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Ukraine Storm forecast over Cuba

By: Synoia Sunday December 21, 2014 4:40 pm

In a new long range weather forecast designed to predict the spread of Neo-Imperialism from West to East, a severe new cell of potential Neo-Liberalism is being reported in the Caribbean, and is expected to make landfall on Cuba, so Batistering the Island Nation into a Neo-Liberal dream.

The Bateristing of this new Ukraine Storm is being fomented by US foreign Policy apparatchiks.

President Obama mentioned this new cell, caused by a secret gust of desire for the Oil off Cuba’s North West Coast; he averred that in such cases, the traditional American method of political weather forecasting, (simply denying there was any weather,) does not work.
The process is explained in this quote by President Obama:

After all, these 50 years have shown that isolation has not worked. It’s time for a new approach.

Nice idea. New approach to what objective, one asks?

 

Anti-Capitalist Meetup: What’s Really Behind US-Cuba Normalization? by MrJayTee

By: Anti-Capitalist Meetup Sunday December 21, 2014 3:45 pm

A spectre is haunting the United States–the spectre of normal relations between the United States and communist bugbear Cuba. For the lazy, captured US media, it’s all about the Cold War poses struck by Republicans (and a few Democrats like New Jersey senator Bob Menendez) whose needles are permanently stuck in an anti-Castro groove. Add a few snips about how US corporations can’t wait to get into the Cuban market and you have the domestic version of the story.

But is it really as simple as big business finally tilting the balance away from right wing nuttery? It’s tempting to say yes. The machinations of capital are relentless and there can’t be any doubt that capital wants Cuba back in the worst way, but being slightly smaller in both area and population than Pennsylvania, it’s hard to believe the attraction of the Cuban market finally thawed the ideological iceberg of the Embargo all by itself.

Certainly generational change has helped take the risk of losing Florida’s electoral votes out of the issue. A recent survey of Cuban-American adults for the Miami Hearald showed about equal support for both sides of the issue, with wide support for normalization from respondents under 65. Opposition to the Castro regime just isn’t that potent an issue any more even for Cuban-Americans.

Then there’s the notion that a throwdown over Cuba policy benefits the Democrats in 2016 by encouraging a rift between doctrinaire conservative Republicans and liberal business Republicans while giving Democrats greater appeal among the non-crazy center. This scenario not only doesn’t need Congress to end the Embargo, it benefits from congressional drama. While I have no doubt that resuming relations with Cuba is a sincere goal among the liberal bourgeoisie, they need have no genuine expectation of success to make this argument part of the 2016 political strategy.

Is there more to the story? Let’s look around and see what some on the left are saying.

In Defense of Marxism strikes a triumphalist note, while cautioning that the change in US tactics does not mean the end of America’s efforts to destroy the Cuban revolution. It also rightly notes the history of US terrorism in Cuba; since the US is a major perpetrator of terrorism globally, this is fitting. IDoM also takes note of the Venezuela connection. Targeting Cuba and targeting Venezuela are part of the same Imperialist project.

On Wednesday December 17, the United States admitted that its attempt to bully Cuba into submission had failed. This should be seen as a victory for the Cuban Revolution and its resilience against the relentless onslaught of the most powerful imperialist power on earth only 90 miles away from its shores. However, US imperialism has not given up on its aims: the restoration of the rule of private property and the destruction of the gains of the revolution. It has just changed the means to achieve the same result….

The statement from the White House announcing the change of policy starts with a clear admission of bankruptcy: “A Failed Approach. Decades of U.S. isolation of Cuba have failed to accomplish our objective of empowering Cubans to build an open and democratic country.” Of course, where it says an “open and democratic country” what they really mean is a capitalist country, where “democracy” is just a fig leaf for the rule of big corporations…

The coming to power of the Bolivarian revolution in 1998 threw a new life line to Cuba. On the one hand, it meant the exchange of Venezuelan oil for Cuban medical services on very favourable terms. On the other, it broke the isolation of the Cuban revolution and provided the hope that it could spread even further.

Trotskyist World Socialist Website looks at the potential thaw (after noting that the Obama administration is slapping new sanctions on Venezuela allegedly to punish it for it’s handling of protests earlier this year) as evidence of the Castro regime saving saving what’s left of itself by means of Chinese-style state-controlled capitalism:

No doubt the demands of the Chamber of Commerce and the American Manufacturers Association for access to the Cuba market played a major role in Obama’s decision. So too did the prospect that a massive influx of US dollars would do far more than the economic blockade to unravel what remains of the radical reforms instituted by the Cuban Revolution, while helping to bring to power a more pliant regime in Havana, restoring the kind of neocolonial relationship that prevailed before 1959.

For its part, the Castro regime sees the turn toward its longtime imperialist nemesis as a means of salvaging its rule and pursuing a path similar to that of China, preserving the privileges of the ruling strata through the development of capitalism and at the expense of the Cuban working class.

It’s this view that I find the most suggestive. While the Cuban revolution deservedly enjoys broad from the serious left, that support often comes with criticism of the stratified, ossified, top-down nature of the regime. Is the Castro regime so pressed for money that they have no choice? Is it kidding itself that it can dance with the Beast and not come away unharmed?

Obviously, there are many factors at work here besides the US business community seeing an opportunity to extract value from Cuban workers and Cuba’s natural heritage. What is going on under the surface?

Speculate, anti-Capitalists!

The Sony hack… (warning: pure speculation to follow)

By: David Seaton Sunday December 21, 2014 10:59 am

The FBI said technical analysis of malware used in the Sony attack found links to malware that “North Korean actors” had developed and found a “significant overlap” with “other malicious cyber activity” previously linked to Pyongyang. Reuters

It’s obvious that North Korea is behind the attack on Sony in retaliation for making “The Interview”…

In fact it is so obvious that it makes me suspicious.

The North Koreans say they didn’t do it… I believe them.

Much of North Korea’s hacking is done from China. And while the attack on Sony used some commonly available cybertools, one intelligence official said, “this was of a sophistication that a year ago we would have said was beyond the North’s capabilities.” Fareed Zakaria – Washington Post

I think they have been set up for the fall by a much more sophisticated attacker, one who doesn’t want to take “credit” for the attack. There are two prime suspects in that case: China and Russia.  In my opinion it was the Russians. Here is a recent report of their work:

Russian state-backed cyber spies are behind coordinated, sophisticated digital attacks in the past two years against sensitive political and military targets, including Nato, the EU and government ministries, according to a security analyst. “Up until now the focus has been on China – but Russia is really the far more advanced player. Russia has been more effective at integrating cyber espionage into a geopolitical grand strategic campaign – not just a military one, but economic and political. They are more tactical too. More targeted in the institutions they go after . . . and more accomplished.” Financial Times – October 28, 2014

For me the Sony hack shows a very deep knowledge of the American economic and social system’s weak points, where the celebrity culture intersects with the insurance/financial/complex and the communication infrastructure that supports it… and the rest of corporate America. I believe the Russians accumulated this kind of “reverse-Kremlinology” during the decades of the Cold War and that neither the Chinese or especially the North Koreans, would know how to touch so many of America’s raw nerves simultaneously.

Why would the Russians pin it on the North Koreans?

They would for the same reason that Sony made the film: the North Koreans are comic book villains that are seen as crazy enough to do anything and it’s precisely the the craziness that has made this incident so viral, where the comments about Angelina Jolie’s possible insanity take precedence over the plus $90,000,000 that Sony stands to lose by pulling the film or the uncountable, confidential, corporate information, now in hostile hands. Russia certainly wouldn’t want to provoke a hostile confrontation with the United States over something so “comic bookish”, but the “comic bookishness” is an essential part of the incident’s power. An attack on JP Morgan is probably much more serious than the Sony hack, but that would never grab the public’s attention in the same way.

That leads us directly to the following questions:

What has the attack achieved? What would Russia have to gain by this attack?

The answer to the first question is the answer to the second.

The Sony hack has shown the fragility of America’s complex system in a way that even the least technical person can understand it and because of the celebrity gossip involved the entire country, ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages have seen it and talked about it.

And what if the next target for the cyber attackers is not a film corporation but an electricity grid, or gas suppliers, or water pumping stations? Then what? Call this a comedy? I’m not sure there is much to laugh about. BBC

Russia is at this moment under tremendous pressure from the “West”; it would even appear that the Obama administration is bent on “regime change” in Moscow. The logic of the Russians acting under the cover of the wackos of Pyongyang would be the following: in the light of the Sony hack and seeing the damage that puny North Korea could do to a major corporation, the “good and the great”, the “serious” people in corporate America might pause to ask themselves: if Kim Jong-un could cause such havoc, what might Vladimir Putin be able to do, it sufficiently backed into a corner?

Cross posted from David Seaton’s News Links

20 Reasons(to start) I Hate Christmas; 1 Reason I Like It

By: Ohio Barbarian Sunday December 21, 2014 9:34 am

1. I see people on the road this time of year that I don’t for the rest of the year, and they can’t drive worth shit. Makes driving more dangerous, it does.

2. Piped-in Christmas music in stores and some workplaces.

3. The Chipmunks.

4. The constant clamoring to give to the needy because of the season. As if the needy don’t need help the other 11 months out of the year.

5. The smugness of those who engage in #4 and then how they look down their noses at those they so self-righteously helped at Christmas for the rest of the year.

6. TV commercials of vehicles in bows.

7. Traffic anywhere near a shopping mall.

8. Non-Christians who think Christmas is the most important day for Christians.

9. Christians who think Christmas is the most important day for Christians.

10. People who think Jesus of Nazareth was actually born on December 25th. According to the gospels, he was born in the spring. Why do you think early Christians used the sign of the fish? I’m not even Christian, and I know that.

11. A whole retail industry that lives or dies on sales made in just one month.

12. Doorbuster sales.

13. Online ads.

14. Wrapping paper.

15. Shoppers bitching about minimum wage retail employees who have been on their feet for hours being too slow.

16. Retail managers harassing minimum wage retail employees for looking tired and being too slow.

17. Fruitcake.

18. Advertisements that tell us that if we don’t spend a lot on gifts for our loved ones, then we don’t love them.

19. Idiots who believe the ads in #18.

20. Presidential Christmas messages.

Please feel free to add your own reasons to hate Christmas. For that matter, feel free to add any reasons you like Christmas.

I’ll start that one:

A. I get a paid holiday.

So Happy Friggin’ Holidays, and have a nice day.

 

Ismaaiyl Brinsley killed two police officers, he claims over the death of a child with a toy gun

By: RichardKanePA Saturday December 20, 2014 9:32 pm

The internet and press is full of so called backlash over the protests due to Ismaayl Brinsley assassinating a black and a Hispanic police officer.

I have a fear similar to to the fears I had when Charles Manson tried to create mayhem. Charles Manson. Manson’s goal was Helter Skelter to leave the world in ruins. (It is too late to edit the title, Brinkley’s enpheses was in his home town of NY City).

Al Qaeda in disguise killed Prime Minister Rafik Hariri of Lebanon knowing Hezbollah would be blamed    ,

https://consortiumnews.com/2011/09/01/hariri-murder-sleuths-ignored-al-qaeda/

Almost a million died from the tit for tat blood bath that followed.

If anyone remembers the Iraqi Congress in Exile made up fake stories and Saddam’s nukes and other weapons of mass destruction to get the US to overthrow him, leading to endless carnage,

http://www.businessinsider.com/chalabi-could-be-the-countrys-next-prime-minister-2014-6

 

Please remember that Tom Fox a Quaker peace maker went to Iraq to declare peace but was held hostage instead,

http://www.fwccamericas.org/publications/wqf/2006_May-June/TributetoaPeacemaker.htm

 

Suicidal maniacs who want mayhem as far as I am concerned are on the same side the side of mayhem.

In the song “Where have all the flowers gone I keep thinking back to the lines “When will they ever learn”

Palestinian Children Win International Math Competition Two Years in a Row

By: Ben Norton Saturday December 20, 2014 5:58 pm

Palestinians Ahmad Ayman Nashwiyeh, 8, on left, who won second place and Dania Husni al-Jaabari, 14, on right, who won first place in the 2014 Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic International Competition
CREDIT: Ma’an

In December 2014, Dania Husni al-Jaabari, a 14-year-old Palestinian girl from Al-Khalil (not Hebron), won first place in the Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic International Competition. She solved 240 math problems in six minutes.

Ahmad Ayman Nashwiyeh, an eight-year-old Palestinian boy also from al-Khalil, won second place. He solved 180 problems in six minutes.

The two children competed against approximately 3,000 children from over 15 countries.

14-year-old Gazan Areej El Madhoun, who won first place in the 2013 Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic International Competition
CREDIT: UNRWA

In January 2013, Areej El Madhoun, a 14-year-old girl from a Gaza refugee camp, won first place as well. As UNRWA writes, in “recent years in Gaza, creativity and achievement has grown and flourished against extraordinary odds; a blockade and the rubble of many conflicts, the last of which was eight-day war on Gaza in November 2012.” UNRWA continued:

Areej sees her success as the greatest gift she can offer to the children of Gaza after the recent eight-day war, which saw houses and infrastructure destroyed, and incidences of psychological trauma rise.

“Winning the first prize is a victory for Palestine. I was very proud to carry my country‘s flag”, said a delighted Areej.

“When I was announced as the winner, I felt overwhelmed and cried so hard”.

The recent memory of war made her victory particularly poignant, Areej added

“I went through some difficult times before the competition. The most recent conflict in Gaza had just ended two weeks before the competition began.”

In the end, the fear and anxiety brought on by the conflict did not subdue her overwhelming joy at winning first prize, she said.

The Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic International Competition takes place every two years. Israel’s genocidal military assaults on Gaza also take place roughly every two years. It is no surprise, ergo, that, just as Areej’s victory came just after

Israel’s Operation Pillar of Cloud,

  • an eight-day attack that, according to the UN,
  • killed 158 Palestinians,
  • 103 of whom were civilians (65%),
  • 30 of whom children (19%), and
  • injured more than 1,000,
  • so too did the victories of al-Jaabari and Nashwiyeh come right after

    Israel’s Operation “Protective” Edge,

  • a 51-day attack that, according to the UN and Amnesty International,
  • killed 2,192 Palestinians,
  • 1,523 of whom were civilians (69%),
  • 519 of whom were children (24%), and
  • injured around 11,000.
  • What is so inspiring is that, in a society that has been illegally military occupied for 47 years, and colonized and ethnically cleansed for 67 years, these children still flourish.

    Palestinians Dania Husni al-Jaabari, 14, on left, who won first place and Ahmad Ayman Nashwiyeh, 8, on right, who won second place in the 2014 Intelligent Mental-Arithmetic International Competition
    CREDIT: Ma’an

    What is so inspiring is that, in occupied lands in which the vast majority of children suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), in which children do not feel safe in their own homes (they are, rightfully, afraid of being kidnapped, detained without charge, tortured, and raped by the Israeli military), and in which almost 100% of children have experienced warfare, these children still flourish. In the words of University of California clinical professor of psychiatry and global health sciences Dr. Jesse Ghannam, nowhere else in the world is there anything “like the levels of traumatic exposure that [Palestinian children have] been exposed to on a chronic and daily basis.”

    These children’s victories serve as a striking testament to the strength of the Palestinians, of their reluctance to give in to the oppression and ultimately death to which Israel has subjected them (with steadfast US support) for these almost seven long decades.

    As the Palestinian slogan goes, “Existence is resistance!”

    Cleveland Protests over Tamir Rice’s Assassination & Final Day of #ThisStopsToday

    By: wendydavis Saturday December 20, 2014 10:33 am

    The video of 12-year-old child Tamir being blown away in two seconds can be seen here.  Note the question asked by the dispatcher three times: “Is he black or white?”

    This page from Cleveland.com has a handy schedule of this weekend’s events; our thanks.  At least 100 Ferguson protestors planned to make the trip; shortstack is already there.  Events started at 10 a.m. with a rally and forum at Cudell Recreation Center, where Tamir was murdered, then there will be a demonstration at 11:30 at the Second District Police Headquarters, 3481 Fulton Road.  The killing of mentally ill Tanesha Anderson by Cleveland Serve and Protect officers will also be highlighted.

    Mr. Turner: Movies Butchering History

    By: Barry Lando Saturday December 20, 2014 8:49 am

    This is the scene: The housekeeper, in her fifties or sixties, is fully clothed in a long dark Victorian dress and bonnet. She has her back to the camera, perhaps dusting. In strides a heavy, hulk of a man: a coarse, fleshy face, his straw-like hair askew.

    He scowls at the woman, grunts something undecipherable, rams himself against her, pinning her to the wall, lifting her skirts as he does so. He thrusts again. Mutely, she submits to the brutish attack. He grunts and thrusts again. Finally, satiated, he stalks away. Not a word has been uttered. She stares after him, without resentment, shock, or horror–her homely, lined features etched with resignation.  Obviously, this was not the first time Mr.Turner had had humped her; nor would it be the last.

    Mr. Turner, directed by Mike Leigh, is by no means a coherent biography, but a gorgeous film that presents brief, often unconnected excerpts from the latter years of the great British painter William Turner. In a way, Leigh’s lush, gauzy, cinematographic techniques, might be compared to the brilliant, infused style that Turner himself developed to create his shimmering watercolor landscapes.

    The problem is I don’t know how much of the film to trust.

    One of the starkest scenes, the scene that must stick in the mind of the majority of the viewers, is the one described above—where Mr. Turner—the genius in rendering light long before the French impressionists ever came on the scene—brutally attacks and has his way with his housekeeper.

    In some way, that shocking scene will forever change the way those who see the film will perceive the painter.

    All well and good you may say. Indeed, it’s to the credit of Mike Leigh that he has given us the great Turner with all his warts and blemishes.

    Except for the fact that the scene may never have happened. That’s according to Mike Leigh himself.

    In a packed question and answer session following a screening of the film in at the Curzon Cinema in London, Leigh elaborated on the great amount of time and effort he and his staff had put into researching Turner’s life.

    But when asked for the factual basis for Turner’s sexual attacks on his housekeeper, Leigh’s answer was along these lines: “Well, we knew that she had been living with him as his housekeeper for thirty or forty years, and.. it just felt right.” There was, Leigh admitted, no hard evidence, that Turner had regularly forced himself on the woman.

    To Leigh, that seems to make no difference.

    As much as I admire the talent of Mike Leigh, I can’t believe the arrogance of that reply.

    The film is presented as “An exploration of the last quarter century of the great, if eccentric, British painter J.M.W. Turner’s life.” There is no indication anywhere that portions are made up, or based on what “felt right” to the director.

     

    Yet, for millions of people who see the film, that is how they will remember Mr. Turner.

     

    Another dramatic scene in the film may never have happened. At one point, Turner has himself lashed to the tall mast of a sailing ship in the midst of a ferocious gale, so he can directly experience a treacherous storm at sea. According to the Tate Britain—which houses a huge collection of Turner’s art—it’s most unlikely that Turner ever attempted that deed.

    So, now I’m left with the question about the entire film—what was real and what was invented, because it felt right?

    The people who turned out the film try to have it both ways: giving the very clear impression that it is based on fact—otherwise why would anyone go to see it?– …while at the same time adding in riveting scenes that aren’t true. Are we to believe that they don’t have the box office as well as history in mind?

    One might wonder how Mike Leigh would respond to some future biographer taking the same liberties with Leigh’s life story as Leigh did with Turner’s.

    “Mr. Turner” is only the latest in a long list of films supposedly based “in fact” “in reality”, “on a real event, or “a true story.  Driven by a mix of arrogance and cynicism, the people who makes those films count on the ignorance of the audience to make their fortunes by butchering history.

    One such thriller, Argo, revealed how several Americans from the U.S. embassy in Tehran were whisked out of Iran at the height of the hostage crisis, by an incredibly brave and resourceful CIA agent. Except the real hero in the true story was not the CIA agent, but the Canadian ambassador to Iran, who sheltered those Americans and came up with the way to get them out.

    But who’s going to pay good money to see a movie about a Canadian diplomat? The cliff-hanging conclusion of the film—without which the picture would never have worked—was also totally invented.

    Much more egregious, as far as public policy goes, was Zero Dark Thirty, supposedly a totally factual account of how the U.S. tracked down and finally zapped Osama Bin Laden. One stark, scene showing a prisoner being water-boarded, made it clear that it was that torture that led to the biggest breakthrough in the chase: the CIA discovering the identity of the trusted courier used by Bin Laden, who ultimately led them to Bin Laden himself. According to several sources, including the latest Senate Committee report, torture had nothing to do with that breakthrough.

    But try to make that point to Dick “torture works” Cheney or anyone of the hundreds of millions of people who have seen the film.

    If you queried the people responsible for that film, they’d probably shrug and say something like, “it just felt right”.