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Getting stuck on the US election race? Tired of hearing about how the authoritarian left is, yet again, stifling free speech? How about some Nuclear Armageddon to cleanse the palate? Dilip Hiro takes us to South East Asia and the conflict between India and Pakistan.
“Undoubtedly, for nearly two decades, the most dangerous place on Earth has been the Indian-Pakistani border in Kashmir. It’s possible that a small spark from artillery and rocket exchanges across that border might — given the known military doctrines of the two nuclear-armed neighbors — lead inexorably to an all-out nuclear conflagration. In that case the result would be catastrophic. Besides causing the deaths of millions of Indians and Pakistanis, such a war might bring on “nuclear winter” on a planetary scale, leading to levels of suffering and death that would be beyond our comprehension.
Alarmingly, the nuclear competition between India and Pakistan has now entered a spine-chilling phase. That danger stems from Islamabad’s decision to deploy low-yield tactical nuclear arms at its forward operating military bases along its entire frontier with India to deter possible aggression by tank-led invading forces. Most ominously, the decision to fire such a nuclear-armed missile with a range of 35 to 60 miles is to rest with local commanders. This is a perilous departure from the universal practice of investing such authority in the highest official of the nation. Such a situation has no parallel in the Washington-Moscow nuclear arms race of the Cold War era.
When it comes to Pakistan’s strategic nuclear weapons, their parts are stored in different locations to be assembled only upon an order from the country’s leader. By contrast, tactical nukes are pre-assembled at a nuclear facility and shipped to a forward base for instant use. In addition to the perils inherent in this policy, such weapons would be vulnerable to misuse by a rogue base commander or theft by one of the many militant groups in the country.”
Catch the rest of this sunny story at Tom’s Dispatch, I highly recommend you subscribe to their newsletter.
Chris Hedges occasionally has some good ideas when it comes to the American body politic. Consider what we are seeing on the news, and is it really that far off from what is being stated here?
“As Arendt noted, the fascist and communist movements in Europe in the 1930s “… recruited their members from this mass of apparently indifferent people whom all other parties had given up as too apathetic or too stupid for their attention. The result was that the majority of their membership consisted of people who had never before appeared on the political scene. This permitted the introduction of entirely new methods into political propaganda, and indifference to the arguments of political opponents; these movements not only placed themselves outside and against the party system as a whole, they found a membership that had never been reached, never been ‘spoiled’ by the party system. Therefore they did not need to refute opposing arguments and consistently preferred methods which ended in death rather than persuasion, which spelled terror rather than conviction. They presented disagreements as invariably originating in deep natural, social, or psychological sources beyond the control of the individual and therefore beyond the control of reason. This would have been a shortcoming only if they had sincerely entered into competition with either parties; it was not if they were sure of dealing with people who had reason to be equally hostile to all parties.”
Fascism is aided and advanced by the apathy of those who are tired of being conned and lied to by a bankrupt liberal establishment, whose only reason to vote for a politician or support a political party is to elect the least worst. This, for many voters, is the best Clinton can offer.
Fascism expresses itself in familiar and comforting national and religious symbols, which is why it comes in various varieties and forms. Italian fascism, which looked back to the glory of the Roman Empire, for example, never shared the Nazis’ love of Teutonic and Nordic myths. American fascism too will reach back to traditional patriotic symbols, narratives and beliefs.”
“There is only one way left to blunt the yearning for fascism coalescing around Trump. It is to build, as fast as possible, movements or parties that declare war on corporate power, engage in sustained acts of civil disobedience and seek to reintegrate the disenfranchised—the “losers”—back into the economy and political life of the country. This movement will never come out of the Democratic Party. If Clinton prevails in the general election Trump may disappear, but the fascist sentiments will expand. Another Trump, perhaps more vile, will be vomited up from the bowels of the decayed political system. We are fighting for our political life. Tremendous damage has been done by corporate power and the college-educated elites to our capitalist democracy. The longer the elites, who oversaw this disemboweling of the country on behalf of corporations—who believe, as does CBS Chief Executive Officer Leslie Moonves, that however bad Trump would be for America he would at least be good for corporate profit—remain in charge, the worse it is going to get.”
It would seem that the revival of class consciousness is going to play a large role in saving democracy in the United States. Remembering class interests and organizing to protect them may be a way to bring people back into the political fold.
Our corporate news media is very good at keeping inconvenient facts away from the public eye. A six minute video, by definition, cannot provide many startling revelations, but rather a starting point to become informed and hopefully take action.
Paul Street writes a foreboding analysis of what the TPP is on Counterpunch.
“Lawyers and lobbyists for giant multinational corporations have been working up the TPP and promoting it for nearly a decade. The measure would join the United States along with 11 other nations along the Pacific Rim (Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam) in a “free-trade zone” covering nearly 40 percent of the world’s economy. Obama and his largely Republican “free trade” allies say the TPP will open foreign markets to American goods and “level the playing field by forcing Asian competitors to improve labor and environmental standards.”
But that’s just blatantly deceptive business propaganda. The measure isn’t really about trade and it certainly isn’t about improved standards. Its real thrust is to strengthen corporations’ ability to protect and extend their intellectual property rights (drug patents, movie rights, and the like) and to guarantee that they will be compensated by governments for any profits they might lose from having to meet decent public labor and environmental (and other) standards – something certain to discourage the enactment and enforce of such standards. Key parts of the TPP permit foreign capital to freely and easily enter a country and for profits to be just as easily removed. The TPP would ban capital controls, which let nations block disruptive inflows of ‘hot money’ from speculative investors and then escape before the bubble they create explodes. It would also block the passage of financial transaction taxes, a method for checking speculation and generating public revenue. The measure also legitimizes the extensive privatization of public enterprises.
The TPP is designed to help big multinational businesses attain special deals they would be unable to get through existing political processes, considered excessively democratic by the global deep state of capital. A foreign corporation could sue and receive damages for anticipated profit losses resulting from an increase in the minimum wage (federal, state, or local) in the United States. A U.S. state or Canadian province (or any other member-state jurisdiction) would have to compensate oil and gas companies for anticipated profits lost to bans on the environmentally disastrous practice of hydraulic fracturing (fracking). Big Pharma and the big corporate media firms would be granted stronger and longer-lasting patent and copyright protections across the “free trade” zone. Big multinational banking and investment firms would have to be paid by TPP governments that wanted to keep their nations’ financial systems safe through responsible regulation. Food, chemical, consumer goods, and pesticide industries will be able to able to limit the ability of TPP governments to impose safety and environmental regulations on the things they sell and how they make them. The giant global and U.S.-based consumer packaged goods firm Procter & Gamble could demand compensation from any TPP nation (including the U.S.) that dared to subject its products and workplaces to basic social and environmental standards. (One could go on and on with such examples.)
“Level playing field”? The TPP is about a race to the capitalist bottom, a levelling down of people and government’s capacity to impose limits on business behavior. Like its regressive predecessor the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), it’s about what the New York Times calls “investor protection.”
Of critical and dark significance, the TPP constructs a new legal structure that transcends the existing, nation-based legal system.
Phone, write, send smoke signals to your MP’s fellow Canadians. We do not want this for our country, NAFTA is bad enough.
Taken from his essay on Counterpunch called Slouching Toward Global Disaster.
It is impossible to understand and explain such a disastrous failure of military interventionism without considering the effects of two toxic ‘special relationships’ formed by the United States, with Israel and Saudi Arabia.
The basic feature of such special relationships is an unconditional partnership in which the Israelis and Saudis can do whatever they wish, including pursuing policies antagonistic to U.S. interests without encountering any meaningful opposition from either Washington or Europe.
This zone of discretion has allowed Israel to keep Palestinians from achieving self-determination while pursuing its own territorial ambitions via constantly expanding settlements on occupied Palestinian territory, fueling grassroots anti-Western sentiment throughout the Arab world because of this persisting reliance on a cruel settler colonialist approach to block for seven decades the Palestinian struggle for fundamental and minimal national rights.
The special relationship with Saudi Arabia is even more astonishing until one considers the primacy of economic strategic priorities, especially the importance of oil supplied at affordable prices. Having by far the worst human rights record in the region, replete with judicially decreed beheadings and executions by stoning, the Riyadh leadership continues to be warmly courted in Western capitals as allies and friends. At the same time, equally theocratic Iran is hypocritically bashed and internationally punished in retaliation for its far less oppressive governing abuses.
Of course, looking the other way, is what is to be expected in the cynical conduct of opportunistic geopolitics, but to indulge the Saudi role in the worldwide promotion of jihadism while spending trillion on counter-terrorism is much more difficult to fathom until one shifts attention from the cover story of counter-terrorism to the more illuminating narrative of petropolitics. Despite fracking and natural gas discoveries lessening Western dependence on Middle Eastern oil, old capitalist habits persist long after their economic justifications have lapsed and this seems true even when such policies have become damaging in lives and financial burdens.”
-Richard Falk. Slouching Toward Global Disaster
Just a little peek into what fairness and equality means on the global scale. Take note of how the playing field is levelled instead of it being ‘level’ and one might start to see the patterns in our society and maybe start to question the conceptions of ‘equality’ when we are told things are ‘fine’.
(I’m writing this early in the week, for publication Friday. I’m dreading coming back and editing this list…)
and all the places being terrorized by “our” side…
Gustav Mahler wrote his song cycle Kindertotenlieder, Songs on the Death of Children, over a century ago, a setting of five (out of over 400) poems written by Friedrich Rückert some sixty years earlier, in reaction to the death of two of his children from scarlet fever.
“Now the sun wants to rise as brightly”
- Now the sun wants to rise as brightly
- as if nothing terrible had happened during the night.
- The misfortune had happened only to me,
- but the sun shines equally on everyone.
- You must not enfold the night in you.
- You must sink it in eternal light.
- A little star went out in my tent!
- Greetings to the joyful light of the world.
After the attacks in Paris, the Governors of Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Mississippi, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Texas, and the Premier of Saskatchewan, are opposed to receiving Syrian refugees.
I haven’t been able to find out if the Premier of Saskatchewan is a man of any particular faith, but it’s reasonable to assume all those American Governors do profess to be Christian. To them I say:
31“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, he will sit on his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33He will put the sheep on his right and the goats on his left.
34“Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world. 35For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37“Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?38When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
41“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.’
44“They also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?’
45“He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’
46“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.”
Even if there are terrorists mingled among the refugees, what kind of country do we want to be? One that turns away thousands of innocents to be sure that not one terrorist gets in (at least, not through that particular process); or one willing to take the risk, to save literally thousands of lives? I know my answer. I stumbled across this tweet that sums it up perfectly:
I hate this idea that taking in Syrian refugees involves no danger. It does. But compassion demands boldness in the face of terror.
— Ferrett Steinmetz (@ferretthimself) November 16, 2015