Saturday, August 20, 2016

A Change of Olympic Tone

Olympic Jam Sessions

by David Yearsley - CounterPunch

August 19, 2016

Music was arguably more crucial at the ancient Olympic games than at the globalized modern ones, where it not only buttresses big ritualistic moments—the opening ceremonies, the doling out of medals—but insinuates itself into the damnedest moments of the competition.

The main difference between the games of antiquity and those of modernity—not that I can claim to have time-travelled to the 4th and 5th centuries BCE—is the tone.

In contrast to what one might imagine for the solemnities of the ancients, the musical cues and quirks in Rio owe more to the sitcom and Hollywood movie cue, than to the spirit of earnest devotion to the gods and the human form that held sway back when the athletes did their thing in the nude, instead of trussed up in corporate logos and throbbing with bling.

At the volleyball matches both indoors and on the sands of Copacabana beach every time a call is challenged by one of the teams, John Williams’ Imperial March from Star Wars—the leitmotiv of Darth Vader—comes blaring out of the loudspeakers.

In the good old days of the Cold War, when the Olympics were a lot more fun, Williams’ march stood on the cinema screen for the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union; now the bullying tune can do equally viable service for the doped-up bad guys from the Russian Federation, which lost to the Freedom Loving NATO-loyal Dutch last night in the Bronze medal match without winning a game. Perhaps the Russian duo of Krasilnikov and Semenov was put off by the mocking soundtrack.

What are the possible meanings of this unlikely Challenge Music? Maybe it tells us never to trust the human officials for sports (or anything else for that matter): the former are Darth Vader wannabes wearing not black but the bright colors provided by Chinese sportswear behemoth 361˚? Or does it bring to mind the invisible world of technological surveillance in which even the ball can’t get away with a harmless flirtation with the line in the sand? The possibilities of conspiratorial interpretation are endless.

At the start of the sprints a portentously swelling chord evokes the Sunrise opening of Richard Strauss’s Also sprach Zarathustra in the same key of C Major. The denuded slopes of the Strauss are now awash with kitschy run-off after a century of overgrazing, no culprit greater than that big cinematic beef, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. The Rio crowd-quieter and scene-setter music taps into the same sound-of-the-cosmos-in-formation—running being the most elemental of survival skills: flee or be eaten. Here, too, a range of meanings is possible, my favorite being: Vaderian corporate forces rule the games—and everything else—and we all better run like hell to get away from them.

The relationship between Romantic model (Strauss’s Zarathustra) and its modern semiotic distillate (the Starter’s Chord) is paralleled by that between the fake heroism of the background music that precedes the playing of the national anthems. I suspect a computer program rather than an actual human came up with this supra-patriotic porridge: funnel all the world’s national hymns—themselves kitschy revenants of a bygone age when nationalism was less a front for corporate cash—into the software saucepan and boil for a long, long time.

Jamaican Robert Lightbourne’s masterful mimickry of the arch-colonial style of Sir Edward Elgar has been on full display in the 1962 national hymn he wrote for his island nation. Lightbourne’s anthem has been heard repeatedly as the country continues to dominate the sprints. As the athletes mount the podium a mushy version of striving nationalist Romanticism wafts through the track-and-field venue. After the anthem of the winner’s country has been played, the mushy mood-music returns to accompany the athletes as they take the slow walk of triumph around the stadium.

In contrast to these trite and tedious canned cues, music at the original Olympics back on the Peloponnese was clear and forceful in its meaning. One of its duties was to spur on the athletes during the events. Thus the long jump was accompanied by clarion calls that were thought to propel the competitors to greater heights and distances. Now the run-up to this event is done without such a sonic boost, and even without pre-recorded ditties from the mega-corps who clothe the athletes, although the jumpers sometimes get the crowds clapping (what there are of them—the Havelange Stadium an embarrassment of empty blue seats even at the most thrilling events, which finish past midnight local time).

Music was held to be so vital to the ancient games that the discipline achieved competitive status from 396 BCE on: the salpinx (trumpet) that provided ritual support and definition for the proceedings became itself a competitive apparatus. At the 96th games in 396 BCE, a local trumpeter from the town of Elis near Olympia won the first contest, the winner decided for the power and clarity of his playing. Surely the hometown crowd influenced the judges’ decision.

The greatest of all the Olympian trumpeters, though, was Herodorus from Megara in distant Attica, much closer to Athens. He won the salpinx laurels in ten consecutive Olympics from 328 to 292BCE. Writing some five hundred years later in the Deipnosophists (The Banquet of the Learned), the Hellenistic-Egyptian Athenæus described the musician as an impressive physical specimen enjoying a daunting caloric regimen:

“Herodorus, the Megaran trumpeter, was a man of three cubits and a half in height [just over six feet] … he had great strength in his chest, and he could eat six chœnixes [the mid-nineteenth-century British translator, C. D. Yonge, set the range of this measure between a pint-and-a-half and four pints — either way a considerable quantity] of bread and twenty liters of meat, of whatever sort was provided for him; he could drink two choeus of wine; he could play on two trumpets at once; and it was his habit to sleep on only a lion’s skin.”

The result of this training program for the legendary Olympic musical laureate was simply this: “When playing on the trumpet he made a vast noise.”

Athenæaus reports not only that “[Herodorus] gained the prize in all the games ten times” but also that the trumpeter was a major asset on the battle field:

“When Demetrius the son of Antignus, was besieging Argos, and when his troops could not bring the helepolis [a moveable siege tower] against the walls on account of its weight, he, giving the signal with his two trumpets at once, by the great volume of sound which he poured forth instigated the soldiers to move forward the engine with great zeal and earnestness.”

Doubtless Herodorus’s girth and gusto had been inflated in the retrospect of the intervening half millennium. But the description is nonetheless worthy of a musical champion.

Athenæus does not report on the great Olympian musician’s attire or whether he had to play naked at games. Following directly on his account of Herodorus, Athenæus moves on to the exploits of a female trumpeter “Aglais, the daughter of Megacles played a processional piece of music [wearing] a head-dress of false hair, and a crest upon her head … And she, too, could eat twelve liters of meat and four chœnixes of bread, and drink a choeus of wine, at one sitting.” This is a festive diet worthy of an Eastern European hammer thrower and as powerful a defense of music as sport as you’re likely to read.

Nowadays there is no shortage of musical contests, nor, for that matter, of all-you-can-eat buffets. Many who follow musical competitions claim that, from the Van Cliburn in Fort Worth to the Tchaikovsky in Moscow, these events often reward technical achievement rather than the more indistinct merits of artistic interpretation. I say let’s channel the Olympic spirit of antiquity and recognize musical might and speed.

Invite Herodorus’s modern-day epigones out onto the stadium in lycra body suits to blast horns for Bolt and Orsippus, that ancient runner, also from Megara who, at the games of 720 BCE, cannily let his girdle slip off not only to display his bod, but more importantly so that he could run unencumbered on to glory.

Today’s Olympian musicians could be measured not according to dubious aesthetic metrics but with the accuracy of modern technology, the decibel level counted down to the second decimal place. Then there’d be the speed events on violin, piano, guitar—from Chopin Études (already a kind of sporting event) to heavy metal springs. World records could be set.

The thrill of simultaneous competition would boost both musicians and sprinters, ratings and ticket sales. And think of the sound of that power trio and the euphoria of the crowd, as the gold medalist musician invites silver and bronze onto the top step of the podium for an Olympic Power Trio jam session that’ll knock the world’s socks and ears off—and Darth Vader’s helmet, too.
DAVID YEARSLEY is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at
More articles by:David Yearsley

Spiritual Casuistry: Holy Sustenance for the Empire on the Go


by Thomas S. Harrington - CounterPunch

August 19, 2016

Casuistry, which one dictionary defines as “specious, deceptive, or oversubtle reasoning, especially in questions of morality” is, rightly or wrongly, inextricably linked to the history of Jesuit order of the Catholic Church. And the rise of the Jesuit order is deeply enmeshed with the Counter-Reformation, a set of measures designed to roll back the spread of Protestantism in Europe during the late 16th and early 17th centuries.

The control center of the movement was Spain, the world-striding superpower of that historical moment. Rightfully fearful that Protestantism’s rejection of long-standing modes of clerical privilege and the Church’s “right” to collect vast sums of money from parishioners would undermine their ability to bully and bribe Italian, French, Dutch and German potentates into compliance with their political demands, the Spanish Monarchy undertook an endless series of military adventures against “heretics” across the Continent between 1530 and 1648.
Jesuit Order founder, 
Saint Ignatius of Loyola

This military thrust was accompanied by a well-organized propaganda campaign in which the highly educated Jesuits priests played a crucial role.

Appearing morally and intellectually reasonable while serving as a convinced advocate for the systematic subjugation of other people and their animating ideals is not a simple task. In the long run it is, in fact, an impossible one. No amount of argument can convince a person or group of persons who see them selves as suffering under the boot of another that their bondage is a good and necessary thing. What such a rhetorical posture can do, for a time at least, is convince the subjects of the hegemonic country of, if not the inherent nobility of their bloody mission, its generally benign nature.

A key, if generally unstated, goal of the 16th and 17th century Jesuits was to insure that the highly problematic matter of Rome’s corruption, and the brutal Imperial designs of the Spanish monarchy that lay behind it, never be allowed to occupy the center zone of what then passed for “public” discourse.

When confronted by the emergent Protestant movements about the clear violations of Christian morality practiced by the Church of Rome, they responded with complex disquisitions on the largely circumstantial nature of all moral reasoning. By constantly parsing the intricacies of how overarching moral rules should, or should not, be applied in each particular circumstance (and teaching others to do the same), they very effectively prevented the emergence within the Church, and by extension in the leadership class of the Spanish Empire, of a frank discussion of the quite real and deeply-felt grievances of their many enemies.

I am reminded of all this when I read or watch the news after every so-called “terrorist” attack against a US or European target. Within minutes of the violence, mainstream journalists, begin intense speculation about what particular ethnic group the assailant came from, how he or she became “radicalized” (as if the desire to kill was akin to some sort of contagious moral flu) and whether the “West’s” latest stand-in for PURE EVIL (e.g. Al-Qaeda, ISIS, ISIL) was behind the act.

What will almost never be talked about are the many very good reasons a person from the vast region stretching from Morocco in the west, to Pakistan in the east, have to be very angry at, and to feel highly vengeful toward, the US, its strategic puppeteer Israel, and their slavishly loyal European compadres like France, Germany and Great Britain.

There is never any talk of that group of august “democracies” long-standing penchant for implanting, then staunchly supporting, ruthless and deeply corrupt regimes in that region.

No talk of the very long Algerian experience of French colonialism, nor the US and French- backed coup of that country’s government in 1992 led to a civil war that left 200,000 people dead.

No talk of the coup against the legally elected president of Egypt in 2013, nor the cold-blooded massacres carried out by his US-backed successor upon hundreds of that same president’s followers.

No talk of the decision of the US to back elements of ISIS in order to cynically extend a Syrian Civil War that was on its way to peace—albeit an imperfect one—by means of a Syrian government victory by late 2013.

No talk of the planned destruction of Libya in 2011 and its enormous effects on the stability of life in that once wealthy country as well as all of northern Africa.

No talk of the US-Israeli nullification of the results of the Palestinian elections of 2006, Israel’s coldly planned siege of Gaza nor the “shoot-fish-in-a barrel” assaults on that benighted enclave by Israel in 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014.

No talk of the ongoing Saudi—and therefore US-approved—war on Yemen, nor the ruthless Saudi march on Bahrain in 2011 in which several dozen people died and thousands of democracy activists were tortured and/or carted off to prison.

No talk of the 18-year Israeli—and therefore, US-backed—occupation of Southern Lebanon nor Israel’s 1993, 1996 and 2007 assaults upon that same country.

Oops, I almost forgot. There is no talk of the small matter the calculated US destruction of Iraq, pre-invasion Libya’s rival as the Arab world’s most wealthy and socially progressive state.

But hey, why talk about all that off-putting stuff when you can boil it all down to neat tales of personal ideological contamination, Svengali-like recruiters in lurking mosques, and that old standby, the development of an urgent need to bang virgins in in the hereafter.

It seems the media believes that the delicate imperial mind must be left free from understanding the effects of the actions for which it regularly cheers and prays.

The best way to insure this? Casuistry, as the old saying goes, “Pure casuistry”.

Thomas S. Harrington is a professor of Iberian Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut and the author of the recently released Livin’ la Vida Barroca: American Culture in a Time of Imperial Orthodoxies.
More articles by Thomas S. Harrington

That Great Sucking Sound: Trillions Disappear Down Pentagon Drain

Audit Reveals the Pentagon Doesn’t Know Where $6.5 Trillion Dollars Has Gone

by Jay Syrmopoulos - FreeThoughtProject 

August 7, 2016 

Washington, D.C. – A new Department of Defense Inspector General’s report, released last week, has left Americans stunned at the jaw-dropping lack of accountability and oversight.

The glaring report revealed the Pentagon couldn’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars worth of Army general fund transactions and data, according to a report by the Fiscal Times.

The Pentagon, which has been notoriously lax in its accounting practices, has never completed an audit, would reveal how the agency has specifically spent the trillions of dollars allocated for wars, equipment, personnel, housing, healthcare and procurement allotted to them by Congress.

Beginning in 1996 all federal agencies were mandated by law to conduct regular financial audits. However, the Pentagon has NEVER complied with that federal law. In 20 years, it has never accounted for the trillions of dollars in taxpayer funds it has spent, in part because “fudging” the numbers has become standard operating procedure at the Department of Defense, as revealed in a 2013 Reuters investigation by Scot Paltrow.

According to the report by the Fiscal Times:

“An increasingly impatient Congress has demanded that the Army achieve “audit readiness” for the first time by Sept. 30, 2017, so that lawmakers can get a better handle on military spending. But Pentagon watchdogs think that may be mission impossible, and for good reason…

The Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), the behemoth Indianapolis-based agency that provides finance and accounting services for the Pentagon’s civilian and military members, could not provide adequate documentation for $6.5 trillion worth of year-end adjustments to Army general fund transactions and data.

The DFAS has the sole responsibility for paying all DOD military and personnel, retirees and annuitants, along with Pentagon contractors and vendors. The agency is also in charge of electronic government initiatives, including within the Executive Office of the President, the Department of Energy and the Departing of Veterans Affairs.”

While there is nothing in the IG’s report specifying that the money has been stolen, the mere fact that the Pentagon can’t account for how it spent the money reveals a potentially far greater problem than simple theft alone.

For every transaction, a so-called “journal voucher” that provides serial numbers, transaction dates and the amount of the expenditure is supposed to be produced. The report specifies that the agency has done such a poor job in providing documentation of their transactions, that there is no way to actually know how $6.5 trillion dollars has been spent. Essentially, the government has no way of knowing how the Pentagon has spent the trillions of taxpayer dollars allocated by Congress for national defense.

In turn, employees of the DFAS were routinely told by superiors to take “unsubstantiated change actions” commonly referred to as “plugging” the numbers. These “plugs” – which amounted to falsifying financial records – were then used to create the appearance that the military’s financial data matched that of the U.S. Treasury Department’s numbers when discrepancies in the financial data couldn’t be accounted for, according to the Reuters investigation.

According to that Reuters investigation:

“For two decades, the U.S. military has been unable to submit to an audit, flouting federal law and concealing waste and fraud totaling billions of dollars.

Linda Woodford spent the last 15 years of her career inserting phony numbers in the U.S. Department of Defense’s accounts.

Every month until she retired in 2011, she says, the day came when the Navy would start dumping numbers on the Cleveland, Ohio DFAS…. Using the data they received, Woodford and her fellow accountants there set about preparing monthly reports to square the Navy’s books with the U.S. Treasury’s…. And every month, they encountered the same problem. Numbers were missing. Numbers were clearly wrong. Numbers came with no explanation of how the money had been spent or which congressional appropriation it came from.”

While many of the problems occurred due to bookkeeping errors rather than actual financial losses, the DFAS has failed to provide the necessary tracking information essential to performing an accurate audit of Pentagon spending and obligations, according to the IG’s report.

“Army and Defense Finance and Accounting Service Indianapolis personnel did not adequately support $2.8 trillion in third quarter adjustments and $6.5 trillion in year-end adjustments made to Army General Fund data during FY 2015 financial statement compilation,” wrote Lorin T. Venable, the assistant inspector general for financial management and reporting. “We conducted this audit in accordance with generally accepted government auditing standards.”

The Pentagon has a chronic failure to keep track of its money – how much it has, how much it pays out and how much is wasted or stolen. Adding to the appearance of impropriety is the fact that thousands of documents that should be on file have been removed and disappeared without any reasonable explanation.

DFAS “did not document or support why the Defense Departmental Reporting System . . . removed at least 16,513 of 1.3 million records during Q3 FY 2015. As a result, the data used to prepare the FY 2015 AGF third quarter and year-end financial statements were unreliable and lacked an adequate audit trail,” according to the IG’s report stated.

The accounting errors and manipulated numbers, though obviously problems in their own right, highlight a far greater problem for the Defense Department than only bad recording keeping and wasteful spending habits. In reality, they are a representation of the poor decision-making, and lack of oversight and accountability that plague our nation’s government as a whole.

While the Department of Defense can’t account for $6.5 trillion dollars of taxpayer funds, in 2014 there were 47 million people, including over 15 million children, living in poverty in the U.S. – %15 of the U.S. population, which is the largest total number in poverty since records began being kept 52 years ago.

Please share this story if you are appalled by the fact that there are Americans that are homeless and hungry, including U.S. combat veterans — while the government is unable to account for $6.5 trillion dollars of taxpayer money.

History Returning for Wild Salmon: Fish Farms Invited to Leave Kingcome Inlet

A Historic Day for Wild Salmon

by Alexandra Morton  -

Aug 19, 2016

On August 18, 2016 the Musgamagw Dzawada’enuwx came together to perform ceremony on the Sir Edmund salmon farm at the entrance to Kingcome Inlet. People came from Alert Bay, Gwayasdums (Gilford Village) to join the Dzawada’enuxw in the second boarding of a salmon farm in the past 72-hours.

The governments of Canada and British Columbia have allowed the Norwegian/Japanese salmon farming industry to put millions of Atlantic salmon into Musgamagw Dzawada’enuwx territory even though this nation has said “No” for almost 30 years.

The federal government of Canada issues transfer permits to the salmon farming industry that allows them to put fish carrying viruses associated with disease into all waters of BC, including Musgamagw Dzawada’enuxw territory. I took one of the companies, Marine Harvest, and the government of Canada to stop this and won, but there is no evidence that they are abiding by this ruling.

“The people who are benefiting from these farms are benefiting over the suffering of our people” Dzawada’enuxw hereditary leader Farron Soukochoff .
“We have heard the words of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, that honouring the rights of First Nations are a “sacred obligation” to the Liberal Government of Canada,” said Hereditary leader and chief councilor Willie Moon.
“Our people have spoken we want salmon farms out of our territory.”

The rudeness with which the salmon farm employees were told to conduct themselves was in stark contrast to the integrity of the people performing ceremony with cedar bows. It was hard to witness.

If you want to help this brave effort to restore a large part of the BC coast so that it can once again produce wild salmon and herring, please go to their website

Donate money for fuel for the boats, and travel, write to them to offer support, show solidarity in other parts of BC and the world and send pictures. Like the Facebook page musgamagw dzawadaenuxw cleansing our waters Write to the editors of your newspapers, who are ignoring this movement and tell this is news. Write to your MPs and MLAs.

This Nation is on the front lines for all of us and for future generations. The two Norwegian/Japanese companies, one of them owned by Mitsubishi, do not have to destroy these waters, sometime known as the Broughton, to become richer. They do not have to do this.

It is time to stop destroying our planet.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Establishment Journals Attack Assange for...Journalism

New York Times soils itself: Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange for Doing What Journalists are Supposed to Do

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

August 18, 2016

While I periodically have written commentaries dissecting and pillorying news articles in the New York Times to expose their bias, hypocrisy half-truths and lies, I generally ignore their editorials since these are overtly opinions of the management, and one expects them to display the elitist and neo-liberal perspective of the paper’s publisher and senior editors.

Julian Assange remains holed up in the Ecuador embassy in London
fearing extradition to the US on an espionage charge

That said, the August 17 editorial about Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, who has spent four harrowing years trapped in the apartment-sized Ecuadoran embassy thanks to a trumped-up and thoroughly discredited political rape “investigation” by a politically driven Swedish prosecutor and a complicit right-wing British government, moves far beyond even the routine rampant bias and distortion of a Times editorial into misrepresentation and character assassination. As such it cries out for criticism.

Headlined “A Break in the Assange Saga,” the editorial starts off with the flat-out lie that “Ecuador and Sweden finally agreed last week that Swedish prosecutors could question Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London where he has been holed up since 2012.”

The casual reader fed only corporate media stories about this case might logically assume from that lead that such an interview has been held up by a disagreement of some kind between Ecuador and Sweden. In fact, Ecuador and Assange and his attorneys have stated their willingness to allow Swedish prosecutors to come to London and interview Assange in the safety of their embassy for several years now. The prosecutor in Sweden, Marianne Nye, who has been pursuing Assange all that time like Ahab after his whale, has not only never taken up that offer, but by her refusal to go to London in all this time, demanding instead Assange’s enforced presence in Stockholm, has allowed any possible rape charges, if any were even appropriate, to pass the statute of limitations. The paper doesn’t mention this. Nor does the editorial mention that the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Working Group on Arbitrary Detention last February found that Assange is effectively being held in arbitrary detention by the UK and Swedish governments, and called for his release, and for the lifting of British government threats to arrest him and extradite him if he leaves the safety of the embassy.

The paper fails to mention the important point that there are no rape charges pending against Assange, and never were. Swedish prosecutor Nye, at one point, was trying to build a case that Assange committed a rape in 2010 by proceeding to have sex with a woman (she had invited him to stay in her house for the night and to sleep with her), after his condom had allegedly broken during consensual intercourse -- a circumstance that in most countries would not qualify for a rape charge. (The woman by her own account later went out to buy breakfast for Assange, and subsequently tweeted boasts about having bedded him, but later took those down.) A second woman, who also had consensual sex with Assange the same week has said her complaint was only made in order to make Assange take an AIDS test, which he subsequently did, and she subsequently dropped her complaint. Although no formal legal charge of rape was ever filed against Assange, Sweden succeeded years ago in getting an overly enthusiastic Interpol to issue an unusual “red alert” warrant for him, which led to his arrest in Britain and to his seeking asylum in the Ecuadoran embassy. None of this important history got mentioned in the Times editorial.

The Times claims Assange’s real reason for not wanting to go to Sweden to undergo questioning is that he “presumed: that extradition there would also lead to his extradition from Sweden to the United States to face charges over the Chelsea Manning leaks” about US war crimes in Iraq.

This sentence leaves the same casual reader to assume that Assange is just being paranoid. Unmentioned is the fact that throughout Assange’s whole ordeal, the US Justice Department has possessed a sealed and active indictment charging Assange with espionage -- a charge which, if ever brought to trial, could result in his being sentenced to life in prison in some US maximum-security hellhole, or worse. That is not paranoia. It is what the US does to perceived enemies of the state, who are generally prevented by the courts from offering genuine defenses, such as a First Amendment argument in Assange’s case. Also unmentioned is the fact that Sweden has never promised not do make such an extradition to the US after questioning him.

The Times, which enthusiastically published articles based upon many of the very leaks that Assange brought to light via Wikileaks, including Pvt. Manning’s devastating in-flight video of a US attack helicopter slaughtering innocents in Baghdad (as the pilot and gunner laugh), cites others who have “accused” Assange, “even those who have hailed his exposes of government secrets,” of being “reckless with personal information,” and of “using leaks to settle scores.” As an example of “those” people, the editorial cites film director Alex Gibney, who authored a Times Op-Ed piece. It doesn’t note that Gibney’s claim to fame was producing a documentary film on Wikileaks that was little more than a fact-challenged hit piece on Assange.

As evidence of Assange’s alleged lack of principles, the Times cites Wikileaks’ release of recently hacked Democratic National Committee emails disclosing the DNC’s efforts to throw the party’s nomination to Hillary Clinton, and to undermine and destroy the campaign of her rival, Bernie Sanders. The release, the Times writes archly, came “days after Mr. Assange’s denunciation of Hillary Clinton and just before she was officially named the Democratic presidential nominee.”

Now hold on there. The Times during the course of this primary season, repeatedly used its supposedly unbiased news pages to ignore, ridicule and redbait Sanders, while repeatedly declaring Clinton the likely nomination winner, even as she lost primary after primary. It joined in a corporate media stampede to declare the race over before the June 7 primary in which California and six other jurisdictions had yet to vote in primaries that could have still handed the victory to Sanders. Meanwhile, the Times is known to have held stories from publication in the past that could have been devastating to President George W. Bush back in his 2004 race against John Kerry. These concerned evidence of a hitherto unknown massive warrantless spying campaign on American citizens by the National Security Agency, and even a fully written and edited report that Bush had likely cheated in his three debates with Kerry. Both were held until after Bush was re-elected, and the latter article was never published by the Times.

Is that what the Times was suggesting a “principled” Assange should have done with information he had in his possession exposing a corrupted DNC working for Clinton? Withhold it from publication?

Apparently so.

The real issue here is not Assange’s principles, which have always been about giving Americans and the rest of the peoples of the world access to secret information that is being improperly hidden from them by people in power, but is rather the lack of principles at the New York Times, which seems long ago to have forgotten that the role of the so-called Fourth Estate is supposed to be openness, and, as Joseph Pulitzer put it, “to afflict the comfortable and comfort the afflicted.”

Instead, the Times, with its sycophantic news pieces blaming Russia, on the basis no evidence, of being behind the DNC hack, and of being an aggressive threat to the sovereignty of eastern European nations, with its gentle reporting on Clinton, which glides over the epic corruption at her and husband Bill’s Clinton Foundation, and with its one-sided coverage of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories on the West Bank and the decades-long Israeli siege of Gaza, is little more than a propaganda organ of Washington.

It is symptomatic of this propaganda role that the Times sees nothing wrong with the Justice Department’s finding no cause to prosecute Hillary Clinton for her willful violation of the Freedom of Information Act and of State Department regulations in handling all her communications as Secretary of State on a private server in her own home, and sees nothing wrong in Attorney General Loretta Lynch rejecting an FBI request to investigate corruption at the Clinton Foundation, but at the same time, finds it perfectly acceptable for that same Justice Department to have a four-year active secret espionage indictment sitting ready on the shelf to file against journalist Assange, should prosecutors manage to get their hands on him.

Maybe that’s because the Times is unhappy that Assange and Wikileaks have been doing what the Times is so clearly unwilling to do: aggressively pursue real journalism that matters.

'Hamilton', Alexander Hamilton, Puerto Rico, and the Bankster Empire

The Irony of Hamilton Creator Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Advocacy for Puerto Rico

by Matt Peppe - Dissident Voice

August 15th, 2016

As the economic and humanitarian crisis has worsened in Puerto Rico in recent months, playwright and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda, has given voice in interviews and Op-Eds to the severity of the crisis among ordinary Puerto Ricans. Miranda called the island’s debt crisis a matter of “life and death,” saying,

“I have a lot of family who are struggling in Puerto Rico, that’s not an abstract issue to me.”

He humanizes what the statistics – $73 billion in debt, $19,500 median household income, 11.5 percent sales tax, 64,000 people leaving per year – can not. Puerto Rico is a debt colony whose function as a political entity is to service its creditors.

Ironically, Miranda achieved the celebrity he’s now using to advocate for the Puerto Rican people by glorifying and aggrandizing the most ruthless champion of creditors in American history.

Miranda has become an elite pop-culture sensation as the creator and star of the award-winning and immensely popular Broadway play Hamilton. The hip-hop musical has been as successful with critics as it has with Broadway theatergoers, dominating the Tony awards and selling out months in advance. The Harvard Business Review argues its $849 tickets are priced too low.

The show’s namesake is, of course, Revolutionary War commander, George Washington adviser, and first Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton. Miranda focuses on the rags to riches story of Hamilton – a poor immigrant who triumphed against all odds by using his intelligence and relentless hard work to fight British oppression and guide his new country to independence and greatness. In My Shot, Miranda’s title character raps:

Hey yo, I’m just like my country
I’m young, scrappy and hungry
And I’m not throwing away my shot!

Miranda has praised Hamilton and the other “Founders” for their ability to translate a revolutionary vision into a nation that embodied the liberal principles it supposedly stood for.

“They did a remarkable thing in sticking the landing from revolution to government. That’s the hardest thing to do. You can go across the ocean to France, where they totally fucked it up and then got stuck in a cycle of revolution and tyranny,” Miranda told Rolling Stone.

Miranda also praised Hamilton’s financial program of creating a national debt by assuming the debts of individual states: “His thinking was, if we are entrenched in each other’s finances, we’re stuck with each other.”

The problem with Miranda’s reading of history is that he assumes the liberal notion of a united nation, devoted to the common goals of freedom and equality, was any more real 225 years ago than it is today. Post-revolutionary America was never an utopia where everyone shared financially in the spoils of independence. It was a political association organized along the lines of feudal societies and their stark divisions between creditors and debtors.

A wealthy, colonial elite had managed through a massive propaganda campaign to enlist the poor to fight to overthrow British rule. The masses slogged through years battling horrid conditions in the woods and back country to survive combat, hunger, and the elements. They were paid in worthless paper they would later sell to speculators for a fraction of its face value after returning to their farms and their families upon gaining their “freedom.”

The landholders and mercantile class had sat by idly as the “exceedingly dirty and nasty people” (in George Washington‘s words) did the real work of putting their lives on the line. The financiers then used their political connections to try to turn their investments into a profit by not only receiving interest on the paper debt but getting payment on its full value. There was no one more willing to oblige this massive transfer of wealth from common workers and peasants to the elite, ruling class than Hamilton.

The concentration of economic power into the hands of the few was the desired outcome, and the reason for Hamilton’s dedication to the federalist political system. As the political battles raged between the federalists (Hamilton, James Madison and others) and the Republicans (Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr, who would later kill Hamilton in a duel), Hamilton sought to consolidate power into a centralized state that could enforce the feudal relationship between those who would pay and those who would collect.

As University of Massachusetts Amherst historian Leonard Richards writes in Shay’s Rebellion:

(Hamilton) intended to strengthen the national government at the expense of the states by diminishing the ties of state creditors to the states and binding them to the central government. If their future wealth and well-being was linked to the success of the federal government, rather than to the states, their hearts and minds would follow.”1

Hamilton was not trying to unite citizens together through mutual financial responsibility, as Miranda claimed. He was trying to unite the elites in dependency to the national state. To accomplish this, Hamilton “wanted to reduce – or, better yet, eliminate – the power of states. He also wanted to diminish the influence of farmers and artisans and enhance the power of landlords and merchants,” Richards writes.2

What became known as Shays’ Rebellion in western Massachusetts, in which a popular “regulation” revolted against the state’s new political system which had taken power out of the hands of local councils and removed the influence of citizens distant from the financial and political center of Boston, provided a pretext for the Federalists to ram through their centralized national organization of government in order to crush potential future insurrections.

Installed as Treasury Secretary in the new federal government, Hamilton immediately implemented his policy of creating an astronomical federal debt. His solution for providing the money to actually pay these financial promises was the Whiskey Tax.

This excise tax had further aims that would help reorganize American social and economic life. William Hogeland writes in The Whiskey Rebellion that Hamilton designed the law to favor large producers over smaller ones. The tax would undercut the prices of independent distillers and self-employed farmers, driving them out of business and “into the factories of their creditors.”

Hogeland writes:

The goal was industry consolidation. Hamilton had learned from the English that commercial agriculture and large industry, when publicly chartered, given tax breaks, and financed by large loans, might turn the United States into an industrial empire to compete with England’s. The labor power dissipated on small family farms and in artisan shops could be gathered up, deployed at factories and diversified commercial farms, and boosted through efficient organization.3

It is not clear whether Hamilton intended to provoke an insurrection, so he could then use the military power of the newly formed government to crush it and serve as an example to others who sought to challenge its dictates. But if Hamilton did indeed want the revolt that logically followed by those impacted by the tax, he was rewarded soon thereafter.

Hamilton not only argued for a military response to the uprising, the Treasury Secretary actually took command of a militia led by George Washington to the mountains of western Pennsylvania’s Allegheny Valley. His goals were more far-reaching and strategic than merely to implement compliance and enforce the law. He sought to make an example of the organizations and protesters of the consequences of challenging federal authority. As Hogeland writes,

“Hamilton was out to remove the heart of the people’s movement he’d been struggling with for more than a decade, not to prosecute individuals.”4

As commander of the military force that sought to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion, Hogeland writes that Hamilton sanctioned large-scale plunder:

He made theft legal. The quartermaster corps, he announced would impress civilian property along the way. Now families watched helplessly as bayonet-wielding soldiers – no longer freelancing thieves but officials, authorized by the president – commandeered hard-won winter supplies of grain, meat, firewood, and blankets on behalf of the government of the United States. A steady, freezing rain meant the arrival of winter. Families whose sustenance was carted away faced grim months ahead.5

When Hamilton’s forces reached the rebels, they terrorized the local population with night raids that resulted in mass arrests. Prisoners were threatened with hanging and left shackled, freezing and nearly starved. In the end, only 20 prisoners were brought back to Philadelphia for trial. All except one were found innocent. The one conviction was later overturned.

Naturally, this history is absent from Miranda’s sanitized version of Hamilton. Instead, there is a feel-good, liberal version of Hamilton that fits the propaganda needs of the present-day American empire.

As Paul Street wrote recently in his CounterPunch article “Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Menage a Trois for the Neoliberal Age”, Miranda’s Broadway spectacle is a “brilliant ahistorical monument to Orwellian, fake-progressive bourgeois identity politics in service to the very predominantly Caucasian financial elite and ruling class hegemony.”

Miranda also ignores the structural social and economic forces that, since the founding of the United States, have kept the elite rich and the landless poor. Instead, he propagates the illusion that a person’s success (or lack thereof) are based on meritocracy. This is a convenient narrative for apologists of inequality.

“Adding to the ‘valorization’ of the American System,” Street writes,

“Hamilton’s ‘Bootstraps Immigrant Narrative’ (McMaster) feeds Caucasian capitalism’s timeworn victim-blaming story line on why some few folks succeed in climbing up the nation’s steep racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic pyramids while most fail.”

The reality in Puerto Rico is that the population is suffering due to the same financial empire Hamilton was instrumental in designing and implementing. Like the small farmers and artisans whose livelihoods were crushed by Hamilton’s policies that transferred their wealth to the financial elites, Puerto Ricans are being forced to keep paying their ever-shrinking incomes to service the claims against them.

One can imagine Hamilton delighting in the privatization of Puerto Rico’s highways and airports, as well as the stipulation in the PROMESA bill that would allow an un-elected junta appointed by the U.S. Congress to lower the minimum wage.

While Miranda advocates for more flexibility for Puerto Rico to restructure its debt and help stabilize social life on the island, he doesn’t seem able to recognize that Puerto Rico’s problems are rooted in its political status as a colony conquered by the U.S. empire.

The fiction that Puerto Rico is anything other than a colony was put to rest recently when the Supreme Court’s Sanchez Valle ruling acknowledged Puerto Rico does not have sovereignty and the U.S. Congress holds all political authority over the island. As a colony ruled by outsiders for their own benefit, the population of Puerto Rico is powerless to change the socioeconomic system imposed on them through the political process. This is exactly how Hamilton would have wanted it.

For Miranda, who talks eloquently of the problems facing his family and the people of Puerto Rico, there should be no greater symbol of the dispossession and social destruction that appear to be reaching a breaking point in Puerto Rico than Alexander Hamilton and his feudal politics that stripped people of their livelihoods and turned them into little more than commodities whose station in life was to produce wealth for others.

1. Richards, Leonard L. Shay’s Rebellion: The American Revolution’s Final Battle. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2014. Kindle edition.
2. Ibid.
3. Hogeland, William. The Whiskey Rebellion: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and the Frontier Rebels Who Challenged America’s Newfound Sovereignty. Simon and Schuster, 2015. Kindle edition. 
4. Ibid.-1
5. Ibid.-2

Matt Peppe writes about politics, U.S. foreign policy, and Latin America. You can follow him on twitter. Read other articles by Matt, or visit Matt's website.

What Wikileaks Says About Soros' Open Society

 Soros Hacked, Thousands of Open Society Files Released Online

 by RT

August 16, 2016

More than 2,500 files from the raft of organizations run by billionaire George Soros have been leaked by hackers.

Saturday’s leak, published by DC leaks, includes hundreds of internal documents from multiple departments of Soros’ groups, predominantly the Open Society Foundations.

Somebody hacked Soros. His critics will be busy today. This doc alone shows Soros's anti-Israel network |— Mike Doran (@Doranimated) August 14, 2016
Ignore the riots, Soros just got hacked and leaked! #SorosLeak (I'd post the link but Twitter won't allow it - google it!)— King Robbo (@realkingrobbo) August 14, 2016

The files are grouped into sections such as geographical region, the World Bank and the President’s Office, and cover the period from 2008 up until 2016, according to The Daily Caller.

They reveal work plans, strategies, priorities and other activities by Soros, and include reports on European elections, migration and asylum in Europe.

@sn0wba111@CapuPatriote Full list of Soros NGOs manipulating elections in all EU member states. #SorosLeak#Soros— ⚓ Cain Raiser (@ActaNonVerba_) August 14, 2016

DC Leaks claims to be the work of American activists who want to present the truth about the “US decision-making process as well as about the key elements of American political life.”

US security experts however are blaming the leak on Russian hackers, according to Bloomberg, in a similar reaction seen in the wake of the DNC leaks.

The DC Leaks hackers previously released data from the Open Society Foundations in June, a breach that was reported to the FBI, according to spokeswoman Laura Silber. She said an investigation by a security firm found the intrusion was limited to an intranet system used by board members, staff and foundation partners.

DC Leaks also revealed emails from former NATO general Philip Breedlove which showed he tried to provoke President Obama to start US conflict against Russia. Breedlove claimed to CNN in July that the emails were stolen as part of a state-sponsored intelligence operation.

Soros gave Clinton step-by-step instructions on how to tackle Albania unrest – @wikileaks— RT (@RT_com) August 12, 2016

An email leaked by WikiLeaks earlier this week showed Soros had advised Hillary Clinton during her tenure as Secretary of State on how to handle unrest in Albania – advice she acted on.

Soros’ Open Society Foundations provides funding to the International Consortium for Investigative Journalists, which came under the spotlight earlier this year after the release of the Panama Papers, which included millions of records from law firm Mossack Fonseca showing how the wealthy are using tax havens.

The Panama Papers leak came under criticism from WikiLeaks, who claimed the US government and Soros funded the project to attack Russia and President Vladimir Putin.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Backhanded Legal Redress: Anti-SLAPP Slaps Back

Corporations Are Abusing anti-SLAPP Laws to Screw Over Workers

by Ted Rall - CounterPunch

August 17, 2016

It’s a sadly familiar sight in courthouses around the country: A deep-pocketed corporation, developer or government official files a lawsuit whose real purpose is to silence a critic, punish a whistleblower or win a commercial dispute.”

Sounds awful, right?

Fortunately, according to The Los Angeles Times editorial board,

“That’s why California enacted a law in 1992 to give people a preemptive legal strike against frivolous lawsuits that seek to muzzle them on public issues.” 

According to the Digital Media Law Project, 28 states, D.C., and one U.S. territory have enacted these so-called “anti-SLAPP statutes.” (SLAPP stands for “strategic lawsuit against public participation.” A classic example was when the cattle industry sued Oprah for dissing beef.)

At first glance, anti-SLAPP seems like a good solution to a serious problem.

In theory.

In the real world, however, well-meaning legislators have created a monster. In the hands of clever corporate lawyers, anti-SLAPP laws have become a loophole to libel laws and a catchall defense for disgusting behavior. What started as a good idea has become a menace to free speech, the ability to protect one’s reputation, and the right to redress in a court of law.

As I’ve discovered personally over the last year, California’s anti-SLAPP statute is at least as likely to be used by “a deep-pocketed corporation” against a “critic” as the way the legislature originally intended, which is to say the other way around.

In July 2015 The Los Angeles Times — yes, the same paper that published the above editorial — fired me as its staff editorial cartoonist. It has since come out that they did so as a favor to Charlie Beck, the $297,000-a-year chief of the Los Angeles Police Department. Beck’s feelings were hurt because of the cartoons that I drew about him.

The cops weren’t satisfied with merely having me fired. They wanted me destroyed. So the Times also published a pair of articles that falsely portrayed me as a liar and a fabulist — death to a journalist’s reputation.

So I sued the Times for wrongful termination, blacklisting, retaliation and defamation, as well as other claims.

Initially I had trouble finding a lawyer willing to represent me on the defamation claim. California’s anti-SLAPP statute, attorneys told me, have gutted the practice of defamation law in the Golden State. Fortunately for me, as several of the state’s leading experts on defamation law told me, Times management’s behavior was so outrageous, reprehensible and ongoing that I stood a better chance of getting over the anti-SLAPP hurdle than most plaintiffs.

As most of the attorneys I consulted had predicted, one of the first things that the Times did was file an anti-SLAPP motion against me. So much for anti-SLAPP being used against “a deep-pocketed corporation…whose real purpose is to silence a critic.” The Times is owned by Tronc (formerly Tribune Publishing), a $499 million mega-corporation. The Times paid me $300 a week.

Until that pretrial anti-SLAPP motion is decided, I can’t engage in “discovery,” the process of gathering information through subpoenas and depositions essential to forming a case. As Vikram David Amar writes,

“oftentimes a plaintiff who may have a valid claim will not be able to prevail because s/he will not have had enough of an opportunity to gather the evidence (through legal discovery devices like depositions and document requests) needed to prove the case.”

Because of anti-SLAPP, I must convince a judge that I am likely to prevail at an eventual trial — before the first juror has been chosen or any evidence has been discovered.

If the judge decides that I will probably lose my case, I will have to pay all of the Times’ legal fees. According to papers that the defendants filed, they expect that to amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The case would be dismissed. I would go bankrupt.

Even if I convince the judge that I’ll win, my tormentors at the Times then get a second shot at destroying my financial well-being: they can go to the Court of Appeals. By that time, of course, their legal bills will be even higher. And it’s not much of a stretch to imagine that those fees will be highly padded. Many judges take defendants at their word when it comes to the validity of legal invoices.

We’re not done.

I live in New York. As an out-of-state plaintiff, California Code 1030 provides a defendant the right to move that I be required to post a bond in order to guarantee the payment of the Times’ attorney fees should they prevail on their anti-SLAPP motion. “The Times will defend itself vigorously against Mr. Rall’s claims,” a Times spokesperson said when I sued. They sure are. They filed a motion asking the judge to require me to post a whopping $300,000 bond.

The judge knocked it down to $75,000. Unlike criminal bonds that can be purchased for 10%, however, this civil bond must be 100% collateralized. In other words, I have to come up with $75,000 in “pay to play” money by Thursday, August 18, or my case will automatically be dismissed.

And you thought this was a free country.

Happily, there are signs that anti-SLAPP madness is finally coming to an end. Setting an important precedent, Justice Vance Raye of the Third District Court of Appeal in Sacramento denied an anti-SLAPP motion filed by UC Davis against a former employee who claims she was fired for whistleblowing.

“The cure [anti-SLAPP] has become the disease,” wrote Raye. UC’s argument was,

“[A]t odds with the purpose of the anti-SLAPP law, which was designed to ferret out meritless lawsuits intended to quell the free exercise of First Amendment rights, not to burden victims of discrimination and retaliation with an earlier and heavier burden of proof than other civil litigants and dissuade the exercise of their right to petition for fear of an onerous attorney fee award.”

Raye’s ruling is a good start. But what’s needed is for the 28 state legislatures in anti-SLAPP states to reform the law.
Ted Rall, syndicated writer and the cartoonist for, is the author of the book “Snowden,” the biography of the NSA whistleblower.
More articles by:Ted Rall

Razing a Region to Save It: Obama's Disaster Doctrine

The Obama Doctrine is Ravaging the Middle East  - War to ‘Stop’ War: Libya’s ‘Operation Odyssey Lightning’

by Ramzy Baroud -

August 17, 2016

Everyone seems to have a theory on how to obliterate ISIS, or ‘Daesh’. However, two points are rarely raised: one, concerning the origins of the group and the second, on whether there are genuine intentions to defeat it, in the first place.

We must boldly address the first to unravel the enigma behind the rise and growth of ‘Daesh’ – otherwise, how else can the group be dismantled.

We must contend with the second point before engaging in superfluous discussions about the most appropriate war strategy - that if war is, at all, the answer.

The questions are quite urgent yet, somehow, they are frequently overlooked, glossed over through some disingenuous logic or the blame is always placed somewhere else.

Now that the Americans have launched yet another aerial war against Libya, purportedly to target ‘Daesh’ positions there, the discussion is being carefully geared towards how far the US must go to defeat the militant group?

In fact, “can airstrikes alone win a war without ‘boots on the ground’?” has morphed, somehow, to become the crux of the matter, which has engaged a large number of intellectuals on both sides of the debate.

US media gurus, split between two equally war-mongering parties, love to jump at such opportunities to discredit one another, as if waging wars in other countries is an exclusively local American affair.

Days are long gone when the US labored to establish coalitions to wage war, as it did in Kuwait and Iraq in 1990-91 and, to a lesser extent, again, in Iraq in 2003. Now, wars are carried out as a matter of course. Many Americans seen to be unware, or oblivious to the fact, that their country is actually fighting wars on several fronts, and is circuitously involved in others.

With multiple war fronts and conflicts fermenting all around, many are becoming desensitized. Americans particularly have, sadly, swallowed the serum of perpetual war, to the extent that they rarely mobilize in any serious way against it.

In other words, a state of war has become the status quo.

Although the US Administration of President Barack Obama has killed thousands, the majority of whom were civilians, there is no uproar nor mass protests. Aside from the fact that the Obama brand was fashioned to appear as the peaceable contrast to warmongering George W. Bush, there has been no serious change in US foreign policies in the Middle East in any way that could suggest that one president is ‘better’ than the other.

Obama has simply continued the legacy of his predecessor, unhindered. The primary change that has occurred is tactical: instead of resorting to massive troops’ buildup on the ground with an assignment to topple governments, Obama has used airstrikes to target whoever is perceived to be the enemy, while investing in whoever he deemed ‘moderate’ enough to finish the job.

Like Bush’s preemptive ‘war on terror’, Obama’s doctrine has been equally disastrous.

Obama’s wars were designed to produce little or no American casualties, since they were almost entirely conducted from the air and via unmanned drones operated by remote control, sometimes thousands of miles way. That approach proved less taxing, politically. However, it worsened the situation on the ground, and instead of ending war, it expanded it.

While Bush’s invasion of Iraq revived al-Qaeda and brought it to the heart of the region, Obama’s aerial wars forced al-Qaeda to regroup, employing a different strategy. It rebranded itself, from militant cells to a ‘state’, sought swift territorial expansion, used guerrilla warfare when facing an organized army or is bombed from the sky, and carried out suicide bombings throughout the world to break the morale of its enemies and to serve its propaganda efforts aimed at keeping the recruits coming.

Considering that enemies of ‘Daesh’ are themselves enemies of one another, the group is assured that its existence, at least for the foreseeable future, is tenable.

The truth is that ‘Daesh’ thrives on military intervention because it was born from previous military interventions. It is expanding because its enemies are not in unison, as each is serving agendas that are rarely concerned with ending war, but rather seeing war as an opportunity to realize political gains.

With this logic in mind, one cannot expect the US ‘Operation Odyssey Lightning’, which officially began on August 1 in Libya, to achieve any results that could end up in stabilizing the country.

How could such ‘stability’ be projected, if it were not the US and other NATO members’ war on Libya in 2011 that has largely dismembered a once rich and relatively stable Arab country? Indeed, it was the vacuum left by subsequent conflicts that invited ‘Daesh’ to Sirte and other areas. Now, the US - and other western powers, led by the French – are applying unwinnable war tactics to stave off a messy crisis they had created themselves when they waged an earlier war.

Even if ‘Daesh’ is driven out of Sirte, it will find some other unstable environment elsewhere where it will spawn and wreak havoc. Sirte, in turn, will, likely, fall back into a state of bedlam where various militias, many of whom were armed by NATO in the first place, turn their guns against each other.

Without a whole new approach to the problem, the conflicts will certainly keep multiplying.

According to, which keeps track of the war on ‘Daesh’, 14,405 coalition airstrikes against the group have been carried out in Iraq and Syria through 735 days of a relentless campaign. An estimated 52,300 bombs and missiles were dropped, although the number must be much higher, since there are numerous strikes that are never claimed by any party, thus are not officially recorded, as such.

This, of course, does not take into account Russia’s own aerial bombardment, or any party that is not officially part of the Western coalition.

But what good did this do, aside from killing many civilians, destroying massive infrastructure and spreading ‘Daesh’ further into the abyss of other vulnerable Middle East and North African spots?

There are few voices in the US media and government that seem serious about changing the perspective completely on the Bush-Obama war on terror. Sensible calls by the likes of Jill Stein, the Green Party candidate for President, that the root causes of terror must be addressed to end terrorism, rarely register in the halls of US government and Congress.

In January, the cost of the war on ‘Daesh’, as estimated by US Defense Department data has jumped by $2 million dollars a day to a total of $11 million. “The air war has cost the US about $5.5 billion total since it began in August 2014,” Business Insider reported. The escalation in Libya is likely to produce new, more staggering numbers soon.

Expectedly, this is a great time for business for those who benefit from war. Concurrently, the cycle of war and violence is feeding on itself with no end in sight.

“Hope in aerial bombardment as the prophylactic for peace is absurd,” Vijay Prashad, Professor of International Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, wrote recently about the futility of airstrike wars.

“It has given us instability and chaos. Other roads have to be opened. Other paths ceded.”

I couldn’t agree more.

Dr Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include “Searching Jenin”, “The Second Palestinian Intifada” and his latest “My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story”. His website is

Syria Narrative Inversion

Henry Lowendorf: What We Saw in Syria Goes Against Everything We Read in the United States

by Mark Taliano - AHT

August 16, 2016

Patterns have long since emerged. We know that each illegal war of conquest is prefaced by a Public Relations campaign that demonizes the target country’s leader and its government as it lies about on-the-ground realities. Muammar Gaddafi, for example, was presented to Western media consumers as a lunatic and despot. The Western narratives, however, were contradicted by the fact that he earned broad-based support from Libyans, all of whom enjoyed public services such as free healthcare and schooling, and a high standard of living.

The same demonization campaign is being waged against the hugely popular Dr. Bashar al-Assad, the democratically –elected President of Syria.

Terrorist –embedded propagandists teach us that he is an evil dictator who kills his own people, and that “he must go”; however, credible evidence inverts this logic.

Henry Lowendorf, a member of the Executive Board of the U.S Peace Council’s Peace and Fact-Finding Delegation to Syria -- recently returned from Syria -- reports, that, “What we saw (in Syria) goes against everything we read in the United States.”

He repudiates the Western media’s demonization campaign against the government of President Assad and the Syrian Arab Army in these words:

“When you go to Syria, which I did last month, the popularity of the government and the Syrian Arab Army is rampant. It's not out of some dream fantasy. It comes obviously from the government and the army being the only thing between living a secular life on the one hand and the hatred and violence of ISIS and the various other terrorist groups underwritten by the terrorist Saudis and US and their allies on the other. The refugees who don't leave Syria do not flee to the terrorist side, they flee to the government side, in huge numbers. So would all of us in similar circumstances. Syrians do not want their country turned into Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Sudan, Somalia, or any of the other countries the US has liberated.”

The reality is an inversion of the propaganda lies fed to Western audiences. In fact, President Assad must stay, for the sake of civilization, and for the sake of destroying Western-backed terrorism. Each time Empire succeeds in destroying another country, the problem of terrorism worsens – as might be expected. The destruction of Libya, for example, set the stage for the attempted destruction of Syria.

Weapons stolen from Libyan armouries, thanks to the invasion, were covertly shipped to Syria – all beneath the radar of the U.S Congress.

A recently declassified Department of Defense document indicates that,

“Weapons from the former Libya military stockpiles were shipped from the Port of Benghazi, Libya, to the Port of Banias and the Port of Borj Islam, Syria”

And none of this is accidental. Sustainable Western open-source documentation demonstrates that the growth of terrorism is willful, and according to Western plans. 

The propaganda lies, the false flags, the terrorist-embedded NGOs , and the use of terrorist proxies to criminally destroy one country after another, is not only empowering terrorism world-wide, but it is also leading us to engineered conflict with nuclear-armed countries, in particular, Russia.

Whereas the propaganda lies further the causes of barbarity and ignorance, we need a redirection towards the polar opposite: towards trajectories that support civilization, progress, and the rule of law.

Prof. Chossudovsky explains in “America’s ‘Humanitarian War’ against the World” that

“What is consequently required is a massive redirection of science and technology towards the pursuit of broad societal objectives. In turn, this requires a major shift in what is euphemistically called ‘US Foreign Policy’, namely America’s global military agenda.”

We need to shift from Death Industries of the Military Industrial Complex, to Life Industries that serve, rather than destroy, humanity. We also need a strong anti-war movement based on a broad-based support of the truth, and a broad-based rejection of the “governing” lies.

*The declassified Department of Defense documents:


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Ingmar Lee, Ted Rall, Janine Bandcroft August 17, 2016

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

August 17, 2016

Last March, the American-flagged tug, Ocean Eagle ran aground near Campbell River. The single-hulled barge it towed too came to grief, with its cargo - including more than 80,000 gallons of diesel and other, unspecified toxic materials - threatening the waters off Chatham Point. More dangerous to the marine environment than this near calamity though is the woefully inadequate response apparatus in place to deal with the increasing number of grounding incidents in and around the Salish Sea.

Ingmar Lee is a long-time, BC-based environment defender, some of whose many Herculean efforts to protect both the wild lands and coastal ecosystem have been chronicled here at Gorilla Radio over the past decade and a half.

Listen. Hear.

Among those efforts is the creation of the Facebook site, 10,000 Ton Tanker to track, and hopefully cease, the regular passage of pusher-tug, Nathan E Stewart and its 10,000-ton capacity tanker-barges through BC waters. Ingmar filed Freedom Of Information requests on the Ocean Eagle tug incident, and nearly five months later, has received some information of interest.

Ingmar Lee in the first half.

And; almost as old as the Silver Screen itself is the "gritty reporter takes on corruption" plot line; but, like a lot in Hollywood, the Real World tells a different story. Ted Rall knows it too well. The LA Times syndicated political cartoonist nosed too close to the ugly truth in Tinsel Town, getting himself in a jam with the local boys in blue. And, just when he needed his bosses at the Times to cover his back most they turned Judas, throwing him to the wolves instead.

Ted Rall is a Pulitzer Prize-finalist, journalist, prolific graphic artist and author whose books include: ‘After We Kill You, We Will Welcome You As Honored Guests: Unembedded in Afghanistan,’ ‘To Afghanistan and Back: A Graphic Travelogue,’ ‘The Book of Obama: From Hope and Change to the Age of Revolt,’ ‘Snowden,’ and his latest, 'Trump: A Graphic Biography.'

Ted Rall getting out of step with the LA Times in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us newz of good things planned for the streetz of our town in the coming week - and beyond there too. But first, Ingmar Lee getting the file on the Ocean Eagle's rough landing.
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Reflecting on Eight Years of Popular Resistance in Palestine

Eight Years

by Mazin Qumsiyeh - Popular Resistance

August 16, 2016

It has been 8 years since I moved back from the USA to occupied Palestine and it may be worth a brief reflection.

I accomplished much since then (of course I am surrounded by good people starting with my wife and immediate family members to students and volunteers who believed in what we were doing and to hundreds of supporters around the world).

Briefly, under difficult circumstances in 2008-2016, I (with support)

1- Published many scientific research articles including critical ones on environment and genetics

2- Wrote books (one published in 2012 on Popular Resistance in Palestine and two on the way)

3- Founded and directed a clinical cytogenetics laboratory

4- Mentored dozens of graduate and undergraduate students

5- Taught over 8 different courses ranging from molecular biology to anthropology to biodiversity at four colleges and universities

6- Founded and directed the Palestine Museum (PMNH) of Natural History and Institute of Biodiversity and Sustainability (PIBS) including its nascent botanical garden.

7- Traveled throughout occupied Palestine and collected over 8000 specimens and over 10,000 photos that are a basis of current and future research

8- Traveled and represented Palestine in over 20 countries

9- Wrote over 200 articles on issues ranging from popular resistance to the one state solution to BDS.

10- Spoke to over 5000 visiting internationals about the situation

11- Spoke to thousands of locals on issues ranging from environment to human rights

12- Created jobs and helped some students manage their financial burden with some scholarships and work-study programs

13- Organized dozens of workshops that built human capacity

14- Built working relationships with dozens of local and international groups

15- Performed a number of consultancies to local and international agencies that made a direct impact on course of human development and the environment

16- Read over 500 books and hundreds of articles that helped me change and grow as an individual

17- Built friendships with hundreds (and met thousands)

18- Challenged oppression wherever it was found (via demonstrations, media work, etc) and got arrested a few times and questioned by intelligence services of three countries ;-)

All of this was done while struggling against not just Israeli occupation with its repression (e.g. inability to import things normally, lack of freedom of movement) but some Palestinian societal backward culture including nepotism, patriarchy, bureaucracy, and corruption. We were learning as we go how to deal with people (including the “mental occupation”).

We gave chances to some who abused them and some who benefited from the chances to improve themselves and serve Palestine. But what sustained me/us was good honest people who I met and worked with everywhere. Hundreds of individuals like you on this list who helped us in so many ways by donations, volunteerism, actions, and other kinds of support.

Of course what we have done is miniscule compared to what needs to be done. And there are many millions of candles in this darkness. We are humble enough to realize that we can only continue to achieve with collective work towards a peaceful., just, and SUSTAINABLE world.

Staying in the US would have been much less demanding on my physical and psychological health (and with a six figure income would have been financially “logical”). And there was lots of activities we were doing in the US for Palestine, for global peace, and for the environment.

Much remains to be done within the US as it continues to be the country that is in the words of Martin Luther King Jr "the biggest purveyor of violence". It certainly is the most enabling and the major sponsor of apartheid Israel and the endless wars in neighboring countries (conflicts thought to serve Israeli interests). Without the US support “Israel” would fold in two weeks and would have to become a democratic country for all its people and allow the Palestinian refugees to return.

However and having said all of that, the decision to return to Palestine was the best decision I made in my life and this feeling grows stronger every day. The most important accomplishment I feel will last generations is my mentoring of young people. I would like to spend more time with young people (this is part of the reason we built PMNH/PIBS) and work harder at helping people help themselves. As I look forward with optimism to the next eight years here (If I live that long), I want to sincerely thank all of you who contributed and continue to contribute your time and energy.

END OF REFLECTION. Now for other good news

The Evangelical Lutheran Church of America voted overwhelmingly in the annual convention to set up a screen and not invest in any company that profits from Israel's occupation. They also called to end US unconditioonal aid to Israel. The Green party of the US developed a great latform on the question of Palestine (see below) that is based on human rights and justice. Social media are abuzz after the disastrous choice of Clinton and Trump to be nominees of the "democratic" and "republican" parties. Many argue that this continuing deterioration was a predictable outcome of the permission of lobbies (like the Zionist lobby to shape elections) and/or an expected outcome of several elections where people vote for the lesser of two evils rather than vote their conscience.

Following the diminishing water supply to Palestinians in the West Bank and the severe water shortage and pollution in the Gaza Strip, a light installation was held simultaneously in eight locations: Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Boston, New York, Houston, Johannesburg, Melbourne and Perth, Australia. In an illuminating display of lights reflected in water, activists from four continents stood near lakes and beaches creating the message “WATER IS A RIGHT” in various languages.

Green Party Statement on The Palestinian-Israeli Conflict

Our Green values oblige us to support popular movements for peace and demilitarization in Israel-Palestine, especially those that reach across the lines of conflict to engage both Palestinians and Israelis of good will.

We reaffirm the right of self-determination for both Palestinians and Israelis, which precludes the self-determination of one at the expense of the other. We recognize the historical and contemporary cultural diversity of Israeli-Palestinian society, including the religious heritage of Jews, Christians, Muslims and others. This is a significant part of the rich cultural legacy of all these peoples and it must be respected. To ensure this, we support equality before international law rather than appeals to religious faith as the fair basis on which claims to the land of Palestine-Israel are resolved.

We recognize that Jewish insecurity and fear of non-Jews is understandable in light of Jewish history of horrific oppression in Europe. However, we oppose as both discriminatory and ultimately self-defeating the position that Jews would be fundamentally threatened by the implementation of full rights to Palestinian-Israelis and Palestinian refugees who wish to return to their homes. As U.S. Greens, we refuse to impose our views on the people of the region. Still, we would turn the U.S. government towards a new policy, which itself recognizes the equality, humanity, and civil rights of Jews, Muslims, Christians, and all others who live in the region, and which seeks to build confidence in prospects for secular democracy.

We reaffirm the right and feasibility of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes in Israel. We acknowledge the significant challenges of equity and restitution this policy would encounter and call on the U.S. government to make resolution of these challenges a central goal of our diplomacy in the region.

We reject U.S. unbalanced financial and military support of Israel while Israel occupies Palestinian lands and maintains an apartheid-like system in both the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.

Therefore, we call on the U.S. President and Congress to suspend all military and foreign aid, including loans and grants, to Israel until Israel withdraws from the Occupied Territories, dismantles the separation wall in the Occupied West Bank including East Jerusalem, ends its siege of Gaza and its apartheid-like system both within the Occupied Palestinian Territories and in Israel toward its non-Jewish citizens.

We also reject U.S. political support for Israel and demand that the U.S. government end its veto of Security Council resolutions pertaining to Israel. We urge our government to join with the U.N. to secure Israel's complete withdrawal to the 1967 boundaries and its compliance with international law.

We support a much stronger and supportive U.S. position with respect to all United Nations, European Union, and Arab League initiatives that seek a negotiated peace. We call for an immediate U.N.-sponsored, multinational peacekeeping and protection force in the Palestinian territories with the mandate to initiate a conflict-resolution commission.

We call on the foreign and military affairs committees of the U.S. House and Senate to conduct full hearings on the status of human rights and war crimes in Palestine-Israel, especially violations committed during Israel's 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza ("Operation Cast Lead") as documented in the 2009 "UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict"("The Goldstone Report") authorized by the UN Commission on Human Rights.

We recognize that despite decades of continuous diplomatic attempts by the international community, it has failed to bring about Israel's compliance with international law or respect for basic Palestinian human rights; and that, despite abundant condemnation of Israel's policies by the UN, International Court of Justice, and all relevant international conventions, the international community of nations has failed to stop Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights in Israel and the OPT, while Israeli crimes continue with impunity.

We recall that ending institutionalized racism (apartheid) in South Africa demanded an unusual, cooperative action by the entire international community in the form of a boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaign against apartheid South Africa, and that BDS can become the most effective nonviolent means for achieving justice and genuine peace between Palestinians and Israelis, and for the region, through concerted international pressure as applied to apartheid South Africa; and that Palestinian resistance to ongoing dispossession has mainly been nonviolent, including its most basic form—remaining in their homes, on their land; and that while Palestinian armed resistance is legitimate under international law when directed at non-civilian targets, we believe that only nonviolent resistance will maintain the humanity of Palestinian society, elicit the greatest solidarity from others, and maximize the chance for future reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

However, we also recognize that our appeal to Palestinians to continue to resist nonviolently in the face of ongoing existential threats from Israel is hypocritical unless accompanied by substantial acts of international support.

We recall that in 2005, Palestinian Civil Society appealed to the international community to support a BDS campaign against Israel, and that in response the Green Party of the US endorsed this BDS campaign in 2005.

Therefore, we support the implementation of boycott and divestment initiatives against Israel similar to those applied to South Africa in the apartheid era, which includes pressuring our government to impose embargoes and sanctions against Israel; and we support maintaining these nonviolent punitive measures until Israel meets its obligation to recognize the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination and fully complies with the precepts of international law by

  • Ending its occupation and colonization of all Palestinian lands and dismantling the Wall in the West Bank
  • Recognizing the fundamental rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  • Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

We recognize that international opinion has been committed to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Yet, we view the two-state solution as neither democratic nor viable in the face of international law, material conditions and "facts on the ground" that now exist in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Given this reality, we support a U.S. foreign policy that promotes the creation of one secular, democratic state for Palestinians and Israelis on the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan as the national home of both peoples, with Jerusalem as its capital. We encourage a new U.S. diplomatic initiative to begin the long process of negotiation, laying the groundwork for such a single-state constitution.

We recognize that such a state might take many forms and that the eventual model chosen must be decided by the peoples themselves. We also acknowledge the enormous hostilities that now exist between the two peoples, but history tells us that these are not insurmountable among people genuinely seeking peace.

As an integral part of peace negotiations and the transition to peaceful democracy, we call for the establishment of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission whose inaugurating action would be mutual acknowledgement by Israelis and Palestinians that they have the same basic rights, including the right to exist in the same, secure place.