January 30, 2009
Talk by Prof. Stephen Zunes on “Occupation and the Attack on International Law” given December 9, 2005 in Seattle.
Christian Zionists believe that in order to fulfill Biblical prophecy, Israel must conquer most of the Middle East. They are a growing force in American politics with ties to many powerful pro-Israel groups in Washington. Once considered a marginal doctrine among evangelicals, the dispensationalist theology of Christian Zionism includes a belief in the rapture, when the faithful are to be lifted up to Heaven while the rest of humanity—including most of the Jews—will perish.
by Tom Eley
Global Research, February 8, 2009
World Socialist Web Site – 2009-02-06
On Wednesday, President Barack Obama announced measures that purport to restrict executive compensation to $500,000 at financial institutions receiving billions in government assistance. The figure does not include stock options, which could be redeemed after financial firms pay back loans from the federal government. Nor does it apply to the original recipients of tens of billions in TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money.
The measures are essentially a public relations exercise. Their aim is to provide political cover for a new and even larger Wall Street bailout, which Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will unveil next week.
Yet the discussion that has emerged in the wake of Obama’s announcement sheds light on the domination of government by a tiny financial elite and the increasingly threadbare pretense of democracy in the US. This financial aristocracy, the episode reveals, is a power to be approached on bended knee.
The media have responded to Obama’s proposal of a $500,000 limit on executive compensation, which would affect only a handful of firms, as though this were a severe and astonishing punishment. Yet the figure represents approximately 12 times the annual salary of the typical worker. To the majority of the population, a salary of a half million dollars is a staggering amount of money.
The most important words at the inauguration of President Barack Obama were of course those spoken by him in his Inaugural Address. On January 19, 2009 I wrote a Commentary for BuzzFlash entitled “My Wish List for the Inaugural Address.”
It was published on inauguration day. At the beginning of that Commentary I said:
“A couple of weeks ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee sent out a questionnaire to its contributors (of which, I must admit, I am one). It asked for one’s top pick for the must-deal-with problems. The list consisted of the usual suspects, beginning with what can be called ‘The Five “E’s” ‘(with liberties taken): Economic stimulus, Education, Environment, Ealth Care, and Eraq (well some people do pronounce it that way), as well as Tax Reform (?!) and, somewhere on the list, ‘national defense/security.’ My answer, had I answered, would have been ‘None of the above.’ One will likely hear some version or another of the list above in Pres. Obama’s address. But I am really hoping, oh boy am I hoping, that some significant percentage of the time in what will be a relatively short speech (20 minutes or so, so we have been told) will be devoted to the Big ‘C:’ the Constitution, and to the restoration of Constitutional Democracy (C.D.) in the United States.”
Yes indeed. In his inaugural address, I wanted Pres. Obama to give some significant time to the substance of the Statement of Purpose of TPJmagazine: “THE PRESERVATION AND PROMOTION OF CONSTITUTIONAL DEMOCRACY.” Well, my wish was rewarded. Below I will highlight those portions of Pres. Obama’s Inaugural that constituted my reward. But before doing that I would like to turn to the words of another speaker about whom I had also written commentary before the event, commentary that appeared both on the pages of BuzzFlash and right here on TPJmagazine, Rick Warren. Like many other commentators on the Left, I took Warren apart. I also criticized the choice that the Team Obama had made. For it fell into the trap set by the Right that in contemporary American politics homophobia is politically OK, just as long as the putative subject is “gay marriage.”
Then along came Rev. Warren, to give the invocation. Much to my surprise, in his words I found much to admire and nothing to complain about. Indeed many observers on the Left did complain about the frequent references to “God” and to “Jesus.” But the man is a Christian minister. He believes in both God and Christ, as divine, sentient, powerful beings, existing in the supernatural. I am a Secular Humanist Jew and I don’t believe in what he believes in. But I respect him and his beliefs and I also believe in the First Amendment. Thus he is free to express them, in our country. What I do not agree with is when Christians, or the representatives of any other religion (including Judaism), attempt to force their particular beliefs upon me, in an attempt to control and limit my beliefs, through the force of law. But that is another matter.
So surprising to me were the words in his invocation which completely contradicted the homophobic positions he has taken on many other occasions, from the pulpit and elsewhere. I am just wondering if, because of the furor that followed his selection, the Rev. did some rethinking, perhaps even communicating in the manner in which he does with his concept of “God.” In so doing did he learn, perhaps, that his God truly loves all of his or her creations, including homosexuals? To paraphrase Lincoln, in fact God must love the gays and lesbians because he made so many of them. And so, let’s listen to the Rev. Warren:
“Now today we rejoice not only in America’s peaceful transfer of power for the 44th time. We celebrate a hinge-point of history with the inauguration of our first African-American president of the United States. We are so grateful to live in this land, a land of unequaled possibility, where the son of an African immigrant can rise to the highest level of our leadership. . . . Give to our new president, Barack Obama, the wisdom to lead us with humility, the courage to lead us with integrity, the compassion to lead us with generosity. . . . [r]emember that we are Americans, united not by race or religion or blood, but to our commitment to freedom and justice for all.
“When we focus on ourselves, when we fight each other, when we forget you, forgive us. When we presume that our greatness and our prosperity is ours alone, forgive us. When we fail to treat our fellow human beings and all the Earth with the respect that they deserve, forgive us.
“And as we face these difficult days ahead, may we have a new birth of clarity in our aims, responsibility in our actions, humility in our approaches, and civility in our attitudes, even when we differ. Help us to share, to serve and to seek the common good of all. May all people of good will today join together to work for a more just, a more healthy [sic], and a more prosperous nation and a peaceful planet.”
I say that these are memorable words, with which all supporters of President Obama (and even some, but unfortunately not all, of his opponents) can agree. I say with all due respect to the Rev. Warren: “Is it possible that, having gone through the fire of the criticism aimed at you for your evil words said to our gay and lesbian compatriots, you have again been born again and moved to a higher level of understanding of your fellow man?” We shall see what the future holds for the Rev. Warren.
Turning now to the words President Obama. To review, in my “wish list” Commentary on (BuzzFlash) I said: “I am really hoping, oh boy am I hoping, that some significant percentage of the time in what will be a relatively short speech (20 minutes or so, so we have been told) will be devoted to the Big ‘C:’ the Constitution, and the restoration of Constitutional Democracy in the United States.” Well, the word “Constitution” did not appear in the President’s Address. But it was very much of a presence.
Paraphrasing the great work by Aaron Copeland, “A Lincoln Portrait,” that opened the Inaugural Concert on January 18, President Obama said, this is what he said: “The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works — whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end.”
In this light, listen to the most ignored section of the Constitution, the Preamble: “We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” No prescription for big or small government here, but for one that works, for the benefit of all the people, in the context of the democratic government, operating under the Rule of Law, that the body of the Constitution prescribes.
President Obama said, this is what he said: “As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our founding fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience’s sake. . . . [O]ur security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint. We are the keepers of this legacy.” We can find in these words echoes of the First, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Ninth, and Fourteenth Amendments.
Echoing the First Amendment once more, President Obama said: “We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus — and non-believers.” To my knowledge, no President has ever referred, as he did with these last words, to my sector of the population. It now, it has been estimated, stands at 30,000,000 strong. Echoing the Fifteenth Amendment, the original Civil Rights Act that took 100 years to be put into force, President Obama said: “This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed — why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent Mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.”
And finally President Obama said, referring to the darkest days of the American Revolution, spent by General Washington and his Winter Soldiers at Valley Forge,
“So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America’s birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words [of Thomas Paine] be read to the people: ‘Let it be told to the future world … that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive…that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet (it).’ “
The President probably does not know, for few Americans do, that the great Prussian officer Baron Friedrich von Stueben, who trained the Continental Army into fighting shape throughout that bitter winter, at the age of 47 to be a life-long bachelor, brought with him only his French secretary, a handsome young man of 19.
And that, my friends, brings us back to the words of those in this country who would deny people their civil rights, simply because they have a different sexual identity than do the majority. And so, by implication, President Obama finished his address by alluding to perhaps the most important clause of the Fourteenth Amendment: “[No] State shall . . . deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Rick Warren, in light of both your own words and those of the President, please re-think where you stand on the issue of gay marriage and beyond it, the whole nature of homosexuality and the place of homosexuals in our society. I must say that I hope that the President and his political advisors do too.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) and author/co-author/editor of 30 books. He has also published numerous articles and reviews in both the academic and the lay literature on health policy, health and wellness, and athletics. On politics Dr. Jonas is a www.TPJmagazine.us Contributing Author; a regular Columnist for the webmagazine Buzz Flash; a Special Contributing Editor for Cyrano’s Journal Online; a Contributing Columnist for the Project for the Old American Century, POAC; a regular contributor to Thomas Paine’s Corner http://thomaspainescorner.wordpress.com/; and a Featured Writer for Dandelion Salad https://dandelionsalad.wordpress.com/.
Thirty years after the founding of the Islamic republic, the ideals that inspired the uprising continue to inform every day life in modern Iran.
So how has the revolution managed to sustain itself through war, international isolation, economic sanctions, and regional turbulence?
And how has Iranian society changed since the seismic upheaval of 1979?
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Pt 2 Continue reading
By Jacob G. Hornberger
February 07, 2009 “fff”
Among the things about the Iraq War that I have never been able to understand is how American Christians have been able, in good conscience, to support this war. After all, no one can deny that neither Iraq nor the Iraqi people ever attacked the United States. That makes the United States the aggressor — the attacker — in this particular conflict. How could American Christians support the killing of Iraqis in such a war of aggression? How could they reconcile this with God’s sacred commandment, Thou shalt not murder.
One possibility is that Americans initially viewed the Iraq War as one of self-defense. Placing their trust in their president and vice-president, they came to the conclusion that Iraq was about to unleash WMDs on American cities. Therefore, they concluded, America had the right to defend itself from this imminent attack, much as an individual has the moral right to use deadly force to defend his life from someone who is trying to murder him.
But once the WMDs failed to materialize, American Christians did not seem to engage in any remorse or regret over all the Iraqis who had been killed in the invasion. It was all marked up as simply an honest mistake. At the same time, hardly anyone called for a formal investigation into whether the president and the vice president had intentionally misled Americans into supporting the war based on bogus exaggerations of the WMD threat.
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MegaNewsbreak on Dec 9, 2012
While Israel is going to the polls, the story of how their army conducted its war on Gaza is slowly being pieced together.
Two Gaza residents have told al Jazeera that they were used as human shields by the army – a military tactic that is specifically forbidden by Israeli law.
The Israeli army denies the allegations.
Hoda Abdel Hamid reports from Gaza. AlJazeeraEnglish, Feb 9, 2009
by John Byrne
The Raw Story
Monday February 9, 2009
‘How to Build an H-Bomb’ was a joke, but apparently helped buttress CIA case
A British citizen held at Guantanamo Bay who the Pentagon accused of plotting to build a dirty bomb had actually been reading a satirical article re-posted from Rolling Stone, according to a British newspaper report.
The incident was horrifying. As reported in the Washington Post:
“CANCUN, Mexico — The general didn’t get much time. After a long, controversial career, Brig. Gen. Mauro Enrique Tello Quiñones retired from active duty last month and moved to this Caribbean playground to work for the Cancun mayor and fight the drug cartels that have penetrated much of Mexican society. He lasted a week. Tello, 63, along with his bodyguard and a driver, were kidnapped in downtown Cancun last Monday evening, taken to a hidden location, methodically tortured, then driven out to the jungle and shot in the head. Their bodies were found Tuesday in the cab of a pickup truck on the side of a highway leading out of town. An autopsy revealed that both the general’s arms and legs had been broken.” (“Warrior in Drug Fight Soon Becomes a Victim: Mexican General Seized, Slain in Cancun” by William Booth, Washington Post, February 9, 2009)
But who is it that really murdered the general and his companions?
Sure, the dirty work was done by a gang of grisly hoodlums, one of many that are gradually taking over Mexico as a base for drug-related operations. But don’t these people have anything better to do? Why is it they cannot make a living except by transporting and selling drugs to customers in the U.S.?
The question is almost laughable. There is a dearth of decent jobs in Mexico. The economy has been ravaged by global capitalism. NAFTA and U.S. agribusiness have destroyed family farming. Manufacturing jobs are scarce, because the cheap labor market by which Mexico undercut the living of U.S. workers in the 1990s has itself been done in by even poorer workers in China and elsewhere in Asia.
An emotional Kevin Rudd, Australia’s prime minister, has described the deaths of scores of people in wildfires as “mass murder”.
The fires spread through rapidly through communities in southern Australia, as desperate residents tried to flee the flames.
Al Jazeera’s Tarek Bazley reports.
MegaNewsbreak on Dec 9, 2012
As soon as Israel concluded its military campaign in Gaza, the country launched itself into a different campaign for elections. Inevitably, the war has featured highly in that political campaign, with many parties competing for the security vote. Israel as a nation has shifted to the right. People are disillusioned with a peace process that appears to be going nowhere. AlJazeeraEnglish Feb 9, 2009
U.S. Vice President Joseph Biden last Saturday outlined the Obama administration’s continuation of the Bush administration’s foreign policy towards Iran.
Reiterating the Bush policy of loosely defined “preventive” warfare outlined in Bush’s National Security Strategy, he said that the “U.S. will strive to act preventively to avoid having to choose between the risks of war and the dangers of inaction.”
Echoing the previous administration’s policy, Biden offered an ultimatum, saying the U.S. would be “willing to talk to Iran” but only if Iran acquiesces to the Obama administration’s demands to abandon its nuclear program.
Translated into meaningful terms, this effectively means the U.S. will continue to refuse to talk to Iran, since its nuclear program would be one of the major points Iran would like to negotiate.
The U.S. has accused Iran of having a nuclear weapons program, despite the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which is actively monitoring and verifying Iran’s program and its commitment to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT), has repeatedly noted that there is no evidence that this is so, and despite the U.S. intelligence community’s own assessment that Iran today has no nuclear weapons program.
Iran insists that its nuclear program is solely for civilian purposes.
Glenn Beck finds something to agree with Dennis Kucinich.
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By Margaret Rees and Patrick O’Connor
9 February 2009
At least 128 people have died in bushfires and firestorms which swept through parts of the south-eastern state of Victoria on the weekend. The worst fire disaster in Australia’s history has left a devastating toll, with hundreds injured including dozens with severe burns, more than 750 homes destroyed, and at least 330,000 hectares (815,000 acres) of land razed. The Red Cross has registered more than 3,700 evacuees, but the number of people made homeless is expected to increase substantially.