Gender: Do not display
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,891
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,891
By Andrew Cockburn
Friday, September 13, 2013
Not until five months after the armistice that ended WWI did the Allies allow Germany to import food — not out of concern for the ongoing death and suffering, but out of fear that desperate Germans would follow the Russians into Bolshevism. By the time it was lifted, the peacetime blockade had killed about a quarter of a million people, including many children who either starved or died from diseases associated with malnutrition. A survey of 600 young Nazis on their motivations for supporting Hitler suggested that a major influence was their vivid memories of childhood hunger and privation.
Reality gives the lie to these assertions. Simply put, licenses and waivers are irrelevant, because the excision of Iranian banks from the global financial system makes it practically impossible for anyone exporting medical supplies to Iran to get paid. The U.S. campaign to scare banks out of dealing with Iran under any circumstances has seen to that. And while Levey, like Cohen, insists that “U.S. sanctions carve out transactions for medicine and agricultural products,” Siamak Namazi, a Dubai-based researcher who has made the deepest study of this issue, argues otherwise. He quotes a senior Iranian pharmaceutical executive who flew to Paris to present a French bank with documents showing a trade was fully legal, only to be told: “Even if you bring a letter from the French president himself saying it is okay to do so, we will not risk this.”
So, years pass. We “squeeze, and then squeeze some more” with no end in sight. I am told that there were high-level intelligence briefings in Washington late last year predicting popular unrest in Iran due to hardships inflicted by the sanctions. I myself saw evidence of this misapprehension in a chance dinner conversation with a very senior State Department official and a wealthy Iranian-American businessman.
“The Iranians will respond to pressure,” said the official confidently.
I repeated this remark to the Iranian sitting beside him, whose eyes promptly widened in astonishment. “Oh no, not at all,” he replied. “You should meet my aunts in Tehran. They are from the old regime, nothing to do with the government, and yet they are so angry about the sanctions, they demonstrate for a nuclear Iran.”
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/a-very-perfect-instrument-by-andrew-cockburn.html
Posted by polly7 | Fri Sep 13, 2013, 10:14 AM (0 replies)
By Ewan Robertson
Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Estimations of the number of communes in Venezuela have been surpassed, as 1,150 communes registered in a national census last weekend.
President Nicolas Maduro lauded the census as a “tremendous event” through his twitter account. “Fascism is defeated with work and the concrete advances of grassroots power, everyone to concentrate forces on the communes now!” he wrote yesterday.
Community councils in Venezuela are grassroots bodies where local residents manage public funds and undertake projects promoting community development. Communes, meanwhile, are formed by groups of community councils, and can take on larger scale projects and public works.
The director of information and technology systems for the Ministry of Communes, Feijoo Jimenez, explained to ALBA Ciudad radio last Friday that the government is pushing the formation of communes as a means for communities to “administer their own resources, projects and activities”.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/expectations-surpassed-as-over-1000-communes-registered-in-venezuela-by-ewan-robertson.html
Posted by polly7 | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 12:48 PM (10 replies)
Does David Brandt hold the secret for turning industrial agriculture from global-warming problem to carbon solution?
—By Tom Philpott | Mon Sep. 9, 2013 3:00 AM PDT
CHATTING WITH DAVID BRANDT outside his barn on a sunny June morning, I wonder if he doesn't look too much like a farmer—what a casting director might call "too on the nose." He's a beefy man in bib overalls, a plaid shirt, and well-worn boots, with short, gray-streaked hair peeking out from a trucker hat over a round, unlined face ruddy from the sun.
This is the domain of industrial-scale agriculture—a vast expanse of corn and soybean fields broken up only by the sprawl creeping in from Columbus. Brandt, 66, raised his kids on this farm after taking it over from his grandfather. Yet he sounds not so much like a subject of King Corn as, say, one of the organics geeks I work with on my own farm in North Carolina. In his g-droppin' Midwestern monotone, he's telling me about his cover crops—fall plantings that blanket the ground in winter and are allowed to rot in place come spring, a practice as eyebrow-raising in corn country as holding a naked yoga class in the pasture. The plot I can see looks just about identical to the carpet of corn that stretches from eastern Ohio to western Nebraska. But last winter it would have looked very different: While the neighbors' fields lay fallow, Brandt's teemed with a mix of as many as 14 different plant species.
"Our cover crops work together like a community—you have several people helping instead of one, and if one slows down, the others kind of pick it up," he says. "We're trying to mimic Mother Nature." Cover crops have helped Brandt slash his use of synthetic fertilizers and herbicides. Half of his corn and soy crop is flourishing without any of either; the other half has gotten much lower applications of those pricey additives than what crop consultants around here recommend.
Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/environment/2013/09/cover-crops-no-till-david-brandt-farms
Posted by polly7 | Wed Sep 11, 2013, 10:29 AM (9 replies)
By The Guardian
Source: The Guardian
Friday, September 06, 2013
Secrecy was paramount. Britain's imperial general staff knew there would be outrage if it became known that the government was intending to use its secret stockpile of chemical weapons. But Winston Churchill, then secretary of state for war, brushed aside their concerns. As a long-term advocate of chemical warfare, he was determined to use them against the Russian Bolsheviks. In the summer of 1919, 94 years before the devastating strike in Syria, Churchill planned and executed a sustained chemical attack on northern Russia.
The British were no strangers to the use of chemical weapons. During the third battle of Gaza in 1917, General Edmund Allenby had fired 10,000 cans of asphyxiating gas at enemy positions, to limited effect. But in the final months of the first world war, scientists at the governmental laboratories at Porton in Wiltshire developed a far more devastating weapon: the top secret "M Device", an exploding shell containing a highly toxic gas called diphenylaminechloroarsine. The man in charge of developing it, Major General Charles Foulkes, called it "the most effective chemical weapon ever devised".
Trials at Porton suggested that it was indeed a terrible new weapon. Uncontrollable vomiting, coughing up blood and instant, crippling fatigue were the most common reactions. The overall head of chemical warfare production, Sir Keith Price, was convinced its use would lead to the rapid collapse of the Bolshevik regime. "If you got home only once with the gas you would find no more Bolshies this side of Vologda."The cabinet was hostile to the use of such weapons, much to Churchill's irritation. He also wanted to use M Devices against the rebellious tribes of northern India. "I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes," he declared in one secret memorandum. He criticised his colleagues for their "squeamishness", declaring that "the objections of the India Office to the use of gas against natives are unreasonable. Gas is a more merciful weapon than high explosive shell, and compels an enemy to accept a decision with less loss of life than any other agency of war."
He ended his memo on a note of ill-placed black humour: "Why is it not fair for a British artilleryman to fire a shell which makes the said native sneeze?" he asked. "It is really too silly."
Posted by polly7 | Fri Sep 6, 2013, 10:42 AM (4 replies)
By Nicola Nasser
Friday, September 06, 2013
Jordan’s noninterference in internal Syrian affairs is the officially declared policy, but the reported training in the country of Syrian opposition fighters, the recent visit to the country by the President of the Syrian National Coalition (SNC), Ahmad al-Jarba, the latter’s visit to southern Syria across the Jordanian borders and the reports about opening a SNC representative office in Amman after al-Jarba’s meeting with Nasser Judeh, and the reported infiltration of arms and “Jihadists” from Jordan into Syria are all indications that compromise Jordan’s officially declared policy of noninterference.
In April this year, Syrian President al-Assad said that Amman “is facilitating the passage of thousands of fighters into our country;” it was his first public warning to Jordan. His state TV told the Jordanians they were “playing with fire.” The Syrian newspaper Al-Thawra, also said in a front-page editorial that the Jordanian government “could not claim neutrality” anymore.
Al-Assad added that he had sent envoys to the kingdom during the preceding two months to remind Amman of the two countries' shared goal of fighting the “terrorists.” “The fire does not stop at our border and everyone knows that Jordan is exposed to what Syria is exposed to.”
In November 2005, al-Qaeda mounted a series of devastating bomb attacks at three luxury hotels in the Jordanian capital, killing some 60 people. The attacks were said to be in retaliation for Jordan hosting training centers for the new Iraqi army and police, and for becoming a de facto logistical transit base in support of the US occupation of Iraq in 2003.
Posted by polly7 | Fri Sep 6, 2013, 10:39 AM (0 replies)
By Robert Fisk
Source: The Independent
Thursday, September 05, 2013
Missiles maybe. But the bombardment of clichés is real enough – and low enough quality not to do anyone any harm except for the gentlemen who utter them. Really, who writes this stuff for Kerry? There was “armchair isolationism”. Why an armchair? And who was the target of the weird reference to post-First World War US isolationism?
Was Kerry trying to turn Obama into Roosevelt after the 1941 “day of infamy” (a genuine non-cliché there from old Franklin D)? Then we had our old friend, the “state sponsor of terrorism” from the days of Saddam – no wonder a British minister mistook Assad for the executed Iraqi dictator – from House Majority leader Eric Cantor. And just listen to this from Kerry: “This is not the time to be spectators to a slaughter. Neither our country nor our conscience can afford the cost of silence.” Yup, it’s alliteration, folks (spectators/slaughter, country/conscience/cost).
And then yet once more – how tired can you get of this mulch? – Kerry also felt he could compare Assad to Hitler. This is preposterous. Over a hundred thousand Syrians may well have died in this terrible war. But Hitler started a war that may have killed 70 million. Does Kerry maybe think that Hitler is still alive? The late Israeli prime minister Menachem Begin thought that when he fantasized in a letter to Ronnie Reagan when he was invading Lebanon in 1982 that he felt he was advancing on Berlin (Arafat was the man in the bunker). And not long ago the now Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told us all that the crackpot president of Iran (Mahmoud Ahmedinejad at the time) was “worse than Hitler”. So let’s have it just one more time: HITLER IS DEAD.
And get this. Obama is not asking America to go to war, but to “degrade and deter” Assad’s ability to use chemical weapons. We first got “degrade” in the 1991 Gulf war, then we got it again when Nato fired weapons at Milosovic’s chums in Serbia (targets, you may remember, that included a TV station, an express train and a hospital). And “the costs of inaction are greater and graver still” – this from Democratic chairman of the Senate committee, Robert Menendez. But is this true? When Saddam used gas against the Kurds of Halabjah, the US did not see this as a ‘grave cost’ to the nation. Indeed, it waited years before condemning it because Saddam was our mate at the time.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/this-bombardment-of-syria-clich-s-shows-no-sign-of-stopping-by-robert-fisk.html
Posted by polly7 | Thu Sep 5, 2013, 06:42 AM (2 replies)
By Tim Holmes
Source: New Left Project
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
.....In reality, Washington’s actions in Syria will reflect its broader goal of securing regional dominance. They want, notes analyst Paul Rogers,
a pro-western Syria that would severely constrain Iranian influence in the region and end any notion that a 'Shi’a crescent' could be established—from the Mediterranean to the Indian Ocean, through Lebanon, Syria, Iraq and Iran. This is akin to the neo-con dream of 2001-03, which believed that regime termination in Iraq would form the western counterpart of a pincer against Iran, complementing Afghanistan’s role to the east.
But the US has failed to win a dominant position for pro-western groups amid Syria’s disunited rebel factions, and instead confronts the “growing power of extreme Islamist paramilitaries”. Some “realists” therefore suggest Obama fuel the civil war deliberately, adjusting the flow of weapons to prevent either side winning. But Washington is equally unprepared to let Syria fragment, leaving large areas under jihadist control. The “chemical-weapons controversy”, then, “might provide a means to hasten Assad’s end and avert this outcome.”
The US media take official claims about the chemical attacks at face value; but the available evidence is shaky at best. It is clear an attack took place; less clear who perpetrated it. The Syrian regime has little obvious incentive to cross Obama’s “red line” and provoke retaliation. The Office of the Director for National Intelligence lacks “proof Assad ordered chemical weapons use”, while those “panicked calls” from a Syrian commander to the field only cast doubt on the regime’s complicity. Many question whether such attacks merit a response if the wider Syrian bloodbath does not.
Military options range from pointless to “extremely dangerous”, and are generally both. A 2012 paper in the Journal of Peace Research found “that military interventions in favor of the rebel faction … tend to increase government killings of civilians by about 40%”. This supports an “academic consensus” that outside involvement makes civil wars longer, more bloody, and more difficult to resolve peaceably. The “worst results typically involve multiple external actors with conflicting objectives”—as in Syria.
Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/who-has-the-power-to-make-war-on-syria-by-tim-holmes.html
Posted by polly7 | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 11:39 AM (0 replies)
Wednesday, September 04, 2013
Forget that the United States has repeatedly used chemical and even radioactive weapons against civilians. Forget that the U.S. stands in the vanguard of modern petro-capitalism’s gassing of all life on Earth through wildly excessive global carbon emissions that increasingly pose a grave threat to human survival. And that the United States policy makers have long felt entitled by America’s supposed “exceptionalism” to violate international rules and horrify “the global community” with abject impunity.
The administration knows further that most Western policy and opinion makers share its “patent lack of sympathy for confidence in the Syrian popular uprising” (Achcar) and that responsible intelligence links raise serious doubts about the notion that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad actively ordered the chemical weapons attack of August 21. Along the way, besides the fact that Obama’s attacks will kill civilians and the risk of broad regional spillover and catastrophe, there’s the tricky matter of Russian president Vladimir Putin reportedly making strange noises about attacking Saudi Arabia if the West attacks Syria. Putin has sent Russian warships into the Mediterranean, raising the specter of escalating U.S. tensions with what is still the world’s second leading nuclear weapons power.
In his race to war, Obama and his leading CML and humanitarian-imperialist advisors and operatives (Susan Rice and Samantha Power) must feel a little bit like the cartoon character Road Runner, caught ten yards off a cliff and realizing that there’s no solid ground underneath. With no safety net and fig leaf for imminent war crimes on offer from the UN, NATO, the Arab League, or even from the British junior partner in mass Muslim-killing, the Nobel Peace Prize-mocking president is gambling that Congress will grant him one. If the attack turns out to be yet another example of the longstanding futility of Washington’s belief that it can militarily manage the world from the banks of the Potomac, he can deal Congress in on the shame of the latest imperial fiasco.
The U.S. and its Commander in Chief feel that their use-of-deadly-force credibility is on the line, like a Mafia don compelled to generate some corpses to prove that he is still worth fearing. Reduced to missile-attacking and bombing a rogue state to maintain imperial authority, Obama remains poised to make Syria the eighth majority-Muslim country with which the U.S. has been at war during his term as president .
In Rush to Strike Syria, U.S. Tried to Derail U.N. Probe
How Intelligence Was Twisted to Support an Attack on Syria
Posted by polly7 | Wed Sep 4, 2013, 11:13 AM (3 replies)
So, in light of all of the above, the path for Mr. Obama to take – as a rational, humane being – is of course clear. Is it not? N’est-ce pas? Nicht wahr? – Bombs Away!
Pretty discouraging it is. No, I actually find much to be rather encouraging. So many people seem to have really learned something from the Iraqi pile of lies and horror and from decades of other American interventions. Skepticism – good ol’ healthy skepticism – amongst the American, British and French people. It was stirring to watch the British Parliament in a debate of the kind rarely, if ever, seen in the 21st-century US Congress. And American military officers asking some of the right questions. The Arab League not supporting a US attack, surprising for an organization not enamored of the secular Syrian government. And NATO – even NATO! – refusing so far to blindly fall in line with the White House. When did that last happen? I thought it was against international law.
Secretary of State John Kerry said that if the United States did not respond to the use of chemical weapons the country would become an international “laughingstock”. Yes, that’s really what America and its people have to worry about – not that their country is viewed as a lawless, mass-murdering repeat offender. Other American officials have expressed concern that a lack of a US response might incite threats from Iran and North Korea. 10
Now that is indeed something to laugh at. It’s comforting to think that the world might be finally losing the stars in their eyes about US foreign policy partly because of countless ridiculous remarks such as these.
Posted by polly7 | Tue Sep 3, 2013, 03:51 PM (0 replies)
The Lie of "Limited" War Against Syria
By Shamus Cooke
August 30, 2013 "Information Clearing House - The rats are jumping ship. Obama's strongest allies can't stomach the stench of lies that are the foundation of the war effort against Syria. Even England, whose entire foreign policy is reduced to asking "how high?" when the U.S. says "jump,” opted to stay grounded for Obama's war drive.
The Arab League, too, having long been considered a puppet show by U.S. foreign policy, has cut its strings. The UN Security Council — after having learned not to trust Obama in Libya — also refuses to give permission for an attack. Which leaves France — the former colonial master of Syria — to fill England's shoes as the token "important" European nation to give the attack a thin coat of "international" support. But England's insolence will surely make an impression on the French public, who voted in a "socialist" president, presumably not to act as a warmonger.
Obama has offered zero evidence that the Syrian government is responsible for the most recent chemical weapons attack. UN investigator Carla Del Ponte blamed the U.S.-backed rebels for a previous chemical weapons attack, so if one were to presume guilt, it would flow towards the rebels.
While foreign nations instantly recognized Obama's war song as a plagiarism of President Bush's lyrics used to attack Iraq, sections of the American public have been fooled by Obama's mellowing tone. The soft, reassuring sound of "limited strikes" that will last "hours, not days" has a calming effect on the nerves of the American public, who are essentially being told that Syria needs a light slap on the wrist for being "bad,” after which everything will return to normal; no U.S. troops need die. No big deal, really.
But, of course, any military action in the Middle East is a big deal. With each new war the U.S. wages in the region tensions rise, self defense preparations are made, and regional alliances are readied to act as deterrents. The nations not aligned with U.S. foreign policy — and there are many — are desperate to stop the U.S.' bloody march across the Middle East.
Full Article: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36039.htm
Posted by polly7 | Fri Aug 30, 2013, 09:45 PM (10 replies)