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 Politics: The Anti-Empire Report #144 - March 2016

OpinionBy William Blum

American exceptionalism presents an election made in hell

If the American presidential election winds up with Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump, and my passport is confiscated, and I’m somehow FORCED to choose one or the other, or I’m PAID to do so, paid well … I would vote for Trump.

My main concern is foreign policy. American foreign policy is the greatest threat to world peace, prosperity, and the environment. And when it comes to foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is an unholy disaster. From Iraq and Syria to Libya and Honduras the world is a much worse place because of her; so much so that I’d call her a war criminal who should be prosecuted. And not much better can be expected on domestic issues from this woman who was paid $675,000 by Goldman Sachs – one of the most reactionary, anti-social corporations in this sad world – for four speeches and even more than that in political donations in recent years. Add to that Hillary’s willingness to serve for six years on the board of Walmart while her husband was governor of Arkansas. Can we expect to change corporate behavior by taking their money?

The Los Angeles Times ran an editorial the day after the multiple primary elections of March 1 which began: “Donald Trump is not fit to be president of the United States,” and then declared: “The reality is that Trump has no experience whatsoever in government.” ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Wednesday, March 16 @ 20:54:41 EDT (2450 reads)
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 Politics: The Anti-Empire Report #143 - February 2016

OpinionBy William Blum

Is Bernie Sanders a socialist?

“Self-described socialist” … How many times have we all read that term in regard to Vermont senator Bernie Sanders? But is he really a socialist? Or is he a “social democrat”, which is what he’d be called in Europe? Or is he a “democratic socialist”, which is the American party he has been a member of (DSA – Democratic Socialists of America)? And does it really matter which one he is? They’re all socialists, are they not?

Why does a person raised in a capitalist society become a socialist? It could be because of a parent or parents who are committed socialists and raise their children that way. But it’s usually because the person has seen capitalism up close for many years, is turned off by it, and is thus receptive to an alternative. All of us know what the ugly side of capitalism looks like. Here are but a few of the countless examples taken from real life:

-Following an earthquake or other natural disaster, businesses raise their prices for basic necessities such as batteries, generators, water pumps, tree-removal services, etc.

-In the face of widespread medical needs, drug and health-care prices soar, while new surgical and medical procedures are patented.

-The cost of rent increases inexorably regardless of tenants’ income.

-Ten thousand types of deception to part the citizens from their hard-earned ages.

What do these examples have in common? It’s their driving force – the profit motive; the desire to maximize profit. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, February 05 @ 16:03:40 EST (1193 reads)
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 Politics: Why Isn’t the Media Feeling the Bern?

The News


Polls show that Bernie Sanders would trounce Donald Trump, but you’d never know that from watching TV news.

By Jim Hightower

Let’s go to the scoreboard to see who’s winning the exciting presidential election media coverage game.

The Tyndall Report, a non-partisan media monitoring firm that has been tracking the nightly news broadcasts of ABC, CBS, and NBC, found that Trump is tromp, tromp, tromping over the airtime of everyone else.

From last January through November, these dominant flagship news shows devoted 234 minutes of prime-time coverage to the incessant chirping of the yellow-crested birdbrain, with no other contender getting even a fourth of that. ....

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, January 12 @ 18:23:05 EST (845 reads)
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 Politics: The Anti-Empire Report #141

InternationalBy William Blum

Questions to ask President Obama the next time (also the last time) you’re invited to one of his press conferences:

Which is most important to you – destroying ISIS, overthrowing Syrian president Assad, or scoring points against Russia?

Do you think that if you pointed out to the American people that Assad has done much more to aid and rescue Christians in the Middle East conflicts than any other area leader that this would lessen the hostility the United States public and media feel toward him? Or do you share the view of the State Department spokesperson who declared in September that “The Assad regime frankly is the root of all evil”?

Why does the United States maintain crippling financial sanctions and a ban on military aid to Syria, Cuba, Iran and other countries but not to Saudi Arabia?

What does Saudi Arabia have to do to lose its strong American support? Increase its torture, beheadings, amputations, whippings, stonings, punishment for blasphemy and apostasy, or forced marriages and other oppression of women and girls? Increase its financial support for ISIS and other jihadist groups? Confess to its role in 9-11? Attack Israel?

What bothers you more: The Saudi bombing of the people of Yemen or the Syrian bombing of the people of Syria?

Does the fact that ISIS never attacks Israel raise any question in your mind? ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, December 07 @ 19:30:47 EST (1099 reads)
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 Politics: Sometimes a Clock is Just a Clock

HealthBy Rosemarie Jackowski

"They arrested me and accused me of making a hoax bomb." That is what 14 year old Ahmed Mohamed said. He was handcuffed and arrested because of an innocent high school project. Irving, Texas Police Chief Larry Boyd commented: "We live in an age where you can't take things like that to school." This is Islamophobia gone wild. In case you missed it - Ahmed made a clock. He took the clock to school to show his teachers. Then someone mistook the clock for a bomb. "Paranoia runs deep..."

The War on Terrorism is not the only war we have on our shores today. We also have a War on Drugs. It is a myth to believe that every patient whoever takes opiates for pain will become an addict. That is like believing that everyone who ever has a glass of wine with dinner will become an alcoholic. Addiction phobia has created some unintended consequences.

These two wars are running parallel and creating serious collateral damage. Prejudice against anyone who might be a Muslim is out in the open. All religions and all non-religious beliefs must be respected. No exceptions.

To law enforcement and Homeland Security, everyone looks like a terrorist. Everything looks like a bomb. To the DEA, everyone looks like a drug addict. Every pain med looks like an illegal drug.

It gets worse. Now respected doctors are being 'watched' - in overt ways and also some subtle ways. The Prescription Drug Monitoring Program keeps lists doctors who prescribe opiate pain meds. Many doctors have been prescribing pain meds for decades with no problem, but now the government is 'watching'. Imagine being a doctor and receiving an official letter from the government. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, September 29 @ 22:27:51 EDT (1457 reads)
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 Politics: Worst president ever?

Opinion
History Should and Probably Will Judge President Obama Harshly

by: Dave Lindorff

President Barack Obama is on track to go down in history as one of the, or perhaps as the worst and most criminal presidents in US history.

He started out, campaigning in 2008, as someone would would restore the rule of law in US international affairs and here at home after eight years of criminality during the Bush and Cheney administration, as saying he would end America’s wars and bring back an era of international cooperation and negotiation, and as saying that he would confront the dire threat of global climate change.

On the basis of that promise, he won a dramatic election victory, raising hopes across the country and across many voting blocks. On that basis, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize -- the first time the award was given before anything had been done by the laureate being honored. And on the basis of that promise, people expected action on climate change and on ending America's wars.

But the president began backpedaling almost instantly. Instead of restoring the rule of law, he almost immediately announced that he would not permit his Justice Department to engage in any prosecutions of CIA, FBI, military of Bush/Cheney administration personnel for violations of international law or of US law (that, for the record, is one of the supreme crimes under the Nuremberg Principles later codified into the UN Charter, to which the US is a signatory). ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, September 05 @ 16:51:46 EDT (1779 reads)
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 Politics: If We’re Going to Defend Social Security We Need to Understand It

The News
Republicans and Many Democrats are on the attack

by: Dave Lindorff

The Republican-dominated Congress, with the help of a cadre of sell-out conservative Democrats in both chambers, are gearing up to attack Social Security again, under the guise of “saving” the program.

The attack will be brutal, because the program’s assassins understand that this is probably their last chance to undermine Social Security. With the Baby Boom generation born after 1946 now seriously starting to file for retirement benefits, it will soon become such a mainstay for so many people that it will be impregnable, unless already undermined.

A person born in 1946 could have retired at age 62 as early as 2008, and next year could retire at 70 and receive maximum benefits. There are already seven years’ worth of Baby Boomers who are at least eligible to start collecting benefits. By the time the last Baby Boomer born in 1964 is eligible to retire in 2026, the “senior lobby” of Social Security-eligible voters will be more double what it is today, and more importantly, will represent a bloc 50% larger as a proportion of the voting population than it is in today’s elderly population. Social Security’s enemies in Congress and in the business world know that as powerful as the elderly vote is today it will be 50% more powerful in years to come. And don’t forget, it’s not just retirees who ardently support Social Security. It’s people in their 50s and early 60s, who are looking ahead at the program as their salvation in retirement.

Polls show that even among the young, there is strong and abiding support for this flawed but critical program founded in 1936, which today provides 100% of income for one-seventh of all America’s elderly, and 90% or more of income for one-third of the elderly. Another one-third depend upon those benefits for more than half their income. Most of the rest too depend on their Social Security benefits for basic expenses like food and rent. It’s the rare American who just uses their benefit checks for vacations, luxury purchases or investment purposes.

But for all that Americans remain incredibly ignorant about the program, and are losing out on many of its benefits because of that ignorance. If this information were more readily available and understandable, it would be far harder for the program’s enemies to successfully attack it. I will attempt to do that here. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, March 09 @ 21:43:42 EDT (2412 reads)
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 Politics: President Gollum’s ‘Precious’ Secrets

The NewsBy Robert Parry

President Barack Obama promised a “transparent” administration, reviving democracy by letting Americans see into the inner workings of their government as much as possible, an implicit criticism of the excessive secrecy of his predecessor, George W. Bush. But instead Obama’s presidency has been one of the most opaque and deceptive in modern history.

Not only has Obama continued to wrap the carry-over anti-terrorism wars in maximum secrecy but he has taken unprecedented steps to shut down leaks by prosecuting whistleblowers who talk to the press. And, he has left standing his administration’s misleading rushes to judgment on key issues after U.S. intelligence analysts have refined or reversed the first impressions.

Whether on the Syrian sarin attack in 2013 or pivotal incidents in the Ukraine crisis – who was behind the sniper attacks in Kiev last Feb. 20 and who shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 last July 17 – Obama has withheld evidence developed by U.S. government analysts rather than undercut the propaganda value of the initial accusations. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, February 17 @ 23:39:53 EST (2707 reads)
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 Politics: Leave No Generation Behind

Opinion
A tax on inherited wealth could eliminate student debt while reducing growing inequality.

By Chuck Collins

Over a decade ago, I got a call from Bill Gates.

Not the Bill Gates you’re probably thinking of. It was Bill Gates Sr., the Microsoft founder’s dad. He was eager to speak out in support of the federal estate tax, our nation’s only levy on inherited wealth.

He called it the “gratitude tax.” If you were fortunate enough to make millions, he believed, then you should “recycle your opportunity” for the next generation.

How might that work?

Bill Gates Sr. served in the Army in World War II. When he returned, the GI Bill enabled him to attend college and law school for free. His debt-free education propelled him to a career as an attorney and allowed him to provide excellent educational opportunities to his three children — one of whom is one of the two richest people on the planet.

For today’s college-age youth, talk of a debt-free education sounds like science fiction. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, November 20 @ 22:48:28 EST (1086 reads)
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 Politics: The Anti-Empire Report #131 - August 2014

OpinionBy William Blum

Cold War Two

During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the SovietUnion because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.

E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:

Dear Editor,

Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”

Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:


Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.

– William Blum


I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Friday, August 15 @ 23:27:52 EDT (1809 reads)
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 Politics: Lawsuit Challenges Government’s ‘Suspicious Activity Report’ Program

Press ReleaseFBI Created Counterterrorism Files for Plaintiffs’ Innocuous Activities

From: aclu.org

SAN FRANCISCO – Civil rights groups filed a lawsuit today challenging the legality of the federal government’s controversial Suspicious Activity Reporting (SAR) program. The lawsuit, filed by the American Civil LibertiesUnion of California, the national ACLU, and Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus, was brought on behalf of five Americans who had their information entered into law enforcement databases for innocent things like taking pictures, buying computers, or standing in a train station, and were then subjected to investigation.

“This domestic surveillance program wrongly targets First Amendment-protected activities, encourages racial and religious profiling, and violates federal law,” said Linda Lye, staff attorney with the ACLU of Northern California. “The Justice Department’s own rules say that there should be reasonable suspicion before creating a record on someone, but the government’s instructions to local police are that they should write up SARs even if there’s no valid reason to suspect a person of doing anything wrong.”

A Justice Department regulation dating to 1978 prohibits the collection and dissemination of “criminal intelligence information” unless there is “reasonable suspicion” of criminal activity. However, the Justice Department’s standard for SARs doesn’t require reasonable suspicion of wrongdoing, only behavior that “may be indicative” of terrorism planning “or other illicit intention.”

The plaintiffs in the lawsuit have learned that such a low bar can cover virtually anything. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, July 10 @ 22:42:43 EDT (1732 reads)
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 Politics: Bracing for an Attack by Veterans

War News
The Pentagon's transfer of war equipment to local police forces lacks a rational explanation.

By Jim Hightower

From 1776 forward, Americans have opposed having soldiers do police work on our soil. But in recent years, Pentagon chiefs have teamed up with police chiefs to circumvent that prohibition.

How? By militarizing police departments.

Through the little-known “military transfer program,” the Pentagon now ships massive amounts of surplus war equipment to local cops. This reflects a fundamental rewiring of the mindset now guiding neighborhood policing.

Police chiefs today commonly send out squads brandishing heavy arms and garbed in riot gear for peaceful situations. Recruiting videos now feature clips of SWAT-team officers dressed in black, hurling flash grenades into a home, then storming the house, firing automatic weapons. Who wants anyone enticed by that video working their neighborhood? ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Thursday, June 26 @ 09:26:34 EDT (1513 reads)
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 Politics: Obama: “Remaking the Middle East”: The American Gulag

InternationalBy Prof. James Petras

During the beginning of his first term in office President Obama promised “to remake the Middle East into a region of prosperity and freedom”. Six years later the reality is totally the contrary: the Middle East is ruled by despotic regimes whose jails are overflowing with political prisoners. The vast majority of pro-democracy activists who have been incarcerated, have been subject to harsh torture and are serving long prison sentences. The rulers lack legitimacy, having seized power and maintained their rule through a centralized police state and military repression.Direct US military and CIA intervention, massive shipments of arms,military bases, training missions and Special Forces are decisive in the construction of the Gulag chain from North Africa to the Gulf States.

We will proceed by documenting the scale and scope of political repression in each US backed police state. We will then describe the scale and scope of US military aid buttressing the “remaking of the Middle East” into a chain of political prisons run by and for the US Empire.

The countries and regimes include Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan and Turkey . . . all of which promote and defend US imperial interests against the pro-democracy majority, represented by their independent social-political movements.


Egypt: Strategic Vassal State

A longtime vassal state and the largest Arab country in the Middle East, Egypt’s current military dictatorship, product of a coup in July 2013, launched a savage wave of repression subsequent to seizing power. According to the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, between July and December 2013, 21,317 pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Monday, April 28 @ 22:13:58 EDT (1984 reads)
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 Politics: Replacing Russian Gas Deliveries with US Shale Gas?

International Washington Lies to the EU

By F. William Engdahl

The White House and State Department have engaged in brazen lying to EU governments regarding the ability of the US to supply more than enough natural gas to replace Russian gas deliveries. Recent statements by US President Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are so patently false that it betrays an incredible desperation in Washington over the situation in Ukraine versus Moscow. Or it suggests that Washington is so out of touch with any factual reality she simply doesn’t care what she says. Either way, it suggests an unreliable diplomatic partner for the EU.

After his recent meeting with EU leaders Obama issued the incredible statement that the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) that is being secretly negotiated behind closed doors by the major private multinational companies would make it easier for the United States to export gas to Europe and help it reduce its dependency on Russian energy: “Once we have a trade agreement in place, export licenses for projects for liquefied natural gas destined to Europe would be much easier, something that is obviously relevant in today’s geopolitical environment,” Obama stated.

That bit of political opportunism to try to push the stalled TTIP talks by playing on EU fears of Russian gas loss after the US-orchestrated Ukraine coup of February 22, ignores the fact that the problem in getting US shale gas to the EU does not lie in easier LNG licensing procedures in the USA and EU. ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Saturday, April 12 @ 23:51:21 EDT (1855 reads)
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 Politics: The Anti-Empire Report #127 - April 2014

OpinionBy William Blum

Indoctrinating a new generation

Is there anyone out there who still believes that Barack Obama, when he’s speaking about American foreign policy, is capable of being anything like an honest man? In a March 26 talk in Belgium to “European youth”, the president fed his audience one falsehood, half-truth, blatant omission, or hypocrisy after another. If George W. Bush had made some of these statements, Obama supporters would not hesitate to shake their head, roll their eyes, or smirk. Here’s a sample:

– “In defending its actions, Russian leaders have further claimed Kosovo as a precedent – an example they say of the West interfering in the affairs of a smaller country, just as they’re doing now. But NATO only intervened after the people of Kosovo were systematically brutalized and killed for years.”

Most people who follow such things are convinced that the 1999 US/NATO bombing of the Serbian province of Kosovo took place only after the Serbian-forced deportation of ethnic Albanians from Kosovo was well underway; which is to say that the bombing was launched to stop this “ethnic cleansing”. In actuality, the systematic deportations of large numbers of people did not begin until a few days after the bombing began, and was clearly a reaction to it, born of Serbia’s extreme anger and powerlessness over the bombing. This is easily verified by looking at a daily newspaper for the few days before the bombing began the night of March 23/24, 1999, and the few days following. Or simply look at the New York Times of March 26, page 1, which reads: ...

Posted by Blue1moon on Tuesday, April 08 @ 21:16:27 EDT (1779 reads)
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