Author Archive | Aaron Dames

Ashton Carter: No Word of Peace

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

Alice Slater, New York director of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation, breaks down Obama’s pick for the next Secretary of Defense (head of the U.S military), Ashton Carter. She scratches the surface of this man’s past genuflections toward the weapons and defense industry. The Senate approved his nomination 93 – 5, which demonstrates the obsequious, acquiescent, complacent, and no-questions-asked nature of the military-industrial-Congressional-complex. Previously serving as the Pentagon’s chief arms buyer, Carter has advocated preemptively bombing North Korea, arming the Ukrainian government, and opposes shutting down Guantanamo Bay. He has made tens of thousands of dollars from advocating war, pushes nuclear weapons production, and has consulted for defense corporations time and time again. Due to previous conflicts of interest, Cater required an ethics waiver to join the pro-war Obama administration.

There is no word of peace from this man. Please, for the love God, do not vote for any majority party in the 2016 U.S National Elections.… Read the rest

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The State of the Union Address vs. Helena Norberg-Hodge, the Importance of Localization, and the Death of the Techno-Economic Juggernaut

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

 As for the developed countries from which this corrupting ethos of progress goes out: more and more their “growthmania” distorts their environments and robs the world of its nonrenewable resources for no better end than to increase the output of ballistic missiles, electric hairdryers, and eight-track stereophonic tape recorders.  But in the statistics of the economic index such mad waste measures out as “productivity,” and all looks rosy.

-E.F. Schumacher, Small is Beautiful

 

During the State of Union address last week, President Barack Obama insinuated that Congress should grant him Fast Track authority (trade promotion authority that cannot be blocked by Congress) to make real the embryonic Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TPP) without directly referring to this nascent legislative monstrosity by name.  He promised that, unlike previous trade agreements (such as NAFTA), the TPP would lead to domestic job creation, boost worker protections, and help the United States maintain its economic lead over China.… Read the rest

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Veterans Day and the Last Day on Earth

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

On the eve of Veterans Day, President Obama announced that he will send another 1,500 Americans troops to Iraq to advise the Iraqi military on how to fight militants in a civil war.

While not seeking Congressional approval for the troop surge, the White House intends to request $5.6 billion for this latest military campaign, the end of which is nowhere in sight. This at a time when cost of the decade-long war in Iraq has exceeded $2 trillion ($6,250 for each American citizen), which makes it one of the most expensive clusterfucks in modern history. Yet war spells profit for numerous weapons manufacturers (roughly half of all the weapons in the world are sold by the United States), military contractors, and oil companies, all of which have joined hands with the mainstream media to churn out war propaganda and lies while funding the election campaigns of unscrupulous politicians who later vote to re-direct taxpayer dollars to their corporate sponsors.… Read the rest

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The Rise of the Barbarians and Why the United States Has Lost All Credibility

The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.  Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot

The Pale Blue Dot, the Earth suspended in a sunbeam like a mote of dust.

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core.

Naturally the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

– Hermann Goering

The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities.Read the rest

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Letter of Inquiry to the Police in Regards to Militarization

From Divided Core:

       Below is the template of a letter that I sent to my local police department and city government inquiring about any weapons or equipment the police may have received from the U.S military.  Considering what’s going down in Ferguson, I think it would behoove you to ask your local police station if they’ve accepted any dangerous gifts from the U.S Pentagon. (I received a polite response from the Sebastopol Chief of Police, and am happy to report that Sebastopol, CA is does not currently participate in any program in which military gear is provided to them by the Department of the Defense.)  Here’s the template of the simple letter:

Dear Chief of Police ________ and the City of _____,I am a resident of ______ and am curious if our police department receives any funding and/or equipment and weapons from the Department of Defense.  I love our town and respect our police department, yet (in the wake of the unrest in Ferguson, MO) I am curious if our police force has accepted any arms, ammunition, robots, or otherwise from the U.S military.
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Advocacy Groups Plan Day of Protest Against NSA Surveillance

Pic: DWFB (C)

Pic: DWFB (C)

As football season gears up for its climax, many people are overlooking a much bigger game that is being played at the moment.  Grant Gross for PC World reports on the Day We Fight Back protest:

A group of activist groups and Internet companies are planning a coordinated protest of U.S. National Security Agency surveillance on Feb. 11, with the hope that millions of people will join them.The protest, called the Day We Fight Back, comes a month after the anniversary of Internet activist Aaron Swartz’s death. Swartz committed suicide last January while facing a 35-year prison sentence for hacking into a Massachusetts Institute of Technology network and downloading research articles.Among the organizations participating in the protest are Demand Progress, an activist group Swartz co-founded, as well as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Free Press, Reddit and Mozilla.”Today the greatest threat to a free Internet, and broader free society, is the National Security Agency’s mass spying regime,” David Segal, executive director of Demand Progress, said in a statement.… Read the rest
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Examining Natural Disasters

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

The death toll from Typhoon Haiyan, which struck the Philippines on November 7th, currently stands at 5,500 people.  Haiyan was the fourth strongest tropical cyclone ever recorded and is the deadliest in Philippine history (the second-deadliest was Tropical Storm Thelma, which killed around 5,080 people in 1991).  To compare, here are some mortality figures from other large-scale natural disasters that have taken place in recent history.

Typhoon Bopha, Philippines, December 2012 – 1,146 dead
Hurricane Sandy, U.S Eastern Seaboard, October 2012 – 286 dead
Earthquake and Tsunami in East Japan, March 2011 – 15,800 dead
Earthquake in Haiti, January 2010 – 159,000 dead
Hurricane Katrina, Gulf Coast, August 2008 – 1,833 dead
Earthquake in Kashmir, Pakistan and India, October 2005 – 100,000 dead
Indian Ocean Earthquake and Tsunami, December 2004 – 250,000 dead

In addition to the number of victims, there are certainly many other factors to consider when assessing the impact that natural disasters have on humanity.  The magnitude of a disaster can be measured in absolute terms, such as the aforementioned mortality rate, as well as the physical extent of the area affected, the volume of infrastructure destroyed, and the financial cost of reconstruction.

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On the Slow Kill of the World’s Oceans

Picture: speakupforblue.com

Picture: speakupforblue.com

Aaron Dames writes for Divided Core:

It is probable that every major ecological pillar however tenuously stabilizing the structure of the oceans is crumbling.  Although some endangered fish populations and coral reef systems are being protected and restored, the seas overall are in deep shit.  Overfishing and pollution are reducing biodiversity by killing-off larges swaths of ocean life.  The destruction of vast marine habitats will have catastrophic repercussions for humanity.  [According to some earth scientists, oceanic ecocide poses a greater threat to the existence of humanity than climate change.  Higher global temperature averages which melt icecaps and glaciers will lead to higher sea levels and the inundation of a plethora of coastal industries, cities, and urban centers that are responsible for contributing to environmental destruction and the mass production of excessive, heat-trapping, carbon-dioxide emissions. As in times of major economic depressions or financial stagnation, the inundation of coastal megalopolises will result in a decrease of industrial activity which may subsequently benefit nature as a whole (until industrial activity is resumed), but would have horrible consequences for humanity, especially for those hundreds of millions of impoverished coastal inhabitants who already live in deprivation, and who would become environmental refugees in the event of a significant increase in sea levels.  (Click here to view an interactive map from National Geographic which depicts how coastlines would change if all glaciers and icecaps on Earth were to melt.)]

Not that there’s anything wrong with them, but human beings have caused a lot of trouble for life in the world’s oceans.  The process in which the destruction of sea life occurs is largely two-fold.  Large-scale destructive events like oil spills (Deepwater Horizon) and nuclear power plant disasters (Fukushima) can cause serious damage to the affected aquatic areas.  Damage from such disasters is often immediately evident, such as the deformed and eyeless fish and shrimp that appeared in the Gulf of Mexico after the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, or the dying sea lions pups and seals with bleeding lesions that have washed up on beaches in California and Alaska the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant meltdown.  Yet as grave and harmful as they are, explosive, headline-making disasters are less deleterious to life in the seas than the cumulative, synergistic effects of routine human activities such as oceanic commerce, commercial fishing, and pollution.  For example, a 2002 study by the National Academy of the Sciences found that the 85 percent of the 29 million gallons of marine oil pollution originating from North America derives from runoff from cars and oil-based machines and accessories (like lawnmowers and household robots) – and the sum of these tiny releases of oil, carried into the ocean by streams and storm drains, is equivalent to an Exxon Valdez oil spill every eight months.  [As additional food for thought: there are apparently 90,000 cargo ships in the world.

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Hypocrisy on the Moral High Ground

obomberPlease enjoy Aaron’s full article rather than the small excerpt we previously ran yesterday – thanks Aaron!

Aaron Dames writes about the absurdity of war with Syria.

From Divided Core:

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.

-George Orwell

When it comes to making the case for bombing Syria, the US military, government, and mainstream media have taken the moral high ground, where they probably have a house or condo.  In justifying launching a possible attack against Syria, Secretary of State John Kerry accused the Assad regime of crossing a red line and committing a “moral obscenity” by using chemical weapons which have resulted in “the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, the killing of women and children and innocent bystanders.”  Though the killing of civilians by any means is a sin regardless of how they are killed, if chemical weapons delineate a red line, then it has been crossed before.  On top of the conventional weaponry that was used to kill hundred of thousands of innocent civilians during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States used depleted uranium, which has lead to a massive surge in birth defects among a generation of Iraqis and Afghanis.  NATO air forces also used depleted uranium munitions during the bombing of Serbia in 1999.  As part of its chemical warfare program in the Vietnam War, the United States sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange – an herbicide manufactured by Dow Chemicals and Monsanto – across Vietnam which resulted in deaths of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese, as well as in birth defects in half a million children.  Days before John Kerry made the moral obscenity remark, the CIA declassified documents which revealed that in 1988 the United States provided Saddam Hussein with satellite images of Iranian military positions, knowing full well that Iraq would attack the Iranians by using chemical weapons such as sarin gas – a nerve agent similar to that which the U.S now accuses Syria of having used.  (On the topic of recently disclosed CIA files, earlier this month the CIA formally acknowledged its involvement in ousting the democratically elected Prime Minister of Iran, Mohammad Mossadegh, sixty years ago.)

The U.S is no stranger to chemical warfare.

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NSA pays £100m in secret funding for GCHQ

gchq-logoNSA has been funding the UK’s largest intelligence agency to the tune of $100 million over the past three years…

Nick Hopkins and Julian Borger report for the Guardian.

Via The Guardian:

The US government has paid at least £100m to the UK spy agency GCHQ over the last three years to secure access to and influence over Britain’s intelligence gathering programmes.

The top secret payments are set out in documents which make clear that the Americans expect a return on the investment, and that GCHQ has to work hard to meet their demands. “GCHQ must pull its weight and be seen to pull its weight,” a GCHQ strategy briefing said.

The funding underlines the closeness of the relationship between GCHQ and its US equivalent, the National Security Agency. But it will raise fears about the hold Washington has over the UK’s biggest and most important intelligence agency, and whether Britain’s dependency on the NSA has become too great.

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