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(DV) December 2005 Articles

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December 31

The Real Left Behind Story
The Reactionary American Left and the Law of Diminishing Returns
by Christy Rodgers

Halfway through the first decade of the 21st century, it’s a good time for acknowledging the truly revolutionary nature of events in the US since 2000, and maybe, as that revolution begins its inevitable unraveling, getting past the stage where we are still scratching our heads impotently and saying: “How did this happen?” Or worse yet: “How do we get ‘back’?” To move forward in a meaningful way, however, means looking at some painful truths about the American left, not just the by now well-analyzed rise of the right. Many factors have contributed to the decline of the American left since the heights of its influence in the 1960s, and to focus only on the extrinsic ones does not do justice to the problem. Nor will it help us reverse the situation....(full article)

Reorganizing Rumsfeld’s Inner Circle:
Devaluating the Military While Preparing for More War
by Gary Leupp

The Washington Times reports, “The three military service chiefs have been dropped in the Bush administration’s doomsday line of Pentagon succession, pushed beneath three civilian undersecretaries in Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld’s inner circle.” The gist of the article is that by a little-noticed holiday week executive order from President Bush, the power structure in the Pentagon has been reorganized to place Stephen Cambone, Eric Edelman and Kenneth Krieg between Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and the Army chief who used to hold the third spot. The Number 2 position belongs to the deputy secretary of defense, but this post is currently vacant while the Senate considers Bush’s nomination of Navy Secretary Gordon England for the post. The Number 3 spot will now go to Cambone, the undersecretary of defense for intelligence. Number 4 goes to Edelman, former Ambassador and undersecretary of defense for policy. Krieg, the undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, gets Number 5. The Army chief drops way down to Number 6. This looks to me nothing other than another neocon coup....(full article)

US Media and the Road to War With Iran:
Imbalance, Intimidation and No Spike Strips

by Arash Norouzi

As the U.S. mutates the rationale for its preemptive invasion of Iraq, the mainstream media continues to pander to xenophobic and partisan denominators vis-à-vis Iran. Despite massive government intelligence failures concerning the September 11th tragedy, the heartbreaking devastation of Hurricane Katrina, and the perversely flawed intelligence on non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, major media outlets persist in rushing to judgment on the manufactured Iranian nuclear "crisis". It is a sickening display. The lopsided reporting is nothing new. American media, in complicity with the U.S. government, has waged a no-holds barred image war with Iran ever since it broke diplomatic relations following the Islamic Revolution. It is safe to say that approximately 99% of the media coverage of Iran over the past 25+ years has been negative, and of that, about 99% is of a political nature. Therefore, although politics is but one facet of life, Iran -- its people, its culture, its history -- is perceived almost entirely through a political vacuum. In this way, Iranians remain an abstraction in the American consciousness, perfectly situated for slaughter should circumstances desire....(full article)

Go to the Light!
by Sheila Samples

After the New York Times reported last week that Bush authorized the National Security Agency (NSA) to cast a wide net to spy on American citizens’ e-mail and phone calls without seeking warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) court, Bush went on the offense, saying yeah, he did it, and he was gonna keep on doing it, cause he was the president and -- like he told Washington Post's Bob Woodward -- that means he doesn't have to explain to anybody why he does anything. That apparently includes the FISA court, which has the audacity to require “probable cause” before approving wiretaps on American citizens. In Bush's defense, when you're huntin’ and chasin’ and smokin’ out evil lurkers and plotters and planners, you don't have time to stop and fill out two or three million pieces of paper. Like Attorney General Alberto Gonzales says, the (insert Lord's name in vain) Constitution is a quaint little thing, but we live in a new world order now, and any constraints on "this president" are just too cumbersome....(full article)

The Sound of Silence: As in Dogs Not Barking
by Ian Williams

For a year every minute item about the Oil For Food Program has been bellowed breathlessly from the conservative media. And suddenly, there is silence. Last month Kojo Annan, son of Kofi, was awarded large damages against the Murdoch-owned London Sunday Times, which had to admit that its story connecting him to Oil For Food contracts had no substance. You did not see the story on Fox, MSNBC, or any of the usual cabal. In December, the US charged two colonels who had worked for the "Coalition Provisional Authority" with accepting bribes of $200,000 a month for steering contracts to companies that were seemingly just shells. They worked with someone whom the Coalition Provisional Authority hired as comptroller with a budget of $82 million -- despite a previous felony conviction for fraud. It did not make the headlines. Senator Norm Coleman and Congressman Henry Hyde did not call for the resignation of the chief executive of the organization involved, one George W. Bush....(full article)

2005: It Was a Very Bad Year
by Jeff Cox

We grieved for hurricane victims, raged over yet more scandals in Washington and impatiently watched as the war in Iraq dragged on for another dreary year. Gas prices soared, one Supreme Court justice died while another retired, and, oh, did we mention there were more scandals in Washington? The year 2005 certainly did not lack for important news stories. Some shook the world, others rattled the nation, while others simply tickled our collective fancy and made us gab around the dinner table and at the water cooler. But it was also a remarkable year for stories that just wouldn’t go away no matter how much we wanted them to. Is Michael Jackson even a celebrity anymore? Did anyone outside the Beltway know Scooter Libby’s name before he was indicted? How long can we allow Paris Hilton to be this generation’s Bert Convy, someone irritatingly famous just for being famous? Over the next week or so we’ll be inundated with Best of 2005 lists. As an alternative, then, here is a Worst of 2005 list, a grouping of five stories we can all wish will just go away in 2006....(full article)

Which Wolf Will You Feed in 2006?
by Mickey Z.

“Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists.” This statement (made by Dubya in late 2001) has been mocked by just about anyone to the left of Genghis Khan, but in 2005 I came to realize how often we all slip into that mentality... myself very much included....(full article)

Year in Review: Seven Highlights from 2005
by Derrick O'Keefe

Despite 2005 having been replete with natural disasters whose social and environmental ravages were exacerbated by capitalism -- that rarely spoken of dominant global system -- Seven Oaks has identified 7 acts of resistance to injustice to fuel your “optimism of the will” for 2006....(full article)

Einstein Against Racism
by Dan Raphael

Many people know of Albert Einstein’s sentiments for peace, but fewer know of his concern for racial equality. Even before his hurried escape from Nazified Germany, he had involved himself in the worldwide campaign to save the “Scottsboro boys,” as they were then known. His participation in this campaign to save from death these nine Black teenagers, accused in Alabama of committing rape, earned him his first-ever entry in what would become an extensive FBI list compiled by J. Edgar Hoover on the great scientist....(full article)

The 1914 Christmas Truce and the Possibility of Peace
by Stephen Soldz

A new French film, Joyeux Noël, brings the 1914 Christmas truce, that moment when a world of peace could be imagined, to a wider audience. An article on the truce and the film from the Telegraph has this nugget: "Some viewers might find a certain sentimental excess in the scene in which a Scottish bagpiper spontaneously joins in when German soldiers began singing Stille Nacht (Silent Night). There are records of such an event. 'All the acts of fraternisation had one thing in common: music and song,' says Carion. 'I loved the idea that these could stop a war for a few hours.'" Perhaps we should learn something from this experience about the importance of music to peace. After all, the '60s peace movements were infused with song, whereas today's movements are silent. Music and song can unite, they can inspire, but they also can soothe. Movements for peace need all three....
(full article)

December 29

A Strike Against Inequality
by Chaka A. K. Uzondu

When 33,000 workers go on strike anywhere in the U.S., we should stop and take notice.  The decline of strong unions that fight for their workers is but one reason why we are now the third most unequal industrialized nation in the world. When the striking workers are 70% Black, Latino, or Asian American, we have good reason to believe that their standing up for workers’ rights will be (in the long run) good for all who are struggling to make ends meet....(full article)

Operation Romeo: Lessons on Terror Laws from “Injun” Country
by Lila Rajiva

Americans inclined to swallow government propaganda that the Patriot Act is either effective in fighting foreign terrorism or unlikely to cause widespread domestic repression need to look hard at India’s experience with POTA and its copycats and consider whether they like what they see. As in America, the rhetoric that led to India’s terror laws was the rhetoric of the untamed frontier. The population was warned of rebels springing up from the soil like dragon’s teeth, of the state splintering on the reefs of secession, of civil war tearing apart the glittering fabric of the republic. In America, neo-conservative practitioners of this rhetoric are apparently quite prepared to find the untamed frontier whole oceans and continents away from the American border; in fact, anywhere they say it is. According to Robert Kaplan, the swathe of Islam stretching from Africa through the Middle East to South East Asia is all “Injun Country” wide open for America’s cowboys to tame and settle....(full article)

Iran and Syria Still in the Crosshairs
by Gary Leupp

Another year over, and we still haven’t seen the widely predicted U.S. (or U.S.-Israeli) attacks on Syria and Iran. But keep paying attention. The Turkish press reports that in a December trip to Turkey, CIA Director Porter Goss “asked Ankara to be ready for a possible US air operation against Iran and Syria.” Coming hot on the heels of FBI Director Robert Mueller, he brought with him a large delegation and three dossiers laying out the case against Iran. The first purportedly documents the existence of Iranian nuclear weapons, the second of Iranian ties to al-Qaeda and the Kurdish Workers’ Party (PKK), and the third depicts Iran as a mortal enemy of the secular Turkish state....(full article)

Strange Twists in the Padilla Case
by Mike Whitney

Can the president of the United States imprison an American citizen for three and a half years as an enemy combatant and then in a flash change his mind and charge him as a criminal? Isn’t that double jeopardy? And, doesn’t it imply that Bush has created a parallel justice system where he’s free to determine guilt or innocence according to his own discretion? Two weeks ago the Bush legal team completely reversed its position in the Jose Padilla, “dirty bomber” case, dropping its claim that Padilla be held as an enemy combatant and, instead, charging him with three counts of conspiracy to murder US nationals, conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and providing material support to terrorists in an 11-count indictment. The case was just days away from going to the Supreme Court when Attorney General Alberto Gonzales announced that it would abandon its nearly four-year struggle to establish the president’s “inherent right” to declare an American citizen an enemy combatant, thereby stripping him of all his constitutional rights. Why?
(full article)

Will the Real USA Please Stand Up?
by Daniel Vallin

It is amazing the power of mythology over logic -- mythology which people can accept and believe regardless of all facts and evidence to the contrary, mythology about who they are, where they live, what their history is. It seems to me that no industrial nation suffers more under the weight of its own myths than the United States. I remember as a child how in school each morning we would have to repeat a pledge to the American flag, and we heard again and again how great, wealthy, and democratic the United States is. These things were told as eternal truths, and never questioned, while we simultaneously learned about the scientific method and the importance of factual assessment and logical analysis. I would like to expose some of these myths in simple terms. It seems to me that the general consensus, at least from Americans themselves, is false. Most Americans I know are of the opinion that the United States is the greatest country in the world, the richest, the most democratic, a great force of good in the world. It is the world’s leading country in progressive thinking. It is a generous country that gives so much to poor countries. All of these statements are false....
(full article)

“The Face of Sacrifice”: Another Example of the
New York Times
’ Service to Imperial Power
by Paul Street

Here's a little new wrinkle in the story of the corporate-liberal New York Times' servility to imperial power. Last Monday's Times contained an outwardly progressive item: a two-page photo essay on civilian casualties (what the paper calls “The Face of Sacrifice”) in Iraq (“The Face and Voice of Civilian Sacrifice in Iraq: Photographs by Adam Nadel,” NYT, 26 December 2005, pp. A16-A17). “In Iraq,” the Times says, “nobody knows, and few in authority seemed concerned to count, just how many civilians have been killed and injured. Soon it will be three years since the American-led invasion. The estimates of those killed run into the tens of thousands, the numbers wounded two or three times the number who lost their lives. Even President Bush, estimating recently that 30,000 civilians may have been killed, acknowledged that was no more than an abstraction from unofficial calculation, not a Pentagon count.” Of course, people on the left have been talking about -- and trying to put a human face on -- Iraqi civilian casualties since even before the murderous and illegal occupation was launched. Maybe the Times’ willingness to see and show some of that that Iraqi civilian face is better late than never.... But there's a curious and revealing problem with the Times' photo essay....(full article)

Bolivia: A New Weave for ALBA
by toni solo

The decisive numbers of Evo Morales' election victory in South America's poorest country give him the legitimacy he needs to redistribute Bolivia's wealth in favor of the impoverished and excluded majority. But he faces enormous pressure from foreign corporations and international financial institutions to continue promoting superficial economic growth for the benefit of a small elite. Of all the progressive leaders elected in Latin America in recent years only Venezuela's Hugo Chavez has successfully managed that challenge, defeating savage resistance from the Venezuelan oligarchy and their US and European backers. The issues of poverty reduction and natural resources management dominate regional arguments about political and economic policy. Local elites parrot corporate propaganda promoting "free markets" and globalization. "Free markets" mean terms of trade dominated by powerful foreign corporations and financial institutions to the detriment of local people. Corporate globalization denies national governments the least vestige of sovereignty necessary to redistribute wealth. But Bolivia's election result confirms that a large majority of people in the region expects widespread benefits from exploitation of their countries' energy and other resources....(full article)

There is an Alternative: Bolivia, Venezuela,
and the Struggle Against Neoliberalism
by Derrick O'Keefe

The reign of TINA, There Is No Alternative, is beginning to come to an end. In Bolivia, Evo Morales has swept into the presidency after years of popular mobilization; the long-suffering indigenous and poor majority is demanding an alternative economic and social order. In Venezuela, seven years after Hugo Chavez first won power, the Bolivarian Revolution is demonstrating an alternative path, powered by a people awakened to political action and in the process of transforming their society....(full article)

Apollo, Robin Hood Deemed More Likely as Historical Figures
than Moses or Jesus

by Lee Salisbury

In the recent War on Christmas hullabaloo, the question was asked, “Is there nothing sacred anymore?” My answer: Yes, there is something sacred. Most sacred is our innate curiosity, our ability to reason, and a determination to know truth.  Any attempt to hinder human thought processes is great sacrilege. Last century, Lord Raglan, a student of mythology, studied all the myths and legends that influenced Western civilization in his 1936 book entitled The Hero. His basic premise is that the mythical hero’s life is a remnant of ancient ritual drama enacted at the coronation of priest-kings. According to Raglan, rituals involved specific acts performed for magical purposes.  Ritual dramas required participants play specific roles. A quasi-boilerplate plot always determined the character’s role. Eventually, myths of priest-kings outlived the ritual and became the many myths and folktales from which we derive many legendary heroes such as Hercules, or Moses, or Robin Hood....(full article)

December 28

Pataki & Bloomberg: How to Bust a Union
by Jack Random

The New York City transit strike is over and millions of residents and tourists in the five boroughs are relieved that they will no longer have to suffer what the governor and the mayor characterized as an act of blatant lawlessness. Soon the discussion will shift from who was right and wrong to which side lost and won. The great shame is that the debate that should have happened, the debate the people of this nation so desperately need to hear, never occurred. Every major media outlet gave only cursory coverage of the transit workers’ case. They uniformly preferred to give free reign to Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Governor George Pataki, buying prologue to epilogue their condemnation of the strikers as thuggish, law-breaking, ungrateful laborers turning their backs on the hard-working citizens of New York....
(full article)

Letter From A Military “Mom”
Domestic Spying and Incident of Intimidation of Military Families
by Robin Vaughan

I am sending this letter to you in hope of finding a source to hear my concerns. It is something that has bothered me since the occurrence, and I know it is not something that should have happened, and I worry for my family's safety as I step out to speak about this. During my son's deployment to Iraq, February 2004 - February 2005, I created a small group website on MSN, for families and friends of our soldiers’ deployed unit. It was a membership only site, and we were a tight group of mostly "Moms" from all over the United States just trying to make it through each day. The support and help we gave one another is a singular experience of grace I will never forget. During the first few months of our site, the Army decided to call every single family on the site, informing them that the site was not to be used by any of the families. The Department of Defense called families in the middle of the night to notify them to not use the web site. Most of the families were near tears, thinking they were getting "THE" call telling them their child or loved one had been killed or injured....(full letter)

The Mogul, the Movie and the Man on a Mission
by Bill Berkowitz

After more than two fabulous weeks at the box office, Philip Anschutz, the conservative Christian billionaire whose company co-produced the first major film adaptation of C.S. Lewis' popular children's book, The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, is sitting in the catbird seat. With so many Americans weary of both the long hard slog in Iraq and President Bush's scandal-plagued administration, some would have thought that Christian conservative leaders would have turned the premiere of The Chronicles into another culture war battle. However, with the Rupert Murdoch-owned Fox News Channel consumed with a phony battle with those out to "destroy" Christmas, little airtime has been given over to The Chronicles and its religious and political implications....(full article)

The WTO Hong Kong Ministerial: Much Ado About Nothing
by Devinder Sharma

We were made to believe that everyone cannot be fooled all the time. Ten years after the World Trade Organization (WTO) came into existence, and looking at the outcome of the sixth Ministerial Conference at Hong Kong, it is time to bury that adage under the heaps of trade drafts. For the sixth time in a row, the trade ministers of the developing world -- representing issue-based coalitions like G-20, G-33 and G-90 -- have been duped to believe that trade is for development. Despite making loud noises, threatening and fuming over the injustice done to the poor and developing countries, the trade ministers of the G-110 countries, comprising the entire developing world, finally bowed before the rich and mighty....(full article)

December 27

The Housing Market’s Last Gasp
by Mike Whitney

Five months ago I wrote an article, “Doomsday: the Final Months of the Housing Bubble,” that predicted a dramatic fall in housing prices that would have a catastrophic effect on the American economy. In truth, I’m a lousy forecaster and simply collected the relevant data from a number of sources that convinced me that the end was quickly approaching. Now, it seems that dismal day is upon us and the Grim Reaper has begun churning out the disappointing statistics that we’ve dreaded from the very beginning....
(full article)

IMF Approves Loan for Iraq -- Let the Oil Drilling Begin
by Joshua Frank

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) approved a $685 million loan for Iraq on December 24. Now the country’s war torn economy will be fully integrated into the global economy -- indefinitely. The reconstruction of Iraq will soon be open to even more industrialized nations and interests. Iraq will not be sovereign or independent in the near future, even if President Bush says so. The country’s financial future will instead be dictated by a new colossal economic occupation, complete with ground forces, tanks, foreign military bases and the like -- all thanks to the United States, Britain and the IMF....(full article)

May a Flock of Thrushes Disrupt Your Hologram This Yuletide Season
by Jason Miller

Aside from the obvious personal challenges arising from the manifestations of my bipolar disorder, it has become quite apparent to me that my spiritual crisis (and subsequent epiphany) was also rooted in the collective cry of a metaphorical flock of thrushes which flew into my subconscious and decimated the hologram of the Simulacrum Republic (click on this link for a "must read" article by Joe Bageant which explains the metaphor of the thrushes and the hologram). As is often the case in the human psyche, my unconscious mind was several steps ahead of my conscious mind as my inner being vigorously rejected the American Nightmare of violence, militarism, instant gratification, over-consumption, bigotry, insularity from other cultures, short-sightedness, xenophobia, hubris, and avarice force fed to us as the highly palatable "American Dream" by our government, text-book manufacturers, corporate-controlled media, Madison Avenue, and corporate America. In short, I take responsibility for my choices and their consequences, but understand that I made them in the context of having a disorder with which I had few tools to cope effectively, and that my self-destructive, irresponsible acts were in part an unconscious rebellion against the perverse psychological and economic oppression of America's corporatocracy. I am not letting myself off the hook for what harm I caused, but I understand my motivations, have made amends, and have forgiven myself....(full article)

NSA Spied on UN Diplomats in Push for Invasion of Iraq
by Norman Solomon

Despite all the news accounts and punditry since the New York Times published its Dec. 16 bombshell about the National Security Agency’s domestic spying, the media coverage has made virtually no mention of the fact that the Bush administration used the NSA to spy on U.N. diplomats in New York before the invasion of Iraq. That spying had nothing to do with protecting the United States from a terrorist attack. The entire purpose of the NSA surveillance was to help the White House gain leverage, by whatever means possible, for a resolution in the U.N. Security Council to green light an invasion. When that surveillance was exposed nearly three years ago, the mainstream U.S. media winked at Bush’s illegal use of the NSA for his Iraq invasion agenda....(full article)

December 25

Celebrating the True Meaning of December 25
Happy Birthday Mithras!

by Gary Leupp

The New Testament provides no specific date for the birth of Jesus. If it occurred as the Gospel of Luke tells us, as shepherds were watching over their fields by night, it probably wouldn’t have taken place in December. Too cold. So why do most Christians observe December 25 as Jesus’ birthday? The most plausible answer is that in ancient Rome, as Christianity was emerging as a new faith, its calendar was influenced by other up-and-coming belief systems bunched together by adherents of traditional Roman religion as “mystery religions.” One of these was the worship of Mithras, an Indo-Aryan deity (the Mitra of Vedic religion, the Mithra of the Persian Avesta) associated with the heavens and light. His cult entered the Roman Empire in the first century BCE and during the formative decades of the Christian movement was a formidable rival to the latter, with temples from Syria to Britain. Given his solar associations, it made sense to believe that he had been born on the darkest day of the year, the winter solstice. That falls this year on December 21 but the Romans celebrated the birth feast of Mithras on December 25, ordered to do so by Emperor Aurelian in 274 CE. Christian texts from 325 note that the birthday of Jesus had come to be observed on that same day, and the Roman Catholic Church has in modern times acknowledged that the December 25 Christmas quite likely derived from Mithraic practice.....(full article)

Desperately Seeking Victory in a War Already Lost
by Kim Petersen

Where is the victory in Afghanistan? The Taliban have been driven from power and Osama bin Laden and his warriors are in hiding. But Afghanistan remains in turmoil. Has the major US objective been met? The major objective in Afghanistan was to draw Afghanistan into the US orbit for geostrategic military and commercial purposes; among the latter is the laying of pipelines through Afghanistan to the Arabian Gulf. There is no way that under the present circumstances pipelines will be laid down anytime soon. The main objective in Iraq is controlling the abundant oil reserves. This has obviously not been attained.  So the US has progressed from Korea Syndrome to Vietnam Syndrome to the current Iraq Syndrome....(full article)

The War on Christmas II
by Lee Salisbury

There was a 14-year time span in my life when I was a fervent bible-believing preacher. Saying “Merry Christmas” would have been my only greeting because Christmas was Jesus’ birthday. It never occurred to me to respect people of other faiths or no faith. . . . Today, I am often asked, “How did you escape from fundamentalism?” That question really reveals the fear mentality inherent within fundamentalism that enslaves its adherents. In retrospect, I do wonder what could be more debilitating than a mindset that claims to know the absolute truth about things for which there is virtually no verifiable evidence, no unbiased credible historical confirmation, and is so contrary to the natural order of everyday life....
(full article)

-- Poetry --
The War on Christmas

by Remi Kanazi

Merry Christmas and a happy new year
I got coal in my sack and a half-shaven beard
I'm going down my list
And I have a few bones to pick
With some of the bad kids running today's politics....(full poem)

Begging for the Brownshirts 
The Latest David Project: Horowitz Solicits for Campus Hit Jobs 
by Lila Rajiva

David Horowitz frequently, I should say incessantly, corresponds with me. Why, I don’t know. I am quite sure he doesn’t either. But someone on his payroll sends missives out to me regularly, informing me of one or other of Mr. Horowitz’s perennial campaigns against anti-Americans and terrorist sympathizers. This time he seems to be raising money for a website to monitor and attack what he calls “campus radicals.” I offer readers the letter with my annotations, in brackets [], interspersed....(full letter)

No Holiday Compassion From Bush for Haitian
Political Prisoner Gerard Jean-Juste

by Ben Terrall

On December 16, Congresswoman Maxine Waters and 41 other members of the U.S. House of Representatives wrote President Bush calling for the release of Haitian political prisoner Fr. Gerard Jean-Juste. The nonviolent activist priest, who has been held on trumped-up charges by the current coup regime for five months, is in urgent need of medical care unavailable to Haitian prisoners. Five days later, Jean-Juste's two sisters sent an open letter to Bush and "interim" Haitian Prime Minister of Haiti Gerard Latortue calling for his release on medical grounds. Jean-Juste's sisters wrote, "We believe that as good and righteous Christians during this holiday season you will open your hearts and minds to ask for and demand his release so that he will not die in prison."....(full article)

The Citizens' Metamorphosis: The Transition to Direct Action 
by Ingmar Lee

In Bush's Kafkaesque oil-fuelled fantasy, his dictator's role in the murderous on-going slaughter in Iraq is a god sent mission to "spread peace, freedom and democracy in the world." But his twisted totalitarian tyranny requires unfettered access to oil, and he'll go to ungodly lengths to get it. Bush dictates that his Gestapo-type NSA operatives must have free license to conduct unwarranted eavesdropping and infiltrations into such domestic terrorist organizations as the Raging Grannies, the Catholic Workers Group, Code Pink, the Vegan Community Project, Greenpeace, PETA, readers of The Little Red Book and The Monkeywrench Gang, and myriad other environmental, peace and human rights groups and individual activists. Although John Lewis, an FBI deputy assistant director and top official in charge of domestic terrorism says "the No. 1 domestic terrorism threat is the eco-terrorism, animal-rights movement," apparently all citizen action efforts are now under police-state scrutiny. In a statement before the Senate Judiciary Committee in May 2004, Lewis noted the "upswing in violent rhetoric and tactics" among eco-terrorists and said that in recent years the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) and Earth Liberation Front (ELF) "have become the most active criminal extremist elements in the United States."....
(full article)

Why I Protest
by Philip A Farruggio

It was a cold and very windy afternoon, exceptional even for December 20th in Central Florida. Three of us arrived at exactly 4 pm, the starting time of our weekly anti war demonstration. Our fourth member, Frances, stayed in her car to "sit this one out." In reality, with her condition, she should have been at home, sipping a nice warm cup of tea and sympathy. Usually, we would have eight or ten stalwarts standing with us by now. I guess the bitter cold (for our Sunshine state) summoned many away this day. I suddenly began to think, to ponder how it might have been that winter day in New York City, almost 70 years ago....(full article)

Torture, Executions and Domestic Spying: A Catechism
by Gary Steven Corseri

Why Do We Need Torture? The State does not torture alleged terrorists in order to extract information to avert terrorist attacks. Saddam Hussein did not torture alleged terrorists in order to avert terrorist attacks. (If he could make the barest case for having done so, could we possibly excuse his actions?) The State, under Saddam Hussein, George W. Bush, Josef Stalin, et al, tortures its victims in order to assert the authority of the State. It is not true that the State wishes to cover-up its activities as Torturer-in-Chief. The State wants its citizens to know how far it is willing to go to assert its authority. It wants its citizens to live in fear and to cower in darkness.  It wants a complaisant media and those in the “knowledge professions” -- including artists, academicians and preachers -- to understand how far it will go to suppress dissent about its policies. The State embraces the dictum of Machiavelli -- it is better that the Prince be feared than loved. The State does not oppose terror; it opposes the franchising of terror by any instrumentality other than the State. The State’s use of torture is inextricable from State terrorism -- and it is inevitably directed against its own citizens as much as “aliens”....(full article)

Christmas Spirit and Governor Scrooge
by Ian Williams

Of course, in that other outstanding example of Christmas spirit Governor George Pataki did come across unions. He essentially engineered a Transit strike in the week before Christmas so that he could come across as a tough guy for the impending Republican presidential primaries. I think it was Pataki I heard on the radio eulogizing the sacrifice of troops fighting for freedom in Iraq, while the Transport Workers, by implication, were backing the insurgents by demanding the same pension rights for new workers as existing staff. I gather that the freedom to strike was not one of the freedoms for which the troops are fighting. Indeed, the International Labor Organization has in the past considered the laws in American states like New York banning strikes by public workers as in violation of the conventions against forced labor....(full article)

Dishonest Brokers
by Remi Kanazi

The European Union (EU) should be ashamed of itself. It has thrown aside the principals of democracy for partisan politics and hypocrisy. In the run up to the Palestinian parliamentary elections, the EU has addressed Palestinian politics and made threats in the process. On December 19, the EU’s foreign policy chief Javier Solana stated, “All the political parties have the right to be part of the elections, but there is a certain code of conduct that has to be accepted by everybody.” He continued, “It's very difficult that parties who do not condemn violence ... can be partners for the future.” Solana later warned that if the Palestinian Authority (PA) let Hamas run in the parliamentary elections, the EU could cut tens of millions of dollars of funding to the PA. Why should this call be limited to Hamas? It is quite clear that the EU should lambaste the Israeli government’s repeated use of violence against an occupied population. Is the EU planning on slapping sanctions on Israel for its constant aerial assaults on the West Bank and Gaza Strip? Are they going to take severe action against the continued expropriation of Palestinian land and resources? The EU, in its mission to prevent violence and find “partners for the future,” should at least take issue with the policy of extrajudicial assassinations, the bulldozing of homes, the expansion of settlements, and the multitude of restrictions that bring the Palestinian society one step closer to the third intifada....(full article)

December 22

The Simulacrum Republic:
The Hologram Ripples with the Cry of a Thrush

by Joe Bageant

Americans, rich or poor, now live in a culture entirely perceived through simulacra-media images and illusions. We live inside a self-referential media hologram of a nation that has not existed for quite some time now, especially in America's heartland. Our national reality is held together by a pale, carbon imprint of the original. The well-off, with their upscale consumer aesthetic, live inside gated Disneyesque communities with gleaming uninhabited front porches representing some bucolic notion of the Great American home and family. The working class, true to its sports culture aesthetic, is a spectator to politics ... politics which are so entirely imagistic as to be holograms of a process, not a process. Social realism is a television commercial for America, a simulacrum republic of eagles, church spires, brave young soldiers and heroic firefighters and “freedom of choice” within the hologram. America's citizens have been reduced to Balkanized consumer units by the corporate state's culture producing machinery....(full article)

-- Poetry --
The Driver

by Vi Ransel

Do you really believe your answers
to multiple choice questions
play any part in who you are,
that your identity,
your individuality,
comes from choosing
what's already been chosen
for you to choose by those
chosen to get you to choose
to use what their masters produce? ....(full poem)

A Syrian Chalabi? An Ominous Neocon Gathering
by Gary Leupp

On his November trip to the U.S., Ahmad Chalabi, Iraqi deputy prime minister in the “interim government” arising from the invasion he helped plan, visited Richard Perle in the latter’s suburban Washington home. There the two -- who go way back, friends since 1985 -- were joined by a Syrian gentleman named Farid Ghadry. It was a triumphal homecoming for Washington insider Chalabi, who seemed to have fallen from grace last year when he was accused of passing U.S. secrets to Iran, had his Baghdad office ransacked by U.S. troops, and lost U.S. funding for his Iraqi National Congress. The INC had funneled “intelligence” to the neocon-dominated Bush administration, helping it build the bogus case for war, with stories disseminated through the establishment press to mislead the credulous and frightened American public. His credibility evaporated when U.S. forces found no WMD in Iraq, something he brushed off as easily as Wolfowitz had earlier. “As far as we’re concerned,” Chalabi told the Perle-connected Telegraph in March 2004, “we’ve been entirely successful. That tyrant Saddam is gone and the Americans are in Baghdad. What was said before is not important. The Bush administration is looking for a scapegoat. We’re ready to fall on our swords if he wants. The Telegraph reported that Chalabi dismissed accusations that he deliberately misled the administration. We are heroes in error.”....(full article)

A New Phase of Bright Spinning Lies About Iraq
by Norman Solomon

Three days before Christmas, the Bush administration launched a new salvo of bright spinning lies about the Iraq war. “In an interview with reporters traveling with him on an Air Force cargo plane to Baghdad,” the Associated Press reported Thursday morning, Donald Rumsfeld “hinted that a preliminary decision had been made to go below the 138,000 baseline” of U.S. troops in Iraq. Throughout 2006, until Election Day in early November, this kind of story will be a frequent media refrain as the Bush regime does whatever it can to prevent a loss of Republican majorities in the House and Senate. By continuing to fortify large military bases in Iraq -- and by continuing to escalate an air war there courtesy of U.S. taxpayers but largely outside the U.S. media frame -- the White House is determined to exploit every weakness and contradiction of antiwar sentiment inside the United States...(full article)

Is Prejudice a Mental Illness?
by Stephen Soldz

Bigotry and extreme prejudice are repugnant to many, including the victims and those engaged in furthering progressive social values. Various attempts have been made to encompass that reaction in social mores and attitudes. A new approach among certain mental health professionals to get extreme prejudice to be declared a diagnosable mental illness included in the official list of diagnoses superficially bears promise in objectivizing that repugnance. A recent article in the Washington Post, “Psychiatry Ponders Whether Extreme Bias Can Be an Illness,” discusses this attempt to create a new diagnosis for extreme racism and other forms of extreme prejudice. It presents the argument of some that extreme prejudice is so compulsive and damaging to the prejudiced person that it should be viewed as a mental illness deserving its own diagnosis. While radicals and progressives may be tempted to jump on this bandwagon as a weapon in their battle to have racism and prejudice recognized for the personal and social harm they cause, this effort is unjustifiable intellectually and is politically likely to backfire....(full article)

Countermeasures for US Citizens:
Monitoring the US Government-Corporate Leviathan
by John Stanton

Is anyone really surprised that the USA now openly advocates torture, spying on its own citizens, or equates dissent with aiding and abetting the “brutal killers” as Bush describes them. Ummm, should US homegrown serial killers be designated enemy combatants? Who could argue with a clear conscience that the US didn't have 911 coming. Civilians are innocent, the American fundamentalists say. Oh me, oh my, the victimized USA and so much innocence lost on that day. That sentimental dream went out the window long ago with the Allied bombing of Dresden in WWII and the firebombing and subsequent use of nuclear weapons against Japan. Add Rwanda and Darfur to that and, right at home, add decades of US government's approved racial segregation, plus the US government's response to Katrina and, for that matter, 911. Useless commissions, staged congressional hearings, a senseless sense of congress, a presidential press conference. All by formula, of course. What's the point? Nothing changes. The USA is no victim or innocent bystander in the world's machinations. Each and every US citizen is responsible for the actions of its leaders -- such as they are. If the American people want a militarized state, then so be it. Have some brass and go for it. If they want to torture, then they should have the guts to stick a knife in the throat of a living human being and watch 'em gurgle and die. The NO TORTURE amendment of John McCain is a joke. The US government is a government by and for loopholes. It'll go on as long as the USA exists....
(full article)

-- Poetry --
Prez Says Constitution Ain't Worth a Damn
by Gary Steven Corseri

“It’s just a piece of paper,”
Says the Big Wickie, the Ninny, the Hoot,
About, you know, The Constitution,
The Bill of Rights, the Preamble, “We the People” --
All that Jazz....(full poem)

The Would-Be Dictator: How We Got to This Awful Place
by Bernard Weiner

It's clear that Bush violated the law by ordering the National Security Agency to engage in warrantless domestic spying on U.S. citizens. So, once again, I have a question for those who, perhaps somewhat reluctantly, voted for George Bush: NOW do you get it? (full article)

A Great Opportunity To Put America Back on Track
by Madis Senner

Activists can further expose and draw attention to the Bush administration’s illegal spying by filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request and holding a press conference to announce this. This article explains the mechanics of filing a FOIA, on holding press conference and why you should do this....(full article)

Bolivia’s Election Stunner
by Jim Schultz 

A few weeks ago he was just a guy hanging out in the green yard behind my office, wearing jeans and sneakers (as he most always does), drinking chicha and shooting the breeze with friends.  My three-year-old daughter Mariana asked him to dance. He laughed and squeezed her cheeks. Then on Sunday, by a whopping and historic margin, Evo Morales was elected President of Bolivia. Morales won with a 52.8% majority, the first modern Bolivian president to ever do so, or even come close. Headline writers in the foreign press have had a field day trying to pin a label on Morales’ surprise victory. The New York Times announced the victory of a “coca farmer”. The Chicago Sun-Times abbreviated Morales as a “leftist”.  CNN picked up a campaign rally declaration in which Morales called himself, the US government’s “nightmare”. But what does the election of Morales to the presidency here really mean? (full article)

Taking the Antiwar Oath
by Joshua Frank

Every so often a sliver of truth trembles off the lips of one of our elected officials. It doesn’t happen all that often, but when it does occur it needs to be underscored and highlighted. Representative Nancy Pelosi gave the antiwar movement an honest reality check last week when she laid out quite plainly the Democrats' position -- er, non-position -- on the Iraq war. As she told the Washington Post, "There is no one Democratic voice ... and there is no one Democratic position." In other words, the Democrats will not take a stand on the war and they won’t draw up a unified exit strategy anytime soon. And perhaps worst of all, they won’t be making the war a major focal point in the upcoming 2006 congressional elections. They’ll just continue to argue amongst themselves while more civilians and soldiers perish in Iraq....(full article)

Dan Olmsted: Autism's Dick Tracy
by Evelyn J. Pringle

According to officials in the nation's regulatory agencies, the main obstacle to proving or disproving a link between the autism epidemic and the mercury-based preservative thimerosal that was contained in childhood vaccines until a few years ago, and is still in flu vaccines, has been the inability to find a large enough group of people who have never been vaccinated to compare with people who have. . . . However, Dan Olmsted, investigative reporter for United Press International, and author of the “Age of Autism” series of reports, appears to have solved this problem when he came up with the idea of checking out the nation's Amish population where parents do not ordinarily vaccinate children....(full article)

December 20

Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2005
by Norman Solomon

More than a dozen years ago, I joined with Jeff Cohen (founder of the media watch group FAIR) to establish the P.U.-litzer Prizes. Ever since then, the annual awards have given recognition to the stinkiest media performances of the year. It is regrettable that only a few journalists can win a P.U.-litzer. In 2005, a large volume of strong competitors made the selection process very difficult. And now, the fourteenth annual P.U.-litzer Prizes, for the foulest media performances of 2005....(drum roll and full article)

High Expectations and Comfortable Prisons
by Elisa Salasin

The image to the left shows California Youth Authority students in their classroom. The students are the ones inside the cages, and they are being taught to read.  A friend drew my attention to this photo after I shared a story about a similar kind of prison, about kids learning to read in cages, albeit ones where the bars, while not visible, are nonetheless solidly constructed....(full article)

“Why Are You Reading the Little Red Book?” 
Feds Question Student, Frighten Faculty at UM-Dartmouth 
by Gary Leupp

Just when you think it can’t get crazier, it gets crazier. Aaron Nicodemus, a journalist with the southern Massachusetts newspaper The Standard-Times, reports that in October of this year a senior at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth was visited by federal agents and questioned about a book he had ordered through inter-library loan. Apparently U Mass librarians are cooperating with the USA-PATRIOT Act. You know, the one that’s all about Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism. The book was for a research paper he was doing for a course on fascism and totalitarianism taught by Professor Robert Pontbriand, a specialist in European intellectual and cultural history. The agents visited the student after he ordered a book that is, they informed him, on a “watch list.”....(full article

Not So Fast Christian Soldiers: Media is Busy Selling Idea That We are a Christian Nation, but the Numbers Tell a Different Story
by Mollie Bradley-Martin

So I caught a few minutes of Fox News a couple of weekends ago and one of their pretty, young, blonde anchors was doing the obligatory “liberals are trying to kill Christmas” stories and this bright, young woman informed her viewers that more than 90% of the country is Christian. Hearing that certainly put the whole debate into its proper perspective. With almost the entire population of our country made up of Christians, it really doesn’t seem fair that a small minority of us secularists are trying to restrict God from our public sphere and government entities. I guess we should all just suck it up and deal. It seems we should be okay with our children being taught intelligent design in school, taking an oath to God as well as our country and embrace the Ten Commandments as the replacement for the Constitution in the dispensing of justice in our courts. Except for the fact that Fox News lies....(full article)

The Fog of G.W.O.T
by William Fisher

Recent polling on the views of the American people about the ‘Global War on Terror’ continues to suggest increasing ambivalence, confusion and lack of reliable information. And other events over the past few days, topped by the revelation that President George W. Bush ordered secret warrantless wiretaps of phone calls and e-mails of American citizens, are unlikely to reverse this trend....(full article)

Justice DeLayed
by Walter Brasch

Although President George W. Bush is determined to keep and strengthen even the most odious parts of the USA PATRIOT Act and to use extralegal methods to extract information about citizens, he does have a soft spot for one American. The day before the Senate blocked one attempt to extend the PATRIOT Act and the New York Times revealed that the National Security Agency was spying upon Americans, and doing so without obtaining constitutionally-required court warrants, the President declared that Rep. Tom DeLay (R-Texas), former House majority leader, indicted by a Texas grand jury on two felony counts, is innocent. Not “innocent” as in, “all persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty,” but outright “innocent.” Period....(full article)

United for Peace and Justice Has become Part of the Problem:
Opportunist, Favors Democrats While Rejecting Anti-Imperialism
by David Silver

Even prior to the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq, United for Peace and Justice (UFPJ) was telling us that connecting any other issues, and in particular the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, would “dilute the anti-war message” of stopping the war and ending the Occupation. I witnessed this political position as a former member of Vets for Peace, that also encouraged and urged us to vote for Kerry. On Dec. 12, 2005 Leslie Cagan, speaking for the UFPJ Steering Committee posted to the website that they will “not coordinate work with ANSWER again on a national level.” However when she says that UFPJ wants to send a “focused message” on the Iraq war, she now states that the war is indeed part of empire building and may be related to such issues as the “occupation of Palestinian land, racism, repression and injustice at home.” So now UFPJ embraces the politics that ANSWER had from the very beginning....(full article)

December 19

Progressivism, Skepticism, and Historical Revisionism:
The Inalienable Right to Question History

by Kim Petersen

The statements of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have a penchant for attracting the opprobrium of the western world.  On 14 December, Ahmadinejad, whose comments were carried live on Iranian state television’s Arabic-language satellite channel Al-Alam, spoke to thousands of people in the southeastern Iranian city of Zahedan.  Controversially, he declared, “Today, they have created a myth in the name of Holocaust and consider it to be above God, religion and the prophets.”  He then asked Europeans, “If you committed this big crime, then why should the oppressed Palestinian nation pay the price?” Ahmadinejad has a proposal though: “If you committed the crime, then give a part of your own land in Europe, the United States, Canada or Alaska to them so that the Jews can establish their country.” . . . . In an assault on freedom of speech, the EU leaders warned that Iran might face sanctions because of President Ahmadinejad’s remarks....(full article)

The Imperial President and the NSA Spying Scandal
by Jack Random

The Facts: Created in 1952, the National Security Agency (NSA) was charged with eavesdropping and surveillance of foreign adversaries. In 1978, confronted with the excesses of the Nixon administration, Congress passed the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, establishing a secret court for legal review and authorization of surveillance on citizens within the United States. The Admission: The president personally authorized by executive order domestic spying by the NSA without a warrant or judicial review. The Claim: All targets were Al Qaeda related. The Crime: Bypassing legal review and, thereby, circumventing congressional mandate. The Excuse: In the wake of 9-11, intelligence agencies cannot be delayed by procedural red tape. We have heard the opening salvos in a scandal that proceeds directly from the Oval Office and every thinking person must ask: Has there ever been a clearer example of executive arrogance, abuse and mendacity? Reminiscent of the Iran-Contra affair, the president has employed the imperial power of the White House to overrule the law of the land....(full article)

From Coca-Cola to Cocaine: ‘Tis the Season for Hypocrisy in Colombia
by Gary Leech

Several events that occurred in the final weeks of 2005 represent a microcosm of the hypocrisies evident in the security and economic policies being implemented by the Bush and Uribe administrations. The recent demobilization of the Central Bolivar Bloc of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia (AUC) shed more light on the Colombian military ’s collusion with the right-wing paramilitary group. Just as disturbing is President Alvaro Uribe's recent acknowledgement that the Colombian military has been implicated in a plot to overthrow the democratically-elected leader of neighboring Venezuela. Meanwhile, the inequities in Washington’s “free trade” policies were again made evident by the realization that the ingenuity and entrepreneurship of indigenous Colombians would not be afforded the same rights as those enjoyed by U.S.-based multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola....(full article)

A Small Matter of Justice
by Rosemarie Jackowski

There are some good reasons why every U.S. citizen should be thinking about reparations. Reparations to be paid to every victim of U.S. foreign and domestic policy would have a dramatic effect on the course of history; but also there are other, often overlooked, advantages that would come from just having a great national debate about reparations. The debate itself would have long lasting rewards. A national conversation about reparations would be the one thing that could awaken and inform the sleeping citizens. This is a nation in which factual information is difficult to come by. School textbooks rarely give an accurate view of history. The combination of a misguided government owned and operated educational system and an incompetent corporate owned mass media has resulted in a misinformed, sleeping populace....(full article)

As the Year Ends
by Ted Glick

In many ways a year-end review is artificial. The structures of injustice, oppression and environmental destruction continue to grind people down and seriously threaten all forms of life on this planet, and they will keep doing so next year. Conversely, progressive organizations of varying sizes and effectiveness, including some governments, will continue to resist and build alternatives, continue to strive toward a world in which the words, "peace on earth and good will to men and women," will be not empty and hypocritical words but truly the operating principles of human society. In a number of respects, 2005 has been a better year for us than might have been expected. One year ago many people on the Left were deeply apprehensive, scared of what a second Bush/Cheney term would bring....(full article)

Prince of a Different Peace
by Joe Bageant

In an ancient rural county in West Virginia on Christmas morning, a bent old man with a face like gentle twisted wildwood will raise the American flag in the frost. Then he will go back indoors, sit down quietly amid the smells of cooking, light his pipe and dream. My Uncle Nelson raises the flag every morning at the secluded nursing home in the hills of Morgan County, West Virginia. If anyone in this world should have that right, it is he. Because Uncle Nelson, whom we called Nels, never left Morgan County in his life. Not even once....(full article)

December 17

A Whore that Sitteth on Many Waters
What the Left Behind Series Really Means
by Joe Bageant

...Whatever the case, tens of millions of American fundamentalists, despite their claims otherwise, read and absorb the all-time best selling Left Behind book series as prophesy and fact. How could they possibly not after being conditioned all their lives to accept the End Times as the ultimate reality? We are talking about a group of Americans 20% of whose children graduate from high school identifying H2O as a cable channel. Children who, like their parents and grandparents, come from that roughly half of all Americans who can approximately read, but are dysfunctionally literate to the extent they cannot grasp any textual abstraction or overall thematic content. Most of my family and their church friends (mainly the women) have read at least some of the Left Behind series and if pressed they will claim they understand that it is fiction. But anyone who has heard fundies around the kitchen table discussing the books knows the claim is pure bullshit. “Well, they do get an awful lot of stuff exactly right,” they admit. Beyond that, most fundamentalists delight in seeing their beliefs as “persecuted Christians” become best sellers “under the guise of fiction,” as the Pentecostal assistant who used to work with me put it. “They show the triumph of the righteous over those who persecute us for our faith in God.” Fer cryin' out loud, Christianity is scarcely a persecuted belief system in this country, or in need of a guise to protect itself. Year after year some 60% of Americans surveyed say they believe the Book of Revelations will come true and about 40% believe it will come true in their lifetimes. This from the 50% of Americans who, according to statistics, seldom if ever buy a book....(full article)

Resisting Capitalist-Imperialist Assimilation
Interview with Stewart Steinhauer
by Kim Petersen

Stewart Steinhauer is a self-taught stone carver who lives on the Saddle Lake “Indian Reserve” northeast of Edmonton in central Alberta province. Steinhauer is active in and inspired by the spiritual ceremonies of his people.... Possessive individualism has been a bane for most of the Original Peoples of the continent. Steinhauer notes, “Under capitalism, with its planned scarcity as a cover for the ‘natural’ and ‘inevitable’ rise of privilege, enshrined in individualistic liberal philosophy, there can never be enough to satisfy even one man’s greed.” The following interview is from a recent e-mail exchange between Steinhauer and Kim Petersen....(full interview)

The Language of Empire:
An Interview with Lila Rajiva

  Seth Sandronsky

Seth Sandronsky talks with DV contributing writer Lila Rajiva about her must-read new book, mass media corruption, the problem with the debate on torture, and more....(full interview)

Federal Food Policy: Organic Inconsistencies
by Joshua Frank

Attempting to define what the USDA considers “organic” is like trying to figure out which lie George W. Bush told last -- it is a difficult, if not impossible task. Since 2002, the USDA has changed their definition almost every year. So, today’s products labeled “organic” by the Agency may not have been labeled the same in 2003. This sort of wavering has been met with much criticism from many organic food advocates who believe the USDA should stick to the standards it agreed upon in 1990. Others, mostly industry suit coats, still believe the USDA’s labeling is too stringent. And why wouldn’t they? The lesser the standards, the fatter their bottom-lines. And here is where the lobbying efforts on the part of the agriculture giants come into play....(full article)

Bush Fools Americans by Appearing to Accept
McCain’s Ban on Torture
by Evan Augustine Peterson, III

With Washington politics, things are seldom what they appear to be -- especially when devious Machiavellians are running the White House. And we often end up getting a fairy tale version of reality because the USA's government-corporate-media complex prefers to ignore unpleasant-but-true stories while it promotes pleasant-but-false stories. For instance, the mainstream media is burying a major Bushite deception right now, so as to leave the American people with the rosy-but-false impression that Mr. Bush has adopted a "new position" concerning torture....(full article)

Intelligent-Design Debate Reveals Limits of Religion and Science
by Robert Jensen

Despite the clashes between claims based in faith v. reason, it seems that most people -- on both sides of the debate about religion and science in the United States -- share a belief in a kind of magic. Sadly, this need for magical thinking undermines the ability of religion and science to deal with the complexity of the material world and the mystery of creation. The difference between a belief in magic and an appreciation of mystery has never been clearer than in the debate over “intelligent design” and the alleged challenge it presents to evolutionary biology. In claims that religious people make about a designer, as well as many of the typical refutations of that position, we see our species’ hubris on display....(full article)

30,000 Iraqis, More or Less
by Lucinda Marshal

George's face was eerily matter-of-fact as he said it. “30,000 Iraqis more or less” have been killed so far in the War on Terror. No remorse or sadness, he seemed wholly unaffected in any way by the enormity of such a loss of life, let alone that he might bear some responsibility for it happening. But it was major news that during his remarks to the World Affairs Conference in Philadelphia, the President had finally put a figure on the number of “enemy” war dead and my local newspaper duly ran the story on Page One. Asked about his linkage of Saddam Hussein to 911, Bush maintained that Saddam had been a threat and that the reports of weapons of mass destruction had been widely believed. He claimed that knowing what he does now, he would make the same decision, that Saddam had been a threat and that we are now safer. The President also talked about the challenges nations face making a transition to what he often terms a “free and democratic” society. One wonders if there were chuckles at his understated, “I think we were welcomed. But it was not a peaceful welcome.”....(full article)

2005: The Year of Consequences
by Manuel Garcia, Jr.

How will the year 2005 be remembered in the mind of the public? One American view follows. 2005 was a year in which the consequences of the policies and attitudes used to maintain the Anglo-American and "Group of 8" way of life burst into plain view despite the best efforts of governments and major media to shroud the truth. The political lies of the Bush Administration exploded with increasing frequency as the Iraq War and occupation degenerated during the year. The satisfying sense of distance many Europeans felt regarding America's "dirty war" against "terrorists" was uncomfortably shattered with the revelations of European government knowledge of and cooperation with "extraordinary renditions" and the maintenance of secret CIA gulags on the Continent. The falsity of our energy-intensive Western mode of life was dramatically proclaimed by Nature itself with the cracking of polar ice. The vast inadequacies of our national and global social arrangements were pitilessly exposed in just three days, after Nature slapped us with: the Andaman Sea Tsunami of 26 December 2004, the flooding of New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina on 29 August 2005, and the Kashmir Earthquake of 8 October 2005. The chickens are coming home to roost, and they are infected with Avian Flu. Let us consider the events of twenty-nine separate days to help suggest the overall contours of this year-long segment in the stream of time. Admittedly, this list is arbitrary, and the endpoints of this year "2005" are loosely defined to fall in mid-December....(full article)

Cornered by the Truth
by Sheila Samples

It was bizarre at first; even amusing in a hideous little way. When George "Elwood" Bush and Tony "Jake" Blair scrambled up on the international stage shortly after 9-11 and broke into their frenzied Blues Brothers routine, I fully expected the US Congress, the UK Parliament and citizens on both sides of the Atlantic to snort in derision and get up and walk out of the theater. I mean, c'mon....(full article)

Uncle Ahab's Blood Money
by E.R. Bills

I was thirty when I got married. After college, I enjoyed single life for several years. Most of my married friends were always quizzing me about who I was dating, trying to set me up with one of their friends or asking me when I might settle down. I look back now and realize the old “misery loves company” cliché perfectly described their concern. It’s like they were recruiters for a weighty, tedious and sometimes perilous commitment. I’m glad it took me so long to listen. I bring this anecdote up because the United States National Guard has adopted my old married friends’ earnest, but misguided strategy. They recently initiated a test run (in Kentucky, Iowa, Missouri, North Dakota and West Virginia) of the Guard Recruiter Assistance Program, which encourages current Guard members to recruit friends, family, co-workers, fellow church members, etc. to sign up for the National Guard. If the test run is successful, the Guard Recruiter Assistance Program will expand nationwide by September 2006. This means the shrinking, shallow pools that our current National Guard taps to fight our fossil fuel crusades and lofty Operation Blah-Blah-Blahs will be re-tapped for future incursions....(full article)

Dear Howard Dean: Why Bother?
by Ernest Partridge

Dear Dr. Dean, 
Every week I get dozens of solicitations from the Democratic National Committee, from the Democratic Senate and Congressional Campaign Committees, or from various Democratic candidates and office-holders, each of them asking for contributions. “You can help us achieve victory next November,” I am told. If by “victory” is meant a majority vote cast at the polls, then the Democrats achieved “victory” in 2000, 2002 and 2004. And yet, the Republicans remain in control of the Congress and the White House. Small wonder! Republicans build the voting machines, Republicans write the secret software, Republicans count and compile the totals. The Republican machines allow no auditing of the vote totals they report. So Republicans have the ability to “win” elections, regardless of the will of the voters.  There is compelling evidence that they have done just that. And so, if nothing is done to end the privatization of our elections and to introduce reliable verification, the Republicans will "win" again in November 2006 and then in 2008. Today, eleven months before the mid-term election, the outcome is fore-ordained -- as certain as Soviet elections under Stalin, and Iraqi elections under Saddam. For, as Stalin said, "Those who cast the votes decide nothing, those who count the votes decide everything.” In the United States today, the GOP counts most of the votes, and there are no means to verify up to 80% of those votes. In view of this dreadful situation, when the Democrats ask me for a contribution I must reply: “What’s the point? It’s already been settled! What remains is an empty charade.”....(full article)

Of Bibles and Guns
by Peter Kurth

Don’t ask me to explain why I’m still on my “religion” kick -- three columns in a row, all about “God.”  Maybe it’s the season -- you know, the “holidays.” (Oh, excuse me, I mean Christmas, of course! And New Year’s. And Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa, and “shopping,” and whatever else they might dream up for the solstice in the interest of making money.) Anyway, I’m still on that kick. Probably I’ve turned to religion because I can’t stand the thought of reading, never mind writing, another word about George W. Bush. Not before Lent, anyway. We’ll see what happens after that. I understand that Bush’s “approval ratings” have bumped up slightly -- not much, but a little -- since he embarked on his manly “Strategy for Victory” campaign in Iraq. Don’t worry: They’ll fall back where they belong when people get their heating bills this winter....(full article)

Stunning Silence and Belated Apologies
by Daniel Vallin

Just about three years ago, in March 2003, the United States, a nation which likes to refer to itself as “peace-loving,” “democratic,” “civilized,” and standing for “liberty and justice,” lied to the world and attacked the sovereign nation of Iraq without provocation. We in the West are somewhat accustomed to seeing media reports of “other” countries (for example Iran) where people actually demonstrate in favor of a war, but it certainly came as a surprise to most of us in Europe to see that Americans actually took to the streets in support of a war. Most, of course, came out to protest against the war, but this tiny (and apparently brave) minority nationally was met not only with the oppression of the government (which cordoned the protesters into out of sight, fenced-in areas -- Orwellian “Free speech zones”), but the derision of active, organized counter-protests, which chanted slogans supporting a war of aggression on a nation which never in its history had attacked the U.S. In virtually every news report covering U.S. protests against the war, the presence of pro-war counter protesters is also mentioned....(full article

All is Fair in Egyptian Elections
by Ahmed Amr

Forecasting the results of an Egyptian election is not rocket science. A far more challenging occupation is to determine why Egypt bothers to stage elections in the first place. It should come as no news that the National Democratic Party won three out four seats in the new National Assembly. This “remarkable” result was achieved by stuffing ballots, buying off some voters, intimidating others and arresting hundreds of opposition activists. “Reliable” voters were targeted at jurisdictions with vulnerable NDP candidates. And NDP partisans lived up to their well-deserved reputation for voting early and often. Because the voting registries are rarely updated, it is fair to assume that many of the dead were temporarily resurrected to endorse the ruling party. When that didn’t do the trick, party thugs were dispatched to physically assault and harass independent minded voters. As a last resort, police set up barricades to obstruct opposition loyalists from entering polling stations. When the need arose, they were not averse to using their arsenal of tear gas canisters and rubber bullets. A few of the more insistent voters were given a choice between taking a bullet or discarding their ballot. A dozen gave their lives for making the wrong choice. The death toll gave Egypt the dubious distinction of being a more dangerous place to vote than Iraq....(full article)

A Challenge to Dianne Feinstein
“Million Votes for Peace” Senate Campaign
by Todd Chretien

A perfect storm of opposition to California Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein is brewing. Take the issue of Iraq. Over 2,200 U.S. soldiers will have died in Iraq by Christmas, and that will figure will surely rise to over 3,000 by the 2006 elections. The Iraqi death toll is already over 100,000 and will continue to rise even faster. Sixty percent of the American people now oppose the occupation and want the troops brought home, a figure that is growing even higher in California. Sen. Feinstein voted to support President Bush’s invasion of Iraq and continues to support the occupation. But that’s not the only important issue where she has more in common with George Bush than with the people of California....(full article)

GI Joe Goes to Baghdad
by Mickey Z.

Bullet enters just above the
right eye
Neat dark hole

Out the back of his head blows the lies
The promises. . . broken
The myths. . . embedded....(full poem)

December 16

“Nothing to Worry About”

Pentagon Puppets and Other Orwellian Horrors at USA Today 

by Paul Street

Sometimes you've got to wonder if newspaper managers are deliberately trying to numb readers with Orwellian madness. Look, for example, at the top page of last Tuesday's USA Today, the "national newspaper" that has done so much to blur the line between print journalism and bad television. On the rightmost column of that page you can read about "a first" for the Bush administration. During a recent speech in Philadelphia, the paper reports, Bush acknowledged that a specific and specific number -- "about 30,000" in the president's words -- of Iraqi deaths have resulted from his imperial invasion and occupation (Coren Dorell, "Bush Puts Deaths of Iraqis at 30,000," USA Today, 13 December, 2005). The White House "offered no details," USA Today observed, "about how the 30,000 died, or who killed them."....(full article)

White (Phosphorous) Christmas
by Gabriele Zamparini

A few days ago, the Chicken-Hawk-in-Chief said: Stop throwing the Constitution in my face. It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” On 29 January 2003, at the State of the Union speech, the same Chicken-Hawk-in-Chief addressed the Congress: “And as we and our coalition partners are doing in Afghanistan, we will bring to the Iraqi people food and medicines and supplies -- and freedom.” [It followed one of the many standing ovations from the Congress’ members. Good to remember when still so many think the Congress should impeach the President. My grandma would say: If you want it done right, you have to do it yourself.] According to The State of Iraq: An Update,” an article published by The New York Times: “A sober reading of the data argues against a rapid withdrawal, which would concede the fight to the terrorists.” One wonders how many people must be murdered before (soberly) calling someone terrorist: 30,000? 100,000? 500,000? 1,000,000? (full article)

Haiti’s Achievements Under Aristide and Lavalas
Now Lost Since the US-led Coup That Ousted Him

by Stephen Lendman

The long-suffering people of Haiti suffered a catastrophic blow in February, 2004 when U.S. Marines kidnapped and deposed democratically elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The U.S., supported by Canada and France, forced him into exile, forbade him from even returning to the hemisphere, and reestablished a despotic interim puppet government backed and enforced by so-called UN peacekeepers and a brutal Haitian National Police. U.S. officials also threatened Aristide with a second abduction followed by a trial and imprisonment in the U.S. (on totally fraudulent charges of looting the Haitian treasury, money laundering and taking payoffs from drug traffickers) if he dared act or speak out forcefully against his ousting, forced exile and the deplorable situation now in Haiti. These charges are currently included in a baseless lawsuit the so-called Interim Government of Haiti has filed against President Aristide even as they carry out a reign of terror against the Haitian people. As they do it, conditions in the country continue to deteriorate as the occupying forces clamp down on the people ahead of so-called Presidential and legislative elections in January. With Haiti an occupied country, the freedom and democracy they had is now lost along with a decade of impressive social, economic and political gains they never had before....
(full article)

Prison Meeting with Pere Jean-Juste (12.13.05)
by Bill Quigley

Red and white bougainvillea flowers and guards with jeep-mounted machine guns surround the high walled prison in Port au Prince.  The first thing I noticed about Haitian political prisoner Pere Jean-Juste was his neck. It is very swollen on both sides. A pink rosary peeks out from the white bandana around his throat. He admits he is in pain, but shakes off questions about it. Someone from the U.S. embassy suggested the authorities could take him to another place so a doctor can do a biopsy or an operation. He refused for security reasons. "No doctor from this government is going to cut on my neck," he said....(full article)

December 14

“Please, Sir, I Want Some More”
by Sheila Velazquez

The national debate over the use of the phrases "Seasons Greetings" and "Happy Holidays" in place of "Merry Christmas" has resurfaced as the true meaning of the season is once again overshadowed by the words that describe it. Words like love, compassion and charity have disappeared from our holiday lexicon. God, if (s)he exists, is surely weeping as (s)he peers down upon our failures and excesses in a time of increased want around the world, including in America. We contribute billions in international food aid, yet much of it never reaches the poor and hungry. Malnutrition and hunger kill 25,000 people a day, more than HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, while wars on poverty and hunger that could be waged in the United States are unfunded in favor of other "wars"....(full article)

“It’s Just a Goddamned Piece of Paper!”
Throwing the US Constitution in the President’s Face 
by Gary Leupp

Goug Thompson, publisher of Capitol Hill Blue, says he’s talked to three people present last month when Republican Congressional leaders met with President Bush in the Oval Office to talk about renewing the Patriot Act. That act, passed by legislators who hadn’t read it, in the immediate aftermath of 9-11 (when most people were shell-shocked and lawmakers in particular disinclined to use their brains), has of course been criticized as containing unconstitutional elements. All three GOP politicians quote their president as saying: “Stop throwing the Constitution in my face! It’s just a goddamned piece of paper!” At least one of Thompson’s sources says the president, when told his insistence on preserving some provisions of the act could further alienate conservatives following the Harriet Miers Supreme Court nomination disaster, stated, “I don’t give a goddamn: I’m the President and the Commander-in-Chief. Do it my way.”....(full article)

The Great War for Civilization
by Dan Raphael

The Great War for Civilization: The Conquest of the Middle East, by Robert Fisk (Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005)

This is a book that will hopefully be widely read. The distillation of 30 years’ reportage not only about but from many of the most hellish hotspots in the Middle East, Robert Fisk’s latest work demonstrates the kind of journalism needed but rarely found in this world. Embedded with no one and frequently an eyewitness at great personal risk, he gives voice to those deliberately excised from the unofficial bulletins of armies and rulers. In 24 chapters, he unfolds with very little repetition the issues that continue to form people’s lives throughout the Middle East and beyond: his several face-to-face meetings with Osama bin Laden; his observations from Baghdad as American cruise missiles and jets begin to fill medical wards; his attempt to anonymously travel via bus close to the Russian border, during the invasion of Afghanistan; under fire during the Iraqi invasion of Iran; the Algerian civil war and its equally vicious aftermath; the U.S. government betrayal of the Shia and the Kurds; the plague of death caused by depleted uranium; interviews with the few Armenian survivors of the original holocaust; attending an international armaments trade show; the theft of land, murder of innocents, routine and widespread practice of torture...not culled from government press releases and the statements of rulers, but transmitting from the site of events to a world audience, the words of soldiers, civilians, and those otherwise forgotten and abandoned....(full review)

We're Melting
by Lucinda Marshall

One wonders what the Wicked Witch of the West must have been thinking in that terrifying moment in the Wizard of Oz after Dorothy doused her with water, when she realized that she was melting and no amount of evil spells was going to change that? With the recent deluge of melting glaciers and warming seas, it seems we residents of planet Earth may be reaching a very similar moment....(full article)

Running On Empty: Climate Change Expert’s New Book
on Oil Depletion 
by Shepherd Bliss

British geologist Jeremy Leggett’s first book The Carbon War was described by the influential Sunday Times as “the best book yet on the politics of global warming.” Time magazine calls Leggett “one of the key players in putting the climate issue on the world agenda.” His recent book -- called Empty Tank by its US publisher and Half Gone in the UK -- builds on his former work as the Chief Scientist at Greenpeace UK and a decade as an international climate campaigner in order to now assert the importance of what he describes as “the oil topping point.” Leggett links oil depletion and climate change throughout his book, sub-titled Oil, Gas, Hot Air, and the Coming Global Financial Catastrophe. Over half the book is a 150-page section on “Oil Depletion Meets Global Warming.” Before moving to Greenpeace in the 1990’s, Leggett spent most of the 1980s as “a creature of Big Oil,” doing research, teaching, and consulting paid for by Shell, BP, and other oil companies. He is now CEO of the UK’s largest independent solar electric company. Leggett’s new book is perhaps the most thorough exploration yet of the relationship of oil descent and global warming, which he calls “hot air.”....(full article)

December 13

Exposing the Lies of Whiteness -- Thank You Richard Pryor
by Seth Sandronsky

As a high school student, I began listening to the brilliant comedian Richard Pryor. His recent passing reminds me of how he shaped my political consciousness.  With wisdom and wit, Pryor spoke to individual and social relations in the U.S. His special focus was on the color line, the main ingredient for America's class system. Listening and re-listening to Pryor caused me, slowly but surely, to reflect critically on what I thought I knew about blacks and whites, and the over-all status quo. With each laugh, I grew more aware of the concept of race and class inequality.  Insanity, I thought. Though dimly aware of it at the time, I was beginning to question what black author James Baldwin termed the "lie of whiteness."....(full article)

What Are We Trying to Kill by Executing Tookie Williams?
by T. Patrick Donovan

While we reflexively assume that the death penalty flows from an Old Testament, punishing, patriarchal god, tit-for-tat killing in response to murder pre-dates the Bible by millennia. In fact, we could trace many (if not all) of the current religious, racial, and national conflicts to a deadly marriage between this desire for revenge and political and economic compulsions. Take a look at the cascading revenge that America has sought in the aftermath of 9/11: Afghanistan, Iraq, Abu Ghraib and scapegoating people who are (or look like they are) of Middle Eastern origin, We can even take this down to the micro-level and speculate what goes on within military platoons when one of "their own" is killed. Yes, at this time of history (post-Enlightenment), revenge killing has to come dressed in the moral garb of justice (at best), or a "they hit us first" rationale (at least)....(full article)

Happy Holidays
by Patricia Goldsmith

The old joke says the religious right is neither, and yet the fundamentalists are correct on one essential point: we as a culture have a spiritual problem, and it requires a spiritual solution. During this holy season, rightwing religious leaders are offering their critique of our society and leading campaigns for decency. They are claiming the moral authority to enter the political arena; they want to go from preaching to ruling. Their entry into politics gives us the right to examine their credentials. Despite a natural tendency to shy away from religious arguments, I think we on the left need to meet them on their ground, because the truth is they care no more for the Bible than George W. Bush cares for the Constitution....(full article)

The War on Christmas
by Lee Salisbury

Help, help, help, dear Jesus!  Those nasty secular liberal humanists are making war on Christmas. Jesus, please intercede, or if you are too busy then ask Mary if she can get your Daddy to do something quickly. Fox News, Bill O’Reilly, Sean Hannity, John Gibson, not to mention James Dobson, and Jerry Falwell all report Christmas is under assault. Those secularists control the newspapers, radio, TV, our government, and our universities. When I go to the Christian Wal-Mart store to get my household supplies, even the clerk will only say Happy Holiday instead of Merry Christmas. We need legislators to pass a Constitutional amendment requiring everybody to say “Merry Christmas,” otherwise people might say “Happy Hanukkah” or “Happy Kwanzaa.” America has become so accommodating in its multiculturalism that Christians can’t even tell those who don’t believe in Jesus that they are going to Hell....(full article)

December 12

Bush World: Too Many States
by Stephen Lendman

Choose from the following:

a) U.S. -- imperial state
b) U.S. -- terror state
c) U.S. -- criminal state
d) U.S. -- rogue state
e) U.S. -- corporate state
f)  U.S. -- military state
g) U.S. -- aggressor state
h) U.S. -- torture state
i)  U.S. -- all of the above

Answer[s] found below. One other choice can be added -- a state of disgrace. One choice not included -- a model democratic state. One choice not needed is a state of confusion. The evidence is clear, overwhelming and conclusive. Explanation below with some brief background....(full article)

My Husband is at the Gates of Guantánamo: Why I Support Him 

by Jessica Stewart

Twenty-five U.S. citizens, calling themselves Witness Against Torture, are demonstrating, fasting and praying at the gates of the U.S. prison at Guantánamo Bay. They marched across Cuba to get to the prison. One of them is my husband, Danny Burns. Danny and I have two children. Finian is three years old and Francis is seven months. Danny is at Guantanamo in part because of our family. What our government is doing at Guantanamo creates an unsafe world for our children. Our government is promoting a global escalation of violence which makes increasing terrorism inevitable....(full article)

Torture and White Phosphorus
by John Chuckman

I've previously charged Condoleezza Rice with having an appalling ignorance of history. I don't mean the kind of knowledge -- dates of battles, names and terms of treaties, etc. -- that earns a good grade on an exam. We know Condoleezza got good grades in school. No, I mean a deeper understanding of the economic, social, and moral forces of history and of the irrepressible role of truth despite the countless attempts to silence it.....(full article)

(Media Lens Cogitations)
Predatory Urges, Plastic Brains and Empowerment

by David Cromwell

One of our readers wrote to us recently quoting historian Mark Curtis’s accurate observations that: “Britain is a major, systematic contributor to much of the world's suffering and horrors and this contribution arises from the basic economic and political priorities that governments pursue at home and abroad. These fundamental policy stances are the result of planning broadly determined by the domestic structures of society which define ‘national interests’.” But, sadly, our reader suggested that such horrors were unsurprising, even inevitable. His reasoning ran as follows: “in our highly ‘civilized cultures’ our predatory nature manifests itself in theft, murder, manipulation, abuse, and other sociopathic behavior.” There is a strong innate tendency, ran his argument, for governments to prey on each other as well as individuals; a tendency that stems directly from the predatory instinct in humans. In short: “We are hopelessly enslaved to our DNA's predatory urges.” This is the classic depiction of our species as “killer ape.” Richard Davidson and Anne Harrington note that this has been “the dominant note of the biobehavioral sciences in the West”. It is a “tragic-machismo” approach that focuses on “our potential for violence, explor[ing] the genetic and biochemical bases of our capacity for selfishness, depression, and anxiety.” But, as careful investigators have pointed out, we have to be cautious not to make categorical statements on human nature; particularly such a flawed and sweeping thesis of humans as predatory “killer apes.”....(full article)

No News is Bad News: A Short History of RADIO FREE IRAQ 
by Lila Rajiva

Just as President Bush urged support for a "free, independent and responsible Iraqi media," the Los Angeles Times reported that the military in Iraq is spending millions on a DC-based defense contractor to plant stories favorable to the US occupation in the Iraqi media. Senior Pentagon officials, including General Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, are said to have had no idea that this secret campaign was going on. Is this even news? We’re told that operatives (or if you will, troops) of an Information Operations Task Force in Baghdad write news stories, called "storyboards", and deliver them to the Iraqi staff of the Lincoln Group. These staffers translate the storyboards into Arabic and then pay (i.e. bribe) newspaper editors in Baghdad to run the stories. Actually this "new" program has been around for a time, only with different names....(full article)

The Morbid Symbolism of the Yasukuni Shrine 
by Kim Petersen

The Yasukuni Shrine is a Shinto shrine in Tokyo that is a focal point of searing controversy since the kami (souls) of 14 Class A war criminals were secretly enshrined there in 1978. One expatriate writer located in Japan has seen fit to defend visits to the Yasukuni Shrine by government leaders of the nation that was a World War II aggressor. Mike Rogers wonders what the problem is since: “Yasukuni Shrine is not run by the State and it is not a cemetery.” He asserts that Yasukuni Shrine is not a symbol and glorification of Japanese militarism, that Japanese prime ministerial visits there are not a glorification of Japan’s militaristic past, and that such visits do not constitute a denial of Japan’s past war crimes and deeds. Besides, points out Rogers, no one is buried there. “There are no bones, ashes, graves, graveyard, or headstones at Yasukuni Shrine.” But there are nearly 2.5 million kami in Yasukuni Shrine. What, one might wonder, is of greater importance to people: the corporeal remains or the life essence that is the soul? It is puzzling logic then that Rogers argues conversely that people should relax because only the kami are in Yasukuni Shrine....(full article)

Good Night, Democracy; Good Luck, Americans
by Dan Raphael

Good Night, and Good Luck (2005), Directed by George Clooney
Good Night, and Good Luck, currently showing across the country, is touted as a reprise of television legend Edward R. Murrow’s criticism and confrontation with Red-hunter Senator Joe McCarthy. While beautifully produced in speckled black-and-white film suggestive of an old documentary, this historical drama is not about the Fifties and the climate of fear that gripped America during that time; it is about us, now, and the fear that grips too many in our country....(full article)

As Bush Stacks the Supreme Court, How Can We Save Our Rights?

by Elizabeth Schulte

The future of women’s right to a safe, legal abortion is on the chopping block as the U.S. Supreme Court prepares to rule on a New Hampshire parental notification law. On November 30, the Court -- led by Bush crony and new Chief Justice John Roberts -- began hearing arguments in the case of Ayotte v. Planned Parenthood of Northern New England, which will decide the constitutionality of a state law barring doctors from providing an abortion to a minor without notifying a parent, and requiring a 48-hour waiting period. More than 40 states already have parental notification or consent laws, but what makes New Hampshire’s different is that it doesn’t include an exception for a woman’s health. The only exception is “imminent death.” While this law may fall short of directly challenging Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court ruling that made abortion legal nationwide, it piles on yet another obstacle to women seeking abortions. Its victims are among the most vulnerable -- young women who may not be in the position to talk to a parent about their choice....(full article)

(a poem of occupation) 
by Mickey Z.

A poem by Mickey Z on the occupation of Iraq....(full poem)

December 10

From Creating Realities to Refusing Questions:
White House Liars on the Defensive

by Gary Leupp

In those heady months building up to the War-Based-on-Lies, New York Times columnist Ron Suskind made some remarks about then-White House Communications Director Karen Hughes. These bothered the administration. So a senior official (Karl Rove?) took Suskind to task, and as Suskind recounted later in an October 17, 2004 NYT piece, mocked him for being “in what we call the reality-based community.” These are people, the official elaborated, who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” The bullying Bush insider warned against such belief, dismissing it as naive: “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he declared. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality, we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors ... and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”....(full article)

Watching Human Rights Watch: Open Letter to Kenneth Roth,
Executive Director of Human Rights Watch

by Gabriele Zamparini

Dear Mr. Kenneth Roth, Executive Director Human Rights Watch,

On December 2, 2005 the New York Times published an article with the title “Rights Group Lists 26 It Says U.S. Is Holding in Secret Abroad.” The article quotes Marc Garlasco, Senior Military Analyst at Human Rights Watch, saying:
“One thing I want to make clear is we are talking about some really bad guys,” Mr. Garlasco said. “These are criminals who need to be brought to justice. One of our main problems with the U.S. is that justice is not being served by having these people held incognito.” Mr. Garlasco said, “Our concern is that if illegal methods such as torture are being used against them,” trials may “either be impossible or questionable under international standards of jurisprudence.”....(full letter)

Pigs at the Trough of War
by Ashley Smith

The Bush Administration’s reign of error and terror has left a pile of corruption, waste, and destruction that rivals the muck of the Augean stable. Jeffrey St. Clair’s new book, Grand Theft Pentagon, accomplishes the Herculean task of exposing these abuses with brilliant investigative journalism carried off with unmatched sarcasm. After the Cold War, the military industrial complex was desperate for a new conflict to legitimize profligate spending on war, weapons systems, and their associated services. St. Clair chronicles how Bush’s so-called War on Terror has enabled our rulers to rekindle the incestuous relationship between politicians, the pentagon, and military contractors. The marriage councilor of this foul union is none other than George Bush himself. In perhaps the funniest expose of the Bushes yet written, St. Clair tells the story of this company masquerading as a family....
(full article)

Bird Dogging Hillary Clinton: The Antiwar Movement Steps Up
by Joshua Frank

One has to be pleased that the antiwar movement is taking shape. Finally the target isn’t just George. W. Bush and gang. Last Monday night at a chic Manhattan fundraiser for Hillary Clinton, antiwar activists staked out the Senator and vowed to do so until she changes her position on the war....
(full article)

How Greenspan Skewered America
by Mike Whitney

No one has done more to ensure the ultimate demise of the American middle class than Alan Greenspan. No one. In the stately pantheon of class warriors, Greenspan’s spectral-image looms larger than any other; the foremost proponent of hardnosed social Darwinism and exclusionary economics. Even his carpet bagging consort, G.W. Bush, pales in comparison. In just under five years the Fed master has engineered a coup so vast and devastating that $1.3 trillion of borrowed revenue has been adroitly shifted from the beleaguered middle class to the privileged 1% that Greenspan represents. Whoa! It is the biggest heist in the history of the planet, and it was designed and executed within the leather-bound citadel of the Federal Reserve....
(full article)

Scrutinize Bernanke Like a Supreme Court Nominee
by Madis Senner

Mr. Two-faced, Fed Head Alan Greenspan, was up to his old tricks when he gave a speech, “Budget Policy,” before the Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia Policy Forum (December 2, 2005) and sounded the alarm about the ballooning budget deficit. His solution is to cut entitlements: "[I]f at all possible, to close the fiscal gap primarily, if not wholly, from the outlay side." While this may be old hat to Fed Watchers with Ben Bernanke slated to take over the reins of the Federal Reserve on February 1, 2006, it presents an interesting challenge. Does Bernanke agree that cuts in entitlements are necessary to reduce the budget deficit? Or does he think that repealing Bush’s tax cuts, that were passed with Greenspan’s blessings, is the way to reduce the deficit? This is a critical question for anyone concerned about the state of those less fortunate in our country today. The USA’s twin imbalances, the budget deficit and current account deficit, have reached levels that Chairman Greenspan himself said have historically brought rapid and painful adjustments. There is no end in sight. So the deficit(s) debate is going to become an increasingly dominant subject in the political discourse in the years ahead....(full article)

Yes, We’re a Peaceful Nation -- and Chimps Fly
(Carrier Landings Excepted)

by Mark Drolette

I wish The Universe would send me a statement showing my negative karma balance. I must have been pretty awful in a previous life considering the seeming penance I occasionally still pay in this one. Despite my best efforts, I somehow ended up spending time recently at the apartment of my sister, Apolitica, and her spouse, Dolton, an unabashed fan of George W. Bush. Previous readers know I deem the enjoyment factor of such an occasion equivalent to, say, getting a bikini wax. Of my nasal hairs. During the stay, I’d done well by hiding behind a newspaper as I sat in the front room while Dolt and eight-year-old, Dolton, Jr., watched Fox News. (Poor, poor kid.) Having learned from previous visits, I’d already surreptitiously installed earplugs. Then I screwed up. I spoke....(full article)

Rumsfeld’s Handshake Deal With Saddam:
History Out of Media Bounds

by Norman Solomon

Christmas came 11 days early for Donald Rumsfeld two years ago when the news broke that American forces had pulled Saddam Hussein from a spidery hole. During interviews about the capture, on CBS and ABC, the Pentagon’s top man was upbeat. And he didn’t have to deal with a question that Lesley Stahl or Peter Jennings could have logically chosen to ask: “Secretary Rumsfeld, you met with Saddam almost exactly 20 years ago and shook his hand. What kind of guy was he?” Now, Saddam Hussein has gone on trial, but such questions remain unasked by mainstream U.S. journalists. Rumsfeld met with Hussein in Baghdad on behalf of the Reagan administration, opening up strong diplomatic and military ties that lasted through six more years of Saddam’s murderous brutality....(full article)

Tea for Two
by Remi Kanazi

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- the little teapot, short and stout -- is making a comeback. He ditched the outdated threads of his radical Likud to prance in the open fields of peace with favorite “doves” like Shimon Peres. The word on the street is that Sharon will be changing his last name to Gandhi before visiting with militant groups in the Occupied Territories to find out what they’re all so mad about. The people of the West and the nearsighted Israeli public are biting this propaganda, hook, line and sinker, while the Palestinians are left to rummage through the trash bin of peace. If one were to examine the mind of the Butcher of Beirut, one could see where “peace” will lead the Palestinian people. Peace will not lead the Palestinians to the internationally recognized 1967 borders (22 percent of historic Palestine) because Arik doesn’t believe in “land for peace.” What will the new “generous offer” be? A semi-autonomous Gaza Strip used as bombing practice by Israel and small non-connecting cantons in the West Bank cut off by settler roads, “security” checkpoints, and a towering “barrier” reminding Palestinians of what prison walls look like. Where do I sign? (full article)

December 7

Flying the Friendly Skies:
What Did European Agencies Know About the Torture Flights?
by Lila Rajiva

New revelations surfaced Monday night that the CIA directed one of its “black ops” not against terrorists but against an ally, Italy. They only add to the outrage in Europe over illegal rendition flights and the mounting evidence that in its “Global War on Terror” the Bush administration is trampling all international legal and ethical norms. But they also raise a disturbing question. How could the CIA have operated with such flagrant illegality in foreign countries without the help of local agencies and operatives? 
(full article)

Elementary Morality and Torture  
by Kim Petersen

The results from an AP-Ipsos poll conducted between 15 November and 28 November gives pause to people’s grasp of elementary morality. The poll reveals that in some countries there is substantial support for the notion that torture of suspected terrorists can be justifiable. Important to note is that the poll is not talking about convicted terrorists but rather “suspected terrorists.” This is disturbing because the presumption of innocence has been dismissed. German citizen Khaled al-Masri’s desperate plight speaks to this. Masri was abducted by the CIA, transferred to another country, tortured and subsequently released after the “mistake” became apparent. The poll raises many questions. For example, who is defining terrorism? Can the right to torture suspected terrorists be justified when the alleged terrorists are resisting an illegal invasion and occupation (a legitimate right)? (full article)

-- The Anti-Empire Report --
The Climax of Civilization
by William Blum

Lots of accusations going on, and counter accusations, congressional investigations, demands for more investigations ... Who said what?  When did they say it?  How did it contribute to the buildup for war? ...  intelligence failures, the administration should have known, we were misled, they lied, but the Democrats believed it also, voted for it ... round and round it goes, back and forth, what passes for serious parliamentary debate in the US of A, 21st century ... It's time once again to remind ourselves of the big lie, the  biggest lie of all, the lie that makes this whole current controversy rather irrelevant....(full article)

Report from the Devastated Front Lines of the
Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans

by Mary Beth Appell

The residents of the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans were finally allowed to return home on December 1, 2005. The neighborhood is home to nearly 20,000 African-American citizens and was devastated by the flooding during and after Katrina. This was the very first time they were legally permitted to visit their homes. I spent the next day in the Lower Ninth Ward under a big tent staffing a mobile medical clinic set up alongside FEMA, the Red Cross, the EPA, and the Salvation Army. I am here as a volunteer with Common Ground, a free collective medical clinic in New Orleans set up by residents of New Orleans and staffed by local and out of town volunteers. I am a Nurse Practitioner in Philadelphia where I help coordinate a free medical clinic. One road was open to let people into the neighborhood. People were met by a military checkpoint in their cars. They had to show proof of residency to be allowed past the checkpoint. Then they were required to stop by the tent to speak with FEMA, the EPA, to get their "shots", masks and booties....
(full article)

December 6

The Torture-Go-Round: The CIA’s Illegal Rendition Flights
by Lila Rajiva

Dana Priest’s recent Washington Post article, “Anatomy of a CIA ‘rendition’ gone wrong” only confirms what those who have watched the torture scandal closely already know. Abu Ghraib was no anomaly but the most visible tip of a widespread but clandestine policy. Priest reveals details about a case in which the CIA used German, Macedonian, Albanian and Afghan authorities and European airspace and terminals to “render” a German citizen snatched up abroad for interrogation and torture, without any material cause. Here’s the case that’s now causing a furor in Europe....(full article)

Wrestling With the Grim Reaper: America and the Death Penalty
by Natylie Baldwin 

....For several years afterward, I went about my business not thinking too much about capital punishment until I became involved in the human rights movement where I learned much more than many Americans would care to acknowledge about the flaws in our legal system. False confessions, false eyewitness identification and pressure on all parties in the criminal justice process to find, arrest, convict and render harsh sentences in connection with particular types of crimes all ironically contribute to a higher likelihood of unjust outcomes.  In-depth reports within the past year by both Amnesty International and California Lawyer Magazine detailed the phenomena of false confessions for crimes as serious as murder. Though counterintuitive at first glance, there are a number of elements embedded within common police interrogation techniques, especially in the 40 years since the Miranda ruling was handed down by the Supreme Court, which can create an environment that is exceedingly coercive....(full article)

Hidden in Plane Sight: US Media Dodging Air War in Iraq
by Norman Solomon

The U.S. government is waging an air war in Iraq. “In recent months, the tempo of American bombing seems to have increased,” Seymour Hersh reported in the Dec. 5 edition of The New Yorker. “Most of the targets appear to be in the hostile, predominantly Sunni provinces that surround Baghdad and along the Syrian border.” Hersh added: “As yet, neither Congress nor the public has engaged in a significant discussion or debate about the air war.” Here’s a big reason why: Major U.S. news outlets are dodging the extent of the Pentagon’s bombardment from the air, an avoidance all the more egregious because any drawdown of U.S. troop levels in Iraq is very likely to be accompanied by a step-up of the air war....
(full article)

Changing Courses? John Murtha is No Knight in Shining Armor
by Joshua Frank

It has been sad to see how hastily the antiwar movement gets excited about the utterly unexcitable Democrats. From John Kerry to John Murtha, we’ve been jobbed by the best of ‘em this past year and a half. Many who oppose this war have latched onto Rep. Murtha’s call to change the course in Iraq. It sounds nice to be sure. Changing the course is absolutely desired by the antiwar movement. Bush and the rest of the hawks in Washington have done nothing but chant a nauseous “stay the course” mantra, so not surprisingly Murtha’s sudden entrance into the debate has been greeted with open arms and wet smooches. Rep. Murtha may be calling for something a bit different than the neo-con’s Iraq plan, but that doesn’t mean it’s all that....(full article)

What Are You Going to Do About It, Punk?
A Response to Stan Goff

by John Halle

Dear Sgt. Goff,

Your recent letter to me concludes with the claim that "we understand power very well." I am assuming that this is meant as a joke. Whether it was or not, you should know that it elicited more than a few chuckles around the office. The "we" which is referred to -- the left -- is about as dead as at any point in the last three centuries, completely incapable of even raising a finger against what is now more than three decades of declining real wages, military adventurism, assaults on the environment, etc. In short the entire left has been so thoroughly trampled by the corporate right of both parties, it might as well not have existed.  If this is what "understanding power" has gotten you, perhaps you should try ignorance. Given this reality, you can imagine that your various threats to "retaliate" against me next November for my support of the administration's Iraq policy have an equally comical ring to them... (full letter)

December 5

The First Amendment's Assembly and Petition Clauses --
Eviscerated by Big Money?

by Robert Jensen

While the great battles fought over the First Amendment's religion and free-speech/-press clauses are some of the most inspiring stories told 'round the legal campfire, the amendment's assembly and petition clauses are mostly a forgotten footnote. There has been no great legal battle in easy memory over the right "to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." In 1939, the Supreme Court decided a case, Hague v. Congress of Industrial Organizations, that definitively established "the right of the people peaceably to assemble" in public space, and there's been little discussion since. Yet both these First Amendment footnotes offer important lessons about the more subtle -- and what today are more crucial -- obstacles to meaningful democracy that come with our economic system....(full article)

“How can you say that you support the troops if you support the false ideas they may die for?”: Paralyzed from the chest down, Iraq war vet Tomas Young speaks out against the war and occupation.
by Derek Seidman

Pfc. Tomas Young, 25 years old, was sent to Iraq last year with the Army’s 1st Cavalry Division. He joined the military for college money to further his education and, in his own words, “to exact some form of retribution” on the perpetrators of 9/11. Two-and-a-half weeks into his tour of duty, Young was paralyzed from the chest down after being struck by an AK-47 round while sitting in an open truck bed. Since returning home, he has joined Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and has become an outspoken critic of the war and occupation. This interview is the result of a long e-mail exchange....(full article)

Pope Rat
by Peter Kurth

It was a toss-up this week whether to write about the end of Jessica Simpson’s marriage or the latest news from the Vatican about the admissibility -- rather, the inadmissibility -- of “homosexual” men to the Catholic priesthood. (We’ll leave “homosexual” women right out of it, as no woman of any kind is allowed in the Catholic priesthood.  We’ll leave that to the Episcopalians and the Methodists and see if they have a shred of decency. I mean, we’ll just see.) Anyway, the Vatican won, because, despite all the publicity she gets, I really don’t know who Jessica Simpson is. It’s hard to explain. I see her face everywhere, but I don’t have any idea of who or what she’s supposed to be. Jessica is like Paris Hilton in that way. Rather, she’s like Suzanne Somers, which I guess is an accomplishment in itself. But Jessica doesn’t have Suzanne’s thighs. Yet....(full revelation)

Sacramento City Council Refuses to Rescind Iraq Resolution Despite National Right Wing Campaign
by Dan Bacher

The Sacramento City Council, in spite of vitriolic testimony by Iraq war supporters and hundreds of threatening e-mails from mostly out-of-town residents, has refused to back down on a resolution calling for the withdrawal of troops from Iraq. Approximately 100 supporters and 50 opponents of the resolution attended a recent council meeting, but only 15 minutes was allotted to each side during the public comments section of the meeting. The resolution, passed by an 8 to 1 vote on November 1, called for “a humane, orderly, rapid and comprehensive withdrawal of United States military personnel and bases from Iraq.” The Council also asked Congress and Bush to deliver “promised veterans' health, education, disability, and rehabilitation benefits, and otherwise meet the needs of returning veterans.” Councilman Robbie Waters cast the lone vote against the resolution....(full article)

Politics on Your Plate
by Mickey Z.

As most of us in America wallow in a season of gastronomical over-indulgence, here's some food for thought: In the late 1960s, thanks to Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers (UFW), deciding whether or not to buy grapes was a political act. Three years after its establishment in 1962, the UFW struck against grape growers around Delano, California ... a long, bitter, and frustrating struggle that appeared impossible to resolve until Chavez promoted the idea of a national boycott. Trusting in the average person's ability to connect with those in need, Chavez and the UFW brought their plight -- and a lesson in social justice -- into homes from coast-to-coast and Americans responded....(full article)

Barbara Bush and the Wretched Mr. Cheney
by Mike Whitney

One of the few bright spots in an otherwise bleak news week was an oddball account of Barbara Bush going ballistic over the way her boy-George has been abused by other members of the administration. Huh? Apparently, Lady McBush got it into her steely blue helmet head that Dick Cheney and Co. have “undermined” the commander-in-chief and are responsible for his plummeting popularity. According to Steve Clemons of The Washington Note the First Mother is on the warpath and may “call on Nancy Reagan to get a refresher lesson on how she took on and kicked out then Chief-of-Staff Donald Regan.” “Cut-throat Nancy?”....(full article)

December 3

Mission Accomplished: Big Oil’s Occupation of Iraq
by Heather Wokusch

The Bush administration’s covert plan to help energy companies steal Iraq’s oil could be just weeks away from fruition, and the implications are staggering: continued price-gouging by Big Oil, increased subjugation of the Iraqi people, more US troops in Iraq, and a greater likelihood for a US invasion of Iran. That’s just for starters. The administration’s challenge has been how to transfer Iraq’s oil assets to private companies under the cloak of legitimacy, yet simultaneously keep prices inflated. But Bush & Co. and their Big Oil cronies might have found a simple yet devious solution: production sharing agreements (PSAs)....(full article)

“To All Who Wear the Uniform”
Messianic Militarism Versus Democracy in Imperial America 

by Paul Street

It's getting hard not to notice that most of president Bush's major speeches are being delivered in military forums -- at bases, war colleges, naval academies, and the like. It makes sense.  A rising percentage of the U.S. citizenry -- 62 percent in a November AP-Ipsos poll -- disapproves of Bush's Iraq policy. Thanks largely to that policy, the president's approval ratings are at an all-time low. He's being openly mocked on dominant entertainment media and challenged in the halls of Congress. Earlier this week, General Electric Television (NBC) gave the New Yorker's Seymour Hersh a couple minutes on the happy morning Today Show to pitch an article that starkly depicts the militaristic madness of boy-king George. Hersh quotes a number of current and former military, intelligence, and administration officials to reveal an increasingly detached and messianic president who is "impervious to political pressure even from fellow Republicans." According to insiders, Bush believes "God put me here" to occupy Iraq. A "Pentagon adviser" told Hersh that Bush is "not going to back off" the occupation" because the president sees his illegal and immoral Iraq policy as "bigger than domestic politics." By Hersh's informants' account, "bigger" means "divinely inspired.".... (full article)

Just Think of Me as Your New Guidance Counselor . . . Or Just Think 
by Susan Van Haitsma 

The message printed beneath the image of the stern drill sergeant on the US Marine Corps recruitment poster reads, "Just Think of Me as Your New Guidance Counselor."  The poster is displayed in the administrative area of my neighborhood high school on the office door of the two police officers assigned to the school. The police officer who put it there says that it is not a recruitment poster and that, because he is a Marine, he uses it as motivational for himself. Just down the hall are the school's actual guidance counselors, and one of them expresses another view about the poster. Studying the image, she says quietly, "He doesn't look like a guidance counselor. His eyes are steely. He doesn't look like someone who would listen." Drill instructors are looking toward ever-younger audiences. Among those marching in Austin's recent Veterans Day parade, I noticed a group of Junior ROTC students who appeared to be child soldiers. I spoke later with one of them, a 6th grader who is enrolled in the program at his public middle school. I asked him what he learns in his JROTC class. "We learn how to march, and, well, we learn everything," he said. "Everything?" I asked. "We learn how to be in the army," he replied. Like the strange, contrary slogan, "An Army of One," the guidance being given to this youngster pretends to offer a world of possibility, but it boils down to one direction....(full article)

Selective De-Occupation: The Next Political Task?
by Manuel Garcia, Jr.

A political observer from Planet Tralfamadore would probably conclude that for much of Planet Earth the purpose of government is to insulate capital from popular democracy. This extra-terrestrial would likely see the US political elite as today's equivalent to Pharaonic scribes and priests, those maintained for the purpose of devising the necessary illusions for the management of the public mind. Since John Murtha's call on 17 November from the floor of the House of Representatives for a de-occupation of Iraq by US troops, it has been obvious to all that the illusions needed to proceed with the Iraq War have completely evaporated. Now, the political elite is very nervous because it has the delicate task of devising a new illusion that moves the public mind through an unavoidable policy transition in a controlled way. In doing this our elite politicians risk inadvertently jolting the public mind into an inconveniently clear awareness of other little-noticed mechanisms of political and economic control, and they also risk undoing their own political careers....(full article)

Blood Feast: The Celebration of Ritual Murder in America
by Mike Whitney

Two days ago, Kenneth Boyd became the 1,000th prisoner to be put to death in the US since the death penalty was reinstated 30 years ago. His final words were, “God bless everyone in here.” Thus, Boyd’s death becomes little more than a grim milestone of America’s commitment to savagery over justice....(full article)

Crony in the Bird Flu Seat:
Will the Public's Health be "Brownied" by Stewart Simonson?
by Bill Berkowitz

...Skeptics might argue that the President's warning sounds suspiciously like those post 9/11 anthrax scares, and are aimed at taking the public's attention away from the many failures bedeviling his administration. Others may argue that whether the threat is real or not, it is guaranteed to be a boon for the already profit-stuffed pharmaceutical industry. Some may take the president's forewarning of potential disaster at face value. Whatever your take, a pandemic of the kind currently discussed by public health officials could overwhelm an unprepared health care system, cost billions of dollars and cause an untold number of deaths. Having performed so wretchedly during the run-up to, and aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, one might expect that Team Bush would seek out someone fully versed in public health matters to head up the team charged with responding to as huge a potential public health threat as Avian Bird Flu. Who is in charge of handling significant health care and threats of bioterrorism? (full article)

The Mark Twain Doctrine Trumps Evolution and Intelligent Design
by Tony Zurlo

Teachers today they find themselves in a conundrum, unable to resolve the latest Catch 22 in American education. Teachers who teach evolution in the science classroom are attacked by the Intelligent Designers as atheists and anti-American. Teachers who attempt to introduce intelligent design into the science classroom are ridiculed for weakening our young people’s ability to think and analyze objectively. No matter which side educators choose, opponents accuse them of triggering the decline and fall of Western Civilization. If teachers introduce a unit that requires students to consider both explanations for the origins of life, administrators threaten to exterminate their contracts for veering from the sanctioned curricula. Teachers are being steered into the land of Western Oz where the one remaining Wicked Witch reigns....(full article)

Canada’s Prince of Darkness, Michael Ignatieff . . .
Or Thomas Friedman in Striped Trousers, Silk Stockings and Garters
by John Chuckman

If Michael Ignatieff is anything, it's connected, and I do not mean just to the relatively small establishment of Canada, I mean connected to the shadowy godfathers of world empire. Ignatieff has a rich career in America where truly loyal service, whether by natural or adopted sons, is always handsomely rewarded. Another Canadian, David Frum, made it all the way to the White House with his custom-tailored scribbling. So too such a genuinely dangerous American as Pat Buchanan. How does a man like Thomas Friedman pick up prizes writing advertising copy for the Pentagon? As I said, loyalty is handsomely rewarded. David Frum and Pat Buchanan both fell from grace, but there is little danger of Ignatieff's doing so. He almost perceptibly pants and gasps when he applies words to the imperial splendor of which he stands in awe....(full article)

December 2

Hurricanes, Global Warming and the Right-Wing
Distortion Campaign: The Battle Over Public Awareness

by David K. Adams

A series of recent polls conducted by the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA 2005) has demonstrated that public opinion in the United States has become more informed over the years with regard to the “scientific consensus” on global warming. The scientific consensus is in short:  Human-induced global warming is occurring and it is presently necessary to take action to curtail production of greenhouse gases. It is referred to as the scientific consensus because it represents the view of the overwhelming majority of climate scientists. The increase in public awareness of the scientific consensus should be considered major progress. This is especially true when one considers the concerted effort from the 1980s to the present by global warming “skeptics” and their corporate sponsors to muddy the issue. The global warming skeptics are a tiny but vocal group of scientists who argue that absolutely no conclusive evidence exists for global warming. Their views have been disseminated very effectively by right-wing think tanks and through Internet websites (e.g., and A series of articles in the May/June 2005 issue of Mother Jones magazine details the financial ties between the energy industry, conservative think tanks and the skeptics. What the above and other polls have also shown is that if the public believes scientific consensus exists, it is willing to take appropriate action to curb the emission of greenhouse gases. The polls indicate this is true even in the case where taking action implies significant economic costs for the U.S. It would therefore appear necessary to limit public awareness of the scientific consensus to ensure that little action is taken to curb greenhouse gas emissions. Over the last two decades, the fossil fuel industry, employing a team of global warming skeptics, has managed to do just this. The energy industry seems well aware that a confused public vacillates, leading to the “business as usual” scenario whereby little political pressure is exerted to take steps on global warming....(full article

Wal-Mart Under Attack 

by Shepherd Bliss

A withering barrage of criticism of Wal-Mart this year seems to be taking a toll on the world’s largest retail chain store. The new documentary Wal-Mart: The High Cost of Low Prices by Robert Greenwald presents evidence that the giant pays poor wages, offers inadequate health benefits, overworks its employees without paying overtime, and does not allow workers to unionize. The film asserts that Wal-Mart destroys family life, does not provide security in its parking lots, and strangles communities and local economies when it comes to town.  It shows sweatshops in places like China, Bangladesh and Latin America where Wal-Mart’s cheap goods are produced by people paid as little as 13 to 17 cents an hour or $3 a day. Meanwhile, the corporation’s sales last year were a record $258 billion and it made more than $10 billion in profits from the work of its 1.2 million employees. Wal-Mart CEO Lee Scott is reported to earn $27 million a year. The film claims that the average Wal-Mart hourly employee makes slightly over $13,000 a year. So many rely for survival on public assistance programs, such as Medicaid and food stamps....(full article)

Neocons 'R' Bushed: The Final Days of the PNAC Cabal 
by Ingmar Lee

On November 30, an exhausted looking George Bush, "Commander-in Chief," strutted up to the faux-riveted, banner-emblazoned and Hitleresque war-stump and dictated his latest "Plan for Victory" in Iraq. Apparently, the crotch-strapped President's famous "Mission Accomplished" victory declaration was a little premature because the slaughtering work of spreading freedom in Iraq will not end on his watch without "complete victory." So Bush was back before his favorite audience, this time a fawning full-house of sworn-allegiance, duty-bound, invite-only Naval Academy midshipmen, to explain to the increasingly disgruntled “Land of the Free” how he intends to prosecute his on-going atrocity in Iraq. In all of America, Bush could not have chosen a less critical, more muzzled and gullible crowd to peddle his pullout from the quagmire. No embarrassing outbursts from this plebeian crowd, only rapturous ovation on every cue. Nevertheless, Bush stumbled immediately by pointing out the military record of his Neocon crony, Rubberstamp Rumsfeld, who was sitting in the audience. This only emphasized to everyone the chickenhawk President's own sorry AWOL military desertion and his "VEEP-for-torture's" five deferments. The cowardly hypocrisy of it all hung in the mind's eye for the duration of the oration. One wonders what went through the minds of the midshipmen, whose "Honor Concept" code of ethics states that "Midshipmen are persons of integrity: who stand for that which is right. They tell the truth and ensure that the full truth is known. They do not lie, cheat or steal." What were they thinking, these future torturers, cluster-bombers, DU and Willy Pete dispensers, as they listened to, and dutifully applauded their Commander-in-Chief?
(full article)

Life on Death Row
by Walter A. Davis

Unless Governor Schwarzenegger grants clemency Stanley “Tookie” Williams will be executed at San Quentin on December 13th. (Those who do not know about Williams and his work should consult And for a petition on his behalf and other actions see One reason arguments for clemency based on rehabilitation so often fall on deaf ears is our lack of knowledge of what it is like to live on death row and what happens existentially to human beings in that situation. (I’m hopeful that I can find some way to get this essay into Governor Schwarzenegger’s hands. And any help from readers will be appreciated. The holiday season begins: wouldn’t it be wonderful if this year some of it were about peace on earth and good will toward all human beings?) The following essay takes the form of a dramatic monologue. It is based on two meetings I had in May of 2005 with a man who’s been on death row in San Quentin for the past 15 years. The meetings (one lasting 75 minutes; the other two hours) were face to face in booths over a telephone with a plexi-glass partition between us. I was not permitted to take either pencil and paper or a tape recorder to the meetings. Indeed, had the authorities known I planned to write this work I would not have been permitted inside San Quentin. Additionally, I met with the lawyer who represented the inmate in the appeals process for 10 years, a private investigator who does field work in connection with the appeals process, and an attorney who has done extensive work documenting conditions within California’s prisons. I also read the court transcripts of the inmate’s original trial and penalty phase trial as well as a number of secondary sources on prison life. The inmate’s appeal of the death sentence is now at the Federal level. For that reason I have been advised by attorneys not to use his name and to take other steps to disguise his identity. Within the terms of that restriction what follows is a factually complete document. There are, of course, over 600 inmates currently on death row in San Quentin....(full article)

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