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By Chris Abani

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Tag: Tomdispatch


Star-Spangled Baggage

Amid the barrage of coverage of Specialist Ivan Lopez’s shooting spree at Fort Hood, evidence that has been in plain sight for years of how the violence of America’s distant wars comes back to haunt the “homeland” was missing. In that context, Lopez’s killings are one more marker on a bloody trail of death that leads from Iraq and Afghanistan into the American heartland.

Posted on Apr 17, 2014 READ MORE



Washington Fights Fire With Fire in Libya

Is the U.S. secretly training Libyan militiamen in the Canary Islands? That’s what I asked a spokesman for U.S. Africa Command. “I am surprised by your mentioning the Canary Islands,” he responded by email. “I have not heard this before, and wonder where you heard this.”

Posted on Apr 15, 2014 READ MORE



AFRICOM Goes to War on the Sly

At a recent Pentagon news conference, the AFRICOM commander assured reporters that the U.S. “has little forward presence” in Africa. Just days earlier, however, the men building that presence told a very different story to some of the biggest military engineering firms on the planet. And the story was of war.

Posted on Apr 14, 2014 READ MORE



Open Systems and Glass Ceilings

Take a look at gender and the Web comes quickly into focus, leaving you with a vivid sense of which direction the Internet is heading in and—small hint—it’s not toward equality or democracy.

Posted on Apr 11, 2014 READ MORE


Could a New Equity Empire Spark the Next Housing Crisis?

Laura Gottesdiener talks with “Democracy Now!” about her TomDispatch article on the team-up of big banks and private equity firms to bundle rental property mortgages into a new financial product called “rental-backed securities.”

Posted on Apr 10, 2014 READ MORE



When Predatory Equity Hit the Big Apple

Private equity firms are partnering with big banks to bundle mortgages on more than 200,000 rental homes across the country bought up in the foreclosure crisis into a new financial product known as “rental-backed securities.” New York City has been a private equity playground for the last decade, and the result, unsurprisingly, has been a disaster for tenants and the market alike.

Posted on Apr 8, 2014 READ MORE



How Many Watch Lists Fit on the Head of a Pin?

No one knows how many names are on the no-fly list. According to one source, 21,000 people, including some 500 Americans, are blacklisted; another puts the figure at 44,000. The actual number is classified.

Posted on Apr 7, 2014 READ MORE



Hijacking the American Plane of State

Isn’t there something strangely reassuring when your eyeballs are gripped by a “mystery” on the news that has no greater meaning and yet sweeps all else away?

Posted on Apr 3, 2014 READ MORE



Tomgram: In Memoriam: Jonathan Schell (1943-2014)

Jonathan Schell was in the early days of this century perhaps the only person who imagined that, in our future, lay an Arab Spring, an Occupy Movement and whatever-is-still-to-come.

Posted on Mar 31, 2014 READ MORE



U.S. Military Averaging More Than a Mission a Day in Africa

For years, the U.S. military has publicly insisted that its efforts in Africa are small scale. A U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) spokesman once expressed worry that tabulating the command’s deployments would offer a “skewed image” of U.S. efforts there. It turns out that the numbers do just the opposite.

Posted on Mar 28, 2014 READ MORE



Invasion of the Data Snatchers

Estimates vary, but by 2020 there could be over 30 billion devices connected to the Internet. Once dumb, they will have smartened up thanks to sensors and other technologies embedded in them and, thanks to your machines, your life will quite literally have gone online.

Posted on Mar 27, 2014 READ MORE



Advice Too Secret to Ignore

Col. Manners answers questions on CIA practices, proper cyberwar behavior, and invasion etiquette.

Posted on Mar 20, 2014 READ MORE



How ‘Revolution’ Became an Adjective

For the last several years, the word has been hanging around backstage on the national television talk-show circuit waiting for somebody, anybody—visionary poet, unemployed automobile worker, late-night comedian—to cue its appearance on camera.

Posted on Mar 17, 2014 READ MORE



Washington’s Back-to-the-Future Military Policies in Africa

The U.S. has been making common cause with one of the continent’s former European colonial powers in a set of wars that seem to be spreading, not staunching violence and instability in the region.

Posted on Mar 14, 2014 READ MORE



By the Way, Your Home Is On Fire

People in power and bureaucrats seem exceptionally obtuse when it comes to recognizing that the world has changed and the old rules no longer apply.

Posted on Mar 13, 2014 READ MORE



The Pentagon’s Phony Budget War

Despite cries of doom since the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration surfaced in Washington in 2011, the Pentagon has seen few actual reductions, and there is no indication that will change any time soon.

Posted on Mar 7, 2014 READ MORE



Apocalypses Everywhere

Two clouds of genuine doom still darken our world: nuclear extermination and environmental extinction. If they got the urgent action they deserve, they would be at the top of our political priority list.

Posted on Feb 27, 2014 READ MORE



DoD photo by Senior Airman Christopher Hubenthal, U.S. Air Force

Misremembering America’s Wars, 2003-2053

In 2012, the Pentagon kicked off a 13-year program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War, complete with a sprawling website that includes a “history and education” component.

Posted on Feb 18, 2014 READ MORE



The Gravitational Pull of Planet Carbon

The pull is reflected in three recent developments in the energy news: a declaration of surrender by BP, a major setback in the European Union, and a strategic end-run by Canadian tar sands companies.

Posted on Feb 14, 2014 READ MORE



The Folly of Arming Israel

Consider that the top recipient of U.S. foreign aid over the past three decades isn’t some impoverished land filled with starving kids, but a wealthy nation with a per-head gross domestic product on par with the European Union average, and higher than that of Italy, Spain, or South Korea.

Posted on Feb 10, 2014 READ MORE



Selling Your Secrets

Over the last eight months, journalists have dug deep into documents made available by Edward Snowden to reveal that the world of NSA mass surveillance involves close partnerships with a series of companies most of us have never heard of that design or probe the software we all take for granted to help keep our digital lives humming along.

Posted on Feb 7, 2014 READ MORE



The Public-Private Profiteers

In the cases of healthcare and underwater mortgages, the administration shied away from direct government aid. Instead, it subsidized private companies to serve the people. To get your government-subsidized mortgage modification, you applied at your bank; to get your government-mandated health coverage, you buy private insurance.

Posted on Feb 6, 2014 READ MORE



No Pipe Dream

Spectra Energy, one of the largest natural gas infrastructure companies in North America, had proposed changes in a pipeline it owns, the Algonquin, which runs from Texas into my hometown, Boston. Suddenly, I’m in the crosshairs of the fracking industry, too.

Posted on Jan 31, 2014 READ MORE



The Pacific Pivot

The administration’s much-vaunted pivot looks ever more like a divot—a swing, a miss, and a hole in the ground rather than anything approaching a hole-in-one.

Posted on Jan 30, 2014 READ MORE



The Special Ops Surge In 134 Countries

All over the planet, the Obama administration is waging a secret war whose full extent has never been fully revealed—until now.

Posted on Jan 16, 2014 READ MORE



hans s (CC BY-ND 2.0)

You Can’t Opt Out: 10 NSA Myths Debunked

Instead of a careful examination of what the NSA does, the legality of its actions, and how effective it has been in its stated mission of protecting Americans, we increasingly have government officials or retired versions of the same demanding—quite literally—Edward Snowden’s head and engaging in the usual fear-mongering over 9/11.

Posted on Jan 13, 2014 READ MORE



AZRainman (CC BY 2.0)

Peak Oil Is Dead

Among the big energy stories of 2013, “peak oil”—the once-popular notion that worldwide oil production would soon reach a maximum level and begin an irreversible decline—was thoroughly discredited. The explosive development of shale oil and other unconventional fuels in the United States helped put it in its grave.

Posted on Jan 10, 2014 READ MORE



.FuturePresent. (CC BY 2.0)

The Arc of Justice and the Long Run

Sometimes cause and effect are centuries apart; sometimes Martin Luther King’s arc of the moral universe that bends toward justice is so long few see its curve; sometimes hope lies not in looking forward but backward to study the line of that arc.

Posted on Dec 23, 2013 READ MORE



Keoni Cabral (CC BY 2.0)

The Solid Nonpareil

Laughter was Mark Twain’s stock in trade, and for 30 years as bestselling author and star attraction on America’s late-nineteenth-century lecture stage, he produced it in sufficient quantity to make bearable the acquaintance with grief that he knew to be generously distributed among all present in the Boston Lyceum or a Tennessee saloon.

Posted on Dec 20, 2013 READ MORE



JeffreyTurner (CC BY 2.0)

America’s Child Soldiers

The United States has the biggest, most efficiently organized, most effective system for recruiting child soldiers in the world. Its major public face is the Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps.

Posted on Dec 16, 2013 READ MORE



Xurble

The Criminalization of Everyday Life

If all you’ve got is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. And if police and prosecutors are your only tool, sooner or later everything and everyone will be treated as criminal.

Posted on Dec 9, 2013 READ MORE



h.koppdelaney (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Welcome to the Memory Hole

What if Edward Snowden was made to disappear? I’m not suggesting some future CIA rendition effort or a who-killed-Snowden conspiracy theory of a disappearance, but a more ominous kind.

Posted on Dec 5, 2013 READ MORE



andrewfhart (CC BY-SA 2.0)

How to Reverse a Slow-Motion Apocalypse

Corporations and governments promote the burning of fossil fuels, which means the dumping of its waste product, carbon dioxide, into the atmosphere where, in record amounts, it heats the planet. This is not an oversight; it is a business model.

Posted on Nov 22, 2013 READ MORE



Nod Young (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Is a Green Energy Revolution on the Global Agenda?

As intensifying floods, fires, droughts, and storms become an inescapable feature of daily life across the planet, more people are joining environmental groups and engaging in increasingly bold protest actions. Sooner or later, government leaders are likely to face multiple eruptions of mass public anger and may, in the end, be forced to make radical adjustments in energy policy or risk being swept aside.

Posted on Nov 18, 2013 READ MORE



Haymarket Books

A Trail of Tears

In 2010, I began to follow U.S. soldiers from the battle spaces of Afghanistan to the emergency room of the trauma hospital at Bagram Air Base, where their catastrophic wounds were surgically treated and their condition stabilized. Then I accompanied some of them by cargo plane to Ramstein Air Base in Germany for more surgeries.

Posted on Nov 15, 2013 READ MORE



Navicore (CC BY 2.0)

Mistaking Omniscience for Omnipotence

At the moment, Washington seems to be operating in a world in which the more you know about the secret lives of others, the less powerful you turn out to be.

Posted on Nov 14, 2013 READ MORE



W. W. Norton & Company

Veterans Day, 95 Years On

In a country that uses every possible occasion to celebrate its “warriors,” many have forgotten that Monday’s holiday originally marked a peace agreement. Veterans Day in the United States originally was called Armistice Day and commemorated the cease-fire that, at 11 a.m. on Nov. 11, 1918, ended the First World War.

Posted on Nov 11, 2013 READ MORE



Irene Young

Truthdigger of the Week: Ann Jones

Jones’ new book, “They Were Soldiers,” was written to give veterans and their families alienated and estranged by war a chance to find their way back to one another.

Posted on Nov 10, 2013 READ MORE



isafmedia (CC BY 2.0)

They Didn’t Know What They Were Getting Into

The last time I saw American soldiers in Afghanistan, they were silent. Knocked out by gunfire and explosions that left them grievously injured, as well as drugs, they were carried from medevac helicopters into a base hospital to be plugged into machines that would measure how much life they had left to save. They were bloody. They were missing pieces of themselves. They were quiet.

Posted on Nov 8, 2013 READ MORE



? WWW.MAZINTOSH .COM (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Losing Friends, Influencing No One, and Alienating the Middle East

The raids in Libya and Somalia last month, targeting an alleged al-Qaeda fugitive and an alleged kingpin of the al-Shabab Islamist movement, were less a sign of America’s awesome might than minor exceptions that proved an emerging rule: that the power, prestige, and influence of the United States in the broader Middle East and its ability to shape events there is in a death spiral.

Posted on Nov 7, 2013 READ MORE



Asja. (CC BY 2.0)

X-Ray of a Flagging Presidency

The two-plus year battle over the Keystone XL pipeline has illuminated the Obama presidency like no other issue. It offers the president not just a choice of policies, but a choice of friends, worldviews, styles.

Posted on Oct 28, 2013 READ MORE



smplstc (CC BY 2.0)

Always and Everywhere

The abiding defect of U.S. foreign policy? It’s isolationism, my friend: fostering war, impeding the spread of democracy and inhibiting trade and prosperity.

Posted on Oct 25, 2013 READ MORE



DVIDSHUB (CC BY 2.0)

Why Washington Can’t Stop

In terms of advanced and unchallenged military power, there has been nothing like the U.S. armed forces since the Mongols swept across Eurasia. No wonder American presidents now regularly use phrases like “the finest fighting force the world has ever known” to describe it.

Posted on Oct 24, 2013 READ MORE



Hossam el-Hamalawy ???? ???????? (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Business of America Is War

There is a new normal in America: our government may shut down, but our wars continue. Congress may not be able to pass a budget, but the U.S. military can still launch commando raids in Libya and Somalia, and the military-industrial complex can still dominate the world’s arms trade.

Posted on Oct 20, 2013 READ MORE



Beverly & Pack (CC BY 2.0)

What Was ‘Essential’ and What Wasn’t

The opinion polls were clear. One after another, they showed that Americans opposed the shutdown and were hurting because of it. Nearly one in three said they felt personally affected not by too much government, but by too little.

Posted on Oct 19, 2013 READ MORE



FeatheredTar (CC BY 2.0)

Fossil Fuel Euphoria

For years, energy analysts had been anticipating an imminent decline in global oil supplies. Suddenly they’re singing a new song, and the expected boost in energy is predicted to provide the United States with a cornucopia of economic and political rewards, including industrial expansion at home and enhanced geopolitical clout abroad.

Posted on Oct 17, 2013 READ MORE



Beverly & Pack (CC BY 2.0)

The Etiquette of War and Surveillance

An old and knowledgeable friend, Colonel Manners (ret.), is ready to step into the void left by the Dear Abby column in the classic military newspaper Stars and Stripes. His assignment: to answer letters from Americans puzzled by the etiquette, manners, and language of the arcane national security world of Washington.

Posted on Oct 12, 2013 READ MORE



János Balázs (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The Data Hackers

Inside your mobile phone and hidden behind your web browser are little known software products marketed by contractors to the government that can follow you around anywhere. No longer the wide-eyed fantasies of conspiracy theorists, these technologies are routinely installed in all of our data devices by companies that sell them to Washington for a profit.

Posted on Oct 11, 2013 READ MORE



psd (CC BY 2.0)

(The Difficulty of) Looking at Climate Change

Though websites and print media may give us the news, they seldom give us the scale of the news or a real sense of the proportional importance of one thing compared to another. And proportion, scale, is the main news we need right now—maybe always.

Posted on Oct 10, 2013 READ MORE


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