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Obscuring the Details: A Panoramic Look at America’s Case Against Syria

UN Inspectors Chemical

The US federal government and the various agencies, media organizations, individuals, foreign governments, non-governmental organizations, lobbies, forces, and other entities that are tied to it have done everything in their power to obscure the details involving the chemical attacks in that took place in Syria on August 21, 2013. The aim has been to justify the US-led foreign campaign that was launched against Syria in 2011 by making the Syrian government appear culpable of grievous crimes. The chemical attack on Ghouta has now come to represent the crux of the matter.

From the very start there was double-speaking coming from Washington and its cohorts about what happened in Ghouta. The Obama Administration and America’s allies deliberately pretended to ignore that chemical weapons were used in Syria prior to August 21, 2013. They have pretended that the United Nations investigation team that had arrived in Syria when chemical weapons were used in Ghouta had just stumbled there coincidently or with the purpose of “inspecting” the Syrian government’s chemical weapon depots.
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That Big Salmonella Outbreak: Chickens Coming Home to Roost on Bankrupt Food Safety Double Standard

Factory Chicken Farm

There’s an outbreak of illnesses from salmonella in chicken that is making national headlines --278 people in 18 states have been sickened. More alarming is the fact that 42% of those sickened have been hospitalized, and that the pathogen seems resistant to treatment with antibiotics. (According to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, less than one per cent of its estimated 48 million cases of foodborne illness require hospitalization.) 

The media is making much out of the fact that employees of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control are being called back from furlough to monitor the situation. But the media are ignoring the real dangers underscored by this outbreak.

This outbreak is a vivid example of the double standard applied to food safety--one set of highly permissive standards for corporate producers of factory food and a second set for small producers of artisanal nutrient-dense food. As if the favoritism shown the corporations that fatten politicians’ campaign coffers isn’t enough, we are now getting a bird’s-eye view (pardon the pun) of how the double standard is being allowed to truly endanger large numbers of people. It is a double standard I warn about and document in my book, Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Food Rights.
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The Myth of American Exceptionalism

America Zoom

When the Soviet Union collapsed, America loomed as the gleaming superpower. It looked like the country had solved all of its problems. It was the envy of the world. An end of history loomed. No longer. History has come back with a vengeance. And today, after a decade of ruinous wars, the only things worth copying are the memories.

Americans are only beginning to comprehend their difficulties. Perhaps this should not be surprising. For Americans have long been weaned on the notion that they represent an exceptional nation. And, to be fair, the American belief in exceptionalism is not exceptional. Quite the contrary. Throughout history, countries and peoples have believed that they were exceptional. The ancient Greeks believed it, and called everyone else “barbarian.” So did the Romans, who conquered the world and believed they were gods.

In more recent history, we had the Anglo-Saxons, who built the British Empire, which, in its expanse, spread further and wider than any previous imperium. Russia, too, is intimately acquainted with the idea of its own exceptionalism. We need only recall Hegumen Philotheus of Pskov, who talked about Moscow being the third Rome and that there would not be a fourth one. The idea of Russian exceptionalism was even more strongly expressed in Marxist-Leninist ideology, when Moscow created a denationalized ideological empire with a calling to free mankind from the tyranny of capitalism, and believed it had a historic mission to bring happiness to the entire world through a global victory of socialism, and later communism. It claimed that all people in the world would enjoy not only equality of opportunity, but of results. As a rule, all these ideas of exceptionalism rested on the twin pillars of ideology and myths.
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The Fourth Branch of Government

Military Industrial Complex

One of the most interesting aspects of President Eisenhower’s Farewell Address in 1960 was his warning to the American people regarding the danger that America’s military-industrial complex posed to our democratic processes. Eisenhower didn’t make it clear whether he was referring to the economic dimension associated with warfare-state spending or to the possibility of a military takeover here in the United States.

Of course, statists would say that there’s no way that Eisenhower would have been referring to the danger of a coup here in the United States. He would have had to be talking about the economic danger posed by ever-increasing spending on warfare-state programs, they would say. The United States is the last place where people would have to fear the danger of a military coup.

Eisenhower’s successor, John F. Kennedy, however, did not share that sentiment. Kennedy was truly concerned about the possibility of a military coup during his administration, especially given the deep animosity that the military and the CIA had toward his foreign policies, as I outlined in my article “The War Between JFK and the National-Security State.” Interestingly, while I may have missed it, I have never come across anyone who has mocked or ridiculed Kennedy for his concern over this possibility.
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Saudis to Unify Hardline Islamist Groups in Syria

Salafists

The speculations about Saudi Arabia climbing down on the regime change project in Syria in tandem with the United States’ diplomatic moves following up the Russian initiative on chemical weapons, can now be laid to rest. So indeed the animated talk in hushed tones in the regional capitals that spy chief Prince Bandar Sultan, who is piloting the Saudi project in Syria might be given the sack by King Abdullah.

After carefully weighing the options, the Saudis have apparently decided to press ahead with the project in Syria, no matter the twists and turns in the US policies. The UPI has carried a special report that Prince Bandar is being assigned to work on bringing together under Saudi control the hardline Islamist groups operating in Syria. 

The Saudis are actually fighting a proxy war in Syria aimed at containing Iranian influence. There have been reports that Prince Bandar recently visited Israel. Saudi Arabia and Israel have a congruence of interests in the containment of Iran. Recently, in his UN speech Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointedly referred to Israel and some unnamed Arab states working together.
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St. Tony Does Tirana...Again

Saint Tony

War has been very good to former British prime minister Tony Blair. He has gone from humble humanitarian interventionist pushing Iraq's "liberation," to a $30 million dollar yearly income and a private $11,000/hr jet plane. What a success story!

Of course he knew full well the evidence justifying the Iraq attack was bogus. He simply instructed his spooks to "find the intelligence" to support his decision to go to war. The US, desperate to show a broad international coalition supporting the Bush Administration's own lies about Iraq, welcomed Blair's lies like a long lost brother.

In the meantime, millions died and trillions of dollars went up in smoke. Never mind, Blair soon landed a brilliant opportunity with a huge South Korean oil company that, coincidentally enough, had significant interests in the "liberated" Iraq. For some strange reason, Tony Blair fought tooth and nail to keep his new job and great success secret. What modesty!
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Is Turkey on the Cusp of Rethink on Syria?

Erdogan

Through the past two-year period of turmoil in Syria, President Bashar Al-Assad has shown himself to be a master tactician who consistently outmaneuvered his regional adversaries. Syria has a tough neighborhood. Al-Assad’s regional adversaries are formidable people in their own ways. But he invariably pre-empted them, staying one step ahead of them, repeatedly forcing them onto the back foot and throwing into disarray their best-laid plots. 

That’s what makes his latest interview last week with the Turkish television channel Halk rather significant. Al-Assad came down very hard on Turkey’s Syria policies and on Prime Minister Recep Erdogan personally. He warned Ankara of a blowback of terrorism that it has been promoting in Syria – “In the near future these terrorists will have an impact on Turkey. Turkey will pay very dearly…” 

"All that he [Erdogan] says about Syria and its people is a heap of lies, that is all ... Erdoğan is doing nothing but supporting the terrorists," said al-Assad.
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Transforming America’s Schools into Authoritarian Instruments of Compliance

School Jail

These days, it is far too easy to rattle off the outrageous examples of zero tolerance policy run amok in our nation’s schools. A 14-year-old student arrested for texting in class. Three middle school aged boys in Florida thrown to the ground by police officers wielding rifles, who then arrested them for goofing off on the roof of the school. A 9-year-old boy suspended for allegedly pointing a toy at a classmate and saying “bang, bang.”

Two 6-year-old students in Maryland suspended for using their fingers as imaginary guns in a schoolyard game of cops and robbers. A 12-year-old New York student hauled out of school in handcuffs for doodling on her desk with an erasable marker. An 8-year-old boy suspended for making his hand into the shape of a gun, in violation of the school district’s policy prohibiting “playing with invisible guns.” A 17-year-old charged with a felony for keeping his tackle box in his car parked on school property, potentially derailing his chances of entering the Air Force. Two seventh graders in Virginia suspended for the rest of the school year for playing with airsoft guns in their own yard before school.
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An Opening to Iran?

Last week, for the first time since the 1979 Iranian revolution, the US president spoke with his Iranian counterpart. Their 15 minute telephone call was reported to open the door to further high-level discussions. This is a very important event.

I have been saying for years that we should just talk to the Iranians. After all, we talked to the Soviets when they actually had thousands of nuclear missiles pointed at us! The Iranians have none, according to our own intelligence services. I even suggested a few years ago that we should “offer friendship” to them. Unfortunately, so many so-called experts have a stake in keeping tensions high and pushing us to war. They did not want to hear what I was saying. It seems, though, this is beginning to change now with these recent events.
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