Masters Of War

Come you masters of war You that build all the guns You that build the death planes You that build all the bombs You that hide behind walls You that hide behind desks I just want you to know I can see through your masks. You that never done nothin' But build to destroy You play with my world Like it's your little toy You put a gun in my hand And you hide from my eyes And you turn and run farther When the fast bullets fly. Like Judas of old You lie and deceive A world war can be won You want me to believe But I see through your eyes And I see through your brain Like I see through the water That runs down my drain. You fasten all the triggers For the others to fire Then you set back and watch When the death count gets higher You hide in your mansion' As young people's blood Flows out of their bodies And is buried in the mud. You've thrown the worst fear That can ever be hurled Fear to bring children Into the world For threatening my baby Unborn and unnamed You ain't worth the blood That runs in your veins. How much do I know To talk out of turn You might say that I'm young You might say I'm unlearned But there's one thing I know Though I'm younger than you That even Jesus would never Forgive what you do. Let me ask you one question Is your money that good Will it buy you forgiveness Do you think that it could I think you will find When your death takes its toll All the money you made Will never buy back your soul. And I hope that you die And your death'll come soon I will follow your casket In the pale afternoon And I'll watch while you're lowered Down to your deathbed And I'll stand over your grave 'Til I'm sure that you're dead.------- Bob Dylan 1963

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Consolidation of Kim Jong-un's Power [Insight]

Paid Vacation Days Around The World

The Meaning of China’s Economic Slowdown | China Power

The Meaning of China’s Economic Slowdown | China Power:

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The X-47B Unmanned Combat Vehicle Took Its First Flight Over The East Coast - Business Insider

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Vehicle Took Its First Flight Over The East Coast - Business Insider:
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Warning: Dick Cheney Can Constitutionally Be Vice President Again. An Obama/Cheney ticket? LOL |

Warning: Dick Cheney Can Constitutionally Be Vice President Again |

An Obama/Cheney ticket does have a rather sweet and evil ring to it. LOL

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The Energy of Life As A Right of Passage.

Exclusive Pics: The Navy's Unmanned, Autonomous 'UFO' | Danger Room |

Exclusive Pics: The Navy's Unmanned, Autonomous 'UFO' | Danger Room |
x-47 1

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Asia Times Online :: Software tycoon reboots Korean politics

Asia Times Online :: Software tycoon reboots Korean politics:

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Asia Times Online :: The new Indo-Saudi alliance against terrorism

Asia Times Online :: The new Indo-Saudi alliance against terrorism:

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Asia Times Online :: Ukraine turns to Chinese cash

Asia Times Online :: Ukraine turns to Chinese cash:

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Post-War Warriors: Japanese Combatants in the Korean War  戦後の軍人−−朝鮮戦争で戦った日本人戦士 :: JapanFocus

Post-War Warriors: Japanese Combatants in the Korean War  戦後の軍人−−朝鮮戦争で戦った日本人戦士 :: JapanFocus:

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Drone Warfare: Killing By Remote Control

Mission Failure: Afghanistan A Message Written in Blood That No One Wants to Hear By Tom Engelhardt

Imagine for a moment that almost once a week for the last six months somebody somewhere in this country had burst, well-armed, into a movie theater showing a superhero film and fired into the audience. That would get your attention, wouldn’t it? James Holmes times 21?  It would dominate the news.  We would certainly be consulting experts, trying to make sense of the pattern, groping for explanations. And what if the same thing had also happened almost once every two weeks in 2011? Imagine the shock, imagine the reaction here.
Well, the equivalent has happened in Afghanistan (minus, of course, the superhero movies).  It even has a name: green-on-blue violence. In 2012 -- and twice last week -- Afghan soldiers, policemen, or security guards, largely in units being trained or mentored by the U.S. or its NATO allies, have turned their guns on those mentors, the people who are funding, supporting, and teaching them, and pulled the trigger. 
It’s already happened at least 21 times in this half-year, resulting in 30 American and European deaths, a 50% jump from 2011, when similar acts occurred at least 21 times with 35 coalition deaths. (The “at least” is there because, in May, the Associated Press reported that, while U.S. and NATO spokespeople were releasing the news of deaths from such acts, green-on-blue incidents that resulted in no fatalities, even if there were wounded, were sometimes not reported at all.)
Take July. There have already been at least four such attacks.  The first, on July 1st, reportedly involved a member of the Afghan National Civil Order Police, a specially trained outfit, shooting down three British soldiers at a checkpoint in Helmand Province, deep in the Taliban heartland of the country. The shooter was captured. Two days later, a man in “an Afghan army uniform” turned his machine gun on American troops just outside a NATO base in Wardak Province, east of the Afghan capital Kabul, wounding five before fleeing.  (In initial reports, the shooter in all such incidents is invariably described as a man “in an Army/police uniform” as if he might be a Taliban infiltrator, and he almost invariably turns out to be an actual Afghan policeman or soldier.) READ MORE

George Galloway: In Syria al-Qaeda is working with the Americans

Sunday, July 29, 2012

1931′s Remote-Controlled Farm of the Future

The farmer of the year 2031 works at his large flat-panel television (1931)
The March 1931 issue of The Country Gentleman magazine included this advertisement forTimken bearings. With the bold headline “100 YEARS AHEAD” the ad promises that the farmer of the future may be unrecognizable — thanks to Timken bearings, of course. Our farmer of tomorrow wears a suit to work and sits at a desk that looks oddly familiar to those of us here in the year 2012. We’ve looked at many different visions of early television, but this flat panel widescreen display really stands out as exceptionally visionary. Rather than toil in the field himself, the farmer of the future uses television (something more akin to CCTV than broadcast TV) and remote controls to direct his farm equipment.
Television technology wasn’t yet a practical reality in 1931, even though inventors had been making a go of it since 1880. But this high-tech vision of the future is even more astounding when you consider that when this advertisement ran the vast majority of farms didn’t even have electricity. In 1930, just 10.4 percent of the 6 million farms in the U.S. had electricity.
The ad tries not to position America’s agricultural advancements as merely things to come. This being Great Depression era advertising — where messages of reassurance are common — the ad copy makes sure to explain that American farmers are more technologically advanced than those of any other country in the world. But, of course, Timken bearings are the economical way to catapult you into a bold new agricultural future.
From the 1931 advertisement:
With science making such astonishing progress in all of its advanced branches, the above pictorial prediction may not be so far afield of the manner in which farming operations will actually be conducted 100 years hence… Operation of farm implements by means of television and remote electrical controls may then be more than merely an imaginary illustration… But even today, measured in terms of human progress, the American farmer is at least 100 years ahead of the rest of the world… In no other country under the sun will you find anywhere near 5,000,000 automobiles helping the farmer to a bigger and better life as you do in America… Over $2,500,000,000.00 worth of farm machinery — and radio valued at millions of dollars, are but a few of other factors that make American farm life profitable and pleasurable…Timken has both a direct and indirect bearing on practically everything you use or enjoy. For in the making of almost every important article, Timken Bearings play their part in keeping down costs… Your automobile, your telephone, your radios, your farm machinery are in countless cases fabricated with Timken Bearing equipped machinery… And after being economically manufactured with the aid of Timken, much of your power equipment, and an overwhelming majority of your automobiles and trucks have Timken Bearings. This is done so that your equipment will last longer — give more satisfactory service… Among the most important mechanical contributions of the last century are Timken Tapered Roller Bearings… With this advanced product all types of machinery enjoy friction freedom, which to you, the user, means longer life, lessened upkeep and reduced costs. If you would favor your pocketbook see that every piece of farm machinery that you purchase is Timken Bearing Equipped… The Timken Roller Bearing Company, Canton, Ohio.
If I hadn’t found it myself, I’d be extremely skeptical that this illustration was actually from 1931. That flat panel display is just too spot-on. For the sake of comparison, this was the American farmer of 1930:
American farmer operating a tractor and reaper (Library of Congress, circa 1930)

The Archaeology News Network: Genome study of African hunter-gatherers elucidates human variation, evolution and interbreeding

The Archaeology News Network: Genome study of African hunter-gatherers elucidates human variation, evolution and interbreeding:

These are western pygmies of Cameroon [Credit: Sarah Tishkoff]
Human diversity in Africa is greater than any place else on Earth. Differing food sources, geographies, diseases and climates offered many targets for natural selection to exert powerful forces on Africans to change and adapt to their local environments. The individuals who adapted best were the most likely to reproduce and pass on their genomes to the generations who followed
That history of inheritance is written in the DNA of modern Africans, but it takes some investigative work to interpret. In a report to be featured on the cover of the Aug. 3 issue of the journal Cell, University of Pennsylvania geneticists and their colleagues analyze the fully sequenced genomes of 15 Africans belonging to three different hunter-gatherer groups and decipher some of what these genetic codes have to say about human diversity and evolution. 
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And How Muslims Hold the Key to Christ By Pierre Klochendler

Armed ConflictsEditors' ChoiceFeaturedHeadlinesHuman RightsMiddle East & North Africa

And How Muslims Hold the Key to Christ

Adeeb Joudeh with the Key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Credit: Pierre Klochendler/IPS.
Adeeb Joudeh with the Key to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Credit: Pierre Klochendler/IPS.
JERUSALEM, Jul 29 2012 (IPS) - “A prayer knocks till the door opens,” a songster from the Church of the Holy Sepulchre sings from outside the door.
Inside the Church, Abuna Nicholas, the Greek monk on duty, limps towards the door, crosses himself along the Stone of Unction where tradition says Jesus’s body was prepared before burial, unlocks the loophole, and checks who knocks.
“Ismail Somrei!” announces the songster. The monk pushes a ladder out through the porthole. Somrei props it against the stone wall, climbs up. He still needs the keys, that are handed over to him by Adeeb Jawad Joudeh.
Joudeh is from a prominent Palestinian family. He is custodian of the keys of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. And, he’s a Muslim.
If doors are emblems of ownership, keys are symbols of custodianship. “Since 1187 till today, we hold the keys,” Joudeh says. “My whole family stands with me at this door. This is home, my second home.”
But there’s more to custodianship. He who holds the key usually opens the door. Not here. Somrei, also a Muslim, keeps the keys on behalf of the custodian. He is “the keys’ bodyguard,” jokes Joudeh.
The complications here advance another step. While at night Somrei the keys-keeper often acts as doorkeeper, in the full light of day it is Wajee Nuseibeh, the door custodian, who officially opens and closes the door.
“We’ve inherited from father to son, generation to the next,” declares the middle-aged descendant of another notable Palestinian family.
Common wisdom also has it that “the key that opens is the key that locks” the door. That too, not quite here. The two padlocks solidly attached to the door fall under the doorkeeper’s prerogatives. “Nobody’s allowed to open the Church – just me and myself,” says Nuseibeh.
The two Muslim families got to keep the keys and the door because of quarrels within the Church. “Like brothers, we sometimes fight,” confesses the Very Reverend Father Samuel Aghoyan, Armenian Superior of the Holy Sepulchre. “The Churches wouldn’t go along with each other, so the key was taken away from the dominant Church and entrusted to a neutral monotheistic faith that embraces the Christ as a prophet – Islam.” READ MORE

Paraguay Opens Doors to Unregulated Foreign Investment By Natalia Ruiz Diaz

Another Corporate puppet.

ASUNCION, Jul 27 2012 (IPS) - In his first 
month as president of Paraguay, Federico Franco has thrown open the doors of his country to foreign investments that have raised questions about environmental safety.
Among the measures taken by the new government were fast-track approval of the planting of transgenic cotton and authorisation of the construction of an aluminium plant.
Franco was named to replace Fernando Lugo after the centre-left former Catholic bishop was removed as president in a swift impeachment trial on Jun. 22. The government has failed to overcome its international isolation, having only been officially recognised by Taiwan and the Vatican.
“It is concerning that a government that was not elected by popular vote is giving the green light to these foreign investments, without any oversight or control,” Luis Rojas, an economist with BASE Investigaciones Sociales, a local non-governmental organisation, told IPS.
As an example, Rojas cited the government’s authorisation to plant Bollgard genetically modified cotton developed by U.S. biotech giant Monsanto, without waiting for the preliminary studies required by law. READ MORE
Looks like Paraguay had a visit from the Western Economic Hit Men. 

Communication Missing in the International Year of Cooperatives By Mario Lubetkin

ROME, Jul 24 2012 (IPS) - Six months have passed since the beginning of the United Nations International Year of the Cooperatives (IYC). There can be no doubt it has fallen far short of its goal of calling the world’s attention to this formidable instrument of social production.

While there has been a rise in the dissemination of information related to cooperatives, it is minuscule in comparison to the vast importance and potential of the cooperative movement worldwide.
Cooperativism emerged in the early 19th century in England where it was promoted by unions opposed to the capitalist expansion driven by the Industrial Revolution. It assumed the function of improving the buying power of salary workers through consumer cooperatives.
Since then the system of cooperative property has spread throughout the world, in industry, the primary sector, trade and other branches of the service sector.
Cooperatives also have a significant presence in the media, with hundreds of outlets dedicated to spreading information about the world of cooperatives. Moreover there are thousands of media cooperatives, including the Associated Press in the U.S., Le Monde, the French newspaper, and the IPS news agency, which, since 1964, has covered the subject of cooperatives as a part of its editorial focus on development and civil society, particularly in countries of the South.
The International Co-operative Alliance (ICA), founded in 1895, is comprised of 267 organisations from 96 countries representing approximately 1 billion individuals worldwide. Around 100 million people work for a co-op globally

Madeleine Albright: 'We Think the Price Is Worth It'

Media uncurious about Iraq policy's effects--there or here

By Rahul Mahajan
Lesley Stahl on U.S. sanctions against Iraq: We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that's more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright: I think this is a very hard choice, but the price--we think the price is worth it.

--60 Minutes (5/12/96)

Then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright's quote, calmly asserting that U.S. policy objectives were worth the sacrifice of half a million Arab children, has been much quoted in the Arabic press. It's also been cited in the United States in alternative commentary on the September 11 attacks (e.g., Alexander Cockburn, New York Press, 9/26/01).

But a Dow Jones search of mainstream news sources since September 11 turns up only one reference to the quote--in an op-ed in the Orange Country Register (9/16/01). This omission is striking, given the major role that Iraq sanctions play in the ideology of archenemy Osama bin Laden; his recruitment video features pictures of Iraqi babies wasting away from malnutrition and lack of medicine (New York Daily News, 9/28/01). The inference that Albright and the terrorists may have shared a common rationale--a belief that the deaths of thousands of innocents are a price worth paying to achieve one's political ends--does not seem to be one that can be made in U.S. mass media.

It's worth noting that on 60 Minutes, Albright made no attempt to deny the figure given by Stahl--a rough rendering of the preliminary estimate in a 1995 U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) report that 567,000 Iraqi children under the age of five had died as a result of the sanctions. In general, the response from government officials about the sanctions’ toll has been rather different: a barrage of equivocations, denigration of U.N. sources and implications that questioners have some ideological axe to grind (Extra!, 3-4/00). READ MORE

Romney pledges support for Israel

Another NeoZioCon taking us deeper into the Abyss.
He is parroting the Likudniks line to further Zionism. 

Minutes before Netanyahu meeting, Romney cancels on Yacimovich [Leader of the Labor Party]

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney shakes hands with Benjamin Netanyahu
Bibi tells the Mittster
"you will do as you are told, no matter how much money you may have"

U.S. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (L) shakes hands with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, July 29, 2012.Photo by Reuters 

Much has been written about the warm personal relationship between the two friends, ex-governor Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate for the presidency of the United States, and Benjamin Netanyahu, the prime minister of Israel. Today it has become clear that the two are more than just friends. Romney apparently accepts instructions from Netanyahu who succeeded in getting him to cancel a scheduled and meticulously planned meeting with MK Shelly Yacimovich, the leader of the Labor party.

Here is how things developed READ MORE

US Proxy Al Qaeda Death Squads in Syria By Stephen Lendman


By Stephen Lendman

July 28, 2012 "Information Clearing House" -- Washington's agenda involves death squad diplomacy. Evidence mounts proving it. It's standard practice in all US direct and proxy wars. It's how America treats its enemies.
Massacres and unspeakable atrocities are committed. Women are raped. Civilians are treated like combatants. They're indiscriminately killed.
Others are targeted for opposing US aggression. Children are harmed like adults. Prisoners are tortured. No crime's too gruesome to commit. 
Lies, duplicity, and coverup follow. Media scoundrels bear direct responsibility. Their hands are bloodstained like US officials, forces and proxy killers.
Vietnam's Operation Phoenix became a prototype for today's wars. It included intimidation, kidnappings torture, and mass murder. At issue was eliminating opposition elements. Terrorizing people into submission was policy. 
Southeast Asia tactics are replicated in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. Barbarism defines US policy.
On July 11, German writer Jurgen Todenhofer confirmed  the presence of Al Qaeda insurgents in Syria. He met with them, he said. He holds them and others like them responsible for mass terror attacks.
He described a "massacre marketing strategy." He called it "among the most disgusting things that I have ever experienced in an armed conflict."
He added that Western media distort what's happening on the ground. Viewers and readers know it's their stock and trade. They're paid to lie. Journalists dedicated to truth and full disclosure need not apply.
On July 24, Asia Times writer John Rosenthal headlined "German intelligence: al-Qaeda all over Syria," saying:
"German intelligence estimates that 'around 90' terror attacks that 'can be attributed to organizations that are close to al-Qaeda or jihadist groups' were carried out in Syria between the end of December and the beginning of July, as reported by the German daily Die Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ)."
Die Welt and Bild published similar reports. All three name Al Qaeda behind the May 25 Houla massacre. Russian journalist Marat Musin was there. He said hundreds of "bandits and mercenaries" were responsible.
Washington's imperial tactics involve cutthroat killer atrocities. Human lives have no value. Only wealth, privilege and dominance matter. US officials don't keep body counts. Objectives are pursued lawlessly.
Rosenthal cited Die Welt contributor Alfred Hackensberger. Taldo is part of Syria's Houla region. Insurgents controlled it for months, said Hackensberger. They bear responsibility for Houla killings.
He visited the area. He interviewed an eyewitness. He left him unidentified for his safety. He was at Qara's Saint James Monastery. Victims were pro-Assad Sunnis, he said. Many people know what happened but won't say "out of fear for their lives."
"Whoever says something can only repeat the rebels' version. Anything else is certain death."
Hackensberger related similar stories. A former Qusayr resident said Christians and others refusing to "enroll their children in the Free Syrian Army" were shot. He held "foreign Islamists" responsible.
"I have seen them with my own eyes," he said. Pakistanis, Libyans, Tunisians and also Lebanese. They call Osama bin Laden their sheikh."
A Homs Sunni resident told Hackensberger he witnessed armed insurgents stopping a bus. "The passengers were divided into two groups: on one side, Sunnis; on the other, Alawis."
Nine Alawis were decapitated.
Rosenthal said:

"That the German government would cite national interest in refusing to disclose its information (publicly) concerning the circumstances of the Houla massacre is particularly notable in light of Germany's support for the rebellion and its political arm, the Syrian National Council (SNC)."
It plays a quiet behind the scenes role, he added. Its foreign office is involved in developing "political transition" plans.
So is former US Saudi Arabia ambassador Prince Bandar, reports Haaretz. His close ties to the Bush family earned him the nickname "Bandar Bush."
For years he's been involved with Washington's Syria regime change plans. He now serves as Saudi intelligence chief. He's also National Security Council secretary-general.
His intelligence appointment involves "preparing for the next stage in Syria," said Haaretz. His wife has Al Qaeda "connections." He's considered "CIA's man in Riyadh." He's "known as a can-do" guy. 
He spares nothing to achieve objectives. He participated directly in America's Contra wars. He helped fund Central American death squads and Afghan mujahideen fighters against Soviet forces. READ MORE

We're All In the Crosshairs By Randall Amster

The connections are obvious, so much so that we oftentimes cannot see them. This is an anti-life society at nearly every turn, and any rhetorical claims to being politically "pro-life" are utterly nonsensical. What is worse is that the U.S. is rapidly exporting this macabre model (by finance, fiat, or force), creating a globalized monoculture where commodities supplant communities and people are relegated behind profits. Meanwhile, a relatively small cadre of global elites greedily sucks out the life of this world, co-opting its powers for themselves while giving the rest of us either abject poverty or an illusion of prosperity that masks the reality of its inherent cruelty.
Still, despite the proliferation of corporate fortresses and military bases, the edifice of skewed power and privilege is as fragile as we all are, perhaps even more so in some ways. To wit, if it was not fragile it wouldn't require so much brute force to sustain it; indeed, the weaker something is, the more force it necessitates. Counter to the dominant security narrative, a more apt solution would be to embrace our innate fragility, to recognize and validate our vulnerability, and to stop collaborating with the pretense that we modern humans are some immutable force of nature whose cleverness will ultimately ensure our survival and sustainability.
Nothing is guaranteed — not military might, not reified power, not homeland security. Not even a midnight movie in the suburbs. And perhaps in this realization we can begin a new era of authentic engagement that takes nothing and no one for granted, one that prioritizes systemic health and individual potential equally, and that moves us from the lethal rigidity of a society built for the powerful toward one designed for the abundant fragility of actual human beings. READ MORE

Anchoring Wealth to Sustain Cities and Population Growth By Gar Alperovitz, Steve Dubb and Thad Williamson

Housing and related infrastructure follow jobs that drift unmoored through cities, resulting in construction of duplicate facilities at great financial, energy, and carbon costs. Here, a subdivision undergoes construction outside Markham, Ontario, in May, 2012.Housing and related infrastructure follow jobs that drift unmoored through cities, resulting in construction of duplicate facilities at great financial, energy, and carbon costs. Here, a subdivision undergoes construction outside Markham, Ontario, in May, 2012. (Photo: Loozrboy)Americans face a unique challenge in solving the climate crisis. Unlike other Western countries and Japan, where population is projected to be relatively constant, the U.S. population is set to grow by at least 100 million—and likely 150 million—people by 2050. Where and under what conditions these people live present serious challenges to sustainability planning. American cities today are so spatially and economically unstable that anything beyond superficial sustainability planning is impossible.
Alternatively, we can radically change existing community and regional planning strategies to more sustainably house and serve the growing population. Fortunately, emerging approaches are capable of helping with this shift. One involves building local economies that anchor capital in place through community, worker, or public forms of ownership—so-called green community wealth strategies. By linking such stabilizing forms of economic organization to democratic forms of local, regional, and national planning, cities can regain the capacity to target jobs and investment to specific locations.

Key Concepts

  • There will be at least 100 million more Americans by 2050. Where and under what conditions these new Americans live present significant challenges not faced by Japan or western Europe, where population is projected to be relatively stable.
  • New and emergent approaches to community economic development are capable of altering current unsustainable and unstable patterns.
  • Two primary strategies for stabilizing jobs and capital in existing urban areas are: (1) developing place-based forms of “green community wealth building”—forms of business ownership that rely on worker, community, nonprofit, or public ownership and that are inherently anchored in the community; and (2) tapping into resource flows generated by public spending as well as quasi-public institutions (“meds” and “eds”) to nurture and support place-based ownership.
  • The United States must embrace regional planning strategies. Population growth will otherwise reinforce the unstable and unsustainable cities we now have, which serve as major drivers of global warming.
  • Regional planning can result in positive outcomes—for example, retooling the automobile industry to manufacture domestic mass-transit vehicles.
Beyond Throwaway Cities READ MORE

Swallowing the big lie on Syria Commentary: Reporting massacres that didn’t happen, and other media sins.

Antibes, France — The Western media should have learned a lesson from the Iraq fiasco.
Most of the mainstream media gave a free pass to a Republican White House that promoted the Big Lie that Saddam Hussein's regime was somehow linked to terrorism and armed with weapons of mass destruction. The Bush administration found it was child's play to manipulate even the New York Times.
A lot has happened on the road from Baghdad to Damascus, but it seems that both Washington policymakers and the media still have much to learn.
This time a Democrat administration is using the Arab Spring to get rid of an inconvenient leader. No need to invade Syria or risk American lives. Just use discrete American guidance and arms supplied by American allies in the region to make sure that a home-grown insurgency has enough of the right stuff to win an insurrection. “You'll notice in the last couple of months, the opposition has been strengthened,” a “senior U.S. Official” told the New York Times on July 20. “Now we're ready to accelerate that.” U.S. Officials have been selectively leaking information on the supposedly clandestine American involvement in the Syrian conflict, an apparent effort to shape public opinion by suggesting that the United States is helping elements of the opposition, without explaining how they can tell the good guys from the bad guys.
Propaganda, or the mobilization of public opinion, is a vital part of the operation. And once again, the American and Western media seem to be asking too few questions.
Western journalists are of course having a hard time reporting the war. Some have lost their lives. Barred from legally entering Syria, most are covering it from Turkey, Lebanon or more distant listening posts. But as pointed out by Russ Baker, whose web site is sharply critical of American media coverage, reporters should be telling us more about their usually anonymous sources inside Syria.
Who is the “Mohammed” who was telephoned by the New York Times and reported the “massacre” by government forces of 200 persons in the village of Tremseh). Was he an eye witness? Did the reporter try to find other sources?
Two days later, the Times acknowledged that the “massacre of civilians” was more likely a clash between heavily armed Syrian military and lightly armed local fighters, and the death toll was closer to 100, most of them young men.
In most such cases, Western officials use the unverified reports to make instant headlines denouncing Syrian “human rights violations,” with Secretary of State Hilary Clinton and UN Ambassador Susan Rice often leading the pack.
Western reporters clearly tend to assess opposition sources less critically than Syrian government sources. That bias may be justified, but civil wars are rarely fought by angels. Horrible things are done on all sides.
The Western media also seem to overlook the fact that the Syrian government is doing what most governments do when faced with an insurrection. They use whatever force they have to stamp it out, whether it's Sherman marching through Georgia, or Israel pounding Gaza.
You may not like the Assad family, but Western governments did business with it (and still do with a number of other Middle East dictatorships) for decades despite its behavior. READ MORE

Robert Fisk: Syrian war of lies and hypocrisy The West's real target here is not Assad's brutal regime but his ally, Iran, and its nuclear weapons

Has there ever been a Middle Eastern war of such hypocrisy? A war of such cowardice and such mean morality, of such false rhetoric and such public humiliation? I'm not talking about the physical victims of the Syrian tragedy. I'm referring to the utter lies and mendacity of our masters and our own public opinion – eastern as well as western – in response to the slaughter, a vicious pantomime more worthy of Swiftian satire than Tolstoy or Shakespeare.
While Qatar and Saudi Arabia arm and fund the rebels of Syria to overthrow Bashar al-Assad's Alawite/Shia-Baathist dictatorship, Washington mutters not a word of criticism against them. President Barack Obama and his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, say they want a democracy in Syria. But Qatar is an autocracy and Saudi Arabia is among the most pernicious of caliphate-kingly-dictatorships in the Arab world. Rulers of both states inherit power from their families – just as Bashar has done – and Saudi Arabia is an ally of the Salafist-Wahabi rebels in Syria, just as it was the most fervent supporter of the medieval Taliban during Afghanistan's dark ages.
Indeed, 15 of the 19 hijacker-mass murderers of 11 September, 2001, came from Saudi Arabia – after which, of course, we bombed Afghanistan. The Saudis are repressing their own Shia minority just as they now wish to destroy the Alawite-Shia minority of Syria. And we believe Saudi Arabia wants to set up a democracy in Syria?
Then we have the Shia Hezbollah party/militia in Lebanon, right hand of Shia Iran and supporter of Bashar al-Assad's regime. For 30 years, Hezbollah has defended the oppressed Shias of southern Lebanon against Israeli aggression. They have presented themselves as the defenders of Palestinian rights in the West Bank and Gaza. But faced with the slow collapse of their ruthless ally in Syria, they have lost their tongue. Not a word have they uttered – nor their princely Sayed Hassan Nasrallah – about the rape and mass murder of Syrian civilians by Bashar's soldiers and "Shabiha" militia.
Then we have the heroes of America – La Clinton, the Defence Secretary Leon Panetta, and Obama himself. Clinton issues a "stern warning" to Assad. Panetta – the same man who repeated to the last US forces in Iraq that old lie about Saddam's connection to 9/11 – announces that things are "spiralling out of control" in Syria. They have been doing that for at least six months. Has he just realised? And then Obama told us last week that "given the regime's stockpile of nuclear weapons, we will continue to make it clear to Assad … that the world is watching". Now, was it not a County Cork newspaper called the Skibbereen Eagle, fearful of Russia's designs on China, which declared that it was "keeping an eye … on the Tsar of Russia"? Now it is Obama's turn to emphasise how little clout he has in the mighty conflicts of the world. How Bashar must be shaking in his boots.
But what US administration would really want to see Bashar's atrocious archives of torture opened to our gaze? Why, only a few years ago, the Bush administration was sending Muslims to Damascus for Bashar's torturers to tear their fingernails out for information, imprisoned at the US government's request in the very hell-hole which Syrian rebels blew to bits last week. Western embassies dutifully supplied the prisoners' tormentors with questions for the victims. Bashar, you see, was our baby.
Then there's that neighbouring country which owes us so much gratitude: Iraq. Last week, it suffered in one day 29 bombing attacks in 19 cities, killing 111 civilian and wounding another 235. The same day, Syria's bloodbath consumed about the same number of innocents. But Iraq was "down the page" from Syria, buried "below the fold", as we journalists say; because, of course, we gave freedom to Iraq, Jeffersonian democracy, etc, etc, didn't we? So this slaughter to the east of Syria didn't have quite the same impact, did it? Nothing we did in 2003 led to Iraq's suffering today. Right?
And talking of journalism, who in BBC World News decided that even the preparations for the Olympics should take precedence all last week over Syrian outrages? British newspapers and the BBC in Britain will naturally lead with the Olympics as a local story. But in a lamentable decision, the BBC – broadcasting "world" news to the world – also decided that the passage of the Olympic flame was more important than dying Syrian children, even when it has its own courageous reporter sending his despatches directly from Aleppo.
Then, of course, there's us, our dear liberal selves who are so quick to fill the streets of London in protest at the Israeli slaughter of Palestinians. Rightly so, of course. When our political leaders are happy to condemn Arabs for their savagery but too timid to utter a word of the mildest criticism when the Israeli army commits crimes against humanity – or watches its allies do it in Lebanon – ordinary people have to remind the world that they are not as timid as the politicians. But when the scorecard of death in Syria reaches 15,000 or 19,000 – perhaps 14 times as many fatalities as in Israel's savage 2008-2009 onslaught on Gaza – scarcely a single protester, save for Syrian expatriates abroad, walks the streets to condemn these crimes against humanity. Israel's crimes have not been on this scale since 1948. Rightly or wrongly, the message that goes out is simple: we demand justice and the right to life for Arabs if they are butchered by the West and its Israeli allies; but not when they are being butchered by their fellow Arabs.
And all the while, we forget the "big" truth. That this is an attempt to crush the Syrian dictatorship not because of our love for Syrians or our hatred of our former friend Bashar al-Assad, or because of our outrage at Russia, whose place in the pantheon of hypocrites is clear when we watch its reaction to all the little Stalingrads across Syria. No, this is all about Iran and our desire to crush the Islamic Republic and its infernal nuclear plans – if they exist – and has nothing to do with human rights or the right to life or the death of Syrian babies. Quelle horreur!

Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To Know | Alternet

Five Scientific Conclusions About Cannabis That The Mainstream Media Doesn’t Want You To Know | Alternet:

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LIBOR - Insider Trading on a Massive Scale

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Germany’s militarised foreign policy

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2ndR) hosts German Chancellor Angela Merkel (2ndL) at the King David Hotel in Jerusalem 31 January 2011. Merkel echoed Israeli fears over the stability of the Middle East on 31 January as unrest swept Egypt. But she also urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to halt construction of Jewish housing in Palestinian areas. The German chancellor is in Israel for two days of meetings, along with much of her cabinet. EPA/MOSHE MILNER / HANDOUT

Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah (R) welcomes German Chancellor Angela Merkel on her arrival at the Royal Palace in Jeddah, May 25, 2010. REUTERS/Saudi Press Agency/Handout.

Imagine Iran would be the target of an Israeli nuclear attack launched from submarines designed, built and delivered by Germany. This dystopia may seem unlikely, but it is now entirely possible. The German magazine Der Spiegel, not known for its critical stance towards Israeli policies, recentlyrevealed how German officials facilitated the delivery of the so called dolphin submarines which were built in a shipyard in the northern German town of Kiel and which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Ever since the end of the Second World War, Der Spiegel, reports in an exclusive, German leaders have acted as a conduit for military deals with Israel circumventing German law and parliamentary approval. The late, former Defence Minister Franz-Josef Strauss, a member of the right-leaning Christian Social Union (CSU), did even go as far as to drop off explosive equipment personally when he ‘drove up to the Israeli mission in Cologne in a sedan car and handed an object wrapped in a coat to a Mossad liaison officer, saying it was “for the boys in Tel Aviv.” It was a new model of an armor-piercing grenade.’
The sixth submarine has just been delivered, ironically amidst the controversy about Iran’s nuclear energy programme and Germany’s involvement in the punitive sanctions regime against the country. The government of Germany seems comfortable to deliver nuclear capable submarines, but when it comes to Iran the Merkel administration is quick to join the chorus denouncing Iran’s ‘nuclear threat’ to the region.

Hypocrisy and Intransigence: Mainstays of the Agent Orange Controversy

From 1961 to 1971 over 77 million litres of herbicide were dispensed over southern Viet Nam by the US military through the code-named ‘Operation Ranch Hand’.  The Vietnamese reported early on during the operation that human health was being adversely affected by widespread dispersal of defoliants. Agent Orange, a 1:1 mixture of 2,4,-D and 2,4,5-T, was the most prevalent herbicide used
The US government maintains their decades-old mantra that there is no unequivocal scientific evidence that use of Agent Orange has caused an increase in either birth defects in Viet Nam, or is related to other human health issues in Viet Nam. US government officials remain reluctant to accept Vietnamese studies/observations as sufficiently rigorous to definitively link US deployed herbicides to human health impacts, primarily in view of liability/compensation concerns.
The US Department of Veterans Affairs (US DVA) presently compensates US Viet Nam Veterans for health conditions that may have resulted from Agent Orange exposure while serving in Viet Nam.
At least one of the health conditions for which compensation is paid has a possible genetic component, that is, spina bifida. It appears contradictory that the US ignores the health issues of Vietnamese citizens exposed to Agent Orange, but pays compensation to its Viet Nam Veterans for a number of illnesses related to their exposure to the herbicide … illnesses that the US Institute of Medicine (IOM) has categorized as being ‘presumed’ to be related to Agent Orange exposure, and subsequently adopted by the US DVA for veteran compensation purposes. As I understand it, compensation is awarded to a veteran if: 1) the person can prove that he or she was in the US armed forces during the time of the Viet Nam War; 2) the person can prove being in Viet Nam at the time of the Viet Nam War; 3) the person can prove the onset of the compensable disease after service in Viet Nam; and 4) the person possesses an honorable discharge from the military. READ MORE

Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism

Lenin: Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism

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The Plan to Gut Social Security: Behind Obama’s Fake Recovery by MIKE WHITNEY

Last week’s dismal “data dump” has ended all talk of a strong recovery in the US. Retail sales, factory output, jobless claims, consumer confidence, business investment and existing home sales are all down sharply indicating that the US economy is decelerating and may be headed for recession.
The Obama administration was warned repeatedly that activity would slow when the $800 billion fiscal stimulus (ARRA) ran out and net government spending became a drag on growth. But Obama’s chief economics advisor, Lawrence Summers, shrugged off these warnings in order to keep the economy sputtering along at half-speed. Summers figured that bigger deficits and slower growth would create the rationale for slashing entitlement spending and crushing organised labor (particularly, public unions) In other words, the economy is weak, because the policy was designed to make it weak. Mission accomplished.
Not everyone in the Obama administration played along with this scam. Economist Christina Romer, for example, wanted the stimulus to be $1 trillion more than was eventually approved by Summers. That’s what she figured it would take to kick-start the growth engine and put millions of unemployed Americans back to work. Here’s the story from Huffington Post’s Sam Stein:
“…members of the president’s economic team felt that if they were to properly fill the hole caused by the recession, they would need a bill that priced at $1.8 trillion — $600 billion more than was previously believed to be the high-water mark for the White House.
The $1.8 trillion figure was included in a December 2008 memo authored by Christina Romer (the incoming head of the Council of Economic Advisers) and obtained by Scheiber in the course of researching his book.
“When Romer showed [Larry] Summers her $1.8 trillion figure late in the week before the memo was due, he dismissed it as impractical. So Romer spent the next few days coming up with a reasonable compromise: roughly $1.2 trillion,” Scheiber writes.”
The idea that Summers rejected Romer’s plan as “impractical” is pure public relations. Summers had a different agenda altogether. What he wanted was exactly what he got, a slow, underperforming economy with high unemployment and huge deficits. Does anyone really think that an economist with Summers’ impressive education and experience could be $1 trillion off in his calculations? (The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was eventually whittled down to $787 billion) It’s ridiculous. Summers wanted a flagging economy so he could torpedo Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. These were the targets from the very beginning.
As for Obama, well, he probably figured that the $800 billion fiscal package would be enough to carry him over the finish-line in the 2012 elections, but not so big that it would subvert the goals of his chief economics advisor who was beholden to Wall Street and big business. In truth, Obama wanted the same thing as Summers, a justification for attacking the meager programs that keep the elderly and vulnerable from destitution.
Neither Summers nor Obama anticipated the downturn in China or the severity of the crisis in Europe both of which have weighed heavily on growth in the US and around the world. Here’s how Nouriel Roubini summed it up in a recent article on Project Syndicate:
“…the first-half growth rate looks set to come in closer to 1.5% at best, even below 2011’s dismal 1.7%. And now, after getting the first half of 2012 wrong, many are repeating the fairy tale that a combination of lower oil prices, rising auto sales, recovering house prices, and a resurgence of US manufacturing will boost growth in the second half of the year and fuel above-potential growth by 2013.
The reality is the opposite: for several reasons, growth will slow further in the second half of 2012 and be even lower in 2013 – close to stall speed.”
Global growth is pretty much deteriorating everywhere; China, India, Japan, Brazil, emerging markets. The eurozone is particularly concerning as ongoing bank runs in the south accelerate increasing the likelihood of a full-blown banking system collapse. The uncertainty is reflected in 10-year US Treasuries which have seen yields drop to record-lows in the last week. The flight to safety has intensified as frightened investors try to get their money out of Europe to avoid the deepening crisis and possible breakup of the 17-member monetary union.
On Tuesday, the Wall Street Journal announced that the “Fed Moves Closer to Action”. The news ignited a short rally, but soon faded. Confidence in the Fed is at its nadir. Another round of bond buying (QE3) might give equities a temporary jolt, but no one believes it will change the overall direction of the market or lead to an economic rebound. Interest rates are already at historic lows, so stuffing the banks with more reserves will neither increase lending or reduce unemployment. It is an exercise in futility. The Fed is at the limits of its effectiveness.
The current slowdown could have been avoided or at least mitigated had the Obama team followed Romer’s recommendation and provided the fiscal stimulus that was needed. Now–due to political gridlock in congress–a second round of stimulus is out of the question which means the economy will continue its downward trend.
So, what should Obama do?
For starters, he should take a page out of FDR’s Depression handbook and hire more public workers. Here’s a clip from an article by economist Marshall Auerback who details some of the programs that Roosevelt implemented:
“[Roosevelt’s] government hired about 60 per cent of the unemployed in public works and conservation projects that planted a billion trees, saved the whooping crane, modernized rural America, and built such diverse projects as the Cathedral of Learning in Pittsburgh, the Montana state capitol, much of the Chicago lakefront, New York’s Lincoln Tunnel and Triborough Bridge complex, the Tennessee Valley Authority and the aircraft carriers Enterprise and Yorktown. It also built or renovated 2,500 hospitals, 45,000 schools, 13,000 parks and playgrounds, 7,800 bridges, 700,000 miles of roads, and a thousand airfields. And it employed 50,000 teachers, rebuilt the country’s entire rural school system, and hired 3,000 writers, musicians, sculptors and painters, including Willem de Kooning and Jackson Pollock.”
Or Obama could allocate $300 billion per year to rehire the 650,000 teachers and other state and local workers who’ve been laid off since the crash. That would be the easiest thing to do. Skip all the red-tape connected to infrastructure and gov job’s programs and just rehire the people who got their pink slip after the crash. The money spent on jobs would more than pay for itself by raising state revenues and boosting economic activity by many orders of magnitude.
Have you seen a graph of how many (state and local) jobs have been lost under Obama? It’s shocking! Take a look:
We need to get these people back to work so they can feed their families and pay the bills. If we can afford $11 trillion to bail out crooked bankers, we can certainly afford a measly $300 mil for hard-working middle class families. It’s just a matter of priorities.
Economist Dean Baker has posted an article on his blog that supports my general thesis that Obama is planning to cut Social Security etc following the election. Here’s an excerpt from the post:
“The plan is that we will get the rich folks’ deal regardless of who wins the election….The deal that this gang … is hatching will inevitably include some amount of tax increases and also large budget cuts. At the top of the list… are cuts to Social Security and Medicare. ….
Social Security amounts to 90 percent or more of the income for one-third of seniors. For this group, the proposed cut in benefits would be a considerably larger share of their income that the higher taxes faced by someone earning $300,000 a year as a result of the repeal of the Bush tax cuts on high income earners…
(“The One Percent Want Your Social Security and Medicare and Steven Pearlstein Is Trying to Help”, Dean Baker, CEPR)
There it is in black and white. Obama is just as committed to gutting Social Security as Romney. The only difference is that he’s a better pitchman. Much better.