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Of War and Flowers: Wearing White for Peace

No More War; Wearing a White Poppy for Peace
white-poppy-close-up1On Remembrance Sunday in the UK, I stand with those who say “No More War,” and I refuse to be co-opted by the British establishment, which, shamefully, from the government to the media, insists that everyone should wear a red poppy, and, like a true authoritarian regime, pretends that not doing so is unpatriotic.

As a pacifist, today I am wearing with pride a white poppy, with the single word “Peace” in the middle of it, that was given to me last week by a work colleague during a presentation on the history of London that I gave at Central School of Speech and Drama, part of the University of London.

The white poppy was produced by the Peace Pledge Union, which describes itself as “the oldest secular pacifist organisation in Britain,” and which, since 1934, “has been campaigning for a warless world.”

The red poppy was initially chosen as an emblem by survivors of the First World War, and in the UK artificial poppies were sold to raise funds for ex-servicemen — particularly disabled ex-servicemen — following the formation of the British Legion in 1921.
 
As the Peace Pledge Union website explains;
 
“Everyone who fought in Belgium and northern France had noticed the extraordinary persistence and profusion of an apparently fragile flower: the cornfield poppy, which splashed its blood-red blooms over the fields every summer. It blooms there to this day, on the fields now returned to the farming they were meant for, and from which the bones of the dead are still collected as the farmers’ ploughs uncover them.”
 

Gotta Work This Time, Right? Iraq 3.0 Sputters

What Could Possibly Go Right? Four Months into Iraq War 3.0, the Cracks Are Showing -- on the Battlefield and at the Pentagon
by Peter Van Buren  - TomDispatch
van buren joad bookKarl von Clausewitz, the famed Prussian military thinker, is best known for his aphorism “War is the continuation of state policy by other means.”
 
But what happens to a war in the absence of coherent state policy?

Actually, we now know. Washington’s Iraq War 3.0, Operation Inherent Resolve, is what happens. In its early stages, I asked sarcastically, “What could possibly go wrong?” As the mission enters its fourth month, the answer to that question is already grimly clear: just about everything.
 
It may be time to ask, in all seriousness: What could possibly go right?
 

Election Post-Mortem: Democracy Dead, Wall Street Celebrates

Election Night not a GOP Victory but a Democratic Rout
by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening
The sclerotic Democratic Party was trounced yet again yesterday, as Republicans outdid projections and appear to have taken at least seven Senate seats away from the Democrats, giving them control of the both houses of Congress.
 
The blame is being placed on President Obama for this drubbing, and he richly deserves it. Basically, his presidency has been one long string of disappointments to and outright betrayal of those who voted for him “hoping for change,” as Obama has caved on or compromised away virtually every progressive promise he made during his two campaigns.
 
As a constitutional scholar, he had promised to restore respect for the law to the presidency, and instead has made end runs around every law imaginable, refusing to prosecute the war criminals of the Bush/Cheney presidency, the CIA, and the military, refusing to prosecute the FBI for violating the Patriot Act, refusing to prosecute the bankers whose crimes brought the US and the global economy to a grinding halt and left the US crippled going on six years now.
 

Senkakus: Obama's Other Sovereignty Troublespot

How Long Can the U.S. Exploit the Senkakus Sovereignty Crisis It Created?
by Peter Lee - China Matters
The United States does not acknowledge Japan's claim to sovereignty over the Senkakus. If thisfact is allowed to seep into the consciousness of journos, pundits, and newly minted Asia experts, perhaps a lot of stuff that has happened, is happening,and will happen in the East China Sea will appear somewhat more explicable.

But I'm not optimistic. I was rather dismayed to learn that An Important Journalistic Figuresubscribes to the myth that Japan's claims to Senkaku sovereignty areincontestable, and PRC shenanigans around the islands are simply anotherindication of unprovoked Chinese aggression and cupidity. Regrettably, this misunderstanding shows signs of getting baked into PRC coverage, and will serve as the departure pointfor years of China-bashing by a legion of journalistic, analytic, and political hacks.

The truth is, as they say, out there, and as usual it's much more interesting than the myth.

Death by Disinterest: Obama Presides Over Democrat Wipeout in Record Low Turnout

President Flim-Flam Leads Dems to Midterm Massacre
by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch
“The Republican victory does not represent a shift by the American population to the right, but demonstrates the bankrupt and reactionary character of the Democratic Party and the mass disillusionment with the Obama administration. In the absence of any progressive alternative to the two right-wing, corporate-controlled parties, the majority of potential voters stayed home. Voter turnout hit another record low, with only 38 percent going to the polls….Voter participation by young people fell particularly sharply. Barely one-third of eligible voters went to the polls in California, the most populous state.”  –Patrick Martin, Republicans win control of Senate in US congressional elections, World Socialist Web Site
“You don’t stick a knife in a man’s back nine inches, and then pull it out six inches, and say you’re making progress.”  –Malcolm X

The White House has denied claims that the midterm elections were a referendum on Barack Obama, but the polling data shows that they were. According to a CBS News exit poll:
 
“Fifty-four percent of those surveyed said their opinion of the president influenced their vote… 34 percent said they wanted to make a statement in opposition to Mr. Obama, while 20 percent said they voted in support of him.”

“Those differences were more stark among Republican voters “61 percent (of whom) said they cast ballots to take a stand against the current administration. (Only) Thirty-five percent of those who voted for GOP candidates said Mr. Obama didn’t play a role in their decisions at the polling places.” (2014 midterm elections look like a referendum on Obama, CBS News)
 

Washington Plans Broaden War in Syria/Iraq

Washington moving towards wider war in Iraq and Syria
by Bill Van Auken - WSWS

6 November 2014

There are new indications that Washington is moving toward a wider and protracted military intervention in the Middle East in the name of combating the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
 
In the wake of last weekend’s collapse of US-backed Syrian “rebels” in the face of an offensive by Al Qaeda’s Syrian affiliate, the Al Nusra Front, plans are being prepared to extend the three-month-old US-led bombing campaign deeper into Syria. The ostensible purpose of these air strikes would be to provide air support for the Western-backed militias formed to prosecute the war for regime change against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
 
The concern within US military and intelligence circles is that the Nusra Front fighters appear poised to seize control of the strategic Bab al-Hawa border crossing with Turkey, which has served as a key conduit for funneling arms and other aid to the Syrian “rebels.”
 
A substantial portion of that aid, including heavy weapons such as TOW anti-tank missiles and GRAD rockets, fell into the hands of the Nusra Front last weekend as the American-backed groups—the Syrian Revolutionary Front and Harakat Hazm (Steadfastness Movement)—surrendered without a shot being fired. Many of the members of these groups then joined the Nusra Front.
 
“The recent fighting in northwestern Syria has been taking place a long way from areas farther east where US and Arab warplanes have been pounding Islamic State positions,” the Washington Post reported Wednesday.
 “But US concern has grown rapidly in recent days amid fears about the [Bab al-Hawa] border crossing, according to senior administration officials who spoke about internal discussions on the condition of anonymity.”
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Remembering the Creators of Wars: Manufacturing the Sunni/Shi'ite Schism

The Vicious Politico-Religious Sunni-Shi’ite Civil War Ignited by the US in Iraq and Syria
by Rodrigue Tremblay - Dissident Voice
[There] is a memo [at the Pentagon] that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.
— General Wesley Clark, former Supreme Allied Commander of NATO (1997-2000), (March 2, 2007)

I don’t want to just end the [Iraq] war, but I want to end the mind-set that got us into war in the first place.
— Presidential candidate Barack Obama, (January 31, 2008)

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.
— Abraham Lincoln (1809—1865), 16th President of the United States (1861-65)
When the U.S. government of George W. Bush (2001-2009) decided to illegally invade militarily the country of Iraq and overthrow the Sunni government of Saddam Hussein, against the advice of many thinking persons, it opened a “Pandora Box” of woes that is still spewing out its calamities today, and probably will for many years to come. This is the first and foremost cause of the current quagmire prevailing in Iraq and in Syria today.
 
In 2009, the Barack Obama administration thought that it could wash its hands and walk away from the “biggest mistake in American military history” and let local Iraqi politicians sort things out and form an “inclusive” government in Baghdad.

Here is what President Obama said on February 27, 2009:
 
Let me say this as plainly as I can: by August 31, 2010, our combat mission in Iraq will end… Through this period of transition, we will carry out further redeployments. And under the Status of Forces Agreement with the Iraqi government [negotiated by the previous Bush administration], I intend to remove all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of 2011.
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Red Cross to Investigate Ontario Immigrant Detention Facility

Ontario finally allows Red Cross investigation of immigration jails, but deaths and indefinite imprisonment continues
by EIDN
Toronto End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), Canada’s leading detention watch group, welcomes the decision to allow Red Cross access to Ontario’s provincial prisons for the first time since 2008. However, the lack of any real oversight of prison conditions of immigration detainees adds to the dire need to end maximum-security imprisonment of immigrants without trial or charges. A GlobalNews report today documented 11 deaths in immigration detention custody since 2000.
 
Since September 2013, over 100 migrants held in a maximum-security prison in Lindsay, ON have been on a protest strike against endless detentions, sham judicial review processes, and imprisonment in maximum-security jails. EIDN is coordinating the strike, and in June 2014 released an expose on immigration detention showing signs of political interference in detention release processes. In July 2014, the United Nations condemned Canadian immigration detention practices in response to an application EIDN filed.
 
“Endless, cruel and illegal imprisonment is part of Stephen Harper’s lock ‘em up agenda, but why are provincial governments, particularly Ontario where most detainees are jailed, co-operating with this injustice? Wynne and other Premiers need to stop upholding Harpers’ anti-immigrant platform,” says Tings Chak, an organizer with EIDN.
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Ringing the Old Bell: Fragments From the Long and Wasted Years

Children of Lies: Fragments From the Long and Wasted Years
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque
In the course of a massive clean-out the other day, I came upon a box of overstuffed folders and musty papers — copies of some of the first pieces I’d ever had published, going back 35 years. For almost two decades they’d lain unseen in the bottom of an old trunk in my parents’ basement, stored there during one of the several peripatetic upheavals that punctuated my early adulthood. Then a freak flood hit the town, and most of the papers were damaged beyond rescue, fused into bundles that couldn’t be prised apart without crumbling into pieces.
 
Only one small box made it through; it had been sitting on top of a cache of love letters and other tender memorabilia destroyed by the water. This survivor I duly carted back across the ocean, to my home in England, where my peripateticism had come to an end. There it was promptly relegated to a new dark corner, to molder and yellow for several years more — until last week’s day of cleaning.
 
Naturally, I took the opportunity to let nostalgia draw me away from my chores, and spent an hour or so leafing through the articles. But beyond the bemusement at my early style (an odd mix of hellfire preacher and Gore Vidal manqué), I was most struck by the grim continuity between then and now. The same themes, and in many cases virtually the same content, sounded over and over, like “an echo from the future,” as Pasternak put it. With only a slight shifting of names, those yellowed pieces of political commentary could have been written in our era.
 
It’s all there: illegal wars based on lies; escalating inequality and militarization; the growing lawlessness of the elite; the radicalization of the Right by theocrats and corporate Birchers; the anemia of a "Left" sinking into accommodation and careerism; the manufactured hysteria over "terrorism" to justify the unchecked expansion of state power; the ineradicable racism; and the sinister embrace of "American exceptionalism" to hide the hollowness of a society in deep moral and physical decay, rotting under the sway of neoliberal extremism, letting its communities and infrastructure collapse, scorning the very idea of a “common good.”
 

Driving Forces Behind America's Oil Production "Renaissance"

The Driving Force Behind the US Oil Boom
by James Stafford - Oilprice.com
The shale revolution’s sweet spot is oilfield services, the lower-risk backbone of the American oil and gas boom that pays off regardless of a play’s economics.
 
Behind the stardom of the explorers and producers who have put themselves on the revolutionary shale map and absorb most of the risk—are the service providers who make up a highly lucrative market segment.
 
The US land-based rig count rose 3% over the last quarter, reaching a two-year high of 1,870 active rigs. A major factor in this growth has been an uptick in horizontal drilling in the Permian Basin, Texas’ revived giant, where the rig count was up 21% year-on-year.
 
And while oil prices slumped in October, drilling activity continues to rise according to Baker Hughes, the third-largest oil services company. Baker Hughes’ rig count is up 3.8% in the fourth quarter of this year, compared to the third quarter.
 

Obama Hoisted on His Petroleum Petard: Oil As a Weapon Blows Back

Has Washington Just Shot Itself in the Oily Foot?
by F. William Engdahl - NEO
By now even the New York Times is openly talking about the secret Obama Administration strategy of trying to bankrupt Russia by using its oil-bloated Bedouin bosom buddy, Saudi Arabia, to collapse the world price of oil. However, it’s beginning to look like the neo-conservative Russia-haters and Cold war wanna-be hawks around Barack Obama may have just shot themselves in their oily foot.

As I referred to it in an earlier article, their oil price strategy is basically stupid. Stupid, as all consequences have not been taken into account. Take now the impact on US oil production as prices plummet.
 
The collapse in US oil prices since September may very soon collapse the US shale oil bubble and tear away the illusion that the United States will surpass Saudi Arabia and Russia as the world’s largest oil producer. That illusion, fostered by faked resource estimates issued by the US Department of Energy, has been a lynchpin of Obama geopolitical strategy.