All the leaves are brown

by Mickey Z.

Each fall, even the most nature-oblivious humans can't help but notice-and likely marvel-as the leaves turn. Here in New York City, many folks will go as far as driving up north to New England solely to witness the spectacular shades of ginger, auburn, gold, and crimson. This annual phase of nature presages both the colder weather and the shopping day countdown that lurk in our not so distant future"

Speaking of rampant holiday season consumerism, as you try to remember where you parked your SUV in that crowded shopping mall parking lot, gaze upward.

Take a good long look at the leaves that have changed color and are now breaking from the trees and wafting slowly downward to finish their life's mission...on the friggin' pavement. Imagine the shock those nutrient laden leaves experience when they land not on sodden, inviting soil but instead on the unforgiving, oil stained asphalt we all know and loathe.

 


Central Park, NYC


More than two million acres of parks, farms, and open space are destroyed each year in the name of a little something called sprawl. During the twentieth century, an area equal to all the arable land in Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania was paved in the United States. This swath of terra firma requires maintenance costing over $200 million a day and the surreptitious cost of our car culture totals nearly $500 billion a year in the U.S. alone (much of that going to the sustentation of waging perpetual war to keep the world safe for petroleum).


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Armagideon Time: Bush's Nuclear Folly and the National Security Lie

Written by Chris Floyd 

This story is appearing today at Truthout.org.

"The Bush Faction's remaining claim to political power – that they are the "party of national security" – is a gargantuan lie. Those who believe them, those who support them, those who vote for them are tying a noose around their own necks, and the necks of all their fellow Americans."

I.
Last Friday, just hours after the New York Times revealed that the Bush Administration had posted advanced plans for building nuclear weapons on a public website for months, six Arab nations formally announced they were launching nuclear programs of their own. The potential for disaster posed by this development is almost immeasurable: everything from Chernobyl-style accidents to the theft or transfer of nuclear material to terrorists to the near-certainty of new atomic arsenals appearing in the powder-keg of the Middle East.


The announcement also signals the final and utter failure of the Bush Administration's demented "non-proliferation" strategy, which has been centered around a relentless, deliberate drive to gut existing nuclear arms treaties in order to free the United States to enhance its own arsenal. This open denigration of legal strictures on the development of the most dangerous technology on earth has been accompanied by a cynical inconsistency. Bush has heaped monetary and military rewards on India and Pakistan for their illegally developed nuclear arsenals, while threatening war on Iran for what has so far been a peaceful nuclear power program carried out in accordance with international treaties – and doing nothing at all to head off North Korea's now apparently successful bid for atomic weapon capability.

It is a record of astonishing recklessness and incompetence, one that has plunged the world into a new abyss of instability, insecurity and the ever-increasing likelihood of mass death and horror on an unfathomable scale. And the criminal negligence of Bush and his Congressional rubberstamps in dumping plans from Iraq's almost-complete, pre-1991 nuclear weapons program on the Internet – solely for partisan political advantage – has exacerbated these dangers by several magnitudes.

On Friday, the International Atomic Energy Agency announced that six nations had given notification of their intention to pursue nuclear programs, The Times (UK) reports: Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt, which had revealed its nuclear ambitions last month, but had not given official notice to the IAEA. As the Times notes, arms experts view the announcement as "a stunning reversal of policy" in the Arab world, which has long called for a nuclear-free Middle East – a stance aimed at dismantling Israel's large if nominally secret nuclear arsenal and preventing Iran from acquiring atomic weaponry.

But ill winds are blowing through the Middle East from all directions, and the six nations are seeking shelter from the storm – a "security hedge," as proliferation analyst Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies told the Times. One of the major factors behind the turnaround is certainly Bush's wanton destruction of Iraq, the Arab world's traditional bulwark against Persian Iran. Not only has the American blunderbuss cleared the way for unprecedented Iranian influence in the region – not least in Baghdad itself – it is also enflaming sectarian, political, ethnic and social tensions across the Arab lands.

And in the case of Saudi Arabia and Egypt, there is also the desire to avoid becoming yet another target of "regime change" from the "full spectrum dominance" gang that is still, well, dominant in the White House under Dick Cheney.  In Cairo and Riyadh they will not have forgotten how in 2002, top Pentagon adviser Richard Perle – then chairman of the Defense Policy Board, now a rather fat rat leaving the sinking ship of Bushism – sponsored a presentation calling for the American conquest of Saudi oil fields on the way to capturing the strategic "prize" of Egypt: one of the many presentations and papers of the Bush Faction and its neocon outriders in which the Arab world is regarded as so much raw meat to be processed and repackaged as the Beltway poobahs see fit.

But the radioactive core of these concerns is Israel's outlaw nuclear arsenal, hundreds of missiles strong, capable of wiping any and every country in the region "off the map," to quote the widespread misquote of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in one of his rabble-rousing fulminations. The Israeli arsenal serves as a veritable breeder reactor, generating the fear and strategic necessity that drive surrounding nations to follow suit. These anxieties have of course been elevated by the intensified bellicosity and reckless disregard for Arab lives displayed by the hardline Israeli government against Lebanon this summer – and day after day in Gaza.

It's true that the six Arab nations told the IAEA they wanted nuclear capability solely for peaceful purposes: to run desalinization plants, for example, or to provide cheap, abundant energy for their economies. (Perhaps the supposedly oil-glutted Saudis, who trotted out the latter rationale, know something they're not telling us about "peak oil" and such.) But it's also true that this technology can always be weaponized – as the Bush Administration never ceases to remind us when lambasting Iran for its nuclear program.  

Of course, converting a peaceful, public energy program into a covert weapons development scheme is much easier if you have a "cookbook" showing you how to do it. And that's exactly how the Bush Administration's Iraqi data dump was described by European experts. With six new entrants in the nuclear sweepstakes – just a fraction of the 30 nations that IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei says "have the capacity to develop nuclear weapons in a short time" – the ramifications of the Administration's nuke blogging  are far more serious than the near-total media and political silence that has followed the revelations would indicate. How could this have happened? And more importantly, why did it happen and what does it really mean? Here's how the deal went down.

(Continued after the jump.)

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Sandinista! How Will Bush Make Nicaragua Pay for its Disobedience?

Written by Chris Floyd
  

Ortega back in power, early poll results show

From the Guardian: The Sandinista leader and former Marxist revolutionary Daniel Ortega appeared to have mounted a spectacular political comeback last night after preliminary results showed he had won Nicaragua's presidential election in the first round. Mr Ortega led by a margin which seemed wide enough to avoid a run-off and to deliver a stinging rebuke to Washington, which had openly campaigned against him...Roberto Rivas, the head of Nicaragua's top electoral body, said the vote was clean and transparent. An army of 17,000 observers, including the former US president Jimmy Carter and EU officials, was expected largely to endorse that view.
Ortega ran and won with the backing of several prominent ex-Contras, including Jamie Morales, his own running mate. Morales had been the Contras' spokesman in Washington during the Reagan years when, with the direct involvement of VP George Bush, the Administration joined hands with the mullahs of Iran and the druglords of Central and South America to fund, arm and train a terrorist army to overthrow the Sandinista government. Although this exercise in mass state terrorism failed on the battlefield, the Reagan-Bush policy of economic terror managed to reduce Nicaragua to dire poverty, with the open threat that the stranglehold would go on until the Sandinistas were gone.


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The “Prophetic Social Movement”: Then and Now

by Andrew Bard Schmookler

On Election Night of 2004, as I lay in bed much of the night awake and miserable, I found myself teetering on the edge of deep despair. By dawn, however, I discovered that I had turned back from that abyss and committed myself instead to a new mission. Actually, it was a new phase of the anti-Bushite mission in which I’d been passionately for the two months leading up to the Election: a mission of combatting the pervasive falsehoods of this evil regime; more particularly, a mission of speaking moral truth to amoral power.

 


In other words, a “prophetic” mission.

By January, I was on my local NPR station delivering a series of commentaries to convey my vision of the nature of what was happening in America, and of the nature of the path by which this country might be saved.

Key among those commentaries was one called “Prophetic Opposition.” Some months later, on the very day that I launched my main vehicle for presenting my vision –my new website NoneSoBlind.org– I published on Common Dreams a new version of that piece under the title, “What America Needs Now–A Prophetic Social Movement.”

I had chosen that piece to trumpet my arrival into the “blogosphere” because I felt that this essay, more than any other, captured simply and accessibly and dramatically what I hoped to convey to my countrymen.

Here, now, a year later, I am going to post this essay once again.


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Rev. Ted Haggard: “A deceiver and a liar,” exposed

By Mel Sheesholtz Ph.D.

Once again a self-appointed spokesman for “God” and the leader of a politically active (and lucrative) faith-based empire has been exposed as a hypocritical fraud. Rev. Ted Haggard, former head of the National Association of Evangelicals and a well-known anti-gay moral crusader, recently joined an infamous group with several illustrious members: 

– Rev. Henry J. Lyons was forced out as leader of the National Baptist Convention after his then-wife set fire to a waterfront mansion the reverend secretly owned with his mistress. He was convicted in 1999 of swindling millions of dollars from companies that wanted to do business with members of the denomination. Lyons was sentenced to five years in prison. 

– Archbishop Eugene Marino, a Roman Catholic prelate from Atlanta, resigned in 1990 after a two-year affair with a woman half his age. The woman claimed Marino had performed a marriage ceremony for them in which the two exchanged rings. 

– Rev. Terry Hornbuckle, founder of the Agape Christian Fellowship in Arlington, Texas, was sentenced in August 2006 to 15 years in prison for sexually assaulting two female parishioners, as well as a third woman. Two of the victims said the minister had drugged them. 

– Self-proclaimed prophet Pastor Leonard Ray Owens of Fort Worth, Texas, told a young woman 

that a sex spirit and lesbian demon were inside her and needed to be cast out, police said. The pastor then asked her to lie on the floor and began yelling at her as if she were a demon, saying, “Loose her in the name of Jesus,” according to an arrest warrant affidavit.

The woman told police that Owens pulled down her pants as he called for the demons to come out. When she tried to get up, he pushed her down, the affidavit said. The pastor then began to fight with her as if she were a demon before climbing on top of her, pinning her down, and raping her, police said. 

Then Owens . . . ordered her to wash her face in the name of Jesus and to read Psalm 105:15, which says to do no harm to prophets… 


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It's Election Eve, Do You Know Where Your Country Is?

by Frank Lindorff


When you go into the voting booth tomorrow, here are a few things you need to think about.
First of all, this is not a local election, whatever your candidates for Congress and even for statehouse have been telling you. We have just lived through six years of one-party government, and we've seen the damage that can do. Congress under Republican leadership has ceased to function as an independent branch challenging and investigating the actions of the president, and has instead become an enabler of presidential abuse of power and of the undermining of the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. That means we have to restore at least some measure of opposition in the Congress for the sake of saving the country from a slide into one-party dictatorship, and that means voting for the Democrats, even Democrats who are worse than their Republican opponent. I'd say different if your district had a third-party candidate with a chance of winning, since that person could be expected to vote against Republican rule too, once in office, but aside from Vermont's Bernie Sanders, I don't know of any such cases, such is the sad condition of third party politics in America.

It's equally important to vote Democratic for state legislative candidates and for governor, because the legislatures, in almost all states, are where congressional district lines get drawn up. We saw last year how the Republicans have used their power in state legislatures, particularly in Texas, to eliminate Democratic districts and replace them with Republican ones. In that state, such gerrymandering gave the Republicans five extra House seats before an election was even held.


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The sentencing of Saddam Hussein

by Craig Murray

I hold no brief for Saddam Hussein. He is a gruesome dictator who is much better out of power, and a dangerous man who is much better in captivity. I am nonetheless sorry he will be murdered by the State. Iraq has seen quite enough death already, and like so many of the others, this will merely engender more. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis have died already due to the Bush/Blair invasion. The vast majority of them were totally innocent. If you kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people, you are bound to kill the odd guilty one from time to time, whether by accident or design. That is the measure of the Bush/Blair achievement.

This death, just like that of al-Zaqarwi, will be hailed as a "Turning-point" by the invaders, their leaders, puppets and media spokesmen. So was the capture of Saddam, so were the elections, so was the formation of the government, so was the disbanding of the army. It is unsurprising that there have been so many - a downward spiral is just an unending circle of turning points, and Iraq has been embarked on a helter-skelter ride to Hell. Given what came after him, Bush/Blair have achieved the near impossible feat of making Saddam Hussein look like a comparatively better leader for the Iraqi people.

The trial itself was a political charade with the Americans as puppeteers. Judges were repeatedly changed if they showed any sign of independent thought. Defence lawyers who looked too effective were simply murdered. The TV cameras were turned off on the show trial if it got sticky for the US - with an American hand on the button. And the ultimate in stage management, the verdict was handed down two days before the US mid-term elections. Who honestly does not believe that timing was contrived?

I am all in favour of Dictators and War Criminals being punished. I wish Saddam had received a fair trial, and think the Hague would have been much better - he would have been seen to get a fair trial, and I am pretty sure a fair guilty verdict. We should not lose sight of the need to hold justice over the mighty. Bush and Blair are responsible for the unprovoked invasion of a sovereign state, against the wishes of the UN Security Council. They have on their hands the blood of hundreds of thousands of people. I live hope that I will see the day when they are in the dock.

I will still be against the death penalty.

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Behind Bush's Nuclear Gift to Terrorism

by Chris Floyd

 

I am now writing a piece for Truthout.org on the wider ramifications of the Bush Administration's lunatic dumping of a nuclear weapons "cookbook" on the Internet and leaving it posted up for months: a pearl beyond price for any government, militia, terrorist group, religious cult or criminal mafia hoping to wield some of the nuclear terror that has hitherto been the sole province of the world's "most developed" nations.

 

As we all know, the reason for this data-dump was purely and solely partisan politics: the Bush Faction wanted their little bootlickers in the rightwing blogosphere to cherry-pick the raw data from millions of Saddam-era documents in hopes of finding something that would goose a couple of news cycles here and there with stories of "revelations" that "justify" one or more of the Bush Regime's warmongering lies. They've been disappointed in this propaganda gambit, however – namely because there can be no data of WMD programs that didn't exist (or links to al Qaeda that never were). However, there was plenty of data on the almost-successful nuclear weapons program that Saddam had built before 1991 – with a mighty assist from a former U.S. president named George Bush. It was this data that the gormless son of Saddam's former accomplice and benefactor released for all the world to see.

All of this is bad enough; however, late-breaking news in the UK today has given a truly disturbing new dimension to the possible uses of Bush's gift to nuclear proliferators: six Arab nations h ave formally announced that they are now launching nuclear programs of their own. The potential dangers of this move in the powerderkeg of the Middle East are almost unfathomable. My Truthout piece will have more on this, and how the Bush nuke dump plays into it.

Below is a companion piece that I'd written to go with an earlier column for Truthout dealing solely with the Bush dump. The news today has superceded that original article, so I'm rewriting furiously; however, the companion piece – providing some of the long-range background to the situation – is still valid, so I'm putting it up now.

Prelude to a Quagmire

The Bush Party were eager for their acolytes to exhume damning nuggets from the history of Saddam's regime. But even here their idiocy showed itself. For a truly thorough and objective analysis of the rise and rule of the Iraqi roughneck would have indeed unearthed damning revelations –about generations of American leadership that helped create and sustain Saddam's brutal regime. This history gives the lie to everything the Bush Faction has said about Iraq and why we are there – yet it is virtually unknown to the general public and is almost never mentioned by the mainstream media, except in brief flashes, like shooting stars, that appear briefly then disappear into the darkness.


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Paper Trail:Turning the Corner With a Timely Verdict

by Chris Floyd
 

Well, Karl Rove got the banner headline he wanted for all the final Sunday papers before the ele ction: Saddam Hussein Is Sentenced to Death.

The political impact of the story will probably be neglible. Saddam has been a dead man walking for three years;  and the fate of this former Bush Family protégé has nothing to do with the anti-war sentiment across the country.

However, in regard to the Iraqi insurgency as a whole, I think we can safely say that Saddam' s conviction will prove to be a major turning point, every bit as momentous and transformative as all the other major turning points, such as the death of al-Zaqarwi, the various Iraqi elections, the destruction of Fallujah, the capture of Saddam, the killing of his two sons, or Bush's glorious announcement of "Mission Accomplished" on that golden day in May 2003.

Yep, there's no doubt about it: we've definitely turned the corner now. Why, in six months' time…..

(Robert Fisk has more on the verdict -- especially the fact that some of the Saddam's chief co-conspirators somehow escaped justice: This was a Guilty Verdict on America as Well.  Not sure how long the article will remain freely available from The Independent, so copious excerpts are provided here after the jump.

 

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Bush's Carnival of Blood

Bush's Carnival of Blood

by Mike Whitney


This is a dark day for Americans and Iraqis alike.

Killing Saddam Hussein isn’t justice; its vengeance. Only Bush believes the two are the same.

How are we supposed to feel now that we know that Saddam will be hanged for his crimes?

Elated? Energized? Jubilant?

Will it wash away the oceans of blood that Bush generated with his misguided and tragic war?

The administration clings to the foolish notion that killing Saddam will somehow justify their unprovoked invasion and slaughter of 650,000 Iraqis.

It won't.

 

 

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Rough Justice; prowling Baghdad with a sidearm and a defective bulletproof-vest

by Mike Whitney

On Monday, an editorial is scheduled to appear in the “Army Times” which will call for Donald Rumsfeld’s resignation as Secretary of Defense. The article will run simultaneously in the “Air Force Times”, “Navy Times” and “Marine Corps Times” and will be available to every active member in the United States Military.

The editorial “Time for Rumsfeld to go” provides a brief summary of Rumsfeld’s role in engineering the greatest strategic defeat in American history. It says that the “rosy reassurances” made by the administration (like “Mission accomplished” and that the insurgency “was in its last throes”) were in stark contrast to the military’s “misgivings about the war’s planning, execution and prospects for success”.

Note: The “Army Times” has traditionally been about as critical of the government as their Soviet equivalent, Pravda. They have never publicly bashed the civilian leadership even in the worst days of the Vietnam War. This is entirely unprecedented. The military has clearly lost its faith in Rumsfeld’s ability to lead.

Rumsfeld’s inability to learn from his mistakes or follow the advice of his subordinates has caused him to underestimate the challenges of military occupation or “the problem of molding a viciously sectarian population into anything resembling a force for national unity.”


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All you need is love (...and a small, well-trained army)

by Mickey Z.


Warning: This article has not been approved by the Department of Homeland Security. Read at your own risk
.

Thomas Jefferson sez: "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants."

In his most recent book, a two-volume set called 'Endgame,' author Derrick Jensen tells of a discussion he had with a longtime activist. "She told me of a campaign she participated in a few years ago to try to stop the government and transnational timber corporations from spraying Agent Orange, a potent defoliant and teratogen, in the forests of Oregon," Jensen writes.

All too predictably, the dedicated demonstrators assembled to protest the toxic spraying were, "like clockwork," ignored by the helicopter pilots.

Both humans and landscape ended up thoroughly doused with Agent Orange-time and time again. The protest campaign obviously had no effect, so a different approach was taken. "A bunch of Vietnam vets lived in those hills," the activist told Jensen, "and they sent messages to the Bureau of Land Management and to Weyerhauser, Boise Cascade, and the other timber companies saying, 'We know the names of your helicopter pilots, and we know their addresses' "You know what happened next?" she asked.

 

 


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