Pentagon Explores ‘Human Fear’ Chemicals; Scare-Sensors, ‘Contagious’ Stress in the Works? By David Hambling

Dandelion Salad

By David Hambling
Wired
January 18, 2008

American military researchers are working to uncover and harness the most terrifying chemical imaginable: that most primal odor, the scent of fear.

Pheromones are chemicals released by animals as signals to their own kind: for sex, for territorial marking, and more. They’re often detected in the olfactory membranes. But there’s more to pheromones than attraction. Many animals have an alarm pheromone which is used to signal danger; aphids, for example, use it to cause their fellow lice to flee.

Now, the US Army is trying to track down and harness people’s smell of fear.  The military has backed a study on the “Identification and Isolation of Human Alarm Pheromones,” which “focused on the Preliminary Identification of Steroids of Interest in Human Fear Sweat.” The so-called “skydiving protocol” was the researchers’ method of choice.

Some have suggested that the human alarm pheromone could lead to chemical fear-sensors. The project Integrated System for Emotional State Recognition for the Enhancement of Human Performance and Detection of Criminal Intent (do they call it ISESREHPDCI for short?) specifically mentions the possibility of monitoring pheromone levels:

Such systems could be used to assess fitness for duty, integrated into closed loop systems regulating user vigilance and workload, or used to detect the sinister intent of individuals and prompt pre-emptive interdictions. These systems could unobtrusively monitor individuals within military operational environments or crowded civilian settings by relying on passive detection.

If they’re trying to spot terrorists at an airport, it may not work: I know a number of people whose fear levels when approaching a flight would overload any fear sensor for miles. The suicide bombers are probably way calmer.

But what about offensive use? Pheromones are effective in minute quantities, so a wide area can be blanketed with just a few liters. Given sufficient concentration, would everyone exposed start suffering from an unidentifiable dread? The contagious aspect means that those affected would start churning out fear pheromone as well.

continued…

h/t: Civilly disobedient

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Olbermann: The South + Beating The Blues + Rocky Horror Picture Show + “Chill” Bill + Bushed (videos)

Dandelion Salad

Ryokibin

Jan. 21, 2008

Countdown To The South

Keith talks with Richard Wolffe.

Beating The Blues

Keith talks with Paul F. Tompkins.

Rocky Horror Picture Show

Keith talks with Jim Moore.

“Chill” Bill

Keith talks with Jonathan Alter.

Rudy Can Fail

Keith talks with David Shuster.

And That’s The Way It Was/Is

Keith toots his own horn.

Bushed!

Investment-Economy-Really-Isn’t-That-Gre at-Gate

Politicizing-The-Military-Gate

E-Mail-Gate

Humanitarian impact of Israel’s blockade of Gaza + Gazans clash with Egyptian police at Rafah (videos)

Dandelion Salad

AlJazeeraEnglish

Gaza’s 1.5 million residents are struggling to cope without electricity and other basic necessities on the fourth day of an Israeli blockade.

Hospitals have begun to run short of fuel for generators, and sewage has spilled out onto the streets.

Jacky Rowland reports.

Gazans clash with Egyptian police at Rafah 

Shots have been fired at the Rafah crossing where Palestinians have been demanding that the crossing into Egypt be opened to ease the blockade imposed on the territory by Israel.

Several police were injured in the skirmishes, as well as protesters.

Gaza has been under lockdown for five days now, although the blockade was eased earlier when Israel allowed a fuel shipment through.

see

So Many Tragedies in Such Little Time By photojournalist Mohammed Omer (over 18 only)

The Lessons of Violence By Chris Hedges

People are dying, Help us! Death & Darkness in Gaza By Maan

Never against! European collusion in Israel’s slow genocide By Omar Barghouti

The Bush Dollar Trap – Hard Times A-Coming by Dave Lindorff

Dandelion Salad

by Dave Lindorff
ICH

21/01/08 “Counterpunch

The first government response to America’s sinking economy was denial. We were told as recently as a month ago by administration officials and Wall Street charlatans that the economy was robust and that there would not be a recession. Now we are told that the economy is in trouble, but that the government is taking decisive action to shore it up.

We saw how effective the first “decisive” proposal was. Bush announced a plan to give every adult taxpayer (no poor people, thank you) $800 in a tax rebate this April. The stock market responded to this idea by dropping a few percent. The idea, as I wrote in my last column, was stupid to begin with because, with the US no longer producing much of anything, all that bonus borrowed cash would end up getting spent on imported goods anyhow, doing next to nothing for the US economy.

So now the Federal Reserve has weighed in with a 3/4 percent cut in the Federal Funds rate. Even though commercial banks followed suit, lowering the prime lending rate by a similar 3/4 percent, the stock market showed how much good that move would do, dropping almost 300 points at the opening bell today–about what it had been expected to do even without an interest-rate cut.

There was one place where the Fed’s action did have an impact though: the exchange value of the dollar in foreign currency markets. No sooner was word of the interest rate cut announced, than the dollar fell against major currencies like the British Pound, the Euro and the Japanese Yen.

And there’s the rub. The Fed is in a trap. It cannot cut interest rates much more without causing a collapse in the dollar, which, because of the huge US trade imbalance, and all those consumer goods and raw materials–especially oil–that are imported–would lead to serious and politically dangerous inflation. And there is another constraint: with the current rate cut, the US now has the third lowest interest rates in the world. If the Fed makes another cut, as it has hinted it might in a week or so, only Japan would have a lower interest rate environment than the US. That makes the dollar a very undesirable currency for foreigner investors, which means they won’t want to hold dollars, and they won’t want to hold US stocks.

Yet if the Fed doesn’t cut interest rates even further, the stock market will continue to plunge, which again discourages foreign investors from pouring their money into the U.S., which in turn puts downward pressure on the dollar.

This was all predictable.

An economy that is almost wholly dependent on consumer spending, which is the case in the US, is in big trouble when consumers start to worry about the security of their jobs, and when they see inflation eating away at their disposable income. They naturally just stop spending. And that is happening, too.

So get ready for some hard economic times. The next step will be soaring inflation, as strapped companies in China, India and elsewere start raising their prices for goods shipped to the US and paid for in dollars. Then the Fed will have to respond by raising interest rates again, in an effort to shore up the currency. And with that will come deeper recession and an even lower stock market.

The Bush chickens–endless deficits as far as the eye can see, and a $2-trillion military debacle that has no end in sight and that is sucking money out of the country like a giant industrial vacuum cleaner–are coming home to roost. The President and Vice President clearly hoped that they could pass the wreckage of their eight years in office on to the next president and run off to retirement and senior stateeman status before it all blew up, but their luck ran out. The economic shit has hit the fan. Chances are that the war that they have tried to tuck away in the closet with a “surge” in troops and a brutal campaign of aerial bombardment, will also blow up on them before the year is out.

That’s small consolation for all of us who have to live with the ensuing disasters, but at least–if we can’t see them properly impeached and indicted, and if the Democrats in Congress don’t manage to screw things up further so they can be blamed for the mess too–we’ll have the satisfaction of seeing Bush and Cheney run out of town next January on a rail.

Dave Lindorff is the author of Killing Time: an Investigation into the Death Row Case of Mumia Abu-Jamal. His n book of CounterPunch columns titled “This Can’t be Happening!” is published by Common Courage Press. Lindorff’s newest book is “The Case for Impeachment“, co-authored by Barbara Olshansky.

He can be reached at: dlindorff@yahoo.com

 

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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Is This The Big One? By Mike Whitney

Stock Markets in Europe Plunge 7 Percent (updated)

Bush To Abandon Supply-Side Economics? By Paul Craig Roberts

Will Economic Stimulus Measures Stave Off Recession? by Richard C. Cook

Kucinich: Economic Stimulus Package Needs To Focus On States And Localities That Need Help The Most

Bush’s “Stimulus” Cash Giveaway; “Gentlemen, Start The Helicopters” By Mike Whitney

Bush speech on the U.S. Economy Jan.18, 2008

Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike a Key Option, NATO Told By Ian Traynor

Dandelion Salad

By Ian Traynor
ICH
22/01/08 “The Guardian

The west must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the “imminent” spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, according to a radical manifesto for a new Nato by five of the west’s most senior military officers and strategists.

Calling for root-and-branch reform of Nato and a new pact drawing the US, Nato and the European Union together in a “grand strategy” to tackle the challenges of an increasingly brutal world, the former armed forces chiefs from the US, Britain, Germany, France and the Netherlands insist that a “first strike” nuclear option remains an “indispensable instrument” since there is “simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world”.

The manifesto has been written following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views. It has been presented to the Pentagon in Washington and to Nato’s secretary general, Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, over the past 10 days. The proposals are likely to be discussed at a Nato summit in Bucharest in April.

“The risk of further [nuclear] proliferation is imminent and, with it, the danger that nuclear war fighting, albeit limited in scope, might become possible,” the authors argued in the 150-page blueprint for urgent reform of western military strategy and structures. “The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation as the ultimate instrument to prevent the use of weapons of mass destruction.”

The authors – General John Shalikashvili, the former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff and Nato’s ex-supreme commander in Europe, General Klaus Naumann, Germany’s former top soldier and ex-chairman of Nato’s military committee, General Henk van den Breemen, a former Dutch chief of staff, Admiral Jacques Lanxade, a former French chief of staff, and Lord Inge, field marshal and ex-chief of the general staff and the defence staff in the UK – paint an alarming picture of the threats and challenges confronting the west in the post-9/11 world and deliver a withering verdict on the ability to cope.

The five commanders argue that the west’s values and way of life are under threat, but the west is struggling to summon the will to defend them. The key threats are:

· Political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.

· The “dark side” of globalisation, meaning international terrorism, organised crime and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

· Climate change and energy security, entailing a contest for resources and potential “environmental” migration on a mass scale.

· The weakening of the nation state as well as of organisations such as the UN, Nato and the EU.

To prevail, the generals call for an overhaul of Nato decision-taking methods, a new “directorate” of US, European and Nato leaders to respond rapidly to crises, and an end to EU “obstruction” of and rivalry with Nato. Among the most radical changes demanded are:

· A shift from consensus decision-taking in Nato bodies to majority voting, meaning faster action through an end to national vetoes.

· The abolition of national caveats in Nato operations of the kind that plague the Afghan campaign.

· No role in decision-taking on Nato operations for alliance members who are not taking part in the operations.

· The use of force without UN security council authorisation when “immediate action is needed to protect large numbers of human beings”.

In the wake of the latest row over military performance in Afghanistan, touched off when the US defence secretary, Robert Gates, said some allies could not conduct counter-insurgency, the five senior figures at the heart of the western military establishment also declare that Nato’s future is on the line in Helmand province.

“Nato’s credibility is at stake in Afghanistan,” said Van den Breemen.

“Nato is at a juncture and runs the risk of failure,” according to the blueprint.

Naumann delivered a blistering attack on his own country’s performance in Afghanistan. “The time has come for Germany to decide if it wants to be a reliable partner.” By insisting on “special rules” for its forces in Afghanistan, the Merkel government in Berlin was contributing to “the dissolution of Nato”.

Ron Asmus, head of the German Marshall Fund thinktank in Brussels and a former senior US state department official, described the manifesto as “a wake-up call”. “This report means that the core of the Nato establishment is saying we’re in trouble, that the west is adrift and not facing up to the challenges.”

Naumann conceded that the plan’s retention of the nuclear first strike option was “controversial” even among the five authors. Inge argued that “to tie our hands on first use or no first use removes a huge plank of deterrence”.

Reserving the right to initiate nuclear attack was a central element of the west’s cold war strategy in defeating the Soviet Union. Critics argue that what was a productive instrument to face down a nuclear superpower is no longer appropriate.

Robert Cooper, an influential shaper of European foreign and security policy in Brussels, said he was “puzzled”.

“Maybe we are going to use nuclear weapons before anyone else, but I’d be wary of saying it out loud.”

Another senior EU official said Nato needed to “rethink its nuclear posture because the nuclear non-proliferation regime is under enormous pressure”.

Naumann suggested the threat of nuclear attack was a counsel of desperation. “Proliferation is spreading and we have not too many options to stop it. We don’t know how to deal with this.”

Nato needed to show “there is a big stick that we might have to use if there is no other option”, he said.

The Authors:

John Shalikashvili

The US’s top soldier under Bill Clinton and former Nato commander in Europe, Shalikashvili was born in Warsaw of Georgian parents and emigrated to the US at the height of Stalinism in 1952. He became the first immigrant to the US to rise to become a four-star general. He commanded Operation Provide Comfort in northern Iraq at the end of the first Gulf war, then became Saceur, Nato’s supreme allied commander in Europe, before Clinton appointed him chairman of the joint chiefs in 1993, a position he held until his retirement in 1997.

Klaus Naumann

Viewed as one of Germany’s and Nato’s top military strategists in the 90s, Naumann served as his country’s armed forces commander from 1991 to 1996 when he became chairman of Nato’s military committee. On his watch, Germany overcame its post-WWII taboo about combat operations, with the Luftwaffe taking to the skies for the first time since 1945 in the Nato air campaign against Serbia.

Lord Inge

Field Marshal Peter Inge is one of Britain’s top officers, serving as chief of the general staff in 1992-94, then chief of the defence staff in 1994-97. He also served on the Butler inquiry into Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction and British intelligence.

Henk van den Breemen

An accomplished organist who has played at Westminster Abbey, Van den Breemen is the former Dutch chief of staff.

Jacques Lanxade

A French admiral and former navy chief who was also chief of the French defence staff.

© Guardian News and Media Limited 2008


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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The New New World Order: A First-Strike NATO Über Alles by Chris Floyd

The New New World Order: A First-Strike NATO Über Alles by Chris Floyd

Dandelion Salad

by Chris Floyd
Empire Burlesque
Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The Lords of the West have called upon their elder chieftains of war to chart a course that will preserve their power and preeminence in the face of an ever-more uncertain future. The answer? A meaner, leaner NATO, openly committed to a nuclear first-strike strategy and stripped of all the “consensus” garbage that has sometimes hampered the organization’s American bosses.

Five former military headmen from the United States, Britain, Germany, France and Holland have issued a “radical manifesto” calling for “root-and-branch reform” of NATO and a new “grand strategy” yoking the United States, NATO and the European Union more tightly together in a military behemoth under Washington’s dominion, the Guardian reports.

The Mighty Five – who wrote their report “following discussions with active commanders and policymakers, many of whom are unable or unwilling to publicly air their views” – were adamant in their insistence that a “nuke first, ask questions later policy” was “indispensible” in fending off any of the lesser breeds who want a piece of the action. “The first use of nuclear weapons must remain in the quiver of escalation,” say the big brass.

(Who show a delightful talent for turning a phrase, by the way. “Quiver of escalation!” Fine stuff indeed, capturing both the minatory image of weapons at the ready – and the psychosexual thrill that all militarists feel at the thought of a good surge.)

In order to “prevail” over the dusky hordes, the brass also call for: “an overhaul of NATO decision-making methods;” eliminating consensus votes and national vetoes; doing away with the right of member nations to restrict how their troops will be used in an operation; “the use of force without UN Security Council authorization,” and setting up a “new directorate” of leaders who can bypass “EU obstructions” (i.e., objections to America’s will) and “respond rapidly” when Washington whistles.

Our poetic chieftains don’t phrase the latter point quite so crudely, of course, but it is obviously one of the main objects of the exercise. A “streamlined” NATO, operating without the need for broad consensus among members – and free of even the pretense of seeking UN approval – will inevitably be an even more pliable instrument for its most overwhelmingly dominant member, the United States. And with “imperial overreach” badly straining U.S. forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, a “reformed” NATO would be a very handy tool for extending the Pentagon’s scope.

The great and good behind the manifesto are Gen. John Shalikashvili, chairman of the Joint Chiefs under Bill Clinton; Lord Inge (Peter Inge, as was), former chief of the UK’s general staff; Gen. Klaus Naumann, former chief of staff of the German military; Admiral Jacques Lanxade, former French chief of staff; and Gen. Henk van den Breemen, former Dutch chief of staff (whom the Guardian rather irrelevantly informs us is “an accomplished organist”). They have already handed in their homework to the honchos in the Pentagon; the 150-page “blueprint for urgent reform of Western military strategy and structures” will likely be taken up at the NATO summit in April, the newspaper reports.

And what are the dangers to “the West’s values and way of life” that the war chiefs want to aim nuclear missiles at? Well, “political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism,” for a start. (Reckon NATO will nuke the next GOP presidential debate?) The “dark side of globalization” is another; this apparently covers organized crime, terrorism and proliferation of WMD. Then there’s “climate change and energy security,” which will entail “a contest for resources and potential ‘environmental’ migration on a mass scale,” as the Guardian puts it. Another danger worth nuking over is “the weakening of the nation-state, as well as of organizations such as the UN, Nato and the EU.”

But how do the manifesto’s “reforms” actually address these problems? For example, as we have seen over the years, unilateral, unsanctioned military action by the West only exacerbates “political fanaticism and religious fundamentalism.” What’s more, the mass slaughter of innocent civilians in these interventions – not to mention the repression, chaos and corruption they inevitably leave in their wake – only discredit the “values of the West” in the eyes of the world, which sees the assaults, quite rightly, as brutal grabs for loot and domination behind a smokescreen of pious, hypocritical blather.

And if NATO unlimbers its nukes and tanks on the “dark side of globalization” –mafias, terrorists, weapons-peddlers, etc. – it will certainly hit many of the prized assets of the West’s own security and military forces, who have long created, coopted, penetrated and manipulated these darkmaterials. (A tale we have oft told here: see this and this for examples). So this is not a serious objective either.

As for the weakening of the nation-state, it is hard to see how creating a super-NATO that can override a member nation’s wishes on how their troops should be used – and even override a nation’s rejection of a given foreign adventure decided upon in Washington – will somehow strengthen the role of the nation-state. (Well, it might strengthen one nation-state.) And the idea that openly championing the right to launch military actions without UN Security Council approval bolsters the effectiveness of the United Nations is also a pretty good joke.

But when the Manifesters come to “energy security,” and the “contest for resources” on an overwarmed, overpopulated globe, they are getting down to the heart of the matter. They know that the “values” that NATO has actually promoted over the years – not democracy, law or freedom, but keeping the Lords of the West in clover – are indeed under threat by the vast, crushing and ever-increasing economic and social disparities (at home and abroad) engendered by rapacious elites. And they aim to defend those values to the last drop of someone else’s blood.

What is envisioned here is a gated community writ large; or perhaps more accurately a feudal castle bristling with modern technology: a Fortress West, where a privileged few (supported by loyal courtiers and a cowed and distracted local peasantry) enjoy the bounty of the earth and leave the rest squabbling for scraps outside. If the others come too close or try to grab too much from the master’s table – well then, it’s the “quiver of escalation” for them.

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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Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike a Key Option, NATO Told By Ian Traynor

Twenty-seven Reasons to Draft Ralph Nader for President by Rosemarie Jackowski

Some of the statistics are a bit off, but the list does make a point. ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

by Rosemarie Jackowski
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 22 January 2008

The reasons are:

1. Hillary
2. John McCain
3. Seat belts
4. The abuse the Katrina victims by their insurance companies
5. 650,000+ dead Iraqi civilians
6. 3000+ dead U.S. military
7. The Black Budget
8. Torture
9. The CIA
10. Blackwater
11. Lack of access to Health care which causes the deaths of 18,000 US citizens every year.
12. CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, FOX, MSNBC
13. Factory farming and franken foods
14. Monsanto
15. The loss of family farms
16. The lack of regulations to restrict predatory practices by the banking and credit card industry
17. The mortgage crisis
18. Global warming
19. The loss of good will toward the U.S. around the world. Ralph could restore the status of the U.S.
20. He is not a Republican.
21. He is not a Democrat.
22. He is not an Empire builder.
23. He would not invade Iran, Cuba, Syria, Venezuela, Finland, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, or New Zealand.
24. Ralph owes no favors to any corporation.
25. Ralph cannot be bought.
26. Ralph has a long history of quietly working behind the scene to help ordinary people in their struggles against the powerful – such as the time he helped a group of New Jersey citizens oppose the construction of a floating nuclear power plant off the coast of Atlantic City. Ralph quietly came to Cape May, no fan-fare, no political motives. He helped the people. The people won. The floating nuclear plant was not built.
27. Ralph is smart, incorruptible, and honest.

Ralph is not the only candidate who should be considered for the presidency. There are others who are also qualified, such as Dennis Kucinich, Angela Davis, Cynthia McKinney, Ward Churchill, William Blum, Cindy Sheehan, and many, many more.

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.

Who Won the Debate? “Nobody, I wanted Kucinich” Poll

Dennis Kucinich second in poll!  ~ Lo

Dandelion Salad

Ed Schultz Show

Jan. 22. 2008

One day poll. Poll closed; results:

Who won the South Carolina Debate

Edwards 38%
Obama 24%
Clinton 13%
Nobody, I wanted Kucinich 25%

h/t: MissPhoebe

see

SC Democratic Debate 1-21-08

Vote in the Independent Primary Poll

Kucinich-Dennis

Dennis 4 President

Dennis Kucinich Can Win by Lo (lots of polls, surveys, etc.)

On The Issues: Dennis Kucinich and Ron Paul by Lo

Kucinich to Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Bush on Jan 28 State of Union Day By David M. Herszenhorn + video

Center for Public Integrity documents orchestrated campaign that led to Iraq invasion “under decidedly false pretenses”

Did Canada cave under US-Israeli pressure? (videos)

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com/c.php?c=070926YT
Michael Ratner: Canada gave in to pressure from US ambassador

Tuesday January 22nd, 2008

Michael Ratner is President of the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) in New York. He has taught at Yale Law School, lectured at Columbia Law School, and was President of the National Lawyers Guild.

Canada to take US, Israel off torture list

More at http://therealnews.com/c.php?c=070926YT
Alex Neve from Amnesty says Canadian foreign policy interests trump human rights

Tuesday January 22nd, 2008

Alex Neve has been Secretary-General of Amnesty International Canada since 2000. He has been a member of Amnesty in various roles for over fifteen years. Neve is a lawyer, with Master’s Degree in International Human Rights law. He has taught both international human rights and refugee law.

The American War Upon the World by Peter Chamberlin

Dandelion Salad

by Peter Chamberlin
Atlantic Free Press
Tuesday, 22 January 2008

In researching the events leading to America’s downfall, I have had to continually readjust my understanding of the situation as new information surfaced. Throughout the entire learning process it has proven especially difficult to determine whether the CIA determines the secret policies it carries out, or if the agency merely serve as a loyal tool to the moneymen who control the world from behind the scenes. It is very difficult to sort out the facts from the fabrication about an ongoing disinformation campaign while immersed in it.

Continue reading

My Interview with Elizabeth Kucinich by Joseph A. Palermo (video)

Dandelion Salad

29 min – Jan 21, 2008

In this interview, Elizabeth Kucinich, wife of presidential candidate, Dennis Kucinich articulates Dennis’ positions on various issues, which, as she says, are widely different from the positions of the DLC and the three “leading” candidates. She also talks about Dennis being excluded in the presidential debate by NBC.

video no longer available

Continue reading

Never against! European collusion in Israel’s slow genocide By Omar Barghouti

Dandelion Salad

By Omar Barghouti
ICH
21/01/08 “The Electronic Intifada

The European Union, Israel’s largest trade partner in the world, is watching by as Israel tightens its barbaric siege on Gaza, collectively punishing 1.5 million Palestinian civilians, condemning them to devastation, and visiting imminent death upon hundreds of kidney dialysis and heart patients, prematurely born babies, and all others dependent on electric power for their very survival.

By freezing fuel and electric power supplies to Gaza, Israel, the occupying power, is essentially guaranteeing that “clean” water — only by name, as Gaza’s water is perhaps the most polluted in the whole region, after decades of Israeli theft and abuse — will not be pumped out and properly distributed to homes and institutions; hospitals will not be able to function adequately, leading to the eventual death of many, particularly the most vulnerable; whatever factories that are still working despite the siege will now be forced to close, pushing the already extremely high unemployment rate even higher; sewage treatment will come to a halt, further polluting Gaza’s precious little water supply; academic institutions and schools will not be able to provide their usual services; and the lives of all civilians will be severely disrupted, if not irreversibly damaged. And Europe is apathetically watching.

Princeton academic Richard Falk considered Israel’s siege a “prelude to genocide,” even before this latest crime of altogether cutting off energy supplies. Now, Israel’s crimes in Gaza can accurately be categorized as acts of genocide, albeit slow. According to Article II of the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, the term is defined as:

“[A]ny of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such:
(a) Killing members of the group;
(b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
(c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; …”

Clearly, Israel’s hermetic siege of Gaza, designed to kill, cause serious bodily and mental harm, and deliberately inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about partial and gradual physical destruction, qualifies as an act of genocide, if not all-out genocide yet. And the EU is suspiciously silent.

But why accuse Europe, in particular, of collusion in this crime when almost the entire international community is not lifting a finger, and the UN’s obsequious Secretary-General, who surpassed all his predecessors in obedience to the US government, is pathetically paying only lip service? In addition, what of the US government itself, Israel’s most generous sponsor that is directly implicated in the current siege, especially after President George W. Bush, on his recent visit, gave a hardly subtle green light to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ravage Gaza? Why not blame the Palestinians’ quiet Arab brethren, particularly Egypt — the only country that can immediately break the siege by reopening the Rafah crossing and supplying through it the necessary fuel, electric power and emergency supplies? And finally, why not blame the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority, whose subservient and visionless leader openly boasted in a press conference its “complete agreement” with Bush on all matters of substance?

After Israel, the US is, without a doubt, the guiltiest party in the current crime. Under the influence of a fundamentalist, militaristic, neo-conservative ideology that has taken over its helms of power and an omnipotent Zionist lobby that is unparalleled in its sway, the US is in a category by itself. It goes without saying that the PA, the UN, as well as Arab and international governments maintaining business as usual with Israel should all be held accountable for acquiescing, whether directly or indirectly, to Israel’s crimes against humanity in Gaza. It is also true that each one of the above bears the legal and moral responsibility to intervene and apply whatever necessary pressure to stop the crime before thousands perish. But the EU commands a unique position in all this. It is not only silent and apathetic; in most European countries Israel and Israeli institutions are currently welcomed and sought after with unprecedented warmth, generosity and deference in all fields — economic, cultural, academic, athletic, etc. For instance, Israel was invited as the guest of honor to a major book fair in Turin, Italy. Israeli government-funded films are featuring in film festivals all over the continent. Israeli products, from avocados and oranges to hi-tech security systems, are flooding European markets like never before. Israeli academic institutions are enjoying a special, very lucrative, association agreement with the relevant organs in the EU. Israeli dance groups, singing bands and orchestras are invited to European tours and festivals as if Israel were not only a normal, but in effect a most favored, member of the so-called “civilized” world. Official Europe’s once lackluster embrace of Israel has turned into an intense, open and enigmatic love affair.

If Europe thinks it can thus repent for its Holocaust against its own Jewish population, it is in fact shamefully and consciously facilitating the committal of fresh acts of genocide against the people of Palestine. But Palestinians, it appears, do not count for much, as we are viewed not only by Israel, but also by its good old “white” sponsors and allies as lesser, or relative, humans. The continent that invented modern genocide and was responsible for massacring in the last two centuries more human beings, mostly “relative humans,” than all other continents put together is covering up crimes that are reminiscent in quality, though certainly not in quantity, of its own heinous crimes against humanity.

In no other international affair, perhaps, can the European establishment be accused of being as detached from and indifferent to its own public opinion. While calls for boycotting Israel as an apartheid state are slowly but consistently spreading among European civil society organizations and trade unions, drawing disturbing parallels to the boycott of South African apartheid, European governments are finding it difficult to distinguish themselves from the overtly complicit US position vis-a-vis Israel. Even European clichés of condemnation and “expressing deep concern” have become rarer than ever nowadays. Moreover, Israel’s relentless and defiant violation of Europe’s own human rights laws and conditions are ignored whenever anyone questions whether Israel should continue to benefit from its magnanimous association agreement with the EU despite its military occupation, colonization and horrific record of human rights abuse against its Palestinian victims. If this is not complicity, what is?

Morality aside, sinking Gaza into a sea of darkness, poverty, death and despair cannot bode well for Europe. By actively propping up an environment conducive to the rise of fanaticism and desperate violence near its borders, Europe is foolishly inviting havoc to its doorstep. Instead of heeding — or at least seriously considering — calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions against apartheid Israel, adopted by virtually the entire spectrum of Palestinian civil society, it may soon have to reckon with uncontainable forces of irrational and indiscriminate violence and its resulting chaos.

It seems European elites are currently determined never to oppose Israel, no matter what crimes it commits. It is as if the bellowing — and increasingly hypocritical — slogan upheld by Jewish survivors of European genocide, “Never Again!”, is now espoused by European elites with one difference: the two letters, ‘s’ and ‘t’, are added at the end.

Omar Barghouti is an independent Palestinian political analyst and founding member of the Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (www.PACBI.org)

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

So Many Tragedies in Such Little Time By photojournalist Mohammed Omer (over 18 only)

Foreign Boycotts over Iraq War: A Factor in US Economic Downturn by Sherwood Ross

The Lessons of Violence By Chris Hedges

People are dying, Help us! Death & Darkness in Gaza By Maan

So Many Tragedies in Such Little Time By photojournalist Mohammed Omer (over 18 only)

Warning

.

These phoros may contain images depicting the reality and horror of war and should only be viewed by a mature audience.

By photojournalist Mohammed Omer
ICH

21/01/08

Where to start…, what to talk about…? The crippling electricity shortages, affecting hospitals as well as civilians? The air strikes & on-going, daily bombings by the Israeli army, their indiscriminate targeting of civilians and police stations…? Israel’s non-accidental, enforced starvation of 1.5 million people by closing off ALL borders and not allowing in even UN aid, let alone basic medicinal, food, and construction needs…?

Photos Link

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

The Lessons of Violence By Chris Hedges

People are dying, Help us! Death & Darkness in Gaza By Maan

Foreign Boycotts over Iraq War: A Factor in US Economic Downturn by Sherwood Ross

Dandelion Salad

by Sherwood Ross
Global Research, January 22, 2008

One of the many contributing factors driving the U.S. economy’s sharp downturn is the anger of foreign consumers boycotting American brands over the Iraq war.

It’s not just many of the 1.5 billion Muslim consumers, either, that have quit buying Made in America. It’s people from France to Brazil to Canada to India, and it is a trend that began even before Bush invaded Iraq—remember those angry millions the world over that took to the streets urging him not to start it?

When foreigners, who once valued American craftsmanship, stop buying U.S. products, it’s got to worsen the balance of trade. And that can translate into layoffs, into closed factories, into reduced consumer spending. The Census Bureau is reporting the trade deficit in goods and services was a whopping $63 billion in October— and that’s a factor in the current meltdown.

Last July Reuters reported foreigners still have “a ferocious appetite for American goods and services” and noted U.S. multinationals were posting record earnings. Those profits might have been better, though, if not for the anti-war mood.

Lester Brown of the Earth Policy Institute noted as early as Oct., 2004, that Pew Global Attitude Project polls showed “the war in Iraq has undermined America’s credibility abroad” and “Anti-American sentiment is spreading around the world.”

A Pew follow-up poll last June, “documented wide anti-American sentiment since the survey was launched in 2002 and found those attitudes deepening this year,” Reuters reported. “The United States’ favorable ratings declined in 26 of 33 countries for which a comparison was available, with negative views particularly strong in the Middle East.” Reuters quoted Joseph Quinlan, chief market strategist at Bank of America Corp. saying: “Anti-Americanism has rarely been as prevalent and widespread as in the past five years. These circumstances have led many, ourselves included, to worry about a possible boycott or backlash against U.S. goods and services.”

That “possible boycott” actually got underway even before the first U.S. bomb fell on Iraq on March 18, 2003. As BBC reported from Thiruvananthapuram, India, earlier that month, social activists planned to boycott in “a last bid to prevent the unjust aggression on millions of innocent people.” And in Brazil, federal deputy Chico Alencar said if the U.S. made a unilateral attack on Iraq “we will boycott.”

Once Bush invaded, a rash of anti-U.S. product protests broke out that covered the globe:

# Protesters staged a die-in at a display of Coca-Cola products in Anglet, France.

# Ten restaurants in Hamburg, Germany, banned Cokes, Marloboro cigarettes, and American Express cards, USA Today reported.

# Leo Burnett ad agency poll of the Asia-Pacific region found one in four have avoided buying American brands.

# Right after the attack, members of the Indian Parliament “immediately demanded a countrywide boycott of American goods, particularly ubiquitous American brands like Coca-Cola, Pepsi and McDonald’s, as well as British-owned Lever soap…and in several Pakistani cities…religious groups issued regular boycott calls,” The Nation magazine reported.

# On March 25th, 2003, Reuters reported “Consumer fury seems to be on the rise. Demonstrators in Paris smashed windows of a McDonald’s restaurant last week, forcing police in riot gear to move in to protect staff and customers… The attackers sprayed obscenities and ‘boycott’ on the windows.”

# By December, 2004, Jim Lobe could write on AntiWar.Com, a survey by Seattle-based Global Market Insite found “brands closely identified with the U.S., such as Marlboro cigarettes, American Online, McDonald’s, American Airlines, and Exxon-Mobil, are particularly at risk.” And 20 percent of respondents in Europe and Canada said they consciously avoided buying U.S. products as a protest against those policies.

# And About.com: advertising, a part of The New York Times company, reported, “Fliers are being circulated in places like Egypt, Bahrain, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Morocco and Algeria, all calling for a full ban on anything U.S.-related.” In Ecuador, a protester burned a Ronald McDonald figurine and in Korea a demonstrator wearing a George Bush mask and armed with a gun climbed McDonald’s golden arches.

At Harvard, international marketing authority John Quelch said, “Never before have global concerns about American foreign policy so threatened to change consumer behavior.” He added, according to an article in the July 17th, 2003, British Independent, “We are not speaking here of the frivolous grandstanding associated with temporary boycotts by a student minority. We are witnessing the emergence of a consumer lifestyle with broad international appeal that is grounded in a rejection of American capitalism, American foreign policy and Brand America.”

When will those in the executive suites recognize that, apart from the firms pigging out at the Pentagon trough, making a stupid war of aggression is bad for the rest of Corporate America, not only for humans?

Sherwood Ross is a Miami, Florida-based journalist who covers political, military and economic topics. He has worked for several wire services and major dailies. Reach him at sherwoodr1@yahoo.com)

Sherwood Ross is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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

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© Copyright Sherwood Ross, Global Research, 2008
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Venezuela’s Chavez: Socialism still our goal by Federico Fuentes

Dandelion Salad

by Federico Fuentes
Atlantic Free Press
Bolivia Rising
Tuesday, 22 January 2008

A collective discussion is occurring throughout the revolutionary movement led by President Hugo Chavez following the defeat of the proposed constitutional reforms — that were intended to deepen the revolution to help open the way towards socialism — in the December 2 referendum.

Defeated by the narrowest of margins, the result took both sides by surprise. A cocky Chavista camp that had won 11 straight election victories was sent into a tailspin. The US-backed pro-capitalist opposition was forced to think up a new strategy, as the next stage in its well-orchestrated destabilisation campaign — taking to the streets against supposed electoral fraud — had to be postponed after Chavez graciously accepted defeat.

“For now we couldn’t do it!” explained Chavez in his concession speech.

Discussion and debate has exploded as the battalions of the new United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) — initiated by Chavez to unite the grass roots leaders of the process of change — convened to debrief. State television has hosted wide-ranging discussion. Left-wing websites such as Aporrea.org were flooded with opinion pieces.

Chavez gave his first sign of things to come on New Year’s Eve, announcing a decree giving amnesty to the 400 people who had signed the infamous “Carmona decree” that dissolved all public powers during the April 2002 right-wing coup against Chavez.

A few days later, speaking on state television, he noted: “We need to improve our strategy in regards to alliances. We cannot allow ourselves to be dragged along by extremist currents … No! We have to seek out alliances with the middle classes, even with the national bourgeois.”

Chavez explained on his first Alo Presidente TV show for the year on January 6 that “I am obliged to slow down the pace of the march. I’ve been imposing on it a speed that’s beyond the collective capacities or possibilities; I accept that, it is one of my mistakes.”

U-turn on socialism?

A “u-turn on socialism” is how Stephanie Blankenburg described it, writing in the January 8 New Statesman. Chavez “had decided to abandon his socialist agenda ‘for now'” because the country was not “ready for” for “his socialist project”.

Yet, argued Blankenburg, the December 2 vote “was essentially a protest vote by the ‘Chavista street’ against the ‘Chavista elite'”. Chavez’s “strategy of a shift to the ‘right'” — which she argues gives a “free reign to the ‘Chavista elites'” — was “unlikely to boost [his support] with the popular base”.

Alex Callinicos, a central leader of the British Socialist Workers Party wrote in the January 19 Socialist Worker that these moves were “cause for alarm” and “dangerously reminiscent” of those taken by the left-wing Chilean President Salvador Allende in 1973 when he “sought to make a deal with the right” while the right-wing were preparing to violently overthrow him and place General Augusto Pinochet in power.

Callinicos writes Chavez’s shift is based on acknowledging popular discontent with food shortages, inflation and corruption, but argues that dealing with these problems involves “not slowing down the revolutionary process, but accelerating it — breaking the hold of private capital on the economy.

“Corruption can only be rooted out by dismantling the existing state apparatus and replacing it with institutions of popular power. But Chavez is moving in the opposite direction.”

However, how accurate is this analysis of Chavez’s change of tact?

Self-criticism

It is clear that Chavez has listened intently to the wide-ranging criticisms of his government in order to formulate his response. His most thorough statement on the situation was his speech to the National Assembly on January 11.

He pointed to a number of issues confronting the revolution: the weight of the corporate media and lack of strategy to counter it; crime; food shortages; and especially the crippling problem of bureaucratism, inefficiency and corruption.

The latter has led to a weakening over 2007 of the social missions — which represent significant gains for the poor majority — and in particular the health care Mission Barrio Adentro and the cheap food distribution Mission Mercal.

Chavez raised the “harm done to the confidence of the people … being done everyday with a certain type of publicity, coming as much from local governments as the national government over which I preside; deceitful publicity, demagogic publicity, which many times contradicts the reality that the people live everyday …”

Part of the problem is presenting inflated figures that give an exaggerated view of the gains being made.

For instance, at the end of 2007, the government claimed there were 30,000 communal councils (grass roots bodies of popular power), but at the start of this year revised the figure to 18,000. Attempting to meet the arbitrary target of 50,000 councils in one year led to many problems as the process was rushed, rather than focusing on ensuring the councils were being formed correctly and at a pace appropriate to people’s ability to ensure they function properly.

Similar problems were associated with the PSUV — which signed up 5.7 million people last year, with more people listed as joining in some states than had voted for Chavez in the previous election. Official figures for ongoing participation in PSUV brigades were put at 1.5 million, which was clearly inflated and probably at least double the real figure.

Chavez pointed to the “contradictions between the discourse of the leader and the reality of bad management or bad political practices … The revolution needs to strengthen the confidence of the people … We have to convince and demonstrate at the same time.”

Chavez insisted: “This year, which I want to declare the year of ‘revolutionary impulsion’, must be a year of solutions of the small problems, the concrete problems of the people.”

It is partially true, as Blankenburg argues, that one factor in the referendum defeat was a protest vote against the bad management by different tiers of government.

Also there is no doubt a section of the Chavista camp and the state bureaucracy whose privileges have been threatened by the push for socialism, worked to sabotage the campaign. How else can you explain the fact that problems such as the food shortages were allowed to continue for several months without serious action by government or state institutions to tackle it?

This suggests that rather than attempting a rapid deepening of the process while confidence of the people has been undermined one the one hand and serious political weaknesses exist within the Chavista camp on the other, the correct course is to prioritise overcoming these twin problems in order to lay the ground work for the necessary significant advances.

This appears to be the essence of the plans set out by Chavez for 2008.

Strategic error

The strategic error, Chavez said and took full responsibility for, was that “it was not the moment to launch this new attack … we needed to have consolidated, we needed to have launched, relaunched, government projects, sought more efficiency …”

Chavez described the referendum defeat as like a boxer being dealt a blow but not knocked out. The boxer remains on his feet. The revolution did not advance but nor did it go backwards.

Reaffirming “that the only and true road to the definitive liberation of our homeland is the path of socialism”, Chavez said: “I call on everyone to make this a year of more advances.”

Chavez has set plans to bridge the gap that grew between him and the people, leading to the loss of nearly 3 million voters who backed him in the presidential elections, but abstained in the referendum. The aim is to find the ways to combine measures to solve the problems facing the mass of people with ways to raise the level of organisation and consciousness.

Doing this will inevitably bring the process into conflict with capitalist interests, as it already has. However, it doesn’t mean a forced march into a decisive battle without allowing for the necessary preparation of the working people.

New cabinet

Rather than giving free range to the “Chavista elite”, Chavez sent a clear message in his recent cabinet reshuffle: ministers have to be effective.

The clearest example of this is the new vice president, Ramon Carrizales, who is known for the fact that more houses were constructed last year with him as housing minister than in any previous year under the Chavez government.

He is also known for having led the successful project to rebuild the vital bridge between Caracas and the international airport in record time while he was infrastructure minister.

In a sign that the cabinet reshuffle doesn’t represent a fundamental political shift, the former vice president, Jorge Rodriguez, who was seen as a radical has been freed up to focus full time on heading up the PSUV — the key political instrument to take the revolution forward.

On the January 13 Alo Presidente a number of ministers came under fire for not moving fast enough on projects, sending a further signal to them and the people that the government is intent on making real changes.

The call for seeking agreements with middle class opposition supporters and national capitalists is partly due to a common complaint among the poor that Chavez’s rhetoric is often too confrontational and risks unnecessary conflict.

The amnesty for some of those involved in the coup was in response to the campaign by the opposition around supposed “political prisoners” and does not include those involved in crimes against humanity or those who fled the country to escape responsibility — in other words the key coup leaders are excluded from the amnesty. In this way, Chavez has undercut the opposition campaign — leaving them defending those who cannot be defended.

Popular power and political organisation

In the same speech that Chavez mentioned an alliance with the national bourgeoisie he also called on people to read V. I. Lenin, emphasising that the central priority has to be deepening the social and political organisation of the people — principally through the communal councils and the PSUV.

Declaring the promotion of communal power a central task, Chavez said: “The issue of the communal councils cannot limit itself to the transfer of resources … The most important thing is that you organise yourselves, become conscious of the social battle and go forward in consolidating the community …”

“In order that December 2 never happens again”, Chavez said at the opening speech for the PSUV founding congress on January 12, it is necessary to go on the offensive with the PSUV “as the spearhead and vanguard” of the revolution. “We have arrived here to make a real revolution or die trying.”

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

Ritual Gloating Postmortems – The Corporate Media v. Hugo Chavez by Stephen Lendman

Chavez and the referendum + Chavez and why the referendum failed (videos)

The Red Devil By Pepe Escobar

Venezuelan Referendum: A Post-Mortem and its Aftermath by Prof. James Petras

Chavez-Hugo