Archive | April 27th, 2013

The Book That Exposes How America’s Imperial Global War on Terror Makes Life Much More Dangerous for Us at Home

Jeremy Scahill’s ‘Dirty Wars’ chronicles the assassination squads, private armies, and drone attacks that have turned America into a kind of Murder, Inc.

US special forces stand guard as Blackhawk helicopter land in Afghanistan’s Marjah region, on February 24, 2010. A NATO helicopter strike has killed two children in southern Afghanistan, officials said, in the latest civilian casualties to beset the coali

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Chalmers Johnson’s book  Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire was published in March 2000 — and just about no one noticed.  Until then, blowback had been an obscure term of CIA tradecraft, which Johnson defined as “the unintended consequences of policies that were kept secret from the American people.”  In his prologue, the former consultant to the CIA and eminent scholar of both Mao Zedong’s peasant revolution and modern Japan labeled his Cold War self a “spear-carrier for empire.”

After the Soviet Union disappeared in 1991, he was surprised to discover that the essential global structure of that other Cold War colossus, the American superpower, with its vast panoply of military bases, remained obdurately in place as if nothing whatsoever had happened.  Almost a decade later, when the Evil Empire was barely a memory, Johnson surveyed the planet and found “an informal American empire” of immense reach and power.  He also became convinced that, in its global operations, Washington was laying the groundwork “all around the world… for future forms of blowback.”

Johnson noted “portents of a twenty-first century crisis” in the form of, among other things, “terrorist attacks on American installations and embassies.”  In the first chapter of  Blowback, he focused in particular on a “former protégé of the United States” by the name of Osama bin Laden and on the Afghan War against the Soviets from which he and an organization called al-Qaeda had emerged.  It had been a war in which Washington  backed to the hilt, and the CIA funded and armed, the most extreme Islamic fundamentalists, paving the way years later for the Taliban to take over Afghanistan.

Talk about unintended consequences! The purpose of that war had been to give the Soviet Union a Vietnam-style bloody nose, which it more than did. All of this laid the foundation for… well, in 1999 when Johnson was writing, no one knew what. But he, at least, had an inkling, which on September 12, 2001, made his book look prophetic indeed. He emphasized one other phenomenon: Americans, he believed, had “freed ourselves of… any genuine consciousness of how we might look to others on this globe.”

With Blowback, he aimed to rectify that, to paint a portrait of how that informal empire and its historically  unprecedented garrisoning of the world looked to others, and so explain why animosity and blowback were building globally.  After September 11, 2001, his book leaped to the center of the 9/11 display tables in bookstores nationwide and became a bestseller, while “blowback” and that phrase “unintended consequences” made their way into our everyday language.

Chalmers Johnson was, you might say, our first blowback scholar.  Now, more than a decade later, we have a book from our first blowback reporter.  His name is Jeremy Scahill.  In 2007, he, too, produced a surprise bestseller,  Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army. It caught the mood of a moment in which the Bush administration, in service to its foreign wars, was working manically to “privatize” national security and the U.S. military by hiring rent-a-spiesrent-a-guns, and  rent-a-corporations for its proliferating wars.

In the ensuing years, it was as if Scahill had taken Johnson’s observation to heart — that we Americans can’t see our world as it is.  And little wonder, since so much of the American way of war has plunged into the shadows.  As two administrations in Washington  arrogated ever greater war-making and national security powers, they began to develop a new, off-the-books, undeclared style of war-making.  In the process, they transformed an  increasingly militarized CIA, a hush-hush crew called the  Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), and a shiny new “ perfect weapon and high-tech fantasy object, the drone, into the president’s own privatized military.

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Nestle CEO: Water Is Not A Human Right, Should Be Privatized


Is water a free and basic human right, or should all the water on the planet belong to major corporations and be treated as a product? Should the poor who cannot afford to pay these said corporations suffer from starvation due to their lack of financial wealth? According to the former CEO and now Chairman of the largest food product manufacturer in the world, corporations should own every drop of water on the planet — and you’re not getting any unless you pay up.

The company notorious for sending out hordes of ‘internet warriors’ to defend the company and its actions online in comments and message boards (perhaps we’ll find some below) even takes a firm stance behind Monsanto’s GMOs and their ‘proven safety’. In fact, the former Nestle CEO actually says that his idea of water privatization is very similar to Monsanto’s GMOs. In a video interview, Nestle Chairman Peter Brabeck-Letmathe states that there has never been ‘one illness’ ever caused from the consumption of GMOs.

Watch the video below for yourself:


The way in which this sociopath clearly has zero regard for the human race outside of his own wealth and the development of Nestle, who has been caught funding attacks against GMO labeling, can be witnessed when watching and listening to his talk on the issue. This is a company that actually goes into struggling rural areas and extracts the groundwater for their bottled water products, completely destroying the water supply of the area without any compensation. In fact, they actually make rural areas in the United States foot the bill.

As reported on by Corporate Watch, Nestle and former CEO Peter Brabeck-Letmathe have a long history of disregarding public health and abusing the environment to take part in the profit of an astounding $35 billion in annual profit from water bottle sales alone. The report states:

“Nestlé production of mineral water involves the abuse of vulnerable water resources. In the Serra da Mantiqueira region of Brazil, home to the “circuit of waters” park whose groundwater has a high mineral content and medicinal properties, over-pumping has resulted in depletion and long-term damage.”

Nestle has also come under fire over the assertion that they are actually conducting business with massive slavery rings. Another Corporate Watch entry details:

“In 2001, Nestlé faced criticism for buying cocoa from the Ivory Coast and Ghana, which may have been produced using child slaves.[58] According to an investigative report by the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children in Mali, Burkina Faso and Togo were being purchased from their destitute parents and shipped to the Ivory Coast, to be sold as slaves to cocoa farms.”

So is water a human right, or should it be owned by big corporations? Well, if water is not here for all of us, then perhaps air should be owned by major corporations as well. And as for crops, Monsanto is already working hard to make sure their monopoly on our staple crops and beyond is well situated. It should really come as no surprise that this Nestle Chairman fights to keep Monsanto’s GMOs alive and well in the food supply, as his ideology lines right up with that of Monsanto.

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West Bank convent loses appeal over IsraHell separation barrier route


Catholic group criticises ruling after seven-year legal battle over barrier that will separate Cremisan nuns from most of their land.

Israel's separation barrier in Beit Jala

Palestinian protesters fix flags on a fence opposite Israel’s separation barrier in Beit Jala, in 2010. The barrier is to be extended past a convent. Photograph: Hazem Bader/AFP/Getty Images

Israel is expected to press ahead with construction of the vast West Bank barrier around a convent near the Christian town of Beit Jala, following a ruling from a special appeals committee.

The route of the barrier will separate a small community of elderly nuns at the Cremisan convent from 75% of their land and from a nearby monastery with which it has close ties. The playground of a nursery and a school run by the Cremisan sisters will be bordered on three sides by the wall.

More than 50 Palestinian families will lose free access to their agricultural land, causing economic hardship to the dwindling Christian community.

The campaign against the route of the barrier at Cremisan was taken up by the UK foreign secretary, William Hague, and the archbishop of Westminster, Vincent Nichols. In a letter disclosed by the Guardian last year, Hague told Nichols that he shared his “concerns about the problem of land confiscation by the Israeli authorities affecting the people of Beit Jala and similar Palestinian communities in the occupied territories”.

Following a seven-year legal campaign, Israel’s special appeals committee this week ruled in favour of the route, which leaves the convent on the Palestinian side of the barrier and the monastery and land belonging to the convent and local families on the Israeli side.

According to the Society of St Yves, a Catholic human rights organisation that represented the nuns, the committee decided that the proposed route was “a reasonable solution that balances Israel’s security needs on one hand and freedom of religion and the right to education on the other”.

However, the society said the ruling was “highly problematic and unjust”. It failed to properly address “the violation of freedom of religion, the right to education as well as the economical damage caused for a unique Christian minority in Beit Jala by the construction of the wall,” it said. It is considering an appeal to Israel’s supreme court.

The UK government provided indirect funding for the legal case. It says Israel is entitled to build a barrier but it should lie on the internationally recognised 1967 Green Line, not on confiscated Palestinian land. About 85% of the barrier is inside the West Bank. The route is harming the prospects of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to Britain.

In his Christmas Eve homily in 2011, Nichols offered prayers in support of the community’s “legal battle to protect their land and homes from further expropriation by Israel”.

Last year Israel’s defence ministry told the Guardian: “The route of the security fence in the Beit Jala region is based purely on security considerations. This portion is there solely to keep terror out of Jerusalem.”

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Bush and the American Right Wing: Top Ten Ways they are Like the Children of an Alcoholic


by Juan ColeNOVANEWS

It is a well-known syndrome in alcoholic and/or abusive families that the child runs to the abusive parent, and makes excuses for him or her. In fact thereare a whole set of syndromes afflicting the poor adults who lived through that horror as children.

The fawning interviews attending the opening of the George W. Bush presidential library, for the least bookish of all our presidents, struck me as having a lot of resemblance to those syndromes. America has a problem holding its high elected officials to account. A republic as the founding generation envisaged it is a collective of equals. We have no king, no one who is above the law. Some of us serve the public through elective office for a while. If we do it honorably we get thanks. If we do it dishonorably, we should be tried for our crimes or at the very least suffer opprobrium in polite society. The emergence of the imperial presidency in the twentieth century and until now is an affront to those republican values, a descent into empire and monarchy and lack of accountability. For ex-presidents everything is forgiven over time. We named the airport in our national capital for a man who sold weapons stolen from Pentagon warehouses to Ayatollah Khomeini at at time the latter was on a terror watch list, and used the black money thus gained to support right wing death squads in Central America. We let a war criminal pronounce himself comfortable with his crimes against humanity.

1. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents lie when it would be just as easy to tell the truth. They have to constantly make excuses for the criminal behavior of their ex-president. For instance, it is often alleged that all international intelligence agencies agreed with the Bush administration that Iraq had ‘weapons mass destruction.’ But the French did not, and the Germans had serious questions. It is not true, just a lie that we are forced to tell in order to protect an war-addicted president. Likewise, they often maintain that WMD actually was found in Iraq (wrong) or that it was moved to Syria (not true) or that Saddam Hussein was tied to al-Qaeda (false). Or they may downplay the number of Iraqis killed as a result of the illegal US invasion. Or they may say that waterboarding and stress positions are not torture and that ‘the US does not torture.’

2. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents are super responsible or super irresponsible.

Some supporters of a criminal ex-president become controlling and need everything to be in order all the time, suffering from anxiety and perfectionism. They have a compulsion to bust unions to prevent strikes, and to send troops to places like Iran and Syria, to put them in order, or to insist on enormous military budgets several times larger than any other country in the world.

Others become highly irresponsible party animals, insisting that the rich be exempted from taxes, opposing all gun control, arguing for further deregulation of banks, spoiling the environment, abusing minorities, and becoming addicted to Fox Cable News.

3. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents are supremely loyal, even in the face of evidence that the loyalty is undeserved.

They are used to dealing with a habitual offender. They take care of him, and are told ‘it wasn’t his fault’ or ‘he didn’t really mean it.’ They have such lowered expectations for their politicians that they will vote for the Tea Party or Michelle Bachmann. They often end up in an unhealthy relationship with another abusive politician.

4. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents have difficulty completing political projects. They were used to being interrupted constantly by the abuser during his administration. They might have been balancing the budget in 1999 but when the abuser showed up they’d have to cut taxes so deeply on the rich and devote so many trillions to foreign military adventures that they’d just forget about the health of the budget. Afterward, they might take up gun registration reform but then just abandon it in the middle. Since they weren’t accustomed to successful follow-through, they became chronically flaky.

5. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents have difficulty with intimate political relationships. Since their previous president constantly lied to them in order to trick them into supporting illegal wars, they develop a deep distrust of others. Having learned that politicians are not trustworthy, they think a subsequent president wasn’t really born in America, or that universal health care involves death panels, or that scientists are lying about global warming or that the United Nations is not really a collective seeking world peace but a sinister conspiracy with Blackhawk helicopters positioned in Montana.

6. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents have to guess at what normal behavior is. Having been lied to, sent to war under false pretexts, and told that regulating banks or polluting industries is wrong, they do not have any idea what normal political life is like. They occasionally get glimpses of it on MSNBC on television, or when they visit their friends (if they have any) who vote for the Democratic Party, or just by guessing at what normal politics might be like.

7. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents have difficulty having fun. Having been constantly traumatized by being told they are in a war on terror, a war on drugs, and several actual wars, adult followers of abusive ex-presidents don’t know how to enjoy life. They don’t know how to look forward to the prospect that by 2015 the US will not be at war for the first time in 14 years. They cannot enjoy video games, which they blame for gun violence, or television, which they see as immoral and basically gay, or Comedy Central shows like the Daily Show and the Colbert Report, which they see as part of a liberal conspiracy.

8. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents take themselves very seriously. Because they were told that other people hate their values and they are the indispensable nation that must intervene everywhere in the world, they cannot ever lighten up. They are holding up the world, which if left to the effeminate Europeans, dictatorial Chinese or violent Muslims, would go to hell in a hand basket.

9. Adult constituents of abusive ex-presidents overreact to changes over which they have no control. They obsess 24/7 over any act of terrorism not committed by white supremacists. They grew up with an unpredictable president who might invade a new country any time, producing anxiety.

10. Adult constituents of abusive ex-president are impulsive. They tend to commit themselves to a course of action without giving serious consideration to other possibilities or to what might happen if they act this way. They’ll suddenly start maintaining that raped women cannot get pregnant or that the 17,000 women a year who become pregnant as a result of rape don’t exist or don’t matter. They cannot imagine that this stance might cause them to lose political elections. Then they beat themselves up for being the party of stupid or they say “we’ve had enough Bushes’ because of their self-loathing.

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Bill Maher Blows Up Over Taxpayers Paying To Maintain Bush’s Library of Lies


By: Jason Easley


Bill Maher called bullsh*t on the fact that taxpayers are going to help pay to maintain the library that George W. Bush is using as a propaganda tool to rewrite history.


Maher said, “First of all, there’s 13 of these presidential libraries. I hate all of them. I think they’re ridiculous. They’re presidents. They’re not King Tut. Why do we have to build a mausoleum to them, and it’s taxpayer money, not to build them to maintain them. To maintain the fictions. Listen to this. This is taxpayer money. The Bush Library has something called a Decision Points theatre. It says visitors will be confronted with the stark choices that confronted the nation’s forty third president. One of them is, “Invade Iraq, or leave Saddam Hussein in power?” Who was asking that question? No one. No one. What a bullsh*t rewriting of history. After 9/11, no one went we gotta go after Iraq because they didn’t do it.”

Maher’s right. Presidential libraries are becoming absurdly partisan. However, George W. Bush’s library has taken this to a whole new level, by trying to rewrite history with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. President Obama’s supporters are already raising money for his presidential library, so I think that if the supporters recent and future ex-presidents can raise hundreds of millions of dollars for the library’s construction, they should also be able to raise enough money to cover 100% of its maintenance costs.

If presidential libraries are going to continue to become increasingly partisan, or in George W. Bush’s case, a weapon of mass propaganda, I think that taxpayer funds should not be used to maintain the library. I do disagree with Maher on one point. Because they house the president’s papers and other documents, presidential libraries can be valuable for research purposes. They aren’t useless when used for their intended purpose.

However, it looks like what the Bushies built was some sort of bizarro conservative theme park whose sole purpose is to rewrite the history of the Bush years. I suspect that the Obama people will top what the Bush supporters spent, so as these presidential libraries become more elaborate, they are going to get more expensive to maintain.

The Presidential Library Act of 1955 was amended in 1986 to require libraries over 70,000 square feet in size to maintain trust fund to help offset the cost of maintaining it. The George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum Complex is over 207,000 square feet. Bush set up an endowment of $9.8 billion to help offset some of the library’s operating costs. Notice that taxpayers will still be on the hook for some of the bill.

The message that we should be sending to the ex-presidents is that if you can afford to build it, you can afford to maintain all of it.

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