stuartbramhall:

 

 

Hundreds of European volunteers join separatists in fighting Kiev troops in Eastern Ukraine. Clear parallels here with the international brigades that poured into Spain during the Spanish civil war. The goal then – as now – was to stop a fascist takeover.

Originally posted on 2012: What's the 'real' truth?:

Published time: August 30, 2014 11:02

http://youtu.be/YQFztkaOOII

European volunteers are streaming into Ukraine to join the fighting on both sides. While Kiev’s forces are beefed up with mercenaries from private military companies, Europeans have also come to defend the rebel Donbass region of their own free will.

One of the latest reinforcements of anti-Kiev troops in Eastern Ukraine are four French ex-serviceman who have come to fight this war, thousands of kilometers from home.

“It’s our war. It’s everybody’s war, it’s every European’s war,” Guillaume, a French fighter in Ukraine defending the Donbass region, told RT’s Paula Slier.

French fighter Guillaume. Screenshot from RT video

French fighter Guillaume. Screenshot from RT video

Another volunteer, 25-year-old Nikola, used to be a professional soldier with the elite French mountain troops for five years. Now he’s putting his skills to good use in Ukraine. Alongside a contingent of other foreign volunteers, he’s training anti-Kiev forces in urban guerilla warfare.

“These…

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unstoppable-large

  Unstoppable: The Emerging Left-Right Alliance to Dismantle the Corporate State.

Ralph Nader (2014)

Book Review

A long time consumer advocate, Nader has spent most of his career battling the corporate takeover of government and US society. Although most analysts place him to the left of the Democratic Party, he frequently allies himself with libertarians and populist conservatives in specific campaigns. He now maintains the only way to restore accountable Constitutional government is by forming what he calls right-left convergences.

Traditional Labels Meaningless

Nader begins by defining “right” and “left,” as both have ceased to have any real meaning. He devotes an entire chapter to dispelling the common myths people from opposite ends of the political spectrum have about each other. He begins by discussing the philosophical architects responsible for the basic principles that underpin conservatism and libertarianism, with special emphasis on Adam Smith, Ludvig Van Mises, Frank Meyer, Russell Kirk and Peter Viereck. He goes on to trace links between contemporary conservatism and the 19th century populist movement in which farmers fought big banks and big railroads. This movement, commonly referred to as the “populist” or “decentralist” movement, would eventually evolve into Goldwater and Reagan conservatism. Nader maintains that many contemporary Republicans who call themselves “conservative” are really corporatists or corporate statists – working primarily for the benefit of the corporations who put them into office.

The US Left represents too many different tendencies – liberals, progressives, socialist, anarchists – to agree on a single overarching political philosophy.

Although Nader doesn’t mention it, many prominent figures identified with the so-called Non-Communist Left have been discredited by accepting major funding from CIA pass-through foundations.1

Issues Ripe for Collaboration and Potential Obstacles

Nader identifies 25 potential issues that are ripe for collaboration between existing left and right-leaning movements (see below).2

He feels the biggest potential obstacle to potential is the knee-jerk ideological reaction of major party activists. It’s often hard to move Democratic Party loyalists past the tired knee-jerk reaction that conservatives are too narrow-minded, dogmatic and self-interested to be worthwhile coalition partners. Meanwhile many conservatives have the mistaken belief that all leftists are covert socialists who are only interested in big government, more welfare spending, more business regulation, more debt and and higher taxes.

Nader bemoans the tendency of ideologues from both ends of the political spectrum to get so focused in dogma and abstractions that they can’t lose sight of the constitutional crisis in front of them.

This is partly why left-right convergences tend to me more effective at the local level, where people are already shoulder-to-shoulder confronting the practicalities they face everyday. This is certainly consistent with what Susan Clark and Woden Teachout describe in Slow Democracy, their book on local direct democracy. It also reflects the the experience of the Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund (CELDF), which unites activists across the political spectrum in outlawing fracking, toxic sludge, factory farms and water bottling plants.

Examples of Successful Left-Right Collaboration

Unstoppable goes on to provide numerous examples of high profile right-left alignments in Congress (see below). 3

The main value of the book, in my view, is to remind us of the political power of strange bedfellow alliances and to discourage knee-jerk reactions to collaborating with people of different ideological persuasions. Since Unstoppable went to print, a left-right congressional convergence prevented Obama from going to war against Syria, and left-right convergences in Washington and Oregon passed ballot initiatives legalizing marijuana.


1Frances Stonor Saunders discusses this at length in her 1999 book Who Paid the Piper? The CIA and the Cultural Cold War.

2Personally, I think Nader’s list is too long. I myself would prioritize 6, 12, 14 and 22, as I already see evidence of left-right collaboration on these specific issues:

  1. Requiring annual auditing of the defense budget and that ALL government budgets (including the CIA and NSA) be disclosed.
  2. Ending corporate welfare and bailouts.
  3. Promoting efficiency in government contracting and government spending.
  4. Adjusting the minimum wage to inflation.
  5. Introducing specific tax reform as well as pushing to regain uncollected taxes.
  6. Breaking up the “Too Big to Fail” banks.
  7. Expanding contributions to charity, using these funds to increase jobs and draw on available “dead money” (i.e. recycle wealth from millionaires and billionaires).
  8. Legislating to allow taxpayers the standing to sue all government and “immune” corporations.
  9. Expanding direct democracy by introducing ballot initiatives in the states that don’t have them and simplifying recall processes.
  10. Pushing community self-reliance.
  11. Clearing away obstacles to a competitive electoral process.
  12. Restoring civil liberties.
  13. Enhance civic skills and experience for students.
  14. Ending unconstitutional wars and enforcing Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution, which gives Congress the exclusive authority to declare war.
  15. Revising trade agreements to protect US sovereignty and ending fast track approval for treaties.
  16. Protecting children from commericialism and the physical and mental harm it causes.
  17. Ending corporate personhood.
  18. Controlling more of the commons than we already own.
  19. Getting tough on corporate crime.
  20. Ramping up investor power by strengthening investor-protection laws.
  21. Opposing the patenting of life forms.
  22. Ending the ineffective war on drugs.
  23. Pushing for environmentalism.
  24. Reforming health care.
  25. Creating convergent institutions.

3 Among many others:
• The left-right coalition that stopped the Clinch River Breeder Reactor in 1983
• The left-right coalition that passed the False Claims Amendment Act in 1986 to protect whistleblowers who uncovered fraud in government contracts. The passage of the McCain (R)–Feingold (D) Act to reform campaign financing in 2003.
• The left-right coalition Ron Paul formed with sympathetic Democrats to introduce a bill to legalize industrial hemp in 2005.
• The bill Ron Wyden (D) and Rand Paul (R) introduced to legalize industrial hemp in 2013.
• The bill Ron Wyden (D) and Lisa Murkowski introducing requiring the reporting of donations over $1,000 to any group engaged in federal political activity.

 

tilikum

Classic PTSD in an orca (killer whale)

Blackfish
Gabriela Cowperthwaite (2013)

Film Review

Blackfish is a psychological study of a 33 year old orca whale who performs at SeaWorld in Orlando, Florida.

Despite their fearsome nickname (“killer whales”), orcas don’t eat people. They have diverse diets, with individual populations preferring fish, marine mammals and even other whale species.

In the wild they have a reputation for approaching human beings with friendliness and curiosity. Even in captivity, their demeanor towards their trainers is generally docile and friendly.

Over the course of 20 years, Tilikum has killed three people, two trainers and a member of the public who sneaked into his pen after hours. As Blackfish documents, this is on top of several near death incidents in which trainers were seriously injured. Viewers will be particularly impressed that the murders were premeditated. Tilikum exhibits clear planning and malicious cunning in all of his attacks. If he were human, he would be charged with first degree murder.

The film offers an accurate and convincing account of the severe psychological trauma Tilikum and other orcas endure in captivity, where their lifespan is foreshortened by 75 years. The film combines testimonials from whale hunters and researchers, OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Agency) experts and lawyers and SeaWorld executives to give a glimpse of the close net clan groupings orcas form in the wild and the severe trauma they experience when they are captured to perform at SeaWorld.

There are three particularly heart wrenching scenes where SeaWorld management forcibly separates orca mothers from their calves – against the advice of their trainers.

I have always strongly suspected orcas were more intelligent than human beings. Based on the events described in this documentary, they are clearly more intelligent than the people who run SeaWorld.

OSHA’s successful prosecution of SeaWorld in 2011 resulted in a $75,000 fine and a ruling requiring SeaWorld to install physical barriers between orcas and their trainers. Unbelievably SeaWorld appealed the ruling, fearing their ticket take would suffer if trainers ceased to interact with the orcas in the water.

In April 2014, the Court of Appeals upheld the OSHA ban.

At present, there is an international campaign to pressure SeaWorld to allow Tilikum to participate in a stepwise ocean release program. You can sign the petition here: http://www.freetillynow.org/

 

stuartbramhall:

 

 

How the US government is running fake twitter accounts (through troll bots) to sway popular opinion against Michael Brown and #Ferguson. I guess they’re trying to counteract the effect of the “black twitter” hashtag protest over Brown’s shooting. See how blacktwitter made michael brown’s death front_page_news

Originally posted on The MadMan Chronicles:

in today’s “GTFOHWTBS news…

Our loyal MadMan Libba brought this to our attention.. no preamble… just watch and decide for yourself.  Thanks Libba!

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stuartbramhall:

 

 

Russian sanctions are destroying European agriculture.

Russia-trade-ban-430x306

Originally posted on Amanah Satu - Malaysia:

Capitalist Exploits

By: Chris Tell

Picture this scenario. A brother and sister squabbling with one another. Something’s gone wrong, they’re blaming each other, fighting, and generally at each other’s throats. Along comes the boy from next door who pokes fun at one of them and starts pestering them. Brother and sister rapidly put aside their differences, join forces and deal with the boy from next door.

The saying, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend” has played itself out many times throughout  history and, while geo-political relationships may not be as close as siblings, the forming of alliances and the repercussions from having joint enemies can be profound.

During the second World War Stalin realized that he needed the Allies to defeat a Nazi invasion, and in turn the Allies realized that the Soviets were necessary for the war effort. In any other scenario the Allies would have been…

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ASSATA

Posted: August 27, 2014 in Uncategorized

stuartbramhall:

 

 

A primer of racism in Amerika.

Originally posted on Libya 360°:

By Les Blough
Axis of Logic
August 26, 2014

“It didn’t matter what position you took, it mattered that people related to those positions, that people understood what you were saying, that people supported you…. The government perceived us as a threat because they understood that we were serious, they understood we were serious and they understood also that we were becoming a more sophisticated opposition.” –Assata Shakur

Writing an adequate review of Assata Shakur’s autobiography that captures the essence of this woman and her history is no easy task. The story of her life beginning in early childhood to her life and work as a leading Black Revolutionary in the US to the present day is so packed and refined with fascinating, frightening and fire-eating details that one is only left to select from the gold for there is no dross to exclude. This review contains some of the…

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Consuming Kids: the Commercialization of Childhood

Adriana Barbaro & Jeremy Earp 2008

Film Review

The Commercialization of Childhood is about the constant, insidious targeting of American children with corporate marketing.

The US is the only country in the industrialized world that refuses to regulate children’s advertising. In 1984 the Reagan administration stripped the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of any ability to regulate any children’s advertising or programming. Starting from age three or earlier, American children are bombarded with an average of 3,000 commercial messages a day. Because children under twelve lack the critical faculties to recognize deception, this constant bombardment with pro-consumption messaging has a profoundly negative impact on their psychological development and physical health.

The Nag Factor

Most child marketing is centered around what public relations specialists call the “nag factor” – children’s ability to make their parents miserable if they don’t buy them want they want. In addition to the $40 billion kids themselves spend every year, they also influence their parents’ spending to the tune of $700 billion a year. It’s often children who determine where families spend their holidays and what kind of car, computer and cellphone aps they buy.

Children’s advertising is no longer limited to TV ads and cereal boxes but intentionally pervades every area of their lives. Many contemporary children’s programs are deliberately centered around branded products, such as Sponge Bob Square Pants and Teenage Ninja Turtles. Marketers then play on children’s identification with these toys to get their parents to buy them Sponge Bob and Teenage Ninja Turtles video games, lunch boxes, tee shirts, cookies, crackers and even macaroni and cheese.

Meanwhile financially strapped schools make extra money by displaying brand logos in hallways and auditoriums and on sports fields. Many get free computers and satellite dishes by playing Channel One informercials at the beginning of the school day.

Child Marketers are Like Pedophiles

One of the psychologists interviewed compares child marketers to pedophiles. In addition to maximizing the nag factor, children’s marketing deliberately taps into powerful developmental needs. Public relations specialists spend hundreds of hours filming children’s in supermarkets, at school and even in the bathtub. As well as organizing special focus group slumber parties to expose them to new products, they get them to join fake online social media groups. Here they can earn money and free products by providing personal information about their friends. In most cases, these activities take place without the parents’ knowledge.

This continual bombardment with corporate messaging is leading to a total remodeling of children’s psyche. One particularly alarming example is the sexualization of young girls via “tween” marketing. This is designed to heavily promotes short skirts, skimpy tops and sexy make-up and hair products to 6-12 twelve year olds. After years of this insidious brainwashing, western society is left with a staggering number of young women who think they only have worth if they’re pretty and thin and wear designer clothes. As well as an alarming increasing in anorexia nervosa, which is often fatal.

Meanwhile enticing ads for junk food and soft drinks is responsible for an epidemic of obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure and strokes – conditions that were once extremely rare in childhood.