Everything is Broken: Money Power and the Minneapolis Bridge by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

Written by Chris Floyd
Friday, 03 August 2007

Ain’t no use jivin’
Ain’t no use jokin’
Everything is broken.
— Bob Dylan

Anyone of a certain age — and not a very great one at that — knows perfectly well from their own experience how the country’s infrastructure has been allowed to wither and rot over the past three decades. They can see with their own eyes how the absolute ascendancy of crony capitalism — the rigged “free market” feasting on gargantuan pork and sweetheart laws laid out by well-bribed pols — has transformed the country into an ugly, crumbling, slap-dash monoculture laid over broken roads, abandoned cities and hard, harsh lives. As Dylan put it in a recent interview:

Well, America’s a different place than it was when those [older] records were made. It was more like Europe used to be, where every territory was different — every country was different, every state was different. A different culture, different architecture, different food. You could go 100 miles in the States and it would be like going from Stalingrad to Paris or something. It’s just not that way anymore. It’s all homogenized. People wear the same clothes, eat the same food, think the same things.

And one of the “same things” they think is that the brutal ascendancy of Money Power is just the natural order of things, that there’s nothing to be done about it: you just vote for one slickly earnest Bible-quoting goober after another, knowing all the while that he will steer the contracts for roads and bridges and sewer pipes and health inspections and safety checks and schools and hospitals to some crony or contributor who will cut every corner he can to fill his pockets. What does he care? He’ll take a helicopter, he doesn’t need the highway. He’s got the finest doctors on call, his house is custom-made, his children go to the best private schools, and if one of the meat-packing plants he and his fellow venture capitalists own blows up and kills a bunch of locked-in workers, so what? The insurance will cover it, and if it doesn’t, you can just slice and dice another deal to get an extra wad: maybe some crony pol will sell you the city water system for peanuts, and you can jack up the rates.


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.

First Armed Robots on Patrol in Iraq By Noah Shachtman + Robot/SWORDS (video)

Dandelion Salad

By Noah Shachtman
August 02, 2007

Robots have been roaming the streets of Iraq, since shortly after the war began. Now, for the first time — the first time in any warzone — the machines are carrying guns.

After years of development, three “special weapons observation remote reconnaissance direct action system” (SWORDS) robots have deployed to Iraq, armed with M249 machine guns. The ‘bots “haven’t fired their weapons yet,” Michael Zecca, the SWORDS program manager, tells DANGER ROOM. “But that’ll be happening soon.”

The SWORDS — modified versions of bomb-disposal robots used throughout Iraq — were first declared ready for duty back in 2004. But concerns about safety kept the robots from being sent over the the battlefield. The machines had a tendency to spin out of control from time to time. That was an annoyance during ordnance-handling missions; no one wanted to contemplate the consequences during a firefight.

So the radio-controlled robots were retooled, for greater safety. In the past, weak signals would keep the robots from getting orders for as much as eight seconds — a significant lag during combat. Now, the SWORDS won’t act on a command, unless it’s received right away. A three-part arming process — with both physical and electronic safeties — is required before firing. Most importantly, the machines now come with kill switches, in case there’s any odd behavior. “So now we can kill the unit if it goes crazy,” Zecca says.

As initially reported in National Defense magazine, only three of the robots are currently in Iraq. Zecca says he’s ready to send more, “but we don’t have the money. It’s not a priority for the Army, yet.” He believes that’ll change, once the robots begin getting into firefights.

UPDATE: If you’re looking for a little robo war porn, here’s Future Weapons’ segment on the ‘bot…


February 22, 2007

(High five: DT)

h/t: Speaking Truth to Power

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.

Bush’s Executive Order on Lebanon Even Worse than the One on Iraq By Matthew Rothschild

Dandelion Salad

By Matthew Rothschild
August 3, 2007

George W. Bush is churning out executive orders and Presidential directives just as fast as Dick Cheney’s lawyers can fill up yellow legal pads.

The power that he is asserting—no, grabbing—with these executive orders is astonishing and alarming. Such power imperils our liberties and our democratic system of government.

Two weeks ago, Bush issued an extraordinary executive order entitled, “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq.”

It gives to the Secretary of the Treasury the authority to freeze the property of people who are engaging in violence or who “pose a significant risk” of engaging in violence against the Iraqi government or the economic and reconstruction plan for Iraq.

It also bans donations of “food, clothing, and medicine, intended to be used to relieve human suffering” to anyone whose property has been frozen.

On August 1, Bush issued a similar executive order, this one entitled, “Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions.”

Syrian meddling in Lebanon constitutes an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States,” Bush asserted, adding, “I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.”

This executive order is even more sweeping.

Where the one on Iraq applies to people who engage in violent acts or pose a significant risk of engaging in violent acts, this one doesn’t even bother to limit it to that. Anyone who engages in any act—violent or nonviolent—against the government of Lebanon can now have his or her property frozen.

And it also gives the Treasury Secretary the authority to freeze the assets of “a spouse or dependent child” of any person whose property is frozen.

What’s next? Impounding the family dog?

The executive order on Lebanon also bans food, medicine, and humanitarian aid to anyone whose property is frozen—and that includes the “dependent child” mentioned above.

Representative Dennis Kucinich denounced the new executive order as “reckless and dangerous.” He said it is part of a strategy to “generate more turmoil” in the Middle East.

And amass more power in the Executive Branch.

h/t: ICH

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.


Executive Order: Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions by George Bush (Aug. 1, 2007

Nightmare on Main Street: More on Bush’s Anti-Dissent Order by Chris Floyd

Executive Order: Blocking Property of Persons Undermining the Sovereignty of Lebanon or Its Democratic Processes and Institutions by George Bush (Aug. 1, 2007)

They keep on coming. He’s not going to stop. IMPEACH! ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

White House

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 et seq.)(IEEPA), the National Emergencies Act (50 U.S.C. 1601 et seq.)(NEA), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code,

I, GEORGE W. BUSH, President of the United States of America, determine that the actions of certain persons to undermine Lebanon’s legitimate and democratically elected government or democratic institutions, to contribute to the deliberate breakdown in the rule of law in Lebanon, including through politically motivated violence and intimidation, to reassert Syrian control or contribute to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or to infringe upon or undermine Lebanese sovereignty contribute to political and economic instability in that country and the region and constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat.

I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) Except to the extent provided in section 203(b)(1), (3), and (4) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(1), (3), and (4)), or in regulations, orders, directives, or licenses that may be issued pursuant to this order, and notwithstanding any contract entered into or any license or permit granted prior to the date of this order, all property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person, including any overseas branch, of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in:

(i) any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(A) to have taken, or to pose a significant risk of taking, actions, including acts of violence, that have the purpose or effect of undermining Lebanon’s democratic processes or institutions, contributing to the breakdown of the rule of law in Lebanon, supporting the reassertion of Syrian control or otherwise contributing to Syrian interference in Lebanon, or infringing upon or undermining Lebanese sovereignty;

(B) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services in support of, such actions, including acts of violence, or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

(C) to be a spouse or dependent child of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(D) to be owned or controlled by, or acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order.

(b) I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to paragraph (a) of this section would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by paragraph (a) of this section.

(c) The prohibitions in paragraph (a) of this section include but are not limited to (i) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order, and (ii) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.

Sec. 2. (a) Any transaction by a United States person or within the United States that evades or avoids, has the purpose of evading or avoiding, or attempts to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

(b) Any conspiracy formed to violate any of the prohibitions set forth in this order is prohibited.

Sec. 3. For the purposes of this order:

(a) the term “person” means an individual or entity;

(b) the term “entity” means a partnership, association, trust, joint venture, corporation, group, subgroup, or other organization; and

(c) the term “United States person” means any United States citizen, permanent resident alien, entity organized under the laws of the United States or any jurisdiction within the United States (including foreign branches), or any person in the United States.

Sec. 4. For those persons whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order who might have a constitutional presence in the United States, I find that, because of the ability to transfer funds or other assets instantaneously, prior notice to such persons of measures to be taken pursuant to this order would render these measures ineffectual. I therefore determine that, for these measures to be effective in addressing the national emergency declared in this order, there need be no prior notice of a listing or determination made pursuant to section 1 of this order.

Sec. 5. The Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to take such actions, including the promulgation of rules and regulations, and to employ all powers granted to the President by IEEPA, as may be necessary to carry out the purposes of this order. The Secretary of the Treasury may redelegate any of these functions to other officers and agencies of the United States Government, consistent with applicable law. All agencies of the United States Government are hereby directed to take all appropriate measures within their authority to carry out the provisions of this order and, where appropriate, to advise the Secretary of the Treasury in a timely manner of the measures taken. The Secretary of the Treasury shall ensure compliance with those provisions of section 401 of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641) applicable to the Department of the Treasury in relation to this order.

Sec. 6. The Secretary of the Treasury, after consultation with the Secretary of State, is hereby authorized to submit the recurring and final reports to the Congress on the national emergency declared in this order, consistent with section 401(c) of the NEA (50 U.S.C. 1641(c)) and section 204(c) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1703(c)).

Sec. 7. This order is not intended to create, nor does it create, any right, benefit, or privilege, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, instrumentalities, or entities, its officers or employees, or any other person.

August 1, 2007.

h/t: ICH


Message to the Congress of the US Regarding International Emergency Economic Powers Act + Executive Order: Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq by George Bush

Nightmare on Main Street: More on Bush’s Anti-Dissent Order by Chris Floyd

What the Gulf Arms Sale Really Means By Liam Bailey


By Liam Bailey
featured writer
Dandelion Salad

Although official figures have yet to be given, reports indicate that the proposed U.S. arms sale to several Gulf Arab nations will be between $5 billion and $20 billion. The countries to receive U.S. arms are Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman.

U.S. military aid to Israel is to increase from $2.4 billion to $3 billion dollars a year, in a newly announced $30 billion ten year package. Neighbouring Arab states that have signed peace treaties and have normalized relations with Israel, namely Egypt and Jordan are to receive $13 billion over the same period.

Though there have been angry opinion articles in the Israeli press, the Israeli government says it understands the sales are to counteract Iran’s growing military might and regional influence. That is undoubtedly one of the reasons, but not the only one.

For much the same reason as above shortly after the Islamic regime swept to power in Iran in 1979, the U.S. and the west supported Saddam Hussein after his offensive war on Iran became defensive: because they feared that an extremist Shiite Iranian government would take Iraq and threaten the vital oil reserves of the Middle East. But why is it necessary to arm the Arab states now, when the U.S. army is in Iraq, preventing Iran taking the country let alone advancing into the Middle East proper?

The U.S. announcing such a massive arms sale to the Arab states, which has been long opposed by the U.S.’ main ally in the region — Israel — suggests that a U.S. pullout from Iraq could be closer than Bush wants to admit.

Iraq is a predominantly Shiite state and Iran is not without influence in southern Iraq’s Shiite communities, powerful militias and even the U.S. imposed Shiite government. There has long been talk of Iran’s involvement on the Shiite side of Iraq’s sectarian violence, as there has been talk of Saudi and other Arab state’s involvement in it on the Sunni side. For the U.S. to add $20 billion worth of fuel to that proxy fire also suggests their troops will be out of the way when the proverbial **** hits the fan.

Now, the other story in the region at the moment — relating to the arms sale — is the new momentum behind resolving the Arab-Israeli conflict, with widespread reports that Bush is determined to force both sides into agreement before he leaves office early 2009. According to most analysts the Arab Peace initiative still offers the best chance of such a resolution, not least because it supersedes the Hamas-Fatah power-struggle — both support the initiative.

The Arab Peace initiative offers Israel normalized relations with all Arab (League) states, which should be a guarantee of Israeli security, in return for their withdrawal to the pre-1967 borders (returning Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem to Palestinian control), and finding a just solution to the refugee issue.

Returning the land, especially even part of Jerusalem, which is an equally holy city for both Arab and Jew (hence their history of brutal wars over it), is a hard pill for the Israeli government to swallow, and harder to sell to their population, especially since Israel’s military strength and reputation for brutal retaliation and collective punishment has all but guaranteed Israeli security already.

Israel has won four wars with its surrounding Arab neighbours, two of those without U.S. help. Since the U.S. started its support of Israel they have become the strongest military power in the region by far. The proposed arms sale changes that, as part of Bush’s strategy to resolve the conflict as his legacy.

For a start the sale will make the Israeli population feel threatened for the first time in over two decades. It will make the Arab states a possible threat to Israel again, and at an ideal time. With Olmert struggling to stay in power he may feel pressured to accept the Arab initiative, return the Palestinian land and adequately compensate the refugees to guarantee the security of a suddenly threatened population.

For once Bush may have got something right. The arms sale, Olmert’s dwindling popularity and a U.S. administration determined to resolve the conflict pronto, combine to make this conflict look a lot closer to finally being resolved. All eyes will be on the proposed peace conference later this year — mine included.

Liam Bailey is a U.K. freelance journalist. He writes regularly for the Palestine Chronicle, Arabic Media Internet Network and is an advanced blogger on the Washington Post’s Post Global. He runs the War Pages blog and you can contact him at: wordsworth22@tesco.net

King Hemp Part 3: We Got Mugged, So Let’s Get Hemp Back By Rand Clifford

Dandelion Salad

By Rand Clifford
crossposted at Thomas Paine’s Corner

Prohibition of cannabis hemp was a mugging, a twisted and diabolical assault on the rights, health and well-being of Americans unparalleled in our history for sheer scope of lasting impact. Never has brazen self interest cost so many people so much for so long. And the number of entrenched industries with profits threatened by hemp have greatly multiplied in number, and political influence.

Continue reading

Good news from Baghdad at last: the oil law has stalled By Jonathan Steele

Dandelion Salad

The panic and distraction of the security crisis should not be used as cover for handing Iraq’s wealth to foreigners

By Jonathan Steele
08/03/07 “
The Guardian

Glad tidings from Baghdad at last. The Iraqi parliament has gone into summer recess without passing the oil law that Washington was pressing it to adopt. For the Bush administration this is irritating, since passage of the law was billed as a “benchmark” in its battle to get Congress not to set a timetable for US troop withdrawals. The political hoops through which the government of Nouri al-Maliki has been asked to jump were meant to be a companion piece to the US “surge”. Just as General David Petraeus, the current US commander, is due to give his report on military progress next month, George Bush is supposed to tell Congress in mid-September how the Maliki government is moving forward on reform.

The signs are that, on both fronts, the administration will carry on playing for time. Bush and his officials are already suggesting they will maintain the surge for another year, and that Petraeus’s report will merely be an interim score card. It will not use the fateful Vietnam-era language of light at the end of the tunnel, but it will say progress is under way and therefore more congressional patience is needed.

Similarly Ryan Crocker, the US ambassador in Baghdad, is playing down the urgency of the benchmarks. He has reminded the US media that Congress can take years to make reforms on complex issues such as immigration and healthcare. He argues it is unfair to expect the Iraqi parliament to do everything as fast as outsiders might wish.

That said, the administration – particularly the vice-president, Dick Cheney – and the oil lobby are enraged that the oil law is stalled. The main reason is not that the Iraqi government and parliament are a lazy bunch of Islamist incompetents or narrow-minded sectarians, as is often implied. MPs are studying the law more carefully, and have begun to see it as a major threat to Iraq’s national interest regardless of people’s religion or sect.


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.

Alberto Gonzales and Coup Against Democracy By Ramzy Baroud

Dandelion Salad
By Ramzy Baroud
08/03/07 “ICH

The name of Alberto Gonzales is rapidly becoming synonymous with all that has gone wrong under the Bush administration. Repeated media discussions of the US Secretary of State in the most contentious tones have served to lay the blame for all the ailments that infected American democracy under Bush squarely on one man’s shoulders.

President Bush himself, Gonzales’ loyal boss, friend and the hand behind all the stunts and tricks that Gonzales so indefatigably performed to defend and justify the unjustifiable, remains immune to any meaningful criticism.

Bush is well known for his habit of awarding sensitive posts to old friends, as if the prime objective of the president of the United States is to protect the administration’s secrets and rubber stamp whatever compulsive policies he and his self-serving neoconservative associates concoct. Although appointed to the post in February 2005, Gonzales has been a member of Bush’s team for years; he served as Bush’s General Counsel from 1994 to 1997, when the president was governor of Texas. Then, he served as Secretary of State for Texas for two years, before going on to join the state’s Supreme Court. Finally he worked with Bush again for five consecutive years as White House Counsel. Considering the president’s reputation of favouritism and staunch loyalty to those faithful to him, Gonzales’ ascension to the 80th Attorney General of the United States, replacing John Ashcroft, only seemed a natural progression.

True, Bush’s loyalty cannot be contested; however, it is really the only attitude that can be expected of him towards individuals with too much knowledge of sensitive matters that he wouldn’t desire to become public. Gonzales’ successful, albeit illegal, efforts to help Governor Bush be excused from jury duty in 1996 (made possible by the convenient overlooking of the 1976 misdemeanour drunk driving case) is merely the tip of the iceberg. While the latter was exposed during the 2000 presidential campaign, there are many facts which can easily be deduced to fall in the realm of ‘known unknowns’, to borrow a favourite term of former Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.

While the Bush administration had innumerable spin doctors, Gonzales was the man who knew the law well and thus knew how to manipulate it well. He played a major role in abusing the same laws that he once vowed to safeguard; the total politicization of the Justice Department and the dismissal of the eight attorneys who had the courage to question the constitutionality of the administration’s conduct in December 2006.

Perhaps Gonzales’ unwarranted acts have generated a lot more attention in the last a few months as both Democrats and Republicans are in need of a punching bag, where Bush and Cheney have proved untouchable. Another reason could be that Gonzales’ past legal concoctions were justified as part of the administration’s ‘war on terror’: so what if Gonzales had to circumvent national and international law – repeatedly and unabashedly – to ‘save American lives’?

And circumvent the law Gonzales most certainly did. Starting with the drafting of Executive Order 13233 in November 1, 2001, which restricted the Freedom of Information Act, and thus access to records of former presidents – to his arguments that effectively cancelled Article III of the Geneva Convention, denying suspected al-Qaeda and Taliban militants held in Camp X-Ray the right to be treated as combatants – to his re-interpretation of the principles of the Geneva Convention that made possible the case for the torture and humiliation of Iraqis and others. Gonzales’ role in the Bush administration’s war on democracy at home, and his imperial war abroad, is unquestionable.

Gonzales is still around precisely because of this role, not in spite of it.

Gonzales’ July 24 appearance before the Senate’s Judiciary Committee was a disgrace by any standards. Even Republican members of the committee rightly doubted the man’s integrity, and the testimony made by a Gonzales subordinate, FBI Director Robert Mueller, contradicted his boss’ own accounts. Members of both parties are now up in arms; Republicans fear that Gonzales’ sinking reputation will harm their political positions further, and Democrats, not daring to take on the President himself, are instead confronting a man who was merely responsible for providing the legal wrapping for the administration’s illegal acts.

Tom Raum, an analyst with the Associated Press, reasoned that Bush continues to stand by discredited Gonzales because his advisors “are mindful of the fact that it could be next to impossible to win Senate confirmation this late in his term for any possible replacement.” Indeed, the department’s No.2, Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty has just resigned; his decision is attributed to his role in the dismissal of the dissenting attorneys; another, William Mercer, withdrew his nomination for the department’s third-highest job in June, knowing fully that his nomination would be rejected by the Senate, according to the New York Times’ Philip Shenon and Jim Rutenberg. They quote Rich Galen, a GOP consultant: “There is a body of thought among Republicans that gives Gonzales great credit for drawing fire and putting up with it so the others in the Bush Cabinet can do their jobs. Because, if Gonzales is gone, they (Democrats) will just look for a new guy to go after.”

Whether or not Democrats find their “new guy”, the horrific violations of international human rights and of the US constitution will continue unabated, further ravaging the standing of the oldest Republic, and turning into shreds a democratic system that was once a torch of hope to aspiring democracies everywhere.

Ramzy Baroud is a Palestinian-American author and editor of www.PalestineChronicle.com  . His work has been published in numerous newspapers and journals worldwide, including the Washington Post, Al Ahram Weekly, Le Monde Diplomatique and Japan Times. His latest book is The Second Palestinian Intifada: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London). Read more about him on his website: www.ramzybaroud.net

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.

Caught on Tape! – The Plot to Bury Progress – Conservative Obstruction (video; dramatization)

Dandelion Salad

August 03, 2007

Visit http://www.ourfuture.org to stand up to the conservative minority burying progress in Congress. (www.ourfuture.org is the home of Campaign for America’s Future.)

No progress on ending the war.
No progress on new energy.
No progress on health care costs.
Why is the new Congress gridlocked?!

Take Action

Israel’s Jewish problem in Tehran By Jonathan Cook

Dandelion Salad

So why hasn’t Iran started by wiping its own Jews off the map?

By Jonathan Cook
08/03/07 “ICH

Iran is the new Nazi Germany and its president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the new Hitler. Or so Israeli officials have been declaring for months as they and their American allies try to persuade the doubters in Washington that an attack on Tehran is essential. And if the latest media reports are to be trusted, it looks like they may again be winning the battle for hearts and minds: Vice-President Dick Cheney is said to be diverting the White House back on track to launch a military strike.

Earlier this year Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel’s opposition leader and the man who appears to be styling himself scaremonger-in-chief, told us: “It’s 1938 and Iran is Germany. And Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs.” Of Ahmadinejad, he said: “He is preparing another Holocaust for the Jewish state.”

A few weeks ago, as Israel’s military intelligence claimed — as it has been doing regularly since the early 1990s — that Iran is only a year or so away from the “point of no return” on developing a nuclear warhead, Netanyahu was at it again. “Iran could be the first undeterrable nuclear power,” he warned, adding: “This is a Jewish problem like Hitler was a Jewish problem … The future of the Jewish people depends on the future of Israel.”

But Netanyahu has been far from alone in making extravagant claims about a looming genocide from Iran. Israel’s new president, Shimon Peres, has compared an Iranian nuclear bomb to a “flying concentration camp.” And the prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told a German newspaper last year: “[Ahmadinejad] speaks as Hitler did in his time of the extermination of the entire Jewish nation.”

There is an interesting problem with selling the “Iran as Nazi Germany” line. If Ahmadinejad really is Hitler, ready to commit genocide against Israel’s Jews as soon as he can get his hands on a nuclear weapon, why are some 25,000 Jews living peacefully in Iran and more than reluctant to leave despite repeated enticements from Israel and American Jews?

What is the basis for Israel’s dire forecasts — the ideological scaffolding being erected, presumably, to justify an attack on Iran? Helpfully, as George Bush defended his Iraq policies last month, he reminded us yet again of the menace Iran supposedly poses: it is “threatening to wipe Israel off the map”.

This myth has been endlessly recycled since a translating error was made of a speech Ahmadinejad delivered nearly two years ago. Farsi experts have verified that the Iranian president, far from threatening to destroy Israel, was quoting from an earlier speech by the late Ayatollah Khomeini in which he reassured supporters of the Palestinians that “the Zionist regime in Jerusalem” would “vanish from the page of time”.

He was not threatening to exterminate Jews or even Israel. He was comparing Israel’s occupation of the Palestinians with other illegitimate systems of rule whose time had passed, including the Shahs who once ruled Iran, apartheid South Africa and the Soviet empire. Nonetheless, this erroneous translation has survived and prospered because Israel and her supporters have exploited it for their own crude propaganda purposes.

In the meantime, the 25,000-strong Iranian Jewish community is the largest in the Middle East outside Israel and traces its roots back 3,000 years. As one of several non-Muslim minorities in Iran, Jews there suffer discrimination, but they are certainly no worse off than the one million Palestinian citizens of Israel — and far better off than Palestinians under Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza.

Iranian Jews have little influence on decision-making and are not allowed to hold senior posts in the army or bureaucracy. But they enjoy many freedoms. They have an elected representative in parliament, they practice their religion openly in synagogues, their charities are funded by the Jewish diaspora, and they can travel freely, including to Israel. In Tehran there are six kosher butchers and about 30 synagogues. Ahmadinejad’s office recently made a donation to a Jewish hospital in Tehran.

As Ciamak Moresadegh, an Iranian Jewish leader, observed: “If you think Judaism and Zionism are one, it is like thinking Islam and the Taliban are the same, and they are not.” Iran’s leaders denounce Zionism, which they blame for fueling discrimination against the Palestinians, but they have also repeatedly avowed that they have no problem with Jews, Judaism or even the state of Israel. Ahmadinejad, caricatured as a merchant of genocide, has in fact called for ‘regime change’ — and then only in the sense that he believes a referendum should be held of all inhabitants of Israel and the occupied territories, including refugees from war, on the nature of the government.

Despite the absence of any threat to Iran’s Jews, the Israeli media recently reported that the Israeli government has been trying to find new ways to entice Iranian Jews to Israel. The Ma’ariv newspaper pointed out that previous schemes had found few takers. There was, noted the report, “a lack of desire on the part of thousands of Iranian Jews to leave”. According to the New York-based Forward newspaper, a campaign to convince Iranian Jews to emigrate to Israel caused only 152 out of these 25,000 Jews to leave Iran between October 2005 and September 2006, and most of them were said to have emigrated for economic reasons, not political ones.

To step up these efforts — and presumably to avoid the embarrassing incongruence of claiming an imminent second Holocaust while thousands of Jews live happily in Tehran — Israel is now backing a move by Jewish donors to guarantee every Iranian Jewish family $60,000 to settle in Israel, in addition to a host of existing financial incentives that are offered to Jewish immigrants, including loans and cheap mortgages.

The announcement was met with scorn by the Society of Iranian Jews, which issued a statement that their national identity was not for sale. “The identity of Iranian Jews is not tradeable for any amount of money. Iranian Jews are among the most ancient Iranians. Iran’s Jews love their Iranian identity and their culture, so threats and this immature political enticement will not achieve their aim of wiping out the identity of Iranian Jews.”

However, this financial gesture may not only be unwelcome but self-fulfilling too, if past experience is the yardstick. Israel introduced a similar scheme a few years ago, when Argentina’s economy plunged into deep recession, broadcasting an offer of $20,000 to every Jew who settled in Israel. Months later the Israeli media reported a rise in anti-Semitic attacks in Argentina, only adding to the pressure on Jews there to leave. Of course, there was no mention of a possible causal connection between the attacks and Israel’s generous offer to Jews to abandon their homeland as other Argentinians sank into poverty.

But if financial enticements — and a possible popular backlash — fail to move Iranian Jews, there is good reason to fear that Israel may resort to other, more dubious ways of encouraging them to emigrate. That is certainly a path Israel has chosen before with other communities of Arab Jews, whom it has regarded either as a pool of potential spies and agents provocateurs to be used when needed or as “human dust”, in the words of Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben Gurion, to be recruited to Israel’s “demographic battle” against the Palestinians.

In “Operation Susannah” of 1954, for example, Israel recklessly recruited a group of Egyptian Jews to stage a series of explosions in Egypt in a bid to discourage Britain from withdrawing from the Suez Canal zone. When the plot came to light, it naturally cast a shadow of disloyalty over Egypt’s wider Jewish community. Following Israel’s invasion and occupation of Sinai two years later, the government of Gamal Abdel Nasser expelled some 25,000 Egyptian Jews and, after others were imprisoned on suspicion of spying, the rest soon left.

Even more notoriously, Israel went to greater lengths to ensure the exit of the Arab world’s largest Jewish population, in Iraq. In 1950 a series of bombs targeted on Jews in Baghdad forced a rapid exodus of some 130,000 Iraqi Jews to Israel, convinced that Arab extremists were behind the attacks. Only later did it emerge that the bombs had been planted by members of the Zionist underground, supported by the Israeli government.

Now, Iran’s Jews may find themselves treated in much the same manner — as simple human fodder. Stories are growing of Israel exploiting the free movement between Iran and Israel enjoyed by Iranian Jews and their Israeli relatives to carry out spying operations on Iran’s nuclear programme. Such reports have come from reliable sources such as the American investigative journalist Seymour Hersh, citing US government officials.

The fallout from such actions is not difficult to predict. Besieged by the US and the international community, Tehran is cracking down on dissent and minority groups, fearful that its own grip on power is shaky and that the well-publicised subversion being carried out by US and Israeli agents is likely only to be stepped up. So far most officials in Tehran have been careful to avoid suggesting that Iran’s Jews have double loyalties, as has the local Jewish community itself, both of them aware of Israel’s interests in provoking such a confrontation. But as the strains increase, and Israel’s need to prove Tehran’s genocidal intent grows ever stronger, that policy may end up being forfeited — and with it the future of Iran’s Jews.

More important than the welfare of Iranian Jewish families, it seems, is the value of Iranian Jews as a propaganda tool in Israel’s battle to persuade the world that coexistence with the Muslim world is impossible. For those who want to engineer a clash of civilizations, the 3,000-year-old Jewish legacy in Iran is not something to be treasured, only another obstacle to war.

Jonathan Cook, a journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, is the author of Blood and Religion: The Unmasking of the Jewish and Democratic State (Pluto Press). His website is http://www.jkcook.net

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.

Britain: Recruiting Kids to Kill by Felicity Arbuthnot

Dandelion Salad

by Felicity Arbuthnot
Global Research, August 3, 2007

Britain’s new Prime Minister, Gordon Brown announced a ‘war on poverty’ at the United Nations on 31st July, aiming to: ‘..eradicate the great evils of our time – illiteracy, disease, poverty, environmental degradation and underdevelopment’. This from the man who failed to mention exactly that, which he had been responsible for, in Iraq and Afghanistan’s invasions – for which, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, he had written the cheques for the UK’s involvement, in the total decimation of all which can be called normality. Those elephants in the Bush-Brown meeting at Camp David and at Brown’s UN., foray, were seemingly un-noticed; the horrors air-brushed out.

Brown of course stayed silent, both in opposition and since becoming Chancellor in 1997, at one of ‘the great evils of our time’, the silent holocaust which was the thirteen year embargo on Iraq – and there has not been a squeak from him over what one could be forgiven for thinking has become a genocide since the 2003 illegal invasion. What else can describe a possible million dead and four million displaced and one third of the country in absolute poverty? There has not been a glimmer of compassion from a man who suffered the agony of watching a baby of his own lose her fight for life, not a spark of empathy of the searing grief of others, from a man whose small son suffers a serious health condition – for whom he can demand the best treatment, whilst in Iraq, Afghanistan and Palestine, parents watch in helpless heartbreak and trauma, because little or none is available.

The man who wants to ‘..eradicate the great evils of our time ..’ is especially focused on Africa (in a patronizing hark back to the ‘penny for a black baby’, sort of way) so presumably is against that rife in parts of that continent, one of the world’s great shames, child soldiers. Listen out then.His predecessor Tony (‘I’m a pretty straight sort of guy’) Blair and now Brown preside over the only country in the European Union, where it is legal for the armed forces to recruit under eighteens. Further, recruiters arrive at schools unannounced to the pupils, on recruiting drives at periods such as assembly, where attendance is compulsory and sanctions can be taken against them for leaving in protest, since they can be accused of truancy, ‘bunking off’. In the UK children of sixteen can be recruited, an age too young to legally drive a car, drink a pint, or have a credit card. School Students Against the War (ssaw.org.uk) are a vibrant, informed organization, growing across the U.K.. and have launched a campaign in response: ‘Troops Out of Our Schools – Troops Out of Iraq’. SSAW’s Sam Fairburn says they ‘ demand students right to attend school without fear of being recruited into a discredited government’s killing machine.’

This fear is well founded since, state SSAW : ‘Recruiters typically target economically deprived areas’, with little hope of meaningful – if any -employment. Moreover, via the school Cadet Forces, children as young (and impressionable) as twelve are subject to the forces recruitment officers sales pitch. In Gordon Brown’s native Scotland, the Scottish Teaching Union has passed a Motion demanding the end of recruitment in schools.

In a shameful, shocking allied development, SSAW have discovered that the Ministry of Defense has employed an agency called ‘Kids Connections’, to write forty lesson plans for use in UK schools this September, entitled: ‘The Defense Dynamics Project’. A plan which is: ‘ A blatant propaganda exercise justifying the invasions and occupation of Iraq.’

SSAW point out that: ‘Included in their ‘Fact Sheet’ about Iraq is the following: “Over 150 healthcare facilities completed and many more are in progress. 20 hospitals rehabilitated. 750 nurses trained in maternal and child health services. Immunization programmed re-started in 2003.” ‘The real facts are to be found in the report released this week by the NGO Coordination Committee in Iraq (made up of 80 international NGO’s, 200 Iraqi NGO’s and supported by OXFAM) which states: “4 million Iraqis are ‘food-insecure’ and in dire need of humanitarian assistance.

More than 2 million people are displaced inside Iraq and over 2 million have fled abroad, the fastest growing refugee crisis in the world. Child malnutrition has risen from 19% before the US-led invasion in 2003 to 28% now. OF 180 HOSPITALS COUNTRYWIDE – 90% LACK KEY RESOURCES INCLUDING BASIC MEDICAL AND SURGICAL SUPPLIES.’ Media queries addressed to Kids Connections were referred to the Ministry of Defense. THE M.O.D., asked into what part of the curriculum the Defense

Dynamics Project would be slotted (citizenship? colonialism? popular mechanics? target practice?) the response was that it was: ‘ mapped to support various subjects across the curriculum, including English, maths and science.’ SSAW are organizing a picket outside Kids Connections at 2pm August 2nd., and handing in a letter, signed by veteran former M.P., author and broadcaster Tony Benn and Stop the War Convener, Lindsey German, demanding that Kids Connections terminate their links with the Ministry of Defense and that the Defense Dynamics Project not be introduced in to schools. For those who are inclined to picket or express their views in writing, Kids Connections are at : 114-118 Parkway, Camden Town, London, NWI. SSAW also has a petition to end recruiting in schools to be presented to Downing Street in October.To add your name visit their website and click on ‘Resources’. The shame of Britiain’s child soldiers must be ended.
Felicity Arbuthnot is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Felicity Arbuthnot

To become a Member of Global Research

The CRG grants permission to cross-post original Global Research articles on community internet sites as long as the text & title are not modified. The source and the author’s copyright must be displayed. For publication of Global Research articles in print or other forms including commercial internet sites, contact: crgeditor@yahoo.com

www.globalresearch.ca contains copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. We are making such material available to our readers under the provisions of “fair use” in an effort to advance a better understanding of political, economic and social issues. The material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving it for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material for purposes other than “fair use” you must request permission from the copyright owner.

For media inquiries: crgeditor@yahoo.com
© Copyright Felicity Arbuthnot, Global Research, 2007

The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=6459

Olbermann: Sir Elton John Wants to shut down the INTERNETS (video; CPDRC inmates)

Dandelion Salad

Aug. 2, 2007

I guess Sir Elton doesn’t like the Internet. He thinks its bad for creativity and is full of too much mischief. Thinks it will lead to trouble in the end. Keith Olbermann responds. —clyde1952


CPDRC Inmates Practice Thriller (music video)

Al Jazeera: Behind the Philippine ‘Thriller’ video (video)