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Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All


Elites Will Make Gazans of Us All
Monday, 19 November 2012 09:17
By Chris Hedges, Truthdig | Op-Ed

Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world's elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet's largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud-walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from sub-Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are places where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare.

In the new global landscape, as in Israel's occupied territories and the United States' own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self-determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and "disappeared." The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine.

The impending collapse of the international economy, the assaults on the climate, the resulting droughts, flooding, precipitous decline in crop yields and rising food prices are creating a universe where power is divided between the narrow elites, who hold in their hands sophisticated instruments of death, and the enraged masses. The crises are fostering a class war that will dwarf anything imagined by Karl Marx. They are establishing a world where most will be hungry and live in fear, while a few will gorge themselves on delicacies in protected compounds. And more and more people will have to be sacrificed to keep this imbalance in place.


As the U.S. empire implodes, the harsher forms of violence employed on the outer reaches of empire are steadily migrating back to the homeland. At the same time, the internal systems of democratic governance have calcified. Centralized authority has devolved into the hands of an executive branch that slavishly serves global corporate interests. The press and the government’s judiciary and legislative branches have become toothless and decorative. The specter of terrorism, as in Israel, is used by the state to divert gargantuan expenditures to homeland security, the military and internal surveillance. Privacy is abolished. Dissent is treason. The military with its mantra of blind obedience and force characterizes the dark ethic of the wider culture. Beauty and truth are abolished. Culture is degraded into kitsch. The emotional and intellectual life of the citizenry is ravaged by spectacle, the tawdry and salacious, as well as by handfuls of painkillers and narcotics. Blind ambition, a lust for power and a grotesque personal vanity—exemplified by David Petraeus and his former mistress—are the engines of advancement. The concept of the common good is no longer part of the lexicon of power. This, as the novelist J.M. Coetzee writes, is “the black flower of civilization.” It is Rome under Diocletian. It is us. Empires, in the end, decay into despotic, murderous and corrupt regimes that finally consume themselves. And we, like Israel, are now coughing up blood.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Nov 20, 2012, 08:35 AM (0 replies)

Tomgram: Ellen Cantarow, "Little Revolution," Big Fracking Consequences


Tomgram: Ellen Cantarow, "Little Revolution," Big Fracking Consequences
by Tom Engelhardt | November 19, 2012 - 9:50am

To say the Central Intelligence Agency has had an uneven record over its 65 years would be kind. It found early “success” in plotting to overthrow the legitimate governments of Iran and Guatemala (even if it did fail to foresee the Soviet Union going nuclear in 1949). Then, it had a troubled adolescence. The Bay of Pigs. Vietnam. Laos. Spying on Americans. As the Agency matured, it managed to miss all signs of the oncoming Iranian revolution -- the natural endpoint of its glorious 1953 coup that brought the Shah to power -- and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. (It did, however, manage to arm America’s future enemies there, sowing the seeds of 9/11.) Then there was the Reagan era Iran-Contra affair, the failure to notice the fall of the Berlin Wall until it was on CNN, the WMD “intelligence” of the Iraqi leaker codenamed “Curveball,” the Iraq debacle that followed, and...

Well, you get the picture. Recently, however, things seemed to be looking up. The most popular general in a generation or two, a soldier-scholar-superman who could do no wrong, became its director. Just before that, the Agency helped take out America’s public enemy number one in a daring night raid about which Hollywood is soon to release a celebratory movie.

But just as things were looking up, the rock star general was caught with his pants down, resigning in disgrace after an extramarital affair became public. That titillating development overshadowed another more serious one: a cry for help about a looming threat from the Agency and its brethren in the American intelligence community (IC). In late October, the National Research Council was to issue a report commissioned by the CIA and the IC. Superstorm Sandy intervened and so it was only recently released, aptly titled “Climate and Social Stress: Implications for Security Analysis.” And what a dire picture it painted: security analysts should, it explained “expect climate surprises in the coming decade... and for them to become progressively more serious and more frequent thereafter, most likely at an accelerating rate... It is prudent to expect that over the course of a decade some climate events... will produce consequences that exceed the capacity of the affected societies or global systems to manage and that have global security implications serious enough to compel international response.”

Think failed states, water wars, forced mass migrations, famine, drought, and epidemics that will spill across borders, overwhelm national and international mitigation efforts, and leave the United States scrambling to provide disaster response, humanitarian relief, or being drawn into new conflicts. That’s bad news for everyone, including the intelligence community. Even worse, the 206-page report calls for more study, more analysis, and more action -- and yet none of that is likely to happen without the assent of Congress.

unhappycamper comment: So what has the CIA done since it's inception? -->
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Nov 20, 2012, 08:26 AM (0 replies)

All Fascism is Local


All Fascism is Local
by Dylan Brody | November 19, 2012 - 10:12am

The Reagan era produced a cultural belief that government is inherently bad and that big government is inherently worse than small government. This sounded like it made sense when it came out in warm, condescending grandfatherly tones from an apple-cheeked old actor-cum-politician but ultimately the fallacy becomes apparent.

The truth is, the whole point of creating a United States rather than a Loose Affiliation of Sovereign States was that there are things a centralized government can accomplish that several competing and feuding governments cannot. At the start, of course, it was about throwing off British rule and the life of colonial fealty to a distant monarch. Over time, our nation found other benefits to being a single country under a centralized government. We were able to build commercial and economic resources in ways that made us a world power. As a country we have been able to exploit innovation as it has occurred from the cotton gin to the steam engine to the electrical distribution system and space exploration. We have grown more inclusive in terms of our own governance and economic participation, abolishing slavery, accepting women as full citizens and disallowing discrimination based on race or religion. The seven day work week, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, a public education system, child labor laws, great, hard-won accomplishments, all of which came to be under the single banner that flies above all the state flags in our Union.

Our very mythology, reaching back into pre-American feudal society, revolves around the value of big, centralized government. When King Arthur came into power, according to the legend, England was a divided land, a place of tribal rivalries and small kingdoms vying for power and warring for land. Then, under Pendragon’s banner, all pledged fealty to the single king allowing Arthur to bring peace to the land. Granted, this was still a feudal vision of governance, but it was a start toward movement away from segmented government.


It is time to let go of this idea that without centralized government, every community would run itself peacefully. The fact is, we are all a half-inch away from devolving into fractious, regional mobs. We need centralized government. We need a government big enough to oversee a huge, powerful, diverse country. We need to learn the darkest, saddest, most important lesson history has to offer: All fascism is local.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Nov 20, 2012, 08:19 AM (1 replies)

Mr. President: How Do You Define Precise?


Mr. President: How Do You Define Precise?
Robert Greenwald
Posted: 11/18/2012 10:14 pm

I have interviewed many people over the years of doing documentaries. Currently in Pakistan filming with victims of drone attacks (ahead of the film, follow my trip at warcosts.com, Facebook and Twitter), I have never had a more haunting and harrowing experience than looking into the eyes of person after person, children and adults, and hearing them talk about their homes, villages and families destroyed by drone attacks. The pain is palpable, their fear still radiates. And even a question about the CIA sets off terror alerts in peoples' eyes.

"A) hallmark of our counterterrorism efforts has been our ability to be exceptionally precise, exceptionally surgical and exceptionally targeted."

- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, January 2012

A father, with his daughters and son, holds up a picture of his own mother, grandmother to his children. She was working in a field one day late in October of this year. As he was coming home from teaching school, he saw someone preparing a grave. It was to be the grave for his mother, killed by a U.S. drone strike. News reports say three militants were killed. Days later, the full story of her death came out. To be denied by the "official sources" who are never named, and therefore never held responsible, for constant distortions is gut-wrenching for him. He brought a picture of his mother's identity card. He held it up to me and the camera to show this gray-haired 65-year-old woman was no terrorist. He asked that the CIA and Americans come to his village and see the damage and who was hurt and killed.

A young boy tries to talk to me. Working through a translator, he can't remember my question from a few seconds ago. He talks of the stomach pain that makes it impossible for him to play cricket. He shows me his scars. His eyes have gone dead from the pain. He stills of the terrible shock from the drone hitting him and his friends. He starts to tear up when talking of his love of cricket and never being able to play again. The damage from drones does not end with the strike.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Nov 20, 2012, 07:54 AM (2 replies)

Report: 70 Percent Of Retired Generals Took Jobs With Defense Contractors Or Consultants


Report: 70 Percent Of Retired Generals Took Jobs With Defense Contractors Or Consultants
the Huffington Post
By Luke Johnson
Posted: 11/19/2012 5:11 pm EST Updated: 11/20/2012 1:11 am EST

A report released Monday by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington and the Brave New Foundation found that 70 percent of retired three-and-four star generals took jobs with defense contractors or consultants, a figure that has actually declined in recent years.

The report found that 76 out of 108 top generals took such jobs from 2009 to 2011, and a few continued to advise the Department of Defense while on the payroll of contractors. The report cited Gen. James Cartwright, who was elected to a paid position on Raytheon's board of directors while serving on the Defense Policy Board. Adm. Gary Roughead also served on the board while joining the board of Northrop Grumman, earning $115,000 per year.

Eighty percent of generals retiring from 2004 to 2008 took such jobs, according to a 2010 Boston Globe investigation.

The report didn't find a causal link between the revolving door and specific contracts. However, the report cites statistics showing 2011 spending at the five largest defense contractors -- Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman -- at $100 billion, with at least nine retiring top generals and admirals taking positions at the firms.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Nov 20, 2012, 07:50 AM (0 replies)

How About "The Money Pit"?


Virginia-class attack submarine to be named, but what to call it?
By Michael Welles Shapiro, [email protected] | 757-247-4744
8:39 p.m. EST, November 17, 2012

On Monday at 1 p.m. the Navy will give a name to its next Virginia-class attack submarine — until now referred to only by its hull number, SSN 791.

The boat is being built by Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics Electric Boat, and it is likely be named for a U.S. state, in keeping with the latest Navy naming conventions.

But what might it be called, and who decides?

Ships are named by Navy secretaries — in this case former Mississippi Gov. Ray Mabus — under the direction of the president and considering the recommendations of Congress, according to a December 2011 report prepared by the Navy.

unhappycamper comment: Hull SSN791 cost We the People somewhere from $5 ~ $7 billion dollars a pop.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 19, 2012, 09:40 AM (1 replies)

Torture Survivors Ask the UN: What’s the Point of Having Laws Against Torture if They Don’t Apply to


Torture Survivors Ask the UN: What’s the Point of Having Laws Against Torture if They Don’t Apply to the Powerful?
Sunday, 18 November 2012 13:05
By Katherine Gallagher, Center for Constitutional Rights | Report

One thing brings these four men together. Hassan bin Attash, Sami el-Hajj, Muhammed Khan Tumani and Murat Kurnaz—they are all survivors of the systematic torture program the Bush administration authorized and carried out in locations including Afghanistan, Iraq, Guantánamo, and numerous prisons and CIA “black sites” around the world. Between them, they have been beaten, hung from walls or ceilings, deprived of sleep, food and water, and subjected to freezing temperatures and other forms of torture and abuse while held in U.S. custody. None was charged with a crime, two were detained while still minors, and one of them remains at Guantánamo.


The country in question is Canada, visited last year by former U.S. President George W. Bush during a paid speaking engagement in Surrey, British Columbia. Bush’s visit drew hundreds in protest, calling for his arrest, and it also provided bin Attash, el-Hajj, Tumani and Kurnaz the opportunity to call on the Canadian government to uphold its legal obligation under the U.N. Convention against Torture, and conduct a criminal investigation against Bush while he was on Canadian soil.

To this end, the four men, submitted a 69-page draft indictment that CCR and CCIJ had presented to Canada’s attorney general ahead of Bush’s arrival in support of their private prosecution. The submission included thousands of pages of evidence against Bush consisting of extensive reports and investigations conducted by multiple U.S. agencies and the U.N. The evidence is overwhelming, not to mention the fact that Bush has admitted, even, boasted of his crimes, saying “damn right” when asked if it was permissible to waterboard a detainee – a recognized act of torture.


Thanks to the Obama administration’s call to look only “forward” – even in the face of torture that demands a proper reckoning – and a court system in the U.S. that has readily closed its doors to torture survivors, the crimes of the Bush era are effectively beyond the reach of justice in the U.S. But the immunity – the impunity – granted to these criminals here should not follow them into other countries, particularly those that are signatories to international laws and treaties against torture.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:34 AM (10 replies)

Nation-building doesn't begin at home


Nation-building doesn't begin at home
By Nick Turse
Nov 20, 2012


In the final days of the presidential campaign, President Obama repeatedly assured Americans that it was time to reap a peace dividend as America's wars wind down. Nation-building here at home should, he insisted, be put on the agenda: "What we can now do is free up some resources, to, for example, put Americans back to work, especially our veterans, rebuilding our roads, our bridges."

Setting aside just how slipshod or even downright disastrous Washington's last decade of nation-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan have been, the president's proposal to rebuild roads, upgrade bridges, and retrofit the country's electrical grid sounds eminently sensible. After all, the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) gives America's infrastructure a grade of "D". If, in the era of the $800 billion stimulus package, $1 billion at first sounds paltry, ask the mayors of Detroit, Belmar, New Jersey, or even New York City what that money would mean to their municipalities. America may need $2.2 trillion in repairs and maintenance according to ASCE, but $1 billion could radically change the fortunes of many a city.

Instead, that money is flowing into the oil-rich Middle East. Unknown to most Americans, thousands of State Department personnel, military advisors, and hired contractors remain at several large civilian bases in Iraq where nation-building projects are ongoing; hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars have been flowing into military construction projects in repressive Persian Gulf states like Bahrain and Qatar; and the Pentagon is expanding its construction program in Central Asia. All of this adds up to a multifaceted project that seems at odds with the president's rhetoric. (The White House did not respond to TomDispatch's repeated requests for comment.)


In 2012, with American cities in desperate need of reconstruction dollars, the US military out of Iraq, and the war in Afghanistan winding down, Mideast construction contracts ballooned to new Obama-era heights. Even as the president talks about lessening America's footprint abroad, the Pentagon is quietly digging in and expanding out. While countless municipalities affected by superstorm Sandy ask for reconstruction funds, taxpayer dollars dedicated to building transportation infrastructure and water treatment plants are headed halfway around the world.

Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:12 AM (1 replies)

Petraeus scandal puts four-star general lifestyle under scrutiny


Petraeus scandal puts four-star general lifestyle under scrutiny
By Rajiv Chandrasekaran and Greg Jaffe, Published: November 17


Of the many facts that have come to light in the scandal involving former CIA director David H. Petraeus, among the most curious was that during his days as a four-star general, he was once escorted by 28 police motorcycles as he traveled from his Central Command headquarters in Tampa to socialite Jill Kelley’s mansion. Although most of his trips did not involve a presidential-size convoy, the scandal has prompted new scrutiny of the imperial trappings that come with a senior general’s lifestyle.

The commanders who lead the nation’s military services and those who oversee troops around the world enjoy an array of perquisites befitting a billionaire, including executive jets, palatial homes, drivers, security guards and aides to carry their bags, press their uniforms and track their schedules in 10-minute increments. Their food is prepared by gourmet chefs. If they want music with their dinner parties, their staff can summon a string quartet or a choir.

The elite regional commanders who preside over large swaths of the planet don’t have to settle for Gulfstream V jets. They each have a C-40, the military equivalent of a Boeing 737, some of which are configured with beds.

Since Petraeus’s resignation, many have strained to understand how such a celebrated general could have behaved so badly. Some have speculated that an exhausting decade of war impaired his judgment. Others wondered if Petraeus was never the Boy Scout he appeared to be. But Gates, who still possesses a modest Kansan’s bemusement at Washington excess, has floated another theory.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Nov 19, 2012, 08:01 AM (2 replies)

CNO Greenert: 'We're Not Downsizing, We're Growing' - Especially In Pacific


CNO Greenert: 'We're Not Downsizing, We're Growing' - Especially In Pacific
By Sydney J. Freedberg Jr.
Published: November 16, 2012

WASHINGTON: Full speed ahead and damn the drawdown -- that's the confident note that the Navy's top admiral struck today.

"We're not downsizing, we're growing," declared Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the Chief of Naval Operations, at the National Press Club. "The ship count is going up and the number of people is going up."

Adding up new ships commissioned minus old ones retired, "we started the year at 285 ships and we've grown to 287 ships," Greenert said, and "we will grow the navy from roughly 287 today to 295 ships by 2020."

Caveat emptor, however: Those figures still fall well short of the 313 "battle force" ships the Navy has long said were necessary. (Adding to the ambiguity, what counts as a "battle force" ship has changed over the years). They also count on current budget plans coming to fruition -- including, for ships to be bought after 2017, the Navy's notoriously optimistic 30-year construction plan -- despite the political near-certainty that defense budgets will be cut further, either under sequestration, to which the Navy is especially vulnerable, or as part of a deal to avert it.

unhappycamper comment: Let's see what your toys cost:

USS Gerald R Ford - somewhere between $30~$40 billion dollars
Zumwalt-class destroyers - somewhere between $5~$7 billion dollars
Virginia-class submarines - somewhere between $5~$7 billion dollars
Landing Platform Docks - $1.8 billion dollars
Littoral Combat Ship - ~$500 million dollars with no mission modules

Too bad you didn't get the memo. And it's too bad you guys don't tell We The People what this crap costs upfront.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sat Nov 17, 2012, 11:37 AM (0 replies)
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