Archive | August 6th, 2016

I Support Hillary Clinton. So Should Everyone Who Voted for Me

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2016 Democratic presidential candidates Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders speak over one another at the debate in Charleston, South Carolina, on January 17, 2016. (Photo: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The conventions are over and the general election has officially begun. In the primaries, I received 1,846 pledged delegates, 46% of the total. Hillary Clinton received 2,205 pledged delegates, 54%. She received 602 superdelegates. I received 48 superdelegates. Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee and I will vigorously support her.

Donald Trump would be a disaster and an embarrassment for our country if he were elected president. His campaign is not based on anything of substance — improving the economy, our education system, healthcare or the environment. It is based on bigotry. He is attempting to win this election by fomenting hatred against Mexicans and Muslims. He has crudely insulted women. And as a leader of the “birther movement,” he tried to undermine the legitimacy of our first African American president. That is not just my point of view. That’s the perspective of a number of conservative Republicans.

In these difficult times, we need a president who will bring our nation together, not someone who will divide us by race or religion, not someone who lacks an understanding of what our Constitution is about.

“I understand that many of my supporters are disappointed by the final results of the nominating process, but being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything.”

On virtually every major issue facing this country and the needs of working families, Clinton’s positions are far superior to Trump’s. Our campaigns worked together to produce the most progressive platform in the history of American politics. Trump’s campaign wrote one of the most reactionary documents.

Clinton understands that Citizens United has undermined our democracy. She will nominate justices who are prepared to overturn that Supreme Court decision, which made it possible for billionaires to buy elections. Her court appointees also would protect a woman’s right to choose, workers’ rights, the rights of the LGBT community, the needs of minorities and immigrants and the government’s ability to protect the environment.

Trump, on the other hand, has made it clear that his Supreme Court appointees would preserve the court’s right-wing majority.

Clinton understands that in a competitive global economy we need the best-educated workforce in the world. She and I worked together on a proposal that will revolutionize higher education in America. It will guarantee that the children of any family in this country with an annual income of $125,000 a year or less – 83% of our population – will be able to go to a public college or university tuition free. This proposal also substantially reduces student debt.

Trump, on the other hand, has barely said a word about higher education.

Clinton understands that at a time of massive income and wealth inequality, it is absurd to provide huge tax breaks to the very rich.

Trump, on the other hand, wants billionaire families like his to enjoy hundreds of billions of dollars in new tax breaks.

Clinton understands that climate change is real, is caused by human activity and is one of the great environmental crises facing our planet. She knows that we must transform our energy system away from fossil fuels and move aggressively to energy efficiency and sustainable energy.

Trump, on the other hand, like most Republicans, rejects science and the conclusions of almost all major researchers in the field. He believes that climate change is a “hoax,” and that there’s no need to address it.

Clinton understands that this country must move toward universal healthcare. She wants to see that all Americans have the right to choose a public option in their healthcare exchange, that anyone 55 or older should be able to opt in to Medicare, and that we must greatly improve primary healthcare through a major expansion of community health centers. She also wants to lower the outrageously high cost of prescription drugs.

And what is Donald Trump’s position on healthcare? He wants to abolish the Affordable Care Act, throw 20 million people off the health insurance they currently have and cut Medicaid for lower-income Americans.

During the primaries, my supporters and I began a political revolution to transform America. That revolution continues as Hillary Clinton seeks the White House. It will continue after the election. It will continue until we create a government which represents all of us and not just the 1 percent – a government based on the principle of economic, social, racial and environmental justice.

I understand that many of my supporters are disappointed by the final results of the nominating process, but being despondent and inactive is not going to improve anything. Going forward and continuing the struggle is what matters. And, in that struggle, the most immediate task we face is to defeat Donald Trump.

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Economic Update: Profits and Families

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This episode discusses Irish bankers being jailed, US public pension economics and the Yale dining hall worker who won back his job after smashing a racist stained-glass window depicting slaves picking cotton. We also interview Dr. Harriet Fraad on how the post-1970s profit-driven US economy badly damaged intimate life.

To see more stories like this, visit Economic Update: Your Weekly Dose of Revolutionary Economics

To listen in live on Saturdays at noon, visit WBAI’s Live Stream

Economic Update is in partnership with Truthout.org

Your radio station needs Economic Update! If you are a radio station, check this outIf you want to hear Economic Update on your favorite local station, send them this.

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Credit card chip hacks, big rig hijacks due to sloppy security

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Credit card with chip

Credit cards with chips can be hacked, and it’s not because their internal security is faulty. The primary issue is retailers not encrypting the transactions because, golly, that will cost them money. So, they’re leaving the doors open and hoping no one sneaks in. Right. Almost comically, retailers are blaming the new technology, when all they need to do it turn encryption on.

Hackers have succeeded in hijacking big rig accelerators and brakes. They are currently doing it via a dongle plugged into the truck. They say doing this remotely is certainly feasible too because, wait for it, security on these systems is inadequate and, added bonus, many trucks use the same communications standard.

The problem is both situations is “security” that ranges from crappy to non-existent.

Sigh. The answer for credit card security already exists. Retailers need to implement encryption.

The major machine makers, Verifone and Ingenico, both asserted they offer point-to-point encryption on retailer’s machines — but it’s up to retailers and their partners to turn it on.

Currently, retailers focus on protecting the computer network that support their payment system. But that leaves the actual conversation between your credit card and the machine in plain text, readable to any hacker who breaks into the system.

It’s a mistake, said Mike Weber, vice president at the IT auditing firm Coalfire. “They’re assuming the environment is okay,” he said. “It’s not.”

What could possible go wrong with remotely controlled big rigs?
Early this year, one security researcher found thousands of trucks left open to over-the-Internet attacks via an insecure telematics dongle that tracks gas mileage and location. “It’s pretty safe to hypothesize we’re not far off from coming up with remote attacks as well,” says Michigan researcher Yelizaveta Burakova.

The researchers found that developing those attacks was actually easier than with consumer cars, thanks to a common communication standard in the internal networks of most industrial vehicles, from cement mixers to tractor trailers to school buses.

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The Decay of American Politics

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An ode to Ike and Adlai

Dwight Eisenhower (L) vs. Adlai Stevenson: In 1952, Dwight Eisenhower won the presidential election to become the President of the United States. (Photo Credit: M. McNeill/Fox Photos/Getty Images (L) — and Central Press/Getty Images (R))

My earliest recollection of national politics dates back exactly 60 years to the moment, in the summer of 1956, when I watched the political conventions in the company of that wondrous new addition to our family, television.  My parents were supporting President Dwight D. Eisenhower for a second term and that was good enough for me.  Even as a youngster, I sensed that Ike, the former supreme commander of allied forces in Europe in World War II, was someone of real stature.  In a troubled time, he exuded authority and self-confidence.  By comparison, Democratic candidate Adlai Stevenson came across as vaguely suspect.  Next to the five-star incumbent, he seemed soft, even foppish, and therefore not up to the job.  So at least it appeared to a nine-year-old living in Chicagoland.

Of the seamy underside of politics I knew nothing, of course.  On the surface, all seemed reassuring.  As if by divine mandate, two parties vied for power.  The views they represented defined the allowable range of opinion.  The outcome of any election expressed the collective will of the people and was to be accepted as such.  That I was growing up in the best democracy the world had ever known — its very existence a daily rebuke to the enemies of freedom — was beyond question.

Naïve?  Embarrassingly so.  Yet how I wish that Election Day in November 2016 might present Americans with something even loosely approximating the alternatives available to them in November 1956.  Oh, to choose once more between an Ike and an Adlai.

Don’t for a second think that this is about nostalgia.  Today, Stevenson doesn’t qualify for anyone’s list of Great Americans.  If remembered at all, it’s for his sterlingperformance as President John F. Kennedy’s U.N. ambassador during the Cuban Missile Crisis.  Interrogating his Soviet counterpart with cameras rolling, Stevenson barked that he was prepared to wait “until hell freezes over” to get his questions answered about Soviet military activities in Cuba. When the chips were down, Adlai proved anything but soft.  Yet in aspiring to the highest office in the land, he had come up well short.  In 1952, he came nowhere close to winning and in 1956 he proved no more successful.  Stevenson was to the Democratic Party what Thomas Dewey had been to the Republicans: a luckless two-time loser.

As for Eisenhower, although there is much in his presidency to admire, his errors of omission and commission were legion.  During his two terms, from Guatemala to Iran, the CIA overthrew governments, plotted assassinations, and embraced unsavory right-wing dictators — in effect, planting a series of IEDs destined eventually to blow up in the face of Ike’s various successors.  Meanwhile, binging on nuclear weapons, the Pentagon accumulated an arsenal far beyond what even Eisenhower as commander-in-chief considered prudent or necessary.

In addition, during his tenure in office, the military-industrial complex became a rapacious juggernaut, an entity unto itself as Ike himself belatedly acknowledged.  By no means least of all, Eisenhower fecklessly committed the United States to an ill-fated project of nation-building in a country that just about no American had heard of at the time: South Vietnam.  Ike did give the nation eight years of relative peace and prosperity, but at a high price — most of the bills coming due long after he left office.

The Pathology of American Politics

And yet, and yet…

To contrast the virtues and shortcomings of Stevenson and Eisenhower with those of Hillary Rodham Clinton and Donald Trump is both instructive and profoundly depressing.  Comparing the adversaries of 1956 with their 2016 counterparts reveals with startling clarity what the decades-long decay of American politics has wrought.

In 1956, each of the major political parties nominated a grown-up for the highest office in the land.  In 2016, only one has.

In 1956, both parties nominated likeable individuals who conveyed a basic sense of trustworthiness.  In 2016, neither party has done so.

In 1956, Americans could count on the election to render a definitive verdict, the vote count affirming the legitimacy of the system itself and allowing the business of governance to resume.  In 2016, that is unlikely to be the case.  Whether Trump or Clinton ultimately prevails, large numbers of Americans will view the result as further proof of “rigged” and irredeemably corrupt political arrangements.  Rather than inducing some semblance of reconciliation, the outcome is likely to deepen divisions.

How in the name of all that is holy did we get into such a mess?

How did the party of Eisenhower, an architect of victory in World War II, choose as its nominee a narcissistic TV celebrity who, with each successive Tweet and verbal outburst, offers further evidence that he is totally unequipped for high office?  Yes, the establishment media are ganging up on Trump, blatantly displaying the sort of bias normally kept at least nominally under wraps.  Yet never have such expressions of journalistic hostility toward a particular candidate been more justified.  Trump is a bozo of such monumental proportions as to tax the abilities of our most talented satirists.  Were he alive today, Mark Twain at his most scathing would be hard-pressed to do justice to The Donald’s blowhard pomposity.

Similarly, how did the party of Adlai Stevenson, but also of Stevenson’s hero Franklin Roosevelt, select as its candidate someone so widely disliked and mistrusted even by many of her fellow Democrats?  True, antipathy directed toward Hillary Clinton draws some of its energy from incorrigible sexists along with the “vast right wing conspiracy” whose members thoroughly loathe both Clintons.  Yet the antipathy is not without basis in fact.

Even by Washington standards, Secretary Clinton exudes a striking sense of entitlement combined with a nearly complete absence of accountability.  She shrugs off her misguided vote in support of invading Iraq back in 2003, while serving as senator from New York.  She neither explains nor apologizes for pressing to depose Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, her most notable “accomplishment” as secretary of state.  “We came, we saw, he died,” she bragged back then, somewhat prematurely given that Libya has since fallen into anarchy and become a haven for ISIS.

She clings to the demonstrably false claim that her use of a private server for State Department business compromised no classified information.  Now opposed to the Trans Pacific Partnership (TTP) that she once described as the “gold standard in trade agreements,” Clinton rejects charges of political opportunism.  That her change of heart occurred when attacking the TPP was helping Bernie Sanders win one Democratic primary after another is merely coincidental.  Oh, and the big money accepted from banks and Wall Street as well as the tech sector for minimal work and the bigger money still from leading figures in the Israel lobby?  Rest assured that her acceptance of such largesse won’t reduce by one iota her support for “working class families” or her commitment to a just peace settlement in the Middle East.

Let me be clear: none of these offer the slightest reason to vote for Donald Trump.  Yet together they make the point that Hillary Clinton is a deeply flawed candidate, notably so in matters related to national security.  Clinton is surely correct that allowing Trump to make decisions related to war and peace would be the height of folly.  Yet her record in that regard does not exactly inspire confidence.

When it comes to foreign policy, Trump’s preference for off-the-cuff utterances finds him committing astonishing gaffes with metronomic regularity.  Spontaneity serves chiefly to expose his staggering ignorance.

By comparison, the carefully scripted Clinton commits few missteps, as she recites with practiced ease the pabulum that passes for right thinking in establishment circles. But fluency does not necessarily connote soundness.  Clinton, after all, adheres resolutely to the highly militarized “Washington playbook” that President Obama himself has disparaged — a faith-based belief in American global primacy to be pursued regardless of how the world may be changing and heedless of costs.

On the latter point, note that Clinton’s acceptance speech in Philadelphia included not a single mention of Afghanistan.  By Election Day, the war there will have passed its 15th anniversary.  One might think that a prospective commander-in-chief would have something to say about the longest conflict in American history, one that continues with no end in sight.  Yet, with the Washington playbook offering few answers, Mrs. Clinton chooses to remain silent on the subject.

So while a Trump presidency holds the prospect of the United States driving off a cliff, a Clinton presidency promises to be the equivalent of banging one’s head against a brick wall without evident effect, wondering all the while why it hurts so much.

Pseudo-Politics for an Ersatz Era

But let’s not just blame the candidates.  Trump and Clinton are also the product of circumstances that neither created.  As candidates, they are merely exploiting a situation — one relying on intuition and vast stores of brashness, the other putting to work skills gained during a life spent studying how to acquire and employ power.  The success both have achieved in securing the nominations of their parties is evidence of far more fundamental forces at work.

In the pairing of Trump and Clinton, we confront symptoms of something pathological.  Unless Americans identify the sources of this disease, it will inevitably worsen, with dire consequences in the realm of national security.  After all, back in Eisenhower’s day, the IEDs planted thanks to reckless presidential decisions tended to blow up only years — or even decades — later.  For example, between the 1953 U.S.-engineered coup that restored the Shah to his throne and the 1979 revolution that converted Iran overnight from ally to adversary, more than a quarter of a century elapsed.  In our own day, however, detonation occurs so much more quickly — witness the almost instantaneous and explosively unhappy consequences of Washington’s post-9/11 military interventions in the Greater Middle East.

So here’s a matter worth pondering: How is it that all the months of intensive fundraising, the debates and speeches, the caucuses and primaries, the avalanche of TV ads and annoying robocalls have produced two presidential candidates who tend to elicit from a surprisingly large number of rank-and-file citizens disdain, indifference, or at best hold-your-nose-and-pull-the-lever acquiescence?

Here, then, is a preliminary diagnosis of three of the factors contributing to the erosion of American politics,offered from the conviction that, for Americans to have better choices next time around, fundamental change must occur — and soon.

First, and most important, the evil effects of money: Need chapter and verse?  For a tutorial, see this essential 2015 book by Professor Lawrence Lessig of Harvard: Republic Lost, Version 2.0.  Those with no time for books might spare 18 minutes for Lessig’s brilliant and deeply disturbing TED talk Professor Lessig argues persuasively that unless the United States radically changes the way it finances political campaigns, we’re pretty much doomed to see our democracy wither and die.

Needless to say, moneyed interests and incumbents who benefit from existing arrangements take a different view and collaborate to maintain the status quo.  As a result, political life has increasingly become a pursuit reserved for those like Trump who possess vast personal wealth or for those like Clinton who display an aptitude for persuading the well to do to open their purses, with all that implies by way of compromise, accommodation, and the subsequent repayment of favors.

Second, the perverse impact of identity politics on policy:  Observers make much of the fact that, in capturing the presidential nomination of a major party, Hillary Clinton has shattered yet another glass ceiling.  They are right to do so.  Yet the novelty of her candidacy starts and ends with gender.  When it comes to fresh thinking, Donald Trump has far more to offer than Clinton — even if his version of “fresh” tends to be synonymous with wacky, off-the-wall, ridiculous, or altogether hair-raising.

The essential point here is that, in the realm of national security, Hillary Clinton is utterly conventional.  She subscribes to a worldview (and view of America’s role in the world) that originated during the Cold War, reached its zenith in the 1990s when the United States proclaimed itself the planet’s “sole superpower,” and persists todayremarkably unaffected by actual events.  On the campaign trail, Clinton attests to her bona fides by routinely reaffirming her belief in American exceptionalism, paying fervent tribute to the world’s greatest military,” swearing that she’ll be “listening to our generals and admirals,” and vowing to get tough on America’s adversaries.  These are, of course, the mandatory rituals of the contemporary Washington stump speech, amplified if anything by the perceived need for the first female candidate for president to emphasize her pugnacity.

A Clinton presidency, therefore, offers the prospect of more of the same — muscle-flexing and armed intervention to demonstrate American global leadership — albeit marketed with a garnish of diversity.  Instead of different policies, Clinton will offer an administration that has a different look, touting this as evidence of positive change.

Yet while diversity may be a good thing, we should not confuse it with effectiveness.  A national security team that “looks like America” (to use the phrase originally coined by Bill Clinton) does not necessarily govern more effectively than one that looks like President Eisenhower’s.  What matters is getting the job done.

Since the 1990s women have found plentiful opportunities to fill positions in the upper echelons of the national security apparatus.  Although we have not yet had a female commander-in-chief, three women have served as secretary of state and two as national security adviser.  Several have filled Adlai Stevenson’s old post at the United Nations.  Undersecretaries, deputy undersecretaries, and assistant secretaries of like gender abound, along with a passel of female admirals and generals.

So the question needs be asked: Has the quality of national security policy improved compared to the bad old days when men exclusively called the shots?  Using as criteria the promotion of stability and the avoidance of armed conflict (along with the successful prosecution of wars deemed unavoidable), the answer would, of course, have to be no.  Although Madeleine Albright, Condoleezza Rice, Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Clinton herself might entertain a different view, actually existing conditions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and other countries across the Greater Middle East and significant parts of Africa tell a different story.

The abysmal record of American statecraft in recent years is not remotelythe fault of women; yet neither have women made a perceptibly positive difference.  It turns out that identity does not necessarily signify wisdom or assure insight.  Allocating positions of influence in the State Department or the Pentagon based on gender, race, ethnicity, or sexual orientation — as Clinton will assuredly do — may well gratify previously disenfranchised groups.  Little evidence exists to suggest that doing so will produce more enlightened approaches to statecraft, at least not so long as adherence to the Washington playbook figures as a precondition to employment. (Should Clinton win in November, don’t expect the redoubtable ladies of Code Pink to be tapped for jobs at the Pentagon and State Department.)

In the end, it’s not identity that matters but ideas and their implementation.  To contemplate the ideas that might guide a President Trump along with those he will recruit to act on them — Ivanka as national security adviser? — is enough to elicit shudders from any sane person.  Yet the prospect of Madam President surrounding herself with an impeccably diverse team of advisers who share her own outmoded views is hardly cause for celebration.

Putting a woman in charge of national security policy will not in itself amend the defects exhibited in recent years.  For that, the obsolete principles with which Clinton along with the rest of Washington remains enamored will have to be jettisoned.  In his own bizarre way (albeit without a clue as to a plausible alternative), Donald Trump seems to get that; Hillary Clinton does not.

Third, the substitution of “reality” for reality: Back in 1962, a young historian by the name of Daniel Boorstin published The Image: A Guide to Pseudo-Events in AmericaIn an age in which Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton vie to determine the nation’s destiny, it should be mandatory reading.  The Image remains, as when it first appeared, a fire bell ringing in the night.

According to Boorstin, more than five decades ago the American people were already living in a “thicket of unreality.”  By relentlessly indulging in ever more “extravagant expectations,” they were forfeiting their capacity to distinguish between what was real and what was illusory.  Indeed, Boorstin wrote, “We have become so accustomed to our illusions that we mistake them for reality.”

While ad agencies and PR firms had indeed vigorously promoted a world of illusions, Americans themselves had become willing accomplices in the process.

“The American citizen lives in a world where fantasy is more real than reality, where the image has more dignity than its original.  We hardly dare to face our bewilderment, because our ambiguous experience is so pleasantly iridescent, and the solace of belief in contrived reality is so thoroughly real.  We have become eager accessories to the great hoaxes of the age.  These are the hoaxes we play on ourselves.”

This, of course, was decades before the nation succumbed to the iridescent allure of Facebook, Google, fantasy football, “Real Housewives of _________,” selfies, smartphone apps,Game of Thrones, Pokémon GO — and, yes, the vehicle that vaulted Donald Trump to stardom, The Apprentice.

“The making of the illusions which flood our experience has become the business of America,” wrote Boorstin.  It’s also become the essence of American politics, long since transformed into theater, or rather into some sort of (un)reality show.

Presidential campaigns today are themselves, to use Boorstin’s famous term, “pseudo-events” that stretch from months into years.  By now, most Americans know better than to take at face value anything candidates say or promise along the way.  We’re in on the joke — or at least we think we are.  Reinforcing that perception on a daily basis are media outlets that have abandoned mere reporting in favor of enhancing the spectacle of the moment.  This is especially true of the cable news networks, where talking heads serve up a snide and cynical complement to the smarmy fakery that is the office-seeker’s stock in trade.  And we lap it up.  It matters little that we know it’s all staged and contrived, as long as — a preening Megyn Kelly getting under Trump’s skin, Trump himself denouncing “lyin’ Ted” Cruz, etc., etc. — it’s entertaining.

This emphasis on spectacle has drained national politics of whatever substance it still had back when Ike and Adlai commanded the scene.  It hardly need be said that Donald Trump has demonstrated an extraordinary knack — a sort of post-modern genius — for turning this phenomenon to his advantage.  Yet in her own way Clinton plays the same game.  How else to explain a national convention organized around the idea of reintroducing to the American people” someone who served eight years as First Lady, was elected to the Senate, failed in a previous high-profile run for the presidency, and completed a term as secretary of state?  The just-ended conclave in Philadelphia was, like the Republican one that preceded it, a pseudo-event par excellence, the object of the exercise being to fashion a new “image” for the Democratic candidate.

The thicket of unreality that is American politics has now become all-enveloping.  The problem is not Trump and Clinton, per se.  It’s an identifiable set of arrangements  — laws, habits, cultural predispositions — that have evolved over time and promoted the rot that now pervades American politics.  As a direct consequence, the very concept of self-government is increasingly a fantasy, even if surprisingly few Americans seem to mind.

At an earlier juncture back in 1956, out of a population of 168 million, we got Ike and Adlai.  Today, with almost double the population, we get — well, we get what we’ve got.  This does not represent progress.  And don’t kid yourself that things really can’t get much worse.  Unless Americans rouse themselves to act, count on it, they will.

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Why Say No to the TPP? Corporations Already Have Too Much Power

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Our hope lies in shifting power to communities and regions that prioritize safety, clean air, children’s health, and locally rooted livelihoods.

March for Clean Energy in Philadelphia. (Photo: Paul and Cathy / Flickr)

It took two days for 60 members of the Cowboy and Indian Alliance to plant the heirloom seeds by hand. It was the spring of 2014, and there were prayers, burning of sage and sweetgrass, and, one by one, volunteers pressed the red corn seeds into the earth of Art and Helen Tanderup’s farm in Neligh, Nebraska. There, along the Ponca Trail of Tears, the Ponca people in 1877 were forced to leave their homeland after planting their corn seeds, many dying along the way or starving when they arrived in Oklahoma. But the sacred red seeds were being planted again in Nebraska for the first time in more than 100 years.

The planting had another meaning too: It took place along the path of the proposed Keystone XL Pipeline, a project opposed by the Cowboy and Indian Alliance and many others along its path. And the water used to irrigate the seedlings came from the source of water for much of the Great Plains—the Ogallala Aquifer—which is threatened by potential pipeline ruptures, fires, spills, and other mishaps.

This aquifer and, indeed, this land are shared by millions, so who is to say what should happen to them? Should they be used to grow corn and feed people? Should they be part of reestablishing indigenous ways of life and rural livelihoods? Or should they be put at risk by tar sands pipelines?

These sorts of questions come up over and over again as local residents, in cities, towns, and on farms, rise up to oppose dangerous and polluting fossil fuel projects. All too often, they find the federal government taking the side of the oil, coal, or gas industry. That will happen even more if President Obama is able to push the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) through Congress, which he hopes to do during the lame-duck session following the November election.

What does the TPP have to do with pipelines? After being negotiated in secret, the substance of the agreement finally became public. As many had feared, the TPP, like NAFTA, contains a controversial provision that allows foreign corporations to sue governments when regulations or permitting decisions deprive the company of profits.

At a time of growing inequality, we don’t need to make it easier to outsource jobs.

Take the case of the Keystone XL Pipeline, which Obama refused to permit as a result of local action—like the corn planting—and a powerful national movement led by 350.org. TransCanada, the company behind the pipeline, is suing the United States for $15 billion in losses under NAFTA. A three-judge panel will soon rule on whether to penalize U.S. taxpayers for preventing this giant corporation, armed with the power of eminent domain, from running its pipeline through ranches and farms.

Passage of the TPP would further tip the balance of power in favor of these transnational corporations at the expense of community self-determination. Corporations from the signatory countries could insist on building or mining on American soil, and sue if local, state, or federal regulations interfere.

A year ago, passage of this controversial trade pact seemed inevitable, but popular disgust with the deal helped fuel the insurgent candidacy of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, and convinced Hillary Clinton to come out in opposition to the trade deal.

So will the TPP get approved, and should it?

My view is that corporations already have too much power. At a time of climate change emergency, we don’t need to make it easier for transnational corporations to roll over the objections of communities everywhere with their new fossil fuel projects. At a time of growing inequality, we don’t need to make it easier to outsource jobs. At a time of widespread corruption of governments by powerful moneyed interests, we don’t need to give mega-corporations yet another tool to override the will of “we the people.”

Instead, our hope lies in shifting power to communities and regions—urban and rural—that prioritize safety, clean air, children’s health, and locally rooted livelihoods. The benefits might be invisible to economists and policy makers, because they can’t all be measured in profits and dollars. But human well-being and ecological resilience are what matter, whether in the streets of our cities and towns or in Nebraska’s abundant harvest of heirloom red corn.

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Khizr Khan’s Son Sacrificed His Life for a War That Never Should’ve Happened

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Clinton’s rhetoric on the Muslim world might be friendlier than Trump’s, but her record is much bloodier.

Khizr and Ghazala Khan. (Photo: VOA Urdu / Wikimedia Commons)

It was impossible not to be moved as Khizr and Ghazala Khan, two Muslim immigrants from Pakistan, stood before the Democratic National Convention and mourned their son Humayan, a U.S. soldier who’d been killed in Iraq.

Humayan, his grieving father recalled, was “the best of America.” Yet if it were up to Donald Trump, Khan said, the slain soldier “never would have been in America.” It was a compelling rebuke to the GOP nominee’s unrepentant calls to banish Muslims and immigrants alike.

Trump, in his fashion, responded poorly. The billionaire insisted that, like the Khans, he’s made a lot of sacrifices.” He sneered that perhaps the bereaved Ghazala had remained silent on stage because “she wasn’t allowed” to talk.

It was sad and ugly. But amid the word salad was a kernel of truth: “Hillary voted for the Iraq war,” Trump cried, “not me!”

There at least, he wasn’t wrong.

As a senator from New York, Clinton not only voted for the war. She was among its most vocal supporters in either party, eagerly rehashing the Bush administration’s claims that Saddam Hussein was developing weapons of mass destruction.

“I stand by the vote,” Clinton told the Council on Foreign Relations in late 2003, when those weapons had failed to materialize. Six months later, Humayan Khan was killed by a car bomb in Iraq. He was one of 4,424 U.S. soldiers to die in that war — along with perhaps up to a million Iraqi civilians.

The war in which Khan gave his life has been a political football for so long that it’s become hard to appreciate just what an enormous catastrophe it was — and remains. The invasion exploded sectarian tensions across the Middle East and led directly to the rise of ISIS.

As the worst refugee crisis since World War II unfolds across the Middle East and Europe — and as ISIS terrorists murder innocents from Baghdad to Belgium to San Bernardino — the gaping wound we opened in Iraq sits beneath it all like a black hole, eviscerating human lives at ferocious speed even 13 years later.

Yet as late as her first presidential bid, Clinton refused to apologize for supporting the invasion. If you’re looking for “someone who did not cast that vote or has said his vote was a mistake,” she told Democratic voters in 2007, “there are others to choose from.”

As her polling numbers soured, Clinton eventually did cop to making a “mistake” on Iraq. But that didn’t stop her, once she joined Obama’s administration, from supporting escalation in Afghanistan, deeper involvement in Syria, and intervention in Libya’s civil war, which also ended disastrously.

As a presidential candidate this year, Clinton remains committed to launching a “no-fly zone” in Syria. What could go wrong?

Well, in Iraq, a no-fly zone gave way to a full-scale invasion. In Libya, it gave way to regime change and a civil war. Both countries became basket cases and ISIS strongholds, leading the Obama administration to launch new wars in each afterward — most recently with ahuge U.S. bombing raid on Sirte, Libya.

Is there any reason to expect Syria to turn out better?

Clinton’s rhetoric on the Muslim world might be friendlier than Trump’s, but her record is much bloodier. Even while she condemns Trump’s erratic statements on foreign policy, there’s no evidence she sees any need to redraw her own hawkish playbook.

The Humayan Khans of America, who freely offer their lives to protect their country, deserve a better approach — one based on diplomacy and human rights. And so do the millions of people of the Middle East, Muslim and otherwise.

Posted in USAComments Off on Khizr Khan’s Son Sacrificed His Life for a War That Never Should’ve Happened

America’s Recent Achievements In The Middle East

NOVANEWS

America’s Recent Achievements in the Middle East

Eric Zuesse

Here are before-and-after pictures, at https://twitter.com/MAL0mt/status/701077438525263873/photo/1, of what the U.S. government has achieved, in the Middle East:

Screen Shot 2016-07-29 at 8.44.11 AM

What’s especially interesting there, is that in all of these missions, except for Iraq, the U.S. was doing it with the key participation of the Saud family, the royals who own Saudi Arabia, and who are the world’s largest buyers of American weaponry. Since Barack Obama came into the White House, the operations — Libya, Yemen, and Syria — have been, to a large extent, joint operations with the Sauds. ‘We’ are now working more closely with ‘our’ ‘friends, even than ‘we’ were under George W. Bush.

As President Obama instructed his military, on 28 May 2014:

When issues of global concern do not pose a direct threat to the United States, when such issues are at stake — when crises arise that stir our conscience or push the world in a more dangerous direction but do not directly threaten us — then the threshold for military action must be higher. In such circumstances, we should not go it alone. Instead, we must mobilize allies and partners to take collective action. We have to broaden our tools to include diplomacy and development; sanctions and isolation; appeals to international law; and, if just, necessary and effective, multilateral military action. In such circumstances, we have to work with others because collective action in these circumstances is more likely to succeed.

So: ’we’ didn’t achieve these things only on our own, but instead in alliance with the royals of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Kuwait, and other friendly countries, which finance jihadists everywhere but in their own country. And, of course, all of ‘us’ are allied against Russia, so we’re now surrounding that country with ‘our’ NATO partners before we do to it what we’ve previously done to Iraq, Libya, Yemen, and Syria. America is becoming even more ambitious, because of ‘successes’ like these in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Yemen, and Ukraine.

The United States has been the great champion of ‘democracy’ throughout the world. And these are are some of the results of thatdemocracy. ‘We’ are spreading it abroad.

‘Our’ latest victory has been ‘our’ spreading it to Ukraine. No country is closer to Russia than that.

Inside America, the term that’s used for referring to anyone who opposes this spreading of ‘democracy’, is ‘isolationist’, and this term is imported from the meaning that it had just prior to America’s joining World War II against Hitler and other fascists. Back in that time, an “isolationist” meant someone who didn’t want to defeat the fascists. The implication in the usage of this term now, is that the person who is an ‘isolationist’ is a ‘fascist’, just as was the case then. It’s someone who doesn’t want to spread ‘democracy’. To oppose American foreign policy is thus said to be not only ‘right wing’, but the extremist version of that: far right-wing — fascist, perhaps even nazi, or racist-fascist. (Donald Trump is rejected by many Republicans who say that he’s ‘not conservative enough’. Democrats consider him to be far too ‘conservative’. The neoconservative Democrat Isaac Chotiner, whom the Democratic neoconservative Slate hired away from the Democratic neoconservative The New Republic, has headlined at Slate, “Is Donald Trump a Fascist? and he answered that question in the affirmative.) George Orwell dubbed this type of terminological usage “Newspeak.” It’s very effective.

Studies in America show that the people who are the most supportive of spreading ‘democracy’ are individuals with masters and doctoral degrees (“postgraduate degrees”). Those are the Americans who vote for these policies, to spread Americandemocracy, to foreign lands. They want more of this — more of these achievements. (Hillary Clinton beat Bernie Sanders nationwide among the “postgraduate” group.) Some of these people pride themselves on being “technocrats.” They claim that the world needs more of their ‘expertise’. Lots of them come forth on the ‘news’ media to validate such invasions as Iraq in 2003, Libya in 2011, Syria after 2011, etc. Almost all of them possess doctoral degrees. This shows what they have learned. They are the most employable, the highest paid, the most successful, in their respective fields.

After all: ‘democracy’ is not for amateurs. It’s only for people who take instruction, and who do what they are told. But, told by whom? Whom are they obeying? Do they even know? In any organization, when an instruction is issued, is it always easy to know who issued it? And what happens to a person who doesn’t carry it out? There is a winnowing process. The constant survivors are the ones who rise from that process, and who ultimately win the opportunity to issue some of the instructions themselves. These people are the wheat; everybody else is chaff, which gets discarded, in a democracy’.

Posted in Middle East, USAComments Off on America’s Recent Achievements In The Middle East

‘Special Forces Shadow Wars’ Face Legal Threat From Corbyn

NOVANEWS

Special forces operations should be subject to proper democratic oversight through a new War Powers Act, which would prevent troops being risked in Britain’s ‘shadow wars,’ according to Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

He told Middle East Eye on Friday of his concerns over the repeated use of a legal loophole to deploy troops from the secretive SAS unit into war zones such as Iraq and Libya without a democratic mandate.

The prime minister is currently able to deploy special forces without a vote, a capability which is buttressed by the UK’s long-standing but increasingly controversial policy of refusing to comment on clandestine military activities.

I’m very concerned about this because [former Prime Minister] David Cameron – I imagine [Prime Minister] Theresa May would say the same – would say parliamentary convention requires a parliamentary mandate to deploy British troops. Except, and they’ve all used the ‘except,’ when special forces are involved,” Corbyn said.

He said this backdoor method of using elite troops has a long and dubious history, drawing a comparison between today’s operations and those of the US military during the Vietnam War.

The question of this of course goes back a long way to Vietnam in 1963, when the US managed to have I think 50,000 advisers to the South Vietnamese government before the Congress was even invited to vote on whether or not it should be involved in the Vietnam War. I think the parallel is a very serious one,” he said.

His comments were immediately attacked by former soldier-turned-Tory MP Bob Stewart, who told the Times on Wednesday the PM must have the opportunity to deploy troops “when they think it’s crucial.

Read more

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Police Mercilessly Execute Suicidal Man, But Their Blatant Lies Get Caught On Tape

NOVANEWS

California cops offered a typical bumbling explanation after video showed them execute a suicidal man holding a knife to his own throat: The man ‘lunged’ at them.

But bystander cellphone video shows something else, entirely: Several Santa Maria police officers cower behind a patrol car, training their weapons on the man, when — following a half hour of failed negotiations — they abruptly open fire, hitting him multiple times as he falls to the ground.

Javier Garcia Gaona, according to family members quoted by local station KSBY days after the July 20 shooting, did not struggle with mental illness.

“He never had problems with anyone,” said brother Armando Garcia. “We were always together and I never saw him offend other people. Plus, he has always lived with my dad; he was never out there on the streets like people say.”

A friend echoed denial of possible psychological issues, saying Gaona had been upset about money he was owed.

“He was just very upset that he didn’t get the money that he needed,” explained friend Adan Partida, who spoke with Gaona shortly before the shooting, according to the Santa Maria Sun.

Santa Maria police had employed the ‘lunging’ narrative until the bystander’s video surfaced online, and though the moment immediately prior to cops opening fire is slightly obscured in the footage, witnesses can be overheard immediately calling the shooting an act of murder.

“You guys are a bunch of assholes! You tell me you can’t get the guy without shooting him?! Murderers! You guys are a bunch of murderers!” an enraged man screams at the police from across the street, repeatedly.

Read more: Cops kill suicidal man, claiming he ‘lunged’ at them — Society’s Child — Sott.net

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Banking Cartels Are Sending Europe Into Collapse

NOVANEWS

Unequivocally, the rubber is hitting the road NOW!  So much so, I believe “last to go” markets are in danger of being overwhelmed by the chaotically scrambling, Keystone Kop-like, terminally cancerous “powers that be.”

And by “last to go,” I don’t just mean the gold and silver markets, which are being swamped by exploding physical demand, collapsing production, vanishing inventories, and history’s most violently PM-bullish political, economic, and monetary environment.  No, I mean everything else; including hideously overvalued stock markets – which cumulatively, will either crash into oblivion, or hyper-inflate Zimbabwe style; with the result, in either case, being the biggest real losses of all time.  To that end, kudos to Gordon Long, who in this article, opened my eyes to the massive head and shoulders top formation in global stock markets, which is breaking down as we speak; ominously, led by financials.  Which is exactly why he – and I – anticipate Central banks are about to go “all in” on hyperinflation.

To that end, today’s Japanese fiscal stimulus announcement (following last week’s Bank of Japan pronouncement that it is doubling its stock market purchases); this morning’s Royal Bank of Australia rate cut; and next week’s imminent Bank of England rate cut and QE announcement; are just the tip of what will be history’s biggest monetary iceberg.  Just under the surface – where as you know, the majority of icebergs lie – the Federal Reserve is lying in wait, praying it can avoid re-joining the overt QE ranks before the election.  But irrespective of the timing, I assure you they will retake the mantle of lunatic, overt money printing and asset monetization from the ECB and BOJ before long.  And when they do, there’s no telling if 2008-style crash or Weimar-like hyperinflation will win the day.  Which, in either case, will yield a massive crash in the dollar’s value against real money, irrespective of how it performs  against other collapsing fiat toilet paper.

Regarding Precious Metals, I have spent the past six months detailing the building evidence of a Cartel on the run – and recently, have flat out called for its ultimate demise, in countless articles and podcasts.  For the past month – includingyesterday’s article and SGT podcast – I have incessantly written of how silver’s 50 Month moving average, which was breached to the downside during April 2013’s “alternative currency destruction” Cartel attack, was about to be retaken.  And when it does, at $20.46/oz, the massive “buy stops” sitting above it could cause a massive paper short squeeze, given that the Cartel has an all-time high naked short position.  Which, in turn, could ignite the “historic silver shortage” I predicted two months ago; and with it, the imminent demise of the heinous gold Cartel.

Posted in UKComments Off on Banking Cartels Are Sending Europe Into Collapse

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