Sunday, June 26, 2011

Friday, June 24, 2011

PyengThreadgill,always wonderful[

I'm nostalgic about my record label's (Random Chance Records) first release with Pyeng. A great album of her unique arrangements of Robert Johnson's songs

Obama Administration Green Lights Israeli Murder of U.S. Citizens

see commentary at end of news article excerpt - rc

By Matthew Lee, The Associated Press,, Updated: June 23, 2011 2:11 PM
Clinton: Gaza flotilla a bid to provoke Israel

WASHINGTON - Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton on Thursday criticized activists planning to challenge Israel's sea blockade of the Gaza Strip, saying their efforts are neither "necessary or useful" in helping the Palestinian people of Gaza.

A day after the State Department warned Americans against participating in the planned flotilla, Clinton said the flotilla, which Israel has said it will thwart, is not helpful and will only increase tensions. She noted that Israeli authorities had this week approved new shipments of housing construction material to enter Gaza legally and that the aim of the organizers appeared to be to merely provoke Israel into using its right to defend itself.

"We do not believe the flotilla is a necessary or useful effort to try to assist the people of Gaza," Clinton told reporters... "We think that it's not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves."

On Wednesday, the State Department specifically discouraged U.S. citizens from taking part in the flotilla, which is planned for later this month. In a new travel warning for Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, it said the Gaza coast is "dangerous and volatile" and pointed out that the Israeli navy had stopped previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea, and that's resulted in deaths, injuries and arrests. A dual U.S.-Turkish citizen was killed in a clash between Israeli forces and activists on board a Gaza-ship last year...

A group of 36 U.S. citizens has announced plans to sail aboard a U.S.-flagged vessel in a flotilla to Gaza to challenge the blockade.

The message from the US government: When unarmed protesters who oppose the US/Israeli illegal blockade sail toward a Gazan port, it's only understandable and accepted practice for the Israeli military to kill them. Poor, persecuted Israel is beset by a group of wild, dangerous pacifists in small boats. God forbid that they actually let them reach Gaza, the world would come to an end.

It's also important to note Hilary Clinton's statement that the flotilla is unnecessary because Israel has just allowed a lot of supplies into Gaza. So according to the U.S. government The embargo is fine. Just don't starve them too much. Israel should be nice about it, but it's fine to violate all international law with an embargo on Gaza which also has a political goal and is part and parcel of Israel's ethnic cleansing and land theft policies.

We shouldn't fall into the trap of just disputing with the US and Israel about whether or not enough aid is getting into Gaza, whether or not there is or isn't a humanitarian crisis. The main target is the embargo. If Israel were to become very liberal in what and who they allow to go in and out of Gaza, but maintained the embargo and had the power to shut everything down whenever they chose, would that be a victory? Obviously not. I think we have to focus on the embargo itself. It has to go.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Archbiship Desmond Tutu's appeal: buy the OneWorld single, "Freedom for Palestine"

letter posted by Palestine activist Ziyaad Lunat on a code pink listserve (I'm sure this message was meant to be widely publicized)

Dear Ziyaad,

I am writing to you, a supporter of OneWorld, to urge you to buy the new single Freedom for Palestine.

I have visited the occupied Palestinian territories and have witnessed the humiliation of Palestinians at Israeli military checkpoints: the inhumanity that won't let ambulances reach the injured, farmers tend their land or children attend school.

This treatment is familiar to me and the many black South Africans who were corralled and harassed by the security forces of the apartheid government.

In South Africa, we could not have achieved our freedom without the help of people around the world, and musicians were central to our struggle. Through music and art we speak to a common humanity, one which transcends political and economic interests.

For this I am proud to support Freedom for Palestine by OneWorld. I urge everyone to buy the single and spread its message.

Please do so now, here or here.

Let’s send a message to governments that a critical mass of people want to see an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and the oppression of its people. By acting together we can break cycles of injustice, end the occupation and build a new world based on our common humanity and justice.

Support Freedom for Palestine.

Peace. Shalom. Salaam.


Desmond Tutu

The single is available on iTunes and other digital download sites.

The prime goal of the flotilla is political, and that's not a bad thing

Supporters of the Israel/US blockade of Gaza have been generating a lot of invective about how terrible the international flotilla to break the embargo is: supporting terrorism, against the Jews, trying to smuggle arms, agents of the devil....

But a common thread running through these verbal attacks on the flotilla is the false idea that there is no humanitarian crisis and that Israel is letting all essential goods reach Gaza. The argument is, "Why don't they just sail to an Israeli port, offload the aid and let the benign Israelis inspect it and send it on to Gaza?" And their follow up line is, "Since they won't do that then there's really a (nefarious) political motive behind the flotilla.

Supporters of the flotilla fall into a trap if they take up the argument mainly on the basis of saying "there is a humanitarian crisis, and the US and Israel are lying about that." While this statement is clearly true, it can draw us into an argument that is confined to debating about whether or not Gaza is getting enough aid to survive. It can reduce the exchange to an obfuscating "yes they do!" "no they don't!" shouting match over Gaza having enough food and necessities.

If Israel maintains the embargo but is much more liberal about what they let into Gaza, is that a good thing, or a victory? Obviously not.

The whole point really is political (in a good way). The target is the blockade. It's a political act to force out the elected government and to collectively punish all Gazans for not meekly submitting to whatever Israel wants, which includes expelling the entire population and taking all the land; it is part of the long-term ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The blockade is also a war crime, illegal by international law and UN rules, and involves Israeli acts of piracy and murder in international waters. I think this should be at the forefront of our arguments.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Obama to Zionist donors: "Palestine? What's that?"

Try as they may, pro-Obama liberals who sympathize with Palestine won't find any wiggle room here.

from Ynet

Obama: Israel, US stalwart allies

American president tells potential Jewish donors to presidential campaign Jerusalem-DC relations transcend 'tactical disagreements'

Yitzhak Benhorin
Published: 06.21.11, 07:12 / Israel News

WASHINGTON – US President Barack Obama spoke Monday at a fundraiser for potential Jewish donors to his 2010 presidential campaign and assured then that Jerusalem and Washington's relations were unshakable.

"One inviolable principle will be that the United States and Israel will always be stalwart allies and friends, that that bond isn’t breakable and that Israel's security will always be at the top tier of considerations in terms of how America manages its foreign policy – because it's the right thing to do, because Israel is our closest ally and friend, it is a robust democracy, it shares our values and it shares our principles," Obama said to roaring applause.

Speaking of the regional changes sweeping the Middle East, Obama stressed that, "Both the United States and Israel are going to have to look at this new landscape with fresh eyes. It's not going to be sufficient for us just to keep on doing the same things we’ve been doing and expect somehow that things are going to work themselves out.

"We’re going to have to be creative and we’re going to have to be engaged. We’re going to have to look for opportunities where the best impulses in the Middle East come to the fore and the worst impulses are weakened."

Such achievements, he continued, would have to be carved from a position of strength: "This is why my administration has done more to promote Israel’s security, its qualitative military edge, its defense capabilities than any administration over the last 25 years. And we have made that commitment consistently.

"But it also means that we’ve got to engage diplomatically… there are going to be moments over the course of the next six months or the next 12 months or the next 24 months in which there may be tactical disagreements in terms of how we approach these difficult problems.

"But the broader vision, is one in which Israel is a secure Jewish state," Obama stressed. "One where it is able to live in peace with its neighbors, where kids can get on the bus or go to bed at night and not have to worry about missiles landing on them, where commerce and interactions between peoples in the region is occurring in a normal fashion, where the hopes and dreams of the original travelers to Israel, the original settlers in Israel, that those hopes and dreams that date back a millennium, that those hopes are realized. That will remain our North Star. That will remain our goal."

Obama told the crowd that he was "absolutely confident" the goal could be achieved, reiterating that it was "going to require some hard work."

"It going to require that not only this administration employs all of its creative powers to try to bring about peace in the region, but it’s also going to require all of you as engaged citizens of the United States who are friends of Israel making sure that you are giving us suggestions, you are in an honest dialogue with us, that you’re helping to shape how both Americans and Israelis think about the opportunities and challenges."

"My hope," he concluded, "Is that through the kind of conversations that we’re having here tonight, that we’re going to be able to, together, craft the kind of strategy that not only leads to a strong America, but also leads to a strong Israel."

Israel: the Pentagon's mideast military base

More evidence that US support for Israel is not just based on the lobbying efforts of AIPAC. Israel is an integral part of the US plan to maintain and expand it's dominance as the military and thus political hegemon of the world. If there was not an Israel the US would have to invent it... r congress

from Haartez

Published 19:04 20.06.11
Latest update 19:04 20.06.11

U.S.: Israeli missile defense system can protect our Mideast bases
Head of the Pentagon's missile defense system says Israel's Iron Dome and Arrow systems will be integrated into a regional defense array.
By Anshel Pfeffer Tags: IDF Israel US (relations)

The Israeli missile defense system will be integrated into a regional defense array planned by the U.S., General Patrick O'reilly, head of the Pentagon's Missile Defense Agency, said Monday.

In an interview published in the American Defense News journal. According to the interview, the Israeli missile batteries may also protect Arab countries who are allies of the U.S. but with which Israel has no diplomatic ties.
Arrow test

General Patrick said that the multi-layered defense system being developed by Israel – comprised of Iron Dome and Magic Wand systems on the lower levels and Arrow 2 and 3 systems on the atmospheric level and above – will strengthen the ability of the U.S. to protect its forces in the Middle East.

Israel is the only country today employing operational missile systems that are capable of intercepting rockets and missiles of different sizes and ranges. The Arrow and Iron Dome systems were developed with American aid and in cooperation with American security companies. A large part of the systems' trials were conducted in the U.S.

Iron Dome is also the only system in the world that has succeeded in intercepting rockets in a real-time theater, by shooting down eight Grad rockets launched from the Gaza Strip two months ago.

This week, the Israeli Air Force is conducting its largest interception exercise to date, deploying missile batteries on the ground and preparing for rocket launched from Lebanon, Syria, the Gaza Strip and Iran.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving

Who says Israel never gives anything back to the US?

From Haaretz
Published 16:48 20.06.11
Latest update 16:48 20.06.11

Israel reveals it has returned dozens of kilograms of nuclear waste to U.S.
Israel's Nuclear Energy Commission head tells IAEA commission that Sorek reactor's nuclear waste was returned to U.S. as part of agreement, while Dimona still stores nuclear waste.
By Yossi Melman Tags: Israel nuclear US Israel intelligence

Israel has returned nuclear waste from its Sorek nuclear reactor to the U.S., the head of Israel's Nuclear Energy Commission Dr Shaul Horev revealed on Monday.

Speaking at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) ministerial conference on nuclear safety in Vienna, Horev did not specify the exact amount of waste that had been returned, but according to estimates, Israel has sent back at least dozens of kilograms, probably more, of 93% enriched uranium, which was used to power the Sorek reactor.

The operation took place after Israel's Nuclear Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy signed an agreement for the return of the nuclear waste over a year and a half ago. After the agreement was signed, an American ship collected nuclear waste from both Israel and Turkey.

The Sorek research reactor is a small five megawatt facility that was donated to Israel by the U.S. within the framework of former president David Eisenhower's "Atoms for Peace" program. Israel also received 93% enriched uranium to fuel the reactor. The reactor has remained under IAEA supervision for years.

The transfer was part of special U.S. government program to stop nuclear waste, which can be recycled and used to manufacture nuclear weapons from falling into the hands of terrorist organizations. The effort targets mainly eastern European countries and countries from the former Soviet Republic.

According to a WikiLeaks document uncovered by Haaretz a few months ago, the U.S. originally proposed the deal to Israel in 2005, yet the Nuclear Energy Commission delayed its acceptance of the deal, claiming that the reason was the high handling fee for participation in the program. Yet the real reason was that it wanted to hold on to the nuclear waste. The Nuclear Energy Commission did not respond to the Haaretz report at the time, and did not reveal that it had actually already signed the agreement with the U.S. and that the nuclear waste had been returned.

The U.S. stopped supplying enriched uranium for the Sorek reactor as early as 1977 following a law passed by the U.S. Congress and because Israel was not a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), Haaretz reported at the time. However, according to some Israeli sources, Israel still has an adequate stock of enriched uranium, supplied by the U.S. before the embargo and the prohibition of the sale of enriched uranium was put in place, to keep the Sorek reactor operating on the part-time basis that it has been for years. According to American data, the U.S. provided between 1960-1975, 19 kilograms of highly enriched uranium to fuel the reactor.

The agreement with the U.S. does not apply to the Dimona nuclear reactor, where international sources believe Israel produces fissile material from uranium and produces plutonium for stockpile of nuclear weapons, and waste from Dimona is not being returned to the U.S.

Various types of radioactive waste from Sorek are stored in Dimona.

In an interview with Haaretz a few years ago, former head of the Israeli Committee for Nuclear safety, Tzvi Kamil, said that the materials at Dimona were stored safely and strictly monitored and there was no risk of them leaking.

In his speech, Horev also discussed a recent decision to make his deputy, Yishai Levanon, report directly to the Prime Minister, who is also the chairperson of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, in the interests of increasing nuclear safety.

Levanon, who is with Horev in Vienna, now has the final word regarding decisions granting licenses to units in the nuclear cores that wish to purchase equipment, technology or other material.

Horev emphasized that even though Israel is a not a signatory of the NPT, it has for years fulfilled all even the strictest requirements of the IAEA.

Horev also said that the reactor at Dimona 12 km from the nearest town, a satisfactory distance in the event of a radioactive leak. The reactor is also equipped with monitoring equipment under the supervision of the Ministry for Environmental Protection, and the Atomic Energy Commission has also donated monitoring equipment to the Dimona municipality for supervision.

The Sorek reactor is 3km from Yavne's industrial quarter. According to Atomic Energy Commission officials, in the U.S. nuclear reactors like Sorek are located in the middle of urban areas, such as MIT's reactor in Boston, and another one in Washington. They also emphasized that these reactors have far smaller output and capacity than Japanese reactors, which have an output of 750 megawatts and produced electricity.

Despite the best efforts of the IAEA, international calls to close nuclear reactors in the wake of the disaster in Japan earlier this year are growing steadily. In Israel, years before the Japan disaster, environmental protection activists have called for the closure of the Sorek and Dimona reactors.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Blood from an Israeli attack on the Gaza Fredom Flotilla will be on Obama's hands

This article by Ray McGovern, who will be on the U.S. ship as part of the international flotilla to break the illegal blockade of Gaza captures the moral bankruptcy of the US media and the government.

Article at
OpEdNews - Article: Gaza: Cradle of Killing -- Americans Too

But I think it's time to specifically call out Obama as an active participant in Israel's murderous policies. He is at one with the murderers of Furkan Dogan and eight other Mavi Marmara passengers. He is an enabler of Netanyahu's plans to violently assault the upcoming "Stay Human" flotilla, which will try, peacefully, with full legal right, to reach the shores of Gaza.

The acts of piracy being rehearsed by Israeli commandos are fully pre-endorsed by the President, House, Senate and the media. Contrary to wishful thinkers, this, without qualification, includes Obama. He is not out of the loop, or secretly against Israel's crimes, or misinformed, or in a bubble. It's not that he won't go against the Israel Lobby, he is with them.

He is also, as the elected leader of the corporate plutocracy that is the so called United State of America, doing what he can to undermine and destroy the Arab Spring. He (and Hillary) want Arab states that are stable and "secure," meaning the people are kept in line by governments dedicated to doing what the US wants them to do.

The popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond were unexpected and not welcomed by the US. After trying to help pliant dictators stay in power, and failing, Obama switched tactics and let Ali and Mubarek fall. Now they are using money and insider political influence to sabotage these revolutions from within (not without internal allies). In other cases, Baharein in particular, they are helping the dictators kill off and suppress the majority of the population (where else is the 5th fleet going to be based? Coney Island?).

We should observe the watchword of the flotilla and "stay human," but we also need to get real. There is no short cut to winning our struggle. Obama won't suddenly hear a better argument and change his ways. We have to build a politically independent grass-roots movement from the bottom up.

Israel has no right to stop Gaza aid flotillas

from Haaretz, 6/19/11

Israel cannot be hurt by any imaginary danger the ships pose. Here from Sweden comes a final appeal to those who would block the flotilla: Please, just once, act with prudence, and abide by international law and simple justice.

By Gideon Levy

It's late at night in Sodra, a fashionable suburb south of Stockholm, and it's drinks all around. There's cheese from Italy and Scandinavian fish on the table; and an extremely alert, diverse crowd is gathered around the table. There's a well-known Swedish academic whose field of expertise is the history of religion; a lecturer in economic history; and there's also a young Iraqi who was imprisoned in Saddam Hussein's era in Abu Ghraib prison and who now works in Sweden's supreme court.

The house belongs to a former Israeli, Dror Feiler, and this gathering is the Swedish steering committee for the next Gaza flotilla. It is a historic dwelling: In the 18th century, the house served as a beer hall, and then later functioned as an institution for the mentally ill. Hermann Goering convalesced here, at the insistence of his Swedish wife, after becoming addicted to pain medication when wounded during World War I; Vladimir Ilyich Lenin also stayed here, en route to the Russian revolution (he is said to have purchased his famous cap at a nearby street corner ). Now the musician and artist Feiler lives here; after being deported from Israel last June as a result of the first Gaza flotilla controversy, he is no longer allowed to visit his aging mother on Kibbutz Yad Hanna.

Feiler likes to reminisce about his days serving in the infantry's 50th Battalion, in the late 1960s. He shares his memories with members of the Gaza flotilla. Prof. Mattias Gardell, who also took part in the first flotilla, claims the first two casualties were killed before IDF soldiers boarded the Mavi Marmara last May. They now wonder, in a mood of naive fear, how Israel will relate to them this time. Together with a Swedish-Jewish physician, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor from Hungary who is married to publisher Dan Israel, the group is meeting late at night to plan the next flotilla adventure. Whereas Israelis are wont to describe the flotillas as a Turkish enterprise and a threat, members of this group describe the flotilla as an international, peace-oriented, project.

It's impossible not to be impressed by this determined group. They will convey 500 tons of cement, a mobile hospital and an ambulance on their boat, one of ten planned for the flotilla. They know there are other ways of bringing these items to Gaza, but they want to remind the world of Gaza's fate. That is their right, and perhaps even their duty.

Had Israel not behaved with such wanton stupidity, and not attacked the previous flotilla and allowed it to reach the Gaza coast, it's possible that this new flotilla would not have mobilized - at any event, the eyes of the world would not be peeled as they are now, watching the flotilla closely.

I told members of the group that Israel is determined to attack. One of them has already purchased a bulletproof vest. Israel well understands that these are people are not threats, and that no weapons will be smuggled on the boats. Nonetheless, Israel makes threats, and the IDF naval commandos train for the flotilla's arrival. The result: Requests to sail on the boats skyrocket, and the flotilla vessels will be jam-packed.

When you meet such people, you understand the terrible international damage Israel inflicts upon itself as a result of its violent behavior. How simple (and just ) it would be to allow these well-intentioned people to reach their goal; in contrast, how idiotic, violent and unnecessary it would be to release the commandos once again, to go after them.

"A toast to the darkness that swooped on the ships ... Godspeed to the small, wooden boats," the poet Nathan Alterman wrote in his "Response to an Italian Captain," in praise of the ship that broke through the British blockade and brought Jewish immigrants to Nahariya in 1945. And let's have a toast to the Swedish (or Turkish ) captain, and for the boats en route to Gaza, on a mission no less just; let's hope that Israel will change its course and, for a change, surprise the world be taking a wise step and allowing the ships' passengers to reach their destination.

Israel cannot be hurt by any imaginary danger the ships pose. Here from Sweden, at a time when the sun does not set at night, comes a final appeal to those who would block the flotilla: Please, just once, act with prudence, and abide by international law and simple justice. These people have the right to reach Gaza; Israel lacks the right to stop them.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Weiner wesigns

The crusading liberal (reactionary, pro-endless war, anti-Palestinian racist) Anthony Weiner bites the dust. No longer able to be a public pompous ass in the House of Representatives, what will become of him?

Maybe he can be a game show host. I can see him as an MC at a Vegas strip club. And there's always AIPAC, ADL, ZOA, the Israeli department of PR. He won't starve.

The "Jewish Brotherhood" is taking over Israel

Saturday, February 5 2011 |Yossi Gurvitz

Nobody mentions the Jewish Brotherhood

Israelis bemoan the alleged rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, ignoring their own local variety
While Israelis pay plenty of attention to the fear of the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, they steadfastly ignore the rise of the Jewish brotherhood in their own country.
The motto of the MB is “Islam is the solution”: faced with the failure of modernity in the Arab world, they want to step back into an imagined past of a pure Islamic rule – Sunni Islamism, of course. This interpretation of Islamic history has little relation to Islamic rule as it was in fact.
The Jewish Brotherhood, which uses widespread slogans such as “Jehova is the King” and “Return the Crown to its old glory”, address a much more mythical world: No “pure” Jewish regime ever existed. The very short years of independence in Judea – under the Hasmoneans – were run under a purely Hellenistic fusion of the rule of a king (who was, in Hellenistic and Roman propriety but hardly a Jewish one, also the high priest) and a council of notables, the Sanhedrin. Many of the Hasmonean kings relied on the Sadducees rather than on the Pharisees, who would give birth to rabbinical Judaism as we know it.
The rabbis would, in later ages, almost completely remove the hated Hasmoneans from history – the references to them in the Talmud would fill a very short brochure – and imagine their own independent government. It still has a king, but he was playing a decidedly second fiddle to the rabbis. And since the marking sign of Jewish thought from Talmudic days onwards was fanatical hatred of non-Jews (to whom they referred as “goyim”, similar to the Hellenistic/Roman usage of “Barbarian”), the future Jewish kingdom was supposed to be free of non-Jews, unless those who would either be subservient to the Jews, or would accept a version of Jewish law (“The laws of the sons of Noah”).
The Jewish state coming into being in 1948 was, as far as many Jewish fanatics thought, a total failure. It was the result of distinctly foreign ideologies, running the gamut between socialism and eastern European nationalism. Neither was particularly interested in Jewish law. The nationalists would show respect to its symbols – wearing the yarmulka when appropriate, held a kiddush from time to time – but would recognize the full monstrosity of Jewish law as their guide to life.
As a result, terrorist groups of ultra-Orthodox and Orthodox-nationalists abounded in the earlier days of the state; the famous if such terrorists was Mordechai Eliyahu, later to become Chief Rabbi and the father of Shmuel Eliyahu, the main engine of current ultra-Orthodox nationalism. Their purpose was to bring down the pseudo-democracy of the 1950s – Israel still held its Arab citizens under military law – and create, in its stead, a theocratic state.
They failed to win support. And, like the extremists among the MB, the Jewish right adopted terrorism as a tool. Jewish terrorists killed mostly non-Jews, but they put Jews in their sights, as well: Emil Grunzweig in 1983; Yizhak Rabin in 1995; The attempt by Ohad Bart, a Bnei Akiva (right wing Jewish Scouts) guide and later a National Unity Knesset candidate, to run minister Yossi Sarid off the road and into an abyss in 1996 (two months after the assassination of Rabin); The attempt by Chabad member Harry Shapiro on Shimon Peres’ life in Jacksonville in 1997; and various less deadly attacks, from the defacement of offices of human rights organizations and leftist organizations to arson.
Terrorism failed, as did rebellion. During the disengagement of 2005 – the removal of Jewish settlements from Gaza – there was a widespread attempt to bring about a revolt. I once interviewed the spokesman of the Yesha Council – the mainstream settler organization – about the focal point, the clash in Kfar Maimon, where Sharon forced the army to stand its ground and bring the revolt down. “They had tanks. They had gunship helicopters,” he told me. “Gunships! What could we be expected to do against that?” The Council was under attack by more radical settlers for not doing enough. I guess it’s good thing the IDF brought along something heavier than jeeps.
Following the failure of the revolt, the movement’s ideologues – particularly Elyakim Levanon – began talking of taking over the establishment: more officers in the IDF, more “Emuniim” (“people of faith”) in every nook and cranny of the regime. It’s rather easy to identify religious reactionaries: the litmus test is their attitude towards women’s rights. Levanon forbade women from running in the elections for his settlement’s leadership (Hebrew), reminding them that Jewish law forbids “granting office to women.” His rabbinical position was strong enough to enforce the ruling.
Like the Muslim Brotherhood, whose basic assumption is that the first process towards a return to the glory days is cleansing society of non-Islamic elements, the Jewish Brotherhood always claimed that non-Jews ought to be removed from Jewish society. In this, they enjoyed wide support from most of Israeli Jewish society, which was always racist to the bone (a vast majority of Orthodox Jews in Israel consider a family member marrying a non-Jew to be a blot on the family’s honor). This process reached new peaks during the last few years.
About a year ago, some hitherto unknown group in Safed started demanding (Hebrew) employers sign their non-Jewish workers to a pledge to keep the “laws of the Sons of Noah” – i.e. recognize their subservience to Jewish law. By no accident, Safed is the town of Shmuel Eliyahu. The initiative spread to other towns. Then came Eliyahu’s ruling, forbidding renting apartments to non-Jews, which led to the “Rabbis’ Letter,” signed by more than 300 Israeli rabbis. Immediately afterward we were hit with the “assimilation” hysteria: The Rabbis Wives’ letter (apparently they’re denied political office, but are allowed carefully-vetted political expression), a ruling by the rabbi of Rosh Ha’Ayin forbidding the employment at Jewish women and Arab men in the same workplace; and the blood libel that Arab witches brew seduction potions, made of rabbits, to be used against Jewish females, particularly Orthodox ones (I shit you not; Hebrew).
The last few weeks have seen an acceleration: the LHVH organization, which focuses on “the danger of assimilation”, produced a new sort of kosher certificate -  one noting the business employs no non-Jews – and it seems to be doing brisk business (Hebrew). Soon, MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) will use the podium of the Women’s Promotion Committee of the Knesset to hold a debate on the “perils of women assimilating” – i.e. promote the standard racist libel that “they” are trying to ravish “our” women, and grant it the imprimatur of the Knesset. I mean, if the Knesset debates it, it must exist, no?
It should be noted that Israeli law already fights interfaith marriages: A Jew and a non-Jew (as well as any Muslim trying to marry a non-Muslim) cannot marry in Israel, which stubbornly refuses to permit civil marriages and leaves standing the formation of the old Turkish Millet, or religious sect. An Israeli Jew wishing to marry a non-Jew is forced to marry abroad.
And, soon enough, his or her partner won’t be able to work alongside Jews, and she (or he) will be severely rebuked by the Knesset for defiling all that is holy in Judaism. So, once again – which of the two is nearer power, the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, or the Israeli Jewish Brotherhood?

Rabbinical thinking in action

PETA urges rabbis to overturn dog's death sentence
Published today (updated) 17/06/2011 13:36

BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A leading US animal rights organization is urging rabbinical authorities in Jerusalem to overturn a "death sentence" by stoning of a dog alleged to be a reincarnated lawyer.

The sentence stems from the suspicion that the spirit of a secular lawyer, said to have insulted the court's judges decades earlier, has been transferred into the dog's body, Israeli media reported Thursday.

Head of the court Rabbi Avraham Dov Levin reportedly denied calling for the dog's stoning. But one of the court's managers confirmed the sentence, the Israeli newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth reported.

People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals has called the sentence "absurd."

"By sentencing an innocent animal to a painful death for such an absurd reason, this rabbinical court has not only completely discredited itself but also violated tza'ar ba'alei chayim ("the suffering of living creatures") -- one of the most important principles in Judaism," PETA said in a statement Thursday.

"Rabbi Levin should be given a mandatory psychiatric evaluation, and PETA intends to call for criminal charges against him for inciting cruelty to animals," the statement continued.

An Israeli animal rights group, Let the Animals Live, has also called on the court to overturn the sentence and filed a complaint with police against Rabbi Levin, the Ynet news site reported.

(PS: these rabbis are employees of the Jewish (and democratic) state.)

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

No Justice in Kafka’s America

The draconian legal mechanisms that condemn Muslim Americans who speak out publicly about the outrages we commit in the Middle East have left many wasting away in supermax prisons.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Nixon's Crimes are now legal thanks to Bush/Obama attack on US Democratic rights

by Daniel Ellsberg

These days, when you find yourself thinking about Richard Nixon, what comes to mind?

Richard Nixon, if he were alive today, might take bittersweet satisfaction to know that he was not the last smart president to prolong unjustifiably a senseless, unwinnable war, at great cost in human life. (And his aide Henry Kissinger was not the last American official to win an undeserved Nobel Peace Prize.)

He would probably also feel vindicated (and envious) that ALL the crimes he committed against me - which forced his resignation facing impeachment - are now legal.

That includes burglarizing my former psychoanalyst's office (for material to blackmail me into silence), warrantless wiretapping, using the CIA against an American citizen in the US, and authorizing a White H ouse hit squad to "incapacitate me totally" (on the steps of the Capitol on May 3, 1971). All the above were to prevent me from exposing guilty secrets of his own administration that went beyond the Pentagon Papers. But under George W. Bush and Barack Obama,with the PATRIOT Act, the FISA Amendment Act, and (for the hit squad) President Obama's executive orders. they have all become legal.

There is no further need for present or future presidents to commit obstructions of justice (like Nixon's bribes to potential witnesses) to conceal such acts. Under the new laws, Nixon would have stayed in office, and the Vietnam War would have continued at least several more years.

Likewise, where Nixon was the first president in history to use the 54-year-old Espionage Act to indict an American (me) for unauthorized disclosures to the American people (it had previously been used, as intended, exclusively against spies), he would be impressed to see that President Obama has now brought five such indictments against leaks, almost twice as many as all previous presidents put together (three).

He could only admire Obama's boldness in using the same Espionage Act provisions used against me - almost surely unconstitutional used against disclosures to the American press and public in my day, less surely under the current Supreme Court - to indict Thomas Drake, a classic whistleblower who exposed illegality and waste in the NSA.

Drake's trial begins on June 13, the 40th anniversary of the publication of the Pentagon Papers. If Nixon were alive, he might well choose to attend.

*MORE BIO: After graduating from Harvard in 1952 with a B.A. summa cum laude in Economics, he studied for a year at King s College, Cambridge University, on a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship. Between 1954 and 1957, Ellsberg spent three years in the US Marine Corps, serving as rifle platoon leader, operations officer, and rifle company commander.

From 1957-59 he was a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows, Harvard University. He earned his Ph.D. in Economics at Harvard in 1962 with his thesis, Risk, Ambiguity and Decision. His research leading up to th is dissertation - in particular his work on what has b ecome known as the "Ellsberg Paradox," first published in an article entitled "Risk, Ambiguity and the Savage Axioms" - is widely considered a landmark in decision theory and behavioral economics.

In 1959, Ellsberg became a strategic analyst at the RAND Corporation, and consultant to the Defense Department and the White House, specializing in problems of the command and control of nuclear weapons, nuclear war plans, and crisis decision-making. In 1961 he drafted the guidance from Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the operational plans for general nuclear war. He was a member of two of the three working groups reporting to the Executive Committee of the National Security Council (EXCOM) during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962.

Ellsberg joined the Defense Department in 1964 as Special Assistant to Assistant Secretary of Defense (International Security Affairs) John McNaughton, working on the escalation of the war in Vietnam. He transferred to the State Department in 1965 to serve two years at the US Embassy in Saigon, evaluating pacification in the field.

On his return to the RAND Corporation in 1967, Ellsberg worked on the top secret McNamara study of US Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945-68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000 page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee; in 1971 he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post and 17 other newspapers. His trial, on twelve felony counts posing a possible sentence of 115 years, was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, which led to the convictions of several White House aides and figured in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon.

Ellsberg is the author of three books: "Papers on the War" (1971), "Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers" (2002), and "Risk, Ambiguity and Decision" (2001). In December 2006 he was awarded the 2006 R ight Livelihood Award, known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize," in Stockholm, Sweden, "... for putting peace and truth first, at considerable personal risk, and dedicating his life to inspir ing others to follow his example."

Since the end of the Vietnam War, Ellsberg has been a lecturer, writer and activist on the dangers of the nuclear era, wrongful US interventions and the urgent need for patriotic whistleblowing.

He is a Senior Fellow of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

The Bernanke Scandal: Full-Frontal Cluelessness

Robert Scheer's Columns,from
The Bernanke Scandal: Full-Frontal Cluelessness

Posted on Jun 7, 2011
AP / Alex Brandon

Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke testifies before the Senate Budget Committee in January.

By Robert Scheer

How I wish that Ben Bernanke would get caught emailing photos of his underwear-clad groin. Otherwise we don’t stand a chance of reversing this administration’s economic policy, which is shaping up to be every bit as disastrous as that of its predecessor.

Indeed, the Fed chairman’s much anticipated remarks on Tuesday take one back to the contemptuous indifference of a Herbert Hoover to the public’s suffering: Bernanke dismissed the wobbly economy with its anemic 1.8 percent first-quarter growth as merely “somewhat slower than expected.” The rise in unemployment to 9.1 percent was “some loss of momentum.”

The problem with Bernanke is that he is utterly clueless as to the stark pain and fear endured by the 50 million Americans who have experienced, or face the prospect of, losing their homes. His remarks reflected the insularity of a ruling-power elite that is magnificently impervious to the damage that Bernanke’s policies in the current and past administration helped inflict on what used to be called the American way of life. This is a man who assured us there was no housing crisis, while his policies at the Fed encouraged the mortgage securitization swindles that caused the meltdown of the economy.

His full statement stands as a classic example of the limits of economic language as morally descriptive: “Overall, the economic recovery appears to be continuing at a moderate pace, albeit at a rate that is both uneven across sectors and frustratingly slow from the perspective of millions of unemployed and underemployed workers.” Frustratingly slow—how about going bat nuts with fear over not being able to make your mortgage payment and losing your home? Tell it to workers who must contend with stagnant wage rates and sharply rising gas and food costs as better jobs and therefore consumer demand move offshore. Bernanke takes low wages to be reassuring news on what he sees as the all-important inflation front: “ ... Subdued unit labor costs should remain a restraining influence on inflation.”

At home we are experiencing a social tsunami with the disappearance of a middle-class workforce of stakeholders who were assumed by observers as varied as Thomas Jefferson and Alexis de Tocqueville to be the very bedrock of America’s experiment in freedom. Many with jobs are struggling desperately to get by as the average workweek and pay scales fall, and countless workers find themselves settling for rewards well below their skill sets. Even those slim pickings are denied to the unemployed. Bernanke concedes: “Particularly concerning is the very high level of long-term unemployment—nearly half of the unemployed have been jobless for more than six months.”

The jobs that have been created by our large multinational corporations, like the bailed-out GE, are primarily outside of the country, as Bernanke admitted: “Many U.S. firms, notably in manufacturing but also in services, have benefited from the strong growth of demand in foreign markets.” Those foreign gains, fueled by far more successful anti-recession policies in China, Brazil and Germany, have driven up demand and prices abroad in the areas of petroleum, food and key construction commodities.

Bernanke, speaking at a monetary conference in Atlanta, conceded that “the depressed state of housing in the United States is a big reason that the current recovery is less vigorous than we would like,” and that the “U.S. economy is recovering from both the worst financial crisis and the most severe housing bust since the Great Depression.”

But he offered not a word as to how the severe effects of that housing bust might be mitigated. Not a word about assisting people to stay in their homes. Yet he claimed that the relief that the Fed provided to the bankers by buying up more than $1.2 trillion of the toxic mortgages those bankers had created “has been accomplished, I should note, at no net cost to the federal budget or to the U.S. taxpayer.”

This is the Big Lie technique at work, employed by a huge banking lobby that stresses the direct cost of the TARP program while ignoring other programs that will not be paid back, as well as the additional cost of $5 trillion to the national debt that a proper Fed policy could have avoided.

The record is by now indelibly clear that the economic approaches pursued by George W. Bush and Barack Obama, with Bernanke playing a key role in both administrations, can be most accurately summarized as a policy of government of the bankers, by the bankers, and for the bankers.

Assurances of stability to the financial markets, meaning the ability for companies to borrow government funds at a near-zero interest rate without giving anything back to the public in the form of mortgage relief or job creation, have been the overwhelming goal. But even by that standard, as the latest statistics on job creation and construction starts attest, the government’s effort is not working. Putting the bankers first has represented pushing on a string, what Paul Volcker condemns as a “liquidity trap,” a situation in which taxpayer money has been made available to major corporations that invest in job creation that benefits foreigners instead of U.S. workers. Now that’s an obscenity we should be concerned about.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

With Humala's win, Peru turns to the left

With a former army officer winning the presidency, Peru joins Brazil, Bolivia and Venezuela in tilting to the left.
Greg Grandin Last Modified: 07 Jun 2011 18:43

Add Peru to the list of Latin American countries that have turned left. On Sunday, Peruvians voted in a second-round run-off ballot and elected Ollanta Humala, a 48-year old former army officer, president. This is Humala’s second try for the office. In 2006, he came close to winning, but WikiLeaks cables reveal that Peru's establishment politicians put aside their differences and beat a path to the US embassy, asking for help smearing Humala as a Peruvian Hugo Chávez.

WikiLeaks also reveals that that same year the Mexican right and the US State Department worked together to defeat the populist presidential candidate Andrés Manuel López Obrador, leading many in the US to gloat that the "left turn" in Latin America had run its course.

Humala's victory suggests otherwise. Here's just some of what has happened since 2006: In Bolivia, Evo Morales presided over the ratification of a new social-democratic constitution and was re-elected as president in 2009 with 64 per cent of the vote. In Ecuador, Rafael Correa also easily won reelection and ratified a new constitution that guarantees social rights and puts tight limits on privatization. Recently, Ecuadorians likewise voted on ten progressive ballot initiatives, passing them all. They included the strict regulation of two blood sports: banks are now banned from speculation and bulls can no longer be killed in bull fights.

And last year in Brazil, the trade unionist Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva left office the most popular politician on the planet, handing over the presidency of one of the world's largest economies to Dilma Rousseff, a former urban guerrilla and economist who vows to continue to try to make Brazil a more humane and equal nation.

All of these national left political projects—from Venezuela to Uruguay—have their problems and shortcomings, and are open to criticism on any number of issues by progressive folk. But combined, the Latin American left can claim a remarkable achievement: It has snatched the concept of democracy away from neoliberals and the corporate privateers who came close to convincing the world that democracy equals deregulated capitalism and returned the term to its more humane, sustainable definition. In Latin America, democracy means social democracy. So considering the otherwise bleak global landscape, the return of the Latin American left, now well into its second decade, is cause for great cheer.

What does Humala's victory mean for Peru? Most importantly in the short run, it has halted the return of Alberto Fujimori's style of death-squad neoliberalism. Humala's opponent was Fujimori's daughter, Keiko, who pledged to free her jailed father, who was convicted of murder, kidnapping and corruption.

In the long run, many Peruvians, particularly those outside of Lima, voted for Humala because they have seen little benefits from the country's celebrated macroeconomic performance over the last decade, driven by the high price of silver, zinc, copper, tin, lead and gold—which comprise sixty per cent of the country's exports.

Over thirty per cent of Peru's thirty million people live in poverty and eight per cent in extreme poverty. In rural areas, particularly in indigenous communities, more than half of all families are poor, many desperately so. Humala has promised to address this inequity with a series of pragmatic measures—a guaranteed pension to people over 65; expanding health care in rural areas, including the construction of more provincial hospitals; an increase in public sector salaries, to be paid for with a windfall profit tax on the mining sector.

In terms of foreign policy, Humala's election is another victory for Brazil in its contest with Washington for regional influence. If Fujimori had won, she would have aligned Peru politically with Washington and economically with US and Canadian corporations.

Humala, in contrast, will tilt toward Brazilian economic interests. Indeed, the Peruvian historian Gerardo Rénique said that the election, while representing an important victory for democratic forces, could also be understood in part as a contest between Brazil and the US over Peruvian energy and mineral resources. In this perspective, one could say that it didn't matter who won the Peruvian election: the Amazon lost.

Here then might be the question that determines the success of Humala's presidency: As he tries to put into place his "growth with social inclusion" agenda, will he be able to balance the conflicting interests of his Brazilian allies and the social movements that elected him, many of which are fighting for sustainable development and local control of resources?

In addition to reviving social democracy, the other major accomplishment of the renewed Latin American left has been to dilute the entrenched racism that has defined the continent for centuries. In Bolivia, Ecuador, Chile, Brazil, Venezuela and other countries, Native Americans and peoples of African descent have led a remarkable, if still incomplete, democratization of politics and culture. Peru, with its 45 per cent Amerindian population, has largely been left out of this process. In fact, some say that racism has deepened over the last decade, with the mining boom wreaking havoc on the dark-skinned Andean countryside and Amazonian lowlands while financing the rise of luxury condos and malls in white, middle-class Lima.

So however hard it might be for Humala to take on international capital—Peru's stock market plunged 12 per cent the day after his election—an equally difficult challenge will be to tackle Peruvian racism. "El Indio Humala" lost Lima by a wide margin, driven mostly not by fears he would turn Peru into Chávez's Venezuela but into neighboring Indian-governed Bolivia. Candidate Humala did his best to deflect these concerns.

President Humala, however, will have to confront this racism directly if he is to succeed in democratising Peru. After all, even before all the votes where in, tens of thousands of his supporters began to fill the country's plazas, including Lima's. They raised high the rainbow wiphala flag that became ubiquitous in Bolivia, during the rise of the social movements that brought Evo Morales to power. Today, it is waved throughout the Andes as a symbol of indigenous pride and sovereignty.

Greg Grandin is a professor of history at New York University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is the author of a number of prize-winning books, including most recently, Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City (Metropolitan 2009), which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in History, as well as for the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

A version of this article first appeared in The Nation magazine.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Veni, Vidi, Vici, Weiner

NY Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner richly deserves this moment of public humiliation for his self-inflicted wounds. He's not only a gross narcissist and hubris-infused schmuck, but a coldly reactionary member of the APAIC amen chorus...and there's even more.

A lot of liberals see him as a progressive champion, standing up to the Republican onslaught, particularly because of his defense of Medicare.

But besides his crude, racist (you have to hear him action as I did when he spoke at a public meeting at the New School, debating former Rep. Baird from Washington State.) apologies for Israeli ethnic cleansing and land theft, he's a supporter of the Bush/Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and a champion of FBI domestic spying on legal political activities, and also a supporter of the Patriot Act.

No tears for this scumbag.

Yes, but it's different

Syrian armed forces fire on unarmed peaceful protesters, many killed and wounded. US and Israeli government condemn the Syrian government.

Israeli armed forces fire on unarmed peaceful protesters, many killed and wounded. US and Israeli government condemn the protesters.

Mass, peacful protest scares Israeli government more than any armed uprising

From Max Blumenthal's web site

On Naksa Day, unarmed resistance sends Israel into violent contortions
On 06.06.11, By Max Blumenthal

Last week, I interviewed Rami Zurayk, an agronomist at the American University of Beirut and Palestinian refugee rights activist, about the planning of the May 15 and June 5 demonstrations in Lebanon. Zurayk described to me a meeting that took place in Beirut before the Fatah-Hamas unity deal took where the May 15 movement planned its strategy. All Palestinian factions were represented, however, each leader received only a single vote on the motions being deliberated. “It was unbelievable to see the Hamas guy who represents 100,000 people have the same power as an independent person from the camps,” Zurayk told me. “In this setting, the lines began to blur and you could not tell who was from what faction any more. In the past, it was impossible to get people from the camps to agree on rallying under one flag and one symbol. But in this meeting everything changed.”

Zurayk said the refugees and their Lebanese allies (the involvement of Lebanese youth and civil society also reflected a new trend) resolved to carry out a mode of resistance that was “pacifistic in nature.” “Like the demonstrations in Tahrir Square and throughout Tunisia, the [May 15] demonstrators were audacious, tenacious and most of all, repetitive,” he explained. “Repetition is why Tahrir worked — you put your body on the line against repression. So that became our modality.” Zurayk described scenes he witnessed of refugee youth rushing the Israeli controlled frontier at Maroun al-Ras with nothing but Palestinian flags in their hands, and of the Israeli response: soldiers shot the youth dead, killing one almost every five minutes.

After an international outcry, Israel blamed the Syrian regime and Iran for the demonstrations at the frontiers (it had little to say about the killings it committed in Maroun al Ras, Lebanon, however). I asked Zurayk about the Israeli claim. He remarked, “No amount of Syrian money can make people run to a border knowing they will be shot at. If the Syrians are being clever, that is their consideration. But do you really think Palestinians need Syrians to make them want to return to Palestine? They are living in camps with sewage running openly, with no jobs and no opportunities.”

While evidence that the Syrian regime directly organized the demonstrations is scant to non-existent, the regime clearly enabled the demonstrators to reach the fence by neglecting to repel them with its own troops. Not only does this fact fail to excuse Israel’s wanton killing, it highlights the irony of Israel and its allies condemning the Syrian regime for its brutal repression of Syrian citizens rising up against it (of course, the whole world should deplore Assad’s draconian rule), while at the same time demanding that the regime repress the Palestinian refugees who are protesting for their own internationally recognized rights.

Yesterday, on June 5, the commemoration of Naksa Day, Palestinian refugees and their supporters returned to the Israeli controlled frontiers to protest the 44th anniversary of the occupation. Protests swelled at the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem, where according to Joseph Dana Israeli forces tested out new and unusual weapons on demonstrators, and spread to Nablus, where Israeli forces fired teargas shells at a group of people protesting the occupation by planting trees. The most intense protests took place at the Quneitra crossing near the occupied Golan Heights, where Israeli forces gunned down at least 20 unarmed demonstrators as they approached the frontier fence (be sure to watch the video at the link). “We could have taken the easier route of uncontrolled fire, but we decided to operate in a very limited manner,” an army spokesman said afterward, reassuring the world that Israel could have killed hundreds more, but chose to pick off about 20 unarmed civilians in the name of restraint.
Would you buy a used car from this man? "The Syrian Chalabi" Farid Ghadry claims demonstrators at Quneitra were in fact "Syrian farmers" paid $1000 by Assad to show up

Would you buy a used car from this man? "The Syrian Chalabi" Farid Ghadry claims demonstrators at Quneitra were in fact "Syrian farmers" paid $1000 by Assad to show up

In the hours following the bloodshed, the Israeli response grew increasingly contorted. Army spokespeople claimed the demonstrators “were responsible for their own deaths,” claiming they stepped on landmines. No evidence of landmine deaths was provided by the unnamed military sources, only conjecture. Next, Israel turned to its favorite Syrian cut-out in Washington, Farid Ghadry, an AIPAC member and discredited “serial entrepreneur” who is widely regarded as the Syrian version of Ahmed Chalabi — Ghadry actually met Chalabi in Richard Perle’s living room. In a statement published on the website of his astro-turfed Reform Party of Syria, Ghadry claimed that the protesters at Quneitra were not actual Palestinian refugees, but impoverished “Syrian farmers” who had been paid $1000 each by the Assad regime just to show up, and $10,000 to die. Ghadry claimed he gleaned the information from “intelligence sources close to the Assad regime in Lebanon.”

Israeli military spokespeople appear to be pushing Ghadry’s press release, because the canard immediately showed up in a report by Yediot Aharnoth’s Hanan Greenberg, one of the many military correspondents in the Israeli media who dutifully report any claim by any flack in an olive uniform as though it were a substantiated fact. “Syrian Opposition: Anti-Israel Rioters paid $1000,” read the Yediot headline. But the story has not graduated beyond the pro-Israel blogosphere, probably because Ghadry and his shell of an opposition group — it is quite clearly a neocon front organization — have no credibility in Syria or anywhere else.

Leaving aside the allegations about Syria’s role in the demonstrations on the Israeli occupied frontiers of Golan, it is worth questioning whether Israel actually wants to see Assad step down. Yaakov Katz, another military correspondent who serves as a tool for Israeli securitocrats and army spokespeople, making him occasionally useful as a window into the army’s thinking, wrote in the Jerusalem Post in March:

As Israel watches the ongoing demonstrations in Syria against President Bashar Assad, its greatest concern for the moment is the uncertainty that change in Syria would bring to the region. Israel has gotten used to Assad and he is almost predictable.

A new regime, led by a new actor, would likely be unpredictable and when considering the large arsenal of long-range Scud missiles Syria has stockpiled over the years and the accompanying chemical warheads, Israel needs to be considered…

But when Israel looks at Syria it also sees the possible development of a new enemy, far more radical and extreme than the Assad they are familiar with. While not as strong and large as the Egyptian military, the Syrian military has obtained some advanced capabilities which, if the country falls apart, could fall into terrorist hands or be used by the country against Israel…

In the meantime, Israeli intelligence services are cautious in trying to predict how the riots in Syria will end and whether Assad will be prepared to cede power as easily as Hosni Mubarak did in Egypt.

By this logic, Israel is trying to calibrate its approach to the anti-Assad protests, taking into account the fact that the opposition movement is likely to be more antagonistic to it than Assad has been. The military-intelligence apparatus will determine how and when Israel responds, seeking to derive maximum gain from Syria’s internal crisis. But since the Arab Spring arrived on Israel’s doorstep, Israel’s strategy has depended on lethal violence and little else. And it may be that it has no other strategy, that there is no Plan B. Meanwhile, as I write, the demonstrators who camped out at Quneitra are waking up.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Coldplay promotes 'Freedom for Palestine' song

from Ynet, 6/1/11

(Video) British band's Facebook page invites fans to listen to music video created by various artists in cooperation with pro-Palestinian organizations

VIDEO - Coldplay for Palestine – a message on the popular British band's official Facebook page invites fans to listen to the song "Freedom for Palestine" – a musical collaboration initiated by the OneWorld organization.

A message posted on the band's wall reads: "Some of our friends are involved in OneWorld's new 'Freedom for Palestine' single - find out more at "

Only in America: Revived JIm Crow Goes National

During the Apartheid days of legalized racism after the end of Reconstruction, which lasted into the 1960s, restricting the right to vote was an important pillar of white supremacy. The Reconstruction era was the post-Civil War period of 1865-1877 when the South was under martial law and an attempt was made by the federal government (led by the "Radical Republicans" in Congress, who were champions of equality...hard to believe now, right?) to enforce equal rights for the freed slaves. During this period blacks were elected to local state and federal offices, including the US Senate.

After the withdrawal of Union troops from the South and the end of Reconstruction, the Southern states that had comprised the former Confederacy enacted laws to prevent blacks from voting (among many other things). It would have been too flagrant and would have openly violated the Constitution and Federal law to simply say that only white men could vote.

The method used was the poll tax and the literacy test. Making registering to vote cost money eliminated most potential black voters. For those who actually could pay the tax there was the literacy test. Illiterate whites always passed, while college educated blacks always failed. Eliminating these bars to voting in the South was one of the accomplishments of the 60s civil rights movement.

Since Nixon's presidency the Republican Party, opting for the "Southern Strategy," has become a Southern based, white supremacist organization (with a few prominent Uncle Toms like Clarence Thomas Colin Powell or Condi Rice for cover). But demographics are tipping against them as their reliable white, older stalwarts shrink in number. What to do?

True, the barring of convicted felons from voting helped out, since it works out that most convicted felons are black. But it's not enough.

Figuring they can't get away with poll taxes or literacy tests (not yet anyway) the latest way to whiten and conservatize the vote is the voter ID scam. For years rightists have yelled about stopping "voter fraud." This obviously does exist here and there, but in fact the serious fraud has been from the right. Consider the previous two stolen Presidential elections and the flagrant partisan manipulation of the vote count and the use of security-free electronic voting machines by Republican state governments in Florida and Ohio.

"Voter Fraud" is a synonym for the offense of "voting while being non-white." An obvious flaw in our great whiteocracy...err, I mean, democracy. One solution to stem the surging horde of darker skin voters is the ID law.

The fired-up white reactionary base will show up at the polls, acceptable ID in hand. But others will forget, or not have a driver's license, or not quite meet the standards being enforced by some racist election official. Poor whites are less likely to have up-to-date, designated IDs as well. Since poor white voter might even not vote for Republicans, they can qualify as non-whites who shouldn't be voting.

State voter ID laws have been gaining ground over the years in Republican run Southern states over the last few years. Now, with the new 2010 crop of Republican governors and state legislators across the country, the trend is going national. Ohio, Indiana, Michigan and other states have enacted or are inacting laws that try to prevent the "wrong" people from voting. Democracy is a great thing, huh?

Of course restricting the franchise has been a time honored tradition in our fair land. From the start only white, male property owners could vote. It took decades of popular struggle to expand the franchise to get to a place where there could possible be a reasonable approximation of fairness and democracy.

Now that "somewhat" democratic system just won't do. Sigh, it's such a struggle to "maintain election security" these days. But some white man...I mean somebody's got to do it.