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Chris Hedges: ‘The Greatest Evil is War’

Chris Hedges: ‘The Greatest Evil is War’

Tomas was crippled for a war that should never have been fought. He was crippled for the lies of politicians. He was crippled for war profiteers. He was crippled for the careers of generals. 

Excerpts from the author’s new book, The Greatest Evil is War.

I flew to Kansas City [in 2013] to see Tomas Young. Tomas was paralyzed in Iraq in 2004. He was receiving hospice care at his home. I knew him by reputation and the movie documentary Body of War. He was one of the first veterans to publicly oppose the war in Iraq. He fought as long and as hard as he could against the war that crippled him, until his physical deterioration caught up with him.

“I had been toying with the idea of suicide for a long time because I had become helpless,” he told me in his small house on the Kansas City outskirts where he intended to die. “I couldn’t dress myself. People have to help me with the most rudimentary of things. I decided I did not want to go through life like that anymore. The pain, the frustration.…”

He stopped abruptly and called his wife. “Claudia, can I get some water?” She opened a bottle of water, took a swig so it would not spill when he sipped, and handed it to him.

“I felt at the end of my rope,” the 33-year-old Army veteran went on. “I made the decision to go on hospice care, to stop feeding and fade away. This way, instead of committing the conventional suicide and I am out of the picture, people have a way to stop by or call and say their goodbyes. I felt this was a fairer way to treat people than to just go out with a note…

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JOHN PILGER: Silencing the Lambs — How Propaganda Works

JOHN PILGER: Silencing the Lambs — How Propaganda Works

Leni Riefenstahl said her epic films glorifying the Nazis depended on a “submissive void” in the German public. This is how propaganda is done.

Leni Riefenstahl, center, filming with two assistants, 1936. (Bundesarchiv, CC-BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia Commons)

In the 1970s, I met one of Hitler’s leading propagandists, Leni Riefenstahl, whose epic films glorified the Nazis. We happened to be staying at the same lodge in Kenya, where she was on a photography assignment, having escaped the fate of other friends of the Fuhrer.

She told me that the “patriotic messages” of her films were dependent not on “orders from above” but on what she called the “submissive void” of the German public.

Did that include the liberal, educated bourgeoisie? I asked.  “Yes, especially them,” she said.

I think of this as I look around at the propaganda now consuming Western societies.

Of course, we are very different from Germany in the 1930s. We live in information societies. We are globalists. We have never been more aware, more in touch, better connected.

Or do we in the West live in a Media Society where brainwashing is insidious and relentless, and perception is filtered according to the needs and lies of state and corporate power?

The United States dominates the Western world’s media. All but one of the top 10 media companies are based in North America. The internet and social media – Google, Twitter, Facebook – are mostly American owned and controlled.

In my lifetime, the United States has overthrown or attempted to overthrow more than 50 governments, mostly democracies. It has interfered in democratic elections in 30 countries. It has dropped bombs on the people of 30 countries, most of them poor and defenceless. It has attempted to murder the leaders of 50 countries.  It has fought to suppress liberation movements in 20 countries.

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The Three Types of US ‘Regime Change’

The Three Types of US ‘Regime Change’

When the U.S. overthrows a foreign government it either works from the top down, the bottom up, or through military invasion, writes Joe Lauria.

Chilean presidential palace during U.S.-backed coup, Sept. 11, 1973. (Library of the Chilean National Congress/Wikipedia)

Throughout the long, documented history of the United States illegally overthrowing governments of foreign lands to build a global empire there has emerged three ways Washington broadly carries out “regime change.”

From Above. If the targeted leader has been democratically elected and enjoys popular support, the C.I.A. has worked with elite groups, such as the military, to overthrow him (sometimes through assassination).  Among several examples is the first C.I.A-backed coup d’état, on March 30, 1949,  just 18 months after the agency’s founding, when Syrian Army Colonel Husni al-Za’im overthrew the elected president, Shukri al-Quwatli.

The C.I.A. in 1954 toppled the elected President Jacobo Árbenz  of Guatemala, who was replaced with a military dictator. In 1961, just three days before the inauguration of President John F. Kennedy, who favored his release, Congolese President Patrice Lumumba was assassinated with C.I.A. assistance, bringing military strongman Mobutu Sese Seko to power.  In 1973, the U.S. backed Chilean General Augusto Pinochet to overthrow and kill the democratically-elected, socialist President Salvador Allende, setting up a military dictatorship, one of many U.S.-installed military dictatorships of that era in Latin America under Operation Condor.

From Below. If the targeted government faces genuine popular unrest, the U.S. will foment and organize it to topple the leader, elected or otherwise.  1958-59 anti-communist protests in Kerala, India, locally supported by the Congress Party and the Catholic Church, were funded by the C.I.A., leading to the removal of the elected communist government…

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WATCH: Assange: Can Exposure Bring Justice?

WATCH: Assange: Can Exposure Bring Justice?

Join Fidel Narváez, former consul at the Ecuador embassy in London, and John Kiriakou, former C.I.A. officer and CN columnist, discussing Julian Assange’s case.  Produced by the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, WI. Watch the replay.  

What really went down at the Ecuadorian Embassy that allegedly triggered the C.I.A. plot to kidnap or kill Julian Assange? Former consul general at the embassy for over 6 years Fidel Narváez, tells the inside story.  John Kiriakou explains what it’s really like inside a U.S. prison.

John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

John Pilger: A Judicial Kidnapping

Julian Assange’s High Court judges offered no mitigation, no suggestion that they had agonised over legalities or even basic morality, writes John Pilger.

Let us look at ourselves, if we have the courage, to see what is happening to us” –-  Jean-Paul Sartre.

Sartre’s words should echo in all our minds following the grotesque decision of Britain’s High Court to extradite Julian Assange to the United States where he faces “a living death”. This is his punishment for the crime of authentic, accurate, courageous, vital journalism.

Miscarriage of justice is an inadequate term in these circumstances. It took the bewigged courtiers of Britain’s ancien regime just nine minutes on Friday to uphold an American appeal against a District Court judge’s acceptance in January of a cataract of evidence that hell on earth awaited Assange across the Atlantic: a hell in which, it was expertly predicted, he would find a way to take his own life.

Volumes of witness by people of distinction, who examined and studied Julian and diagnosed his autism and his Asperger’s Syndrome and revealed that he had already come within an ace of killing himself at Belmarsh prison, Britain’s very own hell, were ignored.

The recent confession of a crucial F.B.I. informant and prosecution stooge, a fraudster and serial liar, that he had fabricated his evidence against Julian was ignored. The revelation that the Spanish-run security firm at the Ecuadorean embassy in London, where Julian had been granted political refuge, was a C.I.A. front that spied on Julian’s lawyers and doctors and confidants (myself included) – that, too, was ignored.

Collage of UC Global surveillance photos made for C.I.A. inside Ecuador embassy.  (Cathy Vogan)

The recent journalistic disclosure, repeated graphically by defence counsel before the High Court in October, that the C.I.A. had planned to murder Julian in London – even that was ignored.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

COP26: Uberizing Farms to Save the Climate

COP26: Uberizing Farms to Save the Climate

At COP26, there was a notable silence around the distorted food system that pollutes the Earth and our bodies, writes Vijay Prashad.

Mining Cryptocurrency, 2021. (Tricontinental: Institute for Social Research)

As the last private plane took off from the Glasgow airport and the dust settled, the detritus of the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference, COP26, remains.

The final communiqués are slowly being digested, their limited scope inevitable. António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, closed the proceedings by painting two dire images: “Our fragile planet is hanging by a thread. We are still knocking on the door of climate catastrophe. It is time to go into emergency mode — or our chance of reaching net zero will itself be zero.”

The loudest cheer in the main hall did not erupt when this final verdict was announced, but when it was proclaimed that the next COP would be held in Cairo in 2022. It seems enough to know that another COP will take place.

An army of corporate executives and lobbyists crowded the official COP26 platforms; in the evening, their cocktail parties entertained government officials.

While the cameras focused on official speeches, the real business was being done in these evening parties and in private rooms. The very people who are most responsible for the climate catastrophe shaped many of the proposals that were brought to the table at COP26.

Meanwhile, climate activists had to resort to making as loud a noise as possible far from the Scottish Exchange Campus (SEC Centre), where the summit was hosted.

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Méxican Seeds

Méxican Seeds

Last month’s ruling by the country’s Supreme Court fuels sustainable farming worldwide, writes Ernesto Hernández-López.

Mexico’s Supreme Court in Mexico City. (Ricardo Daniel Maldonado, CC BY-SA 4.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Last month México’s Supreme Court provided hope for biodiversity, especially in the Global South, while flaming fear for seed companies. In a historic step, it ruled for corn advocates and against genetically modified (GMO) corn. The decision was a momentous act in country where maíz (corn) carries daily and sacred significance.

This promises a way out of stale GMO debates that plague us. One side argues that genetic changes to seeds increase harvests. Seed companies and industrial agriculture make up this side. Another side says GMOs damage plant DNA.

Small-scale farmers and environmentalists stand on this side. Neither addresses the other. This standstill keeps GMO policies ineffective. The court’s decision offers a path out of this by cutting at seed company positions.

We should follow slow grown Mexican resistance to GMOs.

By emphasizing biodiversity, the ruling fuels sustainable farming worldwide. In legal terms, the decision found that it is constitutional for courts to block commercial permits for GMO corn. 

Seed companies, like Monsanto, Syngenta, Dow, and PHI, need these to sell seeds in México. They lost.  

Global GMO Push 

Inside the COP26 climate conference in Glasgow, Scotland, in early November. (UNclimatechange, Flickr)

But much more is at stake than permits and court orders. These agrochemical companies pursue a global push for GMO agriculture, not just in México. Farmers worldwide worry that companies control GMO seed use (not growers) and that seeds cause permanent environmental harm.

Frustrations persistently spread, evident at this year’s UN COP26 and UN global food summit.

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Corporate Greed the ‘Real Culprit Behind Rising Prices,’ Researchers Say

Corporate Greed the ‘Real Culprit Behind Rising Prices,’ Researchers Say

“The more sway mega-corporations have over our economy, the more power they have to gouge customers, squeeze Main Street, and exploit workers.”

Amid mounting data showing that people are paying more for food at grocery stores around the United States, a new analysis out Wednesday reveals how corporate power is “the real culprit behind rising prices at the checkout line.”

“Addressing this crisis means recognizing these price increases for what they are: the result of deeply entrenched concentrated corporate power.”

After the U.S. Labor Department announced that the Consumer Price Index increased by 0.4% in September, researchers at the Groundwork Collaborative, a progressive think tank, explained the connections between “price hikes, monopoly, and corporate greed.”

“The more sway mega-corporations have over our economy, the more power they have to gouge customers, squeeze Main Street, and exploit workers,” Rakeen Mabud, chief economist at the Groundwork Collaborative, said in a statement.

Since September 2020, food prices overall have increased by 4.6%, with the price of meats, poultry, fish, and eggs surging the most over the past 12 months, at 10.5%.

The higher inflation rate in those industries, researchers noted, can be attributed to decades of consolidation, which has given a handful of corporations an ever-greater degree of market control and with it, the power to set prices.

According to the Groundwork Collaborative:

Just four meat processing conglomerates control more than 80% of the beef industry and more than 60% of the pork industry. This enables them to dictate prices that both flatten returns for farmers and ranchers and inflate prices for consumers at the meat counter. As a result, consumers have seen a 12% increase in the cost of beef and a nearly 10% increase in the cost of pork over the last year…

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The old wars are over. Welcome to Biden’s new wars

The old wars are over. Welcome to Biden’s new wars

Biden begins his first address to the UN General Assemble with a lie: “…the U.S. is not at war.” —

Joe Lauria

“Joe Biden, in his first address to the United Nations General Assembly, told world leaders Tuesday: ‘I stand here today, for the first time in 20 years, with the United States not at war.’ According to the latest available White House war report, the U.S. was involved in seven wars in 2018: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Libya, and Niger. The U.S. withdrew last month from Afghanistan, so the number of current U.S. wars is likely six.  Likely because in an age of so-called counter-terrorism operations it’s not entirely clear where U.S. forces are deployed. … In any case, the United States is not at peace, as Biden implied. With 800 military bases and installations around the world the U.S. remains perpetually on a war footing. … After leaving Afghanistan last month Biden indicated the Pentagon’s attention would focus even more intently on Russia and China. The controversial, new U.S.-U.K.-Australia defense pact is clearly aimed at Beijing. Unlike Obama, Biden did not utter the words Russia or China in his speech.  Instead he condemned them under the coded language of  ‘authoritarianism.’ War is over. Welcome to the new war.” —Joe Lauria, Consortium News

Joe Lauria is editor-in-chief of Consortium News and a former UN correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, Boston Globe, and numerous other newspapers. He was an investigative reporter for the Sunday Times of London

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Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

Share prices of military manufacturers vastly outperformed the stock market overall during the Afghanistan War.

May 25, 2002: Two U.S. Army CH-47 Chinook helicopters land at Bagram Airfield in Parwan, Afghanistan, after completing a mission. (U.S. National Archives)

As the hawks who have been lying about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan for two decades continue to peddle fantasies in the midst of a Taliban takeover and American evacuation of Kabul, progressive critics on Tuesday reminded the world who has benefited from the “endless war.”

“Entrenching U.S. forces in Afghanistan was the military-industrial complex’s business plan for 20+ years,” declared the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Public Citizen.

[Related: A People’s Guide to the War IndustryPart 1 and  Part 2 and Part 3 and Part 4 and Part 5.]

“Hawks and defense contractors co-opted the needs of the Afghan people in order to line their own pockets,” the group added. “Never has it been more important to end war profiteering.”

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Public Citizen highlighted returns on defense stocks over the past 20 years — as calculated in a “jaw-dropping” analysis by The Intercept — and asserted that “the military-industrial complex got exactly what it wanted out of this war.”

The Intercept‘s Jon Schwarz examined returns on stocks of the five biggest defense contractors: Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Schwarz found that a $10,000 investment in stock evenly split across those five companies on the day in 2001 that then-President Georg W. Bush signed the authorization preceding the U.S. invasion would be worth $97,295 this week, not adjusted for inflation, taxes, or fees.

According to The Intercept:

“This is a far greater return than was available in the overall stock market over the same period. $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on September 18, 2001, would now be worth $61,613.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Craig Murray: The Decline of Western Power

Craig Murray: The Decline of Western Power

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t.

U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson and other leaders of the G7 watch the Red Arrows fly over in Carbis Bay, June 12. (Simon Dawson, No 10 Downing Street, Flickr)

Boris Johnson sees himself as the heritor of a world bestriding Imperial mantle, but in truth he cannot bestride the Irish Sea. The overshadowing of last month’s G7 summit by the U.K. prime minister’s peculiar concern that Irish sausages should not be eaten by those in Northern Ireland who do not believe in evolution, was a fascinating examplar of British impotence as he failed to persuade anybody else to support him. It looks like Danish bacon for the shops of Belfast and Derry will have to be imported through Dun Laoghaire and not through Larne. Ho hum.

The really interesting thing about the G7 summit is that it wasn’t interesting. Nobody expected it to change the world, and it won’t. John Pilger pointed out the key fact. Twenty years ago, the G7 constituted two thirds of the world economy. Now they constitute one third. They don’t even represent most of the world’s billionaires any longer, though those billionaires they do represent — and indeed some of the billionaires they don’t represent — were naturally pulling the strings of these rather sluggish puppets.

It used to be that any important sporting event in any developing country would feature hoardings for western multinationals, such as Pepsi Cola and Nestle baby milk. Nowadays I am watching the Euros football pitches surrounded by electronic hoardings in Chinese. The thing about power is this; it shifts with time.

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Why Israel Blows Up Media Offices & Targets Journalists

Why Israel Blows Up Media Offices & Targets Journalists

Rather than reduce the cruelty, the Israeli government keeps trying to reduce accurate news coverage, writes Norman Solomon.

Palestinian solidarity demonstration in New York City on May 11. (Andrew Ratto, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

Israel’s missile attack on media offices in Gaza City last weekend was successful. A gratifying response came quickly from the head of The Associated Press, which had a bureau in the building for 15 years: “The world will know less about what is happening in Gaza because of what happened today.”

For people who care about truth, that’s outrageous. For the Israeli government, that’s terrific.

The AP president, Gary Pruitt, said “we are shocked and horrified that the Israeli military would target and destroy the building housing AP’s bureau and other news organizations in Gaza.”

There’s ample reason to be horrified. But not shocked.

Israel’s military began threatening and targeting journalists several decades ago, in tandem with its longstanding cruel treatment of Palestinians. Rather than reduce the cruelty, the Israeli government keeps trying to reduce accurate news coverage.

The approach is a mix of deception and brutality. Blow up the cameras so the world won’t see as many pictures of the atrocities.

Of course, there’s no need to interfere with journalists documenting the also awful — while relatively few — deaths of Israelis due to rockets fired by Hamas. In recent days the Israeli government has spotlighted such visuals, some of them grimly authentic, others fake.

The suffering in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is tragically real on both sides, while vastly asymmetrical. During the last 10 days, as reported by the BBC, 219 people have been killed in Gaza. In Israel, the number was 10. In Gaza, at least 63 of the dead were children. In Israel, two.

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Big Ag’s Wedding to Big Data

Big Ag’s Wedding to Big Data

Jomo Kwame Sundara warns about how the Davos World Economic Forum’s  much touted “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (IR4.0) is transforming food systems. For instance, agriculture is now second only to the military in drone use. 

(DJI-Agras from Pixabay)

Producers and consumers seem helpless as food all over the world comes under fast growing corporate control. Such changes have also been worsening environmental collapse, social dislocation and the human condition.

The recent joint report – by the International Panel of Experts on Sustainable Food Systems (IPES-Food) and the ETC Action Group on Erosion, Technology and Concentration – is ominous, to say the least.

A Long Food Movement,” principally authored by Pat Mooney with a team including IPES-Food Director Nick Jacobs, analyses how food systems are likely to evolve over the next quarter century with technological and other changes.

The report notes that hi-tech data processing and asset management corporations have joined established agribusinesses in reshaping world food supply chains.

If current trends continue, the food system will be increasingly controlled by large transnational corporations (TNCs) at the expense of billions of farmers and consumers.

Davos’ IR4.0 Not Benign

The Davos World Economic Forum’s (WEF) much touted “Fourth Industrial Revolution” (IR4.0), promoting digitization, is transforming food systems, accelerating concentration in corporate hands.

New apps enable better tracking across supply chains, while “precision farming” now includes using drones to spray pesticides on targeted crops, reducing inputs and, potentially, farming costs. Agriculture is now second only to the military in drone use.

“Shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution” session at the annual World Economic Forum in Davos, Jan. 25, 2018. (World Economic Forum, CC BY-NC-SA 2.0)

Digital giants are working with other TNCs to extend enabling “cloud computing” infrastructure. Spreading as quickly as the infrastructure allows, new ‘digital ag’ technologies have been displacing farm labour.

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Corporate Media’s War to Snuff Out Independent Journalism

Corporate Media’s War to Snuff Out Independent Journalism

Journalist Jonathan Cook’s searing talk at the International Festival of Whistleblowing, Dissent and Accountability on Saturday on the counterattack from legacy media.

By Jonathan Cook
Jonathan-Cook.net

I wanted to use this opportunity to talk about my experiences over the past two decades working with new technology as an independent freelance journalist, one who abandoned – or maybe more accurately, was abandoned by – what we usually call the “mainstream” media.

Looking back over that period, I have come to appreciate that I was among the first generation of journalists to break free of the corporate media – in my case, The Guardian – and ride this wave of new technology. In doing so, we liberated ourselves from the narrow editorial restrictions such media imposes on us as journalists and were still able to find an audience, even if a diminished one.

More and more journalists are following a similar path today – a few out of choice, and more out of necessity as corporate media becomes increasingly unprofitable. But as journalists seek to liberate themselves from the strictures of the old corporate media, that same corporate media is working very hard to characterise the new technology as a threat to media freedoms.

This self-serving argument should be treated with a great deal of scepticism. I want to use my own experiences to argue that quite the reverse is true. And that the real danger is allowing the corporate media to reassert its monopoly over narrating the world to us.

‘Mainstream’ Consensus

I left my job at the The Guardian newspaper group in 2001. Had I tried to become an independent journalist 10 years earlier than I did, it would have been professional suicide. In fact, it would have been a complete non-starter…

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A Hunger Strike Against Big Oil

A Hunger Strike Against Big Oil

Ann Wright reports on Diane Wilson’s stand against channel dredging in mercury-laden Matagorda Bay, Texas. 

Diane Wilson in mid April. (Diane Wilson)

Texas shrimper, fisherwoman, author and internationally known environmentalist Diane Wilson on Monday was on Day 27 of her hunger strike to gain national solidarity and publicity to pressure the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind its permit for big oil to dredge a channel in mercury-laden Matagorda Bay, Texas.

The dredged channel would allow massive oil tankers into the bay to take on crude oil that will be exported from the U.S.

“I am risking my life to stop the reckless destruction of my community. Oil and gas export terminals like the project I am fighting pollute our air, water, and climate — only to pad the pockets of fossil fuel CEOs,” said Diane Wilson. “The Biden administration needs to stop the dredging and stop oil and gas exports.”

The Army Corp of Engineers is not commenting.

Expansion of Ship Channel

Wilson is challenging the dredging operation funded by Houston-based oil and gas firm Max Midstream to expand the Matagorda Ship Channel in order to bring massive ships into the oil terminals to increase global oil exports out of Texas. The dredging will stir up mercury contamination in the area around the 3,500-acre Alcoa Superfund Lavaca Bay site, one of the largest polluted areas in the U.S., as well as covering up 700 acres of oyster reefs and increasing salinity in the bay, which would devastate local fisheries. The U.S. government has issued pollution reports over the past 30 years concerning the dangerous levels of mercury contamination from the Alcoa site.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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