Listed as one of the accomplishments of the Obama Administration in its new campaign video.
Fear Itself: Americans Believe Iran Threat on Par With 1980s Soviet Union
A new poll shows that Americans today are more afraid of Iran than they were of the USSR in 1985, a peak of the Cold War. Worth a read.
So why do Americans see Iran today as a threat on par with the Soviet Union in the mid-1980s? In a Foreign Affairs piece arguing that the U.S. is safer than either Americans or U.S. policymakers think, Zenko and Michael Cohen suggest three reasons:The disparity between foreign threats and domestic threat-mongering results from a confluence of factors. The most obvious and important is electoral politics. Hyping dangers serves the interests of both political parties.
Warnings about a dangerous world also benefit powerful bureaucratic interests. The specter of looming dangers sustains and justifies the massive budgets of the military and the intelligence agencies, along with the national security infrastructure that exists outside government — defense contractors, lobbying groups, think tanks, and academic departments.
There is also a pernicious feedback loop at work. Because of the chronic exaggeration of the threats facing the United States, Washington overemphasizes military approaches to problems (including many that could best be solved by nonmilitary means). The militarization of foreign policy leads, in turn, to further dark warnings about the potentially harmful effects of any effort to rebalance U.S. national security spending or trim the massive military budget-warnings that are inevitably bolstered by more threat exaggeration.
To “recapture” their story from the Kony2012 movement, a group of Ugandan activists have launched a new online storytelling project.
Incensed by the way the viral Invisible Children video simplified the story of warlord Joseph Kony and neglected to include enough of a Ugandan perspective, a group of filmmakers, photographers, activists, writers, poets and artists banded together to launch a counter-organization, Uganda Speaks. The group’s mission, according to its website, is twofold.
The first part of the project gives Ugandan storytellers the opportunity to share how they’re working to rebuild their region in the film #Uganda2012. The second goal is to grant writers a chance to publish stories about how activists are making a meaningful difference with regard to such critical issues as dam relief and nodding disease.
The group says that it will use funding it receives to support Ugandans interested in telling their story via whatever medium they choose.
Uganda Speaks timed the launch of #Uganda2012 to coincide with the Invisible Children’s “Cover the Night” campaign. The organization is urging supporters to drape their cities with Kony 2012 posters and perform service projects throughout the day and night of April 20.
Those involved with the new storytelling platform say that they want the world to know just how vastly different their mission is from Invisible Children’s.
“If you help fund this project we will not send you a t-shirt. We will not send you a bracelet. We will not ask you to vandalize your city with the face of a mass murderer,” Uganda Speaks writes on its website.
“What we can promise you is that we will tell you the real story of Kony and the child soldiers. Plus we guarantee that 100 percent of the money pledged will go to Ugandans on the ground.”
"The concept of pre-emptive prosecution mocks domestic law as egregiously as pre-emptive war mocks the foundations of international law."-
Christ Hedges: First They Come For the Muslims. Hedges interviews Stephen F. Downs, a lawyer who has methodically documented the mendacious charges used to incarcerate many Muslim activists as terrorists.
The government lawyers must know these pre-emptive cases are fake,” he said. “They must know they’re prosecuting people before a crime has been committed based on what they think the defendant might do in the future. They defend what they are doing by saying that they are protecting the nation from people who might want to do it harm. I’m sure they’ve been co-opted at least to believe that. But I think they also know that they are twisting the legal concepts, they are stretching them beyond what the framework of the law can tolerate. They have convinced themselves that it is OK to convict many innocent people as long as they prevent a few people from committing crimes in the future. They are creating an internal culture within the Justice Department where there is contempt for the law and for the foundational principle that it is better for one guilty person to go free than that one innocent person is convicted. They must know they do not do justice, and that they serve only ideological ends.
"So, this trial was not about my position on Muslims killing American civilians. It was about my position on Americans killing Muslim civilians, which is that Muslims should defend their lands from foreign invaders – Soviets, Americans, or Martians. This is what I believe. It’s what I’ve always believed, and what I will always believe. This is not terrorism, and it’s not extremism. It’s what the arrows on that seal above your head represent: defense of the homeland. So, I disagree with my lawyers when they say that you don’t have to agree with my beliefs – no. Anyone with commonsense and humanity has no choice but to agree with me. If someone breaks into your home to rob you and harm your family, logic dictates that you do whatever it takes to expel that invader from your home.
But when that home is a Muslim land, and that invader is the US military, for some reason the standards suddenly change. Common sense is renamed ”terrorism” and the people defending themselves against those who come to kill them from across the ocean become “the terrorists” who are ”killing Americans.” The mentality that America was victimized with when British soldiers walked these streets 2 ½ centuries ago is the same mentality Muslims are victimized by as American soldiers walk their streets today. It’s the mentality of colonialism."
…you guys, I just found this on a bus-stop bench outside my studio. I’m dying.
American foreign policy can get complicated. In the 1980s, the U.S. supported Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein because he was the greatest enemy of our enemy, the Islamic Republic of Iran. He’s dead now because the U.S. invaded his country in 2003, a war heavily premised on claims that he was supporting terrorism, namely al-Qaeda. He wasn’t supporting al-Qaeda. But he did support another terrorist group, called Mujahideen-e Khalq, or MEK. Now many leading American officials want the U.S. to support MEK because they are an enemy of Iran. According to a new New Yorker article by investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, the Bush administration gave MEK money, guns, and even training at a Nevada base starting in 2005.
In other words, if Hersh’s story is true, then the U.S. supported the terrorist ally of its enemy, whom we killed in part because we thought he supported some other terrorists that he actually didn’t, because those terrorists are the enemy of our other enemy. Got it?" -
A New Yorker article reports that U.S. special forces funded and trained a group called MEK, extending a long history of short-sighted, enemy-of-my-enemy foreign policy.
Pakistan's Domestic Violence Bill Faces Deadlock
ISLAMABAD: A landmark bill seeking to deter all forms of domestic violence against women has reached a serious deadlock following stiff resistance by Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F). Claiming that the bill undermines Islamic values, the party announced on Friday it would fight “tooth and nail” against it. […]
Fazlur Rehman [JUI-F chief] claimed the bill promotes Western culture and values rather than Islamic ones. “NGOs continue to promote the culture which keeps women away from Islam and that is not acceptable to us.”
The JUI-F chief termed it an effort to destroy the dignity of women in Islam and urged followers to stand united against those who wanted to impose Western culture in Pakistan.
“We know women’s rights better than the PPP… Western culture cannot be promoted under the pretext of protection in Islamic states,” maintained the JUI-F chief.
Read the rest at the source.
Regardless of how absolutely depressing the quotes in this article are, it’s a shame Pakistan’s own papers seem to be oversimplifying the issue into a human rights vs. religion conflict. It’s much more than that — there’s elements of nationalism in the midst of accusations that women’s rights activists are being backed by the US, and then there’s the fact that bill is pretty much a copy of an identical law passed by India. Some also oppose the bill because they argue that it’s poorly written, vague, and could present legal issues. The vast majority of opposition I’ve seen, however, undoubtedly stems from deeply embedded sexism and religious fundamentalism. From another Tribune article:
Zakia Abid of the JUI-F said that she and the other women members are literate and educated but they don’t want the freedom associated with this bill as it will “abolish the sanctity of marriage and the dominance of the husband”.
When asked what “dominance of the husband” means when he is violent, she answered that domestic violence usually begins when the wife tries to become the head of the household. However, she noted that sometimes men act out of impulse and not reason, and then only can they be brought to justice by the peaceful teachings of Islam. “This bill tries to bring these issues into the courtroom, which will be inefficient and disruptive for society.”
Outrageous. (And interestingly, not too far from statements made by American religious extremists — Michelle Bachmann, I’m looking at you)
Pakistani lawmakers will hold a meeting over the issue on Monday.
In November, Kenneth Chamberlain’s heart device went off. Police officers responded to the medical emergency by shooting him to death.
The police officers originally were not charged with any crimes. But Chamberlain’s family has tried to publicize his death, and the Westchester District Attorney’s Office confirmed this week that the case will be presented to a grand jury within a month, the Daily White Plains reported today.
Chamberlain was a 68-year-old, black retired Marine living in a public housing project. On Nov. 19, a medical alert device for his heart accidentally went off, triggering a response from public safety, the New York Daily News reported. When police officers came and knocked on his door, Chamberlain didn’t open it, saying he was fine and didn’t need help. Police officers then snapped the lock and entered Chamberlain’s home. They Tasered him and then shot him. He died in the hospital two hours later.
The police officers had claimed that Chamberlain attacked them with a hatchet and a knife, and that they were acting in self-defense. They have not released the name of the officer who shot Chamberlain, the Daily White Plains reported Monday.
Authorities have also declined to release audio and video recordings from the shooting to the public, although Chamberlain’s family was able to view them.
Chamberlain’s son told Democracy Now that his father can be heard pleading with police officers to leave him alone in recordings.
“I’m a 68-year-old man with a heart condition. Why are you doing this to me?” the younger Chamberlain quotes his father as saying. “I know what you’re going to do: you’re going to come in here, and you’re going to kill me.”
The family lawyer said that the audio, recorded by Chamberlain’s medical device, then reveals that officers used a racial slur. “I don’t give a f–k, n—-r, open the door!” officers can be heard saying, Chamberlain’s lawyer told the Daily News.
Chamberlain’s son said that officers then removed the door from its hinges and immediately Tasered him in the chest. “Why anyone would use a stun gun on a man with a known heart condition is astounding in itself,” the Daily News noted.
A press representative for the district attorney’s office told the Daily White Plains today that recordings shown to the grand jury are not public record, drawing concern from Chamberlain family lawyer Mayo Bartlett.
“They may decide to play some of the tapes, to play part of the tapes, to redact the tapes, or not to play any of the tapes. We can’t control that and we’ll never know,” Bartlett told the paper.
Chamberlain’s son has also expressed frustration that the video and audio recordings haven’t been released to the public.
A disconnect between accusation and reality hardly matters in American politics these days. Obama the “socialist” somehow manages to work hand in hand with Wall Street financiers. Obama the “Nazi” courts AIPAC. Obama the “peacenik” has been very much a war president. And Obama the “Muslim” gets a big thumbs-down from the Muslim world.
The president makes a lousy Muslim Manchurian candidate, for he has disappointed his imagined Muslim handlers at virtually every turn. In an election in which racist slogans are off the table, however, the Islamophobic accusation of “acting Muslim” remains a politically acceptable chauvinism. Given the deep anti-Islamic currents in American culture, such accusations might unfortunately prove effective as well." -John Feffer: The GOP’s new Islamophobic narrative
Dear American bigots:
Basic Fact: Wearing a veil, as Iraqi-American Shaima al-Awady did before she was brutally murdered in her home as part of a hate crime, does not make a person a terrorist. You don’t mind it when pious Roman Catholic women wear a nun’s habit, and you recognize that dress as a sign of dedication to God. You don’t blame all the violence ever committed by Roman Catholics, or events like the Inquisition, on a nun in your neighborhood. Be as tolerant to pious Muslim women.
Basic Fact: Wearing a hoodie is not an invitation to murder, as Geraldo Rivera suggested it was in the case of Trayvon Martin. In fact, if you think about it, St. Francis of Assisi wore a hood, as did many other saints and monks. In the United States, we don’t kill people for how they dress, but how dressing like St. Francis is a crime is a special mystery.
Basic Fact: And, by the way, there is nothing worse than being both a bigot and a f*ck-up. So for God’s sake leave the poor Sikhs alone. Few Muslim men wear turbans, so if you see someone with a turban and a beard, he is likely from Indian Punjab and not a Muslim. I mean, you shouldn’t be bothering Muslims either, but your sad ass is definitely going to clown hell if you shoot down a Sikh because you mistook him for a Muslim.
Basic Fact: And by the way, all this emphasis on clothing as a motive for murder is just a smokescreen for sidestepping the real issue, which is that bigots shouldn’t be allowed to have hand guns. In fact, since you can’t hunt deer with a hand gun and most owners of a hand gun are not reservists in the National Guard of their state, it is unclear why the US tolerates so many hand guns. In countries like Britain, which do not, the murder rate by gun is vanishingly small compared to the annual carnage in the US.
"For the entirety of American history—from the first African captured and enslaved to the moment Geraldo Rivera opened his mouth to pimp Martin’s death for ratings—black men have been relentlessly caricatured as menaces to society. We were dangerous, so chattel slavery was necessary, and a nation’s wealth was born. We are still dangerous, so a police state is necessary in black neighborhoods all over this country, and the wealth of a prison-industrial complex flourishes. This is what Trayvon Martin’s murder is about. It’s not about his high school suspension. It’s not about his hoodie. It’s not even about Florida’s Kill at Will law, at least not at root. It’s about the enduring, dark fantasies to which America still clings, in order to justify a society in which more black men are locked up or on parole today than were enslaved in 1850—to pick just one of many indicators of the scale at which black men are battered. But we’re menaces; we’ve got it coming."-
Kai Wright: You Got a Problem? Well, Now You Do.
One of the best articles I’ve read on the Trayvon Martin case. Highly recommended.
I can’t decide whether my favorite part is the allusion to the horrors of abortion or the part where Obama’s face cuts into Ahmadinejad’s.