Thursday, February 21, 2013

Let us not be the evil we deplore

Congress waited six years to repeal the Tonkin Gulf Resolution after it opened the bloody floodgates for the Vietnam War in August 1964.
If that seems slow, consider the continuing failure of Congress to repeal the “war on terror” resolution—the Authorization for Use of Military Forcethat sailed through, with just one dissenting vote, three days after 9/11.
Prior to casting the only “no” vote, Congresswoman Barbara Lee spoke on the House floor. “As we act,” she said, “let us not become the evil that we deplore.” - Common Dreams

The US Dollar Roars Back

China loves the US dollar again as America roars back ... China's central bank has radically revised its view of US economic and strategic power, predicting that the dollar will remain the world's paramount reserve currency for decades to come. Dr Jin said the world was moving to a '1+4' system, with the greenback serving as the anchor of global payments ... Jin Zhongxia, head of the central bank's research institute, said America's energy revolution and export revival had shaken up the global landscape and would lead to a stronger dollar over time. "The dollar's global dominance will continue," he said. – UK Telegraph
Dominant Social Theme: The US economy is fine shape.
Free-Market Analysis: China's central bankers have decided that the US economy is in fine shape, according to the UK Telegraph. This doesn't make much sense, given the US's generalized economic and socio-political difficulties but we wouldn't expect China's central planners to figure this out.
Apparently, Dr. Jin and other Chinese bankers believe the world is moving "to a '1+4' system, with the greenback serving as the anchor of global payments, supplemented by 'four smaller reserve currencies' – the euro, sterling, yen and yuan."
The Daily Bell

The People Want Five Pounds' Phone Credit

The people want something new [to think about]
The people want five pounds’ phone credit
The people want to topple the regime
But the people are so damn tired.

Egyptian Song

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

No human being is illegal - Chris Hedges

“Repentance is more than merely being sorry,” the Rev. Joyce Antila Phipps, the executive director of Casa de Esperanza, a community organization working with immigrants, told the gathering. “It is an act of turning around and then moving forward to make change.”
The majority of those we incarcerate in this country—and we incarcerate a quarter of the world’s prison population—have never committed a violent crime. Eleven million undocumented immigrants face the possibility of imprisonment and deportation. President Barack Obama, outpacing George W. Bush, has deported more than 400,000 people since he took office. Families, once someone is seized, detained and deported, are thrown into crisis. Children come home from school and find they have lost their mothers or fathers. The small incomes that once sustained them are snuffed out. Those who remain behind often become destitute.
But human beings matter little in the corporate state.
Common Dreams

Boy in the Crosshairs

There's been considerable uproar after an Israeli soldier and sniper randomly posted a photo online showing a Palestinian boy in the crosshairs of a rifle. The IDF calls it "a severe incident which doesn't accord with the IDF's spirit and values." On the contrary: Breaking the Silence and other activists call it dehumanizing business as usual for an Occupation that routinely teaches soldiers to view Palestinian children as targets. The posting is the latest in a grotesque trend that's been dubbed "war sporno."
-Abby Zimet

Monday, February 18, 2013

Krystal & Toure join Dem Drone Bombers

"Indeed, as many Bush followers themselves admit, the central belief of the Bush follower's 'conservatism' is no longer one that [subscribes] to a limited federal government - but is precisely that there ought to be no limits on the powers claimed by Bush precisely because we trust him, and we trust in him absolutely. He wants to protect us and do good. He is not our enemy but our protector. And there is no reason to entertain suspicions or distrust of him or his motives because he is Good.

Meteorite = 20 Hiroshima Bombs Hits Russia

A 10,000-tonne meteorite exploded over the Russian Urals with the force of 20 Hiroshima bombs on Friday morning, injuring 1,200 people and damaging 3,000 buildings in 6 cities, in one of the harshest places in the country. In response, Russian netizens eagerly traded rough survival humor and meteor memes.
Global Voices

Feminine Mystique - 50 Years Later

Peter Dreier, Truthout: The Feminine Mystique - published on February 19, 1963 - catalyzed the modern feminist movement, helped forever change Americans' attitudes about women's role in society and catapulted its author into becoming an influential and controversial public figure.

They Still Cling to Guns and Religion

"When Obama made his controversial "guns and religion" comment almost five years ago, I'm sure he never envisioned the kind of backlash to his election that has caused those right-wing obsessions to grow exponentially." OEN

What is Most Lofty Form of Jihad?

Ja’far Abd Al-Salam: The spirit of resistance is nurtured by the ideology of Islam. “Allah purchased from the believers their lives and their property, in return for Paradise.” For a Muslim, life is worthless unless it is given away and spent for the sake of Allah. This culture is nurtured by Islam and by patriotism.


Only great pain makes a great man. The great pain of martyrdom leads to the great reward of Paradise. Brother, this culture does not exist in the West, because Westerners value human life very much.

Interviewer: They focus on the material at the expense of the spiritual.

Ja’far Abd Al-Salam: Maybe you have noticed that the thing that frightens the Jews, or Zionists, most of all is being killed. We do not have this kind of fear.


It is certain that Islam views [suicide operations] as sacrifice and as the most lofty form of Jihad.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Chuck Hagel Humiliation

The humiliation doesn't end for Secretary of Defense designate Chuck Hagel. On Friday, Senators Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) sent Hagel a letter asking him whether Israel still controls the State Department (

Jessie Jackson Jr. Charged with Stealing $750,000

As Bloomberg summarizes, "he pushed to maintain government support for the poor, including welfare, assistance for heating bills and the Head Start early education program." He certainly was very generous with other people's money.
So generous, in fact, that hours ago he was charged with "misusing", also known as stealing, some $750,000 in campaign funds for purchases including a $43,350 gold Rolex watch, $5,150 for fur capes and parkas, $9,588 worth of "children's furniture", Michael Jackson and Bruce Lee memorabilia and much more.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Chavez off the air - Listening Post - Al Jazeera English

Chavez off the air - Listening Post - Al Jazeera English

r the past month, Venezuelans have been watching a curious and very serious drama unfold on their television screens.
At the centre of the story is Hugo Chavez, Venezuela's president. The man who has dominated politics for more than a decade has been off the air, out of sight for six weeks now, but very much in the news.
Chavez is reportedly still in Cuba undergoing cancer treatment. In his absence, the president’s chair has sat empty and both sides of Venezuela’s deeply polarised media are fighting to control the narrative.
State media have been tasked with keeping an absent Chavez in the public eye. The state-run Telesur – or ‘Tele-Chavez’ as its critics see it – is struggling to fill airtime with their main man away from the cameras, especially while the opposition are raising uncomfortable questions not only about Chavez’s health but also about the political future of the country.
Listening Post’s Marcela Pizarro looks at the president’s failing health, what is at stake politically and the media battle that is so central to the story. She talks to former Venezuelan communications minister, Andres Izarra; Sebastian de la Nuez, from Universidad Católica Andrés Bello; Elsy Barroeta, the executive producer for Globovision News; and the author Oscar Guardiola-Rivera.
"The story of Chavez and the media goes a long way back. It isn't unique to Chavez, it isn't unique in Latin America, but it is singular to left-leaning leaders in Latin America, who are confronting media who belong to monopolistic economic groups. Chavez has created another space for the formation of opinion and information ...
In the case of Chavez and his relationship with state media, there is always the danger that he becomes the sole protagonist of the story. Better coverage would be one that focuses also how these social movements are inventing political institutions of their own. That story tends not to be told, not even by state media sympathetic to Chavez and there is always a risk that, if you concentrate solely on the figure, once the figure is absent, once the figure is not there, you find yourself without the real story."
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, the author of What if Latin America Ruled the World?

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Tufts and Cornell Students call for Divestment

The climate will neither repair itself, nor will fossil fuels be replaced with sustainable energy, if we do not put pressure on dirty energy industries. Most scientists agree that we, as a planet, are approaching a tipping point in the climate battle; if a movement to divest were to exist, like it did for Apartheid thirty years ago, it should be now, not later.
Common Dreams

Monday, February 11, 2013

WH toothless progressives

The White House shares with the Republican right and the corporate center-right the assumption that we achieve a full economic recovery by targeting a lower debt ratio by 2023, and that we reduce the debt ratio by cutting the deficit.
As recent events have shown (in case there was any doubt) this sequence is backwards. The debt ratio comes down when the economy recovers. Fiscal contraction slows the recovery, and the loss of public investment denies the government the very tools it needs to use education and infrastructure to help rebuild the middle class.
Robert Kuttner, Common Dreams

Will Ofir ben Shetreet remain observant?

I do not know if Ophir Ben Shetreet will remain observant, but if she doesn’t, I may know the reason why. – Barry Gelman

Israel's Rising Orthodox Star

Last month, when the new season of the Israeli reality show The Voice—the local version of NBC’s hit singing competition—debuted, no one expected extraordinary drama. Marching up to the studio’s stage, the eager contestants looked like the usual grab-bag of talent show aspirants: the frustrated actor, the high-school ingénue, the bartender who crooned to overcome her personal hardships, and so on.
Then it was Ofir Ben Sheetrit’s turn.
Ben Sheetrit—at 17, one of the youngest of the show’s more than 50 contestants—is a student at an Orthodox yeshiva for girls in Ashdod and the only Orthodox young woman in the competition. Before she stepped in front of the microphone, she briefly introduced herself. “I’ve loved singing ever since I was little,” she said. “I’m looking for a way to cultivate my talent.” One of the show’s producers asked her if religion would get in the way; many Orthodox Jews consider the public singing of women immodest. Ben Sheetrit smiled sweetly. “I think the Torah wants us to be happy,” she said. “It wants music to make people happy. I think you can combine Torah and music, and this is why I chose to come on the show.” With that, she started singing an Israeli classic, Ofra Haza’s “Od Mechaka La’Echad.”
Tablet Magazine

Benedict XVI to step down as Pope at end of month

Citing advancing age and diminished energy, Pope Benedict XVI will reportedly become the first pope in six hundred years to voluntarily resign from the post.
The 85-year-old pontiff announced that he would step down at the end of the month after less than eight years as top dog in the Vatican.
Reuters quoted the Pope as saying he was “fully aware of the gravity” of his resignation.
The former Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger drew some criticism in the Jewish community for moving Pope Pius XII–known by some ’round these parts as the Holocaust Pope–closer to sainthood despite Pius’ widely perceived inaction during World War II and the Holocaust. In 2009, Benedict also controversially lifted the excommunication of four bishops, one of whom is a Holocaust denier.
Despite this, Israel’s Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger had warm words and strong praise for Benedict XVI.

Terror Comes to the Oscars: The Gatekeepers

Perhaps as astonishing as what the intelligence elite have said is their having sat down with a documentary filmmaker. In an interview, Moreh told me he used only 2 percent of some 50 hours of interviews he taped with the former heads of the Shin Bet. He is working on a five-hour series for Israeli TV; a book is in process. He hopes to screen the film on the West Bank, where it hasn’t yet been shown; Arabs who have attended film festivals in Europe and America have told him they were deeply moved by it, he told me, when I sat down with him recently in New York. They know such a film could never have been made in any of their own countries.
Moreh’s question about whether Israel is becoming a “Shin Bet” state has prompted some Israeli extremists to threaten him. “You should see my Facebook page,” he told me. “One blogger said I should get cancer.” But Moreh has few illusions about the Palestinians. His overhead shot of the bombing of bus Number 5 is hard to watch. He would never forget, he told me, seeing a young girl blown to pieces in a suicide bus bombing. “Those horrific images are embedded in my memory,” he said. At the same time, he argues that refusing to criticize Israeli policy is a form of betrayal. “A real friend does not encourage the Titanic’s captain to keep heading straight for the iceberg,” he said. “He doesn’t yell—full steam ahead!”
Judith Miller, Tablet Magazine

GOP plan to put the US into the Toilet

We already have a red-state model, and it’s called Mississippi. Or Texas. Or any number of states characterized by low public investment, worker abuse, environmental degradation, educational backwardness, high rates of unwanted pregnancy, poor health, and so on.
Now the GOP is determined to bring that horrible model to the rest of America. - AlterNet

Bankrupt Farmer Sues Monsanto in SCOTUS

The company maintains that when farmers like Bowman plant Monsanto’s seeds, they are obligated to harvest only the resulting crop and not use any of it for planting the following year. The arrangement means that farmers have to buy new Monsanto seeds each year.
“[D]espite the vast sums of money involved in modern farming, it is ironically Bowman’s own lack of cash that has seen the case end up at the supreme court,” Paul Harris reports at The Guardian. “Monsanto has a long record of reaching settlements with commercially pressured farmers it targets for patent infringements. But when the firm sued Bowman, he was already bankrupt after an unrelated land deal went wrong. Thus, he had little to lose. ‘I made up my mind to fight it until I could not fight it anymore,’ he said. ‘I thought: I am not going to play dead.’ ” Truthdig

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Wind Power - Just Better?

Australian Wind Energy Now Cheaper Than Coal, Gas, BNEF Says ... Wind is now cheaper than fossil fuels in producing electricity in Australia, the world's biggest coal exporter, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Electricity can be supplied from a new wind farm in Australia at a cost of A$80 ($84) per megawatt hour, compared with A$143 a megawatt hour from a new coal-fired power plant or A$116 from a new station powered by natural gas when the cost of carbon emissions is included, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance report. – Bloomberg
cited by The Daily Bell

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Kill Him Silently Part 2 - Al Jazeera World

Kill Him Silently - Al Jazeera World - Al Jazeera English

he second part of the film shows events following the failed assassination attempt, including behind-the-scenes discussions during the diplomatic struggle involving Jordan, Israel and the US.

Retired Major-General Ali Shukri, who was the manager of the office of Jordan's King Hussein back in 1997, played a key role in managing the crisis that ensued following the Israeli attack on Meshaal.

"King Hussein called President Clinton and informed him of what had happened. Clinton listened with astonishment. He couldn't believe that could happen in Jordan. By the end of the conversation Clinton was angry and said: "That man is impossible!", referring to Netanyahu.

"King Hussein informed Clinton of his demands – the antidote and the nature of the [toxins] used against Meshaal. He told him the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel would be over if Meshaal died."

At the same time, Danny Yatom, then chief of the Mossad, immediately travelled to Amman to meet King Hussein, who was reportedly furious with Yatom.

The aim of Yatom's trip: To contain the situation.

With tensions running high, King Hussein ordered his security forces to surround the Israeli embassy in Amman, where other members of the Mossad assassination squad were believed to be hiding.

Meanwhile doctors at the Hussein Medical City hospital were struggling to diagnose Meshaal, who already lay in a coma.

After expert consultation the doctors concluded that a large amount of an opiate-like drug had been administered to Meshaal. Tests showed it was a drug similar to morphine, which if administered in high doses, would have the effect of disabling the body's respiratory system.

On September 27, Meshaal came out of the coma, appearing to return from the dead.

The media knew nothing of the secret negotiations between Jordan and Israel, or King Hussein's demand for the antidote, until later.

The Israeli government and the secret service came under Israeli media fire for a double humiliation – of failing to kill the Hamas leader without being caught and of being forced to release the founder of Hamas from jail in a prisoner exchange deal.

Kill Him Silently is the story behind Mossad's bungled bid to assassinate Meshaal and the part the operation played in the Palestinian group's rise to power.

Kill Him Silently - Bungled Assassination of Hamas Leader - Al Jazeera - AJE

Kill Him Silently - Al Jazeera World - Al Jazeera English

Filmmaker: Yaser Abu Hilalah- Part 1
On September 25, 1997, the Israeli secret service tried to kill Khaled Meshaal, the Palestinian political leader of the Hamas movement.

A six-member team had arrived in the Jordanian capital, Amman, a week before the date set for the assassination of the head of the Hamas political bureau who was living in exile.

The Israeli agents had entered through Jordan's Queen Alia International airport from Amsterdam, Toronto and Paris using false Canadian passports.
Connect with Al Jazeera World
Interviewed in the film, Meshaal says: "The Israeli threats started that summer. Israel had tried but failed to prevent Palestinian operations. So it escalated its threats especially against Hamas leaders abroad. With hindsight, those threats reveal what the Israelis were planning. But at the same time we felt relatively at ease since Israel had never carried out an operation in Jordan."

Mossad's move to assassinate Meshaal came in the wake of a series of suicide bombings Hamas carried out in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. The attacks had left over 20 Israelis dead and hundreds injured.

Israel was enraged and Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, called for an urgent meeting with his security services, including Mossad. He wanted a significant and telling strike against Hamas.

The objective was clear: retaliation.

At the same time there was a growing sense of mutual irritation at the heart of the Jordanian-Israeli relations. With this backdrop, Netanyahu gave the green light for the Mossad covert operation against Meshaal.

It was to involve a slow-acting but lethal poison that would gradually shut down the brain's respiratory centre, leading to death. The plan was to spray the toxin into Meshaal's ears, leaving no apparent trace of any weapon, and leading to death within 48 hours.

One of Meshaal's bodyguards, Muhammad Abu Saif, had chased the two Mossad agents who had carried out the operation and, with the help of a passing Palestinian Liberation Army officer, later captured them.

The failed assassination proved to be one of the greatest fiascos in the history of special operations, and a pivotal moment in the rise of Hamas.

This two-part film features exclusive interviews with Meshaal himself as well as with Danny Yatom, the then head of the Mossad, who masterminded the attempt to kill the Hamas leader, and who later fled to Jordan with the antidote that saved Meshaal's life.

Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi: Everyone Pays If the Banksters Don't Go to Jail | Alternet

Bill Moyers and Matt Taibbi: Everyone Pays If the Banksters Don't Go to Jail | Alternet


"She (Mary Jo White) dropped out and made the move a lot of regulators make, leaving government to make bucket loads of money, working for the people she used to police." And I gather your great concern is that you don't want to see the country's top financial cop being indebted to the people who created the bank role?
MATT TAIBBI: Right. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, it's just simple common sense. I mean, you're sitting on $10 million, $15 million, however much money she made working there at Debevoise and Plimpton when she was a partner and you owe that money to this specific group of clients and now you're in charge of policing them, just psychologically think of that. It doesn't really work, you know? It doesn't really work in terms of how aggressive a prosecutor should be, what his attitude towards the people he's supposed to be policing should be. It's just, the circumstances just aren't quite right. You'd much rather see a career civil servant in that in that situation.
BILL MOYERS: She was once a tough prosecutor. What's your beef?
MATT TAIBBI: Well, you know, I have people who are telling me that I'm wrong about this, that Mary Jo White was an excellent prosecutor and she's a good choice. But, you know I've done stories in the past about an episode, you had an SEC investigator named Gary Aguirre who was pursing an insider trading case against the future CEO of Morgan Stanley. He asked for permission to interview that future CEO. His name was John Mack. It was denied. And it was because there was communication between Morgan Stanley's lawyer, who at the time was Mary Jo White and the higher ups at the SEC who included the director of enforcement, Linda Thomsen. Aguirre was later fired for complaining about having this investigation squelched.
BILL MOYERS: Blowing the whistle.
MATT TAIBBI: For blowing the whistle. But the SEC was later forced to pay a $750,000 wrongful termination suit to Aguirre in that case. But what's so interesting is that Aguirre's boss, the guy who killed that case went to work for Mary Jo White's firm nine months after the case died. And he got, you know, a multi-million dollar position. It's a classic example of how the revolving door works in Washington. You know, you have these regulators at the SEC. And they know that there's that job out there waiting for them. So how hard are they really going to regulate these companies when they know they can get that money?
But in Washington, you know, people kind of shake their heads at it because it's so common you know, that these people, they move from government back to, you know, these high priced legal defense firms that represent the banks. And then they go back to government again. And it's this sort of, this coterie of, you know, 100, 200 lawyers who really run this entire thing. And it's all the same people on both sides.
BILL MOYERS: Lanny Breuer was one of them. He was in a very prestigious Washington law firm. Jack Lew, the new incoming secretary of the Treasury if he gets approved, served three years at Citigroup. His record there, according to “The Wall Street Journal” was not very lustrous for a man who's about to take over the Treasury Department. But “The Wall Street Journal” suggests that he got his job, not because he had the experience, but because he was a crony of Robert Rubin.
MATT TAIBBI: Jack Lew served in the Clinton administration. I think he worked in the OMB in the, you know, Office of Management of the Budget. And he was one of the key players in helping pass the repeal of Glass-Steagall. And, you know, this is kind of the way it works. It's not a one to one, you know, obvious connection. But, you know, Glass-Steagall was repealed specifically to legalize the merger of Citi Group. And, you know, coincidentally Bob Rubin, who was the Treasury secretary and Jack Lew end up working at Citi Group five, ten years later. And they make enormous amounts of money. And then they go back to government. And again, this is just sort of this merry-go-round that everybody in Washington knows about. And that's the way it works.