By Tom Chartier
Are you worried about fraud at the polls? Ahâ€¦ you must live where electronic voting machines are being used. Are they the ones made by Diebold? If so, that is all the more reason to be uneasy.
If you are a staunch Republican Bush supporter fear not! I have no doubt your party line Republican vote will be correctly counted as you wish. Of course, if you are a Democrat or, God forbid, a Libertarian, or even a member of the Bull Moose Party, you might have cause for concern.
Electronic voting machines are, in the words of my hard-core Midwestern Republican, Information Technologies expert buddy, a â€œformula for disaster.â€ Indeed they are. They can be easily hacked as some researchers at Princeton University recently proved.
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by Chris Floyd
Israel admits it used phosphorus weapons (Guardian)
Israel Adds Far-Right Party to Coalition (NY Times)
The good news just keeps rolling in from Israel, where the "light unto the nations" plows on in its relentless self-exile into outer darkness. That epithet of "light" once had the tang of truth, in the great line of thinkers, artists, activists, theologians, healers, humorists, and diviners of the natural world, largely in the Diaspora, from Maimonides to Mendelssohn, from Judah Ha-Levi to Boris Pasternak and Bob Dylan, from the Baal Shem Tov to Martin Buber, from Spinoza to Einstein, and on and on in every field of worthy endeavor. But the political inheritors of this matchless legacy seem hellbent on squandering what once seemed an inexhaustible storehouse of the human spirit.
Every week seems to bring some new brutality, some new degradation, some further coarsening â€“ and some new parallel with the Bush Regime and the brutal, coarse and degraded currents in American society that it so amply embodies and represents.
As a side note â€“ or maybe even a main note â€“ I'm not one of those who subscribe to the "Israel made us do it" meme that seems to loom large in the dissident blogosphere. I just can't buy the idea that Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and the gang are somehow being jerked around by wily Zionists â€“ as if they wouldn't be following their "unitary executive"-global domination-war profiteering agenda even if Israel didn't exist. I think this shows a fundamental misunderstanding of the American ruling class â€“ and yes, Virginia, there is an American ruling class and a pretty vicious, voracious, self-serving lot they are, too. The idea that these factions of gargantuan wealth and privilege â€“ much of it, as with the Bushes, going back for generations â€“ could be induced to act against their own narrowly defined but passionately held interests by the arguments of third-rate hacks like Richard Perle, Paul Wolfowitz, or Douglas Feith seems fairly risible.
Yes, they are happy to make use of the neo-cons, the Likudniks, AIPAC, etc. etc., especially as the hard-right in Israel dovetails neatly with the American elite's own harsh, bellicose vision of the world. And yes, the Israel lobby has a broad and pernicious influence on the workings of American politics â€“ just as, say, the Turkish lobby does (ask Denny Hastert about those suitcases stuffed with Turkish cash; Foleygate is nothing compared to the yet-untold story of Treasongate), or the Saudi lobby, which has spread infinitely more baksheesh through the American system than the Israeli lobby could ever hope to match . But when the American elite go to war, they go to war for themselves, for their own benefit, not for anyone else. Despite various contretemps over the years (that little spot of bother about the USS Liberty, for example), Israel has ultimately served the American elite's purposes. If it didn't, then the untold billions of dollars in American cash and arms that have propped up Israel for decades would disappear overnight, and the country would be left to its fate.
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By Mike Whitney
Iraq is the great tragedy of our generation. Every day men and women are brazenly killed in their own homes or cities by foreign troops who occupy the country without justification.
In Baghdad, â€œliberationâ€ has become a permanent state of martial law where one can never be certain if his door will suddenly be kicked in and he will either be shot or dragged off to some remote prison for torture.
Entire cities are now under siege; surrounded by concertina-wire and massive walls of dirt. The townspeople are forced to exit and enter through American-run checkpoints and forced to verify their identity to their foreign jailors.
By Mike Whitney
Most people wonâ€™t pay any attention to this weekâ€™s energy summit in Lahti, Finland, but they should. It is particularly instructive for anyone who is interested in the latest developments in the global resource war.
The purpose of the meeting was to work out the nettlesome issues of energy policy, but the hidden agenda was to pressure Russian President Putin into signing away the control of his countryâ€™s critical assets to the big-players in the world energy cartel. The proposed â€œEnergy Charter Treatyâ€ is designed to tie up Russiaâ€™s resources through legal obligations which serve the overall interests of the energy giants. The treaty is no different than the EU Constitution which was voted down last year when the â€œinformedâ€ European public realized that it was just another boondoggle set up by big business to override national sovereignty, environmental safety, and civil liberties. The Energy Charter Treaty and the EU Constitution focus on the very same objectives, that is, establishing the legal framework for placing the world and its dwindling resources in the hands of a small cadre of obscenely-wealthy western plutocrats.
by Dave Lindorff
The Bush administration, losing the war in Iraq, has come with a "new" strategy: setting a timetable for Iraq's puppet regime and its fledgling army to "stand up" to the task of running the country so that the U.S. military can "stand down."
If you think this brilliant "new" plan sounds remarkably like the one proposed earlier this year by many Democrats, who were accused at that time of "cutting and running" for proposing just such a withdrawal timetable, you're right.
` It also sounds like yet another one of those Bush/Rove scams that are pulled out at each election to trick gullible voters into thinking the president is actually going to do something dramatic when he is really just talking. The truth is this plan is no more serious than Bush's early announcement of a plan to send Americans to the moon and on to Mars.
That plan, of course, was a joke from the start. The president didnâ€™t offer any money for a Moon or Mars project, and never had any intention of doing so. It was just more of the same at NASA, blowing money on the giant white elephant in the sky called the International Space Station. And of course, we don't hear anything about Mars anymore.
by William A. Cook
â€œAnd they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the Lord. â€¦ shall not my soul be avenged on such a nation as this?â€ (Jeremiah 9:3, 5:29)
Nothing in the past 60 years revealed the true face of Israel to the world at large (and perhaps to the Lord above) as its illegal invasion of Lebanon. Never before has the Israeli government allowed the world to witness the depth of its brutal aggression as it defied international law with its collective punishment of the innocent. At no time in the past has Israel lost control of the flow of information allowed into or out of Israel and the occupied territories until it abandoned its borders and invaded Lebanon. That mistake ripped away the veil of â€œvictim hoodâ€ that the Israeli propaganda machine had constructed around the tiny, beleaguered state beset with fanatics intent on erasing it â€œfrom the mapâ€ and suicide bombers that threatened death in the streets.
For a full month the world watched as Israel let loose the enormous power of its military might on small towns, on cities, on roads and bridges, on electric power plants and water supply stations, on ports and ships, on oil tanks and beaches, and on the innocent who fled by car, truck, and foot. The condemnation from the world communities appeared universal, until one turned to America. Here our representatives crawled before AIPAC begging them to pen a resolution that would show our absolute commitment to the devastation being wrought on the Lebanese.
Fortunately, our representatives do not represent the American people any more than our main stream media represents what the people of the United States feel regarding the state without mercy, the reprehensible state of Israel. Indeed, the Jewish state of Israel does not represent the Jews of America. Listen to what Jews with a conscience say to the state of Israel: â€œThere is no Jewish safety, nor claims to justice, reason, or equity, beyond Jewish commitment to the unconditional safety and liberation of the peoples of Palestine, Lebanon and the other Arab and Muslim countries currently under attack by Israel, the U.S. and its allies.â€ Real Jews, those committed to the morals that give strength to Judaism, demand of Israel that â€œ(1) it stop its brutal siege on Gaza and on Lebanon and call for an unconditional cease fire; (2) it stop expansion of the Israeli Wall of Separation, dismantle the completed sections, and completely withdraw from Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem; (3) the United States support the United Nations resolutions demanding that Israel uphold international law and support the sanctions against Israel necessary to enforce these resolutions; (4) the United States end military and economic aid to Israel; (5) that Israel support reparations for the Palestinian and Lebanese people for the death and destruction they have suffered and for the aid towards the rebuilding of their countries.â€ (Petition for U.S. Jewish Solidarity with Muslims and Arab Peoples).
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by Mickey Z.
Halloween is an odd holiday. The ostensible concept, as it has evolved to become, is to shock, startle, frighten, petrify, horrify, and/or terrify...all while consuming enough high fructose corn syrup to keep the American Dental Association content for another century or two.
Every year, as October 31 nears, loyal Americans eagerly squander a small fortune to adorn their humble abodes with Made-in-China images of tombstones, skulls, ghouls, goblins, monsters, zombies, and even the occasional bloody severed limb or two. While none of these cardboard depictions scare me as much as, say, the upcoming fifth installment of Stallone's "Rocky" series, I do believe there are plenty of real-life creatures that might warrant their own Halloween mask this year...and I'm not just talking about celluloid slashers.
Ghosts, to me, are not a bigger or more urgent concern than irreparable environmental damage, and I certainly lose less sleep over the dead rising from their graves to eat me than I do a planet populated with oppressed and starving humans.
by William Blum
Captain Ahab had his Moby Dick. Inspector Javert had his Jean Valjean. The United States has its Fidel Castro. Washington also has its Daniel Ortega. For 27 years, the most powerful nation in the world has found it impossible to share the Western Hemisphere with one of its poorest and weakest neighbors, Nicaragua, if the country's leader was not in love with capitalism.
From the moment the Sandinista revolutionaries overthrew the US-supported Somoza dictatorship in 1979, Washington was concerned about the rising up of that long-dreaded beast -- "another Cuba". This was war. On the battlefield and in the voting booths. For almost 10 years, the American proxy army, the Contras, carried out a particularly brutal insurgency against the Sandinista government and its supporters. In 1984, Washington tried its best to sabotage the elections, but failed to keep Sandinista leader Ortega from becoming president. And the war continued.
In 1990, Washington's electoral tactic was to hammer home the simple and clear message to the people of Nicaragua: If you re-elect Ortega all the horrors of the civil war and America's economic hostility will continue. Just two months before the election, in December 1989, the United States invaded Panama for no apparent reason acceptable to international law, morality, or common sense (The United States naturally called it "Operation Just Cause"); one likely reason it was carried out was to send a clear message to the people of Nicaragua that this is what they could expect, that the US/Contra war would continue and even escalate, if they re-elected the Sandinistas.
It worked; one cannot overestimate the power of fear, of murder, rape, and your house being burned down. Ortega lost, and Nicaragua returned to the rule of the free market, striving to roll back the progressive social and economic programs that had been undertaken by the Sandinistas. Within a few years widespread malnutrition, wholly inadequate access to health care and education, and other social ills, had once again become a widespread daily fact of life for the people of Nicaragua.
by Mickey Z.
A casual stroll through most major U.S. cities would provide ample opportunity to encounter numerous stickers, buttons, t-shirts, and windo signs bearing anti-war messages. Well, maybe not exactly "anti-war," but more like: anti-THIS-war. There's been some version of a peace movement inAmerica for over a century, but far too many of those speaking out against the U.S. invasion of Iraq are not strictly "anti-war." From what I can tell,more than a few of them have absolutely no problem with: wars started by their (sic) party and/or wars that the U.S. easily wins (sic).
by Craig Murray,
As the catastrophe in Iraq continues to unfold, an unresolved question remains on the role of Bush, Blair, and the US/UK military. To what extent were they passively incompetent in facilitating the decline into civil war, and to what extent were they actively pursuing policies that promoted that outcome?
The adoption of the 'Salvador Option' by the US in Iraq was reported and discussed from the beginning of 2005 onwards. As described by Newsweek, the Salvador Option looked something like this:
Following that model, one Pentagon proposal would send Special Forces teams to advise, support and possibly train Iraqi squads, most likely hand-picked Kurdish Peshmerga fighters and Shiite militiamen, to target Sunni insurgents and their sympathizers, even across the border into Syria, according to military insiders familiar with the discussions. It remains unclear, however, whether this would be a policy of assassination or so-called "snatch" operations, in which the targets are sent to secret facilities for interrogation. The current thinking is that while U.S. Special Forces would lead operations in, say, Syria, activities inside Iraq itself would be carried out by Iraqi paramilitaries, officials tell NEWSWEEK.
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by William Blum
The jingo bells are ringing
"Who really poses the greatest danger to world peace: Iraq, North Korea or the United States?" asked Time magazine in an online poll in early 2003, shortly before the US invasion of Iraq. The final results were: North Korea 6.7%, Iraq 6.3%, the United States 86.9%; 706,842 total votes cast.
Imagine that following North Korea's recent underground nuclear test neither the United States nor any other government cried out that the sky was falling. No threat to world peace and security was declared by the White House or any other house. It was thus not the lead story on every radio and TV broadcast and newspaper page one. The UN Security Council did not unanimously condemn it. Nor did NATO. "What should we do about him?" was not America Online's plaintive all-day headline alongside a photo of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.
Who would have known about the explosion, even if it wasn't baby-sized? Who would have cared? But because all this fear mongering did in fact take place, www.vote.com was able to pose the question -- "North Korea's Nuclear Threat: Is It Time For An International Economic Blockade To Make Them Stop?" -- and hence compile a 93% "yes" vote. It doesn't actually take too much to win hearts and mindless. Media pundit Ben Bagdikian once wrote: "While it is impossible for the media to tell the population what to think, they do tell the public what to think about."
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed
"The electro shocks are administered without warning. This process is called 'loosening up'. When the person is screaming constantly between the shocks, the interrogators start talking to him in Arabic"
Memo by former British Army Officer Peter Wright, Recording Testimony of US Army Officer John Peirce, US Army Airfield Coleman Barracks, Mannheim, Germany
The Death of Democracy. CIA-style.
It's here folks. And it's official.
The final nail in the coffin comes with the instituting of the Military Commissions Act 2006, yet another draconian piece of anti-terrorism legislation that grants the US government almost absolute jurisdiction to act as judge, jury and executioner in the "War on Terror".
It's safe to say that, thanks to this and previous legislative attempts to consolidate unchecked state-power, the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights have been well and truly chain-saw massacred, by a "national security" bureaucracy intent on protecting its already stupendous ability to do exactly what it likes, regardless of the rule of law, democracy, or any of the other values and principles that are supposed to have been the prizes of western civilization.
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