Saturday, October 13, 2007

More Neo-Cons for Giuliani

Republican presidential candidate and current front-runner, Rudi Giuliani, has named seven more people, including four prominent neo-conservatives, to his already-neocon-dominated foreign policy team. The neo-conservatives include Ruth Wedgwood of the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies; “terrorism analyst” and free-lance writer often published in the Weekly Standard and the National Review Online, Thomas Joscelyn; and two “scholars” at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) and protégés of Richard Perle – Michael Rubin and David Frum (with whom Perle wrote the ultra-hawkish “An End to Evil” in 2004). Combined with such incumbent team members as Norman Podhoretz, Martin Kramer, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Kasten, the team increasingly resembles the cheer-leading squad for the U.S. section of the international Bibi Netanyahu fan club.

What is really remarkable about the new choices is their announcement during the same week that the latest edition of Newsweek featured a three-page rundown of Giuliani’s foreign-policy team, entitled “Would you Buy a Used Hawk From this Man?” “Neocons can’t help but slink around Washington, D.C.,” it began. (In an amazing screw-up, the magazine mismatched the captions with the photos of four of the members.) “The Iraq War has given the neoconservatives …something of a bad name, and several of the Republican candidates seem less than eager to hire them as advisers. But Rudi Giuliani apparently never got the memo.”

In any event, Wedgwood, who worked with Perle on Rumsfeld’s Defense Policy Board and more recently published an impassioned defense of Paul Wolfowitz’s promotion of his girlfriend at the World Bank, is listed as an international law and organizations adviser, while Joscelyn, who is associated with ultra-Straussian Claremont Institute and holds a B.A. in economics from the University of Chicago, will act as Giuliani’s “senior terrorism advisor,” (presumably in place of the mayor’s old sidekick, the scandal-ridden former police commissioner, Bernard Kerik). Despite a total lack of foreign-policy-making experience, Frum, who also writes regularly for the National Review Online, will be a “senior foreign policy adviser,” while Rubin, who worked on the Iran and Iraq desks at the Pentagon under Douglas Feith before being sent to Baghdad after the invasion, will act as both the “senior Iran and Turkey Advisor,” as well as a member of the “Middle East Advisory Board.” (Like Rubin, a fifth new member of Giuliani’s team, John Agresto, also worked for Bremer’s Coalition Provisional Authority (CPA) where he was assigned to rebuild the Iraqi higher education system, a job at which he reportedly failed utterly, as indicated by the name of his recent book, ‘Mugged by Reality.’ It’s comforting to note that he has been made a member of Giuliani’s “Iraqi (sic) Advisory Board.”)

It’s probably good that Rubin will not serve on the “Iraqi” board if only because he was an outspoken critic of the counter-insurgency tactics of neo-con hero Gen. David Petraeus during the latter’s service in Iraq immediately after the invasion. Along with AEI fellows Reuel Marc Gerecht, Perle, and Danielle Pletka, Rubin has long been among the most vehement U.S. advocates of “de-Baathification” in Iraq (which another AEI fellow, Joshua Muravchik, now insists neo-cons had absolutely nothing to do with). In several articles entitled, respectively, “Failed Model,”“Betrayal”, and “The Price of Compromise” published in 2004 and 2005, Rubin singled out Petraeus’ efforts to “appease” Baathists in his efforts to pacify Mosul and al-Anbar. Indeed, as recently as a year ago, when neo-cons began their clamor for the “Surge”, Rubin was still complaining – in the Financial Times no less – about Petraeus’ efforts to rehabilitate former Baathists. With Giuliani squarely lined up behind the general, Rubin’s deployment to the Iraq board would naturally raise uncomfortable questions about what the mayor really thinks of the Surge and Petraeus’ efforts to co-opt the Sunni population.

The addition of Frum and Rubin to Giuliani’s team suggests that the foreign-policy staff at AEI, particularly those closest to Perle, has decided that Fred Thompson, who has long-standing links to the think tank, isn’t going anywhere and now see Giuliani as their return ticket to power, especially now that Newt has ruled out a run. It will be interesting to see if other AEI colleagues enlist in the mayor’s campaign.

"Married to Another Man"

Book Review by Sonja Karkar - Oct 13, 2007

Dr. Ghada Karmi's latest book Married to Another Man: Israel's Dilemma in Palestine opens with the problem European Zionists faced over a century ago when they first mooted the idea of a Jewish state in Palestine. They found then that there was already a well-established Palestinian society existing in the land they wished to claim as their own. Hence the message sent back to Vienna by the two rabbis who made the discovery: "The bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man."

It is the essence of "Israel's dilemma": how to effect the disappearance of the ever-present Palestinians so that a purely Jewish state can exist on Palestinian land? The Zionist program of ethnic cleansing that has been going on since Israel's creation has not solved the problem. Neither has the living hell of occupation.

Essentially, Karmi says that Israel should never have been created in Palestine, but she does not suggest that present-day Israelis must be removed. Instead, she argues that a single state for two peoples offers much more hope for peace than a state based on Jewish exclusivity next to a truncated and utterly unviable proposed Palestinian state under Israel's vice-like control.

Karmi's book is controversial, particularly since the West is still talking about a two-state solution that totally ignores the realities on the ground. Pointing out that all peace efforts have so far come to nothing, and the two-state solution is now impossible, Karmi argues that the one-state alternative may be the only chance of resolving the conflict. Other solutions raised recently, such as federation with Egypt and Jordan, will further divide the Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza and will only lead to more conflict.

Karmi skillfully guides the reader through the political contortions and cruelties that have time and again failed to bring peace to both peoples. She is one of very few writers who have managed to untangle the mess of hypocritical and devious maneuverings enough for the reader to grasp the unfairness and tragedy of the Palestinian predicament. Instead of Oslo being the catalyst for change, the book shows how those hopeful but flawed beginnings quickly deteriorated as Israel continued to balk at reaching a fair settlement. One has only to look at Israel's land expropriations and the illegal expansion of Jewish settlements deep inside Palestinian territory that went on throughout all the peace talks and continues even now.

The extraordinary nature of "Zionist machinating and Jewish sentiment" to preserve the state of Israel is formidable, but all the same, Israel could not have survived without Western support. This raises the question, why does Israel receive such absolute support, particularly from the United States? The book provides some of the answers, showing just how the Israel lobby has managed to influence both houses of the US Congress and how Christian Zionism has also been a powerful factor in US decision-making. It is doubtful though that the ideological hope of preserving Israel for the return of the Messiah is more influential than the imperialist agenda. Regardless, says Karmi, maintaining Israel's existence without justice for the Palestinians will only lead to further instability and increasing violence between the two sides, which in turn has serious implications for world peace.

This brings us back to Israel's dilemma -- what to do with some 5 million Palestinians? If it is not to be a democratic state for all Muslim, Christian and Jewish citizens, then Israel's solution can only be expulsion and genocide. Alternatively, says Karmi, all efforts should go into reversing the damage that Zionism has wrought, not just since 1967 as the two-state solution implies, but back to 1948 when Israel was created. The reader will find it difficult to ignore the appeal of her argument in light of the harsh reality to which the last six decades have led us -- from the first realization that "the bride is beautiful, but she is married to another man" to the reckless decision to take the "bride" regardless, and the devastating consequences that have followed.

Ultimately, Zionism needs to change because it was always unworkable. The solution Karmi proposes shows remarkable magnanimity considering the terrible human cost of Israel's venture. Her vision is to bring Palestinians and the now-established Israeli Jewish community together in one state so that justice can be served for both sides. The challenge, she says, is to change the current paradigm of thinking that has now become so entrenched in political discourse, yet for which there is no future at all. Karmi's book allows the reader to look beyond the grim predictions and to see a solution that may be the only way for peace and justice to ever prevail in this troubled land.

Sonja Karkar is the founder and president of Women for Palestine in Melbourne, Australia.

Coulter's anti-Semitic comment too dangerous to ignore

The American Jewish community is in an uproar against anti Semitic statements recently made on a talk show by Ann Coulter. Even the ADL issued a statement, a group that has recently dedicated its efforts to fabricating enemies actually found a real one this time. Coulter has always been considered to be in the lunatic camp of the neocons, but her recent remarks have shown who she really is and what she really is.

This is an interesting piece. When Ann Coulter said Christians should invade all Muslim lands and convert all Muslims to Christianity, the Zionist MSM thought it was funny. They would bring her on FOX News and MSNBC among others and try to, if necessary, bait her into saying something provocative about Muslims and Arabs, and more often than not, Coulter would comply. Now, she voices the truth about what every Christian really thinks about Jews, and they call her anti-semitic and mark her up as Hitler. I'm waiting to see if Ann get any support from her fellow Christians - Naw, probably not.

Ann Coulter is buzzing from one talk show to another these days, peddling her new book. Our era values mindless contention as a kind of entertainment, and we don't just reward relentless self-promotion -- we admire it. Thus, Coulter's phenomenal success at marketing distasteful, mean-spirited books -- poorly written and spottily researched -- that otherwise would go all but unremarked upon by everyone except the rhetorical ghouls who haunt the political fringes.

Now, no Coulter promotional campaign would be complete without a calculated outrage -- a call for the forcible conversion of all Muslims, for example, or a demand for revocation of women's suffrage, an insult hurled at gays or the grieving widows of Sept. 11 victims. As more than one political consultant has remarked, the American far right is a carnivorous constituency, and it needs to be regularly thrown red meat. Coulter's singular genius has been to ignite tightly focused and timely controversies, thereby getting her ideological opponents to toss the scraps to her fans.

So if you know what's coming, why play ball and deliver the denunciation that validates the Coulter strategy?

In part, it's because this time Coulter didn't intend to ignite the firestorm that's currently raging around her; in part, it's because the implications of these latest remarks simply are too threatening to be allowed to stand.

Earlier this week, Coulter went on "The Big Idea," a talk show aired on CNBC, the cable channel devoted to business news. Its host, Donny Deutsch, is a preternaturally affable businessman who invites successful people on to talk about how they turn their ideas into money. Coulter was there to describe how she had -- in our vulgar commercial argot --"branded" herself. At one point, Deutsch asked her what an ideal country would be like, and she replied that it would be one in which everyone was "a Christian." Deutsch, who happens to be Jewish, protested that Coulter was advocating his people's elimination. She responded that she simply hoped to see Jews "perfected" through conversion to Christianity.

Deutsch, to his everlasting credit, wasn't having any of it, and the full transcript of their extended and -- on Coulter's side -- vilely offensive exchange on the matter is widely available online. Reaction over the last couple of days has been swift.

The National Jewish Democratic Council weighed in with a petition asking other broadcast news organizations not to give Coulter a forum. "While Ann Coulter has freedom of speech, news outlets should exercise their freedom to use better judgment," said council Executive Director Ira N. Forman. "Just as media outlets don't invite those who believe that Martians walk the Earth to frequently comment on science stories, it's time they stop inviting Ann Coulter to comment on politics." (Sadly, too many Americans now believe the only way to confront offensive or dangerous speech is to silence it.)

Rabbi Marvin Heir, founder and dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, said that Coulter's "remarks that Jews needed to be perfected and America would be better off if everyone was Christian are deeply offensive and have been the classic language of anti-Semites throughout the millennia. She may have been a guest on CNBC's 'Big Idea,' but what she invoked is the oldest 'Bigoted Idea,' and she should apologize." (Good luck on that one, rabbi.)

Perhaps the best response came from the Anti-Defamation League, which called Coulter's comments "outrageous, offensive and a throwback to the centuries-old teaching of contempt for Jews and Judaism. The notion that Jews are religiously inferior or imperfect because they do not accept Christian beliefs was the basis for 2,000 years of church-based anti-Semitism. While she is entitled to her beliefs, using mainstream media to espouse the idea that Judaism needs to be replaced with Christianity and that each individual Jew is somehow deficient and needs to be "perfected" is rank Christian supersessionism and has been rejected by the Catholic Church and the vast majority of mainstream Christian denominations. Clearly, Ann Coulter needs a wake-up call about the power of words to injure others and fuel hatred. She needs an education, too, about the roots of anti-Semitism."

That she does. As the league points out, "supersessionism," the theological notion that Christianity "completes" or "perfects" Judaism is, along with the deicide libel, anti-Semitism's major theological underpinning. Indeed, in Central and Western Europe between the world wars, there was a substantial body of purportedly "respectable" intellectual opinion that held "supersessionism" made possible a "reasonable" theological anti-Semitism that was entirely licit, as opposed to the Nazis' and fascists' illicit, "racially based" anti-Semitism. It is fair to say that the rails leading to Auschwitz were greased by precisely the opinion Coulter expressed on American television this week.

It's a scandal that in this pluralist nation it falls to the voices of organized Jewry to make this case, because it is a case whose outcome is of the greatest consequence to us all. For too long we've pretended that the brutal political rhetoric that now characterizes our partisan politics can be quarantined, that it won't inevitably leach over into every other aspect of our lives. In fact, it's doing just that, and soon the coarse and vituperative language of the war between red and blue -- with it's instantaneous imputations of bad-faith and utter disrespect for minimal civility -- will begin to color aspects of our civil society where mutual respect is too crucial and hard won to tolerate this sort of risk.

Here, for example, is what transpired on the airwaves Friday. Deutsch went onto NBC's "Today" show and called it "scary" that, in this instance, Coulter was not being deliberately provocative. "We're playing with dangerous words in our society -- there's no accountability, there's a glibness that we in the media kind of elevate."

Meanwhile, Coulter was on the Kevin McCullough radio talk show, making the utterly absurd case that Deutsch somehow had ambushed her. On his blog later in the day, McCullough agreed. Deutsch, he said, "is an angry anti-Christian bigot, looking to make a name for himself by biting into Christian icons."

How many Americans really want to follow Ann Coulter into this sort of confrontation? Not many, one suspects. But are enough of them willing to give up, once and for all, the sort of dangerous fun she and her rhetorical fellow travelers provide?

Robert Fisk: Do you know the truth about Lockerbie

London Independent - Oct 13, 2007

After writing about the "ravers" who regularly turn up at lectures to claim that President Bush/the CIA/the Pentagon/Mossad etc perpetrated the crimes against humanity of 11 September, I received a letter this week from Marion Irvine, who feared that members of her family run the risk of being just such "ravers" and "voices heard in the wilderness". Far from it.

For Mrs Irvine was writing about Lockerbie, and, like her, I believe there are many dark and sinister corners to this atrocity. I'm not at all certain that the CIA did not have a scam drugs heist on board and I am not at all sure that the diminutive Libyan agent Megrahi – ultimately convicted on the evidence of the memory of a Maltese tailor – really arranged to plant the bomb on board Pan Am Flight 103 in December 1988.

But I take Mrs Irvine's letter doubly seriously because her brother, Bill Cadman, was on board 103 and died in the night over Lockerbie 19 years ago. He was a sound engineer in London and Paris, travelling with his girlfriend Sophie – who, of course, was also killed – to spend Christmas with Sophie's aunt in the United States. Nothing, therefore, could be more eloquent than Mrs Irvine's own letter, which I must quote to you. She strongly doubts, she says, Libya's involvement in the bombing.

"We have felt since the first days in December 1988," she writes, "that something was being hidden from us ... the discrediting of the Helsinki (US embassy) warning, the presence of the CIA on Scottish soil before the work of identifying bodies was properly undertaken, the Teflon behaviour of ministers and government all contributed to a deep feeling of unease.

"This reached a peak when my father was told by a member of the American Presidential Commission on Aviation Security and Terrorism that our government knew what had happened but that the truth would not come out. In the truth vacuum, the worst-case scenario – that lives were sacrificed in expiation for the Iranian lives lost in June 1988 – takes on a certain degree of credibility. The plane was brought down in the last dangerous moments of the Reagan presidency."

Now I should explain here that the Iranian lives to which Mrs Irvine refers were the Iranian passengers of an Airbus civilian airliner shot down over the Gulf by a US warship a few months before Lockerbie and before the end of the eight-year Iran-Iraq war.

The USS Vincennes – nicknamed Robocruiser by the crews of other American vessels – blasted its missiles at the Airbus on the assumption that it was a diving Iranian air force jet. It wasn't – and the Airbus was climbing – but Reagan, after a few cursory apologies, blamed Iran for the slaughter, because it had refused to accept a UN ceasefire in the war with Iraq in which we were backing our old friend Saddam Hussein (yes, the same!).

The US navy also awarded medals – god spare us – to the captain of the Vincennes and to his gunnery crew. Some weeks later the boss of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine General Command – a pro-Iranian Palestinian outfit in Lebanon – suddenly called a press conference in Beirut to deny to astonished reporters that he was involved in Lockerbie.

Why? Was he being fingered? Was Iran? Only later did those familiar "official sources" who had initially pointed the finger at Iran start blaming Libya. By then we needed the support of Iran's ally Syria and Iranian quiescence in our attempt to liberate Kuwait after Saddam's 1990 invasion. Personally, I always thought that Lockerbie was revenge for the Airbus destruction – the PLP's strange press conference lends credence to this – which makes sense of Mrs Irvine's courageous letter.

Her parents, Martin and Rita Cadman, have, she says, had countless meetings with MPs, including Tam Dalyell and Henry Bellingham, Cecil Parkinson, Robin Cook and Tony Blair, and with Nelson Mandela (whose appeal for Megrahi to be transferred to a Libyan prison was supported by the Cadmans).

In a poignant sentence, Mrs Irvine adds that her parents "are ageing and in their anxiety that they will die with no one having taken real responsibility for their son's death are in danger of losing focus and feeling that they themselves are 'raving'. The (1980-88) war in Iraq meant that no lessons were being learned, and because my brother chanced to be on that plane we all now feel a heightened sense of responsibility for the world situation".

Then Mrs Irvine comes to the point. "What can we do? Now that my father is older and it is up to us, the next generation, to try to needle the government, but is there any hope? I am writing to ask if you think there is any reasonable action that we can take that has a slight prospect of success ... a refusal to understand and admit to the past is dangerous for the future."

I couldn't put it better myself – and I do have a very direct idea. If official untruths were told about Lockerbie – if skulduggery was covered up by the British and US governments and lies were told by those responsible for our security – then many in authority know about this.

I urge all those who may know of any such lies to write to me (snail mail or hand-delivered) at The Independent. They can address their letters to Mrs Irvine in an envelope with my name on it. In other words, this is an appeal for honest whistle-blowers to tell the truth.

I can hear already the rustle of the lads in blue. Are we encouraging civil servants to break the Official Secrets Act? Certainly not. If lies were told, then officials should let us know, since the Official Secrets Act – in this case – would have been shamefully misused to keep them silent. If the truth has indeed been told, then no one is going to break the Official Secrets Act.

So I await news. Ravers need not apply. But those who know truths which cannot be told can have the honour of revealing them all. It's the least Martin and Rita Cadman and Mrs Irvine – and Bill and Sophie – deserve. As for a constabulary which just might be tempted to threaten me – or Mrs Irvine – in a quest for truth, to hell with them.

US demands air passengers ask its permission to fly

by Wendy M. Grossman - Oct 13, 2007

Under new rules proposed by the Transport Security Administration (TSA) (pdf), all airline passengers would need advance permission before flying into, through, or over the United States regardless of citizenship or the airline's national origin.

Currently, the Advanced Passenger Information System, operated by the Customs and Border Patrol, requires airlines to forward a list of passenger information no later than 15 minutes before flights from the US take off (international flights bound for the US have until 15 minutes after take-off). Planes are diverted if a passenger on board is on the no-fly list.

The new rules mean this information must be submitted 72 hours before departure. Only those given clearance will get a boarding pass. The TSA estimates that 90 to 93 per cent of all travel reservations are final by then.

The proposed rules require the following information for each passenger: full name, sex, date of birth, and redress number (assigned to passengers who use the Travel Redress Inquiry Program because they have been mistakenly placed on the no-fly list), and known traveller number (once there is a programme in place for registering known travellers whose backgrounds have been checked). Non-travellers entering secure areas, such as parents escorting children, will also need clearance.

The TSA held a public hearing in Washington DC on 20 September, which heard comments from both privacy advocates and airline industry representatives from Qantas, the Regional Airline Association, IATA, and the American Society of Travel Agents. The privacy advocates came from the American Civil Liberties Union and the Identity Project. All were negative.

The proposals should be withdrawn entirely, argued Edward Hasbrouck, author of The Practical Nomad and the leading expert on travel data privacy. "Obscured by the euphemistic language of 'screening' is the fact that travellers would be required to get permission before they can travel."

Hasbrouck submitted that requiring clearance in order to travel violates the US First Amendment right of assembly, the central claim in John Gilmore's case against the US government over the requirement to show photo ID for domestic travel.

In addition, the TSA is required to study the impact of the proposals on small economic entities (such as sole traders). Finally, the TSA provides no way for individuals to tell whether their government-issued ID is actually required by law, opening the way for rampant identity theft.

ACLU's Barry Steinhardt quoted press reports of 500,000 to 750,000 people on the watch list (of which the no-fly list is a subset). "If there are that many terrorists in the US, we'd all be dead."

TSA representative Kip Hawley noted that the list has been carefully investigated and halved over the last year. "Half of grossly bloated is still bloated," Steinhardt replied.

The airline industry representatives' objections were largely logistical. They argued that the 60-day timeframe the TSA proposes to allow for implementation from the publication date of the final rules is much too short. They want a year to revamp many IT systems, especially, as the Qantas representative said, as no one will start until they're sure there will be no further changes.

In addition, many were concerned about the impact on new, convenient and cash-saving technologies, such as checking in at home, or storing a boarding pass in a PDA.

One additional point, also raised by Hasbrouck: the data the TSA requires will be collected by the airlines who presumably will keep it for their own purposes – a "government-coerced informational windfall", he called it.

The third parties who actually do much of the airline industry's data processing, the Global Distribution Systems and Computer Reservations Systems, were missing from the hearing.

Iran's Haddadi to play in NBA

I'd check with the US Department of State about a visa before I made any serious plans if I were Haddadi. I mean, one never knows - shooting a basketball might be considered a terrorist act by 2008.

Iranian national basketball player, Hamed Haddadi says he has received several letters from NBA teams inviting him to play for them.

"Several NBA (National Basketball Association in USA) teams have sent me letters inviting me to play for them," said Haddadi in an interview on Saturday.

"The talent of Iranian players has come to be known after our team secured a berth as one of the 12 teams to play in the Olympic Games," he added.

Haddadi said he would probably start playing for the NBA after the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Apartheid Masked as Peace

Exposing the next “generous offer” in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process

by Neta Golan and Mohammed Khatib - Oct 13, 2007

Next month the US plans to host a regional meeting to discuss peace in the Middle East, or at least peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The maneuvering, deal making and negotiating about what will be on the table has been going on for some time. But the details of the agreement being discussed have been a well guarded secret but for the steady flow of leaks and trial balloons. Deciphering this information combined with facts on the ground, one can put together a clear outline of Israel’s "next generous offer."

Political maneuvers can be spun to sound good if the details are kept vague, but when held to scrutiny it becomes obvious that the upcoming Israeli offer is not so generous. Like the Oslo Accords and the "disengagement" from Gaza, the peace process being cooked now is a move to consolidate Israeli control of all of historical Palestine while taking a large portion of the Palestinian population off Israel’s hands. The devil is in the details that follow.

The agreement on the table offers Palestinians what Israel’s president Shimon Peres calls "the equivalent of 100% of the territory occupied in 1967." According to Peres, Israel will retain most of its major West Bank population centers, also known as settlement blocs, which Peres claims make up only 5% of the West Bank. In exchange, Israel will offer to give the Palestinians the same amount of territory elsewhere. According to Peres, Israel will exchange land in Israel populated by Palestinians who hold Israeli citizenship. This will allow Israel to remove some of its Arab population, which most Jewish Israelis perceive as "demographic threat" to the nature of the Jewish state.

When Israeli politicians like Peres talk about retaining 5% of the West Bank, they do not include occupied East Jerusalem. Israel illegally and unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem in 1967-68. Hence, Israeli sources claim there are 250,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank, completely discounting the estimated additional 250,000 settlers in occupied East Jerusalem.

For a map of the wall and settlements Jerusalem click here.

Israel’s settlement blocs are being created and built as you read these words. For years Israel has been creating population centers on strategic land that will carve the West Bank into disconnected islands, maintain Israeli access to the West Bank water resources and surround and strangle Arab Jerusalem. The de facto annexation of this strategic 9.5% of the West Bank’s land behind Israel’s apartheid wall has already taken place. The "peace" process will simply make it official.

In March 2006 the newly formed Kadima party was elected to implement Ariel Sharon’s "convergence plan." According to this plan, the non-strategic settlements outside of the settlement blocs would be dismantled. The evacuated settlers would be resettled in the "blocs" behind the wall that would in turn be annexed by Israel.

On April 14, 2004, President Bush wrote to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, "In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing population centers it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949…" This letter was subsequently ratified in both US Houses of Congress.

Israel took this as a green light from the US to keep whatever areas they can fill with settlers. Therefore, despite the Road Map requirement that Israel freeze settlement expansion, Israel accelerated the creation of so called "existing" population centers in strategically important areas, otherwise known as the settlement blocs.

For a map of the settlement blocs click here.

In the same letter to Sharon, Bush also stated, "It seems clear that an agreed, just, fair and realistic framework for a solution to the Palestinian refugee issue as part of any final status agreement will need to be found through the establishment of a Palestinian state, and the settling of Palestinian refugees there, rather than in Israel." Consequently, in the offer to be made by Israel, Palestinian refugees will be allowed the right to return, not to their homes, but to small, non-contiguous parts of their original homeland, divided into disconnected territorial units, They will be all with no chance of maintaining a sustainable economy and with no control over water, power, or other necessary resources.owed to return to a cage, with Israel manning every door.

Israeli plans, backed by these US guarantees, create an unlivable apartheid situation for Palestinians. But Palestinians are not even likely to receive such a "generous" apartheid offer in November.

Now, with less than sixteen months left in the Bush administration, Ehud Olmert lacks the political clout to carry out Israel’s end of the deal. Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak recently stated his opposition to what he called "withdrawal from Israeli principles that have stood for 40 years, merely to gain favor in the eyes of an American president who is leaving office in a year." Therefore, at the Olmert’s administration’s insistence, the goals of the regional meeting have been watered down to a joint statement that will outline the basis of the future agreement. Olmert is demanding that the joint declaration include a reference to Bush’s April 2004 letter to Sharon and to the Road Map.

Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni’s stated objective is to declare a "transitional" Palestinian state with "provisional" borders, an option that appears in the second phase of the road map. When Israel accepted the road map in March 2003 it attached "14 reservations." Israel considers these reservations as integral parts of the road map. Israel’s fifth reservation states:

"The provisional state will have provisional borders and certain aspects of sovereignty, be fully demilitarized…, be without the authority to undertake defense alliances or military cooperation, and Israeli control over the entry and exit of all persons and cargo, as well as of its air space and electromagnetic spectrum."

Such a state would be squeezed between the separation wall, Israel’s "demographic border", and the Jordan Valley, Israel’s "security border" with Jordan. With the Jordan Valley making up approximately 30% of the West Bank, under this scenario Israel would likely retain more than 40% of the West Bank. This transitional Palestinian state would consist of a series of isolated Bantustans, or as Sharon, who fathered the plan, preferred to refer to them, "cantons."

In the past the Palestinians have pressed to have this option of the temporary state removed from the road map, since the history of Israel’s occupation shows that "temporary measures" are almost always permanent. However, Palestinian negotiators now accept the possibility of a temporary state on the condition that they receive international assurances that the third and final phase of the road map, that includes a permanent settlement, will be implemented within six months. Israel has no intention of accepting this condition.

It is questionable whether Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will be able to accept this offer without a timeframe for a permanent settlement. But perhaps he is not even meant to accept. For if Abbas refuses another Israeli-American "generous offer" his rejection could be presented to the world as more proof that there are no Palestinian "partners for peace." Israel would then be "justified" in implementing its convergence plan unilaterally.

For a map of Kadima’s convergence plan click here.

Unilateral "convergence" will make it possible to create a situation in the West Bank similar to what unilateral "disengagement" has created in the Gaza. Gaza’s residents, 70% of whom are refugees from what is now Israel, are currently isolated economically and physically isolated, starving and under total Israeli blockade from land, air and sea.

Olmert, Bush, Blair and their accomplices in the "Quartet" have vast, sophisticated and boundlessly resourced PR machinery that, through unlimited access to an uncritical media, can put a compelling "peace spin" on an apartheid process. During the November meeting they will assure the world of their commitment to a Palestinian state (with the appropriate Abbas/Olmert/Bush photo ops). They will promise to commit millions of dollars, funding Palestinian "institution building" and humanitarian aid and arming troops in order to "keep the peace" inside the bantustans. Arab states will normalize relations with Israel, strengthening the "moderates" of the entire region, thus softening the Arab street as a prerequisite for an American led strike on Iran.

Even the participants in the summit realize that the Israeli occupation is no longer sustainable in its current form. If we, the peace and justice community, manage to expose this latest maneuver for what it really is, Israel could be forced into fair negotiations for the first time.

For this to happen we must mobilize immediately. It is our job to educate the rest of the world about what these talks really mean and the truth about what is happening. The writing is literally on the wall and on the ground. It took many months if not years to expose the ugly truth behind the first "generous offer." Let’s not make that mistake again.

One Third of the Holocaust

Source: Wakeupfromyourslumber - Oct 12, 2007

This is an excellent holocaust denial movie in thirty parts. The author has offered it for free and you can link to it here.

The videos total over four hours, but you don't have to watch it all at once. The author critiques the original sources used to support the holocaust myth, and shows the quotes in the actual books. It's all laid out in black and white with green highlighter.

This video has been banned at youtube. I wonder why? They still offer the video which "debunks" this video. Free Speech is dead in the United States.

Lucy in Annapolis

Source Xymphora - October 12, 2007

We’re heading for another in what seems to be the never-ending series of Lucy moments with the Annapolis peace conference. The propaganda message is being set, expectations are being lowered (based, naturally, on the failings of the Palestinians), all in the context of an extremely weak Israeli government with a Jewish population that is firmly committed to never giving up any of the lands stolen in 1967. The current charade features rumors of returning parts of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, followed by the predictable chorus of boos from the Israeli right, all as part of the commotion required for Lucy to pull the football away.

The South African leaders saw the writing on the wall and, in the face of consternation from their constituents, decided to make the best deal they could while they could. I’ve been pointing out that Israeli leaders have a real problem with missiles, one that they are pretending to deal with by erecting a propaganda missile defense system. The big brains in Israel have to know that this system is only useful for fooling Israeli civilians, and will be relatively useless against real missiles. Military technology has permanently changed the facts on the ground in the area around Israel, something only brought home with the recent embarrassing defeat of the IDF in Lebanon (not to mention the recent obviously failed mission to Syria). At what point do Israeli leaders decide to make the best deal they can while they can? Or are Israeli leaders simply not of the caliber of the white South African leaders?

There is an additional time pressure being applied with the sudden and remarkable success of the Walt and Mearsheimer book. At some point, the dam erected by the Jew-controlled media in the United States will break, and the plight of the Palestinians, hitherto completely hidden by the American media, will be all over the news. The two strong theses – that the disaster of the Iraq war wouldn’t have happened but for the Lobby, and that single-minded support of Likudnik policies is against the real interests of Americans – will suddenly be in debate. At that point, Israel’s bargaining position suddenly becomes immeasurably weaker. The question for Israeli leaders is how much longer the Jew-controlled media can continue to lie to Americans.

Iraqi Shiite leader seeks US-Iran talks

Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, the leader of the Supreme Islamic Council of Iraq, waves to supporters during an Eid al-Fitr prayer service to mark the end of the holy month of Ramadan outside the al-Hakim party headquarters, Jadiriyah, central Baghdad, Iraq, Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007. Ammar al-Hakim, the son of Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, appealed for unity among all Iraqis and a faster build up of the national security forces that could assume full responsibility from U.S. troops in the country. (AP Photo/Hadi Mizban)

by KATARINA KRATOVAC, Associated Press - Oct 13, 2007

The son of one Iraq's most senior statesmen on Saturday called for more dialogue between the United States and Iran as Shiites took their turn celebrating the end of the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Ammar al-Hakim made his appeal during a sermon he delivered in place of his ailing father, Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, leader of Iraq's largest Shiite party, the Supreme Islamic Iraq Council.

Iraq's Shiite-led government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has long played a delicate balancing act in the bitter rivalry between Washington and Tehran, putting off Iranian calls for a U.S. troop pullout while balking at U.S. pressure to take a tougher line against Tehran.

"We call for positive dialogue between America and Iran," al-Hakim said.

The senior al-Hakim attended the prayer service in southeastern Baghdad and was greeted by well-wishers afterward, three days after returning home from his last round of chemotherapy in Iran. He was diagnosed last May with lung cancer following tests in a Texas hospital, but chose to be treated in Iran to be near his family.

Ammar al-Hakim appealed for unity among all Iraqis and a faster build up of the national security forces that could assume full responsibility from U.S. troops in the country.

"We will do our best not to allow a permanent (foreign) military base on our land," al-Hakim told hundreds of supporters gathered outside the party's headquarters in Baghdad's Jadriyah district.

On Friday, a former chief of U.S.-led forces, retired Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, said the American mission in Iraq was a "nightmare with no end in sight" because of political and military misjudgments after the fall of Saddam Hussein.

Sanchez commanded coalition troops for a year beginning June 2003. Speaking in Arlington, Va., he criticized current U.S. military strategies — including the deployment of 30,000 additional forces earlier this year — as a "desperate attempt" to make up for years of misguided policies.

The military on Saturday reported the deaths of two Americans soldiers killed in a mortar attack Wednesday near the Iraqi capital.

Al-Hakim insisted Iraqis will prevail.

"We are still on the march to achieve complete sovereignty of Iraq and this will be accomplished," he said.

In the sermon, al-Hakim also urged the region's Arab countries to support the political process in Iraq by opening diplomatic missions here and he appealed on "other nearby Islamic countries" — a reference to Iran — to support Iraq and its people.

The United States accuses Iran of arming Shiite militias and supplying them with sophisticated explosive devices used to attack U.S. troops in Iraq. Iran denies the charges.

In violence Saturday, the police commander in the northern city of Kirkuk escaped an assassination attempt, although the roadside bomb targeting his convoy killed one of his guards and wounded three others, along with one bystander, police Col. Burhan Tayeb said.

New round of US shootings claims young lives

by Kate Randall - Oct 13, 2007

A series of disturbing and violent incidents involving teenagers and deadly weapons over the past week once again points to mounting social tensions in the US and deep-seated alienation among young people. The communities shaken by these incidents include urban and suburban areas, as well as small-town America.

Such events have occurred periodically in the years since the Columbine High School massacre in 1999. But with each new eruption, the authorities and the media reveal their inability to provide any serious explanation for either the specific incidents or the general phenomenon of young people resorting to homicidal and, in many cases, suicidal violence.

Each outburst is met with disbelief and treated simply as a law-enforcement problem, replete with new calls for more police and beefed-up security.

In Crandon, Wisconsin on October 7, 20-year-old Tyler Peterson, a Crandon High School graduate and sheriff’s deputy, shot and killed six people who had gathered at a friend’s apartment for pizza.

Peterson arrived at the apartment at around 2:30 a.m. He began an argument with his former girlfriend that became heated and she demanded he leave. He returned minutes later armed with an AR-15 rifle and proceeded to gun down six people and wound another before he was shot and killed by police.

All of the victims were either students or graduates of Crandon High School. Crandon, a small community of about 2,000 in northeastern Wisconsin, is known in the region as a vacation destination for hunting, fishing and snowmobiling, and is also the home of the Crandon International Off-Road Raceway.

Funerals began Friday for the victims, who included: Bradley Schultz, 20, a criminal justice major at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee; Lindsey Stahl, a 14-year-old freshman and animal rights activist; Jordanne Murray, 18, Peterson’s former girlfriend; Aaron Smith, 20, who worked casually as a construction worker; Lianna Thomas, 18, who left behind a twin sister; and Katrina McCorkle, 18, a senior and longtime friend of Jordanne Murray.

The town is a state of shock following the shootings. Charlie Neitzel, 21, the only one at the party to survive the shooting, sustained extensive gunshot wounds. It is too early to know the long-term effects of his injuries. Charlie’s aunt told the press that he is “devastated” and “mourning the loss of many of his closest friends.”

In a statement earlier this week, the shooter’s family apologized and said, “We are struggling to respond like most of you. We do not know what we should do. Like you, many of us are asking why and looking for answers.”

Just three days later, on October 10 in Cleveland, Ohio, Asa Coon, 14, entered a downtown high school and went on a shooting rampage, wounding two students and two teachers before taking his own life.

The young man, a new student at SuccessTech Academy, an alternative high school for gifted and troubled teens, had a long history of family and mental health problems. According to court records, he had spent time in two juvenile facilities and was suspended from another school last year for attempting to harm a student.

A report by a Cortland County, New York social worker in 1997, when Asa Coon was three, said that he lived with his family in a garbage-strewn home. According to the caseworker, his older brothers threatened neighbors with knives, rocks and a fake bomb.

When Asa was four years old, his mother, Lori Looney, was found guilty of neglect by the county juvenile court. His father was not involved with the family.

In 2005, Asa admitted in juvenile court that he had punched his mother in the eye and yelled obscenities at her. He was ordered to attend weekly counseling sessions, perform community service and attend anger management classes. He was never able to attend the anger management classes because, at age 11-12, authorities said he was too young.

According to the email correspondence between caseworkers who treated him, he “made a suicidal statement” and was given medication to treat depression and hyperactivity. Reporting on a home visit, a court officer noted that Asa was “polite and well mannered.”

After Asa slapped his mother in 2006, a court magistrate ordered psychological testing and family therapy. The Cleveland Plain Dealer reported that he was eventually placed in an interim shelter, where he attempted suicide.

The family’s troubles persisted. The Monday before he opened fire at SuccessTech Academy, Asa’s older brother Stephen, 19, was arrested in connection with an armed robbery. The day after the shooting, on Thursday, Stephen Coon was arrested again for a parole violation.

Christina Burns, a volunteer at one of the schools Asa Coon attended, said he was an intelligent student who was prone to mood swings and was unable to concentrate. She was angry that no one reached out to him.

“This all could have been prevented if he had the proper intervention,” she said. “That child was tormented from his classmates every single day. Everybody’s making him out to be a devil, a demon, but nobody knows what was going on with this kid.”

He eventually ended up in a downtown detention center, and then a mental hospital, where it was determined he might suffer from bipolar disease. He was eventually enrolled in SuccessTech, a predominantly black school in downtown Cleveland.

Asa Coon, who was white, stood out in his habitual outfit of black clothes and a trench coat, with an empty gun belt strapped to his leg. LaToya Sparks, 15, told the New York Times, “He was chubby and short, and he was the only kid in school who dressed like a Goth.”

Fellow students reported that he was an atheist and a follower of rocker Marilyn Manson. A schoolmate told CNN that the Monday before the shootings he was beaten up after saying “F—- God” during an argument. He was suspended for three days.

“When he got suspended, he said, “I got something for y’all,’” a schoolmate told CNN. “I thought he was just playing, because he, like, said that all the time. But I see that he was for real.”

Asa Coon’s uncle, Larry Looney, said his nephew was upset about the suspension, and that teachers and administrators wouldn’t listen to his side of the story regarding the fight. Looney told the Associated Press that Asa had been bullied all his life and was excited to be accepted into SuccessTech, which specializes in technology and entrepreneurship. “He really had high hopes because he knew ... this was his best chance, this was the safest type of environment,” Looney said.

Local authorities and the media have made much of the fact that Asa Coon was able to enter the school building on the day of the shootings without his weapons being detected, walking past an armed security guard. The school board has portable metal detectors that are randomly moved from school to the school, but none was present at SuccessTech that day.

Asa went to a fourth-floor bathroom, changed clothes, took weapons out of a duffel bag and emerged to begin his rampage. Despite the existence of 26 security cameras, he was able to walk down a school hallway and start shooting. Students ran screaming and hid under tables and in closets.

When Asa saw police arrive he shot himself behind the ear with a .38-caliber shell loaded with pellets. Next to his body, police found two revolvers—.22 caliber and .38 caliber, with ammunition for each—and three folding knives.

Appearing on ABC’s “Nightline,” one of the teachers wounded in the shootings, David Kachadourian, was pressed by interviewer Martin Bashir on the issue of school security: “There’s no metal detector at the entrance to the school and we understand that parents have been campaigning for additional security for some time. Does it suggest that security hasn’t really been a high enough priority?”

The teacher answered, “I would say that this kind of situation is so out of the normal, so totally unexpected and unexpected, that it’s not something that anybody would have foreseen.”

Kachadourian had a more perceptive interpretation of the tragic incident and Asa Coon’s outburst. “It’s really, really sad to think that he had so much pain and so much anger that he just felt like he could do nothing else,” he said. “There’s a lot of pain in the world. There’s a lot of suffering by kids and a lot of it is invisible or barely visible—as a teacher, it’s really scary to think about how much pain there is out there that we don’t know about.”

He added, “It’s scary to think about kids who are carrying so much pain around and what they have to live with and what they have to endure, and you worry about them a lot.”

What is the source of this pain and suffering? Young people growing up in America today live under conditions of exploding social inequality. Funds are cut for social programs and jobs and wages are slashed. This finds reflection in working families overwhelmed by economic problems that can translate into domestic violence or neglect, both physical and emotional. Families fragment.

At the same time, youth are witness to a ruling establishment that—while worshipping the accumulation of wealth for the few—promotes militarism in a worldwide “war on terror” and the resulting death and human misery. At home, civil liberties are attacked as both big business parties pass legislation authorizing domestic spying and deep inroads into basic democratic rights.

This atmosphere breeds violence and disorientation.

In another disturbing incident this week involving teenagers and guns, a 14-year-old boy in a Philadelphia suburb was arrested Friday morning for planning what authorities referred to as a “Columbine-type” shooting at a local high school. Police were alerted by another boy who had been approached by the youth to participate in the plot.

A search Wednesday of the boy’s home in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania turned up a 9mm semiautomatic rifle, about 30 air-powered guns, seven hand grenades, swords, knives, a bomb-making book, videos of the Columbine attack, and a hand-painted Nazi flag. The arsenal was in clear view in the boy’s bedroom. The boy said two .22-caliber weapons were also stored at a friend’s house.

The teenager has been charged as a juvenile with solicitation to commit terror and other counts. The judge also ordered that he undergo psychiatric and educational achievement evaluations.

His mother, Michele Crossey, 46, has also been charged with six criminal counts in connection with buying her son bomb-making equipment and firearms, including two rifles and a handgun. The charges against her include unlawful transfer of a firearm, possession of a firearm by a minor, corruption of a minor and endangering the welfare of a child.

Bush OKs More War & Torture

Even cruel punishment of children approved by top Neocon advisor

By Robert M. Bowman - Oct 13, 2007

Ex-Fighter Pilot Explains to Military Men Why It’s Their Duty to Disobey Orders for Genocide

You are facing challenges in 2007 that we of previous generations never dreamed of. I’m just an old fighter pilot (101 combat missions in Vietnam) who’s now a disabled veteran with terminal cancer from Agent Orange.

Our mailing list (over 22,000) includes veterans from all branches of the service, all political parties, and all parts of the political spectrum. What unites us is our desire for a government that follows the Constitution, honors the truth, and serves the people.

We see our government going down the wrong path, all too often ignoring military advice, and heading us toward great danger. And we look to you who still serve as the best hope for protecting our nation from disaster.

We see the current Iraq war as having been unnecessary, entered into under false pretenses, and horribly mismanaged by the civilian authorities. Thousands of our brave troops have been needlessly sacrificed in a futile attempt at occupation of a hostile land. Many more thousands have suffered wounds which will change their lives forever. Tens of thousands have severe psychological problems because of what they have seen and what they have done. Potentially hundreds of thousands could be poisoned by depleted uranium, with symptoms appearing years later, just as happened to us exposed to Agent Orange.

The military services are depleted and demoralized. The VA system is under-funded and overwhelmed. The National Guard and Reserves have been subjected to tour after tour, disrupting lives for even the lucky ones who return intact. Jobs have been lost, marriages have been destroyed, homes have been foreclosed on, and children have been estranged. And for what? We have lost allies, made new enemies and created thousands of new terrorists, further endangering the American people.

But you know all this. I’m sure you also see the enormous danger in a possible attack on Iran, possibly with nuclear weapons. Such an event, seriously contemplated by the Cheney faction of the Bush administration, would make enemies of Russia and China and turn us into the No. 1 rogue nation on Earth. The effect on our long-term national security would be devastating.

Some of us had hoped that the new Democratic Congress would end the occupation of Iraq and take firm steps to prevent an attack on Iran, perhaps by impeaching Bush and Cheney. These hopes have been dashed. The lily-livered Democrats have caved in, turning their backs on those few like Rep. Jack Murtha (DPa.) who understand the situation. Many of us have personally walked the halls of Congress, to no avail. This is where you come in.

Many of you share our concern and our determination to protect our republic from an arrogant, out-of-control, imperial presidency and a compliant, namby pamby Congress (both of which are unduly influenced by the oil companies and other big-money interests).

You, like us, wouldn’t have pursued a military career unless you were idealistic and devoted to our nation and its people. (None of us does it for the pay and working conditions.) But you may not see how you can influence these events. We in the military have always had a historic subservience to civilian authority.

Our oath of office is to “protect and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” This includes a rogue president and vice president. Certainly we are bound to carry out the legal orders of our superiors. But the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) which binds all of us enshrines the Nuremberg Principles which this country established after World War II (which you are too young to remember).

One of those Nuremberg Principles says that we in the military have not only the right, but also the duty, to refuse an illegal order. It was on this basis that we executed Nazi officers who were “only carrying out their orders.”

The Constitution that we are sworn to uphold says that treaties entered into by the United States are the “highest law of the land,” equivalent to the Constitution itself. Accordingly, we in the military are sworn to uphold treaty law, including the United Nations Charter and the Geneva Conventions.

Based on the above, I contend that should some civilian order you to initiate a nuclear attack on Iran (for example), you are duty-bound to refuse that order. You should consider whether the circumstances demand that you arrest whoever gave the order as a war criminal.

I know for a fact that in recent history (once under Nixon and once under Reagan), the military nuclear chain of command in the White House discussed these things and was prepared to refuse an order to “nuke Russia.”

In effect they took the (non-existent) “button” out of the hands of the president. We were thus never quite as close toWorldWar III as many feared, no matter how irrational any president might have become. They determined that the proper response to any such order was, “Why, sir?” Unless there was (in their words) a “damn good answer,” nothing was going to happen.

If you in this generation have not had such a discussion, it is time you do. In hindsight, it’s too bad such a discussion did not take place prior to the preemptive “shock and awe” attack on Baghdad. Many of us at the time spoke out vehemently that such an attack would be an impeachable offense, a war crime against the people of Iraq and treason against the United States. But our voices never reached the ears of the generals in 2003.

President Bush could be court-martialed for abuse of power as commander-in-chief. Vice President Cheney could probably be court-martialed for his performance as acting commander-in-chief in the White House bunker the morning of Sept. 11, 2001.

We in the military would never consider a military coup, removing an elected president and installing one of our own. But following our oath of office, obeying the Nuremberg Principles and preventing a rogue president from committing a war crime is not a military coup.

If it requires the detention of executive branch officials, we will not impose a military dictatorship. We will let the constitutional succession take place.

Robert M. Bowman, Ph.D., Lt. Col., USAF, retired
National Commander, The Patriots

Smear Campaign Against Ron Paul Goes Into Overdrive

Corporate media peddles ridiculous conspiracy theories that Ron Paul's meteoric popularity is entirely fake

by Steve Watson - Oct 12, 2007

The smear campaign against Presidential candidate Ron Paul has hit an all time high with the corporate media today ludicrously declaring that the Congressman's immense worldwide popularity is all a huge con emanating from Dr Paul's own office.

Rupert Murdoch owned Australian outlet has today disseminated the most insidious and farcical report concerning Ron Paul to date.

Headlined Republican Ron Paul in possible 'fake online campaign', the article attempts to convince the reader that every aspect of Ron Paul's popularity, from his you tube website, to his dominance of online polls and debate polls has been totally faked by his own staff!

The astounding accusation reads:

A CANDIDATE for the US presidency is being buoyed by a massive online campaign that may be a fake grassroots movement organised by party staff.

Head of Flinders University’s Department of American Studies Don De Bats told that it “sounded like” an astroturfing campaign.

Astroturfing is the term used to describe a fake grassroots campaign, where members of an organisation create the illusion that “ordinary people” are behind the movement.

Note how the author of the article uses words such as "possible" and "may" and "sounded like" to cover the fact that its content is total baloney from start to finish and could even be considered libelous.

From what I can make out (please correct me if I'm wrong because this trash is almost incoherent) the author, Mark Schliebs, then makes a pathetic rambling attempt to sell the notion that because popular youtube videos of Ron Paul were uploaded by the same person with the username RonPaul2008dotcom this means it is some sort of massive fake conspiracy???!

As blogger Darryl Mason points out in this excellent rebuttal, "The RonPaul2008 channel is an election channel, which every presidential wannabe who is seriously pursuing an online audience also has, including Billary, Giuliani and Barack Obama. It's an online campaign, so of course Ron Paul supporters or Ron Paul's own office is going to post clips, just as the teams behind Giuliani, Billary and Obama are now also doing."

Ron Paul's most popular clips on youtube have received tens of thousands of views, where as figures for Rudy Giuliani's most popular clips are in the low hundreds or even in the 90's. Ron Paul's youtube channel has been viewed 4.5 million times by supporters, is youtube in on this mass conspiracy too? Is youtube fixing its viewing figures for Ron Paul?

To add insult to injury Schliebs then throws in the "expert analysis" of an American studies professor. Not a technological expert or an experienced internet campaigner or someone within another successful grassroots organisation, but a guy who lectures about Abe Lincoln to 17 year olds:

Professor De Bats said that for a relatively unknown candidate like Dr Paul to have so much prominence online was suspicious.

“I would not put any credibility on those results,” Prof De Bats said.

“I find it terrifically surprising and unlikely (that Dr Paul would attract that level of response).”

I find it terrifically surprising that such awful journalism can make it into umpteen nationally syndicated newspapers, but it still has.

The piece reads like Schliebs has been ordered to attack Ron Paul and has just taken a wild stab in the dark with no foundation of evidence or substance and then had the gall to find some unwitting person with the letters "PhD" after their name to agree with him.

Similar claims denying reality have been made about Ron Paul's dominance in polls after Republican debates. Despite the fact that most major media organisations only allow one vote from each IP address or mobile phone, for text messaging polls, corporate media outlets keep suggesting that their own polls are being rigged and hijacked by Ron Paul spammers.

In a familiar move CNBC even removed its own poll on Tuesday night just hours after the debate had ended when they realized Ron Paul was winning by such a wide margin.

Today CNBC Managing Editor, Allen Wastler, responded to demands for an explanation by clearly stating that CNBC pulled the poll because Ron Paul was winning. Wastler then also spouted the conspiracy theory that every poll is being rigged for Ron Paul to win:

Now Paul is a fine gentleman with some substantial backing and, by the way, was a dynamic presence throughout the debate , but I haven't seen him pull those kind of numbers in any "legit" poll. Our poll was either hacked or the target of a campaign. So we took the poll down.
The next day, our email basked was flooded with Ron Paul support messages. And the computer logs showed the poll had been hit with traffic from Ron Paul chat sites. I learned other Internet polls that night had been hit in similar fashion. Congratulations. You folks are obviously well-organized and feel strongly about your candidate and I can't help but admire that.

Some of you Ron Paul fans take issue with my decision to take the poll down. Fine. When a well-organized and committed "few" can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of "the many," I get a little worried. I'd take it down again.

What kind of twisted logic is this? Ron Paul has more fans and is attracting more committed and organised supporters than any other candidate, so it's not fair? We are talking about the lead up to a democratic election for crying out loud, THAT'S THE POINT OF AN ELECTION, TO DETERMINE WHO IS THE MOST POPULAR!!

Dear Mr Wastler, some Ron Paul detractors take issue with the fact Ron Paul is trouncing the opposition. Fine. But when a well-organized and committed "few" can throw the results of a system meant to reflect the sentiments of "the many," I get a little worried.

Blair trying to bribe PA with economic promises

by Khalid Amayrah - Oct 13, 2007

“This man is deceitful and duplicitous and can’t be trusted. Besides, he should have understood a long time ago, while he was Britain’s Prime Minister, that the problem in Palestine is this Nazi Jewish occupation which prevents normal economic activities,” said Abu Ahmed Qasrawi.

“How can we have normal economic activities in the West Bank when we are not allowed to travel on our own roads, when Israeli military roadblocks, manned by young, trigger-happy, Gestapo-like soldiers kill every semblance of normal life, economic and otherwise.?”

The former British Prime Minister on Wednesday, 10 October, met with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah and reportedly discussed with him creating “economic incentives” that would be conducive to creating the right environment for advancing peace between the Palestinians and Israel.

In Hebron , Blair met with the Governor of Hebron Hussein al Araj and town’s mayor Khalid al Oseili, both appointed by Abbas.

Hebron is considered a Hamas stronghold.

The two local officials briefed Blair on the political and economic situation in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank, where hundreds of extremist Jewish settlers, backed by the Israeli army, routinely attack Arabs and vandalize their property.

“We told Mr. Blair that economic revival is very difficult under the current political and security situation,” Oseili told reporters after the meeting.

“In order to have normal economic activities, you’ve got to have freedom of movement and a free flow of goods and services. And given the draconian Israeli restrictions on Palestinian movement within the West Bank, it is extremely difficult to conduct normal economic activities.”

Asked if he sensed or detected any modicum of honesty in the tone of Blair’s words, Oseili evaded the question, saying “I am an optimistic person.”

Asked further if he would give Blair the benefit of the doubt, the Hebron mayor said “my job is to lay out the bare facts to whomever is willing to listen.”

Earlier, some Hebron businessmen and entrepreneurs accused Blair of seeking “to bribe the Palestinians into giving up the right of return in exchange of economic aide.”

“This man is deceitful and duplicitous and can’t be trusted. Besides, he should have understood a long time ago, while he was Britain’s Prime Minister, that the problem in Palestine is this Nazi Jewish occupation which prevents normal economic activities,” said Abu Ahmed Qasrawi.

“How can we have normal economic activities in the West Bank when we are not allowed to travel on our own roads, when Israeli military roadblocks, manned by young, trigger-happy, Gestapo-like soldiers kill every semblance of normal life, economic and otherwise.?”

In Ramallah, Blair reportedly told Abbas that a prospective political settlement of the conflict with Israel wouldn’t survive and be durable without economic prosperity.

According to PA officials, Abbas welcomed Blair’s interest in uplifting living conditions of Palestinians. However, Abbas told him that the basic problem in Palestine was the Israeli occupation which precludes normal economic activities.

In Hebron , Blair avoided reporters and refused to answer questions.

Most Palestinian journalists and cameramen boycotted Blair’s visit to Hebron after PA crack police verbally assaulted reporters, threatening to smash their cameras.

Eventually, a few foreign journalists, including this reporter, managed to enter Hebron City Hall, but were not allowed to ask questions.

One Palestinian journalist said he would have asked Blair how he thought future Arab and Muslim generations would view him in light of his key role in engineering the Anglo-American invasion and destruction of Iraq, which has so far caused the death of nearly a million Iraqis.

Predictably, Blair is deeply despised in the occupied Palestinian territories as well as through the Arab-Muslim world for his close association with George Bush’s “war on terror,” which is widely viewed by Muslims as a western crusade against their own religion.

Blair is also hated for supporting Israel’s genocidal campaigns in Lebanon and Gaza which killed and maimed thousands of civilians and caused widespread damage to civilian infrastructure.

Framing Questions and Making Choices

by Mary Pitt - Oct 13, 2007

The politicians, though they profess to ignore them, are greatly influenced by the national concensus polls. There have long been comments that the polls can say anything you want them to depending on the wording of the questions. It seems that may be all too true, because those questions do not include a real choice in the answer.

Of course, everybody resents the amounts of Social Security contributions which are taken out of their paychecks before they get them and, of course, nobody really enjoys paying taxes. However, if given a choice, these same people may find an entirely different answer to be appropriate. This was brought home to me recently while I was chatting with the young vice-president of our local bank. I believe I am safe in saying that he is a Republican because a Democrat is a rare find in these environs. In discussing the liabilities with which I am struggling as the result of my husband's death eight months ago, I stated that people are not aware of the amounts of medical bills that are not covered by Medicare. This led into a discussion of the costs of medical care in general. Then I simply asked him if he would be willing to pay a higher tax rate and be able to stop paying the exhorbitant premiums for medical coverage which still require the payment of cash from one's pocket. After a very short period of thought, he gave an answer which would astonish any of our representatives in government. A Republican constituent who would approve a single-payer universal health plan!

President Bush keeps telling us that Americans should be allowed to "make choices" and is very proud that he gave the senior citizens the privilege of deciding which insurance companies we would allow the national treasury to enrich by taking our money on a monthly basis as well as the government subsidy for which to pay only a portion of our prescription medical expenses. In order to do this, we have to talk to several insurance providers and choose which ones may offer us the better deal. In some cases, you must purchase your meds only from approved pharmacies. If your choices are limited due to location and availability of transportation, then you must continiue your search until you find one that will allow you to patronize the one in your area. Then you must go back to your physician to determine which medicines may be safely replaced with generic and which require the brand name product necessitating the payment of a higher deductible. Of course, there is also a co-payment for the price of an office visit to do so due to the patterning of Social Security after the practices of the insurance companies.

In every instance for the last six years, every time we are told we are given a choice, we find our choices limited by secret back-room deals between the White House and the big corporations. The next election, (and there are those who do not expect that to even happen), we may have an opportunity to change that situation, depending on who the Democratic leadership decides will be their candidate, and even that is not to be our choice. Senator Clinton and all the Republican candidates cannot seem to grasp the idea of "Mediare For All", proposing instead to pass mandatory insurance so that, again, our "choice" will be limited to which insurance company CEO will be enriched by our participation. Senator Biden wants us all to have "the same medical care that Congress has" without specifying how that plan could be enlarged to include the populace. Only former Senator Mike Gravel and Rep. Dennis Kucinich are willing to announce that they would support universal single -payer health care financed by tax contributions.

However, in a Congress that is averse to interfering with private enterprise, it appears unlikely that any meaningful health care reform will be on the horizon. The question rarely surfaces on any of the debates or television interviews. It may be that those who are conducting the questioning do not realize the importance of the problem in the lives of working Americans or it may simply be that the questions are ruled out by the respective candidates who simply do not want to be queried about it. But the questions will not be swept under the rug and forgotten in the furor over Iraq and the economy about which they prefer to argue. But so long as Americans may become ill and may find that medical bills are devastating and so long as people look to their government for the help that they need, the matter will not go away.

The same situation exists in discussions about Social Security. The cries of the young and inexperienced are long and loud as they insist they they can plan their own retirement without government intervention, and besides, that's awaaaay down the road! However, when one suggests the possibility that they just might lose their shirts in the stock market and have to rely on their children for the necessities of life in their dotage, they suddenly feel a wave of insecurity. We have become a nation of immediate gratification. We want it all and we want it NOW. We have become trained by the media and the advertisers that greed and selfishness are the norm and tomorrow can take care of itself. The burdens of maturity are held at bay as long as possible while we clutch our puny possessions to out breasts and scream, "Mine! Mine! Mine!"

Unless and until we can have a frank and candid conversation with our representatives to Washington regarding a calm and sensible approach to the domestic needs of our nation, instead of substituting the desires of the big multi-national corporations to keep us in bondage to them, there is little hope of continuing our existence as a democratic republic. For that, we must choose carefully not only the candidates whom we support but the actions which we can expect them to take once in office. These so-called debates with the one-line sound-bite responses just will not provide us with the information we need in order to exercise our franchise. The future of our nation, ourselves, and our children depend on our choosing wisely.

It's truly dangerous out there!

"Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire"

by Stephen Lendman - Oct 12, 2007

James Petras is Binghamton University, New York Professor Emeritus of Sociology whose credentials and achievements are long and impressive. He's a noted academic figure on the left, a well-respected Latin American expert, and a longtime chronicler of the region's popular struggles as well as being an advisor to the landless workers (MST) in Brazil and unemployed workers in Argentina. Petras is also a prolific author. He's written hundreds of articles and 63 books (and counting), published in 29 languages, including his latest one and subject of this review - "Rulers and Ruled in the US Empire."

The book is information rich on a core issue of our time. It discusses the US empire's "systemic dimensions," evolving changes in its ruling class, its corporatist system, myths about its coming collapse, contradictions in the current debate on immigration and market liberalization policies, the use of force and genocidal carnage, corruption as a market penetrating tool, the Israeli Lobby's power and influence, Latin American relations and events in the region, social and armed resistance, and much more in four power-packed parts under 17 subject chapter headings.

It's all covered below giving readers a detailed sampling of Petras' thoroughly documented, powerful and insightful account of his subject - who rules America, who's ruled, the US imperial role in the world economy and politics, and challenges to it in China, Latin America and the Middle East. This is another must-read book by a distinguished intellect and major figure on the left who writes dozens of them. This is his latest.

Part I: The US Empire As A System

Petras distinguishes between who sets policies and rules America and whose interests are served. He defines the ruling class as "people in key positions in financial, corporate and other business institutions" with rules "established, modified and adjusted" as the composition and "shifts in power" within the ruling class change over time. One example is manufacuring's decline (from outsourcing to low cost countries) as a "multidimensional financial sector" (finance capital) rose in prominence with Wall Street's influence especially dominant.

Petras defines "finance capital" to include investment banks, pension funds, hedge funds, saving and loan banks, investment funds and many other "operative managers" of a multi-trillion dollar economy they've all benefitted hugely from. They've been the driving force powering real estate and financial markets speculation, agribusiness, commodity production and manufacturing. Petras calls "finance capital" the "midwife" of wealth and capital as well as a "direct owner of the means of production and distribution."

He stratifies it into three sub-groups from top to bottom in importance: big private equity bankers and hedge fund managers, Wall street executives, and senior officials of private and Wall Street public equity funds as well as major figures in top law and accounting firms. Political leaders are drawn from their ranks with Wall Street in the lead and one firm in particular standing out - Goldman Sachs. Today, its former CEO Henry Paulson is the de facto US economic czar in charge of proving doomsayers wrong about the US economy with Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke's money creation power partnered with him. Both of them must also navigate around the powerful Israeli Lobby and its pro-war agenda that could lead to catastrophic consequences if the US and/or Israel attack Iran and the Middle East explodes and disrupts oil flows.

Petras sees an inevitable split between wealth-first financial ruling class objectives and militarists in the Bush administration, their counterparts in Israel, and the Lobby representing Israeli interests with a stranglehold on most of Congress. The battle lines shape up over Israeli Middle East dominance at the cost of imperial overreach, an escalating trade deficit, a ballooning national debt, decreasing capital inflows to offset it, and a declining dollar as other nations move to euros, yen and pounds sterling. Something has to give, says Petras, as both sides support opposing agendas that only a crisis-provoking widespread backlash may resolve.

For now, however, things couldn't be better for the ruling class (despite their disrupted plans in Iraq and Afghanistan) with the top 2% of adults in the world owning half its wealth, the top 10% with 85% of it, and the bottom half with just 1%. The result is an unprecedented wealth disparity with corporate CEO's on average earning over 400 times the median income of wage and salaried workers, and for top-earning speculators and hedge fund managers the ratio is 1000 to one with some having incomes topping a billion dollars a year. In addition, corporate wealth was at a record 43% of 2005 national income accruing to profits, rents and other non-wage/salary sources compared to a declining percentage of it to individuals, except for those at the top gaining hugely.

Petras states: "The growth of monstrous and rigid class inequalities reflects the narrow social base of an economy dominated by finance capital" with the US redistributing far less to its people than other developed nations like those in Western Europe. Democrats are as culpable as Republicans with both parties tied to big monied interests through campaign funding and the power of lobbies. It makes everyone in the political power structure unwilling to change things so they don't. The result is working Americans suffer hugely while those at the top never had it so good. It signals warnings of a potential worker backlash ahead that for now have gone unheeded. Elitists ignore it at their peril, so far without negative consequences to their dominance, but watch out.

Capitalism or US Workers in Crisis?

Petras notes how for years many on the left and some in the financial community have been predicting the "coming collapse, decline or demise of capitalism" as though (for some) wishing would make it so. They're still predicting, but it hasn't happened, and Petras explains why not. It's because business and government partnered (especially since the 1980s) to let workers take the pain so business could gain and prosper. It's done it hugely and continues to despite the resurgent summer doomsday predictions still ongoing.

In a letter to clients, noted investment manager Jeremy Grantham explained why business is resilient by comparing the global financial system (with its US anchor) to a giant suspension bridge. Thousands of bolts hold it together, so when some of them fail, even a lot of them, it's not enough to bring it down. Short of " metal fatigue," even more bolts may fail, but he's betting the bridge will hold, supported by amazing "animal spirits," at least for now.

Grantham is likely right in the near term, while Petras takes a longer view, and his arguments are compelling. He sees labor today in crisis with living standards declining the result of reduced or eliminated business benefits, government services and stagnating wages. He also lists popular myths predicting doom ahead - the growing budget and current account deficits; ballooning national debt; excess speculation; weakening dollar; high energy costs; outsourcing of jobs at all levels, and more. Petras maintains these problems aren't as serious as claimed because:

-- budget deficits declined in 2006 as tax revenues rose from high-end earners' greater income at the expense of labor getting less;

-- foreign investment in the US remains high;

-- the dollar remains the world's reserve currency; over time, it weakens and strengthens based on interest rates, political events, and the overall level of economic activity; nonetheless, the dollar weakened considerably after the Fed cut interest rates and depreciated to an all-time low against a basket of six of its major peer currencies that include the euro, pound and yen; in addition, the New York Board of Trade index hit its weakest level since it came out in 1973, and the same is true for the Fed's trade-weighted dollar index since its creation in 1971; what's ahead? Likely more of the same until everyone believes the dollar is dead; then, watch out;

-- a decade-long trade deficit hasn't caused apocalypse;

-- strong economic underpinnings (Grantham's giant suspension bridge) offset excess speculation, and workers, not capital, take the pain;

-- high energy profits overseas are recycled back into dollar-based investments and have been for years although countries like Iran, Venezuela and others are moving away from the dollar at least for now;

-- the potential of new technologies is underestimated;

-- corporate profits have had their longest ever run of double-digit gains; the number of millionaires and billionaires is growing; the rich are becoming super-rich; and the beneficiaries are largely in North America, Western Europe (plus Russia) and Asia.

Petras concludes that as long as worker exploitation continues, the fundamental law of "casino capitalism" applies - the house never loses, or in this case the neighborhood (of developed nations) with some in it doing better than others and the US their anchor. The weakness of US labor and its history of overpaid, underperforming, corrupted leaders explains why with only 7.4% today in the private sector organized compared to 34.7% in the 1950s. Unless new social and political movements surface under activist leaders, Marx's "dirty secret" and Adam Smith's "vile maxim of the masters of mankind" will continue proving "the wealth of all nations" depends on the rich taking it "all for ourselves and (leaving) nothing for" the working class.

Market Liberalization and Forced Emigration

Migration and so-called illegal immigrants make headlines but never the reasons why that are two-fold: fleeing political strife (as in Iraq) or for economic reasons that the imperial globalized market system causes horrifically. The latter forces millions of Mexicans el norte because of NAFTA. Its disastrous effects on their lives leaves them no choice - emigrate or perish.

Petras explains when protective trade barriers come down, millions of small farmers and entrepreneurs are no match for the power of subsidized agribusiness, big manufacturers and corporate service providers. They're displaced when their livelihoods are lost, and that creates a huge surplus army of labor on the move and an opportunity for business to exploit for profit. It affects all skill types and levels (farm workers to computer specialists to doctors), undermines unions, and allows management to replace higher-paid US workers with low-wage immigrants at their mercy and getting little. Pay is kept low, benefits few or none, working conditions unsafe, unions weakened, and dare complain and be sent home.

Petras notes that as imperial power grows, "the massive movement of dislocated workers toward the imperial center multiplies," and there's no end in sight nor will there be as long as highly exploitative sectors like agriculture, construction and low-end manufacturing and services thrive on it. Workers lose and so do "sender" countries. They bore the costs of raising, educating, training and providing services for millions with "receiver" nations getting the benefits. It amounts to multi-billions in the form of critically needed skilled areas lost that include professionals like doctors, nurses, teachers and others. This won't ever change unless worker movements unite against it.

Empire-Building and Corruption

Petras notes how empire-building "is the driving force of the US economy (especially post-9/11)," corruption a key corporate predator tool to re-divide the world, and nations with the greatest firepower get the choicest slices. Business profit growth depends on exploiting overseas opportunities for their resources, markets and cheap reserve armies of labor with four so-called "BRIC" countries especially targeted:

-- China for its cheap labor and opportunities in finance, insurance and real estate;

-- India for its low cost information technology services;

-- Brazil for its high interest rates that hit 19.5%, were then greatly cut, but are still around 11%; and

-- Russia for its high profit oil and gas reserves, transport and luxury goods markets with booming opportunities in real estate once political leaders are bought off in a country rife with corruption as is China.

Petras notes that today over half the top 500 transnational corporations earn most of their profits overseas, and for many it's 75% of it. This trend will continue, he says, as these companies shift most of their operations abroad for greater cost savings. In addition, "political corruption, not economic efficiency, is the driving force of economic empire-building (with) the scale and scope of Western pillage of the East....unprecedented in recent world history." It's from business-friendly legislation on low wages, pensions, job tenure, land use, worker safety and health, all designed for maximum profit. Political leaders are bought off to get state-owned businesses privatized, markets deregulated, wages kept low, with a huge reserve army of exploitable labor the payoff for "the US Imperial System."

Hierarchy of Empire and Use of Force

Petras explains the US imperial system in terms of its "hierarchy of empire" rankings. Imperial powers top it (the US, EU and Japan) followed by emerging powers (China, Russia, India), semi-autonomous client regimes (Brazil, South Korea, South Africa), and collaborator regimes on the bottom (Egypt, Mexico, Colombia). Then come independent "revolutionary" (social democratic) states like Venezuela and nationalist ones like Iran as well as "contested terrain and regimes in transition (Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Palestine)." Client regimes provide "a crucial link in sustaining imperial powers" by allowing them to project and extend their state and market reach.

One "anomaly" in the hierarchy is Israel. It's a colonialist and nuclear power and world's fourth largest military power and arms exporter that's breathtaking for a country of 7.1 million and 5.4 million Jews. It's influence over US Middle East policy, however, inordinately outweighs its size with Iraq exhibit A and Iran moving up fast. More on this below.

Petras notes the constant flux within the imperial system the result of wars, national struggles and economic crises. They bring down regimes and elevate others with examples like Russia, the Eastern European states, South Africa and Venezuela. It shows "no singular omnipotent imperial state....unilaterally defines the international or....imperial system (that in the case of the US) proved incapable of....defeating popular....resistance in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Even in Somalia, a US proxy war is in trouble, but it's too early to predict the outcome. The easy 2006 overthrow of the popular Islamic Courts Union (ICU) put an unsupported warlord regime in charge (that plundered the country from 1991 - 2005) with predictable results - strong resistance against the US puppet regime and its deeply corrupted Transitional Federal Government (TFG) "president," Abdullahi Yusuf.

Washington backed a hated regime and an equally detested Ethiopian government that's been "prop(ping) up its Somali puppet" with a lift from US-supported force. Earlier in 1993-94, the Clinton administration's intervention failed. It spawned mass opposition, took thousands of Somali lives in retaliation, and ended in defeat and a humiliating US pullout. That may repeat despite Washington's establishing an African Command (AFRICOM) to solidify its hold on the continent and its strategically important Horn. So far, it's very much up for grabs with US presence in the region unwelcome and greatly destabilizing. The "empire" never learns, so it's on to the next target that looks like Iran. More on that below.

Imperialism and Genocide

Petras explains how Korea, Vietnam and other wars hid their true cost in lives, devastation and human wreckage. It's the way of all empires sweeping over populations like crabgrass. It becomes "an accelerating predisposition to genocides to accomplish political aims," and in an age of "shock and awe," it can come with "awesome" speed. An example is from the latest O.R.B. British polling data reporting 1.2 million Iraqi deaths since March, 2003 alone plus another 1.5 million up to that date. The true toll may be even higher with huge uncounted numbers of daily violent and non-violent deaths that one estimate by Gideon Polya places at 3.9 million from 1990 to the present. No one knows for sure, and his estimate may be as good as any other. All of them are horrific.

Petras notes the "quantity" of killings elsewhere - six million Jews and 20 million Soviet civilians in WW II as well as 10 million Chinese civilians in Asia. He explains genocide as policy from a "state (promoted) racialist-exterminationist ideology (as well as from) an historical antipathy of one culture to another." This allows ruling classes to legitimize their ideology and achieve "uncontested dominance" and ability to economically exploit domestic and overseas markets. An omelet requires breaking eggs. Mass human slaughter is the frequent fallout from consolidating empires with living beings having no more worth than egg shells.

Genocides also result from revolutionary challenges to unpopular puppet rulers with Korea, Indo-China and Iraq Exhibits A, B, and C. Up to eight million perished in Asia, and three (or maybe four) million could be reached in Iraq in 2008 at the present pace. There's no end to it in sight with billions funding it, and no reporting on the carnage in the mainstream.

Petras reviews examples of imperialism becoming genocide with the Reagan administration alone responsible for its share. It committed multiple proxy genocides in Africa, Afghanistan and Central America, but you'd never know it from reports at the time about a president being prepped for Mount Rushmore with a spot for George Bush beside him until Iraq got him in trouble.

Another unreported genocide is Israel's six decade-long crusade against the Palestinians with predicable results. It caused many thousands of deaths, mass population displacement, and excessive use of detentions and torture to deny a people freedom and justice in their own land. The policy continues because Israel has a powerful ally in Washington and an even more influential Lobby working on its behalf. More on that below.

Petras notes genocides are "repeated, common practices," impunity for committing them the norm, and no effective international order is in place to stop them. Victors justice prevails so victims face kangaroo tribunals like the ICTY for Yugoslavia and the equally corrupted one for Iraq. Genocides will only end when imperial powers are defeated and their leaders held to account for their crimes, but that goal is nowhere in sight.

The Global Billionaire Ruling Class

The number of world billionaires reached 946 in March, 2007, they have an estimated combined wealth of $3.5 trillion, and over half of them are in three countries - 415 in the US, 55 in Germany and 53 in Russia where never did so many people lose more so a handful of others could gain so hugely in so short a time. India ranks high as well with 36 billionaires with China next in the region at 20. The number of millionaires exploded as well with close to 10 million in 2007, and in 2006 their numbers grew by an estimated 8.3%.

Balzac was right saying behind every great fortune is a crime (and most often a small fortune as seed money) but likely nowhere more rapaciously than in Russia. Petras notes "Without exception, the transfers of (state) property were achieved through gangster tactics - assassinations, massive theft, and seizure of state resources, illicit stock manipulation and buyouts." They strip mined over a trillion dollars of Russia's wealth into private predatory hands who, in turn, stuffed them in offshore accounts. It happens everywhere with the US exhibit A. The Rockefellers, Morgans, Fords and Carnegie's didn't amass wealth by being neighborly or nice. They got it the old-fashioned way - by strong-arming and stealing.

In developing countries, it came faster under Washington Consensus rules favoring capital over people with billionaires coming out on top. Latin America has 38 of them, mostly in Brazil (with 30) and Mexico (with industrialist Carlos Slim Helu now the world's third richest man). These "two countries.... privatized the most lucrative, efficient and largest public monopolies," and benefitted hugely from regressive taxes, tax exemptions, deregulation, big subsidies, and the ability to hike prices and make vital services unaffordable to millions who can't pay for them.

"How to become a billionaire," Petras asked. No need for an MBA or market savvy when the "interface of politics (aka friends in high places) and economics" works much better. The road to super-riches came from privatized state assets that began with bloody military coups in Latin America. In countries like Chile, Colombia and Argentina, results were always the same - great riches at the top, stagnant economies, vast poverty, high unemployment, two-thirds of the region's population with "inadequate living standards," and the long shadow of US involvement backing military dictators, business elites, and neoliberal politicians to assure lucrative ties to corporate interests in America. More on this below.

Part II - The Power of Israel and Its Lobby in the US

Petras covered how the Israeli Lobby defeated the Jim Baker Iraq Study Group's (ISG) proposal released December 6, 2006. Its alternative US Middle East agenda lost out to the Israeli Lobby's influence on Congress, a massive supportive propaganda campaign in the major media, and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert being as able to "have the US president under our control" as Ariel Sharon once boasted.

For a time it looked like the ISG plan would prevail with top Bush advisors recommending dialogue with Iran; high-ranking military, active and retired, wanting a phased withdrawal for a failed effort; and the Army, Navy and Marine Corps weekly publications wanting Defense Secretary Rumsfeld sacked shortly before he resigned. Even Big Oil interests backed Baker because stable conditions favor business more than conflict (at least to pump oil), and that won't happen without a change of course now off the table.

Iran wants rapprochement as well but not on the usual US terms - making demands and offering nothing in return. Iran's objectives are simple and reasonable - normalized relations and an end to Washington's confrontational stance and military threats. They're off the table because the "Israel-First power structure (Lobby-Congress-Mass Media-Democratic Party Donors)" reject them. Syria is just as compliant, but its overtures are also rebuffed for the same reason.

Petras explained that AIPAC wants war with Iran as its top priority objective. In addition, the publications, conferences and press releases of the Conference of Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations (CPMAJO) asked their members "to go all-out to fund and back candidates (mostly Democrats) who supported Israel's military solution to Iran's nuclear enrichment program" even though IAEA agrees it's in total compliance with Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty rules while Israel violates them with impunity.

In the end, Prime Minister Olmert co-opted George Bush, got him to reject the ISG proposal and ally with Israel's aim to solidify its Middle East dominance by removing a non-existent Iranian threat with Syria also targeted. In many respects, this flies in the face of logic as many influential US figures know. Petras believes Iran is a key interlocutor for a Middle East settlement that might let Washington retain its strategic Arab allies. Tehran is willing to cooperate but not when its government is lumped with Al-Queda, the Taliban and Iraqi resistance and is being threatened with war. That's the current condition with renewed Bush administration efforts to prep the public to accept more of it if it comes.

Hamas also has been conciliatory. Its leaders made two peace proposals as a show of good faith, is willing to recognize Israel if Palestinians get justice, pledged a cease-fire in the face of Israeli attacks, and was rebuffed with rejection and an Israeli blockade of Gaza along with frequent hostile incursions. Conflicts rage in Iraq and occupied Palestine, more war threatens in Iran, and the road to peace in the region runs through Jerusalem providing Washington concurs. But it's not possible, in Petras' judgment, unless foreign military bases are closed, there's public control or nationalization of the region's resources, and Israel ends its colonial occupation of Palestine. So far, those objectives are nowhere in sight.

The Lobby and Media on Lebanon

In Petras' powerful 2006 book, "The Power of Israel in the United States," he documented how this power derives from a vast pro-Israel Lobby in the country supporting all aspects of its agenda. It's position is firm - "Israel is always right, Arabs and Muslims are a threat to peace," and the US should unconditionally support Israel across the board. In Petras' view, that's the main reason why the Bush administration attacked Iraq and may now target Iran and Syria. Israel perceives these countries as threats, Washington seems willing to remove them, and a chorus of media-driven propaganda approves.

They always support Israel and jumped right in last summer backing "Operation Change of Direction" against Hezbollah and "Operation Summer Rain" against Hamas that caused many hundreds of deaths and mass destruction. It was all papered over in the major media and characterized as Israel's "defensive, existential war for survival against Islamic terrorists." It was pure baloney. In fact, and unreported, Israel launched dual long-planned aggressive wars with Hezbollah's capture of three IDF soldiers in Lebanon the pretext and Hamas taking one Israeli corporal the justification in occupied Palestine. Never mentioned are the many thousands of Palestinians illegally abducted, imprisoned and tortured, and that unprovoked aggressive wars and their fallout are war crimes and crimes against humanity.

Also unmentioned is that if Hezbollah and Hamas hadn't provided the pretexts, Israel (as it's often done) would have manufactured them to launch its summer aggression. With full US support and backing from its Lobby and dominant media, these type actions continue at the expense of their victims with US taxpayers duped into funding them generously.

US Empire and the Middle East

Petras notes key factors help explain US Middle East policy that in his judgment are "challenged from within and without, are subject to sharp contradictions," and are likely to fail.

First, is the influence of the Israeli Lobby he documented powerfully as have Mearsheimer and Walt in their work. It's likely the most potent lobby in Washington and can practically mobilize the entire Congress, every administration and the dominant media to back pro-Israeli policies even when they run counter to US corporate interests that in Middle East means those of Big Oil primarily.

The Lobby wanted war with Iraq and got it. Now its top priority is stiff sanctions and war on Iran, and if the orchestrated media hate frenzy targeting President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's Columbia University address September 24 is an indication, it may get it. As Petras notes, the Lobby's fanatical support for Israel is so extreme and uncompromising, it's even willing to risk world war and economic collapse to get its way.

Another key factor is the US ability to enlist and co-op client states and proxy forces to serve our interests - the Kurds in Northern Iraq; the Abbas-Dahlan Fatah militants in Palestine; the Sinoria-Hariri-Jumblat pro-US/Israel, anti-Syria/Hezbollah/Hamas alliance in Lebanon; Mubarak in Egypt; King Hussein in Jordan; pro-US regimes in Turkey; the Saudis and others.

Petras then explains how the Israeli Lobby's influence runs counter to the US "Arab agenda." It shows up in Washington's failure to construct a NATO-style power-sharing alliance in the region, except for Turkey and Israel, and the former may not prove solid. The Iraq policy has been disastrous, each tactic tried failed, resistance is unabated, the Arab street overwhelmingly rejects occupation, and Arab leaders offer tepid support.

Petras calls Washington's permanent war strategy (next targeting Iran and Syria) "an irrational gamble comparable to Hitler's attack on Russia" that doomed him. Today in the Middle East, attacking these two countries may only compound the Iraq failure with "greater defeats, greater domestic rebellion" and still more wars without end promising gloomy prospects ahead.

Part III - The Possibility of Resistance

Petras discusses China and the "general consensus (it's) emerging as the next economic superpower" to challenge US dominance. Petras expresses doubts that can only be summarized briefly. He notes Chinese capitalism not only depends on growth and the ability to generate jobs, but also on "the social relations of production, circulation and reproduction." They come at a high price - ferocious labor exploitation, rampant corruption and nepotism, mass small farmer displacement, firing millions of workers from state-owned and bankrupt enterprises, ending social services, and higher living costs increasing class warfare in the streets against billionaire kleptocrats and foreign investors profiting hugely at the expense of most Chinese.

Petras then distinguishes between "made in China" and Chinese-owned and whether the former enhances China's growth or foreign investor profits instead. He sees China taking on "features of both a neo-colony and an emerging imperial power," but mostly the former. He notes the standard of living for most Chinese "declined precipitously;" air, water and ground pollution greatly increased; the quality of life for most Chinese suffers; class inequalities are vast; and gains from a consumerist society for a minority of the population are offset by dirty air, loss of leisure, job security, near rent-free housing, state-provided health care and education, deteriorated working conditions and more. Paradise it's not, at least for workers, and conditions aren't improving.

Petras then discusses China's transition from state to "liberal" capitalism. As it deepened, trade barriers were dismantled; protective labor laws abolished; price controls lifted; the countryside ravaged; a massive new army of unemployed workers created; and an export-driven market strategy followed. The result today is a new class of billionaires and about 2900 former party "princelings" who control around $260 billion of wealth. In addition, property, real estate and construction boomed, an export strategy concentrated development on coastal regions, and domestic consumption is relatively constrained.

In contrast, "millions of construction workers, miners, domestic servants and assembly-line workers (labor) under the most abominable conditions" - long hours, low pay, awful sanitary conditions and little regard for safety in an unregulated environment structured for maximum profit. China today is a "magnet for capitalists and investors worldwide," a free market paradise that's hell on workers paying hugely for the country's marketplace "success."

Petras envisions China's capitalism deepening and mainly benefitting foreign investors. He sees their "initial beachheads as minority shareholders" extending into production, distribution, transport, real estate,
telecommunications, consumer goods and services, entertainment, finance and more and eventually gaining more control. As a result, he believes China's next great leap forward will be from liberalism to neoliberalism, the country will lose its national identity, it will become a "territorial outpost" for foreign-owned transnationals, and the country's bid for world power status will be subverted.

Petras sees 21st century China emerging as a "gigantic proxy for imperial powers," but China won't be one of them. Its "Great Leap Backwards" will be consummated when the nation's "share of profits shifts from the national bourgeoisie" to foreign investors in a process now accelerating.

But it won't come easily as a new generation of China's leaders may stop or curtail it. In addition, growing mass resistance has now emerged for obvious reasons cited above. Already, close to 100,000 mass demonstrations have occurred involving millions of Chinese protesting a workers' hell. Social crisis is deepening, class struggle has returned, and the government has taken note. It's beginning to address concerns but giving back pathetically little considering China's massive population. Petras calls these remediating actions "too little and too late." Ahead he sees decentralized protests becoming organized urban worker movements that when joined with displaced farmers may set off a new rebellious period. This may then blossom into "a new revolutionary struggle" that will determine China's future and its climate for investors.

The US and Latin America

Petras has studied Latin America for decades and knows the region as well as anyone. Here he dispels notions of a revitalized regional populism with US dominance waning. His case is compelling as he argues Washington's influence has increased in recent years (though not to the level of the 1990s) despite the success of Hugo Chavez and his ability to thwart US efforts to unseat him.

The Bush administration lost out on FTAA but has had other successes:

-- bilateral trade agreements with numerous Latin American states from the Caribbean to Chile;

-- an expanded number of military bases despite the possible loss of one in Ecuador ahead;

-- US business interests in the region flourishing, including in Venezuela where they're booming; and

-- neoliberal free market policies intact despite campaign rhetoric promising change.

Aside from Venezuela and maybe Ecuador (where it's too soon to tell), the left's appraisal of progressive change is nowhere in sight, so what are they seeing that's not there.

Petras assesses the current state of things in the region after reviewing its recent history readers can get from the book. He notes signs of Washington's declining influence that's had no adverse affect on corporate interests except in Venezuela where taxes are now fair compared to earlier when they were too low. He also explains so-called center-left regimes in Brazil, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and elsewhere tamed mass social movement demands while embracing 1990s neoliberalism. In Brazil, if fact, President Lula da Silva actually deepened and extended the privatization and restrictive budget policies of the preceding Cardoso regime, and despite his Workers Party background, demobilized mass movements and trade unions instead of supporting them as people expected. Many now see him for what he is - a traitor, but sadly, he's got company, too much of it.

Of great significance is the way Petras explains four competing regional power blocs representing varying degrees of accommodation or opposition to US policies and interests.

1. The Radical Left

It includes:

-- the FARC guerillas in Colombia (active since 1964); some trade union sectors; and peasant and barrio movements in Venezuela;

-- the labor confederation CONLUTAS and sectors of Brazil's Rural Landless Movement (MST);

-- sectors of the Bolivian Labor Confederation (COB) and the Andean peasant movements and barrio organizations in El Alto;

-- peasant movement sectors (CONAIE) in Ecuador;

-- teachers and peasant-indigenous movements in Oaxaca, Guerrero and Chiapas, Mexico;

-- nationalist-peasant-left sectors in Peru;

-- trade unionist and unemployed sectors in Argentina; and

-- other Central and South American social movements and some Marxist groups in several countries.

2. The Pragmatic Left

-- Hugo Chavez in Venezuela who combines grassroots participatory democracy and redistributive social policies with support for business interests;

-- Evo Morales in Bolivia;

-- Fidel Castro in Cuba;

-- various large electoral parties and major peasant and trade unions in the region; leftist parties including the PRD in Mexico, FMLN in El Salvador, CUT in Colombia, Chilean Communist Party, Peru's nationalist parliamentary party, sectors of Brazil's MST, Bolivia's MAS governing party, CTA in Argentina, and PIT-CNT in Uruguay.

3. The Pragmatic Neoliberals (the most numerous political block)

-- Lula in Brazil;

-- Kirchner in Argentina;

-- the major trade union confederations in Brazil and Argentina;

-- business and financial elite sectors providing subsistence unemployment doles and food aid; and

-- similar groups in Ecuador, Nicaragua (the Sandinistas and their split-offs), Paraguay and other countries.

4. The Doctrinaire Neoliberal Regimes

-- Calderon in Mexico;

-- Uribe in Colombia;

-- Bachelet in Chile (in spite of her being imprisoned and tortured under Pinochet);

-- the Central American countries: El Salvador, Honduras, Costa Rica and Guatemala;

-- Garcia in Peru;

-- Paraguay with the region's largest military base;

-- Uruguay's ex-leftist regime now rightist;

-- US-occupied Haiti through proxy thuggish paramilitary UN peacekeepers; and

-- the Dominican Republic.

The notion that populism swept Latin America in the new century is pure fantasy. In fact, there's a "quadrangle of competing and conflicting" regional forces with Washington having less market leverage than in the 1990s "Golden Age of Pillage" but still enough to be dominant and able to keep business flourishing.

Petras continues his analysis with detailed examples of key center-left regimes in Brazil under Lula, Argentina under Kirchner, Uruguay under Vazquez, Bolivia under Morales plus some comments on Peru and Ecuador under leaders preceding their current ones. Each case substantiates the fantasy that these regimes represented "new winds from the Left" sweeping the region. Hot air maybe, but little, if anything, in the way of progressive change despite the beliefs of many intellectuals on the left.

However, that's not to say leftist forces aren't strong enough to bubble up and bring change. Insurrectionary forces brought Evo Morales to power in Bolivia and can take him down if he fails them as he's now doing. The same is true in other countries with Hugo Chavez their model. He challenged US imperialism, brought real social change, has mass public support and thus far withstood US efforts to oust him. In Cuba, Fidel Castro thwarted every Washington effort against him since 1959 and is still in charge, larger than life, although frail and weak following his protracted illness from which he's still recovering. Petras sees a new generation of young committed leaders emerging in the region. "They are the 'Left Winds' of Latin America," and it's in them that hope lies.

Foreign Investment (FI) in Latin America

Petras demystifies FI's impact, explains the risks in attracting it, and exposes six myths about its benefits.

Myth 1.

It's untrue FI creates new enterprises, market opportunities and more. Most, in fact, aims to buy privatized and other enterprises while crowding out local capital and public initiative.

Myth 2.

FI doesn't increase export competitiveness. It buys mineral resources for export with little done to create jobs or stimulate the local economy.

Myth 3.

It's false to think FI provides tax revenue and hard currency. An FI export model creates more indebtedness and a net loss.

Myth 4.

It's false believing debt repayments to international lenders is key to a good financial standing. Much foreign debt is odious and repaying it harms borrower countries.

Myth 5.

It's false believing FI provides developing countries needed capital. It's used instead to buy local companies and control a country's markets.

Myth 6.

It's false believing FI attracts further investment. Capital freely moves to wherever it gets the best returns and is anchored nowhere.

Developing countries benefit most by relying less on FI and more on national ownership and investment. The former is predatory. The latter accrues profits to the national treasury and grows the country's economy. FI demands conditions favoring capital over labor that results in a widening economic gap and greater inequalities in political and social power. The 20 year (1980 - 2000) record of Latin American FI is socially disastrous. Living standards plunged while unemployment and poverty soared. Hardly reasons to attract it and clear ones to stay away or restrict it.

Part IV - An Agenda for Militants

Petras considers FI economic alternatives and ways to buck its strategic countermeasures. FI generally threatens disinvestment when a country wants to enhance its own economy and benefit popular living standards. Hardball tactics cut both ways, and the state can use its own effectively to counter capital flight threats as well as adopt policies in advance serving its needs first ahead of those FI wants to have things its own way.

Petras notes that FI "is incompatible with any notion of an independent, socially progressive country" even though at times it can be useful in a regulated environment controlling it. He explains a country's own financial and economic resources can be used instead of FI to enhance its internal development and technological advance by reinvesting profits from export industries; controlling foreign trade to increase retention of foreign exchange; investing pension funds productively; imposing a moratorium on debt payments; recovering stolen public treasury funds and unpaid taxes; maximizing under-employed labor, and more.

Most countries can avoid FI by relying on multiple sources of its own capital. They can also employ alternative effective strategies when outside help is needed by minimizing its ownership, employing short-term contracts on favorable terms, imposing stiff penalties on capital flight, and barring it from returning if it leaves. Petras concludes: "The historical and empirical evidence demonstrates that the political, economic and social drawbacks of (FI) far exceed any short-term benefits perceived by its defenders."

The Middle Class and Social Movements in Latin America

Petras observes that middle class attitudes in the region depend on the "political-economic context" confronting it. It's attracted to the right under expanding right-wing regimes and to the left in times of economic crisis. On the other hand, under a "popular, anti-dictatorial, anti-imperialist populist government, the middle class supports democratic reforms" but not radical policies harming it for the benefit of the working class. Three examples make his case - in Brazil under Lula when it took over his Workers Party; in Argentina when it benefitted under Menem and Cardoso and later under Kirchner; and in Bolivia under Morales who combines "political demagogy" to his base and neoliberal IMF austerity in his policies attractive to middle class and business interests.

Petras notes social movements failed by not developing political leadership or a program for state power and depended instead on "electoral politicians of the upwardly mobile professional middle class." The Left's key challenge, he believes, is to "convert the public sector middle class from anti-neoliberalism to anti-capitalism and anti-imperialism, and to combine urban welfare (with) agrarian reform."

Iraq and Afghanistan's Importance in Defeating the Empire

Petras concludes by noting Washington's imperial wars were stopped in their tracks in Iraq and Afghanistan by resistance too powerful to contain. A "shock and awe" blitzkrieg failed when Iraqis wanted a say in running, rebuilding and transforming their country and rejected its US-installed puppet regime. The country is a wasteland, the nation creation project bankrupt, and the prospect for success bad and worsening with multi-billions expended and nothing gained except huge profits for administration favored contractors that always benefit whoever wins or loses.

The same situation holds in Afghanistan. An easy five week walkover turned into an endless debacle with no end in sight. Washington planned successive wars for unchallengeable world dominance, but local resistance in two countries stopped it cold (so far), may defeat its proxies in Somalia, and resilient opposition in Palestine and South Lebanon may prove equally formidable as well.

The US is now over-extended and its "imperial grand strategy" weakened. It's made preemptive wars against Iran and Syria and trying again to topple Hugo Chavez less likely, but none of these possibilities are off the table. Cornered and facing defeat, rhetoric is heated making anything possible, and the September 20 Lieberman-Kyl "Sense of the Senate" (no legal force) resolution/amendment to the FY 2008 Defense Authorization bill ratchets up the possibility of attacking Iran and its regional "proxies" with potentially catastrophic fallout the risk.

For now, emboldened resistance and strong anti-war opposition are matched against an administration desperate to turn things around and willing to try anything to do it. How this may end is a crapshoot, the stakes on its outcome too great to risk but may be waged anyway, and the world trembles as it waits and watches. Stay tuned and hope Petras is right believing Iraq and Afghanistan thwarted the empire and prevented further aggression against Iran and beyond, now off the table. Or maybe not. When wounded and cornered, desperate animals and politicians may try anything with nothing to lose. Keep a close watch.