Instead of adopting Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan which merely rearranges the chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic, we need a rescue plan for all those people who are currently losing their homes because of adjustable rate mortgages. All Paulson's plan does is to draw another flow chart showing who reports to whom. It does nothing to stop the foreclosure carnage.
We have recently seen the Fed guarantee JP Morgan some 30 billion dollars for any losses stemming from its plan to buy out Bear Stearns. Now we need help for those being foreclosed. A good start would be Barney Frank's plan to lower the amount that homeowners owe on their homes when their home equity declines below their mortgaged amount.
In the meanwhile, Bush and Paulson are just fiddling around while the hundreds of thousands of home-owning families are being thrown out into the street. The Fed committed money to the deal on Bear Stearns. The U.S. Treasury needs to commit money to stop the foreclosures of family homes.
Monday, March 31, 2008
Instead of adopting Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's plan which merely rearranges the chairs on the deck of the sinking Titanic, we need a rescue plan for all those people who are currently losing their homes because of adjustable rate mortgages. All Paulson's plan does is to draw another flow chart showing who reports to whom. It does nothing to stop the foreclosure carnage.
Sunday, March 30, 2008
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice says Israel has made an important concession to the Palestinians by agreeing to remove some 55 roadblocks. Griffe Witte writes in today's The Washington Post:
"Prodded by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Israel said Sunday that it would remove about 50 roadblocks in the West Bank as it moves ahead with faltering negotiations aimed at reaching a peace deal with the Palestinians by the end of the year.
"Rice called the announcement "a very good start" to improving Palestinians' freedom of movement in the West Bank, a key criteria in the peace process."
But there are at least 580 roadblocks put up by the Israelis to harass Palestinians and impede their movement. So Rice's achievement is to persuade the Israelis to remove less than 10%.
"But Palestinian leaders reacted far more cautiously, noting that Israel has promised to take down the internal West Bank barriers in the past but failed to follow through.
""We will believe it when we see it," said Saeb Erekat, a leading Palestinian negotiator. "I hope that this time, they will deliver."
"Erekat said the Palestinian Authority had not been told which roadblocks would be removed, or when it would happen.
"The West Bank is checkered by 580 roadblocks -- including checkpoints, barbed wire, concrete barriers, dirt mounds and trenches -- that Israel says are needed to guarantee security but that the Palestinians consider devastating to their economic well-being."
If Rice were successful with the Israelis on the question of roadblocks, we would be talking about removing all of them instead of just 10%. Removing 50 roadblocks cannot be called "success."
Saturday, March 29, 2008
How could Ethiopian troops shell a Mogadishu market? This is outright genocide. The Ethiopians knew what they were firing at - civilians, children, people shopping for their daily provisions.
The BBC reports:
"At least 10 people have died and many have been hurt as Ethiopian forces backing the Somali government shelled Mogadishu's main market, witnesses say."
Several comments. One. The Ethiopians have no right to be in Somalia. They are clearly an invading army. The Somalis don't want them. They have no business being in Mogadishu.
Second. The only reason the Ethiopians are fighting local people in Mogadishu is because of Bush and Cheney. When the Islamic Courts took over in December 2006, Bush and Cheney could not tolerate that Somalia had an Islamic government. So they persuaded the Ethiopians to invade and re-take the government for the non-Islamic families. So we have Ethiopians fighting for George Bush and Dick Cheney. The result has been disaster and carnage for many hundreds of thousands Somalis living in Mogadishu.
Friday, March 28, 2008
For all of George Bush's triumphant nonsense on how the Iraqi Army is taking it upon itself to fight the "criminal" elements in Basra and throughout the rest of Iraq, we learn today from The Washington Post that the U.S. Army has taken over the fighting.
Sudarsan Raghavan and Sholnn Freeman report:
"U.S. forces in armored vehicles battled Mahdi Army fighters Thursday in the vast Shiite stronghold of Sadr City and military officials said Friday that U.S. aircraft bombed militant positions in the southern city of Basra, as the American role in a campaign against party-backed militias appeared to expand. Iraqi army and police units appeared to be largely holding to the outskirts of the Sadr City fighting, as American troops took the lead.
"Four U.S. Stryker armored vehicles were seen in Sadr City by a Washington Post correspondent, one of them engaging Mahdi Army militiamen with heavy fire. The din of American weapons, along with the Mahdi Army's AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades, was heard through much of the day. U.S. helicopters and drones buzzed overhead.
"The clashes suggested that American forces were being drawn more deeply into a broad offensive that Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, a Shiite, launched in the southern city of Basra on Tuesday, saying death squads, criminal gangs and rogue militias were the targets. The Mahdi Army of cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, a Shiite rival of Maliki, appeared to have taken the brunt of the attacks; fighting spread to many southern cities and parts of Baghdad."
So much for the Bush spin that the surge was allowing Iraqis themselves to maintain civil society and the rule of law. The whole offensive by the Iraqi Army against the Mahdi Army in Basra was flawed and poorly thought out. It might cause the whole of Iraq to break out into civil war. Furthermore, lots of personnel in the Iraqi Army are themselves Shiites and have relatives in Basra. How can they possibly be expected to fight and kill their own relatives and co-religionists? We all know Bush and Cheney pressured Al Maliki to begin military action against the Sadr militias in Basra. Maliki and the Iraqi Army are merely surrogates for Bush and the U.S. military.
Write Raghavan and Freeman:
"As President Bush told an Ohio audience that Iraq was returning to "normalcy," administration officials in Washington held meetings to assess what appeared to be a rapidly deteriorating security situation in many parts of the country.
"American forces were involved in approximately a dozen firefights on Thursday in Baghdad alone, with fighting spread across six neighborhoods, according to information released by the U.S. military Friday morning. U.S. ground patrols in areas like Kadhamiyah and New Baghdad repeatedly came under attack from small arms fire and rocket-propelled grenades, responding with their own weapons and in one case calling in helicopter support. In that incident, the helicopter fired a hellfire missile into a group of militants that had attacked U.S. troops manning a checkpoint in Kadhamiyah, killing three of them. When the militants renewed their attack, the helicopter returned and killed 10 more using a 30mm gun, according to a U.S. military release.
In all, U.S. troops killed 42 in Thursday's Baghdad fighting, a sign of their growing engagement in the Iraqi-designed offensive."
Thursday, March 27, 2008
The Arab Summit scheduled to begin in Damascus faces the possibility that it will be deemed ineffective because the heads of Egypt and Saudi Arabia will not be attending. Apparently there is a disagreement among Arab leaders on Syria's role in Lebanon and its politics.
But permeating the whole disagreement is the suspicion that the United States and George Bush have been doing everything possible to sabotage the meeting. For one thing, Bush hates Syria and its leader. Secondly, Bush thinks Syria is in league with Iran, a country and people he hates even more. There is no end in imagining what Bush would do to create the impression that the Arab Summit is a failure.
These suspicions, I am sure, are rampant in the Arab world. After all, the trouble we see now in the world is due to Bush, Cheney and Rice and their machinations and interferences. Consider the carnage in Mogadishu where Bush sent in the Ethiopians to defeat the Islamic Courts in Somalia. Consider the fighting now raging in Basra where Bush goaded Al Maliki to send in the Iraqi troops to eliminate the Sadr forces Bush claims are allied with Teheran. Consider the cooling off of relations between North and South Korea where the U.S. forces of darkness surely have spurred the new South Korean conservative regime into taking a hard line on North Korea's policies. And don't forget about Colombia where Uribe's recent illegal raid into Ecuador to kill FARC members shows U.S. influence and support of Bush and Cheney.
Where ever there is fighting and conflict in the world, Bush surely has his fingerprints.
Wednesday, March 26, 2008
The BBC reports on impending catastrophe in Mogadishu as a result of street fighting between Ethiopian troops and Somali Islamists.
""It continues to deteriorate by the day," the UN refugee agency's Guillermo Bettocchi told the BBC.
""There are no signs of improvement on the ground, and those who are suffering the brunt of the conflict are the civilians, who are being either killed or displaced, and are in the middle of suffering that is unacceptable," he said.
""In terms of child malnutrition, access to education, lack of access to clean water and sanitation facilities, indeed the situation in Somalia is the worst in the world . . . to be a child in Somalia today is something that means lots of suffering and a grim future.""
Once again we have American interference in the inner political workings of a country that has caused this catastrophe. George Bush and Dick Cheney were so fearful of an Islamic government in Somalia that they encouraged Ethiopia to illegally send in its army into Mogadishu. Ethiopia is predominantly Christian, Somalia predominantly Moslem. Ethiopia's actions are those of a Christian invader in an Islamic country. Besides ethnic differences, the religious chasm spawns hatred on both sides for the other.
Ethiopia should get out of Somalia, and leave residents of Mogadishu themselves to decide who they want as their political leaders. And George Bush and Dick Cheney should cease interfering and meddling in the internal affairs of another sovereign state.
Monday, March 24, 2008
The BBC reports that Gen. David Petraeus is accusing Iran of supplying the rockets and training the militants who attacked the Green Zone yesterday, the home of all the U.S. diplomats and big-shot military attaches.
Writes the BBC:
"The most senior US general in Iraq has said he has evidence that Iran was behind Sunday's bombardment of Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.
"Gen David Petraeus told the BBC he thought Tehran had trained, equipped and funded insurgents who fired the barrage of mortars and rockets."
Where and when have we heard accusations of this nature before? Think of Iraq having WMD. Yet the U.S. and these generals never produce any credible evidence of Iran's involvement. They say they have the "evidence," but nobody ever gets to examine it. They expect the world to believe them just because they say it. Just like Bush expected the world to go along with his "evidence" that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, and was an imminent "threat."
I don't believe anything Bush says, or anything that his hand-picked generals, such as David Petraeus, say. I want to see the "evidence" that they say they have. I want to know how they know that Iran "provided" the rockets and "trained" the insurgents. Until they provide credible evidence, I refuse to believe them and doubt that Iranian government is involved.
Dick Cheney on his last day in the Middle East claims that the obstruction to a peace accord between Israel and the Palestinians is Hamas. Furthermore, Cheney claims Iran and Syria are supporting Hamas because they don't want to see peace in the region. This sounds like a lot of bull, of the same type as the assertion that there was proof that Saddam Hussein was forging an alliance with Al Qaeda, used by Bush and Cheney as a prelude to the invasion of Iraq.
The BBC reports:
"US Vice-President Dick Cheney has said Palestinian militant group Hamas, along with Iran and Syria, is trying to torpedo the Middle East peace process."
Recall that Hamas was democratically elected by the Palestinians in January 2007. Yet Bush and Cheney term it a "terrorist organization" because Israel considers it that. As a result, both the U.S. and Israel refuse to deal withHamas in any prospective agreement. No wonder that Hamas is not in sync with Abu Mazen in making a deal with Israel and its surrogate, the United States.
The real block to a peace accord is Israel which continues to allow settlements in the occupied territories. More and more land belonging to Palestinians is illegally usurped by Israeli settlers at the point of a gun. Jimmy Carter talked about "apartheid" in his book on the Israeli-Palestinian discord. How about "ethnic cleansing"? Building Israeli settlements on land seized from the Palestinians during the 1967 War smacks of ethnic cleansing and is illegal and unjustified.
Cheney tries to further demonize Iran and Syria in the conflict. He claims these two countries back the "terrorists." How about all the other Islamic countries in the Middle East? Is there any country that does not back Hamas? Is there any country in that region that supports Israel? If Cheney wants to condemn supporters of Hamas, he should apportion a lot of it to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, erstwhile allies of the U.S.
Finally we have the release of the Pakistani judges detained by Gen. Pervez Musharraf. The BBC reports that the new prime minister, Yusuf Raza Gillani, just ordered the judges to be freed:
"New Pakistani Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gillani has ordered the release of all judges detained under emergency rule, minutes after being elected by MPs.
"President Pervez Musharraf sacked dozens of judges in November and former chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry was among those still held."
Musharraf had the judges, including Chief Justice Chaudhry, kicked out of office and arrested when they would not go along with his scheme to run for office at the same time that he was still an active general in the Pakistani Army.
Musharraf thought the Pakistani constitution did not apply to him. He apparently thought himself above the provisions of the constitution. Thus he got rid of the "messengers" or judges who would not rule in his favor.
Finally we get a return to constitutional law in Pakistan. Gillani, the new prime minister, made it a point in his party's quest for election that he would free the judges and return the constitutional rule of law. And this in spite of the cynical position of Bush and the U.S. in urging Musharraf not to back down on the judges.
Sunday, March 23, 2008
This was an especially violent day in Iraq. The Washington Post reports at least 57 dead in various attacks. There were even mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone, the safe haven for American diplomats.
Robert H. Reid of the AP writes in The WashPo:
"Rockets and mortars pounded Baghdad's U.S.-protected Green Zone Sunday and a suicide car bomber struck an Iraqi army post in the northern city of Mosul in a surge of attacks that killed at least 57 people nationwide.
"The latest violence underscored the fragile security situation and the resilience of both Sunni and Shiite extremist groups as the war enters its sixth year and the U.S. death toll in the conflict approaches 4,000."
The violence undercuts the argument of George Bush and John McCain's and others that the surge is working. The surge was supposed to eliminate the daily rockets, mortars and car bombs, and make Iraq a livable country where people could go out to the markets and parks unafraid of being caught up in meaningless violence. Even the bastion of safety, the Green Zone, is a target for the attacks.
"In Baghdad, rockets and mortars began slamming into the Green Zone about sunrise, and scattered attacks persisted throughout the day, sending plumes of smoke rising over the heavily guarded district in the heart of the capital.
"A U.S. public address system in the Green Zone warned people to "duck and cover" and to stay away from windows.
"At least five people were injured in the Green Zone, a U.S. Embassy statement said without specifying nationalities. The zone includes the U.S. and British embassies as well as major Iraqi government offices.
"A U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorized to release the information, said those injured included an American and four third-country nationals, meaning they were not American, British or Iraqi."
Saturday, March 22, 2008
When Dick Cheney spends a week travelling around the Middle East, nothing good can result. The last time Cheney was on the same rounds was just before the United States invaded Iraq. Now he is at it again.
Combined with the recent dismissal of Admiral Fallon, who expressed dislike of any attack against Iran, the Cheney trip could be seen as a harbinger of war against Iran. This would be even more disastrous than Bush's invasion of Iraq. Iran would harbor enmity and resentment against the U.S. and all Americans for the next 500 years. The Middle East would remain in perpetual turmoil. Israel would be even more threatened by Islam. Everything would get worse.
Friday, March 21, 2008
George Bush seems intent on demonizing Iran and Iranians. Yesterday he opined that Iran has expressed its intentions on developing an nuclear weapon and using it to kill its enemies. Robin Wright writes in today's The Washington Post:
"President Bush said Thursday that Iran has declared that it wants to be a nuclear power with a weapon to "destroy people," including others in the Middle East, contradicting the judgments of a recent U.S. intelligence estimate."
Where is Bush coming up with this paranoia? The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate came to the conclusion that Iran stopped a weapons development program at least five years ago in 2003. Yet Bush, and also Dick Cheney, continue to insist that Iran poses a dangerous nuclear threat.
"They've declared they want to have a nuclear weapon to destroy people -- some in the Middle East. And that's unacceptable to the United States, and it's unacceptable to the world," Bush told U.S.-funded Radio Farda, which broadcasts into Iran in Farsi."
It looks like Bush is merely parroting the hard-line neo-con Israel view that Iran must be destroyed. Iran supports Hezbollah in Lebanon with money and contributions, no doubt because Hezbollah consists of fellow Shiites, in contrast to the majority of the Arab world which is Sunni. Hezbollah has made no secret of its animosity towards Israel. Thus Iran becomes in Israel eyes a serious "enemy."
But American military and intelligence analysts dispute Bush's point that Iran is developing or wants to develop a nuclear weapon.
Robin Wright reports:
"Experts on Iran and nuclear proliferation said the president's statement was wrong. "That's as uninformed as [Sen. John] McCain's statement that Iran is training al-Qaeda. Iran has never said it wanted a nuclear weapon for any reason. It's just not true. It's a little troubling that the president and the leading Republican candidate are both so wrong about Iran," said Joseph Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation.
"Others said it is unclear whether the president believes what he said or was deliberately distorting Iran's position.
""The Iranian government is on the record across the board as saying it does not want a nuclear weapon. There's plenty of room for skepticism about these assertions. But it's troubling for the administration to indicate that Iran is explicitly embracing the program as a means of destroying another country," said Suzanne Maloney, an Iran specialist at the State Department until last year and now at the Brookings Institution's Saban Center."
Wednesday, March 19, 2008
Finally, finally, someone in the U.S. State Department is coming to realize that there can be no peace between Israel and the Palestinians until Hamas is allowed in to the negotiations. Helene Cooper writes today for The New York Times:
"After ruling out talks with Hamas, the militant Islamist group, the Bush administration is using Egypt as an intermediary to open a channel between Israel and representatives of the group, in what some diplomats say could be a softening of the American stance.
"While administration officials still say they do not plan to deal directly with Hamas, the United States has given tacit support to an attempt by Egyptian officials to mediate a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas, which controls Gaza.
"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice discussed the mediation attempt with President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit in Cairo early this month, and with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel, administration officials said. Egyptian civilian intelligence officials are the go-betweens, Arab diplomats said."
Palestinians freely chose Hamas in 2006 to represent them in self-rule. Nevertheless, George W. Bush, who loudly proclaims how much freedom and democracy are gifts of God, was taken back by the voting results. He refused to accept Hamas, claiming it was a "terrorist" organization. He demanded that it first accept Israel. The result has been an increasing dangerous and volatile situation between Israel and the Palestinians, marked with frequent clashes, rocket attacks, missile assassinations and Israeli military incursions into Gaza for the purpose of killing militant Palestinians.
Hamas must be recognized and brought into any negotiations. The demand that Hamas recognize Israel de jure must be dropped in favor of the de facto recognition that Hamas would accord simply by being at the negotiation table with Israel.
Israel must stop calling Hezbollah and Hamas "terrorist organizations." That term is merely an obstacle to any discussion or negotiation between Israelis and Palestinians. We all know that a "terrorist organization" for one side is invariably a group of liberating patriots for the other. Both sides must begin working with each other on the creation of ways to coexist without shooting missiles, rockets and bombs.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
White America apparently is shocked, shocked I say, by comments of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, former pastor of Barack Obama's church in Illinois. But what has Wright said that is off base? Here are some of his quotes as provided in an AP story in The Washington Post:
" In a 2003 sermon, he said blacks should condemn the United States:
""The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes a three-strike law and then wants us to sing 'God Bless America.' No, no, no, God damn America, that's in the Bible for killing innocent people. God damn America for treating our citizens as less than human. God damn America for as long as she acts like she is God and she is supreme.""
So what is wrong with Wright's assertion. Has America killed innocent people? Go no further than Harry Truman ordering the Enola Gay to drop a nuclear device on Hiroshima. More than 100,000 women, children and innocent civilians were incinerated that day.
Here is another quote from the AP story:
"In a sermon after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001:
""We bombed Hiroshima, we bombed Nagasaki, and we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye," Wright said. "We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans, and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back to our own front yards. America's chickens are coming home to roost."
Wright does not minimize the terrible loss of life in the Trade Centers on September 11th. But what he does do is to draw attention to the militaristic policy of the United States in fighting a war almost every 10 years. Wright also points out the de facto discrimination against Palestinians by Israel and the injustice against blacks in South Africa.
Here is the last quote from the AP:
"Promoting Obama's candidacy in a sermon last December:
"Barack knows what it means to be a black man to be living in a country and a culture that is controlled by rich white people. Hillary can never know that. Hillary ain't never been called a nigger." "
Please tell me what Wright says here that is so objectionable. Americans adopted slavery in the 17th Century or earlier and slavery has been part and parcel of life in many areas of the United States long after it was abolished by the Thirteenth Amendment in 1865. It is a central dominating fact for descendants of slaves. Those of us not in this category can hardly grasp the emotional, social and economic effects that still linger.
Monday, March 17, 2008
CHENEY SAYS U.S. "LIBERATED" IRAQ PEOPLE, DOESN'T MENTION 600,000+ IRAQI CIVILIANS KILLED AS A RESULT
So Vice President Dick Cheney is in Baghdad holding classified briefings with U.S. military generals. Apparently the VP sees lots of progress in Iraq, even extending to the Al Maliki government's political development.
The BBC reports on Cheney's trip:
"After a meeting with Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki, Mr Cheney said it was significant to be in Iraq five years after a campaign "that liberated the people of Iraq from Saddam Hussein's tyranny and launched them on the difficult but historic road to democracy"."
Cheney's statement shows how hard these guys try to justify the immoral war they started some five years ago tomorrow. Bush and Cheney invaded Iraq, but they claim they did it only to liberate the people of Iraq. Even Hitler said the same thing when he invaded Poland. And Stalin repeated the same shibboleth when he invaded the Baltics.
Of course, what Cheney omits to mention is the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians killed by American bombs and bullets in the course of this invasion. I wonder what families of Iraqi children who have been killed, shot, blinded and maimed would say if they heard George Bush or Dick Cheney try to justify their military invasion by talking about "liberation"?
Sunday, March 16, 2008
We get reports today that the U.S. has fired several missiles into some village in South Waziristan, killing at least 16 people. The question is, how many of these killed were children? How many were women? How many were unsuspecting civilians just going about their daily lives?
The BBC reports:
"At least 16 people have been killed in a missile strike on a building near Pakistan's northern border with Afghanistan, state television has said. The attack took place in the South Waziristan region, where tribal militants are based, Reuters news agency reported residents as saying. The Pakistani state TV report said several missiles destroyed the house of a suspected militant leader. . . ."
The BBC reports that the Pakistan military says at least nine were civilians. It quotes Reuters:
"Reuters reported the military saying seven militants were among the dead.
""Initial reports suggest militants were hiding there and seven of them were killed and several wounded," an unnamed military official told the news agency."
This seems to be the modus operandi of Bush and his U.S. military. Shoot missiles, drop bombs and send in war planes. The heck with how many civilians die.
This raid is illegal on at least two counts.
First, under international law, the United States is not allowed to strike another country or violate another country's sovereignty. Firing a missile into some rural village in Pakistan clearly clearly violates this law.
Second. Under the Geneva Convention, the U.S. is not allowed to directly kill civilians in its attempt to kill militants. Here shooting a missile into someone's home is bound to kill civilians, especially children. This is just as illegal and immoral as the U.S. carpet-bombing Dresden in 1945, killing over 100,000 civilians.
No wonder the people in South Waziristan as well as most other people throughout the world detest the United States and its militaristic foreign policy.
Saturday, March 15, 2008
Today there will be many public protests against the War in Iraq as we approach the fifth anniversary of its start on March 19, 2003. George Bush keeps repeating that he has no doubts or qualms over his decision to send U.S. troops and war planes into Iraq.
Yet today on BBC Radio, listeners heard stories of the lesser known casualties of the war. Someone shot a five-year-old Iraqi boy in the neck soon after the war began. He is now paralyzed from the neck down. U.S. soldiers shot a ten-year-old Iraqi child in the head when his father misunderstood an order from U.S. soldiers to stop. He is now blind and mentally incapacitated.
These wounds are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to "collateral damage." How can George Bush be glad he did what he did when he started the war in view of all the civilians and children killed, maimed or grievously wounded as a result? Has Bush no humanity? Does he merely shrug off any awareness of the terrible human calamity he has caused? Are wounded and blinded children just an unfortunate by-product?
Thursday, March 13, 2008
Which is the most delusional and neo-con? The Bush regime or Israel's Olmert? Both seem to think they can solve all problems with bombs and missiles. Another similar trait is that they both want to kill the news messenger when they don't like the message.
The BBC reports that the Israel government is boycotting Al Jazeera because it thinks that its news is slanted.
"Israel has announced a boycott of the Arabic broadcaster al-Jazeera, accusing it of bias during coverage of the conflict in the Gaza Strip. Ministers will refuse to do interviews and will deny visa applications from its staff, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Majali Wahbe said. He accused the Qatari-owned station of prioritising Palestinian suffering."
Where have we heard this before? From Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld. They did not appreciate Al Jazeera's reporting from Iraq which showed the suffering and injuries to the civilian Iraqi population caused by U.S. missiles, bombs and U.S. troop rampages. Maybe this was the reason why several Al Jazeera reporters were killed by U.S. soldiers, the Baghdad office of Al Jazeera was targeted by a U.S. bomb, and an Al Jazeera photographer remains locked up in Guantanamo for the last five years without trial or charges.
Now it is Israeli government's turn to deny the Al Jazeera message. Reports the BBC:
"Israeli officials backed their claim by saying al-Jazeera had covered the Gaza incursion but not the Palestinian rocket attacks against the Israeli city of Ashkelon. . . .
"Bureau chief Walid al-Omari argued that his reporters had covered a Palestinian shooting attack in Jerusalem last week in which eight Israelis were killed. Israel is trying to "intimidate al-Jazeera to influence our coverage", Mr Omari said. "We are not the ones who launch rockets at Israel, and we are not the ones who send F-16s to bomb Gaza," he added. "
Press censorship of Al Jazeera did not work when called for by Bush and his gang. It won't work either this time when embraced by Olmert or his neo-con government. The whole world can see what is going on. America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, imprisons and tortures suspects. Israel, the one democracy in the Middle East, sends in war planes and tanks against a civilian Palestinian population.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
If I were Eliot Spitzer's attorney, I would have advised him not to resign as governor of the State of New York. Why? Because the electorate most probably would have been sympathetic if Spitzer would have "pleaded" mental illness. I realize this would be little help for him in the face of criminal charges, but my feeling is the authorities would not have charged him with any crime. Forget about bringing charges under the 1910 Mann Act which makes it a felony to transport women across state lines for purposes of prostitution. There have been no cases brought under this statute in years. And to charge Spitzer for concealing his payments by sending money to intermediary accounts would have been weak. Spitzer sent his money where the prostitution service directed.
So absent any criminal charges, why did Eliot Spitzer resign? I speak as if I were Spitzer's lawyer. I would have suggested that he clearly admit mental illness at his press conference today, ask for some sabbatical time to place himself in a psychiatric hospital for several months, and place himself upon the public's mercy. If he had been stricken with a physical illness, I am sure the public would feel sympathetic. A mental illness should elicit equal sympathy.
Here's a man who was elected attorney general of NY, who prosecuted various financial crimes, who sued Dick Grasso, former head of the New York Stock Exchange for taking unreasonable compensation (150 million) from a non-profit organization, and who also led the prosecution of several prostitution rings. To see him thereafter frequent a prostitution service is beyond belief. In other words, Eliot Spitzer is sick, mentally sick. And for that reason, it was a political mistake to resign.
The typical modus operandi of George Bush and Dick Cheney is to rain down missiles and drop bombs. These militarists still have some 10 months in office. We should all be worried about their irresponsible war mongering, especially when it comes to the U.S. attacking Iran.
For the same reason that I abhor the Bush pre-emptive war doctrine, I also condemn Israel for trying to solve the Palestinian question with tanks and helicopters. The latest Israeli incursion into Gaza last week killed over 100 Palestinians, many of whom were children shot by Israeli snipers. This is not the way to achieve piece in Israel and the surrounding territories but it is the way to keep the Israeli-Palestinian war going for the next 200 years.
We have seen the Bush doctrine also adopted by Alvaro Uribe and Colombianos. Instead of negotiating with FARC, the revolutionary group controlling much of Colombia's rural areas, Uribe wants to kill them all. Witness Colombia's illegal military foray into the jungles of Ecuador last week that killed some 18 FARC members while they slept, including four Mexican university students who were studying the revolutionary movement up close. This militaristic move by Uribe effectively killed the program of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, to secure the release of FARC hostages, especially ailing Ingrid Betancourt, former candidate for presidency of Colombia. This action shows what Uribe and many Colombianos really want is the death of FARC members, and to hell with the release of the hostages. I condemn Uribe. This is not the way to solve Colombia's problems with FARC. It is the way that Bush and Cheney would take. Surely they encouraged Uribe to illegally cross into Ecuador and kill FARC members.
Tuesday, March 11, 2008
Esquire Magazine recently published an article predicting that Admiral William Fallon would resign before the summer as CENTCOM chief in charge of Iraq and Afghanistan. Fallon was determined to resist an attack against Iran and publicly let it be known that he would oppose such a move. Today we get word of his forced resignation from Defense Secretary Gates.
The BBC web page reports:
"The commander of US forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, Admiral William Fallon, is to retire from his post early. He cited the "embarrassing situation and public perception of differences between my views and administration policy" as the reason for retiring. He was the subject of a recent article by Esquire magazine, which said he was opposed to the use of force against Iran over its nuclear programme. The 63-year-old admiral became head of the US Central Command a year ago. "
This is an ominous and unwelcomed resignation. Without Fallon, there is nothing to stop those war mongers, Bush and Cheney, from bombing Iran. Even though they have less than one year in office, these militarists could still cause irreparable damage to the United States, not to mention Iran and its people.
Put Fallon's resignation together with a forthcoming trip of Cheney to Israel and Saudi Arabia and we can easily imagine a doomsday scenario for Iran and its neighbors. Bombing Iran would cause a war lasting at least 100 years. It would set Shia against Sunni in a Middle East conflagration. It would make the U.S. the enemy of Iran for generations.
Bush and Cheney must no be allowed in mounting an attack against Iran. We must stop the madmen.
Monday, March 10, 2008
It looks like the new coalition in Pakistan will soon re-instate the judges dismissed illegally by Gen. Pervez Musharraf last year. The BBC reports:
"The leaders of the two parties that won Pakistan's elections have signed an agreement on a coalition government. Asif Ali Zardari, widower of ex-premier Benazir Bhutto, and ex-PM Nawaz Sharif called on President Pervez Musharraf to convene parliament immediately. February's parliamentary elections delivered a crushing defeat to parties loyal to President Pervez Musharraf. Mr Musharraf has urged the incoming government to leave politics aside and concentrate on good governance. The coalition deal will bring together the Pakistan People's Party, which was led by Benazir Bhutto until her assassination, and the PML(N) party of Mr Sharif. "
This is a significant defeat for Musharraf and for George Bush. The U.S. government wanted to keep Musharraf in power. It even went so far as to advise him not to reinstate the judges. Recall that when the Pakistani Supreme Court was set to rule against allowing an army general such as Musharraf to run for civil office, Musharraf dismissed Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry and the rest of the court. Musharraf also sent the police to beat up lawyers protesting Musharraf's violation of the Pakistani Constitution.
Reports the BBC:
"All the sacked judges will be reinstated via a parliamentary resolution passed within 30 days of forming a new government. That appears to mean that the chief justice will get back his job, in defiance of Mr Musharraf's strong objections, our correspondent says."
Saturday, March 8, 2008
Who is this medieval torturer that we have in the White House? Today George Bush vetoes a bill that would ban the CIA from using methods of torture, such as waterboarding, sleep deprivation, forced standing for long hours, and similar harsh methods.
Until the French Enlightenment in the 18th Century, all of these techniques were common. The Inquisition, harshest in Spain and Portugal, but existing all throughout Europe, made use of these same interrogation techniques.
Look what U.S. president George W. Bush has done! He has made the United States a pariah among all civilized nations by reintroducing these methods of torture that the whole civilized world rejects and bans. Bush has made America the Torturer of the World. How long will it take for the U.S. to recover from this reputation?
Friday, March 7, 2008
The lead story on the Spanish language TV stations such as Univision continues to be about how Latin and South American nations respond to the invasion of Ecuador by Colombia. Colombia flouted international law in its zeal to kill members of the FARC, the Colombian insurgency group. Recall that last weekend, Colombia sent its armed forces into Ecuador to bomb a FARC camp. The raid left about 16 FARC members dead, including FARC number two leader, Raul Reyes. This is a big story, notwithstanding TV stations and networks in the U.S. all but ignoring it.
Just yesterday, Nicaragua broker off diplomatic relations with Colombia. About the only country in the Western Hemisphere to support Colombia and its embattled president Alvaro Uribe is the United States. Everyone agrees Colombia's foray was illegal and dangerous. No matter how much Colombia and Uribe wanted to capture or kill FARC members, Colombia had no right under international law to cross the border into Ecuador which lies just to its south.
Of course, there is plenty of precedent for this violation of national sovereignty. Consider Israel's invasion of Lebanon last summer. Or take the recent firing of U.S. missiles onto some small village in Somalia. Or the best example: Bush and the United States invading Iraq.
No wonder the U.S. supports Colombia in the raid. Colombia just did what the U.S. has been doing all along in invading other countries illegally. The Bush administration tries to paper over the violation of Ecuador's borders. As to international law, U.S. State Department spokesmen all but ignore it.
Thursday, March 6, 2008
The New York Times today has an editorial on the recent intrusion of armed forces of Colombia into Ecuador. This clearly violated international law. One country cannot legally invade another, even if the intrusion was only a mile or two. However the NY Times seems to believe that Hugo Chavez and Venezuela are meddlesome interlopers:
"Venezuela — whose territory wasn’t violated — jumped in. President Hugo Chávez, who thrives on such crises, expelled Colombia’s ambassador, ordered forces to his border and threatened to block trade. Colombia then accused both Venezuela and Ecuador of aiding and abetting the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, the guerrilla group known as FARC. . . .
"Mr. Chávez should just keep quiet. The more he meddles, the easier it is to believe that the charges against him are true."
In this case, the background is most important for a correct understanding of the role of Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela. Venezuela borders Colombia on the north and Ecuador borders Colombia on the south. Hugo Chavez has been instrumental in freeing at least six hostages taken prisoner by the Colombian insurgence, the FARC. These hostages have been in captivity in Colombian jungles, many of them for over six years. Colombia and its U.S. backed president, Alvaro Uribe, seem more intent on killing members of the FARC than securing the release of the hostages. One of thee hostages not freed is Ingrid Betancourt, both a citizen of France and Colombia, and a candidate for Colombian presidency until she was kidnapped several years ago.
The hostage crisis forms the backdrop to the Colombian raid on a FARC camp inside of Ecuador. The Colombians killed 18 FARC members with a late night raid, including FARC # 2 officer, Raul Reyes. Given Colombia's propensity to refuse to negotiate with FARC, and in light of the recent freeing of six hostages through the personal intervention of Venezuelan president, Hugo Chavez, what does the raid say about the FARC hostages still not released?
Colombia has in effect said that it does not care about the hostages still in captivity. It is going to kill all members of the FARC that it can, to hell with the hostages or their families or their release. Furthermore, this is a way that Alvaro Uribe can oppose Hugo Chavez after being shown up by Chavez for not making the release of the hostages a priority of the Colombian government.
Instead of calling Chavez an outside busybody, the NY Times should commend the efforts of President Hugo Chavez for securing the release of FARC hostages up till now. Hugo Chavez was well on his way to secure the freedom of many more, including Ingrid Betancourt. Now in light of the foolish Colombian raid, it is doubtful that the FARC will release any more. No wonder Hugo Chavez felt compelled to condemn Uribe and Colombia. In criticizing Chavez, the NY Times missed the whole import of the altruistic Chavez involvement.
Wednesday, March 5, 2008
To think than Condoleeza Rice is going to convince the Palestinians to reconvene peace talks with Israel and prime minister Olmert is beyond comprehension, in view of the fact that the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have just killed over 100 Palestinians in Gaza, including some 30 children.
Imagine how you would feel if your child ended up with a bullet fired by the IDF? Would you feel kindly disposed towards Israel? Or would you forever remember that Israel caused the death of your son or daughter?
I realize that Israel wants to stop Palestinians shooting missiles into neighboring Israeli towns. However, that does not justify Olmert sending in the IDF to use disproportional force and to kill Palestinians indiscriminately. Has Israel and Olmert ever heard of the laws of War or the Geneva Convention? Or do all rules go out the window when it comes to the Palestinians?
Tuesday, March 4, 2008
I am amazed by George Bush's lame defense of Alvaro Uribe and Colombia for their intrusion into Ecuador and their killing of some 17 FARC rebels making camp in Ecuador territory.
Bush apparently has no sense of international law. One country is not allowed to enter and bomb another country when it wishes. That's the whole concept of sovereignty. Imagine what Americans would say if Mexico sent helicopters to attack rebels who were on the U.S. side of the border. But Bush throughout his seven years has shown himself to be as capable as Uribe in violating borders of other countries. Just two days ago, Bush had the U.S. Navy shoot a missile into some small village in Somalia. How's that for respecting sovereignty of other nations?
Just because Colombia wanted to kill FARC rebels is no justification for its invasion of Ecuador. The end cannot and does not justify the means.
We can all forget about securing the release of Ingrid Betancourt, the most famous hostage currently being held captive by the FARC. The same for the other dozens of hostages now currently being held. But upon reflection, it is clear Colombia and Uribe don't really care about Colombian hostages. All they care about is waging war upon the FARC and killing FARC members.
Monday, March 3, 2008
Why must the United States fire a missile against a small town in Somalia? Doesn't the U.S. Navy know it is going to kill women and children and innocent civilians when it does so.? This shows how extreme U.S. foreign policy has become. Bush and Cheney believe there are terrorists in some backwater Somali town, so they order the U.S.Navy to fire a missile. This is crazy but it is also obscene.
Bush and Cheney think they can drop bombs and fire missiles against people who have no idea why a superpower is trying to kill them.
Mohamed Olad Hassan of the AP writes today in The Washington Post:
"Residents and police in Dobley said at least eight people, including four children, were seriously injured when a home was destroyed. The attack was confirmed by U.S. officials, who said only that the target was a "known al-Qaida terrorist.""
Those U.S. officials who say that the target was a known terrorist have no idea of what they speak. Why don't they identify the "terrorist"? I assume they have no certainty on who and what is the target. And why don't they respect international law and not attack citizens of a sovereign entity?
Instead Bush and Cheney decide to shoot first and ask questions later. This is unacceptable both for the Somali women and children who were incinerated as well as for the United States itself which makes itself hated by people in the Third World.
Sunday, March 2, 2008
Today, Iranian president Ahmadinejad visited Baghdad and met with Iraqi leaders. He is going to stay the night in Baghdad and then leave to return to Teheran tomorrow.
Compare Ahmadinejad's visit with Bush's clandestine stops. Bush never once stayed overnight in Iraq. If Bush is the great liberator, then Bush seems overly concerned with his own personal safety when he slinks in and out of Iraq. If Iran and Ahmadinejad are the enemies, how come Iraqi leaders give Ahmadinejad a state welcome as he freely and openly appears in Baghdad?
And what would Iraq and Iraqis do if Bush and Cheney launched a pre-emptive strike against Iran? Iraq's welcoming treatment of Ahmadinejad shows that Iraq wants to live in peace with its neighbor, Iran. If Bush and Cheney sent missiles against Iran, the whole Islamic world, especially Iraq, would declare war against America.
While most European nations are reducing their standing armies and their defense budgets, the United States is increasing the billions of dollars it spends every year for war planes, missiles ad bombs. This is the result of the militaristic policy of people like Bush and Cheney who think that the world's problems can be solved with soldiers and bullets. Furthermore, with a Republican administration for the last seven years, the U.S. has been giving more money for military weapons to countries like Israel and Colombia. We can see the results.
Israel invades Gaza and over the last few days more than 100 Palestinians have been killed, of whom at least one third are civilians including women and children. The bullets and bombs used by the Israeli Defense Forces are those provided by U.S. aid. If Israel's actions violate international law and are a form of state-sponsored terrorism inflicted on civilian populations in Gaza, then the United States has provided aid and military hardware to terrorist organizations.
Similarly, the U.S. has given Colombia hundreds of millions of dollars to beef up its military to fight FARC, the group that violently opposes Colombia's social and class system. Now FARC is not to be lionized because it engages in kidnappings, murders and other human rights abuses. But neither is Colombia or its administration led by Colombian president Alvaro Uribe. But the dispute between FARC and the Colombian government can never be solved by bullets and military operations, and the use of these tactics just makes the resolution between these two groups that much more intractable.
The United States needs to recognize its own bellicose intentions towards the rest of the world. Yes, let the U.S. continue with foreign aid for food, education and standard of living, but let it cease seeding the world with bombs, guns and missiles which can solve none of the world's problems or disagreements, but only exacerbate conflicts and bloody confrontations. Israel and Colombia are prime examples.
Saturday, March 1, 2008
George Bush is quick to condemn Barack Obama for saying that he would sit down with world leaders, especially with those with whom the previous U.S. government has had unpleasant relations. Bush warned that such meetings would lend an air of credibility and legitimacy to those leaders who abused their own people and denied them basic rights.
Here's the White House transcript of Bush's words.
"What's lost by embracing a tyrant who puts his people in prison because of their political beliefs? What's lost is it will send the wrong message. It will send a discouraging message to those who wonder whether America will continue to work for the freedom of prisoners. It will give great status to those who have suppressed human rights and human dignity.
"I'm not suggesting there's never a time to talk, but I'm suggesting now is not the time -- not to talk with Raul Castro. He's nothing more than an extension of what his brother did, which was to ruin an island, and imprison people because of their beliefs. . . .
"Sitting down at the table, having your picture taken with a tyrant such as Raul Castro, for example, lends the status of the office and the status of our country to him. He gains a lot from it by saying, look at me, I'm now recognized by the President of the United States. "
But wait! Don't we have fotos of George Bush himself sitting down and hugging tyrants like Vladimir Putin, the King of Saudi Arabia who believes in 200 lashes for rape victims, Islam Karimov, the tyrannical president of Uzbekistan, and Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Take Musharraf. He dismissed the Pakistani Supreme Court, put the chief justice under house arrest, and sent the police out to beat up the peaceful Pakistani lawyers who were protesting Musharraf's disdain for the rule of law. Yet Bush considers him a friend and an ally.
So what gives with Bush's animosity to Raul Castro, Hugo Chavez and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad? The answer is a hypocritical hostility towards those leaders who don't bow down before George W. Bush.
For the fotos, take a look at Think Progress here.
Stop the killings in Gaza. Today, Israeli soldiers, tanks and warships killed over 40 Palestinians in Gaza. We have a de facto war raging between the Palestinians and Israel.
Certainly no one would not sympathize with Israel's concern over protecting its citizens from being killed or injured from rockets fired into Israel from Gaza. However, the solution cannot be in killing all the Palestinians.
Israel opens itself to the charge that its actions are state-sponsored terrorism against the civilian population of Gaza. Nothing can be accomplished by sending in tanks, soldiers and airships to kill Palestinians including Palestinian civilians.