In the giant competition we know as ‘the world’, Finland minds it’s own business and does it’s own thing. Come to find out, Finnish teenagers are way smarter than other teenagers of the world. This comes as an astonishing surprise to many people and has made news in the Wall Street Journal, that erstwhile chronicle of all things competitive.
High-school students here rarely get more than a half-hour of homework a night. They have no school uniforms, no honor societies, no valedictorians, no tardy bells and no classes for the gifted. There is little standardized testing, few parents agonize over college and kids don’t start school until age 7.
Yet by one international measure, Finnish teenagers are among the smartest in the world. They earned some of the top scores by 15-year-old students who were tested in 57 countries. American teens finished among the world’s C students even as U.S. educators piled on more homework, standards and rules. Finnish youth, like their U.S. counterparts, also waste hours online. They dye their hair, love sarcasm and listen to rap and heavy metal. But by ninth grade they’re way ahead in math, science and reading — on track to keeping Finns among the world’s most productive workers.
What could it mean? How do they do it?
The academic prowess of Finland’s students has lured educators from more than 50 countries in recent years to learn the country’s secret, including an official from the U.S. Department of Education. What they find is simple but not easy: well-trained teachers and responsible children. Early on, kids do a lot without adults hovering. And teachers create lessons to fit their students. “We don’t have oil or other riches. Knowledge is the thing Finnish people have,” says Hannele Frantsi, a school principal.
Visitors and teacher trainees can peek at how it’s done from a viewing balcony perched over a classroom at the Norssi School in Jyväskylä, a city in central Finland. What they see is a relaxed, back-to-basics approach. The school, which is a model campus, has no sports teams, marching bands or prom.
Here’s the thing. Children are built from the inside out. Societies are built from the ground up. Here in America we use the outside in and top down models, and that’s why our people can’t string two thoughts together without assistance. That’s why our society is crumbling before our eyes. That’s why so many teenagers in American suffer from depression and stress. Americans are not allowed to BE.
There’s a little saying, and I don’t know where it comes from, but it goes something like this: Some people think they need to have what they want to have, so they can do what they want to do, so they can be who they want to be. In reality, you need to be who you want to be, and then you can do what you want to do, and then you will have what you want to have. The Finnish understand this, and they let their children develop from the inside out, and therefore they become intelligent, productive citizens. Viola!
In contrast, here in America and in many places around the world (in cultures competing with America), parents force ridiculous expectations onto their children to perform. They want their children to have resumes, to have experiences, to have skills, and to have knowledge, so they can get into the greatest colleges and grow up to be rich executives or movie stars. So the parents force all this activity onto their children, and the children are not allowed to be, to exist, to enjoy the holy freedom of childhood.
We don’t have time for freedom. We don’t have time for childhood. The ‘best’ Americans inculcate their children from early on to strive. Learn to strive and get used to it because you can look forward to a lifetime of competition.
Parenting is very difficult, but our culture makes it even more perilous than necessary. If we didn’t have such a cutthroat culture, perhaps we could let our children kick back a little. Perhaps we wouldn’t spend big chunks of our family budgets on their extracurricular activities. They could go outside and learn baseball with the kids in the neighborhood instead of us spending money on Little League. But in order for this to happen we have to have neighborhoods, and we have to let our kids play outside instead of scheduling their every waking moment. The parents who currently do things like this are looked askance at as ‘bad’ parents by the ‘good’ parents who provide their children sufficient (paid) extracurricular enhancements.
Here’s what happens if you let your kid play outside. Here’s what people really think in America. “What are you, poor? Too poor to sign your kid up for dance/soccer/gymnastics/guitar/singing/theater/football/hockey/la cross? You slacker. Get a third job so you can put your kids in activities. Because if you don’t, your kid will have no one to play with.” And that’s the truth. Middle class children will not have many friends unless their parents pay to put them in activities. That’s how you meet other kids. You don’t have to bother with working it out in the neighborhood anymore. You just find your people via paid activities, and that way you don’t have to deal with the others.
In America, kids belong in activities. That’s how we measure the quality of parenting. More is MORE.
But here’s the truth: less is more. Kids need to grow into themselves. Recreation is not always about playing a sport or learning in a structured environment. Kids need time to be outside, to play games (not video) with friends, to imagine, to be alone, to suffer through boredom and find things to do. By allowing our children to grow at their own pace instead of forcing the pressures of adulthood on them, we allow them to develop an actual personality. We allow them to be.
Sadly, we have a nation full of children whose growth has been deformed. Yes, children need to be pruned from time to time. If you know your children and pay attention to them, you can spot a wayward branch budding and pinch it off quickly. But so many people spend so much time making money to keep up their lifestyles that they don’t really know their children. Too many children are like topped trees. Their natural grown patterns have been cut off, and the growth that replaces it is vigorous and ugly.
The forces behind this dynamic cannot be summarized quickly. Families now need multiple jobs to make enough income to pay bills, and I am not here to cast aspersions on people trying to provide stability. We live it too. But as a people we need to stop striving to imitate the upper classes. It’s a bad deal for working people to work and work and work so much to provide a lifestyle for their children to the point that they no longer have time to parent. It would be better for us to scale back our expectations. Our children would be better off. In any case, the economy will take care of this problem soon enough. Many children will soon have more time on their hands as their parents just simply decide they can’t keep up, but some of them will not know what on earth to do with it.
From The Guardian:
Or, to put it another way, the Qassam rockets have been falling on Sderot for a very long time, but they rarely cause injury. In the past month, they have severely wounded three Israeli children. As everyone knows, the rockets are 'notoriously inaccurate'. That phrase has been linked to the Qassam rockets in perpetuity.
Four Palestinian children were killed while playing football yesterday as Israel hit back at the Gaza Strip with more than 10 air strikes, after Hamas militants escalated their rocket fire into southern Israel. The deaths follow that of a six-month-old Palestinian baby, who was killed the previous evening when Israel intensified its attack on Gaza after a 47-year-old Israeli man was killed by a Hamas-fired rocket.
The surge in fighting began after Israel killed five Hamas rocket launchers, prompting the group that rules Gaza to more than double its missile attacks into Israel's neighbouring towns.
While Wednesday's Israeli fatality was the first in nine months, rockets fall on the southern Israeli town of Sderot almost daily. In February alone, three Israeli children have been severely wounded, including one who lost his leg.
The Qassam rockets are notoriously inaccurate - Hamas launched 28 yesterday and only 10 landed in Israel - but there are growing fears that the militants are acquiring an arsenal with a longer range. Israel's police said five foreign-made rockets similar to the kind that Hizbullah fired from southern Lebanon into northern Israel, triggering the 2006 war, landed in Ashkelon, a city north of Sderot. One of the rockets pierced the roof of an apartment building, but no one was hurt.Just because Israel's police 'said' the rockets were 'foreign-made' and were 'similar' to the ones that triggered the 2006 war with Lebanon, that doesn't make it true. It also doesn't justify Israel murdering innocent Palestinian civilians. Israel decided to start the war with Lebanon, and Israel decided to wage a completely asymmetrical war against the Palestinians. Our 'Decider', GWB, decided to start an illegal war against Iraq. Nations wage wars. It's a decision. It doesn't just 'happen'.
So. What does Israel have to say for itself? Do they express any remorse for the innocent lives lost? No. They can only focus on their own deaths.
Whatever the hell that means. Kicking it up a notch or two, some Israelis have actually used the term 'holocaust' to describe what the Palestinians 'could bring on themselves'. No I'm not kidding.
Public pressure is mounting on Israel's government to stop the rockets, which have killed 13 since 2001. While visiting Sderot, the defence minister, Ehud Barak, said: "A solution to the Qassams will be found faster than what most people believe." But Israel refuses to talk to Hamas, because the Islamist group refuses to acknowledge the Jewish state's right to exist, will not renounce violence and refuses to adhere to previous peace agreements signed by Palestinian leaders.
Israel's attempts to thwart the militants with an eight month-long blockade on Gaza has driven the population into deep poverty, but it has failed to stop the militants' missile attacks. Pressure has been mounting for a harsher military response, yet the government is divided over how to improve the effectiveness of its military strikes. Some ministers are calling for a full scale invasion of Gaza.
"We must prepare for escalation. A large, significant and tangible ground operation. We won't flinch," Barak said in a closed meeting, according to the Associated Press. "Israel will reach those responsible, hit them in operations, and Hamas will pay the price for its activities."
But the interior minister, Meir Sheetrit, opposed a large scale ground operation, arguing that it would not put an end to the rocket fire. "This is the wrong approach and it won't lead us anywhere. We won't just go in and suddenly everything will be OK," he said, according to AP.
Instead, Sheetrit advocated an increase in the number of targeted killings of Hamas operatives. "We must not let anyone involved in the shooting stay alive."
An Israeli minister today warned of increasingly bitter conflict in the Gaza Strip, saying the Palestinians could bring on themselves what he called a "holocaust".One can only hope they are loath to commit holocausts.
"The more Qassam [rocket] fire intensifies and the rockets reach a longer range, they will bring upon themselves a bigger shoah because we will use all our might to defend ourselves," Matan Vilnai, Israel's deputy defence minister, told army radio.
Shoah is the Hebrew word normally reserved to refer to the Jewish Holocaust. It is rarely used in Israel outside discussions of the Nazi extermination of Jews during the second world war, and many Israelis are loath to countenance its use to describe other events.
The minister's statement came after two days of tit-for-tat missile raids between Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip and the Israeli army. At least 32 Palestinians and one Israeli have been killed since the surge in violence on Wednesday.
..."It will be sad, and difficult, but we have no other choice," Vilnai said, referring to the large-scale military operation he said Israel was preparing to bring a halt to the rocket fire.The psychopath will always blame the victim for 'making me do it'. Just so, Vilnai describes how Israel is reluctantly but inexorably being forced by the Palestinians to smash Gaza into smithereens. "We have no other choice." Of course, they can wait for better weather. They'll use that time to put the finishing touches on their plans. But remember, they have "no other choice".
"We're getting close to using our full strength. Until now, we've used a small percentage of the army's power because of the nature of the territory."
Israel would not launch a ground offensive in the next week or two, partly because the military would prefer to wait for better weather, defence sources said. But the army had completed its preparations and was awaiting the government's order to move, officials said.
Seriously. Sderot is just a ratty little village, but Ashkelon is a whole other pail of worms. Ashkelon has great sports facilities and a beach, and a population of 120,000. Israel can't allow rockets to fall on one of it's cosmopolitan centers. That would be out of bounds.
Also please note the arrival of three US warships in the eastern Mediterranean, and a visit next week by the Princess of Darkness, Condoleeza Rice.
Until now, the Palestinian rocket squads have largely targeted Sderot, a small town near Gaza. Ashkelon, a big population centre only 25 miles from Tel Aviv, was caught unprepared, its mayor said on Friday.
"It's a city of 120,000 people, with large facilities – a huge soccer stadium, a basketball stadium and a beach. No one is ready for this," Roni Mehatzri told Israel Radio.
Right. "Because they have no choice." That, my friends, is what we call a Big Lie. Make no mistake. When they start the next war, it will be a war of choice. They will start it when they choose, they will kill whoever they choose, they will take whatever they choose, they will say whatever they choose, and so on.
There were further indications that Israel was preparing for an offensive by sending confidential messages to world leaders, including the US secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, who plans to visit the region next week.
"Israel is not keen on, and rushing for, an offensive, but Hamas is leaving us no choice," the Israeli defence minister, Ehud Barak, told the senior figures, according to Israel's mass circulation daily, Yedioth Ahronoth.
Security sources were quoted by both Israel Radio and army radio as saying a big operation was being prepared but was not imminent.
But you, Citizen, you don't have to believe them. You can choose to see the Truth.
There's just one point I would like to stress, and that is the role played by the corporate media. Without a willing press, none of this could have been accomplished. The press has not exactly played the 'unwitting' role in all of this. On the contrary. They who have been trained to know better have abandoned their responsibilities to US in exchange for fame and fortune. Bob Somerby has been documenting the fall of our pampered press corps for years. As he has said many times, they have made a joke of our democracy. Bush and Cheney can thank the press for demurely looking away while they dismantled the Constitution.
Today the crucial watchdog function of our democracy, what's left of it, resides in the alternative media and the blogosphere. The job should not have fallen largely to citizen journalists and bloggers, but it has. We are not looking away, we are looking right at these bastards. We are watching what they're doing and writing it down. Maybe they'll take us away someday. It wouldn't surprise me. So please support those who spend their time and effort, in most cases without compensation, to find out what's going on and who bring the word to you. To follow current events and attempt to make sense of it all is a labor of love. Love for you, people.
A report commissioned by the United Nations suggests that Palestinian terrorism is the "inevitable consequence" of Israeli occupation and laws that resemble South African apartheid — a claim Israel rejected Tuesday as enflaming hatred between Jews and Palestinians.The man speaks truth, but note the Israeli reaction. This Dugard, he is 'enflaming hatred' between Jews and Palestinians.
The report by John Dugard, independent investigator on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for the U.N. Human Rights Council, will be presented next month, but it has been posted on the body's Web site.
In it, Dugard, a South African lawyer who campaigned against apartheid in the 1980s, says "common sense ... dictates that a distinction must be drawn between acts of mindless terror, such as acts committed by al-Qaida, and acts committed in the course of a war of national liberation against colonialism, apartheid or military occupation."
!!!! (eyebrows arching)
I see. Apparently we are to believe that the violent, murderous Israeli occupation doesn't inflame hatred. It's just the vicious people like Dugard who insist on talking about it who keep causing all the trouble. Look at what he says!
Well...actually...that makes perfect sense. I would go so far as to say that it is obvious, and self-evident, and plain as the nose on your face, etc.
While Palestinian terrorist acts are to be deplored, "they must be understood as being a painful but inevitable consequence of colonialism, apartheid or occupation," writes Dugard, whose 25-page report accuses the Jewish state of acts and policies consistent with all three.
He cited checkpoints and roadblocks restricting Palestinian movement to house demolitions and what he terms the "Judaization" of Jerusalem.
As long as there is occupation, there will be terrorism, he argues.
"Acts of terror against military occupation must be seen in historical context," Dugard says. "This is why every effort should be made to bring the occupation to a speedy end. Until this is done, peace cannot be expected, and violence will continue."
That's very rich. We have here a case of complete projection of Israel's behavior toward the Palestinians (intentionally targeting civilians with the mere purpose to kill) as well as a blatant lie (serious talks, blah blah blah).
Israel's U.N. ambassador in Geneva slammed Dugard's analysis.
"The common link between al-Qaida and the Palestinian terrorists is that both intentionally target civilians with the mere purpose to kill," Itzhak Levanon said. "The fact that Professor Dugard is ignoring this essential fact, demonstrates his inability to use objectivity in his assessment.
"Professor Dugard will better serve the cause of peace by ceasing to enflame the hatred between Israelis and Palestinians, who have embarked on serious talks to solve this contentious situation."
Israel has a bone to pick with Dugard because, unlike the corporate media, which constantly and consistently tells Israel's side of the story, he has focused only on the Palestinian side. This makes him 'one-sided', and therefore he is not credible. However, anyone who is 'one-sided' for the Israeli position is by definition credible. That's how that works, you see. Oh and by the way, Israel refused to allow Dugard on a fact-finding mission on it's 2006 Gaza offensive, evidently because he can not be relied upon to see the correct 'side'. So I bet that means he doesn't even know what he's talking about...or something.
I first read Dmitry Orlov a few years back, back in the days when I was still staggering under the weight of The Truth. I had not yet learned to carry the grim future on my shoulders. During the intervening years I have learned to balance the heavy burden with hope, so that now the yoke across my back weighs a great deal, but I can carry it because it’s balanced. And so I plod on. This requires a daily, perhaps obsessive need to follow current events, because at any given moment the situation can spiral out of control and the burden of the grim future can become unbearably heavy such that I can no longer balance it. By keeping my fingers on the pulse of our world, I tell myself that I can adjust my counterweight, hope, accordingly and constantly, and thereby continue to balance the powerfully burdensome weight of the world on my shoulders. I treasure those who labor under the yoke with me. I pray for those whose weight we drag behind us, that they may come to their senses, step forward and help us before it’s too late. I understand the phrase “carrying the weight of the world on one’s shoulders” in a way that I never did before our communal life began to unravel. Now it’s clear to me that the only way to carry the reality of our world is with humility, hope and constant vigilance. Whether we accept this yoke and embrace it willingly, or whether circumstances force it upon us, that is the question.
Dmitry Orlov has outlined a wise counsel here about what the future holds. Please read the whole thing. We who spend a lot of time with alternative news can get sidetracked into dark alleys devoid of all hope and light. But we have to keep carrying hope, and not just a little, but a LOT. I’m talking about buckets full. It’s the only way to counterbalance the darkness. Without hope, we will fall swiftly to the bottom, living like animals but without their nobility.
If you can’t have hope in God, have hope in your fellow human beings. Some of us will not disappoint you. Be one of those people with us by carrying a little hope. Not the dementia of denial, but true hope that we can still pull it together as a people, as Americans, when life as we know it collapses.
Some senior US military commanders are prepared to resign if President Bush orders a military strike against Iran, a new report says.How about if, instead of quitting, they stayed and said, "NO." Wouldn't it be better to stay and defy the psychopaths? Because if they just up and leave, Bush will find some other underlings to step forward, take their places, and carry out the orders. If they stay, on the other hand, what's Bush going to do about it?
“There are four or five generals and admirals we know of who would resign if Bush ordered an attack on Iran,” The Sunday Times quoted Monday a source with close ties to British intelligence .
“There is simply no stomach for it in the Pentagon, and a lot of people question whether such an attack would be effective or even possible,” the source added.
If proven true a revolt on such a scale would be unprecedented because 'American generals usually stay and fight until they get fired,” said a Pentagon source.
Robert Gates, the defense secretary, has repeatedly warned against striking Iran and is believed to represent the view of his senior commanders.
Iran has announced that in face of any aggression it will respond like a 'tsunami'.
You know, we have long passed the point where symbolic gestures like resignations have the power to stop the crazy psychopathic behavior of our insane leaders. It takes more than that. It takes active resistance. I appreciate the Generals' alarm, but they need to care less about preserving the niceties of military protocol and more about the niceties of preserving a semi-habitable planet.
Here's the link to a piece by David Kirby, in which he explains the whole pail of worms pretty succinctly. I don't have too much time to write about it, but I will just share my anecdotal experiences.
My daughter was progressing normally, and by age two it became very clear that something was wrong. She received a lot of help (early intervention, preschool, ABA therapy, etc.) for what they diagnosed as a severe receptive language disorder. It was as if she did not understand English, and unless she looked directly at me when I spoke to her and used a lot of hand signals, she was unlikely to comprehend much of what I said. Fortunately she responded very well to the intensive help, and her problems diminished into what they called a "learning style" by the time she was in second grade. But the whole thing was very disturbing, and at first she seemed so impaired that some teachers suggested I might learn American Sign Language. Others told me, in confidence, to look into the MMR vaccine. That's when I found out that the drug companies don't take nearly the care that we assume they do with the vaccines. But you have to vaccinate your children to send them to school, and my pediatrician insisted that I was being paranoid. From that point on I only let them give my children one vaccine at a time, which required many extra visits to the office. It was only later that I heard about Thimerosal.
To this day our pediatrician has never admitted any doubt about this entire vaccine business. He never misses an opportunity to tell me if he's read an article in one of his medical journals dismissing the vaccine-autism study researchers as quacks. I suppose he doesn't consider that the Federal Government and the drug companies have made him and his colleagues complicit in this enormous crime. Of course the medical journals will cast aspersions on these studies! It goes without saying. The very last thing they want to admit is that the pediatricians have injected millions of babies with poison. Oops. Sorry about wrecking your children's brains.
For the Federal Government to concede this case opens a Pandora's Box of legal liabilities.
I think it's juvenile. Click through to see the secret club patches. I bet they have secret handshakes, too. Maybe it's me, but I look at this stuff and I think it must be appealing to seventh grade boys, and of course, the grown men wearing the secret patches on their secret vests as they use US taxpayer dollars to conduct their super secret black ops.
To people who laugh at the crazy conspiracy theorists interpreting the seeing eye and the pyramid, etc. as actually symbolic, please note the devil, stars, tiger, lightning bolts, rainbows, Omega, etc. on this tiny selection of secret patches.
Is it too much to ask for some adults in charge?
You see, the truth is radical, meaning it is really, really fucked up to the extent that most people will feel like their head is going to explode and their chests will cave in as they comprehend the monstrous lies we've been fed and the horrific crimes we committed against innocent people as a result of the lies. In reality our American lives, past present and future, are a horror show. Therefore, if/when you learn the truth, you will become radicalized. Once you get over the shock, you will be pissed off like you've never been pissed off before. You will realize that you, your children, and your grandchildren have had your futures destroyed, intentionally, by insanely greedy psychopaths. I am not exaggerating. And to make matters worse, you will understand that you have participated and supported the destruction of millions of innocent people around the world. All this very bad news will not make you happy. Indeed, you will want some people held accountable. You will demand accountability.
Now of course, the people who told you all these lies know this, and your unpleasant reaction to the truth poses a little problem for them. So you see, this HR 1955 act will prevent all that dreadful ugliness by quickly labeling you a terrorist and facilitating your speedy removal to some kind of detention facility at the next opportunity (aka pre-scheduled terrorist attack).
(brushing hands together) There! Problem solved! That was easy!
When a Hamas rocket falls near Sderot, the Israelis are rushed to the hospital via ambulance and treated for shock. A single injured or killed Israeli civilian will be reported around the globe as a tragedy worthy of harsh retribution. But in the same country, Israel, 1.5 million Palestinians live in a cage. Palestinian children play outside in raw sewage and do their homework by candlelight.
The new station receives up to 40,000 cubic metres of waste water every day, and it should pump 120 cubic metres an hour through each of six water pumps.
However, only three pumps were installed in the station because the Israeli closure and blockade since June 2007 had prevented the essential parts needed to build the remaining three from entering Gaza.
Power cuts have also been affecting the efficiency of the station. The emergency generator is not functioning well as it requires maintenance and spare parts are lacking. The limited amount of fuel that is let into Gaza is not enough to run the generator for long hours.
...This station was supposed to be a blessing for the neighbourhood but it turned out to be a curse, a health hazard for us all.
Sewage water is filling the streets surrounding the station and flooding nearby houses.
The stench is unbearable.
Tenants in ground floor flats were forced to move in with neighbours on higher floors. People are now using sand bags to absorb the sewage water which continues to seep into their houses.
The amount of children who have been taken ill has increased considerably. Cases of diarrhea are mounting by the day. Even now, children continue to play outside amongst the raw sewage – where else can they go?
And we are now facing a public health crisis.
What disgusts me is that this could all have been prevented had the Israelis opened one checkpoint to allow the spare parts and fuel through....Despite the blockade, we have to continue our daily lives, otherwise we will have nothing left. When the crisis started, some families bought their children gasoline lamps to study by when electricity was cut. Now that fuel is not available and very expensive, children do their homework and study for their exams in candle light.
To add to the deplorable situation, a friend of mine heard on the news yesterday that the course books for the new term will not reach us for at least another month.They have been stuck at the Israeli checkpoints along with spare parts, fuel, food, and medical supplies; people are not let in or out. Gaza has now become a prison for us all.
The Palestinians live in a third-world ghetto that Israel has explicitly set aside and created for them via destructive and malicious policies. These policies have been specifically designed to prevent the Palestinians from making any sort of normal life for themselves. The Israelis complain that the Palestinians are such a burden, but of course they have created this very situation and do everything possible to exacerbate it. It would be ridiculous if it weren't so tragic.
Israel calls itself a democracy, but that is a sick joke. Israel's cruel and vindictive behavior toward the Palestinians must be named by it's proper name. Israel is an apartheid state. Anyone who continues to insist that Israel is a democracy enables that government's continued abhorrent behavior which violates international law and basic human decency.
Public Enemy #1: The Liberal Media, which is out to destroy Saint John McCain.
Really? Since when?
For years I read blogs and occasionally commented. Blogging is better. However, there is the issue of getting readers and finding out who they might be. This involves checking stat logs. By spending a little time checking IP addresses, a blogger can find out when 'persons of interest' stop by, you know like Pentagon, CIA, Quantico, psyops, military, etc. To my disgust, I have noticed that whenever I have written about or linked to military technology and certain other sensitive subjects, lo and behold our government seems to have plenty of people on hand to have a look-see. No lowly blogger escapes the eye of Big Brother. Oh no. They have deep pockets for this crap, courtesy of the US taxpayers. We hand them the money they use to despoil us of our civil rights.
That's right, the bastards know whenever anyone gets near to their criminal activity. Nine million blogs to sort through? No problem. It's pretty obvious, once you start blogging about anything important, that the government must be spending lots of money on data-mining capabilities in order to find every needle in every haystack on the internet. These are your tax dollars at work, paying for government employees to spy on bloggers and intimidate them into staying quiet so that you, dear reader, may not come to a proper understanding of the crimes committed in your name. They don't care about terrorists. They made that whole thing up to justify spying on you and your fellow Americans, especially the bloggers and activists who they consider the real terrorists.
The people in the DC, Virginia, and Maryland area spend lots of time reading blogs. Yes. They are busy as bees sucking up all that alternative news nectar, ascertaining just how much we scrappy bloggers, citizen journalists and news junkies have figured out. And then they go back to their propaganda hives and make more of that psychedelic honey. They decide how to spin the next pitch to the networks, when to send the next email chain letter (pass it on or else!!), when to have another 'incident' to scare the crap out them and stir up their fears and hostilities. The drones just eat it up and do what they're told.
I think it's the dirty little secret of blogging: they are watching us, and we know it. Do you know it, dear reader? You should.
Does that freak you out? It freaked me out. But listen, you can turn off the computer and run away, or you can grab somebody who thinks this is all a big haha and start cluing them in. The more people who understand what's really happening to our country, the better off and safer we will all be. It's as simple as that. Nothing will change until we change it. There is safety in numbers, and there is power in the Truth.
If your neighbor will not come to the Truth, bring the Truth to your neighbor. And do it now.
President George W. Bush and his director of National Intelligence, Mike McConnell, are telling the American people that an unaccountable executive branch is necessary for their protection. Without the Protect America Act, Bush and McConnell claim, the executive branch will not be able to spy on terrorists, and we will all be blown up. Terrorists can only be stopped, Bush says, if Bush has the right to spy on everyone without any oversight by courts.He goes on to handily undo this claptrap, and along the way he offers this explanation for certain confounding events:
As the lawmakers who gave us FISA understood, spying on people without warrants lets a political party collect dirt on its adversaries with which to blackmail them.This is not the first time we've heard this, so I'd just like to put a couple of things in closer relation to one another.
As Bush illegally spied a long time before word of it got out, blackmail might be the reason the Democrats have ignored their congressional election mandate and have not put a stop to Bush’s illegal wars and unconstitutional police state measures.
Perhaps the Democrats have finally caught on that they cannot function as a political party as long as they continue to permit Bush to spy on them. For one reason or another, they have let the Orwellian-named Protect America Act expire.
The first time I heard this was in Luke Ryland's January 6, 2008 post about Sibel Edmunds.
The article notes that Larry Franklin was one of those implicated in the scheme. However, Sibel has previously noted that Franklin was essentially a pawn in the system. More significant is the fact that high-level Pentagon officials were maintaining 'dossiers' on the sexual and financial proclivities of their underlings in order to be able to blackmail them.Could this dossier program on our elected officials and on other Americans, done via the illegal wiretap program, be the unnamed thing that caused the forceful, principled pushback from Ashcroft, Mueller and Comey? A comment to one of Glenn Greenwald's many posts about this lawbreaking noted the heavy involvement of the FBI sheds a little more light:
I know that many of you have been (rightly) concerned about FISA, and many of you have (rightly) been confused by the inexplicable behaviour of Democrats in Congress, and wonder why they behave as though they are being blackmailed.
Now you know.
If any American journalists/media wants to step up, please remember that the nuclear black market story covered by The Times is just one element of Sibel's case.
Note that nowhere in Comey's story are NSA officials mentioned. But FBI Director Robert Mueller was a central player in the drama -- he even met personally with President Bush -- and also was one who threatened resignation. This indicates that, whatever was going on before the program was modified, those activities were being conducted by the FBI, not just the NSA. That could mean purely domestic unwarranted wiretaps, unwarranted black-bag jobs, or similar misconduct.Being a law-abiding citizen generally unfamiliar with FBI slang, I had to look up black-bag jobs. In the old days they involved the FBI illegally sneaking into people's homes and offices. Today the options for sneaking around have expanded dramatically. This analysis from 10/07 asks whether the Senate FISA bill immunizes black-bag jobs. Um, yes? Just a guess.
Perhaps even Ashcroft, Comey and Mueller could see that nobody is safe. Not even them.
Is that right? Because it seems to me that just two days ago ElBaradei said he would release a clean report on Iran which would 'rule out the possibility' that Iran is pursuing a nuclear arms program.
Six major powers are to meet Monday in Washington for fresh talks on how to make Iran give up its contested uranium enrichment activities, a top US diplomat official said Friday.
The State Department's number three Nicholas Burns said foreign ministry officials of the six -- the five UN Security Council permanent members plus Germany -- would review a proposed third UN sanctions resolution against Iran.
"We will review our strategy (launched at the United Nations) in New York, the pace of the resolution," Burns told reporters.
The six powers want Iran to stop enriching uranium, a process which they suspect Tehran aims to use to develop nuclear weapons. Iran insists it is only seeking nuclear power for civilian purposes.
Britain's and France's ambassadors to the UN on Thursday formally submitted to the Security Council members the text of a resolution for new sanctions, which they hope to see passed as soon as possible.
The poposed sanctions include economic and trade restrictions and a travel ban against officials involved in the nuclear program.
The five permanent council members are Britain, the United States, France, China and Russia.
The UN's nuclear watchdog, the IAEA, complained in a recent report that the Islamic Republic had supplied only patchy details of its activities to its inspectors.
So where is this little IAEA 'complaining' episode about 'patchy details'? Which 'recent report' did that come from, or did somebody just pull this spinning turd out of his arse to bolster the evidentially-impaired case against Iran?
Here in Reality, the six powers can 'suspect' all day long, but they've got nothing.
This article describes what any alternative news junkie already knows: the US government has been building camps in preparation for the 'next' catastrophe. We don't know what it is yet, but we know it's coming.
"Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs." write Lewis Seiler and former Congressman Dan Hamburg of the watchdog group Voice of the Environment, Inc.
... Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.
According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."
...Seiler and Hamburg also warn of the alarming and numerous freedom killing pieces of legislation that have been passed recently, dovetailing with the build up of infrastructure of tyranny inside the US.Obviously, the government plans on rounding up a lot of people. But if you look at it as a percentage, it's not a lot of people. Let's say there are roughly 300 million people in the US. If they compile a list of one million people before they run their ENDGAME, that's still less than one half of one percent of the population.
...The issue gained national attention two years ago when it was announced that Kellogg, Brown and Root had been awarded a $385 million dollar contract by Homeland Security to construct detention and processing facilities in the event of a national emergency.
The language of the preamble to the agreement veils the program with talk of temporary migrant holding centers, but it is made clear that the camps will also be used "as the development of a plan to react to a national emergency."
Following the story, first given wide attention by Prisonplanet.com, the Alternet website put together an alarming report that collated all the latest information on plans to initiate internment of political subversives and Muslims after the next major terror attack in the US.
The article highlighted the disturbing comments of Sen. Lindsey Graham, who encouraged torture supporting then Attorney General Alberto Gonzales to target, "Fifth Columnists" Americans who show disloyalty and sympathize with "the enemy," whoever that enemy may be....The real agenda, just as it is with Halliburton's gulags, was to use the cover of rounding up immigrants and illegal aliens as a smokescreen for targeting political dissidents. From 1967 to 1971 the FBI kept a list of persons to be rounded up as subversive, dubbed the "ADEX" list.
According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center today holds the names of roughly 775,000 "terror suspects" with the number increasing by 20,000 per month.
Will those people be missed? Will the people not rounded up scream bloody murder, or will they actually believe that their neighbors are some kind of terrorists? That is the question.
Now for the good news...
In a town of 20,000 people, up to 60 people might be targeted. Suddenly the number doesn't seem so small. I think 60 people sent off to detention camps in my town would be noticed. I really do. I think even a lot less than that would be noticed. I like to think that even one person rounded up and shipped away would be noticed. I think the government puts a wee too much faith in the power of propaganda to pull something like this off successfully, but that probably won't stop them from trying.
Sara Robinson outlines the Seven Steps to Revolution and explains why the United States is ripe for major change after 30 years of corrupt, inept conservative-dominated rule.
1. Soaring, then crashing (of the economy, standard of living). Check.
2. They call it a class war (upper classes break faith and prey on lower classes). Check.
3. Deserted intellectuals (intelligent people not valued unless they are corrupt). Check.
4. Incompetent government (with rigged elections, not even the hope of ditching them). Check.
5. Gutless wonders in the ruling class (see Bush, GW). Check.
6. Fiscal irresponsibility (see US Congress). Check.
7. Inept and inconsistent use of force (illegal wars, police brutality, etc.). Check.
So, if (or should I say when) the next attack or catastrophe takes place, and the government executes their ENDGAME plan of martial law, which shall include rounding American citizens up under suspicion of being terrorists (when all they're really doing is paying attention to government crimes committed in our names), either one of two things might happen, or they both might happen.
It turns out that the energy of this moment is not about Hillary or Ron or Barack. It's about who we are, and where we are, and what happens to people's minds when they're left hanging just a little too far past the moment when they're ready for transformative change.
One, people will be so confused and terrified that they don't protest their neighbors removal to detention camps.
OR two, people will say, "Now you just wait one damned minute here!" to our dear government and actually stand up and fight to get our country, America, land of the free and home of the brave, back from the brink of doom.
I'm sure there will be people who do some of each. But which group will be be larger? Which group will prevail? Which group will be full of the Real American Patriots, and not the Simpering Imposters? Hmm?
The evil are liars. They fear the truth more than anything, and so they will spare no expense to suppress it.
We can resolve many problems simply by exposing the liars and telling the truth. But it has to be done over and over and over again because vast numbers of people have become anesthetized and brainwashed. That is why we must speak the truth, and share the truth, and support those who risk their lives to confront the evil. And we have to keep doing it without fail, as if our lives depend on it, which they do.
ElBaradai 'to declare Iran clean'
Head of the International Atomic Energy Agency Mohamed ElBaradei is to release 'a positive report' on Iran's nuclear activities.
The IAEA Chief's report on Iran's nuclear program would be positive and it would rule out the possibility that Iran may running a clandestine nuclear arms program, informed sources familiar with the UN nuclear watchdog's issues said on Wednesday.
The sources said that the US is exerting pressure on ElBaradei's aides to convince him to change the tone of his upcoming report and that the delay in the release of the report is a result of Washington's efforts.
The US and its allies, including Britain and France, are reportedly planning to slam the report at the upcoming meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors, should ElBaradei go ahead with its plan and release the positive report.
The West accuses Iran of secretly developing nuclear weapons but Tehran reiterates that its nuclear activities are solely aimed at peaceful purposes.
I love the use of the word 'clean', as that was the very word Dick Cheney used to explain why he delayed the NIE for a year. Remember? The NIE had to be purged of dissenting opinions. The NIE had to be made 'clean'. Except in Cheney's case, 'clean' means 'dirty', because the dissenting opinions expressed 'truth' and Cheney's preferred opinions are what we call 'lies'.
Anyway, he didn't get away with that, and nothing has been the same since. If you look back over the events since that NIE came out in early December, world tensions have increased dramatically since that time. The simmering pot has been on high heat ever since, bringing events to a full boil. This IAEA report will infuriate the US, Israel, Britian and France. Their telegraphed reactions give credence to the 'Mediterranean Initiative' theory I have cited in recent days. The question is: will the pot now boil over?
Israel cannot on the one hand take billions and billions of US dollars to build a huge military capacity, brag about it, consistently behave in ways to inflict horrific abuse on the Palestinians, and in its spare time provoke its Arab neighbors with extra-curricular warmongering activity and political assassinations, while on the other hand whining about being a poor, little picked-upon isolated country who everyone hates and whose citizens are suffering and threatened.
Here's a website devoted to innocent Israeli and Palestinian children killed in this conflict since 2000. Statistics through 2/1/08 are as follows: Israeli children killed: 119; Palestinian children killed: 982. The numbers don't lie.
Hebrew media reported that Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni told her American counterpart Condoleezza Rice during their last meeting in Washington that Israel is preparing to wage a large-scale military operation against the Gaza Strip.Again, Israel punishes the civilian population of Gaza in violation of international law. What on earth does Livni mean when she says that the Israeli government is "studying the efficiency of the economic sanctions and pressures" it has imposed on Gaza? Excuse me? Has Gaza become a laboratory? Here's a tip: the economic sanctions and pressures cause death, including the death of innocent children. So what's to study here, exactly? Ways to get more faster better death??
Israeli Ma'ariv newspaper's website quoted Israeli sources that attended the meeting as saying that Livni confirmed to Rice that the Israeli government is studying the efficiency of the economic sanctions and pressures it imposed on Gaza before waging a military land operation.
In another context, the information office of the Nafha society for the defense of prisoners and human rights stated the IOF troops killed during only two weeks in February 38 Palestinians including six children and one woman 75 percent of them were killed in the Gaza Strip.
In a statement received by the PIC, the society added that the Israeli artillery and air raids killed last January 11 Palestinian women and 11 children in Gaza alone.
In another development, the health ministry in Gaza warned that the ambulance and emergency services stopped completely due to an acute shortage of fuel in light of the frequent Israeli attacks against the Strip and the increasing Palestinian casualties needed to be transferred to Gaza hospitals.
You know, when people can look on the suffering of other human beings with such cold detachment, something important in the human condition has been irretrievably lost. This attitude is the same attitude witnessed this week in the people kicking and abusing sick cows: an utter disregard for life, a bloodthirsty, vengeful lust for power over the weak. Gratuitous cruelty. In a word: evil.
None of which is to say anything about the suffering caused by and on behalf of the US. Indeed, innocent blood literally drenches the earth.
Is Africa the last continent full of easy resources to plunder and people to kill? Is that why George Bush pays attention to Africa as his disastrous reign of imperial arrogance winds down? How does Africa play into the grand plans for world domination?
First, several countries in North Africa border the Mediterranean, thereby making them strategically important. Over at Global Research you can read the second in a series of articles which lay out the plans for NATO expansion in the Mediterranean.
The Franco-German and Anglo-American agenda in the Mediterranean explains several other international developments and realities. Firstly, the objective of forming a bloc in the Mediterranean explain the earlier expansion of NATO in the area through what NATO terms the “Mediterranean Dialogue.” This so-called Mediterranean Dialogue is part of NATO’s “Mediterranean Initiative.” The framework of this relationship creates a de facto extension of NATO, which includes Israel as an informal member. Morocco, Algeria, Mauritania, Tunisia, Egypt, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, and Israel are all members of NATO’s Mediterranean Initiative. The only Arab nations in the Mediterranean littoral that are excluded are Libya, Syria, and Lebanon. Through this mechanism the Mediterranean Sea has virtually become a NATO lake, almost surrounded entirely by NATO members or de facto NATO members. Albania and the coastline of the former Yugoslavia off the shore of the Adriatic Sea are also controlled by NATO.Meanwhile, Israel has been working diligently to force the international community to intervene. They have even come out and said it directly:
Secondly, the German naval and French land commands over NATO troops on Lebanese soil and off the Lebanese shore are explained by the categorizing of the Mediterranean as an area under Franco-German management. It should also be noted that it was in 2001 that the E.U., particularly the French, started talking about sending troops under the banner of NATO into the Eastern Mediterranean, in particular Palestine.
Israel is considering a large-scale incursion into the Gaza Strip during which it would present an ultimatum to the international community for the deployment of a multinational force as the only condition under which it would withdraw, defense officials have told The Jerusalem Post.The Israelis want to offload the responsibility for policing Gaza onto the international community. Presumably this will free the Israeli military up to do other things. Actually, they have already been doing other things:
It is not by chance that Israel is a partner in Operation Active Endeavour, the force that has spawned the NATO naval armada off the coasts of Syria and Lebanon.  Nor is it coincidental that Israel announced it would fully participated in NATO naval exercises in May of 2006, right before attacking Lebanon.  This was under the pretext of a so-called “Iranian threat.”Of course, this is really about energy security and therefore economic dominance. Mass murder may be required. Brights stars in the neocon constellation (Killersii Majoris) have determined that Israel could accomplish such dominance by 'liquidating' tens of millions of Middle Eastern people via a preemptive nuclear attack. (One can only note with horror the presence of a black abyss instead of a human soul in Norman Podheretz.)
Starting in August, 2007 Israeli ships have joined NATO warships in the Eastern Mediterranean, Red Sea, and Black Sea in full naval cooperation.  This has been marked by joint Israeli-NATO exercises that have taken place in the Red Sea and the Black Sea.
It should be noted that minesweepers have participated in the inaugural Israeli-NATO naval exercises. This alludes to possible action against Iran in the Persian Gulf. Many establishment figures in Germany, including those from the German Green Party, have also called for the inclusion of Israel into NATO as a full member. 
According to Avigdor Lieberman, an important figure in Israeli politics, “Israel’s diplomatic and security goal...must be clear: joining NATO and entering the European Union.” This is considered as the strategic path that Israel must take. 
Israel is expected to eventually join the European Union. The E.U.’s enlargement is tied into the process of NATO expansion. Israel and the E.U. will both manage, from an economic and political standpoint, the western outer periphery of the “Arc of Instability” under the framework of a Mediterranean Union.
The February 2008 issue of Commentary Magazine, the official periodical of the American Jewish Committee, has also proposed in an article by Norman Podhoretz that Israel could launch a devastating pre-emptive nuclear attack against Iran and Israel’s Arab neighbours (including the countries of Arab regimes allied to Israel and NATO like Egypt) and militarily occupy the oil fields, refineries, and naval ports of the Persian Gulf countries to establish energy security. While all this takes place, Bush has decided to visit Africa, but he was restricted in which countries he could visit. From another article at Global Research:
The pieces of the grand strategy unfolding over the strategic map are becoming clearer. Podhoretz asserts that Israel could liquidate large populations in the Middle East (“tens of millions”) and that Israel could virtually annex energy-rich areas in the Persian Gulf. The substance of these diabolical statements emanate from an American think-tank, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), which is closely linked to the formulation of the U.S. foreign policy and military agenda in the Middle East.
These statements and notions from Norman Podhoretz and the Center for Strategic and International Studies act as a window of insight into the thoughts of the Anglo-American establishment and its European and Israeli partners. There is also a link between the concept that Israel could militarily occupy the oil fields of the Persian Gulf and the 2008 Herzliya Conference’s discussions about Israel acting as an agent of E.U. and NATO energy security.
Though it sounds like Bush had to 'settle' for visiting the B-team of African nations, any foothold would help secure the plans to control the resources of the African continent. Like a cancer metastasizing, US control over a tiny African country can spread. If it spreads northward from any of these countries Bush will visit, it will meet up with the North African nations already under NATO's Mediterranean Initiative influence.
Thus far the majority of African states have refused to host the Africa Command. Despite the aggressive military and diplomatic efforts by the US government, not even the closest "partners' of the imperialists have supported this call for the Africa Command. There is only one state (Liberia) that has openly called for the basing of the US Africa command on African soil. Though the United States has 5,458 "distinct and discreet military installations around the world there are pressures from the military-industrial and oil complex for the USA to have more effective resources in Africa to defend US capitalism.
For the past twenty years the US government had been building political assets in Kenya to pave the way for 'security cooperation." Kenya would have been one of the stops on this visit but the political struggles in Kenya made it impossible for George Bush to visit Kenya. It is this country that has participated in the so called extra-ordinary rendition. More than 90 persons were captured with apparent U.S. involvement after they fled fighting in Somalia. The prisoners were rendered on a plane chartered by the Kenyan government into secret detention in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
Uganda would have been another stop on the visit, but the continued war in the North and the clear dictatorial character of the Museveni government made this stop undesirable.
One other undesirable ally is Ethiopia. The government of Meles Zenawi has joined in the efforts to fabricate terrorism in Somalia and has invaded Somalia. Yet, despite this alliance, Bush and the planners in Washington did not deem it safe for Bush to visit Ethiopia. Bush could not go to South Africa at this time because Jacob Zuma is the President of the ANC. He could not go to Nigeria because the Nigerians are opposed to the so called war on terror. So Bush had to find a country where he could go to. The US settled on Tanzania and Rwanda.
In West Africa, the US President is going to Benin, Liberia and Ghana. It will be the task of the political activists and democratic forces in these societies to demonstrate against the US and the plans for Africom in West Africa.
No matter where he goes, no matter what he does, Bush is always sowing the seeds of destruction.
In the Western world, people get blood tests to confirm whether or not they have AIDS. In Africa, all you need is the following four symptoms: persistent cough, high fever, loose stools for 30 days, and a 10% loss of body weight over a two month period. Those four symptoms together equal an AIDS diagnosis. Is that unbelievable or what?
What would you tell your doctor if you had those four symptoms and he or she diagnosed you with AIDS. Would you demand a blood test? You bet your ass you would.
But with an AIDS diagnosis in Africa, you go home to die, cut off from your extended family, isolated and hopeless. It's a death sentence based on four common symptoms, symptoms easily caused by any number of ailments, diseases and parasites which run rampant in poverty stricken areas.
Sanitation, food, clean water, shelter and basic health care would go a long way toward relieving the common diseases which plague poor people the world over. So do the rich nations help Africans by tackling these basic problems. No, but we are helping them with AIDS.
They don't need help with AIDS. Once again, we're seeing a manufactured crisis. We have been told that there is an AIDS epidemic in Africa, and we are sending lots of money to provide AIDS drugs to the poor Africans. And since most Africans cannot afford the drugs, the drug companies will collect payment from us. And since many of the Africans taking the drugs don't actually have AIDS, the drugs will not help and may even hurt them. Many will die from their untreated illnesses, but the drug companies will still make a profit. Babies will die. But George Bush can give himself a big pat on the back for 'helping' the poor people of Africa.
When it comes to killing innocent people and making profits off the backs of unsuspecting US taxpayers, the cynicism of Bush and his corporate fascist henchmen knows no bounds.
Putin gave a five hour press conference, his final one as Russian president. Putin will reportedly take over as Prime Minister when his hand-picked successor, Dmitri Medvedev, becomes President next month.
Putin’s state of mind seems, how shall I say, angry? Yes. Irritable. Bellicose. Perhaps a little psychopathic even. Putin makes a rival worthy of the insane Bush/Cheney tag-team. Look at this guy. Cheney’s got nothing on him. Putin can bore a hole through a human skull with that stare.
Vladimir Putin has delivered perhaps his most menacing tirade against the West yet, repeating threats to train nuclear missiles on Europe and warning of unspecified retaliation if Kosovo declared independence.
Addressing his last press conference as Russian president, Mr Putin mounted a defiant display that demonstrated more emphatically than ever the widening gulf between Moscow and its former Cold War rivals.
In a vintage performance, the former KGB spy laced almost five hours of invective with crude insults, threats and admonitions often expressed in the argot of the Russian street.
Reserving his greatest ire for the United States, which he accused of harbouring a colonial mentality towards Russia, Mr Putin again said that Europe would pay the consequences for a Washington-backed plan to erect a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic.
“Our generals, our security council, consider these moves a threat to our national security,” he said. “We asked our partners to stop but no one listened to us. So if they continue we will have to react appropriately by retargeting our missiles.” Mr Putin also made similar threats against Ukraine if it joined Nato.
The Russian leader - often accused of returning his country to a state of autocracy - portrayed his nuclear threat as an act of democratic generosity, saying he was acting in the interests of Europeans who opposed American military expansionism.
Few western countries escaped the vitriol. Europe was scolded for its “silly”, “immoral” and “illegal” backing of Kosovo’s imminent unilateral declaration of independence from Serbia.
Although he did not elaborate, Mr Putin gave warning of retaliation once Kosovo broke away - a threat likely to chill Western leaders. “We have a ready-made plan and we know what we are going to do,” he said.
Eesh. And in a manner eerily reminiscent of our own sycophantic press, fawning journalists blew kisses and waved hankies at the manly Russian President.
Indeed, this was Mr Putin at his most combative. To the delight of fawning Russian journalists, he confirmed his intention to re-emerge as a powerful prime minister in a Medvedev administration - and pointedly told reporters that he had no intention of hanging his successor’s portrait on his office wall.
Encouraged by enthusiastic applause from his audience, Mr Putin often resorted to crude rhetoric to condemn his critics.
…Critics have accused Mr Putin of creating a personality cult during his years in power - an allegation that may have been borne out by the sycophantic and even simpering questions put to him by local reporters.
A Chechen journalist asked the president when he would grace the ravaged province with another visit, while a female reporter presented the president with a golden heart as a gift for Valentine’s Day.
And for a final forehead-slapping moment of bitter deja vu, check this out:
Asked what had made him such a great leader, Mr Putin suggested that he had been anointed by God to make Russia a great state and boasted that he had made no mistakes during his eight years in power.
Either you can see that there is an entire real world outside of and all around the Corporate Media fantasy world, or you can’t.
Our democracy has been hollowed out, reminiscent of a Hollywood movie-set facade. It may look like a sturdy brick building with Democracy carved into the lintel, but as soon as you look around the sides, you will see that it’s actually a one-dimensional structure propped up with a wooden scaffolding of two by fours. It’s not even a building, really. It just looks like one if you sit in front of it. And as long as you don’t poke around you can continue to admire the lovely and impressive building from the outside. Should you need to use it, however, you will find out as soon as you walk through the door that it’s useless. It cannot provide shelter. Even a simple lean-to or straw hut would be more useful and safe in a storm than a heavy, brick facade propped up by wooden scaffolding.
Many Americans refuse to peek around the sides of our democracy. They insist on sitting in front of the facade, which they accomplish by parking their butts in front of the tv, and admiring the great building as seen through the tv. They cast vicious aspersions at the people standing off to the sides complaining that the building is gone. What are these crazy people talking about, they say to each other. It’s outrageous. It’s scandalous how these unpatriotic Americans accuse our government of being a hollow shell. If only they would sit in front of the building like we do, they would see that it’s just perfect. There’s nothing to worry about.
The people who sit in front of the building haven’t ever tried to go inside. They don’t actually use the building, you see, but they insist that they admire it more than anyone else.
Everybody needs to start peeking around the sides of the building, and that means looking at alternative news. Even five minutes a day scanning headlines would help. I ask you people sitting out front, can you give five minutes a day to inspect this important building? Can you come a little closer? Will you walk through the door? Will you go around back?
You still have a choice. If enough Americans actually care about our democracy, we will take a good look around. We will make a little effort to investigate what those people standing off to the sides have been complaining about.
Please, get off your ass and look before the storm blows this thing over and it crushes us all to death. Clouds gather on the horizon. Maybe together we can do something before it’s too late.
This article by Kathy and Bill Christison describes their utter frustration trying to get a real discussion going among supposedly bright minds in America.
We have shown maps and pictures like these myriad times before, but have never been received with quite such disinterest. Here was a group of mostly retired U.S. government officials, academics, journalists, and business executives, as well as a few still-working professionals — all ranging in political orientation from center right to center left, the cream of informed, educated America, the exemplar of elite mainstream opinion in the United States. Their lack of concern about what Israel and, because of its enabling role, the U.S. are doing to destroy an entire people and their national aspirations could not have been more evident.
The first person to comment when our presentation concluded, identifying herself as Jewish, said she had “never heard a more one-sided presentation” and labeled us “beyond anti-Semitic” — which presumably is somewhat worse than plain-and-simple anti-Semitic. This is always a somewhat upsetting charge, although it is so common and so expected as to be of little note anymore. What was more noteworthy was the reaction, or lack of it, among the rest of the assembled, who never disputed her charge but spent most of the discussion period either disputing our presentation or trying to find ways to accommodate “Jewish pain.”
A few people did ask interested questions about the situation on the ground and about various aspects of Israeli policy. After the discussion had centered for quite a while on Jewish pain, one person pointed out that Palestinians too feel pain and live in fear, but no one else picked up on this. No one challenged the first speaker’s personal charge of anti-Semitism against us, and in the end there was almost no mention of the destructive Israeli practices that had been the subject of our presentation.
Apparently, many people just have a hard time imagining what things must be like for the Palestinians. Over and over again, people in America suffer from a failure of imagination. It’s as if American minds have been sucked dry of all empathy and creative spark.
Fortunately, some people in Vermont have made a picture that helps make the situation in Israel a little clearer for the imagination-impaired.
About the Map: Areas for all regions are drawn to closely approximate the relative areas of corresponding regions in the Middle East. The state of Vermont is three-quarters the size of the original Mandate of Palestine established by the British under the League of Nations following World War I.
Following the war and ethnic cleansing of 1948, Israel claimed 78 percent of this territory and refused to let three-quarters of a million Palestinians refugees return to their homes. Since the Six Day War of 1967, Israel has maintained an illegal military occupation and colonization project in the remaining 22 percent of the original Palestine: the occupied Palestinian territories.
The route of the fence-wall in the northern territory (red line) is derived from the completed sections of the separation barrier that Israel is building in the Palestinian West Bank, as well as from the Israeli government’s plans for the remainder of the project.
The number of checkpoints depicted in the northern territory conservatively approximates the relative number of stationary checkpoints maintained by the Israeli army in occupied Palestine. The Israeli military also erects mobile checkpoints and mounds of rubble and dirt to block Palestinian roads, and imposes curfews, closures, and a complex and arbitrary system of internal travel permits.
The descriptions of Montpelier and the Connecticut River Valley represent the current situations in Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, respectively, where “Judaization” campaigns have caused thousands of Palestinians to lose their homes, their legal residency, or both.
The injustice depicted by this map is supported in the Middle East by the US Congress and the Bush administration, who give Israel an estimated $5 billion in taxpayers’ money every year.
About VTJP: Vermonters for a Just Peace in Palestine/Israel is a local non-profit volunteer group that works to support the survival of the Palestinian people and end the illegal, immoral, and brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine through education, advocacy, and action. We are committed to selfdetermination for the Palestinian people, the right of return for Palestinian refugees, and full civil and political rights for all Palestinians in order to promote the equality and safety of both Palestinians and Israelis.
Contact us by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
President Ahmadinejad will be going to visit Iraq in March. That would be the same Ahmadinejad that caused a tremendous uproar when he visited the United States. The “madman”. He’s soon traveling to Baghdad, the heart of US occupied territory. No doubt US military personnel will escort him and provide his security. He’s perfectly safe. It’s not a big deal.
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran will make a landmark visit to Iraq on March 2, the first trip ever made by an Iranian leader to Iraq, the government here said Thursday.
Ahmadinejad will meet with Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki and President Jalal Talabani of Iraq during his two-day visit, a government spokesman said. “The two countries will discuss bilateral relations and joint projects,” said the spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh.
The White House expressed its support Thursday for good relations between Iraq and Iran after the announcement was made, but also urged Tehran to stop backing militants in Iraq.
Ahmadinejad’s trip was announced last month but Iraqi officials only made the date public on Thursday.
Also Thursday, officials said Iran had postponed the next session of expert-level talks on security with U.S. diplomats. The announcement of Ahmadinejad’s visit came soon afterward.
Hmm. It’s almost like everybody’s on the same page. Maybe my crazy theory from the other day isn’t so crazy after all.
The response from Washington was measured. “We want Iran and Iraq to have good relations,” Gordon Johndroe, a White House spokesman, said in a statement. “The fastest way for that to happen is for Iran to stop supporting extremists in Iraq who kill innocent Iraqis and Americans.”
The United States has accused Iran of training and supplying Shiite militia fighters with weapons and explosives in Iraq. Iran denies the accusations.
A State Department spokesman, Sean McCormack, said the United States did not see Ahmadinejad’s visit to Iraq as a provocative gesture but he hoped the message would be positive.
“We would look for Iran to play a positive role in Iraq’s present as well as its future,” McCormack said. “I know that in the past, Iraqi officials have talked to the Iranian government about playing a more positive role.”
You know that this magnanimous response can only mean one thing: Bush and Cheney approve. It must be part of the plan for Iran and Iraq to merge together. Look again at the Map of the New Middle East. Iran lies at the heart of it, and Iraq has been partitioned. The Persian Gulf is basically under Shia control.
I’m no expert, but what the hell other conclusion can one draw here? Stuff like this just goes to show that human suffering means nothing to Bush/Cheney. All the outrage about Iran? Fake. All these innocent people have been killed and lives ruined in order to redraw the map more to the neocons’ liking.
UPDATE: Iran’s Oil Bourse will open February 27, 2008, just days before Ahmadinejad goes to visit Iraq, a visit the US finds totally unprovocative.
The minister said his country’s oil revenue will reach $63 billion by the end of this Iranian year, which ends on March 20.
He said oil sales reached $55 billion in the first 11 months of the year, and that “if crude prices stand at the current level, next year’s oil revenues will be the same as this year.”
Nozari announced last week that Iran’s crude oil production had reached 4.184 million barrels per day, the highest level since the 1979 Islamic Revolution.
Big numbers. Very profitable.
On the one hand we’re told that Iran continues to secretly conduct a nuclear weapons program, brilliantly hiding it from the IAEA and the rest of the world. Only the super-cunning Israeli Mossad can discern the even greater evil cunning of the Iranians. And they rend their clothes and throw ashes on their heads trying in vain to convince the Stupid World that the Iranians are making nuclear weapons. !!!
Yes. Let’s just go with this line of thinking for a minute. Just yesterday Thomas Fingar, who once upon a time had a reputation as a respected intelligence analyst, testified before the House Armed Services Committee that Iran was still developing technological and industrial capabilities that the intelligence community judges could be used to develop nuclear weapons, should the Irans want to, sometime between 2010 and 2015. I mean, it’s all very speculative, especially since the Iranians insist they merely want to pursue nuclear energy, and they are within their rights to do so, and the IAEA has made great progress certifying that Iran poses no danger to the world. But Still! Iran Is Dangerous and Don’t You Forget It.
It must cost the Iranians a fortune keeping all this under wraps. Secret underground facilities, huge bribes to buy off corrupt politicians and nosy reporters, high tech spy equipment…the works. Right? You can’t hide something like this with the US and Israel breathing down your neck unless you have deep pockets and a surplus of cunning, evil genius scientists and intelligence people in your employ.
On the other hand, what’s weird is that Iran has a very low defense spending per capita.
Iran’s defense expenditure per capita remains among the lowest in the Middle East region despite having the second highest population behind Egypt, according to the new publication of Military Balance.
The 2008 edition said that Iran’s total defense spending for 2006, the latest available, was nearly 55 percent less that Israel’s, despite having ten times the population of the Zionist entity.
Per capita, Israeli regime’s expenditure was calculated to be nearly 17 times higher at an average of $1,737 per person compared with only $110 for each Iranian.
Israel’s military spending was shown to be the second highest in the world and only $59 per capita behind the U.S., excluding Qatar, which only has a population of less than one million.
Even as a proportion of GDP, Iran’s defense expenditure of 3.3 percent was found to be well less than half of Israel’s 7.9 percent, which is among the highest in the world and even more than the U.S.
Oh dear. That is very perplexing, don’t you think? How could the Iranians possibly be doing all this super-secret nuclear weapons development, in secret, under pressure, on a shoestring budget?
You know, if they are doing this, we really need to talk to their budget guys, because damn they are good. We could use that kind of financial acumen around here. For example, we have this giant hole in our budget that really should be plugged up, but nobody seems to know what to do about it:
Under a new agreement with the U.S., it also said Washington was providing Israeli regime with a $30 billion package of Foreign Military Financing between 2009 and 2018, an increase amounting to around 25 percent more than in the previous ten-year period.
It looks like House Democrats will let tomorrow night’s deadline pass without acting on the Senate’s FISA with telecom immunity monstrosity. That means it the broad spying powers approved last August would expire. Bush, of course, cannot resist scaring the folks.
At a morning appearance in the Oval Office, President Bush pressed the House to adopt quickly a plan the Senate approved on Tuesday to broaden the government’s spying powers and give legal immunity to telephone companies.
The plan is essential, Bush said, because terrorists are planning attacks on American soil “that will make Sept. 11 pale in comparison.”
Really? And how, pray tell, does Bush know this? And if he knows this, why isn’t he using the tremendous resources of the federal government to stop the evil terrorists? Or is he just lying again? Or is he predicting another inside job? No matter which way you slice it, the man does not have the interests of the American people in mind.
Bush maintained yesterday that letting the broadened surveillance powers lapse “would jeopardize the security of our citizens.”
Democrats insisted that a lapse would have no real effect.
The expiration of the powers “doesn’t mean we are somehow vulnerable again,” said Representative Silvestre Reyes, Democrat of Texas and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.
The lapsing of the deadline would have little practical effect on intelligence gathering. Intelligence officials would be able to intercept communications from Al Qaeda members or other identified terrorist groups for a year after the initial eavesdropping authorization for that particular group.
If a new terrorist group is identified after Saturday, intelligence officials would not be able to use the broadened eavesdropping authority. They would be able to seek a warrant under the more restrictive standards in place for three decades through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.
Maybe next week they’ll discover some ‘new’ terrorist group out of Libya, but then they would be forced to use the ‘restrictive’ FISA standards that worked just great for over thirty years. Oh well.
Bush accused the Democratic-led House of needlessly prolonging the debate at the expense of the country’s safety.
“At this moment,” he said, “somewhere in the world terrorists are planning new attacks on our country. Their goal is to bring destruction to our shores that will make Sept. 11 pale by comparison.”
To stop an attack, he urged, Congress must act immediately to strengthen the eavesdropping.
Somewhere in the world? How about Dick Cheney’s office. Bush’s message bears a striking resemblance to blackmail.
In the House, which passed a more restrictive surveillance plan in November that intentionally left out protection for the utilities, Democratic leaders were not swayed.
“The president’s presentation this morning was, I think, basically dishonest,” said Representative Steny H. Hoyer, Democrat of Maryland, the majority leader.
Intelligence officials could continue intercepting suspect communications even if the deadline passes, Hoyer said. In pushing so hard for immunity for the utilities, he added, the Bush administration is “very nervous about what might be disclosed” if the lawsuits against the companies are allowed to continue.
“To some degree, therefore, I think it is a cover-up,” Hoyer said.
That’s right. I’m pleasantly surprised that the House has shown some backbone here. Scrappy is good.
Here’s the bottom line. Bush and Cheney have been telling us that we needed to give up our civil rights and privacy in exchange for protection. So our elected representatives, in their wisdom, handed over our civil rights. So where’s our protection?
We already paid, but Bush and Cheney want that last two cents or the whole thing is off. They’re nothing but a bunch of mobsters.
And by the way, look at the grim faces in the picture. Aside from Henry Paulson (next to Pelosi), they all look like they’re paying respects at a wake. The sign should read Burying Our Economy.
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