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Member since: Wed Mar 16, 2005, 10:12 AM
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Decision Time: Britain Must Choose Now If It Will Stay in Europe


For years Britain has blackmailed and made a fool out of the EU. The United Kingdom must finally make a choice: It can play by the rules or it can leave the European Union.

Decision Time: Britain Must Choose Now If It Will Stay in Europe
June 03, 2014 – 11:42 AM

Following last week's elections for the European Parliament, Europe finds itself at a historical turning point. It faces two questions. The first is that of how seriously the European Union is about its promise to become more democratic. The second is whether Britain can remain a member of the EU.

The extent to which those two questions are inextricably linked became clear last week when Prime Minister David Cameron refused to recognize the results of the European election and nominate winner Jean-Claude Juncker as president of the European Commission, the EU's executive. Most countries and leaders in the European Council, the powerful body representing EU leaders, had previously agreed to this procedure. It was a significant promise to the people of Europe -- they were to be provided with a greater say and they were supposed to be given a sign that their vote counts, that it has concrete effects. But Cameron threw a spanner in the works.

The crisis in European democracy is also the consequence of an unsettled relationship. Both the EU and Britain have perceived their relations as a burden in recent years. People in Brussels suffer under a London that is constantly thwarting European unity, that has slammed the brakes on progress and has doggedly prevented a deepening of relations.

The Tipping Point

In Britain, people suffer under the EU itself. It is a chronic suffering, one without any prospects of relief. During the May 25 European election, the anti-EU UKIP party garnered 27.5 percent of the vote, making it the strongest British party in the new European Parliament. And this, despite the fact that Britain's other political parties -- with the exception of the Liberal Democrats -- are about as EU-friendly as Germany's euroskeptic AFD.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 3, 2014, 05:35 AM (2 replies)

Danish Energy Agency: 100% Renewable Denmark By 2050 Is Possible


Danish Energy Agency: 100% Renewable Denmark By 2050 Is Possible
Originally published on Renew Economy.
By Sophie Vorrath

A new report by the Danish Energy Agency has found it would be technically possible to construct a secure and reliable national energy system based on 100 per cent renewables by 2050.

The report, Energy Scenarios for 2020, 2035 and 2050, compares the feasibility and cost of replacing coal, oil and natural gas with various different green energy scenarios, ranging from an electricity-based wind-power system to a fuel-based biomass system.

According to the report, all of the scenarios meet the vision of a fossil fuel independent energy system for Denmark by 2050, as well as the government’s goal of fossil fuel independent electricity and heating by 2035.

The costs of a fossil fuel independent energy supply in 2050 were calculated at around $A26.8-31.4 billion (DKK 136-159 billion) – an amount, says the report, that includes investments, operating costs, fuel (including distribution), CO2, costs of energy savings, propulsion systems for all types of transport, energy-producing facilities in electricity, district heating, process and individual heating.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jun 3, 2014, 05:14 AM (0 replies)

Not Forgotten: Street Art to Remember the Victims of the School of the Americas


Not Forgotten: Street Art to Remember the Victims of the School of the Americas
by Nick Alexandrov
Published on Saturday, May 31, 2014 by Common Dreams

Víctor Jarawas an internationally-acclaimed Chilean singer-songwriter, a theater director and activist. When General Augusto Pinochet took power on “the other 9/11” in 1973, his troops forced Jara and thousands of other political prisoners into Santiago’s Chile Stadium. After a group of soldiers recognized the artist, they tortured him in the arena basement, and then—before the crowd of detainees—cut off his fingers, mocking him as they demanded he perform something, perhaps a composition in the “New Song” genre he’d helped pioneer, and which Pinochet had banned. Witnesses recall that Jara sang “Venceremos”—“We Will Win”—before the guards dragged him away. He was shot 44 times.

Jara is one of the people School of the Americas Watch’s (SOAW) current poster campaign, developed with street artist César Maxit, commemorates. Others include El Salvador’s Archbishop Óscar Romero, who was celebrating Mass in a hospital chapel when assassins gunned him down in March 1980; Guatemalan Bishop Juan Gerardi, one of the main figures behind the crucial human rights report Guatemala: Nunca Más!, whose killers pummeled his face with a concrete slab, mutilating it beyond recognition; and Natalia Tuberquia Muñoz, who was only six in 2005 when massacred—along with three men, two women and another child—in the Colombian village of San José de Apartadó. What the musician, the bishops and the child have in common is that they are just four of the thousands of Latin Americans murdered by School of the Americas (SOA) graduates.

The SOA, located at Fort Benning, Georgia, is a combat training school for Latin American soldiers, 70,000 of whom have studied counterinsurgency techniques, sniper training, commando and psychological warfare there since the institution’s 1946 founding. Training manuals the school used for at least a decade recommended extortion, torture and execution as effective means of dealing with the state’s enemies. And the SOAW posters also feature eight of its alumni, including Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla, who died last year in jail, incarceration his punishment for committing crimes against humanity, including disappearances, torture, and the killing of 15,000-30,000 dissidents; Guatemalan military dictator Ríos Montt, whom a Guatemalan court last year found guilty of genocide against his country’s Ixil Maya; and Honduran General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, a key official spearheading the country’s 2009 coup, which even the military lawyer—himself an SOA alum—charged with giving the affair a veneer of legitimacy admittedwas “a crime.”

SOA complicity in the recent Honduran coup reveals the institution’s continuing relevance. Its 2001 name-change—it’s known now as the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC)—was merely cosmetic, and “there are no substantive changes besides the name,” one of its former instructors testified shortly after the rebranding. The school’s consistent aim, in the past and today, has been to facilitate Latin American militaries’ wars of repression against their own people. Describing Washington’s support for dictators like Videla and Montt as stemming from its “anti-Communism,” or as related to the U.S.-Soviet rivalry, misses the point. The term “Communist,” for example, was always incredibly elastic, used to refer to illiterate peasant farmers, church officials, university instructors, women in areas considered guerrilla territory—the label could be affixed to whoever was slated for execution. “The army is not killing guerrillas, despite what is reported,” a U.S. mercenary in 1980s El Salvador explained. “It is murdering the civilians who side with them. By terrorizing civilians the army is crushing the rebellion without the need to directly confront the guerrillas. Attacking civilians is the game plan.” The SOAW posters remembering some of the victims—bishops, young girls, a musician—help capture this reality, still very much a part of Washington’s Latin America policy, as ongoing U.S. support for the repressive Mexican, Colombianand Hondurangovernments makes clear.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jun 1, 2014, 07:20 AM (0 replies)

“Force Protection Alpha in Effect” — coming to a town near you


“Force Protection Alpha in Effect” — coming to a town near you
by Brian Terrell | May 31, 2014 - 10:54am

On April 15, 2014, when the story broke on the world that the Central Intelligence Agency’s covert program of assassination by remotely controlled drones is not distinct from the drone program of the U.S. Air Force as we had been told, I was on the “Sacred Peace Walk,” an event sponsored each spring by the Nevada Desert Experience, a 70 mile trek from Las Vegas to the Nevada Nuclear Test Site. Creech Air Force Base is along the way and we had already made plans for a protest there the next morning. While the CIA’s drone program is shrouded in secrecy, the Air Force supposedly has been using drones strictly as a weapon for waging war against combatants in recognized areas of conflict such as Afghanistan and formerly in Iraq, under a chain of command that is accountable to elected officials. Some who condemn the CIA’s assassinations by drones as illegal give a pass to or even laud the Air Force use of drones as a more restrained way to fight war.

This distinction has now been exposed as a lie. In a new documentary film released in Europe, “Drone,” former Air Force drone operators, veterans of a super-secret Squadron 17 at Creech Air Force Base in Nevada, reveal that “it’s always been the Air Force that flies” the CIA’s missions, “the CIA might be the customer, but the Air Force has always flown it.”

The fact that airmen at Creech are carrying out assassination missions and extrajudicial executions far from declared zones of conflict on orders from unknown and unnamable bureaucrats did not come as a surprise. Neither was the news a “game changer” in regard to the actions we had planned, although we quickly revised the indictment listing the war crimes committed at Creech that some of us would attempt to deliver to the base commander.

My arrest at Creech along with eight others on April 16 was a “return to the scene of the crime” (the Air Force’s crime, not mine) for me, as I was among the “Creech 14” in April 2009, the first nonviolent direct action against drones in the U.S. Creech was then one of only a few sites from which drones were controlled by the U.S. and by the United Kingdom, which has a wing of the Royal Air Force stationed there to fly their own drones. Since then the use of armed drones has been proliferating around the world and so has the number of drone operation bases in communities around the U.S. My work with Voices for Creative Nonviolence has brought me to the scenes of the crime in Afghanistan, the CIA headquarters at Langley, Virginia and at the gates of drone bases in New York, Iowa, Missouri and in England as well.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jun 1, 2014, 06:31 AM (0 replies)

The Construction of the Super Citizen


The Construction of the Super Citizen
By Rowan Wolf
OpEdNews Op Eds 5/31/2014 at 11:52:38

In what kind of a country is money considered free-speech? In what kind of a country is a legal construct considered a person? It is definitely not a country to which one would apply the term "democracy."

It is stunning to consider where we have come from democracy to plutocracy. The ruling by the Supreme Court on April 2, 2014 (McCutcheon v FEC) was one of the most egregious blows to democracy that our country has ever seen.

Certainly previous rulings, such as Citizens United v FEC, set up the current ruling. The Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon vs FEC that there could be no overall contribution limits that an individual could donate to campaigns. Whereas in Citizens United vs FEC, the court ruled that there could be no limits on how much an entity could give to any campaign. Those entities include organizations such as corporations, lobbies, and labor unions. Both of the Supreme Court decisions link back to a 1976 Supreme Court decision of Buckley v Valeo in which the court effectively ruled that money equals free-speech. This was a challenge to an amendment to the 1971 law that created the Federal Election Commission -The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which was aimed at controlling campaign funding.

The Un-Public Voices

When you combine the "money equals free-speech" decisions and the evisceration of all attempts to control unlimited funding of campaigns with the concepts of corporate personhood, a legal scenario emerges that is truly frightening. This is particularly true if one is operating within a democracy. Effectively what has been crafted is a complete handover of our political structure to those who have the most money to buy it. In other words, the United States has moved from a society which was a putative representative democracy (eligible citizens selecting representatives to be decision makers) to a plutocracy (rule by the rich). The republicans used to like to remind us that the U.S. is a "republic," thereby reinforcing the concept that it is not a free democracy. This becomes increasingly important as the contexts around who is part of the "public," and who gets represented shift. Certainly a significant part of the overall strategy of moving the United States away from a representative democracy with the broad citizen public as the voters, and into a different form of republic where the rich and corporations are the voting "public," is to redefine who gets to vote. This goes directly to the attack on broad enfranchisement of voters. This process of disenfranchisement is taking three primary paths:
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jun 1, 2014, 06:22 AM (1 replies)
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