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(DV) January 2006 Articles

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January 30

If This Be Treason
by Patricia Goldsmith 

While I do not know, as of this writing, whether Democrats will muster a filibuster of the Alito nomination, I have no doubt that this vote will follow senators around, for good or for ill, for the rest of their lives, in the same way that Colin Powell’s infamous powdered-sugar presentation to the UN will follow him to the grave -- and for similar reasons. When Alito gets in, things are going to change. Our whole way of life, in fact. The New York Times seems to have realized this at the eleventh hour, for whatever mysterious but welcome reason. The Times, along with the rest of the media, has, up to now, done everything they could to assist the administration in the gradual accommodation of the American people to new ways and new views. Milton Mayer, who wrote about the Nazi takeover of Germany from the point of view of the average citizen (They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1938-45 University of Chicago Press, 1955), described it so perfectly it’s eerie....(full article)

Tax Breaks for the Wealthy
by Gene C. Gerard 

On January 1, Congress allowed two tax breaks that benefit the wealthy to become effective.  The cuts eliminated current provisions of the tax code that limits the amount of personal exemptions and itemized deductions that Americans with high incomes can take. Over the course of the next five years the tax cuts will cost approximately $27 billion, according to a study by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Ironically, Republicans in Congress, only two weeks before the cuts took effect, voted to reduce domestic spending on programs affecting the poor and the middle class by $39 billion over the next five years....(full article)

A Thought-Provoking Coincidence: Hamas Wins While Others
Commemorate the First "International Holocaust Memorial Day"
by Gary Zatzman

For some people, universal principles can always be safely applied, without reference to the historical passage of time, to sort out an ethical, acceptable position because... well, because they're universal. Thus -- universally -- it has been, and remains to date, unacceptable to approve or comply with the destruction of entire peoples. Keeping this in mind, and reviewing what is historically specific (and what is historically generic) about the European Judeocide, a number of questions arise. Curiously, the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian legislative elections last week coincided with commemoration of the first International Holocaust (= European Judeocide) Memorial Day. Some believe this moment particularly propitious to strike out, in Tony Blair fashion, onto some "third way," neither "Holocaust" exploiting nor "Holocaust" denying. Does it assist the cause of Humanity today, however, to equate exploiters and deniers of the Judeocide? Or, does it undermine that section of our collective Humanity which remains burdened with having to resist another genocidal attempt on its Right to Be? (full article)

Remembering with Shame and Horror
by Kim Petersen

January 27 was marked by a special session of the United Nations General Assembly: the first observance of the International Day of Commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust. Kofi Annan spoke via satellite transmission to the UN General Assembly. The UN secretary general’s prioritizing of which events to attend conveyed a strange symbolism. Annan ostensibly chose to hobnob with the economic “elites” in Davos, Switzerland rather than attend the special commemorative session in the General Assembly. Nevertheless, Annan was in feisty form to mouth, via satellite transmission, the banalities of the interests he so grandiloquently serves....(full article)

Understanding Root Causes
by Charles Sullivan

Imagine, if you will, that you are fielding a baseball team. You are a player on a team that possesses immense talent. Your opponent has never lost a game. The opposition is undefeated not because its players are superior to your own, but because it makes the rules of the game to assure its own victory. It wins because your team has to play by a fixed set of rules that it does not. Although you have an excellent pitcher on the mound, the strike zone is microscopic and in constant flux. Your opponent’s pitcher, however, enjoys a huge strike zone. Your opponent also owns all of the umpires officiating the contest. Who but a fool would play such a game with the expectation of competing, much less winning? The outcome of that game, no matter how well your team performs, has already been determined. To participate in such a charade is an exercise in futility. Those of us who demand a better America find ourselves the unwitting participants in just such a game. We are in good faith trying to operate in a system that is inherently unjust. Corporate lobbyists have overrun the capitol, as well as every branch of government, including the judiciary. Corporations lord immense power over both people and process, when they should be servants to the people. Legislation is sold to the highest bidder. Workers, comprising some ninety percent of the populace, have no representation or protection against the industry predators that exploits them. We are bound by rules that our rulers are not. We cannot possibly compete in this system; much less create democratic freedoms and equality. The system operates on monetary capital, not moral capital. The system does not deserve our loyalty or our participation. The time has come to create a new game with a level playing field. Working people are weary of serving “The Man.”....(full article)

Fictionalizing the New World Order:
A Review of Andre Vltchek’s
Point of No Return 
by Lila Rajiva

A certain piquancy in the phrasing hints that the author of Point of No Return is not a native speaker. This is Czech-American journalist Andre Vltchek’s first novel in English and the fact adds to the color of an unpretentious but supple narrative that takes us swiftly through the underbelly of the New World Order....(full article)

January 27

Bravo Abbas! Bravo Hamas!
by Gabriel Ash

Elections results in the Occupied Territories show that Fatah has lost its majority in the Palestinian parliament by a stunningly large margin. This is a transformational event with lasting geopolitical importance, for Hamas and Fatah, for Palestinians and Israelis, and for the world.....(full article)

Using the Troops as a Yoke
by E. R. Bills 

In the January 24, 2006 edition of the LA Times, Joel Stein made the incredibly relevant point that when we say we support the troops but not the war, we give “soft acquiescence” to the politicians who started this war under false pretenses and continue to conduct it shabbily (at best). For this reason, Stein posits, he doesn’t support our troops. It goes without saying that this gutsy conclusion is drawing fire from every corner of the country. Conservative columnist Michelle Malkin classified Stein “one of the most loathsome people in America.” People are threatening to beat him up, telling him to leave the country, calling him slime, etc., etc. But dog-piling Stein isn’t going to change the logic of his thoughts. Lauding the efforts of the troops in a war we simultaneously condemn is blatantly non sequitur. It’s safer and more patriotically correct, but it’s ambiguous, hypocritical and politically spineless. They say the soldiers of Nazi Germany were whisked up by a spell of nationalism that approached a communal neurosis, that they were just doing what they were told, serving their country. Did doing their duty for their country and their fellow countrymen absolve them of the social, political and moral results? (full article)

Refute the Policies of Bush and Clinton --
Declare War on the Nationalist-Globalist Class
by John Stanton

The cornerstone of America’s strength is its system of universal public and private education. America’s education system is the true melting pot of America. It brings together Americans from all walks of life: parents, guardians, students, educators, first generation Americans, the rich and the poor, the bright and challenged. The education system houses America’s greatest resource -- its youth. The industry most deserving of the moniker critical infrastructure/vital to national security is not some power company or defense contractor, it is the American system of education. It produces America’s greatest product: informed and tolerant, open-minded young citizens. But that’s collapsing too. And if that is allowed to happen, the country will surely perish from within....(full article)

The Black Gay Dollar: Ignored and Overlooked
by Herndon L. Davis

As we head into Black History Month, corporations and their advertising arms will once again pledge their allegiance to cultural diversity in a continual effort to strategically target the estimated $852 billion (2007) African American marketplace. However, there's also a thriving sub-segment of the African American community that has scarcely been acknowledged and rarely marketed to as a lucrative market niche: the black gay community. Currently this segment is experiencing an explosion of black gay themed books, magazines, movies and television shows; hence, America's black gay presence is beginning to make waves within the world of advertising and beyond.....(full article)

Eggs Roll, Eyes Roll 
by John Crabtree-Ireland

In mid-January, the Associated Press published a report on the controversy currently brewing between America's religious right and families headed by gay parents. The issue? Whose children should be allowed to participate in the White House's annual Easter Egg Roll this April? The Family Pride Coalition invited its members to attend and numerous religious fundamentalist groups sprang into action. Even the White House has weighed in.....(full article)

Zionism in Boston
by Richard Hugus

With few people being aware of it, the state of Israel has established key outposts in Boston, Massachusetts. It is customary for other countries to maintain embassies and consulates in large cities in the US, but in Boston, Israel, in addition to its consulate, and on top of its Anti-Defamation League and its Combined Jewish Philanthropies, also has two unique, nationally known organizations working especially for its interests. They are CAMERA -- the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America -- and the David Project Center for Jewish Leadership....(full article

January 26

The Nuclear “Threat” At the End of the Age of Petroleum
by Zbignew Zingh

It is still an unanswered question who ginned up the fake Niger “yellow cake” memorandum that underlay the case for invading Iraq, and who outed Valerie Plame is still not definitively known. Yet barely three years after America invaded and occupied Iraq on the false pretense that it was developing atomic weapons, the Administration, once again, is clanging the nuclear alarm bells. . . . There are at least five reasons why the West, and America in particular, fears a nuclear Iran, even if it is only pursuing nuclear power generation.....(full article)

Grasshoppers, Oxen, & Coconuts: Grassroots Responses to Peak Oil
by Shepherd Bliss

This essay was intended to be serious, but with a lighter touch than most writing on Peak Oil. Perhaps we can develop more creative writing about oil descent and even Peak Oil humor. With its own unique ways of talking story and local humor, perhaps Hawaii’s contribution to the growing global discussion and activism around oil depletion will include looking at them with some island humor.....(full article)

Other Shoe Dropping on Classified Leaks and Journalists
by Norman Solomon

Ever since the disclosure of Valerie Plame’s identity as an undercover CIA operative in July 2003, prominent Democrats have denounced that leak -- often with some kind of rhetoric about the sanctity of classified information. But reverence for keeping such information secret is dangerous. And so is the claim that sometimes the government should put journalists in jail to ferret out leakers....(full article)

Big Brother is Watching You
by Nicole Colson

In the name of fighting the “war on terror,” the Bush administration says that it has to take steps here at home to protect us. Fighting terrorism comes before protecting civil liberties, goes the argument. As White House strategist Karl Rove told the Republican National Committee last week, “President Bush believes if al-Qaeda is calling somebody in America, it is in our national security interest to know who they're calling and why.” But as each new scandal about secret spying and government targeting of immigrants and peaceful protesters comes to light, it’s clearer than ever that the government’s idea of “protecting” U.S. citizens at home involves shredding our civil liberties. Nicole Colson looks at what’s at stake in the Bush administration’s attack on our rights....(full article)

Paved With Good Intentions: Iraq Body Count (Part One)
by Media Lens

On the rare occasions when the issue of civilian casualties is discussed in the mainstream media three words are invariably mentioned: Iraq Body Count (IBC). IBC describes itself as a project which maintains “the world’s only independent and comprehensive public database of media-reported civilian deaths in Iraq that have resulted from the 2003 military intervention by the USA and its allies.” IBC is often described as an “anti-war” website -- the home page shows an ominous photograph of a Stealth bomber dropping a stick of bombs. The words above the picture were spoken by General Tommy Franks: “We don’t do body counts.” Below, we find US General Mark Kimmitt's advice to Iraqis who see TV images of innocent civilians killed by coalition troops: “Change the channel.” This does indeed suggest an intense critical focus on suffering caused by British and US forces. . . . IBC is also important because its figures for civilian deaths in Iraq have been used by the British and American governments, and by the media, to attack or dismiss higher estimates in other studies....(full article)

Diplomacy As a Real Option: Avoiding Iraq Fallout with Iran
by Ramzy Baroud

The Iranian government is by no definition a model of democracy or human rights, in a region that in its entirety fails to present such a model. However, aside from occasional and emotionally charged pronouncements, Iran’s behavior since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 provides little evidence that could explain the US-led panic over the country’s nuclear program....
(full article)

War with Iran: It’s More Than Nuclear
by Joshua Frank

Secretary of State Condi Rice doesn't think the United States and European Union should continue talking to Iran about their potential nuke development. Diplomacy should end and the UN Security Council must now take action, she says. Rice admitted to reporters on January 23, that dialogue between Iran and the international community had come to a "dead end." "I don't see much room for further discussion in any format," Rice huffed. Of course, the US's true intentions for going after Tehran may have more to do with what’s hidden beneath Iran's arid soil than their nuclear ambitions....(full article)

Whitman's Last Victim's Right to Die
by E.R. Bills

On August 1, 1966 David H. Gunby was a 23-year-old engineering student at the University of Texas, studying at the campus library. When he finished studying and went to leave, he realized he’d left a book behind. He went back to get it and then exited the campus library into the Tower courtyard. As he crossed the courtyard, he became one of Charles Whitman’s first victims. Whitman shot him in the lower left side of his back. As he lay on the ground wounded, he could see Whitman up in the Tower. When other students attempted to run out and help him, Gunby waved them off. He knew Whitman would fire at anyone else that appeared out in the open.....(full article)

Medicare Drug Disaster:
Seniors Cut Off in Debut of Washington’s Prescription Drug Benefit
by Chris Murphy

The great hidden scandal in Washington is the disastrous debut of the Medicare prescription drug benefit. When it was pushed through Congress in 2003, its Republican sponsors -- along with plenty of Democrats -- promised that recipients of the federal government’s Medicare health care program for seniors would finally be protected from skyrocketing drug prices. But even with two years to get ready, the new system broke down following its January 1 launch date. Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients have showed up at pharmacies and discovered that their old drug benefits were cancelled, but the new program doesn’t have them listed. More than two dozen state governments have taken emergency action to try to help seniors being forced to choose between buying food and paying for prescription drugs. Chris Murphy is a social worker in Rhode Island who aids senior citizens and low-income families in accessing federal and state pharmaceutical assistance programs, as well as volunteer opportunities, entitlements and other social service programs. Here, Chris gives a front lines report on the catastrophic launch of the prescription drug benefit -- and explains that this “reform” legislation was written by drug companies to pump up their profits....(full article)

McCarthyism at the U 
by Bill Willers 

On January 19, the London Guardian published an article on a right-wing organization at the University of California-Los Angeles and its project to monitor and profile “radical” professors. The group’s website,, explains what is required of spies for a $100 payment: "Full, detailed lecture notes, all professor-distributed materials, and full tape recordings of every class session, for one class: $100 (Note: lecture notes must make particular note of audience reactions, comments, and other details that will properly contextualize the professor’s non-pertinent ideological comments. If the class in question is ongoing or upcoming, will provide (if needed) all necessary taping equipment and materials.)".....(full article)

How Hot Does it Have to Get? 
by Lucinda Marshall

My new calendar has a picture of an ice-covered Alaskan wilderness preserve. My throat catches every time I glance at its breathtaking beauty, and I make a mental note to go see this beautiful place soon, before the ice melts. It is no longer possible to relegate global warming to a theoretical possibility. It is reality. It is 60-degree days in January when it should be six degrees above (in the city where I live, temperatures are running more than ten degrees above normal this month). It is the slowing Gulf Stream, the melting ice.  It is the droughts in Africa and Oklahoma, in the Himalayas and the Amazon.  It is the rising seas and hurricanes and tsunamis that decimate cities and villages in Indonesia and Louisiana. It is the highest carbon dioxide levels in 650,000 years and the fish and plankton that are dying in the warming seas....(full article)

Munich: No Dialogue Allowed
by John Zavesky

The question: “What’s the matter with Munich?” was posed by a Los Angeles Times Calendar cover story. The answer to the newspaper’s query and accompanying article is very simple; Steven Spielberg and playwright Tony Kurshner chose to make the wrong film. When it comes to all things critical of Israel western media in general and the American media in particular become extremely defensive even to the point of libelous at times in their counter-attacks on the subject and its author. The legal and censorship attacks on award winning British playwright Jim Allen by Zionist organizations which ultimately had his play Perdition banned from performance in England in 1987 is one of the best examples of a well orchestrated effort to keep a work of art critical of Zionism and Israel from being viewed by the public.....(full article)

Weaving the "Why?" Strands: The Bushevik Tapestry 
by Bernard Weiner

OK, let's try to puzzle out together some recent political events. The unifying thread will appear; it always does because it's always there, even if sometimes out of conscious reach. 1. Why would the Bush Administration deliberately break the law by engaging in electronic surveillance of Americans without getting the required court warrants? (full article)

General William Odom Supports the US Empire
ut Opposes the Iraq War
by Kevin Zeese

Retired General William Odom, who served as a national security adviser to President Ronald Reagan, spoke last Thursday to the Committee for the Republic in Washington, DC. He described the Iraq War as a historic blunder that the United States should end. Most of General Odom's presentation dealt with his new book The Unintentional Empire published by Yale University Press. This academic book focuses on the role of the United States as an empire. General Odom sees mainly good coming out of the U.S. empire and evidenced this by highlighting how countries want to be part of the empire, share in the wealth we create and the liberal democracy we have developed. He describes the U.S. empire as an ideological empire, not a territorial one. And, unlike other empires in history, it is a moneymaking not a money-losing empire. He sees other institutions, like the WTO, IMF and World Bank as part of the system and notes that they were created by the U.S. Finally, he sees the role of the U.S. military as projecting our power and influence as well as keeping peace among our allies. “The military umbrella,” according to Odom, “is critical to sustaining the empire.”....(full article)

In Clear Sight of Yad Vashem
by Paul Eisen 

Over the years, our attention has been drawn to the close proximity of the village of Deir Yassin to the Jewish Holocaust memorial at Yad Vashem. Jews have been encouraged to visit Deir Yassin, the symbolic starting point of nearly six decades of Palestinian dispossession, and from there to look across to Yad Vashem.  Palestinians (if only they could!) have also been asked to visit Yad Vashem -- the symbol of Jewish suffering -- and to look across the valley toward the birth site of their own tragedy. Everybody was happy. Jews of conscience were of course pleased to see Jewish suffering again at the centre of the discourse but also happy to extend their narrative of suffering to include Palestinians. Palestinians were perhaps less pleased at having -- yet again -- to acknowledge Jewish suffering in order to help achieve their own liberation, but they recognized the importance of the publicity that the link between Deir Yassin and Yad Vashem brought to their cause.....(full article)

January 24

Riding the Tale of the Elephant:
How America Kills Iraqi Journalists for Their Own Good
by Lila Rajiva

Michael Schrage, a former Washington Post columnist and current MIT security studies maven recently penned a column in the Outlook section of the Washington Post about the US strategy of paying Iraqi journalists to place stories favorable to the US in the media. The strategy, originally revealed by the LA Times on December 2005, provoked condemnation from journalists as far apart as Christopher Hitchens, leftist addition to the militerati, and Alexander Cockburn. An egregious breach of journalistic ethics was the consensus view. “Enough already,” says Schrage in his Post piece. “Securing positive coverage for our troops in Iraq can be as important to their safety as "up-armoring" vehicles and providing state-of-the-art body armor. The failure to wage the media war is a failure to command.” To the extent that Schrage is arguing that massaging the news is not a recent development for the military, he is right. Fake news is not new. It’s been part of military offensives since Neanderthal man first tricked his neighbor and clubbed him over the head....(full article)

Goodbye Terry Gross, We Never Knew Ye:
On Liberal Media Denial
by Joe Bageant

Having come to understand that mainstream media are in the business of selling fried chicken and cars, giving Wall Street head, and stealing bandwidth from the public’s airwaves, none of us expect them to question anything afoot in the empire. We quite understand they cannot be wasting profitable air time on a nation whose collective memory is 30 seconds long. So we watch them pull their punches and wait for the commercials, which are their whole point anyway. If, god forbid, you are the pointy-headed type interested in details, turn on NPR. And if you consider yourself hipper than the couch taters out here in Budland, go onto the net and visit Or if you are so worldly and hip that you are a downright commie, then subscribe to Mother Jones. That’s the way it used to be. But now we are seeing what were once considered the more intelligent and, in some cases, more principled media such as NPR, Salon and Mother Jones distancing themselves from meaningful controversy -- pulling the few wimpy punches they have. (Bullshit controversy, however, is still in fashion.) We are talking about Mark Crispin Miller’s new book, Fooled Again: How the Right Stole the 2004 Election and Why They’ll Steal the Next One, Too (Unless We Stop Them). Miller has become a known and respected progressive figure, one of the few in-your-face bespectacled lefty author types with any credibility. But when it comes to promoting Fooled, the guy can’t even get arrested. No interviews, nothing. In fact, these days even his cash bounces -- Miller can’t even buy a spot on National Public Radio for his book. Now you may be saying to yourself: “Public Radio doesn’t sell advertising.” Which would make you one of those delusional souls who believe that shameless brand hawking by the oil companies and the financial establishment on NPR is not advertising. I mean, after all, ADM and Wal-Mart? NPR has sales people out chasing these sponsors. They sell these damned announcements. The only difference between NPR’s “paid sponsorships” and the puke jock shows’ commercial radio ads is that the NPR folks don’t have a real rate card. Which is either stupid or brilliant, I’m not sure....(full article)

Iran’s Oil Exchange Threatens the Greenback   
by Mike Whitney

The Bush administration will never allow the Iranian government to open an oil exchange (bourse) that trades petroleum in euros. If that were to happen, hundreds of billions of dollars would come flooding back to the United States crushing the greenback and destroying the economy. This is why Bush and Co. is planning to lead the nation to war against Iran. It is straightforward defense of the current global system and the continuing dominance of the reserve currency, the dollar....(full article)

Tre Arrow and ELF: Radical Environmentalism on Death Row
by Joshua Frank

The government drops bombs on kids in the Middle East, while a handful of activists torch some yuppie ski resort in Colorado: Bush gets reelected and the radical environmentalists are issued warrants. Where the hell is the justice? On Friday, January 20, eleven environmentalists accused of acting on behalf of the Earth Liberation Front (ELF) and the Animal Liberation Front (ALF) were named in a 65-count Federal indictment that included numerous charges of arson and destruction of an energy facility. The events described in the indictments took place in Oregon, Washington, Wyoming, California and Colorado. The FBI had infiltrated them....(full article)

Bush Chose Iraq Over America’s Homeless
by Gene C. Gerard

According to a Congressional report on the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the agency made an estimated $1.4 billion in improper payments in 2003, the last year for which financial records are available. The report found that $896 million was made in overpayments, and $519 million in underpayments, as a result of systematic errors at HUD. The overpayments could have subsidized housing for more than all the homeless in New York City. Although the Government Accountability Office (the bipartisan investigative unit of Congress) advised the Bush administration in 2001 that owing to “waste, fraud, and abuse… HUD’s rental assistance programs [are at] high risk,” the administration failed to take action. It appears that as the Bush administration focused increasingly on the war in Iraq, America’s homeless suffered.....(full article)  

What Kind of Antiwar Movement?
by Reza Fiyouzat

An article by JoAnn Wypijewski entitled, What is an Antiwar Movement (CounterPunch, January 14-15, 2006), shows clearly a few blind spots of the US Left. It is therefore necessary to address these blind spots. Wypijewski starts her article with all guns blazing against Lenni Brenner who, in an earlier article on CounterPunch, The War within the Antiwar Movement (January 10, 2006), had suggested that some meaningful discussions regarding Zionism and Imperialism were needed in order to give the antiwar movement a clearer direction. I will not make a comparison here between what he said versus what she said. Instead, I want to concentrate on how Wypijewski pursues her specific line of argument. I believe that some major problems that are common to a large segment of the U.S. Left are crystallized well in her article.....(full article)

Talking Revolution
by Charles Sullivan

Not only is it a disgrace that a nation endowed with the enormous wealth of the US neglects the working class and the poor -- it is morally reprehensible, even criminal. Some of our founding fathers did not believe in equality -- a fact they neglected to tell us in history class. There was much debate about whether or not non-property owners would have the right to vote or to govern. The original intent of some was to create a plutocracy in which those with wealth and property would govern those without. The first inhabitants of what is now America were never included in the equation; nor were non-whites or women. How could this be called democracy? (full article)

2005: A Year of Maoist Resurgence
by Gary Leupp

The year 2005 was a good one for the Maoist movement, the most vigorous trend within what remains of the communist movement that transformed the globe in the twentieth century. Four episodes in the four countries most affected by Maoist organizations should suffice to establish that Marxism-Leninism its Maoist form not only remains a factor in global affairs, but also is rapidly gaining in strength and significance.....(full article)  

Bechtel vs. Bolivia: The People Win!
by Jim Schultz

The Cochabamba water revolt -- which began exactly six years ago this month -- will end this morning when Bechtel, one of the world’s most powerful corporations, formally abandons its legal effort to take $50 million from the Bolivian people. Bechtel made that demand before a secretive trade court operated by the World Bank, the same institution that coerced Bolivia to privatize the water to begin with. Faced with protests, barrages of e-mails, visits to their homes, and years of damaging press, Bechtel executives finally decided to surrender, walking away with a token payment equal to thirty cents. That retreat sets a huge global precedent....(full article)

Hamas: Sharon's Legacy?
by Neve Gordon

Both the Israeli and Palestinian political arenas are in turmoil. In Israel, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's stroke has left the country and his newly established party, Kadima, in disarray. In the Palestinian territories, the ruling Fatah party is rapidly losing popular support, and the Islamist party Hamas is gaining ground. Paradoxically, Hamas' steady ascent is part of Sharon legacy, while its imminent victory in the upcoming elections will help Israel's new leader transform Sharon's political vision into reality.....(full article)

US Public Interest and the Palestinian Elections
by Mazin Qumsiyeh

The Palestinian elections are just one small move in the bigger game in the Middle East with deadly consequences that go beyond the people in this troubled part of the world. The majority of Palestinians are ironically excluded from this vote: the 1.3 million Palestinians inside the so-called Green Line and the millions of refugees outside of Palestine/Israel. The minority of Palestinians voting are those living under Israeli military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza. President Bush said once that elections under foreign occupations are meaningless. He was referring to Lebanon and the presence of Syrian troops. He was not challenged to explain Iraq and Palestinian “elections”. 450,000 colonial Jewish settlers are interspersed among the 3.5 million native Palestinians (Christians and Muslims) allowed to “vote”. There are also tens of thousands of Israeli troops manning some 300 checkpoints and gates in walls and fences that encircle ever-shrinking Palestinian cantons....(full article)

Pants on Fire
by Peter Kurth

All right, maybe you’ve heard enough about James Frey and the whopping, wicked lies he told about himself in his mega-selling memoir, A Million Little Pieces.  Frey’s was the ultimate confessional blockbuster, an “Oprah’s Book Club” pick and blazing ray of hope to untold numbers of recovering alcoholics, addicts, ne’er-do-wells, soul-searchers and narcissists -- at least 3.5 million people, which is how many copies A Million Little Pieces is reported to have sold in hardcover.  What Oprah herself had sanctified as “a gut-wrenching memoir” turns out to be a tissue of … er … untruths. Or maybe you haven’t heard anything at all about James Frey. Maybe you’ve been too busy keeping your eye on your job, the kids, your credit rating, Judge Cashman, that pervert down the street and those ever-rising gas prices. Maybe you’re old or disabled, and you’ve been too worried about your new, improved Medicare drug benefits to concern yourself with fancy “literary” scandals. Either way, I’m sick of the story. So much media wind has been expended on Frey and his shocking crimes against the Truth that I can't keep up with all the commentary. And what difference does it make?  Most Americans, it seems, don't mind being lied to....(full article)

January 19

Privatizing New Orleans
by Jordan Flaherty

“I can’t stand it anymore, being lifted up and then smacked down again, just when we were all trying so hard to experience hope,” a friend tells me. She was one of several people I know who were bystanders to Saturday’s shootings in New Orleans. Last weekend, revelers filled the streets for one of our city’s most vital cultural traditions, the second-line -- a roving street celebration put on by New Orleans community institutions known as Social Aid and Pleasure Clubs. This second-line was the biggest anyone I spoke to had seen, put on by 30 different Clubs. Many people came from out of town just for the day, and during the parade thousands were chanting, “we’re back, we’re back!” The day of hope and celebration was shattered when, towards the end of the route, three people were shot in three separate incidents on Orleans Avenue between Claiborne and Broad, in the Treme, a Black neighborhood with a long history and culture of resistance....
(full article)

20 Questions for Judge Alito: The Hearing the People Didn’t Hear
by Gary Steven Corseri

Setting: Inner Sanctum of Senate Chambers. The Hearing has just convened. Characters: The usual gaggle of senators and their hangers-on; Judge Alito and his wife; no photographers, no recording devices. Microphones are decorative only....(full transcript)

In Defense of Progressive Values
by Charles Sullivan

Make no bones about it -- I am a bona fide dyed in the wool progressive. I make no apologies. I am proud to be a progressive. It was progressives, not the party of big business that gave us social security, Medicare and unemployment insurance. It was progressives who championed virtually every increase in the minimum wage. It is progressives who are fighting for a living wage law. We must allowing neo-conservatives to define who we are. Progressives know who we are and what we stand for. If we are not overtly proud of the contributions of progressives to society we are not worthy of the name.....(full article)

Yankee Hindutva: Indian Jim Crow in “Victim” Garb 
by Raja Swamy

2005 has been a terrible year for the human rights of African Americans in the United States. Facing assaults on livelihoods, falling incomes, rampant police violence and brutality, cuts in social spending and a generally cruel and undisguised contempt from the reactionary Bush administration, African Americans will remember 2005 as the year that saw the destruction of the great city of New Orleans, first by the hurricane (made possible by years of neglect and siphoning of levee funds to the “war on terror”), followed by the cruel racism of the state, media and mainstream white society as survivors were classified as “looters”, “holdouts” and “thugs”, which opened the way for a full-scale forcible displacement of the African American population of the city. To date, the city’s whiter and affluent residents have received far more generosity and care from the government, corporations and mainstream media than have African Americans. Worse, most of the city’s poorest residents, overwhelmingly African American, are being deliberately kept out of their city, their homes and residences targeted for bulldozing and sale through the use of nefarious means reflective of the worst legacies of racist America. This means then that the struggle of African Americans for equality and justice in America is not a historical event lodged in the past but an ongoing and present reality necessitated by institutionalized racism and oppression. This is where the comparison between African Americans and immigrant communities becomes a problematic issue. As bad as any form of racism is, it is a stretch for instance to suggest that the treatment of Indian Americans is comparable to the oppression of African Americans. But it is a bizarre departure from reality when a supremacist movement represented by a well-funded, very affluent section of the immigrant Indian American community claims to be oppressed like African Americans, especially when this claim is couched not in the aftermath of some terrible episode of racial violence or institutionalized brutality, but in the context of an effort to rewrite middle-school history textbooks in California.....(full article)

The Crime of Giving the Orders
by Norman Solomon

Legalized killing requires official justifications. The execution of Clarence Ray Allen was no exception. A prosecutor explained that “he masterminded the murders of three innocent young people and conspired to attack the heart of our criminal justice system.” And California’s governor was stern when he denied a clemency request for the 76-year-old prisoner....(full article)

Spreading War, Not Democracy
by Joshua Frank

The Bush Administration and their Democratic allies believe that the war in Iraq and now Iran is in Israel’s interest.  “If you're a supporter of Israel, I would strongly urge you to help other countries become democracies,” President Bush was quoted as saying in the Forward on December 16, 2005. “Israel's long-term survival depends upon the spread of democracy in the Middle East.” Democracy by gunpoint that is....(full article)

Despair Plagues Exiled Palestinians:
Chances for Stability Reduced Dramatically 
by Sam Bahour and Michael Dahan

The 38-year Israeli military occupation of Palestine and 57 years of ongoing Palestinian dispossession at the hands of the State of Israel has brought us to a point of total despair. Today, in 2006, Palestinians have been condensed into pockets of caged-in communities, taking on varying shapes and forms. Over 50 percent of the Palestinian population lives in exile and squalid pockets called refugee camps. Having being forced out of their homeland in 1948, again in 1967, and again in 2002, they eke out a meager existence in the land and countries surrounding Israel (West Bank, Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, etc) and yearn to return home. All of the political activity in the West Bank (including East Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip completely ignore these pockets of people living outside of Israel/Palestine. The end result will be that the majority of Palestinians, those living as refugees and in exile, will not be part of any organized process of governance, and thus the chance for any stability at all has been reduced dramatically....(full article)

Target Iran: A Day at the Arms Races
by Mickey Z.

Since quoting Marx makes a writer appear both more educated and more serious, I figured I'd start this piece about Iran with a bit of Marxism...from "Duck Soup." Ambassador Trentino: "I am willing to do anything to prevent this war." President Rufus T. Firefly (Groucho): "It's too late. I've already paid a month's rent on the battlefield." Now I'm not trying to imply the reasons America goes to war are this frivolous but...WMDs? Hussein connected to 9/11? Spreading democracy? Even Harpo would be laughing out loud....(full article)

The Gulliberal Problem
by Ernest Partridge

Meet the “gulliberals” (pronounced GULlibruls): prominent Democrats, liberals, and progressives who have ears to hear but hear not, eyes to see but see not, and brains to understand but will not. Included among the gulliberals are Al Franken, Paul Begalla, Arianna Huffington, David Corn, Bernie Sanders, some writers for and Mother Jones; admirable individuals all, who are laboring valiantly to overthrow the GOP in the next (alleged) election. Yet they are also unwitting allies with the Republican National Committee, as they say, with the GOP, “the elections were honest, so get over it!”.....(full article)

“Shallow Throat”: Do Dems Have a Death-Wish?
by Bernard Weiner

“Shallow Throat” joined me at a mostly-deserted park in Virginia, bursting with anger. I didn't even have to ask a question before the rage exploded out: “I can't believe your Democrat friends are blowing it once again! The Bushies are imploding in one scandal after another, it's dictator-time, the Republicans are tarred by the Abramoff corruption brush, more attacks on Mideast countries are coming soon, Bush ordered spying on Americans with no court permission, impeachment momentum is in the air -- and the Dems have let the President off the hook once again! How many times are you going to push that boulder up the steep hill to the top and then let it roll back down again? Do you liberals really have a death-wish?” (full article)

January 17

Scandalology 101
by Patricia Goldsmith

Nothing is more stultifying than one-party rule. It’s a simple rule of perception that unchanging sameness -- they always win, no matter what -- dulls the senses. My feeling is that right now the American people are taking a little breather. They got through the war on Christmas and that’s enough for now. The Dow Jones hit 11,000 for the first time since 9/11. People are drinking more, smoking more, sleeping. Burrowing into their families. Going to see Brokeback Mountain (I highly recommend it). Working. Above all, they are ignoring. They are tuning out the political process, because it is nothing but nonsense and stuff they can’t do anything about. They same is true for activists. Constant focus on the puppets who are out front can only lead to feelings of futility. We have to start thinking about the players behind the scenes. It’s time to go back to the beginning and try to understand our enemy. Time to consider the question, who is the enemy.....(full article)

Wal-Mart Workers Fight Back
by Shepherd Bliss

Three Hawaiians have sued Wal-Mart, their former employer. The class-action suit alleges that “Wal-Mart deleted thousands of hours of time worked from employees payroll records… a practice known as time shaving.” The complaint takes the world’s largest retail store to task “for its knowing and systematic failure to pay its hourly employees for all time worked.”.....
(full article)

King Would Tell Congress to Value Workers
by Holly Sklar

Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was born on the brink of the Great Depression and died fighting for the right of workers to earn a decent living. On March 18, 1968, days before his murder, King told striking sanitation workers in Memphis, Tenn., "It is criminal to have people working on a full-time basis…getting part-time income." King said, "We are tired of working our hands off and laboring every day and not even making a wage adequate with daily basic necessities of life." Two years earlier on March 18, 1966, King had called for Congress to boost the minimum wage. "We know of no more crucial civil rights issue facing Congress today than the need to increase the federal minimum wage and extend its coverage," he said. "A living wage should be the right of all working Americans." King did not dream that in the year 2006, he would be remembered with a national holiday, but the value of the minimum wage would be lower than it was in the 1950s and '60s. At $5.15 an hour, today's minimum wage is nearly $4 less than it was in 1968, when it reached its historic high of $9.09, adjusted for inflation.....(full article)

How the West and the West Bank Were Won
by Jason Miller

As I write to you from the heart of the Midwest, the epicenter of one of history's most egregious and shameful genocides, I watch with horror and moral revulsion as the US military industrial complex underwrites and supports a similar act of social extermination in the Middle East. CNN informed me yesterday that the mighty US military had killed eighteen civilians in Pakistan due to "bad intelligence" in the ongoing "war on terror." As an ally in this "war on terror", Pakistani leaders were justifiably upset. Can you imagine the repercussions if Pakistan had killed eighteen American civilians on US soil in a "strike against terrorists" based on "bad intelligence"? There would certainly be hell to pay. Yet in this instance, the Pakistanis will be lucky to receive an apology. It is NOT terrorism when we do it . . . . While the propaganda, lies, and white-washed accounts in American history books have often portrayed the Native Americans as "savages" who deserved to be "conquered" (while glorifying "how the west was won"), mainstream media frequently inform us of "acts of terrorism" by militant Palestinian individuals and groups. Concurrently, the abhorrent acts of state terrorism committed by the US and Israeli governments are usually presented as "necessary" and "acceptable.”.....(full article)

Bush Abuses Recess Appointment Power
by Gene C. Gerard 

Earlier this month President Bush took advantage of Congress’ winter recess to circumvent the Senate and appoint 17 individuals to various government positions. Article II of the Constitution allows presidents to make temporary appointments without Senate approval; those appointed can serve until the next Congressional elections. The Founding Fathers granted the presidency the power to make recess appointments because prior to the 20th century Congress was in session for less than six months a year, in many instances, and vacancies couldn’t wait until Congress reconvened. However, since the 1980s presidents have used recess appointments for political purposes.....(full article)

Long Live Sharon
by Jaime Omar Yassin

Doubting Muslims, Jews and Christians of the world may now exalt and ululate in their disparate tongues, for the laying low of the wall-eyed ethnic-cleanser known as Ariel Sharon suggests there may indeed be a God progressive monotheists can get behind. Indeed, Sharon's fate seems to fit neatly into “wrath of God” framework in its details; there may be no more a fitting fate for Sharon than to exist in a permanent vegetative state. The Israeli maximalist, who grew fat on a diet of corruption and graft and lived on a ranch built on twice stolen property -- stolen first from Palestinians and then from his own people via a little known homesteader law meant to induce low-income Israeli cannon fodder to populate the outer realms of the new apartheid experiment -- will now waste away before the eyes of all of his supporters, much like, with any luck, their dreams of a greater Israel....(full article)

January 15-16

-- Web Site of the Day --
Narco News, Leaked Memo: Corrupt DEA Agents in Colombia Help Narcos and Paramilitaries. Internal Justice Dept. Document Alleges Drug Trafficking Links, Money Laundering and Conspiracy to Murder

*   *   *   *

MLK Day: Dreams and Nightmares
by Robert Jensen

In Martin Luther King Jr.’s most famous speech, he had a dream. But in another of King’s important addresses, he faced the depth of our nightmare. We all know the famous words -- “I have a dream” -- delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on August 28, 1963: “I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.” On this day that we mark with his name, all over this country, that speech will be played, as it should be. King articulated -- perhaps more eloquently than anyone had to that point -- the demand that the United States make good on the American dream, for all its citizens. But on April 4, 1967, at the Riverside Church in New York City, in a speech titled “Beyond Vietnam,” King spoke just as eloquently of the nightmare that lies underneath that dream. In that speech to Clergy and Laymen Concerned about Vietnam, King not only made a compelling case for ending the U.S. attack on Vietnam, but went beyond that to diagnose a failed society. On this day that we mark with his name, we owe it to King -- and to ourselves -- to face that failure honestly.....(full article)  

Every Generation Has its Heroes, and Every War Wants Them
by Susan Van Haitsma

“Integrity”, according to the Merriam-Webster online dictionary, was the word most frequently accessed by their readers in 2005. This bit of news has interesting implications at this particular time when another I-word is topping the list of many discussions. The report also caught my eye because "integrity" is one of two words I've had on my mind lately. The second, because it appears so often in print these days, is "hero". The definition of "integrity" I find most meaningful comes directly from the word's Latin root, "integer," meaning "to make whole or complete," an origin it shares with the word "entire." A person of integrity strives to model a life of wholeness, to integrate the practice with the preachment, the ends with the means. "Hero" has gone from meaning "god-like" or "demigod" to becoming a term more applicable to the everyday person. Acting with exceptional courage, strength, ability and charity in certain situations, anyone might be a hero. Heroism can come and go, and it can be confused with stardom. Paradoxically, heroes often eschew the pedestal and identify more and more throughout their lives with common people through shared struggle. Instead of aiming to be gods, heroes seek wholeness and integration....(full article)

Rev. Jackson -- Pissing on the Graves of Civil Rights Heroes
by Gabriel Ash

Andrew Goodman was a 21-year-old Jewish anthropology student from New York who went to Mississippi in 1964 to help register black voters. He joined thousands of activists in Freedom Summer, a non-violent challenge to the institutionalized racism of the U.S. South. Goodman was one of the many people who helped bring King’s dream one step closer to reality. But Goodman’s idealism and dedication to justice cost him his life. He was murdered by a white supremacist mob in Philadelphia, Mississippi together with two other activists, the black Mississippian James Chaney (age 21) and a second white New-Yorker, Michael Schwerner (age 24). Last Thursday, Goodman’s mother received a Civil Rights Award from the Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism. Rev. Jesse Jackson spoke at the event, which commemorated Martin Luther King Jr. But not all is well....(full article)

The Countdown to War with Iran   
by Mike Whitney

The media has assumed its traditional role of fanning the flames for war by providing ample space for the spurious allegations by administration officials, right-wing pundits, and disgruntled Iranian exiles, while carefully omitting the relevant facts in Iran’s defense. As always, the New York Times has spearheaded the propaganda war with an article by Richard Bernstein and Steven Weisman that lays out the sketchy case against Iran. In the first paragraph the Bernstein-Weisman combo suggest that Iran has restarted “research that could give it technology to create nuclear weapons.” Nuclear weapons? Perhaps, the NY Times knows something that the IAEA inspectors don’t? If so, they should step forward and reveal the facts. More likely, however, they are simply following in the tradition of mentor Judith Miller whose scurrilous front-page articles misled the nation to war with Iraq. There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. None.....(full article)

More Lies About Iran  
by Mike Whitney

There’s been a lot of rubbish written about Iran’s “removing the seals” from its uranium enrichment equipment. The fearmongering Western media have exploited the expression for all it’s worth. Even those who are normally skeptical of the Bush propaganda machine are taken aback by this ominous sounding phrase. What gibberish! How else does one make nuclear fuel for electric power plants if the fuel-producing mechanism is under lock and key? The fear-engendering description provided in the news would have the reader believe that “diabolical” Iranians are ripping off the seals with crowbars so they can quickly assemble their secret nuclear stockpile to bomb Tel Aviv. This is the worse type of demagoguery....(full article)

Article I, Section 8, and the Law of Nations vs.
The Man Who Would Be King
by David G. Mills

The Law of Nations was a four-book treatise written by a Swiss legal scholar, Emmerich de Vattel, in 1758. Early Supreme Court cases suggest to me that there may have been several other treatises, by other authors, on the Law of Nations, but the one by Vattel was by far the most prominent and authoritative of the time. In reading it, you will find many of the origins of our Declaration of Independence and our Constitution. The third book of Vattel's Law of Nations is about how warfare between nations is to be conducted. Reading many sections of the four books of Vattel's Law of Nations has clearly left me with two impressions.....(full article)

Abramoff Affair Ripples Outward:
The House That Jack Abramoff Built Begins to Crumble
by Bill Berkowitz

On Saturday, January 7, Tom DeLay, the powerful Texas Republican, became the biggest political casualty thus far of L'Affaire Abramoff, as he was forced to resign his post as majority leader of the House of Representatives amid mounting evidence of widespread corruption and influence peddling on Capitol Hill. While not yet specifically named in the ongoing Abramoff investigation, DeLay has been dealing with his own legal troubles. In September, he was indicted by a Texas grand jury for allegedly violating campaign finance laws to help the Republican Party win control of that state's legislature in the 2002 elections. Delay, who will retain his House seat, has already declared his intention to run again in the fall congressional elections. The timing of his resignation as majority leader coincided with the guilty plea last week of longtime associate and friend -- the high-powered GOP lobbyist Jack Abramoff, who over the years has forged relationships with dozens of powerful politicians, mostly Republicans, but a smattering of Democrats as well.....(full article)

-- Poetry --
Here is the Head of Ahmed the Barber
by Gary Steven Corseri

Here is the head of Ahmed the Barber,
calm in the roadway,
propped on the stump of its too-short neck,
with a small, tight grin, eyes closed,
as if in the middle of a joke or a blink.

In front of the head of Ahmed the Barber:
someone else’s sooty hand,
a woman’s dainty foot (toes polished red)
in a circle of left-over parts;
and beyond this oasis of quiet and calm,
rippling waves of terror growing:
Invaders in desert fatigues running;
police barking; children crying; sirens blaring;
old women keening, beating their breasts.

Ahmed the Barber has no harsh words now
(and, truth be told, he never did).
When the Invaders came he shrugged and whispered,
“They will get tired -- then they will go.”.....(full poem

-- Poetry --
by Vi Ransel

The historical record opens

east of the Mediterranean Sea

in the mid-third millennium

circa 2250 B.C.E.


The earth of the Fertile Crescent,

the Cradle of Civilization,

provided the generating spark

that instigated society's creation.....(full poem)

-- Poetry --
Gauguin’s Maiden
by Dan Raphael

A short poetic offering by Dan Raphael.....(full poem)


January 12

Bourgeois Ideology and Contemporary Feminist Dissidence
by Jessica Polish

Youthful feminists today who have not themselves experienced the struggles of the 1960s may feel lacking in cultural resources to claim as their own since the once radically differentiating “edge” fueled by free love, political activism and bohemian lifestyles have been incorporated into the bourgeois mainstream. Drawing on the work of Dick Hebdige and Elizabeth Wilson, it seems that the fact that the adjective “bohemian”, in its contemporary usage, conjures images of celebrities like the Olson twins instead of evoking the deviant identities and subcultures of, say, early 20th century Greenwich Village has profound implications for aspiring social activists today, particularly feminists.....(full article) 

Strong Economy, Weak Workers 
by Seth Sandronsky

The U.S. economy is expanding.  With such strength comes new employment, as President Bush noted after the Jan. 6 jobs report from the Labor Department. The president is absolutely correct.  Economic growth does increase total employment. But does this trend improve the quality of work, meaning wages and benefits? For more information, we turn to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, which analyzed a quarter-century of robust U.S. economic growth (1979–2004) by analyzing data from last March’s Current Population Survey. During that 25-year period, Republican and Democratic presidents sat in the White House. As they governed the nation, the share of U.S. workers with “good jobs,” defined as hourly wages of at least $16.00 ($32,000 annually), plus a retirement pension and employer-paid health care remained the same -- 25 percent.....(full article)

Loss and Displacement at the Calliope
by Jennifer Vitry and Jordan Flaherty

The B.W. Cooper Housing Development -- popularly known as the Calliope projects -- was home to 1,400 African American working-class households in 1,546 units on 56 acres of land. It is the third largest housing development in Louisiana and the largest tenant-managed housing development in the country. Most of the complex was not damaged in Hurricane Katrina or the subsequent flooding. After Hurricane Katrina, residents were scattered throughout the United States, including many in shelters and motels here in Louisiana. Although most of these dispersed residents ache to return to their communities, the Housing Authority of New Orleans (HANO) posted a general notice in the projects informing residents that they may not move back, and some Cooper tenants report receiving notice that they have to clear out their possessions. HANO has also hired a Las Vegas company named Access Denied to install 16-gauge steel plates over windows and doors at B.W. Cooper and other city projects, including the Lafitte projects in the Treme neighborhood. One housing activist remarked, "they finally invested money in the projects, and it’s to keep residents out.".....
(full article)

The Pied Piper of Hamelin, or Sharon’s Enigma
by Baruch Kimmerling

There is a long debate in sociology about the nature and roots of charisma. While Max Weber described it as a special virtue possessed by a gifted person, or conversely as an attribute created by his office, Edward Shills argued that the traits of the person to whom charisma is attributed is irrelevant. Charisma is a basic and desperate need of a deeply troubled society that is seeking a redeemer. My own opinion is that the emergence of a charismatic leader is a conjunction of both a long-lasting state of emergency with a special personal character. This conjunction produces a charismatic situation filled by a charismatic personality. There is no doubt that Israel is a very troubled country, especially since the 1967 war.  In spite of the unprecedented immigration of more than one million of Jews and non-Jews from the former Soviet Union, the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River contains about 5 million Jews (and non-Arabs) and 4.5 million Palestinians (both citizens and non-citizens). This demographic reality transformed Israel into a de facto binational country, an apartheid state.....(full article)

Apartheid in the Middle East
by Kristoffer Larsson

After wiping Palestine off the map and expelling over 700,000 Palestinians from their homes, confiscating the land they've lived on for generations, Israel still had a considerable Palestinian minority within its borders. Set to realize the dream of creating a state for Jews only, which had obviously failed, Apartheid laws were imposed in order to make the non-Jewish citizens of the Jewish state to leave. Many leading human rights defenders have correctly referred to the situation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip as Apartheid. Collective punishment, house demolitions, settlements for Jews only, prices on electricity and water several times higher for Palestinians than Jewish settlers; the Apartheid on the occupied territories is obvious. Still, I find it strange that the inequality for the Palestinians within the state of Israel is neglected. In some perspectives, their rights within Israel proper today are more limited than in the territories conquered in 1967. This is due to the way the state of Israel is set up. When people hear Israel being referred to as a “Jewish state,” they tend to interpret it as if Israel is a state with a Jewish majority. That's true. But there's more to it. The principle of a Jewish state says that Israel “belongs to” the Jewish people, meaning that every Jew has a right to immigrate to Israel while non-Jews don't (unless they marry an Israeli Jew). As a result of this, Israel does not “belong to” any non-Jew, not even its non-Jewish citizens....(full article)

Narcissism, the Public, and the President
by Stephen Soldz

President Bush spoke last week to wounded soldiers at Brooke Army Medical Center and uttered these immortal words, indicating a lack of true appreciation for the suffering of the gravely wounded, often permanently disabled soldiers he was speaking to: "As you can possibly see, I have an injury myself -- not here at the hospital, but in combat with a Cedar. I eventually won. The Cedar gave me a little scratch. As a matter of fact, the Colonel asked if I needed first aid when she first saw me. I was able to avoid any major surgical operations here, but thanks for your compassion, Colonel." At a time when the number of severely wounded soldiers is rising, this lack of appreciation is disturbing and portends badly for adequate resources being made available to care for damaged soldiers and veterans over the coming months, years, and decades. This episode was far from the first time Bush uttered bizarre sounding comments in response to the injuries of others. Who can forget his remarkable message to the hundreds of thousands of people, many poor and black, whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina: "Out of the rubbles of Trent Lott's house -- he's lost his entire house -- there's going to be a fantastic house. And I'm looking forward to sitting on the porch." While Bush's comments to wounded GIs were uttered together with the usual platitudes expected on such occasions, these quotes illustrate Bush's greatest strength and also his greatest weakness, his narcissism.....(full diagnosis)

Bolivia’s Trial by Fire
by Benjamin Dangl

After winning a landslide election victory on December 18th, Bolivian president-elect Evo Morales announced plans to nationalize the country’s gas reserves, rewrite the constitution in a popular assembly, redistribute land to poor farmers and change the rules of the U.S.-led war on drugs in Bolivia. If he follows through on such promises, he’ll face enormous pressure from the Bush administration, corporations and international lenders. If he chooses a more moderate path, Bolivia’s social movements are likely to organize the type of protests and strikes that have ousted two presidents in two years. In the gas-rich Santa Cruz region, business elites are working toward seceding from the country to privatize the gas reserves. Meanwhile, U.S. troops stationed in neighboring Paraguay may be poised to intervene if the Andean country sways too far from Washington’s interests. For Bolivian social movements and the government, 2006 will be a trial by fire....
(full article)

Three Cheers for Italy’s Luigi Cascioli: Bravo, Bravo, and Bravo!
by Lee Salisbury

What could be more encouraging for the human race than for us “religious animals,” as American author Mark Twain called us, to question why we believe what we believe!  Some would suggest that religious beliefs are insignificant and must be private.  But, when a religion teaches that God hates those who do not believe “thus and so,” or when a religion seeks to make criminals of those who believe differently by legislating its doctrine into civil law, we humans must demand a dramatic change.  It's time for dialogue in courts of law if necessary, utilizing laws of evidence, reason, and logic about the basis and value of religion. Enter Luigi Cascioli! According to a story posted on January 4 by Reuters, an Italian court is being asked to rule whether the Roman Catholic Church is breaking the law. The first criminal charge  is Abuso di Credulita Popolare (Abuse of Popular Credulity) meant to protect people against being swindled or conned. The second criminal charge is Sostituzione di Persona, or false impersonation. The case pits two elderly men, from the same Italian town who went to the same seminary in their teenage years, against each other. The plaintiff, Luigi Cascioli, after years of independent study became a religious skeptic and atheist. The defendant Enrico Righi is a Roman Catholic priest and writer for a local parish newspaper, but by extension the lawsuit includes the Roman Catholic Church.....(full article)

“Democracy” Brings Bleak Days 
by Dahr Jamail and Arkan Hamed

Many Iraqis see dismal days ahead in the face of rising violence and the decision by the U.S. administration not to seek any further funds for reconstruction. "It is obvious that the situation is much worse than it used to be," retired army general Ahmed Abdul Aziz told Inter Press Service. "Can you walk free in the streets? Did you receive your food ration last month? It is essential for most Iraqis to receive the food ration just to feed their families." The former Iraqi general added: "When you go to the hospital, do you find medicines? The answer is no medicines, no services, no sheets or pillows, no beds, no nursing, and no ambulances to carry you from your house." World Bank president and former U.S. Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz had said Iraq could "really finance its own reconstruction." But such words have fallen flat because the state of the infrastructure is clearly worse now than even during the harsh economic sanctions of the 1990s....(full article)

Stalling the Dream
by Meizhu Lui

Fifty years ago, the late Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery, Alabama bus, catalyzing history-making events. Imagine, however, if Rosa Parks had lived in New Orleans in September 2005 and was trying to escape from the gathering clouds of Hurricane Katrina. Would she have jumped in her car?  Would she have bought a train ticket? It is likely she wouldn't have found any bus seat. Would she have survived? In light of Hurricane Katrina, millions of Americans were forced to make such nerve-racking calculations. And their transportation options, unfortunately, depended on race. Those with cars largely escaped. But African-American and Latino households are much less likely than white families to own a car, leaving us with those indelible images of people of color crying out from the rooftops. A great deal of attention in the last two decades has been focused on the “digital divide,” the concern that unequal access to new forms of technology such as the internet are leaving people behind based on their class and race. But Hurricane Katrina exposed the “internal combustion engine” divide, the alarming disparity in car ownership that literally was the difference between life and death for many Gulf Coast residents....(full article)

President Expects to Use Idiot Defense
by Don Monkerud

With the first calls for impeachment circulating in Congress and across the country, President George W. Bush and his advisors met in Washington over the weekend to map a defense based on the so-called "idiot defense," sometimes referred to as the "I was out of the loop" method of shifting blame to others. Under this plan, Bush will come clean with the American people and tell them that he didn't have any idea of what was going on; he didn't give orders for spying, doesn't know about where the reports on WMD in Iraq came from, or why FEMA didn't act sooner, or why various unpopular initiatives were put forth by his administration during the past several years....(full article)

No Homos on the Range?
by Dennis Rahkonen

Director Ang Lee’s movie about two cowboys with romantic feelings for each other, Brokeback Mountain, was the big winner at the annual Critics’ Choice Awards. I haven’t seen it yet, but from everything I’ve heard and read, it’s an extremely well done, emotionally impactive, honest film. In other words -- good.  And anything good in this world, predictably, will be deemed “bad” by right-wing extremists. Thus it came as no surprise to see a couple of fringe-dwellers picketing the awards presentation with placards, one of which read, “No homos on the range.”.....(full article)

January 10

-- Web Site of the Day --
Joshua Frank's A "Radical news and views" blog by the author of the must-read book, Left Out!: How Liberals Helped Reelect George W. Bush

Revenge of the Mutt People
by Joe Bageant

My point here is that we rural and small town mutt people by an early age seem to have a special capacity for cruelty, compared say, to damned near every other imaginable group of Americans. For instance, as a child did you ever put a firecracker up a toad's ass and light it? George Bush and I have that in common. Anyway, as all non-whites the world round understand, white people can be mean. Especially if they feel threatened -- and they feel threatened about everything these days. But when you provide certain species of white mutt people with the right incentives, such as free pork or approval from god and government, you get things like lynchings, Fallujah, the Birmingham bombers and Abu Ghraib. Even as this is being written we may safely assume some of my tribe of mutt people are stifling the screams of captives in America's secret “black site” prisons across the planet. Or on a more mundane scale of cruelty (according to CBS footage) kicking hundreds of chickens to death every day at the Pilgrim's Pride plant in Wardensville, West Virginia, just up the road from where I am writing this. Or consider the image of Matthew Shepard's body twisted on that Wyoming fence… All these are our handiwork. We the mutt-faced sons and daughters of the republic. Born to kick your chicken breast meat to death for you in the darkest, most dismal corners of our great land, born to kill and be killed in stockcar races, drunken domestic rows, and of course in the desert dusty back streets at the edges of the empire. Middle class urban liberals may never claim us as brothers, much less willing servants, but as they say in prison, we are your meat. We do your bidding. Your refusal to admit that we do your dirty work for you, not to mention the international smackdowns and muggings for the republic -- from which you benefit more materially than we ever will -- makes it no less true.....(full article)

-- The Anti-Empire Report --
Of Plunder and Yankee Karma 
by William Blum

The sign has been put out front: "Iraq is open for business." We read about things done and said by the Iraqi president, or the Ministry of this or the Ministry of that, and it's easy to get the impression that Iraq is in the process of becoming a sovereign state, albeit not particularly secular and employing torture, but still, a functioning, independent state.  Then we read about the IMF and the rest of the international financial mafia -- with the US playing its usual sine qua non role -- making large loans to the country and forgiving debts, with the customary strings attached, in the current instance ending government subsidies for fuel and other petroleum products.  And so the government starts to reduce the subsidies for these products which affect almost every important aspect of life, and the prices quickly quintuple, sparking wide discontent and protests. Who in this sovereign nation wanted to add more suffering to the already beaten-down Iraqi people?  But the international financial mafia are concerned only with making countries meet certain criteria sworn to be holy in Economics 101, like a balanced budget, privatization, and deregulation and thus making themselves more appealing to international investors.....(full article)

Happy Hoping
by Peter Kurth

But I promised an “upbeat” column this week, and I’m trying to greet this new year, Anno Domini 2006, in a spirit of hope. Is there an entry for that? When I looked up “hope” online I saw it defined, first, as, “Hope, Bob (1903-2003), British-born American entertainer.” Only when I scrolled farther down did “hope” become a verb -- “To wish for something with expectation of its fulfillment” -- and then a noun, “A wish or desire accompanied by confident expectation of its fulfillment.” Right -- it’s that “confident” part. Already, I’m afraid, 2006 is looking a little tattered around the edges. It’s not good to start out with a tragic mining disaster, huge corruption scandals in Congress, the Constitution effectively shredded by unlawful wiretapping, mail-opening, spying and “eavesdropping,” 136 deaths in Iraq in a single day last Thursday (by official count); and a booming crisis over drug benefits for the recipients of Medicare -- those desperate hordes known collectively as “the elderly, the poor and the disabled.”.....(full article) Surrenders
Silence is Complicity
by Joshua Frank

It’s a good thing for that George W. Bush was reelected. If he hadn’t been, the liberal troupe would have nothing to contest. Even if the bloody occupation had continued under a John Kerry presidency (it most certainly would have), the cowering office-chair activists would have ducked behind their computer screens awaiting the return of another brutal Republican administration. Activism should never be partisan, but isn’t about to hold the Democrats’ accountable for supporting Bush’s war agenda.....(full article)

Hanging the Libertarian: The Presidential Power Grab
by Jack Random

That awkward thud and creaking sound you heard was the hanging of the libertarian. That former proud and vigilant guardian of individual rights was strung up by his own subscribers, betrayed by those who once raised volumes of praise to his eternal glory. It is a well-worn cliché: Never trust the ones you love. In the political arena, where demagogues are the rule, ideology and principle are nothing more than talking points. The so-called liberal Democrats will abandon social services and the so-called conservative Republicans will promote unwarranted domestic spying. When conservatives of proper libertarian upbringing cannot rise from their overstuffed chairs to cry out against the classic enemy of Big Brother, then the entire conservative movement is rudderless in a sea of confusion....(full article)

January 9

Neocons Considered Planting WMD Evidence in Iraq?
by Gary Leupp

A recent Raw Story report by Larissa Alexandrovna suggests that the notorious Office of Special Plans didn’t just stovepipe cherry-picked “intelligence” to the White House and press. It also sent teams into Iraq after the invasion began, which, after it became apparent that there were no abundant WMDs, examined the possibility of planting such weapons in order to help the president avoid embarrassment. Citing “[t]hree U.S. intelligence sources and a source close to the United Nations Security Council,” Alexandrovna indicates that the OSP planned “off book” missions that were dispatched by Stephen Cambone, Defense Department intelligence chief, from March 2003. (Cambone now occupies the # 3 post in the Defense Department.) Teams sent to Iraq included “CIA, FBI, Green Berets, Delta Force operators, and commandos from the Navy’s Special Warfare Development Group.” Their first priority was to investigate an allegation made by disinformation master Ahmad Chalabi that a USN pilot shot down in 1991 and proclaimed KIA soon afterwards was being held as a POW in Iraq. (That was bogus.) The second was to deal with the WMD issue. The third was to get Saddam.....(full article)

The Apartheid Wall: Is it Architecture or…? 
by Mina Hamilton

In early January, the New York Time's architectural critic, Nicolai Ouroussoff, labeled the Apartheid Wall in Palestine/Israel as "on a fundamental level… a piece of architecture." "A Line in the Sand" appeared in the Time's Arts & Leisure section.  A photo evidently taken at dusk occupied the whole upper half of the Arts page. The immense black concrete slabs of the Wall marched into the distance. Most of the photo was sky. A gorgeous sky. There were billowing clouds, tinted with enough subtle aquamarine, pink and yellow to suggest a delicate 18th century Tiepolo fresco. The photo was the article. It delivered the message: this is pretty, this is arty. Doubtless many readers did not move beyond the picture. If they did, the romantic tone was emphasized in the first few sentences.  An example of the dreamy, seductive language: "at dusk, its [the Wall's] future path is outlined by a necklace of lights." The assertion that the Apartheid Wall is architecture is as absurd -- and dangerous -- as saying a guillotine is beautiful....(full article)

Imagine All the People, Living Like Mindless Lambs
by Gabriel Ash

The paper of record broke a record on Friday, when it invited Benny Morris to write an advanced epitaph for Israel’s ailing PM Sharon for its op-ed page. Morris’s byline describes him as a professor of history at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba, Israel and the author of "The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited," Here’s an alternative byline: Benny Morris is the Israeli historian who told Haaretz that the extermination of Native Americans by European settlers was a good thing, a step in human progress, and so was the expulsion of 700,000 Palestinians in 1948.  (see Haaretz, January 8, 2004) Imagine had someone claimed that the holocaust was a good thing, because, for example, it contributed to the “progress” of Europe towards peace, the creation of the European Union, etc. Would that person be welcome on the op-ed pages of The New York Times? (full article)

Chemical Warfare in Colombia
by Garry Leech

It was five years ago this month when I first visited the department of Putumayo to investigate the effects of Plan Colombia’s initial aerial fumigation campaign launched several weeks earlier in December 2000. In the ensuing years, I made several more trips to Putumayo to further investigate Plan Colombia, the civil conflict and the growing presence of foreign oil companies in the oil-rich region. With extensive personal experience in Putumayo under my belt and having read numerous erratic accounts of the U.S. war on drugs in Colombia, I cautiously picked up a copy of the recently published book by Hugh O’Shaughnessy and Sue Branford titled Chemical Warfare in Colombia: The Costs of Coca Fumigation. My concerns would prove to be unwarranted as it quickly became apparent that Chemical Warfare in Colombia is the best book yet written about the U.S. war on drugs in Colombia.....(full article)

January 7

-- Web Site of the Day --
The Optimism of the Heart: Harry Magdoff (1913-2006)

Harry Magdoff -- coeditor of Monthly Review since 1969, socialist, and one of the world's leading economic analysts of capitalism and imperialism -- died at his home in Burlington, Vermont on January 1, 2006.

*  *  *  * 

Surrealistic Pillow: The West Virginia Mining Disaster
by Jack Random

On the same day that some university media organization moved to ban the word “surreal” from our lexicon, I witnessed one of the most surreal events I can recall. It was the second day of the Sago coalmine disaster and I was trying to remember an old movie about an out-of-control reporter spinning a very human tragedy about a man trapped in a mine into a marketable yarn. The story began on Monday with the “breaking news” that an explosion in a West Virginia coalmine left thirteen miners trapped below the surface.  CNN immediately went into full-court press with 24-7 coverage, featuring interviews with mining officials, former miners, government representatives, corporate spokespersons and distraught relatives assembled in the local church.....(full article)

Another Brownie in the Making
by Gene C. Gerard

Last week President Bush took advantage of Congress’ holiday recess to appoint Ellen Sauerbrey as the Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). The Senate had stalled on approving her nomination because Ms. Sauerbrey has no experience. This State Department position administers the government’s policies regarding refugees and international migration issues and oversees approximately $700 million in federal funds for refugee protection, resettlement, and humanitarian assistance programs. Given the importance of this position, and the nominee’s total lack of experience, Mr. Bush abused his authority by circumventing the Senate.....(full article)

You Can't Go Home Again . . .
by Sheila Samples

January 5th was the bloodiest day in Iraq since Bush's illegal invasion. As many as 140 were killed, including 11 US servicemen, and many more injured. Bush responded by suddenly summoning all living secretaries of state and defense to the White House for a skull session and photo op on what to do in the Middle East before he is completely overtaken by even more catastrophic success. He's willing to share the glory, and said he would “listen and take to heart” any suggestions offered, even from Democrats. Except an exit plan, of course, and any suggestions of how to better equip or protect the “troops” who are thrown into an exploding nightmare where it's every man for himself. Good luck, soldier. Get out there and make us proud that you died for a noble cause.....(full article)

Active-Duty Military Support for Bush and the Iraq War Dropping
by Kevin Zeese

According to a poll of Military Times readers, support for President Bush's leadership as commander-in-chief and support for the war in Iraq is dropping among the U.S. military. Over the course of the last year, support for the Iraq War dropped 9 percent, and barely a majority, 54 percent, view the commander-in-chief's performance as positive. Losing the support of active duty military could be the final straw for President Bush in Iraq. Already, the foreign policy establishment -- former military, former intelligence officials and former foreign service officers -- have publicly expressed their opposition to the war. In addition, Gold Star families who have lost loved ones, military families with members currently serving, and Iraq War veterans are speaking out against the war. And, there have been increasing cases of soldiers refusing to return to Iraq. In addition, the military has been unable to meet its recruitment goals....(full article)

The Tumultuous and Tawdry Travels of Neil Bush
by Bill Berkowitz

The scandal-plagued Bush brother returns to spotlight with Russian fugitive and Rev. Sun Myung Moon....(full article)

What's Wrong with Democracy Now!?
by Reza Fiyouzat

....So, we need to think about the rougher seas ahead. We know a lot about the position of the state, but we must also pay attention to the conditions we create for carrying out our tasks, and must fix some leaks in own ship. One such leak is the way leftist journalists in the U.S. incorporate official statements and representatives in their articles, reporting and/or programming. In the war of truth against the propaganda of the ruling system, the Leftist journalist is the David to the system's Goliath. In this fight, the main (perhaps the only) advantage we have is the hard nuggets of truth we can pack into our slingshots. But, the system is a reactionary entity that fights back by diluting the truth, by softening those nuggets, and by infiltrating our rhetoric and our institutions. Infiltration takes different forms, but the most successful form is to get us to internalize the system's way of doing things.....(full article)

Now, Hindu Nationalists Rewriting California Textbooks
by Angana Chatterji

The attempts of diasporic Hindu nationalist organizations in the United States to intervene in revising segments on India, Indian history, and Hinduism in 6th grade textbooks in California State schools is disturbing. On December 2, 2005, the Curriculum Commission, an advisory body to the California State Board of Education accepted 131 of the 153 revisions proposed by Hindu Education Foundation (HEF) and Vedic Foundation (VF), two groups affiliated with Hindutva, militant Hindu nationalist ideology. The edits offered by these groups were adopted amid intense lobbying and the misrepresentation that their views represent those of “ALL HINDUS” in the diaspora. This bears testimony to the power and resources of long-distance Hindu nationalism, and its organizing capabilities in the United States....(full article)

Shifting the Balance of Power, Capturing the Power of Leverage
by Chandi Sinnathurai

Ten is a number of power. The tenth item on the joint statement released by India and Sri Lanka at the conclusion of President Rajapaksa’s state visit has to be viewed with caution. If attempts to water down the current “dust of war” fail, as the Tamil Tiger supremo vowed at the November 2005 Mavirar Nal (November 27, a day in which reflective celebrations and fasting are held in memory of all the fallen Eelam fighters of valor), all other options will run out except to intensify the struggle for self-determination. The intransigence of the Colombo Government is revealed by a string of serious breaches of CFA (Ceasefire Agreement): civilian killings, abductions, involuntary disappearances, gang rapes by the SLA (Sri Lanka Army) including the Christmas Eve high profile murder in the Cathedral of Mr. Joseph Pararajasingham by the State-sponsored forces. All these nefarious activities unfortunately seem to weigh opposite to a diplomatic settlement....
(full article)

January 6

Two Moms on Capitol Hill
by Lila Rajiva

Karen Bradley, Director of Graduate Studies in Dance at the University of Maryland, is a long-time activist, choreographer, and performance artist.  She is currently writing a book on the movement theorist Rudolf Laban, and researches and writes about movement analysis, arts education, and progressive politics. Christine Yort is a graduate student in decorative arts at the Smithsonian Institute’s demanding program and a full-time single mom. The vivacious pair spoke to me about their views on what’s happening in George Bush’s America and what "two moms on Capitol Hill," as they call themselves, have done to make their voices heard....(full interview)

Political Hemorrhaging
by Remi Kanazi

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a severe stroke resulting in a cerebral hemorrhage on January 4. Paramedics rushed Sharon from his ranch in the Negev Desert to a Jerusalem hospital for life saving surgery. From the early news feeds and doctor's comments things are not looking good. Internal bleeding after six hours of surgery led to another three hours in the operating room. After the second surgery doctors said his vital signs are stable, although his condition is still “grave”. Pundits and analysts are already grabbing pen and pad to jot down their assessment. Many believe Ariel Sharon's political career is over. Ha’aretz correspondent, Aluf Benn, stated, "even if he does recover, he will have a very hard time convincing the public of his ability to serve four more years, after undergoing two strokes in two and a half weeks." YNet contributor, Attila Somfalvi, was more forthright: “Following the prime minister's stroke, nothing will bring him back into the political game: Not the surging popularity, not the concern and aching heart of the public, and not even the waves of sympathy.”.....
(full article)


January 5

Venezuela’s Bolivarian Moment: Its Promise and Perils 
by Stephen Lendman

Venezuela today, under its democratically elected President, Hugo Chavez Frias, is imbued with the spirit of Bolivarianism and his Bolivarian Revolution. It's based on the vision of Simon Bolivar, the Caracas-born 17th and 18th century general who defeated the Spanish, liberated half of South America and believed in the redistributive policies that characterize the Chavez government. It also hopes to overcome what Bolivar perceptively characterized as the imperial curse "to plague Latin America with misery in the name of liberty." Chavez and his Movement for the Fifth Republic Party (MVR) have created the beginnings of a mass social and political revolution based on participatory democracy and social justice. In a nation in which 80% of the people are poor by any measure, Chavez is a populist hero with mass public support outside the minority middle and upper classes and business interests. He openly proclaims his desire and intent to transform Venezuela into a nation based on democratic socialism as an alternative to its capitalist past. In fact, however, his policies are more gradualist and closer to the European style social democracy than a textbook type socialist state. Since he took office, the private sector is a larger percent of the total economy than before his election although Venezuela's oil company, Petroleos de Venezuela SA (PDVSA) and backbone of the economy, is state owned. Nonetheless, instead of previous governments' policy of recycling the nation's petrodollars to the U.S., Chavez is using them to grow the Venezuelan economy and fund his social programs. It's little wonder he engenders the great displeasure of the Bush administration intent on stopping him. It's already tried to do it three times and failed....(full article)

The Quiet Death of Freedom
by John Pilger

On Christmas Eve, I dropped in on Brian Haw, whose hunched, pacing figure was just visible through the freezing fog. For four and a half years, Brian has camped in Parliament Square with a graphic display of photographs that show the terror and suffering imposed on Iraqi children by British policies. The effectiveness of his action was demonstrated last April when the Blair government banned any expression of opposition within a kilometer of Parliament. The High Court subsequently ruled that because his presence preceded the ban, Brian was an exception. Day after day, night after night, season upon season, he remains a beacon, illuminating the great crime of Iraq and the cowardice of the House of Commons. As we talked, two women brought him a Christmas meal and mulled wine. They thanked him, shook his hand and hurried on. He had never seen them before. "That's typical of the public," he said. A man in a pinstriped suit and tie emerged from the fog, carrying a small wreath. "I intend to place this at the Cenotaph and read out the names of the dead in Iraq," he said to Brian, who cautioned him: "You'll spend the night in cells, mate." We watched him stride off and lay his wreath. His head bowed, he appeared to be whispering. Thirty years ago, I watched dissidents do something similar outside the walls of the Kremlin....(full article)

Land of the Surveilled, Home of the Complacent
by Ken Sanders

As 2005 drew to a close, there came to light the latest example of the Bush administration's campaign to transform the United States from a nominal democracy to a despotic monarchy. To the dismay of some, but to the surprise of no one, The New York Times revealed that in the wake of 9/11, President Bush authorized the National Security Agency to engage in the warrantless surveillance of U.S. citizens. In the unholy spirit of such illegal Cold War spying programs as "Shamrock" and "Minaret," the Bush administration has been secretly spying on the telephone conversations and e-mails of U.S. citizens suspected by Bush of having terrorist connections. The White House does not deny that this is true. To the contrary, the Bush administration is proud of its clandestine subversion of what remains of American democracy. Indeed, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice have repeatedly defended the White House's unfettered right to spy on whomever, whenever....(full article)

Wrong Doers Versus Whistleblowers: How Patriots Act
by Mary La Rosa

Remorse and religion is the standard of those representatives pleading guilty to government bribes and lies. Courage and conviction is the standard of American whistleblowers, Sibel Edmonds and Bunnatine Greenhouse. Is there a Patriot Act that can protect whistleblowers and reflect the standards of how patriots are free to act? (full article)

Syria in the United States' Crosshairs
by Reuven Kaminer

The truth is that there are no reasons to be enthusiastic about the internal regime in Syria.  Even so, it would be the height of naiveté to believe that this country has moved into the crosshairs of the United States because of its poor record on human rights. The plain fact is that the United States, which has quite a few problems in the region, is busy organizing a list of guilty parties on whom blame can be shifted.  From the very moment that Syria refused to join Bush’s crusade to Baghdad, Washington began to prepare the indictment against it amidst growing threats to the government and the sovereignty of Syria....(full article)

In 2006, Voting Fraud is the Keystone Issue
by Ernest Partridge

The significance of the election fraud issue can not be overstated. The fate of our republic turns on how this issue is dealt with and resolved in the coming year. On the one hand, the Bush Administration, the Republican Party and the Republican Congress, with the continuing connivance of the corporate media and the persistent indifference of the Democratic Party, may successfully resist public demands for electoral reform, and consequently the existing system of unverifiable voting and secret software will remain in place. If so, then the Republicans will surely retain control of the Congress, regardless of the will of the American people....(full article)

by Mickey Z.

you  once  seemed  very
important but  now  you  are
another four  years

his  GAP  shirt  stained  with
the  blood  of  el  salvador
does  not  weigh  him  down ....(full poem)

The Treadmill
by Vi Ransel

Sisyphus, a Corinthian king
of Greek mythology,
was condemned by Olympian gods
to pay a heavy price for his greed

by rolling an enormous stone
to the peak of a steep hill's crown
and every time he'd reach the top
the stone quickly rolled back down.....(full poem)


Poor in America -- P.I.A.
by Vi Ransel

It's an ancient tradition derived
from the scapegoat of Leviticus
whereby the wrongs of others
are transferred to an innocent

who's then sent out alone to die
symbolically bearing others' sins,
absolving from greed, lust, pride and hate
the community that condemned him.

A corpse is laid out, sin eater employed
to eat bread and salt from its belly
thereby absorbing the corpse's sins
for the wages of just a few pennies.....(full poem)

January 3

The New Authoritarianism in the United States
by Henry A. Giroux

Recent revelations in the New York Times about the Bush administration’s decision to allow the National Security Agency to spy on Americans without first obtaining warrants, the Washington Post disclosure of the chain of secret CIA torture prisons around the world, and the ongoing stories about widespread abuse and torture in Iraq and Afghanistan are just some of the elements in the popular press that point to a growing authoritarianism in American life. The government, as many notable and courageous critics ranging from Seymour M. Hersh to Gore Vidal and Robert Kennedy Jr. have pointed out, is now in the hands of extremists who have shredded civil liberties, lied to the American public to legitimate sending young American troops to Iraq, alienated most of the international community with a blatant exercise of arrogant power, tarnished the highest offices of government with unsavory corporate alliances, used political power to unabashedly pursue legislative polices that favor the rich and punish the poor, and disabled those public spheres not governed by the logic of the market. Closer to home, a silent war is being waged against poor young people and people of color who are either being warehoused in substandard schools or incarcerated at alarming rates. Academic freedom is increasingly under attack, homophobia has become the poster-ideology of the Republican Party, war and warriors have become the most endearing models of national greatness, and a full-fledged assault on women’s reproductive rights is being championed by Bush’s evangelical supporters -- most evident in Bush’s recent Supreme Court appointment and nominee. While people of color, the poor, youth, the middle class, the elderly, gays, and women are being attacked, the current administration is supporting a campaign to collapse the boundaries between the church and state and even liberal critics such as Frank Rich believe that the U.S. is on the verge of becoming a fundamentalist theocracy....
(full article)

The New Iraq War Strategy: More Bombings, More Civilian Deaths,
Less Likelihood of Success
by Michael Schwartz

Seymour Hersh’s latest article in the New Yorker is over a month old by now, and therefore it would seem a little like old news. But, like so much of his reporting, Hersh’s article contains at least a few nuggets that ripen with time and take on more importance as events play out in Iraq. Two of his key points -- one central to the article, the other almost an afterthought -- are of particular importance, and worth reviewing as the Iraqis endure yet another chapter in the American effort to crush the Resistance....(full article)

The Guerilla War on Iraqi Oil
by Mike Whitney

Currently, America is losing the conflict in stunning fashion with little hope for change in the near future. This week the Iraqi Oil Ministry announced that oil production “has reached a post-war low” and that the “exports of crude, which had run at an average of about 1.6 million barrels per day since the end of the 2003 war, dropped to 1.2 mbpd in November and 1.1 mbpd in December.” (Al Jazeera, January 2, 2006) All the indicators point to continuing difficulty with production due to the escalating violence. At times, the export of oil has been completely cut off in both the northern and southern regions making it impossible to benefit from Iraq’s prodigious natural wealth. The Iraqi resistance has grown increasingly skillful in sabotaging pipelines and facilities despite the extraordinary efforts to protect them from attack. This is truly the face of 21st century warfare: disparate cells of armed guerillas disrupting critical energy supplies that sustain the global economy....(full article)

The Inner Meaning of the Zionists’ Anti-Iran Chorus
by Gary Zatzman

Since the Iranian president Ahmadinejad spoke in late October about wiping the Zionist Entity off the map, the world has been bombarded with yet another flood of propaganda, led by Zionists and their faithful allies in all the citadels of world reaction, about resurgent “anti-Semitism.” This has placed not a few reasonably conscious activists on the defensive, seeking ways to apologize for, or distance themselves from, the Islamic Republic. Here lies a deep political question: during World War Two, why was it not going too far to wipe the Third Reich off the map? Contrary to Zionist claims of uniqueness and particularity for the sufferings of European Jews, the problem with the Third Reich was not only the Judeocide in particular but its fascism and racism in general. Allied with Japanese fascism and abetted by American racism towards the peoples of Asia, a global fascist and racist onslaught exterminated tens of millions and threatened to exterminate hundreds of millions more, throughout the planet. The world’s people took this problem up and solved it. During 2005, the 60th anniversary of this victory over fascism was commemorated around the globe....(full article)

Entrenched Hypocrisy: Hillary Clinton, AIPAC and Iran
by Joshua Frank

. . . AIPAC’s hypocrisy is stomach-turning, to say the least. The goliath lobbying organization wants Iran to be slapped across the knuckles while the crimes of Israel continue to be ignored. And who is propping up AIPAC’s hypocritical position? Senator Hillary Clinton of New York. As the top Democratic recipient of pro-Israel funds for the 2006 election cycle thus far, pocketing over $58,000 as of October 31 last year, Senator Clinton now has Iran in her crosshairs....(full article)

Media New Year’s Resolutions for 2006
by Norman Solomon

No one is in greater need of forthright New Year’s resolutions than big media outlets. In a constructive spirit, therefore, here are some resolutions for them in 2006....(full article)

January 2

Before Columbus: Revisionism and Enlightenment
by Kim Petersen

In 1776, the lauded Declaration of Independence, reflecting the prideful prejudice of its signers, affronted the Original Peoples of Turtle Island as “merciless Indian savages.” To open the “New World” to colonization, it was deemed necessary to demonize the original occupants. In 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus, author Charles Mann deftly synthesizes new and old information from paleo-societies in the western hemisphere. Mann takes readers back to the time before Genovese navigator Christopher Columbus and his crew had touched the shore of Guanahani, what Columbus arrogantly rechristened San Salvador. Contemporary images of Original Peoples have been much shaped by the early impressions of Europeans. Columbus, however, was of oblique mind about the Original Peoples.....(full article)

A Glossary of Dispossession
by Paul de Rooij

During 2005 the Israelis and most main media trumpeted the "disengagement" from Gaza, and claimed that bold steps had been taken to resolve the conflict. Despite these claims, the reality is that more Palestinian land has been stolen, many have been dispossessed, and ethnic cleansing has been exacerbated especially in Jerusalem. Meanwhile Israelis are orchestrating a propaganda campaign to hide this latest sordid chapter of dispossession. The main feature of this campaign is its invisibility: Israel and its media surrogates are effectively diverting attention from what is happening on the ground. There are virtually no reports about the progress of the construction of the wall and the effect it is having on those caught in its path. Furthermore, it is evident that events have been stage-managed and over hyped to divert media attention elsewhere, e.g., the hoopla surrounding the eviction of the settlers in Gaza. The third feature is the adoption of propaganda-tainted words; these are a subtle means of altering the perception of the Palestinian condition and the nature of Israeli actions -- and these are the focus of this article. Words are very important. Words frame issues, palliate, mollify, exculpate or even hide sordid acts. Words like "disengagement," "viable state," "barrier or fence," etc., alter our understanding of the Palestinian condition under the unrelenting ethnic cleansing that has been the norm during the past decades. Invariably western media and its coterie of "analysts" use propaganda-tainted words when referring to Israeli actions and the Palestinian condition. The list below analyses a few of the prevalent words that hide or exculpate the dispossession of millions....(full article)

What a Difference a Year Can Make: Will 2006 be 1966?
by Gary Leupp

Many are drawing parallels between Vietnam and Iraq, while noting that the two situations aren’t closely analogous. One way in which they differ is in the expenditure of national treasure. The cost of the Iraq War already exceeds $300 billion, half of what U.S. taxpayers in current dollar terms spent paying for the Vietnam War. But that war just started getting hot in 1966, in which the 5,008 were killed in action. Imagine 5,000 more Americans dying in Iraq in 2006 as the country descends into civil war between communities all of whom want them to leave.....(full article)

New Year's Dinner, 2005-2006
by Mina Hamilton 

On New Year's Eve, with my partner marooned in MA and I in NY, I accepted an invitation to dinner with some kind, smart, mostly Jewish, Upper West Side intellectuals. There was a smattering of public advocate lawyers, a distinguished bevy of PhDs in neurobiology, a Lutheran minister, a real estate something-or-other, all eating osso buco and downing quite considerable quantities of wine, as did I.  There was one bellicose fellow who opined that the worst thing that happened to the US was Abraham Lincoln and the civil war. We should have let "them" leave. Now it was our turn to take New England, New York, California and a handful of unspecified Midwest states, possibly including Iowa (though there was some debate about its worthiness) and become a part of Canada. How Canada would feel about this invasion was not addressed....(full article)

Skirmishes in the Information Wars
by Mike Whitney

There are only two weapons in the imperial tool chest: force and deception. The brutal colonial occupation of Iraq has provided us with a lavish example of the former, but the twin axel of deception is more abstruse and difficult to pin down. Sure, there’s the flagrant propaganda that floods right-wing radio and political talk shows, but that tells us little about the state-sponsored disinformation programs that permeate every area of American life. We now know that the Bush administration authorized massive illegal spying operations and is actively engaged in planting pro-American stories in the foreign press. These suggest that the administration’s overall theory of information management is much more extensive then originally imagined. In fact, news and information manipulation is at the forefront of Bush’s war on terror, a comprehensive strategy to control of every bit of information a citizen hears, sees or reads from cradle to grave. It is information warfare on a scale that would make George Orwell cringe....(full article)

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