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Tuesday, March 31, 2009


Netanyahu beats the Israeli war drums

Not content with having attacked Lebanon and Gaza in recent years, Israel continues to rattle the war drums against Iran, threats for which it will face no condemnation from its patron in the U.S. (hell, the U.S. doesn't even condemn Israeli invasions, why would they condemn Israeli threats of invasions):
In an interview conducted shortly before he was sworn in today as prime minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu laid down a challenge for Barack Obama. The American president, he said, must stop Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons—and quickly—or an imperiled Israel may be forced to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities itself.
Neither Netanyahu nor his principal military advisers would suggest a deadline for American progress on the Iran nuclear program, though one aide said pointedly that Israeli time lines are now drawn in months, “not years.” These same military advisers told me that they believe Iran’s defenses remain penetrable, and that Israel would not necessarily need American approval to launch an attack. “The problem is not military capability, the problem is whether you have the stomach, the political will, to take action,” one of his advisers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told me.
I won't bother quoting anything else from the article, which is written by the right-wing Jeffrey Goldberg and filled with Zionist and right-wing fantasies and out-and-out lies about the nature of the Iranian regime. You can read it yourself if you're interested in reading about people who think that "Western civilization" will have "failed" if Iran is "allowed" to develop a nuclear weapon, or who believe that Iran's first goal is "to frighten Israel’s most talented citizens into leaving their country," or who, apparently not having a mirror in their country, characterize Iran as a country that "glorifies blood and death."

Needless to say, Western media, and Western governments, will continue to be filled with talk about Iranian threats, and won't be dwelling on, or even mentioning, threats against Iran. Did I say won't be mentioning them? Hell, they'll continue making them.


The Israeli "ceasefire"

On January 18, the Israeli invasion of Gaza "ended" when Israel unilaterally declared a "ceasefire." I've written before I was under the impression that practically every day since, there has been some sort of Israeli attack, but I finally decided to do a little investigation. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights compiles weekly reports of events in the occupied territories. I couldn't analyze the report for Jan. 15-21, since that was a "partial" week (partially under the "ceasefire"), but here are the results since then (through the week of 3/12, hence not quite up to date), taken from those reports (subtotals for children are in parentheses):

Week startingKilled*WoundedArrested
1/223 (1)17 (4)64 (15)
1/29444 (22)42 (3)
2/545 (1)30 (18)
2/123 (2)15 (6)82 (17)
2/191 (1)19 (8)42 (6)
2/263 (1)9 (5)31 (4)
3/55 (1)26 (6)54
3/120 !19 (9)36 (6)
TOTAL23 (6)154 (61)381 (69)
*Includes people who had been previously injured and died

I haven't included the detailed descriptions of the dead and injured. No doubt they were all "gunmen" or "Hamas militants" according to Israel, even the children. Of course they were not. Some were resistance fighters according to PCHR, most of them killed not while actually doing anything threatening but simply as part of the "targeted assassinations" that Israel (and the U.S., in different theaters, as made clear recently by Sy Hersh) has been carrying out for years.

Of course those numbers don't tell the complete story (aside from not including the last two weeks). Every single week also lists bombing of targets in the Gaza Strip, particularly on the Egyptian border, and, needless to say, the blockade continues unabated. But these numbers do tell a story which, as far as I know, you won't see summarized elsewhere. And they tell the story of a "ceasefire" which is the same kind of "peace" the Palestinian people have been living under for decades.

Monday, March 30, 2009


Headline of the Day

From Ha'aretz:
Gaza probe / Either troops are liars, or the IDF is pure as snow
Actually, the headline doesn't make sense. What the probe really said was: the troops are liars and the IDF is pure as snow:
One would be hard-pressed not to express astonishment at the speed and efficiency demonstrated by the Military Advocate General, Brigadier-General Avichai Mendelblit, and the Military Police investigation unit in probing the "combat soldiers' testimonials affair" that took place at the Rabin pre-military training academy. The investigation into Moshe (Chico) Tamir's all-terrain vehicle accident made its way from desk-drawer to desk-drawer over the course of almost 18 months, yet the military advocate general needed just 11 days (including two Saturdays) to probe the accounts of combat soldiers in order to completely dispel the allegations.

There is something soothing in the exhaustive investigation by the military advocate general. The IDF emerges from it (and from the Gaza Strip) as pure as snow. Yet at the same time there is a disconcerting message emanating from the closure of the investigation, one which, at least according to Brig. Gen. Mendelblit, a group of combat soldiers and officers serving in some of the finest units in the IDF has proven to be nothing but a bunch of liars and exaggerating storytellers, men who have not uttered one truthful word.


American journalists to be tried in North Korea

Two American journalists will be indicted and tried for "illegal entry and hostile acts" in North Korea. I have no idea if these are completely bogus charges, if the two tried to "get away with something" they knew was illegal hoping not to get caught, or if they were even spying or otherwise engaged in really illegal acts on behalf of the U.S. government. What I do know is that the price they may pay is at least in part due to the decades-long, extensive employment of journalists (and people posing as journalists) by the CIA and other branches of the U.S. government, not to mention the decades-long policy of hostility on the part of the United States towards North Korea (starting with refusing to sign a peace treaty to end a war which ended 55 years ago).

Just as some American soldier who was nowhere near Abu Ghraib or Guantanamo may someday pay a horrible price for the sins of others when he or she is captured by an enemy and tortured, so too these journalists are paying a price for the practices of the U.S. government, which have placed and will continue to place all journalists in danger.


The workers' struggle has no borders

No BordersAnd there are no "American" corporations:
As IBM was firing thousands of American workers last week, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office published Big Blue's application to copyright a computerized system that calculates how to offshore jobs while maximizing government tax breaks.

In their application to patent a "method and system for strategic global resource sourcing," five Hudson Valley IBMers describe how it weighs such plans as "50 percent of resources in China by 2010," against such factors as labor costs, infrastructure and the "minimum head count to qualify for incentives."
[With a hearty hat tip to Cookie Jill at Skippy]


The U.S. protects terrorists

It's not just anti-Cuban terrorists like Luis Posada Carriles and Orlando Bosch that the U.S. protects and supports. A brief article in the Washington Post two days ago revealed two interesting details about the anti-Iranian terrorist (according to U.S. State Department designation!) group MEK (Mujaheddin-e Khalq). First of all, "The U.S. military has protected the group's camp in Iraq since the 2003 invasion." It's been well-known that the MEK was based in Iraq, of course, but I for one wasn't aware that the U.S. military was actively protecting them.

And secondly, "U.S. officials credit the MEK with providing information about Iran's nuclear program." You know, the nuclear [weapons] program that Iran doesn't have but that the U.S. government from Obama on down insists that it does. And, we all know how well it worked out when Iraqi exile groups provided "information" about Iraqi WMD. You remember the Iraqi WMD, don't you? The ones we're going to find in the "area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat" any day now, just as soon as we get through moving a million dead Iraqis aside so we can find them.


Cap and Trade

Brewster Rockit: Space Guy! is one of my favorite comics (unfortunately only carried by my local paper on Sundays, and yes, I know I could read it online everyday). The artist, Tim Rickard, comes up with more fresh (and funny) ideas than the average comic artist, who often rehash the same themes over and over again. How many people could get a laugh out of the ridiculous concept of "cap and trade"? Brewster Rockit can:

Sunday, March 29, 2009


Photo Left Eye of the Day

Black Oystercatcher

Black Oystercatcher, Bodega Harbor

That eye! That bill! Wow! (as usual, click to enlarge)

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Joe Biden on Cuba: Huh?

U.S. Vice-President Joe Biden, asked if the U.S. was going to drop the embargo [blockade] on Cuba, responded "No." But then he said:
"We think that Cuban people should determine their own fate and they should be able to live in freedom and have some prospect of economic prosperity."
Huh? If they should determine their own fate, shouldn't they be free of extrnal factors like the blockade? And if Biden wants them to have some prospect of economic prosperity, wouldn't the first thing to do to be to end the decades-long U.S. economic war aimed at damaging that very prosperity?

Friday, March 27, 2009


In case you thought only Republicans hate auto workers

You'd be wrong. President Obama "said if the companies were 'not willing to make the changes and the restructurings that are necessary, then I'm not willing to have taxpayer money chase after bad money.'" And by "changes and restructuring," of course he means more pain for the workers. More breaking of those "sacrosanct contracts" in order to cut their pay, and then there's this:
Companies also must persuade the United Auto Workers to take equity in exchange for half of the payments the companies must make to union-run trust funds that will take over retiree health care costs starting next year.
Guaranteed retirement health care? Forget it. Instead, you get to visit the large casino called the stock market and place a bet on GM and Ford stock.


The Earth is flat, the Earth is spherical

You know, there are two sides to every story. Israel is claiming (and the world's press dutifully reporting) that the "majority" of those killed in the assault on Gaza were "Hamas" and that only 295 of 1166 dead were "civilians." This contrasts to the figures released by the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which says that 1,417 people were killed, of whom only 236 were combatants.

So, who to believe? Well, let's see. The PCHR has released a complete list of names and ages of all the dead. Israel "says" it has a list, but it hasn't released it. The PCHR actually is on the ground in Gaza. Israel? Their information was "checked, crisscrossed and double-checked with the different intelligence bodies in Israel" (if you listen to Jay Leno, you'll get a laugh out of that, because "checking and cross-checking the facts" is how he describes the accuracy of stories in the tabloids). So how good was all the checking and double-checking? Israel can't even get the sexes of the dead correct! Israel claims that only 49 women were killed, while PCHR (and remember, they've released the names and ages of everyone killed) documents 116 women who were killed.

None of this, I repeat, was the slightest impediment to the world's media reporting the Israeli claims (and again, remember, Israel released no supporting documentation to support those claims). And the differences in the numbers, I hasten to add, are far wider than merely the dispute over whether the 255 policemen killed at the start of the invasion are "civilians" (they are, unquestionably) or not.

Thursday, March 26, 2009


The insanity that is capitalism

There's a water shortage after three years of drought. We need to cut back usage. The Santa Clara Valley Water District has voted to cut back water usage 15%. Ah, but it's not that simple. You see, SCVWD, which manages all the reservoirs etc. in the county, is just the "wholesale" provider of water. They then resell that water to 13 (!) different "retail" water providers, some private, some municipal, who actually sell the water to people like me. In order to achieve that 15% cutback, each of those 13 different providers will have to decide separately how to do so, either by passing ordinances in the case of the municipal providers, or by charging higher rates for excessive usage in the case of the private companies.

And that's just one county. What a stupid, irrational mess. A better world is possible. And a better system of water distribution as well.

There are those enjoying the water that we do have, however, like this Eared Grebe, in breeding plumage, photographed today on Shoreline Lake (Palo Alto). The fish was presumably enjoying the water too, at least until the Grebe came along. :-)

Eared Grebe




This cartoon, which has just appeared in major newspapers courtesy of renowned (Pulitzer Prize-winning) cartoonist Pat Oliphant, is being denounced as "anti-Semitic." Once again, to no one's surprise, criticism of Israeli thuggery is equated to hatred for Jews.

The head of the Anti-Defamation League says of the figure at the left, "The implication is of an Israeli policy without a head or a heart." And whose fault is that, exactly? The cartoonist? Or the policy? [Actually I'm being a bit disingenuous; Israeli policy towards the Palestinians may not have a heart, but it certainly has a head, in that the Israelis know exactly what they are doing]

The Simon Wiesenthal Center says "It is cartoons like this that inspired millions of people to hate in the 1930s and help set the stage for the Nazi genocide." Once again, no. It is the Israeli barbarity toward the people of Gaza that inspires people to hate Israel and, unfortunately, in some cases Jews in general. And of course the supposed "genocide" against the Jews whose stage is being set is entirely fictional, whereas the actual genocide of the Palestinian people is quite real, and very much ongoing.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


The Israeli use of "human shields"

There's been quite a bit in the news lately about this subject. Amira Hass broke the story of Gaza residents forced to accompany IDF soldiers on missions involving breaking into and searching houses. The U.N. wrote about a different incident involving an 11-year-old boy forced to walk in front of troops, and the the Guardian wrote about the use of Red Crescent ambulances as human shields.

The incidents above could easily be passed off by Israel and Israeli apologists as "actions of rogue units," individual commanders doing things they "contrary to policy," etc. It wouldn't be true, but I have absolutely no doubt that you'll be hearing that excuse. But I want to remind readers of something I wrote in January. It is standard operating procedure, i.e., official IDF policy, to take over Palestinian homes, imprison the families, and use the upper floors as spotting posts or sniper posts. In so doing the house is made into a legitimate military target, and the Palestinians imprisoned within become human shields, with the Israelis hiding behind them (figuratively if not literally), trusting that Palestinians won't fire on a home containing other Palestinians.

Once again - this practice is clearly IDF policy, not some occasional action by some unit commander. I repeat: the use of human shields is IDF policy.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


The "most moral" military

So they tell us, repeatedly, channeling Joseph "Big Lie" Goebbels:
"I can say that the IDF (the Israeli military) is the most moral army in the world," Israeli military Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi was quoted by Ha'aretz as saying on Monday.
Do tell:
A group of UN human rights experts said on Monday that Israeli forces had used an 11-year-old Palestinian boy as a human shield and to protect themselves from being shot by fighters in the Gazan neighborhood of Tel al-Hawa.

Radhika Coomaraswamy, the UN secretary-general's envoy for protecting children in armed conflict, said Israeli soldiers ordered the boy to walk in front of them and enter buildings to assure the safety of the troops.
Nor was it just children used as human shields, it was even Red Crescent ambulances:
Medics have also said their ambulances were used as human shields by the Israeli army. Ambulance driver Hassan Kalhout described one such ordeal: "They were firing mortars and phosphorus bombs at the houses. They placed our vehicles in front of them while they continued to fire. They made us stay in the ambulances and used us as cover as they fired on civilians."
Obviously the use of human shields is only one of hundreds of acts whose relation to "morality" is strictly orthogonal:
Coomaraswamy explained that the Israeli army shot Palestinian children, bulldozed a home with a woman and child still inside and shelled a building they had ordered civilians into a day earlier.

"Violations were reported on a daily basis, too numerous to list," Coomaraswamy asserted.
As noted two days ago, 16 Palestinian medical personnel in total were killed by Israeli fire; another 25 were wounded, not to mention the wounded who died because they didn't receive medical care thanks to those attacks on medical personnel.

And how "moral" is it to kill people (whether paramedics and the wounded, as in this case, or otherwise) with weapons which would be fit to appear in any horror movie?

Paramedics Khaled Abu Saada and Arafa Abdel Daym [were] hit by an Israeli tank shell packed with 8,000 flechettes ‑ dart-like nails ‑ as they moved one of three wounded civilians into their ambulance.

The patient died instantly; the paramedic died on the way to hospital.

Saada was thrown to the ground with three flechettes in the back of his head. "I picked myself up and found Arafa kneeling down with his hands up in the air and praying to God, his body was riddled with darts," he said. "The patient was in pieces, his head was missing. I was hysterical."
Only a military which knows no morality, regardless of legality, would even consider using such weapons, not to mention the equally evil use of white phosphorous and "DIME" shells, two more weapons straight out of the bowels of hell.

Oh, but there's good news too. Remember three weeks ago when the Israelis refused entry of 90 tons of pasta into Gaza and the U.S. State Department spokesperson wouldn't even go on record as denying it might be a "dual-use" item? Well, not to worry, because now that the Gazans have had a little more chance to starve, Israel has "bowed to U.S. pressure" (so we're told) and agreed that it will (future tense) lift restrictions on pasta, cheese, hummus (!), and other food items entering Gaza. This hasn't actually happened, mind you, and is subject to reversal the moment Netanyahu takes office, and of course the alleged possible future lifting of restrictions doesn't include anything that might be necessary to rebuild Gaza, like cement and steel, but such promises of slightly less immoral behavior in the future are what passes for "good news" on the "Israel is the most moral" front.

Three billion dollars a year of U.S. money goes to support this immorality, not to mention Security Council vetoes and other political support. It's time to put an end to that, now.

Monday, March 23, 2009


A humble bow to the "competition"

This blog specializes in media analysis, although it's hardly limited to that. Over the years, I've written a number of posts encouraging readers to support FAIR, which does on a professional basis what I do on a very part-time, amateur basis. Their magazine, Extra, is always worth reading.

It's only just recently come to my consciousness (I think because they started sending out emails promoting it) that, for the last six months, FAIR has also started writing a blog, with the same sorts of media analysis as their magazine but on a daily basis. Today, for example, you can learn about a Washington Post editorial which preposterously declares that "El Salvador's election was also a triumph for a system that Mr. Chávez has disregarded: liberal democracy." You can read about a New York Post headline which put "rich" in "scare quotes" when talking about people who make more than...$500,000 a year! Or you can read about how The New York Times thinks the death of civilians in Afghanistan from drone attacks is a "sore point."

Good stuff, well worth adding to your list of daily reads and/or RSS feeds. And of course, "competition" was in quotes in the title because clearly, with everything that's going down in the media and in the world, the more people taking "A leftwing view of the day's news and the way it's presented in the media," the better. There's plenty to go around.

Plus they don't do bird pictues. :-)


Quote of the Day

"The State of Israel is at war with the Palestinian people, people against people, collective against collective."
Who said this? Some rabid right-wing Israeli like Avigdor Lieberman? No, as exposed by Uri Avnery in a column today, this quote is taken from an official legal document filed in court by Israeli Ministry of Justice lawyers (hence it represents the official position of the Israeli government), in a case involving a racist law which prohibits the wife of an Israeli citizen to join him in Israel if she is living in the occupied Palestinian territories or in a "hostile" Arab country.

As Avnery notes, this "philosophy" means that every Palestinian, anywhere, is an enemy of Israel who Israel is justified in killing. And clearly, the actions of the Israeli state demonstrate that isn't just a paper philosophy. See, for example, Amira Hass' column today in which she writes of the Israeli "rules of engagement" which encourage firing on rescuers, i.e., medical personnel. During the assault on Gaza, 16 Palestinian medical personnel were killed by Israeli fire; another 25 were wounded. Add on to that the number of wounded victims who died because they couldn't receive medical attention because their rescuers had been killed.

I want to quote one more thing from the article, because it expresses so well the nature of the ongoing struggle:

The inherent aim of the Zionist enterprise was and is to turn the country – at least up to the Jordan River – into a homogeneous Jewish state. Throughout the course of Zionist-Israeli history, this aim has not been forsaken for a moment. Every cell of the Israeli organism contains this genetic code and therefore acts accordingly, without the need for a specific directive.

In my mind I see this process as the urge of a river to reach the sea. A river yearning for the sea does not recognize any law, except for the law of gravity. If the terrain allows it, it will flow in a straight course, if not – it will cut a new riverbed, twist like a snake, turn right and left, go around obstacles. If necessary, it will split into rivulets. From time to time, new brooks will join it. And every minute it will strive to reach the sea.

The Palestinian people, of course, oppose this process. They refuse to budge, set up dams, try to push the stream back. True, for more than a hundred years they have been on the retreat, but they have never surrendered. They continue to resist with the same persistence as the advancing river.

Sunday, March 22, 2009


How long has this been going on?

Back in 1974, a group named Ace released a song called "How Long," more commonly known as "How Long Has This Been Going On?" It's a great song (you can listen to it here) although it had nothing to do with the Vietnam War.

The phrase was in my mind this weekend, though, as we marked the sixth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq with demonstrations here in San Francisco and elsewhere across the country (the one in San Francisco "featured" what can only be described as a police riot, about which I may have more to write later). And the phrase was in my mind for a particular reason. As an outgrowth of the Israeli invasion of Gaza, a brand-new chapter of the ANSWER Coalition was formed here in the South Bay (San Jose, CA area). Take a look at the members of the group:

ANSWER 3-21-09 So Bay youth Web

Most of these young people are in high school. Only one is in college. Three of them are in eighth grade! We all got together Friday night to paint the banner in this photo, and then most of us rode to and from the demonstration on a bus from San Jose. And, if you haven't figured it out yet, this really brought home to me, in a way that no simple numbers ("6th anniversary") could ever do, the reality of what's happening. The eighth graders? They were in second grade when the U.S. invaded Iraq! They were in kindergarten when the U.S. invaded Afghanistan! And you know what? By the time they graduate high school, and are of "military age," the chances are quite high that one or both of those wars will still be going on and some of their classmates will be heading off to fight them.

And if you think these are just "kids," think again. Better yet, watch this video. It's the representative of the group, Sarah O'Neal, speaking at the San Francisco demonstration, and delivering one of the best-received speeches of the day. Sarah is one of those eighth graders. Sarah is, one can only hope, the future. Yesterday, as it turns out, was my birthday. Listening to Sarah give this speech was one of the best birthday presents I have ever received.

How long has this been going on? Way, way too long. Six and eight years too long, to be precise. And, in the case of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, much, much longer.

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Quote of the Day

"You change, our behavior will change."

- Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Supreme Leader of Iran, speaking (indirectly) to U.S. President Barack Obama
Going further:
Indicating areas where Iran wants a different U.S. approach, he said the United States was "hated in the world" and should stop interfering in other countries' internal affairs.
Can I get an "amen"?

Thursday, March 19, 2009


Obama the comedian

President Barack Obama addressing Iran's leaders today:
"The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right -- but it comes with real responsibilities, and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create."
This from the leader of a country whose place in the world is above all achieved with the use of arms and not peaceful actions, and whose "capacity to destroy" has been on display for all to see in Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, Somalia, Haiti, Panama, Yugoslavia and on and on and on. And he dares to lecture the leaders of a country which hasn't attacked another country in hundreds of years. It would be funny if it weren't so sick.

I remind readers that just nine days ago Obama issued the following official proclamation:

The President declared a national emergency with respect to Iran pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (50 U.S.C. 1701 1706) to deal with the unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States constituted by the actions and policies of the Government of Iran.
And now he dares to talk about "new beginnings." Please.


Veterans say: March on Saturday, March 21

Today at the Veterans Administration building in Washington, D.C.:

Saturday's the day - take to the streets to say "No" to war and occupation, from Iraq to Afghanistan to Palestine.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009


On the lighter side

Taking a break from the negative side of the news, breeding season (and hence the attractive breeding plumage) for the American Avocet, a local favorite, has arrived (click to enlarge):

American Avocet

And even the common, and oft-despised Canada Goose (never say "Canadian Geese"!) can be quite attractive in the right setting:

Canada Goose


There is no two-state solution

I've written before about the one-state solution, also known as the "democratic, secular Palestine (or Israel/Palestine if you prefer)" solution. But on the other side of the coin, it's important to remember that there is no two-state solution. Oh, there is something that the U.S. and Israel and others call a "two-state" solution, but it's really a "state and a half" solution, or maybe a "state and a quarter" solution, depending on your math.

Why? Re-read the post below about Israel's behavior at sea just as an example. The "Palestinian state" proposed by Israel (sort of) and the U.S. is not a state, because it will have no control over its airways, its borders, or its sea lanes. It will be totally at the mercy of Israel, ready to be "put on a diet" at any moment, in precisely the same way they have been doing to Gaza.

There is no two-state solution.


Fingers crossed

When the U.S. "pledged" $900 million for Palestine (of which from the start not one penny was going to be allowed to be spent on Gaza reconstruction, notwithstanding that the destruction of Gaza was accomplished with U.S. weapons), I wrote:
We underscore that word "pledging," and remind readers that 50% of people in the United States who "pledge" their eternal loyalty in marriage end up divorced, indicating the tenuous reality of that word.
Well, I don't want to claim prescience (oh hell, why not?), but here's the news today:
Some $900 million pledged by the United States to the Palestinians will be withdrawn if the expected Palestinian Authority coalition government between Fatah and Hamas does not recognize Israel's right to exist, Western and Israeli diplomats said Wednesday.

During her visit to the region last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas against forming a coalition with Hamas that will not meet the expectations of the Quartet.

Clinton told Abbas that Congress will not approve funding of a Palestinian government that does not recognize Israel's right to exist and renounce violence.
Requiring Israel to recognize Palestine's "right to exist" and renounce violence as a condition for its $3 billion/year in aid? I must have missed that part in Clinton's speech.

What this is really about, by the way, isn't aid at all. It's the U.S.' way of once again interfering in the internal political affairs of the Palestinian people, blackmailing Fatah in order to prevent any coalition government with Hamas.



The media, even including Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!, have reported a story in the news thusly:
The US military has revealed US jets shot down an Iranian unmanned surveillance aircraft last month.
No. The correct way to report this story is: "The U.S. military claims US jets..." As I have written about many times, the U.S. military is the most unreliable news source in the world. Using the U.S. military is a source for a news story is akin to sourcing a story to Tommy Flanagan, the Pathological Liar. Remember this is the very same U.S. military who repeatedly claimed that Iran was furnishing weapons to Iraqi resistance fighters, providing "evidence" with no more credibility than George Bush's "evidence" for WMD in Iraq.

Is this story true? Perhaps. Even likely. But that's still no reason to assign credibility to the U.S. military. Guilty (of lying) until proven innocent is the only possible standard one can apply to information emanating from that source. Until there is independent information confirming this incident, or any claim from the U.S. military, the only proper assumption is that it's a complete fabrication.

Monday, March 16, 2009


Harassment at sea, real and surreal

In January, 2008, a few tiny Iranian speedboats (preposterously described by the Navy commander in the area as a "fleet") sailed near three large American warships including two destroyers. The U.S. government proceeded to make this into a major international incident, made to sound even more dangerous because of some clown on shore broadcasting "we're coming to get you" in an ominous voice (as if a real attack would be so accompanied). It was a manufactured incident filled with false outrage (and clumsily-edited video) from start to finish.

Then last week we had another incident of manufactured outrage, this one in China, as a giant U.S. Navy ship (albeit an allegedly unarmed one in this case) sailed in Chinese waters hunting for Chinese subs, and was "harassed" by some much smaller ships who "dropped wood in the path" of the Navy ship. Horrors. Another international incident which occupied the media for days.

But there is very real harassment occurring at sea, every single day, as I had the opportunity to learn about the other night. Darlene and Donna Wallach are two local activists who sailed into Gaza on the SS Free Gaza and the SS Liberty last August, breaking the Israeli blockade of Gaza. Donna and Darlene remained in Gaza until shortly before the Israeli invasion in December doing solidarity work, getting shot at, and, in Darlene's case, getting arrested by Israel and deported for the "crime" of accompanying Palestinian fishermen on their boats.

And why didn't Israel want Darlene and other internationals on those boats? Because by being there, they witnessed one of the great unreported cases of harassment (and worse) at sea which goes on, as noted above, every single day. The first thing to understand is the "law," for what that's worth (very little, obviously). A 1993 accord between Israel and the PLO gave Gaza a "fishing zone" extending 20 miles out to sea from the borders of Gaza. In 2002, Israel unilaterally abrogated that treaty, but signed an agreement with the U.N. committing themselves to allowing Gaza fishing rights out to 12 miles. Since then, subsequent unilateral declarations by Israel have moved that limit in to six miles and then to three miles.

And what is actually happening on the ground (or "on the water," in this case)? As witnessed by Darlene and the other internationals, you can see for yourself what happens in YouTube videos here, here, here, and elsewhere as well. What you'll see is Israeli gunboats firing at Palestinian fisherman, dropping grenades in the water, and firing water cannon at the boats. The firing in the videos is harassment fire into the water, but 14 Palestinian fisherman have been killed in the last four years. You'll also see no windows on the boats, all the glass having been blown out by the water cannons. And then of course there is the occasional boat-ramming, something famously experienced by Cynthia McKinney a few months ago (video here).

And how well known are these incidents? If you go to Google News, and type in "Gaza fishermen," as I just did, you'll get just 44 hits (compared to 617 for "extraterrestrial"). Not a single one is from a "mainstream" Western source. If you type "Cynthia McKinney Gaza" you'll get a whopping 8 hits, none from corporate media. "Darlene Wallach"? Just 4, all of them from local papers about their current speaking tour; none of them actual news articles.

Fake harassment? Big news. Real harassment? Not so much. Scratch that. Not at all.

I would be remiss, on this sixth anniversary of the Israeli murder of Rachel Corrie, not to note that "harassment" (and, clearly, much worse) of peaceful Palestinians and their international supporters occurs not only at sea, but on land as well. In Ni'lin, where solidarity activist Tristan Anderson was seriously wounded on Friday, four Palestinians have been killed since last July while protesting against the confiscation of their land for building the Israeli apartheid wall. Two other internationals were seriously wounded in nearby Bil'in, also while peacefully protesting the construction of the wall. Of Tristan Anderson, Israeli apologists will no doubt say that there were people throwing stones (as if that should be a death penalty offense); indeed, the local TV coverage of the assault on Anderson was accompanied by just such stock footage. But eyewitnesses report that the demonstration was wrapping up and that most people had already gone home. No one was throwing stones and Anderson was just taking some pictures. There's video here which not only shows the sparseness of the crowd at the time of the shooting, but also that Israeli forces continued to fire tear gas even as Red Crescent teams were engaged in administering care to the fallen Anderson.

The U.S. response? They're waiting for the Israeli investigation. Why can't they conduct their own? Because, says the U.S. Consul General in Tel Aviv, the West Bank is "outside of our consular district." Needless to say it's outside everyone's "consular district," and even if it weren't, there would be some other excuse not to conduct an independent investigation. Do you suppose if an American citizen were killed in Iran or North Korea or Venezuela or Cuba the U.S. would say they were waiting for the investigation by the government of that country? Hell, they would have declared war by now.


The "outrageous" abrogation of contracts

Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers says that paying $165 million in "bonuses" to AIG employees is "outrageous," but that there's not much he can do, because:
"We're not a country where contracts just get abrogated willy-nilly. And if we were to start doing that, there would be potentially very, very destabilizing consequences."
Funny how that objection to abrogating contracts and the "very, very destabilizing consequences" doesn't come up when the contracts being abrogated are those with GM and Ford workers, or San Francisco Chronicle workers, or anyplace else where it's the workers who are suffering. Au contraire, it's precisely those cases where members of Congress actively call for the abrogation of contracts.

Just like "freedom of speech" belongs to those who own the presses and the airwaves, the "law" belongs to those who own the country. For the rest of us, it's a thin layer of ice which can be shattered at any moment.

Sunday, March 15, 2009


Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow...

...nor the massacre of 1400 people shall get in the way of U.S. military aid to Israel:
U.S. President Barack Obama will not cut the billions of dollars in military aid promised to Israel, a senior U.S. administration official said Wednesday.
He's talking about what the U.S. will do in response to the recent massacre in Gaza, right? Maybe the announced expansion of Israeli settlements in the West Bank? Right? ...Wrong:
The $30 billion in aid promised to Israel over the next decade will not be harmed by the world financial crisis, the official told Israel Radio.
U.S. effectively broke? Teachers being laid off en masse, hospitals being closed, state budgets still billions of dollars in the red? Not to worry, Israel, none of those things are as important to the U.S. ruling class as keeping you firmly in the saddle.


Friday, March 13, 2009


The Obama foreign policy

I just wrote about the absurd situation in which the Obama administration put forward a budget with no money for enforcement of regulations against frequent travel by Cuban-Americans to Cuba, despite a campaign promise to loosen those regulations in the first place. Curiously enough, a few days after passing the budget, after having to overcome the objections of right-wing legislators on that very point, the Administration went ahead and loosened those regulations, which now revert American policy all the way back to...the early years of the George W. Bush administration. Why they didn't release these regulations before the budget fight is a mystery.

What progress. So now Cuban-Americans who wish to visit their relatives in Cuba once a year (no more than that! heaven forbid you have two aged relatives who die in the same year!) won't have to commit civil disobedience to do so - that's just left to the rest of us non-Cuban-Americans, whose right to travel remains restricted.

On the other side of the world, the Obama Administration demonstrates (unsurprisingly) its continued hostility to Iran, not to mention the complete and utter inanity of formal U.S. policy, by issuing a statement declaring that "the actions and policies of the Government of Iran continue to pose an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States." Not a "potential threat" (since Obama continues to insist in the absence of evidence that Iran is planning to develop nuclear weapons), not just a "threat," but an "unusual and extraordinary" threat! Of course, those of us of a certain age remember when the U.S. similarly declared Nicaragua (!) under the Sandinistas a "threat to U.S. national security" so that the U.S. could carry on hostile policies toward that nation as well. Honestly, the national security of the United States, the most powerful military and economic nation in the world, is awfully fragile, isn't it?

Obama has called on Iran to "unclench its fist." Perhaps if the U.S. took its hands off Iran's throat, that might be helpful.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Pushing people around

In a follow-up to the story below about the U.S. Navy ship "harassed" by China in the South China Sea, the U.S. has now admitted that its ship was indeed hunting for submarines, a fact notably omitted from virtually all the initial press reports.

And what does the U.S. have do say today? Here's National Intelligence Director Dennis Blair:

"I think the debate is still on in China whether as their military power increases they will be used for good or for pushing people around."
The U.S. Navy is carrying out military actions thousands of miles from home in Chinese waters (China's "economic" zone but not it's "territorial" zone). The U.S. military has more than 700 bases in approximately 60 countries around the world. In the last decade the U.S. military has overthrown two governments (Iraq and Afghanistan) and played a strong role in overthrowing a third (Somalia); I won't go back further lest this post get too long. The Chinese military has, as far as I know, no bases in any other country.

And a U.S. official has the cojones to talk about China as "pushing people around." Honestly, it staggers the imagination once you stop laughing.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


Catch-1.6 million

Catch-22 has nothing on Catch-1.6 million. In 2007, during his campaign, Barack Obama wrote in an op-ed in the Miami Herald: "I will grant Cuban Americans unrestricted rights to visit family and send remittances to the island." The budget bill just passed removes funding for enforcement of family travel restrictions. Sounds like a back-handed way to fulfill the promise, does it? Not quite. "In letters to [Senators] Menendez and Nelson, [Treasury Secretary] Geithner sought to distance the administration from the changes and assure them that few of the provisions will actually change U.S.-Cuba policy." Furthermore, travel to Cuba by Cuban-Americans with family in Cuba is still illegal if done more than once every three years.
"What Congress is doing is creating a class of criminals," said Alvaro Fernández, chairman of the Cuban American Commission for Family Rights. "It's like saying, 'It's OK to go to 7-11 and steal, because nobody will enforce it.' It's insulting."
So for those 1.6 million Cuban-Americans? Looks like it's time for a little civil disobedience. Ditto for those of us Americans without relatives in Cuba. After all, if the government is claiming it won't prosecute Cuban-American criminals, it will be even more of an outrage if they prosecute us!


Effective civil disobedience

"Civil disobedience" means more than getting symbolically arrested for, e.g., laying down in a street. Such as this:
UK lawmaker George Galloway, one of the organizers of the Viva Palestina, says he will not be convicted for violating the EU sanctions on Gaza.

The 'Viva Palestina' convoy handed over more than 1.5 million pounds of humanitarian aid to the Hamas government in the Gaza Strip.

Galloway told Press TV that the Viva Palestina campaign has also nullified the sanctions imposed by the European Union on the Gaza Strip through distributing cash in the impoverished territory.

"We are giving you now 100 vehicles and all of their contents, and we make no apology for what I am about to say. We are giving them to the elected government of Palestine (Hamas)," said the outspoken lawmaker at a press conference on Tuesday.

"I say now to the British and European governments, if you want to take me to court, I promise you there is no jury in all of Britain who will convict me. They will convict you," he added.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Death in Darfur (and Iraq)

In conjunction with the ICC indictment of Sudanese President Bashir, we keep hearing about the ongoing genocide (even if the ICC decided it could only charge "war crimes" and not "genocide") in Darfur. But here's a curious fact. News reports routinely report "300,000 dead" in Darfur. But that's exactly what they were reporting a year ago: "300,000" dead. The media don't seem to have noticed that, according to their reports, there hasn't been a single "excess death" in Darfur in the last year.

And where did that 300,000 number come from? As I wrote then:

Egeland, the former U.N. humanitarian chief, estimated in 2006 that 200,000 people had lost their lives because of the conflict, from violence, disease and malnutrition. He said this was based on an independent mortality survey released in March 2005 by the U.N. World Health Organization.

"That figure must be much higher now, perhaps half as much again," Holmes said Tuesday.
So we start with an "estimate," then add on top of that another guess and the whole number barely qualifies as a "guesstimate." Yet none of that keeps the number from being reported in news report after news report as simple fact.

Needless to say, the number "one million" dead in Iraq, a number which has far more scientific basis than the "300,000" in Darfur, is a number you will never, and I do mean never, hear in the corporate media, much less hear reported as simple fact. Instead, you'll hear the "Holocaust denial*" number of 99,000 (courtesy of Iraq Body Count) on the rare occasions when that total number is actually mentioned (I've heard in once in the last three months, I believe). And, as I have before, I must point out the difference between these numbers. The Iraq Body Count number refers to "documented civilians killed by violence." The one million number in Iraq refers to all Iraqis who have died from other than "natural causes," i.e., the "excess deaths" caused by the U.S. invasion. And the "300,000 dead" in Darfur, sometimes (though not always) incorrectly labeled as the number "killed," actually refers to people who have died from "violence, disease and malnutrition." That is, if there were a scientific basis for that number, it would be comparable to the one million number from Iraq, and not to the "99,000" number.

*And why do I call "99,000" a "Holocaust denial" number? Because, believe me, if someone says they think that only 600,000 Jews were killed by the Nazis, you better believe they'll be called a "Holocaust denier."


Who's harassing whom?

[I hope I got the grammar correct in the headline!]

AP reports this morning that:

The Pentagon charged Monday that five Chinese ships shadowed and maneuvered dangerously close to a U.S. Navy vessel in an apparent attempt to harass the American crew.
The reports emphasize that the U.S. Navy vessel was "an unarmed vessel with a civilian merchant marine crew" and was "conduct[ing] ocean surveys." "Ocean surveys," eh? Were they conducting a census of tuna fish? Hardly. What the AP report (not to mention the Pentagon and the Obama administration) fails to mention is that, as reported this morning on MSNBC by Jim Miklashevski, the Navy ship was cruising the coast of China, using sonar to search for Chinese submarines.

The Obama administration calls the Chinese actions "increasingly aggressive." I'd say what's "aggressive" is having your Navy operate off the coast of another country, looking for that country's submarines. Imagine the screams from the Obama administration (or any U.S. administration) if a Chinese Navy fleet was sailing in international waters just off the coast of Hawaii, searching for American submarines.

Update: The latest AP article admits the U.S. was conducting "military surveillance" and claims that the ship is equipped to "detect underwater threats." It fails to explain how a Chinese submarine patrolling off the coast of China, even in international waters, is a "threat."

Sunday, March 08, 2009


The American "justice" system

More news about how it really works - convict people at any cost, guilt or innocence notwithstanding:
For years, San Jose police never told anyone when fingerprint technicians could not agree about whether a suspect's prints matched those taken from the crime scene.

Instead, the police department's Central Identification Unit generated a report indicating that two technicians agreed the suspect's prints had been positively identified, while omitting that a third technician dissented.

The police stuck to that policy even after prosecutors and outside experts warned them they could not legally withhold the information from defense attorneys, and urged them to change their procedures. Last month, the department finally finished a slow-paced review dating back to mid-2007 and overhauled the policy so that the doubts are reflected, soon after the Mercury News filed Public Record Act requests about the issue.
This revelation comes just months after another withheld evidence revelation:
As hundreds of child-sex-assault convictions hang in the balance, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office is backing away from its previous insistence that its prosecutors had no idea the medical examinations of suspected victims were routinely videotaped.

But the district attorney's evolving position only deepens the central mystery surrounding the tapes, which were made by a nurse working in conjunction with prosecutors to build child-sex-assault cases: Why did the district attorney fail to turn over this potentially critical evidence to defense attorneys, as the law requires?

The district attorney's concession that people in the office may have known of the taping represents a marked departure from the prosecutors' earlier position. District Attorney Dolores Carr wrote in February to the attorney who coordinates appeals of indigent local defendants that "the district attorney's office had no knowledge" the examinations were taped.
It's a standard pattern. Conceal evidence from the defense in order to secure a conviction. Deny knowledge of any such concealment until it becomes impossible to do so.

"Justice" in America.

Friday, March 06, 2009


More "unhelpful" Israeli actions

Also known as war crimes. The BBC reports:
Human rights investigators say Israeli forces engaged in "wanton destruction" of Palestinian homes during the recent conflict in Gaza.

Israeli troops had to leave their vehicles to plant the mines [which were used to destroy the houses], indicating that they faced no danger and that there was no military or operational justification.

"From the testimonies that we've gathered, lots of demolitions - buildings demolished either by bulldozers or explosives - were done after the area was under Israeli control."

Thursday, March 05, 2009


Hillary Clinton: only we can "interfere" in Gaza

In yet another example of the pot calling the Corning Ware black, Hillary Clinton has accused Iran of "interference" in Palestine. Was she claiming that Iran was arming Hamas? No. Was she even talking about the 2,000 tons of humanitarian aid that Iran has attempted to send to Gaza, only to be turned back by Egypt? No again. No, her idea of "clear interference in the internal affairs of the Palestinian people" was a speech by Ayatollah Khamenei in which he warned that compromising with Israel was a mistake. And what radical solution was he advocating? Armed uprising? External invasion by the Arab masses? No, he "called for holding a referendum by Jews, Christian and Muslims in Palestine to determine the future of the country." Calling for a democratic election! How dare he interfere in that way!

The U.S. which is busy upping the arms it sends to Fatah to help them suppress Hamas, actively participates in and supports the blockade of Gaza and the collective punishment of the Palestinian people, supplies three billion worth of military and other aid to Israel every year to subjugate the Palestinian people, runs diplomatic interference for Israel in the U.N. while it tries to wipe Hamas from the map, and will not even condemn Israel's ban on the shipment of 90 tons of pasta to Gaza and will not even agree publicly that macaroni is not a "dual-use" item (!), that is not the kind of "interference" in Palestinian affairs Clinton had in mind.

For a view of the Gaza prison from the inside, this animated video is worth watching, as is this "making of" video. Both were made by the animation director of "Waltz with Bashir" in conjunction with Gisha, an Israel not-for-profit organization dedicated to the freedom of movement (for Palestinians). No doubt Clinton thinks they're "interfering."

Wednesday, March 04, 2009


Blind justice

An Iranian woman who was blinded by a jilted suitor who threw acid in her face has been awarded "an eye for an eye" justice - no, strike that, "an eye for two eyes" justice. The court has ruled that the assailant should be blinded as punishment, but only in one eye, not two, because women are only worth half as much as men.

If you're an American, as I am, and find this inequality of justice offensive, I ask you to pause and consider that the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq suggest that the American system of "justice" values Americans over foreigners, particularly non "Western" foreigners, by a ratio of about a thousand to one, and those thousand don't even have to be guilty of anything. That isn't any kind of justice, blind or otherwise.


Second bellylaugh of the day

Hillary Clinton, projecting:
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton swiped hard at Iran on Wednesday, accusing its hardline leaders of fomenting divisions in the Arab world, promoting terrorism, posing threats to Israel and Europe, and seeking to "intimidate as far as they think their voice can reach."
Right. The U.S. is trying to get the entire world lined up behind an economic blockade of Iran, repeatedly threatens Iran with "all actions being on the table," and they're the ones trying to "intimidate" others? This is beyond parody.


Bellylaugh of the day

The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant Wednesday for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity in Darfur. No, that's not the laugh. This is:
Court spokeswoman Laurence Blairon...rejected accusations that the warrant was part of a political plot and said the decision was made purely on legal grounds.
Really? When, pray tell, can we expect the arrest warrants to be issued for George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair, John Howard, Donald Rumsfeld, and the rest of the war criminals responsible for the criminal invasion of Iraq? When can we expect the arrest warrants to be issued for Ehud Barak and Tzipi Livni for the recent rape of Gaza? When, for that matter, will we see anyone charged by the ICC for the massacres of Sabra and Chatila?

I do hope someone was there to say to Mr. Blairon, "C'mon, now pull the other one."


The power of TV

I wrote last week about the three "missions" that Barack Obama says the "residual" troops (35,000-50,000 - that's some "residue") will be tasked with, and asked readers to identify anything about those missions that was in any way different than the current "mission" of the troops. Last night, Jon Stewart one-upped me, taking the same passage from Obama's speech, and comparing it word-for-word to a speech given by George Bush:



Israel has issued orders to demolish 80 (more) Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, making hundreds of Palestinians homeless and continuing its de facto policy of (not-so) slow motion ethnic cleansing. Of course Israel says they didn't have the proper "building permits," which of course Israel refuses to grant to Palestinians. On television (BBC World I believe), I watched one of the soon to be homeless showing the deed to his home, dated...1920.

The response from the U.S. in the person of Hillary Clinton? The demolitions are "unhelpful." Not an outrage. Not cause for any action on the part of the U.S. Just "unhelpful." What's really "unhelpful" is the U.S. making inane statements like the demolishing of 80 Palestinian homes is "unhelpful."

Of course there's a lot more "unhelpful" to the U.S. position than that. For example, Clinton "announced a U.S. initiative to help poorer Palestinian students attend four-year Palestinian universities and give grants to other Palestinians to attend U.S. schools." That's great, except she might have noted that Palestinians in Gaza who have already been accepted to U.S. and other outside schools have frequently been denied permission to leave by Israel.

Clinton also talked repeatedly about the continuing rocket attacks from Gaza. One little thing she forgot to mention? There have also been continuing bombing and other attacks by Israel on an almost daily basis, and following the declaration of a ceasefire by the two sides, it was Israel who initially and repeatedly violated its own self-declared ceasefire, making "Israel attacks, Gaza retaliates" the proper description of what has been going on since then. It goes without saying that such words have never appeared, either in the mouths of American politicians nor on the pages of the American media.

In more positive news from Israel, something that actually is "helpful" - the British embassy in Tel Aviv has stopped negotiations to lease a floor in a new building because of the company's role in West Bank settlement construction, as an apparent direct consequence of the pressure brought to bear by U.K. supporters of Palestine.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Bellylaugh of the day

Prince Saud al-Faisal told a meeting of Arab foreign ministers in Cairo that non-Arab countries should not interfere in Iraq, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories. (Source)
Prince Saud is evidently under the impression that the United States and Israel are Arab countries.

In case you're wondering, he was actually talking about Iran. They shouldn't interfere. His friends in the U.S. and Israel? Their interference is just fine with him.

Monday, March 02, 2009


Iran's non-existent nukes

While the ruling class of the U.S. (and Israel) continues its non-stop talk about "Iran’s nuclear ambitions," Pat Buchanan, no progressive he, reiterates many of the same arguments you've read here to thoroughly debunk the idea.

I'd like to highlight this from the article because it goes to the faux outrage whipped up at the U.N. (the U.S.-dominated Security Council of course; the U.S. avoids the more democratic General Assembly like the plague) about Iran's "nuclear program":

Unlike Israel, Pakistan and India, none of which signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and all of which ran clandestine programs and built atom bombs, Iran signed the NPT and has abided by its Safeguards Agreement. What it refuses to accept are the broader demands of the U.N. Security Council because these go beyond the NPT and sanction Iran for doing what it has a legal right to do.
And Buchanan's close, something I've also written, bears repeating:
Iran that has not launched an offensive war against any nation within the memory of any living American.

Can we Americans say the same?
Update: Today's news brings more evidence of just why Iran might want to enrich its own fuel for nuclear power, rather than relying on others:
The US has reportedly offered to shelve its missile defense shield in Europe if Russia withdraws its support for Iran's nuclear program.


U.S. "aid" to Gaza

The U.S. is pledging (and we underscore that word "pledging," and remind readers that 50% of people in the United States who "pledge" their eternal loyalty in marriage end up divorced, indicating the tenuous reality of that word) $900 million to Palestine, but not one cent of that is for reconstruction of Gaza, whose vast destruction was wrought almost entirely with U.S.-supplied weapons (not to mention a U.S.-backed Israeli Army). Not one cent.

Oh, and about that "pledge"?

U.S. officials acknowledge that, in any case, they face serious obstacles in winning approval for a $900-million appropriation at a time of economic distress.
So really, "thinking about pledging" would be even more accurate than "pledging."

Meanwhile, while the world dithers and holds "donor conferences" about things that might or might not happen in the future, significant humanitarian aid is still being impeded right now by Israel and the people of Gaza continue to suffer, while the U.S. and the rest of the "civilized" world utters not a word of condemnation for the continuing collective punishment.

Sunday, March 01, 2009


Photo of the Day

If you've ever been in a boat on the ocean, you're familiar with the sight of gulls following the boat, hoping to get a bite of something to eat. Yesterday on Monterey Bay, this Western Gull (and another one, not shown) had a different target, relentlessly pursuing a California Sea Otter, hoping against hope to grab a bite of that tasty oyster (click to enlarge).

Sea Otter and Western Gull

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