The Sydney Opera House is an icon of Sydney and Australia. It is an incredible structure. Barbara and I took many photos there and I will feature some of those this week.

July 8, 2006

Mexico's Fixed Election
by Stephen Lendman

What do these presidential elections all have in common: Mexico, 1988, US, 2000, US, 2004, Colombia and Peru, 2006 and the just concluded Mexican election on July 2? In each case, the outcome was "arranged" and known in advance before voters went to the polls. They're what economist and media and social critic Edward Herman calls "Demonstration Elections" - the characterization and title he gave his 1980s book analyzing and documenting sham elections in the Dominican Republic, El Salvador and Vietnam. Professor Herman is an expert, and although his book was written over 20 years ago, it's clear little has changed except for the added sophistication gained since then in the ability of officials to make elections turn out the way they wish. The same fraud occurs in many countries, and Professor Herman might have included many others besides the ones he chose but had he done so he'd have had to have written a book with no end. more...

July 7, 2006

Go to Venezuela, You Idiot!
by Jeff Cohen  

I don't usually take the advice of rightwingers. But I did this time. After receiving inflamed email messages from dozens of angry rightists that I should get the hell out of the USA and go to Venezuela, I accepted their challenge and flew to Caracas.

"Would you like me to start a fund to ship your ass down there, Comrade Cohen?"

What had provoked the often-abusive emailers was my 2005 Internet column urging U.S. residents to buy their gasoline at Citgo, a subsidiary of Venezuela's state oil company.  I called for a Citgo BUY-cott, to protest Bush's interventionist foreign policy while supporting innovative anti-poverty programs in Venezuela.   (Last winter, Citgo started a program that provided discounted home-heating oil to low-income families in the U.S.)

"Hey moron, if you hate America so much and love Venezuela, why don't you go there?"

I'm glad I listened to the conservative chorus. In late June, I headed to Venezuela with a fact-finding delegation sponsored by the respected U.S. human rights group, Witness for Peace. The grueling trip covered much ground and all sides of Venezuela's social/political landscape. It is a complex country, headed by sometimes volatile President Hugo Chavez, a leftist and harsh Bush critic who was first elected in 1998. As soon as I returned home, I headed to the nearest Citgo to fill up my tank -- more committed than ever to send a few dollars toward Venezuela's poor. more...

July 6, 2006

NY POST NOT COMPLETELY CONVINCED LAY IS DEAD...

ny post front page

**********

Starving for Attention: Troops Home Fast, Day One
By Cindy Sheehan

It is midnight of the 5th of July and 24 hours since thousands of us began the Troops Home Fast.

Some of us who will be fasting completely until the troops come home; some will be on liquids only until the troops come home; some will fast for 2 weeks, 2 days; or like me, until at least September 21st.

Hundreds of peace-loving and dedicated people joined we organizers of the fast outside of the White House during the past two eventful and event-filled days. The Granny Peace Brigade walked from NYC to DC in solidarity with the fast and with the people of Iraq and Afghanistan and our soldiers who are suffering so profoundly under the US led occupations.

People joined us from as far away as Texas and California in person, and thousands were with us in spirit from all over the world. We are starting an historic and very meaningful action. We were honored by being joined by legendary fasters Dick Gregory and Diane Wilson and historic whistle blower and patriotic giant: Daniel Ellsberg.

Standing apart from our hundreds of supporters were about a dozen Freepers who were holding various signs (which is as much there right, as it is ours) with very "clever" messages on them. A few of the signs had the very pithy "Freedom Isn't Free." Well, I'm sorry, but the very definition of freedom is that it is free. Freedom is a birthright of every American and we have the Bill of Rights to prove it. Nowhere in the Constitution does it say anywhere that our young people have to fight insane wars for greedy swine to earn anyone any kind of freedoms. If freedom wasn't free it would be called "expensivedom." more...

July 5, 2006

Our Nation Needs Fewer Secrets
by Jimmy Carter  

The U.S. Freedom of Information Act turns 40 today, the day we celebrate our independence. But this anniversary will not be a day of celebration for the right to information in our country. Our government leaders have become increasingly obsessed with secrecy. Obstructionist policies and deficient practices have ensured that many important public documents and official actions remain hidden from our view.

The events in our nation today -- war, civil rights violations, spiraling energy costs, campaign finance and lobbyist scandals -- dictate the growing need and citizens' desire for access to public documents. A poll conducted last year found that 70 percent of Americans are either somewhat or very concerned about government secrecy. This is understandable when the U.S. government uses at least 50 designations to restrict unclassified information and created 81 percent more ''secrets'' in 2005 than in 2000, according to the watchdog coalition OpenTheGovernment.org.

Moreover, the response to FOIA requests often does not satisfy the transparency objectives or provisions of the law, which, for example, mandates an answer to information requests within 20 working days.

According to the National Security Archives 2003 report, median response times may be as long as 905 working days at the Department of Agriculture and 1,113 working days at the Environmental Protection Agency. The only recourse for unsatisfied requesters is to appeal to the U.S. District Court, which is costly, timely and unavailable to most people. Policies that favor secrecy, implementation that does not satisfy the law, lack of a mandated oversight body and inaccessible enforcement mechanisms have put the United States behind much of the world in the right to information. more...

July 4, 2006

Put Away the Flags
by Howard Zinn  

On this July 4, we would do well to renounce nationalism and all its symbols: its flags, its pledges of allegiance, its anthems, its insistence in song that God must single out America to be blessed.

Is not nationalism -- that devotion to a flag, an anthem, a boundary so fierce it engenders mass murder -- one of the great evils of our time, along with racism, along with religious hatred?

These ways of thinking -- cultivated, nurtured, indoctrinated from childhood on -- have been useful to those in power, and deadly for those out of power.

National spirit can be benign in a country that is small and lacking both in military power and a hunger for expansion (Switzerland, Norway, Costa Rica and many more). But in a nation like ours -- huge, possessing thousands of weapons of mass destruction -- what might have been harmless pride becomes an arrogant nationalism dangerous to others and to ourselves. more...

July 3, 2006

LAST STAND
The military‚s problem with the President‚s Iran policy.
by SEYMOUR M. HERSH

On May 31st, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced what appeared to be a major change in U.S. foreign policy. The Bush Administration, she said, would be willing to join Russia, China, and its European allies in direct talks with Iran about its nuclear program. There was a condition, however: the negotiations would not begin until, as the President put it in a June 19th speech at the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, „the Iranian regime fully and verifiably suspends its uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.š Iran, which has insisted on its right to enrich uranium, was being asked to concede the main point of the negotiations before they started. The question was whether the Administration expected the Iranians to agree, or was laying the diplomatic groundwork for future military action. In his speech, Bush also talked about „freedom for the Iranian people,š and he added, „Iran‚s leaders have a clear choice.š There was an unspoken threat: the U.S. Strategic Command, supported by the Air Force, has been drawing up plans, at the President‚s direction, for a major bombing campaign in Iran.

Inside the Pentagon, senior commanders have increasingly challenged the President‚s plans, according to active-duty and retired officers and officials. The generals and admirals have told the Administration that the bombing campaign will probably not succeed in destroying Iran‚s nuclear program. They have also warned that an attack could lead to serious economic, political, and military consequences for the United States. more...

July 2, 2006

No Place for Canada
Foreign invaders will never control the fierce Pashtun tribesmen of Afghanistan
by Eric Margolis  

The war in Afghanistan that was supposedly won has resumed -- with a vengeance. Fighting is reportedly intensifying and spreading across southern Afghanistan as resistance to foreign occupation grows.

In 2001, unable to withstand high-tech U.S. forces, the Taliban leader Mullah Omar ordered his men to disband and blend into the civilian population. At the time, this column warned war would resume in about four years, just as it did after the 1979 Soviet invasion. Now, Taliban forces have taken the offensive against U.S. and NATO troops, often employing deadly new tactics like roadside and suicide bombs, learned from Iraq's resistance.

Significantly, the Taliban have been joined by many other political and tribal groups. Prominent among them: Hisbi Islami, led by former CIA protege Gulbadin Hekmatyar -- the most effective guerilla leader in the 1980s anti-Soviet jihad -- and renowned mujahadin leader, Jallaludin Haqqi.

Small numbers of foreign jihadis have also come to fight. Most important, growing numbers of "khels," or clans of the Pashtun (Pathan) tribe -- the world's largest tribal group, numbering 40 million -- have joined the resistance. more...
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July 8, 2006


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