Florida Primary Results 01.29.08 Clinton, McCain winners

Dandelion Salad

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008

Florida Democratic Primary Results
Candidate    Votes    %
Hillary Clinton     856,944    50%
Barack Obama     568,930    33%
John Edwards     248,575    14%
Joe Biden     15,426    1%
Bill Richardson     14,782    1%
Dennis Kucinich     9,535    1%
Chris Dodd     5,402    0%
Mike Gravel     5,261    0%

Precincts: 99% | Updated: 3:15 AM ET | Source: AP

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/2008

Florida Republican Primary Results
Candidate    Votes    %
John McCain     693,425    36%
Mitt Romney     598,152    31%
Rudy Giuliani     281,755    15%
Mike Huckabee     259,703    13%
Ron Paul     62,060    3%
Fred Thompson     22,287    1%
Alan Keyes     4,003    0%
Duncan Hunter     2,787    0%
Tom Tancredo     1,556    0%

Precincts: 99% | Updated: 3:15 AM ET | Source: AP

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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Another Lauda in the Court of King George by The Other Katherine Harris + video

The Other Katherine Harris

by The Other Katherine Harris

Featured writer
Dandelion Salad

The Other Katherine Harris’s blog
Jan. 29, 2008

The annual SOTU ritual is always painful to me, since solemnities in the line of Laudes Regiae are so profoundly un-American.  Yes, yes, the prescribed acclamation that accompanies the president’s entry is in tribute to the office, not the individual, but doesn’t it seem berserk to hail any figure whose power derives from the people as if he were an emperor or pope embodying the divine potestas — especially when those who supply his ovation are our representatives, too?  Properly interpreted, it’s a vision of us saying, “Yea, Us!” That would be merely silly, but what we get plays as a Congressional obeisance.

Even if we had the benefit of widely beloved leaders duly executing our will to good effect — when a “Yea, Us!” wouldn’t stick in the throat — it would still be hard to endorse a ceremony modeled after the British monarch’s Speech from the Throne, aka Gracious Address, which marks the State Opening of Parliament.  Thomas Jefferson thought ill of it, too, and ended the practice.  Its sole basis in law (Article II, Section 3 of the Constitution) is one line — He shall from time to time give to Congress information of the State of the Union and recommend to their Consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient — so Jefferson sent written reports to be read by a clerk, as did his successors for more than a century.  Thus, only George Washington and the first John Adams personally delivered such speeches, until Woodrow Wilson swanned onto the stage in 1913.  Since then, presidents have gone either way, at times varying presentation mode within their terms of office.  Lately it’s become the usual thing to put the final account in writing (as Shrub is expected to do next year), while freshly inaugurated presidents with no SOTU statements to make show up to tout their goals. For anyone not already ejected from the White House, the propaganda value of a televised extravaganza each January is too alluring to resist.

What irks me most about this recurring spectacle is the grandiose protocol that developed around it, reinforcing the illusion of presidential supremacy.  One unfamiliar with the tripartite organization of our government and the history of the event — including, sadly, a huge chunk of our populace — would take away from last night’s rites the confused picture of a chief executive of medieval might, to whom all deference is owed and paid by a subservient legislature and judiciary.

The general willingness of Congress to play the role of loyal (or at least cowed) subjects is astonishing, really.  They’ve imposed upon themselves demands of decorum so extreme as to seem odious in a democratic republic. The lone exception I recall was a 2006 ovation by Democrats, when Shrub cited the failure of his Social Security privatization scheme.

While I don’t suggest that members of the opposition party should throw tomatoes and rotten eggs — or even indulge in Westminster-style heckling, although it would be fun — surely the nation literally ruined by the man addressing them deserved to see some stronger signs of Democratic displeasure than Obama squirming in his chair and the epilogue of a mild Kansas grandmother pitifully begging Shrub to “join us” as they know he and his thugs never will.

Personally, I wish the Democratic contingent had left Shrub to declaim before a half-empty house and then been shown elsewhere, cheering an impassioned response.  But that doesn’t fit with the DLC’s go-along-to-get-along campaign, into which everything Dems do is being forced to fit.  Whether the people like it or not.

UPDATE:
A superb analysis of the content of Shrub’s speech is HERE.  There’s a short video (see below) well worth seeing and the last line on the page is a link (though not underlined) to a 35-page PDF that addresses every single point brilliantly.  These folks must have worked their asses off last night and this morning.

***

Andrea Batista Schlesinger responds to 2008 State of Union

DMIblog

DMI’s Andrea Batista Schlesinger analyzes Bush’s 2008 State of Union address, and says that President Bush’s final State of the Union has failed the American middle class. In a time when virtually all the presidential candidates, regardless of party affiliation, have embraced “change” as a central campaign theme, the President’s 2008 State of the Union offered only more of the same.

see

Bush’s Final State of the Union Speech 01.28.08 (video; transcript)

State of Union Came With a Signing Statement By David Swanson

Biden, Webb, McCain & Obama respond to Bush’s SOTU (vids)

Olbermann: SOTU + The Florida Factor + Worst + Bushed!

Bush’s last State of the Union speech overshadowed by deepening crisis By Bill Van Auken

One Bush Left Behind by Greg Palast

State of the Union Reaction from Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) (vid link)

SOTU: Impeach/Remove/Jail by Davis Fleetwood (video)

State of Union Came With a Signing Statement + Signing Statement Silence By David Swanson

Updated: Jan. 30, 2008

Dandelion Salad

By David Swanson
After Downing Street
Tue, 2008-01-29 20:25

On the day of the State of the Union, apparently hoping nobody would notice, President George W. Bush posted a statement on the White House website announcing his intention to violate major sections of the Defense Authorization bill that he just signed into law.

For their part, the Democrats in Congress have chosen not to push for a just and decent economic stimulus plan, because they want to work amicably with Bush. They’ve chosen not to vote on contempt citations for Harriet Miers and Joshua Bolten in order to work more amicably on the economic stimulus package. They’ve scratched impeachment out of the Constitution, and Congressman Dennis Kucinich even backed down on his plans to introduce articles of impeachment on Monday. And of course, Congress is committed to throwing every possible dime down the blackhole of the Iraq occupation. What has been the president’s response to all this bipartisan cooperation?

He’s decided to close the office that handles Freedom of Information requests from Congress. He’s left Blackwater free but jailed citizens who reenact its crimes. He’s rewritten government reports on global warming. He’s blocked his Justice Departments investigation of political hirings and firings, while the former governor of Alabama begins his eighth month as a political prisoner. He’s delivered a State of the Union address packed with the same contemptuous lies as last year’s, and announced the seizure of new powers (which Congress greeted with applause). And then there’s the latest signing statement.

This statement announces in the by now familiar coded language of the “unitary executive” Bush’s intention to violate four key sections of a bill he is simultaneously making “law.”

CQ Today sums up these sections as follows:

“One such provision sets up a commission to probe contracting fraud in Iraq and Afghanistan. Another expands protections for whistleblowers who work for government contractors. A third requires that U.S. intelligence agencies promptly respond to congressional requests for documents. And a fourth bars funding for permanent bases in Iraq and for any action that exercises U.S. control over Iraq’s oil money.”

Did you get that? Bush gives himself the right not to probe contracting fraud. Is it HIS money? Is it HIS blood?

He gives himself the power to not protect whistleblowers. Of course, he already behaved that way and nobody did anything about it, so why shouldn’t he? The chairman of the House Judiciary Committee wrote a book about it before becoming chairman and won’t impeach, so why shouldn’t Bush flaunt his freedom to exact retribution on anyone who speaks out?

Bush gives himself the right not to provide Congress with documents. Did the impeachmentless Congress believe Bush lacked that right? Did Congress Members believe that a new law (signing statemented or not) would change anything?

And, finally, Bush gives himself the right (this is at least the fourth time he’s done this) to build and maintain permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq.

And do you hear a peep out of the Congress?

I’m straining my ears and not hearing the faintest squeak.

The CQ article http://afterdowningstreet.org/node/30543 quotes Senator Carl Levin and cites Senator Jim Webb as the leading sponsor of the contractor waste provision. Do you think either of them will back impeachment any more than Senator John McCain did when Bush signing statemented a torture ban.

CQ claims that Bush simply uses signing statements more frequently than any previous president. Nonsense. No previous president EVER used signing statements to announce the intention to violate laws, and then proceeded to violate them. A Government Accountability Office study last year found that in a sample of Bush signing statements he had already violated 30 percent of the laws he granted himself the power to violate.

The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on signing statements in January 2007 at which a Justice Department official effectively claimed the right for the president to violate any law until the Supreme Court rules on it. We’re going to need a younger Supreme Court if we expect it to keep up and function in the absence of any Congress willing to display a spine.

Nancy Pelosi, John Conyers, Jerrold Nadler, at long last, have you no decency?

***

President Bush Signs H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008 into Law

by George W. Bush

For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 28, 2008

http://www.whitehouse.gov/news/releases/2008/01/20080128-10.html

Today, I have signed into law H.R. 4986, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2008. The Act authorizes funding for the defense of the United States and its interests abroad, for military construction, and for national security-related energy programs.

Provisions of the Act, including sections 841, 846, 1079, and 1222, purport to impose requirements that could inhibit the President’s ability to carry out his constitutional obligations to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, to protect national security, to supervise the executive branch, and to execute his authority as Commander in Chief. The executive branch shall construe such provisions in a manner consistent with the constitutional authority of the President.

GEORGE W. BUSH

THE WHITE HOUSE,

January 28, 2008.

***

Updated: Jan. 30, 2008

Signing Statement Silence

By David Swanson

Every major pseudo peace movement organization in the country, afraid to actually urge Congress to cut off the money for the illegal occupation of Iraq, believed it was really important to set up a commission to probe contractor waste in Iraq, and to once again ban the construction and maintenance of permanent U.S. military bases in Iraq. Every open-government and whistleblowers group backed the expansion of protections for whistleblowers and the requirement that intelligence agencies promptly respond to congressional requests for documents.

This week President Bush signed the Defense Authorization bill into law, and then added a statement announcing his right to violate these four provisions. And the silence is deafening.

The Guardian newspaper in England, and the Boston Globe wrote serious reports.

The Associated Press wrote an article that touched on the topic but missed the point.

The Virginian Pilot wrote an article that followed Senator Jim Webb’s lead and avoided the central problem.

Senators Casey, Levin, and Webb made remarks that failed to challenge Bush’s abuse of power or mention the word “impeachment.”

The House of Representatives maintained a total and absolute silence.

And activist groups followed suit.

And they look like fools or hypocrites. All of them.

Yes, previous presidents have written signing statements, but never to announce their right to violate laws, only to express opinions about the laws that they were going to, as a matter of their essential duty as president, enforce.

Yes, a signing statement announcing the right to violate a law, and the actual violation are two different things.

Yes, a signing statement should be meaningless.

But the Supreme Court cites them and the Bush-Cheney administration acts on them. This is not the first time Bush has given himself the right to violate bans on permanent military bases, and he has continued to violate those bans. Bush and Cheney routinely refuse to provide Congress with information, to sanction contractor abuse, and to punish whistleblowers. These behaviors will continue, just as will torture and warrentless spying and various other activities that this administration derives the right to engage in from signing statements.

The Government Accountability Office found last year that in a small sample of these signing statements the Bush-Cheney administration had already followed through on violating 30 percent of the laws it claimed the right to violate. The corporate media now spins this as glass-half-full news (more than half the time he doesn’t mean it! hurray!).

Last January the House Judiciary Committee held hearings on the matter, laying bare the violation of constitutional separation of powers. A Justice Department official testified that the president could violate any law he liked until the Supreme Court told him to stop.

Any fourth grader who has seen the Constitution could tell you he was wrong. Sadly, in our new reality, he was right.
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

Bush Issues Signing Statement On Defense Act, Waiving Ban On Permanent Bases In Iraq

Leaked UK gov’t doc reveals plan to “coerce” Brits into national ID register – MIRROR THIS FILE!

Dandelion Salad

Posted by Cory Doctorow
BoingBoing
January 29, 2008 3:01 AM

Phil from the UK anti-ID-register group NO2ID sends in this nugget — note the call to action there. We’ve got a sensitive government document revealing the British government’s plan to trick us into a database state and we need as many copies as possible, as quickly as possible!

Continue reading

The Great Credit Unwind of ’08 By Mike Whitney

Dandelion Salad

By Mike Whitney
29/01/08 “ICH

“The current crisis is not only the bust that follows the housing boom, it’s basically the end of a 60-year period of continuing credit expansion based on the dollar as the reserve currency. Now the rest of the world is increasingly unwilling to accumulate dollars.”  George Soros, World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

Global market turmoil continued into a second week as stock markets in Asia and Europe took another tumble on Monday on growing fears of a recession in the United States. China’s benchmark index plummeted 7.2% to its lowest point in six months, while Japan’s Nikkei index slipped another 4.3%. Equities markets across Asia recorded similar results and, by midmorning in Europe, all three major indexes—the UK FTSE “Footsie”, France’s CAC 40, and the German DAX—were all recording heavy losses. It’s now clear that Fed Chairman Bernanke’s ‘surprise’ announcement of a 75 basis points cut to the Fed Funds rate last Tuesday has neither stabilized the markets nor restored confidence among jittery investors.

At the time of this writing, the storm clouds are swiftly moving towards Wall Street where markets are likely to be roiled on the very day that President Bush will give his farewell State of the Union speech.

In Monday’s Financial Times, Harvard economics professor, Lawrence Summers, made an impassioned plea for further government action in addition to the Fed’s rate cuts and Bush’s $150 billion “stimulus plan”. Summers believes that steps must be taken immediately to mitigate the damage from the sharp downturn in housing and persistent troubles in the credit markets. He suggests a “global coordination of policy”, which is another way of admitting that the Fed has lost control of the system and cannot solve the problem by itself.

Summers is right, although it’s easy to wonder why he remained silent while the markets were soaring and the investment banks were reaping trillions of dollars in profits on a “structured investment” swindle which has left the global financial system teetering on the brink of catastrophe. Now that the US economy is sliding towards recession; Summers is calling for “transparency”. How convenient.

“Financial institutions are holding all sorts of credit instruments that are impaired but are difficult to value, creating uncertainty and freezing new lending. Without more visibility, the economy and financial system risk freezing up as Japan’s did in the 1990s.”

 Right again. The banks are “capital impaired” because they are holding nearly $600 billion in mortgage-backed assets which are declining in value every month. This is forcing many banks to conceal their real condition from investors while they scour the planet for the extra capital they need to continue operations. As long as the banks are in distress, consumer and business lending will dwindle and the economy will continue to shrink. The main gear in the credit-generating mechanism is now broken. The rate cuts can provide liquidity, but they cannot bring insolvent banks back from the dead. Summers is expecting too much.

The United States has led the world into the greatest credit bust in history, and yet, few people even know what has transpired. The US massive current account deficit (nearly $800 billion) has been recycling into US Treasuries and securities from foreign investors. Up to this point, American markets were an attractive place to put one’s savings. The dollar was strong, and the stock market had a proven record of profitability and transparency. But since President Bill Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall in 1999, the markets have been reconfigured according to an entirely new model, “structured finance”. Glass-Steagall was the last of the Depression-era bulwarks against the merging of commercial and investment banks. As a result banking has changed from a culture of “protection” (of deposits) to “risk taking”, which is the securities business. Through “financial innovation” the investment banks created myriad structured debt instruments which they sold through their Enron-like “off balance” sheets operations (SIVs and Conduits) Now, trillions of dollars of these subprime and mortgage-backed bonds—many of which were rated triple A—are held by foreign banks, retirement funds, insurance companies, and hedge funds. They are steadily losing value with every rating’s downgrade. Here is a graph which illustrates how the scam works. http://bp2.blogger.com/

Summers, of course, understands the enormity of the swindle that has taken place beneath the noses of US regulators, but chooses not to hold any of the main actors accountable. Instead, he draws our attention to a little known part of the market which will probably lead the way to a stock market crash and a system-wide meltdown.

Here’s Summers:

“It is critical that sufficient capital is infused into the bond insurance industry as soon as possible. Their failure or loss of a AAA rating is a potential source of systemic risk. Probably it will be necessary to turn in part to those companies that have a stake in guarantees remaining credible because they have large holdings of guaranteed paper. It appears unlikely that repair will take place without some encouragement and involvement by financial authorities. Though there are many differences and the current problem is more complex, the Long-Term Capital Management work-out is an example of successful public sector involvement.”

Some of the largest bond insurers are are currently unable to cover the losses that are piling up from the meltdown in mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligations (CDO). Their business model is hopelessly broken and they will require an immediate $143 billion bailout to maintain operations. The largest of the bond insurers is MBIA.

“MBIA’s total exposure to bonds backed by mortgages and CDOs was disclosed to be $30.6 billion, including $8.14 billion of holdings of CDO-squareds (eds note; pure garbage). MBIA was being priced as a weak CCC-rated credit when it issued its bonds last week; it is now being priced for a bankruptcy. MBIA’s stock, which traded just under $68 per share last October, dropped another $3.50 this morning to under $10.00 per share.” (Stock analyst Michael Lewitt, quoted in Bloomberg)

Barclay’s estimates that the investment banks alone are holding as much as $615 billion of structured securities guaranteed by bond insurers. If the insurers default, hundreds of billions will be lost via downgrades.

So, in practical terms, what does it mean if the bond insurers go under?

It means that the system will freeze and the stock market will crash. Here’s how TV stock guru Jim Cramer summed it up last week in an interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews:

“But, Chris, there is something I would urge all the candidates to think about and our Treasury Secretary, which is that there are a group of insurance companies which insure all these bad mortgages and, Cris, I think they are all about to go belly-up, and that will cause the Dow Jones to decline 2,000 points. They’ve got to be shut down and the insurance given to a New Resolution Trust. This is going to happen in maybe two or three weeks, Chris, it going to on the front of every newspaper and no one in Washington is even willing to admit it.

Chris Matthews: “So who are you including in these mortgage companies that are going to go belly-up; give me a description?

These are MBIA and Ambac remember the companies that Merrill Lynch and Citigroup wrote down a lot of stuff the other day? All these companies are relying on insurance to save them. The insurers don’t have the money. There’s also personal mortgage insurance; that’s PMI, is one company; MGIC is another. Chris, I am telling you that these companies do not have the capital to “make good”. And when they do fall, and I believe it is when—if the government does not have a plan in action; you will not be able to open the stock market when they collapse.” No one is even talking about the fact that these major insurers, who insure $450 billion of mortgages are all about to go under.”

(See the whole video: http://www.crooksandliars.com/)

Cramer is correct in assuming that the market won’t open. And yet, so far, nothing has been done to avert the disaster which lies just ahead. Maybe nothing can be done?

So, how did things get so bad, so fast? How could the world’s most resilient and profitable markets be transformed into a carnival sideshow peddling poisonous “mortgage-backed” snake-oil to every gullible investor?

Author and stock market soothsayer Pam Martens puts it like this:

“How could a layered concoction of questionable debt pools, many of dubious origin, achieve the equivalent AAA rating as U.S. Treasury securities, backed by the full faith and credit of the U.S. government, and time-tested over a century of panics, crashes and the Great Depression?

How did a 200-year old “efficient” market model that priced its securities based on regular price discovery through transparent trading morph into an opaque manufacturing and warehousing complex of products that didn’t trade or rarely traded, necessitating pricing based on statistical models?” (The Free Market Myth Dissolves into Chaos, Pam Martens, counterpunch)

How, indeed?

 The answer to all these questions is “deregulation”. The financial system has been handed over to scam-artists and fraudsters who’ve created a multi-trillion dollar inverted pyramid of shaky, hyper-inflated, subprime slop that they’ve sold around the world with the tacit support of the ratings agencies and the US political establishment. (wink, wink) Now that system is about to collapse and there’s nothing that the Federal Reserve can do to stop the Great Credit Unwind of ’08.

 As economist Ludwig von Mises said:

  “There is no means of avoiding the final collapse of a boom brought on by credit expansion. The question is only whether the crisis should come sooner as a result of a voluntary abandonment of further credit expansion, or later as a final and total catastrophe of the currency system involved.”


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.

Crossing into Gaza (video) + The Convoy: Monday passed, the goods did not

Dandelion Salad

TheRealNews

More at http://therealnews.com/c.php?c=070926YT
Osamah Khalil: A visit to the downed wall and the political implications of the new border (1 of 2)

Tuesday January 29th, 2008

***

From an email:

Jewish Voice for Peace

Jewish Peace News has been passing along information about an Israeli convoy of goods, accompanied by approximately 1500 activists, which tried to cross the border into Gaza on Monday to deliver supplies to Palestinians under siege. There was always a good chance that the convoy would be blocked and prevented from entering Gaza. This is in fact what has happened, as the report below describes; still, the organizers will continue to do everything they can, up to and including an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court, to get these (non-perishable) supplies into Gaza.

It is of course an outrage that these humanitarian supplies are being blocked. Israeli officials when discussing the siege will often throw in some pro forma statement about regretting any suffering caused to the civilian population. Whatever personal feelings these officials might or might not have about the plight of Palestinian civilians, the refusal to permit humanitarian interventions such as the attempted convoy puts the lie to any expression of regret.

But it is important to keep in mind that the convoy IS in fact succeeding on several levels (at least), in spite of this set-back. Every act of public resistance, every event that stirs sympathy for the victims of these brutal policies, raises the cost of continuing the occupation in general and the siege in particular. But even more, the convoy is a strong, symbolic expression of solidarity, bringing together and empowering members of the Israeli peace community, generating international support, and acting as a potent expression of sympathy with the Palestinians under siege.

We can all act to help further the success of the convoy on these levels, and work to get the goods through. Below is an action alert with information on how to get involved.

Judith Norman

————

International alert from Gush Shalom: http://zope.gush-shalom.org/index_en.html

The Convoy: Monday passed, the goods did not
Time for protests

Saturday the army representatives at the Erez checkpoint indicated that Monday our truckloads of relief would go through. We didn’t rely on this vague promise too much but gave it the benefit of the doubt. After all, we also heard from KM Dov Kheinin (Hadash) that PM Olmert had told him personally that our relief would be let through.

Meanwhile, Monday passed and the goods did not go through.

While we are still in negotiations with the army and busy mobilizing Knesset members we would very much want activists abroad to strengthen the demand of “Let the convoy pass.”

We also prepared an appeal to the Supreme Court, but still hope to save the money it would cost and instead buy more water filters and add these to the convoy. But if all other means would fail we are prepared to go to court.

You can help in the campaign in many ways, by organizing protests but let’s start already by phoning, faxing and emailing. You may use the following sample letter or make a text of your own.

1) To Prime Minister Ehud Olmert through the PM’s Press office:

E-Mail: gpo@pmo.gov.il , eulmert@knesset.gov.il, PM_ENG1@it.pmo.gov.il (please, send to all)

Fax: +972-2-6233388 (NB: Fax is more likely to be noticed than an email message)

(You can personalize your letter making use of the following data:

The Director of the GPO is Daniel Seaman. The Director’s direct telephone number is 02-5007502, and his direct fax is 02- 6257886. The Director’s secretary is Noa Arazi.)

2) To Defence Minister Ehud Barak

Ministry of Defense
Address:
Hakirya, Tel Aviv 61909,
Israel

the Defense Ministry spokesperson

Tel: 972-3-6975546, 972-3-6975339
Fax: 972-3-6977285
Email: dover@mod.gov.il

3) To the Government of Israel via the embassy/Consulates in your country – for the embassy address look in:

http://www.learn4good.com/travel/israel_embassies.htm
http://www.travelguru.net/html/consulates/israel.html
http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/about%20the%20ministry/diplomatic%20missions/

With copies –

1) To the Delegation of the European Commission, delegation head Ramiro Cibrian – delegation-israel@ec.europa.eu

2) To the highest-ranking politician in your country whose address you can get, and/or which you have reason to think might act on it.

3) To MEP Luisa Morgantini luisa.morgantini@europarl.europa.eu

4) And also cc to us at: info@gush-shalom.org

============================================

Sample letter
Dear Sir

I am writing to urge you to authorize without further hindrance the entry into the Gaza Strip of the humanitarian goods carried in the convoy of Saturday 26, 2008, and held up near the Gaza Strip border ever since then. The goods held up consist of sacks of flour, rice and other basic food-stuffs, purchased with donations from Israel and all over the world*; of water filters, likewise purchased by donations, which are desperately needed due to the extreme pollution of Gaza’s water supply; and of parcels and packages which Israeli families bought as a gesture of goodwill to families in Gaza. All these goods are urgently needed in Gaza, and the passage of none could in any conceivable way endanger Israel’s security in any way. The continued holding up of these goods, as well as the continuation closing of passage of vital goods into Gaza in general, is a shame which must be ended.

Sincerely Yours,
……………………………

*If you were yourself among the donors, you can include a reference to that in your text.

———–

MONDAY, JANUARY 28, 2008

http://english.aljazeera.net/

Israel bars aid convoy to Gaza By Rachel Shabi at the Erez crossing, Gaza-Israel border

Israeli peace groups have braced dipping temperates and rain-sodden grounds at the Erez border crossing to try to get food aid through to Palestinians in Gaza [EPA]

The Israeli military has prevented an aid convoy organised by Israeli human rights organisations, peace activists, and former military personnel, from reaching needy families in the besieged Gaza Strip.

Since Saturday, Israeli groups have braved dipping temperatures and the unusually rain-sodden grounds of the Erez border crossing between Israel and the Gaza Strip, hoping that Israeli authorities would allow five tonnes of food through.

As of Monday, the Gaza-bound supplies, comprising non-perishable goods, are still warehoused at Kibbutz Kerem Shalom on the southern border of the Gaza strip, awaiting army clearance to cross into the strip.

Adam Keller, of Gush Shalom, an Israel-Palestine peace bloc, said: “We are still in negotiations with the army and are trying to mobilise Knesset members. We have an appeal to the supreme court that is ready to be lodged. We hope it will not come to that, but will use it if necessary.”

The Israeli supreme court is already considering a wider appeal made last week by Israeli humanitarian organisations, asking that the court compels the government to lift its blockade on Gaza.

Israeli, Palestinian unity

The Israeli and Palestinian peace activists first arrived at the Erez crossing in a convoy of about 100 cars and 20 buses that wound its way from Israel’s main cities to the border on Saturday.

Travelling under the “End the Siege!” banner, the convoy brought about 1,000 demonstrators and five tonnes of food aid to the border.

Saturday’s peace protests came from what in Israel is known as the ‘radical left’ [AFP] In the past 10 days Israel had tightened a seven-month blockade of the strip, halting supplies of foodstuffs, medical equipment and fuel.

The Israeli government describes the siege as a response to rocket fire into southern Israel from Gaza, but human rights groups see it as collective punishment.

Saturday’s peace activists came from what in Israel is known as the “radical left”, groups such as Gush Shalom (“Peace Bloc”), the International Committee Against House Demolitions, the Coalition of Women for Peace and the Arab-Israeli Balad and Hadash parties.

The action at Erez ran in tandem with a protest in Gaza City, where some 200 demonstrators gathered and were connected to Israeli demonstrators via speeches broadcast in both directions through mobile phones.

Organisers had planned that Israelis and Gazans would protest within eye distance of each other – with the former group located on a nearby Israeli hilltop enabling line-of-sight vision with the latter group – but this proposal was rejected by the Israeli army, citing security reasons.

Making his way to the Erez border from Jerusalem, Reuben Moskovitz, 79, a self-defined veteran campaigner, said: “I am glad to see today that the Israeli peace movement is still alive and there are still people ready to make an outcry against this huge crime against humanity, against international law and against peace that is being committed in Gaza.”

Symbolic gesture

Demonstrators of a different generation were of the same mind.

“We just thought that the blockade of Gaza is wrong, that starving people and preventing them from having basic human rights like food, fuel and water is not the solution,” said Rachel Aharoni, 17, from Tel Aviv.

Demonstrators brought two lorry-loads of food and provisions to the Erez border [AFP] Arab-Israeli protesters were also a prominent presence at the crossing.

“It is so painful for me to see this reality in Gaza, as a mother and as a human being, and not to do anything,” said Arees Sabbagh, 28, from Nazareth. “I see it as a human obligation to come today.”

Demonstrators brought two lorry-loads of food and provisions to the Erez border, which the campaigners expect to cross on Monday morning.

“We don’t believe that this is going to solve the problem in Gaza,” says Amit Ramon, one of the organisers.

“It is intended to be symbolic.”

The goods in part comprise parcels made up by individual demonstrators bearing hand-written notes to their recipients.

Praising the breach

Several of the speakers at the Erez crossing on Saturday praised Gazans on breaching the Rafah border last week, while condemning both Qassam rocket attacks from the strip on the Israeli border town of Sderot and Israeli military attacks on Gaza.

Eyad Sarraj, founder of the Gaza Community Mental Health programme, spoke from Gaza City by mobile phone and his voice was amplified on the Israeli side of the crossing.

“I am deeply honoured and proud to have the chance to talk to you,” he told the Israelis.

“Every drop of blood shed in Israel or in Palestine is a crime against humanity that has to be prevented.”

Just like Moskovitz, the peace veteran from Jerusalem, Sarraj later told Al Jazeera that demonstrators in Gaza were “pleasantly surprised that there is still a peace camp in Israel”.

But the slogans and demands of this camp are clearly drowned out by the opinions of a wider Israeli public.

“The people who are organising those convoys are considered to be fringe, eccentric and liberal in the negative, American meaning of the word,” says Akiva Eldar of the Israeli liberal newspaper, Haaretz.

In recent weeks, and especially before the Hamas breach of the Rafah border crossing, much of the Israeli media focus was on the rocket attacks on Sderot.

According to the Israeli ministry of foreign affairs, over 200 Qassam rockets and mortar bombs have been fired on Sderot and nearby communities since mid-January.

Public supports blockade

Ephraim Yaar, an academic and co-author of Tel Aviv University’s Peace Index which monitors Israeli public opinion, suggests that the national mood is one of support for the tightened seal of Gaza’s borders.

“In terms of Sderot and other communities around the Gaza strip, people feel that something must be done about it and that the Israel government’s responsibility is to protect its citizens,” he said.

Yaar said the Israeli public is sceptical about warnings of an impending humanitarian disaster in Gaza where 80 per cent of the population depends on the UN for food aid.

“They don’t believe that the situation in Gaza is as bad as is described,” Yaar said.

While international newspapers reported on the severe consequences in Gaza of an Israeli fuel blockade and consequent closure of the electricity generator, Israeli media discussed whether the issue might have been manipulated and exaggerated by Hamas.

Both Yaar and Eldar point out that UN reports do not hold much credibility among the Israeli public.

The most recent Peace Index poll, earlier this month, reveals that 81 per cent of Israelis support increasing “the targeted killings” of Palestinian fighters. And 65 per cent do not think that Israel should reach a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.

Sharing the suffering

But at the Erez crossing, where protesters stayed without incident for several hours under the watchful eye of Israeli border guards, a surprising endorsement of the radical left position came from a resident of kibbutz Zikim, near Sderot.

Addressing the rally, Shir Shudzik, 17, described the trauma of living under rocket fire for the past seven years.

But then she said: “I know that I’m not alone in this situation, that people are suffering even more on the other side.”

Shudzik said she does not trust either Hamas or the Israel government to bring peace.

“But the fact that we are here together, Arabs and Jews, might be a beginning and it brings me hope,” she said.

This message of hope was echoed by the organisers of the rally.

Uri Avnery, of Gush Shalom, in an earlier statement said: “Our hearts and minds are with our Palestinian brothers who are at this moment demonstrating with us on the other side of the fence – Don’t lose faith that one day we will meet together in this place without fences, without walls, without firepower, without violence, the sons of two peoples living next to each other in peace, in friendship, in partnership.”

——–
Jewish Peace News editors:
Joel Beinin
Racheli Gai
Rela Mazali
Sarah Anne Minkin
Judith Norman
Lincoln Shlensky
Alistair Welchman

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

Israeli Army’s “Relief” means fuel cuts of up to 81%, power cuts starting Feb. 7

End the Illegal Israeli Siege of Gaza – Empty Walls (video)

Voices from Gaza by Jennifer

How To Help Feed & Support Children of The Gaza Strip & West Bank By Tom Feeley + audio link

SOTU: Impeach/Remove/Jail by Davis Fleetwood (video)

Dandelion Salad

davisfleetwood

check out the revamped website:
http://www.nocureforthat.com

THEME MUSIC BY TWENTY FOUR THOUSAND DOLLARS:
http://myspace.com/twentyfourthousand…

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Bush’s Final State of the Union Speech 01.28.08 (video; transcript)

Biden, Webb, McCain & Obama respond to Bush’s SOTU (vids)

Olbermann: SOTU + The Florida Factor + Worst + Bushed!

Bush’s last State of the Union speech overshadowed by deepening crisis By Bill Van Auken

One Bush Left Behind by Greg Palast

State of the Union Reaction from Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) (vid link)

Impeachment Statement by Presidential Candidate Senator Mike Gravel

Congressman Kucinich On The Impeachment Of President George Bush

Kucinich to Introduce Articles of Impeachment Against Bush on Jan 28 State of Union Day By David M. Herszenhorn + videos (updated: added transcript and a ‘mash-up’ video: Offending Words)

01.28.08 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

Jan. 28, 2008

linktv

For more: http://linktv.org/originalseries
“Clashes Erupt in Southern Beirut,” Al Jazeera TV, Qatar
“Interview with Samir Geagea,” LBC TV, Lebanon
“Israel Allows Fuel into Gaza,” IBA TV, Israel
“Iranians Mrach in Solidarity with Palestinians,” Al-Alam TV, Iran
“PLFP Leader George Habash Dies,” Al Arabiya TV, UAE
“Roadside Bomb Targets Mourners in Iraq,” Al Jazeera English, Qatar
“Tribal Leader Elected to Head Yemeni Parliament,” Dubai TV, UAE
“UAE Guest of Honor at Cairo Book Fair,” Abu Dhabi TV, UAE
Produced for Link TV by Jamal Dajani. 

The Iraq war costs $720 million per day. How would you spend it? (video)

Dandelion Salad

One Day = $720 Million

AFSCVideos

Visit http://www.afsc.org/cost to tell Congress how you want your tax dollars spent. The Iraq war has taken the lives of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and thousands of U.S. military personnel. It is also costing $720 Million dollars each day – dollars that could be spent in much more constructive ways. It is time to DEFUND the war and RE-FUND human needs in the U.S. and Iraq. Get more details about our Cost of War campaign and sign our petition at http://www.afsc.org/cost.

***

Add your voice:
Sign the petition
to defund the war, and refund human needs today.

Get Involved:
You can participate in the Cost of War campaign. Here are some of the ways you can get involved:


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

Why The Right Loves a Disaster By Naomi Klein

Israeli Army’s “Relief” means fuel cuts of up to 81%, power cuts starting Feb. 7

Dandelion Salad

by Racheli Gai
The Shalom Center

This report is from “Gisha,” (Hebrew for “access” and “approach”), an Israeli not-for-profit organization, founded in 2005, whose goal is to protect the freedom of movement of Palestinians, especially Gaza residents. Gisha promotes rights guaranteed by international and Israeli law. It is one of the plaintiffs in a suit before the Israeli Supreme Court challenging the fuel cuts to Gaza.

***

Israel’s “Relief”:
Fuel Cuts of Up to 81%
New Electricity Cuts Beginning February 7

Monday, January 28, 2008: After more than a week of near-total ban on fuel supplies, Israel said yesterday that it would resume permitting Gaza residents to purchase fuel – but would limit the amount they could buy by as much as 81% and would cut the electricity supplied directly to Gaza beginning February 7.

The state made the announcement in advance of yesterday’s hearing in Israel’s Supreme Court, as part of its response to a court petition filed by 10 Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups challenging punitive cuts in fuel and electricity supplies to Gaza residents. The court has yet to issue a decision.

After almost totally blocking fuel supply last week, Israel through the State Attorney’s Office told the court it would resume permitting Gaza residents to purchase diesel, petrol (gasoline) and industrial diesel but would only allow them a small percentage of what they need. The State Attorney’s office also told the court that it would reduce the electricity that Israel’s Electric Company sells directly to Gaza by 5% on three lines (a total of 1.5 MW), beginning February 7.

…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

End the Illegal Israeli Siege of Gaza – Empty Walls (video)

Voices from Gaza by Jennifer

How To Help Feed & Support Children of The Gaza Strip & West Bank By Tom Feeley + audio link

Bush’s last State of the Union speech overshadowed by deepening crisis By Bill Van Auken

Dandelion Salad

By Bill Van Auken
wsws.org
29 January 2008

George W. Bush used his eighth and final State of the Union speech Monday night to outline an agenda of continuing wars of aggression abroad together with social reaction and political repression at home that is certain to continue well past his leaving office a year from now, no matter which party wins the 2008 election.

Yet the ritualistic annual affair—marked by obscene applause and cheering from both Democratic and Republican legislators for a man who should be standing trial as a war criminal—was overshadowed by the deepest crisis confronting US and world capitalism since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

The entire affair was dominated by the most pervasive feature of American political life—the immense disconnect between the masses of American working people and the thin financial aristocracy that controls and whose interests are represented by both major political parties.

Bush began his address with a salute to the “collective wisdom of ordinary citizens” and an affirmation of his supposed conviction that government must “trust in the ability of free people to make wise decisions.”

…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

Bush’s Final State of the Union Speech 01.28.08 (video; transcript)

One Bush Left Behind by Greg Palast

State of the Union Reaction from Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) (vid link)

Biden, Webb, McCain & Obama respond to Bush’s SOTU (vids)

Olbermann: SOTU + The Florida Factor + Worst + Bushed!

One Bush Left Behind by Greg Palast

Dandelion Salad

by Greg Palast
January 29th, 2008

Here’s your question, class:

In his State of the Union, the President asked Congress for $300 million for poor kids in the inner city. As there are, officially, 15 million children in America living in poverty, how much is that per child? Correct! $20.

Here’s your second question. The President also demanded that Congress extend his tax cuts. The cost: $4.3 trillion over ten years. The big recipients are millionaires. And the number of millionaires happens, not coincidentally, to equal the number of poor kids, roughly 15 million of them. OK class: what is the cost of the tax cut per millionaire? That’s right, Richie, $287,000 apiece.

Mr. Bush said, “In neighborhoods across our country, there are boys and girls with dreams. And a decent education is their only hope of achieving them.”

So how much educational dreaming will $20 buy?

-George Bush’s alma mater, Phillips Andover Academy, tells us their annual tuition is $37,200. The $20 “Pell Grant for Kids,” as the White House calls it, will buy a poor kid about 35 minutes of this educational dream. So they’ll have to wake up quickly.

-$20 won’t cover the cost of the final book in the Harry Potter series.

If you can’t buy a book nor pay tuition with a sawbuck, what exactly can a poor kid buy with $20 in urban America? The Palast Investigative Team donned baseball caps and big pants and discovered we could obtain what local citizens call a “rock” of crack cocaine. For $20, we were guaranteed we could fulfill any kid’s dream for at least 15 minutes.

Now we could see the incontrovertible logic in what appeared to be quixotic ravings by the President about free trade with Colombia, Pell Grant for Kids and the surge in Iraq. In Iraq, General Petraeus tells us we must continue to feed in troops for another ten years. There is no way the military can recruit these freedom fighters unless our lower income youth are high, hooked and desperate. Don’t say, ‘crack vials,’ they’re, ‘Democracy Rocks’!

The plan would have been clearer if Mr. Bush had kept in his speech the line from his original draft which read, “I have ordered 30,000 additional troops to Iraq this year – and I am proud to say my military-age kids are not among them.”

Of course, there’s an effective alternative to Mr. Bush’s plan – which won’t cost a penny more. Simply turn it upside down. Let’s give each millionaire in America a $20 bill, and every poor child $287,000.

And, there’s an added benefit to this alternative. Had we turned Mr. Bush and his plan upside down, he could have spoken to Congress from his heart.

-For more on Bush and education read “No Child’s Behind Left” in Armed Madhouse excerpted here.

-Also read Palast’s take on the 2007 State of the Union here.

***
Greg Palast is the author of the NY Times best-sellers, Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy. View Palast’s investigative reports for BBC Television on our YouTube Channel.

Join our social networking sites on Facebook on MySpace and on Google’s Orkut. Sign up for RSS updates of our site and for our podcasts.

Support our work by donating to the Palast Investigative Fund(a 501c3 educational foundation).

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

State of the Union Reaction from Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) (vid link)

Biden, Webb, McCain & Obama respond to Bush’s SOTU (vids)

Olbermann: SOTU + The Florida Factor + Worst + Bushed!

Bush’s Final State of the Union Speech 01.28.08 (video; transcript)

End the Illegal Israeli Siege of Gaza – Empty Walls (video)

Dandelion Salad

ManilaRyceTLM
January 29, 2008

End the Illegal Israeli Siege of Gaza – Empty Walls

On January 23rd, Gazans flooded into Egypt on the sixth day of the illegal Israeli blockade through holes blown by at least 15 explosions along the border wall separating occupied Gaza and Egypt.

Unguided Qassam rockets fired by Palestinian militants, in response to Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine, have only killed around a dozen people since 2001, yet the Zionist regime states that these homemade rockets are enough of a threat to declare the entire occupied territory of Gaza a “hostile entity”. Israel has cut off vital water supplies, fuel, and electricity to Palestinian civilians. This constitutes collective punishment, which is in direct violation of the Geneva Conventions.

By declaring Gaza a “hostile entity”, Israel intends to create the same loophole that the Bush administration created by declaring detainees “illegal enemy combatants”. Under this new definition, the Jewish state can argue that international law no longer applies to any of the 1.5 million inhabitants there. This is Gitmo on a much larger scale (sans the food, healthcare, and desire to keep you alive). Gaza has been fully transformed from a giant prison into a concentration camp, where the mistreatment, starvation, and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians are the expressed directives of the Jewish state.

It should also be noted that the so-called “peace talks” between Olmert, Bush, and Abbas have excluded the democratically elected Hamas government. These talks have only renewed the ties between Israel and its puppet Fatah government. The occupied territories were taken by war, which means they must be returned under international law. The point of these “peace talks” is only to sidestep international consensus by pressuring the weaker side to release Israel of more and more of its obligations under international law. Israeli apologists will often talk of how “generous” Israel has been during such talks, but only in relation to the few unreasonable demands it’s willing to give up, and not in relation to what it is actually entitled to under international law.

The Palestinians are powerless, and rely on us for their survival. We’re the ones with the power to force Israel to adhere to international law. Any blockade, no matter how relaxed Israel claims, is far too inhumane to impose on a people already living under occupation, apartheid, and systematic ethnic cleaning. This is true terrorism, and our government makes it possible. Americans cannot in good conscience support any politician who supports Israel without condition.

Speaker Nancy Pelosi: (202) 225-0100
The House of Representatives: 1-800-828-0498
Email your representatives here:
http://www.rallycongress.com/letter2c…

see

Voices from Gaza by Jennifer

How To Help Feed & Support Children of The Gaza Strip & West Bank By Tom Feeley + audio link

Kucinich Urges Restoration of Humanitarian Aid to Gaza

‘Breakout into Israel’ ahead By Abraham Rabinovich

Israeli Oppression in Hebron – A Case History of Separation, Forced Displacement & Terror by Stephen Lendman

The Fear Factory By Guy Lawson

Dandelion Salad

By Guy Lawson
ICH
28/01/08 “RollingStone

The FBI now has more than 100 task forces devoted exclusively to fighting terrorism. But is the government manufacturing ghosts?

Click here to read a history of every homeland-security terror alert and the real news that was buried

“So, what you wanna do?” the friend asked. “A target?” the wanna-be jihadi replied. “I want some type of city-hall-type stuff, federal courthouses.”

It was late November 2006, and twenty-two-year-old Derrick Shareef and his friend Jameel were hanging out in Rockford, Illinois, dreaming about staging a terrorist attack on America. The two men weren’t sure what kind of assault they could pull off. All Shareef knew was that he wanted to cause major damage, to wreak vengeance on the country he held responsible for oppressing Muslims worldwide. “Smoke a judge,” Shareef said. Maybe firebomb a government building.

But while Shareef harbored violent fantasies, he was hardly a serious threat as a jihadi. An American-born convert to Islam, he had no military training and no weapons. He had less than $100 in the bank. He worked in a dead-end job as a clerk in a video-game store. He didn’t own a car. So dire were his circumstances, Shareef had no place to live. Then one day, Jameel, a fellow Muslim, had shown up at EB Games and offered him shelter. Within hours of meeting his new brother, Shareef had moved in with Jameel and his three wives and nine children. Living together, the pair fantasized about targets in Rockford, a Midwestern city of 150,000, with a minuscule Muslim population and the lone claim to fame of being the hometown of Cheap Trick.

The fact that Shareef was a loser with no means of living out his imagination didn’t stop his friend from encouraging his delusions of grandeur. On the contrary, Jameel continually pushed Shareef to escalate his plans. “When you wanna plan on doing this?” he asked Shareef, talking about the plot to go after a government building. “Because we have to make specific plans and dates.”

For all his bluster, Shareef was, by any objective measure, a pathetic and hapless jihadist — one of a new breed of domestic terrorists the federal government has paraded before the media since 9/11. The FBI, in a sense, elevated Shareef, working to transform him from a boastful store clerk into a suicidal mall-bomber. Like many other alleged extremists who have been targeted by the authorities, Shareef didn’t know that his brand-new friend —the eager co-conspirator drawing him ever further into a terror plot —was actually an informant for the FBI.

As Shareef cursed America and Jews, he was under almost constant surveillance by the Joint Terrorism Task Force for the Northern District of Illinois. Since 9/11, the number of such outfits across the country has tripled. With more than 2,000 FBI agents now assigned to 102 task forces, the JTTFs have effectively become a vast, quasi-secret arm of the federal government, granted sweeping new powers that outstrip those of any other law-enforcement agency. The JTTFs consist not only of local police, FBI special agents and federal investigators from Immigration and the IRS, but covert operatives from the CIA. The task forces have thus effectively destroyed the “wall” that historically existed between law enforcement and intelligence-gathering. Under the Bush administration, the JTTFs have been turned into a domestic spy agency, like Britain’s MI5 —one with the powers of arrest.
The expenditure of such massive resources to find would-be terrorists inevitably requires results. Plots must be uncovered. Sleeper cells must be infiltrated. Another attack must be prevented —or, at least, be seen to be prevented. But in backwaters like Rockford, the JTTFs don’t have much to do. To find threats to thwart, the task forces have increasingly taken to using paid informants to cajole and inveigle targets like Shareef into pursuing their harebrained schemes. In the affidavit sworn by an FBI special agent in support of Shareef’s indictment, the co-conspirator who called himself Jameel is known only as “CS” (Cooperating Source). In fact, CS was William Chrisman, a former crack dealer with a conviction for attempted robbery who was paid $8,500 by the JTTF and dispatched specifically to set up Shareef. Like other informants in terrorism cases, Chrisman had been “tasked” by federal agents to indulge and escalate Shareef’s fantasies — while carefully ensuring that Shareef incriminated himself.

…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.