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The New Caligulas: Republican Grotesque Burlesque

America Revisits the Dark Side: Candidates Compete to Promise the Most Torture and Slaughter
by Rebecca Gordon - TomDispatch

January 7, 2016
 
They’re back!

From the look of the presidential campaign, war crimes are back on the American agenda. We really shouldn’t be surprised, because American officials got away with it last time -- and in the case of the drone wars continue to get away with it today.

Still, there’s nothing like the heady combination of a “populist” Republican race for the presidency and a national hysteria over terrorism to make Americans want to reach for those “enhanced interrogation techniques.”

That, as critics have long argued, is what usually happens if war crimes aren’t prosecuted.

In August 2014, when President Obama finally admitted that “we tortured some folks,” he added a warning. The recent history of U.S. torture, he said, “needs to be understood and accepted. We have to as a country take responsibility for that so hopefully we don’t do it again in the future.”
 
By pinning the responsibility for torture on all of us “as a country,” Obama avoided holding any of the actual perpetrators to account. 
 

Pennsylvania's Systemic Denial of Medical Treatment an Effective Death Panel

Pennsylvania’s Barbaric Protocol for Non-Treatment of Prisoners with Hep-C: Prisoners' lives don't matter, at least in this state
by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening
 
January 5, 2016

Scranton - One of the most astonishing things to come out of a three-day hearing in federal court in this gritty played-out coal town, where noted prisoner-for-life Mumia Abu-Jamal was last month seeking an injunction to force the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections to provide him with medication to treat his raging Hepatitis-C infection was the discovery that the state has been withholding that life-saving treatment not just from him but from almost all of the 6-7000 inmates in state prisons who have active Hep-C cases, and that the state’s doing this not just for medical reasons, but as punishment for prisoners found guilty of “misconduct” or suffering from any “addiction.”
 
Word of this medieval and sadistic approach to medical care for prisoners in a state that as a colony and later as a young state in the new nation of the United States of America had pioneered humane punishment came late in the hearing when the attorney for the DOC, Laura Neal, admitted that she had at her desk in the courtroom a copy of a “protocol” for treatment of Hep-C.
 

New Years' Landing Nails Wall Street

Wall Street Kicks Off 2016 With a Faceplant
by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

January 5, 2016

2016 started with a thud on Monday when news from China sent global stocks into freefall. The Shanghai index plunged 242 points before a system-wide circuit breaker kicked in and trading was halted. All three major US indices followed Asia’s downward slide with the Dow Jones leading the pack with a triple-digit loss on the day.

The news that Chinese manufacturing continued to contract after ten straight months of erosion put the kibosh on any New Years rally as jittery traders dumped stocks at a pace not seen since 2011.

The combination of dreary economic data, shrinking profits, dwindling capital investment, sub-par growth, and higher interest rates has put Wall Street in a foul mood foreshadowing a volatile and bumpy year ahead with little cause for celebration.
 
While the proximate cause of the current turbulence is China’s flagging manufacturing sector, the underlying reasons are even more important, like the dismal state of the US economy which continues to languish in a long-term coma.
 

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Derrick Broze, Tim Anderson, Janine Bandcroft January 6, 2016

This Week on GR
by C. L. Cook - Gorilla-Radio.com

 
Welcome to our first show of the new year. Beginnings, even arbitrarily designated calendrical ones, offer opportunities for self-reflection and change-making both in our personal lives and in the life of the greater society.

And, looking back at the year just past, it's easy to see there's plenty of change needed in not only the way the World is run, but also in the way we great primates think about our place in it. But what are we to do? A good start, my first guest suggests, is becoming a little more conscious of the preconceptions and biases limiting our understanding.
 
Derrick Broze is a freelance journalist, community activist, gardener, promoter from Houston, Texas, and co-author of the book, 'The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality.' He's founder of both the Houston Free Thinkers, and The Conscious Resistance Network, and hosts the weekly podcast, The Conscious Resistance Live.
 
Listen. Hear.

According to Broze, consciously resisting means, "being willing to engage in self reflection, and pursuing knowledge of the self." The goal is freedom; freedom from the linear patterns of thought and action taught and reinforced by a society with an apparent death wish; or, as Derrick puts it, "Without knowing our own doubts, hopes, fears, dreams, insecurities and strengths we can not truly know what freedom means to us as an individual."

Derrick Broze in the first half.


And; there's no doubt, who informs us about the world effects how we live in it. Currently, Big M media within the Anglo-American power configuration is struggling to maintain the structural integrity of its narrative surrounding the ongoing conflict in the Middle East, and the great refugee exodus that conflict has created. Crucial to any good yarn of course is the villain; in this case the Black Hats are IS. Known variously as ISIS, ISIL, Daesh, and the Islamic State, these are the actors whose dastardliness makes anything done by us, naturally the heroes of this epic, just OK, (if not actually justified).

But what if ISIL, ISIS, Daesh, and/or the Islamic State is not who, or what the storytellers say it is? What if the story is just that, a story invented to cover the real motives behind the nightmare unleashed on Syria, and the whole of the middle east?

Tim Anderson is an Australian solidarity activist and academic at the University of Sydney. He has degrees in economics and international politics, and a doctorate in the political economy of economic liberalization in Australia. While his scholarly studies focus on economic development, human rights and self-determination within the Asia-Pacific region and Latin America, his latest articles, published at Global Research, explore the complex web of local and international interests at play in Syria and Iraq conflict. His latest is, 'The Dirty War in Syria: Washington Supports Islamic State -The Evidence'.

Tim Anderson and the role frenemies play in Washington's great Middle East game in the second half.


And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emertius and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of the coming week from our city's streets, and beyond there too. But first, Derrick Broze, actively raising the consciousness level of alternative journalism.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: http://cfuv.uvic.ca.  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, http://www.pacificfreepress.com. Check out the GR blog at: http://gorillaradioblog.blogspot.ca/
Add a comment Add a comment Read more: Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Derrick Broze, Tim Anderson, Janine Bandcroft January 6, 2016

Can Cops Be Trusted with Guns?

Cops: Too Crazy to be Trusted With Guns
by Ted Rall - CounterPunch

January 4, 2016
 
We’re not supposed to question juries. They’re our peers. They put in long hours, working hard essentially for free. Most of all, they see all the evidence. We don’t.

We have to assume that they know what they’re doing.

Sometimes, however, a jury verdict relies on so many false assumptions, baseless assignments of privilege and twisted logic that you have to call it out.
 
The decision of a Cleveland grand jury not to indict the cop who shot 12-year-old Tamir Rice to death is one such time.

Visiting Stalingrad on the Middle East: Wasting Syria as Punishment

Syria is the Middle Eastern Stalingrad
by Andre Vltchek  - Dissident Voice

January 2nd, 2016

Day and night, for years, an overwhelming force has been battering this quiet nation, one of the cradles of human civilization.
 
Hundreds of thousands have died, and millions have been forced to flee abroad or have been internally displaced. In many cities and villages, not one house is left intact. But Syria is, against all odds, still standing.

During the last 3 years I worked in almost all of Syria’s perimeters, exposing the birth of ISIS in the NATO-run camps built in Turkey and Jordan. I worked in the occupied Golan Heights and in Iraq. I also worked in Lebanon, a country now forced to host over 2 million (mostly Syrian) refugees.
 
 
Homs, Syria

The only reason why the West began its horrible destabilization campaign was because it “could not tolerate” Syria’s disobedience and the socialist nature of its state. In short, the way the Syrian establishment was putting the welfare of its people above the interests of multi-national corporations.
 

Pipe Dreams and Broken Promises: BCLiberals Chart a Rocky Course

Liberals’ broken promises should make for tough election year
by Rafe Mair - Common Sense Canadian

January 3, 2016

This is the time of year and the point in the government’s mandate that analysis of the months to come is de rigeur.
 
Time will demonstrate that Christy Clark’s big mistake, when assuming the premiership, was not nullifying Gordon Campbell’s Energy Program which has, predictably, enriched large international corporations and bankrupted BC Hydro.

Had Clark tackled this issue, with a courage of which we have seen no sign, restored BC Hydro’s obligation to make new power and abrogated the sweetheart deal with the private companies, BC Hydro would be in decent financial shape and site C would still be the pipe dream of pointy-headed BC Hydro energy assessors.

Premier Clark sworn in, 2013
(Province of BC/Flickr CC licence)
 

Tea and a Greenhouse in Kabul

Visits and Conversations in a Kabul Winter
by Kathy Kelly - VCNC

January 4, 2016
 
Here in Kabul, last week, at the Afghan Peace Volunteer (APV) community home that hosts me, I watched Abdulhai and visiting activist Aaron Hughes work out ways to secure the greenhouse which they had partially assembled that morning.

Warmed by the effort and with the sun beaming down on all of us, they sat on the garden ledge in their shirtsleeves although it is a quite cold winter here, talking about the greenhouse perched on an uneven garden plot before them.
 
I had watched Aaron, Abdulhai, Ron and Hakim maneuver the partly assembled greenhouse from a neighbor’s storage area, over a fence, and onto the garden plot. Aaron is 6 ft. 5 inches tall. His strength and height helped the process considerably.

Pennsylania Penal in Denial: Hepatitis C Epidemic and Refusal of Treatment Highlighted in Abu-Jamal Case a "Shocking Barbarity"

PA Prison System Admits Secret 'Protocol' Denies Hep-C Treatment to All But Prisoners Near Death: Judge to rule next month on Mumia challenge to non-treatment policy
by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

January 1, 2016

Following three days of contentious testimony in a courtroom in Scranton, PA late last month, a federal district judge is considering a legal petition by Pennsylvania's most well-known prisoner Mumia Abu-Jamal for a finding that the state's long-running refusal to treat his active case of Hepatitis-C, a potentially fatal disease, violates his Eighth Amendment right not to be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment.

Over the past 16 months Abu-Jamal has suffered an array of symptoms and ailments, from a serious skin condition to diabetes that witnesses at trial testified were symptomatic of and likely caused by an active case of Hep-C. It's an infection the state has known him to have in his body since a blood screening test taken in 2012 when he was first transferred off of death row and placed into a general population prison following the overturning of his 1982 death sentence.

Abolitionist Law Center Legal
Director, Bret Grote

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC) tried initially to prevent the hearing, claiming that Abu-Jamal had not "exhausted" the department's grievance procedures, and that his complaint about non-treatment was defective, for example because he had not explicitly named all of the doctors who had seen him. but Judge Robert Mariani was dismissive of those dilatory arguments and after rejecting them, ordered that the hearing on the injunction go forward.

Duvet Project: Voices from Kabul

Notes from Kabul
by Carolyn Coe - VCNV

They have descended from homes built on the mountainside. Women sit together in the cemetery not to mourn but to wait for the duvet distribution to begin.

When I approach them, each woman extends a hand in greeting. Some have the needed small stamped pieces of paper to receive two duvets but most don’t.

One of the women tells me about the pain in her chest, her legs. She talks about the war. I listen to all the manifestations of her suffering.
 
I understand only a handful of words but as she clasps my hand, I know she wants my help in receiving a pair of duvets, too.

Oil Sector Sleepwalks into the New Year

Deepwater Looks Shaky In 2016
by OilPrice.com
Is it over yet? 2015 will certainly go down as the worst year for energy stocks since 2008 – that is unless 2016 beats it for misery. Looking at certain sub-sectors, like off-shore drilling, 2016 could unbelievably make 2015 look tame.

We always knew that the bust cycle in oil prices was going to bring a lot of bad times for energy stocks – but no one imagined such carnage, even among the strongest names. I have been focusing on what I have called 'the survivors' and trying to find value in the shares of names like EOG Resources (EOG), Cimarex (XEC) and Hess (HES). With off-shore drillers, I've imagined even more awful times ahead, but took a speculative shot with Seadrill (SDRL), looking down the road two years at the inevitable rebound in deepwater drilling.

But the resilience of many of the unconventional drillers has unexpectedly extended the timeline in this oil bust cycle, catching me by surprise.
 

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