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2.4.2010
GAZA A GULAG MAINTAINED BY DEMOCRACIES

"GAZA IS THE ONLY GULAG IN THE WESTERN HEMISPHERE; MAINTAINED BY DEMOCRACIES,  CLOSED OFF FROM FOOD, WATER AND AIR" SAYS COLONEL TRAVERS, CO-AUTHOR OF THE GOLDSTONE REPORT,  IN AN EXCLUSIVE MEMO INTERVIEW."



One year after the horrendous Israeli military assault on Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, in which over 1400 men, women and children were viciously and brutally slaughtered by invading Israeli troops, MEMO sat down with Colonel Desmond Travers, one of the four co-authors of the Goldstone Report and the only military expert on the team, and discussed his views on Israel, Hamas and the incredibly mixed reception of his groundbreaking and now iconic report.

 
The UN appointed fact-finding mission, of which Colonel Travers was an integral part, set out to investigate the claims that war crimes had been committed by both Israel and Hamas during the 22 day attack on the people of Gaza between 27th December 2008 and 18th January 2009.


 
After the most extensive and rigorous investigation of its kind to ever be carried out on the region, the Goldstone Report concluded that war crimes and possible crimes against humanity had been committed by both sides but by far and away the most blame was apportioned to Israel whose military tactics included, according to Colonel Travers, "hostage taking, felling of houses, destruction of the judicial police infrastructure, destruction of hospitals and the medical infrastructure, destruction of the agricultural, water and sewage infrastructure." The mission investigated 36 separate incidents of alleged Israeli offences, (although there were countless more that Colonel Travers wishes they had time to investigate) and "in all of the 36 cases we found against the perpetrators" (Israel). This included such incidents as the Israeli F-16 missile strike of a home which resulted in the deaths of 22 members of the same family, the al-Daya family; a massacre Israel claims was an "error" but of which Travers says "we didn't accept their explanation." It also included a "horrific" missile attack on al-Maqadmah mosque while people were at prayer, killing 15 civilians and wounding 40.

When asked if there may have been grounds for Israel to target the mosque given claims by people such as Colonel Tim Collins in a recent BBC Newsnight programme that mosques had been used to store weapons, he completely rejected such "spurious" and unfounded allegations. He stands resolutely by the Goldstone Report's findings which stated clearly that there was no evidence of any kind that weapons were stored in the mosque that they investigated. Although the Report's authors made it clear that they could not generalise as they could not investigate all the mosques that were attacked by Israel, and there were many dozens attacked, they chose to investigate the al-Maqadmah Mosque because that was the most serious of all the Israeli attacks on a Muslim place of worship. However, the report concluded that: "The Mission found no evidence that this mosque was used for the storage of weapons or any military activity by Palestinian armed groups. As far as this mosque is concerned, therefore, the Mission found no basis for such an allegation."


 
Colonel Travers therefore puts such allegations down to "negative stereotyping inferences" about Muslims and as he said, this sort of blasé acceptance of facts without proof "couldn't be applied elsewhere. During the height of the troubles in Northern Ireland if a British public figure or a military figure had said, 'Catholic Churches are warehouses for Semtex' there would have been an international outcry, especially in the Catholic world over such a slur." As such, in reference to Tim Collins assertions, after commending him for his military achievements, Colonel Travers says, however "his comments are so much in breach of good evidentiary procedures that I'm sure he knows he lapsed. To serve the propaganda interests of one belligerent over another ill serves his otherwise fine reputation... Collins made statements he knows to be unsound... he has to know this is drivel."

The impact of the Goldstone Report has resonated around the globe and has already affected international relations as well as international law. Asked how he felt about the impact the report is having in terms of Universal Jurisdiction, which is the body of law which allowed for a British arrest warrant to be issued recently against former Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, he responded, "I think it's fantastic. Let militaries all over the world take heed and politicians take heed of this fact, that their holiday travel arrangements might be severely curtailed if they do naughty things!"  Furthermore, as he pointed out, even before the military action had begun, "there were extremely aggressive statements made about what the Israelis would do when they went into Gaza made by Tzipi Livni and by the Minster of Defence and by several generals and some academics. Those statements are incitements of war crimes in their own right." He also spoke about the rather worrying developments of a "very fervid Rabbinate in the military". The effect of the Goldstone Report has certainly also caused much consternation in Israel and Colonel Travers observed, "Israel has been severely frightened by this. It wandered around Europe begging Europe not to impose sanctions on it. It's jet-setting around the place."


 
Colonel Travers was clearly pleased with the impact that the report was having and stated that in the evolution of international humanitarian and human rights law "I think the Goldstone report will probably be a mile in that evolutionary process in the right direction."
 
However, if Colonel Travers' goal of seeking "an end to impunity" in the region is to be achieved we must acknowledge that this is only the beginning and there is still much work to be done. When MEMO pointed out to him the apparent anomaly that while the name of the soldier Gilad Shalit was mentioned as the only Israeli prisoner being held on the Palestinian side, no mention was made in the report of even one name from the 8 to 9000 Palestinian men, women and children being held in Israeli jails in blatant contravention of international law. He conceded that the authors of the report were aware of this fact and that following presentations from human rights organisations on this subject they were all "extremely disturbed by the treatment, illegal detention, torture and abuse of women and children and men." He further stated that, particularly "the treatment of children in this fashion is unacceptable""it is unspeakable, outrageous. Some of the items described about the (Israeli) detention of (Palestinian) children is very, very, very troubling." The Goldstone report therefore only seems to scratch the surface in terms of Israeli offences and abuses of the Palestinian people, but it is an excellent start.



Colonel Travers described how, from the outset, Israel stubbornly refused to assist the UN fact-finding mission every step of the way, whereas Hamas co-operated "one-hundred percent".
 
In discussing the root cause of the war I put to him Israel's standard lament that they could not live with the barrage of Hamas rockets that constantly reigned down on Israeli citizens in places such as Sderot, but Colonel Travers scoffed at the suggestion that there was any legitimate argument of self-defence and stated quite clearly "there isn't one." This is because, Colonel Travers explained, there had been a ceasefire since June that year and that for months "Hamas rockets had ceased being fired into Israel and not only that but Hamas sought a continuation of the ceasefire... and Israel said no." On the contrary he felt that "the subtext in the raison d'etre for going into Gaza by the (Israeli) army" was to find and release Gilad Shalit.
 
Following what was clearly therefore an unjustifiable attack on a besieged civilian population, wreaking the most devastating havoc on their lives, liberty and civilian infrastructure Colonel Travers says: Israel is now "on notice as far as I am concerned… they want to think twice before they try on another similar act again."


 
The Goldstone report is a vital document, a unique attempt to bring the perpetrators of war crimes to justice for the brutality they have exercised against the people of Gaza. People who still, one year later, have been unable to rebuild their lives because of the illegal siege, (which is almost in its fourth year now) that Israel continues to impose on them, (with the direct complicity of Egypt) and the war crimes thus continue. Israel must be brought to account for its actions. As Colonel Travers said, "Gaza is occupied territory. I would go further and say that the land, sea and air that they breathe is more or less determined by the occupier and the quality of it and it's deteriorating." "Gaza has now come into the history books in the same way as Guernica, Dresden, Stalingrad. Gaza is a gulag, the only gulag in the Western hemisphere; maintained by democracies; closed-off from food, water, air." But Gaza cannot be relegated to the history books yet. The atrocities are happening now, every day, and the world community must sit up and do something before it is too late.
 
Colonel Desmond Travers has a distinguished military carer that spans over 40 years. Before retiring from the Irish forces in 2001 he had worked in key EU and UN roles including commanding peacekeeping troops in Cyprus and Lebanon and he served in the Balkans twice. He has been the Commandant of the Irish Army's Military College, The Curragh, and currently teaches a module on war crime investigations at the Institute of International Criminal Investigation in The Hague where he also sits on the Board of Directors.

For the exclusive full-length interview with Colonel Travers Download the full interview transcript."

Posted at 06:34 pm by deadringer
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1.31.2010
HAITI - ANOTHER "EARTHQUATE" 130 MILES AWAY



Of course,  there was not another earth quake per say in Jamaica,  in the strict sense of the word,  but this "earthquake" is man made by the current damnable world system.  People go to Jamaica all the time, to the tourist area,  and never stop to think what is happening where the people live.  What is going on is the same unabashed robbery that is taking place in third world countries all over the world, the debt and exploitation earthquake of neoliberalism. 

From the first song sung by a disenfranchised man walking down the destitute streets in this documentary,  to the end of the documentary,  you can see what the real pirates of the Caribbean are doing to the poor,  purposefully condemned to such a life.  What happened in Haiti,  is what is happening in Jamaica,  the only difference being that mother nature has not delivered the extra punch.  This current world system needs to be shut down swiftly with prejudice,  both foreign and domestic.  No more exploitation and destruction reeked by the dominants throughout the world,  and this commitment has to be the battle cry of not only the victims,  but the people in the belly of the beast.  No more unipolar or multi-polar (new rising dominants) atrocities. I GIVE YOU -

LIFE AND DEBT

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In the excellent volume "The Sorrows Of Empire,"  Chalmers Johnson gives a summation of the entire process in the above documentary (Life And Debt),  and please spare me the recitation of the Pacific Rim countries who were not subjected to this same system but were allowed to protect themselves and develop their industries free of these global "rules" -

"In 1841,  the prominant German economist Friedrich List (who has immigrated to America) wrote in his masterpiece,  The National System Of Political Economy, "It is a very common clever device that when anyone has attained the summit of greatness,  he kicks away the ladder by which he climbed up,  in order to deprive others the means of climbing up after him."  Much of modern Anglo-American economics and all of the theory of globalization are attempts to disguise the kicking away of the ladder."  Pg. 262,  The Sorrows of Empire.

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WHEN WILL INDIVIDUALS IN DOMINANT NATIONS AWAKEN TO THE FACT OF THE TOTAL DICHOTOMY THEIR POLICIES BRING TO THE REST OF THE WORLD?


Posted at 10:53 am by deadringer
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1.30.2010
REFLECTIONS ON HOWARD ZINN

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I admire and I am thankful for a man like Howard Zinn,  who raises up the poor and oppressed,  brings to light that which is obscured,  and longs for change which frees humanity.  If you could boil down everything that he has done to its essence,  it would be that he is a champion of the people.

He is an example of what a solitary person can do,  even though an entire system is arrayed against him and the cause(s) which he stands for,  he is a combination of desire and determination.  He lives on,  even though he has passed away,  and his works still inspire and spark the people even though they are subjected to great darkness.  Howard is like a farmer who plants seeds,  and waters the garden of mankind,  and so we look forward to a new crop of hope and a brighter future by his efforts.  Rest in peace Howard,  and may the people rise in power.

"Where progress has been made, wherever any kind of injustice has been overturned, it's been because people acted as citizens, and not as politicians. They didn't just moan. They worked, they acted, they organized, they rioted if necessary to bring their situation to the attention of people in power. And that's what we... have to do today." (Howard Zinn)

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As I stated above,  I have immense respect for men like Howard Zinn,  and his contemporaries like Noam Chomsky.  Perhaps the only place I disagree is that we must have this eternal battle with the "powers that be,"  within this system that is corrupt to the core.  Our generation must realize by now that all that is created with the "reform" aspect is a circular activity,  which always ends up with the people at ground zero,  like today.  Others think that they have the answer by addressing one portion of an all pervasive problem,  the system itself,  instead of realizing that the entire system must be torn down,  by any means necessary.  The people must wake up soon,  the hour is late and those who have gone before us left us the lions share to accomplish.

Posted at 09:11 am by deadringer
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1.26.2010
US SUPREME COURT + VOTE = FASCISM



"We may congratulate ourselves that this cruel war is nearing its end.
It has cost a vast amount of treasure and blood. . . .
It has indeed been a trying hour for the Republic; but
I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
me to tremble for the safety of my country. As a result of the war,
corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places
will follow, and the money power of the country will endeavor to prolong
its reign by working upon the prejudices of the people until all wealth
is aggregated in a few hands and the Republic is destroyed.
I feel at this moment more anxiety for the safety
of my country than ever before, even in the midst of war.
God grant that my suspicions may prove groundless."
Abraham Lincoln

No one who has done a serious study of the rise and now reign of corporations is surprised by the ruling of the US Supreme Court,  after all,  corporations are merely the instruments of an elite.  The vote which came forward (which was split,  another long story about a proverbial joke),  is just the finishing touch of what has been a long functioning process that divests the people of any form of representation.  So the rich rule through a fictitious person that will never die.



Of course,  there has never really been a true representation of the people in a polyarchy  (which always devolves to an oligarchy) that claimed to be a republic run by democratic principles,  so the vote of the US Supreme Court is merely the final stage of what has been the process veiled from the beginning.  They feel so bold and empowered now that they can express what has always been true to the function of this nation publicly in the highest court.  So for those of you who who do not know what is going on,  meet the "new" we the people,  and some say this means that the people are the "new" apes.

Not one judge seriously questions the history of the "findings,"  the making of the corporation into a person through the usurpation of the 14th Amendment made for the protection of the rights of newly freed black slaves.  What ensued was an entity without a conscience,  grasping all of the privileges of a human being,  with the potential of power without end that can never die.  It has all of the privileges currently with none of the responsibilities,  which can function like a sociopath without remedy.



Now the corporations have unlimited access to supporting without limit the government which is supposed to function (at least on paper) for real organic human beings.  Now all corporations,  both foreign and domestic,  can have anything that they desire.  We know what they desire,  everything for themselves and nothing for anyone else,  and we have been experiencing it under many forms of seeming restriction - now it is a no holds barred ownership of the life of human beings.

Within the framework of this debacle is free speech interpreted as being able to give cold hard cash to influence the framework of the government,  and no one has more money than the corporations.  The outcome will be no free speech in reality for the people,  and you can take all of the Amendments and write them off as applicable to the people, because they will be even more applicable to the corporations.  In essence the very power of life and death is held within the merciless palm of a "person" whose only motivation is self-enrichment - and that means grinding poverty for the people.



Because this has been bequeathed to the corporations from what has been argued as the most powerful body in government,  the US Supreme Court,  it ensures the influence throughout the entire framework of  the government.  One could say the power vested in the highest court is that which is close to being a god,  it will exercise its omnipotence without the attended omnipresence,  or omniscience.  A mandate delivered to its creation - the corporation,  to rule ruthlessly and exercise dominion over the people now deemed lower creatures.

What this tells you is that we have come to the full maturity of fascism (as implied in my title),  greater than that even of the Third Reich which had to partially use clandestine means to reek destruction on the planet.  This is what happens when a ruling of this sort is made in the most powerful nation on earth,  it sets its army of corporations as a militant army to subjugate the planet to the will of the few.



So you might ask,  what can and should be done?  I tell the people, there is the behemoth right in front of you,  and it has to be undone by the people.  You have no other choice at this juncture,  it must be definitively divested of its personhood,  The government which gave birth to it (over a long period of time) must be dismantled,  and subjugated to the will of the people by any means necessary.  This because,  power never willingly steps down,  it must be toppled.




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Uploaded by DEATHINKING.

TODAY HOWARD ZINN PASSED AWAY,  AT THE AGE OF 87 OF A HEART ATTACK IN CALIFORNIA,  SANTA MONICA -

LOS ANGELES TIMES

He was always inspiring and caring,  there is not a fitter man to write "A Peoples History of the United States,"  because it was very evident that he cared for people of every background.  Today a giant sleeps,  but his ideas and dream remain alive in the hearts of the people.

Howard Zinn on this US Supreme Court decision:

"Liberals get excited about things like that as if they signal a dramatic change. No, the corporations ran our elections before the decision and will do so now -- just with a fig leaf of "legality." The designation of corporations as "persons" which started in 1886 is just proof of how our legal system, the Constitution, the courts have always been tools of the wealthy classes."  More below (sound familiar?) -

Posted at 09:09 pm by deadringer
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1.24.2010
WHAT IS THE ENDGAME IN GAZA?


Protest in Beirut against Egypt's "Wall of Shame" on the border with Gaza.

Ahmed Moor,  Mondoweiss

"I want to focus attention on an issue that hasn't gotten enough press. The Mubarak regime is building a subterranean steel wall on the border with Gaza. Conservative estimates put the depth of the wall at 18 meters (nearly 60 feet). The BBC reports that American engineers designed the wall panels, which were constructed in America.


30-meter-deep holes are being bored into the ground on the Palestinian side of the wall. Egypt will pump salt water from the Mediterranean Sea into the earth to destroy the tunnels – the lifeblood of the besieged Gazan Palestinians. Soil quality will be degraded and the Coastal aquifer, Gaza's source of potable water, may well be destroyed.

The deranged Obama-Netanyahu-Mubarak cabal seems to be possessed of a biblical rage. Dare to defy the divine edict? We will crush your men, women and children underfoot. Refuse to starve? We will raze your cities, poison your wells, and salt the earth. Their grandiosity – think of it, they're building an 18-meter-deep steel wall(!) for 11 kilometers – beggars belief, and beggars Gazans.


Protests have erupted across the Arab world and Europe targeting Egyptian embassies and consulates; I attended one yesterday in Beirut. But the Egyptian regime isn't responsive to popular pressure, so a group of activists here in Lebanon have begun a movement to draw attention to the Egyptian company assembling the wall – Arab Contractors. Our hope is that details emerge, other companies can be targeted. I reported on our first press conference for Electronic Intifada.

We spend so much time on the Zionists in Israel, Egypt and America and their actions today that the big picture sometimes loses focus. The most powerful state in the world – and its regional lackeys – are targeting the people in Gaza for… what? For starvation? For extermination? What is Mr. Obama's endgame here? Once the tunnels are gone, the land degraded and the water undrinkable… well, then what? I cannot express how I feel. There is no solace in this tragedy."


Ahmed Moor is a Gaza-born Palestinian-American freelance journalist living in Beirut. 

MONDOWEISS - ORIGINAL POST

EGYPTIAN CONTRACTORS - ELECTRONIC INTIFADA

STARVING GHETTOS EVERYWHERE (BELOW),  BUT NONE LIKE GAZA:

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SURVIVING THE US,  ISRAELI,  EGYPTIAN SIEGE (BELOW):

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Posted at 12:55 pm by deadringer
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1.22.2010
NO WORK FOR YOU (PART 3)

UNEMPLOYMENT CUTBACKS DEEPEN

By Fred Goldstein

"The latest job reports for December should convince workers that all the talk about economic recovery coming from the media pundits is just hot air. The only recovery is the bankers' bonuses and the corporations' profits. And the time to fight back against layoffs, foreclosures and cutbacks is now.

In December 85,000 more jobs were lost, bringing the total in the last two years to 8 million. The total official unemployment rate remained at 10 percent, but that is only because 661,000 workers stopped looking for jobs and were not counted. If they had been counted, unemployment would have jumped to 10.4 percent.

A number which gives a truer picture of the dire situation for the workers is the so-called official "underemployment" figure. This includes the 15.3 million workers who have looked for a job in the last four weeks and are officially out of a job; the 2.5 million workers who are "marginally attached" to the work force; and 9.2 million workers who are forced to work part-time even though they need a full-time job.


Together these figures add up to 27 million workers — or almost one in five workers who are officially unemployed or underemployed!

The racism in capitalist society shows up dramatically in the underemployment statistics. One in four African-American and Latino/a workers is underemployed. White underemployment is 14.6 percent, but the figure for African Americans is 25.1 percent and for Latino/a workers 24.3 percent.

As far as young workers are concerned, they are suffering greatly from this crisis. One in four workers between the ages of 16 and 24 is without any job — 25.7 percent. Students and youth have no future in this latest phase of capitalist economic crisis. Their only path can be one of rebellion and struggle for education and jobs.


In fact, things are even worse than these numbers indicate. The work force lost a net total of 810,000 workers because of dropouts in the last two years. But it should have increased by 2.8 million since the downturn started in December 2007 because of population growth and related factors. So there are 3.6 million "missing"workers who either dropped out or came of working age and never entered the labor force because there were no prospects of getting a job.

Higher profits

with fewer workers

So much for the talk of recovery. During the entire crisis the bosses have been laying off workers and making those who remain work harder and/or work fewer hours or longer hours. They have sent jobs abroad, instituted technological speed-ups, and in general found ways to keep profits up by shedding workers and/or intensifying their exploitation.

The trend of destroying permanent jobs and putting temporary jobs in their place — a trend that has been in force for several decades — has intensified during the crisis. A major study by Business Week magazine (Jan. 18), a mouthpiece of the bosses, practically gloats that 26 percent of the work force is now in the temporary category. The capitalists can hire workers, with no health care, no pension, no vacation, no protection whatsoever, and then discard them at a moment's notice.


This trend fits in with shrinking the workforce in order to bolster profits. How is this possible? Corporations have downsized and squeezed more labor out of fewer workers. That is the very source of their increased profits.

For example, Ford Motor Co has laid off 53,000 workers and shut 15 plants since 2006. Yet Ford made $1 billion in profit in the third quarter of 2009. Microsoft laid off 5,000 workers and made $14.6 billion in profit in 2009. IBM's profits grew 18 percent last year to $12.3 billion, but the company laid off 10,000 workers. Aetna made $1.38 billion and laid off 1,240 workers. Verizon, Monsanto, Phillip Morris, Wal-Mart and other giants all had layoffs and boosted profit. (epi.org)

A deep and growing crisis

Communities are suffering from this crisis as the bankers and bosses try to get the people to foot the bill for the multi-trillion-dollar bail out of the banks and the trillion-dollar-plus cost of the Afghanistan war, the campaign against Pakistan, the continued occupation of Iraq, and the general expansion of U.S. military aggression into Yemen and Somalia.


While Washington has trillions to bail out the banks and the auto and insurance giants and $700 billion for the 2009 military budget, there is hardly any money for the state governments that are cutting back services for the workers and the poor with a meat axe.

The economic crisis has slashed state revenues. So 43 states plus the District of Columbia have carried out severe budget cuts, and more are on the way. According to a report by the Center for Budget Policy and Priorities, 28 states are cutting health care services; 24 states are cutting services to the elderly and disabled; 36 states are cutting aid to higher education and much more.

Over 132,000 state and local government workers have been laid off, and hundreds of thousands more jobs are on the chopping block. The crisis has left the states with projected total shortfalls of $350 billion for the years 2010 and 2011.


One thing that is not discussed is that all the states and municipalities owe money to the banks. Most state and local budgets are heavily burdened with these payments. The banks they owe the money to are primarily the big banks that have gotten the bailouts.

But there is not one word about suspending the payment of tens of billions of dollars to these parasites who do nothing but sit around and collect money, while the masses of people lose their homes, their education, their health care and the very means of life. The laws of capitalist "free enterprise" and the profit system dictate that profits are sacred and the needs of the people come last.

The situation in this country has become so bad for the people that 6 million people in the U.S. have no income at all but live on food stamps. They get no pensions, no welfare, no unemployment insurance, no disability pay, no other source of income — in the richest country in the world. (New York Times, Jan. 3) Furthermore, one in eight people in the U.S. is poor enough to get food stamps.


To make matters worse, the foreclosure crisis is going to deepen. In addition to the millions who have already lost their homes, it is forecast that the bankers will force another 7 million homeowners into foreclosure in the next several years.

In the midst of this crisis, there is a growing silent attack upon undocumented workers as the Obama administration has, on the one hand, reduced the number of raids, but, on the other, has increased the prosecutions and deportations of immigrants.

Class struggle must sharpen

In every sphere, whether it's jobs, food, housing, health care, education, heating or just basic living, the workers, the communities, the youth and students are under attack. The attack is by one class — the rich, the property-owning, profit-gouging capitalist class.


The attack is upon the working class — employed, unemployed, documented and undocumented of all races and nationalities, women, men, lesbian, gay, bi and trans, old and young.

The working class has no choice but to unite and answer back. The labor movement and the communities, the youth and students must unite into an organized movement to stop the bosses from putting the crisis of their profit system on our backs.

The Jobs March at the G-20 in Pittsburgh last September was a beginning. The marches for jobs on Wall Street in New York City and in Detroit over the Martin Luther King Day holiday will be another step. The March 4 day of national student protest could become a spark that sets off wider struggles against the crisis. And this May Day is another great opportunity for a united effort to push the struggle further.

The rich will not stop taking until we stop them. That is the lesson of every workers' struggle, of every fight for the rights of the masses of people — from the struggle to organize the mass unions in the 1930s to struggles for civil rights and against racism, national oppression and sexual oppression in the 1960s. The time is now."


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1.20.2010
HOLDING CORPORATIONS ACCOUNTABLE FOR APARTHEID CRIMES


BY AMY GOODMAN

"A landmark class action case is under way in a New York federal court, with victims of apartheid in South Africa suing corporations that they say helped the pre-1994 regime. Among the multinational corporations are IBM, Fujitsu, Ford, GM and banking giants UBS and Barclays. The lawsuit accuses the corporations of "knowing participation in and/or aiding and abetting of the crimes of apartheid; extrajudicial killing; torture; prolonged unlawful detention; and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." Attorneys are seeking up to $400 billion in damages.

The late anti-apartheid activist Dennis Brutus, who died just weeks ago, is a listed plaintiff. Back in 2008, he told me that "for [the corporations], apartheid was a very good system, and it was a very profitable system." As the U.S. observes the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, marks the first anniversary in office of the first African-American president and ponders the exposure of a racial gaffe spoken by Sen. Harry Reid, the issue of race is front and center, making this case timely and compelling.

The Alien Tort Statute dates from the U.S. Revolutionary War era and allows people from outside the United States to bring a civil suit against another party for alleged crimes committed outside the United States. Cases have been brought in recent years to address forced labor on an oil pipeline in Burma, the killing of labor organizers in Colombia and the killing of activists in the Niger delta. This suit alleges that the apartheid regime could not have succeeded in its violent oppression of millions of people without the active support of the foreign corporations.


Ford and General Motors built manufacturing centers in Port Elizabeth, South Africa, where Dennis Brutus grew up. He told me, "They were using ... very cheap black labor, because there was a law in South Africa which said blacks are not allowed to join trade unions, and they're not allowed to strike, so that they were forced to accept whatever wages they were given. They lived in ghettos ...  actually in the boxes in which the parts had been shipped from the U.S. to be assembled in South Africa. So you had a whole township called Kwaford, meaning 'the place of Ford.' "

Likewise with IBM and Fujitsu. The complaint states, "The South African security forces used computers supplied by ... IBM and Fujitsu ... to restrict Black people's movements within the country, to track non-whites and political dissidents, and to target individuals for the purpose of repressing the Black population and perpetuating the apartheid system." Black South Africans were issued passbooks, which the apartheid regime used to restrict movement and track millions of people, and to enable politically motivated arrests and disappearances over decades.

UBS and Barclays, the suit alleges, "directly financed the South African security forces that carried out the most brutal aspects of apartheid." The United Nations Special Committee Against Apartheid stated, in 1979, that "we learn today that more than $5.4 billion has been loaned in a six-year period to bolster a regime which is responsible for some of the most heinous crimes ever committed against humanity." Banks (including UBS) were punished for helping the Nazis during World War II, so precedent exists for reparations in the case of apartheid.


One of the plaintiffs' attorneys, Michael Hausfeld, told me: "Who is a corporation and what are its responsibilities? If companies can affect lives in ways that make those lives worse, so that people are suppressed or terrorized ... you are basically ascribing to eternity the fact that companies can act with both impunity and immunity."

South Africa went through a historic process after apartheid, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), led by Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Thousands of people took responsibility for their actions, along with scores of South African corporations. Not one multinational company accepted the invitation to speak at the TRC. The case, says Marjorie Jobson, national director of the Khulumani Support Group, which is filing the lawsuit, "takes forward the unfinished business of the TRC."

The election of Barack Obama, the son of an African, was a historic moment in the fight against racism. But unless U.S. courts are open to addressing wrongs, past and present, corporations will still feel free to go abroad and profit from racist and repressive policies."
 
Denis Moynihan contributed research to this column.
 
Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on more than 800 stations in North America. She is the author of "Breaking the Sound Barrier," recently released in paperback and now a New York Times best-seller.

TRUTHDIG ORIGINAL ARTICLE

DISMANTLE THE CORPORATIONS (BELOW):

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Posted at 07:01 pm by deadringer
Comments (2)  

1.16.2010
HAITI: WHY THE BLOOD IS ON OUR HANDS



From the time of Haiti's defeat of Napoleons forces,  which had not been defeated to that date,  till now,  Haiti has been oppressed by Western Imperialism.  The land and the people,  Haiti, that made the walls of the institution of slavery shake throughout the West and eventually crumble. Made to pay reparations to France for its colonial loss,  in essence paying for the system which enslaved them till 1947!  Sanctioned by the dominants in the world community,  made to endure tyrants set up by foreign interest for exploitation,  occupied by the US from 1915 to 1934.  Literally destroyed by neoliberal policies and mercilessly hobbled by  debt through that damnable system,  the deforestation of its land,  and deluged by subsidized products from the US and other parts of the world killing its industries.  Peppered with sweat shops paying a pittance per day for the likes of WalMart and Disney among others.  The removal of its democratically elected leaders  because they had the temerity to want a rise in the standard of living for the impoverished people.  Now assailed by natural disaster unable to respond on its own because of the oppression and exploitation which has spanned hundreds of years,  the atrocities and injustices are too many to list. Fuck Western imperialism,  damn you all,  I want to be here when I can personally hear your death rattles.

By Ted Rall
"As grim accounts of the earthquake in Haiti came in, the accounts in U.S.-controlled state media all carried the same descriptive sentence: "Haiti is the poorest country in the Western hemisphere..."

Gee, I wonder how that happened?



You'd think Haiti would be loaded. After all, it made a lot of people rich.

How did Haiti get so poor? Despite a century of American colonialism, occupation, and propping up corrupt dictators? Even though the CIA staged coups d'état against every democratically elected president they ever had?

It's an important question. An earthquake isn't just an earthquake. The same 7.0 tremor hitting San Francisco wouldn't kill nearly as many people as in Port-au-Prince.



"Looking at the pictures, essentially it looks as if (the buildings are of) breezeblock or cinderblock construction, and what you need in an earthquake zone is metal bars that connect the blocks so that they stay together when they get shaken," notes Sandy Steacey, director of the Environmental Science Research Institute at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. "In a wealthy country with good seismic building codes that are enforced, you would have some damage, but not very much."

When a pile of cinderblocks falls on you, your odds of survival are long. Even if you miraculously survive, a poor country like Haiti doesn't have the equipment, communications infrastructure or emergency service personnel to pull you out of the rubble in time. And if your neighbors get you out, there's no ambulance to take you to the hospital--or doctor to treat you once you get there.



Earthquakes are random events. How many people they kill is predetermined. In Haiti this week, don't blame tectonic plates. Ninety-nine percent of the death toll is attributable to poverty.

So the question is relevant. How'd Haiti become so poor?

The story begins in 1910, when a U.S. State Department-National City Bank of New York (now called Citibank) consortium bought the Banque National d'Haïti--Haiti's only commercial bank and its national treasury--in effect transferring Haiti's debts to the Americans. Five years later, President Woodrow Wilson ordered troops to occupy the country in order to keep tabs on "our" investment.



From 1915 to 1934, the U.S. Marines imposed harsh military occupation, murdered Haitians patriots and diverted 40 percent of Haiti's gross domestic product to U.S. bankers. Haitians were banned from government jobs. Ambitious Haitians were shunted into the puppet military, setting the stage for a half-century of U.S.-backed military dictatorship.

The U.S. kept control of Haiti's finances until 1947.

Still--why should Haitians complain? Sure, we stole 40 percent of Haiti's national wealth for 32 years. But we let them keep 60 percent.

Whiners.



Despite having been bled dry by American bankers and generals, civil disorder prevailed until 1957, when the CIA installed President-for-Life François "Papa Doc" Duvalier. Duvalier's brutal Tonton Macoutes paramilitary goon squads murdered at least 30,000 Haitians and drove educated people to flee into exile. But think of the cup as half-full: fewer people in the population means fewer people competing for the same jobs!

Upon Papa Doc's death in 1971, the torch passed to his even more dissolute 19-year-old son, Jean-Claude "Baby Doc" Duvalier. The U.S., cool to Papa Doc in his later years, quickly warmed back up to his kleptomaniacal playboy heir. As the U.S. poured in arms and trained his army as a supposed anti-communist bulwark against Castro's Cuba, Baby Doc stole an estimated $300 to $800 million from the national treasury, according to Transparency International. The money was placed in personal accounts in Switzerland and elsewhere.


Under U.S. influence, Baby Doc virtually eliminated import tariffs for U.S. goods. Soon Haiti was awash predatory agricultural imports dumped by American firms. Domestic rice farmers went bankrupt. A nation that had been agriculturally self-sustaining collapsed. Farms were abandoned. Hundreds of thousands of farmers migrated to the teeming slums of Port-au-Prince.



The Duvalier era, 29 years in all, came to an end in 1986 when President Ronald Reagan ordered U.S. forces to whisk Baby Doc to exile in France, saving him from a popular uprising.

Once again, Haitians should thank Americans. Duvalierism was "tough love." Forcing Haitians to make do without their national treasury was our nice way or encouraging them to work harder, to lift themselves up by their bootstraps. Or, in this case, flipflops.
Anyway.

The U.S. has been all about tough love ever since. We twice deposed the populist and popular democratically-elected president Jean-Bertrand Aristide. The second time, in 2004, we even gave him a free flight to the Central African Republic! (He says the CIA kidnapped him, but whatever.) Hey, he needed a rest. And it was kind of us to support a new government formed by former Tonton Macoutes.




Yet, despite everything we've done for Haiti, they're still a fourth-world failed state on a fault line.

And still, we haven't given up. American companies like Disney generously pay wages to their sweatshop workers of 28 cents an hour.

What more do these ingrates want?"


Ted Rall is the author of the new book "Silk Road to Ruin: Is Central Asia the New Middle East?," an in-depth prose and graphic novel analysis of America's next big foreign policy challenge. http://www.rall.com/rants.html


ORIGINAL ARTICLE - INFORMATION CLEARING HOUSE

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"The role which the great Negro Toussaint, called L'Ouverture, played in the history of the United States has seldom been fully appreciated. Representing the age of revolution in America, he rose to leadership through a bloody terror, which contrived a Negro "problem" for the Western hemisphere, intensified and defined the anti-slavery movement, became one of the causes, and probably the prime one, which led Napoleon to sell Louisiana for a song; and, finally, through the interworking of all these effects, rendered more certain the final prohibition of the slave-trade by the United States in 1807" (Du Bois, p. 70).

I take the earthquake in Haiti as an omen,  if you please,  it presages the total destruction of the damnable system of Western hegemony,  which will quake and fall without remedy.  I commend the charitable responders,  and I damn the system that made Haiti so helpless. Your world system of carnage is on life support,  and the people will pull the plug and bring in a new system which is anthropocentric -  (see below,  play loud):


"How will the powers that be justify in the future the daily dilapidation of colossal sums sunk in over-armament and wars or the rescue of banks, when they allow destitute peoples like the people of Haiti to live in the utmost poverty? To this terrifying tragedy must be added the daily distress of its twelve million inhabitants, nearly four fifths of whom survive on less than two dollars a day. Our Haitian brothers made themselves heard in 2007 through their hunger riots: already, they alerted us to the basic selfishness of a world order that has been strangling them for two centuries. The rulers of the planet, it seems, still have not forgiven them for winning their dignity in 1804, when the island became independent. From the very beginning, the rulers and imperialists punished this people by organising a commercial blockade against it, and setting up puppet governments until the IMF put Haiti under supervision. As a result of which the country was never allowed to enjoy complete freedom, or build its own development, or have supreme control over its destiny. So much so that the country has been bled white." (below)

 SOLIDARITY WITH HAITI - L'HUMANITE

I KNOW I PLAYED THIS TUNE EARLIER,  HERE IS A DIFFERENT TAKE,  I THINK IT IS TIME FOR ALL OF US TO WAKE UP - SO,  WAKE UP (BELOW) -

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"Yes, the earthquake was a violent natural disaster, presenting overwhelming challenges to any government or any aid responders.  Yet, it is clear that this natural disaster—just like that of Hurricane Katrina -- is compounded by a political failure, the continuation of generations  of assaults against Haiti, and – in particular – a brutal UN/US occupation that has brought to a grinding halt the promise of the Aristide years. Now we watch the U.S. gear up for a massive military operation in Haiti, while people die due to lack of medicine, or starve while food supplies sit on the airport tarmac.  We see the pictures of families digging their relatives out of the rubble, with no aid in sight despite the presence of 9000 UN troops..."   (below)

  POLITICS OF THE EARTHQUAKE: RESPECT FOR THE PEOPLE OF HAITI

"We read that the problems of Haiti are rooted in "their culture and religious beliefs," rather than in the harsh realities of colonialism and occupation." (ABOVE)

One final note.  You are going to have to decide who you are for,  whether it is for the people both at home or abroad,  or this damnable system,  because the two are mutually exclusive.  Like Che who was being celebrated in the jungle in his younger years,  whether you think your place is with the accolades of men that have done this to the world,  or whether you will swim the dangerous river to embrace those in the leper colony.  Who are your brothers and sisters,  who deserves your compassion and commitment, because there is no greater display of love than wanting to see and participating in breaking the chains of oppression on your fellow human beings.

Posted at 06:39 pm by deadringer
Comments (3)  

1.13.2010
ISRAEL: THE ALTERNATIVE - TONY JUDT

Tony Judt

This is a 2003 essay written by Tony Judt in the New York Review of Books.  I decided to republish it here because of its clarity and actually timely nature.  Bold in the assertion for the one state solution,  as Judt picks up the mantle after the untimely death of Edward Said.  Since than he has been excoriated,  his venues have been sabotaged,  but he continues on facing immense odds both personal and professional speaking the truth.  It has been seven years approximately since Tony Judt wrote this,  and the choice between a democracy or a fascist racist apartheid state of Israel is now more real than ever.  So the quoted words of Tony Judt ring louder than ever before - 

"As the prominent Labor politician Avraham Burg recently wrote, "After two thousand years of struggle for survival, the reality of Israel is a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law and civic morality." Unless something changes, Israel in half a decade will be neither Jewish nor democratic."


"The Middle East peace process is finished. It did not die: it was killed. Mahmoud Abbas was undermined by the President of the Palestinian Authority and humiliated by the Prime Minister of Israel. His successor awaits a similar fate. Israel continues to mock its American patron, building illegal settlements in cynical disregard of the "road map." The President of the United States of America has been reduced to a ventriloquist's dummy, pitifully reciting the Israeli cabinet line: "It's all Arafat's fault." Israelis themselves grimly await the next bomber. Palestinian Arabs, corralled into shrinking Bantustans, subsist on EU handouts. On the corpse-strewn landscape of the Fertile Crescent, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and a handful of terrorists can all claim victory, and they do. Have we reached the end of the road? What is to be done?

At the dawn of the twentieth century, in the twilight of the continental empires, Europe's subject peoples dreamed of forming "nation-states," territorial homelands where Poles, Czechs, Serbs, Armenians, and others might live free, masters of their own fate. When the Habsburg and Romanov empires collapsed after World War I, their leaders seized the opportunity. A flurry of new states emerged; and the first thing they did was set about privileging their national, "ethnic" majority—defined by language, or religion, or antiquity, or all three—at the expense of inconvenient local minorities, who were consigned to second-class status: permanently resident strangers in their own home.

But one nationalist movement, Zionism, was frustrated in its ambitions. The dream of an appropriately sited Jewish national home in the middle of the defunct Turkish Empire had to wait upon the retreat of imperial Britain: a process that took three more decades and a second world war. And thus it was only in 1948 that a Jewish nation-state was established in formerly Ottoman Palestine. But the founders of the Jewish state had been influenced by the same concepts and categories as their fin-de-siècle contemporaries back in Warsaw, or Odessa, or Bucharest; not surprisingly, Israel's ethno-religious self-definition, and its discrimination against internal "foreigners," has always had more in common with, say, the practices of post-Habsburg Romania than either party might care to acknowledge.


The problem with Israel, in short, is not—as is sometimes suggested—that it is a European "enclave" in the Arab world; but rather that it arrived too late. It has imported a characteristically late-nineteenth-century separatist project into a world that has moved on, a world of individual rights, open frontiers, and international law. The very idea of a "Jewish state"—a state in which Jews and the Jewish religion have exclusive privileges from which non-Jewish citizens are forever excluded—is rooted in another time and place. Israel, in short, is an anachronism.

In one vital attribute, however, Israel is quite different from previous insecure, defensive microstates born of imperial collapse: it is a democracy. Hence its present dilemma. Thanks to its occupation of the lands conquered in 1967, Israel today faces three unattractive choices. It can dismantle the Jewish settlements in the territories, return to the 1967 state borders within which Jews constitute a clear majority, and thus remain both a Jewish state and a democracy, albeit one with a constitutionally anomalous community of second-class Arab citizens.

Alternatively, Israel can continue to occupy "Samaria," "Judea," and Gaza, whose Arab population—added to that of present-day Israel—will become the demographic majority within five to eight years: in which case Israel will be either a Jewish state (with an ever-larger majority of unenfranchised non-Jews) or it will be a democracy. But logically it cannot be both.


Or else Israel can keep control of the Occupied Territories but get rid of the overwhelming majority of the Arab population: either by forcible expulsion or else by starving them of land and livelihood, leaving them no option but to go into exile. In this way Israel could indeed remain both Jewish and at least formally democratic: but at the cost of becoming the first modern democracy to conduct full-scale ethnic cleansing as a state project, something which would condemn Israel forever to the status of an outlaw state, an international pariah.

Anyone who supposes that this third option is unthinkable above all for a Jewish state has not been watching the steady accretion of settlements and land seizures in the West Bank over the past quarter-century, or listening to generals and politicians on the Israeli right, some of them currently in government. The middle ground of Israeli politics today is occupied by the Likud. Its major component is the late Menachem Begin's Herut Party. Herut is the successor to Vladimir Jabotinsky's interwar Revisionist Zionists, whose uncompromising indifference to legal and territorial niceties once attracted from left-leaning Zionists the epithet "fascist." When one hears Israel's deputy prime minister, Ehud Olmert, proudly insist that his country has not excluded the option of assassinating the elected president of the Palestinian Authority, it is clear that the label fits better than ever. Political murder is what fascists do.

The situation of Israel is not desperate, but it may be close to hopeless. Suicide bombers will never bring down the Israeli state, and the Palestinians have no other weapons. There are indeed Arab radicals who will not rest until every Jew is pushed into the Mediterranean, but they represent no strategic threat to Israel, and the Israeli military knows it. What sensible Israelis fear much more than Hamas or the al-Aqsa Brigade is the steady emergence of an Arab majority in "Greater Israel," and above all the erosion of the political culture and civic morale of their society. As the prominent Labor politician Avraham Burg recently wrote, "After two thousand years of struggle for survival, the reality of Israel is a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law and civic morality."[1] Unless something changes, Israel in half a decade will be neither Jewish nor democratic.


This is where the US enters the picture. Israel's behavior has been a disaster for American foreign policy. With American support, Jerusalem has consistently and blatantly flouted UN resolutions requiring it to withdraw from land seized and occupied in war. Israel is the only Middle Eastern state known to possess genuine and lethal weapons of mass destruction. By turning a blind eye, the US has effectively scuttled its own increasingly frantic efforts to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of other small and potentially belligerent states. Washington's unconditional support for Israel even in spite of (silent) misgivings is the main reason why most of the rest of the world no longer credits our good faith.

It is now tacitly conceded by those in a position to know that America's reasons for going to war in Iraq were not necessarily those advertised at the time.[2] For many in the current US administration, a major strategic consideration was the need to destabilize and then reconfigure the Middle East in a manner thought favorable to Israel. This story continues. We are now making belligerent noises toward Syria because Israeli intelligence has assured us that Iraqi weapons have been moved there—a claim for which there is no corroborating evidence from any other source. Syria backs Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad: sworn foes of Israel, to be sure, but hardly a significant international threat. However, Damascus has hitherto been providing the US with critical data on al-Qaeda. Like Iran, another longstanding target of Israeli wrath whom we are actively alienating, Syria is more use to the United States as a friend than an enemy. Which war are we fighting?

On September 16, 2003, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution asking Israel to desist from its threat to deport Yasser Arafat. Even American officials themselves recognize, off the record, that the resolution was reasonable and prudent, and that the increasingly wild pronouncements of Israel's present leadership, by restoring Arafat's standing in the Arab world, are a major impediment to peace. But the US blocked the resolution all the same, further undermining our credibility as an honest broker in the region. America's friends and allies around the world are no longer surprised at such actions, but they are saddened and disappointed all the same.


Israeli politicians have been actively contributing to their own difficulties for many years; why do we continue to aid and abet them in their mistakes? The US has tentatively sought in the past to pressure Israel by threatening to withhold from its annual aid package some of the money that goes to subsidizing West Bank settlers. But the last time this was attempted, during the Clinton administration, Jerusalem got around it by taking the money as "security expenditure." Washington went along with the subterfuge, and of $10 billion of American aid over four years, between 1993 and 1997, less than $775 million was kept back. The settlement program went ahead unimpeded. Now we don't even try to stop it.

The situation of Israel is not desperate, but it may be close to hopeless. Suicide bombers will never bring down the Israeli state, and the Palestinians have no other weapons. There are indeed Arab radicals who will not rest until every Jew is pushed into the Mediterranean, but they represent no strategic threat to Israel, and the Israeli military knows it. What sensible Israelis fear much more than Hamas or the al-Aqsa Brigade is the steady emergence of an Arab majority in "Greater Israel," and above all the erosion of the political culture and civic morale of their society. As the prominent Labor politician Avraham Burg recently wrote, "After two thousand years of struggle for survival, the reality of Israel is a colonial state, run by a corrupt clique which scorns and mocks law and civic morality."[1] Unless something changes, Israel in half a decade will be neither Jewish nor democratic.

This is where the US enters the picture. Israel's behavior has been a disaster for American foreign policy. With American support, Jerusalem has consistently and blatantly flouted UN resolutions requiring it to withdraw from land seized and occupied in war. Israel is the only Middle Eastern state known to possess genuine and lethal weapons of mass destruction. By turning a blind eye, the US has effectively scuttled its own increasingly frantic efforts to prevent such weapons from falling into the hands of other small and potentially belligerent states. Washington's unconditional support for Israel even in spite of (silent) misgivings is the main reason why most of the rest of the world no longer credits our good faith.


It is now tacitly conceded by those in a position to know that America's reasons for going to war in Iraq were not necessarily those advertised at the time.[2] For many in the current US administration, a major strategic consideration was the need to destabilize and then reconfigure the Middle East in a manner thought favorable to Israel. This story continues. We are now making belligerent noises toward Syria because Israeli intelligence has assured us that Iraqi weapons have been moved there—a claim for which there is no corroborating evidence from any other source. Syria backs Hezbollah and the Islamic Jihad: sworn foes of Israel, to be sure, but hardly a significant international threat. However, Damascus has hitherto been providing the US with critical data on al-Qaeda. Like Iran, another longstanding target of Israeli wrath whom we are actively alienating, Syria is more use to the United States as a friend than an enemy. Which war are we fighting?

On September 16, 2003, the US vetoed a UN Security Council resolution asking Israel to desist from its threat to deport Yasser Arafat. Even American officials themselves recognize, off the record, that the resolution was reasonable and prudent, and that the increasingly wild pronouncements of Israel's present leadership, by restoring Arafat's standing in the Arab world, are a major impediment to peace. But the US blocked the resolution all the same, further undermining our credibility as an honest broker in the region. America's friends and allies around the world are no longer surprised at such actions, but they are saddened and disappointed all the same.

Israeli politicians have been actively contributing to their own difficulties for many years; why do we continue to aid and abet them in their mistakes? The US has tentatively sought in the past to pressure Israel by threatening to withhold from its annual aid package some of the money that goes to subsidizing West Bank settlers. But the last time this was attempted, during the Clinton administration, Jerusalem got around it by taking the money as "security expenditure." Washington went along with the subterfuge, and of $10 billion of American aid over four years, between 1993 and 1997, less than $775 million was kept back. The settlement program went ahead unimpeded. Now we don't even try to stop it.


But the crisis in the Middle East won't go away. President Bush will probably be conspicuous by his absence from the fray for the coming year, having said just enough about the "road map" in June to placate Tony Blair. But sooner or later an American statesman is going to have to tell the truth to an Israeli prime minister and find a way to make him listen. Israeli liberals and moderate Palestinians have for two decades been thanklessly insisting that the only hope was for Israel to dismantle nearly all the settlements and return to the 1967 borders, in exchange for real Arab recognition of those frontiers and a stable, terrorist-free Palestinian state underwritten (and constrained) by Western and international agencies. This is still the conventional consensus, and it was once a just and possible solution.

But I suspect that we are already too late for that. There are too many settlements, too many Jewish settlers, and too many Palestinians, and they all live together, albeit separated by barbed wire and pass laws. Whatever the "road map" says, the real map is the one on the ground, and that, as Israelis say, reflects facts. It may be that over a quarter of a million heavily armed and subsidized Jewish settlers would leave Arab Palestine voluntarily; but no one I know believes it will happen. Many of those settlers will die—and kill—rather than move. The last Israeli politician to shoot Jews in pursuit of state policy was David Ben-Gurion, who forcibly disarmed Begin's illegal Irgun militia in 1948 and integrated it into the new Israel Defense Forces. Ariel Sharon is not Ben-Gurion.[3]

The time has come to think the unthinkable. The two-state solution—the core of the Oslo process and the present "road map"—is probably already doomed. With every passing year we are postponing an inevitable, harder choice that only the far right and far left have so far acknowledged, each for its own reasons. The true alternative facing the Middle East in coming years will be between an ethnically cleansed Greater Israel and a single, integrated, binational state of Jews and Arabs, Israelis and Palestinians. That is indeed how the hard-liners in Sharon's cabinet see the choice; and that is why they anticipate the removal of the Arabs as the ineluctable condition for the survival of a Jewish state.


But what if there were no place in the world today for a "Jewish state"? What if the binational solution were not just increasingly likely, but actually a desirable outcome? It is not such a very odd thought. Most of the readers of this essay live in pluralist states which have long since become multiethnic and multicultural. "Christian Europe," pace M. Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, is a dead letter; Western civilization today is a patchwork of colors and religions and languages, of Christians, Jews, Muslims, Arabs, Indians, and many others—as any visitor to London or Paris or Geneva will know.[4]

Israel itself is a multicultural society in all but name; yet it remains distinctive among democratic states in its resort to ethnoreligious criteria with which to denominate and rank its citizens. It is an oddity among modern nations not—as its more paranoid supporters assert—because it is a Jewish state and no one wants the Jews to have a state; but because it is a Jewish state in which one community—Jews—is set above  others,  in an age when that sort of state has no place.

For many years, Israel had a special meaning for the Jewish people. After 1948 it took in hundreds of thousands of helpless survivors who had nowhere else to go; without Israel their condition would have been desperate in the extreme. Israel needed Jews, and Jews needed Israel. The circumstances of its birth have thus bound Israel's identity inextricably to the Shoah, the German project to exterminate the Jews of Europe. As a result, all criticism of Israel is drawn ineluctably back to the memory of that project, something that Israel's American apologists are shamefully quick to exploit. To find fault with the Jewish state is to think ill of Jews; even to imagine an alternative configuration in the Middle East is to indulge the moral equivalent of genocide.


In the years after World War II, those many millions of Jews who did not live in Israel were often reassured by its very existence—whether they thought of it as an insurance policy against renascent anti-Semitism or simply a reminder to the world that Jews could and would fight back. Before there was a Jewish state, Jewish minorities in Christian societies would peer anxiously over their shoulders and keep a low profile; since 1948, they could walk tall. But in recent years, the situation has tragically reversed.

Today, non-Israeli Jews feel themselves once again exposed to criticism and vulnerable to attack for things they didn't do. But this time it is a Jewish state, not a Christian one, which is holding them hostage for its own actions. Diaspora Jews cannot influence Israeli policies, but they are implicitly identified with them, not least by Israel's own insistent claims upon their allegiance. The behavior of a self-described Jewish state affects the way everyone else looks at Jews. The increased incidence of attacks on Jews in Europe and elsewhere is primarily attributable to misdirected efforts, often by young Muslims, to get back at Israel. The depressing truth is that Israel's current behavior is not just bad for America, though it surely is. It is not even just bad for Israel itself, as many Israelis silently acknowledge. The depressing truth is that Israel today is bad for the Jews.

In a world where nations and peoples increasingly intermingle and intermarry at will; where cultural and national impediments to communication have all but collapsed; where more and more of us have multiple elective identities and would feel falsely constrained if we had to answer to just one of them; in such a world Israel is truly an anachronism. And not just an anachronism but a dysfunctional one. In today's "clash of cultures" between open, pluralist democracies and belligerently intolerant, faith-driven ethno-states, Israel actually risks falling into the wrong camp.


To convert Israel from a Jewish state to a binational one would not be easy, though not quite as impossible as it sounds: the process has already begun de facto. But it would cause far less disruption to most Jews and Arabs than its religious and nationalist foes will claim. In any case, no one I know of has a better idea: anyone who genuinely supposes that the controversial electronic fence now being built will resolve matters has missed the last fifty years of history. The "fence"—actually an armored zone of ditches, fences, sensors, dirt roads (for tracking footprints), and a wall up to twenty-eight feet tall in places—occupies, divides, and steals Arab farmland; it will destroy villages, livelihoods, and whatever remains of Arab-Jewish community. It costs approximately $1 million per mile and will bring nothing but humiliation and discomfort to both sides. Like the Berlin Wall, it confirms the moral and institutional bankruptcy of the regime it is intended to protect.

A binational state in the Middle East would require a brave and relentlessly engaged American leadership. The security of Jews and Arabs alike would need to be guaranteed by international force—though a legitimately constituted binational state would find it much easier policing militants of all kinds inside its borders than when they are free to infiltrate them from outside and can appeal to an angry, excluded constituency on both sides of the border.[5] A binational state in the Middle East would require the emergence, among Jews and Arabs alike, of a new political class. The very idea is an unpromising mix of realism and utopia, hardly an auspicious place to begin. But the alternatives are far, far worse."

September 25, 2003

(1) See Burg's essay, "La révolution sioniste est morte," Le Monde, September 11, 2003. A former head of the Jewish Agency, the writer was speaker of the Knesset, Israel's Parliament, between 1999 and 2003 and is currently a Labor Party member of the Knesset. His essay first appeared in the Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot; it has been widely republished, notably in the Forward (August 29, 2003) and the London Guardian (September 15, 2003).

(2) See the interview with Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz in the July 2003 issue of Vanity Fair.

(3) In 1979, following the peace agreement with Anwar Sadat, Prime Minister Begin and Defense Minister Sharon did indeed instruct the army to close down Jewish settlements in the territory belonging to Egypt. The angry resistance of some of the settlers was overcome with force, though no one was killed. But then the army was facing three thousand extremists, not a quarter of a million, and the land in question was the Sinai Desert, not "biblical Samaria and Judea."

(4) Albanians in Italy, Arabs and black Africans in France, Asians in England all continue to encounter hostility. A minority of voters in France, or Belgium, or even Denmark and Norway, support political parties whose hostility to "immigration" is sometimes their only platform. But compared with thirty years ago, Europe is a multicolored patchwork of equal citizens, and that, without question, is the shape of its future.

(5) As Burg notes, Israel's current policies are the terrorists' best recruiting tool: "We are indifferent to the fate of Palestinian children, hungry and humiliated; so why are we surprised when they blow us up in our restaurants? Even if we killed 1000 terrorists a day it would change nothing." See Burg, "La révolution sioniste est morte."


WHAT IS LIVING AND WHAT IS DEAD IN SOCIAL DEMOCRACY





Posted at 07:05 pm by deadringer
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1.10.2010
BLOOD SUCKING THE POOR TO MAKE BILLIONS


Cerberus

Literally sucking the blood out of poor people at the border and paying them a pittance in order to make billions.  If this were an isolated case it would be one thing,  but it is a systemic issue of corporate plundering,  with the full support of our government.  These corporations are everywhere,  if they are not plundering the poor they are in line for their corporate welfare checks for your money,  anything to divest the little the people have to fatten their coffers. 

By Mark Ames, AlterNet

"Wall Street vampires. Lately, a lot of Americans, including myself, have used the bloodsucking monsters as a metaphor to describe the Wall Street billionaires who rule us, and who are ruining us. Like so many awful stories of the past few years, it turns out that these Wall Street vampire-billionaires really exist, literally. Like all vampires, they live in remote castles, and they feed themselves by luring poor, desperate humans into their dens, hooking them into blood-pumping machines and sucking out their plasma for mind-boggling profits.



Cerberus Capital, one of Wall Street's most notoriously ruthless leveraged-buyout firms (or "private equity firms" in PC-speak), recently made a $1.8 billion killing on its human plasma investment, a company called Talecris. Talecris was purchased for a mere $82.5 million just four years earlier, meaning Cerberus made 23 times its investment on human plasma. This was accomplished by the most savage, heartless means possible: by paying peanuts to impoverished human plasma donors, who increasingly come from Mexican border towns to blood-pumping stations set up on the American side, jacking up the price of plasma by restricting supply (a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission accused Cerberus Plasma Holdings of "operat[ing] as an oligopoly"), and then selling the refined products to the most desperately ill—patients suffering from hemophilia, severe burns, multiple sclerosis and autoimmune deficiencies. The products cost so much—one, IVIG (intravenous immunoglobulin) cost twice the price of gold as of last summer—that American health insurance companies have been dropping or denying their policyholders in increasing numbers, endangering untold numbers of people.

Tomas Asher, chairman of a company that trades in plasma, described the business this way: "It's like selling hog bellies or wheat or beef. It gets sold all over."



Profiting from ruined American lives is nothing new to Cerberus. (The company takes its name from the legendary three-headed attack dog of Greek legend who guards the gates of Hell, making sure no condemned soul ever escapes. How appropriate.) Cerberus is the same shady fund that bought Chrysler and GMAC in 2007 and drove them into the ground, blamed everything on unions (even after firing 30,000 Chrysler employees), and dumped the companies onto American taxpayers—but only after lining up tens of billions in taxpayer-funded bailout funds. Cerberus is led by some of the most aggressive "free market" Republicans of our time. The chairman of Cerberus is former Treasury Secretary John Snow, who oversaw the destruction of America's economy while serving under Bush from 2003 to 2006, bragging during his tenure, "We are the envy of the world."

Snow bragged again in 2007 after Cerberus acquired Chrysler, "Over 25 years ago, when Chrysler faced bankruptcy, it turned to the United States government for assistance. Today, Chrysler again faces new financial challenges. But it is private investment stepping in to inject much-needed support." A year later, Snow was running around Washington begging and screaming for government handouts.



Joining Snow as international chairman for Cerberus is former Republican Vice President Dan Quayle, the pampered imbecile who couldn't spell "potato" correctly. Two more perfect vampires couldn't have been invented than Quayle and Snow for the America of the Bush Era—peanut-brained, sleazy jerks.

The top vampire in Cerberus is the fund's founder, billionaire Stephen Feinberg, a major Republican Party campaign donor with a hardcore fetish for Harleys and big guns. Supposedly Feinberg was very uncomfortable with taking all those socialism-esque billions from American taxpayers. The New York Times described him as "a longtime free-market enthusiast and a Republican who never envisioned himself needing the government for help."

What Feinberg did envision was callously taking control of Chrysler, stripping it down and making a killing off of it, as he coldly noted in an early 2008 memo to his investors: "We do not need to be heroes to earn a good return on the investment in Chrysler," he wrote. "We do not need to transition the car industry or even to return Chrysler to a much stronger relative position in the U.S. car market in order to be successful."


After Feinberg siphoned away billions of taxpayer dollars to pay off his bad investments, he told reporters, "From the day we bought it, we worked hard to improve it." Patriotism, not profit, he bleated: "I love this country. I feel it's been great to me. I had a great chance."



To understand how Cerberus has profited from human blood and misery, here's some background: the United States is one of just a handful of nations around the world where companies can legally pay humans for their blood and then sell it for a profit. Human plasma is a particularly valuable component of human blood—it's harder to extract, and can be used to manufacture all sorts of expensive therapeutic products. The market for human plasma products has swelled from just $2 billion in 1988 to over $12 billion per year, and according to a recent Morgan Stanley report, it's a fast-growing business.

Despite all the billions that Wall Street's vampires earn from plasma, the hapless humans whose veins they milk make barely a pittance—$30 dollars or so for spending an hour hooked up to a pumping machine that sucks the blood, sifts out the valuable plasma through a cold-filtering process and reverse-pumps the debased, icy blood back into the plasma donor's veins.

It's such a miserable way to make cash that Cerberus and its fellow oligopolists have resorted to setting up plasma-sucking franchises along the U.S.-Mexico border, which have mushroomed like Starbucks Coffee did in the '90s. In the latter part of 2009 alone, Cerberus-owned Talecris opened four new plasma-milking factories, plastering the Mexican side of the border with advertisements promising easy cash, and parking special plasma-farm buses on the American side of the border to haul their human cargo to those milking dens not within walking distance of the Rio Grande.


WHAT CROSSES THE BORDER?

Last summer, a newspaper reporter followed an unemployed 46-year-old Mexican manager from his border town to the pumping station in Brownsville, Texas, which has the highest poverty rate of any city in America:

"After entering the United States, Castillo didn't have to walk far to sell his plasma. A few hundred feet up International Boulevard from the border, the IBR Plasma building sits on Washington Street, across from a Duty Free shop. The plasma centre still looks very much like the bulk second-hand clothing store it used to be, though long white vertical blinds now hide what goes on behind its windows. Inside, the waiting room is divided into two sections marked by sheets of paper taped to the wall: one for 'new donors' and another for 'return donors.' This was Castillo's first visit, which meant he could make $30—about 400 Mexican pesos. Signs in Spanish and English offered an additional $10 to those who recruited other donors.

"Castillo lay in the big soft chair, he said, while they inserted the needle and his blood started pumping out. It was cycled into a machine that spun the red cells from the liquid, as if squeezing whey from curds. The whey, the watery plasma, was stored in a big plastic bag, while the red blood cells were periodically reinjected into his arm. While he laid there, he later told me, he wondered about what his plasma was really worth—and where it would end up. Castillo is an educated man with a degree in business administration; before coming to Brownsville he had done some research and found, among other things, that in Mexico donating plasma for money is illegal—as is the case in much of the rest of the world."



You might think that America would be ashamed of being the world's top vampire nation. But actually, to the faux-market freaks like Cerberus Capital's honchos, it just means locking in profits and locking out competition. Thomas Hecht, who heads a plasma products distribution company in Montreal, quipped: "The U.S. is the OPEC of the plasma business. You know what that stands for: the Organization of Plasma Exporting Countries."

But Cerberus is more than just about sucking people's blood and government handouts. Stephen Feinberg also loves killing deer. In fact he loves shooting deer so much that, like the old Gillette commercial, he bought America's guns 'n' ammo industry. Two years ago, Cerberus bought Remington, America's oldest firearms manufacturer, and since then they've snapped up companies making everything from bullets to silencers, which they're combining into a new firearms monolith called Freedom Group. The free-marketeers at Cerberus are all about freedom.



Luckily for Cerberus, weapons are "flying off the store shelves," thanks to all the paranoia about Obama "socialism," fed by all the bailout money that rightwing billionaires like Cerberus have looted. Sales have also been boosted by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—in other words, more government handouts for the billionaires, now that they own the guns 'n' ammo business. It's all going so well that Cerberus is planning a huge IPO this year for Freedom Group, which should net another massive payout.

So Cerberus profits on both ends: from the bailouts, and from the backlash against bailouts; from the wars against Muslim terrorists, and from the paranoia back home about an alleged socialist-Muslim-terrorist president.

Either way, the vampires have us where they want us."

ALTERNET - ORIGINAL STORY

21ST CENTURY CORPORATIONS

IMPROVE YOUR LIFE WITH BIO-CORPORATIONS

WHAT IS A SOCIOPATH?

WORLD TOLL

DO AS WE SAY

FUCK AUTHORITY

WHEN WILL YOU DIE?

ALIVE BY OPPRESSION

A WORLD OF NEW NOISE

THE SYSTEM

"Civil government, so far as it is instituted for the security of property, is, in reality, instituted for the defense of the rich against the poor, or of those who have property against those who have none at all."

~ Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations

THE DEADEST SYSTEM

"Money replaces bliss as we wait for death's french kiss. Class not prejudice is our real nemesis. When the shit hit, get your throat slit quick, ya rich piece of shit, living for your own benefit. Playing liberal, bullshit hypocrite, I'll drop you on the street like cop horse shit."
~ Zearle, Deadest System

BUSTING CHAINS


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Posted at 12:04 pm by deadringer
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