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empire burlesque



Atlantic Free Press Closing Doors
Dear Readers,
It's been six years and over 13,000 articles published by some 250 of the world's finest politically progressive writers - some 20 per cent with Ph.D.s. 
It's been a labour of love for myself, doing my thing to help educate people to ideas that I believe needed to be shared - and some 2.5 million people read articles  on this site over the years.
In 2011 Atlantic Free Press won a Computerworld Honors Laureate for Innovation -  honoured for visionary application of IT to promote positive social, economic and educational change including category co-winners from NASA and Duke University.
It's a fitting last act for Atlantic Free Press. And I say finale because I can no longer afford the time to dedicate to AFP with a young family and a career in technology that's just become to big a part of my life to pull the time needed to run this site pro bono. Thanks to all those who helped donate over the years - but this project still cost me money in server bills. I was just not able to make it a commercial viability.
I will of course leave the site up for posterity. If anyone is interested, feel free to contact me.
Pacific Free Press will live on - edited by Chris Cook in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. Please visit him and the writers there and feel free to contact Chris if you would like to write for Pacific Free Press. editor@pacificfreepress.com
Richard Kastelein
“I Pledge to Discriminate and Support Bigotry, So Help Me God…”
by Mel Seesholtz Ph.D.
Economic End Times - Lendman
In fact, growth indicators overall are rapidly heading south at a time they're already woefully weak. There's no end to decline in sight. Remarkably, negative household assessments of government policy hit record lows, surpassing the depths of the early 1980s recession and Watergate.
Interview Interview with Abolghasem Bayyenat on Iran-West relations, the politics of Israel's nuclear program and Iran's foreign policy
by Kourosh Ziabari
Abolghasem Bayyenat is an independent political analyst writing mainly on Iran’s foreign policy developments. Over the past decade, his political commentaries and articles have appeared in numerous popular media and online journals, including Foreign Policy Journal, Foreign Policy In Focus, Monthly Review, Eurasia Review, AntiWar.com, Tehran Times, Middle East Online, San Francisco Chronicle, Online Opinion, American Chronicle, and a number of other national newspapers and online journals across the world. He has also published a number of book chapters and articles in academic journals. Besides academic studies in political science and international relations, he has also practical experience in international diplomacy. In the past, he has worked for several years as international trade expert and researcher in Iran, as part of which he was involved in various bilateral and multilateral trade negotiations between Iran and its trade partners around the world. He is currently completing his Ph. D studies in political science at Maxwell School of Syracuse University. His latest articles can also be read on his own blog at www.irandiplomacywatch.com.
The reasons why Iran's nuclear program has become controversial are twofold. First, Iran's decision to materialize its rights under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop peaceful applications of nuclear technology and nuclear fuel cycle in particular; what can make this controversial in the eyes of Western powers is the dual use of nuclear technology. Possessing full nuclear fuel cycle technology enables states to produce the material needed for ultimate use in nuclear weapons. Building nuclear bombs of course requires much more than just possessing sufficient stock of highly-enriched uranium or plutonium, but mastering this technology enables such states to make the essential ingredients for a bomb and thus become closer to building nuclear warheads.
Aftermath of Israeli Anti-Free Speech Law Passage
Another measure proposes giving Knesset members veto power over High Court nominations. Likud's Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar called it "dangerous, problematic, and creates a clear hazard of politicizing" justice nominations.
Media Warfare and Everyday Life
by Bruce Campbell Ph.D.

In the U.S., Rupert Murdoch's global News Corporation owns The Wall Street Journal, Fox News, the New York Post, MySpace.com, Barron's, TVGuide, HarperCollins Publishers, and 20th Century Fox, to name just a few of its extensive holdings.  Amid revelations that News Corporation media entities hacked into the phone and medical accounts of British elected officials and private citizens, a former New York City cop alleges that he was approached by News Corporation employees who sought illegal access to the phone accounts of Americans killed in the 9/11 attacks.

This is an ugly glimpse of the truth behind the liberal vs. conservative "culture wars" happily promoted by Murdoch's media enterprises and other corporate media concerns.  The true culture war is not about religion or family values; it is about communication itself.

Like it or not, you and I are combatants in a society-wide conflict over the means and ends of communication. Murdoch's News Corporation is the paradigm case.  We must recognize this conflict and deliberately and collaboratively defend ourselves. I will call this conflict media warfare. Let me explain.

Media are not corporations but those conduits of communication and cultural diffusion that are the modern internal wiring of the cultural landscape through which we move in our everyday lives.   This cultural circuitry is not the problem, at least not by itself.  Media by themselves - each medium a distinct channel of our collective messaging - could (and should) serve to ease and extend and give specific form to our efforts to interact meaningfully with each other.

The conflict arises when speech and creativity are overrun by interests alien to our non-commercial and non-ideological interpersonal needs, to our concrete family and community interests.  The problem, in other words, occurs when corporate interests use the media to sideline, or to subordinate and control, the emotional and social and democratic needs and purposes that require that we communicate with each other and create meaning together in the first place.

Without these basic human needs, we would have nothing to say to each other.  If not for profit- and power-seeking interests commandeering the channels of communication, we wouldn't so frequently feel powerless and under siege.

Media warfare, in short, results from the occupation of our communication circuits by powers indifferent or even hostile to the traditions and relationships that sustain human life in healthy community.  The media of communication are both the battlefield and the spoils of war.  This is media warfare.  And we are losing.

On one side, forces that would marginalize or bend our communication to the service of their strategies for concentrating profit and power; on the other side, people who engage the means of communication in order to understand, to reciprocate, to support, to learn, to discuss, and to participate in an open-ended conversation about common interests.

Which side are you on?

You were likely already aware of the incoming cultural ordnance: The News hits us daily. That capital "N" marks information as worthy of your attention, but is also a sign common to all news that is packaged and distributed as a corporate product, whether as CBS News, FOX News, or CNN News.

With the occasional exception of carefully selected "human interest stories," the News is an angst-ridden shock-and-awe affair.  Crime, natural disasters, and people suffering and behaving badly are placed at the center of our attention.  Scandals, tragedies and controversies explode all around, preferably involving sex and/or celebrity.  These stories frequently generate their own sequels and prequels, cluster bombs of ancillary emotional distress strewn about the media market.  One can only imagine how News Corporation agents might have sought to amplify and extend the tragedy and horror of the 9/11 terrorist attacks by publishing the private communication of victims.

The political News centers frequently on those most divisive issues that allow for easy distinction between the two major political parties.  Witness the "culture wars" central to News Corporation's business and political interests. Into this simplistic polarity all of our hopes and dreams for collective life are herded. We are barraged by the opinions of professional ideologues who publicly digest the News-with-a-capital-N on your and my behalf.

The point is not that the News is untrue (although, as it turns out, sometimes it is untrue).  The point is that the News is based on a business model that recognizes fear and anger and titillation (and simplistic either/or politics in a two-party political system) as building blocks for market share, and hence for profit and ideological dominance.  Most of us, meanwhile, just want to inform ourselves, to learn about and understand what is happening in our society and beyond.

Amid the clamor of the News, one can easily fail to notice the rarity of news of such things as the policy arguments of social movements and third parties, the existence of citizens forums, emerging neighborhood development issues, city council meetings, union meetings, neighborhood association meetings, civic initiatives and perspectives of young people, scientific studies and their policy implications (of soil and water quality, of early childhood development, etc.), historical perspectives on issues of the day, or a broad range of civic activity organized in and by the communities of the viewing public.

In short, what tends to be excluded from the corporate News is what could be called actionable news, reporting that facilitates participation by everyday people in existing democratic processes, involvement in local or regional social action, and/or informed engagement in meaningful public conversation about the common good and how this is reflected (or not) in public policy. Instead, the News promotes consumer action, with reporting about the opening of a new shopping mall, the debut of a blockbuster movie, or the like.

We are nearly exclusively on the receiving end in these episodes of communication, which are vertical and unilateral, and are now relayed far beyond the once primitive reach of television and newspapers, through the inter-locking networks of websites, blogs, cable news programming, and social media.  Despite our horizontal and multi-lateral ability to "post" and "tweet" to our own social networks, the flow of communication is heavily unidirectional, and we are shaped by the impact.  Vertical and unilateral decisions lurk behind the apparently friendly and interpersonal surfaces of Facebook communications.  Hey you - hails the machine - a dozen of your friends "like" white teeth.  Are your teeth white enough?

"But in what sense is this warfare?," a reasonable person might ask.

In the sense that our way of life is under attack.  I do not mean the "American way of life," as reported on the News.  I mean the way of life of people who engage the means of communication in order to understand, to reciprocate, to support, to learn, to discuss, and to participate in an open-ended conversation about common interests and diverse perspectives.

We are preoccupied, outraged, fearful, titillated, and suspicious in measures grotesquely disproportionate to what we are able (or allowed) to do about what concerns us.  We like to think of ourselves as reasonable people, but are stirred up and instigated, our limbic systems activated and fed on fear, despondency, libidinous excitement and anger.  Any concept of human nature we might hold that is not driven by the implicit theology of the News - i.e., death, destruction, selfishness and mayhem at the dark core of humanity - is ritually slain by nightfall each day.

So what to do?  For starters, we need to recognize that the empowerment afforded by social media sites is limited, and maybe even compensatory, a taste of something that is otherwise not allowed.  Instead of trying to "like" our way to defense of our communication needs, we must engage directly and actively with a growing conversation about policy mechanisms for limiting vertical, corporate control of our cultural environment, and for expanding and diversifying local community participation and ownership. Most importantly, we must think.  One of the purposes of communication is to think together, to deliberate, to participate in dialogue, to imagine possibilities for our collective life.  This is what the News asks us to forget.

Bruce Campbell teaches Cultural Criticism, among other things, at St. John's University in Collegeville, MN.  His most recent book is ¡Viva la historieta!: Mexican Comics, NAFTA, and the Politics of Globalization.  
Empire or Republic: from Joplin, Missouri to Kabul, Afghanistan
by James Petras Ph.D.


The current activity of HS destroys lives abroad and neglects survival at home: It has nothing to do with our “homeland” and even less with our “security”. Five percent of HS budget would have prevented many of Joplin’s ‘tragedy’ (and saved us from Obama’s gaseous oratory!) and the other 400 deaths from this year’s crop of tornadoes.
Public Education: How To Improve It and Cut The Cost
by Peter Stern
The Fight Against a Mediocre Public Education is NOT working. We all know it.
• Increase teacher salaries and benefits.
Warning: This Message Contains Democracy
by Susan Lindauer
According to history buff, Alan Batterman, the German word for “Gestapo” is an acronym of GEheim STAdt POlezi.
God Bless America. And its Bombs.
by William Blum

The Targets

The survivors

The fall of the American Empire would offer a new beginning for the long-suffering American people and the long-suffering world.
Monsoon - The Indian Ocean and the Future of American Power- Book Review by Jim Miles
 When I first read Robert Kaplan, it was shortly after 9/11 when a whole library of books became available about U.S. foreign policy and how it should deal with the terrorist threat presented to the U.S. and democracy. At that time, in his work “Warrior Politics” he reasonably recognizes that his perspective is but one of many and none can be truly objective. He recognized the reality of the “American imperium” in terms that imperialism is the “most ordinary and dependable form of protection for ethnic minorities and others under violent assault,” and “an imperial reality already dominates our foreign policy.” Towards the end of the work he quotes Zbigniew Brzezinski, “Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilization,” and follows with his own summation that “the restraining power of our own democracy makes it hard for us to demand and orchestrate authentic transitions everywhere. Only through stealth and anxious foresight can America create a secure international system.”
There are areas of context and interpretation that do limit the text. Two of his main sub-themes are Islamic terrorism and democracy, and for both he makes statements that are almost ‘aha’ moments, but then are left hanging without actually making it into deeper connections. Further from apparent awareness, although perhaps lingering constantly in the background, is the very empire which he identified earlier as not being given its due background for the region. Other empires - Portugal, Dutch, British, French, Japanese - are all included for the influence they have had on the region, but little is discussed of U.S. actions, covert and overt, in the region, past or present. In the manner in which his information is presented, it makes little difference to the agreeable nature of the narrative, but it needs to be kept in mind while reading that there is much of the overall general context of the U.S. imperium that is not discussed. Diego Garcia is one of the singular misses, the island nation given to the U.S. military by Britain while the indigenous Chagossians were evicted from the island and not compensated. Ethnic cleansing? Racism? Empire? Certainly far from “the restraining power of our own democracy.”
Interstates And States of Grief
by Phil Rockstroh

I’m in Atlanta, Georgia, at present, among the scent of pine trees and the reek of southern denial. The moribund economy has thwarted the city’s manic drive to silence its resentful ghosts by means of constant motion … Below the lilting southern accents here, one detects rage … Not simply the ubiquitous hate-speak on right-wing talk radio. But an animus bred by truth-deferred … that southern pride is a lie of the mind — a blown banner … foisted skyward to distract the minds of my fellow southerners from the ground level truths of a system rigged to enrich the privileged few and keep the many working for their benefit. (How do you think they filled the ranks of the Confederate Army to kill and die for the rights of rich men to own slaves.)

I arrived in Georgia by route of the US interstate system.

Traveling US interstate highways one suffers a confluence of so much contemporary madness and tragedy extant in the land … so much suppressed fear and aggression. Yet, through it all, the heart still yearns to see what lies over the next horizon.
Although, lamentably, what is revealed, all to often, proves to be as sterile, inhospitable, ugly, and inhuman as what was beheld at the last.

"Who has twisted us around like this, so that no matter what we do, we are in the posture of someone going away?"
- Rainer Maria Rilke

The apologists of the present system tell us ad nauseam, and have convinced most, that a similar disastrous fate will befall the nation if the engines of global capitalism were to slow down even a bit. Interstate travel is emblematic of the manner a system based on ceaseless production and manic consumption degrades the senses and inflicts a dehumanizing assault upon the psyche.

When stopped at an anonymous interstate service island or some off-the-exit-ramp retail strip — those inhospitable nether regions evincing a paradoxical mix of sterility and toxicity — the permeating odor of exhaust fumes and processed food makes us woozy. These places, only distinct for their ugliness, reek of how soul-numbing and joyless travel has become . . . now a task nearly devoid of any sense of the mystery, the option of exploration, or the possibility of serendipity travel once offered.

Travel has been reduced to a tedious ordeal, whereby our inchoate longings to escape the quotidian prison of our economically circumscribed existence are mangled and suppressed, only to rise as the hollow appetite of reflexive consumerism and the ineffable sense of unease, so evident in the troubled American psyche.

Enclosed in our vehicles, we hurdle from one sterile, impersonal location to the next sterile, impersonal location, and then on to the next. As forbiddingly huge trucks, loaded with the cargo of extinction, bear down on us, we grip the steering wheel -- we know to stop is to risk death therefore we continue onward, believing we must drive and consume and drive and consume in order to survive. Yet the knowledge nettles, just below the surface of our harried minds, that to continue down this road will, in turn, cause the world to die.

Even the landscape itself of the US is stretched to the breaking point: Cluttered upon it are gigantic islands of garish light that torment the night …scouring away the stars. As, all the while, SUVs and oversized pickup trucks -- the overgrown clown cars of the demented circus of decaying empire trundle past -- the extravagant size of the vehicles vainly compensating for how diminished and powerless those within feel in relationship to the course of their fates.
Naseer Aruri Ph.D.: No politician with an "anti-Zionist mindset" could ever dream of living in the White House
NA: I think that the answer to your question is embedded in the question itself. Moreover, the PLO should have never accepted the stipulation that it is a terrorist organization which must "renounce" and not "denounce" as Arafat had attempted unsuccessfully and reminded about the crucial difference between the two concepts. The assumption that the US was a judge and jury while at the same time a chief armed supplier, bank roller, and diplomatic backer was unfortunately accepted by the PLO leadership since the 1980s  and should not have been a surprise when the so-called Palestine papers were released and leaked out quite recently. Under both Arafat and Abbas, the PLO concessions were bottomless and these concessions had only encouraged Israel to throw more obstacles to peace and to encourage Washington to act as a "Dishonest Broker."
‘Matter of Policy’: Gaza War and Goldstone’s Moral Collapse
by Ramzy Baroud

Shocking is not a sufficient term to describe Justice Richard Goldstone’s decision to recant parts of the 2009 report on alleged war crimes in Gaza.
More, the UN team of experts claimed there was “no indication that Israel has opened investigations into the actions of those who designed, planned, ordered and oversaw Operation Cast Lead.”
Now Israel Is Free to Declare Its Innocence before the International Court of Justice
by William A. Cook Ph.D.

Thank God Judge Goldstone recanted his judgment on Israel and its IDF forces in the slaughter inflicted on Gaza during its Christmas invasion in 2008-2009; both are now innocent of wrongful intent to kill Palestinian civilians since the Israeli military courts investigated Goldstone’s allegations and determined he was wrong. Now the good Judge has found, with the military court, that the Israeli government, that refused to cooperate with the United Nations investigation, did not intentionally send its forces to kill and destroy but only to kill and destroy Gaza; that the civilians were killed is simply a sad consequence of war. How astute, how learned, how compassionate; how absurd, how facetious, how despicable.
Consider the facts as articulated by the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs as it labeled Cast Lead as Hamas war against Israel[My apologies; I’m interjecting a subjective comment on Israel’s calling Operation Cast Lead “Hamas’ war against Israel.” In the 8 years preceding Cast Lead, Hamas or other resistance groups in Gaza, fired 6000 home made rockets at Israel, roughly 750 a year, or 62.5 per month or 2 per day. Twenty three people were killed. In that same period Israel killed more than 1000 Palestinian children and in Cast Lead killed an additional 352. A total of 1084 Israelis were killed between 2000 and 2008, but 6430 Palestinians were killed. Yet it was Hamas’ war against Israel. One final observation: Israel’s launch of one of its American supplied missiles that cost $300,000, a fraction of the 8.2 million per day we supply to Israel’s military, a precision state of the art weapon that hit a home where the IDF ordered people to go, in less than one minute killed 21 members of the Samouni family, nine of them children.] (figures from ifamericansknew.org and see this author’s article “Consider the Realities of Gaza,” Counterpunch, Jan. 5, 2009). Back to our sources and let the reader be judge.
USAID Sides With Chevron Against Niger Delta Rebels - works to create new enemies among Ijo and Ogoni tribes
by Matthew Nasuti

In February 2011, in a little known development, the Obama Administration decided to seek new enemies abroad by choosing sides in a low level civil war being waged in southern Nigeria. Astonishingly, the U.S. State Department has publicly allied itself with oil giant Chevron, which is the target of a guerrilla war being waged by the fifteen (15) million Ijo tribesmen in the Niger River Delta.

Chevron is accused of environmental devastation, theft of resources and corruption.

While the formal U.S./Chevron alliance in Nigeria is new, the ties between senior Obama Administration officials and Chevon are long standing. On August 9, 2009, Hillary Clinton, while traveling in Angola, proclaimed that she and Chevron share “a common vision.”

Chevron pipelines and personnel in the Delta have been under attack for twenty years by local tribesman. What occurred in Nigeria in February 2011, is that the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) entered into a partnership with Chevron Corporation. USAID contributed $25 million for a joint public relations effort called “the “Niger Delta Partnership Initiative.” Chevron press releases have since trumpeted the U.S./Chevron alliance. Chevron, which has an unsavory reputation within some segments of Nigerian society, is seeking to bolster its image by allying itself with the United States.

The Niger Delta dispute first came to the world’s attention in the early 1990's. At that time the one million plus Ogoni people had begun a mass peaceful protest against Shell Oil due to alleged environmental crimes. Led by poet/writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, the Ogoni pacifist movement came under increasing violent attack by government militias. In 1993, Mr. Saro-Wiwa was arrested, 2,000 Ogoni were massacred and 80,000 were evicted from their homes. In 1995, Mr. Saro-Wiwa was summarily tried by a military court and hanged with eight others on November 12, 1995. His relatives sued Shell in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York under the “Torture Victims Protection Act” and received a $15.5 million settlement.
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