Saturday, January 10, 2009


At DailyKos, diarist Bill in Portland, Maine caught this late night snark from Jay Leno:

"Actually, it looks like Roland Burris will get his Senate seat, but Senate leaders said not until his certificate is signed by the Illinois secretary of state. They say this has been the rule since 1884. They've never, ever wavered from this. Of course, over the past eight years, they've waived rules against, y'know, torture and spying on Americans and violating the Constitution, but never the little signature."
---Jay Leno

Says quite a lot about what really matters to the democratic party senate leadership.

When you look at the people who have for the last 8 years

Glenn Greenwald recounts the tragic story of the courageous Justice Department lawyer Thomas Tamm who "blew the whistle on Bush's illegal NSA spying program by alerting The New York Times ... that Bush was eavesdropping on Americans without the warrants required by law." The FBI continues to investigate and threaten Tamm, whose life has been shattered.

That's America's justice system in a nutshell: the President who deliberately and knowingly violated our 30-year-old law making it a felony offense to eavesdrop on Americans without warrants has the entire political and media class eagerly defend him against prosecution. Those who enabled him -- in both parties -- block investigations into what was done. Ruth Marcus and Cass Sunstein and friends offer one excuse after the next to justify this immunity. But the powerless and defenseless -- though definitively courageous -- public servant who blew the whistle on this lawbreaking is harassed, investigated, and pursued by the DOJ's Criminal Division to the point of bankruptcy and depression, while the lawbreakers and their enablers stand by mute and satisfied.

Actually, even when it comes to something as relatively petty (and misguided) as their pledge to exclude Burris from entering the glorious, imperial Senate, Senate Democrats -- "led" by Harry Reid -- can't avoid capitulating completely... When you look at the people who have led both parties for the last eight years, was there any outcome even theoretically possible for the country other than what we got: total disaster in every realm?

One of the most inane claims of the last eight years -- and that's obviously saying something -- was the hysterical accusation that national security had been harmed, that our "intelligence capabilities" had been revealed to The Terrorists, all because The New York Times informed the country that the President was eavesdropping without the warrants required by law rather than with them.

Tamm's "crime" is having told the press of Bush's crime (it's not as if it would have done any good to go to the justice department with the story). The NYT sat on the story until shortly before Eric Lichtblau's book on the matter was to be published.

Tamm is a courageous truth teller, whose actions remind me of Daniel Ellsburg's release of the Pentagon Papers, and Ron Ridenhour's one-man letter writing campaign to 30 members of congress which eventually resulted a probe of the My Lai Massacres in Viet Nam.

Consider the number of people who knew about the warantless wire taps. Consider the number of people who knew about the various lies told to the American public about our invasion and occupation of that country. Consider the number of people who knew about the massacre at My Lai.

And now consider the number of people who had the courage of their convictions to report these stories to someone who could get these stories out, into the light of day.

To understand the American people, just reflect on this: WE reelected George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.

Obama's silence on Palestine marks his approval

John Pilger condemns those who know the truths of the on-going 61 year program to expel the Palestinians from their home lands. The truths stand in diametric and stark opposition to the print and broadcast "news" of events from Israel. The silence of those who know is a lie.

"When the truth is replaced by silence," the Soviet dissident Yevgeny Yevtushenko said, "the silence is a lie." It may appear the silence is broken on Gaza. ... But Russia's incorrigible poet was not referring to the ephemeral we call news; he was asking why those who knew the why never spoke it and so denied it. Among the Anglo-American intelligentsia, this is especially striking. It is they who hold the keys to the great storehouses of knowledge: the historiographies and archives that lead us to the why.

They know that the horror now raining on Gaza has little to do with Hamas or, absurdly, "Israel's right to exist." They know the opposite to be true: that Palestine's right to exist was canceled 61 years ago and the expulsion and, if necessary, extinction of the indigenous people was planned and executed by the founders of Israel. They know, for example, that the infamous "Plan D" resulted in the murderous depopulation of 369 Palestinian towns and villages by the Haganah (Jewish army) and that massacre upon massacre of Palestinian civilians in such places as Deir Yassin, al-Dawayima, Eilaboun, Jish, Ramle and Lydda are referred to in official records as "ethnic cleansing." Arriving at a scene of this carnage, David Ben-Gurion, Israel's first prime minister, was asked by a general, Yigal Allon, "What shall we do with the Arabs?" Ben-Gurion, reported the Israeli historian Benny Morris, "made a dismissive, energetic gesture with his hand and said, ‘Expel them'...

Every subsequent "war" Israel has waged has had the same objective: the expulsion of the native people and the theft of more and more land. The lie of David and Goliath, of perennial victim, reached its apogee in 1967 when the propaganda became a righteous fury that claimed the Arab states had struck first. Since then, mostly Jewish truth-tellers such as Avi Schlaim, Noam Chomsky, the late Tanya Reinhart, Neve Gordon, Tom Segev, Yuri Avnery, Ilan Pappe and Norman Finklestein have dispatched this and other myths and revealed a state shorn of the humane traditions of Judaism, whose unrelenting militarism is the sum of an expansionist, lawless and racist ideology called zionism...

In Gaza, the enforced starvation and denial of humanitarian aid, the piracy of life-giving resources such as fuel and water, the denial of medicines and treatment, the systematic destruction of infrastructure and the killing and maiming of the civilian population, 50 per cent of whom are children, meet the international standard of the Genocide Convention. "Is it an irresponsible overstatement," asked Richard Falk, the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and international law authority at Princeton University, "to associate the treatment of Palestinians with this criminalized Nazi record of collective atrocity? I think not."

In describing a "holocaust-in-the making," Falk was alluding to the Nazis' establishment of Jewish ghettos in Poland. For one month in 1943, the captive Polish Jews led by Mordechaj Anielewiz fought off the German army and the SS, but their resistance was finally crushed and the Nazis exacted their final revenge. Falk is also a Jew. Today's holocaust-in-the-making, which began with Ben-Gurion's Plan D, is in its final stages. The difference today is that it is a joint US-Israeli project. The F-16 jet fighters, the 250-pound "smart" GBU-39 bombs supplied on the eve of the attack on Gaza, having been approved by a Congress dominated by the Democratic Party, plus the annual $2.4 billion in war-making "aid," give Washington de facto control. It beggars belief that President-elect Obama was not informed. Outspoken on Russia's war in Georgia and the terrorism in Mumbai, Obama's silence on Palestine marks his approval, which is to be expected, given his obsequiousness to the Tel Aviv regime and its lobbyists during the presidential campaign and his appointment of Zionists as his secretary of state, chief of staff and principal Middle East advisers.

The asymmetry of conquest and terror is clear. Plan D is now "Operation Cast Lead," which is the unfinished "Operation Justified Vengeance." The latter was launched by Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in 2001 when, with Bush's approval, he used F-16s against Palestinian towns and villages for the first time... However, the 2001 Israeli plan, reported Jane's, needed the "trigger" of a suicide bombing which would cause "numerous deaths and injuries [because] the 'revenge' factor is crucial." This would "motivate Israeli soldiers to demolish the Palestinians." What alarmed Sharon and the author of the plan, General Shaul Mofaz, the Israeli Chief of Staff, was a secret agreement between Yasser Arafat and Hamas to ban suicide attacks. On 23 November, 2001, Israeli agents assassinated the Hamas leader, Mahmud Abu Hunud, and got their "trigger"; the suicide attacks resumed in response to his killing.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Failing those who draw their last breath hungry

Allan Nairn has been featured prominently on Democracy Now! for the past several days. In a recent blog posting, he analyzes the so-called "food crisis" and argues compellingly that it is, in fact, a wealth distribution crisis, which can be solved.

[T]he rich world is right to flagellate the Burmese generals for holding back resources as people die (a BBC World TV interviewer yesterday called it "criminal neglect") but wrong to fail to note that they do the same thing daily, on a global, far more deadly, scale.

The rich do pass out some of their spare wealth during a cyclone or other covered crisis, but on a daily basis withhold enough of it such that 850 million people routinely go hungry.

The recent food price hike has upped that statistic by perhaps a hundred million, and so it is said that we are in a "food crisis" and that "the era of cheap food is over."

The world would indeed be in a food crisis if there were not enough food to feed the people. But that is not the case.

The problem is that many millions of people can't afford food. That, clearly, is not a food crisis, but rather a wealth crisis, more precisely a wealth distribution crisis that can be solved by shifts from rich to poor, and a crisis that can be kept from recurring if laws and economies are then modified to institutionalize a new, more realistic, system that doesn't happen to starve people -- an objective which, one would think, is a fairly modest, and perhaps popular, goal.

But the same could also be said of a number of others at the summit -- those who run the world economy --, which is certainly failed from the point of view of those who draw their last breath hungry.

If someone's dying and you have a dollar that could save them and you withhold it, you have killed them. It's so extreme it sounds ridiculous, but it happens to be true, and will continue to be true so long as surplus coexists with bodies living on the cliff of death, or, for the luckier young ones, the cliff of mere body stunting and underdevelopment of their brains.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Coming to the obvious conclusion

Jeff Huber provides the rigorous frame work to reach a horrendous conclusion:

I see no way to avoid the conclusion, given the overwhelming preponderance of the Israelis' actions and rhetoric over the past three years, that they consider genocide of a defenseless adversary to be a perfectly legitimate course of action.

And it looks like they can get away with it for at least as long as George W. Bush is in office.

Based on Obama's campaign pledges of fealty to Israel, hope for change in U.S. foreign policy towards Palestine seems remote.

Let us pray.

I did the math

Russia Today ponders whether or not Israel can afford to the costs of waging terror upon the Gazan citizens.

Israel employs state-of-the-art weaponry – and just one sortie by an Israeli F-16 could cost as much as $US 1 million, if we factor in spare parts, maintenance and repair costs, and of course the mega expensive precision weapons.


Air-to-surface missiles equipped with laser, infrared, optical or GPS guidance cost hundreds of thousands of U.S. dollars apiece. The price tag of a single AGM-65 Maverick missile that the Israeli air force employs costs some $US 150,000

More modern Israeli-developed, precision guided, air-to-surface AGM-142 Have Nap “Popeye” missiles cost a whopping $US 500,000 per unit according to Hel HaAvir, the Israeli Air Force, was lobbing hundreds of those into targets in Gaza since Saturday December 27. You do the math.

100 times $US 500,000 is $US 50,000,000 per hundred. So lobbing two hundred into Gazan targets costs $100 million. Lobbing 300 costs $150 million. And so on. That's the math.

The Israeli defense budget may be an impressive $US 18 billion, but at this rate it is burning through the money. Israel's war against Hezbollah in 2006 cost the country about 1% of its GDP, or roughly $US 1.6 billion. These days Israel simple cannot afford such costs.

With Obama's administration having to deal with crises at home, the U.S. might not be as easily persuaded to pay the difference between Israeli defense budgets and its expenditures. Last year alone, the annual military grant the U.S. gave to Israel amounted to some $US 2.2 billion.

Israel does not want to leave Hamas any breathing space, but if the war drags on much longer, Israel might be out of breath itself.

What an interesting thought. Perhaps the Obama administration could stop "paying the difference between the Israeli defense budgets and its expenditures."

Did I read THAT right?

This is the kind of thing that can happen when you start a war

In an article entitled Warring on the Cheap, Russia Today notes that:

Back in 1980 Iraq was a wealthy and prosperous country sitting on the some of the world biggest oil reserves, but then one Iraqi leader, a certain Saddam Hussein, decided that oil fields in neighbouring Iran were also his by right

It was suppose to be a quick and efficient war. The Iranian army after the Islamic revolution of 1979 was seen as no match for well-trained and state-of-the-art Iraqi forces.

What happened in the next eight years not only brought about the death of some 200,000 Iraqis (and close to one million Iranians), but totally ruined the Iraqi economy - and ultimately brought about the ignominious end to the Iraqi President.

A surreal near riot

This Oakland Tribune article Hundreds Gather on Oakland Streets to Protest BART Shooting left me puzzled.

Mayor Ron Dellums stood before a fuming crowd on the steps of City Hall on Wednesday night trying to restore calm after angry protesters rampaged through the streets of downtown Oakland, creating a surreal near-riot that lasted several hours.

"Number one, let's deal with each other with respect," Dellums told the crowd over a bullhorn, referring to the Jan. 1 shooting of Oscar Grant III by former BART police Officer Johannes Mehserle — captured on cell phone and digital camera videos and replayed on national television stations. "I sense your anger, I sense your pain and your frustration."

Although Oakland has no direct jurisdiction over the incident, Dellums pledged that the city would investigate Grant's shooting "like any other homicide." Unappeased, the crowd of about 50 protesters erupted in jeers and boos at the mayor's words as he retreated into City Hall, demanding that Mehserle be brought to justice for the unarmed 22-year-old father's death.

About a dozen of the protesters then began smashing windows of nearby businesses and cars, including several city of Oakland vehicles parked near 17th Street and on San Pablo Avenue, just north of Frank H. Ogawa Plaza.

In response, police fired what appeared to be tear gas for the second time after a relatively peaceful demonstration began at the Fruitvale BART Station.

Question - what motivated the first firing of what appeared to be tear gas? We are told this is the second time police have fired tear gas.

Question - why did the police respond with tear gas after "a relatively peaceful demonstration began at the Fruitvale Bart Station?" Once the tear gas has been fired, who expects a relatively peaceful demonstration to remain relatively peaceful. There is plenty of historic evidence that firing tear gas into relatively peaceful demonstrations invariably arouses emotions of fear or anger, and ultimately indignation.

Question - did the event described here begin at the Fruitvale Bart Station, and then progress to city hall into which the mayor is reported to have retreated? (a 3.38 mile drive by automobile)? Or were there multiple events to which police were called?

By the time a marching crowd left the Fruitvale station and reached the Lake Merritt BART station, the protest had turned violent. Cars were burned, windows of cars and downtown businesses were smashed, Dumpsters were overturned, tear gas was fired, and at least 13 people were arrested. Protesters broke out windows and dented an Oakland Police Department car.

The protesters also threw bottles in the direction of officers, and as many as 200 police, including Oakland's Tactical Operations Team, were called to the scene. BART police and officers from the Housing Authority were sent in for backup.

Question - by this time, are more than the original 50 protesters who erupted into jeers involved? How many people are assembled? If so, at what point did the police come to outnumber them 200 to 50?

The protesters were outraged that the officer involved had not been interviewed, he said, adding that he shared their anger. It was clear from the videotape that Grant was lying facedown and he hadn't been accused of a crime, Epstein added.

As the standoff escalated, protesters chanted "murder, murder, murder" and were forced by heavily armed police toward Madison and 15th streets. It was at that time protesters set ablaze another car and smashed shop windows, including Creative African Braids, Oakland Yoon's Pharmacy and the McDonald's on 14th and Madison streets. Damage estimates were impossible to gather late Wednesday, as was the extent of the damage.

BART spokesman Linton Johnson said three stations got shut down by protesters Wednesday — 12th Street, Fruitvale and Lake Merritt.

Johnson said no one was seriously hurt at those stations and no BART property was damaged. "There will be beefed-up security and BART police on standby" at the BART board of directors meeting at 9 a.m. this morning, he said.

The protesters were "calling attention to something that is a systematic problem, which won't go away with an apology," said a 29-year-old who identified himself only as B. Rex. He was arrested and taken by police in a squad car soon after.

Question - on what charge was B. Rex arrested? Clearly, he spoke to a reporter. It seems unlikely that he would have torched a car or broken a window, and then stopped to casually mention that the killing was a systemic problem.

Question - What is surreal about this situation? People are angry. People protest. Mayor responds. People don't like mayor's response. Mayor retreats. Crowd boos and jeers. Small number of people start smashing windows and burning cars. Police fire tear gas. 200 police officers eventually respond to scene. At least 13 are arrested.

Question - were the 13 arrested the original dirty dozen window smashers who initiated the property damage plus B. Rex?

Question - if this is a near riot, what does a full riot look like?
How many more police need to be called to qualify? How many need to be arrested? How many times does tear gas need to be fired?

The time line of events needs some clarification.

Sometimes a story has to have someone who champions it

At the Oakland Tribune, Chuck Barney writes about those other "shots heard round the world" that were fired into the back of the unarmed Oscar Grant III as he lay face down on a Bay Area Rapid Transit station platform.

Tom Rosenstiel, director for the Project for Excellence in Journalism, said compelling video imagery can often help a local news story "leapfrog into national conversation." He cited the Rodney King case as a prime example.

But while anchors for the nation's 24-hour cable news outlets repeatedly have referred to the BART shooting in recent days, the story has received only minimal attention from the major network newscasts.

That probably comes down to timing, said Rosenstiel, pointing out how the national mainstream media is currently fixated on the economy, a new Congress, a new president and a new war in the Middle East.

Not to mention a political scandal involving the Democratic governor of the state of Illinois. That's four topics at one time, quite a balancing act. Besides, it's not really news that police officers kill minorities. Happens often enough. And if the national msm were to feature this story, they'd also have to get into the stun gun phenomenon and that might bring up some issues that local law enforcement agencies might not want debated.

But Rosenstiel also said that, in some cases, news stories gain more national exposure over time.

"Sometimes a story has to have someone who champions it — someone who can command the media," he said. "If Barack Obama suddenly talks about it, it would be everywhere."

Barak Obama had an opportunity to comment on police shooting 50 bullets into an unarmed Sean Bell in New York City. A judge found the police not guilty of anything, and by extension, that they were innocent victims of Sean Bell's crime of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Obama said this:

"Well, look, obviously there was a tragedy in New York. I said at the time, without benefit of all the facts before me, that it looked like a possible case of excessive force. The judge has made his ruling, and we're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down," he said in response to a question at a gas station in Indianapolis, where he was holding a news conference.

"The most important thing for people who are concerned about that shooting is to figure out how do we come together and assure those kinds of tragedies don't happen again," he continued. ... "Resorting to violence to express displeasure over a verdict is something that is completely unacceptable and counterproductive."

We're a nation of laws, so we respect the verdict that came down.

Not really true for the last eight years anyway, not with torture, extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, presidential signing statements being the orders of the days.

There's no reason to believe that Obama does not believe what he is reported to have said. But if he thinks the republicans believe we are a nation of laws, and respect the verdicts that come down, that they care about anything except returning to power and making Obama and the democrats look inept at governance, don't expect his term(s) in office to produce any substantive change.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Another blogger voices concerns about Obama

At The Sideshow, Avadon Carol types her concerns about Obama:

This is the thing that always worries me about Obama - he seems very much a part of that subgroup of people in his age group who fell hook, line, and sinker for the "libertarian" excuses to oppose liberalism, because he doesn't know any better. And unlike a lot of other people in that group, he hasn't learned anything from the last eight years. I have a friend who seems convinced that Obama is the Real Deal because he spoke to him back during his Senate race and learned that Obama really doesn't like Bush - but, really, despising Bush is a pretty low threshold. Not many people ever really liked Bush, anyway. What's important is understanding why the policies are bad, and listening to Obama talk about Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran, I get the feeling he doesn't really know what was wrong with Iraq, either. Same with healthcare.

Not buying Obama's "one president at a time" excuse

Jeff Huber suggests that President-elect Obama's refusal to speak to the unfolding atrocities being played out upon the Palestinian refugees in Gaza points to Israel's ownership of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East.

It would be nice to believe that change is just around the corner, but the ear-splitting silence from Barack Obama, on a holiday surfing safari as the Gaza debacle unfolded, has me suspecting that the Israelis now own U.S. foreign policy trigger, stock and barrel regardless of who the American public puts in power. I don't buy Obama's "one president at a time" excuse. Bush, Cheney and the neocons have gotten away with atrocity after atrocity after atrocity for eight merciless years because people who could have stopped them didn’t want to speak out of turn.

I'd also like to believe that Barack Obama is more concerned with doing the right thing than with what the John Boltons and Sean Hannitys and Bill Kristols of this world have to say about him.

But just now, I'm more inclined to believe in Scientology.

In Washington nothing really changes

Writing at the Defense and the National Interest web site, William S. Lind is not optimistic about prospects for change in U.S. foreign policy under the Obama administration. Sadly, I agree.

The advent of the new American President changes nothing, because in Washington nothing really changes. One wing of the Establishment leaves government and goes into the think tanks and lobbying firms, another returns from those same places to government. The Obama crowd will not face up to the problem of America’s over-extension. It is just as Globalist, interventionist and imprudent as Bush’s herd of Gadarine swine. Gates may prove the one exception, but in the land of the blind the one-eyed man is hated. Plan on more mad foreign military adventures, despite the fact that we now have to print the money to pay for them. 4GW opponents will end up winning most.

Continuation of a horrific scientific experiment by other means

At Counterpunch, Uri Avnery provides context for the crimes against humanity being perpetrated by the Israeli military upon the Gaza refugees.

“ISRAEL MUST defend itself against the rockets that are terrorizing our Southern towns,” the Israeli spokesmen explained. “Palestinians must respond to the killing of their fighters inside the Gaza Strip,” the Hamas spokesmen declared.

As a matter of fact, the cease-fire did not collapse, because there was no real cease-fire to start with. The main requirement for any cease-fire in the Gaza Strip must be the opening of the border crossings. There can be no life in Gaza without a steady flow of supplies. But the crossings were not opened, except for a few hours now and again. The blockade on land, on sea and in the air against a million and a half human beings is an act of war, as much as any dropping of bombs or launching of rockets. It paralyzes life in the Gaza Strip: eliminating most sources of employment, pushing hundreds of thousands to the brink of starvation, stopping most hospitals from functioning, disrupting the supply of electricity and water.

Those who decided to close the crossings – under whatever pretext – knew that there is no real cease-fire under these conditions.


WHAT WAS THE AIM? Tzipi Livni announced it openly: to liquidate Hamas rule in Gaza. The Qassams served only as a pretext.

Liquidate Hamas rule? That sounds like a chapter out of “The March of Folly”. After all, it is no secret that it was the Israeli government which set up Hamas to start with.


THE OFFICIAL NAME of the war is “Cast Lead”, two words from a children’s song about a Hanukkah toy.

It would be more accurate to call it “the the Election War”.

In the past, too, military action has been taken during election campaigns. Menachem Begin bombed the Iraqi nuclear reactor during the 1981 campaign. When Shimon Peres claimed that this was an election gimmick, Begin cried out at his next rally: “Jews, do you believe that I would send our brave boys to their death or, worse, to be taken prisoner by human animals, in order to win an election?” Begin won.

Peres is no Begin. When, during the 1996 election campaign, he ordered the invasion of Lebanon (operation “Grapes of Wrath”), everybody was convinced that he had done it for electoral gain. The war was a failure and Peres lost the elections and Binyamin Netanyahu came to power.

Barak and Tzipi Livni are now resorting to the same old trick.


THE MAIN LINE was: not to repeat the mistakes of Lebanon War II. This was endlessly repeated on all the news programs and talk shows.

This does not change the fact: the Gaza War is an almost exact replica of the second Lebanon war.

The strategic concept is the same: to terrorize the civilian population by unremitting attacks from the air, sowing death and destruction. This poses no danger to the pilots, since the Palestinians have no anti-aircraft weapons at all. The calculation: if the entire life-supporting infrastructure in the Strip is utterly destroyed and total anarchy ensues, the population will rise up and overthrow the Hamas regime. Mahmoud Abbas will then ride back into Gaza on the back of Israeli tanks.

In Lebanon, this calculation did not work out. The bombed population, including the Christians, rallied behind Hizbullah, and Hassan Nasrallah became the hero of the Arab world. Something similar will probably happen this time, too. Generals are experts on using weapons and moving troops, not on mass psychology.

Some time ago I wrote that the Gaza blockade was a scientific experiment designed to find out how much one can starve a population and turn its life into hell before they break. This experiment was conducted with the generous help of Europe and the US. Up to now, it did not succeed. Hamas became stronger and the range of the Qassams became longer. The present war is a continuation of the experiment by other means.

Broken treaties

The long U.S. history of broken treaties with the Native American tribes leaves me to doubt that the Obama administration will abide by the terms of the recently agreed to SOFA with Iraq. At Counterpunch, Ron Jacobs reports:

Only a few hours after the United Nations mandate for Iraq expired and the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) went into effect, US forces opened fire on a female staffer for Iraq’s Biladi TV, critically wounding her. The reason for the attack was unclear. This incident could be the first test of the SOFA. After all, US forces are not supposed to do anything in Iraq without coordinating with the Iraqi government and aren’t supposed to have anything to do with civilians outside of an Iraqi court issued warrant. The possibility exists that this may be treated as a criminal assault and the US forces involved will be tried in an Iraqi court. The greater likelihood, however, is that nothing will happen and that US forces will continue to operate like the occupying forces they are. Kind of like the way the Israeli military operates in Gaza.

They have no sense of what constitutes a real threat anymore

Digby comments on the recent Oakland Police killing of the unarmed 22-year old supermarket worker Oscar Grant as he lay face down on a rapid transit station platform with hands behind his head. It was suggested that perhaps the killer had intended simply fire his Taser stun gun instead of his pistol.

The police use their stun guns on people who are already on the ground and offering no threat all the time. It's no wonder that one of them would get confused and just start shooting people in the same position. They have no sense of what constitutes a real threat anymore.

See, the problem isn't the form of gun they use, a stun gun or one with bullets. It's that they use any gun on people who are already down. They do not have a right to inflict pain or kill people who are already in custody, for any reason.

Digby might be putting the most charitable construction on what was done here: "They have no sense of what constitutes a real threat anymore." It could also be about abuse of power, sadism, punishment, racism.

This happens in America. And as economic times get tougher, as more people slip out of the middle class comfort zone into poverty, expect similar incidents to happen more frequently.

An obscenity of the present moment

At his Tomdispatch web site, Tom Engelhardt has penned as accurate and fitting a summary of the legacy of the Bush/Cheney administration as we are likely to see.

[I]t is an obscenity of the present moment that Iraq, still a charnel house, still in a state of near total disrepair, still on the edge of a whole host of potential conflicts, should increasingly be portrayed here as a limited Bush administration "surge" success. Only a country -- or a punditry or a military -- incapable of facing the depths of destruction that the Bush administration let loose could reach such a conclusion.

If all roads once led to Rome, all acts of the Bush administration have led to destruction, and remarkably regularly to piles of dead or tortured bodies, counted or not. In fact, it's reasonable to say that every Bush administration foreign policy dream, including its first term fantasy about a pacified "Greater Middle East" and its late second term vision of a facilitated "peace process" between the Israelis and Palestinians, has ended in piles of bodies and in failure. Consider this a count all its own.


Eight years of bodies, dead, broken, mutilated, abused; eight years of ruined lives down countless drains; eight years of massive destruction to places from Baghdad to New Orleans where nothing of significance was ever rebuilt: all this was brought to us by a President, now leaving office without apology, who said the following in his first inaugural address: "I will live and lead by these principles: to advance my convictions with civility ... to call for responsibility and try to live it as well."

He lived, however, by quite a different code. Destruction without responsibility, that's Bush's legacy, but who's counting now that the destruction mounts and the bodies begin to pile up here in the "homeland," in our own body count nation? The laid off, the pension-less, the homeless, the suicides -- imagine what that trillion dollars might have meant to them.

It's clear enough in these last days of the Bush administration that its model was Iraq, dismantled and devastated. The world, had he succeeded, might have become George W. Bush's Iraq.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Without water, how will we manage? reports on the effects of the U.S. approved Israeli state-sponsored terrorism. This kind of reporting does not find its way into the pages or onto the airwaves of the U.S. main stream media.

Three hours after the Israel Defense Forces began their ground operation in the Gaza Strip, at about 10:30 P.M. Saturday night, a shell or missile hit the house owned by Hussein al A'aiedy and his brothers. Twenty-one people live in the isolated house, located in an agricultural area east of Gaza City's Zeitoun neighborhood. Five of them were wounded in the strike: Two women in their eighties (his mother and aunt), his 14-year-old son, his 13-year-old niece and his 10-year-old nephew.

Twenty hours later, the wounded were still bleeding in a shed in the courtyard of the house. There was no electricity, no heat, no water. Their relatives were with them, but every time they tried to leave the courtyard to fetch water, the army shot at them.

Al A'aiedy tried to summon help on his cell phone, but Gaza's cell phone network is collapsing. Shells have hit transponders, there is no electricity and no diesel fuel to run the generators. Every time the telephone works, it is a minor miracle.


While I was on the phone with PHR, at about noon, H. called. He just wanted to report: Two children, Ahmed Sabih and Mohammed al-Mashharawi, aged 10 and 11, had gone up on the roof of their Gaza City house to heat water over a fire. There is no electricity or gas, so fire is all that remains.

Tanks are spitting shells, helicopters are raining fire, warplanes are causing earthquakes. But it is still hard for people to grasp that heating water has become no less dangerous than joining Hamas' military wing.

[T]here was no point in trying H.'s land line: A bomb destroyed his neighborhood's entire phone system on Saturday. The target was a print shop (yet another of the IDF's "military" targets). Its owner, a retired UNRWA employee, had invested his entire pension in the shop.

In B.'s neighborhood, the bombs hit the water mains, so she has had no water since yesterday morning. "I'm already used to coping without electricity," she said. "There's no television, but I hear what happens from friends who call. One friend called from Lebanon, another from Haifa. And Ramallah. But without water, how will we manage?"

A. offered his own take on the situation: "I keep the children away from the windows because the F-16s are in the air; I forbid them to play below because it's dangerous. They're bombing us from the sea and from the east, they're bombing us from the air. When the telephone works, people tell us about relatives or friends who were killed. My wife cries all the time. At night she hugs the children and cries. It's cold and the windows are open; there's fire and smoke in open areas; at home there's no water, no electricity, no heating gas. And you [the Israelis] say there's no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Tell me, are you normal?"

IDF wreak more desctruction on IDF than Hamas rockets

This article also suggests that IDF are self-inflicting far more carnage on themselves than the Hamas rockets.

While all that rocket destruction has been raining down, the IDF has managed to accomplish the following:

Kill three Israeli soldiers while wounding 20

Three Israeli soldiers from the Golani infantry brigade were killed and about 20 others wounded, three seriously, one critically, after an errant IDF tank shell hit a building in which they were operating.

Injure IDF soldiers by machine gun fire and while detonating an explosive

Over the past two days there have been at least two cases in which soldiers have been injured in 'friendly fire,' one by machine gun fire and one during the detonation of an explosive device.

Kill about 100 Palestinians, many of them civilians

Of course, the IDF is killing Palestinians in far greater numbers.

Kill two entire Palestinian families along with a pregnant Palestinian woman and her four children

Over the past 24 hours, two Palestinian families were killed. In the Shati refugee camp the parents and five children of the Abu Aisha family were killed. In the Zeitun neighborhood, the seven members of the Salmuni family were killed. In another incident, a pregnant Palestinian woman and her four children were killed.

Productively deploy their military air craft

The infantry forces advanced yesterday under cover of heavy artillery and helicopter fire.

The Israel Air Force continued Monday to bomb tunnels on the border at Rafah, to prevent their renewed use by Hamas as supply tunnels along the Philadelphi Route.

And when all else fails to get Palestinians to come out and fight and be slaughtered, the IDF has developed tactics to convince Palestinian children to show resistance. We are left to let our imaginations wander as to what "response-stimulating operations" entail.

IDF troops are going out on ambushes and attacks known as 'response-stimulating' operations.

Hamas rocket damage presents a fair and balanced report on the damage caused by Hamas rockets and various successes of the IDF

Hamas mortar shells explode near troops

The major firefight started at around 6:30 P.M. Monday in the Sajaiyeh neighborhood in east Gaza City. According to preliminary information gathered by the IDF, Hamas attacked with mortar shells that exploded near the troops.

Two Israelis wounded, one moderately

Hamas responded with additional mortar fire. In one of the strikes, near the border, two Israelis were wounded, one of them moderately.

IDF advances so are so effective that almost no launches are reported seen from from areas IDF now controls.

Sources in the IDF said the advance of the forces into the Strip forced the rocket-launching teams to retreat somewhat, with Sajaiyeh identified as main launch location. Practically no launches were seen from areas in which the IDF had taken control.

Hamas rockets strikes cause a number of people be treated for shock, and almost destroy a kindergarten.

Still, over 40 Qassam and Grad rockets were fired Monday from Gaza at southern Israel striking Ashkelon, Ashdod, Sderot, Kiryat Malakhi, near Ofakim, Netivot and Be'er Sheva. Hamas also fired rockets at the area between Ashdod and Gedera. A number of people in Sderot were treated for shock, and in Ashdod a rocket nearly destroyed a kindergarten. Inside Gaza, eight soldiers were slightly injured in other incidents in the Strip yesterday.

The rockets have not caused much physical damage, either to property or to Israelis. They certainly have a deep psychological impact. Note too, that even when the IDF "takes control" of an area, it is not complete control, because some rockets are still seen being fired from areas in the control of the IDF.