May 31, 2006

Barbara and I are going on a vacation that I have been wanting to take for many years. We are leaving for Australia tonight and will be back toward the end of June. Watch for my return; I hope to have lots of photos.

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Noam Chomsky: Why it's over for America

An inability to protect its citizens. The belief that it is above the law. A lack of democracy. Three defining characteristics of the 'failed state'. And that, says Noam Chomsky, is exactly what the US is becoming. In an exclusive extract from his devastating new book, America's leading thinker explains how his country lost its way

One commonly hears that carping critics complain about what is wrong, but do not present solutions. There is an accurate translation for that charge: "They present solutions, but I don't like them." In addition to the proposals that should be familiar about dealing with the crises that reach to the level of survival, a few simple suggestions for the United States have already been mentioned: 1) accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and the World Court; 2) sign and carry forward the Kyoto protocols; 3) let the UN take the lead in international crises; 4) rely on diplomatic and economic measures rather than military ones in confronting terror; 5) keep to the traditional interpretation of the UN Charter; 6) give up the Security Council veto and have "a decent respect for the opinion of mankind," as the Declaration of Independence advises, even if power centres disagree; 7) cut back sharply on military spending and sharply increase social spending. For people who believe in democracy, these are very conservative suggestions: they appear to be the opinions of the majority of the US population, in most cases the overwhelming majority. They are in radical opposition to public policy. To be sure, we cannot be very confident about the state of public opinion on such matters because of another feature of the democratic deficit: the topics scarcely enter into public discussion and the basic facts are little known. In a highly atomised society, the public is therefore largely deprived of the opportunity to form considered opinions. more...

May 30, 2006

Marine 'Massacre' in al-Haditha:
Eye Witness Report

From Ali Hamdani in al-Haditha and Ned Parker in Baghdad

GRAPHIC accounts of the apparent slaughter of unarmed civilians have been obtained by The Times as Washington braces itself for the results of an investigation into what threatens to be the most damaging military scandal in Iraq.

On Saturday Iman Hassan, a 10-year-old Iraqi girl, told The Times how she had watched US marines kill her mother, father, grandmother, grandfather, four-year-old cousin and two uncles.

Residents in the insurgent stronghold of al-Haditha have now stepped forward to corroborate elements of Iman‚s story and to describe to The Times the murder of a second family, which included five children, the youngest of whom were two and three years old.

The events threaten to land a major blow to the US military‚s reputation in Iraq. more...

May 29, 2006

A Constitutional Right to Graft?
The Moral Rot in Congress
By LAWRENCE R. VELVEL

We are currently being "treated" to more of the moral rot that infests both political parties and, consequently, to yet another example of why a third party is desperately needed. I speak, of course, of the spectacle of the bitter outrage expressed by Congressional members of both political parties over the FBI's search of the office of Congressman William Jefferson. (Too bad it wasn't the office of William Jefferson Clinton, isn't it?) The search was done on a quiet Saturday night (and all night). That is scheming and bad.

But it was also done pursuant to a court authorized warrant, after Jefferson had refused to comply with subpoenas, after he had been caught on tape, says the FBI, accepting a $100,000 bribe, after the FBI found most of the money in a freezer in his home, after Jefferson has become suspected of taking hundreds of thousands of dollars more in bribes, and at a time when, it has become obvious, Congress has become an utter cesspool of corruption, including, of course, the particular corruption of bribery.

The leaders of the cesspool, however, profess themselves outraged -- shocked, shocked -- over the supposed violation of their supposedly inviolable precincts by the FBI. Not just the expectable coterie of partisan Democrats (the usual suspects), but reactionary Republicans who lead Congress rushed to the defense of an African-American Democrat from Louisiana who appears to be a major league political criminal. It likely has not escaped these Republican heroes, of course, that if the FBI can search the offices of the Democrat Jefferson, then it can also search the offices of the numerous Republican bribe takers and grafters in the national legislature. That is a possibility the reactionary Republicans would devoutly wish to forestall. more...

May 28, 2006

Carnaval Festival and parade is today. Always a lot of fun.

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Baghdad Er
BAGHDAD ER is an emotional, devastating and honest account of modern-day war.

12-time Emmy® Award winner producer/director Jon Alpert and Matthew O'Neill capture the humanity, hardships and heroism of the US Military and medical personnel of the 86th Combat Support Hospital, the Army's premier medical facility in Iraq. Sometimes graphic in its depiction of combat-related wounds, BAGHDAD ER offers an unflinching and honest account of the realities of war. See video.

(Click on icons to see larger images.)

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