Author: Steve Shalom

Selective Skepticism

Skepticism is always warranted in the face of government claims, but some folks seem unable to apply the same level of skepticism to claims by Syria's dictator as they do to those of the U.S. government. This will not help us in waging a sustained effective campaign against U.S. military action against Syria; to rest our case on acceptance of Assad's claims weakens our argument. We need to explain why a U.S.-led war on Syria is not the solution, whether or not Assad is responsible for the horrific chemical weapons attack in the Ghouta suburbs of Damascus.

Anti-Authoritarianism and the Syrian Revolution

A new website by the TAHRIR International Collective Network is trying to connect anti-authoritarian struggles in Europe and Middle East.

One response to austerity

The Austerity Allstars explain their political program.

May it catch on widely!

Factcheck.org on the GOP and Abortion

Factcheck.org, a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center at the University of Pennsylvania, often plays a useful role in exposing lies by political candidates. Sometimes, however, its factchecking is rather tendentious. Its coverage of the abortion stance of the 2012 Republican Party platform is a case in point.

The al-Awlaki Killing: Rights and Safety Blown to Smithereens

     The killing of Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen on Friday by a U.S. drone has elicited cheers from most mainstream politicians and pundits. Civil libertarians, however, have noted the terrible precedent this sets: here an American citizen has been targeted for assassination and executed solely on the say-so of the president, with no need to indict him, or present open evidence of his guilt. If the U.S. government had wanted to tap al-Awlaki’s phone, judicial review would have been required.

On Strike

On Thursday, House Speaker John Boehner told the Economic Club of Washington, DC, “Job creators in America are essentially on strike.”

     He was quite right. Although most people have heard of a strike by workers, capital too can go on strike, and often has done so to achieve its political and economic goals.

     Economists Sam Bowles and Herb Gintis explained in their book Democracy and Capitalism how the capital strike works:

Nasrallah on Libya

     The left discussion on Libya has been informed by very few of the Middle East’s anti-imperialist voices. In an article posted on ZNet, I present extended excerpts from a March 19 speech by Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Lebanon’s Hizbullah, on the Libyan uprising, the Arab revolts, and the role of the West.

Libya: Another View

     The Libyan intervention has challenged many on the Left. Of course there are those who cheer U.S. foreign policy everywhere and those who think Qaddafi is a left hero. But for those who reject both these points of view, the Libyan situation has still been very difficult to sort out. Mike Albert and I wrote a question and answer offering our views.

Tyrants Tremble

     Since the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, tyrants everywhere have been trembling, as have their backers in Washington, Paris, and Tel Aviv.

     Now Haaretz reports that the Israel Defense Forces (sic) are updating their plans for dealing with massive, nonviolent protests in the Occupied Territories.

Audacity and Insolence

       According to the Israeli government, two Iranian warships plan to sail through the Suez canal en route to Syria. Israel’s foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, declared that “this is a provocation that proves that Iranian audacity and insolence are increasing.” The international community, warned Lieberman, “must understand that Israel cannot forever ignore these provocations.”

Invidious Comparisons

       The New York Times ran a truly despicable story on its front page today. The article, by Scott Shane, argues that Pfc. Bradley Manning is not being treated so badly. But what moves this piece from the category of apologetics to contemptible is its opening paragraphs that try to contrast the plush circumstances of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange with the grim conditions under which Manning is being held:

The Gaza Flotilla

       Alan Dershowitz has suggested that to be effective Israeli propaganda should support 80 percent of what Israel does, and be critical of the other 20 percent. So I expected that Dershowitz would only approve 80% of the Israeli killings on the Gaza flotilla, while expressing some mild criticism regarding the IDF’s other victims. Silly me.

Phil Ochs – The Struggle Continues

Phil Ochs was, until his untimely death in 1976, one of the great American folksingers and songwriters, whose powerful lyrics — political and poetic — helped to inspire a generation. His sister Sonny Ochs has worked to keep Phil’s memory and his message alive by organizing concerts bringing together current-day folk singers, offering a mix of their own material and Phil’s.

Obama's War/Obama's Atrocities

     Since George Bush launched Operation Enduring Freedom in October 2001 — the unjust, illegal, and unnecessary attack on Afghanistan — there have been constant US and NATO strikes on Afghan civilians, along with constant denials that such strikes have taken place.

Two Invented Lives

[This article was published in New Politics No. 23, Summer 1997]

Review of HELLMAN AND HAMMETT, by Joan Mellen (HarperCollins, New York, 1996. 572pp. $30.00 HB, $13.00 PB)

9-11 Revelation

         Conspiracy theorists often take evidence of government cover-ups as proof that a conspiracy occurred. Sometimes a conspiracy may indeed have occurred, but often the cover-up was designed to hide not some grand conspiracy, but malfeasance, incompetence, or wrong-doing.

Obama Fudges History

In his speech justifying his escalation of the war in Afghanistan, President Obama reminded us why the US was fighting there in the first place. After 9-11, he recalled, the United Nations Security Council "endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks." And then, "only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden," did the United States send its troops into Afghanistan. This account is doubly wrong.

Machover on Collective Decision-Making

Moshe Machover, one of the founders of the Israeli Socialist Organization (Matzpen) back in the 1960s, is a specialist in the mathematics of voting. He has recently written a very valuable paper on Collective Decision-Making and Supervision in a Communist Society." He explains his use of the term "communist" as follows:

Mexican Government Seizes Power Plants, Liquidates Company, Fires Workers, Union in Jeopardy

October 11, 2009 — Mexican Federal Police last night and early this morning seized the plants of the Central Light and Power Company of Mexico (LyF) which provides electricity to Mexico City and several states in central Mexico. The government of President Felipe Calderón also announced the liquidation of the company, the termination of the workers, and thereby the elimination of the Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME) which has opposed the government's policies.

Mexican Government Prepares to Seize Mexico City Power Plants to Break Power of Electrical Workers Union

The Mexican Preventive Police (PFP) are preparing to occupy the facilities of the Central Light and Power Company in Mexico City in an attempt to break the militant Mexican Electrical Workers Union (SME), according to a union press release. The union warns that the quasi-military occupation of the plants could come within a week. The PFP have been used in the last three years to attempt to break strikes of miners and steelworkers as well as to try to crush popular social movements.

Afghan Rules of Engagement

There’s an AP story today that the U.S. commander in Afghanistan “will soon order U.S. and NATO forces to break away from fights with militants hiding among villagers.” The order is expected to reduce “the use of air strikes, mortars and artillery in villages.” There are three points to note here: 1. The order does not prohibit U.S. troops from using massive force when civilians are nearby if the troops are in “imminent danger,” and indeed, the order allows massive force if necessary to avoid “undue danger” to the troops.

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