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(DV) January 2007 Articles

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January 30

What America Really Needs to Hear:
Offering a Response to Senator Webb
by Joshua Frank

Shortly after President Bush's State of the Union address last week Jim Webb, the freshman Senator from Virginia, delivered the Democrats' televised response to Bush's annual speech. Many antiwar progressives were pleased to hear a Democrat confront the Bush rhetoric head-on. Media critic Jeff Cohen went even further and argued that Webb's riposte was not only aimed at the Bush administration, but also at Democratic candidates Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. "Whether intended or not," wrote Cohen, "Webb was offering a way for Democrats to win elections -- a script for any presidential candidate who wants to distinguish him or herself in the primaries, and then defeat the Republicans in Nov. 2008." Cohen and I must have been watching different programs.....(full article)

The State of the Anti-War Movement
Post Surge Commencement January 2007  

by R. Miles Mendenhall

Surely I'm not alone in being frustrated and angry about the pitiful level of anti-war organizing over the last four years? Back in March of 2003, as the war in Iraq got rolling and all of the massive demonstrations focused on preventing its start faded into memory, I proposed that my local anti-war group in Santa Rosa, north of the San Francisco Bay Area in Sonoma County, start a series of non-violent direct action blockades of local businesses who had military supply contracts. The purpose would be to give us a local focus that might have a direct impact (down the road, eventually) on the prosecution of the war. The hope is to raise the cost of pursuing the war to a level not acceptable to the American people. There are various reasons these actions were never taken. Organizers were burning out. The locations of the businesses were not in central areas of our town. Quite a few people had already been arrested in a blockade of a major intersection or at one of two or three shutdowns of the local Armed Forces Recruiting Center. I point out some of the larger reasons below. There has been some discussion as to why the anti-war/peace movement is so marginal to the national debate. At least it was until the results of the Fall 2006 mid-term Congressional elections and George Bush and the Republican Party lost their majority in both houses.....(full article)

Senator Chuck Hagel's Comments Should be a
Wake-Up Call to Congress 
by Kevin Zeese

Last week Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) spoke with strength, clarity and emotion about the need for every senator to take a stand on the Iraq War. There are moments in the Iraq War dialogue that create a paradigm shift in the Congress and the nation, e.g. when Rep. Murtha called for withdrawal. The statement by Sen. Hagel, whose comments are rooted in the experience of Vietnam, should be one of those moments.  And, if he runs for president he may turn the election upside down with a Republican anti-war candidate running against a Democrat who is fuzzy on the war.....
(full article)

My Redeployment Epiphany 
by Mary Shaw

Four years ago, Bush told us that we were going to Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people from the repressive regime of Saddam Hussein. And now the "insurgents" are fighting to liberate the Iraqi people from the repressive regime of George W. Bush. We've done enough damage. Rebuilding is not on the table. The American people want us out of Iraq. The Iraqi people want us out of Iraq. The Iraqi government wants us out of Iraq. And we have no legitimate reason to stay. Furthermore, we can leave Iraq without leaving a hopeless mess behind, if only we can do it right, and that means diplomacy. To that end, Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) seems to have the solution, in the form of H.R. 508, which will "require United States military disengagement from Iraq, [and] provide United States assistance for reconstruction and reconciliation in Iraq.".....(full article)

A Good Enough House: How a Single Mom and Her Three Kids
Live Simply and Well in a Small House
by Maxine Ventura

A wise woman I know said, "If you don't bake at least weekly, something's wrong in your life." My family lives by that credo. Picture lazy mornings with two older children surprising mom and their little brother with a spread of yummy foods, good tea and a happy, "Surprise!" This describes a common morning scene at my house. The rest of the day can involve writing stories, reading, playing, meeting friends at parks, attending community dances, listening to mom's band playing old-timey bluegrass, or picking the brains of a city councilman while the kids reveal their ideas for transitional housing to help homeless people find their way off the streets. Living on a very low income in the San Francisco Bay Area, where the average house price is a cool $616,000 this week, and landlords routinely refuse to rent to people with kids, I had to get creative when we suffered a bogus eviction.....
(full article)

Dubya's Half-Billion Dollar Tower of Babel 
by Bill Berkowitz

After six years of incompetence and cronyism, a failed war against terrorism, the quagmire that is Iraq, wars against science, the environment, corporate regulation and the public's right-to-know, a chummy working relationship with the country's most reactionary conservative evangelical Christians, a politicized faith-based initiative, giveaways to the energy industry, tax relief for the wealthy, a culture of corruption culminating in the forced resignations and imprisonment of some of the administrations key soldiers, and an attack on fundamental democratic rights and values, the Bush Administration is hatching plans to celebrate itself with a $500 million library (the costliest presidential library ever) to be built after Bush's second term is over. In what is being called "their final campaign," Bush's "truest believers" are aiming to raise a half-billion dollars for the mother of all presidential libraries. The library and an attached think tank -- which will pay for conservative research -- is being earmarked for the Dallas, Texas campus of Southern Methodist University, where First Lady Laura Bush is an alumna and a trustee.....
(full article)

January 29

Children Without a Country: Maryam Remains in Texas Jail 
by Greg Moses 

“A man without a country, is what Judge Maryanne Trump Barry called the hapless stowaway, Salim Yassir, who was born in Palestine, exiled to Libya, and jailed in the USA. Four years after foiling Yassir's 2000 attempt to enter the USA, immigration authorities were still claiming they should keep him in jail while they looked for a country that would take him. But Judge Barry (the Donald's older sister) put an end to that legal purgatory in 2004 when she ruled that a man without a country has rights, too. Yassir could just as easily live outside jail while authorities pursued their executive agendas. In some ways, Yassir's story is similar to one now being lived by three Texas families of Palestinian heritage. They are people without a country. From Palestine they have fled to the USA, sometimes through other countries. Immigration authorities have denied them asylum, ordered them deported, and they are being jailed indefinitely in legal purgatory while some country is found to take them. But the Texas families are not stowaways. They entered the USA with visas and have always lived public lives in their pursuit of asylum in the USA, growing their opportunities and their families along the way. The Ibrahim family, for example, arrived with four children, gave birth to a fifth, and are expecting a sixth. For the Ibrahim children who have lived in Palestine, memories are not so good, and they fear going back to a place where they are subject to so many military assaults.....(full article)

Money Trumps Democracy 
by Kim Petersen

The New York Times states "public financing system for presidential campaigns, the best way to rid politics of the corrupting influence of money, may have quietly died over the weekend." The NYT's examination of the public financing of politics is, in fact, an inquiry into the nature of so-called democracy. Eschewing the constraints of public funding, Senator Hillary Clinton of New York has opted for private funding for her presidential bid. The NYT calls this a declaration of Clinton's confidence that she can attract much more than the approximately $150 million that would be provided through public financing. Importantly, the NYT notes, "Mrs. Clinton makes it difficult for other serious candidates to participate in the system without putting themselves at a significant disadvantage."....(full article)

Is Dershowitz Qualified to Do Book Reviews?  
by Ahmed Amr

As cheerleaders for Israel go, it is hard to beat Alan Dershowitz. If ever there was a coward and a hypocrite -- it has to be this Likudnik operator who postures as a 'liberal' in search of an 'honest debate' on the merits of tormenting the Palestinians. Debate this, Alan. On March 28, 1988, the Seattle Times published your article titled "Israel is still a genuine democracy." I recall the article because I responded to it with an editorial of my own. I challenge you to defend that article in a public forum. In that particular work of fiction, you characterized the repression of the Palestinians as "occasional overreactions." Dr. Jennifer Leaning of the Harvard Medical School had a different take. Commenting on the behavior of the Israeli troops during the first Intifada, she reported that "they do not appear to be out of control. That is one of the darker things we saw. These are not aberrations. The pattern is controlled, a systematic pattern over a wide geographical area. It's as if they've been instructed.".....(full article)

When Israel's Supporters Suppress Speech, US Policy is the Loser
by George Bisharat

. . . So when former New York Mayor Edward Koch and Rafael Medoff ask incredulously in a recent commentary critical of President Jimmy Carter's recent book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid "Are Jews suppressing speech?" -- or when 14 Carter Center advisory board members resign in protest of the president's positions -- the answer, for me, is not so straightforward. The fact is that "Jews" are not suppressing speech. Michael Himovitz certainly didn't suppress my father's attempts to explain the Palestinian perspective to his fellow citizens. Many American Jews hold views not dissimilar to my father's -- supporting peace, reconciliation and equal rights for Palestinians and Jews. Yet, a minority of Jews, backed by some non-Jewish supporters, stridently protests any unflattering portrayal of Israel, often with unfounded accusations of anti-Semitism. Indeed, insinuations of anti-Jewish bias are now being unfairly raised against Carter. And some supporters of Israel, apparently, are willing to exploit economic clout to punish those who, like my father, buck the trend and defend Palestinian rights.....(full article)

Review: Iraq in Fragments
by Muhammad Idrees Ahmad

In the years since the invasion of Iraq, many documentaries have attempted to record its consequences: the violence; the occupation; the plunder. The focus has ranged from the anthropological to geopolitical, just as the production has varied from the bland to the spectacular. With the urgency of the political reality taking preeminence, the myriad documentary renderings have hitherto failed to present a sustained portrait of life in occupied Iraq. Iraq in Fragments -- the distilled product of more than two years and 300 hours of filming -- is James Longley's splendid contribution towards filling this void.....(full review)

Last Sunday: What to Do With/About White Folks? 
by Robert Jensen

After the initial “Last Sunday” gathering in November, many people made the observation that it was a mostly white audience, and then asked the question, “How can we attract more people of color to the event?” The observation about the complexion of the group was important to acknowledge, but I think it was diversionary to move right away to that question. Instead of asking how to diversify the event, it’s crucial that we white folks be able to ask: (1) “Why are there so few non-white people here?” and (2) “What is our motivation in wanting more non-white people here?” I think only after we have dealt with those questions can we start to work to transform Last Sunday -- and other predominantly white events, groups, and movements -- in ways that challenge white supremacy rather than reinforce white privilege. Put more bluntly: The goal shouldn’t be just diversity but the end of white supremacy, a much more ambitious goal but one that can be the basis for real hope.....(full article)

The First Amendment: Good When You Can Get It
by David Rovics

The organizers with United for Peace and Justice and all of those participating have once again pulled off a giant protest march and rally. As has happened every few months since the invasion of Afghanistan, hundreds of thousands of people have converged for a national protest, this time in Washington, DC. The major media outlets decided this time that the protest was worth covering. This time it was aired on CSPAN, reviewed by the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and the Houston Chronicle, and even recognized as the socially diverse crowd that it was  --  young and old, veteran activists and first-time protesters, soccer moms and socialists. As usual, crowd estimates given by the major media varied wildly from “thousands” to “tens of thousands” to “just under 100,000.” Some, including the New York Times, dared mention one estimate of 400,000. This is particularly notable since the NY Times was one of the many outlets guilty of barely reporting on past protests, and frequently using vague terms like “thousands” when reporting on crowds that had virtually filled Central Park.....(full article)

“Marketing” -- Blagh! 
by Amy J. Belanger

Revolutionaries hate the word and everything it stands for. I've seen my friends wrinkle their faces and spit out the "blagh!" like a 9-year-old when I suggested they use it on behalf of a better world. It's no wonder. Some of the worst evils visited upon the world have been perpetrated by marketers willing to sacrifice people, the planet and everything else sacred to make a buck. Excellent books like Toxic Sludge is Good for You: Lies, Damn Lies, and the Public Relations Industry have nailed the PR profession to the wall for its willingness to prostitute itself to shameful corporate goals, and its lack of meaningful ethical standards. What I ask my face-twisting friends is, "If someone lies to you, does that make talking bad?" The obvious answer is, "no." The same holds true of public relations, marketing and merchandising tactics.....(full article)

A Vegan Devil's Online Dating Dictionary
by Randy Shields

I'd like to offer a few tips about vegetarian and left wing dating sites, especially to my fellow vegans. Credit card in hand, you're ready to open yourself up to the universe of online dating. Almost immediately you get hit with a really low blow: years ago, before this great thing -- the internet -- came along, when you had your back turned, somebody married you! Bummer! This typical rookie mistake can be remedied by not putting your picture on your ad and writing text that ranges from vague to barefaced lies and (a personal favorite) listing several cities that you live in and jet between. Just keep it a little consistent and plausible -- don't put "Rio de Janeiro, Tokyo and Big Bone Lick, Kentucky." Conversely, if you really are single, you can capture the feeling of having an affair by forgetting what and how much you've told several people. You get the lies and finagling and maybe even the guilt but without any of the sex! Online dating involves very little "meeting" in the 20th century sense. It's mostly about something I've always been really lousy at -- typing. Now you are ready. Here are the basic rules.....(full article)

January 25

Jim Webb Offers the Democratic Response . . . to Hillary and Obama  
by Jeff Cohen

If you watched freshman Virginia Sen. Jim Webb deliver the Democratic response to Bush’s State of the Union speech, you witnessed something historic -- a Democrat on national TV unabashedly ripping into six years of Bush rule for an uninterrupted 10 minutes. With no O’Reilly or Hannity to disrupt or out-shout him. Webb offered a populist, anti-corporate stand on economics and a blunt attack on Bush for “recklessly” dragging our country into the Iraq war -- a sharply-worded address that must have startled millions of TV viewers accustomed to Democrat vacillation. It was the kind of stirring appeal, both progressive and patriotic, that could win over voters at election time -- including swing voters, NASCAR dads, soccer moms, even Republican leaners. The new Senator -- a novelist and former Secretary of the Navy -- reportedly discarded the speech handed him by Democratic leaders, and wrote his own. But Webb’s speech was not just a rebuttal to Bush. It was also a pointed response to the tepid pablum that comes out of the mouths of mainstream media-anointed Democratic presidential candidates: Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.....(full article)

The Crunchy Mystique 
by Natylie Baldwin

Review of Crunchy Cons: The New Conservative Counterculture and its Return to Roots
by Rod Dreher (Three Rivers Press, 2006)
You wouldn't expect a cultural conservative to quote Henry Miller in referring to certain aspects of modern existence as "the air conditioned nightmare." But then, challenging your expectations is one thing this book will likely do.  As a sustainability activist there were many times when I turned the pages and nodded my head in strong agreement. In fact, there are many points of convergence between this newly identified brand of crunchy (slang for counter-cultural) conservative creature and the eco-hippie crunchy liberal and author Rod Dreher, former columnist for the National Review, readily acknowledges this. He discusses the social and environmental breakdown caused by a corporate consumerism run amok and the antidotes of simple, small, local, and organic that is in many ways indistinguishable from Greens. And he's even peak oil aware, citing the inevitable decline of cheap and easily accessible crude as one of several events that will require an eventual reorientation of American society toward a more local and conservationist way of life. But perhaps the biggest strength of Dreher's book is that it characterizes the "crunchy con" phenomena as more of a sensibility than a set of doctrines to be followed to the letter. Using personal narratives as the primary means of conveying its basic essence, both his own and some of the hundreds of kindred spirits who responded to his initial essays identifying crunchy conservatism in the National Review Online, Dreher describes a rich and growing diversity among conservatives.....(full article)

"The Involuntary Guest Worker Program" --
America's Middle Passage Into the 21st Century  
by Mark W. Bradley

I promised myself I would listen to Tuesday night's “State of the Union” speech with an open mind, and I must now report that armed with a rare combination of honeyed rhetoric and steel-trap logic, the president won me over entirely to his point of view. It’s an admission I make with no small degree of humility, as I have spent the past seven years mercilessly lampooning Mr. Bush, intimating that he's the sort of imbecile who could weather a brainstorm without getting the inside of his head wet. Now, of course, I feel compelled to recant such unjust pronouncements and offer him my sincere apologies. The president’s speech was brilliant, prophetic, and jam-packed with innovative and ingenious strategies designed to address a whole litany of seemingly insurmountable problems plaguing our beleaguered nation. In short, I liked what he had to say, and I loved the way he said it! First of all, it was comforting to hear from the mouth of our stockholder-in-chief that the economy is on solid ground. This came as a welcome relief to me personally, as my wife and I recently borrowed 4.3 million dollars in the form of cash advances on our combined Citibank cards, which we in turn used to purchase variable-rate mortgages on several ski chalets atop scenic Mt. Kilimanjaro. I’m confident that this impeccably sound investment plan will provide the two of us with a fairly secure nest-egg for our retirement, but just to be on the safe side, I’ve decided to give up teaching and pursue a career in rhinoceros hunting. Not only is it safer, but given the provisions of Mr. Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” legislation, it frankly offers more job security.....(full article)

Out of Europe, Out of Time 
by James Brooks

Prior to the onset of European colonization a century ago, generations of Muslim, Christian, and Jewish Palestinians cohabited in the Holy Land with little or no conflict. Zionism's arrival opened a vein of intolerance that eventually grew into a river of bloodshed that flows directly into the sea of violence and chaos gripping the region today. Like their present-day descendants, early Zionist colonizers glorified Jewish separation from non-Jews. They set themselves apart from the people and dreamed openly of claiming all of Palestine for the Jews. Foreign intruders and a law unto themselves, they posed a self-declared threat to the lives and land of the indigenous population.....(full article)

January 24

Off the Rails: Big Oil, Big Brother Win Big in the State of the Union
by Greg Palast

There was that tongue again. When the President lies he's got this weird nervous tick: He sticks the tip of his tongue out between his lips. Like a little boy who knows he's fibbing. Like a snake licking a rat. In his State of the Union tonight the President did his tongue thing 124 times -- my kids kept count. But it wasn't all rat-licking lies.....(full article)

Nothing is More Important This Moment in History 
by Ron Jacobs

George Bush's State of the Union speech provided every single US resident that opposes the war in Iraq with a reason to take that opposition into the streets. His argument that ending the US military involvement in that nation would lead to extremists running the world is nothing new, but his insistence that this would create an environment that provided "an emboldened enemy with new safe havens, new recruits, new resources and an even greater determination to harm America" is certainly a step up in his rhetoric. According to Mr. Bush and his advisers, the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq would spell the end of the world for all freedom-loving Americans and place them in a never-seen-before danger.....(full article)

State of the Union: Grave and Delusional 
by Jack Random

Against a backdrop of fresh bloodshed in Iraq, the death of Watergate burglar E. Howard Hunt, the accusation in the opening salvo of the Plamegate case that Vice President Dick Cheney set Scooter Libby up for the fall, with Cheney hovering over one shoulder and Speaker Nancy Pelosi over the other, our beleaguered president proclaimed, “Our state of the union is strong and our cause in the world is right.” Tragically, the president remains in a state of delusion. The state of the union is grave and deteriorating and our conduct in the world is the primary cause.....(full article)

World Social Forum Diary 
by Jordan Flaherty

This week, tens of thousands of people, representing nearly every nation and people, are gathered to strategize, debate and struggle for solutions to worldwide problems of injustice and inequality.  For the first time, the World Social Forum has come to Nairobi, Kenya. The global conference is situated in a massive sports complex neighboring the slum of Korogocho, where tens of thousands of Kenyans live in abject poverty, a vivid demonstration of the themes discussed at the Forum, and a contrast to the wealth of many of the conference participants from the so-called "developed world." As with many Nairobi slums, Korogocho began when squatters built shacks on empty government land.  Most of these original squatters later rented these small structures out to families who pay up to $10 per month in rent to live in a space with no running water, stolen electricity, and the constant threat of government eviction. Nairobi has at least 200 slums, where almost half its population lives, according to local activists.....(full article)

Guantanamo's Shameful Anniversary
by Nicole Colson

January 11 marked a shameful anniversary for the U.S. On that day, five years before, the first prisoners from the U.S. "war on terror" began arriving at the U.S. prison camp in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. In all, more than 750 men and boys (some as young as 13) from 40 countries have been brought to Guantanamo. Approximately 400 remain imprisoned there today. None has been tried or convicted of any crime. Only 10 have even been charged with a crime. The Bush administration says these detainees are the "worst of the worst" -- and has fought to keep them in a legal no man's land. But human rights and civil liberties activists around the world say that the lack of legal rights, combined with abysmal conditions and even torture, has made Guantanamo a potent symbol of the worst abuses of the Bush administration.....(full article)

January 23

The Pentagon vs. Press Freedom 
by Norman Solomon

We often hear that the Pentagon exists to defend our freedoms. But the Pentagon is moving against press freedom. Not long ago, journalist Sarah Olson received a subpoena to testify next month in the court-martial of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada, who now faces prosecution for speaking against the Iraq war and refusing to participate in it. Apparently, the commanders at the Pentagon are so eager to punish Watada that they’ve decided to go after reporters who have informed the public about his statements.....(full article)

The People Lead When Their Leader's Freeze
A Report on the Citizen's Hearing on the War in Iraq
by Zbignew Zingh

Tacoma, Washington is a modest sized city a few miles north of Fort Lewis. On the weekend of January 21 – 22, 2007, Tacoma stood tall in the people's efforts to find truth while their political leaders dither, bob and weave in the nation's capitol. The Citizen's Hearing on the Legality of U.S. Action in Iraq focused on the war on Iraq, its continuing occupation and, specifically, the case of U.S. Army Lt. Ehren Watada. Lt. Watada is the first U.S. Army officer to refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. He has refused orders on the basis that the war is illegal and unconstitutional and because his oath of office prohibits him from obeying illegal orders. He also understands that if he obeys an order that is illegal, that, too, could implicate him in war crimes or crimes against humanity. Lt. Watada is scheduled to be court-martialed at Ft. Lewis on February 5th. Many of us will be there to bear witness to the charade of justice. He is charged with disobeying orders to deploy to Iraq, with conduct unbecoming an officer by publicly stating his opinions and by expressing public disagreement with the war policy of Mr. Bush. The colonel in charge of the legal proceedings has ruled in preliminary hearings that Lt. Watada will not be allowed to put on evidence or testimony regarding the falsity of the premises for war in Iraq, its illegality under U.S. and international law or the illegality of the continued occupation of the country. In short, Lt. Watada will be tried, convicted and sentenced to prison without an opportunity to defend himself. The purpose of the Citizen's Hearing was to put on in public and under oath the testimony that Lt. Watada has been forbidden to present in his own defense.....(full article)

Aliens in an Alien Land: Iraq Through the Lens of Soldiers' Memoirs  
by Stephen Soldz

Not so many years ago, perhaps five, there was a country known as "Iraq." That Iraq no longer exists. It has been replaced by two Iraqs. No, I am not referring here to the Kurdish Autonomous Region, nor to the nascent Shia statelet likely about to be created in the south, though either of these could be considered as break-up products of that former country. I am, rather, referring to the two zones into which Iraq has become divided, the Green Zone and the Red Zone. The Green Zone, a.k.a. the "International Zone," the "Ultimate Gated Community," or more appropriately, the "United States of Iraq," is the place where the various would-be rulers of Iraq have congregated since the March-April 2003 invasion. The colonial administration, the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA), set up its headquarters here. After the June 2004 handover of "sovereignty" but little power to an Iraqi Interim Government with its Prime Minister forced upon United Nations officials nominally in charge by the United States, this government made its home in the Green Zone. The current "elected," but largely powerless, Shia-dominated government also "rules" from this zone. For the Americans there, life in the Green Zone resembles life in the United States, with just enough of an exotic tinge to make it interesting. Night clubs serve liquor, women jog in shorts and sports bras, and pool parties sometimes get wild. McDonalds and Burger King are available, though, just as in many modern American cities, kebabs served by real natives are available for the daring.....(full article)

Looking to the Side, From Belsen to Gaza 
by John Pilger

John Pilger describes the warnings of genocide in Gaza, and the suffering of 1.4 million Palestinians living a "life in a cage" as the world looks on. He quotes Israeli journalist Amira Hass on the experience of her mother in a Nazi concentration camp and the Germans who watched, "looking from the side."......(full article)

Somalia: A Trip Down Memory Hole Lane 
by Media Lens

Following recent American air strikes in Somalia, the words “Black Hawk Down” have been mentioned dozens of times across the UK national press, and more than 100 times in the US press, over the last month. The words refer, of course, to the Hollywood film based on the October 3, 1993 raid by US forces on Mogadishu, the Somali capital. Press coverage has focused on two aspects of that raid: the claim that it was part of a humanitarian mission motivated to relieve famine, and the fact that 18 US rangers lost their lives. With near-perfect consistency across both the US and UK press, other facts and claims have simply been ignored. Noam Chomsky has reported the body count from US fire in Somalia in 1993: "The official estimate was 6-10,000 Somali casualties in the summer of 1993 alone, two-thirds women and children." (Chomsky, The New Military Humanism: Lessons From Kosovo, Pluto Press, 1999, p.68) Charles Maynes, the editor of Foreign Policy, wrote in 1995: “CIA officials privately conceded that the US military may have killed from 7,000 to 10,000 Somalis.”.....(full article)

Can Indy Media Stop the Corporate Media’s Hillary Bandwagon? 
by Jeff Cohen

Prominent pundits seem ecstatic over Hillary Clinton’s entry into the presidential race just days after Barack Obama’s media-created candidacy became official. Media talking heads are having so much fun lately they don’t seem to notice that our political system is failing to address ever-worsening problems: social, environmental, fiscal and imperial. Indeed, our country’s political decline in recent decades has been abetted by the decline in mainstream media. The same media outlets that were complicit in the disastrous Iraq war are bent on turning politics into an insular celebrity club in which only they get to anoint frontrunners. If the torch of leadership passes from Bush I to Clinton I to Bush II to Clinton II, it will be a loss for our country -- but a victory for a corrupt Beltway press corps that abhors fresh ideas, especially those that challenge its power and privilege. It was a frightened national press corps that vilified the netroots supporters of Democratic outsider Ned Lamont in defense of pro-war warhorse Joe Lieberman.....(full article)

Mea Culpa Minimus 
by William Fisher

The senior defense department official who suggested that major corporations should stop doing business with large law firms who represent Guantanamo Bay detainees without charge has apologized for his remarks, but his apology has failed to satisfy some legal and human rights advocates. The remarks were made on a Washington, DC radio program last Tuesday by Charles D. “Cully” Stimson, a deputy assistant secretary of defense and a former Navy defense lawyer. They drew an avalanche of anger from lawyers, legal ethics specialists, and bar association officials, who said they found his comments repellent and displayed an ignorance of the duties of lawyers to represent people in legal trouble. Lawyers expressed outrage at that, asserting that they are not being paid and that Mr. Stimson had tried to suggest they were by innuendo. Of the approximately 500 lawyers coordinated by the Center for Constitutional Rights, no one is being paid. One Washington law firm, Shearman & Sterling, which has represented Kuwaiti detainees, has received money from the families of the prisoners, but Thomas Wilner, a lawyer there, said they had donated all of it to charities related to the September 2001 terrorist attacks.”.....(full article)

Christian Conservatives Call for End of
14th Amendment Citizenship Birthright 
by Bill Berkowitz

After months of being missing in action from the debate on the issue, a group of Christian conservatives are now staking out a position on immigration. Families First on Immigration, a coalition led by former Republican Party presidential hopeful Gary Bauer, who heads up a group called American Values, former Bush advisor to Catholic voters, Deal Hudson of the Morley Institute for Church & Culture, and David Keene of the American Conservative Union, are advancing what they call religiously grounded positions on immigration. In early January, Families First on Immigration sent letters to President George W. Bush and to leaders of the new Democratic controlled Congress urging them "to adopt a grand compromise on the divisive issue that includes strong border security, an amnesty for illegals already here who are relatives of citizens and an end to birthright citizenship," the Washington Times reported. "Our position really is consistent with Christian teachings and with the rule of law," said Manuel Miranda, chairman of the Third Branch Conference (as of January 9, the group's website "is currently under construction") a coalition of over 150 grasstop leaders, who has brought together more than 30 top shelf conservatives on this issue. "Out of concern for keeping families together, the religious leaders propose granting citizenship to any illegal aliens in the country who are related to U.S. citizens. This would include anyone who has had a child born here, often referred to as an 'anchor baby,'" the Washington Times reported. "In return, the federal government would end birthright citizenship, which automatically grants U.S. citizenship to anyone born here, regardless of his parents' legal status. The 14th Amendment says 'all persons born or naturalized in the United States . . . are citizens of the United States.'".....
(full article)

The Corporate Media and Hugo Chavez  
by Mickey Z. (and the Expendables)

I've been extremely fortunate to attract an amazing mix of regulars to my blog . . . a crew self-dubbed "The Expendables." The conversations range from serious to silly and often have nothing to do with my post for the day. The topic du jour on Friday, January 19 was a certain Venezuelan president. Paul M. wrote: "Hello all Expendables. What do you make of the latest accusations leveled at Chavez?" Paul was referring a BBC News report, "Rule by decree passed for Chavez" (Subtitled: "Venezuela's National Assembly has given initial approval to a bill granting the president the power to bypass congress and rule by decree for 18 months"). The article began: "President Hugo Chavez says he wants 'revolutionary laws' to enact sweeping political, economic, and social changes." In the name of strengthening his "Bolivarian revolution," it seems Chavez has said he wants to "nationalize key sectors of the economy and scrap limits on the terms a president can serve." He also wants to see "major Venezuelan power and telecoms companies come under state control . . . (and) an end to foreign ownership of lucrative crude oil refineries in the Orinoco region.".....(full article)

January 21

America's Narcissists Indifferent to Iraqi Casualties  
by Ahmed Amr

You can't make this stuff up. George Bush believes that "the Iraqi people owe the American people a huge debt of gratitude." On the other side of the political divide, Presidential hopeful Joseph Biden -- a sponsor of the anti-surge legislation pending before Congress -- maintains that we've "done enough for the Iraqis." What a strange war we're having Iraq. After four years of shifting rationales, Americans remain clueless about why Bush opened this Pandora's box. The cold math that led to this disastrous imperial project is just too much for the pundits to own up to. Far too many Americans trip over whatever happens to be the latest rationale for sending half our army half way around the world to fight a people that did us no harm. Even the anti-war camp is crowded with pundits whose gripe de jour is that Bush is a messianic Samaritan idealist who miscalculated the cost of exporting liberty to Iraqi ingrates. Don't get me wrong. It's very gratifying to see the war party's constituency dwindle to an irredentist thirty percent of the population. It wasn't so long ago that opponents of the Iraq war were rewarded with scarlet letters identifying them as subversive Al-Qaeda apologists. But if Gerald Ford went to the great beyond believing that Bush's Iraqi expedition was motivated by a desire to 'free people' -- we have a serious problem on our hand. Because that was hardly the mission in Iraq......(full article)

The War Becomes More Unholy 
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

A stepped up military offensive that targets mosques, religious leaders and Islamic customs is leading many Iraqis to believe that the US-led invasion really was a "holy war." Photographs are being circulated of black crosses painted on mosque walls and on copies of the Quran, and of soldiers dumping their waste inside mosques. New stories appear frequently of raids on mosques and brutal treatment of Islamic clerics, leading many Iraqis to ask if the invasion and occupation was a war against Islam. Many Iraqis now recall remarks by US President George W. Bush shortly after the events of Sep. 11, 2001 when he told reporters that "this crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while." "Bush's tongue 'slipped' more than once when he spoke of 'fascist Islamists' and used other similar expressions that touched the very nerve of Muslims around the world," Sheikh Abdul Salam al-Kubayssi of the Association of Muslim Scholars (AMS), a leading Sunni group, told Inter Press Service in Baghdad. "We wish they were just mere slips, but what is going on repeatedly makes one think of crusades over and over.".....(full article)

The Semiotics of Iniquity  
Hillary Clinton and the Pro-Israel Lobby
by Joshua Frank

George W. Bush's position on Iran is "disturbing" and "dangerous", reads a position paper written in late 2005 by American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). One year ago the Bush administration accepted a Russian proposal to allow Iran to continue to develop nuclear energy under Russian supervision. Needless to say, AIPAC wasn't the least bit happy about the compromise. In a letter to congressional allies, mostly Democrats, the pro-Israel organization admitted is was "concerned that the decision not to go to the Security Council, combined with the U.S. decision to support the 'Russian proposal,' indicates a disturbing shift in the Administration's policy on Iran and poses a danger to the U.S. and our allies.".....(full article)

Hillary for President?  
by Cindy Sheehan

Thirteen people killed in a helicopter crash yesterday in Iraq. Four other soldiers and one marine were also killed. 30 people dead in the last two days in a war that Senator Hillary Clinton has supported since she first voted "yea" to give Bloody George carte-blanche to invade Iraq and her continuing support via her "yea" votes on giving the war-addict in the White House the key to the treasury. Soon after Camp Casey in August, 05, I was meeting with some Hollywood people who pretended that they supported me, but really were big money donors and supporters of Hillary. I was told that the Senator was really against the war, but she was waiting for the politically correct time to come out against it. I was told that she was the best hope for the Democrats in 2008, and I should give her a break.....(full article)

CNN's “Journalism” is a Fool's Paradise 
by Gail Dines

Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me a couple of dozen times, and shame on me -- but also shame on what passes for journalism on television. This truism comes to mind after my appearance on Paula Zahn Now on CNN this week to discuss the Duke rape case. I'm not naive about these kinds of shows -- which I know are not really about journalism but about ratings, most easily obtained through sensationalism and playing to the prejudices of the audience. But over the past 20 years I've gone on a number of them to discuss my work as a sociologist on issues of racism and sexism in media. Like many progressives, I do that with eyes wide open, knowing the limits but realizing it's one of the few shots we have at a mass audience......
(full article)

Paying for Protection 
by Gene C. Gerard

Two prominent labor organizations have sued the Bush administration for failing to protect nearly 20 million workers from job injuries. In 1999 the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed a rule requiring employers to pay for protective clothing, face shields, gloves and other equipment used by workers. But before the proposal became a standard Mr. Bush was elected to office. Since then, the Department of Labor has neglected to enact the standard and has consistently failed to ensure the safety of America's working men and women. The personal protective equipment (PPE) rule would require employers to pay for safety items that protect workers from job hazards. Many workers in the nation's most dangerous industries, including meatpacking, poultry, and construction, who have high rates of injury, are forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear because of the failure of OSHA to implement the PPE rule. According to OSHA's own figures, 400,000 workers have been injured and 50 have died owing to the lack of the PPE rule.....(full article)

Israel's Dark Future 
by Jonathan Cook

When I published my book Blood and Religion last year, I sought not only to explain what lay behind Israeli policies since the failed Camp David negotiations nearly seven years ago, including the disengagement from Gaza and the building of a wall across the West Bank, but I also offered a few suggestions about where Israel might head next. Making predictions in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict might be considered a particularly dangerous form of hubris, but I could hardly have guessed how soon my fears would be realized. One of the main forecasts of my book was that Palestinians on both sides of the Green Line -- those who currently enjoy Israeli citizenship and those who live as oppressed subjects of Israel's occupation -- would soon find common cause as Israel tries to seal itself off from what it calls the Palestinian "demographic threat": that is, the moment when Palestinians outnumber Jews in the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River. I suggested that Israel's greatest fear was ruling over a majority of Palestinians and being compared to apartheid South Africa, a fate that has possibly befallen it faster than I expected with the recent publication of Jimmy Carter's book, Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid. To avoid such a comparison, I argued, Israel was creating a "Jewish fortress," separating -- at least demographically -- from Palestinians in the occupied territories by sealing off Gaza through a disengagement of its settler population and by building a 750km wall to annex large areas of the West Bank.....(full article)

They Kept On Walking 
by David Rovics

Our taxi dropped us off at the checkpoint outside Nablus so we could then walk through the checkpoint and take another taxi into the city. With the travel restrictions and hundreds of checkpoints everywhere, this is the way you have to travel, if you’re lucky enough to be allowed to travel at all. There, on the outskirts of this ancient Palestinian city, as with every other city in the West Bank, was a heavily-armed gang of young Israeli men and women in green IDF uniforms. One of the men inspected my passport, and spent a few minutes trying to discourage me from entering Nablus. “It’s crazy in there. There are Arab terrorists. There are bombs every night. It’s not safe.” I thanked him for his warning, and thought to myself that he might have an entirely different experience in Nablus if he visited the city in a role other than that of occupation soldier......(full article)

The Ghosts of the Past: Repented Leftists Revisited 
by James Petras

Act 1 scene 1  Cemeteries of the world are filled with ghosts meeting and discussing; ghosts in sheets of red, ghosts in black and red; some with gaping wounds, others without limbs, some beheaded and blinded. Some came from forgotten weed patches, others from under monumental tombstones. Some speak loud and clear, other curse under their breath -- but all are filled with angry indignation. From near and far they all declare.....(full play)

Satan and Sex Manias: Moral Panics and the Mob Mind 
by Lila Rajiva

If, tomorrow, the Times of London decides to write about the employment rate among teenagers in Birmingham, then that is news. Teenagers have always been around in Birmingham, but until they got into the Times they were not news. That is to say they were not considered worthy of being served up with breakfast to half the population of Britain. Why they should now be served up is an entirely arbitrary matter. The Times might as well have served up Icelandic folk dancing or the Pope’s views on transubstantiation or the contents of the yellow pages for all it really matters to you. But once something shows up in the papers, it immediately becomes of the greatest importance to every literate adult in the area -- and most of the illiterate ones as well. They forget their own private affairs -- the loan that must be repaid, the garden that must be mowed, the friend who must be visited -- and instead they give themselves over to earnest cogitation over matters about which they know nothing. Then, they come to believe whatever humbug is being dished out by the guardians of public morals in the press. And before you know it, there is a full-blown moral panic in swing, with every good citizen looking for devils in his closet and under his bed. We turn to a moral panic of the past, those who write the stories of yesteryear have no more of a grip on it than those who keep us up to date with pending business. In history, we encounter a genre of fiction so bizarre that we would wince if we found it within the covers of a book. Such was the case of witchcraft in 17th century Europe as told by novelist Aldous Huxley.....
(full article)

The Dialectics of Love 
by Ron Jacobs

Contradiction is the essence of life and love. Hence the nature of love affairs. And life itself. Politics, too, is a conflict of contradictions which, like love and life, is sometimes volatile and sometimes not. Kim Jensen's novel, The Woman I Left Behind, is about all of these. A story of contradictions loosely tied together inside the framework of a love affair, it is the story of a woman and man coming of age. The story of two young activists -- he a Palestinian refugee and she a well-to-do US citizen with a social conscience derived from guilt and righteous anger -- Jensen's story is one of love and politics. Requisite arguments over the small things lovers argue about occasionally become recriminatory bouts of metaphorical debate between the oppressor and the oppressed. In the mind of the Palestinian Khalid identity politics are just so much privileged nonsense -- an excuse to avoid the genuine issues of class and imperialism. For Irene, a young US woman of privilege, they are the opening lights to a new politically charged world where her ideas make a difference.....(full review)

Bill O'Reilly = Super Genius 
by Mickey Z.

If the recent summit between a mirth master (O'Reilly) and his amusing apprentice (Colbert) proved anything, it was the sheer comedic brilliance of Fox's sardonic culture warrior. For a full decade now, Bill O'Reilly has been living out -- in public -- the greatest impersonation of a knee-jerk right-winger since Senator McCarthy waved his lists of communists . . . and it's long overdue he receive the credit he deserves.....(full article

Dinesh D'Souza and the Smatterers at the Philadelphia Inquirer 
by Walter C. Uhler

This is how it works: The increasingly decadent and profit-driven book publishing business, which is "more concerned with the sensational than the sensible" publishes Dinesh D'Souza's new book. (Quote is from Alan Wolfe's review in the January 21, 2007, New York Times Book Review.) The book provides conclusive evidence, not only that D'Souza is an ignoramus -- although earlier evidence was already quite persuasive -- but also that the Hoover Institution hires hacks, provided they are conservative extremists. Yet, notwithstanding numerous scathing reviews -- for example, Professor Wolfe writes that D'Souza is "a childish thinker and writer tackling subjects about which he knows little to make arguments that reek of political extremism. His book is a national disgrace." -- newspaper editors and TV talk show hosts from around the country pimp for the book, as though they were paid advertisers. Alexander Solzhenitsyn called such people "smatterers" (although he was referring to the debased intelligentsia that pimped for the Soviet state).....(full article)

January 18

Toxic Injustice
Part II: What Must Be Done
by Aaron Sussman

Of the many atrocities and crimes committed by the United States in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, the military's use of Agent Orange has left the most destructive legacy, resulting in the ongoing suffering of both Vietnamese citizens and US veterans, for whom there has been little justice or reconciliation. This is what must be done.....(full article)

“The Fastest-Growing Humanitarian Crisis in the World”
Iraq's Refugee Nightmare  
by Ashley Smith

The US occupation of Iraq is generating one of the largest refugees crises in decades. Reports from Refugees International, Human Rights Watch and the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) document in terrifying detail the desperate plight of Iraqis forced to flee their homes. Close to two million Iraqis have already fled the country, and the rate of the exodus -- currently at as many as 100,000 a month -- shows every sign of increasing. That's only the tip of the iceberg. Another 1.7 million Iraqis have been driven by sectarian violence to leave their homes in integrated areas to live in an ethnic community inside Iraq. This internally displaced population is expanding by 50,000 each month, and the UNHCR predicts it could reach 2.7 million people by the end of 2007. All told, nearly 4 million people out of a prewar population of 26 million have become either refugees or internally displaced. Almost one out of every six Iraqis has fled their homes since the US invaded in 2003. "The current exodus," according to the UNHCR, "is the largest long-term population movement since the displacement of the Palestinians following the creation of Israel in 1948." Kenneth Bacon, president of Refugees International, said Iraq represents the "fastest-growing humanitarian crisis in the world. The United States and its allies sparked the current chaos in Iraq, but they are doing little to ease the humanitarian crisis."......(full article)

Housing Bubble Catastrophe 
by Mike Whitney

I wonder if Alan Greenspan takes a copy of the business page along with him on the chair lift at the Aspen, so he can read about the plummeting housing market before swooshing down the well-groomed bunny slopes at his favorite ski resort. After all, no one played a larger role in inflating what the Economist called the “biggest equity bubble in history” than the retired Fed-master. His low interest rate bonanza triggered a stampede of speculation in the real estate market sending prices through the stratosphere and setting the stage for the biggest economic bust in American history. The whole catastrophe was cooked up by Sir Alan and his coterie of brandy-drooling elites at the Federal Reserve. Thanks, guys. Greenspan has undoubtedly taken note of the sudden spike in foreclosures, which have set off alarm bells from Wall Street to the American heartland. The effects of his “cheap money” policies are finally sending tremors through America’s fragile economic landscape. In September 2006 the US Foreclosure Market Report released a statement that over 112,000 homes had entered some stage of foreclosure -- “a 63% increase from September 2005”! September was the second straight month in which more than 110,000 new foreclosure filings were reported nationwide, evidence that the spike in August was not just a “one-month anomaly.”.....(full article)

Killing the Golden Goose: A Look at The Iraq Study Group Report 
by Ed Kinane

“The situation in Iraq is grave and deteriorating.” With these terse yet understated words the Iraq Study Group begins its Report. The Group is a ten-person consensus committee headed by former Congressman Lee H. Hamilton and former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. Its Report was released to the world on December 6. The Report is a quick read -- its 79 recommendations are introduced and presented in about 100 pages. If Mr. Bush were to read it, he'd find little new information about Iraq. Rather he would find a counter-assessment of the war -- one he wouldn't hear from the yes men and chickenhawks and ideologues with whom he surrounds himself. The Report would reveal the thinking and anxieties of the US foreign policy establishment. It would reflect their disenchantment with the President's Iraq "strategy." Although convened in June 2006 under the auspices of the United States Institute of Peace, the Iraq Study Group is no gaggle of pacifists or humanitarians; check out the 18 pages -- about one sixth of the entire text -- devoted to their respective curricula vitae. The Group, while on a different page than Mr. Bush, is in the same chapter: it perpetuates the denial and the imperial mindset behind the US invasion and protracted occupation of Iraq. If Mr. Bush were winning in Iraq -- that is, if he somehow were imposing his will on that unruly region and handing over control of its vast oil reserves to US corporations -- this Group would feel no need to speak out.....(full article)

Further Along the Dead-End Road We Call the Iraq War 
by Ron Jacobs

If there was ever any doubt about who is really running the war in Iraq, George Bush erased it last Wednesday night. Subsequent testimony before Congress by administration spokespeople and various news reports make it clear that the White House and the Pentagon are firmly in control of making policy and military decisions regarding that debacle. Indeed, hints have been dropped by Secretary of State Rice and Secretary of Defense Gates that if the current regime in Baghdad drags it feet in helping the US military institute its raids and lockdowns of the city it could find itself no longer in power......(full article)

Washing War Crimes at the Washington Post  
by Ahmed Amr

You can read all about the nasty business of washing war crimes at the Washington Post. They start with fixing the headline "Death in Haditha" -- not "Mass Murder in Haditha" or "Another American Atrocity in Iraq." Next, forget the damning details, screw the truth and give the perpetrators all the room in the world to blame their conduct on "mistakes" made in the heat of battle amidst the fog of war. There never was any mystery about what happened in Haditha. Four of the victims were students and the fifth was a taxi driver giving them a lift back from school. One of the Marines involved in the executions later urinated on the bodies. The same company of Marines continued their killing spree by butchering twenty other civilians, including women and children. As usual, the Pentagon managed to cover up the story for a few months. Fortunately, in this instance, the survivors got to tell their story.....(full article)

The Bush Administration's FDA 
by Evelyn Pringle

Since the Bush administration took control of the FDA, editorial pages in the major newspapers, along with respected medical journals, have broadcast outrage over the agency’s failure to protect the public from an industry focused on profits only. According to a May 2006 poll conducted by the Wall Street Journal and Harris Interactive, the majority of adults in the US think the FDA's most important function is to ensure the safety and efficacy of new prescription drugs. However, the poll found that the public has come to doubt the FDA's ability to do its job, with 7 out of 10 adults giving the agency a negative rating and a large majority saying the FDA’s decisions is influenced more by politics than science. Experts from all over the country have been openly expressing their concerns about the FDA and urging lawmakers to act. On October 9, 2006, Dr. Curt Furberg of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center was one of five current and former members of the FDA's Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, who called on Congress to change how the FDA polices Big Pharma, in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Because of the FDA's poor performance in regulating the industry, Dr. Furberg said, "new drugs are introduced on the market with inadequate safety documentation.".....(full article)

Barack Obama: The Mania and the Mirage
by Glen Ford

“Mirage” is the best metaphor for Barack Obama. He shimmers on the horizon, a promise of . . . something. But as one draws closer, Obama dissipates into nothingness -- which is his purpose. Like a mirage, Obama floats as an illusion in the political intersections between hot and cool air. It is the place he seeks: the deliberately chosen -- yet ever-shifting -- layer between other forces that are themselves constantly moving across the landscape. As the Illinois Senator this weekend announced his intention to create a presidential “exploratory committee,” corporate pundits pegged him as nestled in the Democratic niche between Hillary Clinton, to his right -- based her relatively “hot” air on Iraq -- and the much cooler, if not frigid, temperatures at the base of the party. That’s Obama’s intermediary comfort zone -- a place of ever-interpretable impressions. "I've been struck by how hungry we all are for a different kind of politics,” said Obama in a video posted on his website. “So I spent some time thinking about how I could best advance the cause of change and progress we so desperately need.” Ahh, so that’s what the period between now and February 10, when he will make his presidential intentions official, is all about: thinking time. Obama is known for choosing his words very carefully. His admirers say that’s a sign of his conscientious nature, that he doesn’t want to inadvertently say the wrong thing, to speak irresponsibly. The truth is, Obama is determined to say next to nothing substantive at all, unless it is designed to position himself in some mellow region between opposing forces.....(full article)

Runaway American Brainwashing 
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Americans do not want to know this. They have been successfully brainwashed to fear exactly what their revered Constitution gives them the right to have. Those smart Framers of the Constitution decided that we needed exactly what the establishment, pro-status quo elitists who run our plutocracy do NOT want us to have. There is even a well funded semi-secret group organized to prevent what we the people have a right to. Has the brainwashing worked? (full article)

Was Jesus an Evil-Doer? 
by Mickey Z.

Everyone knows George W. Bush loves Jesus. You might even say he's crazy about him. As governor of Texas, he went as far as to proclaim June 10, 2000 to be "Jesus Day," for chrissake. "I urge all Texans to answer the call to serve those in need," Dubya declared. "By volunteering their time, energy or resources to helping others, adults and youngsters follow Christ's message of love and service in thought and deed." Everyone also knows George W. Bush does not love evil-doers. "Our war against terror is a war against individuals whose hearts are full of hate," the president says. His administration has also made no secret of its disdain for so-called "domestic terrorists" and "eco-terrorists," and they have the recently passed Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (AETA) to prove it. Oddly, the AETA is one of the many places where the whole "Jesus Day" thing comes back to bite Georgie in the ass.....(full article)

One Country: Reviewing an Alternative Vision 
by Remi Kanazi

For years the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been mired by a series of failed peace negotiation, enmeshing Israeli Jews and Palestinians in a seemingly intractable struggle. Even 59 years after the creation of the state of Israel the quest for Jewish security has not been realized, while Palestinians -- those dispossessed in 1948, 1967, and the 3.8 million living under Israeli occupation -- have not seen a just resolution to a conflict that has marred their history and shaped their identity. The international community, including many Israeli and Palestinians, still subscribe to the notion that the two-state solution is the only way to settle the conflict. Ali Abunimah's new book, One Country: A Bold Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse, exposes the impracticality of partition and presents an alternative vision, one that encompasses both peoples on the basis of equal rights. The vision Abunimah presents is a one state solution.....(full article)

January 17

“We're Taking Down Seven Countries in Five Years”:
A Regime Change Checklist
by Gary Leupp

Last October in a speech at the University of Alabama Gen. Wesley Clark again recounted his conversation with a general at the Pentagon in November 2001.

I said, "Are we still going to invade Iraq?" "Yes, Sir," he said, "but it's worse than that." I said, "How do you mean?" He held up this piece of paper. He said, "I just got this memo today or yesterday from the office of the Secretary of Defense upstairs. It's a, it's a five-year plan. We're going to take down seven countries in five years. We're going to start with Iraq, then Syria, Lebanon, then Libya, Somalia, Sudan, we're going to come back and get Iran in five years. I said, "Is that classified, that paper?" He said, "Yes Sir." I said, "Well, don't show it to me, because I want to be able to talk about it."

This was of course just two months after 9-11, when Americans' attention was focused on al-Qaeda and preparations for an invasion of Afghanistan where Osama bin Laden lived as a guest of the Taliban. Five years and two months have passed. The plan to "take down" all those countries is behind schedule, and has even been modified somewhat. Libya has left the target list due to Muammar Qaddafi's agreement to dismantle his WMD programs in 2003. (Bush has tried to take credit for that, although patient British diplomacy deserves more credit. During Anglo-American negotiations with Libya the British were so disgusted with John Bolton's behavior they asked that Bush's envoy be removed from the talks.) But the U.S. did indeed take down Iraq, and all the other countries listed remain in the crosshairs.....(full article)

Obama and the Middle East: The Next Big Bamboozler?  
by Joshua Frank 

So I guess we know what the buzz is going to be for the next, ah, year or so. It looks like Barack Obama, the rookie Senator from Illinois, is going to run for president. He has received a plethora of accolades from key primary states in recent weeks for his (alleged) tenacity and willingness to shoot it straight -- not unlike the great bamboozler before him, Bill Clinton, who seemed to fool most everyone into believing his words actually meant something.....(full article)

The Michelle Manhart Video: US Air Force Recruitment Tool? 
by Peter Rost

It is okay to be a peeping Tom in the armed services, but not to be naked. In fact, it is worse to be photographed naked than to be a sexual predator. Nudity may result in discharge, sexual misconduct is disciplined administratively, with a reduction in rank or forfeiture of pay. Our armed services deserve a lot of respect. They put their lives on the line for the rest of us. Due to the war in Iraq, recruitment has become very difficult and President Bush's announcement that he will send additional troops to the area has not made it easier to enroll new soldiers. In steps a savior: Michelle Manhart. (Video here.) ............(full peep)

Don't Support Our Troops 
by Joe Mowrey

The slogan "Support Our Troops" has come to symbolize gas-guzzling SUV's with magnetic yellow ribbons on the back and American flag decals in the window. In an effort to guard themselves against accusations they are unpatriotic, Progressives have co-opted that phrase and added the words "Bring Them Home Now." The intention of this new slogan is to claim the troops as our own, not just pawns of the right wing. We support them by wanting to end the war and bring them home. Implicit in this support is the notion that they deserve our unflagging gratitude and enthusiasm because they are not responsible for their situation. They are only following orders. It is up to us to see to it that they are extricated from the desperate circumstances our politicians have created for them. Both uses of this sound bite ignore the despotic nature of the military industrial complex in this country. Both are wrong......(full article)

A Positive Agenda For Media Reform  
by Steve Anderson

On the 2005 National Conference for Media Reform, I noted that media reformers were preparing for what they called "the perfect storm." By "the perfect storm," they were referring to when the FCC and Congress would make crucial decisions about the future of the media, specifically in relation to the Internet. It was expected that the huge telecommunications lobby would aggressively push to sway these decisions to their favor, whilst the public (rallied by media reform groups and independent media) would be evermore informed and engaged in media issues. This amounts to what Robert McChesney called "a moment of danger and a moment of spectacular opportunity." The perfect storm is now upon us and it was evident with the explosive atmosphere of the 2007 National Conference for Media Reform that took place in Memphis, Tennessee on January 12-14. Media activists, educators, journalists, policymakers and concerned citizens from many countries, and nearly every state in the US attended the National Conference for Media Reform, an event that aimed to move media issues to the forefront of public discourse in the United States.....(full article)

January 16

Rethinking Security in the US-Mexico Borderlands 
by Joseph Nevins

The last time I was in Arizona was late July. About the same time that I was leaving Tucson and driving toward El Paso, 13-year-old Julio Hernandez was found in Sunland Park, New Mexico. He had dragged his dead mother's body through the desert after she collapsed. Adela Hernandez was 46-years-old. According to the one newspaper report I found on her death, she appeared to have died of dehydration or exposure to heat. She and her son were from somewhere in central Mexico, and were on their way to Florida where her husband and Julio's father worked. Adela Hernandez died from a lack of security, and, simultaneously, from too much of it. That she died from both a lack and an overabundance of security is not a play on words. Rather, it highlights that there are different types of security, and that depending on how it is defined -- geographically and socially -- that security for some can and often does lead to profound insecurity for others -- and that's what I want to discuss with you. Security here in the United States is what some have referred to as a "God-word"  -- something universally embraced, and insufficiently questioned -- at least among supporters of the status quo. "Security" is of concern to us because it is at the center of present-day debates surrounding immigration and the US-Mexico boundary. And with the November elections and the Democrats gaining majorities in both the House and the Senate, there are some new openings to make changes in these areas.....(full article)

The Handwriting on the Wall Says “Iran” 
by Gary Leupp

In the Bible story, the Babylonian king Belshazzar is feasting with his courtiers at a banquet, using the sacred golden goblets plundered from Solomon's Temple in Jerusalem as wine cups. Suddenly, out of nowhere a hand appears; it writes a cryptic message on the chamber wall. The king's counselors are unable to decipher it, so Daniel is called in to interpret its meaning. (Daniel is a Jew of the exile and a very wise man. Many years ago he had interpreted the dreams of the king's father Nebuchadnezzar.) The handwriting on the wall, Daniel tells King Belshazzar, consists of the Aramaic words mene mene tekel upharsin (literally "numbered, numbered, weighed, divided"), a message which decoded means: "God has numbered the days of your kingdom and brought it to an end; you have been weighed on the scales and found wanting; your kingdom is divided . . . " The last word upharsin sounds like "Persia" in Aramaic, so Daniel adds that the divided kingdom of Babylonia will be "given to the Medes and Persians" (New Oxford Annotated Bible translation). It's among the most famous Bible puns. Belshazzar's tenure in office was in fact short, according to Babylonian records; after three years on the throne he was toppled by Cyrus the Persian. Cyrus captured his capital, Babylon (between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers south of today's Baghdad) in 530 BCE. I think of this story when reading the warnings appearing in the US press addressed to Iraq's puppet prime minister Nouri al-Maliki.....(full article)

Toxic Injustice
Part I: What Was Done 
by Aaron Sussman

Of the many atrocities and crimes committed by the United States in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War, the military's use of Agent Orange has left the most destructive legacy, resulting in the ongoing suffering of Vietnamese citizens and US veterans. This is what was done . . . . War is Hell, but, for many, so is the aftermath, the ensuing "peace" that emerges out of war's dust and ashes. Long after the last bullet tears through the flesh of the last soldier, the Hell of pain, suffering, and trauma remains. Though military operations in the Vietnam War have been over for decades, the war continues to rage each day in the form of children born with severe deformities, desiccated land that was once rich and arable, and veterans on both sides of the conflict who frequently develop new symptoms and are constantly plagued by old ones. The devastating effects of Agent Orange, a defoliant used to thin out the Vietnam jungle and destroy enemy crops, are a blemish on the US national record and a glaring reminder of American foreign policy that has little respect for life and law. Decades later, the lethal effects linger, but there has been no justice.....(full article)

Bush the Empire Slayer 
by Bernard Chazelle

If you fancy losing an argument, try shooting down my contention that Mikhail Gorbachev is the leading historical figure of our time. Not one to miss a shooting opportunity, Dick Cheney tried. To my surprise, he won. Westerners fondly remember Gorbachev for finishing off an ailing Soviet empire left bleeding from its Afghan travails. Defusing half a century of nuclear tension can leave a mark on impressionable minds. On Cheney's -- not so much. The former Defense Secretary had a tender spot for the Cold War and never forgave Gorbachev for ending it with not even a kind word for defense contractors. Cheney is the quintessential warrior, with plenty of dead quails and birdshot-peppered lawyers to prove it. He is the gallant hussar -- one day greenlighting "Shock and Awe" to give Guernica a second chance; the next day apprising US Senator Pat Leahy of his favorite sexual technique: "Fuck yourself!" Quite the martial wag, the man Maureen Dowd calls Big-Time Dick saluted the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989 by persuading his boss to invade Panama (for reasons no one seems able to remember). And today it is anybody's guess which Caribbean island the United States will invade to celebrate its victory in Iraq. Dick Cheney is a man of war, and a man on a mission: a crusader who won't rest until the name Bush Jr. is etched in the history books -- not lost in the microscopic print of the endnotes section, mind you, as is destined to be Senior's fate, but glowing in the radiant typeface of a chapter heading. That mission, for once, is all but accomplished. In January of 2001, George W. Bush took -- er, grabbed -- the reins of an American Empire at its zenith. He will soon hand back a smoldering wreckage of broken lives, enduring hatred, and vanished influence. Michael Ignatieff has called Pax Americana Empire Lite. A better phrase would be Empire Short-Lived, or, if you're William F. Buckley Jr. and the vernacular ruffles your literary feathers, Imperium Brevissimum. At a recent ceremony for his son Jeb, George H. W. Bush was caught on national television sobbing uncontrollably. Pity the man who stands one short letter away from the worst president in US history. The letter is H, as in H for hubris.....(full article)

Turning on the War 
by Joshua Frank

It really is a blunder that my generation (20-somethings), and those to come after it, will have to atone for decades to come. Blood. Death. Occupation. The remnants of imperial greed. Policies run amuck. Perhaps an empire can only function when it is dysfunctional. A kind of serial killer on life support. Indeed, chaos is the natural pattern of villainous deeds, and America has bloodstained hands. The United States is not really even an empire anyway, as Slavoj Zizek recently put it in the New York Times. "That is, while pretending to be an empire, it continues to act like a nation-state, ruthlessly pursuing its interests." Even so, the "Land of the Free" still does as it pleases, despite international opposition and common sense....(full article)

Our Road to Guantanamo: In Search of Peace  
by Cindy Sheehan

Asif Iqbal is a quiet, but funny and quick-witted 25-year-old British man of Indian descent who was detained illegally in Guantanamo Bay prison for 2½ years before his government was finally able to obtain his release. Asif's story is a traumatic tale of survival. From the first moment that he was sold to the Americans by bounty hunters, he was forced to leave Afghanistan, miraculously lived through hails of bullets that killed hundreds in the back of truck containers to arriving in Guantanamo prison camp where he was actually relieved to discover that he would be in the hands of Americans. Asif was under the tragic and very mistaken impression that Americans were good and would treat him more humanely than his captors. He soon found out that Americans could be just as brutal as the next person......(full article)

Everything Your Denial Keeps You From Seeing Children Of Men 
by Carolyn Baker

Director Alfonso Cuaron has adapted P.D. James' 1993 futuristic novel written in the genre of George Orwell into a stunning film that many people will not see -- dare not see, because it depicts the world we all fear we are being catapulted into at lightning speed. That world of the year 2027 is one that folks my age may or may not be around for, but if given the choice, I prefer to pass.....(full article)

Wanted: Creative Extremists 
by Mickey Z.

When reporting on the infamous New York School of abstract expressionist painters in 1947, art critic Clement Greenberg pondered, "What can fifty do against one hundred and forty million?" It wasn't so much an entire population stacked against a band of radical painters that Greenberg was contemplating. Rather, it was 140 million Americans essentially ignoring a movement that would eventually change the face of art. The US population has more than doubled in the fifty-plus years since Jackson Pollock dripped his way onto the cover of Life magazine and there are still plenty of movements being ignored by the majority. In fact, lurking beneath the homogenized, one-size-fits-all surface of today's consumer culture, there's a broad range of indefatigable rabble-rousers doing their thing.....(full article)


R.I.P. Michael Brecker (1949-2007)

Highly acclaimed jazz saxophonist Michael Brecker, a towering giant in the jazz and pop world (Brecker Brothers, Paul Simon, Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock), and one of my biggest musical influences, died this morning after struggling in recent years with myelodysplastic syndrome, which progressed to leukemia. He will be terribly missed. Here's a video clip of Brecker performing John Coltrane's "Naima." (Photo by Dennis Owsley) -- Sunil

January 13

The Anti-Empire Report
Johnny Got His Gun 
by William Blum

In the past year Iran has issued several warnings to the United States about the consequences of an American or Israeli attack. One statement, issued in November by a high Iranian military official, declared: "If America attacks Iran, its 200,000 troops and 33 bases in the region will be extremely vulnerable, and both American politicians and military commanders are aware of it." Iran apparently believes that American leaders would be so deeply distressed by the prospect of their young men and women being endangered and possibly killed that they would forswear any reckless attacks on Iran. As if American leaders have been deeply stabbed by pain about throwing youthful American bodies into the bottomless snakepit called Iraq, or were restrained by fear of retaliation or by moral qualms while feeding 58,000 young lives to the Vietnam beast. As if American leaders, like all world leaders, have ever had such concerns. Let's have a short look at some modern American history, which may be instructive in this regard.....
(full article)

Who Rules America? 
by James Petras

In the broadest and deepest sense, understanding how the US political system functions, the decisions of war and peace are taken, who gets what, how and why, requires that we address the question of 'Who rules America?' In tackling the question of 'ruling' one needs to clarify a great deal of misunderstandings, particularly the confusion between those who make governmental decisions and the socio-economic institutional parameters which define the interests to be served. 'Ruling' is exacting: it defines the 'rules' to be followed by the political and administrative decision-makers in formulating budgetary expenditures, taxes, labor and social legislation, trade policy, military and strategic questions of war and peace. The 'rules' are established, modified and adjusted according to the specific composition of the leading sectors of a ruling class (RC). Rules change with shifts in power within the ruling class. Shifts in power can reflect the internal dynamics of an economy or the changing position of economic sectors in the world economy, particularly the rise and decline of economic competitors.....
(full article)

The Shape-Shifting Of A Hitman 
by Lila Rajiva

In 1971, at the age of 26, John Perkins became what he called an economic hit man (EHM) for a secretive international consulting firm called Chas. T. Main, Inc. His job was to produce research to justify World Bank loans of billions of dollars to poor countries for public projects like dams and electrification. He was to produce economic forecasts for them of up to 20-25 years that were so exuberant that they would convince the governments to take the loans. Straight out of the Peace Corps in Ecuador, Perkins was dazzled by the money, prestige, and James Bond aura his new life offered. Soon, he became a master of producing outrageous forecasts that brought in massive contracts for construction and engineering to Main and other US companies, like Bechtel, Halliburton and Brown and Root. Perkins's work didn't end with just enriching his firm, though. He claims he was also actively involved in schemes to bankrupt countries so that they would forever present easy targets for their first world creditors when the creditors were in need of military bases, access to resources, or votes in the UN. If the leaders of the targeted countries displayed too independent a style of thinking, the EHM was replaced by a more sinister figure -- the jackal. The jackal simply eliminated the troublemaker. The jackals were the CIA-sanctioned thugs who instigate coups, abduct and assassinate. And behind them was the US military. We have no idea how much of Mr. Perkins mea culpa is true. But if even a quarter of it has a toe-hold in reality, it will shock the average reader. By his account, the US government is running an empire of a size and duplicity unparalleled in world history....(full article)

Public Has a Right to Know Secrets Revealed in Zyprexa Documents 
by Evelyn Pringle

In deciding whether to allow Eli Lilly to continue to use court orders to hide documents that show the company illegally marketed Zyprexa for unapproved uses and failed to warn the public about the serious health risks associated with the drug for a decade, the court needs to consider the harm done to the public by Lilly's conduct. The public has a right to know everything about the drugs-for-profit scheme revealed in the documents since the majority of profits made off Zyprexa came from the public trough. The court needs to recognize the harm done to taxpayers in billing public health care programs like Medicaid for the massive off-label sale of the drug. According to the October 23, 2005 San Francisco Chronicle, nationwide, Medicaid programs purchase an estimated 60 to 75% of antipsychotic drugs.....(full article)

An Iraq Jobs Program? 
by Seth Sandronsky

Discontent with President Bush's "New Way Forward in Iraq" is deep and wide across the US and around the world. A big reason is his recent decision to deploy 21,000 additional US troops to Iraq. Opinion polls show that the American public's approval of Bush's job performance has plunged to a new low. On this note of displeasure, we turn to the president's call for the creation of new employment in Iraq. "To show that it is committed to delivering a better life, the Iraqi government will spend $10 billion of its own money on reconstruction and infrastructure projects that will create new jobs," he said in his January 10 address. Of course Iraqis out of work need to be on employers' payrolls. Just ask Rudy Giuliani, former mayor of New York City, and Newt Gingrich, a former Congressman and current senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. In a January 12 Wall Street Journal op-ed, they estimate that Iraq has a 30 percent to 50 percent jobless rate, and suggest creating "an Iraqi Citizen Job Corps, along the lines of FDR's civilian conservation corps during the Great Depression.".....(full article)

George W. Bush: A Symptom of Disease 
by Charles Sullivan

Sometimes you look around and wonder how things could have gone so wrong so quickly. America has become the antithesis of everything she purports to be. We are the greatest purveyors of violence the world has ever known; the largest weapons dealers on earth; and death and misery are our principal exports. Everything is for sale here, even men's tormented souls -- at least, those who still possess them. Our imperial leader, an impish little man with clear sociopathic symptoms, is incapable of empathy for the struggles of the common people, as those born into wealth and privilege often are. The man with his finger on the nuclear detonator is mentally ill, incapable of remorse -- a fact that should terrify every world citizen. I do not say this out of malice or to demean the president; it is simply a statement of fact based upon quantifiable evidence that any student of psychology would easily recognize.....(full article)

An Inconvenient History: MLK and War 
by Oscar Gonzalez

They are about to trot him out again. MLK, that is. It's a ritual as automatic and antiseptic as the Super Bowl, a pageant of irrelevancy that occurs around the same time. The guy they show us isn't MLK. They show us a saint, even a martyr to the cause of racial justice, a goal that most Americans think we achieved a long time ago. The icon serves an important role. It preserves the power structure, a strange claim when considering MLK was a subversive through and through. We will have the President  and political and business leaders say solemn words on MLK Day. The military will be held up as a paragon of integration.  Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell will be invoked. It is a call to keep going where the Decider directs us ... over the cliff. This is not new.  Apple Computer used MLK and Gandhi to sell computers in the 1990s. Anti-affirmative action zealots love to invoke MLK. The funny thing is that Martin Luther King, Jr. would be hated and condemned by these very same politicians and corporate types if he, or someone like him, managed to somehow pop up in our nation's consciousness. He would be hated, condemned, spied upon as a terrorist, and probably made to disappear. Sort of what really happened to him. There is an antidote to this communal self-blinding, of course. It's called history.....(full article)

Guantanamo Protests & Silence About Cuban Five 
by Joan Malerich

I find it very interesting and disturbing that not one piece of information about the protests regarding the injustices and terrorism at the US gulag in Guantanamo, Cuba, has made any connection to the treatment of the Cuban Five Heroes incarcerated in five different federal gulags within the United States. Cindy Sheehan, who is protesting at the US gulag in Cuba, has also made this omission. Hopefully, she will make this connection before she leaves Cuba. It is hard not to know about the Five when in Cuba, as their pictures are posted in many places and there is continual discussion and actions regarding their case. Connections that should be made and part of the discussion: ......(full article)

Western Impressions 
by Said Shirazi

I'm just back from California and here's what I saw. San Francisco was so beautiful to my eyes that it seemed like a city of the future. New residential high-rises are springing up from Giants stadium all the way up to the Embarcadero, modern Miami-like buildings perched atop convenient groceries and coffee shops. The blessed citizenry were blithely riding Vespa scooters and even skateboards up and down the gently rolling streets. But the friendly relations I observed between server and served out in Marin Country somehow struck me as more narcissistic than egalitarian. When I overheard a man holding a wax-paper wrapped package telling the butcher he was going to toss a few of the steaks in his smoker, I couldn't help thinking, Like he cares! And when the bagger picked up the Green Tea flavored mochi ice cream my sister-in-law was buying and said with delight, These are my favorite, I was similarly annoyed. The next stop on my trip was Palm Springs, which was all oldsters dressed for the links. Even the airport, largely open to the elements, felt like you were at a country club. I spotted two Bentleys on a single outing. We drove on wide avenues past the desert houses, which were as low and featureless as machine-gun pillboxes and had about as much curb appeal as mausoleums. As in the Gulf states, water is wasted as a show of wealth by over a hundred golf courses and even a luxury mall, The River at Rancho Mirage, whose Cheesecake Factory enjoys the privilege of beholding its own reflection in the artificial canal that surrounds it......
(full article)

Man Fuel: Is it in You? Of Savage Imperialism, Pigskin Monopolists, and Intellectual Emasculation  
by Jason Miller

Searching for masculine bliss incarnate? Look no further than NFL football and its myriad machismo delights. Fierce armor-clad gladiators applying wicked hits, battering each other relentlessly, engaging in bone-jarring collisions, and performing feats of near super-human athleticism. Provocatively undressed cheerleaders manifesting our culture's ideal of feminine perfection. Rivers of ice cold beer gushing forth to satiate our desire to numb the mind and lower inhibitions. And lest we forget, the NFL provides us with "Man Law" to shield us from our long repressed anima, which is constantly poised to assail our grossly exaggerated masculinity. For about six precious months of the year, the National Football League delivers heavy doses of testosterone, blood, adrenaline, and alcohol. Man fuel for its addicted minions. Through the grace of our corporate gods, a host of media innovations (including a network devoted to the NFL and painstakingly detailed year round analyses) have significantly diminished the agony of off-season withdrawal. What could better reflect the collective psychosis of the American Empire than our mass obsession with the NFL? (full article)

Patriotism as Propaganda, Part II 
by Media Lens

Following the death of Ronald Reagan in June 2004, the US media watchdog FAIR reported that major US newspapers had used the phrase "death squad" just five times in connection with the former US president, two of them in letters to the editor. None of the three major US TV networks, or CNN and Fox, mentioned death squads at all. (Media Advisory: “Reagan: Media Myth and Reality,” June 9, 2004,  And yet Reagan's eight years in office resulted in a bloodbath as Washington funneled money, weapons and military training to client dictators and right-wing death squads across Central America. The consequences were catastrophic: more than 70,000 political killings in El Salvador, 100,000 in Guatemala, and 30,000 in the US Contra war waged against Nicaragua. Journalist Allan Nairn describes it as "One of the most intensive campaigns of mass murder in recent history." (Democracy Now, June 8, 2004) BBC Newsnight anchor, Gavin Esler, wrote: “Ronald Wilson Reagan embodied the best of the American spirit -- the optimistic belief that problems can and will be solved, that tomorrow will be better than today, and that our children will be wealthier and happier than we are.” (Esler, “The great communicator,” Daily Mail, June 7, 2004) Fast forward to December 26 and the death of former president Gerald Ford.....(full article)

The Memory of Military Occupation in Panama 
by Gregory Stephens

While the Bush Administration was revealing plans to send another 20,000 troops to Iraq, I was observing Martyr’s Day, a national holiday celebrated in Panama on January 9. This national memorial to blood shed during a protest against symbols of American military occupation gave me plenty of food for thought about the complex legacy of American Empire, past and present.....(full article)

Cinema of Complexity: Becoming Dissident Cinema 
by Tony Kashani

If scientists were to analyze my DNA they would find in there an element that could easily be defined as “cinema.” This also may be true of a great portion of humanity. From Bombay to Zanzibar to Paris to Tehran to New York to San Francisco to Tokyo to Bangkok to Peking to New Delhi to Kashmir, virtually everywhere, people love cinema -- or at least, in my romantically constructive way -- I would like to think that is the case. Cinema is a complex art form. In the present age, the most dominant form of cinema is the kind that is generated by the machinery we often refer to as “Hollywood.” Hollywood manufactures narratives. That is, the kind of narratives which sell tickets, merchandise, and ideas (e.g., fantasies, dreams, myths, beliefs, etc.). These narratives for the most part are specifically designed to be simplified versions of the old myths, the Aristotelian either/or, Manichean good vs. Evil discourse (e.g., Star Wars series), love conquers all under patriarchy (e.g., When Harry Met Sally), happy-face culture of neoliberal market economy, and so on. Then along the way, there, in the margins, exist a cinema that dissents and refuses to generate the same old formulas to reinforce conformity to the project of globalization (spearheaded by the US). A dissident cinema, you may ask? Indeed. I am referring to a narrative cinema that in form may resemble the professional Hollywood product, but in content it is far and away a different -- more complex -- story......(full article)

January 11

Apocalypse No! (Part III) The Law of Life and the Law of Death
The Great Emergency: Global Warming, Mass Death and
Resource Wars in the 21st Century   
by Juan Santos

At the Sundance Film Festival Al Gore declared, "We have a category five denial of this issue [global warming]. I believe our political system is broken, however, I have optimism and hope. A rebellion is gathering." But rebellion isn't what Al Gore is fostering. Speaking at NYU against what one commentator called a "stately backdrop of American flags," Gore's comments were focused on "uplift," and calls to action slathered in a "thick layer of patriotism" and good old capitalist know-how. He seemed oblivious to irony, saying of the US, "Our natural role is to be the pace car in the race to stop global warming." The feel good approach Gore pushes is dead wrong: Economic growth and saving life on Earth are not compatible goals. Industrial civilization isn't harming the Earth, it's killing the Earth. The system has long since passed the limits of growth -- it can't be sustained. The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, a four-year analysis of the world's ecosystems sponsored by the Worldwatch Institute, showed that 15 out of 24 ecosystems essential to human life are "being pushed beyond their sustainable limits," toward a state of collapse that may be "abrupt and potentially irreversible." These ecosystems and the civilization that is killing them are both approaching an endpoint.....(full article)

Bush to America: War! 
by Jack Random

Faced with a collapse of popular and political support, the president’s response in an address to the nation was astonishing: Not only will the war effort go on unabated; it will be escalated and expanded. The first question that arises is: Why was it necessary to dawn the mask of deliberations, dancing silently through two months of weighty consultations, for this?
(full article)

“Without Question”?
On Growing Military Opposition to the Cheney-Bush Invasion of Iraq

by Paul Street

It's nice to know that, as the New York Times reported last Monday, there is "widespread skepticism about the Bush administration's Iraq strategy" among congressional "Democrats and some Republicans" (Michael Gordon and Jeff Zeleny, "Latest Plan Sets a Series of Goals for Iraq Leaders," NYT, 8 January 2007, A1). Too bad the newly emboldened (one would think) Democratic leadership in Congress has taken de-funding of Bush's war (not to mentioning impeaching Bush for the deceptions that led to that war and the criminal nature of the war's conduct) off the table in advance of the new legislative session. Too bad top Democrats are too frightened of being tarred with "losing Iraq" to act fully and forcefully in accord with the majority of (United States of) Americans (and Iraqis, for what that's worth) opposition to the war. And too bad the Democrats' centrist presidential hopeful Barack Obama says that his party will be "punished in '08" if it doesn't seem like it wants to "work with" the criminal, monumentally incompetent, messianic, vainglorious and (surprise) remarkably unpopular Bush administration. What about the troops charged with actual prosecution of Washington's illegal, racist and imperialist oil occupation, currently poised for a deadly escalation (a so-called "Surge")? How do they feel about the war? Their resistance to Bush's terrible Iraq policy could become a major factor leading to the end of the war before untold thousands more GIs and Iraqis die because of the mass violence the invasion incites and encourages.....(full article)

American Leaders Promise More Pain --
Democrats, Republicans, CEOs, Generals United 
by John Stanton

 . . . But the nail in the coffin, so to speak, is that “The Vote” does not matter one bit. The 2006 mid-term elections in the USA sent a clear signal to US leaders that the time had come to get out of Iraq. And yet as the new year enters, Democrats and Republicans, CEO's and Generals are united in their support for a troop “surge” in Iraq. Those in charge in America are creating the conditions that lead to open revolt. When votes do not matter, when draconian laws and regulations weigh on people, when employment is uncertain, and there is no longer any outlet for expression, frustration and anger set in. That leads to violence.....(full article)

Oprah and Bad Samaritans 
by Margaret Kimberley

Is it possible to complain about good deeds? A New York City construction worker, Wesley Autrey, is now world famous because he risked his life to save a stranger. The act was reckless but Autrey is alive, and so is the man he saved from an oncoming subway car. It does seem unkind to criticize. While Autrey received accolades and/or money from David Letterman, Mayor Bloomberg, Disney World and Donald Trump, Oprah Winfrey was winning kudos on the other side of the world. She opened a boarding school, the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, in South Africa. It might have been dubbed Good Samaritan Week.....(full article)

January 10

-- Website of the Day --
Guantanamo Confidential. A video clip about Adel Hamad, imprisoned for five years as an "enemy combatant, despite
lack of any allegations or evidence that he ever acted against the US or its allies, or even had political sympathies for those who did. (From, the official blog of Dissident Voice)

A Dark Anniversary 
by William Fisher

This week, as the world marks the fifth anniversary of the arrival of the first detainees at the US naval facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a growing number of people and organizations -- from military officers to religious leaders to legal scholars to human rights groups -- continue to label the prison a black hole of injustice and demand that it be closed. The facility, established following the war in Afghanistan in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on New York City and the Pentagon, has been controversial throughout the world as the US Department of Defense (DOD) imprisoned hundreds of alleged terrorists. It has been widely condemned for prisoner abuse and for the absence of any meaningful process to separate genuine wrongdoers from people detained because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Recently departed Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld repeatedly declared all the detainees “the worst of the worst.” But from its peak inmate population of 773, several hundred detainees have been released -- mostly because the DOD concluded that they no longer represented a threat to US national security -- the camp continues to house more than 400 prisoners. While the US military claimed Guantanamo inmates were captured “on the battlefield” in Afghanistan, and designated by the Bush Administration as enemy combatants, there has been mounting evidence that a number were victims of what is known as “extraordinary rendition” -- capturing a person and sending him to a site recognized for practicing torture.....(full article)

“A War Made in Israel”?
Israel, the Lobby and Plans to Attack Iran 
by Gary Leupp

In his new book Target Iran, ex-Marine and UN arms inspector Scott Ritter declares, "If there is an American war with Iran, it is a war that was made in Israel." In a recent column entitled "Israel's Bad Influence," Charley Reese cites both this and a recent statement by Israeli Brigadier General Oded Tira, claiming that the latter validates Ritter's assessment. Tira urges Israel to pressure President Bush to attack the Islamic Republic and to arm-twist the Democratic Party and US press to back the move. "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran," the general suggests (I assume on the basis of some pretty sound Israeli intelligence procured in the US), due to his weakened political position. But since "an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence, we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iran issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.".....(full article)

Why I'm Smiling 
New Kids on the Block Confront the Imperial Bully:
by Carolyn Baker, Ph.D

I have often warned against the soporific of hope, with no apologies to Barack Obama for his best-selling The Audacity of Hope. In my 2005 article "Killing Hope, Enlivening Options," I invited readers to abandon the notion of hope which fosters denial and connotes unwarranted optimism, and create instead, myriad options for navigating the daunting challenges of climate chaos, energy depletion, and global economic meltdown. "Hope" tends to infantilize us, pointing to somewhere down the road in a feel-good, never-never land of possibility contingent on someone or something besides one's own efforts, whereas "options" are the adult stuff of the here and now, demanding that we cease relying primarily on the other and attend contemplatively to authentic choices in the moment and beyond. That being said, I look around in the midst of this particularly gray January and continue to notice the vibrant, intelligent, humane, courageous, and indeed revolutionary choices being made by people in warmer climates to the south. The most colorful and iconoclastic, a guy named Hugo, not only proclaims that the government of the United States is being run by a falling-down drunk named "The Devil", but at home, has all but silenced what little opposition remains toward his particular version of the Bolivarian Revolution, and is indefatigably transforming his country one neighborhood at a time.....
(full article)

End Times for the Christian Coalition?  
by Bill Berkowitz

On September 19, 2005, Jason Christy, the head of Christy Media and the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Church Report, a national news and business journal for pastors and Christian leaders, was named executive director of the Christian Coalition by the organization's president, Roberta Combs. "I am honored and humbled to be chosen by the Christian Coalition's Board of Directors for this key position," Christy said. "It is crucial at this time in our nation for people of faith to engage the culture, and to realize that at the grassroots level they can make a difference." Within a month, Christy changed his mind, deciding not to take the position. According to Word News, Christy intimated that it would be difficult to work with the Christian Coalition and continue running his various businesses . . . . The withdrawal of the media-savvy Christy and the forward-looking Hunter -- albeit for different reasons -- is indicative of a once mighty organization going south. However, like Spain 's Fascist dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, who was kept alive so that his death would coincide with the anniversary of the death of another well-known fascist leader 39 years earlier, the Christian Coalition's demise is taking a dreadfully long time to play itself out. While Reports of Franco's death made it into the popular culture -- It became a recurring item during the satiric Weekend Update segment on the then-new "Saturday Night Live" program -- the death of the Christian Coalition probably won't get the same comedic treatment.....(full article)

Setting the Record Straight
Dancing Around the Dead is Not an Iraqi Tradition
by Mowaffak al-Rubaie (
Iraqi National Security Advisor)

Recently, an interview I had on CNN has been taken out of context and quoted by multiple other sources, unfortunately damaging the image of Iraqis. I mentioned that some of the Iraqis attending Saddam's execution were happy that Saddam's era had come to an end, and that all Iraqis can now work together in starting a new chapter. Some of them expressed their happiness through a traditional dance usually preformed at celebrations and weddings.....(full article)

January 9

The Fed’s Role in the Housing Crash of ‘07    
by Mike Whitney

The American people appear to be oblivious to the economic hurricane that is expected to touchdown in late 2007. That’s when $1 trillion in ARMs (Adjustable Rate Mortgages) will “reset” triggering a massive increase in foreclosures and plunging the country into a deep recession. If energy costs continue to rise at the same time or if the dollar loses more ground, we may be rooting around in the backyard garden plot looking for passed-over spuds and radishes. The crisis is entirely the work of former Fed Chairman Alan Greenspan, whose “cheap money” policy caused a speculative frenzy in the real estate market that sent home prices through the stratosphere. In fact, the bubble originated in 2001 when Greenspan lowered interest rates to a meager 1% and ignited a refinancing boom as well as a sudden up-tick in home sales. Now, after 17 straight interest rate increases, the bubble is quickly losing steam and the effects are being felt from sea to shining sea. Rest assured, the sudden downturn in the housing market is just the first gust from an impending tornado. By the end of 2007, America’s matchstick economy will look like the rubble strewn landscape of New Orleans 9th Ward......(full article)

Trying to Create the Next World War 
by Ron Jacobs

According to the January 7, 2007 edition of London's Sunday Times, two Israeli Air Force squadrons are training for a nuclear attack on Iran. The article, which obtained its information from Israeli military and Mossad sources, briefly describes how the attacks would be carried out on Iran's nuclear facilities. According to one source, the end result would be "one mission, one strike and the Iranian nuclear project will be demolished." Of course, the fact that nuclear weapons destroy much more than their intended targets and kill many more people than those in the target zone is not even mentioned -- dismissed without even a thought as if the potential deaths of thousands of Iranians should be irrelevant to Tel Aviv's pathological need to destroy any threats to its paranoid body politic. Across the Atlantic, the new House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer of Maryland, told the Jerusalem Post that a military strike on Iran has "not been taken off the table." Hoyer, like his supposed opponent George Bush, did acknowledge that he prefers negotiations to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons, but insisted that the use of force was an "option" that shouldn't be removed from the so-called table. All this because Hoyer (like the rest of Washington) says that a "nuclear Iran is not acceptable." It's not that anyone wants a nuclear Iran, but than again, who wants a nuclear United States? (full article)

Bush and the F Word 
by Heather Wokusch

It's not overstating the case to say that 2007 could be make or break for US democracy. The Bush administration's cutbacks and rollbacks in 2006 were so frequent and so egregious that many Americans stopped paying attention, gave up hope or else failed to see the onslaught as part of a larger pattern. Which brings up the f-word. In 2003, Laurence W. Britt wrote a seminal article comparing fascist regimes, such as Hitler's Germany and Mussolini's Italy, to life under Bush. While the term fascism has been widely overused (in August, Rumsfeld even accused war critics of "a new type of fascism") Britt's analysis eerily resonated back then and is worth a second look today. This three-part essay recaps Bush's record in 2006 under the framework of Britt's "fourteen common threads" of fascism and makes predictions for 2007......(full article)

Israel’s Purging of Palestinian Christians 
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

For tourists and pilgrims, getting in or out of Bethlehem has been made reasonably straightforward, presumably to conceal from international visitors the realities of Palestinian life. I was even offered a festive chocolate Santa Claus by the Israeli soldiers who control access to the city where Jesus was supposedly born. Seemingly oblivious to the distressing historical parallels, however, Israel forces foreigners to pass through a “border crossing” -- a gap in the menacing grey concrete wall -- that recalls the stark black and white images of the entrance to Auschwitz. The gates of Auschwitz offered a duplicitous motto, “Arbeit macht frei” (Work makes you free), and so does Israel’s gateway to Bethlehem. “Peace be with you” is written in English, Hebrew and Arabic on a colorful large notice covering part of the grey concrete. The people of Bethlehem have scrawled their own, more realistic assessments of the wall across much of its length. Foreign visitors can leave, while Bethlehem’s Palestinians are now sealed into their ghetto. As long as these Palestinian cities are not turned into death camps, the West appears ready to turn a blind eye. Mere concentration camps, it seems, are acceptable....(full article)

Patriotism as Propaganda -- Part I 
by Media Lens

On December 24, the Independent on Sunday’s front page featured a portrait of a British soldier gazing pensively into the distance. A banner headline filled the page: “An ‘IoS’ Christmas special with the troops -- Letters home from the front, pages 8-15.” (You can see the front page here) The editors explained on page 2: “Today’s paper is a celebratory one, and not just because it’s Christmas Eve. This edition contains a special section dedicated to our forces, especially those in Afghanistan and Iraq... As a present from this paper and its readers, we have sent to their families, courtesy of Harvey Nicholls, a hamper, or made a donation to charity of their choice.” . . . . The pages surrounding these images were filled with moving letters home from British troops, some of whom have been killed in action. In one sense, this is a valid, even admirable, focus. The British troops are human beings and it is right that we should feel compassion for their suffering and loss. But this is not the whole story. Although our media are supposed to be neutral reporters of world events, their compassion is overwhelmingly reserved for “our” troops, whereas the troops and civilians of “the enemy” are treated with indifference and even contempt.....(full article)

January 8

A New Congress? Not When It Comes to Iran 
by Joshua Frank

Now that the Democrats are back in power, the American public can finally exhale. Bush is doomed. Cheney is on the ropes. Condi is updating her résumé while Rove prepares his exodus. Well, such an optimistic outlook is boldly misguided. The Democrats may have regained control of both houses of government after twelve long years, yet small changes are all we're likely to see come out of the 110th United States Congress. On the surface things look like they are moving in the right direction. Democrats are enthused to increase the minimum wage and roll back subsidies to the oil cartels. They want the Fed to work with Big Pharma to give Americans access to cheaper prescription drugs. Democrats also want to lower interest rates on student loans. Not bad for the first 100 hours in office. But not all that wonderful either.....(full article)

Dispatch from the Chinese Landfill 
by Joe Bageant

Industry is our government. Our votes merely decide which industries have front spots at the public trough for the next four to eight years. Lately it has been Big Pharma and the credit industry, and what a run they've had. Mandatory mental health screening in schools stuffs more prescription drugs into children. The credit card industry's new bankruptcy laws wring the last drop from consumers, instead of giving them the fresh start our forefathers had in mind when they established debtor's laws. But in a new twist on incarceration, they make one's home the new debtor's prison, a place where we sleep while we work off usury interest payments on debt. Meanwhile, out there in the vast looms of our government-as-corporation, the fast food industry weaves the Cheeseburger Bill, giving itself immunity to lawsuits as it fattens a nation of steers whose sole purpose is to consume, never to be butchered, except in the wars that protect the corporate cheeseburger. Even on the battlefront, it turns profit on millions of burgers and fries that are served to those who fight the oil and cheeseburger wars. American consumers watch this on TV and see it as comfortably familiar. We cannot possibly be doing so badly in Iraq if a soldier can get a Fishwich, a Red Bull, and a Puff Daddy CD on the battlefield. Right? Which is true enough, if you have been conditioned to see a Fishwich and a CD as a symbol of liberty and the utmost accomplishment of the republic -- if you see it as "our way of life." And indeed it is that. Oblivion with an order of fries.....(full article)

Lilly's Legal Battle Over Zyprexa Documents Continues 
by Evelyn Pringle

On January 3, 2007, a hearing was held before Judge Jack Weinstein in a US District Court in New York, on a motion by Eli Lilly to extend an injunction to conceal company documents that show Lilly hid the lethal side effects of Zyprexa for a decade and engaged in an illegal off-label marketing scheme to promote the drug for unapproved uses. Zyprexa is only FDA approved to treat adults with conditions related to schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, and yet its Eli Lilly's number one best selling drug with sales of over $4 billion last year. Attorney Ted Chabasinski appeared at the telephonic hearing in New York on behalf of Judy Chamberlin and MindFreedom, a human rights advocacy group, to argue against the injunction and for the public's right to know the contents of the Zyprexa documents. In a letter submitted before the hearing, Mr. Chabasinski informed the court that MindFreedom is calling for the criminal prosecution of Lilly officials based on the information revealed in the documents. The documents at the center of this controversy first surfaced several years ago in Zyprexa litigation, but in August 2004 Lilly was able to use the court system to obtain a protective order to keep them under seal and out of the public eye. In that litigation, Lilly was accused of failing to warn about the increased risk of severe weight gain with Zyprexa and the drug's association with diabetes; both claims are clearly substantiated in the documents in question.....(full article)

The People's Republic of Me
Novelist Nick Mamatas Declares His Independence 
by Mickey Z.

I met Nick Mamatas in 1999 when he edited my first book, Saving Private Power. Nick was (and is) brutally honest and opinionated. He also wields his wit like a weapon and is just about the smartest guy I know. Author of six books (including two novels) and contributor to several more, Mamatas is an original and creative writer with palpable subtlety, nuance, and social conscience. His latest novel, Under My Roof (Soft Skull), is a suburban fable about a family that declares independence thanks to a homemade nuclear device stored inside a garden gnome. Having just finished reading this remarkable book, I decided to ask Nick a few questions via e-mail.....(full interview)

January 7

Justice for the Omaha Two 
by Joe Allen

Ed Poindexter and Mondo we Langa are not names familiar to most Americans. The longest-serving political prisoners in the United States, these two former Black Panthers have spent more than 35 years behind bars for a crime they did not commit -- the 1970 murder of Omaha, Nebraska, police officer Larry Minard. The American media and the political establishment scoff at the very idea that there are political prisoners in the United States. Yet many '60s militants -- especially Black and Native American revolutionaries -- were deliberately framed by the police and FBI in their efforts to suppress the radical movements of that period. The Omaha Two were also caught in that dragnet. It has been known for decades that they were targets of the FBI’s infamous Counter-Intelligence Program (COINTELPRO), but it is only lately that long, thought-to-be-destroyed evidence has emerged that could lead to a new trial for Ed Poindexter......(full article)

3003 Funerals 
by Lucinda Marshall

2006 ended in an eerie cacophony of death. After months of legal wrangling and a trial that seemed to never end, Saddam Hussein’s execution happened suddenly and swiftly. No doubt the timing during the holiday season was a regrettable necessity and not intentionally designed to insure that a significant portion of the world would be too busy to pay attention or be bothered by the blatant barbarism of his death. In a final act of patriotism, Former President Gerald R. Ford conveniently passed away during the last week of the year as well, nailing closed the coffin as it were on any chance that the media would give significant attention to Saddam’s death. With a final tour of the country by hearse and multiple funerals, the country and its news outlets were paralyzed for days. The morning after the national day of mourning, a friend remarked in exasperation, “They’re still burying Ford!” And indeed they were. All but lost in this circus of death was the sad loss of the remarkably talented James Brown during the same week. As if these deaths weren’t enough notable for one holiday season, the 3,000th military death in the Iraq war also took place just as the year drew to a close. Rallies and vigils have been held throughout the country, many organized by anti-war groups....
(full article)

Death By Numbers 
by David Rovics

The great butcher of Baghdad has himself been butchered. The timing is auspicious. These symbolic little “victories” in the otherwise bleak occupation of Iraq often seem to be timed for US consumption. If this one was, then it couldn’t have been a coincidence that it comes on the same long holiday weekend as the death of the 3,000th American soldier there. And three thousand is not just a round number -- it’s just a bit bigger than the official death toll from the terrorist attacks on 9/11....(full article)

The US Proxy War in Africa: Why Did Ethiopia Invade Somalia? 
by David Whitehouse

Ethiopian forces swept through southern Somalia in the last two weeks of 2006 to drive Islamist militias from the capital of Mogadishu and install a handpicked regime friendly to the US. With its tanks and MiG fighter-bombers, Ethiopia far outgunned Somalia's Union of Islamic Courts (UIC), whose militias repeatedly fell back and broke apart until those remaining fled to remote areas in the country's south. The stated reason for the invasion was to root out radical Islamists who have allegedly steered the UIC toward imposing Taliban-style rule on Somalia. Somalia has lacked a central government since 1991, when the overthrow of US-backed dictator Mohamed Siad Barre threw the country into the hands of rival warlords....
(full article)

Americans Voted for Peace:
Will the Congress Join the President in Ignoring Them?  
by Linda Schade and Kevin Zeese

The message on November 7 was clear.  Voters threw out pro-war politicians and sent Democrats to Congress demanding an end to the Iraq war.  Since then, voter opposition to the costly US occupation has grown sharper as polls show growing opposition to the war from across the political spectrum: 62% among Republicans and 88% of Democrats.  Even a majority of Military Times readers oppose the war. Yet, it took only a few weeks for the Democratic leadership to betray the majority of Americans by quickly pledging to keep the war money flowing.  In doing so, Congress is in danger of once again abrogating its responsibility by not using its Constitutional "power of the purse" to control the president's war-making.  This further undermines the checks and balances system of our government. If an overwhelming referendum by voters against the war is not enough to force a change in policy, what is left to voters in this democracy? If Americans marshal time, money and votes in support of winning candidates and yet come away empty handed, what utility remains in the ballot box? If candidates, once elected, take office and spend vast sums of money against the explicit wishes of the voting public, what does that say of our democracy? Perhaps we must return to the methods of the Boston Tea Party because surely this is Appropriation Without Representation.....
(full article)

Using Volunteerism to Privatize Society 
by Bill Willers

Since economist James Beckwith published his strategy for privatizing parks, the privatization juggernaut has moved quickly to permeate the culture. The justification to privatize all aspects of society has been advanced since the Reagan Era by a stepwise and systematic reduction in governmental funding of social services and of agencies that oversee public lands, this in the name of "trimming governmental spending." As part of this grand strategy, citizens are urged to take up the slack by becoming volunteers.....(full article)

Walking the Line Between Justice and Reconciliation 
by Zbignew Zingh

The late accidental president, Gerald Ford, was eulogized for being a "healer," for bringing the nation together after Watergate, and for pardoning Richard Nixon before he could be prosecuted for his crimes. Those like Mr. Cheney who praised Mr. Ford the most are, undoubtedly, pressing their own cases for presidential absolution when Mr. Bush's regime ends. Conservative reactionaries have also used Mr. Ford's funeral to stroke American liberals' soft spot for 'peace and reconciliation'. Liberals beware: it is a ruse to avoid responsibility for the devastation wrought by America, its leaders and our government.....(full article)

Syndicated Error: George Will and the Minimum Wage 
by Seth Sandronsky

George F. Will, a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post, rejects the federal government mandating a raise in the minimum wage.  Why?  Because the market is better than Uncle Sam at setting the price of commodities such as human labor, he writes. For Will, the plan of the new Democratic majority now in charge of Congress to increase the federal minimum wage is a measure of the party's blind faith in FDR's New Deal legislation. That created some worker-friendly laws. US labor unions and the working class generally did better for a time. For Will, the Democrats' nostalgia for that period is out of step with the modern era. For starters, he is correct to write that wage earners are a commodity bought and sold in the marketplace. He also proves that a broken clock tells accurate time twice a day. The federal minimum wage is a national piece of a global economy, which Will sidesteps. Let us go where he does not concerning government, the market and wages. Ready? (full article)

Notes of Resistance
Ten Musical Reasons to be Cheerful in 2007 
by Alexander Billet

A friend of mine told me recently how intensely unexcited he was by the bands out there. When I asked why, he said "they're not doing anything different. It's like they're being given this blueprint by MTV or the record labels and being told what to do. Yeah, some of it's good, but there's no emotion, no honesty." He may be right. There are plenty of artists on the radio who can make you tap your foot and sing along. But when was the last time you really felt empowered by a song? When was the last time that a singer or musician or lyricist really truly related to you; cut through all the alienation and dissatisfaction and made you feel, well . . . human? A song doesn't need to be a manifesto to make you think you can change the world. But it does need to have more than just a good beat and okay hooks . . . . So, dear readers, if you are straight-up sick of what is being delivered to us by both the politicians and the smug jockeys on MTV, then these are the ten albums you should watch for in 2007. Some of these artists are big names, some are barely known at all, but what unites them is that all of them have something to say and say it damn well.....(full article)

James Brown: The Man Who Named a People   
by Glen Ford

In death, James Brown last weekend vied for headlines with two other passing luminaries: a former US president, Gerald Ford, and the man a generation of Americans have been taught to hate, Saddam Hussein. That's world class celebrity -- no doubt about it. However, despite all the accolades, I believe the historical James Brown has been short changed. Even Brown's many, mostly self-authored titles -- "Hardest Working Man in Show Business," "Godfather of Soul," "Soul Brother Number One," to mention just a few -- fail utterly to convey the Barnwell, South Carolina native's seismic impact on the modern age. James Brown can arguably be credited with a feat few humans have achieved since the dawn of time. He named an entire people: Black Americans. More accurately, James Brown was the indispensable impresario who chose the moment and mechanism that allowed Black Americans to name themselves. He was the Great Nominator who in 1968 put forward for mass consideration the term that the descendants of former slaves would voluntarily and by acclamation adopt as their proud, collective designation. "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" set in motion a tsunami-like process -- breath-taking in speed and scope -- that for the first time in their North American history created a mass social forum through which slave descendants could loudly register their ethnic-name preference. Overnight, it seemed, the great bulk became "Black" people -- with an attitudinal clause: get used to it.....(full article)

Impeach the President!
Book Review (attn: Sen. Conyers)
by Gary Leupp

Early on in the movement to oppose Bush's wars of aggression, Ramsey Clark and folks associated with the Workers' World Party advocated that the president be impeached. I recall attending antiwar demonstrations where people would go around collecting signatures on impeachment petitions, and thinking to myself: (1) "No way this is feasible, given Bush's popularity ratings and growing fascist trends," and (2) "Can't we do better in any case than channel our energies into some legal procedure that will -- even if it were to succeed -- leave the whole imperialist war machine intact?" That was before the tide of US public opinion turned, due primarily to the efforts of the people of an invaded country to resist that imperialist war machine. Had the project been the "cakewalk" predicted by prominent neocon Ken Adelman, Bush and his allies in the corporate media might have continued to persuade the masses that the invasion of Iraq was part of a rational, justifiable, heroic and even holy "war on terrorism." Instead, we've seen firm and growing Iraqi resistance to occupation, now costing three American lives everyday. In that context, anyone inclined to switch the channel control from Fox News from time to time and realize that the invasion of Iraq was based entirely on lies linking it to 9-11 and to such terrors as mushroom clouds over New York City becomes inclined to fault the Bush regime with serious misjudgments if not misdeeds....(full article)

Impeach on the Beach: Californians Call for Bush Impeachment in SF
by Robert S. Finnegan

Approximately 300 protesters from the Bay Area met at a popular San Francisco beach yesterday to call for the impeachment of President George W. Bush. However, rather than the usual signs and placards, the protesters chose a different way to get the message across instead by using their bodies to form the word IMPEACH, that stretched more than one hundred yards across the sand. A large crowd of about three hundred tourists and locals enthusiastically vocalized their opinions -- both pro and con -- as news helicopters hovered over the scene, recording the event on a section of beach that was dubbed by local radio DJ's as "Nancy Pelosi's backyard."......(full article)

Religious Leaders Push Back Against Rep. Goode 
by William Fisher

More than 20 prominent religious leaders have launched an on-line petition demanding that Rep. Vigil Goode (R-Va) reexamine his opposition to newly-elected Rep. Keith Ellison, a Muslim from Minnesota, taking his unofficial oath of office using the Qur'an, and to apologize for his statement that, without punitive immigration reform, "there will be many more Muslims elected to office demanding the use of the Qur’an.".....(full article)

January 4

A Challenge to the Supreme Court:
Can the US Kill Iraqi Children Legally? 
by Bert Sacks

“Imagine if a U.S. cruise missile were to land on a kindergarten and kill 165 children. Imagine now that it was launched knowing it would hit that kindergarten, and further, that one of these missiles was launched at a different kindergarten every day for a month. That's 5,000 children. “To kill that many children as a matter of state policy would be unspeakable. The American commander in chief would be condemned as a barbarian. And yet, that is what the economic embargo of Iraq has done.” This is from a Seattle Times editorial six years ago. For ten years I have wanted to ask one very basic question: Not only were the sanctions barbaric, but were the sanctions legal? Could the US cause the deaths of thousands of Iraqi children every month for years and do so legally? I will finally get a chance to ask this of the US Supreme Court in a petition I'll file this month.....(full article)

Why I Object to Testifying Against Lt. Watada 
by Sarah Olson

In May of 2006, I conducted an interview with Ehren Watada while working as a freelance journalist. Watada is a 1st Lieutenant in the US Army and is the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse orders to deploy to Iraq. In the interview, Lieutenant Watada asserted that he had a duty as an officer to evaluate the legality of his orders and conduct himself accordingly. He said that he could not participate in the Iraq War because it was "manifestly illegal" and that his participation would make him a party to war crimes. In June, Lieutenant Watada made national headlines when he refused to deploy to Iraq. Lieutenant Watada continues to report for duty at Fort Lewis in the state of Washington while awaiting a February 2007 court-martial on one charge of "missing movement" and four charges of "conduct unbecoming an officer and a gentleman." Each of the latter four charges is based entirely on political speech. If convicted on all charges, Lieutenant Watada could spend up to six years in prison. The US Army has cobbled together portions of my interview with Lieutenant Watada and these statements comprise the foundation of one charge of conduct unbecoming an officer. To substantiate this alleged crime, the Army has subpoenaed me to testify on behalf of their prosecution....(full article)  

Soldiers and Imperial Presidents 
by Charles Sullivan

the vast majority of those who serve in the United States military probably do so with the best of intentions and with honor. The belief that they are defending their country from foreign attackers and doing their patriotic duty as citizens is persistently reinforced. Military service is one of America's sacred cows; it is something that is rarely questioned and is surrounded by an invisible aura of nobility. No one, especially those who serve, wants to think of their time in the military as anything less than honorable and worthy of glorification. But the trouble with sacred cows is that they tend to preclude critical examination and often escape the scrutiny of rational thinking and moral judgments. The premise of honorary military service thus goes virtually unchallenged, and often becomes the essence of dogma. But it seems to me that anyone contemplating a military career, especially since it may require killing other human beings and broad scale environmental destruction, should do so with open eyes and clear senses. They need to know who they are serving and whose interests they are protecting.....
(full article


A World Without Waste:
Advocates of Zero Waste Believe in Life After Trashcans  
by Andi McDaniel

Aside from Oscar the Grouch, few people would argue that trash is a bad thing. In addition to being stinky, ugly and a pain to lug out to the curb, the detritus of modern life causes problems on a far grander scale. Landfills and incinerators have been linked to a host of human health issues, and as for the environment -- you don't have to be an ecologist to know that lingering piles of plastic, metal and toxic goo are bad news all around. Yet, we continue to throw things away -- and how could we not? What else would we do with that annoying cellophane packaging? The to-go boxes? The packing peanuts? The after-dinner scraps that even the dog won't touch? Part of the solution is as simple as a blue bin. Curbside recycling is still an incredibly effective way to save energy and divert tons of plastics, cans and glass away from landfills. Another answer is composting, which would address more than 60 percent of what ends up in residential dumpsters. But in addition to getting the word out about these tried and true solutions, a new movement is taking a more holistic approach. Rather than focusing solely on what to do with existing waste, the "Zero Waste" movement looks at a product's entire life cycle -- and redirects the conversation toward usable options for every step along the way. The ultimate goal is to eliminate waste as a concept entirely -- a lofty aspiration indeed. But Zero Wasters say loftiness is part of the point -- after all, creating a trash-free world is going to take nothing short of revolution.....(full article)

Let There Be Peace 
by Monica Benderman

This past September my husband and I spent time in Washington, DC meeting with members of congress, talking with members of organizations who had supported us for the past two years, and listening to those who would advise us as to the road ahead for a veteran of war who took a public stand of conscience against a war of choice. Kevin had been home from military prison for only two weeks. He had spent the last fourteen months in confinement at an obscure military prison on Ft. Lewis in Washington state. He was guilty of having a conscience, and a strong desire to speak the truth about the military, war and the treatment many members of the military received at the hands of commanders who believed themselves accountable to no one......(full article)

January 3

Has Regime Change Boomeranged? 
by M. Shahid Alam

In the early 1990s, the fall of the Soviets produced a surge of triumphalism in the US. After defeating the fascist challenge in the 1940s, liberal capitalism had trumped its last adversary, global communism. This triumphalist mood was caught pithily in Francis Fukuyama’s claim that mankind -- of course led by the West -- had reached ‘the end of history.’ This quickly produced a global regime change. Within a few years, the capitalist centers stripped most countries in the periphery of the autonomy they had gained in stages, starting in the 1930s. In this latest wave of integration, the periphery would not be ‘colonized,’ but Washington would define their economic rules. Most countries in the periphery would now be forced to open their doors to foreign capital, privatize their economy, scrap their plans, and dismantle their welfare systems. In all but name, they began to look like the Open Door economies of the nineteenth century. US economic dominance, however, was not enough for two segments of the American neoconservative movement, consisting of ultra-nationalists (Cheney, Rumsfeld and Bolton) and the Ziocons (Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle), a term coined by James Petras.  They wanted the US to take advantage of the unipolar moment -- opened up by the demise of Soviet Union -- to make its political dominance irreversible.....(full article)

The Saddam Execution Video 
by Dr. Peter Rost

The "Question Authority with Dr. Peter Rost" blog was one of the first displaying the uncensored and complete version of the Saddam Hussein execution video. The video showed an undignified spectacle, with Mr. Hussein appearing more composed than his killers. I have no tears for Mr. Hussein; yet, I also have no respect for his executioners, who made the state-orchestrated execution appear like an assassination by thugs. And of course, our self-censored television news just couldn't bring themselves to show the end result of thousands of sacrificed American soldiers -- one dictator falling to his death, his head twisted horribly to the side as he was swinging at the end of the rope.....(full article)

War and Reaction in Ethiopia 
by Jordan Flaherty

“The United States is Ethiopia's best friend in the world,” more than one Ethiopian has told me in recent days.  On this point, there seems to be much agreement. However, conversations this week from Moyale, on the Southern border with Kenya, to the capital city of Addis Ababa, have revealed mixed reactions to Ethiopia's recent invasion of neighboring Somalia. In the first days of the invasion, many expressed hesitancy, especially in the south of the country, where many people know or are related to Somalis. "My wife is Somali," one merchant in Moyale told me.  "Of course I don't think we should be fighting them." Few people here believed Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi when he said this week that this war was not inspired by the US. When asked the reason for this war, Idriss, a businessman in the Southern city of Dilla smiled and said, "we were tricked by your government." A Women's rights activist from Addis Ababa said, "of course, we are a proxy army for the US.  Do you remember when the US tried to send troops to Somalia? The US soldiers dragged through the streets?" 
(full article)

What The Media Have Not Said Upon Ford's Passing 
by Lawrence R. Velvel

The death of Richard Nixon led to an outpouring of praise for him. You would have thought a saint had died. It was not until awhile later that people began to publicly remember that Nixon had been an evil man, had been, in his own famous description of what he claimed he was not, "a crook." The death of Ronald Reagan was met by a more balanced assessment than Nixon's. This was surprising because, though people of my own views disliked most of what he was and did -- except, of course, for what is generally though not universally thought to be his role in causing the collapse of the Soviet Union -- the fact is that a large portion of the country regards him as Saint Ron. For a balanced assessment upon death to be made of Saint Ron, when only huzzahs for his accomplishments greeted the passing of the aptly nicknamed Dick Nixon, struck one as unusual. The passing of Gerald Ford has generally been met, one thinks, with the same kind of balanced assessment as was Reagan's. At least this seems true as I write, on Friday, December 29th. Yet there are two points which give pause, one of which was passed over very lightly in the media, the other of which has been the subject of extensive discussion....(full article)

Gerald, We Hardly Knew Ya! 
by Gary Corseri

Gerald Ford came out of the West;

Among all the sheeple, his steed was the best.

He pardoned the NIXON then sat on his throne—

He’d yip and he’d yep and they’d throw him a bone.


And it’s yowsa yowsa yowsa.

A new day’s gonna dawn.

It’s yuckety yuck and muckety muck

How long, Lord, how long?
(full poem)

The Problem with Solutions 
by Robert Jensen

I've been assigned to talk about solutions to the pressing problems we face, but I've never been very good at following orders. So, instead I'm going to talk about the problem with solutions. The assignment came from our first "Last Sunday" event in November, which we hoped would bring together the secular and spiritual, the political and the social. The standing-room-only audience generated a lot of positive energy that night, but that doesn't mean the event -- or the ideas animating it -- were immune from criticism. And, this being Austin, we heard from lots of folks about what they thought those shortcomings were. Two consistent themes emerged from the feedback, captured in this suggestion card: "Don't spend so much of our precious time telling us about the problems. We already know (most of) the problems. Instead, spend more time telling us about solutions that we, as individuals, and as a group, can do. We are looking for HOPE. Show us how we can be part of the solution." "We already know the problems -- tell us about solutions." Over and over I've heard that, not just after Last Sunday, but ever since I started doing political organizing. While I understand the sentiment, I want to suggest that the first claim is inaccurate, and the second request is dangerous....(full article)

James Brown's Appeal --  Loudly and Proudly  
by Seth Sandronsky

Music superstar James Brown's influence was widespread. Count me in as a longtime fan of his. Brown's recent passing marks the end of an era. What I wish to add to the many accolades and tributes to him is just this: his song "Say It Loud, I'm Black and I'm Proud" during the freedom upsurge of African Americans nearly four decades ago had an impact that, I think, is being sidestepped. This says more about commentators than Brown. Allow me to explain.....(full article

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