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When the Detainee Is American . . .

By Robert C. Koehler The corpses pile up like sandbags along the planet’s geopolitical borders. “Perhaps his condition deteriorated and the authorities decided it was better to release him in a coma than as a corpse.” So said an expert on North Korea recently, quoted in the New York Times following the death of 22-year-old […]

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Uprooting the N-Word

By Robert C. Koehler The word, inappropriately uttered, has the news value of a bullet fired off at the mall. One word. It’s the ticking time bomb of American history. It pulsates with paradox. I want to take a moment to honor at least that: the paradox. How come its meaning changes depending on who […]

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A Dying Man’s Gift of Awareness

By Robert C. Koehler “Tell them, I want everybody to know, I want everybody on the train to know, I love them . . .” These words are also part of the geopolitics of murder — these words of light and hope, alive and pulsing amid the bullet casings, the blood and wreckage, the shattered […]

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Strip and Flip: Democracy in a Cage

By Robert C. Koehler The wound burst open in November. History, suddenly, could no longer be avoided. Reality could no longer be avoided. American democracy is flawed, polluted, gamed by the oligarchs. It always has been. But not until the election process whelped Donald Trump did it become so unbearably obvious. Welcome to The Strip […]

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Cancer with Political Clout

By Robert C. Koehler A suicide bomber inflicts hell at a concert hall in Manchester, England that’s full of children, as though that was the point — to murder children. The horror of war . . . well, terrorism . . . doesn’t get any worse. And the media, as they focus on the spectacle […]

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Hostage to the Rules of Espionage

By Robert C. Koehler “Trump emphasized the need to work together to end the conflict in Syria” . . . and “emphasized his desire to build a better relationship between the United States and Russia.” Welcome to the last paragraph of a Washington Post story the other day, a loose fragment of news, a homeless […]

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‘Classified’ America

By Robert C. Koehler For a journalist — especially one covering government and politics — the most suspicious, least trustworthy word in the language ought to be: “classified.” As the drama continues to swirl around Russiagate, or whatever the central controversy of the Trump administration winds up being known as, that word keeps popping up, […]

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Drumming for Planet Earth

By Robert C. Koehler At the climate rally in Chicago last week, people started drumming in the rain. Pardon me while I walk uncertain ground here, looking for clues and connections in a smattering of unlikely places. The world is in a fragile, dangerous place. We need to create peace, fairness and sustainability. We need […]

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A Public Plan for Peace

By Robert C. Koehler The American will to wage war — endless war, pointless war, total war — is, I fear, impervious to public opinion and even political action. It remains alive deep in the underground bunker of American militarism, protected from sanity. This goes beyond the staying power of our loser generals, who have […]

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Beyond Redemptive Violence

By Robert C. Koehler Sometimes our tame and compliant media upchucks a piece of truth. For instance: “American officials had predicted that the missile strike would result in a major shift in Assad’s calculus, but the U.S. attack appeared to be symbolic in reality. Within 24 hours of the strike, monitoring groups reported that warplanes […]

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