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polly7

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Gender: Female
Hometown: Saskatchewan
Home country: Canada
Member since: Sat Jul 9, 2005, 11:46 PM
Number of posts: 11,404

Journal Archives

Obama and U.S. Military Divided Over Syria

By Shamus Cooke

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Excerpts:


"The Islamist character of the opposition reflects the main constituency of the rebellion...The religious agenda of the combatants sets them apart from many civilian activists, protesters and aid workers who had hoped the uprising would create a civil, democratic Syria."

Thus, yet another secular Middle Eastern government — after Iraq and Libya — is being pushed into the abyss of Islamist extremism, and the shoving is being done by the United States, which The New York Times discovered was funneling thousands of tons of weapons into Syria through U.S. allies in the region, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. We now know that these weapons were given to the Islamist extremists; directly or indirectly, it doesn't matter.

Even after this U.S.-organized weapons trafficking was uncovered, the Obama administration still has the nerve to say that the U.S. is only supplying "non lethal" aid to the Syrian rebels. Never mind that many of the guns that the U.S. is transporting into Syria from its allies were sold to the allies by the United States, where the weapons were manufactured.

Now, many politicians are demanding that Obama institute a "no fly zone" in Syria, a euphemism for military invasion — one country cannot enforce a no fly zone inside another country without first destroying the enemy Air Force, not to mention its surface to air missiles, etc. We saw in Libya that a no fly zone quickly evolved into a full scale invasion, which would happen again in Syria, with the difference being that Syria has a more powerful army with more sophisticated weaponry, not to mention powerful allies — Iran and Russia.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/obama-and-u-s-military-divided-over-syria-by-shamus-cooke

George Monbiot - Beware The Rise Of The Government Scientists Turned Lobbyists

By George Monbiot

Source: The Guardian

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Excerpt:
What this illustrates is that these trials have taken place far too late: after the toxins have already been widely deployed. The use of neonicotinoids across Europe was approved before we knew what their impacts might be.

Experiments in laboratory or "semi-field" conditions, free from contamination, suggest that these toxins could be a reason for the rapid reduction in bee populations. We still know almost nothing about their impacts on other insect pollinators, such as hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and midges, many of which are also declining swiftly.

Walport went on to suggest that the proposed ban would cause "severe reductions in yields to struggling European farmers and economies". Again, this is simply incorrect: in its exhaustive investigation, published last month, the House of Commons environmental audit committee concluded that "neonicotinoid pesticides are not fundamental to the general economic or agricultural viability of UK farming". In fact they can prevent a more precise and rational use of pesticides, known as integrated pest management. The committee reports that all the rape seed on sale in this country, for example, is pre-treated with neonicotinoids, so farmers have no choice but to use them, whether or not they are required.

He then deployed the kind of groundless moral blackmail frequently used by industry-funded astroturf campaigns. "The control of malaria, dengue and other important diseases also depends on the control of insect vectors." Yes, it does in many cases, but this has nothing to do with the issue he was discussing: a partial ban on neonicotinoids in European crops. This old canard (if you don't approve this pesticide for growing oilseed rape in Europe, children in Mozambique will die of malaria) reminds us that those opposed to measures which protect the natural world are often far worse scaremongers than environmentalists can be. How often have you heard people claim that "if the greens get their way, we'll go back to living in caves" or "if carbon taxes are approved, the economy will collapse"?

But perhaps most revealing is Walport's misunderstanding of the precautionary principle. This, he says, "just means working out and balancing in advance all the risks and benefits of action or inaction, and to make a proportionate response". No it doesn't. The Rio declaration, signed by the UK and 171 other states, defines it as follows: "Where there are threats of serious or irreversible damage, lack of full scientific certainty shall not be used as a reason for postponing cost-effective measures to prevent environmental degradation." This, as it happens, is the opposite of what his article sought to do. Yet an understanding of the precautionary principle is fundamental to Walport's role.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/beware-the-rise-of-the-government-scientists-turned-lobbyists-by-george-monbiot

Guantanamo’s Death Row

By Tom Hayden

Source: Tomhayden.com

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Dear Mr. President,

Your Guantanamo choice – to release the hunger strikers or let them die – reminds me of Margaret Thatcher’s similar choice in 1981 when “the Iron Lady,” as her admirers called her, allowed 10 Irishmen to slowly starve to death because she would not recognize their most basic human rights. Thatcher’s stubborn reputation was preserved. But the whole world was watching. One of the strikers, Bobby Sands, was elected to parliament as he lay dying. The agony caused massive sympathy for Irish Republicans and led directly to the political success of Sinn Fein and the Good Friday peace agreement.

You alone face a similar crisis. Despite your original vow to close Guantanamo, members of Congress, Democrats included, have blocked your every effort. It is understandable that you would hesitate to unilaterally release detainees held in Guantanamo by your own administration. But your policy of brutal force-feeding is an abhorrent example of torturing prisoners to “save” them. But if the alternative is to send an estimated 17 men to their deaths as martyrs, after excruciating treatment at the hands of their guards, under a global media spotlight, I believe that some in the White House are reconsidering the options. They must do so quickly.

The White House has the power to reframe the issue. Your political opponents and many moderate voters define the detainees as terrorists who deserve their fate, and who, if released, will return to the battlefield against the United States. The facts are these: the total number at Guantanamo has declined from 240 to 166 since your promise to close the facility. There are 86 already designated for transfer, 56 of them from Yemen. You have the power, on a case-by-case basis, to release them, although many in Congress will complain vociferously. Sen. Diane Feinstein, however, already has called on you to lift the ban. Not only will such a step ease the Guantanamo crisis, it may facilitate the stalled talks with the Taliban. The release of one US prisoner held by the Taliban, Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, has been blocked by House Republicans objecting to an exchange for some Taliban detainees in Guantanamo; the exchange was meant to be a step toward a negotiated settlement.

The principle reason the Guantanamo detainees are willing to die is that that they believe, on the basis of all they know and have experienced, that there is no hope whatever for release in their lifetimes. While suicide bombers have committed their bodies as weapons, these prisoners are using their bodies nonviolently in a form of radical suicide.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/guantanamo-s-death-row-by-tom-hayden

New Research: Economic Austerity in US and Europe 'Is Killing People'

By Jon Queally

Source: Common Dreams

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Recessions hurt, but austerity kills.

Discovering that the cure to the financial crisis of 2008 was in some ways worse than the affliction, Stucklet and Basu argue that countries "turned their recessions into veritable epidemics" by championing austerity measures that ultimately "ruined or extinguished" thousands of lives in series of "misguided" attempts to balance budgets, appease financial markets, and bow to the economic elite.

"The harms we have found include HIV and malaria outbreaks, shortages of essential medicines, lost healthcare access, and an avoidable epidemic of alcohol abuse, depression and suicide," said Dr. Stuckler in a statement. "Austerity is having a devastating effect."


We were shocked and concerned at the illogic of the austerity advocates, and the hard data on its human and economic costs. We realized the impact of the Great Recession went far beyond people losing their homes and jobs. It was a full-scale assault on people's health. At the heart of the argument was the question of what it means to be a society, and what the appropriate role of government is in protecting people.


"Ultimately what we show is that worsening health is not an inevitable consequence of economic recessions. It's a political choice," said Professor Basu.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/new-research-economic-austerity-in-us-and-europe-is-killing-people-by-jon-queally

Sort of a NSS article that nobody here, I'm sure needs research to know how austerity kills, but it's slightly encouraging to see more people writing about it.

The Changing Map Of Europe And The Middle East For The Last Thousand Years, In 10 Minutes



The Changing Map Of Europe And The Middle East For The Last Thousand Years, In 10 Minutes
Monday, April 29, 2013

By Juan Cole

Source: Juancole.com

http://www.zcommunications.org/the-changing-map-of-europe-and-the-middle-east-for-the-last-thousand-years-in-10-minutes-by-juan-cole

"Go to Sleep or I Will Call the Planes"

—By Adam Serwer| Wed Apr. 24, 2013 6:01 AM PDT



A week ago, activist Farea al-Muslimi was live-tweeting the aftermath of a drone attack on his childhood village of Wessab in Yemen. Monday, he was testifying before a Senate subcommittee on the legality and impact of the Obama administration's targeted killing program. It was the first time Congress has heard from a witness with anything close to first-hand experience with being on the receiving end of a drone strike.

"Women used to say go to sleep or I will call your father," Muslimi said. "Now they say go to sleep, or I will call the planes."

Last week's strike killed Hameed al-Radmi, described by the US government as an Al Qaeda leader, and four suspected militants. But Muslimi told the Senate that Radmi had recently met with Yemeni government officials, and could easily have been captured, rather than killed in a strike that alienated everyone in the village.

"ll they have is the psychological fear and terror that now occupies their souls," Muslimi said of the residents of Wessab. "They fear that their home or a neighbor's home could be bombed at any time by a U.S. drone." President Obama received some backup from an unlikely source—Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who has spent the last week criticizing the Obama administration for handling the suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings in civilian court. Graham said although he would prefer to capture terror suspects, Yemeni officials couldn't be trusted to apprehend them. "The world we live in is where if you share this closely held information you're going to end up tipping off somebody," Graham told Muslimi.


Full Article: http://www.motherjones.com/mojo/2013/04/yemen-drone-strikes-senate-hearing



Drone Wars: How White Privilege Obscures Real Dialogue

By Noor Mir and Rooj Alwazir

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Farea wasn’t there to try to win the hearts and minds of Senate by giving them policy or reform suggestions. He was there to tell his story. But white privilege and its associated subjectivities were clearly in action.

“I have been to Yemen,” Lindsey Graham said to Farea al-Muslimi. Our blood pressures rose. “Isn’t your country in turmoil?” Graham continued. “We have some problems.” replied Al-Muslimi. Graham ended his questioning, self-indulgent smirk on his face, as if to say, “I rest my case.” Although we doubt he is even aware of the terminology, Graham’s neo-colonial presumptions about Farea’s understanding of his own country were disgusting.

No, Senator, you do not rest your case. We, as citizens of the United States and witnesses to the turmoil in this nation, do not accept your reasoning. Schools are shutting down across the country and students are staging walkouts on this very day to protest this blow to their rights to a fair and equal education. Affirmative action is still a subject of debate, as though structural inequalities are a myth. We are still waging an endless, futile and racist war on drugs and extending a school to prison pipeline that is tearing apart families and disenfranchising youth. Racial profiling is rife, with a Palestinian woman in a hijab being assaulted in a Boston suburb last week following the bombings and a Bangladeshi man being savagely beaten in the Bronx on account of the color of his skin. This country is ripped down the middle when it comes to gun control despite the serious shootings that have devastated Aurora (and remember Columbine?). Monsanto damages our food diversity and destroys our health but props up our elected officials with one hand and stifles small farms with the other. There are uprisings, there is dissent, there is police brutality. This country is in no lesser turmoil than Yemen, or Pakistan, just because the standards to which you hold our homelands in comparison to yours is whitewashed by your condescension and insensitivity to difference. Your bigotry precedes you, Senators -- your causation is fundamentally flawed.

Lindsey Graham was not the only one whose self-righteous “understanding” of the political and cultural landscapes of places like Pakistan and Yemen barred him from actually exploring the human cost of war. The majority of the hearing focused on analyzing the flaws of the current administration’s reliance on an overbearing executive authority and reforming the AUMF. We waited with bated breath for it to go beyond what we had hoped was only a self-obsessed, stagnant battle of the egos, but it did not. Questions prized legal, constitutional and operational aspects over ones actually pertaining to stories that Farea could have told, their commentaries punctuated with “We thank you for coming such a long way,” or “We thank you for that chilling perspective.” Nobody apologized for bombing his village, Wessab. They ascribed so profoundly and unwaveringly to forceful measures of “counterterrorism” as a given strategy with no room for questioning that they, in turn, tried to reject the validity of his personal experiences.


http://www.zcommunications.org/drone-wars-how-white-privilege-obscures-real-dialogue-by-noor-mir

Syria Lashes Out At Chemical Arms Use Claims

By Aljazeera

Source: Aljazeera
Sunday, April 28, 2013

Syria has dismissed US and British claims that it may have used chemical arms as a "barefaced lie" and its ally Russia has warned against using such fears to use military action.

"Statements by the US secretary of state and British government are inconsistent with reality and a barefaced lie," said Omran al-Zohbi, Syria's information minister, in an interview published on Saturday on the Kremlin-funded Russia Today's website.

"I want to stress one more time that Syria would never use it - not only because of its adherence to the international law and rules of leading war, but because of humanitarian and moral issues," Zohbi said.

Zohbi spoke out as UN chief Ban Ki-moon called on Damascus to approve a UN mission of inspectors to probe the alleged use of chemical weapons in the conflict that erupted in March 2011.


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/syria-lashes-out-at-chemical-arms-use-claims-by-aljazeera


Libyan Door to Syrian Door to Iran

By David Swanson

Source: Warisacrime.org

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Syria will suffer, of course. There will be no more an example of a humanitarian war that actually benefitted humanity after Syria than before. The precedent will not be one of having accomplished something, but of having gotten away with something.

For some truly illuminating background on what was done to Libya, and some relevant discussion of what awaits Syria (if we don't prevent it), I recommend Francis Boyle's new book, Destroying Libya and World Order.

Boyle served as a lawyer for the government of Libya repeatedly, over a period of decades, more than once successfully preventing a military assault by the United States and the United Kingdom. Boyle details the aggression toward Libya of the Reagan administration: the lies and false accusations, the sanctions, the provocations, the assassination attempts, the infiltration, the blatant disregard for international law.


In Syria, the United States has worked against peace and for violence. That violence is not a justification for further and heightened violence. And every member of an intelligence "community" that announces that Syria might possibly have used a chemical weapon should be doing community service for the people of Fallujah and Basra and Baghdad, not prodding the world's only stupor power into another genocide.


http://www.zcommunications.org/libyan-door-to-syrian-door-to-iran-by-david-swanson

Resisting Evictions Spanish Style

By Melissa García Lamarca

Source: New Internationalist

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Every day in Spain more than 500 eviction orders get delivered to households, leaving lives broken up like rubble. Sadly this is not a new story – over 420,000 foreclosures and 220,000 evictions have occurred since 2007. The loss of homes comes on top of vicious austerity measures, unemployment levels creeping above 25 per cent and massive political corruption scandals. As greater numbers of the recent jobless reach the end of their two-year unemployment insurance payouts, the scale of evictions ratchets up.

Most Spaniards purchased property because they were heavily encouraged by the state to do so. The institutional drive to increase home ownership dates back to the first Minister of Housing under the Franco dictatorship, José Luis Arrese, who stated in 1957: ‘We want a country of homeowners, not of proletarians.’ Promoting homeownership was a way for the state to abdicate responsibility for providing social housing, turning insubordinate spirits prone to protest about their living conditions into orderly, moral and disciplined citizens.


Following Martí’s foreclosure, government officials and a bank representative, escorted by the police, went to deliver the eviction order. But they backed down upon encountering dozens of people blocking the entrance to his home. This has become a key strategy in PAH’s Stop Evictions campaign, which has ramped up with strong support from the indignados (‘the outraged’, as participants in Spain’s mass movement for political change are called). Over 550 evictions have been halted across the country, and banks have been forced to negotiate social rent or to foreclose a home but drop the debt for hundreds of families. Solidarity has also come from other sectors, such as the Assembly of Locksmith Professionals in Pamplona who unanimously decided in December 2012 that they would not change the locks on houses under foreclosure proceedings. They have been joined by fire-fighters in Catalonia and A Coruña, who refuse to assist evictions.

On top of stopping evictions under way, PAH and indignado groups have also been occupying foreclosed buildings to provide shelter for evicted families with nowhere to go. A wave of occupations is occurring across the country. ‘We don’t want to steal anyone’s house, but we have nowhere to go and these chalets are empty. It’s crazy,’ stated a woman living in one of 70 occupied properties on the outskirts of Madrid. Until two years ago, she was an administrative assistant and her husband was a plumber. ‘We want people to understand that we are not despicable or lazy. We used to be the middle class.’


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/resisting-evictions-spanish-style-by-melissa-garc-a-lamarca

Julian Assange on George Bush’s Library and Bradley Manning’s Trial

By Medea Benjamin and Julian Assange

Friday, April 26, 2013

I had an opportunity to interview WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, where he has been granted political asylum since June 2012. Assange is wanted for questioning in Sweden over sex allegations, although he has never been charged. Assange believes that if sent to Sweden, he would be put into prison and then sent to the United States, where he is already being investigated for espionage for publishing hundreds of thousands of classified diplomatic and military memos on the WikiLeaks website.

George W. Bush’s new presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Texas has opened with great fanfare, including the attendance of Presidents Obama and former Presidents Carter, Bush Sr. and Clinton. George Bush has said that the library is “a place to lay out facts.” What facts would you like to see displayed at his library?


Full Article: http://www.zcommunications.org/julian-assange-on-george-bush-s-library-and-bradley-manning-s-trial-by-medea-benjamin

Drone Wars: How White Privilege Obscures Real Dialogue

By Noor Mir and Rooj Alwazir

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Farea wasn’t there to try to win the hearts and minds of Senate by giving them policy or reform suggestions. He was there to tell his story. But white privilege and its associated subjectivities were clearly in action.

“I have been to Yemen,” Lindsey Graham said to Farea al-Muslimi. Our blood pressures rose. “Isn’t your country in turmoil?” Graham continued. “We have some problems.” replied Al-Muslimi. Graham ended his questioning, self-indulgent smirk on his face, as if to say, “I rest my case.” Although we doubt he is even aware of the terminology, Graham’s neo-colonial presumptions about Farea’s understanding of his own country were disgusting.

No, Senator, you do not rest your case. We, as citizens of the United States and witnesses to the turmoil in this nation, do not accept your reasoning. Schools are shutting down across the country and students are staging walkouts on this very day to protest this blow to their rights to a fair and equal education. Affirmative action is still a subject of debate, as though structural inequalities are a myth. We are still waging an endless, futile and racist war on drugs and extending a school to prison pipeline that is tearing apart families and disenfranchising youth. Racial profiling is rife, with a Palestinian woman in a hijab being assaulted in a Boston suburb last week following the bombings and a Bangladeshi man being savagely beaten in the Bronx on account of the color of his skin. This country is ripped down the middle when it comes to gun control despite the serious shootings that have devastated Aurora (and remember Columbine?). Monsanto damages our food diversity and destroys our health but props up our elected officials with one hand and stifles small farms with the other. There are uprisings, there is dissent, there is police brutality. This country is in no lesser turmoil than Yemen, or Pakistan, just because the standards to which you hold our homelands in comparison to yours is whitewashed by your condescension and insensitivity to difference. Your bigotry precedes you, Senators -- your causation is fundamentally flawed.

Lindsey Graham was not the only one whose self-righteous “understanding” of the political and cultural landscapes of places like Pakistan and Yemen barred him from actually exploring the human cost of war. The majority of the hearing focused on analyzing the flaws of the current administration’s reliance on an overbearing executive authority and reforming the AUMF. We waited with bated breath for it to go beyond what we had hoped was only a self-obsessed, stagnant battle of the egos, but it did not. Questions prized legal, constitutional and operational aspects over ones actually pertaining to stories that Farea could have told, their commentaries punctuated with “We thank you for coming such a long way,” or “We thank you for that chilling perspective.” Nobody apologized for bombing his village, Wessab. They ascribed so profoundly and unwaveringly to forceful measures of “counterterrorism” as a given strategy with no room for questioning that they, in turn, tried to reject the validity of his personal experiences.


http://www.zcommunications.org/drone-wars-how-white-privilege-obscures-real-dialogue-by-noor-mir
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