Author Archive | Good German

Our Souls Turned into Weapons

By Jayel Aheram via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Jayel Aheram via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Robert C. Koehler writes at Common Dreams:

“During basic training, we are weaponized: our souls turned into weapons.”

Jacob George’s suicide last month — a few days after President Obama announced that the US was launching its war against ISIS — opens a deep, terrible hole in the national identity. George: singer, banjo player, poet, peace warrior, vet. He served three tours in Afghanistan. He brought the war home. He tried to repair the damage.

Finally, finally, he reached for “the surefire therapy for ending the pain,” as a fellow vet told Truthdig. He was 32.

Maybe another war was just too much for him to endure. Military glory — protection of the innocent — is a broken ideal, a cynical lie. “Times for war veterans are tough because we know exactly what is going to happen with the actions that Obama talked about in his recent speech,” his friend Paul Appell told Truthdig.

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6 Bullshit “Facts” About Psychology That Everyone Believes

By Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

By Texas A&M University-Commerce Marketing Communications Photography via Flickr (CC by 2.0).

Muspar writing in Cracked back in 2009:

Psychology is one of those subjects that everybody likes to think they know something about. We love to go around diagnosing our friends and co-workers, both to make sense of the world and to make ourselves feel like we’re smarter than they are.

But like any science that makes its way into the pop culture, a lot of the “common sense” statements we hear every day are so wrong that they border on raving idiocy. Such as…

#6. “If You Let Your Anger Out, You’ll Feel Better!”

You always hear people talk about how “cathartic” an experience was and how much better they feel, or you’ll hear them say things like, “If you keep your anger bottled up, one day you’ll just snap!”

In fact the “about to go crazy because he can’t express anger” character is a mainstay in television and movies (see that Simpsons episode where Ned Flanders finally loses it, and every movie where a renegade cop fires his gun into the air instead of unloading on the bad guy who just killed his wife).

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The Arab World’s Stockholm Syndrome

By Center for American Progress via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Center for American Progress via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Ahmad Barqawi writes at CounterPunch:

What is it with the Arab World and its morbid infatuation with its own colonizers?

Why is it that America’s Tomahawks tend to find both helpless victims and overzealous, welcoming enthusiasts all at the same time and on the very same patch of war-torn Arab land?

Bona-fide war criminals of the Bush-variety come to the Arab World; lay complete waste and devastation to one Arab country, drone-bomb the living daylights out of another; only to “sword-dance” their way out of the region with the “grateful” rulers of a third, with pocketful of cash and lucrative oil and “reconstruction” contracts no less.

Even Francios Hollande, France’s “socialist” president, couldn’t resist a few awkward rounds of waltzing, sword in hand, with the Saudis after locking-in an arms deal to the tune of US$ 3 bln.

Not only that; these imperialist blunderers and harbingers of biochemical-death get to temporarily hang their “shock-and-awe” military hats and make multi-million-dollar careers out of trading on their newfound status as advisors, “intellectuals” and “peaceful mediators”; unabashedly touring the very same Arab lands where they’ve previously wreaked doomed havoc and sectarian discord, to preach the virtues of democracy, peaceful dialogue and human rights of all things, to an awestruck GCC sponsored crowd of course, one that’s more than willing to bestow its stock of admiration and exaggerated hospitality; on a scale that seems strictly reserved to those who have a storied history of pillaging the Arab world.

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Correction: US Did Find Chemical Weapons in Iraq – The Ones They Sent There

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Iraqi President Saddam Hussein greets Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy of President Ronald Reagan, in Baghdad on December 20, 1983. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Jon Queally writes at Common Dreams:

These aren’t the chemical weapons you’re looking for.

New reporting from the New York Times, published online late Tuesday, reveals that although the administration of George W. Bush employed false claims of a chemical weapons program to justify its 2003 invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq (no such program existed) – the reality is that substantial, largely forgotten and degraded stockpiles of older weapons did exist inside the country.

However, according to the Times, because those weapons dated back to the 1980’s—when the U.S. and other western nations were acting as an ally to Iraq and supplying weapons and chemical agents to Hussein during his war against Iran—U.S. troops who ultimately came across these weapons and ordered to destroy them were told to remain quiet about what they’d encountered, even as it put their own health and those of others in grave danger.

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The Just World Fallacy

Logo of the Conservative Party

Logo of the Conservative Party

Kitty S. Jones writes:

The Tories now deem anything that criticises them as “abusive”. Ordinary campaigners are labelled “extremists” and pointing out flaws, errors and consequences of Tory policy is called “scaremongering”. Language and psychology are a powerful tool, because this kind of use “pre-programs” and sets the terms of any discussion or debate. It also informs you what you may think, or at least, what you need to circumnavigate first, in order to state your own account or case. This isn’t simply name-calling or propaganda: it’s a deplorable and tyrannical silencing technique.

The government have [sic] a Behavioural Insights Team (BIT), which is comprised of both behavioural psychologists and economists, which apply positivist (pseudo)psychological techniques to social policy. They produce “Positive psychology” courses which the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) are using to ensure participants find satisfaction with their lot; the DWP are also using psychological referral with claims being reconsidered on a mandatory basis by civil servant “decision makers”, as punishment for non-compliance with the new regimes of welfare conditionality for which people claiming out of work benefits are subject.

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How We Punish People for Being Poor

By Kim Hill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By Kim Hill via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Rebecca Vallas writes at Talk Poverty:

This past weekend, I was part of a panel discussion on MSNBC’s Melissa Harris Perry with New York Times reporter Michael Corkery, whose reporting on the rise in subprime auto loans is as horrifying as it is important.

In what seems a reprisal of the predatory practices that led up to the subprime mortgage crisis, low-income individuals are being sold auto loans at twice the actual value of the car, with interest rates as high as 29 percent. They can end up with monthly payments of $500—more than most of the borrowers spend on food in a month, and certainly more than most can realistically afford. Many dealers appear in essence to be setting up low-income borrowers to fail.

Dealers are also making use of a new collection tool called a “starter-interrupter device” that allows them not only to track a borrower’s movements through GPS, but to shut off a car with the tap of a smartphone—which many dealers do even just one or two days after a borrower misses a payment.

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The Resurrection of Gary Webb: Will Hollywood Give Journalist Last Word Against CIA’s Media Apologists?

The new film, "Kill the Messenger," dramatizes Gary Webb’s investigation of Contra-allied Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (whose drug activities were apparently protected for reasons of U.S. “national security”) and their connection to L.A.’s biggest crack dealer, “Freeway” Ricky Ross. (Public domain)

The new film, “Kill the Messenger,” dramatizes Gary Webb’s investigation of Contra-allied Nicaraguan cocaine traffickers Norwin Meneses and Danilo Blandon (whose drug activities were apparently protected for reasons of U.S. “national security”) and their connection to L.A.’s biggest crack dealer, “Freeway” Ricky Ross. (Public domain)

Jeff Cohen writes at Common Dreams:

It’s been almost a decade since once-luminous investigative journalist Gary Webb extinguished his own life.

It’s been 18 years since Webb’s “Dark Alliance” series in the San Jose Mercury News exploded across a new medium – the Internet – and definitively linked crack cocaine in Los Angeles and elsewhere to drug traffickers allied with the CIA’s rightwing Contra army in Nicaragua. Webb’s revelations sparked anger across the country, especially in black communities.

But the 1996 series (which was accompanied by unprecedented online documentation) also sparked one of the most ferocious media assaults ever on an individual reporter – a less-than-honest backlash against Webb by elite newspapers that had long ignored or suppressed evidence of CIA/Contra/cocaine connections.

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As ISIS Slaughters Kurds in Kobani, the U.S. Bombs Syrian Grain Silos

By fw_gadget via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

By fw_gadget via Flickr (CC by 2.0)

Ajamu Baraka writes at CounterPunch:

The U.S. is conducting a curious humanitarian war against ISIS in Syria. While Kobani, the largely Kurdish district that straddles the border with Turkey is being attacked by ISIS forces and facing the very real possibility of mass civilian killings if it falls, U.S. military spokespersons claimed that they are watching the situation in Kobani and have conducted occasional bombing missions but that they are concentrating their anti-ISIS efforts in other parts of Syria. Those other efforts appear to consist of bombing empty buildings, schools, small oil pumping facilities, an occasional vehicle and grain silos where food is stored to feed the Syrian people. Turkey also seems to be watching as the Kurds of Kobani fight to the death against ISIS.

The humanitarian concerns of officials in the U.S. with the plight of Kurds in Kobani could not be more different than what occurred in Iraq when ISIS forces made a push into Kurdish territory.

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