Just Foreign Policy Iraqi Death Estimator    

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Saudis clear Israel to bomb Iran?

Riyadh opens air space for run on nuke facilities, paper says
LONDON - Saudi Arabia will allow Israel to use a narrow corridor of its airspace in the north of the country to shorten the distance for a bombing run on Iran's nuclear facilities, the London Times reported on Saturday.
Quoting unnamed U.S. defense sources, the newspaper said Riyadh conducted tests to be sure its own jets would not be scrambled and missile defenses not be activated so Israeli bombers could pass by without problems.
The path would shorten Israel's bomb run, The Times said. LinkHere
Saudis Deny Report They Will Allow Israeli Planes Over Country (Arutz Sheva)
Saudi denies deal on Iran blitz (Gulf Daily News)
KSA rejects claim of deal with Israel to attack Iran (Saudi Gazette)

Filmmaker's unedited video of Gaza convoy raid

Filmmaker's unedited video of Gaza convoy raid
Over one hour of unedited, uncensored video from Israel’s raid on the Mavi Marmara Gaza Flotilla is now in the public domain, thanks to the efforts of Brazilian filmmaker Iara Lee.
Israeli Attack on the Mavi Marmara // Raw Footage

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Don't you just love it?

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A little to late for that I think Mr. President

White House officials make nice with labor

In a private meeting currently under way with labor leaders, top White House officials are working hard to smooth over tensions in the wake of an anonymous administration official's claim that unions had flushed $10 million down the toilet in Arkansas, and are stressing that they respect labor's decision, sources say.
The private make-up session is directly at odds with the tough tone the White House official struck in the wake of the primary, and is also at odds with Robert Gibbs' subsequent quasi-endorsement of the sentiment. In the meeting, a White House official asked labor to put the anonymous comment behind them, a source at the meeting says.
Representing the White House at the meeting, which is currently underway at AFL-CIO headquarters in Washington, are top advisers Patrick Gaspard and Jen O'Malley. On the labor side are AFL-CIO's political directors.
Here's what's going down as we speak, according to a source who is present. Labor officials pointedly told the White House reps that they stood by their effort in Arkansas and were proud of it, and that they would continue making endorsement decisions not according to the letter next to the incumbent's name, but solely on who was better for their members.
In response, Gaspard, the White House official with perhaps the deepest roots in labor, assured those present that he understood that unions should remain independent. He asked the labor officials not to let one comment foul up relations between labor and the White House.
Gaspard also assured those assembled that he understood that labor's first responsibility is to their members.
So it looks like the White House does regret dumping on labor after all, and does understand that the judicious move here is to walk back the criticism and insults, if only in private. More as I learn it. LinkHere

Veteran White House Reporter Helen Thomas Retires After Israel Remarks

Veteran White House correspondent Helen Thomas has retired amid a firestorm of criticism over comments she made on the Israel-Palestine conflict. Widely known as “the dean of the White House press corps,” Thomas is the most senior White House correspondent and has covered every president since John F. Kennedy. In a brief video interview with the website RabbiLive.com, Thomas said her message to Israelis is to "get the hell out of Palestine." Thomas also suggested Israeli Jews should return to Poland, Germany or the United States. Thomas later issued a statement saying, "I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon." We speak to former Senator James Abourezk, the first Arab American in the Senate. [includes rush transcript] LinkHere

More Outrage Over Helen Thomas Comment Than Murder of US Citizen
The knives are out for Helen Thomas.
There is more outrage in this country over some bumbling comments she recently made than over the murder of a US citizen and eight others by our ally, Israel, on the high seas. Never mind the fact that she has apologized while Israel still refuses to apologize. LinkHere

EXCLUSIVE: New Video Smuggled Out from Mavi Marmara of Israel’s Deadly Assault on Gaza Aid Flotilla

In a Democracy Now! exclusive, we bring you a sneak preview of previously unseen raw footage from the Mavi Marmara that will be formally released at a press conference at the United Nations later in the day. The footage shows the mood and the activities onboard the Mavi Marmara in the time leading up to the attack, and the immediate reaction of the passengers during the attack. We are joined by filmmaker and activist Iara Lee, one of the few Americans on the Mavi Marmara ship. Her equipment was confiscated, but she managed to smuggle out an hour’s worth of footage. LinkHere Watch a 5 minute cut of Lee’s footage here:

Framing the Narrative: Israeli Commandos Seize Videotape and Equipment from Journalists After Deadly Raid

After the Israeli military raided the Gaza aid flotilla and killed nine of the activists on board, they detained almost everyone else—700 activists and journalists—hauled them to the Israeli port of Ashdod, and kept them largely out of communication with family, press and lawyers for days. The Israeli government confiscated every recording and communication device it could find—devices containing almost all the recorded evidence of the raid. The Israelis selected, edited and released footage they wanted the world to see. We speak to two veteran reporters who were covering the Gaza Freedom Flotilla for Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald. [includes rush transcript] LinkHere

Palestinian Member of Israeli Knesset Receives Death Threats After Surviving Israeli Raid on Gaza Aid Flotilla

Hanin Zoabi was aboard the Mavi Marmara, the lead ship in the flotilla where all nine activists were killed, and she witnessed some of them bleed to death. When she returned to Israel to speak in the Knesset, she was verbally assaulted by parliament members for her participation in the flotilla. [includes rush transcript] LinkHere

Palestinian President Abbas Faces Uproar for Aiding US-Israeli Derailment of UN Report on Gaza Assault

Palestinian outrage continues over the Palestinian Authority’s decision to back the postponement of a Human Rights Council vote on the Goldstone investigation into Israel’s assault on Gaza. The move reportedly came after heavy American and Israeli pressure. We speak with Columbia University professor Rashid Khalidi. [includes rush transcript] LinkHere

Sarah Palin Demands Hardball Regulations and a Takeover of BP

Sarah Palin and the GOPs' platform is very simply: we believe the opposite of anything the president, the Democrats and the progressives say, regardless of whether it's contradictory, crazy or stupid.
On her Facebook page this week, Sarah Palin outlined a pretty solid case for tough government regulations against corporations. (By the way, none of the sentences ended with the word "also," nor did the entry read like a really bad local newspaper letter to the editor, so I assume it was ghost-written.)
Yes, seriously. Sarah Palin is in favor of the federal government planting its gigantic boot on the throats of energy companies. She put it in writing. Not only that but she even proposed that our socialist, anti-capitalist, wealth-redistributing president call her on the phone so she can describe to him specifically how to impose all kinds of big government regulations against BP and others.
It's about damn time.
I knew if we just continued to make the case for serious government regulation of corporations, we'd finally win some minds and hearts -- even minds as airy, and wolf-snipering hearts as hardened as Sarah Palin's.
Here's the centerpiece of what she wrote:
Unless government appropriately regulates oil developments and holds oil executives accountable, the public will not trust them to drill, baby, drill. And we must!
I can only assume she was suggesting that "we must!" regulate and drill. For the record, we're already drilling offshore, so enough of this hackish "drill, baby, drill" screeching. There are already 3,858 oil and gas platforms operating in the Gulf of Mexico alone, according to NOAA. Here's a convenient map with yellow dots indicating all of the locations where we're already, you know, drilling, baby, drilling:

I understand, however, that most Republicans aren't satisfied and want more drilling. They want the moratorium on new deepwater drilling permits to end, and they want new exploration for oil in heretofore untapped leases all along the entire coast of the United States. The problem is that it would take around 10 years to get platforms online and producing in the areas where there are untapped leases, and the deepwater platforms that are ready to drill now don't have the failsafe mechanisms -- and the regulations Sarah wants -- in place yet. So how about this compromise: we continue to drill with the existing offshore wells, but, as Sarah Palin suggests, we regulate the hell out of them? Once those regulations are in place, maybe we can talk about new offshore leases rather than drilling willy-nilly.
But that doesn't appear good enough for Sarah Palin's southern allies.
Rand Paul, who Sarah endorsed, doesn't want any regulation whatsoever.
Bobby Jindal, when he's not hyperventilating into a bag or begging for taxpayer wealth to be redistributed from elsewhere to Louisiana, is demanding that new deepwater oil platforms be allowed to immediately begin pumping before new regulations are put in place. LinkHere

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Helen Thomas Says Media 'Played Dead' In Run-Up To Iraq War

Shame on you Mr President, you just threw away a true journalist in every sense of the word.
You have just deminished yourself around the world, in your peace efforts.
Murder on the High Seas is not "offensive and reprehensible."

I think certainly a must read, what knowledge to just throw away!!!!!!

That’s the reason we’re so easily led down the garden path—nobody’s asking “why?” The question “why?” should always be there. What is the reason this other government or these people would do this to us? But I had the impression that throughout the whole country, truth took a holiday. There’s been very little search for truth, except for a few people who have spoken out.

This interview with Helen Thomas was conducted in March. We were holding it for an upcoming issue of Vice magazine, but in light of what’s going on with her now, we’ve decided to run it online today.

“Uh, wait, what’s going on with her now,” you say. Oh, you live in a cave. OK then. Helen Thomas just made some comments about Israel that Israelis, President Obama, and a lot of other people vehemently didn’t like. Not to put too fine a point on it, she pretty much said that Jews need to “get the hell out of Palestine” and go home to “Poland, Germany and America.” A tad indelicate, yes. But not surprising given her reputation for being headstrong and outspoken. And has Helen Thomas ever made her position on Israel and its actions a secret? Nope. Besides, if we were 89 years old and had spent the last five decades watching a steady flow of spin and doubletalk issuing forth from the mouths of countless men (and a select few women) standing behind a podium with the White House seal on it, we might be getting a little grumpy by now too.

“But hold on a minute,” you say. “Who’s Helen Thomas again?” Really, kid? Lebanese-American member of the White House Press Corps since 1960. Pioneering female journalist. The little old lady who sits in the front row at Presidential press conferences and asks the questions that the other reporters are too scared to ask. A journalist who truly challenges politicians, who wants them to be able to explain and justify their decisions and positions, whose most valued question is ‘why.’ Now she has been hounded into quitting the job that was her life. Her agent for speaking engagements has summarily dropped her. She is being vilified by many and lauded by others but no matter what, we believe that she is owed a huge debt of respect and gratitude for the work she’s done in the name of true democracy. We fear that the White House Press Corps has lost its conscience in losing Helen Thomas. Whether anyone has the balls to carry on what she has started remains to be seen.
PS: Yes, she does discuss Israel in this interview, if you’re curious about whether there’s a timely money shot to sink your teeth into. But there’s a lot more going on here. Don’t let Helen Thomas’s views on Israel alone define her for you.

Vice: When I watched you at press conferences during the George W. Bush years, you seemed pretty disgusted with your fellow journalists.Helen Thomas: In the run-up to the Iraq War, no one asked for proof of weapons of mass destruction. It was very, very clear that President Bush wanted to go to war at any cost. And he would not go back to the UN and allow them three more months to look and see if it was really true. We went to war on lies. I think 9-11 was definitely used to terrorize the people away from taking any stand against the government, because they felt it was a real crisis and I guess they—halfway at least—believed the government. Using terrorists is a very effective propaganda weapon.

Is it just me or did the mainstream press seem particularly flabby after 9-11?They were afraid of not being considered real patriots, and I’m sure the big communications corporations got orders from on high. So they played ball.
In your decades at the White House have you witnessed this kind of complacency before?Well, the Watergate scandal was the turning point in the White House in modern times. We took all the [Nixon administration’s] denials, and when they turned out to be absolutely wrong, when it turned out to be disinformation, it made reporters much more wary in that brief interval that followed. But of course 9-11 made everyone into a prime citizen again, and afraid to ask. The Pentagon was also very effective in propagandizing, as was the State Department, as was the White House. So, again, I think that journalists became afraid to be called unpatriotic if they didn’t support a war, even one that was obviously not true.
You were surprised by this?LinkHere

By Robert Scheer
The media tirade against Helen Thomas is as illogical as it is hysterical. The few sentences uttered by her were, as she quickly acknowledged, wrong—deeply so, I would add. But they cannot justify the road-rage destruction of the dean of the Washington press corps. Suddenly this heroic woman who broke so many gender barriers and dared to challenge presidential arrogance was reduced to nothing more than the stereotypical anti-Israel Arab that it is so fashionable to hate.
“Thomas, of Lebanese ancestry and almost 90, has never been shy about her anti-Israel views,” writes Richard Cohen in The Washington Post, in a non sequitur reference to a reporter born in Winchester, Ky., in 1920 when few—Jews included—supported a Jewish state in Palestine and whose parents were Christians. Obviously Cohen, who attacks Thomas for “revealing how very little she knew” about the history of Israel, is unaware that Lebanese Christians have been the staunchest allies of the Jewish state. Indeed, they provided the shock troops who, under Israeli cover, massacred the unarmed inhabitants of Palestinian refugee camps. To attribute Thomas’ views on Israel to her Lebanese parents is no less offensive than it would be to suggest that a Jewish reporter cannot be objective because, as in my case, his mother escaped anti-Semitism in Russia.
Thomas’ fall from grace as a media icon began with her daring to criticize the abysmal coverage of the buildup to the Iraq war. How ironic that her opposition to the U.S. invasion is offered as an example of hostility to Israel when that war did so much to increase the power of Iran, Israel’s most significant enemy in the region. After all, Israel claims that the presumed military threat from Gaza is fueled by Iran, which enjoys much support in Shiite-led Iraq—previously governed by Tehran’s archenemy Saddam Hussein.
As someone who has long supported a two-state solution for the historically disputed land of Palestine, I have no trouble condemning Thomas’ ill-considered remarks that Israeli Jews should go back to the lands from where they came. I am opposed to denying legitimacy to desperate immigrants seeking a better life anywhere, be they in Arizona or the Middle East. What I don’t understand is why this basic respect for human rights doesn’t apply to the people who call themselves Palestinian and who are illegal immigrants not as a matter of birth but only in the political calculus of those who find their indigenous presence at best an inconvenience and at worst an insolvable threat. Why is it morally acceptable to deny Palestinians the right to full citizenship in their birthplace and instead insist, as Israel’s leaders often have, that they should be content to live under the flag of nations like Egypt, Syria and Jordan that have long oppressed them? LinkHere

Will Fox News Get Helen Thomas's Front-Row Seat?

Why do you think this is happening now more than ever before?I think it’s the whole business of communications, the stranglehold of the ultra-right on propaganda. It’s scaring people. Three or four hours every afternoon they have these very ultra-right people on the air, who I think are using the government and using the American people, betraying them and destroying our whole sense of honesty.

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

US Backs International Role In Flotilla Probe

As long as Israel is in charge of the probe
It will be a whitewash.
Source: AFP
(AFP) – 15 minutes ago
WASHINGTON — The United States Tuesday backed calls for an international participation in Israel's probe into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla saying it was "essential" to ensure credibility.

"We understand that the international participation in investigating these matters will be important to the credibility everybody wants to see," State Department spokesman Philip Crowley said. LinkHere

Ain't that the truth!!!!!!

Last week, Israeli commandos boarded a relief ship attempting to break the blockade of the Gaza Strip and, during a clash with pro-Palestinian activists, shot nine people to death. It was an old-fashioned, bona fide "international incident," a fiasco that raised alarming questions about the current trajectory of Israel's security, the wisdom of its government, as well as the fate of Obama's Middle East policies and U.S. security in general.
Within a few days, though, the Washington media's "Israel narrative" abandoned those questions and focused instead on the ugly words and sudden retirement of cranky 89-year-old White House correspondent Helen Thomas. Somehow, the debate shifted from Israel behaving badly to Helen Thomas behaving badly.
I'm not going to defend Thomas -- what she said was deeply offensive. But in the overall scheme of things, it was a trivial incident, and DC's sudden obsession with it -- to the exclusion of a lot of other, more important things -- is especially ironic given the parlous state of the Israeli situation.
The Washington media universe may not have set a new speed record here for spinning itself, Tasmanian devil-style, from grave and difficult to trivial and ironic. (That seems, after all, to be what it does nearly every hour of every day.) But it did set a kind of distance record for leaping the moral gulf between important, complex issues and easy, knee-jerk ones.
If you withhold judgment for just a moment on Israel and the Palestinians, all you see are difficult issues, stark moral choices, no-win scenarios. The appalling economic conditions in Gaza, the awful paradox of a democratically-elected Hamas, the unintended consequences of Israel's unyielding military and diplomatic posture, the blowup with Turkey, potential impacts for terrorist recruitment, Iran, ad infinitum. But American politicians flee from these issues. Instead they fell over one another defending Israel for doing something indefensible. (Yes, of course the blockade-running is a provocation. But if you're smart, you don't kill provocateurs.)
The media and punditocracy follow the politicians. And pretty soon you've got Liz Cheney denouncing Turkey -- our ally -- for all but countenancing the destruction of Israel. Add Helen Thomas into this combustible mix, and a serious engagement with these issues (never a likelihood, but still) becomes impossible.
There are two problems here: The default media posture for hard issues is he-said-she-said, and when you try that with the Middle East all you get is people hurling accusations back and forth. That might work for cable chat shows, but not for understanding what's really going on in the Middle East. Worse, few in the media are smart or brave enough to weigh these issues. If they were, we might get more pushback on the vacuous political debate on Israel here in the United States. For instance, read Peter Beinart's carefully-argued piece on the failure of the American Jewish establishment in the New York Review of Books. Beinart's arguments are alarming. But he is simply too reasonable and nuanced to get much of a hearing in a media that feeds on outrage and is dealing with a situation that is a bottomless BP well of outrage. Reasonable won't cut it when you're arguing with Liz Cheney. LinkHere
This post first appeared on my True/Slant blog.

U.S. demands IDF probe how American lost eye at West Bank protest

And the murdered American doesn't count?
Source: Haaretz
Emily Henochowicz, 21, an art student in New York, came to Israel six weeks ago as an exchange student at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem.

"The United States embassy has demanded an investigation into how an American citizen lost her eye last week at the Qalandiyah checkpoint after being struck by a tear gas grenade.

Emily Henochowicz, 21, an art student in New York, came to Israel six weeks ago as an exchange student at Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. She has participated in a number of protests in the West Bank. Last Monday, after the takeover of the Mavi Marmara, Henochowicz took part in a demonstration at the Qalandiyah checkpoint together with a few dozen protesters. Border Policemen fired tear gas grenades to disperse the protest, one of which struck Henochowicz in the face. She was taken to Hadassah University Hospital, Ein Karem, where she underwent surgery. In addition to losing her left eye, Henochowicz is suffering from fractures to her face. She returned to the United States on Saturday night for continued treatment.

Henochowicz's father, a doctor, is originally from Israel and she also has Israeli citizenship.

The U.S. embassy has been in continuous touch with the family. Haaretz has learned that the embassy conveyed a demand that Israel investigate the incident. A Swedish activist, Soren Johanssen who was reportedly standing near Henochowicz, was quoted as saying: "They fired many canisters at us in rapid succession. One landed on either side of Emily, then the third one hit her in the face."

Another protester, Jonathan Pollak, was quoted as saying that Border Policemen had intentionally aimed at the demonstrators." LinkHere

Senator: Deepwater Well Integrity May Be Shot, Meaning Oil Could Be Leaking Straight Up From The Sea

Source: MSNBC, The Business Insider

This may be the real nightmare scenario in the Gulf. Some have speculated that the inner integrity of the Deepwater well could be blown (not just the top) and that oil could be leaking out from the side, making it hard to imagine how you might go about plugging the thing.

On MSNBC today, Senator Ben Nelson said he'd heard such report, and is looking into such things. Let's hope not. LinkHere

Monday, June 07, 2010

Stone Cold Liar!!!!!!! Hell Yes.

But then what do you expect from a Cheney

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Helen Thomas RETIRING Effective Immediately

The White House Monday called Thomas' remarks "offensive and reprehensible."
And the killing of 9 people, 4 with 30 bullets shot into them is not obscene, "offensive and reprehensible."
Mr President
Freedom of speech is okay, as long as it is not against Israel for it barbaric and reprehensible behavour?
Helen Thomas, the 89-year-old veteran White House correspondent, will retire effective immediately in the wake of her offensive comments on Israel.
"Helen Thomas announced Monday that she is retiring, effective immediately," a Hearst Newspapers statement said. "Her decision came after her controversial comments about Israel and the Palestinians were captured on videotape and widely disseminated on the Internet."
Thomas, who transitioned from reporter to columnist in 2000 but kept her front-row seat at White House briefings, had come under fire for her statement that Israel should "get the hell out of Palestine" and that Jews in Israeli should return to Germany, Poland, or the US.
Thomas apologized for the comments, saying:
"I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians. They do not reflect my heart-felt belief that peace will come to the Middle East only when all parties recognize the need for mutual respect and tolerance. May that day come soon."
The White House Monday called Thomas' remarks "offensive and reprehensible."

Now why would that, not be surprising?

GEORGE Bush has admitted that 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded during his administration, and he wouldn't hesitate to give the order again
Did The Bush Administration Experiment On Detainees?

Not only were terrorism suspects tortured, they were also used as human guinea pigs, a new report alleges.

Sun Jun. 6, 2010 9:00 PM PDT
In the course of trying to prove that its "enhanced" interrogation program was legal, the Bush administration may have broken the law, according to a new report (PDF) by Physicians for Human Rights. The watchdog group claims that in an attempt to establish that brutal interrogation tactics did not constitute torture, the administration ended up effectively experimenting on terrorism detainees. This research, PHR alleges, violated an array of regulations and treaties, including international guidelines on human testing put in place after the Holocaust.
According to the report, which draws on numerous declassified government documents, "medical professionals working for and on behalf of the CIA" frequently monitored detainee interrogations, gathering data on the effectiveness of various interrogation techniques and the pain threshholds of detainees. This information was then used to "enhance" future interrogations, PHR contends.
By monitoring post-9/11 interrogations and keeping records on the effectiveness of various techniques, medical professionals could also provide Bush administration lawyers with the information they needed to set guidelines for the use of so-called "enhanced" interrogation tactics. For instance, attorneys in the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) who were devising the legal rationale for the interrogation program could use the research to determine how many times a detainee could be waterboarded. Or, based on the observations of the medical personnel monitoring the interrogation sessions, they could assess whether it was legally justifiable to administer techniques like stress positions or water dousing in combination or whether these methods needed to be applied separately.
Physicians for Human Rights makes the case that since human subject research is defined as the "systematic collection of data and/or identifiable personal information for the purpose of drawing generalizable inferences," what the Bush administration was doing amounted to human experimentation:
Human experimentation without the consent of the subject is a violation of international human rights law to which the United States is subject; federal statutes; the Common Rule, which comprises the federal regulations for research on human subjects and applies to 17 federal agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense; and universally accepted health professional ethics, including the Nuremberg Code... Human experimentation on detainees also can constitute a war crime and a crime against humanity in certain circumstances.
Ironically, one goal of the "experimentation" seems to have been to immunize Bush administration officials and CIA interrogators from potential prosecution for torture. In the series of legal papers that are now popularly known as the "torture memos," Justice Department lawyers argued that medical monitoring would demonstrate that interrogators didn't intend to harm detainees; that "lack of intent to cause harm" could then serve as the cornerstone of a legal defense should an interrogator be targeted for prosecution. In 2003, in an internal CIA memo cited in the PHR report, the CIA's general counsel, Scott Muller, argued that medical monitoring of interrogations and "reviewing evidence gained from past experience where available (including experience gained in the course of U.S. interrogations of detainees)" would allow interrogators to inoculate themselves against claims of torture because it "established" they didn't intend to cause harm to the detainees. LinkHere

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Rethinking Big Government

Look toward the Gulf of Mexico this morning. Most of the states in that region seem to be an ever-so-slightly, deeper shade of blue. Most of the people in that area of the country in the past have tended to vote for Conservatives. Most of them have been brainwashed into believing that so-called "BIG GOVERNMENT" is bad. And yet all of them, I'm am certain, are saying quiet prayers of thanksgiving as the sun now rises on those troubled waters, that their government is big enough (we hope) to cope with the current catastrophe. Most of the states that make up the gulf region are doing some serious soul searching today. Most of them. Mississippi, I'm sorry to inform you, is terminally and incurably red. [SIGH]
Perhaps we have arrived at that moment where the essence of the argument against big government has started to shift in a slightly different direction. Shouldn't the argument be focused - not on "big government" - but rather on "good government"? Efficiency versus incompetence? We are now a nation of over three-hundred million people. The very idea that the government should be made smaller - or done away with entirely - is beyond idiotic. Rather than wasting our precious time trying to come up with ways of shrinking it, we should all be working overtime trying to improve it.

"Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem."

-Ronald Reagan's
first Inaugural Address
January 20, 1981

As the decades ebb away and the judgment of history becomes more dispassionate, this truism will become increasingly apparent:

Ronald Reagan was a fool. LinkHere

Blinding the Witnesses

There is something way too literal about Israel shooting out the eye of a witness to its crimes.
This photograph of Emily Henochowicz's bandaged face needs to be seen by the world. LinkHere

While the Obama administration has refused to condemn the Israeli flotilla raid outright, survivors of the assault continue to challenge Israeli military claims that soldiers acted in self-defense after rappelling onto the lead vessel, the Mavi Marmara. We speak to two passengers who were aboard the ship: Kevin Neish of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid and Kevin Ovenden of Viva Palestina. [includes rush transcript]
Joe Meadors was on one of the other Free Gaza boats that was seized early Monday morning. For Meadors, this marks the second time he has been aboard a ship attacked by Israeli forces in international waters. In 1967, Meadors was a signalman aboard the USS Liberty, a US Navy electronic intelligence-gathering ship that was attacked by Israeli planes and torpedo boats in 1967. Thirty-four Americans were killed and more than 170 were wounded in the attack. [includes rush transcript]
Thousands Mourn Turkish Victims of Flotilla Attack
Up to 20,000 people gathered in Istanbul on Thursday to pay tribute to the nine activists killed in the attack. The coffins were carried through central Istanbul draped in Turkish and Palestinian flags. The youngest of the nine victims was nineteen-year-old US citizen Furkan Dogan. Dogan was born in Troy, New York and moved to Turkey when he was two years old. An autopsy showed he was shot at close range, once in the chest and four times in the head.
Passenger: Israeli Troops Fired at Unarmed Passengers, Ignored SOS Calls
As the dead are laid to rest, survivors of the flotilla attack continue to speak out about the assault on the Mavi Marmara. After returning to London, British peace activist and flotilla passenger Sarah Colborne said Israeli troops ignored SOS calls from the passengers aboard the ship.
Sarah Colborne: "We wrote a sign in Hebrew saying, 'SOS! Need medical assistance. People are dying. Urgent.' Hanin Zoabi, who’s a Knesset member, an Israeli Knesset member, took that sign to the front—to the back of the boat, where the soldiers were pointing at her. They ordered her to go back."
Colborne says she also witnessed Israeli troops shooting unarmed passengers and handcuffing medics accompanying the aid mission.
Israeli Military Retracts Claim Passengers "Al Qaeda Mercenaries"
The Israeli military, meanwhile, has been forced to retract its claim that passengers aboard the flotilla were agents of al-Qaeda. An Israel Defense Forces press release sent out two days after the assault says approximately forty flotilla passengers "are mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization." The independent journalist Max Blumenthal says both he and an Israeli colleague asked the Israeli military press office to substantiate its claim. No evidence was provided, and one day later the press released was modified. The original headline was changed from "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found to be Al Qaeda Mercenaries" to "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers." Commenting on the retraction, Blumenthal writes, "The more Israel’s claims about the flotilla’s terrorist links are challenged, the more they fall apart."
Swedish Dockers Boycott Israeli Goods, Ships in Flotilla Protest
Israel continues to face worldwide protest over the flotilla assault. In Sweden, the Swedish Dockers’ Union has announced a more-than-week-long boycott of all ships and goods originating from or destined to Israel. We’ll have more on the flotilla assault after headlines.

Arianna Battles Liz Cheney Over Gulf Spill, Halliburton, Gaza Crisis On 'This Week' (VIDEO)

Friking Hell, Bush, Cheney were a terrorist organization that the world had to live with for 8 years. Don't talk to me about a terrorist organization, Hamas was Bush Cheneys democratically elected government, but like Sadam, it did not suit their purpose at the time.
Murder by any other name!!!!!!!!!
superstition 2 minutes ago (6:20 PM)
"A 60-year-old man, Ibrahim Bilgen, was shot four times in the temple, chest, hip and back. A 19-year-old, named as Fulkan Dogan, an American citizen, was shot five times from less that 45cm, in the face, in the back of the head, twice in the leg and once in the back. Two other men were shot four times, and five of the victims were shot either in the back of the head or in the back...
'Next time we'll use more force'
Arianna appeared as a guest on ABC's "This Week" on Sunday, along with Liz Cheney, Markos Moulitsas, and George Will.

Arianna squared off with Cheney over the Gulf oil disaster, calling out the Bush-Cheney administration for its role in fostering the crisis.

"The truth is that right now we have precisely the regulatory system that the Bush-Cheney administration wanted: full of loopholes, full of cronies and lobbyists filling the very agencies that are supposed to be overseeing the industry," Arianna said. "We are seeing this as the inevitable result of what they wanted."

"It is truly amazing," Cheney responded. "I actually heard that George Bush was responsible for the breakup of Tipper and Al Gore's marriage, too. It's incredible, the extent to which people are now trying to shift blame. ... The left -- you guys have for years been demonizing Bush and Cheney, and I'm sure you’ll be demonizing them for years going forward. But we have a catastrophe on the Gulf coast, a catastrophe that happened on this administration's watch, which this administration is failing to clean up."

"We have the poster child of Bush-Cheney crony capitalism, Halliburton, involved in this," Arianna said. "They, after all, were responsible for cementing the well. Here's Halliburton, after it defrauded the American taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars -- "

"I don't know what planet you live on," Cheney shot back. "What you are saying has no relationship to the truth, no relationship to the facts."

"I live on this planet," Arianna said. "Halliburton was involved in this. How can you say there is no relationship?" LinkHere

Israel Navy reserves officers: Allow external Gaza flotilla probe

Officers denounce operation as 'military and diplomatic failure', slam government for placing blame on the activists.

A group of top Israel Navy reserves officers on Sunday publicly called on Israel to allow an external probe into its commando raid of a Gaza-bound humanitarian aid flotilla last week, which left nine people dead and several more wounded.

In a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, the Navy officers denounced the commando raid as having "ended in tragedy both at the military and diplomatic levels."

"We disagree with the widespread claims that this was the result of an intelligence rift," said the officers. "In addition, we do not accept claims that this was a 'public relations failure' and we think that the plan was doomed to failure from the beginning."

"First and foremost, we protest the fact that responsibility for the tragic results was immediately thrust onto the organizers of the flotilla," wrote the officers. "This demonstrates contempt for the responsibility that belongs principally to the hierarchy of commanders and those who approved the mission. This shows contempt for the values of professionalism, the purity of weapons and for human lives."

The Navy officers' letter came as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was convening his top ministers to deliberate a United Nations proposal to create a joint international committee alongside Turkey and the United States to investigate the circumstances of the deadly raid. LinkHere

Israeli Military Retracts Claim Passengers "Al Qaeda Mercenaries"

The Israeli military, meanwhile, has been forced to retract its claim that passengers aboard the flotilla were agents of al-Qaeda. An Israel Defense Forces press release sent out two days after the assault says approximately forty flotilla passengers "are mercenaries belonging to the Al Qaeda terror organization." The independent journalist Max Blumenthal says both he and an Israeli colleague asked the Israeli military press office to substantiate its claim. No evidence was provided, and one day later the press released was modified. The original headline was changed from "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found to be Al Qaeda Mercenaries" to "Attackers of the IDF Soldiers Found Without Identification Papers." Commenting on the retraction, Blumenthal writes, "The more Israel’s claims about the flotilla’s terrorist links are challenged, the more they fall apart."

Israeli Ambassador To U.S. Rejects International Investigation Of Flotilla Deaths

Defenders of the Mavri Mamarra
This item was sent by Ken O'Keefe from Istanbul at 10.00hrs 05.06.2010 and provides an eyewitness account of events on the Mavri Mamarra when Israeli commandos stormed the vessel.

Gaza Convoy Tapes Edited, Israel Acknowledges

Banks Say No. Too Bad Taxpayers Can’t.

FROM the earliest days of the credit crisis, the nation’s big financial institutions have been less than forthcoming about ballooning loan losses buried inside their books. To some degree this is understandable: denial is a powerful thing, after all, and writing off troubled loans during a period of severe stress is, for bankers, the equivalent of getting a root canal.

As profits rebound at many of these institutions, however, artful dodging becomes more disturbing. And when disguising problems winds up harming the taxpayer — the same folks who rode to the rescue of banks with billions of dollars — the denial is downright exasperating.
Among the more glaring bookkeeping fictions on big banks’ balance sheets today are the values they assign to all of the bounteous second mortgage loans. doled out during the mortgage bonanza. As any realist will attest, many of these loans are worth little, and yet there they sit, at fantasy levels, on banks’ ledgers.
Refusing to face reality on second liens ultimately hurts shareholders. But taxpayers are the ones holding the bag when institutions try to avoid losses by refusing to buy back problem loans they have sold to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the mortgage finance giants that are wards of the state.
Fannie and Freddie helped grease the nation’s housing machinery before and during the boom years, scooping up loans from all corners of the country. The more of these that Fannie and Freddie bought, the easier it was for banks to write new mortgages.
To protect themselves from getting piles of garbage loans shoveled their way when they buy mortgages, Fannie and Freddie require lenders or loan servicers to sign contracts requiring those firms to repurchase loans that don’t meet certain standards relating to borrower incomes, job status or assets. Loans that were extended fraudulently, or deemed to have been predatory, are also candidates for buybacks.
Surprise, surprise: banks don’t want to repurchase these loans. So when Fannie or Freddie identify problem mortgages and request repayment, a battle royal begins. Banks may argue, for example, that the repayment requests have flaws of their own.
But for us as taxpayers, watching this battle from the sidelines, one growing concern is how aggressively Fannie and Freddie will pursue their requests. If banks refuse to buy back flawed loans, taxpayers will have to cover more of the losses.
A lot of money is at stake here, and the figure is growing all the time. According to March 31 figures from Freddie, for instance, the amount of problem loans that it has asked other firms to buy back stood at $4.8 billion — up 26 percent from $3.8 billion just three months earlier.
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