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Too Big to Bail: Army Stuffed in Iraq

Stuff Happens: The Pentagon's Argument of Last Resort on Iraq
by Tom Engelhardt
t's the ultimate argument, the final bastion against withdrawal, and over these last years, the Bush administration has made sure it would have plenty of heft. Ironically, its strength lies in the fact that it has nothing to do with the vicissitudes of Iraqi politics, the relative power of Shiites or Sunnis, the influence of Iran, or even the riptides of war. It really doesn't matter what Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or oppositional cleric Muqtada al-Sadr think about it. In fact, it's an argument that has nothing to do with Iraq and everything to do with us, with the American way of war (and life), which makes it almost unassailable.

And this week Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen -- the man President-elect Obama plans to call into the Oval Office as soon as he arrives -- wheeled it into place and launched it like a missile aimed at the heart of Obama's 16-month withdrawal plan for U.S. combat troops in Iraq. It may not sound like much, but believe me, it is. The Chairman simply said, "We have 150,000 troops in Iraq right now. We have lots of bases. We have an awful lot of equipment that's there. And so we would have to look at all of that tied to, obviously, the conditions that are there, literally the security conditions… Clearly, we'd want to be able to do it safely." Getting it all out safely, he estimated, would take at least "two to three years."


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Salmon: Pacific Fish Farms Seek Expansion

Salmon Farms Seek Massive Expansion
by Georgia Strait Alliance
f the industry can't go north, they'll go big. The Coastal Alliance for Aquaculture Reform (CAAR) has learned that fish farm companies are seeking approval to roughly double current licensed production on several farms in critical wild salmon migration routes such as the Broughton Archipelago and the northern Georgia Strait.

This follows a provincially imposed moratorium on expansion into northern BC. On a site-by-site basis, some farms could triple, quadruple or increase six-fold their current licensed production levels. A map detailing these proposed increases can be seen at: Farmed and Dangerous.

“An increase in production of this nature will place tremendous pressure on already imperiled wild salmon stocks and the marine ecosystem around these salmon farms,” said Catherine Stewart, of Living Oceans Society. “Mainstream’s proposed production increases in the Broughton are outrageous, given the company has been violating licensed production limits for years”


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Remembering the War and Other National and Global Crises

Oh yeah...Remembering the War and Other National and Global Crises
by Dave Lindorff
The ongoing and deepening global economic crisis, to which Barack Obama owes his presidential election victory, is no small thing, to be sure. It also presents us on the left with a lot of openings to press for progressive change.

We saw how the Republican attempt to derail Obama by labeling him a “socialist” actually backfired—especially when people were reminded that a fundamental premise of socialism is “income redistribution,” in which some of the wealth of the rich is taken away through taxation, and transferred through federal programs to those who are less wealthy. Joe the Plumber was outraged, but when most Americans who were having trouble paying for gas or making their next mortgage payment, or who were worried that their jobs might be about to vanish, thought about that for longer than a sound-bite, it turns out that, not surprisingly, they decided socialism and redistribution didn’t sound like a bad or scary idea at all.

The same can be said of labor unions. In good times, many Americans have bought the argument that unions are just out to grab dues payments from their paychecks. But as job security vanishes and wages languish, people are waking up to the idea that they are simply expendable “inputs” to employers, and that a union can help them stand up to abusive, uncaring management. Republican propaganda about the sanctity of “secret ballot” union elections—ironic given the GOP’s simultaneous assault all over the country on the right to vote—fell on deaf ears.


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Disappearing the News at the Beeb

Vanished - How the BBC disappears the news 
by William Bowles
his from GazaFriends on the kidnapping of 15 Palestinian fishermen and 3 foreign nationals in international waters by the Israeli navy:

20 November, 2008 — "Darlene Wallach is in a new prison in Ramle, a men's prison, but she's in a section reserved for illegal immigrants.

"She wanted to pass on this information, "We were fishing about 7 miles off the shores of Gaza. The Israeli soldiers came on board the three boats via four Zodiacs. The frogmen came up and over each boat. They used a taser on Vik while he was still on the boat, then tried to push him backwards onto a sharp piece of wood. He jumped into the sea to avoid being hurt more than he already was and was in the water for quite a while.

"Then they came for me and forced me into the Zodiac at the point of a gun. They said, "You are in Israeli territory" even though it was obvious that all three boats were in Palestinian territory. They kidnapped me and Andrew and Vik and all of the Palestinian fishermen."

"Today two women from immigration were there to see Darlene. They were very rude. Until just a few minutes ago, Darlene was refused a change of clothes and a mobile, but, thanks to Lubna and a nice woman at the prison, she now has both.

"The authorities are saying they will refuse to send Darlene to London and want to send her back to the United States. The judge said she would make a decision today so Darlene is waiting to hear the ruling. She still does not have a passport.

"She sounded fine, relieved to finally be able to talk to someone outside Israel. If you know ANY media who would like to interview her, please let me know and I will pass on Darlene's phone number to them. This story is vitally important to get out to the public.""
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America's Asymmetric Political Warfare

What Must Be Done Now!
by Robert Parry
aving spent more than three decades in Washington, I’ve seen enough mistakes made – and opportunities missed – for a lifetime. So, at this turning point in American history, I’m venturing beyond my normal role as reporter to offer a few ideas about what must be done now.
For one, the progressive side of American politics must invest much more in media and do so immediately. Looking back over the past three decades, the cost of the Left’s complacency on media – i.e. its failure to create a reliable way to get important facts to the public and to counter the Right’s propaganda machine – has been almost beyond calculation.

America’s right-leaning media imbalance was a big reason why George W. Bush was able to misgovern the United States for eight years, leaving the nation in two bloody wars and wallowing in the worst financial crisis since World War II. Hundreds of thousands are dead and millions may soon be out of work.


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The Real Coming Great Depression

Obama and the Great Depression
by Mickey Z.
o, I don’t mean that Great Depression. I’m talking about the inevitable moment—maybe next week, maybe next year—when the Kool Aid wears off and the Obamatrons wake up to realize their hero offers nothing even approximating hope or change.

The carefully calculated speeches—which have always been filled with empty, hollow phrases—will no longer soothe a battered and desperate populace and the Obamabots will suddenly recognize that the Pope of Hope has never been anything more than a human marketing strategy, a product. This year’s iPhone.

“Yes we can”? Merely the first three words of a longer phrase: “Yes we can continue to work, consume, and obey authority without question.”


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Veterans for Peace End National Archives Occupation

Veterans for Peace End National Archives Occupation
by Mike Ferner
riends: Here are some of my favorite images from this past weekend's work in washington, where veterans for peace occupied the scaffolding around the national archives building from saturday 8am until sunday 5pm when cops from homeland security climbed the 90-ft. scaffold, ripped down the banners, and hustled the protesters out, but not until AFTER the vfp'ers negotiated to free two of their number who'd been taken into custody ("either we all walk, or you carry us all out").  

Curiously, from then on, the homeland security cops only wanted them off the scaffold and gone.  the archives' rent-a-cops, however, wanted them arrested in the worst way, even calling d.c. metro cops who refused to arrest as well. - mike

"It does not require a majority to prevail, but rather an irate, tireless minority keen to set brush fires in people's minds."  Samuel Adams 

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A New Approach to Homelessness

A New Approach to Homelessness: Homeless "Binners" Take to the Streets with Specially Designed Bicycles and Tent-Trailers
Victoria, November 18, 2008 - An innovative new project launched in Victoria today distributes specialized bikes and trailers to homeless people who earn an income by collecting recyclable bottles. The bike trailers provide "binners" with a custom-built cart for storing their belongings and collecting recyclables.  The trailer floors fold out into a platform for a built-in emergency tent.

"This project will make life easier and safer for homeless binners", said Rose Henry from the Committee to End Homelessness.  "By providing reliable transportation, a functional cart and a fold-out tent, this project is a tangible, immediate and empowering way to deal with a crisis situation".

The pilot project is a joint effort of the Committee to End Homelessness, Tony's Trailers, the UVIC Community-Based Research Laboratory and the Vancouver Island Public Interest Research Group. 


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Daily News Dissected

News Dissector
by Danny Schechter
QUOTE OF THE DAY “We are now at a crash site, and our priority should be to save the victims, not change the tires or repair the fender, much less build a new car. In the triage situation that now confronts the president-elect, keeping local schools and hospitals open should be the first concern, rebuilding bridges and expanding ports would come next, and rescuing bank shareholders at the very end of the line.” MIKE DAVIS, TOMDISPATCH

STATISTIC OF THE DAY: Cost of financial crisis so far: $4.28 trillion dollars. That’s $4,284,500,000,000 and more than what was spent on WW II, if adjusted for inflation, based on our computations from a variety of estimates and sources.


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Barrier Lake Roadblock Challenges Quebec/Federal Government

Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 second time: demand Quebec and Canada respect agreements and Canada
stop propping up illegitimate leadership
by barriere lake solidarity
arriere Lake Algonquins peacefully blockade highway 117 in Northern Quebec a second time: despite fears of more police violence, community wants Quebec and Canada to respect agreements and Canada to end interference in leadership selection

Kitiganik/Rapid Lake, Algonquin Territory - This morning at 7:30am, Barriere Lake community members of all ages and their supporters once again peacefully blockaded highway 117 outside their reserve, demanding that Quebec and Canada send in negotiators rather than resort to police violence. During the Algonquin's first blockade on October 6th, 2008, Quebec police used tear gas and "pain compliance" techniques against a peaceful crowd that included Elders, youth, and children, arrested nine people, and hospitalized a Customary Councillor after hitting him in the chest with a tear-gas canister, drawing criticism from international human rights groups, the Chiefs of Ontario, and the Christian Peacemakers Team.

See video of action here.  


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First Big Mistake: Rescuing Lieberman

Obama's First Big Mistake on the Job: Rescuing Sen. Joe Lieberman
by Dave Lindorff
he word is that Barack Obama, in keeping with his promise of a new post-Bush/Cheney era of “civility in government,” is telling Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid not to eject the treacherous Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) from the Democratic caucus.

This is a terrible mistake. Joe Lieberman is a wretched example of a man without principle—a back-stabbing slimeball of a politician whose only allegiance, apparently, besides to himself, is to Israel.

Now I don’t want anyone to think I’m some rabid anti-semite. My wife and kids are Jewish, we have good friends who are Israeli, and no, I don’t think the Jews run the media or the country. I do, however, think that Joe Lieberman thinks more about what, in his warped and shriveled worldview, is good for Israel, than about what is good for America.


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