Subject : ON CONTROL FREAKS OUT OF CONTROL AND OTHER DISASTERS.
1 February 2008
Dear Colleagues and Friends of CEIMSA,
It was many calendar years ago, but it seems like only yesterday, that the counter-revolution in the United States was just taking off. Ronald Reagan's second-term Chief of Staff, Howard Baker (1987-88), coined an expression at that time which would become a mantra, second only to "There's no free lunch!". "Learn to enjoy the luxury of possessing an unexpressed thought" was the conservative advice offered by Baker. This humorous and seemingly harmless phrase served the conservatives well, who after all have never been strong in the domain of coherent social theory, being satisfied instead with serving as a drag on progressive forces by adopting as their main purpose in political life the slowing down of progressive reforms. What better slogan to adopt in this modern farce of recasting the Age of Metternich than one which endorses a harmless self-censorship, a cultural expression that seemed to legitimate the popular injunction of the day, "Do your own thing." Political culture became less noisy under the subsequent counter-revolutionary regimes of Bush I, and Clinton I, and Bush II. Corporate capitalism was on the offensive once again, after the set back it had suffered during the Vietnam war era.
But beneath the facade of calm in the 1980s an economic warfare ravaged America and much of the world. Government austerity plans and military/police aid to keep social order were adopted by governments around the world and inside the United States in desperate efforts to stabilize a social environment favorable to the private profit economy that was careening out of control. Authentic democratic movements had to be crushed to protect the motor force of private greed that ran the economy. This war had many battle fields.
For those living in the environment of political self-censorship, the only game in town was to make more money. But the playing field was not level, and a few people had enormous advantages over everyone else. What could seem more natural than to retool the economy to accommodate capital investments in disasters, and from this restructuring it was a short jump to showcase disaster areas in order to drum up business in the growing security industry. According to Naomi Klein, Israeli investors got in on this opportunity at the ground floor. The modern Midas Touch was to turn oppression into opportunity and resistance into capital resources, even if it cost the lives of many thousands of "friends" and "foes."
In a remarkable piece of investigative reporting, Naomi Klein offers the following information (taken from pages 436-439 of her new book, Shock Doctrine) :
Clearly, Israel's hermetic siege of Gaza, designed to kill, cause serious bodily and mental harm, and deliberately inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about partial and gradual physical destruction, qualifies as an act of genocide, if not all-out genocide yet. And the EU is suspiciously silent.
But why accuse Europe, in particular, of collusion in this crime when almost the entire international community is not lifting a finger, and the UN's obsequious Secretary-General, who surpassed all his predecessors in obedience to the US government, is pathetically paying only lip service? In addition, what of the US government itself, Israel's most generous sponsor that is directly implicated in the current siege, especially after President George W. Bush, on his recent visit, gave a hardly subtle green light to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ravage Gaza? Why not blame the Palestinians' quiet Arab brethren, particularly Egypt -- the only country that can immediately break the siege by reopening the Rafah crossing and supplying through it the necessary fuel, electric power and emergency supplies? And finally, why not blame the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, whose subservient and visionless leader openly boasted in a press conference its "complete agreement" with Bush on all matters of substance?
After Israel, the US is, without a doubt, the guiltiest party in the current crime. Under the influence of a fundamentalist, militaristic, neo-conservative ideology that has taken over its helms of power and an omnipotent Zionist lobby that is unparalleled in its sway, the US is in a category by itself. It goes without saying that the PA, the UN, as well as Arab and international governments maintaining business as usual with Israel should all be held accountable for acquiescing, whether directly or indirectly, to Israel's crimes against humanity in Gaza. It is also true that each one of the above bears the legal and moral responsibility to intervene and apply whatever necessary pressure to stop the crime before thousands perish. But the EU commands a unique position in all this. It is not only silent and apathetic; in most European countries Israel and Israeli institutions are currently welcomed and sought after with unprecedented warmth, generosity and deference in all fields -- economic, cultural, academic, athletic, etc. For instance, Israel was invited as the guest of honor to a major book fair in Turin, Italy. Israeli government-funded films are featuring in film festivals all over the continent. Israeli products, from avocados and oranges to hi-tech security systems, are flooding European markets like never before. Israeli academic institutions are enjoying a special, very lucrative, association agreement with the relevant organs in the EU. Israeli dance groups, singing bands and orchestras are invited to European tours and festivals as if Israel were not only a normal, but in effect a most favored, member of the so-called "civilized" world. Official Europe's once lackluster embrace of Israel has turned into an intense, open and enigmatic love affair.
If Europe thinks it can thus repent for its Holocaust against its own Jewish population, it is in fact shamefully and consciously facilitating the committal of fresh acts of genocide against the people of Palestine. But Palestinians, it appears, do not count for much, as we are viewed not only by Israel, but also by its good old "white" sponsors and allies as lesser, or relative, humans. The continent that invented modern genocide and was responsible for massacring in the last two centuries more human beings, mostly "relative humans," than all other continents put together is covering up crimes that are reminiscent in quality, though certainly not in quantity, of its own heinous crimes against humanity.
In no other international affair, perhaps, can the European establishment be accused of being as detached from and indifferent to its own public opinion. While calls for boycotting Israel as an apartheid state are slowly but consistently spreading among European civil society organizations and trade unions, drawing disturbing parallels to the boycott of South African apartheid, European governments are finding it difficult to distinguish themselves from the overtly complicit US position vis-a-vis Israel. Even European clichés of condemnation and "expressing deep concern" have become rarer than ever nowadays. Moreover, Israel's relentless and defiant violation of Europe's own human rights laws and conditions are ignored whenever anyone questions whether Israel should continue to benefit from its magnanimous association agreement with the EU despite its military occupation, colonization and horrific record of human rights abuse against its Palestinian victims. If this is not complicity, what is?
Morality aside, sinking Gaza into a sea of darkness, poverty, death and despair cannot bode well for Europe. By actively propping up an environment conducive to the rise of fanaticism and desperate violence near its borders, Europe is foolishly inviting havoc to its doorstep. Instead of heeding -- or at least seriously considering -- calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel, adopted by virtually the entire spectrum of Palestinian civil society, it may soon have to reckon with uncontainable forces of irrational and indiscriminate violence and its resulting chaos.
It seems European elites are currently determined never to oppose Israel, no matter what crimes it commits. It is as if the bellowing -- and increasingly hypocritical -- slogan upheld by Jewish survivors of European genocide, "Never Again!", is now espoused by European elites with one difference: the two letter, 's' and 't', are added at the end.
Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political analyst and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (www.PACBI.org)
From Greg Palast :
Date: Tue, 29 Jan 2008
Subject: One Bush Left Behind
Here’s your question, class :
In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.
Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.
Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”
So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?
-George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.
-$20 won’t cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.
If you can’t buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a “rock” of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kid’s dream for at least 15 minutes.
Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don’t say, ‘crack vials,’ they’re, ‘Democracy Rocks’!
The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, “I have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year – and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.”
Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.
And, there’s an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart.
-For more on Bush and education read "No Child's Behind Left" in Armed Madhouse excerpted here.
-Also read Palast's take on the 2007 State of the Union here.
Greg Palast is the author of the NY Times best-sellers, Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. View Palast's investigative reports for BBC Television on our YouTube Channel.
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Support our work by donating to the Palast Investigative Fund(a 501c3 educational foundation).
from Ralph Nader :
Date: 29 January 2008
Subject: The Clinton canidacy.
For Bill and Hillary Clinton, the ultimate American dream is eight more years. Yet how do you think they would react to having dozens of partisans at their rallies sporting large signs calling for EIGHT MORE YEARS, EIGHT MORE YEARS?
from Allan Nairn
Date: 14 January 2008
Subject: Following Jesus on the Sea of Galilee.
Killing Civilians, Carefully
Precision Bombing in Iraq and Afghanistan
by Allan Nairn
CNN's Ed Henry, their White House correspondent, recently spotted the President of the United States "walking in the footsteps of Jesus along the Sea of Galilee" (CNN International, January 17, 2008 [WIB]).
The Washington Post reports that as the President was walking, troops under his command were bombing Iraq and Afghanistan with increasing intensity. (Josh White, "U.S. Boosts Its Use of Airstrikes In Iraq," Washington Post, Thursday, January 17, 2008).
It's part of the return to the post-Vietnam tactics that worked so well for Washington, substituting US bombs for US troop deaths: lessening the political damage in the US by increasing the physical damage in the place you're bombing.
(The Post quotes Georgetown security studies professor Colin Kahl, who recently visited the US bombers, as noting that "as U.S. forces begin to draw down you may see even more airstrikes.")
The Post, paraphrasing Air Force Lt. Gen. Gary L. North, says that US forces are doing precision bombing, "using 250-pound GBU-39 small-diameter bombs to make blasts safer for civilians."
Regarding precision bombing they quote Marc Garlasco, a Human Rights Watch military analyst: "My major concern with what's going on in Iraq is massive population density... you have the potential for very high civilian casualties, so you need really granular intelligence on what you're going to hit. But I don't think they're being careless."
If you buy this logic, as long as, say, Iraqui insurgent forces weren't being careless, it would be OK on human rights grounds for them to bomb the US White House so long as they had sufficiently "granular intelligence" on where President Bush was sitting, and used one of those 250-pound bombs that "make blasts safer for civilians."
Just hope that at that moment a servant wasn't bringing Bush a cup of coffee, or that he wasn't being visited by nieces, or a Cub Scout troop, or even, say, one of those human rights officials who now consult with General Petraeus or legitimize the idea of bombing countries that have been invaded illegally (according to, say, the British Foreign Office's former deputy legal adviser, who resigned because "an unlawful use of force on such a scale amounts to a crime of aggression") so long as painted on one side of the bombs is the word "precision" (re. the British lawyer, see Steven Marks, "The legality of war," Letters, The Economist, January 5th, 2008).
The whole theory of precision bombing is to narrow down the killing radius so that your piece of metal dropped from the sky (or thrown from a distant tube or ship) behaves like an assassin's bullet.
In theory it, may, in a micro sense, occasionally spare some civilians (that is, in comparison to a hit by a bigger bomb, not in comparison to no bombing), but in both theory and practice, in a macro sense, it's likely to increase the civilian death toll since by making each bomb-drop more legitimate back home it increases the likelihood that there will be more of them, and even the most ardent precision bombers admit that their 250-pounders do get civilians.
Indeed, the Post cites the U.N. Assistance Mission for Iraq as estimating "that more than 200 civilian deaths resulted from U.S. airstrikes in Iraq from the beginning of April to the end of last year, when U.S. forces began to significantly increase the strikes to coordinate with the expansion of ground troops." And re. Afghanistan: "Human rights groups estimate that Afghan civilian casualties caused by airstrikes tripled to more than 300 in 2007, fueling fears that such aggressive bombardment could be catastrophic for the innocent."
Those fears were fueled, not least, in the mind of US/UN-selected Afghan President Hamid Karzai, who has complained frequently, but -- in a ritual common to sponsor-client state relationships -- not so vehemently that his US sponsors took his statements seriously enough to cut his budget, or simply replace him.
Regarding Iraq, the Post says the U.S. strategy "calls for coalition troops to clear hostile areas before holding and then rebuilding them" -- which is impossible, since not even Bush of Galilee can rebuild 200-plus dead people.
Allan Nairn can be reached through his blog.
from John Gerassi :
Date: 26 January 2008
Subject: The defense of Academic Freedom at Queens College, New York City.
I'm back at Queens College after a sabbatical -- and a new book 'Conversation with Jean-Paul Sartre' currently being considered by Chicago, Yale, and Duke universitiespress -- and have just downloaded a whole pack of your offerings for my students. Meanwhile, just before I left, I was smeared by both the local school paper here and in a vicious column in the NY Post, wherein the columnist claimed to have interviewed me which she never did. The Post then called the president here and trieds to get me fired, but he simply defended the principle of Academinc Freedom, but also called the editor of the school paper to ask if they would print my response, which did indeed convince them to do so. I am attaching here my respond by word attachment.
I was right about Vietnam. Right again when I denounced LBJ's invasion of the Dominican Republic in 1965 to save his friend Ellsworth Bunker's Jack Frost Sugar; LBJ named the top ten "constitutionalists" as communists, but I pointed out that two were dead, four were in Paris, one was studying at Columbia, and said so, in Newsweek to boot. That made me "unAmerican" in the News. I was right when I denounced the US for organizing the coup that crushed Brazil's democracy in 1963 and printing that the US ambassador actually congratulated the top general by telegram the day before the coup; that got the New York Times mad because they loved the ambassador, liberal Lincoln Gordon. I was right when I printed evidence that the US helped the generals destroy Argentina's fledging democracy and instill, helped by the CIA, the "dirty war" which resulted in 30,000 "disappeared" and which all the media now condemns (without, of course, saying who made it possible). I was right when I called Kiessinger a murderer (now so indicted in Spain) at the service of the exploiting copper companies for his fomenting the coup against Chile's democratically elected government. I was right when, as the first investigator for the International War Crimes Tribunal, I photographed and reported (in the full issue of the New Republic and in my book North Vietnam: A Documentary) that the US bombed dykes in North Vietnam, which the media kept denying until Walter Cronkite went there, saw it, and said so. I was right when I showed proof (the British 4-hour documentary film) that the US and its NATO allies bombed Serbia because its president, Milosevic, would not privatize its utilities, which US and European firms coveted; Milosevic was certainly guilty of crimes against humanity, but even more so were the Nazi-heirs Ustashis who run Croatia and the Bosnians, but they were perfectly willing to privatize everything and did so. (It was the Ustachis who started the ethnic cleansing, not the Serbs). And I was right to denounce the US for using anti-personnel fragmentation bombs against civilians in Vietnam as crimes against humanity (as also characterized by the UN, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch).
I research my facts carefully. Every day I read two British papers, France's Le Monde, Spain's ABC, Argentina's La Prensa, even the India Monitor, plus seven weeklies, ten monthlies (even such esoteric revues as Switzerland's Illustre) and I comb the web. I receive information via email from dozens of folks all over the world, even Indonesia. Nevertheless, I tell my students that the facts they will hear in my courses are one-sided, facts never or rarely available on mainstream media. If you want that point of view, I tell them, watch TV, read Time. I tell my students: "You don't have to agree with me. I cannot penalize you if you do, as I give strictly objective exams." Ask any student. That's why I am a good teacher. That 55 of them walked out of my class as the Post's hysterical columnist reported is a lie. The only student who walked out had not even registered for the course.
Speaking of lies, lets deal with them. I was not interviewed by that Post columnist. I hung up on her three times, once explaining that to me Murdoch, her boss, "was Bush's Goebbels and that I do not talk to Bush, I do not talk to Goebbels and I won't talk to you working for Goebbels." Nor have I ever lived on the upper (or lower for that matter) eastside, as she reported. I certainly know better to believe in a Jewish control of the media; capitalists own the media, and when I say so I always give the examples (e.g GE owning NBC, Viacom owning CBS, etc).
Now let's deal with Israel and what I said and say. Zionism is an imperialism. The policy of every Israeli government has always been to regain "greater Israel" (whatever that may be) and eliminate all Palestinian characteristics. On Face the Nation (CBS, June 11, l967) Moshe Dayan (then the Israeli Defense Minister) made that quite clear: "...We can absorb them [Palestinians] but it wouldn't be the same country...we want a Jewish state like the French want a French state." But the French state don't want a Catholic state or a Huguenot state or a Shinto state. They want a French state. Quite a difference.
From its inception, Israeli leaders have lied, taught well by their mentors, the US. They claimed and by and large still claim that the Palestinians left Israel on their own accord, when in fact they were driven out, and all the belongings they could not carry were confiscated by the "Jewish" state. They claimed and still claim that those who remained were and are given equal rights, when in fact they suffer an apartheid regime. And Israel receives more aid, more free arms and technical support from the US than any other nation in the world, proportionally and in absolute figures. Israel is an occupying power, and I stress in my class, never judge a poor people trying to win freedom by the same criteria as you judge the powerful, the dominant power. We didn't judge the Norwegian underground or the Polish ghetto insurgents or the French Maquis by the same criterion as we judged the Nazis. So don't do it now, I tell me students, either in Afghanistan (where the US helped Taliban come to power) or Iraq (where Saddam Hussein was a paid CIA agent when he was head of Iraqi intelligence) or in Palestine. And I add: "When one country occupies another, all deaths, no matter how committed or by whom, are the responsibility of the occupier." When freedom fighters have neither tanks nor planes, neither missiles nor canons, anything they can do against those do have them and who try to subdue them into slavery is absolutely justified. Those freedom fighters who then blow themselves up to attack their dominator are not only justified, but fantastic heroes. And the deaths, those innocent children on the bus? The murderers are the occupiers.
From that to pretend I said such an inane remark that I thought Hezbollah would win in 40 years, is the epitome of stupidity. I did say and maintain that Hezbollah had the right to defend itself. I did say and maintain that Israel's cruel devastation of Lebanon has resulted in such hated of Israel among all Arabs and Moslems that peace now is impossible, that no Moslem will ever forget it, and that perhaps in 40 years, 400 million Arabs may decide to get even by driving the Israelis to the sea. Nor will they ever forget that Israel used the same weapon, the anti-personnel cluster bombs that the US used in Vietnam. They know as we all do but never read in our mainstream media that Israel is just as guilty of crimes against humanity as was/and is the US. They know but can never read in our mainstream media that only the weak, the losers, the helpless are tried for such crimes.
from Democracy Now !
Date: 28 January 2008
Subject: The natural death of a mass murderer in Indonesia.
An in-depth look at Suharto’s brutal thirty-year reign and the role of the United States in shoring him up. Suharto rose to power in 1965, killing up to a million Indonesians. Hundreds of thousands of more people died during the U.S.-supported Indonesian invasion and occupation of East Timor. Tens of thousands also died in West Papua and Aceh. On Sunday, Cameron Hume, U.S. Ambassador to Indonesia, said “Though there may be some controversy over his legacy, President Suharto was a historic figure who left a lasting imprint on Indonesia and the region of Southeast Asia.”