zaterdag 6 januari 2007

The Empire 122

De Nederlandse commerciele massamedia beseffen het niet, maar in de VS zelf wordt in alle lagen van de bevolking hard nagedacht over het economische en morele failliet van hun land en de ineenstorting van de voorheen alom geprezen American Dream.
'For America's Sake.
by Bill Moyers.

The following is an adaptation of remarks made by Bill Moyers to a December 12 gathering in New York sponsored by The Nation, Demos, the Brennan Center for Justice and the New Democracy Project. --The Editors
You could not have chosen a better time to gather. Voters have provided a respite from a right-wing radicalism predicated on the philosophy that extremism in the pursuit of virtue is no vice. It seems only yesterday that the Trojan horse of conservatism was hauled into Washington to disgorge Newt Gingrich, Tom DeLay, Ralph Reed, Grover Norquist and their hearty band of ravenous predators masquerading as a political party of small government, fiscal restraint and moral piety and promising "to restore accountability to Congress...[and] make us all proud again of the way free people govern themselves."
Well, the long night of the junta is over, and Democrats are ebullient as they prepare to take charge of the multitrillion-dollar influence racket that we used to call the US Congress. Let them rejoice while they can, as long as they remember that while they ran some good campaigns, they have arrived at this moment mainly because George W. Bush lost a war most people have come to believe should never have been fought in the first place. Let them remember, too, in this interim of sweet anticipation, that although they are reveling in the ruins of a Republican reign brought down by stupendous scandals, their own closet is stocked with skeletons from an era when they were routed from office following Abscam bribes and savings and loan swindles that plucked the pockets and purses of hard-working, tax-paying Americans.
As they rejoice, Democrats would be wise to be mindful of Shakespeare's counsel, "'Tis more by fortune...than by merit." For they were delivered from the wilderness not by their own goodness and purity but by the grace of K Street corruption, DeLay Inc.'s duplicity, the pitiless exploitation of Terri Schiavo, the disgrace of Mark Foley and a shameful partisan cover-up, the shamelessness of Jack Abramoff and a partisan conspiracy, and neocon arrogance and amorality (yes, amoral: Apparently there is no end to the number of bodies Bill Kristol and Richard Perle are prepared to watch pile up on behalf of illusions that can't stand the test of reality even one Beltway block from the think tanks where they are hatched). The Democrats couldn't have been more favored by the gods if they had actually believed in one!
But whatever one might say about the election, the real story is one that our political and media elites are loath to acknowledge or address. I am not speaking of the lengthy list of priorities that progressives and liberals of every stripe are eager to put on the table now that Democrats hold the cards in Congress. Just the other day a message popped up on my computer from a progressive advocate whose work I greatly admire. Committed to movement-building from the ground up, he has results to show for his labors. His request was simple: "With changes in Congress and at our state capitol, we want your input on what top issues our lawmakers should tackle. Click here to submit your top priority."
I clicked. Sure enough, up came a list of thirty-four issues--an impressive list that began with "African-American" and ran alphabetically through "energy" and "higher education" to "guns," "transportation," "women's issues" and "workers' rights." It wasn't a list to be dismissed, by any means, for it came from an unrequited thirst for action after a long season of malignant opposition to every item on the agenda. I understand the mindset. Here's a fellow who values allies and appreciates what it takes to build coalitions; who knows that although our interests as citizens vary, each one is an artery to the heart that pumps life through the body politic, and each is important to the health of democracy. This is an activist who knows political success is the sum of many parts.
But America needs something more right now than a "must-do" list from liberals and progressives. America needs a different story. The very morning I read the message from the progressive activist, the New York Times reported on Carol Ann Reyes. Carol Ann Reyes is 63. She lives in Los Angeles, suffers from dementia and is homeless. Somehow she made her way to a hospital with serious, untreated needs. No details were provided as to what happened to her there, except that the hospital--which is part of Kaiser Permanente, the largest HMO in the country--called a cab and sent her back to skid row. True, they phoned ahead to workers at a rescue shelter to let them know she was coming. But some hours later a surveillance camera picked her up "wandering around the streets in a hospital gown and slippers." Dumped in America.'

The Empire 121

Mark Weisbrot is Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, in Washington, DC.

The big question for the U.S. economy now is whether we will make it through 2007 without a recession. Most of the top economic forecasters are predicting a "soft landing," which means the economy slows but not so sharply as to cause a recession. But almost all of these same experts failed to forecast the last recession, and they missed the stock market bubble (the largest financial asset bubble in history). And most of them also missed the housing bubble until it began to burst. So it would not be prudent to rely solely on their forecasts at this time.
The timing of any downturn is not easy to predict. But a recession is likely, because of the enormity of the housing bubble and the impact of its collapse. Recall that our last recession (in 2001) was caused by the bursting of a stock market bubble of about $7 trillion. The housing bubble is comparable in size (about $5 trillion at peak) and the bubble wealth is much more widely distributed: most Americans still have most of their assets in housing and little or nothing in stocks.
As this housing wealth disappears, people cut spending. We have already seen an enormous drop in the amount that people borrow on their homes, from $600 billion last year to about $350 billion for 2006. It was this borrowing, enabled by soaring house prices that allowed people to borrow more against the value of their homes, that fueled the U.S. economic recovery since 2001.
Housing construction and sales are also a big sector of the economy, currently about 6 percent of GDP. If that falls 30-40 percent, as it has in previous downturns, that's a drop of about 2 percent of GDP.
The recession caused by the stock market bubble bursting, which lasted only from March to November of 2001, would have been a lot worse if not for the enormous demand created by the housing bubble. So what will rescue the U.S. economy from the collapse of the housing bubble?
It's not easy to imagine what that would be. Personal savings rates are already negative, a phenomenon not seen since the Great Depression. How much can consumers borrow on their credit cards? A sustained surge of business investment is unlikely in the face of an economy that is already slowing: GDP growth was just 2.0 percent in the third quarter, down from 2.6 and 5.6 percent in the previous two quarters.
And there are downside risks from the global economy: foreign central banks are keeping our long-term interest rates extremely low -- below short-term rates -- by accumulating 10-year U.S. treasury bonds. They could lose just some of their appetite for this debt at any time and send U.S. long-term rates upward. A decline in the dollar, which is inevitable given that we are borrowing more than 6 percent of GDP from other countries, poses similar risks - although it will eventually help the U.S. economy by narrowing our trade deficit.
We could possibly get through the international imbalances for another year but the housing bubble collapse is already upon us, with November's housing starts down 25 percent over the last year, home sales plummeting, and home prices falling. This is something that our political leaders and policy-makers should have warned people about, rather than encouraging the same kind of speculative excess that dominated our economy during the late 1990s stock market bubble.'

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The Empire 120

'Can We Let Intelligence Officials Lie With Impunity?”
By Ray McGovern and W. Patrick Lang.
Lies have consequences . All those who helped President George W. Bush launch a war of aggression—termed by Nuremberg “the supreme international crime”—have blood on their hands and must be held accountable. This includes corrupt intelligence officials. Otherwise, look for them to perform the same service in facilitating war on Iran.
“They should have been shot,” said former State Department intelligence director, Carl Ford, referring to ex-CIA director George Tenet and his deputy John McLaughlin, for their “fundamentally dishonest” cooking of intelligence to please the White House. Ford was alluding to “intelligence” on the menacing but non-existent mobile biological weapons laboratories in Iraq.
Ford was angry that Tenet and McLaughlin persisted in portraying the labs as real several months after they had been duly warned that they existed only in the imagination of intelligence analysts who, in their own eagerness to please, had glommed onto second-hand tales told by a con-man appropriately dubbed “Curveball.” In fact, Tenet and McLaughlin had been warned about Curveball long before they let then-Secretary of State Colin Powell shame himself, and the rest of us, by peddling Curveball’s wares at the U.N. Security Council on February 5, 2003.
After the war began, those same analysts, still “leaning forward,” misrepresented a tractor-trailer found in Iraq outfitted with industrial equipment as one of the mobile bio-labs. Former U.N. weapons inspector David Kay, then working for NBC News, obliged by pointing out the equipment “where the biological process took place... Literally, there is nothing else for which it could be used.”
George Tenet knows a good man when he sees him. A few weeks later he hired Kay to lead the Pentagon-created Iraq Survey Group in the famous search to find other (equally non-existent, it turned out) “weapons of mass destruction.” (Eventually Kay, a scientist given to empirical evidence more than faith-based intelligence, became the skunk at the picnic when, in January 2004, he insisted on telling senators the truth: “We were almost all wrong—and I certainly include myself here.” But that came later.)
On May 28, 2003, CIA’s intrepid analysts cooked up a fraudulent six-page report claiming that the trailer discovered earlier in May was proof they had been right about Iraq’s “bio-weapons labs.” They then performed what could be called a “night-time requisition,” getting the only Defense Intelligence Agency analyst sympathetic to their position to provide DIA “coordination,” (which was subsequently withdrawn by DIA). On May 29, President George W. Bush, visiting Poland, proudly announced on Polish TV, “We have found the weapons of mass destruction.”
When the State Department's Intelligence and Research (INR) analysts realized that this was not some kind of Polish joke, they “went ballistic,” according to Ford, who immediately warned Colin Powell that there was a problem. Tenet must have learned of this quickly, for he called Ford on the carpet, literally, the following day. No shrinking violet, Ford held his ground. He told Tenet and McLaughlin, “That report is one of the worst intelligence assessments I’ve ever read.”'

The Empire 119

'The Peak Oil Crisis: 2006 in Review.
By Tom Whipple
Falls Church News-Press

As the year draws to a close, it is a good time to look back at what has happened and what clues we can discern about 2007.
The most notable event affecting the advent of peak oil during 2006 was, most likely, the great summer price spike. Oil started the year around $62 a barrel, steadily increased to just below $80 and then fell to close out the year about where it started. Now there are a number of observations that can be made about this spike.
First it drove average US gasoline prices from $2.21 in late December 2005 to a high of over $3.00 per gallon during the summer. This was significant in that it caught a lot of people's attention for the first time that there just might be a problem out there. At the height of the spike, Congressmen were running around like rabbits proposing new laws and making pious speeches about how they were doing something about gasoline prices. Although the US economy as a whole seems to have held up pretty well under $3 gasoline, Detroit took a hard hit. Sales of low-mileage vehicles that had been the bread and butter of the US auto industry plunged, tens of thousands of auto workers lost their jobs, and dozens of factories closed. By year's end Toyota was poised to become the world's largest automotive manufacturer.
From the public's point of view and unfortunately most of the media's, peak oil seems to be only about gasoline prices. Above $3 a gallon there is concern. Let gasoline sink back towards $2 and we are back in Camelot.
The 2006 price spike is widely perceived as being caused by an excess of speculation. Hedge fund managers read forecasts of a bang-up hurricane season in the offing and that, coupled with greater-than-normal turmoil in the Middle East, led them to speculate wildly in oil futures. When the Middle East turmoil subsided a bit and the hurricanes failed to appear as advertised, oil prices collapsed. All this of course is perfectly true, but is only part of the story.
Largely unnoticed was the underlying supply and demand situation, and a new factor: oil affordability. The final returns won't be in for several months, but it is beginning to look as if world oil production stayed about the same or increased insignificantly during 2006. Consumption in China, Russia, and the Gulf oil states increased while staying about the same in the industrialized states of North America, Europe and Asia.
With flat production and steady or increasing consumption in those countries that publish detailed reports, something had to give or else we would be seeing considerably higher oil prices. The give came in the underdeveloped world where $20 or $30 oil was affordable for generating electricity, running pumps, and for cooking, but $60 or $70 per barrel oil was not. Again, the returns are not in yet, but anecdotal evidence is accumulating that many parts of Africa, Central America, and Asia are starting to shut down. For these peoples, the oil age, such as it was, is already over. There is little to look forward to for a long, long time.
Nearly every aspect of the various Middle Eastern political conflicts deteriorated further during 2006. From the peak oil perspective 1.5 million barrels a day of Iraqi oil exports appear to be the most precarious, but what ever falls out of Iran's nuclear ambitions are a close second. A general conflagration occasioned by the collapse of the Iraqi government or renewed Arab-Israeli fighting are well with in the realm of possibility for the near future. The insurgency in Nigeria is picking up steam and there will be either a presidential election or civil war there next year. The prospects for a large percentage of the world's petroleum exports sure did not get any better in 2006.'

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Klimaatverandering 69

'EU to Urge "New Industrial Revolution" in Energy.
By Marcin Grajewski

Brussels - The European Commission will call next week for "a new industrial revolution" in the energy sector to boost competition, protect the climate and ensure security of supply, a draft paper from the EU executive showed.
The draft strategy proposals, obtained by Reuters on Thursday before publication on Jan. 10, call for cutting carbon dioxide emissions further, increasing energy from renewable sources and curtailing the powers of large energy companies.
The draft lacks crucial details as the European Union's executive Commission is divided over the scope of liberalisation and where to set various targets, a Commission source said.
The EU's priority should be to combat climate change, promote jobs and economic growth and reduce the bloc's reliance on energy imports, the draft said.
"This means transforming Europe into a highly efficient and low CO2 energy economy by catalysing a new industrial revolution, accelerating the change to low carbon growth and, over the period of years, dramatically increasing the amount of local, low emission energy," it said.
The draft confirmed previous reports that the Commission would propose two options for reducing the might of big European utilities, rather than draw up new legislation.
The more radical option, which sources say is opposed by France and Germany, would break up companies that own power stations and distribution grids such as E.ON or RWE in Germany and France's EDF.
The second option would create "a full Independent System Operator, where the vertically integrated company remains owner of the network assets and receives a regulated return on them, but is not responsible for their operations".
New Emission Targets
Commission sources said Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes and Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson had pushed hardest for liberalisation of the sector while Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen and Transport Commissioner Jacques Barrot, who are German and French respectively, opposed radical changes.
The draft leaves blank spaces for the targets for cutting greenhouse gas emissions, which are widely blamed for global warming, and for raising renewable energy production.
Senior Commission officials discussed those details on Thursday and are due to meet again on Monday before the full Commission meeting on Jan. 10.'

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vrijdag 5 januari 2007

The Empire 118

'2006 Top Green Tech Ideas

By Kelpie Wilson t r u t h o u t Columnist
Friday 05 January 2007

In 2005, Americans woke up to the reality of peak oil, the predicament first described by geologist M.K. Hubbert in which world oil production would reach a peak, followed by an inevitable decline. Three things worked together to set off the alarm.
First was a steep rise in gas prices. Although gas prices had risen before, they had always been followed by a drop as production rose to meet demand. 2005 was different, because respected oil analysts such as Kenneth Deffeyes and Matt Simmons spoke up to tell us that not only were the super giant oil fields of the Middle East slowly petering out, but the pace of new oil discoveries was down as well.
What finally opened many eyes to the likelihood of peak oil was the growing realization that the Bush administration's invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with WMDs or the war on terrorism. And if it wasn't about those two things, then why else would oilmen Bush and Cheney have conned us into the Iraq adventure? It had to be because they were desperate to control one of the last places in the world where cheap oil could be had.
With the rise in peak oil awareness came a desperate search for a silver-bullet solution - proponents of nuclear power, ethanol, coal, tar sands and oil shale all argued that these energy sources would fill the gap left by declining oil reserves and keep the American way of life intact. Too many people, deep down, agreed with Dick Cheney's assertion that the American way of life was "not negotiable."
But there is no negotiating with a hurricane, either. Hurricane Katrina, whipped into ferocious strength by a warming ocean, convinced many that the warnings about global climate change were to be taken seriously. And taking climate change seriously means that tar sands, oil shale and coal are off the table as solutions to the energy crisis, because these fuels are all far more carbon-heavy than the crude oil we currently rely on.
So in 2006, we started seeing more attention to the two paths that can lead us forward: energy efficiency and renewable energy. As Democrats take over Congress in 2007, promising action on energy and climate change, it is important to look critically at the available options. The news about climate change looks grimmer every day, alerting us to the fact that we have no time to waste and we can't afford to invest precious resources in false technology promises and energy dead-ends.
Fortunately, a lot of brilliant minds are at work on these problems, and a number of good ideas have surfaced in 2006 that are worth further investigation. Below I list five technologies that seem especially promising. I'll be keeping an eye on these technologies to see where they go in 2007.'

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World Watch Institute

En terwijl miljarden worden gespendeerd aan oorlog en bewapening wordt de wereld geconfronteerd met een klimaatverandering en een groeiende kloof tussen arm en rijk.

Ik kreeg net dit email van het World Watch Institute:

'Happy New Year from the Worldwatch Institute!
Thanks for your support in 2006! We look forward to working together toward a sustainable world in 2007 and beyond.

2007: It's Getting Hotter...Now What?
Looking for something to do now that scientists are predicting that 2007 might be the hottest year ever? Let your friends know about the report, American Energy: The Renewable Path to Energy Security, and visit to learn more about the potential of renewable energy technologies to power the United States, the world's largest guzzler of climate-altering fossil fuels.

Next Week: State of the World 2007 Release and Web Chat
In 2008, half of the Earth's population will live in urban areas, marking the first time in history that humans are an urban species. State of the World 2007: Our Urban Future, released on January 10, will explore the myriad ways urbanization is affecting our lives and the global environment--with a special focus on the ideas that can make our cities more environmentally sustainable, healthy places to live.
Join Project Director Molly O'Meara Sheehan for a Web chat next Thursday, January 11, at 2pm EST to discuss the findings. Submit your questions now!

Worldwatch Institute - 1776 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036 Tel 202.452.1999 - Fax 202.296.7365 - .

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Amerikaanse Oorlogsmisdaden 36

Abbas hopes to expand his forces from 3,700 to 4,700 in 12 to 18 months.

Net al in Irak is de Amerikaanse regering druk doende een burgeroorlog in Palestina te veroorzaken. De Nederlandse regering steunt deze extremistische politiek.

Al Jazeera bericht:

'US funds Fatah force expansion.

The Bush administration will provide $86.4 million to strengthen security forces loyal to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, as part of a plan to expand US involvement in Abbas's power struggle with Hamas.

Fighting between Abbas's Fatah faction and Hamas, the ruling Islamist group, has surged since talks on forming a unity government collapsed and Abbas called for early parliamentary and presidential elections.
Hamas accuses Abbas of mounting a coup.

A US government document said on Friday: "The US money will be used to "assist the Palestinian Authority presidency in fulfilling its commitments under the road map (peace plan) to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism and establish law and order in the West Bank and Gaza."

The document said Lieutenant-General Keith Dayton, the US security co-ordinator between Israel and the Palestinians, would implement the million-dollar programme "to strengthen and reform elements of the Palestinian security sector controlled by the PA presidency".

The US money will provide Abbas's presidential guard with training and non-lethal equipment, including vehicles and uniforms, people familiar with the US security plan said.

Israeli officials said Washington had already helped organise shipments of guns and ammunition to the presidential guard from Egypt and Jordan, and that the latest shipment was made last week. Clashes between armed units loyal to Hamas and Fatah have increased in recent days.

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The Empire 117

Degenen met de werkelijke macht in de VS schoven deze B-filmster en reclameman Ronald Reagan als president naar voren. Hoe zijn wereld eruit zag leest u in dit bericht van de New York Daily News. Het toont opnieuw aan dat een rijk nooit democratisch bestuurd kan worden en dat het recht onderworpen is aan de ware macht.
'G-men were used to quell justice's critics.

Buried in the 1,500 pages of FBI files the federal government released last week on former Supreme Court Chief Justice William Rehnquist are three astonishing memos.
They have have nothing to do with Rehnquist's personal addiction to prescription drugs - as do most of the files the government released.
Instead, they reveal how top federal officials abused their powers, intimidated critics and hid important information from public view for decades.
The memos involve three separate telephone conversations on the afternoon of July 30, 1986, between FBI agents and key members of the Justice Department.
That same week, the Senate Judiciary Committee had begun hearings on President Ronald Reagan's nomination of Rehnquist as chief justice.
Several people opposed to the nomination were expected to give damaging testimony about Rehnquist in the coming days. All would say that during the 1960s they witnessed Rehnquist, then a young Republican Party lawyer in Arizona and head of the party's "Ballot Security Program," trying to prevent blacks and Hispanics from voting.
Their accusations directly contradicted statements Rehnquist had given the Senate during his first confirmation hearing for the court in 1971.
"In none of those years did I personally engage in challenging the qualifications of any voters," he had said then.
In his 1986 hearing, Rehnquist was more equivocal about his Election Day activities. He had only provided legal advice to Republicans assigned to challenge Arizona voters, he said.
"I don't recall," he said several times when asked if he'd ever challenged any voter himself.
But with several individuals about to step forward to publicly question his truthfulness, top Justice Department officials were worried.
Together with South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond, then the Republican chairman of the committee, they wanted the FBI to find out exactly what those witnesses were going to say.
"Thurmond will not let anyone testify without prior interview by the FBI," one memo quotes Deputy Assistant Attorney General Michael Carvin as telling his FBI counterparts.
But some FBI officials resisted being drafted for partisan detective work.
Carvin then put Assistant Attorney General John Bolton on the phone. Bolton, who recently resigned as UN ambassador, was in charge back then of shepherding Reagan White House appointments through Congress.
He had obtained the list of witnesses from Thurmond and forwarded them to the FBI.
Bolton ordered the agents to go ahead with the interviews and said he "would accept responsibility should concerns be raised about the role of the FBI," according to one memo.
Alexander Charns is the North Carolina lawyer who obtained the Rehnquist files after a long Freedom of Information battle.
"They are heavily censored, and large chunks are not visible," said Charns, who wrote a book, "Cloak and Gavel," about the Supreme Court and the FBI. "And what I received is only a small portion of the entire file."
Only now do the rest of us finally get a glimpse of how the Nixon and Reagan administrations fought to hide the secrets of their man on the Supreme Court.
Originally published on January 5, 2007'

Irak 151

Zou premier Balkenende het ophangen van Saddam Hoessein nog steeds toejuichen? Misschien moet de Nederlandse parlementaire pers dit eens aan hem vragen. Politici die weten waarover ze het hebben zijn intussen 'ontzet' over de beelden.

De Guardian bericht:

'Cairo Dismayed at "Primitive" Saddam Death.

Saddam Hussein was made into "a martyr" by the manner of his execution, the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak, warned today, saying he had urged Washington not to hang him during the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha.
In an interview with an Israeli newspaper, Mr Mubarak said that when it became clear the former Iraqi dictator was about to be hanged he sent a message to president George Bush asking to get it postponed. "Don't do it at this time," Mr Mubarak told the US leader, he recounted in an interview with the Yediot Ahronot newspaper.
"Why is it necessary to hang (him) just at the time when people are saying the holiday prayers?"
Mr Mubarak, who was interviewed at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm El-Sheik ahead of a meeting there with the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, who also condemned the manner in which Saddam was put to death.
Footage shot on a mobile phone camera, which appeared on television and websites just hours after Saddam was hanged on Saturday, showed him facing sectarian taunts from hooded guards before he was placed in the noose.
Mr Mubarak labelled the video footage of Saddam's death as "shocking pictures, primitive pictures," adding, "It was disgraceful and very painful".
"I'm not going to say whether Saddam deserved the death penalty or not," Mr Mubarak said. "I'm also not going to go into the question of whether that court is legal under the occupation.? "When all's said and done, nobody will ever forget the circumstances and the manner in which Saddam was executed. They have made him into a martyr, while the problems within Iraq remain."
Egypt is a key US ally in the Middle East, and has signed a peace deal with Israel. However, it also had friendly relations with Saddam's regime before his invasion of Kuwait in 1990.
The manner of Saddam's execution has been condemned around the world, with Mr Bush admitting he "wished proceedings had gone in a more dignified way".
Tony Blair, who was on holiday when Saddam was hanged, has yet to comment. His deputy, John Prescott, labelled the way it was carried out as "deplorable".'
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Israelisch Expansionisme 37

Galilee October 1948, Ethnically Cleansed Palestinians on their way to Lebanon.

Electronic Intifada:

With the New Year, will Ha'aretz's op-ed page be any
different? By Zachary Wales.

On New Year's Day, notions of resolve, reform, or reflection come as no surprise on newspaper editorial pages. Similarly unsurprising are the op-eders that carry on with business as usual. Things were no different on Ha'aretz's opinion page, which kept an even keel of New Yearisms. Rather untypical, however, was the limited role that honesty played in the mix. The most curious example was the lead editorial, -- often viewed as any paper's mouthpiece -- entitled, "Our obligation to refugees, as refugees." One might guess that it covered the subject of Palestinian refugees, a conundrum that has crippled every "peace process" since Israel's creation in 1948. Subsequent to the expulsion of some 800,000 Palestinians during that period, Israeli perceptions of the refugee problem back then led almost directly to the state's claim as an inclusive democracy now. To prevent the imminent return of refugees, Israel gave the remaining Palestinian population (then about 150,000 and now about 1.4 million) Israeli ID cards, thus creating the minority known as the "Israeli Arabs." A cynical interpretation is that ID cards back then served the purpose that fences and walls serve now: demographic control. More cynical still is the extent to which Israel is an inclusive democracy -- take the state-sanctioned Arab-Jew segregation in public schools, service distribution, housing rights, and just about everything else. Even the country's political establishment left considers "a state for all citizens" treasonous words. But let us not stray too far. "Our obligation to refugees, as refugees" was concerned with the 300 Sudanese refugees who were recently denied amnesty in Israel. For a citizenry that swallows a daily existence as segregated, racialized, discriminatory, administratively unfair, and internationally outlawed, Sudan is a digestible, understandable distraction. It is also a liberal cause, perhaps as much so as Liberia was to all those well-meaning Confederates in 1847. Almost any country, particularly your correspondent's, can ignore its domestic qualms and purport to "do something" about Sudan. The hitch, however, is self-awareness, and this is where Ha'aretz gives its intentions away. The piece tactfully ignores the Palestinian refugee problem while examining how "dulling the senses has overtaken Israeli society," vis-à-vis the Sudanese refugees and the Jewish refugees (later to become colonizers) who fled European anti-Semitism. Influential Israeli scholars have also adopted this tone. "As members of the Jewish people, for whom the memory of the Holocaust burns, we cannot stand by as refugees from the genocide in Darfur hammer on our doors," Avner Shalev, chairman of Yad Vashem, Israel's Holocaust museum, told The Christian Science Monitor on Tuesday. Meanwhile, Israeli human rights groups plan demonstrations for next Monday outside of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's residence. It would seem that Ha'aretz, which has repeatedly demonstrated a critical lens on Israel's political ironies, would grant at least a token acknowledgement to this one, especially as it calls on Israel to "open its gates, and also its heart, to the refugees." References to Palestinian refugees, even in the most minimal sense, are nowhere to be found. It is as if for a moment, one of the most salient topics of Israeli politics leaves the editorial conscience. Then readers are asked to remember the Jewish refugee narrative in isolation from that of the Palestinians, although the two are inseparable. One can only ask, is this editorial about Sudanese refugees in the first place? Or is it about overwriting the historical conscience? Such exercises are the things of Israeli "birthright tours," not newspaper editorials.'

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donderdag 4 januari 2007

Boycot Israel 4

Amnesty International's secretary-general, Irene Khan, visits the gate of Ras Atja in Israel's separation fence in the West Bank near Qalqilia.

Electronic Intifada:

'Why an academic boycott of Israel is necessary.
Let me begin by stating that any successful academic boycott imposed upon Israeli institutions of higher education will assuredly have an impact on the academic freedom of Israeli scholars and teachers, at least in terms of its expression beyond their national borders. Is this acceptable? After all, other teachers and scholars who obviously have a stake in academic freedom, will have to cooperate with the boycott if it is to have an impact. As one of those academics, my answer to this question is that it is not only acceptable but absolutely necessary -- and for the following reasons:1. Academic freedom is an ideal, and ideals if they are to be responsibly adhered to, must be judged against their consequences in real life situations. One of the major real life situations we are dealing with here is the fact that Israeli academic institutions and personnel have been intimately involved for nearly 40 years in their country's systematic destruction of Palestinian educational endeavors (and thus Palestinian academic freedom) within the Occupied Territories. And even longer, if less dramatically, as regards the Arab-Israeli community within Israel proper. The vast majority of Israel academics have either been silent, or active participants in this process. The passive aspect of this complicity with the occupation has been commented upon by Tanya Reinhart, formerly a professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University. She tells us that "Never in its history did the senate of a any Israeli university pass a resolution protesting the frequent closure of Palestinian universities, let alone voice protest over the devastation sowed there [in the OT]....It is not that a motion in that direction failed to gather a majority, there was no such motion anywhere in Israeli academia." And then there is Professor Ilan Pappe of Haifa University, who estimates that the number of Israeli academics who have "raised their voices against occupation" is "roughly 100 out of 9000." And many of these, like Pappe himself, are subject to harassment by university administrators and social ostracization by their peers. In terms of active collaboration with the occupation the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel has noted that "Israeli research institutes, think tanks and academic departments have historically granted legitimacy to the work of academics who advocate ethnic cleansing, apartheid, denial of refugee rights, and other discriminatory policies....Collaboration and cooperation with the intelligence services, the army, and other agencies of the occupation regime is part of the routine work of the Israeli academy."Thus, with the passive or active assistance of the vast majority of Israeli professorate, Palestinian education at all levels in the Occupied Territory is often brought to a near standstill by closures and roadblocks while its teachers, students, and physical structures suffer repeated assaults by Israeli military and settler paramilitary forces. All of this is documented at, among other places, Birzeit University's Right2Education website.'

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Irak 150

The Jewish Daily Forward bericht:

'Israeli Experts Say Middle East Was Safer With Saddam in Iraq.

Jerusalem - Although few tears were shed in Israel over Saddam Hussein’s death last week, a small but growing chorus — including government officials, academics and Iraqi émigrés — is warning that Israel could find itself in more danger with him gone, and that it might even regret having welcomed his toppling.
“If I knew then what I know today, I would not have recommended going to war, because Saddam was far less dangerous than I thought,” said Haifa University political scientist Amatzia Baram, one of Israel’s leading Iraq experts.
Saddam was feared and reviled in Israel, both as a tyrant and as an enemy of the Jewish state. He demonstratively supported Palestinian terrorists, and few have forgiven his bombarding of Israel with Scud missiles during the 1991 Gulf War.
“Retrospectively, justice has been done,” Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh told Israel Radio this week. Still, he cautioned, Israel must now be concerned “about what is liable to happen in the future.”
Saddam’s death, Sneh warned, could lead to “a reinforcement of Iranian influence in Iraq.” He said that Iraq had turned into a “volcano of terror” following the war, with “destructive energies” that could spill over into Jordan and Israel.
Such misgivings, though rarely aired publicly for fear of offending Washington, reach high into Israel’s security establishment. Yuval Diskin, director of the Shin Bet security service, told a group of students in a military preparatory program last May that Israel might come to regret its support for the American-led invasion in March 2003.
“When you dismantle a system in which there is a despot who controls his people by force, you have chaos,” Diskin said, unaware that the meeting was secretly recorded. “I’m not sure we won’t miss Saddam.” The tape was later broadcast on Israeli television.
Although Iraq was long feared as a formidable enemy of the Jewish state, on the eve of the invasion it was poor and powerless. Palaces across the country were made of cheap plaster. Nuclear and biological weapons seen as threats by the Bush administration were nonexistent.
Baram, the Iraq expert, said that before the war started, he advised American officials of problems they might face afterward. What he did not anticipate, he said, was the scale of terrorism that would spread across the country, calling it “much, much more than I expected.”
Since the invasion, chaos has swept Iraq. Terrorist bombs in public places, sectarian attacks between Shi’ites and Sunnis, and ordinary criminal violence kill tens of people daily. One study estimates that some 650,000 Iraqis have died violently since the war, killed either by American and allied forces, terrorists or criminals.
Even some of those who suffered directly from Saddam’s brutality told the Forward that in retrospect, Israel was better off with him than without.
Baghdad-born Avraham Eini was a teenager when his father was arrested and tortured by Saddam’s security agents in the 1970s. “He later died of his wounds,” said 54-year-old Eini, who had escaped with his family and settled in Ramat Gan. Two decades later, in 1991, Iraqi Scud missiles fell 200 yards from his house.
Eini said he felt a sense of “revenge and relief” when Saddam was executed last week. Yet, he said, “Israel would be safer today if Saddam stayed in power.”
Saddam and his Ba’athist revolutionary colleagues came to power in 1968, a year after the crushing defeat of Arab armies by Israel in the Six-Day War. Vice president and strongman of the regime, Saddam had an attitude that was decidedly anti-Israel, following Ba’athist ideology and postwar Arab sentiment. One of his first notorious moves was to hang 17 alleged spies, nine of them Jewish.'

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De Nuance van de NRC 12

Mede dankzij het Nederlandse gewelddadig ingrijpen in Afghanistan zijn volgens de NRC ' te veel burgers' gedood. 'Te veel?' Is er dan zoiets als een acceptabel aantal burgerdoden en is dat aantal overschreden? Is er een bepaald quotum gedode dan wel vermoorde burgers dat wij in het 'beschaafde' Westen aanvaardbaar vinden? Wat is dit voor verborgen propaganda?

'''Te veel burgers dood door NAVO.''

Kabul, 4 jan. De NAVO heeft gisteren erkend dat er het afgelopen jaar te veel burgerslachtoffers zijn gevallen bij haar strijd in Afghanistan.
„De grootste fout die we hebben gemaakt [..] is het doden van onschuldige burgers”, zei een woordvoerder van de NAVO-stabilisatiemacht ISAF gisteren in de Afghaanse hoofdstad Kabul.
De NAVO zou al enkele weken werken aan een verandering van tactiek, waardoor burgers minder gevaar zouden lopen. Details over die nieuwe tactiek zijn (nog) niet bekendgemaakt.
Dinsdag, een dag vóór de NAVO-verklaring, had de Afghaanse president Hamid Karzai wederom zijn ongenoegen uitgesproken over de werkwijze van buitenlandse en assisterende Afghaanse strijdkrachten. In een verklaring drukte hij zijn „grote spijt” uit over de dood van twee burgers in de oostelijke provincie Nangarhar, bij een inval door Amerikaanse militairen. Zondag waren er (vreedzame) demonstraties in de provinciehoofdstad Jalalabad tegen het incident, dat werd bevestigd door getuigen en de gouverneur van Nangarhar. Een woordvoerder van de Amerikaanse militairen zei onbekend te zijn met de dood van de burgers.
NAVO-troepen hebben vorig jaar tientallen burgers gedood, vooral bij bombardementen in de zuidelijke provincies, maar ook tijdens vuurgevechten en in gevallen waarbij NAVO-militairen zich bedreigd voelden door burgers, bijvoorbeeld als die niet gehoorzaamden aan orders.
Bij een luchtaanval tijdens operatie Medusa in Kandahar zijn volgens Afghaanse bestuurders afgelopen oktober twintig leden van een familie gedood. De resultaten van het onderzoek waartoe Karzai opdracht had gegeven, en waaraan de NAVO heeft meegewerkt, zijn nooit gepubliceerd. De NAVO-commandanten hebben het rapport tot in detail bestudeerd, aldus de woordvoerder. „Het heeft behoorlijk indruk gemaakt op dit hoofdkwartier.” The New York Times wist onlangs te melden dat volgens het onderzoek 31 burgers zijn omgekomen. (AP)'


Opvallend zijn deze bewoordingen:

1. 'De NAVO zou al enkele weken werken aan een verandering van tactiek, waardoor burgers minder gevaar zouden lopen.
2. Zondag waren er (vreedzame) demonstraties in de provinciehoofdstad Jalalabad tegen het incident...
3. in gevallen waarbij NAVO-militairen zich bedreigd voelden door burgers, bijvoorbeeld als die niet gehoorzaamden aan orders.'

1. Wat bedoelen onze Westerse strijdkrachten met: 'waardoor burgers minder gevaar lopen?' Kennelijk betekende de huidige tactiek dat men geen of op zijn minst onvoldoende rekening hield met Afghaanse burgers en dat ze in de toekomst 'minder gevaar' gaan lopen. Ik zou zeggen dat het geweld dat namens ons in Afghanistan wordt uitgeoefend helemaal geen enkele burgerdode ten gevolge zou moeten hebben. Hoe anders kan men de hearts and minds van de bevolking winnen?
2. Het woord 'incident' is misleidend. Als er iets duidelijk is geworden is dat het nu juist geen incidenten zijn, maar dat er 'te veel burgers' zijn gedood en dat het doodschieten van onschuldigen veelvuldig en zeker te vaak plaatsvindt. 'Incident' is propagandistisch taalgebruik. Waarom houdt de NRC zich niet aan onafhankelijke berichtgeving? Welk belang dient de krant nu?
3. NAVO-militairen, ik ga ervan uit dat daaronder ook Nederlandse militairen zijn, doden zodra ze 'zich bedreigd voelen, bijvoorbeeld als Afghanen niet gehoorzaamden aan orders.' Hoe nu? Spreken alle NAVO-militairen vloeiend Afghaans zodat hun gevoel een goede graadmeter is om burgers te doden? Aangezien de overgrote meerderheid geen Afghaans spreekt en de cultuur nauwelijks kent is de vraag waar hun dodelijk 'gevoel' op gebaseerd is.

Waarom publiceert de NRC een bericht dat meer vragen oproept dan antwoorden geeft? En hoe genunceerd is dit bericht voor de doorsnee NRC-lezer?

Irak 149

Democracy Now:

'AMY GOODMAN: Well, today on Democracy Now!, we're going to continue our coverage of the execution of Saddam Hussein by airing one of the last televised interviews Saddam Hussein did with an American journalist. The interview actually took place in 1992, soon after Desert Storm. It was in Baghdad and was conducted by our colleague here at Downtown Community Television, 15-time Emmy Award-winning journalist Jon Alpert. Until now, this broadcast was never aired in the United States. In a moment, we'll play excerpts. But first, Jon Alpert, welcome back to Democracy Now! Talk about this interview you did with Saddam Hussein.
JON ALPERT: Well, everybody was anxious to find out what he was thinking after the Gulf War. Did he feel that he had made a mistake in invading Kuwait? Was he interested at all in trying to find a path to peace? There didn't really seem to be much going on in the diplomatic front. And we were fortunate enough to get an interview with him, and he used it to talk about the possibilities for peace and how he felt about the war.
AMY GOODMAN: Where did you do the interview?
JON ALPERT: In one of his palaces. It’s really a rather exciting journalistic story. They came knocking on the hotel room door at 10:00 in the morning. And I could tell from the way they were dressed and their serious faces that this was -- these were the people who were going to take me to the interview. And I went to get my camera, because I do my interviews basically from behind the camera, not sitting here like this. And they said, “What are you doing?” I said, “I’m getting my camera.” They said, “You can’t take the camera.” I said, “Well, how can I interview him? You know, I’m not going to do this with colored pencils.” And they said, “Get in the car. If you're not in the car in two minutes, we're leaving you behind.”
And they took us to the palace. We walked in. And immediately, Saddam Hussein appears. And he came up, he shook my hand, took our photograph. I have the souvenir photographs here. And then he disappeared. And I said, “My goodness, I blew it. There's no interview.” And they said, “Just shut up,” and took us down to the basement, where I had my first and only jailhouse search. They inspected parts of me I didn't know I had, then took me to a room, and when they opened the door, there were 200 people sitting in the room. The entire crew from Iraqi Television and all Saddam's officials, hanger-on, translators, and things like that. And I knew eventually I’d be speaking to him. It didn't happen until later on that evening. But then we conducted a one-hour interview.
AMY GOODMAN: Let's go to a clip of this interview.
JON ALPERT: We’re wondering, when the Iraqi army went into Kuwait, did you imagine that the forces were going to strike back against your country as hard as they did?
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] Yes, we imagined this, and we imagined even more than that.
JON ALPERT: This is now your chance to talk directly to the American people. And I’m wondering if you could just make a simple declarative statement about your intentions with chemical weapons and nuclear weapons?
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] If it helps make things clear to the American people, then let me tell you that we are ready and willing to work positively and effectively with all those who are interested to work in this direction to make the region of the Middle East a region free of all weapons of mass destruction.
JON ALPERT: We have a new administration in Washington. Do you think that there is any hope, now that President Bush has gone, that there can be better relations between the United States and your country?
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] We are still willing to discuss new relations with the United States, if the United States is prepared so to do.
JON ALPERT: If President Clinton was sitting here opposite you, what would you like to tell him?
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] When he actually sits in front of me, then I will tell him what I think I will do.
JON ALPERT: And how about if ex-President Bush was here?
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] And it is part of the trait of an Arab and values of an Arab not to fight. It is part of an Arab’s trait to fight only those who are on their horses with their swords drawn. Now that President Bush is neither on his horse nor with a sword drawn, then I don't think that he is in a position to be fought.
JON ALPERT: Basically, the people in the United States have come to the point where they don't trust you.
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] At any rate, whether or not people trust us or not is -- I don't want to comment on that. But I want to say that the American people are going to discover that amongst the first people that are worthy of their trust are people here in Iraq.
JON ALPERT: Many people believe that if, for example, we turn around and we walk away, that you'll be back across the border in Kuwait tomorrow.
SADDAM HUSSEIN: [translated] If only we had the means to reach out to the American people and explain to them how the American administration goaded the Kuwaitis themselves to become part of the conspiracy being woven against us, then the situation and the perception of the American people today would have been different from what it is.'

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Irak 148

Patrick Cockburn schrijft in de Independent:
Saddam: From monster to martyr?
How Bush and Blair's choices have led to disaster in Iraq, culminating in a chaotic execution that is fuelling civil war
It takes real genius to create a martyr out of Saddam Hussein. Here is a man dyed deep with the blood of his own people who refused to fight for him during the United States-led invasion three-and-a-half years ago. His tomb in his home village of Awja is already becoming a place of pilgrimage for the five million Sunni Arabs of Iraq who are at the core of the uprising.
During his trial, Saddam himself was clearly trying to position himself to be a martyr in the cause of Iraqi independence and unity and Arab nationalism. His manifest failure to do anything effective for these causes during the quarter of a century he misruled Iraq should have made his task difficult. But an execution which vied in barbarity with a sectarian lynching in the backstreets of Belfast 30 years ago is elevating him to heroic status in the eyes of the Sunni - the community to which most Arabs belong - across the Middle East.
The old nostrum of Winston Churchill that "grass may grow on the battlefield but never under the gallows" is likely to prove as true in Iraq as it has done so frequently in the rest of the world. Nor is the US likely to be successful in claiming that the execution was purely an Iraqi affair.
Many Iraqis recall that the announcement of the verdict on Saddam sentencing him to death was conveniently switched last year to 5 November, the last daily news cycle before the US mid-term elections. The US largely orchestrated the trial from behind the scenes. Yesterday the Iraqi government arrested an official who supervised the execution for making the mobile-phone video that has stirred so much controversy.
The Iraqi Shia and Kurds are overwhelmingly delighted that Saddam is in his grave. But the timing of his death at the start of the Eid al-Adha feast makes his killing appear like a deliberate affront to the Sunni community. The execution of his half-brother Barzan in the next few days will confirm it in its sense that it is the target of an assault by the majority Shia.
Why was the Iraqi government of Nouri al-Maliki so keen to kill Saddam Hussein? First, there is the entirely understandable desire for revenge. Members of the old opposition to Saddam Hussein are often blamed for their past ineffectiveness but most lost family members to his torture chambers and execution squads. Every family in Iraq lost a member to his disastrous wars or his savage repressions.
There is also a fear among Shia leaders that the US might suddenly change sides. This is not as outlandish as it might at first appear. The US has been cultivating the Sunni in Iraq for the past 18 months. It has sought talks with the insurgents. It has tried to reverse the de-Baathification campaign. US commentators and politicians blithely talk about eliminating the anti-American Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr and fighting his militia, the Mehdi Army. No wonder Shias feel that it is better to get Saddam under the ground just as quickly as possible. Americans may have forgotten that they were once allied to him but Iraqis have not.'

woensdag 3 januari 2007

Robert Fisk 22

Arminius wees me op het volgende artikel van Robert Fisk:

'Robert Fisk: He takes his secrets to the grave. Our complicity dies with him.
How the West armed Saddam, fed him intelligence on his 'enemies', equipped him for atrocities - and then made sure he wouldn't squeal.

Published: 31 December 2006.

We've shut him up. The moment Saddam's hooded executioner pulled the lever of the trapdoor in Baghdad yesterday morning, Washington's secrets were safe. The shameless, outrageous, covert military support which the United States - and Britain - gave to Saddam for more than a decade remains the one terrible story which our presidents and prime ministers do not want the world to remember. And now Saddam, who knew the full extent of that Western support - given to him while he was perpetrating some of the worst atrocities since the Second World War - is dead.
Gone is the man who personally received the CIA's help in destroying the Iraqi communist party. After Saddam seized power, US intelligence gave his minions the home addresses of communists in Baghdad and other cities in an effort to destroy the Soviet Union's influence in Iraq. Saddam's mukhabarat visited every home, arrested the occupants and their families, and butchered the lot. Public hanging was for plotters; the communists, their wives and children, were given special treatment - extreme torture before execution at Abu Ghraib.
There is growing evidence across the Arab world that Saddam held a series of meetings with senior American officials prior to his invasion of Iran in 1980 - both he and the US administration believed that the Islamic Republic would collapse if Saddam sent his legions across the border - and the Pentagon was instructed to assist Iraq's military machine by providing intelligence on the Iranian order of battle. One frosty day in 1987, not far from Cologne, I met the German arms dealer who initiated those first direct contacts between Washington and Baghdad - at America's request.
"Mr Fisk... at the very beginning of the war, in September of 1980, I was invited to go to the Pentagon," he said. "There I was handed the very latest US satellite photographs of the Iranian front lines. You could see everything on the pictures. There were the Iranian gun emplacements in Abadan and behind Khorramshahr, the lines of trenches on the eastern side of the Karun river, the tank revetments - thousands of them - all the way up the Iranian side of the border towards Kurdistan. No army could want more than this. And I travelled with these maps from Washington by air to Frankfurt and from Frankfurt on Iraqi Airways straight to Baghdad. The Iraqis were very, very grateful!"
I was with Saddam's forward commandos at the time, under Iranian shellfire, noting how the Iraqi forces aligned their artillery positions far back from the battle front with detailed maps of the Iranian lines. Their shelling against Iran outside Basra allowed the first Iraqi tanks to cross the Karun within a week. The commander of that tank unit cheerfully refused to tell me how he had managed to choose the one river crossing undefended by Iranian armour. Two years ago, we met again, in Amman and his junior officers called him "General" - the rank awarded him by Saddam after that tank attack east of Basra, courtesy of Washington's intelligence information.
Iran's official history of the eight-year war with Iraq states that Saddam first used chemical weapons against it on 13 January 1981. AP's correspondent in Baghdad, Mohamed Salaam, was taken to see the scene of an Iraqi military victory east of Basra. "We started counting - we walked miles and miles in this fucking desert, just counting," he said. "We got to 700 and got muddled and had to start counting again ... The Iraqis had used, for the first time, a combination - the nerve gas would paralyse their bodies ... the mustard gas would drown them in their own lungs. That's why they spat blood."
At the time, the Iranians claimed that this terrible cocktail had been given to Saddam by the US. Washington denied this. But the Iranians were right. The lengthy negotiations which led to America's complicity in this atrocity remain secret - Donald Rumsfeld was one of President Ronald Reagan's point-men at this period - although Saddam undoubtedly knew every detail. But a largely unreported document, "United States Chemical and Biological Warfare-related Dual-use exports to Iraq and their possible impact on the Health Consequences of the Persian Gulf War", stated that prior to 1985 and afterwards, US companies had sent government-approved shipments of biological agents to Iraq. These included Bacillus anthracis, which produces anthrax, andEscherichia coli (E. coli). That Senate report concluded that: "The United States provided the Government of Iraq with 'dual use' licensed materials which assisted in the development of Iraqi chemical, biological and missile-systems programs, including ... chemical warfare agent production facility plant and technical drawings, chemical warfare filling equipment."'

Iran 73

'President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Tuesday that the World Arrogance and the bullying powers will spiral downward in their confrontation with Iranian nation.

Address a large public gathering, he said that certain bullying powers cherish a dream that they can drive the Iranian nation out of the scene with hue and cry, but, to no avail.
President Ahmadinejad said that the Iranian nation has become further resolute in reacting to the threats of the bullying powers, a reference to UN Security Council Resolution 1737.
"Leaders of US and the UK are unable to respond to questions brought up by their own people and have resorted to escalating war and bloodshed in the international community to divert public opinion of their own nations from their domestic shortfalls," he said.
He said that the US and UK governments have imposed heavy expense on their own nations by going to war.
"Respect for other nations rights is the only way to salvation.
"You should accept that you are subject to downfall and the way you opted for will not bring salvation to you." On Iraq, President Ahmadinejad said, "We advised you so far to end occupation, but, you did not listen. Currently, you are entangled in quagmire and you have no way out.
"You have been entrapped in Iraq and even Saddam's execution will not give you a prestige. The nations in the region are fed up with US and UK leaders." Elsewhere, President Ahmadinejad said that Iranian enemies think that they can thwart Iran's development by resorting to resolution at the United Nations, but, Iranian children will go ahead with progress to the dismay of the US and UK.'


De Israelische Terreur 140

George Bisharat ( is a professor of law at University of California Hastings College of the Law. He writes frequently on law and politics in the Middle East.

Truth at last, while breaking a U.S. taboo of criticizing Israel.
By George Bisharat.

Americans owe a debt to former President Jimmy Carter for speaking long hidden but vital truths. His book Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid breaks the taboo barring criticism in the United States of Israel's discriminatory treatment of Palestinians. Our government's tacit acceptance of Israel's unfair policies causes global hostility against us.
Israel's friends have attacked Carter, a Nobel laureate who has worked tirelessly for Middle East peace, even raising the specter of anti-Semitism. Genuine anti-Semitism is abhorrent. But exploiting the term to quash legitimate criticism of another system of racial oppression, and to tarnish a principled man, is indefensible. Criticizing Israeli government policies - a staple in Israeli newspapers - is no more anti-Semitic than criticizing the Bush administration is anti-American.
The word apartheid typically evokes images of former South Africa, but it also refers to any institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over another. Carter applies the term only to Israel's rule of the occupied Palestinian territories, where it has established more than 200 Jewish-only settlements and a network of roads and other services to support them. These settlements violate international law and the rights of Palestinian property owners. Carter maintains that "greed for land," not racism, fuels Israel's settlement drive. He is only partially right.
Israel is seizing land and water from Palestinians for Jews. Resources are being transferred, under the guns of Israel's military occupation, from one disempowered group - Palestinian Christians and Muslims - to another, preferred group - Jews. That is racism, pure and simple.
Moreover, there is abundant evidence that Israel discriminates against Palestinians elsewhere. The "Israeli Arabs" - about 1.4 million Palestinian Christian and Muslim citizens who live in Israel - vote in elections. But they are a subordinated and marginalized minority. The Star of David on Israel's flag symbolically tells Palestinian citizens: "You do not belong." Israel's Law of Return grants rights of automatic citizenship to Jews anywhere in the world, while those rights are denied to 750,000 Palestinian refugees who were forced or fled in fear from their homes in what became Israel in 1948.
Israel's Basic Law of Human Dignity and Liberty establishes the state as a "Jewish democracy" although 24 percent of the population is non-Jewish. Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, counted 20 laws that explicitly privilege Jews over non-Jews.
The government favors Jews over Palestinians in the allocation of resources. Palestinian children in Israel attend "separate and unequal" schools that receive a fraction of the funding awarded to Jewish schools, according to Human Rights Watch. Many Palestinian villages, some predating the establishment of Israel, are unrecognized by the government, do not appear on maps, and thus receive no running water, electricity, or access roads. Since 1948, scores of new communities have been founded for Jews, but none for Palestinians, causing them severe residential overcrowding.'

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Irak 147

'Saddam Hussein Hanged for the Wrong Reason.

Gwynne Dyer, Arab News.

It was not the Iraqi government but its American masters that chose to execute Saddam Hussein in a great rush as soon as the first sentence was confirmed, thus canceling all the other trials on far graver charges that awaited him. The current Iraqi government had nothing to hide if those trials went ahead; the United States government did.
Cast your mind back to the US invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Washington’s pretext for war then was Iraq’s alleged weapons of mass destruction, with barely a word about bringing democracy to the downtrodden Iraqi people. But in order to persuade us that Saddam’s WMD were a threat to the whole world, we were told a lot about how wicked he was, how he had even “gassed his own people.”
Well, there weren’t any weapons of mass destruction, so now the script has been changed to say that the war was about bringing democracy to Iraq. But that still requires Saddam Hussein to be a monstrous villain (which he certainly was), and it needs some dramatic supporting stories about how he abused his own people, like his poison gas attacks on rebel Kurds in 1988. So let’s try him for the slaughter of the Kurds in 1988, and then we’ll hang him.
Fair enough, and the trial for the gassing of the Kurds actually got started a couple of months ago. Other trials, for his savage repression of the Kurdish revolt in 1988 and the Shiite revolt in 1991, were already scheduled to happen in the New Year. But none of that came to pass. All the other trials have been cancelled, and they actually hanged Saddam for the judicial murder of 144 villagers in the town of Dujail who were allegedly involved in a plot to kill him in 1982.
Dujail? Here is a man who began his career in power in the late 1960s by exterminating the entire (mostly Shia) leadership of the Communist party in Iraq, went on to launch an invasion of Iran in 1980 that cost up to half a million lives, massacred his own Kurdish population in 1987-88 when some of their leaders sided with the Iranians, invaded Kuwait in 1990, and massacred Iraqi Shiites in 1991 when they rebelled against his rule at the end of that war. And they hanged him for Dujail?'

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Irak 146

'Short video explains the CIA's role in Saddams rise to power.'


De Dollar Hegemonie 23

'Dollar Dethroned By Red Ink.
Paul Craig Roberts.

Will Congress allow President Bush to waste another year on his Iraq misadventure while serious problems overwhelm the United States? During 2006 while the US government focused on the deteriorating situation in Iraq, the US dollar declined sharply against many currencies. By December China’s central bank was expressing its concern that the massive US trade deficit could lead to a run on the dollar and to an international financial crisis. Since WW II the US dollar has been the world’s reserve currency, the currency in which oil is billed and international trade accounts are settled. The low US saving rate means that Washington’s budget deficits must be financed by foreign lenders, who are awash in US Treasury bonds. The massive US trade deficit means that foreigners acquire US assets as payment for US consumption of goods made abroad. Foreigners are worried about their large dollar holdings, because there is no indication that the US can reduce either deficit. The war against Iraq has run up the US budget deficit, and the practice of US corporations of producing offshore for their US markets has increased the US trade deficit. Every time a US company moves its production abroad, domestic output is turned into imports. China has indicated that it will continue to accumulate dollars, but at a slower rate by trading some of the dollars for other currencies. On December 18 Iran announced that it will cease to use the US dollar as reserve currency. On December 28 United Arab Emirates, a close US ally, announced that the weakening US dollar has caused its central bank to move some of its foreign exchange reserves from dollars to Euros. The decisions of foreign central banks to reduce the rate at which they acquire dollars implies higher US interest rates at a time when the US economy is slowing, making it difficult for the Federal Reserve to ease monetary policy and more expensive for the US to borrow. If foreigners take the next step and begin dumping their dollar holdings, there is nothing the US government can do to avert the catastrophe. Washington must take steps before it is too late. The only timely solution is to reduce the US budget deficit. This requires Congress to cut spending or raise taxes or both. Raising taxes on a weakening economy is not a good idea. As entitlements (Social Security and Medicare) comprise most of nondefense spending, the easiest step for Congress to take is to stop funding Bush’s pointless war. With less red ink to be financed, there would be less pressure on the dollar. It is possible that Washington has waited too long to address the dollar problem. If 2007 brings recession to the US, the rise in the budget deficit from the loss of tax revenues could offset deficit reduction achieved by ending the war. Many economists offer false solutions. We hear, for example, that a weaker dollar will lead to more exports and a reduction in the US trade deficit. This “solution” overlooks the impact of offshoring. With so many US brand name manufactures now produced offshore, there is less for the US to export. Some economists still believe that the gap can be filled by the export of services, but offshoring has also taken its toll on professional services. The US cannot simultaneously offshore the production of goods and services and reduce its trade deficit. Other economists still think that the Federal Reserve can rescue the dollar by raising interest rates, thus making US Treasuries more attractive to foreigners. However, the US economy shows many signs of weakening. By stifling growth or provoking recession, higher interest rates can simply generate more red ink that must be financed by foreign borrowing, thus increasing the pressure on the dollar. The US cannot afford the Iraq war, and it cannot afford the distraction from the serious economic problems that a war-obsessed government has permitted to accumulate. Offshoring is destroying the ladders of upward mobility that made America an opportunity society.'

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Irak 145

'''Illegal'' Execution Enrages Arabs By Dahr Jamail and Ali Al-Fadhily.

The execution of former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein carried out at the start of the Muslim festival Eid al-Adha has angered Iraqis and others across the Middle East.* Saddam Hussein was hanged on what is held to be a day of mercy and feasting in the Islamic world. It is usually celebrated with the slaughter of a lamb, which represents the innocent blood of Ishmael, who was sacrificed by his father, the prophet Abraham, to honour God. Judge Rizgar Mohammed Amin, the Kurdish judge who had first presided over Saddam Hussein's trial told reporters that the execution at the beginning of Eid was illegal under Iraqi law, besides violating the customs of Islam. Amin said that under Iraqi law "no verdict should be implemented during the official holidays or religious festivals." While Iraqi Shias, particularly those in the U.S.-backed Iraqi government, view the execution as a sign that Allah supports them, many Sunnis across Iraq and the Middle East now see Saddam Hussein as a great martyr. "Saddam Hussein is the greatest martyr of the century," Ahmed Hanousy, a student in Amman in Jordan told IPS. A 50 year-old man in Baghdad said "the Americans and Iranians meant to insult all Arabs by this execution." Others see the execution in all sorts of ways. Sabriya Salih, a 55-year-old man from Baghdad who was evicted from his home by Shia death squads told IPS "I am happy for this end. I have too much to worry about now, but look what a holy death Saddam received." Salih paused and added: "He died at the holiest moments of the year with pilgrims just finishing their pilgrimage ceremonies hailing "Allahu Akbar" (God is greatest) as if God meant to give him that glory." In official expression of anger, Libya denounced the timing of the execution and announced three days of official mourning. Eid celebrations were cancelled. The government of Saudi Arabia also condemned the timing of the execution. Many Iraqis said they were disturbed by the footage just before the execution. "They surprised us by showing the video," 40-year-old Um Sammy told IPS in Baghdad. "I was busy preparing sweets for my guests when I heard my little kids crying in terror. All the children were terrified." A nine-year-old girl from Fallujah who is a refugee in Baghdad said she cried when she saw the footage on television. "Why did they do it in Eid? Why did they put it on TV to scare us?" Later, shots of the execution taken by a witness from a mobile phone showed Saddam being taunted by his executioners in his final moments. The video has exacerbated tensions between Sunnis and Shias, who follow Islam in different ways. First broadcast by al-Jazeera Sunday, the shots recorded someone praising Muhammad Bakr al-Sadr. Al-Sadr, founder of the Shia Dawa party and an uncle of Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr, was executed by Saddam in 1980. This, coupled with images of Saddam smiling at those taunting him from below the gallows, has evidently drawn widespread sympathy for Saddam. The Sunni Association of Muslim Scholars issued a statement condemning the execution. The Association said this was an execution carried out by the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki "for the Americans." The fact that those hanging Saddam praised al-Sadr is evidence that the Mehdi Army militia of Muqtada al-Sadr controls at least a large portion of Iraq's security forces. This underscores Sunni views that the security forces have been deeply infiltrated by Shia militias.'

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Mazin Qumsiyeh

'"The best jihad is when a person speaks the truth before a tyrant ruler."
The prophet Muhammad (PBUH, from authenticated Hadith)

"You will find, as you look back upon your life, that the moments that stand
out are the moments when you have done things for others." Henry Drummond

January 1, 2007 we spent a few hours taking turns reading the
names of the 3000 US military personnel killed in Iraq interspersed with
reading a few hundred selected names from the hundreds of thousands of
Iraqis killed.

Despite the rain, there were over 50 of us attending in New
Haven, CT. Similar events were held in hundreds of cities around the US. I
was especially touched reading names of whole families killed in Iraq. It
helps one focus on what is important and what we need to do. It could not
have been a more fitting beginning to the new year as it helps us focus our
energy and remember why we work for peace and why this war and colonial
occupation (and all wars and occupations) must stop.
If you do not want to read the following highlights of 2006, you can skip to
end for a hopeful message.

Notable highlights for 2006:
- Over 1200 Lebanese, 660 Palestinians, and 67 Israelis were killed as a
result of Israeli colonization, occupation, and greed in Lebanon and
Palestine. Tens of thousands of Lebanese and Palestinian homes were
destroyed (see images of one section of Beirut before and after here (look
at areas outside of "offices of Hizballah)
The number of Palestinians killed (660) is more than three times those
killed in 2005 (197), see
- A study showed that the US occupation of Iraq resulted in over 655,000
Iraqi deaths (excess deaths over expected). This ongoing genocide is larger
than that in any other place in this year.
- We reached 3000 US military personnel killed and 15,000 injured in the
illegal war on and occupation of Iraq. Hundreds of "contractors"
(privatized military/security services, aka mercenaries) were also killed.
- Jimmy Carter publishes a book that mildly uses apartheid to describe
Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and thu8s stimulated
discussion. He was criticized by many of us for failing to recognize
apartheid inside the Green line (manifest in Israel's "basic laws").
Zionists viciously attacked him in the US media. See "The Ludicrous Attacks
on Jimmy Carter's Book: Carter's Real Sin is Cutting to the Heart of the
- Israel and the US under Zionist lobby influence impose a suffocating siege
of the occupied territories (using the excuse of Palestinians voting for
those they do not approve of). The siege worsens an already dire colonial
occupied economy and results in massive poverty for millions.
- The US government (under Zionist influence) vetoes a number of UN Security
Council Resolutions that try to get Israel to comply with International law.
- The genocide in Congo goes unreported and undiscussed (as is the ongoing
Iraq genocide) because of the political need to focus at what the Sudanese
government did or did not do in Darfur to stop that ongoing atrocity.
- As if any further proof is needed that US policy in Iraq is to create
sectarian violence to justify its ongoing occupation, the timing and
scripted hooded execution of Saddam Hussein will leave no doubt. Executed
on the first day of the Sunni Eid Al-Adha (the day before the Shi'a Eid) and
the way the hooded US agents spoke of Al-Sadr illustrate this was very
scripted to achieve the maximum sectarian division (unedited graphic
clandestine video of the US led execution at ). It is also instructive that he was
executed without ever being tried for the most heinous (US supported) crimes
(like the chemical attacks in Kurdish areas). He was not allowed to reveal
the extent of US complicity in the earlier crimes of his US supported
- The US government ratifies the destruction of civil liberties, implements
domestic spying without warrants, ratifies use of torture, abolishes habeas
corpus and spreads fear and ignorance. (Number of people killed by
lightening or by other trivial causes exceeds by many fold those killed by
non-state terrorism in 2006).
- Stock market goes up 16% (Exxon Mobil stock up 35%).
- Hugo Chavez re-elected by 70% of the vote and the rejection of US imposed
policies also spreads through other Latin American countries. US policies
(influenced by Zionists) also fail with Lebanon, Iran, and North Korea among
others. Right-wing candidates allied with the US lose in Spain, Italy, and
other countries.
- Boycotts, divestments, and sanctions similar to those implemented against
apartheid South Africa are now being implemented against apartheid Israel.
Dozens of groups in the west (unions, churches etc) have adopted the
Palestinian civil society call to action. A call for boycott at The World
Economics Forum in Davos generated much discussion (see and and )
- UN Civil Society Conference in September slams Israeli apartheid
These and many other stories were little covered in 2006 by the Zionist
leaning US mainstream media (they were covered in Europe and other parts of
the world). When they were covered in the US, the coverage was heavily
biased and totally distorted.
But Health Effects Need

The tradition of investigative journalism seems to be dying off in favor of
sensationalism, fear mongering, and frivolity. I noted today that CNN
(which also has an Israeli lobbyist as key anchorman, ex AIPAC employee Wolf
Blitzer) is acting like the Nazi disinformation office by spreading lies and
distortions about the execution of Saddam Hussein (see this ridiculous peace
of PR):

And in equally useful news on CNN "Rolls Royce to unveil convertible"
(costing $405,000)
On the other hand, Fox News today continued to provide free promos for
racist Rudy Giulliani's bid to become a US president! If you thought Bush
was bad, this guy makes Bush look like mother Teresa (he visited Israel more
times than many of the districts in NY City, he was voted by Israelis as
best presidential candidate fore Israel, he doled more money on a NY Israel
parade than on many needed services in NYC, and on and on):,2933,240626,00.html
and the theater of the absurd continues.
So we ask again: What really happened to the five Israelis apprehended
briefly on 9/11/01 and why was this important story dropped? See
Memories of Bethlehem by Mazin Qumsiyeh
Yet, the internet gives us hope as people are getting more news from other
sources. Emails and websites reach millions with news stories censored in
the US media. Polls showed persistent erosion of support for wars and
occupations everywhere. Polls showed that despite the billions spent on
propaganda, psyops and more, that people are aware of the greatest dangers
in the world today (US and Israeli governments top the list in European
polls). And if you want reasons for hope in 2007, read this: "Why Hope?"
BTW, upcoming national events
January 4 as congress opens, in Washington DC "World Can't Wait: Drive out
the Bush regime" see
January 27, there will be a march and rally in Washington against the war.
March 17 (4th anniversary of war on Iraq). March on the Pentagon. See
May the new year bring you all love and peace
Mazin Qumsiyeh
"To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on
the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of
compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in
this complex history will determine our lives. If we see only the worst, it
destroys our capacity to do something. If we remember those times and places
- and there are so many - where people have behaved magnificently, this
gives us the energy to act, and at least the possibility of sending this
spinning top of a world in a different direction. And if we do act, in
however small a way, we don't have to wait for some grand utopian future.
The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we
think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is
itself a marvelous victory." Howard Zinn (You Can't Be Neutral on a Moving
Train: A personal history of our times, p. 208)

Dave vs. Carl: The Insignificant Championship Series. Who will win?


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