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Sen. John McCain is 'low-life scum'

And NPR Is Not Reporting the News on Cuba Much Differently than the Corporate Media

 

Shortly after hearing a snippet of the chatter during a fund-raising campaign by my local NPR station in which it was asserted that NPR listeners appreciated that they were getting the full story instead of just headlines and soundbites, I heard a report about the latest developments in US-Cuba relations: Cuban President Raul Castro’s assertion that diplomatic relations would not be possible until the US returned Guantanamo Bay, site of a huge US naval base and of the 13-year-old internment and torture center for captives in the US “War on Terror,” and until the US paid Cuba reparations for the half-century embargo and blockade of Cuba.

In that report, it was stated as fact that the US base was “leased” from Cuba on a permanent basis, as a result of an “agreement” between the two governments of Cuba and the US.

John McCain, the war-loving Republican senator from Arizona, on Thursday kicked out from his Senate Armed Forces Committee hearing protesters who had been calling for the arrest of witness Henry Kissinger on charges of war crimes for his authorization, as Nixon’s national security council chief, of the 1972 carpet bombing of North Vietnam, including dikes, hospitals and schools. He called the protesters -- whom he threatened to have arrested -- “low-life scum.” This blowhard Senate fossil also weighed in on the Cuba issue, joking in the NPR report that Guantanamo was legally a possession of the US, and that those like Fidel and Raul Castro, would be “going to meet Karl Marx” before that base would be turned over to Cuba.

Nowhere did NPR, which claims to give “the whole story” in its reports, bother to point out that the eternal lease that Cuba signed with the US back in 1901 was signed under considerable duress by a country that had just won its independence from a grudging United States, which had initially hung onto the island after winning the 1898-9 Spanish-American War, only giving it its independence after realizing that it would have an insurrection on its hands if it didn’t (Cuban independence fighters inspired by the late José Martí had nearly succeeded in ousting their Spanish colonial overlords by the time the US sparked a war against Spain).
Cuba President Raul Castro, Sen. John McCain, prisoners at GITMO, and a view of Guantanamo Bay Naval StationCuba President Raul Castro, Sen. John McCain, prisoners at GITMO, and a view of Guantanamo Bay Naval Station
 

It's a new year, and we need change! (yours)

Time for TCBH!'s Readers to Make a Commitment to Support this Unique News Site


ThisCantBeHappening! is embarking on an unprecedented fund-raising campaign. As you our readers know, this unique news site has been run for the past four years by a small dedicated collective of professional journalists and writers. We don't get paid, and we have no foundation or sugardaddy supporting us. Donations that have trickled in have just covered our costs for things like webhosting and our mailbox. Now we're trying to up our game, asking you our readers to come through with enough support that we in the collective will be able to afford to actually commit real time away from our "day jobs" to do the hard work of digging up the stories everyone else, often including the alternative media, is ignoring, and reporting them to you. So far the response is encouraging: $850 -- about 5% of our goal -- raised in less than three weeks! Help get us to 10% by the end of this month.

If you haven't contributed yet, please try sending even $5 (we know we're worth that much). And please spread the word to friends and acquaintances using the envelope icon below. Together we can do this!

Contributing is easy to do. You can use the Paypal "Donate" button at the top of this page if you like, or, if you have no Paypal account or credit card or want to be more secure, you can send us either a check (made out to David Lindorff/TCBH please!) or if you want to remain anonymous, cash to: POB 846, Ambler, PA 19002.

Where’s the US ‘Syriza’ party?

Greek Voters Have Tossed a Grenade into the Banker/Bureaucrat-Controlled European Establishment

 

There is certainly exciting news from Greece today, with confirmation that the leftist coalition party Syriza has won a decisive victory, and, with the help of just one small party, the Independent Greeks Party, is assured of a parliamentary majority. That means Syriza’s dynamic marxist leader, the 40-year-old former student radical
Alexis Tsipras, will shortly become Greece’s prime minister, pledged to undo years of crippling austerity and to turn Greece back into a real democracy, instead of a scene of corporate pillage.

Leaders of Europe’s corrupt parties -- both conservative and socialist or, in Britain’s case, “New Labor,” -- are clearly anxious at the electoral success of a genuine leftist party in one of the countries of the European Union, particularly as there are growing leftist movements in larger countries, including Italy, Spain, France, Portugal and elsewhere. These new movements explicitly reject the tired and corrupted duopoly of conservative and socialist parties that have been taking turns running Europe as an adjunct to the US for generations.

It remains to be seen how the main governments in Europe, and particularly in Germany, try to deal with the new political reality in Greece. They and the bureaucrats and bankers in Brussels, Luxembourg, London, Paris and Bonn, are in a tricky spot: if they simply thumb their noses at Greece’s new leaders, refuse to reduce that country’s crushing debt, and force Greece to quit the Euro currency zone, they will encourage other countries -- notably Spain and Italy -- to consider quitting the Euro too, and the whole notion of Europe as a political/economic entity will founder. If they accommodate Syriza’s demands for a better arrangement, with debt forgiveness and aid to promote the Greek economy, they will be hit with similar demands from the much larger struggling economies of Italy and Spain, not to mention other troubled members of the EU like Portugal, Ireland Poland and other countries from the former Warsaw Pact.

The main point in all this is that Greek voters have tossed a flash-bang grenade into the prevailing neo-liberal consensus that the way to “reform” economies is to impose austerity, cutting back on social programs, hammering wages, boosting unemployment, and privatizing long-public functions like transit, education, roads and bridges and health care. Europe will probably never be the same, whichever way Greece ultimately goes.

The question is, will any of this matter in the US?
Alexis Tsipras and Greek voters celebrate Szyriza's stunning electoral victory SundayAlexis Tsipras and Greek voters celebrate Szyriza's stunning electoral victory Sunday
 

New poem:

Romney running again?

 

How inspiring is that!
Maybe we should go back to what we were trying to do
When we got discouraged:
Try to scratch together a living selling loosies in the street
As a man of color?
Maybe someone was building a time machine
And they should get back to that!
Teach a friend’s dog to speak for a YouTube video,
Go out in this snowstorm and not come in
Until you find two identical flakes.
Join the campaign to replace the Star Spangled Banner
With Woody’s “This Land is Your Land?”
Because it is our land, damn it.
What a guy, that Romney.
What an inspiration to us all
No matter what our lost cause.
 

  --Gary Lindorff

Picking Apart President Obama's "Progressive" State of the Union Speech

Phony baloney

 

There were two times Republicans broke into fervent applause during this lame duck president's seventh State of the Union speech: the first was when he called for passage of "fast track" authority to negotiate and send to the Senate a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact -- basically a NAAFTA for the Pacific region; the second was when he noted that he "won't be running for president again."

The applause came because those were the two most significant things that the president said in what was otherwise a pathetic and dreary exercise in posing as a liberal progressive reformer now that there isn't a chance in hell that any of his supposedly pro-middle-class proposals for reform will become law.

The cheering for the TPP on the Republican side of the House Chamber came because Republicans, unabashedly the party of capitalism, are all about reducing tariffs, freeing corporations to move to the cheapest labor countries in search of bigger profits, and the hell with American jobs being lost. They are happy to give the president and his not-so-brazenly, and yet still equally pro-capitalist Democratic minority in Congress, their support in passing the wholly pro-corporate TPP.

Obama alluded in his talk to the reality that NAAFTA, CAAFTA and other treacherous trade deals "haven't always done as promised to protect jobs and the environment," but he promised to do better this time. If that's the case though, why would he want "fast track" authority, which means negotiating with other countries like China and Indonesia in secret, and then presenting Congress with a final treaty that must be voted on up or down with no amendments or changes? It's all a giant scam that will end up eroding US jobs further. The president claimed that "export-oriented" jobs pay more than other jobs, which might be correct, but he failed to note that trade deals cut two ways: they do promote exports, but they also by definition promote imports by reducing tariffs on imported goods and services, and those imports are job killers. Worse yet, trade deals enable US companies to pull up stakes and move manufacturing work abroad because they can then produce the goods cheaper and ship them back to the US market thanks to new lower tariffs on imports.

As for his line about no longer running for president, that is precisely what made such a joke about all his proposals for taxing the rich more, making community college free to all, and "doing more to make it easier for workers to form unions," etc. None of those proposals will ever become law because he and the Democratic Party, thanks to six years of selling out progressive voters who elected them when they had two, and later still at least one house of Congress in their control, has now lost control of both houses. And Republicans don't have to listen to what the president wants, since he's on the way out. No wonder they all cheered that admission by the president that his sell-by date was approaching.
Why are all these Republicans standing and clapping for President Obama during his State of the Union speech?Why are all these Republicans standing and clapping for President Obama during his State of the Union speech?
 

A Cultural Essay

Dirty Harry Goes To Iraq

 
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
                                    -George Orwell
 
Back in 1979, reviewers liked to point out that Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now was so plagued with difficulty and confusion (the star suffered a heart attack during shooting and a devastating typhoon destroyed all the sets) that the making of the film paralleled the reality of the Vietnam War itself.

A similar observation might be made of Clint Eastwood’s American Sniper about Iraq. Like the Iraq War itself, Eastwood’s movie begins by exploiting a historically inaccurate delusion and, then, sustains itself for two hours on the mission to protect US soldiers against the insurgency that arose in opposition to the US invasion and occupation based on the initial delusion.

The film opens with a black screen and a muezzin chanting the Islamic adham, or call to prayer, from a minaret. The words “Allahu Akbar” are very distinguishable in the chant. Islam is very much in the news, especially after the Charlie Hebdo killings, and the phrase “Allahu Akbar” is by now familiar with popular US audiences. Such a subliminal opening felt ideologically heavy-handed to me, intimating an unseen evil lurking in the dark. The narrative quickly sketches in Chris Kyle’s introduction to hunting animals, his recruitment and training as a Navy SEAL and how he met his future wife, Taya, at a bar. This leads to an emotional scene of the two lovers watching on TV as the twin towers are knocked down. Then -- wham! -- we’re in Iraq and sniper Kyle is confronted with the dilemma of having to shoot a mother and son to protect an advancing Marine platoon.

Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle doing his job in IraqBradley Cooper as Chris Kyle doing his job in Iraq

Any honest skeptic equipped with even a cursory understanding of the antecedents to the Iraq War will see what’s going on here. It’s not a debatable issue: We know now for sure that Iraq had absolutely nothing -- nada, zilch -- to do with the downing of the twin towers in New York. Dick Cheney’s persistent claims to the contrary, the secular Muslim Saddam Hussein, once our ally, was a bitter enemy of al Qaeda. But in 2014, the film’s producer, writer and director decided on a clean and efficient plot line that hinges on the highly emotional image of the towers falling. The real Chris Kyle may have absolutely believed in this fictional connection, but a protagonist's delusion is not a defense for emotionally perpetuating such a costly fiction (many call it a "lie") in a narrative film about the war. But, then, that’s what “popular” filmmaking is all about, and Eastwood is, if nothing else, a maestro of popular American storytelling. Whether or not one respects such a corrupt decision, the fact is American Sniper is an extremely well-made movie.

Guest poet:

I feel like I should send you a poem or something

 

Something about how life or God or who ever is behind the curtain of
all things pulling all our strings,
the strings that jerk us up out of the void and into the light and
heat and cold and make us put on
our boots and start walking and talking and eating cornflakes for
breakfast and slaps us around and
dumps us in the middle of deep dark holes of despair and desperation
where monsters come out of the night
and gobble up our happiness when we aren't looking and then throws us
in the ocean of self doubt and confusion that dries up the
next minute and leaves us spread out like dead butterflies on the
specimen table of alienation...
Only to have the phone ring and someone tell us that the person we
love most in the world just died
and now we have to look at the sunrise and wonder what we ever thought
was beautiful about it and if it will
ever look beautiful again. . .
And how wonderful it is that after all that happens Life or God or
who ever it is that is behind the curtain of all things pulling
our strings now Jerks up out of the void the most incredible being
that says, "Look at me! I'm going to start it all over again.
And I'm so beautiful none of what has come before me matters a flea's
butt because I bring with me the promise that
life can be different and nobody can deny that who looks at my tiny
fingers or by big bright eyes and the way I wiggle my toes
at the cosmos because I'm alive and that's all that matters and if
there's anything
at all close to pure being it's me!”
 
 
  -- Frank Asch
 
 
This poem was offered to ThisCantBeHappening! by Frank Asch, the noted children's book author/illustrator. He lives in Hawaii. (It is copyrighted may not be reprinted without permission of the author.)

new poem

Grinding my ax

 

My ax is grinding
All by itself!
I can hear it giving itself to the grinding wheel
Every day when I wake up,
Most nights when I go to bed.
 
I am just grinding it.
 
What would I use it for?
To cut down my enemies to size?
To swing against the foundations of the NSA?
To destroy the diabolical machinery
That is excavating the tarsands in Alberta?
To obliterate all the missiles and missile silos
In the US and Russia and China?
To chop through all the walls that Israel has built
Over the years of its morally bankrupt occupation?
To use the butt-end to smash through
The prejudice and thickening armor
That our politicians weld
Around their hearts and minds?
To slice through the artery
That sluices our tax dollars into the military machine?
To sever my connection with all of the dysfunction
Of my paranoid, backwards nation?
Or just to chop through the gate
That keeps the pony of my spirit
Pastured where the grass has long since died?
 
 
   -- Gary Lindorff

US Backed Repression

Sea Change In US-Cuba Relations Makes Waves Deep In Desert

 

Tinduf, Algeria -- News about the historic change of relations between the United States and Cuba triggered cheers across the five Sahrawi refugee camps located near this Sahara Desert city located 1,100-miles southwest of Algeria’s capital of Algiers on the Mediterranean Sea.

That news elevated hopes among many Sahrawi that the major changes in relations between the U.S. and its longtime, bitter enemy Cuba would lead to the U.S. pushing for changes with its longtime ally – Morocco.

Morocco is the country that has illegally occupied the Western Sahara, the ancestral homeland of the Sahrawi, since a 1975 invasion. Morocco controls 80+ percent of the Western Sahara, including its mineral rich inland region and coastal fisheries that generate billions of dollars in exports annually -– money that helps fund Morocco’s expensive occupation.

Since 1991, when Morocco and the Polisario Front (which represents the Sahrawi) ended a 16-year long war over Morocco’s invasion, America's major ally in North Africa has repeatedly reneged on its agreement with the United Nations to hold a voter referendum in the Western Sahara where residents would decide their future through a democratic vote.

"We woke up very happy with the historical announcement of President Obama establishing new relations with Cuba. We hope that Mr. Obama will take another historic position and enforce international law on the Western Sahara. We are tired of waiting," Adda Ibrahim said.

Ibrahim is the governor of Smara, the largest of the five Sahrawi refugee camps surrounding Tindof. Over 160,000 Sahrawi live in those camps, many ever since they fled Morocco's 1975 invasion. Other camp residents were forced to flee over the years from Morocco's brutal occupation of the Western Sahara. All camp residents live in bleak conditions on barren desert land where summer temperatures frequently hit 130 degrees.

Sahrawi refugee camp in Algeria, and Morocco's not-so-great wall fencing of the Polisario-controlled zone in Western SaharaSahrawi refugee camp in Algeria, and Morocco's not-so-great wall fencing of the Polisario-controlled zone in Western Sahara
 

I couldn't tell you about it and couldn't tell you why

'Gagged' by the Government: a Police State Story

 

For the past three months, I and other leaders of the organization May First/People Link have been under a federal subpoena to provide information we don't have. During that time, we have also been forbidden by a federal court "gag order" to tell anyone about that subpoena, although we had already announced it and commented on it before the order was sent. Finally, we were forbidden from telling anyone about the gag order itself.

It all sounds comical but any laughter would end if we violated that "gag order," because that would be a felony and we could face prison sentences and huge fines.

We were silenced by our own government in a case we had nothing to do with and over information we didn't have...and we couldn't tell anyone about any of it.

The flag they should be flying!The flag they should be flying!
 

The court order has now expired as of December 18 and I am now free to talk about it.

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Fightin' Cock FlyerFightin' Cock Flyer

Listen as Chuck, John, Dave and Linn Join Prairie Radical Mike Caddell of the Fightin' Cock Flyer on Radio Free Kansas

Here's the link to prairie radio radical Mike Caddell's Radio Free Kansas program, where you can hear the podcast of the whole group interview that was conducted on Saturday, May 8.

Also, listen to Dave Lindorff on Chris Cook's Gorilla Radio on CFEV Radio in Victoria, Canada.

Donate $50 to ThisCantBeHappening.net and get a free signed copy, postage paid, of Dave's classic tome The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin's Press, 2006). Just click on the cover image to go to the Paypal payment page, make your payment, and send a note to Dave calling his attention to the payment, and giving your mail address and the name you want the inscription addressed to.

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by Dr. Radut