Glorification of War

Show Details for the week of September 18th, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Gareth Porter on whether we have been deceived over Syrian Sarin Attack
  • Peter Clarke on how the First World War helped shape the political imaginations of David Lloyd George, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin D Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and John Maynard Keynes.

More about this week’s guests:

gareth_porterGareth Porter is an American historian, investigative journalist, author and policy analyst specializing in U.S. national security policy. He was active as a Vietnam specialist and anti-war activist during the Vietnam War, serving as Saigon Bureau Chief for Dispatch News Service International from 1970–1971, and later, as co-director of the Indochina Resource Center. He has written several books about the potential for peaceful conflict resolution in Southeast Asia and the Middle East, including his 2005 book Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam, an analysis of how and why the United States went to war in Vietnam. In 2012 he was the winner of the Martha Gellhorn Prize for Journalism, which is awarded annually by the Frontline Club in London to acknowledge reporting that exposes propaganda. His latest book is Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare (Just World Books, 2014).  Article: Have We Been Deceived Over Syrian Sarin Attack? Scrutinizing the Evidence in an Incident Trump Used to Justify Bombing Syria

peter-clarkePeter Clarke was formerly a professor of modern history and Master of Trinity Hall at Cambridge. His many books include Keynes: The Twentieth Century’s Most Influential EconomistThe Last Thousand Days of the British EmpireThe Keynesian Revolution in the Making, 1924-1936 and the acclaimed final volume of the Penguin History of Britain, Hope and Glory, Britain 1900-2000. He lives with his wife, the Canadian writer Maria Tippett, in Cambridge, England, and Pender Island, British Columbia. His most recent book is The Locomotive of War: Money, Empire, Power and Guilt

Show Details for the week of July 3rd, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Howard Zinn‘s 2009 speech at The Progressive Magazine‘s 100th anniversary
  • Part of a talk by Noam Chomsky from 1990 describing propaganda terms in the media and what they mean

zinnportraitHoward Zinn was 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. Howard Zinn passed away on January 27, 2010. Zinn was raised in a working-class family in Brooklyn, and flew bombing missions for the United States in World War II, an experience he now points to in shaping his opposition to war. In 1956, he became a professor at Spelman College in Atlanta, a school for black women, where he soon became involved in the Civil rights movement, which he participated in as an adviser to the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee SNCC and chronicled, in his book SNCC The New Abolitionists. Zinn collaborated with historian Staughton Lynd and mentored a young student named Alice Walker. When he was fired in 1963 for insubordination related to his protest work, he moved to Boston University, where he became a leading critic of the Vietnam War.

noam-chomsky1Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, historian, social critic, and political activist. Sometimes described as “the father of modern linguistics”, Chomsky is also a major figure in analytic philosophy and one of the founders of the field of cognitive science. He is Institute Professor Emeritus at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), where he has worked since 1955, and is the author of over 100 books on topics such as linguistics, war, politics, and mass media. Ideologically, he aligns with anarcho-syndicalism and libertarian socialism.

Born to middle-class Ashkenazi Jewish immigrants in Philadelphia, Chomsky developed an early interest in anarchism from alternative bookstores in New York City. At the age of 16 he began studies at the University of Pennsylvania, taking courses in linguistics, mathematics, and philosophy. From 1951 to 1955 he was appointed to Harvard University’s Society of Fellows, where he developed the theory of transformational grammar for which he was awarded his doctorate in 1955. That year he began teaching at MIT, in 1957 emerging as a significant figure in the field of linguistics for his landmark work Syntactic Structures, which remodeled the scientific study of language, while from 1958 to 1959 he was a National Science Foundation fellow at the Institute for Advanced Study. He is credited as the creator or co-creator of the universal grammar theory, the generative grammar theory, the Chomsky hierarchy, and the minimalist program. Chomsky also played a pivotal role in the decline of behaviorism, being particularly critical of the work of B. F. Skinner.

An outspoken opponent of U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War, which he saw as an act of American imperialism, in 1967 Chomsky attracted widespread public attention for his anti-war essay “The Responsibility of Intellectuals”. Associated with the New Left, he was arrested multiple times for his activism and placed on President Richard Nixon’s Enemies List. While expanding his work in linguistics over subsequent decades, he also became involved in the Linguistics Wars. In collaboration with Edward S. Herman, Chomsky later co-wrote an analysis articulating the propaganda model of media criticism, and worked to expose the Indonesian occupation of East Timor. However, his defense of unconditional freedom of speech – including for Holocaust deniers – generated significant controversy in the Faurisson affair of the early 1980s. Following his retirement from active teaching, he has continued his vocal political activism, including opposing the War on Terror and supporting the Occupy movement.

One of the most cited scholars in history, Chomsky has influenced a broad array of academic fields. He is widely recognized as a paradigm shifter who helped spark a major revolution in the human sciences, contributing to the development of a new cognitivistic framework for the study of language and the mind. In addition to his continued scholarly research, he remains a leading critic of U.S. foreign policy, neoliberalism and contemporary state capitalism, the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, and mainstream news media. His ideas have proved highly significant within the anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist movements, but have also drawn criticism, with some accusing Chomsky of anti-Americanism.

In 2006 The Progressive Magazine published a text by Howard Zinn that is well worth a read today.

Show Details for the week of May 22nd, 2017

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On The Monitor this week:

More about this week’s guests:

quote-media-manipulation-in-the-u-s-today-is-more-efficient-than-it-was-in-nazi-germany-because-mark-crispin-miller-67-14-66Mark Crispin Miller is a Professor of Media, Culture and Communication at New York University. He is the author of several books, including Boxed In: The Culture of TV; The Bush Dyslexicon: Observations on a National Disorder; Cruel and Unusual: Bush/Cheney’s New World Order and Fooled Again: The Real Case for Electoral Reform. He is also the editor of Loser Take All: Election Fraud and the Subversion of Democracy, 2000-2008. His essays and articles have appeared in many journals, magazines and newspapers throughout the nation and the world, and he has given countless interviews worldwide. Miller is the editor of Icons of America, a book series published by Yale University Press. Miller is now at work on The Marlboro Man: An American Success Story, to be published by Yale University Press in 2011. He is also editor of Discovering America, a new book series from the University of Texas Press. In 2004, Miller wrote Patriot Act, a show that he performed for six weeks at the New York Theater Workshop, co-starring with Steve Cuiffo. Miller earned his bachelor’s degree from Northwestern University in 1971, and his doctorate in English from Johns Hopkins University in 1977. Although he specialized in Renaissance literature, Miller is best known as a media critic. Before joining New York University, Miller served as director of film studies at Johns Hopkins University.

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Shireen Al-Adeimi is a doctoral student in Human Development and Education. She has taught sixth grade Language Arts and Literature in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and is currently studying the role of classroom discussion in developing students’ writing quality. In particular, she is interested in academic language and hopes to make salient the linguistic features that are indicative of academic language production in writing. She is also conducting research that investigates the role of bilingualism in the manifestation of cognitive processes in writing. Al-Ademi holds an M.A. in education from the University of Michigan.

Show Details for the week of December 12th, 2016

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This week’s show is a little different. It is a mix of audio clips edited together featuring: part of “Hypernormlization” by Adam Curtis, the voice of Carl Sagan, JFK’s “Peace” speech, a clip from “Mississippi Burning” and Charley Chaplin’s speech in “The Dictator“. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Show Details for the week of September 12th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Questioning the dominant narrative surrounding the “threat” posed by North Korea’s nuclear test – an interview with James Bradley
  • Demonizing and misunderstanding China – a previous interview with Henry Rosemont JR

More about this week’s guests:

iwa5James Bradley is a historical non-fiction author. His books include the bestsellers Flags of Our Fathers and Flyboys. His most recent book is The China Mirage: The Hidden History of American Disaster in Asia. He just wrote the piece “Whose Nukes to Worry About?” published on CounterPunch.

Quote: “North Korea carried out its fifth nuclear test on Friday, September 9. President Obama has condemned the action while the Pentagon called it a ‘serious provocation.’ Ho-hum, here we go again. Every year America pays its vassal-state South Korea huge sums of U.S. taxpayer money to mount 300,000-man-strong military ‘games’ that threaten North Korea. North Koreans view images that never seem to make it to U.S. kitchen tables: hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of U.S. armaments swarming in from the sea, hundreds of tanks and thousands of troops — their turrets and rifles pointed north — and nuclear-capable U.S. warplanes screaming overhead. But when a young dictator straight out of central casting responds to U.S. threats with an underground test on North Korea’s founding day, it’s the #1 story on the front page of the New York Times.

Let’s connect some dots. Washington and their note takers in the American press constantly tell us that crazies in Pyongyang and Tehran are nuclear threats. The misplaced, but easily sold, fears of the ‘North Korean missile threat’ and the ‘Iran missile threat’ allows the Pentagon to install ‘defensive’ missile systems in South Korea and the Ukraine which are actually offensive systems targeting Beijing and Moscow. We need to look beyond the simplistic, race-based cartoon-like scaremongering to see that far more reality-based and frightening is the nuclear threat posed by the United States.

President Obama — the Nobel Prize winner who pledged to lead a nuclear-free world — has committed over $1 trillion dollars to modernize America’s nuclear arsenal. Almost unreported by the press, we have been spending a bundle to make nukes ‘usable,’ by miniaturizing them. And to top it off, Obama has approved a ‘first use’ option for the U.S.”

headshotHenry Rosemont JR is distinguished professor emeritus at St. Mary’s College of Maryland and visiting scholar of religious studies at Brown University. He also spent three years in China as Fulbright Senior Lecturer at Fudan University in Shanghai.

Among his books are A Chinese Mirror, Rationality and Religious Experience, Is There A Universal Grammar of Religion? (with Huston Smith), and A Reader’s Companion to the Confucian Analects. He has edited and/or translated ten other books, including Leibniz: Writings on China (with Daniel Cook) and with Roger Ames, The Analects of Confucius: A Philosophical Translation. His latest book is the recently released Against Individualism: A Confucian Rethinking of the Foundations of Morality, Politics, Family and Religion.

Quote: “As the state visit of President Xi Jinping draws nigh, his demonization at the hands of the media, many members of Congress and most of the presidential candidates will make it difficult for the Obama administration to suggest a much more cooperative than confrontational approach to U.S.-China relations. But brinksmanship with China is even more irrational than with Iran, for (at least) four reasons. First, it almost surely will not be effective. China cannot be bullied, and the U.S. has a far greater capacity to influence the country positively than negatively. Second, cooperation rather than confrontation — or even competition — would be in the best economic, military, social and environmental interests of both nations. Third, increased tensions and mutual distrust between the U.S. and China instead of close cooperation will eliminate what may well be the best option for providing a measure of global stability that neither the U. N., E.U., World Bank, I.M.F. or other international institutions seem capable of maintaining any longer on their own. And the 4th reason is the unthinkable: World War III, nuclear weapons and all.

Background: Bloomberg reports: “Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker wants President Barack Obama to cancel Chinese president Xi Jinping’s upcoming state visit. Stealing some of his thunder, Florida Senator Marco Rubio swooped in and countered that it should be downgraded to a regular working visit.” CNN headlined a story last week: “Donald Trump: No state dinner — only Big Mac — for China’s president.”

The Huffington Post recently published excerpts of Rosemont’s  most recent book. See: “We All Think We’re Individuals. Here’s Why That’s Not True, And Why The Lie Is Told,” which states: “It is possible to challenge the libertarian on moral and political grounds, but not, I believe, if one accepts a foundational individualism as grounding ethics.”

See video of his talk at the China Studies center at Saint Vincent College.

In 2008, he co-wrote the piece “Is China a Threat?

Show Details for the week of August 1st, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • The DNC from the inside, and the outside, with Lenny Siegel
  • The Freak out over Brexit in the context of Interventions and Austerity, with Robin Hahnel

More about this week’s guests:

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Image Credit: Mountain View Voice

Lenny Siegel is a member of the Mountain View (CA) City Council and was a Bernie Sanders delegate at the Democratic National Convention. Siegel was a leader of the anti-war student movement at Stanford University from 1966 to 1975. He founded Mountain View Voices for Peace for both Iraq Wars. Since 1989, he’s become a national leader in the effort to clean up contaminated military bases. He ran for office three times before eventually winning. His term expires in 2019.

Quote: “The highlight of the evening for me came when former CIA Director Leon Panetta spoke. Other than honoring veterans, few speakers at the convention have addressed foreign policy. But Panetta was assigned to defend the Obama-Clinton policies of regime change and the war on terror, two terms they don’t use because they were associated with George W. Bush. To be honest, given what happened, I don’t remember exactly what he said, other than claiming credit for killing Osama bin Laden. I sat there quietly and sadly, holding up a hand-made sign I got from the fellow sitting next to me. It read, ‘End the drone wars.’ Democrats are quick to criticize Republican wars, but most are reluctant to challenge Democratic Commanders in Chief. I am not looking forward to four or eight more years of endless war. To my surprise, across the hall the Oregon delegation started chanting ‘No more war!’ Or maybe it was ‘wars.’ Our larger group quickly echoed them. I couldn’t tell if other delegates joined in. Before long, the masters of the house dimmed the lights shining on the Oregon delegation. We shouted ‘Lights, Lights …’ The Oregonians pulled out their smartphones and turned on their flashlight apps. It looked like a cosmic constellation. We shone ours, and I believe others were shining elsewhere in the arena.”

robin_hahnelRobin Hahnel is professor emeritus at the American University. He is best known as a radical economist and co-creator of a post-capitalist economic model known as “participatory economics.” His ten books include The Political Economy of Participatory Economics (Princeton University Press). He just wrote the piece “Brexit: Establishment Freak Out,” which states: “It is comical to watch the establishment on both sides of the Atlantic panic over short-run economic damage due to market ‘over reaction,’ because any danger of this is due to their own negligence. Only because the establishment has hitched our economic destinies to the whims of financial markets is there any need to worry that Brexit might trigger yet another global meltdown. Only because the establishment failed to implement prudent, financial regulation in the seven years since the last financial crisis crashed the global economy is there any danger today. Only because the Cameron government and the European Commission responded to the Great Recession with counterproductive fiscal austerity is a return to deeper recession in Europe quite probable. But we can be sure of one thing: All negative economic trends will now be blamed on Brexit and the populist ‘mob’ who brought it on, rather than on the establishment’s neoliberal policies which are actually responsible.” You can follow him on Twitter here: @RobinHahnel and you can read more examples of his work here:

Economic Growth, Climate Change, and Capitalism

Brexit: Establishment Freak Out

‘Told You So’ Is Bitter Sweet

Capitalist Cheating

An Open Letter to the Climate Justice Movement

Read more…

Show Details for the week of July 4th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week:

  • Gareth Porter on the Syria “dissent” memo and US bureaucratic support for Kerry war strategy
  • Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore on “Transgender Troops”

 

More about this week’s guests:

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist and winner of the 2012 Gellhorn Prize for journalism. He is the author of the newly published Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare. He has published investigative articles on Salon.com, the Nation, the American Prospect, Truthout and The Raw Story. His blogs have been published on Huffington Post, Firedoglake, Counterpunch and many other websites. Porter was Saigon bureau chief of Dispatch News Service International in 1971 and later reported on trips to Southeast Asia for The Guardian, Asian Wall Street Journal and Pacific News Service. He is the author of four books on the Vietnam War and the political system of Vietnam. Historian Andrew Bacevich called his latest book, Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War , published by University of California Press in 2005, without a doubt, the most important contribution to the history of U.S. national security policy to appear in the past decade. He has taught Southeast Asian politics and international studies at American University, City College of New York and the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Read: The Syria ‘dissent’ memo and US bureaucratic support for Kerry war strategy #Diplomacy

Mattilda Bernstein Sycamoremattilda-by-charlie-stephens-hires5 described as “startlingly bold and provocative” by Howard Zinn, “a cross between Tinkerbell and a honky Malcolm X with a queer agenda” by the Austin Chronicle, and “a gender-fucking tower of pure pulsing purple fabulous” by The Stranger, Mattilda is most recently the author of a memoir, The End of San Francisco, winner of a 2014 Lambda Literary Award. She’s also the editor of Why Are Faggots So Afraid of Faggots?: Flaming Challenges to Masculinity, Objectification, and the Desire to Conform (AK Press 2012), an American Library Association Stonewall Honor Book and a finalist for a Lambda Literary Award. Mattilda is the author of two novels, So Many Ways to Sleep Badly (City Lights 2008) and Pulling Taffy (Suspect Thoughts 2003). She is the editor of four additional nonfiction anthologies, Nobody Passes: Rejecting the Rules of Gender and Conformity (Seal 2007), That’s Revolting! Queer Strategies for Resisting Assimilation (Soft Skull 2004; 2008), Dangerous Families: Queer Writing on Surviving (Haworth 2004), and Tricks and Treats: Sex Workers Write about Their Clients (Haworth 2000), which now also appears in Italian (Effepi Libri 2007). Mattilda is currently finishing a third novel, Sketchtasy.

Read: “Transgender Troops” Should Be an Oxymoron

Show Details for the week of March 14th, 2016

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On The Monitor this week

  • Assessing the gap between rhetoric and policy – just how “extreme” is Trump’s discourse? We discuss the topic with Arun Kundani
  • A journey from Zionism to peace activism with Miko Peled

More about this week’s guests:

5wmyicxArun Kundnani is the author of The Muslims are Coming! Islamophobia, Extremism, and the Domestic War on Terror (2015) and The End of Tolerance: Racism in 21st Century Britain (2007)He is a lecturer at New York University. His writings are available online at kundnani.org — including his articles “The Guantánamo in New York you’re not allowed to know about,” and “The belief system of the Islamophobes.” You can see him here on CNN in discussion with Trump supporters.
He recently wrote the draft paper: “Islamophobia: Lay Ideology of U.S.-Led Empire,” in which he analyzes Islamophobia as an ideology that “offers an everyday ‘common sense’ explanatory framework for making sense” of crisis such as terrorists attacks. He argues that it does so “in ways that disavow those events’ political meanings (rooted in empire, racism, and resistance) and instead explain them as products” of a “Muslimness.”
Arun states that this Islamophobia within U.S. and Western culture in effect pretends that there is a fixed “other” that must be opposed. He argues: “This maneuver is also an act of projection in the psychoanalytic sense: the racist and imperialist violence upon which U.S.-led capitalism depends cannot be acknowledged in liberal society so it is transferred onto the personality of the Muslim and seen as emanating from ‘outside’ the social order. Imperial violence is then only ever a proportionate response to the inherently aggressive and threatening nature of the fanatical Muslim enemy. In these ways, a Western self-image of innocence and beneficence can be maintained by screening out resistance to the U.S.-led system of global capitalism.”
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220px-miko_peledMiko Peled was born in Jerusalem in 1961 into a well known Zionist family. His grandfather, Dr.  Avraham Katsnelson was a Zionist leader and signer on the Israeli Declaration of Independence. His father, Matti Peled was a young officer in the war of 1948 and a general in the war of 1967 when Israel conquered the West Bank, Gaza, Golan Heights and the Sinai.Miko is the author of The General’s Son: Journey of an Israeli in Palestine. His book has been newly revised and the new edition is expected to be out on April 19, 2016. You can read more about Miko online at mikopeled.com
About the book:
In 1997, tragedy struck when his beloved niece Smadar was killed by a suicide bomber in Jerusalem. That killing propelled Peled onto a journey of discovery. It pushed him to re-examine many of the beliefs he had grown up with, as the son and grandson of leading figures in Israel’s political-military elite. This powerful memoir details Miko Peled’s transformation into a courageous and visionary activist in the struggle for equal rights and a hopeful, lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians and a new epilogue describes his extraordinary travels that have opened new paths of solidarity in the last few years.In her foreword, Pulitzer Prize–winning author Alice Walker writes, “There are few books on the Israel/Palestine issue that seem as hopeful to me as this one.”

Show Details for the week of February 8th, 2016

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KPFT is in its winter pledge drive. The Monitor has a goal of $800 per show for three consecutive weeks. Last week’s show beat the goal and it would be GREAT to keep that going this week. Please call 713 526 5738 during the show or pledge online at www.kpft.org

dronesThis week we have Marjorie Cohn on the show to talk about her latest article “Want Endless War? Love the U.S. Empire? Well, Hillary Clinton’s Your Choice” and a volume she edited called Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral and Geopolitical Issues which you can get during this week’s show for a pledge of $120.

Reviews:

”This book provides much-needed analysis of why America’s targeted killing program is illegal, immoral and unwise.” —from the foreword by Archbishop Desmond Tutu

“Very important book… In a few months we will commemorate the 800th anniversary of Magna Carta, which, despite the limits of the day, established the founding principle of modern law: presumption of innocence. Today that principle has been rescinded. Guilty verdicts are no longer to be rendered by a jury of peers, but by a White House session deciding who we are going to kill today along with whatever unfortunates happen to be in the vicinity of the drone attack. As these valuable essays show, Obama s global terror campaign is a menace to the world, and Americans are not likely to escape unscathed.”
Noam Chomsky

 

You can also get a copy of Censored 2016: The Top Censored Stories and Media Analysis of 2014-15 for a pledge of $90. censored2016-front-cover

You can listen to an interview with Project Censored’s Mickey Huff from January 4th here

Review

“Project Censored’s list of the top stories that get very little mainstream media traction should in fact drive the reporting agendas of every major news outlet. These 25 stories are clearly the most consequential of the year, and what is scary in looking at the list is how obvious it is that silencing reports of these themes protects corrupt governments and corporate gatekeepers. Project Censored is a lifeline to the world’s most urgent and significant stories.” –Naomi Wolf

 

 

Marjorie Cohn Speaking

More about this week’s guest: Marjorie Cohn has been a professor at Thomas Jefferson School of Law since 1991. In summer 2016, she will become Professor Emeritus, and will continue to lecture, write, and provide media commentary. A former news consultant for CBS News and a legal analyst for Court TV, Professor Cohn has been a legal and political commentator on BBC, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, NPR, and Pacifica Radio.

Professor Cohn is the author of Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law and co-author of Cameras in the Courtroom: Television and the Pursuit of Justice (with David Dow), and Rules of Disengagement: The Politics and Honor of Military Dissent (with Kathleen Gilberd). She is editor and contributor to The United States and Torture: Interrogation, Incarceration and Abuse, and Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues.

Show Details for the week of October 14th, 2013

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KPFT is in Pledge Drive and The Monitor has three shows during the drive. Our goal this week is $1200.

Please help us get there by calling 713-526-5738 or going online at www.kpft.org during the show.

This week’s show takes a look at Big Brother Mining Your Data with our first guest, Pratap Chatterjee. During last week’s show we mentioned that war funding has not been impacted by the government shut down. Our second interview looks at the ongoing war in Afghanistan with our second guest Matthew Hoh.

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More about this week’s guests:

Pratap Chatterjee is executive director of CorpWatch and author of Halliburton’s Army: How A Well-Connected Texas Oil Company Revolutionized the Way America Makes War (Nation Books, 2009) and Iraq, Inc. (Seven Stories Press, 2004). He has many years of experience working in radio, print and digital media, including hosting a weekly radio show on Berkeley station KPFA, working as global environment editor for InterPress Service and as a freelance writer for the Financial Times, the Guardian and the Independent of London. He has won five Project Censored awards as well as a Silver Reel from the National Federation of Community Broadcasters for his work in Afghanistan, and the best business story award from the National Newspaper Association (US), among others. He has also appeared as a commentator on numerous radio and television shows ranging from BBC World Service, CNN International, Democracy Now!, Fox and MSNBC. Pratap serves on the board of Amnesty International USA and Corporate Europe Observatory.

Article: “The Data Hackers Mining Your Information for Big Brother

Quote: “Big Bro is watching you. 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.That’s not how they’re marketing them to us, of course. No, the message is much more seductive: Data, Silicon Valley is fond of saying, is the new oil. And the Valley’s message is clear enough: we can turn your digital information into fuel for pleasure and profits — if you just give us access to your location, your correspondence, your history, and the entertainment that you like.Ever played Farmville? Checked into Foursquare? Listened to music on Pandora? These new social apps come with an obvious price tag: the annoying advertisements that we believe to be the fee we have to pay for our pleasure. But there’s a second, more hidden price tag — the reams of data about ourselves that we give away. …But there is a second kind of data company of which most people are unaware: high-tech outfits that simply help themselves to our information in order to allow U.S. government agencies to dig into our past and present. Some of this is legal, since most of us have signed away the rights to our own information on digital forms that few ever bother to read, but much of it is, to put the matter politely, questionable. This second category is made up of professional surveillance companies. They generally work for or sell their products to the government — in other words, they are paid with our tax dollars — but we have no control over them. Harris Corporation provides technology to the FBI to track, via our mobile phones, where we go; Glimmerglass builds tools that the U.S. intelligence community can use to intercept our overseas calls; and companies like James Bimen Associates design software to hack into our computers. There is also a third category: data brokers like Arkansas-based Acxiom. These companies monitor our Google searches and sell the information to advertisers. They make it possible for Target to offer baby clothes to pregnant teenagers, but also can keep track of your reading habits and the questions you pose to Google on just about anything from pornography to terrorism, presumably to sell you Viagra and assault rifles.”

Matthew Hoh is a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy and is the former director of the Afghanistan Study Group. A former Marine and State Department official, Hoh resigned in protest from his post with the State Department in Afghanistan over U.S. strategic policy and goals in Afghanistan in 2009.

Quote: “It is fitting that as we pass the 12-year mark of the U.S. and Western invasion and occupation of Afghanistan, the U.S. government is shut down, our economy, education system and infrastructure continues their persistent degradation, and the American people, for the first time ever, now believe their children will not be better off than they. The failure of the United States’ war in Afghanistan, a failure that has been obvious for quite some time, like our own domestic failings, is a testament to a broken American political order and a $1 trillion a year national security Leviathan. Of course, the Afghan people are no closer to becoming a country at peace than at any time since the 1970s and the United States must and should understand its responsibility and culpability in the continuing death, loss and chaos. Similarly, in Libya and Somalia, again violence and military force is proving not to be a solution to terrorism. We have to understand the root causes. And many times these root causes are local and regional issues we have a poor grasp of — and sometimes those root causes are grievances against U.S. policies. In Somalia, we keep losing sight of the fact that al-Shabab has not conducted operations anywhere that was not related to occupation of Somalia, this is true for their operations in Uganda and their recent attack in Kenya. So much of this is tied to the U.S. sponsored Ethiopian invasion of Somalia. In Libya, our support in the overthrow of Gaddafi’s government, to include the killing of the man that the U.S. State Department had defined as a reliable ally in the war on terror, has led to continued chaos and a vacuum in government. Two years later we find ourselves having to kidnap a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people. How can we describe our operations in Libya to have been successful or a model for future operations as is so often described by administration officials or pundits?”