A ready made sensation: Marcel Duchamp, a French artist credited with inventing conceptual art, was in his late 50s when he met John Cage, a composer, and Merce Cunningham, a choreographer, in New York. Duchamp had fled the war in France, and turned to playing chess. Cage and Cunningham were a generation younger, partners in love and work, experimentation and movement. Still, the impact of the elder artist on the pair, and then on their painter friends Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns, was profound. It had been 30 years since Duchamp had taken a porcelain urinal and called it art. Yet the 1950s avant garde circle found in him a kindred spirit, one whose radical ideas about the art of the everyday, stimulated and informed their own disciplines. An unusual exhibit celebrating this web of artistic exchange, has now arrived at London's Barbican Center, after an acclaimed premiere at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. "The Bride and the Bachelors: Duchamp with Cage, Cunningham, Rauschenberg and Johns" could have been an overwhelming proposition. Instead it is an elegant and accessible balancing act. The open main floor and mezzanine balconies of the Barbican gallery give ample breathing space to this ambitious show, centered around a small white stage and Duchamp's curious 1923 magnum opus. "The Bride Stripped Bareby her Bachelors, Even Black clad dancers move across the stage like single notes, or freeze in couplets, performing extracts from Cunningham's dance repertory. Two pianos start up automatically, playing Cage's 1947 composition "Music for Marcel Duchamp". Johns's stage sets for the Merce Cunningham Dance Company sway above, their imagery derived from the enigmatic "Bride" sculpture, while a Rauschenberg prop involving bicycle tires and chairs is ranged along the side. Along the walls, pieces by Duchamp, Rauschenberg and Johns engage in endless dialogue. The show is less a static exhibit than a flowing interplay of movement, sight and sound. It is conceived as "an unfolding dance, including the artists in different combinations at different moments, and extending over time," says Carlos Basualdo, the curator. This aptly captures Duchamp's contribution to the definition of art. He rejected "retinal" art, art addressed exclusively to the eye, in favor of what he called "art at the service of the mind."
Worrying about the threats posed by space rocks has traditionally been the preserve of the paranoid. No one doubts that asteroids have hit Earth in the past, with nasty consequences, but because the chances of any such happening in a given year are so low, most people have been content to ignore the risk. Today, however, a meteor was seen streaking through the sky above Yekaterinberg in Russia. It hit the ground, possibly landing in a lake, near another city, Chelyablinsk. It is thought to be the biggest meteor to hit earth in more than a century. The shock wave it caused as it passed overhead, blew out windows and injured hundreds of people. Also today, a 50 meter wide asteroid called 2012 DA 14 is zipping past Earth inside the orbit of some man made satellites, marking the closest shave on record for an asteroid of that size. The pair of unrelated events ought to focus minds, and not just among the small group of astronomers who have been worrying about asteroid strikes for many years. The first line of defense, as always, is knowing your enemy. To that end NASA, America's space agency, has been watching the sky since 1998, trying to detect any chunks of rock whose orbits bring them close to the Earth. These rocks are known as near Earth objects (NEOs). The agency reckons it has now tracked down around 90% of the very biggest NEOs, the "Planet Killers" a kilometer or more across. The asteroid that wiped out the dinosaurs is estimated to have been 7-10km across. These heavyweights account for around 10% of the 10,000 or so known NEOs. Most, like 2012 DA 14, are smaller. This makes them less dangerous, though they would still do a lot of damage, if they were to hit a town or city. It also makes them harder to spot. This week's events give the various NEO -detection efforts involving NASA, the Japanese Space Agency and several universities around the world a good excuse to ask for more money to expand their search. Other researchers, meanwhile, have been pondering what to do, if an asteroid is detected that is indeed on a collision course with Earth. In the science fiction film "Armageddon", Bruce Willis leads a team of drillers who blast a dangerous asteroid apart, using nuclear weapons.
Our US Senate Shames America. While many folks merrily praised St Valentine for the Day of Love, somewhere in Washington DC, one taciturn Vietnam War vet paid tribute to St. Sebastian, to put an end to this tortuous ordeal on February 14 as the last day of hate. Alas, as bad luck would have it, the irreconcilable Cruz aiders have prevailed again as the longest political witch hunt in US history, to keep an American warrior crucified, will be extended over the next 10 days of Capitol infamy. Senator Hagel, badly mauled but unrepentant, has yet to persevere and survive the final encounter with the grisly jaws of GOP-lins, to be anointed as a new Secretary of Defense before the end of the winter. Even if he doesn't live up to the expectations, of his many supporters in and outside the Beltway as the sarge in charge of the Pentagon, he has already earned the right for the 3d Purple Heart for his new wounds in forlorn recon mission as presidential vanguard and lightning rod. First, the Unholy Inquisition resorted to harassing fire by proxy, to calumniate the Senator as hardcore anti Semitic gay basher, and force the president and his DOD nominee into retreat & surrender. John McCain had been making propaganda films for the North Vietnamese, which took a presidential pardon to prevent his court marshal. When that preemptive scare tactic didn't play out as nicely as it did before against probing intention to nominate pugnacious UN Ambassador to run the State Department, the Guardians of Vice & Virtue activated the Plan B on the sly. Thus, SAS Senate Armed Services Committee Q&A supposedly friendly session on the Pentagon chief nomination, has whip-lashed into macabre character assassination, led by special interest bloodhounds & publicity vultures. The hearing was intended to be only about Chuck Hagel, and his vision to deal with multiple DOD challenges, from looming sequestration to military corpulence to 'victorious' narco state in Afghanistan, and 'freedom fighters' 'Spring' board in Africa and Syria. Instead, it offered HD close up at the paragon of perfect polity, streamed alive by TV & internet to American & international audiences alike.
We encourage you to browse our list, so that you can take what you want, and keep what you need. 1. GAO: Lowered standards inflated ratings of Afghan forces. Reported improvements in the effectiveness of the Afghan security forces are partly due to coalition forces lowering standards, according to a report by the US government's main oversight body. 2. Carter calls devastating sequester cuts to military collateral damage of political gridlock. With just 16 days left to dodge the doomsday scenario of sequestration's automatic cuts, top military brass painted a bleak portrait Tuesday, of how military readiness could reach a crisis point, if a compromise in Congress isn't struck before March 1. 3. Hirono: "Devastating cuts could cost Hawaii 11,000 jobs. US Senator Mazie Hirono warned Monday of "devastating" sequestration budget cuts that could cost Hawaii 11,000 jobs, result in furlough days for 18,000 defense civilians, and cut into defense contracts that average $2.3 billion a year. 4. Daughter's salute at Fort Drum deployment ceremony goes viral. A photo of a young girl's salute at Fort Drum ceremony has reached the national airwaves and has gone viral online. 5. Analysts: Even China may not be able to stop North Korea. While North Korea's latest nuclear test shows it is making progress toward a deliverable nuclear weapon, it is not clear whether the international community or China, its greatest trading partner and ally, have enough influence to persuade it to stop, analysts say. 6. Is IEHR Really dead? Government Health IT "Is the highly anticipated joint iEHR that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs have been working on ready for burial? Or not?" VA CIO Roger Baker said, "We remain committed to the common data, application, and GUI standards we committed to at the start of the program." Baker added that "there has been in a shift in strategy in that the VA will 'use existing EHR technology to jump start the iEHR,' rather than building one from the ground up." Also, the VA's CTO Peter Levin on February 8 tweeted that 'the iEHR, "reports are incorrect." Baker summed up the project saying. "Our goal is to make certain that we are creating a single medical record for all patients."
in Afghanistan. Few thousands of fighters under the Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Hizb e Islami leader Gulbadin Hikmatar have been fighting the occupation forces and ANSF for twelve years. The resistance forces consider ANSF and the ruling regime led by Karsai as collaborators, while the latter view the Taliban as extremists and anti democratic. The US punished them for collaborating with Al Qaeda. Failing to defeat the Taliban, the US installed the Karzai regime, and now wants to patch up our differences and enter peace negotiations to end the war, and come to a political settlement. Karzai offered them a share of power, but the Taliban, now having gained an edge over ISAF-ANA, wants to combine forces, including an armistice from Al Qaeda, which includes a US dictated peace plan, including a disarmament proposal from Al Qaeda and adherence of the US drafted constitution and a new democracy. They are resilient fighters, as well as tough negotiators. When the US and its allies failed to impose a military solution, and its sinister plan to pitch the Taliban against Al Qaeda, or to divide the Taliban by sorting them as good and bad Taliban, making them fight against each other also failed, and the morale of ISAF troops began to sink, because of the pronged combat in the battle area, including home sickness, rising battle casualties, suicides and psychiatric problems, while the US economy and its prestige kept sliding downwards, Obama was left with no other option but to take the strategic decision to exit. The US decided to negotiate with the same militants considered bad and irreconcilable, since it wanted peaceful conditions for a smooth transition. Until recently, Pakistan had been pressed by the US to do more to restore peace. Under both sets of circumstances, the US put the blame on Pakistan, claiming that Pakistan was not doing enough. so far, it has not uttered a word of appreciation, that Pakistan's preference for political negotiations over the use of force from the very outset, was correct. Unlike others, Pakistan did not resort to a double game to let down its allies.
Last week, The New York Times published a chilling account of how indiscriminate killing in war remains bad policy even today. This time, it's done not by young GIs in the field, but by anonymous puppeteers guiding drones that hover and attack by remote control, against targets thousands of milles away, often killing the innocent, and driving their enraged and grieving families and friends straight into the arms of the very terrorists we're trying to eradicate. The Times told of a Muslim cleric in Yemen, named Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, standing in a village mosque denouncing al Qaeda. It was a brave thing to do, a respected tribal figure, arguing against terrorism. But two days later, when he and a police officer cousin agreed to meet three al Qaeda members to continue the argument, all five men, friend and foe, were incinerated by an American drone attack. The killings infuriated the village and prompted rumors of an upwelling of support in the town for al Qaeda, because, the Times reported, "such a move is seen as the only way to retaliate against the United States." Our blind faith in technology, combined with a false sense of infallible righteousness continues unabated. Reuters correspondent David Rohde recently wrote: "The Obama administration's covert drone program is on the wrong side of history. With each strike, Washington presents itself as an opponent of the rule of law, not a supporter. Not surprisingly, a foreign power killing people with no public discussion, or review of who died and why, promotes anger among Pakistanis, Yemenis, and many others." Rohde has firsthand knowledge of what a drone strike can do. He was kidnapped by the Taliban in 2008, and held for seven months. During his captivity, a drone struck nearby. "It was so close that shrapnel and mud showered down into the courtyard," he told the BBC last year. "Just the force and size of the explosion amazed me. It comes with no warning and tremendous force. There's sense that your sovereignty is being violated. It's a serious military action. It is not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe." "It's a serious military action, not this light precise pinprick that many Americans believe."A special report from the Council on Foreign Relations last month, "Reforming US Drone Strike Policies, quotes "a former senior military official" saying, "Drone strikes are just a signal of arrogance that will boomerang against America."
Those who want to see and hear how the traitors in the US Congress read from the Zionist lobby's script. The performer in action, addressing the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee of which she is chairwoman, is a Cuban born, Republican congress woman. She is a Cuban born, Republican congress woman. She has represented Florida's 27th congressional district since 1989, and is the most senior Republican woman in the House. Before I go further, I must ask myself the question. Is it really fair to label those members of Congress who do the Zionist lobby bidding as traitors?The answer depends on whether it is, or is not in America's best interest to go on supporting unconditionally an Israel that defies international law, and UN Security Council resolutions, steals more and more Arab land and water as it continues its colonization and ethnic cleansing by stealth of the occupied West Bank, and has no interest in peace, on terms the Palestinians could accept. It is also an Israel that has attacked and killed Americans. As I note in The Liberty Affair, "Pure Murder" on a "Great Day". Chapter 2 of Volume Three of my book Zionism: The Real Enemy of the Jews, the lesson of Israel's cold blooded attack on the USS Liberty on 8 June 1967, was that there is nothing the Zionist state might not do, to its friends as well as it's enemies, in order to get its own way. Those who have some real understanding of how the conflict in and over Palestine that became Israel was created and what is sustaining it, and how US foreign policy, not only its refusal to call and hold Zionism to account for its crimes is fueling anti Americanism throughout the Muslim world and beyond, are in doubt that support for Israel right or wrong, is NOT in America's own interest. Among those who know this to be the case are, behind closed doors, more than a few in the top levels of the Obama administration, including the military and intelligence establishments. What about the president himself? He also knows, but seems unwilling to challenge the Zionist lobby's controlling grip on policy for Israel Palestine in Congress. So yes, I think it fair to label those in Congress who do Zionism's bidding as traitors. It might be that some of them truly believe it is in America's own best interests to support Israel right or wrong. That would enable them to say, "Don't be absurd. We are not traitors."
Few thousands fighters under Taliban leader Mullah Omar and Hizb e Islami leader Gulbadin Hikmatyar have been fighting the occupation forces and ANSF for twelve years. The resistance forces consider ANSF and the ruling regime led by Karzai as collaborators, while the latter view the Taliban as extremists and anti democratic. The US punished them for collaborating with Al Qaeda. Failing to defeat the Taliban, the US installed Karzai regime now wants to patch up and enter into peace negotiations to end the war, and arrive at a political settlement. Karzai offered them a share in power, but the Taliban, having gained an edge over ISAF ANA combine after a prolonged struggle, are not prepared to agree to the US dictated peace plan, which includes the laying down of arms, with a detachment from Al Qaeda, and adherence to the US drafted constitution and democracy. They are resilient fighters, as well as tough negotiators. When the US and its allies failed to impose a military solution, and its sinister plan to pitch the Taliban against Al Qaeda, or to divide the Taliban by categorizing them as good and bad Taliban, and making them to fight against each other also failed, and the morale of the ISAF troops began to sink because their prolonged stay in the battle area, home sickness, rising battle casualties, suicide cases and psychiatric problems, while the US economy and its prestige deteriorated, Obama was left with no other option but to take the decision to exit. The US decided to negotiate with the same Afghans which had been declared as irreconcilable, since America wanted a peaceful nation and a smooth transition. Until recently, Pakistan had been pressed by the USA to do more to eliminate terrorism, but is now pressured to restore the peace. Under the circumstances, the US blamed Pakistan that it was not doing enough. So far, it has not uttered a word of appreciation for Pakistan's preferable political negotiations rather than the rule of force. Pakistan has never resorted to a game of letting down its allies. The US so far has not admitted that it had been wrongly ridiculed for maligning Pakistan. Unfortunately, the US had warned Pakistan that it will cut off its economic and military assistance in that case.
Target China. Mali at first glance seems a most unlikely place for the NATO powers, led by a neo- colonialist French government of Socialist President Francois Hollande, and quietly backed to the hilt by the Obama Administration, to launch what is being called by some a new Thirty Years War Against Terrorism. Mali, with a population of some 12 million,and a land mass three and a half times the size pf Germany, is a land locked largely Saharan Desert country in the center of western Africa, bordered by Algeria to its north, Mauritania to its west, Senegal, Guinea, Ivory Coast, Burkina Faso and Niger to its southern part. People I know who have spent time there, before the recent US led efforts at destabilization called it one of the most peaceful and beautiful places on earth, the home of Timbuktu. Its people are some ninety percent Muslim of varying persuasions. It has a rural subsistence agriculture and adult illiteracy of nearly 50%. Yet this country is suddenly the center of a new global war on terror. On January 20, Britain's Prime Minister David Cameron announced his country's curious resolve to dedicate itself to deal with the terrorism threat in Mali and north Africa. Cameron declared, It will require a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months, and it requires a response that is about years, even decades, rather than months, and it requires a response that has an absolutely iron resolve. Britain in its colonial heyday never had a stake in Mali. Until it won independence in 1960, Mali was a French colony. On January 11, after more than a year behind the scenes pressure on the neighboring Algeria to get them entangled in an invasion of its neighbor Mali, Hollande decided to make a direct French military intervention with US backing. His government launched airstrikes in the rebel held north of Mali, against a fanatical Salafist band of jihadist cutthroats, calling itself Al Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). The pretext for the seemingly swift French action was a military move by a tiny group of Islamic Jihadists of the Tuareg people, Ashar Dine, affiliated with the larger AQIM. On January 10, Asnar Dine, backed by other Islamist groups attacked the southern town of Konna. That marked the first time since the Tuareg rebellion in early 2012, that Jihadist rebels moved out of traditional Tuareg territory in the northern desert to spread Islamic law to the south of Mali.
Popes don't resign, they get fired. Sometimes they're "fired" by God, who has been known to dismiss them from this mortal coil. On other occasions, Satan, through one of his secret societies infesting the Vatican, slips the Pontiff one of those patented papal poisons. But Popes do not resign because they're getting old. If you believe that Papal Bull, I have a "we killed Bin Laden and threw him in the ocean" story to sell you. Noted Catholic scholar Michael Jones, editor of Culture Wars magazine, could not contain himself when, in the lobby of Tehran's Parsian Hotel, he was confronted with the news. "But, but that's unprecedented!" Jones shouted. So why did Pope Benedict XVI really step down? Dr. Robert Moynihan, editor of Inside the Vatican magazine, is no conspiracy theorist. He's the quasi official Vatican embedded journalist and commentator. So when Moynihan let slip a soupcon of skepticism about the "resigned due to old age" story, my ears pricked up and my hair stood on end. Moynihan points out in his latest journalistic encyclical that the Pope sure didn't like he needed to resign for health reasons: "I saw the Pope twice this week, once at a concert on Monday evening, where I was sitting about 20 yards away from him, and his General Audience on Wednesday. For a man of 85, he looked well, though he did seem tired." Why, pray tell, did he "seem tired"? What, precisely, was weighing on his infallible mind? Moynihan takes a guess: On Saturday, I intended a funeral Mass in St Peter's Basilica for a cardinal who died last week, Cardinal Giovanni Cheli. Pope Benedict was scheduled to attend , but at the very last minute, he cancelled his attendance. This was an indication to me already Saturday evening, that he was unusually tired, he had spent several hours that morning with the Order of the Knights of Malta. Normally, he would have been present at a cardinal's funeral. Monihan's typo "moonring" "my ring" is suggestive. The Pope's office is symbolized by the Ring of the Fisherman, which is ceremonially transferred when the papacy changes hands. Wikipedia, the Zionist authority on everything, explains: During the ceremony of a Papal Coronation, the Dean of the College of Cardinals slips the ring on the third finger of the new Pope's right hand. Upon a papal death, the ring was ceremonially broken in the presence of other cardinals by the Camerlengo, in order to prevent the sealing of backdated, forged documents during the intrer-regnum, or sede vacante. What a scurrilous bunch those papal hangers on must be! Moynihan's Freudian slip occurs in the sentence: This was an indication to me already Saturday evening, that he was unusually tired. He had spent several hours that morning with the Kinghts of Malta. The meeting exhausted him. So he resigned.
Is self healing. The miracle of heart centered counseling is the power of love and gratefulness, for when your heart is weakened through love and gratefulness, you not only want to heal, but you also know, or at least sense your next step in the self healing process. I have proven in my own personal experience, as well as my over 35 years as a heart centered therapist and counselor that the basic underlying and uniting force of the universe is a psychic energy field of love and soul consciousness, which lies not only beyond time and space, but also beneath our deepest fears. As such, the supposition must be made, that what lies deepest within us, is not anger and pain, but instead love, joy and a state of soul consciousness. Time after time in my heart centered counseling, with both veterans and civilians, I find that once they realize that they have loved people deeply in the past, and recognize that these people were, and are still gifts in their quest to find themselves, the magic of self healing begins, aided by dreams and all sorts of unforeseen events, which happen to accelerate that process. The point must be made here on the basis of accumulated research and studies, that the pain of feeling unloved and alone or abandoned, is the most awesome pain that can be humanly experienced and obviously is capable of bringing forth hypo thalamic reactions, which affect our well being and physical health. Thus, it would appear that the pain of not feeling loved for oneself, or feeling seemingly alone and abandoned, is of such deep psychic proportions, that death would occur unless we consciously separated from our feelings, and our intuitive right brain connection to soul consciousness, in order to survive. It would also seem logical at this point, that ego conscious become more important for survival than soul consciousness, sensitivity, receptivity to the environment, as well as our deepest urge to love and unite. In Robert Ornstein's The Nature of Human Consciousness, Michael Gazzaniga comments on the appearance of this left brain dominance at an early age: "In the young child, each hemisphere of the brain is about equally developed with respect to language and speech function. We are, thus, faced with the interesting question of why the right hemisphere at an early age and state of development possesses substantial language capacity, whereas, at a more adult age, it possesses a rather poor capacity. The implication is, that during maturation, the process and systems active in making this capacity manifest are somehow inhibited, and dismantled in the right hemisphere and allowed to reside only in the left hemisphere.
"The Republican Party is extremely vulnerable to a rational proposal for immigration reform. On the one hand, the Wall Street financiers who dominate the Washington GOP elite, want to maximize immigration as a means of driving down wages, to maximize immigration as a means of driving down wages and undermining collective bargaining. But many Republican state party organizations, and a significant part of the militant GOP base, are infected by hatred of foreigners, xenophobia." A reform of the absurd and obsolete immigration laws of the United States is long overdue,and is now finally under discussion. Tea Party Republicans are acting out the fear and hatred of foreigners, which is typical of this faction. Wall Street Democrats and corporate Republicans are attempting to implement the financier program of using foreign workers to drive down domestic wages, further weakening the trade union movement. And as usual, the two Wall Street controlled political parties are doing everything to obscure the main considerations that ought to guide this reform. In the view of Alexander Hamilton and other economists of the American System of Political Economy, the wealth of the nation is located first and foremost in the education, training, and experience of its labor force. As Abraham Lincoln put it, the welfare of labor is the most important consideration. The most basic form of capital is human capital, mental capital. In this connection, the willingness of industrious and energetic people from around the world, to come to the United States and find work is a tremendous national resource, and one which should not be dilapidated by outbursts of racism or xenophobia. Without a constant flow of immigrants, the United States would already be condemned to a serious demographic crisis, of the type being experienced by Japan, Western Europe, Russia, China, and other parts of the world. Seen from this angle, immigrants are an American national trump card in the effort to create and maintain a modern labor force, to meet the demands of international competition in the 21st century. Without immigration, the United States would be facing an uncertain future for want of people in the workforce.
The following is an excerpt from Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to US Empire. It's been more than five decades, since you first wrote about universal grammar, the idea of an inborn capacity in every human brain, that allows a child to learn language. What are some of the more recent developments in the field? Well, that gets technical, but there's very exciting work going on, refining the proposed principles of universal grammar. The concept is widely misunderstood in the media, and in public discussions. Universal grammar is something different: It is not a set of universal observations about language. In fact, there are interesting generalizations about language that are worth studying, but universal grammar is the study of the genetic basis for language, the genetic basis of the language faculty. There can't be any serious doubt that something like that exists. Otherwise an infant couldn't reflexively acquire language from whatever complex data is around. So that's not controversial. The only question is what the genetic basis of the language faculty is. Here are some things that we can be pretty confident about. For one thing, it doesn't appear that there's any detectable variation among humans. They all seem to have the same capacity. There are individual differences, as there are with everything, but no real group differences, except perhaps way at the margins. So that means, for example, if an infant from a Papua New Guinea tribe that hasn't had contact with other humans for thirty thousand years comes to Boulder, Colorado, it will speak like any kid in Colorado, because all children have the same language capacity. The converse is also true. This is distinctly human. There is nothing remotely like it among other organisms. What explains this? Well, if you go back fifty years, the proposals that were made when this topic came on the agenda were quite complex. In order just to account for the descriptive facts, that saw in many different languages, it seemed necessary to assume that universal grammar permitted highly intricate mechanisms, varying a lot from language to language, because languages looked very different from one another.
The police state is real: The Bush regimes response to 9/11, and the Obama regimes validation of this response have destroyed accountable government in the United States. So much unaccountable power has been concentrated in the executive branch, that the US Constitution is no longer an operable document. Whether a person believes the official story of 9/11, which rests on unproven government assertions, or believes the documented evidence provided by a large number of scientists, first responders, and structural engineers and architects, the result is the same. 9/11 was used to create an open ended war on terror, and a police state. It is extraordinary that so many Americans believe that it cant happen here, when it already has. We have had a decade of highly visible evidence of the construction of a police state: the PATRIOT Act, illegal spying on Americans in violation of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, the initiation of wars of aggression, war crimes under the Nuremberg Standard based on intentional lies, the Justice Departments concocted legal memos justifying the executive branch's violation of domestic and international laws against torture, the indefinite detention of US citizens in violation of the constitutionally protected rights of habeas corpus, and due process, the use of secret evidence and secret expert witnesses, who cannot be cross examined against defendants in trials, the creation of military tribunals, in order to evade federal courts, secret legal memos, giving the president authority to launch preemptive cyber attacks on any country, without providing evidence that the country constitutes a threat, and the Obama regimes murder of US citizens without evidence or due process. As if this were not enough, the Obama regime now creates new presidential powers by crafting secret laws, refusing to disclose the legal reasoning on which the asserted power rests. In other words, laws now originate in secret executive branch memos, and not in acts of Congress. Congress? We don't need no stinking Congress. Despite laws protecting whistle-blowers and the media, and the US Military Code, which requires soldiers to report war crimes, whistle-blowers such as CIA agent John Kiriakou, media such as Julian Assange, and soldiers such as Bradley Manning are persecuted and prosecuted for revealing US government crimes. The criminals go free, and those who report the crimes are punished.
Islamists, Heroin and the CIA: The Wall Street Journal reported a while back, that the Syrian government had reversed a ban on women teachers, wearing Islamic face coverings in the classroom. The concession to Western backed Islamic face coverings in the classroom. The concession to Western backed Islamist protestors was instructive, since the secular socialist Assad government is clearly in the cross hairs of City of London bankers, attempting to redraw the political map of the Middle East. As in Libya and Afghanistan, the bankers are counting on fundamentalists to carry out their counter revolutionary agenda. Though Western intelligence had earlier cavorted with Islamists in attacking nationalist movements in Iraq, Indonesia and Iran, it was in Afghanistan where they unleashed the full force of their young Franken-steins. Afghanistan was founded in 1747, and ruled by a bloodline monarchy, with rumored ties to the legendary Roshaniya, the all seeing ones. In 1933, King Mohammed Zaher Shah took the throne, ruling the country in feudalistic fashion, until deposed by his cousin, Mohammed Daoud, in 1973. In April 1978, Daoud was killed in a popular revolution, led by socialist leader Nor Mohammed Taraki, who became President, and embarked on an ambitious land reform program to help poor Afghan sharecroppers, who were traditionally forced to work land owned by the king and his cronies. Taraki built schools for women, who were banned from education under the monarchy. He opened Afghan universities to the poor, and introduced free health care. When counter revolutionary bandits began to burn down universities and girl's schools, many Afghan's saw the hand of the CIA. As the campaign of sabotage intensified, Kabul revolutionaries called on Soviet leader Leonid Brezynev to send troops to repel the bandits. Brezynev refused. Taraki appointed Tabizullah Amin as Cabinet Minister in charge of land reform. Amin, who Soviet KGB Chief Yuri Andropov came to believe was a CIA deep cover agent provocateur, launched a brutal campaign of terror against political opponents. This turned world opinion against the Tariki government. In 1979, pro Taraki militants, convinced of a CIA destabilization plot, assassinated CIA Kabul Chief of Station Spike Dubbs. Indeed, in April 1979, a full seven months before the much ballyhooed Soviet "invasion" of Afghanistan occurred, US officials met with Afghan warlords bent on overthrowing Taraki.
If you truly care about economic justice, then you've got to worry about the precipitous decline of labor unions in the United States. Just take a look at these two charts. The first shows the rise and decline of union membership in the private sector, from the depths of the Great Depression to today. You can clearly see that unions were a big deal from the mid 1930's to the early 1980's. By 1953, more than one out of three American workers were members of private sector unions. That means there was a union member in nearly every family. Through the late 1950's and 1960's, the percentage of union members declined, but the absolute number continued to increase, peaking at nearly 21million members in 1979, largely due to the influx of public sector workers, during the 1960's and the 70's. Then the decline accelerated, as the share of union members fell by half between the mid 1970's and the early 1990's. If we include public employee union members, the current rate is 11.3 percent. The second chart traces the share of our national income, grabbed by the top one percent of US households. It's basically the inverse of the unionization chart. When unions were at their strongest, inequality was the lowest. In 1928, the top one percent hauled off 23.94 percent of all US income. As unions grew, the income share for the richest dropped to less than 10%. As unions declined, the income share going to the wealthiest shot back up to 1928 levels. It's not a coincidence. When unions are strong, they bargain for higher wages and benefits. At the same time, non union employers increase wages and benefits to attract qualified workers, and prevent unions from coming in. Also, unions work for legislation that benefits middle and low income people, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, progressive taxation, Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, etc. Overall, those efforts shift income from the top to the middle and bottom of the income ladder. While working with the labor movement over the past 35 years, I have heard myriad explanations for the decline: Unions are not democratic enough, they don't know how to organize the community, they are victims of globalization, they are too bureaucratic, they don't work hard enough in politics, they don't embrace young people and minorities, and so on. While many of these problems are real, I don't believe they explain what's really going on, namely that unions and the rest of us, are on the losing side of a gigantic class war!
A couple of issues for military and veterans hit the top of the list this morning. Primary among them is the CREW DUKE system used by the US and NATO to protect troops from IEDs. It is killing more than it is saving. One company that returned from Iraq in 2009 has 52 members seriously ill. Their symptoms are life threatening, tumors, bleeding, weight loss. In fact, the symptoms of being exposed to what is claimed to be radio, which may or not include microwave, radar and or ionizing radiation. The military is unusually vague about this, rather resemble radiation sickness. The sources of this information are totally reliable, and the military is involved in a full scale cover up, assisted by the Department of Veterans Affairs. Some correctional measures were made on deployed systems, whose antennas were installed backwards. Imagine what it would be like putting a baby in a microwave for 20 minutes. The military thinks of such things as a joke. There is no active investigation. Those who speak up are punished or transferred. No medical care is being offered, and those who speak up are deteriorating are being blocked from treatment and diagnosis. As usual, the Department of Veterans Affairs, as part of its new drive against veterans with disabilities, is blocking paperwork and or turning any interaction, be it a counseling session or "comp and pension hearing" into a confrontational nightmare. "We are on to you." The system is said to block radio controlled IEDs by scanning ALL available frequencies, and blocking all "radio frequencies" within a proscribed distance of a vehicle. The units are typically mounted on vehicles, MRAP's Humvees, anything with tracks or wheels. The worst thing is that these units seem to actually work, saving the lives of a few while killing the many. I was part of our military effort, having served in Vietnam during the 60's and 70's. I received my first cancer diagnosis in 1995. By that time, tens of thousands of veterans had died from the effects of Agent Orange. The number is now in the hundreds of thousands, having exceeded the combat deaths from any other war. Most could have been saved, if it weren't for pure fraud, falsified studies, denial, obstructionism and total corruption.
Headlines like this should shock: Suicides Outpace War Deaths. Surge in Military Suicides. Nearly Two Dozen Veterans Commit Suicide Daily. These reports and similar ones reveal imperialism's dark side. War takes its toll. Civilians suffer most. So do many combatants and veterans after returning home. Most people don't know. Little gets reported. Why do active duty personnel and vets take their own lives? Unbearable emotional pain consumes them. Daily trauma builds. So does intolerable stress. Relief is desperately sought. Suicide is chosen. It's a last option. Others were exhausted. Preventable warning signs aren't heeded. They include depression, withdrawal, lethargy, loss of interest in usual activities, appetite, weight, sleep and other behavioral changes, recurring suicidal thoughts, and feelings of hopelessness and despair. Daily stress is bad enough. Combat exacerbates it. It's intolerable for many. The little known human cost of war raises disturbing questions. America consumes its own. Epidemic post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) levels affect hundreds of thousands of combat forces and vets. The VA estimates over 30% of Vietnam vets, around 10% of Gulf War forces, and up to 20% of America's Afghanistan and Iraq troops. VA and DOD officials consistently understate problems. Independent reports reveal more. Some say nearly half of Afghan and Iraq vets have emotional and/or physical combat injuries. In May 2012, AP said America's vets "are filing for disability benefits at a historic rate. They're the "most medically, mentally troubled generation in US history." War's toll is one of the most under-reported stories. Hundreds of thousands of combat vets won't ever be the same again. They come home sick. They stay that way. They're traumatized. They're unable to cope. Emotional damage done, goes largely unrecognized. It's an unseen wound. Many needing help don't get it. The emotional ordeal is overwhelming. It's terrifying. War vets are gravely affected. PTSD causes emotional numbness. Left untreated, it worsens. Horrifying flashbacks are commonplace.
Among the Nagas. India's remote north eastern states, collectively known as the Seven Sisters, are usually paid no attention by the rest of the country, until a natural disaster, bitter warfare or some other nastiness strikes. Yet this month, many of India's most powerful political figures will tour parts of the region, offering valiant, if mangled, versions of greetings in local tribal tongues, dressing in ethnic gear and otherwise bidding for votes. Sonia Gandhi, the president of the Congress party, began the show on February 7th, addressing two election rallies in Nagaland. The small, hilly territory, along with nearby Meghalaya and Tripura, holds state elections this month. Congress, after two terms in opposition, would relish bouncing back into office, even if the state is so tiny, that its total population, some 1.9m, is roughly half that of Mrs Gandhi's parliamentary constituency in Utar Pradesh. After some days pottering about Nagaland, your correspondent can report on few matters with confidence. The area is remarkably beautiful: Winding roads take you through steep, forested hills, on to small villages perched on impossibly overhanging ridges. Some of these, such as the striking Khonoma village, are complete with stone stairways, cobbled roads and beautifully crafted homes, that could have served as a film set for "The Hobbit". The region is also predominantly tribal and Christian. So many American missionaries grew keen on the area, that if you toss a bible into the air, it is most likely to fall on the roof of a Baptist church. Beyond that, older Nagas talk with feeling about their decades long insurgency against the Indian state. They say they are not seeking secession, but resisting the imposition of colonial rule by India. Naga insurgents, by and large, stopped shooting in 1997 with a ceasefire, but no proper political deal has followed. Worse, much of the region, along with neighboring Manipur, and Jammu and Kashmir, is subjected to a particularly hated law, the Armed Forces Special Powers Act (AFSPA), which allows security men to act with impunity against civilians. Without a complete peace deal, spelling out autonomy for the Nagas, and the lifting of that hated AFSPA, few in Nagaland are likely to be pleased with rule by any part of the center, such as Congress.
It was so much simpler when George W Bush was president. Outlining America's plans for Osama bin Laden, a few days after the September 11th attacks in 2001, Mr Bush declared: "there's an old poster out West, I recall, that says, "Wanted: Dead or Alive." For all those at home and abroad made uncomfortable by sweeping assertions of American power, it was a moment of predictable provocation. Without surprise, they heard a swaggering Republican president vowing to make his country's attackers pay, and seeming to pay no more heed to legal niceties, than a cowboy bent on a lynching. Yet 12 and a half years later, the cautious, "lawyerly" Barack Obama, a Democratic president with nothing of the cowboy about him, finds himself still locked in combat with Islamic extremists, bent on attacking America, and wrestling with the same fundamental questions of international and domestic law as his predecessor. Confounding the political, journalistic and academic elites, who trusted Mr Obama to be the anti Bush, the current president has greatly expanded the use of unmanned drones to track and kill terror suspects and militants, and the occasional hapless bystander in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. He has shelved his promise to close the detention camp at Guantanemo Bay, and, until this week, fought to keep secret legal memos asserting the right of administration officials, so long as they are high ranking and "informed" to kill American citizens overseas, who are deemedto be leaders of al Qaeda or an affiliate, and involved in active plots to attack American targets. Behind all these missions, lie two hard questions left unanswered by Mr Bush's battle cry of 2001: Whether America can lay claim to the legal powers of a nation waging war, and whether it is wiser, more just and more useful to kill or capture militants and terrorists bent on causing the country harm. Both those questions were on stark display on January 7th at the Senate Intelligence Committee's confirmation hearing for John Brennan, Mr Obama's pick to the next head of the Central Intelligence Agency. Mr Brennan, being a 25 year CIA veteran who has wielded vast influence, while serving as the president's defense of current policies, with their blend of killing missiles from the sky, and painstaking attempts to detain and interrogate living suspects, while hewing to the rule of law.
In the months since China implemented its once a decade leadership transition, American policy makers have been watching closely, to see whether changes in personnel might augur any change in Chinese policy toward the United States. As the year of the dragon draws to a close, and Barack Obama busies himself trying to replace many of his most senior officials for his second term, it is China's turn to wonder what his new team means, for what is arguably the world's most important bilateral relationship. Mr Obama's cabinet reshuffle affects three top positions, the secretary of state, secretary of defense, and secretary of the treasury, whose holders must devote a great deal of their time and attention to China. Compared with their American counterparts, analysts in China have much more work, as they try to sort the new scene. In contrast to the figures atop China's black box of a political system, the incoming American officials have left career long paper trails from their many public speeches, press interviews, congressional testimony and legislative votes. Zhu Chenghu, a general in the People's Liberation Army, told state run media that the incoming secretary of state, John Kerry, a former senator and presidential candidate, "will be more moderate" on the issue of China's dispute with Japan over a set of tiny, uninhabited islands in the East China sea. The islands are called the Senkakus by Japan, and the Diaoyus by China. On February 4th, when Mr Kerry replaced Hillary Clinton as America's top ranked diplomat, General Zhu was prompted to remark that the change "represents an opportunity to redirect Washington's course". Wang Dong, the director of the Center for North East Asian Strategic Studies at the Beijing University School of International Studies, agrees. "We know Kerry well. He has a reputation for being moderate and thoughtful, not overly forceful or muscular with his language," Mr Wang says, adding that this marks a contrast with the impression of Mrs Clinton, that tends to be held in China. "If Kerry can put more emphasis on co operation, it will make a big difference." But Mrs Clinton's lack of popularity in China may have as much to do with the content of the message she has borne, as with her style in delivering it.