Articles

Edwin Cartlidge – Has a Hungarian physics lab found a fifth force of nature?

May 29, 2016

A laboratory experiment in Hungary has spotted an anomaly in radioactive decay that could be the signature of a previously unknown fifth fundamental force of nature, physicists say – if the finding holds up. Attila Krasznahorkay at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences’s Institute for Nuclear Research in Debrecen, Hungary, and his colleagues reported their surprising result in 2015 on the arXiv preprint server, and this January in the journal Physical Review Letters1. But the report – which posited the existence of a new, light boson only 34 times heavier than the electron – was largely overlooked. Then, on 25 April, a group of US theoretical physicists brought the finding to wider attention by publishing its own analysis of the result on arXiv2. The theorists showed that the data didn’t conflict with any previous experiments – and concluded that it could be evidence for a fifth fundamental force. “We brought it out from relative obscurity,” says Jonathan Feng, at the University of California, Irvine, the lead author of the arXiv report. Four days later, two of Feng’s colleagues discussed the finding at a workshop at the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory in Menlo Park, California. Researchers there were sceptical but excited about the idea, says

ALEX RAY – The Death Toll in Syria: What Do the Numbers Really Say?

May 29, 2016

What is the Syrian death toll now? 400,000? Less? More? While the aphorism “One death is a tragedy, one million deaths is a statistic”, has been attributed to many, it is likely none foresaw the inverse utility of this concept for shaping narratives in an age of humanitarian intervention. Statistics are now weapons in themselves. Raw numbers are ambiguous; as journalist Sharmine Narwani writes, “It doesn’t tell us who is killing and who is dying. And that information matters – the global political response to a genuine civil conflict would be different than to a genocide committed by a ruthless authority.” When the United States’ Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) released its eighth summary of the Syrian death toll in mid-2015 it painted this confused picture: 230,000 total deaths, between 150,000 and 160,000 ‘opposition deaths’ (civilian and military), a further 98,000 ‘other’ civilian deaths, and a very precise 18,476 ‘regime’ deaths – an actual minimum total of 266,476. Read

Richard Falk – On (Not) Loving Henry Kissinger

May 29, 2016

There is an irony that would be amusing if it was not depressing about news that Donald Trump has been courting the 92-year old foreign policy sorcerer Henry Kissinger. Of course, the irony is that earlier in the presidential campaign Hilary Clinton proudly claimed Kissinger as ‘a friend,’ and acknowledged that he “relied on his counsel” while she served as Obama’s Secretary of State between 2009-2013. It is indeed strange that the only point of public convergence between free-swinging Trump and war-mongering Clinton should be these ritual shows of deference to the most scandalous foreign policy figure of the past century.   Kissinger should not be underestimated as an international personality with a sorcerer’s dark gifts. After all, he was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 for his perverse role in Vietnam diplomacy. Kissinger had supported the war from its inception and was known as a strong proponent of the despicable ‘Christmas bombing’ of North Vietnam. He had earlier joined with Nixon in secretly extending the Vietnam War to Cambodia, incidentally without Congressional knowledge, much less authorization. This led to the total destabilization and devastation of a country that had successfully maintained its neutrality for the prior decade. It

JOSÉ L. FLORES – Wall Street’s New Man in Brazil: The Forces Behind Dilma Rousseff’s Impeachment

May 29, 2016

Currently, Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff has become the target of a political insurrection. The legislature is in the process of convicting Ms. Rousseff on charges of corruption, thereby permanently removing her from office.  In the meantime, Vice -President Michel Temer has assumed the responsibilities of president.  Ms. Rousseff’s charges include using profits form Petrobras, the Brazilian semipublic oil corporation, to cover-up budget shortfalls. The manipulation of the national budget could be considered unorthodox; however, the funds were mostly used on covering the costs of popular social programs. Acting President Michel Temer is simultaneously being investigated for bribery and corruption; however, he is a great friend to Wall Street and is a U.S. intelligence informant, which arguably puts him beyond reproach when considering impeachment or indictment. Read

Reynard Loki – Hillary Clinton Tried to Push Fracking on Other Nations When She Was Secretary of State, New Emails Reveal

May 28, 2016

Emails obtained by The Intercept from the State Department reveal new details of Hillary Clinton’s behind-the-scenes efforts to export fracking—a method of extracting oil and natural gas from underground shale deposits—to foreign countries during her tenure as Secretary of State. The emails, acquired through a Freedom of Information Act request, could be particularly damning in light of Clinton’s recent attempts to ally herself with the anti-fracking movement. Last month, in advance of the New York primary, the Clinton campaign aired a television ad announcing her allegiance with so-called fracktivists fighting to stop fracking, which has been tied to a number of health and environmental problems. (New York banned fracking in 2015 after an extensive seven-year study.) In the spot, a narrator says, “China. India. Some of the world’s worst polluters. As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton forced them to the table, making real change by laying the groundwork for the historic global agreement to combat climate change,” and adding that as president, Clinton will “stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say no.”  The ad was not announced to the press at the time and is not included with most of Clinton’s other ads on her

Jeff Bryant – America’s Schools Are Falling Apart—The Country’s Public Schools Need Huge Investment

May 28, 2016

You’ve probably heard about the fierce battle [3] over school bathrooms raging across the country. It’s an important story for sure because transgender students should not be blocked from entering facilities of their gender identity. But the current fight over gender equity shouldn’t take away from another bathroom battle taking place in our nation’s public schools: whether students have access to a functioning bathroom at all. In Detroit, a local news outlet [4] recently reported bathroom facilities in some schools are in such poor states of repair that teachers are forced to tell students, “No, there’s nowhere in the building to go to the bathroom.” Read

Look at the Lobbyists Clinton and Wasserman Schultz Picked to Write the Democratic Party’s Platform

May 27, 2016

This week, the leading Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, and the DNC chairwoman, Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida, appointed professional influence peddlers with ties to weapons makers, hedge funds and Wal-Mart to the committee responsible for drafting the Democratic Party’s policy platform. Lee Fang and Zaid Jilani of The Intercept report: Wendy Sherman and Carol Browner, two of the representatives chosen by Clinton, work at the Albright Stonebridge Group, a “government affairs” firm that was created in 2009 through a merger with Madeleine Albright’s consulting company and Stonebridge International, a defense contractor lobbying shop. The website for the company touts its ability to win favors and influence with government officials throughout the world on behalf of corporate clients, from shaping regulatory standards in the U.S. for a European automotive business to engaging “with the highest levels of the Saudi government.” H.P. Goldfield, vice president at the firm, is a registered lobbyist for the Saudi Arabian government. Read

Ray McGovern – Clinton’s Imperious Brush-off of Email Rules

May 27, 2016

State Department functionaries faced a hopeless task as they tried to spin their own Inspector General’s matter-of-fact critique of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s imperial attitude toward basic security measures everyone else is required by law to follow. It turns out that she deliberately chose to use a hacker-friendly, unprotected email server, and not so much for convenience – unless you define “convenience” as the ability to operate in total secrecy with no possibility of being held accountable for your policies or behavior. In one email to an aide, Clinton explained, “I don’t want any risk of the personal being accessible.” When some staffers had the temerity to voice concerns over the vulnerability of a non-governmental email system, they were warned by their seniors “never to speak of the Secretary’s personal email system again.” The IG report establishes that Clinton’s claim that her use of an insecure email system for official business had been “allowed” is, well, disingenuous. Read

The 9 biggest revelations in the State IG report on Clinton’s emails

May 27, 2016

The State Department’s inspector general report on Wednesday offered little absolution for Hillary Clinton or several of her top aides who refused to cooperate with the investigation into the former secretary of state’s exclusive use of a private email server. The 83-page document, which was given to lawmakers and leaked to the press, noted systemic problems with records at the State Department but zeroed in on Clinton, concluding that she had violated federal rules with her private email server. In addition to creating another headache for a campaign already struggling to fend off a spirited fight from Democratic primary challenger Bernie Sanders as it looks toward a general election battle with Donald Trump, the report provided fresh details about whether the private server was authorized and concerns about hacking attacks. Here are nine of the biggest revelations in the report: 1. Clinton’s email setup was never approved by State security agencies Read

David Sheen – Extreme Takeover: Why Many Are Calling Israel’s New Government the ‘Most Racist’ in History

May 27, 2016

With the announcement that hard-right Avigdor Lieberman would soon use his powerful position as Minister of Defense in the Israeli cabinet to advance additional anti-democratic legislation, members of the old Israeli political establishment could scarcely contain their apprehension. “Lieberman is the new Kahane [3],” read the title of an op-ed by a former two-time Israeli minister, a reference to the founding father of Israel’s first fascist party. “Israel is not a democracy anymore [4],” lamented the former Speaker of the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, at a huge protest in Tel Aviv, the heart of the Israeli left. At the same mass rally, a liberal lawmaker called the coalition the “most racist government [5] in Israel’s history” and assailed the leader of the centrist Labor Party for his willingness to work in partnership with Netanyahu. About 15,000 citizens answered the call of organizers that night, assembling for a raucous “Emergency march: Standing up for democracy while we still can.” But that was over five years ago. The former Israeli minister who called Lieberman the “new Kahane,” Yossi Sarid, is now dead. The liberal lawmaker who named Netanyahu’s government the most racist in history, Nitzan Horowitz, has since retired from parliamentary politics. Today, warnings of the increasing
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