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Sleep deprivation, scaring with dogs, force feeding: Torture allegations as Gitmo turns 15

Exactly 15 years ago, the first inmates were transferred to the infamous Guantanamo prison, with the...

US words on Gitmo torture ‘laughable’ without release of force feeding tapes

The US has announced that it will this week tell the United Nations that it now considers a ban against torture to apply to...

US judge allows for continued force feeding of Guantanamo Bay prisoner

Nick Barrickman US District Court Judge Gladys Kessler on Thursday ruled to allow the continued force-feeding of 42-year-old Abu Wa’el Dhiab at the Guantanamo Bay...

What’s the Difference Between Force Feeding and Waterboarding?

Zak Newman  RINF Alternative News The Department of Defense this month publicly released its newest rationalization for the abusive force-feeding program at Guantánamo Bay. In this latest...

‘Constant agony:’ Anti-torture activist undergoes public force feeding to protest Gitmo (VIDEO)

Published time: October 19, 2013 13:31 An anti-torture activist underwent a nasal-tube feeding outside an appeals court in Washington DC to protest the...

California Prison Hunger Strikers Continue to Resist Despite the Threat of Force Feeding

”We of course recognise that this is it — make or break time for us to make the long overdue change occur now —...

‘Medical ethics-free zone’: US doctors call to stop force feeding in Gitmo

Doctors at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp should refuse participation in the force-feeding of hunger strikers since such an activity is a political statement,...
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Video: Guantánamo Prisoners on Hunger Strike Say Guards Threatened to Kill Them by Stopping...

https://democracynow.org - Guantánamo Bay detainees who are on hunger strike have accused officials of a sudden change in practice that could result in them...

US court nixes publication of Guantanamo force-feeding video

Published time: 31 Mar, 2017 20:58 Releasing the videos of Guantanamo Bay guards force-feeding an inmate during...

Banker faces jail for groping woman & force-feeding her wasabi

A city banker dubbed London’s ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ faces prison after being found guilty...

After 14 Years of Guantánamo, US Govt Faces Deadline Over Release of Force-Feeding Tapes

The Obama Administration has less than two weeks to decide whether to appeal a federal judge’s order that it must release videotapes showing the...

US judge orders release of Guantanamo force-feeding tapes

The US government must release eight of 32 videos depicting the "disturbing" force-feeding of a detainee held for 12 years at the Guantanamo Bay...

US Government Ordered to Prepare Guantánamo Force-Feeding Videos for release

WASHINGTON - An appeal court has today ordered the Obama Administration to redact 12 hours of secret Guantánamo force-feeding footage in preparation for its...

First-ever trial to assess Guantanamo force-feeding begins today

An unprecedented trial to assess the legality of force-feeding methods used at Guantanamo Bay will begin today, Monday Oct 6, at 10am (EST) in...

Judge rejects Government attempt to hold Guantánamo force-feeding trial in secret

A federal judge has refused to hold the first-ever trial of prisoner abuse at Guantánamo Bay behind closed doors, issuing a sharply-worded order rejecting...

Guantánamo force-feeding trial must not be secret, say press and lawyers

Sixteen major US news organizations and a hunger-striking detainee have asked a federal judge not to hold the first-ever trial of force-feeding practices at...

Guantánamo Force-Feeding: Court Hearing

Lawyers for a hunger-striking prisoner at Guantánamo Bay will today appear before a judge, having viewed video evidence of force-feedings for the first time...

Israel pushing law to allow force-feeding of Palestinian hunger strikers

The Israeli prime minister is pushing for the approval of a bill that will allow doctors to force-feed up to 120 Palestinian prisoners. Inmates...

Israeli Government And Doctors Do Battle Over Force-Feeding Bill

PROPOSED legislation to permit force-feeding Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike pitted Israel’s government against the country’s main doctors’ association today. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is...

‘Is it necessary to torture me?’ Gitmo prisoner demands ‘civilized’ force-feeding

A Syrian national imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay detention facility petitioned to stop his excruciating force-feeding, and demanded “civilized” forced ingestion after a “really evil”...

Force-Feeding Videos Sought by Second Guantánamo Hunger-Striker Thought to Show ‘Gratuitous Brutality’

Lawyers for Mohammad Ahmad Ghulam Rabbani, a Pakistani father of three held for over a decade without charge in Guantánamo Bay, have today sought...

Force-Feeding ruling allows US to continue a criminal practice

César Chelala The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Gladys Kessler determining that the U.S. military can force-feed a Syrian detainee at the U.S. prison...

Guantanamo: US Government forced to reveal that it recorded forcefeeding

Gabriel Black  WSWS Reprinted with permission Through court order, it has been revealed that the US military has been keeping videotapes of the force-feeding of inmates at...

Federal Court to Hold US Government to Account Over Force-Feeding of Guantánamo Detainees

A US court will today weigh evidence from Guantánamo Bay prisoners and the US military on the prison's controversial force-feeding practices. It is the first...

Judge Bans Force-Feeding Of Guantanamo Bay Hunger Strikers

A WASHINGTON judge has ordered the US military to stop force-feeding hunger striking prisoner Abu Wa'el Dhiab at its Guantanamo Bay concentration camp. The order...

Guantanamo Hunger Strikers Accuse US of Manipulating Force-feeding Data

Spencer Ackerman Recent letters written by Guantánamo Bay detainees on hunger strike accuse the US military of manipulating data about the strike and using force-feeding...

Guantánamo Prisoner Ahmed Rabbani Joins Legal Challenge to Force-Feeding Abuse

A father of three from Pakistan will today join historic litigation demanding that a US court of law intervene to halt prisoner abuse at...

Guantánamo Prisoner Launches Historic Legal Challenge to Force-Feeding Abuse

A gravely ill Yemeni man will today become the first Guantánamo Bay prisoner to have his claims of abuse at the military base considered...

Gitmo Prisoners Can Sue US Over ‘Gratuitously Torturous’ Force-Feeding

Jacob Chamberlain  RINF Alternative News In mixed decision, US appeals court rules force-feeding can continue, but not without legal challenge from detainees Men indefinitely detained within the...

US court may allow Guantanamo detainees to challenge forced feedings

Reuters/Shane T. McCoy/Department of Defense/Files A US appeals court showed openness Friday to allowing Guantanamo Bay hunger strikers to challenge force-feeding procedures. Defense attorneys call...

US Activist to Undergo “Forced-Feeding” Outside Federal Court in Solidarity with Guantánamo Prisoners

WASHINGTON - October 17 - WHEN: Friday, October 18, 11 am
WHERE: US District Court - 333 Constitution Ave NW, Wash., D.C
WHAT: Nasal Tube Feeding of Solidarity Hunger Striker

Anti-torture activists will hold a nasal-tube feeding of a long term-faster to dramatize the abusive force-feeding of hunger strikers at Guantánamo and to protest indefinite detention at the prison. The feeding will take place at 11 am, following consideration at 9:30 am by a federal appeals court of a lawsuit arguing that force-feeding at Guantánamo is a violation of human rights and religious liberties.

Andrés Thomas Conteris — on day 103 of a water-only fast — will undergo the nasal tube feeding. “Forced-feeding is torture,” says Conteris, who has lost 57 pounds. “I wish to make visible what the U.S. government is perpetrating against prisoners in Guantánamo and to remind the world that indefinite detention continues.”

Conteris, age 52, has held nasogastric feedings at the White House, in Oakland, California, and at US embassies in Uruguay and Argentina. “The nasal tube feeding feels like endless agony,” says Conteris. “It feels like I’m drowning.”

Beginning last February, more than 100 men at Guantánamo engaged in a hunger strike to protest their indefinite detention. To try to break the protest, the US military subjected dozens of the hunger strikers to nasogastric force-feeding. “The case before the appeals court goes to the heart of the evil of Guantánamo,” says Witness Against Torture organizer Jeremy Varon, “as it argues that the purpose of force-feeding is to sustain an illegal and immoral policy of indefinite detention.”

Sixteen men remain on hunger strike at Guantánamo, all force-fed. Senators Dianne Feinstein and John McCain, the American Medical Association, and the United Nations have all denounced force-feeding.

Prompted by the hunger strike at Guantánamo, President Obama on May 23, 2013 renewed his pledge to close the prison. Since that time, only two prisoners have been freed.

Witness Against Torture – witnesstorture.org
Closegitmo.net

US seeks to continue Gitmo force-feeding

The US government is seeking the dismissal of a legal appeal by hunger-striking prisoners at the notorious Guantanamo detention facility aimed at banning the...

Force-Feeding of Calif. Prisoners on Hunger Strike OK'd by Judge

(Photo: Reuters/ Stephen Lam)Human rights advocates slammed a judge's decision Monday to give California prison officials the green light to force-feed prisoners who are...

'Hopeless and Dangerous' Force-Feeding of Calif. Prisoners OK'd by Judge

(Photo: Reuters/ Stephen Lam)Human rights advocates slammed a judge's decision Monday to give California prison officials the green light to force-feed prisoners who are...

Force-feeding California inmates agreed

Demonstrators held up a sign in front of the State Building in San Francisco to support prisoners at Pelican Bay State Prison. A US...

UK doctors: end Gitmo force-feeding

The British Medical Association has appealed to US President Barack Obama to end the force-feeding of prisoners at the notorious Guantanamo Bay detention center. BMA...

Federal judge backs force-feeding at Guantanamo

  By ...

Will California prison hunger strike lead to Gitmo-style force-feeding?

Amid a massive hunger-strike being waged across the state of California by thousands of prisoners in several facilities, officials may move to begin force-feeding...

California Hunger Strike Raises Issue of Force-Feeding on US Soil

A "feeding chair" in the Guantanamo medical wing where hunger-striking detainees are force fed. (Photo: Sgt. Brian Godette, Army 138th Public Affairs Detachment)More than...

California Prison Hunger Strike Raises Issue of Force-Feeding on U.S. Soil

http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/california_hunger_strike_raises_issue_of_force-feeding_on_us_soil_2013071/ Posted on Jul 14, 2013 ...

Gitmo Force-Feeding Continues Through Ramadan

Gitmo Force-Feeding Continues Through Ramadan by Stephen Lendman Doing so constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. It inflicts excruciating pain and suffering. It's aggravated assault writ large....

What the Obama Administration's Standard Operating Procedure for Force-Feeding Gitmo Prisoners Looks Like

A new video further exposes the brutality of the force-feedings of prisoners on hunger strike at Guantanamo. Yasiin Bey writhes in pain as...

Gitmo Hunger Strikers to Face 'Force-Feeding Factory' During Ramadan

(Photo: AP)The U.S. government refused Guantanamo Bay detainees' demands for an immediate halt to force-feeding of hunger striking prisoners during Ramadan and vowed to...

Guantanamo force-feedings to be synchronized with Ramadan fasting schedule

While a mass hunger strike continues at Guantanamo, a spokesperson for the American prison camp has confirmed that the upcoming monthlong fast for Ramadan...

Gitmo Detainees: Our 'Inhumane' Force-Feeding Must Stop

London Protesters in solidarity with Guantanamo Bay Inmates on Hunger Strike (Photo: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/File)Four detainees at the US offshore Guantanamo prison have filed a...

Force-feeding, brutal: Ex-Gitmo inmate

A former Saudi prisoner at the USâ„¢s notorious Guantanamo prison has exposed the brutality of force-feeding, which is being exercised at the site, arguing...

125 More Guards Head to Guantanamo to 'Help' With Solitary Confinement, Force-Feeding of Prisoners

(Photo: Justin Norman/cc/flickr)The U.S. Army Reserve is sending 125 troops from Puerto Rico to serve as additional guards at Guantánamo, the Associated Press reported...

125 More Guards Head to Guantanamo to 'Help' With Solitary Confinement, Force-Feeding of Prisoners

(Photo: Justin Norman/cc/flickr)The U.S. Army Reserve is sending 125 troops from Puerto Rico to serve as additional guards at Guantánamo, the Associated Press reported...

Guantanamo Force-Feeding Constitutes Torture

Guantanamo detention constitutes torture, abuse and ill-treatment. Long-term detention compounds it. Force-feeding increases unconscionable pain and suffering. Doing so violates core rule of law principles. Around...

Shackles, masks and nasal tubes: Gitmo revises force-feeding techniques (PHOTOS)

Hunger strikers being force-fed at Guantanamo Bay must wear masks over their mouths while being shackled to a restraint chair for up to two...

Feeding One Kid, Starving the Family

Imagine a parent who starves his children and fails to do any number of basic parental duties, but then buys one of his kids...

Houston police force homeless to throw donations, blankets away (PHOTOS, VIDEOS)

Houston police forced a group of homeless people to throw away food and other essentials that...

Feeding the Bank Balance or Feeding the World: GMOs, Development and the Politics of...

Modern state-corporate capitalism is stripping the environment bare through unsustainable levels of consumption. It is legitimised by a deceitful ideology that attempts to justify and...

Feeding the Military-Industrial Complex

Exclusive: Because he had commanded Allied forces in World War II, President Eisenhower understood the excesses of the war industry and warned Americans about...
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Video: Palestinian prisoner likely to die if force-fed by Israelis – physician

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4x2unoDqVG0&w=580&h=385] The Israeli parliament passed a bill allows the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners who resort to hunger strikes to protest their administrative detention without...
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Video: Israel passes law to force feed Palestinian prisoners

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSQ2aqcNWe0&w=580&h=385] The Israeli parliament has passed a bill that allows the force-feeding of Palestinian prisoners who resort to hunger strikes to protest their administrative...

US Military Drops Action Against Guantanamo Nurse Who Refused to Force-Feed

Human rights NGO Reprieve has welcomed the US Department of Defense’s decision, announced today, to drop proceedings against a military nurse who refused to...

Feeding The Vultures, While Starving Agriculture: Capitalism’s Great Indian Con-Trick

The 4th Media, Global Research, Countercurrents, RINF

The story goes like this: India is an economic miracle, a powerhouse of growth. It is a nation that increasingly embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship. And the proof? Until recently, India had year on year 9% GDP growth (or thereabouts).

Such logic, statements and figures are the stuff of headlines that pay homage to the supposed wonders of neoliberalism which the corporate media trots out time and again in the belief that if something is repeated often enough then it must be true.

Visit Delhi or Mumbai and you can witness the trappings of this ‘success’. Newly built towns on the outskirts with gleaming apartment blocks and sterile shopping malls. What more could a person want? All well and good for those who have benefited from neoliberal economic reforms that began in 1991 - because indeed it seems that is all they do want.

But these beneficiaries of neoliberalism comprise a minority. They constitute but a section of the urban population, which in turn constitutes a minority within the country. They are the ones the ideologue-economists and corporate-controlled media in the West focus on when celebrating capitalism and its global ‘success’. But what about the bulk of the population, the two thirds that live in villages and rural India?

According to Sudhansu R Das, the Indian village was once enshrined in a performing eco-system and a healthy social life (see this). In fact, the village was the centre of a rural economy, an economic powerhouse of agricultural innovation, artisanship and entrepreneurialism. However, the British Raj almost dismantled this system by introducing mono crop activities and mill-made products. Post-independent India failed to repair the economic fabric and is now actually accelerating the dismantling. As a result, rural India is too often depicted as a ‘basket case’, a drain on the nation's subsidies and resources.

It is not, however, agriculture that is the subsidy-sucking failure it is so often portrayed as in the mainstream media. The spotlight should instead focus on corporate-industrial India, the supposed saviour of the nation, which has failed to deliver in terms of boosting exports or creating jobs, despite the massive hand outs and tax exemptions given to it (see this and this).  As subsidy-sucking failures go, it has much to answer for.

Of course, corporate-industrial India is engaged in a huge con-trick, which forms part of the neoliberal agenda worldwide: subsidies to the public sector or to the poor are portrayed as a drain on the economy, while the genuinely massive drain of taxpayer-funded corporate dole, tax breaks, bail outs, sops, tax avoidance and evasion are afforded scant attention. If anything, through slick doublespeak, all of this becomes redefined as being necessary to create jobs or fuel 'growth'.

But what does the taxpaying public get in return for subsidising the private sector in this way and for paying for its fraudulent practices? What do ordinary people get for being forced to ‘stand on their own two feet’ while subsidising a system of ‘free’ enterprise that is anything but free? Jobs...  'growth'?

No, they see record profits and levels of inequality and experience austerity, the outsourcing of jobs, low pay, the destruction of rights, deregulation, mass unemployment and the erosion pensions and social security (see this  and this).

The machinery of state is pressed into the service of private capital for the benefit of private capital under the guise of 'growth' or the 'national interest' and that is the price the rest of us pay.

This is exemplified by the following quote:
“We don’t think how our farmers on whose toil we feed manage to sustain themselves; we fail to see how the millions of the poor survive. We look at the state-of-the-art airports, IITs, highways and bridges, the inevitable necessities for the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere and thrive, depriving the ordinary people of even the basic necessities of life and believe it is development.” – Sukumaran CV
What Sukumaran CV describes above is in India underpinned by unconstitutional land takeovers, the trampling of democratic rights, cronyism, cartels and the manipulation of markets, which to all purposes is what economic ‘neo-liberalism’ has entailed in India over the last two decades. Corporations have run roughshod over ordinary people in their quest for profit.

In the process, there have been untold opportunities for well-placed officials and individuals to make a fast buck from various infrastructure projects and sell offs of public assets, such as airports, seeds, ports and other infrastructure built up with public money or toil.

This neoliberal agenda is based on state-corporate extremism, which has across the world resulted in national states submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed pro-privatisation policies, deregulation, free capital flows, rigged markets and unaccountable cartels. It is the type of extremism that is depicted as being anything but by the corporate-controlled media.

Powerful corporations are shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India and the full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land in order to hand it to mineral extracting and processing industries, real estate interests and industry.

Moreover, the deal that allows the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-driven Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture in return for the US sanctioning and backing the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests has shown who is setting the agenda for agriculture, food and energy.

Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic ‘liberalisation’ (see this). And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no waterbad health, poor or falling yields and an impending agrarian crisis.

It’s not difficult to see where policy makers’ priorities lie. In a recent TV interview (watch here), food policy analyst Devinder Sharma highlighted such priorities:
“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades. And they are doing deliberately because the World Bank and big business have given the message that this is the only way to grow economically… Sixty percent of the population lives in the villages or in the rural areas and is involved in agriculture, and less than two percent of the annual budget goes to agriculture… When you are not investing in agriculture, you think it is economically backwards, not performing. You are not wanting it to perform. You are ensuring that the price they get today under the MSP (Minimum Support Price) has also being withdrawn. Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… Twenty-five crore people in this country are agricultural landless workers. If we give these people land, these people are also start-ups, these people are also entrepreneurs... But you are only giving these conditions to industry... agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”
Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for hundreds of years. They have been "scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts" who have increasingly been reduced to becoming "recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry" (see here).

In his interview, Devinder Sharma went on to state that despite the tax breaks and the raft of policies that favour industry over agriculture, industry has failed to deliver; and yet despite the gross under-investment in agriculture, it still manages to deliver bumper harvests year after year. Furthermore, when farmers are prioritised, politicians are accused of populism and playing to a vote bank. Yet when industry receives subsidies, hand outs and tax breaks, it is called 'reform'and portrayed as contributing to 'growth':
“When we talk about budgets, it’s going to be populism or reforms. What is reforms? … if you don’t give anything to industry, they call it ‘policy paralysis’. But if you give them all kinds of dole then they think it is growth, they think it is a dream budget. In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions. Where are the jobs? They just created 1.5 crore jobs in the last ten years. Where are the exports? ... The only sector that has performed very well in this country is agriculture. Year after year we are having a bumper harvest. Why can’t we strengthen that sector and stop the population shift from the villages… Why do you want to move the population just because Western economists told us we should follow them. Why? Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?”
With GDP growth slowing and automation replacing human labour the world over in order to decrease labour costs and boost profit, where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as transnational corporations move in and seek to capitalise industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

Are they to become what Arundhati Roy calls the "ghosts of capitalism," the invisible, shoved-aside victims of neoliberalism who are deemed surplus to requirements?

India’s development is being hijacked by the country’s wealthy ruling class and the multinational vultures who long ago stopped circling and are now swooping. Meanwhile, the genuine wealth creators, the entrepreneurs who work the fields and have been custodians of the land and seeds for centuries, are being sold out to corporate interests whose only concern is to how best loot the economy.

As they do so, they churn out in unison with their politician puppets the mantra of it all being in the ‘national interest’ and constituting some kind of 'economic miracle'.

Feeding The Vultures While Agriculture Starves: Capitalism’s Great Indian Con-Trick

The story goes like this: India is an economic miracle, a powerhouse of growth. It is a nation that increasingly embodies the spirit of...

The Government’s Drive to Force GMOs into Britain Against the Will of the People...

The UK government and its associated bureaucracy is colluding with powerful global agritech corporations to get genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into Britain (see here)....

Why Did Fort Lauderdale Police Arrest an Old Man for Feeding Homeless People?

Last Sunday, on November 2nd, 90-year old Arnold Abbott and two other pastors were charged by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department with giving food...

Even a Guantanamo Nurse Refuses to Force-Feed Prisoners

Kevin Mathews We’ve been following the Guantanamo Bay prisoner hunger strikes for some time now, but the situation has inexplicably not improved. In fact, things...

Military Nurse Refused to Force-Feed Guantánamo Prisoners

"This is a historic stand by this nurse, who recognized the basic humanity of the detainees and the inhumanity of what he was being...

You can’t force-feed occupation to those who crave freedom

The National – 23 June 2014

For more than a month Israel sought to wriggle off a hook that should have snared it from the start. Two children, 17 and 16, were shot dead during Nakba Day protests near Ramallah, in which youths threw stones ineffectually at well-protected and distant Israeli military position.

Hundreds of Palestinian children have lost their lives over the years at the end of a sharpshooter’s sights, but the deaths of Nadim Nuwara and Mohammed Abu Al Tahir in Beitunia were not easily forgotten.

Israel’s usual denials – the deaths were faked, video footage was doctored, Israeli soldiers were not responsible, the youths provoked the soldiers, no live ammunition was used – have been discredited one by one. Slowly Israel conceded responsibility, if only by falling into a grudging silence.

A CCTV camera mounted on the outer wall of a carpentry shop provided the most damning evidence: it captured the moments when the two unarmed boys were each hit with a live round, in one case as the youth can be seen walking away from the protest area.

But rather than come to terms with the world as it now is, Israel wants to preserve the way it once was. It believes that through force of will it can keep the tide of accountability at bay in the occupied territories.

There has been no admission of guilt, no search for the guilty soldiers and no reassessment of its policies on crowd control or the use of live fire – let alone on the continuation of the occupation. Instead, 20 soldiers arrived last week at the store in Beitunia, threatened to burn it down, arrested the owner, Fakher Zayed, and ordered he remove the camera that caused so much embarrassment.

According to Israel, the fault lies not with a society where teenage soldiers can choose to swat a Palestinian child as casually as a fly. The problem is with a Palestinian storekeeper, who assumed he could join the modern world.

The nostalgia for a “golden era” of occupation was evident, too, last week in a policy change. Israel has rounded up hundreds of Palestinians in the hunt for three Israeli teenagers missing since June 12. Palestinian cities like Hebron have been under lockdown for days, and several Palestinians youths killed, while soldiers scour the West Bank.

But with the search proving fruitless, Israel’s attorney general approved the reintroduction of the notorious “ticking bomb” procedure.

In doing so, he turned the clock back 15 years to a time when Israel routinely used torture against prisoners. Israel may not have been alone then in using torture, but it was exceptional in flaunting its torture dungeons alongside claims to democratic conduct.

Only in 1999 did the country’s supreme court severely limit the practice, allowing interrogators one exemption – a suspect could be tortured only if he was a ticking bomb, hiding information of an attack whose immediate extraction could save lives.

Now Israel’s law chief has agreed that the Palestinian politicians, journalists and activists swept up in the latest mass arrests will be treated as “ticking bombs”. Israel’s torture cells are back in business.

Israelis have been lulled into a false sense of security by the promise of endless and simple technical solutions to the ever-mounting problems caused by the occupation.

This week, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, hoped to find another “fix” for Palestinians who refuse to remain supine in the face of their oppression.

Mr Netanyahu is racing through a law to force-feed more than 100 Palestinian prisoners who are two months’ into a hunger strike. The inmates demand that Israel end the common practice of holding prisoners for months and sometimes years without charge, in what is blandly termed “administrative detention”.

Such prisoners, ignorant of their offence, are unable to mount a defence. And as it becomes ever clearer to Palestinian society that Israel is never going to concede Palestinian statehood, things that were once barely tolerated are now seen as unendurable.

Last week, the heads of the World Medical Association urged Israel to halt the legislation, which in a double bill of compulsion will require doctors to sedate and force-feed prisoners to break their hunger strike.

The WMA called the practice “tantamount to torture”. The legislation violates not only the autonomy of the prisoners but the oaths taken by the doctors to work for their patients’ benefit.

The liberal Haaretz newspaper warned that Israel was rushing headlong towards “a new abyss in terms of human rights violations”. And all this to prevent reality pricking the Israeli conscience: that Palestinians would rather risk death than endure the constant indignities of a life under belligerent occupation.

Israelis have yet to realise the dam is soon to burst. They still believe a technical fix is the way to solve ethical dilemmas continuously thrown up by the longest occupation in modern times.

Israel’s technical solutions work to an extent. They confine Palestinians to ever smaller spaces: the prison of Gaza, the city under lockdown, the torture cell, or the doctor’s surgery where a feeding tube can be inserted.

But the craving for self-determination and dignity are more than technical problems. You cannot force-feed a people to still their hunger for freedom.

Belligerent occupations – especially ones where no hope or end is in sight – engender evermore creative and costly forms of resistance, as the hunger strike demonstrates. A physical act of resistance can be temporarily foiled. But the spirit behind it cannot be so easily subdued.

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Anti-Russian Feeding Frenzy

Norman Pollack  RINF Alternative News By remaining circumspect, low-keyed, initiating dialogue, Putin neither conforms to America’s image and ground-rules of power politics nor provides the pretext,...

Video: Government Criminalizes Church Groups Feeding Homeless

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q2czIwfF3Rk] In what amounts to one of the most blatant displays of how truly corrupt the entire hierarchy of the establishment has become, church...

Charity claims its been targeted for feeding the homeless

A church group in Olympia, Washington is blasting proposed City Council changes it claims are intended to stop an outreach mission that feeds hundreds...

For Guantanamo Inmates Who ‘Forced World to Listen,’ Struggle Not Over

While both military officials at Guantanamo Bay and lawyers for prisoners say that the numbers of actively participating hunger strikers at the offshore prison...

Gitmo activist force fed at White House

An American hunger striker has been force fed through a nasal tube in front of the White House in protest against the torturous practice...

Federal judge grants California permission to force-feed inmates on hunger strike

A US federal judge ruled that state and federal prison officials in California will be allowed to start force-feeding inmates participating in a nearly...

Is NSA Secretly Feeding Spy Intel to Police for Petty Crimes?

‘Though the cases rarely involve national security issues, documents reviewed by Reuters show that law enforcement agents have been directed to conceal how investigations truly begin – not only from defense lawyers but also sometimes from prosecutors and judges.’

Rapper Mos Def force fed under standard Guantanamo Bay procedure

Infowars.comJuly 8, 2013 Rapper, actor and activist Yasiin Bey, better known as Mos Def, stars in...

One-quarter of Gitmo prisoners now being force-fed

Guantanamo Bay’s medical team is now force-feeding 41 of the 166 prisoners at the US detention facility. With four detainees in hospital, the strike...

US deploys extra forces in Guantanamo

Soldiers enter an area of the US Guantanamo Bay prison complex. (File photo)The United States is dispatching additional soldiers to the Guantanamo Bay prison...

We’re Being Watched: How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists

(Photo illustrations Nadia Khastagir / Design Action)In February 2010 Tom Jiunta and a small group of residents in northeastern Pennsylvania formed the Gas Drilling...

Force-fed Gitmo inmates climb to 29

Force-feeding chair and internal nourishment preparation inside a Ëœmedical unitâ„¢ at Guantanamo military prison where hunger striking inmates are shackled and force-fed through the...

Gitmo Prisoners Brutally Force Fed During Hunger Strike

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Field Work’s Dirty Decret: Agribusiness Exploitation of Undocumented Labor

This week, a bipartisan group of senators and the president unveiled their respective plans for much needed and long overdue immigration reform. For the 11 million or so undocumented immigrants who have settled in this country, the path to citizenship being paved for them looks like it will be more tough than fair.An Economic Policy Institute report found that increasing farm workers' wages by 40% would increase US households' food bills by just $16 a year. (Photograph: David Levene)

While we don't yet know how this will all play out, at least there will be a path. For one group of immigrants, however – the farm workers who sustain our food supply – there is reason to fear that what awaits them is not a path to citizenship, but their cemented status as indentured servants.

Most farm work in America is performed by immigrants, most of whom are undocumented and therefore exploitable. The big agribusinesses that hire these immigrants will tell you that they need an unfettered supply of cheap foreign labor, because they cannot find Americans willing to do these jobs.

When you consider what these jobs entail – hours of backbreaking work in terrible and often dangerous conditions, subsistence wages with little or no time off, and none of the protections or perks that most of us enjoy (like paid sick days, for instance) – it's hard to see why anyone with other options would subject themselves to a life that is barely a step above slavery.

In the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan signed a bill into law which introduced some protections for these imported serfs, under what has become known as the guest-worker program. These protections include a minimum wage guarantee, housing that meets an acceptable standard for the duration of the contract, and a guarantee that the worker be paid three-quarters of their full pay should should a season end early.

Most employers would be delighted to get away with all this: being able to hire low-wage workers at will, without the hassle of paying disability insurance or other niceties. But agribusinesses find the guest-worker program's pitiful protections such a burden that they have mounted a relentless campaign to undermine them, and for the most part, work around them anyway; they hire undocumented workers instead.

According to a report compiled by Eric Ruark (pdf), the director of research at the Federation for American Immigration Reform (Fair), as of 2006, only 27% of workers hired by agribusinesses are American citizens, 21% are green card holders, around 1% are part of the guest worker program … and a whopping 51% are unauthorized immigrants.

It's agriculture's worst kept secret that farm owners routinely break the law by hiring undocumented workers, but the crime receives tacit approval from lawmakers sympathetic to the plight of major agribusinesses, which seem to consider cheap labor their right. In South Carolina, for instance, lawmakers passed their version of Arizona's draconian bill, and have mandated that employers use an e-verify system to check the immigration status of employees. Farm workers, however, were exempted from verification.

The agribusiness sector has gotten away with exploitative and illegal practices because of ridiculous threats, like the suggestion that should the supply of cheap labor dry up in the US, they will outsource our food production to China. This idle threat is based on the absurd notion that if they have to pay workers higher wages, somehow there will be fewer people willing to do the jobs. The other scare tactic is spreading talk that if they have to increase their expenditure on labor, those costs will have to be passed on to the American consumer.

Several studies have been conducted, however, that expose these hollow threats for the nonsense that they are. A report by the Congressional Research Service (pdf) found no evidence of a labor shortage in the agricultural sector. On the contrary, it found that between 1994 and 2008, the unemployment rate for farm workers was consistently higher than for all other occupations. In other words, agriculture has had a surplus of available workers for decades.

During this period, the agricultural industry has recorded a nearly 80% average annual increase in profits – more than all other major industries. No doubt, these record profits have something to do with the fact that real wages for farm workers have remained stagnant throughout this time. Finally, a 2011 report by the Economic Policy Institute found that an increase in farm workers' wages of 40% would result in an annual rise in household spending by the American consumer of just $16.

Clearly, the economic argument for allowing one industry a workforce of virtually indentured labor does not hold water. But there is a humanitarian argument to be made, as well, that should be enough to put an end to this exploitative practice immediately. In 2009, the New York Times' Bob Herbert wrote an article about the horrible treatment of farm workers in upstate New York – in this case, hired to feed and care for ducks farmed to be slaughtered for foie gras.

"The routine is brutal and not very sanitary. Each feeding takes about four hours and once the birds are assigned a feeder, no one else can be substituted during the 22 day force feeding period that leads up to the slaughter … Not only do the feeders get no days off during that long stretch, and no overtime for any of the long hours, but they get very little time even to sleep each day. The feeding schedule for the ducks must be rigidly observed.

"When I asked one of the owners, Izzy Yanay, about the lack of a day of rest, he said of the workers: 'This notion that they need to rest is completely futile. They don't like to rest. They want to work seven days.'"

Herbert went on to make the point that we are much more likely to hear complaints about cruelty to ducks by force-feeding than we are about the cruelty to the people hired to feed them. Consumers have long since showed a willingness to pay more for organic meat or chicken because they don't like the idea of animal cruelty.

Are we really not willing to pay a few cents more for farm produce so that human beings are not treated like animals?

It remains to be seen what the bipartisan "gang of eight" senators have in mind specifically for farm workers in any future immigration bill. But one can only hope that they will not give in to bullying by the spoiled agricultural industry, which continues to deny these workers the same rights and protections every other worker in America enjoys.

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The Pro-GMO Lobby In Retreat

RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents

It has been such a tough period for the pro-GMO lobby that it’s difficult to know where to begin. But let us start by looking at two pieces of recent research that strike at the very heart of the pro-GMO argument, namely:  

1)      GM crops are needed to feed the world.

2)      The GMO agritech industry is based on sound science and reasoned argument.

GM crops are not needed to feed the world

new report just released by Environmental Working Group has delivered a stinging rebuke to the argument that GM crops are the answer to future global food shortages (also see this, this and this). A thorough analysis of recent research conducted in the US and around the world shows that such crops have not significantly improved the yields of crops such as corn and soy. 

Author of the report Emily Cassidy says:

“Biotech companies and proponents of conventional, industrial agriculture have touted genetically engineered crops as the key to feeding a more populous, wealthier world, but recent studies show that this promise has fallen flat.”

While GM crops have been a mainstay in US agriculture for roughly two decades, they “have not substantially improved global food security” and have instead increased the use of toxic herbicides and led to herbicide-resistant ‘superweeds’. 

The report found that over the last 20 years, yields of both GE corn and soy have been no different from traditionally bred non-GM corn and soy grown in Europe. It argues that corn and soybeans account for roughly 80 percent of the global land area devoted to growing GM crops. Both are overwhelmingly used for animal feed and biofuels, not for food. This is unlikely to change in light of increased consumption of meat around the world and the US biofuels policy requiring production of millions of gallons of corn ethanol to blend into gasoline.

Gary Hirshberg, chairman of Just Label It says:

“Biotech companies and their customers in chemical agriculture have been attempting to sell the benefits of GMOs for two decades. Between exaggerated claims about feeding the world and a dramatic escalation in the use of toxic pesticides, it is no wonder consumers are increasingly skeptical.”

The report concludes that traditionally bred varieties have been the major source of improved crop yields in recent years and this trend is likely to continue. 

Emily Cassidy states:

“Seed companies’ investment in improving the yields of GMOs in already high-yielding areas does little to improve food security; it mainly helps line the pockets of seed and chemical companies and producers of corn ethanol. The world’s resources would be better spent focusing on strategies to actually increase food supplies and access to basic resources for the poor small farmers who need it most.”

Consider that by 2012, 59 percent of the area planted with GM crops were those resistant to glyphosate. Some 26 percent consisted of insecticidal Bt crops and 15 percent were crops carrying both traits. The organisation GRAIN says that is just two traits after 20 years of research and mega-millions of dollars invested. The real measure of what this technology has produced is according to GRAIN to be found in damaged ecosystems, potential health harms, farmer dependency and big profits for the companies.

But profits are and were always the bottom line, not addressing world hunger. If anything, the planting of GM crops is displacing peasants from their lands, depriving local communities of access to food production and increasing food insecurity. Any amount of genetic modification will not address the structural nature of poverty, inequality and hunger, including the geopolitical antecedents.

The GMO agritech industry is not based on sound science and reasoned argument

The second piece of research that strikes at the heart of the industry’s other major claim - that the case for GM agriculture is based on sound science and reasoned argument - is debunked in Steven Druker’s new book. Druker pulls the rug from beneath the GMO agritech industry and its apologists in academia and the media who ceaselessly trumpet their allegiance to discourse based on science. 

Altered Truth, Twisted Genes’ exposes the fraudulent basis upon which the GMO agritech sector is based. GM foods first achieved commercialisation in 1992 but only because the Food and Drug Administration covered up the extensive warnings of its own scientists about their dangers, lied about the facts and then violated federal food safety law by permitting these foods to be marketed without having been proven safe through standard testing.

If the FDA had heeded its own experts’ advice and publicly acknowledged their warnings that GM foods entailed higher risks than their conventional counterparts, Druker says that the GM food venture would have imploded and never gained traction anywhere. He also argues that that many well-placed scientists have repeatedly issued misleading statements about GM foods, and so have leading scientific institutions such as the US National Academy of Sciences, the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the UK’s Royal Society.

While Druker’s book serves to expose the sheer hypocrisy of the industry and its supporters who claim critics to be anti-science and ideologues (a case of projecting their own faults and failings on to critics), Emily Cassidy argues that what GMOs have done is to increase the use of glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide. She concludes that, unfortunately, the only things popping up faster than herbicide-tolerant superweeds are the unsupported claims of GMOs’ benefits.

Even more bad news

And that neatly leads us on to glyphosate itself. 

On 20 March, the World Health Organisation reached a decision that strikes at the heart of the company. The WHO’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) said that glyphosate was "classified as probably carcinogenic to humans." This is just one step below the risk designation of "known carcinogen." 

Glyphosate is the active ingredient in Monsanto’s Roundup herbicide, which was primarily responsible $5.1 billion of Monsanto’s revenues in 2014.  But that’s not all. The herbicide is used to support Monsanto's Roundup Ready crops, which comprise the vast bulk of the balance of its revenue stream.

Little surprise that with so much money at stake Monsanto is calling for a retraction of the IARC’s report. It remains to be seen if the WHO capitulates.

While the agribusiness sector has a long history of silencing science and scientistsit has now been alleged that USDA scientists are ordered to retract studies, water down findings, remove their name from authorship and endure long indefinite delays in approving publication of papers that may be controversial. Scientists who are targeted by industry complaints find themselves subjected to disruptive investigations, disapprovals of formerly routine requests, disciplinary actions over petty matters and intimidation from supervisors focused on pleasing stakeholders.

So much for open discourse based on sound science and reasoned argument.

And the bad news just keeps coming.

Bt brinjal has failed for the second year in Bangladesh resulting in hardship for farmers, and Monsanto has been forced to pay out $600,000 in fines for not reporting hundreds of uncontrolled releases of toxic chemicals at its eastern Idaho phosphate plant. It also paid out a string of lawsuit settlements totaling $350,000 as a result of its GMOs tainting wheat in seven US states. 

But there is some good news in all of this for Monsanto. Monsanto’s ‘discredit department’  now has more than enough on its plate and will certainly not be closing down any time soon. 

The only thing it will be attempting to shut down are studies that affect the company's profits.

The Pro-GMO Lobby In Retreat

It has been such a tough period for the pro-GMO lobby that it’s difficult to know where to begin. But let us start by...

Empire and Colonialism: Rich Men in London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance...

Empire And Colonialism: Rich Men In London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

RINF, 4th Media, Countercurrents, Global Research, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House, Regeneracion (Mexico), The News International (Pakistan newspaper 27/3/2015)

(all links are in italics)

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. In return for receiving aid money and corporate investment, African countries have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to acquire farmland, control seed supplies and export produce.

Last year, Director of the Global Justice Now Nick Dearden said:

“It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems. Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the richest, not the needs of ordinary people. Here the British government is using aid money to make the problem even worse.”

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal are all involved in the New Alliance.

In a January 2015 piece in The Guardian, Dearden continued by saying that development was once regarded as a process of breaking with colonial exploitation and transferring power over resources from the ‘first’ to the ‘third world’, involving a revolutionary struggle over the world's resources. However, the current paradigm is based on the assumption that developing countries need to adopt neo-liberal policies and that public money in the guise of aid should facilitate this. The notion of ‘development’ has become hijacked by rich corporations and the concept of poverty depoliticised and separated from structurally embedded power relations. 

To see this in action, we need look no further to a conference held on Monday 23 March in London, organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This secretive, invitation-only meeting with aid donors and big seed companies discussed a strategy to make it easier for these companies to sell patented seeds in Africa and thus increase corporate control of seeds.

Farmers have for generations been saving and exchanging seeds among themselves. This has allowed them a certain degree of independence and has enabled them to innovate, maintain biodiversity, adapt seeds to climatic conditions and fend off plant disease. Big seed companies with help from the Gates Foundation, the US government and other aid donors are now discussing ways to increase their market penetration of commercial seeds by displacing farmers own seed systems.

Corporate sold hybrid seeds often produce higher yields when first planted, but the second generation seeds produce low yields and unpredictable crop traits, making them unsuitable for saving and storing. As Heidi Chow from Global Justice Now rightly says, instead of saving seeds from their own crops, farmers who use hybrid seeds become completely dependent on the seed, fertiliser and pesticide companies, which can (and has) in turn result in an agrarian crisis centred on debt, environmental damage and health problems.

The London conference aimed to share findings of a report by Monitor Deloitte on developing the commercial seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The report recommends that in countries where farmers are using their own seed saving networks NGOs and aid donors should encourage governments to introduce intellectual property rights for seed breeders and help to persuade farmers to buy commercial, patented seeds rather than relying on their own traditional varieties. The report also suggests that governments should remove regulations so that the seed sector is opened up to the global market.

The guest list comprised corporations, development agencies and aid donors, including Syngenta, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. It speaks volumes that not one farmer organisation was invited. Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for thousands of years. They have been "scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts" who have increasingly been reduced to becoming recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry. So who better than to discuss issues concerning agriculture?

But the whole point of such a conference is that the West regards African agriculture as a ‘business opportunity’, albeit wrapped up in warm-sounding notions of 'feeding Africa' or 'lifting millions out of poverty'. The West’s legacy in Africa (and elsewhere) has been to plunge millions into poverty. Enforcing structural reforms to benefit big agribusiness and its unsustainable toxic GMO/petrochemical inputs represents a continuation of the neo-colonialist plundering of Africa. The US has for many decades been using agriculture as a key part of foreign policy to secure global hegemony.

Phil Bereano, food sovereignty campaigner with AGRA Watch and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington says:

“This is an extension of what the Gates Foundation has been doing for several years – working with the US government and agribusiness giants like Monsanto to corporatize Africa’s genetic riches for the benefit of outsiders. Don’t Bill and Melinda realize that such colonialism is no longer in fashion? It’s time to support African farmers’ self-determination.” 

Bereano also shows how Western corporations only intend to cherry-pick the most profitable aspects of the food production chain, while leaving the public sector in Africa to pick up the tab for the non-profitable aspects that allow profitability further along the chain.

Giant agritech corporations with their patented seeds and associated chemical inputs are ensuring a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and agricultural sustainability. African agriculture is being placed in the hands of big agritech for private profit under the pretext of helping the poor. The Gates Foundation has substantial shares in Monsanto. With Monsanto’s active backing from the US State Department and the Gates Foundation’s links with USAID, African farmers face a formidable force.

Report after report suggests that support for conventional agriculture, agroecology and local economies is required, especially in the Global South. Instead, Western governments are supporting powerful corporations with taxpayers money whose thrust via the WTO, World Bank and IMF has been to encourage strings-attached loans, monocrop cultivation for export using corporate seeds, the restructuring of economies, the opening of economies to the vagaries of land and commodity speculation and a system of globalised trade rigged in favour of the West.

In this vision for Africa, those farmers who are regarded as having any role to play in all of this are viewed only as passive consumers of corporate seeds and agendas. The future of Africa is once again being decided by rich men in London


So You Want To Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology And Falsehoods...

Countercurrents and RINF 23/2/2015, Global Research and The 4th Media 24/2/2015, Il Cambiamento 25/2/2015, London Progressive Journal 21/3/2015

According to Mathew Holehouse in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper (here), former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson will this week accuse the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept genetically modified crops. Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, Paterson will warn that a food revolution that could save Africa from hunger is being held back and that the world is on the cusp of a green revolution, of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared.

After talking about a growing global population and the pivotal role of GMOs in feeding it, Paterson will assert:

"This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.”

Instead of parroting the corporate spin of the pro-GMO lobby, Paterson would do better to consider more viable options that he likes to denigrate as 'backward-looking and regressive' by listening to what Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in April of last year: 

“We don’t have a goal of developing GM products here or to import them.  We can feed ourselves with normal, common, not genetically modified products.  If the Americans like to eat such products, let them eat them.  We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” (see here)

Or maybe Paterson would benefit from heeding a Statement signed by 24 delegates from 18 African countries to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in 1998:

“We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia, and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.”

Perhaps he should also listen to Viva Kermani (here - supported by data) when talking about the situation in India:

“… the statements that they [supporters of GMOs] use such as “thousands die of hunger daily in India” are irresponsible and baseless scare-mongering with a view to projecting GM as the only answer. When our people go hungry, or suffer from malnutrition, it is not for lack of food, it is because their right to safe and nutritious food that is culturally connected has been blocked. That is why it is not a technological fix problem and GM has no place in it.”

Paterson has a history of engaging in the type of emotional blackmail and smearing of critics that comes second nature to the pro-GMO lobby. Anyone (usually portrayed as affluent Westerners – which is not true, given many of the critics are not ‘Western’, affluent or reside in ‘developed’ countries) who opposes GM crops or food is painted as an enemy of the poor because they take food from their bellies (see this). Paterson is using a rhetorical device deliberately designed to mislead and stir up emotion. His tactics are based on spurious claims about the efficacy of GMO technology and are intended to divert attention away from the true nature and causes of hunger and food poverty.

Proponents of GM crops constantly claim that we need such technology to address hunger and to feed a growing global population. We are told by the GMO biotech lobby that GM crops are essential, are better for the environment and will provide the tools that farmers need in a time of climate chaos. They claim that GM crops provide higher yields and higher incomes for farmers around the world. All such claims have been shown to be bogus.

For example, let us take one report from the many that could be cited to show the fallacious nature of these claims. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) last year released a report that concluded hunger is caused by poverty and inequality and that we already produce enough food to feed the world’s population and did so even at the peak of the world food crisis in 2008. The report went on to say that current global food production provides enough to feed ten billion people and the recent food price crises of 2008 and 2011 both took place in years of record global harvests, clearly showing that these crises were not the result of scarcity.

CBAN also noted that the GM crops that are on the market today are not designed to address hunger. Four GM crops account for almost 100 percent of worldwide GM crop acreage, and all four have been developed for large-scale industrial farming systems and are used as cash crops for export, to produce fuel or for processed food and animal feed.

The report also stated that GM crops have not increased yields and do not increase farmers’ incomes. GM crops lead to an increase in pesticide use and cause further harm to the environment. Pesticide reduction was the primary selling point for Bt cotton adoption in India, but overall pesticide use has not decreased in any state that grows Bt cotton, with the exception of Andhra Pradesh. Read the full report that contains over 100 references in in support of these claims.

Hunger, food security and ‘feeding the world’ is a political, social and economic problem and no amount of gene splicing is capable of surmounting obstacles like poor roads, inadequate rural credit systems and insufficient irrigation.

Paterson's talk about backward, regressive, primitive farming practices that would condemn millions to hunger and decimate the ecology is again playing on fear and emotion. What he says has no basis in reality.

Numerous official reports have argued that to feed the hungry in poorer regions we need to support diverse, sustainable agro-ecological methods of farming and strengthen local food economies: for example, see this UN report, this official report, this report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and this report by 400 experts which was twice peer reviewed. 

See also see this report that indicates GMOs are not necessary to feed the world.

So from where and from who is Paterson getting his information from? I think we know the answer.

It is after all small farms and peasant farmers (more often than not serving local communities) that are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and which produce most of the world’s food (see this report from GRAIN). The experience with GM crops shows that the application of GM technology is more likely to actually undermine food security and entrench the social, economic and environmental problems created by industrial agriculture and corporate control (see this other report from GRAIN and this article by Helena Paul documenting ecocide and genocide in South America due to the imposition of GM crops there).

“The problem is that the poor have no money to buy food and increasingly, no access to land on which to grow it… GM is a dangerous distraction from real solutions and claims that GM can help feed the world can be viewed as exploitation of the suffering of the hungry. GM crops do not increase yield. Nor are there any GM crops that are better than non-GM crops at tolerating poor soils or challenging climate conditions. Thus it is difficult to see how GM can contribute to solving world hunger… The two major GM crops, soy and maize, mostly go into animal feed for intensive livestock operations, biofuels to power cars, and processed human food – products for wealthy nations that have nothing to do with meeting the basic food needs of the poor and hungry.”

This above quote is from the Open Earth Source report GMOs Myths and Truths. The report provides specific details about GM crops that have been specifically promoted as helping small-scale and poor farmers in Africa. However, the results were the opposite of what was promised and all these projects failed.

Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of GM technology, so staunch in fact that fellow Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet (see this in the UK’s Independent newspaper that quotes Goldsmith).

Paterson is ignorant of or at least content to side line the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and economic impacts of GMOs, which are outined in the 'GMO Myths and Truths' report. He acts as a mouthpieces for the GMO biotech sector and has made numerous false claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that fly in the face of research findings.

In the recent past, he was keen to reassure the British public that safety concerns over GMOs are based on "humbug" and that GM food is completely safe to eat. See this article, which outlines Paterson’s stance and critiques his claims. 

When Paterson talks about 'enemies' of the 'green revolution' as being fanatical Luddites, he may also like to consider that the ‘green revolution’ was not the resounding success he likes to portray it as. Raj Patel provides some revealing insight into how the ‘green revolution’ took credit for many gains in Indian agricultural that were due to other influences (see this). And, of course, the ‘green revolution’ was based on, among other things, massive external inputs, violence, severe environmental and human health degradation and debt (see this – the entire text of Vandana Shiva’s book ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution’ - and this and this, which both highlight the current agrarian crisis in Punjab, the original ‘poster boy’ of the ‘green revolution’).   

It comes as no surprise that Paterson would state the things he does. As Environment Minister, his support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see here). 

So if you were still wondering from where and whom Paterson is getting his information from, it should by now be clear. 

His attacks on Greenpeace and others who advocate a shift away from petrochemical/GM agriculture towards sustainable farming are part of the wider media campaign to demonize scientists and prominent anti-GMO campaigners. A number of hatchet pieces have in recent months branded Vandana Shiva a liar and a charlatan and the GMO lobby has assembled all the ingredients (not least a massive amount of money) of a classic yet predictable propaganda campaign (see this and this). From the UK, to Ghana (see this) and India (see this), there is a concerted campaign by the GMO lobby and its political handmaidens to demonize critics of GMOs. 

Paterson plays his role well.

Such tactics are used because the pro-GMO lobby has a big problem. It cannot provide a convincing case for GMOs. It therefore resorts to populism, intimidation, character assassination, emotional blackmail, falsehoods, panic mongering and unfounded claims (see this to see how its rhetoric about ‘sound science’ and dispassionate reason informing the debate on GMOs contradicts how it acts in reality). In fact, it goes above and beyond such things by tightening its grip on countries on the back of coups, war and conflict (see this to understand how big agritech concerns benefit from and fuel the situation in Ukraine).

Yes, it is a time of great mischief as Paterson says – but not because of what his critics say or do – but because of what he and his backers do by turning their backs on the type of sound science and progress in the way that he falsely he accuses GMO critics of doing. 

Paterson belongs to the pro-big business Conservative Party which champions the type of privatisation, public expenditure reduction, deregulation, tax avoiding and ‘free’ trade policies that have ceded policy decision making to powerful corporate players. This has in turn led to a concentration of wealth (see this) and imposed ‘austerity’ and drives hunger, poverty, land grabs and the disappearance of family/peasant farms (see this analysis of food commodity speculationthis description of the global food system and this report by the Oakland Institute on land grabs) – the very bedrock of global food production (see this).

What Paterson and the agritech cartel offer is more of the same by tearing up traditional agriculture for the benefit of corporate entities. Paterson talks of critics of GMO as being Luddites, fanatics and condemning billions (yes, he does say billions!) to poverty and underdevelopment with regressive policies. He should look closer to home.

He should realise that elite interests in the West have condemned tens of millions to hunger and poverty in Africa by enslaving them and their nations to debt and that agriculture has for many decades been an important means by which US foreign policy creates dependence and subservience (see here). But such things are not to be debates by Paterson. Like all good (or should that be bad?) politicians, he twists the truth and turns deception and hypocrisy into an art.  

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture and World Trade Organisation rules that agritech companies helped draw up for their benefit to force their products into countries (see  here) are a major cause of structural hunger, poverty, illness and environmental destruction. By its very design, the system is meant to suck the life from people, nations and the planet for profit and control (see  here). Blaming critics of this system for the problems of the system is highly convenient. And forwarding some bogus technical quick-fix will not put things right. It represents more of the same.

So you want to ‘help’ Africa Mr Paterson?

Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organization Growth Partners for Africa. Maingi was born on a farm in eastern Kenya and studied agriculture from a young age. He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas, and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’. Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s and a green revolution meant to boost agricultural efficiency, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize, maize, and more maize. He says:

 "In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.” (see here  and here for the sources that quote Maingi and other commentators mentioned below).

As much of Africa is so dry, it’s not suited for thirsty crops, and heavy use of fertilizer kills worms and microbes important for soil health. Maingi therefore argues that the model of farming in the West is not appropriate for farming in most of Africa and that the West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology.

Growth Partners Africa works with farmers to enrich the soil with manure and other organic material, to use less water and to grow a variety of crops, including some that would be considered weeds on an industrial farm. For Maingi, food sovereignty in Africa means reverting to a way of farming and eating that pre-dates major investment from the West.

Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa says that many countries are subsidizing farmers to buy fertilizer as part of the chemical-industrial model of  agriculture, but that takes money away from public crop-breeding programmes that provide improved seeds to farmers at low cost:

“It’s a system designed to benefit agribusinesses and not small-scale farmers.”

She adds because so many institutions, from African governments to the World Bank, have ‘embraced’ the ‘green revolution’ so much that alternative farming methods are getting short shrift.

Elizabeth Mpofu, of La Via Campesina, grows a variety of crops in Zimbabwe. During a recent drought, neighbours who relied on chemical fertilizer lost most of their crops. She reaped a bounty of sorghum, corn, and millet using what are called agro-ecological methods: natural pest control, organic fertilizer, and locally adapted crops.

There is also concern about the increased reliance on expensive inputs and the dramatic drop in price of crops. This has resulted in poverty for the small farmer.

Daniel Maingi:

“What the World Bank has done, the International Monetary fund, what AGRA and Bill Gates are doing, it’s actually pretty wrong. The farmer himself should not be starving”.

He added that what the Gates Foundation/big agritech backed Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) (see this) is doing is “out of sync with the natural process” by bringing in imported seeds, which are not adapted to the land and require excessive fertilizer and pesticides. 

In effect, giant agritech corporations with their patented GMO seeds and associated chemical inputs are working to ensure a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and environmental sustainability. The evidence provided by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute shows that small farmers are being displaced and are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge of farming systems. 

Globally, agritech corporations are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations (see this). They are increasingly setting the policy/knowledge framework by being allowed to fund and determine the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes (see this). They continue to propagate the myth that they have the answer to global hunger and poverty.

… take capitalism and business out of farming in Africa. The West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology, education and infrastructure and stand in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement.” Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners for Africa.

Paterson and his corporate associates believe that the poor must be ‘helped’ by the West and its powerful corporations and billionaire 'philanthropists'. It harks back to colonialism. The West has already done enough damage in Africa as Michel Chossudovsky has described:

“The “economic therapy” imposed under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction is in large part responsible for triggering famine and social devastation in Ethiopia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, wreaking the peasant economy and impoverishing millions of people. With the complicity of branches of the US government, it has also opened the door for the appropriation of traditional seeds and landraces by US biotech corporations, which behind the scenes have been peddling the adoption of their own genetically modified seeds under the disguise of emergency aid and famine relief. Moreover, under WTO rules, the agri-biotech conglomerates can manipulate market forces to their advantage as well as exact royalties from farmers. The WTO provides legitimacy to the food giants to dismantle State programmes including emergency grain stocks, seed banks, extension services and agricultural credit, etc.), plunder peasant economies and trigger the outbreak of periodic famines.” See the full article (‘Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia’) from which this extract is taken here


When Owen Paterson accuses critics of GMOs of being elitist and regressive, he is merely attempting to shift the focus from his own own elitist, regressive ideology. 

Hasn't the world had enough of the type of Western 'humanitarianism' that Paterson espouses?

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Demonizing Scientists And Opponents Of GMOs: The Cheap Propaganda Of The Pro-GMO Lobby


RINF, Countercurrents 17/2/2015, Global Research, The 4th Media 19/2/2015

The pro-GMO lobby always demands that its opponents produce scientific evidence to back up their claims. Parts of this lobby smear and attack people like Vandana Shiva, Professor G.E. Seralini and others for supposedly being incompetent, ‘liars’ or ideological/politically motivated (for example, read this piece on Shiva that calls her a liar, especially the part on farmer suicides - then see the evidence that Shiva provides to back up her claims here).

In its view, anti-GMO campaigners or certain scientists are ignorant, engage in bogus science or are ‘demagogues’ who use emotion and ideological rhetoric to sway opinion.

Let us address these accusations.

The pro-GMO lobby demands its opponents back up their (wild) claims with peer-reviewed studies.


The pro-GMO lobby says the debate on GMOs is over because there is a scientific consensus on their efficacy among the ‘scientific community’.

Another bogus accusation. See here for evidence pertaining to a lack of consensus.

GMO supporters argue that GMOs can prevent hunger, while trendy 'elitist' activists are merely serving to steal the food from people’s mouths.

See here for the evidence that says GMOs are actually causing food insecurity, see here to discover that GMOs are not required to feed the hungry millions and see here to read that ‘eco farming’ is a much more suitable and sustainable strategy that could double food production within a decade. Also see this report based on the input of over 400 scientists that took four years to complete, which was twice peer reviewed, and states we must look to small-holder, traditional farming (not GMOs) to deliver food security in poorer countries through agri-ecological systems which are sustainable. Moreover, see here to read about the serious health impacts of GMO-driven agriculture and here to discover how GMO agribusiness is devastating communities and driving genocide and ecocide in South America.

The pro-GMO lobby asserts that it relies solely on peer-reviewed science and dispassionate reason.

While some contest the claims of Vandana Shiva pertaining to farmer suicides, which she supports with statistical evidence and correlations, they then call her a 'liar'. A liar is someone who deliberately sets out to deceive. The evidence she supplies may or may not stack up, but that is open to ongoing debate and interpretation. But the same can be said of many of the studies that the pro-GMO lobby puts forward, which have been contested, see here and in this report here (go to section three of the report), on the basis of conclusions overstepping the evidence or inconvenient findings being dismissed as not significant when they are.

Aside from emotive name calling, where else does emotion, ideology or falsehood play a part in the pro-GMO lobby's side of the debate? That's clear to see if we look at this on Owen Patterson, this on Anne Glover and this on Kevin Folta. In fact, these aspects are quite commonplace.

On a more general level regarding ‘dispassionate reason’ informing the debate, see what former Monsanto boss in India said in this piece in India Today 'Monsanto faked data for its approvals, claims ex-chief'. See here to discover what method it used in Indonesia to force its products into that country. See here and here  to find out how the industry restricts access to its own research conducted on its products. See here to discover how it sidesteps science when its interests are threatened and to gain wider insight into how the GMO agritech sector is distorting scientific practice and debasing the ethos of science.

It seems to be a case of peer-reviewed science to support the anti-GMO case but 'anything 
goes', including science that is anything but open to public scrutiny or peer reviewed (see here), from GMO agritech.

And yet the onslaught by the GMO agritech industry and its mouthpieces against those who legitimately and scientifically contest the claims about the efficacy of GMOs is relentless.

Just ask Arpad Pusztai, P. M. Bhargava, Judy Carman, Terje Traavik, Andrés Carrasco, Ignacio Chapela, Allison Snow, Marc Lappé, Britt Bailey, Bela Darvas and G. E. Seralini. These scientists have all either been threatened, smeared or hindered in their work because their research called into question the safety and/or efficacy of GMOs or associated products (see this ‘GMO researchers attacked, evidence denied and apopulation at risk’).

Such tactics appear to come easy to the pro-GMO lobby. For instance, see here for a revealing description of how the GMO sector sets up front groups and fake identities with the sole aim of attacking scientists and activists or promoting its propaganda.

This is what happens to scientists who attempt to engage with the GMO issue on a scientific or rational level. The hypocrisy of those from the pro-GMO lobby who call for sound science to inform the debate on GMOs is glaringly obvious.

When GMO supporters mount personal attacks and accuse prominent anti-GMO campaigners of being liars, it is useful to ask what credibility they themselves have: for example, bearing in mind the attack on Vandana Shiva mentioned at the start, see this by Tom Philpott on the author of that particular smear piece.

When the GMO agritech sector and its supporters set out to attack others in the ways outlined here, it is a blatant tactic of psychological projection: a self-defence mechanism that denies the existence of such characteristics in itself, while attributing them to others. In other words, those who argue against GMOs are accused of not having science or facts on their side and of engaging in propaganda and lying, while it is clear the pro-GMO lobby that hurls such allegations is itself guilty of such things.

This diversionary tactic of projection goes hand in glove with a strident populist agenda whereby the pro-GMO lobby portrays itself as on the side of the people, while its opponents are ‘elitists’ and are ‘stealing food from the bellies of the poor’. This is a typical tactic of corporate propaganda.

Reality is being twisted to make opponents appear guilty of the things the pro-GMO lobby is engaging in, not least 'elitism' (for example, see this and this on how elite interests are seeking to control global agriculture).

Lace the tactics of projection and populism with an unhealthy dose of cheap, fallacious character assassination and you have the basis for a very transparent and predictable propaganda campaign.


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Did the Other Shoe Just Drop? Black Rock and PIMCO Sue Banks for $250...

For years, homeowners have been battling Wall Street in an attempt to recover some portion of their massive losses from the housing Ponzi scheme. But progress has been slow, as they have been outgunned and out-spent by the banking titans.

In June, however, the banks may have met their match, as some equally powerful titans strode onto the stage.  Investors led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, and PIMCO, the world’s largest bond-fund manager, have sued some of the world’s largest banks for breach of fiduciary duty as trustees of their investment funds. The investors are seeking damages for losses surpassing $250 billion. That is the equivalent of one million homeowners with $250,000 in damages suing at one time.

The defendants are the so-called trust banks that oversee payments and enforce terms on more than $2 trillion in residential mortgage securities. They include units of Deutsche Bank AG, U.S. Bank, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, HSBC Holdings PLC, and Bank of New York Mellon Corp. Six nearly identical complaints charge the trust banks with breach of their duty to force lenders and sponsors of the mortgage-backed securities to repurchase defective loans.

Why the investors are only now suing is complicated, but it involves a recent court decision on the statute of limitations. Why the trust banks failed to sue the lenders evidently involves the cozy relationship between lenders and trustees. The trustees also securitized loans in pools where they were not trustees. If they had started filing suit demanding repurchases, they might wind up suedon other deals in retaliation. Better to ignore the repurchase provisions of the pooling and servicing agreements and let the investors take the losses—better, at least, until they sued.

Beyond the legal issues are the implications for the solvency of the banking system itself. Can even the largest banks withstand a $250 billion iceberg? The sum is more than 40 times the $6 billion “London Whale” that shook JPMorganChase to its foundations.

Who Will Pay – the Banks or the Depositors?

The world’s largest banks are considered “too big to fail” for a reason. The fractional reserve banking scheme is a form of shell game, which depends on “liquidity” borrowed at very low interest from other banks or the money market. When Lehman Brothers went bankrupt in 2008, triggering a run on the money market, the whole interconnected shadow banking system nearly went down with it.

Congress then came to the rescue with a taxpayer bailout, and the Federal Reserve followed with its quantitative easing fire hose. But in 2010, the Dodd Frank Act said there would be no more government bailouts. Instead, the banks were to save themselves with “bail ins,” meaning they were to recapitalize themselves by confiscating a portion of the funds of their creditors – including not only their shareholders and bondholders but the largest class of creditor of any bank, their depositors.

Theoretically, deposits under $250,000 are protected by FDIC deposit insurance. But the FDIC fund contains only about $47 billion – a mere 20% of the Black Rock/PIMCO damage claims. Before 2010, the FDIC could borrow from the Treasury if it ran short of money. But since the Dodd Frank Act eliminates government bailouts, the availability of Treasury funds for that purpose is now in doubt.

When depositors open their online accounts and see that their balances have shrunk or disappeared, a run on the banks is likely. And since banks rely on each other for liquidity, the banking system as we know it could collapse. The result could be drastic deleveraging, erasing trillions of dollars in national wealth.

Phoenix Rising

Some pundits say the global economy would then come crashing down. But in a thought-provoking March 2014 article called “American Delusionalism, or Why History Matters,” John Michael Greer disagrees. He notes that historically, governments have responded by modifying their financial systems:

Massive credit collapses that erase very large sums of notional wealth and impact the global economy are hardly a new phenomenon . . . but one thing that has never happened as a result of any of them is the sort of self-feeding, irrevocable plunge into the abyss that current fast-crash theories require.

The reason for this is that credit is merely one way by which a society manages the distribution of goods and services. . . . A credit collapse . . . doesn’t make the energy, raw materials, and labor vanish into some fiscal equivalent of a black hole; they’re all still there, in whatever quantities they were before the credit collapse, and all that’s needed is some new way to allocate them to the production of goods and services.

This, in turn, governments promptly provide. In 1933, for example, faced with the most severe credit collapse in American history, Franklin Roosevelt temporarily nationalized the entire US banking system, seized nearly all the privately held gold in the country, unilaterally changed the national debt from “payable in gold” to “payable in Federal Reserve notes” (which amounted to a technical default), and launched a  series of other emergency measures.  The credit collapse came to a screeching halt, famously, in less than a hundred days. Other nations facing the same crisis took equally drastic measures, with similar results. . . .

Faced with a severe crisis, governments can slap on wage and price controls, freeze currency exchanges, impose rationing, raise trade barriers, default on their debts, nationalize whole industries, issue new currencies, allocate goods and services by fiat, and impose martial law to make sure the new economic rules are followed to the letter, if necessary, at gunpoint. Again, these aren’t theoretical possibilities; every one of them has actually been used by more than one government faced by a major economic crisis in the last century and a half.

That historical review is grounds for optimism, but confiscation of assets and enforcement at gunpoint are still not the most desirable outcomes. Better would be to have an alternative system in place and ready to implement before the boom drops.

The Better Mousetrap

North Dakota has established an effective alternative model that other states might do well to emulate. In 1919, the state legislature pulled its funds out of Wall Street banks and put them into the state’s own publicly-owned bank, establishing financial sovereignty for the state. The Bank of North Dakota has not only protected the state’s financial interests but has been a moneymaker for it ever since.

On a national level, when the Wall Street credit system fails, the government can turn to the innovative model devised by our colonial forebears and start issuing its own currency and credit—a power now usurped by private banks but written into the US Constitution as belonging to Congress.

The chief problem with the paper scrip of the colonial governments was the tendency to print and spend too much. The Pennsylvania colonists corrected that systemic flaw by establishing a publicly-owned bank, which lent money to farmers and tradespeople at interest. To get the funds into circulation to cover the interest, some extra scrip was printed and spent on government services. The money supply thus expanded and contracted naturally, not at the whim of government officials but in response to seasonal demands for credit. The interest returned to public coffers, to be spent on the common weal.

The result was a system of money and credit that was sustainable without taxes, price inflation or government debt – not to mention without credit default swaps, interest rate swaps, central bank manipulation, slicing and dicing of mortgages, rehypothecation in the repo market, and the assorted other fraudulent schemes underpinning our “systemically risky” banking system today.

Relief for Homeowners?

 Will the BlackRock/PIMCO suit help homeowners?  Not directly.  But it will get some big guns on the scene, with the ability to do all sorts of discovery, and the staff to deal with the results.

Fraud is grounds for rescission, restitution and punitive damages.  The homeowners may not have been parties to the pooling and servicing agreements governing the investor trusts, but if the whole business model is proven to be fraudulent, they could still make a case for damages.

In the end, however, it may be the titans themselves who take each other down, clearing the way for a new phoenix to rise from the ashes.

___________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally. Her websites are http://EllenBrown.comhttp://PublicBankSolution.com, and http://PublicBankingInstitute.org.

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Obama in Afghanistan

by Stephen Lendman

He left Washington Saturday. He arrived in Afghanistan Sunday. It was his fourth visit. He stayed less than four hours.

Earlier trips were in March 2010, December 2010 and May 2012.

Obama addressed US troops. He did so at Bagram Air Base. It houses one of America's notorious torture prisons. 

Dozens of others operate globally. Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg.

Bagram is called the Parwan Detention Facility (aka Bagram Theater Internment Facility). 

It's next to Bagram's air field. It was formerly called the Bagram Collection Point.

In mid-2011, it held 1,100 political prisoners. Maximum during Bush years was 600. None have POW status. All are political prisoners. They illegally held.

Abuse continues. It's notorious. It's not reported. It's out of sight and mind. Former detainees describe horrendous treatment. Not far from where Obama spoke. It includes:

  • painful extended period shackling;

  • exposure to extreme heat and cold;

  • abusive treatment while naked, hooded or blindfolded;

  • waterboarding numerous times;

  • isolation in tiny cells;

  • other times in overcrowded ones forcing detainees to sleep in shifts;

  • permanent trauma-creating torture and ill-treatment;

  • severe beatings;

  • continuous blaring noises or music;

  • 24-hour bright light or total darkness;

  • extended sleep deprivation periods;

  • painful stress positions for long periods;

  • being sodomized;

  • denied food, too little, or inedible kinds;

  • painful force-feeding for hunger strikers;

  • prisoners experiencing it call it torture;

  • denied medical care;

  • forced confessions for crimes not committed;

  • hung from steel bars in cells or metal hooks in interrogation rooms for extended periods;

  • kept in tubs of ice water creating hypothermia;

  • threatened with or attacked by dogs;

  • electro-shocking; and

  • other physical and psychological cruel, abusive and degrading treatment.

Investigative Journal Andy Worthington does extensive research on US torture prisons. He co-directed a documentary titled "Outside the Law: Stories from Guantanamo."

One of his many articles is titled "Dark Revelations in the Bagram Prisoner List." He discussed foreign prisoners held.

He explained secret Bagram CIA operations. A subsequent "UN Secret Detention Report Ask(ed) 'Where Are The CIA Ghost Prisoners?' "

Obama could end prisoner abuse by executive order. He could free every prisoner illegally held the same way. 

He could order torture prison closures. He could do it straightaway. He ignored Bagram international law violations during his stay.

He addressed about 3,000 US troops. He lied saying "Americans stand in awe of you."

"For many of you, this will be your last tour in Afghanistan. America's war in Afghanistan will come to a responsible end."

"That progress is because of you, and the more than half a million Americans - military and civilian - who've served here in Afghanistan."

(Y)ou are completing our mission…(Y)ou've helped prevent attacks and save American lives back home."

"Al Qaeda is on its heels in this part of the world, and that's because of you."

"We said that we were going to reverse the Taliban's momentum. And so you went on the offensive, driving the Taliban out of its strongholds."

"(J)ust look at the progress that you've made possible. Afghans reclaiming their communities, and more girls returning to school, dramatic improvements in public health and life expectancy and literacy. That's your legacy."

Fact: "Prevent(ing) attacks and sav(ing) American lives back home" is rubbish.

Fact: Afghanistan didn't attack or threaten America.

Fact: Washington's Afghan war had nothing to do with fighting terrorism.

Fact: Waging it was lawless.

Fact: No Security Council authorization was gotten.

Fact: No congressional one.

Fact: War was never formally declared.

Fact: No state of war exists.

Fact: It's raged since October 2001.

Fact: It shows no signs of ending.

Fact: It could continue for another decade or longer.

Fact: All post-WW II US wars were lawless.

Fact: America hasn't won a war since WW II.

Fact: Afghanistan is a lost cause.

Fact: Pentagon commanders know it.

Fact: Lt. Col. Daniel Davis' unclassified report and more detailed classified one explained ongoing disastrous conditions.

Fact: America can't win, he said.

Fact: Official statements conceal hard truths.

Fact: Davis visited Afghanistan.

Fact: He witnessed "the absence of success on virtually every level," he said.

Fact: Every area he observed firsthand "all over Afghanistan (showed) the tactical situation was bad to abysmal."

Fact: Taliban forces prevailed for over a decade.

Fact: They do now.

Fact: They're a force to be reckoned with.

Fact: They show no signs of quitting.

Fact: They want US forces and coalition partners out of Afghanistan.

Fact: They want their country back.

Fact: Washington's legacy is criminal.

Fact: 12 and a half years of war left millions dead.

Fact: Violence, displacement, deprivation, starvation and diseases killed them. 

Fact: Millions of Afghans suffer horrifically.

Fact: More than half of Afghan children suffer severe malnutrition.

Fact: An entire generation is affected.

Fact: Hunger is a national disease.

Fact: Unemployment affects millions.

Fact: Millions live in squalor.

Fact: In deplorable conditions.

Fact: With inadequate shelter, water, health care, and education.

Fact: Millions remain internally or externally displaced.

Fact: Thousands of women and girls continue to be beaten, raped and/or murdered. 

Fact: Humanitarian aid is woefully inadequate.

Fact: One in five children die before age five.

Fact: War claims some.

Fact: Most perish from preventable diseases, malnutrition or both.

Fact: Millions of Afghans are on their own.

Fact: It's hard imagining a more long-suffering people anywhere.

Fact: America abandoned them.

Fact: Obama lied claiming otherwise.

Fact: If hell on earth exists, it's in Afghanistan.

Fact: Coverup and denial don't wash.

Obama called horrific Afghanistan conditions "progress."

"Tomorrow (Monday) is Memorial Day," he said. "(W)e'll pay tribute to all those who’ve laid down their lives for our freedom." 

"And that includes nearly 2,200 American patriots who made the ultimate sacrifice…We will honor every single one of them - not just (Monday), but forever."

Memorial Day is commemorated on the last Monday in May. It honors America's war dead. They fought and died in vain.

To benefit America's privileged. To advance its imperium. To make it safe for bankers, war profiteers and other corporate favorites.

Crimes of war, against humanity and genocides are small prices to pay. So is ravaging and destroying one country after another.

Conquering, colonizing, and plundering them. Exploiting their people. 

Claiming humanitarian intervention. Responsibility to protect. Democracy building rubbish.

One Big Lie follows others. Memorial Day warrants special condemnation. It reflects Washington's permanent war policy.

It discards peace as a viable option. It's an American tradition. Notably since WW II. Lincoln's words long ago went unheeded, saying:

"(W)e here resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain, that this nation under God shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by the people, for the people shall not perish from the earth."

Imagine inventing enemies. Imagine sending one generation after another of US youths to war for false reasons. 

Imagine destroying them physically and emotionally. Imagine pledging peace while waging war. 

Imagine duplicitous leaders like Obama saying one thing and doing another. He's back home in Washington.

On Wednesday, he'll address West Point cadets. He'll lay out what deputy national security advisor Ben Rhodes calls his broad vision "interventionist and internationalist" agenda.

Expect typical Obama demagogic boilerplate. Duplicitous doublespeak. Beginning-to-end rubbish.

A follow-up article will discuss it. US policy won't change. Imperial lawlessness reflects it. 

Expect more of the same. Expect propaganda, political, financial and hot wars to continue. It's the American way.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."


Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

Indefinite inaction: Obama’s pledge to close Guantánamo Bay

Amid a hunger strike by detainees at Guantánamo Bay that started last year, President Obama was forced to respond to critical media reports and international criticism by renewing his 2008 campaign pledge to close the notorious detention facility.

Human rights activists and dozens of organizations have pledged to launch a global day of protest in dozens of cities around the world to highlight the inaction of the Obama administration since the president delivered his last major speech on the issue on May 23, 2013. Despite the president’s apparent moral reservations over the on-going torture, force-feeding, and indefinite detention of prisoners in the facility, only 12 men have been released from custody in the last twelve months.

The facility in Guantánamo opened its doors in 2002 under the Bush administration, and was built on a 45-square-mile slice of Cuba that was leased to the United States over a century ago. The facility had an estimated 779 detainees at its peak, and most have been released without charges, while 154 remain in custody, nearly all of whom have never been charged with a crime or given due process.

In 2010, the administration assembled a task force charged with reviewing the cases of Guantánamo detainees. Although the Periodic Review Board assembled by the US government has cleared 77 inmates for release, they all remain in custody. 56 of the men are from Yemen, and the administration is unwilling to release them on the basis of their nationality over fears that the security situation in Yemen remains too unstable.

Some 40 detainees have bravely continued their hunger strike to protest their illegal detention, despite the punishment and excoriating pain of force-feeding, which is condemned by international medical associations and advocacy groups. Independent assessments from NGOs and legal experts tend to be unanimous in their belief the evidence used to implicate Guantánamo detainees is extraordinarily thin, and that the vast majority of those in custody are not extremists.

Read the full story on RT.com

Nile Bowie is a Malaysia-based political analyst and a columnist with Russia Today. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov Opt Out of Sham May 25 Elections

Donetsk, Lugansk, Kharkov Opt Out of Sham May 25 Elections

by Stephen Lendman

They mock legitimate ones. Choices exclude democracy. Fascist ones alone will compete. 

Results are largely pre-determined. No matter who wins, ordinary Ukrainians lose.

Eastern regions won't participate. Days earlier, Donetsk and Lugansk leaders opted out. On May 18, Kharkov's Yuri Apukhtin said:

His "region will hold a referendum on independence following Donetsk and Lugansk." 

"Our task is not to participate in Ukrainian presidential elections in any case." 

"We should meet on this square on May 25. We do not recognise these elections."

On May 17, second round sham national unity talks were held in Kharkov. Freedom-fighter activists were excluded from participating. 

Pro-coup supporters alone were invited. Apukhtin justifiably criticized what everyone should denounce.

On Sunday, Sergey Lavrov spoke to his German counterpart, Frank-Walter Steinmeier. Russia's Foreign Ministry said:

They "expressed concern about the continuing clashes and agreed that the situation must be de-escalated urgently." 

"The violence should be stopped in order to avoid further fatalities and favorable conditions should be created for a truly comprehensive national dialogue on constitutional reform."
\
They discussed "the importance of roundtable discussions, taking into account that the interests of the country's southeastern regions must be duly represented."

Steinmeier said Western countries should avoid confrontation with Russia over Ukraine.

At the same time, he faced Bundestag criticism. Various members oppose Berlin's anti-Russian policies. Ones harming German interests.

Both countries are major trading partners. They want nothing interfering with business. They want Ukrainian crisis conditions resolved diplomatically.

Steinmeier promised support. He can't guarantee success, he said.

He's concerned about sanctions. He calls them "dead end" policy. He fears "we will all have to bear the costs."

Days earlier, Chancellor Angela Merkel attended a campaign event. She was roundly booed. Protesters oppose her agenda.

Signs read "Europe is strong only with Russia." "Stop the Nazis in Ukraine."

German industrial giants reacted sharply to sanctions. They want longstanding valued business relations protected. 

A leaked German-Russian Chamber of Foreign Trade letter said:

"Deeper economic sanctions would lead to a situation where contracts would increasingly be given to domestic firms, projects would be suspended or delayed by the Russian side, and Russian industry and politicians would turn to Asia, in particular China."

German and other European firms fear losing market share. They're concerned about "longterm and sustained irreparable damage."

They want East/West squabbles handled politically, not economically or financially. They want nothing harming their bottom line interests.

Over 6,000 German companies do business in Russia. Around 300,000 German jobs are at stake.

Germany's Economic Minister/Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel largely blamed Russia for Ukrainian crisis conditions. He admitted flawed EU policy.

"It was certainly not smart to create the impression in Ukraine that it had to decide between Russia and the EU," he said.

John Laughland heads the Paris-based Institute of Democracy and Cooperation.

"The West is engaged in all-out ideological and geopolitical struggle with Russia, which it intends to win," he said. 

"There are all sorts of things Europe can do. It can ratchet up what it's already done." 

"It can publish longer lists of people who are subject to personal sanctions." 

"It will definitely abandon the visa liberalization program, which Russia has been requesting for nearly a decade now." 

"And it can even reduce economic exchanges. Russia should not be under any illusions." 

"The European elites are prepared to cut off their nose to spite their face." 

"In other words, they are prepared to undergo or make other people undergo severe economic pain in order to justify and entrench their ideological hostility to Russia."

In some ways perhaps. Not others. Nothing harming valued economic ties. Business wants bottom line interests protected.

Politicians depend on its support. They won't bite valued hand feeding them. Other than token anti-Russian policies largely too minor to matter.

Washington may be tougher. Despite domestic business opposition. US/Russian trade is small compared to Europe's.

Whether losses can be made up elsewhere remains to be seen.

Moscow and Beijing are close to consummating a "Holy Grail" trade deal. It'll bond both countries more closely together. It'll do so politically and economically.

They'll trade increasingly in their own currencies. They'll bypass dollar transactions. They'll weaken it doing so.

Russia will supply China with around 38 billion cubic million meters of natural gas annually. It'll do do for the next 30 years.

Gazprom CEO Alexey Miller said supplies could rise up to 60 billion cubic meters annually. It depends on Beijing's needs going forward.

Northwest and Northeast pipelines will ship Russian gas. They'll feed China's huge appetite.

Last year, it imported 53 billion cubic meters of natural gas. Putin's visit is his first since Xi Jinping became president in March 2013.

Both countries are close to a whopper of a trade deal. It's "98% ready," said Russian Deputy Energy Minister Anatoly Yanovksy.

On May 20, Putin arrives in China. Top Russian political and business officials are coming with him.

They include Gazprom's Miller. Annual Sino/Russian trade runs around $100 billion. It'll increase going forward.

Both countries are major trading partners. Worsening US relations solidifies stronger ties.

Putin and China's Xi Jinping reached consensus months earlier.

China's Deputy Foreign Minister Cheng Guoping said companies from both nations discussed pricing.

"We will strive to get (them) to (finalize deal terms and have things) witnessed by both state leaders while Putin is in China," he said.

At the same time, coup-appointed Foreign Minister Andriy Deshchytsia urged tougher sanctions. 

He wants what he called "preventative ones." He wants what EU countries won't impose. Valued economic ties won't be jeopardized.

Alexey Pushkov is Russia's lower house State Duma International Relations Committee Chairman.

"There will be an election in Ukraine," he said. 

"The question is, however, whether Donetsk and Lugansk will participate in it." 

"Evidently not but that's got nothing to with Russia. It’s the free choice of the population of those regions." 

"I hope that after the election, more pragmatic politicians will come to power in Kiev, who will realize that the problems facing Ukraine cannot be solved without Russia."

Post- election, they'll have to deal with Russia, he added. Confrontation is self-defeating.

"The price of gas, the export of Ukrainian goods, the tariffs, the contracts needed to keep lots of Ukrainian industries running."

"They will have to discuss all those issues with us. Without Russia, and this is acknowledged both in Germany and France, there is no solving the Ukrainian crisis."

On Sunday, RT International said Kiev forces targeted Russian journalists Oleg Sidyankin and Marat Saichenko.

They're LifeNews employees. They were attacked last week. They escaped unharmed. At the time, they were with RT's Ruptly video crew. 

On May 18, Ukrainian forces confronted them. They arrested them. They harassed them. They handcuffed them. They detained them.

They're missing. Their whereabouts is unknown. Communication was cut off. Before abduction, Sidyankin text-messaged "things look bad."

EuroMaidan posted their photos on Twitter. A caption read: "Lifenews employees captured near Kramatorsk."

Sidyankin was wounded earlier. Saichenko is a prominent photojournalist/cameraman. Earlier he worked during Libyan and Syrian conflicts.

He photographed oligarch Mkhail Khordorkovsky in prison. He was the first person to do it. He gained prominence at the time.

He and Sidyankin are endangered. Fascists give free people everywhere cause for concern.

LifeNews asked Lavrov for help. General Director Ashot Gabrelyanov issued a statement, saying:

"We bring to your attention the fact that a LifeNews TV crew of reporter Oleg Sidyakin and cameraman Marat Saichenko went missing on May 18, while on an editorial mission to cover developments in the southeast of Ukraine."

"Journalists of LifeNews TV channel were in Ukraine legally, and were working in accordance with international rules without violating law." 

"We ask you to help free journalists of a Russian television channel."

They'll likely need plenty. Fascists give no quarter. Police states operate this way. 

Kiev putschists resemble Nazi era thugs. No one in Ukraine is safe with them in charge. 

Eliminating them is top priority. Restoring democracy matters most. Courageous Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters aim to do so. 

They deserve universal support! Their struggle is ours! It's everyone's wanting to live free!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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America’s Hidden Hunger Crisis

America's Hidden Hunger Crisis

by Stephen Lendman

Imagine tens of millions hungry in the world's richest country. Imagine bipartisan complicity ignoring a growing crisis. 

Imagine uncaring policymakers. Imagine them cutting vital programs able to help when sizable increases are needed. 

Imagine serving monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Imagine enriching themselves in the process.

Outnumber Hunger (OH) is a nationwide campaign. It enlists people in the growing fight against hunger. It works cooperatively with Feeding America (FA). More on FA below.

Hunger is a major problem. For nearly 50 million Americans, it's a daily reality. Around 13 million families are affected. Most are hardworking ones. 

They don't earn enough to live on. Census data show poverty conditions or borderline ones affect around half of US households. 

Kids don't get enough to eat. Around 16 million are affected. Feeding America is the nation's "leading domestic hunger-relief charity."

Its mission is "feed(ing) America's hungry." Its nationwide food bank network does so. It can't keep up with demand. Increasingly it outstrips supply.

According to FA's media relations director Ross Fraser:

"Food insecurity is higher than at any time since the Great Depression." One in six Americans face hunger. So do one in five children.

Missing meals is common practice. Nutritious balanced diets for growing millions don't exist. Belly-fillers substitute. 

Protracted Main Street Depression conditions persist. Things go from bad to worse. Food stamps provide a woefully inadequate $1.40 per person per meal.

Food banks supplement recipients when monthly benefits run out. Most often it's around 10 days or more before month's end.

America is the land of I don't care. Equity and justice aren't in its vocabulary. Official numbers understate reality. Growing millions suffer out of sight and mind.

America's wealth doesn't help. Congress is dismissive. Food stamps were cut when most needed. More cuts are planned.

Last December, 1.3 million Americans lost unemployment benefits. Another 73,000 more joined them weekly.

On April 7, Senate members extended emergency benefits for five months. It did so retroactively from December 28.

House Republicans blocked legislation. Millions of America's jobless face harder than ever hard times. House Democrats circulated a discharge petition.

If enough Republicans join them, an immediate vote is required. So far, a majority is lacking. House Republican leaders block extended unemployment compensation (EUC).

US resources go for war-making. Corporate handouts matter more. Vital needs increasingly go begging. Thirdworldizing America is official policy. Privileged interests alone benefit.

America's wealth disparity is deplorable. The top 1% owns over half the nation's wealth. The bottom 90% has a decreasing share. Social inequality is institutionalized. It's unprecedented or close to it.

It matches or exceeds 19th century harshness. Protracted Depression conditions affect growing millions. 

Poverty, unemployment, homelessness and hunger approach record levels. Millions struggle to pay rent, service mortgages, cover medical bills, heat homes, and manage other daily expenses. 

Growing numbers don't get enough to eat. Social justice is fast disappearing. Monied interests alone matter.

America was never beautiful. For sure it's not now. Sink or swim defines policy. Growing hunger perhaps stands out most of all.

On April 16, USA Today headlined "Hunger is a 'silent crisis' in the USA," saying:

"Tianna Gaines Turner can't remember the last time she went to bed without worrying about how she was going to feed her three children."

"She can't remember the last time she woke up and wasn't worried about how she and her husband would make enough in their part-time jobs to buy groceries and pay utilities on their apartment in a working-class section of Philadelphia."

"And she can't remember the last time she felt confident she and her husband wouldn't have to skip meals so their children could eat."

Similar stories repeat nationwide. Parents struggle to feed children. Low-pay/part-time jobs don't provide enough to live on. 

Millions of unemployed have no steady income. Government benefits increasingly are slashed.

Nicki Maxwell and her husband are like millions of other parents. They struggle daily to feed children. They turn to food pantries for help. They have no other choice.

"I remember feeling really hopeless," said Nicki. "I was depressed. I didn't know what to do. I was drowning under the weight of it."

She wasn't always poor. Years earlier, her family was solidly middle class. She and her husband are college grads. They had good jobs. They paid well. No longer.

They exhausted their savings. In 2012, they were homeless for six months. They relied on family and friends for help. They skipped meals.

They earn far less now than earlier. Survival is a daily struggle. Their children are aged eight, 12 and 14.

Millions of other poor Americans struggle the same way. Intolerable numbers live in crisis. Nicki feels like they do. "When you face food insecurity, it's hard to feel secure again," she says.

Feeding America's latest report is based on federal 2012 data. Nearly 50 million people are food insecure.

They eat less, skip meals, or go hungry. They suffer out of sight and mind. Children most of all. Their growing bodies need nutritious food.

Main Street Depression conditions persist. Economist Craig Gunderson studies hunger. "(F)ood insecurity rates are high," he says. "(T)ens of millions of Americans are…struggling" to get by. 

Center for Hunger-Free Communities director Mariana Chilton said food stamps and other social benefit cuts combined with rising costs force families to choose between enough food and paying other expenses.

"This is a massive public health crisis, and it is a silent" one, she stresses.

Children's HealthWatch (CH) is a network of doctors and public health researchers. Data on children up to age four is collected. Around 29% of households CH tracks face growing hunger. In 2013, it was 25%.

Feeding America lists 10 states with significantly higher food insecurity than the 14.7% 2000-2012 national average. They include:

Mississippi: 20.9%

Arkansas: 19.7%

Texas: 18.4%

Alabama: 17.9%

North Carolina: 17.0%

Georgia: 16.9%

Missouri: 16.7%

Nevada: 16.6%

Ohio: 16.1%

California: 15.6

Illinois is this writer's home state. According to No Kid Hungry, more than one in five state children (22.2) "face a constant struggle against hunger."

They endure what well-fed kids don't face. They're ill-nourished when they need healthy diets most. Empty bellies make concentrating harder. Classroom performance suffers.

Illness and headaches are more common. So is vulnerability to infections. Hospitalizations are more likely.

Conditions worsen annually. According to 2011 data, over 745,000 Illinois children "are at risk of hunger." They don't get enough food "to lead healthy active lives."

"More than 23 percent of (state) households with children struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010."

Things now are worse than then. This writer lives in Chicago. The Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) explained city food security.

Around "1 in 6 individuals" are affected. They don't know "when or where their next meal will be."

People struggle throughout greater Chicago. Data show high concentrations in west and south Chicago communities. Cook County's south suburbs are affected.

In Chicago's West Garfield Park, Lawndale and Austin, one in three people face food insecurity. Auburn Gresham, West Englewood, South Shore and Roseland are severely impacted.

South Chicago Harvey, Robbins and Ford Heights face 34%, 39% and 48% food insecurity rates respectively.

GCFD executive director Kate Maehr said "(o)lder adults face painful choices between paying for food and paying for medicine, or paying for food and she paying rent."

Federal budget cuts caused "more hunger," she added. Over 860,000 Cook County residents aren't sure where their next meal is coming from, she said.

Around 37% are children. About 9% are under age five. Nearly half of affected households say they're forced to choose between food and utilities. 

Another 44% either buy food, pay rent, or maintain monthly mortgage payments. Employed and unemployed households face similar conditions.

So do communities nationwide. America is a let 'em eat cake society. Things aren't improving. Harder times keep getting harder..

In Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," he explained how struggling Cratchit family members struggled to get by. Ebenezer Scrooge was responsible.

On Christmas eve, dinner consisted of "one small atom of a bone upon a dish (followed by) speckled cannon-ball" pudding with a sprig of holly.

"But nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so," said Dickens.

Cratchits were like many others in 18th century England. They made do with meager amounts of what they had.

So do growing millions of Americans. The world's richest country doesn't care. Lump of coal harshness is policy. 

Fundamental rights don't matter. Human need goes begging. Washington has other priorities. 

Serving monied interests tops the list. So does waging war on humanity. Maybe destroying it to save it is planned. 

Battlefields shift from one theater to another. Conflicts rage without end. America's war machine reflects madness. Death squad diplomacy eliminates non-believers. 

Tyranny is a hair's breadth away. Where things end, who knows. Hungry millions worry most about empty bellies. Policymakers don't give a damn if they starve.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour 

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Obama’s Abominable State of the Union

Obama's Abominable State of the Union

by Stephen Lendman

Obama's State of the Union address reflected beginning-to-end empty rhetoric. More on his comments below. 

Throughout five years in office, he's been consistent. Duplicity defines his agenda. He says one thing. He does another. 

In his first State of the Union address, he promised "to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who'd become unemployed."

He called jobs creation his "number one focus." He promised tax relief for ordinary Americans. He promised help for "8 million Americans paying for college."

Graduates are more indebted than ever. Outstanding debt tops $1 trillion. It's second only to mortgage debt. 

For millions of young Americans, it represents many years of debt bondage. For too many, it reflects lifetime debt.

Obama's been more a jobs destroyer than creator. Phantom numbers conceal today's reality. Official ones are statistical illusions.

Real unemployment exceeds 23%. Longterm unemployment is at record levels.

Over 100 million working-age Americans have no jobs. It's 10 million more than when Obama took office.

In December, 74,000 new jobs were created. Five times that number "left the labor force." They can't find work. 

They're nonpersons. They're ignored. They're not counted. They don't exist. America's official unemployment rate is 7.3%. It's one of many Big Lies.

So is job quality. Most high-pay/good benefit/full-time jobs no longer exist. Part-time/low-pay/poor or no-benefit jobs replaced them.

Many pay poverty or sub-poverty wages. Obama waged war on organized labor. Permanent job losses, rotten ones created, gutted work rules, forfeited security and lost futures followed.

Decades of hard-won gains were lost. Industry got major concessions. Workers were entirely left out. They're worse off today than in generations. They're entirely without rights.

Obama's economic program is no banker left behind. Or war profiteer. Or other corporate favorites. Or America's super-rich.

So-called economic recovery is fake. Protracted Main Street Depression conditions persist. Hard times get increasingly harder.

Millions struggle to get by. Obama ignores America's most disadvantaged. Anti-populism defines him. 

He's beholden to monied interests. Neoliberal harshness is official policy. Force-fed austerity reflects it. Safety net protections eroded on his watch. They're disappearing when most needed.

Obama wants social America destroyed. He cut many vital programs. He wants Medicare and Social Security privatized en route to eliminating them altogether.

He wants America's wealth shifted to its privileged class. Inequality today is unprecedented.

He wants Americans left on their own sink or swim. He pretends otherwise. His rhetoric belies his policies.

His first State of the Union address promised "slash(ed) tax breaks for companies that ship our jobs overseas." Corporate America got new ones instead.

He asked for "a jobs bill on my desk without delay." His plan involved corporate tax cuts. His 2009 $787 stimulus bill handed them $400 billion. 

Doing so didn't create jobs. Through December 2010, more were lost than created. Rotten ones replaced good ones.

Bush and Obama are two sides of the same coin. Their policies benefitted corporations and super-rich elites hugely. They never had it better.

Obama heads a rogue administration. Bipartisan complicity created the greatest wealth disparity in US history. 

Half or more of US households are impoverished or bordering it. Good jobs are disappearing in plain sight. 

Nearly 50 million Americans need food stamps to eat. In November, $11 billion in SNAP benefits were cut through 2016. 

Average households of three lost $29 a month. It's the equivalent of 16 monthly meals. SNAP aid is less than $1.40 per person per meal. 

On Monday, bipartisan complicity agreed on $8.7 billion more SNAP cuts. Expect quick congressional passage. Expect Obama enacting greater harshness into law.

Feeding hungry Americans no longer matters. Before Obama leaves office, SNAP benefits may disappear altogether. 

He demands gutting vital social programs. His rhetoric claims otherwise. It rings hollow.

His policies throughout five years in office reflects reality. He's no friend of ordinary Americans. He's mindless of those most disadvantaged.

Hard times are getting harder. Needy households are increasing exponentially. At the same time, corporate profits are higher than ever.

Obama's annual State of the Union addresses reflect an exercise in empty rhetoric. He's a fraud. He's a moral coward.

He's a serial liar. Nothing he says can believed. Americans are tired of broken promises. 

Over 60% lack confidence in his intention to serve them responsibly. Over 80% distrust political Washington.

Obama's presidency reflects duplicity. It reflects promises made and broken. It reflects public betrayal.

Voter confidence in him is polar opposite from when he took office. He represented hope and change. He delivered business as usual. 

His Tuesday night address was a litany of lies and false promises.

He lied calling "the state of our union strong." America is in protracted decline. It's losing its economic and political dominance. It's been this way for decades. It accelerated under Obama. 

He lied claiming the "lowest unemployment rate in over five years." It's higher than when he took office.

He lied claiming "the United States is better-positioned for the 21st century than any other nation on earth."

China's growth rate heads toward overtaking America. Perhaps by 2020 or earlier. Other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India and South Africa) are some of the world's fastest growing.

China is the world's largest exporter. India is an information technology powerhouse. Brazil is a dominant agricultural exporter. 

Russia is oil and gas rich. South Africa holds resources worth an estimated $2.5 trillion. Other developing nations way outpace US growth.

Obama lied about being "committed to making Washington work better, and rebuilding the trust of the people who sent us here."

His agenda throughout five years in office destroyed it altogether. Political Washington is beyond fixing. Tinkering around the edges won't work. Nor rhetorical promises made to be broken.

Obama lied about "the budget compromise…leav(ing) us freer to focus on creating new jobs, not...new crises."

In December, bipartisan complicity struck a budget deal no responsible government would accept. Monied interests are served.

War profiteers benefit enormously. Cuts target vital social programs. They're too important to lose. Deficit reduction is too meager to matter.

Obama acknowledged inequality. He stopped short of accepting responsibility for accelerating America's unprecedented wealth disparity. A race to the bottom continues.

He lied saying "(o)ur job is to reverse these trends." He's gone all out to sustain them. He's destroying middle America.

He lied about "build(ing) new ladders of opportunity into the middle class." He'll act unilaterally if Congress won't, he claimed.

"(T)hat's what I'm going to do," he said. He's done nothing throughout five years. Expect pathetically little ahead. Expect same old, same old.

He lied about wanting to close "wasteful, complicated (tax) loopholes." They benefit monied interests he supports.

He lied about "transition(ing) to tax reform to create jobs rebuilding our roads, upgrading our ports, unclogging our commutes..."

Finance reform masqueraded as change. It was business as usual. Wall Street crooks wrote the legislation. Their interests are well served. Ordinary Americans got scammed.

He lied about his energy policy "creating jobs and leading to a cleaner, safer planet." He's beholden to Big Oil. 

He supports dangerous nuclear power. He largely ignores clean energy.

He lied claiming "new partnerships in trade with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help create more jobs." 

The so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is a secretive, multi-nation agreement. It's a jobs destroyer. It force-feeds corporate intellectual property rules.

It supranational. It tramples on national sovereignty. It destroys privacy and other personal freedoms. The Trans-Atlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) is its US/European equivalent.

Obama lied about "fix(ing) our broken immigration system." Throughout his tenure, he waged war on undocumented immigrants. His policy is racist.

He deported more migrants than any previous administration. He exceeded the worst of George Bush.

He inflicts harshness indiscriminately. His policies are irresponsible. Militarizing Mexico's border is prioritized. So is increasing Border Patrol staff by thousands.

Obama's pathway to citizenship excludes most immigrants. Qualifying means waiting 13 years or longer. Hurdles imposed are enormous. 

Immigration reform reflects business as usual. Comprehensive reform is a convenient illusion. "(L)et's get immigration reform done this year," said Obama.

He lied claiming "ideas (he) outlined can speed up growth and create more jobs." They haven't so far. They won't going forward.

He lied about wanting to restore benefits 1.3 million jobless workers lost the week before Christmas. In 2014, millions more will lose theirs. Rhetorically he opposes it. He proposed nothing to prevent it.

He lied about wanting "every child (to have) access to a world-class education." Throughout his tenure, he waged war on public education. 

He wants it privatized. He wants it made another business profit center. He cut Pell Grants. He supports America's student loan racket. 

His so-called Race to the Top sacrifices quality education. It mandates marketplace rules. It lets Washington bureaucrats decide what's best for children. It's another black mark on his legacy.

His American dream promise is empty. He lied saying "hard work pays off for every American." They're worse off today than in modern memory.

"In the coming weeks, I will issue an Executive Order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour - because if you cook our troops' meals or wash their dishes, you shouldn't have to live in poverty," he said.

Note: $10.10 x 40 hours a week x 52 weeks = $21,000. The federal poverty level for a family of four is $23,500.

It's woefully below reality. It's based on a decades old guideline. Households need at least double that amount to avoid poverty.

They don't need minimum wage protection. They need guaranteed living wages. Enough to cover all essential expenses. Enough to live like most working Americans did decades ago.

Obama's plan is deplorable. Whether or not it becomes policy doesn't matter. 

What about all public employees. What about state and local ones. What about private sector workers. What about restoring lost benefits.

"Give America a raise," said Obama. His rhetoric rings hollow. Working American wages eroded for decades. Inflation adjusted, they decline annually. Real inflation is multiples higher than fake numbers.

Obama touted his Affordable Care Act. "That's what (healthcare) reform is all about," he claimed.

ACA is a healthcare rationing scheme. It enriches insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains. 

It scams millions of Americans. It's polar opposite what's needed. Obama's agenda abhors fairness.

He ignored his multiple war crimes. He lied about exiting Afghanistan. America came to stay. Permanent occupation is planned. So is his war on peace, stability and security.

He lied about terrorist threats. "(T)hat danger remains," he claimed. "We have to remain vigilant."

"We must fight the battles that need to be fought."

Hegemons operate this way. America's only threats are ones it invents. 

Permanent war is official policy. Unchallenged global dominance is sought. Obama didn't explain. His rap sheet is blood-drenched.

He's waging war on Syria. He's destroying another country. He's doing it lawlessly.

He lied about "preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon." No program exists to do so.

Whether or not he lied about vetoing possible legislation imposing new sanctions remains to be seen. Earlier promised vetoes were hollow.

He lied about Hezbollah "threaten(ing) our allies." Israel is the region's only existential threat.

He lied about "the ideals we stand for and the burdens we bear to advance them."

Imperial lawless reflects official US policy. Obama's police state apparatus targets homeland resisters.

Mass surveillance watches everyone. Whistleblowers and activists are considered existential threats.

America's state of the union is deplorable. Obama's entire address reflected empty rhetoric. It's an annual duplicitous exercise. Expect business as usual to continue.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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No Joy to the World This Christmas

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by Stephen Lendman

How can there be with wars raging out-of control! Who's celebrating while mass slaughter and destruction persist?

No Christmas cheer this year for billions. No Feliz Navidad. No happy holiday. No Wise Men spreading good will. 

No silent, holy night. No decking the halls. No herald angels singing. None heard on high. 

No coming all ye faithful. No telling it on the mountain. No merry gentlemen resting. No peace on earth coming upon a midnight clear.

No most wonderful time of the year. No having yourself a merry little Christmas. No holly jolly one. No wishing you one in times of war, injustice and human suffering. Imagine them on an unprecedented scale. 

No frosty the snowman fun. No winter wonderland. No jingle bells joy. No auld lang syne.

No Christmas 2014 to remember. No Santa on his sleigh. None coming to town. No gifts for billions. 

No peace with war winds raging. None with growing global human misery. America is Scrooge writ large. It's the Grinch that stole Christmas.

Scoundrel media editors claim otherwise. They support the worst of all possible worlds. They pretend aggressive wars are liberating ones. 

They claim nations are destroyed to free them. They call imperial dominance democracy.

They glorify wars in the name of peace. Humanitarian intervention and responsibility to protect (R2P) mask ravaging one country after another. Mass slaughter and destruction reflect it. 

They call plunder economic development. They pretend Christmas 2014 reflects peace and good on earth. 

They ignore what matters most. They turn a blind eye to America's imperial savagery. Unprecedented human misery reflects it. 

It persists globally. They sweep it under the rug. They air brush it from history. They ignore reality. Hypocrisy and indifference substitute.

New York Times editors headlined "This Day of Good Cheer." They called it "the most joyous and the most richly seasonal."

"Christmas can seem, somehow, outside the sequence of the ordinary year," they said. 

How can it be when billions endure poverty, unemployment, hunger and homelessness? Millions more suffer the scourge of war. 

Festiveness doesn't top their agenda. Survival matters most. Christmas is no different from other days. It's not a day off from human misery. It doesn't stop mass slaughter and destruction.

Not according to New York Times editors. It's "a day of good cheer," they said. It "comes to life on just this one holiday." 

It's "enough to be here today," they claim. How can it be when unprecedented human misery overwhelms it?

Washington Post editors headlined "The Christmas story, still captivating the world."

A decades earlier radio program was called "The Greatest Story Ever Told." It related biblical narratives. It was popular at the time. It inspired a Hollywood film by the same name.

One Bible story remained popular, said WaPo editors. It's "a tale of universal appeal." It's "a story of love and triumph over adversity and also of humility, of the good to be found in the most modest of circumstances."

It reflects the spirit of Francis of Assisi, they said. He preached "reverence for all living things." He created the first manger creche.

His "living Christmas story was taken up in many towns and villages." They created their own manger scenes. They reflect the seasonal spirit.

"Their basic appeal lay in their warmth, humanity and simplicity." It's an "enduring reflection of...'comfort and joy,' " said WaPo editors.

For whom they didn't explain. For billions it doesn't exist. Human misery is their daily reality. WaPo editors substituted illusion for unconscionable human suffering.

Chicago Tribune editors headlined "As Christmas dawns." They published the same Christmas day editorial since 1988. 

Perhaps they have no original thoughts. Maybe they don't care about what's most important. They asked:

"What is this day, this Christmas, that dawns with a chorus of joy? What river of love and magic speeds the message from that moment of wonder in Bethlehem across the cold darkness of centuries long forgotten?" 

"How does it warm us this morning as we awaken in a world the Wise Men could scarcely imagine to a radiance that once each year makes it all just a little bit better?"

For whom, Tribune editors didn't say. For America's 1%, it never was better. For most others, it's lump of coal harshness. 

Joy didn't arrive Christmas morning. It won't appear later in the day. Or the next one. Or throughout the holiday season. 

It's absent throughout the year. So is the "Prince of Peace." No "(s)ing(ing) out the praises of Christmas... (No) sing(ing) them in shouts and whispers."

Tribune editors support the worst of imperial harshness. They deplore peace and good will. They claim otherwise.

They hypocritically said "remember…the pain of others...the Christmas joy of sharing out humanity."

"We are our brothers' and our sisters' keepers...Rejoice in the accumulated sights and sounds of the season that fill us this Christmas Day."

..."(W)e praise this day, this Christmas, that dawns with a chorus of joy."

Tell it to Chicago's homeless. Imagine sleeping outside in sub-freezing temperatures. Imagine having to beg for nickels, dimes and quarters. Imagine needing them to buy bare bones food.

Imagine having nowhere to go when sick. Imagine no one able to change things caring. Imagine suffering out of sight and mind.

In July 2013, the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless estimated around 116,000 affected Chicagoans.

It's 10% higher than year ago numbers. It includes nearly 19,000 students. Around 98% are children of color. An estimated 20% have disabilities and development delays.

On December 13, the US Conference of Mayors Hunger 2013 Homelessness Survey said Chicago homelessness increased 11.4% year-over-year.

Perhaps Tribune editors didn't notice. Maybe they don't care.

Los Angeles Times editors headlined " 'Miracles' of 2013: Some of our favorites."

Christians annually commemorate Christ's birth. LA Times editors call it "one of the central miracles of the New Testament."

No peace and good will miracles arrived Christmas morning 2013. Expect none throughout the holiday season for billions worldwide.

None appeared throughout 2013. Expect none next year. LA Times editors turned a blind eye to what's most important. They ignored Obama's war on humanity. They said nothing about global human suffering.

They focused on trivia. They highlighted NASA's Voyager 1 mission. It's "ventur(ing) out of our solar system." It's "a singular achievement in humanity's quest for knowledge," they said.

How about waging peace, not war. What about alleviating human misery. What about prioritizing right over wrong? How about replacing dismissiveness with caring.

Times editors expressed angst about not intervening directly against Syria. They said eliminating its chemical weapons may "solidify" Assad's hold on power.

They called Republicans and Democrats "compromis(ing)" on 2014's budget "amazing." Both parties agreed on deeper lump of coal harshness for millions.

They gave bankers, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and America's super-rich virtually everything they wanted. 

They're waging war on social justice. Perhaps Times editors didn't notice. Maybe they don't care.

They discussed a meteor "the size of a small building." It "hurtled toward Russia...in February." It crashed near Chelyabinsk in Siberia. Miraculously it didn't kill anyone, they said.

Imagine calling temporarily switching off LA billboards a 2013 highlight. They called ending city mayoral debates another one.

They claim Washington began negotiating with Iran in good faith. They ignored Obama breaching Geneva terms straightaway. His notion of good faith is none at all.

Times editors' 2013 highlights are ill-chosen. Why is LA's Museum of Contemporary Art quadrupling its endowment more important than millions of city residents struggling to get by?

Why is a so-called "layaway Santa" initiative? An anonymous benefactor is involved. He visits stores. He pays for toys parents had on layaway. He does it in LA County.

What about sheltering its homeless. How about feeding its hungry. What about employing county residents without jobs. How about giving underemployed Angelinos better ones.

What about freeing lawlessly imprisoned county inmates. What about doing so much more to relieve area human misery. 

Why is it ignored? Why is it allowed to fester? Why is it permitted to deepen each year? 

Why don't city and county officials change things? Why do they do nothing? Why don't Times editors hold them accountable? Why not on Christmas day? Why not throughout the year?

Wall Street Journal editors did Tribune counterparts one better. They've run the same Christmas day editorial since 1949. 

Vermont Royster (1914 - 1996) wrote it. He was WSJ's editorial page editor from 1958 to 1971. 

He headlined "In Hoc Anno Domini (in this year of our lord)." He discussed ancient Rome. "There was oppression," he said.

He highlighted Rome's "tax gatherer." It took "grain from the fields and the flax from the spindle to feed the legions or to fill the hungry treasury from which divine Caesar gave largess to the people."

There was "persecution" and "enslavement...Then, of a sudden, there was a light in the world, and a man from Galilee saying, Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar's and unto God the things that are God's."

"…Paul of Tarsus...spoke to his brethren." His words would be remembered. "Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ has made us free and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage."

Royster won two Pulitzer Prizes. His editorials and other writing reflected lump of coal harshness. He deplored social justice.

Dow Jones & Company began publishing the WSJ in July 1889. In  August 2007, Rupert Murdoch bought it. 

Throughout its history, hard right opinion shut out progressive fairness. Under Murdoch, it does so more than ever.

Royster championed free markets over fair ones. So do current Journal editors. They believe whatever government does, business does better so let it.

They want every one left on their own sink or swim. They believe whatever is good for business is good for America. 

They support corporate and super-rich privilege over social justice. Power and profits matter most of all.

What would Jesus say today? What would he think about today's America? What would he do? 

How would he address ideological extremism? What would he say about neoliberal harshness? How would he contest destructive dark forces?

He preached nonviolent resistance. He lived it. He taught it. He deplored injustice. He urged "go(ing) the second mile." He said "love your enemies. (D)o good to those who persecute you."

He spread revolutionary ideas. He opposed exploitive imperial harshness. Today he'd preach peace, equity and justice. He'd oppose war. He'd resist it.

Doing the right thing is its own reward. Doing it every day matters most. Imagine if everyone felt this way. Imagine a world at peace.

Imagine wars consigned to the dustbin of history. Imagine loving thy neighbor having real meaning. Imagine doing unto others responsibly. 

Imagine a world fit to live in. Imagine it with liberty and justice for all. Imagine it on Christmas. Imagine it throughout the year.

John Donne was a poet, lawyer and cleric. "No man is an island," he said. We're all part of humanity.

"Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind." 

"(N)ever send to know for whom the bell tolls. It tolls for thee."

It does so most in times of war. It bears repeating. It doesn't take time off for Christmas. It doesn't do it throughout the holiday season. Mass killing and destruction have lives of their own.

Hemingway's novel discussed "For Whom the Bell Tolls." Its background was the Spanish civil war. In times of all wars, it tolls for thee.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


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"Sending up the count" is something that's done when troops are out somewhere dark and dangerous, and the leader, normally up in front, wants to make sure everyone's still there. The leader whispers, "send up the count" to the next person, who whispers it to the next person, who whispers it to the next person and so on until it gets to the last person in line. That person starts the whispering back forward again, only this time, they start off by tapping the shoulder of the person in front of them saying "one". The next person taps the shoulder of the person in front of them and says "two". This continues until the person behind the leader in front taps the leader's shoulder with the number of people behind the first person in line.

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  In the last month,  four Canadian Combat Veterans - who having survived deployment - have died at home, within days of each other. Now add one more, as in the last few days, another young Canadian Soldier ended his own life.  Although each death is being investigated, (as are the other 70+ still being investigated) initial reports are calling these deaths suicide.  I read somewhere the other day that since the current phase of this ongoing Global War On Terror, Canada has lost more than one hundred Veterans to suicide.   Quite apart from the huge gaping holes left within those families, those communities, that number is beyond staggering when you consider that thus far in Afghanistan, 158 Canadian losses have occurred in the sandbox due to enemy action.   In the US, various statistics claim that we lose 22 Veterans a day to suicide now outpacing Combat fatalities.   

 

Those are just the ones we hear about.  These numbers, which represent a horrific new 'normal' for their families after such a devastating loss, tell me that we are failing our Military men and women. 

Veterans Day (US) and Remembrance Day(Commonwealth countries) may be over for another year, but we cannot just return to 'business as usual'.   WE  - yes, all of us -  bear responsibility: our Military leadership; our politicians; our mainstream media, and yes, we civilians are failing our Military.

From where I sit, a very basic question arises:  How can we fix this?

 Dated 2009, I found this from the US:

September 23, 2009

The Sergeant and suicide prevention

Suicide prevention 100%
The theme for this year’s “Suicide Prevention Awareness Month” is “Improving our Soldiers and Families Health: A Healthy Force Combating High Risk Behaviors.” At the conclusion of this article, there are many resources/links.

 [...]

 I was saddened (but not surprised) to learn of the difficulties and problems some of the soldiers experience while deployed. I can cite many articles about the deployment cycle and its’ affect on the military, it is worth mentioning however that difficulties such as depression, suicide, aggression (some of the symptoms of PTSD) aren’t necessarily exclusive to the ‘multi-deployed’, often, it can be ‘first time’ deployers. In fact, the military is studying the ‘mind set’ of the multi-deployed v. first or second timers to examine the element that helps them cope with extreme psychological pressures and extreme battle fatigue (both mental and physical).


My son is on his fourth deployment, a platoon sergeant (SFC) with approximately 70% ‘first time’ deployers. He is extremely proactive, carefully observing, listening and taking care of his men or any others who seek or need help. The NCO is almost always the first line of defense for troops who are experiencing hardships. I know my son has moved the earth and stars to intervene on the behalf of a trooper in trouble. He is also the same one who will allow the Private on duty with him to catch some ‘sleep’ during 24 hour CQ (Desk/phone duty in the company headquarters/on base) instead of the other way around because he remembers what it was like to be the ‘sleep-less’ private.

He asks much from his men but makes sure he gives them the training, tools and personal time they need to achieve the unit’s mission objectives and succeed as individuals.

[...]


While in the process of completing this article, I read an excellent article “Going Beyond the Book Answer: How to Be a Better Leader, written by Specialist Ben Hutto. In the article,  Spc Hutto writes:



“Army leadership, as I learned it for my promotion board, is the ability to influence others by providing purpose, direction and motivation in order to accomplish the mission and improve the organization.” [Emphasis mine]

He talks about ‘leadership by the book’, and states how “the best NCOs are able to communicate the “purpose” behind a command or task no matter how mundane or difficult. ...

There is much more here, with an extensive list of Military resources available.  What strikes me as I read this, and as I listen to our men and women today, is that even with all these programmes in place, something is missing, and to this civilian the missing ingredient is leadership.   In the last few weeks I have seen videos from both the US Military and Canadian Military leadership  as a response to the ongoing - and most recent - crisis within the Military community.  Take a look here and here. 


 All well and good, but as the article linked above clearly shows, part of the solution to current issues is about leadership that is connected to our Troops.  

I asked a Military Veteran (Platoon Sargeant in the Army) friend where we should begin.  The truth he gave me is universal and, even to this civilian, makes sense:

The only thing that is going to fix this is good leadership. F******' know your troops.
 Know when they're out of character and figure out why....[...] If a soldier has any doubt that they can tell their leader anything they need to, that leader is wrong.. [...]
 If you're going to be in charge, BE in charge. It's like I've said MANY many times: the way to "fix" this is good old fashioned leadership, but the Army doesn't allow time for that anymore.


 It means returning to the old climate, where leaders led, and trained rather than sat in a bunch of CYA, meaningless politically correct powerpoints. Those briefings are knee jerk reactions to the need "to do something," by those that have no clue what really can be done.

And that real leadership I've preached so often goes against the political correctness and professional managers the out of touch generals are pushing, so they are even further out of touch with any real means of doing something.

[Yes, real leadership is teaching] ...knowing when to break s***, and when to turn it off and protect your kids.

This simple concept of leadership is not new, and to this day, real leaders understand what their role is. Just this last weekend, I found another article about leadership. While this compelling article is addressing corporate leadership, it IS written by a Veteran, and it is directly related to leadership within our Military. Every aspect echoes what the Veteran above has told me, and adds weight to how crucial leadership is to our men and women within our Military:


Care, and make sure — without being too obvious or hackneyed — that your people know you care. Fight for them, even occasionally when you know you will lose … it engenders loyalty, and sometimes you need that to hold them together when the “big” reasons for all they’re giving just aren’t enough.

No one will follow you until they know you care.  You have to be demonstrative enough that they know you’re invested — not just in the shared mission you’re pursuing together — but in their fate and future.  Know their stories.  Know the texture of their lives.  Know what makes them tick....

Go read Reflections on Leadership here. 


We are losing our men and women who know what leadership really is, and who are committed to the values of leadership.  I came across another column, also written by a Veteran, which painfully demonstrates the disconnect that so obviously exists between our Military community and the rest of society.

 Sunday, December 15, 2013
You.Them.Me.Us 

We are the expendable and the forgotten. I want to be your voice, but I wish I was able to be someone elses voice. I loved him like a brother. Deployed with him. Slept five feet from him. Taught him to surf. Laughed my ass off when he came down to the beach from the parking lot with Scottish, both with their wetsuits on backwards, looking like they lovingly got each other dressed without their grranimals for the first time. What could have been saved with the ringing of a phone and a hello instead ended with a gunshot in Warner-Robbins without the chance to say goodbye.

 When we leave the life we know and try and build something new for ourselves, we miss the brotherhood, the way that your life depends on the man or woman to your left or right. We miss the hugs that the family we were thrown into and grew to love are now replaced by empty memories of better times and the jokes that only made sense to the people who were closer than family could only get away with telling....

[...]

One veteran dies by their own hands every 65 minutes. That is  22 a day. One active duty Soldier kills themselves every 25 hours.  I do this for them. I do this for you....

 For the enormity of the pain of the loss, that most of us will never understand, go read the rest of this one. 

Epic failure by all of us.   Again:  How can we fix this?

Yes, I do mean all of us, since we as civilians must speak out,  stop enabling the failure of our politicians and the Military Chain of Command to adequately support our Military.

 Let's start with the politicians.  To anybody who is half wake, even the casual observers, it is no surprise, not news,  that our current batch of politicians are failing to fulfill their duty - as OUR elected representatives - as they daily fail to meet the sacred obligation we all have to our Military community: our Active Duty; our Veterans; our Military families.

As the most recent headlines have shone a spotlight on the Canadian losses, our politicians have rushed to the media to express their concern about what they are calling 'troubling losses'.

 Read this, an article that pulls no punches about politician's hypocrisy.

As politicians loudly proclaim that they are 'bringing the Troops home' and that 'Combat is over' (nary a whisper of the word 'Victory,' have you noticed?) our Troops and our Veterans are used as pawns in political gamesmanship.  It is our Veterans and their families who are bearing the brunt of budget cuts, in all our countries. Yes, the various Defence Departments may have publicised  transitional programs  as a measure of how they support the Troops, which is better than nothing, I suppose, since according to a survey released in  September, Canadian employers - for example -   'have little interest in hiring Veterans.'.  Meanwhile, the  Canadian government is proposing to  close Veterans Affairs Offices across the country. 

From CBC, comes this from November 29, of an interview with retired Colonel,  and former Veterans' Ombudsman,  Pat Strogan.  Hard to miss his message of our failure to our Veterans:


As Stogran says "this is not news" to those of us paying attention over the years. Neither is it news that politicians persist in pointing to the millions of dollars that have been designated to supporting our Troops and Veterans.

The fact is,  politicians can puff out their self-righteous chests and claim how much they do for our Troops and Veterans, how much money they profess to be throwing at support,  but obviously whatever they, and the Military,  are doing is not working. Period.  Don't take my word for it.   Watch the video above, and read what one of the most recent grieving families has to say about the Military "dropping the ball."

 "Dropping the ball" by both politicians and Military is not unique to Canada.  I read recently that in the UK (for example) Falkland Island Veteran suicides now outnumber those we lost in Combat, and then I read that within the current Troops/Veterans that more British soldiers commit suicide than die in battle.

 From the US, headlines like thisthis, this and this bear witness to the price that our Veterans are expected to continue to pay once they return from Combat.

As a recent editorial in the National Post said: Canada's Duty to its veterans is to act, not just talk.

It is my belief that it is the sacred duty of each of our countries to honour the Service by our Troops.

The FACTS clearly demonstrate the Canadian government is failing our current Troops and Veterans, and our Military families.  

Yes, it is true that there ARE official resources available in Canada, such as Canadian Forces Members Assistance Programme, found within the official site of Veterans Affairs Canada, and they also have a page that lists the Guide to Benefits, Programs, and Services for CAF Members and their Families

They also list a 24 Hour Crisis Line Help Line   

Despite all these services, clearly,  the crisis is going unanswered for some seeking help..  What about the families?  Regular readers here know well that I also always acknowledge that the family also serves.  As one Military Wife told me recently: As a Military family, there is no personal life; there is only the Military life.  For those families, there is the  Family Information Line - which supports the 'Military Families: The Strength Behind the Uniform'.   All terrific, of course, and the absolute minimum we should be doing.  But the numbers of suicide (both those we know of, and those we do not) tell me that these programmes are not helping everybody, and that many, many - who we may only hear about when disaster strikes - are falling through the bureaucratic cracks.

Over the years I have heard -  first-hand - from deployed Troops, and now Veterans, of how they feel our Military leadership, and their political bosses,  are failing them.  

You may remember back in 2010 I shared an open letter here written by a Military Wife who chose to be called "Anonymous".  She wrote, in part:

Monday, February 8, 2010


The families also serve: A military spouse open letter


To the American Public From a Military Spouse An Open Letter (to anyone who can help) Written by: A Military Spouse December 14, 2009

This is a open letter to the Commander in Chief, First Lady Michelle Obama, the leaders of our Armed Forces, and the American Public. If it moves you, contact your elected officials.

News stations count the casualties of the War on Terrorism; by using body counts. Those numbers represent the service members who have not come home breathing to their family members. What about those that came home breathing, but dead inside? Those who suffer daily from some form, or extreme of Depression, PTSD, TBI, or any other of a half dozen syndromes? What about the families left behind whose soldiers are not getting the medical and mental health treatment the government has promised?

Our leaders stand in front of the American public and talk about how much the war is costing, and how much help is available to our returning soldiers and their families. We throw billions upon billions of dollars to artificially hold up the banking system and the value of our dollar. Yet, we sit by and do nothing while our American families fall apart.
I am the spouse of an Active Duty Soldier;
 [...]

I have held up my end of the bargain; the Military and American Government has not. I was on the front lines during the initial invasion. My husband’s military unit deployed on the day the war started in March of 2003...

[...]

I have watched as the man I married has died inside. I have waited for him to work through his demons. ...I have asked for help from the military; I have sought help in the laws written to protect my family. I have received none....

There is much more from this "anonymous" Military spouse here.

I wish I could tell you that "Anonymous" from 2010 was just an anomoly, but I know she is not.  

Over the past decade or so since I started writing on Military matters, I have come to know and love more than a few of the Military and Veteran Families from this current Global War On Terror.  These families  are some of the most amazing people it is my privilege to know, and yes, they do share their thoughts with me.  It is through them that I see and hear what life is really like for these "Girls Behind the Men Behind the Guns."     That poem, written about the women in a long ago war, reminds us that the issues faced by women then and now, and their families, are timeless and universal.  (Yes, I did write a column on that very topic long ago, but I can't find it now.)  

 FACT is that today Military Wives (of both Active Duty and Veterans) do sometimes fall through the bureaucratic cracks, and as they fall not yards of red tape, nor government-sanctioned organisations,  can provide a lifeline.  From one long-time reader I recently got this (and yes, I DO have her permission to share) :


[...]   Behind every soldier/veteran who suffers in silence with "invisible" wounds called PTSD there is a family and loved ones who suffers in silence as well. We have all read and heard about men who were soldiers who took their own lives in the last two weeks. We are angry, upset, and want to find a way to help stop even one more soldier or veteran from taking their lives again. As we try to find away to help soldiers/veterans we also need to keep in mind their families and loved ones.
 
  It is near impossible to do if you are a wife of a soldier who is still serving...the unwritten rule is wives are seen but are not to speak. We too suffer in silence literally and there is not much help out there for us or loved ones of soldiers dealing with PTSD....

I'm very glad there are many programs for soldiers who suffer from OSI/PTSD but there needs to be something for the families of soldiers. We have issues/concerns/problems at 3 am that keep us awake and there is no one we can talk to. OSI/PTSD doesn't only come up during business hours and civilian crisis lines are not equipped to understand nor offer much help/advice. I am not the only military wife who also suffers in silence nor is our family the only one who suffer in silence! We need support as well. There needs to be help for wives/families of soldiers still serving and for families whose soldiers are no longer serving. How many suicides will it take for someone to start helping us!...

[...]

Wives can only seek out so much help.  They have to be careful not to draw attention to their husband's PTSD for fear the military will catch on and put their husband's military career at risk. To this day being an active soldier seeking treatment for PTSD you run a very high chance of ending your military career even if your PTSD is considered mild.  Your personal life is not personal when you are a Military family. 

The soldier can lose his job for doing what his employer,  the government,  is asking him to do:  seek help for his PTSD.

FACT: although this Wife is anonymous, I have heard over the years of more than a few Troops afraid of seeking help because it is a "career killer."   I may not be directly connected to our Military in this current GWOT (although I do come from a family with centuries of Military service, and have been  directly affected by the generational ripples of suicide.)  I have heard many times over these last few years of how reaching out to access help has resulted in an extremely negative career impact.  There is a stigma that kicks a Soldier (or his family) who reaches out for help from the official Military programmes.


Given the escalating number of suicides, I asked another Military Wife - a long time friend - for her thoughts on what needs to be done to fix our struggling Military families.  From her I got this (again shared with permission):
 

A veteran should get every stinking possible piece of assistance to make sure they are at peace with the wars they have had to endure.
There is a way to do 24/7 help. At no cost to the veteran. I did it,  and it ended up becoming the Vet Hut Resource Centers locally here.  Just gather up some volunteer-friends, and make a phone tree. Take the phone tree to the local VA-type deal you have, and let them know your group  is willing to be a 24/7 crisis call group to aide veterans who suffer from PTSD and suicidal problems. 

Then leave it with your version of the VFW and the American Legion (or whatever your local equivalent is) and so forth,  until all groups of veteran support centers have the phone tree. Then be prepared for the phone to never ever ever stop ringing.

IT WORKS THOUGH! Then,  when the calls are too many, you take ALL that statistical information you have gathered about the number of calls, durations, and crisis problems without mentioning names etc, and go to your local veteran support centers and show them IN THEIR FACE how vital a small office of round-the-clock crisis call support is for the suffering veterans. Not just ideas. Empirical theoretical studies that proved successful.  It does work. The only problem is finding volunteers to actually answer the phone constantly. 

This workable plan echoes what the first Military Wife quoted above calls for.

Pretty basic, huh, and doesn't require a gazillion dollars.  I have seen this ingenuity, and this front-line commitment to 'knowing your Troops, looking out for them' extend into the Veteran community, and their families. too. Just as in a Combat zone it is a matter of life and death to know that you can count on the battle buddy to your left and your right to 'cover your six,' so I see Veterans and families applying that after deployment.    Veterans - sick and tired of waiting for governments' broken promises/contracts to be honoured - have created support groups specifically designed and run by Veterans - for Veterans.

In Canada, for example, there are Veteran groups that reach out in the way only a fellow Veteran can, as they continue their battles on the home-front.  There is:

The Canadian Veterans Advocacy

Their name says it all, as they advocate, both in front of the mainstream media, and behind the scenes among the politicians, for all Veterans.  I also found a very informative article in the Ottawa Citizen where they quote directly from CVA on the history and meaning of our sacred obligation to our Veterans.

Military Minds

Veterans sharing their common experiences, and solutions,  to  the issues they all face.  

VETS - Veterans Emergency Transition Services

 "...formed to reach out and help the many of Canada’s veterans who had not made successful transitions from their military careers to healthy civilian lives...."

 Our Duty - which also has a petition that I urge you to sign, calling on the government to give our Veterans the support they have earned.

These are but a small sampling of Veteran-led groups in Canada that talk MilSpeak. 

These groups DO work, DO pick up the dropped ball that governments and Military bureaucracies fumble. The Military Veteran  friend quoted above reinforces the bond found among Veteran groups:


Sadly this generation ignores the most obvious “support groups” already established. In an electronic world, VFW’s and American Legions are brick and mortar gathering places for Veterans It’s not all cheap beer and war stories, but an employment network of established Veterans that made their way through the post-Military world. It is just sitting in the company of those that “know” without saying a word, what a Veteran has been through, and is going through, even if the overt topic is an argument about the Iron Bowl, Superbowl, NASCAR, World Series, or World Cup. 


 For several years now, in Canada,  Equitas has been pursuing a class action suit representing Veterans who have been severely short-changed under the New Veterans Charter of 2006.  All Canadians who support our Troops, our Veterans and their families should check that site out.  Let it be noted that the Canadian federal government has spent thousands of dollars, in legal fees,  fighting this lawsuit; money that could have helped a lot of Veterans.  However, also comes news,  recently,  of an individual Soldier who has submitted  his own  $20-million statement of claim with the Federal Court. [ He...] alleges the Canadian military did not adequately address his post-traumatic stress disorder. 

How sad is this that our Veterans have to fight the governments when they return home.  Sure, the politicians may say they "support our Troops" but talk is cheap.  In the week prior to Remembrance Day,  Justin Trudeau, leader of the Liberals, challenged the Prime Minister to honour our commitments to Veterans. 

Our politicians continue to fail our Veterans, and our Veterans continue to do at home what they did in the sandbox: fight for rights, but now they are fighting for their own rights.  I came across a stunning statistic out of the US which claimed huge numbers of homeless and hungry Veterans.    How can this be, that in NYC, for example and according to a recent article,  thousands of Veterans are having to eat at soup kitchens???  That is just one city, and I have no way of verifying the truth of their claims. However, I wrote back in October of how the cuts to Military budgets in the UK are swelling the number of homeless Veterans there.  Again, at least one volunteer group is working tirelessly to address that very real issue: Soldiers Off the Street. 



Thank God there are these volunteer groups throughout Canada, the US and the UK who stand up for each other, while the fat-cat politicians obviously remain sitting down on their job. Something in the system is very broken, and regardless of the actual number, if there is even one Veteran living on the streets, that is an epic fail, in my opinion.


So what about the current batch of politicians who appear to be clueless about Military matters, and whose ignorance woefully fails our Troops and our Veterans? As things stand right now, not one of the leaders in the UK, Canada, or the US has served in our Military.  They have no clue what it means to BE a Veteran. As I have watched our Troops and Veterans in the Global War on Terror, I have been anticipating that some of them would enter the political arena, but this is proving to be a very slow process.   In Canada, as of May 2013, out of 4,210 Parliamentarians, a paltry 14 are listed as having Military Service (and one of those is an Honorary.)  That is 0.3325416% in control of our Defence Department, all our Military policies..

From the US, I found this dated 2012:




And yes, there was this underneath the graph:


Military service by politicians is quickly nearing zero. Perhaps this is why many of our politicians are so trigger-happy these days. No one has fought and no one knows just what they are doing when they commit our soldiers overseas.

Ya think?  What this underscores for me is that we need more politicians who ARE Veterans, who know what being in the Military actually means. When I was discussing this with another Veteran friend, they were quick to remind me of  Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan both being non-Veterans.  Good point, but I would also suggest that  both of those leaders, even as civilians, demonstrated their governmental, bureaucratic support for our Troops and Veterans.   The Troops then knew they were supported. The world was a very different place then.  Unlike today, where our political leaders continue to prove that they don't *get it*,  even as they pay lip service to 'support the Troops' when absolutely necessary, it seems to me that Troops from the Reagan/Thatcher era never doubted the support from those leaders. It also seems to me, through the lens of hindsight, that Reagan and Thatcher were smart enough to listen to our Military leaders and defer to their expertise and experience (unlike the current crop of political leaders.)

As another Veteran friend (yes, I know a few!) pointed out to me recently: another part of the difference is the very low fatality rate in our current and recent wars. These low fatality rates are in large part due to military successes in trauma treatment, so that fewer troops have been killed in action in Iraq and Afghanistan than on single days of earlier wars.

This obviously means that we have more Veterans, returning as Wounded Warriors, who have earned all the benefits that we as a society are obligated to provide. Our Veterans today,  who would most assuredly have died in previous wars, are more visible, and yes, they are dealing with long-term issues that we, as a society,  are failing to adequately and effectively address..

One of those issues is the terrible belief by some of our Troops and Veterans that the only option they have is to choose suicide.  

As I heard somewhere recently:  suicide is a symptom that becomes an unacceptable solution.  


The Veteran friend initially quoted above had this to say about suicidal Veterans:

The reality is that suicidal veterans sometimes get raided because they admit they have a gun, who the hell is going to call that line?

 Suicide is not prevented by strangers. It's prevented by friends, who notice their friend needs help, before it becomes suicidal ideation.


Powerpoints can’t fix this. Generals can’t fix this. Only individuals can fix this.

 Too often civilians and even fellow veterans say and do all the wrong things. When a veteran’s life begins to derail, often those around him withdraw, making it worse. Often, those “friends” he had before the war, suddenly have nothing in common with him. Instead of just listening, they’re more concerned with their own, in his eyes, trivial, problems.


But, when veterans see broken promises, such as promises that “getting help won’t be held against you,” while those that do get help get screwed by the very military that makes the promise, they’re not going to get help. And getting (real) help isn’t seeing a shrink that has never been there, done that. It is finding someone that can help him find his own way through the challenges he’s facing, those challenges that seem to be becoming insurmountable.

 Veterans are withdrawing from society, because increasingly society is self-absorbed and disconnected from what is important to our veterans.


A column from War On Terror News in 2009 reminds that this is not a recent phenomenon, but that within the GWOT environment, we must find solutions:

June 09, 2009

Victimizing Our Veterans: Suicidal Struggles

As the Army struggles to stem the tide of rising suicides, it seems to be at a loss to how to overcome the stigmas attached to seeking help for the underlying causes.  It seems to understand that the Warrior Culture is adverse to asking for help but while the leadership is truly seeking a means to turn the tide that has brought suicide rates up to the same level as the civilian population, it has not realized the self-destructive tactic of encouraging victimization.

The military leadership continues to search with noble motivation for a solution, currently encouraging Soldiers to demonstrate strength by admitting mental wounds.  But it describes the symptoms of PTSD and depression as causes of suicide.  It describes these as mental illnesses, even as it has created less boring mandatory briefings for the troops to endure.  Shrinks continue to prescribe medications to overcome chemical inbalances that lead to the symptoms, not the causes.


It has however realized that the illnesses which are symptoms are caused by feelings of helplessness and hopelessness, but not what the root causes are.  The Military creates Warriors capable, motivated, and ready to overcome all challenges, but military life and tours of duty can be a challenge to overcoming those challenges.  Too often, the military's answer to a challenge is to add paperwork, briefings, and responsibilities to all Troops when it identifies that the Troops are buckling under the burdens. 


The military has a habit of taking a simple, successful program and developing it into a cumbersome, complicated problem.  There are so many examples of this that it becomes redundant to point to AAR's, OER's, Counseling Statements, NCOER's, and weeks upon weeks of mandatory briefings.  Each of these has a noble, positive purpose that once discovered was forcefed into a paperwork feeding frenzy that destroy the purpose itself in too many cases.



Muttered too often these days is "If I have to sit through one more 'suicide awareness' briefing, I'm going to kill myself."  Those uttering such phrases are not suicidal but would prefer to train and tired of the training distractors that eat up their time.  They are often fans of their own sarcastic irony, even as they often realize the danger of being referred to a shrink for their "suicidal tendencies."


Yet, the Army has more than once not only cancelled training, but also pulled Troops out of the field, during training exercises in knee-jerk reaction to correct issues.  In Roughneck Nine-One, SFC Antenori tells of just such an event from approximately 2002, as Fort Bragg responded to a rash of negative actions by returning Troops that led to his SF team being brought back in at the very climax of an exercise.  More recently, FT Campbell Troops were stood down for 3 straight days of "suicide awareness."


Overcoming depression for a Warrior is not a matter of victimizing the Warrior.  It is not a matter of taking pills.  It is not a matter of justifying their feelings.  For a Warrior, it is a plan of action to overcome the challenges that have led to the loss of control.  [Emphasis mine] A Warrior often trudges through the bogs of mud mentally and physically, despite conditions that would cause others to quit.  As the upper eschelons see the Warrior successfully complete extraordinary missions, it adds to the taskings, it adds to the weight a Warrior must physically and mentally carry....


I could copy and paste all of this article, but instead would suggest you go read it here.  For all the commonsense within it, it would be really helpful if some Generals also read it:




But with the advancement of communications, a General can watch a squad level engagement on the other side of the world in real time.  The danger comes in when he tries to command that battle from the safety of his office....


Leadership, again. From where I sit, it is lack of leadership, both in the Military and governments that is sorely lacking.  Our Troops, our Veterans and their families are paying the price. 

 

Not only our Troops, but our Veterans, are missing the 'old style' leadership; leadership that undoubtedly saves their lives while in Combat, and can certainly save their lives once they become Veterans.

Today we see the old school Military leadership being deliberately being purged, as our politicians continue to declare - ignorantly and shortsightedly in my opinion - that "war is  over." NO, it is not.
Still, our Military leaders, who know Combat first-hand, are leaving.  Don't believe me?  Take a look:


 DISTURBING: The List Of Purged Military High Officers Under Obama 

 And there is this: [US] Army will cut almost 2,000 captains, majors

Where does all this leave our Veterans?  In the same place as they were in the front-lines of the GWOT: relying on their battle buddies from the sandbox, the battle buddies who have been there, done that, and know what hell they have survived.

As another Veteran friend of mine recently commented:  We are not broken.  We are changed.

Who better to understand, and address those changes than another Veteran?  As the politicians, and the Military leadership who has perhaps never seen Combat continue in their failure to understand, and implement, real help that could save lives, our Veterans are 'sending up the count', and adapting what worked in Combat into their post-combat lives.



Take a look at what Sgt Brian Harding has to say..


"We are reaching out to find guys who maybe have fallen through the cracks."

To this civilian, that even one of our Troops, our Veterans falls through the cracks is unacceptable. 

 


I recently heard Canadian former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier interviewed on CBC radio, and his insights reinforce what Sgt Brian Harding and any other Veteran I know has said:



Hillier, who also served in Afghanistan as the commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Kabul in 2004, said he suffered only minuscule symptoms of PTSD when he returned home, having the occasional dream or waking up at night.



He credits his strong circle of friends and family for making him feel healthy and comfortable upon his return, but warns that not all soldiers are so lucky.



His final message to troops is to not be alone this holiday season.



"Don't be alone. Do not be alone over this period of time.

"If you've got a problem, we learned long ago in combat that there is no embarrassment in admitting a weakness. No embarrassment in approaching somebody else," Hillier said.



"You know, we entrust our battle buddies with our very lives on the battlefield, this is now a different battlefield, so trust them. Go talk to your battle buddies. Talk to them and tell them you've got a problem. [Emphasis mine]


There is much more here, which includes a link to the radio interview I mentioned above.  If you haven't read Rick Hillier's biography, A  Soldier First: Bullets, Bureaucrats and the Politics of War,  I highly recommend it.



As Pat Strogan says in the video above, these issues faced by our Troops and our Veterans are not just 'flavours of the day...there will be more suicides.'   These issues our Troops and Veterans face on a daily basis MUST be addressed in the months and years to come.  To do any less is to dishonour each and every one of our Military and their families. It is an epic fail by all of us. 

 

 Weeks ago, as I decided to write this column, I planned only to write a one-off.  However, I have been reminded of the enormity of the failure of all of us to actively 'Support OUR Troops'...  I deliberately say 'all of us' because from where I sit, there is more than enough failure to go around for all of us.



Despite my familial ties to our Military, and my close 'family' ties to many in the current Global War On Terror, as a civilian, no, I do not have the authority of our men and women who have risked and sometimes given all in Combat;  nor would I ever claim such authority.  However, after years of caring about our Troops, our Veterans, and our Military families - of watching and listening to them -  I maintain my belief that we as civilians do have an irrefutable responsibility to stand with them. 



We all must listen,  learn and be educated by those most knowledgeable, our Combat Veterans. If we truly mean to  respect and honour the Service and Sacrifice of our Troops, Veterans and their families, we need to do more than pay lip service. To say we 'support the Troops' is not enough.  We ALL need to walk the walk.  We need to demand our politicians also honour our Military Family. We need to address this 'unacceptable solution,' which - even during the course of my researching and writing this one article -  has claimed more lives from our Military Family.  


.
WE must not fail.  Period.


[cross-posted from Assoluta Tranquillita ]

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It's hard giving thanks when you're hungry. It's harder living in the world's richest country. It's harder still knowing government officials don't care. It's hardest of all wondering how you'll get by. 

More below on growing hunger and deprivation. It's increasing in America at a time trillions of dollars go for warmaking, corporate handouts, and other benefits for rich elites.

Giving thanks predated the republic. In 1621, Plymouth Pilgrims did so. They had nothing to do with originating the idea.

Native Americans did. They gave thanks for annual fall harvests. They did it centuries before settlers arrived.

On November 26, 1789, George Washington proclaimed the first national thanksgiving day.

He called it "a day of public thanksgiving and prayer to be observed by acknowledging with grateful hearts the many and signal favours of Almighty God."

In 1863, Lincoln used the occasion to boost Union Army morale and patriotic fervor.

He "invite(d) (his) fellow citizens to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next as a day of thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the heavens."

He "fervently implore(d) the interposition of the Almighty hand to heal the wounds of he nation and to restore it to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity, and union."

He didn't live long enough to see it. Government officials today exploit Thanksgiving. They promote the illusion of US exceptionalism, moral and cultural superiority.

Social inequality, moral degeneration, and police state lawlessness reflect today's reality. Constitutional rights don't matter. 

War on humanity persists. Corporate crooks go unpunished. Democracy is a convenient illusion. Powerful monied interests run things. 

Ordinary people are hugely deprived. Growing needs go unaddressed. Government officials able to make a difference don't care.

Thanksgiving has many disturbing ironies. Presidents annually issue a "pardon." It spares a preselected turkey's life. It does so by proclamation. This year two were spared. 

It's unclear precisely when the tradition began. Lincoln did so. Thanksgiving day 1963 was November 28. Kennedy was assassinated six days earlier. Before his death, he let one turkey live. "We'll just let this one grow," he said.

Nixon began sending turkeys to a petting farm near Washington. He did so after a White House photo-op ceremony. No formal pardon was given.

GHW Bush was the first president to do it. On November 14, 1989, he said a preselected turkey was "granted a presidential pardon as of right now."

Obama issued annual presidential pardons. On Wednesday, he spared two turkeys. 

"The office of the presidency, the most powerful position in the world, brings with it many awesome and solemn responsibilities," he said. "This is not one of them."

"Tomorrow, as we gather with our own friends and family, we'll count ourselves lucky that there's more to be thankful for than we can ever say and more to be hopeful for than we can ever imagine."

A November 27 White House press release said in part:

"On Wednesday, November 27, 2013, President Obama will pardon the National Thanksgiving Turkey in a ceremony on the North Portico."  

"The President will celebrate the 66th anniversary of the National Thanksgiving Turkey presentation, reflect upon the time-honored traditions of Thanksgiving, and wish American families a warm, safe, and healthy holiday."

"After the pardoning, the turkeys will be driven to George Washington's Mount Vernon Estate and Gardens."  

"The National Thanksgiving Turkey will be on display for visitors during 'Christmas at Mount Vernon,' a traditional program through January 6."  

"The turkeys will then travel to their permanent home at Morven Park’s Turkey Hill, the historic turkey farm located at the home of former Virginia Governor Westmoreland Davis (1918-1922) in Leesburg, Virginia."

Jaindl's Turkey Farm in Orefield, Pennsylvania, gave President Obama's family two dressed turkeys that will be donated to a local area food bank."

They need much more than that nationwide. Hunger in America is real. Millions are affected. 

Official numbers understate a growing crisis. Congress ignores it. Food stamps were cut when they're most needed. Further cuts are planned.

On December 31, millions will lose extended unemployment benefits unless Congress renews them. Both parties show little inclination to do so. Bipartisan complicity reflects indifference.

On July 28, AP headlined "Exclusive: Signs of Declining Economic Security," saying:

"Four out of 5 US adults struggle with joblessness, near poverty or reliance on welfare for at least parts of their lives."

It's a disturbing "sign of deteriorating economic security and an elusive American dream."

"Survey data exclusive to The Associated Press points to an increasingly globalized US economy, the widening gap between rich and poor, and loss of good-paying manufacturing jobs as reasons for the trend."

Government data fall short of explaining things. Conditions are much worse than official reports. 

Most Americans struggle to get by. Impoverishment or close to it affect them. So do millions experiencing hunger.

Franklin Roosevelt instituted the first Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It began in May 1939. In 1941, he pledged freedom from want.

On January 11, 1944, he delivered his last State of the Union address. He proposed a second bill of rights.

"This Republic had its beginning, and grew to its present strength, under the protection of certain inalienable political rights," he said.

"They were our rights to life and liberty."

"As our nation has grown in size and stature, however - as our industrial economy expanded - these political rights proved inadequate to assure us equality in the pursuit of happiness."

His solution was "economic bill of rights." He wanted one guaranteeing:

  • employment with a living wage;

  • freedom from unfair competition and monopolies;

  • housing;

  • medical care;

  • education; and

  • social security. 

Imagine if he'd lived long enough to implement it. Imagine this type America today. Hunger, homelessness, unemployment and poverty wouldn't be major problems.

State-sponsored class war exacerbates them. Growing millions need help. They face increasing hardships. 

Force-fed austerity harms America's most disadvantaged. Their numbers are far greater than most people think. 

Half of US households are impoverished or bordering it. Growing millions struggle to get by. They haven't enough to live on.

Most households with one or more workers live from paycheck to paycheck. They have little or no savings. 

They're one missed pay day away from being unable to handle daily expenses. They risk hunger, homelessness and deep poverty.

They live in the world's richest country. It spurns its most disadvantaged. Doing so swells their numbers. They suffer out of sight and mind.

Banks, other corporate favorites and super-rich elites are disproportionately favored. America was never beautiful. It's less so than ever today. It's dark side reflects reality.

Obama is no Roosevelt. He's polar opposite. Anti-populism defines his agenda. Transferring America's wealth to its most well-off is official policy. 

He wants vital New Deal/Great Society programs eliminated. He wants them privatized en route to doing so.

Throughout his tenure, he instituted numerous social benefit cuts. He's got more in mind. He's heading America toward third world status. He lies claiming otherwise.

Hungry Americans don't matter. Half or more are children. Many attending schools with hot breakfasts or lunches may get their only decent daily meal.

Most households receiving food stamps have at least one employed member. According to the Food Journal, they "typically include a child, elderly person or a disable person, and a gross income of $744 a month."

Average rents nationwide exceed $1,200 monthly. A tiny upscale Kansas City, MO 800 square-foot one bedroom apartment costs about $1,000 a month.

Median rents in America's least expensive cities range from $623 to $730 on average. It's a far cry from much cheaper earlier times.

Households earning $700+ a month struggle from day to day to get by. They need help doing so. Washington provides increasingly less during hard times. 

Republicans and Democrats don't give a damn. Today's America is a let 'em eat cake society. 

Growing millions are on their own sink or swim. Protracted Main Street Depression era conditions persist. Things are getting worse, not better.

Thanksgiving is no time for celebration. Not when hunger reflects daily reality for millions. It's been this way for years. Major media editors largely ignore it.

On November 25, 2009, a New York Times editorial headlined, "A Thanksgiving Toast," saying:

"Sitting down with friends and family today, there will be thanks for the steady currents, flowing out of the past, that have brought us to this table....And there will be prayerful thanks for the future."

In November 2010, dismissive Washington Post editors headlined "Thanksgiving's unchanging appeal," saying:

We're "fortunate to be alive and fed and sheltered, and the proper response to our good fortune is not self-satisfaction but gratitude."

Fact check

Poverty, homelessness and hunger are at Depression era levels. Feeding America (FA) is Chicago-based. It calls itself the nation's "leading domestic hunger-relief charity."

It serves the needy "through a nationwide network of member food banks."

In February 2010, it issued a report titled "Hunger in America 2010." In 2014, it plans updating it. Conditions now are much worse. 

They were bad enough then. About 5.7 million Americans needed emergency food aid. It was over one-fourth more than in 2005.

It said one in eight Americans are food insecure. Around 14 million children were affected. It's about 16 million now. They don't get enough food to eat.

FA calls food insecurity "a complex, multifaceted phenomenon that varies along a continuum of successive stages as it becomes more severe." 

Food secure households lets them "access...enough food for an active, health life."

"(T)he existence of so many people without secure access to adequate nutritious food represents a serious national concern."

"More than one in three client households are experiencing very low food security - or hunger - a 54 percent increase" compared to data FA compiled in a 2006 report.

At the time, former FA CEO Vicki Escarra said:

"Clearly, the economic recession, resulting in dramatically increasing unemployment nationwide, has driven unprecedented, sharp increases in the need for emergency food assistance and enrollment in federal nutrition programs." 

"Hunger in America 2010 exposes the absolutely tragic reality of just how many people in our nation don't have enough to eat." 

"Millions of our clients are families with children finding themselves in need of food assistance for the very first time." 

"It's morally reprehensible that we live in the wealthiest nation in the world where one in six people are struggling to make choices between food and other basic services."

On November 27, FA's CEO Bob Aiken said in part:

"With the holiday season here and with many of us sitting down to a table full of food this Thanksgiving, it's hard not to reflect on the 49 million people in our country who struggle with hunger."  

"And it's especially hard not to think of those families who earlier this month saw their SNAP benefits cut, further straining their food budgets."

"We've seen throughout our network of food banks the impact that these cuts are already beginning to have - with longer lines and an anticipated growth in need." 

"Our food banks are stretched and charity alone can't make up for this cut to federal assistance." 

"And with the possibility of further cuts to the program via the farm bill, there is real concern that the need for food will not be met."

"(W)e know hunger isn't seasonal - it's a year-round problem. It's our job to make sure that we shine a light on this issue all year, not just around the holidays."

In 2012, FA said 49 million Americans were food insecure. It affected 17.6 million households.

About seven million households experienced "very low food security." Households with children reported "a significantly higher rate than those without children, 20 percent compared to 11.0 percent."

Food insecurity persists across America. It's in every county. It ranges from 2.4% in Slope County, ND to 35.2% in Holmes County, MS.

America's national average is 14.7%. Ten states are significantly higher:

Mississippi: 20.9%

Arkansas: 19.7%

Texas: 18.4%

Alabama: 17.9%

North Carolina: 17%

Georgia: 16.9%

Missouri: 16.7%

Nevada: 16.6%

Ohio: 16.1%

California: 15.6%

Hunger in the world's richest country is intolerable. It's unconscionable. It persists. It's worsening. It's the shame of an uncaring nation.

Families without enough to eat aren't celebrating. They're struggling to find enough food to survive. Bipartisan complicity ignores them.

Anti-populism is official policy. Harder than ever hard times persist. Failure to address it reflects America's dark side. 

Equity and justice aren't in its vocabulary. It bears repeating. Today's America is a let 'em eat cake society. Hard times keep getting harder.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour


http://www.dailycensored.com/hunger-america/

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by Stephen Lendman

On November 4, an independent panel of military, ethics, medical, public health, and legal experts said Pentagon and CIA officials directed doctors and psychologist to ignore medical ethics, principles and standards.

Post-9/11, the Task Force on Preserving Medical Professionalism in National Security Detention Centers said they collaborate in securing intelligence.

"(D)esigning, participating in, and enabling torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment" substituted for do no harm. Established practices continue.

Dr. Gerald Thomson is Columbia University Professor of Medicine Emeritus. He's duly outraged.   
"The American public has a right to know that the covenant with its physicians to follow professional ethical expectations is firm regardless of where they serve," he said.
"It’s clear that in the name of national security the military trumped that covenant, and physicians were transformed into agents of the military and performed acts that were contrary to medical ethics and practice." 
"We have a responsibility to make sure this never happens again."
The Task Force's report is titled "Ethics Abandoned: Medical Professionalism and Detainee Abuse in the War on Terror. More on it below.
Ethics Abandoned isn't the first report on healthcare professionals abandoning their oath to do no harm.
In April 2009, a confidential February 2007 ICRC torture report was released. It's titled "ICRC Report on the Treatment of Fourteen 'High Value Detainees' in CIA Custody."

It discusses harsh and abusive treatment. It does so from time of arrest, detention, transfer, and incarceration at Guantanamo. 

It explains the involvement of healthcare professionals. It covers:

  • their monitoring of and direct participation in torture procedures;

  • instructing interrogators to continue, adjust, or stop certain ones;

  • informing detainees that medical treatment depended on their cooperation;

  • performing medical checks before and after each torture session; and

  • treating the effects of torture as well as ailments and injuries during incarceration.

Condoning or participating in torture grossly violates medical ethics. Doing so is strictly prohibited.

The World Medical Association (WMA) Declaration of Tokyo "Guidelines for Physicians Concerning Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment in Relation to Detention and Imprisonment" states:

In all cases at all times, "physician(s) shall not countenance, condone or participate in" torture or any other form of abuse.

They "shall not use nor allow to be used (their) medical knowledge or skills, or health information" to aid abusive interrogations in any way.

They "shall not be present during any procedure during which torture or any other forms of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment is used or threatened."

They "must have complete clinical independence" in treating persons entrusted to their care. 

WMA encourages the international community and practicing physicians to support medical professionals who face "threats or reprisals resulting from a refusal to condone" all forms of torture and abuse.

According to Protocol I of the 1949 Geneva Conventions:

"Persons engaged in medical activities shall neither be compelled to perform acts or to carry out work contrary to, nor be compelled to refrain from acts required by, the rules of medical ethics or other rules designed for the benefit of the wounded and sick, or this Protocol."

In July 2006, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) published a report titled, "Report on Torture and Cruel, Inhuman, and Degrading Treatment of Prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba."

It included evidence of medical personnel involvement in torture. Eyewitness testimonies confirmed it. So did prisoners CCR lawyers interviewed.

International law is clear and unequivocal. The UN Convention Against Torture prohibits it at all times, under all circumstances, with no allowed exceptions.

Third Geneva bans "violence to life and person (as well as) humiliating and degrading treatment." It mandates proper medical care.

Fourth Geneva affords the same rights to civilians in times of war. The federal anti-torture statute (18 USC, 2340A) prohibits its use. 

It defines is as "an act committed by a person acting under the color of law specifically intended to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering...upon another person within his custody or physical control."

Constitutional law prohibits cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment.  

The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) bans cruelty, oppression, actions intended to degrade or humiliate, and physical, menacing, and threatening assaults.

The US War Crimes Act prohibits grave Geneva breaches.

Geneva's Common Article III prohibits "violence to life and person, in particular murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture (as well as) outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment."

It doesn't matter. Torture remains official US policy. Medical professionals are criminally involved.

The Task Force report is based on two years research. Its 19 members reviewed public domain records. 

Department of Defense and CIA policies "institutionalized a variety of interventions by military and intelligence agency doctors and psychologists that breach ethical standards to promote well-being and avoid harm." They include:

  • "Involvement in abusive interrogation; consulting on conditions of confinement to increase the disorientation and anxiety of detainees; 

  • Using medical information for interrogation purposes; and 

  • Force-feeding of hunger strikers."

Vital medical care was denied. Healthcare professionals "substantially deviate from ethical standards traditionally applied to civilian medical personnel."

Grave breaches include:

  • "Excus(ing) violations of ethical standards by inappropriately characterizing health professionals engaged in interrogation as 'safety officers;' 

  • Implement(ing) rules that permitted medical and psychological information obtained by health professionals to be used in interrogations; 

  • Requir(ing) physicians and nurses to forgo their independent medical judgment and counseling roles, as well as to force-feed competent detainees engaged in hunger strikes even though this is forbidden by the World Medical Association and the American Medical Association; 

  • Improperly designat(ing) licensed health professionals to use their professional skills to interrogate detainees as military combatants, a status incompatible with licensing; and 

  • Fail(ing) to uphold recommendations by the Army Surgeon General to adopt international standards for medical reporting of abuse against detainees."

CIA Office of Medical Services personnel were criminally involved in approving so-called "enhanced interrogation" methods (aka torture and other forms of abuse).

The Institute on Medicine as a Profession (IMAP) endorsed the Task Force's report. IMAP promotes professionalism in medicine.

It conducts research on past, present and future professionalism roles. It wants it to be relevant to physicians, medical organization leaders, policy analysts, public officials and consumers.

Its president, David Rothman said:

"Putting on a uniform does not and should not abrogate the fundamental principles of medical professionalism."

" 'Do no harm' and 'put patient interest first' must apply to all physicians regardless of where they practice."

Task Force members say US agencies continue "follow(ing) policies that undermine standards of professional conduct."

They do so with regard to interrogations, hunger strikes, and reporting abuse. Ethical breaches include:

  • "issuing protocols requiring doctors and nurses to participate in the force-feeding of detainees, including forced extensive bodily restraints for up to two hours twice a day;

  • enabling interrogators access to medical and psychological information about detainees for exploitation by interrogators; and

  • permitting clinical care for detainees to suffer from the inability or failure of clinicians to address causes of detainee distress from torture."

Task Force member Leonard Rubenstein is a Johns Hopkins School of Public Health Center for Human Rights and Berman Institute of Bioethics legal scholar.

"Abuse of detainees, and health professional participation in this practice, is not behind us as a country," he said.

"Force-feeding by physicians in violation of ethical standards is illustrative of a much broader legacy in which medical professionalism has been undermined."

Task Force members urge current unethical practices be fully and independently investigated. 

They call for establishing codes of conduct complying fully with proper medical and psychological practices.

They want what they're not likely to get. It bears repeating. Torture is official US policy. 

Guantanamo is the tip of the iceberg. America maintains torture prison black sites. It does so globally. Abusive practices continue out of sight and mind.

Washington is by far the world's leading human rights abuser. It's unaccountable. Media scoundrels ignore it.

America gets away with the worst kinds of cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment. Obama exceeds the worst of George Bush. 

He bears full responsibility for unspeakable crimes against humanity. They continue out-of-control on his watch.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

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