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The Iraq Factor

US Elections: The Iraq Factor  
by Ramzy Baroud
As the race for the United States presidential nominations progresses, the stances of and attitudes towards both Republican and Democratic candidates continue to bring up causes for concern, in terms of their past behaviour, current appeal and general trustworthiness.

Republican Mitt Romney's exit has practically assured Senator John McCain's victory in his party. While we might expect McCain's narrow-mindedness and pro-war rhetoric to make him an uncontested darling of conservatives, the doubts that remain about his credibility -- and the seemingly absurd accusations by some that he is more liberal than Democratic liberals -- highlight two disturbing trends.

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Rethinking Rebellion: Another Anniversary

Rethinking Rebellion as March 19 Nears
“You can never be too radical”
Mickey Z.
Q. How many liberals does it take to ward off a potential attacker in a dark alley?
A. Ten

One to blame Fox News; one to chant or meditate; one to blame the anarchists; one to build a website; one to blame patriarchy; one to recognize the attacker is a human and tell him that we all love him; one to blame Ralph Nader; one to remember that excellent saying about non-violence we got from our Pilates teacher; one to blame the Republicans; and finally: One to draw his attention downward and promptly whip out a finger jab to his eyes.
When he brings his hands up (too late) to protect himself, kick him in his balls, doubling him over.
Then follow-up by grabbing him by the hair and bringing his face down into a powerful knee blow before getting the fuck out of there as fast as you can.

Moral: We don’t need more conferences, sub- committees, elections, etc. We need bold steps and drastic measures.

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Back to the Balkans: Kosovo Crisis II

Kosovo Independence: Is this the Right Time?
by Danny Schechter
The UN Security Council met today on Kosovo. BBC reported: “Serbia’s foreign minister has urged the United Nations Security Council to oppose the province of Kosovo’s expected declaration of independence.
Vuk Jeremic said Serbia would not use force to stop the secession but warned that allowing it would "give a green light to other separatist movements.”
Supporters of Kosovo independence say genocidal ethnic cleansing by Serbia trumps claims of sovereignty and justifies demands for independence.
I wrote about this in some detail, posting it Thursday. For those who missed it, here’s my take.
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Let’s Stifle the Happy Talk
by Ernest Partridge
Happy days are here again!

The GOP is in disarray. The factions of this improbable alliance of religious fundamentalists, neo-con war hawks, and market absolutists have discovered, with the emergence of their presumptive nominee, John McCain, that they have little in common. James Dobson, leader of the fundamentalist “Focus on the Family,” has announced that rather than vote for McCain, he will not vote at all.
Ann Coulter says that she might even support Hillary Clinton. Meanwhile, the Democratic base remains solid as party loyalists tell pollsters that they would be quite happy with either Clinton or Obama. And in the primaries so far, seventy percent more Democrats have voted than Republicans. Moreover, the Democratic party is enjoying a substantial funding advantage over the Republicans. Among liberal pundits and talk show hosts, there is a sense of inevitable Democratic triumph in the coming election.

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Police Assault Langford Tree-Sit

Police Assault Langford Tree-Sit
by C. L. Cook
Word came early this morning: Royal Canadian Mounted Police tactical teams and support officers from the Westshore detachment, moved in on a half-dozen protesters occupying a tree-sit in a small forested area slated for destruction to make way for a highway overpass.
Three arrests were made and there are, as yet unconfirmed, reports of injuries sustained by the arrestees. The tree-sit has been continuously occupied since April of last year in efforts to raise public awareness and bring pressure to bear against what the activists say is the needless destruction of an area of unique geological and environmental importance and cultural significance to First Nations.

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O-Bummer: The Man Without a Past for a Country Without a Future

O-Bummer – the man without a past for a country without a future
by William Bowles
That both a black man and a woman are the ‘front runners’ in the ‘race’ for the presidency speaks reams about the desperate state of the Union these days, not that the up-coming US election has much relevancy to anything of import but the illusion that voting every five years is a reflection of real democracy, has to be maintained.

And regardless of what the polls say, it’s obvious that the corporate press are pushing for an Obama win, perhaps because the Clintons are vulnerable to attack and also because Obama can be better sold as a ‘fresh face’, (no obvious skeletons in his closet). Yet look at who Obama has grouped around him—almost without exception they are from the Cheney/Bush propaganda team.

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Asia's Booming Arms Race

Asia's Hidden Arms Race: Six Countries Talk Peace While Preparing for War
by John Feffer
Read all about it! Diplomats remain upbeat about solving the nuclear stand-off with North Korea; optimists envision a peace treaty to replace the armistice that halted, but failed to formally end, the Korean War 55 years ago. Some leaders and scholars are even urging the transformation of the Six Party Talks over the Korean nuclear issue, involving the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the two Koreas, into a permanent peace structure in Northeast Asia.

The countries in the region all seem determined to make nice right now. Yasuo Fukuda, the new Japanese prime minister, is considerably more pacific than his predecessor, the ultra-nationalist Shinzo Abe. The new South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, despite his conservative credentials, is committed to continuing the previous president's engagement policy with North Korea and plans to reach out to Japan via his first post-inaugural state visit. The party that won the recent Taiwanese parliamentary elections, the Kuomintang, wants to rebuild bridges to the Mainland and, when it comes to the Communist Party there, mend fences the ruling Democratic Progressive Party tried to pull down. Beijing, for its part, is being super-conciliatory toward practically everyone in this Olympic year.

Despite all this peace-talk, something else, quite momentous and hardly noticed, is underway in the region. The real money in Northeast Asia is going elsewhere. While in the news sunshine prevails, in the shadows an already massive regional arms race is threatening to shift into overdrive.
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The Three Clowns of the Apocalypse: War on Everything Left

The War Against Tolerance
by Chris Hedges
Walid Shoebat, Kamal Saleem and Zachariah Anani are the three stooges of the Christian right. These self-described former Muslim terrorists are regularly trotted out at Christian colleges - a few days ago they were at the Air Force Academy - to spew racist filth about Islam on behalf of groups such as Focus on the Family.
It is a clever tactic. Curly, Larry and Mo, who all say they are born-again Christians, engage in hate speech and assure us it comes from personal experience. They tell their audiences that the only way to deal with one-fifth of the world’s population is by converting or eradicating all Muslims. 
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Democracy Gets the D.C. Treatment in Washington State

Democracy G.O.P. Style in Washington State
by Scott Horton
One of the open chapters in the internal corruption scandal rocking the Justice Department relates to Washington State. The U.S. Attorney in Seattle, John McKay, a uniformly well regarded Republican prosecutor, was fired on December 7, 2007. It appears that his termination had a lot to do with the sense among the leadership of the state’s G.O.P. that he “didn’t do enough to help” with the elections.
In particular, it appears that McKay did not engage in voter suppression tactics that the Republican hierarchy wanted to use to keep minorities away from the polls. He also failed to rally to the G.O.P.’s side in an exceptionally narrow 2004 gubernatorial contest, in which the Democrats prevailed by a paper thin margin. Of course, had McKay done what the party bosses wanted, he’d probably have committed several felonies.

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Ravens In the Storm

Like Some Raven At My Window With A Broken Wing: Carl Oglesby’s Ravens In the Storm
by Ron Jacobs
Carl Oglesby was once the president of the original Students for a Democratic Society (SDS). Before that he was working for a defense contractor. His last project with the company was to develop a method of delivering Agent Orange so that it would cover the Vietnamese jungle (and the humans therein) with the chemical as thoroughly and cheaply as possible.
He was typical of his generation. He was a political liberal, was married, and believed in his work. Then a moment of cognitive dissonance occurred when John F. Kennedy was murdered and his company refused to lower the flag to half-mast until ordered to do so by the corporate headquarters.
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Iraq's Tidal Wave of Misery

Iraq's Tidal Wave of Misery: The First History of the Planet's Worst Refugee Crisis
by Michael Schwartz
A tidal wave of misery is engulfing Iraq -- and it isn't the usual violence that Americans are accustomed to hearing about and tuning out. To be sure, it's rooted in that violence, but this tsunami of misery is social and economic in nature. It dislodges people from their jobs, sweeps them from their homes, tears them from their material possessions, and carries them off from families and communities. It leaves them stranded in hostile towns or foreign countries, with no anchor to resist the moment when the next wave of displacement sweeps over them.

The victims of this human tsunami are called refugees if they wash ashore outside the country or IDPs ("internally displaced persons") if their landing place is within Iraq's borders. Either way, they are normally left with no permanent housing, no reliable livelihood, no community support, and no government aid. All the normal social props that support human lives are removed, replaced with…nothing.

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