I did something worse than St. Augustine did when I was a kid. I must confess I broke into a house on the other side of town, and I did it just because it was such an ugly beat-down house that needed work so badly. Well, that and I kind of wanted to move out of my parents'.
I broke in at night and I started the renovations. I smashed a lot of the furniture up and actually knocked out a couple of walls. I destroyed the electric panel and stopped up the toilets. The place was a serious, serious wreck, and I was pretty tired, and the owners came home.
They were an elderly couple, and they threatened me and threw stuff at me, but â€“ I'm ashamed to say -- I got a little rough with them and put them in their place. The trouble was, there were two of them and the phone still worked. One of them called the cops, who showed up pretty fast.
I explained to the cops what a wreck the house had been before I'd gotten there, and that seemed to satisfy them at first. Eventually I had to slip them $200 before they would leave me alone. But they were the least of my problems. And when they left, I didn't know what the old man had given them. Add a comment
Review: The ChÃ¡vez Code â€“ Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela by Eva Golinger
Perhaps the greatest triumph of modern capitalism has been its ability to sell itself and to do it by fair means and foul with the emphasis on the foul.
Historically, it has been the CIA which up until the 1990s did the dirty work for US imperialism as the record clearly shows. However, the CIAâ€™s record in overthrowing foreign governments is far from being a success story. A new strategy was needed, and one which was untainted with the â€˜dirty tricksâ€™ label of the Nixon years and which could be sold to the public under the umbrella of â€˜spreading democracyâ€™, Western-style of course.
Aside from the obvious harnessing of the corporate and state media in this process has been the creation of innumerable â€˜foundationsâ€™, â€˜NGOsâ€™ and spin-offs of the various organs of the state such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a plethora of quasi-governmental structures like the National Endowment for Democracy [sic] or NED.
Big business has been an integral part of this process funnelling literally billions of dollars into a plethora of foundations and â€˜think tanksâ€™ which work hand-in-glove with the state in not only projecting the capitalist way of life but in directly interfering in the internal affairs of foreign countries whenever â€˜private propertyâ€™ is seemingly threatened.
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The Holiday Season has arrived, unfolding before us, like a cheap vinyl wallet, here in The United States of American Express. The days spill forth, their hours comprised of shopping and shooting sprees, of retail and retaliation. Jingle bells and the crackle of gunfire. This is the way an empire falls, with armies of confused killers abroad and legions of killer clowns at home.
A decade and half ago, we watched smugly as The Kremlin came undone. Yet, somehow we believe ourselves to be immune from the rot that causes empires to collapse from within.
The Social Realist poets of the former Soviet Union made themselves the objects of much (deserved) derision, when, in the service of the dogmatic dictates of state communism, they penned poetic odes to crop yields, tractors and other farm implements.
When a Russian attempts to convey his passions, his soul is prone to reach inward seeking poetic depths. In contrast, nowadays, in situations of crucial importance, such as the anxious waiting in long lines involved when attempting to procure PlayStation 3s among the throngs of their fellow Home Entertainment Unit-lusting Fred C. Dobbs types, Americans express their ardor -- by reaching for a gun. For we all know that The Baby Jesus would find the sound of Yuletide gunfire to be as soothing as a celestial lullaby. Add a comment
Jimmy Carter was the latest to use the M Word. The former president said he believes the "occupancy of Iraq and all the consequences of it are a big mistake." This echoes John Kerry's infamous 1971 question: "How do you ask a man to die for a mistake?" Hmm...perhaps recalling a few details about the Vietnam "mistake" might shine some light on the Iraq "blunder."
In 1954, Vice President Richard Nixon explained the need for U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia: "The Vietnamese lack the ability to conduct a war or govern themselves." Over the next two decades, the U.S. (by mistake?) dropped the equivalent of one 500-pound bomb for every person living in Vietnam. (Those bomber doors really needed better latches.) In 1966, David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News & World Report, wrote: "What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times." When challenged with stories of American atrocities in Vietnam, Lawrence corrected his little gaffe, "Primitive peoples with savagery in their hearts have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized existence." When at war with savages, you can rationalize dumping 400,000 tons of napalm on them.
What Americans (mistakenly) called the "Viet Cong" was really the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the NLF enjoyed the broad support of the Vietnamese people. In response, the U.S. Army began, as author Mark Zepezauer explains, "destroying villages, herding people into internment camps, weeding out the leaders and turning the countryside into a 'free-fire zone' (in other words, shoot anything that moves)." Add a comment
Well, the New York Times just got sucked in again to help the Bush Administration make the case for starting a war with Iran and Syria. Sorry, but how obtuse can some folks be? I refer to the so-called news reported by Michael Gordon and Dexter Filkins in today's New York Times. The essence of their breathless report is that Iran, via Hezbollah, is training the Shia militia in Iraq. Well, NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Consider this quote from today's article:
Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.For informed readers, you will recall that Pat Lang and I wrote about this in August of 2005. We said: Add a comment
By Chris Floyd
You would think that by now we would have "supp'd full with horrors" on the New York Times op-ed pages. What could be worse than the atrocities that have filled those gray columns in the past few years, the loud brays for war, the convoluted excuses for presidential tyranny, the steady murmur of chin-stroking bullshit meant to comfort the comfortable elite and confirm them -- at all times, at any cost -- in their well-wadded self-righteousness? Surely, you would think, we have seen the worst.
If this was your thought, then alas, alas, alack the day, you were bitterly mistaken, my friend. Comes now before us the portly, fur-lipped figure of Thomas Friedman, Esq., who today has penned what must be the most morally hideous and deeply racist column ever to appear in those rarefied journalistic precincts: "Ten Months or Ten Years."
It seems that this very enthusiastic promoter of the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq - which he proudly called "a war of choice," apparently not realizing that he was parroting the propagandists of the Nazi regime that killed millions of his ethnic kindred -- has now discovered that Iraqi Arabs are hopeless, worthless barbarians, broken by "1,000 years of Arab-Muslim authoritarianism" and can only be held together by an "iron fist." (He got all this from reading a new book, apparently. Well, a little literacy, like a little learning, is a dangerous thing, I reckon -- and as anyone who has ever exposed themselves to the dull, flat buzz of Friedman's prose can attest, his literacy is little indeed.)
In fact, the only thing America did wrong in its "effort to bring progressive politics or democracy to this region" was not coming down hard enough on this darky riff-raff: "Had we properly occupied the country, and begun political therapy, it is possible an American iron fist could have held Iraq together long enough to put it on a new course. But instead we created a vacuum by not deploying enough troops." Instead, we took it easy on them -- I mean, Jesus H. Jiminy Cricket Walker Christ, we only killed 600,000 of them; what kind of pussyfooting around is that? -- and look what happened. A Sunni insurgency sprang up, whose only goal -- whose ONLY goal, mind you -- was to make America look bad: "America must fail in its effort to bring progressive, etc., etc. America must fail â€“ no matter how many Iraqis have to be killed, America must fail." What was their "only one goal" again, Tom? Oh yeah: America must fail. Not a single ding-dang one of them ornery critters ever had any other motive whatsoever to take up arms against an army of foreigners who had invaded and occupied their country.
From Erinys website. Kalashnikovs for sale or rent.
As Beatroot notes, the crescendo of Russophobia has climaxed into the international press declaring a new Cold War.
Are we at war with Russia? Well, with Putin, certainly, in case anyone hadnâ€™t noticed. Ever since he started throwing his oil weight around.
Itâ€™s a war which puts some very strange bedfellows on the same side. Martin Kelly, who has dug up any number of iffy relationships in the Litvinenko affair, yesterday connected Boris Berezovsky, Erinys, Bell, PR and Iraq. And by association, The Blairs and Richard Perle. Er, what?
The story so far.
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On my way to the elevated subway station today, I caught sight of my neighborhood's most clearcut (pun very much intended) sign that Santa season is fully upon us: Christmas tree lots. I detect the familiar faces of the folksâ€¹positioned, as always, in front of Rite Aidâ€¹hawking pines and firs long since separated from their roots. According to the National Christmas Tree Association, approximately 30-35 million "real" Christmas trees are sold in the U.S. every year and roughly 100,000 people are employed in the Christmas tree industry.
"As soon as the turkey's in the Tupperware, thoughts turn to getting ready for Christmas," begins one recent newspaper story. "And what says Christmas more than the tree?" Yep, as Thanksgiving is to the turkeys, Christmas is to evergreen. It almost seems to go unnoticed that the enduring symbols of winter's two most celebrated holidays are the annual targets of human killing sprees. You can sing "O Christmas Tree" until you go hoarse, but that tree you just bought is dying before your eyes.
Ninety-eight percent of all American Christmas trees are grown on the more than 21,000 Christmas tree farms; these farms eat up about 450,000 acres of land. It takes about 7-10 years for a Christmas tree to mature, and for every harvested tree, 2-3 seedlings are planted. Think of it like factory farming for firs. Add a comment
Noam Chomsky needs no introduction. He's MIT Institute Professor Emeritus of linguistics and a leading anti-war critic and voice for over 40 years for social equity and justice. He's also one of the world's most influential and widely cited intellectuals on the Left. Gilbert Achcar is a Lebanese-French academic, author, social activist, Middle East expert and professor of politics and international relations at the University of Paris. Their new book, Perilous Power, is based on 14 hours of dialogue between them over three days in January, 2006 and updated six months later in July in a separate Epilogue at the end. It covers US foreign policy in the most volatile and turbulent region in the world, the Middle East, and discusses the wars in Iraq, Palestine, Lebanon and Afghanistan as well as such key issues as terrorism, fundamentalism, oil, democracy, possible war against Iran and much more. Chomsky and Achcar collaborated with Stephen Shalom, Professor of Political Science at William Paterson University acting as moderator to pose questions and keep the discussion on track.
The book is divided into five chapters. This review will cover each of them in enough detail to give the reader a good sense of their flavor and content. Add a comment
Think of it as a Tomdispatch.com milestone. This is now the first website to "indict" the President, the Vice President, and their colleagues for defrauding us into war in Iraq. I put that "indict" in quotes because what follows, as former federal prosecutor Elizabeth de la Vega makes clear in her new book United States v. George W. Bush et al., is "not an actual indictment." It can't be, of course; but consider it the second best thing.
De la Vega has, in her career as a prosecutor, prepared numerous fraud indictments and, as she argued in the first excerpt from her book posted at Tomdispatch earlier this week, "A Fraud Worse than Enron," what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their senior officials committed was a crime, not just in the colloquial sense of the word, but in the legal sense too (and not a victimless crime either). While their crime was of a magnitude that puts even Enron, no less run-of-the-mill fraud cases, to shame, it also has all the elements of a typical, small-time scam.
De la Vega's "hypothetical indictment" of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and Colin Powell that you are about to read remains, unfortunately, in the realm of fantasy. But only for now. Until our world comes more fully to grips with the criminal nature of the Bush administration's acts, you can at least turn to the full de la Vega book. A Tomdispatch.com special project, produced in conjunction with Seven Stories Press, a wonderful independent publisher, it's officially published on December 1st (but available now). Add a comment
As long as there has been a U.S. military, people have been leaving it. That choice has never been more appropriate than today. Individuals who signed up to defend the United States are engaged in a war that was sold on the basis of lies, was entirely unnecessary, is making us less safe, has nothing to do with defending anyone, and which involves the horror of slaughtering men, women, and children by the hundreds of thousands. The majority of Americans want the war to end and just voted accordingly in the Congressional elections. The majority of Iraqis want the war to end. The majority of American service men and women in Iraq want the war to end. And taking part in this war is illegal, whether you are ordered to do so or not.
Approximately 6,000 Americans have refused to report for duty or deserted in order to avoid taking part in this war, or to avoid taking further part in it. Many have objected to the stop loss program that requires them to serve longer than they had agreed to. Others have objected to the rationale behind the war and the horrors that are part of it. Many are best able to support their families by avoiding military service that is poorly compensated. In the cases we know the most about, one motivation for desertion that is clearly absent is cowardice. While quiet desertion tends not to result in any penalty, public opposition and resistance often means prison.
Lt. Ehren Watada, the first U.S. military commissioned officer to publicly refuse to fight in Iraq , has said that he will not obey an illegal order. He faces court martial on February 4, 2007, for obeying the law. Sgt. Camilo Mejia was one of the first Iraq War vets to publicly refuse to return to Iraq â€“ for which he served 9 months in prison. Mejia objected to the war as based on lies and to the murdering and torturing of civilians that he witnessed. Sgt. Kevin Benderman is serving a 15-month sentence for the crime of applying for conscientious objector status and refusing to serve any longer in Iraq . Marine Corps reservist Stephen Funk was the first enlisted man to publicly refuse deployment to Iraq , and he spent 6 months in prison as a result. He said: "I will not obey an unjust war based on deception by our leaders."
Dan Felushko enlisted as a Marine after September 11, 2001. When ordered to Iraq he deserted, commenting: "I didn't want 'Died Deluded in Iraq ' over my gravestone. I didn't see a connection between the attack on America and Saddam Hussein." Add a comment
Over the past several years, people who care about what is happening in the world and who feel compelled to tell the truth about it have had a tremendous realization: we have the means of production to make media.This realization has spurred a media revolution in which the traditional model of passively consuming the news through a corporate filter has given way to a new model of active citizenship and aggressive truth-telling.
With at least 60 million blogs in existence, according to Technorati.com, there are a lot of voices vying for our attention. Though citizen journalists and alternative media-makers often struggle to find distribution and reach a substantial audience, their presence has dramatically and positively altered the media-political complex during this era of columnists bribed by administration officials, news stories created and prepackaged by federal government agencies, increasingly concentrated ownership over the media, nationalism, profit-seeking, risk-averse careerism, and censorship.
It is a clear sign of the democratization of the media when the Internet, once the headquarters of only the political fringe, provides such a strong progressive community that the â€œNet-Rootsâ€ can influence an election on any scale. For a long time, it was only the independent and alternative media that questioned the policies of this government, while the mainstream media became either dormant or complicit. Add a comment
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