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newthinking

Profile Information

Member since: Tue Feb 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
Number of posts: 2,907

About Me

Long time reader on DU and liberal/progressive. Up until recently I have not posted a lot. But I am very concerned about the situation in Ukraine and the people there. Liberals need to understand what is really happening, because Ukrainians are in a very dangerous situation and the geopolitical thing (US/Russia) is actually distracting from the realities that Ukrainians are facing on the ground there. So I have been posting a fair amount about that situation.

Journal Archives

Europe’s New Barbarians

Europe’s New Barbarians

by Conn Hallinan

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/31/europes-new-barbarians/

On one level, the recent financial agreement between the European Union (EU) and Greece makes no sense: not a single major economist thinks the $96 billion loan will allow Athens to repay its debts, or to get the economy moving anywhere but downwards. It is what former Greek Economic Minister Yanis Varoufakis called a “suicide” pact, with a strong emphasis on humiliating the leftwing Syriza government.

Why construct a pact that everyone knows will fail?

On the Left, the interpretation is that the agreement is a conscious act of vengeance by the “Troika”—the European Central Bank, the European Commission and the International Monetary Fund—to punish Greece for daring to challenge the austerity program that has devastated the economy and impoverished its people. The evidence for this explanation is certainly persuasive. The more the Greeks tried to negotiate a compromise with the EU, the worse the deal got. The final agreement was the most punitive of all. The message was clear: rattle the gates of Heaven at your own peril.

It was certainly a grim warning to other countries with strong anti-austerity movements, in particular Portugal, Spain and Ireland.

But austerity as an economic strategy is about more than just throwing a scare into countries that, exhausted by years of cutbacks and high unemployment, are thinking of changing course. It is also about laying the groundwork for the triumph of multinational corporate capitalism and undermining the social contract between labor and capital that has characterized much of Europe for the past two generations.

It is a new kind of barbarism, one that sacks countries with fine print.

Take Greece’s pharmacy law that the Troika has targeted for elimination in the name of “reform.” Current rules require that drug stores be owned by a pharmacist, who can’t own more than one establishment, that over the counter drugs can only be sold in drug stores, and that the price of medicines be capped. Similar laws exist in Spain, Germany, Portugal, France, Cyprus, Austria and Bulgaria, and were successfully defended before the European Court of Justice in 2009.


Continued:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/08/31/europes-new-barbarians/

Mikhail Gorbachev: US Military an 'Insurmountable Obstacle to a Nuclear-Free World'

DER SPIEGEL

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/gorbachev-calls-for-nuclear-free-world-on-hiroshima-day-a-1046900.html

Mikhail Gorbachev: US Military an 'Insurmountable Obstacle to a Nuclear-Free World'

Interview Conducted by Joachim Mohr and Matthias Schepp

In a SPIEGEL interview, former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev discusses morals and politics in the nuclear age, the crisis in Russian-American relations and his fear that an atomic weapon will some day be used.

EXCERPT:
SPIEGEL: Do you believe there is a danger of nuclear war?

Gorbachev: I'm very worried. The current state of things is scary. The nuclear powers still have thousands of nuclear warheads. Nuclear weapons are still stationed in Europe. The pace of reducing stockpiles has slowed considerably. We are witnessing the beginning of a new arms race. The militarization of space is a real danger. The danger of nuclear proliferation is greater than ever before. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has not entered into force, primarily because the Americans did not ratify it. This would have been extremely important.


SPIEGEL: Mikhail Sergeyevich, during your inaugural speech as general secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in March 1985, you warned of nuclear war and called for the "complete destruction of nuclear weapons and a permanent ban on them." Did you mean that seriously?

Gorbachev: The discussion about disarmament had already been going on for too long -- far too long. I wanted to finally see words followed by action because the arms race was not only continuing, it was growing ever more dangerous in terms of the number of weapons and their destructive capacity. There were tens of thousands of nuclear warheads on different delivery systems like aircraft, missiles and submarines.

SPIEGEL: Did you feel the Soviet Union was under threat during the 1980s by the nuclear weapons of NATO member states?

Gorbachev: The situation was that nuclear missiles were being stationed closer and closer to our adversary's borders. They were getting increasingly precise and they were also being aimed at decision-making centers. There were very concrete plans for the use of these weapons. Nuclear war had become conceivable. And even a technical error could have caused it to happen. At the same time, disarmament talks were not getting anywhere. In Geneva, diplomats pored over mountains of paper, drank wine, and even harder stuff, by the liter. And it was all for nothing.

SPIEGEL: At a meeting of the Warsaw Pact nations in 1986, you declared that the military doctrine of the Soviet Union was no longer to plan for the coming war, but rather to seek to prevent military confrontation with the West. What was the reason behind the shift in strategy?

Gorbachev: It was clear to me that relations with America and the West would be a lasting dead end without atomic disarmament, with mutual distrust and growing hostility. That is why nuclear disarmament was the highest priority for Soviet foreign policy.

SPIEGEL: Did you not also push disarmament forward because of the financial and economic troubles facing the Soviet Union in the 1980s?



Full Interview:

http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/gorbachev-calls-for-nuclear-free-world-on-hiroshima-day-a-1046900.html

US Propaganda on Crimea Misleading, But 'Understandably' So - French MP

US Propaganda on Crimea Misleading, But 'Understandably' So - French MP

According to French senator Yves Pozzo di Borgo, who visited Crimea together with a group of ten French legislators, US propaganda over Crimea is understandable even though it does not reflect the peninsula's realities.

French parliament member Jerome Lambert, who visited Crimea together with a group of ten French legislators, told Sputnik that the visit showed that US propaganda over Crimea is understandable even though it does not reflect realities on the peninsula.

"The US is trying to deploy in Europe and counteract Russia. The American point of view is understandable. And when there is an understanding of this, there are explanations to American propaganda, the propaganda of some US allies in Europe," Jerome Lambert said.


The French lawmakers, led by lower-house National Assembly Foreign Affairs Committee member Thierry Mariani, said they came to Crimea to get a real sense of what is really going on in the Black Sea peninsula. During the July 23-24 trip, the parliamentarians visited Crimea, where they met with government officials.


Full story:
http://sputniknews.com/analysis/20150727/1025105309.html

The Financial Attack on Greece: Where Do We Go From Here?

The Financial Attack on Greece: Where Do We Go From Here?

by MICHAEL HUDSON
CounterPunch

The major financial problem tearing economies apart over the past century has stemmed more from official inter-governmental debt than with private-sector debt. That is why the global economy today faces a similar breakdown to the Depression years of 1929-31, when it became apparent that the volume of official inter-government debts could not be paid. The Versailles Treaty had imposed impossibly high reparations demands on Germany, and the United States imposed equally destructive requirements on the Allies to use their reparations receipts to pay back World War I arms debts to the U.S. Government.

Legal procedures are well established to cope with corporate and personal bankruptcy. Courts write down personal and business debts either under “debtor in control” procedures or foreclosure, and creditors take a loss on loans that go bad. Personal bankruptcy permits individuals to make a fresh start with a Clean Slate.

It is much harder to write down debts owed to or guaranteed by governments. U.S. student loan debt cannot be written off, but remains a lingering burden to prevent graduates from earning enough take-home pay (after debt service and FICA Social Security tax withholding is taken out of their paychecks) to get married, start families and buy homes of their own. Only the banks get bailed out, now that they have become in effect the economy’s central planners.

Most of all, there is no legal framework for writing down debts owed to the IMF, the European Central Bank (ECB), or to European and American creditor governments. Since the 1960s entire nations have been subjected to austerity and economic shrinkage that makes it less and less possible to extricate themselves from debt. Governments are unforgiving, and the IMF and ECB act on behalf of banks and bondholders – and are ideologically captured by anti-labor, anti-government financial warriors.


Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/07/08/71809/

We restarted the Cold War: The real story about the NATO buildup that the New York Times won’t

We restarted the Cold War: The real story about the NATO buildup that the
New York Times won’t tell you


Our leaders and media push time-worn nonsense about American innocence, while taking aggressive moves.
Look out

Patrick L. Smith

Salon Magazine

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/25/we_restarted_the_cold_war_the_real_story_about_the_nato_buildup_that_the_new_york_times_wont_tell_you/


Vladimir Putin, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter (Credit: Reuters/RIA Novosti/Jonathan Ernst/Photo montage by Salon)

Have you picked up on the new trope du jour? We are all encouraged to bask in our innocence as we lament the advent of a new Cold War. The thought has been in the wind for more than a year, of course, at least among some of us. But we witness a significant turn, and I hope this same some of us are paying attention.

As of this week, leaders who know nothing about leading, thinkers who do not think and opinion-shaping poseurs such as Tom Friedman are confident enough in their case to sally forth with it: The Cold War returns, the Russians have restarted it and we must do the right thing—the right thing being to bring NATO troops and materiel up to Russia’s borders, pandering to the paranoia of the former Soviet satellites as if they alone have access to some truth not available to the rest of us.

James Stavridis, the former admiral and NATO commander, quoted in Wednesday’s New York Times: “I don’t think we’re in the Cold War again—yet. I can kind of see it from here.”

I can kind of see it, too, Admiral, and cannot be surprised: NATO has missed the Cold War since the Wall came down and the Pentagon’s creature in Europe commenced a quarter-century of wandering in search of useful enemies. At last, the very best of them is back.

The theme of new Russian aggression sounded over the past couple of months reeked of orchestration from the first, as suggested in this space when it was first sounded. It was too consistent in language, tone and implication, whether it came from the Pentagon, NATO or Times news reports—which are, naturally, based on Pentagon and NATO sources.

Anything counted: Russia’s military exercises within its own borders were aggressive. Russian air defense systems on its borders were aggressive. Russia’s military presence in Kaliningrad, Russian territory lying between Lithuania and Poland, was an aggressive threat.


Full story:

http://www.salon.com/2015/06/25/we_restarted_the_cold_war_the_real_story_about_the_nato_buildup_that_the_new_york_times_wont_tell_you/

Conan clip - Hillarious if not eerie reminder of the nature of modern "news"

Banned German satire "Die Anstalt".

Biting Satire about western government and media reporting from the German comedy program "Die Anstalt". The program was actually banned at one point (then brought back due to pressure of the German people).

Of course be sure that subtitles are on if you do not know German.

Round Table: Can the IMF save Ukraine?

From an excellent discussion/article at The Nation Magazine site"

http://www.thenation.com/article/209329/ukraine-crisis-heres-why-west-cant-save-it#

Salon: We are the propagandists: The real story about how The New York Times and the White House

We are the propagandists: The real story about how The New York Times and the White House has turned truth in the Ukraine on its head

A sophisticated game of manipulation is afoot over Russia: power, influence and money. U.S. hands are not clean


Vladimir Putin (Credit: AP/Mark Lennihan/Photo montage by Salon)

Excerpt:

Ever since the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, reality itself has come to seem up for grabs. Karl Rove, a diabolically competent political infighter but of no discernible intellectual weight, may have been prescient when he told us to forget our pedestrian notions of reality—real live reality. Empires create their own, he said, and we’re an empire now.

The Ukraine crisis reminds us that the pathology is not limited to the peculiar dreamers who made policy during the Bush II administration, whose idea of reality was idealist beyond all logic. It is a late-imperial phenomenon that extends across the board. “Unprecedented” is considered a dangerous word in journalism, but it may describe the Obama administration’s furious efforts to manufacture a Ukraine narrative and our media’s incessant reproduction of all its fallacies.

At this point it is only sensible to turn everything that is said or shown in our media upside down and consider it a second time. Who could want to live in a world this much like Orwell’s or Huxley’s—the one obliterating reality by destroying language, the other by making historical reference a transgression?

Language and history: As argued several times in this space, these are the weapons we are not supposed to have.

Ukraine now gives us two fearsome examples of what I mean by inverted reason.


Full Story:
http://www.salon.com/2015/06/03/we_are_the_propagandists_the_real_story_about_how_the_new_york_times_and_the_white_house_has_turned_truth_in_the_ukraine_on_its_head/

US Special Forces Are Operating in More Countries Than You Can Imagine


US Special Forces Are Operating in More Countries Than You Can Imagine
The Nation Magazine

What do you know about the special forces carrying out a secret war in more than half the nations on the planet?

Nick Turse


A US Special Forces trainer supervises a military assault drill in Sudan in 2013. (Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)

Excerpt:

Despite its massive scale and scope, this secret global war across much of the planet is unknown to most Americans. Unlike the December debacle in Yemen, the vast majority of special ops missions remain completely in the shadows, hidden from external oversight or press scrutiny. In fact, aside from modest amounts of information disclosed through highly-selective coverage by military media, official White House leaks, SEALs with something to sell and a few cherry-picked journalists reporting on cherry-picked opportunities, much of what America’s special operators do is never subjected to meaningful examination, which only increases the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.

The Golden Age

“The command is at its absolute zenith. And it is indeed a golden age for special operations.” Those were the words of Army General Joseph Votel III, a West Point graduate and Army Ranger, as he assumed command of SOCOM last August.

His rhetoric may have been high-flown, but it wasn’t hyperbole. Since September 11, 2001, US Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, including their numbers, their budget, their clout in Washington and their place in the country’s popular imagination. The command has, for example, more than doubled its personnel from about 33,000 in 2001 to nearly 70,000 today, including a jump of roughly 8,000 during the three-year tenure of recently retired SOCOM chief Admiral William McRaven.

Those numbers, impressive as they are, don’t give a full sense of the nature of the expansion and growing global reach of America’s most elite forces in these years. For that, a rundown of the acronym-ridden structure of the ever-expanding Special Operations Command is in order. The list may be mind-numbing, but there is no other way to fully grasp its scope.

The lion’s share of SOCOM’s troops are Rangers, Green Berets and other soldiers from the Army, followed by Air Force air commandos, SEALs, Special Warfare Combatant-Craft Crewmen and support personnel from the Navy, as well as a smaller contingent of Marines. But you only get a sense of the expansiveness of the command when you consider the full range of “sub-unified commands” that these special ops troops are divided among: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; SOCEUR, the European contingent; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; SOCSOUTH, which conducts missions in Central America, South America and the Caribbean; SOCCENT, the sub-unified command of US Central Command (CENTCOM) in the Middle East; SOCNORTH, which is devoted to “homeland defense”; and the globe-trotting Joint Special Operations Command or JSOC—a clandestine sub-command (formerly headed by McRaven and then Votel) made up of personnel from each service branch, including SEALs, Air Force special tactics airmen and the Army’s Delta Force, that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists.


Full story:
http://www.thenation.com/article/195409/us-special-forces-are-operating-more-countries-you-can-imagine
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