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    Ashton Carter: No Word of Peace

              Alice Slater, New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, breaks down Obama’s pick for the next Secretary of Defense (head of the U.S military), Ashton Carter.  She scratches the surface of this man’s past genuflections toward the weapons and defense industry.   The Senate approved his nomination 93 – 5, which demonstrates the obsequious, acquiescent, complacent, and no-questions-asked nature of the military-industrial-Congressional-complex.  Previously serving as the Pentagon’s chief arms buyer, Carter has advocated preemptively bombing North Korea, arming the Ukrainian government, and opposes shutting down Guantanamo Bay.  He has made tens of thousands of dollars from advocating war, pushes nuclear weapons production, and has consulted for defense corporations time and time again. Due to previous conflicts of interest, Cater required an ethics wavier to join the pro-war Obama administration.




             There is no word of peace from this man.  Please, for the love God, do not vote for any major party in the 2016 U.S National Elections. 

    Image from:


    The State of the Union Address vs. Helena Norberg-Hodge, the Importance of Localization, and the Death of the Techno-Economic Juggernaut

    As for the developed countries from which this corrupting ethos of progress goes out: more and more their “growthmania” distorts their environments and robs the world of its nonrenewable resources for no better end than to increase the output of ballistic missiles, electric hairdryers, and eight-track stereophonic tape recorders.  But in the statistics of the economic index such mad waste measures out as “productivity,” and all looks rosy.

                                                                                                                                    -E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful


    During the State of Union address last week, President Barack Obama insinuated that Congress should grant him Fast Track authority (trade promotion authority that cannot be blocked by Congress) to make real the embryonic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TPP) without directly referring to this nascent legislative monstrosity by name.  He promised that, unlike previous trade agreements (such as NAFTA), the TPP would lead to domestic job creation, boost worker protections, and help the United States maintain its economic lead over China.  Obama was speaking to a vegetated Congress comprised largely of sluggish old white men, and upon hearing a reference to a trade deal the pyschostimulants in what is left of their brains kicked-in and they went wild. 

    At a time when we should be talking about devising and supporting policies and practices to safeguard the natural world and restore the health of the global forests and seas, the corporate-backed government of the United States, in pushing forward the TPP, is talking about propping-up and perpetuating a money-driven, consumption-obsessed, and self-destructive economic system which sees the all the earth as fecund land that is to be transformed or exploited for private profit and the oceans as expansive aquatic interstates upon which to transport plastics and electronic goods to market. 

    In times such as these, it would behoove us to turn away from the opportunistic talking heads that care little about the health of the planet and those that reside upon it, and listen to those people who have for decades advocated a system of economics which respects and supports life.  One such person is Swedish-born author and activist Helena Norberg-Hodge, and here is video footage, accompanied by excerpt highlights, of her Economics of Happiness Speech at the International Forum on Globalization’s October 2014 conference, Techno-Utopianism and the Fate of the Earth:


            I really believe that we need a global movement to deal with a global problem, which is the global economy. 

            We really are now talking about the ninety-nine percent waking up to the immense suffering that is being imposed on them by a blind, giant, techno-economic system.  It’s a juggernaut that we should best understand as a machine that is being pushed by less than one-percent of the global population, pushed, actively pushed…far less than one-percent of the global population because, in increasing the scale of this techno-economic juggernaut, what we’re talking about is the trade treaties that we have been trying to raise awareness about in the IFG.  These trade treaties are the…is the arena where governments are sitting around the table lobbied by big banks and big corporations to give those giant global businesses more freedom.  Free trade is freedom for the giants to move in and now of local, regional, national spaces and economies.   The latest incarnation of this, the TTIP, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership – sounds very friendly – is going to further this situation where corporations can sue governments if they dare to protect the environment or their citizens against the rape and pillage that is happening in the name of free trade…
    Bucket Wheel Excavator.  Image from

    We need to distinguish between collaboration to protect Mother Earth and to protect society, and collaboration to increase the scale of economic activity.  And as we increase the scale of economic activity, we’re talking about increasing the scale of the players, the giants that are merging – Exxon Mobile; it’s not enough to be a giant multinational, to surivive within the globalizing rat race, you have to keep on getting bigger and bigger and bigger – and what we have, as I say, is a system that we should understand as a sort of machine, an empire in the sky that is, it is a tsunami that is about to hit in a much, much more dramatic way than we’ve experienced…
    US Army Celebrating its 230th Birthday at the NYSE

                So localizing, as a systematic shift away from this madness, needs the big picture activism to make all those narrow constituencies – all of them very important in value – but to link together, to see that this escalation in the global path above all is a massive increase in energy consumption every step of the way.  Globalizing the economy means the distances are growing by the minute.  We have countries importing and exporting the same food.  Last time we looked the U.S was exporting 900,000 tons of beef and veal while importing, guess what, about 900,000 tons of beef and veal.  The U.K exports roughly as much milk and butter as it imports.  And regularly you will have fish flown across the world, apparently tuna here form the east coast will be flown to Japan to be weighed before it comes back to the sushi bars here.  Shrimp are flown from the UK to Thailand to be peeled, flown back again.  Apples flown to South Africa to be washed and waxed, flown back again.  When we talk about CO2 emissions, let’s link it to corporate-rule and a systematic escalation in CO2 emissions.  Let’s really get away from an Al Gore framing which told you, “go home and change your light bulb to something rather toxic, don’t drive your car, don’t travel.”  In the meanwhile the purveyors of the global narrative are traveling faster and more than ever…

                As I say, localizing, for me and for an increasing number of people, is the clear, opposite matrix to the continuing global monoculture corporate machine.  Localizing is not about just acting local, it’s not about buying local.  If I say to people, “buy local food, only eat local,” in many parts of the world they’ll be eating cotton or coffee.  We’re talking about working to build up the localized structures that not only allow for but that nurture diversified small-scale food production.  As Vandana pointed out, that is the only way to feed the world.  It is far more productive in every sense of the word...

                …the dominant global market which will fly in and deliver things from 10,000 miles away, costing less than local products.  One of the many bits of information we need to look at in our big picture activism is how can it be that food – which is fresh and needs to be fresh, is perishable – how can something from 10,000 miles away be deliver in your local market costing less than a fresh local apple or banana from only a mile away – that what’s happening.  Because, we have not been told by either left or right that we are subsidizing the long distances.  By subsidizing the long distances, by subsidizing export-import, we are subsidizing these giant corporations.  We want to shift those subsidies and with that, we want to shift the regulation that de-regulate the global while over-regulating the local. 


    A Word on France: Charlie Hebdo and Jeremy Scahill

    Man is certainly stark mad; he cannot make a worm, and yet he will be making gods by dozens.


    The Duel After the Masquerade, Jean-Léon Gérôme

           As most of Paris mourns and some take reprisal actions against the general Muslim community who had nothing to do with last Wednesday’s Charlie Hebdo attacks, it’s important to take a step back and consider events in a broader historical, geographic, and demographic perspective.  It is worth noting that the number of people killed in Paris is substantially less than those killed in less stable and affluent areas of the world around the same time last week.  On the same day as the Paris killings, upwards of thirty people were killed at an attack on a police academy in Yemen.  Also last week, Boko Haram militants carried out an attack in Baga, Nigeria which killed hundreds, possibly 2,000 people.  Over the weekend, the United States carried-out over thirty airstrikes in Iraq and Syria, where a purported fifty civilian prisoners have been killed in an airstrike which took place on December, 28th.  

            In response to the attacks, thousands of French military forces have been dispatched to watch over what can already be classified as a surveillance-state.  There is no question that, just like the US and UK, civil liberties and privacy rights will be rolled back in France.  Western military forces will increase drone strikes in the Middle-East and deprived individuals inspired by the Paris attacks and embittered by the drone strikes will opt to become martyrs.  The cycle of revenge killings, revenge drone strikes, and Islamophobia shall continue until sensible people take control of the governments and militaries of the western world.  As Jeremy Sachill points out, it is almost laughable that the leaders of certain western states that have prosecuted whistleblowers and killed journalists partook in the French unity march in defense of freedom of speech.  The heads of state from Israel, Egypt, Gabon, the UK – countries which have all targeted journalists – participated in the march. 

            Despite all the fear-mongering broadcast throughout mainstream media, the death rattle has yet to manifest.  In 2012, murder rates in France were at their lowest (430 murders) in history, which is progress for a country which, like most others, has emerged from an extremely bloody past.  I have a feeling that just as we do not hear too much about ISIS and Ebola right now (Until those items made headlines, I thought Ebola was a country and that ISIS was an ice cream sandwich), mainstream media will soon turn our attention elsewhere.  Yet regardless of where the spotlight falls, it will involve a group of people who will be portrayed as non-people.  They will show us these people and say, “Look at these animals, you must fear them, you must hate them.”  There is too much hatred in the world right now, and it must be rejected. 

    In a Democracy Now interview yesterday, Jeremy Scahill provides an excellent answer in response to a question raised by freedom-fighter extraordinaire, Amy Goodman:

    AMY GOODMAN: How do they prepare for future attacks?

    JEREMY SCAHILL: Well, I mean, the discussion you would hear on big corporate television about that is going to be about how do we defend our society, how do we integrate these networks, how do we do surveillance on these people. You know, this is probably going to be an unpopular thing to say, but I’ll say it because I believe it: The only way I think we’re ever going to effectively be able to confront this kind of terrorism is to take away the justification or the motivation of people who are not already sort of committed radical individuals who believe that what they’re doing is justified and they’re not afraid to die.

    You know, this is probably going to be an unpopular thing to say, but I’ll say it because I believe it: The only way I think we’re ever going to effectively be able to confront this kind of terrorism is to take away the justification or the motivation of people who are not already sort of committed radical individuals who believe that what they’re doing is justified and they’re not afraid to die.

    You know, the Taliban fighters always say, you know, "We love death as much as you love life." But a lot of these people who do these attacks, something happened in their life somewhere—similar to what happens with school shootings here, you know, what happened at Columbine. I liken a lot of these guys to people who go through some kind of period where they’re lost in life, and then they’re falling. Who catches you when you fall? A lot of times in a society that’s been decimated, a religion that’s been humiliated, people are looking for some kind of greater meaning, and there are a lot of people willing to take advantage of them.

    But in a broader sense, what we’ve done since 9/11, and actually going back well before 9/11, with the unquestioning support for Israel, with the drone bombing campaigns, with the invasions and occupations of countries, with the torture of prisoners around the world, we have projected a message that we are at war with a religion. When Rupert Murdoch, the most powerful media figure in the world, goes on Twitter and uses the word "Moslem," but says that basically all Muslims are to blame for this until they stop it, that’s not lost on people around the world. And Bush used the word "crusade" in the early stages of the post-9/11 aftermath. So, I’m not saying that any of this is justified as a result of U.S. policy. But if we really want to confront this, we have to understand our own role in legitimizing it.



    Veterans Day and the Last Day on Earth

           On the eve of Veterans Day, President Obama announced that he will send another 1,500 Americans troops to Iraq to advise the Iraqi military on how to fight militants in a civil war. 

             While not seeking Congressional approval for the troop surge, the White House intends to request $5.6 billion for this latest military campaign, the end of which is nowhere in sight.  This at a time when the cost of the decade-long war in Iraq has exceeded $2 trillion ($6,250 for each American citizen), which makes it one of the most expensive clusterfucks in modern history.  Yet war spells profit for numerous weapons manufacturers (roughly half of all the weapons in the world are sold by the United States), military contractors, and oil companies, all of which have joined hands with the mainstream media to churn out war propaganda and lies while funding the election campaigns of unscrupulous politicians whom later vote to re-direct taxpayer dollars to their corporate sponsors.  Mainstream media highlights the horrors of the enemy (who is often a former ally) and showcases U.S military successes, yet kept hidden from the television audience are the bodies of the tens of thousands innocent civilians killed by American bombs and by the military of the puppet government installed in Iraq.  We hear about the crimes of ISIS, but hear very little of the Hell on Earth that the U.S occupation has created for countless Iraqi families whom the $5.6 billion dollars could serve to assist if spent on medical aid, food, shelter, and programs of social uplift.  We hear nothing of the environmental destruction that modern warfare has brought upon the Iraqi ecosystems of deserts and alluvial plains, where rivers and marshlands lay devastated by the formidable munitions exploded by the U.S Department of Defense (formerly called the Department of War), which is largest contributor of pollution on Earth.  We also hear nothing of the U.S veteran suicide rates; amounting to at least 8,000 a year, this figure translates into twenty-two veterans killing themselves every day. 

            Some important questions we should be asking ourselves include:  How did this happen?  When will it end?  What is the solution?  And what does the current state of affairs say about humanity and the direction we’re headed?  Steven Pinker makes a good point in The Better Angels of our Nature, pointing out that in terms of a percentage of human population over time, the rate of violent deaths has declined and societies have become largely pacified since the rise of civilization.  Indeed, deaths from armed conflicts are down significantly from previous decades, especially when compared to the WWII and Cold War eras.  But this current deviation from global warfare doesn’t necessarily mean that we’re on the right track.  If you factor in the realities that humans cannot seem to curb their propensity toward violence and continue to build and stockpile nuclear arms despite the existence of international diplomatic forums and technologies which allows us to communicate instantaneously and take airplane flights halfway across the world in a matter of hours to either visit other people or bomb them – and in the latter scenario we sometimes end up knowingly killing little boys and girls – then something is drastically wrong.  These realities compounded with others such as human racism, religious bigotry, and an insatiable appetite for limited natural resources on a planet that may be experiencing a “sixth extinction” makes some of us wonder what the future holds. 

            Historically, our species, born of the same blood, has surmounted extremely challenging obstacles, such as transitioning away from ancient deistic and animistic religious hierarchies (i.e Egyptian pharaohs or Aztec god kings) and overthrowing monarchical tyrannies (i.e the French and American Revolutions), we’ve emerged from the Dark Ages into a period of enlightenment, stamped-out diseases and slave trades, and have recovered from myriad wars, including two massive ones in the past century.  So the question remains, as Aeschylus put it 2,500 years ago, can we “tame the savageness of man and make gentle the life of this world?”  And if not, shall humanity validate this prediction of Einstein: “I know not with what weapons World War III will be fought, but World War IV will be fought with sticks and stones.”   Will we relapse into barbarism and attack each other like primitive tribesmen, only this time with the aid of hydrogen bombs, so as to deny all posterity – those would-be and yet unborn humans incubating in the invisible womb of time – a chance to improve this world and experience the rare and beautiful things that have filled countless lives with some sense of meaning and awe? 

           There will arrive a day which shall be the last for humans on Earth, a day when a person breathes humanity’s final dying breath or leaves this planet for the last time, and never again will our species bear witness to and experience the wonders of nature and miracle of existence in this particular world.  The arrival time of this day and the manner in which it manifests is dependent upon the actions of those alive today.  We can either speed it up or postpone it.  We may either bow out gracefully or go down with our hands wrapped around each others necks.  Ultimately, I’m not sure how much it even matters, but nevertheless, fifteen year-old Anne Frank makes good point: “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” 

    Calvin and Hobbes, scanned from the current (and last printed) issue of The War Crimes Times, a publication of Veterans for Peace.


    The Rise of the Barbarians and Why the United States Has Lost All Credibility

              Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

                                                                                                                                             -Hermann Goering

              The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.

                                                                                                                                              -John F. Kennedy


    Monday, September 15, 2014

              While much of the western world was sleeping, the United States escalated its airstrike campaign against ISIS targets in Iraq, in a theater of operations that may expand into Syria.  In an ostensible justification for the intensification, President Barack Obama went prime-time last week and labeled ISIS militants as “terrorists…unique in their brutality.  They execute captured prisoners.  They kill children. They enslave, rape, and force women into marriage.”  Obama went on to evoke the beheadings of two American journalists to emphasize the brutality of ISIS, thus reinforcing the rationalization for a renewed bombing campaign.  In truth, both ISIS and the United States are guilty of serious war crimes and egregious human rights violations, the difference being that the United States government and military usually get away with murder. 

              Since the beginning of the 2003 Iraq War, the United States has humiliated, tortured, and killed numerous Iraqi prisoners of war in Abu Ghraib, a former prison of the Saddam Hussein regime.  In its frenzied foreign military campaigns throughout the Middle East, the U.S has murdered thousands of innocent mothers and fathers, destitute villagers and nomads, little girls and boys and newborn babies. Extrajudicial airstrikes have destroyed homes, weddings, buses, and killed foreign journalists and American citizens.  U.S government security contractors have committed large-scale massacres of Iraqi civilians.  U.S military soldiers have raped teenage girls, covered-up civilian deaths, and thrown puppies off cliffs.  In Afghanistan, they’ve desecrated the bodies of the slain by urinating on their corpses and collecting their fingers as war trophies.  Through the practice known as extraordinary rendition, the U.S has abducted and transferred an unknown number of persons to secret prisons across the world and continues to hold nearly 150 untried detainees in Guantanamo Bay.  The list of recent transgressions goes on and on – from the use of depleted uranium munitions to endless cruise missile and drone strikes on civilian populations, we have created a living hell for millions of innocent families that have lost loved-ones and fled their homes. The sad truth is that our corporate-sponsored politicians and pundits utilize a hypocritical, arrogant, and selective logic when justifying further aggression in response to the “acts of barbarism.” 

              The United States government has cloaked its immorality in executive orders and cryptic laws.  Under the guise of humanitarianism, the white-collared barbarians of high-technology conduct airstrikes with 1.5 million dollar cruise missiles launched from state-of-the-art fighter jets and multi-billion dollar aircraft carriers.  Using expensive weapons, the U.S military prefers to slaughter from above, away from the cameras.  (As for beheadings, the U.S usually leaves that to its allies such as Saudi Arabia, or its pawns such as the Free Syrian Army, whom the CIA is funding now just as they have funded al-Qaeda in the past.)  We have granted ourselves the legitimacy to commit these crimes by citing bureaucratic mandates spawned from corrupt political systems.  Along with our NATO allies, we have hosted decadent conventions in France and England in effort to prove that support for ISIS airstrikes is broad even if it includes the undemocratic regimes of Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, and Turkey – states whose support has been bought through billions of dollars of military aid.  The result is a cadre of wealthy officials – who usually have political and financial interests in perpetuating war, and whom often have ties to media corporations that have invested interests in weapons sales – assuming the moral highground and using humanitarianism as an excuse to exact their own form of barbarism (in which murder is called collateral damage) for the unstated objectives of establishing a western caliphate comprised of embassies and military bases that subjugate the people in the Middle East, props-up dictators and puppet governments, and assures access to their oil and rare earth minerals.

          Those who beat the drums of war are consistently manipulative.  Americans and others are never presented with sound, peaceful, or diplomatic options, only ultimatums:  you are either with us or against us, we either fight them there or we fight them here, we either go to war or let the terrorists win.  We claim that our reasons for launching attacks are noble, but it is no secret that the history of United States Empire is soaked in the blood of innocent masses and based on a foundation of hypocrisy and lies.  The wholesale slaughter of Native Americans and the enslavement of millions of Africans set the stage for the evolution of a nation that would become the only one to drop a nuclear bomb on other people; a nation which helped to overthrow numerous elected-governments throughout the Cold War and conducted secret bombing campaigns across the world.  At home, Americans must contend with the possibility that internal forces within their government may have facilitated the assassinations of Martin Luther King and John F. Kennedy.  As our politicians and government officials claim to fight for freedom, they line their pockets with corporate donations, they transfer billions of dollars of military weapons to local police forces, they have been caught unlawfully spying on millions of Americans, and they do virtually nothing when it comes to addressing the social maladies of poverty, immigration, and the prison industrial complex, nor tackling the great environmental challenges that lie ahead.  

              As the United States continues to embark down a dark path of violence and war, which is one the greatest causes of human and environmental destruction in history, there seems to be little Americans can do to change the course of our nation’s future.  So day to day, many of us remain immersed in a pattern of addressing our personal matters and enjoying our lives, which is fine.  Yet for those of us with the luxury of free time, it is becoming increasingly important to discard those habits which diminish our intelligence, health, and connection with the natural world.  If we turn a blind eye to problems others face, if we remain inert and mentally lethargic - failing to experience the beauty of nature - and instead choose television shows, video games, and other meaningless forms of entertainment over expanding our knowledge of ourselves and the world around us, then the barbarians will prevail. 

              In conclusion, I leave you with an excerpt of Dr. Martin Luther King’s Beyond Vietnam speech, given April 4, 1967, a year to the day before his death:  

    I am convinced that if we are to get on to the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered…

    Now let us begin. Now let us rededicate ourselves to the long and bitter, but beautiful, struggle for a new world. This is the calling of the sons of God, and our brothers wait eagerly for our response. Shall we say the odds are too great? Shall we tell them the struggle is too hard? Will our message be that the forces of American life militate against their arrival as full men, and we send our deepest regrets? Or will there be another message—of longing, of hope, of solidarity with their yearnings, of commitment to their cause, whatever the cost? The choice is ours, and though we might prefer it otherwise, we must choose in this crucial moment of human history….

    And if we will only make the right choice, we will be able to transform this pending cosmic elegy into a creative psalm of peace. If we will make the right choice, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our world into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. If we will but make the right choice, we will be able to speed up the day, all over America and all over the world, when justice will roll down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

    The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.  Image from: