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(DV) September 2006 Articles

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September 28-29

A Soul Defying, Tacit Approval of Torture: How Did We Come to This?
by Phil Rockstroh

The pathology of American culture is as ubiquitous as its strip mall ugliness. It is abundantly evident in almost every aspect of contemporary life. From the predatory (to the point of psychopathic) practices of its morally scurvy pirates at the helm of the corporate/governmental ship of state, down to the pandemic enervation and proliferate anomie of its galley slaves languishing in their soulless cubicles -- from the genitalia-devoid mascots at Disney World to the genitalia-obsessed torturers of Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo -- the soul-sickness spreads before us like George W. Bush's taunting, executioner's smirk. Ronnie Laing's profound dictum -- “True sanity entails in one way or another the dissolution of the normal ego, that False Self competently adjusted to our alienated social reality . . . and through this death a rebirth, the ego now being the servant of the divine, no longer its betrayer” -- leaves us confronting many poignant questions regarding the true nature of the psychic lives of us so-called ordinary citizens of The United States of America and our ability to function within this corrupt and crumbling empire. In short, is it sane to be able to adapt to an insane culture?
(full article)

Anthrax, Iran & bin Laden: Waiting for the October Surprise
by Heather Wokusch

Presidential advisor Karl Rove has been touting his "October surprise," aimed at keeping Republicans in office. While Rove will most certainly exploit the fear factor, the question remains if we’ll let ourselves be fooled -- yet again. It’s worth remembering that only five years ago, the US was reeling under anthrax attacks which killed five people and ground postal services to a halt. It’s also worth noting what happened next.....(full article)

The Good News about Lying to Americans   
by Ahmed Amr

The sectarian civil war raging outside Baghdad’s plush Green Zone continues to claim a hundred lives a day. Under international law, an occupation army automatically assumes the responsibility for the safety of their colonial subjects. Even the neo-con wizards in Washington understand that. But because Americans are such an innovative bunch, they found a rather novel way to avoid assuming the obligation of an imperial master to provide security for their colonial subjects. They simply deny they are on an imperial mission motivated by crude economic interests. With the blessings of the United Nations, the Bush administration has managed to camouflage America’s colonial army as “guests” of a sovereign Iraqi government. Washington has very good reasons for dodging the “imperial” label. For one thing, imperialism has long been classified as a four-letter word. Most Americans are in denial about being citizens of the Imperial United States -- a country that invades other countries at will, bombs ancient cities to rubble and generally goes around messing with the destiny of foreign people who have no quarrel with New York or California or any other state.....(full article)

Human Rights Watch Still Denying Lebanon the Right to Defend Itself
by Jonathan Cook

In a recent article on this site criticizing Human Rights Watch for singling out Hizbullah rather than Israel for harsher condemnation of its military actions during the Lebanon war, I made sure to quote the organization fairly and accurately before seeking to refute its arguments. Unfortunately, in a response published on Counterpunch, HRW’s Middle East policy director, Sarah Leah Whitson, did not return the favor. Possibly realizing that her case was weak, she decided to paraphrase my argument instead, misrepresenting it, and only then try to rebut it....(full article)

Haiti: Occupation and Resistance Continues
by Ben Terrall

As Haiti's recent political history has swung back and forth between popularly elected governments and right-wing US-backed dictatorships, the Haitian movement for popular democracy has maintained its resilience in the face of horrific odds. Throughout its resistance to the US-backed coup regime which ousted democratically-elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide in February 2004, Haiti's grassroots Lavalas movement has consistently advanced three key demands: the safe return of President Aristide and other political exiles, the freeing of all political prisoners, and an end to the brutal repression of the country's pro-Lavalas poor majority. Since Rene Preval was elected President earlier this year with the overwhelming support of the Lavalas base (much to the chagrin of the Bush Administration and Haiti's tiny right wing elite) some steps have been taken toward achieving these goals of the popular movement. But the powerful few who still control the majority of Haitian media, most ministries, the judiciary and the police are working overtime to stymie progressive change.....(full article)

Chavez and the Devil: A Case of Mistaken Identity
by Gabriel Ash

Chavez said George Bush is the Devil. With all due respect, I beg to differ. The Devil has been with us for thousands of years. Few have seen him. Or more accurately, few recognized him for who he was when they saw him. But if we take our cues from the rich Devil lore, especially the strain elaborated by Christian thought and art, it should become clear that George Bush is perhaps a poor devil, but certainly not the Devil. The Devil is a Christian take on a mythological character, a trickster god, with versions in many different traditions -- as Hermes, Loki, Coyote, etc. The most important aspects of this personality are a cunning intelligence, a knack for deception, a delight in mischief, and lack of moral scruples. Bush scores high on lack of moral scruples. But where is the creativity and the intelligence?  (full article)

-- The Anti-Empire Report -- 

“Thank You For Not Putting a Bomb in Your Luggage”
by William Blum

Hand-in-hand with his threat warnings, Bush keeps telling us how his War on Terror has made us so much safer, bragging that there hasn't been a terrorist attack in the United States in the five years since the one of September 11, 2001. Marvelous. There wasn't a terrorist attack in the United States in the five years before that day either. But thanks to the War on Terror -- particularly the bombing, invasion, occupation, and torture of Afghanistan and Iraq -- numerous new anti-American terrorists have been created since that historic day. The latest confirmation of this, if any more were needed, is the recently leaked National Intelligence Estimate conclusion that “the American invasion and occupation of Iraq has helped spawn a new generation of Islamic radicalism and ... the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks.”......(full article)

Rebuilding Resistance: Organizing Lessons From One Year After
The Devastation of New Orleans 
by Jordan Flaherty

It’s been a year since Katrina. More than half of the people of New Orleans remain dispersed around the US. Vast stretches of the city lie empty. Bodies are still being found in the devastation of the lower ninth ward. Suicide rates have tripled. The national guard is still patrolling the streets. Most schools and hospitals -- especially those serving poor people -- are still closed. Rent has gone up by more than 50%, business is down for almost everyone but contractors, and available apartments are much harder to find. Corporations, nonprofits, NGOs, workers centers, charities, researchers, religious organizations, unions, the media, and many other players have dedicated huge amounts of money and resources into New Orleans. Local organizers have engaged in heated battles with nationwide implications over issues such as health care, education, public housing, and criminal justice. The forces lined up in these struggles have had dramatic successes and failures. For radicals and progressives, there are important organizing lessons to be learned on tactics, strategy, and more. It is vital to our movements not just that we care about what happens in New Orleans, but that we learn from it.....
(full article)

Those in Power are Poisoning Children (Mussels Not Flexed?)
by Mickey Z.

According to a study presented at the recent national meeting of the American Chemical Society, "remnants of Prozac are flushed from the body and travel in wastewater that reaches streams and rivers ... (and) cause female mussels to release their larvae before they're able to survive on their own." Tell this to the person sitting in the next cubicle and the typical response will likely be either indifference or bemusement. After all, who gives a damn about a mussel? (full article)

Challenging the Power of the Jewish Lobby: What Should Be Done?
by James Petras

A number of writers have recently written critical articles or reviews about the power of the pro-Israel or Jewish Lobby and its influence on US policy in the Middle East. Most of these writings emphasize the power of the lobby over Congress, the two major parties (especially the Democrats) and the Executive branch. Some even describe the pro-Israel lobbies and the allied Jewish federations, the numerous propaganda institutes described as ‘think tanks’, publications as well as their influence or control over the mass media, from Hollywood, the print media, television to corporate “public” radio. However these critics and analysts paint themselves into a corner, attributing to the Jewish lobby so much power as to virtually incapacitate any effort to counter its influence and change the direction of US policy. The image of a near-omniscient and omnipotent Jewish lobby overlooks its vulnerability and significant issues around which an opposition or counter-hegemonic movement can be organized in the United States.  A starting point for building such a movement in some cases already exists in single issue campaigns; in other instances, some of the critical reports on the actions and behavior of the Lobby can become rallying points for organizing and pressing for new legislation and improving legislative restraints on Lobby activities.....(full article)

Fat Cat Democrats Versus the Antiwar Movement

Did Sen. Maria Cantwell Try to Buy Off Aaron Dixon?
by Joshua Frank

Aaron Dixon isn't accustomed to selling out his ideals for career or political gains. Despite decades of community activism, as a former Black Panther and now a Green Party candidate for US Senate, Dixon's legacy has yet to be tainted by concessions or compromise. Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s Dixon was on the front lines of the civil rights movement in Seattle. He started the Free Breakfast for School Children program, opened up a free medical clinic, as well as a free legal clinic, and worked to improve civil liberties for black students within the Seattle school system. In 2002, Dixon founded Central House, a not-for-profit organization that works to provide housing for young homeless adults, where he is still acting director. Aside from managing his nonprofit, Dixon is running a statewide antiwar campaign against Democratic incumbent Maria Cantwell in Washington State. Unlike Cantwell, Dixon is calling for an immediate unconditional withdraw of troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, and views his campaign as an extension of left social movements that are developing across South America and elsewhere....(full article)

Economy Booming for Billionaires
by Holly Sklar

Billionaires are so last millennium. The new Forbes 400 list of richest Americans is billionaires only. If you're net worth is a mere $999 million, forget it. A billion means a thousand million, and that's the Forbes 400 minimum -- up from $900 million in 2005. Donald Trump and two of his kids grace the Forbes 400 cover, but ranked No. 94 with $2.9 billion, Trump's a long way from No. 1 Bill Gates with $53 billion. The combined wealth of the 400 richest Americans is a record-breaking $1.25 trillion. That's about the same amount of combined wealth held by the 57 million households who make up half the U.S. population. The economy is booming for billionaires. It's a bust for many other Americans.....(full article)

Bush and Islam: Words Versus Deeds
by Nicola Nasser

The wide gap between U.S. President George W. Bush’s words and deeds vis-à-vis Islam and Muslims doomed to failure his speech at the United nations on September 19, which could neither appease Muslims nor pacify the ever growing Islamophobia. Hardly a week had passed since his speech than Winston Churchill -- author, journalist, former Member of Parliament and grandson of the former British prime minister -- was speaking at an American university to condemn “Radical Islam” as posing to Western civilization a threat similar to that of the Nazis and the Soviets. President Bush has denied that the West is engaged in a war against Islam as a “false propaganda,” but confirmed his country’s determination to carry on with its “war on terror” and its “great ideological struggle” at the start of the 21st century exclusively against Muslims and Muslim countries.....(full article)

With Friends Like These: A Review of Giuliana Sgrena's Friendly Fire
by Ron Jacobs

Giuliani Sgrena was wounded by US soldiers not long after being freed from her guerrilla fighter captors in Iraq. This incident put her on the front pages of newspapers around the world. In addition, it put her in the hospital and her rescuer six feet under. Of course, no apologies were forthcoming from the US military or Embassy. Instead, a series of excuses and lies were issued, while any evidence pointing to US culpability was destroyed. The good news is that Ms. Sgrena survived to tell her story. As my daughter exclaimed after she read the book jacket of my copy of Sgrena's story: "Man, she really had an adventure! It sounds like the Americans wanted to get her." Indeed, the story within the pages of Friendly Fire is quite an adventure. In addition, the text, just published in an English translation by Haymarket Books of Chicago, USA, is a reflection on captivity, the motivation of her kidnappers, the meaning of her journalistic work, and the situation in occupied Iraq.....
(full article)

September 25

Rumsfeld’s Guinea Pigs: US Citizens at Risk for Military-Weapons Testing
by Heather Wokusch

It barely made news last week when Air Force Secretary Michael Wynne called for the testing of nonlethal weaponry on US citizens in crowd-control situations. According to Wynne, "If we're not willing to use it here against our fellow citizens, then we should not be willing to use it in a wartime situation." "War on terror" blowback hits Main Street. But it's naïve to think that once developed, US military weapons will only be used against foreign populations. The Bush administration's "you're with us or against us" mentality leaves little room for domestic dissent, and as the line blurs between military and national security technologies, folks back home will find themselves increasingly targeted.....(full article)

Report’s Startling Conclusion: Bombing People Really Pisses Them Off
by Mark Drolette

Whew! I’m glad that’s been cleared up. I’m talking about the “consensus view of the 16 disparate [American] spy services” as provided in the recently-disclosed National Intelligence Estimate [NIE], a classified U.S. government assessment compiled in April “that concluded the [Iraq] war has helped create a new generation of Islamic radicalism and that the overall terrorist threat has grown since the Sept. 11 attacks”......(full article)

How Israel’s “New anti-Semitism” is Leading to Nuclear Holocaust
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The trajectory of a long-running campaign that gave birth this month to the preposterous all-party British parliamentary report into anti-Semitism in the UK can be traced back to intensive lobbying by the Israeli government that began more than four years ago, in early 2002. At that time, as Ariel Sharon was shredding the tattered remains of the Oslo accords by reinvading West Bank towns handed over to the Palestinian Authority in his destructive rampage known as Operation Defensive Shield, he drafted the Israeli media into the fray. Local newspapers began endlessly highlighting concerns about the rise of a “new anti-Semitism,” a theme that was rapidly and enthusiastically taken up by the muscular Zionist lobby in the US.....
(full article)

Wallace Pulls a Boehner
by Mark W. Bradley

A few days ago, Fox “news-puppy” Chris Wallace rounded up the unusually usual suspects for a square-headed roundtable discussion of the week’s knucklehead news from Capitol Hill. Mr. Wallace’s panel was drawn from across the political spectrum, from fawning Absolute Monarchists to foaming-at-the-mouth Schutzstaffel bully-boys. After an exciting and informative segment in which the disingenuous panelists swapped their favorite recipes for Hareng Rouge de Jour, the group got down to discussing a narrow range of predigested ersatz-issues, including the president’s latest assertion that either we retroactively revise the Third Geneva Convention no later than Tuesday, or prepare for decapitation by Akhmed and his scimitar in the frozen food section of Albertson’s on Thursday. One of the impeccably hair-helmeted guests on this practically-unscripted program was House Majority Leader John Boehner, a true Patriot (with a capital “P” [for “putz”]). Unless this reporter’s lying eyes and ears deceived him more than usual, the following vacuous platitudes appeared to issue forth from the Congressman’s thoroughly lip-glossed mouth, if not from his alarmingly cavernous head. "I listen to my Democratic friends, and I wonder if they're more interested in protecting the terrorists than protecting the American people."......
(full article)

Propriety and Paranoia in the Empire
by Robert Jensen

After appearing on FOX News this weekend to defend Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez’s speech at the United Nations, I got the usual assortment of fair-and-balanced e-mails from viewers, many of whom were critical of my support of “this Satanic barbarian,” as one of my critics put it. That e-mail in response to my appearance on “Heartland with John Kasich” ended with an invitation (reproduced here exactly):  “You can KISS MY A** you faggot piece of sh**.” My focus here is not on the juvenile and hostile nature of the message; anyone who writes or speaks about controversial subjects can expect these kinds of angry responses, especially in the age of e-mail when people’s emotional reactions can be dispatched in a matter of seconds, without adequate time for reflection. Instead, I’m intrigued by the choice of the ** to shield me from offensive language. The writer used the ** for these two common terms that, while perhaps vulgar to some ears, are relatively mild in the contemporary vernacular. Yet the writer uses “faggot” -- a cruel term meant not only to insult gay men but often used to convey a physical threat and/or challenge to their basic humanity -- without apparent concern for its obscenity. Some curious values underlie that decision about what constitutes acceptable language in political dialogue. Call it the triumph of propriety over humanity.....(full article)

Motoko Rich Should Be Ashamed
by Paul Street

Motoko Rich should be ashamed of herself. In a front-page New York Times story Saturday, the former residential real estate reporter (recently promoted to the Times' publishing beat) noted that Noam Chomsky’s book Hegemony or Survival (2003) is getting a sales boost because it was mentioned by Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in his speech ("rave") to the United Nations earlier this week. The title of Rich’s article is “U.S. Best Seller, Thanks to Rave By Latin Leftist” (New York Times, 23 September, 2006, A1). Rich’s description of Chavez as a “Latin Leftist” seems an oddly racial way to refer to the democratically elected president of one of the leading nations in the Western Hemisphere and Latin America....(full article)

September 21

A Campaign Wasted: How Jonathan Tasini Helped Hillary Clinton
by Hurting the Antiwar Movement
by Joshua Frank

One week after Jonathan Tasini was defeated by Hillary Clinton in New York’s Democratic Primary, the career labor organizer and loyal Democrat released a statement about the role his bereaved followers should play in the upcoming election. "I urge my supporters and the people who voted for me to vote their conscience," said Tasini. "Every vote that is not cast for the incumbent is a clear repudiation of an immoral war." Tasini not only failed in his bid to take down Hillary (let alone hold her accountable for her unwavering support for the war in Iraq) he is now failing the movement against the war in Iraq by refusing to endorse an antiwar candidate in November’s contest. In an interview with Elizabeth Benjamin of the Times Union on September 19. Tasini confirmed that he would not be endorsing the only visible antiwar alternative to Hillary Clinton in the state, Green Party candidate Howie Hawkins.....(full article

Crackpot Christianity, Part: III Bush and the Third Great Awakening
by Walter C. Uhler

Here's a brief quiz that serves to illuminate the harm inflicted by crackpot Christianity upon America. The test has two parts. First, fill in the blanks of the following paragraph. Second, give the name of the world-renowned Christian theologian who wrote it......(full article)

“The Same Opportunities as a Kid From the United States”
by Paul Street

The latest issue of The New Yorker contains an article by David Remnick on Bill Clinton's career as an ex-president. On page 49 of this essay, Remnick reproduces part of a dialogue he overheard earlier this summer between Clinton and philanthropist billionaire Bill Gates in Cape Town, South Africa. Clinton had just flown in from the World Cup Finals on an MD-87 jet ("complete with leather furniture and a stateroom") provided to him by a Vancouver-based mining financier named Frank Giustra. He was joining Gates in a Gates Foundation effort to reduce the scourge of AIDS in Africa. "On the health side, we can expect unbelievable progress," Gates said of the next twenty-five years in Africa. "Given that time frame, we should expect a pretty incredible continent where a kid born here can expect the same opportunities as a kid from the United States can." "Well, I hope that's right," Clinton said. (Remnick, "The Wanderer," New Yorker, September 18, 2006, p. 49) I support all serious and substantive efforts to prevent and reduce AIDS in Africa and everywhere else. Still, at the risk of seeming rude, I have a question for the former president and the World's Richest Man: "Same opportunities as” which "kids from the United States?" (full article)

The Center Cannot Hold: The Bush Regime in Crisis
by Juan Santos

The headlines tell the tale:
From the Washington Post: “Torture Is Torture”

From the Boston Globe: “Rebelling against torture and Bush”
From Fox News: “Bush Faces Election Year Revolt in Own Party”
From Legal News Television: “Bush Fears War Crimes Prosecution”
The President is naked: He is no longer a “wartime president”; he’s now the Torture President. Officials in the Bush White House could be charged with war crimes. So they were warned by then -- White House Counsel Alberto Gonzalez after they launched their war against Afghanistan, according to documents obtained by Newsweek last Spring. Gonzalez warned that violations of the War Crimes Act can be punished severely -- including by death, and that it was “difficult to predict with confidence” how a future Justice Department might apply the law. Special focus was placed on language in the Geneva Conventions that condemns "outrages upon personal dignity" and "inhuman treatment" of prisoners. These crimes were "undefined," according to Gonzalez, the same plea we hear today from President Bush.....(full article)

Reflections on Our Inner Bush
Corporate Monkeys In Our National House Of Mirrors
by Phil Rockstroh

The aura of despair leveling upon the country is undeniable. Not that there was a great deal of peace of mind previously here in The United States of Distractions. The act of being in perpetual flight from reality requires a great amount of energy; it's quite a workout pushing down dread. We’ve been faking it for a while now. Over the years, our relentless selling of ourselves to the world became about as genuine as Bush's forced smile when he's in the presence of cameras or African Americans. Baffled and mortified by what we’ve witnessed during these Bush-afflicted years, we ask ourselves: How did this come to be? (full article)

Another Mexican Revolution
by Richard Johnson

Another revolution has broken out in Mexico, the second in our lifetimes in that country of continuous revolution, where even the government celebrates revolution and clasps to its bosom the interests and desires and images and culture of the poor and indigenous while at the same time systematically excluding them from power if not from welfare programs. A former governor from the state of Tabasco, the former mayor of Mexico City and leader of the Party of Democratic Revolution (PRD), had himself proclaimed "legitimate president" of Mexico in the central square of the capital on Saturday, September 16 by over a million supporters although it appears he narrowly lost the election. Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, known by his initials as AMLO, has implied, but has not yet been able to prove, that the July 2 national elections were stolen by fraud. This is significant because the current administration of Vicente Fox of the Party of National Action (PAN) is considered the first to be elected honestly in over 70 years dominated by the corrupt PRI party. A former PRD candidate Cauhtemoc Cardenas, son of one of Mexico's revolutionary heroes who first nationalized the petroleum industry was widely acknowledged to have been robbed of victory in the year 1994....(full article)

The Ground Truth: Iraq War Veterans Speak Out 
by Susan Van Haitsma

On Friday, September 15, the film, The Ground Truth, opened in selected cities around the country, including Austin. The riveting documentary directed by Patricia Foulkrod is scheduled to run for one week at the Dobie Theatre. The film gives voice to young veterans of the Iraq war, who speak candidly about the successive phases of their military experience: recruitment, basic training, combat, re-entry into civilian society, physical and psychological war injuries and the consequent realization that their country is unprepared for the levels of support they really need. Yellow car magnets and heroes' welcomes don't cut it. The Ground Truth is rated "R for disturbing violent content, and language," according to its listing in the Austin American-Statesman. Most of the disturbing violent content and language is contained in footage from basic training and from the Iraq war.  Drill instructors are shown dehumanizing recruits as part of the process of training them to dehumanize the adversary. Rare video footage from Iraq, accompanied by first-hand accounts from soldiers featured in the film, reveal the ways their training to "Kill, kill" leads them to target Iraqi civilians.....(full article)

Ahmadinejad, Bush and Kofi Annan: 
The Sixty-First General Assembly of the United Nations
by Jack Random

The sad truth is that, before the eyes of the world at the concluding session of the sixty first General Assembly of the United Nations, Iran’s titular President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was a diplomat, an advocate of peace and justice, while the leader of the western world was a pretender -- a sophomoric dilettante with no grasp of international dynamics and no appreciation of the changes he has brought upon us all....(full article

Ending the Dollar's Tyranny   
by Mike Whitney

The US dollar is the very heart of the empire. It’s the cornerstone upon which the military, the media and the political establishment rests. The dollar’s strength however does not come from its comparative value to other currencies, but from its widespread use as the world’s reserve currency. As the reserve currency the dollar defies the fundamental rules for determining “real value,” that is, the relationship between the nation’s credits and debits and the size and strength of its economy. Rather, the dollar’s extensive use is the result of America’s economic dominance since the end of the World War II, the profitability of its markets, and its stranglehold on the oil trade.....(full article)

September 19

How Canadians Protect in Haiti
by Nik Barry-Shaw and Yves Engler

Does the Canadian-promoted “Responsibility to Protect” doctrine include murder rape, and threats of violence? That’s the question we should be asking Canadian officials after a study in the prestigious Lancet medical journal released at the end of August revealed there were 8,000 murders, 35,000 rapes and thousands of incidents of armed threats in the 22 months after the overthrow of the elected government in Haiti.....(full article)

Bolivia’s Political Revolution: Nine Months On
by Jim Schultz

It really was a dramatic and hopeful beginning that cold January weekend when Evo Morales took over the presidency of Bolivia.  Standing atop 1000-year-old pre-Inca ruins at Tiahuanaco, Morales received a blessing of his powers from leaders of the indigenous communities of Bolivia's highlands, in a ceremony that hadn't been held in 500 years.  His formal inauguration in the Bolivian Congress drew nearly a dozen heads of state, from Chile to Slovenia. Knock-off copies of the new president's red and blue horizontal striped sweater sold briskly on the internet. His picture graced page one of the Washington Post. "Evo Mania" took Bolivia and the world by storm. In the months since, Bolivia has developed a whole new tourism industry of filmmakers, journalists, academics, and revolution-seekers who want to see close-up what they think is some new form of  democracy by the people taking shape in the Andes.  If they look close, and with their eyes wide open, they can see a new government that really does inspire great hope among people long-marginalized by both politics and economics. They can also get a really good lesson in how hard it is to convert the romance of hope into the far less romantic task of governing a nation.....(full article)

Afghanistan: More of the Same
by Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

I don’t know if you have paid any attention to the news coming out of Afghanistan or not; but if you did, you probably think that NATO forces are winning the war. The headlines are full of stories about how NATO forces have killed so many Taliban fighters in battles in the south of the country. Yet at the same time we hear that soldiers’ morale is on the decline and that they have to fight almost 18+ hours a day without rest. Confusing the picture further are the desperate pleas coming out of NATO headquarters for more troops and equipment. What is happening in Afghanistan? It is becoming frighteningly similar to what the Soviets were saying and doing in Afghanistan? (full article)

What Kafka Knew
by Christy Rodgers

I get almost all my news and analysis from the U.S. independent press now. I’m very grateful these sources exist, mostly thanks to the very low end of the FM dial and the as yet un-gated realm of cyberspace. But constant absorption of “alternative” news often makes me feel as if I am trapped inside a locked room. The room is populated with hundreds of highly intelligent people, all shouting at one another, their eloquent voices filled with urgency, with factuality, and sometimes with despair. Of course their eloquence is actually directed beyond the room, at the Powers that operate outside it, but the walls have been pretty well sound-proofed, and only a sort of tinny whine ever seems to break through to the world beyond. I know this because I talk to people who live outside the room, many of whom, to my chagrin, are not even aware of its existence. Another political commentator wisely warned recently that we of the self-identified Left should not mistake a growing public unease about the actions of the powerful in this country for actual awareness, in the sense of real political consciousness; I have to agree. For my entire adult life up to and including the present moment, most of the Left’s sense of injustice, its justified rage and fear, and its warnings of looming catastrophe have fallen almost entirely on the ears of the others in the room. I don’t know how the rest of you feel, but I am increasingly forced to leave the chamber of Left-wing Analysis and seek other sources of insight from time to time, and that is what invariably leads me back to literature and art.....(full article)

Corporate E. coli
by Joshua Frank

The latest string of E. coli outbreaks should raise serious questions about the vulnerability of our country’s food supply. While most public health officials blame the cases on a violent strain of noxious bacteria, the corporate food industry continues to evade its due scrutiny.....(full article)

Daley’s Big-Box Veto and Urban Neoliberal Racism
by Paul Street

It’s just too perfectly awful.  For the first time in his seventeen years as the Mayor of Chicago, Richard M. Daley has found it necessary to veto an ordinance by his normally obedient City Council. The measure he has successfully moved to stamp out was widely supported by rank and file citizens, community-based organizations, and labor unions in his city’s black, Latino, and working-class wards.  Originally passed by the council under pressure from a remarkable grassroots campaign, the measure would have required giant retail corporations like Wal-Mart, Target, Lowes, and Home Depot to pay workers in the city a modest minimum wage of ten dollars an hour by 2010. According to a poll conducted by Lake Research Partners, 84 percent of the city’s residents and 90 percent of its black residents supported the “big box” Living Wage bill. The ordinance led Wal-Mart and Target to announce that they were putting a number of “big box” retail developments in Chicago on hold. They have launched a preemptive capital strike, threatening to disinvest in the city unless and until the popular ordinance was shelved and a “favorable business climate” restored in the City of Big Shoulders.....(full article)

September 17

There is No War On Terror: Oil, the New Reich
and the Coming War on Iran
by Juan Santos

Beneath all the hype about 9-1-1, and beneath the posturing as the US moves toward new "elections," the Bush regime is laying the groundwork for a blitzkrieg style, go-for-broke move toward reshaping the world. There is No War on Terror. It has nothing to do with a "war on terror.".....(full article)

No Mercy
by Sheila Samples

A year after triumphantly declaring that work in the Gulf Coast region would be "one of the largest reconstruction efforts the world has ever seen," and after promising that "Americans will look back at the response to Hurricane Katrina and say that our country grew not only in prosperity, but also in character and justice," George Bush had the audacity to return to New Orleans. Unbelievable. Bush wore the same blue photo-op shirt of a year ago, with sleeves rolled up to show he meant business. With his trademark nod and wink, he said he accepted full responsibility for the government's breakdown in responding to the devastation -- a breakdown that cost many additional lives. After adding that he'd learned his lesson, Bush then launched into his incoherent, all-too-familiar babble that help is on the way. As I listened to Bush articulate (sic) his "vision" of a "bright dawn" emerging over New Orleans -- watched him peer off in the distance at the brigades of Saints that only he could see "marching home," I wondered if he gave any thought to the bodies of the lost still lying trapped in the debris so close to where he was standing. I wondered if the desperate families who remain broken and scattered throughout the country could see his lofty vision through their tears as they received notices from FEMA that their housing benefits are terminated, their utilities assistance cut off, their insurance claims denied.....(full article)

No Innocent Bystanders in America 
by Mickey Z.

The next time you're feeling "free," see how far you can walk without being legally compelled to stop to let cars drive past. The light turns red and, voila, you are no longer free to continue walking because in America, the car culture rules. This essentially invisible totalitarian salvo was recently complicated when a big white SUV crept up into the crosswalk, making it virtually hopeless for yours truly to cross the damn street even when the light changed to green. I fixed my gaze on the mechanized monster before me and immediately saw all that is wrong with America. No, I'm not just talking about how the gas guzzling properties of that SUV directly result in military interventions, human rights violations, global poverty, rampant war crimes, and everything else on that lurid laundry list. This is not just another screed about the myriad highways that crisscross America, draining tax dollars, shattering communities, and devastating eco-systems. No, this is all about dissidents finally blaming everyone who deserves blame (including ourselves).....(full article)

Convictions: The Trial of the Weapons of Mass Destruction
 Hear Plowshares Clowns
by Bill Quigley

On the morning of June 20, 2006, three people dressed as clown arrived at Echo 9. The clowns broke the lock off the fence and put up peace banners and posters. One said:  “Swords into plowshares -- Spears into pruning hooks.” Then they poured some of their own blood and hammered on the nuclear launching facility. Fr. Carl Kabat, 72, along with Greg Boertje-Obed, 52, and Michael Walli, 57, were the people dressed as clowns. Carl Kabat is a catholic priest. Greg is an ex-military officer, married and the father of an 11-year-old daughter. Mike is a Vietnam vet who has worked with the homeless for decades. Greg and Carl are members of the Loaves and Fishes Community in Duluth. The three are called the Weapons of Mass Destruction Here Plowshares. They placed a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, international legal condemnations of nuclear weapons, bibles, rosaries, bread, wine, and a picture of Greg’s daughter on the top of the missile silo. Then they waited until the air force security forces came and arrested them. They were charged with felony damage to government property and were kept in North Dakota jails until their trial in September. In their trial they planned to argue to the jury that because the Minuteman III is a weapon of mass destruction it is illegal under international law.....
(full article)


Pope Pits Reasonable Christian West vs. Irrational Violent Islam
(with Emphasis on Greece vs. Persia)  
by Gary Leupp

His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI gave a speech September 12 at the University of Regensburg in his German homeland. He discussed “the question of God through the use of reason” and the matter of getting “reason and faith [to] work together in the right way.” His basic theme was that there has been a “synthesis with Hellenism achieved in the early [Christian] church” and that this relationship between Christianity and Greek philosophy and logic has been a very good thing. He warned against those who believe this synthesis is “not binding” upon new converts from non-western traditions; this view, he declared, is “false.” The pontiff plainly intended to depict the Roman Catholic Church as supportive of modernity and science in general, and both western and tolerant......(full article

Glaxo Promotes Mental Disorders -- Then Paxil 
by Evelyn Pringle

After gaining FDA approval for Paxil to treat depression in 1992, GlaxoSmithKline spent the next decade launching creative advertising campaigns aimed at promoting not only Paxil but also a myriad of treatable "disorders." And as a result, Glaxo was able to convince doctors and consumers alike that the drug was appropriate for treating just about every common anxiety of life......(full article)

Mr. Rove’s Opus of Deception:
9/11 And The Lonesome Ballad of Blind Willie McMansion

by Phil Rockstroh

At present, 46 percent of the American people hold the delusion that Saddam Hussein was involved in the planning and execution of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001. This statistic came to light as ABC/Disney aired last weekend a drama  based on 9/11 containing the corresponding degree of historical accuracy regarding the circumstances leading up to the tragic events of that day as an average episode of The Flintstones in depicting daily life during the Stone Age. What are the cultural circumstances that allow such mass deceptions to be perpetrated with seeming impunity? Will these Rovian prevarications, so rife within the corporate media bubble, continue to define our life and times? Will our destinies, both individual and collective, continue to be determined by these pervasive deceits -- these pernicious narratives, concocted by cadres of elitist fabulists, perpetuated with the intention of frightening and distracting that portion of our population comprised of gullible, anxious, over-sized, over-aged, dim children? (full article)

Against Heroes
by Said Shirazi

Like everyone I was frightened and stunned after the attacks. I was scared to say anything and told myself it might make sense to wait and see what unfolded before trying to come to any conclusions. I also didn't want to say anything until I felt I could say everything, until I could speak my mind fully. And like most I soon fell under the influence of those at the top who were not stunned for long and who seized the chance to wage a deliberate campaign of intimidation against their domestic rivals.....(full article)

The Other 9/11 Tragedy: The Road Not Taken
by Robert Jensen

. . . . So, on this anniversary week it’s important to mark not one, but two great tragedies. The first, of course, is the 9/11 attacks that killed nearly 3,000 innocent people. Memorial services around the country this week marked our common sense of loss. Unfortunately, there won’t be official memorial services for the second tragedy that followed -- the commencement of the so-called “war on terror.” That misguided policy has taken far more innocent lives -- now into the hundreds of thousands, in Afghanistan and Iraq -- without making the U.S. public any safer. But there’s an even deeper tragedy -- not in what has happened because of this illegal and immoral policy, but in what didn’t happen.....(full article)

An Anniversary Plea
by Rev. José M. Tirado

For the past several days, as I watched from afar the many 9/11 commemories on TV: various documentaries about the events leading up to 9/11, the news reports on BBC and local coverage, I felt for my country. I felt sad first for the families of those killed. The sudden brutality of their loved one’s deaths affected me deeply. I felt their tragedy was never properly addressed as that horrendous mass murder (and murder it was and should have been prosecuted as such) became the cynical justification for two disastrous wars and tens of thousands of deaths with unimaginable destruction. Then I felt sad for America’s isolation, for what else could explain the media’s singular focus upon that terrible event divorced from context or history? And then, I felt my sadness giving way to frustration and at times anger.....(full article)

September 13

Protecting the Torturers: Bad Faith and Distortions From the
American Psychological Association
by Stephen Soldz

Unlike the medical and psychiatric associations, the American Psychological Association, as I documented in my recent article, "A Profession Struggles to Save Its Soul: Psychologists, Guantánamo and Torture," has steadfastly refused to condemn [mis]use of psychological techniques to break detainees at Guantánamo or elsewhere and has consistently refused to forbid members to participate in interrogations at these facilities. In fact, the Association leadership has worked persistently to protect the ability of psychologists to participate in “national security” interrogations, even, at times, claiming an ethical obligation to do so to prevent harm to society, presumably from the “terrorists” imprisoned there for the last four-and-a-half years. In recent months the opposition to Association policy from within has strengthened. However, these efforts have been limited in nature and opponents have, in every instance, been outmaneuvered by the Association leadership. In addition to the disturbing events reported in my previous article, more evidence on the smokescreen of manipulations, distortions and downright lies used by the Association raises additional questions as to what the Association leadership is up to.....(full article)

War … By All Means
by Peter Kurth

Will you all wake up, or what will you do? You heard our President speaking: “They got a different tool to use,” and if you don’t stop them, they’re going to be running through our streets and, worse, our malls, blowing us into little pieces as if we were mere chattel from Baghdad. Just numbers on the AP wire -- 45 today, 65 tomorrow, a leg here, a head there, a lot of blood on the altars of worship … damn, that’s not an American fate. I have this directly from the source, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who warned last week, in a speech that will be remembered for as long as human history is written, that Americans are dupes, and that those of us who oppose the Bush administration and its self-created “War on Terror” are not just fools and traitors but “appeasers,” likened to those nefarious Brits who, before World War II, preferred to go about their lives rather than stand up to Hitler and say, “Here, Adolf -- take that!”......(full article)

Bush’s “Fascism Caper” Could Boomerang
by Robert S. Rivkin

The “Fascism Caper” is the Republicans’ last desperate ploy to cling to power. Bush’s political operatives had better duck, because the boomerang they’ve hurled might come back to clobber them. True, the apocalyptic Muslim extremists who urge the murder of Christians, Jews and anyone in their own societies who oppose a harsh, authoritarian, theocratic government reflect some similarity in thinking with Nazi and fascist philosophies of the 20th century. On the other hand, there are also significant differences which several commentators have extensively analyzed.....
(full article

Fighting the Larger War
by Neve Gordon

While the fighting in Lebanon was still raging, many analysts claimed that Hezbollah’s modern weaponry and use of civilian spaces for military purposes distinguished the war from any other. “Never before in history has a terrorist organization had such state-of-the-art military equipment,” an Israeli general was quoted as saying in the New York Times. And yet, “Hezbollah has no armor or easily visible storehouses or logistic lines,” the Times continued, “and its members live among the civilian population of southern Lebanon, storing their weaponry in civilian buildings.” Article after article mentioned the homes used as repositories for missiles, how the missiles were launched from village centers, and the way Hezbollah guerrillas, after firing the missiles, immediately blended back into the civilian population. What struck me about these descriptions was that there was really nothing new about them; in fact, most guerilla warfare has been carried out in a similar manner. Even the pre-state Jewish paramilitary groups that attempted to drive the Brits out of Mandatory Palestine operated in comparable ways.  In other words, what the newspapers described as a new phenomenon was actually old, and what in reality was truly new was totally elided. The Lebanon war was, in effect, a war within a war, and the other war -- the war within which it took place and which continues to wreak havoc -- is unique.....(full article)

The Apotheosis of Enclosure: Israel as the
Ultimate Gated Community 
by J.A. Miller

What is that, a prison? It has been reported that American troops hilariously refer to Fallujah as the world’s largest gated community as they slouch at the checkpoints strangling the destroyed city once home to 350,000 souls. But flattened Fallujah has a rival in the neighborhood for the title. Barely 500 miles from its ruins we find that Israel has advanced the American concept of gated community to a new level and is in the process of rolling out the ultimate end product of the centuries-long enclosure movement: The enclosed state.....(full article

Some More Reasons to Support Hezbollah and Hamas
by Stephen S. Pearcy

Even before Israel’s recent invasion of Lebanon, Hezbollah was already popular for its resistance to Israeli aggression, and Nasrallah, as the leader of Hezbollah, enjoyed widespread support.  But after the onslaught of Israel’s recent military attacks, Hezbollah began experiencing a huge surge of popularity throughout the Middle East, because it was the only organized group of people willing risk their lives to defend the Lebanese people from Israel’s campaign of slaughter.  Hezbollah essentially came to the rescue when the Lebanese army (and UN support) was nowhere in sight. It is certainly not sufficient to say that one should support Hezbollah or Nasrallah just because they’re popular. What’s important is to consider the substantive reasons why they deserve our support.....(full article)

The Bush Magical Mystery Political Capital Tour
by Walter Brasch

Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Condoleezza Rice, and the rest of the gang that thinks they’re a war cabinet supporting the man who thinks he’s a war president used the fifth anniversary of 9/11 to tell the world how great they are. In speech after speech, all meant to boost their neocon candidates’ chances for re-election in two months, they dominated the news media to proclaim that under their watch there have been no more attacks on American soil. They looked directly into the cameras and told us that because Americans are fighting in Iraq, the terrorists aren’t in New York City. For their part, the establishment media willingly disseminated the PR. What wasn’t stated in the rah-rah political boosterism was that the massive babbling was nothing more than sleight-of-hand distortion. The sleeping Bush–Cheney administration before 9/11 had begun to reduce the effectiveness of FEMA, cut back funding for the FBI counterterrorism operations, failed to act upon a number of FBI warnings about potential terrorists already in the United States, and disregarded substantial and significant warnings of the impending attack. Even one month before 9/11, President Bush apparently didn’t do much with a Presidential Daily Brief that was entitled “Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside U.S.,” and then stood flat-footed when first told about the 9/11 attacks. But then his advisory council, largely composed of his father’s advisors, regrouped and led him into at least the appearance of being presidential.....(full article)

Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans 
by Charles Sullivan

It was a year ago that hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast region of the USA, and left a path of death and destruction in her wake. Well over a thousand human beings lost their lives in the floods that followed the tempest. Who can say how many people lost hope in the aftermath of that terrific storm? . . . A year later the commercial media is dutifully revisiting the story, as if to sell the public on the notion that they -- a defacto extension of the government -- actually care about America’s poor; they do not. America remains a racist nation that was built upon slave labor, and the exploitation of immigrant workers. Racism can be found anywhere but, thankfully, it does not exist everywhere. Not all Americans are racists. However, racism flourishes in the White House, and every branch of government is poisoned by the malignancy of bigotry.....(full article)

Why Blogs?
by Mickey Z

With an innumerable amount of flashy, take-forever-to-load mainstream websites teeming with must-read items about pseudo-people like Paris Hilton, Tom Cruise, Bill O'Reilly, and Michael Moore ... why do so many bother maintaining a blog that's read by (maybe) 75 outcasts? (full article)

The Revolution Will Not Be Televised
by John Pilger

As he launches a season of his films this week at the Barbican in London, John Pilger looks back on some of his 50-plus documentaries and argues that, in its descent to "Big Brother" and other so-called reality TV, television is losing its sense of public service and no longer nurturing challenging documentary-makers -- at a time when they are urgently needed.....
(full article)

September 11

Forget September 11
by Anthony Alessandrini

. . . I propose a certain kind of remembering, and a certain kind of forgetting. Certainly, do not forget those who died on September 11, 2001. But remember them in the larger context of the literally millions of people throughout the world who have faced the consequences wrought by the U.S. government and its allies in retaliation. Don’t forget the events that happened on September 11, 2001 and their aftermath; forget “September 11” as a glib phrase that has obfuscated this larger context and has been instead used by the U.S. government to wreak havoc throughout the world in the name of a principle that has not yet been actively rejected by people in the United States: the principle that American lives are somehow worth more than the lives of others.....(full article)

A Third to Half of Americans Still Link Saddam, 9/11:
The Enduring Power of Ignorance, and Need to Fight It   
by Gary Leupp

The caption of the report was “Some Americans Still Link Hussein to 9/11.” Some, indeed. As of September 2006, 46% of Americans asked, “Do you think there is a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attacks?” said yes. 50% said no, and 4% said they weren’t sure in a poll with a 3.2% margin of error. In other words, fully half of us link Saddam and the 9/11 attacks. (The poll was taken Sept. 1-5, 2006.) Of course, it’s all in the wording of these questions. There might have been a different result had the pollsters asked, “Do you still think there is a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attacks?” or “Given the fact that no expert has been able to establish any evidence for an operative relationship between al-Qaeda and Saddam, and that only people who never pay attention to the news think that anymore, do you think personally still think there is a link between Saddam Hussein and the 9/11 terrorist attacks?” (Don’t laugh at the tendentiousness built into my rewritten questions. The online polls conducted by the cable networks are often just as skewed.) Anyway, the just published Angus-Reid poll asked a second question: Do you think former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was personally involved in the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks? (full article)

The Propaganda War: Revisiting Afghanistan on 9-11 
by Jack Random

There are two kinds of propaganda. One is guided by principle and strictly adheres to what it knows to be the truth. The other is guided by a political agenda and does not hesitate to distort, misrepresent and obscure the truth whenever it conflicts with that agenda. The former is an honorable tradition in the service of justice and democracy, a legacy distinguished by Tom Paine, Cesar Chavez, Martin Luther King and so many other less-trumpeted American heroes. The latter is the refuge of political hacks and demagogues exemplified by Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and Joe McCarthy. While the demagogues and partisans are invariably financed by the most powerful institutions in the nation, inheriting permanent seats at the table of mainstream media, the purveyors of truth face a constant struggle until finally their numbers are so many they can no longer be denied. On the fifth anniversary of the twin towers attack, all Americans need to be reminded that there is a war going on within the nation. It is a propaganda war, pitting truth versus power, and its outcome is anything but certain. In the balance of this struggle for the hearts and minds of America lies a future of constant war, fear and loathing, against an alternative vision of enlightened leadership.....(full article)

How Human Rights Watch Lost its Way in Lebanon
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The measure of a human rights organization is to be found not just in the strides it takes to seek justice for the oppressed and victimized but also in the compromises it makes to keep itself out of trouble. Because of the business that human rights defenders are in, they must be held to a standard higher than we demand of others. Unfortunately, one of the best -- Human Rights Watch -- has failed that test during the war in Lebanon this summer.....(full article)

Devastation Via Inoculation 
by Sinead Dumigan

The hands expected to protect and serve have poisoned the weakest and most vulnerable portion of the population: the children. The American government and drug manufacturers have created anarchy among innocence, transformed children into mere investments, and turned a blind eye to the destruction of the world's future. The vaccine controversy was first recognized in the late 1980s when autism cases began escalating at a terrifying rate. Further investigation of the matter revealed the common denominator as thimerosal, a preservative (49.6% mercury by weight) used as an antibacterial agent in multi-dose vials of vaccines. Recommending a schedule of over 30 vaccine doses before the age of two, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) play a dangerous game of Russian roulette with the world's children. Common vaccines such as diphtheria-tetanus-whole-cell-pertussis (DTP), hepatitis b (Hep b), and diphtheria-tetanus-acellular-pertussis (DTaP) all contained thimerosal until at least 1999 and were repeatedly administered, exposing children to dangerous levels of mercury. Comprised of liars, thieves and, most of all, cowards, the American government has failed its people in every sense of the word by maliciously dismissing scientific evidence of thimerosal's toxicity and allowing the youngest, most defenseless portion of society to fall victim to political warfare....(full article)

Iranian President’s Attack on Academics Should Sound Familiar
in the US
by Robert Jensen

When I published an article this summer that condemned the past six decades of U.S. policy toward Iran, and the Middle East more generally, as a strategy of “domination-through-violence,” one critic e-mailed to suggest that if I was so unhappy with the United States, “why don’t you and all the other liberal professors just pack up and move to Iran and see how you like it there.” Though I never gave the idea much thought -- I’m a U.S. citizen who believes I have an obligation to work to make this country better, and besides I like it here just fine -- it appears the option of going to Iran is no longer available to me or my leftie colleagues after President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s announcement this week that he wants to purge liberal and secular teachers from Iranian universities. Hmm. Sounds kind of familiar.....(full article)

We Can See Through Your Masks: War and the Power of Words
by Ron Jacobs

The remembrance of the sight remains fixed in my brain. Try as I might, my mind's eye cannot stop seeing the second plane hit that tower. Nor can it erase the sight of that tower collapsing in on itself. Being no more than thirty blocks away that day, I remember the uncertainty I felt. I wasn't afraid and was fortunate that no one I knew was killed or injured (although I didn't find that out until evening). When I heard that an explosion had occurred at the Pentagon, my feelings were a bit different, yet I knew that even though it was a military target, mostly civilian personnel would suffer. On the streets of New York, uncertainty was the tone of the day, even among those whose fear had turned to anger or overwrought blathering. Indeed, it seemed that the only thing certain among every person I talked with was that the White House would use this tragedy as an excuse to go to war. Five years later, the truth of that certainty is in the news daily. Indeed, talk of spreading that war to Iran is beginning to reach a fever pitch as I write. It doesn't take a genius to see the ducks being lined up; claims of a deadly enemy with WMD in the Middle East and a need to destroy them now; regime change in Tehran and huzzahs from Tel Aviv; stories planted real and false in the press concerning the internal situation in Washington's next target; false dissension from Washington's allies over the course of war; words being wasted at the UN since Washington's armies will do whatever they want, UN Security Council or not; threats and ultimatums disguised as diplomacy from the State Department. Into this scenario comes a book due to be released on September 11, 2006.....(full article)

September 7

Tax Hunters LTD: Hired Duns Take Over Your Taxes
by Lila Rajiva

Prisons for profit, spooks-for-hire, pay-as-you-drink-water -- it was only a matter of time before the privatizing mania reached the Internal Revenue Service. Now, under the American Jobs Creation Act of October 2004, the government is getting ready to pay bounty hunters up to one-quarter of the money they collect in delinquent taxes. And this IRS blockbuster is coming to a town near you this September with minimal public preview. In two weeks time, the records of 12,500 taxpayers, that’s right, YOUR sensitive tax papers, are going to be pawed through for leisure reading by profiteers who get to pocket a sizable wad of cash for collecting delinquencies on them. What are the odds that the definition of delinquency is going to expand faster than a neo-con war plan? (full article)

Speaking “Truthiness” to the Powerless
by Leilla Matsui

The dissident writer's job description could be best summed up as performing cleanup duty for our coal-shoveling colleagues on Satan's payroll. When one of these individuals or organizations drops a "stinky", we (the unofficial, unpaid up members of the Rupert Murdoch Manure Brigade) are there, nose plugs and pooper-scooper in hand, applying ourselves to the grim task of clearing the air. We like to believe that facts speak louder than spin, and go a long way in diffusing the stink bombs continually lobbed at us by the Military/Industrial/Happy Meal/Media Complex (or IHOP for short). At times, wishful thinking overrides a willingness to acknowledge the often futile nature of this task. Still, we labor in the dim hope that these Sisyphean, shit shoveling efforts will be eventually rewarded with a "Eureka" moment -- that an actual, indisputable, screamingly obvious fact (No WMD's in Iraq!) will somehow penetrate the sloped forehead of a genuine, dyed-in-the-GAP shorts Kool-Aid chugger. Let's say our imaginary Bushi'ite, perhaps during his nocturnal sojourns into cyberspace, has temporarily tired of trying to lure Myspace hotties into his subterranean rec room for "role playing dungeon games" and only managing to attract other Bud-swilling basement dwellers in Boy Scout uniforms posing as jail bait. Maybe that's why he's now turned to his second favorite online activity: trawling the left wing blogosphere searching for proof of a liberal "bias". And this is presumably the moment when epiphany kicks in, causing his entire worldview to come crashing down like a bowl of overturned Cheetos. "Holy freakin' Jesus! It says here that "an oil hungry pack of plutocrats have taken up permanent residence in the White House in order to impose full spectrum domination over the planet and line their bottomless, blood soaked pockets with the spoils of war and terror -- I gotta tell Earl," prompting him to share these hair raising revelations with fellow members of his internet message board militia, who in turn, will have their falsely held notions similarly blown up into powdery, orange smithereens....(full article)

Israeli-US Strategy: Lebanon and Iran
by James Petras

A survey of Israeli State pronouncements, documents and press releases echoed by its resident representatives in the Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations and their supporters writing and speaking in the major media reveals a concerted effort to convince the United States to militarily attack Iran. Beginning in the mid-1990s, Israel’s top US ideologues promulgated documents and propaganda manifestos, purporting to be strategy papers directed toward joint US-Israeli aggression against Iraq, Syria and especially Iran.....(full article)

What Women are Saying About the Violence in the Middle East
by Lucinda Marshall

There has been no shortage of punditry when it comes to the current crisis in the Middle East, however most of the published and broadcast voices have been male. If there is to be any hope of a sustainable peace in this region it is critically important to also listen to what women are saying. As Professor Cynthia Enloe has pointed out many times, we must ask how armed conflict and militarism affects women. How are their lives impacted, what are their needs, and what are their thoughts. Unfortunately, every time anyone fires a rocket or a gun, real news about women and what they are saying (not to be confused with sensationalized coverage such as the JonBenet Ramsey ‘story’) is almost completely blacked out. We get a few pictures of anguished women holding dead children and husbands, but mostly we see pictures of tanks, mobs of men and the voices of generals and politicians, with only a token woman or two thrown in to ‘balance’ the picture.....(full article)

Palestinian Donors: What Mission?
by Nicola Nasser

The Palestinians have been too grateful and too helpless for too long to be critical of the political agenda of their donors who have practically nailed them down as political hostages to the donors’ money, which was promised initially to help build an independent Palestinian state, but ended as a political instrument effectively used by the Israeli occupying power. Donors have embroiled themselves in an internal Palestinian political crisis they themselves created when they withheld their aid as a collective punishment to squeeze out of power a political movement not of their liking, which ironically came to power in a fairly and transparently democratic elections that were financed and monitored by none other than themselves....(full article)

Roy's People: American liberalism needs more Roy Orbison
and less wonk strategy
by Joe Bageant

. . . Empathy is scarce stuff in America in these times of “culture war.” And all these folks, Pauline, Wilf, and even Denney to a certain extent, despite the political stereotyping his sexuality invites, are supposedly the “other side,” in the culture war. Which is actually a class war by another name. We call it a culture war because educated influencers write books for similarly educated people who have been indoctrinated to interpret reality in such terms. Not a person here has ever heard of the culture wars. No one here cares about politics because politics no longer cares about them, or the increasing struggle of hard working people. This makes them the traditional natural base for the Democratic Party, though the party refuses to claim them, and seems to have forgotten (or simply refuses to acknowledge) that the pyramid of American society is far broader toward the bottom than the top. In any case, they have become numb to America.....(full article)

Plan C -- The People's Morning-After-the-Elections Contraception
by Zbignew Zingh

A joint commission of the Food and Drug Administration and the League of Women's Voters has recommended the non-prescription sale and use of “Plan C,” the people's morning-after-the elections contraception. “Plan C” allows citizens who engage in careless voting, or who elect a completely imbecilic, ethically challenged and/or dishonest candidate by accident, mistake or in a moment of blind passion, to countermand their error by immediately retracting their votes and decertifying the election. “Plan C” is also available to “undo” the apparent election of political leaders that the majority clearly did not vote for. “Plan C” can be taken anytime within 24 hours after the supposed “winner” of an election has been declared or a serious discrepancy between exit polls and the “official tallies” have been disclosed. “Plan C” has strong supporters who argue that the only other way to deal with unwanted, unloved and uncared for politicians is the slow and uncertain process of impeachment.....(full prescription)

September 5

Economic Empire Building and Domestic Decay:
Meet Hank Paulson, Washington’s New Economic Czar
by James Petras

While most commentators have in recent months focused on US and Israeli militarism in the Middle East and South Asia, US capitalism is preparing for a new offensive domestically and overseas. Three areas are targeted by the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies: 1) a renewed effort to privatize social security, reduce social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid while increasing individual payments, further reduce taxes on corporations and the rich and state regulatory controls over corporations, especially the Sarbanes-Oxley Law, in order to ease corporate global financial transactions, at the risk of small investors; 2) a big push by US multinational corporations to finance their exploitation and takeovers of ‘emerging countries’ (Third World) by capturing local savings; 3) a major effort to lower trade and investment barriers -- such as local subsidies and tariffs -- for US industrial, financial and other service corporations while retaining a privileged place for heavily subsidized US agro-exporters and protected US agro businesses in the domestic market. The inter-relation of economic empire building -- both in terms of control over overseas markets and enterprises -- is closely linked to domestic policies. Tax cuts for the corporation and rich increase capital for export; privatized social security adds billions in profits for Wall Street investment banks; cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and increased fees and co-payments, provides greater funds to pay wealthy bondholders. The empire grows while the domestic social economy is impoverished.....(full article

To Protect Lebanon, Sue Israel for War Crimes
by Ahmed Amr

Against all odds, Ehud Olmert and Hassan Nasrallah are finally on the same page. On the one hand, we have Nasrallah admitting that he never would have ordered the detention of two Israeli soldiers if he knew that it would lead to a major outbreak of hostilities. The Hezbollah leader had no intention of igniting a war -- he simply wanted to arrange a prisoner exchange. And from Olmert, we have a pretty clear statement that the war had nothing to do with releasing the two Israeli captives. In fact, the invasion was a pre-planned event with very specific goals and a battle plan ready to go at the slightest provocation. To justify his decision to go to war before the Israeli cabinet, Olmert made a startling confession.....(full article)

Will Robert Fisk Tell Us the Whole Story?
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

More than a little uncomfortably, I find myself with a bone to pick with one of our finest champions of humanitarian values and opponents of war. During Israel’s attack on Lebanon this summer, the distinguished British journalist Robert Fisk did sterling work -- as might have been expected -- debunking some of the main myths that littered the battlefield almost as dangerously as the tens of thousands of US-made cluster bombs that Israel dropped in the last days of the fighting. He documented the violations of international law by Israel in Lebanon, offering a personal record of the nature and scale of war crimes as more than 1,000 Lebanese civilians died in Israel’s aerial bombardment of the country, hundreds of thousands more were made refugees, and most of the country’s infrastructure -- its roads, bridges, power stations, oil refineries and factories -- went up in flames. For this he deserves our thanks and praise. But possibly in an attempt at even-handedness, Fisk has also muddied the picture in relation to the actions of Hizbullah and thereby contributed towards the very mythical narratives he seeks to undermine.....(full article)

The People’s Struggle in the Middle East:
An Interview with Ramzy Baroud

by Joshua Frank

Ramzy Baroud is a US author and journalist, currently based in London. He is the author of The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People's Struggle (Pluto Press, 2006). He is also the Editor-in-Chief of Here Baroud talks with Joshua Frank about the latest crisis in the Middle East and how it threatens the US and Israel’s international prowess.....(full interview)

Negotiations or Sanctions: Peace or War with Iran?
by Abbas Edalat

With the end of August, the deadline of the UN Security Council resolution on Iran has now passed with Iran ignoring the demand to suspend uranium enrichment for a civilian nuclear technology that it regards as its inalienable right under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has not found a shred of evidence of a nuclear weapons program after over 2,000 man/days of unprecedented inspections of Iran’s nuclear plants in the past three years and Iran has not been found to be in breach of its NPT obligations. According to the IAEA, there are 45 other countries including 14 countries in Europe and several members of UN Security Council, who are in a similar position as Iran in that the time consuming process of verification is still continuing. For all these countries, like Iran, the Director General of the IAEA is not yet in a position to say that all their nuclear activities are peaceful. Thus, the referral of Iran, under US pressure, to the UN Security Council by the IAEA Governing Board and the Security Council resolution against Iran has no legal foundation in international law.....(full article)

Why I Boycott: An Open Letter to Rabbi Andy Bachman 
by Anthony Alessandrini

Dear Rabbi Bachman: 
I write to you as someone who has been protesting outside of Aroma Espresso Bar in New York City. As you probably know, Aroma is Israel’s largest coffee chain, with 73 locations and growing. As you point out in your blog entry, “Meet Me for Coffee,” this includes locations in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. But you don’t mention that Aroma also has a cafe located in Maaleh Adumim, an illegal settlement in the West Bank (by “illegal,” I simply refer to the standard of international law, which is clear about the illegality of permanent settlements in occupied territories). I am taking the time to write this letter because, I must admit, I found something rather moving about one aspect of your response to hearing about protests at Aroma: “Here’s my stupid utopian vision: Invite the protesters in for coffee. Let the Aroma Espresso Bar breathe with debate over the war in Iraq, the war in Lebanon, dependence on oil, the role of religion and fundamentalism in all societies. That’s what cafes used to be all about.” I’m certain that we differ on many things, but it seems that we share a desire that cafes in this city, and in this country, become places full of open political debates (though preferably not the mega-chains that crush smaller cafes and local commerce). From this tiny patch of common ground -- even if the commonness is only rhetorical -- I want to offer you an explanation as to why I can’t accept your invitation to coffee at Aroma Espresso Bar....(full letter)

September 1, Labor Day Weekend Edition

The Politics of Disposability
by Henry A. Giroux

As we observe the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, citizens in the United States and globally are still struggling to draw the correct conclusions and learn the right lessons from that horrific catastrophe. Initially, we were led to believe that Katrina was the result of a fateful combination of a natural disaster and government incompetence, a perfect storm of bad luck that provided one more example of the general inability of the Bush administration to actually govern, let alone protect its citizenry. Yet, with some distance and sober reflection, this assessment seems a bit shortsighted, a little too localized. In truth, Katrina offers a number of relevant lessons not only for U.S. citizens but also for Canadians and people all over the world who must grapple with the global advance of what I call a politics of disposability......(full article)

US Army Contemplates Redrawing Middle East Map
to Stave Off Looming Global Meltdown
by Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

In a little-noted article printed in early August in the Armed Forces Journal, a monthly magazine for officers and leaders in the United States military community, early retired Major Ralph Peters sets out the latest ideas in current US strategic thinking. And they are extremely disturbing. Maj. Peters, formerly assigned to the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence where he was responsible for future warfare, candidly outlines how the map of the Middle East should be fundamentally re-drawn, in a new imperial endeavor designed to correct past errors. “Without such major boundary revisions, we shall never see a more peaceful Middle East,” he observes, but then adds wryly: “Oh, and one other dirty little secret from 5,000 years of history: Ethnic cleansing works.” Thus, acknowledging that the sweeping reconfiguration of borders he proposes would necessarily involve massive ethnic cleansing and accompanying bloodshed on perhaps a genocidal scale, he insists that unless it is implemented, “we may take it as an article of faith that a portion of the bloodshed in the region will continue to be our own.” Among his proposals are the need to establish “an independent Kurdish state” to guarantee the long-denied right to Kurdish self-determination. But behind the humanitarian sentiments, Maj. Peters declares that: “A Free Kurdistan, stretching from Diyarbakir through Tabriz, would be the most pro-Western state between Bulgaria and Japan.”......(full article)

US vs. Iran: Is an Attack Inevitable?
by Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

We are being mentally prepared for what is about to come: a devastating war with Iran. This war has been planned a long time ago and has been delayed by the unexpected insurgency in Iraq (for full details read “Why Iraq and Now Iran”). This war, in one form or other, is “almost” inevitable. The current US administration has climbed on a tiger, and in fear of being eaten, doesn’t know how to get-off.....(full article)

The Great Housing Crash of '07
by Mike Whitney

This month's figures prove that the so-called "housing bubble" is not only real, but that its cratering faster than anyone had realized. As the UK Guardian reported a couple of days ago, “the orderly housing slowdown predicted by the Federal Reserve will (soon) become a full-blown crash.” All the indicators are now pointing in the wrong direction. Consumer confidence is down, inventory is at a 10-year high, and the number of homes sold in July was 22% lower than last year. As Paul Ashworth, chief economist at Capital Economics said, “Things do seem to be getting worse very quickly. Freefall is a strong word, but I think it's the right one to use here.”......(full article)

Labor Dazed
Beyond the Living Wage: A New Challenge for Progressives

by Sam Pizzigati

Over the past dozen years, probably no grassroots campaign has excited progressives more -- and generated more real victories -- than the living wage  movement. Over 120 communities, big and small alike, have now enacted ordinances that require businesses that win government contracts to pay a living wage. These victories have made an undeniable impact. Low-wage workers from Baltimore to Los Angeles have seen their annual take-home pay rise by hundreds, even thousands, of dollars. Yet, as a sobering new report reminds us, the pay gap in America’s workplaces -- between workers and top executives -- has actually widened, and significantly so. Last year, notes “Executive Excess 2006,” a just-released report from the Institute for Policy Studies and United for a Fair Economy, top executives at major U.S. corporations took home 411 times more than average workers.....(full article)

Israel’s Deceptions as a Way of Life
by Jonathan Cook

In a state established on a founding myth -- that the native Palestinian population left of their own accord rather than that they were ethnically cleansed -- and in one that seeks its legitimacy through a host of other lies, such as that the occupation of the West Bank is benign and that Gaza’s has ended, deception becomes a political way of life. And so it is in the “relative calm” that has followed Israel’s month-long pounding of Lebanon, a calm in which Israelis may no longer be dying but the Lebanese most assuredly are as explosions of US-made cluster bombs greet the south’s returning refugees and the anonymous residents of Gaza perish by the dozens each and every week under the relentless and indiscriminate strikes of the Israeli air force while the rest slowly starve in their open-air prison. Israeli leaders deceive as much in “peace” as they do in war, which is why it is worth examining the slow trickle of disinformation coming from Tel Aviv and reflecting on where it is leading. Many of Israel’s war lies have already been deeply implanted in Western consciousness by the media......(full article)

The Emperor Has Been Exposed,  But Not to All, and Not Enough  
by Gary Leupp

One of the faults of academics (I speak as one of them) is that we tend to imagine that having demonstrated some fact to our own satisfaction, and to that of those we respect, we can move on, job done, to the next illumination of fact without tarrying to convince those we consider ignorant. If this pertains to our colleagues who seem unable to grasp our wisdom, it applies much more to the benighted masses who, so long as they remain outside the campus gates and are unable to affect tenure and promotion decisions, don’t bother us much. Why waste time popularizing what we ourselves already know so well, challenging ignorance in the spirit of altruistic compassion, when we can be devoting our time to career-advancing research? (full article)

Finding Faith in Our Darkest Hour: A New Orleans Update 
by Xochitl Bervera

Friends from around the country ask us: “How are things in New Orleans?  Are things getting better?” I always have to pause, surprised that people haven’t heard. I forget that the national media has abandoned us, that George Bush flew into town for five minutes to make promises of federal support which gave the rest of the country and the world permission to look away. I am stunned that people don’t know how much worse it is in New Orleans today for our organization, for our members, for our community than it was even six months ago. When people ask, I have to tell them: It’s worse than you think. It’s not what people want to hear, but it’s the truth that isn’t being reported in the mainstream media, so I have to keep telling them. And every time, I draw on a renewed commitment on the part of Families and Friends of Louisiana's Incarcerated Children (FFLIC) [an organization dedicated to creating a better life for all of Louisiana’s youth] and many others in New Orleans and around the country to hold onto faith and to the knowledge that the spiritual and material power of people who believe in and work for justice will one day prevail -- and so we keep moving forward. Because it is always darkest before dawn and New Orleans, a year after Katrina, is due for the brightest of dawns.....(full article)

Snakes On a Plane, Bush in the White House
by Zbignew Zingh

I am more afraid of the reptiles in the Administration than anything Hollywood puts on an airplane. I mean, these are incredibly venomous, cold-blooded creepy-crawlies that are running the United States these days, and unlike a short flight from here to there where, a few hours after take off, you leave the plane at your destination, we are doomed in real life to travel with the Buskovites, like slave-rowers chained to the galley, for at least the next several years. The current hysteria regarding air travel doesn't faze me. I don't like to fly, anyway. It isn't the fear of “terrorists”......(full article)

The Prince of Darkness
by Walter A. Davis

Well I sure am glad I published my editorial on the Karr fiasco before Wednesday’s events. So that as prophet or moonlight gambler I could give you a “scoop” by telling ahead of time what the DNA would reveal. And as the lone honest reporter in this whole sorry mess, I could also tell you the facts that are known by all and that the official media could have presented were it not for the fact that they don’t give a rat’s ass about informing the public. After all, tabloid Amerika must be entertained. Continuing in a spirit of prophetic utterance, let me share with you a few predictions about the Spin that is going to be put on all of this. Oh, have no fear, heads are going to roll in the Boulder D.A.’s office and frauds like the journalism professor who concocted Karr are going to be exposed. But the grand architect of the whole thing is going to escape unscathed. Hell, he’ll be on Larry King, probably by tonight, proclaiming that this is another victory for the Ramseys.....(full article)

Winning the War on Terror
by Mickey Z.

The Bush Administration might have bungled the handling of Hurricane Katrina and may have been a tad off the mark in the whole WMD or the "Iraqis will greet us as liberators" deal, but -- contrary to popular belief -- Dubya's posse seems to have hit upon an ingenious strategy for emerging victorious in the much celebrated war on terror. President George W. Bush tells us, "You've just got to understand that the enemy hates us because of what we love. ...They hate everything about us because of our freedom." This is precisely where our fearless leader goes into hardcore cunning mode by implementing the authorizing and re-authorizing of a program of domestic spying.....
(full article)

Bush vs. Ahmadinejad: A TV Debate We’ll Never See
by Norman Solomon

When Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, invited President Bush to engage in a “direct television debate," the White House predictably responded by calling the offer “a diversion.” But even though this debate will never happen, it’s worth contemplating. Both presidents are propaganda junkies -- or, more precisely, propaganda pushers -- so any such debate would overdose the audience with self-righteous arrogance. The two presidents are too much alike. Each man, in his own way, is a fundamentalist: so sure of his own moral superiority that he’s willing to push his country into a military confrontation. This assessment may be a bit unfair to Ahmadinejad, who hasn’t yet lied his nation into war; the American president is far more experienced in that department......(full article)

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