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Dark Glass: Hateful Echoes and Hidden Costs

(UPDATED BELOW) I. Seventy-one years ago, almost to the very day, a member of a religious minority fatally shot a government official – an act by a troubled individual that was seized upon by hateful minds to set off an orgy of blood and destruction against his co-religionists. While the Ft. Hood shootings will not spark a rerun of Kristallnacht – the anti-semitic pogrom launched by the Nazis after 17-year-old Herschel Grynszpan shot German diplomat Ernst Vom Rath in Paris on Nov. 7, 1938, in retaliation for Nazi depradations against the Jews – the upswelling of racial, ethnic and religious

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Stone Walls and Steel Bars: America’s War on its Own Keeps Raging

The cruel and unusual punitiveness of American society is a frequent topic on these page. (The most recent piece is here.) No nation on earth puts as many of its people in jail — both in real numbers and as a percentage of the population. And few if any have "justice" systems so savagely targeted at racial minorities. For the past 30 years — concurrent with the organized effort by the monied, militarized elite to destroy any and all restraints on their predatory appetites — the United States has waged an unrelenting war on its black population, and on other

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The Inhuman Stain: Saying Yes to State Terror

I’ve been writing about the case of Maher Arar since December 2003. He is the innocent Canadian man who was seized by U.S officials on his way back to Canada and then, at the order of the Justice Department, "renditioned" to Syria, where it was known that the authorities would torture the alleged "terrorist." They did, brutally. He was finally released, and his innocence was confirmed by the Canadian government, which paid him some $9 million for its part in his ordeal. – The United States, on the other hand, made no apologies, no restitution; instead, the government has resolutely

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The Violent Bear it Away

Arthur Silber writes of the gang-rape case in Richmond, California. You are unlikely to find such passion, eloquence and meaning in any other story about this case, and its implications. I won’t excerpt Silber’s essay here, because I think you should read the entire piece. I will only print his conclusion: But, many people will say, this is monstrous. We must teach these children that such behavior is deeply wrong, and that they must change. To all such people, I reply: Then change yourselves. Change your values, and change the way you think and act. Children will see those changes,

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Let them talk, those cold theologians

Today’s guest blogger is Vincent Van Gogh. To be good – many people think that they’ll achieve it by doing no harm – and that’s a lie, and you said yourself in the past that it was a lie. That leads to stagnation, to mediocrity. Just slap something on it when you see a blank canvas staring at you with a sort of imbecility. You don’t know how paralysing it is, that stare from a blank canvas that says to the painter you can’t do anything. The canvas has an idiotic stare, and mesmerises some painters so that they turn

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Annals of Continuity: The Bush Regime’s Arbitrary Power Over Life and Liberty Still in Force — and Still in Use

Ted Rall takes up a theme I’ve been sounding here (and elsewhere) since November 2001: The president of the United States now claims the right and power to arbitrarily designate anyone on earth an "enemy" and have them seized without charges, held indefinitely without trial — or simply killed outright. As we’ve often reported here, George W. Bush asserted these dread powers by executive order — and as Rall notes, Barack Obama has not only not rescinded them, he has made energetic use of them, particularly in his death-by-drone assassination program in Pakistan. As Rall notes: Simply put, no one

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Depraved Indifference: Drone Wars, Whack Jobs and Imperial Terror

 I have often admired Jane Mayer’s reportage. She has helped expose several elements of "the dark side" of America’s worldwide Terror War. Her latest article in the New Yorker outlines the CIA’s use of "Predator" drones to kill people by remote control in Pakistan. As the magazine notes, the Obama Administration is relying on these covert drone killers more and more, as it escalates America’s military attacks in Pakistan — ostensibly a sovereign nation allied to the United States. Mayer’s article relates a chilling story of suburban killers — many of them stateside, firing their missiles from comfortable cubicles before

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Report From the Forgotten Front

How’s that “extraordinary achievement” of “the surge” going over in Iraq? Iraqi academic Sami Ramadani — who fled persecution by Saddam’s regime and also opposed the America war of aggression against his country — has this report, in the wake of the latest round of carnage in the civil war set off by the American invasion: There is no doubt that the situation has improved for US forces, while British troops were airlifted from the fires of Iraq to be thrown into the flames of Afghanistan. The US plan for Iraq has so far succeeded in reducing its own casualties

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Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs: An Emotional Response

Recently, I wrote of “the ‘counterinsurgency doctrine’ so beloved by the Pentagon and eagerly embraced by Barack Obama.” A reader took me to task for this inflammatory remark, saying: That ‘eagerly embraced’ statement is certainly hard to square with the Pentagon’s annoyance and Cheney’s charge of dithering.  Its inaccuracy suggests either deliberate inaccuracy or judgment clouded by emotion, but either way it isn’t good. To which, this brief reply: I realize that historical memory has always been a rare commodity in the United States, but one shudders to see that the onset of this chronic amnesia is now down to

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Debased Coinage: Centuries of Counterinsurgency – Past and Future

A few quick takes on the Long, Long War of Empire.  COIN Machine Out of Change Nick Turse examines the effectiveness of the "counterinsurgency doctrine" so beloved by the Pentagon and eagerly embraced by Barack Obama. Turse begins with the stellar success of American COIN operations in the Philippines – still going strong after more than 100 years. It certainly bodes well for Barack’s big adventure in Bactria and environs, doesn’t it? Pumping (Blood and) Iron Another venerable tradition of our militarist state is "rolling out the product" – i.e., playing the "free press" like a pump organ to sing

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