Author Archive | Good German

The Oxymoron of Peace

500px-Peace_sign.svg

“Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.”

Robert C. Koehler writes at Common Dreams:

“At the same time, values and ideas which were considered universal, such as cooperation, mutual aid, international social justice and peace as an encompassing paradigm are also becoming irrelevant.”

Maybe this piercing observation by Roberto Savio, founder of the news agency Inter Press Service, is the cruelest cut of all. Geopolitically speaking, hope — the official kind, represented, say, by the United Nations in 1945 — feels fainter than I can remember. “We the peoples of the United Nations, determined to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war . . .”

I mean, it was never real. Five centuries of European colonialism and global culture-trashing, and the remaking of the world in the economic interests of competing empires, cannot be undone by a single institution and a cluster of lofty ideals.

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Citigroup: The Original Gangsta

500px-Citi.svgRobert Scheer writes at Truthdig:

Barack Obama’s Justice Department on Monday announced that Citigroup would pay $7 billion in fines, a move that will avoid a humiliating trial dealing with the seamy financial products the bank had marketed to an unsuspecting public, causing vast damage to the economy.

Citigroup is the too-big-to-fail bank that was allowed to form only when Bill Clinton signed legislation reversing the sensible restraints on Wall Street instituted by President Franklin Roosevelt to avoid another Great Depression.

Those filled with Clinton nostalgia these days might want to reflect back on how truly destructive was his legacy for hardworking people throughout the world who lost so much due to the financial shenanigans that he made legal.

“Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority,” a beaming Clinton boasted after signing the Financial Services Modernization Act into law in 1999.

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Military Nurse Refused to Force-Feed Guantánamo Prisoners

Camp X-Ray, shown here under construction, is the temporary holding facility for detainees held at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo by Photographer's Mate 1st Class Shane T. McCoy, USN, January 2002

Camp X-Ray, shown here under construction, is the temporary holding facility for detainees held at U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Photo by Photographer’s Mate 1st Class Shane T. McCoy, USN, January 2002

A nurse refuses to partake in the force-feeding of Guantánamo prisoners.

Sarah Lazare writes at Common Dreams:

A nurse in the U.S. Navy has refused to participate in the force-feeding of hunger striking detainees in what is the first widely-reported act of defiance on ethical grounds by a U.S. military service member at this offshore prison.

“This is a historic stand by this nurse, who recognized the basic humanity of the detainees and the inhumanity of what he was being asked to do,” said Cori Crider, a lawyer for UK-based charity Reprieve—which refers to the refusal as ‘conscientious objection.’ Crider learned of the act of refusal in a July 10 phone call with Abu Wa’el Dhiab—a Syrian man currently detained in Guantánamo Bay—and the news broke to the media on Tuesday.

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Alternatives to Liberal Individualism and Authoritarian Collectivism

A thought provoking essay from Jeremy Gilbert on how the confines of “Liberal Individualism” and “Authoritarian Collectivism” stifle true democracy.

Jeremy Gilbert writes at the P2P Foundation:

ReligiousSymbolsThe defining conflict of our times appears to some to be that between ‘Islam’ and ‘the West’. It hardly needs spelling out just what a misleading formulation this is: both crudely simplifying and mischievously divisive. Neither ‘the West’ nor ‘Islam’ are coherent entities, and the flashpoints between them are as much the symptoms of their respective internal conflicts as anything else. Bush’s aim, on one level, was always to beat the Democrats before anything else, just as Hamas’s struggle is often against Fatah as much as it is against Israel. But the ‘Clash of Civilizations’ (the title of a notorious essay by neocon ideologist Samuel Huntington) is a problematic myth not only for these reasons, but also because it obscures a more fundamental conflict for which it is at times a metonym and at other times just a mask.

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Cornel West on Obama and the Democrats

Official_portrait_of_Barack_ObamaCornel West laments the betrayal of the disenfranchised by Obama and the Democrats at large. He advocates for support of third party candidates in order to move our government away from its current state of corruption.

Gaius Publius writes at AMERICAblog:

As you may know, there’s a war going on in the black community, and Barack Obama is at the center of it. We’ve done some reporting on it ourselves. For example:

Cornel West on Obama — “Obama Deception: Why Cornel West Went Ballistic”

Eddie Glaude on Cornel West and “The Obama Deception”

Ed Schultz interviews Cornel West & Melissa Harris-Perry on the criticism of Obama from the black community

Weekend thoughts: Cornel West and Tavis Smiley on Obama 2013

From the outside the gist is this (written in mid-2011):

A number of communities have felt betrayed lately by Obama and the Democrats in general — it’s foolish not to admit that.

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Japan’s Self Defense Force and Its Propagandistic Recruitment Video

Screenshot of Japan's recruitment video.

Screenshot of Japan’s recruitment video.

Al Jazeera America analyzes Japan’s remilitarization and Shinzō Abe’s (Japan’s Prime Minister) propagandistic recruitment video with criticism and skepticism.

Dexter Thomas writes at Al Jazeera America:

In the past, Japan’s military has been reserved strictly for defence – hence its official title, the Self Defence Force (SDF). But thanks to this new reinterpretation of the constitution, the only thing that is necessary for military mobilisation is for one of Japan’s allies to be “attacked”. This is a scary prospect if we consider that Japan’s biggest ally is the US (and when we consider how many enemies the US has made over the past few years).

Perhaps the pros and cons of re-militarisation is a topic worth discussing. Unfortunately for the people of Japan, and of the East Asian region, this discussion has never occurred, as Abe’s administration is making the decision for them.

In response, there has been an unprecedented amount of opposition.

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Border Children and the Obama-Backed Coup that the Media Doesn’t Talk About

central-america-map

Most of the border children are coming from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador

Ted Rall writes at Common Dreams:

If you’re reading this, you probably follow the news. So you’ve probably heard of the latest iteration of the “crisis at the border”: tens of thousands of children, many of them unaccompanied by an adult, crossing the desert from Mexico into the United States, where they surrender to the Border Patrol in hope of being allowed to remain here permanently. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s detention and hearing system has been overwhelmed by the surge of children and, in some cases, their parents. The Obama Administration has asked Congress to approve new funding to speed up processing and deportations of these illegal immigrants.

Even if you’ve followed this story closely, you probably haven’t heard the depressing backstory — the reason so many Central Americans are sending their children on a dangerous thousand-mile journey up the spine of Mexico, where they ride atop freight trains, endure shakedowns by corrupt police and face rapists, bandits and other predators.

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World Council of Churches to Divest from World’s Dirty Fuels

Image by Arnold Paul cropped by Gralo.

Image by Arnold Paul cropped by Gralo.

In a big move, the World Council of Churches plans to pull funding from fossil fuels.

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

In what the global fossil fuel divestment movement is claiming as a “major victory,” the World Council of Churches has agreed to phase out its financial holdings in the world’s dirtiest energy sources and will encourage the congregants in the churches it represents to do the same.

Passed by a vote taken Thursday in Geneva at meeting of the Central Committee of the WWC—comprised of over 300 Christian churches from around the world and representing some 590 million people in 150 countries—the council sited both its ethical obligations, the desires of its members, and Biblical scripture as informing its decision.

“There was an explicit wish at the Finance Committee to include fossil fuels as one of the sectors where the WCC will not invest in, based on decisions to divest from fossil fuels taken by member churches in different parts of the world,” said Guillermo Kerber, who coordinates the WCC’s work on care for creation and climate justice.

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Greenpeace ‘Save the Arctic’ Lego Movie Pulled from YouTube

500px-LEGO_logo.svgCopyright or censorship? Or both?

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

UPDATE (1:02 PM EST): Statement sent by Greenpeace to its member regarding the banned video:

It looks like LEGO and its corporate pals are more offended by a video than by the idea of Shell’s plan to drill for Arctic oil. Despite the real risk of a terrible and unstoppable oil spill in icy, pristine waters, Shell is determined to  plunder every last drop of oil it can.

Just like it’s not OK for a tobacco company to market to children, an oil company has no place promoting its brand on kids’ toys. So that’s why we’re asking LEGO to show the world – and our children – that an ethical company won’t work with Shell.

LEGO said last week that it’s “determined to leave a positive impact on society and the planet”.  So are we! That’s why we’re working together to protect our oceans, rainforests and the Arctic.

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