Saturday, June 30, 2007

4 Branches of the U.S. Government

Sicko--Democrat/SEIU Position on Single-Payer

"Michael Moore has made a great movie.


"Everyone should see it.

"And take the kids.

"The movie's message in a nutshell -- we need single payer.

"In the United States.


"But Senate Democrats are trying to co-opt the message.

"On Capitol Hill today, SEIU held a rally for a couple of hundred health care workers.

"The group was addressed by six Senators.

"None support single payer.

"Senator Ben Cardin (D-Maryland) -- does not support single payer.

"Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) -- does not support single payer.

"Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) -- does not support single payer.

"Senator Harry Reid (D-Nevada) -- does not support single payer.

"Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) -- does not support single payer.

"Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) -- does not support single payer.

"We asked Dawn Lee, a spokesperson for SEIU, whether SEIU supported HR 676 -- the single payer bill in the House.

"She said SEIU takes no position on that bill.

SEIU -- does not support single payer.

At the SEIU rally, all spoke in favor of "universal health care."

That is code for -- keep the insurance companies in the game.

Obama Doesn't Think President's Ilegalities All That Bad

AP- Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama laid out list of
political shortcomings he sees in the Bush administration but said he
opposes impeachment for either President George W. Bush or Vice
President Dick Cheney. . . "I think you reserve impeachment for grave,
grave breeches, and intentional breeches of the president's authority,"
he said.

From the Progressive Review Undernews

Friday, June 29, 2007

Ethiopian Prime Minister Regrets Invasion of Somalia (on behalf of US)

Bush leads Ethiopia into "wrong political calculation" of invading Somalia--says their prime minister. Oops! Read all about it here.

"NAIROBI, June 28 -- Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said Thursday that his government "made a wrong political calculation" when it intervened in Somalia, where Ethiopian troops are bogged down in a fight against a growing insurgency.

"Addressing Ethiopia's Parliament, Meles said his government incorrectly assumed that breaking up the Islamic movement that took control of most of Somalia in June 2006 would subdue the country. He also said he wrongly believed that Somali clan leaders would live up to unspecified "promises."

"'We made these wrong assumptions," Meles said on a day when a roadside bomb killed two Ethiopian soldiers in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, and two aid workers were shot dead in northern Somalia.

"Opposition members of Parliament have accused Meles of making the same mistake in Somalia that critics say the United States made in Iraq: launching a military intervention without having a political plan.

"Many Ethiopian intellectuals and political leaders opposed the intervention because they said it would inevitably create the conditions for the sort of Somalia-based terrorist attacks that Meles intended to contain by invading the country.

"In December, Ethiopian forces backing Somalia's transitional government dislodged the Islamic movement, which was popular for the relative security it had brought after years of brutal warlord rule.

"Ethiopia and the United States said the Islamic movement had been hijacked by extremists and accused it of harboring terrorists, including three suspects in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, a charge the Islamic leaders denied.

"Since January, fighting between insurgents and Ethiopian and Somali government troops has displaced more than half of Mogadishu's population while the humanitarian situation has deteriorated. On Thursday, Amnesty International accused Kenya of blocking 141 trucks of food and other aid headed for more than 200,000 displaced Somalis suffering from "alarming levels" of malnutrition.

"Many businessmen and civil society leaders in Mogadishu say that over the past two weeks, they have been unjustly labeled "al-Qaeda" and their homes and offices have been ransacked by Ethiopian and Somali troops.

"One internationally known civil society leader, Abdulkadir Nur, said that troops plundered equipment in his offices and that his colleagues and relatives had been arrested without charge.
Nur said he is simply against what he considers an Ethiopian occupation.

Cyclone Survivors Protest Gov't Neglect in Pakistan

"Pakistani police fired tear gas and live bullets to break up a protest by angry cyclone survivors after the onset of South Asia's rainy season over the past week claimed more than 500 lives. Six people were wounded as thousands of hungry villagers complained about the lack of relief aid, an AFP photographer said on Friday.

"About 1,000 protesters attacked the mayor's office in the largely-submerged southwestern town of Turbat, saying they had received no help since a tropical cyclone struck on Tuesday. Severe weather conditions have affected India and Afghanistan over recent days but Pakistan has been hardest-hit.

"'Our homes have been destroyed, there has been no drinking water and no food for the last four days. There is water everywhere," Ghulam Jan, a farmer, said.

"Chest-deep water

"The protesters said they had waded through chest-deep water from outlying areas to voice their anger. Many said the only aid they had received were packets of biscuits and bottles of water.

"'Every family is looking for one or two members. They are all missing," Chaker Baloth, who walked more than 40km to reach Turbat, said.

Found on al-jazeera

Hope for Iraq?

"If Robert Dreyfuss is right about these nationalist Iraqis who oppose the occupation trying to put together a new gov't, it is the most hopeful thing I've read about Iraq. Read the whole article (from the Nation) here A portion is below.

"Why isn't Washington backing the nationalists, despite its growing frustration with Maliki's inability to meet the so-called "benchmarks" of political reconciliation that the United States wants? Because what holds together the emerging nationalist coalition, more than anything else, is militant opposition to the US occupation of Iraq.

"Over the past two months, the nationalists in Parliament have won two landmark votes: the first in support of a bill calling for the United States to set a timetable for withdrawal and the second in a vote demanding that the Iraqi government submit any plan to extend the US occupation past 2007 to Parliament. Most (but not all) of the support for those votes came from deputies associated with the Sunnis (fifty-five seats), Sadr (thirty seats), Fadhila (thirty seats) and Allawi (twenty-five seats). Theoretically, those four parties control 140 seats in Parliament, a bare majority--and one that could be bolstered by independent Shiite and even some dissident Dawa party members, according to Iraqi sources.

"For Americans concerned about what Iraq might look like after a US withdrawal, it's important to note that the nationalist bloc is united by more than its opposition to the US occupation. They are also strongly opposed both to the terrorist forces of Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and to the growing influence of Iran in Iraq. Lately, Sunni Iraqis, including tribal militias and several armed insurgent groups--such as the Islamic Army in Iraq and the 1920 Revolution Brigades--have been battling AQI throughout Anbar and other provinces, notably Diyala and Salahuddin to the north and east of Baghdad, as well as in some Baghdad neighborhoods. The Sunnis, who are also bitterly opposed to Iran's influence in Iraq, have gotten support from Sadr and Fadhila in trying to limit Iranian meddling. (Iran operates in Iraq primarily through SICI, whose Badr Brigade militia was created in Tehran in 1982 and has been armed, trained and advised by Iranian intelligence ever since.) In Basra, Nasiriyah and other Iraqi cities, both Sadr's and Fadhila's forces have been waging pitched battles against the militia and death squads of SICI.
Although Iran is reported to have influence or control over some of Sadr's Mahdi Army commanders, in recent weeks Sadr has been reasserting control of the Mahdi Army, purging extremists and reaching out to Sunni resistance leaders and clerics. And when US Ambassador Ryan Crocker met with his Iranian counterpart in Baghdad on May 28--a meeting widely reviled by Iraqi nationalists, who saw it as the start of a US-Iranian plot to carve up Iraq--Sadr issued a striking denunciation of Iran. "It is most regrettable that they [the Iranians] are inadvertently or deliberately forgetting, in such negotiations, to demand that the occupier depart," said Sadr.

"The most active Iraqi politician working to assemble the nationalist bloc in Iraq is Saleh Mutlaq, the former Baathist and leader of the National Dialogue Front. "We have been engaged in constructive talks to create this powerful bloc to save Iraq," he said earlier this month. "Maliki's government should go because it has brought untold suffering to the Iraqi people." Mutlaq and others, including Allawi, have spoken about a "National Salvation Government" that could replace Maliki.

Found on

Palestine Pundit on Lebanese Army Shooting Refugees

"Palestinian men, gather trying to help a seriously injured Palestinian man laying on the ground, who was wounded when Lebanese troops opened fire on angry Palestinian refugees during a protest at the Beddawi Palestinian refugee camp, in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanon, Friday June 29, 2007. Lebanese troops on Friday opened fire on angry Palestinian refugees trying to march back home to their besieged camp in northern Lebanon, and wounded several, security officials said. (AP Photo)

"BEIRUT, Lebanon - Lebanese troops fired on Palestinian refugees trying to march home to their besieged camp in northern Lebanon on Friday, and at least two people were killed and 20 wounded, Palestinian officials said.

"Thousands of refugees fled the Nahr el-Bared camp after the army began battling Islamic militants there May 20, and most took shelter in the Beddawi camp three miles away. But with Fatah Islam militants still holding out in Nahr el-Bared, the displaced refugees are now demanding to be allowed home.

"On Friday, about 2,000 refugees staged a protest at the Beddawi camp, and some then tried to march to Nahr el-Bared.

SURGE in GI Deaths in Iraq--329 in Past 3 Months

Found on Palestinian Pundit, this article from MSNBC says this has been the worst 3 months for the US in Iraq. Read it all here portion below. Linda

"BAGHDAD - Insurgents launched a deadly coordinated attack on an American combat patrol, the U.S. military said Friday, killing five troops and making this the deadliest quarter for U.S. soldiers in Iraq since the war began.

"Assailants detonated a roadside bomb, then fired guns and rocket-propelled grenades at the soldiers. Seven troops were wounded in the attack on Thursday in southern Baghdad and were evacuated to a military hospital; one has since returned to duty, the military said.

"The deaths brought to 99 the number of U.S. troops to die in Iraq this month, according to an Associated Press count. The toll for the past three months — 329 — made it the deadliest such period for GIs since the war began in March 2003.

Blair's New Job--Same as the Old Job

One of Carlos Latuff's Latest
"Beyond satire is Blair's appointment as Middle East envoy. Blair is the most wholehearted Zionist ever to lead a major British political party - including Balfour. He is at one with the religious right in the United States in having a gut Zionism perversely engendered by fundamentalist Christian beliefs.
"Remember, Blair is leaving today because he was forced to announce his departure last summer. Even the eternally supine Labour Party revolted over Blair's support for the Israeli attack on the Lebanon. Blair is going because he sacrificed his last remaining political capital to block a UN call for a ceasefire. He did this, knowingly and deliberately, to give the Israelis another two weeks to devastate Southern Lebanon from the air.
"This is the man who, in the Rose Garden, moved the UK away from the EU consensus and lined us up uncritically with George Bush's professedly pro-Israeli policies. All that is without counting the buckets of Iraqi arab blood on Blair's hands. No self-respecting Palestinian representative, of any party or group, should have any truck with Tony Blair.
"Blair is the most famous liar in the World, since the Iraqi WMD debacle. Why should anybody trust him as an envoy?
Found on

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Young Black People--Are Jails Their Destiny?

Young Black women get inordinately long sentences for defending themselves from an aggressive "admirer." So what else is new?

"Four more Black girls just went bad. Young, 19 to 25; from Newark or surrounding neighborhoods; “troubled” families; having babies while in their teens – you’ve heard it all before. The reason you’re reading about this bunch is that they’re lesbians – “killer lesbians,” “a wolf pack of lesbians,” say the media. They’re not martyrs or heroes; they did something stupid that got them sentenced to prison. They stood up for themselves.

“'Man Is Stabbed in Attack After Admiring a Stranger,” wrote the comparatively well-mannered New York Times last August 19th.

"The Manhattan district attorney says Patreese Johnson, one of the four, was the stabber. He charged her with attempted murder, and Johnson, Renata Hill, Venice Brown, and Terrain Dandridge with felony assault and gang assault. The man assaulted was Dwayne Buckle, 29, who, seeing the “gang” on the corner of 6th Avenue and 4th Street in Manhattan’s West Village, singled out Johnson because she was “slightly pretty.” He claimed he said, “Hi, how are you doing?”

"Johnson, Hill, Brown, Dandridge, and three other women — a “seething sapphic septet,” according to the New York Post — had just gotten off the train from Newark, looking for a little fun. Being young, they knew the odds of fun were better in the Village; being lesbians, they knew fun was not to be had in the streets of Newark, where, four years earlier, 15-year-old Sakia Gunn was knifed to death by men who thought she was cute — until she told them she was gay.

"Although what happened between these women and Dwayne Buckle was caught on surveillance cameras, there isn’t one newspaper account that doesn’t, somehow, conflict with the others. Dwayne Buckle, a “filmmaker” or “sound mixer” or “dvd bootlegger” -– depending on your news source -– evidently said more than “Hi.” The women contend he pointed to Patreese Johnson’s crotch and said, “Let me get some of that.” When Johnson answered, “No thank you, I’m not interested,” he told Johnson that he could fuck her and her friends straight.

Hamastan and Red Zoneistan -- Pepe Escobar in Asia Times

Pepe Escobar lays it all out here,, finishing with the portion below.

"Gaza is a gulag. The West Bank is a series of unconnected ghettoes. Baghdad is now a gulag. Iraq has been reduced to a series of unconnectable ghettoes. Palestinian land is being stolen. Iraqi oil will be stolen. "Terrorist" Gaza has been already downgraded to Hamastan. The Red Zone - that is, real Baghdad - is actually Red Zoneistan.

"US-Israeli-approved Fatah may get some crumbs in the West Bank. Blair - not popular on the Arab street - will be the West's "peace envoy" to seal the deal. No wonder London-based Al-Quds al-Arabi, in an editorial, stressed that the only possible reception for Blair's next visit to Palestine should be embodied by tomatoes and rotten eggs.

"Planet Gaza is a technical model of repression developed by Israeli know-how, implemented by the Pentagon in Iraq, and then redeveloped for reapplication in Gaza. It may, and it will, be deployed in other parts of the world that do not "behave".

For Immediate Release--Gaza Under Israeli Fire Press Release 27.6.2007

Comment and press release (see below) from the PeacePalestine website at This picture breaks my heart.

"In support of the call below, and in addition, please note that there is again a situation of high alert in northern Gaza, because there are strong concerns that the sewage lakes there will not hold much longer. Urgently needed equipment for repair does not enter Gaza, and this time we are talking about the main sewage lakes, not about the small overflow lake of the last time. Thus, a humanitarian catastrophe is pending for many reasons in Gaza, while Israel's current newsline is that "Hamas is planning to create a humanitarian emergency there"

"Please make maximum effors to get the real story out. Do contact people in Gaza, including the phone numbers given below.

(from) BADIL

Subject: For Immediate Release--Gaza Under Israeli FirePress Release 27.6.2007

"Since last night, and only one day after the much celebrated Sharm El Sheikh summit, the Israeli Occupation Forces have been attacking the Gaza Strip-Khan Younus and Shijaeyya neighbourhood-- with Mirkava tanks, Apache helicopters and F16. Instead of sending the promised "humanitarian aid" to the people of Gaza, as the Sharm El Sheikh leaders decided, Israel so far has killed 10 civilians, including a 10 year old child.We condemn in the strongest possible terms these heinous crimes and call upon all civil society organizations and freedom loving people to act immediately in any possible way to put pressure on their governments to end diplomatic ties with Apartheid Israel and institute sanctions against it for its 40 years of military occupation of Palestine. We also call on the international community and the Arab and Islamic worlds, to take up their responsibility to protect the Palestinian people from this heinous aggression and immediately terminate the continuing Israeli policy of collective punishment.

"We demand the immediate halt of the Israeli Occupation Forces' attacks on the Gaza Strip and an end to the closure and isolation of the Strip, both of which are exacerbating an already desperate humanitarian situation inside the Strip.

The National Boycott of Apartheid Israel-Gaza
One Democratic State Association
University Teachers' Association
For Comments contact:
+972 599 880608
+ 972 599 441766
+ 972 599 322636

Abbas Advisor Says Hamas Fighting Collaborators

Read original here:,2506,L-3418486,00.html

"Abbas advisor says Hamas fighting collaborators

"Hani al-Hassan, senior presidential advisor says Gaza war was between Hamas and Fatah collaborators who aided Israel, US. Gunshots fired at al-Hassan's home following statements,
Abbas dismisses him from his role

"The Gaza events were not a war between Fatah and Hamas; but between Hamas and Fatah collaborators who served the Americans and the Israelis, said a senior Fatah advisor on Wednesday.

"Hani al-Hassan, the Palestinian president's senior political advisor and member of Fatah's central committee said in a TV interview that what was happening in the Gaza Strip was the defeat of to plans of American Major General Keith Dayton and his Fatah followers.

"Al-Hassan's words severely discredit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and other Arab leaders' claims that the Gaza takeover was a coup against Palestinian democracy.

"By making such statements the presidential advisor supports Hamas' claims that the war was between a small group of Fatah men who served Israel and the United States.

"Following the interview, which put a dent in Fatah's PR efforts, Fatah gunmen fired at al-Hassan's home. No one was injured, as al-Hassan was abroad for the interview.

"Senior Fatah bodies demanded al-Hassan be dismissed from all his duties, but Abbas settled for firing him only from his post as senior political advisor.

"Azzam al-Ahmad, head of the Fatah parliamentary bloc stressed that al-Hassan's words did not represent even the most junior Fatah member, and only represented his own position

Robo-Tasers for "Pipeline" Defense (Updated)

I don't know the history of Wired Magazine's "Danger Room," but this article definitely fits into that category. Read it all here (courtesy of Doug)--wait'll you get a load of this thing:

"Taser stun-guns are already controversial, in the hands of cops and G.I.s. Now imagine a whole field of the electric weapons -- out of human hands, entirely.

"Taser International recently rolled out its Taser Remote Area Denial (TRAD) system -- a networked series of sensors and stun-gun projectiles that promises to "observe, warn, incapacitate and retain intruders" from afar. Today, security teams have to be deployed to stop an intruder, when one is detected hoping over a fence or slipping through a gate. But that response takes time, and "exposes our forces to risk." What the TRAD provides, its makers say, is "a delay and arrest capability at key locations that can be employed instantly upon threat alert and assessment."

"An array of TRADs -- or a "TASERNET," in company lingo -- provides "the capabilities of visual observation and oversight coupled with the ability to engage and incapacitate targets remotely. The things are "ideal for protecting high value facilities or operations such as checkpoints, command centers, depots, aircraft insertions, and spec ops, as well as fixed installations such as embassies, air fields, utility facilities, pipelines, etc."

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Curfew-Bound Fallujah On The Boil Again

I think the school teacher talking about the bicycles below is being sarcastic. Terrible situation. Read whole report here (from Ali Al-Fahdili--via Dahr Jamail's website):

"FALLUJAH, Jun 27 (IPS) - Strict curfew and tight security measures have brought difficult living conditions and heightened tempers to residents of this besieged city.

"The siege in this city located 60km west of Baghdad has entered its second month. There is little sign of any international attention to the plight of the city. Fallujah, which is largely sympathetic to the Iraqi resistance, was assaulted twice by the U.S. military in 2004.

"The second attack in November destroyed roughly three-quarters of the city of 350,000 residents. Now, Fallujah faces assault of another kind by way of a strict curfew where people are closed in from all sides.

"Many people who had earlier supported the Iraqi police that works with the U.S. military, now oppose it.

"'We gave full support to the police force despite opposition from others to forming this force," a community leader in the city who asked to be referred to as Ahmed told IPS. "Others told us this force would only serve the occupation forces, but we accused them of being against stability and order. Unfortunately, they appeared to be absolutely right."

"Cars have not been permitted to move on the streets of Fallujah for nearly a month now. A ban was also enforced on bicycles, but residents were later granted permission to use them.

"'Thank God and President Bush for this great favour," said Ala'a, a 34-year-old schoolteacher. "We are the only city in the liberated world with the blessing now of having bicycles moving freely in the streets."

"On May 21 U.S. and Iraqi forces imposed a security crackdown on the city following continuing attacks. Local non-governmental organisations such as the Iraqi Aid Association (IAA) have told reporters that the U.S. military is not allowing them access to the city.

"'We have supplies but it is impossible to reach the families. They are afraid to leave their homes to look for food, and children are getting sick with diarrhoea caused by the dirty water they are drinking," IAA spokesman Fatah Ahmed told reporters. "We have information that pregnant women are delivering their babies at home as the curfew is preventing them from reaching hospital."

Blackstone and Capital's Scam--Robert Weissman

Robert Weissman puts some perspective on Wall Street/Chamber of Commerce complaints to the SEC that they are "overregulated." Read the whole sad story here (portion below):

"Just consider the profits and earnings for those who make their living on Wall Street. The guys in the fancy suits are doing alright for themselves.

"Wall Street bonuses totaled $23.9 billion in 2006, according to the New York State comptroller, up 17 percent over 2005. It takes top Wall Street traders about two hours to make as much as the median U.S. household earns in a year, notes Sam Pizzigati, editor of the on-line newsletter Too Much.

"Profits at Citigroup actually fell in 2006 -- and the company was still the third most profitable publicly traded corporation in the United States, according to Fortune. Bank of America saw profits soar by 28 percent to $21.1 billion, to register the fourth highest profitability in the United States. J.P. Morgan came in ninth. Profits at Goldman Sachs were up 90 percent, to $9.5 billion -- good for sixteenth on the Fortune list.

"And then there's Blackstone. In selling part of itself on the publicly traded markets, the firm was forced to disclose important financial information. CEO Steve Schwarzman made $400 million in 2006. He grabbed $677 million when the company became publicly traded. And his share in the company is valued at $7.7 billion.

"The phantasmagoria peddled by various blue-ribbon commissions anointed by Wall Street and the Chamber disregards these riches and concentrates on one overriding deception: The claim that regulation and litigation is driving companies to float their Initial Public Offerings (IPOs, the moment when they initially sell their stock) on foreign markets.

The Deadly Consequences of Compromise--Sunsara Taylor

Sunsara Taylor asks where the women's movement (and the Democrats) are while this is happening:

"Back in March of 2006, South Dakota State Senator Bill Napoli described the rare circumstances in which he felt an abortion might be permissible: "A real-life description to me would be a rape victim, brutally raped, savaged. The girl was a virgin. She was religious. She planned on saving her virginity until she was married. She was brutalized and raped, sodomized as bad as you can possibly make it."

"Earlier this month, Senator Sam Brownback, a prominent and "legitimate" contender for the Republican presidential nomination went even further, saying, "Rape is terrible. Rape is awful. Is it made any better by killing an innocent child? Does it solve the problem for the woman that's been raped? ... We need to protect innocent life. Period."

Taylor argues (and I have to agree) that to combat the above:

"In today's situation, it is not enough to profess opposition to the most extreme wing of the anti-abortion movement. One must go on the political, ideological and practical offensive against the whole package of biblical-literalist and traditional values--together with waging an uncompromising struggle for abortion and birth control on demand.

"And a whole different, liberating vision of a society where the chains that bind women are shattered, where women and men relate with equality and mutual respect, and where together we set out to put an end to all forms of injustice and exploitation must be brought forward and fought for.

To read Taylor's whole informative article, go here (on

Dems Whine: 'AIPAC favors Republicans'

Found on from the website The Truth Will Set You Free, this is where you can read the original:

"Everytime I think our bootlicking congress couldn't stoop any lower than they already have to kiss AIPAC butt, they prove me wrong.

Congressional Democrats voted in aid to Israel, and
now they want payback from the
pro-Israel lobby: Drum Republicans out.

Behind the scenes, Democrats are pressing the American Israel
Public Affairs Committee to make a case against Republicans
in the U.S. House of Representatives who voted overwhelmingly
last week against the foreign operations appropriations bill,
which included $2.44 billion for Israel.

Republican leaders opposed the overall $34.2 billion bill on
two counts: It restores funding for overseas women's health
groups that use non-U.S. funds for abortions and represents
10 percent more than the amount appropriated last year by Congress.

"Notice, neither reason has anything to do with israel.

So far, the Republican explanations seem to be sitting well
with AIPAC, which currently has no intention of making an
issue of the vote. The sense at the pro-Israel powerhouse is
that the wrangling over abortion is politics as usual and that
further down the line, when the bill comes back from Senate-
House conferencing, it will have massive bipartisan backing.

AIPAC's decision to refrain from criticizing the GOP is likely
to reinforce the view in some Democratic circles that the
pro-Israel lobby has been favoring Republicans in recent years.
The situation is drawing comments from House Democratic leaders.

"If there aren't going to be consequences on the single most
important piece of legislation for Israel, when will there be
consequences?" Rep. Steve Israel (D-N.Y.) told JTA.
AIPAC released a statement "applauding" passage of
the bill, noting its many pro-Israel components and mentioning
only in passing the vote without noting the strong
Republican opposition.

That infuriates Democrats, who have a keen memory of
the hard time AIPAC gave them in 2001 when some Democrats
voted against the first foreign operations appropriation under
Bush because it slashed Africa spending. At the time AIPAC
made it clear to members that it would publicize yeas and nays.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

More Troops Survive, But They Have Devastating Injuries

"More than 800 of them have lost an arm, a leg, fingers or toes. More than 100 are blind. Dozens need tubes and machines to keep them alive. Hundreds are disfigured by burns, and thousands have brain injuries and damaged minds.

"These are America’s war wounded, a toll that has received less attention than the 3,500 troops killed in Iraq. Depending on how you count them, they number between 35,000 and 53,000.

"More of them are coming home, with injuries of a scope and magnitude the government did not predict and is now struggling to treat.

“'If we left Iraq tomorrow, we would have the legacy of all these people for many years to come,” said Dr. Jeffrey Drazen, the editor-in-chief of the New England Journal of Medicine and an adviser to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. “The military simply wasn’t prepared for its own success” at keeping severely wounded soldiers alive, he said.

"Survival rates today are even higher than the record levels set early in the war, because of body armor and better care. For every American soldier or Marine killed in Iraq, 15 others have survived illness or injury there.

"Unlike in previous wars, few of them have been shot. The signature weapon of this war - the improvised explosive device, or IED - has left a signature wound: traumatic brain injury.

Found on Informed Comment

Israeli High Court Rules in Favor of Torturing Palestinians


"The Israeli High Court issued a ruling that allows the Shabak, which is the Internal General Security Service of Israel, to torture with impunity. The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) published a report condemning the practice of torture that is "derived from the darkness of the Middle Ages," and the Israeli High Court which issued the ruling. The Shabak security agency said in response that its interrogations were "conducted according to the law. All detainees have the right to file a complaint with the courts or the Red Cross and these will be examined by the Ombudsman of Interogees' Complaints."

"The depth of the Israeli torture includes crimes against Palestinian children by interrogation methods that commonly included severe beatings, dousing in cold water, putting the detainee’s head in a toilet bowl, threats, and curses. The use of Stress and Duress torture techniques, which is a key component to the U.S. program, was adopted from the Israeli program.
Touted as the shining example of the Democratic Rule of Law, Israel has illustrated contempt for law and the value of human life, or even possessing an ethical standard of moral behavior with respect to the civil and human rights of the Palestinians. No lessons learned from the crimes committed during the Nazi Holocaust.

Found on

Republican Senator Disses Bush's "Iraq Plan"

Republican Senator Richard Lugar said today "Bush's Iraq strategy was not working and that the U.S. should downsize the military's role." Though he said he wouldn't vote for any of the Dem troop-related proposals, he is publicly slapping down Bush's efforts in Iraq. The NYTimes article ends with an unusually forthright characterization of the Dems public posturing on the Iraq occupation issue. See red text below. Whole article here:

"Next month, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., plans to force votes on several anti-war proposals as amendments to a 2008 defense policy bill. Members will decide whether to cut off money for combat, demand troop withdrawals start in four months, restrict the length of combat tours and rescind Congress' 2002 authorization of Iraqi invasion.

"Expected to fall short of the 60 votes needed in the Senate to pass controversial legislation, the proposals are intended to increase pressure on Bush and play up to voters frustrated with the war.

Monday, June 25, 2007

The Quagmire That Was Supposed to Be

George Aleman II in Dissident Voice

An Unlikely Prospect

"The more instability that is garnered in Iraq, the more justification will be given to stay. When the Democrats came to power, there was much hope that things would change. Their congressional activities thus far have dimmed hopes. It seems, unfortunately, that if the Democrats do maintain power into the next congressional cycle, even obtain the presidency in ‘08, there will not be much of a drift in terms of leaving Iraq. For those well intentioned people inside the party itself, there is no hope of penetrating the impermeable power structure within. Does one really expect the second most powerful corporate sponsored party in the country to abstain its newly given power, and potential to acquire more, by pulling out from a part of the world that holds key resources and valuable potential for new markets? Does one really expect it to deconstruct, even leave, the super-bases and embassy that costs billions to build, and which are near completion? Does one really expect the profit-making, runaway defense establishment to give up its entrenched governing power over the government? The prospect is unlikely. Such an action would require a political and social revolution that is unlikely to take place.

"The powers that be will continue to keep “American soldiers on Iraqi soil well into the century… [and use the state as] a platform… to launch new acts of aggression.”15 The goal is to control local resources and create a launching pad to further imperialist ambitions in the Middle East. Direct or indirect casualties are of no consequence as long as imperialist goals are met and sustained. We are not going anywhere, anytime soon, regardless of which party holds the reins of power.

Marines to Train at New Israeli Combat Center--Why Not? We US Taxpayers Paid for It

Usreal (or is it Israerica) combining efforts in the Global War Against Everyone but Themselves (GWAET). Read about it in the Marine Times here:

Courtesy Palestinian Pundit

"Lessons from Lebanon
"Located at the Tze’elim training base less than nine miles east of Rafah, a terrorist-ridden smugglers’ haven that straddles the Gaza-Egyptian border, Baladia naturally resembles the sandy, arid terrain of the Palestinian coastal strip. At the moment, however, Lebanon and Syria are the highest-priority threat theaters, and creative engineering is required to transform the area into what IDF officers here call “Hezbollahland.”


"BALADIA CITY, Israel — In a new, elaborate training center in the Negev desert, Israeli troops — and someday, U.S. Marines and soldiers — are preparing for the wide range of urban scenarios they may confront.

"Here, at Israel’s new National Urban Training Center, the Israeli Defense Force’s Ground Forces Command is preparing forces to fight in four theaters: Gaza, Lebanon, the West Bank and Syria.

"Built by the Army Corps of Engineers and funded largely from U.S. military aid, the 7.4-square-mile generic city — balad, in Arabic, means village — consists of 1,100 basic modules that can be reconfigured by mission planners to represent specific towns.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Lenin's Tomb--The War in Iraq

If you go to the above website, at the top (currently) you will find a disgusting video of an American airstrike on a house in Iraq. Contrast that video with these Iraqi resistance fighters--peace sign and all.

GEORGE GALLOWAY on How [Brit.] Ministers Are Shedding Crocodile Tears over Gaza

"The very last people in a position to say anything to bring a resolution between Hamas and Fatah are Israel and its allies, which have so transparently set out to destroy the government elected by the Palestinians in the occupied territories.

"They have fomented the divisions that erupted in Gaza this week, propping up the discredited presidency of Mahmoud Abbas, while, at the same time, refusing for so long to recognise the elected Hamas administration. It was a policy designed to tear apart Palestinian society and it has been ruthlessly conducted over the last three months following the Mecca agreement and formation of a government of national unity.

"Friends of the Palestinians here have a duty to expose the crocodile tears shed by British government ministers over what is happening in Gaza.

"If they truly wanted to do something dramatic to end the bloodshed in Gaza, they would demand that Israel free Marwan Barghouti, a figure with the stature to appeal successfully for unity. They would certainly stop hiding behind the discredited rump of Abbas, whom they have encouraged to be perceived as their cat's paw.

"While supporting all moves towards unity by the legitimate forces of Palestinian society, friends of Palestine here should do something else. We should recognise the intimate connections between the struggle in Palestine and the struggle against imperialism and exploitation across the Middle East.

"It means that every advance for the national resistance in Iraq or for the mass movement in Egypt against the US-backed dictator Mubarak is also an advance for the Palestinians.

"We need to do what we can here to assist those struggles. As part of that, everyone who cares about Palestine should be in Manchester next Sunday June 24 to join the Stop the War protest outside Gordon Brown's coronation as Labour leader.

"The fall of Blair creates a window for forcing a change in foreign policy. Only a fool would imagine that's easily achieved - only one who had succumbed to despair would imagine that it's impossible.

Northwest CEO Pay Rises 28% This Year--And It Was Already Outrageous

"Exorbitant CEO pay packages have drawn criticism from investors who say they too often coincide with lackluster performance and declining stock prices. They also are a hot-button issue with workers who point to studies showing U.S. income disparity is widening.

"The Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank in Washington, D.C., notes that if the minimum wage had risen at the same pace as CEO pay since 1990, it would be worth $22.61 an hour today. Instead, the federal minimum wage will rise to $5.85 July 24, the first increase in a decade.

"'We'd like to have more of a level playing field," said Washington state Treasurer Michael Murphy. "Yes, we do want to compensate CEOs, but not to the point that it's hundreds or even thousands times more than the rank and file."

"Murphy is a member of the Washington State Investment Board, which manages the investments of more than 35 public funds with $79 billion of assets. He supports the "say-on-pay" [awaiting US Senate passage] proposal as a way "to get back to normalcy."

Weyerhauser Got to Edit U.S. Letter Re: Owl Habitat

"The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offered a Weyerhaeuser Co. executive the opportunity to edit a letter the agency was sending the timber company regarding "concerns" about Weyerhaeuser logging harming spotted owls.

"And an internal Weyerhaeuser memo prepared for a meeting with a Bush administration official shows the company wants to do as little as possible to get environmentalists off its back while still cutting as much timber as possible.

"Those two documents emerged at a four-day hearing this week before U.S. District Judge Marsha Pechman of Seattle in which the Seattle Audubon Society attacked Weyerhaeuser's alleged transgressions of the Endangered Species Act.

"Audubon, calling government regulators too cozy with the timber industry, is asking the judge to halt Weyerhaeuser's logging near spotted owls. It also is asking her to restrict Washington Lands Commissioner Doug Sutherland's ability to approve logging on about 50,000 forested acres near where spotted owls have been seen. The land belongs to Weyerhaeuser and others.

"Unless the judge steps in to halt the logging before the case can go to a full trial in several years, Audubon attorney John Arum predicted, "The state will issue scores of permits ... and thousands of acres of this habitat will be destroyed."

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Israeli Apartheid is the Core of the Crisis--Oren Ben-Dor

"The truth is that there has virtually never been any real "left" in Israel. So-called left-wing Israelis share their right-wing compatriots' support for the state ideology.

"Any moral condemnation which restricts its ambit to the post-1967 occupation is at best simplistic, at worst misleading. By focusing on "the occupation", it serves to entrench the apartheid ideology which is central to the essence of the Israeli state.

"The economic and diplomatic boycott imposed on the elected Hamas government, which has resulted in the recent violence in Gaza, was intended to force it to accept Israeli apartheid. Only when the world is ready to call by its true name the premise upon which Israeli statehood is based, will it not take violence to advance a morally coherent and credible criticism of Israel.

"The denial of this core apartheid, of which the Gaza violence is a symptom, must stop. We should say it loud and clear. The apartheid system which lies at the core of Israeli statehood should be dismantled. It is unethical to rationalize the apartheid notion of a Jewish state. It is not consistent to be a friend of Israel, thereby endorsing its apartheid-based statehood, while criticising its apartheid practices in the Occupied Territories. Apartheid should have no sanctuary in any future vision of two states for historic Palestine.

"Only when this realization sinks in will it be possible to envision a stable political solution--a single state over all historic Palestine-- in which redress can be made for past injustices and equal citizenship provided for all, Arabs and Jews.

Senator Levin's Lies (He Is Definitely Not "Clueless" as the article says)

Sen. Carl Levin (D) is indicted in this article (

for pretending the Dems need a veto proof majority to stop funding the war. Remember he is also the Dem who cut habeas corpus rights away from the detainees in John McCain's so-called anti-torture bill. Instead the author points out that the Senate can stop giving Bush the money via a filibuster. Linda

"To secure the money to continue fighting the war, Bush is the one who needs majorities in both the House and the Senate. Indeed, arguably, he would need 60 votes in the Senate to end a filibuster if anti-war senators mounted one.

"More likely, however, if faced with a determined Democratic majority, Bush would have no choice but to seek a compromise in order to get at least some of what he wants.

"In other words, if the Democrats were to hold firm against giving Bush another blank check – as their leaders vowed to do in early 2007 – Bush would have to decide between accepting some strings, such as a withdrawal timetable, or getting no money at all, thus forcing an end to the war.


Besides Levin’s bogus history lesson, the five-term senator also seems to misunderstand how Congress works.

Having ruled out a termination of war funding, Levin suggests that the only viable course for ending the Iraq War is to convince enough Republicans to join Democrats in setting a date for withdrawing and repositioning U.S. forces.

“By setting a policy that begins with putting into law a timetable for starting a troop reduction, rather than trying to stop funding, we offer the best chance for stabilizing a country that we invaded while also sending the message to our troops that, even though we oppose the President’s policy, we are united behind them,” Levin wrote.

Levin also noted that support for a withdrawal timetable “has grown steadily,” attracting 51 votes – including two Republicans – in April 2007, rising from 39 votes in June 2006 and 48 in March 2007.

By contrast, he observed, that in May, only 29 senators – all Democrats – voted against giving Bush the $100 billion that he demanded with virtually no strings attached. Levin joined the majority in voting the blank check, which many anti-war Democrats viewed as a betrayal and a capitulation.

Referring to the 29 no votes, Levin added, “that’s a long way from the 60 votes needed to end a filibuster or the 67 needed to override a veto.”

But Levin’s logic is wrong again. While his proposal – to impose a troop withdrawal deadline – would require 60 votes to stop a Republican filibuster and then would need 67 votes to overcome Bush’s certain veto, the same is not true for a war-funding cut-off.

To secure the money to continue fighting the war, Bush is the one who needs majorities in both the House and the Senate. Indeed, arguably, he would need 60 votes in the Senate to end a filibuster if anti-war senators mounted one.

More likely, however, if faced with a determined Democratic majority, Bush would have no choice but to seek a compromise in order to get at least some of what he wants.

In other words, if the Democrats were to hold firm against giving Bush another blank check – as their leaders vowed to do in early 2007 – Bush would have to decide between accepting some strings, such as a withdrawal timetable, or getting no money at all, thus forcing an end to the war.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Army Officer Says Gitmo Panels Flawed

"SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- An Army officer with a key role in the U.S. military hearings at Guantanamo Bay says they relied on vague and incomplete intelligence and were pressured to declare detainees "enemy combatants," often without any specific evidence.

"His affidavit, released Friday, is the first criticism by a member of the military panels that determine whether detainees will continue to be held.

"Lt. Col. Stephen Abraham, a 26-year veteran of military intelligence who is an Army reserve officer and a California lawyer, said military prosecutors were provided with only "generic" material that didn't hold up to the most basic legal challenges.

"Despite repeated requests, intelligence agencies arbitrarily refused to provide specific information that could have helped either side in the tribunals, according to Abraham, who said he served as a main liaison between the Combat Status Review Tribunals and those intelligence agencies.

"'What were purported to be specific statements of fact lacked even the most fundamental earmarks of objectively credible evidence," Abraham said in the affidavit, filed in a Washington appeals court on behalf of a Kuwaiti detainee, Fawzi al-Odah, who is challenging his classification as an "enemy combatant."

"Abraham "bravely" agreed to provide the affidavit when defense lawyers contacted him, said al-Odah attorney David Cynamon.

"'It proves what we all suspected, which is that the CSRTs were a complete sham," he said.
Matthew J. MacLean, another al-Odah lawyer, said Abraham is the first member of a Combat Status Review Tribunal panel who has been identified, let alone been willing to criticize the tribunals in the public record.

Tip of the Iceberg?

If this is what they tell us about, you know there is a lot more still hidden. Linda

Whole article here:
Found on The Progressive Review

"On December 31, 1974, CIA director Colby and the CIA general counsel John Warner met with the deputy attorney general, Lawrence Silberman, and his associate, James Wilderotter, to brief Justice "in connection with the recent New York Times articles" on CIA matters that "presented legal questions." Colby's list included 18 specifics:

1. Confinement of a Russian defector that "might be regarded as a violation of the kidnapping laws."
2. Wiretapping of two syndicated columnists, Robert Allen and Paul Scott.
3. Physical surveillance of muckraker Jack Anderson and his associates, including current Fox News anchor Brit Hume.
4. Physical surveillance of then Washington Post reporter Michael Getler.
5. Break-in at the home of a former CIA employee.
6. Break-in at the office of a former defector.
7. Warrantless entry into the apartment of a former CIA employee.
8. Mail opening from 1953 to 1973 of letters to and from the Soviet Union.
9. Mail opening from 1969 to 1972 of letters to and from China.
10. Behavior modification experiments on "unwitting" U.S. citizens.
11. Assassination plots against Castro, Lumumba, and Trujillo (on the latter, "no active part" but a "faint connection" to the killers).
12. Surveillance of dissident groups between 1967 and 1971.
13. Surveillance of a particular Latin American female and U.S. citizens in Detroit.
14. Surveillance of a CIA critic and former officer, Victor Marchetti.
15. Amassing of files on 9,900-plus Americans related to the antiwar movement.
16. Polygraph experiments with the San Mateo, California, sheriff.
17. Fake CIA identification documents that might violate state laws.
18. Testing of electronic equipment on US telephone circuits.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Congress Approval Rating at 14%

DePaul Students Turn Graduation Into Protest--Supporting Norman Finkelstein

Great to see young people standing for their principles. Go here to read whole article and watch video:

"CHICAGO -- DePaul University's recent decision to deny tenure to two professors prompted some students to take a stand in their defense at Sunday's graduation.

"During the ceremony, some students held up signs in favor of the professors, Norman Finkelstein and Mehrene Larudee. Some students also refused to shake DePaul's president the Rev. Dennis Holtschneider's hand and turned their backs to him while he gave the closing remarks.

"Finkelstein, who has taught in the political science department at DePaul since 2001, became a controversial figure for his criticism of Israel and for accusing some Jews of exploiting the Holocaust for monetary gain. He has published many books, including "The Holocaust Industry" and Beyond Chutzpah".

"Finkelstein also engaged in a public feud with Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, best known as one of the defense lawyers in the O.J. Simpson murder trial. Dershowitz wrote faculty members at DePaul urging them to vote against Finkelstein's tenure.

"Finkelstein released a statement to the protesting students, saying: "This University must acknowledge and reverse the terrible mistake it has made. For an institution of higher learning to act so blatantly against academic freedom is a sad commentary on the state of our nation."

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

U.S. Special Ops Knew They Were Bombing Kids; Considered Their Lives Expendable

"U.S. special operations forces were targeting the leader of al-Qaida in Afghanistan — one of the organization's top commanders — when they launched an attack against a compound that killed seven children Sunday in Paktika province of eastern Afghanistan, U.S. officials tell NBC News.

"According to several officials, and contrary to previous statements, the U.S. military knew there were children at the compound but considered the target of such high value it was worth the risk of potential collateral damage.

"Those same officials tell NBC News the target of Sunday's attack was Abu Laith al Libi, the al-Qaida commander in Afghanistan and a top lieutenant of Osama bin Laden. The sources report that although six sets of remains besides those of the seven children were recovered, it's not clear whether Abu Laith is among those killed.

West Choses Fatah, But Palestinians Don't

I used to say "Cindy speaks for me." I cannot say that anymore, since she has really gone into retreat.

Now I say Saree Makdisi speaks for me; at least she does here in this LA Times opinion piece on Palestine/Israel. To read the whole thing, go here:,0,2672122.story?coll=la-opinion-center

The sum up is below:

"Has Hamas done unspeakable things? Yes, but so has Fatah, and so too has Israel (on a much larger scale). There are no saints in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"Palestinians, frankly, see a lot of hypocrisy in the West's anti-Hamas stance. Since last year's election, for example, the West has denied aid to the Hamas government, arguing, among other things, that Hamas refuses to recognize Israel. But that's absurd; after all, Israel does not recognize Palestine either. Hamas is accused of not abiding by previous agreements. But Israel's suspension of tax revenue transfers to the Palestinian Authority, and its refusal to implement a Gaza-West Bank road link agreement brokered by the U.S. in November 2005, are practical, rather than merely rhetorical, violations of previous agreements, causing infinitely more damage to ordinary people. Hamas is accused of mixing religion and politics, but no one has explained why its version of that mixture is any worse than Israel's — or why a Jewish state is acceptable but a Muslim one is not.

"I am a secular humanist, and I personally find religiously identified political movements — and states — unappealing, to say the least.

"But let's be honest. Hamas did not run into Western opposition because of its Islamic ideology but because of its opposition to (and resistance to) the Israeli occupation.

"A genuine peace based on the two-state solution would require an end to the Israeli occupation and the creation of a territorially contiguous, truly independent Palestinian state.

"But that is not happening. Fatah seems to have given up, its leaders preferring to rest comfortably with the power they already have. Ironically, it is Hamas that is taking the stands that would be prerequisites for a true two-state peace plan: refusing to go along with the permanent breakup of Palestine and not accepting the sacrifice of control over borders, airspace, water, taxes and even the population registry to Israel.

"Embracing the "moderation" of Abbas allows the Palestinian Authority to resume servicing the occupation on Israel's behalf, for now. In the long run, though, the two-state solution is finished because Fatah is either unable or unwilling to stop the ongoing dismemberment of the territory once intended for a Palestinian state.

"The only realistic choice remaining will be the one between a single democratic, secular state offering equal rights for both Israelis and Palestinians — or permanent apartheid.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Boeing Defence Chief Says: "Keep Spending High"

If you had any doubts about what our good neighbor, Boeing, is up to, read this very revealing article from the Financial Times. It quotes Boeing's defense chief urging congress that they need to keep the defense funds flowing to combat the GWOT and/or China. Whole article can be found here:
Make no mistake about it. Defense contractors are out for blood, literally. And our gov't is their main dealer. Linda

"The Boeing defence chief said he could afford to be "pretty objective" because his company was protected by its booming passenger jet business, unlike defence industry rivals.

"Several high-profile Boeing projects face substantial cuts during the current round of budget negotiations in the Senate and Congress.

"These include the $200bn Future Combat Systems programme to modernise the US army's battlefield equipment, the controversial US missile defence system, and an airborne laser weapon.

"US defence spending needs to be kept at record levels to cope with the continued threat of global terrorism and the emergence of China as a military rival, the head of Boeing's defence business has warned.

"Speaking ahead of the Paris Air Show this week, Jim Albaugh forecast a slowdown in the Pentagon budget but warned that a decline would leave the country relying on old and worn-out weapons after recent conflicts.

"'The question is what happens when we come out of Iraq and Afghanistan and the supplementals [additional payments used to fund the wars] start to dry up," he said.

"'Right now it's a lot different to after the end of the cold war. Then the threat really went away and the equipment for the most part was new."

"Mr Albaugh's assessment of the future defence budget is bleaker than that of his biggest rival, Bob Stevens, chief executive of Lockheed Martin.

"The Boeing defence chief said he could afford to be "pretty objective" because his company was protected by its booming passenger jet business, unlike defence industry rivals.

"Several high-profile Boeing projects face substantial cuts during the current round of budget negotiations in the Senate and Congress.

"These include the $200bn Future Combat Systems programme to modernise the US army's battlefield equipment, the controversial US missile defence system, and an airborne laser weapon.

Why the Nation Remains Silent on Cindy Sheehan's Departure from the Democratic Party

"Sheehan continued: “How can you [Democratic congress people] even go to sleep at night or look at yourselves in a mirror? How do you put behind you the screaming mothers on both sides of the conflict? How does the agony you have created escape you?... It used to be George Bush’s war. You could have ended it honorably. Now it is yours...”

"These were strong words.

"In an interview May 30 on Amy Goodman’s “Democracy Now!” radio program, Sheehan commented, “And if we don’t get a viable third party—or some people say second party; you know, the Democrats and Republicans are so similar, and their pockets are lined by the same people ... our representative republic is doomed, where George Bush has assumed all the powers to himself and Congress has given him those powers. And we really need an opposition party in this country.”

"The silence of the left liberals about Sheehan’s statements indicates a crisis. She can say what is, honestly, openly; they cannot.

"The response in these quarters has been largely to ignore Sheehan’s repudiation of the Democratic Party, while offering her condescending praise. Nichols has led the way in this effort. He has posted two pieces on the Nation’s web site: “Cindy Sheehan Calls It Quits” (posted May 29) and “Cindy Sheehan’s Farewell” (posted May 31 and published in the June 17 edition of the magazine). Both pieces refer to and cite only Sheehan’s May 28 statement, “Good Riddance, Attention Whore,” in which she expressed weariness and some bitterness over her experiences in the antiwar movement and declared that she was stepping back from her activities.

"Isn’t it, by any objective standard, politically dishonest of Nichols not to make mention of Sheehan’s explicit repudiation of the Democratic Party? Why is it that the Nation’s correspondent cannot bring himself to discuss her desire to break irrevocably with the Democrats?

"Obviously, in the first place, because he doesn’t share her view. Nichols makes oblique references to those disagreements in his “Cindy Sheehan’s Farewell” piece. He calls her “an honest player who spoke her mind—sometimes intemperately, often imperfectly, always sincerely—and backed up her words with actions.”

"Nichols carries on in the same patronizing vein, labeling Sheehan a “Jeffersonian Democrat in the best sense of that term” (Nichols should tell us what he considers himself), and adding, “It is reasonable to argue with Sheehan about her read of politics and assessment of politicians. She’s the first to admit she’s no expert on campaign strategy or legislative tactics.”

"Nichols may hope that Sheehan’s “intemperate” and “imperfect” comments about resigning from the Democratic Party will be forgotten and she will come back into the fold. Whatever the calculations may be, his inability to defend support for the Democrats demonstrates an extraordinary lack of political self-confidence. It is, however, understandable. The willingness of the congressional Democrats, after months of playing games over the issue, to provide Bush with the funds necessary to carry on the criminal conflict in Iraq was a watershed. Sheehan drew certain conclusions, and she was not alone.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Whither Gaza

As an antidote to the helpless whining I identified with below in Pepe Escobar's piece, read Prof. Ilan Pappe's encouraging analysis (a portion below) "Towards the Geography of Peace: Whither Gaza." Pappe urges us to press forward with the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction campaign against the Israeli occupier of Palestine. While Hamas was backed into a corner by Fatah and its patrons, we are not. We can and should move without violence to end the tragedy. The whole article is here, on Electronic Intifada: via Palestinian Pundit

"But one cannot condemn the means if one does not offer an alternative. Standing idle while the American-Israeli vision of strangling the Strip to death, cleansing half of the West bank from its indigenous population and threatening the rest of the Palestinians -- inside Israel and in the other parts of the West Bank -- with transfer, is not an option. It is tantamount to "decent" people’s silence during the Holocaust.

"We should not tire from mentioning the alternative in the 21st century: BDS -- Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions -- as an emergency measure -- far more effective and far less violent -- in opposing the present destruction of Palestine. And at the same time talk openly, convincingly and efficiently, of creating the geography of peace. A geography in which abnormal phenomena such as the imprisonment of small portion of the land would disappear. There will be no more, in the vision we should push forward, a human prison camp called the Gaza strip where some armed inmates are easily pitted against each other by a callous warden. Instead that area would return to be an organic part of an Eastern Mediterranean country that has always offered the best as a meeting point between East and West.

"Never before, in the light of the Gaza tragedy, has the twofold strategy of BDS and a one state solution, shined so clearly as the only alternative forward. If any of us are members in Palestine solidarity groups, Arab-Jewish dialogue circles or part of civil society's effort to bring peace and reconciliation to Palestine -- this is a time to put aside all the false strategies of coexistence, road maps and two states solutions. They have been and still are sweet music to the ears of the Israeli demolition team that threatens to destroy what is left of Palestine. Beware especially of Diet Zionists or Cloest Zionists, who recently joined the campaign, in Britain and elsewhere against the BDS effort. Like those enlightened pundits who used liberal organs in the United Kingdom, such as The Guardian, to explain to us at length how dangerous is the proposed academic boycott on Israel. They have never expended so much time, energy or words on the occupation itself as they did in the service of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine. UNISON, Britain’s large public service trade union, must not be deterred by this backlash and it should follow these brave academics who endorsed the debate on the boycott, as should Europe as a whole: not only for the sake of Palestine and Israel, but also if it wishes to bring a closure to the Holocaust chapter in its history.

Levitate the Pentagon--Pepe Escobar

This article matches my mood--and probably the mood of many people. The last portion is below. Read the whole thing here:

From the Asia Times via Palestinian Pundit

"Power to the people

"Forty years after the levitation of the Pentagon, there's no "democracy" to speak of anywhere. This is a plutocratic world. There's no formidable push to change the world for the better anywhere - but there are already rumblings of repressed anger from all corners of the global South, capable of exploding like a thousand volcanoes.

"Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek evaluates how hard it is today to think of a credible alternative to the current system: "Thanks to all these Hollywood movies and the catastrophic scenarios depicted by ecologists, it is easier today to imagine a total catastrophe destroying all life on Earth than a radical change in social life. In sum, an asteroid touches the Earth, but capitalism survives."

"In 1967, the Pentagon did not engage in liftoff. It did not turn pink. But the 1967 levitation ceremony at least gave the world the indelible poetic metaphor of a rose down the barrel of a M16 - and the flowers dropping from the helmets of trembling 21-year-old soldiers. The Pentagon was humbled, anyway. It was - at least metaphorically - levitated. And the US - losing any intellectual support from its elites - started losing the war on Southeast Asians for good. It was a triumph of the human imagination over heavy-metal greed. Can US public opinion - or at least the iPod generation - muster the will, the commitment and the courage to do it all over again?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Save the Scooter--James Carville

Another Day in the Empire (Kurt Nimmo) fingers Democrat operative James Carville's efforts to help Scooter Libby avoid jail. He opines (and I agree) that this evidence is another brick in the mounting wall of evidence that there is no difference between the Damns and the Repugs. Read it all here: (portion below)

"Indeed, the usual—and not so usual—suspects, insiders all, have come out of the woodwork to defend Scooter. Justin, however, fails to mention one particular culprit: James Carville, former Clinton campaign manager and husband of Mary Matalin, Bush assistant. “Though my husband James Carville, a Democratic Strategist and Clinton supporter, shares neither political nor philosophical views with Scooter, he has deep respect for his intellect, his integrity, and joins me in the sentiments expressed here,” Matalin effuses in a letter sent to Judge Walton. “One of the many enduring and endearing memories of Scooter is his universal love of families…. I have seen what this trial has done to my own kids, just reading about it.”

"Of course, this “universal love” has nothing to do with Iraqi families, now suffering under weight of invasion, occupation, mass murder, and slow death by way of depleted uranium and other toxins, courtesy of the Scooter and crew. Naturally, psychopaths of Scooter’s caliber are incapable of “universal love,” except for themselves. Matalin ’s letter, and those of her compatriots, or rather co-conspirators, serve only to blow smoke up a certain orifice, as factotums for the elite consider themselves beyond the law. Imagine their outrage when one of their ranks is offered up as a sacrifice and scapegoat.

"Kos the Democrat makes mention of this funny business: Carville, the blogger notes, is “not pretending to be a disinterested political observer lauding Hillary Clinton on CNN. Let’s see what company he’s in: Donald Rumsfeld, Henry Kissinger, Paul Wolfowitz, John Bolton, Richard Perle, and Douglas Feith.” In short, even the most obtuse Democrat and Clinton worshipper should realize there is absolutely no difference between Democrats and Republicans. One might expect an excoriation of the “Jackass” party from Mr. Kos, but mild criticism seems to suffice, as the point here is not to lambaste the blue side of the property party too severely. No need to drag Howard Dean, Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and Steny Hoyer into the fray, never mind they are as complicit in the murder of 700,000 or more Iraqis as Scooter and the most reprehensible neocon.

Mike Whitney--The Battle of Gaza

"June 16, 2007

"In less than 24 hours of fierce street-fighting, Bush’s proxy-army in Gaza was routed by armed units of Hamas. It was a stunning defeat for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and for US-Israeli policymakers who have done everything in their power to overturn the "free and fair" election of the Hamas government. For now, Hamas has reestablished its authority in Gaza although Abbas is still working frantically with Bush and Olmert to consolidate his power in the West Bank. So far, Abbas has carried out the demands of his paymasters by replacing Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh with ex-World Bank official, Salam Fayyad---a Palestinian Karzai who will take his orders from Tel Aviv or Washington. Abbas does not have the constitutional authority to replace Prime Minister Haniyeh or to disband the Hamas-dominated government, but this point is typically overlooked in the western media.

"The Bush administration has abandoned any pretense of neutrality and is openly supporting the ongoing violation of UN resolution 242. Bush helped to engineer the savage boycott which has withheld food, water, medical aid and financial resources from Palestinian civilians. He has also funneled millions of dollars and weapons to the Palestinian "Preventive Security Force" headed by US-ally Mohammad Dahlan. According to the UK Guardian, "Washington has launched a controversial $60 million program to bolster Mr Abbas's presidential guard and Israel has quietly allowed Arab states to send in arms and ammunition". Dahlan’s militia was organized to challenge Hamas, but the plan failed spectacularly. As soon as the fighting broke out in Gaza, Dahlan’s men panicked and fled across the border to Egypt. Those who remained were disarmed, stripped and taken into custody by Hamas. One prominent Fatah gunman, Samih Madhoun, who had boasted of "executing several Hamas fighters and torching the homes of others", was shot execution style.

"The defeat in Gaza is just the latest of Washington’s debacles in the Middle East. US-Israeli failures in the territories are the result of a misguided policy which is backfiring everywhere. Investigative journalist Seymour Hersh summed up the present policy like this: "We're in the business of creating ... sectarian violence."

"Hersh is right. Bush and Olmert are using the familiar "divide and conquer" strategy to provoke "Arab on Arab" violence. The policy is an extension of Henry Kissinger’s dictum during the Iran-Iraq war: "I hope they all kill each other". The goal is the same today as it was then.

From via Palestinian Pundit

Tom Toles Has U.S.'s Number

Found on Palestinian Pundit

Saturday, June 16, 2007

U.S.: If At First We Don't Succeed, Keep Trying Into Infinity

BAGHDAD (AP) - The U.S. military, which just days ago completed its latest troop buildup in Iraq, has launched a large offensive operation in several al-Qaida strongholds around Baghdad, the top U.S. commander said Saturday.

Gen. David Petraeus said the operation began in the last 24 hours, and will put forces into key areas surrounding Baghdad that, according to intelligence, al-Qaida is using to base some of it car bomb operations.

Israel: Selling Fences to An Apartheid Planet--Naomi Klein

"So in a way [Thomas] Friedman is right, Israel has struck oil. But the oil isn't the imagination of its techie entrepreneurs. The oil is the war on terror, the state of constant fear that creates a bottomless global demand for devices that watch, listen, contain and target "suspects". And fear, it turns out, is the ultimate renewable resource."

Found this article on Angry Arab Newservice. Another example of corporate war money making the world go 'round. Whole article [portion below] from Guardian paper here:,,2104439,00.html


"Gaza in the hands of Hamas, with masked militants sitting in the president's chair; the West Bank on the edge; Israeli army camps hastily assembled in the Golan Heights; a spy satellite over Iran and Syria; war with Hizbullah a hair trigger away; a scandal-plagued political class facing a total loss of public faith. At a glance, things aren't going well for Israel. But here's a puzzle: why, in the midst of such chaos and carnage, is the Israeli economy booming like it's 1999, with a roaring stock market and growth rates nearing China's?

"Thomas Friedman recently offered his theory in the New York Times. Israel "nurtures and rewards individual imagination", and so its people are constantly spawning ingenious hi-tech start-ups, no matter what messes their politicians are making. After perusing class projects by students in engineering and computer science at Ben-Gurion University, Friedman made one of his famous fake-sense pronouncements. Israel "had discovered oil". This oil, apparently, is located in the minds of Israel's "young innovators and venture capitalists", who are too busy making megadeals with Google to be held back by politics.

"Here's another theory. Israel's economy isn't booming despite the political chaos that devours the headlines but because of it. This phase of development dates back to the mid-90s, when the country was in the vanguard of the information revolution - the most tech-dependent economy in the world. After the dotcom bubble burst in 2000, Israel's economy was devastated, facing its worst year since 1953. Then came 9/11, and suddenly new profit vistas opened up for any company that claimed it could spot terrorists in crowds, seal borders from attack, and extract confessions from closed-mouthed prisoners.

"Within three years, large parts of Israel's tech economy had been radically repurposed. Put in Friedmanesque terms, Israel went from inventing the networking tools of the "flat world" to selling fences to an apartheid planet. Many of the country's most successful entrepreneurs are using Israel's status as a fortressed state, surrounded by furious enemies, as a kind of 24-hour-a-day showroom, a living example of how to enjoy relative safety amid constant war. And the reason Israel is now enjoying supergrowth is that those companies are busily exporting that model to the world.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Free the Siege

Mission Statement

We want to break the siege of Gaza. We want to raise international awareness about the prison-like closure of the Gaza Strip and pressure the international community to review its sanctions policy and end its support for continued Israeli occupation. We want to uphold Palestine's right to welcome internationals as visitors, human rights observers, humanitarian aid workers, journalists, or otherwise.

Who are we?
We are these human rights observers, aid workers, and journalists. We have years of experience volunteering in Gaza and the West Bank at the invitation of Palestinians. But now, because of the increasing stranglehold of Israel's illegal occupation of Palestine, many of us find it almost impossible to enter Gaza, and an increasing number have been refused entry to Israel and the West Bank as well. Despite the great need for our work, the Israeli Government will not allow us in to do it.

We are of all ages and backgrounds. Back home, we are teachers, medics, musicians, secretaries, parents, grandparents, lawyers, students, activists, actors, playwrites, politicians, singer-songwriters, webdesigners, international training consultants, and even a former Hollywood film industry worker and an aviator. We are South African, Australian, American, English, Israeli, Palestinian, and more.
What are we going to do?
We've tried to enter Palestine by land. We've tried to arrive by air. Now we're getting serious. We're taking a ship.

It Can [Has] Happen[ed] Here

"It is not only that the United States has swept people off the streets and held them in secret overseas prisons where, by many credible accounts, they were tortured. Now a collaboration of six domestic and international human rights groups has concluded that 39 of those who were in U.S. custody at one time or another since the 9/11 attacks still are unaccounted for. These are not the 14 “high-value detainees” transferred in the past few months to the military penal colony at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. No one knows where these 39 are—or if they are still alive. "They are missing. Or, in the language of international law, they have undergone a “forced disappearance.”

"At some point, the list of the missing included at least three minors—two of them the children of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, mastermind of the 9/11 attacks. “We don’t have any information that the children are still in custody, and I really don’t think they are,” says Joanne Mariner, terrorism and counterterrorism director for Human Rights Watch and one of the authors of the report. Wives also were detained. Their fate also is unknown, Mariner said in an interview, though it is likely they are living among relatives somewhere.

"The rights groups compiled the list by examining accounts the United States gave when it acknowledged having a person in custody, eliminating those whose whereabouts later were disclosed. Investigators looked at names some members of Congress had placed in the Congressional Record last year as “terrorists no longer a threat”—though no official definition of that term was given. They reviewed public pronouncements—often made by the Pakistani government—that a terrorism suspect had been turned over to the United States. And they pored over accounts of former detainees who said they’d seen a certain individual while in detention, and compared this account with other bits and pieces of evidence.

"It is unknown whether the missing remain in some secret U.S.-run facility, or were transferred to foreign governments whose security apparatuses routinely practice secret detention and torture. It is not known if they are dead or alive.

When Will We Finally Pull the Plug on the Mess in Iraq--Baltimore Sun

"On the last day of May - which ended the deadliest six-month period of the entire war, with a total of 586 American fatalities - retired Army Gen. Barry R. McCaffrey warned a National Public Radio audience that things could get worse. “The bottom line: It’s hard not to imagine the next 90 days not being a period of the most intense struggle seen yet in Iraq,” he said.

"Those are just the past, present and future American losses. The escalation has also failed to make the locals safer.

“'The evidence does not suggest that the surge is actually working, if reduction in casualties is a criterion,” Alastair Campbell, the former defense attaché at the British Embassy in Iraq, confessed upon leaving his post a few weeks ago. “The figures in April were not encouraging.”

Since the start of the war, tens of thousands of Iraqis have died, with one study putting the figure at more than 650,000, and countless others have been blinded, disfigured, lost limbs or been irrevocably wounded in some way. An estimated 4 million Iraqis are refugees in their own country or in neighboring Syria and Jordan.

"To put that into perspective, consider that Iraq’s population is about one-eleventh the size of America’s. Equivalent totals for the United States would be 7 million dead, millions permanently wounded, and 44 million displaced from their homes or disconnected from their families.

If that were the situation here, would we call it anything other than a humanitarian crisis?

The Israeli Way of Torture

Found this story from Haaretz Israeli paper on When I was doing Palestine educational work at Westlake a couple years ago, I met some Israeli soldiers. They said they were training soldiers at Ft. Lewis. Was this the stuff they were teaching them? Whole story here:

"After two hours of talking they said to me: If you don't give everything you have, we will have to take it by a different way. What is the different way? Did you hear of a military interrogation? You might leave here with your body battered or crippled. I was taken to a military interrogation. Here you pray to God that you will die, they said, but we won't give you that. We will let you die only after you spill out what we are looking for. He gave me a prison uniform and I told him that if I was going to die, I preferred my own clothes."

"They sat me down on a square chair without a back, which was attached to the floor and had sharp metal ends [sticking up]. My legs were tied to the legs of the chair with metal cuffs and my hands were tied behind my back with metal cuffs. One interrogator sat behind me and the other in front of me. The interrogator opposite me said: We have to give you a little sports, so you will be able to hold out in the military interrogation. The sports was that they pushed me backward by the chest, a backward somersault, and I would hold myself so my bones would not break. After a minute or two I would automatically fall on the floor, but the interrogator behind me would put his foot on my chest and press, and the interrogator in front would grab my hands and pull and pull behind the chair. They kept on like that until I don't know what happened to me, heat in every part of my body, puking everything I had in my stomach and it would go into my nostrils. I would wake up when they poured water on my face. When I woke up, we went back to the same situation. It went on like this 15-20 times an hour."

"After that they made me crouch on my toes, not letting me lean on the back of my foot. I was in that position for 40-50 minutes, maybe an hour - that was my estimate - until I felt my soles swelling and they turned blue and there was tremendous pain. After that, stand up, and they tied my hands and pressed as hard as they could on the metal handcuffs until the metal dug into my hand. Here are the signs, you can still see them. Because of the pressure, the key of the handcuffs didn't always work and they would bring huge metal scissors, like they use in construction, and tear off the handcuffs and then bring new ones, to go on. The color of my hands changed to blue, and when they opened [the handcuffs] my hands shook. The interrogator stood on the table and pulled me with a chain of handcuffs. When I fell, they pulled me by the hair.

"'I would cry, beg, shout, and they came back to me with words, that it was impossible to stop, only after you start talking about what we want. I said to them: Tell me what you want. Tell me I am responsible for the attack on the Pentagon, I am ready to confess to everything, just tell me what. I want to end this death."