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Monthly Archives: August, 2003

A Failed Israeli Society Collapses While Its Leaders Remain Silent

The Zionist revolution has always rested on two pillars: a just path and an ethical leadership. Neither of these is operative any longer. The Israeli nation today rests on a scaffolding of corruption, and on foundations of oppression and injustice. As such, the end of the Zionist enterprise is already on our doorstep. There is a real chance that ours will be the last Zionist generation. There may yet be a Jewish state here, but it will be a different sort, strange and ugly.

There is time to change course, but not much. What is needed is a new vision of a just society and the political will to implement it. Nor is this merely an internal Israeli affair. Diaspora Jews for whom Israel is a central pillar of their identity must pay heed and speak out. If the pillar collapses, the upper floors will come crashing down.

The opposition does not exist, and the coalition, with Arik Sharon at its head, claims the right to remain silent. In a nation of chatterboxes, everyone has suddenly fallen dumb, because there’s nothing left to say. We live in a thunderously failed reality. Yes, we have revived the Hebrew language, created a marvelous theater and a strong national currency. Our Jewish minds are as sharp as ever. We are traded on the Nasdaq. But is this why we created a state? The Jewish people did not survive for two millennia in order to pioneer new weaponry, computer security programs or anti-missile missiles. We were supposed to be a light unto the nations. In this we have failed.

It turns out that the 2,000-year struggle for Jewish survival comes down to a state of settlements, run by an amoral clique of corrupt lawbreakers who are deaf both to their citizens and to their enemies. A state lacking justice cannot survive. More and more Israelis are coming to understand this as they ask their children where they expect to live in 25 years. Children who are honest admit, to their parents’ shock, that they do not know. The countdown to the end of Israeli society has begun.


You’re Free Now Aincha?

(pic from the Great Micah Wright of course…)

If you would like to know what a female Iraqi programmer thinks of our “liberation”, then you might want to check out this blog called Bagdad Burning. Check out her decimation of the Iraqi governing council, which they couldn’t vote for or choose themselves (some democracy) and her realization that she couldn’t work anymore. We also get to peek at one of those 8000 dead Iraqis that the pro-warblogracy never seems to take into account. Heartbreaking stuff. (I know she and Juan Cole have been linked to earlier, but this is worth an encore…)

Here’s an Excerpt:

I stood staring at the mess for a few moments longer, trying to sort out the mess in my head, my heart being torn to pieces. My cousin and E. were downstairs waiting for me- there was nothing more to do, except ask how I could maybe help? A. and I left the room and started making our way downstairs. We paused on the second floor and stopped to talk to one of the former department directors. I asked him when they thought things would be functioning, he wouldn’t look at me. His eyes stayed glued to A.’s face as he told him that females weren’t welcome right now- especially females who ‘couldn’t be protected’. He finally turned to me and told me, in so many words, to go home because ‘they’ refused to be responsible for what might happen to me.

Ok. Fine. Your loss. I turned my back, walked down the stairs and went to find E. and my cousin. Suddenly, the faces didn’t look strange- they were the same faces of before, mostly, but there was a hostility I couldn’t believe. What was I doing here? E. and the cousin were looking grim, I must have been looking broken, because they rushed me out of the first place I had ever worked and to the car. I cried bitterly all the way home- cried for my job, cried for my future and cried for the torn streets, damaged buildings and crumbling people.

I’m one of the lucky ones… I’m not important. I’m not vital. Over a month ago, a prominent electrical engineer (one of the smartest females in the country) named Henna Aziz was assassinated in front of her family- two daughters and her husband. She was threatened by some fundamentalists from Badir’s Army and told to stay at home because she was a woman, she shouldn’t be in charge. She refused- the country needed her expertise to get things functioning- she was brilliant. She would not and could not stay at home. They came to her house one evening: men with machine-guns, broke in and opened fire. She lost her life- she wasn’t the first, she won’t be the last.

Before, the war, over at Warblogger Watch, I argued that women in Iraq had it better than in any other Mid Eastern state. Now, after the war, I’m arguing that we have to build a real democracy to ensure that women like this get their lives back. Bush is unable to do this, but Dean just might. The UN could certainly do a better job if they get rid of the cronyism and the no bid contracts. Also, check out the corruption in the Iraqi bidding process for repairs. Apparently, Tony Soprano is running the Iraqi Esplanade reconstruction projects…

Meanwhile, Perle, of all people, says that mistakes were made. Juan Cole, arguably one of the best analysts of Iraq out there, tells him where he’s wrong. (scroll down) One of his primo military sources got shot and killed by the way. He lists the entire email exchange on his site.

Money, Honey

43% of U.S. foreign debt is controlled by China and Japan. That’s pretty alarming, especially upon reading this interview with Bernard Lietaer, who “co-designed and implemented the convergence mechanism to the single European currency system (the Euro), and served as president of the Electronic Payment System in his native Belgium. He also co-founded one of the largest and most successful currency funds.” In this interview, he is impressively candid, cogent, and, curiously, hopeful, particularly about “private monetary systems.” There is a small system in place in Berkeley, for example, and the founder of Visa is working with others to set up a larger-scale alternate currency, as well.


It’s a chicken and egg story: unstable currency equals unstable government. There is practically no way today for a developing country to have a reasonable monetary policy within the current rules of the game. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and formerly head economist at the World Bank, makes the same claims in his book Globalization and Its Discontents (Penguin, 2002). Whether you fix your currency to the dollar or let it float, you end up with an unmanageable monetary problem, like Brazil, Russia or Argentina have experienced. Eighty-seven countries have gone through a major currency crisis in the last 25 years. Their fiscal policies are imposed by an International Monetary Fund (IMF). I am afraid that if the United States had to live by the rules that are imposed on, say, Brazil, the United States of America would become a developing country in one generation. It’s the system that is currently unstable, unfair and not working.

The majority of humanity has gone through a recent monetary crisis at least once already. We’e living here, in America, in an island of perceived stability. And even that is an illusion. We could have a run on the dollar under the current rules.

We are dealing with an unstable system, an ailing system. Back in 1975, I had come to the conclusion that there would be a systemic series of monetary crashes, starting with Latin America. And that’s why I wrote my book on how the money system was not working and its impact on Latin American development, Europe, Latin America and the Multinationals (Praeger, 1979). I predicted that the first crash in Latin America would be in the early 1980s. It actually happened in 1981 in Mexico. Since then we have had more than 80 other countries undergoing similar monetary crises.

Now the point is: there are many new agreements being made within communities as to the kind of medium of exchange they are willing to accept. As I said, in Britain, you can use frequent flier miles as currency. It’s not a universal currency, it’s not legal tender, but you can go to the supermarket and buy stuff. And in the United States, it’s just a question of time before privately issued currencies will be used to make purchases. Even Alan Greenspan, the governor of the Federal Reserve and the official guardian of the conventional money system, says, “we will see a return of private currencies in the 21st century.”

Who’s Losing Iraq?

Maureen Dowd goes after Super Villain Dick Cheney: It has also now become radiantly clear that we have to drag Dick Cheney out of the dark and smog. Less Hobbes, more Locke.

So far, American foreign policy has been guided by the vice president’s gloomy theories that fear and force are the best motivators in the world, that war is man’s natural state and that the last great superpower has sovereign authority to do as it pleases without much consultation with subjects or other nations.

We can now see the disturbing results of all the decisions Mr. Cheney made in secret meetings.

The General Accounting Office issued a report last week noting that the vice president shaped our energy policy with clandestine advice from “petroleum, coal, nuclear, natural gas, electricity industry representatives and lobbyists.”

Favoritism to energy pals led to last week’s insane decision to gut part of the Clean Air Act and allow power plants, refineries and other industrial sites to belch pollutants.

Another Bush-Cheney energy crony is Anthony Alexander of Ohio’s FirstEnergy Corporation, which helped trigger the blackout after failing to upgrade its transmission system properly since deregulation. He was a Bush Pioneer, having raised at least $100,000 for the campaign.

This logrolling attitude has led to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers allowing Halliburton — which made Mr. Cheney a rich man with $20 million worth of cashed-in stock — to get no-bid contracts in Iraq totaling $1.7 billion, and that’s just a start.

All this, and high gas prices, too?

When he wasn’t meeting secretly with energy lobbyists, Mr. Cheney was meeting secretly with Iraqi exiles. The Iraqi National Congress leader Ahmad Chalabi and other defectors conned Mr. Cheney, Rummy and the naïve Wolfowitz of Arabia by playing up the danger of Saddam’s W.M.D.’s and playing down the prospect of Iraqi resistance to a U.S. invasion.

Who’s Losing Iraq?

Canadian Government Officials Have Ashcroft Envy…

The headline says it all…

Case of 19 terrorists unravelling

[It is] Canada’s most sensational — and most controversial — terrorism case in recent years.

After they were jailed on the grounds that they could pose a risk to Canada’s national security, the case made headlines around the world as the news media quoted a government official’s now infamous words: ‘I guess the easiest way of putting it is there is a suggestion they might, in fact, perhaps be a sleeper cell for Al-Qaeda.’

Other Immigration officials raised allegations that some of the men may have been in search of diagrams and schematics of the CN Tower and other prominent Toronto landmarks.

However, the case of the terrorists among us began to unravel almost as soon as the detention reviews began, with the RCMP and Citizenship and Immigration Canada distancing themselves from the idea that the men posed a clear threat to security.

The RCMP, which is just beginning to sift through 25 boxes of files and 30 computers seized in the raid that netted the 19 men, said this week there is no evidence that Canada’s national security is at risk. Immigration officials underlined that they are investigating only the possibility of such threats.

‘I can comfortably say there is no known threat; what is being investigated is a reasonable suspicion,’ said Giovanna Gatti, spokesperson with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. ‘It’s taken the spin that it has taken in the media for whatever reason.'”

Yeah, that damned irresponsible media, doing its usual spin thing… I wonder why they got so excited about nineteen immigration violations? I guess the easiest way explaining it, or of putting it, was the suggestion they might, in fact, perhaps ‘be a sleeper cell for Al-Qaeda.’


10.) Some Go Up But Me I Like It Down Here on the Couch Where It’s Warm

9.) We Ran to the Park and There Got VD

8.) Once We Were Kings (Albeit with Really Big Hair)

7.) We Fought the Wind Until It Died Down and So Did We

6.) Genius? You Bet I Am!

5.) One Day I Went Running and Then I Got Hit By a Car

4.) Hold Still While I Empty Your Wallet

3.) Me and Ms. Kay Act Like Three Small Bitches

2.) I Crapped In the Parlor and Ten Publishers Came A-Runnin’

1.) I Lost My Stick and Then I Was Sad

Paying for war crimes – $16 billion to restore Iraq’s water

A big story this week is that it is going to cost us (and I do mean us – you and me, assuming you’re a U.S. taxpayer) $16 billion to fix the problems with the Iraqi water system. Most news stories just leave it at that, but at least one TV report I heard added that this was the results of 13 years of neglect.

But what was it that happened 13 years ago, and what was it that was happening during the last 13 years? You won’t find out listening to or reading the U.S. mainstream media, not a word. What happened 13 years ago, in fact, was that a major war crime was committed, on a scale of staggering proportions – the U.S. deliberately and systematically destroyed the Iraqi water system. Article 54 of the Geneva convention states:

“It is prohibited to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless objects indispensable to the survival of the civilian population, such as foodstuffs, crops, livestock, drinking water installations and supplies, and irrigation works, for the specific purpose of denying them for their sustenance value to the civilian population or to the adverse Party, whatever the motive, whether in order to starve out civilians, to cause them to move away, or for any other motive.”

And what was it that was happening during the last 13 years of “neglect” of the Iraqi water system? Of course, it was the UN sanctions, kept in place that entire time by the refusal of the US and UK to consider their repeal, and with the US and UK repeatedly vetoing attempts by Iraq to import “dual-use” chemicals which were needed to repair the water filtration system. And the consequences? An estimated half million Iraqi children died because of the lack of clean drinking water.

Was this an accident? A surprise to the U.S.? Any civilized person might like to think so, but, sadly, the answer is absolutely no. In 2000, Professor Thomas Nagy of George Washington University managed to obtain military documents written before the Gulf War. These documents make absolutely clear that the U.S. had studied in detail all aspects of Iraq’s water system, had planned a strategy for preventing Iraq from reconstructing that system (via the sanctions), and knew in advance that “this could lead to increased incidences, if not epidemics of disease.”

What happened in Iraq during the Gulf War was a deliberate war crime, one of the greatest in history, without any question. A half million children died as a result of that war crime, and now the people of the U.S. will end up paying $16 billion to pay for that crime. The war criminals, meanwhile, continue to be “respected” citizens.

From Left I on the News

Forest Fires’ Timing Sets Tongues Wagging

An emerging whodunit in Central Oregon hovers amid the smoke draping the east side of the Cascade Range.

Can it be pure coincidence, locals are asking, that two wildfires sprang up in view of the spot where President Bush planned to promote his plan to thin forests for wildfire prevention?

And that they both appeared just as his plans emerged?

“I think everyone in the community here is wondering that,” said Judy Wattier, who works at the KOA Campground just east of Sisters, where business is in the doldrums because of the blazes that have covered almost 40,000 acres in the nearby Deschutes National Forest. “Everyone I’ve mentioned it to can talk about it for hours.” [more]

“Bush posing with the environment is like Ted Bundy posing with pretty women.”
–Geov Parrish

Bill Moyers:

The facts on the ground. I’m a journalist, reporting the evidence, not an environmentalist pressing an agenda. The Earth is sending us a message and you don’t have to be an environmentalist to read it. The Arctic ice is melting. The Arctic winds are balmy. The Arctic Ocean is rising. Scientists say that in the year 2002 — the second-hottest on record — they saw the Arctic ice coverage shrink more than at any time since they started measuring it. Every credible scientific study in the world says human activity is creating global warming. In the face of this evidence, the government in Washington has declared war on nature. They have placed religious and political dogma over the facts. [more]

Victory Act no triumph for freedom lovers

From the Charlotte Observer

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, reportedly plans to introduce legislation in September to further expand federal police powers.

The Hatch bill, entitled the Victory Act (Vital Interdiction of Criminal Terrorist Organizations Act), is seen by some to be a substitute for the so-called Patriot Act II — the Domestic Security Enhancement Act of 2003 — which was leaked and caused a furor in Congress as well as among liberal and conservative civil liberties groups. A draft copy of the Victory Act has been posted on the Web (www.libertythink.com).

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