20 Hidden Ways the Iraq War is Affecting the US Dollar

Dandelion Salad

By CurrencyTrading.net
After Downing Street
Wed, 2007-12-19 16:48

The Iraq war has affected the personal and political lives of many people around the world, but its influence doesn’t stop there. The Iraq war has had a profound effect on the dollar, too. Here, we’ll take a look at 20 reasons why.

1. Dollar deficit: The Iraq war has been and continues to be very expensive. This makes it difficult, if not impossible, for the federal budget to keep up. As a result, the government is forced to take loans from foreign lenders and print more paper money. As these practices continue, the dollar’s value slips away.

2. Losing market players: As the dollar continues to fall in reaction to budget deficits stemming from the war in Iraq, market players are losing money on their investment. When this happens, the dollar becomes a less attractive vehicle for investment. It is likely that other countries may grow weary of losing as the dollar falls, and will turn to euros for more stability.

3. Avoiding confrontation: In 2006, Syria switched all of its foreign currency transactions from dollars to euros. Perhaps taking notes from Iraq, this move was made to protect them against any confrontation with the US, as US laws require that all dollar transactions have to pass through the US banking system. Iraq made a similar decision in 2000, opting to sell Iraqi oil in euros. Syria’s move to euros is designed to keep their foreign assets safer, avoiding a situation in which they’d be frozen during conflict with the US. The decreased use of the dollar affects demand of it, and thus, the dollar’s value.

4. The domino effect: With Syria jumping ship on the dollar, it’s not a stretch to imagine that others may follow suit. As other countries see the conflict that the US and Iraq are involved in, they may begin to think the same way Syria has, and decide to protect themselves against potential monetary tie-ups with the US. So far, the list of countries who have converted, or are considering converting, to the euro includes North Korea, Venezuela, and Iran.

5. OPEC: Countries aren’t the only ones that could drop the dollar. OPEC has expressed interest in switching to the euro as the standard for oil transactions. This is a major problem, as oil-consuming economies would have to get rid of their dollars, causing a serious drop in both the use and value of the dollar.

6. Overspending: As with any budget, heavy spending in one area means that other areas have to be cut back. With the Iraq war, this spending keeps money out of economy-supporting actions that could help prop up the dollar’s value.

7. Energy shift: Iraq is often pointed to as an example of the problems foreign oil dependence creates. As Americans grow weary of these issues, interest in alternative energy grows as well. With the expansion of these largely domestic industries, the American economy becomes more self-sufficient, a move that is good for closing the gap on the trade deficit and good for the dollar’s value.

8. Interest: Ultimately, the economic trouble caused by Iraq makes it difficult to attract investors. In order to keep the rate of investment stable, the US is forced to attract buyers with higher interest rates, a move that creates inflation and trouble for the dollar. Although in recent months, the Fed has cut rates, this practice is not sustainable.

9. Price of oil: Iraq has lost more than $25 billion in oil revenues. Oil in jeopardy creates energy cost inflation, which creates higher costs for any country that uses oil, a list that the US is most certainly on. Energy cost inflation hurts all currencies, and the dollar in particular.

10. Stock market: At one point, the Iraq war was reported to have cost the US stock market $1.1 trillion. These losses came from consumer goods, airlines, technology companies, and others that depend on discretionary spending. Losses in the stock market do not bode well for the dollar, as a stock market slide creates dollar weakness and could cause a downward spiral of US asset liquidation that puts pressure on the dollar and perepetuates itself.

11. Constant foreign policy debate: As Congress debates the future of the war in Iraq, the dollar looks less and less like a safe bet. Regardless of the outcome, any major policy change in Congress creates nervousness for investors. Of course, that doesn’t mean that outcome doesn’t matter: if investors feel like US policy is headed in the right direction, they feel more comfortable investing in dollar-denominated assets. But generally speaking, investors are wary of a foreign policy and subsequent economy that’s subject to new policies.

12. US contractors: Although the war in Iraq has a generally negative effect on the US economy, it is a boom for major contractors like Halliburton, Lockheed-Martin and Bechtel. As these companies execute government contracting in Iraq, they’re reaping record profits at home, which fuels the economy with jobs and productivity, as well as the success of the dollar.

13. Perception: Just about everything that has to do with dollar support depends upon favorable perception of the US. Unfortunately for the dollar, as the world drops support of the war with Iraq, support of the dollar suffers right along with it. Larry Greenberg of Ried Thunberg & Co. reflects, “It’s hard for me to believe that the flow of capital cannot help but be affected by how the US is perceived around the world.” By going against world opinion, dollar-denominated assets will be devalued.

14. Turmoil and stability: Generally speaking, investors flock towards safe bets. When a country is in turmoil, investors will move away from it and towards countries that show more stability. As the US remains intertwined with Iraq, it chips away at our stability and scares off investors, causing the dollar’s value to drop when they invest in the assets of other currencies, or even sell the dollar-denominated assets they currently have.

15. Military overextension: Spreading our troops out halfway around the world is clearly a costly endeavor. This strains the dollar in a number of ways, ranging from the federal deficit to a loss of quality employees for the workforce.

16. Consumer spending: Fear keeps people from spending, as they’re more likely to hang on to money “just in case” for the future. When consumers don’t spend, however, our economy slows and puts pressure on the dollar.

17. Uncertainty: Conflict in Iraq, or anywhere for that matter, breeds uncertainty in the markets. It creates political change, huge spending, fear of terrorism, and takes attention away from economic positives like corporate profits. This all adds up to an investment attitude that’s more “wait-and-see” than free-flowing, a situation that hurts the dollar.

18. A flood of dollars: In 2004, nearly $12 billion was flown into Iraq, and through various means, was effectively lost. This flood of lost dollars cannot be good for the value of the dollar, as this clearly is a factor in inflation of the currency.

19. Trade deficit: As the price of oil surges in response to the Iraq war, the price of our imports goes sky-high. This creates an even larger gap in our trade deficit, a factor that devalues the dollar.

20. Presidential popularity: Although a direct correlation is debated, the popularity of US presidents is often an indicator for the strength of the dollar. Bush’s popularity has undeniably faltered from the Iraq war, and could spell trouble for the dollar. Ultimately, investors look for a strong, respected US leader when putting their faith in the dollar, and Iraq has tarnished that image for Bush.

It’s clear that the Iraq war is having a negative effect on the dollar. Investors should keep an eye on developments in the future of the war to consider how the dollar will be affected both in the near and long term.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

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Fatwa Against The Dollar? By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard

Dandelion Salad

By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard
ICH
12/19/07 “The Telegraph

To all intents and purposes, the Wahabi religious establishment of Saudi Arabia has just issued a fatwa against the US dollar. This bears watching.

A message issued by 26 leading clerics warns that inflation has reached intolerable levels in the Gulf kingdom.

While it does not vilify the dollar explicitly, the apparent political aim is to undermine the country’s dollar peg.

“The rulers should seek to try to remedy this crisis in a way that would ease people’s suffering.”

“We direct this message to the rulers and officials: we remind you of Prophet Mohammad’s words that you are shepherds who are responsible for your flock,” it said.

The statement was posted across the Islamic world. The background to this has been a raging debate in Gulf religious and economic circles about the destructive effects of the sliding dollar.

Among the lead-authors is Sheikh Nasser al-Omar, known for his fatwa against US-led forces in Iraq.

He has long preached the collapse of American-led capitalism, and now sees a perfect moment to plunge the knife. We can guess that al-Qaeda Inc is thinking along the same lines.

My own hunch is that the next al-Qaeda strike will not be a symbolic blow to a great building or city, but rather a carefully-timed economic blow: either by cutting – or trying to cut – the oil jugular, or by trying to precipitate a run on the dollar.

The Gulf pegs are preventing the region from taking action to stop the oil boom spiralling out of control.

Half the Mid-East is now overheating. Property booms have reached unstable extremes in almost all the oil states. Construction has become maniacal.

CPI inflation is 5.35pc in Saudi Arabia, the highest in over ten years. It has reached 10.1pc in the United Arab Emirates and 12.2pc in Qatar.

The dollar pegs – designed to anchor the currencies – are now forcing the Petrodollar economies to import US devaluation and monetary stimulus.

What has been a simmering problem for over a year, has become untenable since the Federal Reserve began slashing interest rates.

The Gulf has roughly $3.5trn under management in wealth funds and central banks, so a dollar shift makes waves.

Qatar has already slashed the dollar holding of its future generation fund from 40pc to 98pc.

Stephen Lewis, global strategist at Insinger de Beaufort, said the Fatwa was ominous.

“The Saudi government has been the one institution in the region battling to preserve the oil link with the dollar. If these clerics are able to wear down Saudi resistance, this could breach the bulwark. The dollar would quite likely be abandoned as the chief currency for pricing oil in world markets,” he said.

If the Mid-East breaks the pegs, a chain reaction threatens to follow across Asia. China now has 6.9pc inflation. It may have to ditch its cheap yuan policy soon enough anyway, or face the sort of double digit rises that destroy regimes.

The Saudi royal family rules by a delicate compromise. Although pro-Western in military and economic alliances, it relies on the endorsement of the Wahabi clerics as a key source of legitimacy.

Reluctance to confront this menacing bloc is the main reason why Riyadh tolerated – and helped – the Bin Laden network for so long.

The statement called on the Saudis to take action to stop food price soaring to fresh highs, if necessary with subsidies on key staples.

For now, the dollar is bouncing back. Speculative flows have swung back from euros to dollars after America’s CPI inflation shock of 4.3pc released last week.

One week’s data mean nothing. As the Fed cuts rates ever further to the cushion US property crash bites, Mid-East inflation will go from bad to seriously ugly with the policies now in place.

The Saudis, Qataris, and Emirates have all said they will preserve the pegs. But fatwas tend to up the ante.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Putin Agonistes: Missile Defense will not be Deployed By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
12/19/07 “ICH

It’s been a lot of hard work, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has finally achieved his goal. He’s cleaned up the mess left behind by Yeltsin, put together a strong and thriving economy, and restored Russia to a place of honor among the community of nations. His legacy has already been written. He’s the man who rebuilt Russia. The last thing he wants now, is a pointless confrontation with the United States. But how can it be avoided? He understands Washington’s long-range plans for Russia and he is taking necessary steps to preempt them. He is familiar with the heavyweights of US foreign policy, like Zbigniew Brzezinski, and has undoubtedly read his master-plan for Central Asia, “The Grand Chessboard”. Brzezinski’s recent article in Foreign Affairs, (A publication of the Council on Foreign Relations) “A Geostrategy for Eurasia” summarizes his views on America’s future involvement in the region:

“America’s emergence as the sole global superpower now makes an integrated and comprehensive strategy for Eurasia imperative.

Eurasia is home to most of the world’s politically assertive and dynamic states. All the historical pretenders to global power originated in Eurasia. The world’s most populous aspirants to regional hegemony, China and India, are in Eurasia, as are all the potential political or economic challengers to American primacy. … Eurasia accounts for 75 percent of the world’s population, 60 percent of its GNP, and 75 percent of its energy resources. Collectively, Eurasia’s potential power overshadows even America’s.

Eurasia is the world’s axial supercontinent. A power that dominated Eurasia would exercise decisive influence over two of the world’s three most economically productive regions, Western Europe and East Asia. A glance at the map also suggests that a country dominant in Eurasia would almost automatically control the Middle East and Africa. With Eurasia now serving as the decisive geopolitical chessboard, it no longer suffices to fashion one policy for Europe and another for Asia. What happens with the distribution of power on the Eurasian landmass will be of decisive importance to America’s global primacy and historical legacy.”

So, there it is. The US is moving into the neighborhood and has no intention of leaving. The war on terror is a fraud; it merely conceals the fact that Bush is sprinkling military bases throughout Central Asia and surrounding Russia in the process. Brzezinski sees this as a “strategic imperative”. It doesn’t matter what Putin thinks. According to Brzezinski “NATO enlargement should move forward in deliberate stages” . The US must make sure “that no state or combination of states gains the ability to expel the United States or even diminish its decisive role”.

This isn’t new. Putin has known for some time what Bush is up to and he’s been as accommodating as possible. After all, his real passion is putting Russia back on its feet and improving the lives of its citizens. That will have to change now that Bush has decided to install a “Missile Defense” system in Eastern Europe. Putin will have to devote more time to blocking America’s plans. The new system will upset the basic balance of power between the nuclear rivals and force Putin to raise the stakes. A confrontation is brewing whether Putin wants it or not. The system cannot be deployed. Period. Putin must now do whatever he is necessary to remove a direct threat to Russia’s national security. That is the primary obligation of every leader and he will not shirk his responsibility.

Putin is an elusive character; neither boastful nor arrogant. It’s clear now that western pundits mistook his reserved, quiet manner as a sign of superficiality or lack of resolve. They were wrong. They underestimated the former-KGB Colonel. Putin is bright and tenacious and he has a vision for his country. He sees Russia as a key player in the new century; an energy powerhouse that can control its own destiny. He doesn’t plan to get bogged down in avoidable conflicts if possible. He’s focused on development not war; plowshares not swords. He’s also fiercely nationalistic; a Russian who puts Russia first.

But Putin is a realist and he knows that the US will not leave Eurasia without a fight. He’s read the US National Security Strategy and he understands the ideological foundation for America’s “unipolar” world model. The NSS is an unambiguous declaration of war against any nation that claims the right to to control its own resources or defend its own sovereignty against US interests. The NSS implies that nations’ are required to open their markets to western multinationals and follow directives from Washington or accept a place on Bush’s “enemies list”. There’s no middle ground. You are with us or with the terrorists. The NSS also entitles the United States to unilaterally wage aggressive warfare against any state or group that is perceived to be a potential threat to Washington’s imperial ambitions. These so-called “preemptive” wars are carried out under the rubric of the “war on terror” which provides the justification for torture, abduction, ethnic cleansing and massive civilian casualties.

US National Security Strategy articulates in black and white what many critics had been saying for years; the United States owns the world and everyone else is just a guest.

Putin knows that there’s no way to reconcile this doctrine with his own aspirations for an independent Russia but, so far, a clash has been averted.

He also knows that Bush is flanked by a band of fanatics and militarists who plan to weaken Russia, install an American stooge (like Georgia and Afghanistan) and divide the country into four regions. This strategy is clearly presented in forward-planning documents that have been drawn up in Washington think tanks that chart the course for US world domination. Brzezinski is quite candid about this in his article in Foreign Affairs:

“Given (Russia’s) size and diversity, a decentralized political system and free-market economics would be most likely to unleash the creative potential of the Russian people and Russia’s vast natural resources. A loosely confederated Russia — composed of a European Russia, a Siberian Republic, and a Far Eastern Republic — would also find it easier to cultivate closer economic relations with its neighbors. Each of the confederated entitles would be able to tap its local creative potential, stifled for centuries by Moscow’s heavy bureaucratic hand. In turn, a decentralized Russia would be less susceptible to imperial mobilization.” (Zbigniew Brzezinski,“A Geostrategy for Eurasia”)

Partition is a common theme in imperial planning whether its called apartheid in Israel, federalizing in Iraq, “limited independence” in Kosovo, or “loose confederation” in Russia. It’s all the same. Divide and rule; undermine nationalism by destroying the underlying culture and balkanizing the territory. This isn’t new. What is amazing, is that Bush’s plan is going forward despite 7 years of uninterrupted foreign policy failures. Hubris and self-delusion have a longer shelf-life than anyone could have imagined.

Putin is surrounded by ex-KGB hardliners who have warned him that America cannot be trusted. They have watched while the US has steadily moved into the former-Soviet satellites, pushed NATO to Russia’s borders, and precipitated regime change via “color coded” revolutions. They point to Chechen war where US intelligence services trained Chechen insurgents through their ISI surrogates in Pakistan—teaching them how to conduct guerrilla operations in a critical region that provides Russia with access to the western shores of the resource-rich Caspian Basin.

1.

Michel Chossudovsky has done some excellent research on this little-known period of Russian history. In his article “The Anglo-American Military Axis”, he says:

“U.S. covert support to the two main Chechen rebel groups (through Pakistan’s ISI) was known to the Russian government and military. However, it had previously never been made public or raised at the diplomatic level. In November 1999, the Russian Defense Minister, Igor Sergueyev, formally accused Washington of supporting the Chechen rebels. Following a meeting held behind closed doors with Russia’s military high command, Sergueyev declared that:

‘The national interests of the United States require that the military conflict in the Caucasus [Chechnya] be a fire, provoked as a result of outside forces”, while adding that “the West’s policy constitutes a challenge launched to Russia with the ultimate aim of weakening her international position and of excluding her from geo-strategic areas.‘”

In the wake of the 1999 Chechen war, a new “National Security Doctrine” was formulated and signed into law by Acting President Vladimir Putin, in early 2000. Barely acknowledged by the international media, a critical shift in East-West relations had occurred. The document reasserted the building of a strong Russian State, the concurrent growth of the Military, as well as the reintroduction of State controls over foreign capital….The document carefully spelled out what it described as ” fundamental threats” to Russia’s national security and sovereignty. More specifically, it referred to “the strengthening of military-political blocs and alliances” [namely GUUAM], as well as to “NATO’s eastward expansion” while underscoring “the possible emergence of foreign military bases and major military presences in the immediate proximity of Russian borders.” (Michel Chossudovsky, “The Anglo-American Military Axis”, Global Research)

That’s right; there’s been a low-grade secret war going on between Russia and the US for over a decade although it is rarely discussed in diplomatic circles. The war in Chechnya is probably less about “succession” and independence, than it is about foreign intervention and imperial overreach.

The same rule applies to the controversy surrounding Kosovo. The Bush administration and its EU clients are trying to fragment Serbia by supporting an initiative for Kosovo “limited independence”.

But why “limited”?

It’s because Bush knows that the resolution has no chance of passing the UN Security Council, so the only way to circumvent international law is by issuing a unilateral edict that is promoted in the media as “independence”. By this same standard, Abraham Lincoln should have granted Jefferson Davis “limited independence” and avoided the Civil War altogether.

Author Irina Lebedeva reveals the real motives behind the administration’s actions on Kosovo in her article “USA-Russia: Hitting the same Gate, or playing the same game?”

“The North Atlantic alliance (The US and its EU allies) documents indicate that the bloc aims at the “Balkanization” of the post-Soviet space by way of overtaking influence in the territories of the currently frozen conflicts and their follow-up internalization along the Yugoslavian lines are set down in black and white. For example, a special report titled “The New North Atlantic Strategy for the Black Sea Region”, prepared by the German Marshall Fund of the United States on the occasion of the NATO summit, already refers to Black Sea and South Caucasus (Transcaucasia) as a “new Euro-Atlantic borderland plagued by Soviet-legacy conflicts.” And the “region of frozen conflicts is evolving into a functional aggregate on the new border of an enlarging West.” Azerbaijan and Georgia in tandem, the report notes, provide a unique transit corridor for Caspian energy to Europe, as well as an irreplaceable corridor for American-led and NATO to bases and operation theatres in Central Asia and the Greater Middle East.”

Once again, divide and rule; this time writ large for an entire region that is being arbitrarily redrawn to meet the needs of mega-corporations that want to secure “transit corridors for Caspian energy to Europe”. The new Great Game. Brzezinski has called this area a critical “land-bridge” to Eurasia. Others refer to it as a “new Euro-Atlantic borderland”. Whatever one calls it; it is a good illustration of how bloodthirsty Washington mandarins carve up the world to suit their own geopolitical objectives.

Putin has seen enough and he’s now moving swiftly to counter US incursions in the region. He’s not going to wait until the neocon fantasists affix a bullseye to his back and take aim. In the last few weeks he has withdrawn Russia from the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty (CFE) and is threatening to redeploy his troops and heavy weaponry to Russia’s western-most borders. The move does nothing to enhance Russian security, but it will arouse public concern in Europe and perhaps ignite a backlash against Bush’s Missile Defense system.

Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Masorin also announced this week that Russia will move part of its fleet to Syrian ports where “it will maintain a permanent presence in the Mediterranean. Israeli leaders are in a panic over the announcement claiming that the move will disrupt their “electronic surveillance and air defense centers” thus threatening their national security. Putin intends to go ahead with the plan regardless. Dredging has already begun in the port of Tartus and a dock is being built in the Syrian port of Latakia.

Also, Russian officials are investigating the possibility of building military bases in Serbia and have been invited to discuss the issue with leaders in the Serbian Nationalist Radical Party (SRS) The prospective dialogue is clearly designed to dissuade the US from pursuing its present policy towards Kosovo.

Russia also delivered its first shipment of nuclear fuel to Iran this week which means that the controversial 1,000 watt nuclear plant at Bushehr could be fully operational within three months. Adding insult to injury, Iranian officials announced on Monday their plans to build a second plant in defiance of US orders to halt its nuclear activities.

Also, on Monday, “Russia test-launched a new intercontinental ballistic missile part of a system that can outperform any anti-missile system likely to be deployed” according to Reuters. “The missile was launched from the Tula nuclear-powered submarine in the Barents Sea in the Arctic.”

“The military hardware now on our weapons, and those that will appear in the next few years, will enable our missiles to outperform any anti-missile system, including future systems,” Col.-Gen Nikolai Solovtsov was quoted as telling journalists.” (Reuters)

Bush’s Missile Defense system has restarted the nuclear arms race. Welcome to the new Cold War.

Finally, Russia Chief of Staff, General Yuri Balyevsky warned:

“A possible launch of a US interceptor missile from Central Europe may provoke a counterattack from intercontinental ballistic missiles….If we suppose that Iran wants to strike the United States , then interceptor missiles which would be launched from Poland will fly towards Russia and the shape and flight trajectory are very similar to ICBMs” (Novosti Russian News Agency)

Balyevsky’s scenario of an “accidental” World War 3 is more likely than ever now that Bush is pressing ahead with his plans for Missile Defense. Russia’s automated missile warning systems can be triggered automatically when foreign missiles enter Russian air space. Its a dangerous game and potentially fatal every living thing on the planet.

To great extent, the American people have no idea of the reckless policy that is being carried out in their name. The gravity of the proposed Missile Defense system has been virtually ignored by the media and Russia’s protests have been dismissed as trivial. But hostilities are steadily growing, military forces and weaponry are being put into place, and the stage is set for a major conflagration. This is every bit as serious as the Cuban Missile Crisis, only this time Russia cannot afford to stand down.

Putin will not allow the system to be deployed even if he has to remove it through force of arms. It is a direct threat to Russia’s national security. We would expect no different from our own leaders.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Next time, evacuees subject to criminal checks By Terri Langford

Dandelion Salad

By Terri Langford
Copyright 2007 Houston Chronicle
Dec. 15, 2007, 6:06PM

State’s plan calls for putting some offenders on separate bus

Texans seeking to escape the next hurricane or state emergency by evacuation bus will first be submitted to criminal background checks, the state’s emergency management director says.

The idea, according to Jack Colley, is to keep sex offenders and others who may be wanted by police off the same buses used by the most vulnerable during an evacuation: the elderly, disabled residents and children.

“This will allow us to help them evacuate,” Colley said of sex offenders and others wanted for crimes. “We’re not going to leave anyone.”

continued…

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Congress votes to fund war, bows to Bush on domestic policy by Bill Van Auken

Dandelion Salad

by Bill Van Auken
Global Research, December 19, 2007
wsws.org

The Democratic-led US Senate voted by a wide margin Tuesday night to approve $70 billion to continue funding the wars in both Iraq and Afghanistan, without seeking to impose any conditions or pass any proposals for withdrawing a single soldier from either country. The vote came as the body also approved a $516 billion domestic budget bill passed a day earlier by the House.

With just days to go until Congress begins its holiday recess, the Democratic leadership has once again orchestrated a legislative capitulation to the White House that will ensure that the war in Iraq—which they claim to oppose—continues, while making no major substantive changes in the domestic agenda set by the Bush administration.

The House on Monday passed the domestic spending bill by a comfortable margin of 253 to 154, despite charges by the Republican leadership that the measure contained an excessive amount of “earmarks,” specific funding mandates for pet projects sought by legislators for their home districts.

While the Republicans, echoed by the mass media, have denounced the budget as “bloated,” the package, which encompasses spending plans for every federal agency outside of the Defense Department, fails to even keep up with inflation. The total amount included in the so-called omnibus bill is only slightly more than the $506.9 billion approved last week for the Pentagon (this does not count another $189.4 billion approved for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan) and the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons programs. That measure passed with overwhelming bipartisan support, with only three “no” votes in the Senate and by a margin of 370 to 49 in the House. Virtually nothing was said on either side of the aisle about a “bloated” Pentagon or excessive arms spending.

In a second measure drafted by the House Democratic leadership, $31 billion was provided for the US military operations in Afghanistan. While the measure included a proviso that this money should not be spent on the Iraqi occupation, it also provided for some of the money to be used for body armor and “force protection items” for troops in Iraq, which could have provided a significant loophole for money to be spent there. This bill was narrowly approved in a largely party-line vote, with 206—predominantly Democrats—in favor and 201 against.

The bill, which was crafted as a symbolic show of opposition to the war, in reality provided a guarantee that the money would be there to continue the colonial-style repression in Iraq. As the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, “Army operations accounts would benefit from an infusion of about $17.8 billion in new funds, enough money to avoid major disruptions through April and allow time for a fuller debate in the spring on the future of the US commitment in Iraq.”

All but five House Republicans opposed the measure, however, because it did not include money explicitly budgeted for the Iraq war. Bush had vowed to veto any spending legislation that failed to include funds for Iraq.

After getting only 43 votes to end debate on a motion to approve the House legislation (60 are required), the Senate went through the motions Tuesday night of debating two resolutions linking the Iraq war spending to calls for troop withdrawals.

The first, offered by Senator Russell Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin) would have required the withdrawal of US troops from Iraq, with the rather considerable exception of those deployed to protect US “infrastructure,” to train Iraqi forces, to carry out “counter-terrorism” operations or to protect any of these other forces. These provisions would mean tens of thousands of American soldiers and marines continuing to occupy the country indefinitely. This amendment went down to defeat by a margin of 71-to-24, getting four less votes than when it was last brought before the Senate.

A second amendment, offered by Michigan Democratic Senator Carl Levin, proposed no timetable, but merely a non-binding “goal” of beginning to reduce US forces in Iraq—something that has already happened as a result of the “surge” running out of units to replace those whose deployments are coming to an end. Levin stressed in his speech to the Senate that there was “no inconsistency whatsoever” in voting for his amendment and also voting to continue funding the war. This toothless “sense of the Senate” bill, which had several Republican sponsors, received 50 votes, with 45 voting against. Having failed to clear the 60-vote hurdle needed to close debate, it was effectively killed.

This left the final measure, which had been promised to the White House, an amendment sponsored by Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and “Independent Democratic” Senator Joseph Lieberman of Connecticut, providing $70 billion for the military interventions in both Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill included neither any conditions nor restrictions on where the money would be spent, providing the Bush administration with the “blank check” that Democrats had previously forsworn. This amendment passed by a vote of 70 to 25, meaning that only half of the Senate’s Democrats opposed unconditional funding of the Iraq war.

The funding, which would pay for the wars until May or June, brings the total amount spent on both US interventions to $670 billion.

Based on the tacit understanding with the Congressional Democrats that this measure would indeed be passed, Bush gave an upbeat assessment of the budget process Monday that was starkly at odds with his repeated previous threats to veto any legislation that failed to meet his conditions on war funding and spending restraints.

“I’m pleased to report that we’re making some pretty good progress toward coming up with a fiscally sound budget—one that meets priorities, helps on some emergencies and enables us to say that we’ve been fiscally sound with the people’s money,” Bush declared in a speech on the economy delivered to a Rotary Club in Fredericksburg, Virginia.

House Republican leaders had initially condemned the domestic spending bill and called upon Bush to veto it. House Minority Leader John Boehner (Republican, Ohio) accused the Democrats of trying to “pile billions in worthless pork onto the backs of our troops.”

In addressing their own supporters, however, the Republicans were more candid. “This bill is a bigger disappointment to the Democrats than we would have expected, given that they do control both the House and the Senate,” Minority Whip Roy Blunt (Republican, Missouri) told a group of right-wing bloggers at the Heritage Foundation. “This Congress has spent more time in Washington, voted more times, and produced less, than any Congress in decades.”

This assessment was confirmed by a number of Democrats. Representative David Obey (Democrat, Wisconsin), the head of the House Appropriations Committee, called the budget “totally inadequate to meet the long-term investment needs of the country.” Saying that the voters who gave the Democrats majorities in both houses of Congress in the 2006 elections had delivered a mandate to end the Iraq war and shift domestic priorities, Obey acknowledged that “we’ve failed” on both counts.

The web site “Politico” quoted a senior Democratic Senate aide as asking, “Where is everything we fought for? Where is our backbone? What’s the point of being in charge and spending months writing these bills if we just end up folding to the administration?”

The Wall Street Journal estimated that the Democrats had given up 80 percent of the funding that they had originally sought to add to the budget, bowing to Bush’s threat to veto any bill that exceeded his spending cap. They succeeded only in adding on various amounts by declaring them “emergency funding.” The largest of these included $3.7 billion for veterans care and $2.7 billion to fund a stepped up crackdown on immigrants through border security and worksite enforcement.

Capitulating to the White House, the Democrats abandoned their bid to amend reactionary legislation barring US aid for international family planning programs that offer abortions. They also shelved promised changes in the draconian measures barring US travel and trade with Cuba and a provision demanding that federal contractors pay union-scale wages on disaster relief projects, such as those on the Gulf Coast.

The Democrats also abandoned their proposal to roll back massive tax breaks for the profit-swollen US energy conglomerates. Included in the domestic spending plan is a provision which allows the US Energy Department to guarantee loans to energy companies for nuclear projects and the development of liquid coal production. Also jettisoned was a plan to fund an expansion of children’s health care programs with a hike in tobacco taxes.

Speaking to reporters Tuesday afternoon, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Democrat, Nevada) took exception to Republican claims of victory in the much-publicized budget showdown. “Who’s winning?” Reid asked. “Big oil, big tobacco…The American people are losing.” This unarguable conclusion is ultimately an expression of the firm corporate control exercised over both major parties.

With the Senate having carried through its part of the bargain with Bush by adding the $40 billion to continue the carnage in Iraq, the two separate pieces of legislation—domestic spending and war funding—will go back to the House. In this elaborately choreographed charade, the bulk of the Democrats will then be able to vote against the money for Iraq—thereby attempting to boost their sagging antiwar pretenses—while the measure would be assured passage by a solid Republican “yes” vote backed by an adequate Democratic minority.

Once completed, this cynical arrangement will mark the third time since assuming control of Congress nearly a year ago that the Democrats will have provided the votes to continue funding the war in Iraq after proclaiming their determination to bring it to a halt.

What has emerged in this denouement of the so-called budget showdown is the fundamental unity of both major parties, whatever their tactical differences, on a policy of continuing war abroad and attacks on the conditions of life and basic rights of working people at home.

Bill Van Auken is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Bill Van Auken

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 Bill Van Auken, wsws.org, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7657

“Black Site” Survivor Relates Horrific Tale by William Fisher

Dandelion Salad

by William Fisher
Global Research, December 19, 2007
IPS

Enforced disappearance and torture at several CIA “black sites”

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (IPS) – As human right lawyers sought to block U.S government efforts to stop a lawsuit against a Boeing subsidiary accused of flying detainees to “black sites” where they were tortured, a legal advocacy group published the first testimony of a victim of the Central Intelligence Agency’s “enhanced interrogation” programme.

In the first-ever report of its kind, the Centre for Human Rights and Global Justice (CHRGJ) at New York University School of Law released a firsthand account of a survivor of enforced disappearance and torture at several CIA “black sites”. The 63-page report, “Surviving the Darkness: Testimony from the U.S. ‘Black Sites'”, is an in-depth account of a former CIA detainee’s experience in his own words.

The bone-chilling narrative tells the story of Mohamed Farag Ahmad Bashmilah, a Yemeni national who spent more than a year and a half in the CIA’s secret detention programme. He was never charged with a terrorism-related crime.

The CHRGJ charges that Bashmilah was “illegally detained by the Jordanian intelligence service in October 2003, tortured into signing a false confession, and then handed over to an American rendition team.”

The group says he spent the next 18 months in the U.S. secret detention network — in sites believed to be in Afghanistan and possibly Eastern Europe. In May 2005, he was transferred to the custody of the Yemen government, which held him in proxy detention at the behest of the U.S. until he was put on trial and finally released in March 2006.

Bashmilah’s story was made public as the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed legal papers opposing the CIA’s attempt to throw out a lawsuit against Boeing subsidiary Jeppesen Dataplan, Inc. for its participation in the CIA’s “extraordinary rendition” programme.

The ACLU charged that the U.S. government is improperly invoking the “state secrets” privilege to avoid judicial scrutiny of this unlawful policy.

Steven Watt, an attorney with the ACLU’s Human Rights Programme, told IPS, “Five men have been brutally abused with the help of a U.S. corporation, and they are entitled to their day in court.”

“Jeppesen must not be given a free pass for its profitable participation in a torture programme,” he said. “And the government should not be allowed to use the national security defence as a way to cover up its mistakes or, worse, its egregious abuses of human rights.”

The ACLU filing comes in a lawsuit brought on behalf of five victims of the rendition programme who were kidnapped and secretly transferred by the CIA to U.S.-run overseas prisons or foreign intelligence agencies where they were interrogated and tortured.

According to the lawsuit, Jeppesen knowingly provided flight planning and essential logistical support to aircraft and crew used by the CIA for the clandestine rendition flights.

After the lawsuit was filed, the U.S. government intervened to seek its dismissal, contending that further litigation of the case would be harmful to national security. But the ACLU contends that the information needed to pursue this lawsuit, including details about the rendition programme, is already in the public domain.

It adds, “Jeppesen’s involvement in the programme is also a matter of public record. It has been confirmed by extensive documentary evidence and eyewitness testimony, including the sworn declaration of a former senior Jeppesen employee, which was submitted in support of the ACLU filing.”

In recent years, the government has asserted the once-rare “state secrets” claim with increasing regularity in an attempt to throw out lawsuits and justify withholding information from the public not only about the rendition programme, but also about illegal wiretapping, torture, and other breaches of U.S. and international law.

It has been 50 years since the United States Supreme Court last reviewed the use of the “state secrets” privilege. The Supreme Court recently refused to review the “state secrets” privilege in a lawsuit brought by Khaled El-Masri, a German citizen also represented by the ACLU, who was kidnapped and rendered to detention, interrogation, and torture in a CIA “black site” prison in Afghanistan.

Meanwhile, more than 250 people once held in Iraqi prisons, including Abu Ghraib, have filed suit against a U.S. military contractor for alleged torture of detainees. The Centre for Constitutional Rights filed the lawsuit seeking millions of dollars in compensatory and punitive damages against CACI International Inc. of Arlington, Virginia.

The complaint alleges that CACI interrogators who were sent to Iraqi prisons directed and engaged in torture between 2003 and 2004. The lawsuit charges that the detainees were repeatedly beaten, sodomised, threatened with rape, kept naked in their cells, subjected to electric shock and attacked by unmuzzled dogs, among other humiliations.

The court action also names two CACI employees — Stephen Stefanowski, known as “Big Steve”, and Daniel Johnson, known as “DJ” — accusing them of participating in the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib. The suit alleges that the two CACI contractors directed Corporal Charles Graner and Sergeant Ivan Frederick. Graner was sentenced to 10 years in prison for this role in the Abu Ghraib scandal; Frederick is serving an eight-year jail term.

“These corporate guys worked in a conspiracy with those military guys to torture people,” said Susan Burke, the lead attorney in the case.

“And now the military have been held accountable, but the company guys and the company have not been,” she said.

The legal status of U.S. private contractors in Iraq and elsewhere abroad remains cloudy. The Iraqi government says they should be subject to Iraqi law, a position rejected by the U.S. It remains unclear whether they are subject to U.S. law. No U.S. court has yet decided a relevant case, though lawsuits have been brought against a number of contractors, including Blackwater, whose employees are accused of killing 17 unarmed Iraqi civilians in a shooting incident in September.

In the CACI case, to the surprise of some legal observers, the government did not intervene on behalf of the contractors and the court ruled that the litigation could go forward.

In a related development, the New York Times reported Wednesday that Pakistan’s military and intelligence agencies, “apparently trying to avoid acknowledging an elaborate secret detention system, have quietly set free nearly 100 men suspected of links to terrorism, few of whom were charged.”

Human rights groups in Pakistan say those released are some of the nearly 500 Pakistanis presumed to have disappeared into the hands of the Pakistani intelligence agencies cooperating with Washington’s fight against terrorism since 2001.

The Times reported that no official reason has been given for the releases. But it quoted Pakistani sources as saying that as pressure has mounted to bring the cases into the courts, “the government has decided to jettison some suspects and spare itself the embarrassment of having to reveal that people have been held on flimsy evidence in the secret system.”

Among those pressing to bring the cases into court was the chief justice of Pakistan’s Supreme Court, Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry. He was dismissed by President Pervez Musharraf and remains in detention, although Musharraf last Saturday lifted the state of emergency he imposed in November.

The Times reported that the prisoner releases were “particularly galling to lawyers” because Musharraf had accused the courts of being soft on terrorists, and had used that claim as one justification for imposing emergency rule.

Global Research Articles by William Fisherwww.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 William Fisher, IPS, 2007
The url address of this article is: www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7658
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Liberalism To Murdochracy By John Pilger

Dandelion Salad

By John Pilger
12/19/07 “ICH

The former Murdoch retainer Andrew Neil has described James Murdoch, the heir apparent, as a “social liberal”. What strikes me is his casual use of “liberal” for the new ruler of an empire devoted to the promotion of war, conquest and human division. Neil’s view is not unusual. In the murdochracy that Britain has largely become, once noble terms such as democracy, reform, even freedom itself, have long been emptied of their meaning. In the years leading to Tony Blair’s election, liberal commentators vied in their Tonier-than-thou obeisance to such a paragon of “reborn liberalism”. In these pages in 1995, Henry Porter celebrated an almost mystical politician who “presents himself as a harmoniser for all the opposing interests in British life, a conciliator of class differences and tribal antipathies, a synthesiser of opposing beliefs”. Blair was, of course, the diametric opposite.

As events have demonstrated, Blair and the cult of New Labour have destroyed the very liberalism millions of Britons thought they were voting for. This truth is like a taboo and was missing almost entirely from last week’s Guardian debate about civil liberties. Gone is the bourgeoisie that in good times would extend a few rungs of the ladder to those below. From Blair’s pseudo-moralising assault on single parents a decade ago to Peter Hain’s recent attacks on the disabled, the “project” has completed the work of Thatcher and all but abolished the premises of tolerance and decency, however amorphous, on which much of British public life was based. The trade-off has been mostly superficial “social liberalism” and the highest personal indebtedness on earth. In 2007, reported the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the United Kingdom faced the highest levels of inequality for 40 years, with the rich getting richer and the poor poorer and more and more segregated from society. The International Monetary Fund has designated Britain a tax haven, and corruption and fraud in British business are almost twice the global average, while Unicef reports that British children are the most neglected and unhappiest in the “rich” world.

Abroad, behind a facade of liberal concern for the world’s “disadvantaged”, such as waffle about millennium goals and anti-poverty stunts with the likes of Google and Vodafone, the Brown government, together with its EU partners, is demanding vicious and punitive free-trade agreements that will devastate the economies of scores of impoverished African, Caribbean and Pacific nations. In Iraq, the blood-letting of a “liberal intervention” may well have surpassed that of the Rwanda genocide, while the British occupiers have made no real attempt to help the victims of their lawlessness. And putting out more flags will not cover the shame. “The mortality of children in Basra has increased by nearly 30% compared to the Saddam Hussein era,” says Dr Haydar Salah, a paediatrician at Basra children’s hospital. In January nearly 100 leading British doctors wrote to Hilary Benn, then international development secretary, describing how children were dying because Britain had not fulfilled its obligations under UN security resolution 1483. He refused to see them.

Even if a contortion of intellect and morality allows the interventionists to justify these actions, the same cannot be said for liberties eroded at home. These are too much part of the myth that individual freedom was handed down by eminent liberal gentlemen instead of being fought for at the bottom. Yet rights of habeas corpus, of free speech and assembly, and dissent and tolerance, are slipping away, undefended. Whole British communities now live in fear of the police. The British are distinguished as one of the most spied upon people in the world. A grey surveillance van with satellite tracking sits outside my local Sainsbury’s. On the pop radio station Kiss 100, the security service MI5 advertises for ordinary people to spy on each other. These are normal now, along with the tracking of our intimate lives and a system of secretive justice that imposes 18-hour curfews on people who have not been charged with any crime and are denied the “evidence”. Hundreds of terrified Iraqi refugees are sent back to the infinite dangers of the country “we” have destroyed. Meanwhile, the cause of any real civil threat to Britons has been identified and confirmed repeatedly by the intelligence services. It is “our” continuing military presence in other people’s countries and collusion with a Washington cabal described by the late Norman Mailer as “pre-fascist”. When famous liberal columnists wring their hands about the domestic consequences, let them look to their own early support for such epic faraway crimes.

In broadcasting, a prime source of liberalism and most of our information, the unthinkable has been normalised. The murderous chaos in Iraq is merely internecine. Indeed, Bush’s “surge” is “working”. The holocaust there has nothing to do with “us”. There are honourable exceptions, of course, as there are in those great liberal storehouses of knowledge, Britain’s universities; but they, too, are normalised and left to natter about “failed states” and “crisis management” – when the cause of the crisis is on their doorstep. As Terry Eagleton has pointed out, for the first time in two centuries almost no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist is prepared to question the foundations of western actions, let alone interrupt, as DJ Taylor once put it, all those “demure ironies and mannered perceptions, their focus on the gyrations of a bunch of emotional poseurs … to the reader infinitely reassuring … and infinitely useless”. Harold Pinter and Ronan Bennett are exceptions.

Britain is now a centralised single-ideology state, as secure in the grip of a superpower as any former eastern bloc country. The Whitehall executive has prerogative powers as effective as politburo decrees. Unlike Venezuela, critical issues such as the EU constitution or treaty are denied a referendum, regardless of Blair’s “solemn pledge”. Thanks largely to a parliament in which a majority of the members cannot bring themselves to denounce the crime in Iraq or even vote for an inquiry, New Labour has added to the statutes a record 3,000 criminal offences: an apparatus of control that undermines the Human Rights Act. In 1977, at the height of the cold war, I interviewed the Charter 77 dissidents in Czechoslovakia. They warned that complacency and silence could destroy liberty and democracy as effectively as tanks. “We’re actually better off than you in the west,” said a writer, measuring his irony. “Unlike you, we have no illusions.”

For those people who still celebrate the virtues and triumphs of liberalism – anti-slavery, women’s suffrage, the defence of individual conscience and the right to express it and act upon it – the time for direct action is now. It is time to support those of courage who defy rotten laws to read out in Parliament Square the names of the current, mounting, war dead, and those who identify their government’s complicity in “rendition” and its torture, and those who have followed the paper and blood trail of Britain’s piratical arms companies. It is time to support the NHS workers who up and down the country are trying to alert us to the destruction of a Labour government’s greatest achievement. The list of people stirring is reassuring. The awakening of the rest of us is urgent.

http://www.johnpilger.com

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Let Kucinich Speak! by Freda Moon

Dandelion Salad

Let Kucinich Speak!

Interview by Freda Moon
December 20, 2007

Dennis Kucinich got left out of the last Democratic debate. Here’s what he might have added to it.

In August, the Advocate interviewed progressive Democrat Dennis Kucinich at his campaign office in Dover, New Hampshire. Had he been allowed to participate in Thursday’s Democratic presidental debates in Iowa, here’s a sampling of what he might have had the opportunity to say.

On Reparations

A rising tide lifts all boats. We need an economic tide to rise in this country where every person has a living wage, where every person has a job—every person who is able to work, where each person has healthcare through a not-for-profit healthcare system, where each child ages 3–through–college age has a chance for a fully-paid public education, and where each person has a chance for decent housing and each person has a chance for a secure retirement. These are fundamental in a democratic society. Where are we today? Nowhere near that. And who happens to be suffering the most? People of color.

continued…

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

see

Dennis Kucinich: a Democrat’s Democrat (video)

Kucinich proposes U.S. out of Iraq in 3 months (video)

Dennis Kucinich: The Constitution; Net Neutrality; Medical Marijuana; Religion (videos)

Dennis Kucinich: Election Reform + Public Funding of Elections + Corporate Personhood + Open Honest Govt (video)

Perry J. Kucinich, beloved brother 12/11/56 – 12/19/07

Updated: April 10, 2008 Dennis Kucinich’s brother died of heart and lung disease

My thoughts and prayers are with Dennis and his family at this very sad time. ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

Dennis 4 President
Dec. 19, 2007

Perry J. Kucinich, younger brother of Ohio Congressman Dennis J. Kucinich, died early this morning in his apartment in Cleveland, Ohio. He was 51. The cause of death will be determined by the coroner’s office.

Perry Kucinich was a talented artist who produced a prodigious volume of work. Some of his works have been on display recently at a local art gallery. He and his brother Dennis were planning another showing of his works in the spring.

“He was an admirer of the works of Klee and Picasso, and the style and structure of his artwork derived from their influences,” said Dennis Kucinich. “He was a genius. He had extraordinary insights. Although he struggled with mental illness, with the help of his family and friends, he was able to lead a productive life.

“The Kucinich family is very close knit,” said family spokesman Andy Juniewicz. “This is a devastating loss to each and every member of the Kucinich family. Dennis was very close to his brother Perry. He watched after him, and he loved him dearly. The two spoke nearly every day. He was more like Dennis’ son than his brother.”

Perry Kucinich was born Dec. 11, 1956, the fifth child of Frank and Virginia Kucinich. The family’s travails were chronicled in a recently released book, “The Courage to Survive,” written by Congressman Kucinich.

Funeral services are pending. In addition to his brother Dennis, Perry is survived by brothers Frank, Gary, and Larry, and by sisters Theresa and Beth Ann. They all live in Northeast Ohio.

Condolences may be sent to: condolences@kucinich.us

***

Coroner’s office: Kucinich brother dead, no sign of foul play

By M.R. Kropko
Associated Press Writer
December 19, 2007

continued…

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Kucinich drops presidential bid by Mark Naymik (video link)

Kucinich-Dennis

Slave labour that shames US By Leonard Doyle

Dandelion Salad

By Leonard Doyle
ICH
12/19/07 “The Independent

Migrant workers chained beaten and forced into debt, exposing the human cost of producing cheap food

Three Florida fruit-pickers, held captive and brutalised by their employer for more than a year, finally broke free of their bonds by punching their way through the ventilator hatch of the van in which they were imprisoned. Once outside, they dashed for freedom.

When they found sanctuary one recent Sunday morning, all bore the marks of heavy beatings to the head and body. One of the pickers had a nasty, untreated knife wound on his arm. Police would learn later that another man had his hands chained behind his back every night to prevent him escaping, leaving his wrists swollen.

The migrants were not only forced to work in sub-human conditions but mistreated and forced into debt. They were locked up at night and had to pay for sub-standard food. If they took a shower with a garden hose or bucket, it cost them $5.

Their story of slavery and abuse in the fruit fields of sub-tropical Florida threatens to lift the lid on some appalling human rights abuses in America today.

Between December and May, Florida produces virtually the entire US crop of field-grown fresh tomatoes. Fruit picked here in the winter months ends up on the shelves of supermarkets and is also served in the country’s top restaurants and in tens of thousands of fast-food outlets.

But conditions in the state’s fruit-picking industry range from straightforward exploitation to forced labour. Tens of thousands of men, women and children – excluded from the protection of America’s employment laws and banned from unionising – work their fingers to the bone for rates of pay which have hardly budged in 30 years.

Until now, even appeals from the former president Jimmy Carter to help raise the wages of fruit-pickers have gone unheeded. However, with Florida looming as a key battleground during the the next presidential election, there is hope that their cause will be raised by the Democratic candidates Barack Obama and John Edwards.

Fruit-pickers, who typically earn about $200 (£100) a week, are part of an unregulated system designed to keep food prices low and the plates of America’s overweight families piled high. The migrants, largely Hispanic and with many of them from Mexico, are the last wretched link in a long chain of exploitation and abuse. They are paid 45 cents (22p) for every 32-pound bucket of tomatoes collected. A worker has to pick nearly two-and-a-half tons of tomatoes – a near impossibility – in order to reach minimum wage. So bad are their working and living conditions that the US Department of Labour, which is not known for its sympathy to the underdog, has called it “a labour force in considerable distress”.

A week after the escapees managed to emerge from the van in which they had been locked up for the night, police discovered that a forced labour operation was supplying fruit-pickers to local growers. Court papers describe how migrant workers were forced into debt and beaten into going to work on farms in Florida, as well as in North and South Carolina. Detectives found another 11 men who were being kept against their will in the grounds of a Florida house shaded by palm trees. The bungalow stood abandoned this week, a Cadillac in the driveway alongside a black and chrome pick-up truck with a cowboy hat on the dashboard. The entire operation was being run by the Navarettes, a family well known in the area.

Also near by was the removals van from which Mariano Lucas, one of the first to escape, punched his way through a ventilation hatch to freedom in the early hours of 18 November. With him were Jose Velasquez, who had bruises on his face and ribs and a cut forearm, and Jose Hari. The men told police they had to relieve themselves inside the van. Other migrant workers were kept in other vehicles and sheds scattered around the garden.

Enslaved by the Navarettes for more than a year, the men had been working in blisteringly hot conditions, sometimes for seven days a week. Despite their hard work, they were mired in debt because of the punitive charges imposed by their employer, who is being held on minor charges while a grand jury investigates his alleged involvement in human trafficking.

The men had to pay to live in the back of vans and for food. Their entire pay cheques went to the Navarettes and they were still in debt. They slept in decrepit sheds and vehicles in a yard littered with rubbish. When one man did not want to go to work because he was sick, he was allegedly pushed and kicked by the Navarettes. “They physically loaded him in the van and made him go to work that day. Cesar, Geovanni and Martin Navarette beat him up and as a result he was bleeding in his mouth,” a grand jury was told.

The complaint reveals that the men were forced to pay rent of $20 (£10) a week to sleep in a locked furniture van where they had no option but to urinate and defecate in a corner. They had to pay $50 a week for meals – mostly rice and beans with meat perhaps twice a week if they were lucky. The fruit-pickers’ caravans, which they share with up to 15 other men, rent for $2,400 a month – more per square foot than a New York apartment – and are less than 10 minutes’ walk from the hiring fair where the men show up before sunrise. At least half those who come looking for work are not taken on.

Florida has a long history of exploiting migrant workers. Farm labourers have no protection under US law and can be fired at will. Conditions have barely changed since 1960 when the journalist Edward R Murrow shocked Americans with Harvest Of Shame, a television broadcast about the bleak and underpaid lives of the workers who put food on their tables. “We used to own our slaves but now we just rent them,” Murrow said, in a phrase that still resonates in Immokalee today.

For several years, a campaign has been under way to improve the workers’ conditions. After years of talks, a scheme to pay the tomato pickers a penny extra per pound has been signed off by McDonald’s, the world’s biggest restaurant chain, and by Yum!, which owns 35,000 restaurants including KFC, Pizza Hut and Taco Bell. But Burger King, which also buys its tomatoes in Immokalee, has so far refused to participate, threatening the entire scheme.

“We see no legal way of paying these workers,” said Steve Grover, the vice-president of Burger King. He complained that a local human rights group, the Coalition of Immokalee Workers “has gone after us because we are a known brand”. But he added: “At the end of the day, we don’t employ the farmworkers so how can we pay them?”

Burger King will not pay the extra penny a pound that the tomato-pickers are demanding he said. “If we agreed to the penny per pound, Burger King would pay about $250,000 annually, or $100 per worker. How does that solve exploitation and poverty?” he asked.

Burger King is not the only buyer digging in its heels. Whole Foods Market, which recently expanded into Britain with a store in London’s upmarket suburb of Kensington, has been discovered stocking tomatoes from one of the most notorious Florida sweatshop producers. Whole Foods ignored an appeal by the Coalition of Immokalee Workers to pay an extra penny a pound for its tomatoes.

In a statement Whole Foods said it was “committed to supporting and promoting economically, environmentally, and socially sustainable agriculture” and supports “the right of all workers to be treated fairly and humanely.”

The Democratic candidates for the presidency do not often talk about exploited migrant workers, but there are hints that Barack Obama will visit the Immokalee fruit pickers sometime before Florida’s primary election on 5 February.

Jimmy Carter recently joined the campaign to improve the lot of fruit-pickers, appealing to Burger King and the growers “to restore the dignity of Florida’s tomato industry”. His appeal fell on deaf ears but 100 church groups, including the Catholic bishop of Miami, joined him.

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. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material on this site is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond ‘fair use’, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.

Ralph Nader Talks About His Favorite Presidential Candidates (video)

I can’t believe they are still talking about the 2000 presidential election. Note that he mentions Kucinich. ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

joriet101

Ralph Nader Talks About His Favorite Presidential Candidates with Chris Matthews on Hardball. He leans towards John Edwards. Added: December 17, 2007

h/t: After Downing Street

see

Dennis Kucinich: a Democrat’s Democrat (video)

Dennis Kucinich: Election Reform + Public Funding of Elections + Corporate Personhood + Open Honest Govt (video)

Dennis Kucinich: The Constitution; Net Neutrality; Medical Marijuana; Religion (videos)

Dennis Kucinich’s 52-year-old brother found dead by Donna J. Miller

This is a post I’d rather not be making. I’m so sorry to hear this news. My sympathies and condolences are with Dennis and his family at this sad time. ~ Lo

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by Donna J. Miller
Dennis Kucinich for President (Official)
December 19, 2007 12:57PM
Categories: Breaking News

Perry Kucinich, 52, was found dead in his home in the 4100 block of East 71st Street.

His brother Larry found him about 9 a.m. There were no signs of violence, officials said. The Cuyahoga County Coroner is performing an autopsy this hour.

Their brother, Dennis Kucinich, is a U.S. Representative from Ohio’s 10th District. He is running for president.

As soon as we have something official from the campaign it will be posted here.

We, the Dennis Kucinich supporters, constituents, staff, volunteers, express our deepest sympathies to him and his wife and family at this time.

Anita Stewart
Deputy Director of Virtual Outreach
Kucinich for President 2008, Inc.

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12.18.07 Uncensored News Reports From Across The Middle East (video; over 18 only)

Dandelion Salad

Warning
.
This video may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

Selected Episode

Dec. 18, 2007

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Israel Retaliates for Attacks on Sederot,” IBA TV, Israel
“Head of Islamic Jihad Killed in Gaza,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Iran Remains a Threat to Israel,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“British Forces Hand Over Security Responsibilities in Basra,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
“Rice Urges Kurds to Stop PKK,” Dubai TV, UAE
“Jordan Suffers from High Consumer Prices,” Dubai TV, UAE
“US to Re-think Strategy in Afghanistan,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Mortar Attack Kills 12 in Somalia,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Muslims Complete Last Ritual in Hajj,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Ahmadinejad at Hajj,” IRIB2 TV, Iran
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani.

Conflict over Bolivia’s constitutional reform + Turkish troops cross Iraqi border (videos)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com
Rich lowland states fight Evo Morales’ plan to share revenues and with poor, indigenous highland regions.

Turkish troops cross Iraqi border

More at http://therealnews.com
Over 300 Turkish soldiers attack PKK rebel bases in Northern Iraq.

Does anybody care if Bangladesh drowns? + Who cares if the world drowns? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com
Afsan Chowdhury talks on climate change, environmental refugees and the Bali conference.

Friday December 7th, 2007

Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist and communications development expert based in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Toronto, Canada. Director of the film “Climate Change – Does anybody care who if Bangladesh drowns?,” he is also Director of Advocacy and Human Rights at The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee (BRAC).

Who cares if the world drowns?

More at http://therealnews.com
Afsan Chowdhury on the U.N. Climate Change Conference at Bali.

Wednesday December 19th, 2007

Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist and communications development expert based in Dhaka, Bangladesh and Toronto, Canada. Director of the film “Climate Change – Does Anybody Care if Bangladesh Drowns?,” he is also Director of Advocacy and Human Rights at The Bangladesh Rural Advancement Committee. Afsan is a member of the Board of Directors of IWT.