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11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
WAR WHERE CIVILIAN DEATHS SEEM TOO SMALL A PRICE TO PAY:
Hard Rain Keeps Falling: Talking Peace in Prague, Dropping Bombs in Pakistan
Tuesday, 7 April 2009
"I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it."
-- Bob Dylan
As each passing week of the American drone campaign brings yet another harvest of civilian deaths, more and more Pakistanis are radicalized, and the government – the nuclear-armed government – grows ever more shaky.While the usual gaggle of sycophants and media hive-minders -- along with some ordinarily perspicacious analysts -- tell us that Barack Obama literally changed the course of human history by disgorging a great load of thrice-chewed cud about nuclear disarmament in Prague this week, the high-tech drone war the great hero of peace is waging inside the sovereign territory of America's ally, Pakistan, is helping drive tens of thousands of people from their homes and killing civilians almost daily.
Obama's Prague speech was a bold, creative, world-shaking, epochal address whose full import will only be understood many years hence by future historians, declared no less than Juan Cole. But the good professor seems to have mislaid his laser pointer -- the sharp-focused beam that just a week ago skewered Obama for his outright lies and Cheneyesque manipulations in announcing his "comprehensive strategy" to escalate and expand the "Af-Pak War". Indeed, just two days before Obama's pseudo-epiphany in Prague, Cole was accurately delineating the folly and falsehoods permeating Obama's Afghanistan policies.
Yet like so many, Cole seemed dazzled by Obama's nuclear boilerplate, hailing the president as "among the more creative and bold leaders the world has seen in the past half-century." (Admittedly, that is a mighty low bar.) Cole even found some reason to hope that that Obama would follow the logic of his disarmament rhetoric and somehow force Israel to give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons. But there was nothing in Obama's speech that had not been said dozens if not hundreds of times before by American presidents from both parties, going back decades: We pledge "to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." Nuclear proliferation must be stopped. Rogue states can't have nuclear bombs. We will work with the Russians to reduce our stockpiles. What president has ever said otherwise? Has there ever been a U.S. president since the atomic evisceration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who has not made an impassioned plea to rid the world of these terrible weapons?
And of course, the brute fact is that the United States is bound by solemn treaty to work toward the reduction and eventual elimination of its nuclear arsenal. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obliges the government of the United States "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures" to bring about complete nuclear disarmament in the world. Obama's "bold," "new" vision is, quite simply, part of his job description; or rather, a legal requirement for his office.
But what celebrants dazzled by Obama's assertion that he is "committed" (that great weasel-word of the high and mighty) to doing what he is obligated to do failed to notice -- or at least failed to highlight -- were Obama's other well-worn bromides in the speech: the ones where he makes the ritual declaration of America's continuing readiness to whip out the nukes at a moment's notice -- and to carry on with the decades-long, ever-expanding boondoggle of the "missile defense shield." As The Times reports:
In other words, as long as any other nation has nuclear weapons, the United States will keep its own nukes primed and ready and rarin' to go. And of course, as long as the United States retains its weapons, then other nations will also keep their arsenals, in the never-to-be-discounted event that they might become an "adversary" of the United States or one of its allies. This neat little dynamic means that we will never see "the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons" -- no matter how many world-shaking, epoch-making speeches are delivered in the shadow of Kafka's Castle.
The "missile shield" is of course another spur to nuclear proliferation, as the United States steadily rings the globes with an advanced weapons system that can just as easily be used for offensive operations as for its putative "defense" function. Come to think of it, it is actually only effective as an offensive system, because, despite decades of war pork and rigged tests, the missile "shield" is singularly unable to shoot down incoming missiles. Again, if some nuclear-armed nation was installing such a system on your frontier, you might want to hang on to your own nukes too -- or get some if you didn't have any yet.
Epochal epiphanies and kairotic events should be made of sterner stuff. That old hard rain is still looming on the horizon.
The hard rain of nuclear war remains metaphorical (except for the remaining survivors of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan). But there is another hard rain of death -- death without metaphor, the thing itself -- falling on the villages of Pakistan from the literally faceless, literally soulless remote-control drones of the American military. In undeclared, unsanctioned acts of war, they are sent across the border to fire heavy missiles, usually on undefended villages, and almost always on residential areas.
The targets -- we are told -- are "militants" of various stripes, but of course the robot drones -- often controlled by "pilots" safely ensconced on military bases thousands of miles away, often in the leafy suburbs of the Homeland itself -- cannot climb down out of the sky, walk through the ruins, and identify the dead. Pakistanis on the ground can see the bodies, however; they are the ones pulling out the viscera-smeared corpses of women and children -- and innocent men as well; contrary to the near-universal belief among America's bipartisan Terror Warriors, every adult male of Muslim background is not a terrorist, and their deaths by drone do not automatically constitute a successful "kill" of a militant.
In considering the ramifications of Obama's escalation of the drone war, we understandably tend to focus on the individual attacks themselves: pinpoint, quickly in, quickly out, over and done with. And even if we denounce the inevitable "collateral damage" when a house or group of houses is destroyed, or when the wrong target is struck, the small scale of each individual attack still leaves the impression of a contained, localized phenomenon. But this is a gross distortion of the reality. For the purpose and nature of a terrorist attack is not just the destruction of an immediate target; the point is to engender widespread fear and chaos: Where will the next strike come? When will it come? Who will die next time?
(And make no mistake: a drone assault on an isolated, defenseless village is a quintessential terrorist attack, designed to induce terror, punish the enemy and force change by deadly violence. It is in no way comparable to any traditional notion of honorable combat. It is simply industrialized, corporatized, computerized slaughter.)
So the effects of Obama's drone war are not limited to the few houses destroyed here and there. The attacks have spawned, or greatly added to, a humanitarian catastrophe that remains largely hidden from the world -- and certainly from the well-wadded Western "liberals" who cheer Obama's savvy toughness in the "good war" on the Af-Pak front. As The Times reports, almost a million people have been driven from their homes in Pakistan's Tribal Areas to escape the American drones, and the bombs of Washington's Pakistani proxies:
Much of the worst damage has been done by Pakistani forces urged by their funders in Washington to step up attacks on their countrymen:
In the political schizophrenia induced in a state forced to serve a foreign master's interests as well as its own, the Pakistani government has alternated between savage attacks in Washington's service and sudden truces and peace deals with militant groups. But even when the local bombs stop falling, the American drones keep sailing across the border in ever-increasing numbers, keeping the people of the region locked in fear and on the run.
As each passing week of the American drone campaign brings yet another harvest of civilian deaths, more and more Pakistanis are radicalized, and the government -- the nuclear-armed government -- grows ever more shaky. If the state structure in Pakistan ultimately breaks apart from the pressures of the Terror War, its nuclear arsenal will be up for grabs. Thus the attacks ordered by Obama in Pakistan are escalating the threat of exactly the kind of nuclear instability that he decried in Prague.
"I've been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard...."
Chris Floyd has been a writer and editor for more than 25 years, working in the United States, Great Britain and Russia for various newspapers, magazines, the U.S. government and Oxford University. Floyd co-founded the blog Empire Burlesque, and is also chief editor of Atlantic Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.
This column is republished here with the permission of the author.
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This story was published on April 7, 2009.
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