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And, yes, I DO take it personally: 05/20/2012 - 05/27/2012
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And, yes, I DO take it personally

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Glenn: American rage at Pakistan over the punishment of a CIA-cooperating Pakistani doctor is quite revealing

hypocrisy 'r' us...

glenn greenwald...
Americans of all types — Democrats and Republicans, even some Good Progressives — are just livid that a Pakistani tribal court (reportedly in consultation with Pakistani officials) has imposed a 33-year prison sentence on Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who secretly worked with the CIA to find Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Their fury tracks the standard American media narrative: by punishing Dr. Afridi for the “crime” of helping the U.S. find bin Laden, Pakistan has revealed that it sympathizes with Al Qaeda and is hostile to the U.S. (NPR headline: “33 Years In Prison For Pakistani Doctor Who Aided Hunt For Bin Laden”; NYT headline: “Prison Term for Helping C.I.A. Find Bin Laden”). Except that’s a woefully incomplete narrative: incomplete to the point of being quite misleading.

What Dr. Afridi actually did was concoct a pretextual vaccination program, whereby Pakistani children would be injected with a single Hepatitis B vaccine, with the hope of gaining access to the Abbottabad house where the CIA believed bin Laden was located. The plan was that, under the ruse of vaccinating the children in that province, he would obtain DNA samples that could confirm the presence in the suspected house of the bin Laden family. But the vaccine program he was administering was fake: as Wired‘s public health reporter Maryn McKenna detailed, “since only one of three doses was delivered, the vaccination was effectively useless.” An on-the-ground Guardian investigation documented that ”while the vaccine doses themselves were genuine, the medical professionals involved were not following procedures. In an area called Nawa Sher, they did not return a month after the first dose to provide the required second batch. Instead, according to local officials and residents, the team moved on.”

That means that numerous Pakistani children who thought they were being vaccinated against Hepatitis B were in fact left exposed to the virus. Worse, international health workers have long faced serious problems in many parts of the world — including remote Muslim areas — in convincing people that the vaccines they want to give to their children are genuine rather than Western plots to harm them. These suspicions have prevented the eradication of polio and the containment of other preventable diseases in many areas, including in parts of Pakistan. This faux CIA vaccination program will, for obvious and entirely foreseeable reasons, significantly exacerbate that problem.

As McKenna wrote this week, this fake CIA vaccination program was “a cynical attempt to hijack the credibility that public health workers have built up over decades with local populations” and thus “endangered the status of the fraught polio-eradication campaign, which over the past decade has been challenged in majority-Muslim areas in Africa and South Asia over beliefs that polio vaccination is actually a covert campaign to harm Muslim children.” She further notes that while this suspicion “seems fantastic” to oh-so-sophisticated Western ears — what kind of primitive people would harbor suspicions about Western vaccine programs? – there are actually “perfectly good reasons to distrust vaccination campaigns” from the West (in 1996, for instance, 11 children died in Nigeria when Pfizer, ostensibly to combat a meningitis outbreak, conducted drug trials — experiments — on Nigerian children that did not comport with binding safety standards in the U.S.).


In fact, the U.S. Government tries to impose the harshest possible sentences on Americans who do far less than Dr. Afridi did in Pakistan. The Obama administration charged former NSA official Thomas Drake with espionage and tried to imprison him for decades merely because he exposed serious waste, corruption and illegality in surveillance programs — without the slightest indication of any harm to national security. Right now, they’re charging Bradley Manning with “aiding the enemy” — Al Qaeda — and attempting to impose life imprisonment on the 23-year-old Army Private, merely because he leaked information to the world showing serious war crimes and other government deceit (something The New York Times does frequently) which nobody suggests was done in collaboration with or even with any intent to help Al Qaeda or any other foreign entity. Given all that, just imagine how harshly they’d try to punish an American who secretly collaborated with a foreign intelligence service — who created a fake vaccine program for American kids — to enable secret military action on U.S. soil without their knowledge.

my country... patético...

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Friday, May 25, 2012

This Memorial Day, let us reflect on the sober reality of the U.S. post-9/11

bill moyers and michael winship...
Facing the truth is hard to do, especially the truth about ourselves. So Americans have been sorely pressed to come to terms with the fact that after 9/11 our government began to torture people, and did so in defiance of domestic and international law. Most of us haven’t come to terms with what that meant, or means today, but we must reckon with torture, the torture done in our name, allegedly for our safety.
In this photo of a sketch by courtroom artist Janet Hamlin and reviewed 
by the U.S. Department of Defense, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed reads a 
document during his military hearing at the Guantanamo Bay U.S. Naval 
Base in Cuba, Saturday, May 5, 2012. (AP Photo/Janet Hamlin)

It’s no secret such cruelty occurred; it’s just the truth we’d rather not think about. But Memorial Day is a good time to make the effort. Because if we really want to honor the Americans in uniform who gave their lives fighting for their country, we’ll redouble our efforts to make sure we’re worthy of their sacrifice; we’ll renew our commitment to the rule of law, for the rule of law is essential to any civilization worth dying for.


So here we are, into our eleventh year after 9/11, still at war in Afghanistan, still at war with terrorists, still at war with our collective conscience as we grapple with how to protect our country from attack without violating the basic values of civilization — the rule of law, striving to achieve our aims without corrupting them, and restraint in the use of power over others, especially when exercised in secret.
In future days and years, how will we come to cope with the reality of what we have done in the name of security?

it is also good on this upcoming memorial day weekend to remember other parts of our history, or, i should say more accurately, MY history... i have made it a personal tradition each memorial day to post my vietnam experiences, partly to honor those who served and died there but also to honor a short but intense period in my own history, but i'll wait until monday to put that up...

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The question now is which fork in the road will Occupy take?

more from adbusters...

Occupy's Spiritual Quest

The fork in the road ahead.

Dear occupiers, jammers, dreamers,

Three years after the May 1968 uprising that swept the world, the great French philosopher Michel Foucault observed that a key strategy of power is to “appear inaccessible to events.” Power, Foucault argued with a nod towards 1968’s failed insurrection, acts to “dispel the shock of daily occurrences, to dissolve the event … to exclude the radical break introduced by events.”

Forty years later, in light of Occupy, Foucault’s observation still strikes home. Despite achieving the impossible at unprecedented speed – sparking a global awakening, triggering a thousand people’s assemblies worldwide, and giving birth to a visceral anti-corporate, pro-democracy spiritual insurrection – Occupy is now struggling through an existential moment. Our movement has been dealt a blow: our May 1 and follow-up events have been dissolved by power; the status quo has shown itself to be far more resilient than many of us expected.

Now a passionate debate is emerging within our movement. On one side are those who cheer the death of Occupy in the hopes that it will transform into something unexpected and new. And on the other are patient organizers who counsel that all great movements take years to unfold.


The fire in the soul of Occupy burns from Oakland to Quebec, Barcelona to Chicago, Wall Street to Moscow and Frankfurt… the question now is which fork in the road will our movement take?

for the wild,
Culture Jammers HQ

i'm less interested in the direction the movement will take than i am in how we can accelerate the collapse of the house of cards which may or may not be connected with any "movement"...

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The Quebec protests evolves from student debt to austerity

from adbusters...

Quebec: Red Square Revolt

It started with students — first a few at the Université Laval, and then hundreds of thousands, filling the streets every day and every night, wearing red squares (carrés rouges) to symbolize the giant debt they’d accrue if their government went ahead with proposed tuition hikes. Now the movement has turned into a bigger revolt against austerity measures in Quebec — a grève générale illimitée (#ggi) or unlimited general strike questioning the fundamentals of liberal democracy and capitalism. This short video summarizes the strike, its goals, and the persistence of protestors even as the Quebec government attempts to institute draconian anti-protest laws.

interestingly, the quebec protests made it across the atlantic to appear at the cannes film festival...
Quebecois filmmaker Xavier Dolan wore the red square, which has become the symbol of the Quebec student movement, on the red carpet for the premiere of his film Laurence Anyways at Cannes.

The young director sported the square on his tux and the film's actors Nathalie Baye, Melvil Poupaud and Suzanne Clement, also wore the symbol in support of students.

The screening came as students took to the streets in Montreal to protest new laws cracking down on public protesting, which critics say threaten civil liberties. Molotov cocktails were thrown and windows were smashed, ending in at least four arrests.

"questioning the fundamentals of liberal democracy and capitalism"... cool...

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A real choice for President in 2012

mr. fish certainly has managed to grasp the essential reality of the u.s. presidential election charade...


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Adbusters: The largest student protest in the history of Canada

from a quebec blogger site via adbusters...
The largest student protest in the history of Canada is taking place. The premier of the Canadian province says that the police violence used against the uprising is keeping the public safe. The images you are about to see say otherwise.

also this...
On march 22, 2012. Many thousands of students marched the streets of montreal in opposition to tuition hikes. The sheer amount of people was just astounding...

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Paul Craig Roberts: Financial deregulation is likely to prove to be the mistake that destroys Western civilization

whether or not roberts is right, i just wish the house of cards would go ahead and collapse...

from counterpunch...

The enormous cost of the financial crisis has one single source–financial deregulation. Financial deregulation is likely to prove to be the mistake that destroys Western civilization. While we quake in our boots from fear of “Muslim terrorists,” it is financial deregulation that is destroying us, with help from jobs offshoring.
Financial deregulation has had dangerous and adverse consequences. Deregulation permitted financial concentration that produced “banks too big to fail,” thus requiring the general public to absorb the costs of the banks’ mistakes and reckless gambling.

Deregulation permitted banks to leverage a small amount of capital with enormous debt in order to maximize return on equity, thereby maximizing the instability of the financial system and the cost to society of the banks’ bad bets.

Deregulation allowed financial institutions to sweep aside the position limits on speculators and to dominate commodity markets, turning them into a gambling casino and driving up the prices of energy and food.

Deregulation permits financial institutions to sell naked shorts, which means to sell a company’s stock or gold and silver bullion that the seller does not possess into the market in order to drive down the price.


The dollar in its role as world reserve currency is the source of Washington’s power. It allows Washington to control the international payments system and to exclude from the financial system those countries that do not do Washington’s bidding. It allows Washington to print money with which to pay its bills and to purchase the cooperation of foreign governments or to fund opposition within those countries whose governments Washington is unable to purchase, such as Iran, Russia, and China. If the dollar was not the world reserve currency and actually reflected its true depreciated value from the mounting US debt and running of the printing press, Washington’s power would be dramatically curtailed.
It is ironic that the outcome of financial deregulation in the US is the opposite of what its free market advocates promised. In place of highly competitive financial firms that live or die by their wits alone without government intervention, we have unprecedented financial concentration.  Massive banks, “too big to fail,” now send their multi-trillion dollar losses to Washington to be paid by heavily indebted US taxpayers whose real incomes have not risen in 20 years.  The banksters take home fortunes in annual bonuses for their success in socializing the “free market” banks’ losses and privatizing profits to the point of not even paying income taxes.


Will Western civilization itself survive the financial tsunami that deregulated Wall Street has produced?

i think the day when the dollar is not the world's reserve currency is rapidly approaching...

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Alternet: The relentless drive of corporations to maximize profit above everything else, including safety, fair working conditions, clean air and water, healthy communities, and common decency

tara lohan writing in alternet...
The corporate model we have today hasn't always been around and it doesn't need to remain the dominant way we do business. There is no reason we should be swabbing the decks of a sinking ship -- alternatives already exist and they are flourishing.

"What's underway is an ownership revolution. It's about broadening economic power from the few to the many and about changing the mindset from social indifference to social benefit," Kelly [Marjorie Kelly, a fellow at the Tellus Institute and author of the new book Owning Our Future: The Emerging Ownership Revolution] writes. "We're schooled to fear this shift, to think there are only two choices for the design of an economy: capitalism and communism, private ownership and state ownership. But the alternatives being grown today defy those dusty 19th-century categories. They represent a new option of private ownership for the common good. This economic revolution is different from a political one. It's not about tearing down but about building up. It's about reconstructing the foundation of ownership on which the economy rests."


[A] healthy, living economy needs biodiversity. We can find this if we begin to look around -- across the U.S. and the world -- where there are businesses designed not for maximum profit, but with a mission-driven social and economic architecture. One of these models is the "social enterprise."

The Social Enterprise Alliance defines these organizations as "businesses whose primary purpose is the common good. They use the methods and disciplines of business and the power of the marketplace to advance their social, environmental and human justice agendas." And one of the defining characteristics is that "The common good is its primary purpose, literally 'baked into' the organization's DNA, and trumping all others." [emphasis added]


The idea of social enterprises is catching on in the business world in the U.S. with the emergence of Benefit Corporations, also known as B Corps, which are designed, "to create a new sector of the economy which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems." B Corps are all for-profit companies that have legal structures mandating that the company is designed to work not for maximum shareholder gain, but for the good of society and the environment.

in the 80s there was a move among corporations toward participative governance, employee empowerment, consensus decision-making and addressing the needs of stakeholders with all the same seriousness reserved for owners and shareholders... this understandably made our super-rich elites nervous as they perceived it as an assault on their power and their perceived "right" to vacuum up unlimited quantities of cash from enterprises in which they had invested their capital... i was particularly supportive of this movement as it aligned very well with my own values and principles...

in my work with large corporations in that era, i devoted vast amounts of skill and energy to making front-line workers, the ones who are the heart and soul of any organization, the beneficiaries of the fruits of empowerment - shared decision-making, increased authority and responsibility and a commensurate share of the rewards... it took a while to sink in to my thick skull that the senior managers had no intention of letting such "socialist" notions take hold but that didn't prevent them from giving lip service all the same...

the terminology of that era is still evident in the introductory pages of every corporate annual report but it's as phony as a three-dollar bill... even so, i continue to teach and train those principles in every venue in which i have an entree - consulting jobs, teaching an mba class, and in every conversation i have with anyone willing to listen to me pounding the pulpit...

of one thing i am sure... unless and until a stake is driven through the heart of the utterly false concept of social darwinism and we make a conscious and collective decision to support the common good and accept that we are all in this boat together, we will never reach the kind of organization changes tara lohan writes about...

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Top organization spending on lobbying; top recipients of lobbying money

yet more evidence of how our super-rich elites are buying our government and ruling our lives...

via influence explorer...



it's interesting to me that the home of the masters of the universe, goldman sachs, has spent more than double the amount of any other organization...

thanks to glenn greenwald... 

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Monday, May 21, 2012

Vets protest at NATO by throwing their medals away

i know there will be a lot of people who will condemn the vets for their actions but, no surprise, i'm not one of them... as a vietnam vet and a civilian worker in afghanistan, i have had the opportunity to see the effects of the endless war mentality of the u.s. in person... and as one who receives his health care from the va, i am all too well aware of our own domestic human wreckage caused by that same mentality... i say cheers for those vets for having the courage to speak out...

from msnbc...
Dozens of anti-war veterans tossed their medals onto a Chicago street Sunday near where NATO began its two-day summit, calling them “representations of hate,” “lies” and “cheap tokens,” and with some making emotional pleas for forgiveness from the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
With many dressed in military fatigues, they had filed through the streets in formation, chanting "N-A-T-O, NATO has got to go," and “No NATO, no war, we don't work for you no more,” leading about 2,000 protesters on a 2.5-mile march.

After “retiring” an American flag they carried through the streets and giving it to a woman whose soldier son committed suicide, they began hurtling their war service medals into the air -- a rare form of protest that was last done on a large scale by 900 Vietnam veterans in 1971.

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Sunday, May 20, 2012

Ten companies, thousands of products

the graphic below lists ten companies and connects them with the products they produce... unfortunately, the graphic depicts only the products marketed by those companies in the united states... many thousands more similar products are sold in countries across the globe under different brand names... in my travels, i have made it a habit to always search for the name of the company on the product, usually found in very small print somewhere on the packaging and it almost always is one of those same companies, no matter if i am in argentina, macedonia, or afghanistan... the heavy hitters are usually nestle, proctor and gamble and unilever but the rest of them are also well-represented along with a healthy sprinkling of other companies, usually german and uk...

(click on graphic for larger version)

i strongly recommend always doing your own checking... i guarantee it will be an eye-opening experience...

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