By Tom Engelhardt* – Naked Capitalism
What are the odds? You put about $68 billion annually into a maze of 17 major intelligence outfits. You build them glorious headquarters. You create a global surveillance state for the ages. You listen in on your citizenry and gather their communications in staggering quantities. Your employees even morph into avatars and enter video-game landscapes, lest any Americans betray a penchant for evil deeds while in entertainment mode. You collect information on visits to porn sites just in case, one day, blackmail might be useful. You pass around naked photos of them just for… well, the salacious hell of it. Your employees even use aspects of the system you’ve created to stalk former lovers and, within your arcane world, that act of “spycraft” gains its own name: LOVEINT.
Paul Verhaeghe – The Guardian
An economic system that rewards psychopathic personality traits has changed our ethics and our personalities
We tend to perceive our identities as stable and largely separate from outside forces. But over decades of research and therapeutic practice, I have become convinced that economic change is having a profound effect not only on our values but also on our personalities. Thirty years of neoliberalism, free-market forces and privatisation have taken their toll, as relentless pressure to achieve has become normative. If you’re reading this sceptically, I put this simple statement to you: meritocratic neoliberalism favours certain personality traits and penalises others.
VoxEurop, The Guardian, Libération
The conflict with the Islamic State is “jolting the process” among EU member states to reach an agreement on countering the threat of attacks from European citizens returning from Syria and Iraq, writes The Guardian.
Brahma Chellaney* – The Hindu
Barack Obama has been more at ease waging wars than in waging peace. He has proved to be one of America’s most militarily assertive Presidents since World War II
America’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate president, Barack Obama, who helped turn Libya into a failed state by toppling its ruler Muammar Qadhafi, has started a new war in Syria and Iraq even as the U.S. remains embroiled in the Afghanistan war. Mr. Obama’s air war in Syria — his presidency’s seventh military campaign in a Muslim nation and the one likely to consume his remaining term in office — raises troubling questions about its objectives and his own adherence to the rule of law.
By Joel Jaeger
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 28 2014 (IPS) – With state support moving at an unprecedented pace, the Arms Trade Treaty will enter into force on Dec. 24, 2014, only 18 months after it was opened for signature.
“If he was out to convince that something could change in the way Europe is led, than the European Commission’s president-elect Jean-Claude Juncker has already won,” [writes Le Monde] in the eve of his team’s hearing before the European Parliament. According to the Parisian daily, the former prime minister of Luxembourg almost convinced the correspondents who attended his first press conference that “he has learned from the mistakes made notably by his predecessor,” the outgoing Commission president José Manuel Barroso, which have led to “a crisis of confidence” and “the rise of anti-European movements”.
Arthur Neslen* – The Guardian
Global warming efforts should focus on CO2, not soot particles known as black carbon, say Norwegian team
The global warming effect of ‘black carbon’, or soot, has been greatly exaggerated due to mistaken assumptions about the atmospheric altitude at which its particles are concentrated, according to a new study.
Analysis by Thalif Deen*
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 26 2014 (IPS) – When U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly Wednesday, he was outspoken in his criticism of Russia for bullying Ukraine, Syria for its brutality towards its own people, and terrorists of all political stripes for the death and destruction plaguing Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Somalia.
Mychal Denzel Smith – The Nation
According to a survey conducted by the Public Religion Institute, 51 percent of white Americans agree that black people and other racial minorities are treated unfairly in the criminal justice system. That’s up from 42 percent in 2013. If one of the consequences of the last year of high-profile trials—in which justice for black victims was hard to find—and subsequent outrage and protest is that a slight majority of white people now understand that the justice system is racist, then perhaps everything hasn’t been in vain.
By Toko Sekiguchi and Chun Han Wong – Wall Street Journal
Relations between Asia’s two biggest economies are finally thawing after two years of rising tensions that included near-clashes in the air.
China and Japan have eased back from the brink, quietly in recent weeks and more openly this week, with representatives of the two nations holding what they described as cordial talks on maritime security and business relations.
By Joel Jaeger
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 24 2014 (IPS) – Speaking to more than 120 heads of state at the U.N. Climate Summit, actor and newly appointed U.N. Messenger of Peace Leonardo DiCaprio made clear the long-ranging impact of the attendees’ decisions.
“You will make history,” he said, “or you will be vilified by it.”
William Greider – The Nation
The war whoops of the pundit class helped propel the nation into yet another doomed military adventure in the Middle East. Ghastly beheadings by a newly discovered enemy were the frightening flashpoint. The president ordered bombers aloft and US munitions were once again pounding battlefields in Iraq—and as of last night, in Syria. The president promised to “degrade and destroy” this vicious opponent.
By Amantha Perera
STOCKHOLM, Sep 23 2014 (IPS) – A gift of nature, or a valuable commodity? A human right, or a luxury for the privileged few? Will the agricultural sector or industrial sector be the main consumer of this precious resource? Whatever the answers to these and many more questions, one thing is clear: that water will be one of the defining issues of the coming decade.
Mark Hertsgaard – The Nation
Hundreds of thousands of people filled the streets of New York City on Sunday calling for “climate justice” in the largest mass protest to date against government and corporate inaction to limit the overheating of the planet. Organizers of the People’s Climate March claimed that in addition to the New York march some 2,676 other demonstrations were held in 146 countries, including a march of 30,000 people in London that was televised to the New York crowd on a giant screen set up on Sixth Avenue at 52nd Street. “We said it would take everyone to change everything, and everyone showed up,” said Eddie Bautista, the executive director of the New York City Environmental Justice Alliance, one of the central groups that organized the march.
Analysis by Stephen Leahy
UXBRIDGE, Canada, Sep 22 2014 (IPS) – Acting on climate change will not hurt domestic economic growth, and in fact is more likely to boost growth, most analyses now show.
The latest to confirm the dictum that swift action is eminently affordable is the recent report by the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, released on the eve of the Sep. 23 U.N. Climate Summit in New York.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s first genuine foreign policy encounter proved bruising. Chinese President Xi Jinping’s airplane touched down in India even as a few hundred of his soldiers pushed across the Line of Actual Control. Modi spent much of his time wagging a finger at Xi about this. The Chinese leader was unperturbed: He had invited these gate-crashers to the party. And the buzz about a $100 billion in investments disappeared soon after.
Analysis by Thalif Deen
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 2014 (IPS) – When world political leaders arrive next week for the annual ritual of addressing the United Nations, they will be speaking inside a newly renovated General Assembly hall – part of a hefty 2.1-billion-dollar, seven-year refurbishing project – with an extended seating capacity for 204 member states, 11 more than the current 193.
The Editors – The Nation
The crisis in Iraq and Syria demands a political solution. Here are the key diplomatic steps needed to get there.
Too often in the United States, when responding to international crises, we equate “doing something” with “doing something military.” In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, George W. Bush gave a traumatized American public two options: either we go to war, or we let the terrorists get away with it. Faced with that choice, it’s hardly surprising that a vast majority of Americans supported war.
D.D. Guttenplan* – The Nation
On the train north to Edinburgh two songs kept running through my head. The first was “Big Yellow Taxi,” Joni Mitchell’s breakup ballad with its wry warning: “You don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.” In the past two weeks the British have finally, belatedly, realized that when they wake up tomorrow morning the “Great” in the country’s name may have already gone for good.
By Jim Lobe*
WASHINGTON, Sep 18 2014 (IPS) – A successful agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme could significantly enhance U.S. leverage and influence throughout the Greater Middle East, according to a new report signed by 31 former senior U.S. foreign-policy officials and regional experts and released here Wednesday.