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"Economic Pearl Harbour"

It's back to that old adage "it's the economy stupid!".

Warren Buffet calls it the "economic Pearl Harbour". Whatever is, it is seismic and reverberating around the world.

Michael Moore, addresses the issue more than succinctly, in a piece on CommonDreams, no holds barred:

"Friends,

Let me cut to the chase. The biggest robbery in the history of this country is taking place as you read this. Though no guns are being used, 300 million hostages are being taken. Make no mistake about it: After stealing a half trillion dollars to line the pockets of their war-profiteering backers for the past five years, after lining the pockets of their fellow oilmen to the tune of over a hundred billion dollars in just the last two years, Bush and his cronies -- who must soon vacate the White House -- are looting the U.S. Treasury of every dollar they can grab. They are swiping as much of the silverware as they can on their way out the door.

No matter what they say, no mat…

Ahmadinejad: Israel has right to exist

Maverick he may be. He might even be unstable. But the latest pronouncement by Iranian President Ahmadinejad about Israel in New York the other day cannot be ignored. Peter Tatchell in Comment is Free in The Guardian writes:

"Iranian President, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has made a remarkable announcement. He's admitted that Iran might agree to the existence of the state of Israel.

Ahmadinejad was asked: "If the Palestinian leaders agree to a two-state solution, could Iran live with an Israeli state?"

This was his astonishing reply:

'If they [the Palestinians] want to keep the Zionists, they can stay ... Whatever the people decide, we will respect it. I mean, it's very much in correspondence with our proposal to allow Palestinian people to decide through free referendums.'

Since most Palestinians are willing to accept a two-state solution, the Iranian president is, in effect, agreeing to Israel's right to exist and opening the door to a peace deal tha…

White House fingered in harsh interrogation edict

On ABC National's PM radio program tonight the following:

"Newly released documents have brought the question of who authorised American forces to torture prisoners a step closer to the President himself, George W Bush.

The proof came in a list of answers which the Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice gave to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The papers show that Dr Rice, the then defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and the then attorney general John Ashcroft discussed the torture question as early as 2002.

It's the latest in a string of evidence about the US decision to use a variety of what it called harsh interrogation techniques but which the Red Cross described as "categorically" torture.

That Red Cross report was one among a number of revelations in a book, "The Dark Side", by the New Yorker journalist Jane Mayer.

She told me on the line from Washington today that the torture program was originally the brain child of the Vice-President Dick Cheney and…

A New Year's present? Enough Talk!

As Jews around the world are on the eve of their New Year, Gideon Levy writing on Haaretz under the headline "Enough Talk", raises the critical question of an ever-elusive peace and settlement of issues between the Israelis and Palestinians:

"After 15 years of talking, nothing has been left unsaid or undiscussed. After endless peace plans, "drawer" and "shelf" plans, road maps and interim agreements, none of which has been carried out, we must scream to the new government: Don't start again with that futile negotiations carousel. Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas, Tzipi Livni and Ahmed Qureia, Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres and Yasser Arafat, Yossi Beilin and Abu Mazen, Ami Ayalon and Sari Nusseibeh, Ehud Barak and Arafat - they've all said it all. Now's the time to decide - to pull the detailed plans out of Bill Clinton's or Yossi Beilin's or Barak's or Rabin's drawer. The differences between them are minimal.
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Bush the Arrogant

For someone living outside the US it isn't all that easy to gauge the mood of the country, the attitude to its leaders, etc. etc. It is one thing to access the media, mainstream or otherwise, but still a full appreciation of what is shaping the country is hard to capture.

One can therefore only assume that when a mainstream newspaper like the LA Times editorialises in "Bush the Arrogant" about George W as it has today, that it reflects the mood of the US constituency:

"As the Bush administration attempts to stabilize the nation's economy, we are witness to the final chapter of a period of perverse and dishonest leadership that has used its own crises to justify the expansion of its own power. This was a president who came to office on promises of modesty -- who championed a "humble nation," scorned nation building and promised a more limited role for government in the lives of its citizens. Then he presided over a six-year attempt to tear down and re…

Vale Paul Newman: Unrepentant liberal

John Nichols, writing in The Nation, pays tribute to Paul Newman, who died yesterday:

"The actor finished his life with more friends and fewer enemies than just about anyone in his chosen profession. And Newman's extensive philanthropy earned him little but praise in his final years.

Yet, Paul Newman was particularly proud to have been an "enemy."

Indeed, he said to the end of his days that the place he held on Nixon's list was "the highest single honor I've ever received."

Read about a side of Newman not so well known, certainly to younger audiences, here.

Robert Fisk: "The Middle East is not a complex place"

As truthdig.com reports:

"The acclaimed journalist [Robert Fisk] stopped by our offices this week, where he told Truthdig Editor Robert Scheer that the Middle East is a lot less puzzling than it’s made out to be: “It’s we who are there, not the other way round. ... It’s not our land. It’s not our religion. Our soldiers are in the Muslim world and they should not be there.”

Watch two compelling interviews with probably the only person who has a real grasp on what is going on in the Middle East. After all, Fisk has lived in and reported from Beirut for upwards of 30 years - and in the process met every major "player" including the infamous bin Laden.

Planet Google?: The Quest

The Economist reviews a new book on Google:

"Google must be the most ambitious company in the world. Its stated goal, “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful,” deliberately omits the word “web” to indicate that the company is reaching for absolutely all information everywhere and in every form. From books to health records and videos, from your friendships to your click patterns and physical location, Google wants to know. To some people this sounds uplifting, with promises of free access to knowledge and help in managing our daily lives. To others, it smacks of another Big Brother, no less frightening than its totalitarian ancestors for being in the private sector."

Read the complete piece here. Like it or not, Google is here to stay, Big Brother, 1984 or not!

Oh yeah?

That middle America might like Sarah Palin is a worry. That the woman is bog-ignorant is of even greater concern especially having regard to the position she could quite conceivably occupy if the McCain-Palin ticket wins the upcoming US presidential election.

Whilst there is said to be talk among some Republicans to still drop Palin as VP candidate even at this late stage, Palin's grasp [?] of the world is captured by this report in the Washington Post:

"Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, describing the need for more troops in Afghanistan, said the United States has achieved "victory" in Iraq.

It was an apparent misstep in Palin's third interview since agreeing to become Republican Sen. John McCain's running mate nearly one month ago. These encounters have garnered enormous interest because Palin has largely walled herself off from journalists amid growing criticism that a vice presidential nominee should be more accessible. In an NBC-Wall Street Journal poll this wee…

Whistleblower on the Iraq War.....and the "missing" media

"When the prosecution of Katharine Gun finally concluded its journey through the British court system, the authors note, a surge of American news reports on the closing case "had people wondering why they hadn't heard about the NSA spy operation at the beginning." This book includes an account of journalistic evasion that is a grim counterpoint to the story of conscience and courage that just might inspire us to activate more of our own."

So concludes a most interesting piece on CommonDreams dealing with a new book "The Spy Who Tried to Stop a War: Katharine Gun and the Secret Plot to Sanction the Iraq Invasion" dealing with British whistleblower Katherine Gun who was working at British intelligence in the lead-up to the Iraq War.

"To understand in personal, political and historic terms -- what Katharine Gun did, how the British and American governments responded, and what the U.S. news media did and did not report -- is to gain a clear-eyed pictur…

Like him, loathe him....but ignore him you can't

Whether seen as some sort of madman, bigot or someone who speaks his mind bluntly and loudly, and often, Iran's President Admadinejad is someone who cannot be easily dismissed or ignored. Whatever he might be the West has painted him in certain black and white colours.

Attending the UN General Assembly meeting in New York, the NY Times sat down to interview the President. The topics ranged far and wide, including challenging him on his seeming anti-Israel or anti-Jewish stance.

One example of his responses:

"Zionism is not Judaism. It is a political party. It is a very secretive political party, which is the root cause of insecurity and wars. For 60 years in our region people have been killed, they have been threatened for 60 years, they have been aggressed upon for 60 years. Several large wars have occurred. A large number of territories there are occupied. More than five million people have been displaced and become refugees. Women and children are attacked in their…

Harsh interrogation

The Washington Post reports on what anyone who has taken an interest in the subject has always suspected - top White House officials discussed the extent of harsh interrogation permissible as far back as 2002:

"Top White House officials were told in early 2002 about harsh measures used by the CIA to extract information from suspected al-Qaeda terrorists in the agency's secret prisons, according to an account given to congressional investigators by the office of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The details of the controversial program were discussed in multiple meetings inside the White House over a two-year period, triggering concerns among several officials who worried that the agency's methods might be illegal or violate anti-torture treaties, according to separate statements signed by Rice and her top legal adviser."

Meanwhile, Robert Fisk, in The Independent, writes about Sami al-Haj, an Al Jazeera cameraman who was imprisoned at Gitmo for 6 years and then relea…

Quartet 'creating power vacuum' in Middle East

The Independent reports on the failure of the so-called International Quartet to make any impact in resolving the Palestine-Israel situation. With show-pony Blair now the envoy for the Quartet it is almost certain that little, if anything, will be achieved. Rhetoric, and lots of it, yes! Action, nil!

"The international community is "losing its grip" on the Middle East peace process and failing to improve the appalling living conditions for Palestinians, a group of leading NGOs charges today.

The international Quartet – consisting of the United States, European Union, United Nations and Russia – is accused of creating a "vacuum of leadership" as the aid agencies complain that "visible progress" in the Middle East has "failed to materialise".

The report says that despite the Quartet saying in June that such progress was vital to building confidence in the negotiating process, it has failed to press home its own calls on Israel for a free…

Blogs just keep on growing

It's a phenomenon which simply keeps on growing apace.....the world of blogging.

Techronatireports:

"There have been a number of studies aimed at understanding the size of the Blogosphere, yielding widely disparate estimates of both the number of blogs and blog readership. All studies agree, however, that blogs are a global phenomenon that has hit the mainstream.

The numbers vary but agree that blogs are here to stay -

comScore MediaMetrix (August 2008)
Blogs: 77.7 million unique visitors in the US
Facebook: 41.0 million | MySpace 75.1 million
Total internet audience 188.9 million

eMarketer (May 2008)
94.1 million US blog readers in 2007 (50% of Internet users)
22.6 million US bloggers in 2007 (12%)

Universal McCann (March 2008)
184 million WW have started a blog | 26.4 US
346 million WW read blogs | 60.3 US
77% of active Internet users read blogs"

The mother of all rip-offs

George W has today described the US in "severe financial crisis." He is pleading for swift action by Congress to agree to his Treasury Secretary's "salvage" package of a mere US$700 billion. Needless to say there is substantial resistance to the proposal as it seems like the Gordon Geckos of Wall St. will walk away with millions of dollars whilst the taxpayers pick up the tab for what has occurred and to keep the economy from tanking.

Michael West, writing in The Age, puts into context what Treasury Secretary Paulson is trying to pull off here - and what West rightly describes as the mother of all rip-offs:

"Hank Paulson has got to be kidding. He wants American taxpayers to hand a cool $US700 billion ($840 billion) to his pals on Wall Street in return for a gigantic bundle of their delinquent assets ... without his pals taking a pay cut.

Could there be a finer reward for failure? Could there be a worse deal for taxpayers?

No stake in the upside, no cei…

Michael Moore Political Movie Released Free on Web

There is no holding back Michael Moore of 9/11 Fahrenheit, and other movies, fame.

As CommonDreams reports [reproducing a Reuters report]:

"Filmmaker Michael Moore released his latest documentary for free on the Internet on Tuesday, marking a first for the maverick director who aims to encourage young people to vote -- preferably for Democrats -- in November's U.S. presidential election.

"Slacker Uprising," a feature-length film documenting Moore's tour of swing states during the 2004 presidential election year, was made available for a free download instead of being released in movie theaters.

The maker of the award-winning anti-Iraq war blockbuster "Fahrenheit 9/11," said in a statement the gesture was "entirely as a gift to my fans."

"The only return any of us are hoping for is the largest turnout of young voters at the polls in November," Moore said."

McDeregulation

Today's news is that wanna-be president, John McCain, has suspended his present campaign in order to return to Washington to grapple with the present financial upheavals confronting America. He is also calling on George W to, in effect, do something.

It seems like McCain is involved in double-speak, as commentator and gadfly Keith Olbermann highlights in a piece on Information Clearing House piece "McDeregulation" and a video:

"There is a man running for president who actually believes -- right now -- that deregulation has been a great thing for the U-S economy... He has surrounded himself with lobbyists who made millions pushing for the regulatory changes that facilitated the current crisis... And he thinks that deregulation of the banking industry has been so great... we should do the exact same thing with -- make that "to" -- health care. Naturally his campaign today conducted a conference call to announce the New York Times can no longer be conside…

The really big worry....Iran!

Robert Cornwell, writing in The Independent, suggests that the financial crisis which has hit the US, and the rest of the world - and been the focus of its attention - is actually eclipsed by Iran's President and that country's onward march in developing nuclear power.

"Live in the US any length of time, and one thing you soon realise: the country, be that its media or its government, can only focus on one crisis at a time. Right now, that failing is eminently forgiveable. Nothing is more pressing than a financial meltdown that unless it is tackled in days – or a very few weeks at the most – could lead to the Great Depression of the 21st century.

But amid the turmoil, another crisis has been forgotten. Once it was measured in years, now the critical moment may arrive in months. Does anyone remember a certain country called Iran, and its suspected plan to build a nuclear weapon?

Lehman Bros and Fannie Mae may have forced Mahmoud Ahmedinejad from the headlines. But Tehran'…

Lipstick Bungle

"It turns out that the Republican enthusiasm for Sarah Palin is just as superficial as she is. They were so eager for someone to cheer for (because they really don’t like you) that they dove face first into the Palin mirage. But, on the issues, even they worry about her.

In a New York Times/CBS News poll conducted this week 77 percent of Republicans said that they had a favorable opinion of Palin. But when asked what specifically they liked about her, their top five reasons were that she was honest, tough, caring, outspoken and fresh-faced. Sounds like a talk-show host, not a vice president. (By the way, her intelligence was in a three-way tie for eighth place, right behind “I just like her.”)

When those Republicans were asked what they liked least about her, they started to sound more like everyone else. Aside from those who said that there was nothing they didn’t like, next on the list were: her lack of experience, her record as governor and her lack of foreign-policy experience.

Justice American style

Two pieces show how the American judicial system if nothing else has lost the way. Forget about justice or common sense.

First, this piece from the NY Times columnist Bob Herbert:

"Troy Davis, who was convicted of shooting a police officer to death in the parking lot of a Burger King in Savannah, Ga., is scheduled to be executed on Tuesday.

There is some question as to his guilt (even the pope has weighed in on this case), but the odds of Mr. Davis escaping the death penalty are very slim. Putting someone to death whose guilt is uncertain is always perverted, but there’s an extra dose of perversion in this case.

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to make a decision on whether to hear a last-ditch appeal by Mr. Davis on Sept. 29. That’s six days after the state of Georgia plans to kill him."

Read on, here......open-mouthed and agog!

Meanwhile, the following can only be described as utterly bizarre, and crazy, as Scott Horton, writing in Harper's Magazine, puts it …

GULP!

With the US Government working overtime to bring some stability and order into its financial markets, the immensity of putting something like $700 billion on the line to do so is truly staggering.

The NY Times has tried put that ginormous figure into context. It equates to:

- US$2000 for every person in the US

- More than the GDP of Argentina and Chile combined

- 70% of Canada's GDP

- The annual Pentagon budget including the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan

- 40 times the NASA budget

- 100 times the annual budget of the Head Start program which helps 900,000 children from poor families.

The figures on......... One can only hope that what Uncle Sam is putting in place - together with other countries around the globe - begins to bring order into chaos, panic and staring down the financial abyss.

The mettle of bloggers

From Global Voices:

"For days, cyberactivists have been busy discussing the case of Moroccan blogger Mohammed Erraji, who was arrested, put on trial, sentenced - and then freed, and then put on trial again and finally acquitted.

His crime? Posting this article, part of which is translated here into English, on Hespress [Ar], in which he describes how the Moroccan King's charity and gratuities towards his people benefits “the lucky sons and daughters of this country and overlooks the rest.”

He explained his point:

'Countries which respect their citizens do not turn them into beggars under the feet of nobility. Instead, they develop factories and workshops for them to work in and earn their living with dignity. Even if we assume that such gratuities are only dispersed to deserving citizens such as the special needs and poor, which is impossible at any rate, this isn't anything that makes Moroccan citizens proud. The right to work, health care and education are granted by th…

Last chance looming in the Middle East

Johann Hari, an Englishman who migrated to Israel and now lives there, writing in TheIndependent reflects on the "victory" by Tzipi Livni of top-spot in her Kadimah Party and how things could head between Israel and Palestinians, especially with regard to a two-state solution - or, then again, perhaps not!

"This is the story of two debates that have been unfolding in rival nations, in rival tongues, on a skinny patch of land in the Levant. In Israel, Kadima – the main governing party – has been deciding who should be its new leader. In Palestine, the population has been mooting a dramatic shift in their struggle for liberation. Soon, these debates are destined to collide – in either blood or peace.

The Israeli debate had an air of willed evasion. The military's blockade of Gaza – reducing it to rubble just a short drive from hi-tech Tel Aviv – was barely discussed. The candidates seemed to be carefully avoiding taking a position on anything. One Israeli newspaper note…

Afghanistan on a slippery slide downhill

Robert Fisk, veteran journalist and author - who has lived in Beirut for upwards of 30 years - counsels on how the US is engaged in something in Afghanistan which it is destined to lose. As the world's attention seems to move from Iraq to Afghanistan - seemingly on some misguided notion that things have been battened down in Iraq - in his latest piece "Why does the US think it can win in Afghanistan?" in The Independent, Fisk writes:

"Poor old Algerians. They are being served the same old pap from their cruel government. In 1997, the Pouvoir announced a "final victory" over their vicious Islamist enemies. On at least three occasions, I reported – not, of course, without appropriate cynicism – that the Algerian authorities believed their enemies were finally beaten because the "terrorists" were so desperate that they were beheading every man, woman and child in the villages they captured in the mountains around Algiers and Oran.

And now they'…

Technology Doesn’t Dumb Us Down. It Frees Our Minds.

Like it or not Google is here to stay- warts and all. An article in The Atlantic magazine recently on whether Google is making us dumb or dumber, is answered in this op-ed piece in the NYTimes:

"Everyone has been talking about an article in The Atlantic magazine called “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” Some subset of that group has actually read the 4,175-word article, by Nicholas Carr.

To save you some time, I was going to give you a 100-word abridged version. But there are just too many distractions to read that much. So here is the 140-character Twitter version (Twitter is a hyperspeed form of blogging in which you write about your life in bursts of 140 characters or fewer, including spaces and punctuation marks):

Google makes deep reading impossible. Media changes. Our brains’ wiring changes too. Computers think for us, flattening our intelligence.

If you managed to wade through that, maybe you are thinking that Twitter, not Google, is the enemy of human intellectual progress.&qu…

Palin + McCain Equals More Bush

Helen Thomas, veteran journalist in the US and doyen of the White House press corp is probably better placed than anyone to make an assessment of the incumbents of the White House and those who are wannabees.

She writes in her piece in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that a Palin-McCain "ticket" or presidency would be equal to that of George W - with all that entails:

"There is no question that Palin has given a big lift to McCain and helped boost his ratings so that he's now virtually tied with Barack Obama, the Democratic nominee. As a team, McCain and Palin are on the same page. Both are pro-guns and anti-abortion. She is literally a rifle-toting mama, against sex education and has attempted to ban books she considers immoral from her hometown library.

But Palin's evangelical rigidity on social issues puts her out of step with the modern woman. She is said to be more reactionary than McCain -- if that's possible. Is it any wonder that activist feminist organ…

Oprah......role model for Saudi women?

Strange as it might seem, but Oprah is seen as role model for many Saudi women, as the NY Times reports:

"Once a month, Nayla says, she writes a letter to Oprah Winfrey.

A young Saudi homemaker who covers her face in public might not seem to have much in common with an American talk show host whose image is known to millions. Like many women in this conservative desert kingdom, Nayla does not usually socialize with people outside her extended family, and she never leaves her house unless chaperoned by her husband.

Ms. Winfrey has not answered the letters. But Nayla says she is still hoping.

“I feel that Oprah truly understands me,” said Nayla, who, like many of the women interviewed, would not let her full name be used. “She gives me energy and hope for my life. Sometimes I think that she is the only person in the world who knows how I feel.”

Nayla is not the only Saudi woman to feel a special connection to the American media mogul. When “The Oprah Winfrey Show” was first broadcast in…

Some birthday!

AlterNet reports on a continuing scandal:

"Yesterday was the birthday of Guantanamo's child soldier and sole Canadian citizen, Omar Khadr, who has been held in isolation since he was 15. Tools

On Friday, Omar Khadr, the sole Canadian citizen in Guantanamo, marked his 22nd birthday in isolation. Seized in Afghanistan when he was just 15 years old, Omar has now spent nearly a third of his life in U.S. custody, in conditions that ought to be shameful to the U.S. administration responsible for holding him and to the Canadian government that has abdicated its responsibilities toward him.

Under the terms of the Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (on the involvement of children in armed conflict), to which both the United States and Canada are signatories, juvenile prisoners -- defined as those accused of a crime that took place when they were under 18 years of age -- "require special protection." The Optional Protocol specifically recognizes &q…

Dead on arrival

Ehud Olmert may have departed as Israeli PM and people speak of Foreign Minister Livni as his successor - with perhaps a different approach to resolving the Israeli-Palestinian issues - but until Israel adopts a human face to its actions there can never be a resolution of the conflict. The actions of the Israelis and its IDF can only be described as contemptible and uttely disgraceful and inhuman.

Gideon Levi, writing in Haaretz, instances the latest piece of IDF "behaviour" at a border-crossing which can only be roundly condemnded:

"Nothing helped. Not the pleas, not the cries of the woman in labor, not the father's explanations in excellent Hebrew, nor the blood that flowed in the car. The commander of the checkpoint, a fine Israeli who had completed an officers' course, heard the cries, saw the women writhing in pain in the back seat of the car, listened to the father's heartrending pleas and was unmoved. The heart of the Israeli officer was indifferent …

Coming your way....a new currency and economic order?

The world-wide financial meltdown triggered by and from Wall St. gives rise to the Chinese - also caught up in the present carnage - to question whether a new currency order isn't called for. Perhaps it's the after-glow of the Olympics, but whatever, China is a power and force to be reckoned with.

Reuters reports in "China paper urges new currency order after "financial tsunami":

"Threatened by a "financial tsunami," the world must consider building a financial order no longer dependent on the United States, a leading Chinese state newspaper said on Wednesday.

The commentary in the overseas edition of the People's Daily said the collapse of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc (LEH.P: Quote, Profile, Research, Stock Buzz) "may augur an even larger impending global 'financial tsunami'."

The People's Daily is the official newspaper of China's ruling Communist Party, and the overseas edition is a smaller circulation offshoot of t…

The Murdoch press - and irresponsibility

Crikey, more than rightly, attacks the irresponsibility of the Murdoch press - especially in the current climate of financial angst - in relation to its so-called flagship Australian newspaper:

"Where does power end and responsibility start? That's a timely question for Mr Rupert Murdoch and the editors of his local flagship, The Australian, as they ponder the impact today of their "quality" journalism on the fate of one of the pillars of Australian finance, Macquarie Bank.

Macquarie shares have lost some 25 per cent of their value in two days in the wake of a highly speculative, highly questionable, highly irresponsible and highly damaging story by Adele Ferguson in The Australian yesterday. Ferguson asserted that MacBank must refinance $45 billion in debt by March next year -- and that was followed up today with further negative "analysis" by the newspaper's "expert" commentators. The claims were bluntly denied in a statement by Macquarie, wh…

US troops in Iraq say it as it was!

Well known journalist Dahr Jamail writing on IPS under the headline "BOOKS-IRAQ: "We Blew Her to Pieces":

"Aside from the Iraqi people, nobody knows what the U.S. military is doing in Iraq better than the soldiers themselves. A new book gives readers vivid and detailed accounts of the devastation the U.S. occupation has brought to Iraq, in the soldiers' own words.

"Winter Soldier Iraq and Afghanistan: Eyewitness Accounts of the Occupation," published by Haymarket Books Tuesday, is a gut-wrenching, historic chronicle of what the U.S. military has done to Iraq, as well as its own soldiers.

Authored by Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) and journalist Aaron Glantz, the book is a reader for hearings that took place in Silver Spring, Maryland between Mar. 13-16, 2008 at the National Labour College."

This does not make for "pretty" reading. The complete piece can be found here.

White Hunter Dershowitz Bagged Finkelstein-- Now Claims Carter Too

MPS has always regarded Alan Dershowitz, professor of law at Harvard, as a disgrace. Certainly his behaviour when he sees someone attack Israel or its conduct, is akin to a pit bull terrier. Reason and any semblence of decent discourse goes out the window.

Mondoweiss now records in "White Hunter Dershowitz Bagged Finkelstein-- Now Claims Carter Too":

"If you wonder why Obama can't run against the neocons, well this is how the world works: Alan Dershowitz is claiming that he is responsible for getting Jimmy Carter banned from speaking at the Democratic Convention because the former president likened conditions on the West Bank to apartheid. Dershowitz repeatedly refers to Carter as a "bigot." Oh my. And says that barring Carter was his price for supporting the Democratic Party.

I played a role in seeking to persuade the Democrats to disinvite Carter. I made it clear that I could not support a party that honored a b****t like Carter. Many others— Jews and n…

And these are allies?

Strange goings-on, but then when George W covertly agrees to raids and incursions of US forces into ally Pakistan's territory, it isn't all that surprising that the Pakistanis are firing on those Americans forces. The Washington Post reports:

"The United States' top military officer flew unexpectedly into Pakistan on Tuesday night to meet with senior officials amid a tense confrontation between the two allies over recent U.S. military incursions into Pakistan in pursuit of al-Qaeda and Taliban extremists.

The unannounced visit by Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, came hours after a spokesman for Pakistan's army was reported as saying that the country's soldiers had orders to "open fire" if U.S. forces attempt a cross-border raid similar to a Sept. 3 commando operation in which about 20 people were killed.

Lt. Col. Gary Tallman, a spokesman for Mullen, said the admiral would focus "on working more closely with the Pakist…

Two into One

The Israelis may still be talking about a two-State solution, but the Palestinians may be having second thoughts about it, as the Toronto Star reports in a piece "Palestinians revive idea of one-state solution":

"Among Palestinians, the idea has long been out of fashion. But in recent weeks, the notion of a single bi-national state for Arabs and Jews has experienced something of a revival among Palestinians, most notably when Sari Nusseibeh, a respected intellectual and president of Al Quds University in East Jerusalem, spoke favourably about the concept in a lengthy interview with an Israeli newspaper.

"I think one should maybe begin, on the Palestinian side, to begin a debate, to re-engage in the idea of one state," Nusseibeh said, in remarks published last month by Haaretz.

The main point of Nusseibeh, 59, was that the search for a two-state solution – an independent Palestine dwelling alongside Israel – is now floundering so badly it may never recover.

After m…

Heading toward Cuban Missile Crisis II?

NewStatesman reports on state of affairs which seems to ignored by the media - the build up of navies by both the US and the Russians in the Caribbean:

"A ratcheting up of tension in the Caribbean is underway with the deployment of ships and other military hardware by the US and Russia. Where will it end asks Hugh O'Shaughnessy

The black shadow of the Cuban missile crisis, that series of miscalculations and mishaps which brought the world closer to the abyss of nuclear war in 1962 than ever before or since, is rapidly falling over the Caribbean once again.

In July the US government decided to resurrect its navy’s Fourth Fleet for the first time since 1950 and get it sailing round the Western Hemisphere. The idea, according to the US Navy is to “promote coalition building and deter aggression” and “to promote peace, stability, and prosperity”. That is a very tall order. For one thing it is difficult to see any Latin American state threatening the US with the sort of military aggr…

Surprise! Talk with Iran say 5 former Secretaries of State

Some would say it's the bleeding obvious, but the suggestion to talk with Iran has been an anathema for the Bush White House.

Now 5 former Secretaries of State, both Democrat and Republican, have suggested it, as Associated Press reports:

"Five former secretaries of state, gathering to give their best advice to the next president, agreed Monday that the United States should talk to Iran.

The wide-ranging, 90-minute session in a packed auditorium at The George Washington University, produced exceptional unity among Madeleine Albright, Colin Powell, Warren Christopher, Henry A. Kissinger and James A. Baker III.

But they didn't agree on who should move into the Oval Office next January.

Albright, a Democrat, surprised no one by endorsing Barack Obama. "It would be sending a message of diversity" to the world, she said, drawing cheers from an audience of dozens of diplomats and hundreds of students.

Baker, a Republican, said he wished to send a "powerful messag…

Ouch! Economies in Free Fall

Things are getting decidedly ugly on Wall St. - and as a consequence around the globe.

As William Greider writes on The Nation, Washington has quite quickly stepped up to the plate to stop free fall in the US economy. Whether it will all work is another matter. However, as Greider points out:

"The bailouts are rewarding the very people and institutions whose reckless behavior caused this financial mess. Yet government demands nothing from them in return--like new rules for prudent behavior and explicit obligations to serve the national interest. Washington ought to compel the financial players to rein in their appetite for profit in order to help save the country from a far worse fate: a depressed economy that cannot regain its normal energies. Instead, the Federal Reserve, the Treasury, the Democratic Congress and of course the Republicans meekly defer to the wise men of high finance, who no longer seem so all-knowing."

On the trail of Gilad Shalit, the lost soldier

Two years ago, the 19-year-old Israeli conscript Gilad Shalit was kidnapped by Palestinians. He has since become a pawn in the Middle East conflict. But where is he hidden? Christine Toomey. writing on TimesOnLine, goes to the Gaza Strip in search of the answer.

Her piece "On the trail of Gilad Shalit, the lost soldier" provides some rare insights into Gaza and various groups there.

An example:

"Passing through the Erez checkpoint from Israel into Gaza is to move from relative prosperity and order to dire poverty and chaos. The first sight that greets you is the twisted metal and rubble of what was once a bustling industrial estate, razed to the ground by the Israeli military in one of many bombardments of the area since Shalit was kidnapped. More than 1,000 Gazans have been killed by Israeli security forces since his abduction.

Nearly every building on the northern outskirts of Gaza City is pockmarked with bullet holes or scorched by Israeli shellfire. But pressing deeper…

The F-card won't wash

"The New York Post calls her "a feminist dream". National Public Radio asks if she's the "new face of feminism". And The Wall Street Journal, ever subtle, calls it "Sarah Palin Feminism". I call it well-spun garbage. (Yes, I'd even call it a pig in lipstick.)

It seems you can't open a newspaper or turn on the television without running across a piece about how the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Sarah Palin, is not just a feminist, but the feminist — a sign that all is right in the US when it comes to gender equality.

Palin's conservative cohorts are claiming her candidacy as a win for women and proof that it's Republicans who are the real agents of change. After all, what more could American women want in a vice-presidential candidate than a well-coiffed "hockey mom"?

Never mind that Palin talks about her teen daughter's decision to keep her child while awaiting the chance to take that choice away from American…

Winning friends and influencing people - through arms?

The NY Times reports in "U.S. Arms Sales Climbing Rapidly" on arms sales by the US won't come as a great surprise to many, but is it a wise way to win friends and influence people? Most likely not....and then, what are the repercussions of all these sales?

"The Bush administration is pushing through a broad array of foreign weapons deals as it seeks to rearm Iraq and Afghanistan, contain North Korea and Iran, and solidify ties with onetime Russian allies.

From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005.

The trend, which started in 2006, is most pronounced in the Middle East, but it reaches into northern Africa, Asia, Latin America, Europe and even Canada, through dozens of deals that senior Bush administration officia…

Flying those now unfriendly skies

Flying has undoubtedly got more than its fair share of hassles , especially in the US. The term, unfriendly skies, isn't without reason.

The Travel section of the NY Times has a piece written by a reporter who donned the airline uniform and saw what things were like from the "other side".

Just one example:

"Certainly the one lesson I learned quickly — along with how to cross-check the doors and that Dansko clogs are the footwear of choice among experienced flight attendants — was how to say “no” politely. No to the young Indian man who asked for a blanket for his mother who was shivering in her sari next to him. (There were none left.) No to the hungry passenger who wanted to purchase a cookie. (We had already sold the only two stocked for the flight.) No to the guy who, like many of his fellow passengers, was concerned he wouldn’t make his connecting flight because of our late departure and pleaded, “Can you call and find out?” (Sorry, but here’s the customer servic…

A White House turned the colour of "lipstick?"

It is hard to ignore the Palin [and McCain if anyone remembers him] bandwagon. How this will all play out in the scheme of things is yet to be seen. It seems, however, that the Obama camp has resumed some traction and approach to the Palin-McCain ticket - or should that be the other way around?

That is the very question Frank Rich, columnist in the NY Times poses:

"With all due deference to lipstick, let’s advance the story. A week ago the question was: Is Sarah Palin qualified to be a heartbeat away from the presidency? The question today: What kind of president would Sarah Palin be?

It’s an urgent matter, because if we’ve learned anything from the G.O.P. convention and its aftermath, it’s that the 2008 edition of John McCain is too weak to serve as America’s chief executive. This unmentionable truth, more than race, is now the real elephant in the room of this election.

No longer able to remember his principles any better than he can distinguish between Sunnis and Shia, McCain…

A heart-breaking discovery and revelation

Anyone who has seriously followed the Iraq War will know the by-line of journalist Patrick Cockburn who writes for The Independent. He is a superb journalist who has fearlessly reported on a horrendous war which has engulfed Iraq.

Writing for "his" newspaper, Cockburn on this occasion writes on a subject no one would hope to have to experience. As The Independent headlines the piece "Patrick Cockburn: My son, the schizophrenic":

"He was a witty, gifted, charming young man. Then, six years ago, something changed. Patrick Cockburn recalls how his son slid into mental illness, while Henry Cockburn describes his life with schizophrenia".