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(DV) February 2007 Articles

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February 27

Assets of Reported CIA Front-Man Frozen in Turkey 
by Devlin Buckley

A court in Turkey has ruled to freeze the assets of Yasin al-Qadi, a one-time acquaintance of Vice President Dick Cheney and reported “chief money launderer” of Osama bin Laden. Al-Qadi, prior to being publicly identified as a key al-Qaeda financer, owned a prominent U.S. technology firm and reported CIA front known as Ptech. He also escorted U.S. officials around during their visits to Saudi Arabia....(full article)

Honk for Suzi's Freedom: The Hazahzas in Haskell Hell
by Greg Moses

For many miles of his protest walks, whether against border walls or children's prisons, Jay Johnson-Castro has walked alone. His four-day walk from Abilene to Haskell, Texas this week may be no different, as he protests the cruel and unusual treatment of the Hazahza family and immigrant prisoners like them. But there are two things to remember about Jay's walk this week. The first thing is how many people will be honking. “There are literally thousands of people every day who honk, wave, and take photographs as they drive by,” Jay explains over the telephone from his home in Del Rio. “They don't walk. Nobody wants to walk. But they honk in solidarity with no walls, with no prisons for children. By the time the walk against the wall got to McAllen and Brownsville, there was a chorus of horns nonstop from both directions. So if there is a perception that there is only one man walking, there is also the reality of the vast majority of people honking that they are offended and disgusted by a wall on American soil, or a prison for children.” The second thing to remember is how cruel are the conditions at Haskell prison. It's bad enough that convicted criminals are exported there from Wyoming. Who can justify such treatment for immigrant families whose only alleged wrongdoing is having an American address? (full article)

The Less Docile American
Further Reflections on an American General Strike 
by Zbignew Zingh

A few weeks ago, “The Docile American (The Nexus of God, Labor, Health Care and the Fear to Strike)” was posted at Dissident Voice and subsequently at other sites on the web. The responses ranged from “huzzahs” to some pointed skepticism about the viability of a general strike in the United States. Because many of the comments raised valid issues not directly addressed in the original article, I want to address some of them here.....(full article)  

American Plutocracy and the War on Workers  
by Charles Sullivan

The American workplace is a strange and foreboding environment in which the worker enjoys few freedoms and protections. It is a decidedly undemocratic place where, strangely, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights hold but little sway. Anyone who doubts this should take a job at Target or Wal-Mart and openly discuss forming a union. I have been escorted from more than one workplace for attempting to organize the workers. I speak from experience. Typically, the American workplace has a hierarchical structure, usually with a white male presiding at the top of the organization, dictating policy and issuing orders. The workers, who produce the wealth by manufacturing a product or performing services, have little or no say in company policy or how the work is performed. While few workers are willing to view the workplace in such austere terms for reasons that should be obvious, the American place of work is essentially a plantation, a dictatorship, with a master and a bevy of slaves following orders in exchange for subsistence wages....(full article)

Missile Defense Redux
by Ron Jacobs

Huh? According to Condi Rice, the US attempt to put missile shields in Poland and the Czech Republic is to counter some future Iranian missile threat? What would that be? Does Tehran want to conquer Poland? For its strategic position, perhaps? Or maybe to set up an outpost of the Revolutionary Guard? This tale of Ms. Rice's proves that she not only thinks the US public is gullible, but she thinks they are stupid. In addition, she doesn't have much of an opinion of the Russians either, who are pretty upset about the US attempt to extend its missile shield to Russian borders. To those Russians, Rice dismissed their concern, stating: "Anyone who knows anything about this will tell you there is no way that 10 interceptors in Poland and radar sites in the Czech Republic are a threat to Russia, that they are somehow going to diminish Russia's deterrent of thousands of warheads."........(full article)

Writing the American Dream: An Interview with Novelist Mike Palecek
by Mickey Z.

I read Mike Palecek's latest novel, The American Dream, as I traveled to visit family. The experience of enduring both airport security (sic) and the sanitized airplane environment served an appropriately eerie backdrop for a book like this. No more than a few degrees from what currently passes for reality, The American Dream is a societal vision that hits too close to home(land) to be called a futuristic satire. Channeling both Orwell and Bill Hicks (with perhaps a touch of Chuck Palahniuk), Palecek has created more than a powerful and engaging novel; he has let loose a global wake-up call. At first glance, Palecek hardly fits the "global wake-up call" profile. "I started out what some might call a good American," he says. "I grew up in Norfolk, Nebraska, home of Johnny Carson, watching his show on TV, playing football, baseball, driving a '56 Chevy station wagon." From there, Palecek's restlessness led him to a monastery in Oregon, the diocesan seminary for the archdiocese of Omaha in Saint Paul, a life-changing meeting with Fr. Dan Berrigan, and getting arrested at Offutt Air Force Base, outside of Omaha. "It was maybe 1980 or '81," Palacek says of his first arrest. "I remember it raining. I sat down and cried. It was just this overwhelming feeling that I wasn't part of America anymore and even though I had to do it, I was going to miss it." I interviewed Mike via e-mail during the first week of January 2007.....(full article)

Impeachment Spring 2007
by Ted Glick

Faced with the maddening intransigence of Bush and Cheney and the unsurprising timidity of Pelosi and Reid when it comes to the war and related issues, it’s time for the entire progressive movement to unite RIGHT NOW in a collective, urgent campaign for the impeachment of the top two liars, torturers and war criminals who are occupying the White House. We should demand this not just because it’s the right thing to do, which it absolutely is. We should do it because it’s the course of action which has the most chance of preventing an expansion of the war into Iran and increasing the chances that the Democrats and some Republicans are forced to get serious about legislation that can reverse course on Iraq. Some progressives argue that we should forget about impeachment because Nancy Pelosi has told John Conyers to cool it, that it’s “off the table,” and, in those progressives’ view, that makes impeachment unrealistic.  The question is, what do these progressives see as the alternative? What else has the potential to focus the massive and wide-ranging discontent within the U.S. citizenry, the 58% of the population, according to a recent poll, who wish that the Bush Administration was history right now? (full article)

February 26

“Controversial” Hypocrisy
US Support for Terror Groups in Iran  
by Gary Leupp

According to the London Sunday Telegraph (Feb. 25), the CIA is supporting opposition militias in Iran rooted among national minorities “that resort to terrorist methods in pursuit of their grievances against the Iranian regime.” Such methods include “bombing and assassination campaigns against soldiers and government officials.” The terrorist actions, funded directly from the CIA’s secret budget, are conducted by discontented Azeries, Kurds, Arabs and Baluchis who collectively comprise about 40% of Iran’s population. The paper quotes Fred Burton, a former State Department counter-terrorism agent: “The latest attacks inside Iran fall in line with US efforts to supply and train Iran’s ethnic minorities to destabilise the Iranian regime.” That is to say, the US is deliberately exploiting ethnic divisions in Iran to destabilize the country -- precisely what it has accused Iran of trying to do in Iraq.....
(full article)

American Enterprise Institute Takes Lead in Agitating Against Iran 
by Bill Berkowitz

After doing such a bang up job with their advice and predictions about the outcome of the war on Iraq, would it surprise you to learn that America's neoconservatives are still in business? While at this time we are not yet seeing the same intense neocon invasion of our living rooms -- via cable television's news networks -- that we saw during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq, nevertheless, a host of policy analysts at conservative think tanks -- most notably the American Enterprise Institute -- are being heeded on Iran by those who count - folks inside the Bush Administration. Long before the Bush Administration began escalating its rhetoric and upping the ante about the supposed "threat" posed to the US by Iran, well-paid inside-the-beltway think tankers were agitating for some kind of action against that country. Some have argued for ratcheting up sanctions and freezing bank accounts, others have advocated increasing financial aid to opposition groups, and still others have argued that a military strike at Iran's nuclear facilities is absolutely essential. For all, the desired end result is regime change in Iran. If President Bush plunges the U.S. into some kind of military conflict with Iran, you can thank the Washington, D.C.-based American Enterprise Institute (AEI), a key player in the current debate over Iran.....(full article)

“An American Strike on Iran is Essential for Our Existence”
AIPAC Demands “Action” on Iran  
by Gary Leupp

Former CIA counterterrorism specialist Philip Giraldi, comparing the propaganda campaign against Iran to that which preceded the war on Iraq, has recently declared, “It is absolutely parallel. They’re using the same dance steps -- demonize the bad guys, the pretext of diplomacy, keep out of negotiations, use proxies. It is Iraq redux.” He’s only one of many in his field (including Vincent Cannistraro, Ray McGovern, and Larry C. Johnson) doing their best to expose the Bush-Cheney neocon disinformation campaign according to which Iran is planning to produce nukes in order to commit genocide, while abetting terrorists in Iraq who are killing American troops. Their efforts, and those of many others, are producing results. The mainstream corporate press is fortunately far more skeptical about administration claims pertaining to Iran than it ever was towards the equally specious claims made about Iraq on the eve of the 2003 invasion. The American people are now inclined to distrust claims made by nameless officials about Quds Force-provisioned IEDs (EFPs), etc., supposedly smuggled by “meddling” Iranians into Iraq. Unfortunately the Congress dominated by Democrats elected in a popular expression of antiwar sentiment has not taken a firm stance against an attack on Iran based on lies. Maybe given the nature of the power structure it simply can’t. Giraldi matter-of-factly sums up the unfortunate politics of the situation.....
(full article)

Feeding 18,000 Families Each Month in One Neighborhood in New Orleans: The Right to Return Eighteen Months after Katrina  
by Bill Quigley

Each morning, Debra South Jones drives 120 miles into New Orleans to cook and serve over 300 hot free meals each day to people in New Orleans East, where she lived until Katrina took her home. Ms. Jones and several volunteers also distribute groceries to 18,000 families a month through their group, Just the Right Attitude. Who comes for food? "Most of the people are working on their own houses because they can't afford contractors," Ms. Jones said. "They are living in their gutted-out houses with no electricity." Why do thousands of people need food and why are people living in gutted-out houses with no electricity?  Look at New Orleans eighteen months after Katrina and you will realize why it is so difficult for people to exercise the human right to return to their homes.....(full article)

The Really Big Lie About Autism: The 2007 CDC Autism Study  
by Anne McElroy Dachel

About six months ago I wrote a piece called "The Really Big Lie About Autism" in which I described the persistent yet illogical claim that all the autistic kids filling speech therapy sessions, classrooms, and even whole schools, are the result of "better diagnosing and greater awareness" on the part of doctors. In other words, autism has always been a major childhood disorder; we just didn't recognize it for what it was. That article focused on the Really Big Lie About Autism as told to parents by the medical community. Regardless of the number of autistic kids sitting in their waiting rooms, doctors are satisfied that it's all due to their keener sense of observation. The Really Big Lie About Autism has just been updated and expanded.....
(full article)

The Coordinator Class 
by Eric Patton

Is there a coordinator class? The question seems too ridiculous to even consider. (Though “ridiculous” is in the eye of the beholder.) So let’s do it. To a Marxist, class relations spring entirely from ownership relations. There are people who own General Motors. These people are capitalists. There are people who work at General Motors. These people are workers. But who runs General Motors, day-to-day? Not the capitalists. There aren’t enough of them to go around. And certainly not the workers. That should be a point so obvious as to require not even a single sentence to justify it. So who runs GM? (full article)

Irritating the Dead: The War State of America 
by Michael Browne

There are layers of agenda. Our current Commander in Chief, George Bush, hit to the heart of the essence when he said quite matter-of-factly in his recent press address, "Money trumps … ummm … peace, sometimes." To this writer's knowledge, no one picked up on that statement and it was one of those rare moments when our pathological President spoke the 'honest' truth. The idea that we are exporting democracy to the heart of the Middle East is in every respect a complete absurdity. Such a goal, however desirably it might reflect our own founding myths, is to the rationally trained historian and academy trained strategist at best a very long term and infinitely complex process. But ideology is an impatient beast and prowls by violent  hunger, most often irrespective of the wisdom of historical perspective. What is revealed by current history in handling the Iraq war is a tangle of corporate colonialism that impatiently sought to capture the world's second largest oil reserves in the very heart of the Middle East and establish a permanent American military presence in the region to guarantee the security of Iraq's vanquished natural resources and its protected route of transport to ports in the south. The same perspective applied to Afghanistan once the Taliban, former American funded provocateurs, became too difficult to control. Naturally 9/11 became the rallying cry for every possible destructive impulse that ideology could contrive. That ideology we know well as neo-conservatism.....(full article)

February 24

Another US Military Assault on Media 
by Dahr Jamail and Ali al-Fadhily

Iraqi journalists are outraged over yet another US military raid on the media. US soldiers raided and ransacked the offices of the Iraq Syndicate of Journalists (ISJ) in central Baghdad Tuesday this week. Ten armed guards were arrested, and 10 computers and 15 small electricity generators kept for donation to families of killed journalists were seized. This is not the first time US troops have attacked the media in Iraq, but this time the raid was against the very symbol of it. Many Iraqis believe the US soldiers did all they could to deliver the message of their leadership to Iraqi journalists to keep their mouth shut about anything going wrong with the US-led occupation....
(full article)

Rice's Jerusalem Summit: More About Regime Change Than Peace  
by Ira Glunts

Despite the grand and hopeful proclamations of Condoleeza Rice, in which she pledged a major US commitment to promoting a two-state solution in the region, the real reason for her visit to Jerusalem this week was to continue the relentless pressure on the Palestinians to replace the democratically-elected Hamas government with one led by Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party. The United States, which considers Hamas to be a terrorist group, has refused to recognize its government and has worked toward its removal since Hamas first came to power. Toward this end, the Americans have enlisted the European Union, UN, and Russia (the four known as the Quartet) in imposing an economic and political boycott that has had a crippling effect on both the Palestinian government and society. This boycott has isolated the government internationally and caused great economic hardship upon a people already dealing with the ravages of an ongoing Israeli military occupation. Recently, the political rivalry between Hamas and Fatah escalated into large-scale violence, which has already caused at least 80 deaths, hundreds of injuries and threatens to mushroom into a extremely destructive civil war....(full article)

Apartheid Looks Like This
Another Small Indignity at an Israeli Checkpoint   
by Jonathan Cook

The scene: a military checkpoint deep in Palestinian territory in the West Bank. A tall, thin elderly man, walking stick in hand, makes a detour past the line of Palestinians, many of them young men, waiting obediently behind concrete barriers for permission from an Israeli soldier to leave one Palestinian area, the city of Nablus, to enter another Palestinian area, the neighboring village of Huwara. The long queue is moving slowly, the soldier taking his time to check each person’s papers. The old man heads off purposefully down a parallel but empty lane reserved for vehicle inspections. A young soldier controlling the human traffic spots him and orders him back in line. The old man stops, fixes the soldier with a stare and refuses. The soldier looks startled and uncomfortable at the unexpected show of defiance. He tells the old man more gently to go back to the queue. The old man stands his ground. After a few tense moments, the soldier relents and the old man passes. Is the confrontation revealing of the soldier’s humanity? That is not the way it looks -- or feels -- to the young Palestinians penned in behind the concrete barriers. They can only watch the scene in silence. None would dare to address the soldier in the manner the old man did -- or take his side had the Israeli been of a different disposition. An old man is unlikely to be detained or beaten at a checkpoint. Who, after all, would believe he attacked or threatened a soldier, or resisted arrest, or was carrying a weapon? But the young men know their own injuries or arrests would barely merit a line in Israel’s newspapers, let alone an investigation. And so, the checkpoints have made potential warriors of Palestine’s grandfathers at the price of emasculating their sons and grandsons.....(full article

All Roads Lead to Checkpoints 
by Remi Kanazi

There may have been a period when all roads led to Rome, but for the Palestinian people, all roads lead to checkpoints. The latest checkpoint Palestinians find themselves at is not manned by Israel but rather the ostensible mediator of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the Quartet (which is comprised of the US, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas came to this latest checkpoint on behalf of the Palestinian people in hopes of passing through and finding an extension of the peace process on the other side. The reason Abbas wasn’t permitted through? For the first time since the passing of Yasser Arafat, he refused to leave the interests of the Palestinian people behind.....(full article)

The Ground Truth: Interview with Patricia Foulkrod  
by Mike Reizman

For a few tips on making a good documentary, I interviewed Patricia Foulkrod. She is the director/producer of The Ground Truth, which was on the shortlist of 15 documentary features considered for a 2006 Oscar nomination. Patricia has worked on both documentaries and feature films. Among her credits, the documentary, They’re Doing My Time, is about children with mothers in prison. She produced and directed that film, and later was executive producer on its fictional adaptation, starring Angela Bassett. At the heart of The Ground Truth are harrowing interviews with Iraq war vets, men and women, and the parents of a vet who committed suicide, plus interviews with wives, girlfriends, and members of support groups. These interviews fit within the general progression of the film, from induction, boot camp, and war, to homecoming.....(full article)

Marching On the Pentagon March 17th, 2007 
by Ron Jacobs

The first time I remember going inside the Pentagon was in 1969 when I was 14. My dad was coming back from Vietnam and his next assignment was Germany. For some reason we had to go to the Pentagon for something having to do with our upcoming trip. The thing I remember most was its vastness. It was the largest building I had ever been in. In fact, it remains the largest building I have ever been in. A year or two earlier, I was in the locker room at the junior high I attended in suburban Maryland getting ready for gym class. A friend of mine was talking about his sister coming home from college for the weekend. Apparently, his parents were a little upset because the real reason she was leaving her school in New York was to attend the October 27, 1967 protest against the war in Vietnam at the Pentagon. I asked him what he thought and all he said was that he wished he could go. So did I.....(full article)

February 22

Habeas Writ for Hazahza Family Details Allegations of Sexual Harassment, Medical Neglect, Overcrowding, and Isolation Techniques
by Greg Moses

There are different kinds of angry. Jay Johnson-Castro has tears in his eyes when he thinks about Suzi Hazahza at the immigration prison of Haskell, Texas. But he's not going to cry without doing something, so next week, Johnson-Castro will walk sixty miles from Abilene to Haskell and hold a vigil for the release of Suzi Hazahza and "anyone else" being mistreated for their desire to be American. "I'm almost in tears trying to tell you how angry I feel," says Johnson-Castro via cell phone as he drives home to Del Rio, Texas on Tuesday evening following three weeks of border protests. He's talking now about 20-year-old Suzi Hazahza and how she was subjected to body searches so humiliating that she has refused all visitors since early December. In a federal habeas corpus brief that will be filed Wednesday in Dallas, lawyers allege that both Suzi and her 23-year-old sister Mirvat have been subjected to repeated humiliations at the hands of prison guards. And according to Suzi's fiancé, the searches got even worse after his fifth visit when Suzi called begging not to be visited again.....(full article

Iran in Iraq 
by Media Lens

Media corporations have an awesome ability to fail to learn even the most obvious lessons from the recent past. In discussing allegations made against Iran in 2007, for example, it is often as though Iraq 2002-2003 never happened. The same journalists receiving the same propaganda from the same government sources respond with the same credulity and the same indifference to the human consequences. On February 16, the US media watchdog, FAIR, recalled how, in the wake of its disastrous pre-war reporting on Iraq, the New York Times had “implemented new rules governing its use of unnamed sources.” How exasperating, then, that the Times’ lead story on February 10 promoting US government charges against Iran trashed these rules completely.....(full article)

The Final Punch: Removing Iran From the New Middle East Equation  
by Ramzy Baroud

The configuration of the New Middle East, as envisaged by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during the Israeli war against Lebanon in July-August 2006, most certainly has no place for more than one regional power broker, namely Israel. Under such an arrangement, subservient Arabs and Iran, governed by an all powerful Israel and supervised even from afar by the seemingly philanthropic United States, would ensure Israel’s ‘security’, which has for long served as a casus belli, and supposed American interests in the region; regardless of what one thinks of such logic, in Washington it is still prevailing. With the elimination of Iraq -- not just Saddam Hussein and his Baath Party as some in the mainstream media tirelessly reiterate, but rather Iraq as a strong Arab nation with immense regional influence -- the long sought pact is close at hand. Iran, however, remains the only menacing reality that stands between Israel and its powerful Washingtonian allies and this New Middle East.....(full article)

Economic Inequality is Real (Bad) 
by Joel S. Hirschhorn

Rising American economic inequality has received attention by Senator Jim Webb, presidential candidate John Edwards, CNN’s maverick Lou Dobbs, and others.  The middle class has not shared in rising national prosperity, because the nation’s wealth has been siphoned off to the richest Americans. Some elites are nervous. They have attacked what are pejoratively called “neopopulists” -- people who say the middle class is under siege. Surprisingly, the attack and economic propaganda have come from the relatively unknown Third Way group that is associated with the Democratic Leadership Council.  Why would self-proclaimed progressives and centrists put out a report that says the whole economic inequality story is bogus? (full article)

Suicide Risk of Neurontin Kept Hidden for Years 
by Evelyn Pringle

The all-time poster child for a drug illegally promoted for off-label uses is Neurontin, marketed by Warner-Lambert and its Parke-Davis division until Pfizer acquired the company in 2000. The term "off-label" means prescribing a drug for indications not listed on the label, upping the recommended dose, prescribing a drug in combination with other medications, or using a drug with a patient population, such as children, not listed on the label. As part of the approval process, the FDA reviews the drug's labeling, which must include the proposed claims about the drug's risks and benefits, as well as the directions for use. If an indication is not listed, it means the drug maker has not submitted the required studies to prove the drug is safe and effective for that use. While physicians may prescribe a drug approved by the FDA for an unapproved use, it's against the law for a drug maker to influence doctors to prescribe a drug for uses outside the label. Pfizer completed the acquisition of Warner-Lambert in June 2000, and four years later in May 2004, Pfizer pleaded guilty to illegally marketing Neurontin for unapproved uses and agreed to pay a $430 million, the second-largest settlement ever in a health care fraud prosecution, to settle charges brought by the US Department of Justice that included defrauding public health care programs.....(full article)

-- Interview with Jeffrey St. Clair --
The Real Story of the Clintons: The Art of Politics Without Conscience
by Alan Maass

Jeffrey St. Clair is coeditor of the muckraking Web site and newsletter CounterPunch. He is the author of numerous books, most recently End Times: The Death of the Fourth Estate, a collection of essays about the media written with Alexander Cockburn that will appear in March. Alan Maass interviewed St. Clair about Clintonian politics, and what Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign bodes for the future.....(full interview)

French Elections 2007: An American-Style Horse Race 
by Matt Reichel

. . .  Four years later, Chirac is headed for retirement, having been hung out to dry by successive crises: first massive protest to the proposed EU constitution, then widespread violence in France’s poor and immigrant communities, and then protest to the new labor contract for French youth (the Contrat Premiere Embauche (CPE)). In other words, his domestic policies weren’t in line with France’s burgeoning social movements. The lesson should be that France needs a leader more to the left: ready and willing to stand up against the liberalizing direction of Europe. Unfortunately, what they are getting from the mainstream parties in the April 22 elections is absolutely despicable.....(full article)

Racism: The Growth Engine of the American Prison Gulag 
by Glen Ford

By 2011, the US prison and jail population will have added nearly 200,000 inmates -- a 13 percent overall increase and a 16 percent jump for women, according to a 50-state study by the Pew Charitable Trusts. About half these new inmates will be Blacks, whose mass confinement is the imperative that fuels the relentless growth of the largest and most pervasive Gulag in the history of mankind. The US prison system is a horrific national monument to racism, that dwarfs and mocks the Statue of Liberty, revealing the United States as by far the planet's foremost Land of the Un-Free, Home of the Locked-Down -- a rebuke to the authenticity of the Emancipation Proclamation......(full article)

Osama Wants Your Mortgage 
by Mickey Z.

George W. Bush has pulled no punches in describing how he feels about his enemies. "Our war against terror is a war against individuals whose hearts are full of hate," he says, brimming with sincerity. Why are those hearts full of hate, you ask? As always, Dubya's got the answers: "People say, well, why-and I know a lot of kids are probably asking, well, why America? And you've just got to understand that the enemy hates us because of what we love." So, we wonder, what do "we" love that "they" love to hate?
(full article)

The Stench of the Plame Affair
The Obfuscation of Justice 
by Jack Random

Early in the movie Philadelphia, there is a poignant moment when the attorney portrayed by Denzel Washington first confronts potential client Tom Hanks with the request: “Explain it to me like I’m seven years old.” Though I may have misquoted, that line has been running through my mind as I’ve observed the unfolding of a peculiar form of justice in the trial of Lewis “Scooter” Libby.....(full article)

February 20

Google-ized: An Interview with Adam Engel 
by Kim Petersen

On 23 January of this year, in response to censoring the highly information-packed website Uruknet, I sent an e-mail to Google News urging it to keep its internet search engine open. The same day, I received a format reply: "Thank you for your note about Google News. This is an automated response to let you know that we appreciate your interest and feedback. Please note that this e-mail address is no longer active." There was no follow-up from Google News. Dissident Voice has expressed concerns about Google News' censorship. DV publisher and editor Sunil Sharma suspected that Google News was removing links because of pressure "from readers who don't want others to read the kinds of views expressed by . . . Dissident Voice generally." Google's unofficial slogan is "Don't be Evil." It seems that such a slogan should be applied to oneself above all. Evil aside, Google has put itself in a position of, what can only be construed as, being a censor of information; for example, its decision to violate the openness of the internet by censoring Uruknet from its news service, collaboration with Chinese regime, and removing certain sites from google ads, such as controversial Ziopedia. Yet Google has grown immensely in popularity as a search engine and email server. Its name has even become a verb for searching the internet. Hotmail and Yahoo are also problematic e-mail accounts from a progressivist standpoint. So, what should progressives do to avoid entanglement with corporations that violate progressivist principles? I turned to the computer-internet savvy Adam Engel.....(full interview)

Cleaning Up Greenpoint's Oil Spill: Brooklynites Deserve Better  
by Joshua Frank

You have to wonder why it has taken so long. It happened over 57 years ago when ExxonMobil leaked at least 17 million gallons of oil in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Greenpoint. The 55-acre spill, which is estimated to have been larger than the Exxon Valdez catastrophe, went undiscovered until the late 1970s. Since then little has been done to hold the guilty parties accountable. But on February 8, New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo finally filed notices of intent to sue ExxonMobil and several other companies to force a massive clean up of the polluted neighborhood. Tons of oil still plagues nearby Newton Creek, where studies have shown that dried sediment samples when weighed are made up of one-tenth oil. Unfortunately, under Eliot Spitzer's reign as attorney general, ExxonMobil had little to worry about. Aside from a few lawsuits levied by Greenpoint residents and environmental groups, New York State did little to pressure ExxonMobil to remediate the ecological tragedy.....(full article)

Bush's Inappropriate Invasion of Iraq   
by Ahmed Amr

Get out your beltway dictionaries. It's time to translate Feith-based intelligence from Pentagonese to plain English. A long delayed three year internal Pentagon review has determined that Douglas Feith orchestrated the deliberate and systematic corruption of pre-war intelligence. As a consequence, the Pentagon's inspector general has rendered the verdict that Feith's conduct was 'inappropriate' but 'authorized' and 'legal.' An indignant Feith was quick to take exception to the Inspector's finding. He defended his record of falsifying intelligence as 'good government.' The unrepentant Likudnik was quoted as saying "I disagree with the inspector general's opinions here mainly because, if heeded, they would discourage policy officials from asking tough questions about the quality of CIA work." Even in Pentagonese  --  that spells Chutzpah.....(full article)

The Numbers Just Don't Add Up (and "They" Still Have the Guns)  
by Mickey Z. 

In the Vietnam War protest song "Five to One," Jim Morrison of The Doors sings: 

The old get old/And the young get stronger 
May take a week/And it may take longer 
They got the guns/But we got the numbers 
Gonna win, yeah/We're takin' over 
In my youth, I took solace in the whole "we got the numbers" thing. The very idea filled with me hope . . . but little did I know, the ones with the guns have had it all figured out for a very, very long time. Philosopher David Hume, in 1758, explained it this way: "As force is always on side of the governed, the governors have nothing to support them but opinion. It is, therefore, on opinion only that government is founded and this maxim extends to the most despotic and most military governments as well as to the most free and most popular.".....(full article)

February 19

“A Genocidal, Suicidal Nation”
Mitt Romney Joins Iran's Hysterical Accusers  
by Gary Leupp

Bizarre though it sounds, more and more public figures in the US, echoing Israeli officials, are accusing Iran of genocide. More accurately, of planning genocide, although past and future get all confused in the increasingly reckless rhetoric. Former Massachusetts governor and presidential aspirant Mitt Romney is the latest important politician to level the accusation. In an interview with ABC News' George Stephanopoulos on February 17, he characterized Iran as "a genocidal nation, a suicidal nation, in some respects.".....(full article)

Feeding the Cauldron 
by Chohong Choi

Remember the famous saying, “Those who fail to learn from history are condemned to repeat it”? “Nonsense,” countered one of my history professors in one of my undergraduate courses. “Those who read up on history are still doomed to repeat it!” He must have foretold the actions of the current Bush Administration. Someone in it (probably not Bush himself) must have read up on history, but the ones who call the shots seemed to have conveniently picked out which parts they wanted to remember, and which to forget. Desert Storm in 1991 was one part they wanted to remember. It was supposed to have laid the ghosts of Vietnam to rest. Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, it was the last major commitment of the US Military and the last war that could be deemed even half a success. But another of my history professors disparaged it as “not a war, but an excursion,” and that was what Bush and his gang intended for their own Iraq war to be, and even go one better than their Desert Storm predecessors by finishing the job of deposing Saddam Hussein. This happened, and Saddam was left to swing (and tragically led a few kids to copy him). But this Iraq war has become more of an air ball than a slam-dunk. Yet, the White House plans to increase troop levels in Iraq by over 20,000. This is evidence of its failure to learn from the lessons presented by an even earlier war that took place in the Middle Eastern Desert.....
(full article)

The Terror of Suzi Hazahza: Why Her Family Must be Freed  
by Greg Moses 

Tasting the food that Suzi Hazahza cooked for him on that first Thursday in November, Reza Barkhordari couldn't have been more joyful. He went to Suzi's house every night after work, to sit with her whole family. And each night, the wedding drew a day closer. "We met at a local Middle Eastern coffee shop in Richardson, Texas called the Al-Afrah," recalls Reza over the telephone. "That's where I saw her for the first time, and it was instant connection. It was so strong that Suzi's mother noticed and helped in connecting the two of us. Shortly after that Suzi and I both realized it was something that was meant to be and we would be spending our whole lives together. That was on August 6, 2005." "I proposed to her on August 6, 2006, our first anniversary. My mother encouraged me to do it, and she sent a diamond ring to Suzi. We were to be married over the Christmas holidays." In preparation for the wedding, Reza invited the Hazahza family to move closer to his home in Plano, where it would be easier to keep everyone in daily contact. On the first Monday in November, they were to close on a home in Frisco. What American dream could have seemed more complete? The first Friday of November, however, found Reza driving to the Dallas offices of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in search of the love of his life. Suzi and her entire family had been rounded up at gunpoint.....(full article)

Last Sunday: Liberal Icons and the Problem
of Bipartisan Empire-Building 
by Robert Jensen

In a political culture defined by a centrist-to-reactionary political spectrum, Paul Wellstone was a breath of fresh air when he brought his progressive politics to the US Senate in 1991. His death in 2002 robbed the country of a humane voice on the national political stage. I lived for a time in Minnesota and followed Wellstone’s career closely. The last time I saw him speak was December 1998 when I was part of a peace group that conducted a sit-in at his office to protest his support for a US attack on Iraq and force a meeting to challenge the former anti-war activist’s hawkish turn. Yes, that’s right -- a group sat in at Wellstone’s St. Paul office when he supported Bill Clinton’s illegal 1998 cruise missile attack on Iraq, which was the culmination of a brutal and belligerent US policy during that Democratic administration. It might seem odd to recall such a small part of contemporary history when the United States is mired in a full-scale occupation of Iraq, but there’s an important lesson in this little bit of history -- one that’s is often difficult for many liberals and Democrats to face.....(full article)

Inter-American Development Bank: Has It Learned from Its Past?   
by Sarah Mertz

Walking past the Washington DC headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), you will see posters advertising the new exhibit in their cultural center; Guatemala: Past and Future in honor of the upcoming annual meeting to be held in Guatemala City next month. Complete with interactive digital renderings of the pre-Columbian city of Tikal, the exhibit was created in a "tribute to the Mayan Nation." The display opened on February 7 and was "conceived with an optimistic view toward the future while learning lessons from the past." I am curious what lessons the IDB has learned from the last thirty years and the role the Bank played in failed "development" projects, forced displacement and deaths of Mayan farmers.....(full article and action alert)

Born-Again Killer Rios Montt Plans Run for Guatemalan Congress   
by Dan Bacher

Former Guatemalan dictator General Jose Efrain Rios Montt, who prosecuted a Reagan administration-supported war of genocide against the Mayan population, on January 17, 2007 announced that he plans to run for Congress in September. This would provide him with immunity from prosecution on the charges of genocide and other violations of human rights during the country's 36-year civil war, according to SOA (School of Americas) Watch. Members of the country's Congress enjoy immunity from prosecution unless they are suspended from office by a court. "I am certain and sure" of getting a seat in Congress, Rios Montt, told a news conference. Rios Montt, who continues to be an influential and powerful politician in Guatemala, ran for the presidency in 2004 and finished third (Associated Press, January 17). The  Spanish National Court has charged the former dictator, who attended a "special course" in the 1950  at the SOA (now called WHINSEC -- the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation), with the crimes of genocide, torture, terrorism and illegal detention. In July 2006, Spanish Judge Santiago Pedraz issued warrants for the arrest of General Ríos Montt and several other former senior officials.....(full article)

Anarchists Resist the Wall 
by Jonathan Pollak

Jonathan Pollak, an activist with Anarchists Against the Wall was sentenced to three months in prison, that will be activated if he is convicted of a similar charge again. Pollak was sentenced today after he was convicted together with 10 other activists for blocking a road in Tel Aviv in protest of the construction of the wall. He asked the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court to sentence him to jail time rather than community service or a suspended sentence, saying he has no intention to stop resisting the occupation. The ten other convicted activists were sentenced to 80 hours of community service. In his sentencing statement Pollak said, "This trial, had it not taken place in a court of the occupation, in the democracy imposed on 3.5 million Palestinian subjects devoid of basic democratic liberties -- was supposed to be a trial of the wall. The same wall defined as illegal by the highest legal authority in the world; the same wall that serves as a political tool in the campaign of ethnic cleansing Israel is running in the occupied territories.".....(full article)

The Mecca Agreement: What Should We Expect? 
by Ramzy Baroud

The Makkah agreement, signed between rival Palestinian groups, Hamas and Fatah on February 8, under the auspices of the Saudi leadership, was welcomed by thousands of cheering Palestinians throughout the occupied territories, and seen as the closing of a chapter of a bloody and tumultuous period of their history. Officially, although more subtly, there is an equal eagerness to bring a halt to an oppressive command of economic and diplomatic sanctions that have rendered most Palestinians unemployed and living well below the poverty line. In fact, almost all Palestinians want to remember, if they must, the bloody clashes that claimed the lives of over 90 people since December as a distant memory, a bitter deviation from a norm of unity and national cohesion, according to which they want their struggle to be remembered......(full article)

One Man's Truth, Another Man's Lies
A Review of Richard North Patterson's
by Ron Jacobs

Truth, it is said, is often stranger than fiction. The converse of this adage is another that states that in fiction one often finds the truth. When one is dealing with history, both of these can be true and usually are. This is equally true when it comes to politics and war. And sometimes love. Richard North Patterson's latest novel Exile provides pertinent examples of all of these possibilities. Set in the very recent past, the novel opens with the story of a love affair between an essentially secular US Jewish man and a Palestinian woman during his last semester at Harvard Law School. The affair itself is complicated from the beginning because the woman, Hana Arif, is already betrothed to another Palestinian through an arrangement between the two Palestinians families. While the reader considers the stories of Hana and David Wolfe's interludes of lovemaking, the politics and history of the Jewish and Palestinian peoples make their appearance. Mr. Wolfe has little connection to his people's past while Ms. Arif lives with her people's history as an essential part of her being. Despite David's best attempts to force a transcendence of that history and to convince Hani to stay with him instead of going back to Palestine and marry the spouse already chosen for her, Saeb Khalid, he fails and leaves Cambridge. Meanwhile, the movements of two suicide bombers are related as they make their way to San Francisco thirteen years later.....(full review)

Michelle Manhart's Nudey Duty Exposes Uncle Sam's Hypocrisy
by E. Bills

I've been struggling with how to say this, so bear with me. There's just no civil way to put it. UNCLE SAM IS A HYPOCRITICAL, CHAUVINIST PIG! On February 9, 2007, Air Force Drill sergeant Michelle Manhart was demoted to senior airman and removed from active duty at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas for posing in February 2007 issue of Playboy. Under the heading "Tough Love," Manhart appeared in a six-page Playboy spread, shouting orders and holding weapons, in and out of uniform and sometimes totally nude. A 30-year-old mother of two, Manhart believes the Air Force's decision to relieve her of her duties was based on her having appeared in the magazine with her uniform on. "I'm disappointed with our system," she said. According to Lackland Air Force Base spokesperson, Oscar Balladares, Manhart's appearance in Playboy "does not meet the high standards we expect of our airmen, nor does it comply with the Air Force's core values of integrity, service before self, and excellence in all we do." I just have two questions..... (full article)

February 18

Iran: A Chronology of Disinformation
by Gary Leupp

Raw Story's inimitable Larisa Alexandrovna has recently written an excellent article detailing the neoconservatives' six-year long project to use American power to attack and produce regime change in Iran. Appended to the piece is a timeline including key Bush administration statements about Iran, "news" stories and neocon writings abetting efforts to vilify Iran, and the antics of such characters as former Congressman Curt Weldon, Iran-Contra arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar, and spy-for-Israel Larry Franklin who have worked to facilitate that attack. I've used it as the basis for this more elaborate (although surely incomplete and imperfect) chronology.....
(full article)


The US Propaganda Campaign Against Iran 
by Jeremy R. Hammond

The US government has stepped up its rhetoric against Iran this week with a presentation held in Baghdad designed to support the claim that, as worded by President Bush last month, "Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops." US officials said that weapons were being smuggled into Iraq by an elite unit of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard known as the Quds Force on orders "coming from the highest levels of the Iranian government." But, as the Washington Post observed, "The officials offered no evidence to substantiate allegations that the 'highest levels' of the Iranian government had sanctioned support for attacks against U.S. troops." That conclusion was admittedly an "inference", and the defense analyst present acknowledged the inconclusiveness of the evidence, saying, "The smoking gun of an Iranian standing over an American with a gun, it's never going to happen." The reason for the buzz, as the Post also accurately noted, was that, "Although the administration has made many assertions about Iran's nuclear program, its role in Iraq and its ties to groups on the State Department's terrorism list, the U.S. government has never publicly offered evidence proving the allegations." The presentation was the first attempt by the government to offer what it regards as evidence to substantiate the claims being made.....(full article)

Israel's Bomb, Iran's Pursuit of the Bomb and
US War Preparations (Pt III)
by Walter C. Uhler

Four years after the Bush administration duped Americans into believing that Saddam Hussein was somehow involved in the al Qaeda terrorist attacks that rocked the United States on 9/11, Bush administration officials -- prodded by Israel -- are now asking Americans to believe that Iran either has the bomb or is vigorously pursuing it. As former UN weapons inspector Scott Ritter put it in his recent book Target Iran, "the last thing the Bush administration wanted was to have the U.S. public pondering the possibility that Iran might not, after all, be pursuing a nuclear weapons program, but rather only a peaceful nuclear energy program." But, thanks to lies and deceit by Iran, as well as unsubstantiated allegations by the Bush administration and Israel, Iran's very attempt to exercise its legal rights to the nuclear fuel cycle under Article 4 of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is now viewed as proof of intent to build the bomb. Thus, for both Israel and the US, Iran's exercise of its Article 4 rights -- which has the overwhelming support of its citizens -- has become a reason for war.....(full article)

Information Warfare, Psy-ops and the Power of Myth  
by Mike Whitney

The bombing of the Golden Dome Mosque in Samarra is the cornerstone of Bush’s psychological operations (psy-ops) in Iraq. That’s why it is critical to have an independent investigation and discover who is really responsible. The bombing has been used as a “Pearl Harbor-type” event which has deflected responsibility for the 650,000 Iraqi casualties and more than three million refugees. These are the victims of American occupation not civil war. The bombing was concocted by men who believe they can control the public through perception management. In practical terms, this means that they create events that can be used to support their far-right doctrine. In this case, the destruction of the mosque has been used to confuse the public about the real origins of the rising sectarian tensions and hostilities. The fighting between Sunni and Shiite is the predictable upshot of random bombings and violence that bears the signature of covert operations carried out by intelligence organizations. Most of the pandemonium in Iraq is the result of counterinsurgency operations (black-ops) on a massive scale not civil war.....(full article)

Time to Change America by Challenging Economic Fundamentals  
by Richard C. Cook

Though headlines are dominated by the war in Iraq, everyone realizes there is  something wrong with the US economy.  But few have focused on the connection between the two. It is clear that the post-World War II era of worldwide dollar hegemony is beginning to slip. The ideas of a "New American Century" put forth by Washington-based neocons actually may represent a last-gasp attempt to use military force to hold onto a system whereby the US has supported its domestic economy through trade domination of most of the rest of the world. But the world has changed. The US produced half the world's GDP in 1950 vs. twenty percent in 2003. The nations of what used to be called the "Third World" are growing up. Increasingly, their vision does not include continuing as dependencies of the IMF, World Bank, and WTO, all of which have become instrumentalities of US corporate/global finance. They include many of the nations of mainland Asia, the Islamic world, Africa, and Latin America. There is also a resurgent Russia. US dogmas cause us to view these changes as hostile and ideological, even as a "clash of civilizations." It is this way of thinking, rather than viewing other nations and regions as having their own legitimate aspirations, that is contributing toward the possibility of a larger conflagration.....(full article)

Lawmakers and Lawyers Challenge Bush Administration
Military Commissions 
by William Fisher

In the face of multiple legal and legislative challenges, President George W. Bush this week issued an executive order to allow cases against prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to move forward to trials by military tribunals. The challenges are to the constitutionality of the Military Commissions Act of 2006 (MCA), which Bush signed into law last October. The first three cases to be tried under the law involve an Australian, a Yemeni, and a Canadian, all held at Guantanamo. The Australian, David Hicks, is expected to be formally charged by the military by the end of next week, along with Omar Khadr, a Canadian accused of killing a U.S. Army Special Forces soldier during a firefight in Afghanistan, and Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni accused of supporting al-Qaida operatives. Authorities drafted charges -- including murder, conspiracy and providing material support for terrorism -- against the three on Feb. 2. Once formal charges are filed, a timetable requires preliminary hearings within 30 days and the start of a jury trial within 120 days at Guantanamo, where nearly 400 men are still held on suspicion of links to al-Qaida or the Taliban.....(full article)

The Imperial System: Hierarchy, Networks and Clients
The Case of Somalia 
by James Petras

The imperial system is much more complex than what is commonly referred to as the “US Empire.” The US Empire, with its vast network of financial investments, military bases, multi-national corporations and client states, is the single most important component of the global imperial system. Nevertheless, it is overly simplistic to overlook the complex hierarchies, networks, follower states and clients that define the contemporary imperial system. To understand empire and imperialism today requires us to look at the complex and changing system of imperial stratification.....(full article)

Dysfunctional Government, Dysfunctional Family 
by Carolyn Baker

It seems to me that Americans for at least the past seven years have been stricken with a collective trance such as I have never witnessed in this country in my lifetime. Psychologist, Paul Levy, in his superb article "Spiritually Informed Political Activism" speaks to the necessity of waking up from the spell and speaking the truth about the criminal insanity that is running our nation and our world. He takes this "waking up" many steps further by the end of his article, but for now, I'd like to address the questions: "Why such seemingly impenetrable denial in the American psyche these days? Why are some people almost incapable of awakening?" (full article)

Charges Against Vermont Peace Activist Dropped
by Daniel Borgström

Rosemarie Jackowski is a 69-year-old grandmother, former schoolteacher and Air Force veteran who was arrested at a peace demonstration in March 2003.  A year and a half later she was finally tried and convicted. She faced two months in jail and a $500 fine. When the conviction was eventually overturned by the Vermont Supreme Court in the fall of 2006, it looked like she'd won. However, the prosecuting attorney announced plans to try her yet once again. That put her back to square one.....(full article)

The Martyring of a Nazi Sympathizer
In Defense of Free Speech  
by Kim Petersen

Ernst Zündel is not a man that I want to defend. I certainly do not share his strident anti-communist views, attitude on race, or sympathy for Adolf Hitler. Where I do share a view with Zündel is on everyone’s right to free speech. Zündel exercised this right and has been persecuted for it. Progressives have mainly remained silent on this assault against free speech.....(full article)

February 14

A Valentine to Newlyweds Separated by Their Country 
by Susan Van Haitsma

The young woman and I talked into the night as we headed south on a Greyhound bus. Each minute of conversation carried us physically farther from but perhaps emotionally closer to the enlisted man she had married just three days prior. The wedding she had arranged and paid for in their home town had to be cancelled because his leave was revoked at the last minute, so she had traveled across the country for a visit with him that included a quick civil ceremony at the courthouse nearest his base. She described in almost comical terms their attempt at a honeymoon, braving subzero temperatures with bodies unused to a northern climate, with his close-shaven head and light sailor hat and her thin jeans, to walk downtown to see the sights. When she couldn't feel her legs anymore, she told him, "Baby, I'm sure this is a nice place. Send me some pictures. But, for now, get me out of here!"......(full article)

What It's Really All About 
by Patricia Goldsmith

. . . . But I think the bigger factor in gay Canadians' relative indifference to marriage is Canada's universal health care system. Here in the states, the most devastating consequence of the anti-marriage equality amendments sweeping the country is the potential loss of health insurance for domestic partners and their children. As Karen's domestic partner, I have been covered under her insurance policy for over a decade. I'm now in my early fifties, and I can tell you that I do not want to even contemplate the prospect of finding my own insurance at this stage of life. But it looks like a lot of people are going to have to do just that. Recently, courts in my home state of Michigan have ruled that the anti-gay marriage amendment passed in 2004 forbids public institutions from offering domestic partner benefits. If this ruling stands, it will spread to all the other states that have voted for these amendments, and countless people will lose their health insurance. People being treated for cancer. Children with asthma. People with all sorts of pre-existing conditions who need regular treatment and drugs. Imagine how you'd feel if you woke up to find that the people of your state had voted to revoke your health insurance......(full article)

Could This Be the Year the SOA is Shut Down? 
by Dan Bacher

This may be the year that the infamous SOA of the Americas (SOA), implicated in massacres and human rights violations throughout Latin America, finally closes. The prospect of an impending vote in the U.S. Congress, combined with a steady movement of Latin American countries withdrawing their troops from the school, makes the shut down of the school very possible in 2007. The SOA in 2001 changed its name to WHINSEC, the "Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation," in response to international criticism of the school that trained hundreds of army officers and death squad leaders responsible for genocide, assassinations, torture, disappearances and other human rights violations throughout Latin America. However, only the name changed and the school continued its deadly mission of training Latin American soldiers in "counter-insurgency" techniques.....(full article)

Putting Black Faces on Imperial Policies 
by Glen Ford

“Barack Obama is our son and he deserves our support," declared Illinois Senate President Emil Jones Jr., speaking to a gathering of Black Democrats at the party's winter meeting, in Washington, earlier this month. By Jones' logic, Condoleezza Rice deserves automatic African American support as our daughter, and Colin Powell, her predecessor as George Bush's Secretary of State, was due fealty as "our brother.Jones' embrace of the entire African American family tree must also, therefore, extend to US Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, the most reactionary, anti-Black member of the High Court; and to "our brother" J. Kenneth Blackwell, the former Ohio Secretary of State whose consuming mission in 2004 was to deny the franchise to as many fellow Blacks as possible. Although the winter meetings are traditionally showcases for candidates to display their positions on the issues of the day, State Sen. Jones saw no need to present his appeal on Obama's behalf in any packaging other than race. In effect, Jones attempted to relieve Obama of any political obligation to Black people. Under Jones' formula, the relationship between the Black office seeker and the African American public is reversed: it is the people that owe allegiance to the candidate, who is in turn set free to woo groups and promote interests that may be inimical to those of the Black public.....
(full article)

It's Only Iraq and Roll (But We Seem to Like It)  
by Mickey Z.

In 1972, anti-war activists like Jane Fonda and Ramsey Clark traveled to North Vietnam and in the process, helped shine a light on the American tactic of bombing Vietnamese dikes. In 2006, rocker-rapper Kid Rock traveled to Iraq because, he says, he wanted "to see exactly what the soldiers are going through . . . and let them know they're in our hearts." The times, they have a-changed. In the latest issue of Blender Magazine, Kid Rock talks about spending Christmas in Baghdad. He tells his readers about "human feces literally spilling into the streets" and how "our troops deal with it every day." There was no indication of how the actual citizens of Iraq felt about sewers that surely functioned better before the U.S. invasion. This isn't radical chic; it's G.I. Joe for the rich and famous.....(full article)

February 13

The Docile American
The Nexus of God, Labor, Health Care and the Fear to Strike 
by Zbignew Zingh

A general strike is one of the most powerful tools of non-violent civil disobedience. In a general strike all work stops, businesses shut down, consumers do not spend money, teachers and students stay away from school, employees call in sick, lawyers do not try cases, assembly line workers do not assemble, teamsters park their rigs, pilots do not fly, doctors practice only emergency medicine, and commerce grinds to a halt. General strikes are not violent, but they cause tremendous economic hurt. When properly coordinated and prepared, they are very persuasive. General strikes have toppled governments, such as in Argentina, and they have prevented the implementation of anti-labor legislation, most notably in France and in Italy. Some argue that Americans are simply too economically comfortable to participate in any political action more strenuous that penciling an X on a ballot. That cannot be the answer. Indeed, the notion that Americans live better than everyone else is part of our national mythology. Although many Americans reside in spacious (and heavily mortgaged) houses and, by incurring massive debt, own lots of "stuff", citizens of several European industrialized nations live, on average, healthier, more secure lives and work far fewer hours than most Americans. Certain Asian countries are not far behind. Notwithstanding their better living conditions, Germans, French, Italians and Spaniards, for example, are still more willing to take concerted political action than are Americans. There are several reasons for Americans' complacency and Europeans' engagement.....(full article)

War On Iran  --  It's Not About Democracy 
by Ron Jacobs

Recent media reports about Iran suggest that President Ahmadinejad has run slightly afoul of the clerics in that country's Council of Guardians. Most specifically, the Imam Khamenei has publicly criticized the president's statements about Iran's nuclear program and his government's failure to stop inflation in Iran. Khamenei, for those who don't know, is the Supreme Leader of Iran, which means that, he reviews every political decision made by the Iranian legislature and the president according to the Koran and its interpretations. He has issued a fatwa that states the production, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons was forbidden under Islam. He has also supported the economic subsidies of basic goods and shelter and free medical care for all Iranians -- two programs currently existing in Iran This support stems from the Koran's teaching that those who can afford it must pay zakat to help the poor, although the institutionalization of it through Tehran could be considered part of the Islamic government's successful attempts to remove leftists and their thought from the revolutionary regime by renaming their programs and then killing the left.....(full article)

Minimum Wage Raise is Good for Business 
by Holly Sklar

The minimum wage is headed for a raise -- back to the 1950s. That's right, even after rising from $5.15 now to $7.25 in 2009, the federal minimum wage will still be lower than it was in 1956, when it was $7.41 in today's dollars. The minimum wage was enacted in 1938 through the Fair Labor Standards Act, designed to eliminate "labor conditions detrimental to the maintenance of the minimum standard of living necessary for health, efficiency and general well-being of workers." The minimum wage was never meant to be the minimum the nation's worst employers want to pay. That would be as absurd as setting environmental policies to accommodate the worst polluters. Business lobbyists who'd abolish the minimum wage if they could have held it hostage for 10 years -- the longest period ever without a raise. Now they want to collect a ransom of tax breaks to let it go.....
(full article)

Escape From America: Gin Meditations on Outlaw Roosters, Tin Cup Martinis and My Bust-Out From Mammon's Gilded Cage  
by Joe Bageant

Hopkins Village, Belize: It is near midnight and the dogs sleeping in the sand under my cabana, Rex and Pluto, emit happy, gurgling growls, as if chasing imaginary rabbits in their dreams. I lie in bed just breathing in and breathing out and feeling so free that I've laughed out loud a couple of times tonight, something I have never done in my life. At least not while simply looking at the ceiling. Tomorrow I will not worry about losing my ass in the declining real estate market. I will not commute three nerve-grinding hours a day, or nervously engorge myself in front of my laptop for hours on end. Nor will I or wake up with the crimes of the empire running like adding machine tape in my head, annotated with all the ways I contributed to those crimes by participating in the American lifestyle. After more than two years of effort, I'm outta the gilded gulag, by damned, and tell myself that I have at last quit being part of the problem -- or at least as much as much as anyone can without living stark naked in a Himalayan cave and toasting insects over a dung fire. When I arrived in Belize a few weeks ago I vowed never to write about this country, mainly because the Americans I write to are more interested in American politics, religion, class issues and the Iraq war. How the hell could anybody with more than an inch of forehead not be anxious over those things? But the contrast here is so stark it seems unavoidable to write about the view of America from Belize and Hopkins Village this one time. I must say that from down here the Empire does not look much different. No worse, no better. But the stress and stench of the empire is less in this Caribbean breeze and the mark of the beast is sharper from a distance.....(full article)

Black Gold, Rising Sun: A Review of Gold Warriors  
by Chris Salzberg

The average tourist entering Japan for the first time, Lonely Planet in hand, anticipating the land of contrasts -- of tea ceremonies and conveyor-belt sushi, of sumo and Sony -- would be hard-pressed to imagine anything of comparable intrigue emerging from the stale debate of contemporary Japanese politics. A walk through the evolutionary arms race that is the Shibuya fashion scene, among the Cambrian explosion of hi-tech plastic gizmos and gadgets, of mobile phones and bullet trains, would leave little doubt as to where the real action is. The land of the rising sun is driven by its technological innovation, unified by its culture and traditions; politics is for the politicians, history for the historians, so the thinking goes. With their recent book, Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold, first published in 2003 by Verso Books with an updated and extended edition out in 2005, Sterling and Peggy Seagrave have provided a much needed antidote to this tired, politically-correct caricature of Japan, much trumpeted by its leaders and echoed in the mass media. They have done so, moreover -- given the implications of the conspiracy they unearth -- at considerable risk to their own safety. The introductory note to Gold Warriors concludes with the precaution that "should anything odd happen, we have arranged for this book and its documentation to be put up on the Internet at a number of sites. If we are murdered," they write, "readers will have no difficulty figuring out who 'they' are." In a review of the first edition of the book, Chalmers Johnson, a former CIA consultant and one of the world's leading experts on Japanese history and politics, noted that, in fact, "the list of potential killers from this book alone would include at least several thousand generals, spies, bankers, politicians, lawyers, treasure hunters and thieves from half a dozen countries.".....(full article)

Journey of a (“Self-Hating”) Jew 
by David Rovics

There are few issues more divisive in US society, including on the left, than the issue of Israel and Palestine. Even the word “Palestine” is divisive! The state of Israel claims to represent Jews worldwide. This is a preposterous and plainly incorrect claim, but one often made and often assumed, to the detriment of much of humanity. People who vocally oppose Israeli policies are labeled anti-Semites. Jews who oppose Israeli policies -- or who dare to question the right of this apartheid state to exist as such -- are labeled “self-hating Jews.” Supporters of Israel are using historic anti-Semitism and the memory of the Nazi holocaust as a means to stifle dissent. Reason and compassion is not on their side, so they resort to name-calling. I have some personal experiences with this state of affairs, and I thought I’d recount some of them and share some thoughts on the subject.....(full article)

The Way: Truth, Hope and Solidarity Against the Empire 
by Eileen Fleming

From February 9-10, 2007 within walking distance from The Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, a few hundred thoughtful, committed citizens of the world gathered with hope to make a difference in Palestine-Israel. Sponsored by Friends of Sabeel (Arabic for The Way) in North America/FOSNA: secular peace and justice activists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Unitarians and others responded to this reporter's inquiry of why they were there.....(full article)

Veteran's Love Story: Valentine's Day, 2007 
by Shepherd Bliss

Ah, Valentine's Day approaches again -- a good time to review one's love life. Memories long buried, personal and collective, may emerge, if one goes deep enough. Over 40 years ago I was commissioned an officer in the US Army, following the tradition of the many fighting men of my family who went into the military. I did basic training at Ft. Riley, Kansas, home of the Big Red One, First Division.  During those turbulent sixties I took an oath to defend my country and its Constitution.  I have kept that oath. I have a short story to tell.  It's a veterans', plural, love story. It combines my experiences with those of various members of our Veterans' Writing Group, lead by author Maxine Hong Kingston. I tell it partly to plead for forgiveness for myself and others caught in war and for the things we do. Our story begins as a nightmare.  Please stay with it to the end, through the difficulties.  Love can be difficult, yet eventually can triumph.....(full article)

February 12

Why Critical Pedagogy Matters:
Defending Higher Education as a Democratic Public Sphere 
by Henry Giroux

The attack against Middle Eastern studies as well as other engaged areas of the social sciences and humanities in the United States has opened the door to a whole new level of assault on academic freedom, teacher authority, and critical education, one that threatens to extend beyond  national borders. These attacks are much more widespread and, in my estimation, much more dangerous than the McCarthyite campaign several decades ago. Trading upon the ongoing corporatization of the university, its ever-tightening ties to the Pentagon,  its increasing reliance on non-government financial resources, and its vulnerability to outside criticism, a number of right-wing advocacy groups are now targeting higher education, alleging it is not only a breeding ground for cultivating anti-Israel and anti-capital sentiments but also a hot-bed of politicized pedagogical encounters considered both discriminatory against conservative students and un-American in their critical orientation. Invoking academic freedom is crucial for maintaining the university as democratic public sphere, but it is equally essential to defend critical education as a condition of civic responsibility, and pedagogy as a deliberate act of intervening in the classroom as part of the goal of encouraging students to to think critically about their place in relation to the knowledge they gain. Moreover, it is crucial  to use such knowledge as a condition for developing their own sense of agency and their ability to link learning to democratic values, and the skills of understanding and criticism to the related considerations of social responsibility and the struggle for a genuine democracy.....(full article)  

Bush's Budget Targets Health Care -- Sky's the Limit for War Costs  
by Seth Sandronsky

In his proposed budget of nearly $3 trillion for fiscal year 2008, President George W. Bush seeks to slow the rate of government spending on health care. Without a trace of irony, he calls this a move for fiscal responsibility. In this way, the nation will "begin to address our biggest fiscal challenge, the unsustainable growth in entitlement programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security," said Rob Portman, the president's budget director. The law mandates entitlement spending for Medicare, the federal health-care program for seniors and some disabled recipients of Social Security. Bush proposes to cut payments to doctors who treat the nation's 43 million Medicare patients. Millions of seniors born during or before the Second World War (perhaps your in-laws and/or parents) would suffer.....
(full article)

Immigration Policy Crosses Line of Common Decency  
by Greg Moses

“This is pathetically sickening. This is outrageously sickening. What is the government trying to accomplish by terrorizing people who want to be Americans?” That's how Jay Johnson-Castro responded by telephone to the front-page story in Saturday's Los Angeles Times about the T. Don Hutto prison at Taylor, Texas. He was specifically talking about news that a 9-year-old girl and her father were abducted from their home in Phoenix during a raid similar to the operation that imprisoned three Palestinian families in Texas. The father from Phoenix is married to an American citizen and had on the previous day stopped by an immigration office to see how he could fix his lapsed status.....(full article)

A Dream Still Unfulfilled 
by Walter Brasch

Three days before Martin Luther King Day, Jan. 15, the Press Enterprise of Bloombsurg, Pa. published a letter-to-the-editor by Al Olszewski of Mount Carmel. The newspaper publishes one to four letters a day, and Olszewski frequently writes, e-mails, or calls in his opinions. This time he thought the world needed his opinion about Dr. King whom he called “a sanctimonious fraud who peddled a ‘dream’ that was only a fantasy even he didn’t really believe in.” Four days later, the Press Enterprise, in its “30 Seconds” section, published the views of a woman from Berwick, 40 miles northeast of Mount Carmel. She said that King “left violence and trouble whatever city he preached in.” Describing herself as an “old-timer,” she said she “knew” the facts because “I was there in the '70s.” Of course, since King, who had earned the Nobel Peace Prize for preaching nonviolence and racial equality, was murdered in 1968, this woman might either have been sniffing too much alfalfa or seeing ghosts. “30 Seconds” is the 22,000-circulation newspaper’s talk radio in print. Each day the rural northeast Pennsylvania newspaper publishes a half page to two full pages of reader e-mails and “call-ins,” most of them anonymous, most of them from persons whose brain filters have failed. Favorite targets are teachers, college students, unions, and liberals -- not unlike the editorial views of the newspaper’s editor......(full article)

The Story of the Three Little Wolves (Chapter One: "A New Dope")  
by Mark Bradley

Once upon a time in the Kantseatha Forest, there lived three hungry little wolves who set out to seek their fortunes. Their names were Dickie, Rover and Scooter. Upon departing their respective dens of origin, the first challenge facing each of these ambitious little wolves was, of course, the task of building for himself a sunlight-proof shelter, each according to his eccentric appetite and innate ability to hide his true nature and underlying motives, even from himself. Scooter Wolf, for instance, arranged for his house to be fabricated out of toxic mold-infested straw (although he seems not to have been entirely aware of this fact until it was revealed to him months later by his sometimes friend, Little Russ the Raccoon). Truth be told, Scooter could not exactly recall when (or even if) he'd been formally notified that his house was being built out of bales of moldy straw. On the contrary, he was pretty sure he'd been given categorical assurances by his friend, developer Dickie Wolf, that Dickie's construction company, Hellaporkin, was using a "state of the art" building material described as "steel-reinforced modules of highly compacted cellulose fiber aggregate", which, according to the color brochure, boasted an insulation factor in excess of R-19, and was guaranteed to be every bit as safe as an electric diaper....(grab some cookies and milk and read the full story)

February 11

Bush's Fantasy Budget and the Military/Entertainment Complex 
by Robin Andersen

This tie-in piece to Bush's proposed military budget documents some disturbing connections between the military and the media industries, connections which influence news reporting and media entertainment culture. Through the research and development of shared computer-based digital technologies, Hollywood has become a full partner in the economies of war, weaponry, and military training and recruitment. The consequences include a new type of militarism and a culture geared toward permanent war. Material is drawn from the author's recent book, A Century of Media, A Century of War. Those distressed by the bloated military budget Bush announced this week should be equally alarmed by corporate media's stake in defense spending, because among other things, it helps shape news, entertainment culture and public attitudes toward war and its weapons. (02/05/07) revealed a list of nearly identical stories about the proposal for "a big increase in military spending, including billions more to fight the war in Iraq." Most of these tease lines acknowledge that such spending means "squeezing the rest of government," a euphemism for slashing Medicare and social programs across the board, further impoverishing Americans now sitting on mountains of debt with no medical coverage.....(full article)

Let’s Go Crazy: The Decline in US Mental Health Under Bush 
by Heather Woksuch

Factors linked with mental illness (including poverty, homelessness, violence and social uncertainty) have run rampant during the Bush years while psychiatric treatment options have disappeared. Nowhere has this trend been more prevalent  --  and more heartbreaking - than with Katrina survivors and veterans of Bush’s wars.....(full article)

An “Existential” Conflict: Charging Iran With “Genocide” Before Nuking It 
by Gary Leupp

In a very interesting analysis last month, the former chief of staff of the Russian Army, Gen. Leonid Ivashov, predicted a US nuclear strike on Iran by this April. "Within weeks from now," he wrote, "we will see the informational warfare machine start working. The public opinion is already under pressure. There will be a growing anti-Iranian militaristic hysteria, new information leaks, disinformation, etc." I'm afraid this has the ring of truth. Then you have Gen. Oded Tira, chief artillery officer of the Israeli Defense Forces declaring last month that "an American strike on Iran is essential" for the very existence of the Jewish State. Suggesting that "President Bush lacks the political power to attack Iran," he urgently appealed to the resurgent Democratic Party to work towards that Israeli goal. "As an American strike in Iran is essential for our existence," he declared, "we must help him pave the way by lobbying the Democratic Party (which is conducting itself foolishly) and US newspaper editors. We need to do this in order to turn the Iranian issue to a bipartisan one and unrelated to the Iraq failure.".....(full article)

The Limits of Tolerance 
by Patricia Goldsmith

With the words, "I'm in it to win," Hillary Clinton tossed her hat into the ring -- and gave us the motto of the Democratic Leadership Council, the group that launched her husband's presidency and continues to dominate Democratic Party strategy. In the mid- to late-'80s, at the height of the Reagan Revolution, this group of Democratic politicians and strategists realized that unless they could figure out a way to start winning elections again, they would not have political careers. So instead of bucking Reaganomics, they hitched the Democratic Party to the Republicans' bumper, like a string of tin cans bouncing along in the dust. They declared that business and government would henceforth be friends and partners. They had found a third way, a new center. No more unseemly scuffles.....
(full article)

One Great Big Plastic Hassle 
by Jane Akre

In the seminal 1967 film The Graduate, baby-faced Dustin Hoffman was told the wave of the future: "Plastics." The lucrative career tip slipped on the QT to young Benjamin the day of his graduation bore no cautionary message about the veritable Pandora's Box the petrochemical plastics industry had opened in the post-war era some twenty years before the film's setting. The overzealous Plastic Man knew the only thing he needed to know: The world would always be hungry for plastic. That celluloid prediction has proved right on target. Cheap, durable and convenient, plastic has been the country's chosen miracle-material since World War II. When added to polyvinyl chloride (PVC), the petroleum-based industrial chemicals in plastic -- chief among them plasticizers such as phthalates (THAHL-ates) -- make our upholstery comfier and our pipes more flexible. To keep up with the world's affection for all things plasticized, the U.S. produces a billion pounds of phthalates a year. Today, phthalates are one of the top offenders in a group of 70 suspected endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) that we spray in our homes and yards and use in our makeup, nail polish, detergents, flame retardants, plastic bottles, metal food cans and even children's toys.....(full article)

The Words of Mohammad, 11-Year-Old Prisoner 
by Greg Moses

During the day Friday, the words of 11-year-old Mohammad Hazahza have filled him up and weighed him down. On Friday night, he pours the words back out, as if wanting to be lifted back up. "Mohammad is so protective of his mother," says Ralph Isenberg in a weary and reverent voice, recalling the day's visits to Dallas reporters. "I watched as he got her chair and made her comfortable. And that's what he did in jail. He protected her from forced labor. When she was ordered to clean the common area, he did that work for her. He really understands family and duty." For mother Juma, jail was a very difficult time. Because of her food allergies, she has come to rely on some foods. Tomatoes for example. Family supporter Riad Hamad of the Palestine Children's Welfare Fund says Juma asked her jailers for tomatoes, but they never gave her any. Not one tomato in a hundred days. She lost 12 pounds. "I was shocked at what the jail has done to her physically," says Isenberg. "There were times when I thought she would pass out. They are both very traumatized. And all I can say is we're cranking up real hard for the release of the rest of the Hazahza family." Like two other families of Palestinian heritage who were abducted by USA immigration authorities in early November, the Hazahza family had been split up. Juma and Mohammad were jailed at T. Don Hutto prison in Taylor, Texas, while father Radi was locked up at Haskell, Texas along with his four adult children....
(full article)

Israel's Bomb, Iran's Pursuit of the Bomb and US War Preparations (Pt. 2) by Walter C. Uhler

One person possessing the courage to admit guilt for his role in producing the bomb was Albert Einstein. Some five months before his death in late 1954, Einstein declared: "I made one great mistake in my life, when I signed the letter to President Roosevelt recommending that atom bombs be made, but there was some justification -- the danger that the Germans would make them." Another person, David Ben-Gurion, reached just the opposite conclusion about the bomb. Notwithstanding the role that Zionist settlers played in stirring up Arab hatred in Palestine, in the wake of the Arab attacks on Jews in Jerusalem in August 1929 and the "Arab Revolt" of 1936, Ben-Gurion told friends in Jerusalem, "The danger we face is not rioting, but extermination. The attackers will not only be the Arabs of Palestine, but also the Iraqis and Saudi Arabians, and they have warplanes and artillery. We have to prepare seriously to constitute a substantial force in this country, capable of standing up to a massive offensive.".....(full article)

Zionist Appeasement: A Blight on the Canadian Political Landscape
by Kim Petersen

Ever since the Conservative Party formed a minority government in the ethnically cleansed territory designated Canada, an abrupt rightward shift has occurred in Canadian government policy. The Conservative Party has chosen to openly support the zionist regime in the ethnically cleansed historical Palestine -- what the ethnic cleansers have renamed Israel. But to target only the Conservative Party of Canada would be unfair because the other three major political parties in Canada are also infiltrated by Zionist appeasers. Former New Democratic Party (NDP) leader, Alexa McDonough, attempted to defend herself from an accusation of supporting zionist apartheid. Said she, "The NDP supports Palestinians' right to a safe and secure homeland, and Israel's right to exist." McDonough needs to unequivocally answer at least two questions: 1) What about Palestine's right to exist? 2) Does McDonough insist that European invaders have a right to establish an existential state on the millennia-old homeland of indigenous Palestinians? The previous Liberal Party leader and prime minister, Paul Martin, went so far as to state, "Israel's values are Canada's values." Undeniably, history reveals that land theft through ethnic cleansing is a value that Canada and Israel share....(full article)

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann's
Weird Transportation Boondoggle
by Ken Avidor

You may have seen freshman Congresswoman Michele Bachmann (R-MN) plant a big kiss on President Bush after his recent State of the Union speech. You may have heard that Bachmann claimed God told her to run for Congress. What many people do not know about Bachmann is that she wrote legislation for and  promoted a bizarre scheme to fleece taxpayers and investors of millions of dollars. The scheme called Personal Rapid Transit (PRT) would have also served as a stalking horse to stop funding for conventional transit......(full article

They're Shocked, Shocked They Tell You 
by Mark Drolette

They're everywhere. Even in Costa Rica. Which is where I was recently for the fifth time to check on my house construction and also officially become a legal resident of the country which, among other things, now allows me, for about forty bucks a month, to join its national health care system under which I will be fully covered medically, pre-existing conditions be damned. (You know, just like how we do it in America.) That's right; Costa Rica doesn't care that I'm asthmatic or have been married three times. (If multiple marriages don't sound like a health issue to you, you've obviously not met any of my exes.) OK, then, so on with it: who are these "they"? Shh! "They" are America's real enemies: Bush supporters.....
(full sordid details)

February 8

Immigrants in Detention 
by William Fisher

Suspected illegal immigrants held in detention by the US Department of Homeland Security are failing to receive timely medical treatment and adequate food, being subjected to frequent sexual harassment, and having their access to lawyers, relatives and immigration authorities improperly limited. These are among the findings of the department’s inspector general, based on an audit of the US-owned and operated Krome Service Processing Center in Miami, a contract Corrections Corporation of America facility in San Diego, and local jails and prisons in Berks County, Pa., and Hudson and Passaic counties, N.J. But critics of the agency called the report disappointing, contending that it watered down recommendations and ignored the most serious allegations of abuse collected since June 2004, which they said included physical beatings, medical neglect, food shortages and mixing of illegal immigrants in administrative custody with criminals. Mark Dow, author of American Gulag, a scathing expose of immigrant detention facilities, goes further. He told us that the Inspector General’s report “has helped ensure that, for now, the mistreatment will continue.” He contends the reason is that the IG recommends that the DHS agency responsible for the detention of immigrants, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) police itself.....(full article)

Homeland Security is Neither: Ecology, Justice
and the Politics of Borders 
by Lee Hall

In a song often called one of the past century's greatest, John Lennon sang, "Imagine there's no country." Is it easy? Should we try? As it is, we interact with the world as citizens of countries, rarely questioning the nation's existence. The sacrifice of our children's blood proves it. Leaders talk of vanquishing evil, and we agree that outsiders officially constitute enemies. "We wish so desperately to split apart evil from good," explains Holocaust psychologist Richard Koenigsberg, "and that's when the killing begins." As an industry of news and foreign policy analysis steps in, treating the slaughter of human beings as a normal and inevitable part of politics, we learn to brush aside our natural reaction -- war is insane! In October 2001, Donald Rumsfeld called terrorism "a cancer on the human condition" to explain the beginning of the massive bombing of Afghanistan, in which villagers were mutilated and killed in droves. Since the invasion of Iraq three years ago, hundreds of thousands have been killed; torture has proliferated and children have been jailed. Fear of the "cancer" allowed a critical mass of North Americans to accept diminished civil liberties, mass detentions, and cutbacks in basic services -- such as public transportation, needed to lessen our strain on fossil fuels. Imagine people from varied areas of social activism investing our collective energies into humanity's prospects for transcending this cycle. But how? (full article)

Standing at the Gates of Fort Lewis
Worlds Collide at the Watada Court Martial 
by Zbignew Zingh

ore than a thousand of us appeared at the gates of Fort Lewis to attend Lt. Ehren Watada's court martial on the morning of February 5, 2007. Only a handful got in. By 0615 hours, military time, the Army had already distributed the few dozen admission tickets. The rest of us, denied access to the court martial proceeding itself, gathered at the freeway bridge to stand vigil outside the military base. . . . The fog, cold and dampness never lifted all day. It was a metaphor for the court martial itself where everyone, including Lt. Watada, knew that the Army, having practically foreclosed the presentation of a defense, would find this principled young man guilty, as charged, with disobeying orders to go fight in Iraq. Indeed, disobeying orders is what it is all about. Lt. Watada is not a conscientious objector. He is not opposed to all war, only war that is unlawful. Having read the Constitution, read the international conventions that apply to warfare, and re-read his officer's oath of office, this gentleman correctly concluded that he simply cannot obey an order to participate in an unlawful, unconstitutional war. From the Army's perspective, however, disobedience to a superior officer's order is tantamount to treason.....(full article)

It's Past Time to Pull Out 
by Ed Kinane

A man is raping a woman. He has been raping the woman off and on for many years. Despite her vigorous resistance, for the past four years he rapes her relentlessly. He occupies her body. He shares her with his friends. When must he withdraw? Only when he is spent? Only when it's convenient? The word "occupation" (like "invasion") was carefully avoided by the authors of the Iraq Study Group Report. But even that taboo word is vague, anemic. It muffles reality. The US invasion -- and ongoing violation -- of Iraq is mega-rape. It is mega-crime. It is war crime.....(full article)

Nobody Buys Lilly's Innocence Routine About Zyprexa 
by Evelyn Pringle

Eli Lilly is having trouble obtaining and retaining insurance coverage for Zyprexa litigation because apparently insurance companies are no longer willing to buy its wide-eyed innocence routine when it comes to the company's fraudulent off-label marketing schemes. In filings with the SEC, Lilly admits that it is having problems and that the company may end up having to pay its own Zyprexa costs, but blames it on the insurance industry, stating: "We have experienced difficulties in obtaining product liability insurance due to a very restrictive insurance market and therefore will be largely self-insured for future product liability losses." As for the insurance that Lilly does have to cover past and future Zyprexa lawsuits, the filing reports that carriers have raised defenses to their liability and are seeking to rescind the policies, and Lilly further warns that, "there is no assurance that we will be able to fully collect from our insurance carriers on past claims." Some internal Lilly documents, recently leaked to the press, that Lilly somehow managed to have sealed with a court order, reveal that Lilly hid the side effects of Zyprexa identified in its own clinical trials a decade ago and engaged in wide-ranging off-label marketing schemes to make a drug approved by the FDA only to treat adults with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder into its top selling product bringing in a reported $30 billion thus far.....(full article)

Making the HPV Vaccine Mandatory is Bad Medicine 
by Lucinda Marshall

Governor Rick Perry’s decision to sidestep the Texas legislature and issue an executive order mandating that girls entering the 6th grade receive the new HPV vaccine raises troubling questions about the influence  pharmaceutical companies wield on the crafting of public health policy. Cervical cancer is only expected to cause 3670 deaths in the US in 2007, a miniscule percentage (less than 2%) of the 270,000 deaths from the disease worldwide and only 1% of the total annual number of deaths from all cancers in the United States. While cervical cancer used to be one of the deadliest diseases for women in the US, the number of deaths it causes has dropped dramatically (by 74% from 1955-1992) and it continues to drop). Why then are so many states considering mandating a vaccine that costs $300-$500 per patient for a type of cancer that is already largely under control in this country and which can be almost entirely prevented by regular gynecological checkups and Pap smears? (full article)

Read the News Today and Learned a New Phrase 
by R. Miles Mendenhall

While discussing the military budget for 2008 with an LA Times reporter, Admiral Michael Mullins said, "At 3.8 percent" (of GDP) "it just isn't enough for the strategic appetite, and the strategic appetite is directly tied to the world we're living in." Strategic Appetite? Hmm, that's a new one for me. I'm admittedly no military policy wonk, so perhaps it's a term of art that I'm not familiar with? But what most struck me was its brutal honesty and moral implications. From the mouth of an expert, we get the truth. The good 'ol U.S. of A. has a strategic appetite, meaning that our military force structure, and its cost, is directly supportive of our need and desire to CONSUME the rest of the world. If that isn't an admission to raw imperialism, I don't know what is. Is Admiral Mullins our new Smedley Butler? (full article)

The Wall, Senator Clinton and Bob Marley 
by eileen fleming

On November 15, 2005, Senator Hillary Clinton stood on the Jerusalem side of The Wall and was quoted in Ha'aretz, expressing support for The Wall because it "is against terrorists" and "not against the Palestinian people." Senator Clinton did NOT visit the Little Town of Bethlehem, which is Occupied Territory, to see what The Wall has done to the Bethlehem economy. But I have. On New Years Eve Day 2005, I visited a family who had just rebuilt their home in Dheisheh, one of three 59-year-old refugee camps in Bethlehem. The Hammash family [photos] had rebuilt on the very same spot after the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) blew their former home up without any reason or compensation. The usual reason given for home demolitions, as well as anything the Israeli army does that denies human rights is: "Security"!.....(full article)

Black America? And What Should We Do About It? 
by Bruce Dixon

There is a widening divide in Black America  --  but not among the people, who continue to hold dear the progressive values of racial, social and economic justice, and peace. Rather, the growing gap exists between the aspirations of the masses of African Americans, and the increasingly timid and self-serving behavior of the Black political class. It is high time  --  past time  --  to draw bright political lines that our elected representatives dare not cross, most especially, the Congressional Black Caucus.....(full article)

Jonah Goldberg’s Gambling Debt: Will Tribune Company Pay It?  
by Jeff Cohen

There are many shades of rightwing punditry in our country. Among the shadiest is Jonah Goldberg. With arrogance seemingly matched only by his ignorance, Goldberg was just being Goldberg when he offered this wager two years ago: "Let’s make a bet. I predict that Iraq won't have a civil war, that it will have a viable constitution, and that a majority of Iraqis and Americans will, in two years time, agree that the war was worth it. I'll bet $1,000 (which I can hardly spare right now)." The two-year period comes due Thursday, Feb 8.  Even Goldberg now realizes his prediction was totally wrong -- with poll after poll showing most Americans do not “agree that the war was worth it.” (Not to mention what Iraqis think of the war or Goldberg’s boast that “Iraq won’t have a civil war.”) So shouldn’t Goldberg -- or somebody -- pay off the $1,000? (full article)

February 6

Why the Democrats Won't Save Us
Clinton, Edwards and Obama: Strike Iran   
by Joshua Frank

Over the past weekend Hillary Clinton pledged to end the war in Iraq if she is elected. "If we in Congress don't end this war before January 2009, as president, I will," she told a large crowd at the Democratic National Committee's winter convention in Washington. It was the first time since announcing her candidacy that Hillary acknowledged the growing movement against the war when discussing Iraq, which faced its bloodiest period since the invasion almost four years ago with over 1,000 reported deaths in the last seven days alone. Also in attendance at the DNC meeting were other presidential hopefuls, including John Edwards and Sen. Barack Obama, who both attempted to paint themselves as the best antiwar candidate in the hunt for the White House. The top candidates' tepid words on Iraq were a sign of what's to come over the next year and a half as their rhetorical talents are turned on high. Despite Obama's reassurance that he did not support the war from the beginning, along with Edwards' claims that he's had a change of heart on his past pro-war votes -- neither candidate distinguished their position from the Bush administration when it came to the looming Iran confrontation......(full article)

Israel's Bomb, Iran's Pursuit of the Bomb
and US War Preparations (Part I) 
by Walter C. Uhler

Four years ago today, US Secretary of State Colin Powell played a major role in persuading a gullible, stupefied and craven American news media and public -- but not a cynical world -- to support the Bush administration's illegal, immoral invasion of Iraq. He did so by presenting a panoply of lies, false statements and exaggerations about Iraq's weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda terrorists. Four years later, as both United States and Israel prepare their populations for an illegal, immoral preventive war against Iran -- allegedly to disrupt, if not destroy, the secret nuclear weapons program that both insist (without evidence) is well under way there -- Americans might do well to avoid being duped again. Thus, they might contemplate not only the allegations against Iran, but also the sins of the United States and Israel when it comes to developing, using and brandishing their own nuclear weapons.....(full article)

New Fort Detrick "Biodefense" Laboratory May Reflect
a Bush Germ Warfare Effort 
by Sherwood Ross

Although no foreign power has threatened a bioterror attack against America, since 9/11 the Bush administration has allocated a stunning $43-billion to "defend" against one. Critics are now saying, however, Bush's newest "biodefense" initiative is both offensive and illegal. The latest development, according to the Associated Press, is that the US Army is replacing its Military Institute of Infectious Diseases at Fort Detrick, Md., "with a new laboratory that would be a component of a biodefense campus operated by several agencies." The Army told AP the laboratory is intended to continue research that is only meant for defense against biological threats. But University of Illinois international law professor Francis Boyle charged the Fort Detrick work will include "acquiring, growing, modifying, storing, packaging and dispersing classical, emerging and genetically engineered pathogens." Those activities, as well as planned study of the properties of pathogens when weaponized, "are unmistakable hallmarks of an offensive weapons program.".....(full article)

Ubiquitous Sprawls of America 
by David Rovics

Once when I was touring Denmark my friend Jenka was visiting Europe at the same time. I picked her up at the airport and we headed into Copenhagen.  As we were approaching the city, she got excited.  “Wow,” she said, “it’s like a constant Critical Mass bike ride!” As we wait at traffic lights at major intersections we passed through, the traffic passing by ahead of us generally includes a few cars and a lot of bicycles and pedestrians. Bike paths are as common as streets, and most people of all walks of life get around town by bicycle. Trains and buses full of passengers traverse the city, and you rarely have to wait long for the next one.  Each neighborhood has a commercial center with shops, cafes, public spaces and streets off-limits to cars altogether. Most people live bicycling distance from where they work. Like so many European cities, it is a place that seems to have been designed for people. People like it that way and, to a huge extent, they keep it that way. Some cities in the US share much in common with Copenhagen. Though they almost entirely lack bike paths, cities like New York and San Francisco at least have a lot of pedestrians, decent mass transit, centrally-located parks and neighborhoods where people both live and work. These are also the cities people tend to visit, whether they’re tourists from Europe, Asia or domestic travelers. Go to the movies or turn on the TV and you’ll see that so many of the stories take place in New York or San Francisco.  It would be easy for many people to develop the impression that cities like these are representative of life in the US.  But they’re not......(full article)

February 5

--The Anti-Empire Report--
Full Spectrum Dominance 
by William Blum

It is not often that the empire is put in the position of one its victims, in fear of the military and technical prowess of another country, forced to talk of peace and cooperation, just as Iraq and others, hoping to put off an American attack, were forced to do over the years -- just as Iran now. No, China is not about to attack the United States, but the Chinese shootdown of a satellite (an old weather satellite of theirs) in space on January 11, has made a US attack on China much more dangerous and much less likely; it's made the empire's leaders realize that they don't have total power to make any and all other nations do their bidding. Here's how the gentlemen of the Pentagon have sounded in the recent past on the subject of space.....
(full article)

War With Iran is Coming 
by John Pilger

The United States is planning what will be a catastrophic attack on Iran. For the Bush cabal, the attack will be a way of “buying time” for its disaster in Iraq. In announcing what he called a “surge” of American troops in Iraq, George W Bush identified Iran as his real target. “We will interrupt the flow of support [to the insurgency in Iraq] from Iran and Syria”, he said. “And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq.” “Networks” means Iran. “There is solid evidence,” said a State Department spokesman on 24 January, “that Iranian agents are involved in these networks and that they are working with individuals and groups in Iraq and are being sent there by the Iranian government.” Like Bush’s and Blair’s claim that they had irrefutable evidence that Saddam Hussein was deploying weapons of mass destruction, the “evidence” lacks all credibility. Iran has a natural affinity with the Shia majority of Iraq, and has been implacably opposed to al-Qaeda, condemning the 9/11 attacks and supporting the United States in Afghanistan. Syria has done the same. Investigations by the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times and others, including British military officials, have concluded that Iran is not engaged in the cross-border supply of weapons. General Peter Pace, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, has said no such evidence exists......(full article)

Resisting Corporate Power in Colombia
An Interview with Aviva Chomsky
by Hans Bennett

Aviva Chomsky is professor of history and Latin American Studies at Salem State College in Massachusetts. She is also a founder of the North Shore Colombia Solidarity Committee, which has been working since 2002 with Colombian labor and popular movements, especially those affected by the foreign-owned mining sector.....(full interview)

Faith of Ibrahim Redeemed:
Texas Family Released from Hutto Prison  
by Greg Moses

For three painful months while his brother's family was imprisoned by USA immigration authorities, Ahmad Ibrahim, a United States citizen of Palestinian heritage, kept his faith that "the people of America are good people." But Ahmad did not know that the one good American who would finally orchestrate the dramatic release of the family had himself been exiled by USA immigration authorities to China. So Ahmad's faith in America had to hold strong from the beginning of November through the sacred Eid ul-Adha season of early January, until the exiled American could return......(full article)

Rejecting Tapeworm Economics and its War on Families 
by Carolyn Baker

A frightening story came across the radio waves this week and was later reported by MSNBC: "Texas governor orders STD vaccine for all girls." Governor Rick Perry had just signed an order making Texas the first of what is likely to be many states to require that school girls be vaccinated against Human Papiloma Virus (HPV), implementing what at first blush appears to be sensible and humane legislation attempting to prevent the spread of the deadly STD. Perry, who usually votes with the conservative Christians who oppose this order, parted company with them, and little research is required in order to understand why given Perry's cozy relationship with Merck, the vaccine's manufacturer. Not only is one of Merck's principal lobbyists Perry's former chief of staff, but his current chief of staff's mother-in-law, state legislator, Dianne White Delisi, is the state director of Women In Government. Add to that a $6,000 political contribution from Merck for Perry's re-election campaign and Merck's generous donations to Women In Government plus a top official from Merck sitting on the Women In Government business council, and all the dots begin to connect. Suddenly, Mr. Champion Of Family Values, Rick Perry, has dumped the fervent anti-fornicators of the religious right in favor of remaining in bed with Merck. If we didn't know about that liaison, and if the governor's order weren't so draconian, we might be tempted to applaud his concern for the health of young Texas women......(full article)

Cruising With Ralph Nader 
by Joshua Frank

I've always seen The Nation cruise as somewhat of an oxymoron: a bunch of well-heeled progressives floating around the sea on a mammoth ship discussing how to change the state of our dying planet.  Aside from the truly bourgeois nature of most cruise liners, with their gluttonous buffets and lustrous ballrooms -- their collective environmental destruction alone should be enough to steer anyone clear of booking a trip.  And now I've just found out that Ralph Nader, of all people, is supporting such a horrible industry, not to mention the magazine that has flogged him so hard, so many times. That's right, maverick consumer advocate Ralph Nader has been booked as a guest speaker for this year's Nation get-away. The Nation magazine does offer its participants a buy-in option to "reforest an area in Guatemala recently devastated by mudslides, planting enough trees to offset the carbon emissions produced by each Nation cruise passenger." While this may sound reasonable, Carnival cruise liners -- which owns the Nation's liner of choice, Holland America -- has been sited for numerous environmental damages over the years. The carbon credits will never offset the damage cruise liners do, nor repair the damage they have already done.....(full article)

Listen Gore: Some Inconvenient Truths About
the Politics of Environmental Crisis  
by Mitchel Cohen 

Al Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, raises the issue of global warming in a way that scares the bejeezus out of viewers, as it should since the consequences of global climate change are truly earth-shaking. The former Vice President does a good job of presenting the graphic evidence, exquisite and terrifying pictures that document the melting of the polar ice caps and the effects on other species, new diseases, and rising ocean levels. But, typically, the solutions Gore offers are standard Democratic Party fare. You'd never know by watching this film that Gore and Clinton ran this country for eight years and that their policies -- as much as those of the Bush regime -- helped pave the way for the crisis we face today....(full article)

Nobel Peace Prize Nominee's Freedom of Speech Trial 
by eileen fleming

Annually, for the last twenty years Mordechai Vanunu has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. This year, Vanunu has been nominated by Bishop Desmond Tutu, who received the Nobel Prize in 1984, for his courageous and fearless opposition against the South African apartheid system. At the Russian Compound in Jerusalem on February 2, 2007, Vanunu's freedom of speech trial which began on January 25, 2006 was concluded. The court brought 21 charges against him for giving interviews to foreign media in 2004: but the media has been missing in action during this historic trial. The only journalist present was also the final witness....(full article)

Forgotten February (A Brief Peek at America's Unrestrained Brutality) by Mickey Z.

Just in case anyone needs reminding that "USA" has always stood for "United States of Aggression," here are a forgotten few from February's Files....(full article

February 1

Christian Fascism: The Jesus Gestapo of St. Orwell
by Carolyn Baker

New York Times reporter, Chris Hedges, has written an extraordinary book, American Fascism: The Christian Right And The War On America. Having survived a Christian fundamentalist background myself, I marvel at the timely urgency of Hedges’ book, but also, at the obtuse disconnect most Americans have with the pivotal thesis of his book: the power of the religious right in the United States to bring forth a nation whose totalitarian repression could dwarf that of Nazi Germany in the 1930s. As Hedges notes, we are well on the path toward such a reality, and the Domionist Christian right is a principal player in the process. While the nucleus of that movement is small, measuring only about 1% of evangelicals and led by the likes of James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Jerry Falwell, and John Hagee, those leaders are supported by throngs of evangelicals sympathetic to their theocratic views who dutifully preach the consummate tenet of the movement, submission. Citizens must submit to their government officials, particularly the ones who claim to be born-again Christians and receiving their orders from God; wives must submit to husbands; children must submit to parents; and everyone must submit to the teachings of the bible as interpreted by evangelical Christianity or burn in hell. I will herein use the term “Christian fascism” or “Cristo-fascism” as synonymous with a worldview and political philosophy which are both fundamentalist Christian and fascist in nature.....(full article)

Whose Oil is it Anyway? Survival Strategies for Iran  
by Dr. Moti Nissani

In my view, the gravest error Iran could commit is underestimating the tenacity, determination, colossal greed, and Machiavellian brilliance of its American adversaries. Iran's black gold is simply too tempting for men who have been conditioned, all their lives, to dispense with any common decency whatsoever and to worship wealth and power. These men plan to re-colonize and depopulate Iran, and they are merely looking for the right moment. If that moment does not come on its own, they will skillfully create it. Neither Iran, nor any other country, could contain them through conventional wars. . . . To avoid this hell, Iranian policy should seek to outfox America's rulers at their own game, not, as Iran's decision-makers do now, by responding with justifiable but suicidal anger to American provocations. Somerset Maugham says someplace that the politicians he has known, seen, or heard about did not impress him with their brilliance. To survive, Iran's rulers must prove him wrong. How? (full article)

Stopping the Torture Business in Our Hometowns: An Interview With Christina Cowger of North Carolina Stop Torture Now 
by Ron Jacobs

I recently ran across a brief article in one of the daily newspapers here in North Carolina that described an effort by some of this state's legislators to begin an investigation of Aero Contractors and its involvement in the US government's rendition program. As most readers know, this program involves kidnapping, detaining and transporting individuals considered the enemy to prisons around the world where they are then tortured and kept incommunicado for months and years. The legislative effort is but one result of the efforts of a group known as North Carolina Stop Torture Now. What follows is the transcript of an email interview with Raleigh, NC resident and long-time peace and justice activist Christina Cowger, who serves as the group's coordinator.....(full interview)

Grandmothers for Peace Get Federal Prison Instead  
by Bill Quigley

Cathy Webster, a grandmother living in Chico California, organized "A Thousand Grandmothers for Peace" to protest in November 2006 against the torture-training School of the Americas (SOA) (now called the Western Institute of Security Cooperation or WHINSEC) located at Ft. Benning Georgia. SOA-WHINSEC has been the subject of international criticism since it was disclosed that torture manuals were used in the training of Latin American military personnel.  Amnesty International USA called for the closing of the school, an investigation into the human rights atrocities committed by its graduates, an apology to its victims and reparations. This week a federal judge in Columbus Georgia sentenced Ms. Webster to two months in federal prison for stepping through a hole in the fence onto the grounds of Ft. Benning to carry her protest to the doors of the SOA-WHINSEC....(full article)

Zyprexa Judge Sends Invite to New York Times Reporter 
by Evelyn Pringle

The judge in the Zyprexa secret document case has sent a New York Times reporter an invitation to attend a hearing in the on-going Eli Lilly fiasco in the US District Court for the Eastern District of New York. "This invitation," Judge Jack Weinstein wrote, "is intended to permit Alex Berenson to confront testimony received at a hearing in this court on January 16-17 implicating him in a conspiracy to obtain and publish confidential documents sealed by this court." According to Lilly, it took no part in extending this invitation. However, since when does a judge send out invitations, unsolicited by either side in litigation, to witnesses or by the sounds of it a potential defendants? (full article)

Measuring and Muffling Dissent -- By the Numbers 
by Glen Ford

Organizers are once again crying foul over the corporate media's undercount of last weekend's massive anti-war rally in Washington, DC. The danger here is not the undercount, which is to be expected from a lying media, but a "movement" practice that focuses on Big Events, to the detriment of grassroots organizing. After all, The Revolution Will Not Be Televised.....
(full article)

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