Afghan President Hamid Karzai has good reasons for trying to shut down US investigations into corruption in his government. The Afghan aristocracy has always run the nation's heroin trade. But it was the CIA that created it. In 1933 King Mohammed Zaher Shah took the throne in Afghanistan, ruling the country in feudalistic fashion until he was disposed by his cousin Mohammed Daoud in 1973. A handful of families, including the Karzais and the Kalilzidads owned nearly all arable land, while most Afghans languished amidst some of the planet's worst poverty. Finally, they'd had enough. In April 1978 King Daoud was killed in a revolution led by Nor Mohammed Taraki , who became President. Taraki embarked upon an ambitious land reform program to help poor Afghan sharecroppers who were traditionally forced to work the land owned by the king and his cronies. He built schools for women, who were banned from education under the monarchy. He opened Afghan universities to the poor and introduced free health care. When counter revolutionary bandits began to burn down universities and girl's schools, many Afghan's saw the hand of the CIA. By April 1979, a full seven months before the much ballyhooed Soviet "invasion" of Afghanistan, US officials were meeting with corrupt Afghan warlords and oligarchs bent on overthrowing Taraki. As the campaign of sabotage intensified, Kabul revolutionaries called on Soviet leader Leonid Brezynev to send troops to repel the bandits. Brezynev refused. The situation deteriorated. Pro Taraki militants, convinced of a CIA destabilization plot, assassinated CIA Kabul Chief of Station Spike Dubbs. On July 3, 1979 President Carter signed the first national security directive authorizing secret aid to Afghan warlords. National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski said later that he had convinced Carter that in his, "opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention." Brzezinski, who co founded the Trilateral Commission with David Rockefeller, was baiting the Soviets to invade Afghanistan. The embattled Taraki appointed Tabizullah Amin as cabinet minister in charge of land reform. Amin launched a brutal campaign of terror against political opponents, turning world opinion against the previously celebrated Taraki government.
Generally, it is a "given" that the West, America, Britain, France and Germany, are oblivious to any conflict involving Israel. When 15 civilians were killed by an American F 16, bombing a civilian neighborhood in Gaza, non Islamic leaders turned away, failing to offer what would normally be words of sympathy and respect. Their silence, the shame of it, is easy to understand. They have found themselves "in bed" with something unclean. Their silence, the shame of it, is easy to understand. They have found themselves "in bed" with something unclean. Their silence is de-facto recognition of a lie. Neither Gaza nor the West Bank or Golan Heights have been part of Israel, nor was Israel mandated by any recognized international authority as a "Jewish state." In fact, there is no established treaty that has ever outlined any of Israel's borders. If one is accepted as "law," the other should be equally considered. In 1917, Lord Balfour had no right to speak for the Ottoman Empire, the recognized government of Palestine, nor did he have authority to speak for the signatories of the Versailles Treaty two years into the future. Two documents, both of an earlier era, have exactly the same validity, the "Balfour Declaration" and the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion." Both documents are devoid of authentication, and though their historical impact has been immense, neither document was created by any recognized entity of standing. The Balfour "Agreement," between Lord Rothschild and one of his financial, gambling partners, truth be told, carried more authority than the promise to pay a gambling debt or an overdue bill from a "bawdy house." The legal political status of both the West Bank and Gaza are quite clear in accordance with international law. These are areas of temporary military occupation, limited by the UN to a matter to a matter of days as a result of the 1967 War. No treaty awarded the land to Israel and, at no time, has Israel formally annexed these territories.
History, it is said, arrives first as tragedy, then as farce. First as Karl Marx, then as the Marx Brothers. In the case of twenty first century America, history arrived first as George W Bush and Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith and the Project for a New America, a shadow government masquerading as a think tank, and an assorted crew of ambitious neocons and neo pundits. Only later did David Petraeus make it onto the scene. It couldn't be clearer now that, from the shirtless FBI agent to the embedded biographer and the other other woman, the fall of David Petraeus is playing out as farce of the first order. What's less obvious is that Petraeus, America's military golden boy and Caesar of celebrity, was always smoke and mirrors, always the farce, even if the denizens of Washington didn't know it. Until recently, here was the open secret to Petraeus's life: He may not have understood Iraqis or Afghans, but no military man in generations more intuitively grasped how to flatter and charm American reporters, pundits, and politicians into praising him. This was, after all, the general who got his first Newsweek cover ("Can This Man Save Iraq?") in 2004 while he was making a mess of a training program for Iraqi forces, and two more before that magazine, too, took the fall. In 2007, he was runner up to Vladimir Putin for Time's "Person of the Year." And long before Paula Broadwell's aptly named biography, All In, was published to hosannas from the usual elite crew, that was par for the course. You didn't need special insider's access to know that Broadwell wasn't the only one with whom the general did calisthenics. the FBI didn't need to investigate. Even before she came on the scene, scads of columnists, pundits, reporters, and politicians were in bed with him. Weirdly enough, many of them still are. Typical was NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams mournfully discussing the "painful" resignation of "Dave" "the most prominent and best known general of the modern era." Adoring media people treated him like the next military Messiah, a combination of Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and Ulysses S Grant rolled into one fabulous pinata.
We must demonstrate to the people and to the Taliban that Afghan and International Security Assistance Forces are here to safeguard the Afghan people that we are in this to win. That is our clear objective. General Petraeus, July 4, 2010. "Clearly, the security situation is improving, the number of enemy initiated attacks is decreasing and the vast majority of the Afghan population lives in areas where peace and stability has already been established." Spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), Brigadier General Gunter Katz, November 5, 2012. "Nearly half of Afghans think their country is not moving in the right direction, fear for their family for their family's safety, or are frightened to run into a member of their police or army, according to a nationwide poll." Guardian, UK November 14, 2012. Voutenay sur Cure, France. A week after the spokesman for foreign forces in Afghanistan made his ridiculous pronouncement about peace and stability, four rockets were fired into Kabul city, home to one of the world's most corrupt governments. Mercifully, only one person was killed, and there wasn't much damage, but the militants had made the point that they can continue attacks whenever and wherever they want. The amazing hi tech gadgets of all the foreign forces can do a bit to reduce the number and effectiveness of attacks all over the country, but the fact that a few thousand raggy baggy Taliban, or call the insurgents what you will, can even begin to take on such a massive war machine is astonishing. So far this month they have killed twelve US and British soldiers, who, all of them, have died for nothing, and the politicians and generals continue to feed us upbeat garbage about their lost war. Almost everyone has forgotten the Davis Report of January this year, in which one of the few honorable professional military commentators on the Afghanistan shambles made it clear that "Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and the American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan, that the truth has become unrecognizable. This deception has damaged America's credibility among both our allies and enemies, severely limiting our ability to reach a political solution to the war in Afghanistan."
To read the mainstream Western media, one would conclude that China has become an economic giant now intent on flexing its military muscle and making a massive arms buildup to do so. China's designated new President, Xi Jinping, has just won both the top Communist party post from predecessor Hu Jintao, as well as the head of the powerful Central Military Commission, giving Xi a full takeover of party and armed forces. A recent BBC analysis, in an article titled China extending military reach, is typical of Western media coverage of China's military program: China's first aircraft carrier will begin sea trials later this year. Late last year, the first pictures were leaked of the prototype of Beijing's new stealth fighter. And US military experts believe that China has begun to deploy the world's first long range ballistic missile capable of hitting a moving ship at sea. In Japan, nationalist politicians like politically ambitious Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara and Toru Hashimoto, the mayor of Osaka, are gaining popularity with anti China rhetoric, and by claiming Japan must develop capacities to oppose Chinese military ascendency. In May the authoritative New York Times ran an alarming story to the effect that China announced a double digit increase over the previous budget, far less than even the rate of inflation. However, when we examine in detail the actual redeployment and military moves of US Armed Forces in the Asia region following President Obama's announcement of a new Asia Pivot refocus of US military capacities from Western Europe to the Asia region, it becomes clear China is re-acting, in order to attempt to deal with quite real threats to its future sovereignty rather than acting in an aggressive posture. The mere fact that a standing President, Obama, during nationally televised Presidential debates labeled China as an adversary is indicative of the US military posture change. The depth and nature of the US pivot to China is crystal clear, when one takes a closer look at the recent developments in an Asian US Missile Defense deployment, clearly aimed at China and no other.
It's the biggest shopping season on the calendar, and retail companies are expecting hundreds of billions of dollars in sales. To meet this demand, retail pulls in around 600,000 seasonal workers on top of a workforce of 15 million. This massive work force is majority female and fairly diverse, people of color comprise about 30 percent of workers in the sector. It is also low paid. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the typical cashier makes just $18,500 per year for full time work. The nation's largest employer and largest employer of African Americans, Walmart, is engaged in a struggle to keep it that way. Right as we turn to these workers to provide assistance and advice during the holiday season, many retail employees are striking for basic respect, and they deserve it. A new paper by Demos shows that retail employers can afford to pay decent wages, and the benefits would feed back into the economy as higher GDP, more jobs, less poverty, and even higher retail sales. Women and people of color are disproportionately represented in the low wage, year round retail workforce, where almost 40 percent of workers are people of color, and 63 percent are female. These were also the populations hardest hit by the recession, with unemployment rates still topping 14 percent among African Americans, and at 10 percent for Latinos. Since retail is projected to have some of the greatest employment growth in the country over the coming decade, the quality of retail employment matters to the economy's traditionally vulnerable workers who may be compelled to take any job available, and have little recourse to bargain for fair treatment once that employment is secured. There is also plenty of reason for this to be cause for concern, beyond those households who depend on a retail paycheck. The fact is, low wages in the retail sector are not only holding back workers and their families. The study shows that a wage raise at large retail employers to the equivalent of $25,000 per year for a full time worker would lift 1.5 million workers and the family members they support out of poverty or near poverty.
One indication of moral progress in the United States would be the replacement of Thanksgiving Day and its self indulgent family feasting with a National Day of Atonement accompanied by a self reflective collective fasting. In fact, indigenous people have offered such a model. Since 1970, they have marked the fourth Thursday of November as a Day of Mourning in a spiritual/political ceremony on Coles Hill overlooking Plymouth Rock, Massachusetts, one of the early sites of the European invasion of the Americas. Not only is the thought of such a change in this white supremacist holiday impossible to imagine, but the very mention of the idea sends most Americans into apoplectic fits, which speaks volumes about our historical hypocrisy and its relation to the contemporary politics of empire in the United States. That the world's great powers achieved "greatness" through criminal brutality on a grand scale is not news, of course. That those same societies are reluctant to highlight this history of barbarism also is predictable. But in the United States, this reluctance to acknowledge our original sin, the genocide of indigenous people, is of special importance today. It's now routine, even among conservative commentators, to describe the United States as an empire, so long as everyone understands we are an inherently benevolent one. Because all of our history contradicts that claim, history must be twisted and tortured to serve the purposes of the powerful. One vehicle for taming history are various patriotic holidays, with Thanksgiving at the heart of US myth building. From an early age, we Americans hear a story about the hearty Pilgrims, whose search for freedom took them from England to Massachusetts. There, aided by the friendly Wampanoag Indians, they survived in a new and harsh environment, leading to a harvest feast in 1621, following the Pilgrims first winter. Some aspects of the conventional story are true enough. But it's also true that by 1637 Massachusetts Gov John Winthrop was proclaiming a thanksgiving for the successful massacre of hundreds of Pequot Indian men, women and children, part of the long and bloody process of opening up additional land to the English invaders.
The headline stories claim that CIA Director General David Petraeus resigned as head of the CIA because of an adulterous relation with his young biographer, and that General John Allen, Supreme Commander of US troops in Europe was on hold, because, we are told, of his inappropriate comments in the exchange of e-mails with a civilian friend. We are told that a hard charging local FBI agent, Frederick Humphries, Jr, had uncovered amorous e-mails sent by General Petraeus to his girlfriend biographer in the course of investigating a complaint of cyber stalking. Out of concern that the General's adulterous behavior posed a risk to US national security, Florida based FBI Agent Humphries handed the evidence over to one of Washington, DC's most powerful Republican, Congressman Eric Cantor, who in turn passed them on to the Director of the FBI, leading to Petraeus resignation. In other words, we are asked to believe that a single, low ranking, zealous FBI agent has toppled the careers of two top US Generals: One in charge of the principle global intelligence agency, the CIA, and the other in command of the US and allied combat forces in the principle theater of military engagement on the basis of infidelity and flirtatious banter! Nothing could be more far fetched simply on prima facie evidence. In the sphere of tight hierarchical organizations, like the military or the CIA, where the activity and behavior of subordinate functionaries is centrally directed and any investigation is subject to authorization by senior officials, most especially regarding prying into the private correspondences of the heads of the CIA and of strategic military operations, the idea that a lone agent might operate free lance is preposterous. A cowboy agent could not simply initiate investigation into such sensitive targets as the head of the CIA, and a General in an active combat zone without the highest level authorization or a network of political operatives with a much bigger agenda.
What does it take for a foreign corporation to get the corporate death penalty in America? That's a question we need to ask ourselves, after news broke of BP's legal settlement over its Gulf oil spill disaster in 2010. Eleven workers were killed when their oil rig exploded, and for three months five million barrels of toxic crude gushed in the Gulf of Mexico as BP, which never made contingency plans for this sort of obvious crisis, tried to find a way to plug the hole. That oil killed marine life, blanketed coastlines, and put Gulf Coast small businesses out of business. To this day, we still don't know the long term effects of this catastrophe on the ecosystem or our food chain, which is now contaminated with eyeless shrimp, claw-less crabs, and other oil mutated aquatic freak shows, not to mention the human cancers that will show up in future decades. Now, the foreign corporation responsible for all this, BP, will just cut a small check, and then go back to business as usual, punching holes in the Gulf. It pled guilty to 14 felony and misdemeanor charges and agreed to pay a $4.5 billion fine, the largest criminal fine in our nation's history. But for a corporation that just announced it earned $5.4 billion in three months, BP knows it got off easy. The organization Public Citizen notes, "Claims arising from the Gulf disaster, which killed 11 workers and did untold damage, put the company's liability at a minimum of $51.5 billion." That's more than ten times what BP will end up paying to settle. As part of the settlement, the government still reserves the right to charge two BP employees for manslaughter. It will likely be low level workers who'll have to take the fall for an entire corporation, and industry, that repeatedly ignored regulations and cut safety corners, just to maximize their quarterly profits, because of our two tiered justice system, rarely do corporate suits go to jail. Altogether, this settlement will do very little to change the corrupt scam oil barons are running on the American people. As a spokesperson for Public Citizen said, "We're stunned. This settlement is pathetic: The point of the criminal justice system is two fold: To punish and to deter. This does neither." It is a tragic irony that proves Public Citizen's point, news broke on Friday of another oilrig exploding off the coast of Louisiana. Early reports indicate two workers are dead, and another two workers are missing. Perhaps if our criminal justice system had taken swifter action against BP and followed through by banning the company from doing business in the United States, the entire industry might shape up. and maybe, a group of oilmen in Louisiana would still be alive today. Our nation has a long history with the corporate death penalty. Beginning in the early 1800's, laws were passed in several states to make it easier for legislators to revoke corporate charters, if businesses are operating against the public's interest, and this routinely happened. In Ohio, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, banks were shut down for being "financially unsound." In New York and Massachusetts, corporations that ran the turnpikes were given a corporate death sentence for not keeping the roads in good repair. By 1825, 20 states had amended their constitutions to make it easier for the state to "revoke, alter, or annul" corporate charters whenever a corporation may be injurious to citizens of the community." In just one year, 1832, 20 the state of Pennsylvania sentenced ten corporations to death, revoking their charters for "operating contrary to the public interest."
As Israel continues to pound the Gaza Strip, and factions within the beleaguered territory retaliate as best they can, there are many myths and stereotypes dominating mainstream media coverage, and many conversations. Here are a few of the most common misunderstandings: Myth: Hamas started the round of fighting that led to Israel's "Operation Pillar of Defense." Fact: This myth represents a common error in mainstream, and even much progressive media coverage. The "truth" all depends on when you start the timeline. What is clear is that while both Israel and resistance groups in Gaza bear responsibility for keeping the warfare going, Israel is more often the precipitator. In an analysis that has received very little attention by Western audiences, Nancy Kanwisher, the Walter A Rosenblith Professor of Cognitive Neuroscience at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology asks, "As Israel and Palestine suffer a hideous new spasm of terror, misery and mayhem, it is important to ask how this situation came about. How did the last ceasefire unravel?" President Barak Obama and the mainstream media in the United States and Israel place the blame squarely on Hamas. It is true that a barrage of Palestinian rockets have been fired into Israel, and that ending this rocket fire is the stated goal of the current Israeli invasion of Gaza. However, this simplistic summary leaves out crucial facts. Consider this chain of events, which followed a lull of sorts over the previous couple of weeks: Nov 4: Israel killed a mentally ill Palestinian walking near the Israeli imposed "no go zone" inside the Gaza Strip, an event that triggered a rocket from Gaza into southern Israel, which did not cause any deaths or injuries. Nov 8: Four Israeli military tanks and a bulldozer entered Gaza, fatally shooting a 13 year old boy who had been playing soccer by his family's house. Nov 10: In retaliation, two rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel, and an anti tank missile injured four soldiers, when it hit an Israeli army jeep that had crossed over into the territory. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights reported the killing of five more Palestinians, four of whom were civilians, including two soccer players age 16 and 17, and two young men 18 and 19, who ran to the scene. Forty nine others were wounded, including ten children.
After eight days of fighting between Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist's who run Gaza and Israel, a ceasefire, brokered by Egypt and America, has been confirmed. The ceasefire may bring an end to the violence, in which over 100 Palestinians and three Israelis have died since November 14th, but the challenge for both sides will be whether they can translate a renewed informal understanding into something more lasting. Topic Diplomacy. Israeli politics: For him, the wrong American. Russo German relations: The shocking Mr Schockenhoff. Israeli politics: Eyes on America. Topic: War and conflict. Death penalty in South Asia. Killing Kasab. Israel and Gaza: Where will it end? Syria's agony: Recognizing the "united" opposition. Topic: Government and politics. The future of campaign finance: A morning after constitutional? Monetary policy: The Shirakawa redemption. Ukrainian politics: After the elections. Topic: Political policy. Israeli reactions: The view from Israel. Monetary policy: Making better institutions, in America and Europe. Monetary policy in Japan: Battle of the BOJ.
The United States government and its subject people think of the US as the world's only superpower. But how is a country a superpower, when its entire government and a majority of the subjects, especially those members of evangelical churches, grovel at the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister? How is a country a superpower when it lacks the power to determine its own foreign policy in the Middle East? Such a country is not a superpower. It is a puppet state. In the past few days we have witnessed, yet again, the American superpower groveling at Netanyahu's feet. When Netanyahu decided to again murder the Palestinian women and children of Gaza, to further destroy what remains of the social infrastructure of the Gaza Ghetto, and to declare Israeli was crimes, and Israeli crimes against humanity to be merely the exercise of self defense, the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the White House, and the US media all promptly declared their support for Netanyahu's crimes. On November 16, the Congress of the Superpower, both House and Senate, passed overwhelmingly the resolutions written for them by AIPAC, the Israeli Lobby known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the only foreign agent that is not required to register as a foreign agent. The Global News Service of the Jewish People reported their power over Washington with pride. Both Democrats and Republicans shared the dishonor of serving Israel and evil, instead of America and justice for the Palestinians. The White House quickly obeyed the summons from the Israel Lobby. President Obama announced that he is fully supportive of Israel's assault on Gaza. Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told the media on November 17 that the White House wants the same thing as the Israelis want. This is an overstatement, as many Israelis oppose the crimes of the Israeli government, which is not the government of Israel, but the government of the settlers, that is, the crazed land hungry immigrants who are illegally, with Netanyahus support, stealing the lands of the Palestinians.
Israeli terror attacks continue. They're merciless. Defenseless civilians are targeted. It's official policy in all Israeli conflicts. Besieged Gazans are sitting ducks.Where can they go? How can they hide? What can they do but pray they'll survive? Many won't. Through midday Monday, Haaretz reported 95 Gazan deaths. Another report said 97. These numbers will rise. Nearly 700 were injured. The great majority are civilian men, women, children, infants and the elderly. Many others are missing. They're presumed buried under rubble. Dozens of Israeli sorties are flown daily. Devastation is left in their wake. A single Israeli strike killed three generations of one family. Eleven Palestinians died. All were civilians. Israel targeted their home. It was totally demolished. Jamal Dalu was away when it happened. He lost his wife, two daughters, a sister, a daughter in law, four grand children aged two to six, and two neighbors. IDF spokesman General Yoav Mordechai contemptuously said "military officials" were "examining the event." Targeting was deliberate. Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh called it a "massacre." It was cold blooded murder. So is Israel's entire campaign. Senior Hamas spokesman Salama Maroof said: "Israel has killed a family of eleven people this evening, and many, many more. If Israel wants to stop its aggression, then we can talk, but before then, how could we consider any deal?" Haaretz covered what happened. It headlined "As IDF kills entire family in Gaza, Israel is starting to get in trouble." Contributor Avi Issacharoff compared what happened to Israel's massacre of 57 Kafr Qana village civilians during its 2006 Lebanon war. Thirty seven children died. Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora called bombing Kafr Qana a "heinous crime" committed by "Israeli war criminals." The atrocity enraged people worldwide. Israeli state terror made headlines. Then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert lied, saying "The village and its surrounding areas were a source for launching hundreds of rockets." Israeli UN ambassador Dan Gillerman's vicious lie mocked the victims, saying: Hezbollah was responsible for "using women and children as human shields." During Cast Lead and other times, Israel was caught red-handed using Palestinians as human shields. Israeli soldiers broke the silence. They admitted what goes on.
The Western media in chorus has described the Israeli attack on Gaza as an ad hoc IDF led counter terrorism operation, launched on the grounds of "self defense" in response to Palestinian rocket attacks on Israel.While reports acknowledge that president Obama, in the wake of the November 6 elections, had granted a "Green Light" to Tel Aviv, the central issue does not pertain to Washington's support, but rather to the direct involvement of the US government and military in the planning and implementation of the attack on Gaza. There is evidence that Operation "Pillar of Cloud" was implemented in close liaison with Washington in the context of the broader process of allied military planning. Senior US military officials were on location in Israel working with their IDF counterparts in the days leading up to the attack. Operation "Pillar of Cloud" was launched on the 14th of November, exactly one week after the US presidential elections. It was slated to be launched irrespective of the outcome of the US elections. The first action was the targeted assassination of the leader of Hamas' military wing Ahmed Jabari. The operation has since evolved towards a generalized bombing campaign and ground invasion involving the announced deployment of some 75,000 Israeli troops. What is significant in assessing US involvement in Operation "Pillar of Cloud" is the fact that in the month prior to the attacks, the US and Israel were involved in the conduct of the largest joint war games in Israeli history. The objective of the war games was to test Israel's missile air defense system against attacks from far and near, namely from Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas. US Defense Secretary Leon and Israel's Minister of Defense Ehud Barack had established a process of close consultation. Panetta was in Israel in early August. He returned to Tel Aviv two months later on October 3, two weeks before the launching of the US Israeli Austere Challenge 12 exercises. On October 18, the US and Israel launched within Israel the first phase of the joint war games. The military exercises were conducted over four weeks overlapping with the US elections on November 6, and culminating with the commencement of the Gaza bombings on November 14. The joint US Israeli war games, in a sense, "went live" on November 14 with the launching of Operation Pillar of Cloud.
Israel's assault on the besieged Gaza Strip has entered its sixth day. At least 58 civilians have been killed, and the toll is likely to rise. Hundreds of Palestinians, the majority of them civilians, have been injured as well. If you are an American, it's your money that is being used to pay for these atrocities. As Glenn Greenwald wrote in The Guardian, "Israeli aggression is possible only because of direct, affirmative, unstinting US diplomatic, financial and military support for Israel and everything it does." So it's no surprise that those outraged at the latest Israeli assault on Gaza would blame the US, Here's a look at 5 ways the US enables Israel to commit human rights abuses against Palestinians. 1. Green Lighting Military Operations. When Israel escalates in Gaza, the country can count on the US to give it the green light to do what it feels it has to. This dynamic was on display the past week, as Israel conducted an assault of choice on the largely civilian population of Gaza, and the US fully backed it. The serious escalation in violence began after Israel assassinated a Hamas leader, Ahmed al Jabari, and proceeded to pound the Gaza Strip for the next week. But despite the fact that it was Israel who decided to escalate, the US had no interest in looking at the facts. The supportive rhetoric from the US began the day of the assault, when a military spokesman told reporters that "we stand by our Israeli partners in their right to defend themselves against terrorism." Similar statements were used over the week, culminating in Barack Obama's extremely supportive comments aired yesterday. "There's no country on Earth that would tolerate missiles raining down on its citizens from outside its borders," said Obama, missing the irony and blatant hypocrisy in his statement. "Israel has every right to expect that it does not have missiles fired into its territory." 2. Giving Israel Weaponry Israel can't carry out a decade's old, belligerent military operation and siege without having the tools to do so. And the US obliges Israel, day in and day out. Every year, the American government delivers about $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel. That money is sent to Israel with the stipulation that they must use the money to buy American weaponry, so that aid gets recycled back into the US military industrial complex. These weapons include the F16s bombing Gaza, missiles raining hell on civilians there,, and the US made rifles. According to the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation over the past decade "the United States licensed, paid for, and delivered more than 670,903,390 weapons and related equipment to Israel, valued at $18,866 billion through three major weapons transfer programs during the same period." You can also see this dynamic being played out in Israel's use of the Iron Dome system. This defense system is meant to protect against the rockets that Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups fire at Israel. It was paid for by the US government, to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. The Iron Dome system has been effective at knocking down some of the rockets fired during this latest escalation.
With the five day aerial battle between Israel and Hamas poised to escalate into an all out ground war, the unlikely figure of Egypt's Islamist president, Muhammad Morsi, is emerging in Israeli minds as the one regional leader who can bring about a credible ceasefire, Mr Morsi declared on November 17th that there were "indications" but no certainty, that the two sides could use indirect diplomacy to end the present round of violence. Mr Morsi is in close contact with the US and European governments. He held talks in Cairo with Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and the Qatari ruler, Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al Thani, both of whom are anxious to contribute to cease fire diplomacy. The Egyptian president, a long time leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, spoke of "the Israeli side", referring to Israel by its name instead of using some deprecatory sobriquet like "the Zionist enemy". That is small consolation for an Israeli establishment still hankering after the much easier rapport it had with Egypt's ousted Mubarak regime, especially in matters military. Israel uttered ominous warnings during the early months of the "Arab Spring" about the dangers of the long banned Muslim Brotherhood rising to power in Egypt. Mr Morsi's election victory elicited further dour prognostications. Like Hamas, its ideological and political acolyte, the Brotherhood does not recognize Israeli sovereignty. But Mr Morsi has walked a careful line between Israel's unpopularity with his domestic constituency and Egypt's strategic and political interest in maintaining its 33 year old peace treaty with the Jewish state. This caution was in evidence when, in response to Israel's air attacks in Gaza last week, he chose to recall his ambassador for "consultations", a relatively moderate form of diplomatic protest. His dispatch of the prime minister, Hisham Kandil, on a "solidarity visit" to Gaza on November 16th, was a clear signal of Egypt's desire to mediate, and was recognized as such by Israeli officials and public alike. Hence, the moment, brief, alas, of relief and hope that palpably swept the country on the morning of November 18th. People awoke to reports of an almost entirely peaceful night in the south, and to local and foreign media speculation of an imminent ceasefire to be brokered by Egypt. No rockets from Gaza disturbed these early morning reveries. The night had not passed peacefully in Gaza, however. Israeli warplanes bombed rocket launch sites and other Hamas targets.
The Israeli military boasted Friday afternoon that it had carried out more than 500 air strikes against the densely populated territory of Gaza, since launching its latest offensive, dubbed Pillar of Defense. The escalating air war is unfolding amid growing signs that the Israeli government is on the brink of launching a ground invasion of Gaza, that would spell a huge increase in the bloodletting. The relentless bombardment has resulted in widespread destruction and carnage, with the official death toll rising to 29 on Friday night and the number of wounded climbing to 300. Among the latest to be killed was a two year old Palestinian boy. The majority of the dead and wounded are civilians, including eight children and a pregnant woman. The Israeli government and military have incessantly declared that the strikes on Gaza are aimed solely at "terrorists" and that any civilian casualties are the fault of Hamas for "hiding" among the people. The reality, however, is that the bombs and missiles are destroying homes, schools, workplaces, government office buildings and police stations. It was confirmed Friday that the Israeli military sent text messages to at least 12,000 cell phones inside Gaza, issuing warnings to stay away from anyone connected to Hamas, which runs the government of the 25 mile long territory, or face possible death. Among the targets demolished on Friday was the civil affairs department of the Ministry of the Interior in Gaza City, which houses 70 years' worth of records of the Palestinian civil registry. Also hit were a family owned textile factory that employed 20 people and a food store. In response to the Israeli assault, Palestinian resistance groups fired rockets into Israel. Though largely ineffectual, one of them struck the Tel Aviv area Friday, while another landed near Gush Etzion, an illegal Zionist settlement near Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. On Wednesday, a rocket struck an apartment house in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, killing two Israeli women and one man. There is every indication that the first three days of terror unleashed by the Israeli state on Gaza is only the beginning. "We are going to significantly aggravate the operation," a senior official told the Israeli media.
What does it take for a foreign corporation to get the corporate death penalty in America? That's a question we need to ask ourselves, after news broke yesterday of BP's legal settlement over its Gulf oil spill disaster in 2010. Eleven workers were killed when their oil rig exploded, and for three months five million barrels of toxic crude gushed in the Gulf of Mexico, as BP, which never made contingency plans for this sort of obvious crisis, tried to find a way to plug the hole. That oil killed marine life, blanketed coastlines, and put Gulf Coast small businesses out of business. To this day, we still don't know the long term effects of this catastrophe on the ecosystem or our food chain, which is now contaminated with eyeless shrimp, clawless crabs, and other oil mutated aquatic freak shows, not to mention the human cancers that will show up in future decades. Now, the foreign corporation responsible for all this, BP, will just cut a small check, and then go back to business as usual, punching holes in the Gulf. It pled guilty to 14 felony and misdemeanor charges, and agreed to pay a $4.5 billion fine, the largest criminal fine in our nation's history. But for a corporation that just announced it earned $5.4 billion in three months, BP knows it got off easy. The organization Public Citizen notes, "Claims arising from the Gulf disaster, which killed 11 workers and did untold damage, put the company's liability at a maximum of $51.5 billion." That's more than ten times what BP will end up paying to settle. As part of the settlement, the government still reserves the right to charge two BP employees for manslaughter. It will likely be two low level workers, who'll have to take the fall for an entire corporation, and industry, that repeatedly ignored regulations and cut safety corners, just to maximize their quarterly profits. Because of our two tiered justice system, rarely do corporate suits go to jail. Altogether, this settlement will do very little to change the corrupt scam oil barons are running on the American people. As spokesperson for Public Citizen said: "We're stunned. This settlement is pathetic. The point of the criminal justice system is twofold: to punish and to deter. This does neither." In a tragic irony that proves Public Citizen's point, news broke on Friday of another oil-rig exploding off the coast of Louisiana. Early reports indicate two workers are dead, and another two workers are missing. Perhaps if our criminal justice system had taken swifter action against BP and followed through by banning the company from doing business in the United States, the entire industry might shape up, and maybe,just maybe, a group of oilmen in Louisiana would still be alive today. Our nation has a long history with the corporate death penalty. Beginning in the early 1800's, laws were passed in several states to make it easier for legislators to revoke corporate charters if businesses are operating against the public's interest, and this routinely happened. In Ohio,, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania, banks were shut down for being "financially unsound." In New York and Massachusetts, corporations that ran the turnpikes were given a corporate death sentence for not keeping the roads in good repair. By 1825, 20 states had amended their constitutions to make it easier for the state to "revoke, alter, or annul" corporate charters whenever a corporation, "may be injurious to citizens of the community." In just one year, 1832, the state of Pennsylvania sentenced ten corporations to death, revoking their charters for "operating contrary to the public interest."
Gaza is a window on our coming dystopia. The growing divide between the world's elite and its miserable masses of humanity is maintained through spiraling violence. Many impoverished regions of the world, which have fallen off the economic cliff, are beginning to resemble Gaza, where 1.6 million Palestinians live in the planet's largest internment camp. These sacrifice zones, filled with seas of pitifully poor people trapped in squalid slums or mud walled villages, are increasingly hemmed in by electronic fences, monitored by surveillance cameras and drones, and surrounded by border guards or military units that shoot to kill. These nightmarish dystopias extend from the sub Saharan Africa to Pakistan to China. They are placed where targeted assassinations are carried out, where brutal military assaults are pressed against peoples left defenseless, without an army, navy or air force. All attempts at resistance, however ineffective, are met with the indiscriminate slaughter that characterizes modern industrial warfare. In the new global landscape, as in Israel's occupied territories and the United States' own imperial projects in Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen and Afghanistan, massacres of thousands of defenseless innocents are labeled wars. Resistance is called a provocation, terrorism or a crime against humanity. The rule of law, as well as respect for the most basic civil liberties and the right of self determination, is a public relations fiction used to placate the consciences of those who live in the zones of privilege. Prisoners are routinely tortured and "disappeared." The severance of food and medical supplies is an accepted tactic of control. Lies permeate the airwaves. Religious, racial and ethnic groups are demonized. Missiles rain down on concrete hovels, mechanized units fire on unarmed villagers, gunboats pound refugee camps with heavy shells, and the dead, including children, line the corridors of hospitals that lack electricity and medicine. The impending collapse of the international economy, the assaults on the climate, the resulting droughts, flooding, precipitous decline in crop yields and rising food prices are creating a universe where power is divided between the narrow elites.
The Israeli military boasted Friday afternoon that it had carried out more than 500 air strikes against the densely populated territory of Gaza since launching its latest offensive, dubbed Pillar of Defense. The escalating air war is unfolding amid growing signs that the Israeli government is on the brink of launching a ground invasion of Gaza that would spell a huge increase in the bloodletting. The relentless bombardment has resulted in widespread destruction and carnage, with the official death toll rising to 29 on Friday night and the number of wounded climbing to 300. Among the latest to be killed was a two year old Palestinian boy. The majority of the dead and wounded are civilians, including eight children and a pregnant woman. The Israeli government and military have incessantly declared that the strikes on Gaza are aimed solely at "terrorists" and that any civilian casualties are the fault of Hamas for "hiding" among the people. The reality, however, is that the bombs and missiles are destroying homes, schools, workplaces, government office buildings and police stations. It was confirmed Friday that the Israeli military sent text messages to at least 12,000 cell phones inside Gaza, issuing warnings to stay away from anyone connected to Hamas, which runs the government of the 25 mile long territory, or face possible death. Among the targets demolished on Friday was the civil affairs department of the Ministry of the Interior in Gaza City, which houses 70 years' worth of records of the Palestinian civil registry. Also hit were a family owned textile factory that employed 20 people and a food store. In response to the Israeli assault, Palestinian resistance groups fired rockets into Israel. Though largely ineffectual, one of them struck the Tel Aviv area Friday,while another landed near Gush Etzion, an illegal Zionist settlement near Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank. On Wednesday, a rocket struck an apartment house in the southern town of Kiryat Malachi, killing two Israeli women and one man. There is every indication that the first three days of terror unleashed by the Israeli state on Gaza is only the beginning. "We are going to significantly aggravate the operation," a senior official told the Israeli media.
If the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist's who run Gaza, were to end this weekend, everyone involved, except for the families of the score or more people who have been killed or maimed in the destruction, could claim to have come out ahead. But it is possible that the bombing and rocketing will drag on into next week, with the threat growing of a full scale ground assault by Israel and the inevitable carnage and destruction that that would entail. For Israel and Hamas, the key question for each is, did it win in the eyes of our public opinion? For Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, with a general election looming on January 22nd, that question is particularly acute. The assassination on November 14th of Ahmad Jabari, the military commander of the Hamas, was widely welcomed by Israelis. The air force's subsequent elimination of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of long range Iranian made Fajr missiles stockpiled by Hamas and Gaza's more extreme group, Islamic Jihad, was a feat of intelligence and execution that drew kudos from across the Israeli political spectrum. Mr Netanyahu can notch up his credit too, the news that his would be rival, Ehud Olmert, postponed his planned announcement on November 15th, that he would stand against the prime minister in the upcoming election. Hamas and its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, will vaunt its now proven ability to strike at Tel Aviv.Three rockets are believed to have landed near Israel's main center of population, two on November 15th and the third the next day, this despite Israel's deployment of of its Iron Dome anti missile system, which, the army says, had intercepted around 160 of the 510 odd missiles fired from Gaza into Israel between November 14th and 16th. Footage of Tel Avivians diving for cover will boost Hamas's standing and compensate, in part, for the blows it suffered at the outset of this round of fighting. Egypt, under its Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, is trying to broker a ceasefire. If the violence does end soon, the Egyptians will take credit for it.
I can remember the specific moment when I swore off the sex lives of the famous as journalistic currency. It was the case of a national sportscaster. I won't name him, but, alas, most of those old enough will remember the name, which is regrettable, whose sex life had suddenly become the media chow. This man had been involved in a consensual relationship with another adult, and for reasons both ridiculous and obscure, the other adult thought it just and meaningful to reveal herself and her complaints, making explicit all of the unique and varied ways in which she and this man had expressed their sexuality, and my, wasn't he a weird one. And wasn't it funny. When that story broke, I was standing in the newsroom of the Baltimore Sun, and I remember my growing distaste watching reporters and rewrite men as they were sucked, joking and snickering, into the breaking news. No one had any doubt that it was news. The man was a national sportscaster, for the love of god. A more public figure this nation cannot muster. I was no Candide on a first promenade through Paris. I'd held pen and notepad akimbo and reported hypocritically at points. Not a year earlier, I think, I'd been guilty of dragging to the front of the metro section some sad sack who happened to serve on a mayor's advisory committee, an unpaid position, mind you, and happened to get arrested in a car with a lit marijuana cigarette between his lips. At the price of that misdemeanor, I'd messed that guy up good. Wasn't my fault he caught that charge. Hey, I was just the cop shop reporter calling districts and reporting arrests. Don't shoot the messenger. And then, like the shit bird that reporters often are obliged to be, I probably left work that night and smoked a joint with the night editor, after which we went to Burke's for onion rings, which we did just about every other night. Hypocrisy will never go out of style in American journalism or American life, but sitting there and watching the rewrite and sports desk mobilize to surround the sexual wanderings of a sportscaster, I remember making a decision: Enough.
According to Benjamin Netanyahu: The Bible finds no worse image than this of the man from the desert. And why? Because he has no respect for any law. Because in the desert he can do as he pleases. The tendency towards conflict is in the essence of the Arab. He is an enemy by essence. His personality won't allow him any compromise or agreement. It doesn't matter what kind of resistance he will meet, what price he will pay. His existence is one of perpetual war. Israel's must be the same. The two states solution does not exist. There are no two people here. There is a Jewish people and an Arab population. There are no Palestinian people, so you don't create a state for an imaginary nation, they only call themselves a people in order to fight the Jews. The Israeli bombardment of Gaza being perpetuated under Operation Pillar of Defense comes at an interesting time. Under the leadership of Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Barak, the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements into Palestinian lands has increased at unprecedented rates. Netanyahus administration has approved the construction of 850 settler homes in the occupied West Bank in June 2012, even after the Israeli parliament rejected a bill to retroactively legalize some of the existing homes in the area. The number of Jewish settlers in the West Bank has almost doubled in the past 12 years, with more than 350,000 residing illegally under international law. While Israels Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman asserts Tel Avivs unwillingness to permit Palestinians any right to return to their lands, emphasizing, not even one refugee, apartheid enforced on ethnic and religious lines has become a ratified part of Israeli government policy. Far right political discourse that was once considered extremism is now the status quo in Israel. While Netanyahu publically announced support for a Palestinian state on the West Bank, his government has threatened to end the Oslo Accords, if the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine with non member observer state status. A panel of Israeli jurists assembled by Netanyahu's government to determine the legal status of the West Bank, concluded that there is no occupation of Palestinian lands, and that the continued construction of settlement outposts are entirely legal under Israeli law, despite critical international opinion.