Friday, 31 May 2013

GMO today means “god move over”.

Move Over, God, The Biotech Companies Are Here
By Vandana Shiva
29 May, 2013
The Asian Age

Technologies are tools for doing or making things. They are a means to transform what nature has given into food, clothing, shelter, means of mobility, means of communication. Technology is a means to an end; it is not an end in itself.  But when we stop perceiving technology as a means mediating between nature and human needs and elevate it to an end in itself, we falsely give it the status of a religion. 

The Green Revolution bred seeds to respond to chemical fertilizers — they were called “miracle seeds”. The father of the Green Revolution, Norman Borlaug, called the 12 people he sent across the world to spread chemicals by introducing new seeds his “wheat apostles”. This is the discourse of religion, not of science and technology.

A consequence of making technology an end rather than a means is ignoring its impacts and failing to take responsibility for the harm it does to nature and people. The ultimate expression of irresponsibility is to create immunity for those who cause harm. A recent example is the Monsanto Protection Act in the US which allows agricultural companies such as Monsanto to ignore court orders against selling genetically-engineered seeds. Similarly, the Government of India has prepared a draft bill to establish the Biotechnology Regulatory Authority of India (BRAI). According to the bill, the authority will be an autonomous and statutory agency to regulate the research, transport, import, manufacture and use of organisms and products of modern biotechnology.

GMO today means “god move over”. But genetic engineering in not a game of Lego in which genes can be moved around without any impact on the organism or the environment. It is time to put nature and people back in the technology narrative. It is time to see technology as a tool, and not an end that defines a new fundamentalist religion through which corporations become the new gods.

Dr. Vandana Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist and eco feminist. She is the founder/director of Navdanya Research Foundation for Science, Technology, and Ecology. She is author of numerous books including, Soil Not Oil: Environmental Justice in an Age of Climate Crisis; Stolen Harvest: The Hijacking of the Global Food Supply; Earth Democracy: Justice, Sustainability, and Peace; and Staying Alive: Women, Ecology, and Development. Shiva has also served as an adviser to governments in India and abroad as well as NGOs, including the International Forum on Globalization, the Women’s Environment and Development Organization and the Third World Network. She has received numerous awards, including 1993 Right Livelihood Award (Alternative Nobel Prize) and the 2010 Sydney Peace Prize.

assange manning and silencing whistleblowers

read the transcript or watch the video.  a definite must read or must watch

Assange: U.S. Probe of WikiLeaks & "Show Trial" of Bradley Manning Aims to Scare Whistleblowers

Bradley Manning, the Army private accused of disclosing a trove of government documents and cables to WikiLeaks, is set to go on trial next week. Manning has already pleaded guilty to misusing classified material he felt "should become public," but has denied the top charge of aiding the enemy. Speaking from his refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy in London, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange calls Manning’s case "a show trial ... to terrorize people from communicating with journalists and communicating with the public." Assange also discusses his own legal status as he continues to evade extradition to Sweden. Assange fears that returning to Sweden would result in him being sent to the United States, where he fears a grand jury has secretly indicted him for publishing the diplomatic cables leaked by Manning. Click here to watch our web-only extended interview with Assange.

Thursday, 30 May 2013

press freedom .

The battle for Press Freedom has to be extended to defending  more than just he mainstream press that has finally woken up to  attacks on their freedom to operate. The battle for what is more than just a matter of Freedom for the Press has to include Assange Wikileaks and Manning. 

Glenn Greenwald  in the Guardian. 

Will journalists take any steps to defend against attacks on press freedom?

Media outlets have awakened to the serious threats posed to journalism, but show little sign of doing anything about it

Read the full article at:

Eric Holder
US attorney general Eric Holder faces questions about his department's investigation targeting phone records and data from the Associated Press and accusations of criminality against Fox News' James Rosen. Photograph: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
(updated below - Update II)
Media outlets and journalists have finally awakened to the serious threat posed by the Obama administration to press freedoms, whistle blowing and transparency. Apparently, what was necessary for them to be prodded out of their slumber was watching people they perceive as "one of them" have their emails secretly seized and be accused of serious felonies. The question now: what, if anything, will they do to defend the press freedoms they claim to value? By design, there are many options the press corps has for thwarting government attacks like these. Doing so requires a real adversary posture, renouncing their subservience to government interests and fear of alienating official sources. It remains to be seen whether any of that will happen.
What is clear is that, after the AP and especially the Fox/Rosen revelations, a real tipping point has been reached in establishment media circles in terms of how all of this is discussed. One now regularly encounters in the most mainstream circles rhetoric that, a short time ago, was the province of a small number of critics.
The New York Times editorial page warned last week that "the Obama administration has moved beyond protecting government secrets to threatening fundamental freedoms of the press to gather news." The Washington Post's Dana Milbank wrote that the Obama DOJ is "treat[ing] a reporter as a criminal for doing his job" and is thus "as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush's administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of."
So extreme is the revealed conduct that even the most conventional cable news chatterers, such as MSNBC's Chuck Todd, were able to process its significance: "They want to criminalize journalism", Todd noticed, adding: "if George Bush and Dick Cheney were doing this, imagine what candidate Obama would say. Candidate Obama would be unloading." The former long-time executive editor of the Washington Post, Leonard Downie, wrote that "the Obama administration's steadily escalating war on leaks" is "the most militant I have seen since the Nixon administration", and "has disregarded the First Amendment and intimidated a growing number of government sources of information — most of which would not be classified — that is vital for journalists to hold leaders accountable."
Meanwhile, the few places where one has previously found loud warnings and denunciations became even more strident in the wake of these recent revelations. "What's astonishing", explained the ACLU, is that "never before has the government argued that news gathering — in this case, asking a source to provide sensitive information — is itself illegal." The New York Times published a short essay from its former general counsel, James Goodale, warning that "until President Obama came into office, no one thought talking or emailing was not protected by the First Amendment"; "President Obama wants to criminalize the reporting of national security information"; and "it is a further example of how President Obama will surely pass President Richard Nixon as the worst president ever on issues of national security and press freedom" (my own NYT contribution on this matter was published alongside his).
So all that prompts the question of what journalists will do to compel the administration to cease these attacks on core press freedoms. If journalists aren't willing to defend these freedoms, who do they think will? The design of the American founding was that abuses of power would be prevented only by various factions fighting for their prerogatives and against encroachment by other power factions. When it comes to attacks on press freedoms, it's the responsibility of journalists, first and foremost, to fight against those attacks.

The Press’ Outrage Toward Obama Justice Department for Targeting Reporters in Leaks Investigations

By:  Tuesday May 28, 2013 11:27 am

he Justice Department’s seizure of the Associated Press’ phone records, along with criminalizing Fox News reporter James Rosen to pursue a leak investigation into a former State Department contractor, has led to media organizations making some of the most clear defenses of freedom of the press to date. It has inspired a healthy amount of disdain for the administration of President Barack Obama relationship with the press and how the administration’s zealous pursuit of leaks has had a chilling effect on investigative journalism.


Press should not only stick up for their own. Media outlets, especially establishment media, should defend their nearly absolute right to publish leaks and even reflect on the extent of cooperation with government when deciding to publish national security stories. It has not made government more willing to foster a climate conducive to investigative journalism but rather convinced officials in the Executive Branch that they have even more of a right to control what is reported as news.

Finally, it is time to recognize that when government targets anyone and all organizations entitled to protections under the First Amendment, they create threats to freedom of the press no matter who the individuals or organizations might be. The press collectively hung back over the past few years as the Obama administration waged a war on WikiLeaks.

Though the Post defended editor-in-chief Julian Assange’s right to publish in an editorial in December 2010, Nancy Youssef of McClatchy reported the following month, “The freedom of the press committee of the Overseas Press Club of America in New York City declared him “not one of us.” The Associated Press, which once filed legal briefs on Assange’s behalf, refuses to comment about him. And the National Press Club in Washington, the venue less than a year ago for an Assange news conference, has decided not to speak out about the possibility that he’ll be charged with a crime.”

While continuing to cite material released by WikiLeaks to supplement news stories, they have not come to WikiLeaks’ defense like they did in 2008 when Swiss bank, Julius Baer, filed a lawsuit against the media organization for publishing “hundreds of private documents on a land deal that suggested money laundering and tax evasion.” But, that is what must be done.

Information involving the nature of ongoing leak investigations, the number of times the administration has investigated journalists, details around every decision to subpoena reporters’ communications or records, any grand juries including the secret grand jury empaneled to investigate WikiLeaks, how the government continues to classify an enormous amount of information, secret policies or positions of the administration with regards to the press, etc, should all be pursued by the press in America.

From the AP to James Rosen to WikiLeaks, each are victims of abuses of government power that can only be checked and controlled by a press willing to regularly challenge power and assert its rights without compromise.

the legal subversion of sustainable societies.

Lawfare leads the rush of the lemmings !

How Corporations Are Subverting Attempts to Rein in Their Power

Citizens have won important policy victories only to be undermined by the growing web of international investment rules and arbitration courts.
Photo Credit:
In 2009, when the government of El Salvador refused to issue an environmental permit to a Canadian mining corporation, community activists in Las CabaƱas rejoiced. For years they had been fighting a pitched battle against the efforts of the company, Pacific Rim, to mine for gold in their region - plans that included the dumping of toxic arsenic in their rivers. It was not a campaign without risk. Four Salvadoran anti-mining activists have been assassinated in the course of their courageous efforts. That victory, however, may well prove to carry a high cost for the people of El Salvador. In a legal assault filed in a World Bank trade court, Pacific Rim is now demanding $315 million in compensation payments from the Salvadoran government, an amount equal to one third of the country’s annual education budget. 
That is just one example among many where citizens have fought for and won an important policy victory only to find that victory undermined by corporations using the growing web of international investment rules and arbitration courts. There are many others. Public health campaigners in Uruguay won a huge victory in 2010 when the national government passed new health laws to discourage tobacco consumption. Even though those new laws (including aggressive new warnings on cigarette packages) directly mirrored the guidelines of the World Health Organization, the U.S. corporate tobacco giant Philip Morris retaliated with a $2 billion legal action against the government.
Nowhere is this muscle-flexing by multinational corporations a greater threat than on issues related to sustainable development. The result is a little known but enormous legal obstacle planted directly in the policy path toward a sustainable future. The Democracy Center has just documented that threat in an important new report released this week: Unfair, Unsustainable and Under the Radar:  How Corporations Use Global Investment Rules to Undermine a Sustainable Future.
For many this system of corporate-driven investment rules and “dispute resolution” burst into public view a decade ago when Bechtel, the San Francisco-based engineering conglomerate, sued the people of Bolivia for $50 million following the now-famous Cochabamba Water Revolt, after investing just $1 million in the country. A global citizen campaign aimed at the corporation ultimately forced Bechtel to drop that case for a token payment of 30 cents. Yet in the years since, the pile of corporate cases has only grown ever higher.
Another typical current case features dangerous exposure to lead in Peru. When the national government there revoked the operating license for a smelter plant in La Oroyo (operated by Doe Run Peru) in July 2010, the health of the local population and the surrounding environment got some badly needed respite. The village, located high in the Peruvian Andes, has been declared one of the most polluted sites on earth, and in 2007 99% of the children under seven in the neighborhood closest to the town’s smelter had dangerously high levels of lead in their blood. The government deemed that Doe Run Peru’s failure to meet environmental cleanup commitments at the site constituted a breach of the country’s environmental legal standards. However Doe Run’s parent company, the Renco group, has other ideas. The corporation, owned by US billionaire Ira Rennert, has hit back with an $800 million damages claim, enough money to pay the yearly salaries of almost 15,000 Peruvian school teachers (or nearly 6,000 Peruvian health workers).
The world today is covered by an expanding web of over three thousand bilateral and multilateral trade and investment agreements. These agreements grant rights to corporations and allow them to sue governments for policy initiatives that they claim interfere with their profits. The resulting legal cases, despite their far-reaching local consequences, are settled far away and behind closed doors by a small group of unaccountable private lawyers in international dispute arbitration tribunals. Flying in the face of democratic principles and judicial independence, these tribunals operate with little or no public scrutiny and where the communities directly affected are denied a voice. 
The number of these investment cases has exploded in recent years, with 2012 breaking all records. By far the most popular tribunal system used by global corporations is the World Banks’ infamous International Center for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICISID).  Corporations can use this and other tribunal systems to demand hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation from governments – not just for what they have actually invested in a country, but also vast amounts more for the profits they expected to earn into the future. The lawyers at these tribunals move seamlessly from the role of ‘independent’ arbiter to that of corporate attorney.  Some have strong ties to multinational corporations and serious questions have been raisedabout their independence in an unaccountable system in which they have such a huge vested interest. Although previously used as a court of last resort by aggrieved investors, these tribunals have become the weapon of choice for corporations in their attempts to clear the path for profiting at the expense of public health and the environment.   

Today, just as communities in El Salvador and Peru have taken up the battle to protect their natural resources, a whole global movement is emerging to rethink the relationship between economic development and social and environmental well-being, and is pushing governments to take policy action in that urgent direction. This important shift, however, is in direct conflict with the interests of transnational corporations hard-wired to maximize short-term profit and pass on the environmental and social costs of their operations to others. The Democracy Center’s report puts a spotlight on how global corporations are using the investment rules system to undermine the policies essential to sustainable development and the democratic process essential to such policies.

Much as the deregulation of financial markets encouraged by the banking sector helped lead to economic collapse, the system of international investment rules works pushed by multinational corporations is leading us toward environmental collapse. As we hurtle towards a number of ominous tipping points in terms of many of the earth’s natural systems, there has never been a more urgent time for activists, academics, development workers and others to understand the legal and political barriers that block us from changing course. This de facto privatized justice system for big business is a massive such barrier that urgently needs to be brought down.

the media is paying the price for not crying wolf

By not crying Wolf   when they should have, the media are now paying the price as the public they dumbed down  stays dumb and silent. 

Welcome to the Freakshow

Media Gets Targeted by Obama, Discovers No One Cares Except the Media

I was watching the local network news one recent evening because apparently I like to torture myself. And what were they reporting on? Michael Jackson. My hometown paper, the Los Angeles Times, also ran a story that day, May 22, 2013, about Michael Jackson.
Don’t get me wrong. Jackson is and deserves to be a cultural icon. That’s fine. But he died four years ago, so why is it still in the news? Can anyone explain to me why mainstream American news outlets are still “breaking” news with obsessive zeal about a 4-year-old story that has no bearing on anyone’s life?
Maybe it’s journalistic laziness or whoring to the public’s base desire for sensationalism and depraved celebrity gossip. But the news media has a role to play and it’s not entertainment.
This leads me to more salient matters. While my local press corps was babbling about some ancient history-Michael Jackson-related minutia bullshit, another media storm was brewing. Apparently the Associated Press and Fox News recently found themselves on the business end of the Obama Administration’s hostility toward journalists. The AP learned the Justice Department searched troves of their phone records. Meantime, Fox News’ James Rosen had his personal email account scoured by the DOJ and he’s being called an “aider and abettor” and “co-conspirator” in a criminal case regarding classified document leaks.
So now, all of a magical sudden, the news media in this country seem to be waking up. After years of either promoting or ignoring George W. Bush’s, then Obama’s constant infringements on the civil liberties of average Americans, the media suddenly think it’s a scandal now that they’re the butt of it. But while the AP and Fox News aren’t the first, they’ve never caused a stir about the U.S. government’s abuse of journalists until it hit them in the face.
Yemeni investigative reporter Abdulelah Haider Shaye, who exposed a deadly U.S. bombing that killed dozens of women and children in the village of Majala, is sitting in prison after being convicted for terror-related charges in sham proceedings condemned by human rights groups worldwide. Thanks to public pressure, Shaye was about to be pardoned in 2011.
But in February that year, Obama personally called Yemen’s president and “expressed concern” over Shaye’s pending release, according to a White House summary of the phone call. As a result, Shaye continues to sit in prisons for doing his job as a reporter. He isn’t the only one. Under Bush, Al Jazeera journalist and cameraman Sami Al Hajj spent seven years in Gitmo. Pulitzer Prize winner Bilal Hussein was detained for two years by the U.S. military for doing his job – with cheerleading by the same right-wing blogosphere now howling over the attack on Fox’s Rosen.
I don’t recall any major news outlets reporting these cases despite the fact they’re obviously outrageous. In fact the first I heard of Hussein and Al-Hajj was in reading this eye-opening run-down in by Glenn Greenwald. (
I can personally recall recent instances where my local media corps sold out the public and kowtowed to authorities in direct opposition to their duties, causing members of the public to pay a painful price. When Occupy L.A. was raided at City Hall in November 2011, the Los Angeles Police Department told the media that they couldn’t cover it unless they were hand-selected by the LAPD. No one, not even the big dog in the room, the LA Times, took them to task on this, even though it was obviously unconstitutional.
Meantime the TV stations shut off their aerial camera feeds upon order by the LAPD. The result of this was, people were beaten and abused while in custody. Protesters had bones broken. But none of this made it into public view. Instead, reporters swarmed the next-day presser, eager to pepper the powerful with pandering, meaningless questions and hear the police chief and mayor crow about how smoothly things went. I guess it was smooth if you didn’t have your arm fractured by a bean bag gun, your ribs broken by a baton, or forced to piss on yourself while in custody. (
A similar thing happened during the Chris Dorner saga this February. At the culmination of their pursuit, with former LAPD officer Dorner pinned down in a Big Bear cabin, police told news outlets with aerial feeds to stop filming, so they did. We all know what happened next, because people listening to scanners had the presence of mind to record. The cops commenced with an apparently pre-planned “burn.” They fired incendiary devices into the cabin and Dorner burned inside. Would they have given that order if the news choppers were still filming overhead? Probably not. The media’s decisions to be obedient lapdogs to authority enabled authority to assume too much power, abuse protesters and extra-judicially execute someone.
Meantime, the reasons behind Dorner’s vendetta rang all-too-true to L.A.’s maltreated communities of color. His accusations of police brutality hit a nerve. But you don’t see L.A.’s news media aggressively digging into officer involved shootings, killings or beatings even though there is a history of police brutality in Los Angeles. If they report it, they usually source only the police, and they don’t follow up. They don’t put it in context. No one is held to task for the pattern of abuse on civil liberties and human rights in L.A.’s poorest neighborhoods. The police are given the benefit of the doubt, and people of color are treated like criminals. In fact, in an apparent collaboration with the LAPD, the media chose to redact the names of officers Dorner accused of being abusive when they published his “manifesto,” even though the un-redacted version was all over the Internet.
The American news media has made pandering to power standard practice when their mission should be speaking truth to power and “afflicting the comfortable, comforting the afflicted.” In fact, new Orange County Register co-owner and publisher Aaron Kushner flat out told his newsroom that the long-held journalistic credo of “afflicting the comfortable” no longer applies. This runs parallel with fantastic displays of incompetence like the flagrant misreporting of facts surrounding the Boston marathon bombing by the likes of CNN and New York Post.
The result? The public no longer believes much of what the media reports and any trust in the Fourth Estate to expose truth and provide a voice for the voiceless is shattered. So it seems the public no longer gives a shit about the media, and it’s the media’s own damned fault.
But the public should care about recent developments, even though I understand why it doesn’t. The decision by Obama’s Justice Department to go after domestic journalists is grave. Why? The way this country is set up is reporters are the check on government. When the government gets out of line, the role of the journalist is to call it. But, if the government grants itself the authority to criminalize journalists for performing that role, it weakens the institution intended to keep the government from abusing its power. And that’s exactly what’s happened. Setting the precedent of criminalizing the press means the federal government has given itself limitless and unchecked power.
The current administration has gone after more leakers than any other, and without leakers, investigative reporting doesn’t exist. Investigative reporting in this country brought to light and forced accountability for the My Lai massacre in Vietnam and the Watergate scandal that brought Nixon down. It revealed the human rights abuses at Abu Ghraib. Leaks by currently-incarcerated Bradley Manning to Wikileaks revealed the U.S. military fired on and killed a Reuters journalist and his team in Baghdad, among other “war on terror” atrocities.
People who leak government indiscretions and journalists who report it are the key to holding government accountable and limit it from overreaching its authority. They play a pivotal role in a functioning democracy and open society and are the gatekeepers against totalitarianism. The Rosen case is the first in U.S. history where the federal government has treated a domestic reporter as a full-scale criminal for doing his job as a reporter, while the AP phone record grab is the widest infringement on the working press in U.S. history. This is a chilling development. First Amendment, RIP.
Whether the general public cares or understands these implications isn’t clear. But from the comments I’ve seen surrounding these stories, doesn’t look like it. If the public doesn’t care, what defense do the media have? A bunch of policy wonks, university professors and civil liberties lawyers yammering on a high level about the role of the free press in a democracy don’t resonate with a cynical, over-worked, under-informed public accustomed to seeing partisan hacks and incompetent, hyperventilating sensationalists talking about Lindsay Lohan, tailing car chases or acting like the danger they’re personally in after leaving their comfortable offices is the story.

Maybe that’s why no one gives a shit when Associated Press phones are spied on. And Rosen’s plight is at least in part a result of his own employer’s cheerleading of their pal Bush’s PATRIOT Act. Oh, the irony. Maybe if both had done their jobs when Al-Hajj, Hussein and Shaye were persecuted, this wouldn’t have been able to happen in the first place.
It remains to be seen whether the media will start doing its job now that it’s been subjected to a small taste of what the public has been bludgeoned with for years via FISA, CISPA, the NDAA, the PATRIOT Act, et cetera. All these laws basically allow unlimited spying on and detention of Americans without any due process guaranteed by the Constitution. There are signs of hope, I guess. For instance, I noticed the LA Times reported about drones last week when Obama decided to talk about it at a press conference. Still, the media’s silence on these issues has been bizarre and disturbing, and it’s still bizarre and disturbing that they only start covering something when “officials” officially talk about it.
But then again, they also wrote about Michael Jackson. It’s such a hot mess. But why do I care? Maybe I should just take George Carlin’s advice and be happy to have a front-row seat to the freak show.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

terror wars fuel terror and Islamophobia

Britain's wars fuel terror. Denying it only feeds Islamophobia

Those who send British troops to shed blood in the Muslim world must share the blame for atrocities like Woolwich

British soldiers in Afghanistan
'The reason cited by the alleged Woolwich killers has been mostly brushed aside as unseemly to discuss.' Photograph: LA(Phot) Si Ethell/EPA
Eight years on, nothing has been learned. In the week since a British soldier was horrifically stabbed to death by London jihadists on the streets of Woolwich, it's July 2005 all over again. David Cameron immediately rushed to set up a task force and vowed to ban "hate clerics". Now the home secretary wants to outlaw "nonviolent extremist" organisations, censor broadcasters and websites and revive plans to put the whole country's phone and web records under surveillance.
"Kneejerk" barely does it justice. As for the impact on Muslims, the backlash has if anything been worse than in 2005, when 52 Londoners were killed by suicide bombers. As the police and a BBC reporter described the alleged killers as of "Muslim appearance" (in other words, non-white), Islamophobic attacks spiked across the country. In the first five days 10 mosques were attacked, culminating in a triple petrol bombing in Grimsby.
As politicians and the media congratulated themselves that Britain was "calmly carrying on as usual", it won't have felt like that to the Muslim woman who had her veil ripped off and was knocked unconscious in Bolton. Nor, presumably, to the family of 75-year-oldMohammed Saleem, stabbed to death in Birminghamin what had all the hallmarks of an Islamophobic attack last month – or, for that matter, the nearly two-thirds of the population who think there will be a "clash of civilisations" between white Britons and Muslims, up 9% since the Woolwich atrocity.
One key change since 2005 is the rise of the violently anti-Muslim English Defence League, given a new lease of life by Woolwich. More than 40% of Islamophobic incidents recorded by the Muslim organisation Faith Matters last year were linked to the EDL or other far-right groups. "It makes me feel I don't belong here", one Muslim community leader quotes his teenage son as telling him this week.
But almost nobody in public life mentions the war. The reason cited by the alleged Woolwich killers – the role of British troops in Afghanistan, Iraq and the war on terror – has been mostly brushed aside as unseemly to discuss. Echoing his predecessors, the prime minister insisted the Woolwich killing was "an attack on the British way of life". London mayor Boris Johnson declared there could be "no question" of blaming British foreign policy or "what British troops do in operations abroad".
Instead, the problem is once again said to be "Islamism", regardless of the string of democratic Islamist governments elected from Turkey to Tunisia. Or the focus is on the "mistakes" of MI5, as if any amount of spooking could detect the determination of an enraged takfiri killer to exact revenge with kitchen knives and meat cleavers. Whatever the focus, even to mention the western wars that drive these attacks is deemed to justify them.

Denial of the role of US-British wars, occupations and interventions in the Muslim world in fuelling terror attacks at home helps to get politicians off the hook. But it also plays into the hands of those blaming multiculturalism and migration, feeding racism and Islamophobia in the process. The wars should be ended because they are wrong and a failure – but also because they fuel terrorism and divide communities.

Those who carried out last week's killing are of course responsible for what they did. But those who have sent British troops to wage war in the Arab and Muslim world for more than a decade must share culpability.

understanding the american empire

A long article about the workings of  the American Empire.  It is detailed and definitely worth reading

Engineering Empire: An Introduction to the Intellectuals and Institutions of American Imperialism

Andrew Gavin Marshall I Geopolitics I Policy & Research I May 24th, 2013

Educating yourself about empire can be a challenging endeavor, especially since so much of the educational system is dedicated to avoiding the topic or justifying the actions of imperialism in the modern era. If one studies political science or economics, the subject might be discussed in a historical context, but rarely as a modern reality; media and government voices rarely speak on the subject, and even more rarely speak of it with direct and honest language. Instead, we exist in a society where institutions and individuals of power speak in coded language, using deceptive rhetoric with abstract meaning. We hear about 'democracy' and 'freedom' and 'security,' but so rarely about imperialism, domination, and exploitation.

The objective of this report is to provide an introduction to the institutional and social structure of American imperialism. The material is detailed, but should not be considered complete or even comprehensive; its purpose is to function as a resource or reference for those seeking to educate themselves about the modern imperial system. It's not an analysis of state policies or the effects of those policies, but rather, it is an examination of the institutions and individuals who advocate and implement imperial policies. What is revealed is a highly integrated and interconnected network of institutions and individuals - the foreign policy establishment - consisting of academics (so-called "experts" and "policy-oriented intellectuals") and prominent think tanks.

Think tanks bring together prominent academics, former top government officials, corporate executives, bankers, media representatives, foundation officials and other elites in an effort to establish consensus on issues of policy and strategy, to produce reports and recommendations for policy-makers, functioning as recruitment centers for those who are selected to key government positions where they have the ability to implement policies. Thus, think tanks function as the intellectual engines of empire: they establish consensus among elites, provide policy prescriptions, strategic recommendations, and the personnel required to implement imperial policies through government agencies.

Among the most prominent American and international think tanks are the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), the Bilderberg meetings, the Trilateral Commission, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), the Brookings Institution, the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and the Atlantic Council. These institutions tend to rely upon funding from major foundations (such as Rockefeller, Ford, Carnegie, etc.) as well as corporations and financial institutions, and even various government agencies. There is an extensive crossover in leadership and membership between these institutions, and between them and their funders.

Roughly focusing on the period from the early 1970s until today, what emerges from this research is a highly integrated network of foreign policy elites, with individuals like Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Brent Scowcroft, and Joseph Nye figuring prominently in sitting at the center of the American imperial establishment over the course of decades, with powerful corporate and financial patrons such as the Rockefeller family existing in the background of American power structures.

Meet the Engineers of Empire
Within the U.S. government, the National Security Council (NSC) functions as the main planning group, devising strategy and policies for the operation of American power in the world. The NSC coordinates multiple other government agencies, bringing together the secretaries of the State and Defense Departments, the CIA, NSA, Joint Chiefs of Staff, and various other government bodies, with meetings directed by the National Security Adviser, who is generally one of the president's most trusted and influential advisers. In several administrations, the National Security Adviser became the most influential voice and policy-maker to do with foreign policy, such as during the Nixon administration (with Henry Kissinger) and the Carter administration (with Zbigniew Brzezinski).

While both of these individuals were top government officials in the 1970s, their influence has not declined in the decades since they held such positions. In fact, it could be argued that both of their influence (along with several other foreign policy elites) has increased with their time outside of government. In fact, in a January 2013 interview with The Hill, Brzezinski stated: "To be perfectly frank - and you may not believe me - I really wasn't at all conscious of the fact that the defeat of the Carter administration [in 1980] somehow or another affected significantly my own standing... I just kept doing my thing minus the Office of the National Security Adviser in the White House." [1]

David Rothkopf has written the official history of the National Security Council (NSC) in his book,Running the World: The Inside Story of the National Security Council and the Architects of American Power, published in 2005. Rothkopf writes from an insiders perspective, being a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment, he was Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade Policy and Development in the Clinton administration, and is currently president and CEO of Garten Rothkopf, an international advisory firm, CEO of Foreign Policy magazine, previously CEO of Intellibridge Corporation, and was also a managing director at Kissinger Associates, an international advisory firm founded and run by Henry Kissinger. In his book on the NSC, Rothkopf noted that, "[e]very single national security advisor since Kissinger is, in fact, within two degrees of Kissinger," referring to the fact that they have all "worked with him as aides, on his staff, or directly with him in some capacity," or worked for someone in those categories (hence, within "two degrees").[2]

For example, General Brent Scowcroft, who was National Security Advisor (NSA) under Presidents Ford and George H.W. Bush, was Kissinger's Deputy National Security Advisor in the Nixon administration; Zbigniew Brzezinski, Carter's NSA, served on the faculty of Harvard with Kissinger, also served with Kissinger on the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board during the Reagan administration, both of them are also members (and were at times, board members) of the Council on Foreign Relations, as well as members of the Trilateral Commission, and they are both currently trustees of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). Other NSA's with connections to Kissinger include: Richard Allen, NSA under Reagan, who worked for Kissinger in the Nixon administration; William P. Clark, NSA under Reagan, who worked for Kissinger's former aide, Alexander Haig at the State Department; Robert McFarlane, also NSA under Reagan, worked with Kissinger in the Nixon administration; John Poindexter, also NSA for Reagan, was McFarlane's deputy; Frank Carlucci, also NSA in the Reagan administration, worked for Kissinger in the Nixon administration; Colin Powell, NSA for Reagan (and Secretary of State for George W. Bush), worked for Carlucci as his deputy; Anthony Lake, Clinton's NSA, worked directly for Kissinger; Samuel Berger, also NSA for Clinton, was Lake's deputy; Condoleezza Rice, NSA for George W. Bush, worked on Scowcroft's NSC staff; and Stephen Hadley also worked for Kissinger directly.[3]
The foreign policy establishment consists of the top officials of the key government agencies concerned with managing foreign policy (State Department, Pentagon, CIA, NSC), drawing upon officials from within the think tank community, where they become well acquainted with corporate and financial elites, and thus, become familiar with the interests of this group of people. Upon leaving high office, these officials often return to leadership positions within the think tank community, join corporate boards, and/or establish their own international advisory firms where they charge hefty fees to provide corporations and banks with strategic advice and use of their international political contacts (which they acquired through their time in office). Further, these individuals also regularly appear in the media to provide commentary on international affairs as 'independent experts' and are routinely recruited to serve as 'outside' advisors to presidents and other high-level officials.
No less significant in assessing influence within the foreign policy establishment is the relative proximity - and relationships - individuals have with deeply entrenched power structures, notably financial and corporate dynasties. Arguably, both Kissinger and Brzezinski are two of the most influential individuals within the foreign policy elite networks. Certainly of no detriment to their careers was the fact that both cultivated close working and personal relationships with what can be said to be America's most powerful dynasty, the Rockefeller family.


In 1997, Brzezinski published a book outlining his strategic vision for America's role in the world, entitled The Grand Chessboard. He wrote that "the chief geopolitical prize" for America was 'Eurasia,' referring to the connected landmass of Asia and Europe: "how America 'manages' Eurasia is critical. Eurasia is the globe's largest continent and is geopolitically axial. A power that dominates Eurasia would control two of the world's three most advanced and economically productive regions. A mere glance at the map also suggests that control over Eurasia would almost automatically entail African subordination."[23] The "twin interests" of the United States, wrote Brzezinski, were, "in the short-term preservation of its unique global power and in the long-run transformation of it into increasingly institutionalized global cooperation." Brzezinski then wrote:

To put it in a terminology that hearkens back to the more brutal age of ancient empires, the three grand imperatives of imperial geostrategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.[24]


Power, they wrote, "is the ability to influence the behavior of others to get a desired outcome," noting the necessity of "hard power" - military and economic strength - but, while "[t]here is no other global power... American hard power does not always translate into influence." While technological advances "have made weapons more precise, they have also become more destructive, thereby increasing the political and social costs of using military force." Modern communications, they noted, "diminished the fog of war," which is to say that they have facilitated more effective communication and management in war-time, "but also heightened the atomized political consciousness," which is to say that it has allowed populations all over the world to gain access to information and communication outside the selectivity of traditional institutions of power.[49]

These trends "have made power less tangible and coercion less effective." The report noted: "Machiavelli said it was safer to be feared than to be loved. Today, in the global information age, it is better to be both." Thus, "soft power... is the ability to attract people to our side without coercion," making "legitimacy" the central concept of soft power. As such, if nations and people believe "American objectives to be legitimate, we are more likely to persuade them to follow our lead without using threats and bribes." Noting that America's "enemies" in the world are largely non-state actors and groups who "control no territory, hold few assets, and sprout new leaders for each one that is killed," victory becomes problematic: "Militaries are well suited to defeating states, but they are often poor instruments to fight ideas." Thus, victory in the modern world "depends on attracting foreign populations to our side," of which 'soft power' is a necessity. [50]


Empires don't just happen; they are constructed. They can also be deconstructed and dismantled, but that doesn't just happen either. Opposing empire is not a passive act: it requires dedication and information, action and reaction. As relatively privileged individuals in western state-capitalist societies, we have both the opportunity and the responsibility to understand and oppose what our governments do abroad, how they treat the people of the world, how they engage with the world. It is our responsibility to do something, precisely because we have the opportunity to do so, unlike the majority of the world's population who live in abject poverty, under ruthless dictators that we arm and maintain, in countries we bomb and regions we dominate. We exist in the epicenter of empire, and thus: we are the only ones capable of ending empire.

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

for all us 'painters with light' - photograpers and aritsts

We take light through the skin and create vitamin D,” Turrell says. “So we are literally light eaters. But then it also has a strong emotional quality, which is pretty much what I work with—the kind of situation that’s actually a theta state, which is thinking, but it’s not thinking in words. So this is an art that can be a bit difficult describing. And that’s also where people have always had that challenge with: [describing] the spiritual side of light.”

A modern day 'jantar mantar'  plus ?

Mad Genius Buys Volcano, Transforms It Into Naked-Eye Observatory

Way out on the edge of the Painted Desert in Arizona, 70-year-old Californian artist James Turrell has spent the past three decades excavating a 389,000-year-old extinct volcano. Roden Crater, as it’s known, is Turrell’s magnum opus. Whenever it’s finally complete, this black and red cinder caldera will be a monumental naked-eye observatory to surpass any throughout history.
Inside, the crater’s naturally lit viewing rooms are precision-engineered to observe specific celestial events. While outside, Turrell has reformed the rim of the crater to create a beautiful “vaulting effect” of the sky in a way that we almost never see it.
“I’m very interested in how we perceive, because that’s how we construct the reality in which we live,” Turrell says, “and I like to tweak that a little bit. I make structures that arrest and apprehend light for our perception.”
His work is the subject of three major retrospectives this summer, opening at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this past weekend, the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston on June 9, and the Guggenheim in New York City June 21.
Even without Roden Crater, Turrell’s reputation in the art world is enormous—he’s one of the first visual artists awarded a MacArthur “genius” fellowship. But what sets him apart is his multidimensional approach. He’s a true polymath, fluent in engineering, mathematics, astronomy, history, literature, aviation (Turrell is an avid pilot; it’s how he went looking for Roden Crater) and ranching (a necessary requirement of his bank loan on the crater’s land).
Witness him describing his favorite subject.
“We take light through the skin and create vitamin D,” Turrell says. “So we are literally light eaters. But then it also has a strong emotional quality, which is pretty much what I work with—the kind of situation that’s actually a theta state, which is thinking, but it’s not thinking in words. So this is an art that can be a bit difficult describing. And that’s also where people have always had that challenge with: [describing] the spiritual side of light.”
As an undergrad Turrell studied perceptual psychology, then pursued his master’s degree in fine art at UC Irvine. His revelation came in his first semester, when he found himself more interested in the projector’s light dancing in the darkness than the slides it was showing. He’s said that all painting, from Rembrandt to Rothko, is the study of light. But Turrell doesn’t make art that’s about light; he’s literally gotten rid of the object and made it the subject. His art is light.
Turrell’s gallery work—brilliantly colored walls, cubes, holograms, tunnels, seamless spaces of light known as Ganzfelds, mysterious voids of glowing geometric perfection—all force viewers to question how they are seeing what they’re seeing. Turrell wants us to recognize what he calls “the thingness of light.” In his hands, it can appear to occupy space in our world through shapes. Or it can conjure the colors of sunrise and twilight. Taking it away can evoke our primal senses, as if we’re back in our ancestors’ caves.
He can also change the color of the sky entirely. Turrell has built 82 Skypaces worldwide—including at a Quaker meetinghouse in Houston. (Turrell grew up in the faith; his grandmother used to tell him to “go inside and greet the light.”) When the sky that’s seen through a small cutout in the roof contrasts with varying colors projected inside, it appears to come down into the room imbibed with a beautifully foreign, inky black tint.
“We all know that the sky is blue, but many of us don’t realize that we give the sky its blueness,” Turrell says. “And it’s only because we do that that I can change it.”
And after 48 years of this perceptual study, what’s it feel like for him to look back on a life’s work so far?
“There are things that I enjoy seeing that I haven’t seen for a while, and others that I wonder what I was doing—what I was thinking,” he says.
Each of the upcoming exhibitions illuminates different aspects of Turrell’s work. LACMA spans his entire career, and features a new Ganzfeld and one of his epic Perceptual Cells, where viewers lie prone in an enclosed chamber and get bombarded with a furious medley of colors. MFA Houston displays seven of Turrell’s popular installations, while the Guggenheim will feature a giant original work inside the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed rotunda.
As for Roden Crater, like many grandiose works of art, its completion date is continually pushed back. In fact, it no longer has one—it may be the Sagrada Familia of the New World. But though funding the crater has always been stop-start since its beginning, Turrell remains upbeat.
“I committed to the fact that I was going to open it in the year 2000, and I stick with that,” he says, satirically.