The Economist: The Middle East. Algeria's Hostage Crisis

is a murky mess! Details of what happened at the remote but massive natural gas complex of In Amenas, in the Algerian Sahara, remain scanty. What is known, is that an armed band of jihadist fighters, believed to be from a group that calls itself the Signed in Blood Battalion, emerged out of the desert to raid the heavily guarded facility, which is jointly operated by BP, Norway's Statoil, and the Algerian state hydrocarbons giant, Sonatrach. Taking dozens of workers hostage, the raiders claimed to be acting in response to France's intervention in neighboring Mali, where fellow jihadists had threatened an advance on the capital, Bamako. Several workers were killed and wounded in the initial attack, but hundreds escaped. A rescue attempt of the captives by Algerian ground troops, backed by helicopters, released more hostages, but appears to have left an unknown number dead. Rebel sources claimed that 34 foreign workers had been killed. Algerian government spokesmen put the numbers at seven, with a dozen of their captors killed, too. Amid the confusion, some facts do stand out. This was, oddly enough considering that Algeria's regime has fought a life and death struggle against Islamist extremists for two decades, the first ever such attack on the energy infrastructure that keeps the country solvent. This suggests either a lapse in stringent security, or an emboldening of Islamist insurgents, whose reach has diminished markedly in the coastal regions, where 90% of Algerians live. In Amenas lies only 35km from the Libyan border. The rebel group, which is known to profit from the smuggling of Moroccan hashish and cigarettes, and whose one eyed leader is sometimes called Mr Marlboro, may have found still lawless Libya a useful refuge, as well as a source of arms and cash. The bad news is, that their ability to strike so boldly, is likely to spook the Western oil operators, who run facilities across the region. Governments are also likely to see this as a sign of the of the Sahel region's jihadists, loosely linked under the umbrella of Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), growing both stronger and better coordinated.       

The Economist: Political crisis in Pakistan. Sermon on the container.

From a base in converted shipping containers, placed on Islamabad's main thoroughfare, Tahir ul Qadri, a populist cleric who has been demanding changes to Pakistan's electoral system, delivered thunderous addresses all this week. Many saw the troubling influence of of Pakistan's powerful armed forces behind him. That may be why he felt able to make extraordinary demands on the government. Mr Qadri's demand for reforms reached far beyond the constitution, in the name of creating a "real democracy", and kicking out corrupt politicians. He led some 50,000 followers to Islamabad, including many women, who camped out in the capital, close to the parliament building. It was not so much a protest, as an occupation of Islamabad. They vowed not to move until their demands were met. The white bearded religious cleric, who heads a cult like but moderate Islamic organization, seemed to have unlimited funds available to him. He had been delivering deadlines for weeks to the government. On January 14th he had also declared that the government and its ministers were no longer in office, as they had been "dismissed" by him. On January 17th, he gave the government just 90 minutes to come to him and start negotiations. Ministers and other senior officials from the ruling coalition, which is led by the Pakistan Peoples Party, went rushing to his shipping container, which was kept raised above the crowd. After some five hours of talks there, a written agreement emerged that in its language and substance was Mr Qadri's agenda. There will now be a one month pre clearance of election candidates by the Election Commission, which is to probe their honesty, before they are allowed to stand. The agreement also gives Mr Qadri's organization a say in the appointment of the caretaker prime minister, who is required by the constitution to oversee the election period. Mr Qadri had also called for the Election Commission to be reconstituted. This too is to be considered at further negotiations, which will be held at the headquarters of Mr Qadri's outfit. No date has been announced for the election, but there is an undertaking now from the government to wind itself up before its five year term ends, on March 16th. In all, this hardly shortens the government's period in office.   

Gordon Duff: Europe Criminalizes Freedom of Speech

Israeli Witch Hunt cripples Freedom of speech and ICC. Israel had already moved yo have their "hasbara assets" silence Press TV in Europe and elsewhere, all attempts of damage control after their defeat in Gaza and, of course, their ties to Sandy Hook. Since the nearly unanimous United Nations vote to recognize Palestine as a free state, Israel has marshaled its political resources in Europe and elsewhere to criminalize moves against Israel, particularly in the International Criminal Court. Recent frightening revelations that occupants of a Mossad "safe house" in the exclusive Greenwich Village neighborhood of New York were involved, not just in the Sandy Hook terrorist attack, but in trying to avert blame to neo Nazi groups, has become a disaster for Israel. This is only the most recent bombshell. With Palestine now able to seek redress for war crimes by Israel in the International Criminal Court at The Hague, Israel is seeking to silence all dissent, Palestinian and otherwise, that would aid in their prosecution. Israel had already moved to have their "hasbara assets" silence Press TV in Europe and elsewhere, all attempts at damage control after their defeat in Gaza and, of course, their ties to Sandy Hook. Direct moves within most EU nations, particularly Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands along with pressure in Switzerland and Canada, aided by attempts to pass new "silencing" laws in the United States, are intended to end future moves against Israel. For instance, Germany is now ready to prosecute anyone, lawyers, diplomats, journalists or professors, anyone who speaks or publishes any information critical of Israel. It is now a crime in Germany to edit documents, even those presented to the United Nations or the International Criminal Court, if those documents contain evidence of Israeli crimes. Lawyers representing the Palestinian Authority, who have been tasked with preparing criminal charges against Israel for recent violations of Palestinian sovereignty tied to Netanyahu's new "settlements" in now recognized Palestine, face imprisonment. We have evidence that editors, translators and even computer technicians face prosecution, including, but not limited to employees of both the United Nations and the International Criminal Court. There is a long history of persecution of those who have challenged the historical narrative of the Holocaust. Hundreds of scholars, their attorneys, and even journalists have been jailed for as long as fifteen years for failing to follow the letter of what has become "victimization dogma." Thousands more have been removed from teaching positions, fired from newspapers and other media outlets, or have been subjected to travel restrictions and police state surveillance. More still have been harassed, subjected to detention, eve torture, for supporting "historical revisionism." 

Gordon Duff: Israeli Witch Hunt cripples Freedom of Speech


Tom Dispatch: Jonathan Schell. Seeing the Reality of the Vietnam War

50 Years Late. Forty six years ago, in January 1966, Jonathan Schell, a 23 year old not quite journalist, found himself at the farming village of Ben Suc, 30 miles from the South Vietnamese capital of Saigon. It had long been supportive of the Vietcong. Now, in what was dubbed Operation Cedar Falls, the US military, with Schell in tow, launched an operation to solve that problem. The "solution" was typical of how Americans fought the Vietnam War. All the village's 3,500 inhabitants were to be removed to a squalid refugee camp, and Ben Suc itself simply obliterated, every trace of the place for all time. Shell's remarkable and remarkably blunt observations on this grim operation were, no less remarkably, published in the New Yorker magazine, and then as a book, causing a stir in a country where anti war sentiment was growing fast. In 1967, Schell returned to Vietnam, and spent weeks in the northern part of the country watching from the backseats of tiny US forward air control planes as parts of two provinces were quite literally blown away, house by house, village by village, an experience he recalls in today's Tom Dispatch post. From that came another New Yorker piece, and then a book, The Military Half, which offered an unmatched journalistic vision of what the Vietnam War looked like. It was a moment well captured in a mocking song one of the American pilots sang for him after an operation in which he had called in bombs on two Vietnamese churches, but somehow missed the white flag in front of them. Once upon a time, I was also in Vietnam, as an adviser to a military unit north of Kontum, and finally in Trung Lap, in the heart of the so-called Iron Triangle, just a few kilometers from Saigon, and my book is now available from Trafford, and I had it published there, to persuade more Americans to end all of our ridiculous wars, for the sake of our people. It opens with one of my poems: About war much has been written. More must yet be said by those who saw them die, so that the dead may rest, and sight be gained, to see war for what it was, and is. War is not fighting, though fighting's what we see, nor is it death, for death is but it's end. It is the rancor of disunited hearts, the death of love, the end of hope. The war around us echoes in our hearts and grants it life. Once, mortals dared to tame this ancient beast, and yet it thrives. Each age must fight this force again, or pay its price.     

Gordon Duff: Obama Gun Address Misses Real Terrorism Threat!

Military Sources Confirm Sandy Hook Suspected Foreign Terrorist Attack. Despite attempts to blame a seemingly endless group of lunatic mass murderers for the equally endless number of devastating mass killings now plaguing the United States, out government, our "protectors" and, most damnably, our president, are failing to react to real terror attacks that are becoming an almost daily occurrence. Ambassador Susan Rice was "sacrificed" for failing to cite the Benghazi attack as terrorism. However, when something worse, when a dozen "somethings worse" happens, not in North Africa, but here at home, our schools, movie theaters, military bases, college campuses, the use of the term "terrorism" is forbidden. Why? The answer is simple, the answer is painful, the answer challenges our oligarchical criminal elite, the masters of our masters, as it were. America has a real war on terror, one that we are losing, one based, not on Islam or politics, but rather economics and fear. Terrorism is about fear, as Frank Herbert, author of "Dune" had told us decades ago: "Fear is the mind killer." When we are afraid, and our minds are dead. Thus, we have allowed very real foreign death squads to murder our children, and we play our parts like dogs lapping up vomit. Discussions with members of the senior military community, operations and intelligence personnel, regarding Sandy Hook, and other recent "lone gunman events" has led to startling revelations. Fear can totally immobilize you, yet using it as a weapon is not a crime. The US Army has recognized a pattern of terrorist activity in several of the recent mass shootings, based on timing, type of target, control of media, lost evidence, poor investigations, a pattern that shows signs of the involvement of a military type operation against "soft targets" in the US. Sandy Hook, we are told, is a total failure as an "false flag" terror attack, having left too many "loose threads." Some are listed in the video below. In truth, there are hundreds: Initial suspicions led investigators to extremist groups in the US, the National Socialist Movement, the US Border Patrol and the Hutarees. However, investigations found these groups to be both almost entirely inactive or with a majority of members FBI informants.        

Colonel Eugene Khrushchev: Between Bullocks & Chickenhawks!

Despite the monumental snow job by the White House to carefully craft and spin the image of the US president as cerebral & aloof 'no drama Obama', his modus operandi has generated a pileup of smoldering snafus in domestic & foreign policy. The dolorous drama for Obama was, that 'hiding from behind', he outsourced his presidential prerogatives in word affairs to Clinton clan consiglieres and bushwhacking Tampa centric generals. But that was then, and it's never again! The three musketeers. The White House nominations of John Kerry followed by John Brennan and Chuck Hagel to man the State Department, CIA & DOD, if they survive piranha pack PR attack and sail unharmed through Congress crucible, would be nifty tour de force to install US foreign policy tight triumvirate. In the ensuing fracas around the candidates for top posts at Langley and the Pentagon, the question - who pulled it off, POTUS or Veep, is not as obvious as it might seem to be. The king and the cardinal. Yes, Barak Obama brought Joe Biden on board, but it was The Bidenator who had the prescience and cojones to fight an uphill battle against the surge malarkey in favor of counter terrorism light footprint in Pakistan & Afghanistan. Back then it was a forlorn solo mission: Ol' Joe was ridiculed by Coindinistas, and sidelined by the rookie Appeaser in chief who, after 3 months of sit on the pants 'analysis', caved in and, to avoid the accusations of being soft on defense, tripled US boots on the ground in the 'war of necessity' in Afghanistan. Obama's aversion to military escalation was palpable even before he moved to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, but that decision, contrary to his instincts could be explained if not justified on 2 grounds: It grated the top brass the last chance to play & prove the COIN remake. The evolving Commander in chief got enough breathing space and political clout to come up with his Plan B for tactical or even strategic adjustment of US power projection.   


Gordon Duff: Chuck Hagel: "Palestine in Chains"!

Secretary of Defense and likely new President. The video below is the kind of straight talk Americans haven't heard since the murder of John F Kennedy, not from Americans at least. For the staff here at Veterans Today, those who know war like Hegel does, real war, not 'fatass Pentagon war" but the real thing, his clear language, the language the Times of Israel seems to hate is music to our ears. Hagel is "one of us." He puts America first, not Wall Street or Tel Aviv. He has survived the test, served among the serpents in congress and seems to retain his courage. We will see. The video has Hagel referring to Palestinians as "living in chains," and explains that terrorism is a tactic to deliver freedom to those who have denied it. Every real American knows that, we are a nation built on terrorism. It is where our freedom comes from, just as Hagel describes terrorism as a way of delivering freedom. It's time more people carefully listened to his words. America will survive no other way. Thus far, we see Hagel as the only viable candidate for president in 2016. A lot can happen between now and then, a lot of "Sandy Hook" terror attacks. The American people have suffered the tyranny of organized crime long enough. We would rather vote it in than "tear it down," piece by piece, but tear it down we will, if it comes to that. I only hope we have grown up enough to understand that our enemies are not of a race or religion or ethnicity. Our enemies are not of a sexual preference, or even an economic class. We are down to simple "good vs bad." The good will rule and the bad will leave or die.   

Stephen Lendman: Obama: Money Power's Point Man!

Throughout his tenure, Obama's done what supporters thought impossible. He's governed to the right of George Bush. He mocks rule of law principles and other democratic values. He prioritizes wars on humanity. He's waging multiple direct and proxy ones. War on terror subterfuge disguises them. He plans more. He's sending US special forces to 35 African countries. They already infest most others. CIA elements operate everywhere. They come to destabilize and disrupt, not help. France attacked Mali. Obama offered support. Ravaging another and another northern African country is planned. Expect others to follow. Obama prioritizes replacing independent governments with pro Western puppet ones. He mocks legitimate governance. He challenges Russia's military strength. He targets China's growing economic might. At the same time, he's in bed with rogue Israeli governance. He supports some of the most ruthless corrupt tyrants. He's economically and socially destructive at home. He spurns popular interests. He looted the nation's wealth. He wrecked the economy. He consigned growing millions to impoverishment without jobs. He institutionalized tyranny. He targets dissenters. Challenging political corruption, corporate crooks, or abuse of power lawlessness endangers anyone who tries. He's a con man. After all the harm he caused, half the country still supports him. He gets away with murder and much more. Most people haven't a clue. They're out of touch. They don't understand what harms them. They ignore their own welfare. Some, perhaps don't care. Others are dismissive. They know more about bread and circuses than vital major issues to address. Obama takes full advantage. He governs lawlessly. He's in bed with corrupted monied interests. They own him. He plans throwing most Americans under the bus. It's his scheme to give them more. America is more hypocrisy than democracy. Obama is money power's point man. He takes orders and salutes. He prioritizes destroying America's social contract. Domestic budget cuts will be made on the backs of ordinary people. On January 14, he did what he does best. He lied. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward. In the White House East Room, he held his final first term press conference. Duplicity substituted for truth.  

Stephen Lendman: Internet Freedom and Copyright Reform:

Aaron Swartz's Suspicious Death: The Wall Street Journal headlined "An Internet Activist Commits Suicide." New York's medical examiner announced death by "hanging himself in his Brooklyn apartment." Lingering suspicions remain. Why would someone with so much to give end it all this way? He was one of the Internet generation's best and brightest. He advocated online freedom. Selflessly he sought a better open world. Information should be freely available, he believed. A legion of followers supported him globally. Alive he symbolized a vital struggle to pursue. Death may elevate him to martyr status, but removes a key figure important to keep alive. The New York Times headlined "Internet Activist, a Creator of RSS, is Dead at 26, Apparently a Suicide." He was an Internet folk hero. He supported online freedom and copyright reform. He advocated free and open web files. He championed a vital cause. He worked tirelessly for what's right. Internet Archive founder Brewster Kahle called him "steadfast in his dedication to building a better and open world. He is among the best spirits of the Internet generation." Who'll replace him, now that he's gone? He called locking up the public domain sinful. He selflessly strove to prevent it. In July 2011, he was arrested. At the time, he was downloading old scholarly articles. He was charged with violating federal hacking laws. MIT gave him a guest account to do it. He developed RSS and co-founded Reddit. It's a social news site. He was found dead weeks before he was scheduled to stand trial. He was targeted for doing the right thing. He didn't steal or profit. He shared. His activism was more than words. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) defends online freedom, free speech, privacy, innovation, and consumer rights It "champions the public interest in every critical battle affecting digital rights." On January 12, it headlined "Farewell to Aaron Swartz, an extraordinary hacker and activist." It called him "a close friend and collaborator." Tragedy ended his life. Vital questions remain unanswered. Supporters demand answers. So do family members. They blame prosecutors for what happened.  


Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast

Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the fatwa religious decree issued by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the prohibition of nuclear weapons is binding for Iran. "There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwa," Mehmanparast said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. When the Leader expresses his religious viewpoint in the form of a fatwa, it will be mandatory for us to act according to it, he added. On February 22, 2012, Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons a grave sin, from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint: Mehmanparast concluded, "This fatwa is our operational instruction." The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non  civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. Iran argues that, as a committed signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Iran P5+1 talks: Referring to the talks between Iran and the P5+1, Britain, China, France, Russia and the US plus Germany, Mehmanparast said both sides had reached an agreement on the date of the negotiations. The Iranian official added that the agreement had been reached during a phone conversation between EU's Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid and Undersecretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Baqeri on Monday. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, however, did not mention the date of the next round of the talks.

Jon Wiener: Ike's Dream, Obama's Reality!

It's hard, so many decades later, to make my way back to my Cold War youth, that time when history of humanity was, as LIFE magazine so classically put it,"The Epic of Man." But hey, that was the era when we still thought dinosaurs were lumbering beasts, an electric typewriter was the leading edge of high tech, and if, like my wife, you happened to live in El Paso, Texas, in the early 1950's, your TV set had nothing on it, because the signal for the programs had yet to make it over the mountains. It was also, in some ways, the most nightmarish of times. The old school fire drill had, by then, morphed into a "duck and cover" exercise. You dove under your desk in a crouch, covering your head with your hands and arms, while sirens screamed outside. You were, of course, practicing for the end times, the moment when a Soviet nuclear weapon obliterated your city. Under the circumstances, your hands and that none too sturdy desk weren't the most reassuring of safety nets, but like all kids, I didn't really live in the worst or best times, I lived in the only time there was, the only time imaginable, and the only place there could be, which happened, in my case, to be New York City. Still, in a world then brimming with wealth, but also riddled with barely expressed fear, there were some especially grim moments to remember. In October 1962, for instance, John F Kennedy went on TV and the radio to announce the presence of Soviet nuclear arms in Cuba, and say that we risked "the costs of worldwide nuclear war, in which even the fruits of victory would be ashes in our mouth, but neither will we shrink from the risk at any time it must be faced." Listening, 18 year old Tom Engelhardt feared that nuclear destruction was upon us, that we on the East Coast were toast, and that it had all somehow happened before life had even begun. Later in the 1960's, as the Vietnam War raged, I came to believe that we Americans were barbarians, and wondered whether that war and the world that went with it would ever end. Still, even then, young and old alike lived with a kind of optimism as well, a typically can do American attitude, a sense of lurking hope, undoubtedly based at least in part on the globally dominant position of the country we all inhabited.  

Ben Schreiner: Mali and the Scramble for Africa!

The French military intervention into Mali on Friday, Frances second in as many years into a former African colony was reportedly seconded by the United States. This ought to come as no great surprise, given the Pentagon's deepening penetration into Africa. According to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), the Pentagon plans on deploying soldiers to 35 different African countries in 2013. As NPR reports, upwards of 4,000 US soldiers will take part in military exercises and train African troops on everything from logistics and marksmanship to medical care. The Malian Army officer responsible for the country's March coup just so happened to have received US military training. Of course, the US military already has a significant on the ground presence in Africa. For instance, the busiest Predator drone base outside of the Afghan war zone with 16 drone flights a day is located at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti. But as the Army Times notes, the region in many ways remains the Army's last frontier, and in order to satiate the US appetite for global "power projection," no frontiers are to be left unconquered. Thus, as a June report in the Washington Post revealed, the preliminary tentacles of the US military already extend across Africa. As the paper reported, US surveillance planes are currently operating out of clandestine bases in Burkina Faso, Mauritania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Djibouti, and Kenya, with plans afoot to open a new base in South Sudan. The Post reported further that the Pentagon is spending $8.1 million to upgrade a forward operating base and airstrip in Mauritania, on the western edge of the Sahara. The base is near the border with strife torn Mali. With such assets already in place, the Pentagon was in position to not only second France's intervention into Mali, but as the New York Times reported, to weigh a broad range of options to support the French effort, including enhanced intelligence sharing and logistics support. Illuminating what such US support may come to eventually look like in Mali, J. Peter Pham, director of the Atlantic Council's Africa Center in Washington and a senior strategy advisor to AFRICOM, commented: "Drone strikes or airstrikes will not restore Mali's territorial integrity or defeat the Islamists, but they may be the least bad option."

Gordon Duff: Leader's Fatwa on Nuclear Weapons

binding for Iran: Foreign Ministry. "There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwa." Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehman parast. Iran's Foreign Ministry Spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast says the fatwa issued by the leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei on the prohibition of nuclear weapons binding for Iran. "There is nothing more important in defining the framework for our nuclear activities than the Leader's fatwa," Mehmanparast said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. When the Leader expresses his religious viewpoint in the form of a fatwa," Mehmanparast said during his weekly press conference on Tuesday. When the Leader expresses his religious viewpoint in the form of a fatwa, it will be mandatory for us to act on it, he added. On February 22, 2012, Ayatollah Khamenei said the Islamic Republic considers the pursuit and possession of nuclear weapons "a grave sin" from every logical, religious and theoretical standpoint. Mehmanparast concluded, "This fatwa is our operational instruction." The United States, Israel and some of their allies have repeatedly accused Iran of pursuing non civilian objectives in its nuclear energy program. Iran argues that as a committed signatory to the Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), it is entitled to develop and acquire nuclear technology for peaceful purposes. Referring to the talks between Iran and the P5+1, (Britain, China, France, Russia, and the US plus Germany), Mehmanparast said both sides had reached an agreement on the date of the negotiations. The Iranian official added that the agreement had been reached during a phone conversation between EU's Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs Helga Schmid and Undersecretary of Iran's Supreme National Security Council Ali Baqeri on Monday. The Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman, however, did not mention the date of the next round of the talks. "The deputy of EU foreign policy chief Mrs Catherine Ashton is expected to inform us of the P5+1 response about the venue of the talks, so that we could resume the negotiations," he added. Iran and the P5+1 have held several rounds of multifaceted talks, mainly over Iran's nuclear energy program.


Chris Hedges: The Myth of Human Progress!

Clive Hamilton, in his "Requiem for a Species: Why We Resist the Truth About Climate Change" describes a dark relief that comes from accepting that "catastrophic climate change is virtually certain." This obliteration of "false hopes," he says, requires an intellectual knowledge and an emotional knowledge. The first is attainable. The second, because it means that those we love, including our children, are almost certainly doomed to insecurity, misery and suffering within a few decades, if not a few years, is much harder to acquire. To emotionally accept impending disaster, to attain the gut level understanding that the power elite will not respond rationally to the devastation of the ecosystem, is as difficult to accept as our own mortality. The most daunting existential struggle of our time is to ingest this awful truth, intellectually and emotionally, and continue to resist the forces that are destroying us. The human species, led by white Europeans and Euro Americans, has been on a 500 year long planet wide rampage of conquering, plundering, looting, exploiting and polluting the Earth, as well as killing the indigenous communities that stood in the way. But the game is up. The technical and scientific forces that created a life of unparalleled luxury, as well as unrivaled military and economic power, for the industrial elites, are the forces that now doom us. The mania for ceaseless economic expansion and exploitation has become a curse, a death sentence. But even as our economic and environmental systems unravel, after the hottest year in the contiguous 48 states, since record keeping began 107 years ago, we lack the emotional and intellectual creativity to shut down the engine of global capitalism. We have bound ourselves to a doomsday machine that grinds forward, as the draft report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee illustrates. Complex civilizations have a bad habit of destroying themselves. Anthropologists, including Joseph Tainter in "The Collapse of Complex Societies, Charles L Redman in "Human Impact on Ancient Environments", and Ronald Wright in "A Short History of Progress" have laid out the familiar patterns that lead to systems breakdown. The difference this time is that when we go down, the whole planet will go with us. There will, with this final collapse, be no new lands left to exploit, no new civilizations to conquer, no new civilizations to conquer, no new people to subjugate. The long struggle between the human species and the Earth will conclude with the remnants of the human species learning a painful lesson about unrestrained greed and self worship.

Bill Blum: Obama Is Right on the Debt Ceiling!

The entire artificial crisis over the national debt ceiling threatens to tank the world economy as early as the middle of next month. According to the Obama Administration, there is nothing the president can do on his own to raise the ceiling or maneuver around it. As much as some of us may disagree, Obama is correct. Here is why: Since the enactment of the Second Liberty Bond Act in 1917, federal law has required Congress to set a ceiling on the amount of debt the country can carry at a given time to finance its operations, and pay the interest on bonds previously issued. Until the tea party takeover of the House of Representatives in the 2010 midterm elections, Congress had raised the ceiling 106 times, usually as a matter of routine, to prevent the country from falling into default. But no more. This time, even more vehemently than in 2011, Republican hard liners in both the House and Senate, have vowed not to lift the ceiling, without unprecedented cuts to the social safety net. So, unless Obama caves in to Republican demands, which is always a possibility, what are his best go it alone options? To date, three principal strategies have been floated: (1) relying on the public debt clause of the 14th Amendment. (2) invoking an obscure "necessities of state" doctrine, and minting a trillion dollar platinum coin. Each is a clever concept worthy of an "A" in the toughest law school. None, however, stands a chance of succeeding outside the halls of academia, the op ed pages of leading newspapers, or the echo chamber of the Internet. The 14th Amendment's Public Debt Clause: The public debt clause (Section 4) of the 14th Amendment states that "the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law shall not be questioned." Debt clause proponents, including former President Bill Clinton, congressional leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, Nation magazine editor Katrina van den Heuvel, and constitutional scholars Garrett Epps of Baltimore University, and Yale's Jack Balkin, contend that if Congress declines to raise the debt ceiling, the clause authorizes the president to ignore the ceiling and order the Treasury to issue additional debt to pay both its bondholders and fund existing programs.  

Felicity Arbuthnot: The Age of the Siege: Nazi

Military Tactics Revisited: Disengage, avoid, and withhold support from whatever abuses, degrades and humiliates humanity. (Alice Walker, born 1944). Former Danish PM and Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, "Du har blod pa dine haender" ("You have blood on your hands"), Danish protester, 2003. The siege of Leningrad is still considered the most lethal siege in world history, a shocking racially motivated starvation policy, described as an integral part of Nazi policy in the Soviet Union during World War II. The 872 day siege began on 8th September 1941 and was finally broken on 27th January 1944. It is described as one of the longest and most destructive sieges in history, and overwhelmingly the most costly in casualties. Some historians cite it as a genocide. Due to record keeping complexities, the exact number of deaths resultant from the blockades deprivations are uncertain. Figures range from 632,000 to 1.5 million. Sieges now extend to entire countries, they have become the torture before the destruction. They are not counted in long days, but in long years. Ironically the disparity in the deaths in Iraq resultant from that siege, mirror near exactly what was considered genocide in Leningrad. Syria has been subject to EU restrictions since 2011, ever more strangulating, with near every kind of financial transaction made impossible by May 2011, when restrictions were also placed on President Assad himself, all senior government officials, senior security and armed forces Heads. The list of that denied is dizzying. By February 2012, assets of individuals were frozen, as those of the Central Bank of Syria. Cargo flights by Syrian carriers to the EU were also barred, as was trade in gold, precious metals and diamonds. Anything which might translate into hard cash, without which neither individuals or countries can purchase the most basic essentials. By July 2012, Syrian Arab Airlines and even Syria's Cotton Marketing Organization had joined the EU's victims.   


Colin Todhunter: The Cancer Cash Cycle. The Causes of Cancer

and ill health. Cancer is big business. Despite massive public screening campaigns and talk of cures, cancer rates continue to soar, and certain companies not only profit from making the chemicals that cause cancer, but also from selling the drugs that treat it. The 2010 documentary 'Cut, Poison, Burn' provides revealing insight into the medical monopoly of cancer treatment, as a four year old boy who was diagnosed with brain cancer was compelled to undergo a system of chemo, surgery and radiation, against his parent's wishes. He was not allowed access to a proven method of alternative treatment. The medical system's response was callous. The authorities threatened to take the boy into custody, and charged his parents with child abuse, if the medical option was not opted for. The boy's death certificate states his cause of death as: "respiratory failure due to chronic toxicity of chemotherapy". It is easy to conclude after watching the film, that what we have here is some kind of corrupt racket. Indeed, the 2009 documentary 'The Idiot Cycle' alleges that some of the world's top cancer causing culprits (including, it is claimed in the film, Bayer, BASF, Dow, Dupont, Monsanto, Syngenta, Novartis, Pfizer, among others), are allegedly profiting from the production of cancer causing products, and then some of the same companies are investing in profitable cancer 'treatments'. These claims outlined in the movie remain to be fully verified. On top of this, some of these companies are now developing genetically modified crops, which have never been adequately tested for long term health impacts like cancer. The onset of the disease is frequently 15 to 20 years down the road for victims. Prior to undertaking his recent study into the health impacts of GMOs, and incurring the wrath of the GMO sector for his findings, Gilles Eric Seralini, professor of molecular biology at the University of Caen in France, said it was absurd that only three months of testing allowed GM corn to be approved in over a dozen nations. Upon reviewing Monsanto's raw data, he and his team found, among other problems, liver damage and physiological changes into a pre-diabetic condition among the rats which had eaten Monsanto's GM corn, and that is just from three months of eating such food.  

Dr. Kevin Barrett: Conspiracy theories: A modest proposal

by Sass Cuntstein, Information Czar and Constitutional Scholar Extraordinaire. In my previous article "Conspiracy Theories: Causes and Cures," I argued that conspiracies, especially the ones that are not true, pose a growing threat to Western civilization in general, and to people like me in particular. I pointed out that since  9/11, a veritable tsunami of conspiracy theories has been racing toward the American shore, threatening to wash away everything we have accomplished. Clearly, something must be done. My earlier article, published in the Journal of Political Philosophy, proposed a number of remedies for the conspiracy disease. I argued that some day, the government might have to ban conspiracy theories. Yes, I now realize I may have overlooked a minor matter called the "First Amendment", but we Constitutional scholars cannot be expected to remember every little detail we learned in k law school, can we? I also recommended that the government should immediately begin to "cognitively infiltrate" conspiracy groups, in order to disrupt them with "beneficial cognitive diversity." But wouldn't you know it, those paranoid conspiracy theorists imagined that I was proposing that the government conspire against them! What is it about "cognitive infiltration" and "beneficial cognitive diversity" that these people don't understand? The conspiracy theorists also had a field day with my assertion that the government ought to "disable the purveyors of conspiracy theories." In their paranoid fantasies, they imagined that I somehow meant them harm. Nothing could be further from the truth! I most certainly do not want to harm the purveyors of conspiracy theories. I want to kill them! Bwa-ha-ha-ha ha! The critics of my earlier article were right about one thing: I did not always make my meaning clear in simple, plain English. I wrote that way for a couple of reasons. First, I chose to publish it in a prestigious law review, and we all know that the only way to get published in academic journals is to dilute your prose with a lot of indecipherable gobbledegook. But more important, I chose to write it in code, as my mentor Leo Strauss always insisted. Since the truth is too dangerous for the masses, one should always write at two levels.

Dr. Kevin Barrett: Is Obama killing "kill list" critics?

Aaron Swartz, a prominent info warrior and critic of Obama's "kill list," was found dead in New York Friday. As with so many free-masonic associations, including that of "DC Madam" Deborah Jean Palfrey, Swartz was hanged. Naturally the police are calling it suicide. Swartz' death raises the obvious question: Can you criticize Obama's barbarian, unconstitutional "kill list" without ending up on it yourself? My earlier article "Disable the purveyors": Is US secretly liquidating dissidents? suggested that the US government "kill list" may include domestic dissidents, as well as foreign opponents of US policy. But hey, I'm a reasonable, moderate guy. I'm not necessarily against all "kill lists." In fact, I would love to see someone compile a list of everyone involved in the "kill list" program, from the top of the command chain, down to the lowliest drone operator, and (remainder of sentence deleted for reasons of National Security). But the problem with Obama's kill list is that it is targeting good people like Aaron Swartz, not bad people. The bad people are the ones running the kill list. They are the ones who should be (remainder of sentence deleted for reasons of National Security). So let me hereby state that I am not only an inveterate opponent of Obama's kill list, I am so angry about it that I would support putting an end to it by any means, including (remainder of sentence deleted for reasons of National Security). So shoot me. Please note that I'm a practicing Muslim, so suicide is out of the question. Anyone who participates or co operates in any way with Obama's "kill list" is a traitor to the Constitution of the United States, which states that no one may be deprived of life, liberty or property without due process of law. Therefore, anyone who participates or co operates in any way with Obama's "kill list" ought to be (remainder of sentence deleted for reasons of National Security). Maybe if we just put all kill lists on a kill list, and killed them all off, we would finally have a world where good people could just mind their own business in peace.  


Mike Stobbe: Flu Season Strikes Early, and in some places hard.

AP Medical Writer (New York AP) From the Rocky Mountains to New England, hospitals are swamped with people with flu symptoms. Some medical centers are turning away visitors, or making them wear face masks, and one Pennsylvania hospital set up a tent outside its ER to deal with the feverish patients. Flu season in the US has struck early and, in many places, hard. While flu normally doesn't blanket the country until late January or February, it is already widespread in more than 40 states, with about 30 of them reporting some major hot spots. On Thursday, health blamed the flu for the deaths of 20 children so far. Whether this will be considered a bad season by the time it has run its course in the spring remains to be seen. "Those of us with gray hair have seen worse," said Dr William Schaffner, a flu expert at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. The evidence so far points to a moderate season, Schaffner and others say. It looks bad in part because last year was unusually mild, and because the main strain of influenza circulating this year tends to make people sicker and really lay them low. David Smythe of New York City saw it happen to his 50 year old girlfriend, who has been knocked out for about two weeks. "She's been in bed. She can't even get up," he said. Also, the flu's early arrival coincided with spikes in a variety of other viruses, including a childhood malady that mimics flu, and a new norovirus that causes vomiting and diarrhea, or what is commonly known as "stomach flu." So what people are calling the flu may, in fact, be something else. "There may be more of an overlap than we normally see," said Dr Joseph Bresee, who tracks the flu for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Most people don't undergo lab tests to confirm flu, and the symptoms are so similar that it can be hard to distinguish flu from other viruses, or even a cold. Over the holidays, 250 people were sickened at a Mormon missionary training center in Utah, but the culprit turned out to be a noro-virus, not the flu.    

Marjorie Cohn: "Zero Dark Thirty" Torturing the Facts!

On January 11, eleven years to the day after George W. Bush sent the first detainees to Guantanamo, the Oscar nominated film Zero Dark Thirty is making its national debut. Zero Dark Thirty is disturbing for two reasons: First and foremost, it leaves the viewer with the erroneous impression that torture helped the CIA find bin "Ladens" hiding place in Pakistan. Second, it ignores both the illegality and immorality of using torture as an interrogation tool. The thriller opens with the words "based on fist hand accounts of actual events. After showing footage of the horrific 9/11 attacks, it moves into a graphic and lengthy depiction of torture. The detained Ammar is subjected to water-boarding, stress positions, sleep deprivation, and confined in a small box. Responding to the torture, he divulges the name of the courier, who ultimately leads the CIA to bin Ladens location and assassination. It may be good theater, but it is inaccurate and misleading. The statement based on first hand accounts of actual events is deceptive, because it causes the viewer think the story is accurate. All it really means, however, is that the CIA provided Hollywood with information about events depicted in the movie. Acting CIA Director Michael Morrell wrote a letter to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, in which he admitted the CIA engaged extensively with the filmmakers. After receiving his letter, Senators John McCain, Dianne Feinstein and Carl Levin requested information and documents related to the CIA's cooperation. The senators sent a letter to Morrell, saying they were concerned by the film's clear implication, that information obtained during or after the use of the CIA's coercive interrogation techniques, played a critical role in locating Usama Bin Laden (UBL). They noted the film depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees. The film then credits CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques, as providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the UBL compound. They state categorically: This information is incorrect.     

Bob Johnson: Applying Philosophy to Hagel's Comments

on Israel. Obama's nominee to be the new Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, is causing a lot of politicians and Israel firsters to be upset. Two comments Hagel made, seem to focus the most hatred on him. One statement was,"I'm not an Israeli senator. I'm a United States senator. I support Israel, but my first interest is, I take an oath of office to the Constitution of the United States, not to a president, not to a party, not to Israel." The second statement the Israel firster's find offensive is,"The Jewish lobby intimidates a lot of people. I've always argued against some of the dumb things they do, because I don't think it's in the interest of Israel."The first rule of philosophy is to see things as they really are, so we can arrive at the truth. Objectively and honestly looking at Hagel's first statement above, shows Hagel to be 100% correct. He was at the time of the statement (2006) a senator, and not an Israeli senator. His statement that he supports Israel seems to be true, in that he voted for a war in which thousands of Americans and over a hundred of thousand of Iraqis were wounded and killed, and which cost American tax payers to date well over $810 Billion. The only beneficiary of the Iraq war is the Jewish state of Israel. His oath of office is to the Constitution of the United States, and not to a president, a party or to Israel. However, if he really truly did take his oath seriously, he never would have voted to start an unnecessary war against Iraq. His second statement is factually wrong, in that it is not "the Jewish lobby" but it is "the Israel lobby" that has US politicians from both parties running scared. Not all Jews promote US politicians blindly supporting Israel in its bloody aggression against its neighbors at the expense of Americans. His motivation for arguing against "the dumb things" the Israel lobby does is not because he cares about America and Americans, but because the dumb things the Israel lobby promotes, he does not think are in the best interests of Israel. The world jewish daily.com seems to think that Hagel's chances of winning approval from the Senate rests with the Jewish senator Chuck Schumer. Schumer is a rabid war monger and Israel firster, who actually said he wants to "strangle" them for voting the way they did, when they voted overwhelmingly in elections with international observers for Hamas in Gaza.