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Life After Death: Tolstoy’s Eternal Turbulence

Here’s yet another example of the shocking degradation of journalistic standards in the New York Times; they publish letters from witless cranks like the goober below: Tolstoy Still Makes Trouble Published: January 9, 2011 To the Editor:It is marvelous to see how Leo Tolstoy continues to have a disturbing effect on the power structures of church and state (“For Tolstoy and Russia, Still No Happy Ending,” front page, Jan. 4). This has always been the case, from czardom through Communism and now in Russia’s “managed democracy.” For example, despite its promotion of his novels, the Soviet regime repressed vast swaths

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Silent Surge: A Shocking Act of Political Violence

Americans showed their remarkable collective wisdom once again last week, when a shocking act of violence was met with a steady calm across the political spectrum. Indeed, it seemed the entire country was united in a steadfast effort to downplay any disturbing implications of the despicable act and to keep doggedly to business as usual. We speak of course of Barack Obama’s latest “surge” in Afghanistan: his third such escalation of the murderous militarist misadventure in that ravaged land, now heading toward its 10th year of American occupation. Yes, while everyone — including our leading progressives — were occupied first

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Mondo Inferno: The Endless Echoes of America’s WMD Atrocity

For years, I have been writing about the American use of chemical weapons in the savage assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in late 2004. The results of this deployment of WMD began emerging a few months later. The clear evidence of chemical weapons damage among the civilians of the city — uncovered by Iraqi doctors working for the American-backed government — was scorned and dismissed at that time, including by many stalwart anti-war voices, apparently frightened that such “extremist” charges would somehow detract from their own “reasonable” opposition — perhaps even cost them their perches in the mainstream

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A Wise Man Bearing Gifts

One of our leading wise men, William Blum, bears no frankincense or myrrh this holiday, but instead brings his usual penetrating insights, informed by decades of observation — and courageous resistance — to the depredations of the American Empire. Check out his archive of reports — and much more — at his website, Here’s an excerpt from his latest. But don’t cheat yourself; go read the whole thing. December 16 … I’m standing in the snow in front of the White House … Standing with Veterans for Peace … I’m only a veteran of standing in front of the

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Obama’s Selective Outrage: Rage Against Russia, Silence at Indian Injustice

The sham trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky in Russia is rightly being protested by those who have a right to do so: Russians in Russia, where more than a thousand people braved the batons of Kremlin storm-troopers to decry the travesty of justice in his recent conviction on more trumped-up charges. You do not have to warm to Khodorkovsky himself, a former oil oligarch who fell out with the power structure that enriched him, in order to denounce the thuggish authoritarianism that his persecution represents. I have courageous friends among those standing up in public against this injustice, putting their own

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Indecent Burial: Rescuing History From Empire’s Eraser

One of the most important books published in 2010 — or indeed, in this century —  was Invisible War: The United States and the Iraq Sanctions. As I noted here a few months ago, Professor Joy Gordon’s “detailed, richly sourced and morally horrifying account of the sanctions era must be read to be believed. However bad you thought it was, the reality was much worse.” The latter statement is one of the key elements of the book’s importance. Even if you are one of the very few who have made yourself aware of the reality of this vast crime against

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Written on the Body: The Progressive Torture of Bradley Manning

Tonight, in the tenth year of the 21st century, the government of the United States is torturing a young man — one of its own soldiers — whom it has incarcerated but not indicted. He has been held in solitary confinement for months on end, subjected to techniques of sleep deprivation taken from the Soviet gulag, denied almost all human contact except from interrogators, constantly harassed by guards to whom he must answer every few minutes — all in an attempt to break his mind, destroy his will, degrade his humanity and force him to “confess” to a broader “conspiracy”

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Merry Christmas From Where We Are

  Some lines, with vaguely seasonal connections: Presnensky Val(The Year 1905 Station, Moscow) I have in mind a silver cross,Suspended from a slender neck;Body-warmed through winter cloth,It whispers on a field of black.                       *The monument to failed revoltIs hung with colored Christmas lights;The brandished weapons, giant bronzeAbsorbed into the festive rites. But turn the corner, and it’s quiet,A fever broken, turmoil passed —A shrouded stillness, like a handLaid shyly on a lover’s chest. Bare trees, gray snow, blue moonlit steam,Steel rails in stone: I pace a song,Some half-remembered thing re-grownIn the garden of this silence.              *I

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“Bethink Yourselves!”: An Ancient Voice Raised Against Modern Evil

More than a century ago, an aging man, staring his own death in the face, spoke the truth of our times: Again war. Again sufferings, necessary to nobody, utterly uncalled for. Again fraud, again the universal stupefaction and brutalization of men. Men who are separated from each other by thousands of miles … are seeking out one another, in order to kill, torture, and mutilate each other in the cruelest way possible. What can this be? Is it a dream or a reality? Something is taking place which should not, cannot be; one longs to believe that it is a

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