Sunday, July 30, 2006
Eric Clapton Concert Permit Revoked By Russian Government Officials
Clapton sent packing
Cold War Heating Up Again? It appears to be. This action, combined with other events, paints a clear picture. (Unless Russian Authorities can put forth a logical excuse. So far, they have refused to comment).
Even during the so-called "Cold War", Western musicians were often allowed to play in Russia, which makes this even more strange. U.S. and British policies, particularly the policies of the neo-con fruitcakes in Washington D.C., have finally begun to take a toll and are now affecting innocent, ordinary activities such as concerts. This likely has a lot to do with a number of things, such as:
1. The U.S. relationship with Georgia (Former Soviet State, now a Russian rival allied with the U.S.). The U.S. has been meddling in the political affairs of Georgia, which is currently in conflict with Russia. If that's not crazy enough, the U.S. has been pushing very hard to bring countries such as Georgia and Ukraine into the NATO Organization.... the main Western Defense Treaty organization. Why anyone in their right mind would want these unstable countries in the NATO alliance is a mystery to me. It will only increase (greatly) the possibility of a conflict between Russia and the West (which is what the neocon Republicans want). Russia is in constant conflict with these two countries....sometimes including armed skirmishes. This is well known, so why would anyone want these countries included in NATO? The neocons and pro-war Democrats (it's a bi-partisan effort) in the U.S. are behind this process and have been for many years now. It is their dream to not only revive the Cold War....but to greatly increase tensions beyond anything we have seen before.
2. The U.S. relationship with (and role within) Ukraine, where the U.S. has been meddling with the political process.
3. The U.S. & British position in the Middle East conflict.... with their blind & unconditional support for Israel.
4. U.S. double standards on a number of issues.
5. The WTO (World Trade Organization) talks between the U.S. and Russia during the G-8 Summit. Russia wants entry into the organization. However, the negotiations ended without an agreement. The U.S. has been blocking Russia's entry into the WTO. It appears to be part of a U.S. effort to slow Russia's growth and humiliate the country.
6. The U.S. attempt to expand NATO closer to more Russian territory, taking over more former Soviet States (countries that were once controlled by Russia), all in an effort to intimidate and humiliate Russia.
7. Disagreement with the U.S. and Britain over the Iraq war.
8. Failure of the U.S. to allow condemnation of Israel in the UN Security Council, for the deaths of the UN officials in Lebanon, after Israeli warplanes attacked a well known UN compound there.
9. Efforts by pro-war neo Conservatives in the Bush administration to revive the Cold War. Many pro-war Republicans (and several Democrats) wish to turn back the clock to the Cold War era. They want to revive that era in hopes of bringing the two countries to some sort of political or military confrontation. Russia is well aware of this.
10. The U.S. position with Iran and North Korea, which does not encourage true diplomacy.
11. The U.S. position on Belarus, another sister country very close to Russia. The U.S. has been meddling in the affairs there and in several other countries that were once controlled by Russia.
**Russia is likely responding to these issues (among a long list of other problems).
Article on Clapton Situation Below
Clapton's Red Square concert quashed
Last Updated Sat, 29 Jul 2006 15:14:03 EDT
British musician Eric Clapton has had to call off his concert in Moscow suddenly because Russian authorities have cancelled his permit.
Clapton, famous for songs such as Layla, Wonderful Tonight and Tears in Heaven, announced he would not be playing in Red Square on Aug. 3 after officials withdrew permission on Friday.
"Eric Clapton is extremely sorry to disappoint his numerous Russian fans but the circumstances of the cancellation are completely beyond his control," said Clapton's spokesperson, Kristen Foster, in a statement.
The box office in Moscow suspended sales of tickets, costing as much as $370 US, on Saturday.
The singer was scheduled to perform in front of 20,000 people and the event would have capped off his European tour. Instead, it will finish Monday in Helsinki.
Russian government officials have refused to comment on the matter and have yet to indicate why they rescinded their consent.
The 61-year-old guitarist will tour the U.S. and Canada with blues musician Robert Cray later this year.
Clapton was once a member of the 1960s rock group the Yardbirds and later formed Cream, whose hit singles include Sunshine of Your Love, White Room and Crossroads.
He charted a course for a solo career during the 1970s and has since put out many top-selling albums. Rolling Stone magazine ranked him the second-greatest living guitarist of all time, behind B.B. King.
Friday, July 28, 2006
With the use of "Signing Statements", Bush has been allowed to shift the delicate balance of power in favor of the Executive branch... deciding which laws are illegitimate and which laws will be followed by his administration. These moves appear to be well calculated and designed to get around the judgements and requirements of the Judicial Branch and to weaken the oversight powers of the U.S. Congress.
The issue has motivated legal professionals to come forward and speak out against this policy. Listen below to a radio discussion where the President of the American Bar Association speaks out against this practice... THE PRESIDENT OF THE AMERICAN BAR ASSOCIATION is sounding the alarm on this. This is somewhat unusual, since the leadership of such an organization would usually write a column, or find a more subtle way of sharing their views....(they usually don't weigh in at all on such matters) which indicates the seriousness of this situation.
Listen to Discussion Here.
Article From the Kansas City Star
WASHINGTON - A Republican who has led the fight against President Bush’s signing statements said Monday that he would soon have a bill ready allowing Congress to sue the president.
“We will submit legislation to the United States Senate which will … authorize the Congress to undertake judicial review of those signing statements with the view to having the president’s acts declared unconstitutional,” Judiciary Committee Chairman Arlen Specter, a Pennsylvania Republican, said on the Senate floor.
Specter’s announcement came the same day that an American Bar Association task force concluded that by attaching conditions to legislation, the president has sidestepped his constitutional duty to sign a bill, veto it or take no action.
Bush has issued at least 750 signing statements during his presidency, reserving the right to revise, interpret or disregard laws on national security and constitutional grounds.
Additional Reports from NPR.
More On Sen. Arlen Spectors efforts to challenge Bush on this issue.
Why the Bar Association would rather see Bush use vetoes, rather than Signing Statements weakening laws.
NPR Interview and Discussion from 2003
Story From CNN
Memorial Foundation for Victims
Visit the "Without Sanctuary" website for more resources on the history of lynching in the U.S. Contains Graphic Images. But Americans should be required to see them and learn about the real history of the country.
U.S. support for Israeli military action in the Middle East has the opposite effect from what they wanted. Ordinary Lebanese siding with Hezbollah.
Amy Goodman has the story. Watch/Listen here.
The African American Pundit also covering crisis in Lebanon.
OP-Ed By Mia Farrow
Fatima was just minutes old and already the flies had found her. She and her young mother lay on a cot in a small bare room without a window or door. The floor was unpaved but swept clean. It is one of two rooms in this tiny clinic where there is no operating room, few instruments and no medicine. "They would be stolen," explained the doctor.
Fatima entered this world on June 12 in Zam Zam refugee camp in Sudan's North Darfur region, where there is one doctor for 40,000 people.
Since 2003, almost 90 percent of the villages of Darfur have been bombed and burned by the Sudanese government and its proxy Arab militia, the janjaweed. More than 200,000 people have been killed. Terrified survivors of unimaginable atrocities walk across the parched terrain in search of safety, food and water. Today, 2 million human beings live amid deplorable conditions in swollen refugee camps across Darfur. Overwhelmingly, they are women and children. A majority of men and boys have been killed. Those who survive have taken up arms with rebel groups.
The refugees shelter under plastic sheets supplied by aid workers. Food rations have been cut to less than what is required to sustain human life. Clean water is insufficient. Meanwhile, a cholera outbreak is spreading, with the potential to claim tens of thousands of lives. Worst of all, there is no safety: The janjaweed are always nearby, and the camps are attacked relentlessly.
Women and girls are raped and children abducted. The women's stories are shockingly similar. In quiet voices they speak of their losses--of beloved sons, husbands, brothers and fathers tortured, mutilated, murdered. They recount their rapes and show the brands carved into their skin. They reveal tendons sliced and how they hobble now.
Halima, whose baby was pulled from her back, told me how she fought, how she did her utmost to hold on to her child. But he was torn out of her arms and killed before her eyes with a bayonet. Three of her five children were slaughtered that day, and her husband too. "Janjaweed," she said, "they cut them and threw them into the well." Halima clasped my two hands, pleading: "Tell people what is happening here. Tell them we need help."
The much-heralded May 5 "Darfur peace agreement" had only accelerated the violence by mid-June when I reached Darfur. Just one of the three rebel factions, the one with the least popular support, signed the agreement. This, with its issues of compensation and representation, has triggered angry splits within the groups. From the mountains of Jebel Marra to the plains of Galap, the pitch was feverish in opposing rebel-held territories, especially among the heavily armed group against the signing. The situation cannot possibly hold. With insecurity escalating, aid workers struggling to keep almost 4 million people alive are themselves in danger. Last week, another four humanitarian workers were killed. If the aid agencies withdraw, the only infrastructure in place to sustain the millions of displaced people will collapse. People could begin to die by the hundreds of thousands. This could happen any moment.
The international community was relieved when in 2004 the African Union, with a force now numbering 7,000, entered Darfur to monitor what has been a non-existent cease-fire. "African solutions to African problems" became the mantra of the international community, but the world failed to support the AU in essential ways and so inevitably, the AU has failed in Darfur. Near bankruptcy, the union has withdrawn from four camps and ceased many protection patrols. More significant, they are lacking competent troops to do the job.
"We need to hand over the baton to the UN," AU Chairman Alpha Oumar Konar said last month. And that's the truth. Only a robust UN peacekeeping force can save Darfur.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's attempts to gain consent for such a mission from the government of Sudan, the perpetrators of this genocide, have been predictably refused. Appallingly, the UN and the world community have simply acquiesced, seemingly content to let genocide take its course.
For Halima, and all the courageous women of Darfur in this, their hour of terror and suffering, I am doing my best to "tell people what is happening" there. And for newborn Fatima, I can only hope with all my heart that if good people know what she is facing, they will respond.
Mia Farrow is an actor and UNICEF goodwill ambassador. She just returned from her second trip to the Darfur region of Sudan.
Tuesday, July 25, 2006
The pro-war nut states that we are in WWIII and should be prepared for attacks on more countries. Of course, like 95% of the other pro-war nuts running around (the same ones who got us into the mess in Iraq) Newt has no combat experience. Yet this nutball is considered to be some kind of expert on war.
Why in the hell are the major networks giving him (and people like him) airtime to spew their pro-war propaganda? I know that the U.S. has a media system controlled by Republicans and Zionists, but they should at least use spokesmen who know about the subject that they are talking about...in this case, "war".
By the way.... Newt gets destroyed in this discussion by Jack Beatty, who brought an alternative viewpoint.
Listen to Discussion
A Great Related Article from the Nation Magazine.
Gingrich Can't Wait For World War III
Nation: Neocons Are Nuts To Join Israel-Hezbollah Conflict
written by Katrina Vanden Heuvel
For them, Afghanistan and Iraq will not suffice. They want to take out Syria and Iran, and speed full steam ahead towards World Wars III and IV. The Weekly Standard asks simply, "Why wait?"
According to Newt Gingrich, there is no need to wait at all. On "Meet the Press" this past Sunday, he offered that the Israel-Hezbollah conflict "… is, in fact, World War III" and "the U.S. ought to be helping...."
And how might the U.S. help fight Newt's World War? The Weekly Standard provides the answer: "It would be easier to act sooner rather than later. Yes, there would be repercussions — and they would be healthy ones, showing a strong America that has rejected further appeasement."
George Will — not exactly your run-of-the-mill, card-carrying liberal — describes the neocons as "so untethered from reality as to defy caricature." But what has caused them to become so completely unhinged (even more so than before, if one can imagine that possibility)?
With the deteriorating occupation in Iraq and a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan, the neocons have been completely discredited. Meanwhile, the Bush administration is engaging in a "muddled multilateralism" — not quite pursuing diplomacy but not acting unilaterally at the whims of the Decider et al., either.
And this simply infuriates them. As Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) told The Washington Post, "I don't have a friend in … any part of the conservative foreign policy establishment who is not beside themselves with fury at the administration."
Well, perhaps The Weekly Standard staffers, editors, and allies at the likes of AEI will harness some of their "fury," put on flak jackets and (poorly) funded armor (is there enough to go around after Iraq?), and go fight their own failed war in defense of their own failed ideology. Meanwhile, the rest of us will remain here on this planet.
Meanwhile, the U.S. refuses to push for a ceasefire. As I mentioned in my earlier blog entries, the U.S. has been part of the Israeli plan from the beginning and is in fact encouraging the bloodshed.
The Latest on the Crisis in Lebanon and Israel from NPR.
The Moderate Voice is also covering ongoing crisis.
Amy Goodman Reports on the Continuing violence in Iraq
We go to Iraq to speak with Borzou Daragahi, Baghdad bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times. He discusses the increasing violence in Baghdad and the reaction among Iraqis about the Lebanon crisis.
Listen/Watch report here.
Like children in the U.S., children in Israel have been completely militarized.
African American Pundit covered this story. Read here.
Monday, July 24, 2006
Been without Internet service for the past several days due to crisis in St. Louis after major storms and massive blackout. This was the largest blackout in the regions history.... and one of the largest in the country... affecting about 600,000 homes and businesses at its peak. About 2 million people were impacted.
Will catch up on posting next week.
Listen to audio reports from NPR here and here.
Monday, July 17, 2006
Louis Farrakhan Makes It Plain In this 1980's Speech on the subject.
This was long before the events of Sept. 11th, 2001. However, the Middle East was, of course, still a hotspot. And the U.S. Government was even more active in World politics than it is today.
Now keep in mind, I don't support much of what Farrakhan has said or everything he stands for. I've been known to blast Farrakhan on what he says/does. However, on this topic, he made valid points.
Much of what is happening in the world today has been brought on by unbalanced and immoral U.S. foreign policy that has been in place for decades. Now the boomerang is making its way back to America.
Much of what was stated in this speech (20 years ago) applies very strongly to today.
Just change the date...and it's still accurate.
--On Iran- the U.S. is now feeling the pain of its own actions
--Allowing Israel to do whatever it wants...to bomb, kill, & attack who they want/when they want...with economic and military support from the U.S. translates into hatred for America. When will Americans learn?
--Famine in the 1980's and the lack of U.S. response= Darfur today (And other crisis in Africa) and the lack of U.S. response.
--How the U.S. views native people in this country and its poor population of color at home (Katrina, etc) translates to how the U.S. views indigenous people of color in other parts of the world.
This says a lot about why the U.S. is so hated and it explains a lot about U.S. policy towards Arabs, Latin Americans, etc.
Sunday, July 16, 2006
Q. Since last Wednesday, the Israeli Army has been imposing a siege on Lebanon and bombarding the country as a result of the abduction of two of its soldiers and the killing of seven others by a Lebanese Hezbollah commando unit. Israels reaction was predictable, even in its disproportion. What are the political and strategic reasons that can be seen behind this action by Hezbollah?
Achcar: The explanations that Hezbollah has given for its action are many. The first reason invoked is to try to obtain the release of prisoners; there are several Lebanese believed to be held in Israeli custody, although only two are officially detained by Israel (in addition to close to 10,000 Palestinian prisoners). As well as to act in solidarity with the struggle of Hamas in Palestine, which is animated by a similar inspiration to that of Hezbollah, and to react to the ongoing onslaught on Gaza. Of course, it was logical to expect this violent retaliation on Israels part, in light of what it did to Palestine in reaction to the abduction of another soldier.
In this crisis, there are many dimensions involved: international observers have discussed the possible role of Syria and, above all, Iran in what is occurring, and what calculations there are regarding the regional balance of forces. Tehran, whose relation to Hezbollah is similar to that of Moscow to the communist parties at the time of the international communist movement, has been engaged for some time in an anti-Israeli bidding game against rival Arab governments in order to win over Sunni Muslim opinion. Iranian President Ahmadinejads provocative statements since his election one year ago were part of this game, which fits in with Tehrans strategy facing the USA, at a time when American pressure on the nuclear issue is in full escalation. But, whatever the case, it can be said that what Hezbollah did has prompted a test of strength that risks costing them a great deal, as it is costing the whole of Lebanon very much already.
Q. A test of strength against Israel or within Lebanon?
Achcar: The test of strength is primarily against Israel, because Israel tries through its actions, whether in Palestine or in Lebanon, to crush the resistance movements. The recent events have been seized as pretexts to crush both Hezbollah and Hamas, and the violence of the Israeli military onslaught is to be read in that context. Israel takes entire populations hostage; it has done so with the Palestinian population and is doing the same now with the Lebanese. It has bombed Beiruts airport and imposed a blockade on Lebanon: all that for an action claimed by one Lebanese group, not by the Lebanese state. In fact, Israel holds hostage an entire population in a disproportionate reaction that aims at pulling the rug from under the feet of its opponents and at pressuring local forces to act against them. But if this is indeed Israels calculation, it could backfire, as it is possible that a military action of such a scope could lead to the exact opposite and radicalize the population more against Israel than against Hezbollah. The murderous brutality of Israels reaction, the closure of the airport, the naval blockade, all are acts that could unite the population in a revolt against Israel.
I dont know for sure what Hezbollahs real political calculation has been, but they certainly expected a large-scale reaction on the part of Israel, which has already invaded Lebanon several times before. For this reason, it seems to me that their action entailed an important element of adventurism, all the more that the risk they have taken involves the whole population. They have actually taken a very big risk in initiating an attack on Israel, knowing its huge military power and brutality, and the population could hold them responsible for a new war and a new invasion, the cost of which the Lebanese people will have to bear.
But having said that, it is necessary to stress that the principal responsibility for the deterioration of the whole situation falls on Israel. It has lately reached new peaks in its utterly revolting behavior, especially with regard to Gaza. After the abduction of the soldier by a Palestinian group, the Israeli army has killed dozens and dozens of Palestinian civilians. Israel can abduct and detain with impunity Palestinian civilians, but when some Palestinians kidnap one of its soldiers in order to use him for an exchange, it resorts to unrestricted violence, taking a whole population hostage, bombing the densely populated Gaza strip in the midst of general world indifference. This is the main source of destabilization in the regionthis violent and arrogant behavior of Israel that is in full harmony with the equally arrogant and violent behavior the United States displayed in Iraq.
Q. What is the Lebanese governments position facing Hezbollahs action? Israel has decided to consider this action as being the responsibility of the whole government despite the Lebanese Prime Ministers denial.
Achcar: Israels policy consists exactly in holding entire populations hostage, as I said. It has done so with the Palestinians; in the Lebanese case, it is even more evident because, while it is true that Hezbollah is part of the government, its participation is minimal and it stands actually in the opposition. The Lebanese government is dominated by a majority that is allied with the United States, and they can now take the full measure of the Bush administrations hypocrisy that claims to be very much concerned by the fate of the Lebanese people only when it is a matter of opposing Syria. To hold the present Lebanese government responsible for Hezbollahs action, even after this government has officially taken its distance from that action, is a demonstration of Israels diktat policy on the one hand, and on the other hand the indication of Israels determination to compel the Lebanese to enter into a state of civil war, as it tries to do with the Palestinians. In each case, Israel wants to compel one part of the local societyFatah in Palestine and the governmental majority in Lebanonto crush Israels main enemies, Hamas and Hezbollah, or else they be crushed themselves.
Q. What relates the Hezbollah and Hamas movements?
Achcar: They have similar ideologies and a radical opposition to Israel. Hamas are Sunni Muslims, while Hezbollah are Shiite Muslims, but both of them are allied to Syria and Iran. It is a sort of regional alliance against Israel. Hezbollah was born after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and Hamas at the time of the first Intifada in 1987-88. The fundamental reason for the existence of both is opposition to Israel, the national struggle against the occupier of their territories, the struggle against a common enemy identified as Israel, as well as the United States behind it.
The division between Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq is due to domestic factors peculiar to the country, but is not otherwise important in the whole region. This division appeared also in Lebanon this last year, though in a much less virulent fashion, when the majority of the Sunni community, led by Hariri who is allied with the Saudis and the U.S., found itself in opposition to the majority of Shiites led by Hezbollah allied with Syria. But this division could hardly become an important factor in countries where the two communities, Shiites and Sunnis, are not both present, as they are in Iraq and Lebanon. In Palestine, there are hardly any Shiites.
The relation of solidarity that Hezbollah has with Hamas it did not have either with the PLO or the Palestinian Authority when the latter was led by Arafat. Hezbollah never had any sympathy for Arafat and even less so for Mahmoud Abbas, in whom they dont recognize the same radical opposition to Israel that they see in Hamas, when they dont accuse them of betraying the Palestinian cause. The rise of Hamass clout in Palestine has been perceived by Hezbollah and by Iran as a victory, and Iran was the first state to offer compensatory funding to the Palestinians when Western funds were cut from them.
Q. How will the Lebanese population react to what is happening? Will Hezbollah get their solidarity or will it be held responsible for their suffering?
Achcar: The popular base of Hezbollah is Shiite, of course (Shiites are the largest minority among Lebanons communities, none of which constitutes a majority). But certainly many among the Sunni minority approve its action as a gesture of solidarity with Hamas and the Palestinians, whereas the brutality of Israels reaction increases this solidarity. On the other hand, it is probable that the enmity to Hezbollah among major parts of the Lebanese minorities other than the Shiitesthe Christian Maronites, the Sunnis, the Druzes, etc.will be reinforced because they feel to have been put at risk by Hezbollahs unilateral choice and consider that they will be made to pay the cost of this choice. The risk, obviously, is that the sectarian divisions deepen within Lebanon and that this leads eventually to a new civil war. The decisive question is whether the Lebanese governmental majority will yield to the Israeli diktat at the cost of a new civil war, or decide that the priority is to oppose the Israeli aggression and preserve the countrys unity. For the time being, this second option seems to be prevailing. One can only hope that it will remain so. The international protest against the dual Israeli onslaught can contribute strongly to the reinforcement of the option of common resistance.
This interview was conducted by Paola Mirenda on July 15, 2006, for the Italian daily Liberazione, the newspaper of the Partito della Rifondazione Comunista (PRC).
Gilbert Achcar grew up in Lebanon and teaches political science at the University of Paris-VIII. His most recent works are Eastern Cauldron (2004), The Israeli Dilemma (2006) and The Clash of Barbarisms (2d ed. 2006); a book of his dialogues with Noam Chomsky on the Middle East, Perilous Power, is forthcoming from Paradigm Publishers.
Linking back to a previous blog entry.... for MLK Speech.
Click here to Listen.
Listen to Interview.
However, Ed Gordons Roundtable SLAMS Simmons in their response to his interview. LOL Woooo!!! Pretty hot exchange. Both sides made good points.
I almost hate to say it in this case..... but I stand with the Roundtable. Listen to The Roundtable.
However, for the record.... I also stand by some of the things that Russell mentioned as well. I think Russell Simmons' Heart MAY have been in the right place....because he certainly has enough money...he doesn't have to go out and get himself involved in these activities.
BUT as the Roundtable mentioned... there are some serious problems with the wider Hip Hop industry which works against any kind of positive activitities that those in the "Hip Hop Culture" may want to get involved in. Hip Hop kills any kind of hope for a political movement amongst its fans.
N. Korea vows to carry on with its missile tests.
Religious lunacy and chaos rages on in the Middle East, as the U.S. fails to call off Israel (which the U.S. has the power to do with one phone call). Israel- A Client State of the U.S.- is taking aggressive military action with the blessing and support of the U.S.
Meanwhile, Israels misguided leaders are just making matters worse for their country. How could they really believe that they could solve this problem of Islamic militancy with military action? This will not work in this conflict. In fact, the use of military force by Israel (or any other country) has never been successful at controlling terrorism and militancy.
In fact, Israel has only guaranteed that the conflict will rage on for many more years. By their actions, Israel has created many more terrorists. Even with Hezbollah being more isolated in Lebanon, more terrorism is now unavoidable. Does Israel believe that this will get their 3 kidnapped soldiers back? What objective are they hoping to achieve with their slaughter of innocent people and by destroying roads, bridges, water, and power plants....all used by the civilian population?
All of this lunacy is being encouraged by the United States "leadership". This is when the U.S. should be heavily involved diplomatically to calm the situation.
This blind unconditional U.S. support for Israel (at the expense of the American people and innocent people in the Middle East) has ruined the U.S. position of being a negotiator. No one in the Middle East will ever trust the U.S. (except for Israel) because of the biased U.S. position.
It will take the work of the UN, The EU, or another nation such as France, Russia, or a former U.S. official to bring order to the madness in the Middle East.
The reputation of the U.S. around the world has been irreparably damaged by the current Republican Administration.
To make matters worse... Israel is accusing Iran and Syria of supporting attacks on Israel. Is Israel creating the pretext to launch attacks against those countries as well (again, with the blessing of the U.S.)?
Thousands of U.S. & British citizens are stuck in Lebanon, since roads and bridges have been knocked out and the airport has been crippled by attacks preventing any flights.
Among the American citizens are several high profile individuals....even U.S. religious leaders (seemingly the only American citizens that the Theocratic United States values). How will the U.S. respond if a U.S. citizen is killed by Israel?
Full coverage from NPR
The Arab League Holds Emergency Meeting
Chaos in the Middle East (Encouraged by the U.S.) sends oil prices skyrocketing.
Why doesn't Bush & Co. use U.S. leverage to ease and solve the crisis? Well.... who benefits when gas prices shoot up? The Buddies of the Bush administration are the ones who benefit. Don't forget that most of the key players in the Bush administration have direct ties to the oil industry- Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, and several others in the Bush administration are connected to big oil companies. The Bush administration gets much of its support from that industry. So it should be no surprise that the Bush administration does not act to prevent the Middle East from imploding. In fact, they welcome the developments in the Middle East because it creates a boon for their pals in the oil industry.
Americans still don't quite understand how the incompetence of their President (allowing the Middle East to get out of control) impacts their lives.
They will no doubt feel the effects at the gas station. And it won't be just at the gas station that Americans will feel the pain. They will also feel the pain at the bank, at the grocery store, with their retirement/savings plans, and all kinds of places. The high gas prices will impact the stock market and the rest of the U.S. economy as inflation grows. Everything will soon be more expensive.
This is why Americans need to raise hell about the incompetence of the Bush administration in terms of how it deals with international issues.
The events in the Middle East is the result of months and years of neglect by the U.S.
There has been zero diplomacy from the U.S.
In fact, the U.S. is encouraging the war in the Middle East, rather than easing tension.
Did the Bush administration try to influence the vote? It appears so.
Looks as if the U.S. has exported its style of "elections" down to Mexico.
US officials 'betrayed' CIA agent
A former CIA officer who is suing US Vice-President Dick Cheney and others over the leaking of her identity says the government "betrayed" her trust.
Valerie Plame's identity was leaked after her husband, former US ambassador Joseph Wilson, criticised the use of intelligence before the war in Iraq.
In a lawsuit the pair say Ms Plame was outed by officials in "revenge".
"I and my former CIA colleagues trusted our government to protect us as we did our jobs," Ms Plame told reporters.
"That a few reckless individuals within the current administration betrayed that trust has been a grave disappointment to every patriotic American."
Meanwhile, some of the big media networks tried to ignore the story.
Additional Story from Public Radio
From the On Point Website:
The latest bloodbath in Baghdad began Sunday morning, when Shiite gunmen roared into a Sunni neighborhood and began executing Sunnis right and left.
And then, one month into a much-ballyhooed security clampdown in Iraq's capital, Baghdad came undone in sectarian violence. Car bombs, gunfights, mortar fire, executions. Iraqis at each other's throats in clear daylight.
President Bush says US troops will stand down when Iraq's forces stand up. But what if Iraqis just stand up to fight each other? That fear is prompting deep questioning of US strategy, and some radical new proposals. Hear about the most recent bloodbath in Baghdad, and the desperate search for a US strategy that works in Iraq.
Listen to Program Click Audio Options at top of page....
More excellent stories from NPR's "Iraq" page.
Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Dealing with an aggravating mini-crisis. Has the potential to become a national story...
I'm so mad I can't type right now....
AMERICANS ARE SO %$^@@* STUPID!!!!
Dealing with some ignorant bull---- indirectly related to the Homeland Security madness that has swept the nation.
But all will be well in due time.
Should be back on between August & October (hopefully)... when my mind will be clear enough to start writing good stuff again.
Sunday, July 09, 2006
Saturday, July 08, 2006
First, the U.S. must realize that it needs a new North Korea policy. The current policy of avoiding negotiations, while threatening military aggression and wanting regime change, is not working and cannot work.
Before I get into my brief list of ideas for dealing with North Korea, I must preface it with a list of what North Korea really wants and needs:
1. North Korea wants to become a part of the international community.
2. North Korea needs economic development and humanitarian assistance.
3. North Korea wants normalized relations with the United States.
4. North Korea wants a comprehensive Peace Treaty with the U.S., which would include a mutual or multi-lateral non-aggression agreement. Security guarantees are important to North Korea.
All of these issues (and more) present creative diplomats with plenty of opportunity to use carrots rather than sticks during any kind of negotiation process with N. Korea. If U.S. diplomats are serious, there are plenty of ways to reach a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula.
With that said… there has never been an official Peace Treaty ending the Korean Conflict. This is a good opportunity to come up with a Comprehensive Peace Treaty with North Korea that would cover areas from Security to economic development and it should encourage the North Korean government to gradually open its society & become a true part of the international community. Such an agreement is favored by South Korea. This is one of the main obstacles getting in the way of South Koreas own efforts to negotiate with the North. There can be no reunification without a final peace settlement there.
The 6 country approach has cluttered the negotiations with too many unrelated issues. The other 4 countries involved in the negotiations are Russia, China, South Korea, and Japan. The main reason why this framework is not working is due to the different goals and interests that each country has. Each additional country exponentially increases the level of complication for the negotiation process. One issue gets tied to some other unrelated issue in the all or nothing approach. Eventually there is a web of interconnected issues which makes it impossible for an agreement to be reached.
This is why negotiations should be conducted separately between all parties involved. For example, the problems between North Korea and South Korea are different than the problems between North Korea and Japan. Conversely, the problems between North Korea and Japan are much different than the problems between North Korea and the U.S. Many of these issues between the parties stem from long standing cultural differences and grudges unique to the 2 parties involved. These problems must be, and can only be sorted out country to country. It has been a mistake for the U.S. to try to lump all of these issues together in the current 6 Party framework. It’s a framework that is built to fail.
It is unclear why the U.S. has been avoiding a genuine, peaceful, and long lasting settlement with North Korea. One possibility is that the U.S. is better served by having a boogeyman in East Asia. This allows the U.S. Defense industry to reap huge profits from weapons sales to countries in the region. It also allows the U.S. to maintain a significant “footprint” or troop presence in the area. With increasing pressure in recent years from the Japanese and South Korean people for U.S. troops to leave, having a bad guy in the region gives the U.S. the excuse to stay put. It is no surprise that the U.S. is in no hurry to put together a permanent peace treaty with North Korea.
Why is this important? Why else does the U.S. want to maintain a significant military presence in East Asia? Because the U.S. wants to be able to project military power in other areas throughout the region, particularly Taiwan. In order to do this, the U.S. needs platforms to keep troops, supplies, planes, and ports for its ships. However, while the U.S. attempts to take care of one problem (Taiwan) it is aggravating another, with North Korea.
The U.S. must enter one on one negotiations with North Korea without pre-conditions. There should be a sincere effort on the part of the U.S. to resolve the long standing Korean conflict once and for all. So far, there has been no effort on the part of the U.S. to take negotiations seriously.
The U.S. should address North Koreas security concerns. North Korea cannot move forward with reconciliation with South Korea or Japan when it feels under threat from the United States.
Efforts should also be made to increase Trade and cross border business activities, as well as opening the Korean border to more travel. If diplomats can get the Koreas to open their shared border, reunification may occur naturally over time, without a shot being fired. This is what occurred in Eastern Europe in the late 1980’s. So many people were migrating out of certain parts of Eastern Europe that the East could no longer sustain itself and eventually collapsed, due to the lack of human resources. This effectively ended the Cold War… or at least brought us into a halftime- I never really believed that the Cold War was actually over… mainly due to militarism on the part of the United States. But the same could be done with North and South Korea, over time.
There must also be an effort to provide the top members of the North Korean regime with some level of amnesty, should they agree to step aside or if there is some sort of collapse. This could provide a much easier platform for negotiations down the road. This fear alone causes some in the regime to want to hold onto power at all costs, to save their own necks. For some, this may sound like an unacceptable idea. However, sometimes in life you are left with the scenario of deciding between 2 bad choices. In this case, do we provide a couple hundred high level and mid level officials with free passage to wherever they wish to go, and a pension, so that they (along with their families) can go away quietly? Or do you risk war which could kill or maim tens of thousands of people, risk a wider war, and cost billions to fight and billions of dollars in property losses? This is really an easy decision, although not without some pain.
The ultimate goal of these negotiations should be the signing of a comprehensive Peace Treaty, officially ending the Korean conflict and putting both parties on a path towards normal relations.
Instead of the 4 other countries being primary parties in the talks, these countries should remain a part of the discussions as witnesses and should sign the Treaty as witnesses. In fact, all members of the U.N. Security Council, willing member countries of the General Assembly, and the UN Secretary General should send representatives to be present for all or part of the negotiations and should sign the Treaty document as witnesses. This would make it difficult for either party to break their agreements.
Unfortunately, I am not confident that the U.S. will seek this approach. The only "diplomacy" that the U.S. knows is military threats or aggression. Everything else in U.S. policy seems to be built around flexing its military muscle. No matter how unproductive this approach is, U.S. policymakers consistently return to the flawed ideology of sticks rather than carrots to solve all of its problems.
What will it take for the U.S. to change course?
For use of this opinion article, contact the author at: Websteru2006@Yahoo.com
Background information available.
Thursday, July 06, 2006
Great interview from Ed Gordon's NPR Program, 'News and Notes'.
Farai Chideya talks with Spencer Overton, professor of law at George Washington University, about his book Stealing Democracy: The New Politics of Voter Suppression.
Listen to Interview Here.
To learn about the book, visit the website set up by Spencer Overton.
I am baffled as to why Russia and its people want to hold on to Cold War era connections. Russia, along with China, still see North Korea as their protectorate.... even though Russia (supposedly) gave up Communism over a decade ago. I'm not really baffled.... I understand the reasons behind it... but it's still not good to see this kind of Russian support for North Korea 15 years after the Soviet Union fell apart. U.S. foreign policy is partly to blame for the Russian position in this case and in global politics overall.
However, there is an interesting twist to this story that is not being covered very well (if at all) in Western media.
The Russian Press is reporting that several Duma members are furious....and it has also come to light that more than 7 missiles may have been fired. Just how good is that NORAD equipment controlled from Cheyenne Mountain, which my tax dollars help pay for?????
More importantly, Russian Press is reporting that at least one of the North Korean missiles landed in Russian Territory (in Russian territorial waters).... in fact, several of the missiles landed closer to Russia than Japan. If you watch Western media, you are left with the impression that Japan is under attack. Story Here.
With this in mind, why are the Russians so supportive of this tyrant in North Korea? I know that Russia has close ties with N. Korea and Russia shares a border with N. Korea (as does China of course). However, if I were a Russian citizen, I would be concerned about missiles being fired by an unstable leader and landing in my territory.
But I also thought of another possibility. Could it be that Russia and China are involved in this whole thing along with the N. Koreans? As a way to aggravate Western countries or to see what U.S. military movements would be? High ranking N. Korean officials visited Russia and China just days before the missile launches. I have a hard time believing that Russia and China were not at least aware, if not involved in the plans.
I think that the Russian people should put a little more pressure on their government to let go of old Cold War friendships such as the friendship with N. Korea. Certainly Russia has more interest in a vibrant Japan and a vibrant S. Korea. Trade and Commerce are more fruitful from these countries than from N. Korea, which has no real economy. However, N. Korea does have plenty of natural resources and is a customer in terms of the Weapons trade, which Russia benefits. But that doesn't make up for Russia's Trade with Japan and S. Korea and other countries in the Pacific.
If Russia wants to be a part of the future and a part of the modern international community, then it has to decide which world it wants to live in. Russias leaders, eager to grasp at anything that harkens back to their time of greatness, are doing all they can to protect North Korea, hoping that it will bring them the prestige of Soviet times. Russia is trying to play on the international stage with one foot inside the world of "free" nations, and one foot inside the world of dictators and tyrants.
Putin does not give me confidence (and never has) that Russia wants to become a part of the world of "free" nations.
-- The Bush administration has surprised me so far with their tact. I expected a more careless reaction from the meatheads.
Of course, what Kim Jong Il wants is a big reaction.
What Americans don't seem to understand is that N. Korea has been working on missile technology for decades... they have been testing rockets for many years. The difference now is that there is more media focused on it because the U.S. is still dealing with the aftermath of 9/11. Because it was hit on 9/11, the U.S. expects countries to automatically stop what they were doing years before 9/11. That's just not going to happen.
The U.S. has always had a policy of containment when it came to N. Korea...and it should not stray from that. Americans who are now calling for an attack on N. Korea, don't realize how difficult that would be.
I haven't had much time to post on this topic... working on a formal commentary that I will post later in the week.
Previous Blog Entries on the Subject of North Korea:
1. North Korea to Test Fire Missile
2. Japan Raises the Stakes in Missile Spat
3. North Korea Seeks Negotiations, But The U.S. Says No!
4. Public Radio Discussion on North Korea Missile Standoff. U.S. Pro-War Hawks Are Pushing For A U.S. Attack Against North Korea.
Resources for a better understanding of the N. Korea Situation
-- North Korea Wants Treaty
--More on Treaty
--More about Non-Aggression Treaty...mentioned here.
--Scroll down to "What The N. Koreans Want In Return" Read here.
--More on N. Koreas Interests
--Normal Relations with U.S.
GlobalSecurity.org is also a pretty good source for information on N. Korean strategy and military information.
Tuesday, July 04, 2006
-- Just what is the Bush Administration planning for us???
U.S. official: North Korea tests long-range missile
From Elise Labott and Justine Redman
Tuesday, July 4, 2006
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- North Korea launched a long-range Taepodong-2 missile early Wednesday in an apparently unsuccessful test that failed in flight, a senior State Department official said.
North Korea also tested at least two smaller missiles, U.S. sources told CNN.
Both missiles were launched from a site other than the one intelligence officials have watched for weeks ahead of the long-range missile test, a senior State Department official said.
The United States, Japan and other countries have warned North Korea against a long-range missile test, saying such a move would be considered a provocation.
Washington and North Korea's Asian neighbors -- South Korea, China, Russia and Japan -- have been trying to persuade North Korea to dismantle its nuclear weapons program since 2002, but those talks have stalled in recent months.
Monday, July 03, 2006
A conference more like an unofficial Democratic Party Convention rather than an event for Progressives.
Democrats still have a long way to go in making progress against Republicans.
As I always say...what the country really needs is a 3rd and 4th major political Party. The Democrats are really a temporary solution and not the answer for the country.
For some reason the U.S. (an Imitation Democracy) is afraid of more political Parties. Even Mexico got smart and created more Parties.... in fact, most Democracies in the world have created a 3rd, 4th, or 5th Party when older established Parties fail the public. The U.S. is one of the few nations still stuck in a 2 Party system which only serves the top 5 or 10% of the population considered to be priviledged. This 2 Party system amounts to a dictatorship.
An Independent Centrist Party, A Polulist Party or The Independent Progressive Party sounds great.... but will something like this ever materialize??? I doubt it....It probably won't happen in my lifetime, but I enjoy thinking about the possibilities. A Party like this would be great to keep the Democratic Party honest, while teaming with Democrats (when necessary) to fight crazy Republican policies. A third Party would not have to be large (in terms of Congressional representation) in order to be effective....it only needs to be intelligently placed to give balance to the government. The Green Party in Europe, for example, is an effective small Party.
With the country split basically 50-50 among Republicans and Democrats.... Independents hold a tremendous amount of power in this country....because Independents can determine who wins an election. The problem is, Independents have not organized to harness their power.
Page with videos of Barak Obama, Tom Vilsack, John Kerry and more.
Other videos here, and here.
Iran has been given new deadline of July 12th to respond to offer of incentives.
Meanwhile, the U.S. continues to make plans to attack Iran.
However investigative reporter Seymour Hersh comments on conflicts within the U.S. military. U.S. Generals are discouraging an attack. Generals believe that an attack on Iran would not be successful and would have more negative consequences.
Read the Seymour Hersh article from the New Yorker Magazine, which updates his analysis of the looming crisis with Iran.
Many more of these cases go unreported or do not reach mainstream media in the United States.