Thursday, May 31, 2007
"But until recently in the developing world, farmers still planted, plowed and harvested without paying American agribusiness anything. The first attempt to "monetize" food production took place a generation ago in Southeast Asia and India. Called the "Green Revolution" its public face was a masterpiece of pious poor-washing. A thin layer of native academic, "experts" and local officials were bought off, and slick ad campaigns were told local farmers the road to prosperity was the use of vast quantities of pesticides, herbicides, and high-yield crops grown for international markets instead of feeding local populations.
"The "Green Revolution" in India worked out well for the middlemen who sold the chemicals and lent poor farmers money to buy them, and for its wealthiest farmers. But when millions of farmers, on the advice foreign and domestic "experts" produced cotton, sugar and export crops for the world market instead of food to feed their neighbors, several nasty things happened. The prices for those export staples went down, so poor farmers wound up without the cash to repay loans for the year's seed and chemicals. Food which used to be abundant and locally grown became scarce, expensive and had to come from other regions or overseas. The chemicals killed many beneficial plants and insects, and promoted the emergence of newer, tougher pests and diseases. Export crops needed more water than traditional ones, so wealthy farmers monopolized what water there was to feed their export crops. Man-made famines occurred. People starved or became dependent on imported foreign grain. Millions of farmers were forced to sell their land (or sometimes their children) to pay off their debts, and move to the cities.
"In the tradition of the European explorers unleashed on the rest of humanity with letters from their kings entitling them to claim and seize the lands, treasure and inhabitants of all places not under the rule of white Christian princes, the US patent office began in the 1990s, granting American corporations exclusive "patents" for varieties of rice produced in Asia for thousands of years, for beans grown in Mexico centuries before Columbus, and for all the products which were or might be made from trees, plants, roots and molds growing in the rain forests of Africa and Asia. Indian courts, under pressure from their citizens, rebuffed for now American attempts to collect royalties for the production of basmati rice, which farmers in India and Pakistan have cultivated for centuries. But every developing country can't bring to the table against the U.S. the power that India, with a fifth of the world's population can.
Some Ameican Katrina surivors went to India to talk to tsunami survivors--a portion of the article is below. Click on the link in first line to read the whole amazing story (from the Black Agenda Report)--Linda:
"As an important part of solidarity, we have to keep reminding ourselves and our organizations that action cannot be confused withprogress. After a disaster, we are all very busy. We have all beensubject to countless planning meetings and consultations and we havetried to participate in our communities. But the test of all actions should be – “Does this help build, expand, or defend a movement towards justice?” If it does not, we must re-think it. Because unless we are building a more just world, the next disaster will prey on the victims of injustice just as much as these did. Our Indian friends reminded us that economic equity is the best way to reduce the impact of disaster.
Disaster victims in both the US and India are crippled, confused, and buried beneath bureaucratic paperwork demands. The approach in both countries is that one must prove they are eligible and worthy of assistance. Legal requirements and administrative schemes choke the distribution of help.
Right, not charity, is our common demand. Human rights, not bureaucratic eligibility criteria, must be the foundation for relief, recovery and rebuilding. People have human rights to food and shelter and the opportunity and assistance necessary to live a life ofdignity. The government must respect and implement human rights. The degradations and delays and disrespect of eligibility applications for basic human necessities must cease. Human rights must be our shared basis for going forward. Internationally, if the bottom of the North can link up with the bottom of the South, human rights will be our shared language.
The final and best piece of advice I received was from T. Peter, head of the Kerala Fish Workers Association. Their organization has struggled with elected officials, private companies, and the caste system in all phases of life. He leaned over, his dark face split by a broad smile, and told me what we in the U.S. should be doing to bring about justice for our gulf coast: “Less meeting, more fighting!”
And so we will.
Army Lt. Col. Christopher Garver, a U.S. military spokesman,
said he could not immediately confirm or deny the man's
allegations. But, he said, U.S. forces "tend not to take
that heavy-handed an approach."
March 11, 2007 COLUMBUS, Ga. -- "This is not right," said Master Sgt. Ronald Jenkins, who has been ordered to Iraq even though he has a spine problem that doctors say would be damaged further by heavy Army protective gear. "This whole thing is about taking care of soldiers," he said angrily. "If you are fit to fight you are fit to fight. If you are not fit to fight, then you are not fit to fight."
As the military scrambles to pour more soldiers into Iraq, a unit of the Army's 3rd Infantry Division at Fort Benning, Ga., is deploying troops with serious injuries and other medical problems, including GIs who doctors have said are medically unfit for battle. Some are too injured to wear their body armor, according to medical records.
On Feb. 15, Master Sgt. Jenkins and 74 other soldiers with medical conditions from the 3rd Division's 3rd Brigade were summoned to a meeting with the division surgeon and brigade surgeon. These are the men responsible for handling each soldier's "physical profile," an Army document that lists for commanders an injured soldier's physical limitations because of medical problems -- from being unable to fire a weapon to the inability to move and dive in three-to-five-second increments to avoid enemy fire. Jenkins and other soldiers claim that the division and brigade surgeons summarily downgraded soldiers' profiles, without even a medical exam, in order to deploy them to Iraq. It is a claim division officials deny.
"I know the scientific method. Faith isn't in it, or anywhere near it, although you could make a good case that doubt and suspicion are everywhere in it. The scientific method is a tool to counter faith and intuition and other such misleading biases that investigators bring to their research.
"There is also some confusion about what faith can accomplish. I reject faith, yet somehow I have value and meaning in my life, I feel empathy for those who suffer, and I love. I do not need your dogma to understand those matters. I do so by observing my own life, the lives of others, the consequences of actions on people—by considering just the material world, not assuming an irrelevant supernatural one.
"Brownback is intentionally, I suspect, muddling his words. He is replacing "compassion" with the nonsense word, "faith". Compassion is a human value possessed by scientists and by citizens, atheists and the devout; we do not need faith, that bamboozling misleading sacred delusion, to live as good human beings.
"Fear, disgust and racism followed an announcement that the organization, which helps Latino day laborers, would be coming. But against such ugliness something beautiful is now emerging, something that has garnered scant notice -- a call to be, well, neighborly.
"It comes from a group of Asian American community leaders and neighbors in Seattle who decided they couldn't in good conscience keep silent. They say CASA Latina's critics -- including some Japanese Americans in the Central Area -- leaped too fast and too loudly.
"'We are deeply concerned about the rhetoric used to block CASA Latina's move," said an open letter signed by 41 people. It appears in a May edition of the International Examiner, an Asian community newspaper.
"'We are mindful of our own painful history and the racial discrimination that Japanese immigrants have faced. Now, one and two generations later, we must not allow this kind of prejudice to enter our hearts."
"David Yamaguchi, writing in another Asian community paper, adds a century ago, "our (Japanese) grandfathers were 'the Mexicans.' " Some of them "arrived illegally, by as many routes as they could think of" to do dirty, dangerous jobs.
"These voices are a welcome turn.
"When CASA Latina officials tried in 2005 to move from their longtime Belltown location to the old Chubby & Tubby garden store site in Rainier Valley, they ran into hellfire opposition.
Affluent white families in the South End fretted over the possibility of plummeting property values. They joined forces with established blacks who believed poor Latinos would take over. Both groups voiced fears about safety. But beneath their concerns was a palpable anti-Latino, anti-immigrant undertone.
"This same animus was present after CASA Latina in March closed on its new Central Area digs, at 17th Avenue South and South Jackson Street. The organization plans to formally move in, perhaps within a year or two, after meetings to build more trust with neighbors.
"'This is the first time we are accusing a blue-chip American company of profiting from torture," ACLU lawyer Ben Wizner said at a news conference in New York City.Since at least 2001, Jeppesen Dataplan Inc. of San Jose "has provided direct and substantial services to the United States for its so-called 'extraordinary rendition' program," the suit, filed in San Jose federal court, alleges.
"Extraordinary rendition is a highly secretive and extrajudicial practice of transferring terrorist suspects to third-party countries that routinely practice torture and other ill-treatment, according to Human Rights Watch. After years of denial, the Bush administration now acknowledges the tactic but denies sanctioning torture.
"The suit was filed on behalf of Binyam Mohammed, a 28-year-old Ethiopian citizen and British resident; Abou Elkassim Britel, a 40-year-old of Moroccan descent naturalized in Italy; and Ahmed Agiza, a 45-year-old Egyptian. But the suit said that Jeppesen provided flight and logistical support services for more than 70 extraordinary renditions over a four-year period.
"'Corporations should expect to get sued where they are making blood money off the suffering of others," said Clive Stafford Smith, a British lawyer who has been representing Mohammed and is serving as co-counsel on the ACLU suit.
Marine Cpl. Adam Kokesh and other veterans marked the fourth anniversary of the war in Iraq in March by wearing their uniforms - with military insignia removed - and roaming around the nation's capital on a mock patrol.
After Kokesh was identified in a photo cutline in The Washington Post, a superior officer sent him a letter saying he might have violated a rule prohibiting troops from wearing uniforms without authorization.
Kokesh, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, responded with an obscenity.
Now, a military panel has been scheduled to meet with Kokesh on Monday to decide whether his discharge status should be changed from "honorable" to "other than honorable."
"This is clearly a case of selective prosecution and intimidation of veterans who speak out against the war," Kokesh said. "To suggest that while as a veteran you don't have freedom of speech is absurd."
Kokesh is part of the Individual Ready Reserve, a segment of the reserves that consists mainly of those who have left active duty but still have time remaining on their eight-year military obligations.
His attorney, Mike Lebowitz, said Kokesh's IRR status ends June 18. He said at least three other veterans have been investigated because of their involvement at demonstrations.
"Nancy Pelosi cannot say, [as Cindy Sheehan apparently did] "This is an imperialist war to reconfigure the Middle East, allow the U.S. to control the flow of oil from the region, dot it with huge permanent U.S. military bases, advance Israeli aims in the region, and intimidate all potential rivals for decades. It is wrong, a clear violation of international law." Harry Reid can't say, "The lies of these war planners are so obvious. We need hearings now about the Office of Special Plans. We need to find out who forged the Niger uranium documents and who undercut our intelligence professionals in pushing that completely false case presented by Colin Powell to the U.N. We need to move on impeachment of both Bush and Cheney."
"That sort of honest talk is not normally allowed by the system to the "loyal opposition." Only under circumstances of extraordinary duress, when it feels its very existence threatened, does the system make some concessions to the people it doesn't work for. In the early '70s our outrage over the war in Vietnam, compounded by disgust about the evolving Watergate Affair, forced Congress to cut off war funding (through the Case-Church Amendment passed on June 19, 1973), produced a wave of investigations that exposed the vicious Cointelpro Program, and produced the Freedom of Information Act. We're not yet back to that level of outrage, but the number of people questioning the system itself---the money-driven "Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics"---is growing. As the Democrats drag their feet, ignore their mandate to end the war, and collude with moves against Iran and Syria bound to produce disastrous repercussions, disillusionment will no doubt mount, as it should.
"'To be radical," wrote Marx, "is to grasp the root of the matter. But for man, the root is man himself." In other words, radicalism means thinking clearly about how and why people in general are oppressed by the "money" to which Bacevich alludes. By those who use their unconscionable wealth (= political power) to pursue their boundless "interests"---sacrificing other people's children to do so. But Marx in the same work notes how people oppress themselves with delusional thinking. He refers to religion but might as well be speaking of delusions about contemporary American "democracy" when he writes, "The demand to give up illusions about the existing state of affairs is the demand to give up a state of affairs which needs illusions."
"Sheehan's disillusionment need not lead to a dead end. It could be the premise for appropriately deeper radicalization.
"So far this month, the Army has announced the deaths of 19 Fort Lewis soldiers, including three whose names were made public Wednesday.
"It is by far the deadliest month of the Iraq war for the post, which averaged fewer than three deaths a month for the first four years of the war. Post officials say the increased number of fallen soldiers has made it more difficult for rear detachments to pull off the planning and other logistics required for individual memorial services.
"'As much as we would like to think otherwise, I am afraid that with the number of soldiers we now have in harm's way, our losses will preclude us from continuing to do individual memorial ceremonies," wrote the post's acting commander, Brig. Gen. William Troy, in a May 22 memorandum, which was first made public on the Web site of United For Peace, Pierce County, a peace activist group.
"The post memorial services are in addition to services held by the Iraq units of fallen soldiers, and graveside and church services held by families.
"The post services, which include personal remembrances of the departed soldiers, are a wrenching reminder of the toll of the war. They draw from dozens to hundreds of mourners, and in about a third of the services, include the family of the fallen soldiers, according to Joe Piek, a post spokesman.
"The memorial services have been organized by rear detachments for deployed units, officers and soldiers who also have other tasks that include assisting wounded soldiers, supporting families and other administrative and logistical work.
Did see this first on Mark Jensen's list
"It would be the fourth suicide at Guantanamo since the prison camp opened in January 2002.
"On June 10, 2006, two Saudi detainees and one Yemeni hanged themselves with sheets.
"Prisoners in Camp 5, which is similar to the highest-security U.S. prisons, are kept in individual, solid-wall cells and allowed outside for only two hours a day of recreation in an enclosed area.
"Wells Dixon, a defense attorney who met with detainees at Camp 5 last month, said many showed signs of desperation.
"'I can assure you that it is hell on earth," Dixon said. "You can see the despair on the faces of detainees. It's transparent."
"Other critics said detainees are frustrated at being held indefinitely without charges.
"'You have five and a half years of desperation there with no legal way out," said Michael Ratner, president of the New York-based Center for Constitutional Rights, which represents hundreds of Guantanamo detainees. "Sadly, it leads to people being so desperate they take their own lives."
"Lawyer Julia Tarver Mason, whose firm represents eight Saudi detainees at Guantanamo, said the government so far has declined to tell her if the man who died was among her clients. There are about 80 detainees from Saudi Arabia held at Guantanamo.
"'They are in the care of the United States government and that should mean that deaths should not occur," Mason said.
"The death came as Guantanamo prepares to hold pretrial hearings for two detainees in military tribunals.
"One of the detainees, Canadian Omar Khadr, fired his American attorneys on Wednesday, leaving him without defense counsel, his former U.S. military attorney told The Associated Press.
"Khadr is still to be arraigned Monday. He and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni who also faces a hearing Monday, are among only three of the roughly 380 Guantanamo prisoners to be charged with a crime. The third, David Hicks, was convicted of aiding al-Qaida and returned to his native Australia.
"Khadr was 15 when he was captured in Afghanistan during a firefight in which he allegedly killed a U.S. Army special forces soldier with a grenade.
"'He doesn't trust American lawyers, and I don't particularly blame him," said U.S. Marine Lt. Col. Colby Vokey, who was taken off the case Wednesday. "The United States is responsible for his interrogation and his treatment under a process that is patently unfair."
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
"Having said all this, the idea is still not to encourage Palestinian violence or justify it, even when the rule of international law is entirely on the Palestinians' side if they were to choose to fight for liberating themselves and their land from the illegal occupation. My point is simply to hope that facts are seen as they are, and the world stops blaming the Palestinians for firing useless rockets without forcing Israel to halt its ongoing attack by its most advanced F-16s and sophisticated missiles which never in history were used against civilian and human targets; not to mention the occupation itself.
"The Palestinians may have behaved irrationally, and they may still do, but that is the inevitable consequence of the injustice and the abnormal conditions of the occupation.
EI contributor Hasan Abu Nimah is the former permanent representative of Jordan at the United Nations. This article first appeared in The Jordan Times.
Electronic Intifada via Palestinian Pundit
"He said officers quickly consulted counterparts in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Israel and other countries to compile a “catalog” of techniques said to be effective against Arab and Muslim prisoners. They added other methods drawn from those that American troops were trained to withstand in case of capture.
"Mr. Krongard even recalls receiving a proposal for help with questioning Qaeda suspects from an American dentist who said he “could create pain no human being could withstand.”
The agency rejected such ideas as ludicrous. But administration lawyers approved a list of harsh methods that have drawn widespread condemnation.
"In an April lecture, Philip D. Zelikow, the former adviser to Ms. Rice, said it was a grave mistake to delegate to attorneys decisions on the moral question of how prisoners should be treated.
"Mr. Zelikow, who reviewed the C.I.A. detention program as the executive director of the Sept. 11 commission, said the “cool, carefully considered, methodical, prolonged and repeated subjection of captives to physical torment, and the accompanying psychological terror, is immoral.”
Found on Angry Arab Newservice
"The Democratic Party, sensing the shifting winds of power, smelling presidential and even Congressional victory in 2008, has decided to do nothing with the many laws and regulations that inhibit Americans’ freedoms, rights and liberties. It has decided to do nothing to overturn or destroy Patriot Acts One and Two, the Military Commissions Act, Guantanamo and its many gulag brethren, signing statements powers, and the rising growth of the unitary executive the Bush administration has methodically created. It sees the growing power of the executive branch, senses it will indeed take possession of this branch in 2008, and salivates at the thought of controlling the unitary executive.
"Once it has control of the presidency, it can begin to implement all the promises of protecting and defending the “Homeland,” the better to market itself to the people as doing a better job at national security. It can begin to exhibit its machismo and testosterone abroad, perhaps flexing its muscles by attacking impotent third world nations, finally destroying the myth that it is weak on foreign policy and national security. In the meantime, it will appease the MIEC with greater defense spending, the Israel Lobby with continued one-sided support for Israeli apartheid and Iranian intervention, and the corporatist elite through the continued erosion of power of the people. With the neocon movement slowly and clandestinely shifting away from Republican circles and towards those of the Democratic Party, in essence aware of which party will hold power soon, and with so many Democratic pretenders fully embracing the guiding light of the neocon movement, imperial hegemony will continue abroad, facing down all potential rivals, and the path towards authoritarianism will only widen on the home front.
"Invariably, the shift rightward will continue in the years ahead, spearheaded by fear, terror and propaganda, taking the duopoly with it, tipping a now unbalanced fulcrum away from centrality and in the direction of authoritarianism, and corporatism. The descent of America into unchartered and unwelcome waters is only now beginning.
"It is so much easier and emotionally self-righteous to attack easier targets such as the Republicans and Bush White House. Lets face it, the media has not really changed and nor have many Democrats. They believe in convenient truths and don't recognize the importance of demanding media integrity. Don't forget that most of the media coverage was hostile to Democrats setting a timeline and many pundits pressured them to relent in the name of "pragmatism," patriotism, or getting the pork they wanted for their own districts.
"I don't think Cindy has really resigned from politics. But she is upset and has a right to be. She has lost so much and is also apparently in debt -- something this director of the film In Debt We Trust can relate to.
"Sometimes I wish I could resign from the media reform movement that I helped organize because it has been so hard for us to get support for Mediachannel.org, our fabulous media and democracy online network now in its seventh year. We will have to close our doors in a month unless we can find the funding to keep our modest operation alive.
"Unfortunately, our movement, like many others, has a hard time working together and prefers pricey conferences, "events," and behind the scenes lobbying to mass outreach, education, and organizing.
"Again, it's predictable to bash Fox News rather than focus on all the biased coverage across the spectrum. We need help to keep going even as some of our original backers suffer "funder fatigue," turning away from supporting long term movement-building work, and independent journalism, in favor of celebrity-oriented events that get their names in the paper.
"I was talking to an environmentalist who said that if you want a grant from any of those foundations, you have to have global warming in your agenda.
"Now, let's say you're working on fighting chemical companies in Cancer Alley. How do you work global warming into your agenda? Or if you're fighting factory trawlers, which are creating dead zones off the Pacific coast, how do you work global warming into that? But if you can't, then the money dries up.
"What it creates is a kind of inchoate state of environmental politics, because I don't think you can build a mass political movement around global warming.
"This is one of the ways where Alex Cockburn and I differ. Alex doesn't believe that humans can affect the environment. I know we can screw things up royally--I just don't think we can fix it.
In some ways, to me, global warming ought to be a kind of liberating experience. Yes, this is bad, but you really can't build a movement to fight it or correct it, so let's go fight things that we can defeat--whether it's strip mines, or the mismanagement of the Colorado River, or the Bush administration removing the grizzly bear in Yellowstone from listing under the Endangered Species Act.
"Those are battles that you can fight and win. But if you're cowering under the shadow of global warming, then you're not going to be able to wage those battles successfully.
I think that's one of the many reasons why the environmental movement is as impotent as the antiwar movement. It's shackled to a political party that has no vision, no spine and no guts. And it's economically dependent on a tiny network of foundations that it allows to control its political agenda.
"These foundations frown on any kind of militancy even when the moment demands militancy. If you take their money, and they expect you to dance to their tune.
Found on Counterpunch.org
Tuesday, May 29, 2007
Everyone has been referring to Franklin Lamb's article from the refugee camp Bedawi. Please read if you can. Has a lot of info you won't get elsewhere. From Counterpunch.org. Linda
"With very intermittent internet access and this ancient pc with one lone wire running from the spaghetti wiring system tied to the ceiling and taped to a single bare light bulb socket, plus 8 toddlers, two babies, crawling over and under this 'foreigner' in a 10 x 12 concrete room where 28 or more of us slept on the floor last night, this blurb may never be sent. But if it does get out and for what it's worthan update on the situation in the Palestinian Nabr al-Bared and Bedawi Camps. Will try to send results shortly of my interviews with 11 Fatah al-Islam fighters regarding who paid them and got them travel documents and weapons and what was their mission. There was no bank robbery by them. That wasa fake story put out by the Welch Club. Sorry I misreported it. BBC was suckered. Also, no, repeat no heads cut off. Where are the medical reports from those who claim it? That was black propaganda to smear Fatah el-Islam. Must leave this building nowmay not be until tomorrow or so.
Bedawi is teeming with new arrivals from al-Bared where there is still no water, power or food. A few NGO's still negotiating with army for permission to enter. (Still possible to sneak in from the east but getting more dangerous to try it). The problem is not being shot by Fatah al-Islam anymore. They are digging in. And the army is not as trigger happy as on Monday-Wednesday. The "security agents" on the slopes above the army looking down into al-Baled are the main sniper danger. People claim they are Hariri militia but I can not confirm that. The army told the PLO they would stop them but as of Saturday night they are still shooting. They are trying to shoot anyone they see inside or leaving al-Balad. Someone should stop them.
"Several hours ago I met a woman arriving from al-Bared who had walked the whole 7 miles with an 18 month old baby and a daughter of 5 who just stares into the press cameras with her mouth open and eyes glazed over. The Palestinian mother told us neither she nor her children have eaten or taken water for four days. The children will be ok. The mother's husband is in Syria she said and she has no relatives.
"One NGO group of three from Beirut left a few hours ago in tears from frustration, sadness and anger from repeatedly being stopped by the army from taking supplies to al Barad. Their cargo of water and blankets abandoned. On Saturday the Palestinian Red Crescent, which for a quarter century has provide the medical service to both camps has been formally and completely banned from al-Bared and told they will be shot if they try to enter al-Bared. I met with the PRCS leadership and drivers.
"There is some-near panic in Bedawi caused by many rumors. One rumor, widely believed, is that the Lebanese government plans to demolish al-Bared to make room for the huge US/NATO airbase which is to be built next to the camp. 5,000 of the Palestinians in al-Bared are from the 1975 ethnically cleansed east Beirut camp Telazatter. The PLO moved them to al-Bared at the beginning of the Lebanese civil war (1975-90) and they live close together in one al-Bared neighborhood. Saw women wailing that they may be another Telazatter massacre and destruction of their homes.
"Many Palestinian young men are being arrested as they leave al-Bared. An old woman sleeping in the same room as me last night told us that her son was taken as he left al-Bared on Monday and she has not heard from him. There are now 6 check points between Tripoli and Beirut. Many (I was told all but have not confirmed it) Palestinian males traveling to Beirut are being arrested and taken for interrogation. Some from al-Bared are afraid to try to go to Beirut and stay with relatives.
"Fear among PLO camp leaders that there could be a blood bath. "It's the Bush complex," one German NGO volunteer said. "The Lebanese government wants to be macho like the Israelis to gain some respect. This could be another Waco in the making, for no reason." The PLO is trying to mediate with the army to avoid a slaughter that would occur if the army tries to enter al-Bared. "What is needed is leadership and for the warlords to keep quiet. The army has behaved very badly but it's the politicians fault."
"Great fear that the army will try to enter al-Bared.
More explanation of what is happening in Lebanon...
"Bush, on the other hand, is trying to destabilize the entire region using the madcap neocon strategy of "creative destruction". He thinks that if he can erase the traditional borders and create a fragmented Middle East, the transnational corporations will be able to control the region's vast resources.
"Washington's allies in Beirut like the idea, too. Walid Jumblat, Sa'ad Hariri and Prime Minister Fuad Siniora"all believe that the outbreak of violence will only strengthen them politically.
and more from the article (click on link to read it all on Counterpunch.org)
"But if Fatah-al-Islam is an American-Saudi creation than why is the Bush administration shipping weapons to Lebanon to help kill them? Is this is another example of "blowback"---the unintended consequences of a misguided foreign policy?
"Yes and no.
"While it is true that the US uses terrorist organizations to further its policy objectives (The US supported Bin Laden in Afghanistan, the KLA in Kosovo, the Mujahedin Klaq in Iran) the situation in Lebanon is a bit more complex.
"Fatah al-Islam is comprised of Sunni radicals who were recruited from the other Gulf States to counterbalance Hezbollah. Now, it appears, they have outlived their usefulness and the Lebanese warlords have decided to eliminate them.
"According to independent journalist Franklin Lamb, who is reporting from the battered Bedawi refugee camp, the charges against the group are purely fabricated. "There was no bank robbery" and "no heads were cut off". The allegations in the western press were merely a pretext for restarting the fighting. The siege of Nahr al-Bared is probably just Phase 2 of Israel's 34 Day War--- a conflict in which "Israel's air force, armed with U.S.-manufactured and -fueled F-16s, went on a rampage with more than 14 combat missions every single hour of the war, destroying, among other things, 73 bridges, 400 miles of roads, 25 gas stations, 900 commercial structures, two hospitals, 350 schools and 15,000 Lebanese homes." (Dahr Jamail)
"The US-Israeli goals in Lebanon have never really changed. Israel wants a reliable client to its North and access to Lebanon's water supplies. They also want to crush their main enemy, Hezbollah, the Shiite resistance organization which has routed the IDF twice in the last 15 years.
"Andrew Card, President George W. Bush's former Chief of Staff, was showered with a chorus of boos and catcalls from students and faculty of the University of Massachusetts while receiving an honorary degree Friday. Protesters, who caught the embarrassing scene on video, attached anti-Card signs to their robes and drowned out Provost Charlena Seymour's remarks about Card's "public service." Even faculty sitting on stage joined in on the action, screaming their disapproval while holding signs that read "Card: No Honor, No Degree."
"Card, obviously shaken by the commotion, managed a slight grin while Seymour spoke. He later raised his hand in recognition but sat down without speaking at any length.
"After the ceremony, he refused to acknowledge the protests, only saying, "It was a great honor and a privilege to be here."
"The university community was upset with the school's decision to award Card an honorary degree, given his involvement in spinning intelligence in the lead up to the war in Iraq. Even before the ceremony began, 100 faculty members and students sang anti-war songs, handed out leaflets and waved signs outside the arena where commencement was held.
"A graduate of the University of South Carolina, Card was a supporter of UMass in his days as a Massachusetts lawmaker. He served as Bush's chief of staff from the president's first inauguration through 2006.
When I started reading this, I had a feeling I'd come to the sentence highlighted in red below:
"Dr. Arthur Caplan, director of the Center for Bioethics at the University of Pennsylvania, takes a middle ground. Although he understands the arguments of people like Dr. Narayan, he said, concerned doctors are not the only ones who want the research to go forward. Drug companies and the makers of medical devices have a financial stake in seeing that the research is done.
We are now guinea pigs for big pharma at the times we are most vulnerable--in emergency situations when we can't speak for ourselves. Wonder who will win out? Good medicine or big money? See more about this below. Click on the link to read the whole sad white wash in the NYTimes. Linda
"The Food and Drug Administration regulations, which took effect on Friday, apply only in carefully circumscribed situations. The patients must have a life-threatening condition, like a severe head injury, and must be unable to say whether they want to be part of a study. They would be selected only if it was not feasible to obtain consent from a relative.
"Furthermore, the community in which the research is done must be notified about the study, and the research design must have been reviewed and approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
"Even the most ardent supporters of the new regulations say they understand the seriousness of what they have done. They have repealed a principle that dates back to the Nuremberg trials of Nazi doctors after World War II, when American judges were agonizing over rules that might prevent doctors from ever again using human subjects in horrendous experiments. The judges wrote a code of ethics, the Nuremberg Code, whose first principle was that no one should ever be forced to take part in a medical experiment. ''The voluntary consent of the human subject is essential,'' they wrote.
Via the Undernews of the Progressive Review
"'It is all planned by the Americans who now want the Kurds to be involved in the sectarian fighting they engineered," he added.
"Many analysts in Baghdad believe the U.S. military is attempting to involve the Kurds in the escalating conflict by sending armed groups and death squads of other sects or ethnicities to engage the Kurdish forces in Baghdad in order to drag them into the conflict.
"However, the Kurds are reportedly attempting to not take sides and to remain neutral in the sectarian conflict, although most of them are Sunnis.
"IPS sources in Baghdad believe that bringing the Kurds into Baghdad in itself is the beginning of their participation in the sectarian violence, especially when they are attacked by Shiite militias on occasion.
"Others believe that the divide and conquer strategy by the U.S. military and U.S.-backed Iraqi politicians is being implemented across much of Baghdad.
"'The western half of Baghdad that holds the name of al-Karkh is inhabited by a majority of Sunni Arabs," Mohammad Shakir, a historian from the Dora region of Baghdad, told IPS. "But there are also a variety of Kurds and Shiite Arabs there, as is the case in most parts of Iraq where sects lived together in relative peace for centuries. This sectarian fighting was ignited by Iraqi politicians who came with the U.S. occupation to dominate power in Iraq."
"Kassim Awadi, an Iraqi political analyst in Baghdad, told IPS: "Although not likely to take place in the near future, the conflict between Kurds and the Shia fighters who are conducting an Iranian agenda could spread."
"'It seems to me that no sect will keep away from the civil war and it is not in the interest of either the U.S. occupation or Iran that any part of Iraq would stay stable," Awadi explained in an interview at his office. "The story of the fighting between Kurdish units and [Mehdi army] police units is not a strange one as the agendas for each party are completely different and the conflicts are definitely going to take place sooner or later if [Prime Minister Nouri] al-Maliki's government is to stay in power."
"Former Iraqi Army General Ahmed Khidir told IPS that he believes the violence in Baghdad is now permanent because occupation forces lost control long ago and are now completely reliant on various militias.
"'The U.S. army and the U.S. media are full of lies concerning being impartial, and the truth is that the Americans are working together with many armed groups who conduct massive killings," Khidir said. "One can clearly see the mass destruction policy towards Sunni areas while military operations against Shiite death squads are [restrained] and largely impotent."
(*Ali, our correspondent in Baghdad, works in close collaboration with Dahr Jamail, our U.S.-based specialist writer on Iraq who travels extensively in the region)
From InterPress Service via Dahr Jamail's listserve
Sunday, May 27, 2007
The link in the first line below will get you to the story by Kurt Nimmo on Another Day in the Empire about the CIA opening its little bag of dirty tricks in Iran again. For straight news on the story, you can go here. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2007/05/27/wiran27.xml
"The CIA, naturally, does very little by way of “peaceful” intervention, as John Stockwell, former CIA Station Chief in Angola, under then director Bush Senior, revealed in 1987. According to Stockwell’s estimation, the CIA, as of the late 1980s, was responsible for killing around six million people in “secret wars” against third world nations, that is to say “covert action” of the sort we are assured is now peacefully carried out against the elected government of Iran. Add to the total the million or so killed through medieval sanctions against Iraq under Bush Senior, Clinton, and Bush the Junior, and Junior killing an additional 700,000 over the last few years, and you have crimes approaching those of the Nazis, responsible for killing 15 million, although “Uncle Joe” Stalin apparently rivaled this number by killing over 20 million people, and Mao Ze-Dong’s “cultural revolution” claimed nearly 50 million human souls. At any rate, the CIA, under various presidents, is a top drawer organization when it comes to killing people off in large numbers.
"Since one needs to be a psychopath to rule the nation, or be considered to be selected to rule the nation, it is hardly surprising Mitt Romney and Tom Tancredo are “shocked” over ABC News decision to run this story.
"Imagine, however, if the shoe was on the other foot, if a news story had slipped out revealing Iran launched “peaceful” covert action designed to destabilize the Bush administration. Every yahoo in the country would be in the streets demanding Iran be reduced to a glass parking lot.
"But then, it was Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s Secretary of State, who declared: “If we have to use force, it is because we are America. We are the indispensable nation. We stand tall. We see further into the future.”
"In other words, if we have to kill seven or eight million people, including babies and grandmothers, and overthrow elected governments, target hospitals and water purification plants with cruise missiles, spread around cancer by way of depleted uranium, so be it.
"To whom do Kennedy, Kerry and Lynch listen? We know the answer: to the same people who have the ear of George W. Bush and Karl Rove - namely, wealthy individuals and institutions.
"Money buys access and influence. Money greases the process that will yield us a new president in 2008. When it comes to Iraq, money ensures that the concerns of big business, big oil, bellicose evangelicals and Middle East allies gain a hearing. By comparison, the lives of U.S. soldiers figure as an afterthought.
"Memorial Day orators will say that a G.I.'s life is priceless. Don't believe it. I know what value the U.S. government assigns to a soldier's life: I've been handed the check. It's roughly what the Yankees will pay Roger Clemens per inning once he starts pitching next month.
"Money maintains the Republican/Democratic duopoly of trivialized politics. It confines the debate over U.S. policy to well-hewn channels. It preserves intact the cliches of 1933-45 about isolationism, appeasement and the nation's call to "global leadership." It inhibits any serious accounting of exactly how much our misadventure in Iraq is costing. It ignores completely the question of who actually pays. It negates democracy, rendering free speech into little more than a means of recording dissent.
"This is not some great conspiracy. It's the way our system works.
"In joining the Army, my son was following in his father's footsteps: Before he was born, I had served in Vietnam. As military officers, we shared an ironic kinship of sorts, each of us demonstrating a peculiar knack for picking the wrong war at the wrong time. Yet he was the better soldier - brave and steadfast and irrepressible.
"I know that my son did his best to serve our country. Through my own opposition to a profoundly misguided war, I thought that I was doing the same. In fact, while was he was giving all, I was doing nothing. In this way, I failed him.
"Anyone who thinks politics is just about "making money" is nuts. Political parties emerge to take power---and that should be the objective of Labor---raw political power. Nothing else will do.
"What's needed is a broad coalition of leftist organizations coalescing in a party that represents the objectives of working people.
"Labor needs a voice in government and the Democrats are not that voice.
"By capitulating to Bush, the Democratic Party has cut the ground out from beneath itself and hastened its own demise. Good riddance. Now, let's push the rusty hulk out of the road and go forward.
From Uruknet.info and Counterpunch.org
"A Blackwater guard shot and killed an Iraqi driver Thursday near the Interior Ministry, according to three U.S. officials and one Iraqi official who were briefed on the incident but spoke on condition of anonymity because of a pending investigation. On Wednesday, a Blackwater-protected convoy was ambushed in downtown Baghdad, triggering a furious battle in which the security contractors, U.S. and Iraqi troops and AH-64 Apache attack helicopters were firing in a congested area.
"Blackwater confirmed that its employees were involved in two shootings but could neither confirm nor deny that there had been any casualties, according to a company official who declined to be identified because of the firm's policy of not addressing incidents publicly.
"Blackwater's security consulting division holds at least $109 million worth of State Department contracts in Iraq, and its employees operate in a perilous environment that sometimes requires the use of deadly force. But last week's incidents underscored how deeply these hired guns have been drawn into the war, their murky legal status and the grave consequences that can ensue when they take aggressive action.
"Matthew Degn, a senior American civilian adviser to the Interior Ministry's intelligence directorate, described the ministry as "a powder keg" after the Iraqi driver was shot Thursday, with anger at Blackwater spilling over to other Americans working in the building.
"Degn said he was concerned the incident "could undermine a lot of the cordial relationships that have been built up over the past four years. There's a lot of angry people up here right now."
Washington Post via Angry Arab Newservice
"EI: There is clearly an American hand in this. We saw the Lebanese government request military assistance, including ammunition and equipment from the United States, as a direct response to the events in Nahr al-Bared. How do you see the United States' role and let me broaden the question a little bit. How are the events in Lebanon linked to what is happening in Gaza and does the United States actually have a strategy for the region? What is the big picture here?
"ABUKHALIL: Certainly there is a heavy-handed American role in all this. A mere week ago the American Undersecretary of State for the Near East, David Welch, was visiting Lebanon. He met in an unprecedented manner with the commander-in-chief of the Lebanese army. This never happened in the past. We do not know what was discussed but the Lebanese press -- even the press loyal to the government -- indicated how unprecedented it was that Welch met with the commander-in-chief.
"As far as the Americans are concerned, we also have to note that first, there was an American official announcement that the Lebanese government made a request for emergency military assistance. And yet the Lebanese government promptly denied that it made such a request. And later they are denying the denial. Why are there these confused signals? What is being cooked behind the scenes? I think the answer to that is we have to look at the map of the Middle East to see the extent to which there are events that are quite related to one another.
"You look at Gaza and you find that the American funded, financed and armed militias of Muhammad Dahlan and [Palestinian Authority President] Mahmoud Abbas were tasked with fighting and killing other Palestinians. You look at Lebanon today and you find a Lebanese government financed, funded and armed by the American government and they are doing the same. Palestine and Lebanon have become more important not so much because of any attention that the US administration is willing to pay to those places, but particularly because of the failure of the American project in Iraq. So with victory eluding Bush in Iraq there is a desperate attempt to make some progress -- to use that cliché -- somewhere other than Iraq. And the places favored are Palestine and Lebanon because in those places there are US-armed and financed puppet militias that the US can use against its enemies and the enemies of Israel.
Via Electronic Lebanon
LUXEMBOURG - Israel should comply with the same demand being made of Iran, to cease its nuclear fuel-cycle and stop enriching uranium, Hans Blix, Chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), told Ynetnews Thursday. Blix had earlier delivered a speech at the International Conference on Preventing Nuclear Catastrophe being held in Luxembourg, where he warned that the "world is sleep-walking into nuclear rearmament."
Formally a top UN weapons inspector, Blix now heads the Sweden-based WMDC, which says it aims to "forge realistic and constructive ideas and proposals aimed at the greatest possible reduction of the dangers of weapons of mass destruction."In a report recently released by the WMDC, seen by Ynetnews, the Committee stated: "While Israel, feeling under threat from Iran and others, is not likely to discard its nuclear-weapon capability except as part f a peace settlement, it could help to reduce tension, as is now asked of Iran, by joining Iran and all other states in the region in a commitment to suspend and renounce any fuel-cycle activities," the report said.
"We assume Israel has 200 nuclear warheads. Stop the work in Dimona," Blix said.
'End reprocessing of uranium'
He outlined the Commission's vision for a nuclear free Middle East, and called on Israel to consider a "cessation of reprocessing of uranium" as a step to "contribute to the collective security of the Middle East."
"What would cause them to feel safe? The guarantee of a non-attack," he added. Blix dismissed military strikes, or the pressure created by the threat of such action, as failed means to end nuclear programs.
"The best way to guarantee security is a WMD free zone," Blix said. He said the Middle East should go down the road of the Korean peninsula, where both North and South Korea committed themselves to ridding the region of WMDs.
"If all countries in the Middle East commit themselves not to have a nuclear fuel cycle, that would create such a zone," Blix said. He added that he was not asking Israel to destroy its alleged nuclear arsenal, but to "end the reprocessing of uranium."
"You think your party is better than the Republican party? Think again. Maybe Democratic principles are more human, compassionate and respectable than the greed and hate based theocratic Republican principles, but the parties are not controlled by the voters. They are controlled by the establishment. The one establishment that controls our government.
"The success of the resistance movements in Iraq and Afghanistan and the appeal of their examples has encouraged new formidable anti-colonial struggles, led by Hizbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Palestine, the Islamic Courts Union in Somalia as well as having stiffened the resolve of Iranian leaders to resist US demands to unilaterally suspend their nuclear programs. Further abroad, the weakening of US global military interventionist capacity has taken the heat off of progressive governments in Venezuela and revolutionary Cuba. The consolidation of the Venezuelan nationalist-populist government has had a powerful demonstration impact throughout Latin America, encouraging new anti-imperialist movements and dissident governments in Ecuador and beyond. In an all out battle of ideas, programs, foreign aid and solidarity, Bush is losing out to President Chavez: Unable to launch a full-scale military invasion, to eliminate the Chavez government, Washington has failed to match Venezuela's vast petrol subsidies and promising alternative integration proposals: ALBA has prevailed over ALCA.
"The failure of Washington's will to a world empire has led to the shrinking of power relative to its global situation prior to 2001. And in large part that is due to the fighting capacity and organized resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan: Both have demonstrated that despite the great store of modern technological warfare and monopolies of media propaganda, wars are decided on the ground, by the popular majorities directly affected. It is they who set in motion the conversion of enthusiastic domestic majorities for the US war to demoralized minorities; it is they who have given backbone and resiliency to the Middle Eastern governments who vacillate between collaboration with and rejection of the colonial powers.
"It used to be George Bush’s war. You could have ended it honorably. Now it is yours and you all will descend into calumnious history with BushCo.
"The Camp Casey Peace Institute is calling all citizens who are as disgusted as we are with you all to join us in Philadelphia on July 4th to try and figure a way out of this "two" party system that is bought and paid for by the war machine which has a stranglehold on every aspect of our lives. As for myself, I am leaving the Democratic Party. You have completely failed those who put you in power to change the direction our country is heading. We did not elect you to help sink our ship of state but to guide it to safe harbor.
"We do not condone our government’s violent meddling in sovereign countries and we condemn the continued murderous occupation of Iraq .
"We gave you a chance, you betrayed us.
Founder and President of
Gold Star Families for Peace.
Founder and Director of
The Camp Casey Peace Institute
Eternally grieving mother of Casey Sheehan
Daily Kos via Google Alert
"I was there to support a graduating classmate. Sitting in the front row among proud parents, family and friends of graduating students, I was captivated by the speaker's words.
"'Nations and people do have dominant characteristics, and it's a good time, a necessary time, to think briefly about our own essential characteristics. What others think about us, how we see ourselves, and how we actually are, matters."
"But, the sense of awe did not last long. Two portly university security guards brought me back to reality.
"'Please come with us," one of them ordered. He caught me off guard. When I asked why, he told me, "You're making some people here nervous."
"It was disturbing to think that nothing more than my Middle Eastern appearance had aroused someone's suspicion. More shocking was the blunt inquiry of one of the guards about my national origin.
"I told him I was a US citizen. After showing forms of identification, including my card from the BBC Persian Service, he commented: "So, you're from Persia. Aren't Babylon and the Tigris River in Persia?"
"Officials at Georgetown say they have strict policies prohibiting racial and ethnic profiling, and have begun an investigation into the matter.
Courtesy BBC via Doug
"Time and again, even those Democrats who supported a mandatory troop withdrawal would talk about de-funding like it was some sort of grotesque act of betrayal ("oh, absolutely not, we will not de-fund the war. We will support our troops"). Over and over, this is what Americans heard even from Democrats who oppose the war:
Meanwhile, Senate Democrats have their own divisions. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, has called for initiating a withdrawal but has rejected a cutoff in funding. "I think that sends the wrong message to our troops," he said a few days ago. "We're going to support our troops, and one way to support them is to find a way out of Iraq earlier, rather than later.""Is it any wonder that Americans reached the completely irrational conclusion that to de-fund the war is to endanger the troops? Not only were Dick Cheney and Joe Lieberman saying this, so, too, were most leading Democratic war opponents.
"Thus, it was perfectly natural for Americans to assume that if virtually everyone -- including war opponents -- agreed that de-funding was the one measure that should not be considered, then there must be something truly dangerous and radical about it. Since virtually everyone rejected it as an option, it became toxic, and even most Americans who want an end to the war no matter how it is achieved turned against defunding.
Saturday, May 26, 2007
The recent surge of violence has dashed hopes for a renewed truce called for by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, whose secular Fatah group is part of a unity government with Hamas despite Israeli and Western opposition to the Islamist group.
Israel's latest air strikes in Gaza around 2100 GMT (1600 EST) destroyed structures used by a Hamas-led security force, wounding eight passers-by. Earlier strikes also targeted buildings used by the group and killed five Hamas militants.
Israel has killed more than 40 Palestinians, mainly militants, in Gaza since mid-May. Gaza militants have fired 220 rockets into Israel in the same period, including some on Saturday. An Israeli woman died in an attack earlier this week.
Most of the West has launched an aid embargo against the Palestinian government, demanding Hamas, which won a parliamentary election last year, renounce violence and recognize Israel and past Palestinian peace agreements with it.
"Our message to the Zionist enemy is that you have no future on our land," Abu Ubaida al-Jarrah, chief commander of Hamas's Executive Force, said in a broadcast on the militant group's radio station aired during a funeral for the fighters killed.
"Rural communities have seen some improvements, but essential services are scarce or inadequate. In provinces where Oxfam works such as Daikundi, there is no mains water or electricity, and virtually no paved roads. Average life expectancy in Daikundi is 42 and one in five children dies before the age of five. Afghan children chew on mud they scratch from the walls of their homes to stave off hunger.
******LATER IN ARTICLE:
"America is bankrolling Afghanistan. It is responsible for more than half of all aid to the country (aid that accounts for about a third of GDP), and it plans to provide $10.6bn in the next two years. But as in Iraq, a vast proportion of aid is wasted. Political pressure in donor countries for rapid results has led to projects that are unsuitable and unsustainable. Most aid money goes to programmes in the opium-intensive, insecure provinces in the south. To neglect secure provinces is to invite the insurgency to spread.
"Close to half of US development assistance goes to the five biggest US contractors in the country. Too much money is lost to high salaries and living costs, non-Afghan resources and corporate profits. The overall cost of one expatriate consultant is about half a million dollars a year. International contractors are indispensable, but there needs to be rigorous scrutiny, with targets for increased use of Afghan resources. An aid ombudsman could monitor complaints and make recommendations.
From The Independent via Angry Arab Newservice
Friday, May 25, 2007
To His Excellency Mr. Javier Solana
High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy,
Secretary-General of the Council of the European Union
Dear Mr. Solana,
You will undoubtedly have heard the news that Israeli occupation forces have carried out 33 kidnappings today of democratically-elected Palestinian officials, including lawmakers, mayors and the minister of education in the Palestinian Authority.
All of the kidnap victims are reported to be affiliated with Hamas, the movement which won the elections held in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip in January 2006. I believe these latest kidnappings have taken place in part because of your previous silence and inaction when Israel carried out similar kidnappings shortly after the elections. The total impunity that Israel and its officials enjoy when they violate the Fourth Geneva Conventions, UN Security Council Resolutions, the Universal Declarations of Human Rights, and agreements with the European Union, can only further encourage this rogue state to violate the rights of the Palestinian people.
At the same time, disturbing news reports indicate that collaborator militias armed and financed by the United States, and aided and abetted by Israel and the European Union are continuing to infiltrate into the occupied territories. These militias, led by Muhammad Dahlan, sparked the recent bloodshed in the Gaza Strip, and are acting as quisling forces against the Palestinian people under occupation. They play a similar role to the Contras in Nicaragua in the 1980s.
I am writing to demand that the European Union take the following actions:
(1) Invoke Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association agreement to suspend all bilateral aid and agreements with Israel until all political prisoners and hostages are released.
(2) In particular, to observe the Palestinian civil society call for boycott of Israeli academic institutions at least until such time as all restrictions on Palestinian educational institutions are lifted by the occupation forces and the kidnapped education minister Mr. Nasser al-Sha\'er is freed by the rogue forces who have taken him hostage.
(3) Cease all EU aid and support for collaborator militias and quisling forces.
Co-founder, The Electronic Intifada
"I prefer to think of it as a teachable moment.
"At a time when even conservatives have come to loathe Bush, when people who thought he was going to round up all the "illegal aliens" and deport them are so upset, they think impeachment's too good for him, the Democrats labor to craft legislation "acceptable" to him.
"Liberals have already spent six and a half years loathing Bush -- longer if they live in Texas, a state whose statutes are said to recognize two classes of persons: Fuckors and Fuckees.
"(Republicans and Democrats, the big shots, belong to the former class. You and I belong to the latter.)
"There is nothing particularly wrong with loathing Bush. It only becomes a problem when it prevents progressives from finally figuring out that the people they're really going to end up having to fight are the Democrats.
"As Big Walter the Thunderbird used to say, "Sho' is tough."
"Right now, both major parties are playing dodge ball with the planet, trying to avoid "ownership" of Iraq. The only way at this point to "own" the war is to stop it, and there is no serious move afoot to make that happen.
"Having used antiwar sentiment, and disgust over Katrina, to regain control of Congress, the Democrats have no intention of relinquishing power. They all "support the troops," who are being asked to "lay down their lives for America" in far Mesopotamia -- but you didn't expect these people you elected to lay down their political careers for the good of the country ... did you?
Thursday, May 24, 2007
"When I last saw Gaza, driving towards the Israeli checkpoint and the razor wire, I was rewarded with a spectacle of Palestinian flags fluttering from inside the walled compounds. Children were responsible for this, I was told. They make flagpoles out of sticks tied together and one or two will climb on to a wall and hold the flag between them, silently. They do it when there are foreigners around and they believe they can tell the world."
Below are the beginning paragraphs of Pilger's story, the last paragraph of which is above.
"Israel is being allowed to destroy the very notion of a state of Palestine and is imprisoning an entire nation. That is clear from the latest attacks on Gaza, whose suffering has become a metaphor for the tragedy imposed on the peoples of the Middle East and beyond. These attacks, reported on Britain's Channel 4 News, were "targeting key militants of Hamas" and the "Hamas infrastructure." The BBC described a "clash" between the same militants and Israeli F-16 aircraft.
Consider one such clash. The militants' car was blown to pieces by a missile from a fighter-bomber. Who were these militants? In my experience, all the people of Gaza are militant in their resistance to their jailer and tormentor. As for the "Hamas infrastructure," this was the headquarters of the party that won last year's democratic elections in Palestine. To report that would give the wrong impression. It would suggest that the people in the car and all the others over the years, the babies and the elderly who have also "clashed" with fighter-bombers, were victims of a monstrous injustice. It would suggest the truth.
"Some say," said the Channel 4 reporter, that "Hamas has courted this [attack] ..." Perhaps he was referring to the rockets fired at Israel from within the prison of Gaza which killed no one. Under international law an occupied people has the right to use arms against the occupier's forces. This right is never reported. The Channel 4 reporter referred to an "endless war," suggesting equivalents. There is no war. There is resistance among the poorest, most vulnerable people on earth to an enduring, illegal occupation imposed by the world's fourth largest military power, whose weapons of mass destruction range from cluster bombs to thermonuclear devices, bankrolled by the superpower. In the past six years alone, wrote the historian Ilan Pappé, "Israeli forces have killed more than 4,000 Palestinians, half of them children."
Consider how this power works. According to documents obtained by United Press International, the Israelis once secretly funded Hamas as "a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO [Palestine Liberation Organization] by using a competing religious alternative," in the words of a former CIA official.
Today, Israel and the US have reversed this ploy and openly back Hamas's rival, Fatah, with bribes of millions of dollars. Israel recently secretly allowed 500 Fatah fighters to cross into Gaza from Egypt, where they had been trained by another American client, the Cairo dictatorship. The Israelis' aim is to undermine the elected Palestinian government and ignite a civil war. They have not quite succeeded. In response, the Palestinians forged a government of national unity, of both Hamas and Fatah. The latest attacks are aimed at destroying this.
Jeff Cohen (via Left I on the News) from Commondreams on the Dems capitulation.
"One need not be a linguist like George Lakoff to know that it’s hard to win a debate on the other guy’s assumptions. Or worse, the other guy’s lies.
"For years Team Bush has sought to shroud their devastating and deepening Iraq occupation in the myth of troop protection. When they doled out contracts to Halliburton and Blackwater, it was about “funding the troops.” Even as VA health services were threatened, it was about “funding the troops.” Every yearly extension of the Iraq occupation is about “funding the troops.”
"As Democratic leaders in Congress moved to hoist the white flag of surrender this week - giving Bush/Cheney billions more for Iraq without any timeline for withdrawal - we heard Speaker Nancy Pelosi repeatedly assuring the media that before Memorial Day, “We will have legislation to fund the troops!”
"The shared pretense of the White House and Democratic leaders is that funding the Iraq occupation is somehow a program on behalf of the troops. Like a subsidy for family farmers.
"Instead of challenging this misleading rhetoric by saying “The only way to support the troops is by ending an unwinnable occupation and fully funding a safe withdrawal,” Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid proclaims, “We will never abandon our troops in a time of war.” Along with the utterly confused: “No one wants us to succeed in Iraq more than the Democrats.”
"What Democrats need to be saying, repeatedly, is that it’s Bush/Cheney who abandoned several thousand U.S. troops to avoidable deaths in a disastrous occupation, and tens of thousands to horrible injuries. And that they’re willing to abandon still more troops to unnecessary death and injury. Democrats also need to talk about polls that consistently show most U.S. troops in Iraq support withdrawal, as do most Iraqis.
"As Military Families Speak Out says: “Funding the war is not supporting our troops. The way to support our troops is to bring them home now and take care of them when they get here.”
The Palestinians: leaving Nahr Al-Barid refugee camp to Al-Baddawi refugee camp. In Israel and Lebanon, they call them terrorists.
For those who don't know Angry Arab, he is being sarcastic with this last remark. Linda
Wednesday, May 23, 2007
"She added, "'They should know that we resent them more now, and we will teach the future generations to take revenge for the innocent souls killed by the American criminals."
"A doctor in Samarra's main hospital, speaking like many others on condition of anonymity, told IPS that at least 10 people, including seven babies, had died because of lack of fuel for generators needed to run incubators and life-saving equipment. At least two elderly patients were among the dead.
"Despite pleas from residents to U.S. and Iraqi forces to allow in aid, none has arrived and the curfew continues.
"'Sometimes," said Brendan Gallagher, the captain who oversees Williamson, "we like to comfort ourselves when we are taking a lot of IEDs and casualties by saying that the enemy is desperate, they are doing this because they are scared. But how many times can they actually be desperate? I sometimes worry that this period will end up going down here as their surge, not ours."
LA Times via Angry Arab Newservice
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
"It's summertime and Lebanon is making headline news again. "'Lebanon hit by worst violence since civil war'" the first headline on the Google News aggregator screeches (as if the last summer never happened.)
"Well it was about time. The events in Gaza were getting way too depressing. The rhetoric of "severe and harsh" responses, the "promise" of a painful escalation emanating from that profane hole in Olmert's face were just a tad too familiar. So it's time for something new and slightly more esoteric:
"Fatah al Islam-- a kooky Salafist group, which nobody had heard about until recently-- has set up shop in the Nahr el Bared Palestinian refugee camp and is battling it out with the Lebanese army. The group apparently also own prime real estate in an upscale neighborhood of nearby Tripoli -- worth a million dollars and upwards-- which they used as snipers' nests during the house to house gun battles yesterday.
"The fighting erupted early Sunday morning when soldiers raided an apartment inhabited by militants to arrest the suspected perpetrators of a bank robbery. Fatah al Islam subsequently stormed the army posts outside the camp, lining up and executing eleven soldiers. At least 47 dead in yesterday's clashes, without an updated casualty count from the besieged Nahr el Bared camp where 40,000 Palestinian refugees live. Fighting continued today.
"Nobody really knows who Fatah al Islam are or what they want. Their members reportedly hail from as far as Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Bangladesh. They stand accused of having ties to Al Qaeda in Iraq and of carrying out the Ain Alaq bus bombing, which the group denies ( very un-qaeda'esque not to claim responsibility.) According to a spokesman, they seek to "protect the Sunnis of Lebanon" and a sheikh associated with them recently complained that only the Shi'a are allowed to yield weapons. The militant equivalent of penis envy, perhaps. Either way, they need better PR.
There is more. Click on the link the first paragraph to see what she quotes from Seymour Hersh.