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Longwood Gardens.  February, 2013.  Photo by: joanneleon

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - "Ohio" (1970) Kent State University Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young - "Ohio" (1970) Kent State University 43 Years Ago

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Will Bunch at Attytood in the Philly papers.

"My 285th post on Kent State." Why the 1960s still matter

One reason the comment struck a chord it was more spot on than he or she realized, because I've actually been obsessing about the 1960s more than ever in the last year. Some of the reasons are surely just personal: The arrival of mid-life (heh, if I live to be 108) has caused me to think back more and more about the things I've seen along the way and how the scenery has changed. In a few months will be the 50th anniversary of my first political memory -- a 4-year coming in from the chilly yard and seeing his mother weeping, and trying to understand the incomprehensible notion that someone had shot the president. At some point when I wasn't paying attention, the 1960s went from a wired near-present to an unplugged past on the other side of something, an era that comes to me now so distantly through the AM radio static of a Galaxy 500, fading echoes of "Mr. Tambourine Man."  

That feeling of loss intensified a year and a half ago when I covered the Occupy Wall Street movement, a no-acid flashback in living color, a thousand people in the street -- and then we looked away for a second, looked back and they were gone, like a mirage. It confirmed for me something that I'd known inside for a long time -- that nothing like the things I'd witnessed through the innocent eyes of a child -- the chaos that was scary yet, in the words of a song, all too beautiful -- were ever coming back in any way that would be quite the same. Right after that brief "American Autumn," I reported an e-book on the 1948 Eagles and struggled with how many of those players were gone, or in various stages of dementia -- and it struck me one day that the front-line players, if you will, of the 1960s are not that far behind them,. In the last year, I found myself staying up to 2 a.m. to watch "Berkeley in the '60s" on Netflix, or listening to "Volunteers" or "Let It Bleed" while I worked, or reading "The Assassination of Fred Hampton" on the Market Street El. The obvious question hovered like a thought bubble while my strange time capsule whizzed over the 21st Century streets of West Philadelphia.


The question of why the 1960s matter to me is one thing, but what's important is, should the events of 50 years ago matter to the rest of us? Is what happened on May 4, 1970 - and in the tumultuous years leading up to it -- still relevant on May 4, 2013? OK, I've clearly revealed my bias, but I think the answer is undeniably yes -- because there is a straight line between the skirmishes people fought then and the all-too-real war for the future of America that is taking place today.

So Lindsey Graham told the world that Israel bombed Syria at a Republican party dinner last night.  I don't know what time this happened, but it was a dinner, so it probably wasn't very late.  The publish time on this Politico story is 9:14pm.  I saw it on Twitter soon after it was published and then there was a Twitterstorm.  I heard that MSNBC went to a breaking news format with Chris Hayes and Andrea Mitchell, so maybe the news broke during the 8 o'clock hour.  I don't know if Graham broke this news and if he is the "U.S. official" cited in many of the news stories.  Probably not, since he was not trying to remain as an anonymous source.  This situation with Syria just keeps getting more strange and complicated.  I also read that John Kerry is traveling to Moscow on Monday.
Lindsey Graham: 'Israel bombed Syria tonight'

COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham told a crowd here Friday night that Israel has bombed Syria.
Graham, a Republican who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, was addressing the South Carolina Republican Party’s annual Silver Elephant fundraising dinner. He mentioned the attack in passing, amid a longer discourse on U.S. national security policy.

“Israel bombed Syria tonight,” Graham said flatly, before moving on to a longer, dire discourse on the threat of a nuclear Iran.

U.S. Agency Is Expelled From Bolivia

“Some institutions of the United States Embassy continue to conspire against this process, against the people and especially against the country,” Mr. Morales said. As a result, he said, “We have decided to expel U.S.A.I.D. from Bolivia.”

He also said the expulsion was a response to comments last month by Secretary of State John Kerry that angered other leftist leaders in the region by conjuring images of an imperialist foreign policy. “The Western Hemisphere is our backyard,” Mr. Kerry said. “It’s critical to us.”

The United States “still has a mentality of domination, of subjugation,” Mr. Morales said.

The Isolationists Are Coming!
You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

Ask yourself: Do you oppose putting U.S. troops everywhere, all the time? If you answered yes, you might be an isolationist, according to the word’s new definition. A piece in Tuesday’s New York Times, based on a new NYT/CBS poll, warned that “Americans are exhibiting an isolationist streak, with majorities across party lines decidedly opposed to American intervention in North Korea or Syria right now.”

In the very next paragraph, however, we are told that, “While the public does not support direct military action in those two countries right now, a broad 70 percent majority favor the use of remotely piloted aircraft, or drones, to carry out bombing attacks against suspected terrorists in foreign countries.”

In other words, if you only support bombing unspecified foreign countries with flying robots, you're exhibiting an isolationist streak.

Remarkably candid piece from NPR.  The reason that Americans oppose intervention in Syria is that there has not been enough propaganda for it.  Amazing.  Is NPR outing it's (new?) real purpose here?
How Will Obama Make His Case On Syria?

Expectations aside, for now at least, Americans are not paying close attention to Syria, says Michael Dimock of Pew Research.

"Even with news recently about the possible use of chemical weapons, there's been no real surge of public interest in the situation," he says. "We're finding fewer than 1 in 5 telling us they're following it very closely, and that's been about the level of interest for the past two years now."

That low level of interest means it's somewhat of a blank slate in terms of defining how Americans look at the situation — creating an opportunity for the White House.

"There's a lot of research and literature over the decades that shows that the way in which a conflict is described has a big bearing on whether the public will support U.S. military intervention there," says Jeremy Rosner, who was on the National Security Council during the Clinton years.

Rosner offers an example: "If it's described mostly as an effort to contain violent behavior by a regime, that tends to draw much more support than for a venture which is meant to create internal change within the country."

Arming Syria’s Rebels Now an ‘Option,’ Says Pentagon Chief

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel confirmed today that the Obama administration is reconsidering its opposition to providing lethal weapons to the Syrian opposition.

“Arming the rebels, that’s an option,” Hagel said in a Pentagon press conference with his British counterpart, Philip Hammond. That confirmed a report from the Washington Post earlier this week that after reports of chemical weapons use in Syria, the Obama administration was considering a deeper involvement in the country’s bloody civil war.

Judging from Hagel’s comments, the administration is nowhere near a decision, let alone a specific package of weapons to send to the beleaguered rebels. The administration is “constantly evaluating” its options in Syria, Hagel said, waving aside a question from CNN’s Barbara Starr about uniformed U.S. military opposition to the move. Nor did Hagel, who has been skeptical of what he’s called a “lengthy and uncertain” war in Syria, express any enthusiasm for the measure.

“I’m in favor of exploring options,” Hagel said, when asked his personal view of arming the rebels.

Moon of Alabama.  There are a couple of other recent articles on the Moon of Alabama blog worth reading, about a more truthful article in the NYT about the situation (for a change) and then some misleading things from WaPo about Arab support for war in Syria. Link1 Link2.
More Arms For Destroying Syria

This is just political theater. These papers are conveniently forgetting their own reporting on Syria. The destruction of Syria with the help of jihadist groups has been planned since 2007. The U.S. has been sending arms to the insurgents from the very beginning. It has also run an extensive media campaign to support the insurgency. The U.S. exports grain and other food as "aid" to Syria which is then distributed by extreme radical al-Nusra cells. The first arms to Syria came from the black market, then from Libyan stockpiles, then arms were flown in from Croatia. All by or through U.S. secret services. The deliveries were made by the CIA from its large station in Benghazi, as well as through its stations in Turkey and Jordan. The groups those arms went to were vetted by the CIA and there is evidence that these weapons have also gone to takfiri jihadists like Jabhat al-Nusra. There is definitely no reluctance in official U.S. circles to arm anyone, no matter how radical there polices are, who is willing to destroy Syria.

In the end it does not matter whether the arms the CIA delivers are coming from Libyan, Croatian or U.S. stocks. It does not matter to which groups these arms are flowing to. More arms will only have one effect. The further destruction of Syria which the U.S. had planned for from the very beginning of its campaign.

Retired Col. Pat Lang, commenting on Spencer Ackerman's May 2 article.  As I usually do when excerpting Lang's posts, I disclaim that I strongly respect his writings on foreign policy and war and his important actions taken as part of VIPS, but I do not endorse any of this stances on social issues.
"Even With U.S. Guns, Syria’s Rebels Still Might Lose" - Ackerman

I have been trying to tell people this for years now.  The Syrian rebels are not going to be able to overthrow the Syrian government no matter what we give them.


They are a rabble of bits and pieces of various movements, many of them Sunni Islamic jihadist catspaws for Saudi Arabia who are interested in nothing but creating an Islamic emirate in the territory that is now the Syrian Arab Republic.

The government's supporters are Alawi, Shia, Sunni and Christian.  This is a majority coalition.

Iran and Russia support Syria both politically and in terms of materiel

I have said before on SST that IMO the Syrian rebellion is the product of Saudi religious irredentism in the Levant.  Some reject that idea saying that there are too few Sunnis in these countries for them to rule for long.  This is a profoundly ahistoric POV.  Sunni minorities ruled these countries for centuries and they could do it again with enough Gulf money behind them. pl

I was really surprised that Wilkerson said this.  To me, it shows how much trust Israel has lost since Netanyahu started his constant saber rattling for war and his determination to attack Iran.
Col. Lawrence Wilkerson: Chemical weapon use in Syria 'could have been an Israeli false flag...

Published on May 2, 2013
Retired Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell during the Bush administration, talks to Cenk about how President Obama should handle early evidence that Syria may have used chemicals weapons.

Oh gawd.  The hacker fearmongering again, now mixed with North Korea.
Pentagon Warns North Korea Could Become a Hacker Haven

North Korea is barely connected to the global internet. But it’s trying to step up its hacker game by breaking into hostile networks, according to a new Pentagon report.

“North Korea probably has a military computer network operations (CNO) capability,” assesses the Pentagon’s latest public estimate (.PDF) of the military threat from North Korea.

So far, suspected North Korean cyber efforts are more like vandalism and espionage than warfare — as with most so-called “cyberattacks” not related to the U.S. / Israeli Stuxnet worm. But the Pentagon believes Pyongyang is going to lean into network attacks in the future, largely out of necessity.

“Given North Korea’s bleak economic outlook, CNO may be seen as a cost-effective way to modernize some North Korean military capabilities,” the report assesses. “The North Korean regime may view CNO as an appealing platform from which to collect intelligence.”

Another interview with Jeremy Scahill, in which he discusses the drone strikes.  The book is available now.  He recommends buying it in an independent bookstore, or getting the Kindle version on Amazon.  I have the Kindle version and am reading it now and highly recommend it.  I also plan to buy the hardcover and to go to a book signing in Philadelphia in a couple of weeks.  The movie will be out in independent theaters starting June 7.
The Stream: Uncovering America’s Dirty Wars

David Dayen on Salon.  I'll just note that he and many others in the "critics" camp nailed this from day one (and were smeared as haters and conspiracy theorists for it). Still waiting for the retractions but the hyperpartisans are too busy building a case for why we are responsible for the losses that haven't happened yet in 2014.  Anyway, this is a must read.
Turns out much-hyped settlement still allows banks to steal homes
New data reveals mega-banks still illegally foreclosing on thousands. Get this: The housing settlement allows it

The absolute least Americans can hope for from a major government settlement with a large industry over well-documented crimes is that the industry wouldn’t, after signing the settlement, just continue to commit the same crimes day after day. After all, following the tobacco industry settlement, cigarette makers did manage to stop advertising to teenagers that their product had no medical side effects.

But new evidence reveals the nation’s largest banks have apparently continued to fabricate documents, rip off customers and illegally kick people out of their homes, even after inking a series of settlements over the same abuses. And the worst part of it all is that the main settlement over foreclosure fraud was so weakly written that it actually allows such criminal conduct to occur, at least up to a certain threshold. Potentially hundreds of thousands of homes could be effectively stolen by the big banks without any sanctions.

Before I get into the reasons why, let me step back. It is a sad fact of modern life and the foreclosure mess that I have to differentiate between the litany of settlements granted by the government to the big banks. In this instance, I’m talking about the National Mortgage Settlement, the $25 billion deal concluded a year ago between 49 state attorneys general, federal agencies like the Justice Department and the Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the five largest mortgage servicers: Bank of America, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citi and GMAC/Ally Bank. Under the settlement, banks pay a trifling amount in hard dollars to the states as well as foreclosure victims, and provide principal reductions and other loan modifications to struggling borrowers. They also agreed to comply with a broad set of servicing standards for the time period of the settlement, covering three years.

Most of the focus has been on the principal reductions, and whether the banks are actually accomplishing them for the benefit of homeowners. But it’s these servicing standards that are being violated. That’s the inescapable conclusion of new evidence disclosed by the Center for Investigative Reporting and NBC Bay Area. Focusing on mortgage documents and foreclosures in the San Francisco region, they found that “banks and their subsidiaries continue to file invalid documents and foreclose on properties to which they appear to have no legal right.”

Blog Posts and Tweets of Interest

Evening Blues

Transwoman's body found in pond near Cleveland...tied to concrete block
May '70: 5. The Gathering Storm
The Day America Stopped Hiring
Drones are the Most "Humane" Way to Kill, So Why the Hysteria?"
Yes, the 43rd anniversary of Kent State does more than ever
We should celebrate today - a great American turns 94

Pete Seeger - What Did You Learn In School?

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