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The Hypocritical United States of Amnesia and Russia

During the mid-1980s, right-wing Americans loved to invoke President Reagan’s observation about the Soviet Union: “They reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat,” in order to attain a one-word Socialist or Communist state. The Soviet Union was the “Evil Empire.” But, it was the Reagan Administration, you’ll recall, that ordered the execution of Operation Urgent Fury, the invasion of Grenada in October 1983. Eleven of the twelve members of the United Nations Security Council called the invasion a “flagrant violation of international law.” The only Security Council member to veto the condemnation was the very country accused of the flagrant violation. It also was the Reagan administration, you’ll recall, that was hauled before the International Court of Justice in 1984 by Nicaragua, and found … Read entire article »

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Did Right-Wing Protesters Hire Snipers to Kill Protesters and Police at Maidan?

Dmitro Yarosh is the leader of the right-wing radical Ukrainian group known as Pravy Sektor (The Right Sector). Pravy Sektor and Svoboda (one of the three oppositional parties in Ukraine’s parliament prior to the coup d’état that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych) were particularly willing to resort to violence against the police at Maidan Nezalezhnosti, or Independence Square, in Kiev. Moreover, as Keith Darden and Lucan Way have observed, “The right-wing groups have been particularly active among the organization of the protest movement on the ground, particularly as the number of protesters has dwindled over time and revealed a resilient right-wing core.” [Washington Post, Feb. 12, 2014] According to Dr. Anton Shekhovtsov, an expert on Ukraine … Read entire article »

The Historical Jesus and New Testament Rubbish: Part Two: Jesus’ Transformation into Christ (God’s Begotten Son)

A Review of Zealot, by Reza Aslan, (Random House, 2013) and Christian Beginnings, by Geza Vermes (Yale, 2013) In 1956, L. Festinger, H. W.Rieckin and S. Schlacter co-authored a book titled, When Prophecy Fails: A Sociological and Psychological Study of a Modern Group That Predicted the Destruction of the World. Summarizing its conclusions, John Gager noted: “Under certain conditions a religious community whose fundamental beliefs are disconfirmed by events in the world will not necessarily collapse and disband. Instead it may undertake zealous missionary activity as a response to its sense of cognitive dissonance, i.e., a condition of distress and doubt stemming from the disconfirmation of an important belief.” (Reza Aslan, Zealot, Notes: Chapter Thirteen) Didn’t … Read entire article »

The Historical Jesus and New Testament Rubbish: Part One: The Road to Golgotha

A Review of Zealot, by Reza Aslan, (Random House, 2013) and Christian Beginnings, by Geza Vermes (Yale, 2013) In his best-selling book Zealot, Professor Reza Aslan asserts that there are “only two hard historical facts about Jesus of Nazareth upon which we can confidently rely: the first is that Jesus was a Jew who led a popular Jewish movement in Palestine at the beginning of the first century C.E.; the second is that Rome crucified him for doing so.” “Crucifixion was a punishment reserved almost exclusively for sedition.” (Even the two individuals allegedly crucified with Jesus were called lestai, “the most common Roman designation for an insurrectionist or rebel.”) Thus, given the paucity of reliable … Read entire article »

Fifty Years after the August 28, 1963, March on Washington

Nearly a month ago tens of thousands of Americans publicly celebrated the 50th anniversary of the August 28, 1963, “March on Washington.” President Obama addressed the gathering, as did former Presidents Carter and Clinton. Conspicuously absent from the celebration were the leaders of the Republican Party. The celebration will continue on September 25, 2013, when the 92nd Street Y in New York will host a discussion of the march by four of its participants: Harry Belafonte, John Lewis Clarence Jones and Julian Bond. A timely book informs this celebration, The March on Washington: Jobs, Freedom, and the Forgotten History of Civil Rights, written by Professor William P. Jones, who teaches history at the University of Wisconsin. … Read entire article »

American Militarism: Part Two (Charles Krauthammer)

In 1990, thirteen years before President George W. Bush made his fateful decision to order an illegal, immoral war of choice in Iraq, prominent neoconservative columnist Charles Krauthammer had helped to pave the way for such wars by writing an article for Foreign Affairs which urged the United States to “unashamedly” lay “down the rules of world order and … [be] prepared to enforce them.” His views were embraced by many influential neoconservatives. In 2001, two years before President George W. Bush ordered an illegal and immoral invasion of Iraq, Mr. Krauthammer blithely asserted, “we are not just any hegemon. We run a uniquely benign imperium.” But, once in Iraq, nearly 4,500 American soldiers … Read entire article »

American Militarism: Part One (Rachel Maddow)

On April 14th my better half and I dined with another couple at Tre Scalini in South Philadelphia before scurrying over to Irvine Auditorium on the University of Pennsylvania campus to listen to Rachel Maddow speak about her book, Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power. Ms. Allyson Schwartz, currently a member of the U. S. House of Representatives and a recently announced candidate for Governor of Pennsylvania, gave Ms. Maddow a glowing introduction. So, too, did Philadelphia’s Mayor, Michael Nutter. Although she charmed her audience with wit, humor and a velvety-fisted critique of the many idiocies that pass for policies in the Republican Party these days, one might guess that the people … Read entire article »