Saturday, April 30, 2011
Another NATO SNAFU: they wanted to kill Gaddafi, but ended up killing one of his sons, and three of his grandchildren. Now everybody repeat after me:
No, this is not terrorism
No, this is not terrorism
No, this is not terrorism
No, this is not terrorism
(keep repeating until convinced)
VINEYARDSAKER: at 23:47
Big news today about a reported “Hamas-Fatah reconciliation” deal. What does it mean? First, here’s what we know from Reuters:
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah movement has struck an agreement with bitter rival Hamas on forming an interim government and fixing a date for a general election, officials said Wednesday.What does any of this mean? At this point, neither side has published the text of an agreement - and certainly Palestinians have a right to see one; they have had enough of secret deals and understandings.
The surprise deal was brokered by Egypt and followed secret talks between the two sides, who fought a brief civil war in 2007 that left the Islamist Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and the Western-backed Abbas in charge of the West Bank.
Forging Palestinian unity is regarded as crucial to reviving any prospect for an independent Palestinian state.
“We have agreed to form a government composed of independent figures that would start preparing for presidential and parliamentary elections,” said Azzam al-Ahmad, the head of Fatah’s negotiating team in Cairo. “Elections would be held in about eight months from now,” he added.
Ordinary Palestinians have repeatedly urged their leaders to resolve their deep divisions, but analysts had long argued that the differences between the two sides on issues such as security and diplomacy were too wide to bridge.
Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior Hamas leader who participated in the talks, said the agreement covered five points, including elections, forming an interim unity government and combining security forces.
“We also discussed activating the Palestinian Legislative Council, the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization) as well as forming a government consisting of nationalist figures to be agreed upon,” Zahar told Al Jazeera television in an interview.
He also said Hamas and Fatah agreed to free prisoners held by each side.
Some immediate questions that come to mind and give rise to skepticism:
- If there is an agreement on a joint “government” how can it possibly function without Israeli approval? Will Israel allow Hamas ministers be able to operate freely in the occupied West Bank? Will PA officials be able to move freely between the West Bank and Gaza? Israel is effectively at peace with the current Abbas wing of the Palestinian Authority and at war with Hamas. Impossible to see how such a government can operate under Israeli occupation. If anything this proves the impossibility of democracy and normal governance under Israeli military occupation.
- In The Palestine Papers, the main concern of Ramallah officials was always to maintain Western financial aid to the PA, and not to make any agreement with Hamas that would jeopardize American and European financing for the PA. Has the Abbas PA overcome that fear, or have they reached understandings with donors that would allow Hamas to join a Palestinian Authority “government”?
- Integration of security forces. Currently, Hamas in Gaza and the Abbas-run PA in the West Bank operate rival security forces. The Abbas security forces cooperate openly with the Israeli occupation including “welcoming” and hosting the Israeli chief of staff, as described by the PA’s Nablus governor yesterday. The Abbas forces are financed and supervised by the United States and their purpose has explicitly been to fight Hamas. Hamas’ forces by contrast are viewed as an enemy by Israel, and are frequently subject to military attacks and extrajudicial executions by Israel. Can such opposing forces really be combined without the Abbas side either renouncing its close ties to the Israeli military, or the Hamas side abandoning any commitment to resistance?
- Elections: What is the point of having elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip once more under conditions of brutal Israeli military occupation, siege and control? Neither the West Bank government nor the Gaza government are truly in control of the fate of Palestinians. The power lies in Israel’s hands. As I wrote recently, such elections only further the illusion of self-governance while doing nothing to challenge or change actual Israeli control. And, when there is so much political repression in the West Bank, and indeed in Gaza, how can we have a guarantee of free elections?
- Reform of the PLO: If Hamas and Abbas made a deal to reform the PLO which just includes adding Hamas to the dead body of the PLO how will that serve the Palestinian people? What about elections for the Palestinian National Council that include ALL Palestinians, including the majority which does not live in the 1967 occupied territories? A deal where Abbas and Hamas make a cozy deal to share seats in an undemocratic PLO is simply unacceptable.
- More broadly, the goal for Palestinians should not be “unity” among factions, but unity of goals for the Palestinian people. What is the purpose and platform of the planned “transitional government” other than merely to exist? A real Palestinian strategy that unites all segments of the Palestinian people has been articulated by the BDS movement:
Notably neither Fatah Abbas nor Hamas have endorsed this campaign, and neither has articulated a realistic strategy aimed at restoring the rights of all Palestinians.
Your thoughts? Comment below!
The White House has now commented on the reported “unity” deal. From Reuters:
“The United States supports Palestinian reconciliation on terms which promote the cause of peace. Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization which targets civilians,” White House spokesman Tommy Vietor said in a statement.This indicates that the US position opposing Palestinian unity except on terms acceptable to Israel and the United States, has not softened. Given this, it’s very difficult to see this going very far.
“To play a constructive role in achieving peace, any Palestinian government must accept the Quartet principles and renounce violence, abide by past agreements, and recognize Israel’s right to exist,” he said.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 19:23
I just finished watching an interesting Russian TV report. According to the Russians, NATO attempted to prevent Gaddafi from airing his speech making a ceasefire proposal by bombing the TV station which was airing it (that is nothing new, just remember how NATO bombed the TV station in Belgrade into a pile of rubble or how the Israelis attempted to silence al-Manar in Beirut). In both cases, the destruction of media outlets is, of course, a "defense of democracy and freedom against an evil freedom-hating tyrant".
To add a touch of incompetence to all that, NATO managed to miss the actual TV station in Tripoli and hit the next-door building. I can't blame them too much, actually. Unless the bombs are GPS equipped the most effective way to direct them is via a laser beam. Should even a small cloud get in the way the beam on the target disappears and the previously "smart" bomb turns into a "dumb" (inertially guided) bomb. At an incoming speed of several hundred miles per hour, even a 1-2 seconds interruption in the target illumination will result into a margin of error which can reach hundreds of meters (depending on factors such as angle, wind, speed, etc.). Interestingly, when NATO bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade they did use GPS guided munitions; I suppose that they really did not want to miss their target..
Then there is al-Jazeera. First, they report that Gaddafi made a ceasefire proposal, but not a word about the NATO attempt to prevent it. Then, they indicate that NATO has no "trust" in Gaddafi and that the Alliance will only stop bombing Libya if "attacks against civilians and threat of such attacks will stop". Yes, they did say "threats of attack". And since the presence of Gaddafi in Libya or existence of the Libyan army constitutes, by definition, such a threat, NATO will not stop until regime change. That, of course, was not spelled out.
Al-Jazeera then proceeded to show street interviews of resident of Benghazi categorically opposed to any peace deal. They said that Gaddafi had lied to them for 40 years and that there is no reason to trust him. Clearly, the decision to ignore the latest Gaddafi plan was a popular and 'democratic' one - or so would al-Jazeera have you believe anyway.
Nobody mentioned in any way that ceasefires are always reached between two sides hating and distrusting each other (why would they shoot at each other if this was not the case) and that there are many verification mechanism which make it possible to achieve a real and stable ceasefire even with a totally crazy, distrusted and hated enemy. From a purely military point of view the mechanisms to secure such a ceasefire between parties who totally distrust each other are a no-brainer. (Korea anybody?).
Bottom line: the UNSC authorized only a no-fly zone and measures to protect civilians. NATO and the rebels will settle for nothing else than regime change. That quite literally puts Gaddafi in the role of victim of an international act of illegal military aggression. One does not need to be a supporter of Gaddafi or his regime (which I am most definitely not) to understand that.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 18:01
In a previous post of mine I began keeping track of the various ceasefire/peace proposals made in the Libyan conflict. I will continue to and in the coming weeks. Though I am just a small irrelevant blogger, I will do all I can not to allow Libya to turn into a another Bosnia (where all the ceasefire/peace plans were dumped into an Orwellian memory hole).
So far I had:
- African Union Peace plan - rejected (by the rebels)
- Offer of ceasefire and election - rejected (by UK, FR, IT)
to which I can add today this
Offer of ceasefire and talks with NATO - rejected (by rebels, NATO)
If anybody hears of more ceasefire/peace offers (made by ANY side, including the rebels) please let me know. I want to keep a tally here.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 16:52
Friday, April 29, 2011
Here is a recent article from the BBC website:
How long is the ideal nap?
How long is the ideal nap?
Air traffic controllers in the US have been advised to take 26-minute naps, after a string of incidents involving workers falling asleep. So is 26 minutes the ideal length of time for a nap? Five cases of air traffic controllers falling asleep on the job have been revealed since March. In three of those cases, disclosed by the Federal Aviation Association, workers have been fired.
Now the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is calling for "controlled naps" to be built into night shifts. Referring to a 1995 study from Nasa, which he co-authored, NTSB member and fatigue expert Mark Rosekind said that a 26-minute nap would improve performance by 34% and alertness by 54%. There was other supporting evidence that said naps of between 20 minutes and 30 minutes were beneficial, he said. His call for work naps is supported by the controllers' union, which wants naps to be allowed in both overnight and day shifts.
Beyond the aviation industry, combating fatigue is an issue that affects many people across all professions, working day and night, although it carries obvious risks in jobs that involve motoring or machinery. But other experts are doubtful that 26 minutes is the optimum napping time. It's a bit too long and risks you falling into a deep sleep, says Jim Horne, director of the Sleep Research Council in the UK, which advises the government on guidelines for drivers.
"What we recommend is that a nap is combined with a cup of coffee so you have some caffeine, and that takes about 20 minutes to kick in. "Have a cup of coffee and get your head down. Done together it has a more powerful effect." It probably works out that a nap of about 15 minutes is best, he says, because once you get beyond 20 minutes, you risk a deep sleep and you can be much more groggy when you wake up. "A lot of people take caffeine after they wake up, but you have a window of opportunity of 20 minutes, so it will help you wake up. It works, there's no doubt about it."
People can't instantly fall asleep, so it's impossible to exactly time how long you will be asleep, he says. But even 15 minutes of dozing is beneficial. "At least by having caffeine, you know that in 20 minutes you will feel more alert."
If you haven't had a wink of sleep the night before, then this tactic won't be enough to refresh you, says Mr Horne, but for those that have had merely a poor night's sleep, it will work. Longer naps would work if they became part of your daily routine, he says, because your body would get used to it and could wake up quite easily without feeling too groggy.
Health writer Linda Wasmer Andrews, based in Albuquerque, New Mexico, also believes 26 minutes is too long. She says a nap of between 10 and 20 minutes is enough. The timing of the nap is also important, she says. Putting your head down too early means your body may not be ready to sleep yet, but a nap that is too late in the day might make it harder to fall asleep come bedtime. Early afternoon is often the best time, between 1-3pm, she says, when people experience a post-lunch dip in energy.
Whatever the best strategy is, it's unlikely that the US air traffic controllers will be adopting any such tactics soon. Transport Secretary Ray LaHood has dismissed the proposal for on-the-job naps to be implemented in the aviation industry. He said workers would not be paid to sleep, and instead ordered for more managers be hired to supervise nightshift workers and ensure they don't fall asleep on the job.
[I pull up my soap box, take a deep breath, and begin my rant]
This last paragraph really sums up all the boundless stupidity of the capitalist thugs: I mean, GOD FORBID!!!! that anybody would be paid to 'sleep on the job', oh NO!!!. It's much 'better' to hire 'managers' (aka slave drivers) regardless of the fact that the salary of the said managers will be bigger by several orders of magnitude than whatever money Uncle Sam might 'loose' by letting his workers (slaves) to take a short nap on the job. And (a most American touch now:) nevermind the science. And nevermind the experience of the rest of the planet. And if the controllers union supports this kind of "socialist" laziness, they can all go to hell. What are unions anyway, but a bastion of commie parasites?!
We are A*m*e*r*i*c*a*n*s!! We 'pull ourselves up by our bootstraps', we are proud of our 'pioneer spirit' and our 'rugged individualism', right? Social right? They are for that effeminate bunch of Euro-trash fags on the Old Continent. We are real men!
And if those lazy air traffic controllers cannot get with the program, we will fire them and hire new ones, just like our beloved Ronald Reagan did. And if an exhausted air traffic controller makes a mistake, we will send him to jail for a long long time, where "Bubba will make him his girlfriend" and where any resistance will be punished by sending him to isolation.
I call this the "plantation mentality" which, I am sorry to say, is still EXTREMELY prevalent in large segments of the US society, in particular the South. Slavery was never truly abolished in the USA, it only changed form (several times): the salves changed, but the slave-owners did not. Now they are called CEOs, politicians, commentators and all the rest of the plutocracy running the USA. The top 1% if you want. And the slaves are pretty much everybody else or, at the very least, the bottom 80% or so.
With no health-care, no social security, no unions, no workers rights, a frightening level of unemployment, a minimal level of education, a super policed society with the highest cop/civilian ratio in the world combined with the highest incarceration per capita figure in the world (followed by Rwanda and Russia if I remember correctly), absolutely insane minimal sentencing laws, a prevalent death penalty, an all-knowing Uncle Sam spying on their every communication, the USA has become one big plantation, run by unrepentant slave-owners who see their fellow Americans as little more than cheap spare parts for their wealth producing machine.
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?
What a sad joke!
[Having vented my outrage, I get off my soapbox and kid myself into thinking that somebody actually paid attention to my rant. Well, even if nobody paid attention, it felt good to "scream" the truth out loud as best as I can. Now I can go and store away my soapbox until the next time I feel like ranting]
VINEYARDSAKER: at 16:37
Thursday, April 28, 2011
Big news: Hamas and Fatah have agreed to form a new interim government as part of a process of "reconciliation" and a "unity deal". Yes, not only is Hamas going to join Fatah in a unity government, that government will be lead by, who else, Abbas!
When I read that this morning I though "Hamas leaders have gone totally insane!". Think about it:
Who is Abbas? He is exactly *nobody*. He is not the "elected President of the Palestinian authority" simply because his term is over and his band of thugs never allowed any other elections to take place. Until this deal with Hamas was made his legitimacy was exactly *zero*.
What is Fatah? It's the utterly discredited and unmasked (thanks Wikileaks!) local combined franchise of the Shin Bet and the CIA. Hamas might as well sign a "reconciliation" deal with the Shin Bet and join a "unity" cabinet under the leadership of Yuval Diskin (or Yoram Cohen)!
What about the timing?
The timing could not be worse. Not only are there all the signs that a new, huge, Freedom Flotilla will attempt to break the Gaza siege this summer, but the new Egyptian Foreign Minister, Nabil al-Arabi, has even told Al-Jazeera that Egypt is making preparations to permanently open the Gaza border!
So at a time when Abbas and his band of traitors are totally discredited and despised by all, at a time when Hamas' stance in Gaza was about to be vindicated, the Hamas leadership finds nothing better to do than give the local Shabak/CIA franchise manager a new legitimacy!
Sadly, Hamas as a record of brilliant tactics followed by total strategic incompetence (just remember how it totally failed to exploit the bringing down of the Wall between Gaza and Egypt). But this latest decision goes beyond mere incompetence - it smacks of outright treason.
All of which is made even worse by the reaction rather crazy reactions in the rest of the world. Israel and the USA are opposing it, I don't know if they do that because they are really stupid or because really really smart, while Iran and Hezbollah approve of it - probably because criticizing the entire Palestinian leadership is impossible for them. It's a crazy world!
Whatever may be the case, and since I am not trying to be popular with anybody, I will clearly say that this is a disaster for all the Palestinian people. Against Israel nothing of any value has ever been obtained by compromise and/or negotiations - only by resolve and active resistance. Sadly, in the entire Middle-East only Hezbollah has really understood this and acted accordingly.
I never had much hope for Hamas as a movement which, after all, was initially created by the Shin Bet to be a counterweight to Fatah, but now I can only conclude that until a Hezbollah-like resistance organization crystallizes in reaction to the constant compromises and betrayals of the Palestinian leaders (Hezbollah was created as a reaction against the compromises and betrayals of Amal leaders) - little real progress will be achieved in Palestine.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 22:07
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
As you may already know, the Petition video has been removed because of "shocking or disgusting content."
This seems to make me The Moving Target. It has been been taken down, because someone doesn't like the pictures of what Israel did to so many little children in Gaza. The images were included in Michael Heart's music video: "We Will Not Go Down (Song for Gaza)". The song and the images remain on several other sites. It makes you think, doesn't it.
I would suggest those without the stomach to view such images should do something to stop the carnage in Gaza.
I'll be preparing a new video, as soon as I have the time.
Here is the video YouTube censored:
Here is the video YouTube censored:
No-Fly Zone Over Gaza — Petition from Anthony Lawson on Vimeo.
Petition written by Dr. Mohamed Khodr
VINEYARDSAKER: at 17:46
Hilarious news today, General David Petraeus aka "ass-kissing little chickenshit" has been selected by Barak "no we can't" Obama to become the next director of the CIA.
This is a hyper-Obamaesque decision, indeed. Obama is, of course, the ultimate "ass-kissing little chickenshit" himself and its not at all surprising that he would appoint somebody of the same "stature", shall we say. Not only will the appointment of a a spineless sycophant bureaucrat like Petraeus send a powerful message to the CIA itself (stop analyzing facts - get with the program!) but it will also prepare the "heroic" figure of Petraeus for a future civilian job like, say, President of the USA!
Finally, the nomination of Petraeus also sends a clear message to all the folks currently working on the many intelligence estimates of the (imaginary) "secret nuclear weapons program": you better get the next one right or your career is over.
The US intelligence community has always been bloated, inept and highly politicized, in particular the CIA and there is a good reason to call the latter "The President's private army". The appointment of a "form over substance" mediocrity like Petraeus as DCI will only further subordinate the CIA to the political interests of the various lobbies which own and run the USA.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 14:56
Tuesday, April 26, 2011
I good friend of mine has recently emailed me and told me that I was paying too much attention to the situation in Libya and not enough to the situation in Bahrain. She sent me a long list of videos, some of which had already been removed by YouTube, some which were only in Arabic, some which did not explain what was being shown, and some which were duplicates of others. I have made a selection of the remaining ones and I submit them to you here below (under their original titles).
Just for the record, and I have already written this on my blog, what is taking place in Bahrain is a bloody crackdown by the puppets of the Saudi Wahabi regime against the majority of the population in general and the Bahraini Shia in particular. This crackdown is accompanied by massacres of civilians which are far worse than anything taking place in Libya and probably of the same order of magnitude as what is happening in Yemen, the other bloody crackdown "overlooked" by the Western corporate media.
I would be most interested in publishing information about the situations in Bahrain and Yemen, but it is hard for me to come across good information in English. Any help with this would be most appreciated.
Urgent call : PLEASE help Bahrain
Thugs of Bahraini regime
Bahrain - Police and mercenaries
Bahrain's Dark Secret:
Bahrain Protests Security forces open fire on crowds in Manama
Bahrain: Regime's Pakistani Thugs Destroy People's Properties:
VINEYARDSAKER: at 12:43
Saturday, April 23, 2011
Christ is risen!
Le Christ est ressuscité!
Christus is opgestaan!
Christus ist auferstanden!
¡Cristo ha resucitado!
The Catechetical Sermon of St. John Chrysostom is read during Matins of Pascha.
If any man be devout and love God, let him enjoy this fair and radiant triumphal feast. If any man be a wise servant, let him rejoicing enter into the joy of his Lord. If any have labored long in fasting, let him now receive his recompense. If any have wrought from the first hour, let him today receive his just reward. If any have come at the third hour, let him with thankfulness keep the feast. If any have arrived at the sixth hour, let him have no misgivings; because he shall in nowise be deprived therefor. If any have delayed until the ninth hour, let him draw near, fearing nothing. If any have tarried even until the eleventh hour, let him, also, be not alarmed at his tardiness; for the Lord, who is jealous of his honor, will accept the last even as the first; he gives rest unto him who comes at the eleventh hour, even as unto him who has wrought from the first hour.
And he shows mercy upon the last, and cares for the first; and to the one he gives, and upon the other he bestows gifts. And he both accepts the deeds, and welcomes the intention, and honors the acts and praises the offering. Wherefore, enter you all into the joy of your Lord; and receive your reward, both the first, and likewise the second. You rich and poor together, hold high festival. You sober and you heedless, honor the day. Rejoice today, both you who have fasted and you who have disregarded the fast. The table is full-laden; feast ye all sumptuously. The calf is fatted; let no one go hungry away.
Enjoy ye all the feast of faith: Receive ye all the riches of loving-kindness. let no one bewail his poverty, for the universal kingdom has been revealed. Let no one weep for his iniquities, for pardon has shown forth from the grave. Let no one fear death, for the Savior's death has set us free. He that was held prisoner of it has annihilated it. By descending into Hell, He made Hell captive. He embittered it when it tasted of His flesh. And Isaiah, foretelling this, did cry: Hell, said he, was embittered, when it encountered Thee in the lower regions. It was embittered, for it was abolished. It was embittered, for it was mocked. It was embittered, for it was slain. It was embittered, for it was overthrown. It was embittered, for it was fettered in chains. It took a body, and met God face to face. It took earth, and encountered Heaven. It took that which was seen, and fell upon the unseen.
O Death, where is your sting? O Hell, where is your victory? Christ is risen, and you are overthrown. Christ is risen, and the demons are fallen. Christ is risen, and the angels rejoice. Christ is risen, and life reigns. Christ is risen, and not one dead remains in the grave. For Christ, being risen from the dead, is become the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep. To Him be glory and dominion unto ages of ages. Amen.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 20:01
Friday, April 22, 2011
Wednesday, April 20, 2011
France, the UK and Italy are now officially sending "small teams of military officers". In the same BBC article we also learn that "Libyan Foreign Minister Abdul Ati al-Obeidi said the presence of foreign military personnel would be a "step backwards". He proposed that there should be a ceasefire followed by an interim period of maybe six months to prepare for an election which would be supervised by the UN, as proposed by the African Union roadmap."
Let's now keep a tally.
African Union Peace plan - rejected (by the rebels)
Offer of ceasefire and election - rejected by (by UK, FR, IT)(to be continued)
VINEYARDSAKER: at 13:29
Thanks to F for pointing me to this interesting interview:
FYI - Alan J Kuperman: The Limits of Humanitarian Intervention: Genocide in Rwanda
VINEYARDSAKER: at 13:15
Tuesday, April 19, 2011
First, a couple of recent headlines which grabbed my attention
First, a couple of recent headlines which grabbed my attention
- France 'should send in commandos to Libya'
- British military officers to be sent to Libya
- Libya’s Late, Great Rights Record
- Another Shocking UN Cover Up About Libya
- FYI - Check out the UN Humans Right report on Libya
Now, let's turn to what has been gnawing at me: I have to say that I am rather baffled by the very few comments I am getting about Libya and I imagine that some of you are possibly getting the impression that I am somehow supporting Gaddafi by publishing information which can be seen as advantageous for the government side.
Believe me, this is not my intention.
Frankly, I readily admit that I do not have enough personal knowledge of the situation in Libya to really side with either party to the conflict. What my post reflect is the fact that I am torn between two contradictory feelings:
On one hand, I have a general dislike for Gaddafi and the kind of regime he embodies. On the other hand, what is happening in Libya is setting off all my "internal indicators and warnings"; my "baloney detector" flashing bright red alarm lights telling me that something in all this stinks to high heaven. In particular, I find the parallels between what is happening today and the events which preceded the US/NATO invasion of Bosnia most worrisome.
Why are there so few comments on this topic? Are you guys upset at what you might perceive as my ambiguous position? Or do you find my concerns about the situation in Libya unwarranted?
Also - I am hearing more and more distressing news from Egypt. Bloggers have been arrested, decrees have banned strikes, demonstrations repressed and, if I am not mistaken, the situation on the border between Egypt and Gaza has not meaningfully changed. Finally, the butchery in Bahrain and Yemen appears to have crushed the opposition in a grandiose bloodbath which the so-called "international community" - apparently lead by Mr. Bernard Henri-Levi - does not mind one bit, on the contrary.
And now Syria is facing some major clashes. Here again, I have very mixed feelings. I have always intensely disliked the Assad regime, be it father or son. And I am sure that at least some top Syrian officials - possibly Assad himself - have assisted Israel in the murder of Imad Mugniyah and everybody know that may individuals kidnapped by the USA have been tortured in Syria on behalf of the US Empire. In my opinion Assad is as fake a 'resister' as can be. But does that mean that the anti-Assad forces in Syria are necessarily better? Or are they planing to put another, even more compliant, pro-Israeli US puppet in power?
I find this all most discouraging.
I am the only one here feeling this way?
VINEYARDSAKER: at 17:42
Monday, April 18, 2011
Check out these two most interesting radio shows:
Bonnie Faulkner interviews Michel Collon on the topic " Five Objectives of the United States In Africa".
George Kenny interviews Dr. Arjun Makhijani on the topic of the consequences of the nuclear accident in Fukishima.
Really great stuff - I highly recommend both shows.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 22:21
Dear Friend of NJDC,
Tonight, as we gather at Passover seders throughout the world and remember our exodus from Egypt, recite the four questions and nosh on Passover delicacies, the First Family will be doing the same.
The Obama family will gather with some of their closest Jewish friends and several of the President's most trusted Jewish advisors to celebrate the third annual White House Passover seder, which will be led by none other than President Barack Obama himself. Obama's seders have garnered a reputation for following the traditions in the Haggadah, with every ritual of the seder being carried out (Sasha and Malia typically recite the four questions). Obama and the White House kitchen staff also make sure that the food served on the table would live up to your grandmother's standards -- even the gefilte fish. Below is a photo from last year's seder.
Pete Souza/White House
Obama has been hosting Passover seders since his Presidential campaign and has made a point to keep the tradition going as President. All American Jews should take pride in knowing that our President deeply respects Jewish tradition -- so much so that he and First Lady Michele Obama enthusiastically celebrate with us multiple times during the year, including during May -- which has been designated as Jewish Heritage Month. And all of this is in addition to the intimate meetings that regularly occur between Obama and Jewish communal leaders -- including leadership from an array of American Jewish organizations, including NJDC.
Last Friday, Obama extended his Passover greetings:
The story of Passover - which recalls the passage of the children of Israel from bondage and repression to freedom and liberty - inspires hope that those oppressed and enslaved can become free. The seder, with its rich traditions and rituals, instructs each generation to remember its past, while appreciating the beauty of freedom and the responsibility it entails.
This year, that ancient instruction is reflected in the daily headlines as we see modern stories of social transformation and liberation unfolding in the Middle East and North Africa. Against the backdrop of change, we continue to pray for peace between Israel and her neighbors, while reaffirming our enduring commitment to Israel's security.
As Jewish families gather for this joyous celebration of freedom, let us all be thankful for the gifts that have been bestowed upon us ...
On behalf of the National Jewish Democratic Council, best wishes for a Happy Passover -- Chag Kasher v'Sameach!
David A. Harris
President and CEO
VINEYARDSAKER: at 17:08
A rather gruesome 4 part video has appeared on the Internet showing the alleged murder and mutilation of pro-Gaddafi soldiers by anti-Gaddafi forces. I have decided against posting the actual videos here because of their gruesome nature, but here are the links:
The person who posted this video has provided the following explanation:
Pro Gaddafi Soldiers who surrendered here were executed in cold blood. Countless Libya Army Soldiers and Police officers have been Executed by Rebels in Cold Blood and have been Blindfolded, hog-tied, beat, Executed, Hung, beheaded, put on fire, had their bodies mutiliated, and in one documented case a Soldier had his heart cut out of his chest when he proclaimed that his "heart is for Gaddafi" and the rebel took a bite out of the heart. In Misrata the Rebels burned some soldiers and then waved and danced around with the charred remains of their corpses.(...) The Libya Army soldiers and Libya police officers who have surrendered to the phony Rebel army have not been accounted for. Hundreds have been executed after surrendering and hundreds of others are missing after being reported as captured. In addition, the Rebels are Incredibly Racist and they take extra delight in torturing and in the execution of Black Libyan soldiers who are captured. The racist Benghazi terror Gangs continually make believe that all the Black soldiers in the Libya Army are somehow mercenaries as they are not white, failing to acknowledge that there are over 500,000 Black African Libyans who primarily reside in the southern half of the nation.
One thing which particularly puzzles me in these videos is the beheading of one of the soldiers. Throat-cutting is one of the hallmarks, the "signatures", of Wahabi extremists who have - and still are - practicing this type of horror in Bosnia, Chechnia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Algeria and pretty much every place where there is an armed Wahabi force. And while according to some comments the folks in the crowd as screaming "No don't do that" "khalllassss!" "enough!" "La! La!" "NO!,No!" and towards the end of the video people started to chant: "enough, enough with this disgrace!" you can clearly hear the chants of "Allahu Akbar!" by the people supporting these actions. It does thus appear that this is clearly not a secular murder, but a religiously inspired one.
I would ask the Arab speakers who read my blog to please explain to me, and the rest of us, what exactly they can make from the dialogs heard on the video and provide us with as many details about this incident as possible.
Who are the people seen in the video? Are they really soldiers? What is being said, in particular in the 2nd video? In what country and on what station was this video aired? Do we know who shot these images?
Many thanks in advance,
VINEYARDSAKER: at 00:45
Sunday, April 17, 2011
On May 27th, 2007 I wrote a piece entitled "Rudolph Giuliani - the face of American Fascism?" in which I described what I saw as a steady a rapid penetration of what I believed to be a fascist mindset in the US society. This morning my son emailed me two video of some guy called Grady Warren, apparently a supporter of the Tea Party. Please take a look at them:
I have absolutely no idea who this Grady Warren character is and, frankly, I don't care. Having lived in the USA for a combined total of 15 years now, I can tell you that he is a very typical example of the kind of fascism which is prospering here.
US Fascism cannot be a direct transposition of Italian, French, Croat or Spanish types of fascism, if only because the former all have their roots in a Roman-Catholic mindset and ideology which has little or no influence in the USA. US fascism has very different roots, what I would call Far West of "Cowboy Fascism".
The cowboy fascist is immensely proud of his ignorance, as shown by the "we no speekee Spaniish!" Tshirt (like anybody would suspect these folks of understanding - nevermind speaking - a 2nd language anyway...). This deep pride in being an ignorant hick is exactly what made folks like John Wayne or Ronald Reagan such American icons. Can you imagine either of these two speak Spanish, French or Japanese? Of course not! Or take the very popular song "Where were you when the world stopped turning" which features the following lyrics:"I watch CNN, but I'm not sure I can tell you the difference in Iraq and Iran, but I know Jesus and I talk to God" (I am not kidding you, check the full text of the song at the provided link!). Again, this singer takes immense pride in being a dumb ignoramus, because, just as a typical cowboy, he believes that a "simple man" must be an ignorant one.
Of course, fascism has always been the natural refuge of idiots, dimwits, ignorant and insecure imbeciles because, unlike other ideologies, fascism is *simple* and requires absolutely no form of study or knowledge. This is why cowboys and fascism are a match made in
heaven hell: both are the product of beer guzzling, simple minded, insecure and aggressive types. Unlike the marxists who have read the Marx and Lenin, the anarchists who would read Proudhon or Bakunin, the North Koreans who would study Kim Il-Sung's Juche or the republicans who would read Montesquieu, Rousseau, Voltaire, Paine, Franklin or Jefferson, a fascist gets his world view from newspapers or electronic media only (the idiot box, mostly). Yes, I know, there are fascist books out there, but they are inevitably dumb and rather boring and, besides do fascists actually read them?
Here again, the development of US fascism is immensely and, I would say, naturally aided by the US corporate media which fosters an absolutely bottomless level of ignorance. Add to this than on average folks in the USA watch something like 4 hours of TV each day, and you will see why 21st century's USA is the perfect "primordial soup" for cowboy fascism.
[Conversely, the idiot box is also the reason why the US patriot is totally terrified by what he sees as an "invasion" of Hispanics but is utterly oblivious to the fact that his country has already been reduced to what is a de-facto Israeli colony run by a puppet regime totally and unconditionally devoted to the racists ideals of Zionism: "the TV don't talk about that"]
When Grady Warren says "we love Sarah Palin because she is a female version of Ronald Reagan and for millions of men she is their fantasy wife" he is, of course, completely unaware of the fact that for the rest of the planet Sarah Palin is the caricature of the ignorant American, the object of endless jokes. To each his own, of course, and if for the cowboy Sarah Palin is a "fantasy wife", that's fine. After all, these cowboys will never have to host some "aliens" (that is how foreigners are referred to in the USA: legal or illegal "aliens") for dinner and his "fantasy wife" will never have to cook anything besides fried chicken, cole slaw, onion rings or a couple of steaks with mashed potatoes and gravy. And she will most definitely never be expected to speak "Spaniish".
Far from being a handicap, the crass ignorance and stupidity of the cowboy fascist is a powerful weapon in his hands. That makes it possible for him to deny not only climate change, but science in general. It make is possible for him to fancy himself a "Christian" because he opposes abortion while supporting the death penalty. Lastly, in makes him globally immune to the necessarily complex arguments of the groups he so much hates: liberals, progressives, socialists, Marxists, environmentalists, etc. For the cowboy fascist all the categories are lumped into one single mass of unpatriotic and unmanly "socialists" whose perverting influence is a threat to his lifestyle and beliefs (here he is, of course, quite correct).
Before the first invasion of Iraq the cowboys knew little or nothing about Islam. Sure, they "knew" that Muslims had this inexplicable hatred of Jews and that they were treating their wifes like camels, but that's about it. "Sand niggers" and "rag-heads" did not really bother the US cowboy fascist. Until 9/11 that is. 9/11 turned the otherwise extremely superficially "Christian" cowboy into a real religious zealots. In the wake of 9/11 numerous (and well financed) religious organizations like sprung up, complete with mega-churches, dedicated TV channels (what else)!), and a strong sense of a newly found "Christian identity". While the some Jew-hating denominations kept their hatred for Jews (amongst many other ethnic group), most of the post-9/11 cowboy churches were strongly pro-Zionist (Pastor Hagee's Christians United for Israel probably the best known).
The cowboy fascist now "fights" not only for his race or ethnicity, but also for "his" God. He sees his country surrounded by threats on all sides. From the south, millions of Chicanos are invading the USA. In the north there are a few Canadian, sometimes ok, but with very socialist tendencies (and some of them even speak French!). Europe is full of degenerate Euro-trash sissies who never can stand up and fight like real men. Russia, as Sarah Palin says, is ruled by a head-rearing Putin and China is taking away 'our jobs'. In the inner front, the country is being torn apart by homos, socialists, welfare parasites, pedophiles, niggers and drug dealing hippies. But, just like John Wayne or Ronald Reagan in the movies, our cowboy fascist is ready to fight for his country: his trailer is full of guns, he has a gas mask, a Geiger counter and lots stored food in case "they" drop a nuclear bomb. And should al-Qaeda or "UN soldiers" ever show-up in our cowboy's hometown, he has even got a terrorist hunting permit on all four of his SUVs. Amen!
This is all, of course, very funny. But the Tea Party is not such a joke; it has lost some steam recently, but considering the rapidly worsening economic situation of the US Empire and the abject betrayal by Obama of pretty much all of his campaign promises, I bet you that the Tea Party still has quite a future ahead of it, if only because the Koch brothers have poured millions of dollars into it.
Crass ignorance, insularity, economic misery, a powerful propaganda machine, xenophobia and a macho gun toting and flag waving 'patriotic' culture are all the ingredients needed to form the toxic brew of fascism.
This begs the question: why is the Wall Street Zionist corporate elite fostering all this? What do Jews like the Koch brothers gain by financing xenophobic and potentially anti-Jewish sentiments? It is quite simple, really. First, since US fascism is deeply anti-state ("anarcho-capitalist" and "anti-statist" as the cowboys would say) it makes it possible to dismantle all the social structure built in the USA since the New Deal, all the regulation put in place since WWII and to globally free what Ed Luttwak calls "Turbocapitalism" from any limits on its greed and exploitation of the poor. And while the former US middle-class is being turned into the new poor, cowboy fascism also designates an entire roster of evil enemies responsible for it all: Blacks, Chicanos, liberals, etc. Basically, the wealthiest top 1% of the folks running the USA and turning the anger and frustration of the impoverished Americans away from themselves and re-direct it towards a simple, reassuring, world view in which a list of scapegoats are offered to the hatred of the cowboys. And, in the meanwhile, the richer are getting richer, and the poor not only poorer, but angrier.
The US Empire is on a rapid decline, no doubt here. But we should not expect that to affect the political realities inside the USA in a fundamental way. This is a country were you can often see a homeless person proudly flying a US flag on the supermarket cart he had steal to carry his few possessions. Mussolini could not have dreamed of having such a thoroughly brainwashed and therefore passive population to deal with. There is a dialectical relationship between the decline of US Empire and cowboy fascism, a kind of positive feedback loop in which one always reinforces the other and vice-versa. Cowboy fascism still has a very bright future ahead of it.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 19:49
Thursday, April 14, 2011
by Eric Walberg:
Russia has always looked on at events in the Middle East from afar, shut out of the action, and remains an onlooker today, absorbed by its own problems. Eric Walberg looks at the implications for Russia of the revolutions and no-so-revolutions sweeping the Middle East
Russian politics is in turmoil as a result of the uprisings in the Arab world, in particular the Egyptian revolution. Those fed up with an increasingly autocratic political system hope that Russian citizens will be energised, while those who came out on top following the collapse of the Soviet Union are quick to dismiss any implications for the Russian political scene.
The official Russian reluctance to embrace the winds of change in the Middle East contrasts with the reaction of the rest of the world and speaks volumes about the real state of Russian politics. While the invasion of Libya revived the spectre of British/ French/ Italian/ US imperialism on Africa’s north coast – hardly a welcome development for Russia – the implications of the Egyptian tidal wave now sweeping away corrupt, authoritarian politicians and their business cronies, without any need for French Exocet missiles and US-Israeli drones, is even more disturbing for the Kremlin, and it has nothing to do with Chechnya or Dagestan, where violence could hardly get worse as a result of a peaceful mass revolution like Egypt’s.
The lack of enthusiasm was a gut reaction by the leadership and has a very good cause, for despite the very different cultures and histories, ordinary Russians face much the same situation as did Egyptians prior to 25 January. Post-Soviet Russian politics has not allowed the real voice of Russians to be heard, as starkly demonstrated in 1993, when Yeltsin violently disbanded the parliament, and then in 1996, when the communist Gennadi Ziuganov won the presidential election, but was kept from office by the machinations of the Yeltsin clique and its Western backers.
Since then, Machiavellian “political technologists” have served up a dish which Ivan Krastev dubbed “sovereign democracy”, a combination of “directed democracy and nationalism”, an antidote to the dangerous combination of populist pressure from below and international pressure from above that destroyed the post-Communist Ukrainian, Georgian and Kyrgyz regimes in so-called colour revolutions.
The political elite managed to avoid the fate of those regimes and stabilise the rule of the Putin-Medvedev duumvirate, but in the process, returned Russia to the undemocracy of the Soviet period, replacing the communists’ social welfare and anti-imperialist foreign policies with a dash of pluralism. The Arab spring is no phoney colour revolution, and what is happening in Egypt is a frightening affair for the Russian elite, both supporters of the more nationalist Putin and those of the more Europhile Medvedev. Though Putin scandalously contradicted his president by criticising the Western invasion of Libya as a “Crusade”, few in Russia take this spat seriously.
Their rivalry may add some spice to Russian politics, but the main ingredients are unchanged. Medvedev strives to carry out the Westernisers’ programme, while Putin plays a rearguard defence, at times praising the Soviet legacy and condemning Western threats and invasions. Indeed, as Israel Shamir notes, “only Putin stands between the people’s anger and the fat cats of Moscow. Russians know that the oligarchs and top Kremlin figures are perfectly integrated into the Western capitalist scheme: they keep their money in Bahamas, they send their children to Oxford, they own houses on the Riviera and Hampstead, they own shares in the transnational companies. And together with their Western chums, they fleece Russians.”
The Medvedev-Putin duo are a packaged deal – if one goes, the whole post-Soviet set-up totters. The elites they jointly represent have good cause to fear the example that Egyptian revolutionaries have set. However, there is one important plus for the would-be Russian Westernisers in the Kremlin deriving from the unrest sweeping the Arab world. Whereas until a few months ago, NATO visits to Ukraine and Georgia were continuing to embarrass the proponents of the US-Russian “restart button”, the noise of bombs exploding in Libya and tear gas in Yemen and Bahrain is drowning out the calls for NATO’s expansion eastward. Nikolas Gvosdev explains that “both Russia and Poland sense the operation [in Libya] may prove to be a turning point in the future direction of the North Atlantic alliance.”
No longer is NATO pushing eastward, threatening a now compliant Russia, concerned with maintaining its hegemony in its “near abroad”, but posing no threat to Western Europe.
Thus the refusal of Russian UN Ambassador Vladimir Chamov to veto UNSC Resolution 1973, clearly a ploy to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi using pious UN platitudes like “Responsibility to Protect”. Russia last used its precious UN veto in 2008 to prevent sanctions against Zimbabwe, and more famously in 1999 to prevent a UN bombing of Serbia. The Libyan resolution was just as cynical as either of these, but elicited only an abstention. (China merely followed suit so as not to be the odd-man-out.)
The Russian people are strongly against the operation; it is being called Kosovo-2 in Moscow. For them, “a Western intervention is a Western intervention, one of many they were on the receiving end of,” writes Shamir.
The other puzzle here is the refusal of Poland and Germany to jump on the Libyan bandwagon. The answer lies in the implications of this new NATO project for Europe and the central role French President Nicolas Napoleon (excuse me, Sarkozy) is playing in it. If Russia approves NATO’s shift from eastward to southward and moves closer to the West, Poland loses its importance as a frontline state “keeping the Russians at bay”. So it is unhappy with developments. As for Germany, unlike France, it has been anxious to expand economically eastward, to incorporate Russia into a broader Eurasian association where it will call the shots. It was suspicious of Sarkozy’s Mediterranean Union, patched together by Sarkozy in 2008, from the start and, like Poland, is against the NATO intervention in Libya.
The Mediterranean Union brings together all the Mediterranean countries and the EU, including Israel, sans Libya. At the same time, NATO has been pursuing the Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (Turkey and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)), and the GCC+4 (+ Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, US). The latter was heralded in 2007 as the “NATO of the Middle East”, the successor to the Middle East Defense Organisation (MEDO) set up in the early 1950s to include Egypt, Iraq, Turkey and others.
This shift makes sense for both Europe and the US. Afghanistan is a lost cause and will have to be abandoned soon. Much more rational to pour money and effort into the Mediterranean region, integrate Israel and (hopefully) pull in Iraq as this new MEDO gains traction. The invasion of Libya is just the thing to provide an ailing NATO with a new lease on life. AFRICOM, the latest arm of the US military command structure, will be more than glad to help out. The US is already mooting the possibility of sending ground troops to support its Libyan rebel allies, and with stick-in-the-mud Gaddafi gone – who knows? – maybe AFRICOM will find a new home in Tripoli. It is still stuck in Germany, as no other African government has dared to offer it residence.
From the French point of view, this shift “from an East-West divide and toward a North-South bridge”, as Gvozdev calls it, will kill no less than three birds with one stone: it gets rid of Gaddafi, it does not threaten European rapprochement with Russia, and it puts France back in the lead within the EU. Ruffling German and Polish feathers is neither here nor there for le général.
The US, like Russia was not keen with the development of events in the Arab world (particularly in strategic Egypt), as the pre-January 2011 order in the Middle East more or less suited the US fine. Much easier to deal with dictators who endure for decades and have sons eager to take their place. What will happen in Egypt now, or Libya for that matter, is far from clear, but it must make the best of the situation.
Like the Arab world, and in particular, Egypt, Russia is ripe for change. And the same recipe for changing the sorry state of things applies in both: a coalition of the left and the other opposition forces (in Russia, primarily the nationalists, in Egypt – the Islamists). Counter-revolutionary strategy is also identical: more managed democracy, dividing the forces of revolution relying on slick campaigns by political technologists, supplemented by undercover tricks – possibly “terrorist” acts, planted news items, stock exchange and currency instability, oil shocks and the like.
Egyptian revolutionaries surely wish like-minded Russians well. But as politicians in Moscow (not to mention Paris) watch NATO flounder in Afghanistan and now in Libya, and try out policies which suit their geopolitical needs regardless of their merit, it should be remembered that MEDO fell apart when Egypt had a revolution in 1952. It is not always possible to shape genuine revolutions to suit the needs of the old order and its foreign friends.
VINEYARDSAKER: at 12:36
The Star reports:
The five BRICS nations took another step towards cementing their global influence on Thursday, calling for a broad-based international reserve currency system “providing stability and certainty”.
In a statement released at a summit on the southern island of Hainan, the leaders of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa said the recent financial crisis had exposed the inadequacies and deficiencies of the current monetary order, which has the dollar as its linchpin.
“The era demands that the BRICS countries strengthen dialogue and cooperation,” Chinese President Hu Jintao said.
The BRICS are worried about the long-term fate of the dollar because of America's large trade and budget deficits. They also begrudge the privileges that come with being the leading reserve currency - hence the call for a revamped system that is more stable.
In another dig at the dollar, the development banks of the five BRICS nations agreed in principle to establish mutual credit lines denominated in their local currencies, not the U.S. currency.
I screwed up!! This is last year's communique. Sorry about that. Oh well, at least the photo looks like the right one :-)
VINEYARDSAKER: at 11:50