Hudna or Not: Palestinian Rights Must Be Preserved

By Ramzy Baroud

 

Palestinian groups have recently suggested a ceasefire, in exchange for a cessation of Israeli violence. Ehud Olmert responded with a conciliatory speech, cleverly timed with President Bush’s arrival to Jordan on November 29 for a two-day conference with top Iraqi officials.

 

Israel, then, accused Palestinians of firing five rockets into Israel in violation of the ceasefire; a Palestinian militant group said that the violation was in response to Israel’s continuous military activities in the West Bank.

 

Meanwhile, standing side by side with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, PA President Mahmoud Abbas, yet once again, declared a deadlock in his talks with Hamas aimed at forming a national unity government.

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Bread, Bread, Everywhere, Yet not a Morsel to Eat

By Jason Miller

Pelted by a perpetual hail of electrons fired through a cathode ray tube, the pixels on my PC monitor feed me a generous intellectual bounty of words and images emanating from virtually infinite points dotting the globe. Enabling me to interface with the Internet at will, my computer serves as my window to the world and as a portal through which I can unleash my writings upon the unsuspecting.

Earlier this week as I peered into cyberspace through my ostensibly one-way aperture, I happened upon a picture that my imperialist indoctrination had conditioned me to reflexively dismiss or ignore. However, I’ve grown increasingly resistant to the “charms” of the pathological delusions of American superiority, invulnerability, impunity, and entitlement to decadence. Something about this particular assemblage of glowing pixels left me flailing in a raging river of emotion. As I negotiated the tempestuous feelings surging within me, I made the conscious decision to forgo the American Way of dismissal and distraction. Instead, I connected and contemplated.

Staring me in the face was the tragic image of a Kenyan child condemned to the abject suffering of death by starvation. A massive tear confirmed the depth of his misery, yet his angelic eyes still beamed with the radiance of his life force. Not even the brutal assault of famine could extinguish the persistent flame of the human spirit. In sharp contrast to the enduring blaze of his inner being, his corporeal shell had withered in a macabre synchronicity with the plants of his drought-ravaged environs. Yet despite his region’s temporary scarcity of food, like his metaphorical counterpart, this diminutive scare-crow existed in a world glutted with comestibles that were not meant for him. With leather-like skin stretched tautly over his protruding skeleton, the slightest breeze would surely have caused him to rustle like a dry corn husk. Blood seeped from my heart as I made a vain attempt to imagine his pain. Add a comment
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Felonious Monk - What's the deal with the Dalai Lama?

by Mickey Z.
Here's the scene: I'm in my local health food store when my eyes are drawn to the cover of the latest issue of New York Yoga magazine. Smiling at me is none other than the Dalai Lama. Inside, "His Holiness" spouts boilerplate platitudes like, "If we do love our enemies, we shall cease to have enemies, and wouldn't the world be a much happier place if we could all be friends?" Let's be honest here, the same exact line, if spoken by a ten-year-old child, might elicit a patronizing smile.

Also in this article, the Tibetan leader was asked how he was able to "deal with the Chinese who had taken so much from his people." His response was pure Dalai: "We may be different on the outside; but on the inside, we are all the same. We all seek happiness and an end to suffering."

Here's what I'm wondering: Who, exactly, designated the Dalai Lama as a conduit of wisdom...and why? And while we're at it, let's put to rest the myth that the Dalai Lama is an innocent bystander and his fellow Tibetans are all pacifists. Add a comment
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The South Continues to "Make" Race: Will the Supreme Court Follow?

by Walter C. Uhler

A Review of How Race is Made: Slavery, Segregation, and the Senses, by Mark M. Smith (University of North Carolina Press, 2006, 200 pp.)

A few years ago, in exasperation over pre-invasion polls indicating that a large majority of Americans erroneously believed that Saddam Hussein was involved in al Qaeda's terrorist attacks on 9/11, I was forced to return to Walter Lippmann's classics about Public Opinion and The Phantom Public, along with other books explaining why Americans were so highly susceptible to political manipulation. Ultimately, that reading led to the article, "Democracy or dominion?" written for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists [ Jan/Feb. 2004]

Although the general response to that article was quite positive, a highly esteemed professor insisted that I overlooked the obvious: "Most Americans are incapable of deep and rigorous thought." True, the article never directly addressed that point. Nevertheless, I thought it was implied, when I wrote about Chapter 2, titled "The Barbarians," of Robert H. Wiebe's exceptionally insightful book, Self Rule: A Cultural History of American Democracy.

Wiebe's Chapter 2 explains the shock of mid-19th century European visitors to America as they witnessed white Americans subdue both Native Americans and the frontier in the course of establishing their low-class self-rule. Alexis de Tocqueville, for example, complained that Americans leave no trace of their past, because "no one cares for what occurred before his time." To which Weibe added: "So it always was with savages." [p, 48]

Other European visitors belittled Americans for ignoring "the necessity of disciplining the mind…which lays the foundation for self-control" [p.47], for "the extremely superficial nature of their moral qualities," and for their astonishing "insensitivity to death" [p. 49]. Most unsettling to these Europeans, however, was "America's edge of violence, its creation of society at the border of jungle terror." [p. 51


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Kennedys, Bushes and Oil: Public Interest vs. Self Interest

by Linda Milazzo 

 
The history of the United States is filled with prominent families who achieved wealth, power and influence through legitimate and/or nefarious means.  But in the two hundred thirty year history of this nation, no two families have ascended to the apex of American politics like the Bushes and Kennedys of today.  And while both families have amassed enormous wealth and unparalleled notoriety, they couldn't be further apart ideologically or share more different views of America, being American, and the importance of public service.
 
For the Bush family, public service is principally an exercise in self-interest.  It's the effort to make the nation and the world suitable for Bush family values by using the highest positions of government to amass vast personal wealth.  Holding office is not public service for the Bushes.  Election to office inspires no allegiance to the electorate or commitment to honor its requests.
 
To the contrary.  Election to office is part of the Bush family's perverse sense of destiny, backed by a well "oiled" campaign machine.  What an extraordinary shock for the Bushes when Bush, Sr. lost his '92 bid for a second Presidential term to that 'hillbilly Governor from Arkansas'.  
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McKinney, Smith, Bush, and Impeachment

by David Swanson.

Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney has introduced articles of impeachment [PDF] against George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Condoleezza Rice. In doing so, she alone has spoken for the 51 percent of Americans who Newsweek says want Bush impeached. A considerably higher percentage of Americans would, if asked, almost certainly acknowledge that the abuses with which McKinney charges Bush et al. have, in fact, been committed by them and are impeachable offenses. That is to say, there are those who recognize the grounds for impeachment but don't want to see them pursued. There are even those who want impeachment pursued but wish it were not being pursued by McKinney

McKinney charges that Bush, Cheney, and Rumsfeld manipulated intelligence and lied to justify war, and that Bush has engaged in illegal domestic spying. The former charge has been extremely well documented, and the latter proudly confessed to. The former charge was central to the concern of those who included impeachment in the U.S. Constitution. The latter charge is one of openly violating a law that was established in response to President Richard Nixon's impeachable offenses. Add a comment
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The U.S. government hates democracy (lessons from Italy)

by Mickey Z

As far as I'm concerned, we can't put forward enough reminders of how the U.S. government and the corporations that own it do business. Platitudes about peace, freedom, justice, etc. aside, the land of the free is not even remotely interested in spreading democracy. There is an abundance of evidence to back up this assertion. For now, I offer the example of post-World War II Italy. Mussolini was gone but the U.S. elites had no intention of letting Italy slip through the cracks.

When the war-weary Italian people went to the polls in 1946, the Italian Communist Party and the Socialist Party combined to gain more votes and more seats in the Constituent Assembly election than the U.S.-favored Christian Democrats. This was not surprising, considering that a worker- and peasant-based movement fought off six German divisions during the liberation of northern Italy...with the invaluable aid of the Communist party. As a 1948 election loomed on the horizon, however, the U.S. realized that certain perceptions of reality needed to be seriously altered. "It was at this point that the U.S. began to train its big economic and political guns upon the Italian people," William Blum explains in Killing Hope. "All the good ol' Yankee know-how, all the Madison Avenue savvy in the art of swaying public opinion, all the Hollywood razzmatazz would be brought to bear on the 'target market'." Add a comment
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The systematic destruction of Jose Padilla

by Stephen Soldz

The New York Times today gives a glimpse of the systematic destruction of a human being as they describe the routine treatment of U.S. citizen Jose Padilla, held for years without charges as an “enemy combatant” until the government, on the eve of a crucial court hearing challenging their ability to hold him without charges, decided to charge him after all.

The Times article describes the total isolation he was held in for three and a half years, before being charged:

One spring day during his three and a half years as an enemy combatant, Jose Padilla experienced a break from the monotony of his solitary confinement in a bare cell in the brig at the Naval Weapons Station in Charleston, S.C. Add a comment
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Rockford, Illinois: Terrorist Plot Foiled? Or Just Another Knucklehead Stung?

Surely the Washington Post had fun trying to keep the word "entrapment" out of this story:
An Illinois man has been charged with two terrorism-related charges after allegedly planning to set off hand grenades in garbage cans at a mall in Rockford, about 90 miles west of Chicago, federal officials announced today.

Derrick Shareef, 22, of Rockford was arrested Wednesday after meeting with an undercover federal agent at a store parking lot to trade a set of stereo speakers for four hand grenades and a handgun, according to the FBI and U.S. Attorney's offices in Chicago.

In a complaint filed today in U.S. District Court in Chicago, Shareef was charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building by fire or explosion and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
Apparently a hand grenade is now a weapon of mass destruction. Well, what do you know?

 

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I Smell A Rat!

by Tom Chartier

" I died for freedom, this I know,
  For those who bade me fight have told me so." -
- Lines from a poem published in England during the early months of WW1.

Can you smell it too? For a moment I thought it was the mangrove swamp.

Time to find out what’s polluting the shades of America. It’s been stinking up the U.S…. and the world… for six years now. How could anybody miss it? It’s reeking to high Heaven. Behold: a monstrous Rodentia Giganticus that chews glass and eats its young.

Folks, what we have here is a massive scam that’s just like all the others our government has been pulling on the taxpayers since… well, let’s just go back as far as 2000 when our Dear Leader, Bush 43 (George W. Bush), was handed the presidency by Bush 41’s (that would be Bush The First, George H.W.) supreme court.

We have been — and are still being — scammed.
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A Congress of Whores and Pipsqueaks

by Dave Lindorff

How pathetic can it get?

140,000 American troops are stuck in the mess that a lying and endlessly deceitful president has made in Iraq, over half a million innocent Iraqis have been killed since the politically-motivated 2003 US invasion, a group of very Establishment, middle-of-the-road politicians of both parties has declared the war an unmitigated disaster and called for a pullout of troops, the president has nixed their call for withdrawal and regional negotiations, and what is Congress doing about it?

The House just voted by an overwhelming 368-31 (that’s only 36 abstentions), not to impeach the president, not to cut off funding for the war, not even to endorse the findings of the Iraq Study Group, but…to condemn the naming of a street in France after Pennsylvania death-row inmate Mumia Abu-Jamal!

This craven rush to line up and be counted in the condemnation of a man who has never had a fair trial to establish his guilt in the 1981 shooting death of Philadelphia Police Officer Daniel Faulkner was joined in even by most liberal Democrats in the House. It was primarily only black members of Congress who had the courage to vote no on the resolution that was submitted by Michael Fitzpatrick, a lame-duck Republican congressman from the Philadelphia area (Fitzpatrick was defeated by Democrat Patrick Murphy).

Ironically, as this group of political hucksters and moral cowards were casting their votes of allegedly righteous condemnation at the naming of a minor street in France, Abu-Jamal’s case was heading for a dramatic hearing in the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia, where judges with a better understanding of law and constitution had recently agreed to hear three separate arguments by Abu-Jamal on claims that his 1982 trial had been unconstitutionally compromised--among them that the prosecutor told jurors they didn’t need to worry about proof of guilt being "beyond a reasonable doubt" because there would be "appeal after appeal," that the same prosecutor deliberately removed 11 qualified black jurors from the jury pool because of their race despite their having confirmed they could vote for a death penalty, and that the trial judge had been overheard, on the first day of the trial, telling his clerk that he would "help them fry the nigger."
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The Spirit of Democracy in Venezuela

by Stephen Lendman

"Today we gave another lesson in dignity to the imperialists, it is another defeat for the empire of Mr. Danger....another defeat for the devil.  We will never be a colony of the US again....Long live the socialist revolution....Destiny has been written....Socialism is human.  Socialism is love."

This is how Hugo Chavez Frias characterized his smashing electoral victory on December 3 when he appeared on the balcony of the Palacio de Miraflores (the official presidential palace residence) and addressed a huge gathering of his followers below that evening telling them of his victory for the people and that he now has an even stronger mandate to pursue his Bolivarian Project to do more for them ahead than he's already accomplished so far which is considerable. 

He told his loyal, cheering supporters his impressive landslide electoral victory is one more blow to George Bush, and it follows on the others won by populist candidates in the region in the past six weeks by Inacio Lula da Silva in Brazil on October 29, Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua on November 7, and Rafael Correa in Equador on November 26.  Chavez will serve for another six year term that will run until December, 2012.

Earlier in the day, Hugo Chavez showed he's indeed a man of the people by casting his own vote the same way ordinary people do.  Unlike George Bush who goes everywhere in an entourage of limousine, helicopter, or Air Force One luxury accompanied by a phalanx of security needed to protect him from the people he was elected to serve, Chavez drove himself in his aging red-colored Volkswagon to his assigned polling station accompanied by his young grandson in the back seat, voted, and then left the same unaccompanied way he came.  That's how a man of the people does it - no bells, whistles or extravagant trappings of power that's a hallmark of how things are done to excess in the US calling itself a model democracy but one only for the few with wealth and power and that behaves like a rogue state that's only a model for despots and tyrants.
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