Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Low Profile: CNN and the New York Times Execute a Denial of History

"An existential question: If journalism is the first draft of history, then what is journalism that denies history? Is it still journalism?

"The question came to mind Friday night as CNN's Anderson Cooper led Americans through the initial moments following the execution of Saddam Hussein.

"Conveniently carried out just five minutes past the hour when "Anderson Cooper 360" goes on the air, the execution provided an opportunity for viewers to think about the long story of the Iraqi leader's brutal reign. Yet when it came to informing the audience about one key aspect of that history - the role of the United States in helping to create and maintain the "butcher of Baghdad" - CNN offered only amnesia.

"Throughout the CNN broadcast, as news gradually trickled in concerning the details of the execution, viewers were treated to a highly selective loop of stock images of the condemned: Saddam brandishing a tribal sword offered as a gift by one of his fawning subjects, Saddam firing a gun, Saddam laughing his cartoonish dictator laugh, Saddam defiantly reading a statement at the start of the U.S. invasion in 2003, Saddam smoking a cigar, Saddam being checked for lice by U.S. military doctors, Saddam wildly gesturing during his recent trial.

"And the photo of Saddam shaking hands with U.S. envoy Donald Rumsfeld back in December 1983? Absent. With the inevitable headline ("Death of a Dictator") already in place, the storyline was set. This was to be about Saddam facing "justice" for crimes that he alone committed. The U.S. presence in the story was to be, at most, a ghostly one limited to providing legal and moral guidance from behind the scenes. As if to confirm this paternalistic and self-serving fiction, CNN's Elaine Quijano dutifully reported from Waco that President Bush, not wanting to appear that he was "gloating" over the final humiliation of the Iraqi leader, was keeping a low profile.

From Electronic Iraq

P.S. I sent the link below to Neil MacFarquhar at the NYTimes, telling him it was more honest than his video "history" of Saddam. I got an out of office reply---Linda

Olmert and Abbas "Push the Wedge" in Palestine

"The recent "peace" overtures between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Abbas do not promise significantly improved conditions for Palestinians or an end to the Israeli occupation. More likely results include intensified efforts to split the Palestinian public and undermine their legally elected government.

"The meeting has been portrayed as an opening to relations between Israel and the PA that "boost Abbas" and exclude Hamas altogether. Olmert, Abbas, and their backers in Washington and Europe have insisted that Hamas, the popularly elected majority party, "renounce violence" and "recognize Israel's right to exist". These are the stated objectives of the crushing economic blockade that Israel and the western powers have enforced against occupied Palestine since last March.

"Objectively, neither demand has much substance. Hamas recently renounced violence by maintaining a unilateral ceasefire for well over a year. The same period saw a steady escalation of Israeli raids, arrests, killings, and settlements in the occupied territories. Everyone, including Israel's general staff, knows that Hamas would return to a ceasefire if it thought Israel were serious about reciprocating. Hamas leader-in-exile Khaled Meshaal's recent proposal for a 10-year ceasefire was summarily rebuffed.

"It is not Hamas that is launching most of the rockets into Israel these days, but the Al Aqsa Brigades attached to Mr. Abbas' Fateh Party, seconded by the Al Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad. And all the Israeli casualties and destruction caused by the last two years of Palestinian rockets would not equal the damage wrought in one average week of IDF operations in occupied Palestine.

From Electronic Intifada

Boxer Called to Heel--Complies with Alacrity

From a newspaper report cited on Stop Me Before I Vote Again

"Dec. 29, 2006 - In a highly unusual move, Sen. Barbara Boxer of California has rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in her home state because of the man’s connections to a major American Muslim organization that recently has been courted by leading political figures and even the FBI.

"Boxer’s office confirmed to NEWSWEEK that she has withdrawn a “certificate of accomplishment” to Sacramento activist Basim Elkarra after learning that he serves as an official with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). After directing her staff to look into CAIR, Boxer “expressed concern” about some past statements and actions by the group, as well as assertions by some law enforcement officials that it “gives aid to international terrorist groups,” according to Natalie Ravitz, the senator’s press spokeswoman.

"CAIR, which has 32 offices around the country and bills itself as the leading Muslim-American civil- rights group, has never been charged with any crimes, nor have any of its top leaders. But a handful of individuals who have had ties to CAIR in the past have been convicted or deported for financial dealings with Hamas—another reason cited by Boxer for her action....

"Ironically, just last month, Boxer had sent CAIR a letter in connection with its 10th anniversary fundraising dinner endorsing the group as a “constant support system for the American Muslim community” and praising it for its work on civil liberties. "As an advocate for justice and greater understanding, CAIR embodies what we should all strive to achieve," Boxer wrote in the Nov. 18 letter.

Guantánamo Bay Detainees Are Shackled Legally, Too

GUANTÁNAMO BAY, Cuba — At one end of a converted trailer in the U.S. military detention center at Guantánamo Bay, a graying Pakistani businessman sat shackled before a review board of uniformed officers, pleading for his freedom.

The prisoner had seen only a brief summary of what officials said was a thick dossier of intelligence linking him to al-Qaida. He had not seen his own legal papers since they were taken away in an unrelated investigation. He has lawyers working on his behalf in Washington, London and Pakistan, but at Guantánamo his only assistance came from an Army lieutenant colonel, who stumbled as he read the prisoner's handwritten statement.

As the hearing concluded, the detainee, who cannot be identified publicly under military rules, had one question. He is a citizen of Pakistan, he noted. He was arrested on a business trip to Thailand. On what authority or charges was he even being held?

"That question," a Marine colonel presiding over the panel answered, "is outside the limits of what this board is permitted to consider."

Under a law passed by Congress and signed by President Bush in October, this doublewide trailer may be as close to a courtroom as most Guantánamo prisoners ever get.

The law prohibits them from challenging their detention or treatment by writs of habeas corpus in the federal courts. Instead, they may only petition a single federal appeals court to examine whether the review boards followed the military's own procedures in reviewing their status as "enemy combatants."

But an examination of the Guantánamo review boards by The New York Times suggests they have often fallen short, as a source of due process for the hundreds of men held there and as a forum to resolve questions about what the detainees have done and the threats they may pose.

Saturday, December 30, 2006

Lawrence of Cyberia

Afghan girls walk past the graves of nine Afghan children killed by a strike from a U.S. warplane Saturday (6 Dec 2003) outside the village of Hutala. (AP/Aijaz Rahi via San Francisco Chronicle)

To see Lawrence of Cyberia's reminder about what's been happening around the world this year, go here:

Quote of the Week: 28.12.06

The idea that, under the pretext that a country is democratic, its citizens, after deliberating among themselves, have the right to bomb the citizens of another country, is an idea that is going to end up killing democracy. -- Emmanuel Todd: "Les Etats-Unis sont plus dangereux que l'Iran pour la paix"; Marianne, le 7/10/2006, pp. 24-25. (English translation).

Mandela Institute: Palestinians Taken to Israeli Prison Hospital Are Not Given Medical Treatment

"There are 28 Palestinian political prisoners in the Israeli Ramle Prison Hospital. But they are not receiving medical treatment. Thousands of Palestinians go without the basic necessities of health care in Israeli prisons, but it was largely unknown that those with critical enough cases to be taken to the hospital were not being treated either.

"A Mandela Institute lawyer, Buthaina Dukmak, visited with several of the political prisoners. She reports that 13 Palestinian political prisoners are in the Ramle Hospital suffering from paralysis or such severe disability that they cannot move without either human or wheelchair assistance.

"She said on Thursday that the public is being seriously misled. “The prison administration is putting these prisoners in the prison hospital to mislead public opinion with an act of deception to make it look as if there is the requisite health care. This is untrue. Despite ill health and poor conditions, the hospital administration procrastinates in meeting even their most basic health needs and nutritional requirements. But Israeli forces do not relent in conducting provocative searches of the ill prisoners.”

"Dukmak said that the Israeli prison administration has taken seven people to the hospital in the past 10 days who were shot by Israeli forces and badly in need of treatment. In addition to a lack of basic treatment, proper clothing is not even being provided. The disabled are suffering the most.

"The Mandela Institute findings include the case of political prisoner Mansour. He was arrested on 2 July 2002. Israeli soldiers had shot him in the stomach before his arrest and he was taken to the Ramle Prison Hospital and has become a permanent hospital prisoner. However, he has still not received treatment.

Executing Saddam Will Not Bring Peace to Iraq. That Can Only Come When US Forces Leave

"The imminent execution of Saddam Hussein is nothing but a smokescreen - a diversion in a series of diversions that will do nothing to address the price of the occupation of Iraq. If the Bush administration truly wanted to curb the cycle of bloodshed, it would come clean and share with the US public, the Iraqi people, and the international community the real goals of this disastrous neoconservative adventure.

"The invasion and occupation of Iraq was an act of US imperialism, marketed as a war of liberation. Iraq was chosen ahead of Iran or Syria because it had been weakened by 13 years of sanctions. It provided the opportunity to station US bases in the Middle East, and a vantage point to monitor Iran. Control of the massive oil reserves was not to be sniffed at, either. It was assumed that Iraqis' distaste for Saddam would somehow make occupation acceptable.

"It has, of course, proved to be anything but acceptable. It has proven unacceptable to the people of Iraq, the Middle East, and the world over. Today, a country is occupied and its sovereignty violated. The UN's legal and moral authority has been undermined. Iraq's cultural heritage is in tatters, its natural resources squandered, its infrastructure destroyed.

"Safety, security and the rule of law are nonexistent. Terrorism is on the rise. This is borne out even in Washington's own reports. More than 3 million Iraqis have fled their homes. More than 600,000 civilians have been killed.

"Officials of the former regime are judged and punished - sometimes with death sentences as in Saddam Hussein's case. Regardless of the nature of the crimes, it is only right that allegations should be tested by a properly constituted court of law that meets the basic requirements of justice, fairness and independence. These qualities could not be found in the court in Iraq, established by US viceroy Paul Bremer, who appointed its judges in direct contravention of international law.

By Burhan al-Chalabi in the Guardian via Empire Burlesque

Friday, December 29, 2006

There Is No God--Penn Jillette

"But, this "This I Believe" thing seems to demand something more personal, some leap of faith that helps one see life's big picture, some rules to live by. So, I'm saying, "This I believe: I believe there is no God."

"Having taken that step, it informs every moment of my life. I'm not greedy. I have love, blue skies, rainbows and Hallmark cards, and that has to be enough. It has to be enough, but it's everything in the world and everything in the world is plenty for me. It seems just rude to beg the invisible for more. Just the love of my family that raised me and the family I'm raising now is enough that I don't need heaven. I won the huge genetic lottery and I get joy every day.

"Believing there's no God means I can't really be forgiven except by kindness and faulty memories. That's good; it makes me want to be more thoughtful. I have to try to treat people right the first time around.

A Family in Baghdad: Update for December

"Saturday, December 23rd, 2006
"Peace be upon you…

"I see that the present year is about to bid us goodbye, to leave...

"In a few days, the Christmas holidays of the Christians will be on, and shortly after, Al-Adha Feast will arrive; the big feast of the Muslims.
The Iraqis no longer know the taste of these feasts, and what it tastes like to live in a city basking in peace and calm!

"Iraq is burning with the fire of a stupid war, which left no house there unharmed, one way or another…

"For the Iraqi families either lost some of its members by death, detention, kidnapping, or assassination, or the family run away leaving its house, neighbors, and memories, or else lost its livelihood method, and its financial conditions deteriorated from bad to worst…

"And we are all being patient; each of us is patiently waiting for this fire to die down, for things to be fixed well, and the wheels of life to resume turning in a normal way; security, stability, jobs, schools and universities, students- boys and girls, and mothers and fathers and children living in houses that has water and electricity, who go out to markets, to clean, quiet streets, full of cars, and traffic lights that actually work…. These are the features of cities living normal lives…

"But in Iraq, these features vanished little by little….

"When will life there go back to its normal image?

"Nobody knows…

"Not even Bush, the hero, or his comrades who planned and waged the war upon us, not even they know when or how to get out of this impasse…

God only knows….

A Palestinian View of Jimmy Carter's Book--Ali Abunimah

President Carter has done what few American politicians have dared to do: speak frankly about the Israel-Palestine conflict. He has done this nation, and the cause of peace, an enormous service by focusing attention on what he calls "the abominable oppression and persecution in the occupied Palestinian territories, with a rigid system of required passes and strict segregation between Palestine's citizens and Jewish settlers in the West Bank."

The 39th president of the United States, the most successful Arab-Israeli peace negotiator to date, has braved a storm of criticism, including the insinuation from the pro-Israel Anti-Defamation League that his arguments are anti-Semitic.

Mr. Carter has tried to mollify critics by suggesting that his is not a commentary on Israeli policy inside Israel's own borders, as compared with the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem -- territories Israel occupied in 1967. He told NPR, "I know that Israel is a wonderful democracy with equal treatment of all citizens whether Arab or Jew. And so I very carefully avoided talking about anything inside Israel."

Given the pressure he has faced, it may be understandable that Mr. Carter says this, but he is wrong. In addition to nearly four million Palestinians living under Israeli rule in the occupied territories, another one million live inside Israel's pre-1967 borders. These Palestinians are descendants of those who were not forced out or did not flee when Israel was created in 1948.

They have nominal Israeli citizenship, and unlike blacks in apartheid South Africa, they do vote for the country's parliament. Yet this is where any sense of equality ends. In Israel's history, no Arab-led party has ever been asked to join a coalition government. And, among scores of Jewish ministers, there has only ever been one Arab minister, of junior rank.

From Electronic Intifada

Israelis Killed 660 Palestinians in 2006

"According to an annual B'Tselem report, from the beginning of 2006 to December 27, Israeli security forces have killed 660 Palestinians, a figure more than three times the number of Palestinians killed in 2005, which was 197.

"The data compiled by the human rights organization also indicated a significant decrease in Israeli casualties. Palestinians killed 23 Israelis in 2006 - 17 civilians, among them one minor, and six Israel Defense Forces soldiers. The figure constitutes less than half of the 50 Israelis killed in 2005.

"B'Tselem also listed the overall figures for casualties since the beginning of the intifada, with Palestinian casualties at 4005 and Israeli casualties at 1017, 701 of which were civilians.

Haaretz via Voices of Palestine

Saddam's Hanging Verdict Is Illegal and Unjust--Allen Roland

December 28, 2006

" Let no man think we can deny civil liberty to others and retain it for ourselves. When zealous agents of the Government arrest suspected "radicals" without warrant, hold them without prompt trial, deny them access to counsel and admission of bail....we have shorn the Bill of Rights of its sanctity..." -- Robert M. Lafollette, Sr. (1855-1925) U.S. Senator - Source: The Progressive, March 1920
"Am I the only online columnist who recognizes the truth of what Human Rights Watch said yesterday ~

" The Iraqi government should not implement the death sentence against Saddam Hussein, which was imposed after a deeply flawed trial for crimes against humanity."

"How can we deny civil liberty to others and retain it for ourselves ?

"Has our light of liberty and justice gone completely out ?

"Have we forgotten the words of Carl Sandburg ?

" For we know when a nation goes down and never comes back, when a society or civilization perishes, one condition may always be found ~ they forgot where they came from. They lost sight of what brought them along."

Are we now going to compound our illegal preemptive attack and occupation of Iraq, where we set up and implemented a U.S. controlled coalition government, where we stage managed a flawed election and judicial system and where we now have condoned the hanging of this sovereign country's leader after a mock U.S. managed monkey trial ?

"All of this so that George W Bush, in an act of institutionalized revenge, can claim a pyrrhic victory while Baghdad roils in a brutal civil war ~ which he instigated.

Found on

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Israel, US & Egypt Arm Fatah

From Lenin's Tomb--scroll down to the title above. This is the first commentary I've seen on the extraordinary report cited by Lenin from the NYTimes.

"This Western campaign of civil war and sanctions won't finish Palestine, but this is certainly the beginning of the end for Fatah unless there is mutiny from within. One can well imagine that the New York Times reporter sincerely believes this to be an act of generosity to an embattled 'moderate' Palestinian leadership, but the reaction of Fatah supporters suggests they know it's more like the kiss of Tosca. Every gesture of Fatah's disgraceful leader, Mahmoud Abbas, has been sanctimoniously praised by Blair, Bush and Olmert. Of course, it isn't impossible that they could terrorise and immiserate the Palestinians so completely that they finally obey and select the leadership endorsed by Washington. Terror and bribery was a mixture that worked very well in Nicaragua. But it's hard to top a weekly record like this, and the Palestinians have not yet been broken.

No One Can Heal the Memories of the 48 Days I Spent in that Prison

"I am sure they knew I was not an insurgent, but the real reason for arresting me was that I'm from a tribe which is against local militias, and I was one of the dozens of men arrested as revenge on our tribe.

"When I reached the prison I knew that if someone didn't help me, I would die because I would not be able to survive being tortured.

"The day I arrived at the prison they [police officers] took me away for interrogation. I have never felt as humiliated in my life as I did on that day.

"The police officers stripped me naked and started to shout at me; they hit me on the face and kicked me in the stomach with their boots. Later they started to put out their cigarettes on my body, especially on my arms and legs.

"They then forgot all about me for two days, leaving me in a cell with 15 other prisoners. We had to take turns to sleep on the bare floor because the space was too small for everybody to lie down at the same time.

"After two days, I was again called for interrogation. That was the most terrible day of all my 48 days in prison. In addition to beating me, two officers tried to rape me, and when I resisted they started to use an electrical device until I lost consciousness.

"Everyday they told me that if I didn't identify the people who were against the militia groups in Basra, they were going to hang me or shoot me with all the bullets they had.

"I was so scared, especially as two other men who'd also been threatened with death, failed to return to the cell after interrogation. That time I was sure that my last day in this world was near.

Stress of Violence Leads to Suicides in Iraq

"This week I had two cases of suicide. One person committed suicide because of the daily threats to his life which he had been receiving, and the other one because her husband had been killed and she became so desperate that she killed herself too," Hamza added.

Based on statistics from the Baghdad mortuary and hospitals in five regions, the Ministry of Health said that about 20 people have been committing suicide each month since January. Thirty others attempted suicide but were saved.

"The numbers are high when compared to those during Saddam Hussein's regime when we used to have one or two suicide cases a month," said Ahmed Fatah, a member of the suicide investigation department at the Ministry of Health.

According to the Ministry of Health, the country's continuing violence has had more psychological effect on the less privileged segment of society - those with little education or who are poor. "They are at their wits' end in dealing with threats or the pressure of violence. They do not have the wherewithal to protect themselves from violence and for economic reasons they cannot leave the country," a Ministry of Health official said on condition of anonymity.

"Today it is the adults who are committing suicide but it will not be long before children too start taking their own lives," said Fatah.

Found on

The Evil of Collaboration

Collaboration in a certain context epitomizes progressivism: people working together for the greater good. Collaboration, however, also has a dark side that is anathema to progressivist tenets: working against one's own society. In other words: treason and sedition.

In western society, those collaborating with the enemy were condemned as traitors. In Europe, the surname of Vitus Quisling, a Norwegian who collaborated with the Nazi occupation of Norway has come to mean "traitor" in much the same way as dual loyalist Benedict Arnold's name means "traitor" in American society.

There are two major contenders in the Middle East for eponymous recognition as traitors: Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, and Palestine's president, Mahmoud Abbas, are willing to sell out their kinsfolk to Zionists and imperialists.

Found on

Gerald Goddamned Ford--Paul Constant in The Stranger

"Here is Gerald Goddamned Ford’s legacy, as Mark Updegrove’s trifle of a book Second Acts: Presidential Lives and Legacies After the White House documents: Ford was the first post-president to cash in on his celebrity. Soon after he was defeated by Jimmy Carter in 1976, Ford was making a million dollars a year in endorsements and speeches and honorary titles. He even appeared on Dynasty, for fuck’s sake. Ford once said, “I think it’s progress that the presidency has been humanized,” and it’s telling of his evil heart that to humanize the presidency meant to squeeze every single penny that he could out of the office to which he was never elected before finally succumbing to pneumonia and heart failure and practically every single ailment that God could muster.

"Still, today the newspapers coo over how Gerald Goddamned Ford saved America from the “long national nightmare” of Watergate, many of them using Ted Goddamned Kennedy’s regrettable 2001 quote, from when Gerald Ford won a John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

“Time has a way of clarifying past events,” Teddy said, “and now we see that President Ford was right.”

"This, of course, is bullshit. What Gerald Ford saved us from was a nation where Richard Nixon went to jail or committed suicide, a nation where politicians would have to face real legal consequences for their actions, a nation where politicians are responsible for the people under them, and to the people who voted for them. What Gerald Goddamned Ford gave to America is the wave of cynicism that has dominated politics and ensured wave after wave of ever-worsening Republican presidents, preying on our basest fears.

"Our long national nightmare didn’t end with Ford. It began with him. [Emphasis mine.]

Palestinian Immigrant Jailings in Texas--Gregg Moses

"Ibrahim says he was with his brother some 18 months ago when an immigration lawyer called to apologize for missing a filing deadline regarding the family's asylum. And he says a ruling on the case is still pending.

"The brother, Salaheddin Ibrahim, was separated from his family, and is being held at another jail.

"Ahmad Ibrahim says his 5-year-old niece shares her cell with her pregnant mother, Hanan Ahmad, while the 7- and 12-year-old girls share a cell with each other. The 15-year-old boy is in a third cell. All of them are incarcerated at the T. Don Hutto jail in Taylor, Texas.

"Ibrahim says the 5-year-old gets into trouble with guards during population counts that are taken four times daily. She is supposed to sit still for the counts, but she doesn't.

"She is a very active child," explains Ibrahim. He says reprimands from the guards sometimes bring the little girl to tears.

"One chilly morning, says Ibrahim, the girl wrapped a blanket around her as she walked out of her cell, but a guard told her that the blanket didn't belong to her.

"It's my blanket!" answered the little girl.

"The 7-year-old has also been upset to the point of tears, because she cannot sleep in the same cell with her mother. At 10:00 p.m. the 7-year-old is ordered to the cell she shares with her 12-year-old sister.

"Showers for the women are provided every morning at 5:30, but at least on one occasion, says Ibrahim, the pregnant mother was feeling sick and tired, so she asked not to go. A guard reportedly threatened the mother with disciplinary action that would include separating her from the 5-year-old, so the mother took the shower as ordered.

Found on

The Temples of the Occupation--Benvenisti in Haaretz

"The disdain for the Palestinians and the arrogant use of a mentality of submissiveness is reflected not only by the roadblocks themselves but by the checking procedures, which are conducted without any sensitivity to the dignity and needs of the Palestinians, who are expected to wait in line in silence or else be "punished." Colonial regimes have always been based on the arrogance of a small number of soldiers who controlled the lives of million of natives with minimal force, and a dependence on deterrence, which guaranteed the inferior status of those subject to their authority.

"The Israelis have improved on the colonial system: Instead of the occupying powers dictating the lives of the natives on a daily basis in their towns and their villages, they for ce an indirect regime of imprisonment on the natives, fencing them off and interfering in their daily routines. Here, the ruler does not encroach on their space, but they are forced to plead with him in the temples of the occupation, the roadblocks; and as long as they surrender to the rules imposed on them, the occupier knows his status is secure.

Forward from Voices of Palestine

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Rumsfeld and the American Way of War

"The fact is that the immense and costly American military today bears no relationship to politics and reality. It accounts for nearly half of the world's military expenditures but it cannot win its two wars against the most primitive enemies, enemies who exist in multiple factions who often fight each other more than Americans and who could not care less what Washington spends on weaponry and manpower. But America's leaders have always assumed convenient enemies who calculate the way the U.S. wants them to. More important, politics was never complicated; it existed as an afterthought and never interfered with fighting and winning wars the American way. But the Soviet Union and Communism no longer exist, and absolutely nothing has changed in America's behavior and thinking. The Pentagon is superb at spending money but its way of warfare in now in a profound and perhaps terminal crisis. It has lost all its wars against persistent guerillas armed with cheap, light weapons that decentralize and hide.

"The military system that Rumsfeld and his precursors created is increasingly dysfunctional and meant only to suit the expensive demands and pretensions of the powerful companies in the military-industrial complex. The emphasis on expensive weaponry is good for the American economy; successful counterinsurgency war costs too little to maintain full employment. It bears scant relationship to the political problems that the U.S. has confronted for decades – and more now than ever.

"America's weapons are made to fight state-centric wars and destroy concentrated targets – they were designed originally for the USSR and its Warsaw bloc allies, and for European conditions. China compelled some minor modifications in this strategy. Even ignoring that nuclear deterrence made this emphasis irrelevant, or that the Korean and Vietnam wars proved it was destined to fail, it took (and still takes) 15 to 20 years to develop and produce this equipment. But Communism has disappeared in Europe and in all but name in China. The budgeting cycle, which keeps the economy of the U.S. buoyant and is deftly spread to numerous Congressional districts, bears no relation to American foreign policy, which makes former friends foes, ex-foes allies and members of NATO, and changes every few years like a kaleidoscope. As a very recent study for the U.S. Army Strategic Studies Institute concludes, "the United States [is] prepared to fight the most dangerous but least likely threats and unprepared to fight the least dangerous but most likely threats." The American way of war is technology intensive, firepower focused, logistically superior but politically and culturally ignorant to the point of being pathetic.

"Rumsfeld did not initiate this myopia, which has been inherent in the U.S.' foreign and military policies after 1947 regardless of whether Democrats or Republicans were in power. He only attempted to apply it to Afghan and Iraqi conditions, to sand and heat, to profoundly divided places, and he only continued the legacy of failures that began long ago.

"Hence defeat.

From Lew via

Why Hope? Mark Schneider Tells Us

"In Palestine and Iraq the vast majority of people simply resist by simply surviving, a fundamental and hopeful act. For Palestinians, the Zionists of Israel simply want to make life unbearable enough for the Palestinian people to simply leave and never be allowed to return, one of the final acts of colonialism. Yet, look at the people of Gaza, who live in prison, regularly bombed and invaded by the Israeli military, and yet, they survive, often barely, but they're surviving, still having weddings, births, funerals, eating, farming, teaching and keeping on.

"For the people of Iraq, the U.S. simply doesn't care about them, nor does the U.S. want to steal their land; the U.S. simply wants to control the oil and be a military buffer against nationalism & pan-arabism, and, ultimately China. Yet, the struggle to just live and survive has not been decimated, and for that we can be hopeful.

"How about all the Palestinian villages who have led the most inspiring nonviolent direct action campaigns to stop Israel's apartheid wall and the seizure of their pastoral land? You'd think the white liberal Left in the U.S. would be all over this incredible David & Goliath struggle, lending money and bodies to the courageous Palestinians defending their land. Villages like Bil'in offer examples for all us in the face of adversity.

Found on

Monday, December 25, 2006

Millions for People Who Don't Need It; Cuts for People Who Do

It is my duty to inform you: capitalism isn't working. The NYTimes puts a story on their front page for the second week running, trumpeting the excesses of year-end bonuses on Wall Street. Let it never be said they didn't tell you.

"Miller Motorcars, in Greenwich, Conn., is fielding more requests for the $250,000 Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano than it can possibly fill. One real estate broker laments a dearth of listings for two clients trying to spend $20 million on Manhattan properties. Financiers already comfortably settled in multimillion-dollar apartments and town houses are buying $5 million apartments for their children. Vacation homes, usually bought and sold in the spring, are now hot this winter, including ones in private resorts like the Yellowstone Club in Montana near Yellowstone National Park.

The PI also does its duty: there are homeless people who can't get a shower or a roof over their head because the city is trying to force "responsibility" on them--it's their fault they can't find a job and are therefore starving or stinking. Why aren't they "responsible" like the Wall Street bankers?

"Last year, her city-funded agency provided emergency housing for more than 500 households, with most clients spending two to three weeks with caseworkers.

"We had to move people out pretty rapidly," Warner said. "But a lot of people just cycled back into homelessness."

Next year, Family Services estimates it will serve only 160 households. But clients will spend much more time with workers -- about three months -- and receive a range of help, from finding work and housing to confronting domestic violence and other problems.

"This is a real sea change for us," Warner said. Since April, her agency has found housing for 60 clients, which she embraced. But there was a constant downside: lack of space for more.

"You're just heartbroken when you have to turn people away," she said. "That never changes."

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Israeli Lobby Tries to "Get Carter"--Chris Hedges

"The bleakness of life for Palestinians, especially in the Gaza Strip, is a mystery only to us. In the current Israeli campaign in Gaza, now sealed off from the outside world, almost 500 Palestinians, most unarmed, have been killed. Sanctions, demanded by Israel and imposed by the international community after the Hamas victory last January in what were universally acknowledged to be free and fair elections, have led to the collapse of civil society in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as widespread malnutrition. And Palestinians in the West Bank are being encased, in open violation of international law, in a series of podlike militarized ghettos with Israel's massive $2 billion project to build a "security barrier." This barrier will gobble up at least 10 percent of the West Bank, including most of the precious aquifers and at least 40,000 acres of Palestinian farmland. The project is being financed in large part through $9 billion in American loan guarantees, although when Congress approved the legislation in April 2003, Israel was told that the loans could be used "only to support activities in the geographic areas which were subject to the administration of the Government of Israel prior to June 5, 1967." But it is in Gaza that conditions are currently reaching a full-blown humanitarian crisis. "Gaza is in its worst condition ever," Gideon Levy wrote recently in the Israeli paper Ha'aretz. "The Israel Defense Forces have been rampaging through Gaza--there's no other word to describe it--killing and demolishing, bombing and shelling, indiscriminately.... How contemptible all the sublime and nonsensical talk about 'the end of the occupation' and 'partitioning the land' now appears. Gaza is occupied, and with greater brutality than before.... This is disgraceful and shocking collective punishment."

"And as Gaza descends into civil war, with Hamas and Fatah factions carrying out gun battles in the streets, Ha'aretz reporter Amira Hass bitterly notes, "The experiment was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other. They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called 'what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens.'"

"In fact, if there is a failing in Carter's stance, it is that he is too kind to the Israelis, bending over backward to assert that he is only writing about the occupied territories. Israel itself, he says, is a democracy. This would come as a surprise to the 1.3 million Israeli Arabs who live as second-class citizens in the Jewish state. The poverty rate among Israeli Arabs is more than twice that of the Jewish population. Those Israeli Arabs who marry Palestinians from Gaza or the West Bank are not permitted to get Israeli residency for their spouses. And Israeli Arabs, who do not serve in the military or the country's intelligence services and thus lack the important personal connections and job networks available to veterans, are systematically shut out of good jobs. Any Jew, who may speak no Hebrew or ever been to Israel, can step off a plane and become an Israeli citizen, while a Palestinian living abroad whose family's roots in Palestine may go back generations is denied citizenship.

"The Israel lobby in the United States does not serve Israel or the Jewish community--it serves the interests of the Israeli extreme right wing. Most Israelis have come to understand that peace will be possible only when their country complies with international law and permits Palestinians to build a viable and sustainable state based on the 1967 borders, including, in some configuration, East Jerusalem.

Chris Hedges on Common

Religion Does More Harm than Good - poll

More people in Britain think religion causes harm than believe it does good, according to a Guardian/ICM poll published today. It shows that an overwhelming majority see religion as a cause of division and tension - greatly outnumbering the smaller majority who also believe that it can be a force for good.

The poll also reveals that non-believers outnumber believers in Britain by almost two to one. It paints a picture of a sceptical nation with massive doubts about the effect religion has on society: 82% of those questioned say they see religion as a cause of division and tension between people. Only 16% disagree. The findings are at odds with attempts by some religious leaders to define the country as one made up of many faith communities.

Found on What Really Happened. com

Al-Qaeda Offers US Troops Safe Passage Out of Iraq

"THE head of an al-Qaeda-dominated group in Iraq offered to give US troops a month to pull out free of attack in an audiotape posted on the internet overnight and demanded an answer within two weeks.

"Abu Omar al-Baghdadi also charged that Washington had attempted to open communications through Saudi intermediaries but said he had rebuffed the overture, in the voice recording whose authenticity could not immediately be verified.

"We are offering you the opportunity to withdraw your troops in complete safety and we are expecting your response within two weeks,'' said the voice purporting to be that of Baghdadi, leader of a self-proclaimed Islamic emirate in western and north-central Iraq that is dominated by al-Qaeda supporters.

"We appeal to President George W. Bush to seize this historic opportunity which should allow your troops to pull out in safety,'' it said.

Bush has faced intense political pressure to overhaul his Iraq policy, following the rout of his Republican party in mid-term elections, rock-bottom approval of his management of the Iraq war and mounting US combat deaths.

A policy review by the Iraq Study Group, a bi-partisan panel, recommended that all frontline US troops be withdrawn by early 2008.

Found on

From DVDs to IEDs--Best Buy Allows Marine Recruiters in their Store?

"The teen and I are doing our seasonal, consumerist duty at Best Buy, when to our right, in the DVD section, stand two tall Marines over a smaller teen boy. Back and forth, a well-rehearsed duo, the queries fly -- How old are you? What are your plans after high school? What do you want out of life? Do you want to be successful and respected?

"The kid is pretty relaxed. Short, spiky jet black hair. Large silver earring in his right lobe. He keeps browsing the comedies as the Marines make their pitch: The USMC can pay for half of his college tuition; plus, if he enlists now, there may be a large signing bonus. The kid says that he doesn't want to go to Iraq. The Marines tell him that he probably won't go there. The kid smiles, shakes his head, and gently but adamantly says he's not interested. The Marines retreat, split up, and hunt for more possible fodder perusing CDs and cell phones.

"Couldn't help overhear," I say to the kid. "Nice job. You handled that well."

"Thanks." He pauses. "A buddy of mine joined the Marines. I thought about it, but I don't want to go to Iraq."

"And that's where you'd go. Those guys were lying. They want more troops over there."

"I know."

"Well, anyway. Take it easy. Have a nice Christmas."

"You too."

"He checks out the teen in an approving way, then heads to the registers, DVDs in hand.

"Later, at home, this little scene keeps bugging me. Did the Marines simply enter Best Buy and start hitting on teens without any clearance from the store? Or is Best Buy signed up for the war effort, offering its young customers to the military? I phone the store, and after pushing 28 numbers, finally get a human voice, a woman who works in the TV section.

"Hi. Got a question about in-store solicitation."

"Yes, sir?"

"I was in your store earlier, spending money, and I noticed two Marine recruiters trying to get your teen customers to enlist. What is Best Buy's policy on that?"

"I don't know if we have a policy on that."

"You mean, if I came into your store with a box full of bibles and started selling them to your customers, you wouldn't do anything?"

"Well, sir, we have a strict policy against outside solicitation."

"But aren't the Marines selling something?"

"I don't understand."

"Those Marines were selling the Iraq war."

"Were they?"

"They need bodies to send to the Middle East. Is it Best Buy's policy to provide these bodies?"

"I think, sir, that those Marines were selling service to our country."

"Which means sending kids to Iraq."

"I suppose it does."

From RedStateSon blog via marxmail

Did American Fire on Iraqis for Sport--MSNBC

WASHINGTON - Shane Schmidt was a U.S. Marine for seven years, the leader of a sniper unit. Chuck Shepard spent seven years in the U.S. Army. After leaving the military, each found his way into the legions of heavily armed private security contractors working in Iraq.

The two were working together on July 8, 2006, when they claim they witnessed what they believe was a crime. They say another American fired, unprovoked, into two Iraqi civilian vehicles. They say it started during a mission to Baghdad International Airport, when their supervisor, who was leaving Iraq the next day and was in the vehicle with them, made a troubling remark.

"He'd made a comment that he was going to kill somebody today," says Schmidt. "Kill someone."

Found on Information Clearinghouse

Friday, December 22, 2006

Gov. Gregoire Defangs Oil Spill Advisory Council

This week Gregoire told the chairman of the Oil Spill Advisory Council, which is less than 1 1/2 years old, that she is proposing legislation to move the council under the Ecology Department. Environmentalists call the agency overly deferential to the oil industry.

The council, by contrast, backed stationing a rescue tug at Neah Bay year-round and better protecting sensitive spots such as the San Juan Islands. It called for doubling the state's spill-prevention efforts -- and paying for it by boosting oil and gasoline taxes by 0.000392 percent, or less than three-hundredths of a penny per gallon.

Gregoire's idea "defangs" the new council, said Rep. Dave Upthegrove, D-Des Moines, chairman of the House Select Committee on Puget Sound.

"That's taking the teeth out," Upthegrove said. "These are the citizens who had the courage to take on Big Oil."

The oil industry dissented from the Washington council's first major set of recommendations -- which would cost the industry some $9 million annually. The governor's idea tracks with what industry representatives requested.

Gregoire's position also flies in the face of the group she appointed to map out a Puget Sound rescue plan, the Puget Sound Partnership, which endorsed the oil council's key recommendations.

Lawrence of Cyberia

Two provocative pictures from the Lawrence of Cyberia Website:

A Family in Baghdad: Blogger in Iraq Talks About Int'l Study Group Report

What the report didn't say was: that the international community and the international organizations had a very negative and frustrating role, as they didn't give the Iraqis any role inside or outside of Iraq; they evaded the responsibility completely, leaving the Iraqis like orphans in the wind.

The report also put the responsibility of all the errors on the stupid Iraqi government, of course that was right, but that made the occupation forces free from any responsibility. It always gave them the role of the nice cutes, seeking the deliverance of the Iraqi people, but no one is helping them.

Oh, yah?

Well, the simplest proof would be the testimony I put on my blog, from one of the people who were arrested in the Iraqi Ministry of Interior, in Al-Jaderria cellar, look how was the role of the occupation forces? They watched the human rights violations silently, then withdrew from the direct interrogations with the poor detainees, but were in agreement with what was going on in front of them.

Let an Iraqi kill an Iraqi… this is their program, as it seems, and what was achieved by the criminal militias also pours down into the interest of that motto, too…
Let an Iraqi kill an Iraqi…

Who blames the Iraqis if they hated the occupation and whoever collaborated with it?
Innocent people taken from their houses to be insulted, detained, and tortured, to have their nails ripped off, and to be hanged from the ceiling, the human's dignity in them is insulted, then, to be released after months or years, as there is no charge against them, their innocence is proved, simply, just like that?

Are these the interrogation methods in the happy, free, democratic Iraq?

They made us sick with as much they talked about human rights. May the liar be damned, where are those human rights?

The report didn't talk about the raids and shelling of people's houses in Iraqi towns and villages, just for suspicion, perhaps there is an Iraqi citizen whose personality is mean and lowly, who is seduced by money to present a false report against his neighbor, accusing him of being a member of the resistance, or of being a terrorist, would that be enough to bombard the whole house?

It didn't mention the thousands of innocent men locked up in American prisons; the Airport prison, Poka, and others. Nor did it mention the tens (or hundreds, no one really knows), of women who are taken as hostages when they cannot find their men who would be accused of struggling against the occupation, these women are in prisons and detention centers… there are also children there, who could be taken as hostages to pressure their fathers…

Iraq has not only become the land of violence and bloodshed, but injustice in it became limitless, greater than the injustice that was committed by Saddam Hussein in his time, and enough to mention is the subject of threatening families and getting them out of their homes in this cold weather, for sectarian reasons, to end up living on the streets, without any committed fault.
That alone is unspeakable injustice…

Pacific Northwest Native people — A Brief History

To read the actual report referred to here, click on the link in the first paragraph below:

Native American Indians in the Pacific Northwest are engaged in a struggle for their human, economic and civil rights that takes many forms. Every four years, for example, there are “paddles” in which tribes travel long distances in their dugouts for big, festive gatherings with much singing, dancing, story telling and feasting reminiscent of “potlatches” of centuries past.

Two summers ago, the Lower Elwha band of S’Klallams staged “Paddle to Elwha” in part to protest the desecration of their tribal burial site at the base of the Ediz Hook spit in Washington. This past summer, the tribe won a major victory when Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire signed an agreement with tribal Chairwoman Frances Charles on the disposition of the burial ground, which was badly damaged during excavation to build a giant facility for construction of bridge pontoons.

The heightened political activism dates back to the role of the tribes in defeating Washington state’s reactionary and virulently racist Republican Sen. Slade Gorton in 2002. Indians throughout Washington delivered a powerful vote for Democrat Maria Cantwell in that election, providing her razor-thin margin of victory over Gorton.

This report by Elizabeth Yates from Seattle offers valuable background on the history of similar struggles by the Nisqually, Muckleshoot and Puyallup tribes in the Puget Sound region.

Tim Wheeler

Why Do Some People Consider Israel to Practice Apartheid?

2. Why do some people consider Israel to practice apartheid?

Israel and South Africa are different in many ways. There is ample evidence, however, that Israeli policies meet the broader definition of apartheid by separating and discriminating against Palestinian Arabs, through systems that are institutionalized by laws and decrees. Some of these policies bear resemblance to South Africa during its apartheid era.

Since its inception, Israel has striven to establish and maintain a strong Jewish majority within the state, treating the ratio of Jews to non-Jews as a national security issue. Israel’s recently-appointed Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Strategic Threats, Avigdor Lieberman, considers the Palestinian citizens of Israel to be a great “demographic threat” facing Israel.

Over the years, Lieberman has advocated ridding Israel of its indigenous Palestinian inhabitants. He said in a November 5th 2006 interview with the Sunday Telegraph that Palestinian citizens of Israel, who comprise roughly 20 percent of Israel’s population, were a "problem" that requires "separation" from the state. He added, "We established Israel as a Jewish country. I want to provide an Israel that is a Jewish, Zionist country. It's about what kind of country we want to see in the future. Either it will be an [ethnically mixed] country like any other, or it will continue as a Jewish country."

Many Israeli policies -- from the expulsion of 750,000 Palestinian Christians and Muslims in Israel’s founding years and the denial of their internationally-recognized rights to return to their homes, to the route of Israel’s current “security barrier” -- are designed to preserve Jewish demographic predominance.

This has led to discriminatory policies against all major categories of Palestinians either living under or affected by Israeli rule, including Palestinian refugees in exile.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

True Solidarity in a Cold World--A Black Agenda Report on Hugo Chavez

What is the nature of Solidarity?”

"We must be serious about the nature of solidarity – who is deserving of ours, and what that means in terms of African American domestic political behavior. Rep. Charles Rangel presented a terrible example of egregious contempt for Chavez’s outstretched hand of political and material solidarity. Others, including folks on the Left, offer a bleached-out geopolitical-economic paradigm that rejects the international realities of race and history, thus consigning African Americans to the status of spectators or “yes” men for the foreign policies of Republican or Democratic U.S. administrations.

"What is the nature of Solidarity? Obviously, it is a quality of which US-based multinational corporations are totally lacking, as they export millions of jobs while importing lower wage and living standards. In late 2005, thirteen U.S. Senators appealed to every major U.S. oil company to offer heating fuel discounts to the poor. Only Citgo – the Houston-based, Venezuelan government owned firm – responded positively.

"The U.S. corporate media, a group of interlocking cogs in a global corporate machine, claims Chavez and Citgo are out to “embarrass” President Bush – as if the White House can’t make itself look uncaring and inhumane on its own. Despite effective censorship, millions of African Americans know that Hugo Chavez was among the first foreign leaders to offer assistance to the Katrina-ravaged Gulf states – much of which was snarlingly refused by the Bush men. The Venezuelan pledge of people-to-people friendship and true solidarity is still extended. Mature African Americans and progressives should accept these overtures at face value, “From The Venezuelan Heart to U.S. Hearths,” as Citgo says.

"The world requires internal U.S. opposition to both War Parties if it is to survive. However, Hugo Chavez needs none of our assistance to keep getting elected at home. With more than 60 percent of the vote, Chavez addressed a huge crowd of supporters early this month:

"It's another defeat for the devil, who tries to dominate the world. Down with imperialism! We need a new world!"

BAR Executive Editor Glen Ford can be reached at

Found on

Detained Father of Girl Shot Dead by IDF Blocked from Her Funeral

Detained father of girl shot dead by IDF blocked from her funeral
By Avi Issacharoff, Haaretz Correspondent

The father of a 14-year-old girl shot dead by Israel Defense Forces soldiers near Tul Karm on Tuesday was not allowed to attend his daughter's funeral on Wednesday.

Nasser Abd al-Qadr is under arrest for entering Israel illegally and is being held in the Abu Kabir lock-up.

His attorney, Rami Otman, requested that the district court allow al-Qadr to attend the funeral, but by the time the court submitted its verdict, the funeral had already started.

Found on Angry Arab Newservice

There's Nothing Better than Capitalism--Don't Even Think About It

Capitalism: this guy in the NYTimes admits it [using this bonus system as an example] isn't "fair in any moral sense," yet he discounts the idea that there is any better economic system on the face of the earth. There never will be when people like him can justify things like $50 million dollar bonuses while there are people who are starving because they can't find a job.--Linda

"EVEN those accustomed to Wall Street’s otherworldly pay scales gasped last week when Goldman Sachs’s 2006 compensation numbers were released: $16.5 billion, up 40 percent in a year, some $623,000 per employee. The news triggered shock and envy: Oh, my God. That’s obscene! Boy, do I wish I worked for Goldman Sachs.

"Pundits asked how such numbers could be justified, whether Goldman’s employees were that much more talented than the rest of Wall Street, whether Goldman’s shareholders were getting mugged. About the only people who had nothing to say were Goldman’s understandably discreet employees. What were they thinking?

"Having once been on the receiving end of the Wall Street bonus system, I can guess: Some Goldman employees probably felt ecstatic; some fairly paid; and some shafted. (It is ever thus.) For example, word has it that some secretaries fumed about making a total of only $120,000 while their bosses made millions — until gently reminded that $120,000 is great secretary pay. Most Goldman employees probably have a sense of how lucky they are compared to those outside 85 Broad Street. Few probably suffer from the delusion that the bonuses are “fair” in any moral sense: Even with frequent all-nighters, Goldman workers probably earned the best hourly wages in the world (an average of about $200 per hour, assuming a 60-hour week; the firm’s top traders, meanwhile, reportedly made $17,000 to $33,000 an hour.) In a country where some people are starving and others are furiously debating a $1 increase in the minimum wage, such bonanzas provide a startling reminder of the inequities of our free-market economy.

The article ends this way:

Capitalism can’t solve all economic problems, as the homeless people poking through trash cans outside 85 Broad Street can surely attest. In fact, to adapt an old adage, capitalism is surely the worst economic system on the planet except for all the others. What capitalism is great at, however, is encouraging successful risk-taking, and this keeps our economy healthy and vibrant. Capitalism is also great at generating immense tax revenue (Goldman’s employees will pump almost as much into city, state and government coffers this year as they take home — some consolation for those who won’t be getting $623,000 checks in their stockings.)

In any case, to see the embodiment of our economic system in action — for better and worse — one need look no farther than Broad Street.

Dave Lindorff: Sell-Out Democrats Have Walked Into a Trap

12/20/06 "Information Clearing House" --- - The Democratic Party and its feckless leaders in Congress are about to fall into a trap. The trap is being sprung by President Bush and his too clever brain trust, but the sad fact is that it was actually laid by the Democrats themselves.

Taking over the Congress on a wave of popular revulsion at the twin catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan, Democrats could have issued immediate calls for an end to those wars, a return of the troops, and investigations into the criminal causes of those costly fiascos. They could have initiated efforts to halt funding for further war and foreign occupation. Of course, taking such stands and actions would have opened them to charges of being "soft on terror," but the public clearly isn't buying that crap any more. With a little courage and leadership they could have handled it, and come out winners.

Instead, they took what they thought was the easy road, condemning not the criminal policies themselves, but only the administration's handling of the wars. This led some to call not for an end to the wars, but for more troops.

Now, Bush has called their bluff by proposing just that: more troops for Iraq (the so-called "surge" option), and a major expansion of the army over the longer term--the better to allow the president to invade other countries even as the nation is already mired in two losing wars.

And what are the Democrats in Congress going to do? Devoid of any principles, their chance to demand an end to reckless imperialist military adventures squandered, they are likely to fall in line and vote to fund both an escalation of the Iraq War and an expansion of the military.

It's a double win for Bush. He gets the funding for more war right through the end of his second term of office, allowing him to hand the Iraq quagmire to the next president, making it someone else's job to take the blame for the eventually unavoidable loss. And he gets a bigger defense budget and more troops to play with--perhaps as much as a 10 percent increase in total combat troops.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), the allegedly liberal, allegedly anti-war incoming speaker of the House, and incoming Senate Majority Leader Harry "send-in-the-cavalry" Reid can kiss their much touted "First 100 Hours" progressive agenda goodbye. With all the new money that will have to be thrown into the Pentagon sinkhole, there won't be a dime for domestic spending.

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

North American Secessionists Confront the Empire

Break up the Empire!

"According to the conventional political categories, this was an odd collection of organizations, with the spokesperson for the environmentally-minded Cascadian Independence Project (incorporating Oregon, Washington and British Columbia) sitting next to the delegate from the fiercely libertarian Republic of New Hampshire, and the representatives of a Hawaiian sovereignty group sitting across from the Southern nationalists in the League of the South and next to the anti-corporate Second Vermont Republic. But this group aligned not on a left-right political continuum but rather a top-bottom axis. In spite of the ideological differences, there was unanimity in the room regarding the diagnosis of the problem and its most effective treatment.

"The problem? In short, the American Empire. The delegates virtually all wanted to smash the Empire and bring an end to the suffering it causes at home and abroad. The invasion and occupation of Iraq was repeatedly condemned, and no praise was forthcoming for George W. Bush or any other politician (except for the candidates of the Alaskan Independence Party, the only political party in the room). In fact, several of the participants expressed the fear that the U.S. was heading toward fascism. As Ian Baldwin, publisher of Vermont Commons, the newspaper of the Second Vermont Republic, put it: "We are decentralists, and we are up against a monster." For this group, the most effective way to resist the Empire was to simply withdraw from it, chip away at its geographic foundation. Secession was seen as a way to restore democracy and promote freedom through reducing the scale (in both the senses of spatial scope and size) of government.

"A related problem for the participants was what they saw as the economic evisceration of local communities. If big government played the role of the villain at this convention, big corporations received equal billing as its evil twin. Many deplored the effects of transnational corporations on local communities, and a disgust with the influence of corporations in the political system inspired the activism of several of those at the table. Rather than protecting its citizens from corporate predation, the delegates felt that the U.S. government was assisting corporations in draining the economic vitality out of their communities. For Diana Licht, a Cambridge, Mass., resident and member of the populist (but not secessionist) Alliance for Democracy, her interest in secession was about "wanting to find a boundary within which you can protect yourself from intrusion." If the U.S. government is not able to protect communities from intrusion by the multinationals, the boundaries must be redrawn to a more manageable scale.

Found on

The New Walls of Jerusalem: Part 2 • The Long Walk to Class

Now, in many cases, receiving healthcare or an education or going to work can be a long, complicated process for Palestinians who have to cross through the barrier - which runs through Shuafat and is being transformed from a fence into a concrete wall - to reach the rest of the city.
It's an ordeal that human rights groups such as Btselem say is an unjust burden on Palestinian Jerusalemites. They say Arab residents are being increasingly cut off from basic services with political goals in mind: increasing security for Israelis, and decreasing numbers of Palestinians, including those with Israeli-issued residency.

Of course, this new reality was not chosen by Ahmed or his family. He didn't ask to attend school in Dahiyet el-Barid, a neighborhood that straddles the barrier, but was assigned to study here by an educational wing of the Jerusalem municipality, which oversees all schools throughout the city.

Though his school and home are both part of the capital city, they're now wedged between a maze of checkpoints. The area where the school is - past several security checkpoints - has become a bottlenecked, almost mysterious passageway.

The policies of who can pass and when seem to change almost by the hour. Other areas here and in the West Bank have "flying checkpoints," as Palestinians have dubbed them - here one day and gone the next.

A year ago, life wasn't like this. That was before the wall began winding through this area, drawing landscape-altering lines between who is and is not able to enter Jerusalem. That was also before Ahmed's father, Omar Malhi, died at a checkpoint near their house. His family says he died from complications related to a heart attack because he couldn't reach the hospital soon enough. Witnesses say his ambulance was delayed at the checkpoint.

Thereafter, Ahmed's father was declared a shahid il-mahsom, or checkpoint martyr.

This is part two of a Christian Science Monitor story.
Part One is here:

Iraq Is In An Anti-Occupation Struggle; Not A Civil War--Sarah Shields

"Iraq is not undergoing a civil war. The country is in the throes of an anti-occupation struggle. Having declared, with the installation of the current government, that Iraq is no longer occupied, the US government and media can hardly frame the current violence as a struggle against a continuing occupation. Nonetheless, what is being cast as civil war is the latest example in a long line of peoples' fighting against occupation, struggles in which those groups who collaborate with an occupier are themselves targeted by those seeking to end an occupation. Algerians fighting the French also attacked the those indigenous forces who had allied themselves with France. Moroccans targeted the goumiers, local troops who worked with the French in suppressing a rebellion against foreign control. The Vietcong fought not only Americans, but also the Vietnamese who collaborated with the occupation. Zulu Inkatha were targeted for working on behalf of South Africa's white government. Irish nationalists linked Protestants with the British occupiers. The occupiers tried to present each as an example of the intrinsic and intractable violence of these societies, which provided yet another example of their continuing need for the benevolent protection of the occupation.

"Framing the Iraq tragedy as civil war forces the US media to ignore the clear inconsistencies. Shi'ite forces under Muqtada al-Sadr attack the forces of a Shi'ite-led government. News reports day after day describe terrible attacks against civilian populations, with no coverage at all of violence against American forces. Where are our mounting casualties coming from? The BBC writes that eighty percent of attacks are against the occupation forces, not against civilian targets. Iraqi targets are often people either directly collaborating or trying to collaborate with the occupation (local police and military recruits), and people whose continuing work allows the current government to function. The apparent contradiction in which Iraqis would attack those who allow the hospitals, schools, and services to continue is comprehensible only in the context of an anti-occupation struggle where an insurgency tries to prevent the functioning of a government installed by an occupation army.

From Common via Uruknet and Thomas Barton's GI Special

Talking Surge: Another Imminent Iraq Bloody Disaster--James Brooks

"This [surge strategy] is not the first time the US has adopted a policy of failure in Iraq. The Salvador Option, reported out of the Pentagon two years ago, involves much more than a network of paramilitary death squads attacking the popular insurgency. It is also a known recipe for extremely bloody civil war, as demonstrated in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, and Honduras, to name a few.

"When the Salvador Option is invoked, it is an admission that the "battle for hearts and minds" is lost. Once it is triggered, the victim nation will be subjected to an indefinite reign of terror until it "comes to its senses" and accepts "international standards".

"Bishops may be assassinated while saying Mass. Nuns may be raped, tortured, murdered, and mutilated. Native Indians may be murdered by the tens of thousands. Anything goes. Meanwhile, the diplomatic, economic, and intelligence meddling will continue unabated, and the American public will eat a parade of stories about new "peace plans" and "early exit" strategies. That is the history of the Salvador Option.

"It is a policy of winning while losing. It is reminiscent in a general way of Nixon’s "plan to end the war", which merely led to another "surge" for victory involving the apocalyptic carpet-bombing of Cambodia and Vietnam. Five years after America voted for his "secret" plan, Nixon resigned in disgrace. But the US military was still in Vietnam, "training its replacements".

"The sober lesson to be drawn is that, in the eyes of US policy makers, any amount of pointless suffering and death is preferable to an admission of defeat. Even the symbolic defeat involved in bringing the troops home "before their mission is complete" is deemed unacceptable, as a political risk, as a return on investment, and as a matter of imperial strategy, especially at this "moment of perceived weakness". [emphasis added]

Found on

Bush Cracks Down on Gitmo Detainees, Despite Overwhelming Evidence Most are Not Terrorists

"The U.S. is holding hundreds of innocent people at its detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

"Military authorities at Guantanamo have decided to tighten the screws on detainees because it has been determined that the U.S. has been too kind and accommodating to them.

"If you find those two sentences jarring and contradictory, you're not alone, yet both were leading news items in today's newspapers. The first appeared in a page one story in of the Philadelphia Inquirer by Associated Press reporter Andrew O. Selsky, which said most of the detainees are innocent of any crime. The second was a page one story in the New York Times by reporter Tim Golden, who reported on a harsh crackdown on Guantanamo detainees, including removal of common eating privileges, inmate soccer games, and incentives for good behavior by prisoners.

"Selsky, who traced what happened to 245 of some 360 Guantanamo detainees released by the U.S., found that 205 of them, upon arriving in their countries of origin, were immediately released, after their home governments determined that they were, after all, not dangerous terrorists.

"According to Selsky, all 83 Afghan captives sent back to Afghanistan were freed after the government there determined that most had simply been turned over to American forces because of "tribal or personal rivalries" and to collect ransoms being offered by US forces.
Pakistan released 67 of 70 Pakistani captives returned to that country after it was determined they too were "innocent."

"All 29 detainees repatriated to Britain, Spain, Germany, Russia, Australia, Turkey, Denmark, Bahrain and the Maldives, were freed within hours of being sent home by the U.S., which had delivered them bound hand and food as "dangerous terrorists."

Dave Lindorff on Counterpunch

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

American Woman Who Wouldn't Give Up Seat to Man, Beaten on Israeli Bus

You just gotta love theocracies, don'tcha?

"I said, I'm not moving and he said, 'I'm not asking you, I'm telling you.' Then he spat in my face and at that point, I was in high adrenaline mode and called him a son-of-a-bitch, which I am not proud of. Then I spat back. At that point, he pushed me down and people on the bus were screaming that I was crazy. Four men surrounded me and slapped my face, punched me in the chest, pulled at my clothes, beat me, kicked me. My snood [hair covering] came off. I was fighting back and kicked one of the men in his privates. I will never forget the look on his face."

"Shear says that when she bent down in the aisle to retrieve her hair covering, "one of the men kicked me in the face. Thank God he missed my eye. I got up and punched him. I said, 'I want my hair covering back' but he wouldn't give it to me, so I took his black hat and threw it in the aisle."

'Stupid American'

"Throughout the encounter, Shear says the bus driver "did nothing." The other passengers, she says, blamed her for not moving to the back of the bus and called her a "stupid American with no sechel [common sense.] People blamed me for not knowing my place and not going to the back of the bus where I belong."

"According to Yehoshua Meyer, the eyewitness to the incident, Shear's account is entirely accurate. "I saw everything," he said. "Someone got on the bus and demanded that she go to the back, but she didn't agree. She was badly beaten and her whole body sustained hits and kicks. She tried to fight back and no one would help her. I tried to help, but someone was stopping me from getting up. My phone's battery was dead, so I couldn't call the police. I yelled for the bus driver to stop. He stopped once, but he didn't do anything. When we finally got to the Kotel [Western Wall], she was beaten badly and I helped her go to the police."

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Worse Than Apartheid--Chris Hedges

"The stark reality of Gaza, however, has failed to penetrate the consciousness of most Americans, who, when they notice the Israeli and Palestinian conflict, prefer to debate the merits of the word "apartheid" in former President Jimmy Carter’s new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." It is a sad commentary on the gutlessness of the U.S. press and the timidity of the Democratic opposition that most Americans are not aware of the catastrophic humanitarian crisis they bear so much responsibility in creating. Palestinians are not only dying, their olive trees uprooted, their farmland and homes destroyed and their aquifers taken away from them, but on many days they can’t move because of Israeli "closures" that make basic tasks, like buying food and going to the hospital, nearly impossible. These Palestinians, after decades of repression, cannot return to land from which they were expelled. The 140-plus U.N. votes to censure Israel and two Security Council resolutions—both vetoed by the United States—are blithly ignored. Is it any wonder that the Palestinians, gasping for air, rebel as the walls close in around them, as their children go hungry and as the Israelis turn up the violence?

"Palestinians in Gaza live encased in a squalid, overcrowded ghetto, surrounded by the Israeli military and a massive electric fence, unable to leave or enter the strip and under daily assault. The word "apartheid," given the wanton violence employed against the Palestinians, is tepid. This is more than apartheid. The concerted Israeli attempts to orchestrate a breakdown in law and order, to foster chaos and rampant deprivation, are on public display in the streets of Gaza City, where Palestinians walk past the rubble of the Palestinian Ministry of Interior, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of National Economy, the office of the Palestinian prime minister and a number of educational institutions that have been bombed by Israeli jets. The electricity generation plant, providing 45 percent of the electricity of the Gaza Strip, has been wiped out, and even the primitive electricity networks and transmitters that remain have been repeatedly bombed. Six bridges linking Gaza City with the central Gaza Strip have been blown up and main arteries cratered into obliteration. And the West Bank is rapidly descending into a crisis of Gaza proportions. The juxtaposition of what is happening in Gaza and what is being debated on the U.S. airwaves about a book that is little more than a basic primer on the conflict reinforces the impression most outside our gates have of Americans living in a distorted, bizarre reality of our own creation.

From via What Really Happened

Iran's Offer to Negotiate with the U.S. in 2003 Embarassing White House

Link to whole article:

WASHINGTONThe White House does not want the public to know that in May 2003, the Iranian Foreign Ministry floated the prospect of a wide-ranging dialogue with America on everything from uranium enrichment to anti-Israel terrorism.

At least this is what a former Middle East director of the National Security Council, Flynt Leverett, is saying after the CIA's publication review board would not approve an op-ed he wrote, which was slated to run this week in the New York Times.

As a former CIA Syria analyst, Mr. Leverett is required to submit his written work to the board to guarantee that he does not publish classified information. But Mr. Leverett, who has met on occasion with senior Iranian officials since he left government, says he cannot publish this week's piece because of political pressure from the White House.

Found on What Really Happened

John Lennon--Another Reason He Is Missed

"What exactly had Lennon done? It wasn't just singing Give Peace a Chance - it was when and where he sang it; 1972 was an election year, Nixon was running for re-election and the Vietnam war was the key issue. Lennon was talking to anti-war leaders about doing a tour that would combine rock music with anti-war organising and voter registration. That was the key, because it was the first year 18-year-olds had been given the right to vote. Young voters were assumed to be anti-war, but also known to be the least likely of all age groups to vote. Lennon and his friends hoped to do something about that. Nixon found out about the former Beatle's plans, and the deportation order followed.

"The threat was effective. Lennon's lawyers told him to cool it and the tour never took place. Nixon won in a landslide, and the war in Vietnam went on for three more blood-soaked years. Lennon spent the next couple of years facing a 60-day order to leave the country, which his lawyers kept getting postponed.

"The striking fact is that Lennon could have avoided all of this. He didn't have to campaign against Nixon. It didn't sell records or help his career. But Lennon wanted to use his power as a superstar to do something worthwhile. And the great issue of the day was the unjust and disastrous war in Vietnam.

From The Guardian via What Really Happened

Military Strikebreaking Makes A Come-back

"The US Army is considering measures to force striking workers back to their jobs at a Goodyear Tire & Rubber plant in Kansas in the face of a looming shortage of tyres for Humvee trucks and other military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"A strike involving 17,000 members of the United Steelworkers union has crippled 16 Goodyear plants in the US and Canada since October 5.

"The main issues in dispute are the company's plans to close a unionised plant in Texas, and a proposal for workers to shoulder future increases in healthcare costs.

"An army spokeswoman said on Friday that 'there's not a shortage right now but there possibly will be one in the future'.

"According to Duncan Hunter, chairman of the House of Representatives armed services committee, the strike has cut output of Humvee tyres by about 35 per cent.

"Mr Hunter said the army was exploring a possible injunction under the Taft-Hartley Act to force the 200 Kansas workers back to their jobs.

"He proposed that they return under their current terms of employment, on the understanding that any settlement would be extended to them.

"Talks aimed at ending the strike will resume on Monday, the union said last night.

"Mr Hunter said that the army had stopped supplying tyres to units not related to the Central Command, which is responsible for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Tyres were also not being provided to army repair depots.

"While concern has centred on the Humvees, tyres are also critical to aircraft and other military equipment.


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"We gotcha by the $@&#s" Haniyeh returns with no money...

Click on link below and scroll down to the title above
"Of course Israel doesn't want Hamas or the Palestinians for that matter to bring money into Gaza or the rest of occupied Palestine. The illegal Israeli occupation, with its apartheid policies refined and perfected over nearly 40 years, has achieved virtual strangulation over the Palestinians lives. Economically and socially, the Palestinians are being asphyxiated in their own homeland while a complicit United States and impotent Europe enables the war crimes to continue.

"I do not recall seeing President Abbas bringing $35 million in donated funds to pay the salaries of thousands of unpaid civil servants of the government. Naturally the Israelis don't want that money coming in suitcases via Egypt's border with Israel. Like sheep in a pen, the Gazan people are cordoned with barriers that are controlled entirely by Israel. So Amir Peretz, the defence minister of Israel decides to close the border to keep Haniyeh and his money bags out of Gaza. What a remarkable manifestation of goodwill to a dying and imprisoned population. Clearly this kind of generosity encourages Palestinian youths and leaders to want peace with Israel!

Found on American Palestinian New Generation

Dems & War--Dangerous as the Repugs

"They [the commies at the NYTimes] want to get out of Vietnam and yield it to them, and I don't think I can quite do that," the president said.

At the time, as Defense Secretary Robert McNamara reported, there were 400,000 U.S. troops in Vietnam.

In another conversation, McNamara suggested waiting until after the midterm elections to announce a cap on the U.S. troop commitment in Vietnam. Johnson said little during that part of the conversation.

Johnson asked McNamara about the defense budget and supply shortages. McNamara told him there were shortages of a "new rifle" called the M-16, and shortages of some ammunition and rounds used to illuminate areas for night fighting. But McNamara said there were plenty of bombs — 265,000 tons of them, either in Southeast Asia or on the way.

"Frankly, we're going to just snow the place under with bombs," McNamara said. "And I'm doing it purposely to make them cry, 'Stop.'"

Found on Angry Arab Newservice.

Pot Biggest US Cash Crop

"Marijuana is now the biggest cash crop grown in the US, exceeding traditional harvests such as wheat, corn and soy beans, says a new report.

"The study shows that 10,000 tonnes of marijuana worth $35.8bn (£18.4bn) is grown each year; the street value would be even higher. This dwarfs the $23bn-worth of corn grown, $17.6bn-worth of soybeans and $12.2bn-worth of hay. Marijuana is the biggest cash crop in 12 states, with the value of pot grown outstripping peanuts in Georgia and tobacco in North and South Carolina. In California, the biggest producer, it is worth $13.8bn.

Found on Angry Arab Newservice. As'ad makes the point that it is highly hypcritical of the US to be destroying drug crops around the world with pot as the US's biggest crop.