Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Big Lie About 'Islamic Fascism'

By Eric Margolis See his website.






The latest big lie unveiled by Washington’s neoconservatives are the poisonous terms, "Islamo-Fascists" and "Islamic Fascists." They are the new, hot buzzwords among America’s far right and Christian fundamentalists.

President George W. Bush made a point last week of using "Islamofacists" when recently speaking of Hezbullah and Hamas – both, by the way, democratically elected parties. A Canadian government minister from the Conservative Party compared Lebanon’s Hezbullah to Nazi Germany.

The term "Islamofascist" is utterly without meaning, but packed with emotional explosives. It is a propaganda creation worthy Dr. Goebbels, and the latest expression of the big lie technique being used by neocons in Washington’s propaganda war against its enemies in the Muslim World.

This ugly term was probably first coined in Israel – as was the other hugely successful propaganda term, "terrorism" – to dehumanize and demonize opponents and deny them any rational political motivation, hence removing any need to deal with their grievances and demands.

As the brilliant humanist Sir Peter Ustinov so succinctly put it, "Terrorism is the war of the poor, and war is the terrorism of the rich."

Both the terms "terrorism" and "fascist" have been so abused and overused that they have lost any original meaning. The best modern definition I’ve read of fascism comes in former Colombia University Professor Robert Paxton’s superb 2004 book, The Anatomy of Fascism.

Paxton defines fascism’s essence, which he aptly terms its "emotional lava" as: 1. a sense of overwhelming crisis beyond reach of traditional solutions; 2. belief one’s group is the victim, justifying any action without legal or moral limits; 3. need for authority by a natural leader above the law, relying on the superiority of his instincts; 4. right of the chosen people to dominate others without legal or moral restraint; 5. fear of foreign "contamination."

Fascism demands a succession of wars, foreign conquests, and national threats to keep the nation in a state of fear, anxiety and patriotic hypertension. Those who disagree are branded ideological traitors. All successful fascists regimes, Paxton points out, allied themselves to traditional conservative parties, and to the military-industrial complex.

Highly conservative and militaristic regimes are not necessarily fascist, says Paxton. True fascism requires relentless aggression abroad and a semi-religious adoration of the regime at home.

None of the many Muslim groups opposing US-British control of the Mideast fit Paxton’s definitive analysis. The only truly fascist group ever to emerge in the Mideast was Lebanon’s Maronite Christian Phalange Party in the 1930’s which, ironically, became an ally of Israel’s rightwing in the 1980’s.

It is grotesque watching the Bush Administration and Tony Blair maintain the ludicrous pretense they are re-fighting World War II. The only similarity between that era and today is the cultivation of fear, war fever and racist-religious hate by US neoconservatives and America’s religious far right, which is now boiling with hatred for anything Muslim.

Under the guise of fighting a "third world war" against "Islamic fascism," America’s far right is infecting its own nation with the harbingers of WWII totalitarianism.

In the western world, hatred of Muslims has become a key ideological hallmark of rightwing parties. We see this overtly in the United States, France, Italy, Holland, Denmark, Poland, and, most lately, Canada, and more subtly expressed in Britain and Belgium. The huge uproar over blatantly anti-Muslim cartoons published in Denmark laid bare the seething Islamophobia spreading through western society.

There is nothing in any part of the Muslim World that resembles the corporate fascist states of western history. In fact, clan and tribal-based traditional Islamic society, with its fragmented power structures, local loyalties, and consensus decision-making, is about as far as possible from western industrial state fascism.

The Muslim World is replete with brutal dictatorships, feudal monarchies, and corrupt military-run states, but none of these regimes, however deplorable, fits the standard definition of fascism. Most, in fact, are America’s allies.

Nor do underground Islamic militant groups ("terrorists" in western terminology). They are either focused on liberating land from foreign occupation, overthrowing "un-Islamic" regimes, driving western influence from their region, or imposing theocracy based on early Islamic democracy.

Claims by fevered neoconservatives that Muslim radicals plan to somehow impose a worldwide Islamic caliphate are lurid fantasies worthy of Dr. Fu Manchu and yet another example of the big lie technique that worked so well over Iraq.

As Prof. Andrew Bosworth notes in an incisive essay on so-called Islamic fascism, "Islamic fundamentalism is a transnational movement inherently opposed to the pseudo-nationalism necessary for fascism."

However, there are plenty of modern fascists. But to find them, you have to go to North America and Europe. These neo-fascists advocate "preemptive attacks against all potential enemies," grabbing other nation’s resources, overthrowing uncooperative governments, military dominance of the world, hatred of Semites (Muslims in this case), adherence to biblical prophecies, hatred of all who fail to agree, intensified police controls, and curtailment of "liberal" political rights.

They revel in flag-waving, patriotic melodrama, demonstrations of military power, and use the mantle of patriotism to feather the nests of the military-industrial complex, colluding legislators and lobbyists. They urge war to the death, fought, of course, by other people’s children. They have turned important sectors of the media into propaganda organs and brought the Pentagon largely under their control.

Now, the neoconservatives are busy whipping up war against Syria and Iran to keep themselves in power and maintain the political dynamics of this 21st century revival of fascism.

The real modern fascists are not in the Muslim World, but Washington. The neocons screaming fascist the loudest, are the true fascists themselves. It’s a pity that communist and leftist propaganda so debased the term "neo-fascist" that it has become almost meaningless. Because that is what we should be calling the so-called neocons, for that is what they really are.

Source

Related articles Here and Here

Let's Bomb Iran! (comedy)

Parody of the Beach Boys 'Barbara Ann'


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The Americanization of Canada by Harper

Harper's assertion that the Israeli actions in Lebanon were a measured response to the provocations of Hezbollah was only the start of his reading from the American script.





Bush stalled a ceasefire. So did Harper.

Bush said no to American troops in a multinational force. Harper said no to Canadian participation.

Bush cast the Israeli offensive as a "struggle between the forces of freedom and the force of terror." So did Harper.

Bush tied Lebanon to the larger (failed) war on terrorism. So did Harper.

At times, Harper sounded more hawkish than the Republican neocon hawks.

Bush called the massacre at Qana "awful," but Harper stayed mum, and his office made a point of saying that he would stay mum on the tragedy

Read the full article Here

Hezbollah Leader Regrets Kidnapping that Led to War with Israel

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah says he regrets the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that sparked more than a month of warfare with Israel. Nasrallah told Lebanese television Sunday if he had known the kidnapping would have led to such a war, he would not do it again.





He also said Italy and the United Nations have shown interest in taking part in possible talks on a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hezbollah.

Hezbollah seized the two Israeli soldiers during a cross-border raid July 12. The raid led to 34 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah fighters and widespread destruction in Lebanon.

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Can Anything Be Done?

By Paul Craig Roberts









Many readers have praised me for my courage in broaching taboo subjects and stating obvious truths. Others denounce me for “being unpatriotic and distrusting our government.” One reader, Susan Hartman, wrote to me that I was obviously in the pay of Islamic Jihadists and that she had reported me to the FBI.

Despite the lack of evidence to support their belief, a number of readers remain confident that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and that America narrowly missed being annihilated. These readers know for a fact that Hussein had WMD, because “the President would know, and he wouldn’t lie.”

In other words, whatever Bush says is true, and all who doubt him are unpatriotic. “You are with us or against us.” The facts be damned. There are a large number of Susan Hartmans in the body politic.

A group of scientists, engineers, and university professors are trying to start a debate about the collapse of the three World Trade Center buildings. I reported one of their findings: There is an inconsistency between the speed with which the buildings collapsed and the “pancaking theory” used to explain the collapse. Another way of putting the problem is that there seems to be a massive energy deficit in the explanation that the buildings fell as a result of gravitational energy. There simply was not sufficient gravitational energy to produce the results.

For reporting a scientific finding, I was called a “conspiracy theorist.” Only in America is scientific analysis seen as conspiracy theory and government lies as truth.

Applications of the laws of physics and scientific calculations can be reviewed and checked by other scientists. Scientists, like the rest of us, can make mistakes. However, questions raised about the collapse of the WTC buildings are not engaged but ignored.

Read more Here

Monday, August 28, 2006

UK: Cameron: we got it wrong on apartheid

David Cameron(leader of the UK conservatives) dramatically denounced one of Margaret Thatcher's flagship foreign policies last night, saying that she was wrong to have branded Nelson Mandela's African National Congress as 'terrorists' and to have opposed sanctions against the apartheid regime in South Africa.


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Well It's about time the Conservatives spoke up against apartheid .....

Just a decade or so too late it seems . What next, Are they going to announce that supporting Saddam for all those years was wrong too ? I doubt it.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Bush and Saddam Should Both Stand Trial, Says Nuremberg Prosecutor

A chief prosecutor of Nazi war crimes at Nuremberg has said George W. Bush should be tried for war crimes along with Saddam Hussein.







Benjamin Ferencz, who secured convictions for 22 Nazi officers for their work in orchestrating the death squads that killed more than 1 million people, told OneWorld both Bush and Saddam should be tried for starting "aggressive" wars--Saddam for his 1990 attack on Kuwait and Bush for his 2003 invasion of Iraq.

"Nuremberg declared that aggressive war is the supreme international crime," the 87-year-old Ferencz told OneWorld from his home in New York. He said the United Nations charter, which was written after the carnage of World War II, contains a provision that no nation can use armed force without the permission of the UN Security Council.

Source

Iran nuclear response leak reveals demands

The US would have to lift decades-old sanctions against Iran and probably give assurances that it has no policy of regime change towards the Islamic republic to settle Iran's nuclear dispute with the west, according to leaks of the Iranian response.





Iran is demanding firmer guarantees on trade and nuclear supplies, a tighter timetable for implementing agreements and clearer security pledges from the west before it decides whether to freeze its uranium enrichment programme and explore an offer of a new relationship.

Source

Friday, August 25, 2006

Are FOX News Employees really “Noncombatants”?

By Mike Whitney






Are FOX employee’s innocent bystanders or an integral part of the American war machine? That may turn out to be an important question now that 2 FOX workers have been captured by a group of Palestinian militants.

It would be hard, if not impossible to draw a line of separation between the US military and FOX News. Their anchors may shun the camouflage fatigues and jack-boots, but that is where the difference ends. FOX is a fully-integrated cog in the corporate/state media apparatus; faithfully reiterating the official statements of Pentagon Big-wigs and administration powerbrokers. Their “embedded” news team provides the splashy graphics and right wing chatter which energize their base and marshal public support for American aggression. They carefully create a narrative which makes deliberate acts of unprovoked warfare appear necessary and (even) humanitarian.

No one has violated the basic standards of journalistic integrity more consistently than FOX News. Their unwavering support for the war in Iraq demonstrates their blatant disregard for professional evenhandedness and neutrality. Dissenting opinions are scrupulously scrubbed from their broadcasts while the vulgar displays of jingoism and xenophobia are presented as “Fair and Balanced” coverage. On some FOX web sites it’s still possible to find articles which claim that Weapons of Mass Destruction were actually found in Iraq. No wonder nearly 50% of the American people still believe that Saddam posed a threat to our national security and that Bush’s illegal invasion was justified.

If FOX is an essential part of the state propaganda-system which facilitates the war, then how can we absolve their employees from accountability? Doesn’t that make them legitimate targets for resistance organizations?

Reporters are given immunity because their work is perceived to be beyond the activities of combatants. That rule cannot be applied to FOX. FOX is the corporate-arm of the war machine; a critical cog in the Pentagon’s information-management strategy. It is as indispensable to the smooth operation of the modern army as any of the high-tech weaponry or space-age gadgetry.

FOX News is franchise journalism; information that is crafted to meet the requirements of ownership. Counterpunch editor Alexander Cockburn summarized the Rupert Murdoch business-model this way:

(Murdoch) “offers 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 greatest cynicism, whether it’s the stentorian fake populism and soft porn in the UK’s Sun and News of the World, or the shameless bootlicking of the butchers of Tiananmen Square” (Alexander Cockburn “A Journey into Rupert Murdoch’s Soul” counterpunch.org)

The journalists who participate in the Murdoch-system are mere functionaries in a corporate news-militia. They deserve the same treatment as any other POW, nothing more.

The group which captured the two FOX employees did what they felt they had to do to address the egregious human rights abuses at American gulags at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. When peaceful means for acquiring justice are foreclosed, violence becomes inevitable. This truism is even enshrined in our own Declaration of Independence.

The “Holy Jihad Brigades” has claimed responsibility for the kidnapping, although the group remains unknown in Gaza. They have released a video demanding a prisoner-swap for Muslims held by the United States.

“We are going to exchange the Muslim female and male prisoners in American jails in return for the prisoners we have. We are going to give you 72 hours, beginning tonight, to make your decision,” says the voice on the video. “If you implement and meet our condition, we will fulfill our promise. If not, wait, and we are going to wait with you.”

It is not clear what will happen to the victims after the 3 day deadline passes, but the FOX duo appears to be in good health and there are no signs of torture or abuse. The same cannot be said for the victims of American detention in Iraq or Cuba.

The demands of the militants are consistent with the basic principles of American justice. The prisoners at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have been detained in violation of international law and without regard to their fundamental human rights. Bush claims the absolute authority to imprison anyone he chooses; stripping them of their right due process and of any legal means for acquitting themselves.

The prisoners at Guantanamo are nothing more than Bush’s personal hostages. It was only a matter of time before someone responded to this insidious act of tyranny.

Bush is not above the law. The inmates at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib have “inalienable rights” just like the rest of us. These rights cannot be repealed by presidential edict.

The first of these rights is the “presumption of innocence”. If Bush insists these men are “the worst of the worst”; let him prove it in court of law with solid evidence of wrongdoing.

Secondly, “justice delayed is justice denied”; either try them or let them go. Bush has no authority to keep these men languishing indefinitely in a legal black hole without formally charging them with a crime.

Guantanamo should be shut down, dismantled, and steamrolled into finely-ground powder. The prisoners should be returned to their countries of origin and compensated for their mistreatment at the hands of American jailors. The men who are responsible for creating Guantanamo should be held accountable before an international tribunal.

As long as Muslims are deprived of their rights and freedom, we can expect more random incidents of kidnapping andcruelty. These are the unavoidable consequences of injustice.

The Holy Jihad Brigades is the natural offspring of Bush’s “New Middle East”, a hotbed of animosity and violence. America has radicalized the region and is fueling the rage and bloodshed. The chickens will continue to come home to roost until America withdraws from Iraq, stops its blind support of Israel, and negotiates a comprehensive settlement to the Palestinian issue.

If Bush really wants to know why Americans are targets, he ought to take a good look at his own blinkered foreign policy and rethink his strategy.

Source

Does Shashi have the vision

One man is capable of strengthening the UN's ability to be a genuinely effective global player





In the next few weeks, a new secretary general of the United Nations will be chosen by the security council. In a world racked by violent divisions surpassing anything witnessed since the organisation was created "to end the scourge of war," the secretary general can play a much more important role than is currently the case in easing global tensions and in making the weak and the dispossessed feel that their voices are being heard.

Keep reading Here

Iraq PM bans TV from showing attacks

Iraq's Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has banned television channels from broadcasting gory images of daily bloodshed in the country, the interior ministry said in a statement.




During a visit to the ministry on Wednesday, Maliki issued an order prohibiting broadcasters from showing "blood and killings that magnify the horror" and warned of legal action against those violating the order.

Major General Rashid Flayah, head of a national police division, urged reporters to tone down stories that could inflame sectarian passions in a country riven by violence between Sunni and Shiite groups.

"We will let you do the job, but we want you to stop publishing pictures that arouse passions and sectarian feelings," he told a news conference. "You should reject it. We are building the country with Kalashnikovs and you should help in building it with the use of your pen."

Source

So there was no real concern when we were planting false news items in to Iraqi press . Propaganda is good. But now the press want to start telling people the truth and all hell breaks loose. We can show you what didn't happen here yesterday once the Pentagon script writers had completed it. But if you have real story then you better keep it quiet buddy. The truth it seems, is always unpatriotic.

We can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavoring to stifle is a false opinion; and if we were sure, stifling it would be an evil still. ~John Stuart Mill, On Liberty, 1859

Thursday, August 24, 2006

On Bush's Iraq speech from the past three years

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Six Questions for Michael Scheuer on National Security

Michael Scheuer served in the CIA for 22 years before resigning in 2004; he served as the chief of the bin Laden unit at the Counterterrorist Center from 1996 to 1999.




1. We're coming up on the five-year anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. Is the country safer or more vulnerable to terrorism?

On balance, more vulnerable. We're safer in terms of aircraft travel. We're safer from being attacked by some dumbhead who tries to come into the country through an official checkpoint; we've spent billions on that. But for the most part our victories have been tactical and not strategic. There have been important successes by the intelligence services and Special Forces in capturing and killing Al Qaeda militants, but in the long run that's just a body count, not progress. We can't capture them one by one and bring them to justice. There are too many of them, and more now than before September 11. In official Western rhetoric these are finite organizations, but every time we interfere in Muslim countries they get more support.

In the long run, we're not safer because we're still operating on the assumption that we're hated because of our freedoms, when in fact we're hated because of our actions in the Islamic world. There's our military presence in Islamic countries, the perception that we control the Muslim world’s oil production, our support for Israel and for countries that oppress Muslims such as China, Russia, and India, and our own support for Arab tyrannies. The deal we made with Qadaffi in Libya looks like hypocrisy: we'll make peace with a brutal dictator if it gets us oil. President Bush is right when he says all people aspire to freedom but he doesn't recognize that people have different definitions of democracy. Publicly promoting democracy while supporting tyranny may be the most damaging thing we do. From the standpoint of democracy, Saudi Arabia looks much worse than Iran. We use the term “Islamofascism”—but we're supporting it in Saudi Arabia, with Mubarak in Egypt, and even Jordan is a police state. We don't have a strategy because we don't have a clue about what motivates our enemies.

2. Is Al Qaeda stronger or weaker than it was five years ago?

The quality of its leadership is not as high as it was in 2001, because we've killed and captured so many of its leaders. But they have succession planning that works very well. We keep saying that we're killing their leaders, but you notice that we keep having to kill their number twos, threes and fours all over again. They bring in replacements, and these are not novices off the street—they're understudies. From the very first, bin Laden has said that he's just one person and Al Qaeda is a vanguard organization, that it needs other Muslims to join them. He's always said that his primary goal is to incite attacks by people who might not have any direct contact with Al Qaeda. Since 2001, and especially since mid-2005, there's been an increase in the number of groups that were not directly tied to Al Qaeda but were inspired by bin Laden's words and actions.

We also shouldn't underestimate the stature of bin Laden and Zawahiri in the Muslim world now that they’ve survived five years of war with the United States. You see commentary in the Muslim press: “How have they been able to defy the United States? It takes something special.” Their heroic status is an important fact. It helps explain why these cells keep popping up. Meanwhile, Al Qaeda is also assisting insurgencies in Afghanistan and Iraq. I agree with the view that we've moved from man and organization to philosophy and movement, but one hasn't entirely replaced the other. There are three levels: Al Qaeda central is still intact; there are groups long affiliated with Al Qaeda, in places like Kashmir, the Philippines, and Indonesia; and there are the new groups inspired by Al Qaeda.

3. Given all this, why hasn't there been an attack on the United States for the past five years?

It's not just a lack of capacity; they're not ready to do it. They put more emphasis on success than speed, and the next attack has to be bigger than 9/11. They could shoot up a mall if that's what they wanted to do. But the world is going their way. Our leaders have been clever in defining success as preventing a big terrorist attack on the United States, but we've lost some 3,000 soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've spent billions on those wars, and as in Vietnam the government has suffered a real hit on its credibility. The war in Iraq has created huge divisiveness in our domestic politics, not to mention in our relationships with our European allies. At the same time, there are more people willing to take up arms against the United States, and we have less ability to win hearts and minds in the Arab world. If you're bin Laden living in a cave, all those things are part of the war and those things are going your way.

4. Has the war in Iraq helped or hurt in the fight against terrorism?

It broke the back of our counterterrorism program. Iraq was the perfect execution of a war that demanded jihad to oppose it. You had an infidel power invading and occupying a Muslim country and it was perceived to be unprovoked. Many senior Western officials said that bin Laden was not a scholar and couldn't declare a jihad but other Muslim clerics did. So that religious question was erased.

Secondly, Iraq is in the Arab heartland and, far more than Afghanistan, is a magnet for mujahideen. You can see this in the large number of people crossing the border to fight us. It wasn't a lot at the start, but there's been a steady growth as the war continues. The war has validated everything bin Laden said: that the United States will destroy any strong government in the Arab world, that it will seek to destroy Israel's enemies, that it will occupy Muslim holy places, that it will seize Arab oil, and that it will replace God's law with man's law. We see Iraq as a honey pot that attracts jihadists whom we can kill there instead of fighting them here. We are ignoring that Iraq is not just a place to kill Americans; Al Qaeda has always said that it requires safe havens. It has said it couldn't get involved with large numbers in the Balkans war because it had no safe haven in the region. Now they have a safe haven in Iraq, which is so big and is going to be so unsettled for so long. For the first time, it gives Al Qaeda contiguous access to the Arabian Peninsula, to Turkey, and to the Levant. We may have written the death warrant for Jordan. If we pull out of Iraq, we have a problem in that we may have to leave a large contingent of troops in Jordan. All of this is a tremendous advantage for Al Qaeda. We've moved the center of jihad a thousand miles west from Afghanistan to the Middle East.

5. Things seemed to have turned for the worse in Afghanistan too. What's your take on the situation there?

The President was sold a bill of goods by George Tenet and the CIA—that a few dozen intel guys, a few hundred Special Forces, and truckloads of money could win the day. What happened is what's happened ever since Alexander the Great, three centuries before Christ: the cities fell quickly, which we mistook for victory. Three years later, the Taliban has regrouped, and there's a strong insurgency. We paid a great price for demonizing the Taliban. We saw them as evil because they didn't let women work, but that's largely irrelevant in Afghanistan. They provided nationwide law and order for the first time in 25 years; we destroyed that and haven't replaced it. They're remembered in Afghanistan for their harsh, theocratic rule, but remembered more for the security they provided. In the end, we'll lose and leave. The idea that we can control Afghanistan with 22,000 soldiers, most of whom are indifferent to the task, is far-fetched. The Soviets couldn't do it with 150,000 soldiers and utter brutality. Before the invasion of Afghanistan, [the military historian] John Keegan said the only way to go there was as a punitive mission, to destroy your enemy and get out. That was prescient; our only real mission there should have been to kill bin Laden and Zawahiri and as many Al Qaeda fighters as possible, and we didn't do it.

6. Has the war in Lebanon also been a plus for the jihadists?

Yes. The Israel-Hezbollah battle validates bin Laden. It showed that the Arab regimes are useless, that they can't protect their own nationals, and that they are apostate regimes that are creatures of the infidels. It also showed that the Americans will let Israel do whatever it wants. It was clear from the way the West reacted that it would let Israel take its best shot before it tried diplomacy. I saw an article in the Arab press—in London, I think—that said Lebanon was like a caught fish, that the United States nailed it to the wall and Israel gutted it. The most salient point it showed for Islamists is that Muslim blood is cheap. Israel said it went to war to get back its captured soldiers. The price was the gutting of Lebanon. Olmert said that Israel would fight until it got its soldiers back and until Hezbollah was disarmed. Neither happened. No matter how you spin it, this will be viewed as a victory for Hezbollah. Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon six years ago. Since then there have been the two intifadas, and now this. The idea of Israel being militarily omnipotent is fading.

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They want your soul



It's really hard to describe this video with words. It features assaulting visuals, with facts and combined information that you will find in no other documentary, laid over an music score that you wont soon forget. With the intense audio/visuals and loads of information you may need to watch this several times to absorb the many things you've probably never heard of. The information contained in this video applies to all Americans and humans alike, regards of beleifs or affiliations. This is as unbiased as it gets

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How Many and where were the nukes ?

1946 Documentary / Propaganda film about Despotism



Relevent today ? You decide.

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7 Facts You Might Not Know about the Iraq War

With a tenuous cease-fire between Israel and Lebanon holding, the ever-hotter war in Iraq is once again creeping back onto newspaper front pages and towards the top of the evening news. Before being fully immersed in daily reports of bomb blasts, sectarian violence, and casualties, however, it might be worth considering some of the just-under-the-radar-screen realities of the situation in that country.



Here, then, is a little guide to understanding what is likely to be a flood of new Iraqi developments -- a few enduring, but seldom commented upon, patterns central to the dynamics of the Iraq war, as well as to the fate of the American occupation and Iraqi society.

Article continues : Here

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

UK: ‘Spot’ teams to spy on passengers

ELITE teams of security officers are to be trained to monitor passenger behaviour at airports in a new attempt to combat terrorism.






The “behaviour detection squads” will patrol terminals to monitor the gestures, conversations and facial expressions of passengers. One of their aims will be to spot those who may be concealing fear or anxiety.

Source

Looking for fear and anxiety at an airport eh ? I wonder how many sufferers of aviophobia will be arrested as suspected terrorists.

Poll: Opposition to Iraq war at all-time high

Opposition among Americans to the war in Iraq has reached a new high, with only about a third of respondents saying they favor it, according to a poll released Monday.



Just 35 percent of 1,033 adults polled say they favor the war in Iraq; 61 percent say they oppose it -- the highest opposition noted in any CNN poll since the conflict began more than three years ago. A bare majority (51 percent) say they see Bush as a strong leader, but on most other attributes he gets negative marks.

Most Americans (54 percent) don't consider him honest, most (54 percent) don't think he shares their values and most (58 percent) say he does not inspire confidence. Bush's stand on the issues is also problematic, with more than half (57 percent) of Americans saying they disagree with him on the issues they care about.That's an indication that issues, not personal characteristics, are keeping his approval rating well below 50 percent.

Bush's disapproval rating exceeds his approval, 57 percent to 42 percent.That's in the same ballpark as was found in an August 2-3 poll: Bush garnered a 40 percent approval.And that was up slightly from a 37 percent approval in a poll carried out June 14-15. Fewer than half of respondents (44 percent) say they believe Bush is honest and trustworthy; 54 percent do not.And just 41 percent say they agree with Bush on issues, versus 57 percent who say they disagree.Americans are about evenly split on whether their commander-in-chief understands complex issues, with 47 percent saying yes, and 51 percent saying no.

poll data

Bush Now Says What He Wouldn’t Say Before War: Iraq Had ‘Nothing’ To Do With 9/11

President Bush was in the midst of explaining how the attacks of 9/11 inspired his “freedom agenda” and the attacks on Iraq until a reporter, Ken Herman of Cox News, interrupted to ask what Iraq had to do with 9/11. “Nothing,” Bush defiantly answered. Watch it Here.



Now I know that someone out in Internet land will state that nobody in the Bush administration actually said that Iraq had anything to do with 9/11. But they never ruled it out when asked.

More importantly they connected Saddam and Iraq to Al-Qaeda in every possible way they could. It is stunning to look back at the amount of time Al-Qaeda and Iraq/Saddam where mentioned in the same sentence . The Bush administration certainly implied that Saddam was connected to Al-Qaeda.

Check out some quotes Here and see if you can fail to spot the obvious implications being made at the time.

Monday, August 21, 2006

amateur warlords

For a leader who styles himself "the war president," U.S. Commander-in-Chief George W. Bush's military record now stands at 0 for 4. Even Italy's born-again "imperial Roman conqueror," Benito Mussolini, fared better.



Fiasco I: Five years after Bush ordered Afghanistan invaded and proclaimed "total victory," U.S. and allied forces are fighting a losing war against Afghan resistance groups. Afghan heroin exports are up 90%. The U.S. just quietly deployed thousands more troops to Afghanistan to hunt Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri in a desperate attempt to save Republicans from getting clobbered in November midterm elections.

Fiasco II: "Mission accomplished" in Iraq. Bush's war in Iraq is clearly lost, but few dare admit it. The U.S. has spent $300 billion on Afghanistan and Iraq, with nothing to show but bloody chaos, deficits, body bags, and growing hatred of America. The Bush/Dick Cheney "liberation" of Iraq has now cost more than the Vietnam War.

Fiasco III: The White House had the CIA and Pentagon spend tens of millions bribing Somali warlords to fight Islamist reformers trying to bring law and order to their strife-ravaged nation. The Islamists whipped CIA-backed warlords and ran them out of Somalia. Following this defeat, the U.S. is now urging ally Ethiopia -- shades of Lebanon -- to invade Somalia, thus raising the threat of a wider war between Somalia, Ethiopia, and Eritrea. Good work, Mr. President.

Fiasco IV: Bush and Vice President Cheney egged Israel into the hugely destructive but militarily fruitless war in Lebanon over the past month, in what many view as the first part of their long-nurtured plan to militarily crush Hezbollah, Syria and Iran. They did there best to thwart world efforts to halt the conflict.

To Washington and London's shock and awe, Hezbollah, Iran, and Syria emerged the war's victors. Hezbollah is now the Muslim world's new hero after battling Israel's mighty armed forces to a humiliating draw.

Hezbollah's victory put the kibosh on the Bush/Cheney Holy Land crusade.

No sooner had bombing stopped last week than Hezbollah bulldozers were busy clearing rubble, and Hezbollah social workers resettling refugees. Perhaps Bush should ask Hezbollah to take over rebuilding New Orleans.

Israelis have now turned from fighting Arabs to furious finger-pointing. Politicians and generals are blaming each other for the Lebanon debacle that killed 118 Israeli soldiers and 41 Israeli civilians, cost at least $1 billion, ruined the summer tourist trade, and, after a burst of initial sympathy, brought worldwide condemnation. And no captured soldiers -- the war's supposed objective -- have been yet returned.

Still, a swap of Israeli prisoners for Lebanese and Palestinian ones remains likely, as this column predicted at the war's beginning. The killing of 1,000 Lebanese civilians, a million Lebanese and Israelis made refugees, and billions in wanton destruction, could all have been avoided.

By turning a routine skirmish into a big war, Israel's PM Ehud Olmert showed he had no more grasp of military affairs than those other amateur warlords, Bush, Cheney and British PM Tony Blair.

Even Washington hawks are wondering if invading Iran may not be such a cakewalk as they envision. Iran's Revolutionary Guards helped train and arm Hezbollah's fighters.

America was the big loser in the Lebanon war. From Morocco to Indonesia, each night some 1.5 billion Muslims watched the carnage in Lebanon on TV and most blamed America. Even the poorest shepherd in Uzbekistan heard that the U.S. was airlifting the precision bombs and deadly cluster munitions to Israel that wound up killing hundreds of Lebanese.

Any hope of damping down the Islamic world's surging hatred of the U.S., Britain, and Israel (and now Canada, thanks to the federal government's pro-Israel stance) was killed in Lebanon.

Even the interestingly-timed airport hysteria in London over claims of liquid bomb plots failed to divert attention from the latest egregious U.S.-British Mideast policy disaster.

The "war president" has become the fiasco president. The White House should stop listening to bogus military advice from neocon couch commandos who thirst for Muslim blood, and start listening to experienced Pentagon officers who understand the meaning and cost of war.

Source

Racial profiling passenger style

Two men were taken off a flight bound for Manchester after some passengers became alarmed about what they regarded as suspicious behaviour. People on the Airbus 320 at Malaga alerted staff and demanded their removal, Monarch Airlines said.




The pair were subsequently taken from flight ZB 613, carrying 150 passengers and seven crew, early on Wednesday.

Two men, reported to be of Asian or Middle Eastern appearance, were questioned for several hours. Authorities allowed them to fly back to the UK later in the week. The plane had been due to take off about 0300 BST but was delayed by about three hours.

A spokesman for Monarch Airlines said: "There were two passengers on the flight who came to the attention of the other people because they were apparently acting suspiciously. "The flight attendants were sufficiently concerned to alert the crew who in turn informed the security authorities at Malaga airport." No details of their "suspicious" behaviour were revealed.

The Conservative homeland security spokesman, Patrick Mercer, described the incident as "a victory for terrorists".

"These people on the flight have been terrorised into behaving irrationally," he told the Mail on Sunday. "For those unfortunate two men to be victimised because of the colour of their skin is just nonsense."

Souce

We should note that suspicious behaviour turned out to be the crime of speaking in Arabic whilst wearing Arabic clothes.

They were of course released immediately by Police and passengers have now been warned that racial profiling of other passengers is not allowed. Simply put, If you do not like the people that you are on the plane with , then you should get off the plane.

UK : Our foreign policy is just plain wrong

The relationship between Mr Bush and Mr Blair has done untold damage both at home and abroad.

Menzies Campbell





Over one issue in particular, effort must be made - Israel/Palestine. As the Lebanese government was being chastised for its failure to implement Security Council Resolution 1559, calling for the disarmament of Hizbollah, little was said about Resolution 242, calling for Israel's withdrawal from territories it had occupied in 1967. As long as the Palestinians are subject to daily humiliations and settlements are expanded on the West Bank, all in breach of international law, and denied a viable homeland, Israel's legal and moral right to live in peace behind secure and recognised borders will be undermined. Israel/Palestine should become not a cause but an obsession. If it redefines our relationship with the United States, so be it.

Read the full article Here

I am not a natural fan of Mr Cambell but on this ocassion he has my support.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Lebanese village in ruins

The United Nations estimates that up to 900,000 people have been displaced in Lebanon.



The BBC's Fergal Keane visited the Lebanese town of Bint Jbeil where scores of houses have been destroyed.

Intelligence officials doubt Iran uranium claims, say Cheney receiving suspect briefings

The Bush administration continues to bypass standard intelligence channels and use what some believe to be propaganda tactics to create a compelling case for war with Iran.

Here

The Anti-Empire Report

"Our government has kept us in a perpetual state of fear -- kept us in a continuous stampede of patriotic fervor -- with the cry of grave national emergency. Always there has been some terrible evil at home or some monstrous foreign power that was going to gobble us up if we did not blindly rally behind it by furnishing the exorbitant funds demanded. Yet, in retrospect, these disasters seem never to have happened, seem never to have been quite real." General Douglas MacArthur, 1957


By William Blum

So now we've (choke) just been (gasp) saved from the simultaneous blowing up of ten airplanes headed toward the United States from the UK. Wow, thank you Brits, thank you Homeland Security. Well done, lads. And thanks for preventing the destruction of the Sears Tower in Chicago, saving lower Manhattan from a terrorist-unleashed flood, smashing the frightful Canadian "terror plot" with 17 arrested, ditto the three Toledo terrorists, and squashing the Los Angeles al Qaeda plot to fly a hijacked airliner into a skyscraper.

The Los Angeles plot of 2002 was proudly announced by George W. early this year. It has since been totally discredited. Declared one senior counterterrorism official: "There was no definitive plot. It never materialized or got past the thought stage."[2]

And the scare about ricin in the UK, which our own Mr. Cheney used as part of the buildup for the invasion of Iraq, telling an audience on January 10, 2003: "The gravity of the threat we face was underscored in recent days when British police arrested ... suspected terrorists in London and discovered a small quantity of ricin, one of the world's deadliest poisons."

It turned out there was not only no plot, there was no ricin. The Brits discovered almost immediately that the substance wasn't ricin but kept that secret for more than two years.[3]

From what is typical in terrorist scares, it is likely that the individuals arrested in the UK August 10 are guilty of what George Orwell, in 1984, called "thoughtcrimes". That is to say, they haven't actually DONE anything. At most, they've THOUGHT about doing something the government would label "terrorism". Perhaps not even very serious thoughts, perhaps just venting their anger at the exceptionally violent role played by the UK and the US in the Mideast and thinking out loud how nice it would be to throw some of that violence back in the face of Blair and Bush. And then, the fatal moment for them that ruins their lives forever ... their angry words are heard by the wrong person, who reports them to the authorities. (In the Manhattan flood case the formidable, dangerous "terrorists" made mention on an Internet chat room about blowing something up.)[4]

Soon a government agent provocateur appears, infiltrates the group, and then actually encourages the individuals to think and talk further about terrorist acts, to develop real plans instead of youthful fantasizing, and even provides the individuals with some of the actual means for carrying out these terrorist acts, like explosive material and technical know-how, money and transportation, whatever is needed to advance the plot. It's known as "entrapment", and it's supposed to be illegal, it's supposed to be a powerful defense for the accused, but the authorities get away with it all the time; and the accused get put away for very long stretches. And because of the role played by the agent provocateur, we may never know whether any of the accused, on their own, would have gone much further, if at all, like actually making a bomb, or, in the present case, even making transatlantic flight reservations since many of the accused reportedly did not even have passports. Government infiltrating and monitoring is one thing; encouragement, pushing the plot forward, and scaring the public to make political capital from it is quite something else.

Prosecutors have said that the seven men in Miami charged with conspiring to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago and FBI buildings in other cities had sworn allegiance to al-Qaeda. This came after meeting with a confidential government informant who was posing as a representative of the terrorist group. Did they swear or hold such allegiance, one must wonder, before meeting with the informant? "In essence," reported The Independent of London, "the entire case rests upon conversations between Narseal Batiste, the apparent ringleader of the group, with the informant, who was posing as a member of al-Qaeda but in fact belonged to the [FBI] South Florida Terrorist Task Force." Batiste told the informant that "he was organizing a mission to build an 'Islamic army' in order to wage jihad." He provided a list of things he needed: boots, uniforms, machine guns, radios, vehicles, binoculars, bullet proof vests, firearms, and $50,000 in cash. Oddly enough, one thing that was not asked for was any kind of explosives material. After sweeps of various locations in Miami, government agents found no explosives or weapons. "This group was more aspirational than operational," said the FBI's deputy director, while one FBI agent described them as "social misfits". And, added the New York Times, investigators openly acknowledged that the suspects "had only the most preliminary discussions about an attack." Yet Cheney later hailed the arrests at a political fundraiser, calling the group a "very real threat".[5]

Perhaps as great a threat as the suspects in the plot to unleash a catastrophic flood in lower Manhattan by destroying a huge underground wall that holds back the Hudson River. That was the story first released by the authorities; after a while it was replaced by the claim that the suspects were actually plotting something aimed at the subway tunnels that run under the river.[6]

Which is more reliable, one must wonder, information on Internet chat rooms or WMD tips provided by CIA Iraqi informers? Or information obtained, as in the current case in the UK, from Pakistani interrogators of the suspects, none of the interrogators being known to be ardent supporters of Amnesty International.

And the three men arrested in Toledo, Ohio in February were accused of -- are you ready? -- plotting to recruit and train terrorists to attack US and allied troops overseas. For saving us from this horror we have a paid FBI witness to thank. He had been an informer with the FBI for four years, and most likely was paid for each new lead he brought in.[7]

There must be millions of people in the United States and elsewhere who have thoughts about "terrorist acts". I might well be one of them when I read about a gathering of Bush, Cheney, and assorted neocons that's going to take place. Given the daily horror of Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon and Palestine in recent times, little of which would occur if not for the government of the United States of America and its allies, the numbers of people having such thoughts must be rapidly multiplying. If I had been at an American or British airport as the latest scare story unfolded, waiting in an interminable line, having my flight canceled, or being told I can't have any carry-on luggage, I may have found it irresistible at some point to declare loudly to my fellow suffering passengers: "Y'know, folks, this security crap is only gonna get worse and worse as long as the United States and Britain continue to invade, bomb, overthrow, occupy, and torture the world!"

How long before I was pulled out of line and thrown into some kind of custody?

Article continues

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Two Strange Deaths in European Wiretapping Scandal

European investigators are tracking the mysterious deaths of two security experts who had uncovered extensive spyware in their telecommunications firms.

A must read : Here

Ceasefire ends

From AP via Yahoo:
Israeli commandos raided a Hezbollah stronghold deep inside Lebanon Saturday, sparking a fierce clash with militants that left one Israeli soldier dead. Lebanon called the raid a "flagrant violation" of the U.N.-brokered cease-fire, while
Israel said it was aimed at disrupting arms smuggling from
Iran and
Syria.

Witnesses also said Israeli missiles destroyed a bridge during the raid in what would be the first such airstrike since the cease-fire took effect on Monday, ending 34 days of warfare between the two sides.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Labour agrees: Bush is crap

The Independent asked a group of Labour MPs what they though of John Prescott's outburst Published: 18 August 2006





Ian Davidson Glasgow South West MP

"I think that John Prescott is to be commended for the quality of his political analysis. His comment on American policy is brief and accurate. Britain has got to ensure that it is no longer seen as simply being the glove puppet of the United States."

Glenda Jackson Hampstead and Highgate MP

"I entirely endorse his view. This is why Parliament should be recalled. This government is failing miserably as far as our approach towards the Middle East is concerned. We are simply... bag carriers for Bush and all his policies have been a disaster."

David Crausby Bolton North East MP

"One of the most disappointing aspects of the Iraq resolution is that we stuck our neck out and supported the Americans... on the understanding that the road map would be there but it's not been delivered at all. It's virtually been forgotten."

Ann Cryer Keighley MP

"I have no doubt that there is a very large number of Labour MPs who will be agreeing with what John Prescott is alleged to have said. I agree with it. There is huge concern and this goes right across the Labour back bench."

Jim Sheridan Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP

"I think he is right. I don't think the Americans have given the road map the priority it deserves and until you solve the problem of Palestine, other problems are going to appear. Every time Palestine comes up the agenda it gets... put on the back-burner."

Peter Kilfoyle Liverpool Walton MP

"What he is reported to have said reflects the views of many people in the Labour Party. It may not go down well in international diplomacy... but in the Labour Party it will be welcomed as a rare flash of honesty from a senior member of the Government."

Ken Livingstone Mayor of London

"I have no idea what John Prescott did or did not say since it was a private conversation, but... the current US administration has been a disaster for the American people and has done untold damage not only to international relations but to the environment."

Jon Trickett Hemsworth MP

"The actions and language of the British Government are actively hindering the prospects for peace in the Middle East; simultaneously enhancing the threat from terrorism... Our historic influence with Arab countries has been squandered."

John Austin Erith Thamesmead MP

"If John Prescott did say it, then it touches a chord with many of us... American foreign policy is a major contributor to the crisis in the Middle East... and its failure to ensure adherence to UN resolutions regarding Palestine, and its failure to progress the road map."

Martin Salter Reading West MP

"It is abundantly clear that the Bush administration has been less than enthusiastic in pursuing the Middle East road map, and indeed many of its policies have actually inflamed the situation rather than sought to resolve this long-standing conflict."

Ian Davidson Glasgow South West MP

"I think that John Prescott is to be commended for the quality of his political analysis. His comment on American policy is brief and accurate. Britain has got to ensure that it is no longer seen as simply being the glove puppet of the United States."

Glenda Jackson Hampstead and Highgate MP

"I entirely endorse his view. This is why Parliament should be recalled. This government is failing miserably as far as our approach towards the Middle East is concerned. We are simply... bag carriers for Bush and all his policies have been a disaster."

David Crausby Bolton North East MP

"One of the most disappointing aspects of the Iraq resolution is that we stuck our neck out and supported the Americans... on the understanding that the road map would be there but it's not been delivered at all. It's virtually been forgotten."

Ann Cryer Keighley MP

"I have no doubt that there is a very large number of Labour MPs who will be agreeing with what John Prescott is alleged to have said. I agree with it. There is huge concern and this goes right across the Labour back bench."

Jim Sheridan Paisley and Renfrewshire North MP

"I think he is right. I don't think the Americans have given the road map the priority it deserves and until you solve the problem of Palestine, other problems are going to appear. Every time Palestine comes up the agenda it gets... put on the back-burner."

Peter Kilfoyle Liverpool Walton MP

"What he is reported to have said reflects the views of many people in the Labour Party. It may not go down well in international diplomacy... but in the Labour Party it will be welcomed as a rare flash of honesty from a senior member of the Government."

Ken Livingstone Mayor of London

"I have no idea what John Prescott did or did not say since it was a private conversation, but... the current US administration has been a disaster for the American people and has done untold damage not only to international relations but to the environment."

Jon Trickett Hemsworth MP

"The actions and language of the British Government are actively hindering the prospects for peace in the Middle East; simultaneously enhancing the threat from terrorism... Our historic influence with Arab countries has been squandered."

John Austin Erith and Thamesmead MP

"If John Prescott did say it, then it touches a chord with many of us... American foreign policy is a major contributor to the crisis in the Middle East... and its failure to ensure adherence to UN resolutions regarding Palestine, and its failure to progress the road map."

Martin Salter Reading West MP

"It is abundantly clear that the Bush administration has been less than enthusiastic in pursuing the Middle East road map, and indeed many of its policies have actually inflamed the situation rather than sought to resolve this long-standing conflict."

Source

It seems to be like buses , You wait hours for one labour MP to stand up and make the point and then they all arrive once.

Why has it taken them so long to state what should have been stated years ago...

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Ditch US in terror war, say 80pc of Britons

A majority of British people wants the Government to adopt an even more "aggressive" foreign policy to combat international terrorism, according to an opinion poll conducted after the arrests of 24 terrorism suspects last week.



However - by a margin of more than five to one - the public wants Tony Blair to split from President George W Bush and either go it alone in the "war on terror", or work more closely with Europe....

....While there was strong support for a hard line on terrorism at home, the survey exposed deep-seated distrust of the foreign policies championed by Mr Bush since September 11, 2001. Only 14 per cent believed Britain should continue to align itself with America.

Source

The President of Iran has his own Blog

Ok. Plenty of people have a lot to say on the current President of Iran, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. But did you ever consider that you could speak to him direct or more likely (knowing the American right wing) abuse him in person...





Well now you can. The eccentric Leader of the republic of Iran has started his own blog which accepts comments and questions .. wooah

Fancy being involved in helping prevent the next world war ?

Sure you do :-)

Why not take part in an online vote in an online poll, the hard line Islamic president is asking in terrible English: do you think that the US and Israeli intention and goal by attacking Lebanon is pulling the trigger for another world war?

So far the vote is not going the way some of his more zealous revolutionaries would wish. Some 139,986 people or 55% are currently saying no, while 45% or 113,047 say Israel and the US have pulled the trigger.

My view is that it is not the most professional or tidy blog in the world and once the LGF bunch get hold of it they will be on full stop attack. It hardly seems to the wisest move he has ever made ( He is not known for wise moves) But it will be interesting to see how open and direct the debates become on his blog .... well at least until either the Islamofascists or the Neofascists get to find out about it. It will be all down hill from there..

It pains me to say that the type and amount of people that would be going there with the intent to simply attack the man will probably be overwhelming. If the man is willing to answer you direct then why take in the pre belief of what you have heard from the western Press and Government. Have no doubt that George Bush wouldn't ever even have the guts to try the same thing. I also have no doubt that the patronizing types who believe they have all the answers will not consider this an opportunity to learn something. You may well learn something , I have know doubt that Mr Ahmadinejad will too

Kudos for the effort and my sympathy for the expected response ...

Read it for yourself Here

Jon Stewart Slams VP Cheneys Fearmongering

Jon Stewart reacts to Vice President Cheneys recent remarks that amounted to saying that a vote for Ned Lamont is a vote for al Qaeda.



Classic.

Group Says Iran Is 'Not a Crisis'

Seeking to counter the White House's depiction of its Middle East policies as crucial to the prevention of terrorist attacks at home, 21 former generals, diplomats and national security officials will release an open letter tomorrow arguing that the administration's "hard line" has actually undermined U.S. security.

The letter comes as President Bush has made a series of appearances and statements, including a visit Tuesday to the National Counterterrorism Center in McLean, Va., seeking to promote the administration's record on security issues in advance of November's midterm congressional elections.

As The rhetoric has increased since last week's Democratic primary in Connecticut, in which antiwar political newcomer Ned Lamont defeated three-term Sen. Joe Lieberman to become the party's Senate candidate — a victory that senior administration officials are describing as a sign that Democrats are embracing their party's extreme left.

Retired Army Lt. Gen. Robert G. Gard, one of the letter's signers and a former military assistant to Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara in the 1960s, said the group was particularly concerned about administration policies toward Iran, believing them to be a possible prelude to a military attack on suspected nuclear sites in that country.

Gard said the signatories — who included retired Marine Corps Gen. Joseph P. Hoar, head of U.S. Central Command from 1991 to 1994, and Morton H. Halperin, a senior State Department and National Security Council official during the Clinton administration — did not believe that Iran had the wherewithal to build a nuclear weapon in the immediate future and would push the administration to open negotiations with Tehran on the issue.

"It's not a crisis," Gard said in a telephone interview. "To call the Iranian situation a 'crisis' connotes you have to do something right now, like bomb them."

He noted that Iran had sought to open negotiations with the U.S. through Swiss intermediaries, efforts that the letter-signers said were worth exploring as a means of defusing tensions in the region.

But Gard said the administration appeared to be going in the opposite direction, adding that he was particularly concerned by recent warnings from former Israeli military officials that a strike against Iran may be needed to disable that country's nuclear program.

He noted that the Bush administration's unabashedly pro-Israel stance during the recent conflict with Hezbollah was an indication that the White House may accede to such assessments.

"This administration is clearly so beholden to Israel that it raises the concern we might go along" with a military strike, Gard said.

Organizers of the letter said the White House's recent efforts to belittle Democrats for seeking a timetable for withdrawing troops in Iraq may lead the signers to include criticism of the administration's Iraq policy.

The letter is expected to call for a complete overhaul of U.S. policy toward both Iran and Iraq.

Source

July deadliest month in Iraq, tallies show

More Iraqi civilians appear to have been killed in July than in any other month of the war, according to national and morgue statistics, suggesting that the much-vaunted Baghdad security plan started in June by the new government had failed.





An average of more than 110 Iraqis were killed per day in July, according to figures from Iraq's Health Ministry and the Baghdad morgue. At least 3,438 civilians died violently that month, a 9 percent increase over the total in June and nearly twice as many as in January.

The rising numbers indicate that sectarian violence is spiraling out of control, and reinforce an assertion that many senior Iraqi officials and American military analysts have been making in recent months - that the country is already embroiled in a civil war, with the U.S.-led forces caught between Sunni Arab guerrillas and Shiite militias.

The numbers also provide the first definitive evidence that the Baghdad security plan, started by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki on June 14, has done virtually nothing to quell the violence. The plan, much touted by top Iraqi and U.S. officials at the time, relied on setting up more Iraqi-run checkpoints to stymie insurgent movement.

Those officials have since acknowledged that the plan has fallen far short of its aims, forcing the U.S. military to add soldiers to the capital and back away from proposals for a troop draw- down by the end of the year.

The Baghdad morgue reported receiving 1,855 bodies in July, more than half of the total deaths recorded in the country. The morgue tally for July was an 18 percent increase over June.

Source

Neturei Karta rabbi to Iran newspaper: Israel will cease to exist

In an interview with official Iranian news agency IRNA, Rabbi David Weiss, of the Neturei Karta movement, said "Israel was established in the name of Judaism but is impure and Godless. We are sure that it will cease to exist."




Neturei Karta is a small group of Ultra-Orthodox Jews who reject all forms of Zionism and oppose the existence of that state of Israel. This stems from their belief that Israel can only truly be reestablished with the coming of the Messiah and, subsequently, that any state of Israel prior to this exists in violation of divine will.

In statements to Iranian radio, locals, anti-Zionist rabbis circulated their ideas against Israel. ‘We came to Teheran to clarify that Israel does not represent all Jews,' said one of visiting rabbis
In an interview with an IRNA journalist, in New York, Rabbi Weiss stated that "We don't know how much blood will be shed until the state of Israel will cease to exist, but we pray to the Creator that it will happen with the minimum amount of loss and bloodshed."

According to Weiss, "The creation of the state of Israel does not conform to Jewish law and, actually, is contrary to it. Jewish rabbis around the world fear to express their opinions because of the intimidating atmosphere creating by the Zionists."

Weiss addressed UN Security Council resolution 1701 and said: "I oppose this decision because it does not touch upon the demands of the Lebanese or Palestinian people."

"We believe that the day is close at hand when Israel will lose its strength. The Torah says that whatever exists in opposition to divine will cannot continue. As I understand it, things are changing every day and we are sure that Israel will cease to exist."

Source

Afghan opium cultivation hits a record

Opium cultivation in Afghanistan has hit record levels — up by more than 40 percent from 2005 — despite hundreds of millions in counternarcotics money, Western officials told The Associated Press.






The increase could have serious repercussions for an already grave security situation, with drug lords joining the Taliban-led fight against Afghan and international forces.

A Western anti-narcotics official in Kabul said about 370,650 acres of opium poppy was cultivated this season — up from 257,000 acres in 2005 — citing their preliminary crop projections. The previous record was 323,700 acres in 2004, according to the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime.

Here

The Geneva Conventions

The Bush administration objects to the clause in Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions that prohibits "outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment." This standard has been followed for more than a half-century by almost 190 countries, including the United States.



The War Crimes Act of 1996, passed by a Republican Congress, makes it a felony to violate the Geneva Conventions. But the Bush administration authorized techniques to handle and interrogate prisoners that clearly break the rules - like prolonged exposure to extreme temperatures, long periods in stress positions, strapping prisoners to metal contraptions and force-feeding them.

Bush wants Americans to believe that the language in Common Article 3 is too vague and makes fighting terrorism impossible. In fact, the Geneva standard is more specific than the shocks-the-conscience standard. The administration's real aim is to keep on using abusive interrogation techniques at the secret prisons run by the CIA. And it wants to make interrogators - and those who give their orders - immune from prosecution.

Here

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Is it ever worth fighting a war over sandwiches?

The "Shock and Awe" Gallery

The children seem to be the most openly enthused. They are getting a chance at a future the likes of which would never have been possible under the oppressive regime..."

Here : Warning distressing images

America's one-eyed view of war: Stars, stripes, and the Star of David

There are two sides to every conflict - unless you rely on the US media for information about the battle in Lebanon. Viewers have been fed a diet of partisan coverage which treats Israel as the good guys and their Hizbollah enemy as the incarnation of evil




If these were normal times, the American view of the conflict in Lebanon might look something like the street scenes that have electrified the suburbs of Detroit for the past four weeks.

In Dearborn, home to the Ford Motor Company and also the highest concentration of Arab Americans in the country, up to 1000 people have turned out day after day to express their outrage at the Israeli military campaign and mourn the loss of civilian life in Lebanon. At one protest in late July, 15,000 people - almost half of the local Arab American population - showed up in a sea of Lebanese flags, along with anti-Israeli and anti-Bush slogans.

A few miles to the north, in the heavily Jewish suburb of Southfield, meanwhile, the Congregation Shaarey Zedek synagogue has played host to passionate counter-protests in which the US and Israeli national anthems are played back to back and demonstrators have asserted that it is Israel's survival, not Lebanon's, that is at stake here.

Such is the normal exercise of free speech in an open society, one might think. But these are not normal times. The Detroit protests have been tinged with paranoia and justifiable fear on both sides. Several Jewish institutions in the area, including two community centres and several synagogues, have hired private security guards in response to an incident in Seattle at the end of July, in which a mentally unstable 30-year-old Muslim walked into a Jewish Federation building and opened fire, killing one person and injuring five others.

On the Arab American side, many have expressed reluctance to stand up and be counted among the protesters for fear of being tinged by association with Hizbollah, which is on the United States' list of terrorist organisations. (As a result, the voices heard during the protests tend to be the more extreme ones.) They don't like to discuss their political views in any public forum, following the revelation a few months ago that the National Security Agency was wiretapping phone calls and e-mail exchanges as part of the Bush administration's war on terror.

They are even afraid to donate money to help the civilian victims of the war in Lebanon because of the intense scrutiny Islamic and Arab charities have been subjected to since the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration has denounced 40 charities worldwide as financiers of terrorism, and arrested and deported dozens of people associated with them. Consequently, while Jewish charities such as the United Jewish Communities are busy raising $300m to help families affected by the Katyusha rockets raining down on northern Israel, donations to the Lebanese victims have come in at no more than a trickle.

Outside Detroit and a handful of other cities with sizeable Arab American populations, it is hard to detect that there are two sides to the conflict at all. The Dearborn protests have received almost no attention nationally, and when they have it has usually been to denounce the participants as extremists and apologists for terrorism - either because they have voiced support for Hizbollah or because they have carried banners in which the Star of David at the centre of the Israeli flag has been replaced by a swastika.

The media, more generally, has left little doubt in the minds of a majority of American news consumers that the Israelis are the good guys, the aggrieved victims, while Hizbollah is an incarnation of the same evil responsible for bringing down the World Trade Centre, a heartless and faceless organisation whose destruction is so important it can justify all the damage Israel is inflicting on Lebanon and its civilians.

The point is not that this viewpoint is necessarily wrong. The point - and this is what distinguishes the US from every other Western country in its attitude to the conflict - is that it is presented as a foregone conclusion. Not only is there next to no debate, but debate itself is considered unnecessary and suspect.

The 24-hour cable news stations are the worst offenders. Rupert Murdoch's Fox News has had reporters running around northern Israel chronicling every rocket attack and every Israeli mobilisation, but has shown little or no interest in anything happening on the other side of the border. It is a rarity on any of the cable channels to see any Arab being tapped for expert opinion on the conflict. A startling amount of airtime, meanwhile, is given to the likes of Michael D Evans, an end-of-the-world Biblical "prophet" with no credentials in the complexities of Middle Eastern politics. He has shown up on MSNBC and Fox under the label "Middle East analyst". Fox's default analyst, on this and many other issues, has been the right-wing provocateur and best-selling author Ann Coulter, whose main credential is to have opined, days after 9/11, that what America should do to the Middle East is "invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity".

Often, the coverage has been hysterical and distasteful. In the days following the Israeli bombing of Qana, several pro-Israeli bloggers started spreading a hoax story that Hizbollah had engineered the event, or stage-managed it by placing dead babies in the rubble for the purpose of misleading reporters. Oliver North, the Reagan-era orchestrator of the Iran-Contra affair who is now a right-wing television and radio host, and Michelle Malkin, a sharp-tongued Bush administration cheerleader who runs her own weblog, appeared on Fox News to give credence to the hoax - before the Israeli army came forward to take responsibility and brought the matter to at least a partial close.

As the conflict has gone on, the media interpretation of it has only hardened. Essentially, the line touted by cable news hosts and their correspondents - closely adhering to the line adopted by the Bush administration and its neoconservative supporters - is that Hizbollah is part of a giant anti-Israeli and anti-American terror network that also includes Hamas, al-Qa'ida, the governments of Syria and Iran, and the insurgents in Iraq. Little effort is made to distinguish between these groups, or explain what their goals might be. The conflict is presented as a straight fight between good and evil, in which US interests and Israeli interests intersect almost completely. Anyone who suggests otherwise is likely to be pounced on and ripped to shreds.

When John Dingell, a Democratic congressman from Michigan with a large Arab American population in his constituency, gave an interview suggesting it was wrong for the US to take sides instead of pushing for an end to violence, he was quickly - and loudly - accused of being a Hizbollah apologist. Newt Gingrich, the Republican former House speaker, accused him of failing to draw any moral distinction between Hizbollah and Israel. Rush Limbaugh, the popular conservative talk-show host, piled into him, as did the conservative newspaper The Washington Times. The Times was later forced to admit it had quoted Dingell out of context and reprinted his full words, including: " I condemn Hizbollah, as does everyone else, for the violence."

The hysteria has extended into the realm of domestic politics, especially since this is a congressional election year. Republican have sought to depict last week's primary defeat of the Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, one of the loudest cheerleaders for the Iraq war, as some sort of wacko extremist anti-Semitic, anti-Israeli stand that risks undermining national security. Vice-President Dick Cheney said Lieberman's defeat would encourage "al-Qa'ida types" to think they can break the will of Americans. The fact that the man who beat Lieberman, Ned Lamont, is an old-fashioned East Coast Wasp who was a registered Republican for much of his life is something Mr Cheney chose to overlook.

Part of the Republican strategy this year is to attack any media that either attacks them or has the temerity to report facts that contradict the official party line. Thus, when Reuters was forced to withdraw a photograph of Beirut under bombardment because one of its stringers had doctored the image to increase the black smoke, it was a chance to rip into the news agency over its efforts to be even-handed. In a typical riposte, Michelle Malkin denounced Reuters as "a news service that seems to have made its mark rubber-stamping pro-Hizbollah propaganda".

She was not the only one to take that view. Mainstream, even liberal, publications have echoed her line. Tim Rutten, the Los Angeles Times liberal media critic, denounced the "obscenely anti-Israeli tenor of most of the European and world press" in his most recent column.

It is not just the US media which tilts in a pro-Israeli direction. Congress, too, is remarkably unified in its support for the Israeli government, and politicians more generally understand that to criticise Israel is to risk jeopardising their future careers. When Antonio Villaraigosa, the up-and-coming Democratic Mayor of Los Angeles, was first invited to comment on the Middle East crisis, he sounded a note so pro-Israeli that he was forced to apologise to local Muslim and Arab community leaders. There is far less public debate of Israeli policy in the US, in fact, than there is in Israel itself.

This is less a reflection of American Jewish opinion - which is more diverse than is suggested in the media - than it is a commentary on the power of pro-Israeli lobby groups like Aipac, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, which bankrolls pro-Israeli congressional candidates. That, in turn, is frustrating to liberal Jews like Michael Lerner, a San Francisco rabbi who heads an anti-war community called Tikkun. Rabbi Lerner has tried to argue for years that it is in Israel's best interests to reach a peaceful settlement, and that demonising Arabs as terrorists is counter-productive and against Judaism.

Lerner is probably right to assert that he speaks for a large number of American Jews, only half of whom are affiliated with pro-Israeli lobbying organisations. Certainly, dinner party conversation in heavily Jewish cities like New York suggest misgivings about Israel's strategic aims, even if there is some consensus that Hizbollah cannot be allowed to strike with impunity.

Few, if any, of those misgivings have entered the US media. "There is no major figure in American political life who has been willing to raise the issue of the legitimate needs of the Palestinian people, or even talk about them as human beings," Lerner said. "The organised Jewish community has transformed the image of Judaism into a cheering squad for the Israeli government, whatever its policies are. That is just idolatry, and goes against all the warnings in the Bible about giving too much power to the king or the state."

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Also of interest is this story, Is America Watching a Different War?, from Democracy Now!
-- DJEB

Some people will try to cash in on anything

Check out Peters recent post Because they would have wanted it that way over at So much trouble in the world.

Just when you thought we had reached the absolute limits of tasteless

Operation "Change of Location"?

A team of Israeli lawyers is now suing the Lebanese government for starting the war. The case, to be filed in US civil court, will sue for compensation and damages incurred by Israeli residents and businesses as a result of the war.



Attorneys Yehudah Talmon, Yoram Dantziger and Nitzah Libai claim the Lebanese government violated international law because it didn't stop Hezbollah's casus belli cross-border raid against Israel.

Israel's justification for its 'self-defense' attack on Lebanon, and the placement of the original "provocation" will take on new legal significance in coming months. Who infiltrated whom, and on what territory did the initial capture of the IDF soldiers occur? Differing press accounts stating that the capture occurred in Lebanon- not Israel- are now widely known: most frequently cited are AFP, Hindustan Times, Deutsch Press Agency, Asia Times, Bahrain News Agency and Voltairenet. Others reflect changes of direction in the recording of basic facts.

Newsweek's Michael Hirsh of MSNBC.com, on July 12, said: "As a result, things are blowing up so quickly it's difficult to know where to focus any longer. After the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah in Lebanon on Wednesday, which the hard-line group linked to a similar kidnapping by Hamas the week before, the mideast seemed to be closer to all-out war."

By July 13, the story out of MSNBC.com's Jerusalem bureau was different. In a piece titled "Crisis allows Israel to pursue strategic goals- Kidnappings give Israel excuse to neutralize Hamas, Hezbollah", Jerusalem bureau chief Steven Gutkin wrote: "Kidnappings changed everything: All that changed Wednesday, when Hezbollah guerillas crossed into Israel, seizing Goldwasser and Regev and killing eight other soldiers in the ensuing fighting."

AP also ran changed versions. On July 12, at 5:41AM Joseph Panossian wrote: "The militant group Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes Wednesday across the border in southern Lebanon, prompting a swift reaction from Israel, which sent ground forces into its neighbor to look for them."

At 7:09 AM, Panossian had altered his report: "The Hezbollah militant group captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes along the Lebanese border on Wednesday."

By late afternoon, at 4:13 PM, AP's Panossian had completely shifted location: "Hezbollah militants crossed into Israel on Wednesday and captured two Israeli soldiers. Israel responded in southern Lebanon with warplanes, tanks and gunboats, and said eight of its soldiers had been killed in the violence."

Israeli sources went almost unnoticed. Cybercast News Service (CNSNews.com) of July 12 said: "The abduction of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah militants in southern Lebanon was not a terrorist attack but an act of war, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Wednesday."

Australia's ABC News (Reuters) on July 13 quoted the IDF: "The sources say the Israeli soldiers had been seized at around 9am local time across the border from Aita al Shaab, some 15 kilometers from the Mediterranean coast. The Israeli army confirmed that two Israeli soldiers had been captured on the Lebanese frontier. Israeli ground forces crossed into Lebanon to hunt for the missing soldiers, Israeli Army Radio said."

Voice of America, Jerusalem, on July 12 said: "Speaking to reporters outside the Israeli Foreign Ministry, spokesman Mark Regev says Hezbollah is responsible for the violence. "It appears we have an escalation in the North," he said. "It is very clear that the escalation started on the Lebanese side of the border, and Israel will respond appropriately."

In his article "Casus Belli", IDF Brigadier General Moshe Yaalon wrote: "The present crisis was initiated- in Gaza by Hamas and in southern Lebanon by Hezbollah- from lands that are not under Israeli occupation." New Republic, July 31.

A quote by Hamas political bureau member Mohammad Nazzal in the July 13 edition of Haaretz said: "This is a heroic operation carried out against military targets and so it is a legitimate operation, especially as it took place in occupied Lebanese territory."

A Lebanese government official told this writer that the first information about the soldiers' capture in southern Lebanon came from the Lebanese Army Police, a source also quoted in many media accounts. "At the beginning the Lebanese Army said it was on the Lebanese side," the official told me. The verbatim Army communique' to the Lebanese government follows: " 'At 9:03 or 9:05am in the vicinity or in front of Ayt Al Shaab village the members of the resistance have abducted two soldiers. At 9:15am the resistance shelled the position of the enemy in the occupied territories. At 10:10am the Resistance and Israeli forces clashed with each other in the area of Naqoura,' on Lebanon's side of the border."

Lebanon's Ambassador to the US, Farid Abboud discussed the events publicly on July 12, 2006. Because of his stance to CNN Abboud was reprimanded, and recalled to Lebanon._

MICHAEL HOLMES, CNN International: "You say that you don't want any escalations, but ...

FARID ABBOUD: No, we don't.

HOLMES: ... but crossing over the border into Israel, killing and--seizing soldiers, what did you think would happen?

ABBOUD: I'm not sure where the location of the attack took place. I understand that there was another battle, also, where during which the Israelis crossed Lebanese soil and that the casualties that fell then were inside Lebanon territory ... We do not want any escalation, and I don't think we have ever attacked Israel. I mean, Israel has always occupied our territory, and we have always defended ourselves. Our position has always been very reactive, defensive.

This writer then spoke to the chief of the Lebanese Defense Cabinet General Edmond Fadel in Beirut for clarification. He said he was not authorized to speak on Hezbollah's position.

Hezbollah's position had been cited in the Jerusalem Post of July 12 : "Hizbullah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said the timing of the capture of two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon on Wednesday would boost the position of Palestinians in Gaza."

It was a view Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim Mousawi had reiterated to me on July 16 by phone. He insisted that the crisis occurred on the Lebanese side of the border "in front of the village of Ayt Al Shaab" adjacent to a military post.

On August 2, I discussed the kidnapping issue again with Hezbollah's Mousawi in Beirut.

Q: We spoke earlier on July 16, 2006 about this issue and I would like to make it official. The Lebanese Army has claimed that the Israeli soldiers captured on July 12, 2006 were captured in Lebanon, not Israel as we hear in the US. Were they caught inside Israel or Lebanon?

MOUSAWI: How can you possibly say Israel? This is an occupied land, occupied Palestine.

Q: Alright. Was it in occupied Palestine or Lebanon?

MOUSAWI: It was in Lebanon, on the border.

Q: On the border- What town? Where was it near?

MOUSAWI: There is no town. It was a military post.

Q: Did Hezbollah cross over into Israel?

MOUSAWI: This has never been claimed by Hezbollah- only on the border. And don't say Israel- its occupied Palestine.

Q: The IDF soldiers in the tank who hit the mine and were killed?

MOUSAWI: It was all in the Lebanese lands when they wanted to penetrate- to go after the resistance.... No one believes anymore that this is about the two soldiers, not with the destruction of the infrastructure. Besides, Hezbollah got information that this Israeli aggression was scheduled to take place this September or October...

According to Attorney Yehudah Talmon, Israelis will also sue to collect money from Lebanese assets and property in the United States. "No group associated in any way, shape or form to Hizbullah is immune to these claims." Never mind if the claims are based on shifting boundaries.

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