Sunday, April 27, 2014

The Dirty Hand of the National Endowment for Democracy in Venezuela

Weekend Edition April 25-27, 2014
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Agents of Destabilization


Anti-government protests in Venezuela that seek regime change have been led by several individuals and organizations with close ties to the US government. Leopoldo Lopez and Maria Corina Machado- two of the public leaders behind the violent protests that started in February – have long histories as collaborators, grantees and agents of Washington. The National Endowment for Democracy “NED” and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have channeled multi-million dollar funding to Lopez’s political parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and Machado’s NGO Sumate and her electoral campaigns.

These Washington agencies have also filtered more than $14 million to opposition groups in Venezuela between 2013 and 2014, including funding for their political campaigns in 2013 and for the current anti-government protests in 2014. This continues the pattern of financing from the US government to anti-Chavez groups in Venezuela since 2001, when millions of dollars were given to organizations from so-called “civil society” to execute a coup d’etat against President Chavez in April 2002. After their failure days later, USAID opened an Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) in Caracas to, together with the NED, inject more than $100 million in efforts to undermine the Chavez government and reinforce the opposition during the following 8 years.

At the beginning of 2011, after being publically exposed for its grave violations of Venezuelan law and sovereignty, the OTI closed its doors inVenezuela and USAID operations were transferred to its offices in the US. The flow of money to anti-government groups didn’t stop, despite the enactment by Venezuela’s National Assembly of the Law of Political Sovereignty and NationalSelf-Determination at the end of 2010, which outright prohibits foreign funding of political groups in the country. US agencies and the Venezuelan groups that receive their money continue to violate the law with impunity. In the Obama Administration’s Foreign Operations Budgets, between $5-6 million have been included to fund opposition groups in Venezuela through USAID since 2012.

The NED, a “foundation” created by Congress in 1983 to essentially do the CIA’s work overtly, has been one of the principal financiers of destabilization in Venezuela
9781566566476_p0_v1_s260x420throughout the Chavez administration and now against President Maduro. According to NED’s 2013 annual report, the agency channeled more than $2.3 million to Venezuelan opposition groups and projects. Within that figure, $1,787,300 went directly to anti-government groups within Venezuela, while another $590,000 was distributed to regional organizations that work with and fund the Venezuelan opposition. More than $300,000 was directed towards efforts to develop a new generation of youth leaders to oppose Maduro’s government politically.

One of the groups funded by NED to specifically work with youth is FORMA (, an organization led by Cesar BriceƱo and tied to Venezuelan banker Oscar Garcia Mendoza. Garcia Mendoza runs the Banco Venezolano de Credito, a Venezuelan bank that has served as the filter for the flow of dollars from NED and USAID to opposition groups in Venezuela, including Sumate, CEDICE, Sin Mordaza, Observatorio Venezolano de Prisiones and FORMA, amongst others.

Another significant part of NED funds in Venezuela from 2013-2014 was given to groups and initiatives that work in media and run the campaign to discredit the government of President Maduro. Some of the more active media organizations outwardly opposed to Maduro and receiving NED funds include Espacio Publico, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS), Sin Mordaza and GALI. Throughout the past year, an unprecedented media war has been waged against the Venezuelan government and President Maduro directly, which has intensified during the past few months of protests.

In direct violation of Venezuelan law, NED also funded the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Table (MUD), via the US International Republican Institute (IRI), with $100,000 to “share lessons learned with [anti-government groups] in Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia…and allow for the adaption of the Venezuelan experience in these countries”. Regarding this initiative, the NED 2013 annual report specifically states its aim: “To develop the ability of political and civil society actors from Nicaragua, Argentina and Bolivia to work on national, issue-based agendas for their respective countries using lessons learned and best practices from successful Venezuelan counterparts. The Institute will facilitate an exchange of experiences between the Venezuelan Democratic Unity Roundtable and counterparts in Bolivia, Nicaragua and Argentina. IRI will bring these actors together through a series of tailored activities that will allow for the adaptation of the Venezuelan experience in these countries.”

IRI has helped to build right-wing opposition parties Primero Justicia and Voluntad Popular, and has worked with the anti-government coaltion in Venezuela since before the 2002 coup d’etat against Chavez. In fact, IRI’s president at that time, George Folsom, outwardly applauded the coup and celebrated IRI’s role in a pressrelease claiming, “The Institute has served as a bridge between the nation’s political parties and all civil society groups to help Venezuelans forge a new democratic future…”

Detailed in a report published by the Spanish institute FRIDE in 2010, international agencies that fund the Venezuelan opposition violate currency control laws in order to get their dollars to the recipients. Also confirmed in the FRIDE report was the fact that the majority of international agencies, with the exception of the European Commission, are bringing in foreign money and changing it on the black market, in clear violation of Venezuelan law. In some cases, as the FRIDE analysis reports, the agencies open bank accounts abroad for the Venezuelan groups or they bring them the money in hard cash. The US Embassy in Caracas could also use the diplomatic pouch to bring large quantities of unaccounted dollars and euros into the country that are later handed over illegally to anti-government groups in Venezuela.

What is clear is that the US government continues to feed efforts to destabilize Venezuela in clear violation of law. Stronger legal measures and enforcement may be necessary to ensure the sovereignty and defense of Venezuela’s democracy.

Eva Golinger is the author of The Chavez Code. She can be reached through her blog.

Friday, April 25, 2014

CNN’s “Chicagoland” Was Fake Documentary, An Infomercial to Glorify Rahm

By dianeravitch
April 25, 2014

Bill Ruthhart, a reporter for the Chicago Tribune, reviewed hundreds of emails about CNN’s “Chicagoland” and discovered that the “documentary” was an infomercial for controversial Mayor Rahm Emanuel. CNN honored him at the very time that he took the historically unprecedented step of closing 50 public schools. CNN has no shame.

He writes:

“If it seemed as though some scenes of CNN’s documentary series “Chicagoland” were coordinated by Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s City Hall and the show’s producers, that’s because they were.

“More than 700 emails reviewed by the Tribune reveal that the production team worked hand in hand with the mayor’s advisers to develop storylines, arrange specific camera shots and review news releases officially announcing the show.

“Producers asked the mayor’s office to help them set up key interactions in what the cable network has billed as a nonscripted eight-part series, including Emanuel’s visits with the school principal who emerged as a star of the show, emails show.

“City Hall’s frequent correspondence with the producers illustrates how senior aides to a mayor known for shaping his media image managed how their boss would be portrayed on CNN to a prime time national audience.

“The production team for the series, whose final episode aired Thursday night, told Emanuel’s staff that particular scenes would present the mayor in a positive light, with one of the producers expressing a desire to showcase the mayor “as the star that he really is.”

“Creator and executive producer Marc Levin made a pitch to the mayor’s office last May as Emanuel’s hand-picked school board was two days away from a vote to close nearly 50 schools.”

Israel's Oslo paradox

This is not the first time, and perhaps not the last, that the idea of dismantling the Palestinian Authority (PA) and “returning the keys to Israel” is being bandied around in the diplomatic vacuum. Already in August 2008, in the days of the Ehud Olmert government, Sari Nusseibeh, president of Al-Quds University, told me the following: “I suggested that the [Palestinian] Authority announce that if we don’t reach an agreement by the end of the year, it will dissolve itself and return the keys to Israel.”
Summary⎙ Print Dismantling the Palestinian Authority will bring neither security nor order, will cost Israel about $2.7 billion a year and will add more injustice in construction zones allotted to Palestinians.
Author Akiva Eldar Posted April 24, 2014
Translator(s)Ruti Sinai

Nusseibeh, who partnered with former Shin Bet chief Ami Ayalon in the agreement termed “The People’s Voice” (two states based on the ‘67 borders, with no right of return for the Palestinians), asserted, “We have 160,000 civil servants. Half of them are security personnel who don’t provide us with any security. We spend a fortune on rifles that are used to fight each other.” He also said he had begged European leaders to stop financial assistance to the PA, since it had turned out to be leveraging the continued occupation instead of ending it. He said that according to international law, on the day after the PA is dismantled, Israel will have to go back to funding the occupation on its own, the way it did during its military rule in the territories that preceded the Oslo Accord.

A senior officer in the civil administration confirmed to me at the time that Nusseibeh’s assessment was correct. He said he suffered from nightmares in which then-PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad announced he has fired all the PA’s employees, including the security forces. Before bidding him farewell and shutting the door to his office, Fayyad handed him the keys to the hospitals, schools, welfare services and the planning and building entities.

It would be interesting to know what that officer, who was just promoted to a very senior post in the defense establishment, thinks of the reaction of Naftali Bennett, chairman of the HaBayit HaYehudi Party and economy minister, to the “returning the keys” threat by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Bennett, speaking to reporters on April 20, joked, “With such threats, who needs good wishes?”

Bennett is the last person who should be laughing. An end to the 20-year PA chapter is also an end to the interim agreement that divided the West Bank into three areas: Area A (under full security and civil control by the PA), Area B (civil control by the PA and security control by Israel) and Area C (full Israeli control). Israel will no longer be able to claim that more than 90% of the West Bank’s Palestinian residents are under PA control (according to Bennett, about 50,000 Palestinians live in Area C, whereas according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the number is three times higher).

As far as the international community and international law go, the day the PA is dismantled, all the areas beyond the Green Line will have the same status — an occupied area under full Israeli control. The claim that dismantling the PA constitutes a violation of the Oslo Accord will not help Israel impose law and order in the territories. According to conservative estimates, reimposing military rule in the territories will cost the Israeli Treasury NIS 14 billion ($2.7 billion) a year.

The collapse of the diplomatic process and the dismantling of the PA will bring to the fore the paradox of Oslo with full force: The same right-wingers who incited against the agreement and condemned its initiators turned it into a self-serving tool for the construction of more and more foundations for thousands of houses in settlements and outposts. In Area C, they broke all records — some 70% of Area C, which covers about 60% of the West Bank, was allotted to the settlers. In 29% of the remaining 30%, the Palestinians are banned, in practice, from building. Given that Areas A and B are densely populated (the World Bank has determined that the municipal grounds in these areas had been almost completely used up), there is only 1% left for the future habitation of the Palestinian population.

It is important to note that Israel operates a duplicate planning system in Area C. The first is the Military Planning Committee, which has no Palestinian representatives, even though its members set the policy for construction in Palestinian villages. Then there is the Civil Planning Committee, in which only settlers are represented, and is designated only for them. This planning structure inevitably results in a situation where Palestinians face discrimination when compared to the settlers.

Ever since the signing of the Interim Agreement (Oslo II) two decades ago, the population of the West Bank has grown from 1.5 million to 2.7 million. The Military Planning Committee has designated Palestinian villages a greater population density than New York or Central London, whereas the settlements were granted extensive land for development and municipal boundaries that are significantly larger than is the norm in Israel.

Furthermore, an OCHA report has disclosed that in the absence of a proper planning network in Area C, most Palestinians are unable to obtain building permits, and their requests for permits are, for the most part, denied. As a result, Palestinians living in Area C have simply stopped requesting building permits from the Military Planning Committee, and have instead started building without permits, as documented in a report by nongovernmental organization Bimkom. As a result, some 700 residential buildings were demolished between 2006 and 2014, leaving 3,400 people, including 1,600 children, without a roof over their heads. Even secondary structures such as animal shelters are demolished on a routine basis.

On April 28, the Supreme Court is slated to deliberate over a petition to restore planning rights in Area C to the Palestinians through the reinstatement of local committees, which operated in the villages of the West Bank until 1971. The petition was submitted by the village council of Dirat-Rifa’iya and various human rights organizations, headed by Rabbis for Human Rights. It has the legal backing of several internationally renowned authorities in this area of the law, including professor Marco Sassoli and professor Eyal Benvenisti, both of whom are of the opinion that the Israeli policy also violates international law.

The petitioners wonder why the settlements have 20 local planning committees, while the Palestinians do not even have one. And they wonder why the supervision of Palestinian construction cannot be overseen by Palestinian planning and building committees, and must be under the exclusive oversight of the Israeli military government. To this petition was added a deposition by Shlomo Khayat, the manager at the time of the planning committee in the Judea and Samaria region during the military rule (1971-80), recommending to add Palestinians in these local committees since their initial absence was acceptable in a temporary agreement.

In its response to the petition, the state rejects claims of discrimination or that the current situation is harmful to the Palestinian population. It contends that the local planning committees in the Palestinian villages were disbanded “out of military necessity on the one hand, and humanitarian considerations on the other.”

What is that enigmatic “military necessity” that obliges the Israel Defense Forces to conduct all planning for the residents of Palestinian villages? What possible “humanitarian consideration” could there be for taking control of planning from the Palestinian villages and transferring it to the Israeli military? How can the massive destruction of homes or reservoirs used to collect rainwater and other facilities vital to survival possibly be a display of humanitarian sensitivity?

It is completely coincidental that deliberations on the petition will take place just one day before the expiration of the nine-month deadline for negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians over a permanent solution. It is difficult to determine whether the parties will overcome the assortment of obstacles, compounded by the apparent reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas, and continue to plod along with the “Oslo process.”

The settlers’ government, which exploited the Oslo Accord to confiscate 60% of the West Bank’s territory for the benefit of the settlers, should pray that the Palestinians do not hand them back the keys. If the Oslo Accord did not exist, they would have had to invent it.
Akiva Eldar

Akiva Eldar is a columnist for Al-Monitor’s Israel Pulse. He was formerly a senior columnist and editorial writer for Haaretz and also served as the Hebrew daily’s US bureau chief and diplomatic correspondent. His most recent book (with Idith Zertal), Lords of the Land, on the Jewish settlements, was on the best-seller list in Israel and has been translated into English, French, German and Arabic.

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Khalidi: It's Time for Palestinians `to get off their knees' and Turn to Europe and ICC

Philip Weiss
April 24, 2014

Rashid Khalidi said today that the US opposition to the reunification of Palestinian parties exposes the "farce" that is the peace process. It is in fact a "bring them to the table on their knees process," and the U.S. rejects a Northern Ireland model- in which George Mitchell negotiated among all parties to the conflict- because the Israel lobby won't let it pursue that course.

Palestinian Fatah delegation chief Azzam al-Ahmed shakes hands with Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu Marzuk in the presence of Hamas Prime Minister in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh, after signing a reconciliation agreement in Gaza on April 23, 2014., Photo by Said Khatib/AFP/Getty Images //,

And what does the future hold? Europe should put its foot down and distance itself from Netanyahu's "obduracy and intransigence," Khalidi said. And now that John Kerry's promises of progress are "null and void," the Palestinians should seek to join the International Criminal Court.

Palestinians don't need permission from anyone to demand self-determination, Khalidi said. The US didn't ask for permission in declaring independence. The Israelis didn't, either.

The Columbia historian and former adviser to the PLO spoke on a conference call set up by the Institute for Middle East Understanding.

here are some of Khalidi's lines:

A two state solution was possible in the 90s. Now it is "absolutely impossible in the view of most sane observers."

"This process can't lead anywhere." Netanyahu has been "absolutely obdurate and intransigent in the 8 months so far" and is "about to be even more obdurate and intransigent" in response to Palestinian reunification moves.

Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state is something he "pulled out of a hat." Khalidi never heard it before. But then the U.S. has echoed it, demonstrating the "identity of US and Israeli positions."

Michael Brown of IMEU asked about the American demand that Palestinian parties all commit to nonviolence: "When has the US asked Israel in turn to also be nonviolent?" Khalidi:

The brief answer is never in my memory. There's actually a double standard here... Unending grinding violence [in the occupation] is never remarked upon by the State Department... The only people who are held to that kind of standard of course are the Palestinians.

And in another instance of the double standard, Hamas is told it must recognize Israel's right to exist, but Israel has never recognized "the inalienable right of self determination of Palestinians in their homeland." And the U.S. aligns with Israel:

The kind of unambiguous recognition that is demanded of the Palestinians is never demanded of Israel.

So this is not a peace process but a "bring them to the table on their knees process," a "subjugation" process.

Khalidi observed this himself. In 1991 Secretary of State James Baker assured Palestinians there would be a settlement freeze. The U.S. never followed through on that commitment, and Obama failed on the very same promise. Baker also said that a Palestinian state would be based on 1967 borders. Obama has also nullified that promise.

Congress and AIPAC constrain what the Obama administration can do. And "Congress lives in a parallel reality on the Palestine issue," Khalidi said. "Even staffers that know better don't dare utter the truth because that's a toxic environment..."

On reunification: Hamas is weak today because it banked on the Morsi government's support in Egypt, and that's over; and because Palestinian public opinion is not favorable toward it.

Reunification would mean "crunch time" inside Hamas, Khalidi said. Some members of Hamas are perfectly willing to allow Fatah to negotiate for a sovereign contiguous Palestinian state with a capital in Jerusalem, and a popular referendum to approve it. Other Hamas leaders don't approve of the process. Those two wings of Hamas have to resolve that difference.

And Fatah will have to decide that it's going to take itself off the "morphine drip of American and Israeli support for essentially being a service agency for the occupation."

At first Obama seemed to understand that an agreement had to include all Palestinian parties, just as the Northern Ireland deal included Irish forces committed to violence. That is why he dispatched George Mitchell, who had negotiated the Irish peace.

"Basically Mitchell was sent back by Congress," Khalidi said. He was told, "You can't do this [talk to Hamas], this is illegal." And Congress, driven by AIPAC, told the administration they wouldn't allow any kind of Northern Ireland route.

The Obama administration still smarts from that defeat.

What will change that dynamic? The EU must take a stronger role, and say, This is not the Palestinians' fault, it is Israel's, and we have to play a part in these talks because our security depends upon it: we're close to the region, we need the energy, and our own Muslim population is alienated by this policy.

"We insist on our voices being heard," Khalidi imagines Europe saying. And then the Israelis wouldn't be able to hide themselves behind Americans, but would get a "reality check."

Should Palestinians seek to join the International Criminal Court now?

"If I were the Palestinians, I would say that the agreement that they entered into at the beginning of the Kerry round... is now null and void because there's been no progress whatsoever," Khalidi said. The Palestinians had promised Kerry not to seek standing at the ICC because they were promised they'd see rapid progress in peace talks. Now we know that's a "farce." And so they could well conclude:

"So this thing is over, and therefore they should start joining not just the ICC but all kinds of other UN bodies. I don't see any downside to this. The idea that the Palestinians don't have a right to self determination is unacceptable."

Khalidi said. Israel didn't depend on external approval when it declared its independence, he said; it didn't ask for Palestinian permission in 1948. A Palestinian state might well require negotiation to come into existence, but Palestinians must not "go on their knees." He said,

"So I see absolutely no reason why the Palestinians should refrain from doing that [going to the ICC]... The Palestinians have absolutely nothing to lose."

The downside, Khalidi said, would be the end of comfort for the Palestinians on the West Bank who have come to depend on international subsidy.

As for civil society, Khalidi said he sees Kerry's failure strengthening the call for boycott, divestment and sanctions. It's essential for Palestinians to strengthen their position and put pressure on Israel; BDS does so.

He said, "If you don't want the Palestinians to use violence and you won't approve of their using things like BDS, are you saying that they must remain on their knees for the rest of eternity?"

Rashid Khalidi is an American historian of the Middle East, the Edward Said Professor of Modern Arab Studies at Columbia University, and director of the Middle East Institute of Columbia's School of International and Public Affairs. He is a former adviser to the PLO.
credit - Mondoweiss

[Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of]

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Another stillborn Palestinian “reconciliation”

from The Electric Intifada

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Wed, 04/23/2014 - 20:05

Alongside the endless and sterile Palestinian-Israeli “peace process” is another long-running saga: the “peace process” between the main Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah.

Hamas runs the wing of the Palestinian Authority besieged and isolated in the Gaza Strip, while Fatah, with full support from the United States, the European Union, Israel and Arab regimes, runs the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.

Today, with much fanfare, leaders of Hamas and the Fatah-dominated Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) signed a “reconciliation” agreement in Gaza.

Its terms include forming a “national unity government” headed by Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas within five weeks and elections in the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank within six months.
Not so fast

“This is the good news we tell our people: the era of division is over,” Ismail Haniyeh, prime minister of the Hamas-run wing of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza, said at the press conference announcing the deal.

The excitement with which many Palestinians have greeted the deal reflects real public frustration with the long-running division and yearning for a truly national leadership.

But Haniyeh’s declaration is more than a little premature. This “reconciliation” is not going to be any more successful than previous deals signed in Cairo in 2011, in Doha in 2012 and again in Cairo in 2012.
Fundamental differences

The reasons are straightforward: the differences between Fatah and Hamas are fundamental and have not changed.

Hamas, although it is currently observing a November 2012 ceasefire it negotiated with Israel, remains committed to military resistance. Abbas remains committed to active collaboration – politely termed “security coordination” – aimed at dismantling all Palestinian capacity for military resistance to Israel.

There is no middle ground between these positions and no trust on the ground between the US-supervised, Abbas-run security forces and Hamas’ own police and military forces.
Good relations with occupation

Just yesterday the Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Abbas reaffirmed that “as far as he was concerned the security coordination with Israel would continue as long as he remains in office.”

“It is a duty, not a choice,” Abbas said. “Even when there was no negotiation we continued the security coordination in order to prevent bloodshed and chaos. Our relationship with the [Israeli] military and security ranks is good, and we are interested in maintaining it.”

Following the last West Bank-Gaza elections in 2006, Abbas’ authority conspired with Israel, Egypt and the United States to undermine the national unity government of the time. The US-backed coup plot led to a brief and bloody Palestinian civil war and the current political division between the West Bank and Gaza.
Abbas: Israel’s unshakable ally

Abbas has remained one of Israel’s most formidable allies in its war against resistance in general and Hamas in particular. Israel gave Abbas advance warning of its 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza. Yet Abbas did nothing to warn Palestinians and spare the lives of the 1,400 mostly civilians Israel killed.

Abbas associates have consistently pressed for Israel’s devastating siege on Gaza to be tightened.

In 2011 alone, according to Israeli sources, Israeli occupation forces and the Palestinian Authority held 764 “joint security meetings” aimed at preventing Palestinian resistance to the occupation.

And as recently as 2012, Abbas publicly begged Israel for weapons which he said he would he would use to ensure Israel’s “security.”

The Abbas-run Palestinian Authority plays precisely the same role as the collaborationist “South Lebanon Army” Israel armed and financed during its 22-year-long occupation of southern Lebanon.

It is simply absurd to imagine a “national unity government” in which one party supports armed resistance and the other side remains fully committed to serving as the Israeli occupation’s native enforcers.
Doomed to fail

It took only hours for Israel and its sponsor the United States to announce their opposition to the latest reconciliation deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would convene his “security cabinet” to discuss the matter, and declared that Abbas could choose between “peace” with Israel or peace with Hamas, but not both.

The US State Department announced – laughably – that the deal could “complicate” nonexistent peace efforts.

The bottom line is this: the Abbas-run PA exists and functions solely at the discretion of Israel and the United States. Israel will not allow a “reconciliation” or elections to proceed if it deems otherwise.

Abbas is permitted no room for maneuver by his handlers. The US recently warned him sternly against dissolving the Palestinian Authority, and now it is once again objecting to reconciliation. Israel and the US want the Palestinian Authority to remain precisely as it is, capable only of serving Israel’s needs.
So why sign the deal?

If there’s no chance of success, why would Hamas and Fatah sign yet another reconciliation deal? For Hamas, it is a move of desperation, isolated as it is in Gaza by the Israeli siege and the US-supported Egyptian coup regime.

For Abbas it is a win-win. He is using Hamas to get back at the US and Israel over the failed negotiations, much the same way as his recent signing of a number of UN treaties. At the same time he knows the deal will go nowhere because Israel and the US will not allow it.

But by signing (another) reconciliation he boosts his own position, washes away his own complicity in Israel’s crimes and – with the blessing of Hamas – cements his image as a legitimate “national leader.”

Palestinians should make no mistake: any reconciliation that leaves a collaborationist PA regime still functioning as Israel’s enforcer can never produce the united leadership capable of standing up to Israel that they yearn for.

While it may serve the short-term political interests of factions, such a deal would only further compromise the rights of the Palestinian people and damage their struggle for liberation.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Random Chance Records single digital release now available

Find it on iTunes, emusic, amazon, rhapsody and other music download portals.

Big Profits in Not-for-Profit Charter Schools

Alan Singer
April 7, 2014
Huffington Post

Charter schools have a very definite purpose in America today. Profits. BIG PROFITS. Non-profit charter school administrators make some very heady profits. Operating non-profit charter schools can be very profitable for charter school executives like Eva Moskowitz. She earns close to a half a million dollars a year ($485,000) for overseeing school programs that serve 6,700 children, yet is opposed to teacher unions and paying rent to have her schools in public buildings

Charter schools have a very definite purpose in America today. Profits. BIG PROFITS., Reclaim Reform,

On Sunday, March 23, 2014 in a speech at Riverside Church in Manhattan, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, faced with declining public opinion poll numbers, made nice to charter school companies and their wealthy backers. He told congregants that his administration and the charter movement have a common goal and share common ground. But de Blasio should not have made nice. They do not share common ground. Many charters, including those not-for-profits operating by leading de Blasio critics, are about making money for top executives. Educating children, when it actually happens, is at best a by-product.

De Blasio backed off in his criticism of charter school companies and their wealthy backers following a $3.6 million television advertising blitz that accused him of abandoning quality education for inner-city Black and Latino children. The campaign was orchestrated by Eva Moskowitz, founder and chief executive officer of the Success Academy Charter Schools, who has a number of wealthy and politically powerful backers. Governor Andrew Cuomo spoke at a pro-charter rally organized by Moskowitz and targeted extra funds for charters in the state budget. Moskowitz and Success Academy received financial support from 2007 to 2013 from among others the Robin Hood ($1 million), William Simon ($75,000), Tiger ($850,000), Walmart ($4.6 million), MRM ($400,000) and Broad ($11.4 million) Foundations, as well as donations from hedge fund and corporate managers Paul Singer (no relation to me), David Tepper, and Daniel Loeb.

The recent television campaign in support of charters was financed with money from the Walton Family Foundation (Walmart) and hedge fund billionaire Paul Tudor Jones. Jones, less well known than Walmart, was the founder and chair of the Excellence Charter School. After initially being associated with progressive political activities, he drifted to the right and donated heavily to Republican Party presidential campaigns in 2008 and 2012.

Moskowitz targeted de Blasio because he raised questions about the usefulness of the charter schools movement in during his election campaign and blocked her application for three new charter sites in public school buildings. Most of Eva Moskowitz's charges against de Blasio and claims for the superiority of her programs were refuted by Diane Ravitch in a Huffington Post column.

Currently, there are approximately 2.5 million students enrolled in publicly funded charter schools in the United States. These charter schools are operated by both profit-making companies and "not for profit" organizations. In New York City every charter school is operated by what is known as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In New York State, only 16 out of 209 charter schools are operated by for-profit companies. In other states, particularly Michigan, Florida, and Arizona, for-profit companies dominate the charter school movement. In Michigan, about 65% of the charter schools are run by for-profit educational management organizations

However, operating non-profit charter schools can be very profitable for charter school executives like Eva Moskowitz. Moskowitz earns close to a half a million dollars a year ($485,000) for overseeing school programs that serve 6,700 children, which is over $72 per student. By comparison, New York State Education Commissioner is paid a salary of $212,000 to oversee programs with 2.7 million students or about 8 cents per student. In other words, Moskowitz earns about 100 times more than King for each student enrolled in a Success Academy Charter School. Carmen Farina, New York City School Chancellor is paid $212,000 a year to oversee 1.1 million students or about 19 cents per student.

According to my calculations and The New York Times, other non-profit charter school administrators also make some very heady profits. The head of the Harlem Village Academies earns $499,000 to manage schools with 1,355 students or $369 per student. The head of the Bronx Preparatory School earns $338,000 to manage schools with 651 students or over $500 per student. The head of the Our World Charter earns $200,000 to manage schools with a total of 738 students or $271 per student. The local head of the KIPP Charter Network earns $235,000 to manage schools with 2,796 or $84 per student. By comparison, the chief educational officer of Texas is paid $214,999 to manage a system with almost 5 million public school students.

Charter school operators are not the only Not-for-Profit or social entrepreneurs making money off of public schools. Charles Best created so that public school teachers can raise money to pay for class projects. Best and his non-profit organization have received support from Oprah Winfrey, Stephen Colbert, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has been a featured speaker at a Forbes magazine summit on philanthropy. A former public high school teacher in Bronx, New York, he would have been making about $85,000 a year if he remained as a teacher. As a not-for-profit entrepreneur, he makes about three times as much, almost $250,000 a year from plus whatever he earns from lucrative speaking engagements.

Jeremy Kittredge is Executive Director of Families for Excellent Schools, which is listed as a sponsor of television advertisements in the current New York Charter School advertising barrage. According to his Linkedin page, he graduated from Brown University in May 2008, became coordinator of Civic Participation at Democracy Prep in November 2008, Executive Director of Democracy Builders in May 2010, and went to work at Families in July 2011. According to the Families for Excellent Schools, Kittredge was also a public school teacher and union organizer but if his Linkedin site is accurate, he must have done those jobs as a teenager before he went to college. On the organizations 2011 tax forms, Kittredge is listed as earning under $40,000 in his half year of employment, but since then he has twice been listed by Forbes magazine as one of their promising 30 Under 30. I have been unable to find out his income since then but I suspect it is higher. The major funder of Families for Excellent Schools is not surprisingly the Walton Family which gave more than $700,000 from 2012 to 2014.

Robert Hughes and New Visions for Public Schools is another example. New Visions operates 4 charter schools, operates a school support network, and, claims to be the largest education reform organization working to improve New York City public schools. As president of New Visions, Robert Hughes earn[ed] $333,500 in 2012. The highest paid New York City teachers with 22 years of experience can earn $100,000. A New York City high school principal with 22 years of experience as a principal earns $154,000 a year.

I have one misgiving about publishing these figures. Once Eva Moskowitz sees what CEOs are earning at KIPP, Our World, Harlem Village, and Bronx Prep, she will probably be demanding even more money to run her non-profit charter schools.

[Alan Singer is a social studies educator in the Department of Teaching, Literacy and Leadership at Hofstra University in Long Island, New York and the editor of Social Science Docket (a joint publication of the New York and New Jersey Councils for Social Studies). He taught at a number of secondary schools in New York City, including Franklin K. Lane High School and Edward R. Murrow High School. He is the author of Teaching to Learn, Learning to Teach: A Handbook for Secondary School Teachers (LEA, 2003), Social Studies For Secondary Schools, 3nd Edition (Routledge, 2008), New York and Slavery, Time to Teach the Truth (SUNY, 2008), and Teaching Global History (Routledge, 2011).]

Earth Day Network dumps SodaStream and Scarlett Johansson

Submitted by Ali Abunimah on Mon, 04/21/2014 - 15:07

A previous version of the Earth Day Network website showed SodaStream logo.

The Earth Day Network, which promotes the annual Earth Day environmental consciousness initiative, has cut ties to a campaign launched by Israeli occupation profiteer SodaStream and endorsed by its spokesmodel Scarlett Johansson.

The screenshot above shows the SodaStream logo as it appeared previously on the Earth Day Network’s official sponsor page. On the current version of the page, the SodaStream logo is gone.

Here’s the press release from the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation:

Earth Day Network Cuts Ties with SodaStream After Palestinian Rights Groups Decry Greenwashing Campaign

21 April, Washington, DC – On the eve of Earth Day, groups working for Palestinian rights globally are celebrating Earth Day Network’s decision to end its partnership with SodaStream, whose main production factory is located in an illegal Israeli settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Earlier this month, SodaStream, which markets its home carbonating devices as a green alternative to bottled beverages, announced the launch of an awareness-raising campaign centered around the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.
(US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation)

Several articles reported that this “Secret Continent” campaign was developed with Earth Day Network (EDN), which works with more than 22,000 partners in 192 countries to broaden, diversify, and mobilize the environmental movement.

Groups in the United States and abroad mobilized opposition to this partnership between EDN and SodaStream due to the company’s complicity in Israel’s military occupation, including the destruction that Israeli settlements have caused to the Palestinian environment.

In response, EDN’s logo has been removed from the Secret Continent website and EDN no longer lists SodaStream as a sponsor.

“This Secret Continent campaign is a clear example of SodaStream attempting to greenwash its complicity in Israel’s occupation through a public relations stunt. SodaStream appeals to customers by marketing itself as environmentally friendly, but a product manufactured in an illegal settlement on occupied land cannot be ‘green.’ We applaud Earth Day Network for listening to the thousands of concerned individuals who contacted them and sending the message that companies profiting from human rights abuses have no place in the global environmental movement,” said Ramah Kudaimi of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.

PENGON, the Palestinian Environmental NGOs Network, added: “We are happy to see that Earth Day Network cut ties with the Israeli settlement manufacturer SodaStream. Israeli occupation and its settlement enterprise are not environmentally friendly. On the contrary, they are based on the pillage of our land and deplete and pollute our water resources. Over the last 40 years, Israeli occupation has cut hundreds of thousands of trees to make space for their colonization. We call on all environmental organizations and activists to stand with us against the Israeli occupation and its systematic large scale destruction of our land.”

This is the second major controversy this year involving SodaStream’s settlement factory. In January Oxfam International came under fire to drop Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson as a Global Ambassador after she became a Global Brand Ambassador for SodaStream. After an international campaign, Johansson resigned from her role with Oxfam.

“The Earth Day Network is rightfully following the path of Oxfam by disassociating itself from SodaStream, a company that produces its water carbonating devices in an illegal Israeli settlement in occupied Palestinian territory. Jewish Voice for Peace will continue campaigning against SodaStream in Seattle, New York, DC, Minneapolis, Boston, Portland ,and other cities across the U.S. to remind consumers that buying products manufactured in stolen land is neither ethical nor sustainable,” said Sydney Levy of Jewish Voice for Peace.

Since the 2005 call from more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups for the international community to engage in boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) campaigns targeting institutions and corporations complicit in Israel’s oppressive policies towards Palestinians, activists across the globe have been organizing under the slogan “Occupation is Not Green” to convince stores and consumers to boycott SodaStream.

“We congratulate Earth Day Network on doing the right thing by ending its collaboration with SodaStream. After the media firestorm surrounding SodaStream, Scarlett Johansson, and Oxfam, and now this dissolved partnership with Earth Day Network, SodaStream is going to have difficulty finding reputable individuals and groups to help whitewash and greenwash its ugly occupation profiteering,” said Nancy Kricorian of CODEPINK: Women for Peace.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Stop the Wall Campaign in the occupied West Bank, added: “We thank the Earth Day Network for having canceled its cooperation with SodaStream and are grateful to all those people around the world that continue mobilizing to ensure the truth about SodaStream is no secret anymore.”

“While the illegal Wall and the settlements rob Palestinians of their land and resources and lock them up into economically and socially unsustainable enclaves, companies such as SodaStream ensure profitability of the Israeli settlement enterprise by exploiting Palestinian workers who are left without workers’ rights and without any viable alternative to make a living.”

Following a recent visit to the occupied Palestinian territories, Friends of the Earth International chairperson Jagoda Munic condemned what she referred to as the “less visible forms of occupation,” which include toxic waste-dumping, the expropriation and diversion of fresh water sources, and the development of polluting industries close to Palestinian towns.

She called these Israeli governmental policies “truly shocking” and went on to say: “Palestine stands as an example of the link between environmental injustice and social and political injustice.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Matt Taibbi's new book "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap"

Subject: Excerpt: Matt Taibbi on "The Divide: American Injustice in the Age of the Wealth Gap"

Over the course of the last twenty years or so, America has
been falling deeper and deeper into a bizarre statistical mystery.
Take in the following three pieces of information, and see if
you can make them fit together.
First, violent crime has been dropping precipitously for nearly
two decades. At its peak in 1991, according to FBI data, there
were 758 violent crimes per 100,000 people. By 2010 that
number had plunged to 425 crimes per 100,000, a drop of
more than 44 percent.
The decrease covered all varieties of serious crime, from
murder to assault to rape to armed robbery. The graphs
depicting the decline show a long, steady downswing, one that
doesn’t jump from year to year but consistently slumps from
year to year.
Second: although poverty rates largely declined during the
1990s, offering at least one possible explanation for the drop in
violent crime, poverty rates rose sharply during the 2000s. At
the start of that decade, poverty levels hovered just above
10 percent. By 2008 they were up to 13.2 percent. By 2009 the
number was 14.3 percent. By 2010, 15.3 percent.
All this squares with what most people who lived in Middle
America knew, and know, instinctively. Despite what we’re
being told about a post-2008 recovery, despite what the rising
stock market seems to indicate, the economy is mostly worse,
real incomes are mostly declining, and money is mostly
But throughout all this time, violent crime has gone down. It
continues to decline today. Counter intuitively, more poverty has not created more crime.
The third piece of information that makes no sense is that
during this same period of time, the prison population in
America has exploded. In 1991 there were about one million
Americans behind bars. By 2012 the number was over
2.2 million, a more than 100 percent increase.
Our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the
history of human civilization. There are more people in the
United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail right now than there were in slavery at its peak.
See if this syllogism works, then.
Poverty goes up;
Crime goes down;
Prison population doubles.
It doesn’t fit, unless some sort of alternative explanation comes
into play. Maybe all those new nonviolent prisoners fit into
some new national policy imperative. Maybe they all broke
some new set of unwritten societal rules. But what?
While on a visit to San Diego to do research for this book, I
heard a crazy story. The subject was the city’s P100 program, under which anyone who applied for welfare could have his or her home searched preemptively by the state. Ostensibly, authorities
were looking for evidence that the applicant had a secret job or
a boyfriend who could pay bills, or was just generally lying
about something in order to cheat the taxpayer out of that
miserable few hundred bucks a month.
One Vietnamese woman, a refugee and a rape victim who
had only recently come to America, applied for welfare in San
Diego. An inspector came to her door, barged in, and began
rifling through her belongings. At one point, he reached into her
underwear drawer and began sifting around. Sneering, he used
the tip of the pencil eraser to pull out a pair of sexy panties and
looked at her accusingly. If she didn’t have a boyfriend, what
did she need these for?
That image, of a welfare inspector sneeringly holding up
panties with a pencil end, expresses all sorts of things at once.
The main thing is contempt. The implication is that someone
broke enough to ask the taxpayer for a handout shouldn’t have
sex, much less sexy panties.
The other thing here is an idea that being that poor means
you should naturally give up any ideas you might have about
privacy or dignity. The welfare applicant is less of a person for
being financially dependent (and a generally unwelcome
immigrant from a poor country to boot), so she naturally has
fewer rights.
No matter how offensive the image is, it has a weird logic
that’s irresistible to many if not most Americans. Even if we
don’t agree with it, we all get it.
And that’s the interesting part, the part where we all get it.
More and more often, we all make silent calculations about who
is entitled to what rights, and who is not. It’s not as simple as
saying everyone is the same under the law anymore. We all
know there’s another layer to it now.
As a very young man, I studied the Russian language in
Leningrad, in the waning days of the Soviet empire. One of the
first things I noticed about that dysfunctional wreck of a lunatic
country was that it had two sets of laws, one written and one
unwritten. The written laws were meaningless, unless you
violated one of the unwritten laws, at which point they became
So, for instance, possessing dollars or any kind of hard
currency was technically forbidden, yet I never met a Soviet
citizen who didn’t have them. The state just happened to be
very selective about enforcing its anticommerce laws. So the
teenage farsovshik (black market trader) who sold rabbit hats in
exchange for blue jeans outside my dorm could be arrested for
having three dollars in his pocket, but a city official could openly
walk down Nevsky Avenue with a brand-new Savile Row suit
on his back, and nothing would happen.
Everyone understood this hypocrisy implicitly, almost at a
cellular level, far beneath thought. For a Russian in Soviet
times, navigating every moment of citizenship involved
countless silent calculations of this type. But the instant people
were permitted to think about all this and question the unwritten
rules out loud, it was like the whole country woke up from a
dream, and the system fell apart in a matter of months. That
happened before my eyes in 1990 and 1991, and I never forgot
Now I feel like I’m living that process in reverse, watching my
own country fall into a delusion in the same way the Soviets
once woke up from one. People are beginning to become
disturbingly comfortable with a kind of official hypocrisy.
Bizarrely, for instance, we’ve become numb to the idea that
rights aren’t absolute but are enjoyed on a kind of sliding scale.
CREDIT LINE: Excerpted from THE DIVIDE: American Injustice in
the Age of the Wealth Gap by Matt Taibbi. Copyright © 2014

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Joint Statement on Palestinian Prisoners’ Day:


*Israel must heed international calls to respect human rights of
Palestinians held in Israeli prisons*

17 April 2014

Today, on 17 April 2014, Palestinians around the world commemorate
Prisoners’ Day in solidarity with thousands of Palestinian prisoners and
detainees held in Israeli prisons.

To mark this important day in Palestinian society, four human rights
organizations – Adalah, Al Mezan, Physicians for Human Rights-Israel, and
the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel – are issuing this joint
statement to call upon the international community to urge Israel to heed
growing international statements and recommendations to guarantee and
protect the human rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees in Israeli

Since 1967, Israel has detained and imprisoned over 800,000 Palestinians as
a means of maintaining and consolidating Israel’s control of the Occupied
Palestinian Territory (OPT). Today, according to Addameer, more than 5,200
Palestinian prisoners and
detainees; –
including women and children, pre-Oslo Accords prisoners, and elected
Members of the Palestinian Legislative Council – are being held in prisons
located inside Israel, in contravention of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

Israel’s violations of Palestinian prisoners’ basic human
the use of administrative detention without formal charge or trial; severe
restrictions on family visits, lack of access to healthcare and independent
doctors, and access to education; collective punishments such as solitary
confinement; forced strip searches; violent night-time raids on inmates;
and other practices that constitute torture or cruel, inhuman and degrading
treatment. In addition to these policies, Israel is proposing new laws,
such as the Anti-Terror Bill and the Force-feeding Bill, which threaten to
further infringe on the basic rights of Palestinian prisoners and detainees.

Despite these continued practices, this year’s Prisoners’ Day comes at a
time of increasing international scrutiny and criticism towards Israel’s
treatment of Palestinians in Israeli prisons:

*European Parliament: *In March 2014, members of the European Parliament
conducted a Fact-Finding Mission to assess the conditions and polices
towards Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons. The mission was held in
accordance with a European Parliament
on 14 March 2013, following the death of prisoner Arafat
Israeli custody. An investigation by a leading international forensic
pathologist found that Jaradat had suffered acts of
torture; during
custody and that this had led to his death, contradicting Israel's account
that Jaradat died of 'natural causes'.

*European Union: *The EU also issued its European Neighborhood Policy (ENP)
report ; on
Israel in March 2014, in which it highlighted continued complaints of the
use of torture by Israel and the lack of investigations into these
complaints. The EU further expressed concern of the continued excessive use
of administrative detention, and emphasized the need to implement the
recommendations of the Turkel Commission Report to ensure accountability of
Israel’s security services. The EU ENP report echoed many of the issues
highlighted in a joint NGO
by the four partners in October 2013 regarding the human rights of
prisoners and detainees in Israeli prisons.

*United Nations:* In June 2013, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
(CRC) issued harsh concluding
Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children detainees and prisoners,
including harsh arrests and detentions of minors, night-time raids on
Palestinian homes, denial of family supervision or contact during custody,
solitary confinement against minors as punishment, and psychological and
physical violence by police and security forces that constitute forms of
torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.

We call upon the international community to demand that Israel incorporate
these international recommendations in order to address the deteriorating
human rights conditions of Palestinian prisoners and to end its breaches of
international law. We demand that Israel end the practice of torture and
ill-treatment against Palestinian prisoners, end its use of administrative
detention, and end the severe tactics of arrest and detention of
Palestinian minors. We further demand that Israel ends all discriminatory
legislation that target the rights of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, and
that it ensures transparency and accountability of Israeli security and
prison authorities.

*Read more: **Joint report on the human rights of Palestinian prisoners and
detainees, October

*Signing organizations:*

Adalah - The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

Al Mezan Center for Human Rights

Physicians for Human Rights-Israel (PHR-I)

Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI)

[image: Inline image 2]


Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It's Not a Democracy

Tom McKay's avatar image By Tom McKay April 16, 2014

Princeton Concludes What Kind of Government America Really Has, and It's Not a Democracy

The news: A new scientific study from Princeton researchers Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page has finally put some science behind the recently popular argument that the United States isn't a democracy any more. And they've found that in fact, America is basically an oligarchy.

An oligarchy is a system where power is effectively wielded by a small number of individuals defined by their status called oligarchs. Members of the oligarchy are the rich, the well connected and the politically powerful, as well as particularly well placed individuals in institutions like banking and finance or the military.

For their study, Gilens and Page compiled data from roughly 1,800 different policy initiatives in the years between 1981 and 2002. They then compared those policy changes with the expressed opinion of the United State public. Comparing the preferences of the average American at the 50th percentile of income to what those Americans at the 90th percentile preferred, as well as the opinions of major lobbying or business groups, the researchers found out that the government followed the directives set forth by the latter two much more often.

It's beyond alarming. As Gilens and Page write, "the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." In other words, their statistics say your opinion literally does not matter.

That might explain why mandatory background checks on gun sales supported by 83% to 91% of Americans aren't in place, or why Congress has taken no action on greenhouse gas emissions even when such legislation is supported by the vast majority of citizens.

This problem has been steadily escalating for four decades. While there are some limitations to their data set, economists Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saez constructed income statistics based on IRS data that go back to 1913. They found that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us is much bigger than you would think, as mapped by these graphs from the Center On Budget and Policy Priorities:

Piketty and Saez also calculated that as of September 2013 the top 1% of earners had captured 95% of all income gains since the Great Recession ended. The other 99% saw a net 12% drop to their income. So not only is oligarchy making the rich richer, it's driving policy that's made everyone else poorer.

What kind of oligarchy? As Gawker's Hamilton Nolan explains, Gilens and Page's findings provide support for two theories of governance: economic elite domination and biased pluralism. The first is pretty straightforward and states that the ultra-wealthy wield all the power in a given system, though some argue that this system still allows elites in corporations and the government to become powerful as well. Here, power does not necessarily derive from wealth, but those in power almost invariably come from the upper class. Biased pluralism on the other hand argues that the entire system is a mess and interest groups ruled by elites are fighting for dominance of the political process. Also, because of their vast wealth of resources, interest groups of large business tend to dominate a lot of the discourse. America, the findings indicate, tends towards either of these much more than anything close to what we call "democracy."

In either case, the result is the same: Big corporations, the ultra-wealthy and special interests with a lot of money and power essentially make all of the decisions. Citizens wield little to no political power. America, the findings indicate, tends towards either of these much more than anything close to what we call "democracy" — systems such as majoritarian electoral democracy or majoritarian pluralism, under which the policy choices pursued by the government would reflect the opinions of the governed.

Nothing new: And no, this isn't a problem that's the result of any recent Supreme Court cases — at least certainly not the likes FEC v. Citizens United or FEC v. McCutcheon. The data is pretty clear that America has been sliding steadily into oligarchy for decades, mirrored in both the substantive effect on policy and in the distribution of wealth throughout the U.S. But cases like those might indicate the process is accelerating.

"Perhaps economic elites and interest group leaders enjoy greater policy expertise than the average citizen does," Gilens and Page write. "Perhaps they know better which policies will benefit everyone, and perhaps they seek the common good, rather than selfish ends, when deciding which policies to support.

"But we tend to doubt it."

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Alterman says BDS is helping Netanyahu


James North and Phil Weiss on April 15, 2014 105

The New York Times editorial board refuses to lay blame for the failure of the peace talks on either side. By contrast, Eric Alterman in The Nation is a model of clear thinking. The Israelis and Netanyahu were “never serious about pursuing” a two-state solution in recent talks, Netanyahu wants “a Bantustan-style solution,” and “US audiences may be fooled by Netanyahu’s lip service to a two-state solution, but Israelis are not.”

Then something comes over this calm and persuasive writer, and three-quarters of the way through his column, Alterman starts writing as if he is a man possessed. Maybe something bit him?

Alterman is enraged by the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, BDS, and makes the astonishing claim that BDS is helping Netanyahu pursue the occupation.

Netanyahu and company actually appreciate the misguided efforts of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign in the United States and Europe. As [Avner Inbar, director of the liberal Israeli thinktank Molad] explains, while “the ideologically driven BDS movement likes to claim credit for any instance of international pressure on Israel, it really forestalls such pressure, as the large actors whose actions count in this regard—governments, international agencies and corporations who oppose the occupation—are justifiably reluctant to be associated with the wholesale anti-Israeli rhetoric of the BDS movement.” Right-wing Israelis are therefore able to take advantage of the widespread distaste for “BDS-style rhetoric and tactics, because they know that the more attention the BDS movement receives, the more difficult it will become to build serious international pressure on the occupation itself.” (This is undoubtedly why Mahmoud Abbas opposes BDS as well.)

If BDS is so helpful to Netanyahu’s efforts to maintain the occupation, Hasbara Central sure didn’t get the prime minister’s memo. Israel’s friends have been working overtime out of the expressed concern that BDS represents the greatest threat to Israel. At a secret conference in London aimed at thwarting BDS just last week, Ron Lauder linked it to terrorism. Many others claim that it’s anti-Semitic. Israel lobbyists are trying to get US lawmakers to legislate against it. They are alarmed because, as the New York Times reported in that op-ed yesterday, BDS’s momentum is growing. Some European banks have turned from Israel, the American Studies Association voted for academic boycott of Israel, and the movement’s recent progress has been so dramatic that Netanyahu mentioned BDS 18 times in his speech to AIPAC. “Those who wear the BDS label should be treated exactly as we treat any anti-Semite or bigot,” he said.

Even more bizarre is Alterman’s contention that well-meaning governments and corporations and international agencies oppose the occupation and are just itchin’ to put pressure on Israel. Where’s his evidence? Israel has never paid a price for expansion; it just keeps expanding. Obama called for an end to settlements in 2009 and then promptly reversed himself, lest he lose Haim Saban and other major backers. The Democratic Party has endlessly supported Israel’s colonization of Jerusalem; and the American Jewish community has also been a passive supporter — “breakfast at the Regency,” as David Remnick put it. When Peter Beinart dared to call for boycotting settlement goods, he promptly set off a furious argument here over whether you could boycott Israel even outside the Green Line, in the illegally-occupied territories.

Palestinians didn’t care about that American foodfight; they moved ahead with the boycott call.

BDS is a Palestinian-led movement that has been unhampered by all the tribal and imperial politics that have prevented western governments and corporations from doing one thing to stem Israel’s expansion, from 1948 on. And that’s the problem. Alterman once was able to claim that he was a good American liberal on this issue, representing the left side of American debate, concerned about Palestinian human rights. He’s lost that status to BDS, which is really doing something about Palestinian rights. No wonder he’s lashing out.

Jazz, Cancer and Revolution Fred Ho Lives!

from Counterpunch
April 14, 2014
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Fred Ho, a renowned baritone sax player, Afro-Asian jazz musician, composer, political organizer, revolutionary died on Saturday. In 2006, Fred was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and spent the next 8 years battling the disease in the most public and political arenas– reflected in his book, “Diary of a Radical Cancer Warrior: Fighting Cancer and Capitalism at the Cellular Level.” His fight with cancer alone was extraordinary, I have never seen someone live through so much pain, through operation after operation, chemo, and each time, truly arise from near-death– to announce he had “stage 4” cancer and then play an amazing sax solo, give a talk about eco-socialism, of which he was a pioneer, and explain why he was a luddite.

Two years ago, the Labor/Community Strategy Center, organized “An Afternoon with Fred Ho” in Los Angeles—an event that is considered historic by its 100+ participants and many who have heard the program on my radio show, Voices from the Frontlines. Fred played several baritone saxophone solos, always decked out in super colorful clothes he designed and made himself—which he made sure we knew was his war against the clothing industry. It was a conversation between Fred, Robin D.G. Kelley, Diane Fujino and me. The four of us are very close politically, all share an Afro-centric socialist view of the world, and the conversation went on for almost two hours—spanning jazz, Black history, eco-socialism, the role of the individual in history, ego formation, the essential role of revolutionary improvisation and the struggle against rigid thinking and dogmatism— the imperative to create, do and say original things. Robin who has written the definitive book on Thelonious Monk: The Life and Times of an American Original and Fred got into a long discussion of 12 note scales and how Fred had tried to break with that form and how he formed a big band to break the form of the big band. I remember thinking that I barely understood the complexities of their conversation and had so much to learn about music theory. But that was the point—to be exposed to new ideas and to inform my organizing by a constantly expanding constellation of theory. I most understood the premise that I was taught from the first day I joined the civil rights movement that has guided my work to this day–that breaking the rules is critical to winning the battle of ideas in a struggle with an oppressive system. Diane talked about the the significance of making and writing history, and the critical role the Black movement has played in shaping revolutionary Asian American consciousness—as she has been the author of Heartbeat of Struggle, the biography of Yuri Kochiyama and Samurai Among Panthers, the biography of Richard Aoki.


In the conversation I challenged Fred’s conception that “the old Fred Ho died and the new Fred Ho has been reborn free of egotism” –remarking to Fred that I saw far more continuities in his life than differences and why would he negate such a rich, complex life history. (I tend to do this as well, wanting to believe I have “broken” with a previous view while often there is a leap, not a break, and much of what is “new” is based on much of what I have done before and the historical ideas that have shaped my consciousness.)

What the four of us had in common, was a profound opposition to the entire Eurocentric worldview, what Fred called “manifest destiny Marxism” in which even U.S. socialists talked about their “utopia” as little more than more equitably distributing the spoils of empire. We all shared a once dominant but still relevant view that Black people in the United States are an oppressed nation with the right of self-determination, and an unapologetic Third Worldism in which we shared the assessment of Dr. King that the United States is “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world” We saw the system of imperialism led by the United States as the primary obstacle to human rights, self-determination, and the greatest threat to ecological possibility and the survival of the planet. But most of all it was the type of engaging conversation, discussion, debate, argument, in such a probing and affectionate manner so rare on the left–the type of open ended discussions and inquiries that are so needed for a new revolutionary movement still fighting to come into being.

The New York Times describes Fred’s “Warrior Sisters: The New Adventures of African and Asian Womyn Warriors” (1991), written with the librettist Ann T. Greene combining “the subjects of Chinese folklore, physical combat, domestic abuse, the black power movement and revolutionary feminism.” Ann T. Greene managed Fred’s long journey with cancer, devoted herself to his welfare, and was his representative to the outside world about his illness and organizer of a group of us who supported Fred throughout his journey. It is beyond comprehension what she is feeling now, but for those of us who worked with her for so many years, we witnessed a true angel of mercy, as she was with Fred in the last years, months, weeks, days, hours and minutes.

In that I knew Fred first as a political revolutionary and secondly as a musician, I was often shocked at how influential his music was and the extent of his world-wide recognition. In June 2013 at Fred’s invitation, I came to New York to La MaMa to attend one of the last performances of “Deadly She-Wolf Assassin at Armageddon!” a choreographed martial-arts opera based on the 1970s manga comics of Kazuo Koike. I was in awe to see how he had written a piece in which the narration, music, and martial arts were precisely timed in complete precision. The young baritone sax player, Ben Barson, played Fred’s instrument and music with such energy and power—one of Fred’s students taking center stage while he was alive to see it. That night the cast and friends went to a great Chinese restaurant where they honored Fred and each other. The waiters served course after course and we talked late into the night—all Fred’s events ended with food, drink, and conversation, building community at the cellular level.

Fred challenged me to be more revolutionary and original and challenged the entire 501 c3 culture, including that of my own organization the Labor/Community Strategy center. Our constant struggles helped to clarify and sharpen my own politics and helped us move to the Fight for the Soul of the Cities frame for our work and our No Cars in L.A. campaign.

But given our great unities we also had significant political differences and Fred was principled and generous in his struggles with me. He organized a discussion between us at the National Black Theater in Harlem June 13, 2013. Quincy Saul a member of Scientific Soul Sessions did a very fair and accurate representation of our views.

Eric Mann: An anti-imperialist, eco-socialist future must be grounded in the actual conditions of daily-life and political struggles of working class oppressed nationality populations. People learn and become radicalized through mass, radical, reform struggles, the struggle with the corporations and the state, and the conscious intervention of organizers as political educators bringing theory, ideology, strategy, and tactics to inform that work. We need to build more of these mass campaigns for radical reforms, and do so as revolutionaries, educating about empire, and consolidating victories, concessions and consciousness toward a revolutionary future.

Fred Ho: We need to reject the entire framework of mass society. The practicalities of struggle within this system are toxic, and will literally give us cancer. The accumulation of reforms does not create revolutionary conditions but take us further away from them. The reform struggle deepens colonization to the matrix of modernity. We need to begin an exodus of revolutionary maroonage, where people pull out of the system altogether through the prefigurative production of a future decolonized society.

Still, the evening was marked by mutual affection. We ended our “debate” as Fred called it, with a true embrace, raised held hands, and then we all went out to dinner at a great restaurant in Harlem. (The talks are up on YouTube thanks to film-maker Steven De Castro, whose film, “Jazz, Cancer, and Life: Fred Ho’s Last Year” is in post-production.)

While the system’s leaders of often interchangeable, mass movement’s require many leaders and as many generals and geniuses as we can muster. For us, the loss of a Malcolm or Martin, Harold Washington, Hugo Chavez and Chowke Lumumba before their and our time—and yes, a Fred Ho at 56—are massive blows to the movement. That is why Fred spent his last years building a new generation of leaders, and his Scientific Soul Sessions, his many bands, his endless students, and fortunately, The Fred Ho Reader, Black Panther Suite, so many cds, DVDs, operas, talks are part of a legacy that must be further studied and appreciated.

In his last months, Fred’s last battle with the cancer finally became a reality to all of us. Fred, who had defied gravity and mortality, was finally in transition and moved into hospice care in his apartment in Brookly. But having seen Fred truly rise from the dead endless times—this damn painful journey began in 2006! it was still hard to imagine there would be a finite date for the end of his journey. Will to live? Nobody exhibited it like Fred Ho. Will to shake things up, piss people off, get in your face and demand more, often prescient, sometimes arrogant, but deeply sincere and driven to the bone—absolutely. And for those of us who were his friends and comrades, Fred was a tremendously gentle, generous, and kind man.

For those who knew him and his work we will do everything we can to further popularize and disseminate it. For those who do not yet know who he is and was there will be great joy in discovering him.

Eric Mann is the director of the Labor/Community Strategy Center, host of KPFK Pacifica’s Voices from the Frontlines, and author of Playbook for Progressives: 16 Qualities of the Successful Organizer. He can be reached at

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Modern Language Association Votes on Resolution Condemning Israeli Discrimination Against Palestinan Schools and Academics

The Delegate Assembly of the Modern Language Association approved a resolution critical of Israeli discrimination against Palestinian academics at its meeting on 11 January 2014 in Chicago.

There has been a discussion period from March 17 to April 16, 2014, during which members commented on the resolution on the MLA webpage.

From April 21st through June 1st MLA members will vote to accept or reject the resolution. Below is wording of the resolution and my comments (as a language teacher, I'm an MLA member).

There were a lot of good comments that laid out the history and depth of the Israeli government's oppression of Palestinians concerning education and other topics, so I confined my remarks to why educators in the USA should speak out.

Resolution 2014-1
Whereas Israel has denied academics of Palestinian ethnicity entry into the West Bank;

Whereas these restrictions violate international conventions on an occupying power’s obligation to protect the right to education;

Whereas the United States Department of State acknowledges on its Web site that Israel restricts the movements of American citizens of Palestinian descent;

Whereas the denials have disrupted instruction, research, and planning at Palestinian universities;

Whereas the denials have restricted the academic freedom of scholars and teachers who are United States citizens;

Be it resolved that the MLA urge the United States Department of State to contest Israel’s denials of entry to the West Bank by United States academics who have been invited to teach, confer, or do research at Palestinian universities.

My Comments

This resolution is a very narrowly focused one that deals with a clear injustice. It ought to be adapted by a large majority.

Opponents of the resolution say Israel is being singled out, and why not condemn other nations that practice ethnic or nationality-based discrimination regarding educational opportunities?

It's fine to expose human rights violations universally, but Israel's systematic ethnic discrimination is enabled by our government's uncritical support and massive funding of billions of dollars per year.

It's our tax dollars that perpetuate unjust policies directed against Palestinian schools and students.
Posted 15 Apr 10:32 pm by Richard Congress

Rumsfeld Personifies Our Society

David Swanson
Tuesday, 15 April 2014 10:40

By David Swanson. This article was first published on War is a Crime.

When Donald Rumsfeld used to hold press conferences about the Iraq war, the press corps would giggle at the clever ways in which he refused to actually say anything or answer any questions.

In a new film about Rumsfeld called The Unknown Knowns, the aging criminal is occasionally confronted with evidence that what he's just said is false. He maintains a frozen grin and acts as if nothing has happened. The film's director, interviewing Rumsfeld, never presses the truly uncomfortable points.

The closest the film comes to asking Rumsfeld about the wrongness of launching a war on Iraq is with the question "Wouldn't it have been better not to go there at all?" Not "Wasn't it illegal?" Not "Do you believe 1.4 million Iraqis were killed or only 0.5 million?" Not "When you sleep at your home at the Mt. Misery plantation where they used to beat and whip slaves like Frederick Douglass how do you rank the mass slaughter you engaged in against the crimes of past eras?" Not "Was it at least inappropriate to smirk and claim that 'freedom is untidy' while people were destroying a society?" And to the only question that was asked, Rumsfeld is allowed to get away with replying "I guess time will tell."

Then Rumsfeld effectively suggests that time has already told. He says that candidate Barack Obama opposed Bush-era tactics and yet has kept them in place, including the PATRIOT Act, lawless imprisonment, etc. He might have added that President Obama has maintained the right to torture and rendition even while largely replacing torture with murder via drone. Most crucially for himself, he might have noted that Obama has violated the Convention Against Torture by barring the prosecution of those responsible for recent violations. But Rumsfeld's point is clear when he notes that Obama's conduct "has to validate" everything the previous gang did wrong.

I've long included Rumsfeld on a list of the top 50 Bush-era war criminals, with this description:

"Donald Rumsfeld lives in Washington, D.C., and at former slave-beating plantation "Mount Misery" on Maryland's Eastern Shore near St. Michael's and a home belonging to Dick Cheney, as well as at an estate outside Taos, New Mexico. He took part in White House meetings personally overseeing and approving torture by authorizing the use of specific torture techniques including waterboarding on specific people, and was in fact a leading liar in making the false case for an illegal war of aggression, and pushed for wars of aggression for years as a participant in the Project for the New American Century."

The National Lawyers Guild noted years ago:

"It was recently revealed that Dick Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, George Tenet, and John Ashcroft met in the White House and personally oversaw and approved the torture by authorizing specific torture techniques including waterboarding. President Bush admitted he knew and approved of their actions. 'They are all liable under the War Crimes Act and the Torture Statute,' Professor [Marjorie] Cohn testified. 'Under the doctrine of command responsibility, commanders, all the way up the chain of command to the commander-in-chief, are liable for war crimes if they knew or should have known their subordinates would commit them, and they did nothing to stop or prevent it. The Bush officials ordered the torture after seeking legal cover from their lawyers.'"

This doesn't come up in the movie. Rumsfeld does shamelessly defend abusing and torturing prisoners, and maintains that torturing people protects "the American people," but he passes the buck to the Department of Justice and the CIA and is never asked about the White House meetings described above. When it comes to Abu Ghraib he says he thought "something terrible happened on my watch" as if he'd had nothing to do with it, as if his casual approval of torture and scrawled notes about how he stands up all day and so can prisoners played no part. (He also claims nobody was killed and there was just a bit of nudity and sadism, despite the fact that photos of guards smiling with corpses have been made public -- the movie doesn't mention them.) Asked about abuses migrating from Guantanamo to Iraq, Rumsfeld cites a report to claim they didn't. The director then shows Rumsfeld that the report he cited says that in fact torture techniques migrated from Guantanamo to Iraq. Rumsfeld says he thinks that's accurate, as if he'd never said anything else. Rumsfeld also says that in the future he believes public officials won't write so many memos.

The central lie in Rumsfeld's mind and our society and The Unknown Knowns is probably that irrational foreigners are out to get us. Rumsfeld recounts being asked at his confirmation hearing to become Secretary of So-Called Defense "What do you go to sleep worried about?" The answer was not disease or climate change or car accidents or environmental pollution or starvation any actually significant danger. The answer was not that the United States continues antagonizing the world and creating enemies. There was no sense of urgency to halt injustices or stop arming dictators or pull back from bases that outrage local populations. Instead, Rumsfeld feared another Pearl Harbor -- the same thing his Project for the New American Century had said would be needed in order to justify overthrowing governments in the Middle East.

Rumsfeld describes Pearl Harbor in the movie, lying that no one had imagined the possibility of a Japanese attack there. The facts refute that endlessly repeated lie. Then Rumsfeld tells the same lie about 9-11, calling it "a failure of imagination." What we're going through is a failure of memory. These words "FBI information ... indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York" appeared in an August 6, 2001, briefing of President George W. Bush titled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S."

The movie does a decent job on Rumsfeld's pre-war lies. Rumsfeld tells the camera that nobody in the Bush administration ever tied Saddam Hussein to 9-11. Then the film shows old footage of Rumsfeld himself doing just that. Similar footage could have been shown of numerous officials on numerous occasions. Rumsfeld has clearly been allowed such levels of impunity that delusions have taken over. He rewrites the past in his head and expects everyone else to obediently follow along. As of course Eric Holder's Justice Department has done.

Rumsfeld, in the film, dates the certainty of the decision to invade Iraq to January 11, 2003. This of course predates months of himself and Bush and Cheney pretending no decision had been made, including the January 31, 2003, White House press conference with Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair at which they said they were working to avoid war, after Bush had just privately proposed to Blair a string of cockamamie ideas that might get a war started.

Bizarrely, the film's director Errol Morris asks Rumsfeld why they didn't just assassinate Saddam Hussein instead of attacking the nation of Iraq. He does not ask why the U.S. didn't obey the law. He does not ask about Hussein's willingness to just leave if he could keep $1 billion, as Bush told Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar that Hussein had offered. And even the question asked, Rumsfeld refuses to answer until he makes Morris complicit. Morris had used the word "they," as in "why didn't they just assassinate him?" whereas he clearly should have used the word "you," but Rumsfeld makes him repeat the question using the word "we" before providing an answer. We? We were lied to by a criminal government. We don't take the blame as servants to a flag. Are you kidding? But Morris dutifully asks "Why didn't we just assassinate ... ?"

Rumsfeld replies that "We don't assassinate" and tries hard not to grin. Morris says "but you tried" referring to an attempt to bomb Hussein's location. Rumsfeld excuses that by saying it was "an act of war." This is the same line that human rights groups take on drone murders. (We can't be sure if they're illegal, because President Obama may have written a note and hid it in his shoe that says it's all a part of a war, and war makes murder OK.)

Rumsfeld blames Iraq for not avoiding being attacked. He pretends Iraq pretended to have weapons, even while blaming Iraq for not turning over the weapons that it claimed not to have (and didn't have). The veteran liar lies that he thought he was using the best "intelligence" when he lied about Iraqi weapons, and then passes the buck to Colin Powell.

Rumsfeld and the nation that produced him didn't turn wrong only in the year 2001. Rumsfeld avoided Watergate by being off to Brussels as ambassador to NATO, a worse crime one might argue than Watergate, or at least than Nixon's recording of conversations -- which is all that this movie discusses, and which Rumsfeld describes as "a mistake." Asked if he learned anything from the U.S. war that killed 4 million Vietnamese, Rumsfeld says "Some things work out, some things don't." I think he expected applause for that line. On the topic of meeting with Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, Rumsfeld is allowed to describe his mistake as having been filmed shaking hands with the man he calls a dictator. But he's never asked about having supported Hussein and armed and assisted him, including with weapons that would later (despite having been destroyed) form the basis of the pretended cause of war.

After giving the fun-loving sociopaths of fictional dramas a bad name for two hours, this real person, Donald Rumsfeld, blames war on "human nature" and expresses pretended sadness at future U.S. war deaths, as if 95% of the victims of U.S. wars (the people who live where the wars are fought) never cross his mind at all. And why should they?

David Swanson's wants you to declare peace at His new book is War No More: The Case for Abolition. He blogs at and and works for He hosts Talk Nation Radio. Follow him on Twitter: @davidcnswanson and FaceBook.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Fort Hoodstan

from Counterpunch
Weekend Edition April 4-6, 2014
Blowback in Central Texas


First there was Fayettenam. Now there is Ft. Hoodstan. Fayettenam is the name still used that had its origin in Fayetteville, NC, being called so after soldiers would return after the culture of violence during the Vietnam War (the American War as the Vietnamese aptly call it) to inflict domestic violence and death on their spouses in said community and surroundings, with the Ft. Bragg military base located near the city. It is still referred to as Fayettenam because of the continuing domestic and other forms of violence and killings to the point that even Oprah was compelled to present a program on such not long ago.

From Afghanistan today, now we have Ft. Hoodstan. Obama bears the distinction of the war on Afghanistan being more so his baby, though on his watch American troops were kicked out of Iraq after the bloody mayhem they engendered there. His glum look today is of someone in particular and the U.S. in general realizing inevitable failure and that the wars on Afghanistan and Iraq have come home in a major way, twice now, in 2009 when 13 were slain at Ft. Hood, to now about 20 shot, with at least four dead.

At the time of “Fayettenam’s” origins, that war also came home, among other ways, in the military killings of students at Kent State University. Likewise the blowback (repercussions) as the CIA calls it, from Iraq and Afghanistan have resulted not only from these two Ft. Hood mass killings, but also there was the elaborate plan by another soldier recently to engage in a mass killing on the base before it was thwarted at the last minute. Otherwise it would have been three mass killings there, of what has been made public. The base generals and PR concern is with fronting a happy face instead, covering up much.

There is the blowback of spates of domestic killings, often murder-suicides of military spouses on or near Hood. There is the high rate of domestic spousal and child abuse (and deaths) there, both among the highest rates in the nation and even Texas. In fact nationally military domestic violence is 3-5 times higher than civilian rates. Moreover, military sexual assault is a prominent feature of the military as well.

The media will customarily focus on the personality of a killer without any reference to the social context. The social context is that the violence and murder rates in the U.S., to begin with, are and have been higher than European countries due to the higher levels of inequality here, not personalities. In Europe infants there are the same as infants here, but grow up in societies with more equality, with free provision of health care, with free child care, with free education and thus without the need for the worries and stresses in the U.S. and no need to violently vent frustrations on others much at all in Europe.

Speaking of overall violence, in addition to Ft. Hoodstan’s mass killings and attempted mass killings that have caught the attention of the nation, so did next door Killeen (Fayetteville’s counterpart) when George Henard did his mass killing of some 24 people there, and near Waco about 80 followers of David Koresh, men, women and children were massacred by law enforcement, all of this in the Central Texas area in recent history. It is as if Ft. Hoodstan, and Central Texas, and the country as a whole are OK with the bucket loads of blood on their hands, and also inflicting bloodshed on others around the world, not to mention the Iraq and Afghanistan 7,000 Americans dead and many more inflicted by Bush and Obama with blown-away limbs, PTSD, TBI (traumatic brain injury) by the hundreds of thousands and those psychologically messed-up, and many of these likewise attacking their families and communities. But then that is also what we wrought on them by sending them to Iraq and Afghanistan.

That is one heck of situation. We pay the price for the Bushes and Obamas of the world and so far we have OK’d those abominations and, now, Ft. Hoodstan as the blowback.

Jose Martinez is a university professor.