8]. That could hinder what the U.S. is trying to accomplish, not only in Pakistan, but in neighboring Afghanistan. The disclosure could also undermine recent high-level meetings designed to patch up poor relations and soothe hurt feelings.

Follow on Twitter: @Kim_Barker

Total Collapse – The Build up to World War III & The New World Order

Total Collapse – The Build up to World War III & The New World Order

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Thom Hartmann: Which Shall Rule – Wealth or Man?

Thom Hartmann: Which Shall Rule – Wealth or Man?

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The Corporate State Wins Again

By Chris Hedges

This is what the White House has to say about this photo: “At a townhall from Facebook HQ, the President speaks on his plan to get our fiscal house in order while keeping our commitments to seniors and ensuring the burden is shared by the wealthiest Americans, not just foisted on the middle class.”

When did our democracy die? When did it irrevocably transform itself into a lifeless farce and absurd political theater? When did the press, labor, universities and the Democratic Party—which once made piecemeal and incremental reform possible—wither and atrophy? When did reform through electoral politics become a form of magical thinking? When did the dead hand of the corporate state become unassailable?

The body politic was mortally wounded during the long, slow strangulation of ideas and priorities during the Red Scare and the Cold War. Its bastard child, the war on terror, inherited the iconography and language of permanent war and fear. The battle against internal and external enemies became the excuse to funnel trillions in taxpayer funds and government resources to the war industry, curtail civil liberties and abandon social welfare. Skeptics, critics and dissenters were ridiculed and ignored. The FBI, Homeland Security and the CIA enforced ideological conformity. Debate over the expansion of empire became taboo. Secrecy, the anointing of specialized elites to run our affairs and the steady intrusion of the state into the private lives of citizens conditioned us to totalitarian practices. Sheldon Wolin points out in “Democracy Incorporated” that this configuration of corporate power, which he calls “inverted totalitarianism,” is not like “Mein Kampf” or “The Communist Manifesto,” the result of a premeditated plot. It grew, Wolin writes, from “a set of effects produced by actions or practices undertaken in ignorance of their lasting consequences.” 

Corporate capitalism—because it was trumpeted throughout the Cold War as a bulwark against communism—expanded with fewer and fewer government regulations and legal impediments. Capitalism was seen as an unalloyed good. It was not required to be socially responsible. Any impediment to its growth, whether in the form of trust-busting, union activity or regulation, was condemned as a step toward socialism and capitulation. Every corporation is a despotic fiefdom, a mini-dictatorship. And by the end Wal-Mart, Exxon Mobil and Goldman Sachs had grafted their totalitarian structures onto the state.

The Cold War also bequeathed to us the species of the neoliberal. The neoliberal enthusiastically embraces “national security” as the highest good.  The neoliberal—composed of the gullible and cynical careerists—parrots back the mantra of endless war and corporate capitalism as an inevitable form of human progress. Globalization, the neoliberal assures us, is the route to a worldwide utopia. Empire and war are vehicles for lofty human values. Greg Mortenson, the disgraced author of “Three Cups of Tea,” tapped into this formula. The deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocents in Iraq or Afghanistan are ignored or dismissed as the cost of progress. We are bringing democracy to Iraq, liberating the women of Afghanistan, defying the evil clerics in Iran, ridding the world of terrorists and protecting Israel. Those who oppose us do not have legitimate grievances. They need to be educated. It is a fantasy. But to name our own evil is to be banished. 

We continue to talk about personalities—Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama—although the heads of state or elected officials in Congress have become largely irrelevant. Lobbyists write the bills. Lobbyists get them passed. Lobbyists make sure you get the money to be elected. And lobbyists employ you when you get out of office. Those who hold actual power are the tiny elite who manage the corporations. Jacob S. Hacker and Paul Pierson, in their book “Winner-Take-All Politics,” point out that the share of national income of the top 0.1 percent of Americans since 1974 has grown from 2.7 to 12.3 percent. One in six American workers may be without a job. Some 40 million Americans may live in poverty, with tens of millions more living in a category called “near poverty.” Six million people may be forced from their homes because of foreclosures and bank repossessions. But while the masses suffer, Goldman Sachs, one of the financial firms most responsible for the evaporation of $17 trillion in wages, savings and wealth of small investors and shareholders, is giddily handing out $17.5 billion in compensation to its managers, including $12.6 million to its CEO, Lloyd Blankfein.

he massive redistribution of wealth, as Hacker and Pierson write, happened because lawmakers and public officials were, in essence, hired to permit it to happen. It was not a conspiracy. The process was transparent. It did not require the formation of a new political party or movement. It was the result of inertia by our political and intellectual class, which in the face of expanding corporate power found it personally profitable to facilitate it or look the other way. The armies of lobbyists, who write the legislation, bankroll political campaigns and disseminate propaganda, have been able to short-circuit the electorate. Hacker and Pierson pinpoint the administration of Jimmy Carter as the start of our descent, but I think it began long before with Woodrow Wilson, the ideology of permanent war and the capacity by public relations to manufacture consent. Empires die over such long stretches of time that the exact moment when terminal decline becomes irreversible is probably impossible to document. That we are at the end, however, is beyond dispute. 

The rhetoric of the Democratic Party and the neoliberals sustains the illusion of participatory democracy. The Democrats and their liberal apologists offer minor palliatives and a feel-your-pain language to mask the cruelty and goals of the corporate state. The reconfiguration of American society into a form of neofeudalism will be cemented into place whether it is delivered by Democrats, who are pushing us there at 60 miles an hour, or Republicans, who are barreling toward it at 100 miles an hour. Wolin writes, “By fostering an illusion among the powerless classes” that it can make their interests a priority, the Democratic Party “pacifies and thereby defines the style of an opposition party in an inverted totalitarian system.” The Democrats are always able to offer up a least-worst alternative while, in fact, doing little or nothing to thwart the march toward corporate collectivism. 

The systems of information, owned or dominated by corporations, keep the public entranced with celebrity meltdowns, gossip, trivia and entertainment. There are no national news or intellectual forums for genuine political discussion and debate. The talking heads on Fox or MSNBC or CNN spin and riff on the same inane statements by Sarah Palin or Donald Trump. They give us lavish updates on the foibles of a Mel Gibson or Charlie Sheen. And they provide venues for the powerful to speak directly to the masses. It is burlesque. 

It is not that the public does not want a good health care system, programs that provide employment, quality public education or an end to Wall Street’s looting of the U.S. Treasury. Most polls suggest Americans do. But it has become impossible for most citizens to find out what is happening in the centers of power. Television news celebrities dutifully present two opposing sides to every issue, although each side is usually lying. The viewer can believe whatever he or she wants to believe. Nothing is actually elucidated or explained. The sound bites by Republicans or Democrats are accepted at face value. And once the television lights are turned off, the politicians go back to the business of serving business.

We live in a fragmented society. We are ignorant of what is being done to us. We are diverted by the absurd and political theater. We are afraid of terrorism, of losing our job and of carrying out acts of dissent. We are politically demobilized and paralyzed. We do not question the state religion of patriotic virtue, the war on terror or the military and security state. We are herded like sheep through airports by Homeland Security and, once we get through the metal detectors and body scanners, spontaneously applaud our men and women in uniform. As we become more insecure and afraid, we become more anxious. We are driven by fiercer and fiercer competition. We yearn for stability and protection. This is the genius of all systems of totalitarianism. The citizen’s highest hope finally becomes to be secure and left alone. 

Human history, rather than a chronicle of freedom and democracy, is characterized by ruthless domination. Our elites have done what all elites do. They have found sophisticated mechanisms to thwart popular aspirations, disenfranchise the working and increasingly the middle class, keep us passive and make us serve their interests. The brief democratic opening in our society in the early 20th century, made possible by radical movements, unions and a vigorous press, has again been shut tight. We were mesmerized by political charades, cheap consumerism and virtual hallucinations as we were ruthlessly stripped of power. 

he game is over. We lost. The corporate state will continue its inexorable advance until two-thirds of the nation is locked into a desperate, permanent underclass. Most Americans will struggle to make a living while the Blankfeins and our political elites wallow in the decadence and greed of the Forbidden City and Versailles. These elites do not have a vision. They know only one word—more.  They will continue to exploit the nation, the global economy and the ecosystem. And they will use their money to hide in gated compounds when it all implodes. Do not expect them to take care of us when it starts to unravel. We will have to take care of ourselves. We will have to create small, monastic communities where we can sustain and feed ourselves. It will be up to us to keep alive the intellectual, moral and culture values the corporate state has attempted to snuff out. It is either that or become drones and serfs in a global, corporate dystopia. It is not much of a choice. But at least we still have one. 

To read more of Chris Hedges’ writing on the themes from this column, check out his books “Death of the Liberal Class” and “The World As it Is: Dispatches on the Myth of Human Progress” here and here, respectively.

From Russia, with dire warnings on Libya

Moscow has harshly rebuked the latest NATO attack against forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, saying that the Western military bloc has given the militant opposition “dangerous ideas,” while stoking the flames of unrest elsewhere.

NATO forces have unleashed a powerful missile attack on Tripoli, the Libyan capital, in the latest sign that the coalition has ignored its UN mandate to “protect civilians” and has chosen instead to take sides in the revolt.

As recent actions would indicate, NATO forces have opted not to side with Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Early reports on Monday said at least two cruise missiles had slammed into Gaddafi’s sprawling Bab al-Azizia compound, which seems to be the same location where the Libyan leader recently hosted an African Union peace mission.

Libyan media reports say the compound did not have a military component, nor was it in any way endangering civilians, thus NATO violated its UN mandate, which was specifically designed to limit the number of civilian casualties.

The early-morning attacks came as pro-Gaddafi forces were retreating from Misrata, a rebel stronghold in western Libya that has been the scene of fierce fighting between the rebels and pro-Gaddafi forces.

According to eyewitness reports out of Libya, the rebels received heavy back-up assistance from NATO fighter jets, as well as the United States, which carried out its first Predator drone airstrikes Saturday afternoon, Pentagon spokesman, Navy Captain Darryn James, said.

The UN resolution, which enforces a no-fly zone, does not imply air raids, including strikes on civilian sites. “Yet there have been reports to that effect,” the foreign minister observed.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, invoking its claim to military secrecy, offered no other information on the aerial attacks.

Meanwhile, the ragtag rebels received a cash pledge on Sunday from the government of Kuwait for the creation of so-called Transitional National Council to the tune of some $180 million.

Russian rebuke

Moscow has harshly criticized the actions of the Western coalition and their partners, arguing that NATO is abusing its UN mandate while hardening the resolve of the rebel opposition, of which dangerously little is known.

“We suspect that their [insurgents’] irreconcilability is rooted in the fact that Western and NATO countries, which volunteered to fulfill Resolution 1973, have taken the side of the insurgents,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov told a press conference on Monday in Tskhinval, South Ossetia.

Lavrov said that NATO’s actions were causing the insurgents to become overly dependent upon “foreign help,” which they might translate into their ability of overthrowing the regime and taking power.

“These are very dangerous ideas,” the foreign minister said.

Just last month it was reported that Al-Qaeda militants had infiltrated the ranks of the Libyan opposition for advancing their own agenda. Moscow promptly warned that any assistance to the government opposition could unwittingly become synonymous with assisting terrorist organizations.

Lavrov said that NATO’s rush to assist rebel leaders may give a dangerous message, and actually help foment civil war in other parts of the world.

“Alas, [the message] may be contagious, because it is expressed in other regional countries with the hope that the international community will come to their assistance if the situation exacerbates.”

“In fact, this is an invitation to a series of civil wars,” he said.

Along these lines, Lavrov stressed that it was counteractive for “external players” to take a particular side in any political altercations, which the opposition may use to their advantage.

“External players must not interfere, suggest recipes or take somebody’s side in international political altercations,” he said. “It is irresponsible to use force against one’s own citizens…it is responsible of the opposition to provoke the use of force by external forces.”

“I hope that the trend of rejecting negotiations will be actively put to an end by anyone capable of influencing either side to the conflict,” he said.

“We will insist on the prevention of [bringing the hostilities] to a dangerous phase,” Lavrov concluded. “It is important to ensure strict compliance with the UN Security resolution on Libya, whose mandate does not imply a lot of things, which are being done in the air [raids].”

The mass uprising against Colonel Gaddafi began in February, triggered by a wave of uprisings throughout the Arab world.

Robert Bridge, RT

Egyptian Revolution Demands End to Emergency Law and Higher Minimum Wage

Egyptian Revolution Demands End to Emergency Law and Higher Minimum Wage

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Syrian Soldiers Respond to Snipers

Syrian Soldiers Respond to Snipers

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Shooting over the heads of unarmed protesters in Damascus in Syria 23.04.2011

Damascus – 04/23/2011

Ezraa  – 04/23/2011

Security snipers stationed on the water reservoir in Darayya – Syria  04/21/2011


April 24, 2011

The Public Overwhelmingly Wants It: Why Is Taxing the Rich So Hard? | Economy | AlterNet

The Public Overwhelmingly Wants It: Why Is Taxing the Rich So Hard? | Economy | AlterNet.

How Big Pharma’s Deceptive Advertising Helps Addict Patients, Screw Over Doctors and Jack Up Insurance Rates

By Martha Rosenberg

Can anyone remember life before Ask Your Doctor ads on TV?

All you knew about prescription drugs were creepy ads in a JAMA at the doctor’s office with a lot of fine print. Even if you knew the name of a drug, you’d never ask your doctor for it because that would be self-diagnosing and cheeky for a patient.

Flash forward to the late 1990s when direct-to-consumer (DTC) drug advertising, drug Web sites and online drug sales came on board, and self-diagnosing and demanding pills has become medicine-as-usual for the doctor/patient encounter.

The DTC/Web perfect storm didn’t just sell drugs like Claritin, Prozac and the Purple Pill, it sold the diseases to go with them like seasonal allergies, GERD and depression. It sold risk of diseases like heart events for which you’d take a statin like Lipitor, osteoporosis for which you’d take a bone drug like Boniva and asthma attacks for which you’d use a second asthma drug like Advair. Of course, by the very definition of prevention, you didn’t know if the drugs were working but you weren’t paying out of pocket anyway so what the hay…

Thanks to DTC advertising, people started taking seizure drugs like Topamax and Lyrica for everyday pain or headaches and antipsychotics– hello? — for everyday blues or mood problems. They started taking monoclonal antibodies made from genetically engineered hamster cells like Humira that invite cancer, superinfections and TB when they didn’t have to. And FDA mandated risk disclosures — brain bleeds, sudden death, difficulty breathing, stomach bleeding, liver failure, kidney failure, muscle breakdown, fainting, hallucinations — perversely increased drug sales either because people like the identity in having a disease, chemically experimenting on themselves and/or taking a dare or because ad frequency itself sells regardless of the message.

Soon anxiety graduated to depression which graduated to bipolar disorder. Children got schizophrenia and depression like adults and adults got ADHD like kids. And it didn’t stop there. If the depression you or your kid had didn’t go away — maybe because it wasn’t depression in the first place but a thing called “life” — you needed to add a drug like Abilify or Seroquel on to the original drug(s) because your depression was “treatment resistant.”

Of course if people were paying for the drugs out of their pocket and you told them to add a drug that costs almost $500 a month because the first one isn’t working, they would say the only thing “treatment resistant” is your sales pitch — go find another sucker. But if third party payers get stuck with the bill, no one seems to mind pharma’s double-(and triple)-its-money plan — or even notice it.

In fact psychiatric drug cocktails of eight, ten and twelve drugs are now common medical practice for “treatment resistant” depression and PTSD (often paid by government entitlement health plans) even though the drugs have never been tested when taken together. Unless you count the patients taking them now!

Pharma also adds an urgency pitch to the sell in case you think you can wait to take you or your child’s treatment resistant drug cocktail until symptoms worsen. Depression is now a “progressive” disease say pharma-paid doctors after being known for decades as a self-limiting disease. (The one good thing you could say about depression; it would go away.)

And don’t think kids will outgrow mood problems either, says pharma. That erratic behavior is no doubt early mental illness that will become Worse if you’d don’t treat it in the bud. Even mothers of one-year-olds with the sniffles are told serious asthma is just around the corner if they don’t treat their toddler now.

Donald Trump, Technology tyranny, Jordan Page, Earth Day

Donald Trump, Technology tyranny, Jordan Page, Earth Day

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Mexican Gangs Move to Honduras

Wikileaks: The looting of Iraq’s oil

by Altamiro by Borges

Documents leaked by WikiLeaks on Tuesday (19) prove once again that the “war” in Iraq was a big hoax – concocted by the capitalist powers and amplified by the corporate media. They show that the British government, in collusion with the U.S., discussed the sharing of oil from the invaded country a year before the invasion. The history of the existence of weapons of mass destruction was an abject and shameless lie of imperialist nations.

Combined oil share discussed a year earlier

According to news published in the British newspaper, The Independent, the documents leaked by WikiLeaks show that plans to export the oil reserves of Iraq were discussed by British government ministers and major international oil principals a year before Britain accepted, along with the United States, the plan to invade Iraqi soil.”

The newspaper notes that the serious denunciation of the existence of the prior plan had already happened in March 2003. At the time, both Shell and BP denied that they had been meeting in secret at Downing Street, home of the British government, to discuss the sharing of oil. The prime minister at the time, the doormat Tony Blair, called the allegations “completely absurd.”

Plunderers and criminals

Now, however, the documents leaked by WikiLeaks confirm the story and unmask who the liars are – and who should be prosecuted for the deaths of thousands in Iraq. Memoranda published in The Independent, dated October and November 2002, give details about the meetings.

In one of them, five months before the invasion, Elizabeth Symons, Minister of Commerce, affirms to BP that the government wanted British energy companies to receive part of the enormous benefits of oil and gas in Iraq as a reward for the military aid given by Blair to the United States to change the Iraqi regime.

 Translated from the Portuguese version by:

Lisa Karpova

Nobel Peace Drones

US Kills 23 People In Pakistan

By Glenn Greenwald

A U.S. drone attack in Pakistan killed 23 people this morning, and this is how The New York Times described that event in its headline and first paragraph:

When I saw that, I was going to ask how the NYT could possibly know that the people whose lives the U.S. just ended were “militants,” but then I read further in the article and it said this:  “A government official in North Waziristan told Pakistani reporters that five children and four women were among the 23 who were killed.”  So at least 9 of the 23 people we killed — at least — were presumably not “militants” at all, but rather innocent civilians (contrast how the NYT characterizes Libya’s attacks in its headlines: “Qaddafi Troops Fire Cluster Bombs Into Civilian Areas”).

Can someone who defends these drone attacks please identify the purpose?  Is the idea that we’re going to keep dropping them until we kill all the “militants” in that area?  We’ve been killing people in that area at a rapid clip for many, many years now, and we don’t seem to be much closer to extinguishing them.  How many more do we have to kill before the eradication is complete?  

Beyond that, isn’t it painfully obvious that however many “militants” we’re killing, we’re creating more and more all the time?  How many family members, friends, neighbors and villagers of the “five children and four women” we just killed are now consumed with new levels of anti-American hatred?  How many Pakistani adolescents who hear about these latest killings are now filled with an eagerness to become “militants”?

The NYT article dryly noted: “Friday’s attack could further fuel antidrone sentiment among the Pakistani public”; really, it could?  It’s likely to fuel far more than mere “antidrone sentiment”; it’s certain to fuel more anti-American hatred: the primary driver of anti-American Terrorism. Isn’t that how you would react if a foreign country were sending flying robots over your town and continuously wiping out the lives of innocent women, children and men who are your fellow citizens? What conceivable rational purpose does this endless slaughter serve? Isn’t it obvious that the stated goal of all of this – to reduce the threat of Terrorism – is subverted rather than promoted by these actions?

Regarding the announcement yesterday that the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize winner was now deploying these same flying death robots to Libya, both The Washington Post‘s David Ignatius and The Atlantic‘s James Fallows make the case against that decision. In particular, Ignatius writes that “surely it’s likely that the goal was to kill Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi or other members of his inner circle.”

I don’t know if that is actually the purpose, though if Ignatius is good at anything , it’s faithfully conveying what military and intelligence officials tell him. If that is the goal, doesn’t that rather directly contradict Obama’s vow when explaining the reasons for our involvement in the war (after it started): “broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.” It already seemed clear from the joint Op-Ed by Obama and the leaders of France and Britain — in which they pledged to continue “operations” until Gadaffi was gone — that this vow had been abandoned. But if we’re sending drones to target Libyan regime leaders for death, doesn’t it make it indisputably clear that the assurances Obama gave when involving the U.S. in this war have now been violated. And does that matter?

Finally, when the OLC released its rationale for why the President was permitted to involve the U.S in Libya without Congressional approval, its central claim was that — due the very limited nature of our involvement and the short duration — this does not “constitute[] a ‘war’ within the meaning of the Declaration of War Clause” (Adam Serwer has more on this reasoning). Now that our involvement has broadened to include drone attacks weeks into this conflict, with no end in sight, can we agree that the U.S. is now fighting a “war” and that this therefore requires Congressional approval?

* * * * *

A new NYT/CBS poll today finds that only 39% approve of Obama’s handling of Libya, while 45% disapprove (see p. 17). That’s what happens when a President starts a new war without any pretense of democratic debate, let alone citizenry consent through the Congress.


Libyan rebels: McCain’s babes

When John McCain of the same political party which committed war crimes under the Bush regime says he likes the Libyan rebels, then something stinks. When John McCain calls a group of “rebels” his heroes, then it reeks. Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to another Iraq.

Same players, only this time France on board. USA, UK and Freedom Fries champions, France. Vive La France, when oil and business interests flow. But with McCain, the darling of the Bush regime, on board, then it is patently obvious that the Libya story morphs into a new ball game.

The Republican party Senator visited Benghazi, the hub of the Islamist terrorist “unarmed civilians/rebels” supported by NATO just like the Albanian terrorists a decade ago, this Good Friday and declared that these brigands are “my heroes”.

Well they would be would they not? They serve the neo-con plan rather well – destroy civilian structures just like in Iraq then dole out billionaire rebuilding contracts to White House cronies – and what has changed? After all those who surround Obama are the same ones responsible for the banking crisis.

McCain, obviously, was one of those backing a military strike against Libya. Yet this failure backed the losing side, again. The US military opines that a stalemate has been reached, with the country divided in two.

Nice one, NATO. Another foreign policy disaster, another act of interference into the affairs of a sovereign state, and another long, protracted act of murder and destruction.

 Let us be honest – if McCain is involved, something reeks. Stand by for added military intervention and the sudden shifting of the game plan, called “Mission Creep”. United Nations Organization – HELP! Yet another assault upon the precepts on international law. And another good pointer towards how Obama has been assimilated by the system.

Timofei Belov

Apartheid Did Not Die

Apartheid Did Not Die

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America’s held hostage by Debt

Mimesis and the State of US Democracy

(Rome) Standard dictionary definitions of the word of ancient Greek origin, mimesis, relate the word to imitation, representation, mimicry, similarity, the act of resembling and of expression. Today, mimesis has more to do with literary and societal functions.

I recently read a study of mimesis as a form of realism in the arts, Erich Auerbach’s Mimesis: The Representation of Reality in Western Literature. Published in 1946, the book was written while Auerbach was in exile from Nazi Germany in Istanbul, which, for me, means that the writer of this magnificent work must have had also political objectives in mind.

Auerbach’s Mimesis opens with the famous comparison between the ways the world is represented in Homer’s Odyssey and in the book of Genesis in the Bible. From these two texts the author builds his unified theory of representation that spans the history of the Western world. Homer, for example, does not omit minor but telling details about people, events and objects, while Moses regularly startles the reader with the sudden appearances and representations that one must simply take as given.

I have turned to this work as a gambit in order to demonstrate that at least 95% of Americans are right not to feel represented by their government, a government allegedly elected in accordance with the U.S. Constitution. The phrase that opens the United States Constitution, WE THE PEOPLE, rings in today’s context like God’s one word to Abraham: “Abraham!” which is shorn of all references as to where or who He is. Abraham, about whom the Bible reader knows practically nothing, who is to be ordered to sacrifice his son, Isaac, answers simply: “Behold me. Here I am.”

Plato in The Republic has Socrates warn about the difficulty of ever attaining real truth. Socrates’ metaphor of the three beds illustrates the problem of the degeneration from the ideal to the banal: the first bed made by God is the Platonic ideal; a carpenter then makes a second bed in imitation of that ideal bed; and the artist subsequently makes a third bed in imitation of the carpenter’s imitation of the ideal bed. Subsequent imitators then capture less and less of the ideal. They might graze the reality of a carpenter making a bed or of an artist painting a carpenter making a bed, but they can never attain the true ideal of the original creation.

In the same way a poetic framer of a Constitution may depict images of the virtue of a person, of a people, but can never attain the reality of just who, where and how The People are. Obviously the framers of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights never conceived of, nor even searched for, the reality of The People. Nor of Democracy itself for that matter. As far as they were concerned both could have been mere legend.

The American nation’s fathers created a Republic, the nature of which would mutate/degenerate over time. Democracy had nothing to do with the issue. In those revolutionary times in America and Europe, the words The People rang heavenly, like an imitation of the most beautiful music.

The bourgeoisie, already then in control, relied on trusty, well-worn images imitated over and again until the words themselves, The People, Democracy, Freedom, already in those times, were so far removed from reality as to be false. It was all a game of legend and make-believe, created by means of repetition: The People, Democracy, Freedom.

Today, as then, a chasm separates The People from the clique of their rulers, the corporate state. As Auerbach points out, real, historical themes (and real events) are actually unfit for true representation. Slogans of propaganda are instead concocted through the crudest simplification, destined from the start to be distant from the truth.

For example, the word Democracy does not appear in the 4400 words of one of the shortest Constitutions ever written, the Constitution of the United States of America. That nation, “our” nation, is a Constitutional Republic. The USA therefore, one should remember, does not have a monopoly on the word Democracy. In fact it has no just claim to possess the Democracy that it so loves to export and jam down the throats of other peoples. Several years ago I read a study of the degree of Democracy in the world’s democratic countries, based on a number of criteria denoting the quality of Democracy in each. The United States of North America ranked number 16, the German Republic number 1.

Today, Republics abound in Europe, Africa, Latin America, the Islamic world, Asia. Libya is a Republic. The official name of North Korea is The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Iran is a Republic. The Haiti of Papa Doc Duvalier was a Republic. The list goes on and on to include corrupt and bloody dictatorships and foreign-dominated, anti-democratic states. Many republics have little or no relationship whatsoever to the concept of Democracy.

Mimesis is thus much more than a certain adjustment of reality by a certain amount of exaggeration, as one observer has noted, in which the nature of the object undergoes minimal change. In its full meaning, mimesis frames real and true reality in such a way that underscores that the existing named concept, so modified, so warped, corrupted and debased, such as The People and Democracy and Freedom, are simply not real. The concepts have become fraud and lie, the paraphernalia of legend and propaganda.

Senior editor and European Correspondent of The Greanville Post and Cyrano’s Journal Online Gaither Stewart writes from Rome. His new book, Lily Pad Roll, part of a trilogy of spy novels with a US foreign Policy intrigue background, will be published sometime later this year. The first part, The Trojan Spy, is available from Amazon.

Food and the Domination of Finance

BP Disaster…One Year Later Full Show

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