Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Obliterate

On anyone who says Rev Wright is unpatriotic:
"I feel that those citizens who say that have never heard my sermons, nor
do they know me. They are unfair accusations taken from sound bites and that
which is looped over and over on certain channels. I served six years in the
military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?"
If anyone wanted to be seditious and unpatriotic, he would utter the words
obliterate Iran. Hillary's words echo throughout the Middle East.
Skeptics should learn the word 'obliterate' in Pharsi and in Arabic. Tune to
Radio Tehran to hear the announcer say obliterate in terms of her home and
family, you will grasp the tremor in her voice.
Hire your local newscaster to say 'obliterate' [your town].

Neither the Iranians or the Americans could return to normalcy after such a heinous act. Like the Germans and the Jews, they would be f**ked in the brain forever.

Ending the Palestinian/Israeli Debate

There are Two Sides to Every Story a Myth

Many of us like to think we are broadminded able to put ourselves in another man’s shoes.

Journalists like to present both sides of the dispute equal time to both parties.

This is not always possible. Once, you could debate the US presence in Iraq, global warming or universal health insurance. These issues have gone from left wing diatribes to mainstream axioms.

Let me settle the Israel/Palestine debate with a little magic.

Imagine one day all the Jews wake up wedged into Palestine. They are poor, inadequately housed with little to eat.

The Palestinians awaken in a Land of Milk and Honey. They are armed to the teeth with every modern weapon.

How much time will pass before every Israeli is dead?

Rooted in Israel

This is a Palestinian taking a rubber bullet from an Israeli in 1998. There is a remote chance I am squatting in this man's ancestral home.
It's always a mistake to run from the invader.
I don't get comments on this site, which is Okay by me. On other sites I do, and I find this one interesting.

"oh, is there a “first-rate human beings” and a “second-rate”? I didn’t know that kind of classification. It seems that you are used to it in Israel!
Well, you didn’t threaten to put the Palestinians into the sea, but you did spoil their land and put them in refugees camps, in prisons and is a 60-years-custody without rights. You want them to admit what you call “the right of Israel to exist”, but in fact, you like them to admit the “divine right” of Israel to colonize. You are the first theocratic, religious and fanatic state in the whole region, believing that divine “promises” are superior than “human rights” of the “Others”. You, actually, started mixing State and religion in a region that was, at the time, secular. Don’t bull-shit us, we know the history. The same history that teaches us that colonization is part of the past and that it won’t be accepted nor tolerated, especially in that specific region. Military power cannot resist history, it’s just a matter of time!!"

Caribbean Food Shortages

'Caribbean: Food Shortages'

by Janine Mendes-Franco

"If music be the food of love, play on", wrote Shakespeare, who could not possibly have anticipated the global food crisis the world is facing today. Rising food prices are a hot topic with bloggers the world over - and the Caribbean is no different. The "music" coming out of the regional blogosphere is anything but lovely - in fact, it's downright discordant - as the Caribbean struggles to find solutions to a crisis that is hitting regional territories hard.

Haiti seems to be feeling the effects of the food shortages the most and The Haitian Blogger thinks that claims of "success" in the island by the United States seem hollow in the face of such dire need:

What of the suffering of the people in indefinite detention, or the hunger of the poor that is so acute that people are eating dirt and describing their hunger pains as “grangou Clorox”; like having your insides eaten away by Clorox?

Haiti is being occupied right now. These occupiers are being paid with money that adds to Haiti’s debt, money that could be used to feed the Haitian people is going to feed, house and train their oppressors.

Blog de Port-au-Prince also believes that the U.S. bears some responsibility in the obstacles Haiti faces:

Thirty years ago, Haiti raised nearly all the rice it needed. What happened? Haiti is far from alone in this crisis...but in poor countries, where malnutrition and hunger were widespread before the rise in prices, there is nothing to cut back on except eating. That leads to hunger riots.

Rice shiptment in Haiti - Photo by Giuseppe Bizzarri for the UN WFP

Bajan Global Report has been keeping an eye on the global food shortage and reports that "Haiti on Sunday named a new prime minister two weeks after his predecessor was ousted over rocketing food and fuel prices that sparked violent demonstrations claiming several lives."

Living in Barbados chimes in:

A few weeks after reports that people in Haiti rioted about the high cost of food and reports that in Egypt the army had been ordered to bake bread, the ramifications of a major international food crisis are just dawning on lots of ordinary people. Here in Barbados, people have just been struck by the news that local flour prices were increased 30 percent and now wait to see what impact that will have on bread prices and the cost of other baked goods. Gasolene and diesel prices were increased here last week and that too may soon start to factor into the prices of many food items.

The irony of the situation is not lost on him, as he adds:

The situation will be more complicated as the world tries to get "green" by using food stuffs to make fuel. Now, we have the oil and nothing to cook in it. Instead of putting corn into your stomach you will be feeding it, in a sense, to your car. I wonder what the emissions will be like. Odourless, I hope. I just love progress.

But Cuban blogger Ninety miles away...in another country is taking the issue seriously:

Let's start by forgetting this corn ethanol nonsense. It is a negative proposition to begin with. It sounds sexy in this politically correct world of global warming, but take a look at it. First it takes more to create than the energy produced. It is physically impossible to plant enough corn to cover our energy needs, even if we had the infrastructure in place to distribute the ethanol, which we do not, and the cars capable of using it as fuel, which we do not. Let's get real. All we are doing at the moment is allowing the vilest element in our markets to speculate at the expense of the global population, much of which can ill afford it.

In Trinidad and Tobago, even as the mainstream media reports that "Minister of Agriculture, Land and Marine Resources, Senator Arnold Piggott, says there is no food crisis..." blogger Elspeth Duncan at Now is Wow is seeing the signs of the times:

Today the front page of the papers announced: chicken prices going up, flour going up...is there any sign of the Gov't putting things in place for us to grow our own food so we can be self sufficient? Or is it that agricultural land is only good for housing? The other day some friends and I were discussing growing our own food crops and sharing our produce among ourselves.

Her concerns are echoed by Craig Butler at Bahama Pundit, who warns:

If you think that a problem is not on the horizon then think again. The problem as I see it is that far too many of our brothers and sisters are going to bed hungry every night. Don’t just think that this is a problem for the poor because it is not. The Bahamian middle class has practically evaporated and can at best be described as the working poor.

Transporting bananas in Cuba (2006), photo by Pietro Izzo

The Cuban Triangle examines Raul Castro's proposed agriculture policy, saying:

It looks promising. One step alone, the distribution of additional land to private farmers, is almost guaranteed to raise production and put Cuba on a path toward lower imports and lower food prices. But much remains to be seen.

The same could be said of agriculture in Trinidad and Tobago - in considering the reality of food prices in the twin island nation, KnowProSE.com says:

While the Prime Minister tells his political supporters that all will be well, one has to wonder what sort of mindset permitted the use of agricultural lands for residences. And because of that, agricultural crops are also being grown where heavier fertilizers are required due to poor soil. And that, in turn, skews development.

But he doesn't stop there:

With the global food prices on the rise with less and less food available, one thing I have been considering is getting into farming. Imagine that. While everyone is getting out of agriculture, I'm considering diving into agriculture.

...which may not be a bad idea, given Bajan Global Report's comprehensive roundup of "how the global food crisis is affecting our Caricom neighbours as they too try to grapple with the rising food costs in their countries."

Blogging from St. Lucia, Looshan Ramblings writes:

Hind sight is always 20/20 and we should have not allowed our Agricultural Stock to be marginalised to only production of cash crops but a a balance should have been struck in order to ensure a greater level of food security. Now we are faced with food inflation as has not seen in recent times.

Both can cook, must cook and Living in Barbados agree, saying "the crisis is having some worrying ripple effects":

Rice is being rationed! Not in Africa or India, but in England and the heartlands of the USA. In Britain rice is being rationed by shopkeepers in Asian neighbourhoods to prevent hoarding; while in the US Wal-Mart has created a first--there has never been food rationing in the US. The restrictions are being imposed on retail and wholesale customers.

But Jamaican Gordon Swaby tries to put a positive (if slightly controversial) spin on the whole situation:

What this food crisis is doing is forcing us to be self reliant; and for that I am very happy, after we realize that products are getting too expensive to be imported, then we will have no choice but to produce our own. And after that happens, we’ll have more than we need,

You may view the latest post at

http://www.globalvoicesonline.org/2008/04/30/caribbean-food-shortages/

Hillary to Obliterate Iran

If Iran attacks Israel with nuclear weapons, Hillary promises to obliterate Iran.

Why does this not comfort me? I live in the Negev Desert 22 miles from the Egyptian border. Also near me is Israel’s major nuclear facility at Dimona.

Primarily, we have four major cities in which our citizens have packed themselves making our country one of the most densely populated areas of the world. A few weeks ago we had a national bomb shelter drill my first in twenty-five years of living here. My chances for survival in my local bomb shelter are not good.

Spiritually, I am prepared for the End of Days when every world nation will attack us. Our destruction won’t be as easy as one might think, because we are armed to the teeth and God is on our side. We have full confidence He will erase any of our enemies left alive.

Once everyone is dead, God can conduct a proper Day of Judgment. Having executed a preemptive war, our attackers won’t fare well in the Highest Court.

Other than Jews very few people believe in this scenario. Rather, they pursue instant gratification and a fast track to eternal bliss. Let’s take Hillary for example.

She ignores Israel’s ability to retaliate. The arsenal includes 500 nuclear bombs and at least 250 fighter-bombers that can strike anywhere between Morocco and Iran. Israel has embedded a minimum 50 suitcase atomic bombs in enemy capitals. Included are many neutron bombs, which kill people rather than productive oilfields etc. How mentally ill must a would-be invader be to risk this kind of devastation?

Knowing this the Iranians harass Israel with proxies such as Palestinians and Hezbollah. Ahmadinejad may have a big mouth, but his mental capacities are in order.

Nobody in the Middle East needs or wants Hillary’s threats. She delivers them for her domestic political gain and possible future false flags finesse.

Imagine her as President when Haifa, Tel-Aviv and Beer-Sheva suffer nuclear devastation from suitcase bombs. If the perpetrator does not announce guilt, the American President has the option to obliterate any nation.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Food Distribution Problem Not Production

Southeast Asia

Mong Palatino, Global Voices

Prices of rice and other basic food items are increasing in the world. The global food price crisis is affecting millions, possibly billions of people. Food policies are challenged. Governments are imposing emergency measures to calm down their restless constituents. The Southeast Asian region, home to several emerging and developing economies, is also struggling to cope with the situation.

For want of a better title more or less sums up the problem in the region:

“The biggest problem with our rising rice prices is that it’s more a distribution error than a problem with the rice yields. It’s more about politics than it is about agriculture…What’s probably going to happen though is an even higher rise in rice prices. The thing about a necessary product is that when price goes up, people buy more. And since they’re spending more on rice, they’ll spend less on the things that accompany that rice.”

Even Singapore, one of Asia's richest countries, is now scrambling to offer cheap food prices as reported by Singapore News Alternative.

Rice exporting nations are also gripped with panic. Thanh Nien cites that “Rice fever runs hot in several Vietnam provinces.” Details are Sketchy is worried because nearly half a million kids in Cambodia are expected to start missing meals in the coming weeks as a result of the rising cost of rice.

Vuthasurf describes the mood in Phnom Penh:

“The rice price is remarkably increasing in Phnom Penh. Phnom Penh residents have been buying and stocking rice. All type of rice price is increasing too fast and making Cambodian people worried. The price of rice is going up across the nation by more than 20 percent, comparing to the previous year. Rising the rice price is helping the farmers but it is hitting badly the poor such as garment workers, teachers, civil servants who have low-income.”

But Cambodia’s government is optimistic that rice production will improve. Im Sokthy explains:

Cambodia has about two million hectare of land for rice production. Its existing irrigation system can cover 30 percent of the land. It can expand to three million hectares for rice production. Adding to this, Cambodia could cultivate about two to three times per year on the same land areas. Based on this, it is seen that Cambodia has huge potential to become the world's largest rice exporting country.”

Youthful Insight notes the anomaly in policymaking in Indonesia, which may be applicable as well to other countries:

“On one side the government must keep inflation and food price low enough so its does not hurt the poor. But on the other side the government must maintain a reasonable high price to give incentive to farmers to increase their production and increase rural welfare. Is there any policy to achieve both objectives above? Yes! Give high subsidy to the farmers like what the developed countries are doing. But the problem is our government does not have the money to do it.

“Cheap food price is good for poor urban, whose main sources of income are the service and manufacturing sectors. But bad for rural poor whose main source of income is agriculture sector. Lower food price means lower income and also lower welfare for rural area. The government sacrifices the rural for the sake of the urban. Why? Because urban poor is more attractive politically than rural poor.”

New Mandala mentions the ongoing debate in Thailand about the extent to which farmers will benefit from high rice prices. Thailand Crisis is surprised to hear the Thai Prime Minister exhorting the people to eat less so that Thailand can export more rice.

The Malaysian quotes a politician who is asking the Malaysian government to stop the space mission program so that the money can be used to develop Sabah as a food producing state.

Filipino journalist Ricky Carandang points to another reason for the rising food prices:

“Yes, there are real supply and demand factors driving up rice prices, but one must concede that a big chunk of the increases in the prices of oil, gold, and rice, are due to speculation on the international commodities markets.”

Lengua et Pluma blames the economic policies of the Philippine president:

“The government is quick to blame the traders, when it hides on the background its policies that pave the way for cartel operations and the declining rice production in the country. This crisis that has brought about the overdependence on the importation of food, and an agriculture that is geared mainly towards the production of raw materials for export, has put on the forefront the long-running problems that beset our agriculture and farmers –lack of irrigation, lack of subsidy on the production of our farmers, land use and crop conversion, and the monopoly of land by a few land owners and transnational corporations, to name a few.”

Local Freakonomics hopes the Brunei government will continue subsidizing the price of basic food items:

“While I don’t expect the government to subsidize all food but I do expect some food price subsidies/food security packages are being planned for Brunei’s staple food (in addition to rice and sugar) such as cooking oil, flour, milk, eggs, chicken.”

When Religion Sleeps with Politics

Gr33ndata, Global Voices

Egyptian blogger Zeinobia attacks Pope Shenouda III in one of her recent posts here, for his Easter speech this year.

Still I feel so sad and angry from what the Pope Shounda said and did this Easter from praying for Mubarak to have longer life !! and warning his people from listening to those vandals over the Internet who will be sent to hell !!??

She continues:

For the Muslims this is something usual ,I know from long time that the speeches of the Emam in the Mosque in our neighbourhood are approved by the security , so I do not care much for what they said , not to mention that the religious men in Islam do not have this holy status of the religious men in Christianity.
But for someone like Pope Shounda in his position comes and says these nonsense about those facebookers who will be roasted in hell , then we need a stand here.

She ends her post with:

There is no excuse for the Pope or the for Sheikh of Al-Azhar in fact I will dare and say that they should fear the Lord not the President

Cyberactivism, blogging and the use of Facebook has recently come under the scrutiny of Egyptian officials, following claims that a nation-wide strike on April 6, which culminated with the Mahalla workers revolt. Several bloggers as well as the founder of a Facebook group named April 6 were among hundreds of activists, politicians and passer-bys detained by the authorities on the day and the days which followed. That said, the fact remains that it wasn't the Facebook group which has led to the strike and workers calling for higher wages and better salaries to meet increasing living expenses.

The Israel Myth

The Israel myth:

Looking back on Israel’s six decades of history, Gershom Gorenberg writes, “At 60, Israel is neither a perfect democracy, nor a Jewish ghetto imperiled by Iranian Nazis, nor a puppet master indirectly controlling Washington. It is more democratic than its neighbors, more reliably pro-Western, and more successful economically and militarily. Nonetheless, it faces the classic dilemmas of a nation-state dealing with minorities, borders, and neighbors. In other words, it is best understood as a real place, not a country of myth.”




Holocaust Survivors arrive in Haifa, 1945

Winston Churchill and the Jews

Winston Churchill said about Jews and Judaism. "On that system and by that faith there has been built out of the wreck of the Roman Empire the whole of our existing civilization."

His biographer Martin Gilbert referred to Palestine. He truly believed the Zionists would make something special of Palestine.

Previously, western nations such as Germany and Italy have lapsed into barbarity and preemptive war. Is there one serious scholar who blames the Jews for these atrocities?

Similarly, the USA has embarked on her disastrous Crusade for Empire in Asia. How can any serious person believe she acts as our friend in this activity?

Many people could profit by reading Martin Gilbert's latest book Churchill and the Jews.

Rev Jeremiah Wright versus Sound Bites

At the National Press Club, Sunday

Some excerpts from his appearance today:

_ "I stand before you to open up this two-day symposium with the hope that this most recent attack on the black church is not an attack on Jeremiah Wright; it is an attack on the black church. ... The most recent attack on the black church, it is our hope that this just might mean that the reality of the African-American church will no longer be invisible."

_ On Obama's denunciation of some of his past remarks:

"Politicians say what they say and do what they do based on electability, based on sound bites, based on polls, Huffington, whoever's doing the polls. Preachers say what they say because they're pastors. They have a different person to whom they're accountable. As I said, whether he gets elected or not, I'm still going to have to be answerable to God November 5 and January 21. That's what I mean. I do what pastors do. He does what politicians do. I am not running for office. I am hoping to be vice president. ...

"He didn't distance himself. He had to distance himself because he's a politician. From what the media was saying I had said, which was anti-American. He said I didn't offer any words of hope. How would he know? He never heard the rest of the sermon. You never heard it. I offered words of hope. I offered reconciliation, I offered restoration in that sermon, but nobody heard the sermon. They just heard this little sound bite of a sermon."

_ On whether he should apologize for shouting in a sermon "God damn America" for its treatment of minorities:

"God doesn't bless everything. God condemns some things. And dem, D-E-M, is where we get the word damn. God damns some practices and there's no excuse for the things that the government, not the American people, have done. That doesn't make me not like America or unpatriotic."

_ On anyone who says he's unpatriotic:

"I feel that those citizens who say that have never heard my sermons, nor do they know me. They are unfair accusations taken from sound bites and that which is looped over and over on certain channels. I served six years in the military. Does that make me patriotic? How many years did Cheney serve?"

Choosing Recession

Lakshman Achuthan and Anirvan Banerji, Forbes

The 2008 recession guarantees many months of job losses that will boost foreclosures and feed the credit crisis. But if fiscal stimulus had reached consumers quickly, it would have forestalled a recession, helping to stabilize the housing market. Such a soft landing would have bought some breathing room in which to resolve the credit crisis until the lagged effect of monetary policy kicked in.

There is a raging debate about how the economy got into recession, and who is to blame. Many have concluded that the housing and credit bubbles guaranteed recession. But because this debate will influence policy for the next economic cycle, the right lessons must be learned from this series of unfortunate events.

An essential point is being overlooked--that this recession was actually avoidable as recently as several weeks ago.

Monday, April 28, 2008

A Rabbi and the Muslim Congressman May Save World

Dr Kevin Barrett, Opednews.com

Michael Lerner may be the bravest Rabbi in America...which isn’t saying much. Rabbi Lerner, among all American rabbis, has looked at the contradictions in the official story of 9/11 and written that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if it were a false-flag conspiracy. But that’s as far as he’ll go.

Keith Ellison is definitely the bravest Muslim in Congress...which also isn’t saying much, because he’s the only Muslim in Congress (at least until I get elected). Last year Rep. Ellison said that 9/11 reminded him of the Reichstag fire. After listening to the outraged howling from Fox News, he backed down and whimpered some abject apologies.

Don’t get me wrong—I admire both these guys. An ounce of courage is better than none.

While they’re only semi-brave, Rabbi Lerner and Rep. Ellison are totally visionary. The unlikely pair have just teamed up on a plan to save the world. They’re calling it the Global Marshall Plan: “Under the Global Marshall Plan, the United States would lead the other G-8 nations in dedicating an amount equivalent to 1-2% of each country's gross domestic product each year for the next twenty years to eliminating poverty once and for all and to healing the environmental crisis.”

The Marshall Plan, for you non-history-majors, was America’s wise and generous (and slightly self-serving) effort that rebuilt a ravaged Europe after World War II. It is credited with laying the basis for enduring peace and prosperity in Europe.

Could the rich countries, by donating just 1-2% of their GNP per year, lay the basis for peace and prosperity around the world? Rabbi Lerner and Rep. Ellison think so. Inspired by Rabbi Lerner’s vision, Congressman Keith Ellison recently introduced House Resolution 1078 to support the Global Marshall Plan...and the media completely ignored this amazing story.

It isn’t just Jewish and Muslim leaders behind this attempt to save the world. Developed by a rabbi and introduced by the first Muslim in Congress, the Global Marshall Plan is backed by an African American Protestant Congressman from Missouri, Emmanuel Cleaver, and a white male Catholic Congressman from Virginia, James Moran.

The powers that be seem to think we need to be permanently at war with something: First fascism, then communism, and now “terrorism.” If they really feel the need to organize society around some kind of hugely expensive “war,” why not fight a worldwide “war” against poverty and hunger and homelessness and disease and environmental damage?

Maybe the problem with the Global Marshall plan isn’t too much idealism, but too much common sense. The powers that be, including the controlled corporate media, just can’t deal with sanity.

Personally, I think that if the media revealed the truth about 9/11 to a shocked public, it would do wonders for visionary proposals like this one. That’s why I wish Rabbi Lerner and Keith Ellison were brave enough to go all-out for 9/11 truth.

Rabbi Lerner did make a great point in his essay “What Next: Will It Make A Difference If We End Up Exposing 9/11 As A Fraud?”: In that essay, published in 9/11 and American Empire v.2: Christians, Jews and Muslims Speak Out, Lerner wrote: “In fact, the kind of psychic trauma that would happen were charges of intentional involvement in 9/11 by the president, the vice-president, and other high office holders ever proved in a court of law would almost certainly open up political space for a serious discussion of the kinds of radical changes I’m suggesting...”

The 9/11 truth movement, while working to open up that political space, would do well to consider supporting the Global Marshall Plan, which could go a long way toward preventing future wars and the false-flag attacks that launch them.

For a page of FAQs and other information on the Global Marshall Plan, go to http://www.spiritualprogressives.org/staticpages/index.php?page=20080102191329956.

www.truthjihad.com

Dr. Kevin Barrett, coordinator of the Muslim-Christian-Jewish Alliance for 9/11 Truth, has taught English, French, Arabic, American Civilization, Humanities, African Literature, Folklore, and Islam at colleges and universities in the San Francisco Bay area, Paris, and Madison, Wisconsin. He grew up in a family of lapsed Unitarians (which is about as lapsed as it gets) and reverted to Islam in 1993, a move that gradually impressed upon him the gravity of the moral choices we make in this life. Barrett's dissertation is on Islam and Moroccan legend. He is also the author and illustrator of the cult classic A Guide to Mysterious San Francisco, published under the pseudonym of "Dr. Weirde." (He begs Allah's forgiveness for that slightly twisted book.) Barrett became a 9/11 truth activist in 2004 after reading David Griffin's The New Pearl Harbor and conducting follow-up research that convinced him Griffin had accurately summarized evidence indicating 9/11 was an inside job. In the summer of 2004 he founded 9/11 Truth Squad, a local group based in Madison, Wisconsin. In July, he rashly rejected a plum post-doc at the University of California because it was funded by the 9/11-disinformation-sponsoring CIA-linked Ford Foundation. In the summer of 2006, Republican state legislators and Fox newscasters demanded that Barrett be fired from his job teaching an introductory Islam class at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, but the University refused to buckle, and Barrett got high marks from his students. Barrett has led several 9/11 Truth Teach-Ins at the University of Wisconsin, including 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Truth Marathon on the third and fourth anniversaries of the attacks. He has appeared in several documentary films, lectures widely on 9/11 and hosts three radio programs on three different patriot networks: http://www.mujca.com/airwaves.htm

Diplomacy Might Work in America

“I also know that real change has never been easy, and it won't be easy this time either. The status quo in Washington will fight harder than they ever have to divide us and distract us with ads and attacks from now until November.” Barack Obama

Karl Rove’s Newsweek article offers much sage advice to Obama especially this tidbit.

5. Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics, lost altitude when you did what you criticize. Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal.

McCain: The GOP nominee-in-waiting rapped his Democratic rival for opposing his idea to suspend the tax on fuel during the summer, a proposal that McCain believes will particularly help low-income people who usually have older cars that guzzle more gas.

"Obviously Sen. Obama does not understand that this would be a nice thing for Americans, and the special interests should not be dictating this policy."

The Arizona senator deflected questions about his record on the Bush administration's tax cuts _ he initially opposed them but now supports. Huff Post

The Activists Generally Ignore the Real Issues

In no special order, I list problems to be addressed. They include sale of nuclear secrets to the highest bidder, government-run trafficking in drugs and human beings, torture, corporate use of slave labor, abduction across international borders and human rights abuse.
The culprits thrive in federal, state and local governments throughout the world. Any talk of reform or revolution is premature. The first step is to define and to publicize the ills and the perpetrators. It should not be left to a handful of whistle blowers to risk their lives to shed light on these matters.
All of us should stand with them.

The Dark and Deceitful Strategy of Bill Kristol

Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

McCain's statement is also the only one to mention current assaults on Jews. . . . So if Clinton's Passover message is liberal, and Obama's is multicultural, one might call McCain's Zionist.
Indeed. It's absolutely critical that we all heed Bill Kristol's warnings and continue to sacrifice for all his political objectives -- especially on Passover. That means, first and foremost, voting for John McCain so that he can continue to wage endless wars in the Middle East while others perish in pursuit of Glorious Kristolian Sacrifice. That is the real lesson of Passover, teaches our nation's towering, noble, courageous theologian and Freedom-warrior -- Bill Kristol.
-- Glenn Greenwald

Note: Most Israelis are aware of a few American Jews willing to fight to the last drop of Israeli blood. Bill Kristol is one of these. With considerable help from others, he has made 'Zionist' into a derogatory term.
As an American, he speaks with the protections of two oceans and massive aircraft formations.
We Israelis take a more humble position. We would much rather negotiate than to pick a fight. Always, there is a chance of losing a war.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

The World is not Kind

The increase of power and control of organizations such as the World Bank and the WTO exacerbate the problem. They replace national food banks without a care for local conditions. They promote cash crops for export over basic foodstuffs. They force concentrations of production into areas far from markets. Sharply rising fuel costs can have an exponential effect on commodity prices. A relatively small number of traders in futures can devastate the lives of ordinary citizens.
Already, the Americans speak of geopolitical power by allocating grains to offset the fuel advantages of potential foes. I'm waiting for them to shift water supplies to their advantage.
The world is not kind.

Lusophera: Remembering the Carnation Revolution

by Paula Góes, Global Voices

It was a beautiful party

I was very pleased

I've still kept stubbornly

an old carnation for me

They have wilted your party

But they must have forgotten a seed

in some corner of the garden

(Song by Chico Buarque, to whom I beg forgiveness for my translation)

In April 25 1974, 34 years today, Portugal's 40-year fascist dictatorship, the longest in the history of Western Europe, came to an end with the Carnation Revolution, a leftist, military-led coup d'état. On that morning people went out to the streets despite the advice to stay at home, but instead of blood shed, bullets were swapped for flowers. There was a surprisingly peaceful overthrow of the dictatorship of Antônio de Oliveira Salazar and his successor, Marcelo Caetano, in which the population held red carnations and tucked them into the soldiers' rifle barrel. The second aim of the revolution was the cessation of the war in Africa.

With the too rapid independence for its African colonies, a violent civil wars shook Angola, Mozambique was made independent the year after but only found peace in 1992 and East Timor was seized by force by the Indonesia a year later. Other colonies, like Cape Verde, were left poor to despair. Despite the decolonization process being considered a shambles, the revolution enjoys popular support today and many Portuguese speaking bloggers, from these countries and around the world, dedicated a post to it.

Pangea Day: Videos to Change the World May 10th

by Juliana Rincón Parra, Global Voices

On May 10th 2008 at 18:00 GMT, 24 films will be broadcast during a 4 hour event. What makes this different is that this event, PangeaDay will be broadcast from six locations worldwide in seven different languages worldwide to be viewed through internet, television or cellphones with one unique purpose: to make each other know about the lives of others and focus on what makes us similar, instead of what makes us different and let us work together towards peace. This initiative came from Egyptian filmmaker Jehane Noujaim's wish. As a TED Prize winner she was granted a wish in addition to a $100 000 USD award. PangeaDay is her wish, to change the world and create a day in which people of the world could come together through film. Her 2006 acceptance speech can be found here.

Because PangeaDay is about bringing people together, an invitation made for audiences to upload their own videos on the pangeaday video channel where you can view the 1037 videos people uploaded in reply.

African Refugees in Israel

African Refugees in Israel

Note: The 6000 African refugees survive in Israel, because no one else in the neighborhood would let them live. They are first-rate human beings in my book. They have not threatened to put us into the sea. They have not attacked us with AK47’s or rockets.
It is our DUTY to help them any way we can.

Africans in Israel

By Gilad Notan, Global Voices

Around 6,000 African refugees escaped the horrors in their countries, and seek refuge in Israel. Many of them live in harsh conditions and can be spotted shivering cold on the streets of southern Tel-Aviv. Earlier this month, the Physicians for Human Rights clinic was forced to shut down, leaving many with no access to healthcare. The insensitive behavior from the side of the Israeli government comes only tens of years after the holocaust, when Jews came to the same plot of land, seeking refuge from the horrors of Europe.

An active internet campaign has been stirring the Hebrew blogosphere, aiming to raising public awareness for the African refugee's basic rights for healthcare among other basic services in Israel. They call for the government to allocate immediate funding for a medical clinic run by the Physicians for Human Rights association, which was forced to shut down earlier this month. The clinic provided foreign workers and refugees with free healthcare services, but ever since the surge in numbers of African refugees seeking medical care, the clinic could no longer bear the heavy burden. It shut its doors in hope that the Ministry of Health and the Israeli government would be forced to publicly recognize the refugees basic right for healthcare.

Internet Campaign

Over 95 bloggers have already joined the campaign advocating for refugee healthcare, requesting the Ministry of Health and Israeli government to take responsibility. Bloggers have been writing about the topic, sending letters to political delegates, raising public awareness, expressing public solidarity and joining forces with the goal of influencing. The list of bloggers and links to their articles can be found in Shuki Galili's post. In addition, a Facebook group has been created, aimed at raising public awareness.

Shooky (Hebrew) has been organizing Israeli bloggers and encouraging them to express their opinions and and send letters to the government. He writes:

A defining characteristic of the time and place we are living in is people's disbelief in the possibility of change; that they can make a difference. The purpose of expressing your opinion is not only for reasons of change. There are cases when taking a stance is a moral duty!
Ten days ago the refugee clinic in Tel-Aviv closed down. The Physicians for Human Rights association who operated the clinic is demanding from the State of Israel to recognize this problem, and provide refugees (and foreign workers) with healthcare treatments…
In order to keep this topic on the agenda, I asked a group of selected bloggers to write a few words and express an opinion. I am asking every blogger who reads this post to act in the same manner. Even if you do not think you will have an effect, even if you think you have nothing to say, add your opinion.
And ask others to do the same.

Israeli Physicians for Human Rights

African Refugees on Tel-Aviv Beach

Physicians for Human Rights in Israel
Elishva Milikovsky writes in the Israeli political blog, Black Labor:
Physicians for Human Rights, one of the most amazing organizations in Israel, opened a clinic in Tel-Aviv ten years ago. The clinic began its operations after one of the volunteer doctors met a working immigrant who suffered from a simple injury which developed into a serious infection, as it was not treated in time. The immigrant later died from this infection.
The PHR clinic offered services to any person in Israel who did not have health insurance, but throughout its time of service, the clinic made it clear that it did not have the financial means to provide medical support for every uninsured person. The organization's goal was to point to the fact that there exists a population in Israel under serious threat because of lack of medical insurance, and to fight for people's right and entitlement to healthcare services…
Muhammad, a Sudanese refugee in his 20s, suffers from a brain tumor. It is not cancerous, but its position in the brain makes it impossible for him to control his swallowing muscles - thus he cannot eat. His situation is becoming more and more critical. He drastically lost weight in the past weeks. An operation will cost tens of thousands of NIS, which of course, he does not have. If he had health insurance he could have already been healthy. But since he does not, he may die soon.
The Ministry of Finance stated that allocation of a budget for the refugees will have to wait until 2009. But these people's health cannot wait until then! We must not forget that the right for healthcare - is actually the right to life.
Arguments
The arguments against providing refugees with medical care are diverse. One claims that the State should make the refugee's lives difficult in order to signal others not to come. Another common voice calls for the use of the word “infiltrators” instead of “refugees”, portraying their lack of rights. This way, those asking for help are turned into criminals, making it is easier to for the State to withdraw its responsibility, as it is responsible for refugees but not infiltrators. The decision makers did not take into account that the refugees never had the possibility to enter Israel legally. For obvious reasons, they had no choice but to “infiltrate” into a secure country while seeking protection.
Following the closure of PHR Israel's Open Clinic, Health Minister Yacov Ben Yizri asked the Director General of the Prime Minister's Bureau Ra'anan Dinur for an immediate of a NIS seven million budget, designated for treating Africans who have infiltrated Israel illegally, many of whom suffer from contagious and chronic diseases. The purpose of the requested budget is to treat African infiltrators and refugees, vaccinate them, test them for HIV and AIDS, hospitalize those suffering from tuberculosis, hepatitis and cancer and to deliver babies. The Health Ministry estimates that among the infiltrators currently in Israel, some 100 of them suffer from AIDS, and dozens have cancer.
Personal Accounts
city blond describes a personal account and connection to a group of these refugees. She begins her post with a moving email that her mother had received three weeks beforehand. It was a personal email from a friend, describing the dire refugee situation in her neighborhood in central Tel-Aviv:
I want to confess. Like everyone else, I had heard about this topic, the refugees from Darfur and its neighbors in Africa. I acknowledge that I heard it on the radio, read every piece of text in the papers and saw it all on television. And yes, I shifted uncomfortably on my couch, but thought to myself that Africa is far away (even when it lives in moldy cellars in the south side of the city near the central station). And… I continued onwards. Even though I am usually one who cares, am active and volunteer in various places. But c'mon, how much can we handle?
It all changed last week.
A few days ago, someone spilled (literally!) one hundred Africans from buses (from Eritrea and the Ivory Coast) into my street and disappeared. They were all led to an old, unutilized building down the street. The middle of Tel-Aviv, 2008, center of hip Tel-Aviv culture, and one hundred young African refugees aged 18 to 45 are there, when all they have are ragged clothing and the good-heartedness of the neighbors. They have nothing! They have no food, no water, no blankets. They sleep on the floor. No clothes. Nothing!!
It took us several days to realize that they were simply abandoned and that nobody was taking care of them. It took us three days to understand. Three days they did not eat!! And they, with their charming politeness and venerated behavior, sat quietly, and looked at all the passers-by in the street.
Ever since then, we are doing everything we can to help them. Neighbors bringing food and picking up clothes. But for the long-run, it is difficult to feed one hundred people every day. I thought that a hungry refugee's eyes is something my mother left in Europe 60 years ago. But I found this right in front of my eyes, literally in my house; and I cannot take it.
I cannot sleep in a comfortable bed and eat my daily breakfast when 50 meters away, one hundred people are hungry and shivering.
The Hebrew blogger continues to describe how this letter touched her and led her to volunteer with this group of refugees. She tells of a personal connection formed with an Eritrean refugee who was caught in a bureaucratic mess while trying to receive his temporary work permit. She contemplates the hardships of getting close and personally involved:
I am concerned about this. I try to shake this feeling, it has no use. I need to believe that this situation will resolve quickly. My spontaneous volunteering which started unplanned after that email, turned into a deep personal involvement that caught me completely by surprise. I have no doubt that I am lucky for having this chance to help. I am sure that in the future I will be thankful for every moment that I spent with the wonderful refugees and the fantastic volunteers whom I met in the park. I am certain that my acquaintance with Moses will last many years, and I am hopeful that he will live here happily and securely - at least until the situation in Eritrea will change and he could go back without facing prison or death.
But at this moment I am worried. Concerned what will happen if he will not receive his work permit.
And yes, there is the annoying little voice in my head, saying “why did you need all this? Why did you take this matter so personally? Was it not better to leave the help on a general refugee group level? Such that would end when they were taken from the park? Why do I need this hurtful worry towards a specific person?
I could not avoid it. It's easier to stay distanced, to help, give, volunteer, but without being sucked into personal acquaintance…
I am staying away from all the dumb arguments on ‘why we need them here', and ‘we have enough problems of our own' and ‘they are not refugees but illegal immigrants', and other offensive comments I read. The UN recognizes them as refugees. They are running away from a harsh daily reality of political persecution, torture, imprisonment and death. And above it all, fact is they are here. In the meanwhile, our country is not banishing them. We cannot be indifferent to the hunger and repulsive living conditions in the central station. They are humans, in distress. They are here right in front of our eyes.
How can we ignore all this?
Another personal perspective is shared here:
A Sudanese refugee has recently started working in my company… Michael. A great guy, whom one of my work colleagues picked up hitch-hiking in Tel Aviv. After their conversation, he decided to help find Michael a job in our company… Great guy, smiling and laughing constantly. Even through all that he has gone through, and the fact that he is here alone. In my department, we decided to adopt him and care for anything he might need. He has already picked up words in Hebrew and can read bits here and there. If those opposing the support for Darfur refugees would meet Michael, they would quickly understand that it is not an “enemy of the State” that we're dealing with. I wish there were more people like him in this country.
Anyone who can help is asked to get in touch through the following email - laplitim@gmail.com
The following materials would be happily accepted: mattresses, blankets, towels, games, toys, pampers, cooking utensils and food - rice, pasta, any canned foods.
Additional GVO article on African refugees in Israel - Israel-Sudanese Refugees: Like Darfur, as Auschwitz

Saturday, April 26, 2008

The Dawning of the Age of the Asian PC

Andrew Leonard, Salon.com

In 2007, sales of personal computers to the Asia-Pacific region topped sales in the United States for the first time ever. According to statistics compiled by Gartner Inc., for the entire year Asia-Pacific shipments totaled 70.7 million units, while only 64.2 million PCs were sold in the United States. The trend continued in the first quarter of 2008, with 19.1 million PCS sold to Asia, and 15.2 million sold in the U.S.

As defined by Gartner, the Asia-Pacific region does not include Japan, but encompasses both China and India. So on a per capita basis the U.S. is still doing quite well, comparatively. But the trend line is significant. First, the data prove that a growing percentage of all of those semiconductors exported to China by Intel do not ultimately end up in computers that are shipped back to the U.S. The relentless focus on global markets by U.S. corporations isn't motivated solely by the cost-savings from outsourcing and offshoring -- there's plenty of money to be made selling real products, too.

Second, if, as noted earlier today, the future productivity increases necessary to keep the global economy growing healthily and enable humanity to avoid Malthusian disaster will be a function of increased knowledge, then we can probably expect a growing proportion of life-saving technological innovation to come from all those new computer users in Asia.

-- Andrew Leonard

No More Brothels for You

Broadsheet, Salon.com

How's your office bracing for the recession? Switching to generic creamer? Scaling back on those swanky holiday parties? In Germany, one bank is taking drastic measures. According to a recent article in the Independent:

"Deutsche Bank, Germany's largest, has been hit by the global credit crunch so badly that it has issued a memorandum to senior executives telling them that brothel visits and adult channels in hotel rooms cannot be claimed on expenses."

What? You expect these poor executives to pay for their own hookers and porn? Next you're gonna tell them that Anal Intruder isn't tax deductible! Wow, I guess some companies are tightening the belt literally. It's bad enough that people were rioting in Haiti. But having to shell out for your own happy-ending massage? Now that's a global crisis. As one employee groused:

"In the good old days, you could pass off a trip to a knocking-shop as a restaurant if the name wasn't too obvious. But we're in an uptight, locked-down new Puritanism now."

Oh, the injustice.

Where Has All the Rice Gone?


The Internet is buzzing over the decision by Sam's Club and a few Costco outlets to limit bulk rice purchases to customers. Rice rationing in the United States! How long before food riots in San Francisco?

How the World Works has been accused by some readers of peddling a relentless supply of doom of late, but when the price of the staple food of half the planet's population triples in less than five months, governments get nervous. It's a big story, and unlike in the case of corn (biofuels) or wheat (bad weather) there is no easy villain to blame. World rice production is up, but demand is up more. Production gains are not keeping up with population growth and increased consumption.

With that in mind, here's a rice-related item that's gotten a little less coverage than possible rice hoarding in the world's richest country. According to a report in Monrovia, Liberia's The News, the chief executive officer of China's China-Africa Development Fund pledged 5 billion dollars of investment in African agriculture over the next 50 years -- including, specifically, rice production. (Thanks to China Digital Times for the link.)

Mr. Chi Jianxin, at a head of a Chinese delegation, is in the country to explore investment opportunities in the agricultural sector.

Chi said his company has the financial capacity and expertise to develop and stabilize the food situation in Liberia "particularly in rice production and other cash crops."

During an acquaintance visit with Liberia's Agriculture Minister Chris Toe, the Chinese delegation summed up its exploratory visit in averring that an increased investment in the agricultural sector would provide more food as well as jobs for thousands of Liberians

The announcement isn't going to move the price of rice this year, or next, but it's a pretty clear indicator of which way the world has to go if global food production is to be boosted to match world demand while keeping prices affordable. The developed world, (and in this case, we'll include China in that category, with its $1.68 trillion dollars worth of currency reserves) must find ways to invest in Africa, where there is labor, and land, and a desperate need for inputs, both financial and physical. How about it -- Africa: breadbasket of the world, instead of basket case?

-- Andrew Leonard, Salon.com

Panic Time at the Fed


Steve H Hanke, Forbes

U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's blundering is becoming more breathtaking with each passing week. At the end of March he rolled out a grand plan to crown the Federal Reserve as the nation's new financial stabilizer. The Fed a stabilizer? That's who created the financial mess we're in.

If this wasn't bad enough, Secretary Paulson then donned his cheerleader's uniform and encouraged Beijing to let the Chinese yuan appreciate against the greenback. All the while favoring in this fashion a debasement of the U.S. currency, Paulson proclaimed that we should remain calm and confident because the economic fundamentals are sound. He reminds me of the stockbroker who performed a valuable service to his partners by always being wrong.

Friday, April 25, 2008

A Democrat's Worst Nightmare

Robert Borosage, Tom Paine

Until a few days ago, David Broder was a respected Washington Post columnist. Here’s a part of what he wrote.

“Yet, in pointing to those vulnerabilities in her rival, Clinton has heightened the most obvious liability she would carry into a fight against McCain. In an age of deep cynicism about politicians of both parties, McCain is the rare exception who is not assumed to be willing to sacrifice personal credibility to prevail in any contest.”

What possibly could Broder be drinking? Has he forgotten:

  • The John McCain who initially voted against the Bush tax cuts as irresponsible giveaways to the wealthy, but now embraces them, a change in position justified only by his desire to “prevail” in the “contest” for the Republican nomination?
  • Or the John McCain who had the votes in his hand to outlaw the administration’s grotesque torture policies, and instead caved to support the bill that empowered President Bush to define what torture is, a flip-flop motivated only because of the potential cost of his position in the upcoming election?
  • Or the McCain that went from denouncing Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson as “agents of intolerance” in 2004 to doing exactly what he denounced—“pandering to outer reaches of American politics—by kissing their rings in the run-up to the 2008 nominating contest?

Why the utter nonsense reported as accepted fact? Here as so often, Broder, the widely respected dean of Washington punditocracy, is a mirror of conventional wisdom. And as TV host Chris Mathews notes, “The media loves McCain. We’re his base.”

But can’t reporters love the guy without drinking the Kool-Aid? McCain has now put forth an economic plan that adds an astounding $300 billion dollars a year in corporate and top-end tax cuts to a commitment to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent. This is an utterly irresponsible and fantastical posture at a moment the economy is headed into recession and the dollar is already sinking.

The commentariat will have to decide whether their affection for McCain overcomes their commitment to common sense. Their choice should be instructive. If they follow Broder, that will be the Democrats' worst nightmare.

New Boffo Box Office Hit

There are no respected senior military figures who utter unbiased opinions.
From the evidence, I suggest this scenario.
Since 1996 the FBI has been selling US nuclear 'secrets' through the State Department to ambitious Middle East buyers. Of course, the 'secrets' are bogus.
The Americans figured the buyers would never make a serious effort to build the secret weapons. Only the Iranians in 2003 had carried the plans to the point they detected the fraud. The Iranians abandoned the program [NIE] not eager to disclose how the US had duped them.
The Administration hopes they can use the bogus information as a future false flag operation to start bombing the nuclear facilities.
The President has just announced the September 2007 Israeli air raid took out a potential Syrian nuclear reactor in the desert. The Israeli action might have been an experiment to gauge future world reaction. If the Syrians were entirely innocent in this operation, they would have howled to high heaven.
My screenplay on this scenario is in second draft. After Bush nukes Iran, the film could be a boffo box office hit.

War Lessons Never Learned

By Conn Hallinan, Foreign Policy in Focus.

[Excerpts]

For starters, people don’t like losing control of their country. With the exceptions of the Kurds and Maliki and his allies, Iraqis are overwhelmingly opposed to the occupation. That disconnect between occupied and occupiers was summed up by Luu Doan Huynh, a Vietnamese veteran of the war against the Japanese, the French, and the Americans, and one of the key diplomats in the Vietnam peace talks. “The Americans thought that Vietnam was a war,” he said. “We knew that Vietnam was our country.”

As the Bush administration saw it, a successful attack on the Mahdi army would not only clear the way for privatizing the Iraqi oil industry, it would demonstrate that the Iraqi army was ready “to stand up,” thus boosting the campaign of Republican presidential candidate John McCain.

But as Karl von Clausewitz once pointed out, no plan survives contact with the enemy. Historical analogies are tricky. They may obscure as much as they reveal. But history is the only guide we have, and it is one the Bush administration has willfully chosen to ignore.

As it did in Vietnam, the United States looks at Iraq though the lens of firepower and troop deployments. But war is not just about things that blow up, and occupiers always ignore the point of view of the occupied.

As Frank Rich pointed out in The New York Times, there was indeed a whiff of Tet in the debacle in Basra. Just before the 1968 attack, U.S. General William Westmoreland made his historic “light at the end of the tunnel” prediction. In recent testimony before the Senate, General David Petraeus said the United States was making “significant” progress in Iraq, and his spokesman, Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, bragged that the United States had the Mahdi army on the ropes: “We’ve degraded their capability.”

“There is a parallel to Tet here,” says military historian Jack Radey. “’We have won the war, violence is down, the surge works’ [the U.S. told itself], and then Kaboom! The Green Zone is taking incoming.”

Radey argues that the American “victories” against the Vietnamese in the period leading up to the Tet offensive were an illusion. “If the enemy seems to be missing from the picture, this is not proof you have wiped him out,” he says. “It is more likely proof that you have lost track of him, and he will, at his own chosen time, find ways to remind you of his presence.”

Wesley Snipes Draws 3-year Jolt from IRS

They call Wesley Snipes stupid for not paying taxes.

Stupid? We are the stupid ones who failed to scuttle the useless and perverse IRS many years ago.
The former IRS employees could do road work until they reimburse the government for their salaries fraudulently collected.
I haven't paid taxes since 1978. The government has done nothing for me since COINTELPRO took over.
I figure we are a wash.

Jazz without Liquor

Jonathan Perry, Boston Globe

The applause for Turkuaz, a white-hot Berklee funk band, had barely died down inside Cafe 939 when its singers, Shane Allen, an 18-year-old freshman, and Jennifer Hirsh, a 21-year-old senior, found themselves beaming (in matching gold lamè) on Boylston Street.

“Honestly, it's about time," said Hirsh, a music business major, of Cafe 939, the mostly student-run, all-ages music venue and coffeehouse that opened at 939 Boylston St. in December and launched its live music program this month. "I've been here for four years and they've really needed a venue like this. The [Berklee] Performance Center is difficult to get involved with unless you audition for a big show there. And the sound was better here than at any of the venues we've played."

Allen, a voice student from Los Angeles, nodded her head in agreement: "They're running it like a real venue."

And so they are - "they" being 15 Berklee work-study students plus event manager Jacqueline Indrisano and engineer Lauren Caso, a Berklee graduate who handled light and sound for the likes of Aerosmith and the Who during the eight years she worked for promoter Don Law.

Most of this month's shows at the club - where everything from booking bands to working the box office is handled by the students - have sold out quickly. Programming, which has included a mix of internationally known artists such as jazz saxophonist Miguel Zenón (a Berklee alum) as well as Berklee undergraduate groups like Turkuaz, runs Wednesdays through Sundays between 8 p.m. and 11 p.m. Meanwhile, "The New Brew," a free lunchtime concert series showcasing student performers, runs Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-2 p.m.

"This is the space everyone's been waiting for," said event coordinator Sarah DeMatos, a 22-year-old aspiring singer from Mattapoisett. "You can [be under] 21 and still feel welcome here and get the club experience. We're trying to bring awesome music to anybody with open ears."

Tonight, Brooklyn indie-folk duo the Fiery Furnaces is scheduled to play the 200 person-capacity room. The Click Five headline the club tomorrow night. Because Cafe 939 does not have a liquor license, says Berklee talent buyer Kenny Czadzeck, "it puts extra pressure on us to book really good talent. Unlike other clubs who might just book a bar band because they know they'll sell a lot of liquor, we don't have that option."

Indrisano, a veteran of Boston's nightlife who used to book the legendary Rat in Kenmore Square, describes her job as that of "fairy godmother." She feeds off the youthfully endless energy of her students, as well as the bustling atmosphere of Cafe 939.

"I'm the luckiest girl on earth," said Indrisano. "I've been to so many shows in the city and nothing aggravates me more [than] when I'm trying to listen and people are turning their backs on the show and starting their own party, and not even paying attention to the band. Here the music is the show and not the cocktails."

Berklee president Roger H. Brown is impressed with how students have run both the Cafe 939 club and the coffeehouse attached to the venue. "I'm in love with it so I'm a little irrational," said Brown, who regularly drops by the cafe. "The dream now is to get great [musicians] in here to do clinics and workshops. If we play our cards right, maybe on a night they don't have a show, they'll come over."

Too often, said Brown, "the star musician is in this hermetic bubble and goes back to the Ritz after their concert. Maybe we can get them to swing by here instead, and do a short set."

Czadzeck believes a crucial component of Cafe 939's success boils down to that old axiom: location, location, location. "There's lots of nightlife around here but there's no live entertainment, music or otherwise," said Czadzeck.

"So, in addition to us being the only all-ages club in the city, even if you are over 21, you can come here, see an early show, and still go out on the town. With the foot traffic outside, people see the party going on inside and want to come check it out."

Indeed, on the balmy spring evening that Turkuaz performed, the sleek but warm red-walled room filled up fast. No one bothered sitting on the couches that lined a wall of windows looking out onto Boylston Street, opting instead to crowd close to the performers. A phalanx of strategically placed stage lights flooded the band, soaked the sumptuous red velvet curtain stage backdrop, and bounced off the brass of the horn section.

By the time Turkuaz tore into an exuberant, radically reworked version of the Beatles' "We Can Work It Out" - sounding like Chic crossed with the Average White Band - the dance floor had become one massive groove, rippling with energy and smiles.

"It's a shame," said Lily O'Brien, a senior music business major, "that we have to graduate."

Did Israel Bomb a Syrian Nuclear Reactor in 2007?

Jamal Dajani, Huff Post

"The Bush administration charged Thursday that a secret Syrian nuclear reactor was within weeks or months of completion before Israel bombed it on Sept. 6 and demanded that North Korea and Syria publicly acknowledge their collusion on a facility that could have produced plutonium for a nuclear weapon. " The Washington Post

But the Syrian Ambassador to Washington totally rejected these allegations and compared them to the Iraq WMDs fiasco. Do you believe him?

More on Syria: The Taming of the Assad (lion)

Jamal Dajani produces the Mosaic intelligence Report on Link TV

Best Ways to See the World by Foot


Rebecca Ruiz, Forbes

Until the relatively recent invention of the steam and internal combustion engines, humans traveled the earth by foot. The slow travel meant that explorers and pilgrims frequently returned with a catalog of stories about far-off lands: some of them wild tales, some honest renderings.

Barbara Klion, a retiree from Harstdale, N.Y., knows what that's like. As an avid walker who has toured Australia, Kenya, and China on foot, her trips are the contemporary version of an age-old tradition.

For years, Klion and her husband, now 75 and 80, traveled independently. In 2003, they decided to try guided walking tours. That's when the couple went to Scotland with the La Jolla, Calif.-based tour operator Classic Journeys.

In Pictures: Best Ways To See The World by Foot

"He had us right back there in the 16th century," Klion says of her guide, who was also a historian, singer and expert on Robert Burns, a famous Scottish poet. "He led us through the highlands, telling the history of Scotland. It rained every single day but we didn't care."

Walkers are generally a committed bunch; they know that seeing the world by foot yields a rare experience. Often travelers bond with interesting locals. They also get a vivid, lasting impression of the landscape. Walking tours can be done in one's figurative backyard, but there are several destinations around the world that expose travelers to the best of nature and culture.

What To Look For
Tim Smith, a guide for the Waterbury, Vt.-based tour company Country Walkers, says the essentials of a quality stroll are a great landscape, tolerable weather, suitable level of difficulty and something, like ecology, history or culture, to get the brain buzzing. These may seem like vague directives, but the fun of walking tours is that they're easily personalized by the traveler.

Someone who appreciates hot climates, wildlife and flat terrain could opt for a walking safari in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park. Walkers can watch hippopotamuses and crocodiles swim in the Luangwa River and yellow-billed storks try to catch fish in the shallow waters of oxbow lagoons.

Travelers who don't mind the cold and enjoy adventure could hike Patagonia, a region of southern Argentina east of the Andes. The area is characterized by its many eco-systems and majestic glaciers. The tour operator Butterfield & Robinson offers a week-long walking tour of Patagonia, including trips to the Los Glaciares National Park and the Perito Moreno Glacier. Walkers accustomed to well-appointed accommodations don't have to worry; the Butterfield & Robinson tour puts travelers up at luxury hotels with spa services and gourmet meals paired with Argentinean wines.

For those concerned about distance and level of difficulty, mileage varies depending on the itinerary, and tour operators and national parks differentiate between easier walks and harder ones. In general, independent travelers can decide how far to go each day, while guests of a tour operator should expect to walk an average of four to eight miles daily. At the Fiordland National Park in New Zealand, for example, there are several easy-to-moderate hikes and three "great walks," giving travelers who want to enjoy views of the rain forest and alpine landscape many options.


Exceptional Excursions
Companies that organize walking tours also work hard to set themselves apart from the competition, often emphasizing an exclusive cultural experience. Sarah Thies, a marketing and communications manager for Classic Journeys, says the company focuses on connections with locals.

What area of the world are you itching to discover? Weigh in. Add your thoughts in the Reader Comments section below.

"They're introducing us to their friends and family members," she says, "and they're opening up their homes to us." This might include visiting a Tuscan shepherd who allows the guests to sample traditional cheeses or discussing wine and politics with a winemaker who opened the first Croatian vineyard after the fall of communism.

Country Walkers builds relationships with local guides who find less-traveled paths and villages. In Nepal, for example, the company stays away from the heavily-trafficked Mount Everest route and instead walks trails also used by villagers.

"We feel when we go to these areas," says Jamen Yeaton-Masi, the director of operations for Country Walkers, "we are walking on the trails that people have been walking on for hundreds of years. It's really like stepping back in time."

Thursday, April 24, 2008

War on Terror Dehumanizes All Parties to It

Excerpts from Stephan Lendman, Opednews.com

We man checkpoints, stop people from going somewhere, humiliate them, but "I'm doing my duty (and) inflicting pain on people, harming them unnecessarily." It affects your mind, your sleep the longer you serve there. Jews do as they please. There are no laws. Anything goes, breaking into shops, occupying Palestinian homes. Your judgment gets impaired when everyday your enemy is an Arab. You don't look at them as people. But they're not dogs, not animals, not inferior, yet they simply don't count, and since they're your enemy you can kill them.”

Serving in Hebron made me feel there's something different about being a Jew. I can't explain it. I'm supposed to guard the settlers who don't have the kind of morality I was raised to believe. I reached a point where I didn't know who the enemy was anymore, Jews or Arabs. Maybe I need to protect the Arabs, not the Jews who attack them. I feel emotionally injured. If someone's caught breaking curfew, we can let them have it aggressively. Hold them, make them wait eight hours with no water, sit and wait. "Why? Because he walked outside. Because he dared go buy something. Because he dared send his kid to school." We can even shoot them.

It no longer is "willing to take part in such choices. We are no longer willing to go on being mobilized, raising our children for mobilization....while those in charge of the country go on deploying the army easily, rather than building other solutions."