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Sun

28

Nov

2010

Gilad Atzmon: 200 Israeli War Criminals Better Hope For Palestinian Amnesty
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.
A few days ago, British Chief of  Defence Staff General Sir David Richards admitted that victory in Afghanistan is unachievable.  "In conventional war,” said Richards, “defeat and victory is very clear cut and is symbolised by troops marching into another nation's capital."

It took a few years for British military elites to admit that the war in Afghanistan cannot lead anywhere : a valuable lesson to learn from mid to late 20th century warfare, is that conventional military might cannot easily defeat mass civilian resistance.

It is interesting to reflect too, that the Jewish state has exercised a ‘strategy’ of occupation for sixty two years -- and for some reason the penny has still failed to drop. The Israelis are still convinced that they can manage to knock down the resilient Palestinians using siege, indiscriminate  killing, carpet bombardment and chemical warfare.

The results are pretty obvious: and bearing in mind that Israel considers itself to be a ‘Jews only democracy’, then every Jewish Israeli is complicit in a colossal war crime against a civilian population. 

But it goes further: more and more Israeli soldiers of all ranks are directly involved in an endless list of crimes -- some stop pregnant women from receiving urgent medical attention , while others drop bombs on populated neighbourhoods. Some use children as human shields, while a few perform executions of peace activists. And others just feed the cannons with white phosphorus shells.
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

U.S. Taxpayers Help Create Seven Pakistani Billionaires - Pakistan Grabs U.S. Aid - Keeps Taxes Low for its Rich
by Matthew Nasuti
 
According to the Carnegie Endowment’s September 2010, policy brief, less than three million of Pakistan’s 175 million citizens pay any income taxes. Tax avoidance in Pakistan is almost a national sport. Those who do pay taxes do so at rates substantially lower than in the United States. As a result, Pakistan reportedly has at least seven billionaires and thousands of millionaires (the last count being 7,593). Despite this, the U.S. Government continues to shower Pakistan with military, economic and development aid. For fiscal year 2010, the U.S. Government has apparently given or promised Pakistan in excess of $5.5 billion. The total amount cannot be validated due to the different sources of the funds and the lack of transparency within the U.S. State Department and other agencies.

U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, who was replaced last month, did tepidly criticize the Pakistani tax structure during several speeches this year at Pakistan’s National Defense University; but to no avail. America’s new Ambassador, Cameron Munter, seeking to avoid further embarrassment to the U.S. Government, has publicly avoided the issue.

In the end, U.S. diplomacy was ineffective in prodding Pakistan into taxing its wealthy or its middle class. Pakistani diplomats outmaneuvered their American counterparts and were rewarded with another $5.5 billion in U.S. tax funds. Pakistan did not have to raise taxes or require that 98.3% of its population pay any taxes. As a result the Pakistani rich got richer.
The military consequences of the State Department’s lackluster efforts are significant. Without adequate revenue, Pakistan’s central government cannot hope to fund a credible counterinsurgency effort. At most, all it can continue to do is fund its massive military of 1.4 million troops and use that military to temporarily suppress some of its opponents. The unspoken secret within the U.S. Government is that Pakistan has an anti-terrorism strategy targeting domestic opponents, but no long-term counterinsurgency strategy.

The $5.5 billion provided this year will have been wasted unless it can be matched next year. In addition, the World Bank estimates damage from the current flooding, which began in late July, to be about $9.7 billion, while Voice of America reported on November 15, 2010, that Pakistani officials are claiming that it will take another $30 billion to reconstruct the nation’s infrastructure which was damaged by the disaster. Pakistan will almost certainly turn once again to the United States for these funds. Pakistan will continue to skillfully play the same terrorist fear card against the U.S. Government that the U.S. Government has successfully used for domestic purposes. Pakistan has no incentive to increase its own revenues as long as it can rely on the U.S. Government for limitless funding. Pakistan’s latest scheme, reported just yesterday, is for the United States and the West to waive Pakistan’s $50 billion debt so that it can “continue to combat terrorism.”

The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace concluded its report with the headline: “STOP THE BAILOUTS.” It wrote:

“Pakistan’s elite has no reason to support these (tax) reforms as long as these bailouts come with no conditions attached.”

The counterpoint comes from the Council on Foreign Relations. Its new November 2010, strategy report, drafted by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Richard L. Armitage and former Clinton National Security Advisor Sandy Berger, insists that Pakistan should be given even more aid, including a preferential trade deal on textiles. The authors write that:
“By demonstrating American generosity and assistance at a time of grave Pakistani peril, the United States will also make a better case for the strategic benefits of partnership.”
Pakistan may not ultimately prevail against its own Taliban and against al-Qaeda, but it succeeds quite well against amateur U.S. officials.
 
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Fairness and the Bristol Stomp
by Walter Brasch Ph.D.
 
Almost all children hear a set of conflicting statements from their parents, relatives, and friends. They're told if they study hard, if they work hard, they can achieve whatever they want. It's the "American Dream." But they're also told that life isn't always fair.

Looking for internships or jobs, America's children learn that no matter how much they studied or worked, it was the boss's niece or a boss's friend's son who was hired. Sometimes, the reason for rejection could be as simple as the boss thought the best candidate was intellectually superior or that the applicant had curly black hair and he liked only blondes.

Later, on another job, while the boss bought yet another vacation home, the worker was one of dozens laid off, their jobs going to Mexico, China, or Pakistan.

It's not fair that reality TV "stars" and pro athletes make 10 to more than 100 times the salaries of social workers and firefighters. But Americans seldom protest.

The owner of a mid-sized carpentry shop loses a contract to a large corporation, not because of a lack of quality work but because the corporation cut deals with suppliers. It's not fair; it's just reality.

One person driving 65 m.p.h. in a 55 m.p.h. zone is stopped by police; another, doing 80, speeds along. It's not fair. But it happens.

It probably wasn't fair that Bristol Palin, 20-year-old unwed mother with no discernible job skills, was selected over thousands of other celebrities for ABC-TV's "Dancing With the Stars." It had nothing to do with fairness or her ability; it had everything to do with a reality that Palin's presence on DWTS would bring in ratings, and ratings bring in advertising income. The first show brought in 21 million viewers who watched 30-second commercials from companies that paid almost $190,000 each, among the highest on all television—broadcast or cable.

To assure that Palin had a chance to stay on the show for at least a couple of weeks, the producers gave her a special advantage—her professional dance partner was Mark Ballas, DWTS champion twice in the previous 10 seasons.
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Vanunu and Pollard: Time for Compassion and Common Sense
by Eileen Fleming
Information Pollard sold a quarter of a century ago is old news now, as is everything Vanunu knew about Israel’s Dimona plant.

Jonathan Jay Pollard was born in 1954 in Texas and grew up in an affluent family in Indiana. Until 1998 Israel publicly denied that Pollard was an Israeli spy, although it granted him citizenship in 1995.

Last week the relentless campaign to release Pollard was reignited with a letter circulated by Rep. Barney Frank and signed by more than 30 Democratic members of the U.S House of Representatives calling on President Barack Obama to grant clemency to the confessed spy. This was topped off by Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu also requesting Obama release Pollard, who was arrested a quarter century ago on the steps of an Israeli embassy while spying for Israel.

The letter from congress was written in coordination with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, National Council of Young Israel, B'nai B'rith International, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, the Zionist Organization of America, Agudath Israel, and former presidential candidate Gary Bauer, who is a fundamentalist Christian Zionist. They wrote:

“It is indisputable in our view that the nearly twenty-five years that Mr. Pollard has served stands as a sufficient time from the standpoint of either punishment or deterrence. In summary, we see clemency for Mr. Pollard as an act of compassion justified by the way others have been treated by our justice system. We urge you to use the clemency power in this case.”

According to Ian Williams' article in the July/Aug. 1993 Washington Report “although Pollard insists he was motivated by concern for Israeli security, he was paid (and is still being paid) a handsome salary by the Israeli government. His Israeli handlers also provided gifts and trips to Europe for Pollard and his wife, Anne. The severity of Pollard's sentence was based on secret testimony by [then-Defense Secretary] Caspar Weinberger, who is on record as saying that Pollard was lucky--he should have received three life sentences. Pollard provided Israeli intelligence with more than 1,000 classified U.S. documents, some consisting of hundreds of pages, comprising overall some 360 cubic feet of paper.

"According to American investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, Pollard sold information on nuclear targets in the Soviet Union to Israel. U.S. defense sources suggest that what caused the most bitter anger against Pollard in the Pentagon and throughout the American intelligence community was the fact that the information compromised human agents in the Soviet Union and elsewhere. U.S. intelligence sources have concluded that the Israeli government bartered this information to the Soviet Union.” [1]

What ever information Pollard sold a quarter of a century ago is old news now, as is everything Vanunu knew about Israel’s Dimona plant where he worked the night shift as a lowly technician twenty-four years ago.

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."
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

The Case for Sharing: Rethinking the Global Economy
by Rajesh Makwana and Adam Parsons
The basic assumptions about human nature that inform economic and political decision-making are long outdated and fundamentally flawed. By acknowledging our interdependence and common ethical values, we can build a more sustainable, cooperative and inclusive global economy.

As the 21st Century unfolds, humanity is faced with a stark reality. Following the world stock market crash in 2008, people everywhere are questioning the unbridled greed, selfishness and competition that has driven the dominant economic model for decades. The old obsession with protecting national interests, the drive to maximise profits at all costs, and the materialistic pursuit of economic growth has failed to benefit the world’s poor and led to catastrophic consequences for planet earth.

The incidence of hunger is more widespread than ever before in human history, surpassing 1 billion people in 2009 despite the record harvests of food being reaped in recent years. At least 1.4 billion people live in extreme poverty, a number equivalent to more than four times the population of the United States. One out of every five people does not have access to clean drinking water. More than a billion people lack access to basic health care services, while over a billion people – the majority of them women – lack a basic education. Every week, more than 115,000 people move into a slum somewhere in Africa, Asia or Latin America. Every day, around 50,000 people die needlessly as a result of being denied the essentials of life.

In the face of these immense challenges, international aid has proven largely ineffective, inadequate, and incapable of enabling governments to secure the basic needs of all citizens. Developed countries were cutting back on foreign aid commitments even before the economic downturn, while the agreed aid target of 0.7 percent of rich countries’ GDP has never been met since it was first conceived 40 years ago. The Millennium Development Goals of merely halving the incidence of hunger and extreme poverty, even if reached by 2015, will still leave hundreds of millions of people in a state of undernourishment and deprivation. When several trillion dollars was rapidly summoned to bail out failed banks in late 2008, it became impossible to understand why the governments of rich nations could not afford a fraction of this sum to ‘bail out’ the world’s poor.

The enduring gap between rich and poor, both within and between countries, is a crisis that lies at the heart of our political and economic problems. For decades, 20 percent of the world population have controlled 80 percent of the economy and resources. By 2008, more than half of the world’s assets were owned by the richest 2 percent of adults, while the bottom half of the world adult population owned only 1 percent of wealth. The vast discrepancies in living standards between the Global North and South, which provides no basis for a stable and secure future, can only be redressed through a more equitable distribution of resources at the international level. This will require more inclusive structures of global governance and a new economic framework that goes far beyond existing development efforts to reduce poverty, decrease poor country debt and provide overseas aid.

In both the richest and poorest nations, commercialisation has infiltrated every aspect of life and compromised spiritual, ethical and moral values. The globalised consumer culture holds no higher aspiration than the accumulation of material wealth, even though studies have shown that rising income fails to significantly increase an individual’s well-being once a minimum standard of living is secured. The organisation of society as a competitive struggle for social position through wealth and acquisition has led to rampant individualism and the consequences of crime, disaffection and the disintegration of family and community ties. Yet governments continue to measure success in terms of economic growth, pursuing ever-greater levels of GDP – regardless of the harmful social consequences of a consumption-driven economy.
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

More Than a Bribe: Obama Surrenders Palestinian Rights
by Ramzy Baroud

The Middle East policies of US President Barack Obama may well prove the most detrimental in history so far, surpassing even the rightwing policies of President George W. Bush. Even those who warned against the overt optimism which accompanied Obama’s arrival to the White House must now be stunned to see how low the US president will go to appease Israel – all under the dangerous logic of needing to keep the peace process moving forward.

Former Middle East peace diplomat Aaron David Miller argued in Foreign Policy that “any advance in the excruciatingly painful world of Arab-Israeli negotiations is significant.” He further claimed: “The Obama administration deserves much credit for keeping the Israelis, Palestinians, and key Arab states on board during some very tough times. The U.S. president has seized on this issue and isn't giving up -- a central requirement for success.”

But at what price, Mr. Miller? And wouldn’t you agree that one party’s success can also mean another’s utter and miserable failure?

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton reportedly spent eight hours with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu only to persuade him to accept one of the most generous bribes ever bestowed by the United States on any foreign power. The agreement includes the sale of $3 billion worth of US military aircrafts (in addition to the billions in annual aid packages), a blanket veto of any UN Security Council resolution deemed unfavorable to Israel, and the removal of East Jerusalem from any settlement freeze equation (thus condoning the illegal occupation of the city and the undergoing ethnic cleansing). But even more dangerous than all of these is “a written American promise that this will be the last time President Obama asks the Israelis to halt settlement construction through official channels.”

Significant. Achievement. Success. Are these really the right terms to describe the latest harrowing scandal? Even the term ‘bribe’, which is abundantly used to describe American generosity, isn’t quite adequate here. Bribes have defined the relationship between the ever-generous White House and the quisling Congress to win favor with the ever-demanding Israel and its growingly belligerent Washington lobby. It is not the concept of bribery that should shock us, but the magnitude of the bribe, and the fact that it is presented by a man who positioned himself as a peacemaker (and actually became certified as one, courtesy of the Nobel Peace Prize Committee).
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Enhanced Airport Screening Controvery
by Stephen Lendman

On November 23, Washington Post writers Jon Cohen and Ashley Halsey III headlined, "Poll: Nearly two-thirds of Americans support full-body scanners," according to a Washington Post/ABC News poll, even though "half of those polled say enhanced pat-down searches go too far."

A new Zogby (11/19 - 22) poll disagreed, saying:

At 61% opposed, "(i)t's clear (most) Americans are not happy with TSA and their enhanced security measures recently enacted. The airlines should not be happy with 48% of their frequent fliers seeking a different mode of transportation due to these enhancements." 

Neither should passengers facing molestation and harm to their health. More on that below.

Calling enhanced screening a "virtual strip search," the ACLU also objected, saying:

"We need to act wisely. That means not trading away our privacy for ineffective (and overly intrusive) policies. Ultimately, it is up to the American people to figure out just how much privacy they want to abandon....The ACLU represents those who value privacy in this debate."

AP reported it already received over 600 complaints, passengers saying "they were subjected to humiliating pat-downs at US airports, and the pace is accelerating, according to ACLU legislative counsel Christopher Calabrese." 

He added: "It really drives home how invasive it is and (harassing) they are....All of us have a right to travel without such crude invasions of our privacy....You shouldn't have to check your rights when you check your luggage."

Public outrage also makes headlines, passengers complaining about intrusive screening, especially being groped. The more often they fly and endure it, the louder perhaps disapproval will grow, especially for techniques some critics call ineffective.

Reports also call them heavy-handed. A Michigan bladder cancer survivor, wearing a body bag to collect urine, said its contents spilled on his clothing after a Detroit airport security agent patted him down aggressively. He called the experience "absolutely humiliat(ing). I couldn't even speak." Other accounts are also unsettling, and for what!
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

ISAF’s New Counterinsurgency Contracting Guidance - A Farce
by Matthew Nasuti
After nine years and billions wasted - nothing changes
On September 8, 2010, after nine years of contracting abuses and mismanagement, NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF) issued its solution, which is set out in the “COMISAF Counterinsurgency Contracting Guidance.” This impressive title overshadows the actual text of the guidelines, which say little and fail to address any of the core contracting problems.  The Guidance stresses the importance of transparency, yet this is simply window dressing to appease critics in the U.S. Congress.
 
Today, months after the Guidance was adopted, it remains impossible to search the ISAF website for contracting information. There is no listing of ISAF contractors; no listing of contracts awarded; no spreadsheets on projects that are behind schedule or over budget; no explanation at all about any public funds being spent.  The Guidance fails to address such things as the award of $850 million per year to a shadowy company called FMN Logistics.
 
It is apparently a component of ISAF’s “Northern Distribution Network.” Reports indicate that FMN may be owned by 37-year old billionaire Gulnara Karimova; daughter of brutal Uzbek dictator Islam Karimov. If ISAF truly wants to inject transparency, honesty and accountability into its contracting process, it should start by explaining the FMN contract and it should publish the complete contract on its web site. It should do the same with the suspicious Manas Airbase fuels contracts which were awarded to a Gibraltar-registered company.

One of the fundamental problems associated with ISAF contracting in Afghanistan is the tremendous pressure to show “progress.” Progress seems to be defined as anything positive that can be placed in a press release, regardless of its actual military or economic value. That pressure to show results permeates downward into the military ranks.

This reporter has been in contact with military members who served in Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) in Afghanistan. The story that comes out is that PRTs are hiring contractors and pursuing projects even though they do not have sufficient qualified personnel to oversee the contracts. As will be explained below, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in Afghanistan has the same systemic problem. In the U.S. military, officers are rewarded for having a “can-do” spirit.
 
That spirit can be harmful to military effectiveness. ISAF military contracting officers should be delaying awards and reducing the number of projects on-going because they lack sufficient engineers, project managers and inspectors. Instead, because no one wants to admit that they are unable to complete their mission, contracts continue to be awarded which cannot be supervised, and substantial amounts of money continue to be wasted on shoddy construction, all for the sake of generating “positive” statistics and showing “progress.”

Small, inexperienced Afghan contractors, who are not familiar with U.S. building designs and specifications, require constant oversight. This may require U.S. inspectors to be on-site at least every week, but for critical path (i.e., key construction) events, they may need to be present every day. At present, this level of oversight is not taking place; instead, ISAF’s emphasis is quantity over quality.

On November 14, 2010, Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy Newspapers reported on a 2008, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers project to build six police stations in Badakhshan Province, Afghanistan. The project is two years behind schedule with substantial amounts of U.S. taxpayer funds wasted. Colonel Thomas H. Magness, the head of Corps of Engineers projects for Afghan Engineer District North, told Mr. Nissenbaum that his personnel had only inspected the project once in October 2009.
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

The Perfect Division of Pakistani Society
by Peter Chamberlin

“When asked what he aspires to become in the future, Wasifullah replies ‘God willing, I will join the Taliban.’

In what some ways represents the burgeoning civil war within Pakistan, Wasifullah’s best friend Abdurrahman believes it’s the Taliban who are responsible for the destruction.”

This quote, from two boys from the Kachegori IDP (internally displaced persons) Camp in Peshawar reveals perfectly the awesome split, running down the middle of Pakistani society, much more clearly than any attempted explanation that could be given. The Pakistani people are of two minds, both of them extremely patriotic, one school of thought blames the local terrorists for all their grief, the other side insists that it is the military which has killed their loved ones. Outside forces, which are hostile to Pakistan’s survival, have every intention of aggravating those divisions to the point of civil war.

The Christian Bible has a teaching: “A house divided against itself shall not stand.” This is the reality that the people of Pakistan today; in order to avoid the bottomless pit of civil war they must find ways to work through those differences of opinion.

The greatest threat to Pakistan’s survival is not the Taliban, or the Americans, or even those sneaky Indians—the most deadly force you face is your willingness to see everything in black and white. In an environment where so many people seem so certain about the source of their common misery, even though half of the country disagrees with them, there is no such thing as “benefit of the doubt.” You are right and the other guy is absolutely wrong. Something has to give—there has to be room for another possible explanation to be discussed. Until then, you face grave danger from certain dark quarters. Someone has to tear-down the barricades which divide the two camps.

From our experience in our own Civil War, Americans can tell you the truth about the power of differences of opinions, differences so great, that one side feels compelled to take-up arms to force submission from the other side over the primary issues, while the other side is eager to do the same. Soon, you too, will hear the tanks and jackboots marching through your streets, pretending that they are defending your free Republic from subversion. Americans will soon hear the same sounds in our own streets, as the avoidable issue of martial law becomes an inevitable consequence of our reactionary avoidance of the dark forces rising amongst us.
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

AIM Women: Infiltration and Stalking by US Agents

by Brenda Norrell
 
Women in the American Indian Movement shared stories of lives lived with great courage, as federal agents stalked them and attempted to intimidate them, during the AIM International Conference this week.

The AIM Women’s Leadership panel brought together five AIM women to share their life stories. Anne Begay, Navajo, was among them. Begay is the mother of Kathy Peltier, the daughter of Leonard Peltier.

Begay spoke of her Dine’ family, a medicine family of men and women medicine people, who provided her with a childhood of structure, rich with history and culture.

After returning from the Longest Walk in 1978, Begay took her daughter Kathy to the park one day. Her daughter was about two years old at the time.
“This gentleman sat down next to me, with shiny shoes.”
He began to question her.
“Who’s her father?” “None of your business,” Begay told him. He persisted with his questions and referred to the murder of Anna Mae Aquash.
He said, “Well, we know who you are. And if you’re smart, you’ll know what we did to Anna Mae can happen to your daughter too.”

“So, for all those years, it has been terrifying,“ Begay said, “to know that they can do that to my daughter.”
Speaking on the panel, Yvonne Swan, Colville from Washington State, spoke of being under government surveillance in the 1970s, because Leonard Peltier was her friend, and Bill Kunstler was her lawyer.

Swan spoke of learning to become aware of the men “with shiny shoes,” and men in suits, parked in unmarked cars. She trained her children to watch for these men, and once her son was grabbed by one of them, but was able to get away.

During her fight against corporate mining, she also watched for those federal agents that stalked members of the American Indian Movement.
“The government is merely a screen for the rich corporations,” Swan said. “They have the money to buy people off, they have the money to send people in to disrupt.

“But don’t ever underestimate the power of the people.”
 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Navajo Jean Whitehorse: Boarding schools, relocation and sterilization

by Brenda  Norrell
 
Jean Whitehorse, Navajo, endured the US government’s boarding schools, relocation and sterilization. Today, she says the BIA unwittingly gave her the best education that money could buy; not by giving her job training in the San Francisco area, but by placing her near the Occupation of Alcatraz.

At the age of 19, it was the right time and the right place for Whitehorse to learn who she was as an American Indian.

Speaking at the 42nd Anniversary of the American Indian Movement, during the weeklong conference, Whitehorse described her own journey, beginning with the exile of her people, the Navajo or Dine’.

Whitehorse said when Navajos were forced on the Longest Walk, they were removed from their homeland for four years. The government returned Navajos to only ten percent of their land, and only did so because the government felt the land was worthless. Later, oil, gas, uranium and coal were discovered on Navajoland.

Whitehorse, from the Eastern Agency of New Mexico on the Navajo Nation, said she grew up with abuse in boarding schools. The “Board of Education was the ruler. It was to punish you. My whole boarding school experience was all about abuse.”

She said in those days, parents were not able to defend their children. “Back then, our mothers and fathers weren’t there to talk for us. They weren’t there to protect us.”

Next came relocation. Whitehorse was sent to the Bay area to learn a vocation, then was pressured to stay and work. During this time, she went to Alcatraz, two months after the initial takeover in 1969. This came at the time of Black Panthers and protests of the Vietnam War.

San Francisco offered an education.

“I had to learn to survive.” From the very beginning, she wanted to go home, she did not know where she was. However, she was told that she was to learn a vocational skill. When she persisted to go home, she was told the BIA would get her a job.

“The longer I stayed here — they kept me here — I learned about myself, what it means to be an American Indian.”

 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Technology and Money Have Dragged Modern Culture to Cliff of Extinction
by Jan Lundberg
 
Food, Water and War

Many who see the main title of this essay may readily turn off to the concept conveyed. The idea appears negative, never mind the need for the public to consider more deeply certain issues. Other readers of the title may see it as good tidings, for the making of an omelette requires breaking some eggs -- providing the extinction referred to is of modern culture and not of such a reader.

Editors identifying with the sustainability movement, along with many environmentalists eyeing socioeconomic change, strive to portray positive trends & news. Coincidentally the corporate media eschew "gloomy" analysis, so a freelancer learns to offer only upbeat articles. Still another kind of prospective reader or editor is only interested in "throwing the rascals out" and clamoring for more social justice, pointing the finger at bad guys or policies that spoil an otherwise workable and admirable system.

For the consensus we need on social change, as we address unprecedented threats to life, there must be a discussion of underlying issues rather than of only events. We need to distinguish between where things are headed and where we are trying to go. We need to examine openly what stands in the way of the latter.

Feel-good articles, such as the hypothetical "Bicyclists Finding More Vacation Options," cannot be anyone's steady diet for long. Some try admirably, in an effort to avoid system collapse by avoiding discussion of it. In the bargain they hope to preclude all-out fascism. Emphasizing positive messages often accompanies imagining that the post-peak oil reality will conform to a convenient down-slope. In the long run this is a self-nonfulfilling prophesy. Reality does bite, but not as badly if it is faced along with adopting a most humble approach to living on a small planet.

It is harder and harder to doubt that technology and money have taken over modern lives in a detrimental way. This has happened separately and in tandem, to wit (1) technological change and dependence and (2) financial and abstract valuation of major aspects of daily life.

Many reject such a position, content to play the game of competition, acquire more possessions, and reap rewards of short-term gratification. They see their course as their right, associated with patriotism, religious living, and the only way people (the lucky or virtuous ones) can live. Western Civilization supports this worldview, as do institutions known as Hollywood and Madison Avenue.

But don't all these concerns disappear when the New York Times says "There Will Be Fuel" (Nov. 16, 2010)? The article attempts to soothe consumers and investors with "the nation has gas reserves for 100-plus years." This statement and the mention of some oil discoveries are meant to let the proponents of endless growth confidently bid adieu peak oil.

There are several problems with the rosy scenario, whereby Arctic petroleum extraction and trade are supposed to make up for the polar bears driven to extinction:

The fracking of shale gas is a poisonous enterprise that does not yield oil, the prize among fossil fuels needed for the oil-based national infrastructure. Peak oil is a liquid fuels crisis, as will be petrocollapse.

Oil discoveries increasingly lag behind the accelerating rate of depletion. Biofuels remain a dream for massive application, but only that.

Economic collapse also relates to past and present financial malfeasance. Even if this were not about gross theft and inequality, the astronomical debt and deficits cannot be fixed without the crippling austerity measures barely begun. Economic collapse flows also from the nonstop unraveling of the social fabric.

There's no economy without ecology (ecos translates to household or home).

 

Sun

28

Nov

2010

Truth About Global Economic Crisis: Book Review by Joel S. Hirschhorn
by Joel S. Hirschhorn
 
You want to read The Global Economic Crisis The Great Depression of the XXI Century, edited by Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, if you meet these criteria: you welcome information and analysis about critically important issues that come from great thinkers outside the mainstream media and publishing world; you can handle brain pain from detailed and brutally honest revelations; you are willing and able to challenge your own biases and preconceptions to let in new explanations of how the world really functions.

If millions of Americans read this book, we would probably see a far stronger uprising against the political establishment that has refused to severely punish the countless guilty people in the financial, banking and mortgage sectors that brought down the US and global economic system.

This book ties together a large number of factors in twenty chapters that reveal just how corrupt the world has become because of the power of plutocratic, wealthy and corporate interests.  From Wall Street corporate boardrooms to the Federal Reserve and other central banks to the US military and NATO, a multitude of threads get woven into a disturbing tapestry of crimes against society that still have not been prosecuted.

This book is truly an instrument of anti-brainwashing.  If you are willing to spend serious time reading it, then you surely will become much angrier about the dismal state of the economy that is causing so much pain and suffering to ordinary people worldwide.  If you personally have escaped the worst ravages of the economic meltdown, then you will have much more compassion for those severely affected.
 

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28

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2010

Can Israel defeat Hezbollah in the coming war?
by Franklin Lamb Ph.D. in Beirut
Part II  “Know thyself”  Tsu Sun and Hassan Nasrallah

According to the Lebanese military, at 11 am and again at 1 p.m.  on 1l/24/10, a total of six Israeli warplanes crossed into Lebanese airspace, and violated for the 8256th time UNSC resolution 1701 that ended Israel’s 5th war against Lebanon, on August 14, 2006. Nearly, daily, and sometimes several times daily, warplanes and/or reconnaissance aircraft invade the skies over Lebanon to frighten, attempt to intimidate, and pressure the Lebanese population. They also to try to keep tabs on Lebanon’s resistance, led by Hezbollah.

As every Resistance defender  is aware, if a twice daily high flyover by a US supplied specially programmed satellite imaging camera detects a stone the size of golf ball out of place, since the previous photo, anywhere in an area thought to be visited by Hezbollah forces,  the photos are closely examined by Israel and American analysts. The moving of a stone or a tree branch or significantly more or fewer goats appearing in a herd, meandering, for example, in  Lebanon’s “nature preserves” is carefully analyzed. The reason, and perhaps encapsulating Israel’s increasing likelihood, according to UNIFIL and US sources,  of failing in its next war against Lebanon, is that Israel has never even been able to figure out  what became of the hundreds of tons of chipped rock and soil removed during the construction of hundreds of suspected deep Hezbollah bunkers, impenetrable to every weapon but nuclear.  Some bunkers are almost literally under the noses of where suspected  Israeli agents live or where UNIFIL forces patrol daily. “ Do they remove the debris by teaspoons full?”  a UNIFIL official wondered recently.

Also unsettling to the Israeli military and reportedly censored from viewing by Israeli forces  are a collection of Hezbollah training videos thought to have been photographed by US  high altitude  cameras. IDF psychologists reportedly have advised the Israeli Cabinet that seeing the Hezbollah videos may further erode Israeli forces confidence if they are ordered  again into Lebanon.

One such video shows the following:  A line of Hezbollah fighters on mountain bikes in a steep ravine south of the Litani river riding at high rates of speed. The rider must flip the bike  up onto only the back wheel so the soldier’s body is facing the sky and his back flat parallel with and about two feet off  the ground. The examinee must travel at close to 90 mph  holding a RPG in either hand, and a cell phone in the other waiting firing instructions from a subterranean command center. The fighter must then fire the rocket thru a swinging small tire approximately 120 meters away on a tree branch.  Achieving fewer than 11 bulls eyes out of 12 requires the arduous physical test repeated.  A commander in UNIFIl, who claims to be familiar with this particular Hezbollah training exercise commented that none of the UNIFIL soldiers from the 28 countries could even do the exercise, much less get one RPG through such a swinging tire.  “ I would doubt very much if any Israeli could do it either. Hezbollah fighters are probably the world’s best. I have never studied the Chinese up close but I’ve seen a whole lot of the others.”

It is these kinds of skills that Hezbollah fighters used to force repeated errors by Israeli forces during the July 2006 war, and although not widely reported, during its 18 years of occupation of Lebanon (1982-2000). Errors, that the Israeli Winograd commission called “ the worst kind of mistakes and failures of the ground forces.” Among the examples  still discussed in Dahiyeh,  and presumably in Tel Aviv and Washington, include  the Hezbollah forces routing of the Israeli  “elite” Golani, Egoz and Magland Brigades at Maron al Ras on the Lebanese-Palestine border between July 25-30, 2006.  Another was the Battle of Bint Jbeil which Dan Halutz  called Israel’s planned “Web of Steel’ which was expected to take less than 48 hours to defeat Hezbollah forces starting on July 24.  But by July 30,  the much battered  Golani forces withdrew and the Israeli air force renewed indiscriminate aerial bombardment.  Down the road from Bint Jbeil, at Aita al-Shaab, Israel lost 26 soldiers and more than 100 severely injured without gaining an inch of territory. Shortly before Israel agreed to a ceasefire,  its forces experienced the catastrophe at Wadi Slouqi, a ravine through which  a column of Israeli tanks were sent to link up with airlifted troops at Ghandouriyah village.  The Israeli plan, read by Hezbollah forces from the onset, was to move toward Tyre and head north.  “They (Hezbollah forces) jumped up out of the ground all around us” one Israeli at the scene testified later. Hezbollah hit more than a dozen tanks, quickly killing 17 Israelis and wounding more than fifty. It became known in Israeli military  circles as “the Black Sabbath, the goddamned Sabbath”, as one Israeli war room officer commented.
 

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28

Nov

2010

Oscar Lopez Rivera: Imprisoned for Supporting Puerto Rican Independence
by Stephen Lendman
 
After the 1898 Spanish-American War, the US took over the Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Hawaii, Cuba, Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Canal Zone, assorted other territories, and Puerto Rico. On September 29, its Governor-General, Manuel Macias y Casado (a Spanish general), ceded control to Washington, its current status today as a colony.

In 1966, then University of Puerto Rico economics associate, Dr. Antonio J. Gonzales said:

"The Puerto Rican Independence Party bases its struggle in favor of the independence of Puerto Rico on the conviction that we continue to be a (US) colony, thus being denied (our) right to freedom and sovereignty."

After taking over in 1898, America "never granted Puerto Ricans the total control of their lives and destiny. Sovereign powers have never been transferred to us in order to be able to decide in all those areas that affect the collective life of our nation."

For over 112 years, America's had total control, Puerto Ricans virtually none, forced to "accept the dispositions of laws imposed" by a colonial power. In its relationship with America, Puerto Rico is called "Estado Libre Asociado" (Free Associated State or Commonwealth). Under international law, it's a colony, seeking independence. Therein lies the roots of its struggle, Oscar Lopez Rivera imprisoned for supporting it.

A collective 1981 statement by Puerto Rican Independentistas, convicted of "seditious conspiracy," said the following:

"Our position remains clear: Puerto Rico is a nation intervened, militarily conquered and colonized by the United States....We are prisoners of war captured by the enemy. Our actions have always been and continue to be in the nature of fighting a war of independence, a war of national liberation....The US interventionist government has absolutely no right, no say so whatsoever in regards to Puerto Rico, ourselves, or any Puerto Rican prisoner of war. The US interventionist government has only one choice....and that is to GET OUT! It is our right to regain and secure our national sovereignty. Nothing will stand in the way of achieving our goal."
 

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28

Nov

2010

Biomass invades, threatens Southern Indiana

by Linda Greene

The biomass-combustion industry has southern Indiana under seige. The corporations are attempting to site biomass electricity-generating plants in Crawford, Scott, Dubois and Gibson/Pike counties. Those companies apparently don’t expect opposition from the residents of small towns in rural southern Indiana.

The industry touts biomass burning as a “green” technology; it’s anything but. Biomass plants are more polluting per unit of energy generated than coal-burning plants, which are the No. 1 cause of global warming. A 32-megawatt biomass plant uses 500,000–700,000 gallons of fresh water every day and regurgitates some 350,000 gallons of pollution-tainted waste water into the local river or lake.

It’s a factory for manufacturing dioxins, the most carcinogenic synthetic chemical known. The list of biomass’s hazards in relation to the land, water and air goes on and on.

Scott County

Liberty Green Renewables LLC (LGR) has been looking for sites that are heavily forested because it wants to use wood as fuel. It’s proposed a $100 million, 32-megawatt biomass plant for Scott County (population 23,000), near Scottsburg (pop. 5,900), the county seat.
"It’s very heroic what communities do to protect themselves, their children, protecting the public health, for future generations." - Pat Berna, Concerned Citizens of Scott County
One morning in July 2009, when she was reading the newspaper, Pat Berna, a retired registered nurse and Scottsburg resident, spotted a notice of a public hearing by the Scott County Area Plan Commission on a proposed biomass combustor.

Berna was alarmed. She had had experience with another polluting facility that tried to establish itself in Scott County in 1989. The company, Recontek, wanted to site a hazardous-waste recycling business there. Scott County citizens’ research left them firmly believing that Recontek had no place in their community.

They discovered that the company used cyanide to strip off silver from old film negatives in its plant in Elk Grove Village, Ill., and exposed its employees, mostly undocumented immigrants, to cyanide. One of them died of cyanide poisoning.
 
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