Near Nahal Oz, Israel -- The Israeli "all-out war" on Gaza has entered its fourth day leaving more than 363 dead and 1,800 wounded. Israeli troop movements on the Gaza border point to an imminent ground battle in the upcoming few days. On Monday, the Israeli military declared the Gaza border, where tanks, artillery and troops are massing for a possible ground offensive, a closed military zone.
Reporters are being barred by Israel from going into Gaza to cover the carnage. Many have been relegated to reporting from behind Israel's declared military zone, some report from Jerusalem or Tel Aviv and rely on phone dispatches by stringers in the Gaza Strip. The best television coverage I've seen so far comes from Al Jazeera; the most provocative comes from Hezbollah's Al Manar. The Israeli coverage on IBA TV and Ch 10 reminds me of FOX News during the Iraq War with a focus on military strategies, graphics and interviews, with Israeli government spokesmen and generals.
At Beit Agron, the Israeli Government Press Office has not yet issued my "visiting journalist credentials." I went there in person three days ago, thinking they would be processed and delivered to me the same day. As I waited, a steady stream of international reporters applied for and received theirs. The press office liaison hands a British journalist his credentials and smiles, "don't forget to report that we were first attacked by Qassam rockets; they're hitting us we're not hitting them." The office wall is adorned with rockets fired by Hamas on the Israeli town of Sderot. A Korean journalist poses in front of them and does a "stand-up." The polite but evasive liaison keeps making excuses for the delay in issuing my press card. He keeps uncovering additional material that is missing in order to complete my application. He finally tells me that he won't have an answer for me until the next day... I won't bore you with the details, but I am Palestinian American.
I've been zigzagging my way between Israel and the West Bank to avoid IDF checkpoints. When we enter the Palestinian territories where emotions ran high, my Palestinian driver almost has a fit when he finds out that my cameraman is an Israeli. The Israeli strikes on Gaza are being broadcast in grisly detail almost continually on Arab satellite networks. In Bethlehem, an angry mob attacks the fortified Rachel Tomb Compound with stones and set tires on fire, but they are quickly dispersed by the Palestinian Authority riot police. Most West Bank towns have demonstrations and riots, and the Palestinian Authority forces keep them under control while Israeli soldiers watch and fire tear gas from a distance.
"Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is a Zionist dog," screams a demonstrator in Hebron.
Many demonstrators are angry with Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas. They are blaming him of collusion with Israel. They are also angry with Egypt for not opening Rafah's border crossing to let in desperately needed medical supplies and food, which have been all but depleted by the ongoing siege on Gaza.
Two miles away from the Gaza border is the Israeli soldiers' staging area, and foreign journalists gather in anticipation as if it is minutes before the start of the Super Bowl or the start of the Olympics. No one talks about the death and destruction that will follow. IDF spokesmen keep saying that a ground force invasion was a distinct possibility but had not yet been decided upon. As I write helicopters hover overhead, their sound reminds me of a scene from Apocalypse Now.Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic Intelligence Report on Link TV
By BOB HERBERT, The New York Times
I’ve got a new year’s resolution and a new slogan for the country. The resolution may be difficult, but it’s essential. Americans must resolve to be smarter going forward than we have been for the past several years.
Look around you. We have behaved in ways that were incredibly, astonishingly and embarrassingly stupid for much too long. We’ve wrecked the economy and mortgaged the future of generations yet unborn. We don’t even know if we’ll have an automobile industry in the coming years. It’s time to stop the self-destruction.
The slogan? “Invest in the U.S.” By that I mean we should stop squandering the nation’s wealth on unnecessary warfare overseas and mindless consumption here at home and start making sensible investments in the well-being of the American people and the long-term health of the economy.
The mind-boggling stupidity that we’ve indulged in was hammered home by a comment almost casually delivered by, of all people, Bernie Madoff, the mild-mannered creator of what appears to have been a nuclear-powered Ponzi scheme. Madoff summed up his activities with devastating simplicity. He is said to have told the F.B.I. that he “paid investors with money that wasn’t there.”
Somehow, over the past few decades, that has become the American way: to pay for things — from wars to Wall Street bonuses to flat-screen TVs to video games — with money that wasn’t there.
Something for nothing became the order of the day. You want to invade Iraq? Convince yourself that oil revenues out of Baghdad will pay for it. (Meanwhile, carve out another deficit channel in the federal budget.) You want to pump up profits in the financial sector? End the oversight and let the lunatics in the asylum run wild.
For those who wanted a bigger house in a nicer neighborhood, there were mortgages with absurdly easy terms. Credit-card offers came in the mail like confetti, and we used them like there was no tomorrow. For students stunned by the skyrocketing cost of tuition, there were college loans that could last a lifetime.
Money that wasn’t there.
Plenty of people managed their credit wisely. But much of the country, including many of the top government officials and financial titans who were supposed to be guarding the nation’s wealth, acted as if there would never be a day of reckoning, a day when — inevitably — the soaring markets would crash and the bubbles explode.
We were stupid in so many ways. We shipped American jobs overseas by the millions and came up with the fiction that this was a good deal for just about everybody. We could have and should have taken the time and made the effort to think globalization through, to be smarter about it and craft ways to cushion its more harmful effects and to share its benefits more equitably.
We bought into the dopey idea that you could radically cut taxes and still maintain critical government services — and fight two wars to boot!
We were living in a dream world. The general public, and to a great extent the press, closed its eyes to the increasingly complex and baffling machinations of the financial industry, which kept screaming that oversight would ruin everything.
We should have known better. It didn’t require a genius (or even an economics degree) to understand a crucial point that popped up some years ago in a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal: “Markets are a great way to organize economic activity, but they need adult supervision.”
Did Alan Greenspan not understand that? Bob Rubin? Larry Summers?
Now that the reality of a stunning economic downturn has so roughly intervened, we at least have the option of being smarter going forward. There is broad agreement that we have no choice but to go much more deeply into debt to jump-start the economy. But we have tremendous choices as to how we use that debt.
We should use it to invest in the U.S. — in a world-class infrastructure (in its broadest sense) to serve as the platform for a world-class, 21st-century economy, and in a system of education that actually prepares American youngsters to deal successfully with the real world they will be encountering.
We need to invest in a health care system that improves the quality of American lives, enhances productivity, puts large numbers of additional people to work and eases the competitive burden of U.S. corporations.
We need to care for our environment (if long-term survival means anything to us) and get serious about weaning ourselves from foreign oil.
And, finally, we need to start living within our means and get past the nauseating idea that the essence of our culture and the be-all and end-all of the American economy is the limitless consumption of trashy consumer goods.
It’s time to stop being stupid.
Warning: Graphic Raw Footage
from SOUTH PARK
Earlier this week, A.C. Thompson of The Nation revealed that after Hurricane Katrina, white vigilante groups patrolled New Orleans, blockaded streets, and shot at least eleven black men. It “was like pheasant season in South Dakota. If it moved, you shot it,” said one vigilante. Color of Change is organizing a campaign to tell Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R) and state officials to investigate the shootings, as “Louisiana’s broken law enforcement agencies have refused to investigate these crimes.” Watch Thompson’s video on his report:
Unless things change fast, human history will show that the phenomenon of "retirement" was limited to one generation. After World War II, when European and Japanese economies stood in tatters, American capitalism could fulfill "the American dream," since there was little foreign competition to speak of. For the first time ever, workers were promised that -- after working thirty or so years -- they would be able to securely retire. That was largely the case ... for one generation.
The second generation is having a devastating reality check. 2008 was supposed to be a watershed year for retirement: it was the first year that the baby-boomers turned 62, and the retirement frenzy was to begin (since people could begin to draw on their social security benefits). Early in the year, however, a study was conducted that found one-fourth of these boomers were delaying retirement (only the baby-boomers who were actually able to plan for retirement were studied). The economy has since nosedived, and many more retirements are being delayed. The unfortunate reality is that many who planned on retiring will work until the grave, joining the millions of other baby-boomers who never had such dreams.
The experts are calling this the "perfect storm" for retirement. Everything that could go wrong is in fact going wrong. This storm, however, was not created by supernatural forces, but the coordinated effort of big-business and their puppet politicians.
The deliberate destruction of the pension and its replacement by the 401(k) was, of course, a giant step towards attacking retirement; but now that the economic crisis has emerged, we're beginning to see just how ruinous the effects are.
At the end of September, just as the crisis was beginning to gain steam, it was discovered that in the previous year the value of stocks in 401(k) accounts had fallen by nearly $2 trillion! Much more has been lost since then. This is especially devastating since almost one-third of 401(k) participants in their 60s had 80 percent of their money in stocks (pension funds have been similarly destroyed).CLICK TO CONTINUE
Al Jazeera reports:
Evo Morales, the Bolivian president, has said that all
Latin American nations should expel US ambassadors in their country's until the American economic embargo against Cuba is ended.
Speaking on Wednesday at the end of a two-day summit of Latin American leaders in Brazil, Morales said it would be a "radical move" to express "solidarity" with the Caribbean nation."If the United States does not raise the blockade, we will remove our ambassadors until the United States government lifts its economic blockade on the Cuban people," he said.
Morales expelled the US ambassador to Bolivia in September, accusing him of siding with violent opposition protests. Both Morales and Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan leader, have expressed hope that Barack Obama, the US president-elect, will remove the embargo on Cuba.
On Tuesday, leaders attending the Mercosur summit in the resort town of Costa Do Sauipe also issued a special statement demanding an end to the US sanctions which have been imposed on Cuba since 1962. The regional meeting, aimed at solidifying South American unity, includes senior officials from 33 countries including Raul Castro, the Cuban president, on his first foreign tour abroad.
Raul Castro said he was in 'no hurry' to mend US diplomatic relations. Speaking on Tuesday, Raul Castro, the Cuban president, said that leaders at the Mercosur summit had supported a request to demand the US "cease this illegal and unjust political violation of the human rights of our people". Castro said in his speech to the other leaders that regional integration was needed in Latin America to help it advance against what he said was the failure of US-backed policies. Castro, 77, took over as Cuban leader from his brother, Fidel, in February.
The summit is the largest in the Western hemisphere to exclude US representation and has been hailed as a sign that Latin America is demanding a new independence from Washington.
"The presence of Cuba is a very strong signal that America is no longer the boss in Latin America," Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan president, said as he arrived.
On Monday, Castro told Al Jazeera that the US must make concessions first if the two countries are ever to restore diplomatic ties severed for more than 40 years.
Reports say Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, the Brazilian president, could mediate between Washington and Havana.
Castro, said the "era of unilateral concessions was over", and insisted that Cuba had only ever defended itself against the US. "We have never hurt the United States, we have only defended ourselves. We are the ones who have been hurt so we are not the ones who have to make a gesture. Let them do it," he said on Monday.
The Cuban leader said he was in "no hurry" to mend diplomatic relations with the US, which were severed in 1961, following the overthrow of the US-backed government by Fidel's revolutionary movement. "More than 70 per cent of Cubans were born under the blockade which has been in place for almost 50 years," Castro said. "I'm 77-years old but I feel good and young. In other words, if this doesn't get resolved now, we'll wait another 50 years."
It's tiresome to need to point this out at this late date but, yes, George W. Bush and his administration misled the country while making the case for war with Iraq and, remarkably, are still trying to mislead people about it. In a Dec. 1 interview with ABC News' Charlie Gibson, Bush said that "the biggest regret" of his presidency was "the intelligence failure in Iraq."
In other words, his biggest regret wasn't regret over anything he did but rather regret over something that was done to him, a vague "intelligence failure" rather than a misguided decision to invade another country. Bush explained that "a lot of people put their reputations on the line and said the weapons of mass destruction is a reason to remove Saddam Hussein. It wasn't just people in my administration; a lot of members in Congress, prior to my arrival in Washington, D.C., during the debate on Iraq, a lot of leaders of nations around the world were all looking at the same intelligence."
This is, even by Bush standards, a pretty breathtaking revision of history. In fact, very few members of Congress looked at the intelligence -- Thomas Ricks reports in his book Fiasco that just five read the classified version of the National Intelligence Estimate on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction capabilities. But had more members taken the time, they would have found what Spencer Ackerman and John Judis reported back in June of 2003 -- that the Bush administration removed a number of caveats and contrary pieces of evidence from the classified version of the estimate when producing a shorter, unclassified version for public consumption. More curious investigators might have been further interested in the fact, reported in the same piece, that even the more accurate classified version represented a dramatic change in the intelligence community's assessment of the Iraq situation. As Judis and Ackerman observe, when George Tenet offered his January 2002 review of nuclear proliferation issues "he did not even mention a nuclear threat from Iraq." CLICK TO CONTINUE
By Jeremy Brecher, Tim Costello and Brendan Smith, truthout.org
As Americans respond to President-elect Obama's call for town hall meetings on reform of the American health care system, an understanding of how that system came to be the way it is can be crucial for figuring out how to fix it. The American health care system is unique because, for most of us, it is tied to our jobs rather than to our government. For many Americans, the system seems natural, but few know that it originated not as a well-thought-out plan to provide for Americans' health, but as a way to circumvent a quirk in wartime wage regulations that had nothing to do with health.
As far back as the 1920's, a few big employers had offered health insurance plans to some of their workers. But only a few: By 1935, only about two million people were covered by private health insurance, and on the eve of World War II, there were only 48 job-based health plans in the entire country.
The rise of unions in the 1930's and 1940's led to the first great expansion of health care for Americans. But ironically, it did not produce a national plan providing health care to all, like those in virtually all other developed countries. Instead, the special conditions of World War II produced the system of job-based health benefits we know today.
In 1942, the US set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering "fringe benefits" - notably, health insurance. The fringe benefits created a huge tax subsidy; they were treated as tax-deductible expenses for corporations, but not as taxable income for workers.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers start building only cars and mass transit that reduce our dependency on oil.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers build cars that reduce global warming.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the automakers withdraw their many lawsuits against state governments in their attempts to not comply with our environmental laws.
They could have given the loan on the condition that the management team which drove these once-great manufacturers into the ground resign and be replaced with a team who understands the transportation needs of the 21st century.
Yes, they could have given the loan for any of these reasons because, in the end, to lose our manufacturing infrastructure and throw 3 million people out of work would be a catastrophe.
But instead, the Senate said, we'll give you the loan only if the factory workers take a $20 an hour cut in wages, pension and health care. That's right. After giving billions to Wall Street hucksters and criminal investment bankers -- billions with no strings attached and, as we have since learned, no oversight whatsoever -- the Senate decided it is more important to break a union, more important to throw middle class wage earners into the ranks of the working poor than to prevent the total collapse of industrial America.
We have a little more than a month to go of this madness. As I sit here in Michigan today, tens of thousands of hard working, honest, decent Americans do not believe they can make it to January 20th. The malaise here is astounding. Why must they suffer because of the mistakes of every CEO from Roger Smith to Rick Wagoner? Make management and the boards of directors and the shareholders pay for this.
Of course that is heresy to the 31 Republicans who decided to blame the poor, miserable autoworkers for this mess. And our wonderful media complied with their spin on the morning news shows: "UAW Refuses to Give Concessions Killing Auto Bailout Bill." In fact the UAW has given concession after concession, reduced their benefits, agreed to get rid of the Jobs Bank and agreed to make it harder for their retirees to live from week to week. Yes! That's what we need to do! It's the Jobs Bank and the old people who have led the nation to economic ruin!
But even doing all that wasn't enough to satisfy the bastard Republicans. These Senate vampires wanted blood. Blue collar blood. You see, they weren't opposed to the bailout because they believed in the free market or capitalism. No, they were opposed to the bailout because they're opposed to workers making a decent wage. In their rage, they were driven to destroy the backbone of this country, not because the UAW hadn't given back enough, but because the UAW hadn't given up.
It appears that the sitting President has been looking for a way to end his reign by one magnanimous act, just like a warlord on his feast day. He will put his finger in the dyke, and the fragile mess of an auto industry will eke through the next few months.
That will give the Senate enough time to demand that the bankers and investment sharks who've already swiped nearly half of the $700 billion gift a chance to make the offer of cutting their pay.
by RANDI RHODES .therandirhodesshow.com
Ahead of the beginning of a new Presidency which seemed imminent way back in 2007, Republicans began preparations for the ultimate destruction of America. “If we can’t have it then the Democrats can’t either”. A scorched Earth policy was put into play.
Treating America as if it were about to be conquered by enemy invaders, Republicans destroyed the factories, plundered the Treasury and broke the backs of the people. It’s what conquered Armies do to prevent their enemies from having any resources once the invaders are at the gates ready to breach the checkpoints and occupy the city. Our new President will take over in a time of war. Economic WAR.
Southern Senators would rather let Foreigners take over our country rather than turn over anything useful to a Democratic President. The South is at War with the rest of the US. The South is the only region of the US where Republicans still retain power and they fully intend to wage their war from there with the aid of their Foreign Allies.
Ladies and Gentlemen, prepare to fight them HERE after all. Foreign companies and Southern Republican Senators are at war with the United States from within the United States. The South is Central Command for their side. Everywhere else is a battleground to be scorched and pillaged.
A slavish, unhinged contempt for organized labor, perhaps a mindset dating back to days when 'labor' was called 'slavery', and thus meant by Providence to be owned by Property Owners or CREAL” Americans, is worth fighting for. The bad old days of Southern Plantation Politics is back.
Southern Senators declared their loyalty to their foreign Armies last night. Pledged their Allegiance to their Axis and formed The Coalition of Willing foreign Bankers, Property Owners, and Manufacturing giants to attack the United States. Now comes recruitment. Disgruntled workers who are too hungry and broken to “work for America” will march in their Army against the American people.
It's ironic. Exactly 63 years after we beat back Fascism the Appeasers who have toiled on the “dark side” conspiring almost everyday to destroy the very means by which America won the greatest victory against the Axis, have begun the battle anew. This time we will have to fight it HERE.
Last night the South rose again with their Allied Foreign Forces and destroyed the last great thing of value we had: American Manufacturing! In one fell swoop, Richard Shelby, Bob Corker and a host of Southern Republican Senators have won World War II for Germany & Japan. And they are refighting the Civil War, too.
Obama had better be one part FDR, one part Lincoln.
by G.R. Burke
YouPorn, the pornographic equivalent of YouTube, is making it possible for virtually anyone to expose their ugly rippley stankin' fat asses to the whole of humanity. Not only is it filling our screens with the deviant sexual acts of you and your neighbor it is also bringing the rest of the adult entertainment industry too it's knees. What’s happening to the adult-entertainment industry is exactly what’s happening to its Hollywood counterpart—only worse.
Let's face it no matter how bad the economy gets we will still need to get jerky. YouPorn offers a plathura of free porn videos without the threat of viruses(or STD's). No longer do you have to shuffle through those pesky FTP sites that are one click away from fucking your computer up like a double penetrated, anal creampie.(You know what I'm talkin about spanky.)
Just nine months after going live, in September 2006, YouPorn was on pace to log about 15 million unique visitors in May and its audience was growing at a rate of 37.5 percent a month. Today, YouPorn is the No. 1 adult site in the world. According to Alexa, a website-ranking company, YouPorn’s overall rank is higher than CNN.com (84), About.com (114), and Weather.com (195). (Those numbers are averages for the three-month period from mid-June to mid-September.)
THE STATE OF ILLINOIS SUSPENDS ALL BUSINESS WITH THE BANK OF AMERICA IN PROTEST FOR REFUSING TO EXTEND CREDIT TO STRUGGLING BUSINESSESPosted by Shana | 2:03 PM | news / politics | 3 comments »
The move is leverage to try to convince the North Carolina-based bank to use some of its federal bailout money to resolve the protest by about 200 workers at Republic Windows and Doors.
The company closed last week with just a few days' notice and the workers have promised to remain inside the factory in shifts until they get assurances they will receive their severance and vacation pay. The workers have received support from President-elect Barack Obama and come to symbolize the plight of thousands of people laid off as the economy sours. READ MORE
"How many times do you get Congressmen saying, “Well, I had to vote for the Patriot Act in order to get some other things done” or “At least I’m in there. It’s a means to an end.”? You’ve seen Obama do it in the campaign. What I hope happens, if Obama wins is that the movement he’s inspired, which is considerable, pushes him to take positions on certain things that he hasn’t in a very strong way or complete way in some areas in the campaign lately.
"Bobby Kennedy, ’68 before he got shot…We think of him as an anti-Vietnam War candidate. He wasn’t against the Vietnam War. It was the movement that he inspired that pricked his conscience and on a practical, political level forced him to take that position, which he knew was right. But, he didn’t feel it was politically expedient. It became politically expedient when this mass of people he inspired of all colors and ages and walks of life were saying, “We want out of Vietnam.” So, I’m hoping that…I think Obama’s got a lot of integrity, but I do think any elected official…that’s what it is. Participatory government needs to be kept honest.
"That’s the mistake we sometimes make in this country and probably other countries, too, where every four years or every two years, whatever, there’s an election. You do the “Whew, that’s done. We got the right guy in there. Now, we can relax.” And, that’s kind of like saying, “Yeah, we’ll let them take care of it.” No, we never can let them take care of it. That’s the point. And, you don’t have to be the PTA- or local politics-obsessive, crazy guy or woman in your community, but you can be involved on some level. At least read the paper, talk to your friends.
I paraphrase loosely:
- "Why should we give GM $17 billion when the whole company is worth 3 billion"
- "We should just buy the big three and nationalize them."
(I MEAN HARDBALL)
The Washington Post reports: The U.S. military expects to have 20,000 uniformed troops inside the United States by 2011 trained to help state and local officials respond to a nuclear terrorist attack or other domestic catastrophe, according to Pentagon officials.There are critics of the change, in the military and among civil liberties groups and libertarians who express concern that the new homeland emphasis threatens to strain the military and possibly undermine the Posse Comitatus Act, a 130-year-old federal law restricting the military's role in domestic law enforcement.Read Whole Article
In case your not sure what martial law is:
A bizarre reading of HR8791 Homeland Security Bill to congress just before it was passed in July:
You can suck my[CLASSIFIED] you [CLASSIFIED] piece of [CLASSIFIED] [CLASSIFIED] .