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Posts tagged ‘Occupy Wall Street’

National and Correct Policy of Privatization

National and Correct Policy of Privatization

National and Correct Policy of Privatization

The objectives of privatization policy in African countries and in all developing and developed countries should not include the attraction of foreign direct investments.

Governments must build all sorts of services; businesses; and industries not to keep them under their control or management but rather to sell them to the public in shares. This way private ownership can be served.

Governments should own no business simply because they own no wealth. It is the people who should own the national wealth and every thing including the government itself. But governments  and private foreign companies must create all sorts of businesses and transfer their ownership to the citizens.

This is more national and the correct interpretation of privatization. Selling big businesses to foreign investors is not privatization but it is  in most cases treason and exploitation.

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super-rich

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super-rich

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super-rich

Peace and justice would be better once the World has no super-rich. They are dangerous liabilities and very few of them are useful assets.

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super rich

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super rich

Excessive poverty, wars, and crimes inflicted on billions of miserable humans are the direct results of the incredible greed and cruelty of just few hundreds super-rich.

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super-rich

Earth Is a Better Place Without the Super Rich

Occupy’s Pledge to FIGHT BACK

Occupy's Pledge to FIGHT BACK

Occupy’s Pledge to FIGHT BACK

Occupy’s Pledge to FIGHT BACK

We Didn’t Start the Class War

(This is a partial copy of online form from OccupyWallSt.org

To act now please check the form at: Will you help us wage resistance?)

The 1% wreck our economy, kill our jobs, seize our homes, assault our rights, destroy the environment, and sentence us to lives of debt and war. For years, we have petitioned our governments for change without redress and have fought tirelessly to elect politicians who only betray us. In a world where the 1% have usurped democracy and politicians refuse to serve the people, the people have but one choice—to fight back!

The relentless class war against the 99% must end. We’ve been deceived our whole lives into believing the only way to create change is by voting, but now we’re learning there’s another way. A revolution for real democracy is underway, and it falls on each and every one of us to fight together for our common future. We will cast the vote of resistance. We will take direct action to shut this broken system down and build a better world that works in the interest of all people, everywhere.

Will you help us wage resistance?

  1. I pledge to come out in the streets when Occupy calls for a day of action.
  2. I pledge to attend at least one meeting with my local Occupy group.
    Click Here to find one in your area
  3. I pledge to help promote #occupy news and actions via social media.
  4. I pledge to donate what I make in one hour to an Occupy-related project.
    Click Here for our curated list of places to donate
  5. I pledge to never go to work during a general strike.
  6. I pledge to help organize my co-workers to make demands. It doesn’t matter if I’m behind a desk, a cash register, or a machine—we deserve better treatment.
    Click Here to learn how
  7. I pledge to attend a direct action / civil disobedience training session.
    Click Here for NYC Summer Disobedience School
    Click Here for online video training
  8. I pledge to dump my bank and join a credit union.
    Click Here to find one in your area
  9. I pledge to start an affinity group to occupy something.
    This can be just about anything. Like a park, a farm, defending a foreclosed home, or holding a sit-in at your town hall or school. You might only need a half dozen or so dedicated people. Issue demands if you like, but don’t go home until they’re met. You can even use blockading to make it extra hard for them to remove you. Remember: Occupying is a militant nonviolent tactic meant to assert control over physical space by reclaiming it for a new purpose while disrupting the ability of your adversary to use that space, thus forcing recognition of your cause. You don’t need a permit any more than Martin Luther King Jr. needed permission to hold sit-ins at lunch counters. This is the very meaning of civil disobedience, but it also means you’ll be risking arrest so you should consider seeking legal counsel beforehand. How much does change mean to you?

Source: Occupy’s Pledge to FIGHT BACK

email: general@occupywallst.org | help line: +1 (516) 708-4777

Pledge to Fight Back

Fellow occupier, we need your help to end the relentless class war against the 99%. Sign your name to something better by taking the FIGHT BACK pledge at OccupyWallSt.org.

http://occupywallst.org/fightback/

Why should I promise to fight? Because the 1% wreck our economy, kill our jobs, seize our homes, assault our rights, destroy the environment, and sentence us to lives of debt and war. For years, we have petitioned our governments for change without redress and have fought tirelessly to elect politicians who only betray us. In a world where the 1% have usurped democracy and politicians refuse to serve the people, the people have but one choice—to fight back!

How can I fight? Occupiers use direct action

to create change, because it works better than voting and is way more fun. Read the pledge to learn how to use some of these tactics.

“Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience…Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity, and war, and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… (and) the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.” – Howard Zinn

Click here and pledge to flight back today!

If you’ve already signed, please forward this to a friend or consider a donation to support a part of the occupy movement.

How America Went Rogue

America's Shadow Wars

America's Shadow Wars

What We All Need to Know About Our Government’s Shadow Wars

Reagan’s shadow government was a disaster, but it was a pygmy compared with Obama’s.

April 22, 2012   The Nation / By Juan Cole

Covert operations are nothing new in American history, but it could be argued that during the past decade they have moved from being a relatively minor arrow in the national security quiver to being the cutting edge of American power. Drone strikes, electronic surveillance and stealth engagements by military units such as the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), as well as dependence on private corporations, mercenary armies and terrorist groups, are now arguably more common as tools of US foreign policy than conventional warfare or diplomacy. But these tools lend themselves to rogue operations that create peril for the United States when they blow back on us. And they often make the United States deeply unpopular.

Shadow power has even become an issue in the presidential campaign. Newt Gingrich advocates ramped-up “covert operations” inside Iran. President Obama replied to Mitt Romney’s charge that he is an “appeaser” by suggesting that his critics “ask bin Laden” about that.

Obama often speaks of the “tide of war receding,” but that phrase refers only to conventional war. In Afghanistan, where the administration hopes to roll up conventional fighting by the end of 2013, it is making plans for long-term operations by special forces through units such as JSOC. It is unclear what legal framework will be constructed for their activities, other than a wink and a nod from President Hamid Karzai.

Although the Iraqis managed to compel the withdrawal of US troops by the end of last year, Washington is nevertheless seeking to remain influential through shadow power. The US embassy in Baghdad has 16,000 employees, most of them civilian contractors. They include 2,000 diplomats and several hundred intelligence operatives. By contrast, the entire US Foreign Service corps comprises fewer than 14,000. The Obama administration has decided to slash the number of contractors, planning for an embassy force of “only” 8,000. This monument to shadow power clearly is not intended merely to represent US interests in Iraq but rather to shape that country and to serve as a command center for the eastern reaches of the greater Middle East. The US shadow warriors will, for instance, attempt to block “the influence of Iran,” according to the Washington Post. Since Iraq’s Shiite political parties, which dominate Parliament and the cabinet, are often close to Iran, that charge would inescapably involve meddling in internal Iraqi politics.

Nor can we be sure that the CIA will engage only in espionage or influence-peddling in Iraq. The American shadow government routinely kidnaps people it considers dangerous and has sent them to black sites for torture, often by third-party governments to keep American hands clean. As usual with the shadow government, private corporations have been enlisted to help in these “rendition” programs, which are pursued outside the framework of national and international law and in defiance of the sensibilities of our allies. How the United States might behave in Iraq can be extrapolated from its recent behavior in other allied countries. In November 2009 an Italian court convicted in absentia twenty-three people, most of them CIA field officers who had kidnapped an alleged Al Qaeda recruiter, Abu Omar, on a Milan street in the middle of the day and sent him to Hosni Mubarak’s Egypt for “interrogation.” Obama has explicitly continued this practice as a “counterterrorism tool,” though he says torture has been halted. Iraq is likely to continue to be an arena of such veiled struggles.

The Obama administration’s severe unilateral sanctions on Iran and attempts to cut that country off from the world banking system have a shadow power aspect. Aimed at crippling Iran’s oil exports, they are making it difficult for Iran to import staples like wheat. Although Washington denies carrying out covert operations in Iran, the US government and allies like Israel are suspected of doing just that. According to anonymous US intelligence officials and military sources interviewed by The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, the United States has trained members of the MEK (Mojahedin-e Khalq, or People’s Jihadis), based in Iraq at Camp Ashraf, to spy on Iran and carry out covert operations there, just as Saddam Hussein had done, though any American support for the organization would directly contradict the State Department listing of it as a terrorist organization. The MEK is suspected of carrying out a string of assassinations against Iranian nuclear scientists, but US intelligence leaks say Israel’s Mossad, not the CIA, is the accomplice. Indeed, the difficulty of disentangling Washington’s shadow power from that of its junior partners can be seen in the leak by US intelligence complaining that Mossad agents had impersonated CIA field officers in recruiting members of the Jundullah terrorist group in Iranian Baluchistan for covert operations against Iran. Jundullah, a Sunni group, has repeatedly bombed Shiite mosques in Zahedan and elsewhere in the country’s southeast. Needless to say, the kind of overt and covert pressure Obama is putting on Iran could easily, even if inadvertently, spark a war.

The recent release of more than 5 million e-mails hacked from the server of the private intelligence firm Stratfor shows that it did more than analysis. It engaged in surveillance and intelligence activities on behalf of corporate sponsors. Dow Chemical, for example, hired Stratfor to monitor a protest group agitating on the issue of the catastrophic 1984 gas leak in Bhopal, India, which killed at least 3,500. WikiLeaks maintains that Stratfor exemplifies the “revolving door” between private intelligence firms and the US government agencies that share information with them.

The increasingly frequent use of civilian “security contractors” — essentially mercenaries — should be a sore point for Americans. The tens of thousands of mercenaries deployed in Iraq were crucial to the US occupation of that country, but they also demonstrate the severe drawbacks of using shadow warriors. Ignorance about local attitudes, arrogance and lack of coordination with the US military and with local police and military led to fiascoes such as the 2007 shootings at Baghdad’s Nisour Square, where Blackwater employees killed seventeen Iraqis. The Iraqi government ultimately expelled Blackwater, even before it did the same with the US military, which had brought the contractors into their country.

* * *

The bad feelings toward the United States generated by hired guns can also be seen in the infamous Raymond Davis incident in Lahore, Pakistan. On January 27, 2011, Davis, a CIA contractor, was waiting at a traffic light when two Pakistanis pulled up next to him on a motorcycle. Davis, who later alleged that one of them had a gun, became alarmed and shot the men. The driver survived the initial volley and tried to run away, but Davis shot him twice in the back. Instead of fleeing the scene, he spent time searching and then photographing the bodies and calling the US consulate for an extraction team. Undercover CIA field officers raced toward the site of the shooting in a consulate SUV, hoping to keep Davis out of the hands of Pakistani authorities, who were approaching, sirens blaring. In its haste, the extraction team killed a motorcyclist and failed in its mission. Davis was taken into custody. His cellphone yielded the identities of some forty-five members of his covert network in Pakistan, who were also arrested.

The incident provoked rolling street demonstrations and enraged Pakistanis, who are convinced that the country is crawling with such agents. Davis was jailed and charged with double homicide, and only released months later, when a Persian Gulf oil monarchy allegedly paid millions on behalf of the United States to the families (in Islamic law, families of a murder victim may pardon the murderer on payment of a satisfactory sum). It was a public relations debacle for Washington, of course, but the salient fact is that a US public servant shot two Pakistanis (likely not terrorists) in cold blood, one of them in the back.

American drone strikes on individuals and groups in the tribal belt of northwestern Pakistan, as well as in Yemen, also typify Washington’s global shadow wars. The United States has 7,000 unmanned aerial vehicles, which it has deployed in strikes in six countries. Both the CIA and the US military operate the drones. Rather than being adjuncts to conventional war, drone strikes are mostly carried out in places where no war has been declared and no Status of Forces Agreement has been signed. They operate outside the framework of the Constitution, with no due process or habeas corpus, recalling premodern practices of the English monarchy, such as declaring people outlaws, issuing bills of attainder against individuals who offend the crown and trying them in secret Star Chamber proceedings.

Despite President Obama’s denials, the Britain-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism has found that not only are civilians routinely killed by US drone strikes in northern Pakistan; often people rushing to the scene of a strike to help the wounded are killed by a second launch. The BIJ estimates that the United States has killed on the order of 3,000 people in 319 drone strikes, some 600 of them civilian bystanders and 174 of those, children. Some 84 percent of all such strikes were launched after Obama came to office.

Moreover, the drone operations are classified. When asked about strikes, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton refuses to confirm or deny that they have occurred. The drones cannot be openly debated in Congress or covered in any detail by the US media. Therefore, they cannot be the subject of a national political debate, except in the abstract. The Congressional intelligence committees are briefed on the program, but it is unlikely that any serious checks and balances can operate in so secret and murky a realm, and the committees’ leaders have complained about the inadequacy of the information they are given. No hearing could be called about them, since the drone strikes cannot be publicly confirmed. Classified operations create gods, above the law.

* * *

The WikiLeaks State Department cables reveal that Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and former Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh secretly authorized US drone strikes, pledging to take the blame from their angry publics. But a private conversation with a single leader, repeatedly denied thereafter in public, is hardly a treaty. The only international legal doctrine (recognized in the United Nations charter) invoked to justify drone strikes is the right of the United States to defend itself from attack. But it cannot be demonstrated that any drone strike victims had attacked, or were in a position to attack, the United States. Other proposed legal justifications also falter.

The doctrine of “hot pursuit” does not apply in Yemen or Somalia, and often does not apply in Pakistan, either. The only due process afforded those killed from the air is an intelligence assessment, possibly based on dubious sources and not reviewed by a judge. Those targeted are typically alleged to belong to Al Qaeda, the Taliban or some kindred group, and apparently thought to fall under the mandate of the September 14, 2001, Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force by the president against those behind the September 11 attacks and those who harbored them. The AUMF could probably legitimately be applied to Ayman al-Zawahiri’s Al Qaeda faction, which still plots against the United States. But a new generation of Muslim militants has arisen, far too young to be implicated in 9/11 and who may have rethought that disastrous strategy.

Increasingly, moreover, “Al Qaeda” is a vague term somewhat arbitrarily applied by Washington to regional groups involved in local fundamentalist politics, as with the Partisans of Sharia, the Yemeni militants who have taken over the city of Zinjibar, or expatriate Arab supporters in Pakistan of the Haqqani network of Pashtun fighters — former allies of the United States in their struggle against the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. How long will the AUMF be deployed in the Muslim world to authorize cowboy tactics from the skies? There is no consistency, no application of the rule of law. Guilt by association and absence of due process are the hallmarks of shadow government. In September the Obama administration used a drone to kill a US citizen in Yemen, Anwar al-Awlaki. But since the Supreme Court had already ruled, in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), that the AUMF could not authorize military tribunals for Guantánamo detainees that sidestepped civil due process — and since the subsequent Military Commissions Act of 2006 allows such tribunals only for aliens — it is hard to see how Awlaki’s right to a trial could be summarily abrogated. Two weeks after he was killed, his 16-year-old son, also a US citizen and less obviously a menace to the superpower, was also killed by a drone.

By contrast, the United States and its allies are sanguine about a figure like the Libyan Abdel Hakim Belhadj, now in charge of security in Tripoli, who fought in Afghanistan against the Soviet Union and was later held in US black sites. Released, he emerged as a rebel leader in Libya last year. The circumstantial case against him would easily allow a US drone strike on him even now under the current rules, but he was rehabilitated because of his enmity toward Muammar el-Qaddafi.

* * *

Among the greatest dangers to American citizens from Washington’s shadow power is “blowback,” the common term for a covert operation that boomerangs on its initiator. Arguably, the Reagan administration marked a turning point in the history of US infatuation with shadow power. Reagan strong-armed King Fahd of Saudi Arabia into providing funds to the right-wing Contras in Nicaragua, and the president developed his own resources for the Contras by illegally selling weapons to Iran (despite its being on the terrorist watch list and ineligible for such sales). Washington also joined Fahd in giving billions of dollars of arms and aid to the fundamentalist mujahedeen in Afghanistan (“freedom fighters,” Reagan called them, “the equivalent of America’s founding fathers”), where Arab volunteers ultimately coalesced into Al Qaeda. They later used the tradecraft they had absorbed from CIA-trained Afghan colleagues to stage operations in the Middle East against US allies and to carry out the 9/11 attacks. Two allied groups that received massive aid from the Reagan administration became among the deadliest US enemies in Afghanistan after 2002: the Haqqani network and the Hizb-i-Islami. Blowback goes hand in hand with covert operations.

The use of mercenaries and black units by the US government undermines discipline, lawfulness and a strong and consistent chain of command. Regular armies can be deployed and then demobilized, but Al Qaeda-like networks, once created, cannot be rolled up so easily, and they often turn against former allies. Black intelligence and military operations with virtually no public oversight can easily go rogue.

Reagan’s shadow government was a disaster, but it was a pygmy compared with Obama’s. Americans will have to be prepared for much more blowback to come if we go on like this — not to mention further erosion of civil liberties at home, as the shadow government reaches back toward us from abroad. (Electronic surveillance without a warrant and the militarization of our police forces are cases in point.) Moreover, the practices associated with the shadow government, because of the rage they provoke, deepen mistrust of Washington and reduce the international cooperation that the United States, like all countries, needs. The shadow government masquerades as a way to keep the United States strong, but if it is not rolled back, it could fatally weaken American diplomacy.
Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Professor of History and the director of the Center for South Asian Studies at the University of Michigan. His latest book, Engaging the Muslim World, is available in a revised paperback edition from Palgrave Macmillan. He runs the Informed Comment website.

Copyright © 2012 The Nation – distributed by Agence Global

Stories by Juan Cole

Juan Cole is a professor of history at the University of Michigan and maintains the popular blog Informed Comment.

How America Went Rogue: What We All Need to Know About Our Government’s Shadow Wars

Posted on Apr 22, 2012, Source: The Nation

Reagan’s shadow government was a disaster, but it was a pygmy compared with Obama’s.

Why Washington’s Iran Policy Could Lead to Global Disaster

Posted on Apr 12, 2012, Source: TomDispatch.com

What history should teach us about blockading Iran.

10 Catholic Teachings Conservatives Reject While Obsessing About Birth Control

Posted on Feb 13, 2012, Source: JuanCole.com

Santorum and Gingrich are both Catholics, and wear their faith on their sleeves, but they are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.

How Students Landed on the Front Lines of Class War

Posted on Nov 23, 2011, Source: Truthdig

University students find themselves victimized by the same neoliberal agenda that has created the current economic crisis.

What Norway’s Terrorist Has in Common With the American Tea Party and Right Wing

Posted on Jul 24, 2011, Source: Informed Comment

Why seeing the world in black and white is so dangerous.

Police Downloading Your Data off Your Phone After Pulling You Over — A Nightmare Reality

Posted on Apr 20, 2011, Source: Truthdig

Obama is siding with police who want to use GPS devices to track you without a warrant.

Was the West’s Intervention in Libya Justified?

Posted on Mar 29, 2011, Source: Democracy Now!

Juan Cole defends the use of force to aid the Libyan rebel movement. Professor Prashad warns the US has involved itself in a decades-long internal Libyan struggle.

An Open Letter to the Left on Libya: Why Intervention in Libya Is a Good Thing

Posted on Mar 29, 2011, Source: JuanCole.com

Juan Cole: “I am unabashedly cheering the liberation movement on, and glad that the UNSC-authorized intervention has saved them from being crushed.”

Uprisings in Tunisia, Yemen, Egypt — America Is Paying the Price for Supporting Corrupt Dictatorships in the Muslim World

Posted on Jan 25, 2011, Source: TomDispatch.com

Paranoia about Muslim fundamentalist movements and terrorism is causing Washington to make bad choices that will ultimately harm American interests and standing abroad.

Tunisian Revolution Shakes and Inspires Middle East

Posted on Jan 19, 2011, Source: Truthdig

Every state and movement in the Middle East is reading into the events in Tunisia its own anxieties and aspirations.

WikiLeaks: Israel Plans Total War on Lebanon, Gaza

Posted on Jan 3, 2011, Source: Informed Comment

The Israeli military is planning out massive bombings of areas full of innocent civilians.

Afghanistan: Obscenely Well-Funded, But Largely Unsuccessful War Rages on Out of Sight of the American Public

Posted on Nov 18, 2010, Source: Truthdig

That there has been heavy fighting in Afghanistan this fall would come as a surprise to most Americans. 10 NATO troops were killed this past Saturday and Sunday alone.

Asian Powers Are Starting to Call the Shots, and the US Can’t Do Anything About It

Posted on Nov 11, 2010, Source: TomDispatch.com

Just how weakened the United States has been in Asia is easily demonstrated by the series of rebuffs its overtures have suffered from regional powers.

Harvard Professor’s Shocking Proposal: Starve the Palestinians in Gaza into Having Fewer Babies

Posted on Feb 26, 2010, Source: JuanCole.com

At a recent conference, Prof. Martin Kramer called for population growth in the Muslim world to be restrained and made a series of other outrageous claims.

The Ten Worst Nightmares Bush Inflicted on America

Posted on Dec 22, 2009, Source: Informed Comment

Here are my picks for the top ten worst things about the wretched period, which will continue to follow us until citizens stand up to fix them.

100 Years of Imperial Paranoia About the Pashtuns

Posted on Jul 28, 2009, Source: TomDispatch.com

The doomsday rhetoric in Washington over lightly settled, mountainous Pashtun tribal lands is strikingly similar to that of the British Empire.

Let’s Hope India Doesn’t React Like We Did to 9/11

Posted on Dec 2, 2008, Source: Outlook India

The choices India makes now about the threat of terrorism will help determine what kind of superpower it will be.

Forget the Surge — Violence Is Down in Iraq Because Ethnic Cleansing Was Brutally Effective

Posted on Jul 29, 2008, Source: JuanCole.com

The bloodbath in Baghdad has resulted in fewer ethnically mixed neighborhoods, leading to the recent drop in violence.

Juan Cole — Iraq Civil War Round-Up

Posted on Mar 28, 2008, Source: Informed Comment

The latest, as violence flares up across Iraq.

Iraq’s Three Civil Wars

Posted on Mar 6, 2008, Source: MIT Center for International Studies

There are three major conflicts in Iraq — and the U.S. is virtually powerless to stop them.

New Iraqi Law on Baath Worries Ex-Baathists

Posted on Jan 14, 2008, Source: Informed Comment

The passage of the new law will be hailed by the War party as a major achievement. But as usual they’re misreading what really happened.

Romney: Some Beliefs are More Equal than Others

Posted on Dec 9, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Romney’s “landmark” speech didn’t follow in Kennedy’s footsteps — it was the antithesis of JFK’s call for religious tolerance.

Iraq Oil Bonanza for Hunt; Displacement, Hunger, Alcoholism, Addiction for Iraqis

Posted on Sep 10, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Texas oil cronies readying to clean up.

Big Lies Surround the Iraq “Surge”

Posted on Sep 1, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Juan Cole slices and dices the administration’s spin.

Bush and Napoleon Both Believed Their Own Propaganda About a “Greater Middle East”

Posted on Aug 25, 2007, Source: TomDispatch.com

There are times when the resonances of history are positively eerie. The parallels of Napoleon’s occupation of Egypt with Bush’s disaster in Iraq are enough to make you jump out of your chair.

Al-Maliki Declines Turkish Terror Treaty; Kurds Pass Oil Law

Posted on Aug 8, 2007, Source: Informed Comment

Iraqi-Turkish relations are strained, and the Kurds pass an oil law before the national government in Baghdad.

Top Ten Iraq Myths for 2006

Posted on Dec 29, 2006, Source: Informed Comment

Sunnis, Civil War, Sadr and the prospects of ‘victory.’

A Ceasefire Call in Lebanon Bush Can’t Ignore

Posted on Aug 3, 2006, Source: Informed Comment

Shiite leader Ayatollah Sistani’s call for a ceasefire should be heeded, or else the U.S. military mission in Iraq could quickly become untenable.

Hitchens the Warmongering Hacker

Posted on May 5, 2006, Source: AlterNet

Juan Cole chastises Christopher Hitchens and tells warmongers to ‘sit down and shut up.’

Fishing for a Pretext to Squeeze Iran

Posted on Mar 17, 2006, Source: Truthdig

Despite Bush’s new national security report, it’s clear that Iran presents little threat, so the administration must have other motivations.

The Democracy Lie

Posted on Mar 19, 2005, Source: TomPaine.com

President Bush and his supporters are taking credit for spreading freedom across the Middle East. But where changes are genuinely occurring they have nothing to do with the U.S. invasion of Iraq.

Elections: A Baby Step

Posted on Feb 2, 2005, Source: Informed Comment

The details behind the ballyhooed elections – that Bush first opposed them and then postponed them for his own benefit – tend to get lost in the media’s boosterism.

The Other Shoe Drops: bin Laden Weighs in

Posted on Oct 30, 2004, Source: Informed Comment

In a new video, bin Laden indicts Bush for still hiding the truth from Americans, saying that the reasons for attacking the U.S. are still there. In other words, Bush has not made us safer.

The New and Improved Iraq

Posted on Jun 28, 2004, Source: In These Times

The so-called handover is merely a symbolic act that does little to alter the daunting reality on the ground. The only move that could bring real change is the complete withdrawal of the United States.

The Cleric Who Would Be Rousseau

Posted on Jun 10, 2004, Source: TomPaine.com

The man who will determine the shape of the new Iraq is not Iyad Allawi but Shi’ite leader Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani. The good news: He’s no Khomeini.

Battle of the Photographs

Posted on May 3, 2004, Source: TomDispatch.com

The problem of war images from Iraq alienating Iraqis and Arabs has dogged the Bush administration from the start of the war. Now, the administration is losing the battle of images with the American public, as well.

The RAND Corporation: America’s University of Imperialism

RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development)
RAND Corporation (Research ANd Development)

By Chalmers Johnson, TomDispatch.com

[This essay is a review written by Chalmers Ashby Johnson for the book: Soldiers of Reason: The RAND Corporation and the Rise of the American Empire by Alex Abella]

The RAND Corporation of Santa Monica, California, was set up immediately after World War II by the U.S. Army Air Corps (soon to become the U.S. Air Force). The Air Force generals who had the idea were trying to perpetuate the wartime relationship that had developed between the scientific and intellectual communities and the American military, as exemplified by the Manhattan Project to develop and build the atomic bomb.

Soon enough, however, RAND became a key institutional building block of the Cold War American Empire. As the premier think tank for the U.S.’s role as hegemon of the Western world, RAND was instrumental in giving that empire the militaristic cast it retains to this day and in hugely enlarging official demands for atomic bombs, nuclear submarines, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and long-range bombers. Without RAND, our military-industrial complex, as well as our democracy, would look quite different.

Alex Abella, the author of Soldiers of Reason, is a Cuban-American living in Los Angeles who has written several well-received action and adventure novels set in Cuba and a less successful nonfiction account of attempted Nazi sabotage within the United States during World War II. The publisher of his latest book claims that it is “the first history of the shadowy think tank that reshaped the modern world.” Such a history is long overdue. Unfortunately, this book does not exhaust the demand. We still need a less hagiographic, more critical, more penetrating analysis of RAND’s peculiar contributions to the modern world.

Abella has nonetheless made a valiant, often revealing and original effort to uncover RAND’s internal struggles — not least of which involved the decision of analyst Daniel Ellsberg, in 1971, to leak the Department of Defense’s top secret history of the Vietnam War, known as The Pentagon Papers to Congress and the press. But Abella’s book is profoundly schizophrenic. On the one hand, the author is breathlessly captivated by RAND’s fast-talking economists, mathematicians, and thinkers-about-the-unthinkable; on the other hand, he agrees with Yale historian John Lewis Gaddis’s assessment in his book, The Cold War: A New History, that, in promoting the interests of the Air Force, RAND concocted an “unnecessary Cold War” that gave the dying Soviet empire an extra 30 years of life.

We need a study that really lives up to Abella’s subtitle and takes a more jaundiced view of RAND’s geniuses, Nobel prize winners, egghead gourmands and wine connoisseurs, Laurel Canyon swimming pool parties, and self-professed saviors of the Western world. It is likely that, after the American empire has gone the way of all previous empires, the RAND Corporation will be more accurately seen as a handmaiden of the government that was always super-cautious about speaking truth to power. Meanwhile, Soldiers of Reason is a serviceable, if often overwrought, guide to how strategy has been formulated in the post-World War II American Empire.

(more…)

U.S. Mass Incarceration of Black Men

Racial disparity between US and incarcerated populations

According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, non-Hispanic blacks comprised 39.4 percent of the total prison and jail population in 2009, with an imprisonment rate that was six times higher than white males and almost three times higher than Hispanic males.

Journalist Lisa Ling has covered a range of topics on her documentary series “Our America,” which were aired in November 2011. In an episode titled “Incarceration Generation,” Ling explored the disproportionate number of black men behind bars and the challenges they face after being released. The show also discussed the effect imprisonment has had on multiple generations, creating a cycle of poverty in the African American community.

Ling spoke about her work with the OWN network (The Oprah Winfrey Network) series that is now in its second season, a venture she took on after doing investigative work for the National Geographic Channel and a three year stint on ABC’s “The View.”

“It has certainly been the most gratifying work experience I’ve ever had,” she said, according to Eurweb.com. “I can’t tell you how many times throughout the course of shooting this series, that I felt like I was in a foreign place or a distant place. But the reality is that all of these stories, in their greatest complexity, are in our backyards.”

Statistics show that an incarcerated man is not foreign within the black community. According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, non-Hispanic blacks comprised 39.4 percent of the total prison and jail population in 2009, with an imprisonment rate that was six times higher than white males and almost three times higher than Hispanic males.

That number goes beyond prison doors and into homes. A Bureau of Justice Statistics special report found that over 1.7 million children had a parent in prison in 2008, usually a father. Of those fathers, four in 10 in state or federal prisons were black. Studies have found that children of incarcerated parents face unique difficulties including increased chances of homelessness, agressive behavior, failure in school and future imprisonment.

In addition, ex-offenders are far less likely to find a job upon their release from prison, crippled not only by their criminal record, but oftentimes, additionally hindered by their lack of experience and education. According to a 2003 report by the New York University Urban Institute Reentry Roundtable, about 70 percent of offenders and ex-offenders are high school dropouts.

Source: BLACK VOICES

[Lisa J. Ling (born 1973) is an American journalist, best known for her role as a co-host of ABC’s The View (from 1999–2002), host of National Geographic Explorer, reporter on Channel One News, and special correspondent for the Oprah Winfrey Show and CNN. She is the older sister of journalist Laura Ling.]

U.S. Prison System: Largest in the World

The U.S. prison system is the largest in the world, not only in terms of overall number of inmates, but as a percentage of the total population as well.  With over 2.3 million people behind bars, U.S. prisoners represent almost 25% of the world’s total prison population (the U.S. population is 5% of the world).  The only country that comes close is Russia, with South Africa a distant third.

The U.S. has the highest rate of jail in the world

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US Debt in Graphs and Charts

Political Party Responsibility in US Debt 1901-2009

Political Party Responsibility in US Debt 1901-2009

Composition of U.S. Long-Term Treasury Debt 2005-2010

Composition of U.S. Long-Term Treasury Debt 2005-2010

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