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Framing Lockerbie, Freeing Megrahi

Sep 04, 2009 John Pilger
Lockerbie: Megrahi Was Framed by John…
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The United State of Bilderberg

May 16, 2009 ddjango .
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Burnt Offering: 3,000 Sacrifices to Greed and Folly

Jan 19, 2007
by Chris Floyd A few weeks ago, I was…
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From Weakness to Weakness: Obama's Foreign Policy Nightmare(s)

New Lows for Obama’s Failed Middle East Policy
by Shamus Cooke - CounterPunch
Obama seemed so traumatized by his Middle East blunders he decided to take a break, giving Ukraine a try instead. The distraction was just what the president needed. And the U.S. media followed obediently, while barely glancing at the flames in the rear-view mirror — until another explosion piqued their interest. The predictable break down of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians occurred when the Palestinian Authority backed out of a “peace process” they had zero to gain from.
 
Yet another failure after a string of Middle East fiascoes: Obama’s failed “surge” in Afghanistan, his disastrous bombing campaign and regime change in Libya (an international crime initially cheered as a “success” in the U.S. media), and his catastrophic proxy war in Syria, which grinds on with no end in sight and which helped re-ignite the Iraq conflict — another “success” turned disaster for U.S. foreign policy.
 
Obama has turned away in denial from the chaos he helped create, but the Middle East is still there, still in crisis, and balancing on a razor’s edge: Israel has bombed Syria and the Palestinian territories several times in recent months; while al-Qaeda style extremists still dominate giant swaths of Iraq and Syria (thanks to Obama’s Syrian proxy war). Lebanon, Turkey and Egypt are especially combustible, though one could make such an argument for every single country in the region. Obama’s proxy war in Syria is acting as the fuel.
 

For Whom the Kerry Clock Won't Toll: Peace Process Deadline Falling on Deaf Ears

Kerry’s Looming Deadline and the Peace Process Industry
by Ramzy Baroud PalestineChronicle.com
As the US-imposed April 29 deadline for a ‘framework’ agreement between the Israeli government and the Palestinian Authority looms, time is also running out for the American administration itself. The Obama administration must now conjure up an escape route to avoid a political crisis if the talks are to fail, as they surely will.
 
Chances are the Americans knew well that peace under the current circumstances is simply not attainable.
 
The Israeli government’s coalition is so adamantly anti-Arab, anti-peace and anti any kind of agreement that would fall short from endorsing the Israeli apartheid-like occupation, predicated on colonial expansion, annexations of borders, land confiscation, control of holy places and much more.
 
Ideally for Benjamin Netanyahu and his allies in the right, far-right and ultranationalists, Palestinians would need to be crammed in disjointed communities, separated from each other by walls, Jewish settlements, Jewish-only bypass roads, checkpoints, security fences, and a large concentration of Israeli military presence including permanent Israeli control of the Jordan Valley. In fact, while politicians tirelessly speak of peace, the above is the exact ‘vision’ that the Israelis had in mind almost immediately following the 1967 war - the final conquest of all of historic Palestine and occupation of Arab lands.
 

Taiwan's One-Hand Clapping Reunification Movement

On Democracy and the Occupation of the Taiwan Legislature
by Peter Lee - China Matters
With regard to the occupation of the Taiwan legislature and, in particular, the DPP’s determination to sidetrack the democratic process when the numbers were not in its favor on its pet issues, I was the recipient of some indignant feedback along the lines of Gandhi, MLK, etc. i.e. on issues of moral imperatives you gotta do what’s right, not just count the votes.

Color me unconvinced.
 
The big existential issue is reunification with the mainland. That ship has sailed. 96% of the population regards itself as Taiwanese. 60% oppose reunification, outnumbering proponents of reunification 3:1. The ROC is de facto independent. After 30+ years of elected governments, no political party is going to be able to impose reunification on Taiwan. If the KMT tries, the entire population of Taiwan is welcome to hit the bricks, with my blessing.

With reunification off the table, the key issue is whether Taiwan should tilt toward or away from the mainland economically.
 

Hijacking Media, Crashing Meaning

Hijacking the American Plane of State: Old Scripts and Empty Stories Signal a New Age
engelhardt united states of fearIsn’t there something strangely reassuring when your eyeballs are gripped by a “mystery” on the news that has no greater meaning and yet sweeps all else away?  
 
This, of course, is the essence of the ongoing tale of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Except to the relatives of those on board, it never really mattered what happened in the cockpit that day. To the extent that the plane’s disappearance was solvable, the mystery could only end in one of two ways: it landed somewhere (somehow unnoticed, a deep unlikelihood) or it crashed somewhere, probably in an ocean. End of story. 
 
It was, however, a tale with thrilling upsides when it came to filling airtime, especially on cable news. The fact that there was no there there allowed for the raising of every possible disappearance trope -- from Star Trekkian black holes to the Bermuda Triangle to Muslim terrorists -- and it had the added benefit of instantly evoking a popular TV show. It was a formula too good to waste, and wasted it wasn’t.
 
The same has been true of the story that, in the U.S., came to vie with it for the top news spot: the devastating mudslide in Washington State. An act of nature, sweeping out of nowhere, buries part of a tiny community, leaving an unknown but possibly large number of people dead. Was anyone still alive under all that mud? (Such potential “miracles” are like manna from heaven for the TV news.) How many died?
 
These questions mattered locally and to desperate relatives of those who had disappeared, but otherwise had little import. Yes, unbridled growth, lack of attention to expected disasters, and even possibly climate change were topics that might have been attached to the mudslide horror. As a gruesome incident, it could have stood in for a lot, but in the end it stood in for nothing except itself and that was undoubtedly its abiding appeal.

Venezuelan President Addresses Protests, Economic Challenges

Venezuela: A Call for Peace
by Nicolas Maduro
Caracas, Venezuela - The recent protests in Venezuela have made international headlines. Much of the foreign media coverage has distorted the reality of my country and the facts surrounding the events.
 
Venezuelans are proud of our democracy. We have built a participatory democratic movement from the grass roots that has ensured that both power and resources are equitably distributed among our people.
 
According to the United Nations, Venezuela has consistently reduced inequality: It now has the lowest income inequality in the region. We have reduced poverty enormously — to 25.4 percent in 2012, on the World Bank’s data, from 49 percent in 1998; in the same period, according to government statistics, extreme poverty diminished to 6 percent from 21 percent.
 
We have created flagship universal health care and education programs, free to our citizens nationwide. We have achieved these feats in large part by using revenue from Venezuelan oil.
 
While our social policies have improved citizens’ lives over all, the government has also confronted serious economic challenges in the past 16 months, including inflation and shortages of basic goods. We continue to find solutions through measures like our new market-based foreign exchange system, which is designed to reduce the black market exchange rate. And we are monitoring businesses to ensure they are not gouging consumers or hoarding products. Venezuela has also struggled with a high crime rate. We are addressing this by building a new national police force, strengthening community-police cooperation and revamping our prison system.
 

Stepping on Ukraine's Gas Pedal

The Most Profitable Gas in the World
by Robert BenshOilprice.com

There is only one certainty in Ukraine: The energy sector must and will be transformed, and how long this takes will depend on who ends up in the driver's seat and how serious they are about becoming a part of Europe and reducing dependence on Russia. But by then, investors will have missed the boat.

 

The driving factor for any energy investor in Ukraine is the pricing environment. There is nowhere else in Europe—or some would even argue in the world—where you are going to get significant access to resources and potential resources for the price. Gas is selling at $13.66/Mcf, while it costs $4-$5 to produce and operate. That means producers are netting anywhere between $8 and $9/Mcf.

 

Whether it likes it or not, kicking and screaming, Ukraine will have to transform its energy sector, if it hopes to see promised IMF money. Kiev will have to start selling off assets and making the industry much more transparent. Greater transparency coupled with an already-favorable gas price environment, will make Ukraine one of the best places to be over the next 5-7 years.

 

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The Omnipresent Now: Forget Future, "Present Shock" is Now

Present Shock and Future Consequences
by Ray Grigg - Shades of Green
The future isn't what it used to be. The psychological and sociological impact of rapid technological change on individuals and cultures was serious enough in the 20th century to inspire Alvin Toffler's seminal book, Future Shock. The section headings — The Death of Permanence, Transience, Novelty, The Limits of Adaptability, Strategies for Survival — reveal the serious stresses and adjustments required to survive in a society undergoing constant upheaval and information overload.
 
Those, it seems, were the “good ol' days”. The rate of change, with its immediacy and pervasive flood of information, has increased exponentially in the 21st century, to such an extent that the distance from the present to the future has essentially disappeared. The result, according to Douglas Rushkoff, in his book Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now, is the escalation of impacts to a disorienting and debilitating new phase.
 
“The crises arrive from everywhere, and all at once,” contends Rushkoff. “The responses do, too.” 
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A Media Call for Somnabulism on Climate

The Neverending 'Wakeup Call'
by David Cromwell and David Edwards - Media Lens
The new report by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is clear that the impacts of climate change are likely to be 'severe, pervasive and irreversible'. Impacts include droughts, floods, heat waves, endangered species, crop failure, food insecurity, famine and even war.
 
But for more than 25 years, since the IPCC was set up in 1988, there have been numerous scientific 'wakeup calls' and nothing significant has changed. In fact, turbo-charged, fossil-fuel driven capitalism has proceeded to run amok. And, for the vested interests who are the winners in the global economy, the tiny 'one per cent' or less, it is vital that nothing stops their continued 'success'. Their cynical propaganda campaign is often dressed up as the need to be 'sensible' and to take measures that do no 'harm' to the economy.
 
As Dana Nuccitelli, an environmental scientist and contributor to SkepticalScience.com, notes:
 
'Contrarians have tried to spin the conclusions of the report to incorrectly argue that it would be cheaper to try and adapt to climate change and pay the costs of climate damages. In reality the report says no such thing. The IPCC simply tells us that even if we manage to prevent the highest risk scenarios, climate change costs will still be high, and we can't even grasp how high climate damage costs will be in the highest risk scenarios.'
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A Hard, Mean Spirit Blowing Through Our Times

Dear Landlord: A Message from the Zeitgeist
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque
Mr. Carl Kandutsch, a business lawyer down Plano way (and, it turns out, a fellow CounterPunch contributor), writes in to take issue with a recent post I put up here in these run-down precincts.
 
I had written what I thought was a straightforward piece asking readers to consider giving some support to a writer I admire -- Arthur Silber -- who is going through a serious medical crisis. I must say I was a bit taken aback by some of the responses, which seemed to come from the Paul Ryan school of social compassion:
 
"Losers who are sick and low on money don't deserve any help because they want to be sick and low on money. They're just ungrateful malingerers, fakers, takers, they like to beg."
 
And so on.
 
Pretty depressing stuff. But as I noted in the comments, this is just the zeitgeist of the age: a hard, mean spirit blowing through our times, where compassion has curdled and vulnerability is considered a cause for scorn and suspicion.
 

A Widening Lens: Jonathan Schell and the Fate of the Earth

The Widening Lens: Jonathan Schell and the Fate of the Earth
by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch
Up to a few months ago, Ben Suc was a prosperous village of some thirty-five hundred people.” 
 
That is the initial line of The Village of Ben Suc, his first book, a copy of which I recently reread on a plane trip, knowing that he was soon to die. That book, that specific copy, had a history of its own. It was a Knopf first edition, published in 1967 in the midst of the Vietnam War, after the then-shocking text had appeared in the New Yorker magazine. 
 
An on-the-spot account of an American operation, the largest of the Vietnam War to that moment, it followed American troops as they helicoptered into a village controlled by the enemy about 30 miles from the capital, Saigon. All its inhabitants, other than those killed in the process, were removed from their homes and sent to a makeshift refugee camp elsewhere. The U.S. military then set Ben Suc afire, brought in bulldozers to reduce it to rubble, and finally called in the U.S. Air Force to bomb that rubble to smithereens -- as though, as the final line of his book put it, “having once decided to destroy it, we were now bent on annihilating every possible indication that the village of Ben Suc had ever existed.”
 
I had read the piece in the New Yorker when that magazine devoted a single issue to it, something it had not done since it published John Hersey’s Hiroshima in a similar fashion in 1946. I never forgot it. I was then 23 years old and just launched on a life as an anti-Vietnam War activist. I would not meet the author, 24-year-old neophyte reporter Jonathan Schell, for years.
 

Teevee Spoilers and Political Leaks

TV Secrets vs. Washington Leaks
by Walter Brasch
For almost a year, the people of the critically-acclaimed and popular CBS drama, “The Good Wife,” kept a secret, one so powerful that viewers were shocked by the abruptness of what happened on screen, March 23.
 
Will Gardner (portrayed by Josh Charles), one of the major characters, was killed by his client during murder trial. Within seconds, even before the show’s conclusion, viewers were texting and tweeting, shocked and confused and angry and upset and sad, all at the same time. There was no hint in the entertainment media that Will would be killed off.
 
Charles wanted to be dropped from the show after his four year contract expired at the end of the 2012- 2013 season, but didn’t want to do anything to harm the show. So he, the producers, and writers decided to extend the contract for a 15-show arc in the 2013-2014 season that would take his character and those around him, including Alecia Florrick (portrayed by Julianna Margulies) spinning in another direction, one that would change the characters’ dynamics and interactions.