Issues & Alibis

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In This Edition

Tom Engelhardt explores future possibilities, "Why Are We In Afghanistan?"

Uri Avnery attends, "Two Sit-Ins."

David Sirota asks, "Are Low Taxes Exacerbating The Recession?"

Randall Amster wonders, "From Oakland To Afghanistan, Can We All Get Along?"

Jim Hightower finds, "Economists Whistling Past The Graveyard."

Eric Margolis explains, "Saving Face In Unwinnable War."

James Donahue warns, "Beware The Deadly Lineup Of Artificial Sweeteners."

Joel S. Hirschhorn tries, "Understanding The BP Oil Tragedy: Time Blindness."

Chris Floyd sees, "Timebends."

Case Wagenvoord examines, "Nihilism."

Robert Scheer discovers, "There's Just No Pleasing Some Robber Barons."

Chris Hedges with a must read, "Obama's Health Care Bill Is Enough To Make You Sick."

David Michael Green considers, "Growing Up Globally."

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer wins the coveted "Vidkun Quisling Award!"

Phil Rockstroh with a vision, "A Heap Of Broken Images."

Amy Goodman and Beverly Bell report, "There Is No Plan For Permanently Housing The 1.9 Million Haitians Who Lost Their Homes in the Quake."

And finally in the 'Parting Shots' department The Landover Baptist Church inquires, "Is Soccer A Sin?" but first Uncle Ernie sez, "Run For Your Lives, It's Frankenfish!"

This week we spotlight the cartoons of Monty Woverton, with additional cartoons, photos and videos from Derf City, Mr. Fish, Ted Rall, Rex Babin, A Burke, Warner Brothers Pictures, The BBC, Sports Illustrated and Issues & Alibis.Org.

Plus we have all of your favorite Departments...

The Quotable Quote...
The Dead Letter Office...
The Cartoon Corner...
To End On A Happy Note...
Have You Seen This...
Parting Shots...

Welcome one and all to "Uncle Ernie's Issues & Alibis."

Run For Your Lives, It's Frankenfish!
By Ernest Stewart

"We've seen assurances in the past from industry and regulators that there won't be catastrophic consequences like the Gulf oil spill, we have a cultural amnesia about these things." ~~~ George Kimbrell, a senior staff attorney for the Center for Food Safety.

"The war in Afghanistan is not going to end well!" ~~~ Newt Gingrich

"All the problems we face in the United States today can be traced to an unenlightened immigration policy on the part of the American Indian." ... Pat Paulsen

They're at it again. Those loveable knuckleheads over at the FDA are out to kill us all. They're right on the cusp of okaying the first genetically modified animal for human consumption. AquaBounty, which calls its super salmon an "advanced hybrid" rather than the transgenic fish that it is, said the product is safe to eat and would be raised in contained farming operations that could be based inland rather than along coastal waters. The modified fish, all females, would be sterile so that they couldn't breed with wild fish if any escaped, the company said. As with all other genetically modified food, there will be no 20 year trials to see what the long term effects will be. In fact, there will be no FDA trial lasting even 20 seconds. The FDA is an agency of sell out government goons, the same as they have always been since their founding after the Civil War. It's not about your food safety. It's about money. We're expected to take their word that this food is safe, assurances from the same type of folks who brought you Thalidomide, Redux, Rezulin, Lotronex, Propulsid, Pondimin (a component of Fen-Phen), Duract, Seldane, Hismanal, Posicor and Raxar. All of the above were fast tracked without trials by the FDA and then quietly taken off the market after killing thousands and injuring tens of thousands more! You recall babies born with flippers instead of arms and legs? That was just the very tip of the iceberg. In fact, this week the FDA held meetings to discuss taking Avandia off the market as GlaxoSmithKline settled a Avandia lawsuit for $460 Million. Analysts see it as a win for GlaxoSmithKline as it could have been much worse! Even though it's obvious Avandia is a menace to anyone who takes it, the FDA scientists were split on whether to take it off the market! As they say, the prosecution rests!

Not content with poisoning most of our food crops thanks to Monsanto and other destroyers of the biosphere, we're now to be treated to genetically modified animals. Yippee! On deck they're currently modifying cows, chickens and pigs by the same corpo-rat types that poison our vaccinations with mercury and Zeus only knows what else. Biotech crops (the trade groups name for genetically engineered and altered poison) are spreading worldwide, with 14 million farmers growing them in 25 countries, including the U.S. About 330 million acres are planted globally, an 80-fold increase since 1996. Even the starving farmers in Haiti know not to grow seeds that have been altered and are refusing Monsanto's offer to pollute Haiti. In Canada, where the genetically Frankenpig is being developed, the courts have already been bought and paid for by Monsanto. Monsanto will move in, buy some land, plant their poison and when the wind blows their slime into your field and destroys your organic crops, Monsanto will then sue you for copyright infringement. The Canadian courts have gone along with this act of insanity, when it's the farmer who lost his crops to Monsanto's BS who should have been compensated. His land can never be planted again with the same crop! I might add that Monsanto's had similar "luck" against American farmers!

Monsanto Corp has led the charge in poisoning us, well, those dumb enough to eat that trash, which is, alas, most of us. If there ever was a time to become an organic farmer or gardener, this is it, folks. We plant our own or buy from local farmers and when forced to shop in supermarkets, look for marked down certified organic foods. Because of this Frankenfish garbage, my family and others will stop eating all salmon. Like the drug infested milk, thanks to the FDA, there will be no label screaming in vivid letters Warning this fish has been genetically engineered, eat at your own peril! So for those of you not jammed into the city, buy your veggies and your meat locally from someone you can trust, or better yet grow your own with heritage seeds. And if you are stuck in a city, check out R. J. Ruppenthal's book, Fresh Food from Small Spaces: The Square Inch Gardeners Guide to Year Round Growing, Fermenting, and Sprouting," and Toolbox for Sustainable City Living: A do-it-Ourselves Guide," by Scott Kellogg, Stacy Pettigrew, and Juan Martinez. Time to start taking care of ourselves, folks.

Many say the drive for all of this is more than just making easy money. Some believe the real goal is to get rid of about six billion of us. All the elite need to run the world for them is around 400 million. The rest of the population is excess. Back in the 18th century old Jonathan Swift had a modest proposal for this excess:

I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child well nursed is at a year old a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee or a ragout.

You can bet your bottom dollar that the elite won't be eating any Frankenfish, or Frankenchickens! For the remaining 400 hundred million slaves, there will be plenty of Soylent Green and new Soylent Green Lite, for those who are watching their "waste lines," to snack upon!

In Other News

Here's some more "good" news. General Betrayus is doing all he can to widen and intensify the wars in Afghanistan and Pakistan. He wants to classify whole new groups and clans of people along the Pakistan/Afghanistan border as terrorists! This will no doubt result in even more of our kids coming back in body bags and, who knows, perhaps another million or so local casualties. That should win their hearts and minds, huh? In fact, Betrayus is working on a plan to foment civil war in Afghanistan. So much for bringing the troops home early! His theory is that since nothing else has worked in America's longest war, maybe tearing everything up might do the trick?

These are the same groups that the Pakistani secret service was weaning off the war and onto Kabul's side and with whom Pakistan was beginning to negotiate a truce and armistice. Betrayus, backed by Obama and Michigan Sin-ator Carl Levin, seems to have the green light to open up a whole new can of worms and add a decade or two to the neverending war. This war, you may recall, was originally started by the Smirkster for "Operation Secure The Pipeline!"

Of course, American manufacturers of Predator aircraft, air-to-ground missiles and body bags are sure to make a killing. Pakistani makers of coffins and body bags will soon have their hands full of new orders, too! I guess this latest upping of the ante is a good, sound, business solution for all concerned, eh? Think of the money to be made by the American makers of artificial limbs and such. This should send quite a few people back to work and out of the Obama tent cities springing up under freeway bridges all over the country! Not to mention, all the extra blood we'll need so junkies, winos and the unemployed will have steady employment at the blood banks! It's a big win, win situation for everybody, right?

And what with Con-gress cutting off unemployment checks to millions of American families, there certainly won't be any problems recruiting more cannon fodder for the wars. The employment picture will brighten up with all those kids going off to war and never entering the work force! After all, when you enlist you get free meals, free living quarters, free clothing with a free brainwashing thrown in for good measure. You get hundreds of dollars a month that you can send home to keep the family from starving outright until the IED blows you into the next world. Then, when that happens, your family will get enough insurance money to buy a slightly used trailer from FEMA to live in until the formaldehyde takes them! What more could one ask for? It's the American way!

And Finally

In the magazine's forum I wrote the following in an attempt to quash a flame war over illegal immigration.

However, I have no problem with attacking an idea, I draw the line at attacking the person behind the idea. Ya'll! ALL OF US, make mistakes. According to mythology, the last person who didn't make mistakes got nailed to a tree! Everyone in here, to my knowledge, is on our side. They may not have all the answers. In fact I'd be willing to bet nobody in here has all the answers. I know I don't and I've been searching for them longer than most people in here have been alive! Shall we then keep arguments as a method of proving or disproving various political theories, as an intellectual process? As Michael Palin said, "An argument is a connected series of statements intended to establish a proposition." Can we keep it to that, please?

As I have stated on numerous occasions, I'm against illegal immigration so I guess that makes me a bigot, huh? Sure we screwed the Mexicans, have been doing that for centuries but so what? We've been screwing people all over the world. Nor did we introduce violence to this continent, to the Japanese and Chinese folks a.k.a. "The Indians" who beat us to this place. They were already killing one another, making war, stealing property, enslaving their neighbors etc., long before whitey showed up. All Christopher brought that was new was the horse, the cannon and a whole bunch of new diseases. Just as blacks in Africa had been trading slaves etc. for a hundred centuries before the English and Dutch got there. We're all from Nairobi, from the Rift Valley; we're all the product of the weapon. We all descended from the killer ape. We are all equally, good, bad and ugly! If that doesn't fit in to your mythology, to bad, that's where it's at!

There are maybe 3 billion people who want to come to America, a lot of them far worse off than the Mexicans and most of them screwed by us. Should we let them all in? I'm sure that the starving peasants in China would be willing to work for a whole lot less than the Mexicans. If half a billion Chinese showed up on your doorstep, how would that be? Why anyone would want to come here is beyond me. But at the way we're going, immigration will probably be a thing of the past. After a few hundred H-Bombs turn the US cities into a few hundred holes in the ground 5 miles wide, a quarter mile deep and glow in the dark, I'm pretty sure that people will no longer want to sneak in!

As my old mentor Tom Lehrer once said: "Life is like a sewer. What you get out of it depends on what you put into it." If that's a bit too graphic then remember the words of John Lennon: "And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make!"

Love yourself, love your neighbor and live in peace!

Your very wicked, old,
Uncle Ernie

Oh And One More Thing

Dear Readers,

Issues & Alibis needs your help so that we can keep on, keeping on. It takes a lot of effort to stay abreast of the latest, greatest plans for your demise. To get to the truth in a mountain of BS! We've cut our costs to the bone and no one is paid anything for their help. In 9 1/2 years, I've never made a dime at this but we do have expenses to pay every year to keep fighting the good fight! In order to continue we need your support!

The good folks who have been supporting us for so many years are, like a growing number of Americans, out of work and can no longer afford to help us. Someone has to step up and take their places. We thank them for their help and hope they come through this in one piece! We've done everything in our power to see that they do. All of those years of weekly "how to" project articles are still in the archives, from how to live off the grid to creating electricity and clean water on the cheap! What to do if it hits the fan!

And thank you for those of you who are stepping up for the first time. Welcome to the good fight, brothers and sisters!

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If enough of you care we'll continue our fight to get our Republic back and protect you from the coming madness! We're running on empty, running out of time!

Ernest Stewart
Issues & Alibis magazine


07-04-1930 ~ 07-13-2010
Burn Baby Burn!

02-23-1927 ~ 07-15-2010
Thanks for fighting the good fight!


We get by with a little help from our friends!
So please help us if you can...?


So how do you like Bush Lite so far?
And more importantly, what are you planning on doing about it?

Until the next time, Peace!
(c) 2010 Ernest Stewart a.k.a. Uncle Ernie is an unabashed radical, author, stand-up comic, DJ, actor, political pundit and for the last 9 years managing editor and publisher of Issues & Alibis magazine.

Why Are We In Afghanistan?
As Petraeus Takes Over, Could Success Be Worse Than Failure?
by Tom Engelhardt

July 12, 2011, Washington, D.C. -- In triumphant testimony before a joint committee of Congress in which he was greeted on both sides of the aisle as a conquering hero, Gen. David Petraeus announced the withdrawal this month of the first 1,000 American troops from Afghanistan. "This is the beginning of the pledge the president made to the American people to draw down the surge troops sent in since 2009," he said, adding, "and yet let me emphasize, as I did when I took this job, that our commitment to the Afghan government and people is an enduring one."

Last July, when Gen. Petraeus replaced the discredited Gen. Stanley McChrystal as Afghan war commander, he was hailed as an "American hero" by Senator John McCain, as "the most talented officer of his generation" by the New Yorker's George Packer, and as "the nation's premier warrior-diplomat" by Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post -- typical of the comments of both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives at the time. Petraeus then promised that the United States was in Afghanistan "to win."

In the year since, the Taliban insurgency has been blunted and "a tipping point has been reached," says a senior U.S. military official with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, who could speak only on the condition of anonymity, in keeping with the policy of his organization. By every available measure -- IEDs or roadside bombs, suicide attacks, Taliban assassinations of local officials, allied casualties, and Afghan civilian casualties -- the intensity of the insurgency has weakened significantly. The Afghan military and police, though not capable of taking the lead in the fighting in their own country, have been noticeably strengthened by American and NATO training missions. President Hamid Karzai's government, still considered weak and corrupt, has succeeded in putting an Afghan face on the war.

Democratic critics of Gen. Petraeus, and of President Obama's surge strategy, were notably quiet this week as the general toured the capital's power hotspots from John Podesta's Center for American Progress to the American Enterprise Institute, while being feted as the hero of the moment and a potential presidential candidate in 2016. As in 2007, when he was appointed to oversee George W. Bush's surge in Iraq after the critics said it couldn't be done, the impressive charts the general brought to his congressional testimony once again vividly indicated otherwise. The situation in Afghanistan has undergone an Iraq-like change since the nadir of July 2010 when critics and proponents alike agreed that the nine-year-old war was foundering, the counterinsurgency strategy failing, and polling in the U.S. highlighted the war's increasing unpopularity.

"What a difference a year makes," said a jubilant senior official at the Pentagon. In just 12 months, as Gen. Petraeus likes to describe it, he managed to synchronize the Afghan and Washington "clocks" and, in the process, as he had done in Iraq, took the news out of the war and the war out of the news. The latest Gallup poll indicates that up to 63% of Americans are now "supportive" of the general's approach to the Afghan War...

What Success Would Mean in Afghanistan

Okay, it hasn't happened yet -- and the odds are it never will. But for a moment, just imagine stories like that leading the news nationwide as our most political general in generations comes home to a grateful Washington. By all accounts, the Afghan War could hardly be going worse today. Counterinsurgency, the strategy promoted by General McChrystal but conceived by General Petraeus, is seemingly in a ditch, while the Taliban are the ones surging. Around that reality has arisen a chorus of criticism and complaint, left, right, and center.

Failure breeds critics, you might say, the way dead bodies breed flies. Or put another way, it's easy enough to criticize a failing American project, but what about a successful one? What if Petraeus really turns out to be the miracle general of twenty-first century American war-making -- which, by the way, only means that he needs to "blunt" the Taliban surge (the modern definition of "winning," now that victory is no longer a part of the U.S. war-making lexicon)? Today, the increasingly self-evident failure of American policy in Afghanistan is bringing enough calls for firm drawdown or withdrawal dates (or, from the Republicans, bitter complaints about the same) to exasperate President Obama. Under the circumstances, no one evidently wonders what success would really mean. We've been down so long, it seems, that few bother to consider what being up might involve.

Too bad. It's worth a thought. Let's say that Petraeus does return to Washington in what, these days, passes for triumph. The question is: So what? Or rather, could success in Afghanistan prove worse for Americans than failure? Let's imagine that, in July 2011, the U.S. military has tenuous control over key parts of that country, including Kandahar, its second largest city. It still has almost 100,000 troops (and at least a similar number of private contractors) in the country, while a slow drawdown of the 30,000 surge troops the president ordered into Afghanistan in December 2009 is underway. Similarly, the "civilian" surge, which tripled the State Department's personnel there, remains in place, as does the CIA surge that went with it -- and the contractor and base-building surges that went with them. In fact, the CIA drone war in the Pakistani borderlands will undoubtedly have only escalated further by July 2011. Experts expect the counterinsurgency campaign to continue for years, even decades more; the NATO allies are heading for the exits; and, again according to the experts, the Taliban, being thoroughly interwoven with Afghanistan's Pashtun minority, simply cannot in any normal sense be defeated.

This, then, would be "success" 10 years into America's Afghan war. Given the logistics nightmare of supporting so many troops, intelligence agents, civilian officials, and private contractors in the country, the approximately $7 billion a month now being spent there will undoubtedly be the price Americans are to pay for a long time to come (and that's surely a significant undercount, if you consider long-term wear-and-tear to the military as well as the price of future care for those badly wounded in body or mind).

The swollen Afghan army and police will still have to undergo continual training and, in a country with next to no government funds and (unlike Iraq) no oil or other resource revenues on the immediate horizon, they, too, will have to be paid for and supplied by Washington. And keep in mind that the U.S. Air Force will, for the foreseeable future, be the Afghan Air Force. In other words, success means that, however tenuously, Afghanistan is ours for years to come. So what would we actually have to show for all this expenditure of money, effort, and lives?

We would be in minimalist possession of a fractious, ruined land, at war for three decades, and about as alien to, and far from, the United States as it's possible to be on this planet. We would be in minimalist possession of the world's fifth poorest country. We would be in minimal possession of the world's second most corrupt country. We would be in minimal possession of the world's foremost narco-state, the only country that essentially produces a drug monocrop, opium. In terms of the global war on terror, we would be in possession of a country that the director of the CIA now believes to hold 50 to 100 al-Qaeda operatives ("maybe less") -- for whom parts of the country might still be a "safe haven." And for this, and everything to come, we would be paying, at a minimum, $84 billion a year.

On the basis of our stated war objective -- "[W]e cannot allow Al Qaeda or other transnational extremists to once again establish sanctuaries from which they can launch attacks on our homeland or on our allies," as General Petraeus put it in his confirmation hearing at the end of June 2010 -- success in Afghanistan means increasingly little. For al-Qaeda, Afghanistan was never significant in itself. It was always a place of (relative) convenience. If the U.S. were to bar access to it, there are so many other countries to choose from.

After all, what's left of the original al-Qaeda -- estimated by U.S. intelligence experts at perhaps 300 leaders and operatives -- seems to have established itself in the Pakistani tribal borderlands, a place that the U.S. military could hardly occupy, no matter how many CIA drone attacks were sent against it. Moreover, U.S. intelligence experts increasingly suggest that al-Qaeda is in the process of fusing with local jihadist groups in those borderlands, Yemen, Somalia, North Africa, and elsewhere; that it is increasingly an amorphous "dispersed network," or even simply an idea or crude ideology, existing as much online as anywhere in particular on the ground.

In this sense -- and this is the only reason now offered for the American presence in Afghanistan -- a counterinsurgency "success" there would be meaningless unless, based on the same strategic thinking, the U.S. then secured Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, and a potential host of other places. In other words, the U.S. military would have to do one thing the Bush years definitively proved it couldn't do: impose a Pax Americana on planet Earth.

Of course, the Bush administration might have offered other explanations for the ongoing Afghan War, including the need to garrison what it called "the arc of instability" stretching from North Africa to the Chinese border (essentially the oil heartlands of the planet), roll back Russia from its former Soviet "backyard" in Central Asia, and guarantee the flow of Caspian Sea oil westward. More recently, with the revelation that a trillion or more dollars worth of natural resources lie under Afghan soil, securing that country's raw materials for western mining companies might have been added to that list. The Obama administration, however, offers no such explanations and, being managerial rather than visionary in nature when it comes to U.S. foreign policy, might not even have them.

In any case, our wars in Iraq and Afghanistan seem to be telling a rather different story. The singular thing the Iraq War seems to have done politically is promote Iranian influence in that country. Economically, it's made Iraq a safer place for the state-owned or state-controlled oil companies of China, Russia, and a number of other non-western nations. In Afghanistan, in terms of those future natural resources, we seem to be fighting to make that country safe for Chinese investment (just as the recently heightened U.S. sanctions against Iran are helping make that country safe for Chinese energy dominance).

The Question Mark over Afghanistan

All of this leaves the massive American investment of its most precious resources, including lives, in Afghanistan an ongoing mystery that is never addressed. Somewhere in that country's vast stretches of poppy fields or in the halls of Washington's national security bureaucracy, in other words, lurks a great unasked question. It's a question asked almost half a century ago of Vietnam, the lost war to which David Petraeus turned in 2006 to produce the Army counterinsurgency manual which is the basis for the present surge.

The question was: Why are we in Vietnam? (It even became the title of a Norman Mailer novel.) In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson's administration produced a government propaganda film solely in response to that question, which was already threatening to drive down his polling figures and upend his Great Society at home. The film was called Why Viet-Nam. While it had no question mark after the title, the question of whether to add one was actually argued out in the most literal way inside the administration.

The film began with the president quoting a letter he had received from a mother "in the Midwest" whose son was stationed in Vietnam. You hear the president, in his homey twang, pick up that woman's question, as if it were his own. "Why Vietnam?" he repeats three times as the title appears on the screen, after which, official or not, a question mark seems to hover over every scene, as it did over the war itself.

In a sense, the same question mark appeared both before and after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, but it has never been associated with Afghanistan. Because of 9/11, Afghanistan remained for years the (relatively) good (and largely forgotten) war, until visible failure visibly tarnished it.

It's now past time to ask that question, even as the Obama administration repeats the al-Qaeda mantra of the Bush years almost word for word and lets any explanation go at that.

Why are we in Afghanistan? Why is our treasure being wasted there when it's needed here?

It's clear enough that a failed counterinsurgency war in Afghanistan will be an unaffordably expensive catastrophe. Let's not wait a year to discover that there's an even worse fate ahead, a "success" that leaves us mired there for years to come as our troubles at home only grow. With everything else Americans have to deal with, who needs a future Petraeus Syndrome?
(c) 2010 Tom Engelhardt

Two Sit-Ins
By Uri Avnery

AT THIS moment, two sit-ins are taking place in Jerusalem, two kilometers apart. In West Jerusalem, the Shalit family is sitting in a protest tent in front of the Prime Minister's residence, swearing to remain there until the return of their son. In East Jerusalem, three members of the Palestinian parliament are holed up in the building of the International Red Cross.

The word that connects the two is: Hamas.

The Shalit family is demanding the release of their son, Staff Sergeant Gilad Shalit, after four years in captivity. For that purpose they have marched, under the beating sun, 200 kilometers from their home in Galilee to Jerusalem, at the head of tens of thousands. This is a popular movement almost without precedent in Israel: people of the Left and the Right marched together with ordinary people who were touched and united by their concern for the young man. The common demand was for the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to agree to the proposed prisoner exchange with Hamas.

The three Palestinian Members of Parliament are protesting against the order to leave the city, in which their forefathers have lived for centuries - perhaps for millennia. Their sin is that they were elected as Hamas candidates to the Palestinian parliament, in democratic elections whose fairness was certified by ex-President Jimmy Carter and his team.

East Jerusalem was indeed formally "annexed" by Israel, but according to the Oslo agreements, its inhabitants have the right to take part in elections to the Palestinian "legislative council". Hamas won the last elections.

The four Jerusalemite Members of Parliament from Hamas were arrested immediately after the capture of Gilad Shalit, in order to serve as "negotiation chips" - a reprehensible practice in itself. They were sentenced to four years in prison by a military court. (It has been said that "a military court is to justice what a military march is to music".) A few weeks ago they were released, after serving their full sentence, only to be informed that their residence status in Jerusalem had been cancelled and that they have to leave the city and move to the West Bank or Gaza within 40 days.

The four refused, of course. The best known among them, Muhammad Abu Ter (also written Abu Tir), was arrested again and is now in prison. The other three avoided arrest by taking refuge in the IRC building in the Sheikh Jarrah quarter. The building does not enjoy extra-territorial immunity, but its invasion by Israeli police could arouse a wave of international protests, and has been avoided, therefore, until now.

I DECIDED to visit both sit-in sites in order to express my solidarity with both protests.

First of all I visited the members of parliament in the Red Cross building. That was not our first meeting: four years ago I visited Muhammad Abu Ter at his home in the Tsur Baher neighborhood. We were joined by Ahmad Attoun, one of the three (the other two are Muhammad Totah and Khaled Abu Arafa.)

On that occasion, I was also a member of a Gush Shalom delegation. The conversation was friendly, but entirely political in character. Our aim was to explore the possibilities for an Israel-Hamas dialogue, as part of the effort for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Abu Ter, a friendly person by nature, is well known in Israel. Everyone can identify him easily because of his beard, which is dyed a flaming red color, following the habit of the prophet, Muhammad, who also dyed his beard with henna.

We gained the clear impression that it is possible to talk with Hamas, and that their positions are far less extreme than they may seem.

Immediately after, all four were arrested. During their "trial" we demonstrated outside the military camp where it took place.

AT THIS week's meeting with the three threatened with expulsion, I voiced the evident: that there is no legal or moral right to expel a person from his home and his town, especially not for his political opinions. East Jerusalem is occupied territory, and the expulsion of people from occupied territories is expressly prohibited by international law.

I could not help remembering the words of the German Martin Niemoeller. a World War I submarine captain who later became a priest and landed in a Nazi concentration camp. "When they took the Jews, I kept silent. After all, I was not a Jew. When they took the communists, I kept silent. After all, I was not a communist. When they took the social democrats, I kept silent. After all, I was not a social democrat. When they came for me, there was no one left to protest."

"Now," I said, "they expel Hamas members. Then they will expel the Fatah people. Then they will expel all the Arabs from East Jerusalem. Then they will cancel the citizenship of Israeli peace activists and expel us, too. This must be a joint struggle of all of us - Israelis and Palestinians, Fatah and Hamas and the Israeli peace camp."

THE ATTEMPT to expel the Hamas members from East Jerusalem is, of course, part of the massive campaign to "Judaize" the East of the city in a thousand and one ways. This campaign is headed by the mayor, Nir Barkat, who wraps himself in the flag of "love for Jerusalem."

Love for Jerusalem is like love for children. Everybody loves children - but not always in the same way.

A father loves his children. A teacher loves the pupils. A paedophile loves the objects of his lust. A cannibal loves them fried.

I love Jerusalem. Nir Barkat loves Jerusalem. But our love is different.

I am a Tel Avivian. It's my home. But Jerusalem I loved. Loved - in the past tense.

During the ten years I served as a member of the Knesset, I spent half of each week in Jerusalem - both before and after the Six-day War.

Every time I came to Jerusalem, I breathed deeply. I loved the city almost physically - its stone houses, the mountains around it, its dry air. And every week, when I went down to Tel-Aviv, I grumbled about its humidity.

After the Six-day War, I came to love Jerusalem even more. The Eastern part of the town added to it what was missing before - the Oriental ambiance, the beautiful mosques, the wonderful wall, Damascus gate, the noisy bazaar, the incredible mixture of languages, types, human beings.

I got to know fascinating people and made new friends - Feisal al-Husseini, Anwar Nusseibeh and his son, Sari Nusseibeh, and many others. For some weeks, it seemed as if Jerusalem was indeed united and returning to its former glory.

And then the process started that destroyed everything - the city, its human fabric, the unique beauty of its manifoldness.

The seven veils of unity began to fall, one after another, and what remained was the ugly reality of occupation. The occupation of East Jerusalem by West Jerusalem, a story of annexation, oppression, expropriation, neglect and creeping ethnic cleansing.

The person who symbolizes this reality more than anyone else is Nir Barkat, the man who never misses an opportunity to provoke a quarrel, to start a fire, to demolish and expel. He reminds me of a pyromaniac who throws burning matches into a gas station.

How did such a person become mayor? The Jerusalemites voted for him for one sole reason: he is secular. Any secular candidate seemed to them preferable to an orthodox one. The orthodox are conquering the city, slowly but surely, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood. The secular public is afraid, rightly afraid. Out of fear, they voted for the only secular person on the stage - though this one is far more dangerous for the future of their city than the most frightening orthodox.

There was no secular, liberal, peace-loving candidate. The choice was only between an aggressive orthodox and an extreme nationalist. The voters (all of them Jews, the Arabs stayed away) did not understand in time that an extreme nationalist can easily embrace the extreme religious - after all, both have their roots in the cult of the "chosen people" and the hatred of strangers.

The ideology of Barkat pushes him forward, without inhibitions or brakes, until he succeeds in destroying the human fabric of the city, its cultural richness and beauty - see the monstrous buildings - and nothing is left but one monotonous hue, the Jewish-orthodox black.

Barkat is not the first and not the only one who went out to Judaize East Jerusalem. To Judaize means to eradicate all other colors, to demolish the layers left by many generations of lovers, to eliminate thousands of years of history and cultural creation.

He was preceded by Teddy Kollek. But Kollek was a genius. He eradicated the Mugrabi quarter near the Western Wall, expropriated and built new Jewish neighborhoods at a frantic pace, and at the same time collected peace prizes all over the world. If he had lived on, he would surely have received the Nobel Peace Prize, too. Compared to him, Barkat is a primitive, transparent oaf who attracts world-wide loathing. Sheikh-Jarrah, Silwan, Ramat Shlomo, Pisgat Ze'ev - these names have become symbols everywhere.

The myth of "The City That Is Compact Together" (Psalms 122) is being exploded every day. The city has not come together. The two parts are united as a lion is united with the sheep it has swallowed. Barkat is the mayor of West Jerusalem and the military governor of East Jerusalem. He and his accomplice in the holy work, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, do everything possible to push the non-Jewish population out.

But they do not succeed. Barkat & Co are experiencing with the Arabs what Pharaoh experienced with the Children of Israel: "But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew" (Exodus 1:12). In spite of the demolition and new building, the demographic balance in Jerusalem has hardly changed - and if at all, in favor of the Arabs.

I told the members of parliament that in the end, what will be realized will be the vision of two states, because the only alternative is an apartheid state in which the Arabs will be an oppressed majority and the Jews an oppressive minority - until the whole edifice inevitably comes crashing down. Two states mean: two capitals in Jerusalem, the Palestinian in the East and the Israeli in the West. "I hope that we shall all agree on Jerusalem being united on the communal level, under a joint municipality, which will safeguard the rich and unique fabric of its population."

In spite of Binyamin Netanyahu, Nir Barkat and their colleagues, the destroyers of Jerusalem.
(c) 2010 Uri Avnery ~~~ Gush Shalom

Are Low Taxes Exacerbating The Recession?
By David Sirota

As the planet's economy keeps stumbling, the phrase "worst recession since the Great Depression" has become the new "global war on terror" - a term whose overuse has rendered it both meaningless and acronym-worthy. And just like that previously ubiquitous phrase, references to the WRSTGD are almost always followed by flimsy and contradictory explanations.

Republicans, who ran up enormous deficits, say the recession comes from overspending. Democrats, who gutted the job market with free trade policies, nonetheless insist it's all George W. Bush's fault. Meanwhile, pundits who cheered both sides now offer non-sequiturs, blaming excessive partisanship for our problems.

But as history (and Freakonomics) teaches, such oversimplified memes tend to obscure the counterintuitive notions that often hold the most profound truths. And in the case of the WRSTGD, the most important of these is the idea that we are in economic dire straits because tax rates are too low. This is the provocative argument first floated by former New York Gov. Eliot Spitzer in a Slate magazine article evaluating 80 years of economic data.

"During the period 1951-63, when marginal rates were at their peak - 91 percent or 92 percent - the American economy boomed, growing at an average annual rate of 3.71 percent," he wrote in February. "The fact that the marginal rates were what would today be viewed as essentially confiscatory did not cause economic cataclysm - just the opposite. And during the past seven years, during which we reduced the top marginal rate to 35 percent, average growth was a more meager 1.71 percent."

Months later, with USA Today reporting that tax rates are at a 60-year nadir, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told a Brookings Institution audience that "the rich are not paying their fair share in any nation that is facing (major) employment issues ... whether it is individual, corporate, whatever the taxation forms are."

A prime example is Greece. While conservatives say the debt-ridden nation is a victim of welfare-state profligacy, a Center for American Progress analysis shows that "Greece has consistently spent less" than Europe's other social democracies - most of which have avoided Greece's plight.

"The real problem facing the Greeks is not how to reduce spending but how to increase revenue collections," the report concludes, fingering Greece's comparatively "anemic tax collections" as its economic problem.

On the other hand, the opposite is also true - as Clinton noted, some high-tax, high-revenue nations are excelling.

"Brazil has the highest tax-to-GDP rate in the Western hemisphere," she pointed out. "And guess what? It's growing like crazy. The rich are getting richer, but they are pulling people out of poverty."

This makes perfect sense. Though the Reagan zeitgeist created the illusion that taxes stunt economic growth, the numbers prove that higher marginal tax rates generate more resources for the job-creating, wage-generating public investments (roads, bridges, broadband, etc.) that sustain an economy. They also create economic incentives for economy-sustaining capital investment. Indeed, the easiest way wealthy business owners can avoid high-bracket tax rates is by plowing their profits back into their businesses and taking the corresponding write-off rather than simply pocketing the excess cash and paying an IRS levy.

In summing up her remarks, Clinton said that this higher-tax/higher-revenue formula "used to work for us until we abandoned it."

Though she felt compelled to insist, "I'm not speaking for the (Obama) administration," it was nonetheless a politically bold statement - so bold, in fact, that like all of the other corroborating tax facts, it was summarily ignored by politicians and the Washington media. They had their cliches to promote - and unfortunately, until they let substantive-though-uncomfortable ideas displace conventional wisdom, it's a good bet that the WRSTGD will continue unabated.
(c) 2010 David Sirota is the author of the best-selling books "Hostile Takeover" and "The Uprising." He hosts the morning show on AM760 in Colorado and blogs at E-mail him at David Sirota is a former spokesperson for the House Appropriations Committee.

From Oakland To Afghanistan, Can We All Get Along?
By Randall Amster

The cauldron of hatred and anguish bubbles over like oil slowly seeping into fragile marshlands. The ravages of perpetual warfare rend the fabric of society and sow the seeds of mass insanity. Racism forms a patina over our relations as four centuries of unspeakable atrocities are elided from our master narrative. Politicians prattle, pundits pander, and plutocrats prosper while families grieve and rifts widen. The clock ticks mercilessly and no one seems the wiser.

Where exactly does one cast their gaze anymore to find shelter from the storm? War, conflict, and violence permeate every aspect of modern existence -- from our oil-soaked daily lives to the harsh inevitabilities of geopolitics. States legalize racial profiling and ethnic subordination, creating a climate of fear and antipathy. The environment is everywhere a casualty of war, yet the people who orchestrate its devastation are immunized from rebuke while those challenging their impunity are treated as de facto terrorists. And still, we can't even legally limit the most outlandish firearms in our midst.

It is tempting to do what we oftentimes do to cope with this nightmare posing as "reality," namely to take a piece of it and analyze it in-depth with the intention of promoting awareness and suggesting avenues for change. But the cycle churns out more episodes than one can keep up with, forcing us to become something like societal coroners cataloguing individual causes of death as genocide continues unabated. We work at the level of symptoms while the essence of root causation eludes us time and again.

No more. We cannot afford to continue in this manner for another second - our very existence is in peril, and I would rather risk ridicule than court complicity. Not too long ago, in a situation reminiscent of the despair now felt in Oakland and elsewhere, an ordinary person spoke an extraordinary truth in plain and plaintive words:

"People, I just want to say, you know, can we all get along? Can we get along? Can we stop making it, making it horrible for the older people and the kids? ... It's just not right. It's not right. It's not, it's not going to change anything. We'll, we'll get our justice.... Please, we can get along here. We all can get along. I mean, we're all stuck here for a while. Let's try to work it out. Let's try to beat it. Let's try to beat it. Let's try to work it out."
On the streets of America, yet again, a young life is extinguished by the arm of the state, a person of color perishes at the hands of a white oppressor, a martyr is created and justice is barely upheld. In the killing of Oscar Grant by officer Johannes Mehserle, we witness a microcosm of the entire paradigm on which the pervasive violence of our lives rests. Grant, a black fast-food worker with a high-school equivalency and a rap sheet, father of a four-year-old daughter; Mehserle, a white police officer with educational opportunities and a spotless record, father of a child born on the day after the shooting. Grant, a victim even before that fateful morn of January 1, 2009, and Mehserle, groomed for the role of oppressor -- their destinies now linked forever.

How many racialized episodes were both Grant and Mehserle exposed to before their encounter? How deep was the well of mutual fear and suspicion of the other in both their minds and hearts? They were strangers, and yet knew each other as stereotypes and caricatures. Mehserle, vested with the legal monopoly of violence by the state and trained in how to deploy it, goes from golden boy to judge, jury, and executioner in a matter of seconds that he will relive for the rest of his days; Grant, used to violence being done to him and responding accordingly, reacts to the deadly blow with almost emphatic resignation: "You shot me! I got a four-year-old daughter!" Mehserle recoils in shock, hands on his head, repeating "Oh my god!" over and over again. All as if each one had been trained for this moment, with lines delivered precisely on cue.

What kind of a world creates a Grant and a Mehserle? Two young men, young fathers, growing up in the same area, separated by skin-deep pigmentation and the baggage of a history that neither asked for nor created. A society that already had adjudicated Grant as a lesser being entitled to only grudging acceptance, while privileging Mehserle with the prospect of power if he will simply agree to play by the rules established for his benefit long ago. A system that uses both as pawns, sets each up to fail, pits one against the other, and diverts our collective gaze from the real culprits who have made violence the baseline feature that binds our lives.

This does not excuse Mehserle's culpability. Each of us has the option to resist our programming and eschew our privilege as best we can -- assuming we have the tools to recognize that choice. As callous and shocking as the verdict of "involuntary manslaughter" seems, it might be close to the unfortunate truth of our society. Mehserle almost certainly had no intention of killing Grant in particular, or likely anyone at all, but rather was ingrained with a perspective and cloaked with an authority that should never have existed in the first place. No healthy society ought to ever tolerate the existence of an underclass, nor the appearance of an armed force whose central yet often unseen role is to enforce the boundaries that maintain this caste system. That Mehserle would see Grant as a threat is ironic and perverse, whereas Grant likely understood all too well that the real threat was living in a world that even needed an Officer Mehserle in the first place.

Now Grant is dead and Mehserle probably wishes he was. Outrage in the streets boils over, and the chasm between police officers and community members widens. Meanwhile, the next Grant is being shunted into a life of diminished opportunity, and another Mehserle is being trained in the use of force. How many more must we create before the assembly line itself is dismantled, smashed to unrecognizable pieces, and consigned to the dustbin of history? This is not a case of individual pathology or blood on someone else's hands. We were all in that BART station on New Year's Day 2009; we are all witnesses to the killing; we are all Grant and Mehserle. It is time to own the knowledge that our continuing participation in a world of competition, consumption, categorization, and cruelty renders us all victims and perpetrators at the same time.

A suggestion: there can be no "other," no "lesser," no "expendable" aspect of our shared existence. The separation of reality into convenient classifications such as white/black, humans/nature, or us/them is simply nonsensical. You can scan the great texts from physics to metaphysics, and the essential organizing principle comes out the same: mutual interdependence. A whole with distinct yet interlinked parts, each necessary for the other's existence and none of more importance than any other; no center, no rank, no privileged perspective. In this sense, there can be no war, no despoliation, no hatred that does not come back upon ourselves. We will emerge from our adolescence to embrace this realization, or perish by our own hand -- one oil spill, one war, one Mehserle, and one Grant at a time. The news of the day holds up a giant mirror for our edification and potential evolution. Like the man said, "can we all get along?"
(c) 2010 Randall Amster J.D., Ph.D., teaches peace studies at Prescott College and serves as the executive director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association. His most recent book is the co-edited volume "Building Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action" (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).

Economists Whistling Past The Graveyard

The good news is that America's economy continues to grow. The bad news is that most people's personal economies continue to shrivel.

The June report on jobs glows with news that America's unemployment rate has fallen to 9.5 percent. That's the best we've had in a year. "We are headed in the right direction," trumpeted President Obama.

Well... not really. The apparent improvement is a statistical mirage. The number looks good only because 650,000 more Americans became so frustrated with their fruitless search for work last month that they quit looking. In the strange realm called StatWorld, you see, if you're so discouraged that you give up, you are - abracadabra! - no longer counted as unemployed. There are now 1.2 million Americans in this statistical purgatory.

A couple of other realities also dimmed the glow of the June jobless numbers. One, for those who do have jobs, the average workweek shrank. It's now down to only 34 hours - which means less income for "full time" working families. Adding to this decline was another drop in the average hourly wage paid to workers. Fewer hours, lower wages. That's not what most people would call an economy "headed in the right direction." Indeed, the strongest job growth in June came from the low-paying service sector, and nearly half of the 46,000 jobs added there are temporary positions.

Meanwhile, another implosion bomb is set to hit American workers. The public sector, which has been one bright spot for decent wages and benefits, is about to shed tens of thousands of teachers, firefighters, park employees, utility workers and others from state and local governments, sending our country in exactly the wrong direction.

Economists tell us that the recession is over. But get ready - because a depression looms.
(c) 2010 Jim Hightower's latest book, "If The Gods Had Meant Us To Vote They Would Have Given Us Candidates," is available in a fully revised and updated paperback edition.

Saving Face In Unwinnable War
Sinking in debt and no closer to victory, heads may roll as the U.S. and NATO wrap up their pointless Afghan adventure
By Eric Margolis

Fire-breathing U.S. Gen. Stanley McChrystal and his Special Forces "mafia" were supposed to crush Afghan resistance to western occupation. But McChrystal was fired after rude remarks from his staff about the White House.

A more cerebral and political general, David Petraeus, replaced McChrystal. Petraeus managed to temporarily suppress resistance in Iraq.

Last week, the usually cautious Petraeus vowed from Kabul to "win" the Afghan War, which has cost the U.S. nearly $300 billion to date and 1,000 dead. The problem: No one can define what winning really means. Each time the U.S. reinforces, Afghan resistance grows stronger.

Afghanistan is America's longest-running conflict.

The escalating war now costs U.S. taxpayers $17 billion monthly. President Barack Obama's Afghan "surge" of 30,000 more troops will cost another $30 billion.

The Afghan and Iraq wars - at a cost of $1 trillion - are being waged on borrowed money when the U.S. is drowning in $13.1 trillion in debt.

America has become addicted to debt and war.

By 2011, Canadians will have spent an estimated $18.1 billion on Afghanistan, $1,500 per household.

The U.S. Congress, which alone can declare and fund war, shamefully allowed U.S. presidents George W. Bush and Obama to usurp this power. A majority of Americans now oppose this imperial misadventure. Though politicians fear opposing the war lest they be accused of "betraying our soldiers," dissent is breaking into the open.

Last week, Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele let the cat out of the bag, admitting the Afghan war was not winnable. War-loving Republicans erupted in rage, all but accusing Steele of high treason. Many of Steele's most hawkish Republican critics had, like Bush and Dick Cheney, dodged real military service during the Vietnam War.

Republicans (I used to be one) blasted McChrystal's sensible policy of trying to lessen Afghan civilian casualties from U.S. bombing and shelling. There is growing anti-western fury in Afghanistan and Pakistan over mounting civilian deaths.

By clamouring for more aggressive attacks that endanger Afghan civilians and strengthen Taliban, Republicans again sadly demonstrate they have become the party and voice of America's dim and ignorant.

Obama claimed he was expanding the Afghan War to fight al-Qaida. Yet the Pentagon estimates there are no more than a handful of al-Qaida small-fry left in Afghanistan.

Obama owes Americans the truth about Afghanistan.

After nine years of war, the immense military might of the U.S., its dragooned NATO allies, and armies of mercenaries have been unable to defeat resistance to western occupation or create a popular, legitimate government in Kabul. Drug production has reached new heights.

As the United States feted freedom from a foreign oppressor on July 4, its professional soldiers were using every sort of weapon in Afghanistan, from heavy bombers to tanks, armoured vehicles, helicopter gunships, fleets of drones, heavy artillery, cluster bombs and an arsenal of hi-tech gear.

In spite of this might, bands of outnumbered Pashtun tribesmen and farmers, armed only with small arms, determination and limitless courage, have fought the West's war machine to a standstill and now have it on the strategic defensive.

This brutal David versus Goliath conflict brings no honour upon the western powers waging it, including Canada. They are widely seen abroad as waging yet another pitiless colonial war against a small, backward people for resource domination and strategic geography.

Most Afghans yearn for peace after 30 years of war. But efforts by the government of Hamid Karzai, Taliban and Pakistan to forge a peace are being thwarted by Washington, Ottawa and Afghanistan's Communist-dominated Tajik Northern Alliance. India stirs the pot in Afghanistan while rebellion seethes in Indian-held Kashmir.

The heretical Republican Steele was speaking truth when he said this ugly, pointless war is unwinnable. But Washington's imperial impulses continue. Too many political careers in the U.S., Canada and Europe hang on this misbegotten war. So, too, does the fate of the obsolete NATO alliance that may well meet its Waterloo in the hills of Afghanistan.
(c) 2010 Eric Margolis is a columnist for The Toronto Sun. A veteran of many conflicts in the Middle East, Margolis recently was featured in a special appearance on Britain's Sky News TV as "the man who got it right" in his predictions about the dangerous risks and entanglements the US would face in Iraq. His latest book is "American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World."

Beware The Deadly Lineup Of Artificial Sweeteners
By James Donahue

It was a family joke that the first words I ever spoke were "Mama dirt." Translated, I was asking my mother for desert, or something laced with sugar. I had been introduced to sugar and was addicted to it before I could talk.

People love their sugar and they are getting their fill of it in the foods and soft drinks they consume daily. Food processing companies know this and they add some form of a sweetener to almost everything they make to make it more appealing to our taste buds. We get it in salad dressing, pasta sauce, pizza, ketchup, and of course in soft drinks and candy.

People in western society use sugar as a form of self-medication because it gives them brief bursts of energy, enhances their mood and gives them a sense of instant gratification. It has been said that the sugar addiction is so severe that our dependence on it closely resembles addictions to crack cocaine or heroin. Withdrawal symptoms are distinct. When all sugar is taken away in experimental research, humans experience extreme moodiness and irritability, become sweaty and light headed.

Also like cocaine and heroin, sugar is a substance refined from plants grown in nature and refined to maximize its chemical surface area and biological action in our bodies. It is made from either sugar cane or sugar beets.

And like cocaine and heroin, sugar destroys our health over time. It rots our teeth, disrupts normal brain function, promotes heart disease and is directly linked to obesity and diabetes.

This is not news to medical researchers and people involved in the food industry. Consequently there has been a search for a safe sugar substitute that will make food taste like it contains sugar without including harmful side effects. To date, all of the artificial sweeteners marketed for human consumption, and strangely approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration, appear to be more dangerous than plain white sugar.

As of July, 2006, the FDA approved five different sugar substitutes that the agency declared safe. These were aspartame, acesulfame K, neotame, saccharin and sucralose. Yet another deadly sweetener that has found its way into much of the processed food we purchase is high fructose corn syrup.

When you examine what these chemicals do to our bodies, however, it appears clear to us that just using sugar, with moderation, honey, non-refined sugars, or Stevia are the best choices if we cannot live without our sugar fix.

Aspertame is clearly the worst of the lot. Researchers have concluded there are at least 92 different side effects associated with consumption of this product. Most importantly, aspartame is an excite-toxin. That is it excites the brain causing temporary euphoria as it releases excess dopamine. Consumers enjoy this sensation and crave even more aspartame, but in the process it is killing brain cells. People who drink diet cola, with both aspartame and monosodium glutamate added, find themselves quickly addicted to the drink. They also lose their ability to think clearly.

Aspartame changes the ratio of amino acids in the blood altering levels of serotonin, tyrosine, adrenaline and others. It has been found to be linked to chronic fatigue syndrome, Epstein-Barr, Post-Polio syndrome, lymes' disease, grave's disease, Meniere's disease, Alzheimer's disease, ALS, epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, EMS, hypothyroidism, fibromyalgia, lupus, lymphoma and attention deficit disorder. It is suspected of causing disease of the eye, heart, endocrine system, digestive system and skin allergies. The list goes on and on.

Aspartame was developed by G. D. Searle Co. in the United States. It is currently produced by the Ajinomoto Group of Japan. For a while Monsanto was the manufacturer of aspartame.

Acesulfame K has been shown to cause cancer in animals and is believed to be a carcinogen in humans. It is a potassium product manufactured in China. This product is sold commercially as Sunette or Sweet One. You can find it in chewing gum, dry mixes for beverages, instant coffee and tea, gelatin desserts, puddings and nondairy creamers.

Neotame is among the latest poisons developed by Monsanto Chemical Corp. The formula is similar in structure to aspartame, formerly produced by Monsanto. This stuff is reportedly 8,000 sweeter than sugar, and some reports say it may be even more toxic than aspartame. Like aspartame it is an excitotoxin in that it excites the production of dopamine in the brain and causes a slight state of euphoria. Thus it destroys brain cells. It contains formaldehyde metabolite, a known carcinogen that also damages the immune system. While long-term effects are yet to be determined, critics believe they will closely resemble those caused by aspartame.

Saccharin, among the earlier artificial sweeteners marketed under the name Sweet N' Low, has remained on the grocery shelves and a food additive even though tests have shown that it can cause cancer in mice. It remains a suspected carcinogen. For diabetics it may be the less dangerous of all of the sweeteners. The Cumberland Packing Corp. of New York purchased the Sweet N' Low brand from Monsanto Corp. in 2000.

High-fructose corn syrup, used as a sweetener sometimes along with aspartame or some of the other artificial chemicals listed above, is turning up in a frighteningly large amount of the processed foods sold in our grocery stores. New studies find that this stuff causes a high increase in body fat and is directly linked to liver disease.

The other sweeteners on the market that reportedly come from "natural" sources that are much safer than any of the above. These include Sucanat and stevia.

Sucanat is a non-refined cane sugar so it is brown in color. That is because it retains its molasses content. It is essentially pure dried sugar cane juice.

Stevia is manufactured from the leaves of the Stevia rebaudiana species of plants found in tropical and subtropical regions. It has been produced by Morita Kagaku Kogyo Co., Ltd. of Japan since 1971 and is widely used in Asia. It went on the market in the United States in 1995 and can usually be found in health food stores.

An interesting aspect of stevia is that it has been found to have possible medical applications. The leaves of the so-called "sweet plants" have been used in South American countries for medicinal teas for treating heartburn and other ailments. New medical research has shown promise in treating hypertension, enhancing glucose tolerance and reducing blood glucose. Thus it would be a good choice as a sweetener for diabetics and people on carbohydrate-controlled diets.

Agave: There is one more "natural" sweetener on the market that we should watch out for. It is agave nectar, produced from the juice of the agave plant in Mexico. Primarily used in making tequila, the juice is heated and processed into a mixture of concentrated fructose and glucose. Tests on animals show that agave may cause cirrhosis of the liver, diabetes, heart disease and contributes to obesity. Also it is addictive. In short: Don't use it!
(c) 2010 James L. Donahue is a retired newspaper reporter, editor and columnist with more than 40 years of experience in professional writing. He is the published author of five books, all dealing with Michigan history, and several magazine articles. He currently produces daily articles for this web site.

Understanding The BP Oil Tragedy: Time Blindness
By Joel S. Hirschhorn

A loss expected to happen next year looks smaller than that same loss happening next week. Worse yet, a loss or catastrophe that may happen (indeed, is highly likely to happen) decades away is essentially invisible, unthinkable or unworthy of attention now. In other words, humans suffer from an intrinsic thinking defect best described as time blindness. It is the inability to correctly foresee and take seriously long term consequences of current actions.

No wonder that people easily spend decades eating unhealthy foods or living a sedentary lifestyle, or both, without appreciating or internalizing the inevitable negative and serious health impacts, from heart disease to all kinds of cancers, for example.

No wonder that all kinds of technologies that offer immediate rewards or benefits are embraced while long term negative impacts are easily ignored. Maybe cell phones really do cause brain cancer. Maybe deep ocean drilling for oil will fail and cause exactly what we are now witnessing in the Gulf of Mexico from the BP fiasco.

But we like cell phones and we refuse to take the many actions to rid society of its addiction to petroleum and so we willingly accept our time blindness no matter how many experts and researchers try to warn us about the terrible long term impacts. In other words, near term benefits blind us to long term costs. As economists might say, those long term costs are heavily discounted.

It is not just that individuals are time blind, but that there is collective time blindness. It is so powerful that conventional institutions we think of as protecting people and society are impotent. That's how powerful time blindness is.

Worse yet, the really smart people know how to take advantage of mass time blindness. Think of business and corporations that create mass market products and technologies that seduce people because their negative consequences fall victim to deeply imbedded time blindness. Think of all the Ponzi schemes that have victimized so many people out of many billions of dollars. By the time that negative impacts occur it startles and amazes people as if they could not have been predicted. Wrong! In all cases of catastrophes and crises there is always a record of some people correctly forecasting them. But they are ignored. Why? Time blindness. That vision of an awful, deadly future becomes invisible because of our time blindness, or it merely is seen as fantasy, speculation or entertainment.

Want another example? Try the classic one of over population: Too many humans on planet Earth using too many resources. Those not falling prey to time blindness have been trying to warn humanity for a very long time that a lower birth rate and fewer people would actually result in high quality of life for people, with less social conflicts, wars and terrorism. Also think global warming or climate change. Though there are clear impacts now, major calamities will become future shocks because of so much time blindness.

We ignore time blindness at our peril. The real lesson of the BP oil disaster is far more significant than merely one technology or one incompetent and immoral company that wrecks havoc and pain on so many people as well as ruining so much of the natural environment. We need to spend a lot more time understanding intrinsic time blindness as a kind of mental disability, and how to teach people to avoid it. One person has been doing just that for decades. Check out the work of Jack Alpert at
(c) 2010 Joel S. Hirschhorn observed our corrupt federal government firsthand as a senior official with the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association and is the author of Delusional Democracy - Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. To discuss issues write the author. The author has a Ph.D. in Materials Engineering and was formerly a full professor of metallurgical engineering at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Parsing Progressive Perspectives on Power's Abuses

By Chris Floyd

Imagine how great the "progressive" furor would be if the Bush Administration had suddenly denied a visa to an award-winning Colombian journalist because of his reportage on human rights abuses by his American-backed government.

Would we not have heard, rightly, how this draconian action exemplified the administration's tyrannical nature, its use of raw, arbitrary power to throttle any voices trying to shed light on the very murky corners of the Drug War and Terror War operations in Colombia that are armed and funded with billions of dollars from American taxpayers?

Would this not have been added to a long train of similar abuses of power - arbitrary confinement and indefinite detention; concentration camps; shielding torturers; escalating pointless wars and killing countless civilians; running secret armies, assassins and covert operations throughout the world, etc. - and served up as a damning indictment of a lawless regime?

So now let us see what our leading progressive lights have to say about the case of Hollman Morris, "a prominent Colombian journalist who specializes in conflict and human rights reporting," who has just been denied a visa by the Obama Administration, preventing him from taking up a fellowship at Harvard University, as AP reports.

Morris - who "produces an independent TV news program called "Contravia," [that] has been highly critical of ties between illegal far-right militias and allies of outgoing President Alvaro Uribe, Washington's closest ally in Latin America" - has been to the United States many times before. In fact, he was free to enter the country under the loathed Bush Administration. But now, in our bright and glorious progressive era, he has suddenly - dare we say arbitrarily - been declared "permanently ineligible for a visa under the 'Terrorist activities' section of the USA Patriot Act," AP reports.

What are Morris' crimes? Well, the American-trained Colombian security organs declared that the reporter had exhibited "opposition tendencies to government policies." God knows that kind of thing can't be allowed in any colony - sorry, client state - sorry, sovereign ally of the United States. And so they put him under surveillance - years ago. He also - horrors - acted as a go-between Colombian rebels and French diplomats trying to free Ingrid Betancourt, who had been held hostage for years. All of this pre-dates the current administration.

Of course, as we all know, the Supreme Court has now accepted the Obama Administration's earnest argument that anyone who tries to do anything that might lead to the peaceful resolution of any situation that might possibly involve a group that has been arbitrarily declared a "terrorist organization" by His Potomac Majesty is, perforce, also a terrorist, and thus unfit to pass the gates of God's shining city on the hill.

We realize, of course, that Morris' case - and the whole bill of indictment cited above, wherein Obama has continued and often expanded the crimeful policies of his predecessor - is not nearly as important as, say, a progressive blogger temporarily being denied access to witless talking heads shows on a corporate TV network. That, as they say, is some serious shit. Still, we wait with trembly anticipation the coming firestorm of righteous progressive anger that will, no doubt, soon engulf the Obama Administration for its repressive, Bush-like handling of Morris. You know it's coming. Any minute now. Just you wait and see.
(c) 2010 Chris Floyd

By Case Wagenvoord

What a wonderful age we live in. Never have the fields been so fertile for nurturing the forces of folly. Madness is the norm, idiocy is genius. And the reason can be summed up in two words: global nihilism.

In a world where life is no longer worth living, only the 30-second spot has meaning. Beauty, truth and justice no longer reside with the Gods, but with the roll-on deodorant. In a world without norms, deviance rules. Policy becomes a homicidal maniac turned loose to terrorize the village. Life is reduced to a cipher, numbers in the debit column crossed out to enhance the bottom line. Meaning is reduced to a shallow theological formula leaving only the grand farce of power for power's sake.

So the policy wonks sing their songs, shrill motets broken and off-key, toxic notes like a heavy fog blinding and choking. And within the crippled cadence of the melody runs the grim denial that the first sign of a civilization's decay appears when it touches the apogee. It is as it slides over the apogee and begins its descent that it becomes dangerously murderous.

Nihilism and decay are the twin goddesses that are lifting our leaders on high. The dankness of nihilism and the stridency of decay feed their power, for both tolerate all idiocy. They bath our leaders in a holy light whose glare blinds the masses and turn their danse macabre into a gay gavotte. They dance and duck and turn, twist and evade to the smooth song of press releases and denial. They dump a turd here and a turd there, slowly building a bulwark that hides and protects them from the forces of meaning.

They are the Zen masters of bullshit and the gods salute them. .
(c) 2010 Case Wagenvoord. Some years ago, Case Wagenvoord turned off the tube and picked up a book. He's been trouble ever since. His articles have been posted at The Smirking Chimp, Countercurrents and Issues & Alibis. When he's not writing or brooding, he is carving hardwood bowls that have been displayed in galleries and shows across the country. He lives in New Jersey with his wife and two cats. His book, Open Letters to George W. Bush is available at

There's Just No Pleasing Some Robber Barons
By Robert Scheer

The flight from reason that now marks American public discourse came home for me last Friday when I found myself on public radio debating whether Barack Obama is anti-business. The "news hook" for KCRW's "Left, Right & Center" show, which I have co-hosted for 15 years, was an absurd spate of charges from Obama's former big-business allies that he had become their enemy. If only it were so.

One of those who has been complaining is billionaire publisher Mort Zuckerman, who now finds in a White House he once supported "hostility" to the business culture he credits with the country's greatness. I assume he is not talking about the belated efforts to hold BP accountable for the cost of the oil spill that our pro-drilling president once thought not possible.

And then there was Jeffrey Immelt, CEO of General Electric and once friendly to Obama but now alarmed by new regulations. He was one of the many CEOs cited by Fareed Zakaria in The Washington Post as evidence of "Obama's CEO problem." General Electric is a company that got into deep trouble when it stopped worrying about making better light bulbs and came to devote much of its business through GE capital to fancy financial products. With GE having been saved by the taxpayers, one wonders what the conglomerate has to complain about. Or Wall Street donors now stiffing the Democrats and claiming Obama is hostile to them.

All this comes at the very time that Wall Street lobbyists stand poised to win a sweeping victory preventing a reversal of the radical deregulation that made the banking debacle possible. The "Volcker rule," restoration of the New Deal-era barrier between investment and consumer banking that Obama had pledged to support, is gutted. As a disappointed Paul Volcker told Louis Uchitelle in an interview for The New York Times, he would rate the reforms just a B and not even a B-plus. Leading Wall Street economist Henry Kaufman told the Times: "The legislation is a Rube Goldberg contraption, and there are long timelines before the Volcker rule is fully implemented."

Game over, Wall Street won big-time, and the Bush-Obama policy has made the financiers whole while largely ignoring the deep plight of the true victims of the economic collapse, the unemployed and the foreclosed. The argument that Obama is anti-business is nothing more than the old propaganda trick that the best defense is a good offense, so blame the victims for your crimes. The high-tone intellectual argument for that position was supplied by Harvard professor Niall Ferguson, a transplanted Thatcherite, at the same Aspen, Colo., gathering where Zuckerman spoke.

At a conference on ideas paid for and attended by the rich and well-positioned, Ferguson argued that the high rate of unemployment is not due to the Wall Street high rollers whose funny-money games wiped out 8 million jobs but rather the extension of the government's unemployment insurance program:

The curse of long-term unemployment is that if you pay people to do nothing, they'll find themselves doing nothing for very long periods of time. Long-term unemployment is at an all-time high in the United States, and it is a direct consequence of a misconceived public policy.

Yes, except that the public policy that was so terribly misconceived was that of radical deregulation, launched by the Reagan Revolution and implemented by President Bill Clinton, not the pathetic palliative of unemployment checks.

Notice that the attacks on Obama are not about his having followed George W. Bush's example of throwing money at Wall Street, the cause of the meltdown and the run-up of the national debt, but rather the much smaller amount spent on ameliorating the pain that the titans of finance caused for ordinary citizens. And of course there is never a word of self-criticism on the part of folks like Ferguson, Immelt and Zuckerman for their own roles in having cheered on the radical deregulation that made this mess not only possible but inevitable.

Not so Volcker, once the darling of fiscal conservatives when he tamed inflation during the Carter and Reagan years, and when as Fed chair and later as an influential observer he failed to stand publicly against the move to radical deregulation. As was reported in the Times interview, "In retrospect, Mr. Volcker regrets not challenging the widely held assumptions that underpinned much of this. `You had an intellectual conviction that you did not need much regulation-that the market could take care of itself,' he says. `I'm happy that illusion has been shattered.' "

Unfortunately, that illusion has not been shattered for many of the elite in this country, as evidenced by their rage against Obama's too modest steps in the right direction.
(c) 2010 Robert Scheer is the editor of Truthdig. A journalist with over 30 years experience, Scheer has built his reputation on the strength of his social and political writing. His columns have appeared in newspapers across the country, and his in-depth interviews have made headlines. He is the author, most recently, of "The Pornography of Power: How Defense Hawks Hijacked 9/11 and Weakened America," published by Twelve Books.

The Quotable Quote...

"Good people do not need laws to tell them to act responsibly, while bad people will find a way around the law [to enslave the good people]"
~~~ Plato

Obama's Health Care Bill Is Enough To Make You Sick
By Chris Hedges

A close reading of the new health care legislation, which will conveniently take effect in 2014 after the next presidential election, is deeply depressing. The legislation not only mocks the lofty promises made by President Barack Obama, exposing most as lies, but sadly reconfirms that our nation is hostage to unchecked corporate greed and abuse. The simple truth, that single-payer nonprofit health care for all Americans would dramatically reduce costs and save lives, that the for-profit health care system is the problem and must be destroyed, is censored out of the public debate by a media that relies on these corporations as major advertisers and sponsors, as well as a morally bankrupt Democratic Party that is as bought off by corporations as the Republicans.

The 2,000-page piece of legislation, according to figures compiled by Physicians for a National Health Plan (PNHP), will leave at least 23 million people without insurance, a figure that translates into an estimated 23,000 unnecessary deaths a year among people who cannot afford care. It will permit prices to climb so that many of us will soon be paying close to 10 percent of our annual income to buy commercial health insurance, although this coverage will only pay for about 70 percent of our medical expenses. Those who become seriously ill, lose their incomes and cannot pay skyrocketing premiums will be denied coverage. And at least $447 billion in taxpayer subsidies will now be handed to insurance firms. We will be forced by law to buy their defective products. There is no check in the new legislation to halt rising health care costs. The elderly can be charged three times the rates provided to the young. Companies with predominantly female work forces can be charged higher gender-based rates. The dizzying array of technical loopholes in the bill-written in by armies of insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists-means that these companies, which profit off human sickness, suffering and death, can continue their grim game of trading away human life for money.

"They named this legislation the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and as the tradition of this nation goes, any words they put into the name of a piece of legislation means the opposite," said single-payer activist Dr. Margaret Flowers when I heard her and Helen Redmond dissect the legislation in Chicago at the Socialism 2010 Conference last month.

"It neither protects patients nor leads to affordable care."

"This legislation moves us further in the direction of the commodification of health care," Flowers went on. "It requires people to purchase health insurance. It takes public dollars to subsidize the purchase of that private insurance. It not only forces people to purchase this private product, but uses public dollars and gives them directly to these corporations. In return, there are no caps on premiums. Insurance companies can continue to raise premiums. We estimate that because they are required to cover people with pre-existing conditions, although we will see if this happens, they will argue that they will have to raise premiums."

The legislation included a few tiny improvements that have been used as bait to sell it to the public. The bill promises, for example, to expand community health centers and increase access to primary-care doctors. It allows children to stay on their parent's plan until they turn 26. It will include those with pre-existing conditions in insurance plans, although Flowers warns that many technicalities and loopholes make it easy for insurance companies to drop patients. Most of the more than 30 million people currently without insurance, and the 45,000 who die each year because they lack medical care, essentially remain left out in the cold, and things will not get better for the rest of us.

"We are still a nation full of health care hostages," Redmond said. "We live in fear of losing our health care. Millions of people have lost their health care. We fear bankruptcy. The inability to pay medical bills is the No. 1 cause of bankruptcy. We fear not being able to afford medications. Millions of people skip medications. They skip these medications to the detriment of their health. We are not free. And we won't be free until health care is a human right, until health care is not tied to a job, because we still have an employment-based system, and until health care has nothing to do with immigration status. We don't care if you are documented or undocumented. It should not matter what your health care status is, if you have a disease or you don't. It should not matter how much money you have or don't, because many of our programs are based on income eligibility rules. Until we abolish the private, for-profit health insurance industry in this county we are not free. Until we take the profit motive out of health care we cannot live in the way we want to live. This legislation doesn't do any of that. It doesn't change those basic facts of our health care system."

Redmond held up a syringe.

"I take a medication that costs $1,700 every single month," she said. "I inject this medication. It costs $425 a week for 50 milligrams of medication. I would do almost anything to get this medication because without it I don't have much of a life. The pharmaceutical industry knows this. They price these drugs accordingly to the level of desperation that people feel. Billy Tauzin, the former CEO of [the trade organization of] Big Pharma, negotiated a secret deal with President Obama to extend the patents of biologics, this new revolutionary class of drugs, for 12 years. And Obama also promised in this deal that he would not negotiate drug prices for Medicare."

Obama's numerous betrayals-from his failure to implement serious environmental reform at Copenhagen, to his expansion of the current wars, to his refusal to create jobs for our desperate class of unemployed and underemployed, to his gutting of public education, to his callous disregard for the rights of workers and funneling of trillions in taxpayer money to banks-is a shameful list. Passing universal, single-payer nonprofit health care for all Americans might have delivered to Obama, who may well be a one-term president, at least one worthwhile achievement. Single-payer nonprofit health care has widespread popular support, with nearly two-thirds of the public behind it. It is backed by 59 percent of doctors. And it would have helped roll back, at least a bit, the corporate assault on the citizenry.

Medical bills lead to 62 percent of personal bankruptcies, and nearly 80 percent of these people had insurance. The U.S. spends twice as much as other industrialized nations on health care, $8,160 per capita. Private insurance bureaucracy and paperwork consume 31 percent of every health care dollar. Streamlining payment through a single nonprofit payer would save more than $400 billion per year-enough, PNHP estimates, to provide comprehensive, high-quality coverage for all Americans.

Candidate Obama promised to protect women's rights under Roe. v. Wade, something this legislation does not do. He told voters he would create a public option and then refused to consider it. The health care reform bill, to quote a statement released by PNHP, has instead "saddled Americans with an expensive package of onerous individual mandates, new taxes on workers' health plans, countless sweetheart deals with the insurers and Big Pharma, and a perpetuation of the fragmented, dysfunctional, and unsustainable system that is taking such a heavy toll on our health and economy today."

"Obama said he was going to have everybody at the table," Redmond said, "but that was a lie. Our voice was not allowed to be there. There was a blackout on our movement. We did not get media attention. We did actions all over the country but we could not get coverage. We had the 'Mad as Hell Doctors' go across the country in a caravan, and they had rallies and meetings. If that had been a bunch of AMA Republican doctors, Cooper Anderson would have been on the caravan reporting live. NPR would have done a series. Instead, they did not get much coverage. And neither did the sit-ins and arrests at insurance companies, although we have never seen that level of activity. They turned us into a fringe movement, although poll after poll shows that the majority of people want some kind of single-payer system."

Our for-profit health system is driven by insurance companies whose goal is to avoid covering the elderly and the sick. These groups, most in need of medical care, diminish profits. Medicare, paid for by the government, removes responsibility for many of the old. Medicaid, also paid for by the government, removes the poor people, who have a greater tendency to have chronic health problems. Hefty premiums, which those who are seriously ill and lose their jobs often cannot pay, remove the very sick. If you are healthy and employed, which means you are less likely to need expensive or complex treatment, the insurance companies swoop down like birds of prey. These corporations need to control our perceptions of health care. Patients must be viewed as consumers. Doctors, identified as "health care providers," must be seen as salespeople.

Insurance companies, which will soon be able to use billions in taxpayer dollars to bolster their lobbying efforts and campaign contributions, know that single-payer nonprofit insurance means their extinction. And they will employ considerable resources to make sure single-payer nonprofit coverage is denied to the public. They correctly see this as a battle for their lives. And if human beings have to die so they can survive, they are willing to make us pay this price.

The for-profit health care industry, along with the Democratic Party, consciously set out to confuse the public debate. It created Health Care for America NOW! in 2008 and provided it with tens of millions of dollars to supposedly build a public campaign for a public option. But the organization had no intention of permitting a public option. The organization was, as Dr. Flowers said, "a very clever way to distract members of the single-payer movement and co-op some of them. They told them that the public option would become single payer, that it was a back door to single payer, although there was no evidence that was true."

Physicians for a National Health Plan attempted to fight back. It worked with a number of organizations under a coalition called the Leadership Conference for Guaranteed Health Care. The group, which included the National Nurse's Union and Health Care Now, sought meetings with members of Congress. Flowers and other advocates asked Congress members to include them in committee debates about the health care bill. But when the first debate on the health care reform took place in the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Sen. Max Baucus, a politician who gets over 80 percent of his campaign contributions from outside his home state of Montana, they were locked out. Baucus invited 41 people to testify. None backed single payer.

The Leadership Conference, which represents more than 20 million people, again requested that one of their members testify. Baucus again refused. When the second committee meeting took place, Flowers and seven other activists stood one by one in the room and asked why the voices of the patients and the health care providers were not being heard. The eight were arrested and removed from the committee hearing.

Single-payer advocates were eventually heard on a few of the House and Senate committees. But the hearings were a charade, part of Washington's cynical political theater. It was the insurance and pharmaceutical lobbyists who were in charge. They dominated the public debate. They wrote the legislation. They determined who received lavish campaign contributions and who did not. And they won.

"We are talking about life and death, about the difference between living your life and dying," Redmond said. "And once again it came down to the Democratic Party trumping the needs of the people."
(c) 2010 Chris Hedges, the former Middle East bureau chief for The New York Times, spent seven years in the Middle East. He was part of the paper's team of reporters who won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of global terrorism. He is the author of War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His latest book is, "Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle."

Growing Up Globally
By David Michael Green

God (if only there was one) only knows where the story of human development is leading next. We live in time unlike any other in history, in the sense that lightening-fast technological acceleration guarantees just one thing for sure, that the future will be very different from the present. Not very long ago, you lived and died just like your grandparents had. Tomorrow, question marks hang over everything from the continued existence of life on the planet to the very engineering of the forms it might take.

When it comes to the structure of our system of international politics, we are absolutely stuck in adolescence, complete with all the pimples, difficult growth spurts and general awkwardness that entails. The failure of the international political system to grow along side the technologies related to war, commerce, science, engineering and environmental impact represents something worse than a wholesale disaster in the making. It is a disaster that has long ago already begun to arrive.

In the era succeeding the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), Europeans transcended feudalism as a form of international organization and adopted the so-called Westphalian System, named for the place in what is today Germany where the peace agreements ending that war were declared. It is a system characterized principally by anarchy at the international level and full sovereignty at the state level. Meaning that there is no significant governmental structure above the level of countries, each of which retain full control over their own policy choices. It is, with some noteworthy but not fundamental modifications, still the structure in place on our little planet to this day, having been globalized by European colonialism and third world decolonization alike.

Whatever value such a system of largely independent states once might have had, it's become a prescription for disaster today. The reason that is the case is no different than the reason the Articles of Confederation were disastrous in late eighteenth century America. The former colonists, having won the war, were busy losing the peace through their insistence on radical decentralization of power, which inevitably led to multiple currencies, a patchwork of trade relations, inability of the central government to raise taxes or seriously conduct diplomacy abroad, and tariff wars if not nearly a real one. Many of the Founders were rightly growing embarrassed by their creation, which is why they ditched it so fast, replacing it with the Constitution drafted in Philadelphia in 1787.

They had run up against a perpetual problem of political organization that more or less exists everywhere, all the time. It is the problem of crafting polities with appropriate degrees of vertical integration. In other words, finding the most suitable balance in power-sharing questions between the units and the whole. The Europeans have been dealing with this issue for half a century at the continental level, and many states within Europe - Britain, Belgium, Spain, etc. - for longer themselves. South Asians and Nigerians have struggled over this question, as have Canadians and former Yugoslavs. This will become a major problem in Africa if the African Union grows in substance and capacity, precisely because of that growth. The United States has been grappling with this issue since before its founding, not least in the Civil War, which was fought fundamentally over this point, not slavery.

The problem is reconciling two competing simultaneous desires, for freedom and local control, on the one hand, and on the other for the conflict prevention and broad extension of fundamental principles that come from locating power and policy decisions at a more universal level. In the American context, we might think about it this way: Those of us in New York will appreciate our autonomy so that we don't have to do things the same way they do in Mississippi, and vice versa. On the other hand, if we have too much of that autonomy, we retain the capacity for armed conflict between the two states. Moreover, if we subscribe to certain fundamental human rights principles - for instance, opposition to slavery - we have to enact those laws at the national level. Allowing each state to do what it wants will mean that those principles will ultimately apply in some places only.

As mentioned above, this very same issue shows up in a zillion contexts, but it is especially relevant today in the burgeoning relationship between the nearly 200 countries of the world and the growing international sphere, as we transition from the Westphalian System to something else, under the relentless drive of globalization. At this moment, we live in a world where interaction of all sorts has gone global, but decision-making power remains local. We are sitting in the 21st century trying make our way, employing an institutional framework for governance that was literally well-suited for the 17th. The same eternal struggle between parts and whole remains to this day, only now it is less about New York and Mississippi versus the federal government as it is about America and Iran versus global institutions.

But the local rule versus universality antagonism remains just as prevalent. Do you want to make sure there is no slavery in the world? Well, then you can't leave it up to individual countries to decide. If you really want that, you have to legislate it and enforce it internationally. Do you think women everywhere should be entitled to education, employment and political power in equal measure to men? Well, you're not gonna get that if you allow each state to set its own policy. And - to expand this notion fully to the level that world federalists have dreamed about for centuries - would you like to see war ended forever? Well, you can, but doing so requires that each country give up possessing a military arsenal of any serious capacity, and that the UN or some other similar institutional expression of global governance instead maintains the overwhelming force necessary to prevent war-bent states from acting on their intentions.

The catch, of course, is the price of admission. To have a world government able to tell other states what they can and cannot do means that you have to be willing to have your state be told as well. That idea of women's rights isn't going to go down so well in Saudi Arabia. Meanwhile, a prohibition against the death penalty or the curtailment of war-making capacity will attract few fans in the US. But you can't have one without the other. So far, at least, the governments of most countries have preferred sacrificing peace and global norms of justice on the altar of state sovereignty. This should hardly come as a surprise, given that power is a zero-sum game in this context, and for every bit that is held by a world body, precisely that same amount will, by definition, have been subtracted from each national government. In other words, you can save the tuition money you would have spent on years of graduate school. You don't need a PhD in political science to appreciate why the folks who stand to lose the most oppose losing it.

Of course, nobody stands to lose more than the most powerful of countries, which goes some way toward explaining the abysmal, embarrassing record of the United States when it comes to international law and world federalism. Not all the way, though. Add in the tradition of individualism which is so much a part of American political culture, plus a certain uniquely American arrogance and bellicosity, and now you have a really toxic stew of nationalism and hostility to most any form of shared international governance that would limit our behavior.

The upshot is that no country is more messed up than the US when it comes to the question of international law and governance. The list of key international treaties to which the United States is not a party is astonishing to anyone who has spent a lifetime listening to the mythology about the "rule of law" here. Often, these fundamental, basic documents have been ratified by nearly every country in the world, but then there is the US along with Somalia and North Korea as the only scofflaws from nearly 200 countries in the world. Examples include the Kyoto Protocol, despite the fact that no one produces near the amount of greenhouse gases that we do, the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which we may soon be the only country in the world not to ratify, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, which the US is the only industrialized country not to ratify, the landmine treaty, most of the International Labor Organization Conventions, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights treaty, sometimes referred to as the "International Bill of Rights", and the Migrant Workers Convention.

Those are just for starters, but nevertheless that's quite a record for a country which claims to be all about pioneering freedom and justice and human rights. But my favorite of all is the case of the International Criminal Court. This very new global institution was created for the purpose of holding the Hitlers and Milosevics of this world accountable for their crimes against humanity. Bill Clinton, in his typical fashion, reluctantly and half-heartedly signed the Rome Statue, the ICC's founding treaty, but then did nothing with it, including failing to push for Senate ratification. George W. Bush, in his typical fashion, unsigned the United States from the Rome Statute, but then proceeded to go much further. His administration started leaning on every other country in the world, badgering them to cut bilateral agreements exempting American citizens from coverage by the Court.

Think about that for a second. That represents the United States saying that we don't want there to be a court which prosecutes people for genocide, mass war crimes, or crimes against humanity. But if there has to be such a court we will undermine it in every way conceivable, and we will use coercion to make sure that we don't have to play by its rules, and to guarantee that it can never try any American for huge crimes that shock the world's conscience. Now everybody bow and scrape before the world's great leader in the fight for freedom and human rights!

Fortunately, that was just the evil Bush administration doing what they do best, right? Well, yeah, but only if you ignore the fact that on almost every question that matters Barack Obama represents little other than George W. Bush's third term. Just last month there was the US at it again, undermining the rule of law at every possible juncture, this time under the direction of the president with the big toothy grin, not the one with the scowling smirk (meet the new boss, same as the old boss). An ICC review conference was held in Kampala to consider the idea of adding aggression to the list of crimes punishable by the Court. And there was the US, trying to block that action, or at the very least trying to make the UN Security Council (where the US has a veto) the only forum where the crime of aggression can be charged. Unfortunately for regressives everywhere, by not signing the Rome Statute, the United States lacked a vote in Kampala. But sadly, the US was nevertheless still allowed to be present and make its arguments. Fortunately, the rest of the world just blew us off again and went ahead with the new law bring aggression under its jurisdiction, and with allowing the Court to make such charges itself instead of relying on the Security Council.

Of course, one might stop for a moment and just ask the simple question, why would the United States even want to oppose trying individuals for acts of aggression that are responsible for mass death and mayhem? Hmmm, I dunno. Could Iraq have anything to do with that? Panama? Grenada? Vietnam? Actually the Court's jurisdiction is not retroactive, but you get the picture. If you are in the habit of kicking the asses of other countries whenever you feel like it, you might not like anyone curtailing your addiction.

The ICC is living testimony to the fact that the world is moving - slowly, to be sure - away from the anarchy of the classic Westphalian System, and dragging the most recalcitrant regressive reprobates (you know who we are) along with it. It's not an easy trick, in part because there is a real legitimacy to the idea of not universalizing all, or even most, policy issues, but only those which absolutely must be located at a global level, retaining the rest for national, provincial and local polities to grapple with as they individually see fit. This is the doctrine of subsidiarity, a key notion in the practice of federalism, that stipulates policy decisions should always be made at the lowest level pragmatically possible, and it's a good idea.

Thinking about even the outside possibilities of global governance in 2010 necessarily means envisioning a very weak mix when it comes to the powers of an international government. That's far less than optimal from the perspective of supporting human rights and other issues, many of which would have be universalized at a later date. But, however disappointing the partial development of a world government might be at this time, it would in fact be more than helpful if one could be created purely for purposes of dealing with the most pressing global issues of our time, including environmental crises and war. These are global problems which cannot be solved at the level of state governments, which these problems and these governments been kind enough to demonstrate over and over again.

We've already taken some steps in this direction, as both the ICC itself and its remit against crimes of aggression indicate. But, as never before in human history, the race is now on between the human capacity to destroy and human maturity to adopt mechanisms preventing such destruction.

The former is out to a very big lead so far, while the solution of global governance has hardly even begun to dent the consciousness of most people on the planet.

My guess is that we'll pay dearly for that imbalance.
(c) 2010 David Michael Green is a professor of political science at Hofstra University in New York. He is delighted to receive readers' reactions to his articles, but regrets that time constraints do not always allow him to respond. More of his work can be found at his website,

The Dead Letter Office...

Steny needs your social security funds to give to Israel!

Heil Obama,

Dear Unterfuhrer Hoyer,

Congratulations, you have just been awarded the "Vidkun Quisling Award!" Your name will now live throughout history with such past award winners as Marcus Junius Brutus, Judas Iscariot, Benedict Arnold, George Stephanopoulos, Ralph Nader, George W. Bush, George H.W. Bush, Prescott Bush, Fredo Bush, Vidkun Quisling and last year's winner Volksjudge Sonia (get whitey) Sotomayor.

Without your lock step calling for the repeal of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Your demand to raise Social Security retirement age to 70 for some while cutting others off to pay for our many illegal, forever, oil wars, i.e., Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and those many other profitable oil wars to come would have been impossible! With the help of our mutual friends, the other "Demoncratic Whores" you have made it possible for all of us to goose-step off to a brave new bank account!

Along with this award you will be given the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Golden Oak Leaves, Swords and Diamonds, presented by our glorious Fuhrer, Herr Obama at a gala celebration at "der Fuhrer Bunker," formally the "White House," on 09-05-2010. We salute you Herr Hoyer, Sieg Heil!

Signed by,
Vice Fuhrer Biden

Heil Obama

A Heap Of Broken Images
Social media and the architecture of anomie
By Phil Rockstroh

In an age, when nature is besieged and the political landscape blighted, and one stands, stoop shouldered and wincing into the howling wasteland of epic-scale idiocy extant in the era, a solitary person can feel lost ... marooned inside an increasingly isolated sense of self. Whether urban, suburban, or rural dwelling, the sense of alienation, for an individual, is profound ... as discernible to the eye as the constellations of foreclosure signs stippling overgrown front lawns across the land ... as hidden as the abandoned dreams within.

The fraying ligature of the landscape of the United States reveals an inner geography of alienation and anomie. Living on the island of Manhattan, I daily negotiate an urban layout of practical, but identity-decimating grids -- a cityscape of harsh, inhuman right angles ... a geography that renders street encounters abrupt, curt and intrusive.

After a time, one begins, by reflex, to buffer oneself against such intrusions, withdrawing inward ... becoming a self-enclosed, walking fortress, shielding oneself from the degradations of these impersonal affronts (that feel altogether personal) -- with I-Pods, Blackberries, and other vestments attendant to the muttered prayers of the self-absorbed.

While above the street -- corporate towers -- that are steel and concrete kingdoms of blind, willful ascension -- blot the skyline ... these structures flee upward, as if to escape the implications of life lived at street level and sharing in the consequences of decisions made within their sterile, insular sanctums of power and cupidity.

This is architecture as blind hubris: creations made by the hands of mortal men ... yet failing to have any connection to the ground, these buildings crowd out the real estate of the sacred. Moreover, their manic skyward thrust leaves them, and those imprisoned within, bereft of roots that reach down into the renewing loam of the earth, to where mortal vanity is delivered to dust and desperate hopes rot and transubstantiate into the compost that nourishes new life.

And blooms of renewal, I suspect, will not be found online as well. The electronic sheen of social media sites is no substitute for communal fabric. There is no animal musk nor angelic apprehensions to en-soul the flesh and tease wisdom out of obdurate will ... No matter how many restless shades want to friend you on FaceBook nor ghostly texts descend upon you in an unholy Pentecost of Tweets, online exchanges will continue to leave you restless, hollow, and yearning for the colors and cacophony of an authentic agora.

The adolescent purgatory of FaceBook -- with its castings into the Eternal Now of instant praise, acceptance, and rejection -- reflects, magnifies, and acerbates the perpetual adolescence of the contemporary culture of the United States, intensifying its shallow longings and displaced panics, its narcissistic rage and obsession with the superficial. It devours libido, by providing a pixilated facsimile of the primal dance of human endeavor, leaving one's heart churning in thwarted yearning, locked an evanescent embrace with electronic phantoms, as one, paradoxically, attempts to live out unfulfilled desires by means of hollow communion with the soul-negating source of his alienation.

One can never get enough of what one doesn't need. Ergo, the compulsions and panic of millions of hungry ghosts will hold an ongoing, hollow mass online, in a futile campaign to regain form, gain direction, and walk in meaning and beauty among the things of the world, but instead will remain imprisoned within the very system that condemned them to this fate.

And this is the place, we, as a culture, will remain, for a time. This electronic inferno will be our vale and mountaintop, our sanctuary and leviathan. We will stare baffled into its vastness, stupefied and lost within its proliferate array of depersonalizing distractions and seductions. The more we try to lose ourselves in it, by surrendering to its shimmering surface attractions, the more tightly we will become bound in the bondage of self.

Naturally, living in the grinding maw of such monsters of alienation will engulf one with ennui and angst. Moreover, the judgment of anyone claiming not to be afflicted should be regarded as suspect.

Possessed by this mode of being: we languish in a zoo of our own making where we gaze, without comprehension, at the confines of our enclosure, chew our paws, pace the cage, and are restless for mealtime. Like an animal in a cage, we are no longer what we were meant to be ... we have forgotten what it is to be alive. With the exception of superficial form, we begin to lose our affinity to what makes us recognizable as a human being and as an animal -- for we have become simply a sad thing that waits for lunch. And I defy any caged clock-watcher in a cubicle to defy that point.

Restless and agitated in our confinement, we sink further into anomie ... into the benumbing embrace of comfort zones (over-eating, anti-depressants, consumerism as emotional distraction, addiction to electronic media) where we chose safety over the truth of our being. In these cages of inauthenticity, our heart's longings and human needs are held in stasis by the perfunctory persona we cultivated for approval and acceptance; there, consigned to a barren region of mind where one is rewarded for docility and duplicity, one languishes, bereft of eros and pothos ... unconsciously self-convicted and sentenced for the crime of being a serial betrayer of one's essential self.

So much of the criteria of the modern condition has atomized us, stripped us, collectively, of ritual, purpose and meaning, and placed us in the midst of what T.S. Eliot expressed in prosody as a "heap of broken images."

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
--From: The Waste Land

There is danger, of course, in such places -- but there is also the possibility of renewal.

Personal and historical traumas leave a legacy of bewilderment. And being bewildered i.e., being in a psychic wilderness, lost, having wandered or been cast past the known horizon of experience ... is to be in position to engage the novel, be in the thrall of unfolding mystery, and wander in a soul-suffused landscape of the sublime.

A state of alienation is right where we should be: To be able to adapt to a culture dedicated to little more than finding efficient means of exploiting the hours of the greater public's lives for the benefit of a greedy few ... would be a tragedy. Living within this culture should bring on despair ... It is a leviathan that has devoured your existence. Do you think you can renovate the belly of the beast ... set up a time-share with Jonah and Pinocchio there ... and live in comfort?

Should not one stagger and stammer in mortification when shown a handful of dust?

Moreover, the solution we are offered -- making ourselves a dwelling within a prison of consumer kitsch -- should and does only bring on more anomie. Eliot wrote the following regarding a psyche attempting to adapt to a dying culture:

[...] Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I have seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.
--From: The Journey of the Magi,

One of the notions, as Rilke might put it, that is "brooding like a seed" in my psyche has been the distinction James Hillman makes between civilization and culture. Hillman avers that, and I agree, civilization is a dead thing -- an edifice of crumbling marble enshrined in an eros-devoid museum of the mind where we do little more than give empty, obligatory homage to a fossilized tableaux ... our forced reverence is but a perfunctory prayer muttered before the iconography of a dead religion; in contrast, culture is a living, breathing phenomenon of the collective mind, heart, and soul of the people within it. Its logos inhabits the very air of existence, permeating it like the sound of birdsong, and cricket and cicada stridulation throughout a high summer night.

Moreover, he avers that culture is akin to a madhouse; in fact, the solution lies in the back ward of the asylum, the area where are housed the hopeless cases. In other words, like Dante ... proceed to the place you most fear looking upon, embrace it, and hear its awful keening and heart-opening agonies. There is the location of rebirth, the last circle of hell ... retreating to a comfort zone will simply leave the situation is stasis.

So the question arises: How does one enter the soul-making shabbiness of the human condition, even though, as always, we are powerless against the trajectory of history and lost within the mad proliferation of culture -- and, as Bob Dylan limned in lyric regarding the alienation this situation evokes, "[one has] no direction home?"

Try this: embrace the bracing pain of your alienation: make a home in being lost. Gaze with wonder of upon the sacred scenery of your bewilderment ... Wandering in the wilderness is a holy state.

Wendell Berry believes such ventures to be one of the true vocations of the soul:

The Real Work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do
we have come to our real work,
and that when we no longer know which way to go
we have come to our real journey.
The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.
--Wendell Berry

In other words, in times such as ours, when we embrace our alienation then we will be welcomed home ... to share a common shelter with the multitudes who are also lost.
(c) 2010 Phil Rockstroh, is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. Visit Phil's website.

There Is No Plan For Permanently Housing The 1.9 Million Haitians Who Lost Their Homes in the Quake
By Amy Goodman and Beverly Bell

AMY GOODMAN: We're here in Haiti, on the six month anniversary of the January 12th earthquake. It's July 12th and we've gone out about 7 miles from Port-au-Prince, between Morne Cabrit and Titayene. These are two famous dumping grounds, killing grounds, that through the Duvalier years and then again during the first coup against President Aristide, 1991 to 1994, people's bodies would be dumped, between the mountains and a ways down the road. I am joined by Beverly Bell, she's taken us here. She's with "Another World" and she is a fellow with the Institute for Policy Studies. Beverly, tell us about where we are right now.

BEVERLY BELL: We are in one of the hottest parts of this whole side of Haiti. I was here today at high noon and the crushed white gravel that is underfoot in this camp is just blinding and the heat is shocking. And this is where about 10,000 people have been relocated after they were sent away from another camp in Port-au-Prince. About one in seven has been left homeless and displaced from the January 12th earthquake, and most of them have created temporary housing. Now, six months later, in the middle of earthquake season, the government's response, that is, the Haitian government and the U.S. government as well as the United Nations, has been this-has been to move people from one set of temporary housing, plastic tarps that are damaged in the wind and the rains, to another set of temporary housing. And there is absolutely no plan anywhere in the country for permanent housing for the 1.9 million people who are left victims.

AMY GOODMAN: Can you talk about where the camps are? We just passed, well, the palace that's crumbling. They haven't brought it down in six months, the earthquake started the process. But there are thousands of people in the plaza outside the palace.

BEVERLY BELL: People are living in almost every nook in a country that is densely populated and that has very little open space. People are living in ravines, they are living on sidewalks jammed up against other houses. They are creating structures out of any temporary material they can find. A lot of them, no more than four sticks and bedsheets. And they have set themselves up in impromptu camps as well, such as the one that you mentioned, down in the National Park, they're called shomas. They are all over the country looking for any lodging they can find, including out in the countryside, many have gone to the countryside and have been taken in through the kindness of strangers, small farmers. But this is the solution. These people now are two hours away from the center of town, where schools are, where health care is, where jobs are, where their family and communities are. It costs about a quarter for them to go round trip and it takes four hours round-trip. No one is providing transportation. A quarter for these folks is huge.

And no one has informed them of any plan of permanent relocation. President Preval has said that a Korean assembly shop is going to come in here as part of the U.S. and U.N. plan to expand the sweatshop industry. But this is all that people have been told about their future. If you ask them where they're going or what their future will be, they will make the Haitian sign a resignation with their hands and say we have no idea, no one's told us anything.

AMY GOODMAN: What about the free enterprise zones?

BEVERLY BELL: Four new free enterprise zones have been created since the earthquake. Both Bill Clinton, who is the special envoy to Haiti from the U.N., and Hillary Clinton, of course in her role as Secretary of State, have said that the assembly industry is the linchpin of the reconstruction plan. And yet the sweat shop workers earn $3.09 a day, which is not a livable wage, work in often terrible conditions, and are forced to live in terrible conditions as well. Many of the people who died in the earthquake were sweatshop workers who could not afford better housing than temporary makeshift structures that were on top of each other, that were on the sides of hills, that were completely unstable, which is why up to 300,000 people died during this earthquake. So, to base a reconstruction plan on the expansion of an economic sector that already has failed the people, and which is based on transient capital that can and will pick up at any given moment to move to where jobs are cheaper, is not a good solution for Haiti.

AMY GOODMAN: How many enterprise zones are there?

BEVERLY BELL: Right now there is one large one in Port-au-Prince and there is another smaller one out by the Dominican border. But there has been an effort to expand them, including, as I mentioned, putting individual sweatshops in different refugee camps.

AMY GOODMAN: The huge refugee camp in front of the palace that just grew by thousands after the earthquake, what are the plans for it?

BEVERLY BELL: I have many friends who live there and they will tell me whatever they have heard that day. But they say, you know, we don't have so much as a radio, so we don't really know. No one is communicating with them. They've been told on numerous occasions that they were going to be thrown out and moved to one location or the next. To date they remain there, but there have been other camps that have been forcibly evicted. People who lost almost everything in the earthquake worked very, very hard to find their own tents because most have not been provided to people, unlike here. Finally found tents, set themselves up in refugee camps and then the Haitian police, the anti-riot squads, sometimes accompanied by MINUSTAH, the U.N. so-called peacekeeping forces, went in and destroyed the camps and evicted people. So people have no idea where they're supposed to go or what they're supposed to do, and for the most part, they're not getting any aid. In fact, they're no longer even receiving food aid and now they have been told that even free water is going to be cut off since the Haitian businessmen who control the water have complained that their profits are being undercut.

AMY GOODMAN: Beverly Bell, what about the issue of rape in the camps?

BEVERLY BELL: The issue of rape has been horrible. There have been no good numbers kept, but there are some grass roots groups who have made an effort to compile statistics based on their residence in the camps, because these are all women who have lost their own homes. In Shoumas alone, they have said that 250 women have been raped. And that is just one camp out of hundreds.

There's only one solution, one short term solution to the rape, and that is permanent housing for people. Anyone should be free of rape at any place, but as long as women are sleeping without any walls, often without any men, or any man who wishes, any would be perpetrator, can look in and see them there, their vulnerability is tremendous. Little girls have been raped, old women have been raped. It's just an ever spiraling phenomenon as poverty and alienation continues and no solution is in sight. The international community has done very little about it. The U.N. has talked a lot, but has responded in a very paltry way. But really the only solution is housing for these people, where they can go in at night and lock their doors and feel secure within their own home.

AMY GOODMAN: What are your observations on this sixth month anniversary of the earthquake?

BEVERLY BELL: One piece that is largely left out of the story is that there really is an alternative. Haitians here use the term "another Haiti is possible." And in fact, literally beginning the week of the earthquake, peasant movements, women movements, democracy movements, grass-roots movements of all sorts began meeting together and planning what they view as an alternative development plan that would be based on equity and justice and participation, democratically by all, both in the construction of the plan as well as who develops from it.

Right now they have been completely excluded from the process, but they are asking both for power, to have a say in their own future, as well as the space to build a future country that is not based on being a source of cheap labor for U.S. goods that are purchased, you know, at low cost from abroad. But to have an economy that is based on the re-valurization of peasant agriculture. Remember that 60 to 80 percent of Haitians are still farmers, unlike any other country in the Americas, Haiti still has a majority population that still wants to grow. They are asking that social needs be met for all. They are asking for rights and security for women and children. They are asking for their voices to be a critical part of any process. And if they are given the power to allow this to come forth, there is a whole nation of people waiting to reconstruct a country that looks nothing like the country that was destroyed, because the country that was destroyed largely on January 12th served very few and only a very few have an interest in seeing that coming back.
(c) 2010 Amy Goodman is the host of "Democracy Now!," a daily international TV/radio news hour airing on 750 stations in North America. She is the co-author of "Standing Up to the Madness: Ordinary Heroes in Extraordinary Times," recently released in paperback.
(c) 2010 Beverly Bell first went to Haiti as a teenager. Since then she has dedicated most of her life to working for democracy, women's rights, and economic justice in that country. She founded or co-founded six organizations and networks dedicated exclusively to supporting the Haitian people, including the Lambi Fund of Haiti. She worked for both presidents Jean-Bertrand Aristide and Rene Preval and wrote Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance (Cornell University Press, 2001). Today she is associate fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies and runs the economic justice group Other Worlds.

The Cartoon Corner...

This edition we're proud to showcase the cartoons of
~~~ Monty Wolverton ~~~

To End On A Happy Note...

Cheyenne Anthem
By Kansas

From the mountains to the sun
Life has only just begun
We wed this land and pledged
Our souls to meet it's end

Life has only just begun
Here my people roam the earth
In the kingdom of our birth
Where the dust of all our horses hides the sun
We are mighty on the earth, on the earth

You have come to move me
Take me from my ancient home
Land of my fathers I can't leave you now
But we will share it with you
No man owns this earth we're on

Now the wheels are rolling
Hear the howling winds of war
It's my destiny to fight and die
But is there no solution
Can we find no other way,
Lord, let me stay

Under the endless sky
And the earth below
Here I was born to live
And I will never go, away

But we cannot endure
Like the earth and the mountains
Life is not ours to keep
For a new sun is rising

Soon these days shall pass away
For our freedom we must pay
All our words and deeds are carried on the wind
In the ground our bodies lay, here we'll stay
(c) 1976/2010 Kansas

Have You Seen This...

Parting Shots...

Is Soccer A Sin?



Recently, Baptist missionaries have brought it to the attention of American Baptists that the uncivilized country of Africa has invited soccer teams from every other uncivilized country in the world to come visit them in the southernmost tip of their filthy continent to compete in a so-called "World Cup Competition."

Baptist researchers have learned that the Africans even had the audacity to invite Americans (civilized people) to their competition, and make them compete with England (formerly civilized people). This arrangement was made in order to make the so-called "sport" of soccer appear "credible" to civilized people. No doubt they will fix the game so that both teams "tie" their first match, making everyone just as happy as a hell-bound homo.

As researchers at the Landover Baptist Institute for the Enforcement of Biblical Morality learned more about the World Cup Competition, they were given permission to turn on a secular television station other than Fox News for research purposes. After the initial shock of seeing more hairy naked legs than any of them would have seen in a lifetime, it became obvious that the sport of Soccer was rapidly growing in popularity among civilized Americans. As such, it was apparent that the Landover Baptist Church must once again come to the rescue of American decency by using valuable web-server space to host a page where we do nothing but repeat simple facts that should be obvious to every God fearing American.

Shocking Facts About Soccer:

* Soccer promotes Socialist and Communist values. Every little sissy boy on each team is treated equally and functions a part of a "group" (or ideological socio-economic system). They all do the same monotonous thing - kick the ball and run. There is no room on a soccer team for individuality.

* Soccer players wear short pants and expose nakedness up to 6 hairy inches above their thighs. This can cause other players or those watching the sport who are weak in the flesh to lust and sin in their hearts.

* 95% Of the people who watch Soccer are European, also known as "Alcoholics." The only way a human being can sit through an entire match of this boring sport is to be drunk! And that is just plain SAD! Satan just loves it!

* Testicles often flop out of soccer players shorts while they are running. Women and children watching the game are exposed to this! In most soccer playing nations it might be normal for people in the jungle to run around naked, but this is happening on American television and it must be stopped!

* FIFA renamed Soccer, "Football" after seeing how popular American Football is. They in fact illegally "stole" the name, "Football" from Americans without even asking permission from the NFL.

* At the slightest contact, soccer players fall down and roll around on the ground, wincing like yellow-bellied cowards hoping someone will come and touch their naked legs so they can get a cheap thrill.

* It is an outward (physical) manifestation of ignorance and stupidity to only use one's feet while playing a sport.

* Soccer games are often finished with a "tied game." This is a complete waste of precious time and it shows that there is no merit to the game at all. Even a Mexican or a retarded person knows that a game always ends with a winner or a loser!

* Soccer is a sport that is completely obsessed with human feet. Although the feet are covered by shoes, players often slap at each others feet in a fetished frenzy. Soccer actually evolved from the English game "Let's Play Footsie!" which is still played by Nancy schoolboys all over England. Baptist research indicates that "Playing Footsie" often leads powder-puff little gay daisy boys into choosing to participate in an even more dangerous game later in life. That game is called, "Sodomy!"

* Many soccer players grow their hair long, to appear like women - which is a sin.

* There is no room on a soccer team for anyone to feel like they are left behind, or not participating like a Godly outfielder in baseball. Being "Left Behind" is paramount to promoting American Christian values (see the entire book of Revelations). If there is no one left behind, the Bible becomes irrelevant.

* Soccer coaches are not required to read from the Bible and pray to the Lord Jesus Christ before each game.

* As we already know, male followers of Mohammed consider it normal for men to wear gowns and ankle length skirts like their women. These men, will take off their dresses and put on short pants to participate in the game of soccer. This very act exposes yet another one of Islam's countless hypocrisies.

Help Us Stop Soccer From Being Played in America

As True Christians(tm) it is our God ordained duty from Heaven to expose ignorance in all of its forms. It is our prayer that one day soon the United States will ban the sport of "Soccer" from being played on American Christian soil. In addition, it is our heartfelt hope that one day America will cease giving aid to any nation on earth who insists on participating in the game of Soccer.

Please call your local Baptist Church Pastor or Tea Party representative to see how you can get involved!
(c) 2010 The Landover Baptist Church

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