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(DV) October 2006 Articles

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October 31

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act May Soon Be Law
How Could This Happen? 
by Lee Hall

The Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act (H.R. 4239) is just days away from action in the House of Representatives. The bill sets out to label a wide range of advocacy “terrorism” for damaging or disrupting an animal-use enterprise or connected businesses. Although it exempts “lawful economic disruption that results from lawful public, governmental, or business reaction to the disclosure of information” about an enterprise, it could make nonviolent acts of civil disobedience into “terrorism” where they substantially affect corporate profits. An effective campaign using mailings and demonstrations against an animal circus, for example, could be called terrorism under the Act because it disrupted the enterprise. The bill also aims to place “force, violence and threats involving animal enterprises” inside another federal law -- one that authorizes “interception of wire, oral, or electronic communications.” Charged advocates could face long jail terms, or at a minimum be forced to spend substantial time and resources arguing that the action was constitutionally protected expression. Win or lose, those so charged would have to live with the stigma of being associated, however fallaciously, with terrorism. Other advocates might deliberately weaken or avoid what would otherwise be effective campaigns, so as to not suffer the same fate as people unfairly targeted under such a law. That is what’s known as the “chilling effect” on First Amendment rights.....(full article)

Halloween Without End: The Permanent Costume Ball of War, Politics
and Economic Manipulation
by Zbignew Zingh

Halloween is a backwards holiday. Once a year, we dress up as monsters and ghouls in parody of what America actually is all the rest of the year. Halloween is a kiddy protection racket, an extortion threat reduced to the level of a child's game. The original plea for a “treat” carries an implicit threat of retaliation if no sweets are put in the bag. “Trick or treat!” cry the kids who want candy in return for not toilet-papering your car or egging your house. “Trick or Treat!” shout the President, the Congress, the Pentagon and Wall Street as they hold out their bags to extort the world's wealth, its resources, its labor, its children, their futures and our lives. “Trick or Treat!” say the plutocrats, the neocons and neoliberals; “Trick or Treat, or our soldiers will blow up your houses, bomb you back to the Stone Ages; we'll throw you in prison, we'll beat you, torture you, rape you, shove 'democracy' down your throats.” “Trick or Treat!” scream ambassadors, generals, businessmen and god-mongers; “Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat! Trick or Treat!” And most of us, scared witless, cowed, terrified, pay the extortion, the price of the protection racket, to keep our jobs, to preserve our shrinking health care, to preserve the illusion of retirement benefits, to fill our cars with gas.....(full article)

The Consequences of the Death of Empathy  
by Robert Jensen

One of the most devastating consequences of unearned privilege -- both for those of us on top and, for very different reasons, those who suffer beneath -- is the death of empathy. Too many people with privileges of various kinds -- based on race or gender, economic status or citizenship in a powerful country -- go to great lengths not to know, to stay unaware of the reality of how so many live without our privilege. But even when we do learn, it’s clear that information alone doesn’t always lead to the needed political action. For that, we desperately need empathy, the capacity to understand the experiences -- especially the suffering -- of others. Too often in this country, privilege undermines that capacity for empathy, limiting the possibilities for solidarity. Two examples from my recent experience brought this home for me.....(full article)

Snake Oil and the Midterm Elections 
by Joshua Frank

So we are in the trenches of another election season, and if you peer closely you can see the explosions on the horizon. I’m yet to be convinced the Democrats have the capacity to take back Congress, and to tell you the truth I don’t really care if they do. Not only do they not have the ability to lead, they also do not possess the moral impetus to change the direction of this country if they are lucky enough to regain control. Indeed they are just as responsible for the ruin in Iraq and back home as the Bushites. The Democrats have assisted the Republicans at virtually every turn over the past six years. From the bloody invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, to the passing of CAFTA, to the confirmations of Samuel Alito and John Roberts, to the support of the PATRIOT Act, to the dismantling of Habeas Corpus, to the championing of Bush’s ravaging forest plan, to backing Israel’s brutal assault on Lebanon -- the Democratic Party has long played the role of enabler. And now they want your vote.....(full article)

Texas vs. Tel Aviv: US Policy in the Middle East 
by James Petras

The struggle within the US power structure between the economic empire builders (EEB) and the civilian militarists/Zioncons over US Middle East and global policy is now out in the open and intensifying. The EEB now have a politically powerful organizational expression, the Baker Commission (known officially as the Iraq Study Group) led by the formidable former Secretary of State, James Baker. The EEB are backed by a group of bipartisan congressional leaders, sectors of the traditional military elite, a powerful coalition of Texas-based oil and gas groups and sectors of Wall Street financial houses and potentially a large majority of public opinion. Against them are the civilian militarists in the Pentagon, State Department and White House (Rumsfeld, Cheney, Rice, Bolton and Bush), a declining majority of Congressional Democrats and Republicans, the Presidents of the Major Jewish Organizations headed by the America-Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and their influential apparatchiks in the mass media and their numerous ‘grass roots’ political fronts (political action committees). What is at stake is of fundamental importance to the future of US politics, not only in the Middle East, which is the immediate catalyst for the drawing up of sides, but the entire way in which US policy is formulated and, equally important, how the US will engage in defending and expanding its global empire......(full article)

Democratic Congressional Candidate’s Wife Asks Cindy Sheehan
Not To Protest Iraq War 
by Stephen S. Pearcy

When America’s leading anti-war activist, Cindy Sheehan, got a phone call last week from Jan Brown, wife of Democratic Congressional candidate, Charles D. (“Charlie”) Brown, the last thing in the world Cindy expected was a plea from Ms. Brown, “mother-to-mother,” that Cindy stay away from a Sacramento anti-war protest. But that’s exactly what she got.....(full article)

The Battle in Seattle: Looking Back Seven Years 
by Mickey Z.

When activists made global headlines by essentially shutting down the meetings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) in Seattle in late 1999, the term "anti-globalization" was bandied about without much serious explanation. The majority of those in the streets were not against the literal concept of global interaction; it was the current form of remote control imperialism euphemistically known as trade or globalization that inspired the demonstrations.....(full article)

Somewhere Down The Izzy River:
Annexing the Pennsylvania “Terrortories” 
by Randy Shields

(Press Conference with President Bush)

Reporter A: Mr. President, last year the  American Council of Rabbinical Hydrologists concluded that a previously unknown biblical text proved  that God gave “the land of the three rivers” to the Jews. The council further determined  that these three rivers were the Allegheny, the Monongahela and the Ohio Rivers. In recent months, Jewish settlers have begun to establish “facts on the ground” at Fallingwater, Kennywood Amusement Park and, most controversially, the Pittsburgh Pirates’  PNC Park. What’s the administration’s policy on western Pennsylvania?

: Israel has the right to defend herself. I know that the moms and dads of Pittsburgh have some concerns about our strategy of victory in western Pennsylvania. But they have to understand that strengthening Israel helps bring stability and peace to the region.....(full transcript)

October 30

What’s a Liberal? 
by Gabriel Ash

Occasionally, I wonder. What’s a liberal? Thanks to Bruce Ackerman and Todd Gitlin, I recently found a compelling answer. Ackerman and Gitlin say that liberals stand for: "[T]he great principle of liberalism: that every citizen is entitled by right to the elementary means to a good life. We believe passionately that societies should afford their citizens equal treatment under the law -- regardless of accidents of birth, race, sex, property, religion, ethnic identification, or sexual disposition . . . ." And, "Public commitment to reason and evidence is the bedrock of a pluralist democracy." So I thought to myself: wow! If that’s the definition of a liberal, then I surely am one. Then it occurred to me to list a couple of very dissimilar examples of victimization that happened within the last six years.....(full article)

Hallelujah: Evangelicals Finally Souring on the War
by Gary Leupp

According to a just released PEW Research Center poll, support for the war in Iraq among evangelical Christians in the U.S. has plummeted over the last few weeks. In September, 61% of this group thought the war was going well. That figure is down to 48% in late October. In September, 71% supported Bush’s decision to go to war; now, only 58% think it was proper. Meanwhile among Republicans in general, 76% supported the decision to attack in September, while 78% do in October. Thus evangelicals are actually now more likely than their more secular party comrades to oppose the war......(full article)

It’s the Culture, Stupid!
Burying Slogans and Honoring the Dead 
by Gary Corseri

Way back in the halcyon days of 1992, before 9/11, Clinton’s elfin spinmeister-campaign-manager James Carville, infamously hung a sign at the future president’s headquarters: “It’s the economy, stupid!” The message was -- Stay on message. The Dems’ message this year is equally as simple and simplistic. It amounts to a real-estate mantra: location, location, location. Iraq, Iraq, Iraq. Chanting that slogan, millions of people will follow the Dems into the next Slough of Despond. A large part of me hopes they succeed. An even larger part hopes they open their eyes before they sink too deep. We have, in fact, been sinking for a long time -- since Hamilton’s day and before.....(full article)

Child Abuse: As American as Apple Pie  
by Lucinda Marshall

Lost in the homophobic political and media posturing over the Mark Foley incident is the reality that there is a global pandemic of sexual and non-sexual child abuse. The scandalous thing about the Mark Foley incident isn't that he is gay. It isn't about pedophilia either, because the roots of that word come from a Greek word meaning to love children, but there is nothing loving about sexually abusing children.  What is truly scandalous is that we live in a society where not only is such behavior condoned in the hallowed halls of Congress, but in every corner of both this country and the entire world.....(full article)

Weather or Not … 
by Peter Kurth

Hey, can we talk about the weather this week?  I don’t mean “global warming,” which people talk about a lot, even though nothing seems to get done about it. I’m sure you, like all of us, are doing everything in your power, in your little bitty way, to prevent the looming calamity of climate change, such as switching your light bulbs and walking to work. But let’s face it -- until the whole screeching, screaming, over-producing, mass-consuming culture of predatory capitalism comes crashing down around us, this planet’s going to keep on heating up. And the best thing I can say about that is that we’ll get to blame the Chinese when we pass the tipping point, because they’re so incredibly irresponsible with their greenhouse gas emissions. I mean, really -- is a booming economy worth that much?  Think about it. No, when I say I want to talk about the weather, I mean I want to talk about it the way people do when they don’t want to talk about something else.  It’s like when they say, “How are you?” And you say, “I’m fine.”  And they say, “Me, too.” It doesn’t mean a thing. It’s just a way of talking about nothing, when, in fact, you’ve probably got terrible things going on in your life. Let’s say you’ve just lost your job, or run over a cat, or found your wife in bed with another woman -- your sister, maybe -- and you’d do anything, absolutely anything, to enter that state of “denial” everyone tells you you’re already in if you’re dumb enough to let things get beyond the “How are you?” point.....(full article)

The Rise and Fall of the UN 
by James Cooke

One’s opinion of the United Nations reveals a lot about political consciousness; and because perception is usually based on experience, it’s only natural that people from different countries have opposing views about the UN and its pillar institutions -- the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO). In the United States, familiarity of the UN is limited to vague notions of “international democracy” and “peacekeeping,” words that inspire the noblest of intentions; the World Bank and IMF on the other hand are institutions that invoke little reaction among the US public. How and by whom the UN was formed, whose interests it serves, and the actual history of its “peacekeeping” missions are all things rarely examined. It is the purpose of this essay to look at the formation and development of the UN, and in so doing, attempt to show the evolution of the capitalistic system itself, which was “reborn” upon the back of these hardly-neutral organizations.....(full article)

An Interview With Peter Camejo on the Unions and California Politics 
by Javier Armas

On the eve of the mid-term elections, union activist Javier Armas interviews former Green Party gubernatorial candidate Peter Camejo.....(full interview)

October 27

Selling Satan: Iraqi War Dead and the
Collateral Damage to America's Soul 
by Phil Rockstroh

All human beings have a talent for the denial of the more unpalatable aspects of ourselves, but we Americans have turned denial into a form of collective genius. There is no need to burn books, if the public is too ignorant to know they exist, or too benumbed to resonate with their content. Regarding the death of well over half-a-million Iraqis, the majority of the citizenry of The Corporatist States of America have experienced a comparable degree of regret and remorse that their oligarchic overlords experience when topping off the tanks of their corporate jets with fuel purchased with money plundered from their employee's retirement accounts . . . sans conscience above -- sans conscience below.....(full article)

Angelina Can Eat My Ashes  
by Leilla Matsui

Dear Madonna,
You are no doubt dismayed by the public outrage that has greeted your decision to adopt a baby boy from Malawi -- a country that most people in the West probably only know from the ad campaigns of charitable organizations showing sickly babies covered in flies, while being watched over by your former wedding guests, now sockless and stubbled with earnest three-day beards. I imagine that you are shocked, truly shocked that anyone would question your decision to remove a child from such unimaginable suffering as having Bono and Bob Geldof breathing down his crib. And what kind of person would condemn someone so young to a life of grinding poverty, especially someone with millions at her disposal; a loving "mammy" who will tote her little “mchanga” around in a 1,200-thread-count batik Snuggly specially designed for him by Tom Ford himself, and provide him with every consumer item under the less skin-damaging sun. Little David Banda is the luckiest boy in the world, you repeat to yourself 666 times a day while fiddling with your little red thread bracelet, because that's how every self-serving mantra eventually becomes truth. It's written in the Khabible. One minute little what’s-his-name is languishing in an overcrowded, under funded orphanage in one of the poorest nations on earth, and the next minute he's soaring over the ocean in a private jet to make his new home on a palatial English estate, where he will be tended to by a complete staff of servants and diapered in monogrammed Pampers. You have even sweetened the deal with a complete DVD box set of The Lion King so that he can immerse himself in African culture. You would think that would shut up those annoying people who think removing a child from his own people and culture is somehow a bad thing, even if said culture hasn't yet invented pots to piss in....(full letter)

Heavy Lies the Head of the Poodle Dog: Will Pakistan's Musharraf Have His Ears Trimmed by the Bush Administration?
by Zbignew Zingh

Political poodle dogs lead a tough life. Just ask Saddam. Your owner trains you, feeds you, encourages you to bite and take a dump in other people's yards. But as Mr. Hussein learned the hard way, no matter how many people you've attacked just following orders, if you pee on your Master's pant leg even just once, you're certain to be put down. By contrast, Tony Blair, prime minister of the formerly great Britain, is a poodle of a different color. He sits when told to sit, heels on command, barks when ordered to bark, and never stops licking his master's hand. Good dog, Mr. Prime Minister! Mr. Blair won't bite the hand that feeds him, though he repeatedly bites the citizens who he is supposed to serve. In return for his canine obedience, Mr. Blair remains England's top running dog, even though he has to be contented as small companion to the pack's American Alpha male . . . . Pervez Musharraf of Pakistan is a different kind of canine, however -- more like a wily coyote than a truly domesticated dog. Like the rest of the pack, Mr. Musharraf is a favorite of some of the boys in the Bush Administration, probably because he, like their Washington boss, also was never democratically elected. There are rumblings in Washington, however, that some at the highest levels of policy-making think the Pak-poodle, Musharraf, is no longer useful. They are preparing to have him neutered, to trim his ears and tail, or to have him retired to the shelter for abandoned dogs.....(full article)

Iraq is Post-Tet 
by Ahmed Amr

You can always count on Thomas Friedman to figure a novel way to shore up support for the neo-con project in Iraq. At the start of this war of choice, Friedman made his position very clear. In his very own words, he was “all for a war for oil.” Among other things, the man who started his career as an oil analyst for the New York Times predicted that the “cakewalk” in Mesopotamia would be followed by a decline in crude prices. Sulzberger’s foreign policy “guru” was just slightly off the mark. Oil prices have tripled. In the interest of brevity, let’s put aside Thomas Fraudulent’s economic talents and focus instead on how economical he is with the truth on all matters Middle Eastern. But before we forget some of his many limitations, it’s worth keeping in mind that this scribe writes for the same rag and the same publisher that gave Judith Miller a free pass to market the war by disseminating fabricated WMD intelligence. How likely is it that Friedman was not aware of Miller’s scam? Is it possible that he had no clue about the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans -- the neo-con canard factory set up by Douglas Feith with the explicit purpose of corrupting WMD intelligence? Which brings us to Friedman’s recent comparison of the current situation in Iraq to the 1968 Tet offensive. Tom, we’re way post-Tet in Iraq. But it was a nice try, mister Fraudulent. A lot of analysts were surprised that the administration embraced this “Thomas Fraudulent” analysis from the New York Times. Because when the “V” word in Iraq goes from “Victory” to “Vietnam” -- America takes notice that something is not going according to the original plan.....(full article)

How the Bush Family Makes a Killing from George's Presidency 
by Heather Wokusch

Halliburton scored almost $1.2 billion in revenue from contracts related to Iraq in the third quarter of 2006, leading one analyst to comment: "Iraq was better than expected... Overall, there is nothing really to question or be skeptical about. I think the results are very good." Very good indeed. An estimated 655,000 dead Iraqis, over 3,000 dead coalition troops, billions stolen from Iraq's coffers, a country battered by civil war - but Halliburton turned a profit, so the results are very good. Very good certainly for Vice President Dick Cheney, who resigned from Halliburton in 2000 with a $33.7 million retirement package (not bad for roughly four years of work). In a stunning conflict of interest, Cheney still holds more than 400,000 stock options in the company. Why pursue diplomacy when you can rake in a personal fortune from war? Yet Cheney isn't the only one who has benefited from the Bush administration's destructive policies. The Bush family has done quite nicely too. Just a few examples......(full portfolio)

Sibel Edmonds Vindicated?
FBI Reveals Investigation Continues 
by John Stanton

On October 10, 2006, FBI spokesman Bill Carter confirmed that matters raised by Sibel Edmonds and shielded form public view by the invocation of the US States Secret privilege were still under internal investigation by the Bureau. “Due to the fact that the allegations of Sibel Edmonds reflect internal administrative and investigative matters it would not be appropriate to respond to your inquiry. I will point out that the DOJ Office of the Inspector General has reviewed this matter and released a public report. I would refer this report to you for your review.  The Inspector General's report concluded that the FBI did not adequately investigate allegations Ms. Edmonds made regarding a co-worker. After the OIG's initial classified report, the FBI conducted further investigation into Ms. Edmonds' allegations. That investigation is continuing.” Back in March of 2002, Edmonds was released from the FBI over her discovery of an array of espionage activities. Looking back, and with the benefit of new information from the FBI and elsewhere, it appears that the government of Turkey was spectacularly successfully in compromising FBI, CIA, DEA, DIA and DOS operations, and was also able to mount other espionage programs that allowed Turkish interests to obtain assorted military and WMD technology know-how, and garner US and Israeli military support for its bloody internal struggle against its significant and much maligned Kurdish population/opposition.....(full article)

Out of the Shadows: Israel's Minister of Strategic Threats 
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The furor that briefly flared this week at the decision of Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, to invite Avigdor Lieberman and his Yisrael Beiteinu party into the government coalition is revealing, but not in the way most observers assume. Lieberman, a Russian immigrant, is every bit the populist and racist politician he is portrayed as being. Like many of his fellow politicians, he harbors a strong desire to see the Palestinians of the occupied territories expelled, ideally to neighboring Arab states or Europe. Lieberman, however, is more outspoken than most in publicly advocating for this position. Where he is seen as overstepping the mark is in arguing that the state should strip up to a quarter of a million Palestinians living inside Israel of their citizenship and seal them and their homes into the Palestinian ghettoes being created inside the West Bank (presumably in preparation for the moment when they will all be expelled to Jordan). He believes any remaining Arab citizens should be required to sign a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish and democratic state” -- loyalty to a democratic state alone will not suffice. Any who refuse will be physically expelled from Israel. And, as a coup de grace, he has recently demanded the execution for treason of any Arab parliamentarian who talks to the Palestinian leadership in the occupied territories or commemorates Nakba Day, which marks the expulsion and permanent dispossession of the Palestinian people in 1948. That would include every elected representative of Israel’s Arab population.....(full article)

Hollywood, Record Execs and . . . Boy Scouts?
In Support of Piracy
by Alexander Billet

The “Scout Law” of the Boy Scouts of America reads, “a scout is true to his family, Scout leaders, friends, school, and nation.” And now they’ve apparently added “Paramount, Sony, EMI, Warner Brothers and Walt Disney” to that list. An October 20th press release from the Motion Picture Association of America announced that it has teamed up with over 52,000 Boy Scouts in the Los Angeles area to unveil the latest merit badge: the Respect Copyrights Activity Patch. The badge’s artwork includes the images of a film reel, a record, and the familiar circle-C copyright logo. “Working with the Boy Scouts, we have the opportunity to educate a new generation about how movies are made, why they are valuable, and hopefully change attitudes about intellectual property theft,” said Dan Glickman, the Chairman and CEO of the MPAA. The program is meant to inform Scouts about the danger of internet “piracy,” and teach them ways for them and their friends to discourage it (i.e. how to identify counterfeit CDs and DVDs). According to the Los Angeles Times, the inspiration came from a Boy Scout troop in Hong Kong which had its members pledge not only abstain from using pirated files, but also turn in groups and individuals who did. While the LA Scouts have yet to go this far, one wonders how long until they do.....
(full -- and free -- article)

The Ballad of Said and Nancy, Or: “Americans Against America” 
by Mark W. Bradley

Speaking as someone who’s devoted his entire life to the reckless dismantling of our country’s defenses (and who tirelessly seeks to strengthen the hand of our merciless terrorist adversaries), I must tell you that posing as a “Civil Libertarian Defender of the Constitution” has proven to be the most effective and ingenious cover I’ve ever found for concealing my many and varied subversive activities. Let me explain.....(full article)

Bioneers Sparks Defensive New York Times Reaction  
by Shepherd Bliss

After seventeen years of ignoring the growing Bioneers, the New York Times finally evolved to the second stage of ridicule. The Bioneers drew over 3,000 people to its annual conference in San Rafael, California, Oct. 20-22.  It was beamed by satellite to another 10,000 people at eighteen communities around the United States from Honolulu to Anchorage to Houston to Massachusetts. Then those some 13,000 people went home around the country and beyond to talk to their friends about what they learned. The Times’ Oct. 24 article cynically describes the event as a “pep rally,” a “megachurch for the Prius set” and “true believers” and “a monoculture, a love-fest between graying activists and youthful idealists.” As one of those “graying activists,” now 62, I appreciate the Times’ growth into adolescence by covering this newsworthy event and await its maturing to understand at least some of the ideas advanced by the scientists and others at Bioneers.  Perhaps better to be ridiculed than ignored.....(full article)

October 24

A Sign of the Times: Signing Statements and Executive Power 
by Chris Salzberg

Several months ago in a widely quoted article, veteran Boston Globe reporter Charlie Savage detailed pronouncements by the Bush administration, recorded in so-called "signing statements," claiming "the authority to disobey more than 750 laws" passed by Congress, purportedly due to conflicts with the president's interpretation of the Constitution. A major public debate, previously relegated to experts of American constitutional law, subsequently erupted across the country and internationally over legal implications to privacy rights, civil liberty laws, definitions of torture, limits on presidential power, and much else besides. The nonpartisan Congressional Research Service (CRS), in a report drawn up for lawmakers, warned last month that "the sheer number of challenges contained in the signing statements . . . indicate[s] that the current Administration is using this presidential instrument . . . to aggressively assert presidential prerogatives" in an attempt to "inure Congress, as well as others, to the belief that the president in fact possesses expansive and exclusive powers," a conclusion echoed by legal and political commentators......(full article)

America’s Church/State “Roll in the Hay” Backfires 
by Lee Salisbury

We now have it from a reputable source that the Bush team, led by who else but Karl Rove, exploited the credulity of Christian fundamentalists to further Republican political ambitions while behind their back, scorning them as "nuts," "ridiculous," and "boorish."  One wonders how the likes of Jerry Falwell, James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Tony Perkins, and their Christian followers feel knowing the Bush White House holds them in derision. My bet? Per usual, they're in complete denial and will pretend it never happened. Most of the time we feel sorry for those who have been duped. However, not in this case.  The holier-than-thou crowd got scammed with the same scheme they use on their own followers. Fundamentalism’s faith-based thinking conditions its adherents for just this kind of con job. Their faith says, "don't think, just believe and obey." Or as Proverbs 3:5 says, “Lean not on your own understanding.” Skepticism and critical thinking are anathema....(full revelation)

No Time to Be Silent: Activists Under Fire for Protesting
Minutemen Racists at Columbia 

by Alan Maass

The protest against the anti-immigrant Minutemen at Columbia University and the national media uproar that followed highlight both the growing threat of the far right and the challenges facing those who want to confront racism. The planned speech by Minutemen founder Jim Gilchrist at Columbia was part of an effort by the racist group to gain a foothold on college campuses -- and to further burnish the group’s newly “respectable” image. It wasn’t a surprise that the right-wing media would turn the facts on their heads and use the protest to accuse immigrant rights supporters of violence and attacking “free speech.” But unfortunately, some liberals and even radicals joined in the denunciations. Progressive magazine editor Matthew Rothschild said the Columbia protest was “a defeat for free speech worthy not of progressives, but of goons.” Jon Stewart of the Daily Show claimed the protesters made Sean Hannity of Fox News “look like the reasonable one.” Such arguments display both ignorance of what Gilchrist and the Minutemen represent, and disrespect for the historical commitment of the left to speak out against racism and oppression.....(full article)

Mutually Assured Dysfunction:
David Frum and the American Enterprise Institute 
by Thomas Riggins

This article will parse an article from the pro-Bush camp: an article written by a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute (quite representative of the tortured and factually incorrect so-called reasoning produced by the mouth pieces housed there and fed by the corporate big shots who subsidize this outfit), a former speech writer for Bush (he claims to have coined the “axis of evil” phrase) by the name of David Frum. His article, “Mutually Assured Disruption” (New York Times op ed page, 10-10-2006) purports to present a plan for what should be done as a response to the recent nuclear test by North Korea. Frum gives four major proposals that he thinks, if adopted, will further American interests. By “American interests” he means those of the military-industrial complex. All four of these suggestions would seriously hurt the interests of the vast majority of the American people as well as those of the people who live in the Pacific area. I hope to demonstrate that all of his proposals are not only dumb, but would be disastrous. You can then judge if this is the type of person who should be writing speeches for, or being listened to by, the Bush administration. But I should note, while Frum denies it, that he was reportedly fired by the White House.....(full article)

-- Iran: The Unthinkable War, Part IV --
What Makes for a Real “Terrorist State”?
by Juan Santos

It’s difficult to analyze claims that Iran is a “rogue state” or a “state sponsor of terror.” So much depends on definitions, and the definitions themselves depend on actual -- not theoretical -- comparisons with the practices of other states. Another difficulty is the depth of xenophobic, knee jerk conditioning of people in the West with respect to Iran. It’s been almost 30 years since the so-called Iran hostage crisis, when, at the crescendo of the overthrow of the US sponsored torture state of Shah Reza Pahlavi, Iranian students seized the US embassy in Teheran, holding captive the US personnel whose job it had been to support the dictator’s regime, and to assure its compliance with US mandates.....(full article)

-- Ruminations on Thomas Friedman, Part III --
Look Ma, No Head! Or, How Thomas Friedman
Invented Globalization All By Himself
by Lila Rajiva

Thomas Friedman’s misuse of metaphor may be actionable and his meager statistical evidence a thing of shame, but as with all world improvers his cardinal crime is vanity. He looks in the mirror, puffs out his mustache, and falls in love. And then he goes forth with Christian charity to spread that love over the face of the earth. He means to make converts of the new global players but he can hardly tell apart one from the other. It is overweening vanity that is behind most of the flaws in the methodology of this book, The World is Flat. Instead of humbly studying what is under his nose, instead of doing the tedious legwork of research, the man would rather pull metaphors out of his hat and disappear the facts into them with parlor tricks....
(full article)

When “Anti-War” Doesn't Mean Anti-War
by Mickey Z.

A casual stroll through most major U.S. cities would provide ample opportunity to encounter numerous stickers, buttons, t-shirts, and window signs bearing anti-war messages. Well, maybe not exactly "anti-war," but more like: anti-THIS-war. There's been some version of a peace movement in America for over a century, but far too many of those speaking out against the U.S. invasion of Iraq are not strictly "anti-war." From what I can tell, more than a few of them have absolutely no problem with: wars started by their [sic] party and/or wars that the U.S. easily wins [sic].....(full article)

October 22

An End of Enmity Agreement: Easy Fix for the
North Korean Nuke Crisis?  
by Gary Leupp

According to the South Korean Chosun Ilbo newspaper, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il has told a senior Chinese envoy that “he is sorry about the nuclear test” and plans no more of them. Meanwhile North Korea’s chief nuclear negotiator tells ABC’s Diane Sawyer in Pyongyang that, “We believe that the nuclear test that we’ve already held gives us full deterrent, sufficient deterrent power, and we hope to return to six-party talks.” While Condoleezza Rice says she has had no confirmation of the South Korean reports let’s just assume for the moment that they’re true. What would North Korea have to lose, after all, by apologizing? The Chosun Ilbo apparently doesn’t quote the Dear Leader directly. Maybe he said, “We regret the nuclear test. We regret the fact that the Americans, because of their hostile stance, forced us to do it.” According to a poll taken by Research Plus, 43% percent of South Koreans think the U.S. is “responsible for North Korea’s declared nuclear test,” while only 37% blame Pyongyang! Especially following the criminal invasion of Iraq, a whole lot of people around the world empathize with any clear target of U.S. imperialist pressure and threats.....(full article)

-- The Anti-Empire Report --
The Jingo Bells are Ringing  
by William Blum

William Blum on North Korean nukes, US meddling in Nicaragua, Bill Clinton's actual crimes in office (as he travels around the country associating himself with "good causes" . . . and with the prospect that Lady Macbeth will run for office in 2008), and Homeland Security and the terrorist threat of . . . . ice cream? (full article)

New World Order and the Economic Man  
by Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

Once a week, I watch the American CBS TV program 60 minutes. This time, part of the program was about the latest fad among some teenagers: beating homeless people, sometimes resulting in death. The reporters had obtained the footage of a security camera which showed how four young men beat an unfortunate homeless man for fun. The reporter then interviewed another young man (part of a group of four) that had participated in the killing of a homeless man. When the reporter asked the young man why he had done this, he replied for fun. The reporter went on to point out how a DVD film called Bumfight, in which two homeless people were paid to beat each other, had become very popular among American teenagers. The National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) says that beating the defenseless homeless people has become a perverse national trend. Across the country, packs of teenage boys are stalking homeless people and attacking them. The reporter went on to blame the Bumfight DVD and its twenty-something-year-old producer (who incidentally had sold his DVD rights for $1.5 million) for being partly responsible for these attacks. The day after I began to receive the usual calls from friends and associates: did you watch 60 Minutes last night? Wasn’t it awful? How can these sorts of things happen? Well, that is the US for you. It seemed to me that what my friends hadn’t realized was that what happens in US today will happen in London a few months later and then it spreads throughout Europe. Usually we get a milder form, a bit later in Norway. The fact is that the US is a trendsetter. If they succeed in their policies, we adopt them, and if they fail, well, we won’t touch them. But sometimes their success is illusory and comes with a very heavy price tag. But by the time the Americans realize this, we have already jumped on board hoping to take advantage of whatever new technique or policies that they have come up with.....(full article)

Democracy and Debate: Killing Iraq 
by Media Lens

How do we judge the health of a free society? How do we distinguish the appearance of democracy from the reality? There are no hard and fast rules, no scientific methodologies. But as a rule of thumb it is safe to suggest that we can learn much from a society's willingness to address the humanitarian crimes for which it is responsible. In a totalitarian society, we would expect such a discussion to be absent in any meaningful sense. But in a genuinely free society, we would expect a thorough, detailed and unrestrained debate. Although this second expectation is itself based on an important assumption: namely, that individual freedom implies moral concern, a sense of responsibility for the suffering of others. We assume that to be a free human being means, also, to be free from the bonds of selfishness and indifference. October 11 and 12 were significant dates, then, for anyone seeking to establish something of the truth of our own society.....(full article)

Iraq: What Does “Job Done” Mean? 
by Sarah Meyer

The mantra, since the bloody and illegal war in Iraq started, has been: “we will leave Iraq when the job is done.” What exactly does this mean? Why doesn’t anyone ask Mr. Bush/Blair what “job done” means? (full article)

The Antiwar Movement and Independent Politics:
An Interview with Cindy Sheehan 
by Joshua Frank

Joshua Frank and antiwar activist Cindy Sheehan discuss the upcoming elections, the antiwar movement and the Democrats, and hopes for a viable third party in the US....(full interview)

Cindy Sheehan’s Lesser-Evilism: Democrats or Bust? 
by Joshua Frank

You can sure tell it’s an election year. Despite the fact that over 2,770 US soldiers and 600,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed in Iraq, the mainstream antiwar movement, or what’s left of it, has failed to hold the two war parties accountable for the destruction and death they’ve initiated. And perhaps most disappointing of all, Cindy Sheehan, the brave soul who almost single handily resurrected the antiwar movement from the dark vestiges of the 2004 elections, has now surrendered to the politics of lesser-evilism....
(full article)

Poisoning US Troops: Anthrax, Lies and Vaccines 
by Heather Wokusch

The US Defense Department quietly announced last Monday that mandatory anthrax vaccinations would resume for military personnel and civilians deploying to 28 countries across the globe and even for some based in the US. The Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs said, "Time and again (this vaccine) has been looked at by experts, ... and each time the conclusion is the vaccine is safe and it is effective." Tell that to the family of Jesse Lusian. The 24-year-old Northern Californian died last month "from complications resulting from an anthrax vaccine he received while serving our country as a Merchant Marine on a cargo ship in Diego Garcia, a Navy Support Facility in the Middle East." And tell it to Senior Airman Tom Colosimo, who suffered from fatigue, headaches and painful cysts after first being vaccinated in February 1998. Colosimo soon lost 50 pounds, had dangerous fainting spells and was diagnosed with anthrax intoxication, yet faced a "retaliatory" military when he tried to get medical care for his increasingly debilitating condition. Tragic cases such as those of Lusian and Colosimo will become more commonplace when potentially hundreds of thousands of military personnel and civilians are soon forced to take the anthrax vaccine. There's no excuse....(full article)

Which Side Are You On? 
Fifth Anniversary of the US Attack on Afghanistan:
The Other War Based on Lies  
by Sharon Smith

The October 7 anniversary of the war on Afghanistan passed unnoticed on U.S. soil -- sparing the Bush administration the embarrassment of accounting for the fate of Afghanistan’s 30 million people five years after the U.S. launched the first “regime change” in its war on terror. An honest accounting is long overdue, however, not merely among those who prosecuted this disastrous war -- but also for the antiwar movement, whose sole focus in opposing the war on Iraq sustains the fiction that the war on Afghanistan was a justifiable response to 9/11. It was not....(full article)

Vote to End Human Sacrifice on November 7  
by Dennis Rahkonen

Mussolini, Hitler and George Bush all flimflammed their citizens to sell wars of naked aggression. They told huge lies and mounted elaborate deceptions before launching utterly unprovoked, illegal, immoral attacks on countries that had done nothing to warrant being violently victimized. The overwhelming majority of humankind appreciates that undeniable truth, but some Americans are still lost in propaganda fog and wrongly believe there's virtue, or legitimate defensive requirement, in staying in Iraq until "the job is done." How do we reach those holdouts against reality, those enablers of continuing sacrifice of both U.S. and Iraqi innocents in a rich man's dirty war fought to "access" somebody else's oil? How do we remove their hands from the bloody meat grinder's turning handle? Maybe the best way is to offer a reverse perspective.....(full article)

October 18

A Journey Through The Mind Of Contemporary Conservatism:
Clutching Our Values Aboard The Death Train Of Empire
by Phil Rockstroh

Day-to-day life within an empire consists of the deceitful leading the disengaged. Although when the artifice shielding a nation’s populace from the ruthlessness of their leaders begins to fall away, hysteria and displaced rage rises in the land. Ergo, in the American empire, we’re witnessing these demented days of congressional boy love and despotic rockets. Day after day, the pace at which insane tidings arrive quickens: it’s as if we’ve become passengers on a high-speed train, commandeered by lunatics, that only stops at insane asylums in order to board more lunatics. Naturally, it follows that the train has gone runaway, careening down the buckling tracks, blue spark spraying from its steel wheels, while any approaching curve becomes a threat to derail the whole hurdling madhouse. For many years, these episodes of mass psychosis have been gaining velocity. Empires are inherently bughouse crazy because, by their very nature, they grow conservative to the point of becoming totalitarian. After a time, the singular raison d'être of this form of pathological conservatism is to fiercely cling to the things it has gained through expansionist practices and policies. In addition, it must find ways to rationalize the brutal and deceitful means required to sustain itself.....(full article)

Hiding the Dead Bodies in Iraq
by Ahmed Amr

In his recent press conference -- George Bush pushed aside the recent findings of a British study that estimated that over 600,000 Iraqis had perished in the war in Iraq. That’s one in forty of the inhabitants of the country he set out to “liberate.” The American equivalent would be seven million fatalities -- over twice as many victims as the combined American casualties from every war since the founding of the Republic. In dismissing the findings of the John Hopkins Lancet report, the Stalinist neo-con statisticians in the White House criticized the “discredited” methodology. Of course, the president never bothers to volunteer his own estimate or discuss why some of the ample resources under his command have not been directed at keeping an honest tally of the carnage he has unleashed. It would be unfair to suggest that Bush administration doesn’t have its own time-tested methodology for estimating the amount of blood shed by our colonial subjects in Mesopotamia. From the very first day of the conflict, they made it clear that they “don’t do body counts.” True to their word, they have spared no effort to make good on that promise.....(full article)

Who Killed My Democracy? 
On Republicans, Cheese, Mice, Rats, and Littlepeople:
Challenging Times for the War Party in Power  
by Paul Street

It’s time, perhaps, for the Republicans to call on the services of Dr. Samuel Johnson, author of Who Moved My Cheese? In that corporate-anthropomorphic masterwork that became a runaway bestseller at the end of the lat millennium, Dr. Johnson helped millions of Americans move beyond the negative thoughts and feelings they harbored over the loss of their jobs, earnings, lives and communities to the inexorable workings of the corporate economy. His book received rave reviews and gushing critical praise from such noted literary authorities as IBM, Exxon, Proctor & Gamble, General Electric and their friend the U.S. Army....(full article)

Bush’s S.S. Grills 14-Year-Old Over Funny, Appealing Art 
by Stephen S. Pearcy 

Two super-sized adult male U.S. Secret Service (“S.S.”) agents banged on the front door at 14-year-old Julia Wilson’s home last Thursday during school hours, but Julia wasn’t home. Predictably (except to the S.S. agents), the straight-A student was in her microbiology class at school. But Julia’s mother, Kirstie, was home. When she opened her front door, she was a little taken aback, not only by the sizes of the agents and the official nature of the visit, but also by their questions and demeanor after she welcomed them inside. The S.S. agents told Kirstie that they were investigating her daughter’s role in setting up a MySpace Web page. In particular, they were troubled because the Web page included the creation of art (pictured above) that the agents felt was extremely threatening to the life of the President of the United States.....(full article)

Nukes: Iran and North Korea are Not the Problem 
by Mickey Z.

Thanks to the nuclear aspirations of North Korea and Iran, there's no shortage of rhetoric along these lines: "We can't let rogue nations have nukes. They might use them." Absent from the discussion are two elementary questions. First: What is the only nation to have used nuclear weapons (and have civilians been targeted)? (full article)

October 16

Genocide in Iraq: The Numbers Tell the Horrific Story of a
Lying Government and Complicit Corporate Media
by Kim Petersen

As reported by BBC News, a forthcoming study in the academic peer review journal Lancet estimates the extra number of people killed because of the aggression-occupation of Iraq at 655,000 -- up from a previous Lancet study that estimated 100,000 deaths since the US-UK attacked Iraq. All the killing has its origin in US-UK government lies. Weapons of mass destruction were just a pretext as acknowledged by Ziocon Paul Wolfowitz in a Vanity Fair interview, and the invasion was a foregone matter as revealed by the Downing Street Memos. There is an ongoing genocide in Iraq. What else can over 600,000 killings be deemed but genocide? A price “worth it”? George W. Bush, who some consider the elected president of the United States, labeled the killings in Darfur as genocide over a year ago. But, in totality and proportionally, the number of deaths in Sudan pale in comparison to the number of deaths in Iraq.....(full article)

Debating the Hardcore Deluded: Some Suggestions 
by Gary Leupp

According to a recent poll, 63% of Americans now favor the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq. The percentage of Americans favoring immediate withdrawal has increased from 31 in June to 37 now, while those favoring gradual withdrawal has declined. 30 percent of Americans want to stay the course, a figure unchanged from June. This 30 percent is the hard core, the Bushite faithful, corresponding in large measure to the evangelical religious right. Just as this poll comes out we learn of a scientific study that suggests that over 600,000 Iraqis have died in war-related violence since 2003. That’s about three times the number I’d have thought, but the researchers’ methodology has been validated by experts in such polls. So I’m going to assume with the researchers that the war death toll is at least at the level of their low figure of 392,979. My question to the 30 percent is this: If this study is accurate, and not dismissible as just a bunch of liberal propaganda, how can you continue to support the war in Iraq? Let me try to put myself into the head of one such person, and imagine what sort of logic I might apply -- in that mental mode -- to the present situation......(full article)

Israel’s Plan for a Military Strike on Iran 
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

The Middle East, and possibly the world, stands on the brink of a terrible conflagration as Israel and the United States prepare to deal with Iran’s alleged ambition to acquire nuclear weapons. Israel, it becomes clearer by the day, wants to use its air force to deliver a knock-out blow against Tehran. It is not known whether it will use conventional weapons or a nuclear warhead in such a strike. At this potentially cataclysmic moment in global politics, it is good to see that one of the world’s leading broadcasters, the BBC, decided this week to air a documentary entitled “Will Israel bomb Iran?” It is the question on everyone’s lips and doubtless, with the imprimatur of the BBC, the ill sell around the world. The good news ends there, however. Because the program addresses none of the important issues raised by Israel’s increasingly belligerent posture towards Tehran.....(full article)

North Korea’s Bomb 
by John Chuckman

You might think from all the political noise that something extraordinary happened when North Korea conducted an underground nuclear explosion. But let's put the test, apparently a small-yield, inefficient device, into some perspective....(full article)

“Heaven and Earth Shake with Cheers for Kim Jong-il!”
North Korea as a Religious State
by Gary Leupp

All three countries labeled “the Axis of Evil” by President Bush in 2002 are presently religious states. Iran is of course a Shiite theocracy, while the government of formerly secularist Iraq -- to the extent it has a government at all -- is dominated by Shiite fundamentalists. North Korea has long practiced its state religion, Kim Il-songism.....(full article)

The Boom Heard Around the World?  
by Ron Jacobs

August 29, 1949, Soviet Union. October 16, 1964, Peoples Republic of China. October 7, 2006, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Three dates. Three first time nuclear tests by three enemies (at their respective times) of Washington. All three tests were preceded by threats from that same Washington that warned of dire consequences for the governments that dare to ignore those threats. In their wake, the tests were condemned by Washington and whoever its allies at the time might have been. Then, the world continued on. In retrospect, this was probably because the Soviet Union presented a counterweight to Washington's swaggering desires.....
(full article)

Blaming Others First: Warmongering and the "Pseudo-environment"
of Warped American Exceptionalism  
by Walter C. Uhler

. . . Consider the national "pseudo-environment" of the United States: "American exceptionalism." Is it anything more than faith, devoid of any first-hand experience, that the United States has a special place in God's plans for mankind? Faith buttressed by ceaseless jingoistic advertising? And although the religious and nationalistic hot air inflating the balloon of American exceptionalism can be punctured easily -- simply consider the city of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina -- the narcissism both feeding and flowing from this pseudo-environment blinds even thoughtful individuals to their country's many failures. Consequently, by default, it also promotes a knee-jerk tendency to blame others -- including immensely less powerful, influential and less blessed-by-God nations -- for America's many self-created problems.....(full article)

America’s Newest Civil War: A Secession Along the Economic Divide?  
by Lara DeLuz

Against the huge backdrop of relentless conflicts that are ravaging the middle east, with no solutions in sight, and the endless memorials to 9/11 that have been exploited by every political rogue here at home, where freedom is anything but free, we have all but overlooked another war raging across America. This war, deep inside America’s bowels, is a festering cancerous malignancy that’s gone into overkill. It’s symptomatic of want, avarice, injustice, gullibility, arrogance and hypocrisy of the worst sort. It’s a war that has left only the tattered remnants of a once promising democracy, and only the faintest hint that liberty may have ever existed here at all. How ironic that old Abe’s greatest fear of secession has finally been realized in America, though not owing to the dynamics of an industrial north engaged in an intense struggle with an agrarian south. This contemporary divide has been politically fashioned along the economic stratum where the chasm between rich and poor might as well be a galaxy apart. This is a war where one nation under God was sold to the highest commercial bidders and life has been predicated, literally, to the survival of the abominably rich that now demean what might have once been a great nation. This is a war that has also traversed the cultural divide that once separated the middle from the lower income, wherein the line between the two, now, is all but indistinguishable.....(full article)

Continuing Crisis in New Orleans' Schools 
by Jordan Flaherty

Post-Katrina New Orleans has become a battleground in the national fight over competing visions for the future of urban education. In September of 2005, with the city evacuated and all the schools closed, with no parents or students or teachers around, suddenly anything became possible. Instead of making gradual changes to an existing system, there was no system, and virtually no rules or limits on what could be changed. “The framework has been exploded since the storm,” confirms New Orleans-based education reform advocate Aesha Rasheed. “It’s almost a blank slate for whatever agenda people want to bring.”......(full article)

Is Betty Ugly? 
by Lucinda Marshall 

Because I am a middle-aged woman, complete with grey hair, wrinkles, sagging breasts and stretch marks, on October 18, I will celebrate Love Your Body Day, an event sponsored by the NOW Foundation. The celebration, now in its ninth year, is designed to draw attention to the horrendous damage to self-esteem that is experienced by women as a result of the purposeful efforts of "Hollywood and the fashion, cosmetics and diet industries. To make each of us believe that our bodies are unacceptable and need constant improvement." Because of the relentless messages we receive telling us that our bodies are less than ideal, women spend billions of dollars every year to “improve” ourselves and salve our damaged self-esteem.  For most American women, feeling insecure about our bodies and how we look is a way of life.  We are bombarded daily with images of what we should look like, images that for the vast majority of us don't come naturally....(full article)

University Response to Racist “Ghetto Fabulous” Party
is Less Than Fabulous 
by Robert Jensen

When one of the first-year University of Texas law students who participated in a “ghetto fabulous” party posted pictures on the web, we saw the ugly face of white privilege and the racism in which it is rooted. But the depth of the problem of white supremacy at the university -- and in mainstream institutions more generally -- is also evident in the polite way in which the university administration chastised the students. While the thoughtless actions of young adults acting out the racism of the culture are disturbing, the thoughtful -- but depoliticized -- response from the law school is distressing. The actions of both groups in this affair are a painful reminder of the depth of white society’s commitment to white supremacy.....(full article)

The Exile in Maryland: Bolivia's Deposed President Three Years Later 
by Jim Schultz

I have only seen Bolivia's deposed ex-President, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada in person once. It was about a year ago and he was alone in the Miami airport, waiting for the same flight as me to Washington.  He seemed like any other business traveler -- a tired looking man who attracted no special public attention. Three years ago this week, on October 17, 2003, Gonzalo Sánchez de Lozada was boarding a very different flight to Washington. For a month, Bolivia had been exploding in protest against Sánchez de Lozada’s plans to export bargain-priced Bolivian gas through Chile and onward to California.  Troops under presidential orders to stop those protests killed at least sixty people and left hundreds of others wounded. The killings sparked such public outrage that even his own Vice-President broke with him. That night, as a tense nation watched events unfold on their televisions; Sánchez de Lozada resigned his presidency, boarded a private jet, and fled to political exile in the suburbs of Maryland, just outside the US capital. Three years later the ex-leader known here as "Goni” (and often as "El Gringo" for the sharp American accent he picked up living in the US a good part of his life) faces murder charges in Bolivia for his actions during Black October. He is under a legal order from the Bolivian government to return for trial. But thanks to the political graces of the Bush Administration, the man accused of murder remains a happy protected resident of Center Street in Chevy Chase.....
(full article)

Studds and Duds 
by Peter Kurth

So, what’s your guess?  Do you think the Republican leadership had former Representative Gerry Studds (D-Mass.) murdered over the weekend?  Or do you think Studds just dropped dead from shock, hearing right-wing pundits, members of Congress and assorted raging nutcases natter on about his ancient affair with a fully consenting, of-age, former male page on Capitol Hill, in an effort to blame “the Democrats” for the scandal now surrounding “disgraced Congressman Mark Foley” (R.-Florida, as I don't need to tell you)? (full article)

Nonviolence Begins at Breakfast 
by Heather Moore

The wise philosopher, Pythagoras, reportedly once declared that “as long as humanity continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower beings, we will never know health or peace. For as long as people massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.” Whether or not anyone likes to admit it, eating animal products is a form of violence. Approximately 27 billion cows, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and other animals are killed for food each year in the United States. Our modern factory farming system strives to produce the most meat, milk, and eggs as quickly and cheaply as possible, and in the smallest amount of space possible. Most factory-farmed animals never see the sun, breathe fresh air, or feel grass under their feet. They are torn from their loving mothers, overcrowded in filthy cages, warehouses, and sheds, fed drug-laden diets, mutilated, and slaughtered.....(full article)

October 11

Going Nuclear: Northern Korea’s Ace 
by Kim Petersen

When the military imperialists of the United States split up a homeland, occupied the southern half, and engaged in torture, rapes, and a massive slaughter of the civilian population; when they used biological and chemical weapons; when their commanders appealed to use nuclear weapons; then is it any wonder that the much maligned communist regime of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) would develop nuclear weapons to defend itself and its citizenry? The western corporate media would seem to think so.....(full article)

“Protection” as Hype: Non-Sex Scandal Trumps
Presidential Power Grab  
by Lydia Howell

I suppose it could just be coincidence that the latest “sex scandal” -- that of Rep. Mark Foley (R-Fl) -- hit the news the day after Congress passed the Military Commissions Act (MCA). It's certainly not at all unusual that the corporate-media is giving Foley, detailed, wall-to-wall coverage, while barely mentioning the MCA and not explaining what the bill means. Pundits express outrage over Foley's e-mails to Congressional pages, although law enforcement on NPR said that, while "inappropriate", most of the messages amounted to little more than "flirting" and hence, are not criminal. No sexual acts are alleged at all. The male objects of Foley's attention seem to have all been 16 or 17 years old -- who, while minors, are clearly not "children," as they are being referred to. Given what messages have been quoted, I suspect that most the young men Foley e-mailed have seen (and perhaps even written themselves) far more explicit material on MySpace....
(full article)

Interview With Sholom Keller, 24-Year-Old Veteran
of Iraq and Afghanistan 
by Sarah Ruth Jacobs

For Sholom Keller, the boundaries between sleep and waking or past and present are strained at best. His sleeping pattern is fitful -- he might doze lightly for twenty minutes, then snap awake, eyes wide and painfully alert, testing his surroundings. In nightmares the children he saw on tour in Iraq reappear, an endlessly shuffling deck of small faces, angry or inquisitive. Their call to the soldiers, "meesta, meesta!" supplies a looping soundtrack. Sholom grew up in Crown Heights, Brooklyn in the Chabad Jewish community. Enlisting in the military was his way of getting out. Going into Afghanistan and then into Iraq, Sholom was as patriotic as any of the recruits. However, after a few months in Iraq, his mind started to shift, eventually doing a 180-degree turn. Now Sholom, a homeless veteran, identifies as queer and anarchist.....(full interview)

Beware of Those Who Come Bearing "Respect"  
by Melody Moezzi

Perhaps recognizing his unpopularity among other world leaders, George W. Bush decided to address “the people” of various countries directly in his September 19th speech at the UN General Assembly. Among the lucky few whom he chose to single out were the Iraqis, the Syrians, the Lebanese, the Afghanis, and the Iranians.  Oh, and in a brilliant public relations stunt, he threw in the people of Darfur with the express purpose of reminding the American people that this warmonger had some semblance of a heart.  Specifically, Bush told the “people of Darfur” that America indeed recognized what was going on there; that America had gone through its dictionaries of war, and of human rights, and of course, of public relations, all to conclude on the unsettling semantics of the situation.  The shocking conclusion was that the raping, pillaging, forced displacement and killings of civilians in Darfur did indeed constitute “genocide” proper.  Another stroke of brilliance on behalf of the Bush administration.....(full article)

Who Killed Michael Moore? 
(Why and What's the Reason For?)  
by Mickey Z. 

There's no shortage of outrage on the Left. Plenty of marches and manifestos to go along with the myriad calls to change this and take back that. Toss in the occasional fighting words and the intermittent flirtation with property damage and the Left typically does just enough to get itself effectively demonized by the mainstream... thus making it that much easier for the police to get away with swinging their nightsticks at the next "anti-globalization" protest. So, here's my question: What would those who identify as leftists do if one of their high profile icons were openly eliminated? For the sake of argument, let's say the U.S. government (or one of its proxies) -- with the full support of the corporate media -overtly did away with Michael Moore for his political beliefs and anti-corporate activism.....
(full article)

How to Stem Political Sewage: Ban TV Election Campaign Ads
by Robert S. Rivkin

Here’s my proposed constitutional amendment. It’s not complicated.  “It shall be unlawful for any person or corporation to display any election campaign ads on television. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.” If, within ten years after enactment, the amendment has  raised  the level of political discourse in our country (as I believe it will), I would then propose an expansion of the prohibition, something like this: “It shall be unlawful for any advertising agency to have anything whatsoever to do with any political campaign.” I know, I know. Banning all TV election campaign ads would violate the First Amendment’s  guarantee of freedom of speech. But wait!.....(full article)

October 9

North Korea's Nuclear Test and Bush's FUBAR Foreign Policy
by Heather Wokusch

As had been threatened, North Korea's Kim Jong-Il reportedly conducted an underground nuclear test yesterday, a move which promotes a global nuclear arms race and nullifies non-proliferation agreements. Take it personally.....(full article)

Elections in the USA: Justice and Perversion
and the Perversion of Justice  
by James Petras

In a month in which the US Congress voted to legalize torture, discard the US Constitution by abolishing habeas corpus and increase the military budget to prolong the daily slaughter of hundreds of Iraqis and Afghanis, the big controversy among the mass media and elected officials is the sexual overtures of a Republican Congressman to adolescent boys employed by Congress. Millions of fundamentalist Christians, who blindly supported the Republican Congress’ deadly War on Terror are in revolt against their Party because of its tolerance toward a single pervert -- overlooking the torture at Abu Ghraib, Israel’s massive bombing of Lebanon and the Bush Administration’s criminal abandonment of the hundreds of thousands of poor (mostly black) citizens in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Why do US Congress members and the mass media go into a political feeding frenzy over personal sexual transgressions like Congressman Foley’s nasty e-mail flirtations with teenage boys or former President Clinton’s office adventures in extramarital sex with a White House intern and not over issues of great consequence for peace or war, democracy or authoritarianism, torture or human rights?  (full article)

A Subtle Kind of Fascism 
by John Chuckman

The word fascism is used a lot, often pejoratively. The image that immediately comes to mind is Mussolini in a steel helmet, hands on hips, head tipped back, jaw thrust out. It is an image that influenced other fascists. Young Hitler was a great admirer. It is always helpful for any discussion to define the subject carefully, a seemingly obvious principle often ignored. What exactly is fascism? Can fascism coexist to any extent with democratic institutions? (full article)

Bye, Bye Civil Liberties: Blame the Democrats
by Joshua Frank

I’m still wondering where all the damn outrage is, and I’m not talking about the Foley scandal. On September 29 the Senate voted 100-0 in favor of the pork swollen Pentagon Budget, which earmarked $70 billion for our ongoing military ventures in Iraq and Afghanistan. There was no debate over the appropriations and not one Democrat voted against the egregious spending. On the same day, the Senate also overwhelmingly approved the dismantling of habeas corpus for “enemy combatants”. Twelve Democrats sided with the Republicans to allow the US government to detain people arbitrarily and indefinitely. We shouldn’t be all that surprised the Democrats didn’t filibuster the awful bill, which also expanded the definition of “enemy combatant” to include anybody who “has purposefully and materially supported hostilities against the United States,” whatever that’s supposed to mean. No, the Democrats have long been on the frontlines of the federal government’s assault on our civil liberties.....(full article)

Lawsuit Intends to Force the Bush Administration
to Recognize the Constitution 
by Gene C. Gerard

Since taking office the Bush administration has successfully lobbied Congress to budget $500 million for marriage education programs. Much of this money is slated to go to religious organizations, despite the fact that the First Amendment mandates separation of church and state. A recent lawsuit filed by Americans United for Separation of Church and State (AU) against the Department of Health and Human Services aims to force the Bush administration to cease violating the Constitution by funding marriage programs with an overtly religious slant. If successful, this lawsuit would have a profound impact on the ability of the Bush administration to continue funding religious organizations with taxpayer dollars. The target of the AU lawsuit is the Northwest Marriage Institute, a Washington State organization that provides “Bible-based” marriage education and counseling services. In 2005, the Department of Health and Human Services distributed almost $100,000 to the institute. The organization describes itself as providing “faith-based education in marriage” as well as “faith-based premarital and marriage counseling.” And the organization’s goal is to “promote successful biblical principles for everyday life.” Obviously, this is a Christian organization that espouses a very specific religious viewpoint. All of which begs the question, why does it receive taxpayer dollars? (full article)

Not So Pretty in Pink
by Lucinda Marshall

Will eating Oreo cookies help cure breast cancer?  Delightful Deliveries would like you to think so. For $29.99, they will send you a box of nine white chocolate Oreos, decorated with shocking pink sprinkles and edible pink ribbons.  Or if you prefer, for the same price, you can get a giant pink fortune cookie decorated in the same sprinkles and ribbon motif. According to my local newspaper, which featured these cookies in a photo spread that urged readers to "Shop for a cause.  Buy products that support the fight against breast cancer." Delightful Deliveries will donate 10% of the proceeds from the sale of these cookies to the Susan G. Komen Foundation (although there is no mention of this on the Delightful Deliveries website). The rest presumably benefits their corporate coffers. The company's website does suggest that you send these delectable items to a "Breast Cancer Survivor as a unique and sweet way to show your support." This seems like a rather irresponsible sales pitch given that one of the most standard pieces of advice given, both for cancer patients and those seeking to prevent it, is to eat a healthy diet......(full article

Sex, Lies, and Family Values  
by Walter Brasch

The parents of a 16-year-old Congressional page contacted their congressman, Rep. Rodney Alexander (R-La.). Alexander says he contacted both Rep. Tom Reynolds (R-N.Y.), chair of the National Republican Congressional Committee, and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) who oversees the page program. Reps. Shimkus, Reynolds, and House Majority Leader John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) admit they knew about it in 2005. Kirk Fordham, Reynolds’ former chief of staff, told the Associated Press that three years ago, he had “more than one conversation with senior staff at the highest level of the House of Representatives to intervene.” Reynolds and Boehner say they told Rep. Dennis Hastert (R-Ill.), speaker of the house. Hastert says Reynolds may have told him about it, but he doesn’t remember. At no time, did anyone contact police or the FBI. Their concerns for justice were shallow; their fears that a scandal would affect their re-elections were deep.....
(full article)

Kashmir: A Postcolonial Nation  
by Nyla Ali Khan

The uncertainty about the status of the state of Jammu and Kashmir has loomed large since 1947. Is Jammu and Kashmir a postcolonial state? Postcolonialism refers to a historical phase undergone by many of the world’s countries after the decline of the European empires by the mid-twentieth century. Following the dismantling of the empires, the people of many Asian, African, and Caribbean states were left to assess the cultural, linguistic, legal, and economic effects of colonial rule, and create new governments and national identities. As a phenomenon, nationalism often arises at times of conflict between nations, or between colonizers and colonized, and perhaps most commonly, in postcolonial periods. Over the years, tremendous political and social turmoil has been generated in the Jammu and Kashmir by the forces of religious fundamentalism and by an exclusionary nationalism that seeks to erode the cultural syncretism that is part of the ethos of Kashmir. These forces are responsible for the shutting down of dissenters who voice cultural critique, repression of women, political anarchy, economic deprivation, lack of infrastructure, and mass displacements that have been occasioned by these events.....(full article)

Canadian Capital in South Asia 
by Harsha Walia

Though not largely discussed, South Asia is a major hub of global economic interests with a massive concentration of Canadian finance capital, foreign aid, and development agencies. Export Development Canada (EDC) is the Crown Corporation responsible for coordinating Canadian investment abroad. During 2000-2004, 27% of Canadian Foreign Direct Investment was in energy, mines, and minerals with focal points in South America and South Asia. According to Natural Resources Canada, Canadian firms have interests in 6,400 mining properties around the world. Canadian-based companies conduct about 40% of all mineral exploration, representing 12% of all Canadian foreign direct investment. One such mining operation is in India. In 1993 a consortium of private companies, including Canadian company Alcan, formed Utkal Alumina International Ltd to initiate a bauxite mine and an alumina refinery in Kashipur. Alcan is the second largest aluminum producer in the world and holds 45% of active shares in the Kashipur venture. It is estimated by the Alcan't in India Solidarity Campaign that the project will displace 60,000 people. In December 2000, 22 of 24 affected village councils passed resolutions opposing the project after three villagers were shot and killed by state police following an anti-mining community meeting.....
(full article)

Idle Ramblings From the Cabin in the Mountains 
by Rosemarie Jackowski

About the war and occupation of Iraq....when will it end? Johnny Mathis got it right when he sang about the "Twelfth of Never." Have you ever noticed how the rich guys always win in court. I wonder if it could be because they can buy the most expensive "expert witnesses" otherwise known as "Liars for Hire." I just heard about a politician who brags about "sticking it to the citizens." I think he will be re-elected. He is a well-connected, incumbent Democrat in Vermont. How can it be that the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons, now is the arbiter of which other countries can have them? Seems like it should be the other way around. I wonder if anyone is still looking for the guy who put the anthrax in the mail.....(full article)

NBA Says No to Leather  
by Mickey Z.

In the bling bling world of the National Basketball Association (NBA), leather is on its way out. Not the shoes, boots, sneakers, pants, or ubiquitous motorcycle jacket ... I'm talking about the ball itself. "Spalding urged the NBA to switch to a composite model because it was having trouble securing 'consistent' leather to keep manufacturing the ball that has been used for decades," writes Marc Stein of New Jersey Net Jason Kidd is skeptical. "They probably couldn't sell (the leather ball)," he said. "It was an indoor model. A lot of kids play outside, so maybe that was the reason." Whatever the reason for the switch, here's a little something the $1.5-billion-and-100-million-animal-skins-per-year U.S. leather industry would probably prefer you didn't know.....(full article)

Shielding and Justice  
by Jeff Cox

Hard as it is for me to imagine sometimes, not every working journalist has seen the movie All the President's Men or even read the book.Those who haven't somehow managed to get their inspiration elsewhere. But for those of us who have, the impression is indelible. All the President's Men quite simply is the Rocky of reporting.....(full article)

October 6

Six Flags Over Neo-Nuremberg: Bush, Oprah, the San Diego Chicken,
and a Proto-Fascist Panopticon of the Mind
by Phil Rockstroh

Many believe fascism will come to the United States of America resembling contrived spectacles such as The Super Bowl, The Academy Awards, and American Idol, with the proceedings intercut with teary, yet ultimately triumphant, Oprahesque tales of how redemption can be gained through the renunciation of one’s rights, liberties, as well as, the dutiful turning in of one’s subversive neighbors. Don’t reach for that remote, folks: It’s already here.....(full article)

An Unacceptable Nuclear Gamble
by Kim Petersen

Warnings have emanated that the Democratic Republic of Korea (DPRK) is preparing to test a nuclear device. The US assistant secretary of state, Christopher Hill, was miffed. “We are not going to live with a nuclear North Korea,” declared Hill, “we are not going to accept it.” There are things that the government of the United States does not accept or want to accept, but that does not mean that reality will bend to what is acceptable to the US. The US military had to accept being shoved out of the DPRK in 1950. It had to accept being forced out of Vietnam in 1975. The US military is now being forced to accept losing a bloody occupation of Iraq and Afghanistan.....
(full article)

Is Condi Rice Being Drug Tested?
by Ahmed Amr

The setting was an editorial board meeting with the war mongering Likudniks who operate the New York Post -- a rag owned by Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul most responsible for the Iraq war. In attendance was none other than Murdoch himself -- playing the role of chief interrogator. The part assigned to the American Secretary of State was to answer leading questions for a choreographed pre-election media farce. Condoleezza Rice knew she was in friendly territory and correctly assumed that no serious analyst would bother to pick up a copy of the Post -- a neo-conservative daily propaganda bulletin. Fortunately for Condi, the interview went unnoticed -- except by the horde of know-nothings that actually pay to read the thoughts of Chairman MU -- as in MUrdoch. What was extraordinary about the interview was Rice’s confession of her role in orchestrating the murderous 34-day Israeli assault on Lebanon. For the sake of keeping the historical record straight, the exact words of the American Secretary of Stated deserve close scrutiny. Responding to a question about Lebanon, she stated that “very early on we did have a discussion with the Israelis about not going to war against Lebanon, going to war against Hizbullah.”.....
(full article)

The Struggle for Palestine’s Soul
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth

Jonathan Cook observes that the latest events unfolding in Gaza -- as rival fighters from Fatah and Hamas confront each other violently on the streets -- is a moment Israel has long waited for,  and are the first signs that Israel may be succeeding in its designs to deflect the Palestinian resistance from its common goal of national liberation --- to achieve a state -- by redirecting its energies into fratricidal war.....(full article)

Ruminations on Thomas Friedman, Part II
The Madness in His Methods: 9-11 and 7-11
by Lila Rajiva

It is not just that Thomas Friedman’s metaphors clash with each other like mismatched furniture at a yard sale. That would be bad enough, but it would only offend our aesthetic sense. What insults logic is when he tries to force his theories to squeeze into his metaphoric hand-me-downs. Having latched on to “flatness” as his organizing theme, he crams a whole swathe of technical, economic and political developments into it without let or hindrance of reason. Sometimes he even employs his own peculiar brand of kabalistic numbering to do this. Thus, there are ten flatteners . . . four steroids . . . three convergences -- 9/11 (the attack on the WTC) is mystically born out of 11/9 (the fall of the Berlin Wall), but it’s also connected to 8/9, the day Netscape released its initial public offering. Who would have thought? And why stop there, you wonder. Why be so selective? Looked at properly, an almost infinite number of things are related to 9/11 numerically.....(full article)

Iran: The Unthinkable War, Part III
Why They “Hate Us”: Bringing “Regime Change”
and “Democracy” to Iran 
by Juan Santos

The Bush regime understands clearly that simply obliterating Iran’s nuclear energy infrastructure won’t solve the Empire’s strategic dilemma in Iran, any more than invading Iraq solved the imperial dilemma there. So, Bush claims he wants to bring “democracy” and regime change to the Iranian people, to “liberate” them from a repressive fundamentalist state. But Iran has direct experience with US sponsored “regime change,” and its people are utterly unlikely to rise up against the nation’s leadership in support of a US attack.....(full article)

The Country Bush Has in His Sights: Behind the US Myths About Iran
by Lee Sustar

When George W. Bush rails about the supposed threat of Islamofascism, Iran and its President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad are at the top of his list. The reality, however, is that Iran is far more open politically than, for example, the U.S. government’s main client in the Arab world, Egypt -- where a police state runs phony elections and regularly crushes dissent. In Iran, by contrast, presidents and other top politicians have to go through rough-and-tumble election campaigns, a system that’s a good deal closer to democracy than the Shah’s monarchy overthrown in the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Factional conflict in the Iranian ruling class chronically compels one group or another to appeal for popular support to advance its program. This has periodically created the space for liberal reformers, student protests and even strike waves, though independent unions are banned, and the state often censors the media. In his eight years in office, former President Mohammad Khatami clashed with conservatives over issues of democracy and pro-market economic reform. None of this give-and-take would be remotely conceivable under true fascist regimes, like Hitler’s Nazi Germany or Mussolini’s Italy.....(full article)

America’s Collective Delusion Must Endure:
Domestic Genocide of an Economic Nature 
by Jason Miller

Accomplishing a logic-defying feat, the wealthiest nation in the world has “attained” the highest rate of homelessness amongst developed countries. 3.5 million human beings experience homelessness each year in the United States. Almost a million are homeless every night. In the most heavily militarized nation in the history of the human race, 30% of its homeless men are military veterans. What happened to “support the troops”? Obviously once military personnel return home, the slogan changes to “good riddance to bad rubbish.” Ready for some “shock and awe” on the home front? According to the National Mental Health Association, “on any given night, 1.2 million children are homeless” in the United States. And what is one to make of a self-proclaimed Christian nation (overflowing with material resources) that allows such travesties of economic justice to persist? How can a Christian nation ignore the compassionate teachings of Jesus? (full article)

2005 Profitable Year for Whistleblowers 
by Evelyn Pringle

The year 2005 was a very good year for Whistleblowers. According to a report by the Department of Health and Human Services, a grand total of $136,756,946 was awarded to Whistleblowers who filed qui tam lawsuits on behalf of the Federal government under the False Claims Act. By contrast, in 2004 Whistleblowers were awarded $82,867,287. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 established a national Health Care Fraud and Abuse Control Program, under the direction of the Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, acting through the HHS Inspector General, to coordinate federal, state and local law enforcement activities with regard to public and private health care fraud and abuse.....(full article)

US Boots Step on a Caribbean Flea (Does This Sound Familiar?)
by Mickey Z.

Near the end of October, we will mark the twenty-third anniversary of a momentous American victory . . . a military operation that not only warmed Ronald Raygun's cold, cold heart but was also deemed film-worthy by the former mayor of Carmel, California. Yes, of course, I'm talking about the October 25, 1983 “liberation” of Grenada....(full article)

October 4

Now That You Could be Labeled an Enemy Combatant…
by Heather Wokusch

Since Congress recently handed Bush the power to identify American citizens as "unlawful enemy combatants" and detain them indefinitely without charge, it's worth examining the administration's record of prisoner abuse as well as the building of stateside detention centers.....(full article)

Habeas Corpus Matters
by Greg Moses

The principle of habeas corpus is a demand that free people make toward state power. If free people are going to respect a state's power to lock people up, then that state must respect a free people's demand to see the causes and the evidence for any arrest. So it is chilling to read the section on habeas corpus Matters included in the recently passed Military Commissions Act of 2006.....(full article)

Iran: The Unthinkable War 
Part Two: Iraq, Iran, and “Weapons of Mass Destruction”
by Juan Santos

Democrats and Republicans alike claim that Iran is a “terrorist state,” one that can’t be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. But there is no evidence that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, any more than there was any proof that Iraq was developing one. Military sources told journalist Seymour Hersh that the U.S. has no proof at all that Iran is developing nuclear arms. Hersh has said that, “The intelligence services of the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany, and even Israel, have been unable to come up with any specific evidence of what’s known as a parallel or secret weapons program inside Iran.” One former senior intelligence official told Hersh flatly, “People in the Pentagon were asking, ‘What’s the evidence? We’ve got a million tentacles out there, overt and covert, and these guys’ (Iran) ‘have been working on this for eighteen years, and we have nothing? We’re coming up with jack shit.’”......(full article)

The Nuts and Dolts of America’s Downfall
by Mark Drolette

A hypothetical, yet painfully familiar conversation about the American Right and Israel......(full article)

“Let Me Take You Down…”: A Regime in Denial
by Gary Leupp

“I don’t know that this meeting took place, but what I really don’t know, what I’m quite certain of, is that it was not a meeting in which I was told there was an impending attack and I refused to respond. . . . It kind of doesn’t ring true that you have to shock me into something I was very involved in.” That’s what Condoleezza Rice told reporters en route to Saudi Arabia, when asked about the briefing she in the actual world of objective reality had on July 10, 2001 with CIA chief George Tenet and Cofer Black, the CIA’s top counterterror official. The one in which they warned of an imminent al-Qaeda attack on the U.S., including a PowerPoint presentation in which the prospects for such an attack were described as a “10 on a scale of 1 to 10.”.....(full article)

The Flat Earth Society: Ruminations on Thomas Friedman --
Part One: The Incredible Shrinking Lexus
by Lila Rajiva

Flat is the metaphor that drives the world’s most talked about book on globalization, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s The World is Flat, which claims that information technology and the internet have connected the world so much that the Renaissance discovery by Columbus that the world is round has given way now to the postmodern discovery by Friedman that it is really flat. And right there, you have your first inkling of the flat swill sloshing between the two covers of the book. Columbus never proved the world was round. It was well known by then among the educated classes of Europe. (See Jeffrey Burton Russell's 1992 book, Inventing the Flat Earth: Columbus and Modern Historians, New York: Praeger, 1991). And it had been well-known for thousands of years earlier to many other cultures -- the Greeks (Pythagorus, Aristotle, Eratosthenes, Ptolemy), a good part of Medieval Christianity (the Latin fathers and the Alexandrians among the Greek fathers of the church), Arabs (during the 9th century Caliphate of Mamun) and the Indians (the Aitereya Brahmana among the ancient Vedic Classics). But, affirming popular delusions has never yet hurt a writer’s popularity. And it’s taken Friedman straight to the top of the New York Times Best Sellers list....(full article)

October 2-3

“World Can’t Wait…Drive Out the Bush Regime!”
Be There on Oct. 5
by Gary Leupp

Gary Hart in a recent column warns that the Bush administration may be planning an “October surprise” -- “a preemptive war against Iran sometime before the November election.”....(full article)

A Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?
by Mike Whitney

When Hillary Clinton said that her husband Bill was the target of “a vast right-wing conspiracy”, her critics just laughed at her. No one is laughing now. Next week, President Bush will sign the “Military Commissions Act of 2006” into law. The new legislation will repeal the central tenets of the U.S. Constitution which require the state to charge a man with a crime before putting him in jail, as well as the Eighth Amendment’s prohibition of “cruel and inhuman” punishment. The law will allow Bush to imprison anyone he chooses and abuse them as he sees fit. It places Bush above the law, our first American despot. he march towards tyranny has been calculated and relentless. Hillary was right; it is a conspiracy. Prominent right-wing organizations have worked tirelessly to push the country toward totalitarian government and they are very close to succeeding. The alphabet soup of conservative think tanks and foundations have strategically aligned themselves with the major players in the corporate, media and banking establishments and removed most of the obstacles to absolute power. The Military Commissions Act adds a few final touches by eliminating habeas corpus.....(full article)

Iran: The Unthinkable War
Part One: Pretending You Didn’t Know
by Juan Santos

The Democrats are silent as the Bush regime prepares for war against Iran -- silent in the face of a potential nuclear mass murder -- even a global war. Silent in the face of an attack that could cause an utter meltdown of the global economy, a 1930s style Depression that would send millions, perhaps billions of people into starvation-level poverty, as the prices of oil and gasoline triple. The potentials for horror for tens of millions of people in the region are almost unspeakable. Such a war would quickly spread to Iraq -- where Halliburton’s “Green Zone” in Baghdad would be turned to instant rubble by such missiles as were left for an Iranian counterstrike, giving US soldiers in the Zone their own taste of Lebanon, even as Shia Muslims turn a face of cold steel -- or wild, inconsolable grief and rage -- toward the death of every US and British soldier, mercenary, spy, journalist, and profiteer in Iraq.....(full article)

On Torture
by Ed Kinane

It's frightening that, at this time and in this nation, torture must be discussed as if it were a legitimate issue.  What's next -- the pros and cons of child molestation? Even hawkish old warriors like Sen. John McCain and retired General Colin Powell say torture is counterproductive. Numerous are the reasons -- both expedient and moral -- for eliminating torture.....(full article)

Who Will Pay the US Debt
by Dr. Abbas Bakhtiar

Some months back, I wrote an article “the Coming Financial Crises” as a warning to the American people about the US debt, budget and trade deficit. Since then the situation has continued to worsen and no one seems willing to address this important issue.....(full article)

Confronting the "Cut and Run" Slander of Bush's Praetorian Guard
by Walter C. Uhler

With elections but little more than a month away, President Bush's do-nothing Republican majority in both houses of Congress is up for grabs. And, thus, so is a genuine investigation into the Bush administration's lies, deceit and crimes concerning Iraq -- especially its "Chicken Little" clamoring about weapons of mass destruction and ties to al Qaeda that, as we would learn later, didn't actually exist. Also requiring investigation, however, is the extraordinary military incompetence at the strategic level -- at the Rumsfeld level -- that allowed an illusory "Mission Accomplished" to degenerate into: (1) widespread looting and infrastructure destruction, (2) an ever- flourishing and now unbeatable insurgency, (3) torture by American soldiers in violation of the Geneva Conventions, (4) tens of thousands upon tens of thousands of unnecessary civilian fatalities as well as untold massive and needless suffering, (5) growing Iranian influence, (6) the outbreak of civil war resulting in (7) torture that renders Saddam's tame by comparison (8) more than 2,700 dead American soldiers, (9) more than 20,400 wounded, (10) the gradual destruction of the U.S. Army and (11) the most profound military defeat in U. S. history.....(full article)

Bad Faith and the Destruction of Palestine
by Jonathan Cook

A mistake too often made by those examining Israel’s behavior in the occupied territories -- or when analyzing its treatment of Arabs in general, or interpreting its view of Iran -- is to assume that Israel is acting in good faith. Even its most trenchant critics can fall into this trap. Such a reluctance to attribute bad faith was demonstrated this week by Israel’s foremost human rights group, B’Tselem, when it published a report into the bombing by the Israeli air force of Gaza’s power plant in late June. The horrifying consequences of this act of collective punishment -- a war crime, as B’Tselem rightly notes -- are clearly laid out in the report...(full article)

The High Cost of Dying
by Mickey Z.

In the film noir classic, The Third Man, Orson Welles (as the supposedly dead Harry Lime) looks down from the top of a Ferris wheel and asks Joseph Cotton (as the very naïve Hollie Martins) about the people moving about on the ground ... "dots" he calls 'em. Welles poses the provocative question of just how many dots Cotton would allow to "stop moving" if offered $20,000 for each. How might you respond if presented with such an offer? In a world where a child starves to death every two seconds, just how much can one miserable life be worth? Is it obscene to talk about humans having a monetary value? According to more than a few corporations and government agencies, it's not's policy.....(full article)

Foley is a Red Herring 
by Lucinda Marshall 

If ever there was a week that the brown stuff hit the political fan, last week was a doozy. If it could have happened, it did. Even Tony Snow’s formidable spinmeister skills were no doubt taxed as heavily as a middle-class worker. First there was that pesky NIE leak.  Next we found out that surprise, surprise, it seems that Jack Abramoff was in contact with the White House more than a few times, hundreds of times as it turns out. And then wouldn’t you know it, a couple of those heinous whistleblowers piped up to mention that Diebold secretly patched voting machines in Georgia. To top it all off,  the Congress then not only  voted almost unanimously to piss billions more of our money on the war in Iraq, they also stood up and proudly affirmed that Torture-Is-US.....(full article)

Borders Are Not About Political Lines
by Patrick Osio, Jr

International borders are not about political lines dividing countries. Borders are about people living across each other separated by a political line. When people divided by borders are of different cultures, speak different languages and there is significant economic disparity between them the differences often become political problems. In the Western Hemisphere most border political problems do not start, or are sustained, due to language or cultural differences. These differences may exacerbate the problems. The roots of most political problems exist where there is an economic disparity between the two divided nations. The greater the disparity, the greater the political problems.....(full article)

Abe's “Normal” Japan
by Chris Salzberg

Much has been written in the mainstream press over the last few weeks about Japan's newly elected prime minister Abe Shinzo, routinely painted as an "unknown quantity," an "enigmatic" character with "vague policy goals and a sober demeanor" whose "ambiguity" makes him a "tough politician to label." Oft-cited are his "conservative" positions on issues such as reform of Japan's pacifist constitution and revision of history textbooks, his "hard line stance" vis-à-vis the "North Korean threat," and his "ambitious vision" to push for a more equal military alliance with the United States. The Washington Post goes so far as to refer to him admiringly as "Japan's prodigal samurai returned," and Mainichi Shimbun, remarking on his political lineage -- which includes a foreign minister father and prime minister grandfather -- notes that "the country's top post is almost a birthright.".....
(full article)

The US Housing Bust: Excess Investment And Its Discontents
by Seth Sandronsky

The sale prices of existing homes in the Midwest and Northeast are falling as overall sales across the country are declining, according to the U.S. National Association of Realtors. In the West, home sales are also down but sale prices remain roughly the same. Recent Commerce Department data shows that the median prices of new home sales was up in August over July this year, but down from August 2005. Crucially, the new home sales prices do not reflect homebuilders’ incentives for buyers, i.e., paying their closing costs. In other words, the decline in new home median prices this August from a year ago undercounts the actual fall in prices.....(full article)

Let Them Eat Pheasant
by Peter Kurth

All politics is local, right? Or do I have that backwards?  Maybe “all localities are political.” It certainly seems like it whenever I drive along that particular stretch of Spear Street in South Burlington, where, over the last dozen years, all those recklessly developed, hideously designed, overblown, tacky, tasteless, gaudy, showy, in-your-face “McMansions” have been thrown up on razed and flattened lots -- each and every one of them now sporting an American flag and a campaign placard for “TARRANT: SENATE.”  I call this place “the Tarrant Patch,” and I warn you to keep away from it if you value your lunch.....(full article)

“Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” Endangers us All
by Gene C. Gerard

Last month the Bush administration announced that Marine Corps Individual Ready Reservists are being recalled to duty. This is due to a shortage of soldiers who are willing to serve additional tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. There are similar shortages in the Army and the National Guard. Yet the Armed Forces saw an 11 percent increase last year in the number of soldiers who were discharged simply because they were gay. Perhaps never since the inception of  “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has there been a more glaring reason to abandon this misguided military policy. According to newly released Pentagon figures a total of 742 service members were discharged last year for being gay. That’s an increase over the 668 soldiers discharged under the policy in 2004. Since 1993, when the policy was implemented, approximately 11,000 military personnel have been discharged for being gay. There’s little doubt that this has served only to weaken our Armed Forces, and endanger our national security interests.....(full article)

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