Archive | Op-Ed

The Assault on New and Alternative Media


“Typing computer screen reflection” by Almonroth

-Eric Scott Pickard is a poet, artist, activist, and journalist. He is a co-founder of Free Radical Media, a host of the Free Radical Media Podcast, and a journalist with The Fifth Column News.

The Internet has been often likened to the printing press; a new technology that revolutionized communication and the freedom of information. But like the printing press, the Internet has also been the target of restrictions by those in the halls of power, who see freedom of information as a threat to their positions of privilege.

Why is this, exactly? What could possibly be the harm in having an informed populace? The danger, of course, is that people can find out what the agendas of their leaders are – and they, throughout history, have very seldom been aligned with the interests of those who are ostensibly lead.

In recent years there have been many attempts to restrict a free and open internet.… Read the rest

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War Tax Resistance: Hobby Lobby, Bitcoins, and The Peace Tax Fund

Back in October, we learned that 90% of the victims who are killed by U.S. drone strikes are innocent civilians just like you and me. Except that we’re not so innocent, right? Because our tax dollars pay for those drones. Sure, the politicians are the ones who sanction these wars; and yes, it is the soldiers who go off and fight the “bad guys” for us; but it is the citizens (“We the People”) who are funding these atrocities. So I guess that means we’re all war criminals with blood on our hands. If this fact is as difficult for you to accept as it is for me, then you probably find yourself asking: what then must we do? What can we do?

I was having a difficult time shaking the ninety-percent statistic from my mind, and then I was reminded of the Hobby Lobby ruling from several years ago. In case you are not familiar with it, this is the ruling which declared that Hobby Lobby – a private business, owned by Christians – did not have to pay for some forms of birth control (which were otherwise covered by the healthcare that was already being provided to their employees by the company) because the owners of Hobby Lobby equate those particular forms of birth control with abortion, and paying for them would go against their religious beliefs.… Read the rest

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ISIL and the West: A Clash of Savageries

Lamis Andoni writes at Al-Jazeera English:

In the post 9/11 days, the US unabashedly exploited fear and grief to unleash its own sophisticated campaign of terror, replete with all that military technology can offer, providing a “civilised” cover for what are essentially mass murders of innocent populations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan.

Unlike al-Qaeda and the self-styled Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIL), Western civility rarely includes on-camera beheadings or burning captives alive in cages, but relies on the comfortable process of burning people through the simple pressing of a button – disassociating the murderer from the murder.

That does not exactly include Israeli criminal acts against Palestinians, often caught on camera, but “Israeli exceptionalism” absolves it from accusations of savagery.

In the West and according to Israeli political lingo, savagery is a trait confined to other nations who fall outside “shared values of democracy and freedom”, a propaganda concept that is used to camouflage – even whitewash – all Israeli and Western government crimes.

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To Forgive: An Ongoing Conversation with My Apocalyptic Fundamentalist Grandmother

tanakawho (CC BY-NC 2.0)

tanakawho (CC BY-NC 2.0)

In February of this past year, I had an interesting conversation with my grandmother about ISIS, God, and the nature of forgiveness. She is an apocalyptic fundamentalist of the Christian persuasion and that is how I was raised, though I now consider myself to be agnostic. I wrote about the conversation and shared it with a few friends, as well as with my family, most of whom are also Christian fundamentalists. Barring a few Bible verses that were texted to me by an aunt (described in more detail, below) no one else in my family bothered to respond, which is fairly typical of my clan. Anything that challenges their beliefs is usually seen as a threat, and instead of engaging with me in these sorts of conversations, they often retreat and just pretend like I never said anything. I considered publishing the piece here on Disinfo, but ultimately held off…it felt very personal and I was apprehensive about it getting back to my grandmother, who might view it as some sort of betrayal.… Read the rest

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Monitoring Mosques? Fine, but Don’t Forget about Our Own Homegrown Christian Extremists

Kevin Swanson spews pro-murder hate speech at the National Religious Liberties Conference

Kevin Swanson is a fundamental extremist of the Christian persuasion. On November 6th and 7th, he hosted a pro-murder hate speech rally which was billed as the “National Religious Liberties Conference” in Des Moine, Iowa. Three GOP candidates attended this pro-murder hate speech rally, including Mike Huckabee, Gov. Bobby Jindal, and Sen. Ted Cruz.

Swanson used an archaic interpretation of the Bible as justification for imprisoning and executing homosexuals: “Yes, Leviticus 20:13 calls for the death penalty for homosexuals. Yes, in Romans Chapter 1, Verse 32, the Apostle Paul does say homosexuals are worthy of death — his words, not mine. And I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And I am not ashamed of the truth, of the word of God. I am willing to go to jail for it…”

Well that’s encouraging to hear, Mr.… Read the rest

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Signs of a Dying Society

FBI statistics confirm a dramatic decline in violent crimes since 1991, yet the number of prisoners has doubled over approximately the same period. It's but one sign of a deeply troubling decline. (Photo: PRCJ/file)

FBI statistics confirm a dramatic decline in violent crimes since 1991, yet the number of prisoners has doubled over approximately the same period. It’s but one sign of a deeply troubling decline. (Photo: PRCJ/file)

This article originally appeared on Common Dreams.

While Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning and John Kiriakou are vilified for revealing vital information about spying and bombing and torture, a man who conspired with Goldman Sachs to make billions of dollars on the planned failure of subprime mortgages was honored by New York University for his “Outstanding Contributions to Society.”

This is one example of the distorted thinking leading to the demise of a once-vibrant American society. There are other signs of decay:

1. A House Bill Would View Corporate Crimes as ‘Honest Mistakes’

Wealthy conservatives are pushing a bill that would excuse corporate leaders from financial fraud, environmental pollution, and other crimes that America’s greatest criminals deem simply reckless or negligent.

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Why US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is the Biggest Threat to World Peace


Brian Cloughley writes at CounterPunch:

The terrorist threat posed by the barbarians of Islamic State is clearly of most serious concern to much of the world — but there are other threats of equal immediacy, not the least being the determination of Washington to continue confronting Russia and China.

The US Navy Times headline of November 5 summed up Washington’s policy as regards the South China Sea by recording that “Pentagon chief takes jab at China with aircraft carrier stop.”

This intriguing insight to America’s official thinking about China was one result of the visit by intellectual US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter to the USS Theodore Roosevelt, an enormous aircraft carrier in the South China Sea where, ten days previously, on  October 27, the guided missile destroyer USS Lassen had been ordered to try to provoke China to react to a coat-trailing confrontational incursion into territorial waters claimed by China.

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From the Soil to the Sky: Thoughts on “Symphony of the Soil”

The soil, the raw Earth, the meat of our world that lays atop the bones… here is the vitality that underlays all life.

I recently watched the documentary “The Symphony of Soil,” which I will further embed below because it so impressed on me once again the importance – and the mystifying complexity – of the ground beneath our feet.

Soils are formed in a hundred different ways, all with their own chemical composition, and all with their own life. One facet of our massively complicated global ecosystem, each tiny portion so intimately vital to the other. Mycelial networks stretching hundreds of miles, bumping into other networks, forming this intricate dance like a natural Internet, the first Internet, transmitting details of weather patterns and other ecological “news” all through their spread. It is an overwhelming idea, a transcendent, beautiful idea –

And our system of global agriculture and capital is destroying it.… Read the rest

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The Driving Range


I’m all Paris-ed and “let’s throw up barbed-wire fences to keep us free“-ed out. Feeling kind of dark. So, please indulge as I pitch this one ride out there, to cheer us up…



It’s been slow. It’s that palpable quiet period for cab driving as Thanksgiving looms.

At present I’m cruising the Lower Haight, with the back seat having been cold for the last forty-five minutes. (Sigh.) I guess it’ll be the left up Fillmore now, for the usual rounds; on through the Jazz District, up through well-off Pac Heights, and down into the yuppie ubiquitous Marina.

However, mid-turn, score!

It’s a late 20’s skinny white blonde dude with thick coke-bottle glasses, and sagging jeans, running into the street from the afar bus stop to flag. Dude is swaggering towards me in beat up skater shoes, with gold chain swaying, and one hand waving vehemently in the air as the other holds up his falling pants.

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Why a Climate Deal Is the Best Hope for Peace

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Kevin Dooley (CC BY 2.0)

Jason Box and Naomi Klein write at the New Yorker:

Soon after the horrific terror attacks in Paris, last Friday, our phones filled with messages from friends and colleagues: “So are they going to cancel the Paris climate summit?” “The drums of war are beating. Count on climate change being drowned out.” The assumption is reasonable enough. While many politicians pay lip service to the existential urgency of the climate crisis, as soon as another more immediate crisis rears its head—war, a market shock, an epidemic—climate reliably falls off the political map.

After the attacks, the French government stated that the COP21 climate summit would begin as scheduled at the end of November. Yet the police have just barred the huge planned marches and protests, effectively silencing the voices of people who are directly affected by these high-level talks. And it’s hard to see how sea-level rise and parched farmland—tough media sells at the best of times—will have a hope of competing with rapid military escalation and calls for fortressed borders.

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