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empire burlesque





Tomgram: Mark Engler, Paying Oil's True Cost
by Tom Engelhardt

I won’t claim it was the first time in all these months, just the first I noticed.  On Monday, my hometown paper had no mention of the Gulf of Mexico, BP, or what we’ve come to call its disastrous “spill,” though that word hardly catches the dimensions of what happened.  On Tuesday, the catastrophe that filled front pages and topped the TV news month after month returned to the paper as a reporter-less seven-paragraph piece, headlined “Relief Well Nears Point of Intercept,” and tucked away at the bottom of page 15 (with a credit line reading only, “by The New York Times”).  This was, of course, just a week after, as the piece put it, “a 'static kill,' or 'top kill' cemented the runaway well.” 

Runaway no more. Now, only the story is running away.

Last week, the government also announced -- and this was front-page news in the Times -- that 4.9 million runaway barrels of oil had poured into the Gulf since April, and that, according to a government report, all but 26% of it was now miraculously gone.  The news in the headlines seemed rosy indeed.  Almost a frog-turns-into-prince happy ending.  Of course, given the strange, collusive relationship between the Obama administration and BP in the Gulf, including suppressing or discrediting scientific research on and media coverage of the spill, keeping key assessments of damage from the public, all sorts of lingering unanswered questions, and the low-ball figures both the administration and BP have repeatedly released since the Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, these should hardly be treated as gospel numbers.  That they should not, however, was only a page 16 follow-up story in the Times; and for more startling figures -- that, for instance, closer to half of the spewed oil may remain in the Gulf -- you needed to look elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the government and BP were reportedly close to an agreement on a “clean up and compensation fund” that would, curiously enough, be pegged to that company’s oil revenues from the Gulf or, as the Wall Street Journal put it, “that would give both sides an incentive to continue production in the Gulf... [and] would represent a new level of interaction between BP and the federal government.”  BP’s new chief operating officer Doug Suttles even briefly suggested that the company might return to the same reservoir of oil and take another shot at drilling there.  But no matter, unless the capped well were to blow again, we’re obviously at one of those 24/7 to 0/7 moments that seem increasingly the essence of media coverage of any subject.

Not so fast, though.  Mark Engler, TomDispatch regular and author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy, wants us to consider the real damage and real cost to our society from Big Oil’s predations.  (By the way, the image accompanying Engler’s piece, “BP’s Black Gold,” comes from a series of collages on water issues by Phyllis Ewen, an artist whose work I particularly admire.  Click on it to make it bigger.  In addition, for a TomCast audio interview with Engler click here or, to download it to your iPod, here.)  Tom

The Gulf at the Gas Station 
Can We Calculate the True Cost of Our Dependence on Oil? 

By Mark Engler

This might be an opportune time to make a disclosure: I am a BP shareholder. Admittedly, I’ve never attended the company’s annual meeting, and if I did, I would have very little weight to throw around.






Misinformed Views of Americans and Mid-Eastern People by Americans and Mid-Eastern People
by Peter Stern
 I truly believe that we Americans and Mid-Eastern citizens have more in common than we have differences.  As humans, we have the same basic needs and desires.
I have been speaking on an Iranian blog with citizens of several Mid-Eastern nations and it interests me in many ways how they view the U.S. and its citizens.
Take the view of one woman who responded to an article I had written that the U.S. is "friendless" in the Middle East.  The woman calls herself Raelynn  and states:

"My problem with your article, and many other articles I read that are similar to yours, is that you claim that the Middle East are not friends to the United States, when what you should be saying is that the government of these Middle Eastern countries are not friends to the United States. Most, not all, of the civilians in these Middle Eastern countries love the United States and it's people. They consistently praise the United States. Almost all of the people living in the Middle Eastern countries hate what their government does more than the United States, because they are the ones having to live with it. So please, you and any other journalist who may read this, start saying the government and not the people, are the United States' enemies."

Raelynn makes a good point with a slight oversimplification.  Americans observe the actions of the governments of Middle East nations and automatically assume that the same hostile actions and intent also is held by the people who live there.  Americans have no way to consider how citizens in the ME feel about us and most U.S. citizens are unaware of what ME people go through on a daily basis.  Most of us really don't even care to know.  We are safe within our assumptions and perhaps our justification for what the U.S. is doing overseas.  However, I don't know how much this Raelynn can speak for all people living in Iran, Afghanistan, Iraq, Turkey, Palestine, Israel, Saudi Arabia, etc.

Many, if not most, Americans may believe that the majority of ME people believe and act in the similar hostile magnitude of the volatile and extremist actions of radical individuals and groups who perpetrate bombings and other assaults throughout the world in the name of Allah and who would like to bring the U.S. down to its knees.  That sort of thinking is ridiculous.  The majority of ME people, just as most Americans, would like to live in peace, raise their families, send their children to schools and to live a good life.





Net Neutrality Threatened: Part II
by Stephen Lendman

On August 4, New York Times writer Edward Wyatt headlined, "Google and Verizon Near Deal on Web Pay Tiers," saying:

These giants "are nearing an agreement that could allow Verizon to speed some online content to Internet users more quickly if the content's creators are willing to pay for the privilege. Content producers would pay more for preferential service, but consumers will also be affected, paying higher fees or losing out, sacrificing Net Neutrality, a "sacred tenet....in which no form of content is favored over another."

On August 5, Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones  Newswire's Scott Morrison headlined "2nd Google, Verizon Deny Tiered-Web Deal Report," saying:

Today, the two firms "denied a report saying (they) were to close an agreement that would allow the carrier to speed up the delivery of online content to Internet users if content creators paid for the privilege," subverting Net Neutrality in which all content is equally treated.

Verizon issued a statement saying:

"Our goal is an Internet policy framework that ensures openness and accountability, and incorporates specific FCC authority, while maintaining investment and innovation. To suggest this is a business arrangement between our companies is entirely incorrect."

Google also denied The Times story saying:

"We remain as committed as we always have been to an open Internet.....We have not had any conversations with Verizon about paying for carriage of Google or YouTube traffic."

An earlier Wall Street Journal article said the two companies may soon announce an agreement they hope could be a model for legislation aimed to prevent telephone or cable companies from delaying or blocking Internet traffic. The Times, however, stands by its report.

Broadband companies want maximum customer revenue. Internet ones have long opposed prioritized traffic because it'll cost more, especially for popular sites like YouTube.

An August 6 freepress.com article by its Media Coordinator Jenn Ettinger headlined, "Company (Google) Claims to Support Open Internet but Remains Dodgy About Details of Deal with Verizon," saying:

"Google's 'denial'....leaves out many important details about the policy agreement being negotiated with Verizon....the company (falls short of openness) about its position on fundamental issues like 'managed services,' and how the Internet will be treated on wireless networks. Google has already entered into a lucrative partnership with Verizon to push its Android operating system for mobile phones."

S. Derek Turner, Free Press' Research Director added:

"Google's denial is just damage control, a sleight-of-hand-designed to deflect the growing public outcry against a company that once pledged 'don't be evil.' "

Turner said reports about Google and Verizon are worrisome. They're not denying their wireless network arrangement. "This means (not) only will pay-for priority be allowed, but (also) that companies like Verizon will be permitted to outright block websites that compete with it or its partners like Google." 





Materialism that sustains the western democracies is exhausting itself: Fredrick Toben
by Kourosh Ziabari in Iran

Dr. Fredrick Toben is a German author and founder and former director of the Adelaide Institute. He has written numerous books on education, political science and history and is best known as a historical revisionist who has extensively argued the veracity of Holocaust accounts by the Jewish historians. Due to his holocaust denial, he has been imprisoned three times in Germany, United Kingdom and Australia.

This is an in-depth interview with Dr. Toben in which we've discussed his viewpoints regarding holocaust, the unconditional supports of the United States for Israel, the plight of Palestinian nation under the Israeli occupation and the fate of Middle East peace process.

Kourosh Ziabari: Western politician usually boast of their commitment to liberal values and democratic principles such as the freedom of speech and human rights; however, you were sentenced to prison two times as a result of expressing your viewpoints and ideas. Should the same case happen in a third-world, non-aligned country such as Iran, one can hardly imagine the extent of international condemnations and criticism that would come next. Aggregately, you spent 12 months in prison and this should be very painful. Tell us about your experiences in the prisons of Germany, United Kingdom and Australia.

Fredrick Toben: I think the best way to begin answering this question is by repeating my sometime misunderstood quip: ‘The world is my prison'. This realization has been strengthened by my regularly visiting Iran since 1999 when I left Mannheim Prison after seven months and spent a week in Teheran. I was impressed with the Iranian youth who had a strong national bond with their country, so different to the Germans and other peoples in the so-called western democracies.

This difference is one of mindset. In the West we have pushed the hedonistic-consumer life-style to the point where individuals self-destruct through substance abuse and nihilistic thought processes that suggest life is fun and games. As a teacher I opposed such a world view because the act of thinking about things is actually hard work. Admittedly, for some it is easier than for others but all of us should have to think about our value system, the guide that enables us to lead a productive and balanced life.

I was impressed how determined Iranian students are in their attitudes towards life. Admittedly, it helps that there are still some legal constraints that support a form of public modesty, something we have lost in the west. I was also impressed by the wisdom they expressed, for example, some could not understand why in the West an individual who has personal problems, as if that is an abnormal thing, goes off  and pays money to a stranger who then listens to his personal problems, often about his most intimate problems. I was informed that in Iran this matter is handled by a person visiting family and friends, cousins, aunts or uncles, who then advise on how best to solve a pressing problem. I have been advised that now there is also a new growth industry – psychological counselling, which is a brain-child of the Freudian mindset, and in turn its wellspring is found in Talmud, the Jewish moral guide. It is little wonder that too many individuals cannot accept such thoughts intruding into their value system and becoming a part of their Weltanschauung-world view.

Just getting back to freedom as such, if we use the concept freedom then we must always ask the questions: freedom from what and freedom for what? In the West we have the freedom to self-destruct, this being the logical consequences of consumer society's motor that predatory capitalism has constructed for us. I have just returned from a seven-week American tour and saw the tragedies being played out as the financial system is crashing all around and vainly trying to resurrect itself. The home foreclosures are a catastrophe, but as is fitting  within the hedonistic blame-game, the individuals who received loans from banks that they could never repay are blamed for causing their own destruction. This is sad because we should be looking at the system operating in one of the wealthiest countries in the world that permits poverty and homelessness to flourish while individuals within that system receive millions of dollars in performance bonuses.

As far as my prison time is concerned, I refuse to adopt a victim mentality because that is unproductive. As Captain Eric May's wife, Gretchen, reminded me when I visited them in July this year in Houston, as she tended to her totally disabled husband, “It's useless to sit on the pity-pot and better to get on with the job'. That's the imperative, to get on with the job, and if your body gives up on you, then it is the brain that sees you through. This is also true of prison itself. The authorities may have your body but they still do not have your mind, not yet. There were moved afoot to declare individuals who refuse to believe in the ‘Holocaust' as ‘delusional', the first step to have them psychiatrically committed.  But then we know how such a story tragically ends, as in the 1962 novel, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest http://www.youtube.com/watch? v=jReNeEHH2lQ

In 1999 I spent time at Yalta, Crimea, where I met a psychiatrist who informed me how he had to certify insane any Soviet Union dissenter. Anyone who refused to go along with Marxism as a state ideology would be given the treatment. In Poland up to 1989 it was a dogma to believe that the Germans perpetrated the Katyn Massacre, when in fact it was the mainly Jewish staffed Soviet secret service that did it. The ‘Holocaust' has reached this stage in a number of European countries – and we have to ask ourselves why this is so.

The usual response is that questioning the ‘holocaust' is hurtful to the survivors and it is defaming the memory of the dead, and it is also diminishing the Nazi war-crimes and will lead to a re-surgence of Nazism. All of these reasons are baseless because history does not repeat itself in any such detail. Further, any ‘Holocaust' trial is a mere show-trial reminiscent of the Soviet show trials where the accused is already guilty but where a confession of guilt helps to minimize the sentence. During the witch trial era a show of contrition and remorse helped to make the execution a little swifter because it eliminated torture sessions prior to being executed.

Any country that enacts such laws on the pretext of protecting the ‘Holocaust' is perverting its legal system. The Austrians, Germans and Swiss have done it, but the Anglo-Common Law countries are resisting it vehemently because they can see that it could have a backlash on its own system of law, which guarantees basic individual rights.

But it must be remembered that all western democracies have that far more subtler mechanism of imprisonment for its people, namely the financial straight jacket. In today's world the only value that a person needs to develop is his credit worthiness, while such things as character are irrelevant. A person's credit rating supersedes all, until one begins to question the underpinning ideology of this financial system, which, among others, is upheld by the ‘Holocaust' ideology.





Excuse The American Left Mr. Gibbs
by Timothy V. Gatto

Robert Gibbs complaining about the left shouldn’t come as any big surprise. The Obama administration has ignored the left since its inception and will continue to do so. So Gibbs thinks we shouldn’t complain that he’s too centrist? What is that, double speak for waging war in faraway places? Is that a “centrist” thing to do? In this day and age I guess it is. Centrism among the politicians means far right to the real left.

How do I know what the left wants? I AM the left. I eat it, I drink it, I spend my days thinking about it. I recently joined the Democratic Socialists of America. I am a card carrying member of the American left. I don’t need Gibbs telling me that I’m pushing Obama too fast. I couldn’t be bothered.  Obama is just what the powers that be want him to be. He preached to the choir and the choir fell for it, this after he reneged on the FISA Bill and gave immunity to the telecoms after promising to filibuster the bill. He also said that he wouldn’t take money for his campaign from special interests. Do I have to tell you that Goldman Sachs was one of his biggest contributors? So when will the left get wise to Obama?

It’s already happening. This is precisely why Gibbs made the comments that he made. The publisher of a large website told me that after the election that “We were going to hold his feet to the fire”. I’m doing just that. Why are we in Afghanistan? Are we there to “help” the people of that country? When have we ever invaded another country to “help” them? How much have we “helped” the Iraqi people? The city of Fallujah had more radiation from DU weapons that the city of Hiroshima had directly after the atomic bomb hit them! This is how we “help” other nations.





US arms ‘bonanza’ in Middle East Israel and Saudis to buy advanced war planes
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
Two of the United States’ closest allies in the Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia, are on the brink of signing large arms deals with the US in a move designed to ratchet up the pressure on Iran, according to defence analysts.
America has agreed to sell Saudi Arabia 84 of the latest model of the F-15 jet and dozens of Black Hawk helicopters. The deal also includes refurbishing many of the kingdom’s older F-15s, the Wall Street Journal reported on Monday.
Israel is believed to have opposed the $30 billion deal. However, in a concession to Israel, the new F-15s, made by the Boeing Company, will not be equipped with the latest weapons and avionics systems available to the US military.
The last such major arms sale by the US to Saudi Arabia was in 1992, when the kingdom received 72 F-15s. On that occasion, Israel tried to block the $9bn deal by lobbying the US Congress, straining relations with the White House of George H W Bush.
Meanwhile, the US is preparing to provide Israel’s air force with the F-35, the latest jet fighter made by Lockheed Martin, the Israeli daily Haaretz reported last week.
The F-35’s stealth technology, which allows it to evade radar detection and anti-aircraft missiles, comes with a hefty price tag of up to $150 million a plane -- a cost that Israel had been balking at.
But, according to the reports, the US has offered Israeli firms defence contracts worth $4bn to supply parts for the F-35 -- a deal some Israeli analysts believe is designed to buy Israel’s silence over the Saudi deal and ensure it gets through the US Congress.
It is one of the largest such deals in Israel’s history and it would offset much of the cost to Israel of buying its first batch of F-35s.
The aircraft is not expected to enter service until 2014. If Israel signs up for a single squadron of 20 F-35s, as expected in the next few weeks, it would be the first country outside the US to secure the jet. Israel has been given an option to buy 55 more.
Last year Israel had threatened to abandon negotiations over the F-35 and opt instead to buy the advanced F-15. Saudi Arabia’s reported purchase of that jet appears to make such a scenario less likely.
The Obama administration has faced heavy lobbying from Israel to prevent the sale of the F-15s to Saudi Arabia.
“Today these planes are against Iran, tomorrow they might turn against us,” Haaretz quoted an unnamed security official as saying last month.
Ehud Barak, Israel’s defence minister, told the Washington Post last month that the US administration was committed to making sure Israel was not left in an “inferior situation” and was “doing a lot to support Israel’s qualitative military edge”.
The Saudis have become one of the largest purchasers of US-made arms since they bought the first AWACS surveillance planes in the 1980s. According to a recent Congressional report, the Gulf kingdom spent $36 billion world-wide on arms in the seven years to 2008.





America's Gulf: A Toxic Crime Scene
by Stephen Lendman

On August 4, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a Department of Commerce agency, reported that:

"The vast majority of the oil from the BP oil spill has either evaporated or been burned, skimmed, recovered from the wellhead or dispersed, much of which is in the process of being degraded....this is the direct result of the robust federal response efforts."

The same day at an AFL/CIO convention, Obama hailed the news, saying "the long battle to stop the leak and contain the oil is finally close to coming to an end."

False. From the start, the Obama administration conspired with BP, imposing censorship and cover-up, barring the public and news media from coming within 65 feet of clean-up of "booming operations, boom, or oil spill response operations under penalty of law" without Coast Guard-authorized permission.

The agency is a virtual BP arm, now retired Admiral Thad Allen its de facto representative as National Incident Commander, doing its bidding, suppressing the disaster's severity, including enforcing the FAA's mid-June announced no-fly zone, not needed if there was nothing to hide. There's plenty, why journalists and other violators faced up to five years in prison and a $40,000 fine for telling the truth, now mostly hidden, not gone.

On August 4, responding to NOAA, Kieran Suckling, executive director of Center for Biological Diversity said the following:

"The overly rosy tone of (NOAA's) report may leave the false impression that this crisis is somehow nearing an end. But much of the oil that the government refers to has simply been broken apart and remains in the ecosystem. It's like taking separated salad dressing and shaking up the bottle so the oil and vinegar mix. You may not be able to see (it), but it's there."

"That unseen oil, though, is what will foul the Gulf for years, (perhaps generations), eating away at the basic elements of the food chain that are the building blocks for fisheries, birds, sea turtles and mammal populations."

Louisiana State University (LSU) biological oceanographer Robert Carney says scientists are finding plenty of oil, under Louisiana islands, beneath Florida beaches, and in unseen ocean reaches.





GILAD ATZMON: Bravery and Morality in Israel
by Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon (Hebrew: גלעד עצמון‎, born June 9, 1963) is a jazz musician, author and anti-Zionist activist who was born in Israel and currently lives in London.
"Anti-Semite is an empty signifier, no one actually can be an Anti-Semite and this includes me of course. In short, you are either a racist - which I am not - or have an ideological disagreement with Zionism... which I have."
He was born a secular Israeli Jew in Tel Aviv, and trained at the Rubin Academy of Music in Jerusalem. His service in the Israeli military convinced him Israel had become a militarized state controlled by religious extremists. In 1994, Atzmon emigrated from Israel to London, where he studied philosophy. Atzmon is an anti-Zionist who critiques Jewish identity issues and supports the Palestinian Right of Return as well as the establishment of a single state in Israel/Palestine. He is a signatory to the "Palestinians are the Priority Petition" which states “full and unconditional support of the Palestinian people is a condition sine qua non for activists to adopt.
Update on the flotilla enquiry developments

Israel's Defense Force's Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi testified today before the Israeli  internal probe into Israel's deadly raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla. He defended the military from politicians' accusations that it botched the operation.

"The commandos exhibited calm, bravery and morality… Their actions were proportionate and correct", Ashkenazi told the inquiry.

Let’s, once again,  watch the video of Israeli soldiers executing a peace activist on the Mavi Marmara so we know what the words  "bravery, morality, proportionate and correct" stand for in the Jewish State's lexicon.


Ashkenazi said that the outcome of the May 31st raid, which left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead, “was impossible to predict.”

Ashkenazi is correct, it could as well have been twenty, one hundred or just six. When you unleash your top military commandos armed to their teeth against a peaceful  humanitarian aid mission it is indeed impossible to predict the exact scale of the massacre ahead.

"From the moment the operation began, it was clear that the circumstances were unprecedented." And yet, neither Chief of Staff Ashkenazi nor the Israeli government  called off the operation. They must have thought that a massacre in international waters would serve the Israeli cause.





The Pavlov Response and the Cordoba House
by Dan Lieberman

Reactions to the construction of Cordoba House reveal more than ingrained prejudice and hypocrisy; they reveal jealousy, incomprehensible attitudes of self-importance, condescension, and patronization, ignorance that emphasizes separation, and a possible conspiracy that can easily pass unnoticed.

It’s acceptable that Americans show sensitivity to what has become hallowed ground – the area of destruction from the greatest terrorist attack on United States soil - given the name of “ground zero.”  It’s natural that many Americans will question the construction of an Islamic Center that will stand close to the hallowed ground – natural but not correct.
Those who view the attack on the World Trade center as being a symbol in a struggle of ‘right vs. wrong’ should recognize that there is no absolute right or wrong; “ground zero” is a symbol of how the world too often goes wrong.
A century of western interference in Middle East nations, dominating their resources, delineating  their borders, deciding their rulers, destabilizing their political frameworks, waging dubious wars which have resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths, occupying their lands and generally creating havoc and misery don’t seem to have bothered western leaders. A conditioned mind reacts automatically, senseless, irrational and often to its own detriment.
Two city blocks north of ‘ground zero,” and two blocks south of the Warren street mosque, the Cordoba House, which contains a mosque, is mainly a mixture of learning, art and culture with a 500-seat auditorium, swimming pool, art exhibition spaces, and bookstores. The well publicized antagonism to the Cordoba House follows the Pavlov reaction, salivating at the sound before the food is delivered, but contains other inglorious activity.  
Odd that a mosque already exists two blocks from the proposed Cordoba House and has not aroused comment. Since mosques allow Muslim worshipers to find a place to genuflect rather having them lay a prayer rug on a NYC street and disturb the City’s financial district’s wall to curb pedestrian traffic, which is reported to sometimes occur outside an overflowed Warren Street mosque, another mosque  would be welcome. However, this building is more than a mosque. It’s a testimonial that Muslims swim, read, think and eat fast foods, just like all Americans.  Since another mosque already exists close to ‘ground zero,’ evidently it is Cordoba House’s added features that have aroused resentment. Perhaps it seems exaggerated, but there is a lingering feeling that the antagonism to the Cordoba House includes the ultimate of anti-Semitism; “We don’t want you Semites to be part of us. You are Semites and you will remain Semites.”





Welcome to Dante's Cafe - Pick Your Poison
by Stephen P. Pizzo

Today's Special

Fire-roasted Russian landscape with smoked Russians and blackened garnish.

(Your Choice!) Muddy-water marinated Pakistanis or Chinese, garnished with water chestnuts steamed in septic laced free-range water.

Soup of Poland: An Opaque favorite spiked with fresh floaters. followed by mud-pie topped with creme-de-misery

Foreclosure Succotash: Bank-baked foreclosure-succotash served with either deep-fried nervous systems or sad salad.

Half-baked Palin-patties: served cold over a bed of wilted locoweed.

(Popular!) Our famous Bankruptcy Burger: Made with meat bred, grown and nurtured on the lush money-green lawns of the District of Columbia!

Unemployment Toffee: Small helpings for the budget minded -- no nutritional value to speak of, but you'll be back for more!

Double-dip Sandwich -- You know it, because you've had it before. by unpopular demand, it's baaaacccck!

The 401K platter: (Sorry. Discontinued)

Afghanistan Quagmire Stew:  prepared daily with only meat and ingredients flown in FRESH Daily from US suppliers.

Tea Party Special: A new twist on an old favorite! Tea Partiers pay for and then serve meals to wealthy patrons and go home hungry but convinced they just had the best meal of their lives.

(NEW!) Virgin-Oil Marinated Shrimp: Gulf shrimp marinated in the freshest virgin oil on the planet. So tender no chewing required -- they slide effortlessly down -- and out again.
Deflation Souffle': First inflated then carelessly deflated, this souffle' costs less and less each day -- which is good news since you'll also be earning less and less with each passing day.

Climate Change Soup: (Formerly known as Espacho.) Brewed with 6000-year old water harvested from melting glaciers! Ice-cold when it leaves the kitchen, warm by the time it reaches your table. (Bowl of Glacier ice extra)
Grand Old Potpie: Crispy hot-air baked crust with nothing inside. For those wanting to appear they are ordering something nutritious without actually having to deal with the whole "actual ingredients" thing.

Arrogant Bastard Burgers: Thoroughly-crooked, served on pumpernickel dripping with special-interest secret sauce.
Giant Democrat Cotton Candy Treat: Sweet as hell this sticky treat appears larger and more substantial than it really is. Low in everything; fat, calories, content. Arrive hungry. Leave hungry. Ask for it by name!

The Obama Post-Partisan Omelet: (Allow at least 8-years for preparation.) This dish attempts to mix ingredients no sane cook would ever try to combine. Ingredients must be continuously be mixed and beaten even as the completed omelet is brought, piping hot, to your table. (Warning: Customer must continue beating and mixing as they try to consume this dish or the incompatible ingredients will separate and, as individual ingredients, they are generally considered disgusting.) So, Beat it and Eat it! Fun for the whole family!

Oh man! I started my adult life at Alice's Restaurant and ended up at Dante's Cafe. This is NOT an improvement.

Over and out,






Rachel Maddow Misses Journalistic Opportunity

by Joel S. Hirschhorn

On her August 9 show on MSNBC Rachel Maddow went for an easy attack on those seeking government reforms through constitutional amendments but also missed a big opportunity to inform and educate her audience and millions more Americans.

She ridiculed those, especially Republican candidates and congressmen, making a big point of using constitutional amendments as a way to build public support for themselves.  Her basic point was that amending the constitution is really, really hard.  It is so difficult that the public should not take this political rhetoric very seriously as a practical way to change law. 

It is certainly true that getting amendments proposed by Congress and then ratified by three-quarters of the states is a very difficult process, especially for amendments that would directly attack the many ways our government is made corrupt and dysfunctional.  Congress and the many special interests on the right and left want to preserve the current system that they have learned to manipulate so well.

Where Maddow went wrong and showed her intellectual and journalistic laziness was failing to inform her audience that the Constitution provides another path to obtaining constitutional amendments.  The Founders anticipated the day when the American public might lose trust and confidence in the federal government.  With only 11 percent of people having confidence in Congress that day has certainly arrived.  Included in Article V of the Constitution is the option of a convention of state delegates that would have the same constitutional power to propose amendments that would also have to be ratified by the states.

The only requirement for a convention is that two-thirds of the states ask for one.  What Maddow obviously does not know it that there have been over 700 state applications from all 50 states and that Congress has for a long time ignored them.  They can be examined on the website of Friends of the Article V Convention, the national, nonpartisan group working to get the first convention.  Known for her ability to articulate so well her rage about what ails the nation, Maddow missed a huge opportunity to point out that the rule of law has been abused by Congress because they fear constitutional amendments that would truly reform the government system.





Tomgram: Stephan Salisbury, Extremism at Ground Zero (Again)
by Tom Engelhardt

Hand it to Muslim terrorists, at least when it comes to truly long-term planning and the Fourteenth Amendment -- according to Texas Republican Congressman Louie Gohmert.  On the floor of the House of Representatives, he recently offered the following explanation for his desire to change that amendment, which makes anyone born in this country a U.S. citizen:

“I talked to a retired FBI agent who said that one of the things they were looking at were terrorist cells overseas who had figured out how to game our system.  And it appeared they would have young women, who became pregnant, would get them into the United States to have a baby.  They wouldn't even have to pay anything for the baby.  And then they would turn back where they could be raised and coddled as future terrorists.  And then one day, twenty... thirty years down the road, they can be sent in to help destroy our way of life.  'Cause they figured out how stupid we are being in this country to allow our enemies to game our system, hurt our economy, get setup in a position to destroy our way of life."

This may be mad, as well as a figment of Representative Gohmert’s feverish imagination.  It’s no joke, though, as Stephan Salisbury, author of Mohamed’s Ghosts: An American Story of Love and Fear in the Homeland, a rare reporter who has long been attending to what’s happening to Arab American communities in this country, indicates below.  The anger about the prospective “mosque at Ground Zero,” for instance, has caught the media eye, and in news reports has looked like a singularly strange “controversy” until last Sunday when the New York Times reported on several other examples, ranging from Tennessee to California, an indication of the sort of growing hysteria that two centuries ago here might have centered around imagined Catholic or Masonic plots. 

There’s no countering hysterias like this with reason or logic.  It doesn’t matter, for instance, that (as Justin Elliott pointed out recently in Salon.com) no “mosque” controversy ever developed around Pentagon prayer practices.  And yet Ramadan is celebrated in that building.  As the Washington Times reported in 2007, a Navy imam called to prayer 100 Department of Defense employees.  “Uniformed military personnel, civilians, and family members,” the Times' reporter wrote, "faced Mecca and knelt on adorned prayer rugs chanting their prayers in quiet invocation to Allah.” All this happened, and continues to happen, not two blocks from Ground Zero, but, as Elliott writes, “inside the building where 184 people died on Sept. 11, 2001.”  It seems, however, that right-wing reverence for the U.S. military still exceeds right-wing mania about Muslims, and so “our infiltrated military” stories have yet to develop.

The present hysteria remains part of a process launched by the Bush administration in 2001 and since promoted by a veritable Fear Inc. in this country, which has blown anxieties about Islamic terrorism staggeringly (and profitably) out of all proportion, while turning this country into a nation of cowards.  But beware what you launch: often, you have no idea where it will end up -- and in whose hands.  Tom

Mosque Mania 
Anti-Muslim Fears and the Far Right
By Stephan Salisbury

There is a distinct creepiness to the controversy now raging around a proposed Islamic cultural center in Lower Manhattan.  The angry “debate” over whether the building should exist has a kind of glitch-in-the-Matrix feel to it, leaving in its wake an aura of something-very-bad-about-to-happen.






Vanunu Speaks After 78 Days in Solitary
by Eileen Fleming

On August 8, 2010, Israel released Mordechai Vanunu from solitary confinement, but his torture continues, for Israel still denies Vanunu the right to leave the state.

This morning on my Youtube Channel, Vanunu left this message:

vanunuvmjc(2 hours ago)
Today August 8.2010.,i am free from israel 3 months prison,
I survived one more hard life in israel prison,in Isolation,in Humiliations.
May 12 th' " 3 judges of israel supreme court decided 3 months
prison,started May 23 rd' 2010.
The only thing I can say is, that 24 years to wait for my freedom is a long, long time for all the world, states.communities,to do for my freedom.

Vanunu then published his message to the world taped just prior to his solitary confinement which began May 23, 2010:


From Ashkelon Prison in 1987, Vanunu wrote:

"Any country, which manufactures and stocks nuclear weapons, is first of all endangering its own citizens. This is why the citizens must confront their government and warn it that it has no right to expose them to this danger. Because, in effect, the citizens are being held hostage by their own government, just as if they have been hijacked and deprived of their freedom and threatened"when governments develop nuclear weapons without the consent of their citizens - and this is true in most cases - they are violating the basic rights of their citizens, the basic right not to live under constant threat of annihilation. Is any government qualified and authorized to produce such weapons?"

In April 1999, thirty-six members of the House of Representatives signed a letter calling for Vanunu's release from prison because they believed "we have a duty to stand up for men and women like Mordechai Vanunu who dare to articulate a brighter vision for humanity."





The Charade Begins: Netanyahu's Flotilla Massacre Probe Testimony
by Stephen Lendman

On August 9, Israel's self-appointed Turkel Commission, its planned whitewash, began hearings into the Freedom Flotilla massacre, a humanitarian mission delivering essential aid to besieged Gazans, Israeli officials blaming the victims, not themselves.

After the incident, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said  organizers incited the attack. His deputy, Danny Ayalon, connected them to international terrorists, trying to smuggle in arms, bogusly claiming weapons were found on board the mother ship, the Mavi Marmara.

Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev accused the activists of "initiat(ing) the violence," insisting IDF commandos "were attacked with knives, clubs, and even live fire." Chief of Staff General Gabi Ashkenazi said soldiers were forced by violence to open fire.

He and other Israeli officials lied, clear evidence showing commandos attacked peaceful activists even before boarding, shooting others multiple times at point blank range, some in the head. Their well-planned mission was to interdict, attack, assassinate designated targets, seize the ship's cargo, take prisoners, brutalize them, then send them to an Israeli prison for interrogations.

Straightaway, damage control cover-up began, including appointment of the Turkel Commission, Israel's thinly veiled whitewash, hearings now underway - on day one, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu the first witness, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs publishing his full testimony. Let the charade begin.

Deceiving no one, he absolved his government and IDF commandos, saying they: 

"conducted themselves in accordance with international law....display(ing) a rare courage in fulfilling their mission and in defending themselves against a real threat to their lives. I have full confidence in our soldiers, and the State of Israel is proud of them. (My) appearance before this committee is the best evidence of the high standards by which Israel's democracy functions."

Democracy or hypocrisy? In Israel, as in America, for the privileged, not others; for Jews, not Arabs; why observers call Israel a failed state, a rogue one - reckless, lawless, and out-of-control, the Flotilla massacre one of many examples, murdering civilians in international waters, the Prime Minister condoning it, his above statement self-explanatory - words of a criminal, not a leader, asserting bald-faced lies, making false accusations, saying:

"Israel has always been different (from other Middle East states) - very different. Israel is a liberal, democratic country governed by the rule of law, with independent courts, a bona fide parliament, and a free press."





US - Venezuela: The Empire Strikes Back (and Loses)
by James Petras Ph.D.
US policy toward Venezuela has taken many tactical turns, but the objective has been the same:  to oust President Chavez, reverse the nationalization of big businesses, abolish the mass community and worker based councils and revert the country into a client-state.
Washington funded and politically backed a military coup in 2002, a bosses’ lockout in 2002-03, a referendum and numerous media, political and NGO efforts to undermine the regime.  Up to now all of the White House efforts have been a failure – Chavez has repeatedly won free elections, retained the loyalty of the military and the backing of the vast majority of the urban and rural poor, the bulk of the  working class and the public sector middle class.
Washington has not given up nor reconciled itself to coming to terms with the elected government of President Chavez.  Instead with each defeat of its internal collaborators, the White House has increasingly turned toward an ‘outsider’ strategy, building up a powerful ‘cordon militaire’,  surrounding Venezuela with a large-scale military presence spanning Central America, northern South America and the Caribbean.  The Obama White House backed a military coup in Honduras, ousting the democratically elected government of President Zelaya (in June 2009), a Chavez ally, and replacing it with a puppet regime supportive of Washington’s anti-Chavez military policies.  The Pentagon secured seven military bases in eastern Colombia (in 2009) facing the Venezuelan frontier, thanks to its client ruler, Alvaro Uribe, the notorious narco-paramilitary President.  In mid 2010 Washington secured an unprecedented agreement with the approval of right wing President Laura Chinchilla of Costa Rica, to station 7000 US combat troops, over 200 helicopters, and dozens of ships pointing toward Venezuela, under the pretext of pursuing narco-traffickers.  Currently the US is negotiating with the rightist regime of President Ricardo Martinelli of Panama, the possibility of re-establishing a military base in the former Canal Zone.  Together with the Fourth Fleet patrolling off shore, 20,000 troops in Haiti, and an airbase in Aruba, Washington has encircled Venezuela from the West and North, establishing jumping off positions for a direct intervention if the favorable internal circumstances arise.

The White House’s militarization of its policy toward Latin America, and Venezuela in particular, is part of its global policy of armed confrontation and interventions.  Most notably the Obama regime has widened the scope and extent of operations of clandestine death squads now operating in 70 countries on four continents, increased the US combat presence in Afghanistan by over 30,000 troops plus over 100,000 contract mercenaries operating cross border into Pakistan and Iran, and provided material and logistical assistance to Iranian armed terrorists.  Obama has escalated provocative military exercises off the coast of North Korea and in the China Sea, evoking protests from Beijing.  Equally revealing, the Obama regime has increased the military budget to over a trillion dollars, despite the economic crises, the monstrous deficit and the calls for austerity cuts in Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security.

In other words, Washington’s military posture toward Latin America and especially toward the democratic socialist government of President Chavez is part and parcel of a general military response to any country or movements which refuse to submit to US domination.  The question arises – why does the White House rely on the military option?  Why militarize foreign policy to gain favorable outcomes in the face of decided opposition? 
The answer, in part, is that the US has lost most of the economic leverage, which it previously exercised, to secure the ousting or submission of adversary governments.  Most Asian and Latin American economies have secured a degree of autonomy.  Others do not depend on US-influenced international financial organizations (the IMF, World Bank); they secure commercial loans.  Most have diversified their trading and investment partners and deepened regional ties.  In some countries, such as Brazil, Argentina, Chile and Peru, China has replaced the US as their principal trading partner. 
Most countries no longer look to US “aid” to stimulate growth, they seek joint ventures with multi-national corporations, frequently based outside of North America.  To the extent that economic arm twisting is no longer an effective tool to secure compliance, Washington has resorted more and more to the military option.  To the extent that the US financial elite have hollowed out the US industrial sector, Washington has been unable to rebuild its international economic levers.





Matt Simmons “Apparently” Drowned At His Home Sunday Night
by Katherine Smith Ph.D.

“The cap on the BP horizon well bore, which on July 15 stopped the crude for the first time since the April 20 explosion unleashed the spill is still holding and the media is reporting the public beach at Gulf Shores, Alabama, had its busiest day in weeks on Saturday [despite oil-stained sand and a dark line of tar balls left by high tide].”

Should we celebrate?

No, not while Matt Simmons is still in the picture.

Something is Wrong Here

A few days ago you couldn’t go to a Gulf Coast beach without getting arrested for a Class D felony and fined $40,000 but today you can go fishing on the pier beside the Grand Isle Bridge and throw a Frisbee on the beach.

We may never know the real story behind the blow out on April 20th that killed 11 people and created an environmental disaster for the U.S. Gulf Coast region. [1] However, it doesn’t matter because as long as Matt Simmons insists that “the only possible solution to capping the well is a small diameter low level nuclear device” we need to remain on guard (vigilant) to ensure that the BP oil spill doesn’t become "A radioactive oil spill."

Matthew R. Simmons Recent Titles

Prior to May of 2010 –Chairman of Simmons & Company International, the company he founded in 1974.

May 29 – Simmons, a “prominent energy expert” and investment banker known for predicting the oil price spike of 2008, tells Bloomberg News on Friday, sending a small nuclear bomb down the leaking well is "probably the only thing we can do" to stop the leak.

June 21 – Abruptly Retires as Chairman Emeritus of Simmons & Company
International [2]
July 18 - Founder of the Ocean Energy Institute

Matt the “expert” told Ian Masters on KPFK’s Daily Briefing and King World News July 16 that nuking the well is “totally safe” because he is attributing the idea to "all the best scientists" and that we should try it because the Russians did it five times.
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