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Archives from December 2013
Noël Coward at the End
CHARLES R. LARSON
When I was still a teenager and interested in all things theatrical, I had an LP of Noël Coward in Concert that included “Mad Dogs and Englishmen,” perhaps the signature song of the British entertainer, playwright, and composer, who would shortly reach the end of...
Kafka in America
WILLIAM MANSON
In his novel The Trial, Franz Kafka conjured up the nightmarish, surreal yet strangely familiar world of an ordinary person trapped in a web of bewildering government interventions. Inexplicably, the eponymous protagonist “Joseph K” suddenly finds himself under relent...
The NSA Paid to Steal Your Private Data
ALFREDO LOPEZ
As the people of this country, and much of the world, observe the year-end holidays, we can look back on 2013 as the year when any illusion of genuine democracy was dashed by the remarkable revelations about the police-state surveillance that watches us. Last week, we saw...
Who is the Middle East Leader of the Year?
PATRICK COCKBURN
Who was the most successful leader in the Middle East in 2013? It is a hoary tradition of newspapers and magazines to produce end-of-year league tables listing the successful and the unsuccessful. The results are often anodyne or quirky, but in the Middle East over the pa...
The Limits of Electoral Politics
ZHANDARKA KURTI
In late October, I was walking out from the local C-Town supermarket to my parents’ apartment building, carrying groceries with both hands when two women working for Bill De Blasio’s campaign attempted to hand me pamphlets, urging me to vote. In the week leading up to...
2013: Assessing the Conflict in Syria and Egypt
RAMZY BAROUD
2013 has expectedly been a terrible year for several Arab nations. It has been terrible because the promise of greater freedoms and political reforms has been reversed, most violently in some instances, by taking a few countries down the path of anarchy and complete chaos...
Socialism, Then and Now
MARK T. HARRIS
Not long ago I watched an online video segment from conservative writer William F. Buckley, Jr.’s old TV public affairs program, ...
When Privacy is Treason
EVAN YOES
The word does not occur in our Constitution.  It is a Judicial Construct by Extension from the British custom of granting privilege to an Englishman’s Private Property. Privacy rode into our Bill of Rights on the Fourth Amendment, as authored by James Madiso...
10 Good Things About 2013
MEDEA BENJAMIN
It would be easy to make a list of 10 bad things—wars, government shut-down, drone attacks, lack of progress on immigrant rights, lousy health-care reform.  But it’s also been a year of extraordinary activism: whistleblowers, DREAMers, Walmart workers, peacemakers, g...
Schindler’s List and the False God
RAYMOND GUSTAVSON
December 5 of 2013 marked the twentieth anniversary of the release of Schindler’s List, a movie that generated a feeling of hope for mankind. Unfortunately, what followed the movie’s premier was a series of disastrous events that resulted in the current state of affai...
Looming Danger of Abrupt Climate Change
ROBERT HUNZIKER
The National Research Council of the National Academies (NRCNA) has pre-published (available to the public as of Dec. 2013), an extensive 200-pg study: “Abrupt Impacts of Climate Change, Anticipating Surprises.” The goal of the report is to prepare society to a...
New Pope, Old Doctrine
GEOFFREY MacDONALD
After approximately 1600 years of the Catholic Church, the Pope is suddenly a hot topic again. The high priest has infatuated the public and won a lot of praise in the secular media for bringing new popularity to an institution long plagued by scandals and out-of-date dog...
John Stauber on Wall Street’s Political Monopoly
JOSLYN STEVENS
This week I spoke with John Stauber, an investigative journalist, author, founder of Center f...
Yoga’s Christian Army
STEWART J. LAWRENCE
“Christian” Yoga?  It seems, at first blush, like a contradiction in terms. Don’t Christians believe that the body — the “flesh,” as it were — is contrary to man’s spiritual nature, while for yoga it is the seat of his soul and the...
The Messiah Awaits Our Coming
Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS
There is good news and bad news.  The good news: a biblical angel said, “’Do not be afraid.  I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people.  Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.  . . . G...
Korean Conspiracy Trial
GREGORY ELICH
It made worldwide news when Lee Seok-ki, representative in the South Korean National Assembly, was arrested on charges of treason. South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) fed media outlets with a transcript of a meeting that Lee attended, which appeared to rev...
The Virtues of Mutiny and Desertion
CLANCY SIGAL
Yesterday was the date in 1945 General Eisenhower authorized the execution of Pvt. Eddie Slovik the only American GI ever  shot for desertion in World War Two.   Tonight’s Christmas Eve also marks the famous 1914 “Christmas truce”  when British and German soldie...
Abandoned in the Cold and Dark
DYLAN MURPHY
“The world has forgotten Gaza, its women and children. The blockade is as bad as the war; it’s like a slow death for everyone in Gaza. We are paying the price for disputes between different powers. Isn’t that shameful? The world has lost its humanity,...
Cultivating the ‘Entrepreneurial Spirit’ at America’s Largest University
Dr. LAWRENCE WITTNER
The State University of New York (SUNY) — 64 higher education campuses with nearly half a million students — is the largest university system in the United States. Therefore, when university administrators join the state’s governor in turning SUNY into a...
A Season for Caring and Humility
JESSE JACKSON
The holiday is upon us. The streets and stores are gaily decorated; music is in the air. There’s a scurry for cards and presents; an expectation of families gathering. Politically,argument over whether Santa is black or white, and what color Jesus was. All of thi...
Conditions of Apartheid
MARIA C. KHOURY
“For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, which is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:11) It is under unimaginable conditions of Apartheid that Christians in Bethlehem continue to share the Good News. Christ is Born! Glorify Him! The Orthod...
Mother Nature Intensifies the Gaza Siege
FRANKLIN C. SPINNEY
Gaza was recently hit by a severe winter storm, and it lacks the electricity, water, and sewage infrastructure to deal with the crisis. ...
Where No Google Buses Go
DARWIN BOND-GRAHAM
For every word written about the gentrification and displacement that is tearing San Francisco apart, there should be ten words written about the the poverty, environmental racism, and financial predation battering the smaller industrial cities of Contra Costa and Alameda...
The Goldman Sachs 2013 Christmas Story
BILL QUIGLEY
Swaddled in Baby Gap, little Jesus appears to be crying.  Mary tries to gently rock him in her hands, certainly a great moment to remind viewers that you are in good hands with Allstate.    The carpenter Joseph is trying to protect Mary and Jesus, he could certainly us...
Is South Sudan a Failed State?
SUFYAN bin UZAYR
Back in July 2011,after a long civil war, South Sudan split from Sudan to become an independent country. However, even though statehood was achieved and a new country was born, the efforts to transform South Sudan into a proper nation-state seem to have come to a standsti...
US Hypocrisy Over Diplomatic Immunity
DAVE LINDORFF
“There is a remarkable and almost charming egalitarianism in it. Everybody is treated in exactly the same disrespectful, casually brutal, and arrogant fashion.” –Defense Attorney Ron Kuby about how “standard procedure&#...
Is the FDA Really Phasing Antibiotics Out of Meat?
MARTHA ROSENBERG
This month’s FDA guidance for reducing livestock antibiotics will actually make things worse, animal welfare and food activist groups are saying. “The FDA is using a garden hose on a forest fire,” says Farm Sanctuary Senior Policy Director Bruce Friedric...
Canada, Inc.
YVES ENGLER
Should the primary purpose of Canadian foreign policy be the promotion of corporate interests? Canada’s business class certainly seems to think so. And with little political or ideological opposition to this naked self-interest, Harper’s Conservatives seem only...
The Spanish Teacher and the Radical, 2013
DAN HANRAHAN
Bracing moment when you realize the university where you work is the training ground for Empire. Students write of their goals of working for Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman – the goliath defense contractors who are bankrupting the nation and manufacturing tech...
Holiday in Peshawar
RON JACOBS
As a service brat, or military dependent in the official parlance, one grew up with an understanding that the winter holiday season might be missing a few ingredients. Those ingredients might include a fir tree, fresh milk, or even Dad. (In today’s military there mi...
Senator Kirk’s War Prayer
DAVID SWANSON
Senator Kirk was praying to Senators Schumer and Menendez, or rather to his god but for their benefit. He was praying in his office where the three were gathered late at night. He was praying for a chance to drop bombs on Iran. An aged stranger entered the office w...
The Last Chance for Peace in Syria?
SHAMUS COOKE
The war in Syria grinds on, an endless ...
The Anti-Gay Atmosphere in Figure Skating
M.G. PIETY
Figure skater Brian Boitano has “come out.” Come out of what, you may wonder? There hasn’t been much news about Boitano lately, so perhaps he’s been in seclusion. If you are a follower of his cooking show “...
Time to Make the Fed a Public Utility
ELLEN BROWN
December 23rd, 2013, marks the 100th anniversary of the Federal Reserve, warranting a review of its performance.  Has it achieved the purposes for which it was designed? The answer depends on whose purposes we are talking about.  For the banks, the Fe...
Yes, Virginia, There is a Police State
LYNN FITZ-HUGH
Hyperbole?  You decide if this is how you believe the police should behave when citizens are exercising their constitutional right to free speech. On Monday, December 16, 16 people were arrested at two different locations on Hwy 26 outside John Day, OR.  They wer...
Is MoveOn to the Right of the NYT Editorial Board?
NORMAN SOLOMON
The New York Times is hardly a progressive newspaper — but when it comes to the surveillance state and ongoing militarism of the Obama White House, the establishment’s “paper of record” puts ...
Obama Run Amok
NORMAN POLLACK
Comparative structural-political typologies are interesting to study, for in that way one learns modesty when the temptation arises to assert patriotic nobility and superiority over all others. Is drone murder more righteous than Gulag imprisonment? Is the CIA morally pre...
So This Is Christmas
JONATHAN CARP
Christmas is now a commercial frenzy, a profusion of overplayed songs and overwrought sentiment, mixed with pleading to remember “the reason for the season” and to “keep Christ in Christmas.” But there’s something else that’s being lost and perhaps was never e...
Overstanding Detroit
THOMAS STEPHENS
“Force them to expose their hand so bad that they lose even when they win.” – General Baker, 12/14/13 Detroit’s challenges have ...
Mandela and Vanunu
MAIREAD MAGUIRE
This week the World’s political leaders stood united in admiration at the Memorial service in South Africa to honour the memory of Nelson Mandela, Leader of his country, and a man of courage who gave inspiration to many  people around the world. Across the wor...
Obama and the Legacy of American Capitalism
CHARLES SULLIVAN
“You’re not supposed to be so blind with patriotism that you cannot face reality. Wrong is wrong, no matter who does it or says It.” –Malcolm X ...
Your Commie Horoscope
JOSHUA SPERBER and ELLIOT SPERBER
In “Stars Down to Earth” Theodor Adorno analyzes several years’ worth of 1950s Los Angeles Times astrology columns. Describing astrology’s distinctive blend of supranatural wisdom and banal advice, Adorno demonstrated how the column legitimized and dignifie...
Actually, Santa is Cajun and Puerto Rican
SAM SMITH
The current media driven controversy over the ethnicity of Santa Claus, reminds me that back in 2008, I annoyed some and amused others by claiming that Obama was white. After all, he was born of black and white parents, grew up in a white culture, had a white exten...
Ballin’ and Beatles
LEE BALLINGER
Tonight the Atlanta Falcons will play the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park in San Francisco. It will be the last...
The Incredible, Shrinking Presidency of Barack Obama
MIKE WHITNEY
According to a new Washington Post-ABC poll, Barack Obama now ranks among the least popular presidents in the last century. In fact, his approval rating is lower than Bush’s was in his fifth year in office. Obama’s overall approval rating stands at a dismal 43...
The Myth of the Polygraph
JEFFREY ST. CLAIR and ALEXANDER COCKBURN
Even J. Edgar Hoover knew
that the polygraph wasn’t any good for detecting deception. He dropped the
test. The
polygraph was invented in 1915 by a Harvard man called William Moulton Marston,
 who claimed that his clunky little gizmo could detect lies by m...
Cancer, Nuclear Weapons and Dirty Tricks
CHRIS BUSBY
The United Kingdom Veterans of the Atomic Atmospheric Testing in the Pacific and Australia have always maintained that they suffered harm, including cancer and leukemia. The government has consistently denied this. Its argument is that except for very few of them, ...
Saving the World Obama-Style
ANDREW LEVINE
When it comes to spying and killing, Barack Obama is Mr. Malevolent. But every now and then, he gets a notion to go high-minded.  Words come first.  Sometimes he backs up his words with gestures; sometimes he even puts people on the case – feckless people like ...
The Strip Search of Devyani Khobragade
BINOY KAMPMARK
The servant or home helper is the fodder of gossip, a point of permanent distraction for their hirers.  A common assumption in those circles: When the help abscond or accuse, it must be because they have wronged their employers, rather than the other way around.  The ol...