Thursday, January 31, 2008

A Poem From Palestine

I Believe in Miracles

By Nahida

You can break my bones
My free spirit is invincible
You can cause me the loss of sight
The light of my insight
You'll never take away

In the shadows of darkness
Lies the corpse of your might
You can destroy my house
The windows of my hope,
You cannot break
The pillars of my faith
You can never shake

You can threaten me
With weapons of death
And mass destruction
Implanting fear in my heart
You cannot achieve
Nor can you cut off
My divine connection

With a missile
You can tear my body apart
My soul however
Is out of your reach
And is forever intact

You claimed victory in six days!
Victorious are those
With a dignified gaze
Facing tanks with tender flesh
And only with stones,
The F16 fighter blaze

You can never defeat my will to be
Because my power that you cannot explain
Grows from within the roots of my pain
You depend on the United States
For wealth and war supply
My infinite strength stems from

My creator, the One most high

Thought for the Pod: Galileo vs. the Pope

Last week, Pope Benedict cancelled his visit to Rome's La Sapienza University, where he'd been invited to give the inaugural address.

In a previous speech at the university before he became Pope, he gave his support to the astronomer Galileo's conviction for heresy in 1633 - which, suffice to say, didn't go down well with the students or academics at La Sapienza. Caspar Melville takes up the story:

Seventeen years ago at Rome's La Sapienza University, when he was just plain old Cardinal Ratzinger head of the Catholic Church's Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the modern version of the inquisition, the Pope made a speech which argued that Galileo's' conviction for heresy in 1633 had been just and reasonable given the context of the time.

Galileo, who argued that the earth revolved around the sun, has been a thorn in the side of Catholic orthodoxy for more than 350 years, and the various ways in which the church has responded to him offers a kind of index of the tricky relationship between holy mother church and science. We shouldn't forget that the scientific milieu in which Galileo worked was dominated by the church, he was devout, he worked in catholic institutions and debated with scientifically minded clergy.

Continued . . .

Iraq conflict has killed a million, says survey


Reuters North American News Service

Jan 30, 2008 13:29 EST

LONDON, Jan 30 (Reuters) - More than one million Iraqis have died as a result of the conflict in their country since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to research conducted by one of Britain's leading polling groups.

The survey, conducted by Opinion Research Business (ORB) with 2,414 adults in face-to-face interviews, found that 20 percent of people had had at least one death in their household as a result of the conflict, rather than natural causes.

The last complete census in Iraq conducted in 1997 found 4.05 million households in the country, a figure ORB used to calculate that approximately 1.03 million people had died as a result of the war, the researchers found.

The margin of error in the survey, conducted in August and September 2007, was 1.7 percent, giving a range of deaths of 946,258 to 1.12 million.

ORB originally found that 1.2 million people had died, but decided to go back and conduct more research in rural areas to make the survey as comprehensive as possible and then came up with the revised figure.

The research covered 15 of Iraq's 18 provinces. Those that not covered included two of Iraq's more volatile regions -- Kerbala and Anbar -- and the northern province of Arbil, where local authorities refused them a permit to work.

Estimates of deaths in Iraq have been highly controversial in the past.

Medical journal The Lancet published a peer-reviewed report in 2004 stating that there had been 100,000 more deaths than would normally be expected since the March 2003 invasion, kicking off a storm of protest.

The widely watched Web site Iraq Body Count currently estimates that between 80,699 and 88,126 people have died in the conflict, although its methodology and figures have also been questioned by U.S. authorities and others.

ORB, a non-government-funded group founded in 1994, conducts research for the private, public and voluntary sectors.

The director of the group, Allan Hyde, said it had no objective other than to record as accurately as possible the number of deaths among the Iraqi population as a result of the invasion and ensuing conflict. (Reporting by Luke Baker; editing by Andrew Roche)

Is NATO Committing Genocide in Afghanistan?

Targeting Protected Groups

Counterpunch, January 30, 2008


Sloganeers, propagandists and politicians often use the word "genocide" in ways that the law does not permit. But rarely is the crime of genocide invoked when Western militaries murder Muslim groups. This essay argues that the internationally recognized crime of genocide applies to the intentional killings that NATO troops commit on a weekly basis in the poor villages and mute mountains of Afghanistan to destroy the Taliban, a puritanical Islamic group. NATO combat troops bombard and kill people in Taliban enclaves and meeting places. They also murder defenseless Afghan civilians. The dehumanized label of "Taliban" is used to cloak the nameless victims of NATO operations. Some political opposition to this practice is building in NATO countries, such as Canada, where calls are heard to withdraw troops from Afghanistan or divert them to non-combat tasks.


In almost all NATO nations, the Taliban have been completely dehumanized - a historically-tested signal that perpetrators of the crime of genocide carry unmitigated intentions to eradicate the dehumanized group. Politicians, the armed forces, the media, and even the general public associate in the West the Taliban with irrational fanatics, intolerant fundamentalists, brutal assassins, beheaders of women, bearded extremists, and terrorists. This luminescent negativity paves the way for aggression, military operations, and genocide. Promoting the predatory doctrine of collective self-defense, killing the Taliban is celebrated as a legal virtue. To leave the Taliban in control of Afghanistan, says NATO, is to leave a haven for terrorism.

Continued . . .

Survivors detail Suharto-era massacres

Survivors Describe Mass Killings Under Indonesian Dictator Suharto


AP News

Jan 27, 2008 17:02 EST

Hiding out in the dense, humid jungle, Markus Talam watched Indonesian soldiers herd manacled prisoners from trucks, line them up and mow them down with round after round of automatic weapons fire.

It was 1968, and the killings were part of a final offensive by forces under Gen. Suharto to wipe out the communist party and secure his position as leader of Indonesia, now the world's most populous Muslim nation.

"They gunned them down and dumped their bodies in a mass grave dug by other prisoners. I remember the sound of the guns clearly: tat-tat, tat-tat, tat-tat ... over and over again," said Talam, 68, who was later jailed for 10 years after being named a leftist sympathizer.

Suharto, who died on Sunday at a Jakarta hospital, seized control of the military in 1965 and ruled the country for 32 years, suppressing dissent with force and supported by an American government at the height of the Cold War.

Estimates for the number killed during his bloody rise to power — from 1965 to 1968 — range from a government figure of 78,000 to 1 million cited by U.S. historians Barbara Harff and Ted Robert Gurr, who have published books on Indonesia's history. It was the worst mass slaughter in Southeast Asia's modern history after the Khmer Rouge killing fields in Cambodia.

Continued . . .

Labour rights investigator arrested in Bangladesh

Indymedia UK | 31.01.2008

Labour rights activists from around the world are calling for support in securing the release of Mehedi Hasan, a field investigator for the Washington D.C.-based Worker Rights Consortium, who was arrested on Thursday 24th January by the Bangladesh security forces.

Mr. Hasan has been held in detention at a police station in Dhaka, where authorities have refused to let his family visit. We have serious concerns for his safety and are asking for urgent messages to be sent to the Bangladesh authorities calling for his immediate and unconditional release.

Hasan’s arrest takes place in a context of severe repression by the military-backed “caretaker” government. Since January 12, 2007 the government has banned political and trade union activities. Both Bangladeshi and foreign labour rights advocates have been put under surveillance, interrogated and detained. We are also extremely concerned about the safety of other Bangladesh labour rights advocates, who we believe may also be at risk of arrest under the current emergency laws.

Please help Mehedi and other labour rights workers in Bangladesh by sending an email to the Bangladesh authorities demanding his safe and quick release.

Labour Behind the Label
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Malalai Joya: My country is using Islamic law to erode the rights of women

The Independent

Thursday, 31 January 2008

After six years in control, this government has proved itself to be as bad as the Taliban – in fact, it is little more than a photocopy of the Taliban. The situation in Afghanistan is getting progressively worse – and not just for women, but for all Afghans.

Our country is being run by a mafia, and while it is in power there is no hope for freedom for the people of Afghanistan. How can anyone, man or woman, enjoy basic freedoms when living under the shadow of warlords? The government was not democratically elected, and it is now trying to use the country's Islamic law as a tool with which to limit women's rights.

Continued . . .

Arrested chief justice brands Musharraf as brutal

Angela Balakrishnan and agencies
Wednesday January 30, 2008
Guardian Unlimited

Pakistan's ousted chief justice today denounced the president, Pervez Musharraf, as an "extremist general" who believed in "brutal justice" for sacking 60 top judges and keeping him under house arrest for the past three months.

Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry, who was sacked when Musharraf declared emergency rule last November, said in a letter to western leaders that his wife and three children, one of whom has special needs, were even forbidden from going on to the front lawn of their home in Islamabad as it was occupied by police.

Continued . . .

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

U.S. veto kills resolution to condemn Israel, despite Gaza crimes

Once again in the Security Council

Granma International, January 30, 2008

NEW YORK, Jan. 29 .— The UN Security Council has suspended discussion on a resolution regarding the precarious situation in the Gaza Strip, where Israel continues to carry out indiscriminate attacks on the Palestinian people, after the United States once again opposed condemning Tel Aviv in any way.

Washington, which has veto power, is attempting to legitimate the conduct of the Zionist government, which through its blockade and air and land invasions, has impoverished the Palestinian people of Gaza and left many victims, alleging “self-defense” against the launching of missiles by resistance forces.

The first version of the non-binding resolution was rejected by the United States, ANSA reported. In recent days, experts from the United States and Libya, which currently holds the presidency of the Security Council, worked to try to reach a compromise, but were unable to do so given the obstinate position taken by the United States.

Meanwhile, Tel Aviv maintains its blockade on the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian population is surviving without electricity and with food and medicine shortages.

Pioneering Blackwater Protesters Given Secret Trial and Criminal Conviction

By Jeremy Scahill, AlterNet. Posted January 29, 2008.

Protesters who re-enacted one of Blackwater’s worst civilian massacres in Iraq got jail time, while the real killers remain free.

Last week in Currituck County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Russell Duke presided over the final step in securing the first criminal conviction stemming from the deadly actions of Blackwater Worldwide, the Bush administration’s favorite mercenary company. Lest you think you missed some earth-shifting, breaking news, hold on a moment. The “criminals” in question were not the armed thugs who gunned down 17 Iraqi civilians and wounded more than 20 others in Baghdad’s Nisour Square last September. They were seven nonviolent activists who had the audacity to stage a demonstration at the gates of Blackwater’s 7,000-acre private military base in North Carolina to protest the actions of mercenaries acting with impunity — and apparent immunity — in their names and those of every American.

Continued . . .

UK media’s advice to Musharraf

The News International, Wednesday, January 30, 2008

By Rauf Klasra

LONDON: The British media has told President Pervez Musharraf that if he is serious about giving Pakistan a real transition to democracy, then he should heed the timely advice of 100 retired military officers, who now want him to resign, as many of them once "trained the future president".

This single advice given by a leading British newspaper, the Guardian, sums up the outcome of the four-day long stay of Musharraf in London in his bid to win the hostile British media, public and its think-tanks since he removed judges, detained lawyers, beat the members of civil society, curbed media freedom followed by assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

At the end of Musharraf's visit to Europe, the British media has come out with its own analysis of the speeches and commitments he made with the European leaders during his eight-day-long trip to four countries.

Prominent among many reviews published on the visit of Musharraf, the Guardian has simply told Musharraf to hear the voices of those who want him to resign.

Continued . . .

Government leaders pay tribute to Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto

World Socialist Web Site, January 30, 2008
By Peter Symonds
The death of former Indonesian dictator Suharto on Sunday at the age of 86 has elicited a stream of tributes from world leaders and in the international press. There is something both disturbing and ominous about praise for a man who was responsible for the murder of at least half a million people in the 1965 coup that brought him to power and the deaths of another 200,000 following the 1975 Indonesian annexation of East Timor.

Suharto’s funeral, with full military honours, took place on Monday in the central Javan city of Solo. While he was forced to step down in 1998, the regime that Suharto established remains largely intact, despite its more recent democratic trappings. Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself a Suharto-era general, presided over the lavish ceremony, hailing the dead dictator as “a loyal fighter, a true soldier and a respected statesman”.

While no prominent US official attended, a White House spokesman announced that President Bush had sent “his condolences to the people of Indonesia on the loss of their former president”. Two of South East Asia’s longstanding autocrats—former Malaysia Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad and Singapore’s elder statesman Lee Kuan Yew—flew to Indonesia to pay their last respects to the military strongman.

Continued . . .

The creationist buffoonery and its dangerous implications

Dissident Voice, January 29, 2008

By Lee Salisbury

Creationism seems to be gaining credence far beyond its actual influence in the world of science. Even American presidential candidates, lest they offend the religious right, reject evolution in favor of creationism. Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Mit Romney endorse creationism. President George Bush suggests students ought to hear all sides of the argument, as if creationism or its bastard offspring Intelligent Design is a science topic worthy of mention. In spite of the pro-evolution 2006 verdict in Dover, PA, creationists persist seeking to influence and intimidate uninformed school boards in Ohio, Florida, and Texas. This is clearly a culture war with creationist/biblical literalists leading the anti-science, pro-creationist charge.

Creationists usually have two basic assertions: 1) that they are the ones who know true science and 2) that it is they and they alone who are the guardians of true faith in the written and revealed word of their deity. Both are of concern as surely as they are false, but it is the first assertion that we must deal with here.

Continued . . .

Arming the Middle East

Foreign Policy In Focus, January 28, 2008

By Stephen Zunes

President George W Bush announced during his recent Middle East trip that he is formally serving notice to Congress of his administration’s decision to approve the sale of bomb-guidance kits to Saudi Arabia. This announcement follows notification on five other arms deals to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait that are part of a $20 billion package of additional armaments over the next decade to the family dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf emirates announced by President George W. Bush last summer.

At that time, the Bush administration also announced taxpayer-funded military assistance totaling an additional $13 billion over this same period to the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt. Also part of this package is an additional $30 billion worth of sophisticated weaponry bound for Israel.

Altogether, these arms deals represent a major setback for those struggling to promote peace and democracy in that volatile region.

The Democratic-controlled Congress has the authority to block any or all of these proposed sales. It could also refuse to approve the military assistance packages, which altogether total $63 billion. Congress has until February 13 to block the latest portion of the arms package, consisting of 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, valued at $123 million. In addition to these highly advanced satellite-guided bombs, the Bush administration’s proposed arms sales to the Gulf monarchies include sophisticated guided missiles, new naval ships, and upgrades to fighter aircraft for Saudi Arabia and the five other Gulf monarchies.

However, no one among the top House or Senate leadership in either party has yet to come out in opposition to any aspect of the administration’s plans to dangerously escalate the regional arms race.

Continued . . .

Liberty, democracy, brutality

The Guardian, January 28, 2008

Many EU politicians treat Israel as a state that holds the highest European ideals dear. But this is hogwash

Diplomatic pressure from the European Union has been credited as being partly responsible for how Israel allowed some deliveries of food, medicine and fuel to Gaza over the past few days.

But you would never guess that senior EU officials had been flexing their metaphorical muscles if you saw one particular document distributed to the Brussels press corps.

This was a transcript of a speech given by the European commission's vice-president, Franco Frattini, during a visit to Israel.

In a week when the UN berated Israel for violating international law by blockading Gaza, it seems extraordinary that Frattini should indulge in some flagrant fawning towards his hosts.

According to his prepared script for a conference entitled Israel at 60: test of endurance, Frattini did not allude once to the blockade imposed on Gaza, even though the UN considers it to be an illegal act of "collective punishment".

Instead, he insinuated that opponents of Israel in Europe were guilty of antisemitism. "This prejudice, this stance against Israel and Jews, has no place in today's Europe," he said.

Read those words again: "This stance against Israel and Jews".

How can opposition to a country's government be equated with hostility towards adherents of a religion?

Keep reading . . .

Nobel Prize winner slams climate efforts, January 24, 2008

Indian scientist Rajendra K. Pachauri wants to raise environmental awareness
Image caption: Indian scientist Rajendra K. Pachauri wants to raise environmental awareness (Keystone)

The Indian president of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) gives swissinfo the full force of his opinions at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Last year the IPCC was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, along with co-recipient Al Gore, former vice-president of the United States.

The WEF has returned once again to the question of climate change, which has now become an topic of everyday conversation. This year it is focusing on water.

But is the situation any better on land? For Pachauri, most of the work still remains to be done.

Continued . . .

Danish library plans to house cartoons of prophet Muhammad

· Controversial works will be secure, says spokeswoman
· Muslim society vows to ignore 'provocation'

Robert Tait
Wednesday January 30, 2008
The Guardian

Denmark's national library is to risk re-opening an international political storm by housing the cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad that provoked violent convulsions throughout the Islamic world two years ago.

The royal library in Copenhagen - founded in the 17th century by King Frederik III and home to many historic treasures - has declared the drawings to be of historic value and is trying to acquire them for "preservation purposes".

The library, widely acknowledged as the most significant in Scandinavia, has agreed to take possession of the caricatures on behalf of the museum of Danish cartoon art, a spokesman told the Art Newspaper.

Continued . . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

9/11 Contradictions

When Did Cheney Enter the Underground Bunker?

David Ray Griffin |, January 24, 2008

With regard to the morning of 9/11, everyone agrees that at some time after 9:03 (when the South Tower of the World Trade Center was struck) and before 10:00, Vice President Dick Cheney went down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), sometimes simply called the “bunker,” under the east wing of the White House. Everyone also agrees that, once there, Cheney was in charge—that he was either making decisions or relaying decisions from President Bush. But there is enormous disagreement as to exactly when Cheney entered the PEOC.

According to The 9/11 Commission Report, Cheney arrived “shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58” (The 9/11 Commission Report [henceforth 9/11CR], 40). This official time, however, contradicts almost all previous reports, some of which had him there before 9:20. This difference is important because, if the 9/11 Commission’s time is correct, Cheney was not in charge in the PEOC when the Pentagon was struck, or for most of the period during which United Flight 93 was approaching Washington. But if the reports that have him there by 9:20 are correct, he was in charge in the PEOC all that time.

Continued . . .

Report: Chief Rabbi says move Gazans to a Palestine in Sinai

By Saul Sadka

28/01/08 "Haaretz " -- -- London - Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has been quoted as calling for Gazans to be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula, to a Palestinian state which he said could be constructed for them in the desert.

In an interview in English with the British weekly The Jewish News, the chief rabbi also said that while peaceable Muslims should be allowed to pray in Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Muslims have Mecca and Medina, he was quoted as saying, adding that "you don't need a third place."

Metzger called for Britain, the European Union and the United States to assist in the construction of a Palestinian state in Egypt's Sinai Desert.

According to Metzger, the plan would be to "take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains buses cars, like in Arizona - we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people - they will have a nice county, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace."

Metzger was quoted as telling the paper that the plan was new and he had not presented it to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Continued . . .

Dark Truths About the Israeli Occupation

By Daniel Levy, Washington Monthly. Posted January 29, 2008.

Can Israelis ever recover from the self-inflicted damage of becoming a brutal occupier?

Edith Zertal and Akiva Eldar end their exhaustive study of Israeli settlement policy with a poignant question: Is it possible, they wonder, that Israel's 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip will become a "first step in Israel's journey of liberating itself from the enslavement to the territories that it occupied in 1967, and which have occupied [it] since then and have brought it to the verge of destruction"? Negotiations that have been set in motion by the Annapolis peace conference in November will likely provide a partial answer. Zertal, a leading Israeli historian, and Eldar, a chief political columnist and a former Washington correspondent for the Israeli daily Ha'aretz, have recently published Lords of the Land: The War for Israel's Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007. It is a detailed history of Israel's nearly forty-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank with a painful contention at its core. The occupation, say Zertal and Eldar, has wounded Israel's very psyche, damaging both its sense of self and its moral standing in the world. "The prolonged military occupation and the Jewish settlements that are perpetuating it have toppled Israeli governments," write the authors, "and have brought Israel's democracy and its political culture to the brink of an abyss."

Continued . . .

Return to Fallujah

Three years after the devastating US assault, our correspondent enters besieged Iraqi city left without clean water, electricity and medicine

The Independent, January 28, 2009

By Patrick Cockburn

Fallujah is more difficult to enter than any city in the world. On the road from Baghdad I counted 27 checkpoints, all manned by well-armed soldiers and police. "The siege is total," says Dr Kamal in Fallujah Hospital as he grimly lists his needs, which include everything from drugs and oxygen to electricity and clean water.

The last time I tried to drive to Fallujah, several years ago, I was caught in the ambush of an American fuel convoy and had to crawl out of the car and lie beside the road with the driver while US soldiers and guerrillas exchanged gunfire. The road is now much safer but nobody is allowed to enter Fallujah who does not come from there and can prove it through elaborate identity documents. The city has been sealed off since November 2004 when United States Marines stormed it in an attack that left much of the city in ruins.

Its streets, with walls pock-marked with bullets and buildings reduced to a heap of concrete slabs, still look as if the fighting had finished only a few weeks ago.

Continued . . .

Monday, January 28, 2008

Top US agents in secret trip to Pakistan

Top US Intelligence Officials in Secret Trip to Pakistan to Seek Broader Role Against al-Qaida

The Guardian, January 27, 2008

AP News

The top two U.S. intelligence officials made a secret visit to Pakistan in early January to seek permission from President Pervez Musharraf for greater involvement of American forces in trying to ferret out al-Qaida and other militant groups active in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan border, a senior U.S. official said.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity given the secret nature of the talks, declined to disclose what was said, but Musharraf was quoted two days after the Jan. 9 meeting as saying U.S. troops would be regarded as invaders if they crossed into Pakistan to hunt al-Qaida militants.

The New York Times — which first reported on the secret visit by CIA Director Michael Hayden and Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence — said Musharraf rebuffed an expansion of an American presence in Pakistan at the meeting, either through overt CIA. missions or by joint operations with Pakistani security forces.

Keep reading . . .

A criminal idea

The Guardian, January 25, 2008

James K Galbraith

Attacking other countries to stop them acquiring nuclear weapons repudiates a key principle of international law

Five former Nato generals, including the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili, have written a "radical manifesto" which states that "the West must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the 'imminent' spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction."

In other words, the generals argue that "the west" - meaning the nuclear powers including the United States, France and Britain - should prepare to use nuclear weapons, not to deter a nuclear attack, not to retaliate following such an attack, and not even to pre-empt an imminent nuclear attack. Rather, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a non-nuclear state. And not only that, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of biological or chemical weapons by such a state.

Under this doctrine, the US could have used nuclear weapons in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, to destroy that country's presumed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons - stockpiles that did not in fact exist. Under it, the US could have used nuclear weapons against North Korea in 2006. The doctrine would also have justified a nuclear attack on Pakistan at any time prior to that country's nuclear tests in 1998. Or on India, at any time prior to 1974.

Continued . . .

Judiciary Committee should move to impeach Bush and Cheney

The Philadelphia Inquirer, January 27, 2008

Elizabeth Holtzman

served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1973 to 1981

Since mid-December, members of the House Judiciary Committee Robert Wexler (D., Fla.), Luis Gutierrez (D., Ill.) and Tammy Baldwin (D., Wis.) have called for hearings on the impeachment of Vice President Cheney.

This should not be surprising, given the strength of the case for impeachment. What’s surprising is that it took so long for members of this committee, normally tasked with holding impeachment proceedings, to call for them.

They face huge political resistance on Capitol Hill. But they aren’t alone. Other Democratic members are joining them. Former senator and Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern recently published an op-ed demanding impeachment proceedings for both Bush and Cheney. Bruce Fein, a Republican who served in the Reagan Justice Department, and many other constitutional scholars also argue for impeachment.

There is more than ample justification for impeachment. The Constitution specifies the grounds as treason, bribery or “high crimes and misdemeanors,” a term that means “great and dangerous offenses that subvert the Constitution.” As the House Judiciary Committee determined during Watergate, impeachment is warranted when a president puts himself above the law and gravely abuses power.

Have Bush and Cheney done that?

Continued . . .

Insights of a Lawyer: Was 9/11 an Inside Job?, January 27, 2008

by Hal. C. Sisson, QC

In mid January 2008 united 9/11 Truth Movements across Canada, spearheaded by Victoria and Vancouver branches, sent a petition letter to the heads of all Canadian political parties and to every Member of Parliament. The letter requested two things:

a. A call for a new investigation into the events of September 11, 2001 by an independent and impartial tribunal, plusb. Open discussion in Parliament of, or a national referendum on, the proposed integration of Canada, the United States and Mexico into a North American Union, under the Security and Prosperity Partnership agreement, (originally signed in 2005 in Waco Texas by then Prime Minister Paul Martin); an Agreement that has never been discussed outside of a cabal of senior government officials and military and corporate leaders.

The first request (a) follows in the wake of questioning in the Japanese Parliament (Diet) by Yukihisa Fujita of the Japan Democratic Party, as to the conspiracy theory of 9/11 presented by the U.S. Bush Administration. He asked just how terrorists could possibly have attacked the Pentagon and the World Trade Center.

9/11 photo

Six years ago the U.S. Administration and their intelligence agencies stated they would present convincing evidence that foreigners of a Muslim Arab persuasion were the perpetrators of the tragic crime of 9/11. This evidence has never yet been forthcoming. People ask why? Can’t the United States prove their allegations in court? And why does the FBI say they have no hard evidence of the involvement of Osama bin Laden?

On the other hand, millions of people around the world have amassed a great deal of solid evidence of incomplete investigation, missing evidence, unsubstantiated conclusions and outright lies as to the facts and the full story of 9/11. So much so that it is impossible not to conclude that at the very least the events were in some measure allowed to happen - the motive being the persuasion of the American public to condone the wars with Afghanistan and Iraq — and is Iran next?

Continued . . .

Report: Barak met secretly with Pakistan's Musharraf last week

By Haaretz Service, 27/01/2008

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (left) and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. (Archive)

Defense Minister Ehud Barak met last week in secret with Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf, Channel 2 reported Sunday.

According to the report, the officials held two meetings in Paris - the first one brief, and the second one approximately an hour long.

Barak expressed to the Pakistani president his concern over the growing strength of extremist Islamic movements in Pakistan, and said he feared Pakistan's nuclear weapons would fall into the hands of extremists.

Continued . . .

Bread and power in Pakistan

Al-Ahram, Issue No. 881, 24-30 January 2008

Violence and political assassinations are not the only reasons Pakistanis have had it with their government, writes Graham Usher in Rawalpindi

On a rain-drenched road in Rawalpindi men, women and children stand patiently behind a truck. It's a few kilometers from the park where Pakistan opposition leader Benazir Bhutto was slain four weeks ago. And the street is covered in sodden party political paraphernalia proclaiming elections next month. But voting and Bhutto are the last things on these people's minds. Like much of the country they are queuing for bread.

"A 20 kilo bag used to cost 250 Rupees; now it's 295," says Rashid Nabil, a sack of flour on his shoulder. "I have to buy one of these three times a month to feed the eight people in my family. I earn 4,000 Rupees a month. That's a lot of your income to be spending on bread".

He shifts the load from one shoulder to the next. "Whatever [Pakistan leader Pervez] Musharraf has done, he's done for the army or for the rich, not for the poor. What's the point of building new roads when you can't feed the people?"

Pakistan is in the midst of its worst bread famine in 40 years. The shortage has been exacerbated by massive power and gas outages. Coupled with the pall cast by Bhutto's assassination -- and what seems an endless toll of political violence (the latest being the murder of 12 people by a suicide bomber at a Shia mosque in Peshawar on 17 January) -- the mood among Pakistanis is as leaden as the winter sky.

Continued . . .

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Gandhi Grandson Quits After Criticizing Jews

Arab News, January 27, 2008

Ben Dobbin, Associated Press

Arun Gandhi

ROCHESTER, New York, 27 January 2008 — Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson resigned from the peace institute he co-founded after condemnation of his comments that Israel and the Jews are the biggest players in a culture of violence that “is eventually going to destroy humanity.” Arun Gandhi, the fifth grandson of the revered pacifist, said on Friday that his comments, which were posted on an online forum, were meant “to generate a healthy discussion on the proliferation of violence.”

“Instead, unintentionally, my words have resulted in pain, anger, confusion and embarrassment. I deeply regret these consequences,” Gandhi said. He apologized “for my poorly worded post,” saying he should not have implied that Israeli government policies reflected the views of all Jewish people.

Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, called it “shameful that a peace institute would be headed up by a bigot.” The board of the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence based at the University of Rochester accepted Gandhi’s offer on Thursday to step down as its president.

Gandhi co-founded the institute with his wife, Sunanda, at Christian Brothers University in Memphis in 1991 and relocated it to the University of Rochester campus in June, a few months after her death. Gandhi was on a panel of scholars, writers and clergy who discuss a new topic weekly on The Washington Post’s “On Faith” page and his comments, posted Jan. 7, drew a torrent of criticism, much of it unfavorable. Describing Israel as “a nation that believes its survival can only be ensured by weapons and bombs,” Gandhi asked whether it would “not be better to befriend those who hate you?”

“Apparently, in the modern world so determined to live by the bomb, this is an alien concept,” he wrote. “You don’t befriend anyone, you dominate them. We have created a culture of violence (Israel and the Jews are the biggest players) and that Culture of Violence is eventually going to destroy humanity.” He wrote that the Jewish identity “has been locked into the holocaust experience — a German burden that the Jews have not been able to shed. It is a very good example of (how) a community can overplay a historic experience to the point that it begins to repulse friends. “The holocaust was the result of the warped mind of an individual who was able to influence his followers into doing something dreadful ... The world did feel sorry for the episode but when an individual or a nation refuses to forgive and move on, the regret turns into anger.”

The school’s president, Joel Seligman, said in a statement that Gandhi’s resignation was appropriate and his remarks “did not reflect the core values” of the university or the institute.

Pentagon chief says US ready to deploy combat troops in Pakistan

WSWS, January 26, 2008

By Bill Van Auken

The United States is “ready, willing and able” to deploy American combat troops in Pakistan for joint military operations in the country’s troubled border region, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday.

The public statement about an American intervention in Pakistan appeared aimed at pressuring the regime of President Pervez Musharraf into accepting a more direct US role in the suppression of internal opposition, which is linked to the growing resistance to the American-led occupation of neighboring Afghanistan.

According to media reports, the Bush administration has conducted extensive top-level discussions on the crisis in Pakistan and drawn up plans for a US intervention in the wake of last month’s assassination of Pakistan Peoples Party leader and former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. The administration reportedly sees the political crisis in the aftermath of the political killing as an opportunity to expand its influence in the country.

Washington’s stepped-up pressure on Pakistan is developing in the context of increasing fighting between tribal forces and government troops in a region bordering Afghanistan. The government has reported that more than 200 fighters and 30 government soldiers have died during three weeks of violence in the South Waziristan region.

Continued . . .

Veteran Palestinian leader George Habash dies in Amman

Raw Story

AFP, January 26, 2008

George Habash, founder of the radical Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) which he led for three decades, died on Saturday in a hospital of the Jordanian capital at the age of 82.

The Palestinian ambassador to Jordan, Atallah Khairy, said Habash was hospitalised in Amman 10 days ago with heart problems and died shortly after 8 pm (1800 GMT).

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas paid tribute to Habash and ordered flags to be flown at half-mast for three days in the Palestinian territories.

"The death of this historic leader is a great loss for the Palestinian cause and for the Palestinian people for whom he fought for 60 years," during which he lived in exile, Abbas said.

His family said Habash would be buried in Amman on Monday or Tuesday.

Habash stepped down as head of the Damascus-based PFLP in July 2000 after having led the leftist faction which is a key component of the Palestine Liberation Organisation for more than 30 years.

He had been living in Jordan, the homeland of his wife, after an illness forced his retirement from political life.

The PFLP under Habash had hijacked airliners to Jordan and he called for the overthrow of its monarchy in 1970 before the Black September clashes in which the Jordanian army expelled the PLO from the kingdom.

Habash argued that the hijackings were legitimate action against Israel as a means of shining the spotlight on the neglected Palestinian cause. The PFLP also attacked Israeli embassies and oil pipelines.

A charismatic but controversial figure, Habash was a fierce opponent of the policy of compromise of PLO chief Arafat, ruling out a normalisation of ties with the Jewish state and accusing him of making too many concessions.

He opposed Arafat's 1993 Oslo autonomy deal and refused to return to the Palestinian territories after the launch of autonomy in 1994, while insisting on the right of return of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel.

Habash's own life was turned upside-down one day in July 1948, when he found himself caught up in a tide of thousands pouring down a dusty road as they fled the Israeli advance on his hometown.

He graduated from the American University of Beirut in 1951 as a paediatrician, and the next year he founded the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), which aimed at unifying the whole Arab world to confront Israel.

At the same time he worked in a "people's dispensary" in Amman until 1957 when he was forced to go underground as a result of his political activity, and moved to Damascus where he stayed from 1958 to 1963, before moving to Beirut.

He founded the PFLP, preaching "popular armed resistance," in December 1967, six months after the Six-Day War which saw Israel seize east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Habash's radicalism, and his denunciation of Arab regimes, put a price on his head, and not only in Israel. He was wanted in Jordan and at one time even imprisoned in Syria, although he managed to escape.

The PFLP formed the hard core of a "Rejection Front" based in Damascus.

Married, and the father of two daughters, Habash moved to the Syrian capital in 1982, when the Israeli invasion of Lebanon drove all Palestinian factions from Beirut where he had established his headquarters.

Habash was born in 1925 in the Palestinian town of Lydda, now in Israel and known as Lod, the son of a Greek Orthodox merchant family.

Open Letter to all Arab Leaders

Axis of Logic, January 26, 2008

By Robert Thompson

You are variously presidents, kings and emirs, but you have one thing in common, namely that you are responsible for the lives of everyone under your rule.
You also have a duty towards the rest of humanity, since we human-beings are all inter-dependent, however humble or elevated we may consider ourselves to be, and among this mass of humanity you should perhaps think first with whom you have the common link of your beautiful and most expressive language.
This close link should lead you to do what you can to help all Arabs who have been suffering persecution and oppression, and especially those who still are, and your strong cultural bond should go beyond the religious community in which you might respectively have been raised. Most of you are Muslim, but some are Christian, and you should remember that you are all People of the Book, which makes us all spiritual heirs to Abraham / Ibrahim, one of our loving and merciful God's greatest prophets.
At present the most obvious cases of such persecution and oppression are those where the aggressors are the Zionists and their Neocon puppets in the USA, or minions and supporters of these two groups. Their terrible crimes should drive you to do everything that you can to help your fellow Arabs in and from Palestine, Syria, the Lebanon and Iraq, including offering powerful joint military protection.
I am not suggesting a new war against the oppressors, there are already two under way, but rather support for every initiative which weakens the power of the aggressors, such as economic boycotts and refusal to entertain any business or political dealings with these sponsors of state terrorism. Such combined action could put an end to these dominant forces of evil, but it requires a firm determination to act in unison, and to avoid acting in your own most immediate selfish interests. While enjoying your power, never forget the duties which you have to your own peoples, to the whole Arab nation and to the wider world. Therein lies the challenge if you are going to achieve true greatness, and this obliges you to put aside any form of vicious greed and sectional selfishness.
Yours most respectfully,
Robert Thompson
Avocat Honoraire au Barreau de Boulogne-sur-Mer
22 rue de l'Eglise

Ending the stranglehold on Gaza, January 26, 2008

By Eyad al-Sarraj and Sara Roy

AN ISRAELI convoy of goods and peace activists will go today to Erez, Israel's border with Gaza, and many Palestinians will be on the other side waiting. They will not see one another, but Palestinians will know there are Jews who condemn the siege inflicted on the tiny territory by Israel's military establishment and want to see an end to the 40-year-old occupation.

Israel's minister of justice, Haim Ramon, had pushed for cutting off Gaza's "infrastructural oxygen" - water, electricity, and fuel - as a response to the firing of Qassam rockets into Israel. Last Sunday, Ramon's wish came true: Israel's blockade forced Gaza's only power plant to shut down, plunging 800,000 people into darkness. Food and humanitarian aid were also denied entry. Although international pressure forced Israel to let in some supplies two days later, and the situation further eased when Palestinians breached the border wall with Egypt, the worst may be yet to come.

Continued . . .

Worse Than a Crime

Counterpunch, Weekend Edition, January 26 / 27, 2008

The Blockade of Gaza


It looked like the fall of the Berlin wall. And not only did it look like it. For a moment, the Rafah crossing was the Brandenburg Gate.

It is impossible not to feel exhilaration when masses of oppressed and hungry people break down the wall that is shutting them in, their eyes radiant, embracing everybody they meet - to feel so even when it is your own government that erected the wall in the first place.

The Gaza Strip is the largest prison on earth. The breaking of the Rafah wall was an act of liberation. It proves that an inhuman policy is always a stupid policy: no power can stand up against a mass of people that has crossed the border of despair.

That is the lesson of Gaza, January, 2008.

* * *

ONE MIGHT repeat the famous saying of the French statesman Boulay de la Meurthe, slightly amended: It is worse than a war crime, it is a blunder!

Months ago, the two Ehuds - Barak and Olmert - imposed a blockade on the Gaza Strip, and boasted about it. Lately they have tightened the deadly noose even more, so that hardly anything at all could be brought into the Strip. Last week they made the blockade absolute - no food, no medicines. Things reached a climax when they stopped the fuel, too. Large areas of Gaza remained without electricity - incubators for premature babies, dialysis machines, pumps for water and sewage. Hundreds of thousands remained without heating in the severe cold, unable to cook, running out of food.

Again and again, Aljazeera broadcast the pictures into millions of homes in the Arab world. TV stations all over the world showed them, too. From Casablanca to Amman angry mass protest broke out and frightened the authoritarian Arab regimes. Hosny Mubarak called Ehud Barak in panic. That evening Barak was compelled to cancel, at least temporarily, the fuel-blockade he had imposed in the morning. Apart from that, the blockade remained total.

It is hard to imagine a more stupid act.

Continued . . .

London Demo Slams Musharraf’s Rights Abuses, January 26, 2008

Rights activists have staged demonstrations in London to denounce Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf’s ‘human rights abuses’.

The demonstration, organized by human rights group Amnesty International, came on Saturday at Downing Street, prior to a meeting between Musharraf and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Monday.

“British Prime Minister Gordon Brown should tell visiting Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf that free and fair elections will be impossible without the full restoration of Pakistan’s judiciary,” said Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch.

On November 3, 2007 Musharraf suspended Pakistan’s Constitution, fired much of the country’s senior judges and arrested thousands of opponents, most of whom were eventually released because of international pressure.

“An independent judiciary is vital for people to have an avenue to contest the results of this election conducted in an environment of bias and intimidation,” said Adams.

He urged Brown to press Musharraf to rescind these measures, set up an independent election commission and a neutral caretaker government to oversee elections.


Saturday, January 26, 2008

Wolfowitz, War Architect, Named to Head US Security Panel

Paul Wolfowitz, an architect of the war in Iraq in the Bush administration who became World Bank president only to resign in a pay scandal, was named Thursday as head of a US government advisory panel.0125 03

The State Department announced Wolfowitz’s appointment as Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s chairman of the International Security Advisory Board (ISAB).

ISAB, the department said, is “a source of independent insight, advice, and innovation on all aspects of arms control, disarmament, nonproliferation, political-military issues, and international security and related aspects of public diplomacy.

“The ISAB provides analysis and insight into current issues-of-interest for the secretary on a regular basis,” according to a statement.

Wolfowitz has been serving as a visiting scholar in foreign and defense policy studies at the American Enterprise Institute, where he studies development issues.

Wolfowitz, widely credited with raising Africa’s profile in the World Bank’s lending activities, agreed to leave his post on June 30 in the face of accusations he violated bank rules in arranging a promotion for his girlfriend, a bank employee.

Wolfowitz consistently argued that he had acted in good faith in the matter.

Under President George W. Bush, he served as deputy defense secretary where he was a proponent of the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq.

In his decades of public service, he was also Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, US Ambassador to Indonesia, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia and Pacific Affairs and Director of Policy Planning at the Department of State.

© 2008 Agence France Presse

Solidarity with Gaza Now: Sanctions against Israeli War Crimes!

Written by Michael Warschawski, Alternative Information Center (AIC)
Wednesday, 23 January 2008

A majority of Gaza citizens live in poverty and many are without running water.
The Israeli government has declared a total war on Gaza, largely cutting electricity and fuel supplies and prohibiting basic products to enter, including food and medicines.

Gaza is not a territory, but 1.4 million human beings, women, men and children. “Attacking Gaza” or “putting Gaza under siege” means targeting 1.4 million civilians. According to international law, this is a war crime; according to common sense, it is a crime against humanity. Such a crime cannot be justified by any excuse, and no reason whatsoever can allow a state, a government, or a person to commit it.

The martyrdom of Gaza is based on a lie and a stupid assumption. The lie is the Israeli argument that justifies the siege against Gaza in order to quell the daily firing of Qassam rockets onto the town of Sderot. Yet the Qassams are a reaction to forty years of Israeli occupation, colonization and bloody repression, an occupation rendered even more cruel after the “disengagement,” initiated two years ago by Ariel Sharon. The assumption that this siege will help end the Hamas government is as absurd as that used by Israel to justify Operation Defensive Shield in 2002: in both cases, these assumptions strengthened the radicals at the expense of the so-called moderates, and not the other way round.

The sole reason that 1.4 million human beings are under siege in the Gaza Strip is collective punishment for their refusal to surrender to the diktats of Washington and Tel Aviv. The women and men of Gaza are not only one of the proudest populations on earth, but also one that has known a unique combination of bloody repression and poverty. As painful as it may be, this combination is the secret of the Gazans’ stubbornness and steadfastness. Olmert and his advisers are gradually understanding that they will not provoke a capitulation from the Gaza population, and the only tool that remains is to punish the Palestinians for this.

The Gazans are providing a rare example of resistance and heroism, and no one has the right to expect them to do more. The additional efforts that could ultimately bring about the end of their martyrdom have to come from the solidarity movement all over the world, including Israel. The coalition of Israeli anti-occupation movements is organizing, next Saturday, a convoy of support and solidarity. We hope that several hundred cars will participate from all the parts of Israel. We know well that our modest convoy will not change the material conditions of the Gaza population. Our goal is to send a strong message to the Israeli public: the siege on Gaza in a war crime and whoever is not protesting as strongly as possible is guilty of non-assistance to a people in danger. It is also a call for international the public opinion: demand from your respective governments that they stop their collaboration with the Israeli war crimes and the boycott of Gaza.

Ehud Olmert and his ministers, General Gabi Ashkenazi and the members of the Israeli military High Command must all be charged by the International Court of Justice for their war crimes against the population of Gaza. The State of Israel must be sanctioned, not the victims of the Israeli colonial occupation!

MoD blames army leadership failure for abuse of Iraqis

· Troops were kept in dark about ban on hooding
· Defence secretary promises further inquiry

Richard Norton-Taylor
Saturday January 26, 2008
The Guardian

Serious failings in army leadership, planning and training - particularly about treating civilians in an occupied country - led to the abuse of Iraqis by British soldiers, a Ministry of Defence investigation has found.

Soldiers were not told about their obligations under international law or about a specific ban on hooding imposed by the government 36 years ago, said the report by Brigadier Robert Aitken, the army's director of army personnel strategy. Troops were given "scant" information on how to treat civilian detainees and needed "a better understanding between right and wrong".

His report, released yesterday, is a severe indictment of the overall failure to plan for the invasion and its aftermath. It was ordered after a string of cases alleging ill-treatment by British troops, notably the death of Baha Mousa, a Basra hotel receptionist, in September 2003.

Continued . . .

Bush Justice Nominee Authorized C.I.A. Torture, January 24, 2008


The Justice Department lawyer who wrote a series of classified legal opinions in 2005 authorizing harsh C.I.A. interrogation techniques was renominated by the White House on Wednesday to a senior department post, a move that was seen as a snub to Senate Democrats who have long opposed his appointment.

The lawyer, Steven G. Bradbury, who has run the department’s Office of Legal Counsel without Senate confirmation for more than two years, has been repeatedly nominated to the job of assistant attorney general for legal counsel.

But the earlier nominations stalled in the Senate because of a dispute with the Justice Department over its failure to provide Congress with copies of legal opinions on a variety of terrorism issues. Under Senate rules that place a time limit on nominations, Mr. Bradbury’s earlier nominations expired.

Late last year, Democrats urged the White House to withdraw Mr. Bradbury’s name once and for all and find a new candidate for the post after it was disclosed in news reports in October that he was the author of classified memorandums that gave approval to harsh interrogation techniques, including head slapping, exposure to cold and simulated drowning, even when used in combination.

Mr. Bradbury’s memorandums were described by Democrats as an effort by the Bush administration to circumvent laws prohibiting torture and to undermine a public legal opinion issued by the Justice Department in 2004 that declared torture to be “abhorrent.”

Continued . . .

The British have made matters worse, says Afghan President

From January 25, 2008

Britain and Afghanistan fell out in spectacular fashion yesterday after President Karzai accused his British allies of bungling the military operation in Helmand and setting back prospects for the area by 18 months.

Mr Karzai, Britain’s key ally in Afghanistan, had little praise for the efforts of the 7,800 British troops deployed in his country. Most are in the restless southern Helmand province, where Britain has invested billions of pounds in trying to defeat the Taleban, bolster central government authority and begin reconstruction.

But Mr Karzai said that they had failed in the task, particularly the initial military mission launched nearly two years ago by 16 Air Assault Brigade — a unit that is returning for its second tour this year.

Continued . . .

Friday, January 25, 2008

Americans kill nine Afghan policemen and a civilian

10 Die in Mistaken Afghan Firefight

New York Times, January 25, 2008


Shir Ahmad/Reuters
Protesters in Ghazni, south of Kabul, chanted anti-American slogans on Thursday after a search for Taliban left nine Afghan policemen and a civilian dead.

KABUL, Afghanistan — At least nine Afghan police officers and a civilian were killed early Thursday in a firefight between American forces and the officers in Ghazni Province, just south of the capital, local officials said.

The American forces were searching houses in a village on the outskirts of Ghazni town and blew open the gates of a house, according to local Afghan officials. District police officers heard the explosion and rushed to the scene, suspecting that the Taliban were in the area, but were themselves mistaken for Taliban and shot by the American soldiers, the officials said. Aircraft supporting the operation fired on one of the police cars.

The killings set off protests in the town on Thursday afternoon, and demonstrators blocked the main highway and prevented a government delegation from reaching the town from a nearby airfield, local officials said.

“Another big cruelty was made by American forces this morning,” said Khial Muhammad Hussaini, a member of Parliament from the province who was among the elders and legislators who had traveled to the town to try to calm people and persuade them to reopen the highway.

Zemarai Bashary, a spokesman for the Ministry of the Interior in Kabul, confirmed the shooting and called it a “misunderstanding,” but said he had information on only eight deaths.

Keep reading . . .

Israeli air strikes kill four Hamas militants in Gaza

The News International, January 25, 2008

GAZA CITY: Israeli aircraft killed four Hamas militants overnight in missile strikes around the Gaza border town of Rafah, Palestinian and Israeli officials said Friday.

Two Hamas militiamen were killed as they drove near the shattered border fence with Egypt and two more were killed while driving in Rafah town, Palestinian security officials said. The Israeli military described both strikes as being against "terrorists".

The Danse Macabre of US-Style Democracy

Information Clearing House, January 24, 2008

By John Pilger

The former president of Tanzania Julius Nyerere once asked, "Why haven’t we all got a vote in the US election? Surely everyone with a TV set has earned that right just for enduring the merciless bombardment every four years." Having reported four presidential election campaigns, from the Kennedys to Nixon, Carter to Reagan, with their Zeppelins of platitudes, robotic followers and rictal wives, I can sympathize. But what difference would the vote make? Of the presidential candidates I have interviewed, only George C. Wallace, governor of Alabama, spoke the truth. "There’s not a dime’s worth of difference between the Democrats and Republicans," he said. And he was shot.

What struck me, living and working in the United States, was that presidential campaigns were a parody, entertaining and often grotesque. They are a ritual danse macabre of flags, balloons and bullsh*t, designed to camouflage a venal system based on money power, human division and a culture of permanent war.

Traveling with Robert Kennedy in 1968 was eye-opening for me. To audiences of the poor, Kennedy would present himself as a savior. The words "change" and "hope" were used relentlessly and cynically. For audiences of fearful whites, he would use racist codes, such as "law and order." With those opposed to the invasion of Vietnam, he would attack "putting American boys in the line of fire," but never say when he would withdraw them. That year (after Kennedy was assassinated), Richard Nixon used a version of the same, malleable speech to win the presidency. Thereafter, it was used successfully by Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and the two Bushes. Carter promised a foreign policy based on "human rights" – and practiced the very opposite. Reagan’s "freedom agenda" was a bloodbath in Central America. Clinton "solemnly pledged" universal health care and tore down the last safety net of the Depression.

Continued . . .

Sword dancing while Gaza starves

Osamah Khalil, The Electronic Intifada, 24 January 2008

President George W. Bush and Prince Salman bin Abdul Al-Aziz (right) join sword dancers during the President's visit to Al Murabba Palace in Riyadh, 15 January 2008. (White House photo by Eric Draper)

A staggering disparity in images has emanated from the Middle East over the past two weeks. While US President George W. Bush received a warm welcome during his tour of the Persian Gulf, Israel pounded Gaza killing over 40 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians. Bush participated in sword dancing ceremonies, watched the prowess of hunting falcons, and in the United Arab Emirates he was finally greeted with the flowers that he once believed American troops would receive in Iraq. The obscene displays of wealth and extravagant gifts by the Gulf states, whose coffers are flush with cash from near-record oil prices, contrasted sharply with the images of death and destruction unleashed on impoverished Gaza. This was compounded by Israel's total closure of the tiny strip late last week, leaving the 1.5 million Palestinian inhabitants with dwindling food and fuel supplies. As the only power plant in Gaza shut down Sunday night, Palestinian children in a candle-light march covered by Al Jazeera asked, "Where are the Arabs?" Yet, the Arabs weren't the only ones absent from the scene. Indeed, Gaza appears to have been abandoned by the entire world, further revealing the state of fragmentation and isolation of the Palestinian national movement.

Continued . . .