Great Vietnam Vet Interview on Bias in Democracy Now Reporting

Peace Activists Confront Amy Goodman on Biased Syria Coverage

by Ann Garrison

Amy Goodman, the producer and host of Democracy Now!, has long angered much of her progressive audience with her biased coverage of the proxy U.S. war against Syria. A Veterans for Peace chapter wants to give Goodman a piece of their minds. “The warmongers in Washington seem determined to use the story of Assad bombing his own people with chemical weapons. The MSM plays that story big time, and Amy Goodman echoes it on DN.”

by Ann Garrison

Amy has continued — with only rare exceptions — to promote the ‘Assad-did-it-again’ stories, on her show.“

Amy Goodman, host of the Pacifica Network’s flagship news hour “Democracy Now” is on a speaking tour of the country to celebrate the show’s 20th anniversary. When she appeared in Berkeley, East Bay Veterans for Peace, Chapter 162 were outside the First Presbyterian Church beforehand to distribute copies of their “Open Letter to Amy Goodman and Democracy Now: We Need Better and More Diverse Coverage on Syria.” Dissident Voice had published the essay on April 15. I spoke to Daniel Borgstrom, a former U.S. Marine, who wrote it for his vets group.

Ann Garrison: Daniel, first, when and where did you serve in the U.S. Marine Corps?

Daniel Borgström: I spent 4 years in the USMC, 1959 to 1963. That was during the Kennedy years, the Bay of Pigs invasion, and the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. I was stationed at Camp Lejeune, NC in 1961, when some 1,400 counter-revolutionaries landed on a beach in Cuba. We thought we’d be sent to back them up, so it looked like we’d be seeing action in Cuba. The atmosphere of the whole base was electric; guys had their field gear out, were wearing their hunting knives and stuff, looking very much like a regiment of Boy Scouts eagerly gearing up for a camping trip.

But we didn’t go. JFK refused to send us. And I remember being terribly disappointed at the time. Now I look back and realize what a courageous president Kennedy was. He stood up to the warmongers and said NO. I believe he paid for that with his life about 3 months after I got my discharge. According to the official story, JFK was killed by an average marksman using a totally unsuitable weapon, who nevertheless preformed the most phenomenal feat of marksmanship ever known.

AG: And when did you begin to protest U.S. wars?

DB: That was around 1970, nearly a decade after my discharge. I didn’t start out my life being a leftwing person. At first I was gung-ho, pro-war. When President Johnson bombed North Vietnam over the Gulf of Tonkin incident, I cheered. It took awhile — a long while — for me to figure things out. After my discharge, I took off and traveled around the world for a few years — Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and Japan. Even Afghanistan.

Some people tell me I “missed the Sixties,” but I did see the Sixties, though from a different perspective.

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Shocking Electric Vehicle Revolution on the Horizon, How Could Violence Not Ensue?

All fossil-fuel vehicles will vanish in 8 years in twin ‘death spiral’ for big oil and big autos, says study that’s shocking the industries

Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, The Telegraph

No more petrol or diesel cars, buses, or trucks will be sold anywhere in the world within eight years. The entire market for land transport will switch to electrification, leading to a collapse of oil prices and the demise of the petroleum industry as we have known it for a century.

This is the futuristic forecast by Stanford University economist Tony Seba. His report, with the deceptively bland title Rethinking Transportation 2020-2030, has gone viral in green circles and is causing spasms of anxiety in the established industries.

We are on the cusp of one of the fastest, deepest, most consequential disruptions of transportation in history

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April 5 Accident Acute Update

I was getting better quickly, but early yesterday morning woke up with terrible lower right abdominal pain.  I thought it was appendix or something, turned out my right kidney was injured in the accident and a large amount of internal bleeding had built up.

I got heliported to Darmouth/Lebanon from Brattleboro ER, and had about four excruciating hours of successful surgery to tie off bleeding arteries, at the expense of my kidney, which has now perished.

I’m still in their acute care ward, perhaps moving to a less acute ward tomorrow.  Now sitting up in a chair for the first time.  Large amount of swelling in belly, quite a lot of pain still, but much better than last night.

What a harrowing experience.

Something Pertinent to Shanti’s Journey (and my own)

When meditation isn’t enough

Marisa Handler

For someone with a traumatized nervous system, sitting in silence isn’t always the right response.

Credit: Flickr/Darragh O Connor. Some rights reserved.

I like to say that India changed my life twice. The first time I was 24. An English major at the University of California, Berkeley, I’d turned down a job offer from McKinsey Consulting in my senior year—I want to change the world, I said, and make music. But a few years of doggy-paddling at nonprofits and singing in cafes on weekends left me confused and disillusioned. Academically I’d been an excessive over-achiever, sure that life was preparing me for big things. This couldn’t be it, could it—my days governed by the geopolitics of cubicles and office gossip, with a brief respite for actual living? I was depressed, and needed something drastic to test my mettle. So I decided to travel around India alone. I couldn’t say why, exactly. Only that the place drew me, and powerfully.

I crammed what I needed into a backpack and spent five happy months traveling and freelance writing my way across the subcontinent. Two months in, I found myself in muted overwhelm, desperate for reprieve. In the ancient city of Rishikesh, famous to westerners as the place where the Beatles met their Maharishi, I saw a flyer for a vipassana (or insight) meditation retreat. I took a taxi straight to the ashram, located on the Ganges four miles outside of the city and approximately 700 from Bodhgaya—where the Buddha attained enlightenment.

For ten days I sat in silence and stillness, ate vegetable mush for dinner, and focused on my breath. It wasn’t long before strange and beautiful things began to happen. Insights alighted like doves, one after the other. I saw, for example, that I had never loved myself unconditionally—only in reward for achievements. I saw that I was angry and scared, and that these things could, given loving attention, shift. I sat on the ashram roof and held debriefs with God. I found a quiet spot upriver and sang and danced. I was happy, and free.

On leaving, I committed to meditating every day. When I returned from India, I had a sense of purpose. I spent the next seven years organizing, singing in, and writing about the global justice movement, with regular times-out to attend vipassanameditation retreats. I applied my intemperate drive to rigorously and exhaustingly striving to transform the world and myself.  Meaning had returned to life.

The second time I visited the subcontinent I was 33. I had just completed my Masters in Fine Arts in Fiction at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and I’d received a Fulbright Scholarship to work on a novel in Varanasi, where I’d spent a week nine years earlier. Varanasi is also a holy city on the Ganges. According to the scriptures, death here puts an end to the harrowing cycle of samsara, or reincarnation, and brings about total liberation. But modernity, in the form of rampant urban growth, has not been kind to the place: the streets are filled with barely-moving traffic, the sidewalks with crowds of people.

After a couple of weeks, strange things again began to happen. This time, however, they were different. I found myself assailed by a rising tide of anxiety. There had been some strong prior hints, but in Varanasi I careened right off the cliff I’d unwittingly been skirting. My stomach—which had survived the on-the-cheap vagaries of five continents—fell apart, and two courses of antibiotics couldn’t put it back together again. I found a lump in my breast. I couldn’t find an apartment. The fear just kept growing. I stopped sleeping and fell into a hole the likes of which I’d never suspected existed inside me.

“I don’t know what’s happening,” I said over the phone to the Fulbright director in Delhi. “This is so… weird. I meditate every day. And I’ve done, like, a whole month on silent retreat. I know my mind.” That month, spent at the Insight Meditation Society three years earlier, had not been easy.  I’d say a full three weeks of it had been hell—but it was, in hindsight, the second circle kind of hell. This was the more like the ninth. He made soothing noises and suggested I see a therapist.

Over the following weeks I began to see the deep fracture in my life: most of my days had been dominated by drive and adrenaline, while I tended to the spirit by slamming on the brakes for compensatory periods of silence and stillness. I have an Indian friend who views meditation retreats as a kind of penance. Here in the west, we rush about achieving and consuming, she says, and then we go meditate to expiate our sins. As an activist, I may have been offering a radical critique of consumer culture, but I certainly wasn’t immune to its hyperactivity.

The inability to rest—the constant running, pushing and achieving—were a culturally-applauded sublimation of the fear and rage I wrestled with on retreat, and they took their physiological toll in the form of adrenal exhaustion. The fracture in my life was no more than a mirror of the fracture in my psyche, which had its roots, as I began to see, in events that had happened many years earlier.

In the end, I cut my Fulbright short and returned from India to navigate my way through a breakdown. It wasn’t pretty. It felt as if everything good inside me had been tossed on one of Varanasi’s funeral pyres—my creativity, confidence, and capacity for happiness. Who was this petrified, tortured woman, this ghost of my former self? For months, I was so exhausted that getting dressed felt onerous. I had to scrape together all of my courage to go to the grocery store. I attended a few week-long retreats that were more or less extended encounters with unabated terror and self-loathing. And the five years since my return have resembled a drunken waltz: fall down and get back up, again and again, the falls growing gradually less paralyzing as I learned how to fall and how to relax both my body and my expectations.

I don’t blame meditation for any of this. Indeed, it was a huge support in numerous ways, not least of which was the ingrained mental refrain to focus on the oatmeal on the stove, the fluttering leaves, or the breath in my belly—on what was present and actual rather than the fireball in my chest. And meditating alongside the terror certainly gave me some significant, if unasked-for, experience of my own mettle. Nonetheless, ultimately it wasn’t enough to watch the madness, to greet it with awareness or even metta (loving kindness).

There has been much discussion in the media lately about the limits, and even the dangers, of mindfulness. There are stories of meditation inducing confusion and panic attacks, and of retreat experiences leading to depression and psychotic episodes. While these stories of psychological incapacitation are rare they do raise important questions. Western culture has bought selectively into Eastern practice—there are currently 700 mindfulness apps available and counting. So what to make of this reputed dark side?  Does meditation have ominous powers?

Drawing from my own experience, I say no. Meditation does not wield dark esoteric powers, but rather draws away the veils covering existing darkness in our own psyches. These veils usually exist for good reason: they are the psyche’s brilliantly inventive answer to violation. Depending on one’s history, meditation may be an insufficient response. Or it may be the wrong medicine entirely.

There’s an oft-repeated story of the Dalai Lama’s first visit to the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts in 1979.  In a meeting with western Buddhist teachers, he was asked about the phenomenon of self-hatred.  Despite his translator’s efforts, he was baffled by the term. Buddhism has adapted to numerous cultures over 2,600 years, but in the west it’s only in its second generation—barely pubescent. It is still molding itself to the western mind. Western teachers are currently negotiating how to teach an integrative practice, one that incorporates communication and diversity, social justice and relationships.

And western Buddhists are just beginning to grapple with contemporary understandings of trauma—not only the shock of individual experiences of war and abuse, but also the injuries of collective oppressions such as racism and homophobia. Suffice it to say that for any individual with a traumatized nervous system, sitting in silence and focusing attention on the body is not always the right response. In eliminating or minimizing external inputs, unconscious material rises to the fore. This is precisely why meditation is such a powerfully healing practice—and also why it can trigger a traumatic reaction. If meditation is a response to trauma, then it requires a very skillful teacher.

As for me, while I am grateful for meditation, it wasn’t enough. I feel fortunate to have found other tools to help pry aside the darkness and expose what lay even deeper than the fear and pain: an original sense of joy, a spontaneous creativity, an integrated presence. I didn’t want my dark night of the soul, and the truth is I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. But on stumbling my vertiginous way out I discovered myself happier than I’d ever been. The breaking, I’ve come to see, was a crucial part of the healing—the psyche’s radical stab in the direction of wholeness; a death in service of rebirth.

A friend recently suggested that I may have been better off never meditating or journeying to India. I disagree. Yes, I may have stayed stable—but I would still have been driven by what lay buried in my unconscious. Breakdown forced me to face it. I had no choice: I had to relinquish control. And perhaps that’s where the greatest transformation is born.

Putin’s New (and Better) World Order

I’ve been reading Mike Whitney for years, he’s consistently accurate and succinct.

Putin’s New World Order

By Mike Whitney4/28/2017

Is Vladimir Putin the most popular Russian leader of all time?

It certainly looks like it. In a recent survey conducted by the All-Russia Public Opinion Research Center,  Putin’s public approval rating soared to an eye-popping 86 percent, which is twice that of Obama’s when he left office in 2016.  And what’s more surprising is that Putin’s popularity has held up through a severe economic slump and nearly two decades in office. Unlike most politicians, whose shelf-life is somewhere between 4 to 8 years, the public’s admiration for Putin has only grown stronger over time.

And the phenom is not limited to Russia either.  According to a recent survey by the pollster YouGov, “Putin is the third most admired man in Egypt, the fourth in China, Saudi Arabia and Morocco, and the sixth most admired man in Germany, France and Sweden.” And don’t even mention Syria, where naming babies after the Russian president is all-the-rage.

Putin also won Time magazine’s prestigious Person of the Year award in 2007, and has remained among the top ten on that list for the last decade. The only place that Putin is not popular is in the United States where he is relentlessly demonized in the media as a “KGB thug” or the “new Hitler”. According to a 2017 survey by Gallup, only “22% of Americans hold a favorable opinion of Putin” while “72% hold an unfavorable opinion of him.”

There’s no doubt that the media’s personal attacks on Putin have dramatically impacted his popularity. The question that open-minded people must ask themselves, is whether their opinion of Putin is the result of their own research or if their views have been shaped by a vicious, corporate-owned media that denigrates anyone who stands in the way of Washington’s geopolitical ambitions? My advice to these people is to simply read Putin’s words for yourself and draw your own conclusions.

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Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, HI D-2

The Strange Case of Tulsi Gabbard and other Tales of Terror

45234123123In 1968, Democratic Senator Robert Kennedy, an anti-war candidate, was the front-runner in the presidential race. The party had revolted against President Johnson, forcing him to drop out of contention, and America got behind an anti-war candidate who surged ahead in the polls. He was quickly murdered.

Americans had gotten used to this solution being used, after all we had lost his brother John and Martin Luther King. The least well-kept secret at the time was that organized crime along with the oil and defense industries ran Washington and would murder anyone that got in their way.

There are more players to consider but little has changed, no, it has actually gotten much worse. There is a modern day “Robert Kennedy” out there, it’s Tulsi Gabbard, under attack by the jackals in Washington, perhaps not a big enough target, not yet anyway, for them to kill. We must wait and see.

One member of congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, stands alone against those crying for war with Syria, Russia and Iran. Only Gabbard, has openly criticized President Trump for attacking Syria without evidence.


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Anti-speech Legislation Prepped for More Pipeline Protests

Newspaper Owned By Fracking Billionaire Leaks Memo Calling Pipeline Opponents Potential “Terrorists”


Jerri-Lynn here: This post reminds us of the role states play in policing and repressing protest over pipeline and fracking activities. With the Trump administration formally committed to promoting these activities, and judicial appointments expected to push courts further rightward, protestors looking to challenge such activities face formidable obstacles.

By Steve Horn, is an Indianapolis, IN-based Research Fellow for DeSmogBlog and a freelance investigative journalist and past reporter and researcher at the Center for Media and Democracy. His writing has appeared in Al Jazeera America, The Guardian, Vice News, The Intercept, Vocativ, Wisconsin Watch, Truth-Out, AlterNet, NUVO, Isthmus and elsewhere. Originally published at DeSmogBlog

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has published a report titled, “Potential Domestic Terrorist Threats to Multi-State Diamond Pipeline Construction Project,” dated April 7 and first published by The Washington Examiner.

The DHS field analysis report points to lessons from policing the Dakota Access pipeline, saying they can be applied to the ongoing controversy over the Diamond pipeline, which, when complete, will stretch from Cushing, Oklahoma to Memphis, Tennessee. While lacking “credible information” of such a potential threat, DHS concluded that “the most likely potential domestic terrorist threat to the Diamond Pipeline … is from environmental rights extremists motivated by resentment over perceived environmental destruction.”

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