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(DV) December 2006 Articles

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December 31 - January 1

Why Is HUD Using Tens of Millions of Katrina Money to Bulldoze
4,534 Public Housing Apartments in New Orleans When It Costs Less
to Repair and Open Them Up?  
by Bill Quigley

Gloria Williams and her twin sister Bobbie Jennings are 60 years old. They are two of the over 4,000 families who lived in public housing in New Orleans before Katrina struck who are still locked out of their apartments since Katrina. Their apartments are two of 4,534 apartments that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has announced plans to demolish. Demolition is planned even though it will cost more to demolish and rebuild many fewer units than it does to fix them up and open them. Ms. Williams and Ms. Jennings, and thousands of families like them, are fighting HUD, they want to return.....(full article

World Responds to Family's Jailing Despite Media Silence:
The Continuing Story of Ibrahim's Faith in America  
by Greg Moses

After a hectic day of child care and phone calls, Ahmad Ibrahim decided not to attempt a San Antonio protest on Friday. "I am very thankful for the support," said Ibrahim in a late-night email Thursday. "And I hope when this nightmare is over, the Hutto women's and children jail in Taylor, Texas will be shut down forever." The T. Don Hutto jail is where Ibrahim's three nieces, nephew, and pregnant sister-in-law have been held for alleged immigration violations since early November. Ibrahim's brother was separated from the rest of the family and placed at a jail in Haskell, Texas. Ibrahim had planned to protest the jailings in front of offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). The protest has been tentatively rescheduled for Tuesday, Jan. 2 at 10:30am.....(full article)

Executing Saddam, Protecting The Rackets 
by Manuel Garcia, Jr.

What does the execution of Saddam Hussein mean to the public? What has the execution of captured national leaders meant in the past? . . . . Saddam's execution was a triumphal ritual by US power against an occupied -- though still unconquered -- Iraqi people, it was the political decapitation of the former Iraqi elite, a demonstration intended to show Iraqi subjugation to Western power. But, the abysmal failure by the US managers of the Iraq War has undercut any propaganda value Saddam's execution might have had with the Iraqi public.....(full article)

Selective Justice and the Execution of Saddam Hussein 
by Gregory Elich

Hailed by President Bush as an act of “justice,” former Iraqi president Saddam Hussein was executed on the morning of December 30. Hussein’s trial, Bush averred, had been a “fair” one. Yet there was little that could be regarded as fair and legal about the proceedings. The court itself was established at the Bush Administration’s behest. US dollars financed the proceedings, and US officials provided aid, training and direct involvement. The trial was fraught with problems. Three of Hussein’s lawyers were murdered and many defense witnesses were intimidated into silence. The trial was a US-directed effort, intended to paint the occupation of Iraq in the best light. The US and British invasion had, we are reminded by Western officials, overthrown this particular tyrant. But tyrants, like war criminals, are in the eye of the beholder, and actions that might win praise and support for one man might be condemned for another. Saddam Hussein found himself on both sides of that equation at one time or another. How does it happen that a man can be regarded as a friend and ally one day, and an enemy the next? How is it that as praise fades away, that same man comes to deserve capture and death? Is it because his behavior has changed, or because there has been a transformation in perception? (full article)

Saddam Was Right and Bush Was Wrong 
by Michael Boldin

Think about it. It was the Bush administration and not Saddam that turned out to be lying about WMDs.  As we all know now, there weren't any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Amazingly enough, it was Saddam who was telling the truth from the very beginning. Bush was the one who lied to the whole world. You may remember that in 2002, the UN Security Council ordered Iraq to put together a report detailing the entirety of its biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs. In response, Iraqi officials compiled an 11,800-page report on the past and present status of Iraq's weapons programs. From that report we learned (from the Iraqis) that Iraq once had both chemical and biological weapons, as well as a program to develop nuclear weapons. We also learned that Iraq acquired biological and chemical weapons from the US, and Iraqi nuclear scientists were trained at US government nuclear facilities. Most importantly, though, the Iraqis told us that some of the weapons and nuclear facilities were destroyed in the first Gulf War, and the rest were destroyed under the supervision of UN weapons inspectors. All of this turned out to be true.....(full article)

Dictator Hangs to the Warm Applause of Sycophants 
by Nathaniel Mehr

Congratulations America. The UK and international press is today reporting the execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein with an affected solemnity which seems to say, "Alas, it is sad that it has come to this, but this is how it had to end." This approach is perhaps best summed up by the BBC's John Simpson, who confines criticism of the show trial which preceded the execution to the following extraordinary understatement: "It proved to be divisive, and certainly did not receive international approval," before reassuring the reader, in his usual inappropriate verboseness, that "These things will certainly continue to affect the way the world will see Saddam's death. But now that he has finally been swept off the political chessboard, the Iraqi government hopes that 2007 will be a better year as a result." The use of the "chessboard" analogy is appropriate enough in that it potentially provides an unintended insight into the mindset of the reporter himself, and his sympathy with the invading power -- perhaps he sees the Iraq situation as a game of chess in which all the key actors need to be physically removed in order to achieve complete conquest.....(full article)

A Dance of Death: The Hanging of Saddam Hussein 
by Jack Random

An American in the French Assembly before the Revolution became the Reign of Terror, spoke out against the execution of the royal monarch of France. Those who knew him were not surprised at his courage, conviction and strength of character. It was not a popular stance and he was no friend to the monarchy. He was in fact its greatest foe yet his principled position landed him in the Bastille and very nearly cost his life. His name was Tom Paine, without whom it is unlikely that the great experiment we call democracy would ever have been launched on the American continent. Saddam Hussein was hanged until the spark of life drained from his flailing limbs. It is not politically astute to defend the fallen dictator any more than it was for Paine to plea for the life of the French monarch, yet there are occasions when principle must speak. I am no more sympathetic to tyranny, despotism, oppression, brutality or crimes against humanity than Paine was to the monarchy, yet I felt only shame in observing the morbid dance of death surrounding the execution of Saddam.....(full article)

Americans Want a Rapid Exit from Iraq but Elected Leaders
aren't Even Considering It  
by Kevin Zeese

Ending the occupation will reduce violence, immediately save more than $100 billion and respect the wishes of the American people. Why is Washington, DC ignoring the obvious? (full article)

Eliot Spitzer's Constitutional Hang-up 
by Joshua Frank

New York will soon be inaugurating a new governor and many liberals here and across the country are excited about the prospect of having a celebrated K Street watchdog scale the ranks of the Democratic Party. Voters ushered Spitzer into office in unprecedented fashion last November, with almost 70% casting their vote for his sweeping crusade. Spitzer, like young Barack Obama, is often seen as the face of a new, invigorated Democratic Party -- one that isn't afraid to shine its progressive credentials. Eliot Spitzer, unfortunately, is anything but progressive. In many ways he is not even a reformer.....(full article)

The Sexual Schizophrenia of Celebrity Culture 
by Gregory Stephens

Commercial culture in the United States is schizophrenic towards young women. We buy and sell the myth that young women should be like “Miss America” -- paragons of virtue and walking advertisements for abstinence. Yet the culture teaches young women to present themselves as sex objects. Many celebrities are boozing, abusing drugs, and sleeping around. So it should not surprise us when our Miss Americas “go wild” and “do anything to climb the ladder of success.” I didn’t have to look far for insight into the mixed messages bombarding gals today. I’m the single father of a pre-teen drama queen, Sela, who will soon turn 13, and who lives with me here in Jamaica. So when Sela proudly showed me the video of Beyoncé’s “Sexuality,” which she found on YouTube, or came home from a birthday party singing “I’m gonna get you drunk . . . on my love humps,” I tuned in.....(full article)

Minding the Crowd 
by Lila Rajiva

Can a crowd ever be wise or good? There seems to be no folly however mad, no crime, however savage, that a mob of men goaded by passion cannot commit. When they are thrown into the company of legions of their fellow men, some chemistry turns humans who are individually of irreproachable integrity and unimpeachable prudence, into stark raving blockheads. That this is sometimes called democracy does not improve matters. But if we did not have the tyranny of the majority, say the collectivists anxiously, would we not end up only with the tyranny of the minority? If we reject democracy, won't we end up with plutocracy?
(full article)

The Sigh of the Oppressed: Abraham and His Progeny 
by Ron Jacobs

As mostly secular people, it is often hard to get around the religious nature of the resistance groups in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine and elsewhere in the so-called Muslim world. But, religion is a very real aspect of human existence, so we have to appreciate that and respect it. And deal with it. Marx said it was the opiate, but that wasn't all he said: "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people." In other words, religion is a source of hope for those who have no hope. It is this aspect of religious belief that does a lot to explain why religion is not only a factor in today's world, but an incredibly popular phenomenon. Precisely because there is so little hope in terms of politics, the most oppressed have turned to religion in all its forms.....(full article)

Olmert and Abbas “Push the Wedge” in Palestine
by James Brooks

The recent "peace" overtures between Israeli Prime Minister Olmert and Palestinian Authority President Abbas do not promise significantly improved conditions for Palestinians or an end to the Israeli occupation. More likely results include intensified efforts to split the Palestinian public and undermine their legally elected government. The meeting has been portrayed as an opening to relations between Israel and the PA that "boost Abbas" and exclude Hamas altogether. Olmert, Abbas, and their backers in Washington and Europe have insisted that Hamas, the popularly elected majority party, "renounce violence" and "recognize Israel's right to exist." These are the stated objectives of the crushing economic blockade that Israel and the western powers have enforced against occupied Palestine since last March.....(full article)

Impeachment: A Note of Caution 
by Joel Wendland

The impeachment of President Bush has become an important issue. For some people on the left impeachment has even become a litmus test for the "true" progressive. For example, I recently received an e-mail from a reader apparently with such a viewpoint. (I won't bait the person by naming him or her, but he or she claimed ties to the Democratic Party machine in Minnesota.) This person responded to an article I wrote about a public forum in Detroit at which Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) spoke about a "people's agenda" for the new Congress. In my article, I reported that Rep. Conyers said, among many things, that while his committee and the Democrats would hold numerous hearings on Bush's policies (from the war to corruption and attacks on civil liberties), he regards introducing articles of impeachment as off agenda when Congress returns in January. Conyers urged the people present to help Congress expose the truth about Bush, and said that in order for impeachment to be successful it must have broader public support and bipartisanship in Congress.....(full article)

A New Year's Resolution for ALL Presidential Candidates 
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

No matter how awful you think our government and political system have become, odds are you do not know about this travesty of justice, an incredible failure to honor our fabled Constitution. This failure has removed the sovereignty of we the people, and made Congress much more powerful than it should be. Let me acknowledge that even though I have been pegged as "Democracy's Mr. Fix It," until recently I too was ignorant about this blatant disregard for a key part of our Constitution.....(full article)

Jimmy the Blurter 
by J.A. Miller

Jimmy Carter has long cultivated an irritating public persona of the sanctimonious-yet-humble parson. Almost thirty years to the day after he famously owned up to the inner workings of his lustful heart, Carter has blurted out something far more significant and in the process has thrown a welcome shaft of light -- albeit a tiny one -- on the dirtiest secret in the West: that the long and deafening western silence that has greeted Zionist crimes in Palestine is caused by an overwhelming religious bias for Israel among American Protestants.....(full article)

A Visit in Prison with Ernst Zuendel 
by Daniel McGowan

During the recent conference in Iran (Review of the Holocaust: Global Vision) I was in prison in Mannheim, Germany interviewing Ernst Zuendel. Labeled a "Holocaust denier," Ernst has been in jail for almost four years without being charged with a violent crime or without even being convicted of a non-violent one. He is 67 years old.....(full article)

Blair's History of Mendacity 
by Simon Mars

Just when you run out of ways to despise Tony Blair he comes up with a new one. I'm not talking about his pathetic penchant for freebie holidays. I couldn't care less where he takes his holidays; what I do care about is his habitual lying....(full article)

December 28

Listening to Iraqi's Raises Questions About Basic Issues:
Is There a Sunni Majority? 
by Dal LaMagna and Faruq Ziada

If you follow the sectarian and political situation in Iraq you've heard about the 80% solution. Robin Wright explains it in her December 1, 2006 Washington Post article: "U.S. Considers Ending Outreach to Insurgents." She explains that since the Sunnis represent only 20% of the 26 million Iraqis, the US administration is considering "abandoning reconciliation efforts with Sunni insurgents and instead giv[ing] priority to Shiites and Kurds, who won elections and now dominate the government." (Note: According to many, the Shiites and Kurds represent 80% of the Iraq population.) Helene Cooper, in the December 17, 2006  New York Times' Week in Review's lead story, "The Whispers and the Why Nots," reports that "Washington should stop trying to get Sunnis and Shiites to get along and instead just back the Shiites, since there are more of them anyway and they likely to win in a fight to the death.  After all, the proposal goes; Iraq is 65% Shiite and only 20% Sunni. The other 15% are the Kurds." But, hey wait a minute! Not everyone agrees with these numbers, particularly the Sunnis who feel they have been under-counted.....(full article)

The Empire and Inequality Report
: Missions Accomplished
by Paul Street

For all their legendary incompetence, Cheney and Bush have accomplished real and big missions for the people that George W. Bush once half-jokingly referred to as “my base”: the super-rich. The Bubble-Boy-King may well go down as the Worst President Ever. But let’s not fool ourselves about who policy really serves in our corporate-plutocratic “dollar democracy.” Bush and his handlers have been quite successful for those they actually represent -- the privileged few -- in numerous ways. They have quite competently enhanced the upward distribution of wealth and income (while calling for national sacrifice in their state-terrorist “war on terror”) in what was already the industrialized world’s most unequal and wealth-top-heavy society by far. They have rolled back labor and environmental protections and speeded up the deepening global warming catastrophe.....(full article

Preempting Arab Mediation in Palestinian Divide 
by Nicola Nasser

The US administration and Israel are accelerating their coordinated meddling in the internal Palestinian divide between the Fatah-led presidency and the Hamas-led government to preempt a series of Arab mediation efforts, the latest of which is a UAE-Syrian try according to a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). The PLO official, who preferred to remain anonymous, said that President Mahmoud Abbas authorized the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to negotiate with Syria on behalf of Hamas, whose politburo chairman, Khaled Misha’al, is based in Damascus, a draft for forming a Palestinian national unity government on the basis of the national consensus document (the prisoners’ document), recognizing the PLO by Hamas, and respecting the accords signed by the PLO with Israel. However the undeclared UAE-Syrian effort-in-the-offing seems to have been overtaken by the latest Israeli-US moves to foil Arab mediation. Faced practically with choosing between national unity and lifting the Israeli-US siege, the PLO leadership has opted to give priority to the second option, a choice that led it to voluntarily accept bypassing the Palestinian government by visiting western leaders and diplomats, to turn a blind eye to the western diplomatic boycott imposed on this government and to receive selective “humanitarian aid” through the PA presidency.....(full article)

December 27

Respect Must Be Paid: Farewell Mr. Brown 
by Alexander Billet

What can possibly be said about the loss of James Brown? A career spanning half a century, and an influence without which pop music would not be what it is today. Soul, R&B, rock, disco, hip-hop, all feel the void that Mr. Brown left. His contribution to music was iconic and revolutionary.....(full article)

The Evil of Collaboration 
by Kim Petersen

Collaboration in a certain context epitomizes progressivism: people working together for the greater good. Collaboration, however, also has a dark side that is anathema to progressivist tenets: working against one's own society. In other words: treason and sedition. In western society, those collaborating with the enemy were condemned as traitors. In Europe, the surname of Vitus Quisling, a Norwegian who collaborated with the Nazi occupation of Norway has come to mean "traitor" in much the same way as dual loyalist Benedict Arnold's name means "traitor" in American society. There are two major contenders in the Middle East for eponymous recognition as traitors: Lebanon's prime minister, Fouad Siniora, and Palestine's president, Mahmoud Abbas, are willing to sell out their kinsfolk to Zionists and imperialists.....
(full article)

Announcing the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006 
by Norman Solomon

Competition has been fierce for the fifteenth annual P.U.-litzer Prizes. Many can plausibly lay claim to stinky media performances, but only a few can win a P.U.-litzer. As the judges for this un-coveted award, Jeff Cohen and I have deliberated with due care. (Jeff is the founder of the media watch group FAIR and author of the superb new book Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media.) And now, the winners of the P.U.-litzer Prizes for 2006......(full article)

Bush, Baker and Canute
Baker Talks to W -- In Private
by John V. Walsh

John Walsh presents a hypothetical private conversation between President Bush and James Baker on Iraq.....(full transcript)

Paxil Birth Defect Litigation -- Battle of the Decade 
by Evelyn J. Pringle

A year ago, the FDA reclassified Paxil from a Category C drug to a Category D for pregnant women. Category C is for drugs that have been shown to harm the fetus in animals. Category D means a drug has been found to harm the human fetus. In a December 1, 2006 news release, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Obstetric Practice advised that Paxil should be avoided "by pregnant women or women planning to become pregnant due to the potential risk of fetal heart defects, newborn persistent pulmonary hypertension, and other negative effects." An interesting comment in the announcement states: "Unpublished data regarding the use of Paxil® during the first trimester of pregnancy have raised concerns about an increased risk of congenital heart malformations." This discussion begs the question of exactly how much more "unpublished data" is out there about the dangers of Paxil that the public will hear about later, rather than sooner.....(full article)

Washington’s Game in Turkmenistan
by Mike Whitney

Did Turkmenistan’s President Saparmurat Niyazov really die of cardiac arrest or is he just latest victim of Bush’s “regime change” epidemic? That may sound paranoid, but it’s easy to be skeptical of an administration that openly promotes torture, “extraordinary rendition” and “targeted assassination” as sound foreign policy. These practices indicate that moral restraint is not high on the list of Bush priorities. Besides, Niyazov met all the criteria for regime change: he controlled massive natural gas reserves and he refused to take orders directly from Washington. Typically, these are the only factors which matter when Bush decides which leader is next on his “hit list.”.....(full article)

December 25

-- R.I.P. James Brown (1933-2006) --

The Gilded Folly of This Land 
by Chohong Choi

The fact that stores are now open on even the biggest holidays of the year sounds rather scroogy of them. It seems they expect to wring every last drop of effort from their “associates,” even though Americans already work the longest hours in the West and generate one of the highest rates of productivity anywhere. Even if some of their employees are willing to work on a holiday for extra pay, these multi-billion dollar businesses would have been real Samaritans had they let all their employees take off with holiday pay. Shoppers will understand, and they will still be there on the other days, just as they were when stores used to be closed on Sundays. Here are a few questions for everyone. How many of you have kept all the gifts you received or bought for yourselves last Christmas? Of those gifts that you have kept, how many of them are you using regularly, and how many have you allowed to collect dust or stowed away someplace you do not check very often? Yet, the cycle repeats every year. People max out on their credit cards and savings to buy things they or their intended beneficiaries probably do not need. I was guilty of this practice too, and like everyone else, I found it a chore to decide what to buy for whom. It is no fun taking a trip to the mall and navigating the crowded corridors looking for the “hot” item that happens to be on the shopping lists of five million other people. Lugging around those shopping bags full of stuff is cumbersome, even if you have a car, and those with cars have to navigate the parking lots for spaces. Even online shopping is not totally immune to this mess because the huge volume of holiday mail traffic leads to inevitable delays, and there are still the bulky gifts to carry to their destinations.  Come December 26, and the stores are again teeming with people -- some of whom are looking for after holiday bargains, and some who are unhappy with their Christmas gifts and want to return them. That seems to be the spirit of Christmas nowadays.....
(full article)

Jimmy Carter's Glossary 
by Joe Mowrey

No, I haven't read THE book, Jimmy Carter's Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid. And I may not read it anytime soon. I was a commercial printer and book publisher for 25 years. I experienced firsthand what the megalopolis of national and international publishing has become and what it has done to the world of publishing. So I've acquired a certain aversion to dropping $27 for a hard cover book into the corporate coffers. I'll either pick it up at a used book store someday, borrow it from a friend, or wait until it comes out in paperback. But in response to interviews with Jimmy Carter I have heard, as well as his recent article in the Los Angeles Times, I take exception to some of his assertions regarding Israel and Palestine. First things first. Let's consider the source. Often touted by progressives as one of our best Presidents ever, Jimmy Carter has been given a free pass for the egregious international behaviors of his administration. Though he has redeemed himself to a certain extent through his humanitarian efforts since retiring from public life, he still has a great deal of amends to make for his foreign policy initiatives while in office. The United States is an imperialist nation. Our presidents are instruments of that paradigm. But some of them have been more reckless than others......(full article)

Why Condemning Israel and the Zionist Lobby is So Important 
by James Petras

Many Jewish writers, including those who are somewhat critical of Israel, have raised pointed questions about our critique of the Zionist power configuration (ZPC) in the United States and what they wrongly claim are our singular harsh critique of the state of Israel. Some of these accusers claim to see signs of 'latent anti-Semitism,' others, of a more 'leftist' coloration, deny the influential role of the ZPC arguing that US foreign policy is a product of 'geo-politics or the interests of big oil. With the recent publication of several widely circulated texts, highly critical of the power of the Zionist 'lobby', several liberal pro-Israel publicists generously conceded that it is a topic that should be debated (and not automatically stigmatized and dismissed) and perhaps be 'taken into account.'.....(full article)

An “Islamic Civil War” 
by M. Shahid Alam

The war that Western powers -- primarily US, Israel and Britain -- began against the Islamic world after September 11, 2001, is about to enter a new more dangerous phase as their early plans for ‘changing the map of the Middle East’ have begun to unravel with unintended consequences. Codenamed ‘the war against terror,’ the imperialist war against the Middle East was fueled primarily by US and Israeli ambitions. Britain’s participation is mostly a sideshow. The US and Israel have convergent aims in the region. The US seeks to deepen its control over the region’s oil. Israel wants to create regional conditions that will allow it to complete the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. As a first step, both objectives would be served by removing four regimes -- in Iran, Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan -- that still resisted US and Israeli ambitions in the region. Once these regimes had been removed, the US and Israel would carry the war into Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, to dismember them into smaller, weaker client states.....(full article)

How Breaches in the US Nuclear-Weapons Program Endanger You 
by Heather Wokusch

Last week, the watchdog Project on Government Oversight reported that workers at Pantex, a Texan nuclear-weapons plant, had almost accidentally detonated a W56 warhead in the spring of 2005. A W56 has 100 times the Hiroshima bomb's yield. A similar incident occurred there in 2004 when workers discovered a crack in a W56 warhead; they ended up patching it together using "the equivalent of duct tape." BWXT, the Texan plant operator, paid safety-violation fines totaling less than $125,000 in each case. Unfortunately, the sloppiness and lack of oversight demonstrated at Pantex characterize the running of many US nuclear-weapons facilities.....(full article)

Chile: The Ghosts of Torture 
by Tito Tricot

The night became darker that precise moment when the room exploded into a thousand sparks that burnt your flesh, making your bones and your fragile certainties shudder. For being there, naked and blindfolded, at their mercy, there were neither smiles nor turquoise oceans, nor carnations or pink sunsets. All of a sudden life had become only a frail instant suspended in a thick and desperate breath of air, mercilessly pierced by electricity. The world was painfully reduced to that tiny space between our eyes and that filthy blindfold, a permanent reminder that our world was shattered early one cloudy morning when the Chilean military took over power and did what the military do: kill. And kill they did, but also arrest and torture myriads of men and women whose only crime was to think differently. Thinking became dangerous to this modern age inquisition that allowed no criticisms and declared the obsolescence of happiness. But brave and stubborn people decided to think and smile and even try to be happy amidst all the horror around them. We were convinced that life could conquer death. Besides, many of us could not really believe what we heard from friends or what was being talked about in the streets, for, how could human beings commit such atrocities? How was it possible that something like this was happening in Chile? Where did the snowcapped mountains go, the beautiful rainforests, our kindness and solidarity? (full article)

Court Allows Eli Lilly To Bury Zyprexa Documents 
by Evelyn Pringle

Alaskan attorney Jim Gottstein says that after being served with a mandatory injunction, he has returned the internal Eli Lilly documents that he obtained in litigation and provided to the New York Times to the court. Information from the documents related to Lilly's antipsychotic drug Zyprexa was highlighted two days in a row in front-page articles in the Times. The documents reveal the illegal marketing schemes used by Lilly to make Zyprexa its best seller, which the company has managed to keep hidden for years by entering into out of court settlements in civil lawsuits which included confidentiality clauses and by getting judges to place the documents under protective orders to shield them from public view.....(full article)

Put on the Spot, Our Punk President Lies Yet Again 
by Walter C. Uhler

Whenever I hear President Bush tell another lie (or read that he has told another lie) I'm reminded of the Liar-in-Chief's former professor at the Harvard Business School, Yoshi Tsurumi, and his spot-on recollection of this president's punk past. According to Professor Tsurumi, Bush "showed pathological lying habits and was in denial when challenged on his prejudices and biases. He would even deny saying something he just said 30 seconds ago. He was famous for that. Students jumped on him; I challenged him." (Mary Jacoby, "The Dunce,", 16 September 2004) Tsurumi concluded: "Behind his smile and his smirk, he was a very insecure, cunning and vengeful guy." "He was just badly brought up, with no discipline, and no compassion." [Ibid] In conservative Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where I grew up during the 1950s and 1960s, such people were called "punks." Perhaps, it's fair to say that the world would be a much better and safer place if America's mainstream news media had challenged Bush as much as Professor Tsurumi and his classmates did. Alas, it let the punk candidate slide during his first run for president, notwithstanding such smug and asinine assertions as: "I may not know where Kosovo is, but I know what I believe."....(full article)

Cop Assaults Activist at Lockheed Martin Protest 
by William Hughes

Protest action was held in Montgomery County, Maryland on Friday morning, Dec. 22, 2006, in front of and along the sidewalk of a huge complex of office buildings, housing the national headquarters of Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest producers of cluster bombs. Over a million of these lethal weapons were used by the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) in the recent war this past summer in Lebanon. As activist Patrick J. Elder began to give a talk about the corporation's role in the making and distribution of the deadly cluster bombs, he was interrupted by a group of three or four Montgomery County, MD police officers. They were yelling at him to "get off the grass." Elder, who was standing next to Gail Murphy, of the Code Pink group, immediately complied with the officer's request. While Elder was standing on the sidewalk discussing the need for such a hostile attitude by the police, one of the officers walked directly up to him and in a very aggressive manner pushed him hard with both of his arms to the ground. Mr. Elder fell over on his back. Although he didn't appear to be injured, he was visibly upset by the unprovoked attack. Ms. Murphy quickly rebuked the officer in question for his over-the-top behavior, as did Kevin Zeese of DemocracyRising.US. Mr. Elder, it is fair to say, was both shocked and outraged by the officer's conduct. He indicated that he wasn't going to file a criminal charges against the assaulting office, but that he might file a complaint with the Montgomery County police department over the totally unnecessary incident. Mr. Elder, and some of the other more than 35 protesters, did let both the officer involved and his supervisor, who showed up later, know that he "needs training." Mr. Elder added: "We're not disturbing the peace. We're disturbing the war!"......
(full article)

Capitol Protest: Peace Activists Demand That Schwarzenegger
Bring CA Guard Back From Iraq  
by Dan Bacher

The Sacramento Catholic Worker House, Grandmothers for Peace and other local peace activists held a rally and march in Sacramento on Friday, December 15 demanding that the California National Guard be withdrawn from Iraq immediately. After rallying briefly at the Peace Garden at the State Capitol, ten anti-war activists then marched to the Governor's Office to request a meeting with Arnold Schwarzenegger. Before going through security, California Highway Patrol Officers forced the activists to leave their signs behind, since under the current rules, no signs are allowed in the State Capitol. The organizers presented a letter to the Governor's staff, signed by the protesters and other supporters, demanding that he ask Bush to bring the troops home from Iraq. However, the staff directed the activists to present the petition to the mailroom -- and they refused to comment on the letter or the issue.....(full article)

Why This War Cannot be a Failure: Dropping the F-word
on the Endless War in Iraq 
by Greg Moses

Failure is an f-word obscenity that we need to stop using when it comes to the USA-led invasion and occupation of Iraq. How can something be a failure when it has no purpose to begin with? In fact, the Iraq war is endless, because it seeks a purpose still.....(full article)

December 21

Bush Developing Illegal Bioterror Weapons for Offensive Use 
by Sherwood Ross

In violation of the U.S. Code and international law, the Bush administration is spending more money (in inflation-adjusted dollars) to develop illegal, offensive germ warfare than the $2 billion spent in World War II on the Manhattan Project to make the atomic bomb. So says Francis Boyle, the professor of international law who drafted the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989 enacted by Congress. He states the Pentagon "is now gearing up to fight and 'win' biological warfare" pursuant to two Bush national strategy directives adopted "without public knowledge and review" in 2002. The Pentagon's Chemical and Biological Defense Program was revised in 2003 to implement those directives, endorsing "first-use" strike of chemical and biological weapons (CBW) in war, says Boyle, who teaches at the University of Illinois, Champaign. Terming the action "the proverbial smoking gun," Boyle said the mission of the controversial CBW program "has been altered to permit development of offensive capability in chemical and biological weapons!".....(full article)

The Decider Can't Decide 
by Kevin Zeese

George Bush, a.k.a. the Decider, seems to be struggling with what to do with in Iraq.  He can't decide.  He was supposed to announce his decision on a "new way forward" last week.  But, he put it off.  Late last week the indications were that he was going to increase the troops in Iraq -- a surge of 20,000 to 30,000 additional troops -- in an effort to get control of Baghdad and then move on to other areas of Iraq.  But then The Washington Post reported that the Joint Chief of Staff unanimously opposes additional troops. What is the decider to do? (full article)

A Complicated Kindness: Vancouver's Heroin Prescription Trial
Raises Research Ethics Concerns 
by Am Johal

Though North America's first heroin prescription trial is being described as successful in its early stages, it is being plagued with ethics questions regarding its research design and manner in which addicts are leaving the study.....(full article)

More Cannon Fodder? 
by Murray Polner 

“To many politicians,” once explained Rep. Ron Paul, the Republican Texan libertarian congressional loner, "the American government is America," thus explaining why every war or national "emergency" creates a national fervor for a draft. "Conscription is wrongly associated with patriotism," said Paul after Rep. Charles Rangel tried recently to reintroduce a draft, "when really it represents collectivism and involuntary servitude." For whatever reasons, including opposition to the Iraq death trap, most Americans have for now turned against a draft and its illegitimate child, compulsory national service for all eighteen year olds (girls and gays too?) which Gold correctly described in a 2004 article in Washington Law & Politics as a "kind of allegedly desirable work done via the creation of a monstrous new teenager-herding bureaucracy.".....(full article)

More Troops for Iraq
Deep Tooth: A Mol(ar) in the White House

by Zbignew Zingh

It was one of those flukey things that we've all experienced at some point in our lives. While lying in bed last night, one of the fillings in my teeth started to receive radio transmissions that reverberated inside my skull. If I turned my head in the direction of Washington D.C., I seemed to be tuned into one of President Nixon's covert listening devices in the Oval Office that, somehow, the Secret Service had failed to remove. Incredibly, Nixon's secret little bug was still transmitting after all these years, and I heard these voices talking about foreign policy in the White House....(full article)

Today's Emotionalism a Disservice to Political Process  
by Don Monkerud

The TV show West Wing provided ordinary people with an emotional look behind the scenes in the White House, complete with political manipulations, personal drama and a sense of being in the center of political history. While conservatives lack their own TV drama, they have reactionaries such as Bill O'Reilly, Ollie North and Rush Limbaugh to play on their emotions and provoke them to anger. Political anger, campaigns, lobbying and elections are, of course, hallmarks of democracy and today's "cultural war" spurs more of the electorate into taking part in the political process. No doubt, such urgency provides some with a sense of purpose, but it can also lead to an overblown sense of self-importance and promote an emotionalism that is a disservice to the political process. Emotional responses polarize the electorate and lead to stalemates.....(full article)

-- Exchange --

Exchange in Response to Michael Neumann's Article,
"Dumping on Ahmet"

by Fred Wilhelms, Dave Marsh and Michael Neumann

(Letter from Fred Wilhelms): Michael Neumann has grossly misrepresented both the facts and the intent of my anecdote regarding Ahmet Ertegun. I am writing to counter the second-rate hatchet job that appeared under his byline on your website. You have to really wonder how accurate Professor Neumann's criticism of my comments is when he repeatedly misstates the facts of the story itself. That displays an almost tragic lack of attention, as if he was intent on making some point regardless of what actually happened. Follow the link he provides. See if he's got it straight. Figure out for yourself what that should tell you about the rest of his article.....(full exchange)

December 19

Expanding Markets and Dying Oceans:
Eating the Planet Like a Bag of Doritos for Jesus 
by Phil Rockstroh

It has been reported that George W. Bush is counting on the judgment of history to redeem the perception that he has been at the helm of a failed presidency. This notion is as muttering-at-the-wallpaper crazy as had Jeffery Dahmer, before his murder, been expecting gourmet chefs to someday champion his culinary choices. In the present day United States, our insulated leaders (who merely reflect the insularity of the daily lives of the nation's people) have shunned reality to such a degree, one would think that they spend their time writing wishful letters to Santa Claus instead of creating policy and law. There's a well-known witticism from the 1980s about Ronald Reagan that played off a ubiquitous television commercial of the time that went, "Ronald Reagan is not the president: He just plays one on TV." A similar trope can be said of the present day United States. We're no longer an empire: We just resemble one on TV. How did it come to be that our ability to apprehend reality is in such short supply, at a time when the consequences of such dangerous folly will prove so tragic and lasting?
(full article)

Globalized Gulag: Palestinian Refugees and Children Held at Hutto Jail 
by Greg Moses

Some of the children and a pregnant woman being held in an immigration jail in Texas are Palestinian refugees whose families came to the USA with visas, says a Dallas lawyer. Immigration attorney John Wheat Gibson represents two families that include a pregnant woman and children ages 2, 3, 5, 12, 14, and 17. The families have been incarcerated since their midnight arrests in early November by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). "The children, imprisoned with their mothers, have never been accused of any wrongdoing. Neither have their mothers," says Gibson. "All are Palestinian refugees who entered the U.S. legally, but have been denied asylum." The fathers were separated from their families, the two-year-old was placed into foster care, and the remaining women and children were sent to the privatized Hutto jail in Taylor, Texas. The education of the school-aged children has been interrupted. In an affidavit supplied by Gibson, one of the fathers, Adel Said Suleiman, says that he was identified as a refugee by the United Nations before coming to the USA in 1995. He claims that his immigration status has been mishandled by others, but that he has never been accused of any crimes or wrongdoings.....(full article)

Do America and Israel Want the Middle East Engulfed by Civil War? 
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The era of the Middle East strongman, propped up by and enforcing Western policy, appears well and truly over. His power is being replaced with rule by civil war, apparently now the American Administration’s favored model across the region. Fratricidal fighting is threatening to engulf, or already engulfing, the occupied Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Iraq. Both Syria and Iran could soon be next, torn apart by attacks Israel is reportedly planning on behalf of the US. The reverberations would likely consume the region. Western politicians like to portray civil war as a consequence of the West’s failure to intervene more effectively in the Middle East. Were we more engaged in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, or more aggressive in opposing Syrian manipulations in Lebanon, or more hands-on in Iraq, the sectarian fighting could be prevented. The implication being, of course, that, without the West’s benevolent guidance, Arab societies are incapable of dragging themselves out of their primal state of barbarity. But in fact, each of these breakdowns of social order appears to have been engineered either by the United States or by Israel. In Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq, sectarian difference is less important than a clash of political ideologies and interests as rival factions disagree about whether to submit to, or resist, American and Israeli interference. Where the factions derive their funding and legitimacy from -- increasingly a choice between the US or Iran -- seems to determine where they stand in this confrontation....(full article)

Zionists Lay the Groundwork for a Military Strike Against Iran 
by Kim Petersen

“Jewish leaders” have latched onto the wiry figure of beleaguered Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the latest straw man for the crimes of zionism. Meeting in New York, "Jewish leaders" declared their intention to bring Ahmadinejad to trial for inciting genocide. The case against Ahmadinejad is based upon the regurgitated canard that he had called for "wiping Israel off the map." Second, is the absurd complaint that Ahmadinejad is a holocaust-denier, as if denying or questioning history should be a crime. The forced acceptance of an "official" history of the World War II Holocaust is paradigmatically similar to the compelling of Winston Smith (in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four) to believe that "2+2=5." Third, is Iran's alleged pursuit of nuclear and ballistic missile capacity. So far, Iran's pursuit of nuclear technology has been within the parameters of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Israel, however, arrogantly grants itself the right to actions and attempts to deny the same right to others. Logically, if Iran is guilty of inciting genocide for pursuing nuclear and ballistic missile technology, then Israel must be guilty of the same, or worse, since it has already attained both nuclear and ballistic missile technology. Besides, even if Iran were inciting genocide, and as wicked as this would be, it pales in comparison to the malevolence of the actual perpetration of genocide, of which the Israeli regime is guilty among other crimes. But these are not stupid "Jewish leaders," so a question arises: what do these leaders really intend to accomplish with their fraud? (full article)

The US and Latin America: Overview for 2006, Perspectives for 2007 
by James Petras

Both in the United States, Latin America and in the world at large, profound and deepening divisions are driving policy and provoking increasing conflicts. The lines of division in the United States on the fundamental questions of confrontation or negotiation in the Middle East and Latin America cut across the two major parties, and the liberal-conservative spectrum. On the one side the White House, backed by pro-war Democrats, Republicans, the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations, right-wing veteran groups and neo-conservative intellectuals and the majority of the corporate mass media. On the other side, minorities in the major parties and mass media, the majority of public opinion, sectors of the active and retired military officers, establishment intellectual and prominent political critics of the Zionist lobby and war policies like Brzezinski, James Carter, James Baker among others.  Similar divisions appear with regard to Latin American policy. The White House, backed by the Cuban (exile) lobby, the Pentagon and a minority of right-wing ideologues and business groups favor forceful pressure and intervention against Cuba, Venezuela and Bolivia and support of illegitimate President Calderon, the Santa Cruz separatists in Bolivia and other authoritarian extremists in the region. In varying degrees of opposition, stand liberal and conservative congress-members backed by agro-business exporters, tourists agencies, a majority of public opinion and sectors of the State Department headed by Undersecretary for Latin American Affairs, Shannon, who support greater emphasis on diplomacy, negotiations and a ‘two-track’ approach.....(full article)

Dumping on Ahmet 
by Michael Neumann

Reading Fred Wilhelms' poisonous goodbye to Ahmet Ertegun, it came to me. There is something more here than a Nashville royalties lawyer putting in the boot. Wilhelms has a nice story about him and Sam Moore (of Sam and Dave) and Ahmet and how he, Wilhelms, had a good laugh with Sam Moore about how Ahmet had bought his fancy shoes by ripping off Sam and how Ahmet didn't get it. I got it, though: Wilhelms is just so DOWN with those black folks. The story was lame, though, because the Erteguns were wealthy before Ahmet ever got into the music business, so he didn't have to rip off Sam Moore to get those shoes. On the other hand, you might wonder what kind of shoes Wilhelms could buy with the money he makes defending Artists Who Have Been Unjustly Denied Their Royalties. Not that, having cut himself some nice turf in the unjustly-denied-royalties biz, he would ever be anywhere but on the side of the angels. The absolute worst thing Google can find out about him is that he's got Bob Dylan on his wish list at Amazon, which I suppose most aging yuppies do. (He's also got Solomon Burke, who spoke of Ahmet with generous affection on my radio last night.)......
(full article)

Class War Weapon of Choice: For the Holidays and All Days 
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Any regular person who does not understand that Americans are in a class war is out of touch with our economic reality. Rich and powerful elites that are running and ruining our country have the upper hand. Wiping out the middle class to create a two-class society nationally and globally suits them. The Upper Class can steer most wealth to themselves and spread a small amount around to keep the Lower Class content enough not to revolt. Ordinary people have a powerful weapon to fight their oppressors, yet have not yet used it. It is their money, more specifically their discretionary consumer spending. The reasons for not controlling and politicizing their spending merit examination. Time is running out to understand why millions of supposedly rational people spend themselves into economic slavery....
(full article)

New Reports of Abu-Jamal Confession After 25 years 
by Hans Bennett

. . . While these two news pieces were important, perhaps the most shocking story to emerge amidst the flurry of news stories published last week was a Dec. 8 NBC 10 story reporting that two more people now say that they heard Abu-Jamal confess at the hospital before treatment for his gunshot wound. NBC 10 reports that on Dec. 9, 1981 William Colarulo (now a Chief Inspector for the Philadelphia police) was a "rookie cop assigned to guard the door to the emergency room." Colarulo told NBC 10 that after Abu-Jamal arrived at the hospital, he confessed to his then partner Tom Brady. "He said to my partner something to the effect, 'I'm glad I shot the M-F'. That's what my partner said (Abu-Jamal) told him," said Colarulo. The second new account from that morning comes from Kathleen Gerrow. Now an executive producer at NBC 10, Gerrow was a radio reporter in 1981 covering the story at the hospital. "I distinctly remember a very distinctive voice shouting, 'I shot the mother f----er, I shot the mother f----er," said Gerrow. Pam Africa argues that these two new accounts show that the pro-execution lobby "is getting desperate. While these new accounts are supposed to strengthen the case against Mumia, it actually further exposes the confession story for what it is: a fraud. In 1982 it was unbelievable that police forgot about the confession for two months, Now we're supposed to believe that it took 25 years for these new people to remember it?" Africa emphasizes that these new accounts come just months before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals will hear oral arguments and then decide if Abu-Jamal deserves a new trial. The FOP and other pro-execution forces "are scared that Mumia will get a new trial and years of injustice will be exposed. This is a desperate attempt to sway public opinion against Mumia.".....(full article)

Kucinich for President? 
by Rahul Mahajan

Given the conservative-nationalistic populist refoundation of the Democratic Party, most likely Kucinich will stand out as the only even slightly anti-militarist and anti-imperialist Democratic candidate. Short of a run by Nader, Bill Moyers, or someone like that, he'll probably also be the only worthy candidate with any public recognition. Still, despite numerous fatuous proclamations of his, there's absolutely no way he will win or even make a respectable showing, and so one must consider what is to be gained from supporting him.....(full article)

December 18

The Anti-Empire Report
Designer Monsters  
by William Blum

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a man seemingly custom-made for the White House in its endless quest for enemies with whom to scare Congress, the American people, and the world, in order to justify the unseemly behavior of the empire. The Iranian president has declared that he wants to "wipe Israel off the map." He's said that "the Holocaust is a myth." He recently held a conference in Iran for "Holocaust deniers." And his government passed a new law requiring Jews to wear a yellow insignia, a la the Nazis. On top of all that, he's aiming to build nuclear bombs, one of which would surely be aimed at Israel. What right-thinking person would not be scared by such a man? 
(full article)

Catastrophic Failure: Foundations, Nonprofits, and the
Continuing Crisis in New Orleans 
by Jordan Flaherty

Fifteen months after New Orleans became an international symbol of governmental neglect and racism, the city remains in crisis. Students are still without books, healthcare is less available to poor people than ever, public housing is still closed, and infrastructure is still in desperate need of repair. In an open letter to funders and national nonprofits released on 15 December, a diverse array of New Orleanians declared, "From the perspective of the poorest and least powerful, it appears that the work of national allies on our behalf has either not happened, or if it has happened it has been a failure." In conversations this week with scores of New Orleans residents, including organizers, advocates, health care providers, educators, artists and media makers, I heard countless stories of diverted funding and unmet needs. While many stressed that they have had important positive experiences with national allies, few have received anything close to the funding, resources, or staff they need for their work, and in fact most are working unsustainable hours while living in a still-devastated city.....(full article)

An Uncompromising Leftist Position 
by Kim Petersen

The December issue of Le Monde diplomatique features "A Different Future in Different Circumstances": articles on the future of Palestine and Israel. In one article, former Lebanese finance minister George Corm offers a "dissident view": to obey international law, return stolen land, and pay compensation. This is in line with the reputation of Le Monde diplomatique, known for articles that are "long, thoughtful, scholarly, and opinionated, usually from an uncompromising leftist position." Writing in Le Monde diplomatique on Israeli society, Haaretz' Akiva Eldar comes from a leftist position, but it is a compromised position. Eldar is puzzled by the deficit of protest over the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman, a far-right winger, as deputy prime minister in Israel. Eldar asks, "What has happened to Israeli society that it is producing racist leaders such as Lieberman and, more importantly, why is it only happening now, almost 60 years after the state of Israel was established?" (full article)

The Poet and the Tyrant
Victor Jara's Music and the Brutal Legacy of Pinochet  
by Alexander Billet

There is something about the death of a ninety-one year old dictator that reminds you of the quote "only the good die young." And yet, days after Augusto Pinochet's death, we are already subjected to those trying to forgive his horrific legacy. Whether he was a bulwark against "communism," or made Chile's economy what it is today, the 30,000 tortured and killed on his watch are somehow worth it. Tell that to the thousands in the soccer stadium that week in 1973. The thousands of dissidents and activists who were raped, tortured or killed as Pinochet consolidated his rule. Among those thousands was Victor Jara, the songwriter and revolutionary. But Jara didn't just happen to be among those in the Estadio Chile that day. Like everyone else, he was there because he was a radical; and in his case, a songwriter and poet; a deadly combination to any iron-fisted regime.....(full article)

Powell, Baker, Hamilton -- Thanks for Nothing  
by Norman Solomon

When Colin Powell endorsed the Iraq Study Group report during his Dec. 17 appearance on Face the Nation, it was another curtain call for a tragic farce. Four years ago, "moderates" like Powell were making the invasion of Iraq possible. Now, in the guise of speaking truth to power, Powell and ISG co-chairs James Baker and Lee Hamilton are refueling the U.S. war effort by depicting it as a problem of strategy and management. But the U.S. war effort is a problem of lies and slaughter.....(full article)

Call Me Ebenezer, but Christmas as We Know It Needs to Go
by Jason Miller

Bursting forth with renewed intensity, the "War on Christmas" is back in 2006. So just what does this alleged war against an impalpable enemy entail? Have "Islamofascists" captured and decapitated Santa Claus? Did a US-made IDF "smart bomb" strike Bethlehem and obliterate baby Jesus as he lay in the manger? Did the Grinch go global with his nefarious thievery? Actually, the answer can be found amongst the corporate media's nearly countless obfuscations and deceits.....(full article)

December 15

US Troops Raid Hospital Again  
by Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily

Iraqi doctors and medical staff are outraged over yet another U.S. military raid at Fallujah General Hospital. The raid followed a roadside bombing Dec. 7 where four Iraqi policemen were killed and two civilians injured. The injured were taken to Fallujah General Hospital. Shortly after this attack, a U.S. Marine who was on a patrol in the city was wounded by a gunshot. "U.S. soldiers replied to the source of fire then headed straight to the general hospital across the (Euphrates) river hoping that they had shot and injured the sniper," an eyewitness told Inter Press Service (IPS). "American soldiers seem to have some imagination to think wounded fighters might go to that so-called hospital," a retired surgeon told IPS. "We know that they do not trust that place because of the continuous raids by the U.S., and lack of everything in that hospital." The hospital is functioning at minimal capacity due to lack of medicines and equipment, the surgeon said. Eyewitnesses at Fallujah General Hospital said U.S. soldiers raided the hospital "as if it were a military target.".....(full article

The Trap of Recognizing Israel 
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The problem facing the Palestinian leadership, as they strive to bring the millions living in the occupied territories some small relief from their collective suffering, reduces to a matter of a few words. Like a naughty child who has only to say “sorry” to be released from his room, the Hamas government need only say “We recognize Israel” and supposedly aid and international goodwill will wash over the West Bank and Gaza. That, at least, was the gist of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s recent speech during a visit to the Negev, when he suggested that his country’s hand was stretched out across the sands towards the starving masses of Gaza -- if only Hamas would repent. “Recognize us and we are ready to talk about peace” was the implication.....(full article)

The Cash Cows of Personal Debt 
The Credit Card Industry and Predatory Capitalism  
by Charles Sullivan

The booming credit card business is one of the most profitable and destructive industries to ever emerge from the inventive capitalist mind. Citibank is raking in more money than Microsoft and Wal-Mart. Obscene profits are realized without lifting a finger to perform any physical work. In 2004, a single credit card company, the MBNA, realized 1.5 times the profits of fast food industry giant McDonald's. Collecting on credit card debt is a very lucrative business. With origins in South Dakota, the modern credit card industry began realizing obscene profits as a result of deregulation. The Supreme Court also played a pivotal role in expanding banking industry profits by lifting limits to the amount of additional fees credit card companies could charge their customers. The sky is the limit now. Industry deregulation has resulted in the systemic fleecing of consumers by practices that can only be described as willful and predatory in nature.....(full article)

Andy Young's Love Fest with Paul Wolfowitz --
and All Things Rich and Evil  
by Bruce Dixon

“The more I read about Paul Wolfowitz, the more I realized we had in common, confessed Atlanta's former mayor and shameless son Andrew Young, in his opening remarks before a Wolfowitz speech at an Atlanta synagogue, Sunday night. We had a common mentor, [in] George Schultz... We had come from a completely different direction but found ourselves with a common agenda, to spread peace.Andrew Young's "mentor" George Schultz was secretary of state during the Reagan Administration's murderous contra wars in Central America, and during the Iran-Iraq war, in which more than a million people perished while America provided military intelligence and aid to both sides. Schultz is also a former CEO of Bechtel, a distinction he shares with Donald Rumsfeld. Paul Wolfowitz was until a few months ago Deputy Secretary of Defense, an early advocate and leading architect of the current war in Iraq as well as the next ones in Iran and/or Syria, and the current head of the World Bank. These days Andrew Young is an "international business consultant," a polite term for flack, fixer and corporate whore. For years Young has traded on the dwindling stock of personal credibility owing to his participation in the Freedom Movement of the 1960s. His consultation consists of press conferences, media events, interviews, public appearances and speeches in which he shills for Big Oil in West Africa, privatizers in the Caribbean, Nike and Wal-Mart world-wide. His firm, Good Works International is credited with teaching the famously corrupt Nigerian president Obansanjo a brand new American-style way to solicit bribes -- the creation of Africa's first "presidential library.".....(full article)

It’s Not Just Bush: We’re Accountable Too 
by Heather Wokusch

Blaming everything on a handful of people at the top, no matter how destructive and abusive they've been, misses a critical point. Systems tend to self-perpetuate. Remove one player and the next comes in to ensure business as usual. Remove Rumsfeld, a man who helped prop up Hussein in the '80s and skewed intelligence towards war, and who do you get? Robert Gates, a man who helped prop up Hussein in the '80s and skewed intelligence towards war. Replacing those in power won't help if the power structure itself doesn't change. And that means addressing how our own actions maintain this dysfunctional system......(full article)

The First Peace Candidate of the 2008 Presidential Election, Dennis Kucinich: Can an Anti-War Candidate be Successful in a Pro-War Party?  
by Kevin Zeese

On December 12, 2006 the anti-war movement got a standard bearer on the road to the White House. Rep. Dennis Kucinich, former mayor of Cleveland (the youngest person ever elected to be mayor of a major city) and a five term Congressman announced his second run for the presidency. In his announcement he made the centerpiece of his campaign opposition to the Iraq War. Further, he is running against the leadership of the Democratic Party who is supporting the continued funding of the war.....(full article)

Kenneth Tomlinson's Ethical Problems Don't Prevent Reappointment Bush Crony Re-nominated as Chair of the Broadcasting Board of Governors  
by Bill Berkowitz

On November 14, in a move indicative of President Bush's intention to continue to surround himself with political cronies with questionable ethics records, Kenneth L. Tomlinson was re-nominated by the president as chairman of the Broadcasting Board of Governors -- the agency that supervises the Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, the Arab-language Alhurra, Radio Marti and other government radio and television operations that are heard by an estimated 100 million people worldwide. Tomlinson, a close friend of Karl Rove, has a decidedly spotty record in government service, having been previously forced to resign from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting over charges that he tried to politicize that agency.....
(full article)

Thank You Alice: A Meditation for the Winter Solstice
by Lucinda Marshall

In the dark days of approaching winter here in the Northern Hemisphere, Alice Walker's new book, We Are The Ones We Have Been Waiting For: Inner Light In A Time Of Darkness, offers an inspiring path of peaceful courage. In this short but eminently wise volume, Walker talks about many things, including a tribe, the Swa, where it is the job of women to say stop when behavior and actions are in damaging excess. As Walker eloquently states, in our own society and time, now is the time not only for women to say stop, but also for men to listen.....(full article)

In Whose Times? 
by Bill Willers

If one is looking for a publication that upholds a left of center viewpoint, it won't be found these days in In These Times, a 30-year-old periodical founded by James Weinstein in collaboration with such as Herbert Marcuse, Noam Chomsky and Barbara Ehrenreich, ostensibly to "identify and clarify the struggles against corporate power now multiplying in American society." The December 2006 issue contains an amazingly Fox Network-like piece by Laura Washington, in which she claims to be "salivating at the prospect of the Democrats reclaiming the middle." The "middle," that part of the political road Jim Hightower accurately described as populated with road kill, is where every corporate interest in the country has sought for years to contain Democrats. These interests include the "Republican-lite" Democratic Leadership Council as well as mainstream media pundits, those on Fox included. "Stay in the middle and win" has been a drumbeat applied to keeping views from the left from being heard, and it's a drumbeat that has resulted in a country that correctly sees the Democratic Party as representing nothing in particular. Washington argues that the Democratic Party has been too far in "the wilderness of the left." With this assertion she is, of course, taking the position that it should move rightward. In These Times is a magazine with a progressive voice? (full article)

The Age of Irrationality
The 9/11 Conspiracists and the Decline of the American Left 
by Alexander Cockburn

Where was the American left in the campaign that ended in recapture of both houses of Congress by the Democrats on November 7, 2006? Was it in the streets, fomenting opposition to the war in Iraq? Not at all. The antiwar movement has been inert for months. When I was asked to give the keynote speech at a rare antiwar rally in my local town of Eureka, northern California, in early October, three of my five fellow orators didn't deign to mention the war at all. Instead they numbed the audience and sharply diminished its size with interminable dissections of the 9/11/2001 attacks on the World Trade Center towers and the Pentagon. Their aim? To argue that the attacks were an "inside job," organized by Bush and Cheney or (a frequent variation on the theme) darker powers, for whom Bush and Cheney are the mere errand boys. Five years after the attacks, 9/11 conspiracism has now penetrated deep into the American left. It is also widespread on the libertarian and populist right, but that is scarcely surprising, since the American populist right instinctively mistrusts government to a far greater degree than the left, and matches conspiracies to its demon of preference, whether the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Black Helicopters or the Jews. These days a dwindling number of leftists learn their political economy from Marx via the small, mostly Trotskyist groupuscules. Into the theoretical and strategic void has crept a diffuse, peripatic conspiracist view of the world that tends to locate ruling class devilry not in the crises of capital accumulation, or the falling rate of profit, or inter-imperial competition, but in locale (the Bohemian Grove, Bilderberg, Ditchley, Davos) or supposedly "rogue" agencies, with the CIA still at the head of the list. The 9/11 "conspiracy", or "inside job," is the Summa of all this foolishness.....(full article)

The Public Interest and the Limits of Volunteerism 
by Ernest Partridge

Libertarians often tell us that personal voluntary restraint and charitable contributions are morally preferable solutions to social problems than government coercion and taxation. Ronald Reagan probably had this in mind when he said in his first inaugural address that "government is not the solution -- government is the problem." To be sure, personal self-control and charity are virtues, while political coercion and taxation are not. The trouble is, in numerous and significant instances, volunteerism doesn't work.....
(full article)

Death to Infidels Via Video Games 
by William Fisher

“This is the first time any Christian religious instructional video has recommended killing all non-Christians who refuse to convert to Christianity. It is unprecedented and dangerous.” This was the view expressed yesterday by Rev. Timothy Simpson, president of the Jacksonville, Florida-based progressive advocacy group The Christian Alliance for Progress, in describing a new video game titled "Left Behind: Eternal Forces." The game, which is packaged with a book explaining its philosophy, is currently being sold by Wal-Mart, America’s largest retailer. The chain has thus far refused demands that it remove it from its shelves, indicating it would continue selling the game online and in selected stores where it felt there was demand.....
(full article)

December 14

Hollowcaust Hullabaloo 
by Gabriel Ash

It’s been a good week for the Holocaust. It was in the news all the time. Unfortunately, the media excels in not making connections, which leaves me with the joyful job of bringing together all the recent Holocaust news. In Iran, the clowns at the Foreign Ministry hosted a conference of Holocaust buffoonery graced with the presence of such luminaries as the white supremacist David Duke. In France, Presidential hopeful Segolene Royal stumbled over the question whether she heard the comparison that a Hizbullah deputy made (or didn’t make, in Arabic or not, that was or wasn’t translated to Royal) between Hizbullah and the French resistance to the Nazis. Royal assured us that any such comparison, which implies some measure of likeness between Nazi Germany and Israel, would be, had it been made, completely “inadmissible, odious, an abomination” (Loubnan Ya Loubnan, December 2006). Finally, before leaving for a visit to Germany, Israeli PM Ehud Olmert gave a speech at the National Holocaust Museum in which he compared Iran to the Nazis and urged Germany to cut its economic ties to Iran.....(full article)

Abusive Interrogations: A Defining Difference Between
Psychiatrists and Psychologists 
by Stephen Soldz

Ever since the United States government decided to deviate from accepted international and American standards of treatment of prisoners of war and other detainees in its Global War on Terror, the participation of health professionals in coercive interrogations of detainees has posed a fundamental moral issue for these, supposedly "helping," professions. Unlike the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association, the American Psychological Association considers it acceptable for its members to participate in coercive interrogations at Guantanamo and the various other American detention centers around the world. (For those unfamiliar with the differences among mental health professions, psychiatrists are specialist medical doctors whereas psychologists are not medical doctors and receive a doctoral degree in psychology.) American Psychiatric Association President Steven S. Sharfstein took the lead in getting that organization to change its policies. Last summer he delivered his Presidential Address at the organization's May 2006 conference. This address has some very important and pertinent words on the issue. To a psychologist, especially disturbing is his use of the issue as a defining difference between the two, sometimes collaborating and sometimes competing, professions....(full article)

Death By Coke 
by Joshua Frank

We are a country of overweight people. Americans are tipping the scales in record numbers, with approximately 130 million who are presently considered overweight or obese. Perhaps most alarmingly of all, half of all women aged 20 to 39 in the United States are included in these figures. Many factors contribute to the growing problem, from our sedentary lifestyles to our overindulgence in high-energy, low nutritional foods. Dealing with the crisis is not easy. The marketing of energy dense foods is a multi-billion dollar industry and manufactures of such products go to great lengths to ensure their shareholders continue to profit from the sales of nutrition-less foods. Despite the barrage of marketing to the contrary, sales pitches, and misinformation, consumption of soda has been directly linked to both obesity as well as type 2 diabetes. Soft drinks are packed full of sugar and refined carbohydrates, both of which are undeniably correlated to these factors. Type 2 diabetes is also associated with a poor diet that is laden with high-fructose corn syrup and low in fiber. Research indicates that soft drinks largely contribute to this growing epidemic, with high school and college age kids being the most likely to consume sugar laden soda beverages on a regular basis.....(full article)

The Mystery of the Disappearing Salmon 
by Dan Bacher 

State and federal scientists, as they finish doing salmon carcass surveys on the Sacramento, American and Feather rivers this fall, will be analyzing why this year's salmon returns were so poor as compared with their pre-season ocean abundance estimates. In a year where salmon were supposed to be bountiful in both the ocean and river fisheries, this has been one of the poorest fishing seasons on record for the Sacramento River and its tributaries. Rene Villanueva of Steelie Dan’s Guide Service, like many other guides and captains on the Sacramento, complained about the very tough season. “It’s the worst salmon season on the river I’ve seen since 1970, when I began fishing the Sacramento,” said Villanueva. “I’ve seen drought years where the salmon came in late, in early November, but I’ve never experienced a season like this.”......(full article)

Smithfield Foods’ Rotten Record  
by Nicole Colson

In November, an estimated 1,000 workers at the Smithfield pork processing plant in Tar Heel, N.C., walked off the job in a two-day wildcat strike. The walkout was prompted by the firing of 75 workers when management claimed their Social Security numbers didn’t match federal government data. The workers went back on the job after winning significant concessions, including a 60-day period for workers receiving “no-match” letters to secure their documentation. But the fight for justice at Smithfield is far from over.....(full article)

December 12-13

Three Decades of Injustice: Gary Tyler Still Sits in Angola Prison
by Joe Allen

Gary Tyler, at one time the youngest person on death row in the United States, turned 48 years old this July. He has spent 32 of those years in jail for a crime he did not commit. The case of Gary Tyler is one of the great miscarriages of justice in the modern history of the United States, in a country where the miscarriage of justice is part of the daily routine of government business. “This case is just permeated with racism all the way through it,” declared Mary Howell, Gary's longtime attorney, “from the initial event all the way up to the pardon process.” Yet, far too few people are aware of Gary Tyler's case, which in the mid-1970s mobilized thousands across the country for his freedom and led Amnesty International to declare him a political prisoner. Over the last twenty years, hundreds of death row inmates and scores of others have been exonerated for the crimes they were falsely convicted of by racist and corrupt prosecutors. It's long past time that Gary Tyler should have gone free.....(full article)

Drug Mafia, CIA Blamed for Sacking of Afghan Governor   
by Devlin Buckley

In a country flooded with narcotics traffickers and corrupt government officials, one of Afghanistan’s few remaining "clean" governors, Mohammed Daud, has been removed from his position, and many are blaming the drug mafia and the CIA for his abrupt dismissal.....(full article)

Economic Apartheid Kills 
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

To be successful in overturning our elitist plutocratic system we should add economic apartheid to our semantic arsenal.  Better than economic inequality, economic injustice and class warfare, because apartheid is loaded with richly deserved negative emotions. Sadly, in South Africa, economic apartheid has taken over from racial apartheid. How ironic that the Bush administration successfully talked up the global threat from terrorism while it pursued domestic and foreign policies promoting economic apartheid, a far greater and more pervasive threat to national and global stability. The human race on planet Earth, taken as an aggregate mass abstraction, may be getting richer. But a new report from the World Institute for Development Economics Research of the United Nations University shows that wealth creation is remarkably -- one might say criminally -- unequal.....(full article)

Democratic Dumb Ass
Meet Silvestre Reyes, the New House Intelligence Head
by Gary Leupp

Silvestre Reyes (D-Tex.), the incoming chairman of the House of Representatives’ Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, was asked by a reporter whether al-Qaeda was Sunni or Shiite. “Predominantly -- probably Shiite,” he responded, as though he knew what he was talking about. And what about Lebanon’s Hizbollah? “Hizbollah. Uh, Hizbollah . . . Why do you ask me these questions at 5 o’clock?” He later added, “Speaking only for myself, it’s hard to keep things in perspective and in the categories.” Now, for anyone expecting the new Democratic-led Congress to seriously undertake an investigation into what the mainstream press daintily refers to as “possible misuse of prewar intelligence” and what is more honestly termed “deliberate production and dissemination of lies to justify a war of aggression,” the Congressman’s answers should cause some anxiety. The neocons disdain facts in the material world because they think they can generate them from the ether. Reyes perhaps disdains facts because they’re hard to keep straight in his mind at 5:00, and because he has better things to do with his tax-paid time than grasp the bonehead basics of the study of Islam . . . . When you combine the abject stupidity of the Congress with the calculated deceit of the neocons and the cruel impulses of a cowboy president, you’re likely to get a war.....(full article)

650,000 Dead Given Voice in Congress 
by Stephen Soldz

I just watched the Congressional briefing on the Lancet Iraqi fatality study: "650,000 excess deaths in Iraq." Speaking were Gilbert Burnham, Les Roberts, and Juan Cole. The briefing was organized by Rep, Kucinich, with the support of rep. Ron Paul. The briefing was to discuss the October 2006 study “Mortality after the 2003 invasion of Iraq: a cross-sectional cluster sample survey,” which appeared in the British medical journal The Lancet. This study estimated that 655,000 more Iraqis had died ("excess deaths") since the invasion than would have died if the prewar rate of death (mortality) had continued. It further estimated that about 600,000 of these had died from violence. I have great respect for Rep. Kucinich, who kept the entire briefing focused on the effects of the fighting on the Iraqi people and on Iraqi society. It is the first time I've seen anyone from the U.S. government focus on Iraqis and what they have experienced and what they are suffering. For example, he asked about the effects on Iraqi society of the loss of so many young men. He also asked about the creation of Iraqi orphans. Unfortunately, none of the three scholars had any real information on these topics, a sign of how little we really know about what is going on in that unfortunate country.....(full article)

Richards’s (“Kramer’s”) Crash, or How to Hide Structured Racism 
by Christopher G. Robbins

“Kramer’s a racist!” “Kramer’s a racist!” “He’s a racist! He’s a racist! A racist, look, there’s a racist!” Or so it was easy to say after Michael Richards’s racist outburst at The Laugh Factory on November 17, 2006, when he made reference to lynching and repeatedly called African American audience members the “n” word. Thank god! We found a racist and, as a society, the U.S. can have its collective guilt and moral shortcomings concerning the “race question” assuaged by tagging Richards a racist (however justified a moniker) with as much gusto and certitude as he attacked the African Americans in his audience and the African American community more generally. Even Rush Limbaugh -- the angel of tolerance who was canned by Disney/ESPN three years ago for his own racist crash with Philadelphia Eagles’ Donovan McNabb and who achieved notoriety and 20 million weekly listeners for his racist tirades against “lazy single black mothers” who “sponge” off “our hard-earned tax dollars” -- chimed in to condemn Richards, along with the alleged liberals who have let him off the hook because Richards pointed fingers at the great egalitarian President George W. Bush and his administration’s bungling of the response to Hurricane Katrina. Ah, the profound wisdom of Hammurabi: eye for an eye; tooth for a tooth; a tit for a tat, but the equivalencies in this case are patently false and, as will be seen, dangerous.....(full article)

Making Stones Weep: A Review of Susan Abulhawa's Novel, The Scar of David 
by Ron Jacobs

The Scar of David (Journey Publications, 2006) by Susan Abulhawa is a profoundly beautiful story. Set in Palestine, this novel transcends the particular history of the Palestinian people since their expulsion from their lands while simultaneously remaining firmly rooted in that experience. Inspired by sources and people as varied as Ghassan Kanafani's short story "Return to Haifa," Hanan Ashrawi and Edward Said, this is a story of a family in Palestine. It is not a sad story, but a painful one. To borrow the words of one of the story's characters, it is a "sweet pain." It is a pain tinged with memory and hope. And questions of why. A pain partially composed by soldiers who somehow find their human compassion underneath the lies, yet continue to fight the war in which they have some doubt. A pain that comes with standing up to resist your oppressor all the while knowing that the things that are most important to you -- your family, your village, and your loves -- will be ripped from you because you do stand up. A pain that also come from knowing that these things may very well be ripped from your existence even if you do nothing.....(full review)

Think Tribal, Speak Universal 
by Gilad Atzmon

The politics of hate can be effective, as well as being vicious. And you’d think tribal Jewish activists would be the first to understand this. We all know that Jews have been suffering hatred and discrimination for centuries. Yet the Jewish ethnic activists seem to have learned hatred from their enemies so much that the secular Jewish political discourse has been totally shaped by it. Moreover, hate has become the main matrix of negation: The Israelis are set to hate the Arabs, the Zionists are there to hate the Goyim (in general), Jews against Zionism hate the Goyim as well as Israel as well as Atzmon (in particular). But why do they hate so much? The answer is simple. Once Judaism is eliminated, what remains of Jewish identity is pretty threadbare. Once stripped of religious spirituality, all that is left of Jewishness is a template of negation fuelled by racial orientation and spiced up with some light cultural context. Sadly, I have to say that though very many emancipated and assimilated Jews have adopted universal humanist ideas, secular collective Jewish identity has never matured into adopting a universal humanist ideological standpoint or even a philosophical insight. The reasons are simple....(full article)

America Files Fraud Charges Against Bush 
by Ahmed Amr

Elizabeth de la Vega's first book, United States v. George W. Bush et al, is an engaging suspense filled account of a fictional seven-day trial before an imaginary grand jury. If you're a speed-reader, slow down and pay attention to every detail. You have been summoned to witness a trial that will not only decide the fate of your president but will determine if we are a country of law or a nation of sheep....(full article)

The Iraq Study Group Study Group 
by Zbignew Zingh

The Iraq Study Group Study Group (ISGSG), a shadowy organization of indeterminate number (to wit, this author and those who frequent this web site) was created to reflect and comment on the better known Baker-Hamilton Iraq Study Group (ISG). The ISGSG has now released its own report. President Bush, upon reviewing an advance copy of the ISGSG's white paper mumbled something to the effect that it was “very interesting” before filing it in the same cylindrical file with the Baker-Hamilton report . . . . Although we of the The Iraq Study Group Study Group ultimately found little that was novel or insightful in the ISG report, we congratulate Mr. Baker and his colleagues for exposing definite fault lines within the international ruling cabal. For days after the release of the Baker-Hamilton report it was very pleasing to read conservative political pundits dissing Mr. Baker's ISG as “muddled”, irresponsible and unbalanced. Indeed, one such conservative columnist castigated the public disclosure of the Baker-Hamilton report that, in the esteemed pundit's opinion, should have been kept absolutely secret and accessible only to the inner circle of policymakers -- quite consistent, of course, with aristocratic notions of “democracy” and government transparency. Dissension within the ownership class? (full report)

Apocalypto: The Cinematic Logic of Genocide 
by Juan Santos

Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto is not a mere adventure tale, it’s not just another excruciatingly brutal portrayal of apocalyptic violence for its own sake, and the Village Voice is dead wrong when it says that unlike Braveheart and The Passion of the Christ, Apocalypto is “unburdened by nationalist or religious piety,” -- that it's “pure, amoral sensationalism.” Despite its extreme brutality Apocalypto isn’t just Gibson’s latest snuff film with a religious theme. The film is a morality play, and there are only two things one needs to remember to get a hint of the ugly moral intent behind Mel Gibson’s depiction of the Maya.....(full article)

Saying Goodbye to My “Fargo” Accent 
by Robert Jensen

Ever since the movie Fargo came out a decade ago, my ability to mimic the Scandinavian-inflected accent of my hometown and home state of North Dakota has been a guaranteed way to elicit laughter during my public speaking. That joking ended earlier this month, when I realized -- in a painfully public manner -- that my use of that North Dakota accent was in a small but undeniable way supportive of a white-supremacist account of the history of this country. The story of that episode illustrates not just the depth of the pathology of white America but also a way we white folks can -- with self-reflection and help from others -- start to transform ourselves.....
(full article)

-- Poetry --
Carbon Skin 
by Adam Engel

Transformed utterly, utterly transformed: 
rocks, trees, grainy  waves of amber 
Mother six feet under 
carbon skin 
that car 
I'd  saved pennies (melt like 
snowflakes on a griddle) 
to possess 
my high-school sweet-heart's teenage girls 
my childless wife 
my instamatic color flash 
color-bled, counterfeit  Suns -- 
overexposed ......(full poem)

December 11

A Grandmother’s “Sacrament in Solidarity with the Poor” 
by Bill Quigley

Diane Schultz has trouble saying the words, “in prison,” in reference to her mother, Valerie Fillenwarth. However, that’s likely to become a reality for Fillenwarth, a mother of seven and grandmother of 17 who was arrested Nov. 19 for trespassing onto Fort Benning in Georgia to protest the U.S. Army’s Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. Fillenwarth, 64, of Indianapolis, who has been a member of St. Lawrence Catholic Parish for 34 years, joined 15 others who were arrested by federal authorities during the annual protest. She was released on $1,000 bond and given a Jan. 29 court date. In recent years, those arrested have received 90-day to six-month prison sentences.....(full article)

Neither Forgiveness Nor Oblivion
Chile: The Death of a Murderer
by Tito Tricot

Neither forgiveness nor oblivion, for that distant Tuesday of a late Autumn lives in the memory, the skin and gaze of a people that did not deserve so much sorrow. None can and should not forget the desperate chanting of the disappeared, reclined, who knows, against the shadow of a peach tree, gasping for a sunbeam. And the military know where they are, they know their names, they heard their last sighs. They know where they are, the Generals know, the Admirals know. Pinochet knows, therefore we did not feel sorry for his agony, we did not commiserate with his plight, we do not grieve his death.....(full article)

Truth or Consequences 
by Joe Mowrey

The recent feel-good moment of an end to the Republican domination of Congress has resulted in victory parties and backslapping the likes of which we haven't seen since Clinton defeated Papa Bush. The results are going to be just as illusory in the long run. The glow of economic prosperity in the 90s facilitated, while at the same time obscured, the rise to prominence of the more overt corporate wing of the Democratic Party. The conservative revolution may have suffered a temporary setback but the smiling face of fascism (originally defined by Benito Mussolini as the partnership between government and corporations) continued to shine. Different corporate lackeys, similar agenda. Meanwhile the American people stocked up on gas-guzzling mini-vans and large screen TVs. Our "gimme gimme, more more" culture of denial always manages to thrive. The image of Democrats with subpoena power has progressives drooling over the prospect of accountability in government, while they remain conveniently oblivious to the fact that corporate lobbyists have already begun to redeploy. Defense industry shills have been in bed with both parties for so long they won't even need to change the sheets. According to The New York Times, at a recent strategy session of drug company lobbyists in Washington D.C. there was much hand wringing and consternation about the future of the most profitable industry in the world: legalized drugs. It comes as no surprise that a major biotechnology firm has already hired as a lobbyist George Crawford, a former chief of staff for Representative Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House. The pharmaceutical giant Merck hired Peter Rubin, a former aide to Democratic Representative Jim McDermott of Washington state. There is certain to be enough graft and corruption to keep the Democratic Party's troughs full, and no shortage of swine to belly up to them.....(full article)

Elephants Not in the Room 
by Kim Petersen

Is self-hyping reporter Greg Palast kidding or is he finally showing off his Zionist-imperialist colors? Does he think that progressives cannot see past his mordant wit to those whose agenda his writing serves? His recent article takes on Iran and the “elephant in the room (camel in the tent?) that can’t be acknowledged”: Saudi Arabia. Palast’s derisory language is tawdry and trivial. What would the reaction be if someone wrote about a “bagel in the kibbutz”? That the “shy mullahs” of Iran are seeking a nuclear bomb is axiomatic for Palast. After all, “Iran has zero need of ‘peaceful’ nuclear-generated electricity. It has the second-largest untapped reserve of natural gas on the planet, a clean, safe, cheap source of power. There’s only one reason for a ‘nuclear’ program.” This glaring contradiction comes from the same Palast who devotes a sizeable chunk of his currently promoted book, Armed Madhouse, to Peak Oil. Apparently, Iranians are not affected by Peak Oil. But maybe the Shah of Iran was when the US assisted Iran in starting up its nuclear power program. Palast is also denying Iranians the inalienable right to an equivalent self-defense that the “shy rabbis” have secured for Israel....(full article)

The Animal Holocaust? Why Factory Farming is a Serious Problem 
by Justin E.H. Smith

In his 1954 essay, "The Question concerning Technology," the philosopher and unrepentant Nazi Martin Heidegger wrote: "Agriculture is now a mechanized food industry, in essence the same as the manufacture of corpses in the gas chambers and death camps." The former rector of Freiburg has by now been (almost) universally denounced for his equation of Auschwitz and agribusiness, notwithstanding a few academic disciples who remain convinced that their master could do or say no wrong.  Heidegger, it seems, wanted nothing short of peasants in quaint national costumes dirtying their hands to bring viands to his austere Black Forest table (machine-picked cabbage is so inauthentic). Among European philosophers, Heidegger's contemptuous idiocy would remain unrivaled until Jean Baudrillard's quip about the World Trade Center's former workers that "the horror for the 4,000 victims of dying in those towers was inseparable from the horrors of living in them -- the horror of living and working in sarcophagi of concrete and steel." Yet there is one respect in which the comparison of modern farming methods to the mass killing of humans cannot but strike one as fair. To wit, 10 billion cows, pigs, lambs, chickens (and scattered other creatures) are slaughtered per year in the United States alone, bringing a painful end to their short, miserable, lives in squalid and stinking crates. The term "animal holocaust" has been making the rounds, in reference to the mass slaughter of animals in factory farming. Is this an impious mockery, worthy of Heidegger, of an event that was without parallel in history?
(full article)

Black Caucus Sisters Shine, While Brothers Lag Behind:
A Breakdown of their Votes by Gender  
by Leutisha Stills

As we near the beginning of a new, Democrat-dominated session of Congress, much attention is focused on who will become chairs of important committees and subcommittees. Most of the Black candidates to wield committee gavels are males with longstanding progressive credentials -- a fact that tends to give the impression that the Black Caucus is chock-a-block with progressive guys. However, a CBC Monitor analysis of voting records shows that the women of the Caucus are significantly more progressive than the men. When the Caucus is examined as a body, the gender gap is dramatic. Of the 12 female voting members, 10 earned places in the Honor Society, with “A” grades (90-100%) -- an impressive 83% of total voting women. (The two women congressional delegates from Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands cannot vote on the House floor.) “Not a single CBC woman scored less than a ‘B’.” The remaining two female members earned a “B” with 80-89% scores. Not a single CBC woman scored less than a “B” in the final grading period of 2006. The men were a very different story. Twelve men out of 29 earned the Honor Society “A” -- 41% vs. 83% for the women. A total of 17 men rated “A” or “B” -- 59% of male members, compared to 100% percent of females. It was all downhill from there for the men of the CBC....(full article)

What She Wore 
by Lucinda Marshall

Writing about fashion is not my style.  Recently  however, I felt moved to write a critique of Marie Claire’s November issue which took on the unique task of looking at the impact of militarism on women’s lives from the point of view of fashion (lost an arm and a leg but can still wear two-inch heels . . .).  I had devoutly hoped that would be the end of my career in fashion commentary, but those hopes were dashed by two recent articles about noteworthy women.....(full article)

Signs of Life in the Grammys: Dixie Chicks Up for Album of the Year  
by Alexander Billet

The Grammy nominations were announced on Friday. Beyond most news outlets' amazement with Mary J Blige gathering eight nods (did they see the Billboards?) there actually seems to be a trend worth noting in this year's show. There are of course plenty of the recording industry's flavor du jour there (James Blunt, John Mayer, Carrie Underwood and of course, Christina), but up against them are a handful of artists who represent a great deal of hope for those of us disheartened by the state of music.....(full article)

Felonious Monk: What's the Deal with the Dalai Lama? 
by Mickey Z.

Here's the scene: I'm in my local health food store when my eyes are drawn to the cover of the latest issue of New York Yoga magazine. Smiling at me is none other than the Dalai Lama. Inside, "His Holiness" spouts boilerplate platitudes like, "If we do love our enemies, we shall cease to have enemies, and wouldn't the world be a much happier place if we could all be friends?" Let's be honest here, the same exact line, if spoken by a ten-year-old child, might elicit a patronizing smile. Also in this article, the Tibetan leader was asked how he was able to "deal with the Chinese who had taken so much from his people." His response was pure Dalai: "We may be different on the outside; but on the inside, we are all the same. We all seek happiness and an end to suffering." Here's what I'm wondering: Who, exactly, designated the Dalai Lama as a conduit of wisdom... and why? And while we're at it, let's put to rest the myth that the Dalai Lama is an innocent bystander and his fellow Tibetans are all pacifists.....(full article)

In Praise of Sweet Darkness 
by Shepherd Bliss

In recent years I have written articles with titles like “Dark Clouds Over America” and “Torture Memories.” Our nation’s war-making and other threatening behavior have disturbed me.  My study of Peak Oil and Climate Change has convinced me that we are in for a dark time as we run low on fossil fuels and over-heat this special planet.  At first, I found this depressing.  I have come to see that the loss of cheap energy can also be a great opportunity, depending on how we respond. In addition to our external responses of doing things such as conserving energy and being more efficient, making a transition to renewable energy sources, and relocalizing, there is much that we can do mentally to prepare for post-carbon societies.....(full article)

December 6

Washington Seeks Stronger Ties with Latin American Militaries 
by Cyril Mychalejko

President Bush, concerned by Washington's waning influence in Latin America as well as the current leftist shift in many of the region's capitals, signed a waiver on Oct. 2 that authorizes the U.S. military to resume certain types of training to a number of militaries in the region. This will affect eleven countries in Latin America and the Caribbean who were barred from receiving International Military and Education Training (IMET) and other types of military aid as a result of the "American Service-Members Protection Act" (APSA). The bill, passed in Congress in 2002, was intended to punish countries not signing bilateral agreements that would prohibit the prosecution of U.S. citizens at the International Criminal Court -- an institution that the Bush Administration is opposed to. The Act had critics in Congress, the State Department and Defense Department, not because it was perceived as a bullying tactic, but because it diminished U.S. influence in the region.....
(full article)

A Western Construct? 
by Faisal Kutty

Fifty-eight years after the universal declaration of human rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, the debate continues as to whether the document is truly universal. Upon its adoption on Dec. 10, 1948, former U.S. First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, chair of the commission on human rights, expressed her hope it would become "the Magna Carta of all mankind." Ironically, as was the fate with the "great charter" of 1215, the declaration has not fully lived up to its name . . . . The conflicting views on the declaration have become more pronounced recently as human rights take a more central role in international and domestic forums. The critics of the current international human rights standards range from cultural relativists and Islamists to proponents of Asian values. They contend the existing international human rights regime is deeply influenced by the western experience. The spotlight on the individual, the focus on rights divorced from duties, the emphasis on legalism to secure these rights and the greater priority given to civil and political rights are all hallmarks of the western bias. In contrast, the Asian (including Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian, Hindu, etc.) and Islamic conceptions would emphasize community, duties to one another and society and some even place greater emphasis on economic, social and cultural rights.....(full article)

Flu Vaccines: Open Season 
by Sinead Dumigan

For all the frantic, unvaccinated citizens fearing the "upcoming" peak of flu season -- rest assured, coming down with a flu infection is the least of your worries. Despite the government’s statements urging individuals to vaccinate their children, the threat of an infantile influenza fatality is just about as serious as the dreaded hangnail. Nonetheless, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently declared November 27 to December 3 as National Influenza Vaccination Week. The order stems from the governments "concern" that infection rates will soon come to a season-high and, as having the flu is such a dire condition within the general population, the well-being of society rests on mass inoculation. In fact, government agents are so adamant about protecting the nation that new recommendations have been made concerning vaccine administration, which, by the way, only protects against three specific strains of the countless, ever-evolving strains of the virus.....(full article)

SSRI Experts Head to Washington to Testify Before FDA Panel 
by Evelyn Pringle

On December 13, 2006, the FDA's Psychopharmacologic Drugs Advisory Committee will hold a public hearing to review the suicidality data from the adult selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor (SSRI) studies. And, for what seems like the umpteenth time, SSRI experts from all over the US, and as far away as the UK, will travel to Washington to once again testify at yet another hearing on the suicide risks associated with these drugs. The committee is expected to vote on whether the risk of SSRI-induced suicidality in adults should be included in a Black Box warning on all SSRI labels, including Paxil, Prozac, Zoloft, Lexapro, and Celexa. The FDA should begin the hearing by announcing that suicide rates for adults have not declined at all in the US even with the massive widespread use of SSRIs. According to a Federal study by Harvard Medical School and other researchers that was published in the June 2005 Journal of the American Medical Association, despite a dramatic increase in treatment with antidepressants in 2001-2003, when compared to 1990-1992, the rates of suicidal ideation, gestures and attempts among adults have remained basically unchanged. There is probably no legal expert in the US more qualified to testify about SSRIs than Baum Hedlund attorney, Karen Barth-Menzies, and she will be at the hearing with bells on. Over the past 10 years, she has represented thousands of clients against SSRI makers.....(full article)

December 5

House Demolitions in the West Bank 
by Jane Smith

As we arrived in the village of Al Funduq, central West bank, the aftermath of the first house demolition was evident. A family stood on a pile of rubble silenced and shocked. The second house demolition was just beginning, with the Caterpillar and Volvo bulldozers ripping into the top floor of the nearly completed house. As we approached, four Palestinian men ran forward from behind the line of soldiers and entered their house. I was deeply moved by their courage. The soldiers grabbed the men out of the house, holding one in a tight neck lock, and handcuffed two of them throughout the demolition. Within an hour, the future home was nothing but a pile of rubble. The family was powerless in this situation, and could only watch as years of labor and money was obliterated by the Israeli army. Caterpillar and Volvo are profiting from this family's grief.....(full report)

Unending Bush 
by William Fisher

As the new Democratic Party majority in Congress considers whether to revisit the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), the administration of President George W. Bush is proposing still more restrictions on detainees in American custody. The government has proposed limiting contact between defense lawyers and detainees at Guantanamo Bay because detainees' communications, such as news of world events, could incite the prisoners to violence. The U.S. proposal to limit lawyers’ contacts with their Guantanamo was contained in a filing to a federal appeals court in Washington. The case deals with an Afghani detainee but the government wants them to apply to other prisoners at Guantanamo. The prison camp currently holds some 430 detainees. Among the more controversial provisions of the MCA, which President Bush signed into law in October, is one that strips U.S. courts of jurisdiction to consider writs of habeas corpus filed by detainees classified as enemy combatants. The Administration contends that the president may classify any person, even a U.S. citizen, as an enemy combatant.....
(full article)

The Systematic Destruction of Jose Padilla 
by Stephen Soldz

The New York Times today gives a glimpse of the systematic destruction of a human being as they describe the routine treatment of US citizen Jose Padilla, held for years without charges as an "enemy combatant" until the government, on the eve of a crucial court hearing challenging their ability to hold him without charges, decided to charge him after all.....(full article)

When US Occupation in Iraq Ends, the Violence is More Likely to Subside; Half Measures Seem Less Dangerous, but are Often Moreso:
An Interview with William Polk

by Kevin Zeese

William Polk is co-author with George McGovern of Out of Iraq. He taught at Harvard University from 1955 to 1961 when President Kennedy appointed him a Member of the Policy Planning Council of the United States Department of State. In 1965, Dr. Polk became Professor of History at the University of Chicago. There, he also established the Center for Middle Eastern Studies and was a founding director of the Middle Eastern Studies Association. He was called back to the White House briefly during the 1967 Middle East War to write a draft peace treaty and to act as an advisor to McGeorge Bundy, the former head of the National Security Council, who was the president's personal representative during that crisis. Dr. Polk is also the author of a treatise on The United States and the Arab World (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1963, 1969. 1975, 1980 and 1991), Understanding Iraq, (HarperCollins Publishers, 2005) and numerous other books. More information on Dr. Polk can be found at:  and in the following interview.....(full interview)

Media Sham for Iraq War -- It’s Happening Again 
by Norman Solomon

The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting war. But it’s happening again. The current media travesty is a drumbeat for the idea that the U.S. war effort must keep going. And again, in its news coverage, the New York Times is a bellwether for the latest media parade to the cadence of the warfare state.....(full article)

Honest Centrism for Populist Democracy 
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

The United States has lost its center through destructive centrifugal politics. America seems spinning out of control. It has become a non-populist, dollar-driven, elitist democracy. Centrism can be a powerful metaphor and tool for national renewal, if it is also populist. In the world of politics, language is used to deceive, distract and divide. Some words become so abused that they lose meaning. In recent years, enormous numbers of liberals and Democrats decided to hide under the label of “progressive.” Many politicians want to be seen as “moderates.” A newer subterfuge is “centrist.”.....(full article)

What We're Up Against (Lessons from Guatemala)  
by Mickey Z.

There are many battles being fought in the name of social justice... some more pitched than others. In general, however, these struggles do not result in victory thanks to a petition, a candlelight vigil, or a ballot pull. In other words, those seeking peace, justice, and solidarity should never underestimate the relentless and brutal power of what they are up against. I am reminded of this every time I re-read Bridge of Courage: Life Stories of the Guatemalan Compañeros and Compañeras, (Common Courage Press, 1995) an amazing book by Jennifer Harbury......(full article)

December 4

“We Cannot Save the Iraqis from Themselves”:
Bipartisan Blaming of the Iraqi People 
by Gary Leupp

The project to subjugate Iraq, and to convert it into a compliant US client-state, has failed. There is no “Mission Accomplished” but rather a hellish mix of anti-occupation resistance (the “insurgency”) and civil war. These were predictable ramifications of the decision to invade, a decision which has never been objectively examined by the mainstream press to say nothing of the Congress supposedly representing the American people. Many war critics are expecting that the newly empowered Democrats are going to investigate the prewar manufacture of pro-war “intelligence” manufactured by Douglas Feith’s Lie Factory (the “Office of Special Plans” in the Defense Department), and to thus clarify -- to any still confused -- the fact that the chaos in today’s Iraq is the fruit of an illegal, immoral invasion rejected by the Iraqi people. They’re hoping that that historical information will provide the basis for an expeditious pull-out. After all, if the invasion was a crime based on lies, how can one support the continuance of the criminality? (full article)

Mister Death Squad Goes to Washington 
by Ahmed Amr

Welcome to the final Byzantine round of the Machiavellian Iraqi war games in Washington. Making his triumphant appearance today is none other than Abdelaziz Al-Hakim -- the wise one. He’s a veteran player who survived four years of preliminary elimination rounds to qualify for the final phase of what is turning out to be a truly Olympian imperial project. Behold Hakim’s resplendent clerical robes. You can always spot the players who’ve spent a lifetime training for their roles on history’s stage. No one doubts that this ‘man of the cloth’ will pass the drug screening tests. This late in the game, we can only hope that our designated team captain resists the temptation to drown his Mesopotamian sorrows in a bottle of gin or indulge in a snow-snorting binge. . . . To get a measure of the man, you need to see past Hakim’s wardrobe. This guy is more than a religious missionary. He’s certainly no ordinary politician. You can’t even consider him a military man -- although he was the leader of the Badr Brigades -- the military wing of the Supreme Council of the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI). Still, he’s so much more than that. The source of his political clout is his control over the Shiite death squads that have infiltrated the American-trained security forces.....
(full article)

The US and the Middle East
A “Grand Settlement” Versus the Jewish Lobby 
by James Petras

Chances for a change in the direction of US Middle East policy are extremely unlikely. The reason is the growing power of the Jewish Lobby in Congress, the massive Zionist propaganda campaign in all the mass media, Olmert’s ‘nose leading’ of Bush, and a host of related activities. The end result is that Congress will not withdraw or reduce US troops and war funding for the Iraq War. Bush, with the support of McCain and Clinton, Liebermann, Reid and Hoyer, will push for more troops in pursuit of an all-out blood bath in Baghdad. The Baker Iraq Study Group under siege from the Zioncons and Zionlibs will be unable to deal with Israeli violence against Palestinians or enter into a dialogue with Syria and Iran on any but the most narrow and unpromising terms.....(full article)

Iran and the Violation of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 
by Jeremy R. Hammond

Iran, an op-ed in the The New York Times reported recently, began operation of a group of uranium enrichment centrifuges, thus violating a legally binding demand by the United Nations Security Council that Iran suspend such activities until the international community is confident that the country’s nuclear program “is for exclusively peaceful purposes.” Iran’s response was that a suspension would abrogate its rights under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty -- even though under international law, it has temporarily surrendered these rights by violating the obligations that condition them. Apparently, the “obligations” in question are compliance with the Security Council resolution calling on it to suspend uranium enrichment activities. Complying with the resolution is a “condition” of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT Treaty), according to the Times. This is useful propaganda, but incorrect......(full article)

Minimum Wage Breaks No-Raise Record 
by Holly Sklar

Every year, PNC Wealth Management calculates the "Christmas Price Index" based on gifts in the song, "The Twelve Days of Christmas." PNC reports, "Maids-a-Milking, who are paid the minimum wage, were the only service providers not to see an increase this year." The Christmas Price Index rose from $13,344 in 1997 to $18,920 in 2006. The price of Six Geese-a-Laying increased from $150 to $300, for example. But the cost of Eight Maids-a-Milking remained $41.20 -- pegged to the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour since Sept. 1, 1997. On Dec. 2, we broke the record for the longest period without a raise since the minimum wage was established in 1938. The prior record of nine years and three months lasted from Jan. 1, 1981 until the minimum wage increase on Apr. 1, 1990. Murray Weidenbaum, chairman of President Reagan's first Council of Economic Advisers, has acknowledged they wanted to eliminate the minimum wage. But as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Because that would have been such a 'painful political process,' Mr. Weidenbaum says that he and other officials were content to let inflation turn the minimum wage into 'an effective dead letter.'".....(full article)

The Times Continues to Understate the Influence
of Feith's "Gestapo Office" in the Run-up to War 
by Walter C. Uhler

In his groundbreaking April 28, 2004, New York Times article about Douglas Feith's Policy Counterterrorism Evaluation Group (PCEG) -- which Secretary of State Colin Powell privately called "Feith's Gestapo office" -- James Risen detailed the Group's efforts to find links connecting Saddam Hussein with al Qeada's terrorists, in order to make a clearer case for the invasion of Iraq. As Mr. Risen notes, both the Defense Intelligence Agency and the CIA discounted (had already examined and dismissed) the so-called evidence that the Gestapo office was "uncovering." But rather than demonstrating that the Gestapo office actually prevailed over the legitimate and ultimately correct Intelligence Community, and thus provided a central justification for war, Risen then undercut his reporting by erroneously concluding that "the Bush administration ultimately decided that the terrorism link was not strong enough to use as the central rationale for war." Now, Mr. Risen has done it again in his November 28, 2006 Times puff piece on Chris Carney, the recently elected Democratic Congressman from Pennsylvania -- and former member of Feith's Gestapo office. Rather than using the occasion to reexamine the impact of the Gestapo office, by grilling Congressman-elect Carney, Mr. Risen gave him a platform for dismissing the affair. Which is why I wrote the following (unpublished) letter to the Times on November 28, 2006.....(full article)

December 1-2

Prisoners of Envy: Wal-Mart Nihilism Versus the Punk Rock of Blogging 
by Phil Rockstroh

The Holiday Season has arrived, unfolding before us like a cheap vinyl wallet here in The United States of American Express. The days spill forth, their hours comprised of shopping and shooting sprees, of retail and retaliation. Jingle bells and the crackle of gunfire. This is the way an empire falls, with armies of confused killers abroad and legions of killer clowns at home. A decade and half ago, we watched smugly as The Kremlin came undone. Yet, somehow we believe ourselves to be immune from the rot that causes empires to collapse from within. The Social Realist poets of the former Soviet Union made themselves the objects of much (deserved) derision, when, in the service of the dogmatic dictates of state communism, they penned poetic odes to crop yields, tractors and other farm implements. When a Russian attempts to convey his passions, his soul is prone to reach inward seeking poetic depths. In contrast, nowadays, in situations of crucial importance, such as the anxious waiting in long lines involved when attempting to procure PlayStation 3s among the throngs of their fellow Home Entertainment Unit-lusting Fred C. Dobbs types, Americans express their ardor -- by reaching for a gun. For we all know that The Baby Jesus would find the sound of Yuletide gunfire to be as soothing as a celestial lullaby.....(full article)

The Hijacking of a Nation, Part II
The Auctioning of Former Statesmen & Dime-a-Dozen Generals
by Sibel Edmonds

It used to be the three branches -- congress, the executive, and the courts -- that we considered the make-up of our nation’s federal government. And some would point to the press as a possible fourth branch, due to the virtue of its influence in shaping our policies. Today, more and more people have come to view corporate and foreign lobby firms, with their preponderant clout and enormous power, as the official fourth branch of our nation’s government. Not only do I agree with them, I would even take it a step further and give them a higher status it certainly deserves. Operating invisibly under the radar of media and public scrutiny, lobby groups and foreign agents have become the ‘epicenter’ of our government, where former statesmen and ‘dime-a-dozen generals’ cash in on their connections and peddle their enormous influence to the highest bidders turned clients. These groups’ activities shape our nation’s policies and determine the direction of the flow of its taxpayer driven wealth, while to them the interests of the majority are considered irrelevant, and the security of the nation is perceived as inconsequential. In Part I of this series I used Saudi influence via its lobby and foreign agents by default as a case to illustrate how certain foreign interests, combined with their U.S. agents and benefactors, override the interests and security of the entire nation. This illustrative model case involved three major elements: the purchasing of a few ‘dime-a-dozen generals,’ bidding high in the auctioning of ‘former statesmen,’ and buying one or two ex-congressmen turned lobbyists. In addition, the piece emphasized the importance of the “Military Industrial Complex (MIC),” which became a de facto ‘foreign agent’ by the universally recognized principle of ‘mutual benefit.’ This article will attempt to illustrate the functioning of the above model in the case of another country, the Republic of Turkey, and its set of agents and operators in the US......(full article)

-Media Lens Cogitation-
Dangerous Minds 
by David Edwards

Few tasks are more challenging than that of attending to our subtle, internal responses to the world against the deafening roar of what is deemed obviously true. Writing in the 1930s, the anarchist Rudolf Rocker made the point that the state is not a disinterested spectator on the issue of freedom of thought . . . In our society, education policy, schools, curricula, professional training, cultural presumptions, media output, our deepest notions of what is true and important in life, are all filtered by the founding frameworks of profit and power. Where does the capacity to think for ourselves, to take ourselves seriously, fit into this framework? (full article)

Palestinians are Being Denied the Right to Non-Violent Resistance:
Human Rights Watch Has Lost its Moral Bearings
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

If one thing offers a terrifying glimpse of where the experiment in human despair that is Gaza under Israeli siege is leading, it is the news that a Palestinian woman in her sixties -- a grandmother -- chose last week to strap on a suicide belt and explode herself next to a group of Israeli soldiers invading her refugee camp. Despite the “Man bites dog” news value of the story, most of the Israeli media played down the incident. Not surprisingly: it is difficult to portray Fatma al-Najar as a crazed fanatic bent only the destruction of Israel. It is equally difficult not to pause and wonder at the reasons for her suicide mission: according to her family, one of her grandsons was killed by the Israeli army, another is in a wheelchair after his leg had to be amputated, and her house had been demolished. Or not to think of the years of trauma she and her family have suffered living in a open-air prison under brutal occupation, and now, since the “disengagement”, the agonizing months of grinding poverty, slow starvation, repeated aerial bombardments, and the loss of essentials like water and electricity. Or not to ponder at what it must have been like for her to spend every day under a cloud of fear, to be powerless against a largely unseen and malign force, and to never know when death and mutilation might strike her or her loved ones. Or not to imagine that she had been longing for the moment when the soldiers who have been destroying her family’s lives might show themselves briefly, coming close enough that she could see and touch them, and wreak her revenge. Yet Western observers, and the organizations that should represent the very best of their Enlightenment values, seem incapable of understanding what might drive a grandmother to become a suicide bomber. Their empathy fails them, and so does their humanity.....
(full article)

War Chic 
by Lucinda Marshall

The November issue of the magazine Marie Clare did an outstanding job of remedying the media’s woeful lack of coverage of the impact of war on fashion. With several hard-hitting articles and a photo spread, MC gives this aspect of war reporting it’s proper due. The magazine scored a real coup by getting the first print interview ever with Lynndie England since her incarceration for her role in Abu Ghraib. The first paragraph immediately gives us what we want to know.....(full article)

Stealing Green 
by Charles Shaw

Mega-corps GE, BP and Wal-Mart have joined the chorus for sustainability by re-branding themselves as green companies. A pioneering green business consultant contends it’s more than just PR....(full article)

Jon Tester’s Neopopulism: The Montana Formula 
by Joshua Frank

He’s not exactly the type of Democrat you’d be likely to see backslapping New York City fat cats on their way to an elaborate fundraiser for Hillary Clinton. In fact, Jon Tester, the senator-elect from Montana, isn’t your typical Democrat. He’s almost not a Democrat at all, or at least not the kind we’re used to seeing run around Washington these days. In fact Tester ran his campaign against Senator Conrad Burns (MT-R) on just that platform. He was tired of the scandals and dishonesty that engulf our national politics and professed that the polluted Beltway could use a little Montana house cleanin’. Voters agreed, and Burns, who had ties to the now incarcerated powerbroker Jack Abramoff, was defeated in one of the tightest races in state history. A State Senator and organic farmer by trade, Jon operates his family’s homestead just outside Big Sandy in northern Montana where the winter chills can chatter your teeth as early as mid-September. When I say he’s not really even a Democrat, that may be a bit of an understatement. Tester is essentially an NRA approved neo-populist with libertarian tendencies who wants to immediately redeploy troops from Iraq as well as repeal the PATRIOT Act. And although nobody would consider Tester an anti-globalization activist, his position on international trade is more in line with the protesters who shut down Seattle in 1999 than with the Democratic Leadership Council.....(full article)

Football, Twelve-Year-Old Boys, and Military Curfews:
A Review of Elizabeth Laird's A Little Piece of Ground

by Ron Jacobs

Most twelve year-old boys in the United States spend their days thinking about video games, sports, school work, and maybe that cute girl in homeroom. If their father is a store owner, chances are they have no other concerns, since money is not a problem. In Elizabeth Laird's novel A Little Piece of Ground (Haymarket Books, 2006), the twelve-year-old boys that serve as the story's protagonists also spend a lot of their time on the aforementioned concerns. However, they also live in Palestine under occupation. This fact alone makes their concerns considerably different than boys in the US and other western countries. Whether they want to or not, Karim, Jodi and Hopper have to live with the knowledge that the soldiers who affect every aspect of their public lives consider them the enemy.....
(full review)

A More “Meaningful” Understanding of US Democracy? 
by E.R. Bills

In an attempt to make the naturalization exam more “meaningful,” the US Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services recently announced that it was revising the testing content so that it dealt more specifically with an applicant’s understanding of democracy rather than trivia. Citizenship candidates used to face occasional “gimme” questions like “What is the color of the President’s house?” Now it sounds like they’ll be expected to have a working knowledge of the most ambiguous tenet of American politics: how our democracy actually works.....(full article)

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