Archive for March, 2010

Shades of the language used in 1776

(Chris Hedges, Truthdig, March 31, 2010)
[CLICK the above credit line for the full article]

Lately I’ve been reading Howard Zinn’s A People’s History of the United States and am finding it interesting to see how close some of the essayists of our day are beginning to sound like those from 1776. … Here’s a brief sample. The link above will take you to the full article.

The Democrats and their liberal apologists are so oblivious to the profound personal and economic despair sweeping through this country that they think offering unemployed people the right to keep their unemployed children on their nonexistent health care policies is a step forward. They think that passing a jobs bill that will give tax credits to corporations is a rational response to an unemployment rate that is, in real terms, close to 20 percent. They think that making ordinary Americans, one in eight of whom depends on food stamps to eat, fork over trillions in taxpayer dollars to pay for the crimes of Wall Street and war is acceptable. They think that the refusal to save the estimated 2.4 million people who will be forced out of their homes by foreclosure this year is justified by the bloodless language of fiscal austerity. The message is clear. Laws do not apply to the power elite. Our government does not work. And the longer we stand by and do nothing, the longer we refuse to embrace and recognize the legitimate rage of the working class, the faster we will see our anemic democracy die.

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Pentagon Planning to Stay at War for the Next 80 Years

(Tom Hayden, LA Times, March 31, 2010)
[CLICK the above credit line for the full article]

Without public debate and without congressional hearings, a segment of the Pentagon and fellow travelers have embraced a doctrine known as the Long War, which projects an “arc of instability” caused by insurgent groups from Europe to South Asia that will last between 50 and 80 years. According to one of its architects, Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan are just “small wars in the midst of a big one.” . . . Consider the audacity of such an idea. An 80-year undeclared war would entangle 20 future presidential terms stretching far into the future of voters not yet born. The American death toll in Iraq and Afghanistan now approaches 5,000, with the number of wounded a multiple many times greater. Including the American dead from 9/11, that’s 8,000 dead so far in the first decade of the Long War. And if the American armed forces are stretched thin today, try to conceive of seven more decades of combat. . . . the concept was polished in “a series of windowless offices deep inside the Pentagon” by a small team that successfully lobbied to incorporate the term into the 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review, the nation’s long-term military blueprint. President George W. Bush declared in his 2006 State of the Union message that “our own generation is in a long war against a determined enemy.” . . . Among defense analysts, Andrew J. Bacevich, a Vietnam veteran who teaches at Boston University, is the leading critic of the Long War doctrine, criticizing its origins among a “small, self-perpetuating, self-anointed group of specialists” who view public opinion “as something to manipulate” if they take it into consideration at all. . . . It’s time the Long War strategy was put under a microscope and made the focus of congressional hearings and media scrutiny. The American people deserve a voice in the strategizing that will affect their future and that of their grandchildren.  . . . Who exactly is the enemy in a Long War? Is Al Qaeda (or “Islamic fundamentalism”) considered to be a unitary enemy like the “international communist conspiracy” was supposed to be? Can a Long War be waged with only a blanket authorization against every decentralized group lodged in countries from Europe to South Asia? . . . The underlying issues should be debated now, before the future itself has been drafted for war.

Ruling elites seem to have learned through the generations –consciously or not– that war makes them more secure against internal trouble. –Howard Zinn
(from A People’s History of the United States)

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Déjà vu all over again

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Junk food ‘as addictive as heroin and smoking’

(Andrew Hough, The Telegraph, 29 Mar 2010)
[CLICK the above credit line for the full article]

Bingeing on junk food is as addictive as smoking or taking drugs and could cause compulsive eating and obesity, a study has found.

American researchers found burgers, chips and sausages programmed a human brain into craving even more sugar, salt and fat laden food. . . . Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute in Florida found laboratory rats became addicted on a bad diet just like people who became dependent on cocaine and heroin. . . . the study, published online in Nature Neuroscience, suggests for the first time that our brains may react in the same way to junk food as it does to drugs. . . . “The new study explains what happens in the brain of these animals when they have easy access to high-calorie, high-fat food.” . . . He added: “It presents the most thorough and compelling evidence that drug addiction and obesity are based on the same underlying neurobiological mechanisms.” . . . The very same changes occur in the brains of rats that over consume cocaine or heroin, and are thought to play an important role in the development of compulsive drug use. . . . The scientists fed the rats a diet modelled after the type that contributes to human obesity easy to obtain high-calorie, high-fat foods. Soon after the experiments began, the animals began to bloat. . . . Latest figures show that one in four people in Britain are obese with married people twice as likely to become obese than their single counterparts. . . . Eight in 10 men and almost 7 in 10 women will be overweight or obese by 2020. . . . Cases of devastating health conditions like heart disease, diabetes and stroke will increase with the nation’s waistlines, the recent Government-commissioned Foresight report warned.

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