Tag Archives | America

Torture Is Who We Are

Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Elvert Barnes (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Peter Beinart writes at the Atlantic:

Torture, declared President Obama this week, in response to the newly released Senate report on CIA interrogation, is “contrary to who we are.” Maine Senator Angus King added that, “This is not America. This is not who we are.” According to Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth, “We are better than this.”

No, actually, we’re not. There’s something bizarre about responding to a 600-page document detailing systematic U.S. government torture by declaring that the real America—the one with good values—does not torture. It’s exoneration masquerading as outrage. Imagine someone beating you up and then, when confronted with the evidence, declaring that “I’m not really like that” or “that wasn’t the real me.” Your response is likely to be some variant of: “It sure as hell seemed like you when your fist was slamming into my nose.” A country, like a person, is what it does.

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Putting Our Country Back Together

A largely quiet tactic to disenfranchise voters of all persuasions has become a target of reform-minded citizens in the wake of the 2014 midterm elections. While we have seen widespread pushback against voter suppression, unreliable voting machines, and unchecked spending in elections, Gerrymandering–the process of selectively re-drawing voters’ districts to ensure the outcome–has reached a critical mass in the fight for American Democracy. This is a tactic favored by incumbents of either political party, and as such this is a non-partisan issue affecting the public at large.

This short clip from my documentary PAY 2 PLAY illustrates how gerrymandering works, and how an equal number of voters can be strategically divided so as to guarantee districts that will vote a certain way. Featuring Marianne Williamson, an impassioned reformer, as well as the insight of Jerry Springer, whose previous jobs included Mayor of Cincinnati and Ohio gubernatorial candidate.

Retired Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens writes in his book Six Amendments that we even need a new amendment to the U.S.… Read the rest

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Key Factors Enabling the American Government to Commit Horrific Acts Abroad

gaelx (CC BY-SA 2.0)

gaelx (CC BY-SA 2.0)

John Chuckman writes at Globalresearch.ca:

Political Bunraku

For those who are not familiar, Bunraku is an old form of Japanese puppet theater, its distinctive characteristic being that the puppeteers are on the stage with their puppets, dressed in black so that the audience can pretend not to see them.

While many old art forms have conventions that are unrealistic by modern standards, there is something particularly unsatisfying about bunraku: you can pretend not to see the puppeteers but you cannot fail to see them.

Bunraku, as it happens, offers a remarkable metaphor for some contemporary operations of American foreign policy. So many times – in Syria, Ukraine, Libya, Venezuela, Egypt – we see dimly the actors on stage, yet we are supposed to pretend they are not there. We can’t identify them with precision, but we know they are there. Most oddly, the press in the United States, and to a lesser extent that of its various allies and dependents, pretends to report what is happening without ever mentioning the actors.

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Culture Shocked Sudanese Refugees Come to America

via Policy.Mic:

Cultural divide: There are snippets of “first time” experiences meant to delight.

“They call this chips,” a host tells the men at their new home, “they fry it and put it in a bag.” Another first time, eating a sprinkled donut at a grocery store, made passersby into gawkers.

“Many of us have many questions to ask, but only have a few people to answer them,” one man says.

There are also some other first time encounters that reveal certain truths about American society that would go unnoticed if not for the outside perspective, such as the costumed Santa Claus holding children on his lap in shopping malls.

“How is that connected to the birth of Jesus Christ?” one of the men asked.

Serious issues: In the neighborhood and surrounding city, merchants filed complaints with the local police. According to the video’s narrator, the owners “felt intimidated when the men enter their stores in large numbers.” As a result, a meeting was called to advise the boys not to travel in groups.

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What Nobel Prize Winner Barack Obama Doesn’t Want You to Know about Nobel Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (CC BY 2.0)

Russell Watkins/Department for International Development (CC BY 2.0)

Zack Beauchamp writes at Vox:

On Friday morning [Oct. 10], 17 year-old Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai won the Nobel Peace Prize. Yousafzai’s prize is well-deserved: she’s been a prominent campaigner for girls’ education for years, and survived a Taliban assassination attempt for her efforts.

But women’s education isn’t Malala’s only cause. She’s also waged a prominent campaign on a topic Americans aren’t talking much about nowadays: the drone war in Pakistan.

In characteristically bold fashion, Yousafzai brought these concerns up in a meeting with President Obama back in October 2013 — one that had originally been held to celebrate her commitment to education.

“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” Yousafzai said in a statement after the meeting — before turning to drones. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism.

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Failure Is Success: How American Intelligence Works in the Twenty-First Century

514zcaXr01LTom Engelhardt’s new book “Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World” is now out!

via Tom Dispatch:

What are the odds? You put about $68 billion annually into a maze of 17 major intelligence outfits. You build them glorious headquarters.  You create a global surveillance state for the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their communications in staggering quantities.  Your employees even morph into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect information on visits to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You pass around naked photos of them just for… well, the salacious hell of it.  Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of “spycraft” gains its own name: LOVEINT.

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Kids as Young as 12 Working in America’s Tobacco Fields

Tobacco field by John Buie via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

Tobacco field by John Buie via Flickr. (CC by 2.0)

via Politico Magazine:

The Obama administration has made curbing nicotine use by kids a public health priority, with efforts including mass media campaigns to reduce teen smoking and a proposed ban on selling e-cigarettes to minors. But when it comes to the serious health risks run by thousands of children who work each summer on tobacco farms in the United States, the administration has been conspicuously silent.

Lax federal labor laws allow kids as young as 12 to work in tobacco fields, despite mounting evidence that they can contract acute nicotine poisoning from handling tobacco leaves. Even some tobacco growers and companies take the position that U.S. laws and regulations aren’t strong enough. But the Obama administration has said little and done even less. That needs to change.

A Human Rights Watch report released in May documented the dangers to children working on American tobacco farms based on a year’s research and interviews with 141 child tobacco workers, ages 7 to 17, in the country’s four largest tobacco-producing states: North Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia.

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“And prove to me, America, that you care. And prove to me, America, you’re aware” – ‘Is It For Freedom?’ by Sarah Thomsen

via chycho

A message to the citizens of the United States of America regarding your doctrine of endless war, delivered through song by Sara Thomsen.

“Is It For Freedom?” by Sara Thomsen

Below you will find the Lyrics for “Is It For Freedom?” from the 1999 album “Fertile Ground”.

Rulers of the nations as you fuss and fight
Over who owns this or that and who has the right
To design, build, sell and store and fire
All the bombs and guns to defend your holy empire

There are children hungry, children sick and dying
There are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers crying
They’re only pawns in your play of power and corruption
Slowly starve them, your new weapon of mass destruction


And prove to me, America, that you care
And prove to me, America, you’re aware
Who’s dying for your freedom in this land
Who pays the cost for the liberties you demand

Is it for freedom, or our comfort and convenience
Is it to profit for big business we pledge our allegiance
Are we prisoners in the land of the brave and the bold?

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1 in 4 Americans Open to Secession

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America the Beautiful, Pat’s Run, April 2014, Tempe, Arizona. by Kevin Dooley via Flickr (cc by 2.0)

Scott Malone writes at Reuters:

The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.

Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.

The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll.

Anger with President Barack Obama’s handling of issues ranging from healthcare reform to the rise of Islamic State militants drives some of the feeling, with Republican respondents citing dissatisfaction with his administration as coloring their thinking.

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