PROGRESSIVE CAUCUS: Dahlia Wasfi at Iraq Forum (video)

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)Dr. Dahlia Wasfi was born to a Jewish mother and an Iraqi father. She recently put her medical career on hold to visit with family members in Iraq, and recently returned from a three-month stay in Basrah and Baghdad. Dr. Wasfi described her experience in Iraq and discussed the life of Iraqis under occupation on April 27, 2006 in Washington, DC.

Dr. Dahlia Wasfi – Life in Iraq Under U.S. Occupation (video) + A Short History of the Republic of Iraq By Dr. Sadiq H. Wasfi and Dahlia Wasfi

Saving Al Qaeda: Collective Punishment and Curious Policy in the “Surge” by Chris Floyd

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Written by Chris Floyd
Wednesday, 11 July 2007

The Bush Administration’s hideously named military offensive in Iraq’s Diyala province (“Arrowhead Ripper” — there’s a real hearts-and-minds moniker for you) is having the same effect we’ve seen in all the other many pushes and surges and crackdowns during the botched conquest: killing innocent people, alienating the locals, strengthening the insurgency — and allowing the ostensible targets of the operation to escape long before the action begins.

Arrowhead Ripper has been tearing through Diyala’s capital city, Baquba, since June 18, Inter Press Service reports. The announced goal of the operation is to cleanse the area of “al Qaeda terrorists” — the term of art now given to anyone who’s not down with the Bushist program. Or who just looks like they might not be down with the program. Or who just happens to be lying in their bed when Apache helicopters come calling on the village. But just as in the destruction of Fallujah in late November 2004 — a vast human sacrifice offered to the gods in gratitude for the Leader’s re-election — the long, noisy PR build-up to the Diyala operation gave the leaders of the “al Qaeda associated groups” plenty of time to melt away into the night, safe and sound to fight another day. Lt. Gen. Raymond Odierno, commander of U.S ground forces, admitted cheerfully that 80 percent of what he called upper-level al Qaeda leaders fled before the attacks began, the Air Force Times reported on June 22.

From Fallujah, the curiously untouched “al Qaeda” leaders — including the one-time Bushist bogeyman, Zarqawi — spread mayhem elsewhere while American forces were attacking hospitals, raining chemical weapons on residential areas, and driving 300,000 people from their homes in the city. In similar fashion, the curiously untouched terrorist leaders from Diyala are obviously raising murderous hell elsewhere — perhaps in previously peaceful Amerli, where more than 150 people were killed last week in one of the worst terror bombings of the war. (Terror bombings by the asymmetricals, that is; the state terror bombings that began with the first shock-and-awe “decapitation raids” and continue to this day have of course killed far more Iraqis.)

Arrowhead Ripper is being presented in the American press as an unalloyed success. Taking their lead from the New York Times and other bastions of the corporate media, newspapers and TV stations across the United States are carrying reports of the number of “al Qaeda” fighters killed in the province. The operation has been extensively extolled by Republicans in Congress, warbloggers and other abettors of aggressive war as proof that the “surge” is finally starting to work.

But the people of Baquba have a different view, as IPS reports. Reporter Ali al-Fadhily (the Baghdad-based partner of correspondent Dahr Jamail) has taken a novel approach to covering the offensive; instead of sitting in the Green Zone with Michael Gordon taking dictation from White House aides turned Pentagon flacks, al-Fadhily actually went to Baquba and talked to the people there. What he found was vast destruction, numerous civilian fatalities (up to 350, say members of the American-backed Iraqi government) — and, as in Fallujah, the war crime of collective punishment being carried out against Sunni civilians, with an inevitable rise in support for armed resistance to the occupation. Some excerpts:

Ongoing U.S. military operations in Diyala province have brought normal life to an end and fueled support for the national resistance. Baquba, 30 mi. northeast of Baghdad, and capital city of the volatile Diyala province, has born the brunt of violence during the U.S. military Operation Arrowhead Ripper. Conflicting reports are on offer on the number of houses destroyed and numbers of civilians killed, but everyone agrees that the destruction is vast and the casualties numerous…

The operation was launched June 18 “to destroy the al-Qaeda influences in this province and eliminate their threat against the people,” according to Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, deputy commanding officer of the 25th Infantry Division. But most Iraqis IPS interviewed in the area say the operation seeks more to break the national Iraqi resistance and those who support it. Adding credibility to this belief is the fact that the U.S. operational commander of troops involved in the operation told reporters June 22 that 80 percent of the top al-Qaeda leaders in Baquba fled before the offensive began.

“Americans want Sunni people to leave Diyala or else they face death,” Salman Shakir from the Gatoon district in Baquba told IPS outside the U.S. military cordon around the besieged city. “They warned al-Qaeda days or maybe weeks before they attacked the province and so only us, the citizens, stayed to face the massacre.” Shakir said many of his relatives and neighbors were killed by the military while attempting to leave the area. “I cannot tell you how many people were killed, but bodies of civilians were left in the streets.”

“We all know now that the U.S. military is using the name of al-Qaeda to cover attacks against our national resistance fighters and civilians who wish immediate or scheduled withdrawal of foreign troops from Iraq,” Hilmi Saed, an Iraqi journalist from Baghdad, told IPS on the outskirts of Baquba.

The Iraqi Islamic Party, a Sunni political group in the Iraqi cabinet, issued a statement July 1 alleging that more than 350 people had been killed in the U.S. military operation in Baquba. The group called the operation “collective punishment” and said “neighborhoods in western Baquba have witnessed, since last week, fierce attacks by occupation forces within Operation Arrowhead Ripper.” The statement added, “The forces shelled these neighborhoods with helicopters, destroying more than 150 houses and killing more than 350 citizens. Their bodies are still under the wreckage. And they have arrested scores of citizens.”

…Animosity towards the United States appears to be rising throughout the area as a result of the military action. “Americans are pushing us to the corner of extremity by these massive crimes,” Abbas al-Zaydi, a teacher from Baquba told IPS. “They simply want us to sell cheap our religion, history, tradition, and faith, or else they would call us terrorists.”

Al-Zaydi added, “My son was not a fighter, but he was killed by a militia leader who is at the same time an Iraqi army division commander. Our great fault is only that we are Sunnis, and Americans do not like that.”

“It is clear now that any Iraqi who refuses to serve the American plan is considered an enemy of the United States,” a community leader in the city who did not want to give his name told IPS.

There is nothing unusual about this story. As already noted, it could have been written after Fallujah or any of the other “offensives” and “new strategies” and “security pushes” we have seen during the war: Blunderbuss attacks. Innocent victims. Iraqi anger. Bitterness and radicalization. The knowingly mendacious conflation of all insurgents with “al Qaeda.” And the loud, cumbersome preparations that give the honchos of violence plenty of time to get away, leaving behind only the scrubs — and the civilians — to take the blow.

A cynic might be forgiven for believing that at this point, the Bush Administration is happy to have an amorphous mass of violent groups out there, just beyond reach, able to keep the country in constant turmoil — a turmoil which requires the continued presence of American forces to keep it from worsening, as Bush and his Iraqi capos have been stressing this week. It is certainly an open fact that the United States has begun giving weapons to an alarming array of groups in recent months, some of which have been involved in the insurgency, and all of them beyond direct U.S. control. (This is an extension of earlier, more secret American moves to arm and train various sectarian and freebooting militias to operate on “sort of the dark side, if you will,” to quote Dick Cheney.)

No one pursuing a rational strategy of containing violence in Iraq would adopt such a policy. That leaves us with two basic choices. Either the Bush Administration is pursuing a rational strategy whose true aims are not the ones given publicly for the surge; or else the Bushists have come to believe their own lies about al Qaeda’s “central” role in the insurgency.

The latter could well be true. The shallow intellects who have driven the entire project of aggressive war in Iraq are certainly stupid enough to fall for their own bullshit (if we may resort to the vernacular) — just as Adolf Hitler and his most fanatical followers adamantly refused to recognize the ultimate ruin of their aggression in the streets of Stalingrad and on the beaches of Normandy. People in power are especially prone to self-delusion — especially when they are slavishly fawned upon by their toadies and kept well away from any of the hideous consequences of their actions, as people in power usually are. If you add to this the almost pathologically willful ignorance of George W. Bush, and the pathetically derivative, historically uninformed, inch-deep “philosophies” of the neo-cons and their outriders, you have near-perfect conditions for self-delusion on a Neronian scale.

But we must remember that the most consistent war aim of the aggressors has been the establishment of a permanent military presence in Iraq. The aim was to secure control of a major oil source in the Middle East — a “prize” that Dick Cheney, then head of Halliburton, limned in a talk at the Institute of Petroleum in 1999:

“While many regions offer great oil opportunities, the Middle East, with two-thirds of the world’s oil and the lowest costs, is still where the prize ultimately lies.”

The implantation of a military garrison to secure this ultimate prize has been the aggressors’ openly stated goal for many years, long before they took power, as we have often noted here before. A succinct description of their thinking can be found in John Gray’s important new book, Black Mass:

“Among the geopolitical objectives advanced by the neo-conservatives was the argument that the US must decouple from Saudi Arabia, which they viewed as complicit in terrorism. If it was to disengage in this way, the US needed another secure source of oil in the Gulf, and another platform for military bases. Iraq seemed to fit these requirements. By controlling a crucial part of the Gulf’s oil reserves, the US could detach itself from an ally it no longer trusted. At the same time, it could ensure that it remained the dominant power in the region, with the capacity to limit the incursions of China, India and other energy-hungry states.”

Gray goes on to note, correctly, that this was “always an incredible scenario,” a utopian fantasy:

“The notion that post-Saddam Iraq would accept the transfer of its oil reserves into American hands was anyhow delusional. Why should a democratic Iraq — if that had been possible — accept the expropriation of its resource base?”

Why indeed? No self-respecting, sovereign Iraqi government would do such a thing. In fact, only a gang of cowed collaborators kept in power solely through the presence of American troops would ever accept such an expropriation.

Which brings us around to a “rational” basis for a strategy of fomenting violence in Iraq. The Bushists may well have been sincerely self-deluded in their belief that they could grab Iraq’s oil on the cheap, plant bases all over the country, stick a strongman on the throne, and be thanked by the Iraqis for it. But they have learned their lesson now. They know the only chance they have left of accomplishing their war aims — the bases, the “Oil Law” — lies in keeping those cowed, weak, deeply unpopular collaborators in office. Unbridled violence aids this objective, for it “justifies” the continuing presence of the American military — which is the sole prop for the only kind of regime that would give away the nation’s oil and accept foreign bases on its soil.

If this is indeed the “reasoning” behind the otherwise inexplicable policy of embittering the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people while arming violent groups and letting terrorist chieftains roam free, then this too is ultimately a delusion. In the end, sooner or later, the Iraqis will kick the Americans out of their country. There will be no bases, no “Oil Law” written by Washington lobbyists. The Bushists’ war of aggression has come to ruin just as Hitler’s did. The only question is how much more blood and treasure these rabid dead-enders will waste before their inevitable defeat

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

‘Arrowhead’ Becomes Fountainhead of Anger By Ali al-Fadhily

“They Have Destroyed Everything”: Terms of Debate on Iraq by Chris Floyd

Ulster on the Euphrates: The Anglo-American Dirty War in Iraq by Chris Floyd


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West will fail, says ex-CIA operative by Sarah Smiles and Brendan Nicholson

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Sarah Smiles and Brendan Nicholson
The Age
July 11, 2007

AS PESSIMISM grows in the US about Iraq, the American commander there has warned that the war will take many years to win and a former top CIA officer has told a Sydney conference that defeat is inevitable in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Michael Scheuer, who headed the CIA’s bin Laden unit until 2004, said the West was losing the global battle against Muslim insurgents.

Mr Scheuer said the US and its allies had failed to commit enough troops to win and did not understand the grievances motivating Muslim insurgents.

“We in the West are fighting an enemy we have woefully chosen to misunderstand and to whom we are losing hands down and on every front,” he said.

Mr Scheuer said the US and its allies continually became involved in Middle East wars because of their reliance on Arab oil supplies and had little other interest in the region.

The US had tried “to do Afghanistan on the cheap” and that defeat there was “just around the corner,” he said.

Mr Scheuer’s bleak declaration came as the US commander in Iraq, General David Petraeus, said the war in Iraq could last for many years.

General Petraeus said the new “surge” strategy involving 30,000 extra US troops was having a positive effect in parts of Baghdad and the surrounding areas but such operations in places such as Northern Ireland took decades.

“I don’t know whether this will be decades but the average counter-insurgency is somewhere around a nine or a 10-year endeavour.”

General Petraeus said the big question was how US troops could be reduced to lessen the strain on the army and on the nation.

There is growing pessimism in the US about the chances of success in Iraq and the Washington Post reported yesterday that President George Bush was planning to begin reducing troop numbers next year.

Top officials in Washington had begun explaining to worried Republicans the President’s plan for “post-surge” Iraq that would eventually involve bringing troops home.

Mr Scheuer said there was no hope of bringing democracy to Iraq or Afghanistan without a much greater commitment to defeat insurgents.

He said the West’s biggest mistake in the war on terror was to ignore the grievances of Islamic insurgents.

He said Western politicians, including Prime Minister John Howard, deceived the public by suggesting that terrorists were motivated only by hatred for freedoms enjoyed in the West.

Mr Howard had “warbled” the “wildly inaccurate ditty” that the London bombers were motivated by a hatred of Western culture, Mr Scheuer said.

He said Al-Qaeda was motivated by anger towards US foreign policy in the Middle East rather than by hatred for Western culture.

That included the US military presence in the region, its backing of tyrannical Arab regimes and “unqualified” support for Israel.

Mr Scheuer said the United States needed to increase its troops and take a heavy-handed, “brutal” approach to beat insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan — or leave.

Mr Howard said he had not heard of Mr Scheuer.

“I don’t know who you’re talking about,” Mr Howard said. “A lot of people disagree with me on Iraq.

“My position is that we are there to help the people of Iraq give effect to their desire to have democracy. They’ve voted in the most fearful circumstances of intimidation to embrace democracy.”

Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd challenged Mr Howard to say why he would not set a timetable for a staged withdrawal of Australian troops.

h/t: ICH

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Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming (video link)

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Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Democracy Now!

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As the peak of hurricane season approaches, we speak with leading science journalist Chris Mooney about how global warming relates to the frequency and ferocity of hurricanes. We also ask him about White House interference in climate science and Al Gore’s recent campaign to address global warming. [includes rush transcript]

The peak of the hurricane season is almost upon us. Just a few years ago the science behind predicting these storms used to be a specialized branch of meteorology. Today, in the post-Katrina world, it is at the center of fiercely politicized debates about global warming and disaster prevention.How exactly does global warming relate to the frequency and ferocity of hurricanes? Not only do leading scientists tend to disagree over the details, but the debate is sharpened by the Bush administration-imposed controls on what scientists are allowed to say.Chris Mooney is a leading science journalist and he is just out with a book tackling this very question. It’s called “Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics, and the Battle over Global Warming.”

  • Chris Mooney. Author of the new book, “Storm World: Hurricanes, Politics and the Battle over Global Warming.” Mooney is the Washington correspondent for Seed Magazine and author of the New York Times bestseller “The Republican War on Science.”


Freedom Next Time: An Evening with John Pilger and Amy Goodman (video link)

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John Pilger, author of Freedom Next Time: Resisting the Empire, and Amy Goodman, host of the Pacifica radio show Democracy Now!, as they discuss struggles for freedom and independence in Iraq, Palestine, South Africa, and the island of Diego Garcia, where the fight for independence has been of long duration and the people are still waiting for this dream to be realized.


Disobey the USA by Mike Palecek

Dandelion Salad

July 10, 2007
by Mike Palecek

Disobey the USA.

That is what I encourage.

Sit down and consider how bad you think things are, our leaders, our lies, our FBI and CIA and CBS, and murdering troops.

And the truth is, it’s probably ten times as bad as the worst thing you can imagine.

And now …

Scooter Libby isn’t going to prison.

That part’s just fine.

Anybody named “Scooter” should not be put into prison.

Actually, nobody should be in prison.

Prisons and jails are immoral. They are mean and bad and nobody should go there.

You say, well, they are not supposed to be nice.

Well, they are not. And you do not know shit about the world. Go back to your church league softball game.

Okay, maybe I’m sorry I said that.

More likely I’m not.

Go to jail and then come and tell me that anyone should be there.

Or go visit someone you love who is in prison. Then come visit me. We might have more to talk about then.

We are supposed to be intelligent beings. We should be able to think of something else.

Bush said he commuted Scooter Libby’s sentence because it was excessive.

Of course, he is a liar. That is a given. When he tells his children it is nice outside they put on winter coats, because “Dad is a fucking liar.”

It wasn’t. Excessive. Bush gave Libby something and now Libby won’t snitch on Cheney and Bush and whoever else.

That’s the way it’s done.

Just for kicks, what about all the thousands of people in prison right now for marijuana “crimes.” For possessing and using a plant that grows naturally. Is there a chance that might be “excessive?”

Anybody in Terminal Island these days for distribution of Coors Light?

Is your headache and memory loss and spousal loss this morning due to … oh, forget it. Let’s move on.

What about these headlines that we have pretty much forgotten, just like the millions of lost souls in our prisons:

? Is it possible that the anthrax attacks were launched from within our own government? A former Bush 1 advisor thinks it is.


Point of View By JIM FETZER
One man’s opinion: Evidence indicates that Wellstone crash was no accident

? Civilian Casualties in Afghanistan No Coincidence
by Ira Chernus

Shit, there are one hundred more headlines that could go here regarding the Bush crimes: torture, stealing elections.

I still can’t believe those two.

Can’t believe we don’t tear down the White House fences to get at these criminals and haul them to federal district court.

And yet they are not sitting in prison, eating meatloaf squares next to some guy from Duluth who sold a plant and won’t be able to ever watch his son’s ballgames, because he doesn’t get out of the federal prison in Milan for another eighteen effing years.

I was happy to serve my country in prison, but for the record, I went to prison for Stepping Over A White Line.

It was definitely political. I kept doing it and doing it, and it was well-known that it was in opposition to the United States military.
I wasn’t trying to get onto the air force base to oooh and aaah at the new Stealth bombers.

It’s obvious that it’s all political, that’s all.

Bush is a liar. He is a murderer.

He should be in Terre Haute Penitentiary right now, or Lewisburg or Leavenworth or a SuperMax in Colorado.

Or, might I also recommend the Sarpy County Jail, not so far from Offutt Air Force Base, south of Omaha.

That would do just fine. The people of the United States would be well served by having His Moron Fuck Highness in one of those dark little cages for a few years.

That’s all I’m saying.

If we are going to have these idiotic things called prisons, then there should be a bunk and a register number and a meatloaf square and a stainless steel toilet for the biggest idiot of them all.


– Mike

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

American Leadership and War Map (video)

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Thanks to
inyan hoksila

American Leadership and War Map

Which presidents and political parties were responsible for America’s deadliest wars? To what extent can you blame a president or a political party for choosing to go to war? This map may hold some answers. It illustrates the history of American war from 1775 to 2006. War is a necessary evil. Politics, however, shouldn’t be.

Ameircan Leadership and War Map (video)

Vodpod videos no longer available. from posted with vodpod



Imports Cause Consumer Safety Concern by Ralph Nader

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by Ralph Nader
Monday, July 9. 2007

It has been a long time coming, but now the mass media and even the “look-the-other-way” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are focusing on a stream of Chinese imports that are contaminated or defective.

After years of warnings about farm-raised seafood imports from the Chinese mainland, the FDA’s Dr. David Acheson, in charge of food protection, said: “There’s been a continued pattern of violations with no signs of abatement.” So, finally, the FDA in late June blocked the sale of shrimp, frozen eel, catfish, basa and dace. The reasons included carcinogens and too many antibiotic residues.

Crowded into ponds, farmed Chinese fish are breeding grounds for disease, lice and contaminated water. So heavy doses of antibiotics and other food additives—many illegal in the U.S.—are applied. China is a major exporter of seafood to the U.S. We import 80% of all our seafood.

In recent weeks, disclosures of hundreds of thousands of defective tires (tread separation problems), lead-coated toys, contaminated toothpaste and pet food (which destroyed about 6000 pets) have raised the profile of a situation which is likely to get worse.

China produces products in a horrifically polluted environment—of the water, air and soil. Industrial chemicals, farm run-offs, mountains of toxic waste are alarming Beijing for both domestic consumption as well as foreign trade reasons. Despite loud proclamations of forthcoming action, the Chinese government has waited too long, allowed too much corruption and lax enforcement, and condoned a huge industry in exported counterfeit goods where anything goes.

Although country-of-origin legislation passed Congress in 2002, Mr. Bush—obsessed by the costly Iraq war and indentured to large corporate importers—did not push his Republicans in Congress to provide funds for enforcement. Instead, the president has signed into law delays in the labeling rule. Therefore, except for the required labeling of seafood from foreign countries (consumers take note), all other food in your supermarket is not required to have a label of the country that exported it. It is the majority Democrats’ job now to compel mandatory labeling of all imported foods.

China is the largest apple juice exporter in the world. Apple juice from China is pouring into the United States. Is there anything left that cannot be imported into what was once the greatest food exporter the world has ever seen?

It gets worse. The U.S. is on the verge of becoming a net food importer!

China has allies in the U.S.—the giant food processors that love to rely on profit-maximizing Chinese foodstuffs, additives and other ingredients. The large wholesalers and retail chains, like Wal-Mart, buffer the Chinese export machine from long overdue inspections and enforcement actions.

The inadequate budget of the FDA, and its fractured role with other federal agencies such as the U.S. Department of Agriculture, contributes to the failure of consumer protection. The FDA 2007 budget is only $1.5 billion, or one third of the price of just one aircraft carrier. That is not enough to defend the health and safety of the three hundred million Americans from hazardous drugs and foodstuffs.

Especially since the FDA has weak or non-existent enforcement powers to obtain information, keep records, demand recalls or impose effective fines.

Presently, the FDA is able to inspect about one percent of food shipments into the U.S. What can consumers do? Start yelling at your Senators and Representatives. This is one issue they are afraid to duck if the heat is on them. Second, buy from farmers and other producers near you, so you can skip the long chain of middlemen from China to your area who could have caught the problem but just pass the buck, so to speak.

Farmers markets from nearby farms are one way you can avoid contaminated imports.

Eighty percent of all children’s toys in America come from China. They come with too many hazards—burning, choking risks for small children, toxics in or on the toys. Some are recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. You can be automatically notified of all CPSC recalls by registering with

But, really, the fundamental responsibility here is with Beijing and Washington when careless or criminal companies fail their responsibilities. There needs to be a consumer safety treaty between the two countries where consumer needs are supreme.

Consumer groups and advocates in China need encouragement from their U.S. counterparts.

As far as those half a million or more replacement tires on the U.S. highways—already linked to two fatalities, the U.S. distributor in New Jersey says it doesn’t have enough money to recall them all. What about the Chinese exporter?

What is the U.S. Department of Transportation going to do about what will become more such defect-caused tragedies from a flood of auto parts and tires imported from China and other countries?

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

Reading the Tea Leaves by Stephen P. Pizzo

Be a Patriot (Don’t shop at Wal-Mart) (30 second video)

Olbermann: THOMAS THE TRAIN COVERED IN BRAIN DAMAGING LEAD PAINT! (vid) plus commentary by Lo (Playmobil Toys)

Why Is the Pet Food Industry Killing Our Pets? By Ann Martin

Pet Owners Making Own Dog and Cat Food By DORIE TURNER

Food Contamination – A Much Larger Set of Problems By Rowan Wolf


Ralph Nader

Refusenik: To Study This War No More by Chris Cook (IVAW)

Dandelion Salad

Monday, 09 July 2007
Chris Cook

Soldier in Iraq Refuses Combat Mission

On June 19, 26 year old SPC Eli Israel put himself at great personal risk by making the courageous decision to refuse further participation in the U.S. occupation of Iraq. Eli told his commanding officer and sergeants that he will no longer be a combatant in this illegal, unjustified war.

Eli believes that the U.S. government used the attacks of September 11, 2001 as a pretense to invade Iraq and that “we are now violating the people of this country (Iraq) in ways that we would never accept on our own soil.” Eli is stationed at Camp Victory in Baghdad with JVB Bravo Company, 1-149 Infantry of the Kentucky Army National Guard.

This soldier’s decision to refuse orders puts him at great risk, especially because he is in Iraq, isolated from legal assistance and other support. The following is a message that Eli sent yesterday to a friend back home:

“I have told them that I will no longer play a ‘combat role’ in this conflict or ‘protect corporate representatives,’ and they have taken this as ‘violating a direct order.’ I may be in jail or worse in the next 24 hours.

Please rally whoever you can, call whoever you can, bring as much attention to this as you can. I have no doubt that the military will bury me and hide the whole situation if they can. I’m in big trouble. I’m in the middle of Iraq, surrounded by people who are not on my side. Please help me. Please contact whoever you can, and tell them who I am, so I don’t ‘disappear.’”

Eli is taking an incredible risk by refusing orders in Iraq and will most likely be court martialed. Please help him by contacting his Senator and requesting that he take any steps necessary to support and protect this soldier and ensure that the Army respects his rights and does not illegally retaliate against him.

Senator Mitch McConnell:
Washington Office
361-A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: (202) 224-2541
Fax: (202) 224-2499

For an update on Eli Israel, click here

FAIR USE NOTICE: This blog may contain copyrighted material. Such material is made available for educational purposes, to advance understanding of human rights, democracy, scientific, moral, ethical, and social justice issues, etc. This constitutes a ‘fair use’ of any such copyrighted material as provided for in Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 of the US Copyright Law. This material is distributed without profit.

WHAT TO DO? WHAT TO DO? Taking Action In The Face Of Collapse By Carolyn Baker

Dandelion Salad

By Carolyn Baker
Tuesday, 10 July 2007

Every time I write an article on collapse such as my most recent one “Happy Independence Day; You Have No Government“, I am bombarded with emails asking me “what should I do?” For those who have just discovered this site, that is a legitimate question because for them, the reality of collapse may be new. Those who have been following this site for some time have heard many suggestions on what to do, but this article will offer those and other suggestions again more clearly and more adamantly than they have been offered here before. The intensity you are likely to hear in this piece is driven by the urgency which I and many of my peers are feeling at this moment. Quite frankly, it’s time to quit screwing around with talking about collapse and start acting. The Rubicon has been crossed, we’re not living in Kansas anymore, and we are living in the closest thing we’ve seen to pre-World War II Germany than anything since then. Suit up and stop theorizing and speculating. It’s showtime.

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Arturo Toscanini: Remembering the Maestro: Music Master, Anti-Fascist by Stephen Lendman

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by Stephen Lendman
Global Research, July 11, 2007

The term maestro means a “master” or “teacher” in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese. In English it refers to a distinguished musician or noted figure in any artistic field. Most often, however, it’s a term of respect for an eminent conductor of classical music. For this writer, the term applies to one great man above all others, and this year commemorates the 50th anniversary of his death – the incomparable Arturo Toscanini whose anti-fascism enhanced his musical prominence and is the reason for this article.

Here’s what former New York Times music critic Olin Downes once wrote about him: “Toscanini (had) unparalleled qualities as an interpreter. (His performances showed) profound intuition, abnormal concentration (and) consuming sincerity which make them what they are, and without a precise equivalent in any other conductor of which we know….People marvel at such physical as well as artistic capacity. Toscanini is a physical and mental phenomenon….(The) supreme….spirit of the sovereign artist….sustains him….Watch him as he walks slowly to the podium and mounts the stand. Then see what happens the instant he faces the orchestra, scoreless….taking command immediately with imperious authority and elan. A rock-ribbed steadfastness of tempo emanates from the baton….as the music ebbs and flows from this extraordinary blend of control and release…..Toscanini (is) like the invincible titan and warrior of the faith. (He’s) the great master, the ageless hero….the incorruptible and consummate artist (creating) art (that is) greater than man himself….And it is this….which makes his fellow-man his debtor.”

The Maestro was born in Parma, Italy March 25, 1867. He began his musical career as a cellist and debuted at age 19 as a conductor in Rio de Janeiro in 1886 when he was unexpectedly called on to substitute for the regular music director. Amazingly, he led the orchestra and cast in Verdi’s classic Aida from memory without ever before having done it. It changed his life and the operatic and symphonic world.

Toscanini was considered by many critics and fellow musicians the greatest conductor of his era, or any other, that lasted nearly seven decades from 1886 to his retirement in 1954 at age 86. His perfectionism was demanding and extraordinary and was aided by his phenomenal memory. He conducted all his concerts without scores, remembering every nuance of every note of every performance until once late in his life his memory faltered on April 4, 1954 at age 86. In mid-performance, he stopped conducting live on-air. He covered his eyes and the orchestra, so dependent on his leadership, at first fell silent. With help, he managed to finish the concert with the well-rehearsed orchestra leading their Maestro who led them for so many years. Before the concert’s end, Toscanini dropped his baton and left the stage. He never conducted in public again.

Toscanini’s musical genius had an enormously enriching influence on many, including this writer. It began a lifelong love for the classics that remains to this day and is still enjoyed in a large collection of old but very serviceable LP recordings of his operas and symphonic works.

The first ever bought is still the one most cherished – his classic 1946 recording of Puccini’s La Boheme with a distinguished cast. It was performed live to a worldwide audience on NBC Radio on two successive Sundays beginning 50 years and two days after he premiered it in the Regio Opera House in Turin, Italy for his friend and composer Giacomo Puccini. In the recorded performance, as in some others, Toscanini can be heard humming at several dramatic moments and at one stunning point sighing in an expression of deep emotion. Some critics said it detracted from the performance. Others, and this writer, felt it enriched the listening experience, making it special by glorifying and highlighting it. It made a lasting impact on listeners still remaining for this one over 60 years later.

Toscanini was more than a great music master. He was also uncompromisingly anti-fascist at a time of Mussolini’s rise to power in his native Italy in the 1920s followed by Hitler in 1930s Germany. Though non-political overall, throughout that period and during WW II, he was distinguished for his views as a symbol of freedom and humanity when so little of it existed at a time of global war on three continents. More on that below.

Throughout the late 19th century, Toscanini slowly built his reputation conducting in various concert halls throughout Italy. He directed the premiere performances of Leoncavallo’s Pagliacci in 1892 and La Boheme in 1896. He also directed the Italian premieres of Wagner’s Gotterdammerung in 1895 and Siegfried in 1899 at the famed La Scala opera house that first began operating two years after the United States declared its independence from the British Crown. During his illustrious career, he conducted throughout Europe, North and South America and became the principal conductor of the New York Metropolitan Opera in 1908, remaining there until 1915. In 1926, he debuted with the New York Philharmonic, became its co-conductor in 1927 and its principal music director in 1929.

While on tour in Bologna, Italy in 1931, he was assaulted by fascist thugs for his views, authorities temporarily confiscated his passport, and the Fascist party surrounded his Milan home with carabinieri. During the same period, he was constantly attacked by the Fascist press for his uncompromising views. As a result, Toscanini refused thereafter to conduct in Italy during Mussolini’s reign.

In 1933, he withdrew from Bayreuth after Hitler became German Chancellor in January that year. He even sent Hitler a personal telegram stating his views to which the German dictator responded by banning further sale or performance of his recordings. That same year his daughter, Wanda, married famed concert pianist Vladimir Horowitz who performed on-stage and in recordings many times with his renowned father-in-law. In the 1930s, Toscanini resigned from the New York Philharmonic to lead the Vienna Philmarmonic, later withdrawing from the Salzburg Festival in 1938 protesting Hitler’s Anschluss takeover of Austria in March that year.

Beginning with his first concert on Christmas Day, 1937, he began his association with the NBC Symphony, many of whose recordings this writer has and treasures as classics. Company president David Sarnoff created the orchestra expressly for the Maestro as an inducement for him to return to New York. He did and remained the orchestra’s conductor until his retirement in 1954.

Many critics and classical musicians regard the 1937 – 1954 17 year era as the golden age of symphonic music in America when Arturo Toscanini led the NBC Symphony throughout the period. His weekly concerts were held in NBC’s famed Studio 8-H in New York’s Rockefeller Center until the fall of 1950 when they were moved to Carnegie Hall for its superior acoustics.

A personal note: Live Sunday evening concerts were broadcast worldwide on NBC Radio, including 10 televised in the US from 1948 – 1952. They were held around the dinner hour in the 1940s and early 1950s. My mother introduced me to them. She played classical piano, listened when able, as did I as a young boy. It began a lifetime love for the classics and the Maestro’s incomparable performances that touched everyone hearing them. Toscanini’s uncompromising standards of excellence and relentless quest for perfection had a profound effect on his listeners. I’m one of them any time I choose from my large collection of his recordings. They preserve his music forever that’s as powerful and moving now as when first performed.

One other personal note: My mother’s love of great music was matched by her passion for learning. She pursued it and received her well-deserved degree along with her son in the same class of 1956, seven months before Toscanini’s death. It was the first time a mother and son ever graduated together in the 320 year history of the oldest higher institution of learning in the country. June 14, 1956 was her day. Her son just went along for the ride.

Toscanini the Anti-Fascist

As a conductor and anti-fascist, Toscanini was uncompromising. This section covers the political philosophy of a non-political man who was fiercely democratic. It emerged when the Maestro publicly denounced Benito Mussolini after he led his National Fascist Party’s march on Rome in October, 1922 declaring himself Il Duce or supreme leader. Toscanini thereafter refused to play the Fascist anthem Giovanezza he didn’t consider fit music and wanted nothing to do with the Fascist dictator.

When Italian King Emmanuel III declared himself Emperor of conquered Ethiopia in 1936, Toscanini wrote: “Cursed Rome. Mussolini, the Emperor-King, and the Pope. Pigs, all of them.” In a letter to Berlin in 1941, he wrote: “You are too poisoned by the atmosphere that surrounds you, you are all living now too much amid shame and dishonor, without showing any sign of rebellion, to be able to value people like me, who have remained and will remain above the mud, not to give it a worse name, that is drowning the Italians.”

Earlier in 1938, he wrote: “I’ve never been and will never be involved in politics; that is, I became involved only once in ’19, and for Mussolini and I repented….I’ve never taken part in Societies, either political or artistic….I’ve always believed only an individual can be a gentleman….Everyone ought to express his own opinion honestly and courageously, then dictators, criminals, wouldn’t last so long.”

In February, 1941 Toscanini intervened on behalf of fellow Italian and anti-fascist, Claudio Alcorso. He’d been arrested because of his nationality in allied Australia in July, 1940 and held for what became a bitter three and a half year confinement. It was because Australia judged Italians during the war the way the US viewed Japanese Americans. It made Alcorso believe “a dogmatic mentality was not the sole prerogative of German and Italian Fascists.” Toscanini’s efforts failed despite repeated efforts, though Alcorso was finally freed after Mussolini and his Fascist party fell in 1943.

While Mussolini ruled as Italy’s dictator, the Maestro refused to perform in his native country including at the famed Milan La Scala opera house. He publicly stated: “Never! I refuse to turn La Scala into a market place for Fascist demonstrations. They have the square outside and also the Galleria nearby for that, but while I conduct the Scala orchestra, it will remain the home of opera and never will it become a propaganda platform.” Mussolini gave his brazen response: “Never will my feet cross the threshold of La Scala until Toscanini, the anti-Fascist, goes from there. How dare he refuse to play Giovanezza (the Fascist anthem)?”

Toscanini condemned Mussolini for his comments telling La Scala’s directors: “I will conduct Giovanezza never and for nobody!” He stood resolute by his word. He deplored dictatorships and never played in Czarist or Stalinist Russia as well. He was an implacable enemy of tyranny. In Weimar pre-Hitler Germany, he was the first non-German to appear at the Wagner Festspielhaus in Bayreuth, but refused to return in 1933 after Hitler came to power. He denounced the Nazi’s treatment of Jewish musicians in protest. He also refused to conduct at Austria’s Salzburg Festival because noted Jewish conductor Bruno Walter’s performances there weren’t broadcast in Germany. Later in 1938 and 1939, he conducted, without compensation, at a Lucerne, Switzerland festival with an orchestra entirely composed of musicians who’d fled German persecution.

During WW II, Toscanini said: “Italy will certainly have a revolution as a result of the current war; the Allies will either favor and help it, or hinder it. The Allies’ attitude will determine whether the revolution will, or will not, result in an orderly democratic government….” If he were still living, Toscanini would be outspoken about today’s world and the ugliness Washington injects in it. He’d denounce fascism’s rise in America and the power of wealth and privilege driving it. He was a democrat and patriot whose influential views had weight.

Today the Mastro would be in the artistic forefront leading the struggle for the same freedoms he believed in when fascism earlier engulfed Europe, Asia and North Africa in its greatest of all wars. In words and stunning music, he’d be in the lead to prevent it happening again so the spirit of equity, social justice and peace on earth could prevail for all above the darkness of tyranny now threatening everyone in the age of George Bush’s America.

Toscanini conducted his last concert on April 4, 1954 as mentioned above. Always one to surprise (as he did two and a half months earlier choosing Un Ballo in maschera over Rigoletto for his final opera performance), he eschewed his native Italy and chose an all-Wagner program for the occasion. He died of a stroke at age 89 on January 16, 1957. His extraordinary music and democratic spirit are sorely missed but not forgotten.

Throughout the year, many Toscanini commemorative concerts and events were and are still being held in the US, his native Italy and elsewhere. Most notable was the New York Public Library’s showcase exhibition of rare Library material on the Maestro’s legacy that ran from February 21 through May 25, 2007. It was called Arturo Toscanini: Homage to the Maestro. It included rare rehearsal and performance recordings and unique documents on Toscanini’s multifaceted persona. Among items on exhibit were photographs, annotated scores, letters, and many seldom ever seen unpublished materials donated by the Toscanini family to the Library’s Music Division. Through these and other documents, the Maestro’s memory, spirit and music remains alive.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at .

Also visit his blog site at and listen to The Steve Lendman News and Information Hour on Saturdays at noon US central time.

Stephen Lendman is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Stephen Lendman


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