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Responding to Ebola

Cuba Sees a Crisis, and Sends Docs; The US Sees an Opportunity and Sends Troops

 

How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:

Cuba to Send Doctors to Ebola Areas

US to Deploy 3000 Troops as Ebola Crisis Worsens

Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, the BBC and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are ebola outbreaks, while the US, the world’s wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops -- $3000 of them-- to “fight” the ebola epidemic.

Okay, I understand that these troops are supposedly going to be “overseeing” construction of treatment centers, but let’s get serious. With an epidemic raging through Africa, where some of the poorest nations in the world are located, what is needed right now are not new structures. Tent facilities would be fine for treating people in this kind of a crisis. What is needed is medical personnel. The important line in the Reuters article about the US “aid” plan, though is that the US troops will
 

...”establish a military control center for coordination, U.S. officials told reporters.

"The goal here is to search American expertise, including our military, logistics and command and control expertise, to try and control this outbreak at its source in west Africa," Lisa Monaco, Obama's White House counter-terrorism adviser, told MSNBC television on Tuesday ahead of the announcement.
 

Cuba apparently does not feel that it needs to establish a military control center to dispatch its doctors and nurses, nor does it feel that “military, logistics and command and control expertise” are what are needed.

Anyone who thinks this dispatching of US military personnel to Africa is about combating a plague is living in a fantasy world. This is about projecting US military power further into Africa, which has already been a goal of the Obama administration, anxious to prevent China from gaining control over African mineral resources, and to control them for US exploitation.
 Cuba sends doctors; US sends troops and trainersDifferent responses to Ebola epidemic: Cuba sends doctors; US sends troops and trainers

 

Lawless Law Enforcers

In America the 'Terrorists' All Too Often Are the Police

 

Two acts of ugly terrorism occurred in Birmingham, Alabama on September 15, 1963.

One act was widely abhorred. The other act ignored.

Many across America know about the 9/15/63 Birmingham murders of four little girls slain in the bombing of a black Baptist church 18-days after Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his stirring “I Have A Dream” speech.

However, few know about the Birmingham murder of Johnny Robinson, a 16-year-old shot in the back by a policeman hours after that church bombing.

If the deaths of those four children inside that Birmingham church catalyzed the 1960s-era Civil Rights Movement contributing to the racial progress America now praises itself for achieving, the death of Johnny Robinson represents yet another instance of the regression across America on the issue of effectively addressing lawlessness by law enforcers – lawlessness that most often evades legal accountability.

Historically, America has a history of downplaying brutal behavior by police.

Police abuses – from fatal shootings through false arrests to the gratuitous use of foul or threatening language – are dismissed as isolated acts of a ‘few bad apples’ instead of as an endemic scourge historically impacting minorities and increasing impacting non-minorities. Top policy-makers and even much of the public embrace this dismissal dynamic.

Michael Brown, murdered by a Fergusson cop while surrendering, and two images of modern US policing at workMichael Brown, murdered by a Fergusson cop while surrendering, and two images of modern US policing at work
 

A Cultural Essay

Going To War With a Vengeance

 
To do nothing is to send a message to the wrongdoer, and the general public, that the victim has no self-worth and will not marshal the internal resources necessary to reclaim his or her honor. Shattered dignity is not beyond repair, but no elevating and equalizing of dignity can occur without the personal satisfaction of revenge.
        -Thane Rosenbaum, Payback: The Case For Revenge

The one who forgives, far from rallying around evil, decides instead not to imitate it, not to resemble it in any way, and without having expressly willed it, to negate it with the sole purity of silent love.
        -Vladimir Jankelevitch, Forgiveness
 
 
Two months ago polls suggested the American public was weary of war. Then, a group of furious extremists nurtured out of the fertile chaos of our invasion/occupation of Iraq and led by former generals from Saddam Hussein’ army went through Anbar Province in western Iraq like Patton went through Europe: Like crap through a goose. They were taking back what the US had taken from them by empowering Iraqi Shiites. Their secret was psychopathic violence -- massacres of men, women and children from hated ethnic or religious factions.

Soon, people from around the world were being recruited to join ISIS. Two brave US journalists were captured in Syria and sold to ISIS in western Iraq. Utilizing 21st century skills with video production, they flaunted their power by brutally beheading the two journalists.

ISIS and Senator Bernie Sanders, President Obama, Senators John McCain and Lindsey GrahamISIS and Senator Bernie Sanders, President Obama, Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham

Suddenly, US polls flipped and a majority of Americans now felt it was necessary to race willy-nilly back to war in Iraq. The likelihood that ISIS's goal was to stir up this kind of fear and blind reaction in America didn't seem to matter. No one is quite sure what any of it really means. Following President Obama’s war speech, Lawrence O’Donnell asked, “Exactly how many people do we have to kill to ‘degrade and ultimately destroy’ this movement called ISIS?” No one knows. No one wants to lose face or appear weak. Being smart didn't seem to be a concern; many were ready to hose out more treasure and lose even more ground in addressing our huge domestic problems.

                Crime Fiction and Vengeance as Religion

As part of a personal study in the area of crime fiction, I’ve been reading a lot on the subject of vengeance. One of the classic avenging angels is Mike Hammer, Mickey Spillane’s popular Cold War era private detective who followed Dashiell Hammett’s Sam Spade and Raymond Chandler’s Philip Marlowe. They were real tough guys -- detectives. Mike Hammer was primarily about vengeance, which was generally administrated on the final page with a couple slugs in the guts from his beloved .45 automatic.

Spillane and his persona had no patience with something like the ethical movement that, for lack of a better term, goes by the label forgiveness. It's not about forgiveness in any literal sense, and it does not preclude self-defense. It's more about not getting sucked into costly cycles of violence and just getting on with life. When thinking about crime fiction, I find it useful to place the two -- vengeance and forgiveness -- as extremes on a continuum. It allows the analytic possibility of complexity and dialogue between the extremes when it comes to addressing a mess like the one the nation finds itself in right now.

Andrew Vachss is a popular, self-proclaimed vengeance writer working today. His character Burke is a fierce avenging angel hunting down those who abuse and violate children. Vachss is a lawyer who has had a colorful life working in the area of child protection. “He's not a hit man,” Vachss has written of the fictional Burke. “But he shares the same religion I do, which is revenge.”

Making the news fit the politics:

NY Times Finds Conclusions Where None Exist in Dutch Flight 17 Downing Report

 

The New York Times, which has been misreporting on, and misleading its readers about the downing of Malaysian Flight 17 since the plane was downed last July 17, continues its sorry track record of flogging anti-Russian sentiment in the US and of supporting the post-putsch Ukrainian government in Kiev.

This time America’s leading “newspaper of record” is distorting the preliminary report of the Dutch Safety Board which has been leading an investigation into the cause of the Flight 17 crash that killed all 283 passengers and 15 crew members of a Boeing 777 aircraft flying from Amsterdam to Malaysia.

In an article published Wednesday, headlined “Report Finds Missile Strike Likely in Crash of Flight 17” and datelined Brussles, Times reporters Andrew Higgens and Nicola Clark write in their lead paragraph that “investigators, in their first account of the calamity, released evidence on Tuesday consistent with an attack by a surface-to-air missile but shed no clear light on who was responsible.”

They go on to write, however, on the basis of no evidence at all, that the preliminary report “...gave some indirect support to assertions by the United States and Ukraine that pro-Russian rebels shot down the aircraft with an SA-11, or Buk, surface-to-air missile.”

Both paragraphs are completely at odds with the report, and that supposed “indirect support” is never mentioned. And no wonder: it doesn't exist in the report.

Frame of front windshield of Malaysian Flight 17 showing possible bullet holes or rocket shrapnel, flight boxes and Flight 17Frame of front windshield of Malaysian Flight 17 showing possible bullet holes or rocket shrapnel, flight boxes and Flight 17 in the air
 

Washington’s seedy propaganda campaign

Satellite Images of Alleged Russian Artillery in Ukraine Come A-Cropper

 

UPDATE, 9/11/2014: In a comical development, Agence France Presse reports that Ukrainian President Petro Portoshenko is now saying that Russia's army and its heavy weapons, which he and the US and its NATO puppets were claiming had flooded eastern Ukraine and were responsible for the stunning route of Ukrainian forces in recent weeks, have now been "withdrawn" from Ukrainian territory.

In other words, the Russian Army, whose existence was never documented by US satellite or ground photos, has now vanished from the scene as mysteriously as it arrived. How convenient. What appears to actually be happening is that Portoshenko, whose war against eastern Ukraine separatists was an abject failure, is trying to save his presidency in the face of what amounts to a complete surrender of the eastern part of the country to separatist rebels.

Further evidence of this is provided by an article in Business Insider, which shows a map reportedly issued by the Ukrainian military, which has the whole eastern part of the Ukraine, including the Lugansk region and the whole Donetsk region, including the area around and well beyond the contested port city of Mariupul in the hands of separatist rebels.

It seems incredible beyond believing that if it were true that this victory by separatist rebels was only possible because of Russian troops, that now, with a ceasefire in place, those Russian troops and their equipment would be pulling out, abandoning the allegedly incompetent and poorly armed separatists to hold on. Either the Ruskies are still there, or they were never there in the first place. The article has NATO making the absurd claim that the original little 1000 contingent of Russian troops it initially claimed were in eastern Ukraine providing the clout for separatist successes, is still in there.
 

In the ongoing propaganda campaign mounted by the Obama administration to claim that Russia has “invaded” Ukraine from the east, it offered up some grainy black-and-white satellite images purporting to show heavy Russian military equipment inside the Ukraine.

I earlier noted how unlikely it was that heavy mobile artillery pieces would be set up in a perfect line in what appeared to be a field of crops, with, as the government claimed, cannons aimed towards Ukrainian positions in toward the west. As I pointed out, there was no sign of piles of ammunition alongside these “units” as we routinely see in closeups of heavy mobile artillery -- for example in photos of IDF pieces positioned outside of Gaza. I also noted the unlikelihood that such equipment would have been set up in an open field, unprotected by trees or other cover, and lined up to make for easy targeting by enemy artillery or air attack.

Now an alert reader from the agricultural state of Texas (Laredo, TX to be precise), has sent a note suggesting out that what the supposedly incriminating images most likely show are combines in a field of grain or some other crop planted in rows. He sent along photos showing harvesters, which of course feature a long, straight “cannon-like” tube which is used to shoot the harvested grain up and into an accompanying truck to be hauled off to market or to a storage silo.

captionCombines or cannons? From 100 miles up, Washington's 'clear evidence' of Russian heavy artillery in the Ukraine starts looking a little 'corny'. Are these mobile heavy artillery pieces or harvesting combines in a field of maize
 

New poem

Monster in my garden

 

After yesterday
I’m afraid to go down there
Into my own garden.
I went down after sunset to water and
There it was, crouching
Like a gargoyle among the tomatoes.
I got a good look at it
As I stood there afraid to breathe
While a spray of water
From the hose soaked my shoes.
It had two heads
That look exactly like John Boehner,
Terrible to behold...

none
 

No! Your data is not safe!

Hackers Used Government Spyware to Data-rob iCloud

 

One sensationally reported incident this week exposes a dual threat: your data isn't safe on a corporate-controlled "cloud" and spying software made for police and government agencies makes it completely accessible.

The leaking of celebrities' photos, most compromising and some nude, from Apple's iCloud storage system shows how silly we can be about nudity and celebrity and what our media thinks is important in the world. These were self-shot photos nude people and nudity is something we can all see in the mirror!

There is, however, a very important point to the entire affair and, unlike the naked photos, it's worth talking about.
 

From phone to computer! But to whose computer?From phone to computer! But to whose computer?
 

Apparently, according to Apple, this wasn't a breach; there was no break-down in the security system for the company's giant storage service. Instead, the hackers used what is called a "brute force attack" -- a password-guessing method that uses software readily available to hackers to guess and test passwords to access a private account.

In the last couple of days, however, experts have become almost sure that the software used to capture the iCloud user data is a program designed for use by police and government surveillance. The program is called EPPB or Elcomsoft Phone Password Breaker and it's made by a Russian outfit called Elcomsoft. Elcomsoft specializes in selling it to government authorities but it will sell it to anyone willing to pay the price. Apparently these hackers got a hold of that program and maybe, indeed, have done so through legal purchase.

The ThisCantBeHappening! news collective loses a founding member

Charles M. 'Chuck' Young (1951-2014)

 

The ThisCantBeHappening! collective has lost a friend and a perceptive and peerlessly witty analyst of the American political and cultural scene, while Rock& Roll has lost its leading critic. Charles M. Young (Chuck to his friends), has died, following a year and a half of battling an aggressive brain tumor.

When Dave Lindorff decided back in the Spring of 2010, to convert his thiscantbehappening.net blog into a collectively-owned and collectively-run news site, he immediately contacted three friends and journalistic colleagues--John Grant, Linn Washington, Jr. and Chuck Young. All three immediately jumped for the idea. But Chuck's response was classic Young. His lip curling up in a sign that cued a listener that he was about to crack a joke, he said, "Wait, let me get this straight: a newspaper that has no editor? It sounds like a dream come true! Sign me up!"

Charles M. 'Chuck' Young, Presente!Charles M. 'Chuck' Young, Presente!

 

The latest 'ThisCantBeHappening!' Show on PRN.fm

An Interview with Charles M. Young

 

Journalist Charles M. Young talks with Dave Lindorff, host of PRN.fm's new program 'This Can't Be Happening!" about the Occupy Wall Street Movement, New York's last mayor, Michael Bloomberg, the NYPD vs. the LAPD, music & politics, getting groined by Hunter Thompson and interviewing Noam Chomsky.

You can hear the podcast of Wednesday evening's show by clicking on the image below:

Hear Dave Lindorff on 'This Can't Be Happening!' every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on PRN.fm or on the web at www.PRN.fmHear Dave Lindorff on 'This Can't Be Happening!' every Wednesday at 5 pm Eastern Time on PRN.fm or on the web at www.PRN.fm

Even in Los Angeles

Gentle Things

 

            In brutish, crass, profanity-spitting L.A., in developer-ravaged $2500-a-month “elegant density” L.A., in have-and-have-not ethnically separated L.A., in get-out-of-my-way-asshole, hit-and-run texting-and-primping-while-driving L.A. . . .

            Gentle things still happen.

            She sat at the front table at Papa Cristo’s, the Greek place at Pico and Normandie in the so-called Byzantine-Latino Quarter. Across the street from St. Sofia’s Greek Orthodox Cathedral and St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, or, more appropriately considering that masses come with mariachis, Iglesia Santo Tomas Apostol.

            “This is excellent!” she said, and, really, it was amazing she could say anything at all, let alone in a clear, commanding voice. The withered and dry autumn leaves on the sycamore trees in the neighborhood were stronger. This was, to be indelicate, a corpse that hadn’t gotten around to officially dying. Stick limbs, prune skin, sunken cheeks. Talk about frailty, thy name is woman. . .

            “Okay, Babe,” said her companion, a young guy with brown curls pulled back in a pony tail. “I’ve got you.” And he steadied her as he removed her walker, and then helped her ease into a wooden chair at one of Papa Cristo’s wobbly tables. She didn’t seem comfortable.

            “Does your butt hurt?” said her companion.

            What butt, I wondered. Nothing there but bones.

Esther Cicconi, lifetime Communist and icon of LA's left fringe, says 'hello, not goodbye'Esther Cicconi, lifetime Communist and icon of LA's left fringe, says 'hello, not goodbye'

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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