Archive | November 28th, 2017

Former Joint Chiefs Chairman: Likelihood of Nuclear War Is Rising

NOVANEWS
 

Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said on ABC’S “This Week” that nuclear war has become “more probable than it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly.”

Mullen also said he has concerns about the fact that generals have taken such high-ranking and high-profile roles in the Trump administration, and that he was disappointed that John Kelly has shown he’ll be “supportive of the president no matter what.”

Full quotes:

  • On Kelly: I mean, certainly what happened very sadly a few weeks ago when he was in a position to both defend the president in terms of what happened with the gold star family and then he ends up — and John ends up politicizing the death of his own son in the wars. It is indicative of the fact that he clearly is very supportive of the president no matter what. And that, that was really a sad moment for me.
  • Does he recognize Flynn these days?: “No, I don’t know the Mike Flynn that I have seen since he made a decision to endorse very strongly and publicly President Trump.”
  • On nuclear war: “I think it’s more probable than I it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly. They’re the most dangerous weapons in the world. And certainly if we have someone in North Korea that has a lethal legacy, is very, very unpredictable, and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just attain them but potentially use them.”
  • On refusing an order: “Well, I think any senior military officer always approaches it from the standpoint of we’re not going to follow an illegal order. That said, the president is in a position to give a legal order to use those weapons. And the likelihood that given that order that it would be carried out I think would be pretty high.”
  • On North Korea: “I still worry about the peninsula and the potential outcome there. I worry there is more uncertainty than there was a year ago, in principle because of the rhetoric that is there. I know that the Trump administration has addressed this issue from day one, so they’re very serious about creating options and have created options. It’s still a very difficult place to know what’s actually going on.”

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Tensions Rise Again as North Korea Tests Missile

North Korea test fired a long-range missile today that appears to have the range to potentially hit most parts of continental United States, including its capital Washington DC. The test took place amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula stoked by the Trump administration’s threats to use military force to destroy North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities.

North Korea fired the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at about 3 am local time from around Pyongsong, a town northeast of the capital Pyongyang. It flew on a lofted trajectory for about 53 minutes, reaching an altitude of around 4,500 kilometres and landing 960 kilometres away to the north of Honshu, Japan’s largest island.

If the ICBM had been fired at an angle designed for maximum distance, the range is estimated at more than 12,500 kilometres, placing the US east coast and Washington DC potentially within its reach. Whether the missile can carry a heavy payload, such as a nuclear warhead, over that distance is unknown.

Two similar North Korean ICBMs tested in July remained aloft for 37 minutes and 47 minutes respectively. A US intelligence official told Reuters the initial indications were that the missile engine was not significantly more powerful than the previous Hwasong-14 tests.

David Wright from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggested in a blog that North Korea simply lightened the missile’s payload.

“If true, that means it would not be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to this long distance, since such a warhead would be much heavier,” he wrote.

Doubts also remain as to whether North Korea has developed a re-entry vehicle capable of shielding a nuclear payload from the intense heat and pressures generated when it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere from outer space. According to Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, the missile broke up before landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

US President Donald Trump made a relatively muted response at a press conference with Defence Secretary James Mattis.

“We will take care of it,” Trump told reporters. “It is a situation that we will handle.”

Mattis declared that the missile “went higher, frankly, than any previous shots.” He continued:

“The bottom line is it’s a continued effort to build a … ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States.”

However, the chief responsibility for inflaming tensions in North East Asia lies with US imperialism. Trump’s administration, following on from President Obama’s, has tightened the noose of crushing economic and diplomatic sanctions around North Korea and made clear that only Pyongyang’s complete capitulation to US demands will prevent a war.

Following North Korea’s nuclear test in early September, Trump threatened at the United Nations to “totally destroy” the country. The remark highlights the vast disparity between the US, which has the world’s most powerful military and thousands of nuclear warheads, and North Korea, which has a very limited nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.

The US has provocatively staged a series of large-scale military drills with South Korea, Japan and other allies throughout 2017. Earlier this month, the US navy held an exercise involving three American aircraft carriers, along with their accompanying strike groups of destroyers and cruises, and various South Korean vessels.

The latest war games, due to commence on Saturday, involve a massive display of air power. Known as Vigilant Ace, the air drill will involve 230 aircraft, including six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, and 12,000 US military personnel. Its purpose, according to the US military, is to enhance interoperability between US and South Korean forces and “increase the combat effectiveness of both nations.” In other words, the intent is to prepare for war with North Korea.

Following today’s ICBM test by North Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared:

“Diplomatic solutions remain viable and open for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearisation and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea.”

He announced that the US and Canada would convene an international meeting next year to discuss how to counter North Korea.

However, the Trump administration has repeatedly rejected calls by China and Russia to pave the way for negotiations through a so-called freeze-for-freeze—suspending US and South Korean joint war games in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests.

Moreover, Trump last week reinstated North Korea to the US State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism in a move calculated to undermine any attempt to start negotiations. The Bush administration removed Pyongyang from the list in 2008 as part of US commitments contained in a denuclearisation deal signed in 2007. Just months later, President Bush sabotaged the deal by demanding more intrusive inspection procedures.

North Korea reacted angrily to Trump’s announcement, declaring that the decision to relist it as a sponsor of terrorism was “a serious provocation and violent infringement” of its sovereignty. Today’s missile test—the first of any type since September—is another indication that Pyongyang judges that the US cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith.

The latest missile launch can only heighten tensions in North East Asia. South Korea responded six minutes later with its own show of force—the simultaneous test firing of a “precision” barrage of missiles from its army, navy and air force. All the missiles were calibrated to the distance to the North Korean test site, but fired into waters between South Korea and Japan.

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Libya: Ten Things About Gaddafi They Don’t Want You to Know

This article was first published by Global Research in November 2014. Today Libya as a Nation State has been destroyed by US-NATO.

What do you think of when you hear the name Colonel Gaddafi? Tyrant? Dictator? Terrorist? Well, a national citizen of Libya may disagree but we want you to decide.

For 41 years until his demise in October 2011, Muammar Gaddafi did some truly amazing things for his country and repeatedly tried to unite and empower the whole of Africa.

So despite what you’ve heard on the radio, seen in the media or on the TV, Gaddafi did some powerful things that are not characteristic of a “vicious dictator” as portrayed by the western media.

Here are ten things Gaddafi did for Libya that you may not know about…

Muammar Gaddafi Libya

1. In Libya a home is considered a natural human right

In Gaddafi’s Green Book it states: ”The house is a basic need of both the individual and the family, therefore it should not be owned by others”. Gaddafi’s Green Book is the formal leader’s political philosophy, it was first published in 1975 and was intended reading for all Libyans even being included in the national curriculum.

2. Education and medical treatment were all free

Under Gaddafi, Libya could boast one of the best healthcare services in the Middle East and Africa.  Also if a Libyan citizen could not access the desired educational course or correct medical treatment in Libya they were funded to go abroad.

3. Gaddafi carried out the world’s largest irrigation project

The largest irrigation system in the world also known as the great manmade river was designed to make water readily available to all Libyan’s across the entire country. It was funded by the Gaddafi government and it said that Gaddafi himself called it ”the eighth wonder of the world”.

4. It was free to start a farming business

If any Libyan wanted to start a farm they were given a house, farm land and live stock and seeds all free of charge.

5. A bursary was given to mothers with newborn babies

When a Libyan woman gave birth she was given 5000 (US dollars) for herself and the child.

6. Electricity was free

Electricity was free in Libya meaning absolutely no electric bills!

7.  Cheap petrol

During Gaddafi’s reign the price of petrol in Libya was as low as 0.14 (US dollars) per litre.

8. Gaddafi raised the level of education

Before Gaddafi only 25% of Libyans were literate. This figure was brought up to 87% with 25% earning university degrees.

9. Libya had It’s own state bank

Libya had its own State bank, which provided loans to citizens at zero percent interest by law and they had no external debt.

10. The gold dinar

Before the fall of Tripoli and his untimely demise, Gaddafi was trying to introduce a single African currency linked to gold. Following in the foot steps of the late great pioneer Marcus Garvey who first coined the term ”United States of Africa”. Gaddafi wanted to introduce and only trade in the African gold Dinar  – a move which would have thrown the world economy into chaos.

The Dinar was widely opposed by the ‘elite’ of today’s society and who could blame them. African nations would have finally had the power to bring itself out of debt and poverty and only trade in this precious commodity. They would have been able to finally say ‘no’ to external exploitation and charge whatever they felt suitable for precious resources. It has been said that the gold Dinar was the real reason for the NATO led rebellion, in a bid to oust the outspoken leader.

So, was Muammar Gaddafi a Terrorist?

Few can answer this question fairly, but if anyone can, it’s a Libyan citizen who has lived under his reign? Whatever the case, it seems rather apparent that he did some positive things for his country despite the infamous notoriety surrounding his name. And that’s something you should try to remember when judging in future.

This quirky video documentary spells out an interesting, if rather different, story from the one we think we know.

 

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Turning the Corner in Afghanistan

NOVANEWS

The news about the wars the U.S. is waging all over the world is unreliable. The same statements of progress are repeated year after year. The official numbers, be they of civilian casualties or deployed troops, are mere lies. Every news presentation should be engraved with a warning: “Assertions and numbers are not what they appear.” Consider, for example, the various “turned corner” statements officials have made about Afghanistan.

On October 5 2017 the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed to the BBC that Afghanistan has “turned the corner”:

… when I ask whether he is saying Afghan forces have turned the corner in the fight against the Taliban, there is no hesitation: “Yes,” he says.

On October 24 the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson agreed with President Ghani:

“With the mounting military, diplomatic, and social pressure that is building – that we all are collectively committed to sustaining over the coming years – the enemy will have no choice but to reconcile. I believe, as President Ghani says, ‘we have turned the corner,’” he concluded.

But a month later General Nicholson seemed to disagreed with his earlier statement:

“We are still in a stalemate,” Nicholson, a four-star Army general said in an exclusive interview.

Today, five days after his “stalemate” statement, the general’s opinion has changed again. Kevin Baron, the editor of Defense Onereports:

‏JUST IN: Top US general in Afghanistan says war has “turned a corner… “ The momentum is now with the Afghan security forces.” …

The General seems confused. But he is not the first to have such a change of mind.

On February 3 2010 then U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal was cautious about the proverbial corner:

General Stanley McChrystal also expressed confidence that Afghan forces would grow quickly enough to allow a reduction in U.S. troop numbers to begin on schedule in 2011. … “I‘m not prepared to say we have turned the corner,” he added.

Only twelve days later the turn had been made:

Gen Stanley McChrystal had his own words. Helmand had “turned the corner” in its four year war, he told The Daily Telegraph.

In May 2011 a British General also noted the turn:

The civilians are looking to people such as General James Bucknall, a British Coldstream Guards officer who is second in command of the International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf).

[H]e sets out why he thinks a corner has now been turned, nodding to the surge in American troop numbers that has made it possible.

Six years earlier another British General had already seen that turn:

Handing over to 3 Commando Brigade, Brig Butler said: “When we prepared, we knew there would be rocky times ahead, and that things would get harder before they got easier. That has certainly been the case, but I judge we have turned the corner. We have achieved a huge amount.”

In May 2011 the U.S. Secretary of Defense was more cautious than the generals but nonetheless optimistic:

I think we could be in a position by the end of this year where we have turned the cornerin Afghanistan,” [U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates] said.

According to is boss, progress came faster than Gates anticipated. On June 23 2011 CBS headlined Obama: U.S. has turned corner in Afghanistan:

President Barack Obama on Thursday told American troops who’ve fought in Afghanistan that the U.S. has turned a corner after nearly 10 years of war, and it’s time for their comrades still in that country to start coming home.

Obama’s victory jump may have been a bit premature, but a month later the local commander agreed that the turning process had at least begun:

I spoke to Gen Petraeus as he stopped off in London on his way home from Afghanistan. In the interview, he spelled out what makes him think the country has begun to turn a corner after nearly 10 years of war.

In September 2012 another U.S. Secretary of Defense asserted that the turn had finally been completed:

[US Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta, however, has rejected suggestions that the strategy is failing, and on Friday he said “we have turned the corner,” in Afghanistan …

Four month later the Afghan President confirmed the turn:

[President] Karzai also said that Afghanistan has turned the corner in terms of battling the Taliban.

Karzai was very modest in acknowledging the turn. He knew that it had already happened much earlier:

On October 9th, 2004, Afghanistan turned the corner. After decades of invasion, civil war, and anarchy, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically-elected President of a united Afghanistan.

In May 2014 another man was elected President of Afghanistan. This finally turned the corner:

Tonight there is a sense that the country has turned a corner – a new president who will sign the BSA, a continuation of developmental aid and training programmes, and Afghanistan has more than a fighting chance.

A year later the Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani was encouraged by the corner turning progress the new government had made:

With the successful conclusion of the security and political transitions, Afghanistan turned the corner in our path to becoming a self-reliant nation.

Today, two and a half years later, General Nicholson is still in the corner turning business.

The corner turning in Afghanistan is similar to an earlier war the U.S. had fought in vain:

Of course, the Afghanistan War (ostensibly part of a Global War on Terrorism) differs from the Vietnam War (ostensibly part of the Cold War) in myriad ways. Yet it resembles Vietnam in three crucial respects. First, it drags on with no end in sight. Second, no evidence exists to suggest that mere persistence will produce a positive outcome. Third, those charged with managing the war have long since run out of ideas about how to turn things around.

Another similarity is the constant lying by the military spokespersons. The famous Five o’clock Follies of Vietnam have been replaced by video conferences and drone videos but the central issue is the same. The military is consistently and consciously lying to the public.

How many U.S. troops are there in Afghanistan? By law the Pentagon has to release the deployment numbers every three month. The latest release for September 2017 lists 15,298 soldiers and 1,202 DoD civilians in Afghanistan. But there are 29,092 soldiers listed in “unknown locations”. The generals must have lost these somewhere. The report also lists nearly 2,000 soldiers in Syrian and nearly 9,000 in Iraq. The publicly admitted numbers are way lower. They are as trustworthy as all the “turned corner” claims. Indeed:

The Defense Department’s publicly disclosed data, which tracks U.S. personnel levels in dozens of countries, are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting of troops deployed to any particular region,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon clearly states that official data and assertions are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting”. It is a warning. Whatever officials claim about this or that war, about “turned corners”, or casualties, or troop deployments, must be considered to be a lie until it has been confirmed by observation or additional sources.

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Borneo – Island Devastated, People Oblivious, Neocolonialist Nightmare

NOVANEWS

From Indonesian Borneo (Kalimantan): Andre Vltchek and Mira Lubis

She was just standing there, in the middle of burning land, surrounded by stumps of trees, fire everywhere, smoke rising towards hopelessly gray sky. The expression on her face was mischievous, almost girlish. I had no idea how old she was: she could have been 28, just as she could easily have been 55.

This island, this village, this charred land: it all looked like hell to me, but obviously not to her: it actually made her laugh, burst with pride.

After all, it was her island, not mine; it was her land, her trees, and it was all getting royally fucked. She was personally participating in this carnage of nature – she, as well as her husband, her entire family, her neighbors.

Her name was Bu Elvi. ‘Bu’ means mom, or mam or Misses, in Bahasa Indonesia. Her scorched land spans near the village of DusunTerusan, and DusanTerusan is near Sintang, in the heart of Borneo, on the largest island in Asia, which is also the second largest island in the world, on what we habitually call ‘our Planet Earth’; although frankly, this moonscape of Indonesian Borneo/Kalimantan has very little to do with what used to bethe ‘blue planet’.

Bu Elvi

“I follow stock exchange regularly”, Bu Elvi brags, boastfully:

“I know that prices of rubber went down at least three times, lately. Now we will burn all this down, since the government refuses to give us any substantial compensation… and then, we will plant some vegetables, at least for a while.”

“And then?” we ask. “What if the prices of rubber go up again?”

“Then, well…” she hesitates, but for just a few moments. Regaining her bearings, she declares, defiantly:

“If that happens, we will burn the vegetables and reintroduce the rubber plantation.”

Now it is all black around her. It is desperate and depressing. But she doesn’t look suicidal,miserable, or even guilty. She does precisely what she was told to do under General Suharto’s military dictatorship, which was sponsored by the United States and the rest of the West. She does what she was taught to do right after the dictatorship collapsed (at least on paper) -in the present era of savage capitalism and unbridled thieving, which has also been clearly supported from abroad. She is making money. She is simply producing dough. She does not rely on anybody, she is well aware of the bottom line: nobody will give her anything. Even if she were starving to death, she would get nothing. And so she opts to be‘independent’, as well as strong, aggressive, arrogant and observed from some distance, mildly insane.

She is of course religious, as everyone in this country is forced to be from his or her childhood. Most likely, she doesn’t give a damn about this life, as there is, she believes, something much better, ‘somewhere else and big’, right after this suffering on Earth.

She is a tough woman, a ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of person, in short a ‘new Indonesian’.

Can one blame her? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. She has to live, to survive in this inhuman, savage system, designed and injected from somewhere, from far away.

Still, the land is burning. Here and all around Sintang, all around Borneo, and in all corners of this entire Indonesian archipelago.

Would she opt for the independence of her island, if such an option were to be available?

She doesn’t need to think; she is suddenly absolutely certain. She clenches her right fist, grinning at us: “Merdeka! Independence!”

I am wondering whether it matters, whether it matters at all, who is ruling over this island. Fascism, savage capitalism, as well as the collaboration with foreign powers and institutions, has created a monoculture in this once great archipelago whose motto stated proudly:‘Unity in Diversity’.

If there is merdeka, and if Bu Elvi rules, would the land stop burning?

*

I spoke to a woman near the city of Samarinda, in Eastern Kalimantan. She was selling some fruits and crackers in a small store, predominantly serving workers from the immense plantations located literally behind her back. No primary forest was left anywhere in the vicinity. Everything in the area was black, or green, but if green it covered by sawit, the Indonesian word for palm oil.

Her business was so-so, she said, nothing spectacular. Frankly, she was hardly making ends meet,and she had no health insurance, no housing subsidies, and no financial support from the government. Despite all this, she appeared to be content. Or at least she said that she was:

“We don’t have any fires around here, anymore. Before, when there was still some tropical forest left, there were constant fires. Now it is all quiet.”

“Isn’t it because the palm oil companies and mining multi-nationals finally got what they always wanted?” I wondered. “Now they do what they desire. They cut down everything. Why would anyone burn things now? Forest is gone… Island is totally ruined. Palm oil, open mines and rubber plantations are covering almost entire surface of it…”

She stares at me, blankly. She does not understand what am I talking about, at what am I hinting at. She is confused. No one speaks like this, here. No one thinks this way. No one thinks, anymore, full stop…

*

“I used to come here every weekend,” whispers Ms Mira Lubis, a professor at Tanjungpura University in Pontianak city:

“It used to be so serene, so beautiful. This beach… My beach… My father was a doctor. He worked very hard. When he got tired, he took us all here, an entire family. I used to play in the pristine sand, with my brothers… I used to swim here. Now just look around…”

She shows me her childhood photos. I can see ‘her beach’, as it used to be, decades ago. I can see it now. She has tears in her eyes.

I look around. And it is all ruined: someone poured concrete over the sand: terrible job, thoroughly amateurish. Ugly stalls are everywhere, like sores. The sand area was reduced to just a couple of meters. Some huts and ugly, crumbling structures double as a ‘seaside hotel’.

Poisoned land after gold mining in Borneo

The beach appears to be totally abandoned and forgotten. The only thing that is never forgotten in Indonesia is an entrance fee; charging random visitors for entering anything, even this devastated place. In this country, nothing is public, nothing is free, and nothing is for the people. Even destruction is promoted as an attraction, as a ‘tourist destination’. You stop your car near the emergency room of a hospital: you have to pay… You enter a disaster area, a place ruined by a mining company somewhere in East Java: you are forced to pay. Scarred nature, ruined land quickly becomes a sightseeing attraction! You essentially pay for everything in Indonesia, especially if you are dirt poor.

Mira is walking slowly along ‘her beach’. She is deep in thoughts; she looks devastated. Her calm childhood memories are now confronted by reality, which appears to be simply monstrous. Her green island inhabited by ancient cultures and thousands of species of animals, birds and plants, now resembles a computer-generated image from a second-rate horror film.

She specializes in water communities, but the water is poisoned, mighty waterways polluted.

Far away, there is a brilliant, purple-red sunset covering the entire horizon. The sun is setting down behind a cluster of offshore islands. It is a brilliant, stunning sight. Borneo used to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But now, only contours are left; contours, memories and bitterness.

*

Again, I work; we work – filming, photographing and talking to local people. I don’t need any data. There is no need for theories. This is all clear, raw, absolutely indisputable.

Everything can be ‘explained’ and ‘neutralized’ by complex and ‘scientific’ theories, by going round in circles, by blurring the reality. Indonesian ‘science’ and academia, after 1965, has produced nothing useful for the country and for humanity, but they do one thing well: ‘muddying the water’, confusing and complicating things, making sure that what is obvious from the first sight, is squarely disputed, denied.Hundreds, perhaps thousands of PhD’s are made this way and for this very purpose, annually.

And the island is burning. Filthy chemical streams are everywhere. There is “illegal” gold mining on the land and in the middle of the mighty but horrendously polluted rivers of Borneo; mining is visible from the air and surface, but controlled by ‘influential individuals’, even by armed forces, and therefore untouchable.

Borneo is now synonymous with mining and logging, as well as with terrible plantations that have already cannibalized most of the land. Nothing is being produced, but everything has been extracted.

People are losing their land. They are losing health, even lives. The world is losing its ‘lungs’ – the tropical forests – or more precisely, it has already lost them all around this unfortunate archipelago.

Savage capitalism, moral and financial corruption, multi-national companies on the loose; this is a sad, even horrifying reality of the country, which totally lost its bearing.

Borneo, it appears, is nearing the end. The entire Indonesia is nearing the endgame, but it is considered ‘politically incorrect’ to mention it in the West, particularly in the mainstream media. Indonesia is, after all, ruining itself, so the West can prosper. It was like that during colonialism, and it has been like that, again, ever since the US-sponsored military coup of 1965.

I work feverishly in Borneo: I film, I write and photograph. Others are standing by me, trying to help. Are we going to achieve anything? I hope we will; we have to, otherwise, soon, here and elsewhere, everything will be finished, privatized, commercialized and eventually destroyed.

Palm oil processing factory near Singkawang

I also work in Afghanistan, in the Middle East and in several fully ruined countries of Africa. Everything here, in Borneo, appears to be extremely familiar. Is it really peace that is reigning here? I’m highly doubtful. To me it looks like a war, like an extremely brutal war. It looks like the war of people against their own people, the war of people against nature, against all living beings and species; a war against the forests and river, and even against life itself.

It looks like a neo-colonialist nightmare. It once used to be the most beautiful place in Asia, now it is scarred, charred and in terrible pain. But it is still breathing; it is alive. And what is alive is always worth fighting for.

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Macro-economics and Social Inequality: A Thanksgiving Letter to Our Wealthiest 1% Americans

NOVANEWS

As this Thanksgiving holiday comes to an end and the Xmas season approaches, let’s not forget to give thanks to our richest 1% fellow Americans and their corporations. Thanks to all 1.25 million of you from the 130 million of us 99 percenters households. 

Your stewardship of the US economy has allowed us to keep 5% of all the national income created since the last recession in 2009; while you wealthiest 1% got to keep the other 95% (see UC Berkeley economist, Emmanuel Saez’s annual income inequality analyses).

But the more you get to keep, the more you can ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us, right? So say your politicians, talking media heads, economists, and other assorted hirelings. So thanks very much for at least sharing something with us.

If not sharing wages, we certainly got more jobs to be thankful for from you—who lose no opportunity to proclaim you are the source of all job creation.

Since 2009, you ‘gave’ us millions of part time, temp, contract, on call, and gig jobs. True, mostly low paid, without pensions or benefits jobs. Better than nothing jobs. And while it took you 8 years to re-create the level of jobs we had back in 2007, better late than never, right? Even if our pre-2008, higher paid jobs were replaced mostly by lower paid after 2008, it sure beats unemployment benefits. So thank all of you 1% self-proclaimed job creators for all the low paid, no benefit, service jobs you eventually did create for us.

As owners of the system you certainly had a difficult task managing your complex, mega-corporation called the USA economy, keeping all those foreign competitors and troublemakers in line with the US economic empire. You know, those ‘russkies’ that just won’t lay down and play dead anymore, those too clever Chinese, and all those assorted ‘rocket men’. But that’s what our 1000 offshore military bases are for, aren’t they? Our trillion dollar a year defense budget is well worth it.

And getting us out of the worst economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930s in 2008-09 was no easy task for you, we know. So all of you 1.25 million wealthiest 1% households deserve every dollar you’ve diverted in the process of economic recovery these past 8 years, including:

  • The $6 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payouts paid out to you from your corporations since 2008 (see Yardeni Research, November 2017);
  • The nearly 400% increase in the value of your stock holdings (see the DOW, S&P 500 and Nasdaq combined market gains since 2008);
  • The additional $ trillions in capital gains income you earned on bond interest and capital gains since the last recession;
  • Your share of half of the $1.9 trillions in ‘pass through’ non-corporate business income net gains since 2007 (see US national income accounts);
  • The unknown $ trillions more you earned from investing in derivatives in offshore markets that you don’t report, which even the US government cannot discover;
  • The still additional $ trillions more you stuffed in your offshore accounts to avoid paying US taxes (see recent revelations from the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’);
  • The $2 trillion cash your bank and non-bank US corporations are still sitting on in the US, and another $2 trillion your multinational corporations are hoarding offshore—together earmarked at least in part for your personal future distribution (see Moody’s Analytics).

That’s easily more than $15 trillion in cash, near-cash, and easily convertible to cash sources of income accumulated over the past 8 years (and excludes the earnings from real estate and real property)—to be shared amongst the 1.25 million of you.

In total wealth and assets, not just income, American households held $58 trillion in net worth in 2009; that has since risen to $105 trillion, according to the US Federal Reserve bank’s latest 2017 report. Since median US Households’ net worth is still 30% below 2007 levels—and 90% of all US households are still below 2007 levels (per the New York Times, September 28, 2017)—the lion’s share of that $47 trillion total gain in net worth must therefore have gone to you one percenters. Congratulations. (Can’t wait to get my trickle down share. Please send by way of this blog address).

Let’s not forget to thank in particular the bankers among you. While it’s true they gave us the 2007-09 financial crash that led to 14 million home foreclosures and $4 trillion in our lost savings, your bankers did allow us to offset our stagnant wages these past 8 years with more loans and debt.

So thank you bankers, for the $1.4 trillion in student debt, the $1.2 trillion in credit card debt, and the more than $1 trillion in auto loan debt. That’s $3.6 trillion! Who needs wage increases when we can borrow our way to prosperity!

And while we’re talking about banks, let’s not forget to thank our central bankers, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, for buying up all bad investments you one percenters made before the 2008 crash. I mean the subprime mortgage bonds and other securities you got stuck with and couldn’t sell, that Ben and Janet generously bought from you at above market prices. That was another $5 to $6 trillion cash subsidy to your professional investor class.

By the way, I hear Ben is now making the speech circuit rounds, speaking to your bankers and companies for a fee of $200k per pop, and is serving on your corporate boards? And Janet has just announced she’ll soon also be leaving the Fed and joining him. Reward them well, Mr. and Mrs. 1%. They’ve done yeoman work for your banks, providing loans at 0.15% for 7 years, while the US government charged students 6.8% student loan rates and grandma and grandpa retirees lost more than $1 trillion in fixed income savings as result of near zero interest rates.

And let’s not forget your great multinational corporations who’ve been offshoring our high paying jobs made possible by free trade treaties like NAFTA. You know, the tech companies, big pharmaceutical companies, auto parts and textiles, and all the rest. Now we can buy cheaper priced products at Walmart and Target from you that they make in Mexico, China, and Indonesia.

Like loading up on Loan debt, free trade is so much better than getting wage increases!

And this season let’s not forget to thank your politicians that you help finance their elections. Thanks to George W. Bush for cutting taxes by $3.4 trillion. And Obama and the Democrats for cutting your taxes by another $1.1 trillion during the recession, and then extending the Bush tax cuts in 2013 for another decade by a further $5 trillion. Now their heir to the presidency, Uncle Donald, is proposing another $4.5 trillion tax cut for you one percenters, for yet another decade. I can’t wait for all the ‘trickle down’ that’s finally coming.

Your Republican party politicians (aka one wing of your Corporate Party of America) can’t take all the credit. Your Democrat wing deserves some. So thanks to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer, for their current efforts to broker a deal with Uncle Donald to let the 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ kids stay in America—in exchange for agreeing to deport their parents and for funding the border Wall with Mexico.

I do hope that next year Nancy and Uncle Donald can revisit the repeal of the ACA-Obamacare Act. It will mean another $592 billion tax cut for you one percenters and your corporations, and maybe then even more trickle down to us 99%. All those single moms with kids, disabled persons, and mentally ill don’t really need the improvements in Medicaid they got from the ACA. They were doing just fine before.  You one percenters need the tax cuts more.

In conclusion, I’d like to give special thanks to your most famous one percenter, Don Trumpeone, a member of the wealthiest .01% (or 12,600) super richest households within your ranks, whose income gains in 2016 averaged $65 million.

Thank you, Don Trumpeone, for keeping us 99% safe in 2017. We ‘kiss your hand’. This year not one American was killed by the North Koreans, or by the Russians in the Ukraine, or by those violent Yemenis and world domination seeking Iranians—even though 60,000 Americans have died from the Opioid epidemic (started by the big Pharma companies) this past year; another 38,000 of us died from guns made in the US (291,000 since 2007); and the USA has continued to fall below its 20th ranking in infant mortality among the advanced nations while our teen suicide rate has doubled since 2007.

We 99% have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. And you 1%–and your corporations, politicians, and media pundits—are largely responsible. So God keep blessing America. Let’s all stand for the flag. And thank you, our wealthiest 1% fellow Americans, the richest and greatest generation the world has ever seen.

Posted in USAComments Off on Macro-economics and Social Inequality: A Thanksgiving Letter to Our Wealthiest 1% Americans

The Responsibility of Freedom. Block the Despots. Turn the Tide of History

NOVANEWS

On the Integration of the Spiritual and the Social

A lot of people are writing and talking about spirit, higher self, personal enlightenment, shining health, transformation and the attainment of the Godly. A lot of people are following the words of those who proclaim knowledge of the above.

It is clear that many are searching for the security of a sound spiritual path to lead them through the material and mental chaos. Something that will bring with it a new awareness and sense of reality.

But this immediately raises the question: once having set off down this road – what will one do with the new found power which comes with traveling it? This opening-up of a new dimension of personal awareness and inner freedom.

Will one be content to simply carry on with ‘life as usual’ basking in the sense of uplift generated by this elevated sense of being? Perhaps one will change one’s diet. Buy a purer toothpaste. Take a brisk run each morning. Get a better juicer. Practice regular yoga and positive thinking. Even maybe seek to move to the fresher air of the countryside?

These are the ‘life changing’ messages that emanate from ‘Enlightenment plc’: the glossy mind, body, spirit periodicals; the earnest conferences; the retreats and the copious on-line sites devoted to self improvement. Nothing exactly wrong with any of these, of course, except that they mostly simply offer bolt-on ‘improvements’ to the existing status quo. More a kind of self enhancing escape route than a going forward to build something entirely different. Which, of course, is what is actually needed.

What is so evidently missing here, is instruction to the initiate to direct this new found energy outwards – into actions that help transform the dire state of life and of people on this planet. We cannot escape this material dimension in which we find ourselves, but we can help to transform it, by bringing our newly acquired four dimensional insights to bear on the largely static status quo.

To become aware, and therefore in a certain sense ‘to be free’, carries with it responsibility. A responsibility to help bring about a radical change (in society). A change informed by the bigger awareness achieved by our new found consciousness. This is the pay-back we are bound to make. For having ‘seen the truth’ one cannot then hide from it. One cannot simply sit crossed-legged and dream of a better life.

Once blessed with a little enlightenment, we are in a position to recognize that inner personal development and outer actions for positive change – are two parts of one whole. Just as inhaling and exhaling are also two parts of one whole. Only when the two are united – and made one – can we truly express our God given potential.

There is no spiritual ‘enlightenment’ without complementary grounded actions in which to pour our greater vision for the betterment of humanity. Such outward actions can also be termed ‘service to humanity’.

‘Enlightenment plc’ has tried to deceive us in this. Enlightenment plc says “No problem, you can escape from the material third dimension by seeking higher consciousness in the fourth dimension and leaving the problems of the world behind you. Pay your dues and tune in to us – and you will be healthy, happy, untainted by the greed, violence and destruction going on around you!” Yes, there is no doubt about it, the self-salvation road show is booming. Millions, who can afford to pay its fees, swear to its efficacy and personal rewards.

How tempting then, to jump in and turn one’s back on this deeply wounded world; leaving the 0.2% control freaks to carry on their take-over, unopposed and unnoticed.

How easy it is to leave the management of this jewel into which we were born and of which we are trustees – to those who are totally indifferent to its fate. Those whose only interest is money, power and control. Complete control over everything. Yes, it’s oh so tempting to evade our responsibilities as guardians of planet earth, and escape into this chimeric deception called ‘freedom’.

Real freedom is wholeness. And wholeness is the putting back together of that which has been made separate. The spiritual is all too often seen as disconnected from the physical and practical. And the practical and physical seen as separate from the spiritual. Separate entities. The powers of the spirit plane remain divorced, and even in opposition, to the powers of the material plane. Indeed, one is often considered superior to the other. As two halves, neither one is whole. Without integration, both remain only half of what they should be. Only half of what they are.

The maintaining of this division is the key trick played on us by our oppressors. It is the Ace card in their control pack. We need to recognize this and act on it.

There is a deeply disquieting mismatch between what aspirants get high on and the actual state of life on earth. The tens of thousands who diligently work on their asanas; who meditate daily; who keep only to the obligatory diets; who purify their drinking water and try to do the same to their souls. Supposedly ‘awakened ones’ who turn a blind eye on reality, choosing to remain ‘politically correct’ and aloof from the fray.

Such individuals strive to remain untouched by the contaminated world around them. Not daring to face the fact that the contamination is there because they make no effort to prevent it. That the wars carry on because they make no effort to stop them. That people are abused because they make no effort to defend them. That the main abusers continue to push open the doors, because it is not considered ‘spiritually correct’ to block them.

Is this really the great road to human emancipation?

When, I dare to ask, will such individuals be willing to channel the fruits of their awakening into bringing down the despots of destruction? Those who continue to hold them and this planet to ransom. When will they dare to face the truth and act on it?

For at present too many are living a lie and calling it truth. They are simply perpetuating the failings of those who are always on the look-out for ‘a great escape’.

To make life whole, the spiritual/mental plane must be fully integrated into the physical/practical plane – and vice versa of course. Our true power lies in the marriage of social activism and spiritual aspiration. For in essence they are One, but have been divided against each other. Divided in two by powers that seek to derail humanity and capture the planet for their own despotic ends.

By integrating a steadily awakening spiritual awareness with a determination to bring deep social change – we can and will – overcome the divisive hold exerted by our oppressors. This is the only, yes only, way to achieve true liberation. Now is the time to unite.

Time is short. We are very far down the road of divide and conquer. This blood and war stained road to ruin. A state, we can now admit, which has been brought about through our own passivity and abstention, and through the control system capitalizing on this abstention. Let us not pretend that we are so delusional to imagine we can live-out our lives as enlightened slaves. One day, those who persist in turning their backs, may be rudely reminded of their selfish indifference by a uniformed thug with a gun in his hand. By then it’s too late.

Now is the time to take control of our destinies  – to get on the front foot and seize the initiative. Words alone will not cut the ice, neither will prayers alone. In the end actions always speak louder than words. All those who claim the sanctity of the spirit, cannot forever turn away from confronting those who continue to systematically destroy the very air we breath, the very food we eat, the very water we drink, the very earth we live on.

We are fully equipped with – but have as yet failed to manifest – the courage necessary to turn the tide of history and to block the despots from tearing apart the uniquely precious soul of man and the beating heart of our living planet. True acts of love and of freedom manifest as bold and defiant determination. A far cry from the call for ‘love and light’ to sweeten one’s self satisfied journey to a chimeric salvation.

There is no time to lose. A totalitarian jack-boot is about to crush our deepest and most precious aspirations. We must rise up and stand firm against it.

By bringing together, into unity, spiritual aspiration and social activism, we will be taking a quantum leap towards true empowerment. We will be instrumental in catalyzing a great turning point in humanity’s struggle to throw off its adversaries and lay the foundations of genuine freedom.

By breaking the chains of divide and conquer, we can – and will – bring to our doorstep the great victory we long for. A victory which, at this very moment, lies right in the palm of our hands.

Posted in EducationComments Off on The Responsibility of Freedom. Block the Despots. Turn the Tide of History

Who’s in the Pocket of the Russians?

NOVANEWS

Who’s in the Pocket of the Russians? Why Prosecutor Robert Mueller Is Really Indicting Trump’s One Time Foreign Policy Adviser Michael Flynn

Mueller Versus Flynn

 

The mainstream narrative is that squeaky-clean special prosecutor Robert Mueller is going to indict Trump’s one-time foreign policy advisor Michael Flynn because Flynn is in the pocket of the Russians and the Turks.

But the truth might be totally different …

After all, Flynn’s meeting with Russian diplomats was completely normal, according to a prominent U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

So why is Mueller really going after Flynn?

When Flynn was head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and afterwards, he blew the whistle on the U.S. and its allies willfully allowing Islamic terrorists to flourish in Syria.

That didn’t ingratiate him with the Deep State …

Then last November, Flynn ruffled more feathers by writing:

The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former President Clinton once called his “friend” in a well circulated video.

Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist. He has publicly boasted about his “soldiers” waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do.

***

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network.

***

To add insult to injury, American taxpayers are helping finance Gülen’s 160 charter schools in the United States. These schools have been granted more H1-B visas than Google. It is inconceivable that our visa officers have approved thousands of visas for English teachers whose English is incomprehensible. A CBS “60 Minutes” program documented a conversation with one such imported English teacher from Turkey. Several lawsuits, including some in Ohio and Texas, point to irregularities in the operation of these schools.

However, funding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gülen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.” It is now no secret that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close aide and confidante, worked for 12 years as the associate editor for a journal published by the London-based Institute of Minority Muslim Affairs. This institute has promoted the thoughts of radical Muslim thinkers such as Qutb, al Bana and others.

***

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven.

Now, Mueller is reportedly investigating Flynn specifically for his criticism of Gülen.

Who Is Gülen

So who is Gülen, really?

The Atlantic notes:

[Gülen’s organization] is rumored to have between 1 and 8 million adherents.

The Hill reported last year:

What lies underneath [Gülen’s] charter-school network, however, is a possible undercurrent of white-collar crime and corruption. Known in Turkey as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization or FETÖ this growing network is being investigated by the FBI for everything from fraud and malpractice, to misuse of public funds. One spokeswoman for the bureau said that an investigation is ongoing and FBI agents carried out raids at 19 Gülen-affiliated charter schools in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in 2014.

***

Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks demonstrate a concern by U.S. officials that these Turkish teachers and businesses “might be using the reputation of the school as a cover to get to the U.S.” These cables state that the H1B visa applications were “not convincing” and that Gülen’s more moderate message “cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda.”

***

Receiving approximately $150 million a year in tax breaks and subsidies, government officials are increasingly concerned that taxpayer dollars are being used to fund a close-knit network of Turkish teachers and businesses using charter schools as a Trojan horse for embedding into the U.S. education system.

Private intelligence company Stratfor notes:

Gulen [said] that in order to reach the ideal Muslim society “every method and  path is acceptable [including] lying to people”.

Documents leaked by Wikileaks has shown that American officials have been worried Gülen could be targeting children across the U.S. for radicalization:

In 2005, one U.S. embassy worker expressed concern about the schools: “We have multiple reliable reports that the Gülenists use their school network (including dozens of schools in the U.S.) to cherry pick students they think are susceptible to being molded as proselytizers,” U.S. Embassy officials in Ankara said in a 2005 report. And we have steadily heard reports about how the schools indoctrinate boarding students,” they said.”

Vox notes:

Among other charges, critics allege that the schools were a scheme to replace US teachers with Turkish immigrants, who were then expected to transfer money back to Gülen organizations. This resulted in investigations from the FBI, Labor Department, and Education Department. An audit of Georgia Gülen charters found that they improperly awarded contracts to affiliated businesses, and in 2014 the FBI raided 19 Gülen-affiliated schools in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. A Gülen school in New Orleans lost its charter in 2011 after allegations of cheating and sexual misconduct involving kindergartners.

***

Secular critics in Turkey have long attacked the Gülen movement as a stalking horse for more thoroughgoing Islamism.

In the 1980s, Turkish generals — who at the time were in control of the government following a military coup — accused Gülen of plotting a takeover to install an Islamic dictatorship. As Al-Monitor’s Murat Bilgincan explains, Gülen went on the run for about six years before being arrested.

***

In 2000, the Turkish government, then led by secularist Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, indicted Gülen on charges of attempting to undermine Turkish secularism — a core feature of the state since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the Turkish Republic in 1922 — and trying to install a Islamic dictatorship.

***

In other words, the Gülen movement was for many years a crucial ally of Erdoğan and the AKP — acting as a grassroots arm with significant funding that could support Erdoğan’s attempts to fight back secularists and, in the eyes of critics, suppress dissent.

A diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks notes that Turkey’s chief Rabbi said about Gülen:

[There’s a] belief in parts of the U.S. government that he is a “radical Islamist” whose moderate message cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda

The Washington post reported in 2011:

A memoir by a top former Turkish intelligence official claims that a worldwide moderate Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s.

The memoir, roughly rendered in English as “ess to Revolution and Near Anarchy,” by retired Turkish intelligence official Osman Nuri Gundes, says the religious-tolerance movement, led by an influential former Turkish imam by the name of Fethullah Gulen, has 600 schools and 4 million followers around the world.

In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone, according to a report on his memoir Wednesday by the Paris-based Intelligence Online newsletter.

(Gundes was chief of Turkish intelligence long before Turkey’s current dictator, Erdogan, came onto the scene, and doesn’t seem to have any connection with him.)

Interviews of Gülen’s former top assistants say that Gülen is running a cult, that he wants to rule Turkey and the Middle East, and that he won’t hesitate to use violence to make it happen:

Gülen is certainly supported by at least some former American intelligence and state department officials, at least in some capacity. After all, Gülen’s application for a Green Card to live in the U.S. was  supportedby ex-CIA agent George Fidas, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, and former CIA Deputy Director Graham Fuller.   Another former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Marc Grossman, receives $100,000 per month (that’s $1.2 million per year) from a Gülen company called the Ilhas Group.

The Turkish government has labeled Gülen and his followers as a terrorist network.    This is ironic, given that Gülen was instrumental in converting Turkey from a secular to Islamic government, and electing Turkey’s leader Erdogan. Until recently, Gülen was a very close ally of Turkish strongman Erdogan.

FBI Whistleblower Says Gülen Is a Terror Kingpin

Sibel Edmonds – a former FBI translator who has been deemed credible by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, several senators (free subscription required), and a coalition of prominent conservative and liberal groups, who the ACLU described as “The most gagged person in the history of the United States of America”, and who famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says possesses information “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers” – has for years tried to tell the truth about corruption related to Gülen:

In a series of interviews over the last couple of years, Edmonds has said that – when she worked for the FBI as a translator – she saw documents showing that:

  • Gülen is the leader of one of the world’s largest terror networks, with terrorist training centers throughout the Middle East and central Asia
  • He is a key player in false flag terrorism in Turkey and other areas
  • He was key in changing Turkey from a secular country to an Islamic country, and electing dictator Erdogan
  • He is involved in heroin and other drug networks, selling nuclear material on the black market, and money-laundering
  • Gülen has contributed large sums of money to the Clintons through the Clinton Foundation
  • Gülen’s handler in the U.S. is former long-time CIA officer – and current CIA contractor – Graham Fuller
  • When Mueller was the Director of the FBI, he was instrumental in covering up Gülen’s terrorist activities and spiking prosecution against Gülen
  • Mueller is now trying to throw Flynn in jail, to silence his efforts to expose Gülen

This video goes into some of these allegations.

Washington’s Blog asked Edmonds what documents she saw while at the FBI which implicated Gülen as a terrorist mastermind.  She responded:

Gülen’s FBI cases:

1- White Collar Crime Division: had to do with front/shell companies and NGOs used for money laundering and bribery (political contributions to various political action committees).

2- Terrorism & Criminal Divisions: US derived funds being transferred to international hubs for various terror cells (including Chechen groups), Gulen’s Pakistani-Arab-Turkish operatives in US involved in heroin smuggling into US, Gulen-affiliated Turkish businessmen with cash-only companies (Ex: Re-selling used clothes previously contributed to charity groups like GoodWill) in Chile and other S. American countries (as money-laundering ops), …

3- Counterintelligence Division (Washington DC Field Office): Espionage (State Department, DOJ, RAND Corporation),  Bribery and extortion of dozens of elected officials,  including Hastert, Jan Schakowsky, Bob Creamer, Jane Schmidt …

Gülen has pocketed strategically positioned police chiefs such as the one for Fairfax County (Where CIA HQ is located among with several dozens of top Intel & MIC contractors) …

In other words, Edmonds says that Gülen is a terror kingpin and drug smuggler who launders vast sums of money, and bribes U.S. officials and officials throughout the world … and Mueller is going after Flynn in order to protect Gülen and the corrupt politicians he’s in bed with.

Posted in RussiaComments Off on Who’s in the Pocket of the Russians?

Subverting Authoritarianism by Empowering Learners and Democratizing Education

NOVANEWS

What happens to a nation when non-conformists are labeled as “enemies of the people” and their counter-views are described as “alternative facts?”

Authoritarianism can be subverted if learning environments on college campuses are democratized to meet learner needs.

What happens to a nation when non-conformists are labeled as “enemies of the people” and their counter-views are described as “alternative facts?”

What happens when the ideas and beliefs of American citizens are rejected by the government due to their religion?

What happens when the polity continuously ignores its constituents and avidly deconstructs affordable internet availability?

What happens when critical thought is observed with contempt?

What happens when a society’s economic disparities continue to widen?

What happens when violence worsens across traditional socio-economic bounds and it is ignored?

What happens when questioning these concerns becomes inappropriate or even illegal?

The Frankfurt School and Authoritarianism

In 1922, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Max Horkheimer founded the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany, or what would eventually be known as The Frankfurt School. Their research critically analyzed Western history by critiquing the ideological forces and structures that seemingly constrain people. Their goal in this critique? Individual liberation to reject or revise the conditions authorities have enforced as measures of constraint for the sake of conformance. The notion of defining the conditions of social subjugation became known as critical theory and, thus, evolved into a natural doctrine for redefining what it means to be truly emancipated.

In 1933, less than 10 years after its inception, the Frankfurt School was temporarily transferred, first to Geneva in 1933, and then to New York and Columbia University in 1935.

But why was such a move necessary? An emerging political party had taken control of Germany called the Nazis.

This makes the Institute’s move both ironic and a poignant. It is a reminder that its emphasis on questioning authority could never be realized without a societal and governmental structure capable of entertaining notions of non-conformance.

Such is the nature of a democracy and the antithesis of authoritarianism.

An authoritarian framework always seeks to overtake those structures that would otherwise subvert the total power it sways and deem them as dangerous or irrelevant to the public good. In fact, authoritarian regimes are notorious for punishing those engaging in what may be observed as “dangerous thinking.”But Hannah Arendt argued that all thinking is dangerous because it is individual thought that questions the relevance of the status quo. It is also the bedrock any civically engaged citizenry needs to critically think about how today’s reality will affect tomorrow’s democracy. This is especially true when dangerous thinking must traverse through the muck of radical extremist views, white nationalism, isolationism, and petty policies that push the needle of societal thought to the margins.

But where can these can ideas be discussed without reservation?

Education’s Subversion of Authoritarianism

Colleges and universities are the original bastions of dangerous thinking. These institutions reinforce scholars to question everything that is sacred.In doing so, the role of higher education is solidified as a pivotal mechanism for perpetuating a political democracy and an informed citizenry.

But the educative process for becoming an informed citizenry is not a one-way street.

Educators must recognize how to convey knowledge in a way that learners can engage on their terms. This is not pandering to the wants of the learner. Instead, this is an act of counterbalancing the learners’ needs with the educational methods that allow learners to understand the knowledge being conveyed.

This is not a revolutionary call to arms. Creating authentic and bespoke learning environments that liberate the minds of learners has been an impetus for educators since the era of John Dewey. However, in an age where the proliferation of students in blended learning environments is common, the ability for an educator to account for the needs of a learner is all but impossible without smaller class sizes and a legion of additional faculty. In that context, educators are better able to humanize their learners and emancipate them from being merely a passive object, thus empowering them to be interested and communicative. Learners then become an active part of the learning processbecause it has been democratized by, with, and through their needs. As a result, learners find an appreciation of power relations within the education system and society at large, so long as they see their input is relevant to the process at hand.

Yet, regardless of how small the classes are or how energetic the educator, in the end the learner must decide to be an active participant in the learning process, just as in the democratic process. It is truly their decision. In choosing to do so, learners must share their ideas while challenging the accepted assumptions of the time. They must also be free to do so by their peers, educators, and the administrators of the institutions they attend, thus allowing them to find the motivation to be an active participant and build upon that motivation over time.

This way of thinking is a precondition for cultivating a citizenry that prefers understanding and questioning the nature of governance in lieu of blindly accepting it as a natural form of authority. A predicating factor for fostering such a society is a host of civically-minded educators who are conscious of learner needs, unwavering in the quality of the learning process, and democratically-minded towards an end of liberating the minds of learners. In achieving this, dangerous thinking and individuality is encouraged, thus giving learners an example of positive power relations and the necessary context to tackle authoritarianism.

Posted in EducationComments Off on Subverting Authoritarianism by Empowering Learners and Democratizing Education

For 70 Years, the New York Times Has Heralded Saudi Leaders as “Reformers”

NOVANEWS

Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University Abdullah Al-Arian has written an epic tweetstorm showing that the “paper of record” has long pretended that the leaders of our close “friends” (cough … radical head-choppers) the Saudis are on the verge of becoming “moderate”:

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

This piece from 1953 describes King Saud as “more progressive and international-minded than his autocratic father” pic.twitter.com/U8ZFLNX0Ko

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This piece from 1953 describes King Saud as “more progressive and international-minded than his autocratic father” pic.twitter.com/U8ZFLNX0Ko

This piece from 1957 doesn’t refer to Saudi Arabia specifically but it’s an epic headline nevertheless. pic.twitter.com/Gj6NB1DRtq

View image on Twitter

In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1960: “King Saud has increasingly assumed the role of liberal champion of constitutional reform.” (The Saudi constitution was adopted by royal decree in 1992). pic.twitter.com/3kwGcgnpDd

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1962: “The Oil Genie and the Sheikh” offers a tour of Gulf palaces that marvels at their “gilded furniture of impressive ugliness.” pic.twitter.com/EcFqhUpayE

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This article describes Kuwait and not Saudi Arabia. They’re very similar, yet very different, especially when it comes to democratic rights.

The rest of the article (not included here) provides descriptions from several other Gulf states. Here is part of the photo spread from Oman and Bahrain with the caption “‘heaven on earth”—air conditioned palaces, Cadillacs, girls” pic.twitter.com/j6p7LiMmZt

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

During the so-called “Arab Cold War” Saudi royals were supported as a bulwark against Nasserism. This 1963 piece celebrates Crown Prince Faisal’s “burst of social reform and economic development.” pic.twitter.com/OR6g73Zveh

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

“With his older brother no longer looking over his shoulder…” pic.twitter.com/8KlT0vPYiP

View image on Twitter

In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1964: “He is a man who has gained nearly absolute power without really wanting it.” pic.twitter.com/QYzWOKyzpE

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1964: “He is a man who has gained nearly absolute power without really wanting it.” pic.twitter.com/QYzWOKyzpE

Here Faisal is described as “ascetic, with only one wife, who lives on grilled meat and boiled vegetables and makes a fetish of moderation.” pic.twitter.com/SSQV0s822i

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

This 1975 obituary: “Faisal, Rich and Powerful, Led Saudis Into 20th Century“ pic.twitter.com/2YZm2O3M3A

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

Faisal’s successor, King Khalid, was a “moderating force” pic.twitter.com/MxmpR9vaAe

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

A couple of more headlines from 1975, including one on “planting the seeds of a parliamentary system in the kingdom.” pic.twitter.com/TlwWu1vLYv

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

An epic lede here from 1979: “His black Trans-Am sports car creeps along the Corniche Road on the edge of the Red Sea. To the left, skyscrapers jab into the humid air, a sight made more impressive by the desolation surrounding the ancient city of Jidda.” 😳 pic.twitter.com/0ljqekE2YN

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1982: “King Fahd has been depicted as the leading figure in a progressive, modernizing faction within the tradition-minded monarchy.” pic.twitter.com/lPPFWrW0QA

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1991-92: “major political changes,” “modernizers,” “governmental reform,” “and other political reforms” pic.twitter.com/0gRSPLSkjm

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1992: “In making the changes, King Fahd is following previous generations of Saudi rulers who had also moved toward modernization since King Abdelaziz united a vast territory populated by feuding tribal leaders into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia 60 years ago.” pic.twitter.com/3NXCn6oo54

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

1996: Friedman makes his first appearance, describing King Fahd as a “bulldozer” in tackling political problems on behalf of his US ally. pic.twitter.com/DoYcoyVxrE

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

2000: “Saudi Heir Urges Reform, and Turn From US” pic.twitter.com/9iFEJ963MH

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

2002: Friedman opines about the “2 futures” for Saudi Arabia, concluding “Which school would I bet on? Ask me in five years.” pic.twitter.com/msVsLawvKl

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

Luckily, we wouldn’t have to wait that long. On eve of Iraq invasion Friedman makes the case that war “could drive reform in the Arab/Muslim world” pic.twitter.com/ML6IfkE4uo

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

2005: “For Abdullah, who has fashioned himself as a reformer in a land where conforming to tradition is a virtue, the challenge now is to make good on longstanding promises for change.” pic.twitter.com/NlZWDWRphp

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

“Saudi King Tries to Grow Modern Ideas in Desert” 🤔pic.twitter.com/hEsHoH3jMp

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

2009: A cabinet reshuffle can sometimes be reform. pic.twitter.com/nOO7DCUARY

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

“More generally, the reform agenda has drawn momentum from King Abdullah’s personal popularity…” pic.twitter.com/Q0LrjTUPtm

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

“Yet by the Saudi’s premodern standards, the 85 year-old King Abdullah, with a harem of wives, is a social revolutionary.” pic.twitter.com/zQ2tAj1p9L

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

Saudi society is divided, but the monarch’s sympathies lie with the reformers. pic.twitter.com/x1siP4RnL6

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

From 2012: “King Faisal, in a rush to modernize his realm, created Saudi state television in the 1960s, and that bold step is widely believed to have led to his assassination” pic.twitter.com/ZZgrTLXi1y

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

Reporting from the front lines of the Arab uprisings in Dubai, Friedman calls Saudi King Abdullah “a real progressive” pic.twitter.com/Qf6bWuJUv6

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

King Abdullah’s 2015 obituary describes him as “…a cautious reformer amid great changes in the Middle East.” pic.twitter.com/urrdKRvkbk

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

Saudi Arabia’s economic revolution offers “tantalizing hints at even broader reforms.” 🤗 pic.twitter.com/lJEKbhrHcD

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

From earlier this month, this Friedman piece includes such gems as “he is much more McKinsey than Wahhabi — much more a numbers cruncher than a Quran thumper.” pic.twitter.com/g6pkppqmQi

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In honor of Thomas Friedman’s latest love letter to Saudi here is 70 years of the NY Times describing  royals in the language of .

And finally, the one that inspired it all, a hagiographic ode to royal reform that represents seven decades of strategic policy objectives barely concealed beneath recycled cultural tropes. pic.twitter.com/DQHeftCxnz

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Posted in Media, Saudi ArabiaComments Off on For 70 Years, the New York Times Has Heralded Saudi Leaders as “Reformers”


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