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Traditional Values: Obama Backs Oligarchic ‘Continuity’ Down South

"In [the country] right now there is a military-business regime, with a little bit of democratic makeup." This sounds like an excellent — indeed, near-perfect — description of the true state of the United States in these degraded days of ours. While the sinister comic opera of factional in-fighting amongst the elite provides an increasingly thin and cracked patina of democracy, the militarist-corporatist machines continue their ravenous devouring of the fat of the land and the flesh of the weak. But, as it happens, the quote comes not from an observer of the American scene, but from a Honduran activist

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Extreme Measures: Arming the Zealotocracy, Serving the Elite

One of the most significant developments in the modern world — history may find it to be a decisive one — has been the deliberate cultivation of religious extremism by ruling elites trying to sustain and expand their power. The rise of virulent extremism in almost every major religion — Islam, Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism — has many other causes, of course. Chief among these is the turbulent encounter between modernity and tradition, a confrontation that has played out — and is playing out — in so many different ways both within and across various cultures. Modernity encompasses not only the

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Termination Notice: McChrystal Sideshow Masks Murderous Reality

(UPDATED) (UPDATED AGAIN) Some people seem to think that the question of which uniformed goober is in charge of the imperial bloodbath in Afghanistan is a vitally important issue, worthy of endless exegesis. It is not. It is a meaningless sideshow. What does matter, vitally, deeply, urgently, is the imperial bloodbath itself, and the fact that it will go on, and on, no matter what Barack Obama does or doesn’t do about Stanley McChrystal. [*Now we know what Barry did about Stanley. See update below.] What really matters is this: Ten civilians, including at least five women and children, were

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Occupational Hazards: Praise the Warlord and Pass the Ammunition

(UPDATED BELOW) High comedy from the Gray Lady: American taxpayers have inadvertently created a network of warlords across Afghanistan who are making millions of dollars escorting NATO convoys and operating outside the control of either the Afghan government or the American and NATO militaries, according to the results of a Congressional investigation released Monday. “Inadvertently!” Really, what yocks! Coincidentally, I am currently reading a new edition of Norman Stone’s 1964 book, The Honoured Society, dealing with the great “surge” of Mafia power in Sicily in the post-WWII years. Stone, who was in Sicily at the time, tells an interesting story

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Only Connect: Searing Insights From Arthur Silber

As I’ve said here many times before, no one that I know writing today is making the kinds of profound connections that Arthur Silber makes, year after year: drawing out the deeper implications of the operations of power on every level of our lives, from the global scope of high politics to the still, dark night of the individual psyche. His latest post is a masterpiece of his insightful art. He uncovers the (literally) deadly dynamic by which the ruling elites not only enforce their ravenous and ravaging will — but also how they make their victims "become collaborators in

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Sincerely Yours: Another Legal Triumph for the Obama-Yoo Administration

James Bovard at points out one of the more egregiously sick-making of the many atrocious “arguments” employed by Barack Obama in his successful effort to block the efforts of Maher Arar to seek justice for his unjust rendition and proxy torture in the Great War of Global Terror. Obama bade his legal henchmen — his own personal John Yoos, as it were — to tell the Supreme Court that it should kill the Canadian citizen’s case seeking compensation for his unlawful arrest by U.S. officials, who then rendered him not unto Caesar but to the untender mercies of Syria’s

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Trillion-Dollar Bash: Mineral Find Means More Blood Money in Afghan War

The New York Times reports on the discovery by American geologists that Afghanistan contains "vast riches" in untapped mineral deposits: at least $1 trillion worth — including huge troves of lithium, "a key raw material in the manufacture of batteries for laptops and BlackBerrys," as the paper breathlessly relates. Unfortunately, given the realities of our world, one’s first reaction to such news is not a cheery "How nice for the Afghan people!" but rather a heart-sinking, dread-clammy "Uh oh." For what this discovery almost certainly portends are many more decades of war, warlordism and foreign intervention, as the forces of

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Short Bursts on a Long Road to Nowhere

Welcome to Wal-Mart! Just a reminder: this is what our ease and comfort are based on — someone doing work like this: From the Guardian: A worker prepares a cotton gin in Mumbai. India is the second largest exporter of the fibre after China, the recipient of around 60% of India’s cotton exports. A Worker Writes Roy Mayall spotlights the ever-growing inequalities in our best of all possible worlds — disparities that will only grow vastly greater as the world’s elites stoke bogus deficit panics to "justify" their shredding of the last remaining tiny mitigations against their brute power. From

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Echoes of Mengele: Medical Experiments, Torture and Continuity in the American Gulag

  This is the language of power – unfiltered, unadorned, dispassionate, professional – discussing how best to inflict tortures on helpless captives without causing "long-term" damage that might be visible later: But as we understand the experience involving the combination of various techniques, the OMS medical and psychological personnel have not observed any such increase in susceptibility. Other than the waterboard, the specific techniques under consideration in this memorandum— including sleep deprivation—have been applied to more than 25 detainees.… No apparent increase in susceptibility to severe pain has been observed either when techniques are used sequentially or when they are

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War on the World: Obama’s Surge in State Terror

Most sentient beings have long recognized that murdering civilians in foreign countries — especially through the cowardly methods of "secret war" — is entirely counterproductive … if your actual aim is to enhance America’s national security by reducing violent extremism and hatred for the United States, that is. However, if your aim is to perpetuate and expand a militarist empire and the bloated, brutal, corrupt, war-profiteering system that supports it, why then, secret war and civilian slaughter are perfectly logical and remarkably effective methods. And that is why our highly intelligent and cool, pragmatic president is now vastly expanding the

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