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Going Down to Ferguson: Reflectons on a Divided Society

Ferguson Reflections
by David Rovics - Song Writer's Notebook
I just got back from a trip to Ferguson, and elsewhere in the St Louis area, and I thought I'd share some of the thoughts and observations I've had along the way.

A little background seems in order, particularly for readers from other countries, who might not know.

Yes, there is a black president. However, the US is a segregated country. It is and always has been institutionally a profoundly racist country. Slavery was defeated, but Jim Crow essentially remains. Only the formalities have changed.

You don't need a “whites only” sign to maintain a very separated, unequal society. My own history is a classic illustration.

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Post-Modern American Policing Meets a Long "Bullet Lynching" Tradition

Lawless Law Enforcers: In America the 'Terrorists' All Too Often Are the Police
by Linn Washington  - This Can't Be Happening
Two acts of ugly terrorism occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963. One act was widely abhorred. The other act ignored.
 
Many across America know about the 9/15/63 Birmingham murders of four little girls slain in the bombing of a black Baptist church 18-days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his stirring “I Have A Dream” speech.
 
However, few know about the Birmingham murder of Johnny Robinson, a 16-year-old shot in the back by a policeman hours after that church bombing.
 
If the deaths of those four children inside that Birmingham church catalyzed the 1960s-era Civil Rights Movement contributing to the racial progress America now praises itself for achieving, the death of Johnny Robinson represents yet another instance of the regression across America on the issue of effectively addressing lawlessness by law enforcers – lawlessness that most often evades legal accountability.

Michael Brown, murdered by a Fergusson cop while surrendering, 
and two images of modern US policing at work
 
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Killing Cold: A Nation of Bloody Cowards

Nation of Cowards
by John Chuckman - Chuckman Blog
What else can you fairly call a people who attack a population of refugees confined to a small space surrounded on every side by fences and machine-gun towers, a population with nowhere to run? No, that is not put strongly enough. Not just attack, but use the latest and most ferocious weapons from the American arsenal to slaughter more than 2100 people, including more than 500 children, destroying along the way a major portion of the housing, businesses, and institutions of a poor people.
 
The definition of a coward is not the traditional military one of a soldier who won’t fight. No, that’s far too simplistic and self-serving. The genuine meaning of the word, the meaning that warrants our full sense of revulsion and contempt, is someone who attacks someone far weaker than themselves. A large man who beats a woman or a child with his fists or a policeman who clubs a handcuffed prisoner – that is the accurate and meaningful definition of the word.
 
And the people of Israel responsible for Operation Protective Edge are as sadly perfect examples of genuine cowards as you can find in the world.
 

Independence without Freedom: Scotland's Failure to Launch Independence Plan

Scotland Should Declare Its Independence From Alex Salmond
by Greg Palast - Reader Supported News 
I mean, what's the bloody point? Why pretend to declare your independence only to chain yourself to a coin with a British snout on it and simultaneously beg to become a colony of Angela Merkel's Fifth Reich, aka the European Union?

I realize that, as an American and an economist, I carry into this debate a double dollop of disrespect from Scottish readers. But, with thousands of miles of salt water separating me equally from London and Edinburgh, I think I can see clearly what you miss from having your head inside the fish bowl.

There are two overwhelming and undeniable advantages for Scotland to declare its sovereign independence: to end both Scotland's damaging enchainment to the British pound and the debilitating tyranny of European Union membership.

Yet, weirdly, inexplicably and inexcusably, Alex Salmond promises to throw away the two most valuable benefits of national self-determination.

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Obama's Syria Neo-Con Job

Neocons Revive Syria ‘Regime Change’ Plan
by Robert Parry  - Consortium News
Obama Syria War RoomOfficial Washington’s ever-influential neoconservatives and their “liberal interventionist” allies see President Barack Obama’s decision to extend U.S. airstrikes against Islamic State terrorists into Syria as a new chance to achieve the long-treasured neocon goal of “regime change” in Damascus.
 
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden meet with members of the National Security Council in the Situation Room of the White House, Sept. 10, 2014. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza) 

 On the surface, Obama’s extraordinary plan to ignore Syrian sovereignty and attack across the border has been viewed as a unilateral U.S. action to strike at the terrorist Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but it could easily evolve into a renewed effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad’s government, ironically one of ISIS’s principal goals.
 

Ceasefire for Now: Retreat or Re-armament in Ukriane?

Ukraine – Truce or Trojan Horse: Retreat, Re-Armament and Relaunch
by James Petras
The NATO proxy war in the Ukraine started with the violent US-EU-sponsored overthrow of the elected government via a mob putsch in February 2014. This was well financed at $5 billion, according to President Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland.
 
The result was a junta, composed of neo-liberal puppets, rightist nationalists and fascists, which immediately proceeded to purge the Ukrainian legislature of any politicians opposed to the coup and Kiev’s submission to the European Union and NATO. The NATO-sponsored client regime then moved swiftly to extend its control by centralizing power and overturning the official policy of bilingualism (Russian and Ukrainian) in the southeastern regions. It was preparing to break its long-standing agreement over the huge Russian naval base in Crimea and renege on its massive debts to Russia for gas and oil imports.
 
These extremist measures by a violent coup regime amounted to a radical break with existing economic, cultural and political institutions and, naturally, provoked a robust response from large sectors of the population. The overwhelmingly Russian speaking majority in Crimea convoked a referendum with 90% voter participation: 89% voted to secede and rejoin Russia. The ethnic Russian and bilingual, industrialized southeast regions of Ukraine organized their own referenda, formed popular militias and prepared for an armed response from what they viewed as an illegal junta in Kiev. Threatened by the new measures against their language and traditional and economic ties with Russia, the resistance drew its fighters from the vast reservoir of skilled industrial workers, miners and local business people who understood that they would lose thousands of jobs and access to the Russian markets as well as cultural and family links under the boot of the EU-NATO puppet in Kiev.
 

Obama Takes the Back Door to War with Syria

Obama Declares War on Syria
by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch
Invoking the same ominous language as his predecessor, Barack Obama used a prime time presidential address on Wednesday to announce the beginning of a war on Syria. And while there’s no doubt that many Americans will be confused by Obama’s misleading focus on the terrorist organization named ISIL, the real purpose of the speech was to garner support for another decade of homicidal conflicts in the Middle East.

The administration is as determined as ever to plunge the region into chaos, erase existing borders, and install its puppets wherever it can.

ISIL – which is mainly an invention of western Intel agencies and their treacherous counterparts in the Gulf – conveniently creates the justification for another bloody invasion followed by years of occupation, subjugation, and revolt.
 
Barack Obama: “My fellow Americans — tonight, I want to speak to you about what the United States will do with our friends and allies to degrade and ultimately destroy the terrorist group known as ISIL. As commander-in-chief, my highest priority is the security of the American people…..
Thanks to our military and counterterrorism professionals, America is safer.
 
Still, we continue to face a terrorist threat. We cannot erase every trace of evil from the world, and small groups of killers have the capacity to do great harm. That was the case before 9/11, and that remains true today. That’s why we must remain vigilant as threats emerge.”

Get it? We are all in great peril and only our loving father, Obama, can save us. Where have we heard that before?
 

BP's Slapstick Defense Merits Slap on Wrist Finding in Deepwater Case

BP and the Three Stooges Defense
by Greg Palast - Truthdig
Stooges 3Forget Stephen King. If you want scary, read U.S. District Judge Carl Barbier’s 150-page Findings of Fact released Thursday in the Deepwater Horizon case.

Although the judge found BP liable for “gross negligence,” some U.S. media failed to mention that Barbier let BP off the hook on punitive damages. And that stuns me, given that the record seems to identify enough smoking guns to roast a sizable pig.

Here’s a standout example:

Every rig operator knows that, before a rig can unhook from a drill pipe, the operator has to run a “negative pressure test” to make sure the cement has properly sealed the drill pipe. If the pipe is safely plugged, the pressure gauge will read zero. The amount of pressure BP measured at 5 p.m. on April 20, 2010, the day of the explosion? 1400 psi (see the findings, pages 62-65).

1400 psi is not zero. Stick a balloon in your mouth with zero pressure and nothing happens except that you look silly. Replace the balloon with a hose delivering a 1400 psi blast and it’ll blow your skull apart.

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Continued Violence at Barrick Gold's Porgera Sends Indigenous Delegation to Ottawa

Increased Violence at Barrick’s Porgera Mine: Indigenous Ipili send Envoy from Papua New Guinea to Canada
by Porgera Alliance/MiningWatch Canada
Ottawa - Barrick Gold’s Porgera Joint Venture Mine in Papua New Guinea (PNG) has long been associated with extreme violence against local men and women by mine security and state police associated with the mine. The level of human rights abuses at the mine has spiked again this year.
 
In April, combined state police and army units were once again “called out” to Porgera by the PNG government to deal with Barrick’s ongoing inability to stop local people displaced by the mine from entering the pit and the mine’s massive uncontained waste flows in a desperate attempt to eke out a living from residual gold.
 
In June, MiningWatch Canada reported on the burning down of houses of the Tiene clan of the village of Wingima, adjacent to the mine, and associated human rights abuses such as the reported rape of local women by state police. This was a repeat of a similar mass burning of houses of the Tiene and other clans living near the mine by state police in 2009, reported on by MiningWatch and documented by Amnesty International.
 

MH17: NYTimes Printing News to Fit "Facts" on the Ground

NY Times Finds Conclusions Where None Exist in Dutch Flight 17 Downing Report: Making the news fit the politics
by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening
The New York Times, which has been miMalaysianFlight17 before and after holessreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.
 
This time America’s leading “newspaper of record” is distorting the preliminary report of the Dutch Safety Board which has been leading an investigation into the cause of the Flight 17 crash that killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew members of a Boeing 777 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia.
 
Frame of front windshield of Malaysian Flight 17 showing possible
bullet holes or rocket shrapnel, flight boxes and Flight 17 in the air
 
In an article published Wednesday, headlined “Report Finds Missile Strike Likely in Crash of Flight 17” and datelined Brussles, Times reporters Andrew Higgens and Nicola Clark write in their lead paragraph that “investigators, in their first account of the calamity, released evidence on Tuesday consistent with an attack by a surface-to-air missile but shed no clear light on who was responsible.”
 
They go on to write, however, on the basis of no evidence at all, that the preliminary report “...gave some indirect support to assertions by the United States and Ukraine that pro-Russian rebels shot down the aircraft with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile.”
 
Both paragraphs are completely at odds with the report, and that supposed “indirect support” is never mentioned. And no wonder: it doesn't exist in the report.
 

NYT Leads Cheer for Obama's Perpetual War

Perpetual War Is Fine With the New York Times After All 
by Norman Solomon
The editorial board of the New York Times has an Orwellian knack for war. Sixteen months ago, when President Obama gave oratorical lip service to ending "perpetual war," the newspaper quickly touted that end as a democratic necessity. But now -- in response to Obama's speech Wednesday night announcing escalation of war without plausible end -- the Times editorial voice is with the endless war program.
 
Under the headline "The End of the Perpetual War," published on May 23, 2013, the Times was vehement, calling a new Obama speech "the most important statement on counterterrorism policy since the 2001 attacks, a momentous turning point in post-9/11 America."

The editorial added:
 
"For the first time, a president stated clearly and unequivocally that the state of perpetual warfare that began nearly 12 years ago is unsustainable for a democracy and must come to an end in the not-too-distant future."
 

What the Meaning of Is Is: Israel and ISIS

ISIS and Israel allies against a Palestinian state
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
An image speaks a thousand words – and that is presumably what Israel’s supporters hoped for with their latest ad in the New York Times.
 
Two photographs are presented side by side. One, titled ISIS, is the now-iconic image of a kneeling James Foley, guarded by a black-hooded executioner, awaiting his terrible fate. The other, titled Hamas, is a scene from Gaza, where a similarly masked killer stands over two victims, who cower in fear.
 
A headline stating “This is the face of radical Islam” tries, like the images, to equate the two organisations.
 
We have heard this line repeatedly from Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, who tweeted “Hamas is ISIS” after the video of Foley’s beheading aired. Last week, in a speech addressed to the family of Steven Sotloff, ISIS’s latest victim, he called Hamas and ISIS “tentacles of a violent Islamist terrorism.”
 

Netanyahu's Gaza and the New Realities

Losing the Plot: Israel's Premier to Face New Gaza Reality
by Ramzy Baroud  - The Palestine Chronicle
Netanyahu’s war-turned-genocide in Gaza has backfired badly – his strategy has helped resurrect Hamas, the very movement he tried desperately to crush.
 
Aside from being a major military setback, Israel’s war on Gaza has also disoriented the policies of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu like never before. Since the announcement of a ceasefire on 26 August, his statements appear erratic and particularly uncertain, an expected outcome of the Gaza war.
 
Since his first term as a prime minister (1996-99), Netanyahu has showed particular savviness at fashioning political and military events to neatly suit his declared policies. He fabricated imminent threats that were neither imminent nor threats, for example, Iraq’s non-existent weapons of mass destruction. Later, he took on Iran.
 
He created too many conditions and laid numerous obstacles for peace settlements to ever be realised. The late Palestinian leader, Yasser Arafat, laboured for years to meet Israel’s conditions, and failed. Abbas has taken the same futile road. But Netanyahu’s conditions are specifically designed to be unattainable.