American Samizdat

Sunday, November 30, 2003. *
Even though Bush II will lose the popular vote in the US presidential election of 2004, his electoral college victory seems assured. With Republican party governors firmly in charge of Florida, California, Texas and New York, and supported by a whopping Bush campaign war chest approaching $200 million, dubious electronic voting schemes courtesy of Diebold, Lockheed Martin and other defense contractors ( http://www.blackboxvoting.com ), it seems certain that Bush will make it back to the Oval Office through the back door that is the Electoral College. And if not the Electoral College then by benefit of a rebel attack on US soil which kills thousands of Americans and leads to the suspension of the US Constitution. That according to General Tommy Franks, USA (Ret.), who opined in the magazine Cigar Aficionado that the US will have to shed its constitution in favor of a military style of government. Even the notorious aristocrat Alexander Hamilton would have been appalled as such a statement, as would Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. But these are mediocre times in history; particularly, and dangerously, in America where its people have eliminated those who might have continued to wage a struggle for an equitable form of government in the US, as well as engage the world through international treaty building . . .

. . . Bush will quietly issue an edict supporting a return to the draft. The massive military campaign that is sure to follow will require millions of US military personnel that can only be had forcibly through conscription. As early as the Christian holiday of Christmas in December 2004, or more likely, the Christian Easter Holiday in April 2005 (celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ), the Bush PCS will attack. Syria will be attacked by American-British-Israeli coalition forces, primarily from its Western, Southern and Eastern flanks. There will be no prolonged bombing campaign in this operation. The air campaign will be concomitant with an amphibious assault on Syria’s Western shores, accompanied by a land invasion from the Southern and Eastern flanks. The forces of the American led coalition will crush the dilapidated Syrian military within 10 business days. The Palestinians will likely be granted a piece of the former Syria and will be relocated there by the US and Israel . . .

. . . The US and South Korean military will attempt to neutralize the North Korean military with low yield tactical nuclear weapons which will be used primarily along the heavily fortified Southern border. This conflict will see the massive deployment of ordnance with calmative agents meant to literally put to sleep the North Korean military. An electromagnetic pulse weapon or weapons will be used to knock out North Korea’s command and control infrastructure. Ground operations will be simultaneous with air and sea assault but the conflict will rage on for 12 business quarters as weather and terrain complicate the US led attack . . . (via Kurt Nimmo and Root Cellar)
posted by New World at 4:55 PM
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Bruce Springsteen told a crowd of 50,000 New Yorkers on October 4th to "shout a little louder if you want the president impeached." Two weeks later, John Mellencamp posted an open letter to America on his Web site, declaring, "We have been lied to and terrorized by our own government, and it is time to take action." Meanwhile, Moby, Eddie Vedder and Michael Stipe are organizing a TV-ad campaign that will run anti-Bush commercials during the week of the State of the Union address in January; Dave Matthews is railing against the war in Iraq in interviews; and at press time, at least three multiband rock tours planned to take aim at Bush-administration policies. Green Day, NOFX, Tom Morello, Dixie Chicks, Don Henley, Willie Nelson and Steve Earle have all played (or plan to play) for political candidates or causes. Hip-hop stars have also gotten involved. "We have a voice and a responsibility to speak out," says Jay-Z, a member of Russell Simmons' Hip-Hop Summit, which aims to register 4 million voters before the 2004 election. "People listen to us." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 4:30 PM
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Commentary regarding the police violence in the recent
FTAA protests in Miami, and the federal role in it.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 2:25 PM
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Saturday, November 29, 2003. *
Also see: prior info on Miami events, post 1 and post 2, and
Heavy-handed police and propaganda tactics brought Baghdad to Miami with a thread that has more links and a discussion about the unsettling trend to embedding reporters.
posted by madamjujujive at 10:11 AM
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David Neiwert of Orcinus on growing up conservative, missed invitations, and when politics becomes personal:
It is hardly different in nature from the kind of hate regularly spewed by the cross-burners at Aryan Nations ... There is a special quality to eliminationist rhetoric, and it has the distinctive stench of burning flesh ... (T)his is a large part of what is happening to our national body politic: People in key positions of media and conservative ideological prominence (Coulter, Limbaugh, even Bill O'Reilly) exhibit multiple symptoms of being pathological sociopaths, either antisocial or narcissistic, or a combination of both. And not only their fellow participants in the conservative movement, but mainstream centrists and even liberals are unable to figure out that there is something seriously wrong with these people because they are projecting their own normalcy onto them. They cannot perceive because they cannot believe -- that, above all, these people are not operating within a framework guided by the boundaries of basic decency that restrain most of us.

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posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:57 AM
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Friday, November 28, 2003. *
There's something very strange about receiving a letter from Tony Blair's office asking me if I want to accept this award. In the past couple of months I've been on Blair's doorstep a few times. I have begged him to come out and meet me; I have been longing for a conversation with him, but he won't come out, and now here he is asking me to meet him at the palace! I was there with a million people on February 15, and the last time I was there was just a couple of weeks ago. My cousin, Michael Powell, was arrested and taken to Thornhill Road police station in Birmingham where he died. Now, I know how he died. The whole of Birmingham knows how he died, but in order to get this article published and to be politically (or journalistically) correct, I have to say that he died in suspicious circumstances. The police will not give us any answers. We have not seen or heard anything of all the reports and investigations we were told were going to take place. Now, all that my family can do is join with all the other families who have lost members while in custody because no one in power is listening to us. Come on Mr Blair, I'll meet you anytime. Let's talk about your Home Office, let's talk about being tough on crime. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:48 PM
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Senior citizens angry over the AARP's endorsement of the Medicare bill are ripping up or burning their AARP membership cards and flooding the lobbying group's Internet message board with complaints in what could be the biggest revolt in its ranks since the 1980s.

Many fear the Republican-backed bill approved by Congress on Tuesday will harm senior citizens, and they say the AARP -- the nation's most influential retiree lobby, with 35 million members -- sold them out.

The bill "destroys one of the most successful programs in the history of this country," Isaac Ben Ezra, president of the Massachusetts Senior Action Council, said as he led a demonstration of about 40 people here against the bill Monday. "Shame, AARP."

AARP chief executive William Novelli said Wednesday that between 10,000 and 15,000 members have quit over the bill. [more]

via Atrios
posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:31 PM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 5:26 PM
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The aid agencies have complained bitterly to Israel about soldiers firing on their relief workers, even when traffic has been co-ordinated in advance. "Several organisations are now seriously considering whether they should continue to work at all under these circumstances," they said. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 3:49 PM
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... so holy that he had his daddy pour cooking oil over his head ...Chris Floyd on the recent Patriot Act expansions, anointing with oil, full-contact lap dancing, and a cross-dressing martinet :
Don't kid yourself -- and don't let them kid you. When they come at you with that pious sugar, telling you how they're going to protect you, secure you, keep you free, you better run and check the back door – because that's where their goons will be breaking in. ... All Ashcroft's boys have to do is say, "Boo! Terrorism!" and they can take whatever they want. ... As usual, the power grab was accompanied by earnest pledges that it would only be used in the most extreme cases of genuine terrorist danger. ... This was, of course, the usual load of mule manure we've come to expect ...

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posted by Mischa Peyton at 1:19 PM
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The world did not learn that Bush had spent 2 1/2 hours Thursday on a Thanksgiving Day visit to troops in Baghdad until his jumbo jet was again in the air, flying back to the United States, where he arrived early Friday, making it back to his ranch in Texas shortly before daybreak.



As the president was cheering up soldiers in a mess hall in Baghdad, newscasters back home were reporting that he was enjoying Thanksgiving dinner with his family at his ranch in Crawford, Texas. That was what reporters had been told by White House officials.


posted by Jeremy Galinho Doido at 5:12 AM
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Thursday, November 27, 2003. *
posted by Grady at 5:45 PM
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Wednesday, November 26, 2003. *
...

He had hiked several miles out of his way to help two American strangers, simply because he saw that we were lost.

That, in a nutshell, is Istanbul to me. I never met kinder or more gracious people anywhere.

During my two weeks in that city, I never heard a harsh word said about Americans or any other national group. No one ever uttered an ethnic or religious slur. They did not seem to have negative words for people who are different — they merely acknowledged the difference.

Now people are dying in Istanbul and President Bush says Turkey is a “front” in the war against terrorism. I don’t know what that means. I only know that I am sad.
posted by Hanan Cohen at 10:05 PM
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Via Sideshow, the Dems who voted for this rape of seniors that this presciption drug bill is:
  • Lincoln (Ark.)
  • Carper (Del.)
  • Miller (Ga.)
  • Breaux (La.)
  • Landrieu (La.)
  • Baucus (Mont.)
  • Nelson (Neb.)
  • Conrad (N.D.)
  • Dorgan (N.D.)
  • Wyden (Ore.)
  • Feinstein (Calif.)
Note that last name. Feinstein needs to go. We simply cannot have weak-livered Democrats in leadership positions.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:15 PM
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Tuesday, November 25, 2003. *
America built a prison and put the world on Death Row
My life is like a cage of pain ... Of course I am embarrassed to say this, with my easy life and available contentment all around me. I am shamed by men like Ernst Zundel, who languishes in his tiny prison cell in Canada, abused by callous guards and corrupt judges ... Of course, of course, and about American soldiers murdering innocent families in Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom, right? Freedom from life is what.
Meet John Kaminski. John and I have been internet freinds for a long time, and though I do not argree with everything he says, I respect him as a passionate advocate of what he believes. And he most totally believes in the liberation of Palestine.

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posted by Mischa Peyton at 4:21 PM
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Sorrows of Empire by Chalmers Johnson is a must read considering the news coming out about the direction America seems to be headed in.
"Although tyranny, because it needs no consent, may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people." -- Hannah Arendt, "The Origins of Totalitarianism"


posted by m at 10:45 AM
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America is a country that now sits atop the precarious latticework of myth. It is the myth that work provides rewards, that working people can support their families. It’s a myth that has become so divorced from reality that it might as well begin with the words “Once upon a time.”

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posted by Mischa Peyton at 9:15 AM
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Monday, November 24, 2003. *
MIAMI - We were loading our video equipment into the trunk of our car when a fleet of bicycle cops sped up and formed a semi-circle around us. The lead cop was none other than Miami Police Chief John Timoney. The former Police Commissioner of Philadelphia Timoney has a reputation for brutality and hatred of protesters of any kind. He calls them punks," "knuckleheads" and a whole slew of expletives. He coordinated the brutal police response to the mass-protests at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000. After a brief stint in the private sector, Timoney took the post of Miami police chief as part of Mayor Manny Diaz's efforts to "clean up the department."

We had watched him the night before on the local news in Miami praising his men for the restraint they had shown in the face of violent anarchists intent on destroying the city. In reality, the tens of thousands who gathered in Miami to protest the ministerial meetings of the Free Trade Area of the Americas summit were seeking to peacefully demonstrate against what they consider to be a deadly expansion of NAFTA and US-led policies of free trade. There were environmental groups, labor unions, indigenous activists from across the hemisphere, church groups, grassroots organizations, students and many others in the streets. What they encountered as they assembled outside the gates to the building housing the FTAA talks was nothing short of a police riot. It only took a few hours last Thursday before downtown Miami looked like a city under martial law.

On the news, Chief Timoney spoke in sober tones about the tear gas that demonstrators fired at his officers. No, that is not a typo. Timoney said the protesters were the ones launching the tear gas. He also said the demonstrators had hurled "missiles" at the police. "I got a lot of tear gas," Timoney said. "We all got gassed. They were loaded to the hilt. A lot of missiles, bottles, rocks, tear gas from the radicals."

Seeing Timoney up close and personal evokes this image of Mayor Daley at the '68 Democratic Convention ordering his men to shoot protesters on sight. He is that kind of guy.

Back at our car, Timoney hopped off his bike as a police cameraman recorded his every move. It all had the feel of being on an episode of COPS. He demanded the license and registration for the car. Our colleague Norm Stockwell of community radio station WORT in Madison, Wisconsin gave him his license. We informed him we were journalists. One of his men grabbed Norm's press pass, looking it over as though it was a fake. They looked at all of us with nasty snares before getting back on their bikes and preparing to continue on to further protect Miami. Timoney gave us this look that said, you got away this time but I'll be back. You could tell he was pissed off that we weren't anarchists (as far as he knew).

As Timoney was talking with his men, one of the guys on the bikes approached us with a notepad. "Can I have your names?" he asked.

I thought he was a police officer preparing a report. He had on a Miami police polo shirt, just like Timoney's. He had a Miami police bike helmet, just like Timoney's. He had a bike, just like Timoney's. In fact there was only one small detail that separated him from Timoney--a small badge around his neck identifying him as a reporter with the Miami Herald. He was embedded with Chief Timoney.

That reporter was one of dozens who were embedded with the Miami forces (it's hard to call them police), deployed to protect the FTAA ministerial meetings from thousands of unarmed protesters. In another incident, we saw a Miami Herald photographer who had somehow gotten pushed onto the "protesters side" of a standoff with the police. He was behind a line of young kids who had locked arms to try and prevent the police from advancing and attacking the crowds outside of the Inter-Continental Hotel. He was shouting at the kids to move so he could get back to the safe side. The protesters ignored him and continued with their blockade.

The photographer grew angrier and angrier before he began hitting one of the young kids on the line. He punched him in the back of the head before other journalists grabbed him and calmed him down. His colleagues seemed shocked at the conduct. He was a big, big guy and was wearing a bulletproof vest and a police issued riot helmet, but I really think he was scared of the skinny, dreadlocked bandana clad protesters. He had this look of panic on his face, like he had been in a scuffle with the Viet Cong.

Watching the embedded journalists on Miami TV was quite entertaining. They spoke of venturing into Protesterland as though they were entering a secret al Qaeda headquarters in the mountains of Afghanistan. Interviews with protest leaders were sort of like the secret bin Laden tapes. There was something risque, even sexy about having the courage to venture over to the convergence space (the epicenter of protest organizing at the FTAA) and the Independent Media Center. Several reporters told of brushes they had with "the protesters." One reporter was quite shaken after a group of "anarchists" slashed her news van's tires and wrote the word "propaganda" across the side door. She feared for the life of her cameraman, she somberly told the anchor back in the studio. The anchor warned her to be careful out there. [more]
It was hard to pick a selection from this--a must-read. You can also catch Jeremy Scahill recounting the same story verbally on today's Democracy Now! show.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:36 PM
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In a preview of his forthcoming book, Chalmers Johnson examines "the inescapable consequences of the national policies American elites chose after September 11, 2001," what he terms "the sorrows of empire."

Four sorrows, it seems to me, are certain to be visited on the United States. Their cumulative effect guarantees that the U.S. will cease to resemble the country outlined in the Constitution of 1787. First, there will be a state of perpetual war, leading to more terrorism against Americans wherever they may be and a spreading reliance on nuclear weapons among smaller nations as they try to ward off the imperial juggernaut. Second is a loss of democracy and Constitutional rights as the presidency eclipses Congress and is itself transformed from a co-equal "executive branch" of government into a military junta. Third is the replacement of truth by propaganda, disinformation, and the glorification of war, power, and the military legions. Lastly, there is bankruptcy, as the United States pours its economic resources into ever more grandiose military projects and shortchanges the education, health, and safety of its citizens.

...In my judgment, American imperialism and militarism are so far advanced and obstacles to its further growth have been so completely neutralized that the decline of the U.S. has already begun. The country is following the path already taken by its erstwhile adversary in the cold war, the former Soviet Union.

...There is only one development that could conceivably stop this cancerous process, and that is for the people to retake control of Congress, reform it and the election laws to make it a genuine assembly of democratic representatives, and cut off the supply of money to the Pentagon and the Central Intelligence Agency.

...I fear, however, that the U.S. has indeed crossed the Rubicon and that there is no way to restore Constitutional government short of a revolutionary rehabilitation of American democracy. Without root and branch reform, Nemesis awaits. She is the goddess of revenge, the punisher of pride and arrogance, and the United States is on course for a rendezvous with her. [more]
Sobering words from an author who, whether addressing "blowback," the march to war in Iraq, or a Phoenix Program for the 21st century, has proven to be an invaluable voice in the post-9/11 world.
posted by Bill at 8:08 PM
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Witness to the illegal Occupation of Palestine Tom Hurndall was killed last April by an IDF gunman as he sought to protect some children from Israeli gunfire last April.
The fact he was unarmed and wearing fluorescent clothing did not protect him from the high velocity rifle shot to the head. His family has turned off the severely brain damaged peace activists life support. He never regained consciousness.

His parents went to Israel to be by his side and bring him home. While there they went to see the place where he was shot. The checkpoint they needed to pass through was notified three times that they were going to arrive. Days before as well as when they set out, again ten minutes before their arrival. The British diplomatic convoy was fired upon from the watchtower at the checkpoint. Your tax dollars at work.
His family spent 17000 pounds to bring him home to Great Britain. Months later a check from the Israeli Defense Ministry for 8300 pounds arrived in the mail with a letter from Ambassador Zvi Stauber arrived in the mail. The check bounced.
Attorney General, General Menachem Finkelstein, after much work from the boys family has agreed to start an investigation concerning his shooting.
Ideally the investigation will be better than the check.
Read about Caoimhe Butterly, another life risking young activist who stands between children and the IDF.
Amiri Haas writes in Haaretz about another innocent child killed.
93 children have been killed by Palestinians. 449 have been killed by Israelis (figures collected early September 2003) .
ALL were innocent, they were kids.
posted by m at 3:44 PM
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Cockburn:

"Page's detailed and compelling case, based on his investigation of Murdoch's operations in Australia, Britain, the USA and the Chinese People's Republic, amounts to this: as an international operator, Murdoch offers his target governments a privatized version of a state propaganda service, manipulated without scruple and with no regard for truth. His price takes the form of vast government favors such as tax breaks, regulatory relief, monopoly markets and so forth. The propaganda is undertaken with the utmost cynicism, whether it's the stentorian fake populism and soft porn in the UK's Sun and News of the World, or shameless bootlicking of the butchers of Tiananmen Square."
posted by New World at 3:42 PM
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No matter what your feelings about the legitimacy or necessity of Israel's occupation of the W. Bank and Gaza, there can be few who would argue that is has been managed successfully, or that it should be a model for Iraq. From virtually every point of view, the Israeli model can be shown to be a failure, and yet the US War planners are increasingly asking for advice from Israel on how to:

"set up roadblocks to the best way to bomb suspected guerrilla hide-outs in an urban area." among other techniques.

Perhaps they would like to know more about how to drop massive bombs from F-16s into urban areas, or how to make sure to kill innocents virtually every single time an attack is made, or perhaps how to turn the population against them even more rapidly.
posted by A.Q. at 10:16 AM
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Did the Brits also have their own "Office of Special Plans"?
"Operation Rockingham [a unit set up by defence intelligence staff within the MoD in 1991] cherry-picked intelligence. It received hard data, but had a preordained outcome in mind. It only put forward a small percentage of the facts when most were ambiguous or noted no WMD... It became part of an effort to maintain a public mindset that Iraq was not in compliance with the inspections. They had to sustain the allegation that Iraq had WMD [when] Unscom was showing the opposite. ...

"Britain and America were involved [in the 1990s and up to 2003] in a programme of joint exploitation of intelligence from Iraqi defectors. There were mountains of information coming from these defectors, and Rockingham staff were receiving it and then selectively culling [picking out] reports that sustained the [WMD] claims. They ignored the vast majority of the data which mitigated against such claims."

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posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:49 AM
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Grabbing the booty and running: Bush
 
Chris Floyd finds a parallel the American POWs from WWII and Gulf War I in their subsequent treatment by the US administration:
Although the "conquest" of Iraq has unraveled into murderous chaos, at least the Bush Regime is winning its ferocious battle against another dangerous foe: American soldiers who were captured -- and tortured -- by Saddam Hussein's forces in the first Gulf War.

The Bushists' relentless fight to block the American captives from receiving any compensation from Iraq has eerie echoes of a similar move, more than 50 years ago, to prevent American victims of Japanese torture from filing legal claims against their tormentors. The two cases seem tied by a common ulterior motive: protecting war booty used as slush funds for "black ops" and crony kickbacks.

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posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:27 AM
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Sunday, November 23, 2003. *
Europeans are inherently anti-Semitic and their leaders are guilty of pushing a biased policy in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has told EUpolitix.com.

“What we are facing in Europe is an anti-Semitism that has always existed and it really is not a new phenomenon,” he argues in response to an EU poll that rated Israel above Iran and North Korea as a threat to world peace.

Sharon throws out the distinction between anti-Semitic beliefs and legitimate criticism of Israel’s policies in the Middle East.

“Today there is no separation. We are talking about collective anti-Semitism. The state of Israel is a Jewish state and the attitude towards Israel runs accordingly.” [more]
These remarks come on the heels of a report that the European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia (EUMC) has shelved a study of anti-semitism in Europe because, as the Financial Times put it, "the study concluded Muslims and pro-Palestinian groups were behind many of the incidents it examined."
posted by Bill at 10:25 PM
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George W. Bush will go down in history as America's worst environmental president. In a ferocious three-year attack, the Bush administration has initiated more than 200 major rollbacks of America's environmental laws, weakening the protection of our country's air, water, public lands and wildlife. Cloaked in meticulously crafted language designed to deceive the public, the administration intends to eliminate the nation's most important environmental laws by the end of the year. Under the guidance of Republican pollster Frank Luntz, the Bush White House has actively hidden its anti-environmental program behind deceptive rhetoric, telegenic spokespeople, secrecy and the intimidation of scientists and bureaucrats. The Bush attack was not entirely unexpected. George W. Bush had the grimmest environmental record of any governor during his tenure in Texas. Texas became number one in air and water pollution and in the release of toxic chemicals. In his six years in Austin, he championed a short-term pollution-based prosperity, which enriched his political contributors and corporate cronies by lowering the quality of life for everyone else. Now President Bush is set to do the same to America. After three years, his policies are already bearing fruit, diminishing standards of living for millions of Americans.

I am angry both as a citizen and a father. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:47 PM
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A Defense Ministry check, sent "without any admission of liability by the State of Israel and/or the Ministry of Defense" to the family of a International Solidarity Mission volunteer shot by an Israel Defense Forces soldier, bounced when the family tried to cash it earlier this week. The ISM volunteer was rendered incapacitated as a result of the gunshot wounds sustained last April.

The check for 8,370 pounds was sent to the family of Tom Hurndall, who was seriously wounded after being shot in the head by a soldier in the Rafah refugee camp. His family spent 17,000 pounds to take him home, and he has been hospitalized and connected to life-support machines ever since. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 12:12 PM
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Soros:

"Stock markets often give rise to a boom-bust process, or bubble. Bubbles do not grow out of thin air. They have a basis in reality—but reality as distorted by a misconception. Under normal conditions misconceptions are self-correcting, and the markets tend toward some kind of equilibrium. Occasionally, a misconception is reinforced by a trend prevailing in reality, and that is when a boom-bust process gets under way. Eventually the gap between reality and its false interpretation becomes unsustainable, and the bubble bursts.

Exactly when the boom-bust process enters far-from-equilibrium territory can be established only in retrospect. During the self-reinforcing phase participants are under the spell of the prevailing bias. Events seem to confirm their beliefs, strengthening their misconceptions. This widens the gap and sets the stage for a moment of truth and an eventual reversal. When that reversal comes, it is liable to have devastating consequences. This course of events seems to have an inexorable quality, but a boom-bust process can be aborted at any stage, and the adverse effects can be reduced or avoided altogether. Few bubbles reach the extremes of the information-technology boom that ended in 2000. The sooner the process is aborted, the better.

The quest for American supremacy qualifies as a bubble. The dominant position the United States occupies in the world is the element of reality that is being distorted. The proposition that the United States will be better off if it uses its position to impose its values and interests everywhere is the misconception. It is exactly by not abusing its power that America attained its current position."
posted by New World at 11:32 AM
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More than three dozen of President Bush's major fundraisers are affiliated with companies that stand to benefit from the passage of two central pieces of the administration's legislative agenda: the energy and Medicare bills.

The energy bill provides billions of dollars in benefits to companies run by at least 22 executives and their spouses who have qualified as either "Pioneers" or "Rangers," as well as to the clients of at least 15 lobbyists and their spouses who have achieved similar status as fundraisers. At least 24 Rangers and Pioneers could benefit from the Medicare bill as executives of companies or lobbyists working for them, including eight who have clients affected by both bills. [more]


Bush is nothing but a high-rent con man. He wants you to watch his one hand which speaks on and on about democracy and freedom ad infinitum/ad nauseum--while with his other he steals US elections, lies to the American people while sacrificing their lives and rapes the US Treasury with no lube and no condom. I agree with Michael Moore: unelection is not good enough for him; Bush and his gang all need to be frog-marched to the Hague. The world should settle for nothing less.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:21 AM
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CBS Editorial Director Dick Meyer:

"I believe there is now a professional, well-trained elite, supported by large institutions, that is adept and willing to use corrupt practices to accumulate wealth. Despite assurances from game-theorists and anthropologists that the criminal cadre in the species remains a constant percentage over time, I believe today's mainstream, sanitized, and institutionally sanctioned financial crime rackets are being run by a new breed of crook. There have always been scandals and crooks in the history of American money, but our predator class is a distinct creation of the late 20th century.

I believe there is no way the counter-class made up of regulators, watchdogs and do-gooders and hack columnists can match wits with the predator class. Today's piles of money are so huge, great fortunes can be amassed by swiping the tiniest of slices in the wiliest of ways long before picked pockets are discovered."
posted by New World at 11:12 AM
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The 101st Airborne Division said its soldiers in Mosul were shot while driving between U.S. garrisons. Several witnesses also said the soldiers were shot during the attack in the Ras al-Jadda district, though earlier reports by witnesses said assailants slit the soldiers' throats.


Bahaa Jassim, a teenager, said the soldiers' vehicle crashed into a wall after the shooting. Several dozen passers-by then descended on the wreckage, looting the car of weapons and the soldiers' backpacks.


After the soldiers' bodies fell into the street, the crowd pummeled them with concrete blocks, Jassim said. [more]


American military personnel funerals to date that Bush and Cheney have attended: 0.
posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:51 AM
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posted by Dr. Menlo at 10:44 AM
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The 2000 Presidential Election is the riveting story about the battle for the Presidency in Florida and the undermining of democracy in America. Filmmakers Richard Ray Pérez and Joan Sekler examine modern America's most controversial political contest: the election of George W. Bush. What emerges is a disturbing picture of an election marred by suspicious irregularities, electoral injustices, and sinister voter purges in a state governed by the winning candidate's brother. George W. Bush stole the presidency of the United States… and got away with it. " …the movie highlights those on the front lines —from the African-Americans who were turned away from the polling booths for assorted reasons. In one memorable scene the filmmakers freeze-frame a 'protest' against the ballot recount, identifying participants as staff members of Republican elected officials." --Elaine Dutka, Los Angeles Times (video)
posted by New World at 6:20 AM
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It's as natural as curry in Indian food: Al-Qaida is cited in every terrorist attack everywhere in the world. Western intelligence officials are quick to attach the al-Qaida label to every unsolved case of terrorism. The attacks in Iraq? Al-Qaida is involved, along with supporters of Saddam Hussein. Turkey? Al-Qaida, in collaboration with the Islamic Great Eastern Raiders group. Jordan? Al-Qaida, together with local elements. And it's the same in Chechnya, Kashmir and Morocco.
...
Al-Qaida is alive and kicking, but replacing all the local terrorist organizations with one "world" organization is liable to make it possible for governments to absolve themselves of responsibility for taking action. Governments prefer to attribute their failures to the activity of "foreign elements," which, of course, have to be dealt with by some sort of "world community" and not by them.
posted by Hanan Cohen at 1:36 AM
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Saturday, November 22, 2003. *
The most powerful weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed -- Steve Biko

Ignorance and force are strangling our Democracy. Look at the picture below. Is this what Democracy looks like?
I'm guessing if you care about our country enough to seek out the news for yourself you have read about the interview with Tommy Franks ( linked earlier here, scroll down), where he speculates that another 9/11 type attack or worse will allow our leaders to push the citizenry to give up our Constitution.
“It means the potential of a weapon of mass destruction and a terrorist, massive, casualty-producing event somewhere in the Western world – it may be in the United States of America – that causes our population to question our own Constitution and to begin to militarize our country in order to avoid a repeat of another mass, casualty-producing event. Which in fact, then begins to unravel the fabric of our Constitution. Two steps, very, very important.”

If you haven't noticed already the reactionary Right is working hard to make this a police state as it is; what I hear Franks saying is that the mighty Wurlitzer of Corporate anti-Americans are setting " We the People" (by that I mean "regular folks like you and I, when the wants, needs and aspirations of the citizenry are termed "special interests" and corporate needs are "mainstream" you can see my point) up using the collaborative media they own through advertising dollars and interlocking boards of directorates to make us our own jailers in it. Use this tool from the Columbia Journalism Review to see just how those media companies control our information environment.
Here is what is going on in Britain, the one country in the world to walk lockstep with the (now revealed) lies of the GOP Neocon death machine:
Once an emergency has been proclaimed by the Queen, the Government can order the destruction of property, order people to evacuate an area or ban them from travelling, and "prohibit assemblies of specified kinds" and "other specified activities".

If these rules had been in force during the Iraq war, critics say, they could have been used to to ban street demonstrations, making anyone who travelled to protest guilty of a criminal offence.

Is this getting your attention? I have written about The Big Lie technique before, quoting Adolf Hitler , in relation to the attack on Iraq. Read his words.
Another fitting quote from the man corporate Germany put in power who sacrificed his people and nation on the altar of power:
By means of shrewd lies, unremittingly repeated, it is possible to make people believe that heaven is hell -- and hell heaven. The greater the lie, the more readily it will be believed.

There is a history of the government in power misleading the people for the governments ends. Project Northwoods, never acted on, is frightening for its open contempt of Democracy and human life. is one many people are unaware of. The Tonkin Gulf incident is more widely known but not widely enough. Do you here its treachery debated when our less aware friends talk about the necessity of the Viet Nam war? The USS Liberty, had it been sunk after its 2 hour multi-pronged attack by Israeli forces would have had the US embroiled in the Middle east conflict of 1967; who could believe our allies the Israelis did it, of course the Egyptians would wear the blame.
With many prior warnings ignored, regular air defense procedures ignored, a president seemingly unfazed by the news- well you get the 9/11 picture. Judge for yourself. The present administration sure isn't cooperating with the current investigation. Do you remember the Bush "trifecta" joke? He may have won his trifecta on an inside bet.
Think for yourself. Search out truth.
Edward Abbey said it well.
Defiance is beautiful. The defiance of power, especially great or overwhelming power, exalts and glorifies the rebel."

America demands our attention and vigor.
posted by m at 10:50 PM
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Friday, November 21, 2003. *
War on terror creates the preconditions for more terror

A bunch of articles have popped up in the past few days warning of Al Qaeda's resurgence.

Most of the pieces link the recent spate of bombings in Turkey and Saudi Arabia with a new strategy that, according to the LA Times, "illustrates that Al Qaeda has survived by mutating into a more decentralized network relying on local allies to launch more frequent attacks on varied targets." In other words, the group is now more into franchising than carrying out its own operations. Time Magazine elaborates:

The paradox of al-Qaeda in the two years since 9/11 has been that while the efforts of U.S. and allied intelligence agencies have battered its core transnational networks, al-Qaeda as a movement or an idea — as distinct from a narrow clandestine organizational network — has actually grown. Analysts believe the international intelligence and security cooperation has severely impeded al-Qaeda's ability to conduct highly sophisticated transnational terror operations such as the attacks in New York and Washington, but that Bin Laden's movement has adapted by morphing into a far more decentralized entity relying principally on the structures and energies of pre-existing local groups ideologically in synch with al-Qaeda.
Thus, Dave Montgomery and Warren P. Strobel of Knight Ridder Newspapers warn that the group "is as lethal as ever, despite the U.S.-led war on terrorism. The organization essentially is reinventing itself to compensate for losses in its ranks."

Now, where does Iraq fit into this scenario? Montgomery and Strobel report that, to correspond with this reorganization, "the United States has diverted more than half the manpower and technology that had been targeted on al-Qaida to the war in Iraq."

Furthermore, Germany's foreign spy chief has warned that "Anti-American and anti-Western sentiment is growing out of anger at the U.S.-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict," which Al Qaeda is exploiting to help fill its ranks. He's not yelling at the wind, either. Recall the Pew Center poll from a few months ago, "Views of a Changing World 2003," which found that Anti-American sentiment went through the roof over the past year. As one might suspect, the animosity is greatest in the Muslim world.

The war on terror, in short, is breeding more terrorists and more people sympathetic to Al Qaeda's aims. Bush can trumpet the point that the US is hunting down and killing "evil-doers," but the simple fact is that US policy, rather than "draining the swamp" of discontent, is filling it to the point of overflow.
posted by Bill at 11:49 PM
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"There can be no peace without law. And there can be no law if we were to invoke one code of conduct for those who oppose us and another for our friends" --President Dwight Eisenhower


How can it be that International Law is applied only to who the United States chooses? If you take a look at thirty years of United States vetoes at the UN you get a sense of a certain bias, a bias reflected in the latest veto concerning the Israeli Apartheid Wall, as it often happens the sole veto. Selective justice is not justice.

Could selective justice be why the US and Israel are seen by many to be the largest threats to world peace?

David Ben Gurion, wrote to his son 11 years before the birth of the Jewish state: "Negev land is reserved for Jewish citizens whenever and wherever they want. We must expel the Arabs and take their place." By 1951, fewer than 13,000 inhabitants remained of a community that numbered somewhere between 70,000 and 90,000 in the late 1940s.


In Israel another people that suffer for State want of their land are the semi-nomadic Bedouins. Although they have lived on their lands for 1000 years or more the state of Israel create retroactive zoning laws classifying the areas of their villages "non-residential", making the Bedoins traditional homesites illegal. It also allows the Israeli government not provide essential services such as electricity, water and sanitation. Since there are no municipalities, these people cannot get a license to build. Their traditional proofs of ownership are not recognized by Israeli courts. These citizens are also subject to having their homes destroyed so they can be moved to cramped towns where they cannot practice their traditional way of life.
The Bedouin who had not fled or been terrorized from their tribal lands during the war were "transferred" in the 1950s, either to the center of the country, to ghettoes attached to towns like Ramle and Lod, where many work as low-wage manual laborers.
furthermore
The Negev area in which the Bedouin were concentrated came to be known as the "siege zone": a ring of Jewish settlements was established to contain the Bedouin, while their lands were further whittled away through the construction of industrial areas, more military zones and conservation parks, and an airport. Each village was encircled and separated from its neighbors by new Jewish farms, settlements or development towns. Today the Bedouin, a quarter of the Negev's population, occupy just 2 percent of its land.


Negez is home to Israel's Nuclear Reactor, as well as the states Nuclear arsenal. WMD's for short.
PM Ben Gurion consistently refused to allow international inspections. The final resolution was a commitment from Israel to use the facility for peaceful purposes, and an agreement to admit a US inspection team once a year. These inspections, begun in 1962 and continued until 1969, were only shown the above-ground part of the buildings, which continued down many levels underground. The above ground areas had simulated control rooms, and access to the underground areas was kept bricked up while the inspectors where present.

The government of Israel had atomic weapons by 1967 or '69 depending on the source of information. Israel now has submarines carrying US supplied Harpoon cruise missiles fitted with nuclear warheads

"Why should I move into a recognized village. My family has been on this land since before the Turks came, before the British, before the Israelis. There are 1,500 Bedouin buried in our family plot, that's how long we have been here," -- Abu Jledan

The man quoted above has to deal with punitive measures dealt out by the so called "Green Patrol" a paramilitary "environmental" group founded by then agricultural minister Ariel Sharon to destroy homes and confiscate Bedouin livestock. They also oversee the spraying of these people's food crops with herbicide.

Just so you are clear; the folks suffering all this at the hands of Israel are not the people who's plight is so easily palmed off with the epithet "Terrorist". Yet these indigenous souls suffer the same blatant disregard for property rights, human rights and life itself.
But the native never lost his "last spark of hope". The spark was not extinguished in 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were terrorized, uprooted and expelled, several decades after Moshe Sharret announced, "We have not come to an empty land but we have come to conquer a country from people inhabiting it"; several years after David Ben-Gurion declared, "I support compulsory transfer. I do not see anything immoral in it"; and several months after Menachem Begin gloated over "a splendid act of conquest " the rape and massacre of 254 Palestinians at Deir Yassin. The spark was not extinguished in 1967, when Israel grabbed the remaining 22% of Palestine and began its military occupation as its war hero Moshe Dayan kindly informed the natives, "You shall continue to live like dogs."

"Possession is nine-tenths of the law," says Michael Jankelowitz, liaison to foreign media for the Jewish Agency for Israel, the chief overseas beneficiary of the North American federation system that is helping Israel finance the plan.

How blind, how morally blind need one be to miss the irony of that statement? And why does the truth about land issues not appear in the media?
Imagine the ruckus to be raised if we in America had a paramilitary environmental group. And rightly so I'd have to say if the paramilitary groups main focus was collective punishment that had a rascist genocidal focus. What does it say about a country that claims to be a Democracy that only grants full citizenship with all it's benefits to only one group of its population? That practices collective punishment that includes the destruction of homes as well as food crops?

We in America need to be aware of the truth in these matters. As the UN and the Palestinian people push for peace the Likud party of Ariel Sharon defies the will of that world wide Democratic body, the very Democratic body that breathed life into the dreams of Zionists for a homeland in Palestine by creating Israel in 1948; to grasp at land and water resources that International law clearly states belongs to the people it always has. The people who lived on that soil for untold generations. And our US tax dollars help enable this.When Tom Delay can say
"I didn't see any occupied territory, I only saw Israel."

you are hearing a denial of International Law, of UN Mandate and it should trouble you. I have heavily linked this post so you can use it as a learning tool. "A land without people for a people without land" is a propaganda slogan widely circulated. Learn the truth behind the headlines. Politicians crave PAC money for their campaigns from people with a bent not for justice but for domination. For land but not life. Stand up for the truth.

Tricks and Treachery are the practice of fools who don't have the brains to be honest"--Benjamin Franklin

posted by m at 10:49 PM
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According to right wing website NewsMax.com, General Tommy Franks suggests in an interview with Cigar Aficionado that "if the United States is hit with a weapon of mass destruction that inflicts large casualties, the Constitution will likely be discarded in favor of a military form of government."
posted by Bill at 6:42 PM
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Following the AFL-CIO march, some protesters threw smoke bombs and set fires. WFOR-TV CBS4
Demonstrators attempt to pull down a fence while protesting the Free Trade Area of the Americas conference Thursday. LUIS M. ALVAREZ/AP
posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:57 AM
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A statue of U.S. President George Bush is toppled in London's Trafalgar Square, Thursday Nov. 20, 2003, in a reenactment of the destruction of Saddam Hussein's statue in Baghdad, as part of a demonstration against President Bush's state visit to Britain. (AP Photo/PA, Sean Dempsey)
posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:17 AM
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Diebold has been using coercive legal claims to intimidate internet service providers and even universities to shut down websites with links to its memos and remove the memo content. Under copyright laws, however, universities are exempt, and posting links to the memos is not considered a violation of the law. By abusing the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, Diebold has intimidated numerous internet service providers to comply with its requests. The damage is two-fold: 1) limiting the public’s information about the security of its voting machines, and 2) expanding corporate control over our most free medium of expression, the Internet.

Congressman Kucinich is working to address these problems by providing some of Diebold’s internal memos on this site to increase public access, drafting legislation to address software security problems, and working to investigate Diebold’s legal abuses.
posted by Cyndy at 6:21 AM
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Thursday, November 20, 2003. *
For a while we had the Petersons to obsess the mainstream television media. Then we had Kobe Bryant, and for a bit both stories ran concurrently with 'Breaking News' announcements throughout daily coverage. Neither managed to seize national attention, and so periodically CNN and the other networks were forced to mention that the fighting in Iraq is getting a lot of Americans killed, the promised weapons of mass destruction have not been found, and no one but Dick Cheney can say that Iraq was involved in September 11 without looking like a total blithering idiot.

And then, like a surgically enhanced cavalry charge, Michael Jackson blasts to the forefront to rescue the mainstream media from perhaps being required to cover matters of substance. The ability for these talking heads to natter on for weeks and weeks about Jackson, previous charges against him, his musical history, his personal oddities, his baby-dangling antics, and "Oh my goodness, what do we tell the children?" is pretty much bottomless, but we will spend the next several weeks, again, racing to that bottom as quickly as television signals can travel through a coaxial cable. [more]
posted by Bill at 6:48 PM
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It's just one guy's opinion, I guess. But it's odd that the one guy happens to be close Bush confidant Richard Perle.
posted by soyjoy at 6:28 PM
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Wednesday, November 19, 2003. *
"Israel should freeze settlement construction, dismantle unauthorized outposts, end the daily humiliation of the Palestinian people and not prejudice final negotiations with the placements of walls and fences." --George W. Bush, November 19th, Whitehall Palace, England.
posted by A.Q. at 11:58 PM
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Bush is Lord?


Bill Connolly has been doing great work documenting the phenomena of Bush's staged photo ops with strategically-placed visual cues placed into the frame. Found this one on Indy Media.

posted by Dr. Menlo at 8:53 PM
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Via t r u t h o u t, a London Observer article by Ed Vulliamy. I can't even begin to offer a comment on this. These people need to be permanently removed from polite society.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:29 PM
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Tuesday, November 18, 2003. *
  Ken Goti died:  
A good while ago actuallly. I didn't know because I had left my "homeless period" a good while back also. Kenny was with me during those years. You didn't hear about this because when someone like Ken Goti dies, it isn't newsworthy.

My "homeless period" lasted perhaps eight years. Though I was frequently homeless during that time, it was perhaps only a quarter of that time that I was actually homeless. I refer to it as my "homeless period" because during this time I was required to submit to outrageous demands simply to have a roof over my head. It might have been a motel room with cockroaches that took 90% of my minimum wage takehome pay, or it could just have been half the rent for one tenth of the benefits of where I stayed. It did not matter. Mostly, it beat sleeping under a tree. Not always, however. Once in a while, the demands got so outrageous that I would simply pack my stuff and go back to that tree.

I met Ken Goti early on during this time when I first went to a labor pool. Kenny had actually been a pilot on an aircraft carrier during his service years. He actually had steered one of those big ships for several years.

In a labor poll, most of the people you work with are not that good. That is perhaps why they are there. Others, however, are quite extraordinary. Kenny was one of these. He was the one that everyone else wanted to work with.

Though I knew nothing of the trades when I first when to these pools, I quickly became one of these few desired work partners. It's simply called getting the job done. A few of us (like Kenny) seemed to instictively know how to do this. That's why people followed us. People like us however needed to be spread across different contracts to quiet the protests of those who had hired our labor pool, and both of us were often sent out on a contract simply to quiet these protests. The hiring company would see that they had gotten someone who was real good, and they would be happy.

It was for this reason that it was actually many years before I ever got to work with Kenny. In fact, he requested me on his assignment. It was a great experience. Working with Kenny made working for minimum wage seem easy. There was a real sense when you were working with Kenny that your work actually made a difference. I've held many higher paid jobs since then, but none with more satisfaction that those few days provided. I was very good, and thought myself the best, but after those days working with Kenny, I understood that I was merely second best. Not below Kenny by much, but below just the same. I didn't mind it a bit though. Neither Kenny nor I were ever ones to make such comparisons back then, and I make mine here only in requium. But let me back up a little here.

By the time this had happened, my homeless period was ended. By this time, I knew quite well the almost insurmountable difficulties of escaping homelessness. I took it upon myself to try to provide that escape on many occasions to many people. A roof and no rent, and use it wisely. This was a disaster. I was being ripped off left and right. Until Kenny came along.

I was walking home one night when I encoutered him with his posssessions on his back. "What's up?" I asked. He also couldn't stand his roommate, and was going to the trees as I had often done before. I certainly by this time understood his sentiments, but I said no, come stay with me.

I told Kenny that I would not charge him rent; that to do so would only delay his exit from my offer. I also told him that I would not place a timelimit on the offer, knowing by this time how very difficult it is to escape homelessness.

Kenny took me up on my offer, and it was two weeks later that he said that he had gotten a place and was moving out. My only success in offering the help that I wanted to provide.

You have to understand what Kenny was. Kenny was forever reaching out. He was forever reaching out to his coworkers, inspiring them to be better. He was forever reaching out to his superiors, trying to show them that he was really that much better. And he really was that much better.

Ken Goti was reaching out as he always did when the scaffolding he was working on collapsed. Ken Goti died in that collapse. When he did, our country lost one of the best citizens it had.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 9:28 PM
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Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh may have violated state money-laundering laws in the way he handled the money he used to buy the prescription drugs to which he was addicted, law enforcement officials in Florida and New York told ABCNEWS.

A conviction on such charges in Florida would be a first-degree felony, punishable by up to 30 years in prison.
Tee-hee.

via Steve Gilliard
posted by thistle at 4:55 PM
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The truth is…there is nothing special about President Bush. Like every other modern president, he has launched wars, told half-truths and untruths, and acted in the interests of America's capitalist elite - hardly Stop the Press stuff. So why the deeply hostile reaction to his arrival in Britain, everywhere from the backrooms of Downing Street to the front pages of the papers to the ranks of the anti-capitalist and anti-war movements? [more]
posted by Bill at 12:31 PM
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TIKRIT, Iraq — In a tactic reminiscent of Israeli crackdowns in the West Bank and Gaza, the U.S. military has begun destroying the homes of suspected guerrilla fighters in Iraq's Sunni Triangle, evacuating women and children, then leveling their houses with heavy weaponry. [more]
"Hey, this is just like Gaza, isn't it?"

And meanwhile, around Baghdad, the US military is hard at work with "Operation Iron Hammer."
posted by Bill at 12:07 PM
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An interesting article about the various forces at work in Israel's largest and most important public institution.
posted by A.Q. at 9:39 AM
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'According to documents ordered declassified by the Assassination Records Review
Board, the Joints Chiefs of Staff in 1962 approved a plan-codenamed Operation Northwoods-to create a
pretext for an invation of Cuba. The Joint Chiefs recommended developing a "terror campaign in Miami,
Washington, DC, and elsewhere, which would be blamed on Cuba. Ships would be bombed, planes hijacked, and
innocent Americans killed, producing "casualty lists" which "would cause a helpful wave of national
indignation." On March 13, 1962, the plan was sent to Secretary of Defense Rober McNamara, who presented it
to President John F. Kennedy...'
posted by steven at 2:55 AM
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Monday, November 17, 2003. *
posted by Dr. Menlo at 11:35 PM
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What sort of Democracy will Mr Bush and company allow in Iraq? We know what type of "Democracy" they are hoping for:
... "and then Washington would have the best of all worlds: an iron-fisted Iraqi junta without Saddam Hussein," a return to the happy days when Saddam's "iron fist...held Iraq together, much to the satisfaction of the American allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia," not to speak of the boss in Washington.

Remember when the US attack on Iraq was imminent? Right Wing Neo-Fascist leader of Spain Jose Maria`Aznar and Italy's Leader with Fascist roots (and Cabinet ministers) Silvio Berlusconi with 80% and 70% of their population against joining US aggression signed on to the Bush administrations war agenda, giving the word "Coalition" respectability in the US press.
One country stood by it's citizen's will, resisting both US bribery and pressure. Turkey. Here's what the former US ambassador has to say about this amazing and uncharacteristic democratic move.
... explained by former Ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, now a distinguished senior statesman and commentator. Ten years ago, he explained, Turkey was governed by a real democrat, Turgut Ozal, who “overrode his countrymen’s pronounced preference to stay out of the Gulf war.” But democracy has declined in Turkey. The current leadership “is following the people,” revealing its lack of “democratic credentials.” “Regrettably,” he says, “for the US there is no Ozal around.”

Paul Wolfowitz on this issue:
Wolfowitz directed sharp criticism at Turkey, indicating that its refusal to allow deployment of 62,000 troops on its soil was a mistake and urging the country to change this attitude.

He goes on to say:
Wolfowitz told the CNN-Turk that he was particularly disappointed with the Turkish military.

"I think for whatever reason, they did not play the strong leadership role
and attitude that we would have expected," he said.

A Turkish politician says it loud and proud.
"Turkey is a democratic country and everybody that appreciates the functioning of the true democracy should respect this," said Deniz Baykal, leader of the opposition Republican People's Party (CHP).

Baykal's CHP voted as a bloc against a government motion requesting authorization for U.S. troops that was voted down in a March 1 vote in Parliament with a narrow margin of four votes.


Some folks obviously are unclear about what a Democracy is. Aznar will not be running in Spain in 2004. Spanish folks know what Democracy is about after having a Fascist leader like Franco.
Some assert it against all odds.
Where do you stand?
posted by m at 11:01 PM
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Feeling a Draft? Part Dieux
DU SCOOP! (must read) $28 Million to get DRAFT READY BY JUNE 15, 2005!!

Read this official budget carefully and you will see that Bush is gearing up the draft--there is no longer any doubt about it. Selective Service must report to Bush on March 31, 2005, that the system is ready for activation within 75 days. So on June 15, 2005, expect the announcement that the first draft lottery since Vietnam will be held for 20 year-olds.

And indeed the Selective Service System is gearing up by trying to fill vacancies in long-dormant draft boards.

A vote for Bush in 2004 is a vote to reinstate the draft in 2005? Something to think about.
posted by Don Durito at 7:27 PM
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Mr Livingstone recalled a visit at Easter to California, where he was denounced for an attack he had made on what he called "the most corrupt and racist American administration in over 80 years".

The mayor said: "Some US journalist came up to me and said: 'How can you say this about President Bush?' Well, I think what I said then was quite mild. I actually think that Bush is the greatest threat to life on this planet that we've most probably ever seen. The policies he is initiating will doom us to extinction."

Mr Livingstone, who is holding a "peace party" for anti-war groups in City Hall tomorrow, added: "I don't formally recognise George Bush because he was not officially elected. So we are organising an alternative reception for everybody who is not George Bush." [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 6:54 PM
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Sunday, November 16, 2003. *
A gedanken experiment: What if the US were invaded and occupied by the Russian and Chinese armies in a manner that is similar to what the US and Great Britain have done in their invasion and occupation in Iraq? The post and the ensuing comments make for some generally thoughtful reading.
posted by Don Durito at 8:03 PM
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David Neiwert of Orcinus follows up on his recent "Creeping Fascism" post with "Hatred, anger, and the 2004 election", in which he addresses the increasing tone of violence in the rhetoric of the Right against those with whom they disagree (us). This is an important topic that I've mentioned a number of times over the past year both in my own posts and in my comments to others' posts. Neiwert presents a good history in this post of the development of this meme recently.

As someone who came of age during the Vietnam protests, I find the parallels between then and now to be most obvious: Now, as then, this violence and eliminationist meme is being fostered by the more extreme conservative pundits. Now, as then, as the Left begins to win the argument by strength of reason and real world events, the disagreement of the Right turns to anger, the anger turns to hatred, and the hatred turns to talk of violence against the Left. Once this meme of violence is firmly established, each of the pundits then seek to "out-do" each other on it, gradually ratcheting up the description of violence, all the while claiming quite disengenuously that they are not actually advocating for this violence. And yet now, as then, there is no other end possible to this; the times may have changed but people remain the same. Then, it was Kent State. Now, it will be somewhere else, but it will be somewhere. And now, as then, the punishment will fall only upon the victims of that violence as the pundits all creep away to hide behind the red, white, and blue of their faux patriotism.

And the chimp smirks because he cannot smile.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 11:01 AM
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Saturday, November 15, 2003. *
Dreamers and Idiots
From a trio of articles in The Guardian over the last few days, we gain some additional perspective about the high-level political dealings during the run-up to the Iraq War:
In "Bush and Blair - the betrayal" (Sidney Blumenthal, 11/14), we learn that it was not Colin Powell's suggestion that moved Bush into seeking a UN resolution against iraq, but rather Tony Blair's insistence that Bush do so as a condition of Britain's support. We learn that when the last resolution failed, it was Blair who insisted that Bush revive the Israel/Palestein peace process (which Bush had abandoned) for the continued support of Britain. We learn that Tony Blair stuck his neck out irretrievably in the good faith belief that George Bush was a man of his word. Bad move, Tony.

In "Sharon broke vow to Bush" (Chris McGreal, 11/14), we find Ariel Sharon promising Bush to dismantle settlements, but only doing so for photo-ops for the press. Instead (as a leaked memo from the Israeli foreign ministry points out), their claim "that Israel has fulfilled its side of the 'road map' is seen as lacking credibility because not only have we not evacuated the illegal outposts, we are working in every way to whitewash their existence and build more." Sure.

Finally, George Monbiot puts together as no one else can the increasingly desparate peace offers from Saddam during the run-up in "Dreamers And Idiots" (11/12). As Bush said, "It's Saddam's choice" between war and peace. The American people "can know that every measure has been taken to avoid war." Except that it wasn't and we can't. It was the exact opposite to what we were told by George Bush and Tony Blair.

And it wasn't only Saddam who was offering peace. It was also the Taliban in Afghanistan, ... except that George Bush turned them down also. So George Bush, when offered a choice between peace and war, always opts for war. And as always, Muslims are expendable.

So everyone betrays everyone. Blair betrays the British people. Bush betrays Blair and the American people. Sharon betrays Bush and the Israeli people. And always, always, always, ... Sharon and the Lukidites at the bottom of the mess in the Middle East. That's one hell of a way to run foreign affairs.

And the chimp smirks because he cannot smile.

posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:02 PM
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Osama bin Laden may be winning the war against the United States. This is not because the Bush administration is facing difficulties in Afghanistan and Iraq (though the two cases reflect the limitations of hard, military power, even one as predominant as America) but because America is doing unto itself what bin Laden wanted it to do — i.e., lose its real strength, which is its pluralism, its democracy.

A recent example of this destructive process is the passage at the House of Representatives of HR 3077, the International Studies in Higher Education Act, which will force “university international studies departments to show more support for American foreign policy or risk their federal funding”.

...

The American rightwing is using its current political domination to also put in the last word on the ‘culture wars’ in US universities. Conservative think tanks and neocon scholars in the academy, it seems, are not likely to stop at anything short of straitjacketing American schools in the neoconservative ideology and putting down alternative thinking and formulations. If this process were allowed to take root, it would spell the death of freethinking in America.

But what does it mean in the context of the war on terrorism? Bin Laden has put America in a paradox. He used America’s soft power to attack the US. He knew the US response would be to immediately rely on its hard power. Insecurity often does that and it requires a great degree of sophistication to take a deep breath and understand the adversary’s strategy. It is one of the great ironies of history, of course, that he should have found, lodged in the White House, a kindred spirit in George W Bush, one who believes as much in invoking God to fight the infidels as bin Laden himself. So the bin Laden script began to unfold. The mixture of fear and anger has since led the US to flex its military muscle outside and resort to paranoid legislation at home. By far the worst of the two phenomena is what America has done to itself internally even as it gropes in the dark outside “to bring democracy to the Middle East” and “security for itself” at home.

Here lies another paradox. The neocons want to bring democracy to Iraq and, by extension, to the Middle East. But while they want to go out in the world and foist democracy on the Middle East, they and others in their camp are peeling off democracy’s many layers within the United States. The question is: Should less democracy within be the price for more of it without? Indeed, can it be? [more]
I trust I'm not the only American here who finds it repugnant that we need lecturing from a Pakistani newspaper on the merits of an open society. No offense to Pakistanis, of course, but this is a testimonial to how far the United States has sunk in recent years.

Further background on HR 3077 can be found here, which I previously posted on American Samizdat.
posted by Bill at 5:21 PM
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It's too easy to continue down this worn path. We've set up our blogs (a hard experience for many of us) and now we pass around our links and comments to the same visitors ad nauseum. We try to find out if one of our regular high-brow reads has found a scoop no one else has posted so that we can be one of the first to re-post and gloatingly cite the high-brow source. There are so many liberal bloggers out there, we've diluted ourselves to the state of uselessness. And to add insult to injury, many of the more popular sites have a perpetual hat out for donations. Good old capitalism.

...We are all wasting our time assuming that a Democrat in the White House will solve our problems. What proof exists that such a thing could possibly happen, that our fortunes will magically reverse? It isn't going to happen, because the White House isn't in charge. Republican Big Business is in charge. Once we all come to grips with this reality, then we can start returning the basic fabric of our society to the people.

Nothing less than a true revolution will accomplish this. [more]
Easier said than done, but food for thought nonetheless...
posted by Bill at 4:19 PM
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Milestones:
     The 400th U.S. soldier died Friday in Iraq.

Total Fatalities since May 1st "Mission Accomplished" speech: 263
US deaths since July 2nd "Bring Them On" speech: 197

Average Fatalities/Day, October: 1.45
Average Fatalities/Day, November: 4.27

Source: Iraq Coalition Casualty Count

posted by Mischa Peyton at 7:45 AM
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Friday, November 14, 2003. *
In addition to the 397 service members who have died and the 1,967 wounded, 6,861 troops were medically evacuated for non-combat conditions between March 19 and Oct. 30, the Army Surgeon General's office said.

That brings total casualties among all services to more than 9,200, and represents an increase of nearly 3,000 non-combat medical evacuations reported since the first week of October. The Army offered no immediate explanation for the increase. [more]
posted by Bill at 10:20 PM
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A grass roots movement to stop the wall, which is shaping up to be the defining anti-occupation movement for both Palestinians and foreigners.
posted by A.Q. at 3:01 PM
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Ashcroft washes blood from his hands.Chris Floyd returns with his weekly op-ed:
"There is a horrible scandal eating away the heart of the American body politic. Among the many corrupted currents loosed upon the nation by the Bush Regime, this scandal is perhaps the worst, for it abets all the others and breeds new pestilence, new perversions at every turn."
So what is this scandal? Is it sending people off to foreign lands where we know they will be tortured? Is it our own torture centers overseas? Is it the arbitrary designation of "an enemy combatant"?

No. It's us.



Gore Vidal carries Chris' idea further:
"But then, [Benjamin] Franklin said, it will fail, as all such constitutions have in the past, because of the essential corruption of the people. He pointed his finger at all the American people. And when the people become so corrupt, he said, we will find it is not a republic that they want but rather despotism — the only form of government suitable for such a people."
posted by Mischa Peyton at 1:31 PM
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(via Smart Mobs)
posted by ashleyb at 12:57 PM
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"This is no case of bad intelligence estimates or miscalculation. Based on his ideology, as articulated in his speech last week, Bush doesn't care how many lies he must tell or how much blood must be shed to impose the will of the U.S. in Iraq. For him, this is a holy war."
posted by Mischa Peyton at 12:31 PM
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Thursday, November 13, 2003. *
An interesting post from Dave Pollard's blog that's well-worth reading and pondering. He argues that violence and its proximal causes are really responses to critical environmental stressors such as overpopulation.

From controlled animal experiments, there is evidence that extreme environmental stress (in this case overcrowding) does lead to a number of anti-social behaviors, including the following in rats (paraphrasing Pollard's summary):


1. a minority display aggressively dominant behavior
2. passive males avoid both fighting and sex
3. hyperactive subordinates rape females and eat or kill their offspring
4. pan sexual males engage in sexual intercourse with both males and females
5. some males withdraw sexually and socially and tend to be active only while others are asleep
6. females tend to react by acting absent-minded, keeping disorganized nests, and eating or neglecting their offspring


The main thrust to the above is that under excessively overcrowded conditions, animals will respond by engaging in various forms of abuse and neglect of offspring, social withdrawal, excessively aggressive behavior among the dominant members of the species, and what amounts to psychopathic behavior among a subset of subordinant members of the species. Animal species will also show a drop in fertility rates as the population density reaches saturation. Does this appear to describe today's human condition? Perhaps offer an explanation for much of the political and social violence that we are witnessing at interpersonal, national and international levels? I lean towards the answer "yes."

Here's the theoretical model Dave Pollard proposes:

a. Communities/species that are moderately out of ecological balance instinctively and temporarily reduce their population

b. Communities/species that are severely out of ecological balance reduce their population and also exhibit psychotic behaviours (violence, rape, cruelty, bullying, greed, depression, suicide, megalomania) that accelerate, and draw out the period of, population reduction

c. These two self-imposed population control mechanisms are Darwinian, helping to restore balance with the minimum amount of disruption to the rest of the ecosystem, and the mimumum extent of suffering

d. A combination of human technologies introduced in the last 30 millennia has defeated the effectiveness of these mechanisms, perpetuating and institutionalizing the psychotic, violent behaviour that has made modern human society dysfunctional, mentally disordered, and brutal


I think there's some real food for thought here. Worth pondering.
posted by Don Durito at 11:09 PM
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Margie Schoedinger, the woman who allegedly filed a lawsuit against George W. Bush in December 2002, claiming that she had been raped, has died of a gunshot wound to the head, registered officially as "suicide".

The allegations were serious: the law suit apparently filed against George W. Bush in the County Civil Court in Fort Bend County, Texas, on 2nd December 2002, claimed that George Bush, the former Governor or Texas and current President of the United States of America, had committed "individual sex crimes" against her and her husband.

Margie Schoedinger further stated that after the claim, she had been harassed, that her bank account had been interfered with, that she had been threatened and beaten. She claimed 1 million USD in actual damages plus 49 million USD in punitive damages and emotional stress caused by the alleged incidents. [more]
posted by Dr. Menlo at 9:24 PM
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Jesus' General gets jiggy with Chocolate Clusterbomb and sticks up for Arnold.
posted by madamjujujive at 8:00 PM
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David Neiwart of Orcinus reports in a long post on the implications of comments by conservative commentators that are becoming increasingly violent in tone:
"It is becoming increasingly difficult to avoid the conclusion that conservatives, subtly but unmistakably, are fomenting violence against liberals for the 2004 election. And if they succeed in doing so, America will be facing what has always been considered unthinkable here: a serious manifestation of fascism."
If you're interested in more of Dave's insights into the right wing and fascism, check out his "Rush, Newspeak, and fascism" PDF while you're there.
posted by Mischa Peyton at 1:33 PM
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Meanwhile, back on the home front the Bush-Cheney gang and their energy industry cronies wreck the environment
Salon.com Technology | Dirty business
And the Democrats struggle to prevent a rightwing take-over of the judiciary
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2003/11/13/filibuster/print.html
posted by Douglas at 7:48 AM
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Faced with growing public uneasiness over Iraq, Republican Party officials intend to change the terms of the political debate heading into next year's election by focusing on the "doctrine of preemption," portraying President Bush as a visionary acting to prevent future terrorist attacks on US soil despite the costs and casualties involved overseas.

The strategy will involve the dismissal of Democrats as the party of "protests, pessimism and political hate speech," Ed Gillespie, Republican National Committee chairman, wrote in a recent memo to party officials -- a move designed to shift attention toward Bush's broader foreign policy objectives rather than the accounts of bloodshed. Republicans hope to convince voters that Democrats are too indecisive and faint-hearted -- and perhaps unpatriotic -- to protect US interests, arguing that inaction during the Clinton years led to the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. [more]
posted by Bill at 5:09 AM
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US multinational companies are "acutely worried" about the business consequences of Bush administration foreign policy, according to a new report from Control Risks, a UK-based international security consultancy.
Make no mistake: if big business bails on the "Bush doctrine," Dubya is in deep trouble come 2004...
posted by Bill at 5:08 AM
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Wednesday, November 12, 2003. *
There is such a thing as International Law. There are rules and obligations which it imposes on an occupying power. Certain minimal obligations towards letting an occupied population enjoy a certain minimal standard of living.There was a time when Israeli rule was more or less within this framework. Now it is totally broken. The only consideration, overriding everything else, is maintenance of the settlements, which are inherently
a violation of International Law.
--Avigdor Feldman, prominent Israeli attorney,at a Tel Aviv symposium, March 12, 2003
Report on Israeli Settlement in the Occupied Territories

One thing we hear about here when talking about the Israeli Palestinian issue is that the Palestinian People refused Ehud Barak's generous offer for Peace. At Gush Shalom I have found a very revealing graphical representation that offers the facts and figures of this "generous" offer. Initially the Palestinians agreed to keep about 22% of their homeland, conceding the rest of Palestine to bring about Peace. Israel wished to keep 69 illegal Israeli settlements comprising another 10 percent of what was originally these peoples homeland. Explore the link to see just what the deal offered was.
There is plainly nothing just or generous about it, see for yourself. You be the judge.

This "Peace Plan" would leave the Palestinian people to live in what Hitler termed "Ghettos" , what were known in South Africa as Bantustans.
In the late 1970's, hoping to forestall the end of white rule, South Africa began to create "Bantustans." These were nominally "independent" homelands to which all of South Africa's blacks were eventually supposed to be transferred. The end result, so the apartheid rulers hoped, would be a strong white South Africa with few or no black citizens, surrounded by a constellation of poor, weak black states which it could easily control and exploit as a source of cheap labor.

The reality behind this further attempt by Israel to grab Palestinian lands will help you to understand the injustice the Palestinian people are suffering by not getting back the territory they held until 1967.

Moshe Dayan: "We came to this country which was already populated by Arabs, and we are establishing a Hebrew, that is a Jewish state here. In considerable areas of the country [the total area was about 6%] we bought the lands from the Arabs. Jewish Villages were built in place of Arab villages. You do not even know the names of these Arab villages, and I do not blame you, because these geography books no longer exist; not only do the books not exist, the Arab villages are not there either. Nahalal [Dayan's own village] arose in the place of Mahalal, Gevat-- in the place of Jibta, [Kibbutz] Sarid-- in the place of Haneifs and Kefar Yehoshua-- in the place of Tell Shaman. There is not one place in the country that did not have a former Arab population." [Ha`aretz, April 4 1969]

Quoted from"The Question of Palestine" by Edward Said


Water is a very important part of territorial dispute. According to the UN mandated borders (The Green Line) Israel controlled only 3% of the Jordan Basin area. Now Israel controls the majority of its water. Palestinians utilize only 0.5% of water from the Jordan. Israel controls 80% of Palestinian Aquifers of the Occupied Territories. There are approximately 215,000 Palestinians in 150 villages without piped in water. Only 23 new well permits have been allowed by Israeli military authorities since 1967.The "separation Wall" will further exacerbate Palestinian water woes:
At least 32 groundwater wells, with an approximate total discharge of 4 MCM/year, are expected to be affected by the construction of the Wall in this first phase alone, in addition to the consequences to the agricultural lands relying on these wells. In the cases of these wells, they are to be separated from the communities and farmers dependent on them by being placed on the western side of the wall, with the communities to the east. These groundwater wells are located in the Western Groundwater Basin and were drilled prior to 1967. As a result, Palestinians will loose nearly 18% of their share of the Western Groundwater Basin.

Losing 18% of what they are now allowed is drastic.
In the hot months Palestinians must use water saved in cisterns, while the settlers water allotment is upped the water to Palestinian towns is shut off to allow for this increase in consumption. Overall, Palestinians are allowed 70 liters per person per day, while the average Israeli uses 282 liters per day. USAID and the WHO recommend 100 liters as the bare minimum amount a people need per person for domestic as well as civic use( schools, etc).
Water is costly. The percentage of Palestinians that cannot afford their piped in water bills is reaching towards 100%. Settlers pay $.40 for their piped domestic water while Palestinians pay $1.20.
Many communities that depend on trucked in water cannot afford the cost; a cost that is rising due to negotiating checkpoints making for increased transportation times. Many of the trucks are having trouble actually accessing water.
The Israeli water company Mekerot has lessened the amount of water they supply to some communities, and stopped supplying others.
There is more to the picture than meets the eye when you get your news from the mainstream media. The Palestinian/Israeli issue is complex and warrants much exploration. Consider the issue in all its depth yourself, and the next time you here it reduced to a simplistic religious conflict give folks some insight, e-mail them some of the links I've shared. Knowledge is power, and the truth will out.
Resources: How the Wall will effect Palestinian ability to access water
posted by m at 6:24 PM
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