Saturday, July 31, 2010

Myth-Debunking Obscures Israel’s Role In 9/11

By Maidhc Ó Cathail
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 23, 2010, 00:23, officially known as the Urban Legends Reference Pages, has since its humble inception in 1995 come to be regarded as one of the most trusted debunkers of conspiracy theories on the internet. Described by one of its many fans -- it apparently has over 6 million visitors per month -- as “the granddaddy of all fact-checking sites,” Snopes is downright cavalier, however, in its attitude to facts surrounding Israel’s role in the 9/11 attacks.

In its large section on urban legends relating to 9/11, Snopes purports to debunk a claim that “four thousand Israelis employed by companies housed in the World Trade Center stayed home from work on September 11, warned in advance of the impending attack on the World Trade Center.” A click on the link under “Israelis” brings the curious reader to an entry titled “Absent without Leave,” in which the “four thousand Israelis” have suddenly and inexplicably been replaced by “four thousand Jews.”

In “Absent without Leave,” Snopes reproduces a September 17, 2001, report by Lebanon’s al-Manar satellite television station, which claimed that the Israelis (not “Jews”) “remained absent that day based on hints from the Israeli General Security apparatus, the Shabak.” The Al-Manar piece cited also refers to the five Israelis arrested hours after the attacks, after having been witnessed filming and celebrating as the Twin Towers collapsed.

Below the al-Manar article, Snopes has appended a shoddily written, anonymous, unsourced Internet piece, in which the 4,000 Israelis have again been mysteriously transformed into 4,000 Jews. In contrast to the al-Manar report, this diatribe includes such absurd and provocative anti-Semitic statements as “the Jews knew and were prewarned” about 9/11.

Snopes makes no distinction between the two pieces, however, lumping them together as examples of what it calls the “plenty of anti-Semitic, anti-Zionist, and anti-Israeli groups eager to use the horrors of September 11 as fodder for propaganda to serve their own political ends.” Considering its tendentious conflation of legitimate criticism of Israel -- and the exclusivist ideology on which it is based -- with an irrational hatred of Jews, one doubts whether Snopes would level the same accusation against Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon.

Asked on the night of September 11 what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Netanyahu replied, “It’s very good.” Then he quickly edited himself: “Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” Later that night in an appearance on Israeli TV, the then Israeli prime minister, Sharon, indicated how Tel Aviv intended to exploit that “sympathy,” when he “repeatedly placed Israel on the same ground as the United States, calling the assault an attack on ‘our common values’ and declaring, ‘I believe together we can defeat these forces of evil.’”

Instead of attempting to debunk the well-documented claims that at least some Israelis were forewarned about the 9/11 attacks, Snopes peremptorily dismisses them, claiming they “scarcely merit the dignity of a rebuttal.” Yet, Haaretz reported that two employees of Odigo, the Israeli-owned instant messaging service, “received messages two hours before the Twin Towers attack on September 11 predicting the attack would happen.” Asked whether Israeli agents had advanced knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, Fox News reporter Carl Cameron quoted U.S. investigators who concluded, “How could they not have known?” And then there were those “dancing Israelis” who later claimed on an Israeli talk show that their “purpose was to document the event.”

Disregarding evidence of Israeli foreknowledge, Snopes asserts that “no miracles, human intervention, foreknowledge, coincidence, or vagaries of fate saved more than a few World Trade Center workers from meeting their deaths that day.”

One of the lucky few (not mentioned by Snopes) was Larry Silverstein, who signed a 99-year lease on the World Trade Center six weeks before 9/11, insuring it for $3.5 billion. Silverstein’s wife’s insistence that he couldn’t cancel an appointment with his dermatologist that morning ensured that he missed his daily breakfast meeting with tenants at the Windows on the World restaurant on the top floors of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. His son and daughter, who worked with him in the Twin Towers, were also fortunate to be “running late” on September 11. Silverstein’s good fortune no doubt delighted his close friends in Israel. Soon after the attacks, the property developer received phone calls from no less than three Israeli prime ministers -- Ehud Barak, Benjamin Netanyahu and Ariel Sharon -- inquiring how he was.

Seemingly puzzled by suspicions that Israelis had advance warning of the World Trade Center attack, Snopes asks rhetorically: “Why would Israel follow such a course of action, betray its staunchest ally, and doom thousands of innocent Americans to death?”

One could also ask why Israeli agents planted firebombs in American installations in Egypt in 1954? Or why Israel murdered 34 U.S. servicemen in a deliberate attack on the USS Liberty on June 8, 1967? Or why Mossad decided not to warn the United States about the October 23, 1983, attack on its Marine barracks in Beirut which killed 241 troops? Or why Mossad’s Operation Trojan led Washington to believe that Libya was responsible for the April 5, 1986, Berlin disco bombing which killed two American soldiers?

To date, Snopes has yet to investigate any of these acts of betrayal by Israel of “its staunchest ally.”

Maidhc Ó Cathail is a widely published writer based in Japan. To read more of his writing, go to Maidhc Ó Cathail: Writing and Analysis.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Obama Changes Middle Name To Convince Jews He Is Not Muslim

By Frank Scott
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 21, 2010, 00:12

After publicly stating that he feared his middle name was causing many Jews to be suspicious of him as being a Muslim, the president has changed it from Hussein to Schmulka.

“I believe that by taking this ancient and honored Jewish name I can once and for all convince my very few lunatic Jewish detractors who logically feared that I might be a Muslim because of my other hate-speech name which I will no longer use and will hereafter be referred to as the “H” name, that I am truly devoted to Jews and Israel, as I have always been since long before this necessary name change.

“Further, to convince some of my good lunatic friends on the right that I am not now nor have I ever been a socialist and have a lifelong dedication to capitalism, my two daughters are having dollar signs tattooed on their arms and I will proudly wear an American flag pin with a large dollar sign over my heart. I hope that in this spirit of bipartisan citizenship I can help bring Americans together in unity that crosses lines of race, creed, bankroll or intelligence and we can move on to make this country once again a beacon of light in a dimming universe with food for thought for the intellectually hungry and for people who need to stand up and be proud of what they once were but still are and when the day is done we can all join hands and say free at last free at least, thank God almighty and whatever . . .”

At this point the president stopped as the assembled Washington press corps spontaneously broke down into hysterical weeping at this emotional display by this most emotionally spellbinding orator in the history of American presidents who engage in spellbinding oratory. There were a few laughs coming from the back of the pressroom, but these were journalists from foreign countries representing the overwhelming majority of the global population, so who cares?

Copyright © 2010 Frank Scott. All rights reserved.

Frank Scott writes political commentary which appears in print in the Coastal Post and The Independent Monitor and online at the blog Legalienate.
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

The Israeli Right’s New 'Peace' Agenda

By Gilad Atzmon
Online Journal Guest Writer
Jul 22, 2010, 00:18

As the Israelis are becoming conscious of their inevitable tragic circumstances, a final desperate attempt to rescue the Zionist project has come to life. Astonishingly enough it is the Israeli right that is now pushing for ‘one binational State.’ It is pretty staggering to find out that while the Israeli so-called ‘left’ is locked within the 1967 territorial paradigm that is fueled by Judeo-centric racial ideology, it is actually the hawkish Zionist thinkers who are willing to move the discourse forward.

In a mind-provoking piece, Noam Sheizaf outlines in Haaretz the new revolutionary Israeli idea. However, I will maintain at this stage that the new Zionist call for ‘one binational state’ suggests that Zionist ideology is on its last leg. Israel has come to realise its inevitable end. And amidst its terminal conditions, Israel tries to buy time.

Israel should apply its law to “Judea and Samaria and grant citizenship to 1.5 million Palestinians,” says Moshe Arens, a former Israeli defense minister, a top leader in the Likud party and a political patron of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Arens is not put off by those who slander him for promoting the idea of a binational Jewish-Palestinian state. “We are already a binational state,” he says.

This approach is now being advocated by leading figures in the Likud and amongst the settlers. A year ago, Uri Elitzur, former chairman of the Yesha Council of Settlements and Netanyahu’s bureau chief in his first term as prime minister, published an article in the settlers’ journal Nekuda calling for the onset of a process, at the conclusion of which the (West Bank) Palestinians will have “a blue ID card (like Israelis), yellow license plates (like Israelis), National Insurance and the right to vote for the Knesset.” Emily Amrousi, a former spokesperson for the Yesha Council, also takes part in meetings between settlers and Palestinians and speaks explicitly of “one land in which the children of settlers and the children of Palestinians will be bused to school together.”

This Zionist political novelty doesn’t take me by complete surprise. Unlike the Jewish left that is tribally orientated both in Israel and in the West, the right wing Zionist philosophy was grounded on a dream of an eternal bond between the Jew and the alleged ‘promised land.’ In Zion the Jew was supposed to transcend oneself beyond the race and the tribe. Israel was there to demolish the ghetto wall. As it happened, in practice, Israel had become the biggest ghetto in Jewish history.

However, there is a clear trap here. As much as the peace loving Zionist hawks seem to champion Palestinian civil rights, the vision of a ‘one binational state’ is still totally Judeo-centric. The Israeli advocates of the one binational state are not talking about a neutral “state of all its citizens,” nor about “Israstine” with a flag showing a crescent and a Shield of David. One state still means a sovereign Jewish state, but in a more complex reality, and inspired by the vision of a “democratic Jewish state” without an occupation and without apartheid, without fences and separations.

One may wonder at this stage what the notion of “Jewish democratic state” stands for. It is obviously an empty signifier, there is no such a thing as Jewish democracy. As far as I remember, democracy was born in Athens rather than Jerusalem. And yet, the dream is compelling. In such a state, “Jews will be able to live in Hebron and pray at the Tomb of the Patriarchs, and a Palestinian from Ramallah will be able to serve as an ambassador and live in Tel Aviv or simply enjoy ice cream on the city’s seashore.”

It is clear beyond doubt that a coin has dropped. Some Israeli hawks have come to realise that the occupation cannot be maintained forever. They were also quick to grasp that, in the long run, the separation wall put an end to the Zionist expansionist program. They also gather that the negative exposure of Jewish lobbies in the West will eventually lead to the downscaling of Israeli political maneuvering.

However, the Zionist tribal orientation is never too difficult to trace. When Elitzur was asked “What do you say to the allegations that you have joined the radical left?” he was quick to reveal his political mantra.
“There’s a clear separation between us. I am talking about a Jewish state, the state of the Jewish people, which will contain a large Arab minority. The left is talking about an Arab state containing a Jewish minority, even if they do not explicitly think that. The leftist demonstrators in (the West Bank village of) Bil’in have totally joined the Palestinian cause.”

I guess that this is what it is all about. The Israeli hawks want to counter the inevitable ‘demographic disaster.’ They would offer West Bank Palestinians Israeli ID cards, and offer them to “enjoy ice cream in Tel Aviv” as long as they are kept as a minority. The Israeli hawks ignore Gaza and the right of return. In practice, they dismiss the Palestinian cause for they are certain that the Jewish one is superior. In short, this is not a solution or a resolution. It is just another Zionist spin that is planted in our discourse in order to disseminate confusion.

Gilad Atzmon is an Israeli jazz musician, author and political activist.

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Blood On Our Hands

By David Swanson
War Is A
Jul 22, 2010, 00:14

The most massive and brutal crime committed on this planet during the past decade has been the invasion and occupation of Iraq. And we’re seeking to wash the blood off our hands without so much as an “Out, damn spot!” Nowadays “looking forward, not backward” is supposed to take care of everything, even as the crimes continue. What that takes care of is the leading perpetrators who begin to sense that the coast is clear and creep out of their holes to declare, as did Karl Rove this week, that their biggest mistake was not more aggressively attacking those who pointed out their crimes.

If there’s anyone who knows where that path leads, it’s probably Benjamin Ferencz, who served as Chief Prosecutor for the Einsatzgruppen Trial at Nuremberg in 1947 and who has just published the forward to a new book by Nicolas Davies, called “Blood on Our Hands: The American Invasion and Destruction of Iraq.” It’s a useful moment in which to be handed this masterful account of what we’ve done, not just because the liars have been ceded the floor, but also because the crime is ongoing and we will require the proper frame of mind as each deadline for withdrawal from Iraq is violated, and because the Washington Press Corpse has begun to notice the utter irresponsibility of the people we pay to tell us what is happening in the world (not to mention to spy on us, overthrow governments, kidnap, imprison, torture, and assassinate), and because we will not end the endless war in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and other places unless there is accountability.

This is also the moment in which the International Criminal Court has done something Ferencz had long worked for, and determined that it will prosecute the crime of aggressive war. Even if the ICC cannot go back now and prosecute the most serious such crime of recent years, it can prosecute numerous US war crimes committed during the past decade, and we can address the invasion and occupation of Iraq through courts and legislatures in such a manner as to make its repetition elsewhere more likely to result in criminal charges.

Ferencz has the highest praise for Davies’ book, as do I. Davies lays it all out: the planning and commission of the criminal war on Iraq from its earliest stages through to the current phase. If the Iraq occupation lasts another 50 years, it’s doubtful a better account of it will be produced than this one. Davies puts the invasion and occupation of Iraq into a framework not only of history but also of law. “Blood on Our Hands” is packed with critical information that never made it into the so-called first draft of history, the U.S. media. This is a thoroughly documented account of the motivations, launching, and the conduct through several stages of the Iraq War, a war that any one of these periods shows to have been, above all else, a massive crime.

One of the few journalists whose reporting on Iraq I trust entirely is Dahr Jamail, who says “‘Blood on Our Hands’ is a must read. For anyone wanting a full review of U.S. involvement in Iraq from the early 20th century to the present, this book is mandatory. From U.S.-backing of a 22-year-old Saddam Hussein, to the more recent role the U.S. government played in orchestrating death squads in Iraq, Davies nails it.”

Think Dahr and I are exaggerating? Here’s 27-year CIA veteran Ray McGovern: “Nicolas Davies’ well-documented yet fast-moving and highly readable book packages the pieces into the best account so far of the Iraq War -- how it happened and why.”

Ray doesn’t tend to overstate things, but just in case you have doubts, listen to Staff Sergeant Camilo Mejia, the author of “Road from Ar Ramadi”: “Davies has dissected the invasion and occupation of Iraq with such precision that even the most knowledgeable reader will be amazed. This book should be read and kept in every Congressional office, in every public library, in every school and in every household. It’s an absolute must-read.”

I could go on with the enthusiastic statements from people who know, but I think I’ve made the point. “Blood on Our Hands” is the best documented, most powerful, most legally actionable account in existence of the worst crime currently being committed in our names, which makes its title fitting indeed. Davies wrote to me about his appreciation for Ferencz’s assistance with the book, writing that Ferencz “completely ignored my lack of formal credentials and took my work on its merits from the moment he read my first article about Iraq. When I think about Ben, I only hope that he can feel some peace and satisfaction for all that he has accomplished in a lifetime of total commitment to peace and justice. He still seems more concerned with fighting this fight to his very last breath, and my reason for dedicating the book to him was partly to try and let him know that there are new generations taking up the torch he carried so heroically.”

Brothers and sisters, take up that torch.

David Swanson is the author of “Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union.”
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

True Democracy Or Pseudo Democracy?

By Samar Esapzai
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 19, 2010, 00:22

It has come to my realization that democracy in its true and honest form does not exist. And whatever “democracy” that we have now is not really all that it was cracked up to be; in fact, it never was.

There is no denying that countries such as the United States, France, Denmark, Switzerland, Britain, and not to mention my own home country, Canada, have created and established great economies that generate fabulously enormous amounts of wealth. Indeed these countries have accomplished a lot; and that too in such a short time span, from creating tall buildings to skyscrapers to an avalanche of the world’s most powerful technologies, which allow us to communicate instantly anywhere in the world. Through technological creativity and accumulation, these nations have leaped above and beyond their biological and intellectual roots in a multitude of ways.

However, despite all this wealth and technology, only a handful hoards most of this wealth, while millions and billions of people around the world remain impoverished, suffering from hunger, disease, and malnutrition. Millions die of starvation and diseases (that can be cured) every year.

But this is not to imply that the rich, supposedly democratic, nations are free of problems. Rather, it is quite the contrary. They, too, have failed in many ways and have a myriad of problems. Despite their technology and wealth, they still remain firmly rooted in primitive behaviours and unjust relationships with each other.

It seems like their mass of ever powerful technology is a double-edged sword. They have used it to create every comfort and amusement, and yet, at the same time, they have used it to bring every kind of destruction and terror upon themselves and the world.

And so one wonders: where does true democracy fit in all of this?

But, before I go any further, one first needs to understand what democracy means. Wikipedia defines democracy as follows:

“Democracy is a political government either carried out directly by the people (direct democracy) or by means of elected representatives of the people (representative democracy).”

There is no doubt that combining direct democracy and representative democracy together, in a fruitful way, achieves a sound distribution of power, thus resulting in a government that overcomes the shortcomings of both.

It is a fact that the distribution of power is the most fundamental aspect of all political issues. A good government and a good society need the correct distribution of power as their foundation. Excessive power cannot be held by an elite few, or else this is not democracy anymore. Rather, it is plutocracy, which is defined as governance by the wealthy.

Most of these pseudo-democracies are therefore plutocracies, where most of their political, economic, and social efforts are overwhelmingly dominated by the few wealthy elite. And here I can safely say that there is no such thing as a true democracy; it is only an ideology created to patronize the middle and lower class into believing that they have freedom of choice, when in reality they are conned under false pretenses. Almost all of these so-called democratic nations’ governments are created by, are populated by, and first and best serves, wealthy elites that have held perpetual hegemony of power and wealth throughout generations; much to the disadvantage of the rest of the populace. And because such governments are designed to serve only in the favours of the wealthy elites, I think it is extremely undemocratic.

Further proof of this pseudo-democracy is evident during elections, which are left to the mass media, political parties, and the marketplace, because they are all mostly owned and operated by the wealthy. These elections, offices, and the favours of government are bought just like fruit in a market. As a result, the common mass are extremely undermined and left powerless.

Let’s take America for example, one of the world’s most popular democracies. Yet, this is a country where millions have never had healthcare. Why? Simply because it is ridiculously expensive! Most people have to sell their homes, which in worst cases, renders them homeless, in order to afford a simple surgery! And what does the government do? They swindle these people out of their private pensions, investments, and life savings; while the wealthy routinely dump taxes onto the middle class.

However, it does not end there. In the last three decades, trillions of dollars have been taken, or perhaps stolen would be a better word, from the middle class by the wealthiest Americans! Indeed, America has divided into a small super wealthy class, while the vast majority has found itself in an economic decline. And everywhere such government-favoured, super-sized multi-national corporations hold supreme sovereignty. These corporate elites and political parties further tag team in order to control and go against public interests, without the populace even realizing it!

So, exactly what is the point of having a government if it does not secure your life, freedom, and pursuit of happiness? Roger D. Rothenberger said it perfectly in his book Beyond Plutocracy, in which he stated that pseudo-democratic nations threaten the freedom of individuals by everything that is “big.” Big nation. Big population. Big government. Big businesses/corporations. And even big religion. Most of these pseudo-democracies are secular, but religion still plays a massive role, especially in politics.

And then there are those nations that claim to be democratic, but show extreme religious intolerance. Consider the recent French ban on the Muslim women’s face-veil, also known as the “niqab.” France has an estimated 5 million Muslims, which is considered to be the largest population in Western Europe. And although France claims that it is a democracy that allows freedom of choice, they are hypocrites for banning the niqab, which may or may not be a freedom of choice. No one will ever know, unless the French government visits each and every one of those 5 million Muslim households to find out for themselves, which of course sounds beyond absurd. I, personally, am against such articles of clothing, but that does not give me the right to forbid other women from wearing them. Some women choose to wear it due to strong religious beliefs (despite the fact that their “choice” to wear it has been influenced). And I am quite sure that most have been forced to wear it, usually by their fathers, brothers, or husbands. However, simply banning something is no different than enforcing women to wear the headscarf/niqab, because in both these cases, threat and force is involved. And this is not only an infringement of rights, but it is highly undemocratic.

I am convinced that all current “democracies,” big and small, are, in fact, authoritarian plutocracies in disguise. They all practice some good and much evil, each in its own way, as it only tends to their own selfish interests. The sad thing is that most people don’t recognize this horrid reality.

Perhaps it is better they didn’t, for the truth may end up doing more harm than good.

As quoted by E.B. White: “Democracy is itself, a religious faith. For some it comes close to being the only formal religion they have.”

Samar Esapzai is a Pashtun-Canadian who is very passionate about international development and humanitarian issues around the world Her blog is SesapZai – Artist. Poet. Writer.
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Senator Worries About Democracy Itself

By Russ Baker
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
of WhoWhatWhy
Jul 20, 2010, 00:17

Amid the constant fracas of daily political life, it is often hard to see the big picture of power in America (and, for that matter, the world.) In researching my book, Family of Secrets, I came to a fresh appreciation of this big picture, assembling a vast amount of new evidence of the extent to which the visible democratic process has historically been covertly shaped by powerful interests, and how this shaping has gone largely unnoticed and unremarked-upon, right to the present.

My work has been praised by some and attacked by others, but since its publication, new evidence keeps emerging, in bits and pieces, that the public, its elected representatives (and often even presidents too) are being constantly manipulated to support outcomes favorable to wealthy elites.

The latest comes in the New York Times. In an article headlined “Records Show Doubts on ’64 Vietnam Crisis,” Elisabeth Bumiller reports on newly released documents that confirm this. 

In an echo of the debates over the discredited intelligence that helped make the case for the war in Iraq, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Wednesday released more than 1,100 pages of previously classified Vietnam-era transcripts that show senators of the time sharply questioning whether they had been deceived by the White House and the Pentagon over the 1964 Gulf of Tonkin incident.

 . . .”If this country has been misled, if this committee, this Congress, has been misled by pretext into a war in which thousands of young men have died, and many more thousands have been crippled for life, and out of which their country has lost prestige, moral position in the world, the consequences are very great,” Senator Albert Gore Sr. of Tennessee, the father of the future vice president, said in March 1968 in a closed session of the Foreign Relations Committee.

 . . . President Lyndon B. Johnson cited the [Tonkin Gulf] attacks to persuade Congress to authorize broad military action in Vietnam, but historians in recent years have concluded that the Aug. 4 attack never happened. . . .

[T]he transcripts show the outrage the senators were expressing behind closed doors. “In a democracy you cannot expect the people, whose sons are being killed and who will be killed, to exercise their judgment if the truth is concealed from them,” Senator Frank Church, Democrat of Idaho, said in an executive session in February 1968.

 . . . At another point, the committee’s chairman, Senator William Fulbright, Democrat of Arkansas, raised concerns that if the senators did not take a stand on the war, “We are just a useless appendix on the governmental structure.”

. . . . In the end, however, the senators did not further pursue their doubts. As Mr. Church said in one session that was focused on the staff report into the episode, if the committee came up with proof that an attack never occurred, “we have a case that will discredit the military in the United States, and discredit and quite possibly destroy the president.”

He added that unless the committee had the evidence to substantiate the charges, “The big forces in this country that have most of the influence and run most of the newspapers and are oriented toward the presidency will lose no opportunity to thoroughly discredit this committee.” [Italics added for emphasis]

Now, having read this, consider what happens when one tries to show how this is an ongoing problem - that those “big forces” Senator Church warned against have been doing much more than creating a false justification for a huge escalation in Vietnam. When I showed the pervasive role of these interests in shaping the American presidency, over decades, people began coming after me. A Los Angeles Times reporter angrily accused me of “paranoia,” and an outside reviewer selected by the Washington Post tried to minimize my work by suggesting that I was “overreaching.” Overreaching? I’d like to know what Albert Gore Sr., William Fulbright and Frank Church would say if they were alive today, about the long-term evidence of constant falsification of events-including, of course the case for invading Iraq, but also the scores of other false stories I lay out for the first time in the book.

Also, consider what the New York Times does not say in this article, and cannot quite bring itself to talk about: That when the military and the president mislead the people, they don’t do it always just on their own. They, too, have other masters to serve. What goes unsaid is about the basic nature of power in America-and ultimately, it leads not to government, with all its strengths and weaknesses, but to the “private sector,” where those “big forces” Frank Church cited can be found. That’s where we need to be looking, but so rarely do.

Copyright © 2010 WhoWhatWhy. Reprinted with permission.

Russ Baker is an award-winning investigative reporter with a track record for making sense of complex and little understood matters-and explaining it to elites and ordinary people alike, using entertaining, accessible writing to inform and involve. He has written for The New Yorker, Vanity Fair, The Nation, The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Village Voice and Esquire and dozens of other major domestic and foreign publications. He has also served as a contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. Baker received a 2005 Deadline Club award for his exclusive reporting on George W. Bush’s military record. He is the author of Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, the Powerful Forces That Put It in the White House, and What Their Influence Means for America (Bloomsbury Press, 2009); it was released in paperback as Family of Secrets: The Bush Dynasty, America’s Invisible Government and the Secret History of the Last Fifty Years. For more information on Russ’s work, see his sites, and

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Friday, July 30, 2010

The Burqa/Niqab Ban Controversy

By Kiran Mehdee
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 20, 2010, 00:19

I’d like to share my personal view on the burqa (face mask) controversy. My views are not based on the black-and-white, binary, false dichotomy presented too often by both supporters of the face mask ban and those who wish to defend the garb.

Put simply: I support *regulation* of the Burqa/Niqab (the FACE covering part), not a “ban” on it.
Why? The key here is to understand the difference between regulating and banning something. Can we walk around naked in society? Besides in nudist beaches, at private gatherings, and a few special events in a few places, like some pride parades, is there legal and social regulation in place to stop people from walking around buck naked? Is that an encroachment of people’s right to be buck naked? Why is that regulation okay? If a cult started walking around buck naked and saying it was their religious duty, would we have to argue on their behalf too?

People who defend the right to wear a face mask sometimes say that it is wrong to assume that anyone is ever speaking from an “objective” stance, and they are quite right. Yes, we are all socially programmed by many things in the worlds we live in; we all follow some normalization codes or other, whether we are aware of our own programmed behaviours or not; what we consider “normal” is a combination of what the societies we grew up in tell us is normal, and our own views on what we find natural for each of us. The question is not whether we are all programmed with different ways of thinking about things, but which of those ways of thinking is worthy of widespread support; which of those memes is something that supports the human rights and well-being of the maximum number of people.

Yes, freedom of expression needs to be preserved, however, it is not to be given completely free reign, otherwise we could all walk around naked anywhere in the public sphere. The fact that we can’t, the fact that strangers hanging about on the grounds of schools are looked upon with suspicion, the fact that we are not supposed to swear or smoke around kids, the fact that restaurants deny service to those not wearing shirts or shoes, the fact that your driver’s license and passport photos have to show your face, the fact that banks and airports have cameras to catch the faces of would-be criminals and of witnesses; these and many more social and legal regulations are in place to try to create a somewhat level playing field, at least in public spaces, where one’s identity is always at stake, should one try to break the law or cause trouble. Why should niqabis (and those who would don the niqab to commit crimes, or hurt people in public spaces) be exempt from these and other regulations? Because “God” told them to? The burqa / face mask is not even Islamic! Where does the Quran say a woman’s face must be kept hidden? It’s actually a sin, bida’h, if you consider the Islamic rule to not say that God said something he didn’t (according to Islam’s own rules!).

As far as women’s choices, sure some women want to wear the burqa, but can we deduce – given the nature of violent patriarchy – how many more are forced or compelled into wearing it? Of course there are no hard and fast statistics, like there usually aren’t when there is socio-culturally accepted oppression going on. What about those women’s rights? Is it “white guilt”, or Cultural Relativism as it’s known in Anthropological circles, that makes some otherwise lucid feminists lose sight of the fact that there are severe human rights abuses happening within Muslim cultures too, just like within all human social groups? Why do some feminists and liberals refuse to accept that there exist widely differing views within Muslims, and that certain segments of Muslims (like segments of virtually any other peoples on Earth) really do oppress women, gays, apostates, dissidents, religious and ethnic minorities, etc.; and that being liberal, progressive or left wing in the West does not have to mean one has to align one’s self with right-wing, conservative, traditionalist, anti-liberals among Muslims, just to prove a point to the right-wingers of the west?

Proving a point should not be more important than defending the human rights of individuals, no matter what culture they happen to be from. If liberal feminists ignore them, who among progressives will speak up about those women oppressed by patriarchy in “other” cultures, while we are busy defending the patriarchal structures that exist inside those countries and cultures? Why has it been left up to right-wing think tanks to challenge the most right-wing branches of Islam? Why is it fine and dandy if a Muslim woman is oppressed by Muslims, but not okay if she is told she has to show her face to confirm her identity, to communicate etc.?

Women do bad things and wrong things too. I’m the type of feminist who believes in COMPLETE equality of both potential good and potential harm by both men and women. Women perpetuate male and female genital mutilation, as much or more than men. Women put their daughters into beauty contests, women treat their sons and daughters unequally too. Women participate in anti-choice rallies, women are as liable as men to be homophobes, including many members of the Westboro Church and the governer of Hawaii, and Sarah Palin and perhaps millions of other women who remain silently homophobic, and vote in homophobic laws with the right to vote their grandmothers fought tooth and nail for them to have. Women betray women’s rights, just look up Phyllis Schlafly. Just because a woman is doing something or saying something, does not automatically make it correct, right, good, humane or the best, most reasonable idea to listen to. Women can be very wrong about things too. Ann Coulter, anyone? Michelle Malkin? Especially when the women have internalized patriarchal values – when they believe in the deepest recesses of their socialized brains that they have no existence or value in the world unless men are owning them or using them or heckling them or treating them like their personal stash of pearls.

I definitely think ALL gender role socializations are bullshit and can and should be challenged and confronted and mocked and changed as needed. That includes the gender role that says that women are pearls and candy and rosebuds and princesses; fragile, helpless damsels to be saved and whisked away by a Prince Charming or Prince Alladin. And that includes the gender role that says that men have to be stoic and macho, and never show any emotion that isn’t anger or jealousy. That also includes the gender role that people are, by default, exclusively heterosexual, and any variation is thus a deviation.

But the Burqa/Niqab does not liberate anyone from anything. It only deflects the issues of gender role socializations, patriarchy and women’s self-worth. What are the similarities between a burqa-clad woman walking down the street like a Dementor from Harry Potter movies, and an anorexic, breast-implanted, Botox-filled woman walking down the street in a halter top and short shorts? They have both accepted and internalized the notion that they exist to satisfy men. The niqabi woman (who is doing it out of “choice”) wants to be owned by particular men, her father, husband, brother – she wants to be private property. The halter-top woman wants to be desired, admired, and have her existence affirmed by the maximum number of men – she wants to be public property. But both only see themselves and all other women as men’s property. How is it liberating to be on one extreme or the other?

I wonder what it would be like for more women to learn their own self-worth and not define or dress themselves purely for the benefit of men. What irks me about those feminists and otherwise liberal westerners who would disregard the ethical implications of too much cultural relativism, and who look the other way at any mention of Muslim-on-Muslim oppression, besides the fact that they are subscribing to the “noble savage” cliche of the exoticized “other”, is that they are also still playing by the same rules that patriarchy has outlined for millenia: “Women, you were created for men. Your only choices are: either be a virgin or a whore, your womb is the only thing that matters. The rest of you, your brain, your heart, your talents, your ambitions, your words, your voice, don’t matter, unless some man somewhere finds you worthy of being his property.”

There’s a middle ground in this oh-so-controversial debate, that’s a lot more reasonable and not based on demagoguery, but based on an honest examination of the deepest assumptions of people on both sides. This is all why I support regulation and not a ban, on the face masks in public spaces. At home, at private get-togethers, at designated events, I couldn’t give a damn how many tents a woman, or a man, wears or doesn’t wear. I don’t care if it’s religious belief causing a person to want to mask their identity in a public space, or simply a political fuck-you to the people he or she resents due to an ingrained sense of supremacism to the rest of society. If you’re going to be in a public space, you have to abide by certain regulations – you can’t go around flashing your genitals at strangers, and you can’t hide your basic identification from everyone around you either. Religious piety is no excuse to bypass the social regulations in a secular society.

I don’t support a ban because (a) bans polarize debates and create strong resistance movements that often make the debate more heated and dialogue and compromise less possible, (b) bans can’t be easily enforced without a society turning into a police state, (c) the women who are being forced to wear a face mask may genuinely be cut-off from the rest of society if their male owners just outright lock them up rather than let them go outside showing their faces. For these reasons I cannot and will not support a full out ban, though if it’s regulation in public spaces we’re talking about, and it’s presented with an eye towards, and education about, the gender role socializations that we all are subject to, no matter what we wear or don’t wear, then I could support such regulation.

Ultimately, what’s needed is a hearty discussion of what women’s and men’s roles are, have been and could be, within both Muslim and non-Muslim cultures.

Also, if our governments could just y’know stop fuckin’ with the lives of people in other countries, while telling them it’s for their own benefit, maybe there’d be less of a backlash against the freedoms and education many of us value. Something to think about.

This was written as part of a response to Martha Nussbaum’s opinion piece in The New York Times.

Kiran Mehdee is an artist; a writer of poetry, short stories, essays and articles; an actor and comedian, and a spoken word performer, who was born in Pakistan, grew up there and in the U.S., and is now based in Toronto. Her blog is at

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Big Aid Has A Very Dirty Secret


By Thomas C. Mountain
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 20, 2010, 00:21

ASMARA, Eritrea -- Former national security advisor in the Clinton White House and failed nominee to head the CIA, Anthony “Tony” Lake is now executive director of the United Nations Children Fund, UNICEF.

Having a background in Western intelligence is a requirement to run a Big Aid “familia.” Every head of any of the major international aid agencies comes vetted by years of loyal service up to and including being a “made man” (or woman in today’s equal opportunity offender circles) like Tony Lake.

What are Tony Lake’s qualifications to run the number one children’s relief works in the world? Maybe his silence during the Rwandan genocide, when as national security advisor to President Clinton he admitted knowing about and “regretted” not doing something when hundreds of thousands of women and children were hacked to death in central Africa. Then there were the million and a half women and children in Eritrea who had to flee for their lives in the face of the Ethiopian invasion in 2000, something Tony Lake was intimately involved in helping instigate and direct.

Tony Lake was nominated to be the director of the CIA as a parting gift for his loyal role as consigliere in the Clinton White House, a gift taken from him when reports of corruption derailed his nomination.

War crimes, crimes against humanity and, least of all, just plain corruption, Tony Lake has done it all, even admitting to going on the payroll after leaving the White House as an agent for the Ethiopian government, they of ethnic cleansing and genocide infamy.

Tony Lake was an officer of the Obama for President campaign and resumed his role as consigliere pre-election to the president to be. He was listed as senior foreign policy advisor to Obama and was one of the last of the inner circle to be rewarded for his foresight.

From CIA to UNICEF? The charge that every person who has headed a major Western aid agency has an intelligence background has been proven time and time again. It may have taken some serious digging, some dogged investigation, but the fact remains that everyone of those supposed humanitarians that has been investigated has turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing.

BIg Aid was created as a nefarious tool for dirty doings in the Third World by the powers that be in the West and only trusted capos from the inner circle are allowed to plan and implement their crimes. Of course, some good works have to be done or no one would allow them into their countries. It’s only from the inside that they can be really effective in buying off or if that doesn’t work, “neutralizing” those in power.

Whether it’s the World Health Organization suppressing news of the breakthrough in malaria mortality prevention, to the World Food Program trying to destroy food security/self-sufficiency, to Tony Lake taking over UNICEF, the word to the wise is beware enemies bearing gifts. Big Aid has a very dirty secret and the whole world needs to know about it.

Stay tuned to the Online Journal for more news that the so-called free press in the West refused to cover.
Thomas C. Mountain was, in a former life, an educator, activist and alternative medicine practitioner in the USA. Email thomascmountain at

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

The New GeoPolitical Importance Of Lubmin

By F. William Engdahl
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 12, 2010, 00:21

In the postwar history of the Federal Republic, German chancellors tend to disappear once they pursue political goals that deviate from the Washington global agenda too much.

In the case of Gerhard Schroeder, it involved two unforgiveable “sins.” The first was his open opposition to the 2003 US invasion of Iraq. The second, far more serious strategically, was his negotiations with Russia’s Putin to bring a major new natural gas pipeline directly from Russia, bypassing then-hostile Poland, to Germany. Today the first section of that Nord Stream gas pipeline has reached the Mecklenburg-Vorpommern coastal town of Lubmin on the Baltic Sea, making Lubmin into a geopolitical pivot for Europe and Russia.

Gerhard Schroeder, in effect, owed his job to the quiet but influential backing of US President Bill Clinton who, according to our German SPD sources, demanded that a Schroeder Red-Green coalition, if elected, support a US-NATO war against Serbia in 1999. Washington wanted to end the era of Helmut Kohl. By 2005, however, Schroeder was far too “German” for Washington, and, reportedly, the Bush administration turned its considerable attention to backing a successor.

His last act as chancellor was to approve a giant gas pipeline from Russia’s port of Vyborg near the Finnish border to Lubmin, called Nord Stream. On leaving office, Schroeder became chairman of Nord Stream AG, a joint venture between Russia’s state-owned Gazprom and German companies E.ON-Ruhrgas and BASF-Wintershall. He also increased his public critique of US foreign policies, accusing US-client state Georgia of initiating the 2008 war against South Ossetia.

In 2006, Poland’s neo-conservative foreign minister, Radoslaw Sikorski, a close Washington ally, compared the Nord Stream consortium to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet Pact. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, Washington policy has been to cultivate Poland as a wedge to block closer Russian-German economic and political cooperation, including the decision to station US missile defense and now Patriot missiles in Poland, aimed at Russia.

This month, despite ferocious political opposition from Poland and other countries, Schroeder’s Nord Stream project completed its first major goal when the first of two pipeline strings reached land at Lubmin, exactly on schedule. When the second string is landed later this month and the pipeline begins operation in late 2011, it will be the world’s biggest subsea gas pipeline, carrying 55 billion cubic metres of gas throughout Europe each year. The subsea route goes through the territorial waters and exclusive economic zones of Finland, Sweden, Denmark and Germany, avoiding Poland and the Baltic States of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

From Lubmin, which will be a transfer station, the OPAL pipeline will go 470 kilometers through Saxony to the Czech border. Other western pipeline routes will deliver Russian gas via existing pipe to Holland, France and to the UK, significantly increasing the energy links between the EU and Russia, a development not greeted in Washington. France’s GDF Suez, formerly Gaz de France, just bought a 9 percent share in Nord Stream AG and Holland’s gas infrastructure company N.V. Nederlandse Gasunie has 9 percent, giving the project broad EU participation, a major geopolitical accomplishment for the Putin-Medvedev government in face of strong US opposition. Nord Stream now has long-term gas supply agreements to supply gas to Denmark, the UK, France, Netherlands and Belgium as well as Germany.

North and South energy streams

Gazprom is also advancing a second major gas pipeline project, South Stream, to bring gas from Russia’s south coast under the Black Sea to Bulgaria, eventually ending up in Italy. On July 7, the Bulgarian government agreed after long negotiations to participate in the South Stream Gazprom project.

South Stream gas pipeline will transport Russian gas to Western Europe, bypassing Ukraine, where Washington in recent years has expended considerable effort to push the country into an anti-Russian, pro-NATO position. As a remnant from the Soviet era when the economies of the two countries operated as an integrated entity, most Russian gas pipelines transited Ukraine to the west, leaving Moscow highly vulnerable when a US-backed “Orange Revolution” in January 2005 brought Washington’s candidate, Viktor Yushchenko, to power on a pro-NATO, anti-Moscow platform. Recent elections there have eased tensions between Moscow and Kiev considerably as the new president, Viktor Yanukovych, has moved Ukraine to a more neutral stance between Moscow and NATO, keeping ties to both. The offshore part of the South Stream gas pipeline, jointly operated by Russia’s Gazprom and Italy’s ENI, will run from Russia’s mainland under the Black Sea to the Bulgarian coast. Under the new agreement with Bulgaria, pre-existing gas pipelines through Bulgaria will be used for the transit.

Washington has put major pressure on EU countries as well as Turkey to build an alternative to Russia’s South Stream gas line, called Nabucco, that would eliminate Russia. To date Nabucco has little backing in the EU and insufficient sources of gas to fill the pipeline.

Completion of South Stream would weld a major geopolitical bond between the countries of the EU, Central Europe and Russia, something that would represent for Washington a geopolitical nightmare. US policy since World War II has been to dominate Western Europe first by fanning the Cold War with the Soviet Union, and after 1990, by extending NATO eastwards to the borders of Russia. An increasingly independent Western Europe turning east rather than across the Atlantic, could spell a major defeat for continued US “sole Superpower” domination.

So, unwittingly, the lovely seaside resort town of Lubmin in northeastern Germany de facto has become a major pivot of the geopolitical drama between Washington and Eurasia whether its citizens realize or not.

F. William Engdahl is author of A Century of War: Anglo-American Oil Politics and the New World Order (Pluto Press), and Seeds of Destruction: The Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation ( His latest book, Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order (Third Millennium Press) is due in late April. He may be reached via his website,
Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

US-Israel Nuclear Partnership

By Jerry Mazza
Online Journal Associate Editor
Jul 8, 2010, 00:22

“According to Army Radio, the US has reportedly pledged to sell Israel materials used to produce electricity, as well as nuclear technology and other supplies.”

This information appeared as the lead article in yesterday’s Haaretz. The article went on to say, “Israel’s Army Radio reported on Wednesday that the United States has sent Israel a secret document committing to nuclear cooperation between the two countries . . .

“Other countries have refused to cooperate with Israel on nuclear matters because it has not signed the NPT [Nuclear Proliferation Treaty], and there has been increasing international pressure for Israel to be more transparent about its nuclear arsenal.”

In fact, Israel’s nuclear plant/arsenal was built in the Negev with the help of the French in 1956, and has been maintained by Israel to this day. It contains an estimated 200 to 300 nuclear warheads.

Haaretz added that “Army Radio’s diplomatic correspondent said the reported offer could put Israel on a par with India, another NPT holdout which is openly nuclear-armed but in 2008 secured a U.S.-led deal granting it civilian nuclear imports.” And thanks to the fact that previous President George Bush would not sign the Nuclear Proliferation Treaty on behalf of the US, as well.

Haaretz said that “During Tuesday’s meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama, the two leaders discussed the global challenge of nuclear proliferation and the need to strengthen the nonproliferation system.” This is certainly a laudable action if it’s true.

“They also discussed calls for a conference on a nuclear-free Middle East, which was proposed during the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NTP) review conference in New York and which Netanyahu said he would not take part in because it intends to single out Israel.” Was Netanyahu’s reference to New York a reference to the UN? Certainly, the city itself has the largest Jewish population outside of Israel?

In any case, “Obama informed Netanyahu that, as a co-sponsor charged with enabling the proposed conference, the United States will insist that such a conference have a broad agenda to include regional security issues, verification and compliance and discussion of all types of weapons of mass destruction.” Here, here, for President Obama.

Again, “Obama emphasized the conference will only take place if all countries ‘feel confident that they can attend,’ and said that efforts to single out Israel would make the prospects of such a conference unlikely.”

Well, why would Israel be singled out? Could it be for its repeated offers to bomb Iran’s nuclear facilities? Or for Menachim Begin’s leveling Iraq’s newly built nuclear facility in 1981 with US F-15s and F-16s. 

Fortunately, there was no nuclear material in it at the time, but it remains the only time any nation has bombed a nuclear facility.

Despite that unpleasant history, “The two leaders agreed to work together to oppose efforts to single out Israel at the IAEA General Conference in September.”

Certainly, we wouldn’t want Israel to feel victimized. Especially in the way Jeff Gates recently described its victimization of the Egyptians in the 1967 War in his article, Bibi back at the White House – the consistency of Israeli duplicity comes ever more clearly in focus. It turns out, according to Gates, that “Israel was neither under attack nor under threat of attacks as its leadership has since conceded. Air raid sirens were just props in the stagecraft of waging war by way of deception.”

Gates also pointed out that “Though the US has been deceived with stunning consistency for more than six decades, a mid-east course correction remains possible. If this latest president can concede to himself that his political career is a product [of] those complicit at this deceit, he may yet emerge as the transformative leader that his supporters once hoped he would be.” How true.

Haaretz reported that “Obama emphasized that the U.S. will continue to work closely with Israel to ensure that arms control initiatives and policies do not detract from Israel’s security, and ‘support our common efforts to strengthen international peace and stability.’”

Ironically, “Dan Meridor, Netanyahu’s deputy prime minister in charge of nuclear affairs, said Obama’s endorsement was not new but that its public expression -- two months after Washington supported Egypt’s proposal at a review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- was significant.”
Perhaps some old wounds can be licked, seeing how, as Gates writes, “In the [1967] war’s first few hours, the ‘victimized’ Israelis destroyed the Egyptian Air Force while its aircraft was still on the ground.” So who is the real victim?

But Meridor went on to say that, “Obama’s statement ‘was without a doubt a special and significant text. It was important for us, and it was important for the region.’”

And Haaretz writes, “Israel neither confirms nor denies having nuclear weapons under an ‘ambiguity’ strategy billed as warding off foes while avoiding public provocations that can spark regional arms races.” An “ambiguity strategy; how ambiguous is that?

Perhaps as Haaretz concluded, “The official reticence, and its [Israel’s] toleration in Washington, has long aggrieved many Arabs and Iranians -- especially given U.S.-led pressure on Tehran to rein in its nuclear program.”

That pressure comes as sanctions. As Shamus Cooke reports, Obama’s New Iran Sanctions: An Act of War. Cooke writes, “When the UN refused to agree to the severe sanctions that the U.S. wanted, Obama responded with typical Bush flair and went solo. The new U.S. sanctions against Iran -- signed into law by Obama on July 1st -- are an unmistakable act of war.” That’s a pretty heavy-handed response from the man bearing an olive branch for Israel and not wanting to “aggrieve” Tehran.

The New York Times responded, “If fully enforced, Iran’s economy will be potentially destroyed.” The Times outlined the central parts of the sanctions: “The law signed by Mr. Obama imposes penalties on foreign entities that sell refined petroleum to Iran or assist Iran with its domestic refining capacity. It also requires that American and foreign businesses that seek contracts with the United States government certify that they do not engage in prohibited business with Iran.” (July 1, 2010). Does that really make sense?

Cooke writes, “ . . . as Iran must import the majority of its oil from foreign corporations and nations, since it does not have the technology needed to refine the fuel that it pumps from its soil. By cutting this refined oil off, the U.S. will be causing massive, irreparable damage to the Iranian economy -- equaling an act of war.

“In fact, war against Japan in WWII was sparked by very similar circumstances. Franklin Delano Roosevelt spearheaded a series of sanctions against Japan, which included the Export Control Act, giving the President the power to prohibit the export of a variety of materials to Japan, including oil. This gave Roosevelt the legal stance he needed to implement an oil embargo, an obvious act of war. Japan’s attack on Pearl Harbor simply brought the war out of the economic realm into the military sphere.” Right you are, Mr. Cooke.

“Iran is facing the exact same situation. Whereas the Obama administration calmly portrays economic sanctions as ‘peaceful’ solutions to political problems, they are anything but. The strategy here is to economically attack Iran until it responds militarily, giving the U.S. a fake moral high ground to ‘defend’ itself, since the other side supposedly attacked first.” So, starve Iran of refined oil and wait for the desired response. That’s clever.

But the bad news doesn’t stop there. According to the New York Times, “The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships [war ships] off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four [surrounding] Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.” (January 30, 2010).

The very same article says that U.S. General Petraeus admitted that, “ . . . the United States was now keeping Aegis cruisers on patrol in the Persian Gulf [Iran’s border] at all times. Those cruisers are equipped with advanced radar and antimissile systems designed to intercept medium-range missiles.” Iran, as well as the whole world, knows full well that “antimissile systems” are perfectly capable of going on the offensive -- their real purpose.

The capper, Cook writes, is that “Iran is completely surrounded by countries occupied by the U.S. military, whether it [is] the mass occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, or the U.S. puppet states that house U.S. military bases in Arab nations (not to mention Zionist Israel, a U.S. cohort in its war aims against Iran). Contrary to the statements of President Obama, Iran is already well contained militarily.” This is truly mind-boggling.

As stated by Cooke, “It remains to be seen how closely U.S. allies will follow the new oil sanctions; they will be under tremendous pressure to do so. The European Union has already signaled that it will follow Obama’s lead.”

But then, what really is Obama’s lead? Leading Israel to the non-nuclear proliferation table while driving Iran to war to save itself from ruin? I’m confused. Won’t this further aggravate conditions in the Middle East? Isn’t this walking towards the brink of all-out war between Middle East nations and the already war-straddled US? Is there no end to the machinations, the waste of blood and money? And how does Israel keep US policy in its pocket on behalf of this insanity?

Jerry Mazza is a freelance writer and life-long resident of New York City. Reach him at His new book, State Of Shock: Poems from 9/11 on” is available at, Amazon or

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

Corporations Gone Wild

As Jefferson Warned Us

By Mary Shaw
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Jul 13, 2010, 00:14

Today we live in historic times, and I don’t mean that in a good way.

First of all, we are suffering the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. And why? Because the financial industry was permitted to run amok.

Under the relaxed regulations of the Reagan and Clinton administrations, the banks did not prove themselves trustworthy to do the right thing for the economy and for the customers they served. They only cared about profits. Alan Greenspan himself admitted that he had “put too much faith in the self-correcting power of free markets and had failed to anticipate the self-destructive power of wanton [i.e., unregulated] mortgage lending.”

Nevertheless, the wealthy ruling class of Wall Street, largely unpunished, is doing just fine with its multi-million-dollar bonuses. But middle-class and working-class Americans continue to suffer through home foreclosures and long-term unemployment. And small businesses can’t get loans to stay afloat.

As if that’s not enough, with the ongoing BP oil catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico we’re now watching the greatest environmental disaster that the U.S. has ever seen. And why? Because the oil industry was permitted to run amok.

BP and other oil companies have a long record of thumbing their noses at safety regulations. For example, it seems that a safety device was available for $500,000 which could have prevented the BP oil disaster. This acoustic switch would trigger an underwater valve to shut down a well in case of a blowout, like the one that recently happened in the Gulf. BP, however, decided that $500,000 was too much to spend on safety, despite the fact that its 2009 profits totaled some $14 billion. So BP spent its money instead on working with Dick Cheney to block regulations that would have required the use of this and other safety precautions.
As a result, not only is the environment suffering, along with the coastal wildlife, but so are the livelihoods of everyone who works in the fishing and tourism industries in the Gulf Coast region.

But don’t worry. Even if BP were to go bankrupt as a result of the disaster, as some have speculated, the oil industry in general won’t likely suffer any more long-term setbacks than the bankers have. If it’s not BP drilling off our coasts, it will be Exxon or Shell.

And don’t forget about the coal miners who have died due to relaxed safety standards, and those who will likely die in the future for the same cut corners.

These days, the corporations are calling the shots. And, now that the Supreme Court has given corporations the unlimited “right” to buy and sell elected officials, I can’t see it changing any time soon.

So they’ll be fine, even if we won’t.

The banks will continue to do whatever it takes to make profits, even if ordinary Americans and small businesses must suffer as a result.

The oil companies will continue to do whatever it takes to maximize their own profits, planet be damned.
Coal miners’ families will worry each day until their loved ones come home.

And, sadly, given the status quo, I don’t think there is anything we can do about it.

Unless, of course, we the people can find a way to overturn the wealthy and powerful status quo.

Meantime, I suspect that our Founding Fathers are spinning in their graves. After all, they warned us about this. As Thomas Jefferson once said, “I hope we shall crush . . . in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”


Mary Shaw is a Philadelphia-based writer and activist, with a focus on politics, human rights, and social justice. She is a former Philadelphia Area Coordinator for the Nobel-Prize-winning human rights group Amnesty International, and her views appear regularly in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and websites. Note that the ideas expressed here are the author’s own, and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Amnesty International or any other organization with which she may be associated. E-mail:

Copyright © 1998-2007 Online Journal

A Long Economic Winter Ahead

By Rodrigue Tremblay
Online Journal Guest Writer
Jul 8, 2010, 00:14
Courtesy Of "The Online Journal"

“A State divided into a small number of rich and a large number of poor will always develop a government manipulated by the rich to protect the amenities represented by their property.” --Harold Laski (1893-1950), British political theorist, 1930

“Money becomes evil not when it is used to buy goods but when it is used to buy power . . . economic inequalities become evil when they are translated into political inequalities.” --Samuel Huntington (1927-2008), political scientist

“ . . . if financial markets are skittish and don’t have confidence in a country’s fiscal soundness, that is also going to undermine our recovery.” --President Barack Obama, June 25, 2010

“Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genius, and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction.” --Albert Einstein (1879-1955) Physicist and Professor, Nobel Prize 1921

The bond market is telling us that there could be hard economic times ahead and that deflation, for the time being, is more of a threat than inflation. Leading indicators are also pointing to possible economic weakness ahead. -The Euro zone is being pulled apart by the economic asymmetry of its members, the less productive among them (Greece, Spain, Ireland, Portugal and Italy) being unable to keep pace with the very productive German economy. -The U.S. money supply M3 is contracting. -The Chinese bubble is dangerously approaching the bursting point. -And, the deflation of debt all over the place threatens to plunge the world economy into a deflationary tailspin. In this context, there is a good chance of a double-dip recession next year, in 2011.

Readers of this article know where I stand on this issue. One year ago, on July 10, 2009, when everybody and his uncle was declaring the recession over and the return of business as usual, I wrote a piece announcing that my analysis was pointing to 10 years of economic hardship, entitled We are in the Midst of the Great Baby-Boomers Economic Stagnation of 2007-2017. I wrote then that “many observers think that ‘prosperity is around the corner’ and that this recession, like others since World War II, will end as soon as the stock market, as a leading indicator, recovers and people start spending again. This is a myopic view of the current economic big picture.”

Let us keep in mind that in May of 1930, President Herbert Hoover was also proclaiming that “the danger . . . is safely behind us.” This was 10 years too early for such a declaration. Just as in the 1930s, the U.S. economy and many part of the world economy suffer from a debt overhang that usually takes at least ten years to correct. When overall debt is four times larger than the economy, as it is the case today and as it was close to being the case in the 1930s, a debt deflation becomes unavoidable.

Economic booms built on a mountain of debt, some of which is fraudulent and speculative debt, tend to end badly. The higher the debt mountain relative to the real economy, the more serious is the following economic meltdown. This is because an unsustainable debt level means that some of the investments and projects thus financed make no economic sense and no sufficient income can be forthcoming to service and repay the debts. The first consequence is excess capacity and falling asset prices. The second consequence is an unavoidable liquidation of debts and a debt deflation. The third consequence is economic stagnation.

The danger that accompanies a protracted period of debt-liquidation and debt deflation after a binge of over-indebtedness is well known in economics. In 1933, Yale economist Irving Fisher published his debt-deflation theory of economic depressions. The core of the theory is that over-indebtedness leads to deflation, which in turn leads to an economic contraction. Fisher summarizes the links between debt liquidation and economic contraction in nine interacting steps:

1- Debt liquidation leads to distress selling.

2- Contraction of deposit currency, as bank loans are paid off, and to a slowing down of the velocity of circulation of money.

3- A fall in the level of prices.

4- If the fall of prices is not interfered with by reflation or otherwise, this is followed by greater fall in the net worth of business, precipitating bankruptcies.

5- This leads to a like fall in profits.

6- A reduction in construction, output, trade and in employment of labor results.

7- Losses, bankruptcies and unemployment lead to pessimism and loss of confidence.

8- The result is hoarding and a contraction in bank credits, which contribute in slowing down even more the velocity of circulation of money.

9- The overall deflation causes a fall in the nominal or money interest rates accompanied by a rise in the real or commodity rates of interest as prices fall.

A similar self-reinforcing spiral-down of debt-deflation and economic contraction can be feared in the coming years as the level of debt to the economy goes from about four times the economy to a more manageable two times the economy. In other words, it should not take more than $1.50 or $2 of new debt and credit to generate one dollar of new output. When it takes more debt than that to generate new production, this is an indication that the economy is becoming over-leveraged with debt.

Judging by the pronouncements made by leaders at the recent G8 and G20 meetings in June, and their collective commitment to cut governments’ deficits in half by 2013, I don’t think that politicians fully understand the danger presently facing the world economy. In fact, any new shock hitting the world economy, economic or political, risks accelerating the collapse of the debt house of cards, with dire consequences for production and employment.

Austerity fiscal measures may raise government efficiency, but they are not what will cushion the real effects of the debt deflation. Both reflationary monetary policies and overall stabilization policies are needed, especially in the banking sector, in order to make sure that producers and employers are not frozen out of new bank credit.

Rodrigue Tremblay is professor emeritus of economics at the University of Montreal and can be reached at He is the author of the book “The Code for Global Ethics.

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