Archive for September, 2006

UN says Gaza crisis ‘intolerable’

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Standards of human rights in the Palestinian territories have fallen to intolerable new levels, says a UN expert on the Mid-East conflict. John Dugard said Israel was largely to blame for turning Gaza into “a prison” and “throwing away the key”.

He also criticised Canada, Europe and the US for cutting funds to Palestinian Authority, run by the Hamas militant group which does not recognise Israel.

An Israeli official said the statement was unrealistic and over-simplified.

Mr Dugard, UN special rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, said three-quarters of Palestinians in Gaza now depended on food aid – a result, he added, of Israeli military raids, blockades and demolitions. 

“I hope that my portrayal… will trouble the consciences of those accustomed to turning a blind eye and a deaf ear to the suffering of the Palestinian people,” Mr Dugard told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

The Sound and the Fury: Venezuela’s leader talks to TIME’s Tim Padgett about why he lashes out against President Bush

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

TIME: Why do you attack President George W. Bush with such jolting language?

CHAVEZ: I believe words have great weight, and I want people to know exactly what I mean. I’m not attacking President Bush; I’m simply counterattacking. Bush has been attacking the world, and not just with words–with bombs. When I say these things I believe I’m speaking for many people, because they too believe this moment is our opportunity to stop the threat of a U.S. empire that uses the U.N. to justify its aggression against half the world. In Bush’s speech to the U.N., he sounded as if he wants to be master of the world. I changed my original speech after reading his.

TIME: But doesn’t your rhetoric–referring to Bush, for example, as an “alcoholic”–risk alienating potential allies?

CHAVEZ: First of all, Bush has called me worse: tyrant, populist dictator, drug trafficker, to name a few. I was simply telling a truth that people should know about this President, a man with gigantic power.

TIME: Is all of this mostly for domestic consumption back in Venezuela?

CHAVEZ: No. American author Noam Chomsky in his book [Hegemony or Survival: America’s Quest for Global Dominance] talks of two superpowers in today’s world–one is the U.S., which aggressively wants to dominate the world, and the other is global public opinion. I don’t consider what I’m saying personal attacks on President Bush–I want to wake up U.S. and global public opinion about him.

TIME: Do your feelings about Bush reflect your feelings toward America in general?

CHAVEZ: No. I revere America as the nation of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King and Mark Twain–who was a great anti-imperialist, who opposed U.S. adventurism in the Spanish-American War.

Chavez’s sound and fury, unlike Macbeth’s, signifies something.

Poll: Lieberman leads Lamont in Conn.

Thursday, September 28th, 2006

Sen. Joe Lieberman has a 10-point advantage over Democrat Ned Lamont among likely Connecticut voters, according to a Quinnipiac University poll released Thursday.

Lieberman, a three-term Democrat running as an independent after losing the party nomination in a primary, is favored by 49 percent to 39 percent over Lamont in the three-way race. Republican Alan Schlesinger trails with 5 percent.

The race has tightened slightly since an Aug. 17 poll that showed Lieberman leading 53 percent to 41 percent.

“Ned Lamont has lost momentum,” said poll director Douglas Schwartz said. “He’s gained only two points in six weeks. He’s going to have to do something different in the next six weeks or … Lieberman stays in for another six years.”

The race is seen as many as a referendum on President Bush’s handling of the Iraq war. Lamont, a political newcomer and multimillionaire, ran on an anti-war platform to upset Lieberman in the Aug. 8 primary.

yeah well this is one they can’t afford to lose…any mean necessary you know…

Unfriendly forces brewing in Latin America: US

Monday, September 25th, 2006

WASHINGTON: The US military’s top general warned on Friday that forces unfriendly to the United States are brewing in the Americas, arguing that “together we need to do something about it.”

General Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, singled out Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez who this week attacked President George W. Bush as the “devil” in a speech to the UN General Assembly.

“There have been increases in government actions that are not friendly to us,” Pace said in a question-and-answer session with Pentagon employees. “President Chavez is clearly not a friend to the United States.”

He said it would be interesting to see what impact Chavez’s speech would have on Venezuela’s quest for a seat on the US Security Council.

LA Times: Chavez to Double Energy Subsidies to the Needy in U.S.

Child Hunger in the Land of Abundance Makes Us All Poor

…While it is normal to expect high levels of hunger and poverty in a developing country, it may come as a surprise to observe a similar epidemic in one of the richest countries in the world. The Food Bank for New York City recently reported that nearly 20 percent of children in the city rely on free food to survive. According to statistics from Bread for the World, 13 million children went to bed hungry in the United States in 2004, the most recent year for which statistics are available.

Israeli judge orders release of Hamas officials

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

JERUSALEM – An Israeli military judge on Tuesday ordered the release of 21 Palestinian Hamas officials detained in a dragnet launched after a soldier was abducted by gunmen in the Gaza Strip, an army spokesman said.

A lawyer for the detainees said the release roster issued by Ofer Military Court included at least three Palestinian cabinet ministers and a lawmaker. But implementation of the ruling was deferred until Thursday so prosecutors could appeal.

“Twenty-one Hamas officials are to be released, but this has been put on hold for 48 hours so the prosecution can file challenges,” an army spokesman said, adding that a successful appeal would put the release on hold.

Israeli forces took at least 30 Hamas officials, among them Palestinian cabinet ministers and lawmakers including parliament Speaker Aziz Dweik, into custody after Corporal Gilad Shalit was seized in a June 25 border raid.

Israel said the detainees were suspected of offences linked to Hamas’ role in spearheading a 6-year-old Palestinian revolt. But Palestinians accused Israel of gathering “bargaining chips” to force Shalit’s release.

A lawyer representing some of the detainees, Osama al-Saadi, said he expected the Hamas officials to be released on bail, raising the prospect of their future prosecution by Israel.

The army spokesman had no immediate comment on the terms of the release.

Hamas, an Islamic group whose charter calls for Israel’s destruction, trounced the long-dominant and more moderate Fatah faction in Palestinian elections last January, prompting an aid embargo by Western donor nations.

In a bid to break the diplomatic deadlock, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah leader, announced on Monday that a coalition government would be formed with Hamas.

But Israel and the United States remained skeptical pending clarification of whether the new administration would recognize the Jewish state and renounce violence, preconditions set for restoring aid.

A Hamas spokesman said the group had no intention of recognizing Israel, and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, said the new government would not negotiate with Israel.

First off, are they going to be released or not? Second, was this not a mass kidnapping? What nauseating swill. The whole article. And this is where millions come to get their ‘news.’

U.S. count of Baghdad deaths excludes car bombs, mortar attacks

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

…Within weeks of the kickoff of the Baghdad security plan, the U.S. military’s top spokesman, Maj. Gen. William B. Caldwell, boasted that the murder rate in Baghdad had fallen by 46 percent and attributed most of the fall to the new security sweeps. 

On Thursday, Caldwell revised the figures, posting a statement on the website of the Multi-National Force-Iraq that the murder rate had dropped even more – by 52 percent from July. 

That claim was immediately contradicted by the morgue figures, which trickled out in accounts by various news organizations citing unnamed officials. 

Johnson said he couldn’t comment on morgue figures and declined to release the raw numbers on which Caldwell’s claim was based. He said the numbers were classified and that releasing them might help “our enemy” adjust their tactics. 

“We attempt to strike the right balance, being as open and transparent as possible without providing information that places our troops or Iraqi civilians at undo risk by the enemy adjusting their tactics for greater impact,” he said, in explaining the decision not to release the figures.

Top soldier quits as blundering campaign turns into ‘pointless’ war

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

…“The military is just one side of the triangle,” he said. “Where were the Department for International Development and the Foreign Office? “The window was briefly open for our message to be spread, for the civilian population to be informed of our intent and realise that we weren’t there simply to destroy the poppy fields and their livelihoods. I felt at this stage that the Taliban were sitting back and observing us, deciding in their own time how to most effectively hit us.”

Eventually the Taliban attacked on June 11, when Captain Jim Philippson became the first British soldier to be killed in Helmand. British troops have since been holed up in their compound with attacks coming at least once a day. Seven British soldiers have died in the Sangin area.

“Now the ground has been lost and all we’re doing in places like Sangin is surviving,” said Docherty. “It’s completely barking mad.

“We’re now scattered in a shallow meaningless way across northern towns where the only way for the troops to survive is to increase the level of violence so more people get killed. It’s pretty shocking and not something I want to be part of.”

Stingrays mutilated after ‘Croc Hunter’ death

Tuesday, September 12th, 2006

SYDNEY, Australia – At least 10 stingrays have been slain since “Crocodile Hunter” Steve Irwin was killed by one of the fish, an official said Tuesday, prompting a spokesman for the late TV star’s animal charity to urge people not take revenge on the animals.

Washington Post:9/11 conspiracies multiply

Friday, September 8th, 2006

He felt no shiver of doubt in those first terrible hours.

He watched the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and assumed al-Qaeda had wreaked terrible vengeance. He listened to anchors and military experts and assumed the facts of Sept. 11, 2001, were as stated on the screen.

It was a year before David Ray Griffin, an eminent liberal theologian and philosopher, began his stroll down the path of disbelief. He wondered why Bush listened to a child’s story while the nation was attacked and how Osama bin Laden, America’s Public Enemy No. 1, escaped in the mountains of Tora Bora.

He wondered why 110-story towers crashed and military jets failed to intercept even one airliner. He read the 9/11 Commission report with a swell of anger. Contradictions were ignored and no military or civilian official was reprimanded, much less cashiered.

“To me, the report read as a cartoon.” White-haired and courtly, Griffin sits on a couch in a hotel lobby in Manhattan, unspooling words in that reasonable Presbyterian minister’s voice. “It’s a much greater stretch to accept the official conspiracy story than to consider the alternatives.”

Such as?

“There was massive complicity in this attack by U.S. government operatives.”

If that feels like a skip off the cliff of established reality, more Americans are in free fall than you might guess. There are few more startling measures of American distrust of leaders than the widespread belief that the Bush administration had a hand in the attacks of Sept. 11 in order to spark an invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq.

A recent Scripps Howard/Ohio University poll of 1,010 Americans found that 36 percent suspect the U.S. government promoted the attacks or intentionally sat on its hands. Sixteen percent believe explosives brought down the towers. Twelve percent believe a cruise missile hit the Pentagon.

Distrust percolates more strongly near Ground Zero. A Zogby International poll of New York City residents two years ago found 49.3 percent believed the government “consciously failed to act.”

You could dismiss this as a louder than usual howl from the CIA-controls-my-thoughts-through-the-filling-in-my-molar crowd. Establishment assessments of the believers tend toward the psychotherapeutic. Many academics, politicians and thinkers left, right and center say the conspiracy theories are a case of one plus one equals five. It’s a piling up of improbabilities.

Thomas Eager, a professor of materials science at MIT, has studied the collapse of the twin towers. “At first, I thought it was amazing that the buildings would come down in their own footprints,” Eager says. “Then I realized that it wasn’t that amazing — it’s the only way a building that weighs a million tons and is 95 percent air can come down.”

But the chatter out there is loud enough for the National Institute of Standards and Technology to post a Web “fact sheet” poking holes in the conspiracy theories and defending its report on the towers.

Yeah, as if . . .

The loose agglomeration known as the “9/11 Truth Movement” has stopped looking for truth from the government. As cacophonous and free-range a bunch of conspiracists anywhere this side of Guy Fawkes, they produce hip-hop inflected documentaries and scholarly conferences. The Web is their mother lode. Every citizen is a researcher. There’s nothing like a triple, Google-fed epiphany lighting up the laptop at 2:44 a.m.

Did you see that the CIA met with bin Laden in a hospital room in Dubai? Check out this Pakistani site, there are really weird doings in Baluchistan . . .

The academic wing is led by Griffin, who founded the Center for a Postmodern World at Claremont University; James Fetzer, a tenured philosopher at the University of Minnesota (Fetzer’s an old hand in JFK assassination research); and Daniel Orr, the retired chairman of the economics department at the University of Illinois. The movement’s de facto minister of engineering is Steven Jones, a tenured physics professor at Brigham Young University, who’s studied vectors and velocities and tested explosives and concluded that the collapse of the twin towers is best explained as controlled demolition, sped by a thousand pounds of high-grade thermite.

Former Reagan aide Barbara Honegger is a senior military affairs journalist at the Naval Postgraduate School in California. She’s convinced, based on her freelance research, that a bomb went off about six minutes before an airplane hit the Pentagon — or didn’t hit it, as some believe the case may be. Catherine Austin Fitts served as assistant secretary of housing in the first President Bush’s administration and gained a fine reputation as a fraud buster; David Bowman was chief of advanced space programs under presidents Ford and Carter. Fitts and Bowman agree that the “most unbelievable conspiracy” theory is the one retailed by the government.

Then there’s Morgan O. Reynolds, appointed by George W. Bush as chief economist at the Labor Department. He left in 2002 and doesn’t think much of his former boss; he describes President Bush as a “dysfunctional creep,” not to mention a “possible war criminal.”

You reach Reynolds at his country home in the hills of Arkansas. His favored rhetorical style is long paragraphs without obvious punctuation: “Who did it? Elements of our government and M-16 and the Mossad. The government’s case is a laugh-out-loud proposition. They used patsies and lies and subterfuge and there’s no way that Bush and Cheney could have invaded Iraq without the help of 9/11.”

Ethnic Cleansing in New Orleans

Friday, September 8th, 2006

…A year later the commercial media is dutifully revisiting the story, as if to sell the public on the notion that they—a defacto extension of the government—actually care about America’s poor; they do not. America remains a racist nation that was built upon slave labor, and the exploitation of immigrant workers. Racism can be found anywhere but, thankfully, it does not exist everywhere. Not all Americans are racists. However, racism flourishes in the White House, and every branch of government is poisoned by the malignancy of bigotry.

The truth is that wealthy white Plutocrats are in control of the government, and they don’t give a damn about anyone they cannot exploit; and that is the observation of a white man.  

Because of my race I know that I enjoy advantages and privileges that black men and women do not. I neither ask for nor expect preferential treatment, but I know that I am accorded them on the basis of my skin color. It should not be like this.