Sunday, November 26, 2006

Sunday Night

If you're like me, nearly all the current music played on radio stations, across the spectrum, makes you want to throw up. [Im not talking about all current music here, just the shit they play on radio]. Some songs especially (Justin Timberlake?) leave you completely baffled as to how anyone could consider it music, let alone enjoy listening to it.

For your viewing pleasure, I suggest maximizing the video underneath (click on the video, it takes you to the YouTube website and plays it again, then click on the button to the right of the volume control, it will make the video full screen.)

Enjoy the legend and, in my opinion, a presentation of what music truly is and always should be.

So set it up, Joe. I've got a story, you oughta know...

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

How many times can a man turn his head, and pretend that he just doesnt see?

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- Backed by U.S.-led coalition advisers, Iraqi security forces battled insurgents early Tuesday in Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, the U.S. military said.

At least five people were killed in the fighting, including a mother and her 8-month-old child, and 18 others were wounded, an Iraqi Health Ministry official said.

A Shiite legislator, holding the dead child's body, told reporters outside a hospital morgue that the Iraqi government should be denounced for allowing such attacks, The Associated Press reported.

"I am suspending my membership in parliament since it remains silent about crimes such as this against the Iraqi people," said Saleh Al-Ukailli, according to AP. "I will not return to parliament until the occupation troops leave the country."

Thinking back to 9/11 and the horror and traumization our nation felt at the death of 3,000 Americans; I wonder what Iraqi's think at the death of 600,000 Iraqi's during this war, not to mention the 500,000 killed during the genocidal sanctions regime the US imposed on the Iraqi people. With a low-scale civil war going in Iraq, in addition to resistance to our occupation and strong anti-war sentiment at home, the Bush Administration has decided to... escalate the war. A vast majority of the Iraqis want us to leave now and support attacks on US troops. There is no question, no moral reason we should be there if we are not wanted. Bush response? More troops, more guns, more bombs. Luckily for all of us here in the United States the press practices amazing self-censorship so when your tax money goes to murdering civilians, brown civilians who arnt even Christian and speak some bizarre language, its not a big deal. After all K-Fed and Britney are getting divorced, TomKat just got married. Compared to that, killing over half a million people (and more everyday) is not a big deal.

I think the words of Thomas Jefferson best sum up my feeling toward the United States. "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever."

A shift in elite opinion?

I read a rather bizarre article in the NYT this morning regarding illegal Israel annexations of the West Bank. It was strange in many different ways. For one thing the New York Times never reports this time of thing, although it was not correctly reported anyway. The context of the illegality of Israeli colonies on the West Bank is that they are illegal under Israeli law. Because in the American media, international law is unheard of, no matter what the subject. Even Israeli papers widely discuss things in the context of international law. For example Israel is building a massive wall in the West Bank they say is for security reasons to block suicide bombers. Except, the wall isnt along the Israeli/West Bank border. It goes INSIDE the west bank, twists and curves, trapping thousands and thousands of Palestinians on the Israeli side. Like if the US built a security wall to block Mexicans from coming in, but we built the wall turned into Mexico and wrapped around Mexican cities, putting them on OUR side. It just doesnt make sense. Its widely acknowledged in the Israeli and world press that this is obviously an annexation scheme. Thats not mentioned in American media. The World Court ruled it illegal because its not ON the border, reported in Israeli and world press, not American. Finally the Israeli Supreme Court ruled it illegal (and ordered the route somewhat adjusted), also reported everywhere but the American media. So this article today in the NYT, while very much misreported, is still suprising that its reported. I'll give a brief summary and the context.

It starts off with "An Israeli advocacy group, using maps and figures leaked from inside the government, says that 39 percent of the land held by Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is privately owned by Palestinians." First, applause for Peace Now, one of many Israeli advocacy groups (Gush Shalom, Jews for Peace) that protest government policies in the Palestinian Territories. They are almost entirely ignored in American media but their newsletters are free to everyone and highly informative.

Second, a correction. The problem, according to the NYT, is that 39% of land Israeli settlements on the West Bank is owned by Palestinians, which (as the article says) is illegal. What it does not say is that its illegal under Israeli law. What Peace Now has been saying for a long time, and what is reported everywhere in the world and something everyone except Americans know, is that 100% of the land Israeli "settlements" occupy is illegal under international law. You cannot confiscate land and build on it. The "settlements" are illegal colonies. They are not only illegal under international law but the daily expansion of them is illegal under the "Road Map".

Here is one of the most interesting parts in the article:

"Mr. Olmert says Israel will keep some 10 percent of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, possibly in a swap for land elsewhere. The area Israel intends to keep is roughly marked by the route of the unfinished separation barrier, which cuts through the West Bank and is intended, Israel says, to stop suicide bombers. Mr. Olmert, however, describes it as a putative border."
Lets take a closer look. "Mr. Olmert says Israel will keep some 10 percent of the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, possibly in a swap for land elsewhere." The idea of Israel taking part of the West Bank in exchange for a land swap elsewhere has been widely discussed by Israelis and Palestinians. There were intense negotiations at Taba in 2000-01 which led to an unofficial delegation of high ranking Israelis and Palestinians coming up with the "Geneva Accords" that propose such a solution, which is widely accepted by most of the world, which was widely reported everywhere, except, of course, for the US. But the far-right "Kadima" party (which everyone knows is really Likud) does not want to negotiate with the Palestnians and Mr Olmert would prefer to unilaterally draw the final borders. Which is why the United States and Israel are involved in a sick collective punishment of Gaza currently. Gaza, for those who dont know, is right now cut off from the world by land, air and sea. The electricity grid has been out of order since it was bombed in June, meaning clean water is also a rareity. The United States effectively got the world to cut off all financial aid so the Gazan people are not only starving, but they have no government services (ie garbage collection.) And while the Gaza strip is only 15 miles long (one of the most densely populated areas in the world) the Israeli air force feels the need to fly super-sonic jets over the area every night, causing massive sonic booms at 2am, smashing windows and traumatizing children. It is important to mention that there are still terrorist groups in Gaza that have been able to fire rockets into civilian areas of Israel . But I personally dont believe 1.5 million Palestinian civilians should be punished for it (collective punishment is also illegal under international law.)
3. "The area Israel intends to keep is roughly marked by the route of the unfinished separation barrier, which cuts through the West Bank and is intended, Israel says, to stop suicide bombers. Mr. Olmert, however, describes it as a putative border. " You have to be kidding me. The "separation barier" (a massive wall) roughly marks the land Israel intends to keep but is intended to stop suicide bombers? What WHAT a coicidence that the massive wall which goes into the west bank, to stop suicide bombers, also demarcates the future border of Israel. What a concidence thats so weird. Only the NYT
3. "Nearly 80,000 Jews live in settlements beyond the route of the barrier, but some 180,000 live in settlements within the barrier, while another 200,000 live in East Jerusalem." OK, and what about the Palestinians? 12,000 are trapped on the ISRAELI side because the wall (its commonly known as the apartheid wall) goes into the west bank. In 2004 a report was done to research the effects the wall had on these Palestinians, "researched and written by a team of experts under the direction of the Local Aid Coordination Committee’s (LACC) Humanitarian and Emergency Policy Group, which includes the European Union, Norway, the United States, the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, and the World Bank."
The report concluded "When completed, as many as approximately 12,000 Palestinians could be left on the western, Israel-facing side of the wall, cut-off from their land, workplaces and essential social services...In addition, the Government of Israel states that the construction of the wall is a temporary measure but its extent, nature and cost and, in particular its location inside the West Bank and east of the Green Line suggest to Palestinians that the project has more permanent implications...The report notes that the 1995 Interim Agreement between the two sides states that neither party “will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations” and that “the integrity and status” of the West Bank and Gaza Strip “will be preserved during the interim period.” It adds that Israel argues that the wall is a temporary measure and therefore compatible with the Agreement." Notice how none of this is mentioned in the NYT article.
Lastly the NYT provides a map of the West Bank showing scattered illegal Israeli settlements throughout the land (it seems to me a lot are missing too). It fails to mention one crucial aspect of this. While these settlements are scattered all throughout the west bank, they are all actually connected. Special Israeli Only roads and highways connect every single one of them. If a Palestinian wishes to cross one of them to say, go to the hospital, they must wait at a checkpoint, which arnt always open, and which may have an hours long wait. This is why people refer to the "Bantustanization" of the West Bank (Bantustans were apartheid villages in South Africa).
But in the end its nice the NYT published this article at all, and cheers to the efforts of the Israeli Peace Groups who put this on the table. Hopefully a resolution will come soon, although I sincerely doubt it will come with George Bush and Ehud Olmert in power. But who knows, stranger things have happened.

Friday, November 17, 2006

How I learned to start worrying about the bomb

I Read the News Today, Oh Boy

Anyone who was worried that a new Democratic Senate might change the twisted and dangerous bi-partisan foreign policy consensus that posesses the United States halls of power need not worry. Although the changing of the guard does not take place until January, a recent (horrible) bill recently passed the US Senate with a majority of Democratic Senators voting Yes; and and even larger majority of Democratic Senators voted against a pretty important amendment to that bill. I'll briefly explain:

In 1945 the US was the only country that had the atom bomb. By the end of the 60's, six states had the bomb (UK, France, China, USSR, Israel, USA). And a lot of countries were racing to get the bomb, so it was generally accepted that soon almost every country would have a nuclear weapon. So they came up with something called the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Every single country in the world (except for Pakistan, India and Israel) signed it. It had three main components:

1. Every country signing that does not have the bomb hereby promises not to try and get the bomb.

2. Every country signing that already has the bomb hereby promises to take full faith measures to reduce and eventually eliminate their stockpiles of nuclear bombs

3. Everyone, nuclear and non-nuclear states, has the "inalienable right" to a nuclear energy program. [And yes this includes uranium-enrichment]

So anyway, "nuclear proliferation" (spread of nuclear weapons), has become a bit of a problem lately. Bush said this was the #1 danger the US faces. So what has he done to stop it? First he announced North Korea, Iran and Iraq were in an axis of evil, then illegally invaded Iraq (a straight out war crime) but appeased North Korea once it announced he had the bomb. Well now Iran (which is frequently threatened by the US and Israel) has a nuclear energy program (that everyone assumes is actually to make a bomb.) Well, the smartest thing Iran could do at this point is to develop a nuclear weapon, almost everyone acknowledges this. Even Israel's leading military historian, Martin Van Creveld, recently wrote "Obviously, we don't want Iran to have nuclear weapons and I don't know if they're developing them, but if they're not developing them, they're crazy."

Iraq, Iran, India. India never signed the NPT and developed a nuclear bomb on its own. Since they did that the US, like most states, has taken certain measures to make it clear that its not cool that India just went out and got itself a bomb (as to discourage others.) Well that was erased last year when Bush went to India and signed an agreement that said the US would send vast amounts of nuclear material to India (such as enriched uranium) for their "civilian" energy program. Well India does in fact have a large scale civilian nuclear energy program, which requires large amounts of nuclear material, leaving only a little bit left for their military program. However, since now the US is providing everything they need for their civilian energy program, that means India has a shitload left over to begin a mass-scale nuclear weapons program.

Its a stab in the heart for nuclear proliferation. The US is doing this because they want to court India as a stragetic partner as a counterweight to China. But the effects of this are profound. Everyone else in the world (except for Pakistan and Israel) followed the rules and signed this treaty. Everyone in the treaty, including nuclear-states, agreed that nuclear weapons are bad, they should not be spread, and we should not only prevent an increase but start to decrease them and eventually get rid of them altogether. But one of the 3 countries that ignored this rule and developed its own bomb is.... being rewarded and provided with everything they need to massively INCREASE their nuclear weapons program!

However Bush cant just sign these deals and make them effective. It must pass the Senate. And it did, yesterday, overwhelmingly. Here are the people who voted against it:

Akaka (D-HI)Bingaman (D-NM)Boxer (D-CA)Byrd (D-WV)
Conrad (D-ND)Dayton (D-MN)Dorgan (D-ND)Feingold (D-WI)
Harkin (D-IA)Johnson (D-SD)Kennedy (D-MA)Leahy (D-VT)

Yeah Kennedy! Anyway, it gets better. Now, Im sure you are wondering what Iran is thinking about this (what Pakistan thinks is a whole other topic.) Iran, like everyone else, signed a treaty saying it would not develop nuclear weapons but has the inalienable right to a nuclear energy program. And yet they are surrounded by the nuclear armed United States military in almost every country they border, have US Fleets doing "exercises" right off their coast, and are openly being threatened by the US and Israel; all for a 'peaceful' nuclear program that they are legally entitled to. Yes of course its bullshit and they are probably trying to get the bomb, but I might add they keep saying they'll give up their program if the US will just PROMISE NOT TO INVADE THEIR COUNTRY! The US refuses to make that promise. But it does promise that it will ship assloads of nuclear material to India. Well. Hm.

So now turning to the best part of this all. India has relations with Iran. Not only diplomatic, but military relations (ie trade deals, joint exercises, etc.) So yesterday Senator Barbara Boxer proposed attaching this amendment to the nuclear deal with India. The text reads as follows:

"To make the waiver authority of the President contingent upon a certification that India has agreed to suspend military-to-military cooperation with Iran, including training exercises, until such time as Iran is no longer designated as a state sponsor of terrorism. "

The amendment was REJECTED, 38 - 59. And it was NOT a party line vote. The amendment was supported by everyone from Ted Kennedy to fucking Rick Santorum! And still got rejected! I've said it once and I'll say it again; nuclear proliferation is not a priority for the US government. Not just Bush, but the fucking senate too!

The US does not play but the rules. It wants to run the world through force. It wishes make countries stay in line by keeping them in a constant state of fear that they will be attacked by the US if they dare defy it. The US is running the world like a mafia don. And I might add threatening violence for political purposes is TERRORISM, thats the definition, according to the US Army field manual. Iran must be punished because they do not cave into what the US says, and they held our embassy hostage for 444 days in 1979-80. No matter that we overthrew their parliament and installed a murderous dictator that held their COUNTRY hostage for 25 years.

So India gets to make as many bombs as it wants because they are a strategic partner that will counterweight China and Russia. Iran needs to be punished for being a bad boy and is desparately trying to develop a nuclear bomb so the US does not attack (widely recognized by the US foreign policy elite as the reason for Iran's nuclear program). But the US wont promise were not going to attack, even if they give up their program. So why the hell should they?