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Gender: Male
Hometown: Lidingö
Home country: Sweden
Member since: Mon Dec 27, 2010, 07:09 PM
Number of posts: 3,751

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American Thanatos: The Variables of Violence


Can anything be said in the wake of the most recent murderous eruption, this time in Aurora, Colorado? On one hand, many people jump forward quickly with new laments, calls for greater gun control, appeals against such control, and frankly, everything we’ve heard so many times before. Others, on the other hand, are offended by the very idea that we would try to answer the question of why such violence occurs. To suggest that explanations might exist, seems, for them, a move toward affixing blame somewhere close to their own values, interests, and lifestyles. They are people who tell us that murderers alone are to blame for murders. Period. This view is a preemptive strike against calls for, and criteria of, accountability and moral maturity.

I believe there are six variables that exist in unique combination in the United States that collectively make gun violence the national disgrace it has become. These variables are closely related, but distinct. Together, they form a deadly cocktail of death and grief. We have a freakishly high rate of ownership (still more guns than people) compared to all societies not engaged in explicit sub-state war. Guns are also bizarrely easy to acquire in the U.S. The majority of Americans want better (and yes, this means “more”) gun control. NRA “leaders,” the radical zealots and rhetoricians who pull us deeper into a culture of death, are out of step with the country. The bumper sticker reads, of course, “Guns don’t kill people. People kill people.” But the other one reads with equal truth and clarity, “As a matter of fact, guns do kill people.” I don’t know about you, but I would rather have a psychopath coming at me with a bat or knife, than a gun. I’d even prefer facing a sidearm with a small clip instead of a military assault weapon. This commonsense may be coming more common, the NRA-inflicted radicals notwithstanding.

Second, we not only live in a society with many guns and easy access to them; but we are embedded in a culture that tells us—daily—that guns have a glorious history of serving as problem-solving tools, and that violence is often needed to solve our problems. The United States is infamous for its violence. We have prosecuted, joined, and promoted many wars in our short history, we lead the world in arms manufacture and trade, we spend nearly as much on our military than does the rest of the world combined, and we have approximately 1,000 military installations outside the U.S. around the globe. It is embedded into our collective consciousness that guns solve problems, and that we Americans are a pragmatic, problem solving, “can do!” people.

Third, and much related to the variable above, we valorize violence. Violence not only solves problems, so our teachers, textbooks, memorials, and politicians tells us—we engage in particular forms of glorification of violence (it is one thing to use a tool, it is another to glory in its use). I invoke the Hebrew and biblical concept of “glory” which at its core means “presence.” We make violence present to ourselves in various ways, where that presence is not one of lament, necessity, risk, or regret; but is characterized by celebration, even fun. Much has been written about this, little unpacking of the point is necessary. Video games. Movies. Television. Stories of heroism and sacrifice in our national myths. Chris Hedges has reminded us powerfully that War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. http://tinyurl.com/yenxl65 Political theorists and actors have known since antiquity that a powerful way to forge unity in a tribe or society is to identify, and monger fear about, a common enemy. This simply makes us feel better about ourselves. And back to video games, it is no surprise that the young people sitting behind consoles in the U.S. with joysticks in their hands, guiding drones in their murderous missions, are operating equipment designed to look and feel just like the toys they grew up playing. Blurring the line between virtually killing people and actually killing them is just one way our taxes have gone to work.


Poland's Solidarity Union Rebukes Romney Upon Former Leader's Endorsement

Source: Huffington Post

Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney may have earned an apparent endorsement from former Polish president Lech Walesa on Monday, but no such kind words were coming from Poland's storied Solidarnosc (Solidarity) trade union, which Walesa and others founded in 1980.

Upon Romney's visit to the Gdansk shipyards, the site of historic Polish worker strikes during the Soviet era, Solidarnosc issued a press release saying it is "in no way involved" in the Romney meeting with Walesa and had no "initiative" to invite the American candidate to Poland.

The union expressed dismay at Romney's anti-union stances in the U.S., saying it would stand alongside the AFL-CIO, the American labor federation that has endorsed Obama and remains highly critical of Romney.

"Regretfully, we have learned from our friends in the American trade union central AFL-CIO representing over 12 million workers about Mitt Romney's support for the attacks against trade unions and labor rights," Andrzej Adamczyk, the head of the union's international department, wrote. "In this respect, I wish to express... our solidarity with American workers and trade unions. [Solidarity] will always support the AFL-CIO in their struggle for the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively."

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/07/30/polands-solidarity-romney-visit_n_1720054.html?utm_hp_ref=elections-2012

New York Times: As Syrian War Drags On, Jihadists Take Bigger Role


As the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad’s government grinds on with no resolution in sight, Syrians involved in the armed struggle say it is becoming more radicalized: homegrown Muslim jihadists, as well as small groups of fighters from Al Qaeda, are taking a more prominent role and demanding a say in running the resistance.

The past few months have witnessed the emergence of larger, more organized and better armed Syrian militant organizations pushing an agenda based on jihad, the concept that they have a divine mandate to fight. Even less-zealous resistance groups are adopting a pronounced Islamic aura because it attracts more financing.

Idlib Province, the northern Syrian region where resistance fighters control the most territory, is the prime example. In one case there, after jihadists fighting under the black banner of the Prophet Muhammad staged significant attacks against Syrian government targets, the commander of one local rebel military council recently invited them to join. “They are everywhere in Idlib,” said a lean and sunburned commander with the Free Syrian Army council in Saraqib, a strategic town on the main highway southwest from Aleppo. “They are becoming stronger, so we didn’t want any hostility or tension in our area.”

Tension came anyway. The groups demanded to raise the prophet’s banner — solid black with “There is no god but God” written in flowing white Arabic calligraphy — during the weekly Friday demonstration. Saraqib prides itself in its newly democratic ways, electing a new town council roughly every two months, and residents put it to a vote — the answer was no. The jihadi fighters raised the flag anyway, until a formal compromise allowed for a 20-minute display.



Further, extensive backgrounding on the Syrian conflict, including historical antecedents (both of a recent nature and also further back from the current event horizon) :


The Phony 'War on Cops' & the Real War on Us: Cops try to defend their hyper-militarization


Since early 2011 the mainstream press has expressed moral panic over an alleged “War on Cops.” That panic was sparked by a rash of police killings in January 2011. According to a March Christian Science Monitor article, 24 cops were killed on the job compared to only 15 during the same period in 2010. Speculation as to cause included rising anti-government sentiment, or disrespect for law enforcement. The panic itself apparently fostered a “shoot first” mentality among police, reflected in a record number of so-called “justifiable homicides.” US Attorney General Eric Holder called this state of affairs — the spike in cop deaths, not the over-reaction — unacceptable, promising federal action.

Like most moral panics used to justify government “just doing something,” this one turned out to be — to say the least — quite overblown. Smith County, Texas, Sheriff J.B. Smith was quoted as saying: “I think it’s a hundred times more likely today that an officer will be assaulted compared to twenty, thirty years ago. It has become one of the most hazardous jobs in the United States, undoubtedly — in the top five.” Well, not quite (that’s a polite, family-friendly substitute for “bull—-!”). In fact on-the-job police deaths had declined by almost half over the previous twenty years, at the same time as the number of police nearly doubled. The short-term upward fluctuation in police deaths was an anomaly, albeit a very visible one against the background of such low levels. That’s why statisticians look for large sample sizes.

Libertarian columnist Radley Balko reported in April of this year that police officer deaths were down 48% from last year — the lowest in sixty years. Death rates for cops is actually lower than that of the general population in 36 of America’s 74 largest cities. The job-related death rate for police is below that of several other occupations, including firefighter, coal miner and sanitation worker (from the carbon monoxide fumes they breathe walking behind garbage trucks). But if violence AGAINST cops hasn’t increased, violence BY cops certainly has. Complaints of police brutality rose 25% in the seven-year period after 9/11, compared to the previous seven-year period. Despite an overall decline in crime rates and danger of on-the-job injury, police have developed an intensified sense of entitlement to minimize risk to themselves by any available means — no matter how unreasonable.

Nearly every day Balko, who specializes in stories of police abuse, cites accounts of police shooting non-hostile dogs and even unarmed citizens. Grounds? “The officer felt threatened.” Every day another story of a person tased or beaten to death — while in an epileptic seizure or diabetic coma — for “resisting arrest.” Police do whatever they feel necessary to avoid “feeling threatened” under any circumstances, and their political masters back them up. With crime and on-the-job police deaths their lowest rates in decades, cops defend their hyper-militarization, aggressiveness and SS-chic aesthetic with siege mentality rhetoric about an “unprecedented danger” to police. Frankly, they sound like Lt. Calley psyching himself up to massacre the inhabitants of My Lai.


Tom Friedman's status among American elites is the key for understanding the US imperial decline


In The New York Times today, Tom Friedman argues that the only thing that could save Syria is if that country is lucky enough to have the U.S. do to it what the U.S. did to Iraq, and in the process, says this:

And, for me, the lesson of Iraq is quite simple: You can’t go from Saddam to Switzerland without getting stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless you have a well-armed external midwife, whom everyone on the ground both fears and trusts to manage the transition. In Iraq, that was America.

Just on the level of basic cogency, this makes absolutely no sense. Friedman says that a country will be “stuck in Hobbes — a war of all against all — unless” it has America there. But Iraq did have America there, and — as Friedman himself points out just a few paragraphs later — it got “stuck in Hobbes,” precisely because America was there (“Because of both U.S. incompetence and the nature of Iraq, this U.S. intervention triggered a civil war in which all the parties in Iraq — Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds — tested the new balance of power, inflicting enormous casualties on each other and leading, tragically, to ethnic cleansing that rearranged the country into more homogeneous blocks of Sunnis, Shiites and Kurds”). He literally negates his own principal claim — a country that overthrows its dictator can only avoid Hobbes if it has a U.S.-like force occupying and controlling it — in the very same column in which he advances it.


Friedman recently visited Australia and New Zealand to promote his latest book and, needless to say, generously gifted the citizens of those nations with his wisdom and insights about their countries. One New Zealand journalist reacted, not very gratefully, here. Friedman was interviewed for almost an hour by one of that country’s best known radio talk show hosts, Kim Hill, and her relentlessly adversarial, critical, deeply informed and at times subtly contemptuous questioning — which can be heard on the player below or downloaded here — stands in stark contrast to how he is routinely treated by the worshipful American media:


Here’s “The sociopathy of Thomas L. Friedman: A compendium”; it’s far from comprehensive, though it is quite illustrative. Friedman expert Matt Taibbi - this remains the all-time Supreme Gold Standard for eviscerating not only Tom Friedman, but anyone - pronounces today’s column “the single most incoherent thing he has ever written.”


46.5 Million Americans, Record 22.3 Million US Households, On Foodstamps; 8,753,935 On Disability


America's transition into a welfare state continues, as May saw a new all time high number of American households, 22.3 million to be exact, enter technical poverty and collect foodstamps. At the individual level, 46.5 million Americans lived off foodstamps, a 222,157 increase in the month, or nearly three times the number of people who found jobs in June according to the BLS. Next month this too will be a record, as it is currently just 17,367 below the previous all time high set in December of 2011. The good news, and we use the term loosely, is that the average benefit per household rose from all time lows of $275.82 to $276.76. Surely, the bottom is in and just like housing, there is on blue skies ahead.




Inside Karl Rove's Secret Effort to Defeat Obama's Re-Election With Billionaire Donors' Help

DemocracyNow.org - Karl Rove, the man once known as "Bush's Brain," has helped found two groups that plan to raise hundreds of millions of dollars for television, radio and online attack ads to defeat President Obama and restore Republican control of Washington this November. The groups -- American Crossroads, whose donors are public, and Crossroads GPS, a so-called "social welfare" organization whose donors are anonymous -- operate out of the same offices, share many of the same staff, and pay millions to air similar attack ads. We're joined by Paul Barrett, assistant managing editor at Bloomberg Businessweek about his article published today called, "Karl Rove: He's Back, Big Time."

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Crime of the century with Max Kesier and Gerald Celente

In this edition of the show Max interviews Gerald Celente from trendsresearch.com. He talks about the bankers and governments manipulation of the global interest rates. Gerald Celente is an American trend forecaster, publisher of the Trends Journal, business consultant and author who makes predictions about the global financial markets and other events of historical importance.

Saudis 'mull buying nukes from Pakistan' (UPI)


King Abdallah of Saudi Arabia met Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Jeddah a few days ago as Riyadh began sending its Special Forces to Pakistan for training. The Islamic countries, both dominated by the mainstream Sunni sect, have long had a particularly close relationship and these events heightened speculation Riyadh is trying to strike a secret deal with Islamabad to acquire nuclear weapons to counter Iran.

Abdallah's surprise July 19 appointment of Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the kingdom's ambassador in Washington in 1983-2005 and a veteran of its usually clandestine security policy, as his new intelligence chief may be part of murky mosaic linking Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Bandar played a key role in the clandestine arming of by the United States and Saudi Arabia, via Pakistan's intelligence service, of the Afghan mujahedin during the 1969-79 Soviet invasion.

Bandar's appointment as the head of Saudi Arabia's General Intelligence Presidency, its foreign intelligence service, was one of several critical security related command changes made in recent days. These took place as the kingdom, the world's largest oil exporter, faces a swarm of regional challenges, the most prominent of which is nuclear wannabe Iran .

As the confrontation between the United States and Iran over Tehran nuclear program builds up in the Persian Gulf, Riyadh is increasingly looking eastward to longtime ally Pakistan, the only nuclear Muslim power, for support. "As Iran becomes more dangerous and the United States becomes more reluctant to engage in military missions overseas, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia may find that renewed military and nuclear cooperation is the best way to secure their interests," observed Christopher Clary and Mara E. Karlin, former U.S. Defense Department policy advisers on South Asia and the Middle East.



Bandar bin Bush? Really? Again?

Also, nice undocumented war fervor smear: "nuclear wannabe Iran"

CIA, Mossad Agree That Iran is Not Pursuing Nuclear Weapons

CONFIRMED:Turkey Running Proxy-Invasion of Syria + In Syria, Obama Fights Bush's Wars

Admits hosting foreign fighters seeking to enter Syria, trucks in weapons to rearm terrorist groups.


The Washington Post has just published an article with the very misleading titled, "Turkey a hub for Syria revolution as illegal border crossing points abound," in which it describes "Salafi Muslims," who have "come to offer help from the countries of the Persian Gulf region" arming and joining the so-called "Free Syrian Army." The article also claims "weapons are ferried into Syria, delivered by Turkish military trucks and picked up by fighters on the other side in the dead of night." A more apt title would be, "Turkey hosts invading Saudi and Qatari mercenary army."

This confirms earlier reports featured in the New York Times and the Washington Post, that not only are the Gulf States of Saudi Arabia and Qatar funding and arming militants via Turkey, but that the US is coordinating the logistical aspects of the operation as well. Likewise, CNN has attempted to spin concessions made by its own Ivan Watson, traveling with sectarian extremists into Syria, where it was admitted:

Meanwhile, residents of the village where the Syrian Falcons were headquartered said there were fighters of several North African nationalities also serving with the brigade's ranks. A volunteer Libyan fighter has also told CNN he intends to travel from Turkey to Syria within days to add a "platoon" of Libyan fighters to armed movement.

CNN has now added:

On Wednesday, CNN’s crew met a Libyan fighter who had crossed into Syria from Turkey with four other Libyans. The fighter wore full camouflage and was carrying a Kalashnikov rifle. He said more Libyan fighters were on the way. The foreign fighters, some of them are clearly drawn because they see this as … a jihad. So this is a magnet for jihadists who see this as a fight for Sunni Muslims.


Photo: The face of Libya's "revolution" was literally Al Qaeda. Abdul Hakim Belhaj, commander of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) listed by the US State Department as a "Foreign Terrorists Organization," was armed and backed by NATO (including the US) in his efforts to topple the government of Libya. Belhaj more recently pledged (NATO) weapons, cash, and Libyan militants to the "Free Syrian Army."



In Syria, Obama Fights Bush's Wars: Syrian Opposition Signs Pro-War Neo-Con Letter to Obama.


Neo-Conservatives have "called on" US President Barack Obama to assist in the establishment of "safe zones" inside of Syria in a recent letter published by the "Foreign Policy Initiative" (FPI) and the "Foundation for the Defense of Democracies" (FDD). Both faux-institutions are corporate, foundation, and government funded clearinghouses, extensions of larger think-tanks like the American Enterprise Institute, for corporate-financier driven agendas, more specifically, wars. They serve the sole purpose of manufacturing consensus behind an agenda that has little or no support within the general public.

The letter covered by Foreign Policy's article, "Conservatives call on Obama to establish ‘safe zones’ in Syria]," not only parrots Fortune 500-funded Brookings Institution's report, "Assessing Options for Regime Change," recently repeated almost verbatim by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, but was signed by co-conspirators in the invasion of Iraq including Elliott Abrams, Karl Rove, Paul Bremer, Robert Joseph, and Douglas Feith, along with advisors to the Mitt Romney, including Eric Edelman, Jamie Fly, Robert Kagan, and Stephen Rademaker, as well as Syrian National Council member, Radwah Ziadeh.Radwah Ziadeh, it should be remembered, is also a "senior fellow" of the US State Department's US Institute for Peace (USIP) which has just revealed it is behind training, coaching, and tutoring Syria's opposition leaders as well as preparing Syria's new constitution, currently being called a, "transition strategy document."

Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the Neo-Cons' letter is that it essentially calls for a no-fly zone:

We urge you to take immediate steps, in close and continuing consultation with the Congress, to work with regional partners to establish air-patrolled "safe zones" covering already liberated areas within Syria, using military power not only to protect these zones from further aggression by the Assad regime's military and irregular forces, but also to neutralize the threat posed by the Syrian dictatorship's chemical and biological weapons.

Basically an amalgamation of every false pretext the United States has used to wage war upon its enemies in the last 20 years, and the dirty tricks used to inch Americans into another war, the letter reveals who is once again behind US foreign policy, and that warmongering, corporate-financier interests, not humanitarian concerns, seek to spend American blood and treasure in their pursuit of global hegemony.

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