Merry December to You

by Mickey Z.

Let me be the first to wish Bill O'Reilly a very Happy Winter Solstice. The precise moment this year will be December 21, 2006 at 7:22 p.m. EST (00:22 UTC on December 22). For those of you scoring at home, "solstice" means "standing-still-sun" and it occurs when, due to the earth's tilt, your hemisphere is leaning farthest away from the sun.

I don't know about you, but I refuse to shop at any store that doesn't acknowledge the leaning of my hemisphere. Never mind sweatshop labor or fair wages or union bashing, my shopping habits are based entirely on the earth's tilt.

For those tiring of the same old end-of-the-year holidays, December 24 is I.F. Stone's birthday (he would have been 99). His journalistic example is about as good a reason as any to get merry. Born Isidor Feinstein, the incomparable I.F. Stone served as an editor at The Nation and worked for several other papers before founding his own journal in 1953...with $3,000 borrowed from a friend and a 5,300-name subscription list inherited from a handful of defunct lefty publications. I.F. Stone's Weekly reached a circulation of 70,000 by the 1960s and Stone was widely praised-even by his enemies-for his investigative skills and his ability to see through the hype. Victor Navasky of the Nation wrote that "Izzy" was "right about McCarthyism, right about the war in Vietnam (he was one of the first to raise questions about the authenticity of the Gulf of Tonkin incident), right about the Democrats' repeated failure to live up to their own principles, right about what he called, long before the U.S. invasion of Iraq, the 'Pax Americana.'" Add a comment
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Double Standards in the Phony War: Small Errors Cost Big Bucks, but Enormous Lies Remain Standing

by Winter Patriot

Here's something you don't see every day!

Papers compensate man wrongly implicated in alleged bomb plot:

A group of national newspapers have paid £170,000 [roughly $330,000] to a man they falsely accused of involvement in the "liquid bomb" plot to blow up planes at Heathrow airport.

 

Lawyers for Carter Ruck, representing Amjad Sarwar, said he had been paid £170,000 by the publishers of the Guardian, the Observer, the News of the World, the Mirror, the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday, the Evening Standard, the Independent, the Times, the Daily Express and the Daily Star.

 

Each newspaper has already published a full apology to Mr Sarwar, who lives in High Wycombe, after falsely suggesting that he was suspected of being involved in the alleged plots to blow up a number of British aircraft using "liquid bombs" in August.

Apologies currently online include those from the Guardian, the Observer, the Mirror, and the Independent.

"Mr Sarwar has never been arrested, nor questioned, nor detained by the police on suspicion of involvement in the 'liquid bombs' plot or for that matter any other alleged terrorist plots or activities, and there are no grounds for suspecting any such involvement," Mr Sarwar's solicitor, Adam Tudor, said in the high court today before Mr Justice Eady.

 

"The articles caused Mr Sarwar great distress and embarrassment at a time of particularly heightened sensitivity in relations with the Muslim community, and indeed led Mr Sarwar to fear for his own and his family's safety in light of possible reprisal attacks."

The newspapers apologised to Mr Sarwar and paid his legal costs.

Apart from the quoted report from the Guardian, news of this settlement can be found in the Times and some regional papers (here, here, and here). But the other named papers have been silent on the issue.

 

I beg you to consider some of the questions raised by this small bit of news:

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Pale Fire and London Fog: Illuminating Outliers in the Death of Alexander Litvinenko

by Chris Floyd

This is an updated version of the piece that appeared yesterday at Truthout.org.

I. The Baron and the Billionaire


Everyone knows that Russian exile Alexander Litvinenko was killed by radiation poisoning in London last month. But beyond that bare fact, almost nothing is clear about the case. The truth has disappeared, probably forever, into the shadowlands – that murky confluence of crime, violence, money and politics where so much of the real business of the world is conducted. However, an examination of some of the curiously overlooked aspects of the affair might send at least a few shafts of light into the cloud of unknowing that has enveloped Litvinenko's death.

Of course, one of the chief obstacles in assessing the situation is the fact that almost everything we knew about the case for weeks was spoonfed to the media by the most elite PR operation in Britain. Almost from the moment that Litvinenko fell ill, he disappeared behind a phalanx of handlers paid for by his patron, Boris Berezovsky, the fugitive Russian billionaire and shadowlands operator par excellence. To handle – and generate – the publicity surrounding the incident, Berezovsky called on his old friend, Baron Bell of Belgravia, who, back when he was just plain old Tim Bell, served as the private propaganda chief for Margaret Thatcher, as Sourcewatch reports. The baron has also flacked for disgraced media mogul Conrad Black, disgraceful media mogul Rupert Murdoch, and the Coalition Provisional Authority, the mechanism set up by the Bush Administration to eviscerate Iraq. Add a comment
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Ethnic Cleansing and Israel’s Racist Discourse

By Ramzy Baroud

“The term ethnic cleansing refers to various policies of forcibly removing people of another ethnic group. At one end of the spectrum, it is virtually indistinguishable from forced emigration and population transfer, while at the other it merges with deportation and genocide.”

According to this definition, and others including those emerging in the 1990s, following the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, Palestinians have been and remain victims of a determined and unwavering ethnic cleansing policy that began in 1947-48 and continues until today.

However, it is important that when we examine the subject of ethnic cleansing in Palestine, we take into account its various dimensions, one of which is the accompanying racist discourse, which has become part and parcel of Israel’s ethnic cleansing policies.
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As America Slept

by Anwaar Hussain

It all happened while America slept.

As America slept, airline jets appeared in the azure blue New York Skies some five years back and within minutes bumped through tall wonders of human achievements reducing them and their occupants to a tangled mass of steel, concrete and human flesh. While the world stood horror-struck and frozen from the pain of the victims and the sheer scale of the crime, somewhere in some dark unlit corners of America, a small leering cabal of malicious, hateful and warmongering few backslapped each other. But America slept.

As America slept, this small but ruthless group of men stole democracy from the American people and almost knocked her over with a noxious blow of fascism. The political philosophy of these creatures sent instant shivers up the collective spine of global citizenry. But America slept.

As America slept, their liberties were curtailed, their freedoms taken away, their economy bankrupted, their private lives spied upon and their nation kept in a constant state of fear. Riding on the wings of ‘terror’, their leaders sleep marched America into history's hall of shame. But America slept. Add a comment
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Closer to Home

By David Swanson

I did something worse than St. Augustine did when I was a kid. I must confess I broke into a house on the other side of town, and I did it just because it was such an ugly beat-down house that needed work so badly. Well, that and I kind of wanted to move out of my parents'.

I broke in at night and I started the renovations. I smashed a lot of the furniture up and actually knocked out a couple of walls. I destroyed the electric panel and stopped up the toilets. The place was a serious, serious wreck, and I was pretty tired, and the owners came home.

They were an elderly couple, and they threatened me and threw stuff at me, but – I'm ashamed to say -- I got a little rough with them and put them in their place. The trouble was, there were two of them and the phone still worked. One of them called the cops, who showed up pretty fast.

I explained to the cops what a wreck the house had been before I'd gotten there, and that seemed to satisfy them at first. Eventually I had to slip them $200 before they would leave me alone. But they were the least of my problems. And when they left, I didn't know what the old man had given them. Add a comment
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Capitalism – past its sell-by date?

by William Bowles

Review: The Chávez Code – Cracking US Intervention in Venezuela by Eva Golinger

Chavez & BushPerhaps the greatest triumph of modern capitalism has been its ability to sell itself and to do it by fair means and foul with the emphasis on the foul.

Historically, it has been the CIA which up until the 1990s did the dirty work for US imperialism as the record clearly shows. However, the CIA’s record in overthrowing foreign governments is far from being a success story. A new strategy was needed, and one which was untainted with the ‘dirty tricks’ label of the Nixon years and which could be sold to the public under the umbrella of ‘spreading democracy’, Western-style of course.

Aside from the obvious harnessing of the corporate and state media in this process has been the creation of innumerable ‘foundations’, ‘NGOs’ and spin-offs of the various organs of the state such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and a plethora of quasi-governmental structures like the National Endowment for Democracy [sic] or NED.

Big business has been an integral part of this process funnelling literally billions of dollars into a plethora of foundations and ‘think tanks’ which work hand-in-glove with the state in not only projecting the capitalist way of life but in directly interfering in the internal affairs of foreign countries whenever ‘private property’ is seemingly threatened.
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Prisoners of Envy: Wal*Mart Nihilism Versus the Punk Rock of Blogging

by Phil Rockstroh

The Holiday Season has arrived, unfolding before us, like a cheap vinyl wallet, here in The United States of American Express. The days spill forth, their hours comprised of shopping and shooting sprees, of retail and retaliation. Jingle bells and the crackle of gunfire. This is the way an empire falls, with armies of confused killers abroad and legions of killer clowns at home.

A decade and half ago, we watched smugly as The Kremlin came undone. Yet, somehow we believe ourselves to be immune from the rot that causes empires to collapse from within.

The Social Realist poets of the former Soviet Union made themselves the objects of much (deserved) derision, when, in the service of the dogmatic dictates of state communism, they penned poetic odes to crop yields, tractors and other farm implements.

When a Russian attempts to convey his passions, his soul is prone to reach inward seeking poetic depths. In contrast, nowadays, in situations of crucial importance, such as the anxious waiting in long lines involved when attempting to procure PlayStation 3s among the throngs of their fellow Home Entertainment Unit-lusting Fred C. Dobbs types, Americans express their ardor -- by reaching for a gun. For we all know that The Baby Jesus would find the sound of Yuletide gunfire to be as soothing as a celestial lullaby.  Add a comment
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Vietnam, Iraq, and the M Word

by Mickey Z.

Jimmy Carter was the latest to use the M Word. The former president said he believes the "occupancy of Iraq and all the consequences of it are a big mistake." This echoes John Kerry's infamous 1971 question: "How do you ask a man to die for a mistake?" Hmm...perhaps recalling a few details about the Vietnam "mistake" might shine some light on the Iraq "blunder."

In 1954, Vice President Richard Nixon explained the need for U.S. intervention in Southeast Asia: "The Vietnamese lack the ability to conduct a war or govern themselves." Over the next two decades, the U.S. (by mistake?) dropped the equivalent of one 500-pound bomb for every person living in Vietnam. (Those bomber doors really needed better latches.) In 1966, David Lawrence, editor of U.S. News & World Report, wrote: "What the United States is doing in Vietnam is the most significant example of philanthropy extended by one people to another that we have witnessed in our times." When challenged with stories of American atrocities in Vietnam, Lawrence corrected his little gaffe, "Primitive peoples with savagery in their hearts have to be helped to understand the true basis of a civilized existence." When at war with savages, you can rationalize dumping 400,000 tons of napalm on them.

What Americans (mistakenly) called the "Viet Cong" was really the National Liberation Front (NLF) and the NLF enjoyed the broad support of the Vietnamese people. In response, the U.S. Army began, as author Mark Zepezauer explains, "destroying villages, herding people into internment camps, weeding out the leaders and turning the countryside into a 'free-fire zone' (in other words, shoot anything that moves)." Add a comment
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Gee Whiz, Iran Training Militia, Who Knew?

by Larry C Johnson

Well, the New York Times just got sucked in again to help the Bush Administration make the case for starting a war with Iran and Syria. Sorry, but how obtuse can some folks be? I refer to the so-called news reported by Michael Gordon and Dexter Filkins in today's New York Times. The essence of their breathless report is that Iran, via Hezbollah, is training the Shia militia in Iraq. Well, NO SHIT SHERLOCK! Consider this quote from today's article:

Iran has facilitated the link between Hezbollah and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the official said. Syrian officials have also cooperated, though there is debate about whether it has the blessing of the senior leaders in Syria.
For informed readers, you will recall that Pat Lang and I wrote about this in August of 2005. We said: Add a comment
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Hideous Kinky: The Genocidal Fury of Thomas Friedman

By Chris Floyd

You would think that by now we would have "supp'd full with horrors" on the New York Times op-ed pages. What could be worse than the atrocities that have filled those gray columns in the past few years, the loud brays for war, the convoluted excuses for presidential tyranny, the steady murmur of chin-stroking bullshit meant to comfort the comfortable elite and confirm them -- at all times, at any cost -- in their well-wadded self-righteousness? Surely, you would think, we have seen the worst.

If this was your thought, then alas, alas, alack the day, you were bitterly mistaken, my friend. Comes now before us the portly, fur-lipped figure of Thomas Friedman, Esq., who today has penned what must be the most morally hideous and deeply racist column ever to appear in those rarefied journalistic precincts: "Ten Months or Ten Years."

It seems that this very enthusiastic promoter of the unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq - which he proudly called "a war of choice," apparently not realizing that he was parroting the propagandists of the Nazi regime that killed millions of his ethnic kindred -- has now discovered that Iraqi Arabs are hopeless, worthless barbarians, broken by "1,000 years of Arab-Muslim authoritarianism" and can only be held together by an "iron fist." (He got all this from reading a new book, apparently. Well, a little literacy, like a little learning, is a dangerous thing, I reckon -- and as anyone who has ever exposed themselves to the dull, flat buzz of Friedman's prose can attest, his literacy is little indeed.)

In fact, the only thing America did wrong in its "effort to bring progressive politics or democracy to this region" was not coming down hard enough on this darky riff-raff: "Had we properly occupied the country, and begun political therapy, it is possible an American iron fist could have held Iraq together long enough to put it on a new course. But instead we created a vacuum by not deploying enough troops." Instead, we took it easy on them -- I mean, Jesus H. Jiminy Cricket Walker Christ, we only killed 600,000 of them; what kind of pussyfooting around is that? -- and look what happened. A Sunni insurgency sprang up, whose only goal -- whose ONLY goal, mind you -- was to make America look bad: "America must fail in its effort to bring progressive, etc., etc. America must fail – no matter how many Iraqis have to be killed, America must fail." What was their "only one goal" again, Tom? Oh yeah: America must fail. Not a single ding-dang one of them ornery critters ever had any other motive whatsoever to take up arms against an army of foreigners who had invaded and occupied their country.
 

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Get Putin

From Erinys website. Kalashnikovs for sale or rent.
ServicesPic

As Beatroot notes, the crescendo of Russophobia has climaxed into the international press declaring a new Cold War.

Are we at war with Russia? Well, with Putin, certainly, in case anyone hadn’t noticed. Ever since he started throwing his oil weight around.

It’s a war which puts some very strange bedfellows on the same side. Martin Kelly, who has dug up any number of iffy relationships in the Litvinenko affair, yesterday connected Boris Berezovsky, Erinys, Bell, PR and Iraq. And by association, The Blairs and Richard Perle. Er, what?

The story so far.
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