Archive | June 7th, 2011

Zio-Nazi’s in Kashmir

NOVANEWS

“”In 1993 the then Israeli foreign minister, Zio-Nazi Shimon Peres, reportedly advised the Hindu nationalist leader LK Advani to alter the demographic composition of the mutinous Kashmir valley by settling Hindus there. Advani, later India’s deputy prime minister, fondly quoted from Netanyahu’s book on terrorism, given to him by the author. Zio-Nazi counter-insurgency experts now regularly visit KASHMIR.””

In India and IsraHell, the burden of protest falls on the victims of injustice

The moment of truth is approaching for Obama and his like who preach the high morality of non-violence to the powerless.

At a dark moment in postcolonial history, when many US-backed despots seemed indestructible, the great Urdu poet Faiz Ahmed Faiz, whose centenary falls this year, wrote: “We shall witness [the day] when the enormous mountains of tyranny blow away like cotton”. That miraculous day promised by the poet finally came in Egypt and Tunisia this spring. We have since witnessed many of the world’s acknowledged legislators scrambling to get on the right side of history.

Addressing – yet again – the “Muslim world” last month, Barack Obama hailed “the moral force of non-violence”, through which “the people of the region have achieved more change in six months than terrorists have accomplished in decades”. But Obama failed to acknowledge to his highly politicised audience the fact that the United States enabled, and often required, the “relentless tyranny of governments that deny their citizens dignity”. And he gave no sign that he would respect the moral authority of non-violent mass movements ranged against America’s closest allies, India and Israel.

Let’s not forget: before the Arab spring of 2011, there was the Kashmiri summer of 2010. Provoked by the killing of a teenage boy in June last year, hundreds of thousands of Kashmiris took to the streets to protest against India’s brutal military occupation of the Muslim-majority valley. Summer is the usual “season for a face-off in Kashmir”, as the Indian filmmaker Sanjay Kak writes in Until My Freedom Has Come: The New Intifada in Kashmir, a lively anthology of young Kashmiri writers, activists, rappers and graphic artists. There is little doubt that Kashmiris, emboldened by the Arab spring, will again stage massive demonstrations in their towns and villages.

The chances of a third intifada in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel are just as high, as Binyamin Netanyahu devises ever greater hurdles to self-determination for his Arab subjects. In the next few months we will see more clearly than before how India and Israel – billed respectively as the world’s largest, and the Middle East’s only, democracy – respond to unarmed mass movements.

Certainly, they have shown no sign of fresh thinking, even as the victims of their occupations grow more inventive. India’s security establishment fell back last summer on reflexes conditioned by two decades of fighting a militant insurgency during which more than 70,000 people, mostly civilians, have died; 8,000 have “disappeared”, often into mass graves; and innumerable others have been subjected to “systematic torture“, according to a rare public outburst by the Red Cross.

Last summer soldiers fired at demonstrators, killing 112 civilians, mostly teenagers (Kashmir has many of its own Hamza al-Khatibs). The government imposed round-the-clock curfews (one village was locked in for six weeks) and banned text messaging on mobile phones, while police spies infiltrated Facebook groups in an attempt to hunt down demo organisers.

Faced with non-violent Palestinian protesters, who correctly deduce that their methods have a better chance of influencing world opinion than Hamas’s suicide bombers, Israel hasn’t varied its repertoire of repression much. For years now the West Bank village of Bil’in has campaigned against the Israeli government’s appropriation of its lands. Israel responded by jailing its leader, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, often called the Palestinian Gandhi, for 15 months – “solely”, according to Amnesty International “for the peaceful exercise of his right to freedom of expression and assembly”.

Encouraged by Egyptians and Tunisians, masses of unarmed Palestinians marched last month to the borders of Israel to mark the dispossession of 750,000 Palestinians in Mandate Palestine. Israeli soldiers met them with live gunfire, killing more than a dozen and wounding scores of others.

Of course, occupations damage the occupier no less than the occupied. Revanchist nationalism has corroded democratic and secular institutions in both India and Israel, which, not surprisingly, have developed a strong military relationship in the recent decade. Hindu nationalists feel an elective affinity with Israel for its apparently uncompromising attitude to Muslim minorities. In 1993 the then Israeli foreign minister, Shimon Peres, reportedly advised the Hindu nationalist leader LK Advani to alter the demographic composition of the mutinous Kashmir valley by settling Hindus there. Advani, later India’s deputy prime minister, fondly quoted from Netanyahu’s book on terrorism, given to him by the author. Israeli counter-insurgency experts now regularly visit Kashmir.

India and Israel, both products of botched imperial partitions, were the Bush government’s two most avid international boosters of the catastrophic “war on terror”, fluently deploying the ideological templates of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – democracy versus terrorism, liberalism versus fundamentalism – to justify their own occupations.

Aggressively jingoistic media helped hardliners in both countries to demonise their political adversaries as terrorists or terrorist sympathisers. Meanwhile, liberal opinion grew almost inaudible. Writing recently in the New York Review of Books, the Israeli scholar and activist David Shulman lamented: “Israeli academic intellectuals as a group have failed to mount a sustained and politically effective protest against the occupation.” This is also true of the Indian intelligentsia.

So the burden of non-violent protest in India and Israel has fallen almost entirely on the victims of the occupation. Indeed, many liberal commentators try to condone their passivity by deploring the absence of non-violent protests in Kashmir and Palestine (never mind the fact that the first intifadas in both places in the late 1980s turned violent only after being savagely suppressed).

The moment of truth is fast approaching for those powerful men who preach the high morality of non-violence to the powerless. Only an American veto seems likely to prevent the member states of the UN from declaring a new Palestinian state in September. But Palestinians may rise up against their colonial overlords well before this expected rejection. And, as the political philosopher Michael Walzer points out, Israel would then confront “something radically new. How can it resist masses of men and women, children too, just walking across the ceasefire lines?”

The tactics of young tech-savvy Kashmiris have already confused and bewildered the Indian government, whose recent actions – censoring the Economist, forcing spying rights out of BlackBerry and Google – evoke the last-minute desperation of the Arab world’s mukhabarat (secret police) states. The mass movement in Kashmir, which has emerged after two decades of a futile militant insurgency and has no compromising links to Pakistan, poses, as the Kashmiri journalist Parvaiz Bukhari writes in Until My Freedom Has Come, an unprecedented “moral challenge to New Delhi’s military domination over the region”.

The stage is set, then, for a summer of protests, of unarmed masses rising up to express, in Obama’s words, “a longing for freedom that has built up for years”. They may well meet with live bullets rather than offers of negotiation and compromise. It will be fascinating to see if Obama makes good his claim last month that the United States “opposes violence and repression” and “welcomes change that advances self-determination”. Certainly, as the corpses of the Palestinian and Kashmiri Hamza al-Khatibs pile up, there will be the usual flurry of intellectual rationalisations – the bogey of Islamic terror will again be invoked. And we will witness how the “enormous mountains of tyranny” in the world’s greatest democracies do not blow away like cotton.

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Democracy Now reports from the Rafah border crossing

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by ADAM HOROWITZ

 

 

I graduated from law school two weeks ago. Last Tuesday, I decided to take the evening away from boring bar prep outlines and write a few lines of poetry. I have sorely neglected my writing for a few months as I focus on transitioning from student to grown up but the lines needed to come out. So I sat in a pizza parlor in Los Angeles near where I live, ordered some food and put my pen in my hand. At first I thought my eyes were playing tricks, because I’ve spent so much time listening to his music, reading his words, watching him perform. Maybe it was just my mind, I thought, but there was no mistaking that black hat, he was wearing exactly what he wears on stage, and then I heard him speak. Oh gosh.

The legendary singer-songwriter and poet, Leonard Cohen, had walked into the pizzeria. I knew I had to approach him, because he is not just a writer whose work I’ve learned and grown from, but because there is some unfinished business between Leonard and me. A year and a half ago, he made the decision to play a concert in Tel Aviv only months after the Israeli government perpetrated a horror on the people of Gaza, Operation Cast Lead. According to B’tselem, the Israeli human rights group, 1,389 Palestinians were killed, 789 of whom did not take part in hostilities. This all happened in the context of Israel’s ongoing military occupation and settlement of Palestinian land, which has rendered the Palestinians second class citizens in the country their ancestors built. The Israel Discount Bank, which according to Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace is deeply involved in Israel’s settlement building enterprise, co-sponsored Cohen’s concert.

Despite my disappointment, I understand where Leonard Cohen is coming from. Artists want their work heard far and wide and don’t want politics to get between them and their audiences. And coming to terms with Israel’s perpetuation of Palestinian suffering wasn’t easy for me as I’m sure it’s not easy for Cohen. Speaking it aloud felt like I was betraying my own. I worried that I was helping those who wanted to demonize Israelis if I acknowledged Israel’s crimes publicly. What I found when I became involved in the struggle against the occupation, however, is that Israelis march side by side with Palestinians every weekend to protest the confiscation of Palestinian land. Israelis also play an important role in undermining those who profit off of Palestinian suffering. The BDS movement embodies co-existence and peace, because it is made up of Palestinians, Israelis and people around the world working together to stop those who would profit off of suffering and war. When an artist chooses to support the boycott, he or she makes a strong statement that bolsters these unpopular voices for change.

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Yemen’s Power Vacuum and Transition Prospects

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John Glaser

 

Yemen’s current head of state, Vice President Abedrabo Mansur Hadi, has rejected offers to negotiate an transitional government until President Saleh returns from Saudi Arabia where he is receiving medical treatment for wounds suffered in an attack on his compound. There are still mass demonstrations, largely peaceful, occurring in the captial Sana’a as well as some scattered, deadly fighting in the south. A Joint Meeting of opposition parties has actually agreed to recognize Hadi for the time being (while still trying to play for a transition), there are whispers of at least some informal ceasefire, and army troops loyal to Saleh have withdrawn from the streets (here).

But there are good reasons to believeSaleh won’t be returning to Yemen any time soon: he has shrapnel in his chest, burns over 40 percent of his body and a collapsed lungDaniel Pipes at the National Review lists some other reasons he may not return and also believes there is a power vacuum developing:

If Saleh is history (as he likely is, since too many forces have arrayed against him for him to return to power, and the Saudis may not let him leave), his successor will have difficulty ruling even the meager portion of the country that he controlled.

Because many factions with diverse aims are competing for power — Saleh’s allies, Houthi rebels in the north, a secessionist movement in the south, al-Qaeda-style forces, a youth movement, the military, certain tribes, and the Ahmar family — they will not coalesce into a neat two-way conflict. Anarchy, in other words, looks more probable than civil war; Somalia and Afghanistan could be models.

With Saleh’s potentially permanent departure, it’s not clear how the conflict proceeds. Initial concerns of an all-out civil war may, as Pipes suggests, diminish given the fractured nature of the tribal and factional struggle now. To boot, Yemen’s economy and infrastructure is more terrible than many have been letting on:

The problem begins with an increasingly cataclysmic water shortage.Gerhard Lichtenth?ler, a specialist on this topic, wrote in 2010 about how in many of the country’s mountainous areas, available drinking water, usually drawn from a spring or a cistern, is down to less than one quart per person per day. Its aquifers are being mined at such a rate that groundwater levels have been falling by 10 to 20 feet annually, threatening agriculture and leaving major cities without adequate safe drinking water. Sanaa could be the first capital city in the world to run dry.

And not just Sana’a: As a London Times headline put it, Yemen “could become first nation to run out of water.” Nothing this extreme has happened in modern times, although similar patterns of drought have developed in Syria and Iraq.

Scarce food resources, columnist David Goldman points out, threaten to leave large numbers of Middle Easterners hungry.  One-third of Yemenis faced chronic hunger before the unrest. That fraction is growing quickly.

The prospect of economic collapse looms larger by the day. Oil supplies are reduced to the point that “trucks and buses at petrol stations queue for hours, while water supply shortages and power blackouts are a daily norm,” according to the Arab Times. Productive activity is proportionately in decline.

My guess is that for the moment the Saudis are in the front seat in terms of external influence, and I speculate that any decisive action by the U.S. will be kept secret for now. Yemen is too unpredictable and potentially dangerous from the perspective of the Obama administration, but also extremely important to maintain dominion over because of its geography as well as the concentration of al Qaeda there. The outlook would be better if there were some viable and immediate alternative post-Saleh that the people (particularly the youth movement) could get behind, but that doesn’t seem to be the case.

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Expected Syrian Violence, Potential U.S. Response

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John Glaser

As I feared yesterday, the Syrian government is using yesterday’s alleged attack and killing of 120 security forces by protesters (yet to be verified) as a justification for a massive use of force upon the Syrian people. Residents of the town Jisr al-Shughour, where the alleged killings took place, are fleeing saying they fear an oncoming slaughter.

The government says it will act “with force” to combat “armed gangs” that it blames for the recent killings. Activists say the cause of the deaths is unclear, and may involve a mutiny.

Residents have posted messages on Facebook saying they fear a slaughter and appealing for help from outside.They called on people to try to block roads leading to the town with burning tyres, rocks and tree trunks. Syrian army tanks and troop carriers backed by helicopters were reported to be on the move.

Activists insist the uprising against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad is peaceful and scorn the government’s talk of armed gangs.

Foreign journalists are banned from Syria, so minute-to-minute updates of the news may not be forthcoming. There has apparently been a draft UN Security Council resolution  drawn up by France, Britain, Germany and Portugal condemning Assad’s regime and requesting he open areas of Syria to humanitarian teams. Obviously, Assad is unlikely to agree to such a request and unfortunately Russia is expected to veto the resolution.

Given the fact that Syria is not a client state of the U.S., and that there is even high amounts of tension between us (plus the Israeli factor), there is a possibility the apparently oncoming brutality towards civilians will prompt a direct intervention by the U.S. Some at this point argue it is unlikely Obama would get involved officially in a fourth war in the Middle East, but that is also what was said before our Libya intervention. The two conflicts are beginning to have important similarities (armed insurrection turning into civil war, clear sides to take, 1000+ civilians killed and more expected, etc.). Ground troops are as unlikely as they were in Libya, but attacks from the air aimed at destabilizing the Assad regime and preventing civilian casualties just may be in the cards.

Part of the issue here is that Libya is much less important than Syria. The authoritarianism of Assad’s regime has not been a concern of the U.S. for years. Washington welcomes brutality and virtual slavery so long as the regime in question provides “stability” (Washington code word for obedience on the international stage). This has been one of the primary reasons no intervention has yet taken place. But with the protests and killings at the Golan Heights yesterday, continued “stability” is in question and thus staying on the sidelines is increasingly unlikely.

Another issue is any sort of post-Assad plan. With the U.S. commitment to ruling the world through unlimited geographical jurisdiction, choosing a post-Assad leadership becomes the most important part of the calculus in private, while protecting civilians is most important publicly.

James Dorsey at Al Arabiya:

The potential escalation in Syria poses a dilemma for the United States and Europe as well as for Arab states and Israel. The Obama administration and its allies have so far stopped short of calling for Mr. Assad’s departure because of uncertainty about who might succeed him; fear that Islamists factions could emerge stronger in a post-Assad era; concern that armed rebellion would split Syria along religious lines with Christians and Alawites backing the president and Sunnis and Kurds populating the rebels; and anxiety that the turmoil could spill across Syria’s borders into Jordan, Israel, Turkey and Lebanon, home to the Syrian-backed Hezbollah militia.

The escalating violence is however making it increasingly difficult for the international community to stick to the principle that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t.

That is not to say that there is any love lost between Mr. Assad, who was a key member of former President George W. Bush’s axis of evil because of his ties to Iran as well as Hezbollah and Palestine’s Hamas, and Western leaders such as President Barack Obama. Mr. Assad nonetheless was a predictable foe who refused to engage in US-sponsored Middle East peace efforts and efforts to force Iran to concede on its nuclear program but stopped short of rocking the boat.

French Foreign Minister Alain Joppe, in an indication that an escalation would force the US and its allies to review their view of Mr. Assad, warned Monday that the Syrian leader had “lost his legitimacy” to rule Syria. Mr. Joppe’s remarks were the first time a Western leader effectively called for Mr. Assad’s departure.

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Peaceful Protests = Zio-Nazi Violence

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Joseph Dana:

 

The demonstration started off peacefully and then the army attacked the nonviolent demonstration with tear gas and stun grenades. Some Palestinians began throwing stones.

via Matt Yglesias:

It’s often been suggested in the American press that if Palestinians would stop engaging in terrorist violence and adopt non-violent protest that they’d make more headway in their quest for a nation. Putting that idea to the test, earlier this week a group of Palestinian protestors attempted to cross through the Qalandia Checkpoint in the West Bank that separates Ramallah from Jerusalem.

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Establishment Calls for Regime Change, Syrian Prospects

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John Glaser

Former Bush official and current senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations Elliot Abrams is salivating with eager anticipation over the prospect that the U.S. – in its omniscience – will oust another Middle Eastern regime. I’m sure he can’t contain himself, and all the terrible death and destruction and law-breaking of the Bush regime has exited his mind forever, as he explains how “powerful” is the argument for “getting Assad out.” After all, it would be a kick in the knees for Iran and Hezbollah.

The strategic argument for getting Assad out is powerful: it would be a huge defeat for Iran and Hezbollah, and indeed the greatest defeat we could administer to Iran short of ending its nuclear program.

(What nuclear program?)

Forget the fact that Iran is basically a threat to nobody, we can see here how embedded is the notion of regime change as a legitimate function of the U.S. government in the minds of the political intelligentsia. He sees nothing wrong with donning America as ruler of the entire Middle East, granting governments the right to exist, or not so, by our own righteousness.

Even as he urges America towards the same brutal and lawless foreign policy its had for a century, he does present some interesting findings about the opinions of the Syrian population. France 24 reports:

Syrian opposition protesters are not just calling for the fall of President Bashar al-Assad: they have recently begun directing their anger against his regional allies, Iran and Hezbollah. Our Observer says this is a new and unexpected turn of events.

Videos of recent protests in Syria show demonstrators chanting slogans against Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of Iran’s Islamic revolution, as well as the Hezbollah, an Islamist political party from Lebanon with a powerful armed wing. Even more surprising has been footage of protesters burning posters of Hassan Nasrallah, Hezbollah’s secretary-general and a widely respected figure throughout the Middle East.

Their anger is a result of Tehran’s and Hezbollah’s unwavering support for the Syrian government, even as it ruthlessly crushes its own people’s calls for more democracy.

I find this interesting for two reasons. First, it shows that Syrians have not been so excessively cut off from the world by Assad’s regime – one of the most restrictive in the region – that they can’t develop cohesive, reasonable political opinions with great importance for their role in the region. This presents a hope that they can mobilize a viable alternative representative of their preferences if Assad were to be overthrown.

Second, its interesting how Abrams can easily recognize why an entire country of people can protest and chant slogans decrying another government’s repressive and intrusive policies. The only reason he has the ability to recognize this, and understand it for what it is, is because in this case those intrusive policies come from Iran. When Iranians, however, or Egyptians, or Iraqis, or Pakistanis pour into the streets and chant “Death to America!” or some such slogan, that’s an exemplification of how radical and illogical Middle Eastern societies are; it’s a sober reminder for why America needs an interventionist foreign policy and why we need to ensure that democracy is suppressed throughout the region.

He suffers from the same fallacy driving all of these calls – Republican and Democratic – for the administration of regime change in various cases of this Arab Spring.

Unfortunately for us, the Elliot Abramses of the world did not depart with the Bush administration.

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I mean, what would Desmond Tutu know about apartheid anyway?

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He’s compared the situation in Palestine today to those suffered by blacks under apartheid in South Africa.

But comically, Murdoch’s Australian newspaper – always a wonderful defender of the underdog as long as they have solid business or media contacts – thinks Tutu should shut up about Palestine. It’s not like has any clue what he’s talking about:

Anglican archbishop Desmond Tutu played an outstanding role in opposing apartheid in South Africa and helping reconcile the nation after majority rule. But such experience in his own country does not qualify him to meddle in other complex conflicts. In praising the Greens-controlled Marrickville Council in Sydney’s inner west for its boycotts, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel, the Nobel laureate has lent unwarranted credibility to an absurd, unjust policy.

His interference promotes the falsehood that life in Israel is akin to South Africa under apartheid. In reality, the 20 per cent of non-Jewish Israeli citizens, including 1.1 million Muslims, enjoy the same voting, property and employment rights as the Jewish majority, with whom they live side by side. Such equality was unheard of for the black majority under apartheid in South Africa and few Muslim women enjoy the same freedoms elsewhere in the Middle East.

The Australian opposes construction of settlements on the West Bank that take further Palestinian land. But until the Palestinians, including the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hamas that controls Gaza, recognise Israel’s right to exist and stop seeking its destruction, it is unreasonable to expect concessions. In recent decades, serious attempts by Israel to find a peaceful two-state solution have been rebuffed, often with hostility.

In 2000, then-PLO leader Yasser Arafat, unwilling to be seen to give up the fight with Israel, foolishly rejected an offer by Ehud Barak to set up an independent state in Gaza and 95 per cent of the West Bank, and territory from Israel proper to compensate for the remaining 5 per cent. An even more generous offer, including much of East Jerusalem, was made by Ehud Olmert in 2008 and rejected by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. Recently, Mr Abbas claimed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s promise of “a far-reaching compromise” if the Palestinians recognised Israel’s right to exist was a “declaration of war”.

The Marrickville campaign, which was opposed by all political leaders including senator Bob Brown and which would have cost ratepayers dearly, was thankfully dumped. On the ABC’s Q&A on Monday, Greens senator-elect Lee Rhiannon made a fool of herself talking up the boycotts and claiming Palestinians were subject to apartheid. Archbishop Tutu should be wise to such nonsense.

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Weiner Had Earlier Claimed “I Was the Victim of This.”

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Congressman Anthony Weiner Admits Lying, Sending Lewd Picture

by James Buchanan

At first Congressman Weiner claimed that someone hacked into his account and sent a lewd picture to a 21 year old woman in Seattle. This sounds like the sort of lame excuse a parent would get from a teenaged kid, who just got caught sexting. Weiner also had claimed he didn’t know if the picture of the bulging boxer shorts was him. (He’s lucky he doesn’t get thrown out of Congress for being a bad liar.) Shouldn’t most adults have a clue if they’ve taken pictures of themselves in their underwear? If you don’t know for certain if such a picture has been taken or is floating around the Internet, you’re probably drinking way, way too much.

A recent news article reports “After days of denials, a choked-up Rep. Anthony Weiner confessed Monday that he tweeted a photo of his bulging underpants to a young woman, and he also admitted to ‘inappropriate’ exchanges with six women before and after he got married. He apologized for lying but said he would not resign. ‘This was me doing a dumb thing and doing it repeatedly and lying about it,’ the 46-year-old New York Democrat said after a week of double-entendre headlines and late-night wisecracks full of Weiner jokes. House Democratic leader Nancy Pelosi immediately called for an ethics committee investigation into whether Weiner broke House rules. The congressman — who was widely expected to run for mayor of New York in 2013 — said at a half-hour news conference that he had never personally met any of the women he corresponded with online and sometimes via telephone over the past three years, and was not even sure of their ages. He also said he had never had sex outside of his marriage. He said he did not feel the scandal affected his work as a lawmaker but would understand if his constituents decided not to re-elect him. ‘I’m going to work very hard to win back their trust,’ he said.”

Winning back trust may be a little difficult considering that news of other sexual Internet conversations by Weiner are already leaking out.

An article on Radaronline reports “In a salacious new transcript of a conversation the embattled Democrat had with the woman, who lives in Nevada but does not want to be identified, the shamed politico asked whether his social networking pen pal gave ‘good’ oral sex.”

Another article reports “ABC News’ Jonathan Karl reports: Now that Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) has admitted having ‘inappropriate’ and ‘explicit’ online ‘conversations’ with six women…”

Why is it not a shock that this totally disgraced dirtbag refuses to resign from Congress? I suppose if you’re a middle-aged loser who spends his time cheating on his wife, searching the Internet for easy women, you would probably fit in with Congress more than any other place.

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The Social Crisis in America: Pick Your Poison

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By Joel S. Hirschhorn

Global Research,

One of the hardest truths to accept is that for most sources of pain hitting humans there seems to be nothing effective for government to do.  Nowadays, those of us who do not gobble various distractions but work to stay connected to reality see two dreadful conditions. People are dying or suffering from earthquakes, tsunamis, floods, tornadoes, wildfires, hurricanes, extreme heat, huge snow storms and more.

While you may be fighting your paranoia about being victimized by foul weather the other ugly reality already devastating the lives of so many people is a dismal set of economic conditions.  Contrary to all the usual lies by politicians about the economic recovery, a mountain of data shows non-delusional people that only the wealthy have escaped economic pain.

 

According to a recent Pew Charitable Trusts poll, 55 percent of Americans still rate the national economy as poor, and just 47 percent believe their kids will have a higher standard of living than they enjoy.  If more people paid closer attention to the facts, those percentages should be more like 80 or 90 percent.

 

The US has recovered just 1.8 million of the nearly 9 million jobs lost in the downturn versus an average 5.3 million job gains in the same period of the 1970s and 1980s recoveries.  The number of people with jobs has barely changed since June 2009 — up just 0.4 percent. Many economists say the turnaround shows no signs of generating the 300,000 to 400,000 monthly payroll additions needed to rapidly lower the unemployment rate.  There are probably about 50 million Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or no longer trying to get decent jobs, or who are close relatives of them.  The rise of the official unemployment rate in May, 2011 (the real level is twice as high) and a paltry new number of jobs just rubbed salt in the wound.  There simply is no basis for believing that many millions of new, good jobs will be created for many years.

 

Add the latest news that the housing market has turned even worse again, leading to the distressful conclusion that a double-dip recession has hit housing, which portends even wider economic pain.  Single family home prices dropped in March, 2011 to their lowest level since April 2009.  Millions of home foreclosures will be followed by even more.  Of all homes with mortgages 23 percent are worth less than what is owed.

 

And don’t forget that there are enormous numbers of Americans fighting hunger even though 68 percent of Americans are obese or overweight.  Forty four million Americans are getting food stamps.

 

Meanwhile higher prices for key necessities show that inflation is eating away at quality of life and living standards.  Gas prices climbed 52 percent over the past two years, according to the Department of Energy, and are only now decreasing a little as many Americans have cut back on their driving.  Food costs are also rising just like health care.

 

Nothing the government has done worked for ordinary Americans.  Many billions of dollars spent on reviving the economy have mainly helped the business sector and the rich.  Congress and President Obama have shown themselves to be utterly useless.  They mostly serve corporate interests.

 

Both the economic and climate futures look bleak, because they are bleak.

 

Pick your poison.  We are living in a time when natural and economic conditions are out of control and frightening.  But wait, there is some good news!

 

According to a new report by Boston Consulting Group, the number of millionaire households in the world grew by 12.2 percent in 2010, to 12.5 million.  Here is how millionaires are defined: Those with $1 million or more in investible assets, excluding homes, luxury goods and ownership in one’s own company.  Can you relate?  Even better news: The US still leads the world in millionaires, with 5.2 million millionaire households.

 

An even bigger truth is this: The world’s millionaires represent just 0.9 percent of the global population but control 39 percent of the world’s wealth, up from 37 percent in 2009.  Even more truth about economic inequality: Those with $5 million or more, who represent only 0.1 percent of the population, control 22 percent of the world’s wealth, up from 20 percent in 2009.  The rich are really getting richer.

 

If you face reality, remember that Obama promised back in February 2009 that his $830 billion stimulus plan would unleash “a new wave of innovation, activity and construction” and “ignite spending by businesses and consumers.”  Did not happen.

 

And in June 2010, Obama announced that the recovery was “well under way” and that it “is getting stronger by the day.” More poisonous propaganda.

 

A couple months later, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner wrote a New York Times op-ed headlined “Welcome to the Recovery.” More self-serving garbage.

 

In reality, two years after the recession officially ended there are few places beyond the stock market and corporate profits that have shown improvement, but even now the stock market is hurting.  The rich and powerful have not suffered.  But over the past decade, real private-sector wage growth has been a terrible 4 percent, just below the 5 percent increase from 1929 to 1939 during the Great Depression.

 

The Republicans who grabbed so much power in the last midterm elections show no capacity whatsoever to fix anything.  That Sarah Palin just as Donald Trump can grab so much media attention demonstrates how decrepit our nation is.

 

What is to be learned?  No member of Congress or the President deserves to be reelected.  Neither does any other Republican or Democrat.  Like extreme weather calamities, economic evils will continue to poison our lives.  Those who deny climate change and economic injustice are either stupid or delusional.  Waiting for divine intervention makes as much sense as anything, except that all the awful stuff happening, if God’s will, suggests such hope is folly.  Pass the poison.  Or wait for a tornado, home loss, or financial ruin to hit.  More bad news is coming.  But have you ever seen pictures of tornadoes destroying McMansions?

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Troop morale plummets in a war without purpose

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In Afghanistan, 80 percent have seen a friend killed or wounded

BY MICHAEL PRYSNER

Troops have experienced a 60 percent
increase in amputations, 90 percent
increase in wounds to genitals
.

The author is an Iraq war veteran and a co-founder of March Forward!

The Associated Press reports that soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan are suffering the highest rates of psychological problems since 2005. Similarly, troop morale is down the drain.

The reason for this is no mystery. A military report found that up to 80 percent of troops have witnessed a friend being killed or wounded in combat.

This is a staggering number. Indoctrinated from a young age, all the fantasies from a culture brimming with over-romanticized “glory” of war disappear when one watches a close friend’s legs blown off—the new “signature wound” in Afghanistan—and has to try to stop the gushing of blood by tying tourniquets around mangled flesh; or when one is powerless to do anything but watch someone die from the sheer devastation of their wounds, and having to literally pick up the pieces. This would have a devastating psychological effect on any person—even the most “Army Strong” of us. And 80 percent of us have had to endure it.

But it is much more than just the reality of combat that is responsible for plummeting morale. Human beings are capable of enduring great hardship when there is a feeling of purpose.

And what is the purpose of endlessly fighting in Afghanistan?

Well, for service members, we are told first and foremost that this is not our concern. Our job is to follow orders and trust the supreme wisdom of the politicians in Washington. They are all millionaires, so we are told they must be pretty smart! You know, they are people like Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, whose “expert” military and foreign policy decisions come from two whole years in the Air Force (never deploying), and much of the rest of his career spent in corporate boardrooms for weapons manufacturers and oil drilling companies. Surely, it is just a coincidence that his former office buddies are making record profits. Chances are he will not be having to watch any of them bleed to death in combat. Maybe that’s why on his trip to Afghanistan last week he said that there was “no rush” in removing combat troops.

No good reason for war in Afghanistan

But for those of us who do look for purpose in what we are doing, what do we find? We are told, on the one hand, that the purpose is to defeat al-Qaeda, but then we hear CIA Director Leon Panetta admit that there is virtually no al-Qaeda presence in Afghanistan; maybe “50-100 individuals,” he says. Over 100,000 troops on the ground in a 10-year war to fight 50 individuals? That makes a lot of sense. He also says to not pay attention to the fact that al-Qaeda is in 40 other countries as well—the fight is in Afghanistan, where, as a recent study found, only 8 percent of young men have even heard of the Sept. 11 attacks.

We are told that there is a purpose because we’re “making gains” against the resistance movement in Afghanistan—that we are “winning the war.” Then, an April White House report says that there is “no clear path” to defeating the insurgency. So when speaking to us, the people who have to do all the fighting and dying, the politicians say that “we are winning.” But amongst themselves, in the Oval Office and halls of Congress, they say “there is no possible way to win.” What a great sense of purpose they instill!

It comes from the generals, too. Gen. Petraeus tells us that we are “reversing the momentum” of the resistance. Then, on May 21, he says that this summer will bring even higher levels of violence and “increased high-profile attacks.” U.S. casualties are at record numbers—with a 60 percent increase in the loss of a limb and a 90 percent increase in wounds to genitals—and the past three months have yielded far more fatalities than any previous year. It does not sound too much like “reversing” anything. It sounds like things are about to get much worse for us and our buddies. No worries for Petraeus, though, he will be safe in his office.

And, of course, we’re told that we must fight and die because allowing the Taliban to regain any type of political power would be catastrophic for the Afghan people and for us here at home.

But if any of us read the news, we can see that, actually, the U.S. government is desperately trying to negotiate with the Taliban leadership, offering them positions in the Afghan government—because Washington knows they cannot win the war militarily, even though they tell us we are. And the Taliban will not take a power-sharing deal right now, well, because they are winning and their morale is high, so why would they quit? For those troops who try to believe that the war will “save” Afghanistan from the Taliban, Washington’s end game puts the Taliban back in government. The war for “democracy” and “national defense” is revealed to be just a political game.

Besides, the generals and politicians give the false impression it is only the Taliban who are against the foreign occupation. Again, they tell us our purpose is to defeat this one group. Then the Pentagon releases official reports estimating that there are around 1,800 different armed resistance groups fighting the occupation.

Even Army General Ben Hodges admits that 80 percent of Taliban fighters are not with the group for ideological reasons. Most, like the vast majority of Afghans, just want us out. How could anyone think “democracy” has anything to do with our purpose there?

The truth about the war

For those of us looking for purpose in why we are fighting, something completely lacking, here is the truth that we find:

The war obviously is not about al-Qaeda or “fighting terrorism.” It is just another war for “American interests”—or, American business interests—in the most resource-rich region of the world.

Our esteemed leaders admit that the war cannot be won, yet they keep sending us to die. Washington’s goal is to put the Taliban on the defensive so that they will accept a deal and enter into a unity government, returning to political power—and they are using our bodies as the bargaining chips.

The people of Afghanistan are not fighting because they are “terrorists.” They are fighting because a foreign military has been bombing their villages and raiding their homes for 10 years. The Afghan people were not a party to the Sept. 11 attacks, and many know nothing about it to this day.

The people of Afghanistan, no matter which faction of the resistance they fight with, are not our enemies; they are people struggling to survive and provide for their families, just like us.

The people who are not like us are the smirking generals and politicians who think they can treat us like pawns and give us vague and ambiguous explanations for the supposed “purpose” of our suffering.

They are lying to us. Morale is not low just because 80 percent of us have witnessed a friend killed or wounded, but because there is no purpose for that bloodshed.

There is only one thing that can improve morale: realizing that we do not have to follow the orders of those millionaire politicians and armchair generals who are throwing our lives away.

If you, or someone you know has orders but does not want to deploy to Afghanistan, click here to find out about your rights.

Posted in USAComments Off on Troop morale plummets in a war without purpose

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