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Why You Should Watch Drones For Free Online

By: David Swanson Monday June 6, 2011 11:09 am

 

There’s a chance to watch Drones, the movie, online on July 30th and then to join a discussion with filmmakers and experts.  There’s a preview video below. The movie’s website is at http://dronesthefilm.com and the free screening is at http://demandprogress.tv/drones

I saw a screening of this film back in November at the drone summit in DC. It’s wonderful. I was a bit put-off and staggered, to be frank, at the time, because someone involved with the film bragged about how inexpensively it had been made, and yet the budget was so unfathomably huge that I knew that if an anti-war organization had that kind of money we could hire organizers all over the world and quite possibly make the abolition of war a major mainstream force.

And, of course, you can’t simply ask if the money was well spent, because no one will say that it was spent to end the practice of drone murder. The director and the cast, of course, say they wanted to make a socially important film about a serious issue, but not what they wanted to accomplish, beyond raising questions and being entertaining. Everyone’s always happy to say that a film opposes racism or cruelty to animals or bullying, but not war.

But, you hundreds of millions of odd-balls who, like me, happen to give a damn whether your government is murdering people in your name with your money will, in fact, want to make this film a huge viral success.  I’m telling you, right now, it’s a good one. It is indeed entertaining. It’s not simple, predictable, pedantic, or preaching. But neither is the film itself reluctant to face head-on the banal, evil, arrogant mass-murder engaged in by these young people who dress up in pilots suits to sit at desks in trailers taking orders from military bureaucrats and private contractors, and ultimately from a president who reviews a list of potential men, women, and children to murder on Tuesdays.

Drones look like a golden opportunity to war makers who don’t want to ask Congress or the U.N. or the public, don’t want to send in armies, just want to target people and groups for death anywhere in the world and obliterate them with the push of a button from an air-conditioned — or, sometimes not so air-conditioned — office.

But drones also look like a golden opportunity to those of us who have been trying to point out that murder and war are distinguished only by scale. I suspect that many who cannot see the bombing of a city as murder will see the drone-targeting of an individual as nothing else — particularly if they watch this film.

If you can watch the film and not want to Ban Weaponized Drones, watch it again.

 

Jonathan Schell: A Niagara Falls of Post-9/11 Violence

By: Tom Engelhardt Friday July 15, 2011 6:10 pm

This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com. To receive TomDispatch in your inbox three times a week, click here.

Unconquerable World cover

A new book on the ways nonviolent resistance matters.

In December 2002, finishing the introduction to his as-yet-unpublished book The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, Jonathan Schell wrote that the twentieth century was the era in which violence outgrew the war system that had once housed it and became “dysfunctional as a political instrument. Increasingly, it destroys the ends for which it is employed, killing the user as well as his victim. It has become the path to hell on earth and the end of the earth. This is the lesson of the Somme and Verdun, of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, of Vorkuta and Kolyma; and it is the lesson, beyond a shadow of a doubt, of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.”

More than a decade later, that remains a crucial, if barely noticed, lesson of our moment. Jonathan Schell died this March, but he left behind a legacy of reporting and thinking — from The Real War and The Fate of the Earth to The Unconquerable World – about just how, as the power to destroy ratcheted up, war left its traditional boundaries, and what that has meant for us (as well as, potentially, for worlds to come). In The Unconquerable World, published just before the Bush invasion of Iraq, he went in search of other paths of change, including the nonviolent one, and in doing so he essentially imagined the Arab Spring and caught the essence of both the horrors and possibilities available to us in hard-headed ways that were both prophetic and moving.

Today, partly in honor of his memory (and my memory of him) and partly because I believe his sense of how our world worked then and still works was so acute, this website offers a selection from that book. Consider it a grim walk down post-9/11 Memory Lane, a moment when Washington chose force as its path to… well, we now know (as Schell foresaw then) that it was indeed a path to hell. Tom

The Path to a New 1914? 
How America Chose War After 9/11 
By Jonathan Schell

[This essay is slightly adapted from Jonathan Schell’s 2003 book, The Unconquerable World: Power, Nonviolence, and the Will of the People, and appears at TomDispatch.com with the kind permission of its publisher, Metropolitan Books.]

Then came the attack of September 11th. Like the starting gun of a race that no one knew he was to run, this explosion set the pack of nations off in a single direction — toward the trenches. Although the attack was unaccompanied by any claim of authorship or statement of political goals, the evidence almost immediately pointed to al-Qaeda, the radical Islamist, terrorist network, which, though stateless, was headquartered in Afghanistan and enjoyed the protection of its fundamentalist Islamic government. In a tape that was soon shown around the world, the group’s leader, Osama bin Laden, was seen at dinner with his confederates in Afghanistan, rejoicing in the slaughter.

Historically, nations have responded to terrorist threats and attacks with a combination of police action and political negotiation, while military action has played only a minor role. Voices were raised in the United States calling for a global cooperative effort of this kind to combat al-Qaeda. President Bush opted instead for a policy that the United States alone among nations could have conceivably undertaken: global military action not only against al-Qaeda but against any regime in the world that supported international terrorism.

The president announced to Congress that he would “make no distinction between the terrorists who commit these acts and those who harbor them.” By calling the campaign a “war,” the administration summoned into action the immense, technically revolutionized, post-Cold War American military machine, which had lacked any clear enemy for over a decade. And by identifying the target as generic “terrorism,” rather than as al-Qaeda or any other group or list of groups, the administration licensed military operations anywhere in the world.

On “The Making of Global Capitalism”

By: Anti-Capitalist Meetup Sunday July 20, 2014 2:46 pm

 

From Diomedes77 and Anti-Capitalist Meet-Up

Cover of On the Making of Global Capitalism

A Marxist look at global capitalism.

As a first group diary, this will be fairly narrow in scope and ambition. There have already been numerous excellent reviews of The Making of Global Capitalism, and a symposium over at Jacobin. It’s a bit too late at this point for me to try to compete with any of that, so I thought I’d just intro one of the most important books of the last decade, in hopes that it might spark debate here.

Leave it to the Canadians to get things right — or left, as the case may be. Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin are both Canadian professors, socialists, and schooled in Marxism, but unlike their American peers, not subject to automatic censure and scorn. As this group is no doubt aware, socialists and/or Marxists in America are pretty much shut out of public discussion, demonized without a hearing, and absent from debates in a field they should dominate. No “school” of economic thought comes close to the rigor, objectivity, depth of analysis or independence of the Marxians, and no analysis is more needed in our day. But in America, the system and its willing executioners have effectively silenced them.

Again, this is not the case in Canada, or Europe, where a far healthier, but still less than optimum diversity exists.

The book in question is exhaustively researched. It’s nearly overwhelming in its breadth and detail, and makes for an excellent pairing with Piketty’s recent Capital, which I have but have not yet read beyond its introduction. This is not a beach book. This is not a casual, page-turning barn-burner. But it is a serious work of scholarship, and in my view, deserves at least three adjectives — which should be rarely used:

definitive, classic and indispensable.

The reasons for that are pretty simple for me. Panitch and Gindin have mapped out American economic history so we can connect the dots. Like the best scholars, they rarely interject their own conclusions into the mix, and leave that up to the reader. But, unlike other attempts along these lines, the book reads as something inevitable, a process toward logical conclusions, with each section reinforcing this along the way. From their preface:

This book is about globalization and the state. It shows that the spread of capitalist markets, values and social relationships around the world, far from being an inevitable outcome of inherently expansionist economic tendencies, has depended on the agency of states and of one state in particular: America. Indeed, insofar as the relationship between the American state and the changing dynamics of production and finance was inscribed in the very process that came to be known as globalization, this book is devoted to understanding how it came to be that the American state developed the interest and capacity to superintend the making of global capitalism. In this respect, this is emphatically not another book on US military interventions; it is about the political economy of American empire. In this quite distinctive imperial state, the Pentagon and CIA have been much less important to the process of capitalist globalization than the US Treasury and Federal Reserve. This is so not just in terms of sponsoring the penetration and emulation of US economic practices abroad, but much more generally in terms of promoting free capital movements and free trade on the one hand, while on the other trying to contain the international economic crises a global capitalism spawns.

The trick for governments, as they demonstrate, is to walk the tightrope between allowing the most free rein possible for Capital, while avoiding, or delaying inevitable crises. Toward the end of the book, the authors show how the American state moved from an attempt to prevent economic catastrophe, to simply trying to manage or contain them after the fact. This reader connected the dots from that and the preceding pages to note that the more freedom the state gives to capitalism, the bigger it needs to be in order to bail it out, defend it, prop it up, keep it going. Which points to one of the rare weaknesses of this account, in my view. I think the authors don’t give enough weight to military intervention on behalf of Capital. But given the overall brilliance of their analysis, I can live with that.

Contrary to right-wing myths about “big gubmint” and capitalism, there is a paradox in place. The more we privatize and commodify existence, the greater the need for governments. The more we extend market integration, the more likely local disasters become global, as we saw most recently in 2007/2008. As in, the more “successful” the American state is in spreading the gospel of Supply Side Jesus, the more likely we are of having Armageddon after Armageddon, until, finally, governments no longer have the resources to begin anew. Capitalism will be its own death, but it’s unlikely to happen because workers finally have that much needed epiphany, find true solidarity with each other, and throw off their yokes. It is far more likely that capitalism dies of its own irrationality and unsustainable nature, its Grow or Die trap.

As an ardent anti-capitalist, I long for the day of its death. But not that way. Not the way of final, worldwide economic catastrophe. Too many people will suffer, and it’s actually far more likely, in my view, that the replacements will be right-wing dictatorships, rather than the first modern day attempt at true socialism, real democracy, and actual emancipation. To get there, we need a democratic revolution, a non-violent revolution, and to provoke that we need to show the best route to “limited government” is without capitalism, which requires massive government to keep it alive. The Making of Global Capitalism provides mountains of evidence for the toxic, centuries-old marriage between State and Capital. It’s time for a divorce.

*A good C-Span discussion by the authors here.

Stephen Colbert Joins the Late Show: Who Will Fill the Vacuum?

By: rykky Monday July 21, 2014 1:56 pm

 

Stephen Colbert gained some attention a few months ago when CBS announced that he would take over hosting the Late Show when David Letterman retires some time next year.  While that is flattering to Stephen Colbert, it will create a huge vacuum when he leaves.  Stephen Colbert has contributed greatly to political satire. His sarcasm has become a major voice for the liberal cause.  He, furthermore, has become good at exposing the truth and producing quality news. What can we do to replace him?

John Oliver’s new show, This Week Tonight, appears to be receiving some attention.  His show, however, is only on once a week. It, therefore, cannot produce the amount of coverage that The Colbert Report and The Daily Show have produced, both of which are now major news programs.

My idea is to expand The Daily Show by making it an hour long. Jon Stewart should, furthermore, make sure that his show provides a synopsis of the day’s news events, similar to the way serious news programs do. With The Daily Show being an hour long he can still have his usual daily guest interview as well as put on a sketch.  In fact he could do more interviews and sketches.  Stewart should of course include more news headlines than the other stations, and mention more intellectual as well as international news stories than those other networks. The rest of the program can cover these stories in depth.

He should, furthermore, do it live at 6:30 eastern time (5:30 central), while NBC, ABC and CBS are hosting their evening news programs. Comedy Central should then rebroadcast The Daily Show when viewers in the Mountain and Pacific time zones could tune into the news programs of the three major networks. Then it will put pressure on these three channels to produce more in-depth and honest news, because of the potential for viewers to choose The Daily Show over their news programs.

With these changes to The Daily Show there is a potential for the other networks to produce higher quality news. It, however, might be a stretch to say that the other stations will improve their news programs. At any rate, Comedy Central could still produce some unique in depth news that educates a large audience despite Colbert’s departure.

Midnight Raids Rock Turkish Police Force

By: GREYDOG

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Police riot shield

Turkish police are under fire for corruption.

A not-so-secretive home-raiding operation was unleashed just days after the Gulenist movement’s newspapers started revealing statistics of the AKP government’s increasing trade with the Israeli government despite the anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli rhetoric that is prevalent in the AKP party. The operation is taking place only two hours after Erdogan appeared on a TV show saying, “It’s time for a cleaning now.” This sentence was the start of an operation that spread to 22 cities into the morning.

At 2:00 AM on July 22nd, Turkey experienced yet another “first time” in its history, and contrary to the permitted rules of home-raiding operations and arrests, hundreds of doors were knocked on in the middle of the night and arrests began. According to the penal code, house searches and arrests can only be made between 5:00 AM and 11:00 PM. However, in exceptional cases when the operation is led by the Organized Crime and Terrorism Taskforce, home raids on high-level suspects can be carried out at unorthodox times.

At this very moment, hundreds of homes are being raided as this article is being written. Police officers and police chiefs are being arrested, including the ones who participated in the home-raiding operations and operations against the secret service officers who were also involved in the corruption probe investigation against the government ministers, prime minister, and their sons. Another group of police officers are allegedly the ones who uncovered secret Iranian cells operating in Turkey, especially Tawhid-i Salam (linked to Quds Forces/Jerusalem Army).

The charges against the police officers include espionage and forging legal documents that led to the corruption probe being prepared in the last two years. The same accusations had been made against Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) officers after another nighttime raid was carried out on May 31^st against TIB. After the December 17 and 25 corruption probe arrests of dozens of people related to government and business networks, Erdogan had said “we will raid their caves.”

The timing of the operation is also significant. The home raids are taking place just hours before Erdogan addresses the Parliament before it is dissolved for summer recess which, is the last time before presidential elections in August 2014. As the dawn breaks, the operation is spreading to other districts of Istanbul and several other cities. Government “Deepthroat” @fuatavni writes “psychological combat tools are being used to divert public perception right before the elections.” In social media, the operation has been likened to the“Night of the Long Knives” that happened 80 years ago in Nazi Germany.

Editorial Position of the New York Times: Thumbs Up for Gaza Slaughter

By: Norman Solomon

[This post was co-written by Abba Solomon, the author of The Speech, and Its Context: Jacob Blaustein's Speech "The Meaning of Palestine Partition to American Jews."]

Outside the NY Times Tower

The Times’ editorial staff enthusiastically supports Israeli war crimes.

Over the weekend, the New York Times sent out a clear signal: the mass slaughter of civilians is acceptable when the Israeli military is doing the killing.

Under the headline “Israel’s War in Gaza,” the most powerful newspaper in the United States editorialized that such carnage is necessary. The lead editorial in the July 19 edition flashed a bright green light — reassuring the U.S. and Israeli governments that the horrors being inflicted in Gaza were not too horrible.

From its first words, the editorial methodically set out to justify what Israel was doing.

After 10 days of aerial bombardment,” the editorial began, “Israel sent tanks and ground troops into Gaza to keep Hamas from pummeling Israeli cities with rockets and carrying out terrorist attacks via underground tunnels.”

The choice of when to date the start of the crisis was part of the methodical detour around inconvenient facts.

For instance, no mention of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s June 30 announcement that the “human animals” of Hamas would “pay” after three Israeli teenagers kidnapped in Israeli-controlled territory in the West Bank were found dead. No mention of the absence of evidence that Hamas leadership was involved in those murders.

Likewise, absent from the editorializing sequence was Israel’s June “crackdown” in the West Bank, with home raids, area closures, imprisonment of hundreds of Hamas party activists including legislators.

Most of all, the vile core of the Times editorial was its devaluation of Palestinian lives in sharp contrast to Israeli lives.

The Times editorial declared that Hamas leaders “deserve condemnation” for military actions from civilian areas in the dense Gaza enclave — but Netanyahu merited mere expressions of “concern” about “further escalation.” Absent from the editorial was any criticism of Israel’s ongoing bombardment of homes, apartment blocks, hospitals, beaches and other civilian areas with U.S.-supplied ordinance.

At the time, there had been one Israeli death from the hostilities — and at least 260 deaths among Gazans as well as injuries in the thousands. The contrast illuminates a grotesque difference in the Times’ willingness to truly value the humanity of Israelis and Palestinians.

In the morally skewed universe that the Times editorial board evidently inhabits and eagerly promulgates, Hamas intends to “terrorize” Israeli citizens while Israel merely intends to accomplish military objectives by dropping thousands of tons of bombs on Palestinian people in Gaza.

A keynote of the editorial came when it proclaimed: “There was no way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was going to tolerate the Hamas bombardments, which are indiscriminately lobbed at Israeli population centers. Nor should he.”

While sprinkling in a handwringing couple of phrases about dead and wounded civilians, the editorial had nothing to say in condemnation of the Israeli force killing and maiming them in large numbers.

Between the lines was a tacit message to Israel: Kill more. It’s OK. Kill more.

And to Israel’s patrons in Washington: Stand behind Israel’s mass killing in Gaza. Under the unfortunate circumstances, it’s needed.

When the editorial came off the press, the Israeli military was just getting started. And no doubt Israeli leaders, from Netanyahu on down, were heartened by the good war-making seal of approval from the New York Times.

After all, the most influential media voice in the United States — where the government is the main backer of Israel’s power — was proclaiming that the mass killing by the Israeli military was regrettable but not objectionable.

Israel Tries New Rationale for War

By: Siun

Watching Operation Protective Edge move from a few air strikes to invasion and decimation of the land and people of Palestine is so reminiscent of Cast Lead and the horrors we covered then. But there’s a new theme to this round of genocide – the Israeli claim that Hamas has a huge network of tunnels enabling Hamas “terrorists” to attack Israeli locations virtually at will.

A girl with Palestine flag face paint

“Why, if Hamas leadership is underground, are the Israeli forces shelling family homes?”

This tunnel tale has been popping up throughout the coverage over the past few days and Israel is now saying destroying the tunnels is their primary reason for their war on Gaza rather than the rockets touted last week. Of course, if you look closely at the coverage, all the tunnel information comes from Israeli official sources, not from independent analysts or reporters’ own investigation. Take a look at Time magazine, distributing the IDF’s video of how to destroy a tunnel or check out the Washington Post doing an in-depth look at the “terror tunnels” conveniently following the IDFs press briefing on the topic on July 19th and based in large part on the “reporting” of “al-Monitor’s Shlomi Eldar.” Eldar’s orginal article portrays the tunnels as an elaborate infrastructure involving not only the smuggling tunnels we’ve all seen and which were primarily destroyed by Egypt last year but also two other types of tunnels – one to store weapons and serve as a vast underground hideaway for Hamas leaders and their families and the third, a network of tunnels that reach deep into Israel:

It was only after 13 militants from the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades penetrated Israel in an attempt to launch a terrorist attack in Kerem Shalom that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) got the green light to begin a ground assault. And it was only then that soldiers discovered there was an underground Gaza just like there was an aboveground Gaza, and that the Hamas movement had invested an enormous amount of resources into constructing that underground Gaza.

The second network of tunnels is complex and has multiple branches running off it. This network, which was burrowed beneath the cities and refugee camps of Gaza — Khan Yunis, Rafah, Jabaliya, and Shatti — was designed to hide the stockpile of rockets and launchers. At the same time, other tunnels were dug to provide protection to Hamas leaders and allow them mobility. Every single leader of Hamas, from its lowest ranking bureaucrats to its most senior leaders, is intimately familiar with the route to the security tunnel assigned to him and his family. The most senior leadership has its own specific tunnel, which serves as a ‘war room’ in times of emergency, such as the current military campaign in the Gaza Strip.

Then there are the tunnels along the border with Israel. These were intended to allow Hamas activists from the Gaza Strip to infiltrate deep into Israeli territory. Israel had already established a security fence along its border with Gaza, which has successfully prevented countless terrorist infiltrations and attacks. So the border tunnels were dug beneath the fence.

Notice how this account – quickly picked up by western press – serves several purposes. At a time when opposition to Israel’s attack on Gaza was growing, the tunnels provide a new rationale, a new reason why Israel must attack – to shut down this newly uncovered “terrorist” access to Israel even though there had been no uptick of attacks in Israeli controlled locations prior to the attack on Gaza and none of the reporters have seen this “underground Gaza.”

Second this tale expands the Israeli line that Hamas does not represent the people of Gaza nor share their suffering – they are all hiding out in their individual tunnels with their families.

And Eldar goes on to write that – again picked up and quoted by various western media – not only has Hamas selfishly only looked after their own safety but they have squandered millions of dollars to do so which could have been spent to improve the lot of Gazan citizens. Here’s Terrence McCoy in WaPo quoting Eldar:

Over Easy: Humans Aren’t the Only Jerks in the Animal World

By: yellowsnapdragon Monday May 2, 2011 4:35 am

The last few days have proved once again that humans are real jerks. Not to be left out, here is a compilation of animals being jerks. If I had to choose, I’d rather hang out with the animals, thankyouverymuch.

Off topic welcome and lurkers must introduce us to their pets. With pictures. How are your critters doing today?