Sir Bono's Undignified Retreat

Sir Bono: the Knight Who Fled From His Own Debate
by Dave Marsh
As CounterPunch and Rock and Rap Confidential disclosed in September, last May U2’s Bono confronted Irish journalist Gavin Martin and myself in the lobby of Dublin’s Merion Hotel. He asked what I’d been working on. I said “the premise that celebrity politics has been a pretty much complete failure.” Bono replied that he wanted to debate the topic in public. He reiterated the challenge the next evening. The witnesses included U2’s manager Paul McGuinness and my wife, Barbara Carr, among others.

I made sure that Sirius Satellite Radio, which was to broadcast the debate, knew about Bono’s invitation. By mid-June, U2’s New York office confirmed the plan, asking only that it be delayed until U2 finished recording its next album. I kept it public via RRC and my Sirius show, Kick Out the Jams.

In November, U2 manager Paul McGuinness rang me. After some brief personal palaver—I like Paul even though I know he’s alluded to me as a “Trotskyist” behind my back—McGuinness sheepishly said “Bono has asked me to ask you if he can withdraw” from the debate.
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Wash. Post: Return of the Right Wing Rant in 'Mainstream Media'

Framing Obama - by the WPost
by Robert Parry (A Special Report)
An insidious power of a propagandistic newspaper – especially one with great influence – is how it can “frame” an issue so the assumptions behind a story guide the readers to a preordained conclusion under the guise of presenting a fair journalistic account. As Barack Obama reaches the two-month anniversary of his presidency, he is facing such a problem from the powerful Washington Post, which is creating a negative “frame” for his administration.

The Post’s news pages have been filled with supposedly objective news stories that have portrayed Republican obstructionism not as the GOP’s determination to hobble Obama – much as the Republicans did to Bill Clinton in 1993-94 – but as Obama’s “failure” to achieve the bipartisanship he advocated during the campaign. The Post and other leading news organizations also have suffered from a strange amnesia about the fact that today’s worldwide financial disaster has been in the making for many years and reached a crisis point in 2008 under the “self-regulatory” theories of President George W. Bush.

Instead of that context, the recession is portrayed as an Obama problem, with the Post and other news outlets even forgetting to mention in stories about the 6.2 percent drop in the gross domestic product in the fourth quarter of 2008 that the startling decline occurred under Bush, not Obama.
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Health Trojan Horse: Harper's Bill C-6 Assails Access to Natural Medicines

Rights and Freedoms are at Risk: An Important Notice Regarding Bill C-6
On January 29th, 2009, the Canadian Minister of Health introduced Bill C-6 into the House of Commons. 
Bill C-6 means doctor's prescriptions for vitamins and alternative medicines
Similar to last year's Bill C-52, this bill poses a grave threat to the Rights, Freedoms and Democratic processes all Canadians now have.  The powers sought after in Bill C-6 again are hidden in what is meant to seem like a much needed Consumer Product Safety Act.
Bill C-6 will: Remove your Elected Officials ability to protect you against illegal or brutal actions from government agencies. If voted into law Bill C-6 will remove Parliaments authority over the Health and Safety of Canadians. Decisions will be made behind closed doors with foreign governments, international trade organizations and government agents who may not have your best interests in mind.

Remove your Right* to have a judge review and approve actions taken against people, companies and organizations, before they have been proven guilty of any offence.

Punish Canadians with little opportunity for protection or recourse, without any proof of guilt or wrong doing.  Guilt will no longer be decided in a court room.  Guilty verdicts will come from the office of the minister of health.  No evidence will be required, no defense will be allowed, no warning will precede their actions.
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The World's Most Dangerous Country

The World's Most Dangerous Country
by Brave New Films
Recent protests in Pakistan reveal the country's potential explosiveness. Pakistan has nuclear weapons and a government disconnected from the crippling poverty, rampant malnutrition, and lack of healthcare afflicting its people. Though Pakistan remains an ally of the United States, tensions continue to rise as the U.S. considers broadening military strikes within Pakistan's borders. Part two of ourRethink Afghanistan documentary focuses on how the Afghanistan crisis affects Pakistan and all of us.

How exactly could the war in Afghanistan trigger regional chaos with Pakistan? Leading authorities like Steve Coll, Ahmed Rashid, Cathy Collins, Tariq Ali, Rory Stewart, Stephen Kinzer, and Andrew Bacevich weigh in on this perilous issue. Watch the trailer for part two of this documentary; the full-length version is available here.

See trailer below.
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Boss vs. Workers: Truth and Lies About Employee Free Choice Act

The "Card Check" Hullabaloo                                   
by Mike Whitney
Big business has launched a no-holds-barred propaganda blitz against the Employee Free Choice Act. Their goal is to scare people into believing that if the bill passes it will trigger higher unemployment and a deeper recession. According to opponents, there's even the threat of creeping socialism.
The truth, of course, is far less dramatic. The Employee Free Choice Act or so called "card check" simply makes it easier for unions to organize. Here's a short summary of the bill posted on the Change To Win web site:

1. Majority Rules, Not the Boss
Currently, a majority of workers can sign up for a union, but the company can veto that decision and demand an election. This allows the company to fire or harass workers, and threaten that it will close the workplace, in order to coerce workers into voting against a union. Under EFCA, if a majority of employees sign cards indicating they want a union, the company has to recognize the union, as long as it is certified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). (Change To Win supports EFCA)
That's it. All that's needed for union certification is for a majority of workers to sign cards. No one is coerced into doing anything they don't want to do; it's completely voluntary. There's nothing in the process that will have any material effect on the economy and, despite all the fearmongering, union goons will not force people to sing L'Internationale at baseball games or make them wear funny-looking blue jumpsuits to work. It's just a better way to organize, which is why the Chamber of Commerce and other far-right organizations are in a lather.
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Iraq: The Women's War

Annals of Liberation: The Agony of Iraq's Women
by Chris Floyd
On the anniversary of the first great war crime of the 21st century -- the unprovoked, unnecessary, illegal ground invasion* of Iraq by the United States and its lap-dog "Anglosphere" allies Britain and Australia, and a few other minor accomplices in mass murder -- Yifat Susskind at American Forum (via tells us what this "liberation" has brought to Iraq's women:
image by Mikeru
If you haven't thought about the Iraq War as a story of U.S. allies systematically torturing and executing women, you're not alone. Likewise, if you were under the impression that Iraqi women were somehow better off under their new, U.S.-sponsored government. In the spring of 2003, Fatin was a student of architecture at Baghdad University. Her days were filled with classes and hanging out in her favorite of Baghdad's many cafes, where she and her friends studied, shared music, and spun big plans for successful careers, happy marriages, and eventually, kids. Today, Fatin says that those feel like someone else's dreams.
Soon after the U.S. invasion, Fatin began seeing groups of bearded young Iraqi men patrolling the streets of Baghdad. They were looking for women like her, who wore modern clothes or were heading to professional jobs. The men screamed terrible insults at the women and sometimes beat them. By the fall, ordinary aspects of Fatin's life had become punishable by death. The "misery gangs," as Fatin calls them, were routinely killing women for wearing pants, appearing in public without a headscarf, or shaking hands and socializing with men.   
As the occupying power, the U.S. was legally obligated to stop these attacks. But the Pentagon, preoccupied with battling the Iraqi insurgency, simply ignored the militias' reign of terror. In fact, some of the most treacherous armed groups belonged to the very political parties that the US had brought to power. By 2005, the Pentagon was giving weapons, money and military training to these Shiite militias, in the hope that they would help combat the Sunni-led insurgency.

This fact cannot be stressed enough -- and therefore, it is course almost entirely ignored in our national political "debate": the United States very deliberately empowered some of the most violent, retrograde elements in Iraqi society (many of them militias formed, trained and armed by Iran), and then helped them carry out one of the most savage "ethnic cleansing" campaigns since World War II.
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Tagging the Torture Team

Reviewing: Torture Team – Deception, Cruelty and the Compromise of Law by Philippe Sands
by Jim Miles
Only a few pieces of paper can change the course of history. On Tuesday, 2 December 2002 Donald Rumsfield signed one that did.”  From such a singular beginning Philippe Sands writes the history of U.S. attempts to abrogate international laws and conventions on the use of torture and the inhumane treatment of prisoners of war. 
This is the memo Rumsfield approved with the sarcastic comment about standing:  “However, I stand for 8-10 hours a day. Why is standing limited to 4 hours?” Perhaps Rumsfield should have been subjected to the other seventeen “techniques” that accompanied the memo to see if his limits for them were any better. 

Torture Team begins carefully, reviewing and structuring the trail of evidence and the chain of command. Most of the participants in the chain of command were interviewed, some more willingly than others, and good portraits of their characters come through.
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By the Way Obama: Our Troops are Still Dying

OUR TROOPS AND IRAQIS ARE STILL DYING: An Open Letter to the Peace/Anti-War Movement
from Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out, and Veterans For Peace
After six years of war and the historic election of a new President, we as veterans, military and Gold Star families felt an urgent need to reach out to the larger peace/anti-war movements to make our position on Iraq clear during this time of political and economic uncertainty.  Iraq Veterans Against the War, Military Families Speak Out and Veterans For Peace continue to stand together in our demand to Bring the Troops Home Now! 
We ask all those who have stood with us in the past to stay faithful to the cause.

President Obama has announced a plan to gradually reduce troop levels in Iraq.  Many in the peace/anti-war movements are breathing a sigh of relief, and suggesting that it is time for us to scale back our efforts to bring an end to the occupation of Iraq.  But for our troops on the ground, their families and the Iraqi people, the nightmare continues.  They need all of us to stay in the struggle.  IVAW, MFSO and VFP have been long united in our call for an immediate and complete end to the occupation of Iraq and will not shift our stance under any circumstances. 
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America's Mid-East Moment of Truth

U.S. Moment of Truth on Palestinian – Israeli Conflict
by Nicola Nasser
In view of a world consensus on a two – state solution for the Arab – Israeli conflict, most political analysts and commentators have concluded that the Israeli Prime Minister – designate Benjamin Netanyahu, who still refuses to affirm his commitment thereto, was to come face to face with his “moment of truth” during his recent meetings earlier this month with visiting U.S. Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, and her “presidential” envoy for peace in the Middle East, George Mitchell, but the outcome of Clinton’s first regional tour as secretary of state and Mitchell’s second tour in the region has proved vice versa: The new democratic administration of Barak Obama seems to fail its own moment of truth on its failure to pass the only test which could make or break the two – state “vision” as a viable solution that would render Obama’s “aggressive” approach credible enough to make a difference between U.S. words and deeds, namely to remove the major obstacle of the Israeli colonial settlement enterprise that has brought U.S. – sponsored peace – making to its current impasse since the internationally – recognized “legitimate and sole representative of the Palestinian people,” i.e. the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), adopted the two – state approach in 1988.

Ironically, but also instructively, the Israeli settlement watchdog, “Peace Now,” welcomed Clinton and Mitchell one day ahead of their visit with a startling report on March 2. The Israeli ministry of housing has finalized plans to “double” the number of the illegal Jewish colonial settlers in the Israeli –occupied West Bank, where the two –state solution envisions the creation of a Palestinian state, to more than (600) thousands by expanding more than (120) settlers’ colonies with the construction of more than (73, 302) housing units, of which (15, 156) units have already been approved and (58, 000) units are pending approval.
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Untold Bailout Scams

Was the Bailout Itself a Scam?
by Paul Craig Roberts
Professor Michael Hudson (CounterPunch, March 18) is correct that the orchestrated outrage over the $165 million AIG bonuses is a diversion from the thousand times greater theft from taxpayers of the approximately $200 billion “bailout” of AIG. Nevertheless, it is a diversion that serves an important purpose. It has taught an inattentive American public that the elites run the government in their own private interests.

Americans are angry that AIG executives are paying themselves millions of dollars in bonuses after having cost the taxpayers an exorbitant sum. Senator Charles Grassley put a proper face on the anger when he suggested that the AIG executives “follow the Japanese example and resign or go commit suicide.”

Yet, Obama’s White House economist, Larry Summers, on whose watch as Treasury Secretary in the Clinton administration financial deregulation got out of control, invoked the “sanctity of contracts” in defense of the AIG bonuses. But the Obama administration does not regard other contracts as sacred.
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The Secret War Against American Workers

The Secret War Against American Workers: The Unemployment Story No One Notices
by Robert S. Eshelman
Juanita Borden, 39 and jobless, patiently waits as her résumé methodically works its way, line by line, through a fax machine at a state-run job center in downtown Philadelphia. Lying open before her on a round conference table is a neatly organized folder. "This is my résumé and everywhere I've been faxing to. This is how I keep track of what day I've sent them on, so I can call and check back," she says, leafing through pages of fax cover sheets. "I usually give five business days before I inquire whether or not they've received it and whether or not they're interested."
Juanita was fired last October, when her employer found out that her driver's license -- a job requirement -- had expired. "It was only a matter of twenty-six dollars. I was under the impression that it expired in November of '08, but it was actually November of '07, and because I hadn't been driving I wasn't aware of it." The one occasion on which she was required to drive, though, she couldn't, and that was all her employer needed to fire her for failing to fulfill her employment responsibilities. She has since renewed her license and says with an air of futility, "I'd like to have my job back if they would give it to me."
She hasn't been asked back and, despite her persistent efforts, she hasn't received a single call from a prospective employer either. "The good thing," she says, remaining remarkably buoyant despite her misfortune, "is that usually when I interview I get the job. So... I'm hoping for an interview soon." Until then, her carefully managed folder serves as a small measure of control over an otherwise steady drift into poverty and homelessness.
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War Criminal Bush Waltzes Through Canada

March 17th, 2009 - A day that will live in infamy in Canadian History
by Wayne Prante
While the alleged "law and order" loving Conservative government of Stephen Harper, and alleged "Leaders" of all other sitting parties in the House of Commons ignored Canadian law and polices and flouted international law, ignored Lawyers Against the War (who had prepared a dossier on Bush concerning war crimes), and ignored thousands of caring Canadian citizens who had  petitioned the government, made phone calls and sent FAX messages, George W. Bush was illegally allowed to enter Canada by Immigration Canada.
He was then allowed to roam freely on Canadian soil by the RCMP and other police agencies, whose duty it was to arrest him. They chose instead to fall in line, follow orders, and to protect him. They all had a choice and failed to make the correct and moral one.

Average Canadians of conscience are disgusted and ashamed at this travesty of justice, and the cowardice of our federal and provincial servants, as well as by the City of Calgary who welcomed the butcher from Texas and, on their behalf, we offer our apologies to the rest of the world, particularly those affected by the illegal wars and occupations, DU contamination, theft of resources, and of course torture, for this further indignation.
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