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  • It is almost never mentioned any more that Gaza was seized from Egypt and the West Bank from Jordan during the Six Day War. Neither of these dictatorships ever demands the return of their lost territory because they, like Israel, find the populations troublesome and prefer they be kept under tight Israeli control. Right wing [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post Ukraine, Negroponte & missiles — oh my! by Jane Stillwater.

    2014-07-24 04:58:01View | Delete

    I think you’d make a better case sticking to proven facts and avoding speculation. Neocons like Nuland and Carl Gershman did stir up opposition to the elected, if corrupt, government in Kiev. Neo-nazis have been prominent in that opposition and current government. US politicians and media figures have relentlessly demonized Putin. None of that means [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post Commander Behind Bin Laden Killing: FBI/DHS Wasting Time Tracking Environmentalists by Steve Horn.

    2014-06-06 07:11:41View | Delete

    The focus on harmless environmental protestors is no surprise. They are surveilled for the very reason that they operate openly and are not dangerous. This means that law enforcement officers have a very easy and very safe way to justify their jobs, and those of their superiors. We saw the same phenomenon at work in [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post New big Ukraine lie: “Russia amassing troops at the border!!” by fairleft.

    2014-04-02 14:53:51View | Delete

    Yes, it seems clear enough that Russia is not massing troops on the Ukraine border any more than Saddam Hussein was building atom bombs. But even if he was, I fail to see how that presents any threat to the EU or the US. As Prof. Stephen Cohen endlessly and fruitlessly points out , the [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post In Memoriam: Jonathan Schell (1943-2014) by Tom Engelhardt.

    2014-03-31 12:55:07View | Delete

    A wonderful tribute. Sadly, few Americans know of Jonathan Schell’s vitally important work. My first knowledge of him came in the 1980s with his “Fate of the Earth” which did so much to inspire the Nuclear Freeze movement. He would certainly understand how critically important it is for the US to back away from antagonizing [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post The War Activists by David Swanson.

    2014-03-27 18:11:09View | Delete

    Thanks to you and Sarah B for info on the NED. I remember way back when Bayard Rustin headed the same Social Democrats USA splinter party which Carl Gershman then took over. The SD was a pet project of right wing teacher unionist Al Shanker and given an office by him in the old UFT [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post The War Activists by David Swanson.

    2014-03-22 09:18:32View | Delete

    David, you might also want to do some research on The National Endowment for Democracy, headed for years by a little known activist named Carl Gershman. The NED is a private foundation funded almost entirely by the US congress, set up under Reagan, with the goal of “spreading democracy.” The NED is said to have [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post The new Ukraine’s first law revokes Russian language rights by fairleft.

    2014-02-25 18:33:52View | Delete

    I admit that my understanding of Russian is limited but I had the idea that Russian and Ukrainian are very similar, more like two different accents of the same language than anything else. My impression was that the they were as close as,say, the English spoken in New York vs. the English spoken in Alabama. [...]

  • This is not a surprise, although the corroboration of what already seemed pretty evident is welcome. The crowd in Washington – both NSA and its political enablers- barely pretend that their mass collection of data has anything to do with terrorism. Given the shortage of linguists in such languages and Arabic and Farsi, as the NY Times reported a few weeks ago, NSA staff cannot even understand what supposed terrorists are saying unless they happen to speak English. And of course, any serious terrorists will not be using their own laptops or phones listed under their own names. They can always pick up a variety of anonymous prepaid throwaway devices so that even if their conversations are picked up, they will remain invisible. A half-hearted attempt by Senators Schumer and Cornyn in 2010 to require IDs and a database for such prepaids went nowhere, probably because of opposition from Verizon, AT&T and other prepaid providers. (See A Huge Gap in Our Security)

  • valatius commented on the diary post Over Easy: Capitalist Withdrawal and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) by yellowsnapdragon.

    2013-11-06 09:54:02View | Delete

    George Monbiot is writing about the other free trade deal between Europe and the US- a mirror image of the Trans Pacific deal. The Europeans have been stalling on the deal since discovering that the NSA has been spying on them and Kerry is busy trying to get them to cave in. German and other [...]

  • It is possible that Obama can be forced to accept peace. Of course, Kerry was not serious in proposing that Syria place his chemical arms under international control, as the NY Times reports today: Mr. Kerry’s own spokeswoman described as a rhetorical exercise rather than a proposal.

    But the fact that Russia and the Ban Ki Moon are taking it seriously could box Obama into a corner. This makes it all the more imperative that his war authorization proposal be defeated.

  • You can move republican Chris Gibson (NY-20) from undecided to a firm no on the war authorization vote, based on a statement on his website.

  • I would not overestimate Obamas desire to go to war. In the case of Syria, he talked himself into a corner with that red line comment and then did not want to appear weak when poison gas was detected. In fairness, any US president will be intent on maintaining the authority and powers of the [...]

  • valatius commented on the diary post War With Syria: Where Do Your Congressional Representatives Stand? by Jane Hamsher.

    2013-08-31 13:14:42View | Delete

    Chris Gibson, Republican from NY-20, says he is opposed to war. He has also supported the Amash amendment to rein in the NSA.

  • valatius commented on the diary post Lying About Syria, and the Lying Liars Who Lie About the Lying by David Swanson.

    2013-08-25 14:01:49View | Delete

    When the Western powers went to war with Ottoman Turkey in 1914, Syria did not exist as a distinct nation or as a people. If anything, Syria, Palestine and Jordan were considered as more or less one big Arabic-speaking area that was up for grabs. Churchills original plan was to install a member of the [...]

  • I also thought that Martin Luther Kings response reflected the uneasiness of so many in the movement with the openly socialist and gay Bayard Rustin. The estrangement increased in succeeding years the only welcome he found was from the UFT where I used to see him from time to time. In 1968 that teachers union, led by one time socialist Al Shanker, fought a bitter battle against community control of the New York City schools. Rustin sided with Shanker and since the communities in question were largely black, he was further estranged from the civil rights activists. For those interested in this sad period of Rustins life, this essay by Daniel Pearlstein may be of interest.

    Shanker and his successor Sandy Feldman were consciously socialist (she had a portrait of Eugene V. Debs in her office) but after the racial conflicts of 1968, their socialism assumed a distinctly rightwing form. They sponsored a quasi-party, Social Democrats USA, to reflect their ideology and installed Rustin as its leader in an office in their building on lower Park Avenue. This odd little party drew in such rightwing Democrats as Reagans UN ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick and other early neocon types.

  • valatius commented on the diary post Why Don’t Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Lawyers Speak Up? by E. F. Beall.

    2013-08-18 13:26:54View | Delete

    E.F., I dont find your arguments against the Tsarnaev brothers guilt to be convincing. That type of bomb is certainly easy enough to make and the idea that such devices would be part of some mysterious drill does not seem very credible. I have enjoyed some of your other posts, but this series appears to [...]

  • valatius commented on the blog post Mass Consumption Created and Killed the Middle Class

    2013-08-18 13:04:32View | Delete

    Very good essay, but it also might be interesting to think about about the role of inflation in this sorry history. The rise of the middle class after WWII was accompanied by a steady but manageable inflation as wages and prices both kept going up. Then came the huge deficit spending of the Viet Nam War, immediately followed by the first of several oil crises.

    When inflation peaked at 15% in January 1980,the election of Reagan was pretty much assured and when he took office, the prime rate had been pushed up to 20.5%, based on the theory that choking off credit will kill inflation. Well, it nearly killed off Reagan administration but he was saved by the effect of shifting manufacturing overseas while pumping money back into the economy via more deficit spending. (aka Morning in America) And for the next 40 years, prices turned out to be remarkably stable, although at the price of dismantling the American middle class.

    People could afford to work at Walmart because they could afford to buy the foreign-made products for sale in Walmart. Food prices were kept down as agri-business found new ways to produce food cheaply. (keeping all those chickens and pigs locked up indoors does produce cheaper chicken and ham)True, gasoline prices moved upward over the years but thanks to imports and the new food supply system, this did not lead to huge numbers of Americans going hungry or unclothed. The advent of the computer also cut all kinds of prices, as more white and blue collar jobs were eliminated and efficiency increased.

    Inflation now runs about 1.5 to 2% which is below the level of stirring any mass unrest. Meanwhile government programs, like food stamps and school lunches, provide some cushion to people who have to work at the Walmart level. And the mass growth of cheap electronic entertainment, not to mention the variety of legal and illegal drugs available, keep the ever-poorer American working class pretty docile. And for those who act up, we have the worlds highest incarceration rate, followed closely by that other workers paradise, Cuba.

    It is probable, I think, that this kind of slow but steady decline can be managed for the foreseeable future. The ultra-wealthy .001% need not fear mobs with pitchforks arriving at their mansions any time soon, unless of course sudden climate shifts or a new 2008 style financial panic throws everything into chaos.

  • Among Orson Scott Cards other credits is that he authored a new script for the annual Hill Cumorah pageant which celebrates the visions of Mormon prophet Joseph Smith. As a Mormon, science fiction and fantasy comes naturally to Orson.

    Early Mormons, by the way, were not such homophobes as their latter day descendants and did have a ceremony celebrating male couples.

  • valatius commented on the diary post Obama’s Campaign to Glorify the War on Vietnam by David Swanson.

    2013-08-14 15:18:36View | Delete

    Any assessment of the Viet Nam War should include the recent book Kill Anything That Moves by Nick Turse. His theme is that that the American military visited upon South Vietnam an endless slaughter,day after day, month after month that was neither accidental nor unforeseeable. He makes a sharp distinction between combat vets like Chuck Hagel [...]

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