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marmar

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Member since: Thu Oct 28, 2004, 11:18 PM
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Robert Scheer: The Super Bowl of War: Three Decades of Failure in Afghanistan


from truthdig:


The Super Bowl of War: Three Decades of Failure in Afghanistan

Posted on Feb 3, 2014
By Robert Scheer


A Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl, that annual celebration of violence as sport, featured a most joyous homecoming for a U.S. veteran of the Afghan War. It was a fitting tribute to the fact that he survived, but you would have to be drunk on Bud not to notice that the three decades since the United States first meddled in Afghanistan have been an unequivocal disaster and that those who did not survive—NATO combatants and far larger number of Afghan natives—died in vain.

This was a point made clearly but largely unnoticed on that day of obligatory patriotic flag waving in an interview with Hamid Karzai, the U.S. anointed leader of Afghanistan, who told British newspaper The Sunday Times of London that “I saw no good” resulting from yet another American adventure in imperial democracy:

“This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people,” Karzai stated, continuing his denunciation of the terror of anti-terrorism exemplified by Bush’s orgy of torture followed by Obama’s drone attacks that traumatize the Afghan countryside. Karzai, no stranger to corruption and contradiction, has refused to sign a pact authorizing a continued and much reduced U.S. presence in his country unless all such unilateral military attacks on his people are ended. As for the Taliban enemy that the U.S. invasion had temporarily deposed, Karzai referred to them as “brothers” while he dismissed his erstwhile American sponsors as “rivals,” indicating that Obama now has his own “mission accomplished” embarrassment.

Maybe that dismal outcome of the Obama-ordered surge, comparable to the ultimate failure of Bush’s in Iraq, is why Karzai observed that he and Obama have not spoken directly since June. For the Democratic hawks, Afghanistan was going to be the good war, but Obama has learned, as did then-President Jimmy Carter more than 30 years ago, that the Afghans are not to be toyed with. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_super_bowl_of_war_three_decades_of_failure_in_afghanistan_20140203




Robert Scheer: The Super Bowl of War: Three Decades of Failure in Afghanistan


from truthdig:


The Super Bowl of War: Three Decades of Failure in Afghanistan

Posted on Feb 3, 2014
By Robert Scheer


A Budweiser commercial during the Super Bowl, that annual celebration of violence as sport, featured a most joyous homecoming for a U.S. veteran of the Afghan War. It was a fitting tribute to the fact that he survived, but you would have to be drunk on Bud not to notice that the three decades since the United States first meddled in Afghanistan have been an unequivocal disaster and that those who did not survive—NATO combatants and far larger number of Afghan natives—died in vain.

This was a point made clearly but largely unnoticed on that day of obligatory patriotic flag waving in an interview with Hamid Karzai, the U.S. anointed leader of Afghanistan, who told British newspaper The Sunday Times of London that “I saw no good” resulting from yet another American adventure in imperial democracy:

“This whole 12 years was one of constant pleading with America to treat the lives of our civilians as lives of people,” Karzai stated, continuing his denunciation of the terror of anti-terrorism exemplified by Bush’s orgy of torture followed by Obama’s drone attacks that traumatize the Afghan countryside. Karzai, no stranger to corruption and contradiction, has refused to sign a pact authorizing a continued and much reduced U.S. presence in his country unless all such unilateral military attacks on his people are ended. As for the Taliban enemy that the U.S. invasion had temporarily deposed, Karzai referred to them as “brothers” while he dismissed his erstwhile American sponsors as “rivals,” indicating that Obama now has his own “mission accomplished” embarrassment.

Maybe that dismal outcome of the Obama-ordered surge, comparable to the ultimate failure of Bush’s in Iraq, is why Karzai observed that he and Obama have not spoken directly since June. For the Democratic hawks, Afghanistan was going to be the good war, but Obama has learned, as did then-President Jimmy Carter more than 30 years ago, that the Afghans are not to be toyed with. .......................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/the_super_bowl_of_war_three_decades_of_failure_in_afghanistan_20140203



Finance Is Super Rational About Profits, Irrational About Global Economy


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Finance Is Super Rational About Profits, Irrational About Global Economy


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Juan Cole: Now Peace Talks, John Kerry, are ‘Anti-Semitic’ in Eyes of Israeli Far Right


This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.

The Likud-led Israeli government doesn’t like US Secretary of State John Kerry at all. Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon ridiculed him as “obsessive” and “messianic.” Economy Minister Naftali Bennett earlier this week slammed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu as being under Kerry’s influence, when Netanyahu was said to be considering leaving Israeli squatters on Palestinian land under the authority of the Palestine government in a peace deal leading to Israel relinquishing its current annexation project.

Last week the largest Danish bank divested from Israel’s HaPoalim Bank because the latter funds squatter firms on Palestinian territory, in contravention of international law. This step is the latest in a rash of European moves to divest from Israeli economic enterprises located on Palestinian land in the West Bank and illegally exploiting Palestinian resources. (The 1949 Geneva Convention forbids an Occupying power from flooding its citizens into militarily occupied territory or from altering the lifeways of its people. Also just stealing their stuff is frowned on.) European firms complicit in West Bank Israeli crimes are increasingly exposed to legal action in European courts. Kerry is apparently acting on behalf of some section of American Jewry that is more clear-eyed than rightwing Israelis and sees this writing on the wall, and is trying to save Israel from Apartheid isolation with some version of a two-state solution.

Naftali Bennett is from the small religious Jewish Home Party that is in coalition with the largely secular Netanyahu government. Jewish Home is dead set against returning to pre-1967 borders or allowing the emergence of a Palestinian state, and has been threatening to withdraw from the government if Netanyahu signs a Kerry-brokered peace treaty with the Palestinians.

Now Israeli parliament member Motti Yogev, also from the Jewish Home Party, has attacked Kerry, this time as bigotted against Jews. He said, “Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is acting under Kerry’s obsessive pressure, which may have anti-Semitic undertones . . . Kerry is not here to reach a compromise. He wants to decrease the Jewish presence in the Land of Israel and create a Palestinian state.” .....................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/now_peace_talks_john_kerry_are_anti-semitic_israeli_far_right_20140203



Why Dutch mayors want to cultivate cannabis


(Independent UK) Dutch laws governing marijuana use are so liberal that even the US pop star Miley Cyrus failed to spark too much controversy when she lit a joint on stage in Amsterdam last year.

Now, 35 mayors are urging the government to take it a step further and let them grow cannabis too, as a global shift in favour of legalisation is leaving the once forward-thinking Netherlands lagging behind.

In a manifesto signed last week, the mayors of cities including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht argue that the current laws allowing the sale but banning the cultivation of marijuana mean the nation’s cannabis cafés have to turn to illegal gangs for their supply, encouraging organised crime and wasting valuable police time dismantling unlawful plantations.

Ahmed Aboutaleb, the mayor of Rotterdam, said the coffee shops were having to rely on “murky worlds” and called the current situation “unsustainable”, the public broadcaster RTV reported. If local municipalities were able to grow the drug in a regulated environment, proponents argue, that would cut out the criminal middlemen and generate revenue for the cities. ...........(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/europe/why-dutch-mayors-want-to-cultivate-cannabis-9102858.html



Juan Cole: Christie, Clapper and Other Officials Who Should Be in Jail Instead of Snowden



This post originally ran on Juan Cole’s Web page.


The vindictiveness toward Edward Snowden in official Washington has nothing to do with law-breaking and everything to do with the privileges of power. The powerful in Washington may spy on us, but we are not to know about it. Snowden’s sin in their eyes was to level the playing field, to draw back the curtain and let the public see what the spies were doing to them The United States has become so corrupt that the basic principle of the law applying to all equally has long since became a quaint relic. We are back to a system of aristocratic privilege. If we had a rule of law and not of men, Edward Snowden would be given a medal and the following officials would be on the lam to avoid serious jail time.

1. James Clapper. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, was involved in massive and willful violations of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. He perjured himself before Congress, denying that the NSA was collecting masses of personal material from Americans. President Obama excused Clapper’s behavior on both accounts, saying he should be more careful. A-Rod should have been more careful. Clapper should not have told Congress a bald-faced lie, and shouldn’t have snooped into our metadata to begin with. Showing his fascist colors, he now wants to make journalists “accomplices” for publishing Snowden’s revelations. Clapper himself should be in the slammer, not Snowden.

2. Gen. Keith Alexander, outgoing head of the NSA, should also be in jail. Like Clapper, he violated his oath to uphold the constitution by collecting petabytes of personal data from Americans and storing it for 5 years. He also lied to Congress, about how many terrorist plots had been foiled by these methods (the real number is slim to none). Alexander should be in jail, not Snowden.

.....(snip).....

5. Former Vice President Richard Bruce Cheney (they always refer to felons by their full name) slammed Snowden. But Cheney lied us into a war on false pretenses and tried mightily to out Valerie Plame as a CIA operative (his team left material around that Richard Armitage saw, and it was his contact that broke the story. But Cheney and his staff were the ones actively pushing the story with the press. Cheney should be in jail, not Snowden. .........................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.truthdig.com/report/item/christie_clapper_in_jail_instead_of_snowden_20140201



Dreary Meetings: A Year Inside the NFL


Dreary Meetings: A Year Inside the NFL
By Marc Tracy - February 1, 2014

Collision Low Crossers
A Year Inside the Turbulent World of NFL Football

By Nicholas Dawidoff
Little, Brown, 2012, 496 pp.



At the beginning of the 1963 season, George Plimpton joined the Detroit Lions. The idea was to embed with the players, report what it was like, and then transmit to the rest of the universe the unique experience of being a football athlete. The result was the classic Paper Lion (as the title spoils, Plimpton didn’t make it past training camp). This past fall, fifty seasons later, came Nicholas Dawidoff’s Collision Low Crossers. It’s a report of his year—centered on the 2011 season—embedded with the New York Jets. Like Paper Lion, it will stand as its era’s exemplary document of how the National Football League is consumed. Dawidoff received a truly heroic amount of access to the Jets, especially once you adjust for the hyper-secretive nature of NFL franchises, which guard playbooks as though they’re nuclear suitcases. And he has used it to write a story almost all about the coaches.

The book’s myopic perspective is not all Dawidoff’s fault. He is a creature of his times. The gulf between middle-class readers and players today might be insurmountable. Through the 1970s, most players were normal-sized and clocked in at ordinary jobs during the offseason. Today, most fans who do not come from the same (predominantly poor, predominantly black, disproportionately southern) neighborhoods as the players fail to see any themselves in most of the athletes. It is probably no accident that the popular nickname for Calvin Johnson, the best wide receiver in the league, is Megatron—a robot. (Incidentally, for a good player’s-eye view of the NFL, I recommend the former tight end Nate Jackson’s memoir, Slow Getting Up, also published last year.)

Fans’ approach to the players has changed the way they view and consume the sport itself. Early in Collision Low Crossers, a coach compares players “in their helmets and pads to armored knights on horses—‘You knew there was somebody in there but you didn’t know who the hell it was!’” The metaphor is especially telling. Football is an endeavor in which the players have one code of honor to uphold among themselves, but the spectators just want a triumphant winner as well as a loser bloodied and knocked off his horse. For this reason, more “sophisticated” fans’ reverence has shifted mainly to the coaches and executives (and to the five or six best, invariably white, drop-back quarterbacks), whose jobs seem much more intelligible to them. They dissect their brilliant and/or stupid decisions to go for it on fourth down; they analyze the decisions to be made in the annual draft; they ponder the respective advantages of the 4-3 and 3-4 defenses. This sort of thing can be fun, but it is a strikingly dispassionate way to root, root, root for the home team. To paraphrase Susan Sontag, perhaps we need an erotics rather than a hermeneutics of football. (Then again, given that the fundamental unit of football is one extremely oversized man pummeling another, an erotics may be the last thing football needs.)

Either way, Dawidoff is as guilty as the rest of us. He has composed history from the top down. The Jets’ upset victory over the New England Patriots in the playoffs three years ago, he tells us, was mainly the coaches’ doing: “they’d forged an intricate mousetrap for Tom Brady.” The players barely exist until training camp begins, nearly 200 pages in. Dawidoff writes frankly about the coaches’ spring boredom due to an owner-initiated labor lockout that forbade the coaches from contacting their players. But when he writes, “The lockout wore on everyone,” it is impossible to believe him, because there is every indication that at the time he had as much contact with Jets players as the coaches did. “On the one hand, the players were actual people the coaches guided, taught, and came to know and care about,” Dawidoff reports. “On the other,” he continues, “the players were abstractions, works perpetually in progress for the coaches to edit, improve, even transform.” Any reader of Collision Low Crossers will see that Dawidoff primarily sees the players this second way. ................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.dissentmagazine.org/online_articles/the-players-were-abstractions-a-year-inside-the-nfl



Professor Michael Mann: Approving Keystone XL could be the biggest mistake of Obama's presidency


Approving Keystone XL could be the biggest mistake of Obama's presidency
A State Department report fails to take into account the full climate impacts of Keystone XL. Who is Obama protecting?

Michael Mann
theguardian.com, Friday 31 January 2014


I have made my position on the Keystone XL pipeline quite clear. Approving this hotly debated pipeline would send America down the wrong path. The science tells us now is the time that we should be throwing everything we have into creating a clean 21st century energy economy, not doubling down on the dirty energy that is imperiling our planet.

Now that the State Department has just released a final environmental impact report on Keystone XL, which appears to downplay the threat, and greatly increases the odds that the Obama administration will approve the project, I feel I must weigh in once again.

The simple fact is this: if Keystone XL is built, it will be easier to exploit fossil fuel reserves large enough to drastically destabilize the climate. A direct pipeline to refineries and global markets makes the business of polluting the atmosphere that much cheaper and easier.

The only truly accurate examination of the pipeline would include a full cost accounting its environmental footprint. It needs to take into account how much energy is consumed in refining and transporting the crude from oil sands. It must acknowledge that the pipeline would lower the cost and raise the convenience of extracting and exporting the incredibly carbon-intensive deposits of oil. ...................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2014/jan/31/keystone-xl-pipeline-obama-state-department-impact



UN says more than 733 Iraqis killed in January


The United Nations said Saturday that at least 733 Iraqis were killed during violence in January, even when leaving out casualties from an embattled western province.

The figures issued Saturday by the U.N.'s mission to Iraq show 618 civilians and 115 members of the security forces were killed in January. But the UNAMI statement excluded deaths from ongoing fighting in Anbar, due to problems in verifying the "status of those killed." The figures also leave out insurgent deaths.

Also, the U.N. said at least 1,229 Iraqis were wounded in attacks across the country last month.

Baghdad was the worst affected province, with 297 killed and 585 wounded. .................(more)

The complete piece is at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/feedarticle/11177384



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