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

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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

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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

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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

                                                  270 words posted in Iraq war, PoliticsLeave a comment

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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.


                                                      Indian Country Today

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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.

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                                                        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.

                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                "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

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                                                                                                                  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.

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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.

                                                                                                                          Dissident Voice

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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.

                                                                                                                            [More:]


                                                                                                                            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.

                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                        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 unrealistic assessment of reality.

                                                                                                                                        According to a report released by Oxfam on August 14, the destruction across Lebanon included "7,000 homes, 160 factories, markets, farms and other commercial buildings, 29 water and sewage-treatment plants, electrical plants, dams, ports and airports, 23 petrol stations, 145 bridges and overpasses; 600 kilometres of roads".

                                                                                                                                        The figures do not include damage to television towers, which were attacked in at least four different places across the country, disrupting signals and causing millions of dollars in damage to the Lebanese broadcasting industry.

                                                                                                                                        Where were the TV generals to explain the threat of media coverage to Israel’s war on Hezbollah? Lebanon’s entire transnational road system was incapacitated by Israeli missiles, but when anchors rationalised this by speaking of "Hezbollah supply lines", where were the military men to explain that weapons could easily be smuggled through back roads and mountain passages?

                                                                                                                                        Was it clear that Hezbollah did not have its own discreet transportations routes to begin with?

                                                                                                                                        And when the Lebanese international airport was struck repeatedly, where were the generals to explain that rockets had traditionally been carried into Lebanese territory on flat beds and not commercial airliners?

                                                                                                                                        The battlefield analysts seemed so transfixed on analysing Israel's invasion tactics that they rarely looked at the conflict from the opposite end of the map. So much airtime was devoted to Israeli commanders and military spokesman claiming victory, but Hezbollah representatives seemed to have been boycotted by the American press much as they had been boycotted by the American government.

                                                                                                                                        Basic

                                                                                                                                        In reality, Hezbollah was claiming victories of its own, but at times it seemed as if the American media were too busy reflecting their government’s viewpoint to have noticed.

                                                                                                                                        The TV generals dutifully relayed Israel’s daily claims of destroying rocket launchers and medium-range missiles by shading overhead maps with digital pens. But rarely did they discuss Hezbollah's attacks on scores of Israeli Merkava tanks in what was seen as valiant effort at resisting one of the world's most powerful military machines.

                                                                                                                                        If the shading of military maps proved too complicated for the American public to comprehend, broadcasters and commentators often broke down their assumptions in more basic terms. When Israel, for example, decided to launch a land invasion to claim all Lebanese territory south of the Litani river, CNN’s Wolf Blitzer simply referred to the attack as "what some are calling a new Normandy," and "Israel’s D-Day"; a reference to the Allied powers' invasion of Nazi territory in World War II.

                                                                                                                                        When Blitzer began to discuss that day’s events on the battlefield, he, like dozens of other American broadcasters, spoke of Hezbollah rockets landing in "Israeli neighbourhoods". Israel on the other hand, retaliated by bombing "Hezbollah strongholds".

                                                                                                                                        But in reality, these strongholds were also neighbourhoods and support among their residents for Hezbollah could not have been any less than Israeli citizens' support for their own military. If Hezbollah areas cannot be considered neighbourhoods, then why not refer to Israeli neighbourhoods as "Israeli military strongholds"?

                                                                                                                                        After all, a recent report in the Guardian newspaper in Britain by Jonathan Cook alleged that Israel also built military installations and mortar batteries near residential areas. In any case, the lack of balance is problematic: it conveys humanity on the one side and vague militarism on the other.

                                                                                                                                        Omitted

                                                                                                                                        As another example, Blitzer conducted one of two CNN interviews with the grieving wife of an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Hezbollah. But where were the parallel interviews with the families of Lebanese held by the Israelis? How could audiences really identify with the other side if all of its emotive, humanising details were repeatedly omitted?

                                                                                                                                        In a show that aired on MSNBC during the first week of the conflict, Chris Matthews illustrated daily life in Haifa by comparing it with a city in California; "very modern", he explained. Cosmopolitan Beirut, on the other hand, where the nightlife rivals any capital in Western Europe, did not get a mention in the entire show.

                                                                                                                                        Detail from Israel also entered the religious realm during a separate broadcast with Rita Cosby, an anchorwoman who qualified a report of rocket attacks on the city of Nazareth as an attack on the "home town of Jesus".

                                                                                                                                        But where was the mention of Jesus’s wine-making miracle in the Lebanese town of Qana during the mass killings that took place there? And what of the many other biblical references across Lebanon, in Tyre and Sidon when the two cities were subjected to continuous Israeli shelling?

                                                                                                                                        In the end, some broadcasters ditched the metaphors altogether. Tucker Carlson, an MSNBC talk-show host, actually criticised Israel’s tactics in fighting Hezbollah while interviewing an Israeli spokesperson. But he made no qualms with objectivity during his concluding statement. "I hope you succeed," he told the Israeli official. "And I hope you do it quickly."

                                                                                                                                        Can one imagine an American broadcaster ever conveying such enthusiastic support to a Hezbollah official?

                                                                                                                                        Habib Battah is the managing editor of the Journal of Middle East Broadcasters. He can be reached at habib.battah@mebjournal.com

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                                                                                                                                          Book sheds light on Nazi-era humour

                                                                                                                                          English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                          Joking about the Nazi regime could be costly

                                                                                                                                          A new book and film on humour under the Third Reich, Heil Hitler, The Pig is Dead!, reveal the subversive jokes average Germans dared to whisper while the Nazis had the country in a stranglehold.

                                                                                                                                          Hitler and his chauffeur take a drive in the countryside. All of a sudden, boom! They drive over a chicken. Hitler tells the chauffeur, "We have to tell the farmer. Let me do it. I'm the Fuehrer, he'll understand." After two minutes, Hitler runs back holding his backside - the farmer had given him a thrashing. The two drive on. Again, boom! They run into a pig. Hitler barks, "You go to the farmer this time!" The chauffeur follows his orders but comes back a half an hour later, falling-down drunk with a basket filled with sausages and presents. Hitler is stunned. "What did you tell the farmer?" And the chauffeur says, "I just said, 'Heil Hitler, the pig is dead!' and they gave me these gifts!"

                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                          The project by German director Rudolph Herzog, son of the veteran filmmaker Werner, explodes the myth that the Germans were so hypnotised by Adolf Hitler that they were blind to the brutality, and at times absurdity, of his rule.

                                                                                                                                          "They saw through the propaganda," Herzog told AFP. "They saw the ridiculous and ludicrous aspects of the regime."

                                                                                                                                          The book, released on Friday, accompanies a film that was first broadcast on German television this week.

                                                                                                                                          Together they reveal that there was room for laughter even in the darkest period of European history, and show how humour allowed suppressed truths to seep out.

                                                                                                                                          The jokes show that at least a slice of German society was fully aware of the hopelessness of the war effort, as well as the systematic campaign to wipe out European Jewry, and had a healthy contempt for Hitler.

                                                                                                                                          Among the jokes:

                                                                                                                                          * Hitler and his chauffeur take a drive in the countryside. All of a sudden, boom! They drive over a chicken. Hitler tells the chauffeur, "We have to tell the farmer. Let me do it. I'm the Fuehrer, he'll understand." After two minutes, Hitler runs back holding his backside - the farmer had given him a thrashing. The two drive on. Again, boom! They run into a pig. Hitler barks, "You go to the farmer this time!" The chauffeur follows his orders but comes back a half an hour later, falling-down drunk with a basket filled with sausages and presents. Hitler is stunned. "What did you tell the farmer?" And the chauffeur says, "I just said, 'Heil Hitler, the pig is dead!' and they gave me these gifts!"

                                                                                                                                          * What should the new master race look like? As thin as Goering, as blond as Hitler and as tall as Goebbels. (Referring to Hitler's overweight number two, the dark-haired Fuehrer and his diminutive propaganda chief.)

                                                                                                                                          * Hitler and Goering are standing atop the Berlin Television Tower. Hitler says, "I'd like to do something to cheer up the Berliners." Goering: "Then jump." (A munitions worker who told this joke was executed after being denounced by her colleague.)

                                                                                                                                          Herzog said jokes were an invaluable way to peer inside the hearts and minds of people living in a dictatorship, although the view was not always flattering.

                                                                                                                                          Punishment

                                                                                                                                          "They knew about the camps," Herzog said of the Germans.

                                                                                                                                          "The war generation denied it but jokes about Dachau existed since 1933, they knew what was going on," referring to the concentration camp in southern Germany erected just months after the Nazis came to power.

                                                                                                                                          But Germans had to be careful who heard their banter because insults to the regime could be prosecuted, with punishment ranging from fines to death.

                                                                                                                                          Herzog said his project was possible now because 61 years after World War II, enough time had passed to allow an honest reckoning with what the Germans knew.

                                                                                                                                          "Times have changed, my parents are still close to the war, we're the generation of grandchildren," he said.

                                                                                                                                          "It's not over, it never will be, but we have to consider it in our own way. It's not easy, looking back at that time. Even if it's humour, it's difficult."

                                                                                                                                          686 words posted in Humor/SatireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                            Israeli officials 'face war crimes risk'

                                                                                                                                            English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                            Israel's public officials have been told to watch what they say in public about the Lebanese and Palestinian conflicts for fear of being prosecuted for war crimes, political sources say.

                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                            The sources say the foreign ministry has established a legal team to deal with efforts by foreign groups to arrange the prosecution abroad of Israelis involved in the war against Hezbollah guerrillas and crackdowns on Palestinians.

                                                                                                                                            A ministry memorandum issued to Israel's military and other government agencies urges officials to avoid belligerent remarks that could potentially be used to back up allegations they were complicit in excessive use of force in Lebanon or Gaza.

                                                                                                                                            "The type of language now considered off-limits includes 'crushing' the enemy, and 'cleansing', 'levelling', or 'wiping out' suspected enemy emplacements," a political source who saw the memo told Reuters.

                                                                                                                                            The source quoted the memo as censuring one official who called for Israel to respond to Hezbollah rockets strikes against the strategic port city of Haifa during the 34-day war by "getting rid of a village in Lebanon".

                                                                                                                                            The foreign and justice ministries declined to comment.

                                                                                                                                            Political targets

                                                                                                                                            According to the memo, numerous war crimes lawsuits against Israeli officials were being prepared. It cited venues such as France, Belgium, Morocco and Britain, but no further details were immediately available.

                                                                                                                                            Three Moroccan lawyers said last month they were suing the Israeli defence minister, Amir Peretz, over the recent offensives.

                                                                                                                                            Israel Radio reported that a Danish politician also tried to have Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister detained and prosecuted during a recent visit to Copenhagen but the request for an arrest warrant was turned down by prosecutors.

                                                                                                                                            An Israeli cabinet minister said that while military officials had been singled out in foreign lawsuits, politicians were still largely immune.

                                                                                                                                            "There is, without a doubt, an effort among various organisations to lash out at our officers and commanders," Isaac Herzog, the tourism minister, told Israel's Army Radio by telephone during a visit to Finland.

                                                                                                                                            "Of course this does not affect the political echelons."

                                                                                                                                            Israel says its armed forces act within international norms and accuses Hezbollah and Palestinian factions of inviting civilian casualties by operating within populated areas.

                                                                                                                                            Exchange rumours
                                                                                                                                            Meanwhile Ehud Olmert, the Israeli prime minister, denied rumours of a deal that would see Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for Corporal Gilad Shalit, the soldier captured by fighters in Gaza on June 25.

                                                                                                                                            He was quoted as telling the defence and foreign affairs committee that "all the publications and information about the possible release of the kidnapped soldiers are false".

                                                                                                                                            On Sunday, the Yediot Aharonot newspaper said that under secret talks negotiated by Egypt, Israel could release up to 800 Palestinian prisoners in return for Shalit.

                                                                                                                                            Israel has demanded Shalit's unconditional release, but local media have reported that talks have been under way for several weeks.

                                                                                                                                            English Al Jazeera

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                                                                                                                                              Israel plans for war with Iran and Syria

                                                                                                                                              English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                              By Uzi Mahnaimi, Tel Aviv, and Sarah Baxter, New York

                                                                                                                                              THREATENED by a potentially nuclear-armed Tehran, Israel is preparing for a possible war with both Iran and Syria, according to Israeli political and military sources.

                                                                                                                                              [More:]

                                                                                                                                              The conflict with Hezbollah has led to a strategic rethink in Israel. A key conclusion is that too much attention has been paid to Palestinian militants in Gaza and the West Bank instead of the two biggest state sponsors of terrorism in the region, who pose a far greater danger to Israel’s existence, defence insiders say.

                                                                                                                                              “The challenge from Iran and Syria is now top of the Israeli defence agenda, higher than the Palestinian one,” said an Israeli defence source. Shortly before the war in Lebanon Major-General Eliezer Shkedi, the commander of the air force, was placed in charge of the “Iranian front”, a new position in the Israeli Defence Forces. His job will be to command any future strikes on Iran and Syria.

                                                                                                                                              The Israeli defence establishment believes that Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear programme means war is likely to become unavoidable.

                                                                                                                                              “In the past we prepared for a possible military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities,” said one insider, “but Iran’s growing confidence after the war in Lebanon means we have to prepare for a full-scale war, in which Syria will be an important player.”

                                                                                                                                              A new infantry brigade has been formed named Kfir (lion cub), which will be the largest in the Israeli army. “It is a partial solution for the challenge of the Syrian commando brigades, which are considered better than Hezbollah’s,” a military source said.

                                                                                                                                              There has been grave concern in Israel over a military pact signed in Tehran on June 15 between Iran and Syria, which the Iranian defence minister described as a “mutual front against Israeli threats”. Israel has not had to fight against more than one army since 1973.

                                                                                                                                              During the war in Lebanon, Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, the Iranian founder of Hezbollah, warned: “If the Americans attack Iran, Iran will attack Tel Aviv with missiles.”

                                                                                                                                              According to the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, both Iran and Syria have ballistic missiles that can cover most of Israel, including Tel Aviv. An emergency budget has now been assigned to building modern shelters.

                                                                                                                                              “The ineptness of the Israeli Defence Forces against Hezbollah has raised the Iranians’ confidence,” said a leading defence analyst.

                                                                                                                                              In Washington, the military hawks believe that an airstrike against Iranian nuclear bunkers remains a more straightforward, if risky, operation than chasing Hezbollah fighters and their mobile rocket launchers in Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                              “Fixed targets are hopelessly vulnerable to precision bombing, and with stealth bombers even a robust air defence system doesn’t make much difference,” said Richard Perle, a leading neoconservative.

                                                                                                                                              The option of an eventual attack remains on the table after President George Bush warned on Friday that Iran must not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons.

                                                                                                                                              While the American State Department favours engaging with President Bashar Assad of Syria in the hope of detaching him from the Iranian alliance, hawks believe Israel missed a golden opportunity to strike at Syria during the Hezbollah conflict.

                                                                                                                                              “If they had acted against Syria during this last kerfuffle, the war might have ended more quickly and better,” Perle added. “Syrian military installations are sitting ducks and the Syrian air force could have been destroyed on the ground in a couple of days.” Assad set off alarm bells in Israel when he said during the war in Lebanon: “If we do not obtain the occupied Golan Heights by peaceful means, the resistance option is there.”

                                                                                                                                              During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war, the Syrian army briefly captured the Israeli strategic post on top of Mount Hermon on the Golan Heights.

                                                                                                                                              Some Israeli analysts believe Syria will try again to take this post, which overlooks the Syrian capital, Damascus.

                                                                                                                                              As a result of the change in the defence priorities, the budget for the Israeli forces in the West Bank and Gaza is to be reduced.

                                                                                                                                              The Israelis are integrating three elite brigades that performed well during the Lebanon war under one headquarters, so they can work together on deep cross-border operations in Iran and Syria.

                                                                                                                                              Advocates of political engagement believe a war with Syria could unleash Islamic fundamentalist terror in what has hitherto been a stable dictatorship. Some voices in the Pentagon are not impressed by that argument.

                                                                                                                                              “If Syria spirals into chaos, at least they’ll be taking on each other rather than heading for Jerusalem,” said one insider.

                                                                                                                                              Times Online, UK

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                                                                                                                                                THE PERFECT SCHOOL XIII: Affect and Intellect: The Interaction

                                                                                                                                                English (US)  September 4th, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                By John Mahoeny

                                                                                                                                                I am more than just a bundle of cognition, more than just my old SAT scores and IQ ratings. So are you. Yes, we think, and our capacity for thought puts us atop the evolutionary chain. But so too do we feel, and our feelings commonly provide the drive that makes us do what we do. Or not do what we do not want to do.

                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                Take the case of the Academic Late Bloomer. During his days of schooling he sees no real connection between academic subjects and the life he is to live. Into his twenties he drifts. Then one day the light goes on. An accumulation of maturing experiences has brought about the change. He begins to feel that he is falling behind his peers who have chosen to pursue their life goals through higher learning, and he does not like that feeling. Finally he sees the connection to academic achievement, and he sets out with a vengeance to catch up. The engine of his feelings now drives him to succeed in the domain he had rejected as irrelevant to his future.

                                                                                                                                                So feeling affects thinking and learning. In the example above, feeling actually preceded thinking: the Late Bloomer had to feel inadequate before turning on the academic jets.

                                                                                                                                                But thinking can precede feeling. In terms of psychologist Benjamin Bloom’s Taxonomy of Cognition, we take some pride (feeling) in knowing facts (Knowledge is Bloom’s Level One); we are gratified (again, feeling) to achieve understanding of concepts (Level Two is Understanding); but it is at Level Three, Application, that we experience the deep, pervasive and liberating feeling of ownership of the learning. In the classroom the learning really belongs to the teacher (dispenser of facts, revealer of concepts) until that magic moment when the student begins to own his own learning by applying it – and feeling good about himself in the process. Getting students in large numbers to the third level of Bloom, Application, is so important that many schools have altered their daily schedules to allow for longer classes. In former times it was enough that students, in forty-five minute periods, received and understood the material. Today they need to take that new understanding and apply it, which requires more time in class. In a mathematics class that may mean working with the graphing calculators. In an English class it may mean working on writing at the computer. By such means does the school of today become, as it must, more student-centered than in the past.

                                                                                                                                                Schools must be organized so that intellectual progress promotes positive affect – and vice versa – all in the service of greater learning on the road to the Perfect School.

                                                                                                                                                Author’s Note: As used in this series, the word “perfect” applies to a specific context: what is best for the country, this democratic republic, and especially for its young people, all of them, at this point in time.

                                                                                                                                                Next: Theory Applied: The Can-Do Spirit at HVRHS

                                                                                                                                                Small wonder that educators, perhaps mindful of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, (click here for The Perfect School II)
                                                                                                                                                (see PS#2) become concerned with a student’s self esteem.

                                                                                                                                                529 words posted in EducationLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                  Hometown Activists Push Again to Un-Democrat Lieberman

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

                                                                                                                                                  By Melissa Bailey
                                                                                                                                                  Blocked in their first attempt, New Haven peace activists returned Friday to the local Registrar of Voters office to demand that local Democrats be allowed to strip U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman of his party affiliation, now that the senator is making a third-party run for reelection against the Democrats' endorsed candidate, Ned Lamont.

                                                                                                                                                  Full story at: New Haven Independent

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                                                                                                                                                    Viewpoints: The British, The Germans, and India, 1857-1957

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

                                                                                                                                                    "Viewpoints" is a new feature of The Corner Report that is based on the premise that it's a good idea to learn how people in countries and cultures other than Europe and America -- particularly those that have been colonized by Europe and the America -- view history and the contemporary world. From time to time, Viewpoints will present articles, opinion pieces, and stories that illustrate those different perspectives.

                                                                                                                                                    Readers are encouraged to post comments and to send articles for possible posting to editor@thecornerreport.com.

                                                                                                                                                    Period from 1857-1947
                                                                                                                                                    By Akhilesh Mithal

                                                                                                                                                    August 27 is an anniversary. 28 years ago, Lord Louis Mountbat-ten, the last British viceroy and governor general of India (1946-47) was blown up along with his ship (August 27, 1979) while enjoying his retirement in a sailing and fishing holiday off the coast of Ireland. His young grandson, who accompanied him, also died in the explosion.

                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                    The first British adventurer to earn fame in India, Robert Clive, took the title "Lord Clive of Plassey". In the same tradition, Louis Mountbatten called himself "Lord Mountbatten of Burma". Robert Clive had also died an unnatural death. He had cut his throat with a razor.

                                                                                                                                                    According to psychologists, this kind of suicide is a statement and demonstration of resentment in reaction to a (perceived) failure to be loved and understood by close relatives, friends and colleagues.

                                                                                                                                                    Lord Louis was of German stock, with the family name of Von Battenberg. The British royal family, also of German origin, had the titles of Saxe Coburg and Gotha. These names became a liability for the owners when Britain raged a war against Germany in 1914.

                                                                                                                                                    Lord Louis’s father had to step down from his job as First Lord of the British admiralty, because he was a Count Von Battenberg. The British royals abandoned their German titles and took the name "Windsor" and Battenbergs "Mountbatten".

                                                                                                                                                    Envy and admiration for the British empire was the driving force of German nationalism in the 19th century. Up until that time, the ruler of a state was the embodiment of the nation. When Louis XIV said "L ‘etat ce’st mois!" (I am the State), he did not feel unique or different from his contemporaries wearing crowns.

                                                                                                                                                    Both George V of Britain and Wilhelm II of Germany, were grandsons of Queen Victoria and there was this cousin rivalry that gave a sharp personal edge to national competition. The greatest admirers of the British Empire were the Germans.

                                                                                                                                                    Adolf Hitler turned a cold shoulder to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose during World War II, although he should have offered help to "the enemy’s enemy". In Hitler’s eyes, the British were admirably-trained people who had worked for three hundred years to assure themselves of world domination for two centuries. They had learnt the art of being masters, and of holding the reins so lightly withal, that the natives do not notice the curb. His favourite movie was Lives of the Bengal Lancers.

                                                                                                                                                    As an admirer of the effective oppression of an inferior race, he records with approval "The wealth of Britain is the result of capitalist exploitation of three hundred and fifty million Indians."

                                                                                                                                                    A remark of Hitler reads: "There are Englishmen who reproach themselves at having governed India badly. Why? Because the Indians show no enthusiasm for their rule. I claim that the English have governed India very well, but their error is to expect enthusiasm from the people they administer."

                                                                                                                                                    In 1937, Hitler suggested a simple way to deal with Indian nationalism: "Shoot Gandhi, and if that does not reduce them to submission, shoot a dozen leading members of the Congress, and if that does not suffice, shoot 200 and so on until order is established."

                                                                                                                                                    The British shot down hundreds at Jallianwala Bagh and thousands in 1942. The Hitler formula did not work and the demand for Independence grew exponentially from movement to movement called by the Indian National Congress, led by Gandhi and Nehru.

                                                                                                                                                    The Indian National Army of Bose made Wavell realise that India could only be held with ten divisions of the army, exclusively manned by white troops.

                                                                                                                                                    The British decided to divide India and hold on to the part close to Central Asia through their puppets. Mountbatten accelerated the "Divide and Quit" decision by many months and revealed the border lines well after the date of announcement of Partition. No attention was paid to maintaining peace and order.

                                                                                                                                                    The half-to-quarter-million killed, the hundred thousand women abducted, raped, mutilated and sold into slavery, the millions uprooted from their homes and made refugees, were a direct consequence of this haste combining with the poison sowed in Hindu, Muslim and Sikh hearts and minds by British text books teaching Indian history as a saga of Hindu versus Muslim.

                                                                                                                                                    The Ghadar of 1857 saw Hindus and Muslims united in their fight against the Nasraanee or Christian feringhee, to protect their respective style of living and religious faiths. 1947 saw them kill each other with the British watching the fun. But not even a single hair on the head of a feringhee was harmed in 1947.

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                                                                                                                                                      Waterbury Republican-American skewered for 'McCarthyite' Attack on Lamont

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

                                                                                                                                                      McCarthyism: From 1946 to 2006

                                                                                                                                                      By John Nichols
                                                                                                                                                      Primary elections always matter. But some primary elections matter more than others; indeed, some primary elections define the character not just of a particular official's term, or even of a legislative or congressional session, but of the nation's politics for years to come.

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                      A related editorial -- "A Connecticut Yankee in Joe Stalin's Court: Painting Ned Lamont 'Red'" -- can be found at Editor & Publisher

                                                                                                                                                      Residents of the state of Wisconsin, where my family has resided for seven generations, know this better than the citizens of most states. Sixty years ago this month, Republican primary voters turned out one of the greatest senators in the history of the United States, Robert M. La Follette Jr., and replaced him with one of the lousiest excuses for an elected leader this country has ever produced, Joe McCarthy.

                                                                                                                                                      The Wisconsin Republican Senate primary of 1946 set the wheels in motion for the Red Scare of the 1950s, to which McCarthy lent his name and his sordid tactics. It is true that Richard Nixon and others would have ginned up some sort of anti-communist propaganda campaign, but it is doubtful that it would ever have done the damage to civil liberties and public life that McCarthy achieved with his unparalleled lies and cruelty.

                                                                                                                                                      That Republican primary also began the long descent of the Grand Old Party, which had once laid a far stronger claim than the Democratic Party to the progressive mantle, into the pit of petty bigotry, reaction and neoconservative fantasy that now defines it.

                                                                                                                                                      La Follette lost by only 5,000 votes in August, 1946, but the margin did not matter. With the defeat of the maverick senator, who had supported extension of Roosevelt's New Deal at home while wisely questioning schemes for post-World War II military adventures abroad, the era of the old-school Midwestern progressivism came to a close. And American politics entered a dramatically uglier and more irrational period from which it has yet to fully emerge.

                                                                                                                                                      If anyone doubts this, consider the recent editorial attack on Ned Lamont, the mainstream liberal who defeated U.S. Sen. Joe Lieberman in Connecticut's Aug. 8 Democratic primary, by the conservative Waterbury Republican-American newspaper.

                                                                                                                                                      Entitled "Ned Lamont's True Colors," the Sunday editorial in one of Connecticut's larger daily newspapers was classic McCarthyism. "Red Ned may label himself a progressive, but when he espouses goals shared by Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Castro, et al., he gives away his true color," wrote the paper's editors of Lamont, a successful businessman who espouses views no more radical than those of U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., and dozens of other House and Senate members including a few anti-war Republicans.

                                                                                                                                                      The newspaper alleged that "(Lamont) has surrounded himself with people who may be characterized fairly as dedicated socialists and borderline communists," when in fact Lamont's primary supporters were grass-roots Democrats who were frustrated with Lieberman's allegiance to the Bush administration's failed foreign policy.

                                                                                                                                                      The Republican-American editorial also claimed that "liberal journalists adore (Lamont) because they share his world view on abortion, homosexual marriage, universal health care, racial quotas, loopy environmentalism and especially the war against Islamic terrorism. They are blood brothers, or more accurately, fellow travelers. Just as journalism has become a hornet's nest of socialism (communism not yet perfected), if you shake Lamont's family tree, a lot of Red apples will fall."

                                                                                                                                                      Spouting innuendo and inaccuracy with abandon, the newspaper sought to claim that Lamont's blue-blood family including J.P. Morgan's partner, Thomas Lamont, and civil libertarian Corliss Lamont was nothing less than Stalin's fifth column in the United States. The paper conveniently forgot to mention that Corliss Lamont, though certainly a man of the left, authored a much-noted tract titled "Why I Am Not a Communist."

                                                                                                                                                      While the Republican-American may be guilty of lax journalism, the real shame belongs to Lieberman's independent campaign, which has spread the Waterbury paper's fantastic claims. The senator's communications director even quoted the editorial in a widely circulated statement on the race.

                                                                                                                                                      With the help of the Waterbury Republican-American, Joe Lieberman is keeping alive the politics of another Joe: the one named McCarthy. And in so doing, Lieberman's proving that the shock waves from a primary election in the summer of 1946 are still being felt in this summer of another primary election that has dislodged another senior senator.


                                                                                                                                                      The Nation

                                                                                                                                                      4 response(s) to Waterbury Republican-American skewered for 'McCarthyite' Attack on Lamont

                                                                                                                                                      1. lynne streeter [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                        Thank you Gail, for the reprint. I missed this first time around.

                                                                                                                                                      2. Scoville Soule [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                        Hi Gale,
                                                                                                                                                        (Your old alma mater.) The Republican seems to me a very odd paper in that its news stories, from what I've seen are unbiased but their editorial section is decidedly right wing for the most part. However, this last editorial is well past right wing. It's loopy ranting. Like McCarthy himself, it's insane. It would be funny except for the memory of the damage McCarthyism reeked on so many innocent people and, even scarier, persuaded so many others to go along with this insanity. Not just stupid people, but otherwise intelligent people. Like Hitler, McCarthy brought out the very worst in his countrymen. Very sad. And it could happen again. You can made the case that the only cohesive force that holds our country and its ideals together is its constitution written by loing-ago genuses.

                                                                                                                                                        On another note: Thanks so much for your continuing North West Corner. It's a lot of work always thought provoking and informational.
                                                                                                                                                        Scoville

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

                                                                                                                                                        LieberMcCartheism is Joe's new campaign philosophy. I recently heard that he and his advisors are so desperate they were coming up with a new television and radio ad promoting the "Big McJoe, with a special sauce and lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a GOP seeded, independent ,Democratic,Bush loving and kissing, war loving liberal?"

                                                                                                                                                      4. nonrepamer [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                        The Republican American editorial page is useful only for bird cage lining and black comedy. Their writers were born in the wrong decade. Or century. Or species.

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                                                                                                                                                      Murphy: “If Congress can give itself a raise, why can’t it raise the minimum wage for working families?”

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

                                                                                                                                                      By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                                      MERIDEN, Conn. _ Chris Murphy continued his “41 Towns in 41 Days” campaign for the Fifth Congressional District seat with a press conference city hall Friday.

                                                                                                                                                      [More:]


                                                                                                                                                      Murphy, a Democrat who is serving his second term representing the state's 16th Senatorial District, is challenging incumbent Republican Congresswoman Nancy Johnson for the Fifth Congressional District seat she has held for almost two decades.

                                                                                                                                                      In wending his way around the 41-town district, Murphy is speaking about his positions on various issues – affordable house, energy, the environment, social security, the war, health care, and more – and highlighting the difference between his pro-people approach and Johnson’s pro-special interest group approach.

                                                                                                                                                      On Friday, the issue was the minimum wage, and the special interest group was Congress itself.

                                                                                                                                                      “How can the Republican Congress vote for pay increase after pay increase without giving working families a raise in the minimum wage?” Murphy said.

                                                                                                                                                      The federal minimum wage has been frozen at $5.15 since 1997 even though Congress has voted to raise its own pay nine times in that same period. The federal minimum wage is at its lowest level in 50 years, adjusted for inflation, according to the Center for Economic Policy and Research.

                                                                                                                                                      “This summer, the Republican Congress stalled on voting to increase the minimum wage, rejecting seven attempts to do the right thing. Nancy Johnson was on the wrong side of those attempts six times. Nancy Johnson is proud to call herself part of the leadership of this Republican Congress, and she wholeheartedly supports its agenda, which blatantly ignores the needs of working families. That is why we need a change in Washington,” Murphy said.

                                                                                                                                                      Murphy’s support for an increased minimum wage comes on the heels of a Census Bureau report on 2005 earnings released earlier this week that was bad news for most Americans.

                                                                                                                                                      The report showed that even though the median income rose by 1.1 percent last year to $46,326, the increase showed up in 23 million households headed by someone over 65 years old, meaning the boost was likely from people with investment incomes, not those earning salaries and wages.

                                                                                                                                                      For most Americans – that is, the other 91 million households -- the median income dropped by half a percent. Median income for people under 65 was $2,000 lower last year than it was in 2001.

                                                                                                                                                      There were 37 million Americans – or 12.6 percent – living in poverty last year and 43 percent of them were living below half the poverty line of $7,800 for a family of three.

                                                                                                                                                      The Census Bureau report showed another 1.3 million people have joined the ranks of the uninsured, bringing the total to an all time high of 46.6 million or 15.9 percent of the population lacking health insurance.

                                                                                                                                                      Congresswoman Rosa L. DeLauro (CT-3) and state House Majority Leader Chris Donovan joined Murphy at the press conference in calling on Congress to raise the federal minimum wage.

                                                                                                                                                      Donovan said that Murphy’s position on minimum wage is backed up by his record in the state legislature where he has supported increases in the state minimum wage for the past several years.

                                                                                                                                                      “Connecticut has consistently done the right thing and raised the minimum wage and Chris Murphy was always there to support it. Whenever we voted on the minimum wage, it was a vote just on the minimum wage. There were no tricks or hidden agendas. Our concern was for low wage earners and paying them a decent rate,” said Donovan.

                                                                                                                                                      In the most recent vote in the legislature, Murphy supported a bill that increased the state minimum wage to $7.40 an hour as of January 2006 and will further increase it to $7.65 an hour as of January 2007.

                                                                                                                                                      “As hourly wages fall and working families are forced to pick up second jobs or trim their budgets, it is outrageous that the Republican Congress continues to play games with the minimum wage. On a bipartisan basis, we’ve done the right thing here in Connecticut. I don’t understand why Congress won’t follow our example,” said Murphy.


                                                                                                                                                      The Fifth Congressional District

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                                                                                                                                                        Can you really not see?

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

                                                                                                                                                        By Amira Hass

                                                                                                                                                        As Jews we all enjoy the privilege Israel gives us, what makes us all collaborators. The question is what does every one of us do in an active and direct daily manner to minimize cooperation with a dispossessing, suppressing regime that never has its fill. Signing a petition and tutting will not do.

                                                                                                                                                        [More:]

                                                                                                                                                        Let us leave aside those Israelis whose ideology supports the dispossession of the Palestinian people because "God chose us." Leave aside the judges who whitewash every military policy of killing and destruction. Leave aside the military commanders who knowingly jail an entire nation in pens surrounded by walls, fortified observation towers, machine guns, barbed wire and blinding projectors. Leave aside the ministers. All of these are not counted among the collaborators. These are the architects, the planners, the designers, the executioners.

                                                                                                                                                        But there are others. Historians and mathematicians, senior editors, media stars, psychologists and family doctors, lawyers who do not support Gush Emunim and Kadima, teachers and educators, lovers of hiking trails and sing-alongs, high-tech wizards. Where are you? And what about you, researchers of Nazism, the Holocaust and Soviet gulags? Could you all be in favor of systematic discriminating laws? Laws stating that the Arabs of the Galilee will not even be compensated for the damages of the war by the same sums their Jewish neighbors are entitled to (Aryeh Dayan, Haaretz , August 21).

                                                                                                                                                        Could it be that you are all in favor of a racist Citizenship Law that forbids an Israeli Arab from living with his family in his own home? That you side with further expropriation of lands and the demolishing of additional orchards, for another settler neighborhood and another exclusively Jewish road? That you all back the shelling and missile fire killing the old and the young in the Gaza Strip?

                                                                                                                                                        Could it be that you all agree that a third of the West Bank (the Jordan Valley) should be off limits to Palestinians? That you all side with an Israeli policy that prevents tens of thousands of Palestinians who have obtained foreign citizenship from returning to their families in the occupied territories?

                                                                                                                                                        Could your mind really be so washed with the security excuse, used to forbid Gaza students from studying occupational therapy at Bethlehem and medicine at Abu Dis, and preventing sick people from Rafah from receiving medical treatment in Ramallah? Will also you find it easy to hide behind the explanation "we had no idea": we had no idea that the discrimination practiced in the distribution of water - which is solely controlled by Israel - leaves thousands of Palestinian households without water during the hot summer months; we had no idea that when the IDF blocks the entrance to villages, it also blocks their access to springs or water tanks.

                                                                                                                                                        But it cannot be that you don't see the iron gates along route 344 in the West Bank, blocking access to it from the Palestinian villages it passes by. It cannot be that you support preventing the access of thousands of farmers to their land and plantations, that you support the quarantine on Gaza which prevents the entry of medicine for hospitals, the disruption of electricity and water supply to 1.4 million human beings, closing their only outlet to the world for months.

                                                                                                                                                        Could it be that you do not know what is happening 15 minutes from your faculties and offices? Is it plausible that you support the system in which Hebrew soldiers, at checkpoints in the heart of the West Bank, are letting tens of thousands of people wait everyday for hours upon hours under the blazing sun, while selecting: residents of Nablus and Tul Karm are not allowed through, 35-year-olds and under - yallah, back to Jenin, residents of the Salem village are not even allowed to be here, a sick woman who skipped the line must learn a lesson and will be purposefully detained for hours. Machsom Watch's site is available for all; in it are countless such testimonies and worse, a day by day routine. But it cannot be that those who are appalled over every swastika painted on a Jewish grave in France and over every anti-Semitic headline in a Spanish local newspaper will not know how to reach this information, and will not be appalled and outraged.

                                                                                                                                                        As Jews we all enjoy the privilege Israel gives us, what makes us all collaborators. The question is what does every one of us do in an active and direct daily manner to minimize cooperation with a dispossessing, suppressing regime that never has its fill. Signing a petition and tutting will not do. Israel is a democracy for its Jews. We are not in danger of our lives, we will not be jailed in concentration camps, our livelihood will not be damaged and recreation in the countryside or abroad will not be denied to us. Therefore, the burden of collaboration and direct responsibility is immeasurably heavy.

                                                                                                                                                        Haaretz

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                                                                                                                                                          Lamont Talks Health Care in Hartford

                                                                                                                                                          English (US)  August 31st, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                          State Sen. Eric Coleman introduces Ned Lamont. Christine Stuart photo.

                                                                                                                                                          By Christine Stuart

                                                                                                                                                          U.S. Senate candidate Ned Lamont heard a number of concerns from Hartford seniors Wednesday about the implications of Medicare Part D and the doughnut hole it leaves as of Sept. 22.

                                                                                                                                                          [More:]

                                                                                                                                                          One woman said she recently had a relative become ill because she didn't have the money to pay for her medication. Another woman was upset she was forced to take generic medication for her diabetes instead of the name brand her doctor prescribed.

                                                                                                                                                          These and other concerns will increase for Medicare Part D participants in September, Lamont said.

                                                                                                                                                          Full story: CT News Junkie

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                                                                                                                                                            AG joins property owners' opposition to shoreline management plan

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  August 31st, 2006 by admin ( Email )


                                                                                                                                                            Courtesy housatonic.net

                                                                                                                                                            By Gale Courey Toensing

                                                                                                                                                            HARTFORD, Conn. _ State Attorney Richard Blumenthal has joined property owners fighting against an electric company’s plan to impose new fees and changes in land and water use on Candlewood Lake and Lake Lillinonah.

                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                            Blumenthal filed a motion to intervene with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Wednesday, asking the agency to reject a proposed Shoreline Management Plan by Northeast Generation Company (NGC) for the two lakes in western Connecticut.

                                                                                                                                                            Candlewood, the largest lake in the state, is an 8.4-square-mile man made body of water created in the 1920’s to store water for electric power generation at the Rocky River plant. Water is pumped from the Housatonic River, then allowed to flow back down into the river to generate electricity at times of peak need. The towns of Brookfield, Danbury, New Fairfield, New Milford, and Sherman share the lake’s shoreline.

                                                                                                                                                            The Shoreline Management Plan calls for a new $200 annual fee on Candlewood Lake property owners and new fees for docks, decks, and other structures. Land owners would be required to plant a vegetative buffer along the shore to protect the lake from polluted run-off.

                                                                                                                                                            Additionally, the plan may call for raising the water level in Lake Lillinonah by two feet, "which woudlimpsoe significant environmental harm, submerging and destroying vegetation and tree growth and damaging water quality," Blumenthal said.

                                                                                                                                                            Lillinonah, also man made and the second largest lake in the state, is an enlargement of the Housatonic River south of Candlewood.

                                                                                                                                                            The electric company was required to produce a Shoreline Management Plan as part of FERC’s relicensing process, which began in 1996 when the five hydroelectric facilities on the Housatonic River were owned by Connecticut Light & Power. A 40-year license was issued to NGC in June 2004.

                                                                                                                                                            The proposed management plan is “threatening both economically and environemtnally,” Blumenthal said.

                                                                                                                                                            “This Shoreline Management Plan could impose significant monetary charges and environmental changes – requiring review and revamping before approval. I seek to protect residents whose property rights and quality of life are substantially at stake. But even more important is the value of these precious environmental interests and natural resources to the state as a whole. FERC should require that NGC provide greater and more specific justification for its proposed fees – in some cases revoking them entirely,” Blumenthal said.
                                                                                                                                                            .
                                                                                                                                                            Both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Friends of the Lake (Lillinonah) have submitted comments to FERC opposing the electric company’s proposal.

                                                                                                                                                            “The applicant has acknowledged the potential impacts of fluctuating levels on birds, herpitiles, and mammals. These impacts include reducing the available area where wildlife and herpitiles can safely over-winter, and affecting the nesting success of birds such as the spotted sand piper," Fish and Wildlife said.

                                                                                                                                                            Friends of the Lake said the proposed higher water level would increase the amount of floating debris in the lake, which is already a problem, and have "additional negative effects on shoreline vegetation and habitats, as well as massive erosion that is likely to occur.”

                                                                                                                                                            FERC has the option of accepting the NGS plan, which was submitted last July after nearly a year of public hearings, or sending it back with recommended revisions.

                                                                                                                                                            If the plan is approved, NGC would begin next year to impose annual fees and licensing fees on Candlewood Lake residents for any property on company land.

                                                                                                                                                            Blumenthal said the plan must be significantly changed to eliminate fees for property owners with deeded property rights, assure reasonableness of any legitimate fees, not impose litigation costs related to the plan on shoreline residents and prohibit the company from raising the water level of Lake Lillinonah.

                                                                                                                                                            Property owners with deeded rights should not be denied the rights they paid for when they bought the property, Blumenthal said.

                                                                                                                                                            Furthermore, NGC has not provided a rationale for the amount of the fees vis a vis the cost of administering the management plant as it relates to individual properties.

                                                                                                                                                            “And where there is a reasonable basis for certain fees – not for owners with deeded property rights – there should be an annual review to determine that the fees have been charged and collected properly – and any excess fees collected returned,” Blumenthal said.

                                                                                                                                                            693 words posted in Environment2 comments

                                                                                                                                                            2 response(s) to AG joins property owners' opposition to shoreline management plan

                                                                                                                                                            1. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                              Having lived in Danbury and scuba dived in Candlewood Lake it is IMPORTANT that Mr. Blumenthal be supported in his and the owners and the evioments causes. In stead of taxeing the landowners how about limiting the size of boats and motors on the lake? Lagely increase the usage taxes to those out of state. This Lake is loaded with History left in tack at the bottom and attarcks many a divers to the underwater towns, foundations, and equipment left behind. Fishing competions have brought the speed boats to get to the fishing holes first and in my opion do more damage than any dive boat could.

                                                                                                                                                            2. Al Gould [Visitor] says:

                                                                                                                                                              Over powered boats, size, speed-boats with car engines are not what is apart of the longivity of any lake today. The lake , the land owners, and the eviorment need to be taken care of. The over sized and over horspowered boats , and out of state registered boats are the ones that should be taxed and or if to large, restected. Sorry people , I love speed, and water sking, and diving but there comes a time for good old common sence to pro-long the life of the Lake for our Gran children and their airs to enjoy it as we did. Al

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                                                                                                                                                            What $15 million a day of US taxpayers' money supports: The Worst Kind of Terror

                                                                                                                                                            English (US)  August 31st, 2006 by admin ( Email )

                                                                                                                                                            Murder on Rucarb Street

                                                                                                                                                            By Eliza Ernshire

                                                                                                                                                            RAMALLAH, Palestine August 29, Pre-dawn.

                                                                                                                                                            It is only now that the gun-fire saluting the killed young man has become sporadic and no longer constant, and that the verses of the Koran, chanted in farewell to him, has ceased. But the streets are full; and full too are the hearts of all who had to witness an attack that should only have been imaginable in the darkest back alleys of some underworld city.

                                                                                                                                                            [More:]

                                                                                                                                                            At 9 pm, the 28th, undercover Israeli Special Forces walked down the main street of Ramallah. They wore civilian clothes and Palestinian police-caps. They carried M-16s as all the police force does. No one looked at them twice. They walked straight past us where we stood at Al-Minara discussing work with a third colleague.

                                                                                                                                                            They walked straight passed the Palestinian Police Force as well who is always stationed there.

                                                                                                                                                            They continued walking straight down Rucarb Street until they were opposite the famous Rucarb Ice-cream shop where families gather every evening in the summertime.

                                                                                                                                                            Then they opened fire.

                                                                                                                                                            They opened fire after they failed to catch two 'wanted' men who were also in Rucarb Street along with half the population of Ramallah. The two men wouldn't come when called and so the undercover Israeli Officers opened fire.

                                                                                                                                                            It is not easy to explain the horror of seeing the cold-blooded murder of the young man who had turned to escape on realizing the situation.

                                                                                                                                                            It is not easy to explain the horror of hearing the name of the killed youth spreading from mouth to mouth until the whole of Ramallah knows that the young man killed was A. from the village of Deir Ghassan. Nor is it easy to explain the horror of rushing with everybody else who knows an A. from that village or a nearby one to the hospital.

                                                                                                                                                            The relief if the body pulled from the fridge is not your A.

                                                                                                                                                            The anguish if it is.

                                                                                                                                                            Grown men falling on the ground to beat at the dirt and cry.

                                                                                                                                                            The parents of the killed man stumbled into the hospital at midnight. The father could not even see his son because he was temporarily blinded by the shock and the screams of the mother could be heard from the street.

                                                                                                                                                            Young men were also in shock, wandering around and wondering why they had not even had a chance to fight back. There was an overwhelming feeling of powerlessness.

                                                                                                                                                            Palestine has been so reduced and so humiliated that it is now a country where the Occupying force can walk into a main city on nightfall, can walk down the main street of that city and kill a man and then walk away again as if that is a damn right of theirs and no one is going to blink an eye at it.

                                                                                                                                                            It is not their damn right to come and terrorize the people of a city night after night after night on some hyped up 'security' reason! This is no human being's right.

                                                                                                                                                            I have been accused of not understanding how people are feeling on the other side of the Wall. People have written to me 'You don't know what it is like to be driving behind a bus when it explodes' and I say this is true. But I do know what it is like to see fifteen thugs walk down a main street of a city at nightfall and murder in cold-blood outside a family restaurant and then walk away again.

                                                                                                                                                            I call that the worst kind of terror.

                                                                                                                                                            The boy they killed was just a village boy, and the children who witnessed this killing were just children. As in all parts of the world, children who had begged their parents for an ice-cream before going to bed.

                                                                                                                                                            Nhow they must live with this violation of their sensitivity forever.

                                                                                                                                                            And the thugs could just walk away! They did not even need jeeps to perform their action of terror.

                                                                                                                                                            These men were not desperate. Not one of them would tie an explosive belt around his waist.What I am most afraid of is that they enjoy what they do. To them and to too many others, the lives of Palestinians are, at most, only countable.

                                                                                                                                                            There was a three-second coverage of this news item on BBC. 'Three militants killed in the West Bank. One in Ramallah and two in Nablus; all were from the Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade.'

                                                                                                                                                            One second for each man killed.

                                                                                                                                                            I won't begin a discussion on why, by naming the Martyrs Brigade, the West is somehow justifying the deaths, because the purpose of this article is only to register horror at the nighttime terror that came in so particularly a disgusting way to the streets of Ramallah four hours ago.And also to say that now the city is angry.

                                                                                                                                                            The young men who have been gathering for hours in groups on street corners are angry. Some have been crying, and all have been voicing their disbelief at how on earth Israel can continue to get away with their inhuman actions; not only nightly midnight raids and arrests but also this gangster plot that has left the main street of their city stained with blood again.

                                                                                                                                                            In the past two weeks Israeli forces have come to Ramallah every single night. There is now a vigil in the dark hours of these nights; from 2am till 5am half the city is awake watching and wondering where Israel's eyes are turned and what neighborhood they are targeting.

                                                                                                                                                            In the past week Israel has made daily incursions into Nablus and has destroyed houses and killed 16-year old boys in broad daylight, and has raided the city every night. For the past month the whole village district of Ramallah and Nablus have been enduring invasions and raids, house-searches and arrests.

                                                                                                                                                            While Olmert is taking a few blows about his conduct of the war in Lebanon, the Palestinians are having to endure being his 'dog-under-the-table'.

                                                                                                                                                            How on earth is he and Israel getting away with it?

                                                                                                                                                            Eliza Ernshire can be reached at eliza_ernshire@yahoo.co.uk

                                                                                                                                                            http://www.counterpunch.org/

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                                                                                                                                                              Lieberman's GOP Internet Links

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

                                                                                                                                                              By Christine Stuart

                                                                                                                                                              U.S. Senator Joseph Lieberman, who is running as a third-party candidate after being defeated by Ned
                                                                                                                                                              Lamont in the Democratic primary this August, has continuously dismissed claims he's friendly with President George W. Bush's administration and Republicans.

                                                                                                                                                              But some in depth research by ePluribus Media, a nonprofit cooperative of citizen journalists dedicated to researching issues of common concern while following strict ethical standards, found an elaborate web being woven between Lieberman and the GOP through an IP address owned by the Donatelli Group/Campaign Solutions.

                                                                                                                                                              Why is the GOP giving Lieberman a hand in winning the November election when it has its own candidate, Republican Alan 'Gold' Schlesinger?

                                                                                                                                                              Full story: CT News Junkie

                                                                                                                                                              117 words posted in EnvironmentLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                Lebanese laugh it off

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


                                                                                                                                                                Lebanese joke about Israelis, Americans, Arabs and themselves

                                                                                                                                                                Lebanese may have lost homes, loved ones and livelihoods, but one thing they have not lost in the aftermath of the war is their legendary sense of humour.

                                                                                                                                                                In a country that has repeatedly been invaded by Israel, the one joke everyone likes to tell remains:
                                                                                                                                                                An Israeli recently arrives at London's Heathrow airport. As he fills out a form, the customs officer asks him: "Occupation?"
                                                                                                                                                                The Israeli promptly replies: "No, just visiting!"

                                                                                                                                                                [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                Jokes helped them survive Israel's devastating military onslaught and are now making the post-war healing process a lot easier.

                                                                                                                                                                Anecdotes are to be found everywhere, in living rooms, text messages, television shows, emails and even blogs.

                                                                                                                                                                Amid sad stories about lost loved ones, destroyed homes and impoverished people who had to live in public schools, they joke about everything: Israelis, Americans, Arabs, but mostly they tell self-deprecating gags.

                                                                                                                                                                Three Hezbollah fighters run out of Beirut's southern suburbs after Israeli raids, flashing the victory sign. Actually, no. They were really pointing out that there were only two buildings left standing.

                                                                                                                                                                Why did rents go up in Ain el-Rummaneh district overlooking the southern suburbs? Because it has a sea view now!

                                                                                                                                                                Why are coquettish elderly Lebanese women very happy about the war? Because it took them back 30 years.

                                                                                                                                                                Why will Hassan Nasrallah, the Hezbollah chief, win the Nobel Prize for education? Because he is the only man who sent one million people to school in just two days.

                                                                                                                                                                Sarcasm

                                                                                                                                                                Israel's systematic destruction of bridges in the offensive launched after Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers on July 12 has also been a source of inspiration.

                                                                                                                                                                Olmert sent a commando operation deep into Lebanon. Mission: Capture Lebanese diva Fairuz.

                                                                                                                                                                He insists on finding the only bridge he did not destroy: An imaginary bridge evoked for decades in a romantic Fairuz aria.


                                                                                                                                                                The destruction has spawned
                                                                                                                                                                new Lebanese jokes

                                                                                                                                                                "On the bridge 'Lawziyeh' under the shade of the leaves," goes the song.

                                                                                                                                                                Early one day, a man rushes desperately to the dentist. "Please take out my bridge, or the Israelis will bomb it!"

                                                                                                                                                                Advertising agencies have also entered the game.

                                                                                                                                                                A gigantic black poster covers the entire side of a five-storey building: It shows the golden Johnnie Walker character with his top hat and waist coast blithely striding after leaping over a gap on a destroyed bridge.

                                                                                                                                                                Internet users are sharing a picture of Condoleezza Rice, the US secretary of state, in the arms of Nasrallah in light summer clothes, standing under the shade of palm trees at a sandy beach.

                                                                                                                                                                It is a parody of the "Axe Effect" attraction campaign by the namesake deodorant brand.

                                                                                                                                                                Jokes are also abundant about the Arabs.

                                                                                                                                                                After Saudi Arabia decided to donate half a billion dollars to rebuild Lebanon, Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian president, ordered the capture of six Israeli soldiers at the border.

                                                                                                                                                                Amid a mass evacuation of foreign nationals from Lebanon, Palestinian refugees who have been stranded in Lebanon for nearly 60 years are ecstatic: The Palestinian Authority has decided to evacuate its nationals as well.

                                                                                                                                                                But in a country that has repeatedly been invaded by Israel, the one joke everyone likes to tell remains:

                                                                                                                                                                An Israeli recently arrives at London's Heathrow airport. As he fills out a form, the customs officer asks him: "Occupation?"

                                                                                                                                                                The Israeli promptly replies: "No, just visiting!"

                                                                                                                                                                English Al Jazeera

                                                                                                                                                                558 words posted in Humor/SatireLeave a comment

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                                                                                                                                                                  from "Kamel Nasir's Last Poem"

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

                                                                                                                                                                  Kamel Nasir, Palestinian poet, was killed by an Israeli death squad that included former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak on April 10, 1973.

                                                                                                                                                                  The following is from "Kamel Nasir's Last Poem," translated by Abdel Wahab Elmesseri. The poem was written in 1961.

                                                                                                                                                                  [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                  Beloved, if perchance word of my death reaches you
                                                                                                                                                                  As, alone, you fondle my only child
                                                                                                                                                                  Eagerly awaiting my return,
                                                                                                                                                                  Shed no tears in sorrow for me
                                                                                                                                                                  For in my homeland
                                                                                                                                                                  Life is degradation and wounds
                                                                                                                                                                  And in my eyes the call of danger rings.
                                                                                                                                                                  Beloved, if word of my death reaches you
                                                                                                                                                                  And the lovers cry out:
                                                                                                                                                                  The loyal one has departed, his visage gone forever,
                                                                                                                                                                  And fragrance has died within the bosom of the flower
                                                                                                                                                                  Shed no tears...smile on life
                                                                                                                                                                  And tell my only one, my loved one,
                                                                                                                                                                  The dark recesses of your father's being
                                                                                                                                                                  Have been touched by visions of his people.
                                                                                                                                                                  Splintered thoughts bestowed his path
                                                                                                                                                                  As he witnessed the wounds of oppression.
                                                                                                                                                                  In revolt, he set himself a goal
                                                                                                                                                                  He became a martyr, sublimated his being
                                                                                                                                                                  even changed his prayers
                                                                                                                                                                  Deepened their features and improvised
                                                                                                                                                                  And in the long struggle his blood flowed
                                                                                                                                                                  His lofty vision unfolded shaking even destiny.
                                                                                                                                                                  If news reaches you, and friends come to you,
                                                                                                                                                                  Their eyes filled with cautious concern
                                                                                                                                                                  Smile to them in kindness
                                                                                                                                                                  For my death will bring life to all;
                                                                                                                                                                  My people's dreams are my shrine
                                                                                                                                                                  at which I pray, for which I live.
                                                                                                                                                                  The ecstacy of creation warms my being, shouting of joy,
                                                                                                                                                                  Filling me with love, as day follows day,
                                                                                                                                                                  Enveloping my struggling soul and body.
                                                                                                                                                                  Immortalized am I in the hearts of friends
                                                                                                                                                                  I live only in others' thoughts and memories.
                                                                                                                                                                  Beloved, if word reaches you and you fear for me
                                                                                                                                                                  Should you shudder and your cheeks grow pale
                                                                                                                                                                  As pale as the face of the moon,
                                                                                                                                                                  Allow it not to look upon you, nor
                                                                                                                                                                  feast on the beauty of your gaze
                                                                                                                                                                  For I am jealous of the light of the moon.
                                                                                                                                                                  Tell my only one, for I love him,
                                                                                                                                                                  That I have tasted the joy of giving
                                                                                                                                                                  And my heart relishes the wounds of sacrifice.
                                                                                                                                                                  There is nothing left for him
                                                                                                                                                                  Save the sighs from my song...Save the remnants of my lute
                                                                                                                                                                  Lying piled and scattered in our house.
                                                                                                                                                                  Tell my only one if he ever visits my grave
                                                                                                                                                                  And yearns for my memory,
                                                                                                                                                                  Tell him one day that I shall return
                                                                                                                                                                  --to pick the fruits.

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                                                                                                                                                                    Annan to Israel: End Lebanon blockade

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


                                                                                                                                                                    Annan (L) is visiting Israel to secure the truce

                                                                                                                                                                    The UN secretary general has called on Israel to end its air and sea blockade of Lebanon at the earliest.

                                                                                                                                                                    Arriving in Israel on Tuesday afternoon after visiting UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, Kofi Annan also blamed Israel for most of the violations of the fragile two-week-old truce that ended the war in Lebanon.

                                                                                                                                                                    [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                    Annan described the Israeli blockade a "humiliation and infringement on [Lebanon's] sovereignty", and suggested the blockade be lifted ""as soon as possible in order to allow Lebanon to go on with normal commercial activities and also rebuild its economy".

                                                                                                                                                                    Annan, who is visiting the region as part of his bid to secure full implementation of the UN Security Council resolution 1701, which brought about the truce, met Amir Peretz, the Israeli defence minister during the day.

                                                                                                                                                                    "I hope we can find a way to lift it," Peretz said about the blockade after meeting Annan.

                                                                                                                                                                    Blockade

                                                                                                                                                                    Israel has said it will only lift the blockade once it is assured that forces deployed on Lebanon's borders can prevent Hezbollah from importing new weapons to rearm itself for another round of fighting.

                                                                                                                                                                    Israel wants international forces to help patrol the Lebanon-Syria border to stop the arms flow. Lebanon has said that its troops would be able to secure the border on their own.

                                                                                                                                                                    "Israel will be happy to stop the sea and aerial blockade if we felt that the land crossings would not be the main smuggling routes," said Miri Eisen, the Israeli government spokeswoman.

                                                                                                                                                                    "Israel is certain that if there is no serious force to stop [smuggling], both Syria and Iran will continue to back, fund and arm Hezbollah in Lebanon."

                                                                                                                                                                    Violations

                                                                                                                                                                    Annan said Israel was responsible for most of the violations of the ceasefire and appealed for everyone to work together to ensure the peace holds and "not risk another explosion in six years or 20 years".

                                                                                                                                                                    "My hopes are that with the French deployment moving forward and with the Italians beginning on Friday, that we should be able to double relatively quickly the 2,500 men we have on the ground and move up to 5,000 so that the Israelis can withdraw," he said.

                                                                                                                                                                    Israel has said its troops will remain in southern Lebanon until a sufficiently strong contingent of Lebanese troops and international forces arrives to take control of the area.

                                                                                                                                                                    Peretz said Israel would pull troops from southern Lebanon once a "reasonable" number of UN soldiers had deployed but he did not give a figure.
                                                                                                                                                                    English Al Jazeera

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                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad offers Bush TV debate

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

                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad said the debate should be uncensored

                                                                                                                                                                      The Iranian president has challenged his US counterpart to a live television debate.

                                                                                                                                                                      [More:]

                                                                                                                                                                      Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made the offer to George Bush on Tuesday. Thursday is the deadline set by the UN Security Council for Iran to suspend all uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities, and Iran faces possible sanctions if it fails to comply.

                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad said: "I suggest we talk with Mr Bush, the president of the United States, in a live television debate about world issues and ways out of these standoffs.

                                                                                                                                                                      "We would voice our opinions and they would too. The debate should be uncensored, above all for the American public."

                                                                                                                                                                      The White House called the suggestion a "diversion" from the Thursday deadline and refused the invitation.

                                                                                                                                                                      Dana Perino, the White House spokeswoman, said: "Talk of a debate is just a diversion from the legitimate concerns that the international community, not just the US, has about Iran's behaviour, from support for terrorism to pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."

                                                                                                                                                                      Overtures

                                                                                                                                                                      Earlier this year Ahmadinejad sent Bush a letter, the first contact in decades between leaders of the two countries.

                                                                                                                                                                      But the Iranian president said that such a debate would not necessarily mean reopening dialogue with the United States, which froze diplomatic relations with Iran after the seizure of its embassy in Tehran in 1979.

                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad said: "Debate is different from dialogue, dialogue has other conditions, we have said our position on that before."

                                                                                                                                                                      But he said that dialogue was also possible with "the ones who show a frown to our nations if the conditions are fulfilled".

                                                                                                                                                                      Sanctions

                                                                                                                                                                      The Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency is to report to the Security Council, also on Thursday, on Iran's compliance with its demands.

                                                                                                                                                                      Iran has said repeatedly that it has no intention of abandoning its nuclear work, which it says is for civilian energy purposes only.

                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad said he believed that it was "unlikely" the Security Council would act against Iran over its nuclear programme, which the United States sees as a cover for weapons development.

                                                                                                                                                                      John Bolton, the American ambassador to the UN, has said the United States plans to put forward a draft resolution imposing penalties such as a travel ban and asset freeze for key Iranian leaders soon after the deadline.

                                                                                                                                                                      Ahmadinejad said: "Sanctions are not an issue ... We will not be happy if they use anything but logic but we are not worried. After all, we are capable of defending our rights."

                                                                                                                                                                      The Iranian president caused controversy last year when he described Israel as a tumour that should be "wiped off the map" and said he wanted the root of tensions in the Middle East to be "removed".

                                                                                                                                                                      English Al Jazeera

                                                                                                                                                                      448 words posted in Politics, WorldLeave a comment