what is the moral choice?

Red Mist Rising: Inside the World’s Most Powerful Terrorist Organization

Parry believes he is preaching a tough, gritty doctrine of “moral ambiguity.” What he is in fact advocating is the bleakest moral nihilism. To Parry, the structure of American power — the corrupt, corporatized, militarized system built and sustained by both major parties — cannot be challenged. Not even passively, not even internally, for Parry scorns those who simply refuse to vote almost as harshly as those who commit the unpardonable sin: voting for a third party. No, if you do not take an active role in supporting this brutal engine of war and injustice by voting for a Democrat, then it is you who are immoral.

You must support this system. It is the only moral choice. What’s more, to be truly moral, to acquit yourself of the charge of vanity and frivolity, to escape complicity in government crimes, you must support the Democrat. If the Democratic president orders the “extrajudicial” murder of American citizens, you must support him. If he chairs death squad meetings in the White House every week, checking off names of men to be murdered without charge or trial, you must support him. If he commits mass murder with robot drones on defenseless villages around the world, you must support him. If he imprisons and prosecutes whistleblowers and investigative journalists more than any other president in history, you must support him. If he cages and abuses and tortures a young soldier who sought only to stop atrocities and save the nation’s honor, you must support him. If he “surges” a pointless war of aggression and occupation in a ravaged land and expands that war into the territory of a supposed ally, you must support him. If he sends troops and special ops and drones and assassins into country after country, fomenting wars, bankrolling militias, and engineering coups, you must support him. If he throws open the nation’s coastal waters to rampant drilling by the profiteers who are devouring and despoiling the earth, you must support him. If he declares his eagerness to do what no Republican president has ever dared to do — slash Social Security and Medicare — you must support him.

For Robert Parry, blinded by the red mist of partisanship, there is literally nothing — nothing — that a Democratic candidate can do to forfeit the support of “the left.” He can even kill a 16-year-old American boy — kill him, rip him to shreds with a missile fired by a coddled coward thousands of miles away — and you must support him. And, again, if you do not support him, if you do not support all this, then you are the problem. You are enabling evil.

Accomplices to Murder

“So what made you aware of me in particular?”

“Well, you left lots on comments on lots of websites. And you expressed a lot of worries and concerns — about Social Security and Medicare, about the treatment of women, about the environment, about the Supreme Court. A lot of concern, and a lot of comments. And a lot of emails, too. Of course, we agree with all your worries about what the other party might do, but we were upset to see that you were so worried about what the President would do. And you expressed so much concern about the President and his plans that we thought you were almost asking to be noticed, asking to be reassured. That’s why I’ve come to talk to you.”

She listened very intently. As he spoke, she was thinking, well, that’s true. She had left lots of comments about those subjects, she had written lots of emails. She did want her concerns to be noticed, to be understood. And she had seen and heard all those stories about the government’s surveillance programs. If she were honest with herself, she realized, she couldn’t say she was surprised.

“Yes. Yes, I see,” she said after a few moments had passed. “I would like to believe the President will make sure the policies he says he believes in are followed and protected. I guess … I just didn’t expect to be reassured in such a personal way.”

“It’s a new day, Mrs. Hamilton. A new time. We have dangerous enemies. Sometimes they turn up in unexpected places. We have to be vigilant. The President has talked a lot about all of that, too. I’m sure you’re aware of what he’s said about how committed he is to protecting innocent Americans, aren’t you?”

“Yes … yes, I suppose you’re right. I just hadn’t thought it through all the way.”

“Almost no one does. I have to admit that I find that very disappointing. I mean, I’d like to think people understand the meaning of what they say they support. On the other hand, it makes our job easier in many ways.” Mrs. Hamilton began to look worried again, even frightened. Damn, he said to himself. You always say too much in these meetings. This isn’t the time to question the complexities of what you do, what you have to do.

“But look,” he quickly went on. “As I said, I’m here to reassure you. You don’t need to worry anymore about Social Security or Medicare, or Supreme Court appointments, or any of the other things you’ve written about so often. So often.” He smiled at her, and quietly laughed. She finally offered a small laugh in return. “The President is fully committed to the policies he’s talked about, the policies you support. Of course, we never know how obstructionist the other party will be, or what difficulties they’ll cause. So there are some elements that aren’t within the President’s control. Still, to the greatest extent possible, the President will make sure all those things you’re so strongly committed to will be protected. We want to make sure you know that.”

“All right. But … but, couldn’t someone have just sent me a letter?” She looked at him with an amused expression.

“Sure, I suppose we could have done it that way. But everyone complains about how impersonal government has become, the curse of bureaucracy and all that. You’ve written about that, too.”

“Yes, yes, I have.” She laughed again.

“So we thought a personal visit would be much better. We want to emphasize how strongly we’re committed to the policies we all want. Much better to hear it from someone in person, don’t you think?”

“It is much more convincing than a form letter.” She smiled. After a moment, she asked, “And that’s it? That’s what you wanted to tell me?”

He extended his arms, palms turned upwards, as if to say, That’s all I’ve got. He still wasn’t able to lie about it right to someone’s face, especially to a lovely woman like Mrs. Hamilton. Not that it mattered at this point. But still.

“We should be going. Say goodbye to the nice man, Joanna.” They had stood up. Joanna turned to Maddox and said, “Bye!,” smiling radiantly. God damn it, he thought. He had stood, too. He raised his hand and gave a little wave.

They had taken just a couple of steps when he spoke again.

“Mrs. Hamilton.” She stopped; she and Joanna turned to him. “Yes?” She didn’t look at all frightened any longer. It usually happened that way. It always surprised him.

“I’m afraid there is one more thing. After we’d become aware of you because of all those comments and emails, we did some further checking. Just routine stuff. But it turned up some donations you’ve been making regularly to a few charities. Two of those charities appear on the list of organizations we’ve designated as terrorist groups.”

“What are you talking about? I don’t give money to terrorist groups.”

“I realize that. You thought you were donating to charities. But the charities are fronts for terrorist organizations. And you’ve made donations to them regularly for years. And it wouldn’t matter so much, except that we recently received intelligence indicating that one of those terrorist organizations is planning a major attack right here in the city. It’s something big, so stopping the attack has been given the highest priority. We have to do everything possible to stop it, and to stop everyone who has any connection to it. Any connection at all. I’ve checked and rechecked all of this with the main office. We have no choice, not if we want to protect innocent American lives.”

He said all this with great calm and deliberation. He wanted to be sure she understood. Not that it mattered, he told himself again. But still. He saw the color drain from her face. She gripped Joanna’s hand with all her strength. He saw that, too. She understood.

“To stop everyone …” Her voice trailed into nothingness.

“Yes. Everyone.”

“But … but we’re in the park. Someone could come by at any moment.”

“No one ever comes here, except you. And Joanna. I can’t tell you how sorry I am that Joanna is with you. There wasn’t any other way to do it. But Joanna … well. Unavoidable collateral damage. Awful.”

He looked genuinely pained. She thought, He still has a kind face. How can he have a kind face? In the next moment, he took his hand out of his pocket and raised the gun.

In the same moment, she started to scream, “Run, Joanna, r—.” There were two soft sounds, pock-pock. A small hole opened in Joanna’s forehead, followed a split second later by a hole in Mrs. Hamilton’s forehead. For a moment, both bodies remained frozen in place. Then they both slowly crumpled to the ground, and the blood began to pool around their heads.

He put the gun back in his pocket. He looked around to make certain no one else could be seen. That wasn’t actually a problem. The drones that regularly swept over the park would pick up anyone who might have witnessed the murders. If there were witnesses, they could be dealt with easily enough. But it was better not to have any loose ends.

He began to walk out of the glen. When he reached the turn in the path, he turned back to take one last look. The pools of blood continued to spread on the ground beneath the bodies. There was nothing else to see in this quiet corner of the park.

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Body of War…

Tomas Young. (Photo by Claudia Cuellar)

Tomas Young, Rest in Peace

In February 2013, appearing before an audience of “Body of War” in Litchfield, Conn., via video stream, he shocked the audience by telling them that he intended to end his own life by stopping eating.

He was still in his hometown of Kansas City, Mo., with his wife, Claudia Cuellar. Tomas was battling extreme, chronic pain, and as Claudia told us after his death, he found some relief from marijuana, which is illegal in Kansas and Missouri. So they moved to Oregon, where medical marijuana is legal. Unfortunately, Claudia felt the Veterans Affairs hospital in Portland did not support his use of marijuana, and punitively reduced his prescription pain medications in response. Seeking a safe, compassionate place for Tomas, they moved to Seattle, another place with legal medical (and now, recreational) marijuana. Tomas and Claudia felt the VA dragged its heels, leaving them to ration his pain pills.

It was in the midst of this ordeal that Claudia found Tomas, last Monday morning, lying in deep silence. He was dead.

Eighteen months earlier, he had written an open letter to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. He ended the letter: “My day of reckoning is upon me. Yours will come. I hope you will be put on trial. But mostly I hope, for your sakes, that you find the moral courage to face what you have done to me and to many, many others who deserved to live. I hope that before your time on earth ends, as mine is now ending, you will find the strength of character to stand before the American public and the world, and in particular the Iraqi people, and beg for forgiveness.”

May Tomas Young, who fought so hard for peace in life, now rest in peace.

Tomas Young and the End of the Body of War

The Last Letter: A Message to George W. Bush and Dick Cheney From a Dying Veteran

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.

I write this letter on behalf of husbands and wives who have lost spouses, on behalf of children who have lost a parent, on behalf of the fathers and mothers who have lost sons and daughters and on behalf of those who care for the many thousands of my fellow veterans who have brain injuries. I write this letter on behalf of those veterans whose trauma and self-revulsion for what they have witnessed, endured and done in Iraq have led to suicide and on behalf of the active-duty soldiers and Marines who commit, on average, a suicide a day. I write this letter on behalf of the some 1 million Iraqi dead and on behalf of the countless Iraqi wounded. I write this letter on behalf of us all—the human detritus your war has left behind, those who will spend their lives in unending pain and grief.

You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.
I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Body of War

Click on colored font above for link to the full film “Body of War”

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“Alive they were taken. Alive we want them back.”

Outrage in Mexico over missing students broadens into fury at corruption, inequality

Felipe de la Cruz stepped to the microphone in the floodlit plaza of his missing son’s school.

The protests about his son and dozens of others abducted by police had been building for weeks. The next morning, caravans of buses would drive out of these wooded hills to spread their defiant message to far corners of Mexico, as protesters in different states blocked highways, seized town squares, closed airports, and burned cars and buildings.

“The parents are enraged by so much waiting and so few results,” De la Cruz, who has emerged as a spokesman for the victims’ families, told the crowd last Wednesday. As of Monday, he said, “the flame of insurgency has been lit.”

In the seven weeks since police drove away with Cruz’s 19-year-old son, Angel, and 42 of his classmates at a teachers’ college in the rural state of Guerrero, the localized rage of their relatives at the forced disappearances has flashed across the country and the world, drawing condemnations from everyone from President Obama to Pope Francis. The crime has captured Mexico’s attention unlike nearly any other atrocity in the recent years of brutal drug-war violence, and spawned a protest movement that has shown no signs of abating. President Enrique Peña Nieto, who returned this weekend from an extended trip abroad, is now facing the most acute crisis of his two years in office.

Protests rage over missing students in Mexico ahead of national strike

On Nov. 20, three caravans with relatives and classmates of the missing Aytozinapa students will converge on Mexico City to join the mass protests after having traveled across Mexico raising awareness of state corruption.

“We are sending caravans to Chiapas, to Morelos and also to states in the north. Then we will all congregate in Mexico City on the 20th,” Ayotzinapa students told Fox News Latino.

As Mexico strikes, supporters in New York City will march from the Mexican consulate to the United Nations. They will call for justice for the Ayotzinapa students, according to members of #YoSoy123NY.

The disappearance of the 43 students has shocked a nation already desensitized after decades of violence perpetrated by the state and drug cartels. The crime has torn away at the credibility of President Enrique Pena Nieto, whom protesters accuse of being complicit in the crime either by action or inaction.

For his part, Pena Nieto has promised to bring the perpetrators to justice in a country where 98 percent of crimes go unsolved. A series of mass graves discovered in the so-far fruitless search for the missing students has undercut the president’s assertion that Mexico has become safer and less corrupt under his watch.

Demonstrators in Guerrero, including classmates of the disappeared students, have torched government buildings in the state capital, Chilpancingo, and Iguala, the city where the 43 students were attacked. Activists have also set the doors of the National Palace in Mexico City on fire and occupied the Acapulco airport in condemnation of the crime. More action has been promised if the students are not returned safely.

Mexican Political Party on the Verge of Dissolution

The PRD, which Cardenas helped found in 1989, rules Guerrero state, as well as the city of Iguala, where students from the Ayotzinapa teacher college were fired upon by local police last September 26-27, resulting in the deaths of six people and the disappearance of 43 students.

The national attorney general has accused the arrested PRD mayor of Iguala, Jose Luis Abarca, of the deaths of six people, including three students, and masterminding the student disappearances, along with his wife, an aspiring mayor.

The PRD governor of Guerrero, Angel Aguirre, resigned over the scandal, and students demand that he be punished for his role in this and other acts of repression.

In his open letter, Cardenas called on Carlos Navarrete and the PRD leadership to resign to allow a process of reconstruction to begin under provisional leadership.

Tens of Thousands March to End Impunity for the Mexican Narco-State

Click on colored font above to link to Real News film of above title.

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what should the relationship between police and the rest of us be?

Police expert: War on terror has turned our cops into occupying armies — and we’re the enemy

“In the early 2000s, particularly after 9/11, we saw a paradigm shift from community policing and problem-oriented principles to the war on terror, and we became Homeland Security police,” said Nolan, who has worked in the federal agency’s Office of Civil Rights and Civil Liberties.

He said this shift toward “homeland security” had quickly destroyed the relationships police had worked nearly two decades to build.

“I think what has happened as a direct result of that, is that those relationships that we forged, and worked so hard to attain and to maintain in the late 1980s and early 1990s, began to erode because the police were seen, particularly in communities of color, as an army of occupation,” Nolan said.

“If you dress police officers up as soldiers and you put them in military vehicles and you give them military weapons, they adopt a warrior mentality,” he continued. “We fight wars against enemies, and the enemies are the people who live in our cities – particularly in communities of color.”

US cities brace for protests off Ferguson decision

In Las Vegas, police joined pastors and other community leaders this week to call for restraint at a rally tentatively planned northwest of the casino strip when a decision comes.

Activists in Ferguson met Saturday to map out their protest plans. Meeting organizers encouraged group members to provide their names upon arrest as Darren Wilson or Michael Brown to make it more difficult for police to process them.

In a neighboring town, Berkeley, officials this week passed out fliers urging residents to be prepared for unrest just as they would a major storm — with plenty of food, water and medicine in case they’re unable to leave home for several days.

In Boston, a group called Black Lives Matter, which has chapters in other major cities, is organizing a rally in front of the police district office in the Roxbury neighborhood the day after an indictment decision.

In Albuquerque, New Mexico, police are expecting demonstrations after having dealt with a string of angry protests following a March police shooting of a homeless camper and more than 40 police shootings since 2010.

Philadelphia police spokesman Lt. John Stanford said he anticipated his city will see demonstrations, regardless of what the grand jury returns.

But big-city police departments stressed they’re well-equipped to handle crowds. Many saw large but mostly peaceful demonstrations following the 2013 not-guilty verdict in the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin by neighborhood watch coordinator George Zimmerman. In New York, hundreds of protesters marched from Union Square north to Times Square, where a sit-in caused gridlock.

The New York Police Department, the largest in the nation, is “trained to move swiftly and handle events as they come up,” spokesman Stephen Davis said.

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the illusory drug war(s)…

It’s No Accident
Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High

Is that why Afghanistan has emerged as the world’s biggest producer of heroin, because the CIA is somehow involved?

It seems quite likely, although I suspect it has less to do with greed than it does with policy. After all, the production and trafficking of narcotics helps the US achieve its strategic goals in Afghanistan, that is, to pacify the public, to maintain the loyalty of the warlords, and to open the country to resource extraction and military bases. As long as the warlords get their payola, the US is able to maintain some control over the hinterland beyond Kabul, which is a big part of the gameplan. Now check out this blurb from an article by Alexander Mercouris titled “The Empire of Chaos and the War on Drugs” which gives a brief history of the CIA’s involvement in the drug trade:

…during the French war in Indochina, the SDECE (French secret service) … turned to the French Connection to organise the heroin traffic, partly in order to fund its own operations against the Vietnamese Communists. After the French left, this operation was taken over by the CIA, with opium poppies grown and processed in the area now known as the Golden Triangle by CIA-backed Chinese drug lords associated with the anti-Communist Kuomintang movement, which had ruled China before the 1949 Communist takeover. The extent of collaboration between the US and the drug traffickers was so great that in the 1960s, the CIA was actually arranging flights to ship heroin from southeast Asia to the US.

The extent of CIA and SDECE collusion with the French Connection and with the Chinese drugs lords of southeast Asia was exposed in 1972 by the US historian Alfred W. McCoy in a seminal book The Politics of Heroin: CIA involvement in the Global Drug Trade (first edition 1973 and third edition 2003)…

The center of opium cultivation then switched to Afghanistan, where the same pattern reproduced itself. The major cultivators and traffickers of opium and heroin were assorted criminals and gangsters who made up a large proportion of the so-called Mujahidin, the Islamic jihadi insurgency which the CIA was supporting in the 1980s because they were fighting the Soviets. These criminals, of whom the most notorious is the Afghan warlord and drug trafficker Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, used the Soviet war in Afghanistan as a cover and protection for their criminal activities. Later many of these same people formed the core of the so-called Northern Alliance, which, together with the US, overthrew the Taliban in 2001 and formed the government that has ruled Afghanistan ever since. The Taliban had tried to eradicate opium cultivation and heroin trafficking. Following their overthrow, both resumed with a vengeance…

Many people are vaguely aware that cocaine production and trafficking took off in Columbia in the 1970s and 1980s at a time when the right-wing pro-US Columbian government was fighting a counterinsurgency war against a left-wing guerrilla movement known as the FARC and that this war continues to this day…

What even fewer people know is that, repeating the pattern of what happened in southeast Asia in the 1960s and in Afghanistan in the 1980s, what caused the Latin American cocaine trade to explode was the CIA’s involvement in it. In the 1980s the CIA formed an alliance with the Colombian drugs lords to support the Contras, the right-wing insurgency the CIA supported to overthrow the left wing Sandinista government in Nicaragua. With CIA encouragement, the Contras themselves became heavily involved in the cocaine trade, as did the various right-wing paramilitary groups the CIA was simultaneously supporting in El Salvador during the civil war there. The key transit corridor of these Colombian drugs was Mexico, where the individual who controlled the cocaine trade was Miguel Gallardo, a gangster who is now acknowledged to have been a CIA asset. Gallardo is the acknowledged godfather of all the various vicious Mexican drug cartels that have proliferated in Mexico ever since, which have reduced parts of the country to a state of virtual war…

The CIA’s admission of its role in creating the modern cocaine trade is little known and barely acknowledged in the US. A look at the present state of the heroin trade makes it grimly obvious that nothing has changed and that no lesson has been learned.” (The Empire of Chaos and the War on Drugs, Alexander Mercouris, Sputnik)

Do you see the pattern here? This isn’t about profits. It’s about crushing workers movements, leftist organizations, and any emerging grassroots group that threatens the plutocratic system of wealth distribution. To achieve that end, Washington would just as soon climb into bed with jihadis and Neo Nazis as they would with druglords and narco kingpins. In fact, they have!

Afghan Opium Cultivation Rises to Record Levels

In their annual opium survey, the United Nations agency and the Afghan Ministry of Counternarcotics said Wednesday that Afghan opium cultivation had increased by 7 percent over 2013, while production had increased as much as 17 percent. The rise came even though worldwide demand for Afghan opium has stagnated and prices have dropped for the country’s opium farmers.

The numbers are particularly troubling, the agencies said, because in 2013, opium cultivation increased 36 percent over the year before, reaching its highest levels since the fall of the Taliban.

The Taliban regime in the late 1990s was the only Afghan government to completely eradicate opium cultivation, but the Taliban now both tax and actively participate in opium production.

The eight-month presidential and provincial elections, which included two rounds of voting and a protracted dispute over the results, affected opium production not only in the increased demand by politicians for campaign cash, but also in diverting police and military resources to the elections and away from opium eradication.

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