Automated Killer Robots / Canada’s Inuit, more…

February 28, 2008

These are a few interesting news items from News Center:

Automated Killer Robots ‘Threat to Humanity’: Expert
Increasingly autonomous, gun-totting robots developed for warfare could easily fall into the hands of terrorists and may one day unleash a robot arms race, a top expert on artificial intelligence told AFP.
[…] Read more

Canada’s Inuit Are the Canaries in the Coal Mine
For centuries, the Inuit have lived in harmony with possibly the harshest climate on the planet. Thanks to climate change, they are losing their traditional way of life as rapidly as the polar ice caps are melting. While this drama may seen remote and unimportant to those who defend what they believe to be their God-given right to burn fossil fuels, what befalls the Inuit may soon befall all of us. In simple terms, they are the canaries in the coal mine of climate change.
[…] Read more

Missing E-Mails May Never Be Found

Flooded Village Files Suit, Citing Corporate Link to Climate Change

Baquba Losing Life – And Hope

Anti-War Movement Wrestles with 1968

Public Broadcasting Activists Refute McCain Campaign ‘Facts’ on FCC Letters



Harvey Wasserman | Did Florida Nuke Plant Take State to the Radioactive Brink Again?

Robert Scheer | What the Times Didn’t Tell About McCain

William Hartung | Say It Ain’t So, Ralph!

Amira Hass | Gaza: The Breakthrough That Did Not Happen

John Nichols | Clinton’s Cringe-Worthy Moment

Noam Chomsky | The Most Wanted List: International Terrorism

and more…



Institute for Public Accuracy (IPA): Why Do McCain, Obama and Clinton Want a Bigger Military?

Eleven Conservation Groups Challenge Federal Wolf Delisting

Beyond Nuclear: Documents Debunk Myth of French Nuclear ‘Success’

and more…




The Smirking Chimp

February 17, 2008

There are some very interesting threads going on at The Smirking Chimp. These are a couple of examples:

How Far Will the Clintons Go?
by Robert Parry (Feb. 16, 2008)

Hillary Clinton, who has built her case for the presidency on her superior “ready on Day One” management skills, burned through almost $130 million of campaign money, had to kick in $5 million from her own murky family funds, and is now pressing her chief financial backers to find creative ways to raise more money.

Some of those financial schemes appear to skirt the law – as some backers consider putting money into “independent” entities that can spend unlimited sums but aren’t supposed to coordinate with the campaign – while other ideas are more traditional, like appealing to wealthy donors involved with the pro-Israel AIPAC lobby.

Doomsday for the Greenback: Iran’s Oil Bourse could Topple the Dollar
by Mike Whitney (Feb. 4, 2008)

Two weeks ago George Bush was sent on a mission to the Middle East to deliver a horse’s head. We all remember the disturbing scene in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather” where Lucca Brassi goes to Hollywood to convince a recalcitrant movie producer to use Don Corleone’s nephew in his next film. The “Big shot” producer is finally persuaded to hire the young actor after he wakes up in bed next to the severed head of his prize thoroughbred. I expect that Bush made a similar “offer they could not refuse” to the various leaders of the Gulf States when he met with them earlier this month.The media has tried to portray Bush’s trip to the Middle East as a “peace mission”, but nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, three days after Bush left Jerusalem, Israel stepped-up its military operations in the occupied territories and resumed its merciless blockade of food, water and medicine to the 1.5 million people of the Gaza Strip. Bush must have green-lighted Israel’s aggression or it would have been seen as an insult to the President of the United States.

So, what was the real purpose of Bush’s trip? Why would he waste time visiting the Middle East if he had no real interest in promoting peace or resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict?


Stomping on Their Children’s Dreams

February 11, 2008

The Obama-Clinton showdown has set up a painful generational conflict between many mothers (who want Hillary Clinton to be the first woman president) and their children (who are inspired by Barack Obama). The battle offers a poignant echo of how an earlier generation of idealistic young people saw their dreams stomped on, in 1968.

For the full story, go to

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Tomgram: Laura Flanders, Whose Political Moment Is This?

February 9, 2008

“Not long ago,” began Wednesday’s lead Los Angeles Times election piece by Doyle McManus and Peter Wallsten, “political strategists viewed Super Tuesday as a day that would likely crown the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, a 24-state extravaganza that would bring the long primary campaign to an orderly conclusion. They were wrong.” That was pretty typical of the press coverage of what ABC had labeled a “showdown coast to coast” and, while it wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t quite right either.

After all, there already was a winner from this primary season (other than Senator McCain): the media, which had mustered its all, campaigned extravagantly coast to coast, and installed “eye-popping technological wizardry” like CNN’s MagicWall, “a huge monitor upon which newsman John King could manipulate maps and images with the poke of a finger as if handling an oversized iPhone.” The good news — for cable TV in particular, which has been getting splendid enough ratings off the “historic” primary season to generate a “ratings war” — is that it is now guaranteed to go on and on. Okay, it’s not “American Idol,” but by November 4th, it is likely to be the longest running continuous “reality show” on television, which isn’t bad either. As Ch! arlie McCollum of the San Jose Mercury has written: “Television executives have reacted to these [ratings] numbers the way television executives always do when ratings spike. They have ordered more ‘episodes,’ expanding the time devoted to the campaign.” In fact, media enthusiasm for the primary season, as I wrote recently, has reached “feeding frenzy” proportions.

It seems that Democratic voters have also ordered a few more “episodes” of our electoral reality show. Host of RadioNation on Air America Radio Laura Flanders has spent her time in recent years considering quite a different kind of enthusiasm than the media one, an enthusiasm that has slowly been rising from grassroots activism in and around the Democratic Party and whose spirit she’s caught in her book (just published in paperback), Blue Grit: Making Impossible, Improbable, Inspirational Political Change in America. Now, as the media revs up for the next set of primaries leading to the two super-Conventions and a superduper presidential election for “change” (which will put neither a Superman, nor a Superwoman in the White House), she suggests we take a breath and consider where change is really coming from and whether it will ever actua! lly arrive. Tom

A New Moment?

The Grassroots and the Party, 1964 and 2008

By Laura Flanders

The swirl of the primary season is intoxicating and the media love it. If the ratings records set by the recent political debates are any indication, the ongoing primary battle may yet save cable TV. “Super Tuesday” — the night that was supposed to wrap everything up — didn’t (for either party). Clearly, this extended nomination contest is getting people excited, but will that excitement translate into substantive change — for Democrats in particular? The past offers some hard-knocks lessons worth thinking about.

Give this long primary season credit: It has, at least, turned that overused word “change” from a bumper slogan pooh-poohed by all knowledgeable pundits into a fact-based phenomenon. In the closest thing the nation has seen to a countrywide primary, first term Senator Barack Obama overcame Hillary Clinton’s double-digit leads in major states and national polls to win a majority of states on February 5th and draw into a tight battle over the delegate count. The two candidates closed out the evening with their spinmeisters already talking up Beltway Tuesday — the next catch-phrase friendly multiple-primary day — while promising more debates. Now, their operatives are off to Ohio for a March 4th primary that everyone assumes will be crucial.

The chance to be seen and heard in more than just a handful of quirky early-primary states has already made a striking difference for the Illinois Senator, who was the clear underdog when he entered the race. “What was a whisper has turned into a chorus,” Obama told his hometown crowd in Chicago on Tuesday night.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Tomgram: Susan Faludi, Hillary Clinton and the Rescue Card

November 14, 2007

Whatever fears Americans have at the moment — and with oil heading into the once unimaginable $100-a-barrel range and the housing market in freefall, fears are not unreasonable — they do not add up to Fear with a capital “F,” as in the days and weeks after the attacks of September 11, 2001. They do not add up to the kind of abject fear that proved so useful to the Bush administration as it prepared to launch its Global War on Terror and future invasion of Iraq by scaring Americans into passivity.

As Mark Danner wrote recently in the Los Angeles Times, war is a godsend for politicians, “for glowing at its heart is that most lucrative of political emotions: fear. War produces fear. But so too does the rhetoric of war.” Right now, that rhetoric — specifically the fear of terrorism — is not much at the forefront of American minds. A recent Washington Post-ABC News poll found that a modest 17% of Republicans and a vanishingly small 3% of Democrats put “terrorism” among their top two concerns. This may be one reason why the leading Republican candidates, with little to offer and saddled with seven years of George Bush, are so over the top on potentially fear-inducing subjects like war with Iran.

Of course, this is the present situation — but it should never be forgotten just how close to the surface, how easily flushed from cover such Fear can be, given the right circumstances, which could easily enough arrive in 2008 on the wings of terror, via American planes heading Iran-wards, or in ways as yet unimaginable. No one has offered as stunning a vision of how this all worked after 9/11 as Susan Faludi in her remarkable new book, The Terror Dream, Fear and Fantasy in Post-9/11 America. No one has offered anything like the stunning description and analysis of just what dreams and terrors the deadly duo of al-Qaeda and the Bush administration conjured up from the deepest reaches of American consciousness.

When al-Qaeda played the terror card and the Bush administration cunningly responded with the “rescue” card, it took Americans deep into their cultural past, right back to the earliest seventeenth-century bestsellers (captivity narratives of young women taken by Indian raiders on the “frontier” of New England) as well as into a more recent past of cowboy rescuers, the sort who saved helpless young women in the darkened movie theaters of George’s and my own childhoods. Playing that rescue card was, as Todd Gitlin wrote recently at, the “second hijacking” of 9/11. It took Americans from a confrontation with real enemies into a fantasy world that called up the most stereotypical roles in our gender dictionary. (“Welcome to war against an Axis of Injuns to protect the honor of the wimmenfolk.”) It is an amazing, if thoroughly chilling, tale that we are not yet done w! ith. The book is simply riveting, a must-read. The fantasies conjured up are still wildly, unpredictably at play including in the present, strange presidential campaign that Susan Faludi anatomizes below. Tom

They Always Play the Gender Card

But Hillary Shuffles the Deck
By Susan Faludi

No sooner had Hillary Clinton proceeded from the Democratic presidential debate to a speech at Wellesley College last week than the wailing began. Barack Obama hit the “Today” show accusing her of playing the “don’t pick on me” woman and a chorus line of media pundits denounced her for having hurt the cause of feminism by acting like the injured girl and dealing the “gender card.”

New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd contended that Clinton was trying to show “she can break, just like a little girl…. If she could become a senator by playing the victim after Monica, surely she can become president by playing the victim now.” FOX News’ Mort Kondracke preached: “I think it is very unattractive for a general election candidate, who wants to be the Commander in Chief of the free world, to be saying ‘They’re ganging up on me!’ I mean, this is the NFL. This is not Wellesley versus Smith in field hockey.”

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

Hillary Clinton’s Unspoken Vulnerability

November 6, 2007

Hillary Clinton’s unique status as the first First Lady to seek the presidency has a potential dark side.

She is also the first presidential candidate who — along with her spouse — has been under the regular, long-term surveillance by an agency of the Executive Branch controlled by the opposing party.

For the full story, go to

Hillary Clinton and the Anti-war voters

February 23, 2007
Hillary's Calculations Add Up to War

Hillary’s Calculations Add Up to War

Clinton refuses to admit her mistakes about Iraq and

proceeds to make the same ones with Iran.

Clinton To Anti-War Voters: Bring It On

Clinton To Anti-War Voters: Bring It On

Clinton invites voters to turn elsewhere for an anti-war

presidential candidate, and they will oblige.