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newthinking

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Member since: Tue Feb 9, 2010, 11:51 PM
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10,000 protest new government in Moldova as tensions rise

Source: http://news.yahoo.com/moldova-braces-more-protests

Chisinau (AFP) - Around 10,000 people staged a mass protest in the Moldovan capital Chisinau on Thursday as tensions in the pro-Western nation flared following the secret midnight swearing-in of a new government.



People attend a rally in front of the Parliament building in Chisinau, Moldova on January 21, 2016 (AFP Photo/Dorin Goian)

Lawmakers of the impoverished former Soviet republic on Wednesday approved a new government amid political turmoil, with protesters storming the parliament building and opposition legislators attempting to block the vote.

The swearing-in of the new cabinet has exacerbated tensions over alleged high-level corruption in the country of 3.5 million wedged between Ukraine and Romania.

Opposition protesters marched along the capital's main avenues in sub-zero temperatures and rallied in front of the parliament building, which was blocked off by a police cordon six rows deep.


Read more: AFP

MLK Jr.: One of the Nation's Great Democratic Socialists

Martin Luther King Jr.: One of the Nation's Great Democratic Socialists
by Peter Dreier
CommonDreams.org

http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/01/18/martin-luther-king-jr-one-nations-great-democratic-socialists


Martin Luther King Jr Memorial at night in Washington, DC. (Photo: Scott Abelman/flickr/cc)


As we celebrate his birthday, it is easy to forget that Rev. Martin Luther King was a democratic socialist.

In 1964, accepting the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, he observed that the United States could learn much from Scandinavian "democratic socialism." He often talked about the need to confront "class issues," which he described as "the gulf between the haves and the have-nots."

In 1966 King confided to his staff:

"You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth, and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism."

In holding these views, King followed in the footsteps of many prominent, influential Americans whose views and activism changed the country for the better. In the 1890s, a socialist Baptist minister, Francis Bellamy, wrote "The Pledge of Allegiance" and a socialist poet, Katherine Lee Bates, penned "America the Beautiful." King was part of a proud tradition that includes such important 20th century figures as Jane Addams, Eugene Debs, Florence Kelley, John Dewey, Upton Sinclair, Helen Keller, W.E.B. DuBois, Albert Einstein, A. Philip Randolph, Bayard Rustin, and Walter Reuther.

Today, America's most prominent democratic socialist is Senator Bernie Sanders, a candidate for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. Like King, Sanders says that the U.S. should learn from Sweden, Norway and Denmark -- countries with greater equality, a higher standard of living for working families, better schools, free universities, less poverty, a cleaner environment, higher voter turnout, stronger unions, universal health insurance, and a much wider safety net. Sounds anti-business? Forbes magazine ranked Denmark as the #1 country for business. The United States ranked #18.


Continued:
http://www.commondreams.org/views/2016/01/18/martin-luther-king-jr-one-nations-great-democratic-socialists

 Uncle Sam Got a Shiny New Propaganda Bullhorn for Christmas

[font size=3]Uncle Sam Got a Shiny New Propaganda Bullhorn for Christmas
The Nation Magazine
http://www.thenation.com/article/uncle-sam-got-a-shiny-new-propaganda-bullhorn-for-christmas/


[center] A new partnership is turning Radio Free Europe into an
anti-Russia propaganda machine.
[/center]


As we begin 2016, with the American mainstream media’s anti-Russia bias as deeply entrenched as never before, comes the news that the US government–funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL) has partnered up with the online magazine the Interpreter.

Previously, the Interpreter had been a “special project” of the Manhattan-based Institute for Modern Russia (IMR), a think tank funded by the exiled Russian oligarch Mikhail Khordorkovsky. In announcing the change, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, the journalist and CNN fixture Michael Weiss, said his organization was “excited to serve as an outpost of such a venerable news organization.”

An RFE/RL official told The Nation that the deal stipulates that RFE/RL will have exclusive rights to publish and translate articles from the Interpreter for RFE/RL’s audience abroad, while The Interpreter will be, in turn, obligated to publish each installment of ITS intractably Russo-phobic “The Power Vertical” blog.

According to Weiss, given his “magazine’s trajectory, a partnership with RFE/RL makes perfect sense.” That is only too true, given the marked decline in RFE/RL’s standards since the heyday of the Cold War.

Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty were founded in 1950 by the State Department’s first Director of Policy Planning, George F. Kennan, in coordination with the postwar Office of Policy Coordination (OPC). In founding RFE and RL (the two entities merged in 1976), Kennan and the OPC, according to Kennan biographer John Lewis Gaddis sought “to provide financial support and employment opportunities for Eastern European émigrés, as well as anti-Soviet broadcasts to their homelands.”
[/font]

Continued:
http://www.thenation.com/article/uncle-sam-got-a-shiny-new-propaganda-bullhorn-for-christmas/


Nuclear weapons risk greater than in cold war, says ex-Pentagon chief

Source: The Guardian

William Perry lists a series of factors that he says mean the chance of a ‘calamity’ is higher today than in the 1970s and 80s

The risks of a nuclear catastrophe – in a regional war, terrorist attack, by accident or miscalculation – is greater than it was during the cold war and rising, a former US defence secretary has said.

William Perry, who served at the Pentagon from 1994 to 1997, made his comments a few hours before North Korea’s nuclear test on Wednesday, and listed Pyongyang’s aggressive atomic weapons programme as one of the global risk factors.

He also said progress made after the fall of the Soviet Union to reduce the chance of a nuclear exchange between the US and Russia was now unravelling.

“The probability of a nuclear calamity is higher today, I believe, that it was during the cold war,” Perry said. “A new danger has been rising in the past three years and that is the possibility there might be a nuclear exchange between the United States and Russia … brought about by a substantial miscalculation, a false alarm.”


Read more: http://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jan/07/nuclear-weapons-risk-greater-than-in-cold-war-says-ex-pentagon-chief

Crimea faces months without power rather than be defined as part of Ukraine

Source: The Telegraph

Vladimir Putin asked Crimeans to choose between months of blackouts and signing an electricity contract that says the region is still part of Ukraine.


People play chess holding a torch near Nakhimov's Square in Sevastopol, Crimea Photo: AP

Residents of Crimea are facing several more months of blackouts after being asked to choose between energy shortages or signing an electricity supply contract that defines the peninsula as part of Ukraine.

The peninsular, which was annexed by Russia in 2014, has been in a state of emergency since an “energy blockade” by Ukrainian activists left nearly two million people without power in November.

The survey consisted of two questions: “Do you or do you not support signing a commercial contract with Ukraine for delivery of electricity to Crimea and Sevastopol, if it says that Crimea and Sevastopol is part of Ukraine?”

The second question was: “are you prepared to endure temporary difficulties connected with minor interruptions in the energy supply over the next three to four months?”



Read more: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/russia/12077725/Crimea-faces-months-without-power-rather-than-be-defined-as-part-of-Ukraine.html



Crimeans vote to give up electricity contract with Ukraine even if it means more power cut-offs

https://www.rt.com/politics/327673-crimea-vote-contract-ukraine/


Headlights exposing residents of Simferopol crossing a motor road. © Maks Vetrov / Sputnik

About 2,500 people in Crimea and 500 in Sevastopol participated in the poll, meaning the statistical margin for error doesn’t exceed 4.5 percent, according to Fyodorov.

If Ukraine doesn’t change the wording in question, Russia is most likely to abandon the contract, Dmitry Peskov, the Russian president’s press secretary, said, upon learning of the outcome of the poll. Putin has already been informed of the results of the survey, he added.

The vote was ordered by President Putin, who wanted to know if locals approved of the renewal of the contract with the Ukrainian Ukrenergo company.

The order followed yet another power line disruption that occurred on December 30 when an electricity pylon was blown up. Ukrainian ultranationalists from the Right Sector group had already damaged a pylon in November, and then prevented rescue teams from repairing it. Since that act of sabotage, Crimea has been suffering from constant blackouts, prompting Russia to boost its own power supplies.

https://www.rt.com/politics/327673-crimea-vote-contract-ukraine/




Endless War, Undeclared and Undebated

Endless War, Undeclared and Undebated

The Obama administration is waging war all over the world — without congressional authorization.

Foreign Policy in Focus

http://fpif.org/endless-war-undeclared-undebated/

The death of six US soldiers in Afghanistan on December 21 at the hands of a Taliban suicide bomber brings to 21 the number of US combat deaths there in 2015. Once again we must confront the question of national purpose in waging war without debate or declaration. Like all other battlefield deaths in the Middle East, the Obama administration rationalizes these latest as being part of “training, advising, and assisting,” not combat. But those are merely code words for direct interventions that Congress has not authorized since 2002, in clear violation of restrictions the War Powers Resolution of 1973 places on presidential power.

There will be plenty more casualties in the Middle East for years to come, and not just because of the seemingly permanent US military presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Consider two recent news items. According to a plan not yet formally approved, the Pentagon wants to create a worldwide string of “hubs” as staging areas for Special Operations forces to strike quickly against terrorists. Second, most members of Congress are unwilling to introduce and debate a bill authorizing the Obama administration’s use of force in the Middle East and beyond. Thus, there is no end in sight to the US at war, both because the Pentagon has found the perfect enemy and because no one in Congress is willing to stand up to it.

The Pentagon’s plan is to have a forward presence that, in the words of Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, “will enable unilateral crisis response, counterterror operations, or strikes on high-value targets.” Not long ago the Pentagon’s mantra was “places, not bases,” so as to avoid all the political problems, as well as the monetary costs, associated with a permanent military presence on foreign soil. Now “places” evidently have been modified to “hubs” and “spokes,” Pentagon-speak for small-scale leased bases of the sort already in place all over Africa. Northern Iraq and southern Europe are being considered as additional hub sites.

Beltway Resistance

Not everyone is reportedly on board with the Pentagon’s plan. The State Department correctly sees it as a power grab that may actually harm US foreign policy. The plan works at cross-purposes with diplomacy, substituting the deployment and use of force for potential opportunities to engage governments and rival groups. More US military facilities, no matter their size, invite criticism in the host countries, may become targets of terror groups, and feed the hostile propaganda of militants. In our terrorism era, however, State has no chance to win this battle.


Continued:
http://fpif.org/endless-war-undeclared-undebated/

Ukraine: When the Right Sector Runs the Courtroom

Ukraine: When the Right Sector Runs the Courtroom

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/ukraine-when-the-right-sector-runs-the-courtroom/

[center]

[font size=3]In Ukraine there is almost daily right-wing violence against the police and judiciary.[/font][/center]


[font size=2]On November 30, 100 members of the Right Sector stormed the Malinowski Court in Odessa. Security officers were simply pushed aside. Masked men and muscular women stood threateningly before the three judges. The judges had approved a ruling to release on bail five people detained since the violent events of May 2, 2014 in the city.

The judges were threatened by masked vigilantes if they didn’t sign letters of resignation. A video report captures the confrontation. It shows the anxious looks on the judges’ faces. They signed the resignation letters and exited the courtroom.

A short time later, the ruling to release the five anti-Maidan protesters was reversed, due, it was said, to “the failure to take account of certain facts”. Their detentions were extended for two months.

Jurisprudence in Odessa is experiencing black days in the month of December. Only five weeks ago, a committee of experts of the Council of Europe issued a lengthy report sharply criticizing the Ukrainian justice system because of the protracted investigation of the events of May 2, 2014 in Odessa. On that day 18 months ago in the city, six people were shot dead by unidentified men on both sides of a street battle between Maidan and anti-Maidan forces. Shortly after on the same day, 42 people died in an arson attack on the Trades Union House in the center of the city where government critics (anti-Maidan) had fled. Not one of the arsonists is in custody. It is not known what stage the investigation into the arson attack has reached. [The full, 91-page report of the Council of Europe is here. News reports are here in English and here in German.][/font]

Right sector threatens judges with grenades

In recent weeks, attacks by the Right Sector against judges and high government officials are piling up all over Ukraine.


Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/18/ukraine-when-the-right-sector-runs-the-courtroom/

American Nightmare: the Depravity of Neoliberalism

American Nightmare: the Depravity of Neoliberalism

by Michael Welton

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/



Deciphering the meaning of Neo-liberalism as a historical force and societal form requires the energies and know-how of a sagacious sleuth like Hercule Poirot. Wendy Brown, a philosophy professor at UCLA (Berkeley) and author of Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution, has a Poirot intellectual sensibility and acuity that sees what most of us cannot.

Those of us who have written on neo-conservative politics and neo-liberalism as an economic form have illuminated many dimensions of “something new” that has emerged out of the collapse of welfare state liberal democracy in the West over the last five decades.

But putting all the pieces of this intricate puzzle together and detecting not only particular patterns but also the logic underlying neo-liberalism is a complex task.

What is the connection between the US Empire’s contempt for law and truth-telling and neo-liberalism?

And how is it that citizens can be so passive in the face of evident government prevarication, endless spinning of false narratives, the evisceration of democratic morality and countless corporate and government scandals?

Continued:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/04/american-nightmare-the-depravity-of-neoliberalism/

Phony Generosity: the Self-Serving Charity of Mark Zuckerberg

Phony Generosity: the Self-Serving Charity of Mark Zuckerberg

by Ted Rall

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/03/phony-generosity-the-self-serving-charity-of-mark-zuckerberg/

CEO Mark Zuckerberg promises to give 99% of his Facebook shares to charity — eventually.

Exact phrasing: the stock, currently worth $45 billion, will be donated “during [he and his wife’s] lives.” He’s 31 and she’s 30, so actuarial tables being what they are, by approximately the year 2065.

If Facebook or the Internet or the earth still exist.

Whoop de doo.

I would be far more impressed if Facebook would put some money into the American economy. How? By hiring more workers — a lot more workers. Facebook’s market cap is $300 billion — almost ten times more than GM. GM has 216,000 employees. I’m not sure Facebook could find work for 2 million workers — but 12,000 is pathetic. They might start by hiring a few thousand 24-7 customer service reps so they could respond quickly when some antisocial pig posts your nude photo.

Point two: this is all about control.

A donation to an independent, classic 501(c) charity can come with strings attached — the money is only for a children’s wing of the hospital, no adults — but it’s ultimately spent by the charity based on its directors’ decisions. Under the LLC structure Zuckerberg will maintain nearly dictatorial control over the funds he’s “donating” to “charity.”

It’s the difference between you giving a hundred bucks to the United Way, and taking a hundred bucks out of your wallet and dropping into a coffee can in your kitchen. Maybe the C-spot in the coffee can will go to the poor. Maybe not. It certainly isn’t accurate to claim you gave it to charity.



Full article:
http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/12/03/phony-generosity-the-self-serving-charity-of-mark-zuckerberg/

It’s not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe

It’s not just Fox News: How liberal apologists torpedoed change, helped make the Democrats safe for Wall Street

Center-left pundits have carried water for the president for six years. Their predictable excuses all ring hollow
Thomas Frank
SALON

http://www.salon.com/2015/01/11/its_not_just_fox_news_how_liberal_apologists_torpedoed_change_helped_make_the_democrats_safe_for_wall_street/

As the Obama administration enters its seventh year, let us examine one of the era’s greatest peculiarities: That one of the most cherished rallying points of the president’s supporters is the idea of the president’s powerlessness.

Today, of course, the Democrats have completely lost control of Congress and it’s easy to make the case for the weakness of the White House. For example, when Frank Bruni sighed last Wednesday that presidents are merely “buoys on the tides of history,” not “mighty frigates parting the waters,” he scarcely made a ripple.

But the pundit fixation on Obama’s powerlessness goes back many years. Where it has always found its strongest expression is among a satisfied stratum of centrist commentators—people who are well pleased with the president’s record and who are determined to slap down liberals who find fault in Obama’s leadership. The purveyors of this fascinating species of political disgust always depict the dispute in the same way, with hard-headed men of science (i.e., themselves) facing off against dizzy idealists who cluelessly rallied to Obama’s talk of hope and change back in 2008.

It is, in other words, a classic apologetic. The pundit, a clear-thinking, reality-based fellow (and yes, they are almost always fellows), knows that if you paid attention back in 2008 you understood that Obama wasn’t promising anything great. Plus, the president has delivered all kinds of subtle but awesome stuff that his soft-headed fans overlook. Besides, there are those awful racist Republicans. Good Christ! Would we rather have one of them in the Oval Office?

Continued:
http://www.salon.com/2015/01/11/its_not_just_fox_news_how_liberal_apologists_torpedoed_change_helped_make_the_democrats_safe_for_wall_street/
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