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Jefferson23

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Gender: Male
Hometown: Connecticut
Home country: USA
Current location: nice place
Member since: Thu May 15, 2008, 04:37 PM
Number of posts: 23,111

Journal Archives

Noam Chomsky Talks US Militarism and Capitalism, at Home and Abroad

Tuesday, 09 December 2014 12:06 By Laura Flanders, Truthout | Interview

In Syria and Iraq, the "US sledgehammer" of war is having its usual effect says professor and author Noam Chomsky in his latest appearance on "The Laura Flanders Show":

"The US bombings are, in the usual and predictable way, eliciting anger from the civilians that were under attack. They don't like ISIS. They hate it, but they don't want to be attacked by American bombs."

Atrocities that US media hail as great victories; a US "war on terror" that's the best imaginable recruiting tool for terrorists. The "official" story of today's foreign policy is as upside-down as the mythology around the founding values of the United States itself.

From the policing of slavery, to the policing of Ferguson, Chomsky has a knack for seeing through the propaganda to turn reality back right-side up. And he asks the critical questions: like, why does it take him 90 minutes longer today to travel by train from Boston to New York than it did in 1970? What else could have been done with the money that was spent on crooked banks?

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/27901-noam-chomsky-talks-us-militarism-and-capitalism-at-home-and-abroad

Building a British naval base in Bahrain is a 'symbolic choice' – for no clear reason

World View: The authoritarian kingdom where doctors are tortured is a strange place for this £15m investment

December 7, 2014

The British decision to spend £15m establishing a naval base at Mina Salman Port in Bahrain is being presented as a "symbolic" deal to increase stability in the region, guard against unnamed threats and strengthen Britain's partnership with the states of the Gulf.

The agreement will identify Britain as an old colonial power strongly supporting the Sunni monarchy in Bahrain that mercilessly crushed demands for democracy and civil rights from the island's Shia majority during the Arab Spring in 2011. Even by the standards of the time, repression was excessive. Shia mosques and holy places were bulldozed. Doctors at the main hospital in Bahrain that treated injured protesters were tortured by being forced to stand without sleep for days on end. Other prisoners were told that unless they sang the praises of the king their interrogators would urinate into their mouths.

At the heart of the crisis convulsing this part of the Middle East is a struggle between Sunni and Shia, and Britain has openly taken the side of the former. It may not necessarily be a good long-term investment. The total population of states bordering on the Gulf is about 145 million of whom at least 110 million are Shia. It is a mistake to think that the Shia in the rest of the Middle East do not notice or care what happens to their co-religionists in Bahrain. The Islamic State (Isis) fighters have become the shock troops of the Sunni communities in Iraq and Syria but their extremism and international isolation may lead to a defeat for the Sunni in both countries.

There is no question about Bahrain's toxic human rights record. An independent inquiry in 2011 catalogued abuses and, despite promises of reform, torture and mistreatment continue. Last year even the United States State Department, normally cautious when it comes to highlighting the failings of the Sunni monarchies of the Gulf, said that the abuses in Bahrain included "citizens' inability to change their government peacefully; arrest and detention of protesters on vague charges, in some cases leading to their torture in detention; and lack of due process in trials of political and human rights."

in full: http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/building-a-british-naval-base-in-bahrain-is-a-symbolic-choice--for-no-clear-reason-9908344.html

House Approves Tax-Free Disability Savings Accounts



By Michelle Diament

December 4, 2014

The U.S. House of Representatives has voted to approve a bill that would establish a new way for people with disabilities to save money without risking their government benefits.

The Achieving a Better Life Experience, or ABLE, Act passed by a vote of 404 to 17 on Wednesday. The measure will now move to the Senate.

Under current rules, many individuals with disabilities can have no more than $2,000 in assets in order to qualify for needed government benefits. The ABLE Act would dramatically alter that scenario, allowing people with disabilities to establish special accounts at any financial institution where they could save up to $14,000 annually under current gift-tax limitations.

The accounts could accrue $100,000 without jeopardizing eligibility for Social Security and other government programs. Meanwhile, the legislation ensures that those with disabilities can retain Medicaid coverage no matter their ABLE account balance.

http://www.disabilityscoop.com/2014/12/04/house-approves-accounts/19891/

Egypt sentences 188 Muslim Brotherhood supporters to death

More than 180 supporters of the banned Muslim Brotherhood have been sentenced to death in Egypt over a 2013 attack on a police station near Cairo.

The attack took place on the same day as Egyptian security forces broke up protest camps set up by Brotherhood supporters, leaving hundreds dead.

Egypt has been fiercely criticised for its crackdown on Islamist supporters of ousted President Mohammed Morsi.

Hundreds of death sentences have been passed but none have been carried out.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30302258

Iraq’s 50,000 ‘ghost soldiers’ analysis: This is further proof of army corruption

December 1, 2014

The Iraqi army includes 50,000 “ghost soldiers” who do not exist, but their officers receive their salaries fraudulently according to the Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi. “The Prime Minister revealed the existence of 50,000 fictitious names,” said a statement after a thorough headcount during the latest salary payments.

The Iraqi army has long been notorious for being wholly corrupt with officers invariably paying for their jobs in order to make money either through drawing the salaries of non-existent soldiers or through various other scams. One Iraqi politician told The Independent a year ago that Iraqi officers “are not soldiers, they are investors”. In the years before the defeat of the army in Mosul in June by a much smaller force from Isis, Iraqi units never conducted training exercises. At the time of Isis’s Mosul offensive, government forces in Mosul were meant to total 60,000 soldiers and federal police but the real figure was probably closer to 20,000.

“Ghost” soldiers may never have existed and just be fictitious names added to the roster, or they may once have existed but been killed or deserted without this being officially noted. In either case, the officer in a unit would keep receiving the salary, though he would have to share it with his superiors. Another scam is for soldiers to kick back part of their salary to their officer in return for staying at home or holding another job but never going near a barracks. Mr Abadi’s figure of 50,000 is probably only a modest estimate of the numbers of Iraqi soldiers who play no military role.

Asked why the Iraqi army had disintegrated at Mosul, a retired four-star general said the explanation was “corruption, corruption, corruption”. He said that this had become institutionalised when the US was building a new Iraqi army after dissolving the old one in 2003. The Pentagon insisted that supplies of food and other necessities be outsourced to private companies. The general said that as a result the Iraqi government might be paying for a battalion with a nominal strength of 600 men, but which in fact had only 200 soldiers. Profits would be shared between officers and commercial companies supposedly supplying the army.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/iraqs-50000-ghost-soldiersanalysis-this-is-further-proof-of-army-corruption-9896611.html

Mubarak verdict fuels protests, mockery in Egypt



By Amr Dalsh
Sun Nov 30, 2014 5:39pm EST

CAIRO (Reuters)- - Protests erupted at universities across Egypt on Sunday, condemning a court decision to drop criminal charges against Hosni Mubarak, the president whose ouster in the 2011 uprising raised hopes of a new era of political openness.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered at Cairo University, waving pictures of Mubarak behind bars and demanding the "fall of the regime", the rallying cry of the Arab Spring uprisings that shook governments from Tunisia to the Gulf in 2011.

Police stood ready at the gates to bar students that sought to take their demonstration into the streets.

An Egyptian court on Saturday dropped its case against Mubarak over the killing of protesters in the 2011 uprising that ended his 30-year rule.

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/11/30/us-egypt-mubarak-protests-idUSKCN0JE0ID20141130?feedType=RSS&feedName=topNews

NATIONAL PARKS IN EAST JERUSALEM ( B'Tselem )

Visit the parks to see how East Jerusalem is being made Jewish and the lives of its Palestinian residents made miserable.

Since the annexation of East Jerusalem to Israel, Israeli governments have established five national parks on annexed land. Another three parks are currently in preliminary planning. The parks border populated Palestinian neighborhoods, and in some cases encroach on the neighborhoods proper. No construction is allowed in national parks. Therefore, declaring areas as national parks serves as a means of restricting construction and development of Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem. The establishment of the parks promotes an agenda of ensuring a Jewish majority in Jerusalem, creating a contiguous bloc of lands with no Palestinian population, and expanding the Jewish presence in East Jerusalem.


Start The Tour

Tzurim Valley National Park
One of a kind! A park boasting absolutely no natural or archeological attractions.
Bring a deck of cards, there’s nothing to see or do.


in full: http://www.btselem.org/sites/default/files2/gan_czavim/en.html


**The Court concludes that all these territories (including East Jerusalem) remain occupied territories and that
Israel has continued to have the status of occupying Power.
http://www.icj-cij.org/docket/files/131/1677.pdf

How Public Power Can Defeat Plutocrats

November 21, 2014

Lawrence Lessig and Zephyr Teachout return to talk about the corrupting influence of money in politics, and their push to change the system.

Transcript:

BILL MOYERS: Welcome. Like many of you, I’ve been watching Congress since the midterm elections, and what I’ve seen has me thinking of King Louis XVI of France. His Majesty was a good friend of the American Revolution but when he gave Benjamin Franklin a gold snuff box with the monarch’s portrait surrounded with diamonds, some of our founding fathers objected. They worried that the gift would corrupt his judgment and unduly bias Franklin in France’s favor.

Ever since, we Americans have been debating the meaning of corruption. Today, gifts to politicians that were once called graft or bribes are called contributions. And the Supreme Court has ruled that powerful corporations and rich individuals can give just about anything they want to politicians who do their bidding, and it’s not considered corruption.

The watchdog Sunlight Foundation reports that from 2007 to 2012, two hundred corporations spent almost $6 billion for lobbying and campaign contributions, and received more than $4 trillion -- that's $4 trillion -- in government contracts and other forms of assistance. Now, that’s why K Street in Washington is the road to paradise for lobbyists. But it’s a road that runs in both directions.

snip* Larry Lessig teaches at Harvard Law School and made his reputation as an expert on Internet law. He started the Mayday super PAC, raising millions for congressional candidates who vowed to fight the corrupting influence of money in politics. All but two of them lost – but the fight continues. Welcome back.

LAWRENCE LESSIG: Thank you.

ZEPHYR TEACHOUT: Thanks for having us.

BILL MOYERS: Chief Justice John Roberts takes a different view of corruption from the two of you. He says, quote, "Any regulation must instead target what we have called ‘quid pro quo’ corruption or its appearance. the notion of a direct exchange of an official act for money.”

remainder in full: http://billmoyers.com/episode/full-show-public-power-can-defeat-plutocrats/

'Cruel and unusual' - Leaked prison letter from hunger striker Mohamed Soltan

Mohamed Soltan

Sunday, 16 November 2014


File photo of US national, Mohamed Soltan

US citizen Mohamed Soltan has been in an Egyptian jail for over a year, and on hunger strike for nearly all of that time. He has smuggled a letter out of prison to mark his 27th birthday today (November 16th). There is also another hearing in his trial today, and the judge in charge of the case is the same one who sentenced the Aljazeera journalists to lengthy jail terms, as well presiding over the trial of known activists Ahmed Douma and Alaa Abdelfatah. The text of Soltan's letter is as follows:

For the first time in the pre-season, I came late to JV basketball practice. I had made the team at 336 pounds, during my junior year in high school, even though all of my classmates were playing varsity I was just happy to make the team. That day, Coach Slappy looked at me as I entered the gym, and without giving me the chance to explain my tardiness he put his index finger up and circled it in the air, directing me to run laps. I was OK with the punishment for the tardiness, but what I wasn't OK with was his insistence on the "finger-circling" when I asked and continued asking as I ran, "How many laps coach?"

That day I felt that I had received the worst punishment. I could have ran 100 laps had the coach let me know how many laps I needed to run, but the psychological punishment was, for me, nothing short of torture. That day I ran 29 laps around the basketball court, but every lap felt like it would be the last one. By the time Coach Slappy remembered to tell me to stop I was mentally and physically drained.

I remember this story as my 27th birthday, my second in prison, approaches and as I finish 290 days on hunger strike. One hundred and fifty pounds lighter and exactly 10 years later, I am sitting in an underground Egyptian dungeon reflecting on that basketball season and its relevance to my current circumstances. I have lost the sense of hunger; I lose consciousness often; I wake up to bruises and a bloody mouth almost daily; and physical pain has become the norm, with my body numb as it eats away at itself. None of that is as painful as the psychological torture that the ambiguity of my detention (which is under an indefinite temporary holding law) is imposing. This is a dark and gloomy nightmare; I have no clue about how it descended on me so suddenly; I don't know how long it will last; nor do I know how and when it will end. Although it is a much more extreme feeling than that of Coach Slappy's punishment, it is nonetheless similar; mental and physical depletion. I do not know how long until this "punishment" ends, so every day passes like it is the last, slow and excruciating.

remainder: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/articles/africa/15299-cruel-and-unusual

Israeli harassment curtails access to education for Hebron girls

By Alex Shams and Salam Muharam

The first part in a series about the lives of Palestinian women affected by the Jewish settlements of Hebron's Old City.

Having grown up in Hebron's Old City, Aisha was used to dealing with Israeli soldiers and their questions on a daily basis.

When she was a little girl the checkpoints began multiplying as the Jewish settlements expanded throughout the city, and by the time she reached middle school she had to pass through a checkpoint to go anywhere more than a few meters up the road.

The staring, the yelling, and the pushing were a daily occurrence, and she says that more than a few times young Jewish settlers who had taken over homes in the area smacked her as she passed while soldiers watched impassively. For a girl growing up in Hebron's Old City, these little humiliations were -- and are -- the stuff of life.

http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=739872


Shuhada Street has been closed to Palestinian traffic since 1994, leading to the
closure of scores of local businesses and constant military presence.
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