31 October 2006
"The Department of Homeland Security would like to remind passengers that you may not take any liquids onto the plane. This includes ice cream, as the ice cream will melt and turn into a liquid." This was actually heard by one of my readers at the Atlanta Airport recently; he laughed out loud. He informs me that he didn't know what was more bizarre, that such an announcement was made or that he was the only person that he could see who reacted to its absurdity. This is the way it is with societies of people. Like with the proverbial frog who submits to being boiled to death in a pot of water if the water is heated very gradually, people submit to one heightened absurdity and indignation after another if they're subjected to them at a gradual enough rate. That's one of the most common threads one finds in the personal stories of Germans living in the Third Reich. This airport story is actually an example of an absurdity within an absurdity. Since the "bomb made from liquids and gels" story was foisted upon the public, several chemists and other experts have pointed out the technical near-impossibility of manufacturing such a bomb in a moving airplane, if for no other reason than the necessity of spending at least an hour or two in the airplane bathroom. - William Blum
Read it all here.
Robert Fisk: Mystery of Israel's secret uranium bomb
Alarm over radioactive legacy left by attack on Lebanon
Published: 28 October 2006
Did Israel use a secret new uranium-based weapon in southern Lebanon this summer in the 34-day assault that cost more than 1,300 Lebanese lives, most of them civilians?
We know that the Israelis used American "bunker-buster" bombs on Hizbollah's Beirut headquarters. We know that they drenched southern Lebanon with cluster bombs in the last 72 hours of the war, leaving tens of thousands of bomblets which are still killing Lebanese civilians every week. And we now know - after it first categorically denied using such munitions - that the Israeli army also used phosphorous bombs, weapons which are supposed to be restricted under the third protocol of the Geneva Conventions, which neither Israel nor the United States have signed.
But scientific evidence gathered from at least two bomb craters in Khiam and At-Tiri, the scene of fierce fighting between Hizbollah guerrillas and Israeli troops last July and August, suggests that uranium-based munitions may now also be included in Israel's weapons inventory - and were used against targets in Lebanon. According to Dr Chris Busby, the British Scientific Secretary of the European Committee on Radiation Risk, two soil samples thrown up by Israeli heavy or guided bombs showed "elevated radiation signatures". Both have been forwarded for further examination to the Harwell laboratory in Oxfordshire for mass spectrometry - used by the Ministry of Defence - which has confirmed the concentration of uranium isotopes in the samples.
Dr Busby's initial report states that there are two possible reasons for the contamination. "The first is that the weapon was some novel small experimental nuclear fission device or other experimental weapon (eg, a thermobaric weapon) based on the high temperature of a uranium oxidation flash ... The second is that the weapon was a bunker-busting conventional uranium penetrator weapon employing enriched uranium rather than depleted uranium." A photograph of the explosion of the first bomb shows large clouds of black smoke that might result from burning uranium.
Enriched uranium is produced from natural uranium ore and is used as fuel for nuclear reactors. A waste product of the enrichment process is depleted uranium, it is an extremely hard metal used in anti-tank missiles for penetrating armour. Depleted uranium is less radioactive than natural uranium, which is less radioactive than enriched uranium.
Read all of Fisk's article here.
A friend of mine in Baghdad wrote to me a few days ago about a conversation he’d had with an elderly lady from West Virginia who was seated next to him on an airplane between Los Angeles and Washington earlier this year. The subject under discussion was how Iraqis generally view the American invasion and occupation of Iraq, and my friend was trying to find an analogy that would work for a sweet eighty-five-year-old grandmother who had never traveled anywhere beyond the USA in her life. He came up with this:
Imagine you are visiting with one of your daughters who is married to a man who is a bit of a brute. He beats the kids occasionally and has knocked her about from time to time as well. You don’t like it, she doesn’t like it, the kids don’t like it, but at the end of the day he’s Dad, he works hard, he provides, and no one’s going to break up the family after all this time – besides, the monster’s mellowing with age and hasn’t hit anyone very hard in a long while.“Well, I wouldn’t be happy,” the old lady apparently replied.
So there you all are, watching TV one night, the kids doing their homework or playing downstairs, your daughter preparing dinner in the kitchen, the son-in-law having his beer and reading the sports page….When all of a sudden, the front door is smashed open, there are loud explosions all around the house, and five men come crashing in through the windows on ropes, as another five pour through the broken door firing guns.
One of the kids is killed, another staggers around covered in blood screaming, a third lies groaning somewhere nearby, then flames erupt from the kitchen as your daughter runs out, her body on fire, and you feel something smash into your knee breaking the leg. Before anyone can work out what’s happening, there’s another terrifying explosion above and the house rocks from side to side as the roof caves in and the whole structure collapses around you in rubble and dust. As you wipe the gravel and concrete from your face, you see that some of the intruders have handcuffed the son-in-law and are dragging him away at gunpoint. One of these gunmen then comes over and identifies himself as a representative of the Chinese Children’s Aid Society of Beijing, saying they would have come sooner but they had trouble getting visas.
They were here now, though, and your family was at last free of the brute and you could finally relax. Another gunman sweeps a bit of rubble to one side with a broom and apologizes for the mess, giving you the business card of a local contractor who also happens to be a friend of his brother and specializes in fixing houses reduced to rubble for a reasonable price. The men then say in a chorus, Have a nice day! They throw the brute into a van and are off leaving you sitting there alone in the dark with raindrops starting to pitter-patter on your head. How do you think you would you feel about all this?
“And that’s pretty much how we feel,” said my friend.
This comes courtesy of the Atlantic Free Press.
Oz, over at Earth Family Alpha, has a great post about peak oil.
Peak a Boo
Just in case you aren't scared out of your PJs enough already,
Here is a headline from Reuters that is fitting for the day.
World oil production may have peaked-executive
Thu Oct 26, 2006
By Scott Malone
BOSTON, Oct 26 (Reuters) - World production of crude oil may have already peaked, setting the stage for declining output that could lag demand, a top advocate of the "peak oil" theory said on Thursday.
Matthew Simmons, chairman of Simmons & Co. International, a Houston-based investment banking firm specializing in the energy sector, said U.S. government data showed that the world oil supply has declined through the first half of this year.
Read the rest here.
This is a call to action against mexican consulates all over the country.
By a friend and companer@
October 28th, 2006 - This is a call to action to remember Brad, show solidarity with the teachers and protesters of Oaxaca, and attempt to interrupt the invasion of Oaxaca that Fox is beginning.
On Friday, October 27th, as many who are reading this probably already know, an amazing companero, journalist, anarchist, freedom fighter, earth firster, musician, and human being was shot down and killed in cold blood, along with three other companeros, by officials employed by the Mexican Government. His name was Bradley Will, and he was shot at the barricades of Santa Lucia, in Oaxaca, Mexico, as an indymedia reporter telling the story of the amazing resistance of people of Oaxaca. For over five months residents have occupied the streets in an attempt to oust the corrupt, brutal governor Ruiz, and achieve the dignity, freedom, and autonomy initially sought after by the teacher’s strike which was so brutally repressed by that same governor.
Read the rest of it here.
30 October 2006
Funeral March to Protest the War in Iraq - Austin, TX
Date: Saturday, Nov. 4th, 1 -3 pm. Rain date is Sunday, Nov. 5th, 1 pm.
Description of Protest: mock, silent, solemn funeral procession (single file) with everyone dressed in funeral black with some women wearing long black veils (we furnish) and some marchers carrying signs (CP to make) saying messages such as "Today We Mourn, Tomorrow We Vote" and "Troops Home Now."
Location: Meet at City Hall Plaza. Route will begin there and head to Congress Avenue bridge where it will go the extent of the bridge to Barton Springs and loop back to city hall. Lots of parking under City Hall.
For more information: Call Deborah of CodePink at 448-3090.
U.S. blunders in reconstructing Iraq are staggering
By Trudy Rubin
I often recall a meeting in October 2003 in Baghdad with an Iraqi engineer who had a master's from Ball State University and loved America. He wanted to talk to me about corruption in reconstruction projects in Iraq.
Hamid spoke with anger at seeing U.S. officials on the bases pay cash to fly-by-night Iraqi agents to cart away new vehicles and spare parts - along with generators - that had been left behind by Saddam's army. The Iraqis then sold the valuable equipment in Syria and Jordan and paid kickbacks to the U.S. officials. "You are helping criminals," he complained, "and wasting your money and ours."
I never had the opportunity to investigate Hamid's accusations. He was murdered by Sunni insurgents for working with Americans. Now the sad tale of corruption and wasted billions in America's Iraq reconstruction program has been laid bare in a spate of new books, and by the U.S. inspector general for Iraq reconstruction.
Bob Woodward's State of Denial details the incredible lack of planning for the postwar, in which the Pentagon team tasked with running Iraqi reconstruction met together for the first time only a few weeks before the invasion.
To understand what these Pentagon civilians wrought, read Rajiv Chandrasekaran's Imperial Life in the Emerald City about the Bush team's decision to send "the loyal and the willing instead of the best and the brightest" to rebuild Iraq.
Chandrasekaran, former Baghdad bureau chief of the Washington Post, describes how Republican connections were the ticket to a job in Baghdad's Green Zone in 2003-2004, in the occupation era of the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA). There were some competent folks inside the Green Zone, but they played second fiddle to political appointees.
More typical was James K. Haveman Jr., a 60-year-old Republican social worker and Christian antiabortion activist, who was picked to head the Health Ministry over a physician with degrees in public health and experience in third-world disaster relief.
Haveman treated Baghdad as if it were an extension of his home state of Michigan: He pushed for more maternity hospitals instead of refurbishing Baghdad's ill-equipped emergency rooms. He pressed for an anti-smoking campaign - and tried to limit the number of drugs distributed to hospitals, ensuring that essential medicines stayed out of stock. He was in over his head.
To get the full flavor of the mismanagement of the postwar, however, you need to go to www.sigir.mil, and read the reports of the special inspector general in Iraq (SIGIR), Stuart W. Bowen Jr.
Hats off to Congress for creating this office to check, ex post facto, on the more than $18 billion spent for reconstruction. Too bad no one kept tabs sooner. Bowen's reports tell of huge cost overruns by American contractors - notably the Halliburton subsidiary known as KBR (formerly Kellogg Brown and Root). Despite repeated criticism, KBR has been paid most of its money by the Army.
Read all the bad news here.
"Call to Bloggers" to stand up for freedom ahead of world meeting on future of Internet
Urgent appeal for Iranian blogger held incommunicado
Amnesty International today issued a ‘Call to Bloggers’, asking them to get online and stand up for freedom of expression on the internet. The organisation says this is a critical time when fundamental rights – particularly freedom of expression and privacy – are under threat from governments that want to control what their citizens say, and what information they can access.
The call comes as the online world prepares to meet at the Internet Governance Forum (IGF, Athens 30/10 – 2/11) to discuss the future of the internet. Amnesty released a statement to the IGF today and is sending a delegation to ensure that human rights are not sidelined and remain at the heart of the forum’s discussions.
Read the entire press release here. For more information about the Internet Governance Forum, click here.
Castro's Doctors-for-Oil Swap With Chavez Bolsters Bush's Foes
By Guillermo Parra-Bernal
Oct. 30 (Bloomberg) -- By 10 p.m. on most nights, the sea wall alongside Havana's main drag, El Malecon, a 10-kilometer- long highway bordering the sea, is standing room only. Young Cubans listen to street musicians strumming Cuba's slow, sensuous guajira rhythms, swig from cartons of rum and discuss politics with foreigners out of earshot of the night police patrols.
For the first time in more than 15 years, some see a better future.
Danis Díaz is one. Unemployed right now because he broke his leg working on an oil rig, he says he doesn't expect any trouble finding a new job once he recovers. "I am optimistic," Díaz, 24, says. "It's the first time in years I've felt that way. I'm sure that new job opportunities will pop up. I hear the Venezuelans are helping."
These are prosperous times for the economy of the Republic of Cuba, and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez does indeed have a lot to do with it. Gross domestic product grew at 12 percent last year, according to Cuba's Economy and Planning Ministry, the fastest rate since President Fidel Castro took power in 1959 and turned the island into a communist state.
Though reliable data on the Cuban economy is hard to come by, and government figures are often out of date and impossible to confirm, anecdotal evidence backs up the Cuban claims.
"The Cuban economy is doing OK," says Wayne Smith, a senior fellow at the Center for International Policy in Washington who spent 25 years as a U.S. diplomat focusing on Cuba. "I see it moving forward. I see important improvements." Smith last visited Cuba in September.
Read the complete article here.
A quiet battle against noise
by LEAH LEACH
JOYCE -- Gordon Hempton listened all over the world for silence. The quietest spot he found was close to home.
A three-mile walk into the Hoh Rain Forest takes him to a place of peace marked with a small red rock, measuring exactly one square inch, given to him by the late David Four Lines, a Quileute tribal elder.
It marks a spot atop a moss covered log 678 feet above sea level that Hempton calls the quietest place on earth.
From that one spot quiet radiates for hundreds of miles, he said.
It is the one square inch center of Hempton's quiet battle against noise.
He is working to have airlines agree to detour around the park and to have park management include silence as a natural resource.
His One Square Inch project is a means of supporting those goals.
Read about it here and here.
We had a link to this movie quite awhile ago, but didn't have the YouTube version which has since become available. We thought it worth doing a re-run, in case you missed the first showing. This is James Blunt singing No Bravery, while a slideshow of events in Iraq plays. Touching.
Note: MM = Monday Movie
29 October 2006
"The problem lies in the unwillingness to recognise that your own terrorism is terrorism"
Noam Chomsky interviewed by Saad Sayeed
Excalibur Online, October 25, 2006
Excalibur (Ex): How important is an understanding of the role of states such as the U.S. and the U.K. when examining the question of terrorism?
Chomsky (Ch): It depends on whether we want to be honest and truthful or whether we want to just serve state power ( . . . ) We should look at all forms of terrorism. I have been writing on terrorism for 25 years, ever since the Reagan administration came in 1981 and declared that the leading focus of its foreign policy was going to be a war on terror. A war against state directed terrorism which they called the plague of the modern world because of their barbarism and so on. That was the centre of their foreign policy and ever since I have been writing about terrorism.
But what I write causes extreme anger for the very simple reason that I use the U.S. government's official definition of terrorism from the official U.S. code of laws. If you use that definition, it follows very quickly that the U.S. is the leading terrorist state and a major sponsor of terrorism and since that conclusion is unacceptable, it arouses furious anger. But the problem lies in the unwillingness to recognize that your own terrorism is terrorism. This is not just true of the United States, it's true quite generally. Terrorism is something that they do to us. In both cases, it's terrorism and we have to get over that if we're serious about the question.
Ex: And what keeps you motivated?
Ch: I'll just tell you a brief story. I was in Beirut a couple of months ago giving talks at the American university in the city. After a talk, people come up and they want to talk privately or have books signed.
Here I was giving a talk in a downtown theatre, a large group of people were around and a young woman came up to me, in her mid-'20s, and just said this sentence: "I am Kinda" and practically collapsed. You wouldn't know who Kinda is but that's because we live in societies where the truth is kept hidden. I knew who she was. She had a book of mine open to a page on which I had quoted a letter of hers that she wrote when she was seven years old.
It was right after the U.S. bombing of Libya, her family was then living in Libya, and she wrote a letter which was found by a journalist friend of mine who tried to get it published in the United States but couldn't because no one would publish it. He then gave it to me, I published it. The letter said something like this:
"Dear Mr Reagan, I am seven years old. I want to know why you killed my little sister and my friend and my rag doll. Is it because we are Palestinians? Kinda". That's one of the most moving letters I have ever seen and when she walked up to me and said I am Kinda, and, like I say, actually fell over, not only because of the event but because of what it means.
Here's the United States with no pretext at all, bombing another country, killing and destroying, and nobody wants to know what a little seven-year-old girl wrote about the atrocities. That's the kind of thing that keeps me motivated and ought to keep everybody motivated. And you can multiply that by 10,000.
Read the entire interview here.
Cathy From Canada posted this:
New Element on Periodic Table
A major research institution has just announced the discovery of the densest element yet known to science. The new element has been named "Bushcronium."
Bushcronium has one neutron, 12 assistant neutrons, 75 deputy neutrons, and 224 assistant deputy neutrons, giving it an atomic mass of 311. These particles are held together by dark forces called morons, which are surrounded by vast quantities of lepton-like particles called peons.
The symbol for Bushcronium is "W." Bushcronium's mass actually increases over time, as morons randomly interact with various elements in the atmosphere and become assistant deputy neutrons in a Bushcronium molecule, forming isodopes. This characteristic of moron-promotion leads some scientists to believe that Bushcronium is formed whenever morons reach a certain quantity in concentration. This hypothetical quantity is referred to as "Critical Morass."
When catalyzed with money, Bushcronium activates Foxnewsium, an element that radiates orders of magnitude more energy, albeit as incoherent noise, since it has 1/2 as many peons but twice as many morons.
"Iraq's savage sectarian war is now regarded as a greater obstacle to any semblance of peace returning than the insurgency, and was the main reason for the Americans recently pouring 12,000 troops into the capital - an operation that, they now acknowledge, has failed.
Yet, ironically, the death squads are the result of US policy. At the beginning of last year, with no end to the Sunni insurgency in sight, the Pentagon was reported to have decided to train Shia and Kurdish fighters to carry out "irregular missions". The policy, exposed in the US media, was called the "Salvador Option" after the American-backed counter-insurgency in Latin America more than 20 years ago, which led to 70,000 deaths and countless instances of human rights abuse."
Read the full article here.
h/t Today in Iraq
This is one of many of these types of articles across America today.
Postwar life for Iraq, Afghan vets is anything but normal
James Janega and Aamer Madhani
October 29, 2006 3:03 AM
CHICAGO - It's been more than three years since Martin Binion navigated minefields and sniper fire as he made his way to Baghdad with a combat assault team in the opening days of the Iraq war.
Now the former U.S. Army soldier is trying to make it through the Veterans Affairs system, and Binion, 33, is barely getting by. He has flirted with homelessness, been turned down for more than a dozen jobs, and is trying to be treated for post-traumatic stress disorder.
More than five years after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and two wars later, advocates fear too many young veterans share Binion's difficulty readjusting to life in America.
Hoping to end the pervasive problems faced by earlier generations of veterans in accessing services, the veterans support group Amvets opened a national symposium in Chicago to address issues facing young veterans. The goal is to present Congress with a new set of policy priorities after the November elections.
An online survey of 600 veterans unveiled by the group hinted at what those priorities would be. It found eight in 10 veterans felt more could be done to help troops leave the military and join the civilian workforce. Nearly four in 10 felt underemployed, and two-thirds had trouble accessing disability benefits in a veterans affairs system most agree is overwhelmed to the point that soldiers like Binion have fallen through the cracks.
''When you join the Army, they tell you that they got your back 'till the end,'' Binion said. ''From my experience, it's not been that way.''
Binion is still haunted by much of what he encountered on the battlefield, including the horrific sight of dismembered bodies, the unbearable stench of dead bodies cooking in the desert sun, and the image of one Iraqi soldier who died while clutching a photo of his family.
The trauma from the experience, Binion said, has led to night sweats, nightmares, depression, a fear of crowds, uncontrollable anger and other behavioral changes that are telltale signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. He is seeing two Veterans Affairs counselors for the symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, he said.
When he came home from Iraq two years ago, he found that his infant daughter no longer recognized him and would push away from him when he tried to hold her. When he went to sleep, he sometimes had nightmares in which he dreamed he was under attack. On several occasions, he unknowingly struck his wife while having these nightmares. Binion's marriage ultimately fell apart as a result of these behavioral changes.
Read it here.
Iraqis See the Little Things Fade Away in War’s Gloom
By SABRINA TAVERNISE
Published: October 29, 2006
BAGHDAD, Oct. 28 — The things the women missed were almost too small to notice at first.
Simple numbers and dates began to elude their memories. They were hugging their children less. Past pleasures, eating and listening to music, began to feel flat. They were shouting at their husbands like army commanders.
Small as they seemed, these scraps of life were the effects of the war as discussed by four Iraqi women on a cloudy Saturday afternoon in a women’s center in Baghdad.
Their stories began with a familiar theme: the shrinking lives of middle-class families in the capital. Social clubs have emptied out. Weddings have been sparsely attended. But as the circle has become smaller, and as they focus intensely on just staying alive, they said, even the basics are being stripped away.
“All the elements of society have been dismantled,” said Fawsia Abdul al-Attiya, a sociologist and a professor at Baghdad University. “You are afraid because you are a woman, a man, a Sunni, a Shiite, a Kurd. All these things start to change society.”
Read it here.
Saturday, October 28, 10:30AM
A few hours ago it was announced that President Fox had ordered the Federal Police (PFP) to enter the city and they are expected to arrive throughout the day. This follows yesterday's coordinated attack by undercover municipal police on the city's barricades which left 4 dead (among them Brad Will, a 36 year old American reporter with Indymedia) and as many as thirty five injured. The city is on edge, and my own understanding of what is happening is based mainly on Radio Universidad, the last surviving movement-controlled radio station.
As some of you may already know, the teachers union, Section 22, ratified a vote on Wednesday to return to work, subject to certain guarantees from the Secretary of the Interior in Mexico City. The vote itself produced a crisis within the union, and the final vote, 30 thousand to return to work against 20 thousand to stay out, appears to have fallen along geographic lines with Oaxaca city and the Valles Centrales strongly determined to stay out. Yesterday (Friday) the leadership of Section 22, including the now widely-discredited leader Enrique Rueda Pacheco sat down with the Interior Minister to finalize an agreement at the very moment that the coordinated attacks were underway here in the city. As teachers and movement supporters were facing roaming death squads, the negotiations in the capital took on a surreal appearance. For among the principal issues being discussed in Mexico City was the government's former offer of a general amnesty, and the movement's demand that all political prisoners arrested during this struggle be released, and arrest warrants dropped.
Listening to the radio yesterday was chilling as reports were called in from throughout the city and outlying areas -- in the town of Santa Maria Coyotepec (where the 'Govenor's Palace' is now located and the site of one of the largest occupations) we learned that up to twenty five people had been shot, by evening the wounded were gathered in the church and volunteer medics were trying to get to them; in Calicante just east of the historic center, Brad Will and two others were shot at another important barricade; in another part of town a woman was reported dragged from a barricade shouting and taken away in a car. At midday the radio itself came under attack and the student and teacher announcers called for emergency reinforcements of the surrounding barricades. Over and over we heard that people at the barricades were being shot at while they had only rocks and sticks to defend themselves.
This morning, with the news of the imminent arrival of the PFP, I spoke with a friend who is a member of Section 22. A young teacher, she had just returned from bringing food to the barricade in San Antonio de la Cal. It is one of perhaps a dozen barricades in the city that the APPO this morning has directed people to defend -- they have called on people to abandon the small barricades of which there are hundreds, and to concentrate forces around the critical ones outside government offices. She told me that though there were only a hundred or so people at the barricade, and though they are hungry and tired, they plan to do everything possible to defend the barricade today against the PFP. On the radio moments ago, the announcer said that they had been informed that the 'Caravans of Death' would be reactivated today at noon. Meanwhile, the Federal Police are on their way, and while the Minister of the Interior has insisted that they will enter the city peacefully, everyone here remembers what they did in Atenco in early May. What will happen today is still uncertain -- both in terms of what the PFP will do, but also, more importantly, what the hundreds of thousands of residents of the city will do.
Please help to spread the word, and alert others in the network of media to turn their attention to the struggle ongoing.
Because someone remarked that the last piece I posted from my Sister Deb Jehn's recital was 'amazing and beautiful,' here is another piece she recorded that day. I could not find the name of it, but it was composed by Louis Andriessen, a Dutch composer. I hope you enjoy it. Richard
Flute and Harp - Louis Andriessen
Note: It's a Windows Media Player audio file, about 4.2 mB.
This comes via Ed Alexander and Charlie Loving. It seems to have been sent from Oaxaca on Saturday, 28 October at 8 pm (but that is not entirely clear). I post it with spelling corrections, but otherwise as received. I question the possibility that 4,000 people could fit on "6 Boeing planes," unless those planes arrived several times each after returning to pick up more soldiers.
Federal troops arrived this morning ....6 Boeing planes with 4,000 federal police, marines (?), and army. They have been grouping all day in 3 areas, Brenamiel , Tule, and the airport. They are supposed to attack this afternoon. It is 5 pm and any time now the bloodbath will ensue. It is absurd this need for violence. It is everywhere all over the world and can so easily be solved, but power is an evil thing. There are old people, mothers, fathers, young people defending these barricades, just people like us. It is incredible. Will let you know more. It will be a late night. Laura
28 October 2006
American Journalist Slain in Mexico Shootout
By COLLEEN LONG, AP
NEW YORK (Oct. 28) - Undeterred by violence, journalist Bradley Roland Will felt compelled to document what he called human rights abuses around the globe, so he headed to the volatile city of Oaxaca in Mexico.
As the situation turned increasingly dangerous, Will decided to stay. Despite his fears, he wanted people to know what was happening in Oaxaca.
"I am entering a new territory here and don't know if I am ready," Will wrote Tuesday in an e-mail to an ex-girlfriend. "Life is crazy."
The 36-year-old videographer from New York was killed Friday in the Mexican city where protesters have barricaded streets and occupied government buildings for five months in a bid to oust the governor.
Santa Lucia del Camino Mayor Manuel Martinez Feria said five men had been turned over to state authorities for possible involvement in Will's killing. He identified them as two members of the local city hall, two municipal police officers and the former justice of the peace of a nearby town.
Read it here.
Special Report: US lackey Alvaro Uribe to spark destabilization in both Colombia and Venezuela
By Les Blough, Editor
Oct 27, 2006, 14:40
On Thursday October 19th a car bomb exploded in the heart of the Colombian military headquarters in Bogotá. The so called War Academy houses the Schools of the Infantry, Artillery and Intelligence; the Superior War School; the training center for the High Military Command; and the Installations of the XIII Brigade and 5th Army Division. The damage to the installations was extensive but no one was killed and 23 people were left injured.
This attack occurred while the Colombian government of Alvaro Uribe Vélez is negotiating with the National Liberation Army (ELN) in Havana in a search for a peace formula to end the 60 year old civil war. Negotiations were progressing with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) in an effort to bring about a humanitarian exchange of hostages held by the FARC for Colombian guerrillas held in government jails, as a first step of negotiating peace with the FARC.
In the context of these negotiations the bomb attack on the War Academy could not have come at a more surprising time. Two days later on Saturday October 21st, Uribe gave a speech accusing the FARC of planting the bomb citing proof of an intercepted e-mail allegedly sent from Bogotá to a high ranking FARC Commander, Mono Jojoy in the jungle, informing him of the success of the operation. On the basis of this proof, Uribe announced that he was breaking off negotiations with the FARC, ordered all the hostages held to be rescued in military operations and declared an all out war on the FARC.
The story becomes more intriguing. If you'd like to read the exciting end, click here.
This comes from a writer, new to us, discovered today. He is Manuel Valenzuela of Valenzuela's Veritas.
Collaborators of Catastrophe: Inside the Ministry of Truth
With the complete and utter failure of America’s experiment with hubristic imperialism outside its hemisphere, with the complete collapse in confidence by the people of the government and its leaders, with the fictional war on terror losing muster, with the American people questioning the Iraq debacle in growing numbers, the masters and lords comprising the Establishment have been forced to alter direction and appease the minds of the masses. Inside the Ministry of Truth the decision has been made, therefore, to open the curtains, if only minimally, to a small manifestation of truth and fact that has for three years been kept hidden from the people and that sheds light on the Iraq War and its horrific reality.
In the upper echelons of the Establishment’s pyramid and the corporatist power structure, there has arrived a realization that Iraq is and will remain lost, a miserable failure turning more putrid every day, forever becoming a gash that will not heal, a ghost whose lack of placidity will for decades haunt the psyche of America. The Bush Crusade, once seen by the elite as a harbinger of empire and hegemonic power, an excursion becoming the genesis of perpetual wealth and richness, has instead transmuted itself into the greatest strategic disaster in the history of the Pax Americana. In the span of three years, Iraq has surpassed Vietnam, in the totality of the circumstances, as a perpetual burn whose scab will continue to be pulled off by the shame of what America did to Iraq, by the embarrassment of such apparent failure, by the geopolitical suicide it committed in Mesopotamia and by the severed image of the nation in the eyes of the world.
What strategic defeats such as Vietnam and Iraq do is to plant doubt and uncertainty in the minds of Americans regarding the fictions taught and inculcated from cradle to grave. What wars that are not won and incompetent occupations accomplish is to irrigate the fields of slumbering minds with the enriching fluids of emancipation, if not throughout the population then certainly in the realities of tens of millions, enough for a movement to grow and a momentum to infiltrate into the collective conscious of the American people. Thus, the danger to the Establishment of the Iraq War disaster is that if it is allowed to fester and continue hemorrhaging, just as its momentum dictates that it will continue to do, the American mind may indeed sprout forth the reason and logic and cognitive thinking that has been appropriated for decades by the system, creating the necessary mind shock and thought tempest that might spring in the masses the enlightenment and renaissance that the elite are frightened to death of.
Read the entire essay here, well worth the time.
... W was dead a long time ago. I admired George Lakoff when I studied linguistics in the late 1970's. Apparently, I still do.
Staying the Course Right Over a Cliff
The Bush administration has finally been caught in its own language trap.
“That is not a stay-the-course policy,” Tony Snow, the White House press secretary, declared on Monday.
The first rule of using negatives is that negating a frame activates the frame. If you tell someone not to think of an elephant, he’ll think of an elephant. When Richard Nixon said, “I am not a crook” during Watergate, the nation thought of him as a crook.
“Listen, we’ve never been stay the course, George,” President Bush told George Stephanopoulos of ABC News a day earlier. Saying that just reminds us of all the times he said “stay the course.”
What the president is discovering is that it’s not so easy to rewrite linguistic history. The laws of language are hard to defy.
Read the rest of it here.
From Healing Iraq, with an excellent accompanying map of the current situation in Baghdad from an Iraqi perspective.
More 'Coup' Rumours in Baghdad
Baghdad is rife with the strangest rumours again chiefly as a result of the latest deployment of American troops around major Shi’ite districts in Baghdad, signaling a movement against Shi’ite militias. The rumours also seem to have penetrated the concrete barriers of the Green Zone where anxious Iraqi governmental officials are whispering about an impending American “coup,” and according to some well-connected Iraqis inside the Green Zone, several officials have made travel arrangements. This followed tensions over the last week between the U.S. and a defiant PM Maliki that were supposedly resolved yesterday with the joint Iraqi-American statement reaffirming U.S. support for the Iraqi government and the commitment of the Iraqi government to a timetable for disbanding militias. The heavy deployment of American troops along with elite Iraqi security forces that are not part of the Interior or the Defense ministries aggravated these fears.
Read all of it and more here.
One commentor put it, the point isn't the chair. it's a demonstration of a given technology. Imagine dropping boxes of parts out of a plane and then having those parts assemble themselves into a shelter, or a bridge, or a water well without the need for human assistance. Pretty brilliant if you ask me.
Note: SC = Saturday Cartoon
Kerry Richardson holds her twin sons, Kaydon, left, and Layton.
Infant Twins Have Different Skin Color
LONDON (Oct. 27)- A pair of British twin boys has been born with different skin color, a rare genetic occurrence according to experts.
In an interview with Britain's Sky News program, mother Kerry Richardson said that the boys were both born white but as they've gotten older one of the boys got darker and the other lighter.
Read it here.
This comes from our buddy at Crushed by Inertia.
"Back off"? This is how our elected officials explain themselves to us? "Back off"?
"Hey, Don, since none of your plans have worked out yet and things are getting worse by the day, shouldn't we at least begin thinking about when to leave Iraq?"
"BACK OFF, dude! Man, I am so tired of being questioned and bothered all the time just because my poor decision-making has directly led to thousands upon thousands of unnecessary deaths! Why don't all of you bitches raise up off my nutsack?"
I can't believe this guy still has his job. He must have photos of George Bush snowballing Karl Rove or something. He knows where the several dozen other guys Dick Cheney "accidentally" shot in the face are buried. He's promised to share the golden treasure with the rest of the Bush administration once he's unlocked the secrets of the Declaration of Independence map. There must be some rational explanation.
Read the entire post here.
Note: DoD = Down On Don. We're thinkin' it might be DoD YEAR.
Since we're in the mood to kick Don Rumsfeld's sorry ass across the living room and back, we give you DoD Day. The YouTube poster says, sponsored by Texaco and Ballantine Ale, Keith Olbermann posted the comedy musings of Donald Rumsfeld and the press. Oh those benchmarks! Uncle Miltie would be proud.
27 October 2006
France, the United States and Japan slip further Mauritania and Haiti gain much ground North Korea, Turkmenistan, Eritrea: The worst violators of press freedom
New countries have moved ahead of some Western democracies in the fifth annual Reporters Without Borders Worldwide Press Freedom Index, issued today, while the most repressive countries are still the same ones.
“Unfortunately nothing has changed in the countries that are the worst predators of press freedom,” the organisation said, “and journalists in North Korea, Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Cuba, Burma and China are still risking their life or imprisonment for trying to keep us informed. These situations are extremely serious and it is urgent that leaders of these countries accept criticism and stop routinely cracking down on the media so harshly.
"Each year new countries in less-developed parts of the world move up the Index to positions above some European countries or the United States. This is good news and shows once again that, even though very poor, countries can be very observant of freedom of expression. Meanwhile the steady erosion of press freedom in the United States, France and Japan is extremely alarming,” Reporters Without Borders said.
The United States (53rd) has fallen nine places since last year, after being in 17th position in the first year of the Index, in 2002. Relations between the media and the Bush administration sharply deteriorated after the president used the pretext of “national security” to regard as suspicious any journalist who questioned his “war on terrorism.” The zeal of federal courts which, unlike those in 33 US states, refuse to recognise the media’s right not to reveal its sources, even threatens journalists whose investigations have no connection at all with terrorism.
Freelance journalist and blogger Josh Wolf was imprisoned when he refused to hand over his video archives. Sudanese cameraman Sami al-Haj, who works for the pan-Arab broadcaster Al-Jazeera, has been held without trial since June 2002 at the US military base at Guantanamo, and Associated Press photographer Bilal Hussein has been held by US authorities in Iraq since April this year.
The full article is here.
... Before Something Constructive Will Finally Happen?
Iraqis Were Better Off Under Saddam, Says Former Weapons Inspector
COPENHAGEN, Denmark - Former UN chief weapons inspector Hans Blix on Wednesday described the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq as a "pure failure" that had left the country worse off than under the dictatorial rule of Saddam Hussein.
In unusually harsh comments to Danish newspaper Politiken, the diplomatic Swede said the U.S. government had ended up in a situation in which neither staying nor leaving Iraq were good options.
"Iraq is a pure failure," Blix was quoted as saying. "If the Americans pull out, there is a risk that they will leave a country in civil war. At the same time it doesn't seem that the United States can help to stabilize the situation by staying there."
War-related violence in Iraq has grown worse with dozens of civilians, government officials and police and security forces being killed every day. At least 83 American soldiers have been killed in October - the highest monthly toll this year.
Blix said the situation would have been better if the war had not taken place.
"Saddam would still have been sitting in office. OK, that is negative and it would not have been joyful for the Iraqi people. But what we have gotten is undoubtedly worse," he was quoted as saying.
Read it here.
I s'pose this guy must be talking about US. Hah, hah, hah ....
Rumsfeld: Terrorists use media to manipulate American people
by Army Sgt. Sara Wood
American Forces Press Service
10/26/2006 - WASHINGTON (AFPN) -- The "center of gravity" in the Iraq war is in America with the American people, not on the battlefield, and the media is a powerful tool that influences the people's will, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said Oct. 24.
"This is the first war that's been conducted in the 21st century with all the new media realities of 24-hour talk radio and Sony cams and digital cameras and news constantly on television," Secretary Rumsfeld. "But the American people have a pretty good center of gravity.
"They've got a good inner gyroscope," he said. "And it may be disorienting for a time; it may blow us off course somewhat, but we tend to re-center."
America's wars always have had critics, but the difference in this war is the prevalence of the media, Secretary Rumsfeld said. Terrorists recognize the influence the media has, so they use their own media committees to determine how best to manipulate the American public through the media, he said.
The terrorists plan their attacks to deliberately dishearten the American people and make them think the cause isn't right or that America makes terrorism worse, Secretary Rumsfeld said.
"I just don't happen to believe that America is what's wrong with the world. And I know that's a fact," he said. "And these terrorists have been determined to dishearten the American people, and we simply must not let that happen."
Read it here.
Complaints Mount at US Fortress in Iraq
by David Phinney
WASHINGTON - Several months before a U.S. construction foreman named John Owen would quit in disgust over what he said was blatant abuse of foreign laborers hired to build the sprawling new U.S. embassy in Baghdad, Rory Mayberry would witness similar events when he flew to Kuwait from his home in Myrtle Creek, Oregon.
The gravelly-voiced, easygoing U.S. Army veteran had previously worked in Iraq for Halliburton and the private security company, Danubia. Missing the action and the big paychecks U.S. contractors draw there, Mayberry snagged a 10,000-dollar a month job with MSDS consulting company.
MSDS is a two-person minority-owned consulting company that assists U.S. State Department managers in Washington with procurement programming. Never before had the firm offered medical services or worked in Iraq, but First Kuwaiti -- Owen's employer -- hired MSDS on the recommendation of Jim Golden, the State Department contract official overseeing the embassy project. Within days, an agreement worth hundreds of thousands of dollars for medical care was signed.
Read it here.
Selling Satan: Iraqi War Dead and the Collateral Damage to America's Soul
By Phil Rockstroh
10/25/06 Information Clearing House
All human beings have a talent for the denial of the more unpalatable aspects of ourselves, but we Americans have turned denial into a form of collective genius. There is no need to burn books, if the public is too ignorant to know they exist -- or too benumbed to resonate with their content.
Regarding the death of well over half-a-million Iraqis, the majority of the citizenry of The Corporatists States of America have experienced a comparable degree of regret and remorse that their oligarchic overlords experience when topping-off the tanks of their corporate jets with fuel purchased with money plundered from their employee's retirement accounts ... Sans conscience above -- sans conscience below.
Dante posited Limbo (that quiet suburban community ringing Hell) was a place reserved for those who evinced indifference to the world around them. It would seem our corporate/consumer version of Damnation (which now includes Casual Fridays in Hell itself) requires prescriptions for anti-depressants, urine tests, and Reality Television competitions to enter its inner most circles.
Read it here.
From the Iraqi Konfused Kid:
Four of my friends were killed by a huge double roadside bomb that exploded in Karada on Sunday June 11. That’s right, four, count them … that is, if you can identify their bodies. Forever gone — can you imagine that? Since you are all comfy in your air-conditioned rooms sitting on armchairs, sipping Pepsi or Kool-Aid or whatever it is that you care to sip while your sons and daughters go safely to colleges and your spouses sleep in bedrooms million miles away from here, I’d like to take the opportunity to offer what it feels like to be insane amidst the apocryphal hell of Iraq, both weather-wise and people-wise.
The last time I felt genuinely happy was ten days before the explosion, on Graduation Party day. When I look at the pictures now, they seem to be from a blurry and distant past. Many students from our class are packing up and leaving. I was a strong supporter of staying in Iraq before these events, because (a) call me stupid, but I loved my country, and living abroad sucked for a variety of reasons, and (b) unlike Zeyad, a rare case of someone who became a popular blogger and got accepted to journalism school in the U.S., I can only afford to work or study here in Iraq (in Amman, where my family resides, jobs are hard to find and school is expensive.) The truth is that even after the explosion, I was still undecided, but a story a friend told me the other day — a horrible, Hollywood-like experience that is too long to be told here — changed my mind permanently.
I am sorry, but nobody of sane mind can live here … We Iraqis have been so used to being kicked and dragged through the mud that we did not recognize the abyss in which we found ourselves. But there comes a time when you look around see your world for what it is and cannot take any more of it. I hate to be a whiner, but I tell you nothing but the absolute truth. Iraqis today are strange, sorry creatures — confused, constantly paranoid, and filled with distrust and hatred.
I wish I could tell you how can we fix this. Although the Americans had the upper hand, in my opinion, they no longer do — it’s been a lost in a sea of blood. When I return to our area these days from college, I come into a real-life “Vanilla Sky” ghost town — streets are vacant, some shops are open but their doors are near-shut and people with guns stand at the door. Shiite purging has finally reached us and it did not manifest in small ways: there is a dried pool of blood about 100 meters away from my house.
The only solution I can think of comes from an old Soundgarden song: Black Hole Sun, won’t you come and wash away the rain
Read all of it here. May I also recommend the YouTube tribute he did for them. I warn you, though, it's a tear-jerker.
A Mexican Fish Feast (8 February 2000)
This is a very fun and tasty meal, despite the work involved. It was great food, especially since I don’t mind kitchen work. This was written before I discovered that swordfish is a species on the edge of endangerment. There are Internet sites for learning about this issue. Here's one of them. Richard
A Slightly Pico Jicama, Bean and Fruit Salad
3/4 cup dried black beans
1/4 cup dried red beans
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground 4-colour peppercorns
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large chipotle
Put all ingredients into a pot large enough and cover with one inch plus a bit of bottled water. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours. Add more water during cooking, if required. Remove chipotle and drain beans.
1 papaya, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 mango, peeled, deseeded and diced
1 medium ripe tomato, diced
1 small jicama, peeled and diced
2 fresh jalapeño chiles, stemmed, deseeded and minced
1 poblano chile, stemmed, deseeded and diced
1 red bell pepper, stemmed, deseeded and diced
Fold beans into the above ingredients in a large bowl. In a small bowl whisk together the following ingredients:
3 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 tablespoon lime juice
1 tablespoon dry sherry
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
Drizzle the dressing onto the bean mixture and toss well. Refrigerate for a couple of hours to marry the flavours.
Tip: papaya seeds can be dried, ground, and used as a natural meat tenderizer / flavour enhancer. Papaya seeds have a peppery aroma and taste. Down with MSG!
Salsa for Swordfish
2 medium-sized ripe tomatoes
2 jalapeño chiles
1 (ripe, if possible) poblano chile
Roast all above ingredients in a 350° oven until softening. The poblano finishes first, followed by the tomatoes, the tomatillos, and the jalapeño chiles last. Watch them closely, as they should not be scorched. When each is done, remove seeds and stems from chiles and drop tomatoes and tomatillos straight into the blender. The chiles can go there, too.
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground 4 colour peppercorns
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
Add the above 4 ingredients to the blender, then purée the whole mess. This will create a liquid mixture. Gently sauté on medium-low heat until sizzling and reduced in quantity and liquidity (make it act as a salsa). Pour into a small bowl, cover, and set aside until everything else is complete.
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon dry sherry
1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
2 green onions, diced
5-ounce swordfish steak, at least 3/4-inch thick
Whisk above ingredients together, then marinade swordfish in the mixture for about 30 minutes. Place the filet on a racked baking dish and pour any remaining marinade over the fish. Bake the fish in a 400° oven for 10 to 12 minutes, until perfect.
Pan-Fried Sole Filets
2-3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
4-6 tablespoons corn meal
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-1/2 tablespoons pasilla molido
2 teaspoons cumin
Salt and pepper to taste
1 egg, lightly beaten
6-8 ounces fresh sole filets
Mix dry ingredients thoroughly. Cut fish into manageable pieces, then dip in egg followed by dredging in dry mixture. Fry in a hot pan containing about 1/4 cup olive oil. Drain in a warm oven on paper towel.
Serve this fish feast with 4 hot tortillas, two for each diner.
26 October 2006
Grass-Roots Group of Troops Petitions Congress for Pullout From Iraq
By Ann Scott Tyson
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, October 25, 2006
More than 100 U.S. service members have signed a rare appeal urging Congress to support the "prompt withdrawal" of all American troops and bases from Iraq, organizers said yesterday.
"Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home," reads the statement of a small grass-roots group of active-duty military personnel and reservists that says it aims to give U.S. military members a voice in Iraq war policy.
"As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of American military forces and bases from Iraq," it reads. The group, which aims to collect 2,000 signatures and deliver the "Appeal for Redress" to Congress in January, is sponsored by antiwar activists including Iraq Veterans Against the War, Veterans for Peace and Military Families Speak Out.
You can read it here.
Perhaps not quite as smart as he acts ....
"It's hard to conceive that it would take more forces to provide stability in post-Saddam Iraq than it would take to conduct the war itself and to secure the surrender of Saddam’s security forces and his army. Hard to imagine." –Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, testifying before the House Budget Committee prior to the Iraq war, Feb. 27, 2003
h/t to Today in Iraq
Bush Signs Bill for Fence on U.S.-Mexico Border
Barrier to Combat Illegal Immigration Will Stretch 700 Miles
By DEB RIECHMANN, AP
WASHINGTON (Oct. 26) -- President Bush signed a bill Thursday authorizing 700 miles of new fencing along the U.S.-Mexico border, hoping to give Republican candidates a pre-election platform for asserting they're tough on illegal immigration.
"Unfortunately the United States has not been in complete control of its borders for decades and therefore illegal immigration has been on the rise," Bush said at a signing ceremony.
"We have a responsibility to enforce our laws," he said. "We have a responsibility to secure our borders. We take this responsibility serious."
He called the fence bill "an important step in our nation's efforts to secure our borders."
Read it here.
Are we just cynical, or does this sound suspiciously like a pre-election ploy?
Schwarzenegger Complains to President
Governor Says Bush Lacks Leadership on Environment
LOS ANGELES (Oct. 25) - Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who recently signed a sweeping law to cut greenhouse gas emissions in California, complained in a letter to President Bush that there is no coherent federal policy to stop global warming.
The Republican governor wrote that the state's request for a federal waiver to set vehicle emissions standards has been "ignored with no explanation" despite an earlier letter from the governor to Bush, the Los Angeles Times reported Wednesday.
Read the article here.
Lifting the veil: Some troubling insight to White House decisions
Monday, October 23, 2006
What the Pittsburgh audience heard from Mr. [Ron] Suskind and Mr. [Paul] O'Neill about the high degree of politicization of decision-making in the administration was shocking to some extent. The two speakers are extremely well-informed about what happens at the top in Washington and have excellent contacts there. People who don't live and work in that environment could not know what factors rule when people like President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld determine whether the United States will go to war or not, putting on the line the lives of thousands of U.S. soldiers.
They said that when plans were being made within the administration to go to war with Iraq, no facts entered into the decision. With respect to the public, the previously sacred principle of "informed consent" was not honored by Mr. Bush and his subordinates. Instead, it was a question of carefully selecting what information would be put before the public to sell the point of view that the administration wanted to put forward -- that war with Iraq was necessary and never mind whether it had a basis in fact or not. Then-Secretary of State Colin Powell's speech to the United Nations Security Council in February 2003, an eventual humiliation to him, was a perfect case in point.
The rest is here.
25 October 2006
Many follow U.S. example on detainees
By Nick Wadhams, Associated Press Writer
October 23, 2006
UNITED NATIONS --Several governments around the world have tried to rebut criticism of how they handle detainees by claiming they are only following the U.S. example in the war on terror, the U.N. anti-torture chief said Monday.
Manfred Nowak, the U.N. special investigator on torture, said that when he criticizes governments for their questionable treatment of detainees, they respond by telling him that if the United States does something, it must be all right. He would not name any countries except for Jordan.
"The United States has been the pioneer, if you wish, of human rights and is a country that has a high reputation in the world," Nowak told a news conference. "Today, many other governments are kind of saying, 'But why are you criticizing us, we are not doing something different than what the United States is doing?'"
Nowak said that because of its prominence, the United States has a greater responsibility to uphold international standards for its prisoners so other nations do not use it as an excuse to justify their own behavior.
Read the rest here.
Fred has some more choice words about a topic we've discussed here. He's a curiousity if nothing else ...
Can Israel Last? Maybe.
October 24, 2006
I wonder what is going to happen to Israel. Its existence depends entirely on its only ally, the United States. American support depends on the Israeli Lobby. Independent of the Lobby, a lot of Americans support Israel for many reasons, yes: Varieties of Christians for reasons of religion, people who see the Moslem world as a national enemy, those who think that Israel should be left alone to live in peace, and those who don’t precisely support Israel but don’t want to see what would happen if it were overrun. Together, these are not a contemptible constituency.
But most of this is soft support. As long as the price of backing Israel is a few billions a year, the supply of weaponry, and vetoes in the United Nations, few will object. But the world is changing. America appears to be on the verge of becoming a greatly reduced power. Where will that leave Israel?
Even now, neither the Israeli nor the US military is convincingly dominant. The American forces are enormous but designed for wars they are not going to fight. Carrier task forces, armored divisions, and nuclear submarines would excel against the Imperial Japanese Navy or the Red Army in the Fulda Gap. They lose to ragtag guerrillas. The ragtag guerrillas have noticed this. America hasn’t won a war since 1945.
The Israeli military is similar, relying on aircraft and tanks. Israel cannot successfully invade Lebanon against the wishes of irregulars, nor the United States defeat a small force of insurgents. As long as Israel is supported by the US, no Arab power will have any hope of invading it, but Israel’s capacity to intimidate neighboring powers has diminished. Times have changed.
Which brings us to nuclear weapons. These, as long as Israel has them and her enemies do not, serve as a trump card. Should Syria attack and begin to win, it would simply disappear, and knows it. But if Moslem nations have the Bomb, then Israel risks nuclear retaliation if it uses its own. This (I suspect), not the danger of an unprovoked attack by Iran, is the importance of a Moslem Bomb. Perhaps Iran can be prevented from building nuclear weapons, but it hasn’t been yet.
Read the rest here.
Join us at www.videothevote.org -- Our goal is to protect the vote by being the eyes and ears where ballots are cast and counted on Election Day. We will document and report any irregularities that occur at polling places and boards of elections while they are happening, enabling the media and public to watch-dog the electoral process across our country.
Well, not exactly a leopard, nor even a leopard frog, but it caught your attention, eh? This little fellow was living comfortably under the bark of a fir log in our firewood pile. How he could stand all the mold is beyond me, but he didn't care to move even after I removed the roof of his house.
24 October 2006
US stakes claim on space
New policy just slightly territorial
By Lucy Sherriff
Published Thursday 19th October 2006 13:06 GMT
The US has claimed "dibs" on the Universe with its new space policy. The document, signed by President Bush, was released on a Friday, just before a long weekend in the States. This, in itself has caused a bit of a stir, but not more so than the tone and content of the document.
In it, the US government allocates itself rights to access and use space without anyone else getting in its way. It also sets security at the heart of the space agenda, frequently citing its right to use space as part of its national defence.
Significantly, however, it does not commit to restrict, or even to join talks about restricting the development of space-based weapons. This is despite a UN vote last year in which 160 nations voted in favour of such talks.
The first bullet point outlining the principles of the programme sets the tone for the rest of the document:
"The United States is committed to the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful purposes, and for the benefit of all humanity. Consistent with this principle, 'peaceful purposes' allow US defence and intelligence-related activities in pursuit of national interests."
In other words: "Everyone has to use space peacefully, except us. We can do what we like, cos we were here first(*). And anyway, if you try to stop us, it won't stay peaceful for long, which would spoil the first part of our principle."
The rest of the article is here.
I believe our quote of the day is in this piece (in bold below).
Occupation of Iraq: One Crime Too Many
By Mike Whitney
Al-Jazeerah, October 20, 2006
To Bush, it makes no difference whether the number is 600,000 or 6 hundred million; the cost in human terms is irrelevant. In America, the life of one microscopic stem-cell is of more value that the entire population of Iraq. That’s what happens when racism merges with apathy; the dead simply don’t count.
Compare Bush’s indifference to the Iraqi death-toll to his “pro-life” rhetoric at home. Consider how he cancelled his Crawford vacation to speed back to Washington to sign legislation to save the life of Terri Schiavo even though Schiavo was showing no mental-activity and 19 courts had already ruled in her husband’s favor to allow her to die peacefully. Later, an autopsy confirmed that her brain had calcified and shrunk to half its normal size.
Still, Schiavo’s political value was of greater importance to Bush than the 650,000 men, women and children he has slaughtered in Iraq.
There’s simply no way to measure this degree of cynicism.
Read it here.
To the World Can’t Wait Community:
National Emergency Teach-in, October 30, on War, Torture, Theocracy, and the Assault on Women’s Rights
IT’S WORSE THAN YOU THINK:
Where the Bush Regime is Taking the World and Why They Must Be Stopped
Neither the full magnitude nor the staggering implications of the Bush program are well understood. The administration systematically lies about its actions and agenda, while the major media and leading Democrats allow the Bush program to frame the overall discussion.
As a result, the most crucial issues are not discussed truthfully either in the public arena or in election campaigns. This is why "The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime", in conjunction with the Bush Crimes Commission and others, have organized this major event October 30.
Dr. Les Roberts . An author of the study in The Lancet that there are a projected 650,000 civilian deaths caused by the war on Iraq, far above the Bush regime’s casual numbers of 100,000. Roberts is an epidemiologist, now at Columbia University. He will speak on the Bush administration’s attacks on science, including their attempts to discredit data pointing to genocide.
William Goodman . Legal Director of the Center for Constitutional Rights, speaking on the incredible changes in law and civil liberties, particularly the implications of the new Military Commissions Act and the legitimization of torture.
Larry Everest has covered the Middle East for over ten years and is the author of Oil, Power, and Empire. He will speak on "what's happening in Iraq, how did we get here, and what should be done about it?"
Chris Hedges . Senior Fellow at The Nation Institute and a Lecturer in the Council of the Humanities at Princeton University spent nearly two decades as a foreign correspondent for the New York Times, winning a Pulitzer Prize. He will address the moves toward theocracy and its influence on the threatening moves toward a war on Iran.
Cristina Page . Vice President of the Institute for Reproductive Health Access at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and a prominent reproductive rights activist. Her recent book How The Pro-choice Movement Saved America describes the assault of the Christian right on both abortion and contraception.
Stay tuned for further plans from World Can’t Wait on the elections.
National Coordinator, The World Can’t Wait – Drive Out the Bush Regime
For more detail, see www.worldcantwait.org.
23 October 2006
And psychoanalysis probably provides as good an explanation of what's happened over the last 5 years as anything does ...
George Bush has never explained Iraq in terms which a logical person could understand. Iraq has been an emotional appeal from the first day going after Saddam was raised. It was never about any actual threat, but an emotional desire to prove we could dominiate anyone who opposed us.
For Bush, who has failed at every task ever put before him, from work, to the military to school, this was going to be his vindication. He so desperately wanted to be a hero and Iraq was going to solve all of his issues. He would defeat an enemy, prove himself worthy and gain the respect from his family he so desperately wanted.
Which is why he chose men his father kept at arms length. Bush never wanted advice, he wanted confirmation of his beliefs. His narrow world view, shaped by the dust dry plains of Midland as much as any movie, this idea that a man didn't need or want questions, he just did.
Which is how he approached the American people, not with facts, but an emotional appeal. He's out there, he's guilty, let's get him first. That was the goal, get them first, show them who is boss, Those who don't get that are weak, even if they are in uniform. We will show the world they better not fuck with us again. Iraq will be first, and the rest will bend to our will. We will show them what a superpower does.
Read all of it here.
Hubris, Bravado and Hypocrisy
The Evening of Empire
When the admirable Tiberius upon becoming emperor, received a message from the Senate in which the conscript fathers assured him that whatever legislation he wanted would be automatically passed by them, he sent back word that this was outrageous. "Suppose the emperor is ill or mad or incompetent?" He returned their message. They sent it again. His response: "How eager you are to be slaves."
-- Edward Gibbon, History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire
Amid the onrush of Caligulan sex scandals, suspension of the Constitution, depressing bulletins from the Babylonian front, and all manner of bogus "events," a recent news item has passed with remarkably little public stir, despite being featured above the fold on the front page of The Washington Post, a bulletin board as eagerly read by the capital city's strivers as Pravda in its day by the fellow-traveler, or Osservatore Romano by the untramontanist Catholic.
The article  informs us that the President has signed off on a "National Space Policy." The cornerstone of this new policy is the administration's intention to "oppose the development of new legal regimes or other restrictions that seek to prohibit or limit U.S. access to or use of space. Proposed arms control agreements or restrictions must not impair the rights of the United States to conduct research, development, testing and operations or other activities in space for U.S. national interest."
The document adds elsewhere that the new policy must "enable unhindered U.S. operations in and through space to defend our interest there." Note the unctuous use of the modifier "our"--as if the interests of parasitic contractors, government placemen, and neoconservative scribblers constituted the res publica.
If the English language means anything, the plain intent of the policy is to assert that the United States (or rather its governing clique) can do anything it likes, and treaties be damned, including the Outer Space Treaty currently in force. This conclusion would be consistent with the administration's treatment of other judicial impedimenta, such as the Geneva Convention or the late Constitution. Similar to the Senate's craven grant of plenary power to the Roman Emperor, a supine legislative branch has encouraged the administration to believe its own whim is law--to make war, to torture, to "unsign" treaties.
Yet the Post journalist, in the idiot-savant manner made famous by Bob Woodward, stenographically quotes a "senior government official who was not authorized to speak on the record" as saying "This policy is not about developing or deploying weapons in space. Period."
Ah, just as the Military Commissions Act was not about torture! How like the administration to assign one of its "senior" functionaries to pretend to speak without authorization in order to add verisimilitude to an assertion that it plainly wanted to disseminate--an assertion at odds with the plain text of its policy. And the Post's reporter fell for it like a yokel at the Barnum circus. Thus the rest of the article becomes a fraudulent "debate" between the administration's allegations and those of its critics; thereby lending weight to the presumption that there are legitimately "two sides" to any issue involving the administration.
While the Establishment press (other than the Post) gave little attention to the space policy story, the blogosphere (to the extent it paid any attention) behaved in a predictable fashion: the usual hand-wringing about the militarization of space, the unilateralism of the Bush administration, and forecasts of dark tidings generally. There is some truth to these assertions, but they are subsidiary to a more significant point.
The space policy document is not so much a blueprint as a symptom. But of what?--of fiendish Machiavells, plotting to storm the very heavens? Perhaps that is the intent of these laptop Flash Gordons, but between the desire and the fulfillment falls the shadow: the shadow of utter incompetence.
What is to be said about an administration which dreams of policing outer space, when for three and a half years its legions have been stalemated in their occupation of a broken-down country with a pre-war GDP less than that of Fairfax County, Virginia? The Iraq war has been such a riot of fecklessness as to take one's breath away.
Read the rest here.
Tarot by Kate 512-454-2293
“Dem Bones gonna rise again”
Tuesday, October 31, 2006, Samhain, Halloween. Tyr’s day. Lady Moon is in her second quarter, in Pisces. Second quarter moons are a time to put into action the plans made in first quarter moons, so this Halloween is an auspicious time for those of us who have plans ready to set in motion. Tyr is the Norse god of single combat and heroic glory. His rune is in the shape of an arrow pointing up (t)). Tyr’s strength and determination will likely be helpful in pursuing your goals. If you include a small toy arrow or a drawing of the rune on a piece of paper in your guest’s party favors, it will serve as a reminder that plans need action and focus to reach their proper conclusion, especially when mutable Pisces-energy is also a factor to be considered.
Decorate your home, your altar, and yourself in the colors black and orange. Silver is another color associated with this time of year, and makes a marvelous accessory-color. In honor of Lady Moon, you may twine some sparkly silver tinsel around your table and altar decorations and sprinkle some silver glitter in your hair. This is a time when the veils between the worlds are at their thinnest and when communication between the quick and the dead is facilitated. In Celtic mythology, Cerridwen is the Crone-goddess who stirs souls in her cauldron until they are ready to reincarnate, hence the cauldron is an appropriate accessory for both table and altar adornment. Cauldrons come in many sizes; you may use a larger one for a centerpiece and smaller ones filled with bits of apples and sweets as party favors for your guests. Small pumpkins can be carved with symbols of protective spirits to let candle-light shine through either outside as luminarias or on your table in place of more formal candle-sconces.
Apples, food for the dead, are a traditional focus of Samhain, but pumpkins and all root crops are also appropriate for this Third Harvest. There are many delicious ways to prepare pumpkin other than pie. Here is a recipe for candied pumpkin which you and your guests may find enjoyable, either to be eaten during your celebration or wrapped and added to the small cauldrons as take-home delights: Ingredients: 5-lb. pumpkin (approx.), 4 cinnamon sticks, zest of 1 orange, juice of 1 orange, 1¾ c. dark brown sugar and ¼ c. molasses, 4 c. water. Preparation: cut off the stem of the pumpkin. Cut pumpkin in half and scrape out seeds and stringy parts. Cut each piece in half lengthwise again and again until you have 8 - 10 long pieces of pumpkin. Cut the skin off each piece and then cut the flesh into 1” to 2” pieces. Put the brown sugar, molasses, orange juice, orange zest, cinnamon sticks, and water into a large saucepan/pot and bring to a boil. Carefully add pumpkin pieces and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for approximately 2 hours or until pumpkin is fork tender and the rest of the ingredients have reduced to a thick glaze. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature before serving.
This is a time to honor one’s ancestors as well as enjoy good food and fellowship. Take some time during your festivities to remember those who have passed over. Say their names and make a toast to their blessed memory. They will be with you in spirit.
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reminders: I will be participating in Celtic Fest on Saturday and Sunday, November 4 & 5, 2006 at Fiesta Gardens. The event runs from 10 AM to 9 PM both days. :Look for me under the blue tent, where I will be joined by Charlotte Craig.
November 11 & 12, 2006 is the last Metaphysical Fair of the year. Come and see all the readers and vendors at the Park Plaza Hotel, on Middle Fiskville Road between Highland Mall and Lincoln Village. Free lectures both days, $7.00 entry fee good for both days, 10 AM - 6 PM on Saturday, 11 AM - 6 PM on Sunday.
December 2 & 3, 2006 is Wheatsville’s Arts Fest, in the north parking lot of Wheatsville Food Coop, 3101 Guadalupe. The event goes from 10 AM to dusk both days. Look for me under either the green-and-white patio umbrella (if rain is likely) or the multi-colored beach umbrella (if not).
If you come to any of these events because you read about them in this Seasonal Message, please stop by my table and let me know. By monitoring the results of these messages I am better able to serve my clients.
We're goin' on a road trip, so maybe a picnic lunch would be good. This video looks to be an amateur effort, and I like that. It gets the message across very effectively, and I like that. And it's a nice tune, and I like that. Here's what the YouTube poster says: The music is recorded by the Burns Sisters on Ithaca Records. The song is written by Steve Van Zandt. Footage of Camp Casey, in Crawford Texas, August 27 to 29 2005. My first attempt to document what I see... miabreak
I Am A Patriot -
22 October 2006
After Pat’s Birthday
By Kevin Tillman
It is Pat’s birthday on November 6, and elections are the day after. It gets me thinking about a conversation I had with Pat before we joined the military. He spoke about the risks with signing the papers. How once we committed, we were at the mercy of the American leadership and the American people. How we could be thrown in a direction not of our volition. How fighting as a soldier would leave us without a voice ... until we got out.
Much has happened since we handed over our voice:
Somehow we were sent to invade a nation because it was a direct threat to the American people, or to the world, or harbored terrorists, or was involved in the September 11 attacks, or received weapons-grade uranium from Niger, or had mobile weapons labs, or WMD, or had a need to be liberated, or we needed to establish a democracy, or stop an insurgency, or stop a civil war we created that can’t be called a civil war even though it is. Something like that.
Somehow America has become a country that projects everything that it is not and condemns everything that it is.
Somehow our elected leaders were subverting international law and humanity by setting up secret prisons around the world, secretly kidnapping people, secretly holding them indefinitely, secretly not charging them with anything, secretly torturing them. Somehow that overt policy of torture became the fault of a few “bad apples” in the military.
Somehow back at home, support for the soldiers meant having a five-year-old kindergartner scribble a picture with crayons and send it overseas, or slapping stickers on cars, or lobbying Congress for an extra pad in a helmet. It’s interesting that a soldier on his third or fourth tour should care about a drawing from a five-year-old; or a faded sticker on a car as his friends die around him; or an extra pad in a helmet, as if it will protect him when an IED throws his vehicle 50 feet into the air as his body comes apart and his skin melts to the seat.
Somehow the more soldiers that die, the more legitimate the illegal invasion becomes.
Somehow American leadership, whose only credit is lying to its people and illegally invading a nation, has been allowed to steal the courage, virtue and honor of its soldiers on the ground.
You can read all of Kevin Tillman's article here.
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