Saturday, June 08, 2013

Brother Gil, Workin' for Peace Still

'Work for Peace'

by Gil Scott-Heron

Back when Eisenhower was the President, Golf courses was where most of his time was spent. So I never really listened to what the President said, Because in general I believed that the General was politically dead.
But he always seemed to know when the muscles were about to be flexed, Because I remember him saying something, mumbling something about a Military Industrial Complex.
Americans no longer fight to keep their shores safe, Just to keep the jobs going in the arms making workplace. Then they pretend to be gripped by some sort of political reflex, But all they're doing is paying dues to the Military Industrial Complex. 
The Military and the Monetary, The Military and the Monetary, The Military and the Monetary. The Military and the Monetary, get together whenever they think its necessary, They turn our brothers and sisters into mercenaries, they are turning the planet into a cemetery.
The Military and the Monetary, use the media as intermediaries, they are determined to keep the citizens secondary, they make so many decisions that are arbitrary. We're marching behind a commander in chief, who is standing under a spotlight shaking like a leaf. but the ship of state had landed on an economic reef, so we knew he was going to bring us messages of grief.
The Military and the Monetary, were shielded by January and went storming into February, Brought us pot bellied generals as luminaries, two weeks ago I hadn't heard of the son of a bitch, now all of a sudden he's legendary.
They took the honour from the honourary, they took the dignity from the dignitaries, they took the secrets from the secretary, but they left the bitch an obituary. The Military and the Monetary, from thousands of miles away in a Saudi Arabian sanctuary, had us all scrambling for our dictionaries, cause we couldn't understand the fuckin vocabulary.
Yeah, there was some smart bombs, but there was some dumb ones as well, scared the hell out of CNN in that Baghdad hotel.
The Military and the Monetary, they get together whenever they think its necessary, War in the desert sometimes sure is scary, but they beamed out the war to all their subsidiaries. Tried to make So Damn Insane a worthy adversary, keeping the citizens secondary, scaring old folks into coronaries.
The Military and the Monetary, from thousands of miles in a Saudi Arabian sanctuary, kept us all wondering if all of this was really truely, necessary.
We've got to work for Peace, Peace ain't coming this way. If we only work for Peace, If everyone believed in Peace the way they say they do, we'd have Peace.
The only thing wrong with Peace, is that you can't make no money from it.
The Military and the Monetary, they get together whenever they think its necessary, they've turned our brothers and sisters into mercenaries, they are turning the planet, into a cemetery. Got to work for Peace, Peace ain't coming this way.
We should not allow ourselves to be mislead, by talk of entering a time of Peace, Peace is not the absence of war, it is the absence of the rules of war and the threats of war and the preparation for war. Peace is not the absence of war, it is the time when we will all bring ourselves closer to each other, closer to building a structure that is unique within ourselves because we have finally come to Peace within ourselves.
The Military and the Monetary, The Military and the Monetary, The Military and the Monetary. Get together whenever they think its necessary, they've turned our brothers and sisters into mercenaries, they are turning parts of the planet, into a cemetery.
The Military and the Monetary, The Military and the Monetary, We hounded the Ayatollah religiously, Bombed Libya and killed Quadafi's son hideously. We turned our back on our allies the Panamanians, and saw Ollie North selling guns to the Iranians. Watched Gorbachev slaughtering Lithuanians, We better warn the Amish, they may bomb the Pennsylvanians.
The Military and the Monetary, get together whenever they think its necessary, they have turned our brothers and sisters into mercenaries, they are turning the planet, into a cemetery.
I don't want to sound like no late night commercial, but its a matter of fact that there are thousands of children all over the world in Asia and Africa and in South America who need our help.
When they start talking about 55 cents a day and 70 cents a day, I know a lot of folks feel as though that, that's not really any kind of contribution to make, but we had to give up a dollar and a half just to get in the subway nowadays.
So this is a song about tomorrow and about how tomorrow can be better. if we all, "Each one reach one, Each one try to teach one".
Nobody can do everything, but everybody can do something, everyone must play a part, everyone got to go to work, Work for Peace.
Spirit Say Work, Work for Peace If you believe the things you say, go to work. If you believe in Peace, time to go to work. Cant be waving your head no more, go to work.

Living Under Threat: Haitian Human Rights Defender Patrice Florvilus

Haiti: Death threat to human rights lawyer in Haiti: Patrice Florvilus

by Amnesty International

UA: 136/13 Index: AMR 36/013/2013 Haiti Date: 22 May 2013

A human rights lawyer in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, has been threatened and intimidated since 15 April, when two men were arrested and beaten. One died in custody. The lawyer is now representing the cases of both men. Human rights lawyer Patrice Florvilus, who is executive director of the NGO Defenders of the Oppressed (Défenseurs des Opprimés – DOP) has, in the last few days, received credible information that his life is in serious danger. This is in relation to his legal representation of the family of Méris Civil who was arrested on 15 April, brutally beaten and died in police custody. Patrice Florvilus also represents Darlin Lexima , who was arrested alongside Méris Civil and beaten but released without charge.

Patrice Florvilus car was followed by the same police vehicle on 15, 17 and 19 April. On 11 May at 6pm Darlin Lexima was stopped on the street in the municipality of Delmas by two men who identified themselves as police officers. He was warned not to speak publicly about his own beating in April, or the death of Méris Civil. On 7 May, DOP had held a press conference on the killing of Méris Civil. In the last few days Patrice Florvilus has received reliable inside information that his life is now in serious danger.

Méris Civil and Darlin Lexima were arrested in the early hours of 15 April for participating in a demonstration by residents of the displacement camp where they both lived. Please see UA 98/13 for details.

Please write immediately in French or your own language: ν Expressing concern for the safety of Patrice Florvilus and Darlin Lexima and their families and calling on the authorities to provide effective protection to them according to their wishes; ν Calling on the authorities to immediately and independently investigate the accusation of threats and intimidation against them, as well as into the death of Méris Civil in police custody and prosecute those found responsible; ν Reminding the authorities of their duty to guarantee that human rights defenders can carry out their work without fear of reprisals, as established in the 1998 UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 03 JULY 2013 TO: President Michel Joseph Martelly Palais National Rue Magny, Port-au-Prince, Haiti Fax: + 1 202-745-7215 (via Haiti embassy in the USA – keep trying) Email: Salutation: Monsieur le Président/ Dear President Martelly

General Director of the Haitian Police Godson Orélus Directeur Général de la PNH Police Nationale d’Haiti Port-au-Prince, Haiti Email: Salutation: Monsieur le directeur/Dear Director

And copies to: Ministry of Justice and Public Security Ministre de la Justice et de la Securité Publique Jean Renel Sanon 18 avenue Charles Summer Port-au-Prince, Haïti Email:

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

Please check with your section office if sending appeals after the above date.


ADDITIONAL INFORMATION At 2am on 15 April a group of men on motorcycles set fire to seven tents in Acra et Adoquin Delmas 33 displacement camp, in an attempt to set the camp alight. A number of residents went to the local police station at Delmas 33, less than 100 metres from the camp, to ask for police assistance. The police told them, however, that they did not have the resources to respond. Some residents later blocked the street between the police station and the camp, to protest against the arson attack and the police's indifference. According to eyewitnesses, police from Delmas 33 police station arrested two of the protestors and beat one of whom, Méris Civil so brutally that he died of his injuries in police custody. The other arrested man, Darlin Lexima, was released without charge the next afternoon, and told Amnesty International delegates that he had been beaten in police custody. Eyewitnesses, including Darlin Lexima have stated that Méris Civil was already dead before he was taken to hospital later in the morning of 15 April.

Two days before the arson attack, a man claiming to own part of the land where the camp is sited came with a Justice of the Peace and around five police officers. The man told residents of the camp, which is in the Port-au-Prince municipality of Delmas, that they had to leave and he would use “any means necessary” to have them removed.

Défenseurs des Opprimés (Defenders of the Oppressed – DOP) is an NGO which provides legal advice and representation to people who have suffered human rights violations. Since the January 2010 earthquake, DOP has represented people living in displacement camps who are under threat of forced eviction.

The 12 January 2010 earthquake in Haiti left more than 200,000 people dead and some 2.3 million homeless, who had no alternative but to make their own shelters wherever they could. Three years on, an estimated 320,000 people are still living in makeshift camps, nearly a quarter of whom are under threat of forced eviction. Arson attacks on displacement camps is an increasingly common tactic used to force families to vacate the land they are living on. In the early hours of 16 February, Acra 1 camp in the municipality of Pétion-Ville was destroyed in an arson attack carried out by a group of armed men, forcing several hundred families to flee and leaving them homeless.

Name: Patrice Florvilus, Darlin Lexima, Méris Civil Gender m/f: all m

UA: 136/13 Index: AMR 36/013/2013 Issue Date: 22 May 2013

When Food Eats You: The Effects of GMO Crops on Insects, Animals, and Human Animals

Getting to the Root of How GMO Plants Harm Our Health

by Sandra Finley - The Battles

What do you think about this?

· In an interview with Dr. Mercola, Dr. Elaine Ingham says GMO plant material “ulcerates” the digestive system of animals. (thanks to Lynn for sending the article.)

· Isn’t that the same as was said by the entomologist interviewed by Anna Maria Tremonti . . . the larvae feeds on the root of the corn plant. That food then "eats holes in" the digestive system of the larvae”. The larvae dies.

· All of which is reinforced by a video of an American farmer who saw his herd become sick and destroyed. He traced it to the GM corn he was feeding them. (I’ll track down the video and post the link. It’s on my blog somewhere.)

. . . But, ... but honey! - - WE are eating the same GMO food (it’s just not labelled, we are kept in the dark).

In an earlier posting, I wanted a better idea of WHAT FOODS ON THE GROCERY SHELF have GMO ingredients? How much are we actually eating?

I stumbled on food lists for people that have allergies to soy and then one for allergies to canola oil - - those are two of the largest GM crops. If you are eating food with soy, canola, or corn you are almost assuredly eating GM plant material.

Which raises the obvious question:
· Are people “allergic to” canola and soy - – which implies that THEY, the people, have a problem OR

· Do GMO canola and GMO soy (and GMO corn?) make people sick? - – which is to say, the problem is THE FOOD, not the people.

If you remember the entomologist describing how the insect larvae is killed by the GM corn plant, and then read about Dr. Elaine Ingham’s work - - GMO plant material “ulcerates” the digestive system of animals.

If you’re smart enough to know that human beings are animals, not that much different from these other creatures, AND you have an idea of how much GM plant material is in the average diet of a North American, you might want to . . . I don’t know - - what does it make you feel like doing?

I want to help spread the word. Lots of people are doing the same which is inspiring. It should not be out of ignorance that we feed our families GM food products.

I updated the posting A closer look at GMO ingredients in store-bought food. It has the link to the Mercola article about Dr. Elaine Ingham’s work.

For the next international MAM in my community (March Against Monsanto October 12, 2013) there is already talk about the possibility of a “lead-up” evening where we discuss “How” GM food works. Too many people are not aware. They cannot make informed choices about what they are eating.

A closer look at GMO ingredients in store-bought food

Friday, June 07, 2013

Demonstrators Besiege British Security Corp. G4S AGM Over Israeli Child Prison Contract

G4S Annual General Meeting Dominated by Controversy Over Israeli Prison Contracts

 by Palestine News Network

G4S's involvement in the detention of Palestinian children in Israeli jails dominated the company's Annual General Meeting (AGM) on Thursday 6th June, overshadowing all other business, including last year's Olympic security fiasco, said Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC) in a press release.

The AGM was also interrupted by protestors shouting 'Who killed Jimmy Mubenga?" in reference to the Angolan asylum seeker who died in England while being escorted onto a plane by G4S security guards in 2011. The protestors, who unfurled a banner saying 'Stop G4S', were escorted from the meeting.

Throughout the two hour AGM, Palestinian solidarity campaigners demanded to know when G4S would be ending its contracts with Israeli prisons, where Palestinian children, women and men are held, often without trial, and routinely tortured.

Of the 16 questions asked by shareholders, seven were about G4S's Israeli prison contracts.

Campaigners holding shares were dotted amongst the total of 60 shareholders.

Activists from PSC made it clear to new CEO, Ashley Almanza, and the G4S board that the torture of children is 'absolutely prohibited' under international law and yet is documented as taking place at Al Jalame prison in Israel.

Mr. Almanza told the activists:

"It's a matter that's close to our hearts and it's a matter that we will keep under review."

Campaigners insisted on being given a timeframe for when the review would take place and when G4S would disassociate itself from its Israeli prison contracts.

In response, G4S chair John Connolly said:

"We're not blind to the observations and questions that have been raised a number of times today. We have no business to be associated with inappropriate breaches of the type that have been referred to today."

However, both Mr. Connolly and Mr. Almanza insisted that no breaches of 'international humanitarian law' were being committed against Palestinian prisoners held in Israel's jails.

Hugh Lanning, chair of Palestine Solidarity Campaign, who attended the meeting, said afterwards:

"G4S has learned from today's AGM that there's a price to be paid for profiting from Israel's crimes.

PSC's campaign against G4S will continue until it stops making money from human rights violations, illegal detention and torture against Palestinians and withdraws from doing business with Israel's prison service.

G4S is a key target of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which targets companies profiting from Israel's illegal occupation of Palestinian land."

 Campaigners were also outside the AGM all afternoon, demonstrating with placards, with some dressed as hooded prisoners.

Manning Trial Revelations of Government-Telecom Spying Cooperation

Court Order Reveals Unprecedented Government Surveillance of Verizon Cell Phone Customers


Michael Ratner: Document revealing US spying on Verizon cell phone customers likely leaked by a whistleblower, which government is attempting to suppress through Bradley Manning trial.

Michael Ratner is President Emeritus of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York and Chair of the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Berlin. He is currently a legal adviser to Wikileaks and Julian Assange. He and CCR brought the first case challenging the Guantanamo detentions and continue in their efforts to close Guantanamo. He taught at Yale Law School, and Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild. His current books include "Hell No: Your Right to Dissent in the Twenty-First Century America," and “ Who Killed Che? How the CIA Got Away With Murder.” NOTE: Mr. Ratner speaks on his own behalf and not for any organization with which he is affiliated.

Frack Cocktail: Growing America's Future Food Supply without Fresh Water

Fracking America’s Food Supply

by Walter M. Brasch

Fracking—the process the oil and gas industry uses to extract fossil fuel as much as two miles below the ground—may directly impact the nation’s water supply, reduce water-based recreational and sports activity, and lead to an increase in the cost of food.

The cocktail soup required for each well requires about two million pounds of silica sand, as much as 100,000 gallons of toxic chemicals, and three to nine million gallons of fresh water. There are more than 500,000 active wells in the country.

In 2011, the last year for which data is available, Texas energy companies used about 26.5 billion gallons of water. Energy companies drilling Pennsylvania used the second greatest amount of water, followed by Colorado and Arkansas. Nuclear plants, which use more water, can recycle most of it. Because frack wastewater is toxic, oil and gas companies can’t recycle the contaminated water.

The water is provided by companies that draw up to three million gallons a day from rivers and lakes, by individuals who sell water from their ponds, and by municipalities. Steubenville, Ohio, is tapping one of its reservoirs to sell up to 700,000 gallons of water every day for five years to Chesapeake Energy, one of the largest players in the fracking industry.

However, fresh water is not unlimited.

Beginning about five years ago, the water in the nation’s aquifers has been decreasing significantly. The depletion since 2008, according to Leonard Konikow, a research hydrologist at the U.S. Geological Survey. is about three times the rate as between 1900 through 2008.

Significant reductions in water availability are now common for the 1,450 mile long Colorado River, which provides water to about 40 million people in California and the southwest, including the agriculture-rich Imperial Desert of southeastern California. Lake Mead, a part of the Colorado system, provides water to Las Vegas and the Nevada desert communities; its water level is close to the point where the Department of the Interior will declare a water shortage and impose strict water-use regulation.

The depletion of the rivers, lakes, and aquifers is because of population growth, higher usage, climate change, and a severe drought that has spread throughout the Midwest and southwest for the past three years.

The Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies (CERES), basing its analysis upon more than 25,000 wells, reports almost 47 percent of wells that use fracking were developed in areas with high or extremely high water stress levels; 92 percent of all gas wells in Colorado are in extremely high-stressed regions; In Texas, 51 percent are in high or extremely high stress water regions.

Water is so critical to fracking that oil and gas companies have been paying premium prices, as much as $1,000–$2,000 for about 326,000 gallons (an acre foot) and outbidding farmers in the drought-ravaged parts of the country for the water; the normal price is about $30–$100 for the same amount. Oil and gas drillers have also been trucking in water to the Midwest and southwest from as far away as Ohio and Pennsylvania. The companies are “going to pay what they need to pay,” said Dr. Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute at Colorado State University.

If farmers have to pay more for water, they will raise the prices of their product. If they can’t get enough water, because the energy companies are taking as much as they can get, they grow fewer crops and reduce the size of their livestock herds; this, also, will force food prices up. It’s a simple case of supply and demand.

But, there are other problems. Some farmers and owners of corporate farms who have large water resources often sell that water to the energy companies; they can get more money for the water and leave their fields barren than they can get for growing crops and selling them to wholesalers and distributors.

Another reality may be driving food prices higher. Fossil fuel mining and agriculture have always co-existed. But, that is changing.

Beneath about 200,000 square miles of North Dakota, Montana, and Saskatchewan, lying between 4,500 and 7,500 feet below the surface of the earth, is the Bakken Shale. Oil in the shale was discovered in 1953; however, because the shale is only 13 to 140 feet thick, using conventional drilling methods were marginally profitable until five years ago with the development of horizontal fracking.

The Bakken Shale lies directly below one of the most fertile wheat fields in the United States. North Dakota farmers produce almost three-fourths of all amber durum harvested in the United States. High in protein and one of the strongest of all wheat, amber durum is a base for most of the world’s food production. It is used for all pastas, pizza crusts, couscous, and numerous kinds of breads. Red durum, a variety, is used to feed cattle. North Dakota farmers in late Summer harvest about 50 million bushels (about 1.4 million tons) of amber durum, almost three-fourths of all amber durum produced in the United States. About one-third of the production is exported, primarily to Europe, Africa, and the Middle East. Destruction of the wheat fields, from a combination of global warming and fracking, will cause production to decline, prices to rise, and famine to increase.

Energy company landmen, buying land and negotiating mineral rights leases, became as pesky as aphids in the wheat fields. However, the landmen didn’t have to do much sweet talking with the farmers, many of whom were hugging bankruptcy during the Great Recession. The farmers yielded parts of their land to the energy companies in exchange for immediate income and the promise of future royalties. By November 2012 there were 7,791 wells in North Dakota.

In 2006, oil production in the North Dakota fields was about 92 million gallons. Energy companies are expected to mine more than 15.2 billion gallons this year. Drilling for oil also yields natural gas; there are about two trillion barrels of natural gas in the shale.

In Pennsylvania, 17,000 acres have already been lost to the development of natural gas fracking. That land is not likely to be productive for several years because of “compaction and landscape reshaping,” according to a study by the Penn State Extension Office. U.S. Geological Survey scientists conclude there is a “low probability that the disturbed land will revert back to a natural state in the near future.”

The presence of natural gas drilling companies has also led to decreased milk and cheese production. Penn State researchers Riley Adams and Dr. Timothy Kelsey concluded: “Changes in dairy cow numbers also seem to be associated with the level of Marcellus shale drilling activity.” Counties with 150 or more Marcellus shale wells on average experienced an 18.7 percent decrease in dairy cows, compared to only a 1.2 percent average decrease in counties with no Marcellus wells.”

Beneath some of the nation’s richest agricultural land in drought-ravaged central California lies the Monterrey Shale, a 1,750 square mile formation that holds about two-thirds of the country’s estimated shale oil reserves, about 15.4 billion barrels (647 trillion gallons). The landmen have already arrived to buy leases and set up what is likely to be the biggest oil and gas boom in the country.

More than 200 different crops are grown in the central valley, including about 70 percent of the world’s supply of almonds, most of the grape production and 90 percent of all domestic wine sold in the United States. The Sun-Maid farm cooperative, headquartered in the Central Valley, is one of the world’s largest producers of raisins and dried fruits.

When the politicians unleashed Big Energy to frack the nation and extract gas, they parroted industry claims that extensive drilling would improve the economy, lower natural gas prices, and help make the United States energy independent from having to import foreign oil. What is happening is that the companies have purchased far too much land, are in heavy debt with the banks, and have a glut of natural gas that has forced the prices to the lowest level in almost 10 years.

The solution is that these patriotic corporations, to reduce the glut and force domestic residential prices back up as the mined gas becomes less available, are developing extensive plans to export natural gas to countries that will pay significantly higher prices than what is currently charged in the American market.

There is one problem. The United States can’t import water.

Dr. Brasch’s current book is Fracking Pennsylvania, which looks at the impact of fracking upon public health, worker safety, the environment, and agriculture. The book--available at local bookstores and amazon. com--also looks at the financial collusion between politicians and Big Energy.

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Zoe's Arresting Developments

The judge should arrest me for calling this dingbat a racist 

by Zoe Blunt

You remember this dude – I’m suing him for stealing my photos and trying to blackmail me. Since October, the idiot has been telling anyone who will listen that I’m a “reverse racist,” a feminazi, part of a sinister New World Order conspiracy, and so on.

Now he’s asking a BC Supreme Court judge to have me arrested for calling him a white supremacist jerk on Facebook and on this blog. (Spoiler: He is a white supremacist jerk.)

The wingnut, who obviously does not have the benefit of legal counsel, has filed a bizarre pile of claims on behalf of himself, a group called We Are Change Victoria, and neo-Nazi sympathizer Doug Christie. Ryan Elson defends Christie’s views as free speech, while insisting that my speech is a crime. Yes, really.

The oddball demands are part of the wingnut’s counterclaim to my civil action to stop the wingnut stealing my photos. Note: this is not how you’re supposed to make a claim in court – unless you’re a wingnut, in which case the rules do not apply to you.

1) On October 14, 2012, Plaintiff [Zoe Blunt] targeted Defendant [Ryan Elson] labelling him and other members of WAC Victoria as “white supremacists” and “racists” in a Facebook event posting. Doug Christy [sic] was labelled this as well … Here we establish the Plaintiff’s Vendetta towards the Defendant.

3) Civil restitution AND court order for criminal investigation and prosecution be brought fourth [sic] on the Plaintiff for Criminal malicious prosecution, Criminal harassment, Conspiracy.

4) Criminal charges be brought fourth [sic] on the Plaintiff for Perjury in association with her claims of “perjury” within her statement of facts on civil claim 12-4008.

5) Injunction to restrain the plaintiff from further harassment of the defendant and his family/friends.*

The wingnut claims to own copyright on photos I took of him October 20, 2012 at a counterprotest near a Victoria rally where Christie and other nutters were scheduled to speak. I photographed Elson and two buddies threatening me and the police intervening.

What will the nutjob do next?? Stay tuned.

*Answer: On May 9, 2013, the dude got a court order to stop me (@blunt1) tweeting anything with his Twitter handle (@fixx_revolution) because he doesn’t know how to block people or turn off notifications and my occasional tweets caused him such severe stress he couldn’t function. No, I’m not kidding. That’s what he told the judge.

A helpful guide to the legal process especially for wingnuts

So I’m suing this local wingnut

Hate Mail from Haters – the post that started it all

Shadowy Bilderberg Meets in London

Financial Elite at 'Secretive' Annual Meeting

by AJE

Politicians, business leaders and royalty from Europe and the US are meeting near London for a secretive three day event to discuss global policy.

Known as the Bilderberg Group, their annual conferences are not recorded, nor do they produce any statements.

Their lack of transparency often fuels theories that they are the secret rulers of the world.

Al Jazeera's Charlie Angela has more.

Just Beginnings: Graduation Day for the Post (Post) Docs.

Just Begin: A Graduation Day Speech for the Post-Post-Docs of Life

by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch

Here may be the most commonplace sentence anyone could write about graduation day in any year: when I think back to my own graduation in 1966, an eon, a lifetime, a world ago, I have no memory of who addressed us. None. I have a little packet of photos of the event: shots of my parents and me, my grandmother and me, my aunt and me, my former roommates and me, my friends and me. You can even see the chairs for the ceremony. But not the speaker. And yet it’s odds on that he -- and in 1966, it was surely a “he” -- made some effort to usher me into the American world, offering me, as a member of a new generation, words of wisdom and some advice. You know, the usual thing that no one pays much attention to or ever remembers.

Here, on the other hand, is my most vivid memory of that day. I reserved a room at a local motel for my parents the night before the graduation ceremony. As it happened, I had reserved the same room the previous night for my girlfriend and me (and conveniently not paid for it). When, on the morning of graduation, I picked my parents up and my father went to pay, the hotel clerk charged him for both nights, winked, and said something suggestive.
Tomgram: Engelhardt, At World's End and Back Again

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: I have a weakness for graduation speeches, and so most years this site publishes one -- sometimes a perfectly real one delivered strikingly before actual graduates and sometimes, as today, delivered only on the campus of the mind and meant for the rest of us.

Note as well that, after all these years, my idiosyncratic history of the Cold War and the crash-and-burn experience of American triumphalism, The End of Victory Culture, is finally out in a Kindle edition. When, on occasion, I open the pages of that book, I’m always amazed to meet a stranger named “Tom Engelhardt” who knew so much more about so many things than I know now. Meet him yourself, if you’re in the mood for a little whirl through our superpower past. Tom

Just Begin: A Graduation Day Speech for 

the Post-Post-Docs of Life

by Tom Engelhardt

It was, believe me, a humiliatingly uncomfortable moment. Despite what you’ve heard about the 1960s, this wasn’t acceptable behavior. I wonder what was in my mind then? Was I really incapable at the time of thinking 24 hours ahead? Or was I simply out to rile my parents up? At this distance, who knows? I may not even have known then, since our motivations tend to be far more mysterious, even to us, than we like to think.

In any case, on this sun-dappled afternoon 47 years later, standing here before you, the class of 2013, I have little doubt that not much has changed when it comes to graduations. As your last experience here, your final moment, you’ve been guaranteed the same regurgitation of “wisdom,” passed on from those who supposedly know to those who supposedly don’t. So, as the novelist Kurt Vonnegut might once have said, it goes. Or every now and then, it doesn’t.

I could certainly tell you what a mess this world of ours is in. It’s my stock in trade at the website I run,, and from wars to eco-catastrophe, this is the country and the planet that just keeps on giving when it comes to a publication like mine. But I already know that, like me all those years ago, you won't remember what I say. You’ll have your equivalent of that motel room, something more immediate on your mind. So let me make a suggestion. Take out your iPhone. Text a friend at a graduation ceremony elsewhere. Chat with your relatives. Shoot video of your classmates. Check out your favorite websites. If you’re a pioneer with access, put on those Google glasses. Amuse yourself.

Graduating the Class of 1966

In the meantime, let me address a group with far less time than you, but perhaps a longer attention span at this particular moment. I’m talking about your grandparents sitting here with you today. Or to make things simpler, let me just speak directly to my own cohort.

Class of 1966, it’s my feeling that all of us post-post-docs of life need a graduation speech that will usher us back into our world for one last round of action and activity. After all, we have two obvious things going for us. We’re living longer, so no one should write us off quite yet and we’re the generation for whom, briefly, the American world seemed to split open back in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Among other things, we saw into a certain heart of imperial darkness in those Vietnam years, so that nothing after, not Abu Ghraib, nor CIA torture, nor drone assassinations, nothing could truly be news to us when it came to the American way of war.

But we saw something else, too. We saw possibility. We had the example of the Civil Rights movement just behind us. We saw what “the people” could do. We saw that everything did not have to remain as it was, as it had always been. We saw that language could change, which meant that it was possible to think about and describe our American world in new ways. This was no small thing, even if, in truth, that moment didn’t last terribly long or end particularly well. After all, from the rubble of “the sixties,” the only obvious “revolution” that arrived was the right-wing one, ushering in the Age of Reagan. Still, we saw what we saw.

It’s common enough in graduation addresses for a speaker to say that his generation’s moment is over and to pass the “baton” to the next one, to insist in this case that the class of 1966 is history, and that the class of 2013 has arrived and should seize its main chance now. These days, it would be easy enough to put a nasty twist on that sentiment and tell our children and grandchildren, you, the graduates of 2013, that we failed you, that we left the world in worse shape, and that now -- thank you very much -- we’re dumping it into your laps to deal with. Good luck and godspeed!

And in some sense, any sane person who surveyed our American world today would have to agree with that: the congressional system is busted; a president nobody in Washington pays much attention to resides in a White House which has garnered so much power that he can commit more or less any kind of mayhem he wants outside our borders; our wars are endless, destructive to others and treasury-draining to us; our infrastructure is rotting away; the kind of entrenched poverty we have now would have made Lyndon Baines Johnson blush; inequality is growing by leaps and bounds; the rich only get richer; big money and dark money have our politics by the throat and “democracy” has largely become the name for a new form of nonstop campaign season TV punditry and entertainment; fossil fuels have been proclaimed the American future and are being hailed as such, even though getting them all out of the ground will fry our world; “extreme weather,” neutered of its possible climate-change significance, makes for constant dramatic news ledes and so we’re pointlessly regaled with disconnected tales of particularly stunning storms, tornados, floods, heat, cold, drought, and so on; and that’s just to begin a list that could be (but won’t be) the rest of this speech. If you wanted to offer an epitaph for our world, the sort of thing you might etch on our collective tombstone, you could do worse than quote the rhetorical question Rex Tillerson, CEO of ExxonMobil, asked his company’s shareholders recently: “What good is it to save the planet if humanity suffers?”

What good indeed? Back in the 1960s, pre-Tillerson and pre-climate change, we had one lucky thing going for us which you, the class of 2013, don’t and won’t have going for you: the illusion that we couldn’t and wouldn’t destroy our own planet. Of course, my generation -- I was born in 1944 -- grew up in a distinctly exterminationist world.

We were the first generation of the Atomic Age, and going to school meant following the advice of Bert the Turtle and ducking under your desk when the test sirens went off, part of our training for what to do if, in the Cold War stand-off of that time, Hiroshima became us. Despite the wealth and seeming triumphalism of that American moment, there was a grim undercurrent of doom, too. I can still remember the repetitive dreams I had in my teens in which I would find myself at world’s end with the Bomb (which we tended to capitalize) going off, the mushroom cloud rising, the intense heat searing my arms, before waking with relief.

But in the early 1960s, after the Cuban Missile Crisis ended, the first “arms control” treaty sent atomic testing underground, and the last round of atomic films and fantasies left the scene, it became easier to imagine, however briefly, that the world had somehow been rid of the possibility of human destruction. You could begin to forget -- that is, ignore -- the Bomb. Though seldom credited with having anything to do with “the sixties,” I suspect that this illusion, for that was all it was, felt like a reprieve from a sentence of doom. It acted like a kind of unexamined liberation, leaving us free in some strange way to plunge into our American world, eyes open, filled with energy and the desire to do something, to transform the world for the better.

Heading for the Entrances

That moment is long gone. Now, the exterminationist grid that envelops us, that envelops you, class of 2013, whether you’re fully conscious of it or not, has only grown stronger and more imprisoning. I know that many of you can imagine an immediate future for yourselves. It must be harder, though, to imagine the sort of future -- one to be built for your children and grandchildren -- that almost has to be the basis for any oppositional movement that hopes to truly change our world.

Perhaps this is what my cohorts and I from the class of 1966 can still offer you. A memory of what a future without bounds, without a sense of impending doom, felt like. And as for you, my former classmates, I just want to remind you that we’re still here, we’re not dead yet. How can we hand this mess of a world over to the young this way without trying one more time ourselves? Isn’t that a debt we owe? Shouldn’t we, as we used to say, “tell it like it is,” which means telling everyone, ourselves included, that it can still be different, that it’s never too late?

There’s no point in trying to deny it: we live at a daunting moment and in the heart of an empire, a power (as the neocons used to assure us) the likes of which hasn’t been seen on planet Earth, ever. This can be discouraging. I sometimes wonder what it was like for critics living inside, say, the Roman Empire (or its Chinese equivalent) while its power was still stunning, even if in decline.

In addition, the issues, especially the inability of this country to face the way it’s feeding climate change -- that is, the devastation of the world of the class of 2013 and that of your children -- can be overwhelming.

How to start? Where to start? Why even try?

And yet, maybe in that very sense of being overwhelmed is a place to begin. In the 1960s, the issues at stake seemed far more separate, more distinct. The nuclear issue, the Vietnam War, civil rights, women’s rights, the environment, and so on. You could get involved in any one and not end up dealing with the others. These days, all issues increasingly seem to lead to the same planetary crisis: the wars, the 1% societies, the too-big-to-fail financial institutions, climate change. Aren’t they beginning to blend into a single, all-encompassing crisis? Which means: start in anywhere and sooner or later you’ll find yourself heading for the heart of the thing. It may really hardly matter where you begin.

The answer, class of 1966, is: just begin. Just believe that for every measure, there is still a potential countermeasure. That you matter. That we matter. That we’re not too old. That it’s not too late. That it truly isn’t right, even now, to leave all this to our children. That the future by definition isn’t and can never be known, which means it’s no more Rex Tillerson’s than it's ours.

So, class of 1966, potential graduates of life-thus-far, prepare yourselves. You may not move as fast as you once did, but that’s okay. When you’re ready, just head for the entrances, not the exits. It’s time to begin.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture (just published in a Kindle edition), runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050.

[Note for Readers: Just to be completely clear, I was invited to no campus to give this commencement speech. I gave it on the campus of my mind, and nowhere else. In addition, I’d like to offer a deep bow of thanks to my friend and mind-meld-mate John Cobb for sparking this address in the first place.]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Tom Engelhardt

Toronto Joins Global Protest of McDonalds' Labour Abuse

Thursday, June 6: Canada Joins Protests in 30+ Countries Targeting McDonalds’Labor Abuse

by Justice for Migrant Workers

Student guestworker fight from U.S. becomes global campaign against labor abuse, for freedom of association

WHAT: Global day of action in 30+ countries against McDonald’s labor abuse

WHERE: McDonalds Restaurant at 160 Spadina Avenue, Toronto

Actions also taking place at McDonald’s restaurants in the U.S., Belgium, Brazil, China, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, New Zealand, Paraguay, Philippines, Slovakia, Thailand, Uruguay, and more (see for details)
12:30pm. Thursday, June 6, 2013

Justice for Migrant Workers <>,
Workers Action Centre <> and
No One Is Illegal - Toronto <> join
National Guestworker Alliance members, current and former McDonald’s workers, global
unions, and community members

Toronto, ON — A Global Day of Action against McDonald’s labor abuse began June 5 with a protest in Jakarta, Indonesia
– the first in a series of actions in more than 30 countries to take place over the course of June 6.

Workers, international unions, and community members are demanding that McDonald’s take responsibility for ending the abuse of international contract workers at its restaurants, and guarantee all its workers the freedom to organize without threats or retaliation at all 34,000 McDonald’s restaurants worldwide.

The actions mark the three-month anniversary of a historic strike by McDonald’s student guestworkers in the U.S. against labor abuse.

Justice for Migrant Workers, Workers Action Centre and No One Is Illegal - Toronto join the National Guestworker Alliance (NGA) in organizing the actions are members of national and global unions, students, and human rights organizations including IUF affiliates around the globe, Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales (ProDESC) in Mexico, Ver.di in Germany, New Trade Union Initiative (NTUI) in India, and affiliates of the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC).

The March 2013 exposé of McDonald’s labor abuse against student guestworkers in the U.S. created an international media firestorm, from the Wall Street Journal<> to Argentina’s  Misiones <>

The students’ strike forced McDonald’s to cut ties with the franchisee where the students worked, but McDonald’s refused to meet with the students about ending labor abuse—even when they delivered  100,000 petitions to the CEO’s doorstep. They and their allies will demand that McDonald’s put an end abuse of international contract labor by signing an agreement with the guestworkers in its restaurants, and guarantee freedom of association for all its workers worldwide.

Cases of labor abuse at McDonald’s show the fast food giant’s failure to set even the most basic labor standards for *any* of the 1.8 million workers<> at its 34,000 restaurants around the world. McDonald’s sets standards for its franchise owners on trivial aspects of food presentation—while having no standards to protect the workers who generate $27.6 billion in annual revenue<>
for the corporation.

“McDonald’s used a global labor supply chain to source cheap, exploitable workers from around the world and hold down wages and conditions for U.S. workers,” said Saket Soni, executive director of the NGA. “Now workers have built a global movement to challenge McDonald’s abuse and demand the right to organize against abuse.”

*CONTACT*: Chris Ramsaroop - Justice for Migrant Workers (647 834 4932)
and Sonia Singh - Workers Action Centre (647 235 6912)
Global: Stephen Boykewich, 718-791-9162,


Global Day of Action site:
Photos and Videos of Global Actions:
Press Coverage:

Wednesday, June 05, 2013

Rohingya Onslaught Continues in Burma

Rohingya Population Control: The Onslaught in Burma Continues

by Ramzy Baroud

On April 21, the BBC obtained disturbing video footage shot in Burma. It confirmed extreme reports of what has been taking place in that country, even as it is being touted by the US and European governments as a success story pertaining to political reforms and democracy.

The BBC footage was difficult to watch even when faces of Muslim Rohingya victims were blurred. To say the least, the level of violence exhibited by their Arakan Buddhist attackers was frightening. “The Burmese police (stood) by as shops, homes and mosques are looted and burnt, and failing to intervene as Buddhist mobs, including monks, kill fleeing Muslims,” the BBC reported. A Rohingya man was set ablaze while still alive. The police watched.

To some extent, international media is finally noticing the plight of the Rohingyas who are experiencing what can only be described as genocide. And there are reasons for this. On one hand, the atrocities being carried out by the Burmese state, local police and mobs belonging to nationalist Buddhist groups in the northwestern Arakan State, are unambiguous attempts at removing all Rohingyas from Burma. The Rohingya numbers currently hover between 800,000 and one million. On the other hand, Burma (also known as Myanmar) has, as of late, been placed in the limelight for the wrong reasons - thanks in part to western governments breaking the political and economic siege of the country’s decades-long military dictatorship.

While the ‘new Burma’ is being rebranded in a new positive discourse in order to open Rangoon up for foreign investments and steer it way from growing Chinese influence, western governments are deliberately ignoring the fact that a human rights crisis of unprecedented proportions is taking place. This all being done with the active involvement and encouragement of the government.

In the eyes of many in Burma, the Rohingyas are considered subhumans, and are treated as such. Most Rohingya Muslims are native to the state of “Rohang” – also known as Rakhine or Arakan. The majority of them live in very poor townships – mainly Buthidaung and Maungdaw – in the northwestern part of Arakan, or live in refugee camps. Their population subsists between the nightmare of having no legal status (as they are still denied citizenship), little or no rights and the ethnic purges carried out by their neighbors. The worst of such violence in recent years took place between June and October 2012. However, the onslaught targeting Rohingyas is resurfacing and spreading. This time around the intensity and the parameters of violence grew to include other Muslim minority groups in the country.

The BBC footage is not only revealing in the sense that it confirmed the authorities’ complicity in the violence, but it also reflected the government’s general attitude towards this minority group, described by the UN as the ‘world’s most persecuted people’. Responding to the outcry against his country’s brutal treatment of its minorities, Burmese President Then Sein made an ‘offer’ to the UN last year where he was willing to send the Rohingyas “to any other country willing to accept them.”

This peculiar behavior by the Burmese government is problematic in more than one way. Rangoon doesn’t seem even slightly mindful of international humanitarian laws or simply wishes to ignore it altogether. Its legal frame of reference is hardly a reflection of a repented dictatorship. But what is even more dangerous is that Rangoon has been sending unmistakable messages to nationalist groups who are leading the ethnic purges, that their extremely violent behavior is in fact consistent with the central policies of their governments.

Groups like Human Rights Watch (HRW) have become markedly more outspoken regarding the violence against the Rohingya. To quell growing criticism, perhaps fearing a backlash in terms of lucrative business contracts, the Burmese government decided to investigate the ‘sectarian violence’ through a supposed independent commission. Its recommendations were as equally disturbing as the violence itself.

The government Inquiry Commission on the Sectarian Violence in Rakhine State, assembled last August, was composed of 27-members, all Arkanese Buddhists, none of them from the Rohingya minority. The long-awaited report on the violence finally emerged on April 29, 2013. Its major findings included concerns over “rapid population growth” among Rohingya and Kaman Muslims. Its recommendations compelled a swift response from local authorities that moved in to limit the birth rate of Muslim Rohingya in two large townships.

On May 26, Arakan State spokesperson Win Myaing told journalists that the findings of the commission were consistent with the 2005 law that limits birth rate among Roghingya Muslims to two children per family. That discriminatory law goes back to 1994 where severe marriage restrictions were imposed on the Rohingya community, requiring long and complicated procedures. The BBC said, “it is not clear how (the ‘two-child policy’) will be enforced.”

Regardless of what sort of mechanisms Burmese authorities plan to put in place to implement the ‘law’, limiting population growth of the Rohingya people, is an abhorrent principle in and of itself. It even compelled celebrated ‘democracy icon’ Aung San Suu Kyi to break her silence regarding the violence against Rohingyas, however, she carefully selected her language.

“It is not good to have such discrimination. And it is not in line with human rights either,” Suu Kyi told reporters, although “she could not confirm whether the policy was being implemented,” reported the BBC online on May 27.

Considering the level of violence directed at Rohingyas and the fact that more than 125,000 Rohingya have already been pushed into internally displaced camps, (tens of thousands more have already been forced to flee the country and are scattered in refugee camps throughout Southeast Asia) one can only imagine the kind of sinister plans which are being put into action, amid the deafening international silence.

In fact, ‘silence’ is an understatement, for following the early wave of devastating violence, European officials welcomed the country’s ‘measured response’ and spokesperson for the EU's high representative on foreign affairs, Catherine Ashton, said on June 11: “We believe that the security forces are handling this difficult inter-communal violence in an appropriate way.”

Meanwhile, western countries led by the United States, are clamoring to divide the large Burmese economic cake amongst themselves. As Rohingya boats were floating (or sinking) in various waters, Burma’s President Sein met with Norway's Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg in a ‘landmark’ visit in Oslo on February 26. Regarding the conflict in Arakan, Jens Stoltenberg unambiguously declared it to be an internal Burmese affair, reducing it to the most belittling statements. In regards to ‘disagreements’ over citizenship, he said, “we have encouraged dialogue, but we will not demand that Burma’s government give citizenship to the Rohingyas.” Moreover, to reward Sein for his supposedly bold democratic reforms, Norway took the lead by waving off nearly half of its debt and other countries followed suit, including Japan which dropped $3 billion last year.

Meanwhile, the Rohingyas are left to ponder their punishment for flouting one discriminatory law or another. “Fear of punishment under the two-child rule compel far too many Rohingya women to risk their lives and turn to desperate and dangerous measures to self-induce abortions,” Asia director at HRW, Brad Adams said in a report published May 28.

No words can suffice to describe the plight of the Rohingyas who are trying to survive an unprecedentedly violent ethnic purge, with support and complicity of the Burmese government and silence of the very western governments that never cease to preach democracy and human rights.

Matthew Smith is a researcher for HRW and author of the organization's report, "All You Can Do is Pray": Crimes Against Humanity and Ethnic Cleansing of Rohingya Muslims in Burma's Arakan State.’ Concluding a commentary in CNN online, Smith wrote: “The world should not be blinded by the excitement of Myanmar's political opening. Rohingya are paying for that approach with their lives.” Since then, more Rohingyas were killed, many more homes, mosques, shops and orphanages were burned to the ground and there has been no international uproar as of yet.

- Ramzy Baroud ( is an internationally-syndicated columnist and the editor of His latest book is: My Father was A Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold Story (Pluto Press).

Who Shot Monsanto in the Foot?

Who shot Monsanto?

by Betty Krawczyk - Betty's Early Edition

They just shot themselves. It took seven years for the ammunition to get here, but the final bullet came last week.

The Associated Press reported today that the US Agriculture Depart announced last Wednesday that a lawsuit recently brought by an Oregon wheat farmer claiming that Monsanto’s genetically engineered experimental wheat (perfecting Roundup Ready Wheat) was found growing in his 80 acre field in Oregon is now being joined by other wheat farmers.

There has been no GMO wheat approved for human consumption in the US or Canada.

Although the wheat is the same strand that Monsanto was experimenting with, it was never approved. In fact, Monsanto claims they shut down the experiment seven years ago.

And while Monsanto does not deny that the wheat found in the farmer’s field is the same strand they were experimenting with (from 1998-2005) they don’t know how the GMO wheat got into the farmer’s field. They claim their experiments weren’t anywhere close to the farmer’s fields which make this news even scarier. But as there was, and is, no other agency experimenting with this kind of GMO wheat production according to reports, it can only be Monsanto’s wheat. But I think these law suits from individual farmers are the least of Monsanto’s worries.

Monsanto (and the wheat farmers) biggest worries have to be what these announcements (which are actually a week old, CBC is seriously amiss in this story) will do to foreign trade. The US exports half of its wheat crop. The rest of the world is uneasy about GMO foods and some Asian and European nations take a zero tolerance toward them. Japan and South Korea are already canceling orders for American wheat and the European Union has said it will test all US wheat and block any shipments found to contain genetically modified organisms.

Russia earlier has suspended the import and use of Roundup Ready corn made by Monsanto after the Caen Study in France found that rats fed with Roundup Ready Corn suffered more tumors and severe diseases than rats fed with regular corn. Some other countries are not far behind. With the US and Canada already finding growing resistance to all GMO products this final GMO wheat contamination will cause severe economic penalties for wheat growers and the US as a whole.

And what will the Harper government do? Continue to ignore the announcements as the CBC and other Canadian media is doing? Hope it will go away? But that border doesn’t mean anything to seeds borne on the winds. Is it too much to hope that the Canadian public might hear some in depth discussions about this dire threat and perhaps some assurance from the Canadian government?

Betty K | Blog:

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

We Are All Turks: What Turkey's Demonstrations Reveal

What is Happening in Istanbul?

by Sumandef - Insanlik Hali

To my friends who live outside of Turkey:

I am writing to let you know what is going on in Istanbul for the last five days. I personally have to write this because at the time of my writing most of the media sources are shut down by the government and the word of mouth and the internet are the only ways left for us to explain ourselves and call for help and support.

Last week of May 2013 a group of people most of whom did not belong to any specific organization or ideology got together in Istanbul’s Gezi Park.

Among them there were many of my friends and yoga students. Their reason was simple: To prevent and protest the upcoming demolishing of the park for the sake of building yet another shopping mall at very center of the city. There are numerous shopping malls in Istanbul, at least one in every neighborhood!

The tearing down of the trees was supposed to begin early Thursday morning. People went to the park with their blankets, books and children. They put their tents down and spent the night under the trees. Early in the morning when the bulldozers started to pull the hundred-year-old trees out of the ground, they stood up against them to stop the operation.

They did nothing other than standing in front of the machines.

No newspaper, no television channel was there to report the protest. It was a complete media black out.

But the police arrived with water cannon vehicles and pepper spray. They chased the crowds out of the park.

In the evening of May 31st the number of protesters multiplied. So did the number of police forces around the park. Meanwhile local government of Istanbul shut down all the ways leading up to Taksim square where the Gezi Park is located. The metro was shut down, ferries were cancelled, roads were blocked.

Yet more and more people made their way up to the center of the city by walking.

They came from all around Istanbul. They came from all different backgrounds, different ideologies, different religions. They all gathered to prevent the demolition of something bigger than the park:

The right to live as honorable citizens of this country.

They gathered and continued sitting in the park. The riot police set fire to the demonstrators’ tents and attacked them with pressurized water, pepper and tear gas during a night raid. Two young people were run over by the vehicles and were killed. Another young woman, a friend of mine, was hit in the head by one of the incoming tear gas canisters. The police were shooting them straight into the crowd. After a three hour operation she is still in Intensive Care Unit and in very critical condition. As I write this we don’t know if she is going to make it. This blog is dedicated to her.

These people are my friends. They are my students, my relatives. They have no «hidden agenda» as the state likes to say. Their agenda is out there. It is very clear. The whole country is being sold to corporations by the government, for the construction of malls, luxury condominiums, freeways, dams and nuclear plants. The government is looking for (and creating when necessary) any excuse to attack Syria against Turkish people’s will.

On top of all that, the government control over its people’s personal lives has become unbearable as of late. The state, under its conservative agenda passed many laws and regulations concerning abortion, cesarean birth, sale and use of alcohol and even the color of lipstick worn by the airline stewardesses.

People who are marching to the center of Istanbul are demanding their right to live freely and receive justice, protection and respect from the State. They demand to be involved in the decision-making processes about the city they live in.

What they have received instead is excessive force and enormous amounts of tear gas shot straight into their faces. Three people lost their eyes.

Yet they still march. Hundreds and thousands of citizens from all walks of life then joined them to support for the protestors. Couple of more thousand passed the Bosporus Bridge on foot to support the people of Taksim. They were met with more water cannons and more pepper spray, more hostility. Four people died, thousands of people were injured.

No newspaper or TV channel was there to report the events. They were busy with broadcasting news about Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.

Police kept chasing people and spraying them with pepper spray to an extent that stray dogs and cats were poisoned and died by it.

Schools, hospitals and even 5 star hotels around Taksim Square opened their doors to the injured. Doctors filled the classrooms and hotel rooms to provide first aid. Some police officers refused to spray innocent people with tear gas and quit their jobs. Around the square they placed jammers to prevent internet connection and 3g networks were blocked. Residents and businesses in the area provided free wireless network for the people on the streets. Restaurants offered food and water for free.

People in Ankara and İzmir gathered on the streets to support the resistance in Istanbul. Demonstations spread to other cities where citizens were faced more brutality and hostiliy from police. Hundred of thousands kept joining.

Mainstream media kept showing Miss Turkey and “the strangest cat of the world”.


I am writing this letter so that you know what is going on in Istanbul. Mass media will not tell you any of this. Not in my country at least. Please post as many as articles as you see on the Internet and spread the word.

I do not belong to a political party. I don’t believe in politics. I don’t defend any ideology and I am not on the side of any regime. Like many others in Turkey I am tired and frustrated from the polarization between Kemalist seculars and the Islamists. I don’t belong to any of them. I believe in moving away from polarization and towards a new way of relating. I know many people who are out on the streets of Istanbul share the way I think and I know we are not the only ones. We just want to live our lives with human dignity.

As I was posting articles that explained what is happening in Istanbul on my Facebook page last night someone asked me the following question:

«What are you hoping to gain by complaining about our country to foreigners?»

This blog is my answer to her.

By so called «complaining» about my country I am hoping to gain:

  • Freedom of expression and speech,
  • Respect for human rights,
  • Control over the decisions I make concerning my own body,
  • The right to legally congregate in any part of the city without being considered a terrorist.

But most of all by spreading the word to you, my friends who live in other parts of the world, I am hoping to get your awareness, support and help!

Please spread the word and share this blog.

Thank you!

For further info and things you can do for help please see Amnesty International’s Call for Urgent Help

Resisting These Dark Times

Advice from an Afghan Mother and Activist: "Resist These Dark Times"

by Kathy Kelly - Voices for Creative Non-Violence

When she was 24 years old, in 1979, Fahima Vorgetts left Afghanistan. By reputation, she had been outspoken, even rebellious, in her opposition to injustice and oppression; and family and friends, concerned for her safety, had urged her to go abroad. Twenty-three years later, returning for the first time to her homeland, she barely recognized war-torn streets in urban areas where she had once lived. She saw and felt the anguish of villagers who couldn’t feed or shelter their families, and no less able to accept such unjust suffering than she’d been half her life before, Fahima decided to make it her task to help alleviate the abysmal conditions faced by ordinary Afghans living at or below the poverty line - by helping to build independent women’s enterprises wherever she could. She trusted in the old adage that if a person is hungry it’s an even greater gift to teach the person how to fish than to only give the person fish.

Last week, our small delegation here in Kabul traveled around the city with her to visit several clinics and “shuras,” or women’s councils that she has opened.

The first clinic we visited has been here since 2006. Two women, a doctor and a midwife, told us that they are part of a staff who work in three shifts to keep the clinic open “24-7.” Not one of their patients has died while being treated at the clinic. Next we visited two villages, one Pashtun and the other Tajik, on the outskirts of Kabul.

“Why did you pick this village?” asked Jake Donaldson, an M.D. from Ventura, CA who joined us here in Kabul about a week ago. “I didn’t pick them,” Fahima exclaimed. “They picked me.”

A year previously, the villagers had asked her to build a clinic and a literacy center. She had told them that if they would agree to organize a women’s cooperative and pool their resources to hire teachers, midwives and nurses, she herself would build the physical building and help with supplies.

In each village, we visited a newly constructed building which will house a clinic, a women’s cooperative for jewelry-making, tailoring, and canning, a set of literacy classes for children and adults, and even a public shower which families can sign up to use. A young teacher invited us to step inside his classroom where about fifty children, girls and boys, were learning their alphabet in the first week of a literacy class. Several villagers proudly showed us the well they had dug, powered by a generator. The well will help them irrigate their land as well as supply clean drinking water for the village.

Before we left, a male village elder described to Fahima how valuable her work has been for his village. Fahima seemed to blush a bit as she gratefully acknowledged his compliment.

Such appreciative words, along with the children’s eager expressions, seem to be the main compensation for her tireless work. “I and the board members of The Afghan Women’s Fund are 100% volunteers,” Fahima assures me. “Our board members are people of tremendous integrity.” On the day before our tour, Fahima had come to the Afghan Peace Volunteer home to speak to the seamstresses who run a sewing cooperative here and encourage them to hold on at all costs to their dignity. She urged them never to prefer handouts to hard work in self-sustaining projects. Fahima had helped the seamstresses begin their cooperative effort at the Volunteer house when she purchased sewing machines for them a little over a year ago.

“Not all of the projects I’ve tried to start have worked out,” said Fahima. “Sometimes people are hampered by conservative values and some families don’t want to allow women to leave their homes. Most often, it is war or the security situation that prevents success.” 

She firmly believes that war will never solve problems in her country - or anywhere else, for that matter.

Fahima is outspoken, even blunt, as she speaks about warlords and war profiteers. She has good reason to be bitter over the cruelties inflicted on ordinary Afghans by all those interested in filling their own pockets and expanding control of Afghanistan’s resources. She advises the Afghan Peace Volunteers with the voice and love of a mother. “The world is gripped by a class war in which the 1% elite, irrespective of nationality or ethnicity and including the Afghan and U.S./NATO elite, have been ganging up to control, divide, oppress and profit from us, the ordinary 99%. Resist these ‘dark times’, resist war and weapons, educate yourselves, and work together in friendship.”

Fahima’s spirit of youthful rebellion clearly hasn’t been snuffed out by age or experience. Her practical compassion is like a compass for all of us who learn about her work.

Read more about the Afghan Women Fund.

Beating a Path to Oblivion: Humanity Imperiled and Imperiling the World

Humanity Imperiled: The Path to Disaster

by Noam Chomsky  - TomDispatch

What is the future likely to bring? A reasonable stance might be to try to look at the human species from the outside. 
So imagine that you’re an extraterrestrial observer who is trying to figure out what’s happening here or, for that matter, imagine you’re an historian 100 years from now -- assuming there are any historians 100 years from now, which is not obvious -- and you’re looking back at what’s happening today. 
You’d see something quite remarkable.

For the first time in the history of the human species, we have clearly developed the capacity to destroy ourselves. That’s been true since 1945. 
It’s now being finally recognized that there are more long-term processes like environmental destruction leading in the same direction, maybe not to total destruction, but at least to the destruction of the capacity for a decent existence.

And there are other dangers like pandemics, which have to do with globalization and interaction. So there are processes underway and institutions right in place, like nuclear weapons systems, which could lead to a serious blow to, or maybe the termination of, an organized existence. 
The question is: What are people doing about it? None of this is a secret. It’s all perfectly open. In fact, you have to make an effort not to see it.

Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, The Eve of Destruction

It didn’t take long. In the immediate aftermath of the dropping of the “victory weapon,” the atomic bomb, on two Japanese cities in August 1945, American fears and fantasies ran wild. Almost immediately, Americans began to reconceive themselves as potential victims of the bomb. In the scenarios of destruction that would populate newspapers, magazines, radio shows, and private imaginations, our cities were ringed with concentric circles of destruction and up to 10 million people in the U.S. and tens of millions elsewhere died horribly in a few days of imagined battle. Even victory, when it came in those first post-war years of futuristic dreams of destruction, had the look of defeat. And the two wartime American stories -- of triumphalism beyond imagining and ashes -- turned out to be incapable of cohabiting in the same forms. So the bomb fled the war movie (where it essentially never made an appearance) for the sci-fi flick in which stand-ins of every sort -- alien superweapons and radioactive reptilian and other mutant monsters -- destroyed the planet, endangered humanity, and pursued the young into every drive-in movie theater in the country.

As late as 1995, those two stories, the triumphalist end of “the Good War” and the disastrous beginning of the atomic age, still couldn’t inhabit the same space. In that 50th anniversary year, a planned exhibit at the National Air and Space Museum that was supposed to pair the gleaming fuselage of the Enola Gay, the B-29 that carried the first atomic bomb to Hiroshima, with the caramelized remains of a schoolchild's lunchbox (“No trace of Reiko Watanabe was ever found”) would be cancelled. The outrage from veterans' groups and the Republican right was just too much, the discomfort still too strong.

Until 1945, of course, the apocalypse had been the property of the Bible, and “end times” the province of God (and perhaps a budding branch of pulp lit called science fiction), but not of humanity. Since then, it’s been ours, and as it turned out, we were acting apocalyptically in ways that weren’t apparent in 1945, that weren’t attached to a single wonder weapon, and that remain difficult to grasp and even deal with now. With that in mind, and with thanks to Javier Navarro, we have adapted a video interview done with TomDispatch regular Noam Chomsky by What, the association Navarro helped to found. Reworked by Chomsky himself, it offers his thoughts on a perilous future that is distinctly in our hands. Tom

Humanity Imperiled: The Path to Disaster

by Noam Chomsky

How to Destroy a Planet Without Really Trying

There have been a range of reactions. There are those who are trying hard to do something about these threats, and others who are acting to escalate them. If you look at who they are, this future historian or extraterrestrial observer would see something strange indeed. Trying to mitigate or overcome these threats are the least developed societies, the indigenous populations, or the remnants of them, tribal societies and first nations in Canada. They’re not talking about nuclear war but environmental disaster, and they’re really trying to do something about it.

In fact, all over the world -- Australia, India, South America -- there are battles going on, sometimes wars. In India, it’s a major war over direct environmental destruction, with tribal societies trying to resist resource extraction operations that are extremely harmful locally, but also in their general consequences. In societies where indigenous populations have an influence, many are taking a strong stand. The strongest of any country with regard to global warming is in Bolivia, which has an indigenous majority and constitutional requirements that protect the “rights of nature.”

Ecuador, which also has a large indigenous population, is the only oil exporter I know of where the government is seeking aid to help keep that oil in the ground, instead of producing and exporting it -- and the ground is where it ought to be.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, who died recently and was the object of mockery, insult, and hatred throughout the Western world, attended a session of the U.N. General Assembly a few years ago where he elicited all sorts of ridicule for calling George W. Bush a devil. He also gave a speech there that was quite interesting. Of course, Venezuela is a major oil producer. Oil is practically their whole gross domestic product. In that speech, he warned of the dangers of the overuse of fossil fuels and urged producer and consumer countries to get together and try to work out ways to reduce fossil fuel use. That was pretty amazing on the part of an oil producer. You know, he was part Indian, of indigenous background. Unlike the funny things he did, this aspect of his actions at the U.N. was never even reported.

So, at one extreme you have indigenous, tribal societies trying to stem the race to disaster. At the other extreme, the richest, most powerful societies in world history, like the United States and Canada, are racing full-speed ahead to destroy the environment as quickly as possible. Unlike Ecuador, and indigenous societies throughout the world, they want to extract every drop of hydrocarbons from the ground with all possible speed.

Both political parties, President Obama, the media, and the international press seem to be looking forward with great enthusiasm to what they call “a century of energy independence” for the United States. Energy independence is an almost meaningless concept, but put that aside. What they mean is: we’ll have a century in which to maximize the use of fossil fuels and contribute to destroying the world.

And that’s pretty much the case everywhere. Admittedly, when it comes to alternative energy development, Europe is doing something. Meanwhile, the United States, the richest and most powerful country in world history, is the only nation among perhaps 100 relevant ones that doesn’t have a national policy for restricting the use of fossil fuels, that doesn’t even have renewable energy targets. It’s not because the population doesn’t want it. Americans are pretty close to the international norm in their concern about global warming. It’s institutional structures that block change. Business interests don’t want it and they’re overwhelmingly powerful in determining policy, so you get a big gap between opinion and policy on lots of issues, including this one.

So that’s what the future historian -- if there is one -- would see. He might also read today’s scientific journals. Just about every one you open has a more dire prediction than the last.

“The Most Dangerous Moment in History”

The other issue is nuclear war. It’s been known for a long time that if there were to be a first strike by a major power, even with no retaliation, it would probably destroy civilization just because of the nuclear-winter consequences that would follow. You can read about it in the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. It’s well understood. So the danger has always been a lot worse than we thought it was.

We’ve just passed the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which was called “the most dangerous moment in history” by historian Arthur Schlesinger, President John F. Kennedy’s advisor. Which it was. It was a very close call, and not the only time either. In some ways, however, the worst aspect of these grim events is that the lessons haven’t been learned.

What happened in the missile crisis in October 1962 has been prettified to make it look as if acts of courage and thoughtfulness abounded. The truth is that the whole episode was almost insane. There was a point, as the missile crisis was reaching its peak, when Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev wrote to Kennedy offering to settle it by a public announcement of a withdrawal of Russian missiles from Cuba and U.S. missiles from Turkey. Actually, Kennedy hadn’t even known that the U.S. had missiles in Turkey at the time. They were being withdrawn anyway, because they were being replaced by more lethal Polaris nuclear submarines, which were invulnerable.

So that was the offer. Kennedy and his advisors considered it -- and rejected it. At the time, Kennedy himself was estimating the likelihood of nuclear war at a third to a half. So Kennedy was willing to accept a very high risk of massive destruction in order to establish the principle that we -- and only we -- have the right to offensive missiles beyond our borders, in fact anywhere we like, no matter what the risk to others -- and to ourselves, if matters fall out of control. We have that right, but no one else does.

Kennedy did, however, accept a secret agreement to withdraw the missiles the U.S. was already withdrawing, as long as it was never made public. Khrushchev, in other words, had to openly withdraw the Russian missiles while the U.S. secretly withdrew its obsolete ones; that is, Khrushchev had to be humiliated and Kennedy had to maintain his macho image. He’s greatly praised for this: courage and coolness under threat, and so on. The horror of his decisions is not even mentioned -- try to find it on the record.

And to add a little more, a couple of months before the crisis blew up the United States had sent missiles with nuclear warheads to Okinawa. These were aimed at China during a period of great regional tension.

Well, who cares? We have the right to do anything we want anywhere in the world. That was one grim lesson from that era, but there were others to come.

Ten years after that, in 1973, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger called a high-level nuclear alert. It was his way of warning the Russians not to interfere in the ongoing Israel-Arab war and, in particular, not to interfere after he had informed the Israelis that they could violate a ceasefire the U.S. and Russia had just agreed upon. Fortunately, nothing happened.

Ten years later, President Ronald Reagan was in office. Soon after he entered the White House, he and his advisors had the Air Force start penetrating Russian air space to try to elicit information about Russian warning systems, Operation Able Archer. Essentially, these were mock attacks. The Russians were uncertain, some high-level officials fearing that this was a step towards a real first strike. Fortunately, they didn’t react, though it was a close call. And it goes on like that.

What to Make of the Iranian and North Korean Nuclear Crises

At the moment, the nuclear issue is regularly on front pages in the cases of North Korea and Iran. There are ways to deal with these ongoing crises. Maybe they wouldn’t work, but at least you could try. They are, however, not even being considered, not even reported.

Take the case of Iran, which is considered in the West -- not in the Arab world, not in Asia -- the gravest threat to world peace. It’s a Western obsession, and it’s interesting to look into the reasons for it, but I’ll put that aside here. Is there a way to deal with the supposed gravest threat to world peace? Actually there are quite a few. One way, a pretty sensible one, was proposed a couple of months ago at a meeting of the non-aligned countries in Tehran. In fact, they were just reiterating a proposal that’s been around for decades, pressed particularly by Egypt, and has been approved by the U.N. General Assembly.

The proposal is to move toward establishing a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. That wouldn’t be the answer to everything, but it would be a pretty significant step forward. And there were ways to proceed. Under U.N. auspices, there was to be an international conference in Finland last December to try to implement plans to move toward this. What happened?

You won’t read about it in the newspapers because it wasn’t reported -- only in specialist journals. In early November, Iran agreed to attend the meeting. A couple of days later Obama cancelled the meeting, saying the time wasn’t right. The European Parliament issued a statement calling for it to continue, as did the Arab states. Nothing resulted. So we’ll move toward ever-harsher sanctions against the Iranian population -- it doesn’t hurt the regime -- and maybe war. Who knows what will happen?

In Northeast Asia, it’s the same sort of thing. North Korea may be the craziest country in the world. It’s certainly a good competitor for that title. But it does make sense to try to figure out what’s in the minds of people when they’re acting in crazy ways. Why would they behave the way they do? Just imagine ourselves in their situation. Imagine what it meant in the Korean War years of the early 1950s for your country to be totally leveled, everything destroyed by a huge superpower, which furthermore was gloating about what it was doing. Imagine the imprint that would leave behind.

Bear in mind that the North Korean leadership is likely to have read the public military journals of this superpower at that time explaining that, since everything else in North Korea had been destroyed, the air force was sent to destroy North Korea’s dams, huge dams that controlled the water supply -- a war crime, by the way, for which people were hanged in Nuremberg. And these official journals were talking excitedly about how wonderful it was to see the water pouring down, digging out the valleys, and the Asians scurrying around trying to survive. The journals were exulting in what this meant to those “Asians,” horrors beyond our imagination. It meant the destruction of their rice crop, which in turn meant starvation and death. How magnificent! It’s not in our memory, but it’s in their memory.

Let’s turn to the present. There’s an interesting recent history. In 1993, Israel and North Korea were moving towards an agreement in which North Korea would stop sending any missiles or military technology to the Middle East and Israel would recognize that country. President Clinton intervened and blocked it. Shortly after that, in retaliation, North Korea carried out a minor missile test. The U.S. and North Korea did then reach a framework agreement in 1994 that halted its nuclear work and was more or less honored by both sides. When George W. Bush came into office, North Korea had maybe one nuclear weapon and verifiably wasn’t producing any more.

Bush immediately launched his aggressive militarism, threatening North Korea -- “axis of evil” and all that -- so North Korea got back to work on its nuclear program. By the time Bush left office, they had eight to 10 nuclear weapons and a missile system, another great neocon achievement. In between, other things happened. In 2005, the U.S. and North Korea actually reached an agreement in which North Korea was to end all nuclear weapons and missile development. In return, the West, but mainly the United States, was to provide a light-water reactor for its medical needs and end aggressive statements. They would then form a nonaggression pact and move toward accommodation.

It was pretty promising, but almost immediately Bush undermined it. He withdrew the offer of the light-water reactor and initiated programs to compel banks to stop handling any North Korean transactions, even perfectly legal ones. The North Koreans reacted by reviving their nuclear weapons program. And that’s the way it’s been going.

It’s well known. You can read it in straight, mainstream American scholarship. What they say is: it’s a pretty crazy regime, but it’s also following a kind of tit-for-tat policy. You make a hostile gesture and we’ll respond with some crazy gesture of our own. You make an accommodating gesture and we’ll reciprocate in some way.

Lately, for instance, there have been South Korean-U.S. military exercises on the Korean peninsula which, from the North’s point of view, have got to look threatening. We’d think they were threatening if they were going on in Canada and aimed at us. In the course of these, the most advanced bombers in history, Stealth B-2s and B-52s, are carrying out simulated nuclear bombing attacks right on North Korea’s borders.

This surely sets off alarm bells from the past. They remember that past, so they’re reacting in a very aggressive, extreme way. Well, what comes to the West from all this is how crazy and how awful the North Korean leaders are. Yes, they are. But that’s hardly the whole story, and this is the way the world is going.

It’s not that there are no alternatives. The alternatives just aren’t being taken. That’s dangerous. So if you ask what the world is going to look like, it’s not a pretty picture. Unless people do something about it. We always can.

Noam Chomsky is Institute Professor Emeritus in the MIT Department of Linguistics and Philosophy. A TomDispatch regular, he is the author of numerous best-selling political works, including Hopes and Prospects, Making the Future, and most recently (with interviewer David Barsamian), Power Systems: Conversations on Global Democratic Uprisings and the New Challenges to U.S. Empire (The American Empire Project, Metropolitan Books).

[Note: This piece was adapted (with the help of Noam Chomsky) from an online video interview done by the website What, which is dedicated to integrating knowledge from different fields with the aim of encouraging the balance between the individual, society, and the environment.]

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Noam Chomsky