Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Where Lies, Neo-Cons, Scandals and Crime Intersect...

Editor's note: I am moving to post at the secondary blog .
See last Friday's stories at the overflow blog

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

You always find Vickie**

It's hard to tell if she only represents her "friends," or purposely goes looking for the stinkiest, most mired-in-Neo-Conservative-Mud cases she can find:

International Herald Tribune

Unusual trip to Iraq in '03 for Wolfowitz** companion
By Steven R. Weisman and David E. Sanger Published: April 17, 2007

WASHINGTON: The Defense Department directed a private contractor in 2003 to hire Shaha Ali Riza, a World Bank employee and the companion of Paul Wolfowitz**, then the deputy secretary of defense, to spend a month studying issues related to setting up a new government in Iraq, the contractor said Monday.

The contractor, Science Applications International Corporation, or SAIC, said that it had been directed to hire Riza by the office of the under secretary for policy. The head of that office at the time was Douglas Feith, who reported to Wolfowitz.
Good Lord!! That stinks to high heaven already!!! Good thing she didn't do anything illegal:

Victoria Toensing**, a lawyer representing Riza, said this evening that Riza went to Iraq as a volunteer and took a leave of absence from the World Bank, paying for her own benefits while she was on leave.
Hmmmm.... why would she need a lawyer, let alone Vickie**?:

In a telephone interview, Feith said: "It doesn't ring any bells. I just do not recall any such thing." He said that the Pentagon policy office had a large staff, budget and number of contracts, and that the SAIC disclosure could mean the contract was arranged by "somebody in the Pentagon or somebody in my office."

It was not clear why the Pentagon specifically asked for Riza to travel to Iraq. At the time, however, the World Bank did not have a relationship with Iraq. Normal bank rules do not allow the bank to provide economic assistance to an area under military occupation.
Doug Feith**, he of great moral character doesn't remember, so it couldn't have been illegal or untoward.

Good thing.

**Pround Member In Standing Of
The Neo-Con Incestous Reach Around Club or NIRAC.

The U.S. Is Just About Bankrupt, Yet No One Seems To Care

April 18, 2007

By Jim Kingsland

While I am greatly appreciative of the blogosphere for the wide selection of thought - whether left, or right - it is getting to be quite redundant. The mantra of "Democrats evil, Republicans good" and vice versa gets a bit old. I find it to be constant and tiresome sniping while the world flies by and problems all around us become worse and remain uncorrected and literally unattended. Beyond politics there's a nascent but snowballing financial collapse in the making. It should be rooted in the core of political discussion, but ends up being widely ignored because of the complexities involved.

There's no shortage of coverage for our biggest national disaster: The War in Iraq. Every day lives are being wasted with no solution, or end in sight. I'm not here to discuss my opposition to the war which is a subject that has been well covered by pretty much anyone with functional brain cells. We're losing, or have lost and if the stars become aligned in the wrong direction we'll likely go after Iran and probably see our first aircraft carrier sunk since 1945. But I'm not going to get into the war and politics since it's so well covered already.

What concerns me, because of lack of coverage, is the growing financial storm that's occuring in this county with so many (unless they've lost their house) unaware. While subprime meltdown has made the nightly news, something that doesn't make the news to give widescale sense of appreciation and urgency is the sagging fortunes of the U.S. dollar and the near insolvency of our county.

That's why I and this diary will be here. Folks need to be jolted out of the mindless, partisan bickering to understand that great structural problems threaten to tear the country apart from the inside. The question needs to be asked - "Why are we letting this happen to ourselves, and Why are we allowing our politicians to perpetuate the problems by allowing them to do nothing?"

The dollar this year has tumbled vs major currencies with the exception of the Yen where the Yen has also slumped. The Treasury and even Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke have warned of future liabilities from social security, medicare, pensions, etc in excess of $50 TRILLION dollars. The country is pretty much bankrupt, yet all I hear on the radio whether its Rush or Air America, or read on the web is that one side is evil vs the other side.

It goes even deeper. The U.S. has lost its edge in many ways - China, for example, is on the verge of becoming the top exporter in the world and already is to Europe. European markets have overtaken our markets in value, etc. The U.S. has suffered a major fade economically just since the turn of the century - yet we're led to think that the Bush economy is "best ever".

I have a blog where I chronicle events in the markets:

I hope you will take a look. You will see that the chart of the dollar looks like a bankruptcy chart.

The next 3 to 6 months will be crucial. In all likelihood, we're headed for recession. How many realize that?? Most are so overly complacent, really clueless, and thus feel they have the luxury or being able to engage in the usual partisan discourse when they should be removing the wool from their eyes provided by liars like Bernanke and Paulson that all is well. All is not well. Will the body politic do something?

Half the battle is to recognize there's a problem. The present power base - both dems and repubs - don't want you to know what can hurt you. But there's a lot out there that can hurt you financially. I hope to shed some light and keep you informed.

High Court steps into US subprime crisis

By Patti Waldmeir and Eoin Callan in Washington

Published: April 17 2007 19:56 | Last updated: April 18 2007 01:11

The US Supreme Court on Tuesday stepped into the subprime lending crisis with a potentially far-reaching ruling that limits the power of individual states to regulate mortgage lending.

The ruling came as federal bank regulators responded to criticism that they had been slow to act over the crisis and cleared the way for lenders to offer relief to distressed homeowners.

Regulators told banks they would “not face regulatory penalties” if they offered borrowers new terms.

The Supreme Court ruled 5-3 that banks regulated by the federal Office of the Comptroller of the Currency had a broad shield from additional state regulation.

Though it did not directly involve subprime lending, it could have a big impact on the ability of states to act independently on predatory lending and throws the spotlight on federal authorities.

Many consumer advocates had hoped that individual states would be able to step in more quickly than federal legislators or regulators.

Several congressmen are trying to craft a national solution to the burgeoning crisis in subprime mortgage lending.

Allen Fishbein, director of housing for the Consumer Federation of America, said after the court decision: “This is really disappointing news.” He said it could work to the detriment of consumers.

The case, which tested whether Michigan could regulate the mortgage-lending subsidiaries of Wachovia, a national bank, split the court in an unusual way, with its most liberal member, John Paul Stevens, joining conservatives Chief Justice John Roberts and Antonin Scalia dissenting in defence of the right of states to regulate in this area.

Eliot Spitzer, then attorney-general of New York, had argued that states cannot protect their citizens from predatory mortgage practices if they are pre-empted by federal regulators.

Virginia gunman 'had mental care'

The Virginia student who killed at least 30 people was reported to police by female students in 2005, and taken into a mental health unit.
The student who shot dead at least 30 people at Virginia Tech University was admitted to a mental health unit in late 2005, police have revealed.

Cho Seung-hui was sent for evaluation after two female students made complaints against him, they said.

The complaints were made in November and December 2005,around the time Cho's English teachers raised concerns over his writing and general behaviour.

Authorities have so far failed to link Cho to any of the students he killed.

The two women who complained about Cho's behaviour were not among the victims, officials said.

However, police told a news conference at the university that Cho was well known both to campus authorities and local law enforcement agencies.

In the aftermath of the shootings, teachers and fellow students have spoken of Cho's moods, violent writings and unpredictable behaviour.

Twin complaints

Two separate complaints about Cho's behaviour were lodged in late 2005, police said.

In the first instance, Cho reportedly telephoned a female student and made direct contact with her.

Police spoke to Cho after she lodged a complaint, they said.

In a similar incident a month later, in December 2005, Cho reportedly made contact with another female student through instant messaging, leading to her complaint.

He was referred to a mental health unit outside the Virginia Tech campus on 13 December for evaluation amid concerns he was feeling suicidal, police said.

Foreclosures Double And Other Housing News: Bonddad

April 18, 2007

By Bonddad

Don't blame me -- I didn't cause this. The news about the housing market is still coming in -- and it ain't good. Below are the big developments from the last week or so.

Homebuilders less confident:

The National Association of Home Builders/Wells Fargo index of sentiment fell to 33 from 36 in March, the Washington-based association said today. A reading below 50 means most respondents view conditions as poor.

According to today's report, single-family home sales have fallen this month and builders' outlooks for the next six months are at the lowest level since October. That, along with rising defaults on subprime mortgages and excess inventory levels, suggests a greater drag on construction this year.

``The tightening of mortgage lending standards in connection with the subprime crisis has shaken the confidence of both consumers and builders,'' David Seiders, chief economist at the NAHB, said in a statement. ``While we still expect to see some improvements in housing market activity beginning later this year, the downside risks and uncertainties surrounding that forecast are considerable.''

Here's a chart of the index from the blog Interest Rate Roundup:

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This is a really good statistical indicator because it asks people in the industry how they feel about the market. These are people who should know what is going on. And the answer is, they aren't that thrilled by what they see. In addition, when an economist says, "the downside risks and uncertainties surrounding that forecast are considerable." you know there's a high possibility of trouble down the road.

Foreclosures double from year-ago levels

Owners of 168,829 homes in the first three months of 2007 got notices that lenders had filed for foreclosure due to failure to pay loans or liens, said yesterday.

That compares with 83,154 homes in the same period of 2006, the Sacramento, Calif.-based research firm said.

A four-year high in mortgage payment delinquencies and the failure or sale of 50 subprime mortgage companies, which provide loans to people with poor or limited credit histories, have made credit less available.

The inability of homeowners to refinance their debt has added to the rise in foreclosures.

This number is bad for one very important reason: we're still in an economic expansion. Foreclosures should increase in a recession or just after a recession. If foreclosures start to double before a recession, then there will be real trouble if a recession hits.

And here's some data from California:

The number of default notices sent to California homeowners last quarter increased to its highest level in almost ten years, the result of flat appreciation, slow sales, and post teaser-rate mortgage resets, a real estate information service reported.

Lending institutions filed 46,760 Notices of Default (NoDs) during the January-to-March period. That was up by 23.1 percent from a revised 37,994 for the previous quarter, and up 148.0 percent from 18,856 for first-quarter 2006, according to DataQuick Information Systems.

Last quarter's default level was the highest since 47,912 NoDs were recorded statewide in second-quarter 1997. Defaults peaked in first quarter 1996 at 61,541. An average of 33,847 NoDs have been filed quarterly since 1992, when DataQuick's NOD statistics begin.

Housing Starts Increase .8%

Housing starts in the U.S. unexpectedly rose for a second month in March, bolstering expectations the worst housing slump in 15 years may be easing.

Builders broke ground on new homes at an annual rate of 1.518 million last month, an increase of 0.8 percent from February, the Commerce Department said today in Washington. Building permits, a sign of future construction, also rose 0.8 percent.

Unusually warm temperatures last month encouraged builders to start work on more homes, along with signs that demand is starting to firm as prices moderate. The Federal Reserve predicts the economy will pick up in the course of the year as the drag from housing diminishes, while warning that a wave of mortgage defaults poses a risk to their forecast.

Before we start jumping for joy, let's look at the long-term trend, again from Interest Rate Roundup.

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We're still in a downtrend.

More importantly is the total number of homes on the market. According to the Census Bureau, there were 538,000 new homes in inventory in February 2006 and 546,000 in February 2007. That means we have an 8-month supply of new homes on the market at current sales rates. Also remember that credit standards are tightening, which means demand will probably shrink going forward. Short version -- there are still a ton of homes on the market.

The end result of all this information is clear: housing isn't near a bottom, and probably won't be for the foreseeable future.

A second end result. Barry Ritholtz over at the Big Picture blog is calling this a slow-motion slowdown. I think he's right. I thought housing problems were going to kill the economy by now. While all of these housing problems has hit GDP growth over the last three quarters we're still in positive GDP territory. With a ton of mortgage resets still coming, low capital investment and consumers in debt up to their eyeballs, we're probably going to have a continual drip-drip-drip of news like this for the foreseeable future. Eventually, these events stand about a 50% chance of sending the economy into a recession.

For economic commentary and analysis, go to the Bonddad Blog


Tuesday/Wednesday, April 17-18, 2007

When the Berlin Wall fell in 1989, the world hailed the end of the Cold War. The U.S. and the Soviet Union would have billions of extra dollars to spend on education, health care, infrastructure upgrades, and job creation. The term used in the U.S. was the "peace dividend."

While most of the world was celebrating a future of world peace, the U.S., with little fanfare, began to write the last chapter of its book on taking over the world. Today, the results are evident to anyone, except mainstream America, who is still in a state of denial. To them, the Cold War is still being enacted, but with different players. The decades-old battle of East vs. West has turned 90 degrees to a North vs. South confrontation. The North represents mainly the U.S., with Europe being basically a neutral observer, and the South is comprised of Third World nations, most of whom are populated by people of color.

The 1990s were crucial in the development of U.S. world hegemony. Little-by-little, the pieces began to fall for the rest of the word as America extended its tentacles to very corner of the Earth. At times, there was direct military intervention; at times military threats; and, sometimes, military hardware did not have to be pulled out of the warehouses because economic intrusion did the job.

The U.S. learned that by surrounding potential "enemy" countries, it could control its greedy interests without going to war. Just look at a map. Russia is almost surrounded by former Soviet republics that have signed military agreements with the U.S.; Iran has borders with Iraq and Afghanistan, two countries the U.S. is occupying. Ethiopia is another new U.S. ally and it borders Sudan, a possible U.S. adversary. North Korea is the last link in countries bordering China. The U.S. does not care if North Korea has nuclear weapons; it only wants to control North Korea and have a military presence near China.

Today, the U.S. has a military presence in more than 140 countries. The U.N. consists of 192 national members, leaving few countries without a U.S. military footprint.

How did the "peace dividend" turn into a nightmare for various countries that the U.S. has attacked since the demise of the Soviet Union? Members of a once little-known group have been behind the push for word domination.

In 1997, "The Project for the New American Century (PNAC)" unveiled its agenda. It was quite simple: the U.S. should take over the world by military means during the 21st century.

The group may not have been well-known in 1997, but many of its charter members were: Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz, Donald Rumsfeld, Elliot Abrams, Gary Bauer, Elliot Cohen and others.

Most were members of the Reagan administration at various levels. They were young conservative activists who helped write some of the diabolical policies of the Reagan years. Their power receded slightly under George Bush I and more under Bill Clinton. In fact, the Republican Party of the early 1990s evaded them and nicknamed them "The Crazies."

When George Bush II was appointed president of the U.S. in 2000, The Crazies came out of hiding. They were given the new moniker of "neoconservatives" or "neocons." Bush immediately began appointing them to positions in the new government. They were the same names, but with different titles. Rumsfeld was secretary of defense and Cheney was vice-president. Wolfowitz became Rumsfeld’s assistant. Elliot Abrams was given another title, but his duties were the same as under Reagan: keep a low profile but initiate and implement vile activities.

The chart accompanying this article shows the names and government positions of signers of the PNAC as well as excerpts from a letter they sent to Clinton in 1998 advising him to attack Iraq.

Despite the Republican election losses of 2006, The Crazies are still calling the shots, especially in foreign policy. They surround Bush and pump their ideology to him and he, in turn, passes it on to the public.

These people may be crazy, but they are not stupid. They have found and exploited the ethnocentric nerve that runs through many Americans. When the discussion about military intervention, or economic sanctions arises, most Americans accept the decision and allow the leaders to enact their vile policies.

There are many ways in which the U.S. controls foreign nations. Let’s look at Egypt, for example. The Egyptian military is mainly supplied by the U.S. But, the U.S. has put limits on the independence of the Egyptian military by limiting stocks of spare parts as well as controlling Egyptian military communications. If the Egyptian army ever becomes a threat to Israel, the spare parts shipments would be halted.

The main task for Egypt’s military is to protect Hosni Mubarak, the country’s president. He is in the pockets of the U.S. and he must remain in power without opposition.

The control of Egypt does not end with keeping tabs on its military power. The country must rely on outside help to feed its quickly-growing population. The U.S. supplies four million tons of wheat a year to Egypt through aid programs that must be approved by the U.S. Congress. Many of those who vote to retain the aid programs are staunch supporters of Israel. Mubarak knows this and he does not rock the boat. If he did, his country would quickly suffer a devastating famine.

Many Democrats criticize the Bush administration about its foreign policy, but their record is not much better. To ensure the continuation of the embargo against Iraq in the 1990s, Clinton spokespeople consistently lied about its weapons of mass destruction. More Iraqis died during Clinton’s tenure than under the two Bush regimes. Madeleine Albright, Clinton’s secretary of state, when asked if the embargo was worth the lives of a million Iraqi children, unhesitatingly answered, "Yes."

Bush II has merely escalated the xenophobia and ethnocentrism that grips much of the U.S. He has taken the concept of world domination up a notch or two. Clinton was more subtle about U.S. hegemony. He never made the statement that Bush did when he promised "to export death and violence to the four corners of the Earth in defense of this grate country and rid the world of evil."

Omar Barghouti, an independent Palestinian political analyst, stated:

We are witnessing the ominous rise of the most powerful empire ever to exist. Judging from consistent media reports and opinion polls, the rest of the world seems to view it as a menacing rogue state that is arrogantly bullying other nations, east and west, north and south, into unqualified submission to its self-declared designs for world domination and incontestable economic supremacy.

He has aptly stated how the rest of the word sees the U.S. — a view totally opposite to that shared by most Americans. He added:

A century and a half after officially abolishing slavery in the U.S., the new-old masters have a diabolical agenda to resurrect it, except this time on a worldwide scale.

The U.S. has copied the former imperialist actions of Great Britain by forcing countries to relinquish their raw materials. Today’s treasures, instead of gold, cotton and spices, can be explained in one word: oil. This commodity is not merely a raw material for fuelling the economies of the world, but it has become the number one item for power and bragging rights. Hence, Iraq had to be invaded by the U.S. for a show of power. According to Robert E. Ebel, director of the energy program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies:

Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics. It is no longer commodity to be bought and sold within the confines of traditional energy supply and demand balances. Rather, it has been transformed onto a determinant of well-being, of national security, and of international power.

Michael Klare, professor of peace and world security studies at Hampshire College, added:

Controlling Iraq is about oil as power, rather than oil as fuel. Control over the Persian Gulf translates into control over Europe, Japan, and China. It’s like having our hand on the spigot.

Now, it becomes even more clear why the U.S. had to invade Iraq. It was for total domination, not the ouster of a regime or the destruction of invisible weapons. The Portuguese writer and Nobel laureate, Jose Saramago, said: "We are marching against the law of the jungle that the United States and its acolytes old and new want to impose on the world."

Even former U.N. Secretary General Boutrous Ghali, who more than once supported U.S. hegemony in U.N. affairs, now sees the entire picture. He said:

Multilateralism and unilateralism are just methods for the United States: they use them a la carte, as it suits them. The United Nations is just an instrument at the service of American policy.

Millions of Americans hold the U.N. in contempt and maintain that the New York-based agency is attempting to impede U.S. sovereignty. They speak of a "one-world government" in which the U.N. rules every country. In reality, the opposite is occurring. The U.S. uses the U.N. when it can for legitimacy, and, when the members oppose the U.S., the Americans accuse them of not doing their job and then ensue their own agenda.

The acquiescence of the American people to their government’s (Democrat and Republican parties) policies has led to a point in history that is very dangerous for the rest of the world. Eventually, that hazard will rebound in the U.S. I never thought I would be the citizen of a country, that, in its own words, tells its citizens not to visit more than 100 countries on the Earth because their lives may be in danger. The Department of State lists the countries which consist of democracies, dictatorships, kingdoms, leftist governments, rightist governments, authoritarian governments, etc. In other words, there is no common political persuasion to the opposition of U.S. policy worldwide. U.S. foreign policy has taken away the freedom to travel for many of its citizens and turned what was once an enjoyable vacation into a life-threatening experience.

A German journalist recently stated:

Every day conservative U.S. ideologues deepen the rift by accusing Europeans alternatively of being arrogant, incompetent or simply stupid. In this situation, there remains nothing for the Europeans to do than to free themselves once and for all from the U.S. Politically and morally, it will not be a problem — but militarily, things are much more difficult.

He hit the nail right on the head. U.S. military might is overwhelming. While the rest of the world was talking of the peace dividend following the Cold War, the U.S. just kept on increasing its war machine. But, there are occurrences that could alter the balance.

France, Belgium and Germany are behind an effort to create s strong European military, aloof of NATO. The U.S. has told them it is not necessary, but forward-thinking Europeans think otherwise. They can see their countries being future Iraqs within decades.

Another event is happening that will slow down the U.S. power grab. In Iraq, the people are fighting back. For decades, the U.S. had been able to conduct wars against various Third World countries with little loss of life on the U.S. side, while dealing out massive amounts of death and damage to the opponents. In Panama and Grenada, the U.S. death toll was a couple of dozen. In Somalia, again a few dozen. In the campaign against Serbia, the U.S. did not lose one service person. The irony of the Serbian campaign is that the former president of Serbia, the late Slobodan Milosevic, went on trial in the Hague for killing al-Qaida-trained Muslim insurgents in Serbia, while U.S. soldiers received medals of merit for employing the same actions against al-Qaida-trained Afghanis.

Iraq broke the mold of the U.S. attacking countries without having to pay a high price in human lives. The U.S. lost about 100 military personnel before Bush declared victory over Iraq on May 1, 2003. That was a small price to pay. But, the Iraqis did not appreciate the U.S. actions and began a resistance that is constantly growing and becoming more proficient. Several thousand U.S. military people have died and more than 20,000 have been severely injured with lost limbs, blindness and brain damage.

The momentum is beginning to change. Many nations have taken notes on the Iraqi resistance strategy. In the entire history of warfare, a determined guerilla movement has always eventually worn out a militarily superior force. However, the U.S. is still in denial of the real reasons of its calamity in Iraq. Even with the Democrat’s victory in the 2006 elections, Bush is still threatening any country that will not kiss his backside. The Democrats, instead of creating an anti-imperialist movement, have said they will maintain the status quo on the basic issues of homeland security and foreign affairs. It will take more misadventures, such as that of Iraq, to convince U.S. politicians to re-think their policies of world domination.

An often-heard statement is "history repeats itself." Sometimes, it is hard to believe this in today’s unipolar world. But, when one compares the rise and fall of the Roman Empire with today’s U.S.-dominated world, there is compelling logic in the argument.


Holocaust Memorial Day has also become a day of disgrace

A day of shame

Shlomo Papirblatt

Published: 04.18.07

The State of Israel has managed to do the inconceivable: The official annual memorial ceremony marking the slaughter of Jews at the hands of the Nazis has turned into a day of memory and disgrace. The media has compassionately and justifiably sounded the voices of tens of thousands of poverty stricken refugees from hell. For them, it has become tragically apparent that their suffering had just taken a pause of several years, but it has now returned; albeit in a different form but no less painful, because despite being amongst their people their grief is rife.

There is no room for the bewilderment in the face of recent headlines regarding the imperviousness, the stinginess and even the cruelty towards Holocaust survivors in Israel. This phenomenon has deep-set roots. Those in the know are aware that there has always been a terribly cold attitude by many Israelis and in the establishment's conduct towards survivors of the death camps.

It began with their arrival here prior to the founding of the state, their bodies still broken, their souls haunted. Some had a fierce need to tell, a need to expose the atrocities, but time and again they were met with unheeding ears. Shrinking in pain they learned that in the Jewish settlement in the Land of Israel they were regarded as "lambs led to the slaughter." So they put their heroism aside.

When Nazi criminal Adolf Eichmann was captured and the detailed testimonies from the trial resounded throughout the country, for many it was the first time they had heard of what transpired on another planet. Yes, just a decade and half after concentration camp gates were broken down and the human skeletons were freed.

And when the time was ripe and negotiations with the "other Germany" led to reparation agreements, a strange situation, to say the least, was created. Survivors who chose the Zionist option and came here to partake in the establishment of the state were forced to accept the government's handling of their restitution entitlements. Their funds entered the Treasury coffers, which were heavy-handedly controlled by government officials appointed for the purpose.

Nothing can stop the tears

They have been holding on to the funds of the sufferers for dozens of years. Any additions to this aid involved going through a humiliating process; remuneration for the cost of false teeth was a voyage of trials and tribulations. When they complained about the deterioration in their condition they were often treated as swindlers.

The others, who after World War II remained in Western Europe or even in Germany, received generous pension and restitution funds that enable them to live out their old age in dignity, while being provided treatment for ailments that emerged years after they were freed from the camps.

When Israeli survivors were young and active, with a craving for life, they were silenced by their own desire to rehabilitate and raise a new family. They didn't demand respect; they concealed their emotional distress and looked to the future.

Yet today, at such an advanced stage in their lives, with the resurging nightmares that had simmered deep within, nothing can stop the tears. And these tears are being heard; they are heard when we lend an ear once a year - on Holocaust Memorial Day. The day of memory and disgrace.

How come the Chosen People turned into emissaries of death, violence, and terrorism?

The persecution plague

How did it happen that a nation that was persecuted, hunted, oppressed, exiled, humiliated, and nearly annihilated has become so violent and hateful? How come the Chosen People turned into emissaries of death, violence, and terrorism?

Tal Eitan Published: 04.16.07, 16:51 / Israel Culture

For centuries, the Jewish nation was persecuted by all kinds of evildoers - religious, political, and even "scientific." Persecuted first because they introduced monotheism, the Jews were later victimized by Christians over the crucifixion of Christ, and later encountered all kinds of hate and smear campaigns that peaked with the systematic killing of Jews by the Nazi regime in the Holocaust. The hatred that blinded the world and left millions dead led to the establishment of the state of the mistreated, a refuge for the Jews in the Land of Israel.

We have always treated ourselves as the chosen nation. Judaism does carry individual and collective power, exciting culture, wisdom, simplicity, beauty, and magic, offering a tradition to be praised, extolled, admired, and commended. Our Bible contains advanced and enlightened rules and laws that protect those among us who are different, weak, and oppressed. It is full of love for humankind and all other God's creatures. Over the years, our greatest rabbis and Halakic rulers used the Book of Books to bring justice and wisdom, to tell right from wrong, to instill values of true and human morality that even the best legislators of the most enlightened countries would envy.

Alas, as time goes by, the beauty of our religion is eroded gradually as people abuse the Book and exploit its phrases to promote political causes. Once those good old words are distorted this way, they get politically biased, lose their human meaning, and become extremely dangerous. Under the rule of cynics with no moral scruples, the attitude of Judaism toward all men who were created in His shape has turned into a terrifying smear and hate campaign where mad rabbis push for the death of politicians, promote the oppression of entire sectors, and preach harming others, who are different and weak.

Hatred that ignores all traditional interpretations

For example, the "best" rabbis explained why it is so dangerous to let Gay Parade - which they named Profanity Parade - march in Jerusalem. Wishing to reunite their disintegrating courts, to regain their lost followers and eroded status, the heads of those religious courts referred to a single sentence from Leviticus. Ignoring dozens of other decrees that call on the Nation of Israel to severely punish the deviants, those rabbis decided to excite their followers by condemning Gay Parade.

Leviticus contains many other sentences, of course, that order us to "love thy neighbor," to love the foreigners among us, and to respect our parents and elderly. It contains rules that are not less severe than the one against sodomy - stating that it is wrong to shave beards, make tattoos, or hire sorcerers or necromancers. It is, therefore, surprising that the rabbis decided not to pick on those who mark their skin with tattoo or the readers of astrology sections in the weekend papers, but chose to rise against homosexuals. Something about gays made the rabbis produce such hatred that ignored all the traditional interpretations, the humane concepts that are the foundation of Judaism, the concept of loving all other God-made humans.

The results were not late in coming: Severe violence that has nothing to do with true, beautiful, old and forgotten Judaism erupted. Garbage cans were torched, police officers wounded, property damaged. One hateful person even went as far as trying to murder a marcher. Adam David-Russo still carries the scars from the wounds he sustained in Jerusalem's Gay Parade 2005. Some called it a "civil war," blaming the cynical and ugly abuse of universal and Jewish values by rabbis and leaders.

Emissaries of death

How did we - the chosen, kind, and exalted nation turn into emissaries of death, violence, and terrorism? Who dared claim the right to turn the meaning of our beautiful and wonderful Book into a murder-instigation call? Moreover, why did we keep silent in the face of this dreadful and cynical abuse? Why did we let them translate the Good Book into this kind of horrible and destructive meaning?

Really, how did it happen that a nation that was persecuted, hunted, oppressed, exiled, humiliated, and nearly annihilated for hundreds of years has become so violent and hateful? Have we learned nothing from that blind hatred that was based on old beliefs and clear interests that any intelligent person should have seen?

This is my plague and it hangs like a rattling saber over our heads, threatening to cut - in a single blow - hundreds of years of faith and love, of loving traditions that stand humble in the face of God's most wonderful creation - Man, all of mankind.

Iraq opinion gulf leaving GOP in peril

Poll shows independents coming down on Democrats' side

By Charlie Cook
National Journal

Updated: 2:39 p.m. MT April 17, 2007

WASHINGTON - The polarization between Democrats, Republicans and independents on both politics and policy cannot be overstated. The war in Iraq is perhaps the most vivid and important example of the stark differences in opinions based on party affiliation.

There is a chasm the size of the Grand Canyon between Republicans and Democrats on the Iraq war. More ominous for the GOP is that independents are coming down on the anti-war side, if slightly less vociferously than Democrats.

This portends potential peril for Republicans in 2008.

Let's look at the difference in attitudes on Iraq using a CBS News poll of 994 adults, conducted last Monday through Thursday, with a 3-point error margin.

Overall, 44 percent said the United States did the right thing in taking military action against Iraq, while 51 percent said the United States should have stayed out. Among Republicans, 76 percent said it was the right thing to do and 20 percent said the U.S. should have stayed out. For Democrats, on the other hand, it was almost the opposite: 21 percent said military action was the right choice, and 74 percent said staying out was the correct option. Just 38 percent of independents said it was the right thing to do, while 56 percent preferred staying out.

On the question of how things are going in Iraq, 2 percent of those polled thought the war was going very well and 29 percent said somewhat well, for a total of 31 percent. Thirty percent said the war was going somewhat badly and 36 percent said it was going very badly, for a total of 66 percent. Among just Republicans, 62 percent thought the war was going very or somewhat well, compared to 36 percent who said somewhat or very badly. Thirteen percent of Democrats said it was going well, and 85 percent said badly. Again, independents came down significantly closer to Democrats than Republicans, with 23 percent saying that it was going well and 74 percent saying it was going badly.

Those surveyed were asked, "regardless of whether you think taking military action in Iraq was the right thing to do, would you say that the U.S. is very likely to succeed in Iraq, somewhat likely to succeed, not very likely to succeed or not at all likely to succeed?"

Twelve percent said the U.S. is very likely to succeed; 33 percent said somewhat likely, 29 percent chose "not very likely" and another 24 percent said not at all likely.

Among Republicans, 72 percent said success is very or somewhat likely, compared with just 27 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of independents -- yet another example of the thinking of independents aligning much more with Democrats than Republicans.

In terms of what the United States should do now, overall, 21 percent said it should increase troop levels in Iraq, 13 percent said keep the same number, 27 percent said it should draw down troop numbers and 33 percent said remove all troops. Sixty-six percent of Republicans were in favor of increasing or maintaining troop levels, compared with 13 percent of Democrats and 28 percent of independents.

Just 31 percent of Republicans said the United States should decrease the number or remove all troops, compared with 81 percent of Democrats and 65 percent of independents.

Regarding a timetable for withdrawal, 57 percent of the total sample said they were in favor -- 34 percent of Republicans, 75 percent of Democrats and 61 percent of independents. Sixty-two percent of Republicans surveyed said no to a timetable, but just 19 percent of Democrats and 36 percent of independents opposed one.

Finally, when posed with three approaches Congress could take on Iraq, just 9 percent overall said all funding for the war should be blocked. Twenty-nine percent said funding should be provided without a time limit, and 58 percent said Congress should allow funding for a limited period of time. Interestingly, only 13 percent of Democrats were for cutting off all funding no matter what, tracking relatively closely with the 4 percent of Republicans and 10 percent of independents. Seventy-four percent of Democrats and 60 percent of independents favored continued spending with a timetable, along with 38 percent of Republicans.

Fifty-six percent of Republicans said Congress should allow all funding without a time limit, but just 10 percent of Democrats and 26 percent of independents went along with that.

Looking at the data, it is understandable why the natural reaction of Republican lawmakers and 2008 GOP presidential contenders is to hang with President Bush on the war: Their base remains pretty supportive.

It is just as easy to understand why Democrats are behaving the way they are.

Notwithstanding what they personally believe, it's hard for lawmakers and presidential candidates to defy their bases. But pending some resolution or fundamental change in the fortunes of this war, the attitudes of independent voters may well come to haunt GOP candidates in the general election.

As with impeachment in 1998, Republicans are listening to their base, but independents are feeling very different, potentially setting the stage for another bad election for the GOP.

US Tax season: Action day against occupation and war


16. April 2007

In the US, there is a saying that “two things are only certain in life: Death and Taxes“.

Tax deadline in the US is traditionally on April 15, however, this year it was extended to April 17th because April 15th was a Sunday and Monday is public holidays.

anti_freedom_symbol__Ben_HeineAnyway, here are relevant facts and figures for US taxpayers:

  • Percentage of US discretionary budget spent on education and other social services: 8%
  • Percentage of US discretionary budget spent for military: 57% (but the wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are funded in supplementary budget requests so must be add to that!)
  • US Military Budget as a percent of World total military expenditures: 49%
  • Number of Americans classified as “food insecure” in 2004: 38 million
  • Number of Americans without health insurance: 45 million
  • Total direct aid to Israel 1948-2006: $255 billion
  • Total Cost of US Support for Israel: $1.688 trillion (not counting money and lives lost in Israel propelled wars like Iraq, not counting loss of $trillions in business with the rest of the world because of US support for Israel etc)
  • Federal aid for each resident in Louisiana in 2002 (from their taxes): $1,500
  • Direct U.S. aid for each Israeli citizen in 2003 (per capita income in Israel-$16,710; they do not pay taxes to the US): $581
  • Direct U.S. aid for each Ethiopian citizen in 2004 (per capita income in Ethiopia - $110): $2.50
  • Percentage of U.S. foreign aid that goes to Israel: 27%
  • Population of Israel as percentage of total world population: 0.1%
  • Number of Palestinian minors killed by Israeli security forces (2000-2007): 814
  • Total number of Palestinians injured or killed (September 2000-April 2007): 31,296
  • Number of bullets fired by Israeli security forces in the first week of the second Intifada: 1,300,000
  • Number of unexploded Israeli bombs strewn across South Lebanon after the 2006 war: 1,000,000 or 1.4 per resident

If you need more info on how your government spent your taxes, check out this:

Action: Tell Your Rep. TODAY: No More Money for Bush’s War!

[Source: Mazin Qumsiyeh, Image by Ben Heine]

Video: Virginia Tech Shooting Caught On Tape

April 16 - Virginia Tech student Jamal Al Barghouti describes the harrowing moments as gunfire rang out on campus; al Barghouti captured the scene on his cell phone camera.


4 bombings kill 157 people in Baghdad

UDATE: 4 bombings kill 157 people in Baghdad
By SINAN SALAHEDDIN, Associated Press Writer 25 minutes ago

Four large bombs exploded across Baghdad on Wednesday, killing at least 127 people and wounding scores as violence climbed toward levels seen before the U.S.-Iraqi campaign to pacify the capital began two months ago.

In the deadliest of the attacks, a parked car bomb detonated in a crowd of workers at the Sadriyah market in central Baghdad, killing at least 82 people and wounding 94, said Raad Muhsin, an official at Al-Kindi Hospital where the victims were taken.

A police official confirmed the toll, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to release the information.

Among the dead were several construction workers who had been rebuilding the mostly Shiite marketplace after a bombing destroyed many shops and killed 137 people there in February, the police official said.

The market is situated on a side street lined with shops and vendors selling produce, meat and other staples. It is also about 500 yards from a Sunni shrine.

About an hour earlier, a suicide car bomber crashed into an Iraqi police checkpoint at an entrance to Sadr City, the capital's biggest Shiite Muslim neighborhood and a stronghold for the militia led by radical anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

The explosion killed at least 30 people, including five Iraqi security officers, and wounded 45, police said.

Black smoke billowed from a jumble of at least eight incinerated vehicles that were in a jam of cars stopped at the checkpoint. Bystanders scrambled over twisted metal to drag victims from the smoldering wreckage as Iraqi guards staggered around stunned.

Earlier, a parked car exploded near a private hospital in the central neighborhood of Karradah, killing 11 people and wounding 13, police said. The blast damaged the Abdul-Majid hospital and other nearby buildings.

The fourth explosion was from a bomb left on a minibus in the northwestern Risafi area, killing four people and wounding six others, police said.

Also in Baghdad, four policemen were killed Wednesday afternoon when gunmen ambushed their patrol south of the city center, police said. Six pedestrians were wounded in the gunfire.

U.S. officials had cited a slight decrease in sectarian killings in Baghdad since the U.S.-Iraqi crackdown was launched Feb. 14. But the past week has seen several spectacular attacks on the capital, including a suicide bombing inside parliament and a powerful blast that collapsed a landmark bridge across the Tigris River.

"We've seen both inspiring progress and too much evidence that we still face many grave challenges," Maj. Gen. William Caldwell, a U.S. military spokesman, told reporters Wednesday. "We've always said securing Baghdad would not be easy."

Meanwhile, to the west of the city, U.S. troops killed five suspected insurgents and captured 30 others in a raid in Anbar province, a day after police uncovered 17 decomposing corpses beneath two school yards in the provincial capital.

The raid took place early Wednesday near Karmah, a town northeast of Fallujah in Anbar, which has been a stronghold for Sunni insurgents.

American forces raided a group of buildings suspected of being used by militants and found explosives inside one of them, the military said in a statement. A helicopter was called in and dropped precision-guided bombs on the buildings, it said.

The soldiers came under fire and shot back, killing five Iraqis and wounding four others, the statement said. The wounded were taken to a military hospital and remained in U.S. custody. Twenty-six other people were detained as well, the military said.

The bodies found a day earlier at school yards in Ramadi, Anbar's provincial capital, were discovered after students and teachers returned to the schools a week ago and noticed an increasingly putrid odor and stray dogs digging in the area, police Maj. Laith al-Dulaimi said.

Ramadi had been a stronghold of Sunni insurgents and al-Qaida fighters until recently, when U.S. forces in the region and the Iraqi government successfully negotiated with many local tribal leaders to split them off from the more militant insurgent groups.

The U.S. military also reported that a suspected insurgent was killed and eight captured in two raids north of Baghdad on Wednesday. Some of the suspects were believed linked to al-Qaida in Iraq and to a militant cell that has used chlorine in car bombings, the statement said.

Separately, U.S. officials announced that last week they found 3,000 gallons of nitric acid hidden in a warehouse in downtown Baghdad. U.S. forces discovered the acid, a key fertilizer component that can also be used in explosives, during a routine search Thursday, the military said.

Iraqi troops also took charge of security Wednesday in the southern province of Maysan, a region that borders Iran and the fourth province to come under full Iraqi security control since the 2003 U.S. invasion.

A ceremony was held in Maysan's provincial capital of Amarah, 200 miles southeast of Baghdad, and was attended by senior Iraqi and coalition officials including Iraqi National Security Adviser Mowaffak al-Rubaie and the British commander in southern Iraq, Maj. Gen. Jonathan Shaw.

Al-Rubaie said that in order for a timetable to be set for the withdrawal of foreign troops, Iraqi forces and local authorities have to be ready to take over. He was apparently referring to calls by some Sunni Arab groups and al-Sadr's Shiite followers to set a timetable for a pullout.

"We should work to create these circumstances in all provinces, in order to revert security to Iraqis and end the foreign presence," said al-Rubaie, who represented Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the commander in chief of Iraq's armed forces.

Al-Maliki was supposed to attend the ceremony but his trip was canceled without explanation.

Behind George Soros' Fight With AIPAC

April 16, 2007 (LPAC)--The April 12, 2007 issue of the New York Review of Books contains a lengthy article by mega-speculator and Democratic Party moneybags George Soros, attacking the Bush Administration, the neoconservatives, and AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) for sabotaging opportunities for a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and the broader Middle East peace accord. Soros blames AIPAC for the U.S. government's refusal to recognize the new Palestinian Authority national unity government, and for blocking a Congressional demand that the President come to Congress before launching any attack on Iran.

Soros' carefully worded article focused on the urgent need to settle the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: "I believe that a much-neeeded self-examination of American policy in the Middle East has started in this country; but it can't make much headway as long as AIPAC retains powerful influence in both the Democratic and Republican parties. Some leaders of the Democratic Party have promised to bring about a change of direction but they cannot deliver on that promise until they are able to resist the dictates of AIPAC. Palestine is a place of critical importance," Soros continued, "where positive change is still possible. Iraq is largely beyond our control; but if we succeeded in settling the Palestinian problem we would be in a much better position to engage in negotiations with Iran and extricate ourselves from Iraq. The need for a peace settlement in Palestine is greater than ever. Both for the sake of Israel and the United States, it is highly desirable that the Saudi peace initiative should succeed; but AIPAC stands in the way. It continues to oppose dealing with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas."

Soros concludes with a fervent pitch for a debate within the American Jewish community on the future of the Middle East. "Whether the Democratic Party can liberate itself from AIPAC's influence is highly doubtful," he wrote. "Any politician who dares to expose AIPAC's influence would incur its wrath; so very few can be expected to do so. It is up to the American Jewish community itself to rein in the organization that claims to represent it. But this is not possible without first disposing of the most insidious argument put forward by the defenders of the current policies; that the critics of Israel's policies of occupation, control, and repression on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and Gaza engender anti-Semitism. The opposite is the case.... A debate within the Jewish community, instead of fomenting anti-Semitism, would only help diminish it."

Sources familiar with the Soros-AIPAC controversy report that AIPAC has been involved in a smear campaign against Soros because, among other reasons, Soros' Open Society Fund has bankrolled the revival of Jewish communities in many areas of Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, whereas AIPAC's backers believe that all of world Jewry should be living in Israel. Soros' views, expressed in the New York Review of Books piece, are also shared by a significant segment of the Israeli political establishment, and reflect a debate that is raging behind the scenes in the European Jewish community, according to the sources.

Dems divided over Webb’s proposal requiring approval for attacking Iran

By Elana Schor

April 18, 2007

Supporters of requiring President Bush to secure congressional approval for any preemptive strike on Iran are regrouping for a new push, presaging a difficult vote for Democratic leaders and presidential hopefuls alike.

Democrats hailed the Iraq withdrawal language attached to the emergency supplemental as a signal of a newly assertive Congress, even though the House removed a mandate for authorization of attacks on Iran from early drafts of the bill. The reversal quieted some Democrats’ concerns that reining in Bush on Iran could endanger Israel’s security in the Middle East.

Iran is likely to reappear on the agenda this spring, however, as Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.) considers adding his language on the issue to the defense authorization bill and House Democrats hold their leadership to a promise for a roll-call vote.

“There is no hand-tying here. We’re not taking options off the table,” Webb spokeswoman Jessica Smith said. “He offered this piece of legislation to restore the proper balance between the executive and legislative branch. This is a bill to empower Congress.”

For many Democratic base voters, Webb’s Iran language is also a litmus test for presidential candidates. White House assertions that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is tied to Iraqi insurgent groups makes opposition to a possible war with Iran as crucial as opposition to the Iraq war for Democrats running in 2008.

Tom Andrews, the former Democratic lawmaker now leading the anti-war group Win Without War, said the party’s White House hopefuls should see Webb’s plan as a no-brainer.

“The idea that you could not support prohibiting a military strike, given the conditions that are on [Webb’s measure] … certainly raises serious questions in our community,” Andrews said.

Former Sen. John Edwards (D-N.C.) and Sen. Joseph Biden (D-Del.) are the only 2008 Democrats on record as backing Webb’s effort. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) took the Bush administration to task on Iran in a Feb. 14 floor speech, supporting the spirit of Webb’s effort, if not his specific language.

“It would be a mistake of historical proportion if the administration thought that the 2002 resolution authorizing force against Iraq was a blank check for the use of force against Iran without further congressional authorization,” Clinton said.

When asked whether Clinton would vote for Webb’s language, a spokesman for the New Yorker took a wait-and-see approach, saying it depends on the format in which it reaches the floor.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has also kept mum on Webb’s language, which includes multiple exceptions in case of an attack on Iran or Iranian hostility in Iraq. But Obama took an interest in Webb’s push during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last month with Undersecretary of State Nicholas Burns.

Obama asked whether Bush believes he has presumptive authority to attack Iran, to which Burns responded: “It’s the position of our government that the president obviously has the constitutional duty to protect the American people … and as commander in chief has to be able to exercise that authority as he sees fit.”

“I think you meant, ‘it’s the position of our administration’ as opposed to ‘our government,’” Obama replied.

Iran’s recent saber-rattling detention of a British naval crew, which ended in the soldiers’ safe release, appears to have sparked less escalation than expected between Bush and Ahmadinejad. But pro-Israel stalwarts such as Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) see any curb on U.S. action against Iran as a potential handcuff in Iraq.

“What if the president decides, at the request of General Petraeus, that we have to take action to take out [an Iranian] base?” Lieberman said yesterday. “I wouldn’t want to have to go through a month-long debate in Congress before you could do that.”

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), Washington’s most influential pro-Israel lobbying group, held its capital policy conference just after the House removed Iran authorization language from its version of the supplemental. AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr told members there that any legislative attempt to limit U.S. options in Iran would be harmful and signal weakness.

In addition to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) support, Webb has the public backing of Appropriations Chairman Robert Byrd (D-W.Va.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). In the House, Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) said through a spokesman that he would hold Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to her vow for a recorded vote on Iran authorization language.

“I think it will pass because there isn’t a thinking person in the world that believes the President when he says won’t launch a military strike against Iran,” McDermott said. “Even conservative Republicans are worried about the president’s lack of credibility.”

Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) echoed McDermott’s intentions.

“The Bush administration has already misled our nation into one unnecessary preemptive war under false pretenses, and Congress needs to make it perfectly clear that he does not have the authority to take us down the same road with Iran,” Lee said in an e-mail.

The multilateralist group Just Foreign Policy marshaled supporters of the Webb amendment during the supplemental debate last month. Antiwar groups including Peace Action and United for Peace and Justice joined in by organizing grassroots call-ins to Senate offices urging a vote on the Webb language.

“The Senate is going to feel the pressure to pass this provision soon,” Robert Naiman, national coordinator of Just Foreign Policy, wrote on the group’s website. Among its board members are Julian Bond, chairman of the NAACP, and Robert Borosage, co-director of the Campaign for America’s Future.

The USS Liberty Case: The Israel Who Attacked Us Then is Destroying Us Now

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by Mark Dankof

Every once in a while, one runs across a story that stimulates tears, anger, and contemplative reflection at the same time.

I don't think I've ever encountered anything quite like the story of the USS Liberty and what happened to it on June 8th, 1967. Eric Margolis's tome on the subject in 2001, entitled, "The USS Liberty: America's Most Shameful Secret," and James Ennis's June 1993 piece entitled, "The Assault on the USS Liberty Still Covered Up After 26 Years" for the Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, will provide the uninitiated with the synopsis of what happened.

In short, Israel deliberately attacked the USS Liberty, knowing full well who and what it was. 34 dead Americans and 171 wounded was the result.

Lyndon Johnson and Robert McNamara deliberately ordered the American naval fighters scrambled to help the Liberty, launched from the USS America and the USS Saratoga, to stand down. Captain Ward Boston, the legal counsel for the U. S. Navy Board of Inquiry that "investigated" the Liberty tragedy, now admits to Mark Glenn of the American Free Press that the former was ordered to cover up the voluminous data which proved the Israeli assault was not an "accident," as claimed by the Zionist State. Compounding the outrage, Jewish U. S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Jay Cristol, wrote a book with the assistance of the Israeli government and intelligence community, entitled "The Liberty Incident," the transparently fraudulent character of which is fully exposed by William Hughes in the latter's online article, "USS Liberty Smearing Backfires."

Cristol is neither a professional historian, combat veteran, or intelligence analyst. His data and simian analysis in The Liberty Incident contradicts the sworn testimony of Liberty survivors, Dean Rusk, Admiral Moorer, and 3 different CIA reports from the period--one of which fingers Israeli General Moshe Dayan as the one who ordered the brutal assault on the American naval vessel--which even included the strafing of lifeboats and their occupants, a criminal act in complete violation of the Geneva Convention.

But what is new or startling about this? After all, Israel's ethnic cleansing of Palestine, chronicled by Ilan Pappe's definitive work on the subject, has involved acts of terror and murder on an ongoing basis that include the laundry list of such deeds emanating from luminaries like Menachim Begin, Yitzhak Shamir, and Ariel Sharon. The bombing of the King David Hotel in 1946, the assassination of Count Bernadotte, the pogram at Deir Yassin, and the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp slaughters in Lebanon in 1982, are but the tip of the iceberg. But in an America where Corporate Media, Capitol Hill, the Bush Administration, and the State-run Educational Establishment are Zionist-Occupied Territory, such bloody blights on history are not the work of terrorists, but "freedom-fighters." Just ask the Zionist mouthpieces for the ersatz American Right at Murdoch's Fox News.

But now comes America's War on Terror in Iraq--and maybe Iran. After running a tab currently at $500 billion, with 655,000 Iraqi dead and the United States death toll continuing to mount steadily each day, signs indicate that the American Natives Are Restless. The talk--chronicled by Sy Hersh in The New Yorker--that the Bush Administration is contemplating the utilization of tactical nuclear weapons against Iran, is giving pause to even the marginally sane. Present extension of Army tours in Iraq and cannibalization of National Guard units for the same, may be followed by a return to military conscription if a preemptive attack on Ahmadinejad's regime ignites a conflagration throughout the Islamic world, followed by Iranian asymmetrical military attacks against American assets at home and abroad. Is an apocalypse unveiling before the eyes of a public still mesmerized by the World Series, the Super Bowl, and Anna Nicole Smith?

The restless natives need to become the Angry American Natives, steamed by a government run by an evil foreign lobby, that has sent its children to die in a war dictated not by the Constitution of the United States or the legitimate national security agenda of the Nation--but by the denizens of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem who epitomize the radical evil of the clinically demonic ideology known as Zionism. When the Angry American Natives figure out that Israel has been pushing the buttons of this war, along with driving the American foreign and domestic policy agenda since 1948, they will be driven to act in the interest of national survival and the recovery of the Old Republic. The clock is ticking. Time is running out.

And what should be the rallying cry of patriots euphemistically known as Angry American Natives, in the prosecution of a real War that involves family, church, home, and hearth in a fight-to-the-death struggle against Globalist Internationalism, Zionism, and the New World Order?

Remember the Liberty!

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posted by Blackie at 10:12 PM

The Unrecognized

Video, Adalah, 16 April 2007

'The Unrecognized' is a short documentary which highlights the plight of Palestinian Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab (Negev) desert, many of whom were forced off their lands following the establishment of the state in 1948. Approximately 70,000 now live in the poverty of 'unrecognized villages', where they are denied essential public services and face fundamental human rights violations resulting from institutionalized discrimination.

'The Unrecognized' is a short documentary that highlights the plight of Palestinian Arab Bedouin citizens of Israel living in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of the country, many of whom were forced off their lands following the establishment of the state in 1948. The human rights of these citizens of Israel have been continuously violated by over half a century of discriminatory governmental policies and practices. During the military regime under which all Palestinian citizens of Israel lived from 1948 to 1966, many Arab Bedouin were expelled from their villages and forced into a concentrated geographical area.

Today, Israel is again attempting to move the Arab Bedouin, into a limited number of government-planned towns, as plans to encourage the intensive Jewish settlement of the Naqab gather pace. The central problem is that of 'unrecognized villages' - whole communities declared illegal by the state of Israel, and therefore denied essential public services and basic human rights such as access to healthcare, education and clean water. 'The Unrecognized' is a snapshot of the situation as it stood in mid-2005. Interviews with Israeli Jewish and Arab academics, lawyers and human rights activists are presented alongside testimonies from Arab Bedouin community leaders and inhabitants of the unrecognized villages. The film provides damning evidence of a system of segregation and inequality between citizens within Israel. 'The Unrecognized' is a powerful reminder of how an indigenous national minority can be marginalized and victimized when their land is threatened by a state system of institutionalized discrimination.

Related Links
  • The Unrecognized - download high res versions.
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  • BY TOPIC: Palestinians in Israel

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    The Holocaust as Israel's political asset

    "Turning the Holocaust into a political asset serves Israel primarily in its fight against the Palestinians. When the Holocaust is on one side of the scale, along with the guilty (and rightly so) conscience of the West, the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland in 1948 is minimized and blurred."
    Last update - 09:51 18/04/2007
    The Holocaust as political asset

    By Amira Hass

    The cynicism inherent in the attitude of the institutions of the Jewish state to Holocaust survivors is not a revelation to those born and living among them. We grew up with the yawning gap between the presentation of the State of Israel as the place of the Jewish people's rebirth and the void that exists for every Holocaust survivor and his family. The personal "rehabilitation" was dependent on the circumstances of each person: the stronger ones versus the others, who did not find support from the institutions of the state. During the 1950s and 1960s we saw the demeaning view of our parents as having gone "like sheep to the slaughter," the shame of the new Jews, the Sabras, over their misfortunate, Diaspora relatives.

    It can be argued that during the first two decades, much of this attitude could be attributed to the lack of information and the very human lack of an ability to grasp the full meaning of the industrialized genocide perpetrated by Germany. But the awareness of the material aspects of the Holocaust started very early, with Jewish and Zionist institutions starting in the early 1940s to discuss the possibility of demanding reparations. In 1952, the reparations agreement with Germany was signed, by which that country agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to Israel to cover the absorption costs of the survivors and pay for their rehabilitation. The agreement obligated Germany to compensate survivors individually as well, but the German law differentiated between those who belonged to the "circle of German culture" and others. Those who were able to prove a connection to the superior circle received higher sums, even if they emigrated in time from Germany. Concentration camp survivors from outside the "circle" received the ridiculous sum of 5 marks per day. The Israeli representatives swallowed this distortion.

    This is part of the roots of financial cynicism that the media is being exposed to today, due to several reasons: the advanced age and declining health of survivors, the intentional weakening of the welfare state, the presence of survivors from the former Soviet Union who are not included in the reparations agreement, the media activism of nongovernmental welfare organizations and the welcome enlistment of social affairs journalists.

    They are shocked by the gap between the official appropriation of the Holocaust, which is perceived in Israel as understood and justified, and the abandonment of survivors.

    Turning the Holocaust into a political asset serves Israel primarily in its fight against the Palestinians. When the Holocaust is on one side of the scale, along with the guilty (and rightly so) conscience of the West, the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homeland in 1948 is minimized and blurred.

    The phrase "security for the Jews" has been consecrated as an exclusive synonym for "the lessons of the Holocaust." It is what allows Israel to systematically discriminate against its Arab citizens. For 40 years, "security" has been justifying control of the West Bank and Gaza and of subjects who have been dispossessed of their rights living alongside Jewish residents, Israeli citizens laden with privileges.

    Security serves the creation of a regime of separation and discrimination on an ethnic basis, Israeli style, under the auspices of "peace talks" that go on forever. Turning the Holocaust into an asset allows Israel to present all the methods of the Palestinian struggle (even the unarmed ones) as another link in the anti-Semitic chain whose culmination is Auschwitz. Israel provides itself with the license to come up with more kinds of fences, walls and military guard towers around Palestinian enclaves.

    Separating the genocide of the Jewish people from the historical context of Nazism and from its aims of murder and subjugation, and its separation from the series of genocides perpetrated by the white man outside of Europe, has created a hierarchy of victims, at whose head we stand. Holocaust and anti-Semitism researchers fumble for words when in Hebron the state carries out ethnic cleansing via its emissaries, the settlers, and ignore the enclaves and regime of separation it is setting up. Whoever criticizes Israel's policies toward the Palestinians is denounced as an anti-Semite, if not a Holocaust denier. Absurdly, the delegitimization of any criticism of Israel only makes it harder to refute the futile equations that are being made between the Nazi murder machine and the Israeli regime of discrimination and occupation.

    The institutional abandonment of the survivors is rightly denounced across the board. The transformation of the Holocaust into a political asset for use in the struggle against the Palestinians feed on those same stores of official cynicism, but it is part of the consensus.

    Israel marks Holocaust Remembrance Day with siren, memorial services

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    Jewish-Israeli identity relies on crematoria.

    U.S. Convoy Kills Afghan Boy

    Wednesday April 18, 2007 12:46 PM

    AP Photo KAB101

    KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) - A U.S.-led coalition convoy hit a boy in Kabul and killed him, while Afghan and coalition forces arrested five suspected al-Qaida on Wednesday in eastern Afghanistan.

    Acting on intelligence, the joint forces arrested the ``al-Qaida associates'' during a raid on a compound in the Chaparhar district of Nangarhar province, a coalition statement said, adding that no shots were fired and no serious injuries were reported.

    On Tuesday in Kabul, a coalition convoy was passing through a bazaar when the boy stepped into the road from behind a large truck, a coalition statement said. The convoy stopped to provide first aid and the boy was evacuated for medical care, but died of his injuries, it said.

    Also Tuesday, a powerful remote-controlled bomb destroyed a U.N. vehicle in southern Afghanistan's main city, killing four Nepalese guards and an Afghan driver, officials said.

    The attack on a three-vehicle U.N. convoy in Kandahar was the bloodiest in Afghanistan for the world body since the hard-line Taliban militia's 2001 ouster, and illustrated how violence still impedes much-needed reconstruction.

    The convoy was beside a canal when unidentified assailants detonated the charge. It hit a gray sport-utility vehicle, killing the four guards and their driver, police and the U.N. said.

    An Associated Press reporter saw two charred bodies lying on the road nearby. The explosion blew off two of the car's doors and gouged a crater in the road.

    While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, the attack came a day after a Human Rights Watch report accused Taliban militants of committing war crimes by targeting civilians.

    The rights group said militants killed nearly 700 Afghan civilians in 2006 - more than three times the civilian deaths attributed to U.S. and NATO forces, which have been criticized for using excessive force in civilian areas.

    Violence in the south and east has created a vicious cycle for President Hamid Karzai and his international backers: Militants and criminals scare off aid agencies, fueling resentment against the government, especially among ethnic Pashtuns, from whom the Taliban draws its main support.

    Interactive Feature: The Virginia Tech Victims

    Interactive Feature: The Victims
    Interactive Interactive Feature: The Victims

    Read profiles of the men and women killed in the shootings at Virginia Tech and share your thoughts and memories.

    U.S. Will Raise Defense With Israel

    The United States has agreed to raise the level of defense relations with Israel.

    In that context, the Bush administration has dispatched Defense Secretary Robert Gates to Israel, who will arrive tonight for meetings on strategic issues with his counter part, Defense Minister Amir Peretz and with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

    The Gates visit was said to have signaled the lifting of U.S. sanctions on Israel in wake of an unmanned aerial vehicle upgrade project for China in 2004.

    The Pentagon, angered that Israel tried to conceal the project, severed high-level ties, blocked sensitive exports and denied Israel access to the Joint Strike Fighter program. Israel was not believed to have completed the Harpy UAV upgrade for Beijing.

    In September 2005, Israel and the United States agreed to consult on proposed arms exports by the Jewish state. Israel also pledged to make its export approval process transparent, legislation that has not yet been approved by the Knesset.

    Posted Apr 17, 2007 06:15 PM PST
    Category: ISRAEL

    Note that Israel appears to have received precisely what it wanted, but the legislation to make its export approval transparent has not yet been passed by the Knesset.

    The alleged "concern" about the US selling advanced F-15 and F-16 fighters to Saudi Arabia is simply a bargaining chip with which Israel hopes to gain more advantage in the deal.

    Cupid and Cupidity: MAUREEN DOWD - Wolfie and Shaha



    Cupid and Cupidity

    Published: April 18, 2007

    Never has a star-crossed romance so perfectly illuminated a star-crossed conflict as the unfolding saga of Wolfie and Shaha.

    There have been many tender love stories in war.

    Ike and Kay. Pamela Harriman and Edward R. Murrow. Aeneas and Dido. Achilles and his tent temptation, Patroclus.

    But my favorite is the unfolding saga of Wolfie and Shaha. Never has a star-crossed romance so perfectly illuminated a star-crossed conflict.

    The weekend meetings of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund were consumed with the question of how the bank chief could fight corruption while indulging in cronyism. Who could focus on a weak yen when you had a weak Wolfie with a strong yen for Shaha?

    In addition to the story about Paul Wolfowitz’s giving his girlfriend, Shaha Ali Riza, a promotion and a $60,000 raise because he felt guilty that she had to be transferred from the World Bank to the State Department when he took over, The Times reported yesterday on more imperialist hanky-panky.

    Steven Weisman and David Sanger wrote that in 2003, when Wolfie was No. 2 at the Pentagon, the office of his consigliere, Douglas Feith, directed a private contractor to hire Ms. Riza, then at the World Bank, to spend a month traveling in Iraq to study ways to set up the new government.

    (It was simple to get the contractor, the Science Applications International Corporation, to play along. As Vanity Fair reported, the Pentagon awarded SAIC seven contracts valued at more than $100 million before the war, without competitive bidding. Mr. Feith’s deputy was Christopher Henry, a former SAIC senior vice president.)

    Wolfie and Shaha did not let a little thing like World Bank rules — which barred the bank from providing economic assistance to an area under military occupation — keep them from pushing the neocon delusions.


    When Bad People Kill

    When Bad People Kill
    The tragic murders of Virginia Tech students, apparently by an insane person, will prompt new attempts to ban private ownership of guns. Once guns are banned, crime will explode. Households and vulnerable members of society will lose the ability to defend, which will invite more intrusions and attacks. Knife crimes will rise as they have in Great Britain.
    Posted Apr 17, 2007 10:43 PM PST
    Category: RIGHT TO BEAR ARMS

    Posted Apr 17, 2007 10:42 PM PST
    Category: CURRENT EVENTS

    Guns don't kill, anti-depressants do!
    Cowardly cops with sub-machine guns hid behind trees as punk madman went on killing spree.
    Posted Apr 17, 2007 10:40 PM PST
    Category: CURRENT EVENTS

    According to John R. Lott, Jr, all three of these European killing sprees had one thing in common: they took place in gun-free zones.
    Posted Apr 17, 2007 05:09 PM PST