September 2, 2006

Bush vs. Ahmadinejad: A TV Debate We'll Never See     
By Norman Solomon    

When Iran's president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, invited President Bush to engage in a "direct television debate" a few days ago, the White House predictably responded by calling the offer "a diversion." But even though this debate will never happen, it's worth contemplating.

Both presidents are propaganda junkies - or, more precisely, propaganda pushers - so any such debate would overdose the audience with self-righteous arrogance. The two presidents are too much alike.

Each man, in his own way, is a fundamentalist: so sure of his own moral superiority that he's willing to push his country into a military confrontation. This assessment may be a bit unfair to Ahmadinejad, who hasn't yet lied his nation into war; the American president is far more experienced in that department.

By saying that it's an open question whether Nazi Germany really perpetrated a Holocaust, the Iranian president has left no doubt that he is dangerously ignorant of history. Bush's ignorance of history is decidedly more subtle - though, judging from his five and a half years in the Oval Office, hardly less dangerous. more...

September 1, 2006

What Water Can Do -- Remembering My New Orleans Home, Lost for Now
New America Media, Commentary, Sarah M. Broom, Aug 31, 2006

Editor's Note: A woman born and raised in New Orleans is caught between remembering and willfully forgetting all the storm did to scatter her family and destroy her childhood home. Sarah M. Broom is an assistant editor at "O, The Oprah Magazine." She now lives in Harlem.

NEW YORK--It is a storm-dark Harlem day, 24 hours until the night last year when New Orleans, the city from which I‚ve sprung, took its biggest salt-water bath ever. I have just struggled mightily through Act I of Spike Lee‚s documentary, "When the Levees Broke," caught myself averting my eyes, especially during scenes of great water, so that by the film‚s end I could not look straight on to the TV and peeked out the corner of my right eye. It is neither lie, nor exaggeration, to say I feel shaken past the marrow now, after having been reminded, in the space of just one hour, of all that water can do.

I do not mean only to say that I am reminded of houses gone swimming down the block, or a refrigerator nestled in a tree. I am talking intimate particulars here, like how one week past the storm Katrina there were birds living in my childhood home, so that when you approached it they flew away en masse, and how that sound was like the scrambling of fat thieves at gunfire. I mean how my 11 siblings are everywhere and nowhere together, or how my grown brother Troy unpacks 18-wheelers at a California Wal-Mart after half a life of masonry, or how he is making $8 dollars an hour, more than my sister Karen, a former social worker, who now reads prisoners‚ mail for less than $20,000 a year with two children to support. I mean how my long-legged brother Carl is living again with my mother, at age 40, after the FEMA trailer he wanted so desperately (oh to have something all one‚s own) was too long to fit his property. more...

August 31, 2006

The Merchant of Menace
How "merchant coal" is changing the face of America

  From his rolling green soybean fields above a slow river in eastern Iowa, Don Shatzer looks out over the farm where he was raised, across land he and his neighbors have farmed all their lives. Below him are the garden beds where his wife Linda grows organic vegetables to safeguard the family's health, and the farm pond and beach he built for the grandkids. A few miles to the west lies the city of Waterloo, with a population of about 66,000. The sky is clear and the southwest wind sweet on a humid summer day.

Shatzer's land is some of the most fertile in North America, part of the fecund breadbasket on which a continent relies. And if New Jersey's LS Power wins the fight it has started, a 750-megawatt pulverized-coal electrical generation plant will sit right next door by 2011. more...

August 30, 2006

Pay To Be Saved: The Future of Disaster Response
by Naomi Klein  

The Red Cross has just announced a new disaster-response partnership with Wal-Mart. When the next hurricane hits, it will be a co-production of Big Aid and Big Box.

This, apparently, is the lesson learned from the government's calamitous response to Hurricane Katrina: Businesses do disaster better.

"It's all going to be private enterprise before it's over," Billy Wagner, emergency management chief for the Florida Keys, currently under hurricane watch for Tropical Storm Ernesto, said in April. "They've got the expertise. They've got the resources."

But before this new consensus goes any further, perhaps it's time to take a look at where the privatization of disaster began, and where it will inevitably lead.

The first step was the government's abdication of its core responsibility to protect the population from disasters. Under the Bush administration, whole sectors of the government, most notably the Department of Homeland Security, have been turned into glorified temp agencies, with essential functions contracted out to private companies. The theory is that entrepreneurs, driven by the profit motive, are always more efficient (please suspend hysterical laughter). more...

August 29, 2006

Black Jonbenet Ramseys?
by Adrien Wing

After an incessant media frenzy, DNA shows what many of us suspected.  John Mark Karr did not kill  Jonbenet Ramsey. The latest twist in the unsolved murder blew away coverage of  many issues of national and international importance.  As a parent, I continue to feel empathy  for the six year old beauty queen‚s loved ones.  The vicious killing  of a precious child should not occur in any family. I constantly think of all the murdered Black children, most of whom have had little to no media coverage of their tragic ends.  Many of their deaths remain unsolved as well, and it is unlikely that any new leads will develop or be followed up with the zeal evidenced in the Ramsey case.

For those of you who would like to know more about the African-American children who have been murdered, please visit Black Kids Heaven, a website created by a teenager „Kekeš after the death of her young friend Cynteria Phillips. Go to  Will  you remember these names and  faces? 

August 28, 2006

Bush & Katrina: Return to the Scene of the Crime
by Frank Rich  

President Bush travels to the Gulf Coast this week, ostensibly to mark the first anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. Everyone knows his real mission: to try to make us forget the first anniversary of the downfall of his presidency.

As they used to say in the French Quarter, bonne chance! The ineptitude bared by the storm ų no planning for a widely predicted catastrophe, no attempt to secure a city besieged by looting, no strategy for anything except spin ų is indelible. New Orleans was Iraq redux with an all-American cast. The discrepancy between Mr. Bush‚s „heckuva jobš shtick and the reality on the ground induced a Cronkite-in-Vietnam epiphany for news anchors. At long last they and the country demanded answers to the questions about the administration‚s competence that had been soft-pedaled two years earlier when the war first went south.

But before we get to that White House P.R. offensive, there is next week‚s Katrina show. It has its work cut out for it. A year after the storm, the reconstruction of New Orleans echoes our reconstruction of Baghdad. A „truth squadš of House Democrats has cataloged the „waste, fraud, abuse or mismanagementš in $8.75 billion worth of contracts, most of which were awarded noncompetitively. Only 60 percent of the city has electricity. Half of the hospitals and three-quarters of the child-care centers remain closed. Violent crime is on the rise. Less than half of the population has returned. more...

August 27, 2006

The Liquid Bomb Hoax: The Larger Implications
By James Petras

The charges leveled by the British, US and Pakistani regimes that they uncovered a major bomb plot directed against nine US airlines is based on the flimsiest of evidence, which would be thrown out of any court, worthy of its name.

An analysis of the current state of the investigation raises a series of questions regarding the governments‚ claims of a bomb plot concocted by 24 Brits of Pakistani origin.

The arrests were followed by the search for evidence, as the August 12, 2006 Financial Times states: „The police set about the mammoth task of gathering evidence of the alleged terrorist bomb plot yesterday.š (FT, August 12/, 2006) In other words, the arrests and charges took place without sufficient evidence -- a peculiar method of operation -- which reverses normal investigatory procedures in which arrests follow the „monumental task of gathering evidence.š If the arrests were made without prior accumulation of evidence, what were the bases of the arrests? more...
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