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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.

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

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

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…

Britain’s Secret Political Police

Britain’s Secret Political Police

A who’s who of the U.K. radical left over the past half century was infiltrated by “spycops,” reports Asa Winstanley, who has personal involvement with this story. 

New Scotland Yard, headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Service, the territorial police force responsible for policing most of London. (Can Pac Swire, Flickr, CC BY-NC 2.0)

In December 2018 I received a text message that changed my life.

“Do you know anyone involved in [the] UK group of [the] International Solidarity Movement?”  it read. A public inquiry had released the name of “an undercover officer who apparently infiltrated them – Rob Harrison.”

Long buried memories slowly began to surface. I knew that name.

In my mid-20s I had indeed been involved with the International Solidarity Movement, known as ISM, first as a volunteer in Palestine and later with their U.K. chapter, ISM London. Rob had been a friend – or so I’d thought. We’d drunk in the same pubs, I’d danced to the records he’d spun as a DJ at fundraisers and we’d endured the same interminable meetings together.

But all along he’d secretly been an undercover British police officer, leading a double life and reporting who-knows-what to the authorities.

I swiftly turned to my old emails and found dozens from “Robert Harrison.” He’d even offered to drive me to the airport on one trip to Palestine. Luckily, I had declined.

There was no doubt – it was the same man. The man we’d thought had been our friend had actually been a spy for the state all along.

Looking back at that text message now, I think I was in shock and experienced some sort of trauma. I processed all this by snapping into professional mode – it would make a great story. And I was well placed to tell it. I called around some of my old comrades.

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


Biden DOJ Files Appeal to Get Assange Extradited 

Biden DOJ Files Appeal to Get Assange Extradited 

The U.S. has filed an appeal with the High Court in London to reverse a decision by a British judge not to extradite the WikiLeaks publisher on health grounds.

The liberal administration of Joe Biden proved itself to be no less an enemy of press freedom than Donald Trump when it filed an appeal at the UK High Court on Friday to get their hands on the journalist Julian Assange.

The appeal seeks to overturn a decision by Magistrate Vanessa Baraitser, who on Jan. 4, ruled that the WikiLeaks publisher was at heightened risk of suicide if he were to be extradited to the United States and face life in a U.S. super max prison.

Amnesty International on Thursday had joined an array of press freedom and human rights organizations, including Reporters Without Borders and Human Rights Watch, in urging the Biden administration to drop the case against Assange.  But it fell on deaf ears in Washington.

Biden was vice president in the Barack Obama administration, which decided not to prosecute Assange in 2011 essentially on press freedom grounds, reasoning that if it indicted Assange for journalistic activity, then it would have to also prosecute The New York Times and other mainstream media for the exact same activity.  Biden has broken with his former administration.

Biden had another opportunity to show that he was the “decent” man his supporters say he is and to dissociate himself from the illiberal, indeed, extremist views of his predecessor.  Instead this decision is in line with a politician who was the most important Democratic proponent of the illegal invasion of Iraq, whose war crimes Assange exposed.

consortium news, julian assange, wikilieaks, united states, us doj, us department of justice, joe biden

Three-Card Monte, Wall Street-Style

Three-Card Monte, Wall Street-Style

Their operation was in jeopardy, their ‘business model’ at risk. Their reaction was typical for the brazen barons of finance, writes Michael Brenner.

Surer than Three Card Monte, from the Tricks with Cards series (N138) Duke, Sons & Co. to promote Honest Long Cut Tobacco, 1887. (Metropolitan Museum of Art/Jefferson R. Burdick Collection)

This week witnessed an historic event – one that deserves to be memorialized. A band of financial speculators were beaten at their own game, losing $3 billion. A bunch of clever young guys used the hedge fund’s own methods to turn the tables on them.

For years, those white-collar cheats have been dealing 3-card monte on Wall Street with impunity. Now, their operation was in jeopardy, their ‘business model’ at risk. Their reaction was typical for the brazen barons of finance.

They rushed to Washington to complain to their retainers, demanding protection of their constitutional right to pillage the American economy.

What they are demanding is a police escort to secure their 3-card monte scam by screening out anyone who might know their tricks. So, what happens?

Nearly everyone in power from Nancy Pelosi to the head of the SEC quickly pledges to investigate this affront to the country’s financial markets – evidently having no other affronts to tend to.

“Guilty is a word unspoken except where innocence dares to plead.”

The electronic trading services went so far as to bar the mavericks from using their facilities; only marks welcome. All agree that it is a national emergency.

I am shocked! Shocked to hear reports of an attempt to manipulate the financial markets – the most transparent, fairest in the world. Some of my best friends are hedge fund directors; they’re the finest, most honest people you’d ever want to know!

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

WATCH: ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: Implications for Press Freedom’

WATCH: ‘The Trial of Julian Assange: Implications for Press Freedom’

Watch CN Live!‘s simulcast on Sunday of the First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee’s production of Nils Melzer & Ray McGovern discussing the Julian Assange case and its impact on press freedom.

Watch the replay: 

Nils Melzer is the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, Professor of International Law at the University of Glasgow, and holds the Human Rights Chair at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights. Ray McGovern is a former, longtime CIA Russia analyst, presidential daily briefer, and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).

Julian Assange’s extradition trial ended at the Old Bailey in September. More than 30 witnesses for the defense included Daniel Ellsberg and Noam Chomsky; the prosecutors declared standard journalistic practices to be crimes; and the judge cut the feed to all monitoring NGOs on the first day. Judge Vanessa Baraitser on Jan. 4 blocked Assange’s extradition to the U.S. but two days later denied him bail and sent the WikiLeaks‘ publisher to Belmarsh prison.
Forum Host: Ann Batiza

Joe Lauria on the Alleged Russian Hack

Joe Lauria on the Alleged Russian Hack

The editor-in-chief was interviewed on the radio program By Any Means Necessary about the alleged Russian hacking of U.S. government computers. Listen to it here. (16 minutes)

Typical Russiagate articles in the corporate press follow this pattern:

  • Russia is specifically blamed for something, like a hack or “undermining American democracy,” according to unnamed U.S. officials, or “people familiar with the matter.”
  • The article then drops all attribution and refers to a “Russian campaign” as established fact.
  • Towards the end of the piece a caveat is slipped in, such as “if it is confirmed it was Russia,” which undermines the credibility of the entire article.

The reporting of the latest Russia hack story follows this pattern, as explained in detail by Consortium News Editor-in-Chief Joe Lauria:

Rebroadcast with permission.

Consortium News piece on Saturday by Ray McGovern and Lauria set out the holes in this latest Russia story, and was quoted by the president of American University in Moscow in a Washington Times op-ed.

Glenn Greenwald’s Call Same as Bob Parry’s in 1995

Glenn Greenwald’s Call Same as Bob Parry’s in 1995

After resigning from The Intercept when it suppressed one of his stories, Greenwald is calling for a new news outlet whose aim is the same as what the creator of this website established in November 1995.

Robert Parry receiving the 2017 Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in London on June 28, 2017. Also, from left to right, are Victoria Britain, John Pilger and Vanessa Redgrave.

When asked why he started Consortium News now 25 years ago, the late Robert Parry said he got fed up with the resistance he faced from editors at the Associated Press and Newsweek who put obstacles in the way of his stories, often of great national significance.

The AP refused to publish his story naming Oliver North, explaining his crucial role in the Iran-Contra scandal.  It was only published after it inadvertently went out on the AP’s Spanish-language wire.

One editor at Newsweek told him asking certain tough questions of U.S. officials was not for “the good for the country.” The facts Parry unearthed went too far in exposing the dark side of American power. His editor was speaking, of course, about what was for the good of the rulers of the country, not the rest of us.

So Bob quit corporate journalism and created a consortium for journalists who ran up against similar obstruction from their editors: a place for them to publish what they could not get published in the mainstream.

In the last article Parry ever wrote, he described why he started Consortium News:

“The point of Consortium News, which I founded in 1995, was to use the new medium of the modern Internet to allow the old principles of journalism to have a new home, i.e., a place to pursue important facts and giving everyone a fair shake. But we were just a tiny pebble in the ocean.”

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Our Distance from Dirt

Our Distance from Dirt

Many of us on the African continent clutch our unethically sourced pearls and briefly confront the ugly truths about  our consumption, writes Takondwa Semphere. But then we forget. 

2012: Children gold mining in the eastern DRC. (Sasha Lezhnev/Enough Project, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

It seems that every other month, a different segment of the online population awakens to the horrors of unjust extractive labor on the continent and elsewhere in the world. Clips of young children working in fields and toiling in ruthless mines beam up on our coltan-powered iPhones in punchy, bite-sized expository threads that at once arrest and implicate us.

We clutch our unethically sourced pearls and confront these ugly truths of our consumption. Some of us linger on the news, some share and sign petitions and others, in the sort of torpor that fast-paced timelines tend to inspire, scroll on. For a moment, we rage but in time, another shareable injustice snags at our attention and we forget.

It is easy to forget when the mines are far away from our mobile phones. Many on the African continent who can consume these goods that are manufactured from violently extracted materials are, ourselves, distant from the land. This distance is built into our world, encoded in our economies and facilitated by how we consume.

We pluck our food from shelves instead of branches, and source it from supermarkets rather than unearth it from the soil ourselves. We do not bend to wells or rivers, and our hands do not know the weight of hoes hoisted up into the air and hurled onto the soil. This distance is a part of how we live, and has significant implications on how we seek to make the world more equitable.

2012: A gold dealer in the eastern DRC displays samples of gold. (Sasha Lezhnev/Enough Project, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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PATRICK LAWRENCE: Empire with a Human Face

PATRICK LAWRENCE: Empire with a Human Face

The Biden people are unlikely to speak of a new cold war with China, but they appear likely to wage one all dressed up as a sophisticated trans–Pacific strategy.

A portion of China’s Great Wall at dawn. (Hao Wei, Flickr, CC BY 2.0)

Those boneheaded Trump people explained their hostile, xenophobic, fated-to-fail policy toward China by telling  the rest of Asia that America stood for “a free and open Indo–Pacific.”

No, no and no, say the big shots President-elect Joe Biden has named to shape and execute his foreign policy. Instead, they mean to tell Asians to line up behind their hostile, xenophobic, fated-to-fail policy toward China in the name of “a secure and prosperous Indo–Pacific.”

Way different.

It is simply remarkable to watch as the party that howled in response to everything the Trump regime attempted on the foreign-policy side adopts one Trump-era strategy after another more or less intact but for the cosmetics.

The sin of those egregious hawks who commandeered the outgoing regime was to conduct the business of empire imperially. This new crew offers what we had better recognize now as nothing more than empire with a human face.

Of all the Biden regime’s failures in the making one can already see in prospect that none will be greater than its insistence that the U.S. must continue to treat China as a predatory competitor and strategic adversary.

As Mike Pompeo failed to enlist Asians in his crusade against the mainland — and our baboon secretary of state has flopped spectacularly, if you have not noticed — so will Antony Blinken, his successor at State, and Jake Sullivan, Biden’s nominee for national security adviser.

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India’s One-Day General Strike Largest in History

India’s One-Day General Strike Largest in History

If those who struck on Nov. 26 formed a country, it would be the fifth largest in the world after China, India, the United States and Indonesia, writes Vijay Prashad.

India’s general strike on Nov. 26, 2020. (IndustriALL Global Union, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Farmers and agricultural workers from northern India marched along various national highways toward India’s capital of New Delhi as part of the general strike on Nov. 26.

They carried placards with slogans against the anti-farmer, pro-corporate laws that were passed by India’s Lok Sabha (lower house of parliament) in September, and then pushed through the Rajya Sabha (upper house) with only a voice vote.

The striking agricultural workers and farmers carried flags that indicated their affiliation with a range of organizations, from the communist movement to a broad front of farmers’ organizations. They marched against the privatization of agriculture, which they argue undermines India’s food sovereignty and erodes their ability to remain agriculturalists.

Roughly two-thirds of India’s workforce derives its income from agriculture, which contributes to roughly 18 percent of India’s gross domestic product (GDP). The three anti-farmer bills passed in September undermine the minimum support price buying schemes of the government, put 85 percent of the farmers who own less than 2 hectares of land at the mercy of bargaining with monopoly wholesalers, and will lead to the destruction of a system that has till now maintained agricultural production despite erratic prices for food produce.

One hundred and fifty farmer organizations came together for their march on New Delhi. They pledge to stay in the city indefinitely.

India’s general strike on Nov. 26, 2020. (IndustriALL Global Union, Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Olduvai IV: Courage
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Olduvai II: Exodus
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