Green Party Will Protest Monday's Debate

English (US)  October 8th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

By Christine Stuart

CLIFF THORNTON, the Green Party candidate for governor and his campaign will protest the televised debates between the two major parties Monday, Oct. 9 at the Garde Theatre in New London.

Thorton who was asked by Gov. M. Jodi Rell's campaign to join the debate on Sept. 1 was kicked to the curb on Sept. 22 by both Rell and her Democratic opponent New Haven Mayor John DeStefano.

"The only way to address this grave injustice is to protest and demonstrate, loudly and non-violently," Thornton said in a press release Friday.
Full story at CT News Junkie

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    We Can’t Go Home Again

    English (US)  October 7th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


    Sam Bahour in Ramallah, 2003
    (Gale Courey Toensing photo)

    Op-Ed Contributor/New York Times

    By Sam Bahour
    Ramallah, West Bank

    THIRTEEN years ago, I left a comfortable life in the United States for an uncertain future in the West Bank. Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization had just signed the Oslo Accords. Like many others, I saw an opportunity for Palestinians to finally build a society and economy that would lead to freedom — to a thriving Palestine alongside Israel.

    [More:]

    As a Palestinian-American businessman, I was determined to do my part. So I moved to the West Bank city of El Bireh, where my family has lived for centuries. There I helped create a $100 million telecommunications company, which today employs more than 2,000 Palestinians. I earned an M.B.A. through Tel Aviv University. Then I developed a $10 million shopping center — the first of its kind in the Palestinian territories, employing more than 220 Palestinians. I married and had two beautiful daughters.

    Now the Israeli authorities have decided that my life here has come to an end.

    Even after the Oslo Accords were signed and the Palestinian Authority established, Israel retained control of all borders and of the Palestinian Population Registry. Nothing or no one gets into or out of the West Bank and Gaza without Israeli permission. For a dozen years I have waited for Israel to approve my application for Palestinian residency.

    American Jews, indeed Jews from anywhere in the world, can come to Israel and be granted automatic citizenship. Thousands of American Jews freely enter and exit Israel to live in illegal Israeli settlements in the middle of the West Bank. But Palestinians whose families have lived here continually for centuries do not enjoy the same right. I need a residency card from Israel to live with my Palestinian family in my grandfather’s home in the Palestinian West Bank.

    For 13 years, I’ve lived here by renewing my tourist visa every three months. Last month, an Israeli soldier stamped my American passport with a one-month visa and wrote “last permit” on it in Arabic, Hebrew and English. Now I am faced with a terrible choice. I can leave, uprooting my family and abandoning the businesses I’ve worked hard to build. I can leave alone and be separated from my wife and daughters. Or I can remain here “illegally,” risking deportation at any time.

    My situation is not unique. Thousands of Palestinians are in a similar limbo. Most have less desirable options than mine. My children are American citizens. We can return to the United States. But I came here with a vision, and I remain determined to play a role in developing an economy, nonviolently ending Israel’s military occupation and building a Palestinian state.

    Israeli policies effectively discourage people like me. According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, it has been official Israeli policy since 1983 to “reduce, as much as possible, the approval of requests for family unification” of Palestinians. B’Tselem reports that in the last six years alone, more than 70,000 people have applied for permission to immigrate to the West Bank and Gaza to join family. Their applications have either been denied or, like mine, languish.

    Each Palestinian who leaves lessens what Israelis openly call the “demographic threat” of a growing Palestinian population. But Israel needs to understand that the real threat comes not from demographics. It comes from controlling an entire population, breaking families apart and placing obstacles in the path of economic development.

    Israelis and Palestinians are destined to be neighbors. One neighbor cannot ensure its security by condemning the other to hardship and despair. Many people like me — business owners, educators, artists and others — whom Israel is denying entry came to build bridges, not walls. We came to invest in a better life to follow this occupation — a bright, joint future for Palestinian and Israeli children alike.

    Sam Bahour is a co-editor of “Homeland: Oral Histories of Palestine and Palestinians.”

    New York Times

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      P&Z considers pizza place

      English (US)  October 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

      "All we are saying is give pizza a chance," Attorney Mark Capecelatro quipped after the public hearing.


      Dean Diamond, right, and his attorney Mark Capecelatro

      By Gale Courey Toensing

      SALISBURY, Conn, _ What’s the difference between a large pizza and a Jackson Pollack painting?

      Although that question wasn’t officially asked, it symbolized the background buzz about class warfare at a Planning & Zoning Commission public hearing Sept. 3 to consider resident Dean Diamond’s special permit application to open a pizza restaurant next to the tony Argazzi Art Gallery on Millerton Road (state highway Rt. 44). Around 40 people attended.

      [More:]

      The commission voted to close the hearing after two hours' discussion and dozens of pro and con comments from the public. That means no new evidence can be entered into the record. Commissioners have 65 days deliberate and to vote on Diamond’s application, but a vote can occur as early as next week if the commission calls a special meeting. The next regular meeting is Oct. 17 at 5:30 p.m. in Town Hall.

      The fact that there was a public hearing at all came as a surprise to Diamond. Before he took out a mortgage loan and bought the building at 24 Millerton Road in August for $345,000, Diamond was told by a town building official that the building was in a commercial zone and he needed only to pay $45 for a change of use permit.

      “I had the building inspector in there, the fire marshal in there. I called the water department to find out what I needed to do. I did everything I was told to do. I did everything I thought needed to do to make a purchase offer on the building. I wouldn’t have bought the building without all that. (Then) I was told a mistake was made. They didn’t realize it was in a light industrial zone," Diamond said after the meeting.

      Diamond, who was the owner-operator of Broadway Pizza in nearby Millerton, N.Y., had expected to open soon, but the opening will now be delayed.

      “I have a mortgage payment to make in three weeks,” Diamond said.


      Judy Singelis (left) and Maura Wolfe

      The mistake was discovered and the public hearing scheduled around the same time that Judy Singelis, who owns the Argazzi Art Gallery, and Dr. Berel Held, who lives across the street, wrote letters to the local weekly newspaper, complaining about the prospect of having a “fast food joint” in town.

      The letters’ speculated about the alleged “damage” a pizza restaurant would do to the “ambience” of the neighborhood, the “atmosphere of a take-out, fast-food type eatery,” and the need for “something more appropriate, something tasteful, to greet visitors to our special place in the Northwest Corner.”

      The letters sparked a controversy and allegations of elitism and arrogance on the part of those opposing the pizza place by those who support the plan.

      At the public hearing, the arguments against the pizza restaurant focused on traffic, parking and safety issues.


      Selectman Peter Oliver

      “We have a very bright population here. They’ve been driving at night. They know how to pull out onto a state road. It’s not as though pizza makes you stupid,” Oliver said.

      At the public hearing, resident Erik Rydingsword captured the voice of working people and families who would welcome the pizza restaurant to town.

      “I come home late at night. I work 12 to 14 hours a day. Dean, by being open, allows me to eat in my community, bring something home from my community. You want to know where our businesses are going? If you have something open for the working man, you’ll have people come here instead of going to Millerton or Canaan. The Boathouse (Restaurant)? I can’t go to the Boathouse – I couldn’t pay my electric bill (if I did), so let’s have something affordable for working people,” Rydingsword said.

      Several others also spoke in favor of the pizza restaurant.

      During the public hearing and the next morning, it came to light that no special permit application or public hearing had taken place for the Argazzi Art Gallery.

      “It should have had a special permit application and public hearing,” said attorney Mark Capecelatro, who represents Diamond.

      "But, well, sometimes mistakes happen. Our regulations don’t have a classification for an art gallery, but as the art is sold and tax is collected there, it fits the definition of retail use so that would require a special permit,” Capecelatro told The Corner Report.

      Asked what the impact would be if the special permit for the pizza restaurant were denied while the art gallery was allowed to open without one, Capecelatro said, “It would be significant. But the fact that there may have been an error in the past on an adjoining property should not influence the commissionon on the merits of this special permit application, and it will not,” Capelcelatro said.

      Capecelatro said he has appeared before the commission for 33 years and is confident members will be "thorough and thoughtful. They act on each application on its own merits, and that’s the way it should be,” Capecelatro said.


      Commissioners Michael Clemens, Dan Dwyer, Martin Whalen, and Chairman John Higgins

      Capecelatro submitted more than a dozen letters and emails in support of the pizzeria, and clarified that the property is in a light industrial zone where a high traffic restaurant is a permitted use, and not in the nearby historic district as previously stated.

      The building was a pool hall around 100 years ago, and more recently, a heating oil office with delivery trucks coming and going, a hair salon, and a gift shop.

      There will be no changes to the exterior or footprint of the building, and the building met regulations for a grease trap, sewerage, lighting, and other requirements, Capecelatro said. Parking requirements for five spaces are met by four onsite parking spots, spaces on the street, in a nearby municipal parking lot, and on an adjacent property owned by Selectman Peter Oliver, who said he had no objection to occasional parking overflow from the pizza restaurant.

      The commissioners discussed the proposal at length, questioning the impact on traffic and the adequacy of the parking lot.

      Commissioner Dan Dwyer voiced concern over the amount of traffic the pizza business would bring. He asked about Diamond’s business plan – which the Planning & Zoning is not authorized to review -- and said he wanted a traffic study done.

      Dwyer did not make a motion for a traffic study, but it likely would not have passed anyway, since most of the commissioners ultimately seemed satisfied by the detailed answers they received. One commissionier said he will likely want to attach some conditions to the permit, if it is issued.

      At the end of the meeting, Dwyer was the only commissioner who voted against waiving some parts of the site plan requirement.

      Capecelatro said that town traffic safety was being addressed by the proper authority -- the Board of Selectmen, who have been dealing for years with the issue of speeding on the state road that goes through the village centers of Lakeville and Salisbury. Traffic calming projects have been completed in Salisbury and are planned for Lakeville.

      But, Capecelatro said, his client should not be punished for already existing traffic issues by being prevented from opening his business.

      Commissioner Judy Swanson said she was not convinced, looking a drawing of the parking area, that cars had enough room to turn around and exit nose first onto the highway.

      “I’d love to see a drawing properly drawn to scale to make sure that is the case,” Swanson said.

      The drawing is to scale, Oliver said.

      “I paid for it. The survey was done for me 10 years ago,” Oliver told the commission.

      Resident Charles Walsh suggested that the commissioners make a site visit to examine the parking lot.

      “It’s very difficult to get out. I’ve had trouble getting out and I know the lot. So people (who don’t know the lot) who are just coming to get pizza. . . You don’t know what your approving. It’s an accident bound to happen,” Walsh said.

      Resident Maura Wolfe noted that the area has been designated as a National Heritage District and said the "keystone" elements in the area should be the historic Holley Williams Museum and the Rudd House.

      “I’m not against the pizza parlor,” Wolfe said. “I just think we’d be setting a dangerous precedent to allow fast food or a bar or grill whatever in that area. I just think there’s a big difference between retail stories and that kind of traffic.”

      Furthermore, Wolfe said, traffic to the pizza restaurant would take place at night.

      “That’s an entirely different safety issue,” Wolfe said.

      In a conversation after the hearing, Diamond said that Wolfe, a real estate agent, had sold him the building, and questioned whether it was a conflict of interest for her to comment at all during the public hearing.

      Selectman Peter Oliver

      Oliver, who has owned both residential and business properties adjacent to the proposed pizza place, said there had never been a problem with people turning in and out of the parking lot.

      “It’s just a part of living in the country. We have a very bright population here. They’ve been driving at night. They know how to pull out onto a state road. It’s not as though pizza makes you stupid,” Oliver said.

      "All we are saying is give pizza a chance," Capecelatro quipped after the public hearing.

      1595 words posted in Business1 comment

      1 response(s) to P&Z considers pizza place

      1. Robert W. DePretis [Visitor] says:

        Well Mr. Diamond, Good Luck! Evidently people that eat Pizza do not buy art. Looks like that is where your problem lies. May I suggest that you make Gourmet Pizza and have a limo delivery service with the delivery person in a tuxedo. I think you may pick up a couple of votes. I speak from experience, but let me warn you! The folks that are going to want the limo service will only be willing to pay $ 4 bucks for a pizza and most likely will not tip the delivery person. Good Luck Mr. Diamond.

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      Not an internal Palestinian matter

      English (US)  October 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

      It is ironic that the Israeli public gets to read almost daily scathing criticisms of its government's murderous actions against Palestinians in the illegally occupied West Bank and Gaza from courageous journalists like Amira Hass, while the American public is "shielded" from the brutal truth by a complicit main stream media and a government that funnels $15 million a day of taxpayers' money to the Zionist regime. -- The Editor

      By Amira Hass

      THE EXPERIMENT was a success: The Palestinians are killing each other. They are behaving as expected at the end of the extended experiment called "what happens when you imprison 1.3 million human beings in an enclosed space like battery hens."

      [More:]

      These are the steps in the experiment: Imprison (since 1991); remove the prisoners' usual means of livelihood; seal off all outlets to the outside world, nearly hermetically; destroy existing means of livelihood by preventing the entry of raw materials and the marketing of goods and produce; prevent the regular entry of medicines and hospital supplies; do not bring in fresh food for weeks on end; prevent, for years, the entry of relatives, professionals, friends and others, and allow thousands of people - the sick, heads of families, professionals, children - to be stuck for weeks at the locked gates of the Gaza Strip's only entry/exit.

      Steal hundreds of millions of dollars (customs and tax revenues collected by Israel that belong to the Palestinian treasury), so as to force the nonpayment of the already low salaries of most government employees for months; present the firing of homemade Qassam rockets as a strategic threat that can only be stopped by harming women, children and the old; fire on crowded residential neighborhoods from the air and the ground; destroy orchards, groves and fields.

      Dispatch planes to frighten the population with sonic booms; destroy the new power plant and force the residents of the closed-off Strip to live without electricity for most of the day for a period of four months, which will most likely turn into a full year - in other words, a year without refrigeration, electric fans, television, lights to study and read by; force them to get by without a regular supply of water, which is dependent on the electricity supply.

      It is the good old Israeli experiment called "put them into a pressure cooker and see what happens," and this is one of the reasons why this is not an internal Palestinian matter.

      The success of the experiment can be seen in the miasma of desperation that hangs over the Gaza Strip, and in the clan feuding that erupts almost daily there, even more than in the battles between Fatah and Hamas militants. One can only wonder that the feuding is not more frequent, and that some bonds of internal solidarity have been maintained, which saves people from hunger.

      In contrast to the feuding between clans, Sunday's battles in Gaza and campaigns of destruction and intimidation, mainly in West Bank cities, were not the result of a momentary loss of control. They are generally viewed as battles between two militias, each of which represents one half of the population, but they were initiated by groups within Fatah to put a few more nails into the coffin of the elected leadership.

      The security forces of the Palestinian Authority - in other words, of Fatah, or in still other words, the ones that Mahmoud Abbas is in charge of - are hiding behind the genuine distress and protests of public employees who have not been receiving regular salaries. And they are doing so despite the fact that everyone knows that the failure to pay salaries is not a managerial failure, but is above all due to Israeli policy. These forces were dispatched in order to sow organized anarchy, as taught in the school of Yasser Arafat.

      And why is this, too, an Israeli matter? Because those who dispatched these militants have a shared interest with Israel in regressing to a situation in which the Palestinian leadership collaborates with the appearance of holding peace talks, while Israel continues its occupation and the international community sends hush money in the form of salaries for the Palestinian public sector.

      And there is another reason why this is also an internal Israeli issue: Whatever the outcome, the Palestinian feuding and the risk of civil war directly affect about 20 percent of Israeli citizens, the Arabs. They affect the Arabs, and also those segments of the Israeli public that have not forgotten that Israel will remain the occupying and ruling force over the Palestinians as long as the goal of establishing a Palestinian state in all of the territories occupied in 1967 is not realized.
      Haaretz

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        More Nasty Republican Messages (Political Cartoons)

        English (US)  October 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

        More at Mikhaela

        3 words posted in Politics, Iraq warLeave a comment

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          FULL MOON MAZE WALK FRIDAY -- FUN!

          English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

          By Gale Courey Toensing

          SALISBURY, Conn. _ Moonlight and darkness add a mysterious glow and extra fun to a walk through the amazing maze of maize at White Hollow Farm.

          A full moon maze walk will take place Friday, Oct. 6, beginning at 7 p.m.

          [More:]

          The 11-acre maze contains miles and miles of paths that turn and twist, doubling back on themselves, sometimes leading nowhere, sometimes leading the the five crops that are scattered throughout the maze.

          The corn is beautiful. The challenge is fun --- and extra challenging in the full moonlight. There are five crop destinations to find (with several exits for the tired or timid).

          People can -- and sometimes do -- wander in the maze for hours, "losing yourself to find yourself,” as farmer Allen Cockerline says.

          The corn maze is one hour from Hartford, two hours from NYC, and is located at the intersection of Rte. 112 and Rte. 7 in Salisbury, Conn. Tickets are $8, little kids are free.

          The maze is also open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

          For more information, call (860) 435-2089 or (860) 248-0362 or visit www.cornmazect.com

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            Tony Judt Speech Shut Down by ADL

            English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

            News by Matt Barganier|
            [UPDATE: Apparently, the Judt speech will go on, but on Oct. 16. But see this from the New York Sun.]

            Historian Tony Judt, a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books and director of the Remarque Institute at NYU, writes:

            I was due to speak this evening (Wednesday, Oct. 4) in Manhattan to a group called Network 20/20 comprising young business leaders, NGO, academics, etc, from the US and many countries. Topic: the Israel Lobby and US Foreign Policy. The meetings are always held at the Polish Consulate in Manhattan.

            [More:]

            I just received a call from the President of Network 20/20. The talk was cancelled because the Polish Consulate had been threatened by the Anti-Defamation League. Serial phone calls from ADL President Abe Foxman warned them off hosting anything involving Tony Judt. If they persisted, he warned, he would smear the charge of Polish collaboration with anti-Israeli anti-Semites (= me) all over the front page of every daily paper in the city (an indirect quote). They caved and Network 20/20 were forced to cancel.

            Whatever your views on the Middle East I hope you find this as serious and frightening as I do. This is, or used to be, the United States of America.

            Anti-War

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              Genghis Khan to get 'respect'

              English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


              Genghis Khan built a vast empire across Asia and Europe

              MONGOLIA'S PARLIAMENT has begun debating a law regulating the use of Genghis Khan's name, in an attempt to prevent the legendary leader's memory being cheapened.

              "Foreigners are attempting to use the Genghis Khan name and image for their use," he said. "They are saying Genghis Khan was born in Kazakhstan or the Siberian part of Russia or Chinese Inner Mongolia and thus distorting our history" -- politician D. Arvin

              [More:]

              "We are not showing enough respect to Genghis Khan," Erdeniin Bat-Uul, a Mongolian politician, said as parliament started debating the law on Thursday.

              Since Mongolia broke free of communist rule in 1991, the isolated Asian nation has applied the name of its favourite son to more than half a dozen brands of vodka and beer and a variety of other commercial products.

              The trend reflects the immense pride Mongolians feel about a man who established an empire that stretched across Asia and all the way to central Europe in the early 13th century.

              Bat-Uul said that since the prohibition on the use of Genghis Khan's name and image had been lifted after the collapse of communism, Mongolians had attached them to products and brands that brought disrepute on a revered national symbol.

              "We tend to use his name more on vodka bottles," Bat-Uul said.

              "If today somebody produces toilet paper with Genghis Khan's name, we do not know what to do about it as currently there is no law to regulate this issue".

              Licensing fee

              Under the proposed law, only the government would be able to grant use of the name Genghis Khan for commercial purposes, and they would set a fee for its licensing.

              The law would also give the Mongolian president the right to select an official Genghis Khan portrait from one of about ten currently in circulation and say which organisations were allowed to use it.

              Using Genghis Khan's name or portrait in a degrading or insulting manner, or to serve the interests of political parties or non-governmental bodies, would be forbidden.

              Cashing in

              Another politician, D Arvin, said a major feature of the legislation would be to prevent foreigners from cashing in on the name for their own purposes.

              "Foreigners are attempting to use the Genghis Khan name and image for their use," he said. "They are saying Genghis Khan was born in Kazakhstan or the Siberian part of Russia or Chinese Inner Mongolia and thus distorting our history".

              Although Genghis Khan is portrayed as a bloodthirsty conqueror across much of the world, Mongolians see him as the father of the Mongol nation as well as a symbol of order and civilization.

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                New Zogby Poll Shows Lieberman Ahead

                English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                By Christine Stuart

                Zogby’s latest poll released Thursday shows U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman with a bigger lead over Democratic challenger Ned Lamont than its poll released just six days ago that put Lamont within striking distance of the incumbent.

                Full story at CT News Junkie

                47 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

                1 response(s) to New Zogby Poll Shows Lieberman Ahead

                1. shepherd [Member] Email says:

                  I can’t believe that people in Connecticut are gulled so by Lieberman unless they believe as well that God talks to Charlie and that Edgar sits on the right hand of God. In that case they also believe there are 1,000 fairies dancing on the head of the director of FEMA. I know it doesn’t make any sense; nothing does. (Has someone reached Zogby?) -Rocky (Of course, administration supporters always use the word "believe" rather than "think." They don't do much thinking through, just believing.)

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                Sharon clears toxic problem

                English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                Town settles landfill dispute with New York

                By George Krimsky
                REPUBLICAN-AMERICAN

                SHARON — The town has ap­proved a settlement with New York state to clean up a toxic landfill once jointly operated with Amenia, N.Y., across the state line.

                [More:]

                At a town meeting Wednes­day evening, 14 attending resi­dents unanimously approved the settlement recommended by Sharon’s special environ­mental counsel, Kimberlea Shaw Rea.

                Sharon stopped using the landfill across the border in 1976 and currently shares a transfer station with Salisbury.

                In 1998, New York state’s en­vironmental agency filed a law­suit against Sharon, Amenia and nine owners and industrial users of the landfill, holding them responsible for cleaning up the 10-acre property con­taminated by PCBs and other toxic waste. The towns of Sharon and Amenia have said repeatedly that they were not responsible for any toxic chem­icals dumped at the landfill when they used it between 1946 and 1976. The source of the tox­ic waste has not been definitive­ly identified, Rea told residents Wednesday.

                In response to the lawsuit, Sharon joined with the oth­ers to form the Amenia Landfill Group, which pur­chased the Amenia property last month and cleared the way for a final settlement.

                The New York State De­partment of Environmental Conservation has ruled that the site be capped by an im­permeable rubberlike mem­brane and then covered over with clean topsoil.

                Amenia will be responsi­ble for the clean-up, sharing the estimated $5.5 million cost with New York state. Sharon will be responsible for ongoing maintenance of the site at an initial cost of up to $55,000 a year, with di­minishing costs over a 30­ year period.

                This is in addition to a one­time repayment of expenses for the eight-year legal process of approximately $250,000.

                “This settlement will put to rest forever Sharon’s obli­gations,” Rea told residents, saying she believed it is a “home run for everybody.”

                www.rep-am.com

                321 words posted in Environment1 comment

                1 response(s) to Sharon clears toxic problem

                1. Bob Terrell [Visitor] Email says:

                  George,
                  The byline for this article lists you as "Republican-American."
                  Please say it aint so...

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                The Roadmap to Nowhere

                English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                An Interview with Tanya Reinhart

                By ERIC HAZAN

                Your new book, Roadmap to Nowhere, covers the history of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in the last three years, a period dominated by Ariel Sharon's leadership. You argue that during this period it became evident that in Israel, decisions are taken by the military, rather than the political echelons. Can you elaborate?

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                Israeli military and political systems have always been closely intertwined, with generals moving from the army straight to the government, but the army's political status was further solidified during Sharon's ascendancy. Senior military officers brief the press (they capture at least half of the news space in the Israeli media), and brief and shape the views of foreign diplomats; they go abroad on diplomatic missions, outline political plans for the government, and express their political views on any occasion.

                In contrast to the military stability, the Israeli political system is in a gradual process of crumbling. In a World Bank report of April 2005, Israel is found one of the most corrupt and least efficient in the Western world, second only to Italy in the government corruption index, and lowest in the index of political stability. Sharon personally was associated, together with his sons, with severe bribery charges, that have never reached the court. The new party that Sharon founded, Kadima, and which now heads the government, with Olmert as Sharon's successor, is a hierarchical agglomeration of individuals with no party institutions or local branches. Its guidelines, published in November 22 2005, enable its leader to bypass all standard democratic processes and appoint the list of the party's candidates to the parliament without voting or approval of any party body.

                The Labor party has not been able to offer an alternative. In the last two Israeli elections, Labor elected dovish candidates for prime ministry--Amram Mitzna in 2003, and Amir Peretz in 2006. Both were initially received with enormous enthusiasm, but were immediately silenced by their party and campaign advisors and by self imposed censorship, aiming to situate themselves "at the center of the political map". Soon, their program became indistinguishable from that of Sharon. Peretz even declared that on "foreign and security" matters he will do exactly as Sharon (but he will also bring a social change). Thus these candidates helped convince the Israeli voters that Sharon's way is the right way. In the last years, there has never been a substantial left-wing opposition to the rule of Sharon and the generals, since after the elections, Labor would always join the government, providing the dovish image that the generals need for international show.

                With the collapse of the political system, the army remains the body that shapes and executes Israel's policies. During the recent Israeli attack on Lebanon (not covered in the book), it became common knowledge in Israel that the military is leading the government, with Peretz, now Defense minister, often appearing on tv looking like a puppet operated by the generals surrounding him.

                Sharon is widely viewed in Israeli and Western discourse as a leader who has undergone a transformation from a philosophy of eternal war to moderation and concession. This is not quite the picture that emerges from your book.

                One of the questions in the book is how it happened that Sharon, the most brutal, cynical, racist and manipulative leader Israel has ever had, ended his political career as a legendary peace hero? The answer, I argue, is that Sharon has never changed. Rather, the birth of the Sharon myth reflects the present omnipotence of the propaganda system in manufacturing consciousness.

                During his four years in office, Sharon stalled any chance of negotiations with the Palestinians. In 2003 - the road map period -the Palestinians accepted the plan and declared a cease fire, but while the Western world was celebrating the new era of peace, the Israeli army, under Sharon, intensified its policy of assassinations, maintained the daily harassment of the occupied Palestinians, and eventually declared an all-out-war on Hamas, killing all its first rank of military and political leaders. Later, as the Western world was holding its breath again, in a year and a half of waiting for the planned Gaza pullout, Sharon did everything possible to fail the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, who was elected in January 2005. Sharon declared that Abbas is not a suitable partner (because he does not fight terror) and turned down all his offers of renewed negotiations.

                The daily reality of the Palestinians in the occupied territories was never as grim as in the period of Sharon. In the West Bank, Sharon started a massive project of ethnic cleansing in the areas bordering with Israel. His wall project robs the land of the Palestinian villages in these areas, imprisons whole towns, and leaves their residents with no means of sustenance. If the project continues, many of the 400.000 Palestinians affected by it will have to leave and seek their livelihood in the outskirts of cities in the center of the West Bank, as happened already in northern West Bank town of Qalqilia. The Israeli settlements were evacuated from the Gaza Strip, but the Strip remains a big prison, completely sealed from the outside world, nearing starvation and terrorized from land, sea and air by the Israeli army.

                Sharon's legacy, as it unfolds in the period covered in this book, is eternal war, not just with the Palestinians, but with what the Israeli army views as their potential network of support, be it Lebanon now, or Iran and Syria tomorrow. At the same time, what Sharon's legacy has brought to perfection is that war can be always marketed as the tireless pursuit of peace. Sharon proved that Israel can imprison the Palestinians, bombard them from the air, steal their land in the West Bank, stall any chance for peace, and still be hailed by the Western world as the peaceful side in the Israel-Palestine conflict.

                Did the Road Map plan of 2003, with which your book opens, offer any real prospect for peace?

                To answer this question, it is necessary first to refresh our memory regarding what the conflict is about. From Israeli discourse one might get the impression that it is about Israel's right to exist. On this view, the Palestinians are trying to undermine the mere existence of the state of Israel with the demand to allow their refugees to return, and they are trying to achieve that with terror. It seems that it has been forgotten that in practice this is a simple and classical conflict over Palestinian land and resources (water) that Israel has been occupying since 1967. The Road Map document as well manifests complete absence of any territorial dimension. In the final, third phase, of the plan the occupation should end. But the plan's document doesn't put any demands on Israel at this third phase. Most Israelis understand that there is no way to end the occupation and the conflict without the Israeli army leaving the territories and the dismantlement of settlements. But these basic concepts are not even hinted at in the document, which only mentions freezing settlements expansion and dismantling new outposts, already at the first phase of the plan.

                Nevertheless, the road map plan is substantial and important because of what it determines should happen in its first phase. This phase repeats the cease-fire plan proposed by then CIA head George Tenet, in June 2001. The essence of this phase is that to restore calm, a cease-fire should be declared, to which both sides should have to contribute. The Palestinians should cease all terror and armed activity, and Israel should pull its forces back to the positions they held before the Palestinian uprising, in September 2000. This is a substantial demand of Israel, because in September 2000, there were large areas of the West Bank that were under Palestinian autonomous control. Implementing the demand to restore the conditions that existed then, should mean also lifting the many road blocks and army posts that Israel has placed in these areas since that time.

                There is no doubt that fulfillment of this demand would contribute greatly to establishing some calm, and creating, at least, conditions for negotiations. But, as I mentioned, Israel refused to accept even that much, and stalled the road map in the same way that it had stalled the Tenet plan before.

                A central event that you cover in the book is the Gaza pullout and the evacuation of the Gaza settlements. But your analysis of what went on behind the scenes of the pullout is quite different than the way it was perceived even in critical circles.

                A prevailing view in critical circles is that Sharon decided to evacuate the Gaza settlements because maintaining them was too costly, and he preferred to focus efforts on his central goal of keeping the West Bank and expanding its settlements. There is no doubt that Sharon openly used the disengagement plan to expand and strengthen Israel's grip of the West Bank. But I argue that there is no evidence that he decided to give Gaza up because keeping it proved too costly.

                Of course, the occupation of Gaza has always been costly, and even from the perspective of the most committed Israeli expansionists, Israel does not need this piece of land, one of the most densely populated in the world, and lacking any natural resources. The problem is that one cannot let Gaza free, if one wants to keep the West Bank. A third of the occupied Palestinians live in the Gaza strip. If they are given freedom, they would become the center of Palestinian struggle for liberation, with free access to the Western and Arab world. To control the West Bank, Israel had to stick to Gaza. From this perspective, the previous model of occupation was the optimal choice. The Strip was controlled from the inside by the army, and the settlements provided the support system for the army, and the moral justification for the soldiers' brutal job of occupation. It makes their presence there a mission of protecting the homeland. Control from the outside may be cheaper, but in the long run, it has no guarantee of success.

                Furthermore, since the Oslo years, the settlements were conceived both locally and internationally as a tragic problem that, despite Israel's good intentions to end the occupation, cannot be solved. This useful myth was broken with the evacuation of the Gaza settlements, which showed how easy it is, in fact, to evacuate settlements, and how big the support is in Israeli society for doing that.

                I argue that Sharon did not evacuate the Gaza settlements out of his own will, but rather, that he was forced to do so. Sharon cooked up his disengagement plan as a means to gain time, at the peak of international pressure that followed Israel's sabotaging of the road map and its construction of the West Bank wall. Even then, there are some indications that he was looking for ways to sneak out of this commitment, as he did with all his commitments before. But this time he was forced to actually carry it out by the Bush administration. Though it was kept fully behind the scenes, the pressure was quite massive, including military sanctions. The official pretext for the sanctions was Israel's arm sale to China, but in previous occasions, the crisis was over as soon as Israel agreed to cancel the deal. This time, the sanctions were unprecedented, and lasted until the signing of the crossing agreement in November 2005.

                But currently there is no sign of any U.S. pressure on Israel?

                Yes, U.S. pressure ended right with the evacuation of the settlements, and Israel was given a free hand to violate all the agreements signed ceremonially in November 2005, under the supervision of Condoleezza Rice. Since then, the U.S. has given full backing to Israel, as it turned the Gaza strip into an open-air prison, and began to starve and bombard the besieged Palestinians. We should note that at no stage, did Sharon take a commitment to actually give up the full Israeli control of the Gaza strip. From its outset, the disengagement plan, as published in Israeli media in April 16, 2004 determined that Israel would maintain full military control of the strip from the outside, as before the pullout.

                From the U.S. perspective, its goal was achieved with the evacuation of the settlements. As long as international calm is maintained, Palestinian suffering plays no role in US calculations. To maintain the Iraq occupation, while preparing its next steps in the "war on terror", It was important for the U.S. to appease the world's sentiment that something should be done to end the Israeli occupation. This goal was achieved for the time being. The Western world, or at least its leaders and media, were euphoric with the new turn in the Middle East. The dominant world-view in the Western media is still that Israel has done its part, and now it is the Palestinians' turn to show their peaceful intentions. With the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections, this view has even strengthened. Israel's eternal claim that it has no partner for peace is now having a renewed impact. Those who have accepted for years Israel's claim that Arafat was not a partner, and then that Abbas was not, are certainly willing to hear also that Hamas is not.

                Since the end of 2005, the Bush administration has seemed determined to move its planned "Iranian campaign" into high gear, so Israel's stocks have been rising again. In its concerted campaign to prevent international recognition of the new Hamas administration, and to impose tough sanctions on the Palestinians, Israel has been exploiting the Islamophobic atmosphere that resurfaced in the US. Israeli security officials flooded the West with reports on the dangers of Hamas' future ties with Iran and Syria, painting a disturbing picture of a global fundamentalist Islamic threat. The conditions were ripe for such propaganda. On February 3, the Pentagon released its 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), where it lays out its vision for what it describes as a long war: "Currently, Iraq and Afghanistan are crucial battlegrounds, but the struggle extends far beyond their borders. With its allies and partners, the United States must be prepared to wage this war in many locations simultaneously and for some years to come".

                With the drums of the long war banging, Israel's line on Hamas has been well received. The US administration urged European and Arab countries to freeze direct aid to the Palestinian Authority,and on February 15, the U.S. congress started moves in the same direction. Israeli security officials had been involved for quite some time before in urging the U.S. administration to increase its operations in Iran, including covert acts of regime change - efforts that were yielding their fruits in 2006. As was disclosed by Seymour Hersh and others, during Israel's recent war on Lebanon, the U.S. administration has viewed this as preparation, and a "test" for the option of an attack on Iran.

                What has been the role of the Pro-Israel lobby in shaping U.S. policies?

                Interestingly, in 2005, during the whole period of U.S. heavy pressure on Israel, AIPAC (the American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and other lobby groups were completely silent. As I detail in the book, this compliance was helped by the investigation, and later the indictment of two AIPAC officials - its policy director, Steven Rosen, and Iran specialist Keith Weissman. It transpired that the powerful Pro-Israel lobby could be silenced easily, if the White House so desired. This confirms what Chomsky and others have been arguing for years - that the Pro-Israel lobbies are powerful only as long as their pressure is in line with U.S. policies.

                But the renewed wave of Islamophobia has also bolstered AIPAC's newfound self-confidence. Its annual policy conference in March 2006 was held in an atmosphere of neocon celebration, with star appearance of several of the most hard-line administration officials, including Vice President Dick Cheney and Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton. The Jewish newspaper Forward noted at the time that AIPAC "appears to be out of step with the American Jewish community on Iraq... 70% of American Jews oppose the Iraq war, according to a poll commission by the American Jewish Committee at the end of 2005." But regardless of the opinions of the Jewish community they are supposed to represent, the leaders of the Pro-Israel lobby "are optimistic that, paradoxically, the drop in Bush's approval ratings in American public opinion will force him to adopt the hard line advocated by AIPAC and Israel".

                Despite the grim events described in the book, the overall feeling that comes through is that of hope. Why?

                I argue that the reason that the U.S. exerted even limited pressure on Israel, for the first time in recent history, was because at that moment in history it was no longer possible to ignore world discontent over its policy of blind support of Israel. This shows that persistent struggle can have an effect, and can lead governments to act. Such struggle begins with the Palestinian people, who have withstood years of brutal oppression, and who, through their spirit of zumud--sticking to their land - and daily endurance, organizing and resistance, have managed to keep the Palestinian cause alive, something that not all oppressed nations have managed to do. It continues with international struggle--solidarity movements that send their people to the occupied territories and stand in vigils at home, professors signing boycott petitions, subjecting themselves to daily harassment, a few courageous journalists that insist on covering the truth, against the pressure of acquiescent media and pro-Israel lobbies. Often this struggle for justice seems futile. Nevertheless, it has penetrated global consciousness. It is this collective consciousness that eventually forced the U.S. to pressure Israel into some, albeit limited, concessions. . The Palestinian cause can be silenced for a while, as is happening now, but it will resurface.


                You note that since 2003, a new form of struggle has been formed along the route of the West Bank wall?

                Largely unreported, there is a growing non-violent popular struggle aimed at stopping, or at least slowing down, Israel's massive work of destruction that, once completed, will disconnect 400,000 Palestinians from their land and means of sustenance. In the Palestinian Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, 730,000 Palestinians were driven out of their villages. But rather than waiting for the history books to tell the story of the second Palestinian Nakba, the Palestinians along the wall are struggling to save their land. Armed only with the marvelous spirit of people who have held to their land one generation after the other, they stand in front of one of the most brutal military machines of the world. An amazing development of the last three years is that Israelis have joined the Palestinian struggle. For the first time in the history of the occupation, we are witnessing joint Israeli-Palestinian struggle.

                For almost two years now, the center of struggle has been the village Bil'in, in the center of the West Bank, whose lands are being transferred to the Israeli settlement of upper Modi'in. Every Friday there is a central demonstration that gathers the whole village as well as Israelis and internationals. The army has used brutal force to try to stop the protest, but the demonstrations continue. Along with Israel of the army and the settlers, a new Israel-Palestine is forming along the route of the wall. In the last chapter of the book I survey in detail the development of this joint struggle--the history of the people, which emerged along the history of the powerful.

                Tanya Reinhart is a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and the author of Israel/Palestine: How to End the War of 1948 and The Roadmap to Nowhere. She can be reached through her website: http://www.tau.ac.il/~reinhart

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                  Opec 'to cut oil production'

                  English (US)  October 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                  Opec is reportedly mulling a reduction of one million barrels a day

                  OPEC IS CONSIDERING holding an emergency meeting to discuss the possibility of cutting output, Nigeria's oil minister has said.

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                  "We are toying with the idea of an emergency meeting," Edmund Daukoru, who also serves as president of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries, said on Thursday.

                  Other opec officials said on Thursday that "the direction and spirit are there" for the organisation, which pumps more than a third of the world's oil, to cut production as the US economy slows and rival producers bring new supplies to market.

                  Any reduction would aim to stem a price slide that has brought prices to just under $60 a barrel - 25% lower than prices were in mid-July, Opec trackers say.

                  The Financial Times newspaper reported on Thursday that Opec was poised to cut at least one million barrels, or four percent of daily production.

                  The 11-member organisation is due to meet in Nigeria on December 14 but some states, including Saudi Arabia, the world's biggest exporter, are already trimming supplies, shipping sources and customers have said.

                  Last week Nigeria, Opec's sixth biggest producer and Venezuela, the fourth biggest, announced token output cuts, totalling 170,000 barrels per day or less than one percent of Opec's output.

                  But since then oil prices have fallen further on rising US stockpiles, drawing the first reaction from Opec's core Gulf producers.

                  Gulf concerns

                  Sheikh Ali al-Jarrah al-Sabah, the Kuwaiti oil minister, raised the chance of broader action on Wednesday, saying that his country might also cut back if prices continued to fall sharply.

                  The Opec delegate said that while Saudi Arabia had not commented on the market so far, the fact that it raised the price of its heavier crude to Europe on Wednesday indicated the kingdom may be cutting supply.

                  Iran and Libya also support a cutback while the UAE is also likely to do so, the Financial Times newspaper reported on Thursday, quoting Opec insiders.

                  US oil prices have trebled in the space of four years, but are currently far below their mid-July peak of $78.40.

                  Andrew Harrington, a resource analyst at ANZ Bank, said: "Obviously, Opec has seen that the world economy can keep going at $65 to $75, so they don't see any reason why prices should fall too much further."

                  Conflicting signals

                  On Wednesday, Saudi Arabia's ambassador to the US reiterated the kingdom's long-standing view that there was an abundance of crude oil.

                  The price for Opec's own basket of crudes fell to $54.19 a barrel on Wednesday.

                  Opec members have sent conflicting signals on price.

                  Iran's oil minister said last month he wanted to see Opec oil at or above $60, equating to around $65 for US oil.

                  At the other extreme, Kuwait's oil minister said on Wednesday he would be worried by US oil at $50, putting the Opec basket at about $45.

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                    New Book by Israeli professor: The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine

                    English (US)  October 3rd, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                    Ilan Pappe's new book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, will be published Oct. 19.

                    The Arabs will have to go, but one needs an opportune moment for making it happen, such as a war. -- David Ben-Gurion writing to his son, 1937

                    There is no such thing as a Palestinian people... It is not as if we came and threw them out and took their country. They didn't exist. -- Golda Meir, statement to The Sunday Times, 15 June, 1969

                    As Israel stands accused by Amnesty International of committing war crimes in Lebanon following its almost five-week bombardment of that country, which left over a thousand civilians dead and almost a million displaced, a prominent Israeli historian at Haifa University revisits the formative period of the State of Israel to investigate the treatment of the indigenous Palestinians.

                    [More:]

                    In this controversial new book, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, Ilan Pappe uses recently declassified archival sources to investigate the fate suffered by the indigenous population of 1940s Palestine at the hands of the Zionist political and military leadership, whose actions led to the mass deportation of over a million Palestinians from their cities and villages, over 400 villages wiped from the map, and hundreds of civilians dead.

                    Exploring both the planning and the execution of the Jewish operations during the British Mandate period and the run-up to independence, Pappe focuses in particular on the activities of the Hagana, the Irgun, and the Palmach. Drawing on such meticulously-researched documents as the minutes from meetings of Ben-Gurion's unofficial "war cabinet" as well as the personal diaries and memoirs of a large number of key officials in all sectors of the Jewish leadership of the day, Pappe pieces together and re-examines the attitudes and motivations that influenced the conduct of the Jewish community towards the indigenous population. He goes on to offer a detailed account of the events of 1947-8 that eventually led to one of the biggest refugee migrations in modern history. This is no moral rant against the past, but a passionate plea to acknowledge the Nakba, as Palestinians call the catastrophe that befell them in 1948, as the root cause of the ongoing Palestine-Israel conflict.

                    Many political commentators and historians trace the roots of the recent stages of the conflict back only so far as Israel's occupation of the West Bank following the 1967 war, rightly regarding the occupation, the settlements and the Security Barrier as a violation of international law. The first and second Intifadas may be seen as protests against the continuing occupation and a reflection of the deep despair of the Palestinians, who feel they have been severely let down by their own leaders, by Israel, by Arab states, by the United Nations, and by western powers.

                    Pappe argues persuasively, however, that the continued denial of the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 and the consequent dispossession of a million native Palestinians from their homeland represents a gross injustice that requires redress. The refusal to acknowledge this event, and allow those dispossessed the right of return to their ancestral lands and homes, are not only an abuse of their human rights, but a rejection from the peace process of the essential foundation for a lasting peace in the Middle East and beyond.

                    An incisive, important and timely book, on an issue of continuing global concern.

                    Ilan Pappe is a senior lecturer of Political Science at Haifa University. He is also Academic Director of the Research Institute for peace at Givat Haviva, and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies, Haifa. His previous works include the bestselling A History of Modern Palestine, The Modern Middle East and The Israel/Palestine Question.

                    ADVANCE PRAISE FOR THE ETHNIC CLEANSING OF PALESTINE

                    "Ilan Pappe is Israel's bravest, most principled, most incisive historian." John Pilger

                    "The first book to so clearly document the ethnic cleansing of Palestine in 1948 of which the massacre at Deir Yassin was emblematic. Political Zionism has always been premised on the elimination of non-Jews who even today account for more than half of the population living within the borders controlled by Israel. Will the West continue to ignore this textbook example of ethnic cleansing, a crime against humanity?" Daniel McGowan, Executive Director, Deir Yassin Remembered, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

                    "Ilan Pappe has written an extraordinary book of profound relevance to the past, present, and future of Israel/Palestine relations." Richard Falk, Professor of International Law and Practice, Princeton University

                    "This is an extraordinary book - a dazzling feat of scholarly synthesis and Biblical moral clarity and humaneness." Walid Khalidi, Former Senior Research Fellow, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Harvard University

                    "An instant classic. Finally we have the authoritative account of an historic event which continues to shape our world today, and drives the conflict in the Middle East. Pappe is the only historian who could have told it, and he has done so with supreme command of the facts, elegance, and compassion. The publication of this book is a landmark event." Karma Nabulsi, a research fellow at Nuffield College, Oxford University

                    "If there is to be real peace in Palestine/Israel, the moral vigour and intellectual clarity of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine will have been a major contributor to it." Ahdaf Soueif, author of The Map of Love

                    "Fresh insights into a world historic tragedy, related by a historian of genius. George Galloway MP

                    "Groundbreaking research into a well-kept Israeli secret. A classic of historical scholarship on a taboo subject by one of Israel's foremost New Historians." Ghada Karmi, author of In Search of Fatima

                    "Ilan Pappe is out to fight against Zionism, whose power of deletion has driven a whole nation not only out of its homeland but out of historic memory as well. A detailed, documented record of the true history of that crime, The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine puts an end to the Palestinian 'Nakbah' and the Israeli 'War of Independence' by so compellingly shifting both paradigms." Anton Shammas, Professor of Modern Middle Eastern Literature, University of Michigan

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                      Murphy seeks accountability in Foley scandal

                      English (US)  October 2nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                      By Gale Courey Toensing

                      NEW BRITAIN, Conn._ Chris Murphy, the Democratic candidate for Connecticut’s Fifth Congressional District, has challenged incumbent Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson to join his call for congressional leaders who knew that former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley sent sexually implicit emails to minor teenage boys, but did nothing about it, to resign from their posts.

                      [More:]

                      Foley, a Florida Republican, quit Congress abruptly last Friday after reports surfaced that he'd sent sexually charged electronic emails to underage boys working as congressional pages.

                      “The news surrounding this scandal coming out of Washington is deeply saddening,” Murphy said in a press release issued Monday.

                      “Parents should be able to send their teenagers to Washington without fear of harm. And leaders in Congress should be adhering to the standards set to protect those under their charge and to uphold the institution. Any members of the Congressional leadership, including (Republican) Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, should resign their leadership positions immediately if they knew about Foley’s predatory behavior and allowed it to go on unchecked,” said Murphy.

                      Several members of the Republican leadership, including Hastert, Majority Leader John Boehner, and National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Tom Reynolds knew about some of Foley’s actions as early as the fall of 2005, but no investigation was conducted then, Murphy noted.

                      New York Congressman Thomas Reynolds, the head of the House Republican elections committee, said over the weekend that he told Hastert months ago about the allegations involving a 16-year-old boy from Louisiana.
                      Hastert acknowledged that his staff had been made aware of concerns about what they called "over-friendly" e-mails Foley had sent to the teenager - including one requesting his picture - in the fall of 2005, and that they referred the matter to the House clerk.

                      But Hastert said those e-mails were not viewed as "sexual in nature" and that he was not aware of "a different set of communications which were sexually explicit . . . which Mr. Foley reportedly sent another former page or pages."

                      As the reports surfaced, Democrats demanded that investigators determine whether Republican leaders tried to cover up Foley's actions for political reasons.

                      The Republicans are struggling to maintain their House majority in the November mid-term elections. Foley’s largely Republican West Palm Beach district is now likely to be won by a Democrat.

                      Johnson, one of the most senior members of the Republican caucus and the dean of the Connecticut House delegation, has not posted a public statement about the Foley incident on her House or campaign website, and is not known to have made any public statement on the issue, Murphy said.

                      Johnson’s spokesman Brian Schubert did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment from The Corner Report.

                      “It goes without saying that as one of the most senior members of the House Republican leadership, Nancy Johnson should be leading the cry for accountability and integrity in her party. This isn’t about politics; it’s about the safety of our children, and the integrity of our government. Another day cannot go by without Johnson calling for answers and for change at the top of her party’s leadership,” said Murphy.

                      Johnson and Murphy will hold a formal debate ON Oct. 14 at 3 p.m. at Central Connecticut State University.

                      Meanwhile, on Monday Foley announced through his attorney that he checked himself into a rehabilitation facility for alcoholism treatment over the weekend.

                      "Events that led to my resignation have crystallized recognition of my long-standing and significant alcoholism and emotional difficulties. I strongly believe that I am an alcoholic and have accepted the need for immediate treatment for alcoholism and other behavioral problems," Foley said in a statement.

                      "I deeply regret and accept full responsibility for the harm I have caused," Foley said, also expressing "gratitude for the prayers and words of encouragement that have been conveyed to me."

                      The FBI is investigating Foley’s actions to see if he violated federal law, according to an FBI spokesman.

                      Foley, who is 52 and single, ironically could be found to have violated a law that he helped to write as co-chairman of the Congressional Missing and Exploited Children's Caucus.

                      688 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment4 comments

                      4 response(s) to Murphy seeks accountability in Foley scandal

                      1. Dave Becker [Visitor] says:

                        I guess it being a weekend is what caused Mr. Murphy to respond so slowly and almost made him miss the bandwagon. Or perhaps he didn't want to alienate the NAMBLA segment of his constituency..... I mean, every vote counts.
                        So now we wait for the Reps. to line up (alphabetically or by seniority?) and cuss this Foley cat out so that everyone will know that they aren't in favor of teen molestation, internet dating or associated ploys. And we also must endure the Dem. response, which likely will tend towards trying to link every Rep. to Foley's crap. In other words, politics as usual. Or did you expect something different?

                      2. disgusted [Visitor] says:

                        Becker,
                        The GOP leadership covers up for pedophiles and you call the the Democrats who criticize them sympathetic to pedophiles. You ARE GOP gutter politics as usual - but more depraved and vile than most.

                      3. Nikki [Visitor] says:

                        Becker.. WAKE UP. Johnson served with Foley on the Ways & Means committee and flaming homophobes. And Johnson has plenty of her own CRAP thankyouverymuch.

                      4. Dave Becker [Visitor] says:

                        ApparentlyMr/Mrs/Ms Nikki & disgusted didn't pay close enough attention to the last 2 sentences in my comment, apparently due to the fact that 1) Nikki is of the opinion that anyone of a Rep persuasion that is on a particular committee with another offending member is therefore painted with the same brush while Dems remained in a sterile, geodisic bubble while in the same room and aren't covered by the splatter too. Just how being on a committee with Foley makes one responsible for Foley (as if he sent offending IMs from hearings that were screened by Johnson?) escapes me. I've gone over my above comment and I must have something wrong with my computer as it doesn't allow me to read the part where I criticized Dems as being sympathetic to pedophiles. BTW, if you think I'm GOP gutter politics you're sadly mistaken. I strongly feel that the whole crowd of professional political whores we have in this country are nothing but self serving,lying, thieving,hypocritical pr--ks who we'd all be better off if every one of them fell off the face of the earth tomorrow.... or sooner if possible. Doesn't matter which party as neither of them are worth much in my humble opinion. So I'm not really for either one of them and if you think I am, apparently your allegiance to one blinds you to the fact that someone criticizng your side doesn't mean they're on the other side.

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                      Education or mind infection?

                      English (US)  October 2nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                      Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan is a Lecturer in Language Education at Hebrew University in Jerusalem specializing in discourse in Israeli education with emphasis on visual and verbal presentation of Palestinian and non-western Jews. In September 1997, Nurit’s daughter Samarder was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. She and her family are members of the Palestinian and Israeli Bereaved Families for Peace. Her two elder sons are active in the peace movements of the Refusenik and Combatants for Peace, a new movement of Israeli and Palestinian ex-fighters.

                      Dr. Peled-Elhanan is the recipient of the European Parliament 2001 Sakharov Prize for Human Rights and Freedom of Thought. She is now touring the US together with a Palestinian women (Hanan Abu Ghosh) who lost her 17 year old brother to Israeli gunfire. -- Mazin Qumsiyeh

                      Education or mind infection?
                      Speech given at Connecticut College, New London, CT 09/27/06

                      By Nurit Peled-Elhanan

                      I would like to dedicate these words to all the Palestinian boys and girls, and to all the Lebanese boys and girls, and to all the Iraqi boys and girls who have been massacred by mind-infected Israeli and American soldier boys, and who have recently joined my own little girl in the underground kingdom of dead children, which is growing under our feet as I speak.

                      Full article at Mazin Qumsiyeh

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                        Letter in response to "Things Go Better with Rights"

                        English (US)  October 2nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                        The following letter was written in response to "Things Go Better with Rights," by Zahi Khoury, published in the Wall Street Journal, and posted below.

                        Dear Editor:

                        Zahi Khoury on these pages is actually rather mild in his description of Israel's policy of exclusion and removal of Palestinians with foreign passports from the remaining areas of Palestine.

                        [More:]

                        I am one of the half lucky ones: I have my original Israeli ID card that "lets" me travel and (if I chose) live in my homeland, but my wife only carries a US passport and the rules would now bar her from even visiting there.

                        Unless we separate, we are thus both excluded from living in the place I was born. Others are, of course, in much worse situations, and many of my own friends and relatives lost lands and houses and all rights to visit/live in their homelands.

                        Today, two-thirds of the nearly 10 million Palestinians are refugees or displaced people. Dr. Sara Roy of Harvard documented in her books and research that
                        Israeli policies intentionally result in "de-development" of the Palestinian economy and thinning out of the Palestinian population while expanding
                        Jewish colonies and economy on Palestinian land.

                        Unfortunately, this is all done with support of our taxes and our US government protection in international fora. Of course, this is not good for the welfare of any people, including the Israeli public; only a tiny elite special interest group benefits at the expense of all others (Jews, Christians, and Muslims). Mr. Khoury's article, while appreciated, is far too mild to reflect the extent of this tragedy.

                        Sincerely,

                        Mazin Qumsiyeh, PhD
                        Member, steering committee of the US Campaign to End the Occupation
                        Executive Committee, Palestinian American Congress
                        Coordinator, Wheels of Justice tour (http://justicewheels.org)
                        http://qumsiyeh.org

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                          Open letter to Connecticut’s Electorate

                          English (US)  October 2nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                          Opinion

                          By Maher Osseiran

                          Lieberman lost the primary and Christopher Shays is changing his tune. One Democrat and one Republican - by affiliation, but not in politics - who have one thing in common: They never listened to those who elected them.

                          [More:]

                          Their voting records are not that different, their politics are the same, and they only paid lip service to their constituency by voting on matters that would generate votes from here and there, and insure their return to their seats.

                          I don’t have much direct contact with Lieberman, actually zilch, but because I lived in Shays’ neighborhood, I seem to have perfected the art of ambushing him and getting him to talk.

                          I guess he would not have said what he said to a journalist, or he might have while making it clear that it was off the record; well, I am not a journalist and I think it is my duty as a citizen to share my experience with you.

                          The Harborview Market in the Black Rock section of Bridgeport, Conn., is where all this took place. It is a wonderful little coffee shop, market, mini diner, where the neighbors congregate and openly discuss politics and social issues, a wonderful and unusual place.

                          It was early spring 2002 and, from my idealistic and naïve perspective, I felt that we needed as a nation an elected official who would champion the truth. Again, idealistic and naïve, I thought Christopher Shays might be a good candidate, so I sent him an email with the subject: “Would you champion the truth?”

                          I did not hear back from him.

                          Late that spring, I was with friends at Harborview and he happened to be there. I wanted to know why he had not answered my email and against the advice of my friends -- who said, “Don’t make an ass out of yourself!” -- I went up to him and asked why he hadn’t replied to my email.

                          He wanted to know what the subject of the email was. I told him what it was, and now that I had his attention I voiced my concern about the war in Iraq. I explained to him why it was so dangerous to go into Iraq, and how the Iraqis might react; I described the Iraqis’ reputation as nationalists, and how they would protect their country.

                          I gave tons of reasons why Iraq shouldn’t be invaded, but it felt like I was talking to a wall. I was not happy going back to my friends empty-handed. I asked Shays for permission to ask one last question, and he was gracious enough to grant it.

                          I said, “You are on the Merritt Parkway (for those outside Connecticut, the parkway is a scenic car-only road), and you happen to be behind an SUV. What is your first reaction?”
                          Shays said, “Pass it.”

                          I grinned and went on, “You are right, I would do that too. You need to pass it because you cannot see ahead of you and you want to know how traffic is moving, and an SUV is dangerous to you, the person behind it. It is also dangerous to the car in front of it because it cannot stop as fast. It is dangerous to those inside it because it rolls over so easily. It is dangerous to all around it because it pollutes so much. Can you please tell me what Christopher Shays, in his capacity as congressman, has done about the SUV menace?”

                          There was no answer.

                          This conversation took place more than four ago and it is only recently, and because of the elections, that Shays has discovered he harmful effects of SUV’s and featured them promptly in his campaign adds. And only because of the elections is Shays taking his halfway correct, save-his-butt, position on Iraq.

                          The electorate’s position on Iraq was loud and clear before the war even started. I was very proud to be one of 400 concerned citizens to attend one of a series of town hall meetings Mr. Shays called in order to discuss the upcoming Iraq war. Or was it to convince us of it?

                          The meeting I attended was airing on CSPAN, a fact known in advance to Mr. Shays, which potentially allowed him to stack the audience. For the record, the meeting was in Bedford Middle School in Westport, Conn. The town’s First selectwoman Diane Farrell, the Democrat now challenging Mr. Shays, did the introductions.

                          Mr. Shays opened the meeting by asking, “Who is against the war?” Around 50 percent of the audience raised their hands. Then he asked, “Who is for the war?” A cluster in the front raised their hands. Shays said, “25 percent. I guess 25 percent are undecided.”

                          The question and answer session started and I noticed that the microphone disproportionately went to 25% pro-war cluster. I also noticed that they were exiled Iraqis and Iraqi Kurds. I was fuming, convinced that a nationally televised town hall meeting was stacked.

                          There was an overwhelming and vocal majority against the war, and Shays got so frustrated to the point that he asked a question to the effect of, how are you going to get gas for you SUV’s?

                          That was insulting to the intellect of an unwavering opposition and was met with frowns and you could see many fidgeting in their seats.

                          His next attempt to deflect such opposition was even lamer. Shays said, “I know you are down on your country.” He was immediately booed and had to correct it by saying, “…down on your government”.

                          Later, audience members called him “condescending” and “patronizing,” but that did not stop him from defending the war.

                          I got permission to speak and stood up, nervous and trying to contain my disgust. I introduced myself as an Arab-American, pointed to my brothers, the Iraqis and Kurds in the cluster, and apologized to them on Shays’ behalf for using them and abusing them in order to propagandize a failed Middle East policy.

                          I also mentioned that I had lived in Turkey and that most of my friends there were Kurds, and had watched the Kurds being slaughtered at the hands of Turkish troops, a NATO ally, to the tune of 30,000 people in the early 90’s. I asked Shays where he was while they were being killed.

                          I did not need an answer from him; I knew he did nothing then to stop it. I was addressing his cluster of supporters, who understood my message and impressed me by what they did: They stood up and applauded.

                          I am not making things up; it is in the CSPAN archives and part of the public record.

                          I am not naïve anymore, but I am still an idealist. It is high time that our politicians in Connecticut and elsewhere stood for the truth, listened to their constituents, gave their constituents access, acted as servants of the people who elected them, and most importantly, acted in a timely fashion in the best interest of the country on every issue; foreign and domestic.

                          Demand this as a contract with whomever is running for office, for now only offered by the Greens, and don’t be fooled by a single vote about a single issue that you might be in favor of. Don’t be fooled by absurd and lame positions migrating from poll results, such as Farrell’s use of Rumsfeld as a doormat while never tackling the root cause and never properly supporting what you have been vocal about for so long; your opposition to the war in Iraq.

                          Remember it is not only Shays that heard the majority’s message in opposition to the Iraq war at that Bedford Middle School town meeting. Diane Farrell heard it too. We know he did not listen, was she a bad listener too?

                          As to Lieberman, he is just the other pea in the pod.

                          Maher Osseiran is an Arab-American, peace activist, and a member of Al-Awda, an organization advocating the right of return of the Palestinians. He can be reached at maher@mydemocracy.net. See also Sabra and Shatila and the Brave woman who awoke the press to the massacres
                          and Osama's confession; Osama's reprieve

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                            Things Go Better With Rights

                            English (US)  October 2nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                            Opinion from Online Wall Street Journal

                            By Zahi Khouri

                            IN 1995, I MOVED from a comfortable life in America to Ramallah,
                            Palestine, to invest in the most American of businesses there. I was
                            instrumental in bringing Coca-Cola to the Middle East in the early 1980s; after the Oslo Peace Accords were signed I decided to launch the Coke franchise in the West Bank and Gaza.

                            [More:]

                            Over the last decade, the business has grown. Today, Coca-Cola employs
                            hundreds of Palestinians and sells 10 million cases of Coke a year.

                            As a Palestinian American, this was more than a moneymaking venture.
                            Each gleaming bottle, with that red Coca-Cola swirl in both Arabic and
                            English, would be a miniature ambassador from America. And each
                            potential investor who saw that Coke was successful might decide to
                            invest as well. It seemed the perfect strategy: to promote American
                            interests while helping to build an economy that could serve as the
                            foundation of a viable, independent Palestinian state.

                            Following the peace accords, scores of other Palestinian Americans
                            moved to the West Bank and Gaza. Professors came to teach at
                            universities. Doctors came to help modernize the healthcare system and
                            treat patients. Artists came to exhibit and perform. Other business
                            professionals came to invest, modernize the economy and create jobs.
                            Each, in their way, wanted to help build an independent Palestine. Each
                            served as the real ambassadors of America, so different from the
                            American-made Apache helicopters and F-16 fighter jets Israel uses to
                            rain destruction on the Palestinian economy, cities and villages.

                            But Israel has decided that we Americans are not welcome. Many, like
                            me, have lived in the West Bank for more than a decade. Unlike American
                            Jews -- or Jews from anywhere -- who can receive instant citizenship
                            upon arrival, we are unable to obtain residency. Instead, we Christian
                            and Muslim Palestinians must rely on our American passports, renewing
                            our tourist visas every three months. A hassle, yes, but the only way
                            to stay in Palestine, often in the homes our families have inhabited
                            for generations.

                            Since Hamas assumed government authority after democratic elections
                            this year, Israel has begun to deny Palestinian Americans the right to
                            enter. We are left to wonder why.

                            This new policy could be another turn of the screw to pressure Hamas.
                            It could be manufactured as a painless concession for future
                            negotiations. It could be one more tactic in Israel's drive -- which
                            began in 1948 with the expulsion of more than 700,000 Palestinians --
                            to empty as much land of as many Palestinians as possible.

                            We do not know the reason for denying entry to Palestinian Americans.
                            But we do know the result. In addition to breaking families apart --
                            for example one spouse with children in the West Bank, and the other
                            unable to return from visits to the U.S. -- it is discouraging
                            investors. It is driving out the very people the U.S. State Department,
                            the World Bank and other international organizations encouraged to
                            return. We are the ones building businesses, creating jobs and
                            inspiring hope for a better future.

                            Using the pretext of security, Israeli policies of home demolitions,
                            land confiscation, restrictions on movement and construction of the
                            separation wall have choked the Palestinian economy. According to the
                            U.N., more than 540 checkpoints and other structures impede movement
                            throughout the West Bank, and crossings into Gaza are rarely open. Gaza
                            represents 30% of the Palestinian economy. Yet we cannot ship goods
                            from the West Bank to Gaza. And Gaza cannot import raw materials for
                            processing, even though it possesses a talented labor force. Israel has
                            also been refusing to turn over nearly $55 million a month (now
                            totaling roughly $400 million) in Palestinian tax revenue. With the
                            cutoff of international aid, this has led to a humanitarian
                            catastrophe. Since March, Palestinian Authority employees -- about
                            one-quarter of the labor force -- have not received their salaries.

                            Israel will not gain security by creating Mogadishu next to Silicon
                            Valley. Only an open and thriving Palestinian economy can lay the
                            foundation for a sustainable peace.

                            Our humanitarian crisis is not the result of a natural catastrophe.
                            There was no tsunami, earthquake or drought. We helped to build
                            nations. We have the natural resources and human capital to build a
                            thriving, stable Palestinian economy as well. We do not need
                            international handouts. We need the free movement of people and goods.
                            We need unrestricted gateways between the occupied Palestinian
                            territory and the rest of the world.

                            American policy makers have tremendous influence with Israel. They
                            should use it to insist on freedom of movement of people and goods, and
                            to maintain access for Palestinian Americans and Palestinians with
                            other foreign passports to continue to play a role in economic
                            development. A vibrant Palestinian economy serves the interests of all
                            -- Palestinians, Israelis and Americans.

                            Online Wall Street Journal

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                              Al Jazeera sets English launch date

                              English (US)  October 1st, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                              The channel will air from four broadcast centres

                              Al Jazeera is to launch its English-language news and current affairs channel on November 15.

                              [More:]

                              The Al Jazeera Network on Tuesday announced that the channel will begin broadcasting from its Doha headquarters at 12 pm GMT on that day.

                              The English channel is part of the Al Jazeera Network and the sister channel to Al Jazeera. The announcement of the channel's forthcoming launch coincides with the 10-year anniversary of Al Jazeera Arabic language channel.

                              Wadah Khanfar, director general of the Al Jazeera Network said: "We are extremely proud of what Al Jazeera has achieved over the past ten years. Al Jazeera today is an international media organisation. Al Jazeera English will build on the pioneering spirit of Al Jazeera and will carry our media model... to the entire world."

                              "The launching of the English channel offers the chance to reach out to a new audience that is used to hearing the name of 'Al Jazeera' without being able to watch it or to understand its language.

                              "The new channel will provide the same ground-breaking news and impartial and balanced journalism to the English speaking world," he said.

                              The English channel will have broadcast centres in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington DC.

                              English Al Jazeera

                              211 words posted in Media WatchLeave a comment

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                                SUCH GUP

                                English (US)  October 1st, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                BUSH: Where’ve you bin pal?

                                Mush: In the Line of Fire.

                                [More:]

                                Bush: Had a to-do with the Washington press corps? What did they ask ya?

                                Mush: They asked, “Where’s bin Laden?” I said “I don’t know” and they all laughed their heads off.

                                Bush: So yer book tour’s gone well. D’you think we can now git down ta some bilateral talk?

                                Mush: Can we do it on-camera for say 60 minutes or Oprah so that I can plug my book again?

                                Bush: I’ll hafta ask Condi (OUCH!) … er WHAT KINDA SILLY REQUEST IS THAT PERVE? IS THE BOOK THE ONLY THING YA CARE ABOUT?

                                Mush: Err, well, yes actually.

                                Bush: Hey d’ya think when I write mah memoirs or rather when Laura writes em for me, I could also git a state-sponsored book tour, like you’ve got yer Pakistinians ter pay fer yours?

                                Mush: I’m sure the super rich Pakistani nation will be delighted to pay for another book tour. But for that I’ll have to make you PM after I get rid of Shortcut.

                                Bush: Yeah? Ya mean I git ta be Prime Minister a Pakistan?

                                Mush: Certainly.

                                Bush: Gee Perve what a great ide – OUCH!! …. (Off line: what? I cain’t take that jaab? Why naat? The Queen a England’s head a whole swathe a countries like Pak-stan an’ – Commonwealth? What’s that? – Who? Him? Err OK).

                                PERVE, YER LEADIN’ ME ASTRAY AN PUTTIN STOOPID IDEAS IN MAH HEAD AN IF YOU DON’T QUIT I’M GONNA –

                                Mush: Bomb me back to the Stone Age? Can you say that on the record so that I can tell the New York Times and promote the sale of my b

                                Bush: Book! Yer goddamned BOOK!

                                Mush: May I speak to Dr Rice?

                                Bush: How d’you know she’s standin’ right beside me breathin’ down mah neck? OUCH!

                                Mush: I have actionable intelligence to that effect from the ISI.

                                Bush: D’you wanna talk ta her about the war on terrrrr?

                                Mush: I just want her to introduce me to Oprah, so that I can get her to endorse my boo

                                Bush: Don’t say it. Yer book. Sorry pal, yer outta luck. Condi doesn’t know Oprah.

                                Mush: She does. They were spotted in a red Porsche last night.

                                Bush: Really? Who was drivin’?

                                Mush: The policeman.

                                Times of India

                                402 words posted in Humor/SatireLeave a comment

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                                  American Empire: US set to punish Iran's partners

                                  English (US)  October 1st, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                  The measure is seen as a clear warning to Russia and China

                                  THE US CONGRESS has approved a new set of sanctions against countries that continue nuclear cooperation with Iran and those that sell it advanced weaponry.

                                  [More:]

                                  However, mindful of the situation in Iraq, Congressmen warned that nothing in the document should be "construed as authorising the use of force against Iran".

                                  Although it does not name any country, the measure is seen as a clear warning to Russia and China, two key members of the UN Security Council who have been resisting calls for new international sanctions against Tehran in response to its refusal to halt uranium enrichment.

                                  Russia has been involved in an $800 million project to help Iran build a nuclear power plant in Bushehr and has been selling it weapons, while China has been accused of supplying it with advanced missile technology.

                                  The bill was passed by the senate on Saturday after clearing the House of Representatives a day earlier. It came as Iran and the EU are engaged in delicate negotiations designed to persuade the former to halt its enrichment work and avoid a major international showdown.

                                  Bill Frist, the US senate majority leader, said: "Enactment of this legislation ensures that ILSA [the Iran and Libya Sanctions Act] will continue to impede Iran's efforts to acquire nuclear weapons.

                                  "This act also provides important new authority for the administration to block financial transactions related to Iran's weapons of mass destruction programmes, and encourages the administration to use all available leverage over Russia to gain Russian support for multilateral sanctions against Iran."

                                  Reactions

                                  Senator Norm Coleman said: "For the sake of our national security, the US must ensure that the sensitive nuclear technology that we share with partner countries does not fall into the hands of the Iranians.

                                  "The Iranians have demonstrated that they are deceitful, obstructionist and bent on destroying Israel and all of Western civilization. We know where this path is going to lead. Aiding Iran to become a nuclear power, even inadvertently, is unacceptable."

                                  Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, a Republican Representative and a sponsor of the bill, hailed its passage by saying that it would deny Iran "the technical assistance, financial resources and political legitimacy to develop nuclear weapons and support terrorism".

                                  Tom Lantos, the top Democrat on the House International Affairs Committee, argued that the world should use every peaceful means possible "to defeat Iran's reckless nuclear military ambitions".

                                  English Al Jazeera

                                  406 words posted in American EmpireLeave a comment

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                                    Bush pressures Abbas to dissolve democratically elected Palestinian government

                                    English (US)  September 30th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                    Source says U.S. wants Palestinian government dissolved

                                    A SENIOR PALESTINIAN SOURCE told Ynet news agency Thursday that "pressure applied by the United States on (President) Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is preventing the establishment of a unity government in the Palestinian Authority."

                                    [More:]

                                    According to the source, difficulties in the talks between Abbas and Hamas regarding a unity government began to surface shortly after Abbas' meeting with US consul general in Jerusalem, Jack Wallace, a few days before the president left for the US to attend the opening of the UN General Assembly.

                                    The source added that during the meeting Wallace communicated to Abbas the unequivocal message that the US opposes the establishment of
                                    a unity government.

                                    Wallace told Abbas that he would hear the same message during his meetings with President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The source said the Americans made it clear to Abbas that the correct move from their standpoint would be to dissolve the parliament and establish an interim Palestinian government followed by general elections.

                                    The US asked Abbas to better prepare Fatah for the next elections, according to the source.

                                    The Americans further requested that Abbas not cooperate on the transfer of funds to be used for the payment of salaries to PA officials prior to the Ramadan holiday, as this would be credited to the Hamas-led government.

                                    The officials are expected to receive an advance on their salaries over the weekend.

                                    The source said the current chances for the establishment of PA unity government are slim, despite the fact that Abbas supports such a move. As a result, the sources said, the situation in the Authority is likely to deteriorate to a direct confrontation between Hamas and Fatah. The fact that some family members of senior Fatah officials have left the PA is indicative of the expected eruption of violence, the source said.

                                    According to the source, such a confrontation can only be prevented if Israel's threats are carried out and it launches a wide-ranging operation in the Gaza Strip.

                                    Among PA officials, the assessment is that such an operation is only a matter of time, the source said. "The question is if it will happen after the chapter of the kidnapped Israeli soldier ends or before Gilad Shalit is released," he said.

                                    Regarding the prisoner swap, the source said contacts were continuing but technical details related to the timing of the exchanges were holding up Shalit's release.

                                    It appears that the obstacles blocking a Palestinian unity government, American pressures and the blame-slinging between Hamas and Fatah are causing Hamas to reconsider the group's positions on the political plane.

                                    Palestinian Minister of Labor Abd al-Rahman Zidan said that within Hamas, deep and serious deliberations were ongoing on the possibility of establishing a government led by more professionals and fewer politicians, and headed by an independent figure.

                                    In a conversation with Palestinian news agency Ramatan, Zidan said that such a government would enjoy a security net, and would allow a distinction between the government actions and Hamas' political stances, which the group doesn't intend to modify.

                                    According to Zidan, this would not be a surrender on the part of Hamas, "but there are international conditions that Hamas can't accept, and therefore we must take steps to prevent excuses."

                                    The Palestinian minister was apparently referring to the excuses that are preventing the international community from lifting the economic and diplomatic blockade on the Palestinian government.

                                    Big News Network

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                                      Chavez draws the peoples' support

                                      English (US)  September 30th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                      By Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today


                                      Photo by Gale Courey Toensing -- During his recent visit to New York to address the U.N. General Assembly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez gave a speech at Cooper Union where he stood under a huge banner with photos of Abraham Lincoln and Franciso Miranda, drawing a parallel between the American president who liberated America's slaves and the Venezuelan revolutionary leader who took 10 New Yorkers to Venezuela in 1806 to liberate his country from Spanish colonialism.

                                      NEW YORK - While America's politicians denounced Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez for calling President Bush "the devil" and criticizing U.S. imperialism at the United Nations, an audience of exuberant workers, intellectuals, labor unionists, artists, students and minorities embraced Chavez's call for solidarity in the global struggle for social justice, equality, and human rights.

                                      [More:]

                                      At the 61st session of the U.N. General Assembly in New York Sept. 20, Chavez called Bush a ''devil'' whose imperialist policies threaten the survival of the world. In the past, Bush has called Chavez ''evil'' and ''an enemy of the American people.''

                                      Politicians from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., to Republican Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice united in Bush's defense.

                                      But a cheering, chanting crowd of people later welcomed Chavez in the historic 900-seat Great Hall of Cooper Union, a college founded in 1859 by Peter Cooper, the son of a working man and a high school dropout turned wealthy entrepreneur and philanthropist.

                                      The atmosphere was repeated the next day when Chavez spoke to American Indians, blacks and Latinos at the inauguration of Venezuela's U.S. heating oil program.

                                      ''We love him,'' said Fredy Tejada, an El Salvadoran union organizer with the Service Employees International Union.

                                      ''We think what he's doing is extremely important. He's bringing changes that no one has ever done for the people of Venezuela and he's sharing the oil wealth with the rest of Latin America,'' Tejada said, citing a program that brings El Salvadorans to Venezuela for eye surgery free of charge.

                                      More governments are adopting socialism, Tejada said, because ''people understand we've been exploited and abused for many years by the U.S. government and multinational corporations that have brought poverty to our countries, and we want to change that.''

                                      With a long and antagonistic relationship with Washington, Chavez distinguished between the people and the U.S. government.

                                      ''We are not the enemy of the American people - that is a lie. We are the friend of the American people. We want to seek roads of cooperation, friendship and full cultural and educational exchange,'' Chavez said, adding he hopes Americans will choose an ''intelligent president with whom we can talk like brothers, like equals, with respect and dignity.''

                                      During the past eight years, Venezuela has implemented programs to combat disease, illiteracy, malnutrition, poverty and other social ills among the population's 80 percent living in poverty.

                                      Under its socialist economy, the country's oil profits have shifted from private corporations to public projects to improve the lives of poor Venezuelans, Latin Americans and North Americas, including American Indians.

                                      ''We're setting up cooperatives and eliminating the capitalist intermediate. [For this] they call me a tyrant. Well, tough, tough. What we're doing in Venezuela is transferring power to the people. For the U.S., the rich get richer and the poor are getting poorer. That is not democracy; that is tyranny,'' Chavez said.

                                      Venezuela barters oil for needed products or services - pregnant cows from Bolivia, medical equipment from Argentina and 40,000 doctors from Cuba.

                                      ''How good it would be for the government of Venezuela to establish an energy agreement with the government of the U.S. with regard to health and education,'' Chavez said.

                                      Rounds of applause and chants of ''Long live socialism for the 21st century!'' and ''The people united will never be divided!'' punctuated Chavez's lengthy speech.

                                      He encouraged Americans to read the works of Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King Jr., John Kennedy and Mark Twain, who espoused anti-imperialist politics.

                                      ''We are enemies of imperialism,'' Chavez said, holding up a copy of writer and professor Noam Chomsky's new book, ''Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States,'' which he also recommended during his U.N. speech.

                                      Chomsky's book shot to No. 1 on the www.amazon.com best seller list two days later.

                                      Venezuela is vying with Guatemala for a nonpermanent seat on the U.N. Security Council, a move the U.S. government has openly opposed in what Chavez called ''an immoral attack.''

                                      He also blasted the United States and Israel for their wars and military occupations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, but gave a warm greeting to a group of rabbis from Neterei Karta, an anti-Zionist group of Orthodox Jews founded in Jerusalem in 1938. Earlier, the rabbis demonstrated at the United Nations in support of Iran, with signs reading, ''Judaism Condemns Zionist Provocations Against Iran.''

                                      Chavez, who backs Iran's right to develop peaceful nuclear energy, warned of skyrocketing oil prices if the United States interferes in Venezuelan politics or attacks Iran. He said the United States funded a coup attempt against him in 2002, a claim U.S. officials deny.

                                      ''We have said if the U.S. is aggressive to Venezuela like they were before, then we would suspend oil. The same thing was said by the president of Iran. If the U.S. invades Iran, the price of oil could go up to $200 a barrel. You'd be paying $20 a gallon for oil, and only very wealthy people could afford that,'' Chavez said.

                                      Singer and human rights activist Harry Belafonte introduced Chavez at the event, which was attended by dozens of dignitaries.

                                      ''I'm struck with the beauty and preciseness of the choice of Cooper Union for this event,'' Belafonte said, referring to the building's historic role as a public space where Lincoln, Twain, Susan B. Anthony and a host of social and political reformers and artists have spoken.

                                      ''This institution represents the best in our humanity. This platform is only open to people who have the thoughts and ideas that enhance our common humanity and, obviously, its tradition continues to unfold in this event,'' Belafonte said.

                                      Indian Country Today

                                      2 response(s) to Chavez draws the peoples' support

                                      1. Scoville Soule [Visitor] says:

                                        It's ok for Bush to call Iran an "axis of evil" but not ok for chavez to call Bush "the devil". Where's the logic here? It's also ok for Israel and the US to have atomkc weaponry, loads of it, but not Iran. Double standards are in vogue.

                                      2. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                        It's to bad you really don't know what your talking about, and think about the freedom you have in saying what you do and your still alive to appreciate another day. You have the right, now do something to give thanks for it or go live in CHEEKO"S Country!!!!

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                                      Congress approves Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area

                                      English (US)  September 30th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                      Beckley Furnace, North Canaan. Photo courtesy Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area.

                                      The United States Senate today passed legislation designating 29 Towns in northwestern Connecticut and southwestern Massachusetts as a National Heritage Area. The legislation, having previously been passed by the House of Representatives, will now go to the president for signature.

                                      [More:]

                                      "The people of this area have worked hard for this” said Sharon’s Ed Kirby, a director of the management entity, “and it will greatly benefit the whole region”. “We owe a great deal to Connecticut Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, who led the effort with the strong support of Congressman Olver and our four senators” added Ron Jones, chairman of the Heritage Area.

                                      Designation will create a federal-local partnership, providing support for celebrating and preserving the region’s cultural, natural and historical heritage. All decisions will be made at the local level and, as provided in the legislation, no private property rights will be affected. Pursuant to earlier legislation, the National Park Service had studied the area and in 2003 found that all criteria for designation had been met. The new area will join with some 25 previously designated heritage areas, including several in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.

                                      The management not-for-profit entity, Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area, Inc., has already helped spearhead several heritage projects, including an annual October Weekend of Heritage Walks, an African-American Heritage Trail with an accompanying book, an Iron Heritage Trail brochure and a heritage indoctrination course for local teachers.

                                      “We were told early on that if we wanted to be designated a Heritage Area we should start acting like one” noted Dalton’s Steve Sears With the designation, the NHA will continue to work closely with other local organizations in carrying out the mission.

                                      The quest for designation had broad support throughout the area, including heritage and environmental organizations, local chambers of commerce, local and state governmental officials, schools, businesses and many individuals.

                                      “The region’s heritage is one of our greatest assets,” added Lakeville’s Ward Belcher, “and the designation will not only add to our quality of life but also benefit the economy.”

                                      For more information visit Upper Housatonic Valley Naational Heritge Are

                                      360 words posted in General NewsLeave a comment

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                                        Viewpoints: The Holy Father and our European problem

                                        English (US)  September 30th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                        Editorial

                                        By: Editors Report / Indian Country Today

                                        POPE BENEDICT XVI has joined the ranks of mild-mannered scholars who find themselves in the middle of ferocious controversy for what they thought was an academic remark. Evidently shocked by the reaction to a lecture he gave in September, he met on Sept. 25 with ambassadors from Islamic countries to smooth things over. We sympathize with the Holy Father, but some unexplored aspects of the controversy hold great interest for indigenous people. Perhaps in his willingness to apologize, he might turn his attention to the American Indian.

                                        [A]n indigenous audience has to find great irony in Christian complaints about spreading faith through violence, after the history of the Spanish conquests in America and the more insidious compulsions of the Indian agents in the United States.

                                        Full editorial at Indian Country Today

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                                          Venezuela offers cheap heating oil

                                          English (US)  September 29th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                          By Estar Holmes / Today correspondent
                                          By Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

                                          NEW YORK - An unprecedented gift of warmth is destined for North American reservations this winter, where tribal governments have been offered drastically discounted heating oil by Venezuela's nationally owned petroleum company.

                                          The offer comes through Houston-based CITGO Petroleum Corp., which has committed to 10 million gallons of fuel for tribes at a 40 percent discount, with the discounted portion treated as a charitable donation to American Indians and Alaska Native governments.


                                          Full story at: Indian Country Today

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                                            Scholarly conference highlights federal recognition, sovereignty

                                            English (US)  September 29th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                            By Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

                                            PORTLAND, Maine - Federal recognition and tribal sovereignty moved into the academic arena as featured topics at the annual New England American Studies Association Conference this year.

                                            Full story at Indian Country Today

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                                              "Human Heart Explodes"

                                              English (US)  September 29th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                              by Christine Stuart

                                              “Human Heart Explodes,” a documentary film produced and written by two Hartford area natives will premiere 10:30 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 1 at Real Art Ways in Hartford.

                                              The film produced and written by Matt Orefice and directed by Helder Mira documents the struggles of one man’s desire to build a kindergarten in a Macedonian town where the mayor won’t speak to him and those who aren’t part of the Roma minority are hurt foreigners are helping the group of Roma Gypsies. \

                                              More at: CT News Junkie

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                                                Two teenagers killed in Gaza strike

                                                English (US)  September 29th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                Israelis continue serial genocide in Gaza


                                                The boys were riding bicycles when they were hit

                                                TWO TEENAGE BOYS have been killed by an Israeli military strike in northern Gaza.

                                                Witnesses said that the two boys were riding bicycles in the street near the entrance of Bait Hanun town when a missile fired by an Israeli reconnaissance plane hit them.

                                                [More:]

                                                An Aljazeera correspondent said their bodies were badly lacerated, making it difficult to identify them.

                                                The Israeli army said it could not release details on the attack, but said it had fired at two men suspected of involvement in firing rockets into Israel.

                                                An army spokeswoman said the two had been hit as they were collecting a launcher that had been used several times over the past week to fire rockets from northern Gaza.

                                                She said they had been hit by ground forces, not from the air, but would not confirm what sort of weaponry was used.

                                                Witnesses said the two boys did not have weapons on them.

                                                Aljazeera + Agencies

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                                                  UN tells of Israeli border violation

                                                  English (US)  September 29th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                  Israel has violated the UN-drawn border it shares with Lebanon, the spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon says.

                                                  [More:]

                                                  The spokesman would not provide details about the violation, but an Associated Press photographer who witnessed Thursday's incident said an Israeli armoured vehicle and two jeeps drove through the border fence and tried to penetrate further into Lebanese territory when UN French peacekeepers blocked their path.

                                                  The incident came six weeks after a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah fighters went into effect in the region, and happened near the Lebanese border village of Marwaheen.

                                                  It ended peacefully after a standoff that lasted about half an hour, the photographer said.

                                                  The Israeli army confirmed that its troops came close to the French peacekeepers on Thursday but said there was no conflict between the two sides.

                                                  Israeli forces have been operating inside Lebanon in the Marwaheen area since the ceasefire took effect and would continue to operate there until it is transferred over to international peacekeepers, the army said.

                                                  No details

                                                  Alexander Ivanko, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force known as Unifil, would not provide details about the violation but also said there was no standoff.

                                                  "The French peacekeepers observed an Israeli violation of the Blue Line and reported it to the Unifil command," Ivanko said, referring to the UN-demarcated line between Lebanon and Israel.

                                                  The UN peacekeeping force began deploying in southern Lebanon last month to cement the UN-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah fighters.

                                                  Ivanko said the UN expects the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon to be completed by the end of the month. But Israeli officials said on Thursday that they were reluctant to complete the pullout.

                                                  The AP photographer said he saw French peacekeepers talk with Israeli soldiers after UN tanks blocked the Israeli vehicle and jeeps from driving further into Lebanon. After a peaceful standoff that lasted about a half hour, the Israeli armoured vehicle and the two jeeps moved back into Israel, and UN peacekeepers remained at the site, the photographer said.

                                                  Remaining soldiers

                                                  Israeli security officials say a few thousand Israeli troops are still just across the border in Lebanon, left over from a large-scale Israeli offensive that followed a July 12 cross-border raid by Hezbollah fighters, who killed three soldiers and captured two others.

                                                  The Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon is a key component of the UN ceasefire that took effect August 14 and ended the 34 days of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah. More than 850 Lebanese were killed, mostly civilians, and almost 160 Israelis died in the war.

                                                  The truce is outlined in a UN Security Council resolution, which calls for an international force of 15,000 UN peacekeeping troops to join 15,000 Lebanese soldiers in patrolling a buffer zone in southern Lebanon to prevent renewed hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah.
                                                  English Al Jazeera

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                                                    Poet Robin Magowan at UConn Torrington

                                                    English (US)  September 29th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                    Public Service Announcement

                                                    Discussion of selections from Memoirs of a Minotaur

                                                    Torrington – Poet and travel writer Robin Magowan will speak about his book, Memoirs of A Minotaur: From Merrill Lynch to Patty Hearst to Poetry, as part of the University of Connecticut Litchfield County Writers Project’s fall lecture series “Writers of Litchfield County: Nonfiction and Memoir” on October 4 from 6:30 p.m. t 9 p.m. in the Francis W. Hogan auditorium, in the M. Adella Eads Classroom Building at the UConn Torrington Campus. An excerpt from his memoir is available in the course packet for English 217 at the UConn Torrington Bookstore. The talk will be followed by a book signing and reception.

                                                    [More:]

                                                    The grandson of the powerful and well-known financier Charles Merrill and the nephew of the renowned poet James Merrill, Robin Magowan received a B.A. from Harvard, an M.A. from Columbia, and a Ph.D in Comparative Literature from Yale, and went on to teach at the University of Washington and the University of California at Berkeley.

                                                    An academic who considered himself “imprisoned in a sacred labyrinth” of a life of affluence and privilege, Magowan eventually found himself as a poet and expatriate.

                                                    In 1963, he published the limited edition Voyage Noir: Journal of a trip to Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica, June 21-August 1, 1958.” Moving to France in 1973, then to London in 1978, he founded the transatlantic review Margin in 1986 which he edited until 1990.

                                                    Magowan has said “All writers risk their identities, some with each sentence.” Davyne Verstandig, Director of the Litchfield County Writers Project and professor for the English 217 course, agrees and goes on to say, “Magowan’s prose is that of a poet and his reflections are those of a traveler of the human heart.”

                                                    The author of seven books of poetry, Magowan also published a translation of the French painter and writer, Henri Michaux’s Ecuador. Another of Magowan’s engaging books is his book of travel writing, Improbable Journeys. James Merrill said of this book “He travels in order to love, he loves in order to find himself elsewhere. From deep in this or that interior his reader gets postcards; dissolving views, myth-haunted, radiantly dislocated particulars.”

                                                    Robin Magowan’s book, Lilac Cigarette in a Wish Cathedral, was chosen for the “James Dickey Contemporary Poetry” series. His most recent collection of poetry is The Rim of Dawn.

                                                    For more information, contact Genevieve Kvam at 860/626-6852 or genevieve.kvam@uconn.edu.

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                                                      Even-handed diplomacy

                                                      English (US)  September 28th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                      0 words posted in Humor/SatireLeave a comment

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                                                        Upper Housatonic Heritage District congressional vote unlikely

                                                        English (US)  September 28th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                        A vote designating the Housatonic River area as a national Heritage District, which would provide $1 million a year in grants to fund preservation, education and tourism projects, is unlikely to occur before Congress recesses for the mid-term election next week.

                                                        Full story at Kent Tribune

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                                                          War film puts French racism in focus

                                                          English (US)  September 28th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                          Half of France's war-time army came from colonised countries

                                                          FRANCE'S DISRIMINATORY TREATMENT of its former African subjects will be laid bare this week with the release of a new film set in World War II, which has already lit a fire under President Jacques Chirac.

                                                          [More:]

                                                          Days of Glory, Indigenes in France, tells the story of a band of Moroccans and Algerians who fight valiantly in the French army against the German forces, ultimately marching deep into France itself.

                                                          As they progress, so does their realisation that they are unjustly seen as second-class soldiers by their white superiors, the first signs of a pervasive racism that has taken root and led to resentment and an "us and them" sentiment among North African immigrants in France today.

                                                          Critics say the film itself, which is reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan in places, is flawed in its pursuit of cliches, but that its political message is powerful and topical enough to fill cinemas across the country.

                                                          Emotionally charged

                                                          The US film trade magazine Variety called it "emotionally charged though predictable", while the French newspaper Liberation said it was "a hugely effective militant film".

                                                          First shown at the Cannes film festival in May this year - it picked up a collective best acting award for all five male leads - it has gone on to win attention at other festivals around the world.


                                                          Chirac had a private viewing of
                                                          the film early this month

                                                          The film's French-Algerian director, Rachid Bouchareb, has said that the idea of the story had been floating around in his head for years, but that material documenting the North African recruits in the French army was difficult to find.

                                                          "My principal aim was to understand my own past," he told Liberation. "What did our ancestors, of us, children of immigrants, experience under the [French] colonisation? What role did our grandparents and our parents play in the war and reconstruction of France?"

                                                          Inequities

                                                          For a France grappling with the aftermath of urban riots nearly a year ago, led by immigrant youths who feel no identification with society, the film will focus attention on the inequities and solutions being sought.

                                                          It also highlights the disparity in pensions paid to French war veterans and to non-French who fought alongside them. The difference is significant: whereas a former French soldier can receive $875 a month, a Moroccan veteran gets less than one-tenth of that.

                                                          Chirac, who had a private viewing of the film early this month, has promised to correct that situation, to push along a 2001 court ruling which ordered the French government to increase the pensions for non-French veterans.

                                                          Already, in his Bastille Day address to the nation on July 14, he said he would reduce the inequality of the pensions, and the government is currently casting around for ways to find money to finance the move.

                                                          Heroes

                                                          According to historians, France's war-time army counted 550,000 soldiers, of which more than half came from colonised countries - including 134,000 Algerians, 73,000 Moroccans, 26,000 Tunisians and 92,000 from sub-Saharan Africa.

                                                          One of the film's best-known actors, Jamel Debbouze, a French comic of Moroccan descent who notably featured in the hit film Amelie, was also co-producer.

                                                          He told the weekend newspaper Le Journal du Dimanche that he hoped that the film would "finally burst the boil" and that through it, "the kids in the suburbs rediscover their identity".

                                                          For the first time, he said, "they will see on the big screen heroes that look like them".

                                                          English Al Jazeera

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                                                            Mona Lisa reveals reason for smile

                                                            English (US)  September 28th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                            Da Vinci's painting was scanned by scientists

                                                            MONA LISA, THE MYSTERIOUS WOMAN immortalised in Leonardo da Vinci's 16th century masterpiece, had just given birth to her second son when she sat for the painting, according to scientists.

                                                            [More:]

                                                            The discovery was made by a team of Canadian scientists who used special infrared and three-dimensional technology to peer through hitherto impenetrable paint layers on the work, which now sits in the Louvre museum in Paris.

                                                            Bruno Mottin of the French Museums' Centre for Research and Restoration said that on very close examination of the painting it became clear that the Mona Lisa's dress was covered in a thin transparent gauze veil.

                                                            He said: "This type of gauze dress ... was typical of the kind worn in early 16th century Italy by women who were pregnant or who had just given birth. This is something that had never been seen up to now because the painting was always judged to be dark and difficult to examine.

                                                            "We can now say that this painting by Leonardo da Vinci was painted to commemorate the birth of the second son of the Mona Lisa, which helps us to date it more precisely to around 1503."

                                                            Half smile

                                                            The young woman with the ambiguous half smile has been identified as Lisa Gherardini, wife of Florentine merchant Francesco de Giocondo. She had five children.

                                                            Mottin also said that, contrary to popular belief, the subject had not let her hair hang freely but in fact wore a bonnet from which only a few curls managed to escape.

                                                            He said: "People always wrote that the Mona Lisa had allowed her hair to hang freely over her shoulders. This greatly surprised historians because letting your hair hang freely during the Renaissance was typical of young girls and women of poor virtue."

                                                            The experts from Canada's National Research Council said the painting was in fragile condition but should not suffer too much damage if taken care of properly.

                                                            No risk

                                                            The NRC said in a statement: "The wood panel on which the Mona Lisa is painted is sensitive to temperature and climate variations. However, if its current storage conditions are maintained, there is no risk of degradation.

                                                            "The 12cm split on the top half of the painting, which was probably due to the removal of the original frame and repaired between the middle of the 18th and beginning of the 19th century, appears to be stable and has not worsened over time."

                                                            The council had hoped to discover more details about Leonardo's "sfumato" technique of subtly blending one tone into another, which the artist used to create a hazy effect. But scientist John Taylor said the team had been frustrated by the lack of brush stroke detail on the painting.

                                                            "It's extremely thinly painted and extremely flat, and yet the details of the curls of hair, for example are extremely distinct. So the technique is unlike anything we've ever seen before. Leonardo was in a league of his own."

                                                            Masterpiece

                                                            Close examination of the craquelure - the fine pattern of cracks formed on old paintings - showed the paint layers were still firmly attached to the poplar wood panel on which Leonardo created his masterpiece.

                                                            Taylor said: "We didn't see any sign of paint lifting. So for a 500-year-old painting it's very good news. And if they continue to keep it the way they have in an environment-controlled chamber, it could remain like that for a very long time."

                                                            English Al Jazeera

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                                                              Business Leader Endorses DeStefano

                                                              English (US)  September 28th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                              By Christine Stuart

                                                              The vice president of a manufacturing company and self-identified Republican publicly endorsed Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Mayor John DeStefano Wednesday in Hartford.

                                                              Roger Joyce, vice president of engineering at Bilco Company, said DeStefano, a Democrat, is better for the state’s business climate and job growth than Gov. M. Jodi Rell. But one of DeStefano's ideas for creating a more business-friendly climate may have been taken straight from Rell's playbook.

                                                              Full story at CT News Junkie

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                                                                Harman attacks Johnson’s attack ad on Murphy & surveillance

                                                                English (US)  September 27th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                IN A FLURRY of teleconferences and press releases, the leading Democrat and Republican on the House Intelligence Committee respectively criticized and defended U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson’s ad on state Sen. Chris Murphy and the issue of warrantless wiretaps Wednesday.

                                                                The NIE released yesterday never says that Iraq has made the terrorism situation worse and, in fact, reached a different conclusion. -- Johnson press release

                                                                [More:]

                                                                Murphy is challenging Johnson, who is seeking her 13th term in the Fifth Congressional District seat. Johnson’s controversial ad (click here), which was launched mid-September, was widely criticized (click here) by Fifth District residents, officials, and even conservative newspapers, and set the Murphy-Johnson race into high gear.

                                                                On Wednesday, U.S. Rep. Jane Harman (D-Ca.), the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, held a teleconference to disucss "Nancy Johnson's desperate attacks on Chris Murphy." She said Johnson’s ad presented a “misleading” representation of the current Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, a law that lays out the rules on wire tapping suspected terrorists.

                                                                The law was passed in 1978 in response to former President Richard Nixon’s abusive and unlawful surveillance of U.S. citizens.

                                                                Johnson’s office issued a press release saying House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra held a 30-minute teleconference Wednesday “in which he directly refuted claims by Chris Murphy that an emergency FISA warrant can be obtained in a matter of minutes,” although it was Harman, not Murphy, who made that claim during her teleconference.

                                                                Meanwhile, Murphy issued a press release describing a new television ad that began to air Wednesday, which refers to the National Intelligence (NIE) report issued Tuesday. The NIE, which was prepared by 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, says the U.S. war in Iraq is “shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives” and increasing the threat of terrorism in the U.S. and around the world.

                                                                Harman said she was taken aback by Johnson’s ad and wanted to set the record straight on the FISA.

                                                                “I’ve known and worked with Nancy Johnson for years in Congress and I am surprised that she would air an ad that is not an accurate portrayal of how the law on eavesdropping works and I think it’s important to be sure that the press in her district and the voters have a chance to understand how that law works,” Harman said.

                                                                Harman said the Johnson ad gives the impression that if the government wants to eavesdrop on somebody, “we have to file a bunch of paperwork and we lose precious time and we might lose the lead and that is not what current law provides.”

                                                                Foreign-to- foreign calls can be monitored without any U.S. legal ramifications, Harman said. “We can monitor these people, period. And we do that to great effect and our intelligence agencies for years have been very good at tracking foreign-to-foreign calls,” Harman said.

                                                                It gets trickier when one of the callers is in the U.S., Harman said. That’s when the FISA law kicks in. If the government is listening in on conversations or reading the email of someone in the U.S., the spy agency has to get a court warrant from a secret court, called the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, “and you have to prove probable cause that that person is an agent of a foreign power or linked to an agent of a foreign power,” Harman said.

                                                                The monitoring can take place immediately and a warrant sought within 72 hours, Harman said. In some emergency cases, approval for a warrant can be given orally within minutes.

                                                                By mentioning the need for paperwork, Johnson’s ad “is giving you a false choice because paperwork is required whatever happens, but usually you don’t have to wait until the paperwork is filed because you have this 72-hour emergency window,” Harman said.

                                                                Johnson’s press release quotes Hoekstra refuting that statement. Hoekstra says, "it can take anywhere from days to months" and an average of "weeks" to obtain an emergency Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act warrant before a terrorist phone number can be tapped.

                                                                Harman emphasized that the 72-hour has been working well, and said she supports the existing FISA law.

                                                                “I see every reason why we should follow the law and protect the Fourth Amendment guarantee of probably cause, and I see every reason why we can follow the law and I think this commercial is misleading,” Harman said.

                                                                Before deconstructing Johnson’s ad, Harman said that the key findings of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which was partially declassified yesterday, “accurately reflects the whole document.” She urged people to read the document, which has been widely published, and is available by clicking here.

                                                                “The point many of us have made is the failed strategy in Iraq has made America less safe. I don’t think it’s possible to disagree with that,” Harman said.

                                                                The NIE report says, in part:

                                                                “We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

                                                                The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

                                                                We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.”

                                                                In his press release, Murphy asks Johnson to explain why she voted against a motion Tuesday from minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.) to close the House proceedings for a briefing and discussion of the entire NIE report.

                                                                “When Nancy Johnson had the opportunity to stand up and discuss this incredibly important national security report with her colleagues, she voted for silence. This report should have been a wake up call to Nancy Johnson. But instead of asking questions, she continues to blindly support the President’s war in Iraq rather than the security of the people of Connecticut,” said Murphy.

                                                                Johnson’s office did not respond to an email request for comment on why the congresswoman voted against the briefing.

                                                                After the motion was defeated John Negroponte, the director of National Intelligence, sent a letter to House members saying he had no objection to all members reading the classified document. That will now occur, Harman said.

                                                                Murphy’s ad, as described in his press release, recounts Johnson’s vote to authorize Bush to go to war against Iraq; her support of his “stay the course” plan, and her remark last June that “we won the war we had to win.”

                                                                The ad also says that Johnson is “fabricating Murphy’s position on wiretapping. Murphy supports the current law regarding eavesdropping and accountability. . . . Johnson’s ad falsely claims that Murphy would require prior approval for any interception of such calls. In fact, any bureaucratic red tape within the existing wiretapping program has been created by the Bush Administration, not the courts or the current statute.”

                                                                Johnson’s press release says that Murphy’s new ad is “an attack ad,” and refutes Murphy's statement that the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism and made the country less secure.

                                                                “[T]he NIE released yesterday never says that Iraq has made the terrorism situation worse, and in fact, it reached a far different conclusion,” Johnson’s press release says, quoting another section of the NIE statement that says, “The United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa'ida and disrupted its operations.”

                                                                "Chris Murphy must think he knows more than the chairman and the Democratic vice chairman of the House Intelligence Committee" said Johnson campaign spokesman Brian Schubert. "Congresswoman Harman believes the program is legal, and she has been briefed on it from the very beginning. Murphy's attacks against Nancy are either disturbingly ignorant or intentionally dishonest."

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                                                                  Moody Matter Quashed by Chief State's Attorney

                                                                  English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                  By Christine Stuart

                                                                  The new Chief State’s Attorney Kevin Kane concluded in a letter to the legislature’s General Administration and Elections Committee Monday that “there is no evidence” to support the criminal prosecution of Gov. M. Jodi Rell’s Chief of Staff, M. Lisa Moody, on allegations of perjury.

                                                                  Full story at CT News Junkie

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                                                                    'No action' on Israel nuclear activities

                                                                    English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                    The head of the IAEA speaks with Iran's representative

                                                                    NATIONS PUSHING for a resolution labelling Israel's nuclear capabilities a threat on the final day of the International Atomic Energy Agency's annual meeting have been defeated.

                                                                    [More:]

                                                                    The draft resolution, which also called upon Israel to join the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, was backed by 15 Arab countries, along with Cuba, Indonesia, Iran, Malaysia and Venezuela.

                                                                    But Canada sponsored a 45-29 "no action" ballot on Friday that prevented member states from voting on the motion.

                                                                    Among those supporting the effort to block the vote were the United States, Israel, France, Germany, Britain and Finland, which was at the conference on behalf of the European Union.

                                                                    Nineteen countries, including Russia and India, abstained.

                                                                    Milder resolution

                                                                    The final session of the UN nuclear watchdog agency's weeklong meeting did pass a milder resolution on Israel which affirmed "the urgent need for all states in the Middle East to accept full-scope International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all their nuclear activities".

                                                                    The milder resolution - which had also been initiated by the nations behind the defeated resolution - was passed by 89 votes to two.

                                                                    Israel and the United States were the two "no" votes.

                                                                    Double standards

                                                                    Arab nations have regularly threatened to submit such resolutions at the annual conference, but in past years have opted instead to voice their concerns about Israel's nuclear programme through a statement from the conference president, which carries less weight than a resolution.

                                                                    The last time such a resolution was submitted at the IAEA conference was in 1991.

                                                                    But Israel's recent offensive against Hezbollah in Lebanon and what is seen as double standards in the differing ways Israel and Iran have been treated over their nuclear activities added new impetus to the call.

                                                                    Israel neither confirms nor denies its nuclear status but most experts believe it has about 200 nuclear warheads.

                                                                    Israel said that a regional nuclear arms-free zone was a noble idea in principle but "frivolous" and dangerous as long as some neighbours continued not to recognise it and with Iran openly calling for its destruction.

                                                                    English Al Jazeera

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                                                                      Gaza a prison, says UN envoy

                                                                      English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                      Dugard: Israel violates international laws

                                                                      ISRAEL HAS TURNED the Gaza Strip into a prison for Palestinians where life is intolerable, a human rights envoy has told the United Nations Human Rights Council.

                                                                      [More:]

                                                                      John Dugard, special UN rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, said on Tuesday that the US, Europe and Canada had failed the Palestinian people by withdrawing funds since Hamas's refusal to accept Israel's right to exist.

                                                                      He also described the Palestinians' lives as appalling and tragic.

                                                                      He said: "In other countries this process might be described as ethnic cleansing but political correctness forbids such language where Israel is concerned.

                                                                      "If the international community cannot take some action, [it] must not be surprised if the people of the planet disbelieve that they are seriously committed to the promotion of human rights."

                                                                      Israel hit back saying there was an "alarming disconnect" between the rapporteur's report to the UN's human rights watchdog and the experience of Israelis who continued to face the "daily threat of Palestinian terrorism".

                                                                      But Dugard, who has been a special UN investigator since 2001, said: "Israel violates international law as expounded by the Security Council and the International Court of Justice and goes unpunished.

                                                                      "But the Palestinian people are punished for having democratically elected a regime [Hamas] unacceptable to Israel, the US and the EU."

                                                                      No comment

                                                                      In the past, similar criticism has been rejected by Israel and the US, who say that the current crisis has been provoked by attacks by Palestinian.

                                                                      Israel says its security restrictions are designed to stop bombers entering Israel.

                                                                      It also maintains tight restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of Gaza, a coastal strip that it pulled out of last year after 38 years of occupation.

                                                                      Dugard said that three-quarters of Gaza's 1.4 million people were dependent on food aid.

                                                                      Bombing raids by Israel since the June 25 capture of an army corporal by Palestinian militants had destroyed many houses and the territory's only power plant.

                                                                      The West Bank also faced a humanitarian crisis, due to the barrier, which Dugard said was a move by Israel to annex more land.

                                                                      Al Jazeera

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                                                                        Declassified Key Judgments of the National Intelligence Estimate

                                                                        English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                        "Trends in Global Terrorism: Implications for the United States" dated April 2006

                                                                        Key Judgments

                                                                        United States-led counterterrorism efforts have seriously damaged the leadership of al-Qa’ida and disrupted its operations; however, we judge that al-Qa’ida will continue to oppose the greatest threat to the Homeland and US interests abroad by a single terrorist organization. We also assess that the global jihadist movement—which includes al-Qa’ida, affiliated and independent terrorist groups, and emerging networks and cells—is spreading and adapting to counterterrorism efforts.

                                                                        [More:]

                                                                        • Although we cannot measure the extent of the spread with precision, a large body of all-source reporting indicates that activists identifying themselves as jihadists, although a small percentage of Muslims, are increasing in both number and geographic dispersion.

                                                                        • If this trend continues, threats to US interests at home and abroad will become more diverse, leading to increasing attacks worldwide.

                                                                        • Greater pluralism and more responsive political systems in Muslim majority nations would alleviate some of the grievances jihadists exploit. Over time, such progress, together with sustained, multifaceted programs targeting the
                                                                        vulnerabilities of the jihadist movement and continued pressure on al-Qa’ida, could erode support for the jihadists.

                                                                        We assess that the global jihadist movement is decentralized, lacks a coherent global strategy, and is becoming more diffuse. New jihadist networks and cells, with anti-American agendas, are increasingly likely to emerge. The confluence of shared purpose and dispersed actors will make it harder to find and undermine jihadist groups.

                                                                        • We assess that the operational threat from self-radicalized cells will grow in importance to US counterterrorism efforts, particularly abroad but also in the Homeland.

                                                                        • The jihadists regard Europe as an important venue for attacking Western interests.

                                                                        Extremist networks inside the extensive Muslim diasporas in Europe facilitate recruitment and staging for urban attacks, as illustrated by the 2004 Madrid and 2005 London bombings.

                                                                        We assess that the Iraq jihad is shaping a new generation of terrorist leaders and operatives; perceived jihadist success there would inspire more fighters to continue the struggle elsewhere.

                                                                        • The Iraq conflict has become the cause celebre for jihadists, breeding a deep resentment of US involvement in the Muslim world and cultivating supporters for the global jihadist movement. Should jihadists leaving Iraq perceive themselves, and be perceived, to have failed, we judge fewer fighters will be inspired to carry on the fight.

                                                                        We assess that the underlying factors fueling the spread of the movement outweigh its vulnerabilities and are likely to do so for the duration of the timeframe of this Estimate.

                                                                        • Four underlying factors are fueling the spread of the jihadist movement:

                                                                        (1) Entrenched grievances, such as corruption, injustice, and fear of Western domination, leading to anger, humiliation, and a sense of powerlessness;
                                                                        (2) the Iraq jihad;
                                                                        (3) the slow pace of real and sustained economic, social, and political reforms in many Muslim majority nations; and
                                                                        (4) pervasive anti-US sentiment among most Muslims—all of which jihadists exploit. Concomitant vulnerabilities in the jihadist movement have emerged that, if fully exposed and exploited, could begin to slow the spread of the movement.

                                                                        They include dependence on the continuation of Muslim-related conflicts, the limited appeal of the jihadists’ radical ideology, the emergence of expected voices of moderation, and criticism of the violent tactics employed against mostly Muslim citizens.

                                                                        • The jihadists greatest vulnerability is that their ultimate political solution -- an ultra-conservative interpretation of sharia-based governance spanning the Muslim world -- is unpopular with the vast majority of Muslims. Exposing the religious and political straitjacket that is implied by the jihadists' propaganda would help to divide them from the audiences they seek to persuade.

                                                                        • Recent condemnations of violence and extremist religious interpretations by a few notable Muslim clerics signal a trend that could facilitate the growth of a constructive alternative to jihadist ideology: peaceful political activism. This also could lead to the consistent and dynamic participation of broader Muslim communities in rejecting violence, reducing the ability of radicals to capitalize on passive community support. In this way, the Muslim mainstream emerges as the most powerful weapon in the war on terror.

                                                                        • Countering the spread of the jihadist movement will require coordinated multilateral efforts that go well beyond operations to capture or kill terrorist leaders.

                                                                        If democratic reform efforts in Muslim majority nations progress over the next five years, political participation probably would drive a wedge between intransigent extremists and oups willing to use the political process to achieve their local objectives. Nonetheless, attendant reforms and potentially destabilizing transitions will create new opportunities for jihadists to exploit.

                                                                        Al-Qa’ida, now merged with Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi’s network, is exploiting the situation in Iraq to attract new recruits and donors and to maintain its leadership role.

                                                                        • The loss of key leaders, particularly Usama Bin Ladin, Ayman al-Zawahiri, and al-Zarqawi, in rapid succession, probably would cause the group to fracture into smaller groups. Although like-minded individuals would endeavor to carry on the mission, the loss of these key leaders would exacerbate strains and disagreements.

                                                                        We assess that the resulting splinter groups would, at least for a time, pose a less serious threat to US interests than does al-Qa'ida.

                                                                        • Should al-Zarqawi continue to evade capture and scale back attacks against Muslims, we assess he could broaden his popular appeal and present a global threat.

                                                                        • The increased role of Iraqis in managing the operations of al-Qa'ida in Iraq might lead veteran foreign jihadists to focus their efforts on external operations.

                                                                        Other affiliated Sunni extremist organizations, such as Jemaah Islamiya, Ansar al-Sunnah, and several North African groups, unless countered, are likely to expand their reach and become more capable of multiple and/or mass-casualty attacks outside their traditional areas of operation.

                                                                        • We assess that such groups pose less of a danger to the homeland than does al-Qa'ida but will pose varying degrees of threat to our allies and to US interests abroad. The focus of their attacks is likely to ebb and flow between local regime targets and regional or global ones.

                                                                        We judge that most jihadist groups -- both well-known and newly formed -- will use improvised explosive devices and suicide attacks focused primarily on soft targets to implement their asymmetric warfare strategy, and that they will attempt to conduct sustained terrorist attacks in urban environments. Fighters with experience in Iraq are a potential source of leadership for jihadists pursuing these tactics.

                                                                        • CBRN capabilities will continue to be sought by jihadist groups.

                                                                        While Iran, and to a lesser extent Syria, remain the most active state sponsors of terrorism, many other states will be unable to prevent territory or resources from being exploited by terrorists.

                                                                        Anti-US and anti-globalization sentiment is on the rise and fueling other radical ideologies. This could prompt some leftist, nationalist, or separatist groups to adopt terrorist methods to attack US interests. The radicalization process is occurring more quickly, more widely, and more anonymously in the Internet age, raising the likelihood of surprise attacks by unknown groups whose members and supporters may be difficult to pinpoint.

                                                                        • We judge that groups of all stripes will increasingly use the Internet to communicate, propagandize, recruit, train, and obtain logistical and financial support.

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                                                                          Bush denies Iraq terror claims

                                                                          English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                          In an Alzheimers-like memory lapse concerning political leaks from the White House about former CIA agent Valerie Plame, Bush complains that the recent National Intelligence Estimate report was a "political leak" to influence the November elections.


                                                                          Iraq has been a battleground since 2003

                                                                          George Bush, the US president, has rejected claims that a leaked intelligence report concludes the Iraq war has increased the threat of global terrorism.

                                                                          [More:]

                                                                          "Some people have guessed what's in the report and concluded that going in to Iraq was a mistake. I strongly disagree," Bush said.

                                                                          The National Intelligence Estimate report, excerpts of which were published by the New York Times newspaper last weekend, said that analysis by the 16 US spy agencies concluded the Iraq war had spread Islamic radicalism and made the overall terrorism problem worse.

                                                                          However, Bush said that using the report to attack his administrations policies was "naive".

                                                                          "I think it's a mistake for people to believe that going on the offense against people that want to do harm to the American people makes us less safe," he said.

                                                                          'Political' leak

                                                                          The US president, who said he would declassify parts of the report, also said that it was leaked for political reasons ahead of the US mid-term elections in November.

                                                                          "Here we are coming down the stretch in an election campaign and it's on the front page of your newspapers," Bush said.

                                                                          "Somebody took it upon themselves to leak classified information for political purposes."

                                                                          Leading Democrat politicians have urged the US government to publish the report, which they say shows the Bush administration mishandled the 2003 invasion of Iraq and ensuing fighting.

                                                                          English Al Kazeera

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                                                                            Monticello raceway casino one step closer

                                                                            English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

                                                                            AKWESASNE, N.Y. - The St. Regis Mohawk Tribe's proposal for a raceway casino in New York's Catskill Mountains moved a step closer to reality in mid-September after the BIA issued a draft Final Environmental Assessment of the project, which set the clock ticking on a 30-day public comment period.

                                                                            [More:]

                                                                            If an official finding of ''no significant impact'' follows the comment period, final approvals for the casino could come by the end of the year.

                                                                            ''We expect comments to come back within the 30-day period. We don't really know what the next step is until we see the comments come back,'' BIA spokesman Nedra Darling said.

                                                                            The $500 million proposed Mohawk Monticello Raceway Casino project is a two-level facility of around 583,000 square feet, including a 200,000-square-foot gaming floor with 3,500 slot machines and 125 table games. The proposal includes several restaurants, a food court, nightlife entertainment facilities and retail stores. The tribe estimates that the project will generate approximately 3,000 permanent full-time jobs and anticipates 6 million visitors during its first year of operation.

                                                                            Empire Resorts Inc. of Nevada owns the Monticello raceway site and will manage the casino.

                                                                            The St. Regis Mohawk Tribal Council announced in a Sept. 12 press release that the project's draft FEA would be available for public review at the village of Monticello clerk's office and the Ethelbert B. Crawford Public Library in Monticello.

                                                                            ''I am extremely excited about the federal notification, as it represents yet another milestone achieved by the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe in our longstanding efforts to bring a world-class Mohawk casino to Sullivan County,'' said Barbara Lazore, one of the tribe's three chiefs.

                                                                            ''This project will provide the tribe with a steady and continued revenue source that will enable us to accomplish our long-term goals of self-determination,'' Lazore said.

                                                                            A day earlier, the Natural Resources Defense Council, a national nongovernmental environmental protection organization, issued a press release opposing the ''Las Vegas-style casino,'' stating that the process has violated the National Environmental Policy Act.

                                                                            ''If this decision stands, officials in Washington would limit the voice of Sullivan County citizens in decisions that could change the entire way of life in their communities,'' said Richard Schrader, NRDC's New York state legislative director. ''It defies the law and ignores the right of ordinary people to have a say in their own future.''

                                                                            The NRDC argued that the NEPA requires an Environmental Impact Statement, a more in-depth analysis than an environmental assessment, when ''the federal government is involved in a major federal action significantly affecting the environment.''

                                                                            A representative in the tribe's press office could not respond to e-mails seeking comment, and instead referred to a Sept. 15 prepared statement that responds to the NRDC statements.

                                                                            ''The tribe has worked very closely with local, state, and federal officials to ensure that its casino project development is in full compliance with all state and federal environmental laws,'' Lazore said. ''We take pride in protecting the environment within our tribal territory and we have approached the Monticello Casino project in the same regard.''

                                                                            Lazore said the tribe's EA met all regulations, including NEPA, the Council of Environmental Quality's implementing regulations, and the State Environmental Quality Act.

                                                                            Both a state EIS and a federal EA were prepared for the raceway casino project and both processes require extensive environmental reviews, Lazore said, also citing the public participation requirements under state and federal regulations.

                                                                            ''Public participation has been an integral part of the environmental review process for our project. It is a requirement of both the state and federal environmental review processes and we support that,'' Lazore said.

                                                                            The tribe submitted an updated environmental assessment for the raceway casino project to the Interior Department in September 2005. The draft document was revised three times before the BIA issued the draft FEA.

                                                                            Chief Lorraine White noted that the casino project is not a new development, but involves redeveloping an existing gaming facility on a paved parking lot with adequate public infrastructure already in place.

                                                                            According to the tribal council, a detailed analysis of secondary and cumulative effects in the tribe's proposed final environmental assessment shows there would be no significant community impacts on schools, safety, housing or traffic; ''and if there were any impacts, the local funding agreement between the Tribe and the County can and will mitigate any such impacts to insignificant levels,'' the council wrote.

                                                                            In order to move forward, the casino must also be approved by Gov. George Pataki, who repeatedly has voiced support for the project recently. Once the governor agrees, Interior can quickly convert the 30-acre site into tribal land held in trust by the federal agency.

                                                                            ''We look forward to working closely with our friends in Sullivan County and Albany to secure the final necessary approvals for this exciting project,'' Chief James Ransom said.

                                                                            An obstacle on the potentially smooth road ahead, however, is the possibility of anti-casino lawsuits hinted at by the NRDC.

                                                                            ''NRDC, which has been working with an array of local groups in opposing casino development in the Catskills, is evaluating next steps, including legal options,'' Schrader, the group's spokesman, said.

                                                                            Indian Country Today

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                                                                              Michigan tribes oppose federal court nominee

                                                                              English (US)  September 26th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                              By Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

                                                                              MOUNT PLEASANT, Mich. - Seven Michigan tribes have asked U.S. Sens. Debbie Stabenow and Carl Levin to block or deny the confirmation of attorney Robert Jonker's nomination to a federal judgeship because of his representation of anti-Indian casino groups.

                                                                              [More:]

                                                                              In letters dated Aug. 23 and Sept. 11, tribal leaders said Jonker's ''ethics, motivations and alliances as revealed by this litigation [against some of the state's tribes] indicate a bias against Indian tribes and raise serious questions regarding his fitness to serve as federal district court judge.''

                                                                              A spokesman at Levin's Washington, D.C., office said the senator had just received the letter and had not had a chance to read it. Messages left at Stabenow's office were not returned.

                                                                              The letters to the federal legislators were signed by Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe of Michigan Chief Fred Cantu, Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council President Susan LaFernier, Little River Bank of Ottawa Indians Tribal Council Speaker Stephen Parsons, Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish Band of Pottawatomi Indians Tribal Chairman David K. Sprague, Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians Tribal Chairman John Miller, Hannahville Indian Community Chairman Kenneth Meshigaud and Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians Chairman Frank Ettawageshik.

                                                                              Jonker was nominated by Bush in June for the position of U.S. District Judge for the Western District of Michigan, to replace retiring Judge Gordon Quist. His hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee has not yet been scheduled. Jonker is a partner in the firm of Warner Norcross & Judd LLP of Grand Rapids. He has represented various anti-Indian casino groups, including Taxpayers of Michigan Against Casinos, Citizens Exposing the Truth About Casinos and Michigan Gambling Opposition.

                                                                              Jonker did not respond to an e-mail seeking comment.

                                                                              The tribal leaders said Jonker has ''led a costly and protracted war of attrition'' through federal and state litigation to delay and deny several tribes their right to open casinos, and has threatened the ongoing operations of two existing tribal casinos ''that employ thousands of Michigan citizens and generate millions of dollars in local revenue and taxes.''

                                                                              The tribes said Jonker used ''every available tactic and device to delay a resolution of claims having little or no merit.'' They cited Jonker's representation of TOMAC in a lawsuit against the Interior Department involving land into trust for the Pokagon band's casino project, in which the Washington, D.C., court of appeals said the anti-Indian casino group's claims were ''specious'' and had ''no merit.''

                                                                              They cited Jonker's representation of CETAC and MichGO against the casino projects of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians and Match-E-Be-Nash-She-Wish (Gun Lake Tribe) Band of Pottawatomi Indians, which are ''based essentially on the same frivolous claims made in the TOMAC case.''

                                                                              Tribal leaders pointed to evidence that Jonker's client TOMAC is backed by Boyd Gaming, a Nevada gaming company that paid Kevin Flynn, a local non-Indian gaming magnate, ''over $7 million to stall the casino projects of the Pokagon Bank and the Huron Band for five years.'' Boyd owns and operates the Blue Chip Casino, a riverboat casino in nearby northwestern Indiana that will face significant competition from the tribal casinos in southwestern Michigan. A 2001 investigation by the Illinois Gaming Regulatory Commission ''indicated that Kevin Flynn had ties to organized crime figures,'' the tribal leaders said.

                                                                              Finally, the tribal leaders point to Jonker's membership in the anti-Indian casino group 23 Is Enough, which recently distributed an e-mail opposing the Gun Lake Tribe's casino project that included materials from the Web site of Frank Parlato Jr., of upstate New York.

                                                                              The materials from Parlato, a vociferous opponent of the Seneca Nation of Indians, included an image of an American Indian that tribal leaders and state Rep. Mary Waters and Sen. Mark Schauer denounced as ''bigoted,'' ''racial intolerance'' and ''anti-Native American sentiment.''

                                                                              Only three of the tribes - Huron, Pokagon and Gun Lake - have had direct legal engagements with the anti-Indian casino coalition for which Jonker has been the lead attorney; and in Gun Lake's case, the litigation is still pending. But the other tribes have joined the call to block his confirmation because all of the issues raise questions about his ''ethics and fitness'' to serve as a federal court judge, Gun Lake spokesman James Nye said.

                                                                              ''The other tribes, I would think, would not want to go before Robert Jonker if he were confirmed to the Western District, so I think there's a legitimate concern that you wouldn't want to face an individual with a track record such as his for that reason,'' Nye said.

                                                                              Sprague lauded the nations' involvement.

                                                                              ''We are very encouraged by the support of the other tribes in opposing Robert Jonker's nomination to the federal court of the Western District of Michigan. As recent years have shown us, when the tribes stand together we can accomplish great things,'' Sprague said.

                                                                              A few years ago, the state's federally recognized tribes formed the United Tribes of Michigan, an association that represents tribal interests in the state capitol and to serve as a central clearinghouse to disseminate information among the chairs, tribal council members and staffs on issues of common concern and interest.


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                                                                                Lieberman's Iraq Policy

                                                                                English (US)  September 25th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                By Christine Stuart

                                                                                FLEEING BEFORE THE PRESS could ask him questions Monday, U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman laid out his 10-point plan for how to handle the war in Iraq in a major policy speech on the subject.

                                                                                The “question is not just about when we get out troops home, but also how we get our troops home, and what they leave behind,” Lieberman told the crowd gathered at the V.F.W. in East Hampton.

                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                Full story at CT News Junkie

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                                                                                  BIG FUN: The amazing maze of maize

                                                                                  English (US)  September 25th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                  Extra big fun: Moonlight mazes coming up in October and November

                                                                                  By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                  SALISBURY, Conn. _ The amazing maze of maize at White Hollow Farm is open and inviting people to wander, walk or whip through its rows.

                                                                                  The towering corn stalks are beginning to turn golden, and with a chill in the air and the wind rising, they make a pleasing whoosh sound as one wanders through the paths, “losing yourself to find yourself,” as farmer Allen Cockerline says.

                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                  This is the seventh year that Cockerline has created the 11-acre maze on a triangular-shaped field where the Salmon Kill River meets the Housatonic River.

                                                                                  “Every year it’s the same, but it’s different. The maze is in great shape this year. The designing of it is always kind of scary because I’m not entirely sure it’s going to work out," Cockerline said.

                                                                                  Cockerline and his wife Robin, both artists, have been farming for 30 years. Seven years ago when they started the maze, they gave up dairy farming – and those 4 a.m. milking sessions – and started raising grass fed beef instead.

                                                                                  Planting the maze makes up somewhat for the absence of planting crops for the dairy cows, Cockerline said.

                                                                                  "As a dairy farmer I enjoyed planting and harvesting on a large scale, usually 150 acres of corn as well as several hundred acres of hay each year. Now I've been able to take my 30 years of experience with light, color, voids and masses that are a part of every cornfield and combine them for my own enjoyment as well as others,” Cockerline said.

                                                                                  Cockerline said he uses the natural geometric patterns he finds in the field and adds things that farmers usually try to avoid – circles, triangles, wavy lines, loops, and false paths leading nowhere.

                                                                                  The maze design starts to meander through his mind in the spring, Cockerline said.

                                                                                  “I get a little idea every now and then about what I’d like to do. Sometimes I tack a little note to the fridge door and as it gets closer and closer to planting time I keep working on what I think I’m going to do. I try to make it dificult, but not impossible,” he said.

                                                                                  This year he used a four row planter, instead of a six row planter. “it’s kind of like using a smaller brush,” Cockerline said.

                                                                                  The corn maze has five crops to be found--sunflowers, soybeans, Sudan grass, which is a giant grass that’s related to corn, zinnias, and winter rye.

                                                                                  People can -– and sometimes do -- spend hours in the maze. What’s the appeal?

                                                                                  “Who knows? I know it’s fun to get lost, it’s fun to get turned around, and I think people learn something when they’re in there. We have a narrative we use on signs and they seem to like that. The narrative is just a conversation – when you get to a crop there’s a little sign that explains what that crop is all about. Or if you get to a dead end, you might find something that describes the characteristics of the soil,” Cockerline said.

                                                                                  Although he enjoys making the maze, the best thing is seeing how much families enjoy the maze together.

                                                                                  “There aren’t too many things like this that parents and kids get so much pleasure from. And there’s nothing in there that has anything to do with Nascars -- and it’s cheaper than a movie,” Cockerline said.

                                                                                  The maze is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

                                                                                  Moonlight maze walks – extra exciting events –- will take place during the full moons on Friday, Oct. 6 and Friday, Nov. 3. The maze will be open on Columbus Day.

                                                                                  Fresh baked cookies from Freunds Farm Market bakery, drinks all kinds of pumpkins and fall ornamentals are available for purchase in the big barn.

                                                                                  The Cockerlines’ all natural grass-fed beef is available at 189 Salmon Kill Road and more information is available at www.allenandrobin.com.

                                                                                  The corn maze is one hour from Hartford, two hours from NYC, and is located at the intersection of Rte. 112 and Rte. 7 in Salisbury, Conn.

                                                                                  For more information, call (860) 435.2089 or (860) 248.0362 or visit www.cornmazect.com

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                                                                                    Twilight on Music Mountain: A fundraiser for Falls Village Volunteer Ambulance Service

                                                                                    English (US)  September 25th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                    A night of musical fun and fund-raising for Falls Village Volunteer Ambulance Service


                                                                                    The concert will take place in Gordon Hall, a wooden concert space that is almost acoustically perfect.

                                                                                    By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                    FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. _ The hills will abound with the sound of music this Saturday in when diverse musicial groups will play a bebefit concert to raise funds for the Falls Village Volunteer Ambulance Service.

                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                    “Twilight on Music Mountain” will take place on Saturday, Sept. 30 with the picnic grounds open at 5 p.m. and music starting at 7 p.m.

                                                                                    Music Mountain – the concert facility and grounds – is located at the top of Music Mountain Road in Falls Village, and is accessed either from Rt. 7 and Warren Turnpike or from Rt. 63 near Rt. 126.

                                                                                    The concert will feature Soul Therapy, Pat & Dave, Vance Cannon and the Village Voices.

                                                                                    All proceeds will benefit the Falls Village Volunteer Ambulance Service, which provides emergency medial care and transport to village residents and mutual aid to the surrounding towns of Canaan, Cornwall, Salisbury, and further when needed.

                                                                                    “Soul Therapy plays jazz, soul and funk,” said and member Dave Barney. Soul Therapy has been together for ten years. Other members of the band are Robbie Cooper, James Thompson and Paul Delasco.

                                                                                    Pat & Dave, an acoustic rock and rhythm and blues, has been performing together since January 2003. They are currently in the studio working on an original CD called “Life Clips.” The two recently teamed up with Dave Mallison on bass and Richie Sarles on drums to form a new musical venture that will play originals music.

                                                                                    Pat Thorney, a performer and songwriter, began playing music professionally in the 80’s with local bands in clubs and at private functions. In the 90’s, Thorney went on tour with David Bromberg in a project entitled “Face the Music.” Thorney also works with Dave and Gary Higgins in a band called Sentimental Journey, playing music from the 1800’s to the 1960s in nursing homes and for senior groups.

                                                                                    Dave VandeBogart has been playing music professionally around the tri-state area for over thirty years. Since 1974, he has played with bands including Iron Mountain Cannonball, The Night Riders, Clutch Cargo, and Borderline. In 1996 VandeBogart recorded a solo CD titled “Call It What You Want,” consisting of his original music. Currently, VandeBogart performs with Gary Higgins on the “Red Hash” CD release tour.

                                                                                    Vance Cannon began playing guitar when he was eight or nine years old. Cannon got a twelve-string guitar when he was twelve years old and that was the only instrument he owned when he first became aware of Leo Kottke, John Fahey, and Doc Watson, and tried to figure out how to play melody and bass line together. The accommodations he made for the unwieldy instrument continue to influence his style although he now performs on six-string, twelve-string and tricone steel acoustic guitars.

                                                                                    Cannon began performing professionally at age 16 and played as a soloist and as a member of several R&B bands in the tri-state region during the late seventies and early eighties.. Although he has concentrated on being a family man since his marriage in 1982, he continues to play at home and ventures before an audience occasionally. He has resumed songwriting recently and chooses his cover material carefully with an ear for melody and affecting lyrics.

                                                                                    Village Voices, “a community chorus with spunk”, will bring us a touch of Falls Village. This group, formed in early 2006, is led by Joshua Stone. Members of Village Voices consist of many Falls Village residents – young and old. Village Voices is developing a repertoire of Broadway show tunes, patriotic songs, folk music and Beatles tunes.

                                                                                    The concert will take place in Music Mountain’s famous Gordon Hall, a 1930s Sears Roebuck structure that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The concert space is all wood, providing a near perfect acoustic resonance. The hall seat 335.

                                                                                    Concert-goers are invited to arrive early, bring picnics, wander around the gardens, and enjoy the scenic mountain views before the concert begins.

                                                                                    Proceeds will benefit the Falls Village Volunteer Ambulance Service, offsetting the many costs associated with equipping and maintaining a basic life support ambulance service that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

                                                                                    Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students, and children under 10 are free. Tickets may be purchased at the door or from any ambulance member, and are also available by calling (860) 824-5298 and at the Town Hall in Falls Village.

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                                                                                      Israel's hushed voice of sanity getting louder: Time to Talk Peace

                                                                                      English (US)  September 25th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                      OPINION

                                                                                      Israel's leaders must change mindset, engage in dialogue with Palestinians

                                                                                      By Shulamit Aloni

                                                                                      IN A FEW MONTHS, we will mark 40 years of "enlightened" occupation by our famed army in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip. Israel pretends to be an enlightened state and signatory of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which rules that "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies" (Israel ratified the Convention in 1951.)

                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                      Over the years we deported, robbed land and stole water, destroyed crops, uprooted trees, turned every village and town into a detention camp, and set up hundreds of communities on land that doesn't belong to us.

                                                                                      We allowed the settlers to make a living by providing them with huge amounts of money (more than 5 times per capita compared to residents of southern development towns.)

                                                                                      We paved roads for Jews only, a case of blatant apartheid, while defending it using witty Jewish self-righteousness in the absence of fair and public reporting of the budgets involved, deeds committed, expropriation of land, and disregard for vandalism.

                                                                                      Morality, justice, law and order stopped at the Green Line. Lawlessness prevailed right under the noses and protective and soothing hand of the IDF and police, as lawbreaking settlers made their own laws undisturbed, and at times with the kind help of authorities.

                                                                                      Every illegal settlement enjoys water, hydro, and a paved road. The permanent residents, the natives, which the Israeli regime had to take care of, became seemingly non-existent. As if they are there but not there at the same time. The government only notices them if they bother it by filing complaints.

                                                                                      It's no wonder that the leader of a political movement in Israel and a Knesset member () Jewish rabbi calls for exterminaiton of Palestinian males can declare that we should expel the Palestinians (and also Israel's Arab citizens) in order to take over what is still left to them.

                                                                                      But as we usually present it – we're the victim while they're the murderers with blood on their hands. We never report the number of Palestinians we murdered from the sky and killed by fire – women, children, the elderly, whole families, thousands of them.

                                                                                      No wonder they hate us

                                                                                      Aerial bombings kill wanted suspects, while eliminating many civilians – yet the hands of the pilot are "clean" of any blood. After all, the victims were killed at the press of a button while their killers returned home safely. None of them committed suicide to kill wanted suspects, who by the way are not a "ticking bomb" and no evidence exists against them.

                                                                                      At times it appears that the IDF, particularly during the last, needless Lebanon war, turns the Gaza Strip into live-fire training grounds for all army branches. Is it a wonder they hate us, and is it a wonder they elected Hamas in free elections, the same Hamas whose establishment we encouraged in order to undermine the PLO?

                                                                                      Many peace-making windows were opened over the years. We hindered all of them, because we coveted the whole of the Territories. We had the Oslo agreements. Twenty countries, which in the past had no ties with us, recognized Israel. We had welfare, international ties were blossoming, peace was at our gates – but we didn't want to make concessions.

                                                                                      Rabin was murdered for the sake of the settlers, and the job of burying peace-making attempts was completed by Ehud Barak with his "There's nobody to talk to!" spin. In order to establish himself in power, Barak also allowed Arik Sharon to visit Temple Mount with armed escorts, even though he was asked by Arafat the night before not to allow this due to the frustration and fury among Palestinians.

                                                                                      Now, another possibility for dialogue has opened. Yet our government is again turning its back on it. They don't know how to and don’t want to talk. Just now we brutally destroyed half of Lebanon at an immense cost and turned a million civilians into refugees in their own country.

                                                                                      Another superb achievement by the IDF and government of Israel. We're willing to resort to any provocation and blow any incident out of proportion, just to hold on to the regular pretext that "There's nobody to talk to", and that we don't talk to terrorists.

                                                                                      Kahane won

                                                                                      Yet the acts we undertake by starving, curfews, deportations, the theft of water and land, false arrests, and targeted killings – all those are, of course, not terror, because the acts are undertaken by a national army through the power of a decision made by legitimate government.

                                                                                      Wonderful, it turns out we forget the fascist states (including Stalin's USSR) that were very legitimate according to their own logic, while committing a plethora of terror acts.

                                                                                      The time has come for the government of Israel to start talking peace, and end the excuses for disqualifying and boycotting Palestinian representatives. The use of arms does not have to be the first reaction. Starvation, imprisonment, and expropriation by an occupying force attest to an unwillingness to reach an agreement and an addiction to greed.

                                                                                      This is reminiscent of Benny Elon comments: "We'll embitter their lives so that they transfer themselves elsewhere."

                                                                                      One cannot escape the impression that the racist and brutal declarations by Effie Eitam gave public expression to government policy over the years. We must note that the courts – the defenders of law and order, including the High Court of Justice – were partners to the developments that led to the legitimization of parties and Knesset members reminiscent of the racist, crude words uttered by MK Eitam.

                                                                                      In fact, it appears that Meir Kahane won, and we continue in his path – we don't talk, but rather, only kill, raze homes and roads and bridges, cut off electricity, fill prisons with women and children and elected officials, because all of them are the "terrorists" while we, the Jewish state, need to be defended from them. We're always the ultimate victim.

                                                                                      As Golda Meir said: "I don't forgive the Arabs for forcing us to kill them." There you go, she's the killer, yet she's the victim.

                                                                                      For our sake, the citizens of Israel, and for the sake of bringing peace and quiet – government leaders, start talking and keep doing it until you reach an agreement.

                                                                                      Unruly sons will be brought back into the country, we'll be respecting UN decisions and international conventions, we'll earnestly memorize the universal human rights declaration and our own declaration of independence, we'll rehabilitate our soul, and we'll attempt to establish a democratic country governed by the law and justice. Shana Tova.

                                                                                      YNET News

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                                                                                        Author & playwright Dani Shapiro at UConn, Torrington

                                                                                        English (US)  September 25th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                        Public Service Announcement

                                                                                        Dani Shapiro will speak about her memoir "Slow Motion"

                                                                                        TORRINGTON, Conn. _ The Litchfield County Writers Project at the Universityi of Connecticut, Torrington, will host novelist Dani Shapiro on Wednesday, September 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Shapiro will speak about her memoir Slow Motion as part of the LCWP’s course “Writers of Litchfield County Nonfiction and Memoir.” The course is available for credit to students and free and open to the public. The free talk is open to the public an dwill take place on the University of Connecticut’s Torrington Campus in the Francis W. Hogan hall within the M. Adela Eads Classroom Building. A booksigning will follow.

                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                        Shapiro’s memoir, Slow Motion, recalls her early twenties when, forced to take care of parents who were gravely injured in a car accident, she struggled to shed the life of a halfhearted actress, a heavy drinker, and the mistress of her best friend’s stepfather. Entertainment Weekly called the book "[n]otably free of self-pity and rigorous in scrutiny, Shapiro doesn't spare her lover, her family, or herself, yet there's emotion on these pages that is rare among the recent spate of confessionals. The result is a story that isn't perversely voyeuristic, but simply rewarding."

                                                                                        Davyne Verstandig, Writers Project Director, says that “Dani Shapiro, as a true memoirist, has selected a tragic event and, with the acumen and clarity of a skilled artist, has drawn the reader into a rollercoaster ride of powerlessness and personal transformation. We look forward to having such an honest voice.”

                                                                                        Dani Shapiro is the author of three acclaimed novels Playing With Fire, Fugitive Blue, Picturing the Wreck, and Family History. Her fiction and essays have appeared in The New Yorker, Granta, Elle, Ploughshares, Tin House, Bookforum, and other magazines. Shapiro’s adaptation of Oscar Wilde’s “The Happy Prince” was produced by HBO. She has taught creative writing at Columbia, NYU, and Bennington, and currently teaches in the M.F.A. program at The New School. Her new novel Black & White (Knopf) will be published in April.

                                                                                        For more information, contact Genevieve Kvam, program assistant, at 860-626-6852 or genevieve.kvan@uconn.edu.

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                                                                                          Israeli Occupation Forces reap $1.6 million in bank/money exchange heist

                                                                                          English (US)  September 24th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                          Israeli officials claim money used for "terrorism"

                                                                                          FRom the Palestine Centre for Human Rights

                                                                                          In a new piracy crime perpetrated by a state army under orders from the highest levels of a state government, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) raided financial institutions in the cities of Ramallah, Nablus, Tulkarm, and Jenin.

                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                          The IOF raided the National Jordanian Bank in Nablus and 11 money exchanges in the four cities. The raiding forces confiscated the property of the raided sites, and detained seven of their owners. In addition, IOF confiscated 6 million New Israeli Shekels (NIS) (approximately 1.336 million dollars). Israeli officials claimed that the "confiscation" was based on information that the money exchanges funnel cash to be used in operations against Israeli targets.

                                                                                          In Nablus, IOF raided the National Jordanian Bank and three money exchanges, confiscating money and arresting one money exchange owner. The raided exchanges belong to Husam Fakhri Abu Eleyan, Anwar Mustafa Eleyan, Amjad Mahmoud Hamad, Afif Mohammad Afif M'lietat, and Ghalib Hussein Sweidan. It is noted that Sweidan, 40, was arrested from his home.

                                                                                          In Tulkarm, IOF raided three money exchanges and confiscated cash and financial documents. The exchanges belong to Kamal Abdel Halim Salim Theyab, Ibrahim Mustafa Ahmad Awad, and Mohammad Ahmad Awad. IOF detained the first two of these owners and the son of the third owner.

                                                                                          In Jenin, IOF raided 3 money exchanges and confiscated cash. The exchanges belong to Sa'id M'rar Abu M'rar, Mohammad Ibrahim Nassar, and Younis Helmi Younis El-Jarmi.

                                                                                          In Ramallah IOF raided El-Hawari and El-Ajouri money exchanges and confiscated cash. They detained Ghazi El-Ajour, the owner of one of the exchanges, and two of his sons.

                                                                                          It is noted that IOF conducted a similar raid on 25 February 2004 against the Arab Bank and Cairo-Amman Bank in Ramallah and El-Bireh, confiscating 40 million NIS (approximately 9 million dollars). The then defense minister Shaol Mofaz claimed that there was intelligence information indicating that the 390 bank accounts of Palestinian charitable organizations targeted in the raid were used to finance operations against Israel.

                                                                                          PCHR strongly condemns IOF piracy against financial institutions in the West Bank, and stresses that this raid is a form of collective punishment and economic sanctions imposed by IOF against Palestinians. The Centre points to the fact that Israel imposes restrictions and supervision on all financial transactions from abroad, refuting the claim made regarding the latest raid.

                                                                                          In the Center’s view, the complacency of the international community and the High Contracting Parties of the 4th Geneva Convention and their failure to take effective steps to stop Israeli war crimes has been a supporting and encouraging element for Israel to continue perpetrating additional war crimes against Palestinian civilians. The Centre reminds the High Contracting Parties of:

                                                                                          - Their obligations under article 1 of the convention to ensure respect of the convention under all circumstances;

                                                                                          - Their obligations in article 146 of the convention to pursue suspects of committing serious violations of the convention, noting that these violations are war crimes according to article 147, as specified in the first protocol additional to the convention.

                                                                                          Palestine Centre for Human Rights

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                                                                                            Anti-Indian racism in New York's anti-casino movement

                                                                                            English (US)  September 24th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                            By Michael Niman
                                                                                            Buffalo State College

                                                                                            AN UGLY COURTSHIP between anti-casino and anti-Indian political forces is emerging in western New York. In June, Coalition Against Gaming in New York Chair Joel Rose wrote to his members telling them there's ''good news on Turning Stone'' as he celebrated a N.Y. Court of Appeals decision against Cayuga and Oneida land claims.

                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                            Rose was excited, however, because the case could eventually lead to the closing of the Oneidas' Turning Stone Resort and Casino in central New York. If so, and if the Oneidas refuse to comply, it could also lead to some form of armed takeover of Oneida land - what we call war. Anyone cheering such a court victory is cheering the unilateral imposition of U.S. law on a sovereign nation. While it may lead to the closure of a casino, it's like nuking a city to kill one fugitive. The casino will be closed - but only after the Oneidas' identity as a sovereign nation is eradicated. That's nothing that any well-intentioned person should celebrate.

                                                                                            The United States was built on a foundation of racism. Employing words like ''savage'' and ''primitive,'' so called ''modern'' and ''civilized'' cultures unleashed a historically unprecedented holocaust upon the hemisphere. The map of upstate New York was drawn by racist officials who, after the American Revolution, sent the U.S. Army into Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) territory to annihilate Native populations. Cayuga Lake, for example, is circled by historic markers denoting Cayuga villages and orchards burned during the Clinton-Sullivan Campaign of 1779, next to others commemorating the first homes built by ''white'' men in the wake of that campaign. This racism was a land grab - with mass murder as its tool and anti-''savage'' racism as its justification.

                                                                                            While the Haudenosaunee were driven from much of their land, they were never actually defeated, their government was never crushed and their expulsion from much of their land was never up to legal muster in the United States. Hence the disempowered have recently begun to regain lost power, struggling to exercise their rights as sovereign nations, living on a radically decimated land base surrounded by the United States and Canada.

                                                                                            By regaining control over small tracts of land, Haudenosaunee people are recovering political power. For some people, this is unacceptable. Indians can live under U.S. domination, but not as sovereign equals maintaining their own culture and laws. Hence, in the villages of Union Springs and Cayuga, N.Y., on the shores of Cayuga Lake, in Cayuga County, we now have an almost all-white group of people - the ''Upstate Citizens for Equality'' - who have formed to oppose a sovereign Cayuga presence. In essence, what UCE is doing is struggling to maintain its own political advantage over the people who historically controlled the land UCE members now claim as their own.

                                                                                            In 2002, UCE branched out to form a western New York (Buffalo) chapter to combat Seneca land claims and eventually join forces with anti-casino activists - in effect, attempting to co-opt the anti-gaming movement into the anti-sovereignty movement (Ironically, their office is located on Indian Church Road in the Buffalo suburb of West Seneca). After I wrote a column for Buffalo's weekly, ArtVoice, asking the question, ''When do well-intentioned activists cross the line to racism?'', Joel Rose, a leader of Buffalo's anti-casino movement, responded by writing, ''We are not racists: I have never uttered a racist word or expression.'' Rose went on to defend UCE, arguing that ''UCE has based its position on the distinctly non-racist notion that we should all be playing by the same rules.''

                                                                                            The rules that UCE argues we all have to play by, however, aren't mutually agreed upon - they are the rules imposed on the Haudenosaunee during the Sullivan Campaign. Rose describes Haudenosaunee territory as ''islands of sovereignty in the middle of a modern nation.'' Now, while UCE members are not donning hoods or shouting epithets, they are arguing the notion that Indians who live in the here and now are somehow not part of the modern world and that hence, they have to play by rules that their so-called ''modern nation'' would impose upon them. This is the same rhetorical argument white society used to justify genocide and ethnocide against supposed ''savage,'' ''primitive'' or ''uncivilized'' Indian nations in the 17th and 18th centuries.

                                                                                            What UCE and Rose are arguing for is not equality - it's the maintenance of a power dynamic that privileges non-Natives at the cost of disempowering Native nations. And of course, Rose's statement begs the question: If Indians are not a modern nation, then what exactly is Rose saying they are? And if this assumption justifies their disempowerment, then is it racist?

                                                                                            UCE and the anti-casino Coalition Against Gaming in New York now tie together though their leadership, with Daniel Warren serving as chair of the WNY Chapter of UCE and as a director of CAGNY, of which UCE is a member organization.

                                                                                            What is interesting here is that while UCE is anti-sovereignty and hence, one could argue, anti-Indian (since Native identity and political power are entwined with sovereignty, UCE is not against gaming; and neither is Warren, who writes that he supports ''either the rescission or full legalization of gambling, but not the granting of a monopoly [to Indians].''

                                                                                            So if Warren, a director of the anti-casino group CAGNY, is not against casinos, then what exactly is he against? According to Warren and the UCE Niagara mission statement, UCE supports ''an expeditious and final resolution of all Indian land claims.'' The phrase ''final resolution'' echoes the Nazi ''final solution'' calling for the annihilation through genocide of the Jewish people - an idea they came up with after first discussing the forced relocation of Jews onto reservations in Madagascar. UCE's idea of a final solution is the ultimate negation of Native sovereignty - a sovereignty that has until now survived centuries of oppression.

                                                                                            Indian nations don't have the monopoly on gaming that Warren describes. New York is replete with racinos, OTB parlors, Keno, lotto and lotteries, bingo, etc., not to mention casinos in neighboring states and Canadian provinces. By focusing on Indian gaming and not gaming in general, by joining forces with UCE and by admitting leadership that is not opposed to gaming, CAGNY is crossing the line from being an anti-gaming group to an anti-Indian group.

                                                                                            The issue always comes back to sovereignty and a resistance to recognize Haudenosaunee sovereignty. Niagara University Hospitality Management professor Steve Siegel, for example, in a cover story for ArtVoice, wrote that an Indian-run casino at Buffalo Creek would have an unfair advantage over U.S.-run businesses.

                                                                                            Siegel argued that U.S. federal, state and local agencies will not have authority to regulate Seneca activities. He wrote that ''those who feel they were discriminated against by Indian employers'' will not be able to file a complaint with the U.S. National Labor Relations Board. He went on to explain that victims of sexual harassment in Indian businesses ''cannot sue the Seneca Nation for lost wages or psychological damages in [U.S.] federal court.'' It's interesting that Siegel, whose article attacks sovereignty but not the idea of casinos, chose to discuss hypothetical sexual harassment and discrimination by Indians. By doing so he is continuing an old Reconstruction-era tradition of terrifying white audiences with images of emancipated non-whites sexually victimizing helpless victims.

                                                                                            Siegel listed areas, ranging from health inspections to music and liquor licenses, in which Native businesses will be unregulated. Absent in the professor's analysis, however, is the fact that the Senecas, as a sovereign nation, are the ones who regulate and adjudicate all of these issues as they see fit - just like their sovereign Canadian counterparts across the river - without needing paternalistic oversight from their U.S. neighbors.

                                                                                            This is what enrages Indian people as racist - the unquestioned notion that sovereign Indian nations are not competent to manage their own affairs. Historically, U.S. administrations used this justification to impose corrupt BIA control over Native resources, just as states today want to regulate Indian gaming.

                                                                                            Traditional Haudenosaunee people tend to oppose gaming, but they would never compromise sovereignty. By alienating Native anti-gaming activists with their anti-sovereignty rhetoric, the white anti-casino movement has in effect alienated the very people who could be effective allies in their struggle. If the anti-gaming movement is to survive with any credibility, it needs to cleanse itself of its racist aura and return to focusing on the gaming debate - and divorce itself from the fight against Native rights and political power.

                                                                                            Michael Niman is a syndicated columnist and professor of journalism and media studies at Buffalo State College in New York. A two-time Project Censored winner, his columns are archived at his Web site: www.mediastudy.com.

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                                                                                              Jewish rabbi calls for extermination of all Palestinian males

                                                                                              English (US)  September 23rd, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                              Extremist Rabbi Yousef Falay calls for extermination of Palestinian men.

                                                                                              A JEWISH RABBI living in the West Bank has called on the Israeli government to use their troops to kill all Palestinian males more than 13 years old in a bid to end Palestinian presence on this earth.

                                                                                              "We have to make sure that no Palestinian individual remains under our occupation. If they (Palestinians) escape then it is good; but if anyone of them remains, then he should be exterminated", the fanatic rabbi added in his article.

                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                              Extremist rabbi Yousef Falay, who dwells at the Yitzhar settlement on illegally seized Palestinian land in the northern part of the West Bank, wrote an article in a Zionist magazine under the title "Ways of War", in which he called for the killing of all Palestinian males refusing to flee their country, describing his idea as the practical way to ensure the non-existence of the Palestinian race.

                                                                                              "We have to make sure that no Palestinian individual remains under our occupation. If they (Palestinians) escape then it is good; but if anyone of them remains, then he should be exterminated", the fanatic rabbi added in his article.

                                                                                              Falay is not the first to have called for such extreme measures. Rabbi Meir Kahane, founder of the Kach movement, called for "the transfer of Israel's Arab population to Arab (or other) lands." (As it states on the group's website). Followers of Kahane have been connected to a number of murders of Palestinians, particularly in the Hebron area in the southern West Bank. In the most well-known of such attacks, 29 Palestinians praying in the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron were gunned down by Baruch Goldstein, a follower of Kahane, in 1994, with Israeli soldiers looking on and allowing the gunman to reload his automatic machine gun and continue killing innocent civilians. In response to that massacre, the Israeli authorities punished the Palestinian victims by taking over the Ibrahimi mosque and turning half of it into a synagogue, where Israeli settlers go to pray each week. And each year, on the anniversary of the massacre, Israeli settlers in Hebron dress up like Baruch Goldstein and parade through the streets of Hebron, firing guns in the air.

                                                                                              The Kach movement recognizes the 'transfer' of 750,000 Palestinians that took place in 1948 in order for the state of Israel to be created on their land, but argues on their website that this 'transfer' was incomplete, and that all Palestinians must be sent away, or killed, in order for Israel to remain a 'Jewish state'. Their platform reads, "In a genuinely 'JEWISH State', how can an Arab be an equal when that State has an Independence Day celebrating his defeat. Its flag isn't that of its people. He isn't trusted to serve in the army. His cousin born in Haifa [sic] and fled during the 1948 War of Independence cannot return... yet any Jew who never lived there before is welcomed with open arms. In short, Israel is his enemy's country, not his. So how can an Arab truly be a loyal citizen in a Jewish State? Simply, they cannot, and they must go!"

                                                                                              The idea of extermination of Palestinians, or their 'transfer' into other countries, is not only a view held by extremists on the fringes of society.
                                                                                              Prominent Israeli politicians have also made calls for a 'transfer', or ethnic cleansing, based on race. Just last week, on September 11, 2006, an Israeli member of Parliament called explicitly for the transfer of Palestinians (whom he referred to as 'Arabs') from the West Bank (which he referred to as 'Judea and Samaria', the biblical name for the region where the majority of Palestinians now live).

                                                                                              "We have to expel most Arabs from Judea and Samaria," Eitam said at a memorial service for Lt. Amihai Merhavia, a soldier who was killed in South Lebanon in July.

                                                                                              "We can't deal with all these Arabs, and we can't give up the territory, because we've already seen what they do there. Some of them might have to stay under certain conditions, but most of them will have to go."

                                                                                              Despite a law that would strip Israeli parliament members of their immunity to prosecution if they are found to make explicitly racist statements, no investigation of Eitam has occurred on this matter, and there was no condemnation of his statement by the Israeli government.
                                                                                              International Middle East Media Center

                                                                                              725 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment2 comments

                                                                                              2 response(s) to Jewish rabbi calls for extermination of all Palestinian males

                                                                                              1. L.A. Steel [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                This guy could get a show on CTN. Wonder if Pat Robertson or
                                                                                                Jerry Fallwell listen to him or if he listens to them?

                                                                                              2. Scoville Soule [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                That's great. A rabbi genocide advocate. Religion morphs to murder. Faith to bigotry. Fortunately we have the Amish to show us what faith in God is really all about.
                                                                                                Scoville

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                                                                                              Attack Ad Prompts National Security Debate

                                                                                              English (US)  September 23rd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                              By Christine Stuart


                                                                                              U.S.Rep. Rush Holt (Christine Stuart photo)

                                                                                              U.S. Congressman Rush Holt, D-New Jersey, came to Connecticut Friday to ask Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson to pull a television ad that attacks challenger state Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Southington, on the subject of national security.

                                                                                              The ad which has been running since Sept. 12 begins: “A call is placed from New York to a known terrorist in Pakistan. A terrorist plot may be unfolding. Should the government intercept that call or wait until the paperwork is filed?”

                                                                                              Full story at CT News Junkie

                                                                                              94 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

                                                                                              1 response(s) to Attack Ad Prompts National Security Debate

                                                                                              1. L.A. Steel [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                The story states that N.Johnson is either "willfully ignorant or maliciously deceitful". If she's that way with her support of the FISA law you have to wonder what her motivations were behind the Medicare Bill and anything else she's had a hand in.
                                                                                                involved in .

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                                                                                              American Torture: The ordeal of Mullah Zaeef

                                                                                              English (US)  September 23rd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                              Opinion

                                                                                              By Ayaz Amir

                                                                                              ISLAMABAD, Pakistan _ WE know, to our lasting shame, how our overlords, dazzled by American power, and afraid of God knows what, handed over the ex-Taliban ambassador, Mullah Abdus Salam Zaeef, to the Americans in January 2002 — in violation of every last comma of international law.

                                                                                              On the morning of January 2, 2002, three officials of a secret agency arrived at Zaeef’s house in Islamabad with this message: “Your Excellency, you are no more excellency.” One of them said, no one can resist American power, or words to that effect. “America wants to question you. We are going to hand you over to the Americans so that their purpose is served and Pakistan is saved from a big danger.”

                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                              But until now we have not been privy to the details: how exactly did the handing-over take place? Now to satisfy our curiosity, and perhaps outrage our feelings, comes Mullah Zaeef’s own account, published in Pashto and parts of which have been translated into Urdu by the Express newspaper.

                                                                                              To say that the account is eye-opening would be an understatement. It is harrowing and mind-blowing. Can anyone bend so low as our government did? And can behaviour be as wretched as that displayed by American military personnel into whose custody Zaeef was given?

                                                                                              On the morning of January 2, 2002, three officials of a secret agency arrived at Zaeef’s house in Islamabad with this message: “Your Excellency, you are no more excellency.” One of them said, no one can resist American power, or words to that effect. “America wants to question you. We are going to hand you over to the Americans so that their purpose is served and Pakistan is saved from a big danger.”

                                                                                              Zaeef could have been forgiven for feeling stunned. From the “guardians of Islam” this was the last thing that he expected, that for the sake of a few “coins” (his words) he would be delivered as a “gift” to the Americans.

                                                                                              Under heavy escort he was taken to Peshawar, kept there for a few days and then pushed into his nightmare. Blindfolded and handcuffed, he was driven to a place where a helicopter was waiting, its engines running. Someone said, “Khuda hafiz” (God preserve you).

                                                                                              There were some people speaking in English. “Suddenly I was pounced upon and flung on the ground, kicked and pummelled from all sides. So sudden was the attack that I was dumbfounded... My blindfold slipping, I saw a line of Pakistani soldiers to one side and some vehicles including one with a flag...My clothes were stripped from my body and I was naked but ‘my former friends’ kept watching the spectacle. The locks on their lips I can never forget... The (Pakistani) officers present there could at least have said he is our guest, in our presence don’t treat him like this. Even in my grave I will not be able to forget that scene.”

                                                                                              Zaeef suffered unspeakable tortures at the hands of his American captors. He was kept in Bagram, then taken to Kandahar and from there flown eventually to Guantanamo. He was released from Guantanomo and flown to Kabul in September 2005, charged with nothing, nothing having been proven against him. He remained in American captivity for close to four years.

                                                                                              I have read accounts of KGB prisons but to the best of my knowledge the KGB, while no collection of innocents, did not keep prisoners in metal containers and metal cages. This seems to be a method perfected by our American friends.

                                                                                              In the Second World War the German army confined itself to fighting, leaving the dirty work of prisoner detention, abuse and torture to the Gestapo and SS. But in Afghanistan and Iraq it is the American military involved in the most despicable acts of torture. Abu Ghraib was an American military facility as is the prison system in Guantanomo Bay. In Basra soldiers of the British army have been involved in the abuse of Iraqi prisoners.

                                                                                              These are the standard-bearers of human rights and freedom from whom we are supposed to take lessons in democracy. Why does the Bush administration and its acolytes in Britain so loath President Ahmedinejad of Iran and President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela? Because they look America in the eye and are not afraid of speaking the truth.

                                                                                              It is hard to fault Hugo Chavez when before the UN General Assembly he calls Bush a devil and the Bush administration the greatest threat to world peace. From the shores of the Mediterranean to the Hindukush mountains on our western border this entire region is in strife, all because of the evil — there is no other word for it — flowing from the US. The ‘evil empire’ is very much here and its capital is Washington.

                                                                                              The Nazis dabbled in lies as a matter of policy. They said — Goebbels being the prime exemplar — that the bigger the lie and the more it was repeated, the more it would be taken as the truth. But the Nazis did not prevaricate. They were bold enough to call their lies lies. The Yanks and the Brits are less honest. They want us to applaud their lies as the truth.

                                                                                              The US covered itself in a garb of hurt innocence when the Sep 11, 2001, attacks took place. But using those attacks as a pretext, it has done so much harm around the world, especially in the Middle East and our region, that its hands are covered in blood.

                                                                                              We can only thank our stars that American aggression has not gone unchecked. If Iraq had been a cakewalk, if the US had not met its second Vietnam in the killing fields of Iraq, there is no telling what the Bush war administration would have done, what further conquests it would have embarked upon. Redrawing the map of the Middle East would not have remained a mere slogan. It might actually have happened.

                                                                                              Complementing Iraq is the developing situation in Afghanistan where the anti-American resistance is gaining strength and growing stronger by the day. In Lebanon Israeli designs have received a severe check. Iran is defiant and standing up to pressure. In Latin America Chavez looks set to don the mantle of Castro.

                                                                                              What a dramatic change has been wrought in a mere five years. The US was unassailable at the beginning of this period. But thanks principally to the Iraq fiasco, it looks less invincible now. Its material power has not diminished but its moral worth stands degraded. It remains a colossus but with feet of clay.

                                                                                              This is not the end of history. This looks very much like the beginning of a new history. The free-market model American-style is not the crowning achievement of human existence.

                                                                                              Indeed, if we are at all interested in sustainable development, we’ll have to think of something better and less destructive than unbridled capitalism. And something less arrogant than the new imperialism to which our region is being exposed.

                                                                                              Spare a thought for our military rulers who take such pride in supping with the devil. Indeed, closeness to the Bush administration is the ultimate yardstick by which they like to judge themselves. Whatever the mess in domestic affairs, it means nothing if their equation with Washington remains strong.

                                                                                              Did the Pakistani officers present at the scene of Zaeef’s humiliation feel nothing when the Americans were laying into him? Did the thought not cross their minds that more than Zaeef’s humiliation it was their humiliation?

                                                                                              And who was the senior officer, with a flag on his jeep? My course-mate Ehsan — 41st PMA — was then heading ISI, the organization in overall command of such sensitive matters. Maybe he throws some light on this incident if he sits down to write his memoirs.

                                                                                              There is no shortage of sages who, in relation to Pakistan’s post-Sep 11 capitulation before the US, still ask: what would you have done? They miss the point altogether. From cravenness and appeasement no good can come, none whatsoever. And a country which proves itself to be craven in one sphere can do nothing right or bold in any other sphere.

                                                                                              If toadyism is to be our second nature, we will be swayed this way and that by every shifting wind. Our national endeavours will lack conviction and purpose and democracy and the rule of law will remain distant dreams. We will have to master our fears and our perennial tendency to vacillation before we can hope to master anything else.

                                                                                              DAWN

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                                                                                                Rabbis from Neturei Karta support Iran president at UN

                                                                                                English (US)  September 22nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                NEW YORK, N.Y. _ Rabbis and other members of Neturei Karta carrying signs that said "Judaism not Zionism" and "Judaism Condemns Zionist Provocations Against Iran" demonsrated in a "free speech zone" five blocks away from the United Nations in New York this week in support of Iran President Mahmoud Amadinejad during the opening of the 61st session of the General Assembly.

                                                                                                In another "free speech zone," Zionists demonstrated against Iran President Mahmoud Amadinejad.

                                                                                                Neturei Karta was founded in Jerusalem, Palestine in 1938.

                                                                                                "The name was given to a group of Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem who refused (and still refuse) to recognize the existence or authority of the so-called "State of Israel" and made (and still make) a point of publicly demonstrating their position, the position of the Torah and authentic unadulterated Judaism," according to the group's website at www.nkusa.org.

                                                                                                140 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

                                                                                                1 response(s) to Rabbis from Neturei Karta support Iran president at UN

                                                                                                1. Holly Khader [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                  We should all salute the Rabbis from Neturei karta Support for Palestine and there stand against Zionism. We all stand in Unity for standing up.

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                                                                                                Murphy supporters welcome "people, children, flags and popcorn"

                                                                                                English (US)  September 22nd, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                CORNWALL, Conn. _ Local supporters of Chris Murphy's run for the Fifth Congressional District will be out and about in the Northwest Corner Saturday raising consciousness -- and, they hope, votes -- for the Democratic state senator's challenge to incumbent Republican Nancy Johnson.

                                                                                                [More:]


                                                                                                A group of Cornwall residents have invited the public to join them on Saturday, Sept. 23 from 11 a.m. to noon on The Green at Cornwall Bridge, at the junction of routes 7 and 4 to show support for Murphy.

                                                                                                Murphy supporters from Canaan, Salisbury and Sharon will have a table outside the new super Stop and Shop on Rt. 41 in Canaan from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with literature and other information about Murphy’s positions on the issues.

                                                                                                “Nancy’s already putting out her signs – let’s show that there are committed people here who feel strongly enough about Chris to get out and stand up for him. Children, dogs, flags and popcorn all welcome,” said an email posted to Cornwall’s online bulletin board.

                                                                                                “Stand” pretty much describes what folks will be doing, said event organizer Marie Prentice said.

                                                                                                "It’s not a rally. It's not a vigil. It’s not a demonstration. What can I call an action like this? It's a grassroots event to support Chris's campaign," Prentice said. The official Murphy campaign is not aware of the event, Prentice said.

                                                                                                The Cornwall Democratic Town Committee was among the first to support Murphy’s candidacy for the Fifth District race. The race is considered to be among the top 15 races the Democrats need to win in order to gain a majority in the House.

                                                                                                “It’s a close race, and it’s a crucial race because we need to change what’s going on in Washington. Nancy has been there 23 years and almost everybody thinks it’s time for a change. She thinks she owns the job,” Prentice said.

                                                                                                Prentice said she is a firm supporter of term limits.

                                                                                                “We’re seeing the unfair advantages an incumbent has. They can create so many events and television commercial and they have better access to media,” Prentice said..

                                                                                                Enthusiasm for Murphy is huge in Cornwall, Prentice said, even among many Republicans who are disenchanted with the Bush administration and the Democratic and Republican legislators who support it. Democractic Sen. Joe Lieberman, who supports Bush's war against Iraq, felt the heat from Cornwall voters who nominated his challenger Ned Lamont with the highest percentage of support in the state during the August primary.

                                                                                                “What I’m worried about is people going into the voting booth and if they don’t know what he stands for they vote for a familiar name, and God knows, it is a familiar name since it's been around for so long. So we want to get Chris Murphy's name out there, and there’s a lot of enthusiasm. People want to come out and do something and a lot of people want to volunteer. We’re going to see where the energy is to decide whether we do this in other towns,” Prentice said.

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                                                                                                  Address to the United Nations: Rise Up Against the Empire

                                                                                                  English (US)  September 21st, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                  By HUGO CHAVEZ

                                                                                                  Representatives of the governments of the world, good morning to all of you. First of all, I would like to invite you, very respectfully, to those who have not read this book, to read it.

                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                  Noam Chomsky, one of the most prestigious American and world intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, and this is one of his most recent books, 'Hegemony or Survival: The Imperialist Strategy of the United States.'" [Holds up book, waves it in front of General Assembly.] "It's an excellent book to help us understand what has been happening in the world throughout the 20th century, and what's happening now, and the greatest threat looming over our planet.

                                                                                                  The hegemonic pretensions of the American empire are placing at risk the very survival of the human species. We continue to warn you about this danger and we appeal to the people of the United States and the world to halt this threat, which is like a sword hanging over our heads. I had considered reading from this book, but, for the sake of time," [flips through the pages, which are numerous] "I will just leave it as a recommendation.

                                                                                                  It reads easily, it is a very good book, I'm sure Madame [President] you are familiar with it. It appears in English, in Russian, in Arabic, in German. I think that the first people who should read this book are our brothers and sisters in the United States, because their threat is right in their own house.

                                                                                                  The devil is right at home. The devil, the devil himself, is right in the house.

                                                                                                  "And the devil came here yesterday. Yesterday the devil came here. Right here." [crosses himself] "And it smells of sulfur still today.

                                                                                                  Yesterday, ladies and gentlemen, from this rostrum, the president of the United States, the gentleman to whom I refer as the devil, came here, talking as if he owned the world. Truly. As the owner of the world.

                                                                                                  I think we could call a psychiatrist to analyze yesterday's statement made by the president of the United States. As the spokesman of imperialism, he came to share his nostrums, to try to preserve the current pattern of domination, exploitation and pillage of the peoples of the world.

                                                                                                  An Alfred Hitchcock movie could use it as a scenario. I would even propose a title: "The Devil's Recipe."

                                                                                                  As Chomsky says here, clearly and in depth, the American empire is doing all it can to consolidate its system of domination. And we cannot allow them to do that. We cannot allow world dictatorship to be consolidated.

                                                                                                  The world parent's statement -- cynical, hypocritical, full of this imperial hypocrisy from the need they have to control everything.

                                                                                                  They say they want to impose a democratic model. But that's their democratic model. It's the false democracy of elites, and, I would say, a very original democracy that's imposed by weapons and bombs and firing weapons.

                                                                                                  What a strange democracy. Aristotle might not recognize it or others who are at the root of democracy.

                                                                                                  What type of democracy do you impose with marines and bombs?

                                                                                                  The president of the United States, yesterday, said to us, right here, in this room, and I'm quoting, "Anywhere you look, you hear extremists telling you can escape from poverty and recover your dignity through violence, terror and martyrdom."

                                                                                                  Wherever he looks, he sees extremists. And you, my brother -- he looks at your color, and he says, oh, there's an extremist. Evo Morales, the worthy president of Bolivia, looks like an extremist to him.

                                                                                                  The imperialists see extremists everywhere. It's not that we are extremists. It's that the world is waking up. It's waking up all over. And people are standing up.

                                                                                                  I have the feeling, dear world dictator, that you are going to live the rest of your days as a nightmare because the rest of us are standing up, all those who are rising up against American imperialism, who are shouting for equality, for respect, for the sovereignty of nations.

                                                                                                  Yes, you can call us extremists, but we are rising up against the empire, against the model of domination.

                                                                                                  The president then -- and this he said himself, he said: "I have come to speak directly to the populations in the Middle East, to tell them that my country wants peace."

                                                                                                  That's true. If we walk in the streets of the Bronx, if we walk around New York, Washington, San Diego, in any city, San Antonio, San Francisco, and we ask individuals, the citizens of the United States, what does this country want? Does it want peace? They'll say yes.

                                                                                                  But the government doesn't want peace. The government of the United States doesn't want peace. It wants to exploit its system of exploitation, of pillage, of hegemony through war.

                                                                                                  It wants peace. But what's happening in Iraq? What happened in Lebanon? In Palestine? What's happening? What's happened over the last 100 years in Latin America and in the world? And now threatening Venezuela -- new threats against Venezuela, against Iran?

                                                                                                  He spoke to the people of Lebanon. Many of you, he said, have seen how your homes and communities were caught in the crossfire. How cynical can you get? What a capacity to lie shamefacedly. The bombs in Beirut with millimetric precision?

                                                                                                  This is crossfire? He's thinking of a western, when people would shoot from the hip and somebody would be caught in the crossfire.

                                                                                                  This is imperialist, fascist, assassin, genocidal, the empire and Israel firing on the people of Palestine and Lebanon. That is what happened. And now we hear, "We're suffering because we see homes destroyed.'

                                                                                                  The president of the United States came to talk to the peoples -- to the peoples of the world. He came to say -- I brought some documents with me, because this morning I was reading some statements, and I see that he talked to the people of Afghanistan, the people of Lebanon, the people of Iran. And he addressed all these peoples directly.

                                                                                                  And you can wonder, just as the president of the United States addresses those peoples of the world, what would those peoples of the world tell him if they were given the floor? What would they have to say?

                                                                                                  And I think I have some inkling of what the peoples of the south, the oppressed people think. They would say, "Yankee imperialist, go home." I think that is what those people would say if they were given the microphone and if they could speak with one voice to the American imperialists.

                                                                                                  And that is why, Madam President, my colleagues, my friends, last year we came here to this same hall as we have been doing for the past eight years, and we said something that has now been confirmed -- fully, fully confirmed.

                                                                                                  I don't think anybody in this room could defend the system. Let's accept -- let's be honest. The U.N. system, born after the Second World War, collapsed. It's worthless.

                                                                                                  Oh, yes, it's good to bring us together once a year, see each other, make statements and prepare all kinds of long documents, and listen to good speeches, like Abel's yesterday, or President Mullah's . Yes, it's good for that.

                                                                                                  And there are a lot of speeches, and we've heard lots from the president of Sri Lanka, for instance, and the president of Chile.

                                                                                                  But we, the assembly, have been turned into a merely deliberative organ. We have no power, no power to make any impact on the terrible situation in the world. And that is why Venezuela once again proposes, here, today, 20 September, that we re-establish the United Nations.

                                                                                                  Last year, Madam, we made four modest proposals that we felt to be crucially important. We have to assume the responsibility our heads of state, our ambassadors, our representatives, and we have to discuss it.

                                                                                                  The first is expansion, and Mullah talked about this yesterday right here. The Security Council, both as it has permanent and non-permanent categories, (inaudible) developing countries and LDCs must be given access as new permanent members. That's step one.

                                                                                                  Second, effective methods to address and resolve world conflicts, transparent decisions.

                                                                                                  Point three, the immediate suppression -- and that is something everyone's calling for -- of the anti-democratic mechanism known as the veto, the veto on decisions of the Security Council.

                                                                                                  Let me give you a recent example. The immoral veto of the United States allowed the Israelis, with impunity, to destroy Lebanon. Right in front of all of us as we stood there watching, a resolution in the council was prevented.

                                                                                                  Fourthly, we have to strengthen, as we've always said, the role and the powers of the secretary general of the United Nations.

                                                                                                  Yesterday, the secretary general practically gave us his speech of farewell. And he recognized that over the last 10 years, things have just gotten more complicated; hunger, poverty, violence, human rights violations have just worsened. That is the tremendous consequence of the collapse of the United Nations system and American hegemonistic pretensions.

                                                                                                  Madam, Venezuela a few years ago decided to wage this battle within the United Nations by recognizing the United Nations, as members of it that we are, and lending it our voice, our thinking.

                                                                                                  Our voice is an independent voice to represent the dignity and the search for peace and the reformulation of the international system; to denounce persecution and aggression of hegemonistic forces on the planet.

                                                                                                  This is how Venezuela has presented itself. Bolivar's home has sought a nonpermanent seat on the Security Council.

                                                                                                  Let's see. Well, there's been an open attack by the U.S. government, an immoral attack, to try and prevent Venezuela from being freely elected to a post in the Security Council.

                                                                                                  The imperium is afraid of truth, is afraid of independent voices. It calls us extremists, but they are the extremists.

                                                                                                  And I would like to thank all the countries that have kindly announced their support for Venezuela, even though the ballot is a secret one and there's no need to announce things.

                                                                                                  But since the imperium has attacked, openly, they strengthened the convictions of many countries. And their support strengthens us.

                                                                                                  Mercosur, as a bloc, has expressed its support, our brothers in Mercosur. Venezuela, with Brazil, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, is a full member of Mercosur.

                                                                                                  And many other Latin American countries, CARICOM, Bolivia have expressed their support for Venezuela. The Arab League, the full Arab League has voiced its support. And I am immensely grateful to the Arab world, to our Arab brothers, our Caribbean brothers, the African Union. Almost all of Africa has expressed its support for Venezuela and countries such as Russia or China and many others.

                                                                                                  I thank you all warmly on behalf of Venezuela, on behalf of our people, and on behalf of the truth, because Venezuela, with a seat on the Security Council, will be expressing not only Venezuela's thoughts, but it will also be the voice of all the peoples of the world, and we will defend dignity and truth.

                                                                                                  Over and above all of this, Madam President, I think there are reasons to be optimistic. A poet would have said "helplessly optimistic," because over and above the wars and the bombs and the aggressive and the preventive war and the destruction of entire peoples, one can see that a new era is dawning.

                                                                                                  As Silvio Rodriguez says, the era is giving birth to a heart. There are alternative ways of thinking. There are young people who think differently. And this has already been seen within the space of a mere decade. It was shown that the end of history was a totally false assumption, and the same was shown about Pax Americana and the establishment of the capitalist neo-liberal world. It has been shown, this system, to generate mere poverty. Who believes in it now?

                                                                                                  What we now have to do is define the future of the world. Dawn is breaking out all over. You can see it in Africa and Europe and Latin America and Oceanea. I want to emphasize that optimistic vision.

                                                                                                  We have to strengthen ourselves, our will to do battle, our awareness. We have to build a new and better world.

                                                                                                  Venezuela joins that struggle, and that's why we are threatened. The U.S. has already planned, financed and set in motion a coup in Venezuela, and it continues to support coup attempts in Venezuela and elsewhere.

                                                                                                  President Michelle Bachelet reminded us just a moment ago of the horrendous assassination of the former foreign minister, Orlando Letelier.

                                                                                                  And I would just add one thing: Those who perpetrated this crime are free. And that other event where an American citizen also died were American themselves. They were CIA killers, terrorists.

                                                                                                  And we must recall in this room that in just a few days there will be another anniversary. Thirty years will have passed from this other horrendous terrorist attack on the Cuban plane, where 73 innocents died, a Cubana de Aviacion airliner.

                                                                                                  And where is the biggest terrorist of this continent who took the responsibility for blowing up the plane? He spent a few years in jail in Venezuela. Thanks to CIA and then government officials, he was allowed to escape, and he lives here in this country, protected by the government.

                                                                                                  And he was convicted. He has confessed to his crime. But the U.S. government has double standards. It protects terrorism when it wants to.

                                                                                                  And this is to say that Venezuela is fully committed to combating terrorism and violence. And we are one of the people who are fighting for peace.

                                                                                                  Luis Posada Carriles is the name of that terrorist who is protected here. And other tremendously corrupt people who escaped from Venezuela are also living here under protection: a group that bombed various embassies, that assassinated people during the coup. They kidnapped me and they were going to kill me, but I think God reached down and our people came out into the streets and the army was too, and so I'm here today.

                                                                                                  But these people who led that coup are here today in this country protected by the American government. And I accuse the American government of protecting terrorists and of having a completely cynical discourse.

                                                                                                  We mentioned Cuba. Yes, we were just there a few days ago. We just came from there happily.

                                                                                                  And there you see another era born. The Summit of the 15, the Summit of the Nonaligned, adopted a historic resolution. This is the outcome document. Don't worry, I'm not going to read it.

                                                                                                  But you have a whole set of resolutions here that were adopted after open debate in a transparent matter -- more than 50 heads of state. Havana was the capital of the south for a few weeks, and we have now launched, once again, the group of the nonaligned with new momentum.

                                                                                                  And if there is anything I could ask all of you here, my companions, my brothers and sisters, it is to please lend your good will to lend momentum to the Nonaligned Movement for the birth of the new era, to prevent hegemony and prevent further advances of imperialism.

                                                                                                  And as you know, Fidel Castro is the president of the nonaligned for the next three years, and we can trust him to lead the charge very efficiently.

                                                                                                  Unfortunately they thought, "Oh, Fidel was going to die." But they're going to be disappointed because he didn't. And he's not only alive, he's back in his green fatigues, and he's now presiding the nonaligned.

                                                                                                  So, my dear colleagues, Madam President, a new, strong movement has been born, a movement of the south. We are men and women of the south.

                                                                                                  With this document, with these ideas, with these criticisms, I'm now closing my file. I'm taking the book with me. And, don't forget, I'm recommending it very warmly and very humbly to all of you.

                                                                                                  We want ideas to save our planet, to save the planet from the imperialist threat. And hopefully in this very century, in not too long a time, we will see this, we will see this new era, and for our children and our grandchildren a world of peace based on the fundamental principles of the United Nations, but a renewed United Nations.

                                                                                                  And maybe we have to change location. Maybe we have to put the United Nations somewhere else; maybe a city of the south. We've proposed Venezuela.

                                                                                                  You know that my personal doctor had to stay in the plane. The chief of security had to be left in a locked plane. Neither of these gentlemen was allowed to arrive and attend the U.N. meeting. This is another abuse and another abuse of power on the part of the Devil. It smells of sulfur here, but God is with us and I embrace you all.

                                                                                                  May God bless us all. Good day to you.

                                                                                                  www.counterpunch.org

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                                                                                                    Green Party Announces Lt. Gov.

                                                                                                    English (US)  September 19th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                    By Christine Stuart

                                                                                                    Christine Stuart photo

                                                                                                    A Willimantic resident who is probably best known for organizing a local street festival will join the Green Party’s ticket as it’s lieutenant governor candidate.

                                                                                                    Jean de Smet, 51, (pictured right) will run alongside Cliff Thornton (pictured left), the Green Party‘s candidate for governor.

                                                                                                    Full story at CT News Junkie

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                                                                                                      State's religious leaders challenge Dodd and Lieberman to stand up for Geneva Conventions against torture

                                                                                                      English (US)  September 18th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                      By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                      Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice, a statewide interfaith group of religiouos leaders and people of faith, is challenging Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman to stand up and support the Geneva Conventions against the Bush administration's attempts to loosen the restrictions against torture.

                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                      At a press conference on Tuesday, Sept. 19 at the Hartford Seminary at noon, Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice will hold a press conference Tuesday, Sept. 19 at noon at the Hartford Seminary, some of the state’s religious leaders, including the Rev. Dr. Davida Foy Crabtree (Conference Minister of the Connecticut Conference of the United Church of Christ) and Dr. Heidi Hadsell (President of Hartford Seminary) will speak out against the immorality of torture and prisoner abuse.

                                                                                                      The Hartford Seminary is located at 77 Sherman Street in Hartford.

                                                                                                      These and other religious leaders have joined with the National Religious Campaign Against Torture (www.nrcat.org) to call upon the U.S. senators to take a strong and public stand against any weakening of Common Article 3 of the Geneva Convention.

                                                                                                      Last Friday, President Bush pressured Congress to pass his military tribunals bill, which would protect intrerrogators from prosecution by reinterpreting the Geneva Convention to exclude torture and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment” from a list of grave breaches of the convention's Common Article 3.

                                                                                                      Bush claims the statement prohibiting "poutrages upon perosnal dignity, in particualr humiliating and degrading treatment" is "not clear."

                                                                                                      Instead of Bush's bill, three senior Republican legislators -- Armed Services Committe Chairam John Warner (R-Va.), and Senators Sen. John McCain (R-Az.), and Sen. Susan Collins (R-maine) joined with Democrats to advance a bill that would offer fair trials for terror suspects and the Geneva Convetion protections.

                                                                                                      Warner, McCain and Graham – a former Navy secretary, a former prisoner of war, and a former military lawyer, respectively – say that reinterpreting the anti-torture provisions of the Geneva Convetions would would damage America’s international standing and endanger troops abroad if they were to be captured. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell wrote a letter supporting their position Thursday.

                                                                                                      Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice was established in 2002 and is a founding member of the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. The organizaiton opposes all forms of torture, the Bush measure, and any relaxing of the rules on torture.

                                                                                                      "Torture is a moral issue; it is also a profoundly religious issue, for it degrades the image of God in each person. That religious groups in Connecticut and across the nation are so unified in their opposition to torture and the Bush Administration’s proposed legislation is unprecedented. Nothing less than the soul of our nation is at stake, not to mention the rule of law,” said the Rev. Allie Perry, a member of the RTPV Steering Committee.

                                                                                                      Reclaiming the Prophetic Voice is launching a Plumbline Campaign to hold all of the state’s Congressional officeholders and candidates accountable for their positions on torture and the abuse of executive power.

                                                                                                      John Humphries, another Steering Committee member and a Quaker, said Connecticut's senators have a particular responsibility to speak out.

                                                                                                      “Senator Dodd’s father was one of the key figures in the Nuremberg Tribunals which established the principle of a universal duty to obey international law. And last year, Senator Lieberman, was one of only five Democratic senators who voted for a bill to strip Guantánamo captives of the right to habeas corpus,” Humphries said.

                                                                                                      Lieberman was also one of only six Democrats who voted to confirm Alberto Gonzales as attorney general--after he had endorsed the conclusions of Gonzales's infamous “torture memo.”

                                                                                                      “Senator Lieberman needs to clarify whether he supports the Geneva Conventions or not,” said Humphries.

                                                                                                      The National Religious Campaign Against Torture is a campaign of national, regional, and local religious organizations.

                                                                                                      In a letter sent to every member of Congress last week, the campaign's coordinating committee chair, Jeanne Herrick-Stare, wrote, “History will either look back on this post-9/11 era in the U.S., and in particular this vote on the president’s proposed bill, as the time when the U.S. abandoned statutory commitment to its long-held moral values for a shameful lesser standard, or as the time when Congress reiterated U.S. commitment to its basic moral values.”

                                                                                                      Tuesday’s event will include a public signing of a personalized version of the letter to be delivered to each of the Senators.

                                                                                                      For more information contact Humphries at 860-236-5175 or 615-574-0629; or Perry at 203-865-6575 or 203-215-2613.

                                                                                                      The event is also sponsored by American Friends Services Committee. For more information, contact David Amdur at 860-523-1534 or by FAX 860-523-1705, or email to damdur@afsc.org .

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                                                                                                        Papal Insults: A Bavarian Provocation

                                                                                                        English (US)  September 17th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                        Opinion

                                                                                                        By Tariq Ali

                                                                                                        WAS BENEDICT'S most recent provocation accidental or deliberate? The Bavarian is a razor-sharp reactionary cleric. A man who organises his own succession to the Papacy with a ruthless purge of potential dissidents and supervises the selection of Cardinals with great care leaves little to chance.

                                                                                                        [More:]


                                                                                                        I think he knew what he was saying and why.

                                                                                                        Choosing a quote from Manuel II Paleologos, not the most intelligent of the Byzantine rulers, was somewhat disingenuous, especially on the eve of a visit to Turkey. He could have found more effective quotes and closer to home. Perhaps it was his unique tribute to Oriana Fallaci.

                                                                                                        Perhaps.

                                                                                                        The Muslim world with two of its countries---Iraq and Afghanistan-- directly occupied by Western troops does not need to be reminded of the language of the Crusades. In a neo-liberal world suffering from environmental degradation, poverty, hunger, repression, a 'planet of slums' (in the graphic phrase of Mike Davis), the Pope chooses to insult the founder of a rival faith.

                                                                                                        The reaction in the Muslim world was predictable, but depressingly insufficient. Islamic civilization cannot be reduced to the power of the sword. It was the vital bridge between the Ancient world and the European Renaissance. It was the Catholic Church that declared War on Islam in the Iberian Peninsula and Sicily. Mass expulsions, killings, forced conversions and a vicious Inquisition to police the cleansed Europe and the reformist Protestant enemy.

                                                                                                        The fury against 'heretics' led to the burning of Cathar villages in Southern France. Jews and Protestants alike were granted refuge by the Ottoman Empire, a refuge they would have been denied had Istanbul remained Constantinople. 'Slaves, obey your human masters. For Christ is the real master you serve' said Paul (Colossians 3: 22-24) in establishing a collaborationist tradition which fell on its knees before wealth and power and which reached its apogee during the Second World War where the leadership of the Church collaborated with fascism and did not speak up against the judeocide or the butchery on the Eastern Front. Islam does not need pacifist lessons from this Church.

                                                                                                        Violence was and is not the prerogative of any single religion as the continuing Israeli occupation of Palestine demonstrates. During the Cold War the Vatican, with rare exceptions, supported the imperial wars. Both sides were blessed during the First and Second World wars; the US Cardinal Spellman was a leading warrior in the battles to destroy Communism during the Korean and Vietnam wars. The Vatican later punished the liberation theologists and peasant-priests in Latin America. Some were excommunicated.

                                                                                                        Not all Christians joined in the crusades old and new. When Pope Urban launched the crusades the Norman king of Sicily refused to send troops in which Sicilian Muslims would be compelled to fight against Muslims in the East. His son, Roger II, refused to back the Second Crusade. In doing so they showed more courage than the leaders of contemporary Italy, who are only too willing to join the imperial crusades against the Muslim world.

                                                                                                        'To make sure of being right in all things', said the founder of the Jesuits, Ignatius Loyola, 'we ought always to hold to the principle that the white I see I should believe to be black if the hierarchical church were so to rule.'

                                                                                                        Today most Catholic prelates in the West (including the Bavarian in the Vatican) and politicians of Centre-Left/Right worship the real Pope who lives in the White House and tells them when black is white.

                                                                                                        Amen.

                                                                                                        Tariq Ali is author of the recently released Street Fighting Years (new edition) and, with David Barsamian, Speaking of Empires & Resistance. He can be reached at: tariq.ali3@btinternet.com
                                                                                                        Counterpunch

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                                                                                                          Comments: The pope's speech

                                                                                                          English (US)  September 17th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                          A selection of comments sent to English Al Jazeera in response to the pope's speech and the reaction to it.

                                                                                                          Could you all maybe do a story covering the irony that due to the pope's "regrettable" misunderstanding of Islam, churches in Palestine are fire bombed by Muslims? Isn't it a little ironic that Muslims are in an uproar about people thinking they are violent and to answer that they cause violence? Where does it end?
                                                                                                          Jason, US

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          I found the quotation inappropriate. However, the fact that whenever Islam is criticised there are these protests, arson attacks and incitements to murder doesn't quite convince me of Islam's peacefulness.
                                                                                                          Chris Conrad, Germany

                                                                                                          Personally, I have no love of the Catholic faith, nor of any of man's corruption of God's message to man. However, having read the speech, I don't understand what the problem is, he spoke against violence for all religions and called for greater dialogue.
                                                                                                          Tim Stokes, UK

                                                                                                          How many Muslims have reacted to the sectarian violence in Iraq, where Shia and Sunnis kill each other? Why the silence and when someone issues a statement they find displeasing, they get angry?
                                                                                                          Stephen Hall, Qatar

                                                                                                          The pope, and indeed much of Europe, should be the last people on earth to criticise the Muslim world especially in light of the millions who perished for the sake of "the cross". The world needs a history lesson!
                                                                                                          Joe

                                                                                                          This shows the ignorance of the pope and I want Muslims to know that not all Christians bow to him nor do we think as he does.
                                                                                                          Shirley Peterson, Canada

                                                                                                          The pope's thesis is clear: Violence in the name of religion [any religion] is wrong! The pope may have misunderstood the place of the Prophet in Islam [peace be upon him], which is contrary to a Christian view of a prophet, where such reverence is reserved for God alone. But let's engage with this invitation to stamp on men of violence and their evil ways! May Allah grant us peace.
                                                                                                          Phil, UK

                                                                                                          I think it's time for Muslims across the globe to stop crying wolf any time someone criticises their beliefs.
                                                                                                          Ache, UK

                                                                                                          How come when a cartoon is drawn or someone makes insulting comments the Ummah rallies and condemns these things; but daily slaughters of Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, Chechnya, Uzbekistan, Iraq etc go unanswered?

                                                                                                          A dead child is more insulting to me than ignorant words. Who cares what the pope says?
                                                                                                          Andrew Yusuf, US

                                                                                                          The pope makes reference to a 14th-century Christian emperor who said that Prophet Muhammad had brought the world "evil and inhuman" things.

                                                                                                          Do the homework. Muhammad did bring "evil and inhuman" things. As did the Catholic Church during those times. So what? That was then, this is now.

                                                                                                          Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist...

                                                                                                          Who cares? Everyone needs to calm down. Let their neighbour practise whatever his or her religion is, and just ignore what others say.

                                                                                                          My wife is Catholic. I'm Protestant. The family across the street are Muslim. My son is best friends with their son. We respect each other's beliefs.
                                                                                                          Matt Hensley, US

                                                                                                          Anger. It is strange though, that we hardly hear any protests from angry Muslims when radical Islamists urge people to use terrorism in order to promote their goals.
                                                                                                          Dag, Sweden/Bangladesh

                                                                                                          English Al Jazeera

                                                                                                          547 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

                                                                                                          1 response(s) to Comments: The pope's speech

                                                                                                          1. RP [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                            I think the moslems need to have a coke and a smile and shut the hell up. Lighten up for Allah's sake. Its not like he drew cartoons.

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                                                                                                          Thousands march against pope's speech

                                                                                                          English (US)  September 16th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                          To read the full text of the Pope's speech click here.


                                                                                                          Several thousand Palestinians marched in the Gaza Strip

                                                                                                          SEVERAL THOUSAND MUSLIMS have held demonstrations around the world in protest against comments made by Pope Benedict about Islam.

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          About 2,000 Palestinians protestors marched in the Gaza Strip on Friday waving the green flags of Hamas and chanting praises to "God and his prophet".

                                                                                                          Palestinian prime minister Ismail Haniya criticised the pope's comments, saying: "These remarks go against the truth and touch the heart of our faith.

                                                                                                          "The pope should revise his comments and stop attacking Islam, which is the religion of more than 1.5 billion people."

                                                                                                          Aljazeera's correspondent in the Palestinian territories reported that two churches in the West Bank city of Nablus were hit by firebombs early on Saturday.

                                                                                                          The bombs targeted a Roman Catholic church that was under construction, and an Anglican church, causing minor damage to the outside walls and windows of the two churches.

                                                                                                          In Gaza City, four small makeshift bombs exploded at a youth centre run by the city's oldest Christian church, breaking doors and shattering glass but causing no casualties. The Greek Orthodox church itself was undamaged.

                                                                                                          Coptic pope's criticism

                                                                                                          In the first reaction from a top Christian leader, Coptic Pope Shenouda III, the head of Egypt's Coptic Orthodox Church, said in remarks published on Saturday that "any remarks which offend Islam and Muslims are against the teachings of Christ".

                                                                                                          "Christianity and Christ's teachings instruct us not to hurt others, either in their convictions or their ideas, or any of their symbols - religious symbols," Shenouda was quoted as saying by Al-Ahram newspaper.

                                                                                                          "Personally, I have no love of the Catholic faith... However, having read the speech, I don't understand what the problem is, he spoke against violence for all religions and called for greater dialogue" -- Tim Stokes, UK

                                                                                                          Also in Egypt, about 100 worshippers demonstrated after Friday prayers at the country's prominent al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, chanting: "Oh Crusaders, oh cowards! Down with the pope!"

                                                                                                          One worshipper said: "These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn't he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?"

                                                                                                          Hundreds of Egyptian riot police surrounded the mosque, preventing protesters from spilling over into the streets.

                                                                                                          In Pakistan, groups held rallies and chanted anti-pope slogans in the capital, Islamabad, and other major cities including Karachi, Quetta, Peshawar and Multan.

                                                                                                          Pakistan's foreign ministry summoned the Vatican's ambassador to express regret over the remarks and parliament passed a resolution condemning the comments.

                                                                                                          In the US, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, which calls itself the largest Islamic civil liberties group in America, said: "The proper response to the pope's inaccurate and divisive remarks is for Muslims and Catholics worldwide to increase dialogue and outreach efforts aimed at building better relations between Christianity and Islam."

                                                                                                          Controversial remarks

                                                                                                          During a speech on Tuesday at a German university, the pope quoted from a book recounting a conversation between 14th century Byzantine Christian emperor Manuel Paleologos II and a Persian scholar on the truths of Christianity and Islam.

                                                                                                          "The emperor comes to speak about the issue of jihad, holy war," the pope said.

                                                                                                          "He said, I quote, 'Show me just what Muhammad brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached'."

                                                                                                          "These Christians are all infidels. Benedict himself is an infidel and a blind man. Doesn't he see that the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and other places were waged by Christians?" -- Worshipper at al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt


                                                                                                          Benedict did not explicitly agree with the words nor repudiate them, but went on to say that "violence is incompatible with the nature of God and the nature of the soul".

                                                                                                          The Vatican said the pope did not intend the remarks to be offensive, but sought to draw attention to the incompatibility of faith and violence.

                                                                                                          But Lebanon's most senior Shia Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, told worshippers in his Friday prayers sermon: "We do not accept the apology through Vatican channels ... and ask him [the pope] to offer a personal apology - not through his officials - to Muslims for this false reading."

                                                                                                          Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, the Malaysian prime minister and chairman of the 56-nation Organisation of the Islamic Conference, said: "The pope must not take lightly the spread of outrage that has been created. The Vatican must now take full responsibility over the matter and carry out the necessary steps to rectify the mistake."

                                                                                                          Analysts' view

                                                                                                          But some analysts, such as the Reverend Robert Taft, a specialist in Islamic affairs at Rome's Pontifical Oriental Institute, said it was unlikely that the pope miscalculated how some Muslims would receive his speech.

                                                                                                          The Vatican says Pope Benedict
                                                                                                          XVI did not mean to offend Muslims


                                                                                                          Analysts said the Catholic leader's speech was a sign that he intends to carry on with his strong defence of the values of the Christian West rather than compromise for the sake of building bonds with Islam.

                                                                                                          John Voll, director of the Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding at Georgetown University in Washington, said the speech suggested deep dismay over the conditions of Christians in the Muslim world.

                                                                                                          "This reflects the intention of Pope Benedict to distinguish himself from his predecessor on his approach to interfaith dialogue ... it means more reciprocity," said Voll.

                                                                                                          As the chief watchdog on Roman Catholic doctrine for his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, Benedict - the former Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger - had little role in shaping the Vatican's contact with Islam and other faiths.

                                                                                                          Some say his deep theological scholarship leaves him ill-equipped to deal with Islam at a time when suspicions and tensions dominate relations between the West and Muslim world.

                                                                                                          The Reverend Khalil Samir, a Vatican envoy for interfaith links in Lebanon, said: "They went to the speech expecting to meet Pope Benedict, but instead they met Professor Ratzinger."
                                                                                                          English Al Jazeera

                                                                                                          991 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment2 comments

                                                                                                          2 response(s) to Thousands march against pope's speech

                                                                                                          1. dave becker [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                            Hmmmm, outraged at cartoons & the perceived comments of the pope, Muslims protest en masse. But some of their folks take to chopping off heads, blowing stuff up willy-nilly (including their fellow Muslims) and nary a peep is raised? Maybe if their sense of outrage was shifted a bit, more of their problems would evaporate. Some of these folks seem to be jumpier then a peanut-sensitive, Northeast Democrat Liberal ACLU member when it comes to stuff that matters. Try being outraged at heads rolling down the street, at your own members being wantonly killed because of a difference of religious opinion, other folks being slaughtered due only to being believers in another religious principle.

                                                                                                          2. dave becker [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                            It seems to me that the Pope wasn't expressing "his" opinion but quoting someone else from around a zillion years ago as part of his speech. Once I discovered that I kind of petered out due to the boredom factor in finishing his speech. That being said, it didn't seem to me that he was saying his own drogatory opinion of Muslims but someone else's from long ago. In other words, history. I guess if history angers you you burn down your own stuff, kill your own folks and hope that will realign the stars of 600 years ago. Kinda stupid I guess. But recent history demonstrates that kindergarten-type reactions (with much more serious consequences) are more the norm for that crowd. My dad can beat up your dad......... or words to that affect?

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                                                                                                          Murphy: Johnson ad "disgusting"; Residents: Johnson ad "tasteless . . .a nasty Karl Rove number"

                                                                                                          English (US)  September 14th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                          "I'm Nancy Johnson and I approved this ad."

                                                                                                          By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                          THE AD STARTS with an image of the earth spinning quickly into the foreground of the screen. The image changes to a green view of North America as seen from space through night vision goggles. A rapid montage of images follows: a tracking line from New York to Pakistan, three video clips framed in yellow of men with heads wrapped in keffiyehs and holding weapons, presumably Muslim terrorists, the words “signal lost,” documents moving quickly across the screen.

                                                                                                          “The ad uses video game graphics to illustrate a hypothetical situation to monger fear. Chicken Little discovers technology,” a Northwest Corner resident said.

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          Then the ad lingers on incumbent Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson’s earnest face in black and white, talking, talking. Then, a mother and child walking, other children, a parklike setting.

                                                                                                          Then a still shot of the face of Democratic state Sen. Chris Murphy, who is challenging Johnson for the state’s Fifth Congressional District seat, framed in the same yellow as the terrorists with the word “Murphy” across his chest like a photograph in a National Security dossier. The sinister-sounding words “Access denied. Court order required” appear below. Then another image of Murphy.

                                                                                                          Finally, the last frame: an image of Johnson in a red jacket, her hand over her left chest, looking piously upward at an unseen flag, among a group of men in red jackets who may -- or may not -- be World War II veterans, a big dark monument looming behind them against the backdrop of a summer blue sky.

                                                                                                          Over the rapidly shifting images, a man’s voice, loud, urgent and scary, says:

                                                                                                          A call is placed from New York to a known terrorist in Pakistan. A terrorist plot may be unfolding. Should the government intercept that call, or wait until the paperwork is filed? Nancy Johnson says act immediately. Lives may be at stake. Liberal Chris Murphy says no, apply for a court warrant even if valuable time is lost. Chris Murphy: Wrong on security. Wrong for America!

                                                                                                          Neither Murphy nor Northwest Corner residents needed a course in media analysis to deconstruct the message Johnson's ad attempted to send.

                                                                                                          Johnson’s latest ad released with two others in time for the five year anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center elicited a sharp and immediate response from Murphy's campaign.

                                                                                                          Within hours, Murphy issued a press release rebuking Johnson for the attack ad, which, he said not only "fabricated" his position on the Bush policy of illegal wiretaping, but also underlined Johnson's full support for the Bush-Cheney agenda.

                                                                                                          “Nancy Johnson’s decision to run an ad on September 12 politicizing the 9-11 attacks is disgusting. Her ad is intended to scare people into thinking that we are safer if the Bush Administration is allowed to break our laws, and she should be ashamed,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                          “She is so out of touch with the people of Connecticut that she is listening to people who think politicizing terror is more important than fighting it. Not only is she politicizing the issue, she is making my record up out of thin air,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                          Murphy said he supports the current rule of law when it comes to eavesdropping and accountability. Under the current law, the federal government can intercept phone calls at any time, provided it later shows a court why it felt it needed to do so. Murphy said Johnson’s ad deliberately misrepresented his position and falsely claimed that he would require prior approval for intercepting such calls.

                                                                                                          “Current law gives the federal government the power to access the networks of terrorists that intend to harm us, so long as the President chooses to follow the rules. But the Bush-Cheney Administration has refused to obey existing law. The blame lies also with Nancy Johnson and the Republican Congress, who have abandoned their responsibility to oversee this Administration, rejecting the crucial system of checks and balances which has protected this nation for more than 200 years,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                          Murphy said Johnson has expressed her “wholehearted support for the Bush-Cheney illegal wiretapping program” on other occasions as well. He pointed to Johnson’s vote June 20 against an amendment that would have prohibited the use of federal funds to engage in electronic surveillance such as wiretappying, unless it complies with existing law.

                                                                                                          “Nancy Johnson is the only member of the Connecticut delegation – Democrat or Republican – who was unwilling to stand up to George Bush and Dick Cheney and say: Enough is enough, you are not above the law,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                          “The amendment Johnson voted against would only have required that the Bush Administration abide by existing law. That is my position on this issue. I believe that the federal government must play by the rules, just like the people of Connecticut do. Nancy Johnson’s loyalty to President Bush is so strong that she supports him even when he breaks the law. Yet again, Nancy Johnson has proven that she is a part of the problem in Washington,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                          Murphy was not the only person irked by Johnson’s ad.

                                                                                                          The Corner Report posted a request for comments -- both pro and con -- on the ad to dozens of Northwest Corner residents. No one who supports the ad chose to respond. The following comments were representative.

                                                                                                          “I find the ad to be tasteless and insulting. She stands there at the end looking up, with a bunch of old veterans, saluting what I presume is the flag. It implies that Murphy is nothing short of being a terrorist sympathizer himself. I think the ad is groundless, a blatantly false charactization of her opponent, and grandstanding on a national tragedy (9-11) if that's what she hoping for. Other than that, it's really, really good,” said Jane Bean.

                                                                                                          “It is indeed in very bad taste, and doubtless very expensive, but that is no prob for Ms. Johnson, alas! It is too bad that TV advertising is protected under the First Amendment, and there is very little that can be done about it,” said John Leich.

                                                                                                          “Another example of 'Grandma Congresswoman' doing a nasty Karl Rove number and not unlike her crappy commercial accusing Murphy of 'raising your taxes 27 times.' If we can only get rid of her!” John Miller said.

                                                                                                          Other respondents, who asked to remain unnamed, said the ad was "such a blatant effort to instill fear that it ends up instilling silliness."

                                                                                                          “The ad uses video game graphics to illustrate a hypothetical situation to monger fear. Chicken Little discovers technology,” another Northwest Corner resident said.

                                                                                                          1095 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

                                                                                                          1 response(s) to Murphy: Johnson ad "disgusting"; Residents: Johnson ad "tasteless . . .a nasty Karl Rove number"

                                                                                                          1. dave becker [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                            Perhaps that should've been worded differently: No one who supports Nancy Johnson might've been a better description of respondents and would've framed those responses in their proper context.

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                                                                                                          Administration, faculty to review falling CAPT scores

                                                                                                          English (US)  September 13th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                          Housatonic Valley Regional High School,Falls Village, Town of Canaan

                                                                                                          By Gale Courey Toensing
                                                                                                          FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. _ Teachers and administrations will launch a region wide review of teaching and curriculum following a significant drop in three out of four test areas in this year’s Connecticut Academic Performance Tests at the Housatonic Valley Regional High School in the Region 1 School District.

                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                          The state-mandated standardized Connecticut Academic Performance Test – CAPT – is taken in the spring by tenth grade students and measures achievement in math, science, reading and writing.

                                                                                                          According to the region's policy, beginning with the Class of 2006, all HVRHS students must either reach the state goal standard in each of the CAPT subtests or meet the school district's performance standards in the four areas of reading, writing, mathematics, and science.

                                                                                                          The CAPT scores below show the percentage of HVRHS students who met the state goals compared to the state wide percentage:

                                                                                                          MATH
                                                                                                          2006: HVRHS, 53.5. State, 46.3
                                                                                                          2005: HVRHS, 52.1. State, 47.8

                                                                                                          SCIENCE
                                                                                                          2006 HVRHS, 43.4. State, 44.6
                                                                                                          2005 HVRHS, 53.4. State, 47.3

                                                                                                          READING
                                                                                                          2006 HVRHS, 51.4. State, 46.5
                                                                                                          2005 HVRHS, 60.5. State, 49.1

                                                                                                          WRITING
                                                                                                          2006 HVRHS, 51.7. State, 52.4
                                                                                                          2005 HVRHS, 61.4. State, 55.2

                                                                                                          Overall, scores in 2006 dropped across the state with about one out of three schools experiencing a decline in all four subject areas in the proportion of students meeting the state goals.

                                                                                                          The per pupil cost of education at HVRHS is around $14,500 -- one of the highest per pupil costs in the state. Eucators generally warn against comparing scores with schools in different socio-economic levels,and also comparing scores from year to year.

                                                                                                          “The students are entirely different cohort each year and composition of the student body varies greatly,” Region 1 Superintendent Patricia Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          Students from the towns of Canaan, Cornwall, Falls Village, Kent, Salisbury and Sharon attend the regional high school, which has a student enrollment of just over 600. Each principal and with their faculty will analyze all the data and do class comparisons looking for trends, Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          “With small populations, we must be very careful in the data analysis. I have not seen our actual CAPT scores, but did see the results that the papers published. (Assistant Superintendent) Tom Gaisford will be doing a complete analysis to share with the teachers, administration and the (Region 1) Board of Education,” Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          HVRHS Principal Gretchen Foster and the teachers will begin their analysis as soon as possible as they received the hard copy results only this week, Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          “She will be presenting an analysis and strategies for improvement in the next few months. Tom Gaisford will also do an analysis with a comparison to previous years. I am very much looking forward to their analysis of testing data as we prepare school improvement plans,” Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          The good news is that the high school and all of the elementary schools made Adequate Yearly Progress as required by No Child Left Behind, Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          All of the elementary schools in the six-town school district use the same curriculum, but teaching materials may differ, Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          “We asked teachers and principal to analyze each and every student's results. Tom (Gaisford) is looking at the data from a regional point of view - again looking at trends that might indicate a need to address curriculum or instruction regionally," Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          The Connecticut Mastery Test Scores, which are administered in the elementary schools in grades three through eight, are analyzed in many in many ways, Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          "Most specifically, we are interested in same class comparisons over time as we want to see growth. Comparing different classes does not give us as much information. Once the principals and teachers have time to analyze the data - they create action plans for improvement,” Chamberlain said.

                                                                                                          599 words posted in EducationLeave a comment

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                                                                                                            Death becomes Bush

                                                                                                            English (US)  September 13th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                            The film depicts Bush being shot in Chicago in 2007

                                                                                                            It certainly will not cheer the man himself, but a new film depicting the assassination of George Bush is already proving to be successful.

                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                            Death of a President, opened to a warm reception at the Toronto international film festival on Sunday and has now sold its US distribution rights for $1 million.

                                                                                                            The fictional British television film is shot in the style of a traditional documentary and uses footage of the US president during three visits to Chicago to create the scenes that lead up to the president being shot.

                                                                                                            Gabriel Range, the director, creator and producer of the film, uses special digital effects to superimpose the head of the president on that of an actor pretending to be shot, and he creates a flowery eulogy delivered by "president" Dick Cheney at the funeral.

                                                                                                            Good reaction

                                                                                                            The movie opens with demonstrations against Bush as he visits Chicago in 2007. As he leaves a hotel after delivering a speech, he is shot by a sniper in a nearby building.

                                                                                                            A police hunt leads to the arrest of a Palestinian man on dubious evidence, who is later convicted and imprisoned even as the facts point to another person as having committed the crime.

                                                                                                            "I really don't think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film" -- Gabriel Range, director of Death of a President


                                                                                                            "The reaction of the general public was very good," Range said.

                                                                                                            "People didn't know what to expect. Our film has a very striking premise, but it is not sensational or gratuitous. I hope people will see it as a balanced film and compelling drama. It is an oblique look at the ways the United States has changed since 9/11. We use the lens of the future to explain the past."

                                                                                                            Controversial

                                                                                                            The 93-minute film's subject matter has led to protests in the United States, especially from conservatives.

                                                                                                            Range says he has received five or six death threats.

                                                                                                            "I think the film makes it clear it would really be a horrific event. There have been plenty of fictional films about assassinations, so this is not the first in that sense," he said.

                                                                                                            "I really don't think that anyone would get the idea of assassinating Bush from this film."

                                                                                                            The film is due to run on Britain’s More4 channel and will probably be shown widely in the US after the distribution deal with Nationwide Films which also handled Mel Gibson's equally provocative movie The Passion of the Christ.

                                                                                                            English Haaretz

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                                                                                                              The Moral Bankruptcy of Israel's Founding Idea

                                                                                                              English (US)  September 12th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                              The Coming Collapse of Zionism


                                                                                                              Kathleen Christison is a former CIA political analyst and has worked on Middle East issues for 30 years. She is the author of Perceptions of Palestine and The Wound of Dispossession.

                                                                                                              By KATHLEEN CHRISTISON
                                                                                                              Former CIA Analyst

                                                                                                              Is it only observers outside the conventional mainstream who have noticed that by its murderous assault on Lebanon and simultaneously on Gaza, Israel finally exposed, for even the most deluded to see, the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea?

                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                              Can it be that the deluded are still deluded? Can it truly still be that Israel's bankruptcy is evident only to those who already knew it, those who already recognized Zionism as illegitimate for the racist principle that underlies it?

                                                                                                              Can it be therefore that only the already converted can see coming the ultimate collapse of Zionism and, with it, of Israel itself as the exclusivist state of Jews?

                                                                                                              Racism has always been the lifeblood of Israel. Zionism rests on the fundamental belief that Jews have superior national, human, and natural rights in the land, an inherently racist foundation that excludes any possibility of true democracy or equality of peoples. Israel's destructive rampage in Lebanon and Gaza is merely the natural next step in the evolution of such a founding ideology. Precisely because that ideology posits the exclusivity and superiority of one people's rights, it can accept no legal or moral restraints on its behavior and no territorial limits, for it needs an ever-expanding geography to accommodate those unlimited rights.

                                                                                                              Zionism cannot abide encroachment or even the slightest challenge to its total domination over its own space -- not merely of the space within Israel's 1967 borders, but of the surrounding space as well, extending outward to geographical limits that Zionism has not yet seen fit to set for itself. Total domination means no physical threat and no demographic threat: Jews reign, Jews are totally secure, Jews always outnumber, Jews hold all military power, Jews control all natural resources, all neighbors are powerless and totally subservient. This was the message Israel tried to send with its attack on Lebanon: that neither Hizbullah nor anything in Lebanon that nurtures Hizbullah should continue to exist, for the sole reason that Hizbullah challenges Israel's supreme authority in the region and Israel cannot abide this effrontery. Zionism cannot coexist with any other ideology or ethnicity except in the preeminent position, for everyone and every ideology that is not Zionist is a potential threat.

                                                                                                              In Lebanon, Israel attempted by its wildly reckless violence to destroy the nation, to make of it a killing zone where only Zionism would reign, where non-Jews would die or flee or prostrate themselves, as they had during the nearly quarter-century of Israel's last occupation, from 1978 to 2000. Observing the war in Beirut after the first week of bombing, describing the murder in an Israeli bombing raid of four Lebanese army logistics techs who had been mending power and water lines "to keep Beirut alive," British correspondent Robert Fisk wrote that it dawned on him that what Israel intended was that "Beirut is to die . . . . No one is to be allowed to keep Beirut alive." Israeli Chief of Staff Dan Halutz (the man who four years ago when he headed the Israeli Air Force said he felt no psychological discomfort after one of his F-16s had dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in Gaza in the middle of the night, killing 14 civilians, mostly children) pledged at the start of the Lebanon assault to take Lebanon back 20 years; 20 years ago Lebanon was not alive, its southern third occupied by Israel, the remainder a decade into a hopelessly destructive civil war.

                                                                                                              The cluster bombs are a certain sign of Israel's intent to remake Lebanon, at least southern Lebanon, into a region cleansed of its Arab population and unable to function except at Israel's mercy. Cluster bombs, of which Israel's U.S. provider is the world's leading manufacturer (and user, in places like Yugoslavia and Iraq), explode in mid-flight and scatter hundreds of small bombs over a several-acre area. Up to one-quarter of the bomblets fail to explode on impact and are left to be found by unsuspecting civilians returning to their homes. UN surveyors estimate that there are as many as 100,000 unexploded cluster bomblets strewn around in 400 bomb-strike sites in southern Lebanon. Scores of Lebanese children and adults have been killed and injured by this unexploded ordnance since the cease-fire last month.

                                                                                                              Laying anti-personnel munitions in heavily populated civilian areas is not the surgical targeting of a military force in pursuit of military objectives; it is ethnic cleansing. Fully 90 percent of Israel's cluster-bomb strikes were conducted, according to UN humanitarian coordinator Jan Egelund, in the last 72 hours before the cease-fire took effect, when it was apparent that a UN cease-fire resolution was in the works. This can only have been a further effort, no doubt intended to be more or less a coup de grace, to depopulate the area. Added to the preceding month of bombing attacks that destroyed as much as 50 or in some cases 80 percent of the homes in many villages, that did vast damage to the nation's entire civilian infrastructure, that crippled a coastal power plant that continues to spill tons of oil and benzene-laden toxins along the Lebanese and part of the Syrian coastlines, and that killed over 1,000 civilians in residential apartment blocks, being transported in ambulances, and fleeing in cars flying white flags, Israel's war can only be interpreted as a massiv act of ethnic cleansing, to keep the region safe for Jewish dominion.

                                                                                                              In fact, approximately 250,000 people, by UN estimate, are unable to return to their homes because either the homes have been leveled or unexploded cluster bomblets and other ordnance have not yet been cleared by demining teams. This was not a war against Hizbullah, except incidentally. It was not a war against terror, as Israel and its U.S. acolytes would have us believe (indeed, Hizbullah was not conducting terrorist acts, but had been engaged in a sporadic series of military exchanges with Israeli forces along the border, usually initiated by Israel). This was a war for Israeli breathing space, for the absolute certainty that Israel would dominate the neighborhood. It was a war against a population that was not totally subservient, that had the audacity to harbor a force like Hizbullah that does not bow to Israel's will. It was a war on people and their way of thinking, people who are not Jewish and who do not act to promote Zionism and Jewish hegemony.

                                                                                                              Israel has been doing this to its neighbors in one form or another since its creation. Palestinians have obviously been Zionism's longest suffering victims, and its most persistent opponents. The Zionists thought they had rid themselves of their most immediate problem, the problem at the very core of Zionism, in 1948 when they forced the flight of nearly two-thirds of the Palestinian population that stood in the way of a establishing Israel as an exclusive Jewish-majority state. You can't have a Jewish state if most of your population is not Jewish. Nineteen years later, when Israel began to expand its borders with the capture of the West Bank and Gaza, those Palestinians who it thought had disappeared turned out to be still around after all, threatening the Zionists' Jewish hegemony.

                                                                                                              In the nearly 40 years since then, Israeli policy has been largely directed -- with periodic time-outs for attacks on Lebanon -- toward making the Palestinians disappear for certain. The methods of ethnic cleansing are myriad: land theft, destruction of agricultural land and resources, economic strangulation, crippling restrictions on commerce, home demolition, residency permit revocation, outright deportation, arrest, assassination, family separation, movement restriction, destruction of census and land ownership records, theft of tax monies, starvation. Israel wants all of the land of Palestine, including all of the West Bank and Gaza, but it cannot have a majority Jewish state in all of this land as long as the Palestinians are there. Hence the slow strangulation. In Gaza, where almost a million and a half people are crammed into an area less than one-tenth the size of Rhode Island, Israel is doing on a continuing basis what it did in Lebanon in a month's time -- killing civilians, destroying civilian infrastructure, making the place uninhabitable. Palestinians in Gaza are being murdered at the rate of eight a day. Maimings come at a higher rate. Such is the value of non-Jewish life in the Zionist scheme of things.

                                                                                                              Israeli scholar Ilan Pappe calls it a slow genocide (ElectronicIntifada, September 2, 2006). Since 1948, every Palestinian act of resistance to Israeli oppression has been a further excuse for Israel to implement an ethnic cleansing policy, a phenomenon so inevitable and accepted in Israel that Pappe says "the daily business of slaying Palestinians, mainly children, is now reported in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts." His prediction is that continued killing at this level either will produce a mass eviction or, if the Palestinians remain steadfast and continue to resist, as is far more likely, will result in an increasing level of killing. Pappe recalls that the world absolved Israel of responsibility and any accountability for its 1948 act of ethnic cleansing, allowing Israel to turn this policy "into a legitimate tool for its national security agenda." If the world remains silent again in response to the current round of ethnic cleansing, the policy will only escalate, "even more drastically."

                                                                                                              And here is the crux of the situation today. Will anyone notice this horror? Has Israel, as proposed at the beginning, truly exposed by its wild summer campaign of ethnic cleansing in Lebanon and Gaza the total bankruptcy of its very founding idea, the essential illegitimacy of the Zionist principle of Jewish exclusivity? Can even the most deluded see this, or will they continue to be deluded and the world continue to turn away, excusing atrocity because it is committed by Israel in the name of keeping the neighborhood safe for Jews?

                                                                                                              Since Israel's crazed run through Lebanon began, numerous clear-eyed observers in the alternative and the European and Arab media have noted the new moral nudity of Israel, and of its U.S. backer, with an unusual degree of bluntness. Also on many tongues is a new awareness of growing Arab and Muslim resistance to the staggering viciousness of Israeli-U.S. actions. Palestinian-British scholar Karma Nabulsi, writing in the Guardian in early August, laments the "indiscriminate wrath of an enemy driven by an existential mania that cannot be assuaged, only stopped." American scholar Virginia Tilley (Counterpunch, August 5, 2006) observes that any kind of normal, peaceful existence is anathema to Israel, for it "must see and treat its neighbors as an existential threat in order to justify . . . its ethnic/racial character." Even before the Lebanon war, but after Gaza had begun to be starved, political economist Edward Herman (Z Magazine, March 2006)condemned Israel's "long-term ethnic cleansing and institutionalized racism" and the hypocritical way in which the West and the western media accept and underwrite these policies "in violation of all purported enlightenment values."

                                                                                                              Racism underlies the Israeli-U.S. neocon axis that is currently running amok in the Middle East. The inherent racism of Zionism has found a natural ally in the racist imperial philosophy espoused by the neoconservatives of the Bush administration. The ultimate logic of the Israeli-U.S. global war, writes Israeli activist Michel Warschawski of the Alternative Information Center in Jerusalem (July 30, 2006) is the "full ethnicization" of all conflicts, "in which one is not fighting a policy, a government or specific targets, but a 'threat' identified with a community" -- or, in Israel's case, with all non-Jewish communities.

                                                                                                              The basically racist notion of a clash of civilizations, being promoted both by the Bush administration and by Israel, provides the rationale for the assaults on Palestine and Lebanon. As Azmi Bishara, a leading Palestinian member of Israel's Knesset, has observed (al-Ahram, August 10-16, 2006), if the Israeli-U.S. argument that the world is divided into two distinct and incompatible cultures, us vs. them, is accurate, then the notion that "we" operate by a double standard loses all moral opprobrium, for it becomes the natural order of things. This has always been Israel's natural order of things: in Israel's world and that of its U.S. supporters, the idea that Jews and the Jewish culture are superior to and incompatible with surrounding peoples and cultures is the very basis of the state.

                                                                                                              In the wake of Israel's failure in Lebanon, Arabs and Muslims have a sense, for the first time since Israel's implantation in the heart of the Arab Middle East almost 60 years ago, that Israel in its arrogance has badly overreached and that its power and its reach can be limited. The "ethnicization" of the global conflict that Michel Warschawski speaks of -- the arrogant colonial approach of old, now in a new high-tech guise backed by F-16s and nuclear weapons, that assumes Western and Israeli superiority and posits a kind of apocalyptic clash between the "civilized" West and a backward, enraged East -- has been seen for what it is because of Israel's mad assault on Lebanon. What it is is a crude racist assertion of power by a Zionist regime pursuing absolute, unchallenged regional hegemony and a neoconservative regime in the United States pursuing absolute, unchallenged global hegemony. As Palestinian commentator Rami Khouri observed in an interview with Charlie Rose a week into the Lebanon war, Hizbullah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestine, having both grown out of earlier Israeli wars of hegemony, are the political response of populations "that have been degraded and occupied and bombed and killed and humiliated repeatedly by the Israelis, and often with the direct or indirect acquiescence, or, as we see now, the direct support of the United States."

                                                                                                              Those oppressed populations are now fighting back. No matter how much Arab leaders in Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia may bow to the U.S. and Israel, the Arab people now recognize the fundamental weakness of Israel's race-based culture and polity and have a growing confidence that they can ultimately defeat it. The Palestinians in particular have been at this for 60 years, never disappearing despite Israel's best designs, never failing to remind Israel and the world of their existence. They will not succumb now, and the rest of the Arab world is taking heart from their endurance and Hizbullah's.

                                                                                                              Something in the way Israel operates, and in the way the United States supports Israel's method of operating, must change. More and more commentators, inside the Arab world and outside, have begun to notice this, and a striking number are audacious enough to predict some sort of end to Zionism in the racist, exclusivist form in which it now exists and functions. This does not mean throwing the Jews into the sea. Israel will not be defeated militarily. But it can be defeated psychologically, which means putting limits on its hegemony, stopping its marauding advance through its neighborhood, ending Jewish racial/religious domination over other peoples.

                                                                                                              Rami Khouri contends that the much greater public support throughout the Arab world for Hizbullah and Hamas is "a catastrophe" both for Israel and for the United States because it means resistance to their imperial designs. Khouri does not go further in his predictions, but others do, seeing at least in vague outline the vision of a future in which Israel no longer enjoys ultimate dominion. Gilad Atzmon, an ex-Israeli living in Britain, a jazz musician and thinker, sees Hizbullah's victory in Lebanon as signaling the defeat of what he calls global Zionism, by which he means the Israeli/U.S. neocon axis. It is the Lebanese, Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghani, and Iranian people, he says, who are "at the vanguard of the war for humanity and humanism," while Israel and the U.S. spread destruction and death, and more and more Europeans and Americans, recognizing this, are falling off the Zionist/neocon bandwagon. Atzmon talks about Israel as, ultimately, "an historic event" and a "dead entity."

                                                                                                              Many others see similar visions. Commentators increasingly discuss the possibility of Israel, its myth of invincibility having been deflated, going through a South Africa-like epiphany, in which its leadership somehow recognizes the error of its racist ways and in a surge of humanitarian feeling renounces Zionism's inequities and agrees that Jews and Palestinians should live in equality in a unitary state. British MP George Galloway (Guardian, August 31, 2006) foresees the possibility of "an FW de Klerk moment" emerging in Israel and among its international backers when, as occurred in South Africa, a "critical mass of opposition" overwhelms the position of the previously invincible minority and the leadership is able to justify transferring power on the basis that doing so later under duress will be far less favorable. Short of such peaceful transition, along with a move to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, Galloway ­ along with many others -- sees only "war, war and more war, until one day it is Tel Aviv which is on fire and the Israeli leaders' intransigence brings the whole state down on their heads."

                                                                                                              This increasingly appears to be the shape of the future: either Israel and its neocon supporters in the United States can dismantle Zionism's most egregious aspects by agreeing to establish a unitary state in Palestine inhabited by the Palestinians and Jews whose land this is, or the world will face a conflagration of a scale not fully imaginable now.

                                                                                                              Just as Hizbullah is an integral part of Lebanon, not to be destroyed by the bombing of bridges and power plants, the Palestinians before their expulsion in 1948 were Palestine and still are Palestine. By hitting the Palestinians where they lived, in the literal and the colloquial sense, Israel left them with only a goal and a vision. That vision is justice and redress in some form, whether redress means ultimately defeating Zionism and taking back Palestine, or reconciling with Israel on the condition that it act like a decent neighbor and not a conqueror, or finally joining with Israeli Jews to form a single state in which no people has superior rights . In Lebanon, Israel again seemed bent on imposing its will, its dominion, its culture and ethnicity on another Arab country. It never worked in Palestine, it has not worked in Lebanon, and it will not work anywhere in the Arab world.

                                                                                                              We have reached a moral crossroads. In the "new Middle East" defined by Israel, Bush, and the neocons, only Israel and the U.S. may dominate, only they may be strong, only they may be secure. But in the just world that lies on the other side of that crossroads, this is unacceptable. Justice can ultimately prevail.

                                                                                                              Counterpunch

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                                                                                                                Israeli legislator openly calls for ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from West Bank and ousting of Arab Israeli citizens from politics

                                                                                                                English (US)  September 12th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                I wonder how would the world react if a Palestinian Legislative Council member said the same of Jews in Israel. -- Sam Bahour, Palestinian businessman in Ramallah

                                                                                                                By Nadav Shragai, Gideon Alon and Jack Khoury

                                                                                                                MK Effi Eitam (National Religious Party - National Union) raised a storm of outrage yesterday when he called for West Bank Arabs to be transferred and for Israeli Arabs to be ejected from politics.

                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                Left-wing and Arab lawmakers reacted furiously to Eitam's statements and called for Attorney General Menachem Mazuz to open an investigation into the rightist lawmaker's comments on grounds of incitement to racism.

                                                                                                                Eitam said that the great majority of Palestinians in the West Bank should be expelled, and that Arabs should be ousted from Israeli politics as a fifth column and "a league of traitors."

                                                                                                                The remarks, broadcast yesterday on Army Radio, were made during a Sunday speech at a memorial service for a soldier killed in Lebanon during the recent war.

                                                                                                                "We will have to expel the great majority of the Arabs of Judea and Samaria," Eitam said. "It's impossible with all those Arabs, and it's impossible to give up the territory. We've already seen what they're doing there," he said.

                                                                                                                It was the first time that Eitam, who heads the Religious Zionism faction within the National Union, has publicly supported deportation of Palestinians.

                                                                                                                Turning to the subject of Israeli Arabs, Eitam said, "We will have to take another decision, and that is to sweep the Israeli Arabs from the political system. Here, too, it's clear and simple. We've raised a fifth column, a league of traitors of the first rank. Therefore, we cannot continue to enable so large and so hostile a presence within the political system of Israel."

                                                                                                                Yossi Beilin, the leader of the left-wing Meretz party, urged Attorney General Menachem Mazuz Monday to bring Eitam to trial on charges of incitement to racism.

                                                                                                                Beilin's call was based on an amendment to the law that grants lawmakers immunity from prosecution. The amendment lifts the immunity from legislators who incite to racism or ethnic prejudice.

                                                                                                                AG urged to probe comments

                                                                                                                Earlier in the day, Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan called on Mazuz to open an investigation against Eitam, on suspicion of incitement and sedition.

                                                                                                                Arab MKs and leaders of Arab social organizations yesterday urged Mazuz to open a criminal investigation against Eitam.

                                                                                                                Arab MK Ahmed Tibi (Ra'am-Ta'al) said "Eitam's remarks would have been more authentic had they been delivered in German."

                                                                                                                "These are irresponsible statements," Tibi told the radio, "directed at the lowest level of the racism surging within Israeli society.

                                                                                                                "A long time ago the racists and fascists moved from the Israeli street to the Israeli government and the halls of power" added Tibi.

                                                                                                                Arab MK Mohammed Barakeh said that the attack on the representatives of Arab citizens of Israel was an attempt to "delegitimize the Arab population entirely and to negate their right to voice their opinions and participate in the political process."

                                                                                                                Barakeh said the measures proposed by Eitam are already being implemented, as the Palestinians "are witness to many steps to push them aside and expel them from their homeland, among them the security fence in Jerusalem and the West Bank. The policies of siege, starvation, and negation of the basic right of human dignity are a means of extremely dangerous ethnic expulsion."

                                                                                                                Peace Now secretary-general Yariv Oppenheimer said that Eitam's words "show that the dogma of [slain extreme right-wing Rabbi Meir] Kahane is alive and well. In a moment of candor, the mask was removed from Eitam's face, exposing him as a leader of fantasy and racism."

                                                                                                                The spokesman of the Justice Ministry said his office had received requests to open an investigation of Eitam, and they would receive the customary attention.

                                                                                                                Haaretz

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                                                                                                                  Falls Village rejects membership in anti-prevailing wage, anti-arbitration consortium

                                                                                                                  English (US)  September 12th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                  By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                  FALLS VILLAGE, Conn. _ Motions by the boards of finance and selectmen to join the “Connecticut Municipal Consortium for Fiscal Responsibility” failed Monday with tied votes on both boards.

                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                  Members for the consortium headed by Chairman Cal Heminway, a member of the Granby Board of Education, attended both board meetings for the third month in a row, looking for an endorsement of the group’s intended lobbying efforts.

                                                                                                                  The consortium was started last winter by a group of elected officials from towns throughout the state in response to the number of budgets that have been defeated over the past several years, according to the group’s literature. While budgets have been going down, property taxes have increased at a rate of around 5 percent a year, the group says.

                                                                                                                  The consortium has three legislative priorities it says will remedy the situation and “bring about changes beneficial to the municipalities and taxpayers across Connecticut. They are:

                                                                                                                  • Raising the cost threshold under the prevailing wage statute from the current $100,000 to $400,000 levels to a minimum of $1 million. That would mean workers on public construction jobs that cost less than $1 million would not be guaranteed a certain minimum rate of imbursement.
                                                                                                                  • Changing the rules of binding arbitration so that if a local legislative body – a school board, for example – rejects an arbitrated settlement the parties go back to negotiation, in effect, making binding arbitration no longer binding.
                                                                                                                  • Prohibiting new mandates until the state funds existing mandates to the levels promised.

                                                                                                                  At the Board of Finance’s 6:30 p.m. meeting, member Tom Christian made a motion to support the consortium “subject to approval by the Board of Selectmen.”

                                                                                                                  Christian, regular member Fred Petersen, and alternate Kent Allyn voted yes. Chairman Chuck Lemmen, and members George Elling and Denise Cohn voted no. The tied vote means the motion failed.

                                                                                                                  “I flatly disagreed with their positions” on mandates., prevailing wages, and arbitration," Elling said in an interview Tuesday.

                                                                                                                  “And they were fairly absolute about those things. I just felt it was too strong. Sometimes mandates are a good thing, and prevailing wage I think has probably been beneficial statewide. As for binding arbitration, they said, ‘We’re not against binding arbitration, we just want a chance for the negotiator to go back and negotiate some more.’ Clearly, they were throwing out binding arbitration,” Elling said.

                                                                                                                  At the selectmen’s meeting that followed, First Selectwoman Patricia Mechare asked members Chuck Lewis and Peter Lawson if they would offer a motion to join the consortium.

                                                                                                                  “I had given you all the information a couple of months ago. We talked about it last month and one of the questions I had was that the group said they didn’t have to be a (registered) political action committee (PAC). I got a note (from the group) that according to the general counsel of the Connecticut Association of Boards of Educaiton, they do not need to have a PAC because they do not meet any of the requirements, so that answers my question,” Mechare said.

                                                                                                                  Lewis declined to offer a motion.

                                                                                                                  “I share some of the concerns the Board of Finance has and I chose not to make a motion,” Lewis said.

                                                                                                                  Lawson made a motion to become a member of the consortium, which was seconded by Mechare “to get it on the table for further discussion,” but there was none, and when the vote was called, Lewis abstained, Lawson voted yes, and Mechare voted no – another tie vote that meant the motion failed.

                                                                                                                  According to an emaill from Heminway, "115 towns and related organizations ions are partial or full supporters of the Coalition (68 Boards of selectmen/councils, 60 boards of finance, and 28 Boards of Education).

                                                                                                                  "Two other boards have voted not to join us (one each of a BOS and BOE). A number of others are discussing their possible endorsement.

                                                                                                                  "In the almost two years since our formation, we have spent the major portion of our efforts talking to local boards and seeking endorsement. In the last session, a number of us testified on specific bills initiated by others but did not publish a 'legislative agenda.' We also met and are meeting with individual legislators. This year we will likely ask that a modification to the prevailing wage statute be filed on our behalf which would call for a single entry point at $1 million," Heminway said.

                                                                                                                  The issues of chaning the arbitration rules and raising the cost of a project before the prevailing wage law kicks in has been one of the legislative priorities of the Northwestern Connecticut Council of Governments for a number of years.

                                                                                                                  Mechare said the Northwest Corner towns have good representation with legislators.

                                                                                                                  “We use our (state) representatives to a great extent, We talk to them on a regular basis and while we know one person can’t always change things, at leasy they work with us and know what our positions are and it’s be a great advantage for us,” Mechare said.

                                                                                                                  She also said she was left with the impression that the group’s representative may have been surprised by the town’s response to their presentations.

                                                                                                                  “I think they were surprised at the number of questions we had, which lead me to believe that perhaps in other places where they’ve made their presentation not many questions have been asked,” Mechare said.

                                                                                                                  She agreed with finance member Elling’s assessment that the group is agenda is to do away with binding arbitration.

                                                                                                                  Additionally, Mechare said she was concerned that with so many towns represented, the consortium could put forward positions that are not in the village’s interest.

                                                                                                                  “We lend our name and they may be advocating for things we don’t agree with,” Mechare said.

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                                                                                                                    The boy who was buried twice

                                                                                                                    English (US)  September 12th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                    MEDIA WATCH
                                                                                                                    The story of Israel's siege of Gaza last week -- called "Locked Kindergarten" -- and the death of 22 Palestinians, including five children, did not appear on the front pages of the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, or the Hartford Courant. - Editor

                                                                                                                    By Gideon Levy

                                                                                                                    ABDULLAH A-ZAKH IDENTIFIED HIS SON'S BODY BY THE BELT. The shoes and socks also looked familiar, irrefutable proof that he had lost his son. In the morgue of Shifa Hospital, after hours of searching, he found the bottom part of the boy's body. The next day, when Operation "Gan Na'ul" - "Locked Kindergarten" - ended and the Israel Defense Forces exited the Saja'iya neighborhood of Gaza, leaving behind 22 dead and large-scale destruction, the other body parts were found.

                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                    Mohammed was buried twice. He was 14 years old at the time of his death. He was killed last week, three days before the start of the new school year, so he never got to enter ninth grade. Did the planners of the operation give thought to the children who would be killed before giving it the satanic name "Locked Kindergarten"? Did the IDF computer that comes up with the names know that there would be five children and adolescents among the dead? Did they think about the popular song that the operation's name evokes? It was unpleasant, very unpleasant (in the words of the song) this week to see the results of Locked Kindergarten in the Saja'iya neighborhood in the eastern section of Gaza City.

                                                                                                                    This sprawling, overcrowded residential neighborhood was occupied for almost a week by the IDF. The army wreaked destruction in it. A monstrous bulldozer maliciously potholed a few roads, scarring the asphalt with gaping wounds, for no apparent reason. Houses were hit, street tiling was uprooted, electricity poles were cut down, cars were crushed, dozens of trees were destroyed and 22 residents were killed. For almost a week the tens of thousands of residents lived in terror, some of them unable to leave their homes.

                                                                                                                    The IDF Spokesperson's Office explained this week: "The IDF operated in Saja'iya as part of the overall activity to create the conditions for the return of Gilad Shalit, damaging the terrorist infrastructures and the firing of Qassam rockets. In the course of the operation, a tunnel was uncovered which was dug from the direction of Saja'iya toward the Karni terminal. This tunnel is only part of the tunnel threat that affects the orderly transit of goods on a daily basis. The IDF does all it can to avoid harming non-involved people and under no circumstances does it intend this."

                                                                                                                    Now Abdullah a-Zakh is a bereaved father who saw his son's body torn apart. Burdened by suffering and struggle, with long years in Israeli prisons, deported to Lebanon as a member of Hamas and probably an activist in Islamic Jihad, he mourns for his son. On the wall of the mourners' home, which was demolished by the IDF in 1971, Mohammed's photograph hangs next to a photograph of his uncle, who was killed four years ago. And also the photographs of the other children who were killed in Locked Kindergarten, along with Mohammed.

                                                                                                                    When the children of Saja'iya went to school this week, at the start of the school year, carrying their new schoolbags and also the horrors of the previous week, they found a few empty seats in their classrooms. This week the streets of this neighborhood were more fraught than ever with devastation, mourning and fury.

                                                                                                                    The zoo of Gaza is locked, too. It's a new zoo, built by France, with a model of the Eiffel Tower at the entrance, but this week it stood empty, the lone lioness downcast in her narrow cell. Two shekels to get in for a child, three for an adult, but the place is locked. No one visits, Gaza can't afford to visit a zoo these days. In the Abed Rabbo neighborhood the residents emerge anxiously from their homes to view the damage inflicted by night, uprooted orchards. This is where the tanks invaded last Saturday night. In Saja'iya the electricity and telephone technicians are laboring to repair the damages of Locked Kindergarten, and farmers are returning to their wrecked plots, trying to salvage what can still be salvaged.

                                                                                                                    An angry passerby stops us and begins to shout loudly against Israel and Europe, which, he says, is supporting Israel. The bitterness here is great. Next to an apartment building a yellow cab is stuck in the ground, its back pointing skyward, its belly in the earth. Another source of income gone. In the industrial zone at the Karni crossing are containers from Copenhagen that were made in Shanghai, now perforated and savaged from the battles that raged here last week. A Zim shipping lines container is here, too, by the side, as though shy, with Herzl's seven golden stars emblazoned on it. The soldiers did not shoot it.

                                                                                                                    Half a family was killed here two months ago in a lone house at the edge of the neighborhood: Amana Hajaj, 45, her son Mohammed, 23, and her daughter, Rawan, a girl of six. The family had gathered beneath vine and fig tree in the evening to roast corn on the small barbecue that is still here, when three missiles slammed into the yard. The Hajaj family doesn't live here anymore; only the son, Yasser, a handsome youth of 17, comes every few days to feed the dog that is guarding the house and the chickens in the coop. The family left the house immediately after their tragedy, because of the fear: when you open the iron gate that leads from the house to the street you see an IDF position on the hill at the edge of the horizon to the east, its very presence enough to instill fear in the hearts of those in the exposed house. The grapes of wrath attest to what happened: they still hang, scorched, on the vine in the yard.

                                                                                                                    On the second day of the school year, children are burning electric cables that they pulled from the houses that were destroyed last week in Saja'iya in order to extract the copper from them. Mourners' tents have been put up in every corner of the neighborhood. A group of grim-faced men sit at the entrance to the home of the boy Hussam a-Sarsawi, too. The bereaved father has gone to the mosque to pray and they are unwilling to talk in his absence. Hussam was 10 years old at the time of his death - one of those who fell in Operation Locked Kindergarten.

                                                                                                                    The atmosphere on the streets is bleak and tense; the looks of the passersby say it all. In the footsteps of fighters: It's easy to distinguish between the streets the IDF used here and the streets that were not gutted by the tanks. These are the footsteps of devastation. An elegant yellowish villa on a street corner is punctured by bullet holes and half wrecked. This is where the boy Mohammed a-Zakh was killed.

                                                                                                                    In the courtyard sit the mourning women, in black, among them the bereaved mother, Abir, opposite photographs of the dead and verses from the Koran in the black and gold of Islamic Jihad. Mohammed a-Zakh set up a booth next to his home, to make a little money during the vacation. Every day he sold gum, wafers, biscuits and chips for a pittance to the neighborhood children, and took in about NIS 20 or NIS 30 a day. Last Tuesday, too, he was open for business. There were two days left in the summer vacation. At about 11 A.M. he went up to his mother on the second floor and saw her baking pitas. Afterward he went to the mosque, for the midday prayers, and then went back to his mother to ask for an electric cable - there happened to be power in the neighborhood just then - in order to vacuum the dust from the carpets in the mosque. "You're still making pitas?" he asked.

                                                                                                                    When he got back from the mosque he noticed that someone had opened the door of his dovecote and that all the doves had flown off. Mohammed ran after one dove and managed to return it to the dovecote, which was in the roof of the house. He then went down to his grandmother's apartment and ate lunch. Afterward he went down to the street and was not seen again alive and well.

                                                                                                                    Mohammed walked toward Mansura Street, the neighborhood's main thoroughfare, where the tanks were. According to one account, he was asked to go there to see how his uncles, who lived in the line of fire, were doing; another version has it that he went to see the tanks and help the "defenders," as they call themselves in this fighting family. The father of the family, Abdullah, who joined us later for a conversation, has seen his share of struggle. In 1971, when he was 17, he was sentenced to 30 years in prison by Israel for security offenses which he declines to specify. He was released in 1985, after 14 years, in the Jibril deal. A year later he was rearrested and sentenced to four years in prison.

                                                                                                                    Three years later, in 1992, he was deported to Marj al Zahur, in Lebanon, together with hundreds of Hamas activists, including Ismail Haniyeh, Abdel Aziz Rantisi, Mahmoud Zahar and Saeed Seyam, who became leaders of the organization. He was allowed back to Gaza a year later and in 1995 was arrested for brief periods by the Palestinian Authority. He says that everyone claimed he was active in Islamic Jihad, something he denies. Now 54, he works for the Palestinian Authority as a very senior officer, in charge of the veteran fighters. Between one incarceration and another, he fathered eight children, among them Mohammed.

                                                                                                                    The grandmother closes her eyes. The aunt weeps silently. She relates that in the war of 1956, five members of her family were killed. Abdullah asks the women to move to another part of the courtyard. The marks of mourning and trauma are very apparent on him, as he tells his story: Last Tuesday his sister came to the house and said there was a wounded boy on Mansura Street. Abdullah rushed to Shifa Hospital. "I looked everywhere but couldn't find him. I thought maybe he was in surgery, but no. I had a feeling that Mohammed was a shahid [martyr].

                                                                                                                    "I thought maybe he was transferred to another hospital and I sent relatives to look in Al-Quds Hospital. They didn't find him there. The feeling that he was a shahid grew stronger. I thought that if he was not in the hospital, he must be lying at the place where he was killed. It would be very hard to get there and get him out. We know that if anyone is wounded there, no one can get close enough to get him out. We know that the army shoots at anyone who approaches there, even at rescue parties. There were cases of people who tried to rescue the wounded and were shot.

                                                                                                                    "Then I thought he must be in the hospital refrigerator. I asked my cousins to go and check. There were a few shahids there, and they saw them, but they came back and said they did not find Mohammed. The feeling that Mohammed was a shahid grew stronger in me. But there was no announcement.

                                                                                                                    "I decided to go to the morgue and look. I went in but I didn't find Mohammed. Then I saw half a body, the only one that was not identified. I saw that it was Mohammed's half-body. By the belt. It's a belt that I bought him. And the shoes he wore. I looked at the socks and I knew it was Mohammed. I was sure it was Mohammed. The upper half of the body had disappeared.

                                                                                                                    "Mohammed was killed by two shells fired by a tank, and both shells hit him. Mohammed is fourteen years and four months old. He was not armed and he didn't know what a weapon was. They saw that he was a boy. Maybe he went there to see the defenders, maybe he wanted to take part. Maybe he threw stones at a tank. They fired a shell at him. That is Mohammed's story and that is the end of Mohammed."

                                                                                                                    Mohammed was buried that day. The next day, last Wednesday, when the IDF left Mansura, they went to the killing place to look for the other half of Mohammed. They found his body parts together with the body parts of Yusri Abu Jabber, a press photographer for the Al-Quds network, who was also killed there. The rest of Mohammed's body was buried on Wednesday. Abdullah, the father: "Mohammed was a schoolboy. That is the whole story of Mohammed. It happens every day, every day. Can a boy like this, like Mohammed, be a danger to them? And if he was a danger to them, they could have wounded him instead of killing him. They could have thrown a teargas grenade at him. Even if he was a danger to them, you don't fire a shell at him."

                                                                                                                    The IDF Spokesperson's Office, this week: "The IDF is not aware of a 14-year-old boy being hit other than from media reports, and is not familiar with the circumstances in which he was hit. It should be noted that on the day the report was published there were heavy exchanges of fire, which included the firing of antitank missiles, the detonation of explosive devices, and light-arms fire against IDF forces."

                                                                                                                    His youngest child, Ibrahim, is on his knees, scribbling on himself with a pen. Abdullah gags every so often. Abir is pregnant, and if it's a boy they will name him Mohammed. "Israel must know that we must live together. We are ready to live in one state, not two states, and all the refugees will return and we will all live in a democratic state, call it Israel or Palestine. I am certain that we are ready to live together. We long to live in a good democracy, but I am sure you [Israelis] will not accept that. Israel will not agree to a two-state solution, either. Israel only wants more and more, and the right wing in Israel wants to destroy us. But Israel, what does it hear?"

                                                                                                                    This year they didn't buy Mohammed a new schoolbag. He kept putting it off. Photos in the family album: Mohammed as a baby in uniform; Mohammed as a boy in a boat in surging rapids - a studio photomontage; Mohammed with a toy rifle; Mohammed with Yasser Arafat, shaking his hand during a visit Arafat made to the neighborhood; Mohammed against a background of two cardboard Qassam rockets in a photo studio; and the last photograph, taken about a month ago, of the whole family together in the studio, for a group portrait to get a health insurance certificate.

                                                                                                                    Mail to:levy@haaretz.co.il

                                                                                                                    Haaretz

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                                                                                                                      Poisonous clouds of pollution spread after Israel air strike: Another 1,000 deaths predicted

                                                                                                                      English (US)  September 12th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                      Lebanese minister says damage was deliberate, causing 'an even bigger disaster than the war itself'

                                                                                                                      By Geoffrey Lean, Environment Editor, Independent

                                                                                                                      MORE PEOPLE will die as a result of pollution unleashed by Israel's bombing of Lebanon than perished in the month-long war itself, the Lebanese government believes.

                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                      Yacoub Sarraf, its Environment Minister, speaking exclusively to The Independent on Sunday, said last week that a highly poisonous cloud spread over a third of the country - an area that is home to half its people - from a fire in a bombed fuel tank that burned for 12 days.

                                                                                                                      The same bombing released about four million gallons of oil into the sea, in the largest ever spill in the eastern Mediterranean. He insists that the environmental damage was "deliberately" caused. Experts say that, if this was so, it would constitute a war crime, in breach of both the Geneva Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel retorts that any such suggestion is "very ridiculous".

                                                                                                                      The damage began on 13 July, when Israeli rockets hit a fuel storage tank at the Jiyyeh power station 18 miles south of Beirut. The government managed to repair the damage and prevent an oil spill. But two days later, he continued, the rockets returned, not merely hitting the same tank again - just 25 metres from the sea - but fatally damaging its protective burm, a concrete and earth barrier designed to stop any oil spilling from the tank from reaching the Mediterranean.

                                                                                                                      "It was definitely deliberate.," he said. "They did not hit the power station, just the fuel storage, and this was the tank that was closest to the sea."

                                                                                                                      He expects the greatest "catastrophe" from the toxic cloud that was blown by the prevailing wind over Beirut and one-third of the country. Tests have shown, he says, that it contains high levels of poisonous lead and mercury, and highly dangerous PCBs.

                                                                                                                      "Not only have we been breathing this for a month, but all the agricultural produce has been subjected to it. Even worse, all these poisons will come down with the rain, and some will seep through the soil and give us a polluted water table.

                                                                                                                      "Then in a couple of years every single citizen in Lebanon will definitely be subjected to poisonous matter in his drinking water." He expected more Lebanese to die from the pollution than the 1,300, overwhelmingly civilians, killed in the war. He added that studies have shown there would be decreased fertility and higher rates of cancer. "This is a bigger disaster even than the war itself," Mr Sarraf said.

                                                                                                                      A spokesman for the Israeli government said: "We deny the minister's accusations. They seem to be very ridiculous.

                                                                                                                      "We never deliberately targeted any civilian capacity or place, we only targeted places or facilities relevant to Hizbollah."

                                                                                                                      More people will die as a result of pollution unleashed by Israel's bombing of the Lebanon than perished in the month-long war itself, the Lebanese government believes.

                                                                                                                      Yacoub Sarraf, its Environment Minister, speaking exclusively to The Independent on Sunday, said last week that a highly poisonous cloud spread over a third of the country - an area that is home to half its people - from a fire in a bombed fuel tank that burned for 12 days.

                                                                                                                      The same bombing released about four million gallons of oil into the sea, in the largest ever spill in the eastern Mediterranean. He insists that the environmental damage was "deliberately" caused. Experts say that, if this was so, it would constitute a war crime, in breach of both the Geneva Convention and the statute of the International Criminal Court. Israel retorts that any such suggestion is "very ridiculous".

                                                                                                                      The damage began on 13 July, when Israeli rockets hit a fuel storage tank at the Jiyyeh power station 18 miles south of Beirut. The government managed to repair the damage and prevent an oil spill. But two days later, he continued, the rockets returned, not merely hitting the same tank again - just 25 metres from the sea - but fatally damaging its protective burm, a concrete and earth barrier designed to stop any oil spilling from the tank from reaching the Mediterranean.

                                                                                                                      "It was definitely deliberate.," he said. "They did not hit the power station, just the fuel storage, and this was the tank that was closest to the sea."

                                                                                                                      He expects the greatest "catastrophe" from the toxic cloud that was blown by the prevailing wind over Beirut and one-third of the country. Tests have shown, he says, that it contains high levels of poisonous lead and mercury, and highly dangerous PCBs.

                                                                                                                      "Not only have we been breathing this for a month, but all the agricultural produce has been subjected to it. Even worse, all these poisons will come down with the rain, and some will seep through the soil and give us a polluted water table.

                                                                                                                      "Then in a couple of years every single citizen in Lebanon will definitely be subjected to poisonous matter in his drinking water." He expected more Lebanese to die from the pollution than the 1,300, overwhelmingly civilians, killed in the war. He added that studies have shown there would be decreased fertility and higher rates of cancer. "This is a bigger disaster even than the war itself," Mr Sarraf said.

                                                                                                                      A spokesman for the Israeli government said: "We deny the minister's accusations. They seem to be very ridiculous.

                                                                                                                      "We never deliberately targeted any civilian capacity or place, we only targeted places or facilities relevant to Hizbollah."

                                                                                                                      Independent

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                                                                                                                        WSJ writer posts attribution

                                                                                                                        English (US)  September 11th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                        By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                        WALL STREET Journal blogger John Fund has posted a clarification on his latest blog entry on Opinion Journal, conceding that he should have attributed material he published a few weeks ago to Lakeville Journal writer and blogger Terry Cowgill.

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                                                                                                                        "In my Aug. 21 column, I should have attributed a point about specific personalities who lacked verbal skills but were nonetheless intelligent to blogger Terry Cowgill, who made that point first," Fund wrote in his log entry published today, Sept. 11.

                                                                                                                        Cowgill is the senior writer at the Lakevile Journal, a community weekly newspaper that serves Cornwall, Canaan, Falls Village, Kent, Salisbury and Sharon. A few months ago, Cowgill started a blog called What's Going on Here?.

                                                                                                                        Fund took and used material without credit or attribution from Cowgill's Aug. 16 entry. Cowgill contacted Fund and got into an email exhange about the unauthorized use of his material, and asked Fund to post a correction crediting the source. To read the details, click here.

                                                                                                                        In a new blog entry Monday, Cowgill said he considers the matter closed.

                                                                                                                        "The attribution is vaguely worded, but I am satisfied that Fund is willing to set the record straight," Cowgill wrote.

                                                                                                                        Cowgill answered some questions about the experience in an email to The Corner Report today.

                                                                                                                        Asked to describe his initial reaction when he discovered the unattributed use of his work, Cowgill said, "I was amazed. When I was reading his column and ran across some of the thoughts that were mine, I initially thought it was a coincidence. Then after rereading it I knew he must have seen my blog. Since I am an obscure blogger in NWC, I was initially gratified that someone at the WSJ was reading me. But the more I thought about it, the more I felt violated."

                                                                                                                        After the initial correspondence with Fund, Cowgill said he had "an off-the-record conversation with him that involved negotiations but no threats."

                                                                                                                        Fund was leaving on a week's vacation, then came Labor Day weekend, and so his Monday column did not run until this week.

                                                                                                                        "That's why it took so long (for Fund to post the attribution)," Cowgill said.

                                                                                                                        Cowgill said he is satisfied with the outcome and advises other bloggers who encouter the unauthorized use of their material to contact the writer and deal with him or her directly.

                                                                                                                        "Not all will be as reasonable as Fund, so you may have to rattle the cage of an editor, or if it's a large publication, an ombudsman," Cowgill said.

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                                                                                                                          Policing thought on Palestine

                                                                                                                          English (US)  September 11th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                          After the terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001 academic freedom in the United States is facing its most serious threats since the McCarthy era. A new publication argues that freedom to pursue critical thinking about the Middle East, most particularly Palestine, is under sustained attack.*

                                                                                                                          THE STORM of controversy sweeping American campuses is not a result of internal activism or clashes. The escalating tensions are a product of professionally organised external interventions by well-funded special interest groups intimately tied to the coalition of forces in the Bush Administration – militaristic nationalists, Israeli lobbyists, the evangelical Protestant Zionist electoral base of the Republican Party and the military industries that promote the US-Israeli alliance as a business asset. They attempt to depict ‘Islamic terrorism’ as the primary evil and source of fear and propose phrases like ‘war on terrorism’, ‘clash of civilisations’ and ‘axis of evil’ as serious explanations for what is happening in the contemporary Middle East.

                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                          Universities and colleges have been a particular target of policing what may be thought and said about the Middle East because they are among the few institutions where intelligent political discourse remains possible in the United States. The Middle East Studies Association of North America has been subjected to a barrage of intemperate attacks by neo-conservative pundits determined to shield Israel from criticism and to prevent faculty, staff and students from suggesting that universities should disinvest from companies supporting the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

                                                                                                                          Students and faculty connected academically or culturally to Muslim and/or Middle Eastern countries are being identified as suspect both in their loyalties to the United States and in their ethical commitments to the pursuit of knowledge. Racist profiling and scapegoating are common in websites that compile lists of ‘un-American’ professors critical of US foreign policy in the Middle East. Charges of anti-Semitism are routinely levelled against critics of Israel. Jewish scholars critical of Israeli policies towards Palestinians are ludicrously described as ‘self-hating Jews’. These notions are being propagated by circles close to the government of the most powerful country in human history in concert with unprecedented assertions of a right to make and unmake regimes throughout the world, especially in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                          Powerful lobbies seek to de-fund Middle East centres and establish think-tanks that will provide for the press and government a ready stable of ‘experts’ who can shape knowledge about the Middle East. Most of those who have attacked Middle East scholars spend their days in think-tanks where they are paid to hobnob with foreign policy makers and mass-media opinion makers. They write op-eds and policy think pieces and for the most part do not engage in the primary recognised activities of scholars: teaching and research.

                                                                                                                          The determination of many Jewish organisations to delimit the boundaries of permissible discussion of the Middle East at colleges and universities is motivated in large part by a desire to keep young American Jews in the ‘pro-Israel’ camp as they define it. They seek to convince legislators that there is a wave of anti-Semitism on American campuses. Paradoxically, by failing to make a clear distinction between anti-Semitism, which should always and everywhere be opposed, and anti-Zionism, which is a legitimate political opinion, organisations such as the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation League have exposed American Jews to attack because they were identified with Israel.

                                                                                                                          The virulently anti-intellectual nature of the 9/11 attacks is mirrored in the war launched in response. Campaigns of surveillance, intimidation and control, if unchecked, will not remain confined primarily to scholars who study the Middle East.

                                                                                                                          Academic Freedom after September 11, edited by Beshara Doumani is published by Zone Books, MIT Press, March 2006. ISBN 1-890951-61-7. The above draws significantly on chapter seven by Joel Beinin (online at: www.censoringthought.org/beinin.html).

                                                                                                                          Beshara Doumani, a Palestinian whose academic specialty is the modern social history of the Middle East, is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, Berkeley. Email: bdoumani@berkeley.edu. Joel Beinin, a Stanford University professor of Middle Eastern history, is past president of the Middle East Studies Association. Email: beinin@stanford.edu.

                                                                                                                          *The article above is from the September 2006 issue of the in-house magazine of the University of Oxford's Refugee Studies Centre, which includes a major feature on Palestinian displacement. Twenty-eight articles by UN, Palestinian and international human rights organisations, Palestinian scholars in the diaspora and Jewish and Israeli activist groups examine the root causes of the displacement of Palestinians, the consequences of the failure to apply international humanitarian law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and Palestinian entitlement to protection and compensation. The articles are available online at http://www.fmreview.org/palestine.htm

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                                                                                                                            Feds Strike Back Against DPUC

                                                                                                                            English (US)  September 11th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                            By Christine Stuart

                                                                                                                            THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT is striking back against Connecticut’s Department of Public Utility Control for its decision to help the American Civil Liberties Union seek information from AT&T and Verizon on the National Security Administration’s warrantless wiretaps.

                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                            Filed in U.S. District Court in Hartford on Sept. 7, the United States’ lawsuit refuses to admit the wiretaps even existed, though the president talked about it on national TV that same day.

                                                                                                                            For the full story and link to ACLU's complaint, go to CT News Junkie

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                                                                                                                              Burton Bernstein at UConn, Torrington

                                                                                                                              English (US)  September 11th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                              Public Service Announcement

                                                                                                                              A Free Talk at the University of Connecticut’s Torrington Campus

                                                                                                                              TORRINGTON, Conn _ The Litchfield County Writers Project at the University of Connecticut’s Torrington campus will host author and journalist Burton Bernstein on Wednesday, September 20 from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. as part of the fall course “Writers of Litchfield County Nonfiction and Memoir.”

                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                              Bernstein will discuss his memoir "Family Matters, Sam, Jennie, and the Kids." The event is free and open to the public.

                                                                                                                              Bersntein was born in Boston, the third child of immigrant parents who left Russian Ukraine shortly before the onset of Communism. "Family Matters" is about the Bernsteins -- the mother, Jennie; the father, Sam; and their three children: Leonard, Shirley and Burton. Bernstein intimately recounts the family’s roots and entertains with anecdotes of a father desperate for offspring to take over the family business, a mother famous for malapropisms, and the unique bond between siblings, one of whose stunning success and worldwide celebrity changed all their lives.

                                                                                                                              More than 100 people turned out for the first two classes and LCWP Director, Davyne Verstandig, remarked that the “students and guests, many of whom are in the process of writing memoirs themselves, were quite enthusiastic about the discussions which touched on the difference between memoir and autobiography as well as the distinction between truth and invented truth in memoir. We are delighted to have Burton Bernstein as our first speaker.”

                                                                                                                              Educated at Dartmouth College and Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, Bernstein was a staff writer for The New Yorker from 1957 to 1992. His works include The Grove and the Lost Art; The Sticks, a Profile of Essex County, New York; Thurber: A Biography; Look Ma, I am Kool! and Other Casuals, a collection of humor pieces; The Great and Terrible Wilderness; and Plane Crazy: A Celebration of Flying.

                                                                                                                              Bernstein will be the first author in the Litchfield County Writers Project’s lecture series this fall which includes Dani Shapiro (9/27), Robin Magowan (10/4), Antoinette Bosco (10/18), Tom Hunt (11/1), Peter Duchin with Charles Michener, Brooke Hayward (11/15), and Frank McCourt (12/6).

                                                                                                                              For more information, call 1-860/626-6852.

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                                                                                                                                Greens call for independent investigation of 9/11

                                                                                                                                English (US)  September 11th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                THE GREEN PARTY is marking the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center buildings with a call for a new independent, and expanded investigation of the unanswered questions surrounding the event, and of the Bush administration’s response.

                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                In a press release issued Sunday, Green Party officials lambasted Bush for using the tragic attack that killed almost 3,000 people as an excuse for launching an “endless 'War on Terror,’ which has resulted in “an illegal preemptive military invasion, torture, and curtailment of freedoms with many of the worst Bush policies endorsed by both Democrats and Republicans.”

                                                                                                                                Green Party candidates seeking office in November’s midterm election have adopted a unified voice on the issue.

                                                                                                                                "We have a responsibility to everyone affected by 9/11 -- especially those who were injured or who lost family and friends in the attacks and in the subsequent military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq -- to launch an intensive investigation, and to hold Bush officials accountable for numerous deceptions and evasions," Rachel Treichler, Green candidate for Attorney General of New York State, said.

                                                                                                                                Treichler has pledged to launch a comprehensive investigation, if elected. For more information click here.

                                                                                                                                Howie Hawkins, New York Green candidate for the U.S. Senate, will run radio ads addressing 9/11. to view the ads, click here.

                                                                                                                                The Greens have prepared a list of unanswered questions about 9/11 and what they cite as “the administration's reckless exploitation of fears in the wake of 9/11 for its own political and military purposes to support its demand for a new probe.”

                                                                                                                                The questions include:

                                                                                                                                . Why did the Bush Administration fail to heed numerous explicit warnings of an impending attack, as the 9/11 Commission proved?

                                                                                                                                . Why did the administration attempt to obstruct the 9/11 Commission, and failing to do so, why did it restrict the Commission's purview?

                                                                                                                                . Who financed the attacks, and why did the 9/11 Commission decline to investigate this question?

                                                                                                                                . Why did the White House so quickly change the focus from al-Qaeda to Iraq, despite the fact that Iraq and Saddam Hussein had no connection to 9/11?

                                                                                                                                . Why has there been so little discussion of the role of the Project for a New American Century, whose membership included Dick Cheney, Donald
                                                                                                                                Rumsfeld, and other higher ranking members of the Bush Administration and neocon ideologues? The Project anticipated the 9/11 attacks in the late
                                                                                                                                1990s when it looked forward to a new "Pearl Harbor" that would provide an opportunity for the U.S. to impose "unquestioned U.S. military preeminence"
                                                                                                                                on the Middle East. To read the Project's document,
                                                                                                                                click here.

                                                                                                                                . Why did the administration, with the cooperation of Christine Todd Whitman's EPA, cover up severe health risks at and near Ground Zero in lower Manhattan?

                                                                                                                                . Why has the Bush Administration avoided addressing urgent questions raised by 9/11 truth movement, including groups like 911Truth?

                                                                                                                                Immediately following 9/11, the Green Party called for the attacks to be treated as a crime and to seek the cooperation of other nations to apprehend and prosecute the perpetrators.

                                                                                                                                “The Bush administration instead -- with the acquiescence of both Democrats and Republicans -- called the attacks an act of war and used 9/11 to justify two illegal military invasions, including one launched against a nation (Iraq) that the administration now admits had nothing to do with the attacks, as well as the drastic curtailment of domestic civil liberties under the USA Patriot Act and other measures,” Hawkins said.

                                                                                                                                The war in Iraq has resulted in more than a hundred thousand Iraqi civilian deaths, more than 2,600 service members killed and tens of thousands wounded; widespread destruction of Iraqi infrastructure caused by U.S. military air strikes, and a growing internal civil war in Iraq. The U.S.’s reputation was shattered in disgrace after revelations of torture at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, and other sites; and compromised U.S. security as a result of anger in the Middle East at the Bush Administration's policies in the region, Hawkins said.

                                                                                                                                "Every week brings more news about the disaster caused by the U.S. 'War on Terror' in the wake of 9/11: mounting atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan; Afghanistan's restoration as the world's top opium supplier; admission by President Bush that extraordinary rendition and secret prisons are White
                                                                                                                                House policy; legislation before Congress to legalize torture," Hawkins said.

                                                                                                                                For more information on the Green Party of the United States and its candidates for election in November, go to http://www.gp.org

                                                                                                                                For 9/11 Links:
                                                                                                                                September Eleventh Families For Peaceful Tomorrows
                                                                                                                                9/11 Citizens Watch
                                                                                                                                9/11 Visibility Project
                                                                                                                                Family Steering Committee for the 9/11 Independent Commission

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                                                                                                                                  Murphy vows to fight Bush push to privatize Social Security

                                                                                                                                  English (US)  September 10th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                  By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                  NEW BRITAIN, Conn. _ A day after President Bush told the Wall Street Journal he will renew his push to privatize the Social Security retirement program if the Republican Party keeps control of Congress in the November midterm elections, state Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy promised to fight the president's effort.

                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                  Murphy is among the “first wave” of candidates receiving strong support in the Democrats' efforts to “take back” Congress this fall. He is challenging incumbent Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson, who is seeking her 13th term in Washington.

                                                                                                                                  “President Bush knows his friends in Congress, including Nancy Johnson, are in trouble, so he says he is waiting until after the November election to take another crack at dismantling Social Security by privatizing the program. Nancy Johnson must be relieved to learn that she won’t have to carry the President’s water on privatizing Social Security before the election, as she has on so many other issues recently,” Murphy said in a prepared statement Sunday.

                                                                                                                                  “Nancy Johnson has made it clear she supports President Bush’s goal to privatize Social Security. The President’s remarks make it clear a vote for Nancy Johnson is a vote to privatize Social Security in January,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                                                  Although polls suggest the Democrats have a good chance of regaining a majority in the House of Representatives, Bush told the Wall Street Journal that he is confident the shift, “is not going to happen.”

                                                                                                                                  "I just don't believe it," he said, adding that if Republicans keep their majority, he will reintroduce his plan to privatize Social Security because he could then "drain the politics out of the issue."

                                                                                                                                  The idea of removing "politics" from speeches and issues is a theme that both Bush and his press secretary Tony Snow have repeated on various occasions recently, an ironic concept considering that the president is the nation's top politician.

                                                                                                                                  Bush had to abandon his privatization plan in 2005 not only because of opposition from Democratis but also in part because of concerns among Republicans that the unpopular plan would harm their chances of reelection this November.

                                                                                                                                  Bush’s failed plan included the creation of private investment accounts and a reduction of guaranteed benefits for future retirees. The plan would allow Wall Street investments that are subject to the vagaries of the market.

                                                                                                                                  “The push for ‘private accounts’ is the first stage in the wholesale privatization of Social Security, and Nancy Johnson has fallen in lock step with President Bush and the rest of the Republican Congress on this issue, as she has on so many others. When I get to Congress, I will fight the President’s plans to privatize Social Security. We cannot gamble with our seniors’ futures,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                                                  According to the 2004 National Taxpayers Union candidate questionnaire, Johnson supports privatizing Social Security.

                                                                                                                                  The president's remarks to the Wall Street Journal are not the first mention of his intention to revive efforts to dismantle the New Deal-era retirement program. In June, Bush was drumming up support for his efforts to privatize both Social Security and Medicare.

                                                                                                                                  “Now is the time for the Congress and the President to work together to reform Medicare and reform Social Security… If we can’t get it done this year, I’m going to try next year. And if we can’t get it done next year, I’m going to try the year after that, because it is the right thing to do...Now is the time to solve the problems of Medicare and Social Security, and I want your help… I’d like to put this on your agenda, and let you know the White House and members of the Senate and the House are anxious to deal with this issue and get it done once and for all,” Bush said in a speech to the Manhattan Institute on June 27, 2006.

                                                                                                                                  The Manhattan Institute is a right wing neo-conservative “think tank” with an agenda that “advocates privatization of sanitation services and infrastructure maintenance, deregulation in the area of environmental and consumer protection, school vouchers and cuts in governmental spending on social welfare programs,” according the publication “Buying a Movement” by People for the American Way.

                                                                                                                                  Karl Rove, Bush’s close friend and chief political strategist who was nicknamed "Bush’s Brain” after a documentary of that name, also said last May that the president was determined to get his way on Social Security.

                                                                                                                                  “I will point out that no president has made a more concerted or determined effort to reform Social Security, our nation’s largest entitlement. The president encountered enormous resistance to what were bold but practical reforms…But President Bush will continue to keep entitlement reform front and center on the nation’s political agenda,” Rove told the American Enterprise Institute on May 15.

                                                                                                                                  The American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) is “an extremely influential, pro-business right-wing think tank, and the center base for many neo-conservatives,” according to the Center for Media and Democracy.

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                                                                                                                                    Oklahoma's top conservationist steps down

                                                                                                                                    English (US)  September 9th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                    By Gale Courey Toensing / Indian Country Today

                                                                                                                                    Early retirement allegedly due to 'political retaliation'

                                                                                                                                    STILLWATER, Okla. - Oklahoma's top conservationist - a man with a sterling reputation for competency and leadership - will take an early retirement rather than accept a demotion and transfer after being tarred by an allegation of ineffectiveness by the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service.

                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                    Oklahoma's conservation community and elected officials say State Conservationist Darrel Dominick, a member of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, has been targeted for political retaliation because they probed the federal agency regarding $500 million in conservation technical assistance funding that has not been distributed to the states.

                                                                                                                                    A Natural Resources Conservation Service spokesman denied that Dominick has been the subject of a political vendetta and said all of the appropriated conservation money has been distributed for the purpose Congress intended.

                                                                                                                                    But according to a letter from another NRCS spokesman, more than $20 million of the $500 million was diverted in a supplemental bill to the Defense Department as part of a government-wide ''across-the-board'' expropriation of 1 percent of discretionary budgets. The service so far has not accounted for the remaining $480 million, Oklahoma officials said.

                                                                                                                                    Dominick is the third generation of his family to work for the USDA, a combined 91 years of service. He has a bachelor of science in agriculture and a master's degree in public administration from the Oklahoma State University, and is a senior executive fellow of Harvard University. He has worked in seven states, including Maine and New York.

                                                                                                                                    Dominick won nine performance awards since 2000 when he became the USDA's State Conservationist for Oklahoma, working with farmers, ranchers, conservation commissions and organizations on protecting and preserving the state's water, soil and wildlife resources.

                                                                                                                                    Under Dominick's leadership, the Oklahoma NRCS received four major USDA outreach awards for service to tribes and minorities.

                                                                                                                                    ''To have our legacy end like this is very hard for our family,'' Dominick said in an e-mail to Indian Country Today.

                                                                                                                                    Dominick's forced ''discontinued service retirement'' will result in a large deduction in his annuity, but he and his wife decided to remain in Oklahoma to care for his elderly father and mother-in-law and where their eldest daughter attends graduate school and youngest is a high school senior.

                                                                                                                                    ''Mobility for the family is not possible,'' Dominick said.

                                                                                                                                    He declined to discuss further details of his decision because his situation remains sensitive until after his retirement, which is effective Sept. 15.

                                                                                                                                    ''I have asked no one to speak for me or take up for me. I will continue to not expect or ask for assistance. We are going to transition and trust in the Creator. My family has been sustained by lots of prayers, friends and support. The Choctaw Nation of Okla., my big family, has been supportive. We are blessed because of this support,'' Dominick said.

                                                                                                                                    Dominick was given the choice of reassignment or retirement in a letter dated Aug. 9, from USDA Undersecretary Mark E. Rey, who said Dominick had ''failed ... to facilitate a cohesive partner relationship with your state and to provide an example to NRCS employees as to how that partner relationship should be cultivated.''

                                                                                                                                    Mike Thralls, executive director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission, said Rey's allegation ''is an absolute lie.''

                                                                                                                                    Thralls' response is typical of the firestorm of protest Rey's actions have provoked among conservationists and state officials, who deluged USDA Secretary Mike Johanns with letters, asking for Dominick to remain the state conservationist.

                                                                                                                                    ''Darrel has not only worked with the conservation district and conservation commission, but also he was really good at tearing down institutional walls that divide agencies and he was exceptional with the tribes. He really broadened the base of folks working together,'' Thralls said. Oklahoma has 38 federally recognized American Indian tribes.

                                                                                                                                    Clay Pope, Cherokee, and executive director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts, said Dominick was particularly valued in Indian country.

                                                                                                                                    ''Darrel is a native Oklahoman. State Conservationist was Darrel's dream job and he did it from his heart. Darrel is the highest ranking Native American in NRCS and may be the highest ranking in the USDA and it's something the tribes in Oklahoma are extremely concerned about, that one of their own has been a real example and role model for a lot of folks joining the government service from the American Indian community,'' Pope said.

                                                                                                                                    ''A lot of times, the fact that you're going in and you're faced with leaving your cultural ties, well, Darrel has shown you can do it and still hold on to the things you hold dear and at the same time rise up the ranks of a federal agency and achieve the things you want to, and then to have him targeted this way really causes a lot of concern,'' Pope said.

                                                                                                                                    Thralls said Dominick is being blamed for something he didn't do - probe the NRCS on the whereabouts of $500 million appropriated for conservation technical assistance that has not been distributed to the states for the past two years.

                                                                                                                                    It was the Conservation Commission, not Dominick, that discovered the missing funds and pushed for answers, Thrall said.

                                                                                                                                    The commission's accountant reviewed a six-year report of NRCS funding and discovered the figures balanced for 2000 - '04, then showed $265 million for 2005 had not been distributed to the states. In the 2006 fiscal year, the commission found a $182 million shortage as of Jan. 28, only four months into the fiscal year, Thrall said.

                                                                                                                                    In response to his inquiry, Thrall got a letter dated April 27 from Dana York on behalf of NRCS Chief Bruce Knight.

                                                                                                                                    ''First, she told me my figures were wrong, but then she admitted NRCS withheld something like $251 million in '05; then she says they withheld $245 million in '06. Then she implied that the $251 million held in '05 was just carried over to '06 and they still had it and it didn't go to any other area. I've asked for further clarification and as of yet haven't received anything,'' Thrall said.

                                                                                                                                    Meanwhile, Rep. Frank Lucas, R-3rd District, who praised Dominick for his effective leadership in the state's conservation efforts, received the same non-response from NRCS to his own inquiry.

                                                                                                                                    Later in the spring, Lucas introduced and passed an amendment to this year's agricultural bill that cut funding the undersecretary funding for natural resources' operating salary, personal salary, and travel budget.

                                                                                                                                    ''It was a pretty dramatic set of circumstances and clearly whether it's directly related or indirectly related [to Dominick's reassignment], there's been a chain of events that's gone off since then,'' Lucas said in a recorded interview with Ron Hays, editor of the online Oklahoma Farm Report. Lucas promised to address the issue ''face to face'' when he returned to Washington, D.C., after Labor Day.

                                                                                                                                    In her letter to Thrall, York said a Defense Appropriations/

                                                                                                                                    Emergency Supplemental bill cut ''$10 million in carryover funding from the Conservation Operations account'' and ''a government-wide 1 percent across-the-board cut to discretionary budget resources [that] resulted in a net decrease of $10,047,130, for a total of $20,047,130,'' York said.

                                                                                                                                    In a phone interview, NRCS Director of Legislative and Public Affairs Doug McKalip said he didn't know if the conservation funding expropriated by the Defense bill was used for the war in Iraq.

                                                                                                                                    McKalip said there were additional cuts in the conservation account, including around $120 million in 2006 for ''Congressional earmarks,'' and around $93 million in 2005 and 2006 for products and services to the NRCS charged by the Agriculture Department. He said he would get the ''detailed numbers'' on the balance of the funding from his staff.

                                                                                                                                    In an earlier interview, McKalip said questioning the whereabouts of the $500 million ''doesn't make sense to me. The funding the agency gets each year is all distributed and it goes for the purpose Congress intends if for. Without knowing the details, yes, I think that, yes, it has been distributed.''

                                                                                                                                    Indian Country Today

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                                                                                                                                      What motivated the 9/11 hijackers? See 9/11 Commission testimony not previously shown

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  September 8th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                      The testimoney in the video linked below was kept out of the 9/11 Commission report. It is the testimony most politicians didn't want you to hear.

                                                                                                                                      The 9-11 Commission held its twelfth and final public hearing June 16-17, 2004, in Washington, DC. On June 16 the Commission heard from several of the federal government's top law enforcement and intelligence experts on al Qaeda and the 9-11 plot. It was at this
                                                                                                                                      hearing that the question "What motivated them to do it?" was finally asked -- and answered by the intelligence experts who were most knowledgeable about the situation. This video shows how U.S. elected officials side step and suppress any discussion on the issue with a nervous smile and chuckle.

                                                                                                                                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J1bm2GPoFfg

                                                                                                                                      See also "Without a representative press, a representative government is impossible."

                                                                                                                                      134 words posted in Media Watch1 comment

                                                                                                                                      1 response(s) to What motivated the 9/11 hijackers? See 9/11 Commission testimony not previously shown

                                                                                                                                      1. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                        Having been in the service I believe many people that weren't in the service do not understand why the government does what it does. When it's time to know you will know> That is why there are secerts. If there were no serects every country would be tried to be overrun. We have choises of were to live and that is why we are able to read and print what we see here and other places. War is an unfortune thing of an impferect world, and we are the world. Perhaps our God whom ever you worship can make it a perfect world,,,,,someday! Then we'll know the rythms and reason behind the pass.

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                                                                                                                                      The silent transfer: "Israel says I've lived with my family long enough"

                                                                                                                                      English (US)  September 8th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                      Sam Bahour's visa extension; in the upper left-hand corner "last permit" is written in Hebrew, English, and Arabic

                                                                                                                                      Sam Bahour writing from Al-Bireh, occupied West Bank, Live from Palestine, 2 September 2006

                                                                                                                                      Well friends,

                                                                                                                                      The mighty State of Israel has spoken. Well, to be specific, the Israeli soldiers maintaining Israel's 39-year military occupation and who are fortified -- draconian style -- in an illegal settlement called Beit El (which is built on confiscated Palestinian land, partly my family's) located on a hilltop north east of my city, El-Bireh, have spoken.

                                                                                                                                      Drum roll please...

                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                      The Occupying State of Israel has decided that I have been living with my family and two daughters long enough. After being given a one month tourist visa when I entered through the Israeli border to reach the Palestinian areas (which is the only way to enter), the Israelis have responded to my request for a three month extension by saying one more month would be more than enough. Not only that, but they were kind enough to relieve me from the humiliation and agony of requesting another extension to remain with my family by hand writing, in Arabic, Hebrew and English, LAST PERMIT, on the visa.

                                                                                                                                      What does this mean? As my previous writing and that of others points out, it means I will need to bid farewell to my wife and two girls, leave home, exit Israel and attempt to reenter in order to get back to the Palestinian areas under occupation by Israel. Sounds simple enough, given I've been dancing to this routine for 13 years now.

                                                                                                                                      However, Israel has been denying entry to thousands like me, foreign nationals who do not have a Palestinian I.D. card (I applied for family unification 1994 but Israel refuses, to date, to issue me a I.D. card too). So telling me, like the many before me ever since Hamas was elected into government, to leave Palestine/Israel by not providing a serious visa extension while I'm in the country, is an off-the-radar way of silently transferring Palestinians living here out of Palestine. Of course, Israel is betting that on every family it can break this way, the remaining family members will voluntarily leave to relocate in order to join their exiled loved one(s).

                                                                                                                                      The final result of this transfer policy: a land with no people, for a people with no land. Finally, the original myth that Israel was created on can be made to come through. After creating scores of refugees by numerous wars, killing scores under occupation, deporting scores more, detaining yet scores more, making life under occupation miserable for scores more, and now by refusing to allow Palestinians that come from around the world to contribute to a better future, Israel would have finally succeeded in emptying the land from the majority of Palestinians, opening the way for more illegal settlement, land grabs and annexations.


                                                                                                                                      Areen, in seventh grade; Nareen, in first grade

                                                                                                                                      I have much more to write about this, and will, as I wage the battle to remain with my wife, with my girls, in my home, in my father's and grandfather's homeland. I will soon write an essay to make my case and that of all Palestinians prohibited from reaching their homes and families.

                                                                                                                                      If I only had the email address of the multi-lingual occupation soldier that wrote "last permit" on my visa, I would send him pictures of my two girls, Areen, 12, and Nadine, 6. I wonder if his/her children look any different on the first day of school.

                                                                                                                                      I thank all those who are assisting in this issue, especially the many Israeli friends who understand that those being DENIED ENTRY are those that have come to build bridges, not walls. We have come to invest and create a new reality - a reality that ends this racist occupation and brings a brighter future, a joint future, to both Palestinian and Israeli children.

                                                                                                                                      I end by passing to you the link to yesterday's bold article by Amria Hass, that never-tiring Israeli journalist living in Ramallah who forces us to always remember that peaceful coexistence is not a pipe dream, but rather a historical inevitability.

                                                                                                                                      Can you really not see?

                                                                                                                                      Steadfast (like never before),
                                                                                                                                      Sam

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                                                                                                                                        Genocide in Gaza

                                                                                                                                        English (US)  September 8th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                        While the mainstream media in the U.S. has completed abandoned coverage of Gaza, Israeli author and professor of political science at the University of Haifa, tells about the genocide that is underway there at the hands of the Israeli Occupation Forces, who kill an average of eight Palestinians in Gaza each day.

                                                                                                                                        By Ilan Pappe

                                                                                                                                        A GENOCIDE is taking place in Gaza. This morning, 2 September, another three citizens of Gaza were killed and a whole family wounded in Beit Hanoun. This is the morning reap, before the end of day many more will be massacred. An average of eight Palestinian die daily in the Israeli attacks on the Strip. Most of them are children. Hundreds are maimed, wounded and paralyzed.

                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                        The Israeli leadership is at lost of what to do with the Gaza Strip. It has vague ideas about the West Bank. The current government assumes that the West Bank, unlike the Strip, is an open space, at least on its eastern side. Hence if Israel, under the ingathering program of the government, annexes the parts it covets -half of the West Bank - and cleanses it of its native population, the other half would naturally lean towards Jordan, at least for a while and would not concern Israel. This is a fallacy, but nonetheless it won the enthusiastic vote of most of the Jews in the country. Such an arrangement cannot work in the Gaza enclave - Egypt unlike Jordan has succeeded in persuading the Israelis, already in 1948, that the Gaza Strip for them is a liability and will never form part of Egypt. So a million and half Palestinians are stuck inside Israel - although geographically the Strip is located on the margins of the state, psychologically it lies in its midst.

                                                                                                                                        The inhuman living conditions in the most dense area in the world, and one of the poorest human spaces in the northern hemisphere, disables the people who live it to reconcile with the imprisonment Israel had imposed on them ever since 1967. There were relative better periods where movement to the West Bank and into Israel for work was allowed, but these better times are gone. Harsher realities are in place ever since 1987. Some access to the outside world was allowed as long as there were Jewish settlers in the Strip, but once they were removed the Strip was hermetically closed. Ironically, most Israelis, according to recent polls, look at Gaza as an independent Palestinian state that Israel has graciously allowed to emerge. The leadership, and particularly the army, see it as a prison with the most dangerous community of inmates, which has to be eliminated one way or another.

                                                                                                                                        The conventional Israeli policies of ethnic cleansing employed successfully in 1948 against half of Palestine’s population, and against hundreds of thousands of Palestinians in the West Bank are not useful here. You can slowly transfer Palestinians out of the West Bank, and particular out of the Greater Jerusalem area, but you cannot do it in the Gaza Strip - once you sealed it as a maximum-security prison camp.

                                                                                                                                        As with the ethnic cleansing operations, the genocidal policy is not formulated in a vacuum. Ever since 1948, the Israeli army and government needed a pretext to commence such policies. The takeover of Palestine in 1948 produced the inevitable local resistance that in turn allowed the implementation of an ethnic cleansing policy, preplanned already in the 1930s. Twenty years of Israeli occupation of the West Bank produced eventually some sort of Palestinian resistance. This belated anti-occupation struggle unleashed a new cleansing policy that still is implemented today in the West Bank. The Gaza imprisonment in the summer of 2005, which was paraded as an Israeli generous withdrawal, produced the Hamas and Islamic Jiahd missile attack and one abduction case. Even before the abduction of Giald Shalit, the Israeli army bombarded indiscriminately the Strip. Ever since the abduction, the massive killing increased and became systematic. A daily business of slaying Palestinians, mainly children is now reported in the internal pages of the local press, quite often in microscopic fonts.

                                                                                                                                        The chief culprits are the Israeli pilots who have a field day now that one of them is the General Chief of Staff. In the 1982 Lebanon war, the Israeli airforce issued orders to its pilots to abort missions if within 500 square meters of their target they spotted innocent civilians. Not that these orders were kept, but the pretense for internal moral consumption was there. It is called in the Israeli airforce, the “Lebanon Procedure” [Nohal Levanon]. When the pilots asked a year ago if the “Lebanon procedure” is intact for Gaza, the answer was no. The same answer was given to the pilots in the second Lebanon war.

                                                                                                                                        The Lebanon war provided the fog for a while, covering the war crimes in the Gaza Strip. But the policies rage on even after the conclusion of the cease-fire up in the north. It seems that the frustrated and defeated Israeli army is even more determined to enlarge the killing fields in the Gaza Strip. There are no politicians who are able or willing to stop the generals. A daily killing of up to 10 civilians is going to leave a few thousand dead each year. This is of course different from genociding a million people in one campaign - the only inhibition Israel is willing to undertake in the name of the Holocaust memory. But if you double the killing you raise the number to horrific proportions and more importantly you may force a mass eviction in the end of the day outside the Strip - either in the name of human aid, international intervention or the people’s own desire to escape the inferno. But if the Palestinian steadfastness is going to be the response, and there is no reason to doubt that this will be the Gazan reaction then the massive killing would continue and increase.

                                                                                                                                        Much depends on the international reaction. When Israel was absolved from any responsibility or accountably for the ethnic cleansing in 1948, it turned this policy into a legitimate tool for its national security agenda. If the present escalation and adaptation of genocidal policies would be tolerated by the world, it would expand and used even more drastically.

                                                                                                                                        Nothing apart from pressure in the form of sanctions, boycotts and divestment will stop the murdering of innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip. There is nothing we here in Israel can do against it. Brave pilots refused to partake in the operations, two journalists - out of 150 - do not cease to write about it, but this is it. In the name of the holocaust memory let us hope the world would not allow the genocide of Gaza to continue.

                                                                                                                                        Ilan Pappe is senior lecturer in the University of Haifa Department of political Science and Chair of the Emil Touma Institute for Palestinian Studies in Haifa. His books include among others The Making of the Arab-Israeli Conflict (London and New York 1992), The Israel/Palestine Question (London and New York 1999), A History of Modern Palestine (Cambridge 2003), The Modern Middle East (London and New York 2005) and forthcoming, Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (2006)

                                                                                                                                        Electronic Intifada

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                                                                                                                                          Male Bass Found to Be Bearing Eggs

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  September 7th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                          A Washington Post story published Sept. 6, 2006, Male Bass Across Region Found to Be Bearing Eggs, suggests that serious water pollution is affecting the entire Potomac river basin not just the Shenandoah river tributary described in the piece below. This underscores the consequences of the Bush administration's failure to conscientiously enforce the Clean Water Act for the past six years.

                                                                                                                                          EPA Allows Dumping in Chesapeake and Shenandoah River

                                                                                                                                          It seemed like an excellent solution to a vexing problem—turning waste into fertilizer. That's the theory, anyway, behind Sheaffer International's plan to treat concentrated waste from the Cargill Meat Solutions and Pilgrim's Pride poultry processing plants and use that wastewater to irrigate cropland.

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          The reality is somewhat different. According to a suit filed by Waterkeeper Alliance, Shenandoah Riverkeeper and Potomac Riverkeeper, Sheaffer has committed a "multitude" of violations of the federal Clean Water Act, Resource Conservation and Recovery Act and numerous Virginia environmental laws by dumping excessive levels of major pollutants into the Chesapeake Bay and Shenandoah River.

                                                                                                                                          How excessive? Let us count the ways:

                                                                                                                                          *384,965 pounds of phosphorous dumped into the North Fork, which exceed federal limits by an astounding 6000 percent. (The federal limit is 7,054 pounds.)

                                                                                                                                          *Nitrogen discharges that also exceeded their permitted level by over 1000 percent.

                                                                                                                                          These violations continue to this day. State and national environmental agencies have been unable to structure meaningful remedies to what is a potentially irreversible situation. And this despite EPA's own findings that "90 percent of the [Chesapeake] Bay's waters are on the nation's 'dirty waters' list due to nitrogen and phosphorous pollution."

                                                                                                                                          Despite that finding, the EPA has painted a deceptively rosy picture of Bay restoration. Waterkeeper Alliance Executive Director, Steve Fleischli, puts it this way: "EPA has wholly abdicated its responsibility to stop even the most flagrant violators . . . [we're] stepping in for government enforcement officials who have failed to stop the pollution."
                                                                                                                                          Nitrogen and phosphorous are particularly deadly because they rob water of oxygen needed by aquatic life and vegetation, decrease water clarity and encourage the growth of algal blooms. Explains Ed Merrifield of Potomac Riverkeeper, "…the pollution loads have continued to go up, creating dead zones in our rivers…suffocating marine life."

                                                                                                                                          Indeed, Shenandoah's North Fork has seen populations of adult smallmouth bass and sunfish reduced by 80 percent in recent springs, which may explain the declining sales of fishing licenses in the seven counties bordering the river. If this trend continues, its effect may go well beyond fish kills. It will kill tourism and decrease the critical revenue stream river-centered recreational activities generate for the region and the state.

                                                                                                                                          For its part, Sheaffer says that the excessive discharges are not due to corporate misfeasance but to state regulations that have limited the amount of water that could be diverted to irrigation. "What we couldn't irrigate had to go into the river," said Jack Sheaffer, company chairman and a hydrologist. "You can't make it disappear." He added that the company is working to "implement changes" that would reduce its emissions.
                                                                                                                                          The Virginia State Department of Environmental Quality claims it has been pressing Sheaffer to correct violations. The violations have continued, despite a 2002 settlement in which the company promised to take necessary action.

                                                                                                                                          The suit filed by the three river watchdogs gives Sheaffer sixty days to show that it is cleaning up its act. Jeff Kelble of Shenandoah Riverkeepers admits that this is a "very difficult case," but as Ed Merrifield says "…we have to be here for the river itself" and stop the pollution.

                                                                                                                                          FULL STORY AT: Bush Greenwatch

                                                                                                                                          584 words posted in Environment1 comment

                                                                                                                                          1 response(s) to Male Bass Found to Be Bearing Eggs

                                                                                                                                          1. L.A. Steel [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                            Dubya says; "Yummy , man I just love them androginated Bass! Me and my dad when we catch em , we like to cook them up and sprinkle them with some special nitrogen and phosperus salt. Dick Cheney tells me those little eggs are as tasty as cavier, I haven't tried them cause I don't like cavier, but Dick says they are real special , real special,so we serve them up at state dinners at the White House . Laura and I are savin the taxpayer a lot of money that way. You know what that Russian stuff costs? Besides Pooti Poot and me ain't such great friends these days and I want to cut down on imports to help reduce the deficit. That's important. Love them Bass though, their good for you. Makes me regular and thats good for the security of the country."

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                                                                                                                                          Selectmen asked to stop placing ads in “bigoted, intolerant" Waterbury Republican-American

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  September 7th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                          By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                          WASHINGTON, Conn. _ A group of residents has asked the Board of Selectmen to stop spending public money on legal ads in the Waterbury Republican-American newspaper, because the publication promotes “bigotry and intolerance," they said.

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          In a letter dated Sept. 1 addressed to the selectmen, 13 residents said the town “unwittingly” promotes bigotry and intolerance by spending tax dollars on ads in the Waterbury paper.

                                                                                                                                          “As a town that values the diversity of its population, Washington would not logically use local tax dollars to underwrite the promotion of bigotry and
                                                                                                                                          intolerance. Yet the town, however unwittingly, does precisely that when it places legal notices in the Waterbury Republican-American, a newspaper whose editorial page routinely vilifies Washington’s gay residents,” the residents wrote.

                                                                                                                                          The letter was signed by Matthew Archer, Caitlin Bedell, Kelly Boling, Sandra Canning, Ramsay Cole, Ken Cornet, Diane DuPuis, Ethan Geto, Gael Hammer, Spencer Hardy, Joseph Lorino, Joe Mustich, Susie Payne, and Christa Ramsauer, and copied to the Town Clerk, Planning Commission, Inland Wetlands Commission, Zoning Commission, Zoning Board of Appeals, Conservation Commission, Historic District Commission, Department of Health, Board of Finance, Tax Collector, Assessor, Board of Education, and Probate Court.

                                                                                                                                          The group included copies of 40 editorials published in the Republican-American over the past two years that dealt with gay people, gay unions and gay marriage – almost two articles a month on the subject.

                                                                                                                                          “As evidenced by the enclosed editorials, the Republican-American argues with disconcerting frequency and virulence that gay people should be denied the basic rights and legal protections afforded to other Americans, and that being gay is analogous to practicing bestiality, pedophilia, and incest. Substitute the word ‘homosexual’ with ‘Jew’ or 'Negro,’ and the enclosed diatribes would fit neatly
                                                                                                                                          into a newspaper from Nazi Germany or the segregation-era American South,” the residents wrote.

                                                                                                                                          The citizens said they believe in and support free speech and the right of the Republican-American to print “even the most odious editorial positions.”

                                                                                                                                          But, they said, they also believe in the right of taxpayers to have a say in how public money is spent.

                                                                                                                                          “During its 2006 fiscal year, the Town of Washington spent more than $8,000 to publish legal notices. We do not want such expenditures to concomitantly facilitate the dissemination of bigoted rhetoric—particularly when a substantial number of Washington residents are the object of that bigotry,” the citizens wrote.

                                                                                                                                          The group asked the selectmen to adopt a “formal policy” that would prohibit spending taxpayers’ dollars in publications that “actively promote intolerance toward, or discrimination against, Washington residents because of their race, religion,
                                                                                                                                          ethnicity, national origin, gender identity, or sexual orientation.”

                                                                                                                                          The Board of Selectmen will address the letter at its monthly meeting Thursday.

                                                                                                                                          443 words posted in Media WatchLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                            Cluster bombs: See how your Senator voted

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  September 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                            The Senate has voted down an amendment to a defense bill that would have protected civilians from the death and dismemberment caued by cluster bombs.

                                                                                                                                            During discussion of the Department of Defense Appropriatons bill for fiscal year 2007, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (R-CA) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (C-VT) offered an amendment that would prevent funding to purchase or transfer cluster munitions unless the Defense Department could be certain that the weapons would not be used in or near any concentration of civilans.

                                                                                                                                            Connecticut's Democratic Senators Chris Dodd and Joe Lieberman voted against an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that would protect civilian lives by prohibiting the use of cluster bombs in or near civilian population centers.

                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                            Thousands of cluster bombs were dropped in Lebanon by Israeli Defense
                                                                                                                                            Forces in the last days of its conflict with Hezbollah. These
                                                                                                                                            unexploded cluster bombs remain a grave threat to the hundreds of
                                                                                                                                            thousands of Lebanese civilians returning home. See related stories below.

                                                                                                                                            In her speech Senator Feinstein said she joined with United Nations
                                                                                                                                            Humanitarian Coordinator for Lebanon, David Shearer, in calling on
                                                                                                                                            Israel to provide information on where the cluster bombs were used.

                                                                                                                                            Vote results
                                                                                                                                            Question: On the Amendment (Feinstein Amdt. No. 4882. The amendment was voted down 70-30. The votes grouped by position:

                                                                                                                                            YEAs-30
                                                                                                                                            Akaka (D-HI)
                                                                                                                                            Baucus (D-MT)
                                                                                                                                            Bingaman (D-NM)
                                                                                                                                            Boxer (D-CA)
                                                                                                                                            Byrd (D-WV)
                                                                                                                                            Cantwell (D-WA)
                                                                                                                                            Carper (D-DE)
                                                                                                                                            Conrad (D-ND)
                                                                                                                                            Dayton (D-MN)
                                                                                                                                            Dorgan (D-ND) Durbin (D-IL)
                                                                                                                                            Feingold (D-WI)
                                                                                                                                            Feinstein (D-CA)
                                                                                                                                            Harkin (D-IA)
                                                                                                                                            Jeffords (I-VT)
                                                                                                                                            Johnson (D-SD)
                                                                                                                                            Kennedy (D-MA)
                                                                                                                                            Kerry (D-MA)
                                                                                                                                            Kohl (D-WI)
                                                                                                                                            Leahy (D-VT) Levin (D-MI)
                                                                                                                                            Menendez (D-NJ)
                                                                                                                                            Mikulski (D-MD)
                                                                                                                                            Murray (D-WA)
                                                                                                                                            Obama (D-IL)
                                                                                                                                            Reed (D-RI)
                                                                                                                                            Reid (D-NV)
                                                                                                                                            Sarbanes (D-MD)
                                                                                                                                            Stabenow (D-MI)
                                                                                                                                            Wyden (D-OR)

                                                                                                                                            NAYs-70
                                                                                                                                            Alexander (R-TN)
                                                                                                                                            Allard (R-CO)
                                                                                                                                            Allen (R-VA)
                                                                                                                                            Bayh (D-IN)
                                                                                                                                            Bennett (R-UT)
                                                                                                                                            Biden (D-DE)
                                                                                                                                            Bond (R-MO)
                                                                                                                                            Brownback (R-KS)
                                                                                                                                            Bunning (R-KY)
                                                                                                                                            Burns (R-MT)
                                                                                                                                            Burr (R-NC)
                                                                                                                                            Chafee (R-RI)
                                                                                                                                            Chambliss (R-GA)
                                                                                                                                            Clinton (D-NY)
                                                                                                                                            Coburn (R-OK)
                                                                                                                                            Cochran (R-MS)
                                                                                                                                            Coleman (R-MN)
                                                                                                                                            Collins (R-ME)
                                                                                                                                            Cornyn (R-TX)
                                                                                                                                            Craig (R-ID)
                                                                                                                                            Crapo (R-ID)
                                                                                                                                            DeMint (R-SC)
                                                                                                                                            DeWine (R-OH)
                                                                                                                                            Dodd (D-CT)
                                                                                                                                            Dole (R-NC)
                                                                                                                                            Domenici (R-NM)
                                                                                                                                            Ensign (R-NV)
                                                                                                                                            Enzi (R-WY)
                                                                                                                                            Frist (R-TN)
                                                                                                                                            Graham (R-SC)
                                                                                                                                            Grassley (R-IA)
                                                                                                                                            Gregg (R-NH)
                                                                                                                                            Hagel (R-NE)
                                                                                                                                            Hatch (R-UT)
                                                                                                                                            Hutchison (R-TX)
                                                                                                                                            Inhofe (R-OK)
                                                                                                                                            Inouye (D-HI)
                                                                                                                                            Isakson (R-GA)
                                                                                                                                            Kyl (R-AZ)
                                                                                                                                            Landrieu (D-LA)
                                                                                                                                            Lautenberg (D-NJ)
                                                                                                                                            Lieberman (D-CT)
                                                                                                                                            Lincoln (D-AR)
                                                                                                                                            Lott (R-MS)
                                                                                                                                            Lugar (R-IN)
                                                                                                                                            Martinez (R-FL)
                                                                                                                                            McCain (R-AZ)
                                                                                                                                            McConnell (R-KY) Murkowski (R-AK)
                                                                                                                                            Nelson (D-FL)
                                                                                                                                            Nelson (D-NE)
                                                                                                                                            Pryor (D-AR)
                                                                                                                                            Roberts (R-KS)
                                                                                                                                            Rockefeller (D-WV)
                                                                                                                                            Salazar (D-CO)
                                                                                                                                            Santorum (R-PA)
                                                                                                                                            Schumer (D-NY)
                                                                                                                                            Sessions (R-AL)
                                                                                                                                            Shelby (R-AL)
                                                                                                                                            Smith (R-OR)
                                                                                                                                            Snowe (R-ME)
                                                                                                                                            Specter (R-PA)
                                                                                                                                            Stevens (R-AK)
                                                                                                                                            Sununu (R-NH)
                                                                                                                                            Talent (R-MO)
                                                                                                                                            Thomas (R-WY)
                                                                                                                                            Thune (R-SD)
                                                                                                                                            Vitter (R-LA)
                                                                                                                                            Voinovich (R-OH)
                                                                                                                                            Warner (R-VA)

                                                                                                                                            ~~~~~~~~~~
                                                                                                                                            10 years to clear the 100,000 cluster bombs in Lebanon

                                                                                                                                            Beirut- Clearing unexploded cluster bombs used by Israel in Lebanon during the month-long war, many of them U.S.-manufactured, could take 10 years, a British-based de-mining group said on Friday.
                                                                                                                                            Full story at Ya Libnan

                                                                                                                                            Pressure for Ban on Cluster Bombs as Israel Is Accused of Targeting Civilians

                                                                                                                                            By Ben Russell, The Independent
                                                                                                                                            Pressure for an international ban on cluster bombs has intensified as Israel stands accused of littering southern Lebanon with thousands of unexploded bombs in the final hours of its war against Hizbollah.
                                                                                                                                            Ya LIbnan

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                                                                                                                                              A debate about Murphy-Johnson debates: Are they on or off?

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  September 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                              By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                              A DEBATE is brewing over whether incumbent Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson has accepted an invitation for a series of debates from Democratic state Sen. Chris Murphy, who is challenging her for the Fifth Congressional District seat in November's elections.

                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                              Kristen Bossie, Murphy’s spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Murphy never received a response to a letter he sent Johnson more than a month ago, agreeing to hold nine debates on the subjects of the war in Iraq, energy policy, health care, jobs, the economy, taxes, immigration, education and the environment.

                                                                                                                                              Brian Schubert, Johnson’s spokesman, said Wednesday that there will be six debates at which “Murphy will have time to explain his reckless positions,” but did not say when or where the debates would take place.

                                                                                                                                              The debate about the debates began July 13 when Murphy sent Johnson a cordial letter inviting her to participate in “a series of concentrated, single-issue debates” during the campaign.

                                                                                                                                              “The people I have talked to feel that Congress is ignoring the issues that matter to our communities. Instead of addressing high gas prices, America’s health care crisis, or how to better honor our troops returning from service, Congress is poised to debate your leadership’s ‘values agenda.’ I believe we owe it to our constituents to debate the issues that matter to them in depth, and to let them know exactly where each of us stands on these vital issues,” Murphy wrote.

                                                                                                                                              Instead of the three- or four-minute debate format, Murphy proposed three separate one-hour debates on the war in Iraq, energy policy and health care on Sept. 7, 18, and 25 or alternate dates that fit Johnson’s schedule.

                                                                                                                                              On Aug. 4, Murphy wrote to Johnson again, saying he had not received a response to his earlier letter, but that a member of the media had given him an unsigned letter from Brian Flaherty, Johnson’s campaign manager.

                                                                                                                                              “Mr. Flaherty’s letter states that you believe that my invitation to debate these three issues is too narrow, and that we should also debate the issues of jobs, the economy, taxes, immigration, education and the environment. I agree that these, too, are important issues, and I am excited that you are willing to engage in substantive debates on all of these matters. I am also willing to debate other topics in addition to the nine suggested. . . The people of the Fifth District will be well-served by our willingness to engage in detailed, frank discussions of the issues of concern to them,” Murphy wrote.

                                                                                                                                              On Tuesday, Murphy issued a press release saying that Johnson had not responded to his Aug. 4 letter.

                                                                                                                                              “The Johnson campaign has been curiously quiet in the past month, not even responding to my request to schedule a series of issue-specific debates. When I am traveling the District, I hear time and again that people do not think that Washington is doing anything to solve the problems they are facing. With only nine weeks until the election, I want to give people in the Fifth District the opportunity to hear from me and from Nancy Johnson where we stand on the issues facing middle class families here in Connecticut,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                                                              In response to an email asking if Johnson is going to agree to debate Murphy, Schubert sent the following statement:

                                                                                                                                              "There will be six debates – six more than Murphy held when he ran for re-election in 2004. This year, Murphy will have ample opportunity to explain his reckless positions and answer: Why is there no tax he won’t raise? Why did he not call for the MoveOn attack ads to come down, or denounce the dishonest robocalls that even the New York Times and the Hartford Courant criticized? Why does he think hiking the gas tax twice is the solution to high gas prices? Why did he oppose legislation to reduce the deficit and curb federal spending? Why did he recycle legislation that has been introduced or passed in Congress as an example of his so-called “leadership” on energy? Why did he oppose legislation that would have increased the minimum wage? There are many other questions, and voters want answers to Murphy’s reckless positions and an explanation of his record."

                                                                                                                                              Schubert did not say where or when the debates would take place, nor did he explain how the agreed upon topics – the war in Iraq, energy policy, health care, jobs, the economy, taxes, immigration, education and the environment -- had morphed into a focus on the Johnson campaign’s perceptions and allegations of Murphy’s actions and intents.

                                                                                                                                              Asked to respond to Schubert's message, Bossie was puzzled.

                                                                                                                                              “What six debates is the Johnson campaign referring to? They say they have agreed to six debates, yet we did not receive a response to our letter agreeing to nine issue-specific debates.” Bossie said.

                                                                                                                                              In the press release issued Tuesday, Murphy said he is going to keep on doing what he’s doing.

                                                                                                                                              “During her month off from work in Washington, I would have thought that Nancy Johnson would have been hearing the same cry for debate that I have been hearing as I go door-to-door and go to community events. With only nine weeks until the election, I will continue to tell voters where I stand on issues important to them. Nancy Johnson appears unwilling to do so,” said Murphy.

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                                                                                                                                                Vets For Lamont Denounce Friends of Lieberman

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  September 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                By Christine Stuart

                                                                                                                                                More than a handful of veterans and supporters of U.S. senate candidate Ned Lamont gathered at the state Capitol Wednesday to ask U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman to denounce an advertising campaign that thanks him for his support on the War.

                                                                                                                                                “Today what we’re seeing is the swiftboating of Ned Lamont,” George Jepsen, chairman of the Lamont campaign said. The ad Jepsen is referring to features four Connecticut veterans thanking Lieberman for having their back while they were fighting the global war on terror.

                                                                                                                                                Full story: CT News Junkie

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                                                                                                                                                  Israeli panel picks "best" US presidential candidate -- best for Israel, that is

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  September 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                  Israeli panel: Giuliani is 'best' presidential candidate for Israel

                                                                                                                                                  By Haaretz Staff

                                                                                                                                                  Former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani is the "best" candidate in the 2008 race for Israel, a panel of eight Israeli experts assembled by Haaretz has determined.

                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                  Giuliani is followed by former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Arizona Senator John McCain and New York Senator Hillary Clinton. Ranking bottom of the list is Illinois Senator Barack Obama.

                                                                                                                                                  As part of a new project, "The Israel Factor: Ranking the presidential candidates" the panel will rank the candidates every month, up until the 2008 election, awarding them marks out of 10 on a series of questions that will determine which candidates are "best" for Israel.

                                                                                                                                                  The project is part of Rosner's Domain, and is moderated by Haaretz Chief U.S. Correspondent, Shmuel Rosner. Professor Camil Fuchs of Tel Aviv University, who is also the Haaretz pollster, is responsible for the statistical analysis of the rankings.

                                                                                                                                                  The panel also concluded that the chances of any of the candidates ordering future military action in Iran were not very high. Giuliani scored highest on this question, followed by Gingrich and McCain.

                                                                                                                                                  Clinton was the candidate the panel considered most likely to engage more vigorously in mediating a peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. She was followed by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and former presidential candidate John Kerry.

                                                                                                                                                  Haaretz

                                                                                                                                                  226 words posted in Arts, Culture & Entertainment1 comment

                                                                                                                                                  1 response(s) to Israeli panel picks "best" US presidential candidate -- best for Israel, that is

                                                                                                                                                  1. dave Becker [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                    Who might the Israelis be expected to pick? The best candidate for Greenland? Madagascar? Of course they'll pick the "best" candidate for Israel...... just like we'd pick the one we thought was best for the US..... or the French would pick the best one for France (as long as it didn't get them involved in a confrontation of course).

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                                                                                                                                                  Economic Empire Building and Domestic Decay

                                                                                                                                                  English (US)  September 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                  MEET HANK PAULSON, WASHINGTON'S NEW ECONOMIC CZAR, AND READ ALL ABOUT THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S PLAN FOR GLOBAL "ECONOMIC OCCUPATION"

                                                                                                                                                  By James Petras

                                                                                                                                                  WHILE most commentators have in recent months focused on US and Israeli militarism in the Middle East and South Asia, US capitalism is preparing for a new offensive domestically and overseas.

                                                                                                                                                  With typical aplomb and a straight face, Paulson urged Congress to “rise above partisan differences” by handing over the social security payments to Wall Street investment houses.

                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                  Three areas are targeted by the Bush Administration and its Congressional allies:
                                                                                                                                                  1) a renewed effort to privatize social security, reduce social programs such as Medicare and Medicaid while increasing individual payments, further reduce taxes on corporations and the rich and state regulatory controls over corporations, especially the Sarbanes-Oxley Law, in order to ease corporate global financial transactions, at the risk of small investors;
                                                                                                                                                  2) a big push by US multinational corporations to finance their exploitation and takeovers of ‘emerging countries’ (Third World) by capturing local savings;
                                                                                                                                                  3) a major effort to lower trade and investment barriers -- such as local subsidies and tariffs -- for US industrial, financial and other service corporations while retaining a privileged place for heavily subsidized US agro-exporters and protected US agro businesses in the domestic market.

                                                                                                                                                  The inter-relation of economic empire building -- both in terms of control over overseas markets and enterprises -- is closely linked to domestic policies. Tax cuts for the corporation and rich increase capital for export; privatized social security adds billions in profits for Wall Street investment banks; cuts in Medicare and Medicaid and increased fees and co-payments, provides greater funds to pay wealthy bondholders. The empire grows while the domestic social economy is impoverished.

                                                                                                                                                  Empire Building via Cuts in Entitlement Benefits

                                                                                                                                                  The appointment of Hank Paulson, former CEO of Goldman Sachs, the leading Wall Street investment bank, to head the US Treasury Department is a decisive move toward re-opening Wall Street’s battle to privatize the trillion dollar Social Security program.

                                                                                                                                                  With Paulson leading the cheering section, Congress ended its summer session by eliminating the estate tax (inheritance tax) for all but the wealthiest taxpayers, and extended several business tax breaks. (Financial Times, August 2, 2006) Clearly the Treasury Secretary is party to the strategy of forcing a budgetary crisis by reducing the taxes on the rich and then blaming the costs of the social security and medical programs upon which the middle and working class depend.

                                                                                                                                                  In a plea to Congress, consistent with his Wall Street loyalties, Paulson demanded that all the public social programs be ‘reformed’ to avoid a looming deficit, while defending the elimination of inheritance taxes for multi-millionaires and billionaires. Paulson emphasized that reviving Bush’s failed effort to privatize social security and reduce Medicare and Medicaid “would be his first priority.” (Financial Times, August 2, 2006 p1)

                                                                                                                                                  With typical aplomb and a straight face, Paulson urged Congress to “rise above partisan differences” by handing over the social security payments to Wall Street investment houses. In an even more bizarre move, Paulson justified his tax cuts for the rich and his increase in individual payments for retirees and poor as a problem of ‘demographics’. “Demographics don’t lie and demographics aren’t partisan. If left unchecked, these programs would significantly impair our economic flexibility and erode out competitiveness.” (FT, August 2, 2006) The problem is not ‘demographic’ -- an aging problem -- but the large-scale, long-term tax cuts which have reduced government revenue and the Government’s use of Social Security contributions to fund current deficits incurred because of the decline in inheritance, high income, capital gains and other progressive taxes. Paulson’s speech at Columbia University in early August put the privatization of Social Security “firmly back on the agenda”, claiming he had Bush’s full backing.

                                                                                                                                                  It is clear that Paulson ‘sacrificed’ his multi-million dollar salary at Goldman Sachs and put in ‘trust’ his hundreds of millions in bonuses and options, not out of civic duty, but to turn over billions of dollars of Social Security contributions to be ‘managed’ at lucrative fees by his partners and cohorts in Goldman Sachs, Citibank, JP Morgan and the rest of ‘his gang.’

                                                                                                                                                  His move to ‘reform’ entitlement payments to the poor and elderly to provide flexibility and competitiveness for big business means essentially to lower Government outlays to the middle, working and lower classes in order to further lower taxes for the corporate world and increase government subsidies for overseas traders and investors. ‘Flexibility’ in this context means potentially more room to lower corporate taxes, or to move funds from entitlements to fund payments to bondholders; it also likely means extending age requirements for retirees and increasing fees for medical care.

                                                                                                                                                  Budgetary constraints have nothing to do with ‘demographics’ and everything to do with fiscal policy. Achieving ‘economic flexibility’ can be accomplished by corporations accepting lower rates of profits, greater emphasis on public investment in a deteriorating infrastructure, big cuts in a ballooning public military spending, and above all enforcing tax collection from evasive billionaires. According to a recent study (Financial Times, August 2, 2006), “abusive tax shelters were costing the US Treasury $40-70 billion dollars a year in uncollected taxes.” If we add other tax loopholes and less ‘abusive’ tax shelters, we could easily double the above figure. One of the biggest tax dodgers uncovered by Congressional investigators is the billionaire Haim Saban, Chairman of the Los Angeles-based Saban Capital Group and major contributor to Israeli political action committees (PACs) in this country as well as numerous Jewish philanthropies. He was accused by a Congressional sub-committee of “shielding” $1.5 billion dollars from capital gains taxes ‘ad infinitum’ by using a web of fake stock deals and phony corporations on the Isle of Man” (ibid). Another billionaire tycoon, Robert Wood Johnson, heir of the Johnson and Johnson Consumer Corporation was also charged with using a securities firm to carry out fake stock sales to show losses.

                                                                                                                                                  The problem of a looming budget crunch can easily be solved by increasing Government regulation and audits of the very wealthy rather than the middle and lower third of our taxpayers. In line with his obfuscation of the revenue side of the budget, Paulson has moved to weaken the recent increase in government oversight of multi-national corporations. Paulson has moved to repeal or water down the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, which imposes tough reporting requirements for corporations. Once more citing the need “to achieve the right regulatory balance to allow us to be competitive”, Paulson is pressing Congress to return to the Enron and WorldCom era when CEOs had greater leeway in cooking the books and fleecing investors and employees. What is especially important is Paulson’s very direct and prompt intervention in response to the leaders of investment banking -- he acts exactly as one of them.

                                                                                                                                                  With Paulson as the leading economic voice and policymaker in the Bush Administration, the big push is to cut social programs, lower taxes and turn over Social Security funds in order to strengthen the expansion of US financial power overseas, both through acquisitions and mergers as well as by direct majority shares in equities.

                                                                                                                                                  Economic Imperialism: Victims Finance their own Exploitation

                                                                                                                                                  The new strategy adopted by MNCs in order to acquire overseas enterprises and to finance investments in foreign markets is by borrowing from local banks. This has several obvious advantages -- including reducing all risk by using other countries’ savings. According to the Financial Times, “Many chief executive are looking to use the rapidly maturing local capital markets in emerging countries to finance their subsidiaries. By borrowing from local savings in local currencies, the MNC can lower their dollar debt and pay local creditors with devalued currency if inflation increases and decrease “foreign exchange risks.” The biggest US financial and non-financial companies, such as Citigroup and General Electric and financial businesses as well as Volkswagen, Daimler-Chrysler and Kimberly-Clark borrow ‘locally’. By borrowing locally the MNCs free capital for acquisitions of local-public and private enterprises. MNCs on the forefront of empire building have several advantages in pursuing local financing: it reduces the parent company’s equity exposure, shifting the risk to local banks and investors; and it lowers the risk of nationalization because the subsidiary has powerful local bondholders who have clout in local governments which may be reluctant to confront them. With Paulson freeing up more capital for big business, and the latter enjoying greater freedom to borrow risk-free in the Third World, empire building has the material basis to proceed with greater flexibility and with greater competitive advantages.

                                                                                                                                                  Trade Imperialism: Collapse of Doha and the Rise of Mercantilism

                                                                                                                                                  Most of the world’s advocates of free trade blame the US for the failure of the Doha world trade talks. Apart from Washington’s rhetoric calling for a ‘global free trade’ agreement in the current ‘Doha Round,’ in practice it is pursuing a mercantilist policy of protecting non-competitive local producers and setting quotas on imports, which compete favorably with local producers. Washington subsidizes agro-export corporate ‘farmers’ and avidly pushes the rest of the world, particularly Asian, African and Latin American countries to lower tariffs in manufacturing, services and agriculture to highly competitive US corporations. The breakdown of Doha trade talks in late July 2006, was almost unanimously blamed on the US which argued that the rest of the world should lower their farm import tariffs to US agricultural products, subsidized to the tune of $19 billion in 2005. (FT, July 25, 2006 p1)

                                                                                                                                                  Even the neo-liberal Brazilian President Lula DaSilva, who shares the US position in reducing farm tariffs, blamed US intransigence on subsidies for the failure of the trade talks. Washington’s ‘trade reforms’ proposed at Doha in 2006 actually raise the ceiling for trade distorting subsidies $3.5 billion dollars over actual spending in 2005. (FT, July 24, 2006, p5) Washington’s demand to saturate Asian rice markets, African cotton markets and Latin American soya markets with heavily subsidized agricultural products thus driving millions of Third World farmers and peasants into bankruptcy dampened the spirits even of the most ardent Third World advocates of ‘free markets.’ Kamal Nath, India’s Trade Minister, pithily summed up the problem by saying, “Indian farmers con compete with US farmers but not with the US Treasury.” (FT, July 24, 2006, p5) Washington’s big trading partners in Brazil, India, China, South Africa and elsewhere have offered to lower or eliminate tariffs on manufactured goods, services (including high tech, low tech and information-based industries), financial and banking sectors, retail and wholesale commerce, pharmaceuticals and other sectors, sign on patent protection codes in exchange for the US ending its quotas and tariffs on labor-intensive industries, steel, textile and other light consumer goods industries and eliminating its multi-billion dollar agricultural subsidies. Washington has rejected a global free trade reciprocity agreement, and has instead pursued bilateral trade agreement with client regimes willing to sacrifice local farm and manufacturing producers. For example, Washington has signed bilateral free trade agreements with Chile and Peru, which are largely mineral and raw material-exporting countries; it has signed a free trade agreement with tropical fruit and coffee-exporting Central America and Colombia -- the latter a recipient of over $5 billion dollars in military aid over the past seven years. Uruguay, another likely free trade partner with Washington, is banking on selling more beef, mutton and wool and hosting more highly contaminating paper mills. Mexico is a key ‘free trade’ partner, providing a cheap labor platform for US assembly plants re-exporting to the US, and exporting over 20 million low paid ‘temporary’ workers to the US over the past decade. In addition Mexico has lowered all investment barriers to the US takeover of its banking, transport, retail trade, fast food, telecommunications and agro-export sectors and opening its markets to the massive inflow of US-subsidized agricultural products.

                                                                                                                                                  While continuing to formally pursue a global free trade agenda, Washington, in practice, is building a series of satellite bilateral trade and investment pacts that extend the US economic empire.

                                                                                                                                                  Economic and Military Modes of Empire Building

                                                                                                                                                  While world attention has focused largely on Washington’s military interventions and violent covert operations as the most visible signs of empire building, they have overlooked the far more successful domestic and overseas economic strategies designed to enhance the US economic empire. Substantial evidence exists that US Middle East policymakers did not take account of major multi-national corporate interests in launching the Afghan and Iraq Wars, and backing the Israeli invasions of Gaza and Lebanon. The predominant role of civilian militarists (predominantly Zionists and pro-Israel officials inside the government) and the multi-headed Jewish Lobby were far more active than oil, or military industrial manufacturers in designing, planning and propagandizing sequential wars against Arab and Muslim adversaries of Israel. The adverse consequences of these US proxy wars, particularly the record oil price has over time pushed the US economy toward a recession. To compensate for the economically and politically costly losses resulting from US military expansion and the negative repercussions working their way through the economy, the Bush Administration has turned away from previous industry-based Treasury Secretaries to Wall Street’s premier representative Hank Paulson. His strategy is to work within the militarist parameters imposed by the neo-conservatives and vigorously pursue a cut and slash policy on all major social policies, including the privatization of Social Security. Faced with and conforming to the policy of a huge and growing military budget and massive tax cuts for the rich, the only option for fueling US overseas economic expansion is by putting trillions of dollars of Social Security funds under Wall Street management, slashing government funded Medicare and Medicaid funds, undercutting corporate legislation facilitating imaginative accounting and overseas transfers, encouraging US overseas subsidiaries to exploit local savings and pushing neo-mercantilist bi-lateral trade agreements that allow US subsidized exporters and investors to take over client regime economies.
                                                                                                                                                  Will Paulson, Bush’s closest economic adviser, succeed in expanding the economic empire while the Pentagon and State Department wage war? There are several reasons to doubt his success. Bush’s previous effort to privatize Social Security failed. Although the vast majority of US citizens vehemently oppose privatization, Paulson will pursue a step-by-step process by which he may be able to build a ‘bipartisan’ coalition, especially as a fiscal crisis resulting from the recession may lower tax revenue and raise the decibels about doing ‘something’ (cuts) in entitlement programs. The route of bilateral trade agreements will continue but cannot expect to advance beyond overt client regimes, especially in Latin America because of mass pressure, the opposition of Venezuela and the non-reciprocal nature of US liberal trade reforms (the maintaining of US farm subsidies). If the wars in the Middle East continue to erode political support for the Bush regime, Paulson’s capacity to implement regressive social policies will decline. It is hard to imagine even the US public supporting the privatization of Social Security, cuts in Medicaid, a growing casualty rate in Iraq and Afghanistan and global diplomatic isolation for backing the Israeli war machine. One might argue that the economic empire builders will eventually displace the civilian militarists, the Israel-Firsters and re-assert a new ideological cocktail of domestic nationalism and overseas economic expansionism. This is highly unlikely under Paulson’s watch precisely because he is tied to Wall Street which is par excellence based on international movements of capital and would be deeply concerned with any variant of ‘nationalism’ which might provoke overseas imitators.

                                                                                                                                                  Whether Paulson succeeds in imposing his reactionary agenda to fuel the economic empire will largely depend on the degree of mobilization of the passive majority and the degree of popular resistance in the Middle East: together they can undercut Paulson’s capacity to create a bi-partisan empire-building coalition.

                                                                                                                                                  James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books). His latest book is, The Power of Israel in the United States(Clarity Press, 2006). He can be reached at: jpetras@binghamton.edu.

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                                                                                                                                                    The Perfect School XIV: Theory Applied: The Can-Do Spirit at HVRHS

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  September 6th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                    By John Mahoney

                                                                                                                                                    Consider these recent developments at Housatonic Valley Regional High School.

                                                                                                                                                    [More:]


                                                                                                                                                    • The Envirothon Team that represented Connecticut in competing with the other forty-nine states and the Canadian provinces finished eleventh in the competition this summer.
                                                                                                                                                    • Last May at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford a group of approximately twenty HVRHS students, participating for the first time in the ITLA (Information Technology Leadership Academy) Project, won an award for “creative use of technology.” Their project (getting emergency medical care in a timely fashion to high school students) competed with those by students from eighteen other school districts in the state, including city and suburban schools.
                                                                                                                                                    • Last spring the Housy Quiz Bowl Team finished fifth in a national competition in Washington, D.C.
                                                                                                                                                    • Also last spring the Housy Robotics Team, in preparation for the national competition in Atlanta, finished in the top five at regional competitions in Hartford and Philadelphia. They arrived in Atlanta ranked eighth out of eighty-four schools nationwide.
                                                                                                                                                    • Again in 2005-2006 Housatonic had students participate in the Maine Coast Semester run by the Chewonki Foundation. Not for sissies, this program calls for teenagers to work and to learn in an intense environment. I am told that HVRHS is the only high school with such consistent participation.

                                                                                                                                                    So what is going on here? The students involved are not from college towns, nor are they from wealthy suburban communities. How do we account for their willingness to move beyond their teenage comfort zones and take on lofty challenges? And then how do we account for their remarkable successes in high level competition?

                                                                                                                                                    Let us note that Region One students have an experience with their elementary schools that is different from most other children in Connecticut. For the first nine years of their schooling they attend the small, local elementary school. Contrast that with the more fragmented experience of school children around most of the state where the typical pattern calls for attending two or more schools during those years.

                                                                                                                                                    We know from psychologist Abraham Maslow (again, the Hierarchy of Needs) that children learn best when they feel most secure in their surroundings. The kindergarten to eighth grade experience for children in Region One takes them past feeling secure in school to feeling confident, empowered as learners. They enter the high school in an attitude of readiness to take on new opportunities.

                                                                                                                                                    And what do they encounter at the high school? A horn of plenty. Over the years the Region One Board of Education has authorized not only a comprehensive curriculum but a veritable feast of co-curricular opportunities. There is something for every one of those kids entering from those small elementary schools. Some new opportunity for each to make his/her mark in the world. And that is where Maslow comes in again. At the top of his Hierarchy is the need for self-actualization. The opportunities for self-actualization at Housatonic are abundant. Just imagine how those Envirothon kids feel about themselves. Or the Quiz Bowl kids. Or the Robotics kids.

                                                                                                                                                    As for how they are able to compete at such high levels, I have only this as a possible explanation: they are blessed with some incredible teachers, professionals who blow past the usual limits of time or money or resources or, supposedly, talent.

                                                                                                                                                    But hold on. I need to point out that there is one result of a K-8 experience that is not advantageous to our kids. Because they do not get to play on teams with peers from the other five schools until ninth grade, their development in athletic skills lags behind their competitors from the middle schools, who start playing together in seventh grade or even earlier. That is the impetus behind the creation of the new Athletics Fund for Region One. Our kids deserve to compete in athletics on a level playing field.

                                                                                                                                                    636 words posted in Education1 comment

                                                                                                                                                    1 response(s) to The Perfect School XIV: Theory Applied: The Can-Do Spirit at HVRHS

                                                                                                                                                    1. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                      I'm glad you mentioned the Robics club! In one of the last letters a person said who knows how long Robics will last to invest in the club. Well for all those wondering please pick up the Sept. issue of Forbes magizine. Frnot cover Robics, inside, pages on pages on it is here to stay and forever getting better, and explanding it's field readily. Mr. Lindsy's club MUST be funded and given the money for their own section of the old VoAg building.

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                                                                                                                                                    He did it again: Letter-writing Iranian president sends "note" to German Chancellor

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  September 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                    Full Text Of President Ahmadinejad's Letter To German Chancellor Merkel

                                                                                                                                                    TEHRAN -- Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad recently forwarded a letter to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

                                                                                                                                                    This was President Ahmadinejad's second letter to the heads of western states, considering an earlier one he wrote to the US President, George W. Bush.

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                                                                                                                                                    Unlike his first letter to Bush, President Ahmadinejad in his letter to Merkel, has touched on his country's nuclear issue, where he has stressed that Iran's decision for the acquisition of the nuclear technology is irrevocable.

                                                                                                                                                    What follows is the full text of President Ahmadinejad's letter to the German Chancellor.


                                                                                                                                                    In the Name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate
                                                                                                                                                    Her Excellency Angela Merkel
                                                                                                                                                    The Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany
                                                                                                                                                    Excellency,
                                                                                                                                                    Please accept my warmest greetings.

                                                                                                                                                    If it had not been for Germany being a great contributor to progress in science, philosophy, literature, arts and politics;

                                                                                                                                                    If it had not been for a more important and positive influence of Germany in international relations and promotion of peace;

                                                                                                                                                    Moreover, if it had not been for the persistence of a strong will by certain global powers and special groups to constantly portray Germany as defeated and indebted country of World War II in order to continue their extortions;

                                                                                                                                                    And if it had not been for the presence of Your Excellency at the top of the executive branch of your country as an experienced stateswoman with bitter and sweet experiences in two dissimilar societies with different political systems and traditions,

                                                                                                                                                    And at the same time, if it had not been for the advantages that are limited to women, such as stronger human sentiments and certain manifestations of the divine compassion and kindness, specially in the position of a mother and being at the service of the people, and the common responsibility of all people with faith in God to defend human dignity and worth and to prevent violations of their rights and their humiliation, and proceeding from this conviction that we are all created by the Almighty and He has bestowed upon us all dignity and no one has any special privileges over the other, and under no circumstances could a society be deprived of its rights, barred from pursuit of progress and perfection or be controlled or humiliated;

                                                                                                                                                    Finally, if it had not been for the oppression, however different, of our nations, our shared responsibility to promote justice as the most basic foundation for promotion of peace and human equality, I would not have found the motive to write this letter.

                                                                                                                                                    Honorable Chancellor

                                                                                                                                                    Rulers come and go, but people with culture and history and their attachments and desires will keep on staying. Opportunities in front of those in position of high power are transient, even if they may be vast and broad. These opportunities are very auspicious and can play a key role in the negative and positive transformations and developments of a nation.

                                                                                                                                                    Those in position of high power do not normally have many opportunities, but are accountable before the Almighty and people due to their high responsibility. We know this, and you know it as well.

                                                                                                                                                    Some of these developments can have regional, continental and global ramifications and can hardly be overlooked.

                                                                                                                                                    For sometime I have been thinking why some nations that their history shows they have indeed had an important and prominent share and role in material and spiritual progress of mankind in various arenas of science, arts, philosophy, literature and politics and were makers of civilization are not allowed to be proud as a nation of their historical accomplishments and play their deserved and constructive role on the global arena. They try to keep the black cloud of humiliation and shame hanging over their heads. And even more regrettably, some of the leaders of such a nation regard this situation befitting them and their nation and try to justify it. This is really an astonishing phenomenon in today's world. The propaganda machinery after World War II has been so colossal that has caused some people to believe that they are the guilty party by historical accounts and must pay the penalty fort the wrongs committed by their forefathers for successive generations and for indefinite period of time.

                                                                                                                                                    Excellency

                                                                                                                                                    World War II came to an end with all its material and moral losses and its 60 million casualties. The death of human beings is tragic and sad. In all divine religions and before all awakened conscience and pure nature of mankind and the sense of right and wrong, the life, property and honor of people, regardless of their religious persuasion and ethnic background, must be respected at all times and all places.

                                                                                                                                                    Sixty years have passed since the end of the war. But, regrettably the entire world and some nations in particular are still facing its consequences. Even now the conduct of some bullying powers and power-seeking and aggressive groups is the conduct of victors with the vanquished.

                                                                                                                                                    The extortion and blackmail continue, and people are not allowed to think about or even question the source of this extortion, otherwise they face imprisonment. When will this situation end? Sixty years, one hundred years or one thousand years, when? I am sorry to remind you that today the perpetual claimants against the great people of Germany are the bullying powers and the Zionists that founded the Al-Qods Occupying Regime with the force of bayonets in the Middle East.

                                                                                                                                                    The Honorable Chancellor

                                                                                                                                                    I have no intention of arguing about the Holocaust. But, does it not stand to reason that some victorious countries of World War II intended to create an alibi on the basis of which they could continue keeping the defeated nations of World War II indebted to them. Their purpose has been to weaken their morale and their inspiration in order to obstruct their progress and power. In addition to the people of Germany, the peoples of the Middle East have also borne the brunt of the Holocaust. By raising the necessity of settling the survivors of the Holocaust in the land of Palestine, they have created a permanent threat in the Middle East in order to rob the people of the region of the opportunities to achieve progress. The collective conscience of the world is indignant over the daily atrocities by the Zionist occupiers, destruction of homes and farms, killing of children, assassinations and bombardments.

                                                                                                                                                    Excellency, you have seen that the Zionist government does not even tolerate a government elected by the Palestinian people, and over and over again has demonstrated that it recognizes no limit in attacking the neighboring countries.

                                                                                                                                                    The question is why did the victors of the war, especially England that had apparently such a strong sense of responsibility toward the survivors of the Holocaust not allow them to settle in their territory. Why did they force them to migrate to other people's land by launching a wave of anti-Semitism? Using the excuse for the settlement of the survivors of the Holocaust, they encouraged the Jews worldwide to migrate and today a large part of the inhabitants of the occupied territories are non-European Jews. If tyranny and killing is condemned in one part of the world, can we acquiesce and go along with tyranny, killing, occupation and assassinations in another part of the world simply in order to redress the past wrongs?

                                                                                                                                                    Excellency

                                                                                                                                                    We need to ask ourselves that for what purposes the millions of dollars that the Zionists receive from the treasury of some Western countries are spent for. Are they used for the promotion of peace and the well-being of the people? Or are they used for waging war against Palestinians and the neighboring countries. Are the nuclear arsenals of Israel intended to be used in defense of the survivors of the Holocaust or as a permanent thereat against nations of the region and as an instrument of coercion, and possibly to defend the interests of certain circles of power in the Western countries.

                                                                                                                                                    Regrettably, the influence of the Zionists in the economy, media and some centers of political power has endangered interests of the European nations and has robbed them of many opportunities. The main alibi for this approach is the extortion they exact from the Holocaust.

                                                                                                                                                    One can imagine what standing some European countries could have had and what global role they could have played, if it had not been for this sixty-year old imposition.

                                                                                                                                                    I believe we both share the view that the flourishing of nations and their role are directly related to freedom and sense of pride.

                                                                                                                                                    Fortunately, with all the pressures and limitations, the great nation of Germany has been able to take great strides toward advancement and has become a major economic powerhouse in Europe that also seeks to play a more effective role in international interactions. But just imagine where Germany would be today in terms of its eminence among the freedom-loving nations, Muslims of the world and peoples of Europe, if such a situation did not exist and the governments in power in Germany had said no to the extortions by the Zionists and had not supported the greatest enemy of mankind.

                                                                                                                                                    It is sad to admit that Europe has lost a lot of its clout in global interactions and has not been able to face and overcome major challenges by relying on itself. This is, of course, understandable. The big powers outside of the continent intend to prove that Europe cannot rely on itself and do anything without their help and intervention.

                                                                                                                                                    Our people have also suffered from the interventions by some of the victors of the war after World War II. For many years they interfered in our internal affairs and did not want to see our nation conquer the pinnacles of progress and perfection. They had their eyes on our natural wealth, above all on our energy resources. To secure their own interests, they overthrew the legally constituted government of the time, installed a dictatorial regime and supported it to the end. Later, they supported Saddam in the war imposed on our people and observed no humanitarian boundary in their support for the Iraqi dictator. Our nation has experienced the pain and anguish from the interferences of those who are now crying out for human rights. There are still many suffering from the wounds and injuries of this war.

                                                                                                                                                    Many of these aggressions have taken place by those who regard themselves the victors of the World War II. They allow themselves to do whatever they wish, and unfortunately, after the end of the Cold War, the arrogance and expansionist ambitions of these powers have escalated.

                                                                                                                                                    We believe that still a major part of the peoples of the world and even international organizations are under the influence of the behavior and the conduct of the victors of the World War II.

                                                                                                                                                    I explained the position of the people and government of the Islamic Republic of Iran at the United Nations General Assembly. Is the present state of affairs such as the rules governing the work of the Security Council, especially the right to veto, fair?

                                                                                                                                                    Do you not think that the time has come to change these rules in cooperation with independent governments? These rules are by no means acceptable to the collective conscience of nations and are contrary to the sense of reason and human nature. At least, if we want to be fairer, some other countries of the world should be allowed to benefit from the right to veto.

                                                                                                                                                    Madam Chancellor

                                                                                                                                                    You are familiar with the pains and sufferings currently afflicting our world. Today, the pain and suffering of the people of Iraq that come from occupation, absence of security and daily acts of terrorism are tormenting the entire humanity. Relentless interferences of some bullying powers in the internal affairs of other nations, antagonism toward the inalienable rights of nations to have access to more advanced technologies, subjecting nations to permanent threats by relying on arsenals of chemical and nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction, opposition to popular governments in Latin America, supporting coup d'état and dictatorial regimes, absence of due attention to Africa and taking advantage of the power vacuum there to plunder their wealth are among the problems facing our world today. In my letter to President Bush, I spelled out a long list of contemporary global problems.

                                                                                                                                                    Where are the roots of these problems? How long can they continue? Do you not think that the main root lies in the fact that some of the rulers and powers of today have distanced themselves from the teachings of the divine prophets, the teachings of Abraham, Moses and Jesus Christ (peace be upon him) and the Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

                                                                                                                                                    These teachings are in all divine religions that you and I believe:

                                                                                                                                                    · God is the creator of all things and beings. We have all been created free and He has not allowed us to be the servant of anyone other than Him.

                                                                                                                                                    · He has commanded us to worship Him and to avoid all oppressors and tyrants.

                                                                                                                                                    · He has commanded us to be virtuous, to be good to and serve the people, and has directed us to be kind to and defend the oppressed and fight the oppressors.

                                                                                                                                                    · God has given humans dignity and scorns their humiliation.

                                                                                                                                                    · He has sent his messengers with clear reasons, the Book and a balance and has called on his servants to promote justice.

                                                                                                                                                    Based on these shared principles and foundations of our faith, we believe:

                                                                                                                                                    · Peace and tranquility can only be established and endure on the basis of faith in God and justice.

                                                                                                                                                    · Peace and dignity are the rights of all nations.

                                                                                                                                                    · Pursuit of progress and better livelihood combined with spirituality, compassion and well-being is the right of people.

                                                                                                                                                    · You and we can found a new movement to achieve these noble human ideals by relying on these principles and the articles of faith that are common to all divine religions.

                                                                                                                                                    Our nations believe and are committed to these pillars of faith. The history has shown that the people of Iran are not familiar with aggressing and brutalizing other nations. Nevertheless, we do not allow being the subject and victim of aggression and brutality. The experience of the eight-year war clearly demonstrated this fact to the whole world.

                                                                                                                                                    I believe we and you have both been the subject of tyranny. They do not respect your rights and want us also to forego our rights. Fortunately, I have heard that you also speak your mind openly and are against engendering tension and wars.

                                                                                                                                                    Honorable Chancellor,

                                                                                                                                                    The inner instincts and nature of the peoples of the world have wakened up.

                                                                                                                                                    Tendency toward faith in the oneness of God is on the rise.

                                                                                                                                                    People will no longer tolerate to be tyrannized, humiliated and their rights violated.

                                                                                                                                                    The prevailing circumstances today differ from those of yesterday. Multiple standards and approaches in relations will not endure.

                                                                                                                                                    Iran and Germany can play a more important role together in the international arena by relying on the noble and high values.

                                                                                                                                                    This cooperative relationship can also enhance the role of Europe on the global scene and serve as a model of cooperation between two governments and nations.

                                                                                                                                                    Without doubt, cooperation of two peace-loving, powerful and cultured nations of Germany and Iran will serve the interests of Europe as well. Together we must end the present abnormalities in international relations, the type of order and relations that are based on the impositions of the victors of the World War II on the defeated nations. Nations and many governments will be on our side on this path.

                                                                                                                                                    We must make the shadow of World War II disappear and help the international community to promote security, freedom and sense of tranquility.

                                                                                                                                                    The people of Iran and Germany are two great nations that have contributed to the making of our civilization. They have rich culture and have been in the forefront of science, literature, arts and philosophy. Both of our people have a strong faith in God and follow the teachings of divine prophets. They have also had long-lasting scientific, cultural and commercial relations and share many valuable mutual interests.

                                                                                                                                                    I have no doubt that with the cooperation of the two governments and the support of the two great nations we can take great strides forward in alleviating the problems and abnormalities of our world today.

                                                                                                                                                    Daring and courageous decisions are the key to our success in overcoming the existing problems, countering the violations of rights and defending the rights of nations.

                                                                                                                                                    To the extent that I know of the people of Germany, they will come along and join us and want restore their dignity and influence for the sake of global peace and calm. Our people have the similar spirit.

                                                                                                                                                    Together we will be able to prove to some powers that respecting other nations and their rights is good for them as well. Our two nations and governments, next to each other, will be able to play a fundamental role in promoting peace, security, progress, and human dignity at the scale of two countries and internationally.

                                                                                                                                                    In closing, I pray to the Almighty for the success of Your Excellency and the government and people of Germany.
                                                                                                                                                    Source: www.farsnews.ir

                                                                                                                                                    2867 words posted in Politics, World2 comments

                                                                                                                                                    2 response(s) to He did it again: Letter-writing Iranian president sends "note" to German Chancellor

                                                                                                                                                    1. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                      Were is the word this lieing sack of crap uses that it is to lie as long as the Muslims get ahead? He will and as he believs will sign anything of treathy but revite on it as long as the eradical muslums can get ahead. He is to talk at Havard and how the hell is this Satun (*devil) person aloud in this country? Assasinate him!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!He's lower than whale dun at the bottom of the sea. He trives under it and eats upon it!!!!!!!!!God Bless the U.S.A. Radicals of any cult or religion are not needed!!!!!!!!!!

                                                                                                                                                    2. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                      The word I don't see has 2 YY's in it and was pointed out on the late night news with David Beck CNN. These idiots recently put a women in a hole, filled it up with sand to her neck, and then stoned her to death, and the rules of the game are to use stones not to small, and not to big because the big ones will kill her to soon. Hopfully someone will set their cross-hairs upon the forhead of this devil!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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                                                                                                                                                    Clean Air. Clean Water. Clean Government

                                                                                                                                                    English (US)  September 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                    By Christine Stuart


                                                                                                                                                    Nancy Burton, Green Party candidate for attorney general. Christine Stuart photo.

                                                                                                                                                    Nancy Burton, the Green Party’s candidate for Attorney General and environmental advocate said Tuesday that Attorney General Richard Blumenthal’s stand on the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant has not gone far enough.

                                                                                                                                                    She said while Blumenthal has intervened or has been a party in most lawsuits against Millstone, he has yet to shut down it’s operation.

                                                                                                                                                    Full story at: Ct News Junkie

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                                                                                                                                                      Ice shows greenhouse gas soaring

                                                                                                                                                      English (US)  September 5th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                      Scientists say more must be done to stop CO2 levels rising

                                                                                                                                                      Air samples from the world's oldest ice core confirm that human activity has dramatically increased levels of the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide in the earth's atmosphere.

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                      Bubbles of air in the 800,000-year-old ice, drilled in the Antarctic, show levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) changing with the climate. But the present levels are out of the previous range.

                                                                                                                                                      On Monday, Eric Wolff, leader of the science team for the European Project for Ice Coring in Antarctica, said: "It is from air bubbles that we know for sure that carbon dioxide has increased by about 35% in the last 200 years."

                                                                                                                                                      Wolff, speaking at the British Association Festival of Science in the UK, said: "Before the last 200 years, which man has been influencing, it was pretty steady.

                                                                                                                                                      "The natural level of carbon dioxide for most of the past 800,000 years has been 180-300 parts per million by volume (ppmv) of air. But today it is at 380 ppmv.

                                                                                                                                                      "The most scary thing is that carbon dioxide today is not just out of the range of what happened in the last 650,000 years but already 100% out of the range."

                                                                                                                                                      Climate impact

                                                                                                                                                      Carbon dioxide was at levels of 280 ppmv from 1000 CE until 1800 CE, before accelerating towards its present concentration.

                                                                                                                                                      "There is an urgent need to find innovative technologies to reduce the impact we are having on our climate" -- Professor Peter Smith, University of Nottingham, UK


                                                                                                                                                      Wolff added that measurements of carbon isotopes indicated that the extra carbon dioxide is coming from a fossil source, due to increased human activity.

                                                                                                                                                      The ice core record showed that it used to take about 1,000 years for a carbon dioxide increase of 30 ppmv.

                                                                                                                                                      It has risen by that much in the past 17 years alone.

                                                                                                                                                      "We really are in a situation where something is happening that we don't have any analogue for in our records. It is an experiment that we don't know the result of," he said.

                                                                                                                                                      Peter Smith, of the University of Nottingham in England, said the study showed that more is needed to be done to combat the rising levels.

                                                                                                                                                      "There is an urgent need to find innovative technologies to reduce the impact we are having on our climate," he told the science conference.
                                                                                                                                                      English Al Jazeera

                                                                                                                                                      375 words posted in Environment, WorldLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                        Robert Fisk: 'America's aggression is fuelling extremism', says Iran's ex-president

                                                                                                                                                        English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                        By Robert Fisk in Chicago

                                                                                                                                                        As the West's "war on terror" burns across the Muslim world, one of Islam's most principled leaders - the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami - issued a grave warning yesterday from the very heart of America, the country whose troops and allies are fighting Islamists across the Middle East in a war that is costing thousands of Muslim lives.

                                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                                        "The policies of the neo-conservatives have created a war that creates more extremists and radicals," he told The Independent in Chicago. "The events of 9/11 gave them this ability to create fear and anxiety ... and to create new policies of their own and now events are creating an expansion of extremists on both sides. A struggle is under way to dominate this world multilaterally ... We are a witness to war - with suppression from one side and extremist reaction in the form of terror from the other."

                                                                                                                                                        Mr Khatami might appear an improbable figure in the breakfast room of one of Chicago's smartest hotels, dressed in his black turban and long gown, his spectacles giving him the appearance of a university don - which he once was - rather than the seer of Iran, a man whose demands for a civil society and democracy at home were overwhelmed by the ascetic clerics who surround the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Yet he is enormously important in the Sunni as well as the Shia Muslim worlds as a philosopher-scholar, which is probably why the Bush administration gave him a visa, and his message was the sharpest he has ever delivered to the Muslim world and the secular West.

                                                                                                                                                        The former president said: "We have to find ways to confront these people on both sides. We need public opinion to be influenced ... And now the neo-conservative policies have created this sort of war."

                                                                                                                                                        But Mr Khatami, who defended Iran's role in the nuclear crisis between the West and Tehran - he asked why Israel was allowed nuclear weapons while refusing to sign the nuclear non-proliferation pact - did not spare the perpetrators of what he called "the inhumane terrorist attacks" of 11 September 2001. "I was one of the first officials to condemn this barbaric act ... this inferno would only intensify extremism and one-sidedness and would have no outcome except to retard justice and intellect and sacrifice righteousness and humanity," he said.

                                                                                                                                                        Addressing 15,000 American Muslims at the weekend, Mr Khatami also made a clear assault on the influence of Israel's political lobby in the US. "We are unfortunately witnessing the emergence of policies that seek to confiscate public opinion in order to exploit all the grandeur of the nation and country of the United States ... policies that are the outcome of a point of view, that despite having no status in the US public arena as far as numbers are concerned, uses decisive lobby groups and influential centres to utilise the entirety of America's power and wealth to promote its own interest and to implant policies outside US borders that have no resemblance to the spirit of Anglo-American civilisation and the aspirations of its Founding Fathers or its constitution, causing crisis after crisis in our world."

                                                                                                                                                        When he spoke of "the vast and all-encompassing presence of powers who express concern for the world but implement policies aimed at devouring the world," there was a sense of shock among his audience. They had not expected such an epic denunciation of US hegemony from a divine known for his compassion rather than his anger.

                                                                                                                                                        "Any popular or democratic change or transformation that is outside the realm of their influence is not acceptable," he said, "for they find it far more convenient to deal with non-nationalistic and non-popular trends and regimes rather than popular ones, who naturally tend to care about the welfare and the physical interests of their people."

                                                                                                                                                        Thus did Mr Khatami dispose of America's cry for "democracy" in the "new" Middle East.

                                                                                                                                                        Needless to say, his words were given scarcely a few seconds on America's major news channels. Mr Khatami's wisdom is not wanted in Washington.

                                                                                                                                                        As the West's "war on terror" burns across the Muslim world, one of Islam's most principled leaders - the former Iranian president Mohammad Khatami - issued a grave warning yesterday from the very heart of America, the country whose troops and allies are fighting Islamists across the Middle East in a war that is costing thousands of Muslim lives.

                                                                                                                                                        "The policies of the neo-conservatives have created a war that creates more extremists and radicals," he told The Independent in Chicago. "The events of 9/11 gave them this ability to create fear and anxiety ... and to create new policies of their own and now events are creating an expansion of extremists on both sides. A struggle is under way to dominate this world multilaterally ... We are a witness to war - with suppression from one side and extremist reaction in the form of terror from the other."

                                                                                                                                                        Mr Khatami might appear an improbable figure in the breakfast room of one of Chicago's smartest hotels, dressed in his black turban and long gown, his spectacles giving him t+he appearance of a university don - which he once was - rather than the seer of Iran, a man whose demands for a civil society and democracy at home were overwhelmed by the ascetic clerics who surround the Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei. Yet he is enormously important in the Sunni as well as the Shia Muslim worlds as a philosopher-scholar, which is probably why the Bush administration gave him a visa, and his message was the sharpest he has ever delivered to the Muslim world and the secular West.

                                                                                                                                                        The former president said: "We have to find ways to confront these people on both sides. We need public opinion to be influenced ... And now the neo-conservative policies have created this sort of war."

                                                                                                                                                        But Mr Khatami, who defended Iran's role in the nuclear crisis between the West and Tehran - he asked why Israel was allowed nuclear weapons while refusing to sign the nuclear non-proliferation pact - did not spare the perpetrators of what he called "the inhumane terrorist attacks" of 11 September 2001. "I was one of the first officials to condemn this barbaric act ... this inferno would only intensify extremism and one-sidedness and would have no outcome except to retard justice and intellect and sacrifice righteousness and humanity," he said.

                                                                                                                                                        Addressing 15,000 American Muslims at the weekend, Mr Khatami also made a clear assault on the influence of Israel's political lobby in the US. "We are unfortunately witnessing the emergence of policies that seek to confiscate public opinion in order to exploit all the grandeur of the nation and country of the United States ... policies that are the outcome of a point of view, that despite having no status in the US public arena as far as numbers are concerned, uses decisive lobby groups and influential centres to utilise the entirety of America's power and wealth to promote its own interest and to implant policies outside US borders that have no resemblance to the spirit of Anglo-American civilisation and the aspirations of its Founding Fathers or its constitution, causing crisis after crisis in our world."

                                                                                                                                                        When he spoke of "the vast and all-encompassing presence of powers who express concern for the world but implement policies aimed at devouring the world," there was a sense of shock among his audience. They had not expected such an epic denunciation of US hegemony from a divine known for his compassion rather than his anger.

                                                                                                                                                        "Any popular or democratic change or transformation that is outside the realm of their influence is not acceptable," he said, "for they find it far more convenient to deal with non-nationalistic and non-popular trends and regimes rather than popular ones, who naturally tend to care about the welfare and the physical interests of their people."

                                                                                                                                                        Thus did Mr Khatami dispose of America's cry for "democracy" in the "new" Middle East.

                                                                                                                                                        Needless to say, his words were given scarcely a few seconds on America's major news channels. Mr Khatami's wisdom is not wanted in Washington.

                                                                                                                                                        Independent

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                                                                                                                                                          Ralph Nader at the Gunn Thursday

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                          WASHINGTON, Conn. _ Ralph Nader, consumer advocate, former presidential candidate, and the ultimate public citizen, will appear at the Gunn Memorial Library in Washington, Conn. on Thursday, Sept. 7, at 7 p.m.

                                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                                          Nader will deliver a talk called "Political Failures and Injustices: Time for Accountability from Washington, D.C., to Connecticut."

                                                                                                                                                          Nader will be signing and selling his book, "The Good Fight." In addition, purchasers of "The Good Fight" will receive a copy of "Cruel and Unusual" by Mark Crispin Miller, a professor of media studies at New York University. Miller's book is about Pres. George Bush's misunderstanding of the Constitution, its checks and balances, and the nature and scope of executive authority.

                                                                                                                                                          Nader's talk and book signing are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served.

                                                                                                                                                          The Gunn Memorial Library & Historical Museum is located at 5 Wykeham Rd @ Rte 47 in Washington, CT 06793. The library web site is www.gunnlibrary.org.

                                                                                                                                                          For more information, contact Joe Mustich, Gunn Program Committee Volunteer, at 860-868-7355.

                                                                                                                                                          162 words posted in General NewsLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                            Views from the West Bank on CATV6.com

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                            'Views from the West Bank" is a new L.A. Steel television show airing this week 9/4/06 thru 9/8/06. The program was created in two parts to be seen in its entirety on CATV6.com and Channel 6 in the North Western Connecticut Comcast area.

                                                                                                                                                            More info at: LA Steel Show

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                                                                                                                                                              Just Try to Imagine

                                                                                                                                                              English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                              Twilight Zone / Deadly diaries

                                                                                                                                                              By Gideon Levy

                                                                                                                                                              Shifa Hospital in Gaza, the fourth floor. Two brothers. Their parents and siblings were all killed while they were sleeping. Only the brothers were saved from the inferno caused by two missiles dropped by a plane on their house in the middle of the night. Awad, 19, is seriously injured; Mohammed, 20, uninjured, tends him. Their parents and all seven of their younger siblings, including a disabled sister, were killed. Just try to imagine.

                                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                                              The signs of shock and grief are obvious on the two orphaned brothers. They stare at the floor, speak very softly; their faces are pale and lifeless, even six weeks after that bloody night. On the wall of the hospital room they've taped a picture of their father, taken with Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.

                                                                                                                                                              Dr. Nabil Abu Salmiya was a lecturer in mathematics at the Islamic University in Gaza and a Hamas activist. The wanted man Mohammed Deif visited the family's home in the middle of the night - and the air force bombed it. Deif was wounded, but survived. A family was almost entirely wiped out. This was on the day that the war broke out in Lebanon; no one paid any attention to the killing in the south.

                                                                                                                                                              The wounded and the dead continue to arrive at Shifa. This week, ambulance after ambulance pulled up, carrying the victims of Israel Defense Forces' actions - this time in the Sajiyeh quarter of Gaza City - followed by distraught family members. The atmosphere was bleak and threatening, with dozens of armed Hamas soldiers in their blue camouflage uniforms securing the place, Kalashnikovs cocked, on the surrounding roofs, in the hospital yard and corridors. Relatives of the injured lay on the floors of the rooms. The only hospital in Gaza is full to bursting.

                                                                                                                                                              A stench permeates the city streets. The garbage hasn't been collected for many days, due to a strike by municipal employees who haven't received their wages for months. The smell filters into the hospital. The electricity only works for a few hours a day, since the air force bombed the only power station in the Gaza Strip; the heat is oppressive. The elevator is either stuck or barely moves.

                                                                                                                                                              Awad Abu Salmiya lies with both legs in bandages in a bed by the window. A faint breeze from the sea offers the only bit of relief.

                                                                                                                                                              Not far away, in Beit Lahia, Ahmed al-Attar, 17, sits in a wheelchair. His father pleads with Israel and the world for someone to see that his son gets prosthetic legs. Ahmed was injured when the air force fired a missile that hit the mule-drawn wagon in which he was riding with his mother and nephew. They were on the way to pick figs from the family plot near the sea. His mother and the other boy were killed outright; Ahmed lost both legs.

                                                                                                                                                              This also happened in the course of Operation Summer Rains, whose end appears to be nowhere in sight; no one in Israel seems very interested in it. Meanwhile, the IDF goes on killing - nine members of the Abu Salmiya family, two members of the Al-Attar family. Together, they're 11 out of 212 people who were killed, including 50 children and teenagers, between the abduction of Gilad Shalit at the end of June, and the end of August.

                                                                                                                                                              An empty lot in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood. A two-story house used to stand here. Unlike other places, all the rubble here has already been cleared away. The back part of the house was completely destroyed; the front was left tilting on its side. Two missiles. Mohammed and Awad were sleeping in the front of the house, which faced the street. The rest of the family was asleep in the back and was killed. Perhaps only the father was still awake, together with Deif. No one knows. No one will say. It was 3 A.M. Neighbor Ibrahim Samur had gone with Dr. Abu Salmiya to the mosque that evening to pray, and afterward they'd chatted a little in front of the house. They parted at nine. No one saw Deif, of course. In the middle of the night the neighbors were awakened by a tremendous explosion, followed immediately by another one. They say the blast shook them out of their beds. The houses are that close to one another.

                                                                                                                                                              In a rented office on the ground floor of the house next door, which serves as a public court for settling conflicts in the neighborhood, a picture of Abdel Aziz al-Rantisi hangs on the wall; a water cooler with Israeli-brand Eden spring water sits below it. Here, Abdullah Samur, an 18-year-old, describes what happened that night at the neighbors' house. The children crowding about outside are all wearing T-shirts from the Hamas summer camp. One wears a shirt bearing the likeness of the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin.

                                                                                                                                                              Abdullah went to sleep at midnight that night and woke up at 3 A.M. to the noise of a plane overhead. He lives on the third floor. It was July 12, a few hours before the outbreak of the war in Lebanon. The boom jolted him out of his bed. The windows shattered and the doors came off their hinges. Smoke filled his house from the fire that broke out next door, and his parents yelled for the children to flee.

                                                                                                                                                              Outside, Abdullah saw the destroyed house next door and the smoke coming from it. He knew the neighbors well. Nabil and his wife Salwa and all the kids he grew up with - Nasser, 6, Aya, 7, Uda, 8, Iman, 11, Yihyeh, 13, and Basma, 15.

                                                                                                                                                              And there was Sumiya, too, a disabled 12-year-old, who used to get picked up by a special car that took her to school. She was also killed. Abdullah had been with Awad and Mohammed that afternoon - the only ones who survived. That night Abdullah helped his father extricate the bodies. They found Awad rolled up inside a carpet. And Mohammed Deif? "I don't know him at all," the neighbor says.

                                                                                                                                                              The Israeli papers reported that the wounded Deif was pulled from the wreckage and rushed to Shifa. According to the reports, the rescue vehicle was also hit by a missile from the air.

                                                                                                                                                              Abdullah's uncle, Ibrahim Samur, also says he's never seen Deif and has no idea what he looks like. Ibrahim lives on the second floor. His 3-year-old son, Mutaz, was lightly wounded by shrapnel, and so was his wife. He rushed them to Shifa while his neighbors' house continued to burn. Since then, all the children have been sleeping in their parents' room. Mutaz cries when he hears a plane.

                                                                                                                                                              "He was a good person," Ibrahim says about his neighbor, Abu Salmiya. "He was active in Hamas, but not in its military wing. He was a teacher who helped his poor neighbors." Ibrahim recalls that in their last conversation, on the way back from the mosque, they didn't talk about politics, Abu Salmiya didn't mention any meeting he was supposed to have during the night.

                                                                                                                                                              The IDF Spokesman's comment: "In a joint operation of the IDF and the Shin Bet security service, an attack on a house in the northern Gaza Strip was carried out in the early hours of July 12. The house served as a hideout for senior activists in the military wing of Hamas, who planned and carried out acts of terror and the firing of Qassam rockets. At the time of the strike on the house, those present were involved in planning the continued military activity of Hamas. One of those present was Mohammed Deif, who sustained wounds of unknown severity."

                                                                                                                                                              The unpaved street is now named for Nabil Abu Salmiya. Before we say good-bye to head over to the hospital and see the two surviving brothers, Ibrahim mentions a name: Nissim Mizrahi. Nissim Mizrahi from the bankrupt Rosh Indiani clothing business, who left Ibrahim - who ran a sewing workshop that has since closed down - with a debt of NIS 130,000.

                                                                                                                                                              Ahmed al-Attar sits in a wheelchair. The stumps of his legs are still bandaged. The pain bothers him and he presses on them to find some relief. On July 24, Ahmed and his mother and nephew set out, as they did every day, to the family plot near the sea, to pick some figs. It was around 3 P.M.; they proceeded slowly in their mule-drawn wagon.

                                                                                                                                                              "Suddenly we got hit by a missile," he recalls. "After that I didn't see anything. I woke up in the hospital and they told me that my mother and Nadi were killed and that my legs were amputated."

                                                                                                                                                              After three days in Shifa, he was transferred to Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv, but they couldn't save his legs there either. He also suffered burns on his head and other parts of his body, and these wounds are still bandaged. Ahmed is a 12th-grader who, two months before the tragedy, married a 16-year-old named Zeina. His mother, Hiriya, was 58; his nephew, Nadi - his mother's grandson - was 12. Ahmed heard that Nadi was thrown dozens of meters from the wagon, and that his mother's body was torn to pieces as a result of the direct hit.

                                                                                                                                                              The IDF Spokesman: "On the morning of July 24, two Qassam rocket launchings were identified as originating next to the Agricultural College in Beit Hanun. The two rockets were fired at Sderot, and one landed next to a school in the city. Later that same day, IDF forces identified two terrorists, who arrived at that location and loaded the launchers on a mule-drawn wagon. The IDF fired accurately at the point where the terrorists were and at the wagon with the launchers, and verified a hit. At the time of the firing, an older woman and her grandson were not seen in the wagon. In the event that they were riding in the same wagon, then it was the terror organizations that are the ones who took no pity on their lives, and engaged in terror activity directed at Israeli civilians under the cover of noncombatants, exploiting them as a human shield."

                                                                                                                                                              Hiriya left nine children and some 50 grandchildren. She was a peddler in the Jabalya market, where she sold figs, grapes and strawberries, and cheese that she made herself. On the wall in the Beit Lahia home hangs a picture of a cousin, Mohammed, 23, who was killed by an IDF bullet while standing at the window of his home, exactly three weeks before the grandmother and grandson were killed.

                                                                                                                                                              In the memorial picture of Nadi that hangs in the street, one sees the boy's face and that of the killed leader of the Popular Front, Abu Ali Mustafa, in the background. Why the Popular Front? "Because they supplied the family with food during the four days of mourning," Ahmed's father, also named Nadi, explains. Instead of a picture of Hiriya, there is a poster with a drawing of a red rose. Here, pictures of women are not displayed, even after their death. They won't show us a picture of Ahmed from his wedding either, so that we won't see his young bride.

                                                                                                                                                              Nadi heard about the tragedy on the radio, when he was in the city. This morning he went back to fishing for the first time, but since 5 A.M. he hadn't caught anything. Someone brings a picture from the scene of the tragedy: a dead mule. The photo is on the cover of the weekly report, No. 29, of the Palestinian Center for Human Rights in Gaza, 2006. In the background an ambulance is visible. The mule lies on the sand, at the foot of the wrecked wagon. A direct hit.
                                                                                                                                                              Haaretz

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                                                                                                                                                                MEDIA: When assumption trumps objectivity

                                                                                                                                                                English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                                In this editorial, Habib Battah, the managing editor of the Journal of Middle East Broadcasters, provides a detailed analysis of the American media's reporting on Israeli's recent bombings in Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                                                By Habib Battah

                                                                                                                                                                After four weeks of devastating Israeli air raids across Lebanon, American news network NBC began its Nightly News bulletin with its anchorman, Brian Williams, asking: "Does the US really have any influence in this war?"

                                                                                                                                                                On several occasions, Israeli officials interviewed by American broadcasters touted Israel’s policy of restraint and gave warning of the country’s ability to pursue a "scorched earth policy" in Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                                                Interviewers often accepted such a response either by ending the interview at that point or moving on to different questions. One can hardly imagine an American interviewer remaining silent if an Arab official spoke of flattening the Jewish state in such genocidal terms.

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                                                                                                                                                                Hours earlier on sister network MSNBC, anchorwoman Chris Jansing seemed to be at a similar loss. "Can anything be done to stop the violence?" she asked.

                                                                                                                                                                But to an American audience, the thought of a Syrian or Iranian news anchor posing the same questions would be fit for a comedy skit.

                                                                                                                                                                After all, the Syrians and Iranians wield an obvious "influence" over the course of the conflict according to the NBC channels, which like CNN, Sky and many other Western new organisations reported relentlessly on claims that Hezbollah’s rocket imports were made possible through the help of its two "rogue" allies.

                                                                                                                                                                But where was the parallel analysis of multi-billion dollar weapons shipments bound for Israel from the United States? Most Western broadcasters reported religiously on the number of rockets fired at Israel each day of the month-long conflict, often comparing fresh figures with those of previous days and weeks, even peppering the audit with analysis and commentary.

                                                                                                                                                                Absent however was almost any accounting of the daily tonnage of US-manufactured munitions dropped from an unknown fleet of US-manufactured jets levelling an untold number of Lebanese homes and villages.

                                                                                                                                                                Sanitised

                                                                                                                                                                On American television screens, the US role in this conflict was a relatively sanitised one, pictured as diplomatic rather than military; seen across negotiating tables and in visits to foreign capitals — a far less sinister role than that repeatedly attributed to the Iranians and Syrians over allegations of their financial and logistical support.

                                                                                                                                                                In fact, so penetrating was the alleged connection that some channels, such as Bloomberg Television, began referring to Hezbollah on second reference as merely "the Syrian- and Iranian-backed group". But why did Bloomberg not choose to identify Israel, the largest official recipient of US foreign military assistance for decades, as "the US-backed state"?

                                                                                                                                                                Whether the decision was deliberate or unconscious, the prevailing notion of non-military US involvement is just one of many underlying assumptions communicated by the US media about the conflict between Israel and Lebanon, assumptions that were continually reinforced in comments made by anchors and by hired analysts.

                                                                                                                                                                Viewed as part of an overall package, the assumptions appear to reflect US foreign policy, particularly the relationship with Israel, much more than the pursuit of journalistic objectivity.

                                                                                                                                                                Of course it would be unfair to generalise by suggesting that the Western media did a poor job of covering this war. On the ground in the midst of air strikes, ground fire and naval attacks, American and European journalists, particularly those reporting from south Lebanon, genuinely risked their lives to tell the story.

                                                                                                                                                                Contradictory

                                                                                                                                                                The efforts of many Western reporters operating out of towns such as Tyre at a time when the Israeli military vowed to fire on any vehicle that moved were no less valiant than those displayed by their colleagues from the Arab media. However, a clear difference emerged between battlefield reporting and the animated conversations that went on thousands of miles away in air-conditioned studios. At some points it even appeared as if the two were completely contradictory.

                                                                                                                                                                Beginning with the war in Iraq, American media outlets developed an obsession with hosting former military personnel as analysts, so much so that it now appears as if large American networks have become a sort of retirement programme for the US military’s top brass. An inherent problem with this formula is a tendency to reflect the views and strategic interests of the US government rather than offer critical analyses that shed light on the complex realities of the battlefield.

                                                                                                                                                                Take coverage of the Israeli commando raid on Baalbeck during the third week of the conflict on August 2. The Israeli military had reported that it kidnapped five Hezbollah members, but MSNBC's reporter on the scene quoted local villagers who said those apprehended were "just nobodies".

                                                                                                                                                                Hezbollah also claimed that ordinary civilians, not fighters, had been kidnapped. Meanwhile Israeli newspaper Haaertz quoted Lebanese sources as saying that more than a dozen civilians were killed in the attack.

                                                                                                                                                                Details may still have been sketchy on the ground in the Bekaa valley but in MSNBC's East Coast studio, the view from its military analyst, Rick Francona, was starkly clear. Francona, a former lieutenant-colonel in the US Air Force, swiftly praised the attack as an "excellent raid" and "well done" on Israel’s part. He then began to postulate confidently about the motives behind the operation, saying "Israel obviously had intelligence of high-profile targets" and naming Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah leader, as a possibility.

                                                                                                                                                                Optimism

                                                                                                                                                                But even Israel’s chief of staff, Dan Halutz, appeared to be playing down the operation, with an article in Haaretz quoting him as saying "the soldiers had not aimed to take any individuals in particular, but rather to demonstrate that the IDF [Israeli military] could reach any part of Lebanon".

                                                                                                                                                                Not only does Francona manage to analyse the situation solely from Israel’s point of view, but his optimism even appears to exceed that of the Israelis themselves.

                                                                                                                                                                Weeks later, on August 23, the Lebanese press would post pictures of the Baalbeck captives returning home, indicating that all five men had been returned to Lebanon through the International Committee of the Red Cross, which served as a liaison with the Israeli military.

                                                                                                                                                                The chief suspect had been Hassan Nasrallah; not the leader of Hezbollah but an elderly village farmer that shared the same first and last name. "They wanted to use us for propaganda about the arrest of Hassan Nasrallah," the former detainee told Lebanon’s Daily Star newspaper in a reference to the Hezbollah leader.

                                                                                                                                                                Among the other returned captives were relatives and friends of Nasrallah, the farmer that is.

                                                                                                                                                                Looking back at the initial coverage, one would wonder why MSNBC and countless others chose to report the claims of the Israeli military machine over those of witnesses on the scene.

                                                                                                                                                                Malicious

                                                                                                                                                                The Baalbeck incident was by no means isolated. Time and again, the TV generals seemed so confident in Israel's stance that any talk of malicious activity was dismissed regardless of pending investigations.

                                                                                                                                                                Another case in point was Israel’s attack on a UN post, killing four observer troops, on July 26. Kofi Annan, the UN secretary-general, quickly condemned the strike as "apparently deliberate", noting "a co-ordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long-established and clearly marked UN post".

                                                                                                                                                                The Irish foreign ministry said one of its officers at the post had made at least six warning calls to the Israelis during their bombardment. Reports also emerged of email correspondence from a Canadian soldier giving warning that the Israelis had been striking near the UN position for "weeks upon weeks", according to the soldier’s wife who was quoted by Canadian TV as calling the Israeli attack "intentional".

                                                                                                                                                                Meanwhile UN officials quoted by Reuters said "the firing continued even as rescue operations were under way", while Annan called for a "full investigation" into the "disturbing incident".

                                                                                                                                                                But these multiple claims seemed to be of little consequence to the CNN military analysts back home. A retired US Air Force general employed by the station dismissed the controversy outright, saying the Israeli strike was simply "a screw-up, a major screw-up".

                                                                                                                                                                Assumptions over Israel’s intentions were not limited to analysts but also to senior journalists, such as Tim Marshall, Sky’s foreign editor, who confidently labelled the attack as "inadvertent" and "an accident waiting to happen" on the same evening as it had occurred. It was almost as if Marshall were pre-empting the Israeli government’s apology and denial of wrongdoing, which would not come until the next day.

                                                                                                                                                                'No evidence'

                                                                                                                                                                Instead of adopting a cautious approach to a developing story - as any good journalist would - the authoritative voices from CNN and Sky seemed merely to reflect the views of Israel and its allies. Listening to a press statement from the US ambassador to the UN, John Bolton, it almost seemed as though the press outlets had become a conduit for official statements. "We take them at their word," Bolton said of the Israeli reaction. "There is no evidence to the contrary."

                                                                                                                                                                Less than a week after the killing of the UN observers, the headlines shifted to another attack by Israel, this time in Qana where at least 28 civilians, including 16 children, were killed as a result of air attacks. Qana also happens to be the site of an attack by Israel in 1996 that killed more than 100 people - Israel denied responsibility at the time but subsequent UN investigations were inconclusive.

                                                                                                                                                                Israeli officials also denied responsibility for the more recent bloodbath, accusing Hezbollah of somehow staging the attack by firing from the area, using the civilians as human shields. Israel's UN ambassador, during a speech at the Security Council, even went so far as to entertain the possibility that Hezbollah "wanted and wished" for the mass killing.

                                                                                                                                                                American news outlets began to pick up the claim, despite the absence of ground reporting or any other kind of supporting evidence. As bodies were being carried out of the rubble, a CNN anchorwoman in Atlanta turned to an Arab media analyst and asked if Arab TV channels acknowledged Hezbollah's use of civilians as human shields. The analyst did not refute the claim but merely indicated that Hezbollah criticism was a taboo subject for regional news networks.

                                                                                                                                                                Human shields

                                                                                                                                                                Later CNN military analysts would describe Hezbollah as a "terrorist organization" that breached Geneva Conventions by using human shields. Despite the lack of physical evidence in either direction, it seemed just as easy for the in-studio analysts to assume Israel's innocence as it was for them to assume guilt on the part of Hezbollah, even when the Israeli military did the actual shooting.

                                                                                                                                                                Israel’s third "accident" came on August 11 when six innocents were killed as its missiles struck a civilian convoy fleeing the bombardment in South Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                                                Three days later, when the smoke began to clear and a shaky ceasefire took hold, the Lebanese death toll had reached 1,100, the vast majority being civilians. On the Israeli side, the majority of deaths were military, 117 soldiers and 40 civilians, according to Reuters. (Hezbollah casualties were quoted as a separate figure with the group claiming no more than 80 and Israel claiming more than 500.)

                                                                                                                                                                The vast disparity between Lebanese civilian deaths and those of Israeli civilians remained formulaic throughout the war, but the TV generals seemed to tell a different story, constantly using the adjective "indiscriminate" to describe Hezbollah’s rocket attacks and "very accurate" in describing Israel’s tactics and weaponry.

                                                                                                                                                                In fact, on several occasions, Israeli officials interviewed by American broadcasters touted Israel’s policy of restraint and gave warning of the country’s ability to pursue a "scorched earth policy" in Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                                                Interviewers often accepted such a response either by ending the interview at that point or moving on to different questions. One can hardly imagine an American interviewer remaining silent if an Arab official spoke of flattening the Jewish state in such genocidal terms.

                                                                                                                                                                Unrealistic

                                                                                                                                                                Few phrases were repeated more often during this war than that of "Israel’s war against Hezbollah" and "Israeli strikes on Hezbollah targets" mainly in South Lebanon and the southern suburbs of Beirut.

                                                                                                                                                                The examples of this usage on NBC, CNN, Sky and many, many other channels were simply ubiquitous throughout the month of war coverage — the two phrases used many times a day as an introduction to the whole package of reporting, all framed as a war solely on Hezbollah. However, on the ground, there could not have been a more unr