New Year’s Resolution for America

NOVANEWS

(Photo: jack/flickr/cc with overlay)

When anyone of us resolves toward self-improvement, it can impact the lives of those we love. How much more impact can we have, if in the new year we work to recreate the future of this country we love, by resolving to take bold steps in a new direction in a new year?

In 2015 I will observe the 48th anniversary of my public career, which began when I was a 20-year-old candidate for city council. In that time, with the help of many, I have seen miracles occur, outcomes change, new directions taken when people courageously strive to challenge a seemingly unshakeable status quo, on matters both personal and public. I remember well years ago in Cleveland, when a powerful corporate establishment dictated the sale of a city’s municipal electric system, yet through a long battle the heroic people of Cleveland, who I was proud to lead as Mayor, regained their rights, and our city’s lights.

Today, our nation’s government has been taken over by special interest groups and idealogues, who have rapidly distributed our nation’s wealth upwards, built a national security state to protect its hold on power and wealth, involved America in destructive, unnecessary wars abroad, ignored the escalating violence at home, and broken the laws of our nation with impunity, while punishing those who expose their unlawfulness.

This New Year, let us, as President Lincoln once pleaded “highly resolve” and organize to recreate our nation, summoning the vision of the Founders’ ceaseless quest, unfurled with the words, “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union….”

This is my New Year’s vision for our nation:

1. Ensure a full employment economy by reclaiming control of our money system.The US Constitution, in Article I, Section 8, provided Congress with the money power. The monetary system was privatized in 1913 and handed over to private bankers. As a result, we have a debt-based economic system, at the expense of the many, for the profit of a few.

As a Congressman, after years of study, I introduced the NEED Act, which will reclaim our constitutional rights and change monetary policy to ensure full employment, decent wages, housing, healthcare, education, retirement security and a rebuilt infrastructure, without raising taxes. It can be done if we are willing to break the shackles of a falsely constructed economic, social and political reality, which condemns Americans to lives of poverty.

2. Reclaim our right to privacy. In 2001, I voted against the Patriot Act …because I read it. In 2003, Rep. Ron Paul and I introduced a bill to repeal the Patriot Act, invoking Benjamin Franklin who warned, “Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.” Let 2015 be the moment when we confront the monstrous NSA, its illegal reach into our private lives, its promotion of self-censorship, and demand that Congress legislate to stop the NSA, once and for all, from treading on our 4th Amendment rights.

3. Make America a more peaceful place.
 On July 11, 2001, two months before 9/11, I was privileged to give language, form and structure to the hopes of the multitude of people who stand for peaceful societies. On that day, with support from across America, I brought forth a landmark bill to create a Department of Peace, to transform our approach to gun violence, gang violence, racial violence, police-community clashes, domestic violence, spousal abuse, child abuse, violence in the schools, and violence against people based on their sexual orientation.

Let us, in these times of increased violence, restore the dream of “Domestic Tranquility” nourished by President Jefferson and others, and reach a new awareness, a new consensus, to rid our nation of the thinking that violence is inevitable, through supporting the effort, now carried forth by Rep. Barbara Lee.

4. Transform America’s role in the world; focus on the needs of people here at home.The US has 662 bases in 38 foreign countries and has been involved militarily in over 100 nations. We have become entangled in wars for resources, wars for domination, wars for geo-political advantage, at a cost of trillions of dollars, driving the national debt and endangering the soul of our nation.

“America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy,” said President John Quincy Adams. Let 2015 be the year that we recreate at home an empire of democracy, a true citadel of freedom, and stop the plotting, the interventions, the wars, and the calamitous reach for world domination. This will require a concerted effort, to demand Congress and President Obama stop funding military build-ups, stop funding nuclear escalation, begin to disestablish the global US military empire and start taking care of things at home. Americans are ready.

My wife, Elizabeth, and I travelled to a dozen American cities recently and met with thousands of citizens who re-defined National Security in terms of human security – – jobs, health care, education, retirement security, safe communities and privacy.

5. Establish a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation. America was led into a war against Iraq, a war which killed over 1 million innocent Iraqis, a war which was based on every manner of deceit. In our name, and with our tax dollars, countless people were either killed, injured or tortured, their homes ruined, the land destroyed. It is time for Americans to know the truth about Iraq and other wars. Let us push Congress and the President to create a US Commission on Truth and Reconciliation.

We must require the highest level of accountability from those who have held the highest positions in our government. Lies which took us into war and established a national security state have separated us from each other, and from the world. Let us reunite in the spirit of truth and justice, seeking the moral high ground and a newer world.

6. Restore our relationship with nature and restore our planet. The Philosopher Thomas Berry wrote that “The Great Work” of our lives ought be restoring our relationship with the natural world. As the global temperatures rise, sea levels climb, we are beset by storm clouds of inaction from the poisonous, paralyzing self-interest of inhumane corporations. Nearly a decade ago, when I ran for President, I proposed aGlobal Green New Deal and a Works Green Administration“.

It is for us to gather the knowledge and resources, the strength and determination, to regenerate the soil, protect the land, purify the air, preserve the water, in a ceremony of personal, civic and political engagement which protects and celebrates the natural world as the precondition of life itself.

We can lessen climate disruption by changing the way we grow our food, and restoring our agricultural lands with regenerative organic (agroecological) practices. In doing so, we acknowledge that our food choices have the greatest single impact on our environment, and on our own health.

Let us face the New Year with the confidence that our ability to bring great change depends on our willingness to expect great things of each other and of ourselves. Our current condition of nationhood begs to be re-joined to the visionary confidence of those who 238 years ago announced the birth of a nation and the empowerment of ‘we the people’.

Let us summon great courage, and, through the work of our hands and our hearts, create anew the nation which we most desire, one that is blessed with peace, prosperity and justice.

Happy New Year. Welcome, 2015!

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North Korea/Sony Story Shows How Eagerly U.S. Media Still Regurgitate Government Claims

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‘Time and again,’ argues Greenwald, ‘many journalists mindlessly regurgitated the U.S. Government’s accusation against North Korea without a shred of doubt, blindly assuming it to be true, and then discussing, often demanding, strong retaliation.’ (Photo: Shutterstock)

The identity of the Sony hackers is still unknown. President Obama, in a December 19 press conference, announced: “We can confirm that North Korea engaged in this attack.” He then vowed: “We will respond. . . . We cannot have a society in which some dictator some place can start imposing censorship here in the United States.”

The U.S. Government’s campaign to blame North Korea actually began two days earlier, when The New York Times – as usual – corruptly granted anonymity to “senior administration officials” to disseminate their inflammatory claims with no accountability. These hidden “American officials” used the Paper of Record to announce that they “have concluded that North Korea was ‘centrally involved’ in the hacking of Sony Pictures computers.” With virtually no skepticism about the official accusation, reporters David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth deemed the incident a “cyberterrorism attack” and devoted the bulk of the article to examining the retaliatory actions the government could take against the North Koreans.

The same day, The Washington Post granted anonymity to officials in order to print this:

Other than noting in passing, deep down in the story, that North Korea denied responsibility, not a shred of skepticism was included by Post reporters Drew Harwell and Ellen Nakashima. Like the NYT, the Post devoted most of its discussion to the “retaliation” available to the U.S.

The NYT and Post engaged in this stenography in the face of numerous security expertsloudly noting how sparse and unconvincing was the available evidence against North Korea. Kim Zetter in Wired – literally moments before the NYT laundered the accusation via anonymous officials – proclaimed the evidence of North Korea’s involvement “flimsy.” About the U.S. government’s accusation in the NYT, she wisely wrote: “they have provided no evidence to support this and without knowing even what agency the officials belong to, it’s difficult to know what to make of the claim. And we should point out that intelligence agencies and government officials have jumped to hasty conclusions or misled the public in the past because it was politically expedient.”

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Civilian Deaths Soar In Iraq As US Soldiers Dig In For ‘Long Haul’

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Increasing numbers of American soldiers are on their way to Iraq even as the threat of combat casualties for those already on the ground appears to be rapidly escalating.
Iraqi refugees sit at the Khazir refugee camp outside Irbil north Iraq, Friday, June 20, 2014. (AP Photo)

As a new year begins and the number of U.S. military forces inside Iraq continues to increase, reporting by theWashington Post on Friday shows that despite repeated claims by the Obama administration that American soldiers are not “combat troops,” those stationed on the ground are  coming closer and closer to the edge of battles being waged between Iraqi forces and Islamic State fighters.

The Post reports:

In Iraq’s western Anbar province, more than 300 U.S. troops are posted at a base in the thick of a pitched battle between Iraqi forces, backed by tribal fighters, and well-armed Islamic State militants.

The militants, positioned at a nearby town, have repeatedly hit the base with artillery and rocket fire in recent weeks. Since the middle of December, the U.S.-led military coalition has launched 13 airstrikes around the facility.

U.S. troops have suffered no casualties in the attacks. But the violence has underlined the risks to American personnel as they fan out across Iraq as part of the expanding U.S. missiongainst the Islamic State, even as President Obama has pledged that U.S. operations “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

According to a recent article in the Army Times, there are approxomately 1,600 U.S. soldiers now on the ground in Iraq with another 1,300 soon to join them. Those troops are so far being deployed to four so-called “training sites” strategically placed around the country, some of them close to ongoing battles. Quoting Maj. Gen. Paul Funk, commander of Coalition Joint Forces Land Component Command-Iraq and the 1st Infantry Division, the Times reports that the number of these training sites will likely increase as assessments continue and the new war in Iraq continues. The U.S. and its partners, Funk said, are in the “fight for the long-haul”—a comment that mirrors what top Pentagon officials have said about the prospect for a protracted engagement by U.S. and allied forces in Iraq and neighboring Syria.

“In Iraq… the continuing killing of civilians has marked the entire period from 2003-2014: sometimes rising, sometimes falling, but never ceasing.” —Iraq Body Count

On New Years Day, the independent group Iraq Body Count released its annual report saying that 2014 was the deadliest year in Iraq for civilians since the height of the U.S.-initiated war that began in 2003. According to the group’s analysis:

17,049 civilians have been recorded killed in Iraq during 2014 (up to Dec 30). This is roughly double the number recorded in 2013 (9,743), which in turn was roughly double the number in 2012 (4,622). These numbers do not include combatant deaths, which even by the most cautious tallies have also seen a sharp rise in 2014.

The conflict in Iraq that began with the US/UK invasion of March 2003 has continued now for nearly twelve years. During this period, not a single day has passed without Iraqi civilians being killed. The year 2014, however, reflects an increase in violence to levels not seen since the worst years of 2006 and 2007. The rise of the group Islamic State (or ISIS or ISIL) as a major force in the conflict, as well as the military responses by the Iraqi Government and the re-entry of US and Coalition air forces into the conflict, have all contributed to the elevated death tolls.

Regarding the current situation, including the re-introduction of U.S. forces and escalated fighting both on the ground and from the air, the group offered this assessment:

There is a new brutality on the ground and renewed attacks from the air. ISIS and the Iraqi army have caused thousands of civilian deaths this year, while the international coalition has yet again been responsible for civilian killings, for the first time since US withdrawal three years previously. Iraqi civilians are once again being killed by all sides.

As the pattern of violence shows, following the withdrawal of US troops at the end of 2011 and the subsequent implementation of anti-Sunni policies by the Iraqi government, between 2012 and 2013 the death toll more than doubled. In 2014, largely in connection with the rise of ISIS and the military response to it, the death toll has nearly doubled again, making 2014 the third most lethal for civilians (after 2006 and 2007) since the 2003 invasion. The continuing killing of civilians has marked the entire period from 2003-2014: sometimes rising, sometimes falling, but never ceasing.

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Rebuilding the Obama-Putin Trust

NOVANEWS

Exclusive: Heading into the last quarter of his presidency, Barack Obama must decide whether he will let the neocons keep pulling his strings or finally break loose and pursue a realistic foreign policy seeking practical solutions to world problems, including the crisis with Russia over Ukraine, says ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern.

By Ray McGovern

The year 2015 will surely mark a watershed in relations between the United States and Russia, one way or the other. However, whether tensions increase – to war-by-proxy in Ukraine or an even wider war – or whether they subside depends mostly on President Barack Obama.

Key to answering this question is a second one: Is Obama smart enough and strong enough to rein in Secretary of State John Kerry, the neocons and “liberal interventionists” running the State Department and to stand up to the chicken hawks in Congress, most of whom feel free to flirt with war because they know nothing of it.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who pushed for the Ukraine coup and helped pick the post-coup leaders.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, by contrast, experienced the effects of war at an early age. He was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) eight years after the vicious siege by the German army ended. Michael Walzer, in his War Against Civilians, notes, “More people died in the 900-day siege of Leningrad than in the infernos of Hamburg, Dresden, Tokyo, Hiroshima and Nagasaki taken together.”

Putin’s elder brother Viktor died during the siege. The experience of Putin’s youth is, of course, embedded in his consciousness. This may help to account for why he tends to be short on the kind of daredevil bluster regularly heard from senior Western officials these days – many of whom are ignorant both of suffering from war and the complicated history of Ukraine.

This time last year, few Americans could point out Ukraine on a map. And malnourished as they are on “mainstream media,” most have little idea of its internal political tensions, a schism between a western Ukraine oriented toward Europe and an eastern Ukraine with strong ties to Russia.

Let’s start with a brief mention of the most salient points of this history before addressing its recent detritus — and making a few recommendations as the New Year begins. Less than three weeks after the Berlin Wall fell on Nov. 9. 1989, President George H.W. Bush invited Kremlin leader Mikhail Gorbachev to a summit in Malta where they cut an historic deal: Moscow would refrain from using force to re-impose control over Eastern Europe; Washington would not “take advantage” of the upheaval and uncertainty there.

That deal was fleshed out just two months later, when Bush’s Secretary of State James Baker persuaded Gorbachev to swallow the bitter pill of a reunited Germany in NATO in return for a promise that NATO would not “leapfrog” eastward over Germany. Former U.S. Ambassador to Moscow Jack Matlock, who was witness to all this, told me in an email, “I don’t see how anybody could view the subsequent expansion of NATO as anything but ‘taking advantage.’”

This consummate diplomat, who took part in the critical bilateral talks in early 1990, added that the mutual pledge was not set down in writing. Nonetheless, reneging on a promise – written or not – can put a significant dent in trust.

Why No Written Deal

Last year I asked Matlock and also Viktor Borisovich Kuvaldin, one of Gorbachev’s advisers from 1989 to 1991, why the Baker-Gorbachev understanding was not committed to paper. Matlock replied:

“There was no agreement then. Both Baker and West German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich Genscher were putting forth ideas for Gorbachev to consider. He did not give an answer but just said he would think about them. … The formal agreements had to involve others, and they did, in the two-plus-four agreement, which was concluded only in late 1990.”

Fair enough.

In an email to me last fall, Kuvaldin corroborated what Matlock told me. But he led off by pointing out “the pledge of no eastward expansion of NATO was made to Gorbachev on consecutive days when he met first with Baker and then with West German Chancellor Helmut Kohl [on Feb. 9 and 10, 1990].” As to why this pledge was not written down, Kuvaldin explained:

“Such a request would have sounded a little bit strange at that time. The Warsaw Pact was alive; Soviet military personnel were stationed all over central Europe; and NATO had nowhere to go. At the beginning of February 1990 hardly anybody could foresee the turn of events in the 1990s.”

Again, fair enough. But when I met Kuvaldin a few months earlier in Moscow and asked him out of the blue why there is no record of the promises given to his boss Gorbachev, his reply was more spontaneous – and visceral. He tilted his head, looked me straight in the eye, and said, “We trusted you.”

Written down or not, it was a matter of trust – and of not “taking advantage.” Kuvaldin’s boss Gorbachev opted to trust not only the U.S. Secretary of State, but also the West German government in Bonn. According to a report in Der Spiegel quoting West German foreign ministry documents released just five years ago:

“On Feb. 10, 1990, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., Genscher spoke with [Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard] Shevardnadze. And, according to the German record of the conversation, Genscher said: ‘We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.’ And because the conversation revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: ‘As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.’”

NATO’s Growth Spurt

Some of us – though a distinct minority – know the rest of the story. Generally overlooked in Western media, it nevertheless sets the historical stage as background for the upheaval in Ukraine last year. After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 – and the break-up of the Warsaw Pact – Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic joined NATO in 1999. Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Slovenia, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Romania joined in 2004. Albania and Croatia joined in 2009. And the Kremlin’s leaders could do little more than look on impotently – and seethe.

One can hardly fault those countries, most of which had lots of painful experience at Soviet hands. It is no mystery why they would want to crowd under the NATO umbrella against any foul weather coming from the East. But, as George Kennan and others noted at the time, it was a regrettable lack of imagination and statesmanship that no serious alternatives were devised to address the concerns of countries to the east of Germany other than membership in NATO.

The more so, inasmuch as there were so few teeth left, at the time, in the mouth of the Russian bear. And – not least of all – a promise is a promise.

As NATO expansion drew in countries closer to Russia’s borders, the Kremlin drew a red line when, despite very strong warnings from Moscow, an April 3, 2008 NATO summit in Bucharest declared: “NATO welcomes Ukraine’s and Georgia’s Euro-Atlantic aspirations for membership in NATO. We agreed today that these countries will become members of NATO.” Both countries, former Soviet states, press up upon Russia’s soft southern underbelly.

Often forgotten – in the West, but not in Russia – is the impulsive reaction this NATO statement gave rise to on the part of Georgia’s then-President Mikheil Saakashvili, who felt his oats even before the NATO umbrella could be opened. Less than five months after Georgia was put in queue for NATO membership, Saakashvili ordered Georgian forces to attack the city of Tskhinvali in South Ossetia. No one should have been surprised when Russia retaliated sharply, giving Georgian forces a very bloody nose in battles that lasted just five days.

Ultimately, Saakashvili’s cheerleaders of the George W. Bush administration and then-Republican presidential candidate John McCain, who had been egging Saakashvili on, were powerless to protect him. Instead of drawing appropriate lessons from this failed experiment, however, the neocons running the foreign policy of Bush – and remaining inside the Obama administration – set their sights on Ukraine.

One Regime Change Too Many

It is becoming harder to hide the truth that Washington’s ultimate objective to satisfy Ukraine’s “Western aspirations” and incorporate it, ultimately, into NATO was what led the U.S. to mount the coup of Feb. 22, 2014, in Kiev. While it may be true that, as is said, revolutions “will not be televised,” coups d’état can be YouTubed.

And three weeks before the putsch in Kiev, U.S. State Department planning to orchestrate the removal of the Ukraine’s duly elected President Viktor Yanukovych and select new leaders for Ukraine was placed – chapter and verse – on YouTube in the form of a four-minute intercepted telephone conversation between Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland and the yes-ma’am U.S. Ambassador in Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt.

Hearing is believing. And for those in a hurry, here is a very short transcribed excerpt:

Nuland: What do you think?

Pyatt: I think we’re in play. The Klitschko [Vitaly Klitschko, one of three main opposition leaders] piece is obviously the complicated electron here. … I think that’s the next phone call you want to set up, is exactly the one you made to Yats [Arseniy Yatseniuk, another opposition leader]. And I’m glad you sort of put him on the spot on where he fits in this scenario. And I’m very glad that he said what he said in response.

Nuland: Good. I don’t think Klitsch should go into the government. I don’t think it’s necessary, I don’t think it’s a good idea.

Pyatt: Yeah. I guess … just let him stay out and do his political homework and stuff. … We want to keep the moderate democrats together. The problem is going to be Tyahnybok [Oleh Tyahnybok, the other main opposition leader, head of the far-right Svoboda party] and his guys …

Nuland: [Breaks in] I think Yats is the guy who’s got the economic experience, the governing experience. He’s the … what he needs is Klitsch and Tyahnybok on the outside. He needs to be talking to them four times a week, you know. …

And so, surprise, surprise: “Yats” turned out to be Nuland’s guy just three weeks later, being named prime minister right after the putsch on Feb. 22. And he still is. Talk about luck!

However transparent the dark arts of the “Maidan Marionettes” (the title Russian translators gave the images accompanying their version of the conversation on YouTube), these particular heroics are rarely mentioned in “mainstream” U.S. media (MSM). Instead, pride of place is given to Moscow’s “aggression” in annexing Crimea, a move that followed Crimea’s voters overwhelmingly choosing to bail out on the coup-imposed regime in Kiev and seek to rejoin Russia.

Seeing No Nazis

In the major U.S. media, the violent coup on Feb. 22 – spearheaded by well-organized neo-Nazi militias who killed police and seized government buildings – was whitewashed from what the American people got to see and hear. In the preferred U.S. narrative, Yanukovych and his officials simply decided to leave town because of the moral force from the white-hatted peaceful protesters in the Maidan.

So it came as a welcome surprise when an Establishment notable like George Friedman, during a Dec. 19 interview with the Russian magazine Kommersant, described the February overthrow of the Ukrainian government as “the most blatant coup in history.” Friedman is head of STRATFOR, a think tank often described as a “shadow CIA.”

However, in the mainstream U.S. media’s narrative – as well as others like the BBC where I have had personal experience with the ticklish issue of Ukraine – the story of the Ukraine crisis starts with the annexation of Crimea, which is sometimes termed a Russian “invasion” although Russian troops were already stationed inside Crimea at the Russian naval base at Sevastopol. In the MSM, there is “just not enough time, regrettably” to mention NATO’s eastward expansion or even the coup in Kiev.

The other favored part of the MSM’s narrative is that Putin instigated the Ukraine crisis because he was eager to seize back land lost in the break-up of the Soviet Union. But there is not one scintilla of evidence that the Russians would have taken back Crimea, were it not for the coup engineered by Nuland and implemented by various thugs including openly fascist groups waving banners with Nazi symbols.

Years ago, Nuland fell in with some very seedy companions. The list is long; suffice it to mention here that she served as Principal Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney’s in his shadow national security council during the “dark-side” years from 2003 to 2005.

There Nuland reportedly worked on “democracy promotion” in Iraq and did such a terrific job at it that she was promoted, under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to State Department spokesperson and then to Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs, giving her the Ukraine account. Nuland is also married to neocon theorist Robert Kagan, whose Project for the New American Century pushed for the invasion of Iraq as early as 1998. [See Consortiumnews.com’s Obama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’]

By December 2013, Nuland was so confident of her control over U.S. policy toward Ukraine that she publicly reminded Ukrainian business leaders that, to help Ukraine achieve “its European aspirations, we have invested more than $5 billion.” She even waded into the Maidan protests to pass out cookies and urge the demonstrators on.

In keeping her in the State Department and promoting her, Obama and his two secretaries of state Hillary Clinton and John Kerry created a human bridge to the neocons’ dark-side years. Nuland also seems to have infected impressionable Obama administration officials with the kind approach to reality attributed by author Ron Suskind to one senior Bush administration official: “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality.”

This may be the nostrum used by Nuland and Kerry to whom Obama has mostly deferred to run U.S. policy vis-à-vis Russia. Ambassador Matlock will find it small solace, but it may help him understand what seems to be going on in policy toward Ukraine.

Writing early last year on the burgeoning crisis there, Matlock said: “I cannot understand how he [Obama] could fail to recognize that confronting President Putin publicly on an issue that is so central to Russian national pride and honor, not only tends to have the opposite effect on the issue at hand, but actually strengthens tendencies in Russia that we should wish to discourage. It is as if he, along with his advisers, is living in some alternate ideological and psychological universe.”

Putin: Little Tolerance for Other Reality

Before finishing with a few recommendations, let’s apply the proven tools of media analysis to see if we can discern how Russian President Putin is reacting to all this. (Hint: He is not going to yield to pressure on the issue of Ukraine.)

At a press conference ten days after the coup in Kiev, Putin complained about “our Western partners” continuing to interfere in Ukraine. “I sometimes get the feeling,” he said, “that somewhere across that huge puddle, in America, people sit in a lab and conduct experiments, as if with rats, without actually understanding the consequences of what they are doing. Why do they need to do this?”

And in a speech two weeks later, Putin said:

“Our colleagues in the West … have lied to us many times, made decisions behind our backs, placed before us an accomplished fact. This happened with NATO’s expansion to the east, as well as the deployment of military infrastructure at our borders. … It happened with the deployment of a missile defense system. …

“They are constantly trying to sweep us into a corner. … But there is a limit to everything. And with Ukraine, our Western partners have crossed the line. … If you compress the spring all the way to its limit, it will snap back hard. … Today, it is imperative to end this hysteria and refute the rhetoric of the cold war. … Russia has its own national interests that need to be taken into account and respected.”

On Sept. 8, 2013, when Secretary Kerry swore Nuland in as Assistant Secretary of State, he gushed over “Toria’s” accomplishments, with a panegyric fully deserving of the adjective fulsome. It was a huge hint that Kerry would give her free rein in crafting policy toward Russia, Ukraine, et al.

Fortunately, Nuland was not able to sabotage the behind-the-scenes dialogue between Obama and Putin that enabled Putin to dissuade Obama from attacking Syria in September 2013 by convincing him the Syrians were about to agree to destroy all their chemical weapons. Obama had cut Kerry out of those sensitive talks, but left on his own Kerry continued to try to drum up international support for military action against Syria.

That Kerry was blindsided by the extraordinary agreement worked out by Obama and Putin with Syria, became embarrassingly obvious when Kerry, at a press conference in London on Sept. 9, 2013, dismissed any likelihood that Syria would ever agree to let its chemical arsenal be destroyed. Later that same day the agreement to destroy Syria’s chemical weapons was announced.

Sadly, to some significant degree, the U.S. mischief in Ukraine can be regarded as payback from Kerry, his Senate buddy John McCain, and of course Nuland for Russia’s dashing their hopes for a major U.S. military bombing campaign against the Syrian government.

Putin: Kerry “Knows He Is Lying”

It is rare that a head of state will call the head diplomat of a rival state a “liar.” But that’s what Putin did six days after Obama overruled Kerry and stopped the attack on Syria. On Sept. 5, 2013, as Obama arrived in St. Petersburg for the G-20 summit, Putin referred openly to Kerry’s congressional testimony on Syria a few days earlier in which Kerry greatly exaggerated the strength of the “moderate” rebels in Syria.

Kerry had also repeated highly dubious claim (made 35 times at an Aug. 30 State Department press conference) that the Assad government was behind the chemical attacks near Damascus on Aug. 21, that he had thus had crossed the “red line” Obama had set, and that Syria needed to be admonished by military attack.

About Kerry, Putin took the gloves off: “This was very unpleasant and surprising for me. We talk to them [the Americans], and we assume they are decent people, but he is lying and he knows that he is lying. This is sad.”

Putin’s stern words about Kerry and the behind-the-scenes Obama-Putin collaboration that defused the Syrian crisis of 2013 appear to have awakened the neocons to the need to shatter that cooperation – and the Ukraine coup became the perfect device to do so.

New Year’s Resolutions

Five things for Obama to do for a fresh start to the New Year:

1 – Fire Kerry and Nuland.

2 – Read the New York Times op-ed by Putin on Sept. 11, 2013, just after cooperation with Obama had yielded the extraordinary result of the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons.

3 – Stop the foolish talk about the U.S. being “the one indispensable nation.” (The President said this so many times last year that some suspect he is beginning to believe his own rhetoric. This is how Putin chose to address this feel-good, but noxious, triumphalism in ending his op-ed:

“It is extremely dangerous to encourage people to see themselves as exceptional, whatever the motivation. There are big countries and small countries, rich and poor, those with long democratic traditions and those still finding their way to democracy. Their policies differ, too. We are all different, but when we ask for the Lord’s blessings, we must not forget that God created us equal.”

4 – Lean on the Quislings in Kiev to stop their foolishness. One golden opportunity to do that would be to participate in the international summit called for by Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko on Jan. 15 in Kazakhstan, where Putin and the leaders of Germany and France are also expected to take part.

5 – Finally, pick a different ending this year for your speeches. How about: “God bless the United States of America and the rest of the world, too.”

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Bush’s Enduring Theories of Martial Law

NOVANEWS

The failure to hold anyone accountable for torture derives from extraordinary post-9/11 legal theories that made the President all-powerful during “wartime” and established what amounted to martial law in the United States, a condition that continues to this day, writes retired JAG Major Todd E. Pierce.

By Todd E. Pierce

On Oct. 23, 2001, the Office of Legal Counsel issued a legal opinion that would shock most Americans if they realized its full implications. By all appearances, it is still in effect, judging by military surveillance operations taking place in the U.S. by the Defense Department and its National Security Agency (NSA). The opinion was entitled: “Authority for Use of Military Force to Combat Terrorist Activities within the United States” (emphasis in original).

What is the Office of Legal Counsel — or “OLC” for short — that made such a bold move? It is a secretive office in the Justice Department. The purpose of the OLC is straightforward. It sits as a de facto court for the White House that decides the legal questions that set the boundaries for how the federal government runs day-to-day. Be they the highest presidential appointee or lowliest bureaucrat, a government official who complies with the OLC’s opinion is generally immune from later prosecution or liability.

Barack Obama, then President-elect, and President George W. Bush at the White House during the 2008 transition.

Barack Obama, then President-elect, and President George W. Bush at the White House during the 2008 transition.

An official is immune, that is, if the lawyers were providing “good faith legal advice” and not, in fact, just following orders to “legalize” an otherwise criminal act. Such tainted “good faith legal advice” would not then serve to protect their clients. Lawyers can’t help in committing crimes, and when they do, even OLC lawyers can be prosecuted for knowingly helping plan or commit a crime. In fact, a lawyer was prosecuted at Nuremberg for his role in committing war crimes.

The lawyers who wrote the OLC opinion about the use of military force within the United States were Robert Delahunty, now teaching “law” at St. Thomas University Law School, Minneapolis, and John Yoo, who is back teaching the same sort of “law” at Boalt Law School, University of California, Berkeley. By “the same sort of law” is meant their idiosyncratic belief that the President, acting as “Commander in Chief,” has dictatorial-like powers.

This is the “unitary executive theory” — a radically un-American, unconstitutional and extra-legal ideology that former Vice President and torture enthusiast Dick Cheney has been pushing since the Iran-Contra Affair. In other countries, but particularly Germany from 1933 to 1945, in which citizens lived under a dictatorship, this was called “prerogative” government, as described by German Jewish lawyers. Both Delahunty and Yoo continue working to shoehorn this radical legal theory into respectability with prolific writing of law review articles promoting it.

The argument was that because of these prerogative powers, the President was subject to no law — neither constitutional law nor international law. The Oct. 23, 2001 opinion is particularly dangerous, as it essentially granted the President martial law authority, meaning the authority to act outside the Constitution.

To reiterate, the conclusion the OLC drew was that the President has constitutional authority to use the armed forces in military operations against those deemed to be terrorists within the United States. Consequently, “these operations generally would not be subject to the constraints of the Fourth Amendment, so long as the armed forces are undertaking a military function.”

This is a frightening prospect since the Fourth Amendment is what protects us against unreasonable searches and seizures, which can lead to arbitrary arrests. (The Fourth Amendment reads: “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

Furthermore, according to Delahunty and Yoo, terrorists operate within the continental United States and “conceal themselves within the domestic society and economy,” which makes it difficult to identify them. By this logic, everyone is now “suspect.”

Furthermore, they wrote, 9/11 created a situation “in which the battlefield has occurred, and may occur, at dispersed locations and intervals within the American homeland itself. As a result, efforts to fight terrorism may require not only the usual wartime regulations of domestic affairs, but also military actions that have normally occurred abroad.”

This opinion by Delahunty and Yoo formed a legal basis for a state of martial law which the Bush administration took to mean that they could fight a “war” against terrorism outside the U.S. Constitution but inside the U.S. geographic area as a “military state,” operating just the way paragons of legality Mubarak’s Egypt and Pinochet’s Chile did.

Bush officials argued this was due to necessity, but in fact that was fallacious, as the U.S. military is not, and should not be, considered an antiterrorist force. Militaries exist to defend against foreign armies attacking, not to conduct the police work required for counter-terrorism. But as we’ve seen, when a military takes control of a country, occupying it as in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the Israeli occupation of Palestine, it enforces martial law on the civilians living there — in other words, the military operates as a dictatorship, or as our Supreme Court called it, “martial rule.”

So in writing an opinion authorizing martial law, Delahunty/Yoo asserted that the Fourth Amendment’s protections do not apply to domestic military operations in the United States, regardless of citizenship. They wrote that Federal Armed Forces must be free to use force when they deemed it necessary without being constrained by the Fourth Amendment, “even though force would be intentionally directed against persons known to be citizens.”

Additionally, as a final blow against the Constitution, Delahunty and Yoo stated: “First Amendment speech and press rights may also be subordinated to the overriding need to wage war successfully. ‘When a nation is at war many things that might be said in time of peace are such a hindrance to its effort that their utterance will not be endured so long as men fight and that no Court could regard them as protected by any constitutional right.’”

This OLC opinion laid the foundation for all the extra-constitutional actions by the Bush administration that would follow. They are still carried on by the Obama administration today with their assertions that the President can kill American citizens with a drone without any due process whether inside or outside the U.S.

(The Fifth Amendment provides that no citizen should be deprived life, liberty or property without due process of law. However, in September of 2011, American-born and educated Anwar Al-Awlaki was targeted and killed in a U.S. drone strike in Yemen. Also killed in a drone strike was Samir Khan. Al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Denver-born Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, who died while attending a barbeque with cousins in Yemen the next month. For more information about the killings, see investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill’s account in Inside America’s Dirty Wars or The Nation, April 24, 2013) http://www.thenation.com/article/173980/inside-americas-dirty-wars.

It would also explain the military operation currently being conducted against American citizens by the NSA, a component of the U.S. Defense Department, in violation of the Fourth Amendment.

The fruits of that opinion can be seen with an out-of-control CIA that has been on display in the Torture Report summary released by Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Chair Diane Feinstein in late 2014. The acts of torture described in this summary are war crimes because they were committed in the context of, and associated with, wars beginning in 2001.

But the war criminals, which could include some lawyers, may believe that there is no accountability for the perpetrators of these war crimes because they are part of, and have the protection of what Professor

Michael Glennon describes as a “double government” in his book National Security and Double Government, and in an article by the same name. Glennon’s book puts into print, in the open and in the so-called mainstream, what some have known for years. The CIA and other national security agencies constitute a “deep state,” operating outside public view and, as we know now, without constitutional constraints or oversight.

But beyond setting the U.S. on a course of perpetual war and destroying democracy, the economy and the Constitution, the opportunity was there for those within the deep state to protect their power even more by placing the country under “martial law.” Though we don’t normally see troops on the streets controlling and keeping an eye on us, and most citizens have not felt the effects of a state of martial law, it is in effect with the constant NSA surveillance now permitted by law and the potential of military detention under Section 1021 of the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

Even though these statutes seem to ratify the underlying military authority put into place, that doesn’t change its character as “martial law.” Martial law exists whenever the military assumes authority over civilian officials. When General DeWitt ordered the removal of the Japanese Americans from the West Coast in 1942, a martial law act, that character did not change because Congress, to its later shame, ratified it by providing penalties for violating DeWitt’s order.

In the Twenty-first Century, martial law was effectively imposed when the military (the Defense Department’s NSA) was given the military mission of surveillance of the population (us), the same mission they were given when Iraq was invaded by the U.S. and the NSA mission was to spy on Iraqi civilians.

In the U.S., the NSA was tasked to monitor all of our thoughts as expressed in our communications as if the military were conducting a counter-insurgency operation. The Minneapolis antiwar activists being investigated by a grand jury represent an example of what occurs when a country is under martial law, as is the persecution of Palestinian-American Rasmea Odeh for her nonviolent political activities which are critical of foreign policy in the Mideast. It is not required under martial law that only the military enforces it — civilian law enforcement authority is used to enforce it as well. [For more information, see stopfbi.net and uspcn.org.]

While seeming to withdraw portions of the Oct. 23, 2001 opinion, a 2008 OLC memo corroborates the meaning of the Oct. 23, 2001 opinion fundamentally, but offered that “appropriate caution should be exercised” before relying on the opinion.

Because everything is wrapped in secrecy, we have no way of knowing current interpretations, except that we know the NSA/military is still spying on us through all of our communications and Section 1021 of the 2012 NDAA is still on the books as public law, providing for military detention “pending disposition under the law of war.”

For anyone skeptical that this constitutes martial law, a vigorous advocate of martial law for World War II, Charles Fairman of Harvard University, considered a martial law expert, writing in 1942, justified it to include the removal of the Japanese-Americans from the West Coast that was conducted under the military authority of General DeWitt.

Fairman cited this routine aspect of martial law from World War II-era Hawaii: “No action should be maintained against a member of the armed forces for any act under color of duty, or against any person employed in an activity essential to the national defense for any act within the scope of such employment; nor should such a person suffer judgment by default, or be subpoenaed as a witness.”

We have seen this principle applied since 2001 in those numerous cases against various national security officials which are routinely dismissed on the grounds of “state secrets,” which can be presumed to be what the torturers are relying upon.

This is not the first instance of a “dual state” in what was once considered an enlightened, democratic country. A German-Jewish lawyer, Ernst Fraenkel, wrote as the opening line in 1939, in a book of the same name: “Martial law provides the constitution of the Third Reich.” Fraenkel broke German government into the “prerogative state” and the “normative state.” The prerogative state constituted that part of the German state under martial law and run by the security apparatuses. Prerogative power, which Delahunty and Yoo still advocate for, is martial law, or “martial rule” as our Supreme Court once described it.

But we don’t need to permit our country to fall into the abyss as Germany did, or even to be a less severe version. We do not need to give up our constitutional rights any more in exchange for “safety,” knowing as we do that to suppress speech and intimidate the citizenry is really only to protect the incompetents of the “deep state,” who are driving the U.S. into an abyss — though different than the German example, an abyss nevertheless.

All we have to do is to demand accountability, starting with the torturers and their legal enablers, whoever they may be shown to be. Demand accountability of our government for these war crimes committed by our government, or call on international organizations and foreign nations that may be willing to assert universal jurisdiction over war crimes.

That is what it took to bring war criminal Augusto Pinochet to justice. There is no statute of limitations for war crimes, so we must not give up until torturers and enablers are held accountable for what the Torture Report has shown to be war crimes. We can do no less unless we want future generations to demand of us: why didn’t we do something?

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A Disappointing ‘Selma’ Film

NOVANEWS

Exclusive: At a moment when voting and other civil rights are under attack in America, a new movie “Selma” recounts the struggle, led by Martin Luther King Jr., to secure the African-American right to vote. But the film falls short in both telling key facts and conveying the drama, says James DiEugenio.

By James DiEugenio

In post-World War II American history, with the exception of John F. Kennedy, perhaps no other figure grips the public imagination like Martin Luther King Jr. does. And as with Kennedy, questions about the original verdict in his assassination help fuel the interest in his life.

But unlike President Kennedy, King was never a politician. He was a Baptist minister by training and vocation. But once he did such a fine job organizing the Montgomery Bus Boycott of 1955-56, he launched himself into the political arena by becoming the de facto leader of the American civil rights movement.

selma-movie

In other words, a man who had been trained as a religious pastor dedicated himself to breaking down the centuries old walls of segregation and discrimination in the South. And towards the end of his life, King had broadened his scope further. He spoke out in opposition to the Vietnam War and on the question of the distribution of wealth in America. A man trained in religion aimed his sights at political, social and economic goals.

Further, he refused to take any monetary gain for his efforts, even though his notoriety managed to bring millions of dollars to his cause. Because of all this, King has attained a status something like a secular saint in American culture, explaining why some of the books about him have religiously referenced  titles e.g. David Garrow’s Bearing the Cross, and Taylor Branch’s trilogy: Parting the WatersPillar of Fire and  At Canaan’s Edge.

This aspect of King’s career – a kind of precursor to liberation theology – is particularly accentuated because, unlike Malcolm X, King did not advocate or threaten violence in his protest campaigns. In fact, under the influence of Bayard Rustin, King had studied the effectiveness of the non-violent crusades of Gandhi against the British Raj in India. And in 1959, he actually visited India to study how Gandhi had done his work. (Martin Luther King Jr.: The FBI File, by Michael Friedly ad David Gallen, p. 20)

King’s Origins

King was born into a middle-class family in Atlanta in 1929, coming from a line of local Baptist preachers. King’s father practiced at the famous Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, a church that had a strong influence on the local civil rights movement. (James Cone, Martin and Malcolm and America, pgs. 20-22)

King’s father was proud to be a member of the black middle-class. He liked to say that his children never lived in a rented house, and he never owned a car for very long with payments due. But at the age of six, little Martin was stunned when a white school friend of his told him he could not associate with him anymore since he was “a colored boy.” (ibid, p. 23)

King went home and told his parents. They sat him down and explained the terrible and true facts about what whites had done to black Americans since slavery began. King recalled later that the question in his mind after this was, “How can I love a race of people who hate me?”

His parents said that whatever he felt about it was irrelevant. He could not hate the white race for the simple reason that he was a Christian. But his father also demonstrated to him that he did not have to take personal insults by turning the other cheek. King Sr. said, “When I stand up, I want everyone to know that a man is standing there.” (ibid)

For instance, once when his father was stopped by a policeman, the officer told him, “Boy, show me your license.” To which King Sr., replied by pointing at young Martin and saying, “That’s a boy there. I’m, a man, I’m Reverend King.” (ibid, p. 24) He later told his son, “Nobody can make a slave out of you if you don’t think live a slave.”

At Booker T. Washington High School, King first became known for his remarkable speaking abilities. On a return trip one night from an oratorical contest, the bus driver demanded that King and his teacher give up their seats near the front of the bus to some newly boarding whites. King did not want to comply. The driver then started cursing at them “and calling us black sons of bitches.” (ibid, p. 25)

King still would not move. But his teacher said they had to obey the law. The two stood in the aisle for 90 miles from Valdosta to Atlanta. King never forgot that humiliation. And he also added, “I don’t think I have ever been so deeply angry in my life.”

An Unlikely Course

King was such an exceptional student that he skipped two grades of high school. When local Morehouse College announced it would accept any high school student who could pass their entrance exam, King took them up on their offer. He graduated from Morehouse at age 19 in 1948, and enrolled at Crozier Theological Seminary in Chester, Pennsylvania.

Moving north, King found out that racism in America was not confined to south of the Mason-Dixon line. At Crozier, King had a gun pulled on him by a white student from North Carolina who accused him of messing up his room. Another time, he and his friends were refused service at a restaurant in New Jersey. The owner then removed them from the establishment at gunpoint.  When King tried to file charges, none of the white witnesses would agree to testify in court. (ibid, p. 28)

At Boston University, during his Ph. D. studies, King was exposed to Walter Rauschenbusch’s classic 1907 book, Christianity and the Social Crisis. This was a seminal work of the Social Gospel movement. (ibid, p. 29) One of its most famous dictums is, “Whoever uncouples the religious and the social life has not understood Jesus. Whoever sets any bounds for the reconstructive power of the religious life over the social relations and institutions of men, to that extent denies the faith of the Master.” King now had the theological underpinnings to gird him for his career. This is why he always said he came to Gandhi through Jesus. (Garrow, p. 75)

King graduated from Boston University in 1955. He and his wife Coretta could have stayed in the Northeast. He was offered positions in New York and Massachusetts. (Cone, p. 32) Instead he chose the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama, as his first posting. At first, King thought he would be a pastor for a few years and then step into the academic world and be a professor. (ibid, p. 33)

But in a colossal piece of serendipity, it was in that year and that place that both Claudette Colvin and Rosa Parks were arrested for refusing to give up their bus seats to whites. The local civil rights leaders decided that the Parks incident was an ideal vehicle with which to challenge both the law and the Montgomery bus company. (Garrow, p. 16)

A Reluctant Leader

Contrary to popular belief, King did not step in and take over the Montgomery movement. At first, he did not even want to get involved. He told his fellow minister, Ralph Abernathy, he would think over attending a local pastors’ meeting. (ibid, p. 17)

Abernathy convinced King not to just attend, but to hold the meeting at his own church. As everyone knows, the success of the Montgomery bus boycott essentially created the civil rights movement. It also launched King’s national career, and started the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, which was the fundraising and decision-making arm of the King/Abernathy organization.

What should not be forgotten is that this was a perfect example of a man growing into a moment. For example, during that year-long boycott, King visited a friend of his from the Crozier seminary. The friend later said he could barely recognize King from his college days. He said he had aged 20 years in just five. But further, “He wanders around in a daze, asking himself: Why has God seen fit to catapult me into such a situation.” (Garrow, p. 76)

If ever there was an example of a stumbling into his great place in life, it was King. But as most commentators would agree, after the Montgomery boycott, the SCLC did not really come close to repeating that kind of spectacular success until Kennedy’s inauguration. This was because, even though the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown vs. Board court decision in 1954 on school integration had been handed down during Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency (and two other civil rights landmarks – the Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960 – also occurred during the Eisenhower administration), Eisenhower and Vice President Richard Nixon were not deeply interested in advocating for or advancing civil rights.

Laws also are only effective if they are enforced. And the enforcement of these new rules was, at best, tepid under the GOP administration despite the notable exception of Eisenhower’s intervention in the desegregation of schools in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. But the pace for change was about to accelerate.

A White House Ally

In October 1960, Sen. John Kennedy, the Democratic presidential nominee, told his civil rights advisory board that he would use the two legislative acts to break the back of voting discrimination in the South. (Harry Golden, Mr. Kennedy and the Negroes, p. 139)

This was a stark contrast to Eisenhower telling a reporter in 1956 that the Brown decision had set back progress in the South by at least 15 years. Or Nixon saying ,“If the law goes further than public opinion can be brought along to support at a particular time, it may prove to do more harm than good.” (ibid, p. 61)

Kennedy’s promise of action, plus his intervention for King during the 1960 campaign while King was in jail, raised expectations once Kennedy was in office. By openly allying himself with King, Kennedy was giving the civil rights movement ballast and hope. So when Attorney General Robert Kennedy began to file segregation and voting rights cases under the dormant laws that Eisenhower and Nixon had neglected, something unforeseen happened: the civil rights movement began to broaden and act on its own on multiple fronts.

The movement finally had someone in the White House who had sympathy for them and with whom they had some influence. In his first memo to Kennedy on the subject, civil rights adviser Harris Wofford wrote that the problem with the civil rights cause was that there had been no real leadership in the Executive Branch or Congress to supplement the work of the courts.

So when President Kennedy began ordering integration and affirmative action in government positions and business contracts and altering the composition of the Civil Rights Commission – and Robert Kennedy began hiring more civil rights lawyers and investigators and filing more and more state cases – a synergy entered the calculus.

Soon, there was a powerful new momentum for racial justice. So much so that in June 1963, Kennedy made the clearest affirmation on the need for civil rights by a president in 100 years. He followed up by sending a new civil rights bill to Congress and then, in July, he made a surprise announcement at a press conference: He would back King’s upcoming March on Washington in support of the bill. (Irving Bernstein, Promises Kept, p. 114)

Political Battles

After Kennedy’s assassination on Nov. 22, 1963, Congress passed and President Lyndon Johnson signed into law much of Kennedy’s civil rights bill with an emphasis on equal access to public places. But Johnson had stripped the act of an important voting rights aspect, since he thought it would be filibustered otherwise.

So there still needed to be further legislation on voting rights, which whites in parts of the Deep South staunchly opposed. One of those places was Alabama under the rule of segregationist Gov. George Wallace.

The voting rights battle would put King and civil rights activists back in the streets. Overall, there were four spectacular demonstrations that King was involved in: the Montgomery bus boycott, his showdown with police chief Bull Connor in Birmingham, his March on Washington – and his face-off with Wallace and Dallas County Sheriff Jim Clark in Selma in 1965. The last is the subject of the new film Selma produced by Oprah Winfrey and Brad Pitt.

It’s hard to believe – considering the incredible historic drama around King’s career – that there have been few widely distributed movies – either feature films or documentaries – made about his life. In 1970, a cinema-verité-style documentary was produced for theaters by Ely Landau: King: A Filmed Record from Montgomery to Memphis. In 2004, PBS produced a more conventional documentary, Citizen King, which was a part of its American Experience series.

In 1978, writer-director Abby Mann made a three-night, 300-minute mini-series for NBC which starred Paul Winfield as King and Cicely Tyson as his wife. In 2001, HBO films produced a television movie called Boycott about the Montgomery movement, starring Jeffrey Wright as King and Terrence Howard as Abernathy.  I have seen all of the above except the last (which, in fairness to it, is supposed to be the best.) To me, none of them really did justice to King, but the Mann mini-series was particularly poor.

Before addressing the current film, let us lay in the historical background about the Selma demonstrations. Alabama, because of George Wallace’s high profile, had been a target of the civil rights movement for years. Young organizers like John Lewis and Jim Bevel had tried to organize voting rights drives there prior to 1965.

But the white power structure was not going to give black citizens the franchise, keeping blacks from the polls with devices such as the poll tax, the grandfather clause, and literacy tests. Showing how effective these tactics were, Alabama had an all-white state legislature. (Garrow, p. 371)

Further, though Selma was 57 percent black, only 130 African-Americans were registered to vote in 1964. In that year, Lewis had tried to register 50 blacks, but they were arrested. Afterwards, a state judge imposed an order saying any gathering of more than three people in public to discuss civil rights was against the law. This unconstitutional edict was clearly aimed at preventing civil rights activists from organizing mass demonstrations. (Branch, Pillar of Fire, p. 553)

Taking to the Streets

Prior to Jim Bevel convincing King to take on the challenge, the two main voter rights organizations in Selma, which was located in Dallas County, were the Dallas County Voters League (DCVL) and the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). Dianne Nash, a young volunteer, was a major force in SNCC. (Although she is portrayed in the film, her presence is minimal. And the husband/wife relationship between her and Bevel is not noted.)

As many historians have written, King was really the glue that kept the civil rights movement together for two reasons: first, his remarkable oratorical powers combined with his genial personality made him indispensable to the outreach of SCLC, and second, he did not present himself as a radical like Malcolm X or Stokely Carmichael. He could work with the politicians inside the system.

King also was in the center of the movement, with the NAACP on his right and groups like SNCC on his left. So, as the film depicts, when King decided on the Selma drive, some of those representing other factions did not welcome his, or the SCLC’s, presence.

King decided to take on Selma because he noted some factors in his favor. First, the newly elected mayor was a moderate. His police chief, Wilson Baker, was also a relatively reasonable man. But the sheriff, Jim Clark, was another Bull Connor: an inveterate, violent racist determined to stop King.

Baker was planning to employ the soft-line tactics used so adroitly against the SCLC by Laurie Pritchett in Albany, Georgia. But King understood that the courthouse in Selma was under Clark’s jurisdiction. So this is where the SCLC planned its first marches. The idea was to make Clark into another Connor: a symbol of the ugly, near-psychotic racism of the Old South and to use that image in the media to shame the consciences of Northern liberals.

This approach had worked to give Kennedy the votes he needed to submit his Civil Rights Act. The SCLC was going to use Clark and Selma to give Johnson the boost he needed to pass a Voting Rights Act. The fact that Clark had both Klansmen and National States Rights Party members on his force made this tactic naturally enticing.

The Battle Begins

Sheriff Clark controlled not just the courthouse square, but also the outlying areas. The SCLC understood the tactical importance of this division in duties as did police Chief Baker, who favored a less confrontational strategy. But Baker and the mayor could not overcome the stubbornness of the state police officers and Wallace, who had a lot invested in this conflict. In 1963, Wallace had been forcibly removed from the front gate of the University of Alabama when Kennedy enforced a court order to integrate the college. The governor did not want to suffer another public reversal.

In January 1965, the SCLC began with marches on the courthouse in order to get their people registered. Accompanied by the likes of Nazi George Lincoln Rockwell and states rights fanatic J. B. Stoner, Sheriff Clark escorted the demonstrators to a nearby alley and said applicants would be registered one by one. (Garrow, pgs. 378-79) But that did not happen.

The next day, when the marchers arrived again, they refused to move to the alley as requested. When Clark forcibly removed them from the sidewalk, there was mild resistance. This quickly escalated into police brutality and mass arrests. The arrests were based on the previously mentioned ruling by the state judge. This repeated itself the next day.  By that time, there were over 200 people in jail, including King. The SCLC paid for an ad in the New York Times saying that Clark had more people in the Selma jail than were registered to vote.

Since there were 60 newsmen on the scene, the media attention worked. President Johnson began to talk about both a voting rights bill and an amendment. Further, U.S. District Judge Daniel Thomas issued a restraining order barring Selma authorities from hindering applicants.  But Clark would not let up. He arrested people with writs saying “charges to be named later”. (Branch, p. 562)

When Annie Lee Cooper and others showed up the next day, Clark pushed some of the demonstrators. Cooper punched him. As the deputies threw her to the ground, she screamed up at Clark, “I wish you would hit me, you scum!” Clark did.  And it made the front pages. (Garrow, p. 381.The film shows this incident, but strangely, her great line is not in the film.)

As more and more national attention focused on the confrontation, King began to direct the crusade from inside the jail. He asked for congressional visits, more of Johnson’s intervention, and also for private citizens to join in from all areas of America.

Federal Judge Thomas issued another order, saying Selma must drop Alabama’s difficult literacy test and at least 100 new applicants must be registered per day. Johnson made a public statement approving this new policy and endorsing the demonstrators’ aims. (ibid, p. 385. LBJ’s powerful statement is eliminated by the screenwriter, a revealing excision that I will return to later.)

The SCLC could have bailed King out of prison the first day. However, in order to heighten the tension, they didn’t. When he did leave, he flew to Washington and met with Vice President Hubert Humphrey, Attorney General Nicolas Katzenbach and Johnson to discuss the specifics of a voting rights bill. (ibid, p. 387.  Again, this is not in the film.)

An Expanding Confrontation 

The demonstrations spread outside of Selma, to places like Camden and Marion. At night, in Marion – which was under Clark’s control – newsman Richard Valeriani had his skull fractured and demonstrator  Jimmie Lee Jackson was shot and killed. Wallace then banned all nighttime protests and labeled the SCLC as “professional agitators with pro-Communist affiliations.” (ibid, p. 392)

In the wake of Jackson’s death and Wallace’s smear, the SCLC decided to cap the drive with a march to Montgomery from Selma, a distance of over 50 miles. King returned to Washington before the march and was told by Johnson that that he thought he could get the voting rights bill through. They also talked about protection for the march. (ibid, p. 395)

There ended up being three attempts at a march. King was absent from the first attempt which, as the film shows, was led by Hosea Williams and John Lewis. As the march crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, it was stopped by a large detachment of state troopers. They ordered the marchers back. When the marchers hesitated, they were attacked by batons, tear gas and troopers on horseback. In the background, white Southerners cheered the violence. Over 70 people went to the hospital, including Lewis. Police Chief Baker finally arrived at the scene to berate Sheriff Clark.

King led the second march. This time, he stopped in front of the troopers.  Wallace had ordered the troopers to open up an alley for the procession to pass. (ibid, p. 404) But King did not utilize it. He led a chorus of “We Shall Overcome” and turned around.

That evening a group of three visiting Massachusetts ministers were attacked by white thugs. One, the Reverend James J. Reeb of Boston suffered a blow to the skull from which he later died. Johnson issued a statement condemning the violence and said he was writing a bill on voting rights. He would address Congress himself on the issue. (ibid, p. 405) He did so, and most believe he gave the best speech of his life, echoing the words, “We shall overcome.”

For the final march, Gov. Wallace said he could not guarantee the demonstrators’ safety, so Johnson mobilized the National Guard under the direction of the Justice Department. The march proceeded successfully and King made a powerful speech in Montgomery, but not before there was one more death, Viola Liuzzo, a Northerner who came to Selma at King’s urging. She was transporting some of the SCLC marchers back and forth during the procession and was killed by a Klan member.

The Movie’s Narrative

The movie Selma begins with King dressing to accept the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. We then cut to the bombing of four young black girls in Birmingham, murders that actually occurred the year before, after Kennedy’s submission of his civil rights bill. To me, this was an acceptable use of dramatic license, since it showed that even though King was being honored abroad, there was still much violence awaiting the movement at home.

We then move to Selma where Annie Lee Cooper is being denied the right to vote by a registrar because she cannot name all 67 judges in Alabama. Next, the SCLC begins to move into Selma in preparation for the crusade. We watch as one of Nazi Rockwell’s henchmen punches King in the lobby of a (now integrated) hotel.

Throughout the film, director Ava DuVernay posts facsimiles of FBI teletypes showing the surveillance that FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover was conducting on King. The FBI file on King went back as far as 1958 (Friedly and Gallen,p. 110), and it was greatly intensified in 1962 when King criticized Hoover about the lack of protection the FBI was giving civil rights workers.

The ultra-sensitive FBI Director promptly retaliated by calling a news conference and calling King the most notorious liar in America. (ibid, p. 43) Although there was an attempt at public reconciliation, it was only done for public appearances. Hoover’s resentment toward King persisted until King’s death and some would say beyond that.

Hoover’s effort to destroy King culminated in the manufacture of a so-called “suicide package,” a message telling King that he was a “complete fraud” and a “moral imbecile.” After two paragraphs of insults and invective, the letter said King’s end was approaching and “you are done,” repeating that phrase three times.

The letter concluded with: “there is only one thing for you to do. You know what that is. . . . There is but one way out for you. You better take it before your filthy, abnormal fraudulent self is bared to the nation.” (Garrow, p. 373)

Enclosed with the letter was an audiotape of King telling some bawdy jokes and making some unkind comments about some friends and public figures. There were also the sounds purportedly of King engaging in sex with other women besides his wife. The film depicts Coretta King playing the tape for her husband but does not include the letter, whose absence is symptomatic of a serious failing of the film.

By not having the letter read verbatim, DuVernay passes up what surely would have been a dramatic highlight. But it also dilutes just how vicious the battle was between Hoover, King and the civil rights movement. Further, Hoover is barely depicted in the film. When he is, he is played by Dylan Baker, who does not resemble him and is not made up to look like him.

Misunderstood Role

And in Hoover’s one scene, screenwriter Paul Webb portrays the FBI Director as some kind of efficient civil servant who reports to President Johnson on the surveillance and intelligence that he has on King. This is simply not accurate. In addition to the aforementioned “suicide package,” during the time frame of the film, Hoover tried to get the business and political leaders of Atlanta not to follow through on a dinner to honor their most famous citizen.

Hoover also tried to prevent King from getting an audience at the Vatican. (Branch, pgs. 483, 569) By all accounts, these maneuvers had a serious deleterious psychological effect on King. He was deeply troubled that, one day, he would wake up and see these accusations splashed across the front page of a major newspaper, which is what Hoover tried to do on more than one occasion.

But, for some reason, screenwriter Webb and director DuVernay decided to leave almost all of this out. Instead, they do something just as inexplicable: They transfer the animus and obstructionism from Hoover to Johnson.

Johnson historian Mark Updegrove has complained about this inaccuracy. If anything he is too mild. For instance, the film clearly implies that the celebrated “suicide package” was sent to the SCLC Atlanta office because Hoover was abiding by Johnson’s wishes. In other words, it was a joint venture to stop King’s Selma drive.

In no account that I have read of this despicable act is there even the pretense for this being accurate, including the Church Committee Report where it first surfaced, down through the two leading biographies of King by Branch and Garrow, and even books which focus on this very subject, that is the campaign by Hoover against King.

At the time depicted in the film, Johnson was actually on friendly terms with King. On the eve of the Selma drive, he called King for some advice on presidential appointments. (Branch, p. 560) It’s true that when King met with Johnson on his return from Oslo, Johnson told him that he did not think he had the votes to pass a Voting Rights Act.

As Andrew Young recalled, when King told him about this, Young asked what they should do in that case. King replied that they had to get the power for Johnson, which was one reason the Selma campaign began. (op. cit. Updegrove)

Further, unlike what the film depicts, Johnson did not need to call Hoover in to be briefed on what the FBI had on King – because Hoover voluntarily would send Johnson reports on this activity. He did this for the same reason he sent the material to Attorney General Robert Kennedy. Hoover was trying to drive a wedge between these two national leaders and King. (Branch, p. 545)

The film also discounts the real reason that King passed up the chance to go through the opening left by Sheriff Clark on the second attempt to march to Montgomery. Johnson and his aides had been working with the federal judge to hold a hearing so that he could legally provide protection for the marchers.

King wanted to march before that hearing was held. So Johnson sent in a team of mediators, among them Kennedy’s civil rights lawyer John Doar, to negotiate a truce so that no one would get hospitalized again. The film only shows this very briefly and it does not make clear Johnson’s role in it.

To be sure, there was a falling-out between King and Johnson. But this occurred later after King began to rail against the administration for shortchanging the War on Poverty while spending billions of dollars on the Vietnam War. But that break occurred in 1967 when King made his blistering speech against the war in New York City.

No one has more disdain for President Johnson than I do for reversing so many of Kennedy’s policies, but voting rights was not an example of this. And, therefore, this is not a legitimate use of dramatic license.

It is instructive to compare the depiction of Hoover in this film with his portrayal in Mario Van Peebles’ 1995 Panther. That was an accurate and honest portrayal of what Hoover’s FBI did through its COINTELPRO attacks to decimate the Black Panther movement. That much-ignored film – much more honestly than Selma – depicts Hoover’s role against the civil rights movement.

Other Shortcomings

Beyond that cheap shot against Johnson, Selma has other shortcomings. It contains most of the conflicts that occurred during the voting rights campaign and those moments presented remarkable opportunities in cinematic terms. I wish I could say DuVernay was up to them. But in my view, the direction, editing, and music scoring were all pretty much conventional and prosaic.

In fact, from what I have seen of HBO’s Boycott, that television film holds its own technically and aesthetically with Selma. This film, with a more capable director, would have had much more brio and fire to it.

And this criticism extends to the acting. The best I can say about the major performances is that they were adequate, including Tim Roth as Wallace, Tom Wilkinson as Johnson, Carmen Ejogo as Coretta and David Oyelowo as King. With these kinds of roles at hand – and with so much archival material available – the director should have pushed the performers into the very breath of their characters, such as has occurred in other historical movies, i.e., Daniel Day-Lewis as Lincoln and Jack Nicholson as Jimmy Hoffa.

To put it mildly, I never got that feeling watching the film. In fact, the best performance in the film is by Oprah Winfrey as Annie Lee Cooper. She really understood and planned her character, and then got to the outer reaches of sensitivity to empathize with her. For me the best scene in the film is the early one with Cooper being denied her voting rights and much of that quality is due to Winfrey’s acting.

And finally, the film passed up a real opportunity to add some electricity to the film. During the crusade in Selma, Malcolm X had a speaking engagement in nearby Tuskegee and was invited by two SCLC workers to visit Selma. He appeared at a press conference, met with staff members, gave a speech, and talked to the wives of King and Abernathy. Pretty much all we see of this is the last.

In my opinion, this would have been a great opportunity to dramatize the splits in the civil rights movement, to contrast Malcolm with King, and to show how Malcolm was not changing his approach and he was beginning to play a “good cop/bad cop” routine with King. Meaning that, if you don’t give this American Gandhi what he wants, you will have to deal with me.

The film ends with King giving his speech in Selma and captions denoting progress made – that, for example, Andrew Young went on to be voted mayor of Atlanta twice and John Lewis a long-term congressman.

The film is supposed to be a commemoration of a long and brutal struggle, as well as a distillation of a great man. In this writer’s opinion because of the script’s biases – and the director’s lack of inspiration and imagination – it does not do justice to its subject. We should have felt like we were being forced to the ground and pounded by Clark’s baton. We should have been shaking with rage at Wallace’s plotting in the state house. Most of all, we should have been outraged at Hoover’s attempts to break King’s spirit.

The film doesn’t do these things. Therefore, I still await a picture that does justice to the great subject of Martin Luther King.

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The Real story of Christopher Columbus ”VIDEO”

NOVANEWS
Posted by: Sammi Ibrahem, Sr

What was destroyed and how it was done

Glossed over in the school books

“In Fourteen hundred and ninety two,
Columbus sailed the ocean blue…”

But what did he do when he came back in 1493?

That’s where the history books get vague.

When you get to the 6:20 point in the video pay specific attention.

One of the first things that Columbus did when he landed on the island of Hispaniola was to create an overt surveillance system (a tower and fort) to intimidate the local people into obedience.

Sound familiar?

– See more at: http://www.brasschecktv.com/videos/hidden-history/the-real-story-of-christopher-columbus-.html#sthash.BFihWAW9.dpuf

 

 

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US Says NKorea Sanctions Step 1 in Sony Response

NOVANEWS

Even the latest sanctions, handed down by President Barack Obama in an executive order, may not sting quite as badly as U.S. would have hoped. After all, North Korea is already under a strict sanctions regime imposed by the U.S. over the North’s nuclear program.

The new round of sanctions unveiled Friday hit three organizations closely tied to the North’s defense apparatus, plus 10 individuals who work for those groups or for North Korea’s government directly. Any assets they have in the U.S. will be frozen, and they’ll be barred from using the U.S. financial system.

But all three groups were already on the U.S. sanctions list, and officials couldn’t say whether any of the 10 individuals even have assets in the U.S. to freeze.

Still, American officials portrayed the move as a swift and decisive response to North Korean behavior they said had gone far over the line. Never before has the U.S. imposed sanctions on another nation in direct retaliation for a cyberattack on an American company.

“The order is not targeted at the people of North Korea, but rather is aimed at the government of North Korea and its activities that threaten the United States and others,” Obama wrote in a letter to House and Senate leaders.

North Korea has denied involvement in the cyberattack, which led to the disclosure of tens of thousands of confidential Sony emails and business files, then escalated to threats of terrorist attacks against movie theaters. Many cybersecurity experts have said it’s entirely possible that hackers or even Sony insiders could be the culprits, not North Korea, and questioned how the FBI can point the finger so conclusively.

Senior U.S. officials, who briefed reporters on condition of anonymity, repeated their assertion that North Korea was responsible and said independent experts don’t have access to the same classified information as the FBI.

With this round of sanctions, the U.S. also put North Korea on notice that payback need not be limited to those who perpetrated the attack.

The 10 North Koreans singled out for sanctions didn’t necessarily have anything to do with the attack on Sony, senior U.S. officials said. Anyone who works for or helps North Korea’s government is now fair game, said the officials — especially North Korea’s defense sector and spying operations.

Yet prominent lawmakers were already calling for an ever harsher stance. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who is set to chair the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this year, said it was time to concede the U.S. policy on North Korea isn’t working.

Added House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce, R-Calif.: “We need to go further to sanction those financial institutions in Asia and beyond that are supporting the brutal and dangerous North Korean regime.”

Obama has said the U.S. is considering whether to put North Korea back on its list of state sponsors of terrorism. Beyond that, it’s unclear what additional penalties the U.S. has in its arsenal. There is no appetite for a military intervention. The U.S. has said that some elements of its response may not be seen publicly, however.

The sanctions target the country’s primary intelligence agency, a state-owned arms dealer that exports missile and weapons technology, and the Korea Tangun Trading Corp., which supports defense research. The individuals sanctioned include North Koreans representing the country’s interests in Iran, Russia and Syria.

There was no immediate response from North Korea. Sony declined to comment.

While denying any role in a cyberattack, North Korea has expressed fury over the Sony comedy flick “The Interview,” which depicts a fictional assassination plot against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Sony initially called off the film’s release after movie theaters decided not to show the film. After Obama criticized that decision, Sony decided to release the film in a limited number of theaters and online.

The White House called the sanctions “the first aspect of our response” to the Sony attack, a declaration that raised fresh questions about who was behind a nearly 10-hour shutdown of North Korean websites last week. The shutdown prompted a blunt response from North Korea’s powerful National Defense Commission, which blamed the U.S. and hurled racial slurs at Obama, calling him a reckless “monkey in a tropical forest.”

 

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US: Palestinian quest for justice counterproductive

NOVANEWS
Exposing Israeli war crimes

By Stuart Littlewood

You could not make it up.

“The one who needs to fear the International Criminal Court in The Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which has a unity government with Hamas, a terror organisation like [the Islamic State group] which commits war crimes.” So says Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu.

This certifiable crackpot, this bloody butcher who tops the world’s “most wanted” list, was speaking after Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas signed the Rome Statute, at long last joining Palestine to the International Criminal Court (ICC).

Membership of the ICC could enable the Palestinians to file charges against Israel for war crimes.

Abbas’s move came after his disappointment when a UN Security Council draft resolution calling for the establishment of a Palestinian state and an end to the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza by late 2017 was blocked. Only eight members of the 15-strong Security Council voted for the resolution. The US and Australia opposed it while the UK government, ignoring Parliament’s overwhelmingly vote for Palestinian statehood, once again disgraced itself – and British citizens – by withholding support for Palestinian freedom and abstaining.

Netanyahu on that occasion said the resolution should be rejected: “What we need is direct negotiations and not dictated terms…” as if the world wasn’t already exasperated with negotiations made futile by Israel’s dictated terms.

Israel’s US State Department spokesmen

A US State Department spokesman, Jeff Rathke, said that the resolution “sets arbitrary deadlines for reaching a peace agreement and for Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank, and those are more likely to curtail useful negotiations than to bring them to a successful conclusion”. There have never been any negotiations that could be described as useful and Israel’s withdrawal has been required by numerous UN resolutions which the US, perversely, has helped the Tel Aviv regime to defy.

And Netanyahu’s insistence that Israel cannot accept an independent Palestinian state in the West Bank and intends maintaining military control over the territory surely tells even the dimmest in the State Department that negotiations are pointless and justice (and therefore peace) can only be delivered by implementing international law.

So has the State Department anything intelligent to say? Apparently not. When it came to the Palestinians’ application to the ICC, US State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said the United States strongly opposed the move and warned it would be “counterproductive and do nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state. It will badly damage the atmosphere with the very people with whom they ultimately need to make peace.”

In case he hadn’t noticed, the atmosphere is wrecked beyond repair and has been for a long time.

So why is Vasquez annoying us with this claptrap? He describes himself on hisLinkedIn page as a “hard-charging, take no prisoners communications professional who is highly skilled in strategic and tactical communications with an emphasis on both proactive affirmative messaging and crisis rapid response.” That says it all: another playground loudmouth with no experience, it would seem, outside the hothouse of the US Department of State and law school, yet given the dizzy and seriously responsible rank of senior advisor on Middle East affairs. Again, you couldn’t make it up.

Does Vasquez have any concept of what a just peace would look like in the Holy Land? Does he really think that successive Israeli governments ever wanted a just peace with Christian and Muslim Palestinians? He and his State Department buddies should either produce the evidence or drop their pain-in-the-ass “affirmative messaging”.

Is the ICC actually “fit for purpose”?

Few people feel confident that the ICC will deal justly with the Palestinians’ long struggle for peace and self-determination. The court must nevertheless be properly tested before it can be written off as corrupted and not fit for purpose. The very process of testing will amplify the Palestinians’ case, focus world opinion and mobilise action to isolate Israel. It might even act as catalyst to bring about a drastic overhaul of the UN, which is now a major embarrassment to the world’s civilised nations.

Abbas could, and should, have gone to the ICC in 2012 when the UN General Assembly recognised “Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem as a non-member observer state. This upgrade made it possible to apply for ICC jurisdiction in Palestine. But the quislings dragged their feet, preferring to engage in more time-wasting, US-brokered negotiations under cover of which Israel openly seized more land.

Abbas’s ceaseless demands that the UN and the international community intervene to end the occupation and the war crimes were hardly realistic when he had not even attempted to use the tools available to him first. If he’d acted promptly the most recent land grabs and other atrocities, including the slaughter in Gaza last summer, would probably not have happened.

Having finally joined, does Abbas have his charges against Israel prepared and ready to bring to the court? And does all this signify a bright start to the New Year for Palestinians?

Only if the shadowy grey suits of the Palestine Liberation Organisation can pluck up courage to really stick the boot in.

Osamah Khalil, Professor of US and Middle East history at Syracuse University, remarked that joining the ICC is “only meaningful if Abbas actually uses it to hold Israel accountable for its repeated violations of international law and Palestinian rights.

“Otherwise, it will be little more than a symbolic gesture that will not change Israel’s behaviour or force Washington to engage in a meaningful way.

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The “Cancer Stage of Capitalism”: The Ten-Point Global Paradigm Revolution

NOVANEWS

Global Research

 

As we enter 2015, the global corporate system deepens and spreads in its eco-genocidal effects. But the dots are not joined in their common cause across domains. Money-value coordinates like GDP, commodity productivity and stock market indexes are still adopted as the measures of economic performance rather than life capital development which is systemically attacked rather than advanced.

More than any prior stage of history, we know not what we are doing at that macro level of life organization, nor why no uptick of American sales can remotely solve the problem of collapsing social and natural life support systems. Greece – the worlds emblem of the sacrifice of society to debt servicing – is now 45% more in debt than it was before the austerity programs started. Global social and ecological collapse proceed in lock-step with the ruling paradigms transnational corporate and bank prescriptions, and they increase in their demands the more they fail to provide for societies life needs and development.

Fatal mind blocks now rule that no economists see from within received models of understanding and that no cognitive science lays bare. Unconnected spectacles of crisis are alone reported. Obviously, no recovery from the most wasteful and destructive economic disorder in history is possible so long as it is unseen. This is why we continue over the long cliff of catastrophe without an evident clue of what is happening at the macro level. As another new year opens with all degenerate trends deepening, a point-by-point resetting of our economic parameters to life reality is more than ever demanded. The fatally absurd economic box within which we have been conditioned to conform at a preconscious level remains life-blind at every step without knowledge of it.

Every one of the 10 points of re-framing the economy to life coherence is self-evident once seen. But every step is also revolutionary in paradigm shift from money-capital sequence to life-capital sequence as primary system decider. Once our thought is freed from the bars of the eco-genocidal disorder that now misrules, no step can be reasonably denied.

1. The One-Way Eco-Genocidal Trends

The evidence is now overwhelming that life on earth is in systematic decline towards collapse on all levels. But the meaning is nowhere recognized by any economic model. We have come to know that the climates destabilize to ever greater extremes, but do not connect this long denied reality to the deeper macro facts that the air, soil, forests and water sources are all cumulatively despoiled across the planet as the oceans themselves die back. Vertebrate species simultaneously become extinct at a spasm rate across cultures and continents, but no macro policy arrests their one-way collapse from song birds to coral reefs to pollinators to large animals all at once. Pollution cycles and volumes increase to endanger life systems at all levels, but no global system reduction has been made since the Ozone protocol over 25 years ago.

All the while, public sectors, services and regulators are defunded and dismantled to leave ever more tens of millions of people dispossessed, but tax evasion by the rich multiplies at the same time in one-way disastrous trend. The global food system produces more disabling and contaminated junk than it does food with nutritional value, while man-made non-contagious diseases from obesity to cancer escalate into the worlds biggest killer. Corporate state wars for the resources of the majority world never stop under false pretexts, while transnational corporate-rights treaties to the life capital of all societies multiply at the same time. At the core of the system, the global financial system ceases to function for productive investment in life goods, while the future of the next generations collapses towards 25-50% real unemployment, and a world where no birds sing. Yet nowhere is the common cause investigated or even conceived in the business press, education or high theory.

2. The Moral DNA of the Cancer Stage of Capitalism

In fact, the underlying value code driving every degenerate trend is never defined. It is, rather, assumed without question or examination and set into mathematical disconnect as the sole meaning of economic inquiry. Bertrand Russells warning here is apposite. Mathematics may be defined as the subject where we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we say is true. The co-author of Principia Mathemtica thus nailed neo-classical economics over a century ago. Yet no-one knew what it would come to mean. An academically coded corporate rule in a completely life-blind Economics was instituted with its assumption drivers hidden in symbols and closed to disconfirmation by facts. Behind all the self-referential hocus-pocus incapable of predicting its predictable disasters, a ruling value code crystallized to drive the world to ruin with no-one knowing why. This moral DNA of globalization regulates beneath consciousness by four absolute equations assumed in every moment of what is now still masked as the neo-liberal turn.

Rationality = Self-Maximizing Choice

= Always More Money-Value for Self is Good

= Self-Multiplying Sequences of Ever More Money to the Top Under 1%

= the Ruling Growth System with No Committed Life Functions

= All Else is Disposable Means to this Multiplying Pathogenic Growth

One can test this ruling moral meta program on every degenerate trend. But because it is not seen, the greatest of all fatal confusions comes to be built into societies ruling meaning: that money-sequence growth = life value growth. No more malignant mutation of value and meaning has ever occurred. As on the micro level where the surrounding cell community does not recognise the multiplying gross cells eating the life-host alive, so too on the macro social level. Leading the mutant tides of hollowing-out dispossession and ruin of social and ecological life hosts is a private bank system creating tidal notes of bets, credit and debt without legal tender, and partnering with transnational corporations in predation of local economies across the world. It loots life and life bases as necessary reforms everywhere it is allowed to move.

This is why there is not inflation while trillions of new dollars are printed for private banking operations with no life productive function. Endless slashing of life goods in wages, benefits, social security and environmental security take corresponding tides of money demand away from peoples lives and life support systems as money-demand powers multiply to the non-producing top. One can track back every step to the ruling value code at work that is taboo to see.

3. Contemporary Economics is a Pseudo-Science

None of this can be seen by Economics because it is a pseudo-science. Its ruling categories are disconnected from reality with no life coordinates, and its defining postulates are unfalsifiable by any facts of the world. All organic, social and ecological life requirements are assumed away a-priori. Infinite demand on finite resources is presupposed as sustainable. Reversibility of all processes is taken for granted in a nineteenth-century liquid mechanics model. Consequences follow in the long run that are predictably fatal to human and planetary life organisation.

Yet whatever does not fit this a-priori life-blind construction is heretical in graduate schools supplying economic advisers to governments and corporations, and taboo in the corporate press and media to the extent of its contradiction. It is not only a mechanical model, but is absurdly freedom and well-being at the same time. Whatever deviates from it, conversely, is irrational or despotic. At the system-wide level of ruling story, the plot is universal for all societies. Purely self-maximizing atomic selves in the market are believed to necessitate the best of possible worlds by an invisible hand of competition ensuring lowest money costs. Life costs do not compute, and economic growth is consistent with destroying all life support systems.

We find here, in fact, the underlying form of a fanatic religion. Supra-human laws dictate commands across peoples, and no deadly consequences diminish certitude in its production of the optimal state for all by the perfect design of the system. With the supreme conceit of a just-so story of dyadic market exchange producing the best of possible worlds multiplied to infinity with no possibility of being wrong, we find the inner logic of the global disorder. It rules as a totalitarian creed blind to all but its own growth free of any life value, standard or regulator.

4. Knowledge Wins in the End, but Not Until It is Known

Societies have thus been everywhere restructured as subordinate functions to the inexorable transformation of humanity and the world into ever more private commodities and profits. This mutant value system is malignant to the marrow with no consciousness of its derangement or ill consequences. It is taboo to recognize what is everywhere confirmed deregulated borderless money sequences multiplying themselves by life-blind models, treaties and wars through all that exists on earth whatever their destruction of human and ecological life systems.

Alarm at the growing deadly symptoms increases across thoughtful people, but without decoding connection. Top-down embargo on any other economic view or reality including by NATO wars suppresses alternative at every level. Policies of solution only extend the pathogenic system further. Even as the reversal of life evolution on earth becomes undeniable under the global rule of private money-sequence multiplication, life-coherent restructuring is anathema and prohibited a-priori by the unexamined value system. It all seems hopeless, but knowledge wins in the end if not suffocated. Behind every step of degeneration lie failures of social knowledge:

(1) failure to diagnose the regulating value mechanism at work;

(2) failure to connect across the domains of life despoliation as predictable from the systems blind money-demand multiplications;

(3) failure to define or demand any public policies against its despoiling and devouring life support systems with the public increasingly financing the out-of-control feeding cycles;

(4) failure to recognise any life-value principle or ground of the real economy itself.

5. Re-Grounding in Real Capital and Goods, True Supply and Demand

The failure to recognise the life ground and processes of the economy is built into the ruling paradigm in principle. As in the prior ruling religion, disconnection of categories and system from empirical reality and life needs rules out disbelief. But disconnect is in the name of science and the invisible hand rather than Gods commands and divine design. Adam Smith the founder of modern economics was a Deist, but doctrinal abdication of life ground and reality became totalized in so-called neo-classical economics which displaces the class divisions of classical economics and the possibility of any alternative social order.

Thus an absurd metaphysics comes to rule which cannot be decoded because its first principles and axioms are a-priori dictates not subject to critical examination. The first principle of this life-blind economics begins by disconnection from all life requirements, grounds and and needs thus mutating the economys provision of otherwise scarce material life goods into an opposite meaning where life goods and life capital do not exist. Capital is assumed as private money-sequences multiplying themselves with life capital blinkered out. Private commodities are assumed to be goods although they are in fact increasingly bads for organic, social and ecological life hosts.

The laws of supply and demand are simultaneously reduced to self-maximizing private money exchanges indifferent to the real economy of providing life goods otherwise in short supply. Demand is not need or necessity as in any real economy. It is money demand minted by private banks without the legal tender to back over 97% of it: which is ever more unequally held by those serving no productive function, and which nowhere today stands for any life need whatever. The fatal metaphysic built into first principles does not end here. Supply is not the life goods people need to survive and flourish, but increasingly the opposite ever more priced commodities for profit now promoting ever more human and ecological ill-being across the world. Capital is not life wealth that can produce more life wealth without loss, but increasing transnational private money sequences hollowing out life capital on every plane.

6. Knowing Good from Bad as the Baseline of Life-Coherent Economics

At the normative level of this doctrine, a ludicrous and fatal doctrine of freedom rules the war and peace of nations beneath consciousness of it. Freedom = freedom for private money demand only = in proportion to the amount controlled = ever less freedom for those with less of it = no right to life for those without it.

Sane people, in contrast, recognise that life value matters more, the more coherently inclusive in self and world the better. But this ultimately self-evident value ground has been reversed without recognition. People called pro-life usurp womens choice of how they live. Nations assume that standard of living is measured by private money spent. Life sciences sacrifice billions of animal lives a year for the private money-sequence gains of big corporations. Animal rights theory itself has no criterion to tell the life value of a slug from a person. New and better technology is the ruling panacea, but no life-value standard exists to decide better from worse.

What then are we to ground in as life value that the real economy must provide? The objective standard and measure can be stated in three incisive steps:

all value whatever is life value, (2) good versus bad equals the extent to which life is more coherently enabled versus disabled, by (3) greater/lesser ranges or capacities of thought, felt being and action through time.

This criterion of life value is no more a matter of opinion than peoples life necessities are. But what are these life needs that no economic paradigm – orthodox or revolutionary – defines? They are in every case that without which life capacities are reduced. Life capital, in turn, is that which produces and reproduces these life goods from literacy and extending knowledge to the soil we grow in and air we breathe. The ruling value mechanism miscalled the global economy is the opposite. It attacks life goods and capital everywhere as externalities to its self-multiplying money-sequence and commodity cycles. But because such growth is assumed to be growing life value, the greatest value reversal in history is unseen.

7. Life Capital Base and Growth as the Real Economy Across Cultures

The moving line of the war of liberation begins with what we are able to control, our own lives. Here we can recognise that every value we enjoy, lose or gain has a bottom line its life capital, that is, the life wealth that produces more life wealth without loss and with cumulative gain. We defend it by life goods to ensure our life capacities are not reduced but grow through time. Most are unpriced the sun and air, the learning, the home environment, the delight in nature, the play, the love, the raising of children, the fellow arts, and so on. On the social level, the same holds and any well-governed society provides for them in many ways. All may recognise the principle of life capital in their own lives as self-evident, and that all which lasts through time that is worthwhile is life capital. But life capital does not exist as a concept in received economics. It is ruled out a-priori by money capital, the social instrument made the lord without life function.

Addictive internalization is how the system disorder grows on. Knowledge of life goods and bads is how it is rooted out, the unrecognised through-line of human evolution. That is why we find we live far better without corporate-ad television, regular private gas-vehicle use, any junk food or beverage, any throwaway item, any new fashion or commodity not more life enabling than the old, any business with big private banks. The organizing principle is as old as the good life, but is forgotten. The life-capital code is not stated, but becomes ever clearer in our time: minimize market demand that disables life capacities to enable life capital to grow and flourish. This principle is unthinkable within the ruling thought system, but defines transformation to true economy and life emancipation on earth. It liberates life wherever it moves.

The underlying turning point is as old as human evolution itself. Every human advance is by knowing what enables life through time from what does not. Collective life advance is transmitting this life-and-death knowledge across selves and generations. The life capital code holds across cultures. Life goods are always that without which life capacities decline and die. All real needs, all real demand, all real supply, and all real economics are known by this criterion. The lost line between good and evil is found in this principle, and so too human freedom and well-being.

We can define the meaning more concretely as follows Every human life suffers and degenerates towards disease and death without breathable and unpolluted air, clean water and waste cycles, nourishing food and drink, protective living space, supportive love, healthcare when needed, a life-coherent environment, symbolic interaction, and meaningful work to perform. All are measurable in sufficiency across cases. All are now degraded, polluted or perverted by the self-multiplying money-capital system defined above.

8. Collective Life Capital the Missing Link across Divisions

Collective life capital is the long-missing principle of the common interest and collective agency. The life capital code goes deeper than gender, culture or individual differences, and includes past as well as future generations by definition. It is objective, impartial, and universally applicable. It is the ultimate regulator of the economic principles of efficiency, productivity and development. It grounds political legitimacy and supersedes ruinous man-nature, economy-environment splits and individual-social conflicts of interest. By its regulation, freedom is made responsible to its own conditions of possibility. Life capital defines an inner logic of life value which cannot in principle go wrong within or beyond economics.

Collective life capital is the missing common ground and measure across the lines of death itself. It is the this-worldly bridging concept across the impasse of global culture wars, economy-versusenvironment thinking, present-versus-future interests, male versus female conflicts, and all other warring dichotomies wrenching us from our shared life ground beneath property lines and the mors immortalis of reality on earth.

The difference from received ultimate principles of value across time and theories is in the objective precision of meaning and direction when value judgement and decision are governed by its laws of: (1) life value regulator from start to finish, (2) production of more life value capacity through generational time, (3) life-value measure to tell greater from lesser in any domain by margins of capacity loss or gain, (4) cumulative life gain as the organizing goal of the process throughout, and (5) the meta principle: the more coherently inclusive any decision or action is in enabling life capacities, the better it always is for the world.

9. The Life-and-Death War of the World

In fact, the global corporate commodity and money-sequence system usurps these life capital principles with impunity across continents, while captive corporate states increasingly subsidize, de-regulate, privatize and militarily enforce this life-blind rule over all ecological and human requirements and rights. But who sees the moving lines of the global life-and-death war?

Obviously a real economy would regulate for life capital conservation and advance with money sequences only as means as is already is the case in a human way of life. Societies and individuals would transform to better lives if the paradigm revolution was enacted in their spheres of choice. Victory or loss in the war of the world lies as always in how we live. Knowledge of bads versus goods is always the inner logic of human evolution at individual and collective levels of action. It is the mark of being human, and begins in what we do not demand for example, any new fashion or commodity not more life enabling than the old or the used.

The organizing principle of real economy is long anticipated by Chinas Tao-te Ching and the Wests autarkia of human self-realization, and many prove it in their own lives. Minimal demand on short resources to enable maximum life capacities is the war of recovery on social as well as individual levels. While every corporate state now presses for ever more energy extraction and use with no limit of public and life costs at every imaginable level, the root of economic rationality – ration to need is effectively taboo in official culture.

Once the life-capital system decider kicks in, the rules of selection for what compossibly enables rather than disables human and fellow life on earth become evident to reason and learning from mistakes the ultimate incapacity of the now ruling global system. This is the transformation to true economy and life emancipation, and it can only proceed in accord with the life capital principle that holds across individual, social and environmental life hosts.

10. The Ultimate Choice Space of Humanity

Collective life capital is now fatally endangered on almost every plane across generational and ecological time. The common life interest has no meaning in the ruling global system because its sole law of growth is to multiply the very private commodities and money sequences without life function that mindlessly drive the end-game world disorder.

It follows that humanitys very provision for the universal human life necessities that have evolved over millennia are blinkered out by the life-blind value measures of what is miscalled the economy. Everything that makes a society civilised or liveable is excluded from view life-protective laws including sufficient minimum wages and environmental regulations, common water and sewage systems for all, free movement pathways and life spaces without cost to use, non-profit healthcare and disease-prevention by public institution, public income security from disemployment, old age and disability, primary to higher education without multiplying debts, family housing, food and life means assistance for children without sufficient parental money, and public libraries and arts facilities with accessible books, films and works of art and art creation. This is more or less a complete index of the collective life capital bases modern society has evolved, but all are dismantled by the global corporate disorder to maximally profit from.

In truth, the organizing principles of common life interest and human agency cross the lines of death itself in the life capital code of value that steers any real economy in any place through generational time. It is the system-deciding choice all societies face without knowing it. History is the record of successes and failures at what still remains unconscious in economic thought. It is nowhere defined beyond slogan even in communism, and the public interest has no life coordinates or ground in known modern politics across the spectrum. Yet life goods and life capital denote the only true economic necessity and growth that without which human life capacities degrade and die. The economy is not run by natural or divine laws, as the modern paradigm assumes. It is a social construction of binding rules which directs towards how we live better by what is not otherwise there.

The ruling value code fails more momentously in world waste and destruction than all other systems in history, but beneath recognition. Its built-in contempt for all life requirements and indifference to life ruin multiplies its demands across the planet in a fanaticism beyond ISIL in attacking life capital and goods with no committed life functions. Yet no economics yet allows the recognition of its predictably rising catastrophe through time as a global economic system.

The life capital economy is opposite in its regulating value logic. It grounds in common life capital and produces more of it by life measure as its goal and moral science. Its logic of value is not utopian, but the ultimate through-line of human development since language and cooperative provision of human means of life. It lives in all the civil commons we are made human by in the life security of a free humanity. It is invaded wherever its life capital and goods are turned into more private money demand, resource depletion and waste without limits – the moral cancer of the ruling system. The ultimate choice space of humanity and society lies in this unrecognised life and death meaning.

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