Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.ipsnews.net/news.asp?idnews=41794
The Arab summit kicked off Saturday with a fiery speech from Libyan President Muammar Gaddafi attacking fellow Arab leaders for doing nothing while the U.S. invaded Iraq in 2003.
"How can we accept that a foreign power comes to topple an Arab leader while we stand watching," said Gaddafi. Saddam Hussein, he said, had once been an ally of Washington. "But they sold him out." He then pointed to Arab officials at the conference to say, "Your turn is next."
The Libyan leader added: "Where is the Arabs' dignity, their future, their very existence? Everything has disappeared."
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees says there are at least 1.5 million displaced Iraqis in Syria alone.
"Five years now, and things are getting worse in Iraq while only two poor Arab countries (Syria and Jordan) are taking the load of Iraqis who fled their country for safety," Malek Sabeeh from the Iraqi Centre for Human Rights told IPS.
"Syria was our first safe haven, but how long can this country that has limited resources stand the high cost of hosting such a huge number of refugees while other countries are paying billions of dollars for building separation walls between them and Iraq, and now boycotting such an important summit." Sabeeh was referring to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait who are building protection walls along their borders with Iraq.
Leaders from Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan stayed away from the summit after Washington urged its allies to think twice before attending.
Many Iraqi refugees also expressed anger over the lack of support from the Gulf countries. Gulf countries such as the United Arab Emirates do not allow Iraqis in, and their contributions to Iraqi refugees have been modest.
Many Iraqis say the absence of many Arab leaders highlighted the deep divisions caused by the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq across the Middle East. "This nation will never be united as long as Americans have their fingers in the area," Sheikh Faris Ahmed, an Iraqi cleric who brought his son for medical treatment in Syria told IPS.
Egypt and some Gulf countries have recently signed arms deals with the U.S. worth several billion dollars.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Sunday, March 30, 2008
BEIT HANUN, (PIC)-- IOF soldiers last night killed a Palestinian teenager for coming close to the security fence between northern Gaza Strip and Palestinian lands occupied in 1948.
Medical sources said on Saturday that the unidentified Palestinian youth was barely 18 and was hit with IOF bullets near the "border fence" north of Beit Hanun.
They told PIC correspondent that IOF informed the Palestinian medical teams that a Palestinian was killed near the fence but would not allow ambulances to collect his body Friday night citing alleged security reasons.
IOF sources said that soldiers spotted an "armed" man while approaching the security fence and fired at him. They claimed that the Palestinian tossed a grenade at the soldiers before being killed, and said that no casualties were suffered in lines of the soldiers.
Meanwhile, in southern Gaza, 27-year-old Rami Qudaih was wounded on Saturday morning when IOF tanks fired their machineguns at Palestinian agricultural lands and houses east of Khuzaa, in Khan Younis district.
Medical sources told PIC that Qudaih was hit in his right leg, describing his condition as "moderate".
The Quds Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Jihad Movement, said that its fighters fired a locally made Quds missile at the Migen settlement east of Khan Younis on Saturday morning.
In the West Bank town of Qabatia, Jenin district, the same armed wing said that its fighters engaged invading IOF troops that infiltrated into the town early Saturday in search of Jihad activists.
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At the five-year anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, the U.S. government has hit another milestone — 4,000 U.S. soldiers dead.
And what have those soldiers died for? They died for the same thing that 58,000 soldiers died for in Vietnam — nothing.
Well, okay, not exactly nothing:
(1) They died to oust a dictator from office that U.S. officials didn’t like, only to be replaced by a radical Islamic regime that has aligned itself with Iran, which U.S. officials are still considering starting a war against.
(2) They died because U.S. officials need to save face through some sort of “victory” (whatever that means) despite the fact that the U.S. government has no legal or moral right to be in Iraq.
(3) They died in the destruction of an entire country, one whose government and citizenry had never attacked the United States and which, in fact, did not want a war with the United States.
(4) They died as part of an imperial adventure that has sent the U.S. economy into a tailspin, led by a dollar whose value, not surprisingly, continues to plunge in international markets.
At least we know the exact number of U.S. soldiers who have died in Iraq. Early on, the Pentagon decided that Iraqis killed in the war simply would not be counted. That’s why there are only estimates of Iraqi dead, estimates that go as high as a million. The idea was that since the goal of helping the Iraqi people was considered a noble one, no one should really care how many of them died in the operation. In the minds of U.S. officials, no price was too high in the number of Iraqi deaths to achieve their goal.
In a fascinating use of language, U.S. military officials are still referring to the Iraqis they kill as “terrorists” rather than as “insurgents.” For example, according to a front-page article in today’s New York Times, “American forces on Sunday reported killing ‘12 terrorists’ who had attacked ground troops east of Baquba.”
But what U.S. officials never explain is why a person who is fighting to rid his country of an illegal foreign occupier (a war of aggression was punished as a war crime at Nuremberg) is a “terrorist.” I thought that a terrorist was a person who attacked civilian targets for political ends. Since U.S. occupation forces in Iraq are military personnel, not civilians, why are those Iraqis who are trying to oust the occupiers considered “terrorists?”
As the occupation of Iraq continues indefinitely, there will of course be more deaths, American and Iraqi. According to yesterday’s Washington Post, at least American widows or widowers receive half-a-million U.S. dollars for the loss of their spouses. While the U.S. government sometimes makes nominal payments to Iraqis, mostly Iraqis survivors are left with nothing but anger, resentment, and grief, which shouldn’t surprise anyone, especially since no one asked their consent to the U.S. invasion and occupation of their country.
found on Antiwar.com
Friday, March 28, 2008
The Maliki gov't at probable U.S. behest rains down hell on the Iraqi people again.
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/stalled-assault-on-basra-exposes-the-iraqi-governments-shaky-authority-801776.html
The Iraqi army's offensive against the Shia militia of the radical cleric Muqtada al-Sadr in Basra is failing to make significant headway despite a pledge by the Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to fight "to the end".
Instead of being a show of strength, the government's stalled assault is demonstrating its shaky authority over much of Baghdad and southern Iraq. As the situation spins out of Mr Maliki's control, saboteurs blew up one of the two main oil export pipelines near Basra, cutting by a third crude exports from the oilfields around the city. The international price of oil jumped immediately by $1 a barrel before falling back.
In Baghdad, tens of thousands of supporters of Mr Sadr, whose base of support is the Shia poor, marched through the streets shouting slogans demanding that Mr Maliki's government be overthrown. "We demand the downfall of the Maliki government," said one of the marchers, Hussein Abu Ali. "It does not represent the people. It represents Bush and Cheney."
The main bastion of the Sadrist movement is impoverished Sadr City, which has a population of two million and is almost a twin city to Baghdad. The densely packed slum has been sealed off by US troops. "We are trapped in our homes with no water or electricity since yesterday," said a resident called Mohammed. "We can't bathe our children or wash our clothes."
The streets are controlled by Mehdi Army fighters, many of whom say they expect an all-out American attack, though this seems unlikely since the US says that an attack on the Shia militias is a wholly Iraqi affair.
To read more about how this works out well for Bush and his successors, scroll down to "Operation Permanent Presence" here: http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Iraqi doctors in al-Anbar province warn of a new disease they call "Blackwater" that threatens the lives of thousands. The disease is named after Blackwater Worldwide, the
U.S.mercenary company operating in . "This disease is a severe form of malarial infection caused by the parasite plasmodium falciparum, which is considered the worst type of malarial infection," Dr. Ali Hakki from Fallujah told IPS. "It is one of the complications of that infection, and not the ordinary picture of the disease. Because of its frequent and severe complications, such as Blackwater fever, and its resistance to treatment, P. falciparum can cause death within 24 hours." What Iraqis now call Blackwater fever is really a well-known medical condition, and while it has nothing to do with Blackwater Worldwide, Iraqis in al-Anbar province have decided to make the connection between the disease and the lethal U.S.-based company which has been responsible for the death of countless Iraqis. The disease is most prevalent in Africa and Iraq Asia. The patient suffers severe intravascular haemolysis -- the destruction of red blood cells leading to kidney and liver failure. It also leads to black or red urination, and hence perhaps the new name 'Blackwater'. The deadly disease, never before seen in on at least this scale, seems to be spreading across the country. And Iraq lacks medicines, hospitals, and doctors to lead a campaign to fight the disease. Iraq
Portion below; whole thing at: http://www.alternet.org/waroniraq/80580/?page=entire
2. U.S. is propping up unpopular regime; Sadr has support because of his platform
One of the ironies of the reporting out of Iraq is the ubiquitous characterization of Muqtada al-Sadr as a "renegade," "radical" or "militant" cleric, despite the fact that he is the only leader of significance in the country who has ordered his followers to stand down. His ostensible militancy appears to arise primarily from his opposition to the U.S.-led occupation of Iraq.
He has certainly been willing to use violence in the past, but the "firebrand" label belies the fact that Sadr is arguably the most popular leader among a large section of the Iraqi population and that he has forcefully rejected sectarian conflict and sought to bring together representatives of Iraq's various ethnic and sectarian groups in an effort to create real national reconciliation -- a process that the highly sectarian Maliki regime has failed to accomplish.
It's vitally important to understand that Sadr's popularity and legitimacy is a result of his having a platform that's favored by an overwhelming majority of Iraqis.
- Favor a strong central government free of the influence of militias.
- Oppose, by a 2-1 margin, the privatization of Iraq's energy sector -- a "benchmark towards progress according to the Bush administration.
- Favor a U.S. withdrawal on a short timeline (PDF) (most believe the United States plans to build permanent bases -- both are issues about which the Sadrists have been vocal.
- Oppose al Qaeda and the ideology of Osama Bin Laden and, to a lesser degree, Iranian influence on Iraq's internal affairs.
With the exception of their opposition to Al Qaeda, the five major separatist parties -- Sunni, Shia and Kurdish -- that make up Maliki's governing coalition are on the deeply unpopular side of these issues. A poll conducted last year found that 65 percent of Iraqis think the Iraqi government is doing a poor job, and Maliki himself has a Bush-like 66 percent disapproval rate.
As in Vietnam, the United States is backing an unpopular and decidedly undemocratic government in Iraq, and that simple fact explains much of the violent resistance that's going on in Iraq today.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/03/23/AR2008032301990_pf.html
Inside a joint security station in the Sinaa neighborhood, Wissam Fezaa, 20, was screaming into a police radio: "Arrest him! Arrest him!" A man did not have the proper badge to drive his truck.
"He will stay for 30 to 40 days in prison as punishment so he'll never do it again," said Fezaa, who was wearing a blue T-shirt with "Fallujah Police" emblazoned on the back. Asked whether the punishment was too harsh, he replied, "If we were not strong, we cannot control the city."
That is how Zobaie's men control Fallujah. With two U.S. Marines a few feet away, Fezaa said that if he caught a criminal or terrorism suspect in front of people, he would not hurt him. And if he captured him alone? "I wouldn't even let him walk afterward," he said. He pulled an electric stun gun from his leg holster. "I've used this before," he declared.
Capt. Mohammed Yousef, a ruddy-faced police investigator in another joint security station, said he sometimes has to beat suspects to make them confess. He has interrogated suspects since 1994, he said, and sees no need to change his methods.
"Since Saddam Hussein until now, Iraq obeys only the force," Yousef said. "We are practicing the same old procedures."
Abu Rahma, 43, a taxi driver and father of four, was a victim of that approach. He was taken into custody last March and tortured in Fallujah's jail. "They kept beating me to force me to confess," he said. "I told them I am not with al-Qaeda, and neither is my brother. They beat me everywhere on my body. . . . Some of my nails were taken out."
Abu Rahma spent 64 days in the cell. On the 65th day, he was released. "It was like being born again," he said.
Zobaie's harshest critics also acknowledge that Fallujah needs a man like him.
Salman, the imam, said Zobaie controls the city with "a fire fist."
"But to be honest, security is restored under this guy," he said. "We have a saying in Iraq: 'Fever is better than death.' We were dead. Life stopped at 2 p.m. Everybody was afraid of themselves, including me. If he didn't use the force, the security wouldn't be restored. We don't like the weak man."
* * * * *
What Zobaie wants is for the U.S. military to hand over full control of Fallujah. He believes Iraq's current leaders are not strong enough. Asked whether democracy could ever bloom here, he replied: "No democracy in Iraq. Ever."
"When the Americans leave the city," he said, "I'll be tougher with the people."
Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Sunday, March 23, 2008
- Barack Obama on LARRY KING LIVE: March 20, 2008
From Deep in the Heart of Nowhere
By the way, here are some CNN facts about the first Gulf War Obama liked so much--Linda:
"In June 1991, the U.S. estimated that more than 100,000 Iraqi soldiers died, 300,000 were wounded, 150,000 deserted and 60,000 were taken prisoner. Many human rights groups claimed a much higher number of Iraqis were killed in action. According to Baghdad, civilian casualties numbered more than 35,000. However, since the war, some scholars have concluded that the number of Iraqi soldiers who were killed was significantly less than initially reported."
Portion of Palestine Groups' Letter to Angela Merkel after her address to the Israeli parliament. Whole thing here: http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=42297&s2=23
Over the past four decades Israel has persistently disregarded all UN resolutions. Just last week, weren't another set of new plans announced for settlements? The settlements in Jerusalem, such as Givat Seev or Pisgat Seev, are supposed to be extended with altogether 750 new apartments. The same had been announced for Gabal Abu Gneim – only a mere three months after the Annapolis Peace Conference.
Didn't the International Court of Justice in The Hague condemn the wall Israel is building on Palestinian territory in the West Bank as being in violation of international law and ruled it must be dismantled? As you, Madame Chancellor, read these few lines, this perfidious monstrosity is nearing 70% completion – with the accompanying genocidal policy of land annexation, evictions and ethnic cleansing.
Is the Palestinian population supposed to submit to permanent chicanery, humiliation, degradation at the approx. 580 Israeli checkpoints located on a surface of 5,860m²? Massacres, abuse and abductions are also aspects of Palestinian daily life. Aren't there more than 10,000
Palestinians – one-third of whom are women and children – still languishing in Israeli jails? Hasn't Israel been repeatedly called upon to immediately release the parliamentarians, elected in free and democratic elections, provided for, by the way, under terms of the Roadmap?
While you are reading these lines, Madame Chancellor, not a single Palestinian farmer will tend his field without fear of attack by the occupiers and belligerent settlers. While you hold this letter in hand, not a single Palestinian woman in need of emergency medical assistance, can be sure she can reach the salvation of a hospital in time! And, absolutely no Palestinian family – in the time it takes for you to contemplate these thoughts – can know if tomorrow they will still have their remaining plot of land, if their children will still be able to reach the so vital educational facilities, or if the other members of the family are safe and sound. Israeli peace rhetoric must be followed by peace deeds!
In his report to the UN Human Rights Council about two weeks ago, Professor at Law John Dugard ascertained that no other western allied nation denies a people their self-determination and human rights to the extent that Israel does. Colonization, apartheid and occupation – these are Israel's policies in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip even today. Besides, technological development permits Israel to control the inhabitants of Gaza, even without a permanent military presence, thanks to Israel's aerial, maritime and border dominion over that hermetic coastal strip.
Since Israeli disengagement in August 2005, about 1.5 million Palestinians have been made to endure the isolation, imprisonment and occupation imposed upon the Gaza Strip territory – this inhumane gruesome occupation policy extinguishes every flicker of hope in coming generations. No less appalling are the Israeli attacks on Palestinian civilians, women and children. And as you read these words, more families are mourning the most recent victims of these aggressions.
Saturday, March 22, 2008
Friday, March 21, 2008
Portion below; whole thing here at "Stop Me Before I Vote Again": http://www.smithbowen.net/linfame/
The Bushists have packaged and handed the liberals the greatest electoral gift possible. The worst president ever has set fire to everything in sight and passed his mantle on to a loon. They should be able to run a cardboard cut-out, and still win.
Well, maybe not. They have a chance throw this one too, as well as what's left of the welfare state. They'll be crackpot realists to the bitter end, suckling the moral vanity of comic book pragmatism as they try to shoehorn something loathsome and anti-liberal into office.
Thursday, March 20, 2008
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
"My son has been on hunger strike for a week," says Ramdan al-Baba, standing outside the Red Cross office. "He worked as a guard at [former] president Yasser Arafat's compound in Ramallah in 2003. His crime was that he had that job." The conditions in Israeli prison are dire, he said. "I can't even send him a letter."
Palestinians find themselves unable to invoke habeas corpus, a provision under the Geneva Convention by which a state must produce information on the whereabouts of a person within its jurisdiction. Israel denies this option on the grounds that it is not necessary for persons under administrative detention. At the moment 863 Palestinians have been in jail for more than 15 years under such detention, according to official Palestinian figures.
There are a total of 10,400 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. These include 90 women and 328 children below the age of 18, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees and Ex-Detainees. Forty-six of the prisoners are members of parliament, mostly members of Hamas.
Israeli human rights groups say that security forces called Shin Bet regularly torture Palestinians in Israeli jails. The two groups B'Tselem and HaMoked: Centre for Defence of Individuals, tracked 73 prisoners between July 2005 and July 2006. They reported that Shin Bet routinely uses "beatings, painful binding, back bending, body stretching and prolonged sleep deprivation" to torture Palestinian prisoners.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.socialistworker.org/2008-1/666/666_06_Manifesto.shtml
Many famous people have agreed with this [socialism] as a hope or a wish or a dream--Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, Moses, Spartacus, Ghandi and Martin Luther King to name a few.
However, Marx and Engels make a very specific case about how to make this vision of a different kind of world concrete:
The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles. Freeman and slave, patrician and plebian, lord and serf... in a word, oppressor and oppressed, stood in constant opposition to one another, carried on an uninterrupted, now hidden, now open fight, a fight that each time ended, either in a revolutionary reconstitution of society at large, or in the common ruin of the contending classes.
So once primitive communism is replaced by the haves and have-nots, two things happen: The rich fight like hell to get richer, while the poor resist their exploitation to the best of their ability.
Human history is about our capacity as a species to innovate, and then about the fight over who will benefit from our collective efforts--everyone equally or a domineering minority.
The rich usually manage to keep control because they can pay other people to carry arms to enforce their will, and they have the leisure time to dedicate to politics. But any given ruling class always has to watch out for a challenge from two sources: either foreign competitors abroad and newly emerging wealthy classes at home, or the solidarity of the lower classes banding together to try to upend the status quo.
It is very common in history for one ruling class to be replaced by another: the Greeks beat the Persians, the Romans beat the Germans, the Chinese beat the Vietnamese, the Moguls beat the Hindus, the Aztecs beat the Tepanecs. More recently, European and American imperialism has seized control of most parts of the world. Many mainstream historians choose their favorite conquering nation, and then write history based on defending that conquest.
Marx and Engels certainly recognized that this happened, but they were interested in a different fight: namely, could the oppressed people in any given country work together to get rid of their rulers and get back to running society cooperatively, like primitive communism, but with better technology? And if they could, was it possible to spread that revolution internationally?
Their affirmative answer is as radical today as it was back then. Contrary to myth, the Communist Manifesto never said that socialism was inevitable. In fact, Marx and Engels pointed out that the "common ruin of the contending classes" was very common in history and a real danger.
Today, we have to ask ourselves what will happen to the planet if we cannot successfully challenge the power of the imperialists and the corporations. Every year, 6 million children die from malnourishment and lack of cheap medicines. Wars are killing millions more, and, sooner or later, some president or premier will decide that nuclear warfare is "reasonable." Global warming endangers thousands of species, and the drinking water and farmland upon which hundreds of millions of people rely.
The disasters that modern capitalism has in store for us make the collapse of Rome look like a picnic. But socialism, a society based on democratic planning of the economy in order to eradicate poverty and oppression, is not a pipe dream. It is one of our possible futures.
Of course, Marx and Engels--and countless millions of working-class socialist activists--fought and died without achieving their goals. And today, they seem even farther away.
Marx and Engels would be the last people to tell you that simply reading the Communist Manifesto would change the world. But it just might change you.
How about that bet?
Hamas’s and Haniyeh’s Popularity Increase and Fateh’s and Abbas’s Decrease--Palestine Public Opinion Poll
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.pcpsr.org/survey/polls/2008/p27epressrelease.html
These are the results of the latest poll conducted by the
Palestinian Centerfor Policy and Survey Research (PSR) in the West Bankand the Gaza Strip between 13 and 15 March 2008. This period witnessed a limited lull that prevailed between Israeland Hamas in the Gaza Strip in the aftermath of the Israeli incursion into Gazain early March that left more than 130 Palestinians dead and after the bombing attack in West Jerusalemthat led to the death of 8 Israeli religious students. Total size of the sample is 1270 adults interviewed face to face in 127 randomly selected locations. Margin of error is 3%. For further details, contact PSR director, Dr. Khalil Shikaki, or Walid Ladadweh at tel 02-296 4933 or email email@example.com.
Findings indicate that a major shift, in Hamas’s favor, had occurred during the last three months with about 10% of the population shifting their attitudes and perceptions. The change included increased popularity of Hamas and its leadership, increased support for its positions and legitimacy, and greater satisfaction with its performance. These changes might have been the result of several political developments starting with the breaching of the Rafah border with Egypt during the last week of January and first week of February, followed by the Israeli military incursion into the Gaza Strip leading to a large number of Palestinian causalities and an increase in the number of rockets launched from the Gaza Strip against Israeli towns such as Sderot and Ashkelon, the two suicide attacks in Dimona and Jerusalem leading to the death of nine Israelis, and ending with the failure of the Annapolis process in positively affecting daily life of Palestinians in the West Bank, in stopping Israeli settlement activities, or in producing progress in final status negotiations. These developments managed to present Hamas as successful in breaking the siege and as a victim of Israeli attacks. These also presented Palestinian President Abbas and his Fateh faction as impotent, unable to change the bitter reality in the
West Bankor ending Israeli occupation through diplomacy.
Monday, March 17, 2008
Portion below; whole thing here (found on Angry Arab Newservice):
Reading between the sheets, the world of “Kristen” and Eliot Spitzer may seem relatively benign. She may have been abused as a child, and tangled with drugs and homelessness, but she was also a consenting adult who apparently kept half the cash that customers paid for her.
That’s a dangerously unrepresentative glimpse of prostitution in America. Those who work with street prostitutes say that what they see daily is pimps who control teenage girls with violence and threats — plus an emotional bond — and then keep every penny the girl is paid.
“Sometimes I meet a girl who says, ‘I have a really good pimp — he beats me only with an open hand,’ ” said Rachel Lloyd, a former prostitute who runs a program for underage prostitutes in New York City. “Many of the girls see the pimps as boyfriends, but violence is integral to everything that happens in the sex industry. That’s how you get punished for not bringing in your quota for that evening, or for looking your pimp in the eye.”
Bradley Myles, who works in Washington for an antitrafficking organization called Polaris Project, says it is astonishing how similar the business model is for pimping across the country. Pimps crush runaway girls with a mix of violence and affection, degradation and gifts, and then require absolute obedience to a rigid code: the girl cannot look the pimp in the eye, call him by his name, or keep any cash.
Every evening she must earn a quota of money before she can sleep. She may be required to tattoo the pimp’s name on her thigh. And in exchange he may make presents of clothing or jewelry.
It’s complicated: What keeps her isn’t just fear, but also often an emotional connection.
“When somebody wields power over you to kill you and doesn’t, you feel this bizarre thankfulness,” Mr. Myles said. “It’s trauma bonding.”
When a middle-class white girl ends up controlled like this — think of Elizabeth Smart, the Utah girl who was kidnapped in 2002 and apparently did not try to escape — then everybody is outraged at the way the kidnapper manipulated her. But when the girls are black, poor and prostituted, there is either indifference or an assumption that they are consenting to the abuse.
“It’s about race and class,” said Ms. Lloyd, who is bewildered when she sees Amber alerts for abducted children. Last year she worked with 250 teenage girls who had been prostituted, and not one of them ever merited an Amber alert.
“If we served 250 white girls from upstate middle-class homes, we’d be rolling in money,” she added, “and we’d be changing the law.”
Sunday, March 16, 2008
End portion below; whole thing here: http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/iraq/2004285470_iraq5halfway16.html
The insurgency, however, may not be the most worrisome problem in coming years. Some people think the worst struggle will be keeping friction between Iraq's Sunnis and Shiites from ballooning into civil war.
"I don't know anyone who pays serious attention to Iraq who thinks that we are over the hump in terms of internal violence," said Jon Alterman, the Middle East program director at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "There are a lot of unsettled scores and no ongoing political process that seems likely to address them."
If the Democrats win in November, these type of assessments will clash with their calls for a rapid and comprehensive withdrawal.
By that time, U.S. troop strength is expected to shrink with the pullout of many of the 30,000 forces that poured into central Iraq last year as part of President Bush's buildup. Pentagon officials expect to be at 140,000 soldiers by July, 8,000 more than the total before the buildup.
Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, has predicted the insurgency will "go on for years and years and years." But, eventually, the Iraqi forces will have to fight alone. It's the often-touted South Korean scenario: local forces someday on the front lines with a U.S. military presence in a supporting role, possibly for decades.
"A thousand years. A million years. Ten million years," McCain said in New Hampshire in January. "It depends on the arrangement we have with the Iraqi government."
It depends, too, on whether the Iraqis and their government can hold on. To a lesser extent, the war's length also hinges on world sentiment. The U.N. Security Council mandate for the U.S.-led force in Iraq is set to expire at the end of the year, which could increase international pressure for withdrawal.
But more than anything else, it depends on whether Americans are willing.
Mary Shuldt is losing patience. Living at Fort Campbell in the Kentucky lowlands, she wonders how many more times her husband and the 101st Airborne Division will be called to Iraq. "Our families are being ripped apart," she said. "When is enough enough?"
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Portions below; whole thing here: http://www.counterpunch.org/wright03152008.html
The [Corries'] case was closed and no charges were brought. The report would not even be released to the U.S. government, whose billions in annual largesse ranked Israel as by far the largest recipient of American aid. Pressed by the Corries, Secretary of State Colin Powell's Chief of Staff Lawrence Wilkerson acknowledged that regarding the Israeli Defense Forces report, "Your ultimate question, however, is a valid one, i.e., whether or not we view that report to have reflected an investigation that was 'thorough, credible, and transparent.' I can answer your question without equivocation. No, we do not consider it so." But the U.S. government declined to conduct its own investigation, and claimed it could not force a "thorough, credible and transparent" inquiry from the Israelis. Congressman Baird's resolution calling for an investigation had gathered 77 cosponsors, yet died in committee that year without a hearing.
The Corries persisted. It took nearly two years before they had a contact in the Justice Department, and were able to meet with the U.S. Attorney in Seattle, John McKay. He explained that one of the elements to enable a prosecution was a certification by the U.S. Attorney General that the killing was intended "to coerce, intimidate or retaliate against a civilian population or government." This anti-terrorism statute was used against Indonesia, when the FBI went to investigate the killing of an American, Rick Spier. Cindy explained how McKay told them, "'I'll give you as much time as you need, but I'm here to tell you that no Attorney General-past, present or future-will ever certify against Israel.' Maybe that's what shocked me the most," she said. "I couldn't believe that Mr. McKay was being so forthright. I was dumbfounded."
* * * *
Yet even on the local level, the government is a hurdle to be overcome. The Olympia City Council rejected official sister-city status in April 2007 after a concerted campaign by local activists. Despite broad community support, as well as the backing of Sister Cities International, the City Council thwarted the initiative, deferring to some in the community who viewed the Palestinians as "terrorists" and the project as "divisive." As one organizer wrote from Portland, "If Rachel Corrie's city cannot gain official recognition, then who can?" Still, the Olympia-Rafah Sister City Project, initiated by Rachel, won't go away. In the past month, two local delegates got in to Rafah to witness conditions under siege and the temporary breeching of the border wall, and to offer some slight economic relief through fair trade exchange of Palestinian embroidery, even as people imprisoned in Rafah are running out of basic supplies, such as thread, baby formula and medicines, not to mention food, water, and electricity.
* * * *
"People accuse Rachel of being naïve, which of course she wasn't," says Craig. "Though she may have been naïve about US pressure on Israel." Up to the day of her death, Rachel worked tirelessly, building relationships with Palestinians and Israeli activists, engaging in direct action, and strategizing on the grassroots level to stop the "massive destruction of civilian homes" in Rafah. In a press release from March 2003, she writes, "We can only imagine what it is like for Palestinians living here, most of them already once-or-twice refugees, for whom this is not a nightmare, but a continuous reality from which international privilege cannot protect them, and from which they have no economic means to escape."
Today, the Corries share Rachel's sense of urgency, even as they point to the hypocrisy of the US government, the world's superpower, claiming impotence and abdicating responsibility in Rachel's case, and in the case for Palestinian justice. As Craig says, "We have the luxury to sit around and discuss all of this, yet we feel the growing impatience. We want to drive home Rachel's message that we have a responsibility to act."
Friday, March 14, 2008
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.gregpalast.com/elliot-spitzer-gets-nailed/
While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ‘escort’ $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush’s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.
Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there’s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush’s man Bernanke was using ours.
This week, Bernanke’s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks’ mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.
Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers’ bordello: Eliot Spitzer.
Who are they kidding? Spitzer’s lynching and the bankers’ enriching are intimately tied.
How? Follow the money.
The press has swallowed Wall Street’s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn’t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That’s blaming the victim.
Here’s what happened. Since the Bush regime came to power, a new species of loan became the norm, the ‘sub-prime’ mortgage and its variants including loans with teeny “introductory” interest rates. From out of nowhere, a company called ‘Countrywide’ became America’s top mortgage lender, accounting for one in five home loans, a large chunk of these ‘sub-prime.’
Here’s how it worked: The Grinning Family, with US average household income, gets a $200,000 mortgage at 4% for two years. Their $955 monthly payment is 25% of their income. No problem. Their banker promises them a new mortgage, again at the cheap rate, in two years. But in two years, the promise ain’t worth a can of spam and the Grinnings are told to scram - because their house is now worth less than the mortgage. Now, the mortgage hits 9% or $1,609 plus fees to recover the “discount” they had for two years. Suddenly, payments equal 42% to 50% of pre-tax income. The Grinnings move into their Toyota.
Now, what kind of American is ‘sub-prime.’ Guess. No peeking. Here’s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren’t stupid – they had no choice. They were ‘steered’ as it’s called in the mortgage sharking business.
‘Steering,’ sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ‘fraudulent conveyance’ or ‘predatory lending’ under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.
But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hearty – it was OK now to steer’m, fake’m, charge’m and take’m.
But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.
The State Department has just submitted to Congress a report called "Contemporary Global Anti-Semitism". According to Reuters,Anti-Semitism, including government-promoted hatred toward Jews and prejudice couched as criticism of Israel, has risen globally over the last decade, the State Department said on Thursday.The message couldn't have been clearer:
"Today, more than 60 years after the Holocaust, anti-Semitism is not just a fact of history, it is a current event," it said in a report to Congress.
"The distinguishing feature of the new anti-Semitism is criticism of Zionism or Israeli policy that -- whether intentionally or unintentionally -- has the effect of promoting prejudice against all Jews by demonizing Israel and Israelis and attributing Israel's perceived faults to its Jewish character," it said.
This was common throughout the Middle East and in Muslim communities in Europe, but was even encouraged by some activity at the United Nations, the report said.
Various U.N. agencies are asked each year to investigate what are often "sensationalized reports of alleged atrocities and other violations of human rights by Israel," the document said.
Such unremitting criticism of Israel "intentionally or not encourages anti-Semitism." This hostility can translate into physical violence, as in the surge in anti-Semitic incidents worldwide during the 2006 war between Israel and the Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah, the report said.
The State Department now works for Israel.
So let's get this straight: Because of the atrocities committed against European Jews by Nazi Germany, Israel can now do whatever it wants to do.
Portion below; whole thing here (via Cursor.org): http://www.motherjones.com/commentary/columns/2008/03/the-us-militarys-assassination-problem.html
And aren't we just pleased as punch that our rep Adam Smith is so open with his blood lust. How soon will they start using these things domestically?
"In his first speech after 9/11, President Bush promised to hit terrorists with "dramatic strikes visible on TV and covert operations secret even in success." Since then, the administration has argued that the war on terror's battlefield is global, and it has expanded decapitation strikes accordingly—aiming them at targets across the Muslim world.
"Virtually all aspects of the assassination program are classified, and so information about it has emerged only in bits and pieces. In January 2006, the Los Angeles Times reported that unnamed officials had confirmed that Predator drones bearing Hellfire missiles—the preferred weapon in decapitation bombings—had hit "terrorist suspects overseas" at least 19 times since 9/11. "The Predator strikes have killed at least four senior Al Qaeda leaders," according to the Times sources, "but also many civilians, and it is not known how many times they missed their targets."
"There have been media accounts of at least nine other such strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, where members of Al Qaeda are thought to be hiding. Dozens more have been conducted in Afghanistan, according to William M. Arkin, a military expert and author of the Washington Post's Early Warning blog. In Iraq, the military claims, more than 200 Al Qaeda operatives have been eliminated by air strikes, be they targeted killings or broader-based attacks.
"'The sense in the military and in Washington, D.C., is that U.S. efforts to hunt Al Qaeda are succeeding," says Congressman Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the chair of the House subcommittee responsible for unconventional warfare and special operations. "Most people understand that there are risks—of collateral damage or [retaliation]." The upside, he says, is the degree to which targeted bombings disrupt Al Qaeda's operations. "They can't just pick up the phone. They can't do a wire transfer without thinking, 'Is this going to be something that they're going to pick up on?' There have been a number of these guys just walking down the street, and BOOM! They didn't know we knew them, and we wiped them out. That puts Al Qaeda's supporters back on their heels."
"Or, as a U.S. diplomat who requested anonymity put it, "Aside from the fact that we spend hundreds of millions of dollars per head chasing high-value terrorists, I think it's good for these guys to know they'll be hunted forever. It'll make people think twice about committing terror against the U.S."
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.chris-floyd.com/index.php
With each passing week, anguish and atrocity are deepening in Somalia, the third "regime change" target of George Bush's Terror War. Thousands of innocent people have been killed and a million have been driven from their homes by an Ethiopian invasion backed, funded and armed by the Bush Administration, which has also intervened directly with air strikes, naval shelling, renditions of fleeing refugees (including U.S. citizens) to Ethiopia's notorious prisons and, on at least one occasion, with a U.S. death squad sent in after an airstrike with orders to "kill anyone left alive."
This week, both the International Red Cross and UN officials issued dire assessments of the "dramatically" deteriorating situation. Hundreds of thousands of refugees are surviving on "something less than one meal a day," the Red Cross reports. Food and water shortages are now "life-threatening" in several regions across the country. Violent conflict with insurgents – and brutal "counterinsurgency" measures by the Ethiopian invaders and the "transitional government" – are intensifying, sending thousands more fleeing into the already stripped and overburdened countryside. Hospitals in the capital of Mogadishu are overflowing with wounded civilians, while there is little or no treatment for multitudes in other regions, where conflict and disease are spreading rapidly. Six humanitarian workers have been killed in Somalia in this year alone; only 2,000 are working there now –while there are 12,000 in Darfur, as Reuters notes. "I truly believe this is the worst humanitarian crisis on the continent, possibly in the world," says Phillipe Lazzarini, the UN humanitarian chief for Somalia.
Lazzarini made his remarks to Newsweek, which devoted three brief paragraphs to the crisis this week. Yet even this tiny whisper was like a gargantuan roar compared to the coverage in the rest of the American media and political establishments. The vast suffering inflicted on Somalia in America's name is virtually invisible in the American press – and entirely ignored by the presidential candidates, who have all pledged to expand the size and reach of America's military might and to continue the Terror War.
True, there was a flurry of small stories last week, after a U.S. missile strike on a Somali village – ostensibly aimed at an alleged terrorist allegedly hiding there – killed three women and three children. But there was no editorial outrage, of course; the incident was merely noted, sometimes with no mention of the victims. The emphasis was entirely on American efforts to nail a terrorist.
For example, here is CNN's take: "A U.S. missile strike in southern Somalia on Monday targeted a man wanted by the FBI, two senior U.S. officials said Tuesday," it began – as if it were the most normal thing in the world to send a missile into a foreign town to kill an FBI suspect. It is now simply assumed without question that American leaders have the right to kill anyone they please, anywhere in the world. The concept of "extrajudicial killing" is now perfectly, openly acceptable to America's great and good– as is the notion that innocent people will be blown to bits in these assassination attempts. To its credit, CNN did finally mention the dead women and children – 13 paragraphs into the story, after first providing copious context on the unmitigated (if unproven) evil of the alleged terrorist…who, as it happens, was not even in the village.
But there were not even pro forma apologies to the families of the dead for this "mistake." These six dead Somali people – like the six thousand killed in the American-Ethiopian "regime change" – mean nothing. The only thing that really matters is the display of American power, the stamp of domination.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Chanting “war criminal,” anti-war protesters waved blood-colored hands at U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday, but police held them back as she left a Capitol Hill hearing room.
Earlier, Republicans had complained about the distraction from the group as they held up signs saying “Condi Kills Kids” during the hearing on the State Department budget.
But the chairman of the House of Representatives committee, a New York Democrat, declined to eject the protesters.
“We’re here in the United States of America. And as long as they don’t disrupt this proceeding and as long as they’re silent, they will be welcome,” said Rep. Nita Lowey, who runs the subcommittee overseeing State Department appropriations.
“But they may not stand and they may not disrupt the proceedings.”
Hundreds of Israeli troops, backed up by armored carriers, raided the Islamic Charitable Society in downtown Hebron earlier this week , vandalizing property and looting hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of food materials, clothes, shoes and furniture donated by local and foreign donors for the benefit of the orphans.
The charitable society, the largest in Palestine, runs two orphanages and several boarding schools, which cater for as many as 7000 children who have lost either or both parents.
"Israel is treating us the way Nazi Germany treated the Jews,’ read one of the placards carried by the protesters. "Israel represents the Nazis of our time," read another sign. A third placard read "We shall triumph."
Demonstrators marched nearly one kilometer through the Ein Sara street, one of the Hebron’s main thoroughfares, as Palestinian police escorted them.
One of the protesters, Ahmed Natshe, accused Israel of wanting to "annihilate Muslims"
"Israel seeks to justify these criminal onslaughts on Palestinian orphans by citing alleged links with Hamas. However, Israel has utterly failed to present any credible evidence to corroborate these baseless allegations. Israel is acting as judge and plaintiff and policeman combined."
Natshe said he was sure "a thousand per cent" that the charitable society has "totally and absolutely" no connections with Hamas or any other Palestinian political party.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
From March 13-16th, U.S. veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan will testify to what is really happening day in and day out, on the ground in these occupations. To provide a preview, we've created this short film. The film features three members who will be testifying at Winter Soldier and includes videos and photographs of Iraq from their deployments. We need your support to help make Winter Soldier a success. Find out more about Winter Soldier.
Portion below; whole thing here: http://towardfreedom.com/home/content/view/1253/1/
March 6th, 2008 was a historic day for Colombia. It was the day the "other" Colombia took to the streets and put the whole country, and the world, on notice that state terrorism and paramilitary violence have failed. The marches were far more important than anyone could have imagined because the Colombian government had brought the country to the brink of war with Ecuador and Venezuela just the weekend before the marches were scheduled to happen.
On Saturday, March 1, the Colombian military invaded Ecuador in order to assassinate Raul Reyes, a key leader of the FARC, one of the guerilla organizations which have been fighting the Colombian government for decades.
As a result, the marches became a major, and totally unexpected, anti-war protest.
That protest was almost certainly one of the key factors which led to the retreat of the Colombian government from its war-like rhetoric the very next day, at the meeting of the Rio Group of countries in the Dominican Republic.
According to Semana magazine, no friend of the protest, 1,000,000 people marched. In addition to the main demonstrations in Colombia, solidarity marches were held in cities around the world. Some, like the one in Buenos Aires, Argentina, drew thousands of marchers. Others, like the ones in Washington D.C. and New York drew hundreds of marchers.
The marches had been planned months before by MOVICE (MOVIMIENTO DE VICTIMAS DE CRIMENES DE ESTADO – Movement of the Victims of State Crimes) and were backed by the major Colombian trade union organizations and the two opposition political parties: the Polo Democratico Alternativo (Democratic Alternative Pole) and the Partido Liberal (Liberal Party.)
Surprisingly, even some figures from the government backed the marches. Most important were the Procurador General (something like an Attorney General) Edgardo Maya Villazón, and the Fiscal General de la Nación, Mario Iguarán Aranand. (Both of these officials are involved in, and responsible for, the prosecution of the paramilitary organizations in Colombia, and for the prosecution of politicians connected to the paramilitary organizations.)
The official slogans for the march were, "POR LOS DESAPARECIDOS" (For the disappeared), "POR LOS DESPLAZADOS" (For the displaced), " POR LOS MASACRADOS" (For the massacred), and " POR LOS EJECUTADOS" (For the executed.)
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.counterpunch.org/blader03122008.html
Liberal apologists seeking to normalize Spitzer’s behavior are forced to resort to the same lies about prostitution indulged by Dershowitz. They ignore the fact that by defending men’s right to paid sex with women, they applaud the atrocious exploitation of the same sorts of market inequalities they decry when the victims are blue-collar workers.
Long duped into believing that treating the sex industry as legitimate work will foster a more “humane prostitution” while satisfying natural, male impulses, such liberals deny prostitution’s well-documented harms. In fact, the condescension that allows the confounding of prostitution with legitimate, but unpleasant labor betrays a strong bias, both against workers and against women.
The fact is that all prostitution, including Spitzer’s brokering of a high-priced call-girl, is dangerous for several reasons: first, as a population, prostitutes suffer grave victimization and physical harm; second, prostitution degrades the status of all women by affirming the pathology of associating sex with property; finally, prostitution undermines perhaps the most important moment of reckoning in our country’s history – when we established legally that human beings cannot be bought and sold.
For many prostitutes, “sex work” follows naturally from childhood sexual exploitation or incest victimization. 8 times out of ten, victims of rape or incest prior to engaging in prostitution. Prostituted women are routinely raped. Their life expectancies are shorter than average. They represent 15% of the women for whom suicide attempts result in hospitalization. Most prostitutes experience physical violence. They come from poverty and remain in poverty as prostitutes. This is the norm to which there are few exceptions.
Furthermore, prostitution comes at a high psychic cost to its “workers.” Renowned psychotherapists like Lenore Walker and Judith Herman confirm, based on their clinical experience and research, the overwhelming presence of PTSD in prostituted women. Melissa Farley, whose international research substantiates the consistency of prostitution’s extensive harm, stresses the importance of understanding the “choice” to pursue prostitution. She writes, “conditions that make genuine consent possible are absent from prostitution: physical safety, equal power with customers and real alternatives.” Comparative studies underscore the ridiculousness of accepting prostitution as a vocational choice. In a 2003 study, Farley and Cotton reported a 75% homelessness rate among respondents, and 89% of prostitutes in the 9 countries they studied expressed “their desire to get out of prostitution.”
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2008/03/01/18482849.php?show_comments=1#18484812
In a major step for the U.S. labor movement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1, to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. This is the first time in decades that an American union has decided to undertake industrial action against a U.S. war. The action announced by the powerful West Coast dock workers union, to stop work to stop the war, should be taken up by unions and labor organizations throughout the United States and internationally. And the purpose of such actions should be not to beg the bourgeois politicians whose hands are covered with blood, having voted for every war budget for six and a half years, but a show of strength of the working people who make this country run, and who can shut it down!
For Workers Strikes Against the War!
ILWU to Shut Down West Coast Ports May 1 Demanding End to War in Iraq, Afghanistan
In a major step for the U.S. labor movement, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has announced that it will shut down West Coast ports on May 1, to demand an immediate end to the war and occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Middle East. In a February 22 letter to AFL-CIO president John Sweeney, ILWU International president Robert McEllrath reported that at a recent coast-wide union meeting, “One of the resolutions adopted by caucus delegates called on longshore workers to stop work during the day shift on May 1, 2008 to express their opposition to the war in Iraq.”
This is the first time in decades that an American union has decided to undertake industrial action against a U.S. war. It is doubly important that this mobilization of labor’s power is to take place on May Day, the international workers day, which is not honored in the U.S. Moreover, the resolution voted by the ILWU delegates opposes not only the hugely unpopular war in Iraq, but also the war and occupation of Afghanistan (which Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama and Republican John McCain all want to expand). The motion to shut down the ports also demands the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the entire region, including the oil sheikdoms of the strategically important Persian/Arab Gulf.
The Internationalist Group has fought from the moment U.S. troops invaded Afghanistan in September 2002 for American unions to strike against the war. Despite the fact that millions have marched in the streets of Europe and the United States against the war in Iraq, the war goes on. Neither of the twin war parties of U.S. imperialism – Democrats and Republicans – and none of the capitalist candidates will stop this horrendous slaughter that has already killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. The only way to stop the Pentagon killing machine is by mobilizing the power of a greater force – that of the international working class.
The action announced by the powerful West Coast dock workers union, to stop work to stop the war, should be taken up by unions and labor organizations throughout the United States and internationally. The ILWU should be commended for courageously taking the first step, and it is up to working people everywhere to back them up. Wherever support is strong enough, on May 1 there should be mass walkouts, sick-outs, labor marches, plant-gate meetings, lunch-time rallies, teach-ins. And the purpose of such actions should be not to beg the bourgeois politicians whose hands are covered with blood, having voted for every war budget for six and a half years, but a show of strength of the working people who make this country run, and who can shut it down!
Now is the time for bold class action. Opposition to the war is even greater in the U.S. working class than in the population as a whole, more than two-thirds of which wants to stop the war but is stymied by the capitalist political system. In his letter to Sweeney, the ILWU president asked “if other AFL-CIO affiliates are planning to participate in similar events.” Labor militants should make sure the answer to that question is a resounding “yes!”
There should be no illusions that this will be easy. No doubt the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) bosses will try to get the courts to rule the stop-work action illegal. The ILWU leadership could get cold feet, since this motion was passed because of overwhelming support from the delegates despite attempts to stop it or, failing that, to water it down or limit the action. And the U.S. government could try to ban it on the grounds of “national security,” just as Bush & Co. slapped a Taft-Hartley injunction on the docks during contract negotiations in the fall of 2002, saying that any work stoppage was a threat to the “war effort,” and threatened to occupy the ports with troops!
The answer to every attempt to sabotage or undercut this first labor action against this war, and against Washington’s broader “war on terror” which is intended to terrorize the world into submission must be to redouble efforts to bring out workers’ power independent of the capitalist parties and politicians. If the ILWU work stoppage is successful, it will only be a small, but very important, beginning that must be generalized and deepened. It will take industrial-strength labor action to defeat the imperialist war abroad and the bosses’ war on immigrants, oppressed minorities, poor and working people “at home.”
ILWU in the Forefront of Labor Action Against the War
Workers strike action against imperialist war isn’t new – it just hasn’t happened here for a long, long time. During World War I there were huge mass strikes in Germany against the battlefield carnage, culminating in the downfall of the kaiser in November 1918. A year earlier in Russia, working-class opposition to the war led to the overthrow of the tsar and the October Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks. The Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International call today for transport workers to “hot cargo” (refuse to handle) war shipments. In the early 1920s, Communist-led French dock workers did exactly that, boycotting ships carrying war materiel to suppress a colonial rebellion in the Rif region of Morocco, as they also did during France’s war in Indochina in the 1950s.
In the U.S., the ILWU struck in 1948 amid Cold War hysteria and in defiance of the “slave labor” Taft-Hartley Act to defend its union hiring hall against the bosses and government screaming about “reds” in the union leadership. In 1953, at the height of McCarthyite witch-hunting, the ILWU called a four-day general strike in Hawaii of sugar, pineapple and dock workers over the jailing of seven union members for being communists. During the Vietnam War, socialist historian Isaac Deutscher said that he would trade all the peace marches for a single dock strike. The ILWU was the first U.S. union to oppose the Vietnam war, but during war and especially during the 1971 strike union leader Harry Bridges refused to stop the movement of military cargo. (Ship owners made use of this by falsely labeling cargo as “military” to evade picket lines and undermine the strike.) This betrayal went hand in hand with a “mechanization and modernization” contract that slashed union jobs.
As the U.S.-led imperialist invasion of Iraq was looming, in January 2003 train drivers in Scotland refused to move a freight train carrying munitions to a NATO military base. The next month, Italian railroad unionists and antiwar activists blocked NATO war trains by occupying the rails. In the United States, ILWU dock workers were a target of “anti-terrorist” government repression, as police fired supposedly “less than lethal” munitions point blank at an antiwar protest on the Oakland, California docks, injuring six longshore workers and arresting 25 people (who eventually won their legal case against the police). And every year since the war started, the San Francisco/Oakland ILWU Local 10 has voted for motions for labor action against the war. Usually they were voted down at caucuses and conventions of the ILWU, but not this time.
Last May, Local 10 longshoremen and Local 34 ships clerks refused to cross picket lines set up by the Oakland Teachers Association and antiwar activists, defying arbitrators’ orders by refusing to work ships of the notorious antiunion outfit, Stevedoring Services of America (see “Oakland Dock Workers Honor Picket, Shut Down War Cargo Shipper,” The Internationalist No. 26, July 2007). In the aftermath of that action, the union issued a call for a Labor Conference to Stop the War that would “plan workplace rallies, labor mobilizations in the streets and strike action against the war.” The Call to Action stated:
“ILWU Local 10 has repeatedly warned that the so-called ‘war on terror’ is really a war on working people and democratic rights. Around the country, hundreds of unions and labor councils have passed motions condemning the war, but that has not stopped the war. We need to use labor’s muscle to stop the war by mobilizing union power in the streets, at the plant gates and on the docks to force the immediate and total withdrawal of all U. S. troops from Afghanistan and Iraq.”
As the conference date approached, the union was the target of several police attacks, including a vicious cop assault on two black dock workers from San Francisco working in the port of Sacramento. Some 250 demonstrators from every ILWU local in Northern California rallied in their defense outside the courthouse. Their trial to be set march 18 at a hearing will encounter even larger demonstrations.
The Internationalist Group and its union supporters helped build and attended the October 20 conference, along with some 150 labor and socialist activists from the Bay Area, elsewhere in California and across the country. At the meeting, a particular focus was resistance to the Transportation Workers Identification Card (TWIC), which threatens minority workers and the union hiring hall, and which the Democratic Party in particular has been pushing in order to carry out a purge of dock workers in the name of the “war on terror.” Not long after that conference, a federal judge ordered Local 10 elections canceled and replaced by a Labor Department-run vote, on the eve of 2008 contract bargaining. Federal agents even invaded the union hall to enforce their order. This action is a threat to the independence of all unions.
This set the stage for the recent longshore-warehouse caucus, which voted a motion for a 24-hour “No Peace, No Work Holiday” against the war. The resolution was introduced in Local 10 by Jack Heyman, who also presented the motion for the 24 April 1999 coast-wide port shutdown demanding freedom for Mumia Abu-Jamal, the former Black Panther and renowned radical journalist who has been on Pennsylvania’s death row for the last quarter century. Although the union tops maneuvered to prevent Heyman from being elected as a delegate to the Coast Caucus, the motion passed in Local 10. At the Caucus, the delegate from Local 34 referred to the October Labor Conference to Stop the War as the origin of the motion.
At the close of the Caucus on February 8, there was a vigorous debate on the resolution. The union tops tried to stop it, to no avail. They kept asking, “are you sure you want to do this action.” The delegates overwhelmingly said “yes.” Even conservative trade unionists, including veterans of the Vietnam War, were getting up saying the government is lying to us, we’ve had it with this war, we’ve got to put a stop to it now. So instead the bureaucrats tried to gut the motion, which was cut down from 24 hours to 8, and changed into a “stop-work” meeting (covered by a contract clause) instead of a straight-out shutdown, thinking that this would lessen opposition from the employers. In the end there was a voice vote and only three delegates out of 100 voted against.
The efforts to undercut the motion continue, as is to be expected from a leadership which, like the rest of the pro-capitalist labor bureaucracy, seeks “labor peace” with the bosses. In his letter to Sweeney, ILWU International president tried to present the action as an effort to “express support for the troops by bringing them home safely,” although the motion voted by the delegates says nothing of the sort. Playing the “support our troops” game is an effort to swear loyalty to the broader aims of U.S. imperialism. It aids the warmongers, when what’s needed is independent working-class action against the system that produces endless imperialist war. Yet despite the efforts to water it down and distort it, the May 1 action voted for by the ILWU delegates is a call to use labor’s muscle to put an end to the war.
Mobilize Labor’s Power to Defeat the Bosses’ War!
For the West Coast dock workers union to shut down the ports against the war means a big step forward in the class struggle. The Internationalist Group has uniquely fought for workers strikes against the war, when all the popular-front “peace” coalitions dismissed this and even some shamefaced ex-Trotskyists refused to call for it, saying it had “no resonance” among the workers (see our October 20007 Special Supplement to The Internationalist, “Why We Fight For Workers Strikes Against the War [and the Opportunists Don’t]”). With signs, banners and propaganda we have sought to drive home the central lesson that it is necessary to defeat the imperialist war abroad and the bosses’ war “at home” by mobilizing the power of the workers movement independent of and against the capitalist parties.
That means fighting the war mobilization down the line. First and foremost, this means actively joining the struggle for immigrant rights as the government turns undocumented working people into “the enemy within.” Class-conscious workers should demand full citizenship rights for all immigrants. Last year, San Francisco Local 10 voted to stop work and join marches for immigrant rights on May 1, but this was opposed by the employers PMA and sabotaged at the last minute by the union tops. Shamefully, Local 13 in Los Angeles, a majority Mexican American port, made no protest when police attacked immigrant rights protesters that same day. Today, as the ICE immigration police stage Gestapo-style raids across the country, organized labor should take the lead in organizing rapid response networks to come into the streets to block the raids. Despite the campaign by the capitalist media and politicians to whip up anti-immigrant hysteria, there is widespread disgust among American working people toward the jackbooted storm troopers who are terrorizing immigrant communities.
At the same time, the unions should use the power to put a halt to the attacks on civil liberties which are part of the home front of the imperialist war. Driver’s licenses with biometric data, TWIC identification cards with “background checks,” warrantless spying and phone tapping, setting up special military tribunals for “trials” in which defendants are denied the right of habeas corpus, to know the “evidence” or even the charges against them – all these are part of a drive that is in high gear pushing the United States toward a full-fledged police state. There have been scores, perhaps hundreds of resolutions by unions and city, county and state labor bodies against the U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, showing that labor activists are well aware of the danger. But just as is the case with the countless union antiwar resolutions, there has been no labor action. It is commonplace in the labor movement to bemoan the lack of real action when Reagan broke the 1981 PATCO air traffic controllers’ strike, paving the way for massive union-busting, takeaways and racist attacks all down the line. Let’s not let the labor bureaucrats bury the vital struggles of today.
Now is the time to turn words into deeds, to speak to the capitalist rulers in the only language they understand. The imperialist war parties must be defeated by a class mobilization of the working people at the head of all the oppressed. The ILWU motion to stop work on May Day to put a stop to the war can provide working people everywhere with the opening to turn from impotent protest to a struggle for power. For that the key is to build a class-struggle workers party fighting for a workers government, for socialist revolution here and around the world, that will put an end once and for all to the system of endless war, poverty and racism.
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"The obstacle to a solution, then, is not about dividing the land but about Zionism itself, the ideology of ethnic supremacism that is the current orthodoxy in Israel. As long as Israel is a Zionist state, its leaders will allow neither one state nor two real states."
Portion below; whole thing here: http://www.counterpunch.org/cook03122008.html
If the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is one of the world’s most intractable, much the same can be said of the parallel debate about whether its resolution can best be achieved by a single state embracing the two peoples living there or by a division of the land into two separate states, one for Jews and the other for Palestinans.
The philosopher Michael Neumann has dedicated two articles, in 2007 and earlier this week, for CounterPunch discrediting the one-state idea as impractical and therefore as worthless of consideration. In response, Kathy Christison has mounted a robust defense, neatly exposing the twists and turns of Neumann’s logic. I will not trouble to cover the same ground.
I want instead to address Neumann’s central argument: that it is at least possible to imagine a consensus emerging behind two states, whereas Israelis will never accept a single state. That argument, the rallying cry of most two-staters, paints the one-state crowd as inveterate dreamers and time-wasters.
The idea, Neumann writes, “that Israel would concede a single state is laughable. … There is no chance at all [Israelis] will accept a single state that gives the Palestinians anything remotely like their rights.”
According to Neumann, unlike the one-state solution, the means to realizing two states are within our grasp: the removal of the half a million Jewish settlers living in the occupied Palestinian territories. Then, he writes, “a two-state solution will, indeed, leave Palestinians with a sovereign state, because that’s what a two-state solution means. It doesn’t mean one state and another non-state, and no Palestinian proponent of a two-state solution will settle for less than sovereignty.”
There is something surprisingly naive about his arguing that, just because something is called a two-state solution, it will necessarily result in two sovereign states. What are the mimimum requirements for a state to qualify as sovereign, and who decides?