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Exporting Sherman’s March

By: David Swanson Sunday February 1, 2015 6:15 am

Sherman statue anchors one southern corner of Central Park (with Columbus on a stick anchoring the other):
Sherman-2

Matthew Carr’s new book, Sherman’s Ghosts: Soldiers, Civilians, and the American Way of War, is presented as “an antimilitarist military history” — that is, half of it is a history of General William Tecumseh Sherman’s conduct during the U.S. Civil War, and half of it is an attempt to trace echoes of Sherman through major U.S. wars up to the present, but without any romance or glorification of murder or any infatuation with technology or tactics. Just as histories of slavery are written nowadays without any particular love for slavery, histories of war ought to be written, like this one, from a perspective that has outgrown it, even if U.S. public policy is not conducted from that perspective yet.

What strikes me most about this history relies on a fact that goes unmentioned: the former South today provides the strongest popular support for U.S. wars. The South has long wanted and still wants done to foreign lands what was — in a much lesser degree — done to it by General Sherman.

What disturbs me most about the way this history is presented is the fact that every cruelty inflicted on the South by Sherman was inflicted ten-fold before and after on the Native Americans. Carr falsely suggests that genocidal raids were a feature of Native American wars before the Europeans came, when in fact total war with total destruction was a colonial creation. Carr traces concentration camps to Spanish Cuba, not the U.S. Southwest, and he describes the war on the Philippines as the first U.S. war after the Civil War, following the convention that wars on Native Americans just don’t count (not to mention calling Antietam “the single most catastrophic day in all U.S. wars” in a book that includes Hiroshima). But it is, I think, the echo of that belief that natives don’t count that leads us to the focus on Sherman’s march to the sea, even as Iraq, Afghanistan, and Gaza are destroyed with weapons named for Indian tribes. Sherman not only attacked the general population of Georgia and the Carolinas on his way to Goldsboro — a spot where the U.S. military would later drop nuclear bombs (that very fortunately didn’t explode) — but he provided articulate justifications in writing, something that had become expected of a general attacking white folks.

What intrigues me most is the possibility that the South today could come to oppose war by recognizing Sherman’s victims in the victims of U.S. wars and occupations. It was in the North’s occupation of the South that the U.S. military first sought to win hearts and minds, first faced IEDs in the form of mines buried in roads, first gave up on distinguishing combatants from noncombatants, first began widely and officially (in the Lieber Code) claiming that greater cruelty was actually kindness as it would end the war more quickly, and first defended itself against charges of war crimes using language that it (the North) found entirely convincing but its victims (the South) found depraved and sociopathic. Sherman employed collective punishment and the assaults on morale that we think of as “shock and awe.” Sherman’s assurances to the Mayor of Atlanta that he meant well and was justified in all he did convinced the North but not the South. U.S. explanations of the destruction of Iraq persuade Americans and nobody else.

Sherman believed that his nastiness would turn the South against war. “Thousands of people may perish,” he said, “but they now realize that war means something else than vain glory and boasting. If Peace ever falls to their lot they will never again invite War.” Some imagine this to be the impact the U.S. military is having on foreign nations today. But have Iraqis grown more peaceful? Does the U.S. South lead the way in peace activism? When Sherman raided homes and his troops employed “enhanced interrogations” — sometimes to the point of death, sometimes stopping short — the victims were people long gone from the earth, but people we may be able to “recognize” as people. Can that perhaps help us achieve the same mental feat with the current residents of Western Asia? The U.S. South remains full of monuments to Confederate soldiers. Is an Iraq that celebrates today’s resisters 150 years from now what anyone wants?

When the U.S. military was burning Japanese cities to the ground it was an editor of the Atlanta Constitution who, quoted by Carr, wrote “If it is necessary, however, that the cities of Japan are, one by one, burned to black ashes, that we can, and will, do.” Robert McNamara said that General Curtis LeMay thought about what he was doing in the same terms as Sherman. Sherman’s claim that war is simply hell and cannot be civilized was then and has been ever since used to justify greater cruelty, even while hiding within it a deep truth: that the civilized decision would be to abolish war.

The United States now kills with drones, including killing U.S. citizens, including killing children, including killing U.S. citizen children. It has not perhaps attacked its own citizens in this way since the days of Sherman. Is it time perhaps for the South to rise again, not in revenge but in understanding, to join the side of the victims and say no to any more attacks on families in their homes, and no therefore to any more of what war has become?

 

 

NFL’s brain injury scandal and 3 changes needed now

By: fairleft Sunday February 1, 2015 5:25 am

Jets-Eagles, 2009. By Ed Yourdon. Flickr. Creative Commons with attribution.

Hey it’s Super Concussion Sunday so listen up couch potatoes!

The science says the NFL can probably solve much, maybe most of its massive and immoral brain injury problem, but for whatever reason — arrogance? — it is dragging its feet and mostly refusing to do so. The game will never be completely rid of concussions and sub-concussive injuries, of course, but there are good ideas that if implemented can make football far safer. It’s time, NFL owners (and college football factory presidents). You need to do your best, and do it now, to make the game as safe as it can be while keeping the look of the game roughly, but probably only roughly, the same.

1. Soften helmets and pads

We can start with the helmet. Why isn’t the NFL transforming the hard plastic shell model that is the core problem? Remarkably, “the noggin-protectors of yore do at least as good of a job as modern helmets at staving off concussions.” So the leather helmet of the 1940s protects players better than what almost all NFL players wear toda? What an indictment of the NFL and the helmet maker it has commercial ties to, Riddell. I’m not suggesting a return to the old-style helmets, but I definitely am saying — and so should queazy fans, the players and the government — that what was good about leather helmets, their ‘give’, should be incorporated into football helmets. And exactly that kind of innovation has already been worked on extensively, but unfortunately ignored by the NFL and Riddell.

In fact, we know specifically that the helmet innovation that did incorporate that ‘give’ or flexibility, the ProCap, was quashed by the NFL & Riddell. I have no idea why this story was largely ignored when it came out two years ago, but I think any reasonable person reading “Helmets Preventing Concussion Seen Quashed by NFL-Riddell” would conclude that the NFL and its partner Riddell ignored and ‘quashed’ not only the Pro Cap, which appeared to reduce concussions by about a third, but also a competing helmet design that was vastly superior on concussions to Riddell’s leading helmet. Regarding the ProCap, the inventor’s company paid Penn State’s Biomechanics Laboratory “to conduct studies on dummy heads with and without ProCaps. The conclusion: ProCap reduced impacts of collisions by as much as a third.” The lab’s founder, Richard Nelson, wrote in the report he sent to ProCap, “It is my opinion that the ProCap should be mandatory for all football players.” Nonetheless, the NFL began warning players in 1996 that using the ProCap risked “catastrophic neck injuries, including possible death.” The NFL’s 2013 player’s manual continued with the same warning, and Riddell salespeople were still warning people off of the ProCap in 2012.

Taking in and using innovations like ProCap won’t solve all or even most of the NFL’s brain injury problems, but they’re a big step in the right direction, as the lab data show. And the move away from hard plastic shells should be extended to shoulder and knee pads. We need to make padding that protects players but also does make their heads, shoulders, and knees into (intentional or unintentional) weapons.

2. Outlaw the three-point stance

New rules recently introduced — that, for instance, bar helmet-to-helmet contact — also help, and the NFL has reported that concussions are down 25% since last year. We need to understand, though, that concussions are only part of the bigger problem, which is the constant jarring of the brain that causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE): “frank concussions [those transmitted by a single blow to the head] are only one piece of the larger CTE problem. The most recent science indicates that the accumulation of separate sub-concussive hits is as damaging as a single frank concussion.”

Jeff Nessbaum in Atlantic Magazine suggests an excellent idea related to the following quote, which continues directly from the one above: “And the vast majority of those hits take place in the trenches, between offensive and defensive linemen who start in a low stance and fire up and at each other when the ball is snapped. For most linemen, this fierce helmet-to-helmet collision takes place on nearly every play.” Nessbaum suggests the way to alleviate that constant jarring is to eliminate the three-point stance, where offensive and defensive linemen put one hand on the ground and, when the ball is snapped, typically fire out toward each other. In contrast, when players stand upright (in a ‘two-point’ stance) they typically rely on vision, speed, leverage and agility and tend not to make their bodies and heads into battering rams.

As Nussabum writes, this innovation will change the way offensive and defensive lines play the game, but in a positive way that enhances offenses and dynamism, which is what most fans want to see. Frankly, though, most fans wouldn’t care much about the change, since we tend to focus on what the skill players are doing rather than on the interior linemen.

3. Shrink the size of players

My own suggestion is to greatly cut back on the size of players. The NFL could set weight limits on players so average weights returned to what they were in the 1960s. Football was fine back then so I don’t see how this would affect ‘the essence of the game’ at all. Specifically, I think the maximum weight for ‘LARGE’ players (no more than five on the field at a time) should be set at 280 for players over 6’6”, and then should be ratcheted down to 270 for those 6’4” to 6’6”, 260 for those 6’2” to 6’4”, and 250 for players under 6’2”. For other players the weights should be ratcheted down another 15-20 percent from the preceding. I realize these restrictions seem severe on first look, but actually it’s the out-of-control enormity of present day players that’s way out of whack. ‘Forcing’ a young man to keep his weight no more than 25% above the norm for his height seems reasonable (and contributes to that player’s long-term health, by the way). And, of course, radically reducing average player weight meaningfully decreases the severity of the collisions that cause concussions and sub-concussive brain injury.

I’m happy to entertain any other ideas you have for making the game safer, or on the NFL or football in general. But, by the way, you probably should not attack the third idea with the notion that “you can’t do that, it discriminates against large people.” That’s just incorrect. Businesses can regulate such matters out of safety considerations. and that is the whole motivation of my proposal.

Slave or Free, a Tale of Trade Treaties

By: Synoia Sunday February 1, 2015 12:11 am

What you do or do not do will affect your children, and their children and their children.

The question being re-asked is: People over Property or Property over People? If we pick the wrong choice, we will stand to lose all those rights which we hold dear, and which are our only protection from government and private tyranny. As we will show, this is a worldwide problem, not limited only to Americans, so we suggest that everyone pay some attention.

We are all familiar with the concept brought into very public discussion by Occupy Wall Street: Inequality and the excessive financial gains of the 0.1%.

Video:Syriza a Rare Game Changer-A Challenge to the Money Masters Cabal

By: jbade Saturday January 31, 2015 10:45 am

Syriza, the Greek left, has the potential to be a rare game changer for the world. In flipping the bird to the Banksters, Greece may join Iceland in freeing it’s people from decades of austerity, generations long debt burden and negative interference by those whose only interest is to exploit  your people/natural resources. The Danes should receive an honorable  mention for making the banksters eat their bad investments and suffer additional tax an regulatory burdens as response to their conduct in the financial crisis.

This is like the Mafia, no one leaves/defies the “family” of banksters. Retribution for defiance will be harsh, coordinated and sustained. Unfortunately for the banksters they were engaged in such harsh, coordinated and intended to sustain the brutal austerity/resource stripping policies it forwards on every country they “help!”. That forced the Greeks and Icelanders to act with the righteous belief that it could not be worse than what banksters have in store for them.

There are more reasons to be hopeful that the death-grip of the 1%/banksters has on mankind is starting to falter. The Brazilians paid off their IMF/bankster loan and wer smart enough to reject the IMF’s subsequent pleas to re-enslave themselves, demonstrating an absolutely glorious understanding of how to grow nations economy for the benefit of the country/it’s people.

The banksters/Wall Street own two-thirds of all industry by one means or another. That is done by design. Their parasitic grip on the economy is so damaging  to all those who labor under its model corporate fascism. This warmongering cabal of bankers  work on the concept of producing scarcity and dependency, not abundance and freedom.

I watched this video more than a decade ago. It  is factually without flaw. It is for all intent and purpose and accounting of how 80 individuals own over half the accumulated wealth of the world. Our enslavement at the hands of banksters/politicians is all but a given as the current system demands such outcome, as articulated in this excellent documentary.

What is the most common factor in whether or not you are bombed, in a humanitarian fashion, by the USA? Clue-it’s not oil—-It is whether or not you have submitted to having a Central Bank(the fed) that is aligned with the the US Federal Reserve(IMF)ect.

Libya “No Central Bank” had just offered no interest loans to African nations to help free them from the IMF ?Banksters Cabal

Iran -No Central Bank-  Trading oil for Gold

Russia -No Central Bank

Syria – No central Bank

Iraq- No Central Bank until we bombed them into accepting one- Saddam wanted to trade Gold for Oil-a big no-no

China- has not a full participant in in The Central Banking Cabal

When we bombed Libya into the fifth century  virtually the only thing we did after the devastation was to make sure that Libya was forced to take a central bank, the deal was negotiated with the Rebels, they received three magic beans for selling out to the banksters.

Yes, refusing to subject your country, your people to a parasitic banking cabal who is there for the sole purpose of  denying wealth and power to the masses to assure they maintain dominion over mankind, will not be tolerated.

So we should all admire those who voted in Syriza, those who have done what Americans do not/would not even dare to dream of-  voting to replace the ruling class with a political party who is not part of the Bankster’s machine, this is one of the few times in my life that the people have risen up for “change”, actual change. Venezuela, Argentina and Brazil are countries who, in varying degrees, rejected the Bankster Cabal. The Northern European Countries also have fared better at stopping the extraction of their countries wealth.

We should honor our Syrizian brothers and sisters as they partake in the Herculean task of challenging the Bankers for the benefit of all Mankind, a task we in the US show no signs of , in anyway, challenging. The little guy, Greece, with their Icelandic brothers as their guides go forth to do battle with the banksters in an effort to save mankind from the banksters continuing and increasingly successful efforts to deliver us into serfdom.

Good luck Syriza, your battle is ours- we apologize that most are to stupid, immoral to understand or care about what we leave for those who follow

 

My Big Fat Greek Debt

By: Pluto Friday January 30, 2015 5:25 pm

Alexis Tsipras is the newly elected Prime Minister of Greece since 26 January 2015. One of the young leftwing radicals of the Syriza party, Alexis Tsipras is sweeping away the age of austerity. He made good on his promises to voters in a startling fashion:

One by one they were rolled back, blitzkrieg-style, mercilessly, ruthlessly, with rat-a-tat efficiency. First the barricades came down outside the Greek parliament. Then it was announced that privatisation schemes would be halted and pensions reinstated. And then came the news of the reintroduction of the €751 monthly minimum wage. And all before Greece’s new prime minister had got his first cabinet meeting under way.

After that, ministers announced more measures: the scrapping of fees for prescriptions and hospital visits, the restoration of collective work agreements, the rehiring of workers laid off in the public sector, the granting of citizenship to migrant children born and raised in Greece.

On his first day in office – barely 48 hours after storming to power – Tsipras got to work. The biting austerity his Syriza party had fought so long to annul now belonged to the past, and this was the beginning not of a new chapter but a book for the country long on the frontline of the euro crisis.

Then, today, the coup d’état. Alexis Tsipras wrote an “Open Letter to Germany: That Which You Were Never Told About Greece.”

It’s a letter of the times we live in. A letter of the moment for all mankind being crushed by the corrupt elite financiers of the world. It’s a declaration of independence.

Authored by Alexis Tsipras via Syriza.net

Most of you, dear [German] readers, will have formed a preconception of what this article is about before you actually read it. I am imploring you not to succumb to such preconceptions. Prejudice was never a good guide, especially during periods when an economic crisis reinforces stereotypes and breeds biggotry, nationalism, even violence.

In 2010, the Greek state ceased to be able to service its debt. Unfortunately, European officials decided to pretend that this problem could be overcome by means of the largest loan in history on condition of fiscal austerity that would, with mathematical precision, shrink the national income from which both new and old loans must be paid. An insolvency problem was thus dealt with as if it were a case of illiquidity.

In other words, Europe adopted the tactics of the least reputable bankers who refuse to acknowledge bad loans, preferring to grant new ones to the insolvent entity so as to pretend that the original loan is performing while extending the bankruptcy into the future. Nothing more than common sense was required to see that the application of the ‘extend and pretend’ tactic would lead my country to a tragic state. That instead of Greece’s stabilization, Europe was creating the circumstances for a self-reinforcing crisis that undermines the foundations of Europe itself.

My party, and I personally, disagreed fiercely with the May 2010 loan agreement not because you, the citizens of Germany, did not give us enough money but because you gave us much, much more than you should have and our government accepted far, far more than it had a right to. Money that would, in any case, neither help the people of Greece (as it was being thrown into the black hole of an unsustainable debt) nor prevent the ballooning of Greek government debt, at great expense to the Greek and German taxpayer.

Indeed, even before a full year had gone by, from 2011 onwards, our predictions were confirmed. The combination of gigantic new loans and stringent government spending cuts that depressed incomes not only failed to rein the debt in but, also, punished the weakest of citizens turning people who had hitherto been living a measured, modest life into paupers and beggars, denying them above all else their dignity. The collapse of incomes pushed thousands of firms into bankruptcy boosting the oligopolistic power of surviving large firms. Thus, prices have been falling but more slowly than wages and salaries, pushing down overall demand for goods and services and crushing nominal incomes while debts continue their inexorable rise. In this setting, the deficit of hope accelerated uncontrollably and, before we knew it, the ‘serpent’s egg’ hatched – the result being neo-Nazis patrolling our neighbourhoods, spreading their message of hatred.

Despite the evident failure of the ‘extend and pretend’ logic, it is still being implemented to this day. The second Greek ‘bailout’, enacted in the Spring of 2012, added another huge loan on the weakened shoulders of the Greek taxpayers, “haircut” our social security funds, and financed a ruthless new cleptocracy.

Respected commentators have been referring of recent to Greece’s stabilization, even of signs of growth. Alas, ‘Greek-covery’ is but a mirage which we must put to rest as soon as possible. The recent modest rise of real GDP, to the tune of 0.7%, signals not the end of recession (as has been proclaimed) but, rather, its continuation. Think about it: The same official sources report, for the same quarter, an inflation rate of -1.80%, i.e. deflation. Which means that the 0.7% rise in real GDP was due to a negative growth rate of nominal GDP! In other words, all that happened is that prices declined faster than nominal national income. Not exactly a cause for proclaiming the end of six years of recession!

Allow me to submit to you that this sorry attempt to recruit a new version of ‘Greek statistics’, in order to declare the ongoing Greek crisis over, is an insult to all Europeans who, at long last, deserve the truth about Greece and about Europe. So, let me be frank: Greece’s debt is currently unsustainable and will never be serviced, especially while Greece is being subjected to continuous fiscal waterboarding. The insistence in these dead-end policies, and in the denial of simple arithmetic, costs the German taxpayer dearly while, at once, condemning to a proud European nation to permanent indignity. What is even worse: In this manner, before long the Germans turn against the Greeks, the Greeks against the Germans and, unsurprisingly, the European Ideal suffers catastrophic losses.

Germany, and in particular the hard-working German workers, have nothing to fear from a SYRIZA victory. The opposite holds true. Our task is not to confront our partners. It is not to secure larger loans or, equivalently, the right to higher deficits. Our target is, rather, the country’s stabilization, balanced budgets and, of course, the end of the grand squeeze of the weaker Greek taxpayers in the context of a loan agreement that is simply unenforceable. We are committed to end ‘extend and pretend’ logic not against German citizens but with a view to the mutual advantages for all Europeans.

Dear readers, I understand that, behind your ‘demand’ that our government fulfills all of its ‘contractual obligations’ hides the fear that, if you let us Greeks some breathing space, we shall return to our bad, old ways. I acknowledge this anxiety. However, let me say that it was not SYRIZA that incubated the cleptocracy which today pretends to strive for ‘reforms’, as long as these ‘reforms’ do not affect their ill-gotten privileges. We are ready and willing to introduce major reforms for which we are now seeking a mandate to implement from the Greek electorate, naturally in collaboration with our European partners.

Our task is to bring about a European New Deal within which our people can breathe, create and live in dignity.

A great opportunity for Europe is about to be born in Greece. An opportunity Europe can ill afford to miss.

Take that, neoliberals.

Is this guy great, or what?

Oh, and to his everlasting credit, Alexis Tsipras single-handedly attempted to block the European/US Vassal States’ ridiculous and self-destructive sanctions against Russia.

Speaking in May 2014 (ahead of Ukraine’s elections) new Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras made very clear why he is now against Germany’s push for further sanctions against Russia.

[The SYRIZA] party believes that the new government in Ukraine came to power as a result of a coup, and call it a junta.

“We should not accept or recognize the government of neo-Nazis in Ukraine,” the Athens News Agency quotes Tsipras who believes that the Ukrainian people should decide their future themselves.

Speaking about different peoples’ movements for self-determination, Tsipras said that the European left respected the right to self-determination, but nationalism and clashes could not lead to positive results.

“We in the EU should not give preference to changing borders, but must respect the position of the peoples, who have decided to create a Federation within the state,” said the SYRIZA leader.

Why Do We Fear Love?

By: Robert J. Burrowes Friday January 30, 2015 4:38 pm

Why do human beings fear love? That is, why do we fear loving ourselves and others, and why do we fear being fully loved ourselves?

If someone does not receive what they need emotionally as a child, their capacity to give will be limited accordingly. The less of what they need they actually get, the less they will be able to give (and the more they will take for themselves without consideration for others). In order to give, one must have experienced receiving during childhood. If we do not experience love in a way that is truly meaningful, then we will never be able to love ourselves. And if we do not love ourselves, we cannot truly love another.

So what does loving really mean? To me, love means to feel a deep and abiding commitment to nurture the full evolutionary potential in someone, whether ourselves or another. Love might have other elements in particular contexts, such as in a sexual relationship or between a parent and a child, but its most genuine manifestation is its desire to nurture.

If you do not love a child just for being themselves, they will never achieve their evolutionary potential. That is, if you do not love a child enough to let them make each one of their own life choices, no matter how trivial or profound this choice might be, or to have their full emotional response whenever this choice is denied them, then they will never become their ‘True Self’ and they will never learn to fully love. For a comprehensive explanation of this, see ‘Why Violence?’ and ‘Fearless Psychology and Fearful Psychology: Principles and Practice’.

So where does obedience fit into all of this? It doesn’t. Those who require obedience are frightened. And fear is the opposite of love. If you want someone to do what you want, you are frightened, not loving. The poets and songwriters have long told us that love is ‘letting go’. The person in your cage is not a loved companion; the individual who is genuinely free but chooses to stay feels loved.

One complicated variation of the fear of loving that sometimes arises is that a child may not be loved by one parent (or even both) and yet this or both parents will want the child to delude themselves that they are, in fact, loved. This might happen, for example, when a child is aware at some level that they are not loved by one parent and gets angry about this lack of love (which might be manifesting in any number of ways). However, the other parent, anxious to maintain their own delusion about being loved by their spouse, will interfere in the expression of the child’s anger by distracting the child from how they feel (for example, by counselling the child to be ‘understanding’) or by punishing the child for the expression of their feelings and the truth that this entails. Of course, this circumstance will manifest repeatedly in the form of ongoing differences between the parents and the child but the larger picture will be utterly obscure to all those involved (invariably including any professionals whose help they seek).

But apart from those people who are too afraid to love, some people learn to fear being loved. Why is this? Because being loved unconsciously reminds them of not being loved as a child. And this is frightening, extraordinarily painful and infuriating. This is the main reason that some people unconsciously seek out and marry violent partners. Tragically, for these people, the ongoing violence they experience in an abusive relationship is less painful than the many unpleasant feelings that would surface if they were now loved by their spouse. To reiterate: being loved now would raise the deeply suppressed feelings of sadness, fear, pain and anger that they were not loved during childhood.

This is also why many more people, quite unconsciously, go to considerable lengths to avoid feeling loved ‘too much’: it is just too painful to risk triggering the suppressed memories of a childhood devoid of (or at least terribly deficient in) love. And they will stay in a relationship that is devoid of love, or even violent, while the people around them cannot understand why they do so and encourage them to leave. As a generalisation, the people who work to support victims of domestic violence do not understand this aspect of the problem thus making their support work much less effective. Lack of Self-esteem and Self-love is only one dimension of the problem; fear of being loved is another.

Another reason someone might fear being loved is because it raises feelings about the ‘duties’ that derive from being loved. If, during childhood, being ‘loved’ was made conditional on the child behaving in a certain way in relation to the parent(s), then once the child is older they may fear being loved because it is unconsciously associated with the onerous responsibility to behave in particular, Self-denying ways. In some contexts, this might include interpreting any declaration of love to require a sexual response, whether or not this type of response was actually intended/invited.

Of course there are cultural constraints on who we can love too. In some societies, people of the same sex might avoid using the term ‘love’ in relation to each other for fear of being seen as homosexual. And, of course, in explicitly homophobic societies, homosexual individuals might also fear expressing their love.

Another category of people who are terrified of love consists of those individuals who offer trinkets designed to give them a sense of control over another person, rather than to offer gifts that will, in some way, be a response to what the other person actually needs. Of course, control is no substitute for love and cannot meet the trinket-giver’s needs but their fear of love stops them engaging more deeply.

If you wish to join the worldwide movement to end the violence that frightens us out of loving, you are welcome to sign the online pledge of ‘The People’s Charter to Create a Nonviolent World’.

Experiencing what it means to love and be loved, fully and unconditionally, requires us to feel our fear of love.

***

Biodata: Robert has a lifetime commitment to understanding and ending human violence. He has done extensive research since 1966 in an effort to understand why human beings are violent and has been a nonviolent activist since 1981. He is the author of ‘Why Violence?’ His email address is flametree@riseup.net and his website is here.

Ukraine Tipping

By: williamboardman Friday January 30, 2015 4:32 pm

Ukraine’s Going to Get a Lot Worse Before it Starts Getting Worse 

By William Boardman – Reader Supported News  [1.13.15] 

Ethno-Linguistic Map of Ukraine

Pretty much everything about Ukraine is murky and unreliable these days, and that’s before you take into consideration any of the meddling by outside powers playing carelessly with their Slavic pawns. Viewed in their darkest light, the events of the past 20 months (and the past 20 years) reflect an East-West death spiral that is now accelerating, and from which none of the engaged parties show any desire to disengage.

 

The civil war in eastern Ukraine has continued fitfully since September, when the parties signed a ceasefire known as the Minsk Agreement. The ceasefire has often been more honored in the breach than the observance, but overall it has led to considerably less bloodshed, especially among civilians, than the previous six months fighting. In the spring of 2014, the level of killing escalated sharply, at U.S. urging, when the newly-installed coup government in Kiev chose to attack rather than negotiate with the self-proclaimed People’s Republic of Donetsk and People’s Republic of Luhansk (now joined in the self-proclaimed federal state of Novorossiya). So far, only the Republic of South Ossetia has recognized these Ukrainian “republics” as independent countries. Only Russia, Nicaragua, Venezuela, and Nauru recognize South Ossetia, which declared its independence from Georgia in 1990, but secured it only in 2008 with the help of Russian intervention.

 

By comparison, the much smaller Republic of Kosovo, which declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, quickly secured that independence thanks to American and NATO military intervention, illustrating the double standard applied by the international community to questions of “territorial integrity” and “sovereignty.” Landlocked Kosovo, population about 1.8 million, is now recognized by 108 UN member countries, including the U.S., Canada, most of Europe, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, and Yemen.

 

During the summer of 2014, the Ukrainian military captured much of the territory of the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk and other separatist-held areas, but at significant cost to the civilian population.  An estimated 2.8 million ethnic Russians have emigrated from Ukraine to Russia during the past year. The Ukrainian army’s advance was halted by Russian military support to the Republics that Russia denies it provided, just as the U.S. and other NATO countries deny the support they have given Ukraine. The two Republics now hold about 3 million people and have access to the Black Sea along the southern border.

 

Does anyone really want a settlement in Ukraine?

 

In advance of the then-pending high level international meeting in Kazakhstan, each side was claiming the other had increasingly violated the ceasefire with small-arms fire, mortar shelling, and rocket attacks in recent days. An unnamed AP reporter has reported seeing Ukrainian rockets fired at separatist positions. Now that Ukraine and the outside powers have scrapped the peace talks, the Ukraine government has claimed that a separatist rocket killed ten civilians in a bus at the Donetsk airport, a key battlefield for months now. Unconfirmed, this report is somewhat credulously reported by Reuters and the New York Times, among others, while the Los Angeles Times awaited independent verification. [This is one of the memes of the Ukraine conflict, a war crime that each side blames on the other while people in the outside world believe the truth is what supports their political bias: another version of the same story played similarly in October.]

 

Ukraine initiated the January 15 peace talks only to have Ukraine effectively scuttle the opportunity. The self-contradictory sequence of events seems to have gone something like this: Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko, the billionaire chocolate oligarch, announced in late December that he’d be meeting in the Kazakh capital of Astana on January 15 with French President Francois Hollande and Russian President Vladimir Putin as well as German Chancellor Angela Merkel. As of January 10, these countries had yet to confirm such a meeting. Meanwhile Merkel met with Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, America’s guy-in-Ukraine, and then threw doubt on whether the January 15 meeting would happen at all, or whether there would be any other meeting to continue working toward keeping Ukraine from collapsing into a failed state.

 

In other words: when Ukraine’s president announces a peace talks, Ukraine’s prime minister meets with a key player and the peace talks get called off. Who’s in charge here?  According to the Ukrainian constitution, both have governing authority – sort of. There is no constitutional mechanism for resolving tension between these offices when the office holders choose to butt heads (as happened earlier with President Viktor Yushenko, a central banker whose policies enraged Communists and oligarchs alike, and Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko, an enraged natural gas oligarch). This structural dysfunction built into the Ukraine constitution is one reason Ukraine has been unable to govern itself effectively for more than a decade during which it has become a world-class kleptocracy.

 

Why does Merkel set conditions she knows are impossible?

 

In establishing her “reasons” for blocking peace talks, German Chancellor Merkel created a cover story that sounded vaguely credible, but made no sense to anyone who understood that the terms she called for were, at best, years away from being achieved, if they were achievable at all. As the Times reported it: “Merkel made clear that the entire Minsk agreement needs to be fulfilled before European Union sanctions against Russia can be lifted.” The American choice for Ukrainian leadership, Yatsenyuk echoed Merkel’s word cloud, but added his own obviously self-serving priority: sealing the border between the Republics and Russia.

 

The Minsk agreement reflects a peace proposal first put forward by Ukrainian President Poroshenko in June 2014. There are only four material signatories to the Minsk agreement: Ukraine, Russia, and the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk. The agreement was reached under the auspices of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the only other signatory. One unstated presumption of the agreement is that the Republics of Donetsk and Luhansk will be re-integrated into Ukraine with all their rights intact. The Minsk agreement comprises 12 unprioritized points, each of which is an aspirational goal for both sides, even though some elements can be achieved only by one side or another:

 

  1. Bilateral ceasefire
  2. OSCE monitoring of ceasefire
  3. Decentralization of power under law to be passed by Ukraine
  4. Permanent OSCE monitoring of Ukraine-Russia border
  5. Release of all hostages
  6. Amnesty for separatists, Ukraine to pass law
  7. Continue inclusive national dialogue
  8. Improve humanitarian condition of Donbass
  9. Local elections consistent with Ukraine law
  10. All sides withdraw illegal and mercenary military forces

11.Adoption of Donbass recovery and reconstruction program

  1. Protect all participants in consultations

 

In effect, the Minsk agreement is a somewhat messy 12-step program designed to help those people who, along with their friends and relatives, remain addicted to uncontrolled outbursts of internecine violence. Call it “Ukraine-anon.” Like any 12-step program, the participants typically need the support of those close to them if they are to succeed in improving their lives. When someone like Angela Merkel, who is outside the formal process, colludes with someone supposedly within the process to undermine the process, the process will likely be sabotaged. That appears to be what happened, at least for the short run.

 

Given the sketchy quality of the Minsk agreement, using it as a standard for international behavior is irrational, or deliberately dishonest and hostile. The agreement calls, for example, for early local elections, which the Republics held, after the elections in the rest of the Ukraine in the fall of 2014. The Republics’ elections were widely denounced in the West as a violation of the Minsk  agreement, even though Ukraine had failed to pass the law under which they were supposed to be held.

 

Until the West stops assaulting Russia, calls for peace are a bad joke

 

Merkel’s position, reflecting that of Prime Minister Yatsenyuk and his American sponsors, is deceitful and destructive. To suspend the peace process until the Minsk agreement can be fully realized is to knowingly to prolong hostilities for an uncertain number of years.  To make EU sanctions on Russia dependent on fully implementing the Minsk agreement is to give Ukraine a veto on the EU. The agreement cannot be fully implemented until Ukraine adopts the appropriate laws, and there’s little to persuade Ukraine to do that other than its own motives.  If Ukraine fails to pass the promised laws, Merkel would have the EU continue to punish Russia, which seems to be what the game has been about for over 20 years already.

 

Russia and Ukraine appear to be at a tipping point, and conceivably the delicate balance in those and other affected countries could last for a long time. Or other actors, including the United Nations, could act to help stabilize the region and to ameliorate the economic and human rights damage that threatens to continue unchecked. More likely, the U.S. and Europe will continue their policies of deliberate de-stabilization until the day when it all implodes and Washington will point a finger and say: “See what Russia’s done now!?”

 

There are many straws blowing in that wind, and for now it looks like an ill wind blowing no good. A sampling of those straws:

 

* The Ukraine Freedom Support Act of 2014 passed both houses of Congress unanimously, without debate and without a recorded vote. The President signed it into law December 18. The 17-page bill is a model of cold-war-style duplicity cloaking a virtual declaration of global war in the rhetoric of high principle, imaginary threats, and sloppy grammar:

 

“It is the policy of the United States to further assist the Government of Ukraine in restoring its sovereignty and territorial integrity to deter the Government of the Russian Federation from further destabilizing and invading Ukraine and other independent countries in Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia.”

 

Among other things, the bill authorizes the president to impose seven pages of further sanctions on Russia, interfere in Russian democracy and civil society, expand American propaganda broadcasting in the region, expand non-military support to Ukraine, and initiate $350 million in military aid to Ukraine over the next three years.  The bill’s last section says it is not to be “construed as an authorization for the use of military force.”

 

When President Obama signed the bill into law, the White House issued a statement having the president say, in part, with all due sanctimony and duplicity:

 

“My Administration will continue to work closely with allies and partners in Europe and internationally to respond to developments in Ukraine and will continue to review and calibrate our sanctions to respond to Russia’s actions. We again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.”

 

* Ukraine is an impoverished country approaching economic collapse. The new Ukrainian finance minister, Natalie Jaresko, is an American citizen who managed a Ukrainian-based, U.S.-created hedge fund that was charged with illegal insider trading. She also managed a CIA fund that supported “pro-democracy” movements and laundered much of the $5 billion the U.S. spent supporting the Maidan protests that led to the Kiev coup in February 2014. Jaresko is a big fan of austerity for people in troubled economies.

 

* Writing in the New York Review of books for January 7, billionaire George Soros sees Europe and the United States dithering toward failure not just for Ukraine, but Europe. Soros doesn’t challenge the official view of “Russian aggression” or “attempts to destabilize Ukraine” and the rest of that propaganda line that underpins sanctions. Challenging conventional wisdom, Soros focuses instead on the current, inherent, unaddressed, and enduring instability from maintaining a kleptocratic state:

 

“… the old Ukraine is far from dead. It dominates the civil service and the judiciary, and remains very present in the private (oligarchic and kleptocratic) sectors of the economy. Why should state employees work for practically no salary unless they can use their position as a license to extort bribes? And how can a business sector that was nurtured on corruption and kickbacks function without its sweeteners? These retrograde elements are locked in battle with the reformists.”

 

Essentially, Soros argues that reforming Ukraine into an honest modern state that offers opportunity and reliable justice will be at least as effective a response to Russia as the current continued hostility and half-hearted efforts in Kiev. To achieve this, he posits a $50 billion aid package, when the EU is having a hard time managing $2 billion. His view is openly idealistic:

 

“By helping Ukraine, Europe may be able to recapture the values and principles on which the European Union was originally founded. That is why I am arguing so passionately that Europe needs to undergo a change of heart. The time to do it is right now.”

 

Right or wrong, this is visionary and the world of conventional wisdom is not buying it. The U.S. and the EU seem determined to continue taking the familiar and comfortable actions they know will fail in the same old ways.

 

* Perhaps the most vivid sign that the failures of the past foreshadow the failures of the future is the rise of Sen. John McCain to the chairmanship of the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he will sometimes be able to exercise near-veto power over the White House’s constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy. In a fawning verbal lap dance in the N.Y. Times of January 13, Sheryl Gay Stolberg characterizes McCain’s apparent inability to learn from failure as his being “untamed.” The reporter allows that McCain is “bellicose,” but frames his responsibility to the nation and the world as a question of whether he will “make war or some accommodation with the White House.” McCain is on record to increase Pentagon spending and to keep the Guantanamo prison camp open, and speaks with open bitterness about the president’s failure to give him a phone call. As Stolberg says about McCain: “If he had his way, the United States would have ground troops in Syria, more troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, and a steady supply of arms going to Ukraine.”

 

Even as the Ukraine ceasefire was taking effect after the Minsk agreement was signed, McCain was calling for the U.S. to arm Ukraine for defense against a “Russian invasion” that he sees as part of Putin’s plan to “re-establish the old Russian empire.” McCain also called for the U.S. to send military “advisors.”

 

Maybe the future won’t be dominated by the struggle between those who are satisfied with just a little war on Russia’s border and those who want a whole lot more war because that’s all they know. We’ll see, no doubt. And for now, the unheeded warnings of former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev continue to fall on unhearing ears, and unseeing leaders on all sides grope their way into “a vortex with no way out.”

 

How long can the present balance of instability last?

 

 

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

 

Pentagon Silent on Current Use of DU in Iraq

By: David Swanson Friday January 30, 2015 10:07 am

Back in October, I reported that, “A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard’s 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). . . . Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, ‘There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.’”

This week I have left an email message and a phone message for Mark Wright at the Pentagon. Here’s what I emailed, after consulting with Wim Zwijnenburg of PaxForPeace.nl:

“Recent reports by CENTCOM have noted that 11% of the U.S. sorties have been flown by A-10s , and that a wide range of attacks on tanks and armored vehicles have taken place.  Can you confirm that  PGU-14 30mm munitions with depleted uranium in the A-10s (and any other DU weapons) have not been used during these attacks. And if not, why not? Thanks!”

I sent that email on January 28 and left a voice message January 30.

You’d think there’d be lots of reporters calling with the same question and reporting the answer. But then it’s only Iraqis, I guess.