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The US is doing it again.

“In February, the US mounted one of its “colour” coups against the elected government in Ukraine, exploiting genuine protests against corruption in Kiev. Obama’s national security adviser Victoria Nuland personally selected the leader of an “interim government”. She nicknamed him “Yats”. Vice President Joe Biden came to Kiev, as did CIA Director John Brennan. The shock troops of their putsch were Ukrainian fascists.

For the first time since 1945, a neo-Nazi, openly anti-Semitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital.  No Western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism in the borderland through which Hitler’s invading Nazis took millions of Russian lives. They were supported by the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA), responsible for the massacre of Jews and Russians they called “vermin”. The UPA is the historical inspiration of the present-day Svoboda Party and its fellow-travelling Right Sector. Svoboda leader Oleh Tyahnybok has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the United States has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato Enlargement Project. Reneging on a promise made to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand “one inch to the east”, Nato has, in effect, militarily occupied eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato’s expansion is the biggest military build-up since the Second World War.

A Nato Membership Action Plan is Washington’s gift to the coup-regime in Kiev. In August, “Operation Rapid Trident” will put American and British troops on Ukraine’s Russian border and “Sea Breeze” will send US warships within sight of Russian ports. Imagine the response if these acts of provocation, or intimidation, were carried out on America’s borders.”

Go read the full article on counterpunch.org.

 

torture   Have you ever wondered about some of the shared traits of humanity?  One could prosaically think of Love, Compassion and Happiness and one would be correct.  If the similarities ended there, I wouldn’t be writing, nor would you be reading about the prevalence of torture across the globe.

“The report titled Torture in 2014 – 30 Years of Broken Promises read: “Although governments have prohibited this dehumanising practice in law and have recognised global disgust at its existence, many of them are carrying out torture or facilitating it in practice.”

“Three decades from the convention and more than 65 years after the Universal Declaration of Human Rights torture is not just alive and well. It is flourishing,” according to the report.

Amnesty said 155 countries have ratified the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture but many governments were still “betraying their responsibility” with at least 79 countries continuing to engage in the outlawed practice in 2014.

“It’s almost become normalised, it’s become routine,” Amnesty Secretary General Salil Shetty told reporters at the launch of the “Stop Torture” campaign in London. The campaign focuses on Mexico, the Philippines, Morocco and Western Sahara, Nigeria and Uzbekistan.”

   Awesome.  It is infuriating to see that people understood their situation and attempted to rectify the sad state of affairs – we *are* capable of being decent human beings, yet today we turn away from the lessons learned so long ago. 

“The group notes how the UN Convention made torturers “international outlaws” and prompted governments worldwide to denounce the practice. But it warns that in reality many are endorsing or at least failing to tackle the issue head-on.

“Governments have broken their promises, and because of these broken promises millions of people have suffered terribly,” said Shetty.”

No country should be above international law, the existence of jurisdictions ‘outside’ the International Court of Justice’s purview make tackling issues, like Torture,  that stretch across national boundaries difficult, if not impossible to resolve.  But hey, we’re past that whole ‘torture thing’ right?  Right??

“As I interviewed an ever-increasing number of the victims of 21st century American torture, I began to research the historical antecedents of each revolting method. The zealous acolytes of Vice-President Dick Cheney were talking about ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’ as if we were being kinder and gentler now. Consider one favourite of CIA interrogators much used in the early days of the Afghanistan invasion: someone who dared talk to another detainee held in the frigid mid-winter cages of Bagram air force base would be hung up by his wrists, handcuffed to the metal fence so that he could barely stand on the tips of his toes.

handcufffenceDoes that sound like torture? Perhaps not, until a doctor explains how the shoulders gradually dislocate, amid intense pain. The method is so effective that a recalcitrant prisoner could be persuaded to give a confession that might end in his own execution. For this reason, it was employed by the Spanish Inquisition, who called it Strappado. I began to use this word, and was gratified some months later when The New York Times adopted my use of the term.

Next, I took a small historical liberty in describing a second technique as Reverse Strappado – I am not sure that the Spanish ever truly differentiated, though it is even more excruciating: this time, the prisoner’s hands are tied behind his back before he is hung from the wrists.

Waterboarding has a particularly ironic history when we trace the 21st century US practice. It is sometimes described as simulated drowning, yet this is misleading: it is a process of actual drowning. It may or may not be carried through to the point of death, at the election of the practitioner. Most commonly (what a tragedy to think that it has been common!), a cloth is placed over the face and water is poured over the victim so that he cannot breathe. Waterboarding has been widely used for several centuries, by the Spanish Inquisition, the Gestapo, Japanese torture squads, the Khmer Rouge, the Soviet secret police, Pinochet’s death squads, Mugabe’s hired thugs and, latterly, the democratically-elected government of the United States of America.

Waterboarding Middle AgesYet, perhaps it is the terminology that betrays the ultimate evil: the Inquisition were brutal but honest, calling it tortura del agua (‘water torture’). The Americans dressed it up when waterboarding Abu Zubaydah scores of times, referring to it as one of many ‘Enhanced Interrogation Techniques’. That was doubtless designed to sound less savage, and give the Bush administration wriggle room to pretend that it was not actually violating the UN Convention against Torture.

But where did this Orwellian description originate? Did Dick Cheney coin the term? No. Indeed, when Adolf Hitler’s Gestapo waterboarded their victims, they referred to it as Verschärfte Vernehmung, which literally translates as ‘Enhanced Interrogation Technique’.

These specialised torture techniques should not obscure the purported utility of a good old-fashioned beating. Of course, the sophisticated sociopath will not call it anything so pedestrian. One Guantanamo euphemism is Forcible Cell Extraction (FCE), where half a dozen goons in Kevlar armour burst into a prisoner’s cell with batons and riot shields and pound him into the concrete floor. As recently as 2013, this was happening almost every day – and sometimes more than once – to my client Shaker Aamer, the last British resident held in the prison.”

Ah, The vaunted Progress of Humanity! – a rancidly perfumed recipe written with the tears, blood and ruined bodies of the tortured.  I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling *very* modern here in the 21st century.

[Source]

[Source]

 

Waterboarding

 

 

 

 

gazaairstrikeNo one should have to live in fear.  Death by airstrike, death by rocket.  Same result.  I cannot even imagine having to deal with every day life in Gaza, especially if I had children.

“I am used to the bombings, but my children are worried. So I have to keep reassuring them.”  Explaining what is happening in the skies to children sometimes proves difficult for some Palestinian parents.  “When my child becomes scared I try to pacify her,” said Yasir Fatih. “I tell her the noise is far away and it’s not dangerous. Or sometimes I tell her it’s not real, it’s a game.”

One hell of a bogeyman no?

Of course the situation is complex, of course there is aggression from both parties.  The violence being perpetrated though, should not be thought as a war between equals.  If there ever was a case of David vs Goliath it would be the situation of Hamas versus the IDF.

We have different labels for similar situations…this comment from DierYassin summarized nicely how varied the world stage is.

  “Facing international opprobrium over apartheid, Pretoria angrily asked why the world was focusing on them when far more serious atrocities abounded elsewhere.
      They boasted of the better living conditions of blacks under white rule. And of how they were a “beacon of civilization” in a backward continent surrounded by countries wanting their “destruction”.   They labelled armed resistance as terrorism and gave blacks truncated enclaves ruled by powerless chieftains and called it self-determination.

Sound familiar?

Ah, but we in North America are ardent supporters of Israel so obviously, this cannot be the case…

 

[Source]

 

 

 

Somaminejpg   The general capitalist framework sets up people and resources for exploitation.  Without a strong social democratic counterweight to capitalist exploitation we necessarily get the tragic results as exemplified by the mine disaster in Soma, Turkey.

“Turkish police are investigating 18 people, including mining company executives and personnel, as part of the probe into the Soma mining disaster, local media had reported.

The arrests on Sunday came after the government promised a thorough investigation into the deaths of 301 miners last week. According to the private Dogan news agency, prosecutors are questioning five of those being held.”

Three hundred and one human lives are gone because safety standards are bad for the bottom line.

“Families and unions have criticised the government’s handling of the disaster, and said the private firm which runs the coal mine, Soma Holding, did nothing to enforce safety standards.

Critics say that the privatisation of previously state-controlled mines had turned them over to politically connected businessmen who have skimped on safety to maximise profit.”

The maggoty quest for privatization has the same results wherever it burrows into the fabric of civil society.  People are thrown into the meat grinder in an attempt to sate the voracious hunger for profit.  Good for business, bad for people.

“A preliminary expert report, obtained by the Milliyet newspaper, pointed to several safety violations in the mine, including a shortage of carbon monoxide detectors and ceilings made of wood instead of metal.”

Privatization of utilities and resource extraction is almost always a bad deal for the people of the society.

[Source]

 

I’m frightened for the wrong reasons.

 

If I listened and believed what I was supposed to believe I would be afraid that the Russians are provoking the West into military conflict in Ukraine.  The problem is that I’m more of afraid of what We are doing to destabilize the situation.  John Pilger is with me on this one.

“Washington’s role in Ukraine is ­different only in its implications for the rest of us. For the first time since the Reagan years, the US is ­threatening to take the world to war. With eastern Europe and the Balkans now military outposts of Nato, the last “buffer state” bordering Russia is being torn apart. We in the west are backing neo-Nazis in a country where Ukrainian Nazis backed Hitler.

Having masterminded the coup in February against the democratically elected government in Kiev, Washington’s planned seizure of Russia’s ­historic, legitimate warm-water naval base in Crimea failed. The Russians defended themselves, as they have done against every threat and invasion from the west for almost a century.

But Nato’s military encirclement has accelerated, along with US-orchestrated attacks on ethnic Russians in Ukraine. If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role will justify a Nato-run guerrilla war that is likely to spill into Russia itself.

Crisis in Ukraine.Instead, Putin has confounded the war party by seeking an accommodation with Washington and the EU, by withdrawing troops from the Ukrainian border and urging ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine to abandon the weekend’s provocative referendum. These Russian-speaking and bilingual people – a third of Ukraine’s population – have long sought a democratic federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are neither “separatists” nor “rebels” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland.

Like the ruins of Iraq and Afghanistan, Ukraine has been turned into a CIA theme park – run by CIA director John Brennan in Kiev, with “special units” from the CIA and FBI setting up a “security structure” that oversees savage attacks on those who opposed the February coup. Watch the videos, read the eye-witness reports from the massacre in Odessa this month. Bussed fascist thugs burned the trade union headquarters, killing 41 people trapped inside. Watch the police standing by. A doctor described trying to rescue people, “but I was stopped by pro-Ukrainian Nazi radicals. One of them pushed me away rudely, promising that soon me and other Jews of Odessa are going to meet the same fate … I wonder, why the whole world is keeping silent.”

Russian-speaking Ukrainians are fighting for survival. When Putin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from the border, the Kiev junta’s defence secretary – a founding member of the fascist Svoboda party – boasted that the attacks on “insurgents” would continue. In Orwellian style, propaganda in the west has inverted this to Moscow “trying to orchestrate conflict and provocation”, according to William Hague. His cynicism is matched by Obama’s grotesque congratulations to the coup junta on its “remarkable restraint” following the Odessa massacre. Illegal and fascist-dominated, the junta is described by Obama as “duly elected”. What matters is not truth, Henry Kissinger once said, butbut what is perceived to be true.”

(Source)

I’m certainly glad that Canada is soundly backing the fascist junta in the Ukraine, I’d hate to think what would happen if we let those people decide for themselves what is best for their country.  We most definitely need to serve our interests protect the people of Ukraine during this conflict.

 

I’m frightened for the wrong reasons…

 

 

Tobaccofarming

The news: If you’re a 7-year-old in the U.S., you are by law too young to buy a cigarette at the counter — but you are old enough to work in the tobacco fields as a day laborer.

Human Rights Watched released a disturbing report Wednesday on child labor in America’s tobacco farms. The four states that grow 90% of U.S. tobacco — North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia — allow children as young as 7 to work in these farms for minimum wage. And it’s completely legal.

That’s right: Elementary school-age children are harvesting tobacco on America’s farms, exposing themselves to nicotine, toxic pesticides and dangerous machinery.

(Source)

I’ve never been a fan of “the good ole days”.  Exploitation of the working class and families was always front and center in my mind as I read about the industrial revolution and our glorious path to the society we have today.  Cue this story about elementary children working in the fields to remind ourselves of how advanced and how far we’ve come.

Bleh.

 

More on the happy fun times religion is bringing to the US over at the Experiential Pagan. :)

 

We are not hearing much about Venezuela at the moment, here is a brief snippet of what life is currently like in parts of that country.  Many thanks to Minute Physics for posting this news.

 

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