As Goes General Motors...

We Don't Need the General Motors Corp.
by Mike Ferner
Times are anxious indeed, but simultaneously we are face-to-face with an extremely rare chance to replace our transportation system with something we can literally live with.

To take advantage of this uncommon opportunity we will have to do something far more profound, yet less costly, than a government bailout or an act of Congress. We will have to, as Paul Newman said in Cool Hand Luke, “get our minds right” on one simple fact: what we need is reliable, sustainable transportation. That does not mean we need General Motors Corporation or even cars. Contemplate the freedom implied in that statement for just a moment: we do not need General Motors Corporation.

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Obama's Gaza Speech

Abridged Remarks of President Obama at Gaza
by President Barack Obama*
President Obama delivered a powerful speech today when he visited Gaza. He spoke on genocide, hatred, and the ability of people to commit acts of bravery and kindness even in times of horror.

PRESIDENT OBAMA: More than half a century later, our grief and our outrage over what happened have not diminished. I will not forget what I've seen here today. We are here today because we know this work is not yet finished. To this day, there are those who insist that the Nakba never happened -- a denial of fact and truth that is baseless and ignorant and hateful. This place is the ultimate rebuke to such thoughts; a reminder of our duty to confront those who would tell lies about our history.

Also to this day, there are those who perpetuate every form of intolerance -- racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, xenophobia, sexism, and more -- hatred that degrades its victims and diminishes us all. In this century, we've seen genocide. We've seen mass graves and the ashes of villages burned to the ground; children used as soldiers and rape used as a weapon of war.
This places teaches us that we must be ever vigilant about the spread of evil in our own time, that we must reject the false comfort that others' suffering is not our problem and commit ourselves to resisting those who would subjugate others to serve their own interests.

But as we reflect today on the human capacity for evil and our shared obligation to defy it, we're also reminded of the human capacity for good. For amidst the countless acts of cruelty that took place here, we know that there were many acts of courage and kindness, as well. They could not have known these things. But still surrounded by death they willed themselves to hold fast to life. In their hearts they still had faith that evil would not triumph in the end, that while history is unknowable it arches towards progress, and that the world would one day remember them. And it is now up to us, the living, in our work, wherever we are, to resist injustice and intolerance and indifference in whatever forms they may take, and ensure that those who were lost here did not go in vain. It is up to us to redeem that faith. It is up to us to bear witness; to ensure that the world continues to note what happened here; to remember all those who survived and all those who perished, and to remember them not just as victims, but also as individuals who hoped and loved and dreamed just like us.

And just as we identify with the victims, it's also important for us I think to remember that the perpetrators of such evil were human, as well, and that we have to guard against cruelty in ourselves.

* Of course, President Obama did not venture into Gaza, world's largest open air prison, to bear witness to the Holocaust, known to the those suffering its cruelty as the Nakba ( currently being undertaken by Israel, the nation enjoying an "unbreakable bond" with America.
Israel, against the president's pleas above, and against the censure of the rest of the world, continues to dispossess those non-Jews living within remnant Palestine, burning their crops, destroying their orchards, poisoning and burying their wells, killing their livestock, and girding their villages, towns, camps, and cities with walls and guns.
As Mr. Obama delivered his speech today, so-called "settlers," aided by the Israel Defense Force, set alight fields ready for harvest and terrorized farmers; even as the Israeli government refused tonnes of food, medical supplies, and other necessities of life entering the besieged and embattled territories.

Below is a video of Obama's actual speech, given at the gates of Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany. As ever, he spoke eloquently and without irony, reiterating the message of the memorial built to honour the victims of fascism: Jews; Gentiles; and others killed and tormented at Buchenwald and other places, "Never Again."
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Demon Iran and the Threat to Democracy

The great, international, demonic, truly frightening Iranian threat
by William Blum
The United States is "facing a nuclear threat in Iran" — article in Chicago Tribune and other major newspapers, May 26

"the growing missile threat from North Korea and Iran" — article in the Washington Post and other major newspapers, May 26

"Iran's threat transcends religion. Regardless of sectarian bent, Muslim communities need to oppose the attempts by Iran ... to extend Shia extremism and influence throughout the world." — op-ed article in Boston Globe, May 27

"A Festering Evil. Doing nothing is not an option in handling the threat from Iran" — headline in Investor's Business Daily, May 27, 2009

After taking office, on Holocaust Memorial Day, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said: "We will not allow Holocaust-deniers [Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad] to carry out another holocaust." — Haaretz (Israel), May 14, 2009
This is a very small sample from American newspapers covering but two days. Like clinical paranoia, "the threat from Iran" is impervious to correction by rational argument.
"Fifty-one percent of Israelis support an immediate Israeli strike on Iran's nuclear sites" — BBC, May 24
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Nicaragua’s Revenge

Nicaragua’s Revenge: Cuba, The OAS and Iraq
by Sherwood Ross
Miami, Florida, June 4, 2009 - It was three o’clock this morning when I was awakened from a beautiful dream by police knocking on the door of my apartment to come down to the parking garage and identify my vandalized car. Downstairs, they had the suspect handcuffed in the back seat of a squad car, one of four parked in the street.
Couldn’t see much of him through the window with the flashing lights of the squad cars blinding me but he appeared to be about twenty with long, greasy black hair and wild eyes. He was yelling at everyone and no one and when he began kicking the rear door the police opened it and said a few words of warning that made him stop.
I don’t know how the crazy people are differentiated from the allegedly sane people any more but it would be safe to hazard a guess the perpetrator was not all together. Someone among the knot of my neighbors whose car windows had also been smashed in said the man was from Nicaragua, as if that explained anything.

Not being totally altogether myself, it occurred to me as a humorous aside that the assault upon our vehicles was “Nicaragua’s Revenge” for what President Ronald Reagan’s so-called “freedom fighters,” the Contras, had inflicted upon that small country’s leftist Sandanista government for having the temerity to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship in 1979.
During his presidency, Reagan was supposed to know nothing of U.S. support for the Contras, who were, in the words of William Blum, author of “Rogue State,” “burning down schools and medical clinics, raping, torturing, mining harbors, bombing and strafing.”
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Obama Brings Hope to Israel: End the Occupation - Start Living

End the Occupation - Start Living
by Gush Shalom
Uri Avnery:"The President of the US understands the interests of Israel much better than Israel's own government. Obama offers a real hope to Israelis and Palestinians while Netanyhau's 'Government of Yesterday' has nothing to offer" [...] As an Israeli patriot I must say, without the shadow of a doubt, that at this moment the President of United States understands the interests of Israel much better than Israel's own Prime Minister and his ministers" says Uri Avnery of Gush Shalom, the Israeli Peace Bloc.

"In his memorable Cairo speech, as in his entire career so far, President Obama has opened up a horizon of real hope to the citizens of Israel as to the Palestinians and to all Arabs and Muslims as he brought hope to the citizens to the US, who elected him. Conversely, Netayahu's is 'Yesterday's Government' offers no solution of any kind, and whose policy consists of clinging blindly to continued occupation and settlement expansion.
CAIA Victoria will join marchers across the world, including Israel, in a demonstration to end the occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza. Our will be at 12:00 noon, around the Information booth across from the Empress, where we held our previous demonstration against the murderous attack on Gaza. Please join us, Ed Daniel

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Homeland Body Count: Econocide in America

Econocide: Body Count 3
by Nick Turse
After David B. Kellermann, the chief financial officer of beleaguered mortgage giant Freddie Mac, tied a noose and hanged himself in the basement of his Vienna, Virginia, home, the New York Times made it a front-page story. The stresses of the job in economic tough times, its reporters implied, had driven him to this extreme act.

"Binghamton Shooter" Jiverly Wong also garnered front-page headlines nationwide and set off a cable news frenzy when, "bitter over job loss," he massacred 13 people at an immigration center in upstate New York. Similarly, coverage was brisk after Pittsburgh resident Richard Poplawski, "upset about recently losing a job," shot four local police officers, killing three of them.

But where was the front-page treatment when, in January, Betty Lipply, a 72-year-old resident of East Palestine, Ohio, "who feared she'd lose her home to foreclosure hanged herself to death" shortly after "receiving her second summons and foreclosure complaint from her mortgage lender"?
And where was the up-to-the-minute cable news reporting on the two California dairy farmers who "killed themselves... out of despair over finances, according to associates"?
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Iceland: "Stop Whale Hunting Now!"

Tell Iceland to Stop Whale Hunting Now!
by Care2 Campaign Team
It's a terrifying time for whales. Iceland's whaling season began last week, despite international outcry against the bloody hunt. Whalers plan to kill up to 100 minke whales this season.
Tell Iceland's Minister of Fisheries to reduce this year's whale hunt quotas immediately, and work toward a full ban on whaling in Iceland:
Clearly Iceland is sensitive to the outrage against whaling -- particularly its impact on the country's tourism industry. Whaling is banned close to Reykjavik harbor, and the first whales are usually killed in a bay just outside of the capital city. But clearly a more effective effort to protect Iceland's tourism industry and popular whale watching businesses would be to ban the brutal whaling program completely. That is why we need your help.
These majestic beauties of the ocean deserve to live in peace.
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Strauss and the Iraq War

Leo Strauss and the Iraq War
by Scott Horton l No Comment
It’s a commonplace among political philosophy students to note that the Neocons may be Straussians, but that hardly makes Leo Strauss a Neocon. After all, he died in 1973, and his daughter insists that he voted for Adlai Stevenson and had liberal leanings before his notoriously negative reaction to the student movement of the late sixties.
But Alan Gilbert argues that Leo Strauss’s politics are very close to those of the recent generation of politically active Neocons. He traces the idea of a great anti-modern tyrant in the writings of Strauss, drawing on his discussion of Machiavelli, Xenophon, Plato, and his contemporary Alexandre Kojève. But the most interesting nuggets in Gilbert’s paper relate to Strauss’s direct engagement in the political world.

In the early sixties, Leo Strauss counseled Charles Percy, then contemplating a bid for the G.O.P. presidential nomination in 1964. Some of his advice is striking. Writing before the Cuban missile crisis, he advocates adopting a military strategy of confrontation with the Communists designed to address their program of world domination:

    There cannot be a modus vivendi until Russia abandons Communism, in the sense that it ceases to act on the premises of Communism; for it is utterly uninteresting to us and the rest of the non-Communist world whether the Russians go on paying lip-service to Communism, provided they have become convinced that the Free World is here to stay, and they act on this conviction. To bring about this change of mind, the West must be as tough and, if need be, as brutal as the Communists are to the West. The West must demonstrate to the Communists, by words and deeds which allow no possibility of error, that they must postpone forever the establishment of the Communist world society.
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How the Media Annexed Palestine

How the media annexed East Jerusalem
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
Talks between Barack Obama and the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships over the past fortnight have unleashed a flood of media interest in the settlements Israel has been constructing on Palestinian territory for more than four decades. The US president’s message is unambiguous: the continuing growth of the settlements makes impossible the establishment of a Palestinian state, and therefore peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

It is one he is expected to repeat when he addresses the Muslim world from Cairo tomorrow.

The implication of Mr Obama’s policy is that, once Israel has frozen the settlements, it will have to begin dismantling a significant number of them to restore territory needed for a Palestinian state. Understandably, in an era of rolling news many media outlets have been scrambling for instant copy on the settlers, relying chiefly on the international news agencies, such as Reuters, the Associated Press (AP) and Agence France-Presse (AFP).

These organisations with staff based in Jerusalem and Tel Aviv churn out a stream of reports picked up by newspapers and broadcasters around the globe.
So, given their influence on world opinion and the vital importance of the settlement issue in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, can readers depend on the news agencies to provide fair coverage? The answer, sadly, is: no.

Even on the most basic fact about the settlers — the number living on occupied Palestinian territory — the agencies regularly get it wrong.

There are about half a million Jews living illegally on land occupied by Israel in the 1967 war. Give or take the odd few thousand (Israel is slow to update its figures), there are nearly 300,000 settlers in the West Bank and a further 200,000 in East Jerusalem.

Sounds simple. So what is to be made of this fairly typical line from a report issued by AFP last week: “More than 280,000 settlers currently live in settlements dotted throughout the Palestinian territory that Israel captured during the 1967 Six Day War”?

Or this from AP: “The US considers the settlements — home to nearly 300,000 Israelis — obstacles to peace because they are built on captured territory the Palestinians claim for a future state”?

Where are the missing 200,000 settlers?
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Obama, Rhetoric, and the Imagined Muslim Singularity

Can Obama Work His Magic on Arabs?
by Ramzy Baroud
Among many major misconceptions pertaining to Arabs and Muslims is the common belief that they are a weak-willed, irrelevant collective, easily influenced and effortlessly manipulated. This mistaken assumption underscores the very ailment that has afflicted United States foreign policy in the Middle East for generations.

As media pundits and commentators began their drum-rolling in anticipation of US President Barack Obama's speech in Egypt on Thursday, very few paid attention to the fact that Arabs and Muslims are not so naive as to be wooed by mere rhetoric, but that they are significant players in their own affairs, capable of resistance and change.

To begin with, it's underhanded and foolish to speak of one Arab and Muslim polity, as if geography, class, language and politics, among many other factors, are irrelevant attributes which are easily overlooked. Why is there an insistence on addressing Arabs and Muslims as one unified body - that is, the so-called "Muslim world" - that behaves according to specific rationale; predisposed to respond to the same stimuli? True, various groups within the Arab and Muslim collective share common history, language and religion, but even the same groups differ in historic interpretations, dialects and religious sects and frames of reference.
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The Devil We Know – Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower

Reviewing The Devil We Know – Dealing with the New Iranian Superpower
by Jim Miles
Iran is obviously a key player in the Middle East.  The many references within other texts dealing with other aspects of the Middle East and the several texts dealing specifically with Iran highlight its significance.  Part of that significance is that Iran - whether discussing the topics of nuclear weapons, terrorism, Lebanon, Hezbollah, Hamas, empire, or the now broadening ‘AfPak’ war – is a rational player, flexible, able and willing to negotiate.  

This viewpoint is strongly reinforced by Robert Baer’s work The Devil We Know, an ironic title in that one of his central themes is that we – the United States – do not know them at all correctly but as caricatures of evil reinforced by our – the United States – ignorance of their long history and characteristics of pragmatism and flexibility.  When compared to the failures of all the other governments in the region which are “bound to collapse,” Baer’s conclusion reads, “Iran is the only stable, enduring state in the Gulf.”  One of his summative paragraphs deserves full reiteration:

If we ignore their words and focus on their actions, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah are rational actors.  They’re willing to talk to the West.  They’re willing to set bounds.  They have fixed reasonable demands.

That could be compared to U.S. words and actions, also often in conflict with each other, but going the other way – fine words, colonialist mentality actions – in which “there’s a persistent, mistaken belief that the Iranians are irrational and dogmatic.”
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Pacific Wild Exposes British Columbia's Wild Life

by Pacific
A short documentary explaining our non-invasive remote camera system and its promise for understanding the secret lives of the rainforest inhabitants.
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