zaterdag 9 december 2006
Feiten uit the land of the free, home of the brave:
'Report Finds Rampant Censorship at American Colleges and Universities.
December 6, 2006
FIRE Press Release
PHILADELPHIA, December 6, 2006—A report released today by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) reveals that burdensome restrictions on speech are commonplace at America’s colleges and universities. The report, entitled Spotlight on Speech Codes 2006: The State of Free Speech on Our Nation’s Campuses, surveyed more than 330 schools and found that an overwhelming majority of them explicitly prohibit speech that, outside the borders of campus, is protected by the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
“There is a common misconception that ‘speech codes’ are a thing of the past—a relic of the heyday of political correctness of the 1980s and 90s—but the public needs to know that speech codes are perhaps more pervasive and restrictive than ever,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said.
FIRE’s report is the most comprehensive effort to date to quantify both the number of colleges and universities that restrict free speech and the severity of those restrictions. The report surveyed publicly available policies at the 100 “Best National Universities” and at the 50 “Best Liberal Arts Colleges,” as rated in the August 29, 2005 “America’s Best Colleges” issue of U.S. News & World Report, as well as at an additional 184 major public universities. The research was conducted between September 2005 and September 2006. All of the policies cited in the report are available on FIRE’s searchable speech codes database, Spotlight: The Campus Freedom Resource.
The report’s findings include:
Public colleges and universities are disregarding their constitutional obligations. More than 73% of public universities surveyed maintain unconstitutional speech codes, despite numerous federal court decisions striking down similar or identical policies.
Most private colleges and universities promise free speech, but usually do not deliver. Unlike public universities, private universities are not legally bound by the First Amendment. However, most of them explicitly promise free speech rights to their students and faculty. For example, Boston University promises “the right to teach and to learn in an atmosphere of unfettered free inquiry and exposition.” Unfortunately, it also prohibits speech that would be constitutionally protected in society at large, such as “annoying” electronic communications and expressions of opinion that do not “show respect for the aesthetic, social, moral, and religious feelings of others.”
Overall, the report reveals that more than 68% of the colleges and universities surveyed maintain policies that “both clearly and substantially restrict freedom of speech.”
Afgaande op cijfers van het begin van dit jaar is er niets wezenlijks veranderd in de VS sinds de jaren dertig van de vorige eeuw. Ondertussen bezit 1 procent van de allerrijksten in dat land 40 procent van alle rijkdom.
'A family of three must have earned less than $15,577 in 2005 to be considered poor.37 million people in America live below the poverty line, about the entire population of California.43 percent of the poor live in "deep poverty" half the poverty line.
The highest percentage living in "deep poverty" since the Census Department began recording this data in 1975. 35 million Americans went without food in 2005. This year, the USDA changed the official classification of this growing population from "food insecure with hunger" to "very low food security." The number of hungry Americans is nearly equal in size to the combined populations of Arkansas, Connecticut, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Vermont and West Virginia.In 2004, 13 million children, or 17.8 percent were poor.'
De Observer: '37 million poor hidden in the land of plenty.
Americans have always believed that hard work will bring rewards, but vast numbers now cannot meet their bills even with two or three jobs. More than one in 10 citizens live below the poverty line, and the gap between the haves and have-nots is widening
The flickering television in Candy Lumpkins's trailer blared out The Bold and the Beautiful. It was a fantasy daytime soap vision of American life with little relevance to the reality of this impoverished corner of Kentucky.
The Lumpkins live at the definition of the back of beyond, in a hollow at the top of a valley at the end of a long and muddy dirt road. It is strewn with litter. Packs of stray dogs prowl around, barking at strangers. There is no telephone and since their pump broke two weeks ago Candy has collected water from nearby springs. Oblivious to it all, her five-year-old daughter Amy runs barefoot on a wooden porch frozen by a midwinter chill.
It is a vision of deep and abiding poverty. Yet the Lumpkins are not alone in their plight. They are just the negative side of the American equation. America does have vast, wealthy suburbs, huge shopping malls and a busy middle class, but it also has vast numbers of poor, struggling to make it in a low-wage economy with minimal government help.
A shocking 37 million Americans live in poverty. That is 12.7 per cent of the population - the highest percentage in the developed world. They are found from the hills of Kentucky to Detroit's streets, from the Deep South of Louisiana to the heartland of Oklahoma. Each year since 2001 their number has grown.
Under President George W Bush an extra 5.4 million have slipped below the poverty line. Yet they are not a story of the unemployed or the destitute. Most have jobs. Many have two. Amos Lumpkins has work and his children go to school. But the economy, stripped of worker benefits like healthcare, is having trouble providing good wages.
Even families with two working parents are often one slice of bad luck - a medical bill or factory closure - away from disaster. The minimum wage of $5.15 (£2.95) an hour has not risen since 1997 and, adjusted for inflation, is at its lowest since 1956. The gap between the haves and the have-nots looms wider than ever. Faced with rising poverty rates, Bush's trillion-dollar federal budget recently raised massive amounts of defence spending for the war in Iraq and slashed billions from welfare programmes.'
'Afghanistan War Nears "Tipping Point."
Government support is flagging, NATO is split on strategy, and Taliban fighters are revitalized.
Kabul, Afghanistan - The conflict in Afghanistan has entered a dangerous phase, and the next three to six months could prove crucial in determining whether the United States and its NATO partners can suppress a revitalized enemy - or will be dragged into another drawn- out and costly fight with an Islamic insurgency, according to senior military and security officials and diplomats.
"I think we are approaching a tipping point, perhaps early in the new year," said a Western diplomat in the region, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the situation publicly.
Popular support for the central government is faltering, and Western military allies are deeply divided over how best to combat the insurgency.
On the other side of the fight, the Taliban has regained the strength to dominate large swaths of Afghanistan; government control is tenuous at best in at least 20% of the country, according to several Western diplomats and Afghan officials.
Militants have built a network of bases in the tribal hinterlands that straddle the frontier with Pakistan. Over the last year, a growing number of mobile encampments on the Afghan side of the border have given the insurgents greater self-sufficiency, military officials say, although the guerrillas still draw heavily on logistical support and weaponry funneled from the Pakistani side.
"They can come and go pretty much undetected," acknowledged U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Michael T. Harrison Sr., who is overseeing the training and equipping of the struggling Afghan national army.
Observers point to an inexorable upward trend in violence that includes suicide attacks, roadside bombs and border clashes. "We have a bona fide war going on," Harrison said.
A widely cited recent report by the Joint Coordination and Monitoring Board, a panel of Afghan and foreign officials, said such attacks had increased fourfold from last year, killing at least 3,700 people so far in 2006.
A military spokesman in Kabul, the capital, for NATO's International Security Assistance Force, U.S. Army Maj. Luke Knittig, said he did not believe the report accurately reflected long-term trends. But a number of outside experts tracking the trajectory of the conflict supported the panel's assessment of a growing threat.
At stake for the U.S. and its allies with the North Atlantic Treaty Organization is not an outright battlefield defeat by the Taliban and other insurgent groups.
"We should be careful that we don't overstate this militarily unconventional challenge," U.S. Marine Gen. James L. Jones, NATO's supreme allied commander, told reporters last week in Riga, Latvia, where the alliance's leaders were meeting. "We will not be defeated militarily by the Taliban." NATO has 32,000 troops in the country, backed by formidable airpower.
But the patchwork of militant groups battling the Western allies has its own arsenal of strengths.
Insurgent attacks, whose low-tech tactics echo those used against U.S. forces in Iraq, are often ineffectual. But inevitably, some hit home. On Wednesday, for example, two American civilian contractors were killed in a suicide bombing in Kandahar, the sixth such attack in 10 days. Nearly 180 NATO and allied troops have been killed in fighting this year in Afghanistan.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/120906Z.shtml Of:
'It's Still About Oil in Iraq.
A centerpiece of the Iraq Study Group's report is its advocacy for securing foreign companies' long-term access to Iraqi oil fields.
While the Bush administration, the media and nearly all the Democrats still refuse to explain the war in Iraq in terms of oil, the ever- pragmatic members of the Iraq Study Group share no such reticence.
Page 1, Chapter 1 of the Iraq Study Group report lays out Iraq's importance to its region, the U.S. and the world with this reminder: "It has the world's second-largest known oil reserves." The group then proceeds to give very specific and radical recommendations as to what the United States should do to secure those reserves. If the proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be commercialized and opened to foreign firms.
The report makes visible to everyone the elephant in the room: that we are fighting, killing and dying in a war for oil. It states in plain language that the U.S. government should use every tool at its disposal to ensure that American oil interests and those of its corporations are met.
It's spelled out in Recommendation No. 63, which calls on the U.S. to "assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise" and to "encourage investment in Iraq's oil sector by the international community and by international energy companies." This recommendation would turn Iraq's nationalized oil industry into a commercial entity that could be partly or fully privatized by foreign firms.
This is an echo of calls made before and immediately after the invasion of Iraq.
The U.S. State Department's Oil and Energy Working Group, meeting between December 2002 and April 2003, also said that Iraq "should be opened to international oil companies as quickly as possible after the war." Its preferred method of privatization was a form of oil contract called a production-sharing agreement. These agreements are preferred by the oil industry but rejected by all the top oil producers in the Middle East because they grant greater control and more profits to the companies than the governments. The Heritage Foundation also released a report in March 2003 calling for the full privatization of Iraq's oil sector. One representative of the foundation, Edwin Meese III, is a member of the Iraq Study Group. Another, James J. Carafano, assisted in the study group's work.
For any degree of oil privatization to take place, and for it to apply to all the country's oil fields, Iraq has to amend its constitution and pass a new national oil law. The constitution is ambiguous as to whether control over future revenues from as-yet- undeveloped oil fields should be shared among its provinces or held and distributed by the central government.
This is a crucial issue, with trillions of dollars at stake, because only 17 of Iraq's 80 known oil fields have been developed. Recommendation No. 26 of the Iraq Study Group calls for a review of the constitution to be "pursued on an urgent basis." Recommendation No. 28 calls for putting control of Iraq's oil revenues in the hands of the central government. Recommendation No. 63 also calls on the U.S. government to "provide technical assistance to the Iraqi government to prepare a draft oil law."'
Lees verder: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/la-oe-juhasz8dec08,0,4717508.story?track=tottext
Vietnam traumatised the US but left its power intact; Iraq, however, will be far more serious for the superpower.
Just a month after the American electorate delivered a resounding rebuff to the Bush Iraq policy, the great and the good - in the guise of the Iraq Study Group (ISG) - have subjected that policy to a withering critique. The administration has had the political equivalent of a car crash. George Bush is being routinely condemned as one of the worst presidents ever, and his Iraq policy no longer enjoys the support of a large swath of the American establishment. The neoconservatives suddenly find themselves isolated and embattled: Rumsfeld has been sacked, Cheney has gone quiet, the likes of Richard Perle are confined to the sidelines. The president is on his own and it is difficult to see how Bush can avoid moving towards the ISG position. The political map is being redrawn with extraordinary alacrity.
Before our eyes, the neoconservative position is disintegrating. Its foreign-policy tenets have been shown to be false. As is now openly admitted, they have brought the US to the verge of disaster in Iraq, which is why the American version of the "men in grey suits" has ridden to the rescue. After less than six years in office, elected at a time when the US was unchallenged as the sole superpower, the Bush administration has managed to deliver the country to the edge of what can only be compared to a Vietnam moment: the political and military defeat of the central and defining plank of American foreign policy.
Of course, in one sense it is quite unlike Vietnam. In 1975 the Americans suffered a spectacular military defeat at the hands of North Vietnam and the Vietcong, with US helicopters seeking to rescue leading US personnel from the tops of buildings as Vietnamese guerrillas closed in on the centre of Saigon. It was to shape American foreign policy - in particular, a desire to avoid overseas military entanglements - for decades. Indeed, the rise of the neoconservatives was partly predicated on a rejection of what they saw as American defeatism during and after the Vietnam war. Iraq is very different. There is no single enemy with a clear military strategy. Baghdad will not be Saigon. This is a case of an endless, bloody and unwinnable quagmire rather than any spectacular denouement in waiting.
But the Iraq moment is far more dangerous for the US than the Vietnam moment. Although one of the key justifications for the Vietnam war was to prevent the spread of communism, the US defeat was to produce nothing of the kind: apart from the fact that Cambodia and Laos became embroiled, the effects were essentially confined to Vietnam. There were no wider political repercussions in east Asia: ironically, it was China that was to invade North Vietnam in 1979 (and deservedly got a bloody nose).
The regional consequences of the Iraq imbroglio are, in comparison, immediate, profound and far-reaching. The civil war threatens to unhinge more or less the entire Middle East. The neoconservative strategy - to remake the region single-handedly (with the support of Israel, of course) - has been undermined by its own hubris. The American dilemma is patent in some of the key recommendations of the ISG report: to involve Iran and Syria in any Iraqi settlement (including the return of the Golan Heights to Syria) and to seek a new agreement between Israel and Palestine. In short, it proposes a reversal of the key strands of Bush's foreign policy.'
'The Empire Is Falling.
The Roman Empire is falling. That, in a phrase, is what the Baker report says. The legions cannot impose their rule on Mesopotamia.
Just as Crassus lost his legions' banners in the deserts of Syria-Iraq, so has George W Bush. There is no Mark Antony to retrieve the honour of the empire. The policy "is not working". "Collapse" and "catastrophe" - words heard in the Roman senate many a time - were embedded in the text of the Baker report. Et tu, James?
This is also the language of the Arab world, always waiting for the collapse of empire, for the destruction of the safe Western world which has provided it with money, weapons, political support. First, the Arabs trusted the British Empire and Winston Churchill, and then they trusted the American Empire and Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Truman and Eisenhower administrations and all the other men who would give guns to the Israelis and billions to the Arabs - Nixon, Carter, Clinton, Bush...
And now they are told that the Americans are not winning the war; that they are losing. If you were an Arab, what would you do?
Be sure, they are not asking this question in Washington. The Middle East - so all-important (supposedly) in the "war on terror" - in itself, a myth - doesn't really matter in the White House. It is a district, a map, a region, every bit as amorphous as the crescent of "crisis" which the Clinton administration invented when it wanted to land its troops in Somalia. How to get out, how to save face, that's the question. To hell with the people who live there: the Arabs, the Iraqis, the men, women and children whom we kill - and whom the Iraqis kill - every day.
Note how our "spokesmen" in Afghanistan now acknowledge the dead woman and children of Nato airstrikes as if it is quite in order to slaughter these innocents because we are at war with the horrid Taliban.'
Lees verder: http://www.countercurrents.org/us-fisk081206.htm
vrijdag 8 december 2006
'Analysts: US at Root of Effort to Topple Lebanese Government.
Beirut, Lebanon - American political leaders watched with alarm during the past week as the Hezbollah militia laid siege to the U.S.-backed Lebanese government, but few would acknowledge publicly what most analysts and politicians here say is obvious: American policy may bear much of the blame.
Many in Beirut say that U.S. failure to stop Israel's onslaught against Hezbollah last summer crippled the Lebanese government - a U.S. ally - while strengthening Hezbollah - a U.S. enemy. That created an environment in which the Shiite Muslim militia could call for overthrowing Sunni Muslim Prime Minister Fuad Saniora and his Cabinet.
"Hezbollah has more support in the population now because they are the `victorious resistance,'" Cabinet member Ahmed Fatfat said. "And it weakened the government because we did not get any concessions ... the last war was a disaster for Lebanon and the image of the United States."
Fatfat, like several other Cabinet members, has been in hiding at the government building in downtown Beirut for days as tens of thousands of protesters outside demand a new administration led by Hezbollah, a group that's on the U.S. State Department's list of terrorist organizations.
The standoff between Shiite Hezbollah and its allies and the Christian and Sunni government has sparked street fighting in Beirut's neighborhoods and raised the specter of civil war.
It's also underscored a belief among some regional leaders that the United States has lost its footing in the Mid'le East. On Tuesday, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group recommended in Washington that the Bush administration reach out to Syria and Iran - U.S. foes - in a search for ways to resolve Iraq's violence. The group called for Syria to cease aid to Hezbollah and to stop trying to topple Saniora's government as part of a deal that might include Israel returning the Golan Heights to Syria.
But those suggestions seem behind the times as Hezbollah presses its campaign to force Saniora out.
Fatfat and other Lebanese officials said that while there was a complex set of reasons for the crisis - Syria is trying to derail a tribunal from investigating Syrian participation in political assassinations, Shiites long have felt underrepresented by their government, Iran is pushing against U.S. interests across the region - the conditions largely were set by U.S. actions during the conflict last summer.
The fighting began in July when Hezbollah kidnapped two Israeli soldiers, an act that began weeks of thunderous Israeli bombing and artillery barrages - often using munitions bought from U.S. suppliers - that killed at least 1,000 Lebanese, mostly civilians. Hezbollah answered by launching hundreds of rockets into Israel.
Saniora pleaded with American officials to intervene, but for weeks Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and others said there first must be a "durable solution," meaning primarily that Hezbollah had to be contained and then disarmed.'
Lees verder: http://www.realcities.com/mld/krwashington/16188334.htm Of:
'We Don’t Need Them.
I’ve never understood the idea of speaking truth to power. The truth, surely, is that in almost all countries of the world, political and economic systems are designed to benefit only the rich and powerful, at the expense of those with less money and power. This is how the world works, and I see no reason to think that the powerful don’t already understand that. After all, they designed it; they maintain it.
They steal our money, sacrifice our children in their wars, send the poorest and most victimized among us off to jail for petty mistakes, and crush those of us who might present a real threat to the arrangement. They know we don’t like it. They don’t care. They don’t need to care. They also control most of our avenues of dissent. It’s a very simple, very elegant design.
Meanwhile, we get angry and toddle off to tell the truth to the powerful. We have been telling them the truth for centuries. We travel to their great palaces by the hundreds of thousands, to express our anger and despair. We shout and sing and stomp and whine. We threaten. We plead. Sometimes we’re beaten up, or sent to jail. It’s a tradition of great courage and personal sacrifice, no doubt.
We go to tell them to stop using our money and our children and our energy and intelligence to further rob and rape and murder us. We tell them to be more respectful and compassionate. We’re like angry but terrorized children, anxiously scolding our stern, all-powerful parents. And, in the end, we look to the Democrats or to some congressional panel or to the Supreme Court and demand that they come to our aid. As my friend Harry puts it: “We’re left in the terrible position of trying to decide which elite group will be less likely to prey on us.”
Well, the government and their pals are not going to stop using and abusing us. They’re not going to stop preying on us. They cannot stop! Republican or Democrat, they are rich and powerful precisely because they prey on us. They are rich because they rob us. They’re robbing us right this minute. They are powerful because they dominate every aspect of our lives, because they’ve taken control of all the major social, political, economic, and communication systems in the world. These systems were designed to increase their wealth and power by taking both from all the rest of us.
But, we are not children, and they are not our parents. We’re not little people and they are not big people. We’re not insignificant and they are not significant. In fact, we do not need them.
They are very few and we, here in the US alone, are roughly 300 million. We don’t need to rush out to tell the few that they are abusing the many. They already know that. We need to stand upright and walk out to tell the many that they are being slowly devoured by the few, for -- incredibly, they do not know. We need to look to our next door neighbors, and to their next door neighbors and to the folks all along the block. We need to tell the truth to each other -- for we are the answer.
While hundreds of thousands of anti-war demonstrators gathered in Washington, DC, back in September, hundreds of millions of American citizens went about their business without even a vague awareness of the protests. The media to which most of them attend barely mention such things -- obviously. And, most Americans don’t live in the DC area, so they didn’t see a thing.
Most Americans live in my neighborhood, or in your neighborhood. Most Americans eat breakfast right next to you in the local café. Most Americans get their car fixed at the same garage as you and I do. Most Americans visit my library, my bookstore, my grocery store, my local park -- or yours.
But the rich and powerful have convinced us that we cannot -- we must not -- communicate with the people we can see and hear and touch, right here, right now. They have convinced us that we need to travel to some government office to persuade elected officials and bureaucrats to change our world for us. The government and media drone on, endlessly, hypnotically, and convince us that if we just elect the right leaders, they’ll talk to our next door neighbor for us.
Government programs, they promise us, will fix that gaping hole in the pavement right out beyond your driveway. Government will help poor Mrs. Wilson, languishing in the old, dilapidated house right across the street. Government will settle your dispute with that family right down the block. Government will take care of your neighbors who can’t escape the hurricane:
“It’s OK, just hop in the SUV and go, we’ll take care of everything!” Government will help; government will heal; government will bring us together.
That’s not going to happen, of course. The elites are too busy dividing us, setting us against each other, exacerbating every animosity, every misgiving, every anxiety, however slight. They insinuate themselves into every new crack and crevice and offer convoluted, expensive legislation and bureaucracies to bring us back together again. “There oughta be a law,” says the old complaint. Well, there will be, to be sure -- but it will just make things worse.
We’re all looking in the wrong place for reason and compassion and justice. It’s not anywhere to be found in Washington, DC. It’s not in governments or state houses. It’s not there in that prestigious gathering of experts and big brains.'
In The Man Made of Words schrijft de Indiaanse schrijver Scott Momaday:
'I believe that what most threatens the American Indian is sacrilege, the theft of the sacred. Inexorably the Indian people have been, and are being, deprived of the spiritual nourishment that has sustained them for many thousands of years. This is a subtle holocaust, and it is ongoing. It is imperative that the Indian defines himself, that he finds the strength to do so, that he refuses to let others define him. Children are at greatest risk. We, Native Americans in particular, but all of us, need to restore the sacred to our children. It is a matter of the greatest importance.'
Ik moest daarbij onmiddellijk denken aan onze Turkse- en Marokkaanse Nederlanders en aan mijn eigen kinderen. Ik denk dat Momaday gelijk heeft, een ontheiligde wereld vernietigt zichzelf omdat uiteindelijk niets meer een waarde van zichzelf heeft, niets spreekt dan meer in zijn of haar eigen termen met ons.
Tom Engelhardt schrijft:
'Greenberg, In a Confessing State of Mind.
An early impulse of Bush administration officials after the attacks of September 11, 2001 was to take off "the gloves," or, as CIA Director George Tenet put it (so Ron Suskind tell us in his book, The One Percent Doctrine), "the shackles." Those were the "shackles" that they believed had been placed on the imperial presidency after Richard Nixon came so close to committing the constitutional coup d'état that we have come to call Watergate, but that involved an illegal war (in Cambodia), illegal wiretapping, illegal break-ins, robberies, black-bag jobs and so many other crossing-the-line events. That was the moment that Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and all the Bush administration advocates of a "unitary executive theory" wanted to return us to -- the impeachable moment.
The neocons and their patrons, especially our Vice President, wanted to unchain executive power, but that wasn't all. They weren't about to waste perfectly good shackles. Another impulse of theirs after the 9/11 attacks was to capture or kidnap, detain, secretly imprison, shackle, and torture their enemies, picked up on battlefields as well as peaceful city streets around the world. The accumulation of leaked documentation from their secret world has long indicated that they had torture on the brain. The urge to institute a torture regime had, perhaps, less to do with torture itself than with the knowledge that if you somehow gained the right to torture, you could gain the right to do just about anything; you could, in short, unchain the presidency in a major way.
Perhaps the most striking thing about Bush administration officialdom was that, before they reached for their waterboards, they reached for their dictionaries; and so, out of their world of secret imprisonment, humiliation, and pain emerged an unending stream of twisted definitions of otherwise common terms in classified but quickly leaked documents. Karen Greenberg, executive director of NYU's Center for Law and Security and co-author of The Torture Papers (which collected all those grim classified memorials to these last years of excess), now considers the most secret impulse of all revealed by this sordid collection of documents -- the impulse to confess. Tom'
Lees verder: http://www.tomdispatch.com/index.mhtml?pid=146171
Information Clearing House:
'Catastrophe Still Awaits.
By Paul Craig Roberts.
"The real difficulty in changing any enterprise lies not in
developing new ideas, but in escaping from the old ones." - John
12/07/06 "Information Clearing House" -- -- A ray of realism appeared
in the confirmation hearings for Secretary of Defense nominee Robert
Gates before the Senate Armed Services Committee. Gates himself said
that the U.S. was not winning in Iraq, a statement with which
everyone agreed except the White House.
The U.S., however, is not out of the woods. The question remains:
what will be the U.S. government's response to the lost war and the
terrible calamity that Bush has created in Iraq?
Many Americans are still fighting the Vietnam War. They see Iraq
through the lens of the futile Vietnam misadventure and express their
dismay that America will lose another war because "the Democrats will
cut and run like they did in Vietnam." These Americans have forgotten
that it was a Republican administration that got the U.S. out of
Vietnam and that it was the Democrats who committed the U.S. to that
conflict. Moreover, Democrats are not showing a cut-and-run propensity.
For example, Silvestre Reyes, the incoming Democratic chairman of the
House Intelligence Committee, says the U.S. cannot withdraw from Iraq
until it has dismantled the militias. Reyes wants to put 30,000 more
U.S. troops into Iraq to dismantle the militias. Reyes has forgotten
that sending more troops was the Democrats' policy in Vietnam, a
policy whose only result was that more Americans lost sons, fathers,
husbands, and brothers.
Obviously, sending more U.S. troops will not succeed in dismantling
the Iraqi sectarian militias. However, a U.S. attempt to dismantle
the militias will result in the militias joining the insurgency and
turning on the U.S. troops. The situation would deteriorate, not
improve. It is frightening that the incoming chairman of the House
Intelligence Committee does not understand this.
The appearance of a ray of realism about Iraq in the Senate Arms
Services Committee does not mean that the U.S. will escape
catastrophe. At the Armed Services Committee hearing (Dec. 5), some
senators said that U.S. troops must not be used in a civil war
between Iraqis, but that the troops have to stay until stability is
created. Senators have the idea that U.S. troops can be shorn of
their combat role, but remain to train the Iraqi army so the Iraqi
government can put down insurgency and civil war.'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15837.htm
De Washington Post bericht:
'Panel: U.S. Underreported Iraq Violence.
WASHINGTON -- U.S. military and intelligence officials have systematically underreported the violence in Iraq in order to suit the Bush administration's policy goals, the bipartisan Iraq Study Group said.
In its report on ways to improve the U.S. approach to stabilizing Iraq, the group recommended Wednesday that the director of national intelligence and the secretary of defense make changes in the collection of data about violence to provide a more accurate picture.
The panel pointed to one day last July when U.S. officials reported 93 attacks or significant acts of violence. "Yet a careful review of the reports for that single day brought to light 1,100 acts of violence," it said.
"The standard for recording attacks acts as a filter to keep events out of reports and databases." It said, for example, that a murder of an Iraqi is not necessarily counted as an attack, and a roadside bomb or a rocket or mortar attack that doesn't hurt U.S. personnel doesn't count, either. Also, if the source of a sectarian attack is not determined, that assault is not added to the database of violence incidents.
"Good policy is difficult to make when information is systematically collected in a way that minimizes its discrepancy with policy goals," the report said.
A request for Pentagon comment on the report's assertions was not immediately answered.
Some U.S. analysts have complained for months that the Pentagon's reports to Congress on conditions in Iraq have undercounted the violent episodes. Anthony Cordesman, an Iraq watcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said in a November report that the Pentagon omits many low-level incidents and types of civil violence.'
donderdag 7 december 2006
De pro-Israel lobby heeft het druk de laatste tijd. Alle bekende retoriek wordt weer ingezet om de terreur van Israel te verdoezelen. Dit maal is de voormalige president van de VS, Jimmy Carter, het doelwit. De Washington Post bericht:
Scholar Resigns From Ga. Center.
A veteran Middle East scholar affiliated with the Carter Center in Atlanta resigned his position there Monday in an escalating controversy over former president Jimmy Carter's bestselling book on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," traces the ups and downs of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process beginning with Carter's 1977-1980 presidency and the historic peace accord he negotiated between Israel and Egypt and continuing to the present. Although it apportions blame to Israel, the Palestinians and outside parties -- including the United States -- for the failure of decades of peace efforts, it is sharply critical of Israeli policy and concludes that "Israel's continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."
Kenneth W. Stein, a professor at Emory University, accused Carter of factual errors, omissions and plagiarism in the book. "Being a former President does not give one a unique privilege to invent information," Stein wrote in a harshly worded e-mail to friends and colleagues explaining his resignation as the center's Middle East fellow.
Stein offered no specifics in his e-mail to back up the charges, writing only that "in due course, I shall detail these points and reflect on their origins."
A statement issued by the center yesterday in Carter's name said he regretted Stein's resignation "from the titular position as a Fellow" and noted that he had not been "actively involved" there for the past 12 years. Carter thanked Stein for his advice and assistance "during the early years of our Center" and wished him well.'
De pro-Israel lobby en de huidige collega's van Hirsi Magan/Ali van the American Enterprise Institute, de extremistische denktank die de uitzichtloze politieke doctrine van president de Bush bedacht, zijn in grote moeilijkheden gekomen.
Common Dreams bericht: 'Neo-Cons Move to Preempt Baker Report.
WASHINGTON - To have read the neo-conservative press here over the past month, one would think that former Secretary of State James Baker poses the biggest threat to the United States and Israel since Saddam Hussein. As the ur-realist of U.S. Middle East policy who once had the temerity to threaten to withhold U.S. aid guarantees from Israel if former right-wing Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir failed to show up at the 1991 Madrid Conference, Baker has long been seen by neo-conservatives, as well as the Christian Right, as close to the devil himself. But his role as co-chairman and presumed eminence grise of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group (ISG), whose long-awaited recommendations on how the U.S. can best extract itself from a war that the neo-conservatives did so much to incite will be released here Wednesday, has provoked a new campaign of vilification of the kind that they normally reserve for the "perfidious" French. The specific aim of the campaign -- which has been waged virtually daily on the editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Times, and the on-line and printed versions of The Weekly Standard and The National Review -- has been to discredit the ISG's presumed conclusions, even before they are published. Its recommendations, general and remarkably vague accounts of which have appeared in the New York Times and the Washington Post, reportedly include a gradual reduction in the U.S. combat role in Iraq in favour of a much bigger effort at training and strengthening Iraq's army. It is a strategy that the military brass appear to have already adopted and that ISG consultants have said could reduce the number of U.S. troops there from around 140,000 today to 70,000 in 2008. On the other hand, neoconservatives, backed by Sen. John McCain among others, favour a "surge" of as many as 50,000 more troops to stabilise the country. They have attacked any troop reduction as a betrayal of Bush's dream of democratising Iraq and the region, leaving their harshest attacks for the ISG's anticipated call for Washington to seriously engage Syria and Iran, as well as Iraq's other neighbours, as part of its diplomatic strategy. Baker himself telegraphed this aspect of his approach after meeting with Damascus's foreign minister and Tehran's U.N. ambassador, Mohammed Javad Zarif, who reports directly to Iran's supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. "(I)n my view, it's not appeasement to talk to your enemies," he said. Those remarks set off a tidal wave of protest and criticism beginning with the published announcement in the Weekly Standard by Michael Rubin, a fellow at the neo-conservative American Enterprise Institute (AEI), that he had resigned from an "expert working group" advising the ISG. Rubin accused Baker and his Democratic co-chair, former Rep. Lee Hamilton, of having "gerrymandered (the) advisory panels to ratify predetermined recommendations" -- panels, he noted, which included Middle East experts who had actually opposed the Iraq war. In a preview of attacks that appeared with increasing frequency over the following month, Rubin also assailed Baker for what he called the former secretary of state's "legacy" in the Middle East -- namely, his approval of the 1989 Taif Accords which "sacrificed Lebanese independence" to Syria and his "betrayal" of Kurdish and Shiite rebels after the first Gulf War. Rubin was quickly followed by Eliot Cohen, a member of the Pentagon's Defence Policy Board, who, writing in the Wall Street Journal, mocked the ISG as a "collection of worthies commissioned by Congress that has spent several days in Iraq, chiefly in the Green Zone." "To think that either (Syria or Iran), with remarkable records of violence, duplicity and hostility to the U.S., will rescue us bespeaks a certain willful blindness," Cohen wrote.'
Lees verder: http://www.commondreams.org/headlines06/1206-06.htm
Iraq has the world’s second largest proven oil reserves. According to oil industry experts, new exploration will probably raise Iraq’s reserves to 200+ billion barrels of high-grade crude, extraordinarily cheap to produce. The four giant firms located in the US and the UK have been keen to get back into Iraq, from which they were excluded with the nationalization of 1972. During the final years of the Saddam era, they envied companies from France, Russia, China, and elsewhere, who had obtained major contracts. But UN sanctions (kept in place by the US and the UK) kept those contracts inoperable. Since the invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003, everything has changed and the companies have been scrambling to grab their share of the spoils. In the new setting, with Washington running the show, "friendly" companies expect to gain most of the lucrative oil deals that will be worth hundreds of billions of dollars in profits in the coming decades. The new Iraqi constitution of 2005, greatly influenced by US advisors, contains language that guarantees a major role for foreign companies. Negotiators hope soon to complete deals on Production Sharing Agreements that will give the companies control over dozens of fields, including the fabled super-giant Majnoon, whose 21 billion barrels are worth $1.5 trillion at today's prices. But no contracts could be signed until after elections and the formation of a new government, so that the Iraqi side would appear legally legitimate. While regional governments angle for influence over the foreign oil contracts, most Iraqis favor continued control by a national company and the powerful oil workers union opposes de-nationalization. Iraq's political future is very much in flux, but oil remains the central feature of the political landscape.'
Drie jaar geleden besteedde ik in het tijdschrift de Humanist en op de VPRO radio uitgebreid aaandacht aan de belangrijkste reden van de Amerikaanse inval in Irak, namelijk olie. De commerciele massamedia besteedden toen aan deze reden nagenoeg geen aandacht, maar wel uitgebreid aandacht aan de beweringen van die Westerse regeringen die beweerden dat Saddam over massavernietigingswapens beschikte en daarom uit de weg moest worden geruimd. Ik baseerde mij als onafhankelijk journalist op publiekelijk toegankelijke bronnen die al veel eerder duidelijk aantoonden dat het allemaal ging om olie, de strategisch meest vitale grondstof ter wereld. Die - vaak overheidsbronnen - hadden ook de andere Nederlandse journalisten kunnen raadplegen maar dat deden ze niet, gezagsgetrouw als ze doorgaans zijn.
The Iraq Study Group may not have a solution for how to end the war, but it does have a way for its corporate friends to make money.
In its heavily anticipated report released on Wednesday, the Iraq Study Group made at least four truly radical proposals.
The report calls for the United States to assist in privatizing Iraq's national oil industry, opening Iraq to private foreign oil and energy companies, providing direct technical assistance for the "drafting" of a new national oil law for Iraq, and assuring that all of Iraq's oil revenues accrue to the central government.
President Bush hired an employee from the U.S. consultancy firm Bearing Point Inc. over a year ago to advise the Iraq Oil Ministry on the drafting and passage of a new national oil law. As previously drafted, the law opens Iraq's nationalized oil sector to private foreign corporate investment, but stops short of full privatization. The ISG report, however, goes further, stating that "the United States should assist Iraqi leaders to reorganize the national oil industry as a commercial enterprise." In addition, the current Constitution of Iraq is ambiguous as to whether control over Iraq's oil should be shared among its regional provinces or held under the central government. The report specifically recommends the latter: "Oil revenues should accrue to the central government and be shared on the basis of population." If these proposals are followed, Iraq's national oil industry will be privatized and opened to foreign firms, and in control of all of Iraq's oil wealth.
The proposals should come as little surprise given that two authors of the report, James A. Baker III and Lawrence Eagleburger, have each spent much of their political and corporate careers in pursuit of greater access to Iraq's oil and wealth.
"Pragmatist" is the word most often used to describe Iraq Study Group co-chair James A. Baker III. It is equally appropriate for Lawrence Eagleburger. The term applies particularly well to each man's efforts to expand U.S. economic engagement with Saddam Hussein throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Not only did their efforts enrich Hussein and U.S. corporations, particularly oil companies, it also served the interests of their own private firms.
On April 21,1990, a U.S. delegation was sent to Iraq to placate Saddam Hussein as his anti-American rhetoric and threats of a Kuwaiti invasion intensified. James A. Baker III, then President George H.W. Bush's secretary of state, personally sent a cable to the U.S embassy in Baghdad instructing the U.S. ambassador to meet with Hussein and to make clear that, "as concerned as we are about Iraq's chemical, nuclear, and missile programs, we are not in any sense preparing the way for preemptive military unilateral effort to eliminate these programs."'
Waarom wordt er in de Nederlandse commerciele massamedia aan dit aspect nu geen aandacht besteed? Weet u het?
David Attenborough explores just how much climate change is altering our planet. He looks ahead to find out what needs to be done to save Planet Earth from the worst impact of global warming and discovers what could happen to the planet once a 'tipping point' of carbon emissions is reached. He also discusses the solutions we can all adopt to prevent catastrophic change.'
David Attenborough's programma's zijn bijna allen kleine meesterwerken. En toch zou ik willen dat hij een stapje verder gaat. Dat hij zich buigt over de vraag: waar komt de westerse minachting voor de natuur uit voort? Ik bedoel: de veronderstelling dat de mens de natuur aan zich kan onderwerpen, de natuur kan beheersen, kan verkrachten als het nodig is voor de materiele vooruitgang? Waar berust die vernietigende gedachte precies op? Als we dat zouden weten, zouden we werkelijk een andere houding ten opzichte van de natuur kunnen ontwikkelen.
De befaamde Kiowa-Indiaanse auteur Scott Momaday schrijft in The Man Made of Words: 'I tell my students that the American has a unique investment in the American landscape. It is an investment that represents perhaps thirty thousand years of habitation. The tenure has to be worth something in itself -- a great deal, in fact. The Indian has been here a long time; he is at home here. That simple and obvious trust is one of the most important realities of the Indian world, and it is integral in the Indian mind and spirit. How does such a concept evolve? Where does it begin? Perhaps it begins with the recognition, the realization that the physical world is beautifull... This comprehension of the earth and air is surely a matter of morality, for it brings into account not only man's instinctive reaction to his environment but the full realization of his humanity as well, the achievement of his intellectual and spiritual development at an individual and as a race.' Zie ook: http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/momaday/momaday.htm
Als ik kijk naar het gelaat van christelijke politici, die zichzelf als rentmeesters van Gods schepping beschouwen, dan zie ik onmiddellijk dat het enige dat hen drijft geldzucht en macht is. Hoe komt het dat het besef van schoonheid in het instrumentalistisch bewustzijn van de blanke Westerling is verdwenen, dat materiele zaken belangrijker zijn dan esthetica? Of is er geen waarom?
If Britons can join the Israeli army, those who fight for Palestine can't be treated as terrorists.
The Arab-Israeli conflict is unlike any other regional conflict. As the UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, put it: "No other conflict carries such a powerful symbolic and emotional charge among people far removed from the battlefield." Not surprisingly, this has had its impact on multicultural Britain, with different communities aligning themselves to varying degrees with the Israeli and Palestinian causes.Everyone in a democracy has the right to argue for their views and engage in public debate. But there is no equality when it comes to how the British government treats those who want to give physical support to Israel and those who want to do the same for the Palestinians. Such double standards feed resentment in Britain's Muslim community at the government's failure to recognise its legitimate grievances, as highlighted in yesterday's report by the thinktank Demos.In recent months the media have reported on the recruitment of British Jews to fight in the Israeli army, now in its 40th year of occupation of Palestinian territory in defiance of international law and UN resolutions. Some are intending to emigrate; others to return to Britain after serving in the Israeli army. But we have not had a word of concern from the British government. In the Muslim community, however, the question is widely raised as to how British citizens can travel to another country and fight in its army of illegal occupation without any repercussions. Would that be the case if, say, a young Muslim or Briton of Palestinian origin travelled to the occupied Palestinian territories - let alone occupied Iraq - to protect his or her homeland or co-religionists? Of course not: such volunteers could expect to be arrested under this government's anti-terrorism legislation as soon as they returned.These Britons who go to fight for Israel are volunteering to serve in the frontline of Israel's war in the illegally occupied territories of the West Bank and Gaza. Some have acknowledged that they have been or will be engaged in the killing of Palestinians. Under international law they and those who facilitate their enlistment are committing war crimes.'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15815.htm
Hetzelfde geldt voor Nederland. Als joodse Nederlanders in het Israelische leger mogen dienen en dus mogen deelnemen aan de Israelische terreur tegen de Palestijnse burgerbevolking, dan zouden arabische Nederlanders voor de Palestijnen mogen vechten. Sterker nog: het steunen van het Israelische leger dat een illegale bezetting voortzet is in feite in strijd met het internationaal recht, terwijl het steunen van het Palestijnse verzet hiertegen niet illegaal is.
By Mike Whitney.
By now, everyone has heard about Rumsfeld’s memo. It was leaked to the New York Times supposedly without Rumsfeld’s knowledge. It makes the case that Rumsfeld was just about to make major changes in Iraq because he could see that the strategy was failing and had created a disaster. Everything about the memo reeks of deception. In fact, the Times even admits that, “Rumsfeld may have been trying to shape the coming discussion and present himself as open to ‘change’”. Why? Because, according to the article, “President Bush interviewed Texas A&M University President Robert Gates as a potential successor to Rumsfeld a day before the midterm elections.” Do you think that Rummy, who controls 80% of the US intelligence budget and listens in to the conversations of Quakers, antiwar protestors, and other unsuspecting citizens knew that he was going to be canned? You bet he did. And now he’s rewriting history to cast himself as a flexible and open-minded military leader who could change course when the situation warranted. It’s just another way of patching together a legacy before tottering off into retirement. Nothing Rumsfeld says can be trusted. He spies on Americans’ phone calls, computers, medical records, bank records and groups. He has been a stanch supporter of planting propaganda in newspapers and TV. He introduced a program that created a “rapid response” team to rebut information that is critical of US foreign policy appearing on blogs, web-sites and letters to the editor. He controlled the flow of information coming out of Iraq and managed to silence many of the war’s critics. He developed a plan for “Total Information Awareness” that is designed to control everything that the public sees and hears from cradle to grave. Now he is trying to write his own legacy. It is just another in a long list of deceptions; a smokescreen created to conceal his responsibility in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people.'
Lees verder: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article15816.htm
'De viering van genocide (over Thanksgiving).
Het is een jaarlijkse sport voor Amerikanen geworden om zichzelf net zo vol te proppen tijdens de nationale feestdag ‘Thanksgiving’ als dat ze hun kalkoenen op diezelfde dag vullen. Thanksgiving is een typisch Amerikaanse feestdag. Sterker nog, het is niet alleen een feestdag maar, zoals de ethymologie al impliceert, één van de heilige dagen die bijna universeel gevierd wordt door de Amerikanen. Binnen de kaders van die heilige dag komen hele families en gezinnen in feite bijeen om – al dan niet bewust – de ene genocide te vieren (de genocide tegen de Indianen) door de andere genocide uit te voeren (die tegen de kalkoenen). Kunnen de Amerikanen dit in goed geloof en bij volledig bewustzijn van het geheel vieren?
Ik stel mezelf even voor dat ik een Amerikaan ben:
Op Thanksgiving zijn we dankbaar. We zijn dankbaar voor het feit dat we een invasie hebben uitgevoerd en de plaatselijke bevolkingsgroepen (alle indianenstammen) bijna hebben uitgeroeid. We zijn dankbaar voor het feit dat we dominante, hebberige, gulzige, kolonialiserende dieven zijn, dankzij de uitgevoerde genocide en ontkennen ons eigen imperialistisch op een nulsaldo gebaseerd moordspel. Zoals Mark Twain al zei in zijn Oorlogsgedicht: "hopen op en dankbaar zijn voor het eigen succes en overwinningen is hetzelfde als hopen op en dankbaar zijn voor het verlies en destructie van een ander". Moet je dit soort dankbaarheid en hoop als Amerikaan nou eigenlijk wel willen?
De Libanese dichter Kahlil Gibran verklaarde ooit: "het is de eer van de vermoorde dat hij niet de moordenaar is". Dat is misschien wel zo, maar het is een nogal moeilijk te verteren eer. De indianen die het 500 jaar durende genocideplan van gevluchte Europeanen hebben overleefd behoren tot de armste etnische minderheid in het rijkste land ter wereld. Elk jaar komt op Thanksgiving een groep indianen bijeen, aan de voet van de rots ‘Plymouth Rock’ om in gemeenschap te rouwen om al het verlies dat zij hebben geleden, zowel in persoonlijke als in materiële en culturele zin. Waar zou je als Amerikaan nou eigenlijk voor geëerd willen worden? Welke eer zijn Amerikanen nou eigenlijk dankbaar voor?
Het is ooit oprecht door de indianen gevraagd: "waarom zou je iets met geweld nemen, dat je met alle liefde ook kunt krijgen?" Christopher Columbus schreef in zijn persoonlijk logboek dat toen hij arriveerde in ‘the America’s’, hij zich vooral verwonderde. De Arawaken (oorspronkelijke bewoners van Guyana en Suriname, alsmede de omringende eilanden) kwamen met nieuwsgierige vreugde hun stranden op om de Europese vreemdelingen te begroeten. Deze Arawaken (die door Columbus werden verward met de indianen) waren in ieder denkbaar aspect vredelievende mensen, bereid om alles wat zij hadden te delen en boden in een roes hun emotionele vriendelijkheid en fysieke objecten aan. Columbus omschreef op deze manier hoe bewonderenswaardig de gastvrijheid was van deze mensen. Volledig onschuldig van gebruik van wapens en geweld reikten de Arawaken hun armen uit om de voor hun vreemde, glimmende objecten die de Spanjaarden en Portugezen als zwaarden gebruikten te kunnen aanraken. Arawaken werkten maar een paar uur per dag, om hun resterende tijd te kunnen benutten om te relaxen, hun sociale contacten verbeteren en hun cultuur te helpen vormen op een wijze die voor een ieder van hun het beste uitkwam. Columbus vertelde ook hoe de Arawaken geen schaamte kenden omdat ze bijna naakt rondliepen en de liefde bedreven wanneer zij dat maar wilden. Met de kleine hoeveelheid goud die op hun eiland aanwezig was, fabriceerden zij sieraden waarmee zij zichzelf decoreerden. Zoals het geval is met alle inheemse volkeren die een naar Europese maatstaven contactgestoorde samenleving vormden, leefden ook de Arawaken in Utopia. Kunnen Amerikanen dankbaar zijn voor het leven in een utopische samenleving? Of zijn ze dankbaar voor het feit dat ze er 1 hebben vernietigd? Misschien zijn ze wel dankbaar voor het feit dat ze zoveel dodelijke wapens hebben. Of toch voor het verlangen naar goud, zowel actueel als metaforisch?'
Lees verder: http://www.elqalem.nl/elqalem/aspx/template.aspx?item_id=1244&category_id=46&group_id=24
'The Taliban Gets Closer to Kabul.
A report from the German military, the Bundeswehr, warns that the Taliban is approaching Kabul and that attacks on the capital city are likely to increase. Security in nearby districts is already deteriorating.
The regeneration of the Taliban -- which has retaken control of parts of southern Afghanistan -- is no longer fresh news to anyone. But are the insurgent forces preparing to launch a series of attacks on the capital city of Kabul, which is home to peacekeeping troops, the Afghan government and non-government organizations that are helping to rebuild the war-torn country?
The leadership of Germany's military, the Bundeswehr, fear that Taliban attacks on the Afganistan capital of Kabul will likely increase in the coming months. According to a classified report on the state of Afghanistan obtained by SPIEGEL, "militant opposition forces" have made it clear that they will focus fighting during the winter "on the country's largest cities."
The security situation has already "visibly deteriorated" in two districts located just 10 kilometers from Kabul's city limits -- to the point that Afghan security forces don't even dare to patrol the streets at night. The report warned that Taliban fighters could use the district as "gateways" to Kabul and also as place where they could stage future attacks.
According to the report, Taliban fighters are smuggled into the districts in small "groups of up to eight men," and they often blend in with the population by staying in the homes of local residents for several days at a time.
In a separate development, NATO troops fired on civilians after a suicide car bomb exploded next to their convoy on Sunday. The suicide blast in Kandahar, southern Afghanistan, killed two civilians and injured ten outhers, including three British soldiers. NATO spokesman Maj. Luke Knittig said that as the patrol was driving away from the scene they saw a car they feared might contain a second suicide bomber. At least one civilian was killed and nine were injured during the ensuing shooting.'
woensdag 6 december 2006
'Taliban repel British assault in south Afghanistan.
GARMSER, Afghanistan (Reuters) - British Marines attacked a Taliban-held valley in southern Afghanistan on Tuesday but withdrew after a ferocious counterattack that withstood air strikes and artillery fire, witnesses said.
One Royal Marine was killed and a second wounded during the battle, the UK Helmand Task Force (UKTF) said.
Scores of soldiers ran across a bridge over the Helmand River under a full moon shortly before daybreak and began sweeping south through wheatfields in the south of the province, the opium center of the world's major producer.
A Reuters cameraman said the Marines initially faced only sporadic resistance but when they advanced, Taliban fighters launched a ferocious, organized riposte with heavy weapons and tried to outflank the British troops.
The fierce resistance illustrated the challenges facing the NATO troops in Afghanistan where they are trying to subdue well-armed Taliban and other militants bolstered by profits from a record opium crop, according to Afghan and foreign officials.'
'Chavez uses petro-dollars to help the poor - in America.
CARACAS, Venezuela - Hugo Chavez coasted to another six-year term as Venezuela's president on the strength of petro-dollars and promises to spread more of his country's oil wealth to the poor.
But as Chavez struggles to alleviate poverty for eight million of his own citizens, the 52-year-old leftist leader is using his oil riches in an unlikely way - by paying the winter heating bills for hundreds of thousands of underprivileged Americans.
Even as Chavez demonized the United States as an evil imperialist empire during campaign events leading to his re-election Sunday, Venezuela's state-owned oil company renewed a deal to provide 40 per cent discounts on furnace oil to 400,000 people in 15 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.
The act of generosity is dismissed by Chavez's critics as pure propaganda - an attempt to embarrass the Bush administration - and it is drawing mixed reaction among Venezuelans.
''I think he is just giving the money away,'' huffs Carmen Herrara, a retiree who lives in a suburb of east Caracas. ''There is a lot of poverty in this country that needs to be solved first.''
The heating-oil program offered by Venezuelan-owned Citgo is but one element of an incredibly complex, carrot-and-stick relationship Chavez and the U.S. have with each other, one revolving predominantly around the politics and economics of oil.
Chavez won Sunday with 61 per cent of the vote.
In Washington, the Bush administration expressed hope the U.S. could improve relations with Venezuela even though Chavez called his victory another "defeat for the devil."
Sean McCormack, the State Department spokesman, said "we hope that we could have a positive constructive relationship" with Chavez in the future.
"There are, of course, well-reported frictions on some issues. From our standpoint, there don't have to be any frictions," said McCormack, who added the U.S. was awaiting reports from international election observers before passing final judgement on the election.
Chavez had rankled President George W. Bush in August 2005 when he offered to ship emergency fuel supplies to New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.'
'This still photo from a video obtained by The New York Times shows Jose Padilla’s forced isolation and sensory deprivation, including the use of blinders and sound dampeners as he is moved from his cell.
Becoming What We Despise.
By Robert Scheer Truthdig.com.
Jose Padilla, a U.S. citizen, has been tortured by his own government for the better part of three-and-one-half years, suffering years of systematic sensory deprivation documented in his attorneys' filings and supported by photos of the prisoner published this week by the New York Times.
In that time, Padilla, who has been judged by professionals as mentally ill as a consequence of his brutal treatment, has been denied his Constitutional right to a fair and speedy trial and was permitted no legal representation for 21 months. The Bush administration's excuse for this betrayal of our legal system was that Padilla was a dangerous al Qaeda agent, a big fish caught in the administration's successful pursuit of its much ballyhooed war on terror. In the words of then-U.S. Attorney Gen. John Ashcroft, Padilla was "a known terrorist who was exploring a plan to build and explode a radiological dispersion device, or 'dirty bomb,' in the United States." Those lurid claims were abandoned when the government, faced with a belated U.S. Supreme Court censure, finally charged Padilla with vague and lesser crimes carrying a maximum 15-year sentence.
Were this some isolated case of officially condoned sadism, say in a rural county jail, it could be minimized as an aberration. Instead, it is an all-too-accurate reflection of a presidential policy of dehumanizing anyone even suspected of being an enemy. The Times photos, taken from a government video, give evidence of a heavily manacled prisoner with masked eyes and muffled ears being walked down a corridor within a Navy brig, lending physical evidence to Padilla's lawyer's claims of a pattern of disorienting isolation. "There is nothing comparable in terms of severity of confinement, in terms of how Padilla was held, especially considering that this was pretrial confinement," Philip D. Cave, a former Navy judge advocate general, told the Times.
Obviously, a prisoner who has been deliberately disorientated for so long is no longer in a position to exercise his right to confront his accusers. An examining psychiatrist wrote that "as the result of his experience during his detention and interrogation, Mr. Padilla does not appreciate the nature and consequences of the proceedings against him, is unable to render assistance to counsel, and has impairments in reasoning as the result of a mental illness ... complicated by the neuropsychiatric effects of prolonged isolation."
The excuse for this heinous treatment of a U.S. citizen is the same as that given for an entire orgy of despicable treatment of prisoners held in Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantanamo and a gulag archipelago of secret military facilities around the world: Our enemies, all linked through sophistry to the 9/11 terror attacks, are so vile and dangerous that the limitations on government power enshrined in our guiding documents and political culture no longer apply. Once the Twin Towers were knocked down, supposedly, we could no longer afford to be "nice guys" - as if the rule of law is an indulgence of only the most secure nations.'
Lees verder: http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/120606E.shtml
'Media Sham for Iraq War - It's Happening Again.
By Norman Solomon t r u t h o u t Guest Contributer
Wednesday 06 December 2006
The lead-up to the invasion of Iraq has become notorious in the annals of American journalism. Even many reporters, editors and commentators who fueled the drive to war in 2002 and early 2003 now acknowledge that major media routinely tossed real journalism out the window in favor of boosting war.
But it's happening again.
The current media travesty is a drumbeat for the idea that the US war effort must keep going. And again, in its news coverage, the New York Times is a bellwether for the latest media parade to the cadence of the warfare state.
During the run-up to the invasion, news stories repeatedly told about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, while the Times and other key media outlets insisted that their coverage was factually reliable. Now the same media outlets insist that their coverage is analytically reliable.
Instead of authoritative media information about aluminum tubes and mobile weapons labs, we're getting authoritative media illumination of why a swift pullout of US troops isn't realistic or desirable. The result is similar to what was happening four years ago - a huge betrayal of journalistic responsibility.
The WMD spin was in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed. The anti-pullout spin is in sync with official sources and other establishment-sanctified experts, named and unnamed.
During the weeks since the midterm election, the New York Times's news coverage of Iraq policy options has often been heavy-handed, with carefully selective sourcing for prefab conclusions. Already infamous is the November 15 front-page story by Michael Gordon under the headline "Get Out of Iraq Now? Not So Fast, Experts Say." A similar technique was at play December 1 with yet another "News Analysis," this time by reporter David Sanger, headlined "The Only Consensus on Iraq: Nobody's Leaving Right Now."
Typically in such reportage, the sources harmonizing with the media outlet's analysis are chosen from the cast of political characters who helped drag the United States into making war on Iraq in the first place.
What's going on now in mainline news media is some kind of repetition compulsion. And, while media professionals engage in yet another round of conformist opportunism, many people will pay with their lives.
With so many prominent American journalists navigating their stories by the lights of big Washington stars, it's not surprising that so much of the news coverage looks at what happens in Iraq through the lens of the significance for American power.
Viewing the horrors of present-day Iraq with star-spangled eyes, New York Times reporters John Burns and Kirk Semple wrote - in the lead sentence of a front-page "News Analysis" on November 29 - that "American military and political leverage in Iraq has fallen sharply."
The second paragraph of the Baghdad-datelined article reported: "American fortunes here are ever more dependent on feuding Iraqis who seem, at times, almost heedless to American appeals."
The third paragraph reported: "It is not clear that the United States can gain new traction in Iraq ..."
And so it goes - with US media obsessively focused on such concerns as "American military and political leverage," "American fortunes," and whether "the United States can gain new traction in Iraq."
With that kind of worldview, no wonder so much news coverage is serving nationalism instead of journalism.'
De Washington Post bericht:
'Iraq Panel Calls Conditions ''Grave and Deteriorating.''
Conditions in Iraq are "grave and deteriorating," with the prospect that a "slide toward chaos" could topple the U.S.-backed government and trigger a regional war unless the United States changes course and seeks a broader diplomatic and political solution involving all of Iraq's neighbors, according to a bipartisan panel that gave its recommendations to President Bush and Congress today.
In what amounts to the most extensive independent assessment of the nearly four-year-old conflict that has claimed the lives of more than 2,800 Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis, the Iraq Study Group bluntly warns that "current U.S. policy is not working." Citing rising violence and the Iraqi government's failure to advance national reconciliation, the panel paints a grim picture of a nation that Bush has repeatedly vowed to transform into a beacon of freedom and democracy in the Middle East.
Despite a list of 79 recommendations meant to encourage regional diplomacy and lead to a reduction of U.S. forces over the next year, the panel acknowledges that stability in Iraq may be impossible to achieve any time soon.
"We do not know if [Iraq] can be turned around, but we think we have an obligation to try," former congressman Lee H. Hamilton (D-Ind.), a co-chairman of the Iraq Study Group, told a Capitol Hill news conference after the report was made public. "The task ahead of us is daunting . . . but it is not by any means lost."
The group's Republican co-chairman, former secretary of state James A. Baker III, said the report "doesn't bind anyone," but he suggested that its recommendations carry extra weight because they have "complete bipartisan support."
"We do not recommend a 'stay the course' solution," Baker said in summarizing the group's findings at the news conference. "In our opinion, that approach is no longer viable." But he said the group "also did not recommend a precipitous withdrawal of troops because that might not only cause a bloodbath, it would also invite a wider regional war."'
'Scheuren in de officiële 11 september-verklaring.
We wisten in 1912 binnen 14 dagen meer over wat zich bij de ramp met de Titanic afspeelde dan we na een jaar weten van de omstandigheden waaronder bijna 3.000 mensen op klaarlichte dag in hartje Manhattan de dood vonden.
Zo verzuchtte The New York Times op 11 september 2002. Sindsdien is er weinig veranderd.
De gebeurtenissen van 11 september, die onze wereldgeschiedenis bepaalden, zijn nog steeds met raadselen omgeven. Niet alleen doen de meest bizarre theorieën de ronde over wat er zich die dag afspeelde; nog merkwaardiger zijn de geverifieerde feiten, de uitspraken van regeringsfunctionarissen, de gegevens uit officiële rapporten...
Dit alles vertelt een heel eigen verhaal, een verhaal dat voor zichzelf spreekt.
Een verhaal dat je moet lezen om het te kunnen geloven, dag in dag uit.
Daarom presenteren wij deze kalender – zodat u een jaar lang kunt genieten onder het motto:
De werkelijkheid is vele malen bizarder dan de wildste samenzweringstheorie.
Verwonder u over:
- de voorspellende gaven van Donald Rumsfeld
- de werking van het onnavolgbare veiligheidsapparaat van de vs
- de doeltreffende onderzoeksmethoden van de fbi
- de verrassende informatiebronnen van burgemeester Giuliani
- het briljante informatienetwerk van de cia
- het scrupuleuze, diepgaande onderzoek van de 9/11 Commission
- de verbluffende jacht op al-Qaeda
- de wonderbaarlijke gedaanteverwisselingen van Osama bin Laden
- de onverwachte wederopstanding van sommige kapers
- en vooral het snelle, doortastende optreden van George W. Bush
… en dat 365 dagen lang!'
Zie ook: www.11september.nu