True North Humanist Perspective - December 2014

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While Americans weren't looking, intellectually stunted

politicians brought them closer to all-out war with Russia

Robert Bridge has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1998. Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, Bridge is the author of the book, “Midnight in the American Empire.”

By Robert Bridge
07 December 2014 — On December 4, as America was tuned into Thursday night football, or staring into the cold depths of the refrigerator at commercial time, House members brought the nation one step closer to all-out war with Russia.

Future historians — that is, assuming there are humans still around to contemplate history — may one day point to House Resolution 758 as the single piece of legislation that sparked a global conflagration between two leading nuclear powers.

This is not hyperbole. US rhetoric against Russia is quickly overstepping reality, causing US politicians to endorse policies that severely inflate the perceived threat. When political veteran Ron Paul says the House passed what he ranked as “one of the worst pieces of legislation ever,” well, we had better sit up and switch off CNN, especially when that legislation happens to involve a historical heavyweight like Russia.

Resolution 758 was forged in a political furnace of unbalanced, one-sided debate, where American politicians regularly attempt to outdo each other in a lame contest called ‘Russian fear mongering.’ This popular game, which is never out of season, is played among intellectually challenged officials looking for quick political advantage; a bit like Special Olympics for American politicians where everybody goes home a winner. (More)


How many Muslim countries

has the U.S. bombed or occupied since 1980?

By Glenn Greenwald
The Intercept

Image: Photo of US Senator Dianne Feinstein.08 November 2014 Barack Obama, in his post-election press conference yesterday, (Friday 07 November 2014), announced that he would seek an Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) from the new Congress, one that would authorize Obama’s bombing campaign in Iraq and Syria—the one he began three months ago. If one were being generous, one could say that seeking congressional authorization for a war that commenced months ago is at least better than fighting a war even after Congress explicitly rejected its authorization, as Obama lawlessly did in the now-collapsed country of Libya.

When Obama began bombing targets inside Syria in September, I noted that it was the seventh predominantly Muslim country that had been bombed by the U.S. during his presidency (that did not count Obama’s bombing of the Muslim minority in the Philippines). I also previously noted that this new bombing campaign meant that Obama had become the fourth consecutive U.S. President to order bombs dropped on Iraq. Standing alone, those are both amazingly revealing facts. American violence is so ongoing and continuous that we barely notice it any more. Just this week, a U.S. drone launched a missile that killed 10 people in Yemen, and the dead were promptly labeled “suspected militants” (which actually just means they are “military-age males”); those killings received almost no discussion.

To get a full scope of American violence in the world, it is worth asking a broader question: how many countries in the Islamic world has the U.S. bombed or occupied since 1980? That answer was provided in a recent Washington Post op-ed by the military historian and former U.S. Army Col. Andrew Bacevich: (More)

The human face of the young men and women who ready

themselves for the next Kiev attack on their democracy

'They shell our cathedrals. They destroyed a convent near the airport. They shot a priest dead in Konstantinovka last May. So the Orthodox believers are here for a reason'

By Nadezhda Kevorkova

Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.

17 November 2014 The strength and whereabouts of the International Brigade operating in east Ukraine is a secret. Yet it is possible to interview the unit’s ragtag troops. They have no single ideology or political affiliation.

But they do believe in accepting volunteers regardless of their background and religion.

The brigade’s ranks include Christians, Muslims and atheists; miners and novice monks; young and old; loners and family men. It even has a few young women.

Most of them have never even heard of the Spanish Civil War where the term “International Brigade” springs from. They have no idea of Communism or Socialism. Sticking to the old Soviet mindset, they still regard Nestor Makhno, the Donbass-born Civil War hero, a symbol of anarchy, while seeing Joseph Stalin as the epitome of order.

But if today’s International Brigade fighters are to win their war, they have yet to develop an ideology to underpin their unity. The only ideology they currently share is their brotherhood in arms. (More)


Is Atheism an intellectual luxury for the wealthy?

The people who challenged my lack of faith the most were drug addicts and prostitutes

By Chris Arnade
The Guardian (UK)

They prayed whenever they could find 15 minutes. "Preacher Man", as we called him, would read from the Bible with his tiny round glasses. It was the only book he had ever read. A dozen or so others would listen, silently praying while stroking rosaries, sitting on bare mattresses, crammed into a half-painted dorm room.

I was the outsider, a 16-year-old working on a summer custodial crew for a local college, saving money to pay for my escape from my hometown. The other employees, close to three dozen, were working to feed themselves, to feed their kids, to pay child support, to pay for the basics of life. I was the only white, everyone else was African-American.

Preacher Man tried to get me to join the prayer meetings, asking me almost daily. I declined, preferring to spend those small work breaks with some of the other guys on the crew. We would use the time to snatch a quick drink or maybe smoke a joint.

Preacher Man would question me, "What do you believe in?" I would decline to engage, out of politeness. He pressed me. Finally I broke, (More)


Putin demonized for thwarting

neocon plan for global domination

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter

By Neil Clark

08 November 2014 — The continuing attacks on Vladimir Putin and Russia by members of the western political, military and journalistic elite tell us one thing — the Russian President is doing a good job both for the people of his country and in the international arena.

For it is a rule which invariably holds true — if the Western elites praise the leader of a foreign country it means he is doing something which is good for those elites and bad for his country. If he’s demonized, as Putin is, it’s the other way round.

The latest attack has come from Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The US Army general said that Russia was “pushing on the limits of international order.”

Dempsey talked of the need to “deter Russian aggression against our NATO allies” – and said that Russia had “kind of lit a fire of nationalism.”

“Once you light that fire, it's not controllable,” the General said. “I am worried about Europe.”

It’s worth reflecting on Dempsey’s words as they provide a classic example of what psychologists call ‘projection’. The US General was accusing Russia of what his own country has been guilty of. (More)


The bullying of Hungary

The country that dared to disobey the US and EU

By Neil Clark

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter

07 November 2014 RT —  25 years ago, Hungary was being toasted in the West for opening its border with Austria to East Germans, in a move which led to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Now the Western elites are not happy with Budapest which they consider far too independent.

The refusal of Prime Minister Viktor Orban and his ruling Fidesz party to join the new US and EU Cold War against Russia, which has seen the Hungarian parliament approving a law to build the South Stream gas pipeline without the approval of the European Union, in addition to the populist economic policies Fidesz has adopted against the largely foreign owned banks and energy companies, has been met with an angry response from Washington and Brussels. (More)


Lame duck out of the Silk Road caravan

Neo-cons lead once proud Washington down to the swamp of oblivion

Pepe Escobar is the roving correspondent for Asia Times/Hong Kong, an analyst for RT and TomDispatch, and a frequent contributor to websites and radio shows ranging from the US to East Asia.

''With this kind of stuff passing for “analysis” in US academic circles, and with the Washington/Wall Street elites through their myopic Think Tank land still clinging to mythical platitudes such as the “historical” American role as arbiter of modern Asia and key balancer of power, no wonder public opinion in the West cannot even imagine the impact of the New Silk Roads in the geopolitics of the young 21st century.

'A quarter of a century after the fall of the Berlin Wall the US, for all practical purposes, is run by an oligarchy. Europe is geopolitically irrelevant. “Democracy” has been degraded to self-parody in most of the West. “Humanitarian” – as well as neo-con - imperialism in Iraq, Libya, Syria, and beyond has led to disaster after disaster. Financial turbo-capitalism is a time bomb.'

By Pepe Escobar

11 November 2014 There’s hardly a more graphic illustration of where the multipolar world is going than what just happened at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing.

Take a very good look at the official photos. This is all about positioning – and this being China, pregnant with symbolic meaning. Guess who’s in the place of honor, side by side with President Xi Jinping. And guess where the lame duck leader of the “indispensable nation” has been relegated. The Chinese can also be masters at sending a global message.

When President Xi urged APEC to “add firewood to the fire of the Asia-Pacific and world economy,” here following is what he meant, irrespective of inconclusive decisions out of the summit. (More)


Vicious circle: UK govt hypes terror threat its policies create

 Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at Follow him on Twitter

16 October 2014 If the UK government really sought to keep the nation safe from terrorism, it would stop meddling in the internal affairs of Mideast states instead of hyping the Islamic terror threat, and at the same time, doing everything for it to be in place.

Exactly 70 years ago this autumn, British civilians faced a very real terror threat — in the shape of Nazi Germany’s V-2 rockets. While exactly 40 years ago, an IRA bombing campaign brought ‘The Troubles’ of Northern Ireland to the British mainland.

What is interesting about the events of 1944 and 1974 is that the government downplayed the threat to citizens, even though the threat of being killed or injured in the violence was greater than it is now. A V-2 rocket attack, for instance, killed 160 shoppers on one occasion.

Today though, with Islamic terrorism, the opposite has happened. The government keeps reminding us of the enormous dangers we face. No one disputes that there is an Islamist terror threat in the UK, we remember the terrible 7/7 bombings in London which killed 52 people in 2005, but the government seems keen to hype the threat, whereas in the past it played such threats down and didn't allow terror attacks to change our way of life. We have invasive security procedures at our airports, tanks appearing at Heathrow just a few days before the big anti-Iraq war march in London in 2003 and our private emails and phone calls intercepted in the so-called “war on terror.”

Meanwhile, truth-tellers and whistleblowers like Edward Snowden and Julian Assange are attacked by establishment gatekeepers for the help their revelations might give to “terrorists.” (More)


The Book Case

The truth on female desire: Base, Animalistic and Ravenous

A new book on women's sexuality turns everything we think we know on its head.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

There is a conspiracy theory at the heart of this book. Even to the most casual observer of human history, it isn’t news that women’s sexuality has been feared, suppressed and lied about. But “What Do Women Want?: Adventures in the Science of Female Desire” by journalist Daniel Bergner uses groundbreaking sex research to show the ways in which our supposedly enlightened society still has female sexuality backward — completely, utterly, profoundly.

In accessible and entertaining prose, “What Do Women Want?” details everything from individual women’s fantasies to the search for a “female Viagra.” More important, though, it represents a complete paradigm shift. The book, which grew from a much-discussed New York Times Magazine cover story in 2009, reveals how gender stereotypes have shaped scientific research and blinded researchers to evidence of female lust and sexual initiation throughout the animal kingdom, including among humans. It reveals how society’s repression of female sexuality has reshaped women’s desires and sex lives. (More)


The folly of the new cold war

By W. George Krasnow

Eurasian/Russian Studies
Georgetown MA in Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies

14 November 2014When in 1974, after being deported from the USSR and finding refuge in the USA, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn said that he and his books will return to a free Russia, US sovietologists met his declaration with disbelief and ridicule. How dare he challenge their wisdom that the best we could do in the foreseeable future was to contain the USSR in its sphere of influence? Communism was indeed the enemy the USA elites loved to hate.

I recalled this while reading Costs of a New Cold War: The US-Russia Confrontation over Ukraine, a collection of essays by prominent American and Russian scholars. Published by the Center for the National Interest, the book features an introduction by Paul Saunders and essays by Thomas Graham and Blake Marshall, as well as Fyodor Lukyanov and Igor Yurgens of Russia.  Alas, it falls short of its goal “to illustrate the costs that any further unraveling of the US-Russian relationship may have for both Washington and Moscow.” (More)


These female contemporaries weren’t afraid of Virginia Woolf

By Louisa Tregor
If only women had written in Woolf’s day, the English novel would have still been in very capable hands. From Mansfield to Gibbons to Hall, here are authors who need not stand in Woolf’s long shadow.
Fans of Virginia Woolf may enjoy the following list of books written by her less famous female contemporaries. All these writers were known to Woolf, and one of them, Dorothy Richardson, is the subject of Louisa Treger’s new biographical novel, The Lodger (Thomas Dunne Books): (More)


Looking back from now

Why Australian PM Abbott behaves like a U.S. attack dog

and how America/Britain crushed their Ausie 'ally' in a coup

By John Pilger

23 October 2014 Across the political and media elite in Australia, a silence has descended on the memory of the great, reforming prime minister Gough Whitlam, who has died. His achievements are recognised, if grudgingly, his mistakes noted in false sorrow. But a critical reason for his extraordinary political demise will, they hope, be buried with him.

Australia briefly became an independent state during the Whitlam years, 1972-75. An American commentator wrote that no country had "reversed its posture in international affairs so totally without going through a domestic revolution". Whitlam ended his nation's colonial servility. He abolished Royal patronage, moved Australia towards the Non-Aligned Movement, supported "zones of peace" and opposed nuclear weapons testing.

Although not regarded as on the left of the Labor Party, Whitlam was a maverick social democrat of principle, pride and propriety. He believed that a foreign power should not control his country's resources and dictate its economic and foreign policies. He proposed to "buy back the farm". In drafting the first Aboriginal lands rights legislation, his government raised the ghost of the greatest land grab in human history, Britain's colonisation of Australia, and the question of who owned the island-continent's vast natural wealth. (More)


A Mormon in the Donbass militia

‘A volunteer’s motivation beats that of a draftee’

Nadezhda Kevorkova is a war correspondent who has covered the events of the Arab Spring, military and religious conflicts around the world, and the anti-globalization movement.

09 November 2014 (RT)— Sergey’s call sign is “Snow.” He was born in the Donbass. He’s a businessman, a Mormon and he’s happily married. He has been in the army for five months without getting any money.

He is one of the few soldiers who don’t hesitate to say their names and give their pictures. He is 40. He has been fighting since May 21. He participated in the bloodiest battle near Semyonovka, which is not far from Slavyansk. He was one of the first soldiers to receive a medal. He had a military unit under his command. On June 21, he was wounded in the leg. Now he is back on duty.

“I’m a Mormon, a sectarian, as they call us here, but I’m willing to shed my blood for the Donbass,” Sergey says. Sergey, his wife and their three kids are Mormons.

“Before I became a Mormon, I was an atheist. In the 1990s people didn’t feel so negative about things that come from America. We used to baptize whole families every week,” he says.

At that time the closest Mormon temple was in East Germany. There are no Mormon temples in Russia.

“We used to go to Germany twice a year to study and to pray,” Sergey says.

Later they built a temple in Kiev, but now he cannot take his family there, because they may arrest him for being a militiaman and a commander. (More)