March 3, 2006

Robert Fisk shares his Middle East knowledge
Reporter: Tony Jones
---snip---

TONY JONES: Now, unless you've changed your position in recent days, the one thing that you and President Bush agree on is there's not going to be a civil war in Iraq.

ROBERT FISK: Yeah, I listened to Bush. It made me doubt myself when I heard him say that. I still go along and say what I said before - Iraq is not a sectarian society, but a tribal society. People are intermarried. Shiites and Sunnis marry each other. It's not a question of having a huge block of people here called Shiites and a huge block of people called Sunnis any more than you can do the same with the United States, saying Blacks are here and Protestants are here and so on. But certainly, somebody at the moment is trying to provoke a civil war in Iraq. Someone wants a civil war. Some form of militias and death squads want a civil war. There never has been a civil war in Iraq. The real question I ask myself is: who are these people who are trying to provoke the civil war? Now the Americans will say it's Al Qaeda, it's the Sunni insurgents. It is the death squads. Many of the death squads work for the Ministry of Interior. Who runs the Ministry of Interior in Baghdad? Who pays the Ministry of the Interior? Who pays the militia men who make up the death squads? We do, the occupation authorities. I'd like to know what the Americans are doing to get at the people who are trying to provoke the civil war. It seems to me not very much. We don't hear of any suicide bombers being stopped before they blow themselves up. We don't hear of anybody stopping a mosque getting blown up. We're not hearing of death squads all being arrested. Something is going very, very wrong in Baghdad. Something is going wrong with the Administration. Mr Bush says, "Oh, yes, sure, I talk to the Shiites and I talk to the Sunnis." He's talking to a small bunch of people living behind American machine guns inside the so-called Green Zone, the former Republican palace of Saddam Hussein, which is surrounded by massive concrete walls like a crusader castle. These people do not and cannot even leave this crusader castle. If they want to leave to the airport, they're helicoptered to the airport. They can't even travel on the airport road. What we've got at the moment is a little nexus of people all of whom live under American protection and talk on the telephone to George W Bush who says, "I've been talking to them and they have to choose between chaos and unity." These people can't even control the roads 50 metres from the Green Zone in which they work. more...

March 2, 2006

Bush in India: Just Not Welcome
by Arundhati Roy

On his triumphalist tour of India and Pakistan, where he hopes to wave imperiously at people he considers potential subjects, President Bush has an itinerary that's getting curiouser and curiouser.

For Bush's March 2 pit stop in New Delhi, the Indian government tried very hard to have him address our parliament. A not inconsequential number of MPs threatened to heckle him, so Plan One was hastily shelved. Plan Two was to have Bush address the masses from the ramparts of the magnificent Red Fort, where the Indian prime minister traditionally delivers his Independence Day address. But the Red Fort, surrounded as it is by the predominantly Muslim population of Old Delhi, was considered a security nightmare. So now we're into Plan Three: President George Bush speaks from Purana Qila, the Old Fort.

Ironic, isn't it, that the only safe public space for a man who has recently been so enthusiastic about India's modernity should be a crumbling medieval fort?

Since the Purana Qila also houses the Delhi zoo, George Bush's audience will be a few hundred caged animals and an approved list of caged human beings, who in India go under the category of "eminent persons." They're mostly rich folk who live in our poor country like captive animals, incarcerated by their own wealth, locked and barred in their gilded cages, protecting themselves from the threat of the vulgar and unruly multitudes whom they have systematically dispossessed over the centuries. more...

March 1, 2006

Baghdad Burning
Monday, February 27, 2006  

Volatile Days...
The last few days have been unsettlingly violent in spite of the curfew. We‚ve been at home simply waiting it out and hoping for the best. The phone wasn‚t working and the electrical situation hasn‚t improved. We are at a point, however, where things like electricity, telephones and fuel seem like minor worries. Even complaining about them is a luxury Iraqis can‚t afford these days.

The sounds of shooting and explosions usually begin at dawn, at least that‚s when I first sense them, and they don‚t really subside until well into the night. There was a small gunfight on the main road near our area the day before yesterday, but with the exception of the local mosque being fired upon, and a corpse found at dawn three streets down, things have been relatively quiet. more...

**********

Mardi Gras 2006
As partying resumes, struggle to recover and return continues
by CC Campbell-Rock

„When you go to New Orleans, you ought to go see the Mardi Gras. When you get to New Orleans, somebody will show you what Carnival‚s for.š – „Go to the Mardi Grasš by Professor Longhair (Henry Roeland Byrd)

The late great Professor Longhair, a pianist, songwriter and singer, whose combination of R&B, jazz and Latin rumba-style piano riffs helped create a new genre of music in the birthplace of jazz – „Carnival musicš – must be turning over in his grave.

While the few who are in New Orleans try to breathe life into a dead city and jumpstart the heartbeat of its economy via Mardi Gras, the devastation caused by the levee breaches remains, casting a long shadow over the once great Crescent City. As they scramble for beads and trinkets during the greatest free show on earth, few remember that a living legend, one of the nation‚s most renowned musical artists, Antoine „Fatsš Domino, who turns 78 on „Fat Tuesdayš aka Mardi Gras, Feb. 28, has no home to return to. more...

February 28, 2006

When Americans No Longer Own America
by Thom Hartmann

The Dubai Ports World deal is waking Americans up to a painful reality: So-called "conservatives" and "flat world" globalists have bankrupted our nation for their own bag of silver, and in the process are selling off America.

Through a combination of the "Fast Track" authority pushed for by Reagan and GHW Bush, sweetheart trade deals involving "most favored nation status" for dictatorships like China, and Clinton pushing us into NAFTA and the WTO (via GATT), we've abandoned the principles of tariff-based trade that built American industry and kept us strong for over 200 years.

The old concept was that if there was a dollar's worth of labor in a pair of shoes made in the USA, and somebody wanted to import shoes from China where there may only be ten cents worth of labor in those shoes, we'd level the playing field for labor by putting a 90-cent import tariff on each pair of shoes. Companies could choose to make their products here or overseas, but the ultimate cost of labor would be the same.

Then came the flat-worlders, led by misguided true believers and promoted by multinational corporations. Do away with those tariffs, they said, because they "restrain trade." Let everything in, and tax nothing. The result has been an explosion of cheap goods coming into our nation, and the loss of millions of good manufacturing jobs and thousands of manufacturing companies. Entire industry sectors have been wiped out.

These policies have kneecapped the American middle class. Our nation's largest employer has gone from being the unionized General Motors to the poverty-wages Wal-Mart. Americans have gone from having a net savings rate around 10 percent in the 1970s to a minus .5 percent in 2005 - meaning that they're going into debt or selling off their assets just to maintain their lifestyle. At the same time, federal policy has been to do the same thing at a national level. Because our so-called "free trade" policies have left us with an over $700 billion annual trade deficit, other countries are sitting on huge piles of the dollars we gave them to buy their stuff (via Wal-Mart and other "low cost" retailers). But we no longer manufacture anything they want to buy with those dollars. more...

February 27, 2006

Defeat is victory. Death is life
By Robert Fisk

Everyone in the Middle East rewrites history, but never before have we had a US administration so wilfully, dishonestly and ruthlessly reinterpreting tragedy as success, defeat as victory, death as life - helped, I have to add, by the compliant American press. I'm reminded not so much of Vietnam as of the British and French commanders of the First World War who repeatedly lied about military victory over the Kaiser as they pushed hundreds of thousands of their men through the butchers' shops of the Somme, Verdun and Gallipoli. The only difference now is that we are pushing hundreds of thousands of Arabs though the butchers' shops - and don't even care.

Last week's visit to Beirut by one of the blindest of George Bush's bats - his Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice - was indicative of the cruelty that now pervades Washington. She brazenly talked about the burgeoning "democracies" of the Middle East while utterly ignoring the bloodbaths in Iraq and the growing sectarian tensions of Lebanon, Egypt and Saudi Arabia. Perhaps the key to her indifference can be found in her evidence to the Senate Committee on International Affairs where she denounced Iran as "the greatest strategic challenge" facing the US in the region, because Iran uses policies that "contradict the nature of the kind of Middle East sought by the United States". more...

February 26, 2006

Speak for Yourself
by Cindy Sheehan  

While we were camping out in hot and humid Crawford, Texas last August, trying to meet with George Bush and trying to end the war, a right-wing organization called Move America Forward (to oblivion?) started a bus tour called: Cindy, You Don't Speak for Me.

Move America Forward does some nice things, like sending coffee to our troops. It is unfortunate for the families of the almost 2300 killed troops that the organization doesn't send non-defective ( http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/7794557/bodyarmor), GPS devices, or IED jammers to save the lives of the troops that have been put in harm's way for the politicians' lies and cowardice and corporate greed. I think these things would be a little more useful than coffee.

Move America Forward has every right to exist and to express their views. However, the organization claims to be "...a non-partisan, not-for-profit organization committed to supporting America's efforts to defeat terrorism and supporting the brave men and women of our Armed Forces." When in all actuality MAF supports George Bush's war of terror against the world and against America. And if Move America Forward is non-partisan, then I am the darling of the White House.

I truly don't believe that sending coffee to our troops and putting yellow "Support our Troops" magnets on cars is supporting the troops. more...

February 25, 2006

The Better Choice in Ohio
JOHN NICHOLS

Paul Hackett, the Iraq War veteran who became a hero of the blogosphere and a hot political property after he came close to grabbing a House seat away from the Republicans in an Ohio special election last summer, has left the race for a Senate seat Democrats desperately want to win in November with a shot at party leaders that resonated with a lot of progressives around the country.
---snip---

Hackett was not the strongest candidate in the Democratic primary race, and he certainly wasn't the strongest progressive. With the filing deadline for the May Democratic primary rapidly approaching, Hackett was confronted with new numbers from his own pollster that showed Brown ahead among likely voters by an almost 2-to-1 margin--46 percent for the Congressman to 24 percent for Hackett. The poll revealed that despite Hackett's full-time campaigning since last fall while Brown was tied up in Washington leading the fight against the Central American Free Trade Agreement and other Administration follies, Hackett had made few inroads among Democrats outside his southern Ohio base. Hackett has had a hard time convincing most Ohio Democrats--particularly liberal voters in the northern Ohio counties, where the party is strongest--that he would be a bolder or better candidate than Brown, who's a passionate critic of the Administration's rush to war and one of Congress's ablest critics of corporate excess. more...

**********

Baghdad Burning
Thursday, February 23, 2006  

Tensions...

Things are not good in Baghdad.

---snip---

There‚s so much talk of civil war and yet, with the people I know- Sunnis and Shia alike- I can hardly believe it is a possibility. Educated, sophisticated Iraqis are horrified with the idea of turning against each other, and even not-so-educated Iraqis seem very aware that this is a small part of a bigger, more ominous plan∑

Several mosques have been taken over by the Mahdi militia and the Badir people seem to be everywhere. Tomorrow no one is going to work or college or anywhere.

People are scared and watchful. We can only pray. more...
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Klezmatics

Klezmatics concert photos. (These are uncorrected straight out out of the camera)

On April 3, 2005, Barbara and I went to see the Klezmatics, with guest Joshua Nelson, Jewish gospel singer. To quote the concert program, "Their soul-stirring Jewish roots music recreates klezmer in arrangements and compostions that combine Jewish identity and mysticism with a contemporary zeitgeist and a postmodern aesthetic. Since their founding in New York City's East Village in 1986, the Klezmatics have celebrated the ecstatic nature of Yiddish music with works by turn wild, spiritual, provocative, reflective and danceable." The concert was phenomenal.

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