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5 Most Popular Recent Articles

A Clash of Fundamentalisms PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Greeman   
Friday, 13 August 2010 14:43

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pro-death culture In our previous articles we emphasized the ideological nature of today’s problematic Islamic ‘threat’. (See ‘Islam in the Western Imagination’ and ‘Urgent Threats of Yesteryear’.) Historically this ‘threat’ fits into an established tradition of hysterical propaganda campaigns – whether against ‘Indians’, ‘Negroes’ or ‘Reds’ -- which distort and exaggerate real and potential challenges to U.S. capitalism / imperialism so as to justify violence, state terror and wars of plunder.

If the truth is ‘the first casualty’ in war then democracy is the second. Although framed by the U.S. in terms of defending (or spreading) ‘democracy’, today’s East-West conflict turns out to be not so much a Clash of Civilizations as an ideological Clash of Fundamentalisms. While hyping the threat of ‘Islamic Fundamentalism’, U.S. media and politicians conveniently fail to point out that their own outlook is based on the same kind of reactionary hard-shell fundamentalism as ‘Political Islamism’. Let’s call it ‘Political Christianism’. The Christian right in the U.S. aspires to the same kind of theocratic domination over government and peoples’ private lives as the Ayatollahs. Its members speak with the same hysterical absolutist certainty, believe the ends justify the means, and are willing resort to violent means – like murdering abortion-providers and bombing women's health centers. Both fundamentalisms offer identity and community to the disaffected masses while silencing opposition and bullying the hesitant through fear. The Zionists and the Jewish Religious Right are equally ruthless, and recently the U.S. Christian right has overcome its traditional anti-Semitism to form a reactionary pro-Israel, pro-U.S. alliance with right-wing, pro-Zionist Jewish organizations and leaders like the notoriously Jewish Senator Lieberman – much to the dismay of the vast majority of liberal, secular U.S. Jews.

Youth services slashed in South Yorkshire PDF Print E-mail
Written by Joe Mount   
Thursday, 12 August 2010 23:10

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Sheffield City Council in South Yorkshire, England, last month announced £6.5 million in budget cuts, half of which will fall on young people’s services. Council workers face pay freezes, more unpaid holidays and less redundancy pay. This is just a prelude to £219 million in cuts planned for the next four years by the Liberal Democrat-controlled town hall.

Labour councillors offered no opposition, while the Green Party only suggested some slight rearrangements so the cuts fall on different services.

Sheffield Futures, a charity that provides youth workers and runs the Connexions careers service, has had its council funding cut by £1.5 million, a quarter of its budget. Ninety-five of its 368 staff in Sheffield will lose their jobs, following a loss of 60 jobs in 2004, and pay will be lowered. It is also unclear whether the service’s contract will be renewed next March.

Last Updated on Friday, 13 August 2010 03:11
Canada’s Liberals press for extension of Afghan occupation PDF Print E-mail
Written by Vic Neufeld   
Wednesday, 11 August 2010 00:00

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Bob Rae, the Liberal Party foreign affairs critic and former New Democratic Party (NDP) premier of Ontario, penned an op-ed column in the Toronto Star last week that argued for Canada to continue to play a major role in propping up Afghanistan’s corrupt US-installed government. In particular Rae insisted upon the importance of Canada—that is, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF)—providing military training to Afghan forces when the current CAF mission in the southern province of Kandahar comes to an end in December 2011.

Canada has deployed almost 3,000 troops, backed by fighter planes and Leopard tanks, to support the US-NATO occupation of Afghanistan.

Titled “Why Afghanistan is not Vietnam,” Rae’s column argues that the West and Canada have a fundamental strategic interest in subjugating the impoverished Central Asian country and that Canada must resist, therefore, mounting calls to “abandon ship.” “The Taliban,” says Rae, “joke that ‘you have the watches but we have the time’. They are betting on a speedy departure. If the rush to the exits takes hold as the new prevailing orthodoxy, it will mean that extremism has won an important victory.”

Last Updated on Thursday, 12 August 2010 22:46
Afghanistan war logs leak gets hostile US reaction PDF Print E-mail
Written by Richard Adams   
Monday, 02 August 2010 01:11

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While some senior US figures have praised the publication of secret US military files detailing the progress of the war in Afghanistan, other Democrats and Republicans have united to condemn the Wikileaks cache in suprisingly strong terms.

Ross Baker, a professor in politics at Rutgers university and a former staff member for Republican and Democratic members of Congress, was cutting in his denunciation, on the Politico website: "This information is giving aid and comfort to the enemy and begins to look like WikiTreason."

The Republican leadership in Congress is keeping its head down and has avoided public comment – a sensible move, given that the leaks largely come from the Bush administration era and that the party remains committed to the US mission in Afghanistan.

U.S. Government Acknowledges Secretive Prisons for “Domestic Terrorists,” Proposes Making Them Permanent PDF Print E-mail
Written by Will Potter   
Sunday, 01 August 2010 23:28

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bureau of prisons cmu noticeSecretive political prisons for “domestic terrorists” called Communications Management Units have been operating for more than three years on U.S. soil. Last week the federal Bureau of Prisons quietly submitted a proposal to make the experimental units permanent: a process that, by law, should have occurred before they were ever opened.

As a quick introduction, there are two Communications Management Units, or CMUs, in the country. They radically restrict prisoner communications with the outside world to levels that rival, or exceed, the most restrictive facilities in the country, including the “Supermax,” ADX-Florence. [For more information on CMUs and who is housed there: "Secretive U.S. Prison Units Used to House Muslim, Animal Rights and Environmental Activists."]

On April 6, the Bureau of Prisons submitted a proposed rule (Docket No. 1148-P), listed in the federal register. Under the Administrative Procedures Act, there is now a required public comment period for responses to this proposal.

The public notice comes after the Center for Constitutional Rights and the American Civil Liberties Union each filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the secretive facilities, where political prisoners have been transferred without notification, without explanation, and without opportunity for appeal. [See "5 Things You Should Know About America’s 'Little Guantanamo.'"]

Europe’s class policy: A blank check for the banks, austerity for workers PDF Print E-mail
Written by Medialeft GB Administration   
Saturday, 31 July 2010 00:00

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The same week that European officials announced the results of bank stress tests designed to give bankers a green light to continue their speculative ways, European Central Bank (ECB) President Jean-Claude Trichet published a column in the Financial Times (July 22) arguing for an end to economic stimulus programs and the rigorous imposition of austerity measures across Europe.

In the article, entitled “Stimulate No More—It is Now Time for All to Tighten,” Trichet wrote that following the financial breakdown of September 2008, the world was just able to avoid a “financial meltdown and a second Great Depression,” but at a high price. According to ECB calculations, “the volume of taxpayer risks earmarked to support the financial sphere ... was as high as 27 percent of gross domestic product.” Trichet noted that a similar percentage of GDP was made available to the banking system on the other side of the Atlantic.

Travels without a Donkey: Venezuela PDF Print E-mail
Written by James Dryburgh - Tasmanian Times   
Wednesday, 02 June 2010 13:29

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Low density barrios on the outskirts of Caracas

I arrived in Venezuela with a fair amount of cynicism but with a desire to hear the other side of the story, that is to say the pro-Chavez, pro-revolution, pro-socialism side. I leave Venezuela unsure if the Bolivarian experiment can work, though impressed by what I have seen of it. Hoping the experiment will be allowed to plot its own course by the US, Europe and large corporate interests in particular, is pointless. Venezuela will not be left alone. The world should watch Venezuela with interest, and in my opinion, with hope.

Barrios climb out of the city centre.

It is important to begin these impressions of Venezuela by explaining that our time in this country, in which we have been lucky enough to get beneath the surface, has confirmed suspicions that 90 per cent of what we hear about Venezuela in Australia is utter nonsense. It’s not in the paper it is on the wall - the US is at war with Venezuela, the country with the world’s largest oil reserves and the fourth largest of natural gas. The US has had control of these resources since their discovery over a hundred years ago via hand-picked dictatorships and false democracies. They have lost control of this country, thanks, not to Chavez, but to the poor majority he inspires.

However, US strategy is clear, and thinking back to Australian media and the information we receive about Venezuela, I fear they are winning. It’s a simple yet sophisticated strategy used against many countries to justify interference or attack. Since the failed US-backed coup against the democratically elected President Chavez in April of 2002, the US have switched to Plan B, which is a campaign to swing global public opinion, through its influence over international media, against the Chavez government to justify overthrowing it. It’s working.

Of course this strategy is in combination with funding opposition groups and supporting disruption. Many locals believe there are US-trained Colombian para-militants carrying out random killings in the country to help create a feeling of insecurity under Chavez rule. The media tactics are clever and need no truth. For example, un-named US officials will release a statement that Venezuela is supporting FARC rebels in Colombia, which receives headline treatment on the news. A few days later a quiet press release is issued stating that actually they have no evidence of this, and of course the second release is deemed ‘un-newsworthy’ and the public are none the wiser.

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