27 December 2006

The Washington Times Organ of Propaganda

By Robert Parry (A Special Report)
December 27, 2006
The American Right achieved its political dominance in Washington over the past quarter century with the help of more than $3 billion spent by Korean cult leader Sun Myung Moon on a daily propaganda organ, the Washington Times, according to a 21-year veteran of the newspaper.

George Archibald, who describes himself “as the first reporter hired at the Washington Times outside the founding group” and author of a commemorative book on the Times’ first two decades, has now joined a long line of disillusioned conservative writers who departed and warned the public about extremism within the newspaper.

In an Internet essay on recent turmoil inside the Times, Archibald also confirmed claims by some former Moon insiders that the cult leader has continued to pour in $100 million a year or more to keep the newspaper afloat. Archibald put the price tag for the newspaper’s first 24 years at “more than $3 billion of cash.”

At the newspaper’s tenth anniversary, Moon announced that he had spent $1 billion on the Times – or $100 million a year – but newspaper officials and some Moon followers have since tried to low-ball Moon’s subsidies in public comments by claiming they had declined to about $35 million a year.

The figure from Archibald and other defectors from Moon’s operation is about three times higher than the $35 million annual figure.
Washington Times articles are routinely cited by C-SPAN, for instance, without explanations to viewers that the newspaper is financed by an ultra-right religious cult leader, a convicted tax fraud and a publicly identified money-launderer. Most American listeners just think they’re getting straightforward news.
Arguably one of the measures of the Washington Times’ success was how the major U.S. news organizations increasingly seemed to march to the same drummer, even when not under direct pressure to do so.

Over the past half dozen years, it has often been hard to distinguish between the fawning coverage of George W. Bush from the Washington Times and from the Washington Post. Both major Washington dailies bought into Bush’s false claims about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction with almost no skepticism.
link to original

This muckraking reveals an important betrayal of the journalistic medium. Journalism relies on principles of ethics to function properly. Here we have an example, S. M. Moon and the Washington Times, of a fundamental breakdown in the system of journalism.

Bill Moyers recently asked how America could so readily and rapidly fall into the senseless abyss of the extreme right wing agenda. Here, Robert Parry has prepared an essay to (at the least partially) answer that question.

23 December 2006

Islands Disappearing

Go to Original
Disappearing world: Global warming claims tropical island
For the first time, an inhabited island has disappeared beneath rising seas.
Environment Editor Geoffrey Lean reports
Published: 24 December 2006

Rising seas, caused by global warming, have for the first time washed an inhabited island off the face of the Earth. The obliteration of Lohachara island, in India's part of the Sundarbans where the Ganges and the Brahmaputra rivers empty into the Bay of Bengal, marks the moment when one of the most apocalyptic predictions of environmentalists and climate scientists has started coming true.

As the seas continue to swell, they will swallow whole island nations, from the Maldives to the Marshall Islands, inundate vast areas of countries from Bangladesh to Egypt, and submerge parts of scores of coastal cities.

Eight years ago, as exclusively reported in The Independent on Sunday, the first uninhabited islands - in the Pacific atoll nation of Kiribati - vanished beneath the waves. The people of low-lying islands in Vanuatu, also in the Pacific, have been evacuated as a precaution, but the land still juts above the sea. The disappearance of Lohachara, once home to 10,000 people, is unprecedented.

It has been officially recorded in a six-year study of the Sunderbans by researchers at Calcutta's Jadavpur University. So remote is the island that the researchers first learned of its submergence, and that of an uninhabited neighbouring island, Suparibhanga, when they saw they had vanished from satellite pictures.

Two-thirds of nearby populated island Ghoramara has also been permanently inundated. Dr Sugata Hazra, director of the university's School of Oceanographic Studies, says "it is only a matter of some years" before it is swallowed up too. Dr Hazra says there are now a dozen "vanishing islands" in India's part of the delta. The area's 400 tigers are also in danger.

Until now the Carteret Islands off Papua New Guinea were expected to be the first populated ones to disappear, in about eight years' time, but Lohachara has beaten them to the dubious distinction.

Human cost of global warming: Rising seas will soon make 70,000 people homeless

Refugees from the vanished Lohachara island and the disappearing Ghoramara island have fled to Sagar, but this island has already lost 7,500 acres of land to the sea. In all, a dozen islands, home to 70,000 people, are in danger of being submerged by the rising seas.
It makes sense to take immediate and necessary steps to reduce our impact on climate change. Especially those of us living in highly developed and wealthy societies, such as in the West, where such changes are imminently feasible.


I may have posted this image before, but I want to put it up again. December is the darkest month of the year. I think I am feeling some SAD. This photo helps me to remember the light of summer. It helps rekindle the feeling of goodness that comes with light.

The photo was taken in Olympia Washington's Priest Point Park, June 2005.

I hope that you can derive some benefit from it. Healing light:

22 December 2006

Attack on Iran: Inevitable?

Several articles have been published recently in regard to the potential for military action against Iran. I received a letter from my Senator Patty Murray, which was all but gung ho about attacking Iran (Murray receives significant support from AIPAC.) Let me know if you want me to forward you a copy of this letter.

Amy Goodman published a conversation between Seymour Hersh and Scott Ritter about White House plans for regime change in Iran. Ritter concludes that an attack is inevitable, and that within mere days of an attack we will all feel it in our pocketbooks.

And in today's New York Times there appears an important article By FLYNT LEVERETT and HILLARY MANN that highlights White House schizophrenia regarding the publication of information about the potential invasion of Iran. White House behavior regarding the redaction of much of this article is provocative and disturbing.

The potential for a military assault on Iran is real. I worry that the prospect of invading Iran is made more appealing by the failure in Iraq, i.e. - Iran may provide an escape route, a reason to flee Iraq.

21 December 2006

Driving in the Snow

When I woke up today I lounged around. I found some steel cut oats in the cupboard, so I didn't need to go straight into town - so I didn't go straight into town. I hanged(?) out. I read blogs and news articles. But I still needed to go to town. Later I told myself, later.

At about two o'clock it started snowing. Well, first it was ice pellets and freezing rain. But then it turned to big thick wet and fluffy flakes (there is such a thing). It was a perfect snow for building snowmen or throwing snowballs.

It was not a perfect snow for driving. Unless you like driving in that sort of thing. I was faced with the prospect of heading out in a thickening snow storm to procure some of the essentials (lettuce, eggs, doughnuts, whole wheat flour (for pancakes tomorrow morning)).

At about 3:30 I decided that it was then or never. I figured that the Island City Coop, which I intended to visit, might close earlier on. In fact they are open until 5 or 5:30 most days. With the rear-wheel-drive-only pickup waiting, I zipped up my jacket and headed out to the drive.

It was nice to drive through the clean white snow. I was in the first vehicle that made tracks through the new snow at first, on the side road.

After all was said and done, the pickup handled very well considering it is rear wheel drive, and the mission was accomplished. Now, I can go to bed without being hungry, and rest, while looking forward to pancakes and whatever tomorrow may bring.

Wealth Distribution

I was really shocked by these numbers. I knew that the ultra-wealthy were disproportionately wealthy, but I was unaware of the severity of the issue:
The Kansas City Star
By Rick Montgomery

While the rest of America rolls its eyeballs at such injustice, a spate of new studies and statistics throws a blinding spotlight on just how concentrated the world’s wealth has become. The richest of the rich are getting much richer, and ascending quicker, than are the rather wealthy.

And Average Joe? He appears stuck in the mud.

According to data recently prepared by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, the bottom 90 percent of U.S. households saw an increase in real household income of 2 percent between 1990 and 2004. That’s adjusted for inflation.

Two. Percent. In 14 years.

Now creep up the income ladder to the top 1 percent of households. There, says the center’s Aviva Aron-Dine, real income shot up 57 percent in the same period.

Climb higher. For the top 0.1 percent — where incomes average about $4.5 million a year — the jump was 85 percent. For the top .01 percent, 112 percent.

“The increasing gulf between the rich and super rich is a reflection of the greater chasm throughout society,” says Aron-Dine. “What’s going on is an increasingly skewed assessment of wage and income over the long term.”

Not since the 1920s — the era of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s rollicking Jay Gatsby — has such a small slice of America hoarded so much of the nation’s income, her findings show.

Globally, the richest 2 percent of adults now own more than half of the personal wealth, says a new study by U.N. researchers.
link to original

Here's another interesting source of infomration in re: wealth distribution:
Wealth, Income, and Power
by G. William Domhoff
September 2005 (updated December 2006)

In the United States, wealth is highly concentrated in a relatively few hands. As of 2001, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 33.4% of all privately held wealth, and the next 19% (the managerial, professional, and small business stratum) had 51%, which means that just 20% of the people owned a remarkable 84%, leaving only 16% of the wealth for the bottom 80% (wage and salary workers). In terms of financial wealth, the top 1% of households had an even greater share: 39.7%. Table 1 and Figure 1 present further details drawn from the careful work of economist Edward N. Wolff at New York University (2004).
click here to see Table 1 and Figure 1.

Finally, here is a story from the Washington Post describing how the tax burden has shifted since George Bush entered the White House and began his tax cut regime:
By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, August 13, 2004; Page A04

Since 2001, President Bush's tax cuts have shifted federal tax payments from the richest Americans to a wide swath of middle-class families, the Congressional Budget Office has found, a conclusion likely to roil the presidential election campaign.

The CBO study, due to be released today, found that the wealthiest 20 percent, whose incomes averaged $182,700 in 2001, saw their share of federal taxes drop from 64.4 percent of total tax payments in 2001 to 63.5 percent this year. The top 1 percent, earning $1.1 million, saw their share fall to 20.1 percent of the total, from 22.2 percent.

20 December 2006

Fornax the Troll

When once a young lad

       Whose name was Thad,

Went for a walk in the country

There came a great shout

       And a tremulous cry

For he stumbled upon a monster.

Old Fornax the brute

       A foul-tempered troll

Who was given to travelers's travails

Came upon he with a great

       Wooden stump - a former tree

He did a thump thump thump.

He did proceed to wander

       Into the village proper.

Where he found to his surprise

The central square alight

       With adornment gay, and song and tune -

Chorus and Instrument combined.

Astonished was he,

       though brutish and vile,

He smiled and laid down and cried.

Oly October Sky

19 December 2006

A Message from the Ghost of Christmas's Future?

Peace on Earth and Goodwill Towards Men? Rebecca Solnit presents a prophetic view of what the Christmas's of the future might bring:
You can see it in the countless local-economy projects -- wind-power stations, farmer's markets, local enviro organizations, food coops -- that were already proliferating, hardly noticed, by the time the Saudi Oil Wars swept the whole Middle East, damaging major oil fields, and bringing on the Great Gasoline Crisis of 2009. That was the one that didn't just send prices skyrocketing, but actually becalmed the globe-roaming container ships with their great steel-box-loads of bottled water, sweatshop garments, and other gratuitous commodities.
read more

Violence in Occupied Iraq Reaches All-Time High since Invasion

I'm looking at this information and thinking about the plan to send in more troops. I have heard that new plans are to increase the number of American soldiers by 50,000. What will this do? One thing it will do is give the insurgency more anger and fuel their attacks.

The answer to the problematic violence in Iraq is to begin a systematic and total withdrawal of US forces. It's the presence of a foreign force of occupation that triggers the violence. The US must relinquish its aspirations to control the oil wealth of Iraq:
Published: December 19, 2006

WASHINGTON, Dec. 18 — A Pentagon assessment of security conditions in Iraq concluded Monday that attacks against American and Iraqi targets had surged this summer and autumn to their highest level, and called violence by Shiite militants the most significant threat in Baghdad.

The report, which covers the period from early August to early November, found an average of almost 960 attacks against Americans and Iraqis every week, the highest level recorded since the Pentagon began issuing the quarterly reports in 2005, with the biggest surge in attacks against American-led forces. That was an increase of 22 percent from the level for early May to early August, the report said. [Full Text: The Report (pdf)]

While most attacks were directed at American forces, most deaths and injuries were suffered by the Iraqi military and civilians.
This is an unacceptable use of the US military. The American People clearly do not support wars of aggression, wars of imperial conquest. If the Bush Administration wants the oil of Iraq so badly, I charge him to create his own military infrastructure, and to use his own wherewithal to achieve his ends. I reject this Bush Administration military venture into Iraq.

Finally, we must hold the Bush Administration officials accountable for this crime; against the Peoples of Iraq and the USA, against humanity, against widely accepted codes of international conduct.

17 December 2006

A Principled and Patriotic Call for Withdrawal from Iraq

A soldier's statement relating to his signing of An Appeal for Redress (a petition for withdrawal from Iraq):
"Sgt. Gary"--21 years old. US Army. Deployed with 20th Infantry Regiment, near Mosul, Iraq:

I joined up in 2001, still a junior in high school. I felt very patriotic at the end of my US History class. My idea of the Army was that you signed up, they gave you a rifle and you ran off into battle like in some 1950s war movie. The whole idea of boot camp never really entered my head.

I supported the war in the beginning. I bought everything Bush said about how Saddam had WMDs, how he was working with Al Qaeda, how he was a threat to America. Of course, this all turned out to be false.

This is my second tour, and as of a few days ago it's half-over. Before I deployed with my unit for the second time I already had feelings of not wanting to go. When in late September a buddy in my platoon died from a bullet in the head, I really took a long hard look at this war, this Administration, and the reasons why.

After months of research on the Internet, I came to the conclusion that this war was based on lies and deception. I started to break free of all the propaganda that the Bush Administration and the Army puts out on a daily basis.

So far in three years we have succeeded in toppling a dictator and replacing him with puppets. Outlawing the old government and its standing army and replacing them with an unreliable and poorly trained crew of paycheck collectors. The well is so poisoned by what we have done here that nothing can fix it.
Sgt. Gary: Thank you for your principled stand. You do honor to your profession, your country, and most importantly - yourself.

16 December 2006

Saudi/UK Corruption in BAE Arms Deal

Tony Blair Implicated in Iraq War Fraud

Damning information:
Diplomat's Suppressed Document Lays Bare the Lies Behind Iraq War
By Colin Brown and Andy McSmith
The Independent UK

Friday 15 December 2006

The Government's case for going to war in Iraq has been torn apart by the publication of previously suppressed evidence that Tony Blair lied over Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction.

A devastating attack on Mr Blair's justification for military action by Carne Ross, Britain's key negotiator at the UN, has been kept under wraps until now because he was threatened with being charged with breaching the Official Secrets Act.
Here's a link.

Active Duty Military Personnel Appeal for Withdrawal from Iraq

After that horrifying and vulgar cartoon yesterday, I thought it would be good to post something encouraging. I would have posted something sooner, had I not been without power thanks to a mighty windstorm that left large areas of the Puget Sound region without electricity. I also spent a large portion of the day traveling to my native land of 10,000 lakes. Without further ado, here is an inspiring story about individual acts of courage that will have a forceful collective impact.

Marc Cooper of The Nation reports that nearly 1,000 active duty military personnel, both enlistees and officers, have signed An Appeal for Redress:
The wording of the Appeal for Redress is short and simple. It is patriotic and respectful in tone.
As a patriotic American proud to serve the nation in uniform, I respectfully urge my political leaders in Congress to support the prompt withdrawal of all American military forces and bases from Iraq . Staying in Iraq will not work and is not worth the price. It is time for U.S. troops to come home.
If you agree with this message, click here.
Marc Cooper included a few statements from personnel in his article. Here's one:
"Lisa"--20 years old, E-4, USAF, Stationed at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii:

I joined up two weeks after I turned 17 because I wanted to save American lives. I wanted to be a hero like any American child.

I supported the war when I joined because I thought it was justified. Only after my own research and the truth coming out did I learn how wrong I was, how--for lack of a better word--how brainwashed I was.

Now I know the war is illegal, unjustified and that our troops have no reason for being there.

When I saw an article about the Appeal in the Air Force Times I went online right away and signed it and have encouraged others to do the same.
There is momentum building to oppose this war. A new year approaches. Will it bring more of the same tired boondoggery and belligerence, a continued reliance on the threat of force to impose territorial and economic visions of hegemonic proportion? Or will the new year find an awakening to a new attitude of cooperation, altruism and egalitarianism?

My best bet says somewhere in between, though how far in either direction depends on you, and on me.

14 December 2006

Terrible Tempest of Imperialism

I foresee this imperial effort culminating in:
© Martin Rowson 2008

Redress for Grievances: Public Funds Used for Illegal Aggressive Invasion and Occupation

This "robert11" guy has something to say:
Iraq report normalizes the concept of US colonialism. I do not support a policy of global hegemony. As a tax payer, I demand redress for grievances relating to the expenditure of public funds for an aggressive invasion and occupation of a sovereign nation. The report makes it clear that Iraq is valuable because of its oil. But it is not acceptable to invade a country in order to procure its resources for our own uses. Simply unacceptable. President Bush is a criminal. He needs to be apprehended and held in confinement until evidence relating to his alleged crimes can be gathered and he can be brought to trial. This is the strategy for a new America and a process of stabilization in Iraq.

By robert11 | Dec 11, 2006 3:20:18 AM
comments on a Washington Post article regarding the cover art of the Iraq Report.

OMJP Banner

The Permanent War and United States' Imperialism Blues

Here are some excerpts from a recent Tomgram (tomdispatch.com). Basically, Schwartz and Englehardt argue that those policy making decision makers in Washington D.C. have missed the point. The point is that the answer to the disintegration of society in Iraq is for the United States to withdraw its forces of military occupation. The military presence, essentially, is working against the creation of a secure and stable Iraq. Most importantly in this will be the relinquishment of aspirations - to privatize the oil sector, and to enable western multinational oil firms - to profit from the extraction of the Iraqi oil resource:
...This [ISG report] is not, however, good news for those of us who want the U.S. to end its war of conquest in Iraq. Quite the contrary: The ISG report is not an "exit strategy;" it is a new plan for achieving the Bush administration's imperial goals in the Middle East.
Why was the Iraq Study Group so reluctant to advocate the withdrawal of American troops and the abandonment of the Bush administration's goal of pacifying Iraq? The likely explanation is: Its all-establishment membership (and the teams of experts that gave it advice) understood that withdrawing from Iraq would be an imperially momentous decision. It would, in fact, mean the abandonment of over two decades of American foreign policy in the Middle East. To grasp this, it's helpful to compare the way most Americans look at the war in Iraq to the way those in power view it.

Most Americans initially believed that the U.S. went into Iraq to shut down Saddam Hussein's WMD programs and/or simply to topple a dangerous dictator (or even a dictator somehow connected to the 9/11 attacks). Of course, had that really been the case, the Bush administration should have withdrawn almost immediately. Even today, it could, at least theoretically, withdraw and declare victory the day after Saddam Hussein is executed, since the WMDs and the 9/11 connection were evanescent. In this scenario, the dismal post-invasion military failure would represent nothing but the defeat of Bush's personal crusade -- articulated only after the Hussein regime was toppled -- to bring American-style democracy to a benighted land.
The invasion of 2003 reflected the Bush administration's ambition to establish Iraq as the hub of American imperial dominance in the oil heartlands of the planet. Unsurprisingly, then, the U.S. military entered Iraq with plans already in hand to construct and settle into at least four massive military bases that would become nerve centers for our military presence in the "arc of instability" extending from Central Asia all the way into Africa -- an "arc" that just happened to contain the bulk of the world's exportable oil.

The original plan included wresting control of Iraqi oil from Saddam's hostile Baathist government and delivering it into the hands of the large oil companies through the privatization of new oil fields and various other special agreements. [emphasis added] It was hoped that privatized Iraqi oil might then break OPEC's hold on the global oil spigot. In the Iraq of the Bush administration's dreams, the U.S. would be the key player in determining both the amount of oil pumped and the favored destinations for it. (This ambition was implicitly seconded by the Baker Commission when it recommended that the U.S. "should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise")
Most striking is the report's twenty-first (of seventy-nine) recommendations, aimed at describing what the United States should do if the Iraqis fail to satisfactorily fulfill the many tasks that the ISG has set for them.
"If the Iraqi government does not make substantial progress toward the achievement of milestones on national reconciliation, security, and governance, the United States should reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government."
This could be interpreted as a threat that the United States will withdraw -- and the mainstream media has chosen to interpret it just that way. But why then did Baker and his colleagues not word this statement differently? ("… the United States should reduce, and ultimately withdraw, its forces from Iraq.") The phrase "reduce its political, military, or economic support for the Iraqi government" is probably better interpreted literally: that if that government fails to satisfy ISG demands, the U.S. should transfer its "political, military, or economic support" to a new leadership within Iraq that it feels would be more capable of making "substantial progress toward" the milestones it has set. In other words, this passage is more likely a threat of a coup d'état than a withdrawal strategy -- a threat that the façade of democracy would be stripped away and a "strong man" (or a government of "national salvation") installed, one that the Bush administration or the ISG believes could bring the Sunni rebellion to heel.
Link here. The articles are worth reading in their entirety.

It's a lot to swallow, but it portrays, accurately, the imperial interests of the Bush Administration and the Administration's Masters.

Bush Administration Attitude: Above the Law

Just because he inhabits the Executive Mansion, doesn't mean that the laws of the United States, as well as legally binding international codes, don't apply to Mr. George Bush and Mr. Richard Cheney. These two men have created an aura of untouchability about themselves. But, they are only free from review in so much as Congress grants them a pass. The Supreme Court could even step in, if it was so inclined. Bush Administration malfeasance and abrogation of the system of codes which bind the citizens of this nation warrant serious investigation. The Congress of the USA must act to hold the Executive accountable for its actions.
Impunity and Immunity
The Bush Administration Enters the Confessional
By Karen Greenberg
"In the exercise of his plenary power to use military force, the President's decisions are for him alone and are unreviewable."

This notion of unreviewable behavior, then still buried in the land of footnotes, has characterized the administration's general stance on its war on terror policies.
link: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=146171

13 December 2006

Poverty: Root Cause of Terrorism

Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Muhammad Yunus:
We must address the root cause of terrorism to end terrorism for all time to come. I believe that putting resources into improving the lives of the poor is a better strategy than spending it on guns.

Peace should be understood in a human way, in a broad social, political and economic way. Peace is threatened by unjust economic, social and political order, absence of democracy, environmental degradation and absence of human rights.

Poverty is the absence of all human rights. The frustrations, hostility and anger generated by abject poverty cannot sustain peace in any society. For building stable peace, we must find ways to provide opportunities for people to live decent lives. The creation of opportunities for the majority of the people -- the poor -- is at the heart of the work that we have dedicated ourselves during the past 30 years.
linked: http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=06/12/13/1451222

We Must Face Our Discomfort

Having the courage for own up to feelings of discomfort in the presence of injustice and wrong-doing, and not to back away, or escape the uncomfortable sensation is crucial to the development of a healthier and better society:
by Robert Jensen
For people with privilege in an unjust world -- whether it’s men in relation to women, the setter-colonizer in relation to indigenous peoples, white people in relation to people of color, the rich in relation to working and poor people, or U.S. citizens in relation to the country’s domination of the rest of the world -- it’s imperative that we invite into our worlds those on the other side of that privilege, not to make us feel good but precisely to challenge us to have the courage to feel uncomfortable.

If we can’t do that, there is little hope for the world -- and no hope for our own souls.
Here's a link: http://dissidentvoice.org/Dec06/Jensen12.htm

12 December 2006

Total Disaster in Iraq

This is from email correspondence between Dahr Jamail and a contact of his in Iraq. It demonstrates the level to which the situation has been reduced. $4 for a gallon of gas - and in a country that has the second largest proven petroleum reserve on the planet. The condition of Iraq, caused by the illegal and unjustified invasion and occupation, is intolerable and worthy of ridicule. America will regret this deplorable set of crimes against humanity for a long time:
"It is worse than ever. The problem is that our U.S. government and the Iraqi ‘Government' tell the world that things are improving here when they are not. All of the rebuilding bull crap is nothing but a scam that is worse than the oil-for-food program [of the post-Gulf War I years]. We have ONE hour of electricity a day now. I have power to turn on some lights and my computer by way of a little generator that I hooked up to my office today. A gallon of gas costs over $4 now, when the salary of an engineer is less than $200 a MONTH."


"I hope I can show you how the dogs have started eating the dead bodies which lie in the streets of Baghdad now. I filmed one of the dead bodies while there was a dog eating on it. The U.S. troops and Iraqi police leave the dead bodies in the streets for one or two days… I think they intend to do this because they want everyone, including the children, to see this. Three days ago my young son saw some of the Shia militia as they killed an innocent Iraqi in front of his eyes just near his school.
link: http://tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=146966

Representative Cynthia McKinney's Bill to Impeach President George Bush

Here are some excerpts from Representative McKinney's on-floor introduction to her impeachment bill. This was introduced in Congress last Friday:
By Cynthia McKinney, December 8, 2006
Mr. Speaker:
I come before this body today as a proud American and as a servant of the American people, sworn to uphold the Constitution of the United States.
No American is above the law, and if we allow a President to violate, at the most basic and fundamental level, the trust of the people and then continue to govern, without a process for holding him accountable—what does that say about our commitment to the truth? To the Constitution? To our democracy?
From mushroom clouds to African yellow cake to aluminum tubes, the American people and this Congress were not presented the facts, but rather were presented a string of untruths, to justify the invasion of Iraq.
This has grave consequences for the health of our democracy, for our standing with our allies, and most of all, for the lives of our men and women in the military and their families—who have been asked to make sacrifices—including the ultimate sacrifice—to keep us safe.

Just as we expect our leaders to be truthful, we expect them to abide by the law and respect our courts and judges. Here again, the President failed the American people.
President George W. Bush has failed to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States; he has failed to ensure that senior members of his administration do the same; and he has betrayed the trust of the American people.

With a heavy heart and in the deepest spirit of patriotism, I exercise my duty and responsibility to speak truthfully about what is before us. To shy away from this responsibility would be easier. But I have not been one to travel the easy road. I believe in this country, and in the power of our democracy. I feel the steely conviction of one who will not let the country I love descend into shame; for the fabric of our democracy is at stake.
Mr. Speaker:

Under the standards set by the United States Constitution, President Bush—along with Vice President Cheney, and Secretary of State Rice—should be subject to the process of impeachment, and I have filed H. Res. _ in the House of Representatives.

To my fellow Americans, as I leave this Congress, it is in your hands—to hold your representatives accountable, and to show those with the courage to stand for what is right, that they do not stand alone.

Thank you.
A full text can be found here: http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/16230.

The message is clear. It is the Peoples' responsibility and duty to enforce accountability!

11 December 2006

True Security Through Respectful Actions

"No nation can make itself secure by seeking supremacy over others."
- Mr. Kofi Annan


George Bush's reckless and offensive conquest of Iraq - his Administration's policy of advancing the Global Hegemony of Western Multinationals endanger America. Using the military power of the USA to advance his personal agenda of oil exploitation is anathema to the foundations of international citizenship. Instead of the good neighbor, America is rapidly advancing its ugly imperial onslaught. It is time for this to stop. We the People of the USA are ultimately responsible for exercising the powers of accountability over our government.

The onus is on us.

10 December 2006

President of Iraq Rejects ISG Report

U.S. Report Rejected By Iraqi President

By Nancy Trejos
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, December 11, 2006; Page A15

BAGHDAD, Dec. 10 -- Iraqi President Jalal Talabani on Sunday strongly rejected a bipartisan U.S. panel's report on U.S. war strategy in Iraq, calling some of its recommendations "dangerous" and a threat to his country's sovereignty.

"The report does not respect the will of the Iraqis in dealing with their problems," he said in a statement released by his office.
link: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/ 2006/12/10/AR2006121000200.html

09 December 2006

Seminar II Building with Fresh Snowfall

This photo is from a couple of weeks ago.

Watada: American Hero

Ehren Watada is scheduled to be court martialled in February. Watada is worthy of support, as Professor Boyle makes clear:
August 23, 2006
An Archetypal American Hero

Statement on Behalf of Lt. Ehren Watada


One generation ago the peoples of the world asked themselves: Where were the "good" Germans? Well, there were some good Germans. The Lutheran theologian and pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was the foremost exemplar of someone who led a life of principled opposition to the Nazi-terror state even unto death.

Today the peoples of the world are likewise asking themselves: Where are the "good" Americans? Well, there are some good Americans. They are getting prosecuted for protesting against illegal U.S. military interventions and war crimes around the world. First Lieutenant Ehren Watada is America's equivalent to Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Vaclav Havel, Andrei Sakharov, Wei Jingsheng, Aung San Suu Kyi, and others. He is the archetypal American Hero whom we should be bringing into our schools and teaching our children to emulate, not those wholesale purveyors of gratuitous violence and bloodshed adulated by the U.S. government, America's power elite, the mainstream corporate news media, and its interlocked entertainment industry.

In international legal terms, the Bush Jr. administration itself should now be viewed as constituting an ongoing criminal conspiracy under international criminal law in violation of the Nuremberg Charter, the Nuremberg Judgment, and the Nuremberg Principles, because of its formulation and undertaking of wars of aggression, crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and war crimes that are legally akin to those perpetrated by the former Nazi regime in Germany.

As a consequence, American citizens and soldiers such as Lieutenant Watada possess the basic right under international law and the United States domestic law, including the U.S. Constitution, to engage in acts of civil resistance in order to prevent, impede, thwart, or terminate ongoing criminal activities perpetrated by U.S. government officials in their conduct of foreign affairs policies and military operations purported to relate to defense and counter-terrorism.

If not so restrained, the Bush Jr. administration could very well precipitate a Third World War.

Francis A. Boyle, Professor of Law, University of Illinois, is author of Foundations of World Order, Duke University Press, The Criminality of Nuclear Deterrence, and Palestine, Palestinians and International Law, by Clarity Press. He can be reached at: FBOYLE@LAW.UIUC.EDU
link: http://www.counterpunch.org/boyle08232006.html

Support Lieutenant Watada's principled opposition to the Iraq war. For more information, please visit thankyoult.org

08 December 2006

Antonia Juhasz: Oil in Iraq

It's still about oil in Iraq
A centerpiece of the Iraq Study Group's report is its advocacy for securing foreign companies' long-term access to Iraqi oil fields.
By Antonia Juhasz, ANTONIA JUHASZ is a visiting scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and author of "The Bush Agenda: Invading the World, One Economy at a Time."
December 8, 2006

WHILE THE Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever-pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.

Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.
All told, the Iraq Study Group has simply made the case for extending the war until foreign oil companies — presumably American ones — have guaranteed legal access to all of Iraq's oil fields and until they are assured the best legal and financial terms possible.

We can thank the Iraq Study Group for making its case publicly. It is now our turn to decide if we wish to spill more blood for oil.
This article is well worth your while to read in its entirety. It can be found at a link here: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-juhasz8dec08,0,4717508.story

This highlights exactly what the problem is in Iraq. Namely, foreign powers seeking to exploit resources that don't belong to them. I point you, kind reader, to the Aldo Leopold quote at the top of this page. There you will find my true feelings on this matter. George Bush: I say no to your imperialism and your killing. Too many lives have been lost for your oil war. How can you bear the weight of your burden? Do you lack a human conscience?

07 December 2006

Future Thinking

What kind of future society do you want? Pretty much the same? Or are there some changes you would like to see. Maybe I will write some posts about some of the changes that I would like to see.

Here's a link to a post from my blog at OlyBlog.net: http://olyblog.net/blog/robert-whitlock/future-olympia

It's about a future Olympia.

More later.

06 December 2006

American Arabs Subject to Persecution

Here's yet another example of how America is headed in the wrong direction:
Democrats Won, But Arabs in America Still Suffer from Bush's War on Terror

By Chris Hedges, Truthdig. Posted December 6, 2006.

Victimized by outrageous attempts in U.S. courts to tie him to terrorists groups, Sami Al-Arian, a tenured Palestinian professor who was fired from the University of South Florida, has spent many months in prison even after a jury failed to convict him.
U.S. District Judge James S. Moody Jr. sentenced Dr. Al-Arian to the maximum 57 months. In referring to Al-Arian's contention that he had only raised money for Palestinian Islamic Jihad's charity for widows and orphans, the judge said acidly to the professor that "your only connection to orphans and widows is that you create them." "The cards were stacked against us," said the defendant's daughter, Laila Al-Arian. "The prosecutors showed gruesome videos of suicide bombings in Israel and tried to tie my father to them. He had nothing to do with these attacks. He has always condemned the killing of Israeli and Palestinian civilians. The trial was Orwellian. The government prosecutors would take events and statements that had nothing to do with my father and attempt to connect them to him. This was all about silencing a Palestinian activist, not combating terrorism."
link here: http://www.alternet.org/rights/45100/

How can people stand by idly while our government commits wrongs like this? I'll tell you, it's because we're duped and drugged. We are duped into thinking that everything is okay by a failed media system and drugged, often by that same media system - primarily television. We are also drugged by the culture of consumption, which has created an American populous afflicted, all too often, with tunnel-vision and a startling lack of concern for anything other than basic desires. Americans are saying, "give me food and TV and don't make me think! Don't challenge me to think outside the box. Life is great."

I'm truly saddened by this lack of concern on the part of mainstream Americans for the grievous injustices that are being committed in our names. Our actions, or lack thereof, will inevitably be taken into account.

Iraq Soldier's Death Rate Quickens

We are on pace to reach the 3,000th death of an American service person in Iraq before the new year. Only 6 days into the month of December, 29 occupation soldiers have been killed.

The Heart of Whirlpool Galaxy M51

Heart of the Whirlpool...

05 December 2006

Rumsfeld Sued by Film-Maker for Abu Ghraib Captivity

Video: Iranian-American filmmaker sues Rumsfeld

David Edwards
Published: Friday November 17, 2006

In this video clip, CNN interviews Cyrus Kar, an Iranian-American filmmaker, who is suing U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for wrongful imprisonment and the violation of his Constitutional rights.

In Iraq to film a historical documentary, Kar was charged with being a terrorist and placed in the notorious prison at Abu Ghraib. He was held for 55 days, most of them in solitary confinement. After 49 days, he was finally given a hearing and eventually freed.

Rumsfeld has filed motions to have the suit dismissed. A hearing in January will determine if Kar's lawsuit can go forward.

A full transcript follows the video...
Here's a link: http://www.rawstory.com/news/2006/ Video_IranianAmerican_filmmaker_sues_Donald_Rumsfeld_1117.html

The water is rising, Rumsfeld. The storm rages and rides high on the horizon.

Bush the Destroyer

Bush's Meeting With A Murderer
Robert Dreyfuss
December 04, 2006

Robert Dreyfuss is an Alexandria, Va.-based writer specializing in politics and national security issues. He is the author of Devil's Game: How the United States Helped Unleash Fundamentalist Islam (Henry Holt/Metropolitan Books, 2005), a contributing editor at The Nation and a writer for Mother Jones, The American Prospect and Rolling Stone. He can be reached through his website, www.robertdreyfuss.com.

President George W. Bush meets today with Abdel Aziz al-Hakim, the turbaned leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq (SCIRI), a Shiite fundamentalist party that is strongly tied to Iran. In so doing, the president is meeting with someone who, perhaps more than anyone else in Iraq, is responsible for trying to destroy Iraqi national unity, prevent national reconciliation among Iraq’s ethnic and sectarian mix, and push Iraq into civil war. Al-Hakim, who was virtually Fed-Ex’d into Iraq by the Pentagon in March 2003, was a mainstay of the Iraqi National Congress, led by neoconservative darling Ahmed Chalabi throughout the 1990s. And today al-Hakim controls the SCIRI militia, the Badr Brigade, the Iraqi interior ministry and many of Iraq’s feared death squads. Not to put too fine a point on it, Hakim is a mass murderer.

What’s stunning about Bush’s encounter with al-Hakim is that it occurs precisely at the moment when critically important bridges are being built across Iraq’s Sunni-Shiite divide—bridges that al-Hakim is trying to blow up.
oh won't you read more at tompaine.com?

04 December 2006

Bolton "Resigns"

reuters ©

It's a relief to see John Bolton step down from his position as ambassador to the UN. Bolton's belligerent attitude was an obstacle to the proper function of the UN as a regulatory oversight body. Bolton, in my understanding, sought to derail many UN functions rather than enable the proper function of the international organization. Goodbye, John Bolton.

[edit: Watch this video from the NYT about Bolton's resignation and work within the UN.]

03 December 2006

Annan: Iraq Situation Worse than Civil War

BBC News Service:
Asked by the BBC's Lyse Doucet whether the situation in Iraq could now be classified as a civil war, Mr Annan pointed to the level of "killing and bitterness" and the way forces in Iraq are now ranged against each other.

"A few years ago, when we had the strife in Lebanon and other places, we called that a civil war. This is much worse.

"We have a very worrisome situation in the broader Middle East," Mr Annan said, linking the ongoing conflicts in Iraq and Lebanon with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and tensions over Iran.

Tough situation

He admitted that the failure to prevent the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 was a major blow to the UN, one from which the organisation is only beginning to recover.
A real tragedy. And to think it was preventable. Had only the American people demanded truth and accountability from the fraudster Bush Administration. We will inherit the dues spawned by this disaster in Iraq for many years to come... And not just Americans and Britons and Iraqis and those of the greater Middle East - the whole of humanity will bear the brunt of this cruel and insidious Bush Administration plot to do wrong.


Howard Beale's Mad as Hell

Check out this clip from the film Network:

02 December 2006

Bush in Denial - Robert Fisk Reports

In this article, Fisk compares Bush to the likes of Hitler. He discusses some of the basis for understanding what is a failed mission in Iraq, and he ponders Bush's fantastic denial of the brutal, terrible and horrific truth on the ground. Iraq is in chaos and Bush can only say that he will not pull US military forces out before he instills a pro-western government (that cannot have the support of the Iraqi people). Essentially, his goal is all but totally lost. But he plunges on, oblivious. He is lost in denial; in a deep stinking delusion.
Robert Fisk: Like Hitler and Brezhnev, Bush is in denial
Published: 01 December 2006

More than half a million deaths, an army trapped in the largest military debacle since Vietnam, a Middle East policy already buried in the sands of Mesopotamia - and still George W Bush is in denial. How does he do it? How does he persuade himself - as he apparently did in Amman yesterday - that the United States will stay in Iraq "until the job is complete"? The "job" - Washington's project to reshape the Middle East in its own and Israel's image - is long dead, its very neoconservative originators disavowing their hopeless political aims and blaming Bush, along with the Iraqis of course, for their disaster.

History's "deniers" are many - and all subject to the same folly: faced with overwhelming evidence of catastrophe, they take refuge in fantasy, dismissing evidence of collapse as a symptom of some short-term setback, clinging to the idea that as long as their generals promise victory - or because they have themselves so often promised victory - that fate will be kind. George W Bush - or Lord Blair of Kut al-Amara for that matter - need not feel alone. The Middle East has produced these fantasists by the bucketful over past decades.
Link: http://news.independent.co.uk/world/fisk/article2029238.ece

Record Setting Afghanistan Opium Crop

Here's another failure to add to the Bush Administration's growing list:

Afghanistan Opium Crop Sets Record
U.S.-Backed Efforts At Eradication Fail

By Karen DeYoung
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 2, 2006; Page A01

Opium production in Afghanistan, which provides more than 90 percent of the world's heroin, broke all records in 2006, reaching a historic high despite ongoing U.S.-sponsored eradication efforts, the Bush administration reported yesterday.

In addition to a 26 percent production increase over past year -- for a total of 5,644 metric tons -- the amount of land under cultivation in opium poppies grew by 61 percent. Cultivation in the two main production provinces, Helmand in the southwest and Oruzgan in central Afghanistan, was up by 132 percent.
link to original: http://www.washingtonpost[...]

Now, George Bush and his crusaders of debauchery have managed to enable a dependency on opium production for the stability of Afghanistan's economy. What's next?

Hopefully a quick removal from office.

Corruption in Iraqi Reconstruction Industry

Think Cheney, Halliburton etc...:

Corruption: the 'second insurgency' costing $4bn a year

One third of rebuilding contracts under criminal investigation

Julian Borger in Washington, David Pallister

Saturday December 2, 2006
The Guardian

The Iraqi government is in danger of being brought down by the wholesale smuggling of the nation's oil and other forms of corruption that together represent a "second insurgency", according to a senior US official. Stuart Bowen, who has been in charge of auditing Iraq's faltering reconstruction since 2004, said corruption had reached such levels that it threatened the survival of the state.
the insurgents and militias have also been abetted by US incompetence. A recent audit by his inspectors found that more than 14,000 guns paid for out of US reconstruction funds for Iraqi government use could not be accounted for. Many could be in the hands of insurgents or sectarian death squads, but it will be almost impossible to prove because when the US military handed out the guns it noted the serial numbers of only about 10,000 out of a total of 370,000 US-funded weapons, contrary to defence department regulations.
A culture of waste, incompetence and fraud may be one legacy the occupiers have passed on to Iraq's new rulers more or less intact. Mr Bowen's office found that nearly $9bn in Iraqi oil revenues could not be accounted for. The cash was flown into the country in shrink-wrapped bundles on military transport planes and handed over by the ton to Iraqi ministries by the Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) run by Paul Bremer, a veteran diplomat. The money was meant to demonstrate the invaders' good intentions and boost the Iraqi economy, which Mr Bremer later insisted had been "dead in the water". But it also fuelled a cycle of corruption left over from Saddam Hussein's rule.
A potentially far more serious problem has been the way the US government decided to give out reconstruction contracts. It split the economy into sectors and shared them out among nine big US corporations. In most cases the contracts were distributed without competition and on a cost-plus basis. In other words the contractors were guaranteed a profit margin calculated as a percentage of their costs, so the higher the costs, the higher the profits. In the rush to get work started the contracts were signed early in 2004. In many cases work did not get under way until the year was nearly over. In the months between, the contractors racked up huge bills on wages, hotel bills and restaurants.

According to a Sigir review published in October, Kellogg, Brown and Root (a subsidiary of Halliburton, Vice President Dick Cheney's former company) was awarded an oil industry repair contract in February 2004 but "direct project activity" did not begin until November 19. In that time KBR's overhead costs were nearly $53m. In fact more than half the company's $300m project costs from 2004-06 went on overheads, the audit found.
link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/Iraq/Story/0,,1962245,00.html

01 December 2006

Uncle Sam - Unrecognizable to Himself

Mr. Fish; veritable as always. America is behaving in an atavistic manner. But we, the American people, are better than that. It's time that we stand up to our government and demand change. This trampling - of the environment, of the poor and otherwise powerless amongst us, of future generations - is simply not the way to operate, it's not a good way to live. Let's stand up for our common humanity. Uncle Sam needs some serious help. There is a moral obligation to oppose the government's wrongdoing. Just look at him:

link: http://www.harpers.org/CartoonsUncleSam-2006-12-01.html

Right Wing Anti-Muslim Assaults

By M.J. Rosenberg:
It didn't take long for the bigots to come after Rep.-Elect Keith Ellison (D-Minnesota). Ellison is an African-American and the first Muslim to be elected to Congress. Yesterday, Dennis Prager, the far-right Jewish talk-show host, attacked Ellison because the young Muslim wants to take his oath of office on a Quran and not on the Christian Bible. Prager went ballistic, sayng “he should not be allowed to do so.” Prager said that "the Bible is America's holiest book. If you are incapable of taking an oath on that book, don't serve in Congress.”
Why would a Jew want a Muslim to take an oath on a Christian bible? Wouldn't the Torah be preferable?

This attack on Ellison is not good, whether the attacker is Christian, Jew, secular - whatever. Prager owes Ellison a sincere on-air apology. And a prompt one at that. Prager is not a good Jew (according to my understanding). No person of religious faith, especially the Jewish faith, in which principles of social justice and equality are highly esteemed (according to my lay knowledge of the faith), would stoop to an attack of this level. Is Prager an imposter? Maybe. He reeks of nationalism, that much is for sure.

[edit:Really, it doesn't matter what his professed religion of choice is, this type of bigotry is really destructive and harmful to society.]

link to tpm café article:anti_muslim_assault_on_democratic_congressman