Dec. 4, 2007
Thousands of miles of land is being lost to advancing deserts each year. That coupled with the exponential population growth does not bode well for the planet and the people and animals and plants that inhabit it.
The loss of plants and the advance of the desert creates a snowball effect. Without vegetation the rain that falls does more harm than good, creating floods and washing valuable top soil away.
December 04, 2007
In 1999, a mysterious Iraqi applied for political asylum in Munich. The young chemical engineer offered compelling testimony of Saddam Hussein’s secret program to build weapons of mass destruction. He claimed that the dictator had constructed germ factories on trucks, creating a deadly hell on wheels. His German hosts passed along his account to their CIA counterparts, but denied CIA agents access to their star informant. The Americans dubbed him with an unforgettable code name: Curveball. After September 11, 2001, the Bush administration seized on Curveball’s account as evidence that Saddam’s government needed to be overthrown—in spite of numerous indicators that the informant’s credibility was unraveling. Bob Drogin answers the crucial question of the Iraq war: how and why was America’s intelligence so catastrophically wrong?
December 04, 2007
Persians of Interest
Keith gives his report on the latest spin over the recently released NIE. Wendy Sherman weighs in on the likelyhood that President Bush did not already know what was in the NIE.
And the winner is….Lou Dobbs. Runners up Alberto Gonzales and Dee Dee Hill.
This is one of the best debates I’ve listened to (or watched). I like that they’ve chosen just 3 issues to discuss and Mike Gravel was invited to attend. Issues debated: Iran, Immigration and China. transcript ~ Lo
Click here to go to the quicktime audio debate
Iran Sparks Fireworks at Democratic Debate
NPR.org, December 4, 2007 · Democratic presidential candidates clashed over Iran, and tackled trade and immigration during a radio debate from Iowa on Tuesday. The forum, sponsored by NPR and Iowa Public Radio, comes just one month before the Iowa caucuses, at a time when polls show a tight three-way race among Sen. Barack Obama (IL), Sen. Hillary Clinton (NY) and former Sen. John Edwards (NC).
Sparring over Iran
The candidates were asked about a new National Intelligence Estimate that concludes Iran stopped work on its nuclear weapons program in 2003. The new report reverses the conclusion of two years ago that Iran was actively working on a nuclear weapon.
Clinton said she is relieved by the intelligence findings, and called on President Bush to pursue diplomacy with Iran.
Clinton has come under criticism from fellow Democrats for her September vote in favor of a Senate Resolution calling the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama — who skipped the vote while campaigning in New Hampshire — has said it gave President Bush a “blank check” to go to war against Iran. President Bush warned in October that a nuclear-armed Iran could trigger “World War III.”
Edwards said Tuesday that the Senate had a responsibility to stand up to President Bush. “It’s absolutely clear — and eerily similar to what we saw with Iraq, where they were headed,” he said. Edwards noted that Clinton is the only Democratic presidential candidate who voted in favor of the resolution.
Sen. Christopher Dodd (CT) chimed in, saying the resolution, which he voted against, eliminated all options except a military one.
Clinton defended her vote, saying it was non-binding and did not authorize Bush to take any action against Iran. “I think we do know that pressure on Iran does have an effect,” Clinton said.
Sen. Joe Biden (DE) challenged the idea that the Senate vote influenced Iran’s nuclear plans. “With all due respect to anybody who thinks that pressure brought this about, let’s get this straight. In 2003, they stopped their program,” Biden said.
Rep. Dennis Kucinich (OH) said the new intelligence assessment confirms his earlier skepticism. “Just as five years ago, I warned that there was no evidence that would merit war against Iraq and warned this country not to do it, so for the past few years I’ve been saying that there’s no evidence that Iran had a nuclear weapons program.”
Kucinich complained that some of his fellow Democrats — Clinton, Obama and Edwards — still say “all options are on the table” when it comes to Iran.
Dec. 4, 2007
In a wide-ranging interview, CNN anchor Lou Dobbs joins Democracy Now! for the hour to discuss:
- His claim that a “third of our prison population” are illegal aliens (according to the Justice Department about 6 percent of the state and federal prison population are non-citizens)
- Why white supremacists have appeared on Lou Dobbs Tonight without disclosure over their ties to hate groups
This is a rather short vid, if I can find a longer one, I’ll post it here tonight. ~ Lo
CNN’s Situation Room, December 4, 2007
Seymour Hersh (older posts)
Hersh-Seymour (newer posts)
“THE TUMULT and the shouting dies, / The captains and the kings depart…” Rudyard Kipling wrote in his unforgettable poem “Lest We Forget” (“Recessional”)
King George departed even before the tumult had died. His helicopter carried him away over the horizon, just as his trusty steed carries the cowboy into the sunset at the end of the movie. At that moment, the speeches in the assembly hall were still going ahead at full blast.
This summed up the whole event. The final statement announced that the United States will supervise the negotiations, act as a referee of the implementation and as a judge throughout. Everything depends on her. If she wants it – much will happen. If she does not want it – nothing will happen.
That bodes ill. There is no indication that George Bush will really intervene to achieve anything, apart from nice photos. Some people believe that the whole show was put on to make poor Condoleezza Rice feel good, after all her efforts as Secretary of State have come to nought.
Even if Bush wanted to, could he do anything? Is he capable of putting pressure on Israel, in the face of vigorous opposition from the pro-Israel lobby, and especially from the Christian-Evangelist public, to which he himself belongs?
A friend told me that during the conference he watched the televised proceedings with the sound turned off, just observing the body language of the principal actors. That way he noticed an interesting detail: Bush and Olmert touched each other many times, but there was almost no physical contact between Bush and Mahmoud Abbas. More than that: during all the joint events, the distance between Bush and Olmert was smaller than the distance between Bush and Abbas. Several times Bush and Olmert walked ahead together, with Abbas trailing behind.
That’s the whole story.
SHERLOCK HOLMES said in one of his cases that the solution could be found in “the curious incident of the dog in the night-time.” When it was pointed out to him that the dog did nothing, he explained: “That was the curious incident.”
Anyone who wants to understand what has (or has not) happened at Annapolis will find the answer in this fact: the dog did not bark. The settlers and their friends were keeping quiet, did not panic, did not get excited, did not distribute posters of Olmert in SS uniform (as they had done with Rabin after Oslo). All in all, they contented themselves with the obligatory prayer at the Western Wall and a smallish demonstration near the Prime Minister’s residence.
This means that they were not worried. They knew that nothing would come out of it, that there would be no agreement on the dismantling of even one measly settlement outpost. And on the forecast of the settlers’ leaders one can rely in such matters. If there had been the slightest danger that peace would result from this conference, they would have mobilized their followers en masse.
THE HAMAS movement, on the other hand, did organize mass demonstrations in Gaza and the West Bank towns. The Hamas leaders were very worried indeed.
Not because they were afraid that peace would be concluded at the meeting. They were apprehensive of another danger: that the only real aim of the meeting was to prepare the ground for an Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip.
Ami Ayalon, a former admiral who once posed as a man of peace, and who is now a Labor member of the cabinet, appeared during the conference on Israeli TV to say so quite openly: he was in favor of the conference because it legitimizes this operation.
The line of thought goes like this: In order to fulfill his obligation under the Road Map, Abbas must “destroy the terrorist infrastructure” in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. “Terrorism” means Hamas. Since Abbas is unable to conquer the Gaza Strip himself, the Israeli army will do it for him.
True, it may be costly. In the last few months, a lot of arms have been flowing into Gaza through the tunnels under the border with Egypt. Many people on both sides will lose their lives. But “What can you do? There is no alternative.”
It may be that in retrospect, the main (if not the only) outcome of Annapolis will be this: the conquest of the Gaza Strip in order to “strengthen Abbas”.
Hamas, in any case, is worried. And not without reason.
In preparation for such a confrontation, the Hamas leaders have become even more shrill in their opposition to the meeting, to which they were not invited. They denounced Abbas as a collaborator and a traitor, reiterating that Hamas would never recognize Israel nor accept a peace agreement with it.
BACK TO the White House: if the three leaders agreed there in secret deliberations that the Israeli army will invade the Gaza Strip, that is very bad news.
It would have been better to get Hamas involved – if not directly, then indirectly. The absence of Hamas left a yawning gap at the conference. What is the sense in convening 40 representatives from all over the world, and leaving more than half the Palestinian people without representation?
The more so since the boycott of Hamas has pushed the organization further into a corner, causing it to oppose the meeting even more vociferously and incite the Palestinian street against it.
Hamas is not only the armed body that now dominates the Gaza Strip. It is first of all the political movement that won the majority of the votes of the Palestinian people in democratic elections – not only in the Gaza Strip, but in the West Bank, too. That will not change if Israel conquers the Strip tomorrow. On the contrary: such a move may stigmatize Abbas as a collaborator in a war against his own people, and actually strengthen the roots of Hamas in the Palestinian public.
Olmert said that first of all the “terrorist infrastructure” must be eliminated, and only then can there be progress towards peace. This totally misrepresents the nature of a “terrorist infrastructure” – regrettable from a person whose father (like Tzipi Livni’s father) was a senior Irgun “terrorist”. It also shows that peace does not head the list of his aspirations – because that statement constitutes a deadly land-mine on the way to an agreement. It is putting the cart before the horse.
The logical sequence is the other way round: First of all we have to reach a peace agreement that is acceptable to the majority of the Palestinians. That means (a) to lay the foundations for a State of Palestine whose border will run along the Green Line (with limited swaps of territory) and whose capital will be East Jerusalem, (b) to call upon the Palestinian people to ratify this agreement in a referendum, and (c) to call upon the military wing of Hamas to lay down their arms or to be absorbed into the regular forces of the new state, similarly to what happened in Israel, and join the political system in the new state.
If there were an assurance that this is the way things will go ahead, there is still a reasonable chance of convincing Hamas not to obstruct the process and to allow Abbas to manage it – as Hamas has agreed in the past.
Why? Because Hamas, like any other serious political movement, is dependent on popular support. At this point, with the occupation getting worse from day to day and all the routes to peace seemingly blocked, the Palestinian masses are convinced that the method of armed resistance, as practiced by Hamas, is the only one that offers them any hope. If the masses become convinced that the political path of Abbas is bearing fruit and is leading to the end of the occupation, Hamas, too, will be compelled to change course.
Unfortunately, the Annapolis conference did nothing to encourage such hopes. The Palestinian public, like the Israeli one, treated it with a mixture of distrust and disdain. It looks like an empty show run by a lame duck American president, whose only remaining pleasure is to be photographed as the leader of the world. And if Bush gets the UN resolution he wants to hide behind – another resolution that nobody will take seriously – it will not change anything.
Especially if it is true, as reported in the Israeli press, that the Israeli government is planning a huge expansion of the settlements, and if the army chiefs start another bloody war, this time in Gaza.
THEN DID this spectacle have no positive side at all? Will it be forgotten tomorrow, as dozens of other meetings in the past have been forgotten, so only people with an exceptional memory are aware they ever happened?
I am not sure that this is so.
True, it was only a waterfall of words. But in the lives of nations, words, too, have their value.
Almost the whole of humanity was represented at this conference. China. India. Russia. Europe. Almost all Arab governments lent their support. And in this company, it was solemnly resolved that peace must be established between Israel and an independent and viable State of Palestine. True, the terms were not spelled out, but they were hovering over the conference. All the participants knew what they were.
The representatives of the Israeli mainstream joined – at least pro forma – this consensus. Perhaps they did so tongue in cheek, perhaps only as a ploy, perhaps as an act of deceit. But as our sages said ages ago: he who accepts the Torah not because of itself will in the end accept it for itself. Meaning: if somebody accepts an idea from tactical calculation he will be compelled to defend it, and in the end he will convince himself. Even Olmert has already declared on his way home: “Without the Two-State Solution, the State of Israel is finished.”
In connection with this, a competition between cabinet members is already developing, and that is a good sign. Tzipi Livni has set up more than a dozen committees of experts, each one charged with dealing with a particular aspect of peace, from the division of water to the allocation of television channels. (For those with a good memory: this is happening 50 years after I proposed the setting up of exactly such an apparatus, which I called the “White General Staff”, as opposed to the “Khaki General Staff”).
True, the Annapolis conference was no more than a small step, taken under duress. But it was a tiny step in the right direction.
The consciousness of a large body of people changes only in a long and slow process, at an almost geological pace. This cannot be detected with the naked eye. But, as Galileo Galilei murmured to himself: “And yet it does move!”
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Last June a revealing marketing video from the law firm, Cohen & Grigsby appeared on the Internet. The video demonstrated the law firm’s techniques for getting around US law governing work visas in order to enable corporate clients to replace their American employees with foreigners who work for less. The law firm’s marketing manager, Lawrence Lebowitz, is upfront with interested clients: “our goal is clearly not to find a qualified and interested US worker.”
If an American somehow survives the weeding out process, “have the manager of that specific position step in and go through the whole process to find a legal basis to disqualify them for this position–in most cases there doesn’t seem to be a problem.” Continue reading
by Steve Anderson
The Largest Minority
Published Tuesday, December 4th, 2007, 12:27 pm
This is a truly crucial time for the Internet, the most powerful and interactive medium humans have ever seen. New commercial incursions by big online media conglomerates, including the widely disdained “Facebook Beacon,” make explicit what new media giants have been doing quietly for some time; searching for new and evermore invasive ways to sell our attention, clicks, and private information to advertisers and marketers.
The message is clear; new media giants cannot be trusted.
To learn more visit: http://freespeech.org/ourweb
The FreeSpeech Community can be found at: http://community.freespeech.org
This is a truly crucial time for the Internet, the most powerful and interactive medium humans have ever seen. Recent actions by Facebook to monitor activity on the web and share our private information with our personal contacts and marketers, tells us quite clearly that the new media giants cannot be trusted.
This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.
Dec. 3, 2007
For more: linktv.org/originalseries
“Palestinian Prisoners Set Free,” Dubai TV, UAE
“PA Security Officers Implicated in the Killings of Israelis,” IBA TV, Israel
“Egypt Allows Palestinian Pilgrims to Pass Through Rafah,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Demonstrations in London to End the Siege on Gaza,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“Negroponte to Talk to PKK,” Al-Iraqiya TV, Iraq
“Media Hypes Iranian Nukes,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
“UAE Turns 36,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Iran – UAE Relations,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Nawaz Sharif Banned from Running in Pakistani Elections,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani