Monday, April 30, 2007

Former Intelligence Officials Hold Ex-CIA Chief George Tenet's Feet to the Fire

Anyone who watched 60 Minutes last night saw Tenet's whining complaints that he was the victim of nefarious evildoers in the administration. This letter from intelligence folks (including Ray McGovern) who have been screaming bloody murder about the Iraq war fiasco sets the record straight on who the victims were here. Linda

"Curiously, you focus your anger on the likes of Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, and Condi Rice, but you decline to criticize the President. Mr. Tenet, as head of the intelligence community, you failed to use your position of power and influence to protect the intelligence process and, more importantly, the country. What should you have done? What could you have done? For starters, during the critical summer and fall of 2002, you could have gone to key Republicans and Democrats in the Congress and warned them of the pressure. But you remained silent.

"Your candor during your one-on-one with Sir Richard Dearlove, then-head of British Intelligence, of July 20, 2002 provides documentary evidence that you knew exactly what you were doing; namely, "fixing" the intelligence to the policy. By your silence you helped build the case for war. You betrayed the CIA officers who collected the intelligence that made it clear that Saddam did not pose an imminent threat. You betrayed the analysts who tried to withstand the pressure applied by Cheney and Rumsfeld.

"Most importantly and tragically, you failed to meet your obligations to the people of the United States. Instead of resigning in protest, when it could have made a difference in the public debate, you remained silent and allowed the Bush Administration to cite your participation in these deliberations to justify their decision to go to war. Your silence contributed to the willingness of the public to support the disastrous war in Iraq, which has killed more than 3300 Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.
"
If you are committed to correcting the record about your past failings then you should start by returning the Medal of Freedom you willingly received from President Bush in December 2004. You claim it was given only because of the war on terror, but you were standing next to General Tommy Franks and L. Paul Bremer, who also contributed to the disaster in Iraq. President Bush said that you "played pivotal roles in great events, and [your] efforts have made our country more secure and advanced the cause of human liberty."

Found on Cursor.org

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Rick Anderson's (Seattle) New Book: "Home Front--The Gov'ts War on Soldiers

From a book review:


"The priority is profits for the military-industrial complex (MIC) over the lives of servicemen and women. War is profitable for the MIC. Faulty equipment, manufacturing and construction delays, and overcharging of the military tend to be readily forgiven. As mergers have proliferated, the competition among military suppliers has diminished, and the military’s hands have become tied. "Ultimately," writes Anderson, "troop lives depend on less accountable suppliers to provide reliable products."

"The unrelenting resistances in Iraq and Afghanistan point to an inescapable conclusion: that capitalism is consuming itself. Neoliberal policies like privatization threaten the MIC and the military-bound US economy.

*******Article ends with...

"Certainly, disparaging the people who unknowingly or gullibly serve a wicked regime is not the answer. The answer must lie in informing potential military recruitees and the general public of the evil of the MIC and warmongering. Anderson’s books should be flogged side-by-side every military recruitment center and recruitment fair booth. Every high school should have several copies readily available for students. If people are to "volunteer" for military service, they should be fully aware of what they are getting themselves into. Will this stop enlistment? Certainly not. Many people will still succumb to the intelligence-defying devotion to patriotic sentiment that Anderson described of Jon Ireland. Patriots should ponder that their own irrational devotion to a geopolitical entity is an equally valid sentiment for the designated "enemy."

"The purpose is not for the government and Veterans Affairs to adhere to the responsibility to care for servicemen and women. That would allow the scourge of war to continue. It would allow an unrestrained military superpower to continue its serial violations of Nuremberg Law. No, the ultimate aim must be to throw a wrench into the MIC and shut it down. The ultimate aim must be peace.

Found on Uruknet.info

Friday, April 27, 2007

Iraqis Find Security Wall is Becoming Real Barrier--Alistair Lyon

Photo: Iraqi Shiite men take part in a protest against the building of a wall in Adhamiyah neighborhood by U.S military on April 25, 2007 in the Sadr city Shiite neighborhood in Baghdad, Iraq. Wathiq Khuzaie/AFP/Getty [Wall going up anyway. So much for "democracy" - dancewater]
FROM IRAQ TODAY WEBSITE


"A US military project to wall off a Sunni Arab enclave in Baghdad evokes images of Israel's West Bank barrier for many Iraqis who believe the plan will widen sectarian rifts tearing their capital asunder.Alistair Lyon Friday, April 27, 2007A US military project to wall off a Sunni Arab enclave in Baghdad evokes images of Israel's West Bank barrier for many Iraqis who believe the plan will widen sectarian rifts tearing their capital asunder.

"Physically sealing Adhamiya and other troubled areas may have a fleeting impact on the level of bloodshed, analysts said. But it will further fray the social fabric of a city that has ripped very roughly into a Shiite east and Sunni west.

"'All of this is trying to find solutions to violence short of what is actually required, which is to find a political compromise between all the groups," said Joost Hiltermann, a senior International Crisis Group analyst in Amman.

"'I know the Americans are trying to suppress violence in order to bring people to the table, but I see no real effort to bring people to the table."

"US soldiers began erecting the five-kilometer barrier of 3.5-meter-high concrete blocks around Adhamiya, hemmed in on three sides by Shiite districts, April 10. Their plan is to create at least five "gated communities" in Baghdad.

"Local protests and a political outcry prompted Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki Sunday to order the scheme halted, but US officials have defended it and its fate is unclear.

From Lenin's Tomb--who has a trenchant comment on the wall:

"As Simon Assaf rightly points out, the wall is being built around a stronghold of anti-occupation resistance in a fashion similar to the carving up of Fallujah after it was destroyed by two successive American attacks. It has nothing to do with protecting the people that America wishes to crush. There have already been protests about this in Adhamiya, but Sadr has called for a mass protest against this "sectarian, racist and unjust wall that seeks to divide" Iraqis, a hugely positive step. Unity over this crucial battle could ironically have the effect of substantially undermining the sectarian political dynamics supported by the US and its client-regime."

Left I on the News Goes Birding

" South Padre Island is in the extreme southeastern tip of Texas, just slightly to the north of where the Rio Grande empties into the Gulf of Mexico. As such it, like nearby areas of Texas like Brownsville, forms the northernmost limit of some tropical species, that is, the only place in the United States where some southern species make it across the border."

Ginsburg's Dissent May Yet Prevail--Cass Sunstein--LA Times

This is the most hopeful thing I've read lately. I believe abortion rights should be based on equality. Women do have the right to make decisions about their own bodies; just as men do.
Linda

"In 1985, Ginsburg, then a federal appeals court judge, argued in a law review article that the court should have emphasized "a woman's autonomous charge of her full life's course." Citing decisions on sex equality, she contended that Roe vs. Wade was "weakened … by the opinion's concentration on a medically approved autonomy idea, to the exclusion of a constitutionally based sex-equality perspective."

"In this week's case, Ginsburg, now the only woman on the court, attempted to re-conceive the foundations of the abortion right, basing it on well-established constitutional principles of equality. Borrowing from her 1985 argument, she said that legal challenges to restrictions on abortion procedures "do not seek to vindicate some generalized notion of privacy; rather, they center on a woman's autonomy to determine her life's course, and thus to enjoy equal citizenship stature."

"For Ginsburg, this alternative understanding of the right to choose has concrete implications. It means that any restrictions on the abortion right must, at a minimum, protect a woman's health. It also means that no such restriction can be justified on the paternalistic ground that women might turn out to regret their choices or are too fragile to receive all relevant information about medical possibilities. In her view, such paternalistic arguments run afoul of the guarantee of sex equality because they reflect "ancient notions about women's place in the family and under the Constitution — ideas that have long since been discredited."

"In supporting this claim, Ginsburg referred to the same equality cases, involving discrimination in Social Security and welfare programs, on which she relied in 1985.

****** Last paragraph

"But Ginsburg has now offered the most powerful understanding of the foundations of the right to choose — and it is important to remember that today's dissenting opinion often becomes tomorrow's majority. The equality argument has the support of four members of the court (Ginsburg and justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer). We should not be terribly surprised if, in the fullness of time, Ginsburg's view attracts a decisive fifth.

The New Oil Law Will Increase Violence in Iraq

"The new oil law is a direct intervention in Iraq’s domestic policies. It will result in nothing more than increasing the Iraqi-Iraqi imposed violence, and the Iraqi-occupation fight. The best oil law is the law that the Iraqis will choose after the last US soldier leaves, and the best and only policy that will end the violence in Iraq is setting a timetable that will end all the U.S. presence in Iraq completely, without permanent bases, and gives Iraqis the time and space to heal their wounds and rule their country."

To understand why Raed says the above, please read the whole article linked on the first sentence.

Interview with Angry Arab (Prof. As'ad AbuKhalil) Regarding Palestine--Culture and Politics

MultimediaAudio: Interview with "Angry Arab" As'ad AbuKhalilAudio,
Electronic Intifada, 26 April 2007

Last week, As'ad AbuKhalil, creater of the Angry Arab News Service blog, was in Chicago to speak at the Sixth Annual Chicago Palestine Film Festival. The Electronic Intifada's Maureen Clare Murphy and Ali Abunimah sat down to talk with him about the film festival selection Summer 2006, Palestine, as well as the role Palestinian culture has had in the Palestinian national movement and its influence in the wider Arab world. AbuKhalil also touched upon current events unfolding in the Middle East, including his home country of Lebanon. Also, he recommends where one can find a good felafel sandwich in the Windy City.

Listen Now [MP3 - 14.5 MB, 31:45 min]Related Links

BY TOPIC: EI's Coverage of the Chicago Palestine Film Festival

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Olympia WA & Rafah PAL Will Not Be Sister Cities--Yet

"No, those opposing the proposal [TO MAKE RAFAH A SISTER CITY] didn't want to annihilate anybody, they just didn't want to have anything in common with people in Rafah, who are so different from and instill terror in us. They appealed to the members of City of Olympia Council to "stick to the issues here, in Olympia," instead of endorsing an official relationship with "others," people in the Middle East. Little did the opponents realize, though, that they were direct proponents of racism, which, according to Baudrillard, "does not exist so long as the other remains Other, so long as the Stranger remains foreign. It comes into existence when the other becomes merely different This is the moment when the inclination to keep the other at a distance comes into being." As the end of the meeting on April 17 disclosed, opponents managed to keep people in Rafah at a distance indeed, thus--unbeknownst to themselves--being puppets on the stage of racism and in the hands of some political leaders in the U.S. government "who manipulate otherness for their own profit."

*********

"One of the supporters quoted from the ORSCP's proposal the appeal that had been written by children under the care of the Association for Woman and Child Development in Rafah, Palestine. In this appeal, children wrote: "When we lack security, we dream of a secure world. When tomorrow becomes dark, we'll hold a candle to light the tunnel. When we lose our school bags, clothes and toys under rubbles, we will look for HOPE and PEACE. When we lose everything, our hearts will go on and we'll look for a friend. OUR FRIENDS, WE NEED YOUR VOICE " This heart-breaking appeal didn't matter. It either was dismissed or just didn't reach the ears of the four councilmembers who voted against the proposal. After all, it had not been written by children of Olympia, or Israel, for that matter. It also didn't matter that there were 400 signatures gathered around the community in support of making Rafah our official sister city. The motion failed 2-to-4. The closing remarks of the four community leaders who voted against it were strikingly alike--they felt "uncomfortable endorsing" the proposal while community members are not united on the issue. Will community members ever be united on any issue at hand? Let me assure you, it can be easily arranged, but mostly in a totalitarian nightmare. Would those four council members vote differently if this proposal offered official statue to a sister-city relationship with one of Israel's cities and if Muslims of Olympia protested it? One might wonder.

From Counterpunch.org

Wolfowitz's War--The Puppet Who Cleared the Way for Iraq's Destruction

"Before we conclude that Wolfowitz was the original author of the policies that destroyed Iraq, we should note that his entire career, at least up through his Pentagon service, has been in the service and at the direction of others. His early work in Washington promoting the dubious merits of an anti-ballistic missile programme, for example, was sponsored by Paul Nitze, a powerful insider who devoted a lifetime of intrigue to boosting east-west tensions and US defence spending. Nitze served as godfather to the neoconservative movement in the 70s, correctly calculating that a fusion of the pro-Israel lobby with the military-industrial lobby would create an alliance of unstoppable power. Among the early and most potent recruits was an old friend of Wolfowitz's, Richard Perle, known and feared in Washington as "the Prince of Darkness" for his ruthless bureaucratic skills and commanding position in the neoconservative forces."

From Counterpunch.org

Bush [& His Congressional Enablers] Strategy: Keep False Hope Alive

"Captured al-Qaeda documents reveal that the terrorist group has had trouble building alliances with Iraqi insurgents. So, al-Qaeda has pinned its hopes on keeping the U.S. military bogged down in Iraq indefinitely while those bridges are built and a new generation of extremists is recruited, trained and hardened.

"In addition, having the U.S. military focused on Iraq protects Osama bin Laden and other terrorist leaders holed up on the Afghan-Pakistani border.

"An announced date for American withdrawal would put non-Iraqi al-Qaeda operatives in a tighter fix. Without the indefinite U.S. occupation, al-Qaeda would find it tougher to recruit young jihadists and would likely face military pressure from Iraqi nationalists fed up with foreign interference of all kinds.

"That is why al-Qaeda leaders view Bush’s open-ended war in Iraq as crucial to their long-range plans for spreading their radical ideology throughout the Muslim world. As “Atiyah,” one of bin Laden’s top lieutenants, explained in a Dec. 11, 2005, letter, “prolonging the war is in our interest.”

"[To read the “prolonging the war” passage from the captured Atiyah letter at the Web site of West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center, click here and then scroll down to the bottom of page 16 and the top of page 17.]

‘False Hope’

"Military and intelligence analysts have told me that the “surge” is already recognized as a failure by U.S. military officers stationed in Iraq. “It’s just another layer on top of what they’ve already been doing,” one well-placed U.S. military source said.

"In this view, the “surge” is more a political tactic than a military one, a way for Bush to argue for more money without strings, one more time. Presumably, after the “surge” collapses in obvious failure, Bush and his advisers will point to another mirage on the horizon.

"Or, as comedian Lewis Black has put it, “Keep false hope alive.”

U.S. Forced Prostitution on Conquered Japanese Women After WWII

The "Shining City on the Hill" again turns out to have foundations of clay. Linda

"Police officials and Tokyo businessmen established a network of brothels under the auspices of the Recreation and Amusement Association (RAA), which operated with government funds. On Aug. 28, 1945, an advance wave of occupation troops arrived in Atsugi, south of Tokyo. By nightfall, the troops found the RAA's first brothel.

U.S. historian John Dower, in his book "Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII," says the charge for a short session with a prostitute was 15 yen, or about a dollar.
Seiichi Kaburagi, the chief of public relations for the RAA, wrote in a 1972 memoir that the sudden demand forced brothel operators to advertise for women who were not licensed prostitutes.

"Natsue Takita, whose relatives were killed in the war, responded to an ad seeking an office worker. She was told the only positions available were for comfort women and was persuaded to accept the offer.

"According to Kaburagi's memoirs, Takita, then 19, jumped in front of a train a few days after the brothel started operations.

"'The worst victims ... were the women who, with no previous experience, answered the ads calling for 'Women of the New Japan,' " he wrote. By the end of 1945, about 350,000 U.S. troops were occupying Japan. At its peak, Kaburagi wrote, the RAA employed 70,000 prostitutes to serve them.

Democrats Playing Political Chess with Iraqi and American Lives

"As the Democratic leadership has made clear, the proposal both in its current form as well as in the previous House and Senate bills is by no means a plan for a complete withdrawal from Iraq.

"On the contrary, while fully funding the war, the measure seeks a strategic redeployment of US forces, with tens of thousands of US troops remaining in the occupied country for the purposes of “counterterrorism operations”—suppressing Iraqi resistance—protecting “US interests”—securing oil fields—and training Iraqi puppet forces that have already been implicated in widespread torture and sectarian killings.

"Moreover, the Democrats are increasingly posing the issue not as a question of pulling back from the unrestrained militarism with which the Bush administration is identified, but rather an alternative strategy for utilizing US military force to pursue US global interests.

"Thus, much of the Democrats’ opposition is couched in expressions of concern over the way in which the American armed forces are being worn down by the Iraq deployment and thereby rendered unable to intervene elsewhere in the world. The House-Senate conference committee legislation retains the House version’s mandate that military units not be redeployed abroad before they have met the Pentagon’s own standards for rest, resupply and retraining. The language allows the President to waive this requirement by asserting that such deployments are necessary for “national security” reasons.

*****Last paragraphs tell the tale.

"This succinctly sums up the character of the supposed opposition of the Democratic congressional leadership to the Iraq war. In the end, they all know that they will provide the money that will keep the war going and drive up a death toll that includes hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and now stands at 3,333 US military personnel.

"The “chess game” that the Democrats are playing is designed, on the one hand, to redirect what is seen by wide sections of the American ruling elite as a failed strategy in Iraq in order to continue pursuing US interests by military means both there and internationally.

"On the other hand, it is meant to contain the mass and growing popular opposition to the war by promoting illusions that the carnage can be ended by supporting a party that is in reality determined to see this war drag on and is already preparing fresh acts of US aggression in every part of the globe.

Thanks to Sasha

Answering Cindy's Question--Jacob Hornberger

"Ask yourself: Would you be willing to give your life for any of this nonsense? (If so, then the obvious question arises: What are you doing here instead of being over there?) Would you be willing to sacrifice your spouse, siblings, or children for it?

"The other immoral part of all this, of course, is the killing of the Iraqi people, many of whom are doing nothing more than trying to rid their nation of an illegal occupier, something that at least some American men and women would do if the U.S. were ever invaded and occupied by a foreign power.

"The important point here is that even if the U.S. government was able to establish a “stable” regime in Iraq, the U.S. government had neither the moral nor the legal authority to attack and wage a war of aggression against a country that had not attacked the United States, not even to establish a “stable,” U.S.-approved regime. Since the U.S. had no right to invade Iraq, it also has no right to be occupying Iraq and, thus, no right to be killing even one single Iraqi as part of that invasion and occupation.

"My answer to Cindy Sheehan’s question remains the same as when the first U.S. soldier and the first Iraqi were killed: U.S. troops in Iraq are dying for nothing and they’re also wrongfully killing the Iraqi people.

Brave New World Of Workers--Bob Fletcher--Black Commentator

"A recent article in, of all places, Parade magazine [Lynn Brenner, “How did you do?” April 15, 2007] helps to put “Bob’s” story into context. Despite the fairly conservative bent of Parade, they put their finger on critical issues of the day:
Workers’ productivity has grown 18% between 2000 and 2006,
yet people’s real wages (factoring in inflation) have grown only 1%.

2/3 of those polled said that despite an allegedly booming economy,
they do not believe that their children’s generation will be better off
than they are.

47+ million people lack healthcare.

"There is a declining living standard for the working person, in part because employee benefits have been steadily shrinking.

"In 2005, the average CEO made 369 times as much as the average worker, whereas in 1993, it was 131 times.

"So, for the average working person, live is unraveling and a tremendous amount of wealth is being captured by those at the top of the wealth pyramid.

"The only things that the article failed to mention were that:

(1) the attack on labor unions by the corporations and their
right-wing political allies helps to explain part of the decline
in the living standard, and

2) for those of us of color—and particularly for African
Americans—in every category, we continue to be hit harder than the white population.


“'Bob”, like too many other people in the USA, recognizes that he is being stepped upon. After years of denial of the health issues he confronts, he is finally trying to come to grips with them. Yet, in one of our discussions, it was very clear that he had to weigh paying for medical treatments—which might prevent a stroke or heart attack—against his other survival costs. For “Bob,” however, the choices he confronts are choices he believes he must make on his own.

"My fury with the system rose after my last discussion with “Bob.” He, like millions of others, finds himself being squeezed on all ends and he also feels very much alone. I asked him whether he had ever thought of unionizing his company. He sighed and not surprisingly said that he wished that there was a union at the company.

"But that was not quite answering my question. There was no union at his company, so in order to get one, he and his co-workers would need to join together to form one. “Bob” had not a clue about how to do this, which affected me as well, since it spoke volumes regarding the state of workers today and of the union movement.

"Opinion polls over the last ten years have repeatedly noted that more than 50% of non-union workers would join or form a union or employee association if they could. These workers generally do not do so because of:
(1) fear of employer retaliation, since employers regularly
ignore the National Labor Relations Act [which gives workers
the right to form or join unions], and

(2) the union movement is largely stuck and has not developed
the internal political will, strategies and organizational forms to
address workers like “Bob”, who fall into the category of being
members of a growing unstable, insecure workforce.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Mismanaging Iraq: Stealing from the Poor and Giving to the Rich--Arab News.com

"As von Sponeck spoke, I reflected on my lengthy interview with Iraq’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dr. Mohammed Al-Duri. Al Duri, being interviewed for the first time by English speaking media since claiming his post at the UN, revealed to me in early 2001, in equally shocking details, what sanctions had done to his country and people. He claimed that the UN was part of the problem. Led by two countries, the US and Britain, the UN Oil for Food Program and the “humanitarian” mission it established in Iraq was, he said, robbing the country blind and mismanaging funds, with needy Iraqi families receiving next to nothing. He spoke of the manipulation of Iraq’s wealth for political purposes and alleged that the UN was a tool in the hands of the United States government aimed at encouraging widespread popular disatisfaction with Saddam’s government before the country was dragged off to war.

"In hindsight, Al-Duri’s assessment was very accurate. Promoting his new book: “A Different Kind of War,” von Sponeck reiterated in essence and substance Al-Duri’s claims; the only difference is that von Sponeck was an insider; his numbers and stories were impeccable and could hardly be contested. It’s no wonder that one and a half years after assuming his post in Baghdad in 1998, he resigned. Even at such uncongenial bureaucracy like the UN, some people still possess a living conscience; von Sponeck was and remains a man of great qualities.
By March 2003, when Iraq was invaded by American forces, the UN was generating $64 billion in sales of Iraqi oil, according to von Sponeck. But, scandalously, only $28 billion reached the Iraqi people. Around 70 percent of the Iraqi people benefited from the program. If distributed evenly, each Iraqi received half a US dollar per day. According to UN figures, an individual living under one dollar per day is classified as living in “abject poverty”. Even during the most destructive phases of war with Iran, Iraq has managed to provide relatively high living standards. Its hospitals were neither dilapidated, nor did its oil industry lie in ruins. Only after the UN sanctions in 1991 did the Iraqis suffer at such an appalling magnitude. Alas, the tyranny of Saddam expanded to become the tyranny of the international community as well.

Found on Angry Arab Newservice

The Heart of Whiteness--Manuel Garcia

"I.Q. is a measure of wealth. The children of gangsters and war criminals (i.e., national politicians, corporate executives, race-favored Americans, Europeans, and others from outposts of Pan-Whiteness, e.g., Israel, Australia, New Zealand) will have higher I.Q. because they have been brought up in material comfort, physical security, and they have experienced the best educational systems in existence. There is no genetic basis for this, but there is certainly a racist one.

"Since the days of Columbus, Pan-Whiteness has used technology (primarily explosives) and piracy (now called finance) to steal world resources, and enslave and exterminate "colored" people. "High" I.Q. is merely a developmental indicator of race-based physical plundering by their elders and ancestors in the children of the Race Warriors of the White Supremacy Crusade.

"The religious core of capitalism is white supremacy, which is why the nations mentioned are bonded so tightly, and why the U.S. Government will often pursue policies vis-a-vis Israel that logically seem to be at odds with "U.S. interests" (e.g., the pursuit, with U.S. casualties, of war with Iraq and Iran, not just for oil but in Israel's interest). It may be objectively true that a particular policy (e.g., bankrolling Israel's theft of Palestine -- "settlements" -- backing Israel's stonewalling and aggression (e.g., Lebanon) and blocking U.N. and international efforts to settle the Palestinian issue) seems more to Israel's benefit than to "us." But, when viewed through the emotive religious-mythical lens of white supremacy, the apparent inconsistency dissolves.

"'We" are defending our brother and sister "white" settlers in "Injun country." Israel, like our military bases and corporate installations around the world, is one of our many Fort Apaches in wild territory, filled with "colored" natives hostile to our manifest destiny to clear them off and "develop" the land. At best, they could work as sub-human machines in our agricultural and mechanized plantations, while being slowly ground down to dust and thence to disappearance behind "Separation Walls" (which actually encircle isolated populations, and so are corrals with machine gun towers -- slow motion Buchenwalds), and Border Fences and Free Trade Agreements.

Found on Counterpunch.org

Seung-Hi Cho and John McCain--Margaret Kimberley

"We usually hear little about shooting deaths unless enough people die in the same place at the same time. Every day 32 Americans are killed by gun violence. It is the act of terror most likely to be inflicted upon us all. Ironically, 32 was the number of fatalities inflicted by a gunman at Virginia Tech University.

"Just as they did eight years ago at Columbine High School, the media descended upon Blacksburg, Virginia. They spoke to students about their dead classmates, about desperate efforts to save lives, and the horror of the bloodshed they witnessed. They spoke lovingly of their friends who died and painstakingly enumerated their special qualities.

"The corporate media have never profiled Iraqis killed by American bombs, gunfire and prisons. We never know how much they were loved and how they fought to stay alive while violent people sought to take their lives. We never hear the story of the destruction of Iraq's medical system, infrastructure and water supply. Iraqis aren't Americans, they aren't white and they were killed by our government. Those factors add up to a ho-hum attitude surrounding their deaths.

From the Black Agenda Report

Children in the U.S. Told: Go Directly to Jail

Reading this Sharon Smith article about the jailing of children in this country will flabbergast you--I guarantee it! Linda

"When kindergartner Desre'e Watson of Avon Park, Florida threw a temper tantrum in school last month, she was arrested and charged with battery on a school official (a felony), disruption of a school function and resisting a law enforcement officer (both misdemeanors).

"Watson's arrest is not at all unusual in Florida. Back in December 2000, the St. Petersburg Times reported, "Nowadays, children as young as 6 or 7 are carted off in handcuffs, locked up and saddled with permanent criminal records More than 4,500 kids 11 and under were charged with crimes in Florida during the fiscal year that ended in June."

"The Times continued, "Kids as young as 7 spend the night in detention centers. Kids as young as 10 are sent away for a year or more. And in a very few cases, children enter the justice system at even younger ages, such as a 5-year-old St. Petersburg boy charged this year with burglary; and incredibly, a preschool arson suspect who went through a pretrial diversion program in South Florida at age 3."

"In December 2001, after arresting a 10-year-old autistic fourth grader who disrupted a special education class, the Okaloosa, Florida Sheriff's Department's Rick Hord defended his actions, arguing, "[T]here's no question but that we had all the elements of a felony crime present."
Not all children are treated equally. Race and class loom large. As the Times noted, "there is a stark difference among arrests of children by race -- one that gets sharper as the children get younger." The young targets of "zero tolerance" arrests nationwide are overwhelmingly Black, Latino and Native American. In 2000, according to the Suffolk University Law School Juvenile Justice Center (JJC), African-American children-who made up just 15 percent of the U.S. juvenile population-were 46 percent of those incarcerated and 52 percent of those whose cases ended up in adult criminal court. Black children are imprisoned at five times the rate of whites, while Latino and Native American children are placed in correctional institutions at two and a half times that of whites.

From Counterpunch.org

Dems Cashing In and Selling Out--David Sirota

"On the front page of TheWashington Post's business section, we get this story about the current state of the minimum wage bill:
Democrats have stripped out a variety of contentious tax
measures that had been tied to the minimum-wage legislation,
under pressure from some of the nation's largest business
lobbies. Gone is a measure that would have restricted what
executives and other highly paid employees can place in
deferred-compensation plans, one of the most popular
benefits in corporate America. Gone is a proposal to deny
tax deductions for fines and penalties associated with lawsuits.
And gone are measures to target a variety of corporate tax
shelters. The demise of these measures infuriated one of
their chief sponsors, who yesterday accused Democrats
of "caving in to K Street, pure and simple." "Frankly,
I thought it would be easier to close tax loopholes and
tax shelters with Democrats in control of Congress than
Republicans, and I've been totally dismayed,"
Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, said in an interview.
"Democratic leaders blew it for small business." Carol
Guthrie, spokeswoman for Senate Finance Committee
Chairman Max Baucus, D-Mont., defended the
minimum-wage package, saying Baucus "fully intends
to revisit ... provisions not included."
"Understand that Grassley's comments signal that Baucus actually had the support of his ranking Republican on the Senate Finance Committee to enact all of these progressive reforms. Yet, incredibly, he went ahead and stripped out these measures anyway.

Cursor.org

Interesting Take on "The Cho in the White House"

Click on link and scroll down to "The Cho in the White House"

"As someone who lived and served outside my own beloved country for so many years, a second link between Cho's actions and George W. Bush's policies appeared quite evident to me. The Blacksburg murders caused enormous grief and sadness throughout a community Cho felt had never accepted him. Distraught students have been offered counseling by the university, so shaken are some by what they experienced. The results of Bush's preemptive military strikes have been no less disruptive and unnerving, but of course on a regional, if not global stage. Tens or hundreds of thousands of innocent people have lost their lives due to his rash wars -- and his administration has shown little pity for refugees from this destruction seeking shelter as best they could elsewhere. (Iraqi refugees have essentially been all but barred from the United States.)

"As Cho disrupted a small, defenseless college town in Virginia that welcomed him, Bush has dislocated a whole society that was not threatening the United States. Seen from an overseas perspective, there is, as with Cho and his "enemy," something megalomaniacal as well as delusional about the President's identification of a vast Soviet-style Islamofascist foe that the U.S. Armed Forces are supposed to face down in the Global War on Terror.

TomDispatch via Cursor.org

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"I Am Now A Refugee"--by Dahr Jamail

"'I ask all nations, particularly the United States, to do all that they can to help us," was the way Qasim Jubouri, a banker who fled Baghdad with his family in order to keep them alive, put the matter to me. "Since the U.S. government caused all of this, shouldn't they also be responsible for helping us now?"

"Like Salim, he too left for Syria with nothing more than some clothing and his meager savings. Now, the money he brought is running out and he has no idea how he will feed his family when it's gone.

"Thirty-two year-old Ali Ahmed has a similar tale to tell. "I was a financial manager of seven companies in Baghdad, but I had to leave my house, my car, and just about everything." After militiamen fired on his car in the once upscale Mansoor district of Baghdad, Ali fled to Jordan. He returned to Iraq to try again, but once more faced death in an attack in which six employees from his management firm were killed.

"And even that wasn't the end of it. "We had 11 engineers from one company detained by the Mehdi Army [the militia of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr]. We never heard from them again. I knew then that I had to drop everything and run for my life."

"Ali does not see himself returning soon. "I don't expect to go back for at least 15-20 years. I have left everything behind, and now I have nothing but a small food store I run here. But it is not enough. Not the UN, nor any government, least of all the Iraqi government, is doing enough to help us." (The Syrian government, thus far, maintains a policy of looking the other way when it comes to modest or menial jobs Iraqis find which don't put Syrians out of work.)

Monday, April 23, 2007

U.N.: Gaza Humanitarian Crisis Grave

"With at least 530 barriers and checkpoints in place, peoples’ lives are completely disrupted. Moreover, Palestinian villages have been torn asunder by movement restrictions because they do not have normal economic life. He compared the size of the West Bank to the state of Connecticut, and with words he painted a picture of people living in atomized areas. Israel’s construction of a wall that is projected to be 700 km is 60 per cent complete. There is a degree of permanence to the sectioning because the Jordan Valley has been carved off for Israeli settlements and the West Bank has been divided into a northern and a southern area. As a result, the West Bank is now a trisection containing enclaves of Palestinian cities and villages.

"Although the Israeli Army established checkpoints in the name of security, “I would argue the means to tackle these threats…leads to a sense of nihilism, pent up anger that …brings about the results they are trying to avoid,” Whitley explained.

"Palestinians are Hungry – Weak Blood and Eyes Hurting

"For the Palestinians, the situation is grave. In Gaza there are an estimated 1.4 million Palestinians and approximately 80 per cent of the population lives below the official poverty line at US $2.05 per day per capita. The Palestinian Gross Domestic Product collapsed by 23 per cent in the last year. One million, or 70 per cent of these people, are registered as refugees and 1.05 million people depend on international assistance.

No Immigration Without Emigration: Consequences For The Countries Left Behind

"Eighteen years ago, I spent a summer in my father’s village in Jalisco. I was in college then, and I have always had a strong and fond connection to the place. We used to spend our summers there when we were kids. I remember those days as if it were yesterday. The days seemed endless. Mornings began at around 5:30 a.m. It was hard to know exactly what time it was, because no one had a watch or a clock. Early in the morning, I would accompany my cousin to the mill to grind our corn into flour for tortillas. We would cook the tortillas over an open fireplace, which was built into the kitchen wall. That summer, I spent Sundays watching soccer games at the village soccer field. Each Sunday, a different neighboring team would challenge the local team. Sometimes the team would have to travel for the game and the whole village would travel with them. Talk about team spirit! During the week, my cousin and I would saddle our horses and ride up to the mountains and pick oranges. On Saturdays, my cousins and I would dress up and go to dances at the neighboring villages. There was always a wedding, a quinceaƱera, or a baptism. There was at least one dance every Saturday.

******

"Finally, I returned in October 2005. I was so excited to visit, as if I was returning for a homecoming. However, everything had changed. The first sign that the village was not the same was waking up in the morning to the sound of trucks driving on the cobblestone streets. There had been very few cars when I had last been there. Now SUVs ruled the roads. There were practically no horses left. The sugarcane fields were gone. The corn fields were gone. I was there for 10 days and did not see anyone make tortillas. The sound of the mill was replaced by the trucks that came into the village from the big city of Guadalajara to sell tortillas and the dough for tortillas. The soccer field was overgrown with weeds. In fact, no one could remember when the last soccer game was played. The place where the horse races were held was no longer noticeable. The plaza was empty on Sundays, except for a few men standing around and an older couple sitting on one of the benches. It took me a while before I noticed there were no young adult men. There were teenagers and older men, but practically no men between 20 and 50. The sugarcane fields and the corn fields had been replaced with agave plants (from which tequila is distilled). I was told that agave required less manpower and was harvested every few years instead of every year. There were women of all ages and there were young children, but it seemed that fatherless families were more prevalent than not. I visited a few surrounding villages and found the same -- no young adult men.

Found on the Website Payday via Insurgent American website

Iraqis Blame U.S. for "Bloody Wednesday"--Dahr Jamail

"Sadriyah is one of the oldest neighbourhoods of Baghdad. It is an area that brings together different ethnic and sectarian groups.

"'We do not know who is killing us, but we do know who is responsible for our safety," Kaka Kadir, who lost a 15-year-old son in the attack told IPS. "All we receive from our government and the Americans is talk, and holding other people accountable, while it is them who should protect us."

"'I do not believe it is al-Qaeda any more," a woman weeping near the scene of the bombing told IPS. "I do not care any more, I am just losing my loved ones. The last explosion hit my husband and now he is disabled, and this one took my son's life."

"She referred to a similar bombing two-and-a-half months ago at the same market, which killed 137 and wounded many more.

"U.S. leaders and Iraqi government officials again accused "terrorists and the Saddamists" of the bombing. But many people around Baghdad are blaming the occupation forces and the U.S.-backed Iraqi government.

"'I noticed that security officers did not carry out any site investigation," a former police officer who lives in a neighbouring area told IPS on condition of anonymity. "I have also noticed that no such crime has been solved since the first days of the occupation."

"The officer said that "huge crimes like the Samarra shrine explosions (at the al-Askari Shia mosque in Samarra, 90km north of Baghdad in February last year) that led to increasing sectarian dispute, and many other crimes, remain unsolved."

******* Later in article:

"The problem is that those Americans are still talking about peace and reconciliation in Iraq," Jabbar Ahmed, a lawyer and human rights activist in Baghdad told IPS. "They should just leave the country after all the disappointment people here feel towards them. All they are doing is lying all the time, while Iraqi blood has become so cheap."

Bill Clinton: Ambassador of Death

"On June 26, 1993, Clinton bombed Baghdad, supposedly in retaliation for an assassination attempt against his predecessor. Clinton’s raid killed eight people, including the renowned artist Layla al-Attar. Later, Clinton bombed Afghanistan and the Sudan, the latter targeting a pharmaceutical factory, a major source of medical drugs in that impoverished country. As Herman notes, in Yugoslavia Clinton and NATO targeted civilians “in houses, hospitals, schools, trains, factories, power stations, and broadcasting facilities.” According to Yugoslav authorities, “60 percent of NATO targets were civilian, including 33 hospitals and 344 schools, as well as 144 major industrial plants and a large petro-chemical plant whose bombing caused a pollution catastrophe. John Pilger noted that the list of civilian targets included ‘housing estates, hotels, libraries, youth centres, theatres, museums, churches and 14th century monasteries on the World Heritage list. Farms have been bombed and their crops set afire,’” in other words, massive war crimes.

"But all of this pales in comparison to Clinton’s complicity in genocide. “Bombs are merciful compared to what Clinton has done to the innocent children of Iraq, the most vulnerable of all, by maintaining ten years of the harshest sanctions in the history of mankind, begun on August 6, 1990, and kept in place at the insistence of the United States,” writes David L. Harten. “In 1989, the literacy rate [in Iraq] was 95%; and 93% of the population had free access to modern health facilities,” Anupama Rao Singh, UNICEF’s senior representative in Iraq, told John Pilger in early 2000. “Parents were fined for failing to send their children to school. The phenomenon of street children or children begging was unheard of. Iraq had reached a stage where the basic indicators we use to measure the overall well-being of human beings, including children, were some of the best in the world. Now it is among the bottom 20%. In 10 years, child mortality has gone from one of the lowest in the world, to the highest.”

"In 1996, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, “567,000 Iraqi children had died as a direct consequence of economic sanctions,” and the following year UNICEF reported “that 4,500 Iraqi children under five were dying every month as a result of sanctions—induced starvation and disease.”

Kurt Nimmo, Another Day in the Empire

Sunday, April 22, 2007

U.S. "Family Values"--Don't Have A Family (Unless You're Middle Class)

"Eunice Brown, 21, another of Ms. Johnson’s clients, was fortunate nothing went wrong with her first pregnancy. She was afraid to tell her mother. In the eighth month of her pregnancy, she went to the hospital with a stomach ache and delivered a healthy baby.

“'I was 15 and I didn’t think prenatal care mattered that much,” she said in the one-bedroom home she shares with her mother, her three children and two nieces her mother is tending. Ms. Brown, who was three months’ pregnant with her fourth child, said she would apply for Medicaid “when I get the transportation.” The family has lived mainly off her welfare checks and her intermittent work, in elderly day care, which led her welfare check to be reduced from $194 a month to $26 a month. A father “sometimes helps with money,” she said.

"In the past 10 years, the infant mortality rate for blacks in most of the Delta has averaged about 14 per thousand in some counties and more than 20 per thousand in others. But just to the south of Hollandale, Sharkey County, one of the poorest, has had a startlingly different record. From 1991 through 2005, the rate for blacks hovered at around 5 per thousand.

"State officials say the county’s population is too small — it registers only 100 births a year — to be statistically significant. But many experts feel it is no coincidence that a steep drop in infant deaths followed the start of an intensive home-visiting system run by the Cary Christian Center, using local mothers as counselors.

“'If this is a fluke it’s a 15-year fluke,” said Dr. Glick, the neonatologist.

"The program, which is paid for with private money, buses nearly all pregnant blacks in Sharkey and a small neighboring county to pre- and postnatal classes.

It's obvious they know what is required to support poor women who are pregnant--it's just more important that the budget money goes to arms manufacturers.

"Service Economy" Booming in the U.S.--Factory Jobs Disappearing

"WASHINGTON -- Three weeks ago, Dawn Zimmer became a statistic.

"Laid off from her job assembling trucks at Freightliner's plant in Portland, she and 800 of her colleagues joined a long line of U.S. manufacturing workers who have lost jobs in recent years. A total of 3.2 million -- one in six factory jobs -- have disappeared since the start of 2000.

"Many people believe those jobs will never come back.

"'They are building a multimillion-dollar plant in Mexico, and they are going to build the Freightliners down there. They came in and videotaped us at work so they could train the Mexican workers," said Zimmer, 55, who had worked at Freightliner since 1994.

"That's the issue for American workers. Many of their jobs are moving overseas, to Mexico and China and elsewhere.

"Just ask Tom Riegel.

"He worked for 27 years making Pennsylvania House furniture at a factory in Lewisburg, Pa., until the plant shut down in December 2004. The production was moved to a plant in China, which kept making the furniture under the Pennsylvania House label for shipment back to the United States.

"Riegel, 48, who has had health problems, hasn't worked since he lost his job running a molding machine. He says his prospects aren't good, given the number of other furniture plants in the area that have suffered layoffs.

******* Later in article:

"Even though manufacturing jobs have been declining, the country is enjoying the lowest average unemployment rates of the past four decades. The reason: the growth in the service industries -- everything from hotel chambermaids to skilled heart surgeons.

"Eighty-four percent of Americans in the labor force are employed in service jobs, up from 81 percent in 2000. The sector has added 8.78 million jobs since the beginning of 2000.

Yeah, I wonder just what percentage of those "service jobs" are skilled heart surgeons. Linda

Just Saying--Pharma and Guns

Anti-Depressants and Killers--A Sampler

Earlier in this Counterpunch article, it is reported that Cho, the Virginia shooter, was on drugs also--pharma must be suppressing which one, because it hasn't been reported yet.

Eric Harris was on Luvox and Jeff Wiese was on Prozac.

Kip Kinkle (Oregon), on methylphenidate and Prozac, killed four people, including his own parents, and wounded at least 22 others.

Luke Woodham (Mississippi), on an SSRI, killed three people, including his mother, and wounded at least six others.

Jason Hoffman (California), while taking the antidepressants Celexa and Effexor, shot and wounded four students and two teachers. He later committed suicide while incarcerated.

Cory Baadsgaard (Washington). On Effexor, he held 23 classmates and a teacher hostage with a rifle.

Elizabeth Bush (Pennsylvania). She blasted away at fellow students, wounding one. She was on an antidepressant.

T.J. Solomon (Georgia). He wounded six classmates. He was on antidepressants.

Shawn Cooper (Idaho). He fired two shotgun rounds in his school, narrowly missing human targets. He was on antidepressants.

Jeremy Strohmeyer (Nevada). He raped and killed a 7-year-old in a ladies' room. He was on Dexedrine.

Michael Carneal (Kentucky). He killed three students and wounded five others. He was on Ritalin.

UPDATE:

Another article on counterpunch is even more devastating on the links between Prozac and violence:

"The New York Times ran its account of the new pro-Prozac study on the page facing the obituaries of students and faculty members killed at Virginia Tech! "Scales Said to Tip in Favor of Antidepressant Use in Children -A risk of suicidal thoughts is found to be more than offset." You'd think that 33 deaths would more than offset it back.

"Evidence that Prozac induces suicidal ideation and actions emerged when the drug was in clinical trials in Germany in the mid-1980s. The German findings were misrepresented to the FDA by a Lilly employee named Joachim Wernicke. U.S. marketing approval was granted in December, 1988, with no warning required. After a drug is marketed here in Guinea Pig Nation, only a very small fraction of the adverse events brought on by the drug get reported. Patients have to tell their doctors who then have to file paperwork with the manufacturers who then have to voluntarily tell the FDA that their products are dangerous.



Poor Petraeus--Occupation Is Having an "Effect" on Him

Link to whole rotton article: http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/18252538/
"Flying over Baghdad as the lights of the city came on, Petraeus passed by the city's southern flank, where he led the 101st Airborne Division in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In an earlier interview, he had said he feels a sense of obligation to help Iraqi people, because "General [Colin] Powell was right, it is Pottery [Barn] rules." But on this, his third tour in Iraq, Petraeus returned to a society that is "more fearful, more suspicious, more worried" and therefore more difficult to help.

"'I wouldn't be honest if I didn't say that this has an effect on all of us, [OH, POOR PETRAEUS!]" he said. "And so every now and then we just get on the helicopter. . . . You go see some projects that you know have been built. . . . You see some police stations and you see people just sort of driving on, people getting on with their lives, and it sort of reassures you. 'Hey, these people are survivors.' "

Yeah and it is the shame of all USians that what they are surviving is YOU and YOUR OCCUPATION, Petraeus.

Found on Angry Arab Newservice



Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bill Maher's "Towel-Headed Hos"--Remi Kanazi

"To see how anti-Arab/anti-Muslim bigotry is accepted and applauded in America, one has to look no further than HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher, hosted by "left-wing" comedian and political commentator Bill Maher. "Liberal" pundits like Maher pass off their anti-Arab/anti-Muslim rhetoric as an innocent invocation of Samuel P. Huntington’s "The Clash of Civilizations." Yet, Maher’s vitriolic diatribes are no different than one saying, "black people are ruthless, welfare grubbing criminals." Nonetheless, to a "liberal," the previous comment is racist and wrong, because black people, unlike the days of slavery, are now "like us," meaning white Anglo-American society, whereas Arabs and Muslims (as if they are a unitary, monolithic people), can still be labeled wholly as "backwards, ruthless, Jew-hating animals."

"In Maher’s program, he regularly brings on guests that espouse anti-Arab/anti-Muslim views, some of them being supposed "self-critical" Muslims. These guests, however, principally serve to support Maher’s own bias against Muslims and Arabs, bolstering his pro-Israel feelings. These guests include conservative Israeli politician, and former Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, Lebanese-born neocon and political hack Fouad Ajami, putative introspective Muslim moderate Irshad Manji, and former Muslim, now professed atheist, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, among many others.

Uruknet.info

In the Ghetto: Bush Begins Forced Ethnic Partition of Baghdad--Chris Floyd

"Taking a cue from Cold War Soviet policy in Berlin – not to mention the enlightened approach of the Israeli government in the West Bank – the Bush Regime has begun walling off a Sunni enclave in Baghdad, driving a stake into the heart of the flickering reconciliation efforts among the Iraqi grassroots and solidifying the nation's deadly sectarian divisions -- thus abetting the aims of the violent extremists operating both within and outside the Bush-backed Iraqi government.

"The Sunnis of Adhamiya are being sealed into a ghetto by three miles of concrete, 12 feet high, made up of giant 14,000-pound slabs being installed by monstrous cranes and heavy machinery in the dead of night, the Los Angeles Times reports. When the enclosure is finished, Adhamiya will be an open-air prison, with access into and out of the ghetto controlled by U.S. and, presumably, Iraqi government forces. Already the wall is destroying fragile personal and commercial ties between the area's Sunni population and the surrounding Shiite areas, say residents. It will also draw even more violence to the area, they add:

"'Are they trying to divide us into different sectarian cantons?" said a Sunni drugstore owner in Adhamiya, who would identify himself only as Abu Ahmed, 44. "This will deepen the sectarian strife and only serve to abort efforts aimed at reconciliation."

Ongoing Defiance/Political Gridlock in Lebanon--Dahr Jamail

"Ali Hamir, a translator standing outside the main tent in which families were gathering and children played, told me he was there as an independent and not affiliated with any political group.

The_Grand_Serail_building_home_of_the_Prime_Ministers_offices_spot_lighted_by_the_protest_1344_p.jpg"'I'm here as a Lebanese," he said, "We are peacefully contesting the government to show that people without a voice are actually the majority. It is only the rich people who have a voice in this current government, while the middle and lower classes are not listened to. There is a class mentality in this government." He waved his arm across the air and added, "These people are not sheep. Most of them are educated and know how to live in peace. We are open-minded and want to live with all communities, but we are opposed to class-based oppression."

"I asked him how long he thought the sit-in would continue.

"'We have long breaths. We will not stop until we reach our goal. We do not despair. We can wait as long as it takes."

Thursday, April 19, 2007

From Iraq to the Supreme Court--A New Dark Ages for Women--Sunsara Taylor

"Although the forms of the oppression of women in this country are today different, this Christian fascist movement in the U.S. is the near twin of the movements imposing Sharia law in Iraq, only it is far more powerful given that it is embedded within the ruling elites of the world's only superpower. It is rooted in a literal interpretation of a scripture every bit as brutal as the Q'uran -- biblical scripture that casts child-bearing as the only way women can be redeemed for their alleged "original sin": "For Adam was first formed, then Eve; and Adam was not beguiled, but the woman being beguiled hath fallen into transgression: but she shall be saved through her child-bearing." (1 Timothy 2:13-15) This movement has initiative in the ruling class today.

"On a world scale the future for women -- HALF OF HUMANITY -- is in grave danger.

"This is not the time for putting ones hopes into a political process that has done nothing but facilitate and legitimate the invasion, occupation, continued occupation and now possible widening of the war on Iraq in the face of massive public opposition. Now is not the time for resting the future of women's control of their own destiny in the same political process that has facilitated and legitimated the chipping away of abortion, clinic closing by clinic closing, law by law, and judicial nominee by judicial nominee.

"This is not a time for turning one's energies towards '08 and the slate of Democratic Party hopefuls which have ceded the moral high ground on abortion to religious fanatics and refused to demand an end to colonial occupation of Iraq. This is not a time for remaining polite, being patient, or seeking "common ground."

From Counterpunch.org

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

The Crazies Take Over--A MUST READ--Malcom Lagauche

I learned a few new things from this article--like how the US surrounds countries it wants to control with US bases in the neighboring countries. From reading Chalmers Johnson's book NEMESIS, I recognize the truth of this description. A portion of the article is below, but click on the link in the first line to read the whole thing. Veddy intuhresting.

FIGHT THE EMPIRE! Linda

"There are many ways in which the U.S. controls foreign nations. Let’s look at Egypt, for example. The Egyptian military is mainly supplied by the U.S. But, the U.S. has put limits on the independence of the Egyptian military by limiting stocks of spare parts as well as controlling Egyptian military communications. If the Egyptian army ever becomes a threat to Israel, the spare parts shipments would be halted.

"The main task for Egypt’s military is to protect Hosni Mubarak, the country’s president. He is in the pockets of the U.S. and he must remain in power without opposition.

"The control of Egypt does not end with keeping tabs on its military power. The country must rely on outside help to feed its quickly-growing population. The U.S. supplies four million tons of wheat a year to Egypt through aid programs that must be approved by the U.S. Congress. Many of those who vote to retain the aid programs are staunch supporters of Israel. Mubarak knows this and he does not rock the boat. If he did, his country would quickly suffer a devastating famine.

"Many Democrats criticize the Bush administration about its foreign policy, but their record is not much better. To ensure the continuation of the embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, Clinton spokespeople consistently lied about its weapons of mass destruction. More Iraqis died during Clinton’s tenure than under the two Bush regimes. Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state, when asked if the embargo was worth the lives of a million Iraqi children, unhesitatingly answered, "Yes."

"Bush II has merely escalated the xenophobia and ethnocentrism that grips much of the U.S. He has taken the concept of world domination up a notch or two. Clinton was more subtle about U.S. hegemony. He never made the statement that Bush did when he promised "to export death and violence to the four corners of the Earth in defense of this grate country and rid the world of evil."

"Omar Barghouti, an independent Palestinian political analyst, stated:

"We are witnessing the ominous rise of the most powerful
empire ever to exist. Judging from consistent media
reports and opinion polls, the rest of the world seems
to view it as a menacing rogue state that is arrogantly
bullying other nations, east and west, north and south,
into unqualified submission to its self-declared
designs for world domination and incontestable economic
supremacy.

"He has aptly stated how the rest of the word sees the U.S. — a view totally opposite to that shared by most Americans. He added:

A century and a half after officially abolishing slavery in
the U.S., the new-old masters have a diabolical agenda
to resurrect it, except this time on a worldwide scale.

A Tube Story--Layla Anwar (An Arab Woman Blues)

"April 17, 2007

"Two scenes from the tube did on a job on me tonight.The first one was from a documentary called "Iraq's missing millions".

"Yes you guessed right. It referred to the 20 Billion Dollars of Iraqi money that simply evaporated during Bremer's "governance" of the "new" Iraq.The 20 Billion dollars of Iraqi money that were meant to "reconstruct" Iraq.

"The program filmed a hospital in Diwaniya, the Southern part.This was no hospital, this looked like a run down insalubrious toilet. No hospital sheets, no curtains, no medication, no oxygen masks, no surgical gloves, no intravenous serums...In something that looked like an ancient non-functional incubator, laid Zahra, an infant girl and not too far, Abbas, her twin infant brother.

"Zahra looked blue black, the colors of asphyxiation. She lacked Vitamin K and some other drug. She was terribly malnourished. She lacked air, she lacked life.

"The doctor had no oxygen mask. He pressed a long thick tube, the only one available, against her tiny nostrils, trying to insert bits of it, hoping to give her some oxygen, hoping to revive her ever slowing heart beat.

"Zahra's father was absent. He went searching for the drug and the vitamin K on the black market. Zahra's father had to pay for them from his own pocket.

"By the time he made it back to the hospital and despite the doctor's best efforts, Zahra was gone.The doctor told Zahra's grandmother: "This infant is finished".

"The following day, Abbas, her twin brother was finished too.Zahra's father rushes in with two ampoules of Vitamin K. It was too late.

"Someone hands him a cardboard box. Zahra's face is covered with a tiny piece of cloth and placed in the box. Just like that.

"A cardboard box. You know the one you store your shoes in, or your old newspapers, or any junk you want to eventually get rid of. In the "new" Iraq, infants are placed in those boxes.

"The second scene was from Guantanamo. You know Gitmo Bay, your seaside resort.380 "prisoners" are still with no trial. Many of them are on hunger strike.One of them is Sami al-Hajj, a sudanese cameraman working for Al Jazeera. Married, father of small boy.Sami Al-Hajj amongst others, has been in Gitmo for over three years now and still no charges and no trial.Sami has been on a hunger strike for 100 days already.

"One of the lawyers in charge of Sami's "case" gave a demonstration of how Sami and others are force fed by the democratic american authorities there.They take the "detainee", strap him with leather belts to a sturdy wooden chair. Tie his arms, feet and head, paralyzing any movement.

"A 1 meter long tube is then thrust into the "detainee's" nostrils, with no anesthesia of course, past his larynx, through his oesophagus right into his stomach and the food is thus forcefully ingested.

"This "procedure" is repeated twice a day.Sami Al-Hajj has been undergoing this tubal "nourishment" twice a day for 100 days.Zahra and Sami have much in common. They are Arab "speaking", muslims, brown skinned and share the same "tube" destiny.

"In fact they were both caught in the american dark, tight, tunnel of torture with no end in sight...as if trying to live through an interminable tube...Yes that's it, "Life" in a tube.

Found on Uruknet.info

Morin at the Miami Herald


Supreme Court: Women's Place is Barefoot and Pregnant

The Supreme Court today narrowly upheld a nationwide ban on a controversial abortion procedure, handing a major victory to President Bush and his social conservative allies.

Portion of article below--click on link to read the whole thing:

"Ginsburg responded that the majority's solution was not to insure that the woman is informed of the details of the procedure.

"'Instead, the court shields women by denying them any choice in the matter," she said. "This way of protecting women recalls ancient notions about women's place in society and under the Constitution -- ideas that have long since been discredited."

"The ruling was welcome news to abortion opponents who have placed their hopes in Bush's conservative nominees to the Supreme Court. Making up today's majority, in addition to Kennedy, were Bush's two picks -- Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Alito -- as well as two of the court's staunchest conservatives: Scalia and Thomas. Kennedy, who joined the court in 1988 after being nominated by President Ronald Reagan, has long been viewed as a swing vote on key issues.

"Joining Ginsburg in her dissenting opinion were Justices John Paul Stevens, David H. Souter and Stephen G. Breyer.

"'Today's decision is alarming," Ginsburg wrote for the minority. "It tolerates, indeed applauds, federal intervention to ban nationwide a procedure found necessary and proper in certain cases by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. . . . And, for the first time since Roe, the Court blesses a prohibition with no exception safeguarding a woman's health."
She added: "Retreating from prior rulings that abortion restrictions cannot be imposed absent an exception safeguarding a woman's health, the Court upholds an Act that surely would not survive under the close scrutiny that previously attended state-decreed limitations on a woman's reproductive choices."

"The 2003 ban has never taken effect because of court challenges. Six federal courts ruled that the law impermissibly restricted a woman's constitutional right to have an abortion.

Found on Cursor.org

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

"U.S. Democrats Must Decide How Far to go to Challenge Bush on War, Post-veto Plans"

Isn't it nice that McDermott has "feelings" about the brutal and bloody occupation of Iraq. All the articles portray some of the Democrats as being "antiwar." Besides rhetoric like that uttered by McDermott below, I challenge these writers to show me the evidence that they are in fact "antiwar." The whole article is a puff piece trying to impart the idea that the Dems are agonizing over the decision to fund a monstrous death-machine, a decision all of us made long ago quite easily. Linda


"'My feeling is at a certain point we're going to ... talk about whether you fund (the war) or not," said Democratic Rep. Jim McDermott.

"McDermott is among 218 members of the House of Representatives, mostly Democrats, who voted March 23 for legislation that would order combat troops out of Iraq by September 2008.

"Like some of his anti-war colleagues, McDermott was initially reluctant to endorse the bill because it included $96 billion (€70.9 billion) for the military, much of which would keep the war afloat for another six months.

"The narrow 218-212 vote came only after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, also a Democrat, launched an aggressive operation in party discipline to convince party liberals the bill was their best shot at ending the war. Most Democrats do not support removing funding for the war.

Later in article, the pot begins calling the kettle black:

"Democratic Sen. Carl Levin told reporters Monday that should Bush veto the bill as expected, Democrats probably would opt to replace the withdrawal language with a "softer version" that ties U.S. aid to political progress made by the Iraqi government.

"'It's the second-best approach in terms of how to force the Iraqi government to reach a political settlement," he said. "Everyone is saying there is no military solution, yet the president's path is a deepening military presence."


Monday, April 16, 2007

Nancy Pelosi--The Extreme Moderate (from the LA Times)

"During a recent trip home to hear what was on his constituents' minds, Yarmuth heard about Iraq everywhere he went — and the calls were almost uniformly for withdrawal, without patience for nuances like the nitty-gritty of Congress' constitutional powers. On Iraq, he sensed his constituents were actually more extreme in their views than either he or the House Democratic leadership was.

"The back-home experiences of Yarmuth and many of his colleagues give the lie to "Pelosi fear-mongering" — the idea that the speaker from San Francisco is marching congressional Democrats down an extreme path on which their constituents don't want them to walk.

Later in article:

"It's the liberals in the party, not the moderates, who are dissatisfied with the new Pelosi order. "People are saying, 'When will it be our turn?' " liberal Rep. Raul M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) told the Politico, a new publication for political junkies, last week, complaining about his progressive colleagues' growing sense that they play second fiddle to the less numerous and more moderate Blue Dog Democrats. One Blue Dog recently exulted that "they did everything we asked" on the 2008 budget resolution. Budget Committee Chairman John M. Spratt Jr.'s (D-S.C.) bill matched President Bush's defense funding request, strictly limited the entitlement spending so beloved by liberals and instituted tough pay-as-you-go rules that moderates had championed.

But look what the NYTimes said about this subject:

"The timing of the spring break this year — shortly after the vote — might have set up members of Congress like Mr. McNerney for charged confrontations from constituents. But judging from conversations and interviews with voters and lawmakers across the country this week[OH, YEAH? THEY DIDN'T ASK ME--OUR REPS DON'T DO TOWNHALLS], in many cases it seems that the war has simply taken its place alongside other voter concerns: not necessarily at the forefront, but often simmering in the background. But as Mr. McNerney found, the issue can flare up at a moment's notice."

Just wanted to point out what liars the NYtimes people are.

Found the first article on cursor.org

Sunday, April 15, 2007

al Sadr Orders Cabinet Ministers to Withdraw from Puppet Gov't

"BAGHDAD: Radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr has ordered his Cabinet ministers to withdraw from the government to protest arrests of Mahdi Army leaders in the ongoing Baghdad security crackdown and the prime minister's failure to back calls for a timetable for U.S. troops to leave the country, two officials in the organization said Sunday.

"The six ministers will officially withdraw from the government Monday, said Saleh al-Aujaili and Hassan al-Rubaie, both members in al-Sadr's bloc in parliament. They said al-Sadr's 30 legislators will continue their participation in parliament as usual.

"The men said the order came in a statement from al-Sadr to his ministers asking them to "announce your withdrawal from the government." Al-Sadr's followers hold six positions in the 37-member Cabinet.

"Such a pullout by the very bloc that put Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki in office could collapse his already perilously weak government. The threat comes two months into a U.S. effort to pacify Baghdad in order to give al-Maliki's government room to function.

From "Iraq Today"

http://warnewstoday.blogspot.com/index.html

Record of Iraq War Lies to Air April 25 on PBS

"Bill Moyers has put together an amazing 90-minute video documenting the lies that the Bush administration told to sell the Iraq War to the American public, with a special focus on how the media led the charge. I’ve watched an advance copy and read a transcript, and the most important thing I can say about it is: Watch PBS from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 25. Spending that 90 minutes on this will actually save you time, because you’ll never watch television news again – not even on PBS, which comes in for its share of criticism.

"While a great many pundits, not to mention presidents, look remarkably stupid or dishonest in the four-year-old clips included in “Buying the War,” it’s hard to take any spiteful pleasure in holding them to account, and not just because the killing and dying they facilitated is ongoing, but also because of what this video reveals about the mindset of members of the DC media. Moyers interviews media personalities, including Dan Rather, who clearly both understand what the media did wrong and are unable to really see it as having been wrong or avoidable.

"It’s great to see an American media outlet tell this story so well, but it leads one to ask: When will Congress tell it? While the Democrats were in the minority, they clamored for hearings and investigations, they pushed Resolutions of Inquiry into the White House Iraq Group and the Downing Street Minutes. Now, in the majority, they’ve gone largely silent. The chief exception is the House Judiciary Committee’s effort to question Condoleezza Rice next week about the forged Niger documents.

"But what comes out of watching this show is a powerful realization that no investigation is needed by Congress, just as no hidden information was needed for the media to get the story right in the first place. The claims that the White House made were not honest mistakes. But neither were they deceptions. They were transparent and laughably absurd falsehoods. And they were high crimes and misdemeanors.

From Commondreams.org

Lenders Cheat Students Out of Lower Cost Loans

In NYTimes Orwellian-speak, this article had a headline of "Lenders Sought Edge Against U.S. in Student Loans"--Linda

"In a fierce contest to control the student loan market, the nation’s banks and lenders have for years waged a successful campaign to limit a federal program that was intended to make borrowing less costly by having the government provide loans directly to students.

"The companies have offered money to universities to pull out of the federal direct loan program, which was championed by the Clinton administration. They went to court to keep the direct program from becoming more competitive. And they benefited from oversight so lax that the Education Department’s assistant inspector general in 2003 called for tightened regulation of lender dealings with universities.

"At Indiana University in 2004, for example, Sallie Mae, the nation’s largest student lender, offered $3 million that the university could use for “opportunity loans” to some students if it left the direct loan program. Indiana left the direct loan program but said the $3 million was not the reason; Sallie Mae currently administers their loan program.

"Bank of America, which won the University of Virginia’s student loan business, said in its 2002 proposal that certain possible incentives had “the potential to violate” federal law. The bank, which said such a discussion was normal in the bidding process, suggested that it discuss the issues with university officials “during the oral presentation phase of the process.”

"All of this has helped give private lenders clear dominance of the $69 billion federal student loan industry. The lenders, who defend these practices, say they are winning business primarily because they offer lower interest rates than the government and often lower fees.

I Want to Kill Somebody Today--Contractors Run Amok in Iraq

"On the afternoon of July 8, 2006, four private security guards rolled out of Baghdad's Green Zone in an armored SUV. The team leader, Jacob C. Washbourne, rode in the front passenger seat. He seemed in a good mood. His vacation started the next day.

"'I want to kill somebody today," Washbourne said, according to the three other men in the vehicle, who later recalled it as an offhand remark. Before the day was over, however, the guards had been involved in three shooting incidents. In one, Washbourne allegedly fired into the windshield of a taxi for amusement, according to interviews and statements from the three other guards.

"Washbourne, a 29-year-old former Marine, denied the allegations. "They're all unfounded, unbased, and they simply did not happen," he said during an interview near his home in Broken Arrow, Okla.

"The full story of what happened on Baghdad's airport road that day may never be known. But a Washington Post investigation of the incidents provides a rare look inside the world of private security contractors, the hired guns who fight a parallel and largely hidden war in Iraq. The contractors face the same dangers as the military, but many come to the war for big money, and they operate outside most of the laws that govern American forces.

"The U.S. military has brought charges against dozens of soldiers and Marines in Iraq, including 64 servicemen linked to murders. Not a single case has been brought against a security contractor, and confusion is widespread among contractors and the military over what laws, if any, apply to their conduct. The Pentagon estimates that at least 20,000 security contractors work in Iraq, the size of an additional division.

Later in article:

"In an incident report that he later submitted to Triple Canopy, Sheppard wrote that Washbourne also informed him that he was "going to kill someone today." In an interview, Schmidt said he heard a similar remark. Washbourne denied making any comment about his hope or intention to kill that day.

Washington Post via Angry Arab Newservice

Nakba-deniers; Eyes Wide Shut--Tariq Shadid

What is Nakba?
"Every year Palestinians commemorate the Nakba ("the catastrophe"): the expulsion and dispossession of hundreds of thousands Palestinians from their homes and land in 1948. In 1948 more than 60 percent of the total Palestinian population was expelled. More than 530 Palestinian villages were depopulated and completely destroyed. To date, Israel has prevented the return of approximately six million Palestinian refugees, who have either been expelled or displaced. Approximately 250,000 internally displaced Palestinian second-class citizens of Israel are prevented from returning to their homes and villages."
From Electronic Intifada site--to help explain this article--Linda

******A portion of Tariq Shadid's article is below; click on link to read the whole thing. Linda

"It is not so difficult anymore these days to convince people that Palestinians are suffering heavily, and unjustly. What seems to be the biggest problem, however, is for these same people to see Israel as the cause of this suffering, despite the overwhelming historical facts that prove this. This, of course, includes those facts provided by the Israeli New Historians in the nineties. They deny none of the 1948 crimes against the Palestinians, but simply assert that they should have been carried out more thoroughly (Benny Morris).

"A mistake often made by those who advocate the Palestinian cause in the West, is to fail to exert pressure on these highly essential issues. Nakba-denial is one of the biggest problems that cause the failure of people to perceive the Zionist crime for what it really was, namely a vicious and well-planned act of ethnic cleansing, that displaced around 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and their country in 1948. Also, the over 400 villages they were expelled from, were destroyed, and wiped off the map. The majority of people in the West still don’t know these hard and brutal facts.

"What’s the use of having a discussion, for instance about the Israeli Apartheid wall, with a Nakba-denier? The axiom of cause and effect is reversed in his brain. A Nakba-denier sees Israel as the beginning, and the Palestinians as the attackers, and no matter how historically ludicrous this formula is, in the mind of the Nakba-denier it is a reality. The only useful thing to talk to him about, is the Nakba - Arabic for ‘catastrophe’- in order to try and open his eyes, that obviously are ‘wide shut’.

"Since the Oslo-period, we also have a new, but quite strong presence of so-called Palestinian rights defenders in the West, who nevertheless hit the brakes when one mentions Zionism. They often have similar ideas to those of many who were active in the Israeli ‘Peace Now’ movement, that rapidly diminished in adherence over the last years – which also says something in itself. As European or American self-proclaimed promoters of the Palestinian cause, these people are of no use to the Palestinians, in fact they even constitute a significant problem, if not one of the main problems faced in creating awareness in the West, since they act as barriers and gatekeepers against progress.

"How can a supporter of the Palestinian cause regard anyone who defends Zionist ideology, which is national-socialist in origin (this should ring a bell), and infested with concepts of racial superiority, without suspicion? The presently very active Christian form of Zionism is at least as destructive - and I mean this in the most literal sense - and uncompromising to the Palestinian people as its Jewish counterpart.

"It is of great importance, to keep Zionism at the center of the political discourse about Israel, and to mention it in any discussion about the subject. Oslo-style thinking has indeed weakened this practice on a large scale, but there is a simple way to reverse this very rapidly: talk about it. Always talk about the Nakba, and always talk about Zionism, when talking about Palestine in the West. Without these two issues on the table, what are we really talking about? And whose purposes are we serving, by being caught in those fruitless dialogues about the issues that are only symptoms of these other two?

Saturday, April 14, 2007

Canada Offers Forum for Lecturer Barred from U.S.

"VANCOUVER — A highly regarded Iraqi epidemiologist who wants to tell Americans about an alarming rise in cancer levels among Iraqi children will come to Canada instead because he couldn't get a visa to the United States.

"Unable to travel to the University of Washington, Riyadh Lafta -- best known for a controversial study that estimated Iraq's body count in the U.S.-led war in Iraq at more than half a million -- will arrive at Simon Fraser University in B.C. this month to give a lecture and meet with research associates.

"'The University of Washington wanted him, but the U.S. denied his entry," said his colleague at SFU, Tim Takaro. "They need to be able to collaborate, even if his results are unpopular with the Americans. Now he's at SFU, and the best they're going to get is a video feed."

*****Another article (below) tells there will be video link at UW Kane Hall. Linda

IRAQI CASUALTY COUNT RESEARCHER TO SPEAK

Sponsored by UW School of Public Health Iraq Sister University Project and
Simon Fraser University

Dr. Riyadh Lafta will be in North America to collaborate with University
of Washington colleagues on a research project to document elevated levels
of pediatric cancers in Basra, Iraq. The project was conceived as part of
a sister university relationship between Basra Univ and the UW. The
research project is supported by a grant from the Puget Sound Partners, a
Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation initiative.

Dr. Riyadh Lafta, who teaches medicine at Baghdads Al-Mustansiriya
University College of Medicine, co-authored the October 2006 *Lancet*
article that estimated more than 650,000 Iraqis have died as a result of
the the American-led invasion in 2003.

Dr. Lafta will speak at a public gathering in Vancouver, BC, at Simon
Fraser University's Wosk Hall (580 W. Hastings in downtown Vancouver BC)
on Friday, April 20, at 7:00 p.m.

His talk will be video cast to the UW's Kane Hall at the same time with
the opportunity for interactive audience participation.

Video linked to Kane Hall 210, UW -- for more information contact Amy
Hagopian at 206-616-4989.

Thanks to Mark Jensen on the Tacoma UFPJ list for the heads up