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Entries posted on “June, 2009”
hat tip: Information Clearing House
June 14, 2009
On the morning of 9 February 2004, The New York Times carried an exclusive and alarming story. The paper’s Baghdad correspondent, Dexter Filkins, reported that US officials had obtained a 17-page letter, believed to have been written by the notorious terrorist Abu Musab al Zarqawi to the “inner circle” of al-Qa’ida’s leadership, urging them to accept that the best way to beat US forces in Iraq was effectively to start a civil war.
The letter argued that al-Qa’ida, which is a Sunni network, should attack the Shia population of Iraq: “It is the only way to prolong the duration of the fight between the infidels and us. If we succeed in dragging them into a sectarian war, this will awaken the sleepy Sunnis.”
Later that day, at a regular US press briefing in Baghdad, US General Mark Kimmitt dealt with a string of questions about The New York Times report: “We believe the report and the document is credible, and we take the report seriously… It is clearly a plan on the part of outsiders to come in to this country and spark civil war, create sectarian violence, try to expose fissures in this society.” The story went on to news agency wires and, within 24 hours, it was running around the world.
There is very good reason to believe that that letter was a fake – and a significant one because there is equally good reason to believe that it was one product among many from a new machinery of propaganda which has been created by the United States and its allies since the terrorist attacks of September 2001.
For the first time in human history, there is a concerted strategy to manipulate global perception. And the mass media are operating as its compliant assistants, failing both to resist it and to expose it.
The sheer ease with which this machinery has been able to do its work reflects a creeping structural weakness which now afflicts the production of our news. I’ve spent the last two years researching a book about falsehood, distortion and propaganda in the global media.
The “Zarqawi letter” which made it on to the front page of The New York Times in February 2004 was one of a sequence of highly suspect documents which were said to have been written either by or to Zarqawi and which were fed into news media.
This material is being generated, in part, by intelligence agencies who continue to work without effective oversight; and also by a new and essentially benign structure of “strategic communications” which was originally designed by doves in the Pentagon and Nato who wanted to use subtle and non-violent tactics to deal with Islamist terrorism but whose efforts are poorly regulated and badly supervised with the result that some of its practitioners are breaking loose and engaging in the black arts of propaganda.
I think it’s time we applied the same advertising standards to Washington’s legislative products that the feds apply to breakfast foods. The Food and Drug Administration rapped General Mills this week for making misleading claims about the benefits of Cheerios. The food manufacturer says the whole-grain O’s are “clinically proven to lower cholesterol.” The FDA demanded packaging changes to ensure truth in labeling.
Well, how about the bogus marketing of the fiscal “stimulus”? President Obama and the Democrats promoted the trillion-dollar package as job creation salvation. The White House claims 150,000 jobs have been “created or saved.” But since February, the nation has lost more than 1.3 million jobs. The current 8.9 percent unemployment rate in the wake of the stimulus passage is worse than the 8.8% unemployment Obama’s economists darkly predicted if Congress didn’t immediately adopt their recovery plan.
The “stimulus” was supposed to provide aid to the country’s neediest areas. It’s not. The Associated Press reported after reviewing 5,500 planned transportation projects that “states are planning to spend 50 percent more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than in communities with the highest.”
Obama promised that Americans would be able to track “every dime” of the “stimulus” at one handy clearinghouse website. They won’t. The Recovery.gov site data won’t be fully available until next spring — halfway through the program.
On June 15th and 16th the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) will hold its ninth annual heads of state summit in the Russian city of Yekaterinburg. It will be attended by the presidents of its six full members – China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan – and by representatives from its four observer states – India, Iran, Mongolia and Pakistan – and from several aspiring partner nations yet to be announced.
Its six full members account for 60% of the land mass of Eurasia and its population is a third of the world’s. With observer states included, its affiliates account for half of the human race. They also include four of the world’s seven official nuclear states.
As a Russian daily said in 2006, “The SCO is a momentous organisation which occupies territory from the Arctic to the Indian Ocean and from Kaliningrad to Shanghai. It may become the second political pole of the world.”
At the 2006 heads of state summit in Shanghai, the presidents of Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan attended as observers. To see those three leaders meet under the auspices of a multinational security alliance headed by Russia and China, as all three of their nations were at war or could soon be, revealed the regional and global prospects for the SCO as a new model for conflict resolution and cooperation.
Raging Moderate, by Will Durst
The government has it all wrong. Yeah, yeah, I know. Who’s ever heard THAT before? “This Just In: Water Is Wet.” What’s got my knickers in a big old knotted ball the size of Kobe Bryant’s ego this time around is the age-old practice of politicians balancing their financial shortsightedness on the backs of the little guy. The little BAD guy. I’m talking about sin taxes. Of which I might be secreting a bit more firsthand outrage than the rest of you guys, since I’m pretty much that little bad guy everybody is talking about.
Oh yeah, I’m bad. I eat red meat. Often. And I drink and even smoke. Not so often, but still. Not much into sweets, but make up for it with the savories. Cheetos? Doritos? Kettle Brand Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper Krinkle Cut potato chips? You betcha. And what drives me nuttier than the pecan pie shelf at a truck stop off the I- 95 in Georgia is the self-righteous attitude these pillars of the community adopt while squeezing folks like me tighter than a two-headed nickel in Vise-Grips.
We sin-tax targets aren’t allowed to squawk either, because, well… we’re sinners. We’re expected to quietly cower in our greasy, damp, smoky, donut-crumb-littered corner, as they slap and gouge us for doing things every 4th grader knows oughtn’t be done. Like pouring stuff into our bodies that is used to wash the rust off of chrome bumpers. For cupping our hands over our ears making “la la la” noises whenever a nutritionist pops up on TV. And possessing less impulse control than a mountain lion in a fish market after closing time.
It may seem short-term tempting, but I’m convinced these new liquor, cigarette and sodie pop surcharges are entirely the 180-degree wrong way to go. It’s a scientific fact that we degenerate reprobates kick off early. Hardly manage to crawl our way into our sixties… Just tip right over. Every time I eat, I can hear my arteries harden. And that’s what the government should be encouraging. It’s those darn health nuts that end up lingering. They’re the ones sucking up all our Social Security and Medicare money.
So I propose; instead of sin taxes, we go the other way around entirely, and institute a series of saint taxes. Holistic tariffs. Longevity levies. You want to live forever? Fine: pay for it. First we throw an excise fee onto fresh fruit. Subsidize distilleries. French fries and cigarettes are handed out like government cheese, but every six months you are required to apply to the DMV for a license to wear a seat belt. Joggers pay tolls based on GPS readouts in their shoes. Beer drinkers receive cash rebates for every six-pack consumed and cholesterol credits can be sold or traded.
The Yekaterinburg Turning Point
By Prof. Michael Hudson
June 13, 2009
The city of Yakaterinburg, Russia’s largest east of the Urals, may become known not only as the death place of the tsars but of American hegemony too – and not only where US U-2 pilot Gary Powers was shot down in 1960, but where the US-centered international financial order was brought to ground.
Challenging America will be the prime focus of extended meetings in Yekaterinburg, Russia (formerly Sverdlovsk) today and tomorrow (June 15-16) for Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance is comprised of Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kyrghyzstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. It will be joined on Tuesday by Brazil for trade discussions among the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India and China).
The attendees have assured American diplomats that dismantling the US financial and military empire is not their aim. They simply want to discuss mutual aid – but in a way that has no role for the United States, NATO or the US dollar as a vehicle for trade. US diplomats may well ask what this really means, if not a move to make US hegemony obsolete. That is what a multipolar world means, after all. For starters, in 2005 the SCO asked Washington to set a timeline to withdraw from its military bases in Central Asia. Two years later the SCO countries formally aligned themselves with the former CIS republics belonging to the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), established in 2002 as a counterweight to NATO.
by Dr. Ellen Hodgson Brown
It may be prophetic that among the brands GM chose to kill was the Pontiac Firebird, a classic hot car of the 1960s sporting the fabled Phoenix on its hood. In mythology, the Phoenix was a colorful bird that incinerated itself in its nest, then rose from the ashes as its own offspring. GM too, says Michael Moore, could be reborn as something else. In a June 1 eulogy of sorts, he wrote:
“So here we are at the deathbed of General Motors. The company’s body not yet cold, and I find myself filled with—dare I say it—joy. It is not the joy of revenge against a corporation that ruined my hometown … Nor do I, obviously, claim any joy in knowing that 21,000 more GM workers will be told that they, too, are without a job. But you and I and the rest of America now own a car company!”
What would we want with a car company? Moore suggests that the bankrupt mega-builder of obsolete gas guzzlers can be transformed into a mega-builder of things we need more—mass transit vehicles, including bullet trains, light rail mass transit lines, energy efficient clean buses, hybrid or all-electric cars, and alternative energy devices such as batteries, windmills, and solar panels. The factories that built the cars that helped destroy the environment can become the tools for cleaning it up. This would, of course, take some investment; but Moore suggests that to pay for it all, the government could impose a two-dollar tax on every gallon of gasoline.
It sounds good right up to the gas tax, a regressive tax that would hit hardest in the wallets of the poor and would raise alarm bells for politicians, the oil lobby, and voters. Isn’t there some way to fund the plan without driving up the tax burden or the national debt? In fact, there is.
World news outlets have provided daily coverage on what has been described as escalating piracy off the coast of Somalia. Absent from such reporting is how and why the situation in the region reached the impasse it has and what its broader significance is.
Many of these “pirates” are former fishermen driven out of their sole occupation by years of intrusive and illegal large-scale poaching by world commercial concerns or affected by eighteen years of toxic, including nuclear, wastes dumped off their shores but that isn’t acknowledged. To do so would complicate the narrative contrived by those who have, with disastrous consequences, interfered in the internal affairs of Somalia and its neighborhood for several decades and are in large part responsible for the current crisis.
Instead, the action begins where the governments of the Western states that have deployed warships, helicopters, snipers and bases to the region script its opening act: With pirates.
The national tragedy of Somalia didn’t begin last summer with piracy, or with the armed conflict in 2006 and the invasion of Ethiopia; nor did it commence in 1991 with the ouster of President Barre and fighting between militia groups. No, it started in 1977.
June 09, 2009
By Paul Craig Roberts
The power of irrational fear in the US is extraordinary. It ranks up there with the Israel Lobby, the military/security complex, and the financial gangsters. Indeed, fear might be the most powerful force in America.
Americans are at ease with their country’s aggression against Afghanistan, Iraq, and Pakistan, which has resulted in a million dead Muslim civilians and several million refugees, because the US government has filled Americans with fear of terrorists. “We have to kill them over there before they come over here.”
Fearful of American citizens, the US government is building concentration camps apparently all over the country. According to news reports, a $385 million US government contract was given by the Bush/Cheney Regime to Cheney’s company, Halliburton, to build “detention centers” in the US. The corporate media never explained for whom the detention centers are intended.
Most Americans dismiss such reports. “It can’t happen here.” However, in north-eastern Florida not far from Tallahassee, I have seen what might be one of these camps. There is a building inside a huge open area fenced with razor wire. There is no one there and no signs. The facility appears new and unused and does not look like an abandoned prisoner work camp.
What is it for?
Who spent all that money for what?
There are Americans who are so terrified of their lives being taken by terrorists that they are hoping the US government will use nuclear weapons to destroy “the Muslim enemy.” The justifications concocted for the use of nuclear bombs against Japanese civilian populations have had their effect. There are millions of Americans who wish “their” government would kill everyone that “their” government has demonized.
hat tip: bradleyamendment
The “Divorce and Domestic Violence industry” is out of control and ruining the lives of millions of parents and children daily. It has been statistically proven that when both parents have equal custody rights children do enormously better by twenty six different measures. Equal rights and custody must be mandated unless there is real proof of harm to a child in front of a jury!
The divorce system has now evolved into nothing but a cash cow and power machine for lawyers, judges and other government bureaucrats. This system hurts families and children every day for its own convenience and profit. The system in place is ignoring the fundamental rights granted by the U.S. Constitution. The divorce and child custody has become an ILLEGAL kangaroo court in many cases that yield much prejudice against fathers. Family courts today are not a solution for divorcing parents, but a hindrance to the process and has been proven to be very harmful to children and families.
Over 80% of custody awards are for sole custody and this has been proven the absolute WORST arrangement for children. Sole custody is the easiest and most profitable for lawyers and the states. Therefore it is a fact that divorce courts today are destroying millions of children’s chances of growing up in the best environment. The chance of divorce for a child later in life is 93% when raised in a sole-custody home.