The Death Grip on Memory - Normon Solomon

by Norman Solomon

A headline in the New York Times announced a few days ago: “Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory.” This news ran above the fold on the front page.

“Suppose scientists could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain,” the article began. Readers quickly learned that it’s starting to happen: “Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory...”

Big deal.

American media outlets have been pulling off such feats for a long time.

The scientists trying to learn how to wipe out “specific types of memory” are lagging way behind.

Don’t need to remember the vast quantities of napalm, Agent Orange and cluster bombs that the U.S. military dropped on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s? Or the continuing realities of burn victims, dioxin poisoning and unexploded warheads?

Don’t want to consider the many thousands of civilians killed by Salvadoran death squads, Guatemalan troops and Nicaraguan contra guerillas during the 1980s, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers?

Don’t care to recall the Pentagon’s estimate that the Gulf War in early 1991 killed 100,000 Iraqi people during a six-week period?

Forget about it! That’s what selective memory is for. Add a comment
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Media Lens Cogitation: The Art of Loving and the Art of Seduction

by Media Lens

The Power Of Pain


In his book, The Art Of Seduction, Robert Greene outlines a strategy for conquering romantic “targets”:

“The greatest mistake in seduction is being too nice. At first, perhaps, your kindness is charming, but it soon grows monotonous; you are trying too hard to please, and seem insecure. Instead of overwhelming your targets with niceness, try inflicting some pain. Lure them in with focused attention, then change direction, appearing suddenly uninterested. Make them feel guilty and insecure. Even instigate a break-up, subjecting them to an emptiness and pain that will give you room to manoeuvre.” (Greene, The Concise Art Of Seduction, Profile Books, 2003, p.167)

It is no secret that “emptiness and pain” can provoke desire. A key theme of advertising is the manufacture and exploitation of shame. If our hearts can be made to sink at the thought of our sagging bellies, our “Here comes pizza face!” complexion (the words were used in an actual advert), our personal hygiene - “Could you be cleaner?” - we can easily be made to crave the proposed solution.

In sexual, consumer, and political seduction it is crucial that the true intent be camouflaged. Greene explains that we should use "spiritual lures":

“Play up your divine qualities; affect an air of discontent with worldly things; speak of the stars, destiny, the hidden threads that unite you and the object of the seduction. Lost in a spiritual mist, the target will feel light and uninhibited.” (Ibid., p.161)

This also describes the art of political seduction - Clinton, Blair and Obama know all about these "lures".

Greene's strategy of seduction is doubtless successful within its own terms. The method is simple: on meeting an attractive woman, say, for the first time, one should direct a focused beam of flattering conversation, smiles and interest in her direction. She should be made to feel deeply interesting and welcome. One should then suddenly switch attention to some other person and ignore the first woman as if she had ceased to exist. The idea is that this sudden indifference will be experienced as a wounding loss - she will feel out in the cold - and this will create a needling urge to regain the lost attention. At this point, the “target” has begun to desire the seducer. Add a comment
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Getting a Death Grip on Memory

by Norman Solomon

A headline in the New York Times announced a few days ago: “Brain Researchers Open Door to Editing Memory.” This news ran above the fold on the front page.

“Suppose scientists could erase certain memories by tinkering with a single substance in the brain,” the article began. Readers quickly learned that it’s starting to happen: “Researchers in Brooklyn have recently accomplished comparable feats, with a single dose of an experimental drug delivered to areas of the brain critical for holding specific types of memory...”

Big deal.

American media outlets have been pulling off such feats for a long time.

The scientists trying to learn how to wipe out “specific types of memory” are lagging way behind.

Don’t need to remember the vast quantities of napalm, Agent Orange and cluster bombs that the U.S. military dropped on Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia in the 1960s and 1970s? Or the continuing realities of burn victims, dioxin poisoning and unexploded warheads?

Don’t want to consider the many thousands of civilians killed by Salvadoran death squads, Guatemalan troops and Nicaraguan contra guerillas during the 1980s, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers?

Don’t care to recall the Pentagon’s estimate that the Gulf War in early 1991 killed 100,000 Iraqi people during a six-week period?

Forget about it! That’s what selective memory is for.

Prefer not to recollect how the U.S. government trained and armed President Reagan’s beloved “freedom fighters” in Afghanistan -- including the likes of Osama bin Laden and other fundamentalist mujahedeen -- for their insurgency against the Soviet occupiers in the 1980s? Rather not remember how those “freedom fighters” became “terrorists”? Add a comment
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Israel’s Arab students cross to Jordan - Academic hurdles block access to universities

by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
 
Obstacles to Israel’s Arab minority participating in higher education have resulted in a record number of Arab students taking up places at universities in neighbouring Jordan, a new report reveals.
 
Figures compiled by Dirasat, a Nazareth-based organisation monitoring education issues, show 5,400 Arab students from Israel are at Jordanian universities -- half the number of Arabs studying in Israel itself.
 
Despite the fact that most Israeli Arab students in Jordan interviewed by the researchers expressed a preference to attend university in Israel, the numbers heading to Jordan have grown four-fold since 2004.
 
College-age Arabs, representing nearly one-quarter of their age group in Israel, are heavily under-represented in Israeli higher education, at about eight per cent of the student intake, according to official statistics. Of those Israelis who pass their matriculation exams, three times as many Jews as Arabs are accepted into Israeli universities.
 
“Our findings should raise serious questions about the hurdles that have been put in the way of Arab students that make them feel they have no choice but to study abroad,” said Yousef Jabareen, a law professor at Haifa University and head of Dirasat.
 
Typical of the new exodus is Haneen Bader, 23, from the village of Turan in the Lower Galilee, who is in her third year studying Islamic jurisprudence at Jordan University in the capital, Amman.
 
Dirasat’s researchers were surprised to find that nearly one-third of all Israeli Arab students in Jordan are women. “We live in a patriarchal society and women are still usually expected to remain close to the family home until they marry,” said Dr Jabareen.
 
But, he added, good travel links between Amman and the Galilee -- and a shared language and culture -- made regular visits to Jordan a practical and inexpensive option for Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens. Add a comment
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Hero Blues: Liberals Line Up With Militarism

by Chris Floyd
Yes, the gal I got
I swear she's the screaming end
She wants me to be a hero
So she can tell all her friends
- Bob Dylan, "Hero Blues"
Joan Walsh gives us another bravura performance in a new episode of what will apparently be a very long-running show, "Deep in the Tank for Obama."
In her latest outing, Walsh is transported near to tears by images of the president greeting soldiers during his unannounced visit to Iraq. (Yes, even though the "surge" has been "a success beyond our wildest dreams," as Obama instructed us last year, American leaders still have to creep into the "liberated" land like a thief in the night.) In worshipful tones that one might have heard directed at the president at any point in the previous eight years from, say, National Review Online or Pajamas Media, Walsh gawps in awe at the bonding of the legions with their imperator:
I found it incredibly moving to watch the first grainy video footage of President Obama being mobbed by delirious American soldiers during his surprise visit to Baghdad on Tuesday. They crowded him joyously, some of them jumping up and down, stereotypical gruff-looking gray-haired white guys just beaming at the president, women and men alike leaning in for hugs....

Obama himself looked completely happy, managing to pause and chat with more soldiers in just a few minutes than you would ever imagine possible. The word "poise" seems inadequate to describe his capacity to impart real meaning to fleeting moments.... To see Obama's personal rapport with the men and women who are fighting and dying for our country would almost have to be moving, no matter your ideology.
Of course, we saw these same scenes -- boisterous, happy soldiers greeting the president with hugs and cheers -- played out over and over during Bush's term, on his every visit to Iraq. Even the infamous, much-derided "turkee" trip early in the war was an identically joyous scene for those on the ground in Baghdad. Yet one strains to recall Walsh ever thrilling to the sight of a president's personal rapport with the occupation troops in those days, or hearing her hopes that we could all put aside partisan feelings and simply appreciate these moving, patriotic moments, no matter our ideology.

No, when the troops gave Bush a rousing "hoo-ah" and "leaned in for hugs" and a quick personal word which the president somehow managed to impart to so many so quickly that you could hardly imagine it, Walsh and other lib-progs were rightly unimpressed. Such brief, emotional scenes did not change the fact that the war was a murderous, criminal enterprise, and that the soldiers in Iraq were not (and are not) "fighting and dying for their country" but were (and are) instead being used as cannon fodder in an unprovoked act of aggression that had been deeply harmful to their country, and to the entire world as well. But this sort kind of incisive, cold-eyed analysis is no longer wanted, now that one of "ours" is in the White House.
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A pressing problem: paranoia and power

by Dr. Paul Balles

Paranoia is a social disease — you get it from screwing other people.
- Paul Brodeur

Today, America is involved in an illegal "war" and a pre-emptive pregnancy. Everyone now knows that the invasion and occupation of Iraq were, and still are, based on a fraudulent attempt to capitalize on 9/11.

Everyone (who pays attention to politics) knows that the WMD excuse for invading Iraq was a fraud, making the entire murderous exercise even more illegal than a defensive war would be.

The only thing America and the UK were defending by invading Iraq was the vague possibility that sometime in the distant future Iraq, under Saddam Hussain or another leader like him, could pose a WMD threat to Israel.

Let's face it, Israel is paranoid. According to Canadian Mordecai Richler, Jewish paranoia has become a natural phenomenon. As he expressed it, "Coming from Canada, being a writer and Jewish as well, I have impeccable paranoia credentials."

Many will argue that Israelis have a perfect right to be paranoid based on their experiences with persecution and genocide. However, that does not give Israel the right to exercise their paranoid reactions against Gaza or transmit its national disease to America. Add a comment
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Talking Peace in Prague, Dropping Bombs in Pakistan

by Chris Floyd

"I saw a newborn baby with wild wolves all around it."

While the usual gaggle of sycophants and media hive-minders — along with some ordinarily perspicacious analysts — tell us that Barack Obama literally changed the course of human history by disgorging a great load of thrice-chewed cud about nuclear disarmament in Prague this week, the high-tech drone war the great hero of peace is waging inside the sovereign territory of America's ally, Pakistan, is helping drive tens of thousands of people from their homes and killing civilians almost daily

I.

Obama's Prague speech was a bold, creative, world-shaking, epochal address whose full import will only be understood many years hence by future historians, declared no less than Juan Cole. But the good professor seems to have mislaid his laser pointer — the sharp-focused beam that just a week ago skewered Obama for his outright lies and Cheneyesque manipulations in announcing his "comprehensive strategy" to escalate and expand the "Af-Pak War". Indeed, just two days before Obama's pseudo-epiphany in Prague, Cole was accurately delineating the folly and falsehoods permeating Obama's Afghanistan policies.

Yet like so many, Cole seemed dazzled by Obama's nuclear boilerplate, hailing the president as "among the more creative and bold leaders the world has seen in the past half-century." (Admittedly, that is a mighty low bar.) Cole even found some reason to hope that that Obama would follow the logic of his disarmament rhetoric and somehow force Israel to give up its arsenal of nuclear weapons. But there was nothing in Obama's speech that had not been said dozens if not hundreds of times before by American presidents from both parties, going back decades: We pledge "to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons." Nuclear proliferation must be stopped. Rogue states can't have nuclear bombs. We will work with the Russians to reduce our stockpiles. What president has ever said otherwise? Has there ever been a U.S. president since the atomic evisceration of Hiroshima and Nagasaki who has not made an impassioned plea to rid the world of these terrible weapons?

And of course, the brute fact is that the United States is bound by solemn treaty to work toward the reduction and eventual elimination of its nuclear arsenal. The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obliges the government of the United States "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures" to bring about complete nuclear disarmament in the world. Obama's "bold," "new" vision is, quite simply, part of his job description; or rather, a legal requirement for his office. Add a comment
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“So let me be clear…”

by Jim Miles

It was only a short news item, and it probably received much more commentary in the U.S. but on Canwest Global’s evening news (Sunday, April 05, Vancouver, Canada) was an item titled “Breaking the Rules”. This is quoting Obama’s comment that “North Korea broke the rules.” In order to be clear, I would need to know what rules are being referred to. Are they rules established under international law? Are they rules for the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty to which they never belonged? Or are they the continuing neocon rules that the ‘axis of evil’ should not be allowed to have nuclear weapons while the U.S. works towards first strike capability, helped in part by expanding its anti-missile ‘defences’?

As far as I know, there are no international rules for firing missiles into space, or even into the air. Perhaps he is referring to UN Resolution 1695 (2006) that says in part

3. Requires all Member States, in accordance with their national legal

authorities and legislation and consistent with international law, to exercise vigilance and prevent missile and missile-related items, materials, goods and technology being transferred to DPRK’s missile or WMD programmes….

Otherwise there is only “grave concern” at

the launch of ballistic missiles by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), given the potential of such systems to be used as a means to deliver nuclear, chemical or biological payloads….

Certainly the world needs to have “grave concern” over ballistic missiles being launched, whether they are Indian, Pakistani, Israeli, Russian or from the United States, especially considering their ‘potential.’ Article 3 does not deny the launching of missiles, and perhaps there is a later resolution that “prohibits” rather than expresses “grave concern”, but for the need of clarity I could not find one.

Article 3 does refer broadly to the intent of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT). Yet all that does is demonstrate the double standards and hypocrisy of mainly the western countries. There are no sanctions against Pakistan, or India. For the latter, even though they are a ‘rogue’ state operating outside the NPT the U.S. has been negotiating with India to increase its nuclear production capacity. Nobody has dared to accost the Israeli’s over their nuclear arsenal, calculated to be on or above two hundred missile ready units by most sources; and they operate with impunity under an almost global media blackout concerning their arsenal.

The NPT also puts the impetus on the nuclear “members” to reduce their own arsenals that now still have dozens of thousands of active weapons globally. There has been no action on this as the U.S., Russia, Great Britain, France, and China still have plenty of overkill potential for the world. Sarkozy to his credit has stated that France would reduce its airborne arsenal (while retaining its seaborne capacity) saying what was left was an “insurance policy.” Not very assuring.

 
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The Myth of Anti-Semitism

Aaronovitch's Tantrum and the Demolition of Jewish Power
by Gilad Atzmon
Last Wednesday, I participated in a panel that could have been a breakthrough debate on issues having to do with ‘Antisemitism’. The event was part of The Sunday Times Oxford Literary Festival and it took place at Oxford University.
 
The discussion was moderated by the legendary BBC reporter Martin Bell. On the panel we had Nick Cohen and David Aaronovitch.  They were there to elaborate on the case of ‘new antisemitism’. Interestingly enough, Aaronovitch and Cohen were the prominent advocates of the illegal war in Iraq through the British press. They are also notoriously famous for their Islamophobic ranting, as if this is not enough, they were also caught supporting the latest Israeli deadly campaign in Gaza.
 
I was there to argue that antisemitism is a spin, it is a myth, I was there to deliver a very simple message: There is no such a thing as antisemitism.
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See No Evil: Vancouver Police Policy on Witness Cameras Sought

BCCLA Demands Clarification of VPD Policy on Seizing Cameras
by B.C. Civil Liberties Association
The BC Civil Liberties Association filed a complaint today with the Vancouver Police Board, asking them to clarify VPD policy on seizing cameras. The BCCLA says that Sunday’s allegation by a Vancouver Province photographer brings to three the number of high-profile allegations against the VPD concerning the seizure of cameras in recent memory.

“Now a citizen and two media outlets have made high profile and serious allegations against the VPD concerning police interference in their right to videotape events in the public domain,” said David Eby, Executive Director of the BCCLA. “This is a troubling pattern that the Police Board should move to address proactively.”
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Dawning Class Consciousness in America

Zinn on Class in America
by The Real News
Howard Zinn: "In the United States we are brought up to think there's only one class."
 
 
 
Howard Zinn is an American historian, political scientist, social critic, activist and playwright. He is best known as author of the best-seller 'A People's History of the United States'. Zinn has been active in the Civil Rights and the anti-war movements in the United States.
 
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Drone Wars: Your Future Has Arrived

Terminator Planet: Launching the Drone Wars
by Tom Engelhardt
In 1984, Skynet, the supercomputer that rules a future Earth, sent a cyborg assassin, a "terminator," back to our time. His job was to liquidate the woman who would give birth to John Connor, the leader of the underground human resistance of Skynet's time. You with me so far? That, of course, was the plot of the first Terminator movie and for the multi-millions who saw it, the images of future machine war -- of hunter-killer drones flying above a wasted landscape -- are unforgettable.

Since then, as Hollywood's special effects took off, there were two sequels during which the original terminator somehow morphed into a friendlier figure on screen, and even more miraculously, off-screen, into the humanoid governor of California. Now, the fourth film in the series, Terminator Salvation, is about to descend on us. It will hit our multiplexes this May.

Oh, sorry, I don't mean hit hit. I mean, arrive in.

Meanwhile, hunter-killer drones haven't waited for Hollywood. As you sit in that movie theater in May, actual unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), pilotless surveillance and assassination drones armed with Hellfire missiles, will be patrolling our expanding global battlefields, hunting down human beings. And in the Pentagon and the labs of defense contractors, UAV supporters are already talking about and working on next-generation machines. Post-2020, according to these dreamers, drones will be able to fly and fight, discern enemies and incinerate them without human decision-making. They're even wondering about just how to program human ethics, maybe even American ethics, into them.
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