Daily Archives: May 10, 2016

Who Rules the World?: Noam Chomsky

The world’s leading intellectual offers a probing examination of the waning American Century, the nature of U.S. policies post-9/11, and the perils of valuing power above democracy and human rights

In an incisive, thorough analysis of the current international situation, Noam Chomsky argues that the United States, through its military-first policies and its unstinting devotion to maintaining a world-spanning empire, is both risking catastrophe and wrecking the global commons. Drawing on a wide range of examples, from the expanding drone assassination program to the threat of nuclear warfare, as well as the flashpoints of Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, and Israel/Palestine, he offers unexpected and nuanced insights into the workings of imperial power on our increasingly chaotic planet.

In the process, Chomsky provides a brilliant anatomy of just how U.S. elites have grown ever more insulated from any democratic constraints on their power. While the broader population is lulled into apathy―diverted to consumerism or hatred of the vulnerable―the corporations and the rich have increasingly been allowed to do as they please.

Fierce, unsparing, and meticulously documented, Who Rules the World? delivers the indispensable understanding of the central conflicts and dangers of our time that we have come to expect from Chomsky.

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Tomgram: Noam Chomsky, What Principles Rule the World? | TomDispatch

Posted by Noam Chomsky at 6:50am, May 10, 2016.
Follow TomDispatch on Twitter @TomDispatch.

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Below is
part 2 of Noam Chomsky’s essay, “Masters of Mankind,”
excerpted from his new book,
Who
Rules the World?

I hardly need say it, but you really should pick up a copy of the book. It’s remarkable that, so
many decades later, Chomsky’s thinking is still so fresh and insightful (or perhaps it’s a sad measure of how little has actually changed when it comes to power and pain on this planet). If you missed the first part of his essay, click here  to read it.

And a small reminder as well about the pile of TomDispatch-recommended

books that’s undoubtedly been growing by your bedside, just in
case you want to raise it a little higher: for any of you
willing to contribute $100 or more ($125 if you live outside
the United States), a signed, personalized copy of Nick
Turse’s powerful new Dispatch Book, Next
Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead
, is still
available, as is Rebecca Gordon’s
American
Nuremberg: The U.S. Officials Who Should Stand Trial for
Post-9/11 War Crimes
. Check our
donation page
for the details. To read the
Turse essay that launched his new book at TD,
click
here
. Tom]

The Costs of Violence
Masters of Mankind (Part 2)
By Noam Chomsky

[This piece, the second of two parts, is excerpted from
Noam Chomsky’s new book, Who
Rules the World?
(Metropolitan Books).
Part 1 can be found by clicking
here
.]

In brief, the Global War on Terror sledgehammer strategy has spread jihadi terror from a tiny corner of Afghanistan to much of the world, from Africa through the Levant and South Asia to Southeast Asia. It has also incited attacks in Europe and the United States. The invasion of Iraq made a substantial contribution to this process, much as intelligence agencies had predicted. Terrorism specialists Peter Bergen and Paul Cruickshank estimate that the Iraq War “generated a stunning sevenfold increase in the yearly rate of fatal jihadist attacks, amounting to literally hundreds of additional terrorist attacks and thousands of civilian lives lost; even when terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan is excluded, fatal attacks in the rest of the world have increased by more than one-third.” Other exercises have been similarly productive.

A group of major human rights organizations — Physicians for Social Responsibility (U.S.), Physicians for Global Survival (Canada), and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (Germany) — conducted a study that sought “to provide as realistic an estimate as possible of the total body count in the three main war zones [Iraq, Afghanistan, and
Pakistan] during 12 years of ‘war on terrorism,'” including an extensive review “of the major studies and data published on the numbers of victims in these countries,” along with additional information on military actions. Their “conservative estimate” is that these wars killed about 1.3 million people, a toll that “could also be in excess of 2 million.” A database search by independent researcher David Peterson in the days following the publication of the report found virtually no mention of it. Who cares?

More generally, studies carried out by the Oslo Peace Research Institute show that two-thirds of the region’s conflict fatalities were produced in originally internal disputes where outsiders imposed their solutions. In such conflicts, 98% of fatalities were produced only after outsiders had entered the domestic dispute with their military might. In Syria, the number of direct conflict fatalities more than tripled after the West initiated air strikes against the self-declared Islamic State and the CIA started its indirect military interference in the war — interference which appears to have drawn the Russians in as advanced US antitank missiles were decimating the forces of their ally Bashar al-Assad. Early indications are that Russian bombing is having the usual consequences.

…(read more).

See:

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Whistle-Blowers Accuse Facebook of Censorship, Bias – The Takeaway – WNYC

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg(C) answers questions during a media event at Facebook’s headquarters in Menlo Park, California on March 7, 2013.
(Josh Edelson/AFP / Getty)

Published in The Takeaway    May 10, 2016From and

Just because Facebook says that a story is trending doesn’t mean that it’s actually the most talked about thing on the platform. Instead, a group of “news curators” choose which topics and stories should surface on the social network’s trending column. That process may stretch the definition of “trending,” but it’s not all that surprising.

But it might surprise you to know that Facebook may be deliberately filtering out some kind of stories and boosting others. This week, five former Facebook employees revealed to Gizmodo that they routinely suppressed conservative news. All of the former news curators declined to be named in the report for fear of violating their non-disclosure agreements with the company.

“We take allegations of bias very seriously,” a Facebook spokeswoman said in a statement. “Facebook is a platform for people and perspectives from across the political spectrum.”

The Federalist, a conservative online magazine, published an editorial condemning Facebook for “blacklisting” conservative sites, but Sean Davis, co-founder of The Federalist, says it’s also not that surprising given the company’s opaque algorithms.

Though the idea of censorship might rub you the wrong way, many argue that Facebook is a private company that can promote the kind of content it wants. New York University Professor Jay Rosen, the author of PressThink, a blog about journalism in the digital age, weighs in on the debate.

…(read more).

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Glenn Greenwald on Brazil: Goal of Rousseff Impeachment is to Boost Neoliberals & Protect Corruption


Democracy Now!

Published on May 10, 2016

http://democracynow.org – Brazil’s Senate has forged ahead with impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, despite an earlier move by the interim house speaker to derail the process. The previous house speaker, Eduardo Cunha, had led the bid to oust Rousseff, before he himself was suspended over corruption. On Monday, his replacement, Waldir Maranhão, sought to annul the lower house’s vote in favor of impeachment charges, citing procedural flaws. But the speaker apparently reversed course in the middle of the night, releasing a statement reversing his decision, without explanation. The Senate appears poised to vote Wednesday on whether to put Rousseff on trial; if a majority side against her, she would be suspended. We speak with Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Glenn Greenwald, who lives in Brazil. “People have started to realize, internationally but also here in Brazil, that although this impeachment process has been sold, has been pitched as a way of punishing corruption, its real goal, beyond empowering neoliberals and Goldman Sachs and foreign hedge funds, the real goal is to protect corruption,” Greenwald says.

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Ralph Nader: Sanders Should Stay in Democratic Race, Is Only Losing Due to Anti-Democratic System


Democracy Now!

Published on May 10, 2016

http://democracynow.org – Polls have opened in West Virginia, where Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton are vying for the 29 delegates up for grabs. Eight years ago, Clinton won West Virginia in a landslide, beating Barack Obama by 40 percentage points—but many polls project Sanders will win today. We speak to longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader, who argues that Sanders would be winning the primary race if every state had open primaries.

Part 2:

Part 3:

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Facebook Accused of Suppressing Conservative News Stories

May 10, 2016 Headlines
And the social media site Facebook has been accused of suppressing news stories on political grounds. Former Facebook workers told the website Gizmodo they routinely suppressed news stories of interest to conservative readers by keeping them out of the “trending” stories section on the sidebar. Among the topics they purportedly suppressed were those about the right-wing CPAC gathering, Mitt Romney and Rand Paul. They were also told to exclude news about Facebook itself, they said. Gizmodo technology editor Michael Nuñez wrote: “In other words, Facebook’s news section operates like a traditional newsroom reflecting the biases of its workers and the institutional imperatives of the corporation.” Facebook has denied the allegations it filtered out conservative stories.

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Report: 1 in 5 Plant Species Worldwide at Risk of Extinction + 5 Tiny Pacific Islands Disappear Due to Climate Change

May 10, 2016 Headlines
One in five species of plants worldwide are at risk of extinction amid threats from farming, logging, urbanization and human-made climate change. The global study led by the Royal Botanic Gardens in London is the first of its kind. Researcher Steve Bachman described its findings.

Steve Bachman: “If we completely clear the land and have a kind of monoculture, what happens when a new plant disease emerges and wipes out the crop entirely? So having a more diverse and flexible approach to producing our crops means we’re more likely to be robust for the challenges in the future, especially as the climate changes, more diseases, more insects start to infest the crops. All of that stuff is likely to happen.”

May 10, 2016Headlines

In another sign of the impact of climate change, at least five tiny Pacific islands have disappeared due to erosion and rising sea levels. They are part of the Solomon Islands, one of the most densely populated Pacific Island nations.

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