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15 May 2009

The Take: Worker-Controlled Factories in Argentina

This is how change occurs, Obamabots.



More info here.

14 May 2009

The Bloodbath in Sri Lanka

1. Video from the Guardian.

2. From Channel 4 News:



3. A good question: Why don't we care about Sri Lanka?

A key point:

The apparent cynicism of leaders like President Obama is another emotional barrier, leaving many questioning what they are being told: While he attacked both the LTTE and the Sri Lankan government this week for causing “widespread suffering and the loss of hundreds if not thousands of lives,” his own national security advisor said aerial bombing would continue in Afghanistan despite the high numbers of civilian casualties.

General James Jones said while the United States would do more to reduce the number of civilian casualties, it would not stop air strikes because “we can't fight with one hand tied behind our back.” In this American calculus, Tamil civilians are worth more than Afghans.

I should point out that it doesn't take a huge leap of imagination to understand what's happening in Sri Lanka, even absent pictures or video.

Human Rights Investigator, Attorney John Sifton: Torture Investigation Should Focus on Estimated 100 Prisoner Deaths

Key point:

AMY GOODMAN: First, your response to the testimony yesterday.

JOHN SIFTON: Well, I think it raised a lot of interesting questions about the effectiveness of torture. But those are the wrong debates to be having right now. The reason I wrote about Bush administration homicides, which is not something, you know, I’ve—I worked on for a while. A lot of this was uncovered by Human Rights Watch and Human Rights First and the ACLU, all the way back in 2003, 2004, 2005. We knew that up to a hundred detainees had died in US custody in Iraq and Afghanistan, and we had published this information previously. But I brought it up again, because I feel like the debate right now about torture is missing the point.

These aggressive techniques were not just limited to the high-value detainee program in the CIA. They spread to the military with disastrous results. They led to the deaths of human beings. And when there’s a corpse involved, when there’s a dead body involved, you can’t just have a debate about policy differences and looking forward or looking backward.

AMY GOODMAN: Give us examples.

JOHN SIFTON: Well, there are detainees as early as 2002 who died in Afghanistan. Some were interrogated by the CIA in closed sites north of Kabul. Others were in the military base at Bagram, beaten to death, literally, by guards who were being instructed by military intelligence officers, you know, to soften detainees up. Later on in Iraq, when the insurgency heated up in August and September of 2003, we saw deaths there, including both CIA interrogation deaths and regular military deaths.

13 May 2009

Obama administration threatens Britain to keep torture evidence concealed, Glenn Greenwald

Key quote:

Ever since he was released from Guantanamo in February after six years of due-process-less detention and brutal torture, Binyam Mohamed has been attempting to obtain justice for what was done to him. But his torturers have been continuously protected, and Mohamed's quest for a day in court repeatedly thwarted, by one individual: Barack Obama. Today, there is new and graphic evidence of just how far the Obama administration is going to prevent evidence of the Bush administration's torture program from becoming public.

In February, Obama's DOJ demanded dismissal of Mohamed's lawsuit against the company which helped "render" him to be tortured on the ground that national security would be harmed if the lawsuit continued. Then, after a British High Court ruled that there was credible evidence that Mohamed was subjected to brutal torture and was entitled to obtain evidence in the possession of the British government which detailed the CIA's treatment of Mohamed, and after a formal police inquiry began into allegations that British agents collaborated in his torture, the British government cited threats from the U.S. government that it would no longer engage in intelligence-sharing with Britain -- i.e., it would no longer pass on information about terrorist threats aimed at British citizens -- if the British court disclosed the facts of Mohamed's torture.

Look, it's all pretty simple and crystal clear to anyone with a working brain: if you defend this latest Obama travesty, revoke all criticism you made of Bush/Cheney, declare yourself a fascist, and stop lying to yourself.

12 May 2009

Three Highly Relevant Excerpts from Twain's "The Mysterious Stranger"

I.

"Monarchies, aristocracies, and religions are all based upon that large defect in your race -- the individual's distrust of his neighbor, and his desire, for safety's or comfort's sake, to stand well in his neighbor's eye. These institutions will always remain, and always flourish, and always oppress you, affront you, and degrade you, because you will always be and remain slaves of minorities. There was never a country where the majority of the people were in their secret hearts loyal to any of these institutions."

I did not like to hear our race called sheep, and said I did not think they were.

"Still, it is true, lamb," said Satan. "Look at you in war -- what mutton you are, and how ridiculous!"

"In war? How?"

"There has never been a just one, never an honorable one -- on the part of the instigator of the war. I can see a million years ahead, and this rule will never change in so many as half a dozen instances. The loud little handful -- as usual -- will shout for the war. The pulpit will -- warily and cautiously -- object -- at first; the great, big, dull bulk of the nation will rub its sleepy eyes and try to make out why there should be a war, and will say, earnestly and indignantly, "It is unjust and dishonorable, and here is no necessity for it." Then the handful will shout louder. A few fair men on the other side will argue and reason against the war with speech and pen, and at first will have a hearing and be applauded; but it will not last long; those others will outshout them, and presently the anti-war audiences will thin out and lose popularity. Before long you will see this curious thing: the speakers stoned from the platform, and free speech strangled by hordes of furious men who in their secret hearts are still at one with those stoned speakers -- as earlier -- but do not dare to say so. And now the whole nation -- pulpit and all -- will take up the war-cry, and shout itself hoarse, and mob any honest man who ventures to open his mouth; and presently such mouths will cease to open. Next the statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting the blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those conscience-soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception."

II.

By this time his theater was at work again, and before our eyes nation after nation drifted by, during two or three centuries, a mighty procession, an endless procession, raging, struggling, wallowing through seas of blood, smothered in battle smoke through which the flags glinted and the red jets from the cannon darted; and always we heard the thunder of the guns and the cries of the dying.

"And what does it amount to?" said Satan, with his evil chuckle. "Nothing at all. You gain nothing; you always come out where you went in. For a million years the race has gone on monotonously propagating itself and monotonously re-performing this dull nonsense -- to what end? No wisdom can guess! Who gets a profit out of it? Nobody but a parcel of usurping little monarchs and nobilities who despise you; would feel defiled if you touched them; would shut the door in your face if you proposed to call; whom you slave for, fight for, die for, and are not ashamed of it, but proud; whose existence is a perpetual insult to you and you are afraid to resent it; who are mendicants supported by your alms, yet assume toward you the airs of benefactor toward beggar; who address you in the language of master to slave, and are answered in the language of slave to master; who are worshiped by you with your mouth, while in your heart -- if you have one -- you despise yourselves for it. The first man was a hypocrite and a coward, qualities which have not yet failed in his line; it is the foundation upon which all civilizations have been built. Drink to their perpetuation! Drink to their augmentation! Drink to --" Then he saw by our faces how much we were hurt, and he cut his sentence short and stopped chuckling, and his manner changed. He said, gently: "No, we will drink one another's health, and let civilization go."

III.

Satan was accustomed to say that our race lived a life of continuous and uninterrupted self-deception. It duped itself from cradle to grave with shams and delusions which it mistook for realities, and this made its entire life a sham. Of the score of fine qualities which it imagined it had and was vain of, it really possessed hardly one. It regarded itself as gold, and was only brass. One day when he was in this vein he mentioned a detail -- the sense of humor. I cheered up then, and took issue. I said we possessed it.

"There spoke the race!" he said; "always ready to claim what it hasn't got, and mistake its ounce of brass filings for a ton of gold-dust. You have a mongrel perception of humor, nothing more; a multitude of you possess that. This multitude see the comic side of a thousand low-grade and trivial things -- broad incongruities, mainly; grotesqueries, absurdities, evokers of the horse-laugh. The ten thousand high-grade comicalities which exist in the world are sealed from their dull vision. Will a day come when the race will detect the funniness of these juvenilities and laugh at them -- and by laughing at them destroy them? For your race, in its poverty, has unquestionably one really effective weapon -- laughter. Power, money, persuasion, supplication, persecution -- these can lift at a colossal humbug -- push it a little -- weaken it a little, century by century; but only laughter can blow it to rags and atoms at a blast. Against the assault of laughter nothing can stand. You are always fussing and fighting with your other weapons. Do you ever use that one? No; you leave it lying rusting. As a race, do you ever use it at all? No; you lack sense and the courage."

11 May 2009

Conservative Historian Andrew Bacevich Warns Against Obama’s Escalation of War in Afghanistan And Intensifying Use of Air Power in Region