by Ramzy Baroud
His room is ready; the walls have fresh paint and my kids prepared a basket of chocolates and other treats to place beside his bed. They hung a poster on his door that has been decorated with colored pens and glitter that says “Welcome Shobhi!” I have taught them that “Sobhi” actually means the “morning light”, and that during his visit, he will not be treated as a visitor, but as a brother. They have compiled a list of fun places to visit, parks, the beach and maybe a ferry ride.
Two weeks ago, my family, after months of anticipation, were scheduled to be the host family for a very special and unusual exchange program for kids from Gaza to visit the US. Our host child, Sobhi was schedule to arrive on May 30th.
My family was excited and a little nervous, I noticed my wife taking every opportunity to share the news of the arrival of our special visitor. We call Sobhi’s family from time to time, realizing that sending a child off to a foreign land to live with a strange family can be unsettling for a parent. But I think our occasional conversations are putting everyone at ease.
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These corporatist forces recently attacked our brothers in the Amazon rainforest. Helicopters flew overhead and shot and bombed them, massacring over a hundred unarmed untouched natives who still live in the rainforest, cut off from modern life, as their ancestors always did. With only spears for weapons they weren't a threat. Their bodies were taken away and the blood was quickly cleaned up.
Here, the plan is to create situations where Mohawks are falsely seen as unruly or as terrorists. Prime Minister Stephen Harper wants to declare he has no choice but take control of our "reserves", put us under third party management, expropriate our communities and hand them over to his corporate backers. He wants to hand over multi billion dollars of real estate to them.
Akwesasne would be turned over to outsiders for resorts, casinos, condos and creating a playground for the elite. Cornwall Island would become part of a NAFTA super highway complex. We would be removed. An American would be able to come into Canada without having to pass through a border checkpoint. Kahnawake would become part of Montreal. Six Nations would become part of surrounding municipalities. Harper has to do this before he gets kicked out of office.
This morning at 6:45 am the OPP came to the Skyway Bridge which the Mohawks of Tyendinaga had never closed down. They slowed down traffic giving out information to support the Mohawks of Akwesasne. The OPP and the band council Mohawk Police shut it down and kept the public off the bridge. A squad of 150 to 200 cruisers and SUVs came in and practically massacred our people. There was blood everywhere, which was quickly mopped by the OPP, using fire hoses to immediately wash down any evidence.
by William Bowles
The last few months have not been pleasant for me, wrestling with my own inner demons. Yeah, we Brits are not meant to be open about our inner selves, stiff upper lip and all that crap, and, in the scheme of things there are more than enough demons stalking the planet without me adding to them.
That said, what the fuck! Where do you think our demons come from in the first place! So in the midst of all the mayhem around us, here I am struggling to write, something that has up until now anyway, been the most natural thing in the world for me to do.
That such an innate act, that of creating should be denied to me, came as a shock. Denied my own voice, I felt imprisoned inside my own skull. But even writing about such things feels like an indulgence, after all who wants to read about my personal problems when the world is going to hell in a hand-basket?
The phrase ‘from the personal the political’ comes to mind, or am I just fishing for a hook? But this is at least a step forward, I mean actually committing pen to paper and assuming it actually ends up online.
PCHR reviewed IDF killing of Gaza's children since the beginning of the Second Intifada in September 2000, then focused on the 313 youth deaths during the recent conflict. Its evidence comes from eye-witness accounts of the willful targeting of civilians, including women and children. Also covered are the psychological scars and "alarming scale of physical injuries" leaving some children blind and many others (as well as adults) permanently disabled by the loss of limbs and psychological trauma.
PCHR's report bears testimony to Israel's contempt for international laws, its imperial agenda, culture of violence, disdain for peace, genocidal intentions, disparagement of Arabs and Islam, and its scorn for Palestinian lives and welfare.
PCHR presented 13 case studies in its report. Briefly discussed below, they represent a small fraction of the many hundreds killed and thousands more grievously harmed.
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As we toured Europe and North America with the film, every Q&A ended up with the question, "that's all very well in Argentina, but could that ever happen here?"
Well, with the world economy now looking remarkably like Argentina's in 2001 (and for many of the same reasons) there is a new wave of direct action among workers in rich countries. Co-ops are once again emerging as a practical alternative to more lay-offs. Workers in the U.S. and Europe are beginning to ask the same questions as their Latin American counterparts: Why do we have to get fired? Why can't we fire the boss? Why is the bank allowed to drive our company under while getting billions of dollars of our money?
Tomorrow night (May 15) at Cooper Union in New York City, we're taking part in a panel that looks at this phenomenon, called Fire the Boss: The Worker Control Solution from Buenos Aires to Chicago.
We'll be joined by people from the movement in Argentina as well as workers from the famous Republic Windows and Doors struggle in Chicago.
It's a great way to hear directly from those who are trying to rebuild the economy from the ground up, and who need meaningful support from the public, as well as policy makers at all levels of government. For those who can't make it out to Cooper Union, here's a quick round up of recent developments in the world of worker control. Add a comment
With all the out of business signs popping up everywhere you look lately, who would have thought that the Office of Faith-based Initiatives is not only thriving, but has relocated to Health and Human Services.
Lost in the shuffle of manufactured controversy over the Sotomayor confirmation is another important nomination. Alexia Kelley, co-founder of Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good, and considered by some to be a "dissident Catholic," is President Obama's pick to head the "faith office" at HHS, which raises the question--why do we need a "faith office" at HHS in the first place?
There are some who suggest quid pro quo -- Ms. Kelley, a loyal Obama supporter, has been repaid in kind with this nomination, but is this not more a case of quo than quid — status quo, that is.
Clearly, the president is trying to appease the religious right and, at the same time, reify his pro-choice agenda, with this nomination. But, what happens to a ship, or airplane, when all of the weight is moved to the center — it sinks faster.
It would appear that Obama's gift of a stimulus package to faith-based groups, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is baggage left over from the Bush years. Yet, once again, we must stand by and watch science, and medical mandates, placed in the hands of those whose primary identity is inseparable from their religious affiliation.
In fairness, Ms. Kelley has said her goal is not to eliminate abortion, per se, nor would she work with those who wish to overturn Roe v. Wade. That said, the group she co-founded solidly opposed choice, and her advocacy of what she calls "abortion reduction" makes one shudder at the thought of a possible quota of allowed procedures for federally funded clinics. After all, the former faith based group, along with their chieftain, George W. Bush, denied tax dollars to any federally funded clinic that did not promote abstinence-only.
Ms. Kelley is also said to oppose contraception, and may indeed be among those trying to convince themselves, and the rest of us, that life begins not only at conception, but at the moment of penetration. Add a comment
Buckle your seatbelt, you may be going nowhere — and it could be a very bumpy ride. Oil futures have just passed $71 for a barrel of "light, sweet crude oil" (sweet for energy stocks, anyway) on its way to... well, we don't know exactly where, but it won't feel good, not at the pump and not in the economy either. In the Midwest and scattered other locations, gas prices are already at the edge of $3.00 a gallon and the height of summer isn't even upon us.
Much of this sudden rise has been fueled by OPEC production cuts, investor dreams of a global economic recovery (and so a heightened desire for energy), and the enthusiasm of market speculators. Explain it as you will, the price of crude, which hit a low of about $32 a barrel in December, as the planet seemed to meltdown economically, has doubled in recent months.
Oil is like the undead. Just when you think it's gone down for the count, it rises from the grave ravenous. As Clifford Krauss of the New York Times reported recently, gas prices have risen 41 days in a row, and yet the price at the pump is still "lagging behind the increase in the price of oil." According to Tom Kloza, chief oil analyst at the Oil Price Information Service, consumers are now shelling out one billion dollars a day to keep their tanks full. (It was $1.5 billion last summer when the price of a barrel of oil hit an astronomical $147.)
Whether this is the energy version of irrational exuberance and a mini-bubble to be burst as further economic bad times hit or the reality of our near future, sooner or later, far worse is in store on the energy front, as Michael Klare, author of Rising Powers, Shrinking World: The New Geopolitics of Energy, makes clear. But don't listen to him. Instead, check out his latest energy scoop — the real news he found buried in the most recent report from the U.S. Department of Energy, whose seers have put irrational exuberance in mothballs and brought out the sackcloth and ashes. Tom
It's Official — The Era of Cheap Oil Is Over - Energy Department Changes Tune on Peak Oil
by Michael T. Klare
Every summer, the Energy Information Administration (EIA) of the U.S. Department of Energy issues its International Energy Outlook (IEO) — a jam-packed compendium of data and analysis on the evolving world energy equation. For those with the background to interpret its key statistical findings, the release of the IEO can provide a unique opportunity to gauge important shifts in global energy trends, much as reports of routine Communist Party functions in the party journal Pravda once provided America's Kremlin watchers with insights into changes in the Soviet Union's top leadership circle.
As it happens, the recent release of the 2009 IEO has provided energy watchers with a feast of significant revelations. By far the most significant disclosure: the IEO predicts a sharp drop in projected future world oil output (compared to previous expectations) and a corresponding increase in reliance on what are called "unconventional fuels" — oil sands, ultra-deep oil, shale oil, and biofuels.
So here's the headline for you: For the first time, the well-respected Energy Information Administration appears to be joining with those experts who have long argued that the era of cheap and plentiful oil is drawing to a close. Almost as notable, when it comes to news, the 2009 report highlights Asia's insatiable demand for energy and suggests that China is moving ever closer to the point at which it will overtake the United States as the world's number one energy consumer. Clearly, a new era of cutthroat energy competition is upon us. Add a comment
The French have taken to bossnapping — "sequestering" their bosses while keeping them comfortable and safe — to protest economic unfairness.
In answer to their own economic crisis, the French have taken up "bossnapping."
Here's how it works: An executive of a company, perhaps the CEO, stands before a group of his employees, puts his hands together, sighs, and then, with regret as smooth as brie, explains the fact that downsizing is needed to meet the exigencies of economic crisis (read: the preservation of profits in downturn).
The employees get pissed off — and bum-rush the boss. They trap him in his office, barricade the door, feed him espresso and baguette, and demand a fair deal.It's a sort of soft-touch storming of the Bastille.
My bank, a small regional institution that was not involved in sub-prime lending, and that was not a recipient of any TARP bailout money, cut off my home equity line of credit two weeks ago. They did it abruptly, with no notice—I only discovered it had happened when I tried to get a $500 advance from it to cover a payment I was making on my credit card. When I asked what was going on, the local branch manager informed me that “we are closing out a lot of credit lines while we reassess the value of houses in this region, which have been falling.”
Now, in my particular case this was ridiculous. First of all, in our county, just north of Philadelphia, property prices have been static, but not falling. Furthermore, I had taken out a standard $160,000 mortgage 12 years ago, with a substantial down payment, and it was now paid down to $60,000, and my balance on the home equity credit line was pretty small, so there was no way that we were in any way “under water”—in fact our equity in our home is much higher than it was 12 years ago and represents well over 50% of the value of the property.
The bank informed me that it was no problem. I could simply take out a new credit line, at no charge, and transfer the balance on the current line over to the new one. The only hitch: Instead of paying one percent over prime as I had been, I would be paying nearly 4 percent over prime on that balance, effectively doubling the cost of borrowing money.
This kind of thing is going on all across America, as banks that once spread around credit like a Philadelphia Democratic Party ward captain on Election Day, start tightening the screws on individuals and on small businesses.
While the Obama administration and the Treasury and the Fed are bulldozing funds into the coffers of the big banks, allegedly to get them to lend, the banks, from the largest to the smallest, are pulling back, afraid that borrowers will end up going bust on them--and with good reason, given the high and rising level of unemployment So much for economic stimulus efforts. Add a comment
At least three US federal laws should concern all Americans and suggest what may be coming - mandatory vaccinations for hyped, non-existant threats, like H1N1 (Swine Flu). Vaccines and drugs like Tamiflu endanger human health but are hugely profitable to drug company manufacturers.
The Project BioShield Act of 2004 (S. 15) became law on July 21, 2004 "to provide protections and countermeasures against chemical, radiological, or nuclear agents that may be used in a terrorist attack against the United States by giving the National Institutes of Health contracting flexibility, infrastructure improvements, and expediting the scientific peer review process, and streamlining the Food and Drug Administration approval process of countermeasures."
In other words, the FDA may now recklessly approve inadequately tested, potentially dangerous vaccines and other drugs if ever the Secretaries of Health and Human Services (HHS) or Defense (DOD) declare a national emergency, whether or not one exists and regardless of whether treatments available are safe and effective. Around $6 billion or more will be spent to develop, produce, and stockpile vaccines and other drugs to counteract claimed bioterror agents.
The Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act slipped under the radar when George Bush signed it into law as part of the 2006 Defense Appropriations Act (HR 2863). It lets the HHS Secretary declare any disease an epidemic or national emergency requiring mandatory vaccinations. Nothing in the Act lists criteria that warrant a threat. Also potential penalties aren't specified for those who balk, but very likely they'd include quarantine and possible fines.
The HHS web site also says the Secretary may "issue a declaration....that provides immunity from tort liability (except for willful misconduct) for claims of loss caused, arising out of, relating to, or resulting from administration or use of (vaccine or other pharmaceutical) countermeasures to diseases, threats and conditions determined by the Secretary to constitute a present, or credible risk of a future public health emergency...." Add a comment
Beyond The Soaring Rhetoric of Obama's Cairo Speech: A Toxic Innocence At Home
by Phil Rockstroh
Even as President Barrack Obama waxed eloquent in Cairo, Egypt, on the moral imperatives of the community of nations, public opinion polls released in the United States revealed that, by a substantial percentage, its citizens believe torture is an acceptable option for interrogation of suspects deemed terrorists by various US governmental agencies. In addition, other polls show a majority of the American public hold the opinion that the all American theme park of state torture, located at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, should remain open for business and continue to welcome guests from around the globe, taking them for the ride of their lives through the dark id of the American psyche.
These revelations should not come as a shock. Torture, official secrecy, and other sundry apparatus and accouterments of the national security state are about the only viable enterprises remaining in this declining nation. Moreover, one of the defining traits of the insecure (both among men and nations) is to stand, bristling in a paranoid posture, with feet planted in stubborn defiance of changing circumstances, snarling at invisible threats and imagined affronts, as life moves on with indifferent grace.
Recently, in the latest in a series of setbacks and self-inflicted wounds, the national identity of the United States sustained another humiliating blow when General Motors was driven into a ditch, declared totaled, and then stripped and sold for spare parts. This event throws a rod into the smoking engine block of the nation's dream machine: The automobiles manufactured in Detroit were once symbols of American power, freedom of mobility, even sexual allure. But the world has sped ahead, leaving the US wheezing dust in its wake: The era of high horsepower and American ascendancy, with its glinting chrome conceit and reinforced steel illusions of unassailable power, now sits upon concrete blocks rusting in the automobile graveyard of history.
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