Saturday, April 26, 2008

Glenn Greenwald: Bush's Phantom Syrian WMDs

Once again, Glenn Greenwald nails it on the latest disinformation/fear campaign against Syria. This time the transparency of the lies is laughably (I wish) obvious. As Greemwald points out there's little push-back in the media, and, he might have added, the candidates for president. Can you imagine Obama or Clinton challenging Bush on this issue? At best they'll be quiet as mice. Yet another indication of the depths to which monsters like Bush & Cheney can bring us as they count on Zionist support as they beat the drums to enlarge the war against Syria and Iran (and Lebanon if they can squeeze it in.)

But is anyone asking why Bush and Cheney are still desperately trying to make more war happen?

It's not, as Xymphora is fond of saying, a war for the Jews. No, they are cleverly using the Zionists to further their endless war agenda.

Now, why would they want to make more war? For oil? Do people still believe this? What do you have to do to show that it's not to the benefit of anyone -- ok, a handful of the base will, for a short time rake in more of the windfall. But that can't be sufficient reason to further destroy the US and world economy, not to mention the incredible suffering on top of what's already going on worldwide with food and energy costs.

All we have left -- in conventional terms -- is Empire.

People like to use this as an explanation for the Bush-Cheney unprovoked aggression (and all the other destruction they manage) but this explanation doesn't address the anomaly that everything Bush is doing is WEAKENING the American Empire as fast as possible. The military has all kinds of readiness issues. Empire is for building up, and Bush and Cheney are only for destruction.

When are people going to understand that when we say that we're at the mercy of criminal psychopaths, it's not an exaggeration. It's the literal truth.

I snorted with laughter this morning when I heard the proposal that Bush and Cheney should release some oil from the national oil reserve. As if anyone thinks that they would do ANYTHING that would help people. Reminds me that I recall being mystified during the last couple of years of the Clinton administration. At a certain moment there was a spike in the oil price and Clinton quickly acted to release oil which had the desired effect. But all the while the predictable right wing voices howled in protest. It took me awhile to figure out that they were opposed on principle to any government action that would help people. It might give people a reason to vote for the Democrats.
One way to explain Bush's low poll numbers is to observe that people understand on some level that he's not interested in helping them.

Glenn Greenwald wrote:
Friday April 25, 2008
Skepticism toward Bush claims about Syria and North Korea

There are multiple reasons why substantial skepticism is warranted concerning the Bush administration's claims that the structure which Israeli jets destroyed inside Syria last September was a nuclear reactor Syria was developing with the aid of North Korea. Such skepticism, however, is difficult to find in most (though not all) American press accounts, which do little other than repeat Government claims without challenge.

Read more:

See similarly JOHN W. FARLEY on Counterpunch:
The Media Falls for Fake News Once Again: Syrian Nukes: the Phantom Menace

Last September 6, Israel bombed a Syrian building at Dair el Zor. In the immediate aftermath of the bombing, little was said in public, by either Israel or Syria, but later the Israelis started claiming that the Syrians were building a nuclear reactor. On the radio today (April 25), I heard NPR's Tom Jelton repeat, as if it were undisputed fact, the US. government claim to have "proof" of a Syrian-North Korean nuclear connection. Now I see that AP writers Pamela Hess and Deb Reichmann have a story headlined "White House says Syria 'must come clean' about nuclear work," while ABC news has a video entitled "Syria's Nuclear Reactor".

Are the wonderful mainstream media, who gave us Saddam's mythical Weapons of Mass Destruction, lying to us again? The answer is yes.

Read more:

Friday, April 25, 2008

Xymphora: Pennsylvania Touch Screens Love Hillary

Popular Canadian blogger Xymphora's note below on the PA primary reminds me that I've been meaning for weeks to write up my blog notes to the NYT article shortly after the Feb 5 NY State primary which informed us that in about 80 of 6,000+ precincts in NYC, Obama received Zero votes, including in a heavily black district in Harlem and in Brooklyn's Bed-Sty.
Xymphora's concerns below about PA are similar to the situation in the NH primary and who knows how many other states where the totals required adjustment in order to skew towards Hillary. (In some NH districts Ron Paul also received zero votes in the "unofficial" count.)
It's disheartening, shall we say, that we can't trust ANY of the numbers from these primaries not even in NYC which still allows voting on our trusty lever machines which with routine maintenance could last another 50 years. So it's not simply the fault of computerized voting machines . It seems that political operatives are in place at central locations who are allowed to adjust the numbers which they get from local precincts. That seems to be the way that Bush won Florida in 2000, and Florida and Ohio in 2004, as well as his "3 million" vote win over Kerry in 2004. As Mark Crispin Miller has pointed out, it's beyond credibility that Bush's national vote total INCREASED by 11 million votes from 2000 to 2004.
Thus we Americans are well into our Banana Republic stage. Will we ever emerge?


Xymphora wrote:
Wednesday, April 23, 2008
Pennsylvania exit polls

Some people will believe anything other than the obvious:

"It’s clear that a sizable chunk of those questioned after they voted lied to the pollsters. The exit polls showed a 5 point margin for Hillary. In the end the margin was approximately twice that."

So lemme get this straight: people who voted for Hillary were so embarrassed by that fact that they lied to exit pollsters and claimed they voted for Obama? Does that make any sense? Or does it make more sense that Pennsylvania, a state which makes heavy use of unverifiable computer touch-screen voting, was the victim of vote fraud? The difference between five percent and ten percent is the difference between Hillary having to drop out and Hillary staying in to help McCain win in November, a goal shared by both the Republicans (who own the computer voting machine companies) and Hillary (so she can run again in 2012).

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Patrick J. Buchanan: Petraeus Points to War with Iran

Robert Stiver wrote:

Here's the latest commentary by an informed, deeply concerned citizen: ("Petraeus Points to War With Iran," by Patrick Buchanan, April 11th, 2008)
(I disagree with one element of Buchanan's analysis: "The general's testimony is forcing Bush's hand...." Petraeus is, IMHO, an ambitious, willing military-side stooge for the Cheney-led zionazineocons [note particularly the odious Lieberman in the article] and the dry-drunkenly adolescent, bellicose, irrational Bush. A lethal combination, and Gates and Mullen -- with Fallon gone and no longer providing adult supervision -- today added additional voice to the warmongering set....)
The Evil USrael Empire is on the march to war...Bob

Ronald wrote:
It's hard to improve on Bob's comment and Buchanan's short article.. One question that comes to mind: why do Bush and Cheney want to go to war against Iran and use their nuclear arsenal?

Bob suggests that it is for Israel's benefit. But such an adventure is just as dangerous for Israel as it is for the rest of the world, not least the US. (Just imagine what $200-300/ barrel oil will do to the world's economy.)

This reminds me: haven't we read recently that Putin warned Bush not to attack Iran? But if Putin did so, that might only spur Bush and Cheney to go ahead. Once again, we ask for what purpose?

One result (if not the only result) will be chaos, destruction, and more war. Does that cohere with wars for oil, for Empire or for Israel? Does that put Cheney and Bush squarely in the tradition of US presidents or does it suggest that they are exceptional, as in pathologically criminal, intent only on the elimination of the possibility of civil life everywhere just as they have succeeded in accomplishing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Kenya, Palestine, elsewhere? Is Empire strengthened by these disasters? Are we achieving more or less control over ($110/barrel) oil?

Petraeus Points to War With Iran
by Patrick J. Buchanan

April 11, 2008
The neocons may yet get their war on Iran.

Ever since President Nouri al-Maliki ordered the attacks in Basra on the Mahdi Army, Gen. David Petraeus has been laying the predicate for U.S. air strikes on Iran and a wider war in the Middle East.

Iran, Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee, has "fueled the recent violence in a particularly damaging way through its lethal support of the special groups."

These "special groups" are "funded, trained, armed and directed by Iran's Quds Force with help from Lebanese Hezbollah. It was these groups that launched Iranian rockets and mortar rounds at Iraq's seat of government (the Green Zone) ... causing loss of innocent life and fear in the capital."

Is the Iranian government aware of this – and behind it?

"President Ahmadinejad and other Iranian leaders" promised to end their "support for the special groups," said the general, but the "nefarious activities of the Quds force have continued."

Are Iranians then murdering Americans, asked Joe Lieberman:

"Is it fair to say that the Iranian-backed special groups in Iraq are responsible for the murder of hundreds of American soldiers and thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians?"

"It certainly is. ... That is correct," said Petraeus.

The following day, Petraeus told the House Armed Services Committee, "Unchecked, the 'special groups' pose the greatest long-term threat to the viability of a democratic Iraq."

Translation: The United States is now fighting the proxies of Iran for the future of Iraq.

The general's testimony is forcing Bush's hand, for consider the question it logically raises: If the Quds Force and Hezbollah, both designated as terrorist organizations, are arming, training and directing "special groups" to "murder" Americans, and rocket and mortar the Green Zone to kill our diplomats, and they now represent the No. 1 threat to a free Iraq, why has Bush failed to neutralize these base camps of terror and aggression?

Hence, be not surprised if President Bush appears before the TV cameras, one day soon, to declare:

"My commanding general in Iraq, David Petraeus, has told me that Iran, with the knowledge of President Ahmadinejad, has become a privileged sanctuary for two terrorist organizations – Hezbollah and the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard – to train, arm and direct terrorist attacks on U.S. and coalition forces, despite repeated promises to halt this murderous practice.

"I have therefore directed U.S. air and naval forces to begin air strikes on these base camps of terror. Our attacks will continue until the Iranian attacks cease."

Because of the failures of a Democratic Congress elected to end the war, Bush can now make a compelling case that he would be acting fully within his authority as commander-in-chief.

In early 2007, Nancy Pelosi pulled down a resolution that would have denied Bush the authority to attack Iran without congressional approval. In September, both Houses passed the Kyl-Lieberman resolution designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization.

Courtesy of Congress, Bush thus has a blank check for war on Iran. And the signs are growing that he intends to fill it in and cash it.

Israel has been hurling invective at Iran and conducting security drills to prepare its population for rocket barrages worse than those Hezbollah delivered in the Lebanon War.

Adm. William "Fox" Fallon, the Central Command head who opposed war with Iran, has been removed. Hamas and Hezbollah have been stocking up on Qassam and Katyusha rockets.

Vice President Cheney has lately toured Arab capitals.

And President Ahmadinejad just made international headlines by declaring that Tehran will begin installing 6,000 advanced centrifuges to accelerate Iran's enrichment of uranium.

This is Bush's last chance to strike and, when Iran responds, to effect its nuclear castration. Are Bush and Cheney likely to pass up this last chance to destroy Iran's nuclear facilities and effect the election of John McCain? For any attack on Iran's "terrorist bases" would rally the GOP and drive a wedge between Obama and Hillary.

Indeed, Sen. Clinton, who voted to declare Iran's Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization, could hardly denounce Bush for ordering air strikes on the Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force, when Petraeus testified, in her presence, that it is behind the serial murder of U.S. soldiers.

The Iranians may sense what is afoot. For Tehran helped broker the truce in the Maliki-Sadr clash in Basra, and has called for a halt to the mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone.

With a friendly regime in Baghdad that rolled out the red carpet for Ahmadinejad, Iran has nothing to gain by war. Already, it is the big winner from the U.S. wars that took down Tehran's Taliban enemies, decimated its al-Qaeda enemies and destroyed its Sunni enemies, Saddam and his Baath Party.

No, it is not Iran that wants a war with the United States. It is the United States that has reasons to want a short, sharp war with Iran.

[Another quibble: Do Bush and Cheney want a short war? Will a short or long war help them stay in power longer? Although I'm wondering if Cheney's health may play a role. He seems to be sounding weaker than ever. --RB]


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Free Trade -- Starving the Poor and impoverishing the Middle Class

Free Trade – Starving the Poor and Middle Class

Now that it’s clear that prices for food all over the world are going through the roof it should be even clearer that so-called free trade, which is dominated by the intention of the stronger powers to eliminate local agriculture, is making a major contribution to starving the poorest peoples, and making the classes just above – including the middle classes -- more and more hungry.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Amira Hass (November 2007): Powerless in Gaza: Drinking Dirty Water; And Sewage Untreated

Perhaps there are others like myself for whom Amira Hass is hard to read because the celebrated (and in certain circles, excoriated) Israeli journalist describes everyday reality with unfailing precision and economy. The reality she describes is hard to take because there is little hope for change. There is little hope for change in part (in large part?) because for Zionists the Palestinian people are dehumanized. In this context dehumanizing Palestinians means that whatever is done to them, even the slow genocide that is ongoing, is basically OK, or at worst something to be tolerated. Supporters of Zionism rationalize and tolerate these State crimes against millions of people because to be critical of them would represent a challenge to the cause of a Jewish state in the former Palestine. A Jewish state somehow rises above its crimes against non Jews. A Jewish state means that there can be no crimes against non Jews.


Ha'aretz | 07 Nov 2007

A Moment Before the Lights Go Out

by Amira Hass

Alan Johnston, the BBC correspondent kidnapped in Gaza, related in an interview that at a relatively early stage, he started suffering from all kinds of aches because of the water he drank. This was the same water that the kidnappers drank, but Johnston’s unaccustomed body sent warning signals: This is not water that is fit for drinking. And this is the water that reaches most of the taps in the Gaza Strip. Salty, in a few places brackish to contaminated, with an oily consistency. That is clearly felt when bathing.

The reason is an ancient one: overpumping because Gaza must make do with the waters from its aquifer alone. It is as if we were to say to the residents of Be’er Sheva: make do with the water that flows nearby. The water sources in the rest of the country are not for you.

Over the last few years, there have been some improvised private and public solutions. Private water purification plants in homes and commercial companies that sell purified water.

The municipalities, for their part, set up large brackish water desalination facilities and several central taps. Thousands of people go there daily to fill up jerry-cans with water that will not taste like it came from a puddle and will not cause diarrhea, infections, kidney problems and who knows what else.

The electricity and fuel supply to Gaza has already been reduced to below the level of basic human needs. An additional reduction will affect the above solutions to the water problem, and beyond. “To darken Gaza,” as some of the security experts among us have recently proposed, does not end merely with darkened homes at night. You don’t have to be an expert in public health to realize that it would create an endless chain reaction of public health problems and environmental blights.

Today, around a year and a half after Israel bombed the transformer station in Gaza, only 193 megawatts out of the 240 or so it needs is supplied to the Strip.

The water network is the biggest energy consumer in the Gaza Strip: it requires approximately 25 megawatts of the 240 megawatts the Gaza Strip needs.

The 135 wells across the Gaza Strip that supply water, poor quality as it may be, cannot function if the electricity and diesel fuel supply is cut further. The same is true of sewage treatment plants.

Already now, each day, no water is supplied to around 15 percent of the Strip’s residents. Each area receives water only every other day. The water is pumped electrically and stored in home reservoirs on every rooftop. Power outages are frequent.

When a power outage in a given area occurs on a day when the municipalities channel water to it, the houses are denied water for three, and sometimes even four, days.

The water network also needs around 150,000 litres of diesel fuel per month. The sewage system needs around 100,000 litres.

The Coastal Municipalities Water Utility, the supplier of sewage and water services in the Gaza Strip obtained only 60,000 liters of diesel fuel in October, because the quantity of fuels sold from Israel to the Gaza Strip was reduced. And this is before “the darkening” proposed by Ehud Barak and Matan Vilnai.

The water company must choose to favor the sewage system over the water system. As the deputy CEO of the company, Maher Najjar, explains: The collapse of the sewage system entails a bigger humanitarian threat.

Just imagine a huge flood of sewage. Hence, for example, the seven wells in the northern Gaza Strip that are diesel operated were allocated only 2,000 litres of diesel in early November, instead of the 10,500 liters needed to operate them.

Even before the lights go out, Israel is prohibiting the entry of raw materials into the Gaza Strip.

No one is talking any more about dozens of development projects that have consequently been frozen, such as the one to desalinate well water that serves the residents of the El Bureij refugee camp. Let them continue drinking the water that endangers their health.

Raw material is not the only thing Israel is barring entry of: Vital spare parts are also being barred entry. In the Gaza City sewage treatment facility there are several minor malfunctions.

However, Israel is barring the entry of the spare parts needed to repair them. Sewage undergoes only minimal treatment before it flows into the sea. And the sea, of course, doesn’t stop at the Erez or Rafiah checkpoints.