By Paul William Roberts
On Saturday, December 02, the Washington Post wrote:
â€œThe emerging plan by the Iraq Study Group tries to find a middle road between President Bush's adamant refusal to leave Iraq until the job is done and Democratic demands to pull out U.S. troops. But in achieving unanimity among its Republican and Democratic members, the commission has outlined a strategy with its own political and military risks.â€
The reason this road is less traveled is that it just doesnâ€™t exist.
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One expected more from James Baker and his expensive commission, but perhaps we will yet have cause to thank him. For the uselessness of the ISG underscores a deeper uselessness in American politics generally when it comes foreign policies in which the public (read â€œthe mediaâ€) have developed a level of interest that already has, and will continue to cost votes. In managing to arrive at a â€œplanâ€ upon which all its members could agree, the ISG has merely wasted paper â€“ not to mention taxpayersâ€™ money (a commodity more disposable than toilet paper in Washington). Like so much the long-suffering taxpayer finds himself and herself funding these days, this bi-partisan circle jerk can satisfy only the overpaid and bloated egos participating in the couple of long lunches that were surely all it took to assess the facts and then devise a course of action ignoring them. To the cash whores and corporate crooks whose fingers are always in the till and whose snouts rarely leave the Beltway trough, of course, this latest wasteful disgrace is just another drop of fecal matter in a septic tank the size of the Pacific Ocean.
Normally I ignore religious controversy, but the latest flap surrounding incoming Democratic Congressman Keith Ellison, a muslim who intends to take the oath of office with his hand on the Quran, demands comment. If you're not muslim then mind your own business. Here's the bottomline--the Christians who are in an uproar over Ellison's plan and who insist that the oath can only be taken with the Bible probably ought to read the damn Bible. Why? Because the Bible, specifically the New Testament, contains clear instruction about taking oaths. According to James 5:12 (Whole Chapter):
But above all, [James 1:16] my brethren, [Matt 5:34-37] do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but your yes is to be yes, and your no, no, so that you may not fall under judgment.Add a comment
National Action Party (PAN) candidate Felipe Calderon had center stage at 12:01 AM, December 1 at the presidential residence of Los Pinos as Mexico's new president addressed the country on national television after a brief stealth swearing-in ceremony for him to the office he didn't win and will now assume illegitimately because of the fraud-laden electoral coup d'etat that gave it to him. He then had to be slipped in a back door of the Congress later that morning to take the oath of office there, as constitutionally required, in a second "lightning-fast" chaotic ceremony preceded by a brawl between lawmakers for and against the new president who then left as fast as he entered and is now off to a rocky start.
At the same time, outside in Mexico City's streets, hundreds of thousands of people assembled early in the morning in the vast Zocalo square supporting opposition Democratic Revolution Party (PRD) candidate Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, who changed his earlier plans to march on Congress and instead held a peaceful mass-protest march of his supporters through the city center to avoid clashes with the police that might have turned violent. It went as far as Chapultepec Park, the entrance to the secured area, to demonstrate opposition to Mr. Calderon and to support Lopez Obrador who was denied the presidency he won now handed over illegitimately to Mr. Calderon. Obrador told the crowd his fight will continue because "it is not possible that there are no democratic elections in Mexico. We are not rebels without a cause, like the media want to portray us. Sometimes they forget the real issue at hand, they forget that we were robbed of the presidential election."
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Other than 2002 Nobel Prize Laureate, Jimmy Carter, no American politician has spoken honestly about Israel's occupation of Palestine. No American politician has addressed Israel's mistreatment of the Palestinians. Not because the mistreatment doesn't exist. But because acknowledging it brings accusations of anti-semitism and the potential to lose an election.
To date, Jimmy Carter is the most high-profile American to publicly denounce the horrors of the Israeli occupation. Not in a sound byte or a simple aside. But in a full length book, provocatively titled, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."
In his book, President Carter provides a detailed analysis of Israel's confiscation of Palestinian land and ongoing demoralization of the Palestinian people within their own homeland. President Carter bravely defies the American taboo of never criticizing Israel, recognizing that humanitarianism dwarfs political correctness.
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by Dave Lindorff
I had just gotten to the gym yesterday, and had started on the treadmill, when a barrel-chested young former marine recently returned from a second tour in Iraq walked past. Looking at my shirt, which sports the slogan "No US War on Iraq" on the front, and a peace sign on the back, surrounded with the number of U.S. dead in the war, he stopped and said coldly, "If I see you here again in that shirt, I'll tear it off you myself."
Momentarily taken aback, I looked him in the eye and said, "This is a free country, buddy, and if you touch me or my shirt, I'll have you charged with assault."
â€œYouâ€™ll find a day when there are no Sunnis left in Baghdad. Saudi Arabia and Jordan are panicking about this, and they are hoping that the US will in some way arm or support Sunnis militias. Itâ€™s hard for me to imagine that Sunni nations in the region will stand by and watch Sunnis pushed out of Baghdad, because there is this terror of the Shia threat. So youâ€™ll see greater support from Saudi Arabia, from Jordan, perhaps from Yemen, from Egypt for Sunni militias. And the civil war will spread and become a regional one.â€ Nir Rosen; interview with Amy Goodman, Democracy Now
President Bushâ€™s latest round of â€œDisaster Diplomacyâ€ has turned into a tragedy worthy of Eugene Oâ€™ Neill. In Riga, Latvia he was coolly greeted by foreign leaders in NATO who flatly rejected his request for more troops in Afghanistan or for redeploying troops to the south where the fighting is fiercest.
The next leg of Bushâ€™s trip, a stopover in Amman, Jordan, turned out to be an even bigger flop. Bush was supposed to meet with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, but Al-Maliki decided to follow the orders of Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, and pulled a â€œno showâ€. This left the â€œmost powerful man in the worldâ€, the President of the United States, looking like a schoolgirl who had been dumped on Prom Night. Bush's humiliation appeared as headline news around the world.
All in all, itâ€™s been a tough week for Bush. The trip has exposed the fault-lines in US foreign policy and the steady erosion American power. Bush seems completely oblivious to the damage heâ€™s doing to the country by refusing to change the present strategy and by blundering-ahead blindly pushing us deeper and deeper into the quagmire:
â€œIâ€™m not going to pull our troops off the battlefield before the mission is complete,â€ Bush growled to the NATO assembly.
Translation: â€œStay the course, stay the course, stay the courseâ€; repeat into infinity.
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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
Here's something you don't see every day!
A group of national newspapers have paid Â£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 Â£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.
"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:Add a comment
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 â€“ 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 â€“ and generate â€“ 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
â€œThe 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.â€
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 Israelâ€™s ethnic cleansing policies.
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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 â€˜terrorâ€™, their leaders sleep marched America into history's hall of shame. But America slept. Add a comment
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 â€“ 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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