Sunday, January 27, 2008

The Kennedy's Endorse Obama


A President Like My Father
By Caroline Kennedy
Op-ed Contributer
The New York Times
OVER the years, I’ve been deeply moved by the people who’ve told me they wished they could feel inspired and hopeful about America the way people did when my father was president. This sense is even more profound today. That is why I am supporting a presidential candidate in the Democratic primaries, Barack Obama.

My reasons are patriotic, political and personal, and the three are intertwined. All my life, people have told me that my father changed their lives, that they got involved in public service or politics because he asked them to. And the generation he inspired has passed that spirit on to its children. I meet young people who were born long after John F. Kennedy was president, yet who ask me how to live out his ideals.

Sometimes it takes a while to recognize that someone has a special ability to get us to believe in ourselves, to tie that belief to our highest ideals and imagine that together we can do great things. In those rare moments, when such a person comes along, we need to put aside our plans and reach for what we know is possible.

We have that kind of opportunity with Senator Obama. It isn’t that the other candidates are not experienced or knowledgeable. But this year, that may not be enough. We need a change in the leadership of this country — just as we did in 1960.

Most of us would prefer to base our voting decision on policy differences. However, the candidates’ goals are similar. They have all laid out detailed plans on everything from strengthening our middle class to investing in early childhood education. So qualities of leadership, character and judgment play a larger role than usual.

Senator Obama has demonstrated these qualities throughout his more than two decades of public service, not just in the United States Senate but in Illinois, where he helped turn around struggling communities, taught constitutional law and was an elected state official for eight years. And Senator Obama is showing the same qualities today. He has built a movement that is changing the face of politics in this country, and he has demonstrated a special gift for inspiring young people — known for a willingness to volunteer, but an aversion to politics — to become engaged in the political process.

I have spent the past five years working in the New York City public schools and have three teenage children of my own. There is a generation coming of age that is hopeful, hard-working, innovative and imaginative. But too many of them are also hopeless, defeated and disengaged. As parents, we have a responsibility to help our children to believe in themselves and in their power to shape their future. Senator Obama is inspiring my children, my parents’ grandchildren, with that sense of possibility.

Senator Obama is running a dignified and honest campaign. He has spoken eloquently about the role of faith in his life, and opened a window into his character in two compelling books. And when it comes to judgment, Barack Obama made the right call on the most important issue of our time by opposing the war in Iraq from the beginning.

I want a president who understands that his responsibility is to articulate a vision and encourage others to achieve it; who holds himself, and those around him, to the highest ethical standards; who appeals to the hopes of those who still believe in the American Dream, and those around the world who still believe in the American ideal; and who can lift our spirits, and make us believe again that our country needs every one of us to get involved.

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Also See:

  • Kennedy to Endorse Obama | New York Times Blog
    Senator Edward M. Kennedy intends to endorse the presidential candidacy of Senator Barack Obama during a rally on Monday in Washington.

    The Kennedy endorsement has been underway for days, even before the outcome of the South Carolina primary. Mr. Kennedy told his decision to Mr. Obama on Thursday.

    “I’ve had ongoing conversations with Ted since I’ve got into this race,” Mr. Obama told reporters today as he flew to Alabama.

    Of all the endorsements in the Democratic Party, Mr. Kennedy’s is viewed as the most weighty. He had vowed to stay out of the presidential nominating fight, but as the contest expands into a state-by-state fight – and given the tone of the race in the last week – associates said he was moved to announce his support for Mr. Obama....
  • The Billary Road to Republican Victory | Frank Rich | New York Times
Photo Credit: President John F. Kennedy with daughter Caroline Kennedy. Medaloffreedom.com

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The Danse Macabre Of Us-Style Democracy

By John�Pilger
... What struck me, living and working in the United States, was that presidential campaigns were a parody, entertaining and often grotesque. They are a ritual danse macabre of flags, balloons and bullshit, designed to camouflage a venal system based on money power, human division and a culture of permanent war.

Travelling with Robert Kennedy in 1968 was eye-opening for me. To audiences of the poor, Kennedy would present himself as a saviour. The words "change" and "hope" were used relentlessly and cynically. For audiences of fearful whites, he would use racist codes, such as "law and order". With those opposed to the invasion of Vietnam, he would attack "putting American boys in the line of fire", but never say when he would withdraw them. That year (after Kennedy was assassinated), Richard Nixon used a version of the same, malleable speech to win the presidency. Thereafter, it was used successfully by Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and the two Bushes. Carter promised a foreign policy based on "human rights" - and practised the very opposite. Reagan's "freedom agenda" was a bloodbath in central America. Clinton "solemnly pledged" universal health care and tore down the last safety net of the Depression.

Nothing has changed. Barack Obama is ... CONTINUE READING.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Barack Obama Speaks at Dr. King's Church

Another inspiring speech from Barack Obama delivered on the day before the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday to the congregation of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia:



The full text of the speech is below.

Remarks of Senator Barack Obama: The Great Need of the Hour

Atlanta, GA | January 20, 2008

The Scripture tells us that when Joshua and the Israelites arrived at the gates of Jericho, they could not enter. The walls of the city were too steep for any one person to climb; too strong to be taken down with brute force. And so they sat for days, unable to pass on through.

But God had a plan for his people. He told them to stand together and march together around the city, and on the seventh day he told them that when they heard the sound of the ram's horn, they should speak with one voice. And at the chosen hour, when the horn sounded and a chorus of voices cried out together, the mighty walls of Jericho came tumbling down.

There are many lessons to take from this passage, just as there are many lessons to take from this day, just as there are many memories that fill the space of this church. As I was thinking about which ones we need to remember at this hour, my mind went back to the very beginning of the modern Civil Rights Era.

Because before Memphis and the mountaintop; before the bridge in Selma and the march on Washington; before Birmingham and the beatings; the fire hoses and the loss of those four little girls; before there was King the icon and his magnificent dream, there was King the young preacher and a people who found themselves suffering under the yoke of oppression.

And on the eve of the bus boycotts in Montgomery, at a time when many were still doubtful about the possibilities of change, a time when those in the black community mistrusted themselves, and at times mistrusted each other, King inspired with words not of anger, but of an urgency that still speaks to us today:

"Unity is the great need of the hour" is what King said. Unity is how we shall overcome.

What Dr. King understood is that if just one person chose to walk instead of ride the bus, those walls of oppression would not be moved. But maybe if a few more walked, the foundation might start to shake. If a few more women were willing to do what Rosa Parks had done, maybe the cracks would start to show. If teenagers took freedom rides from North to South, maybe a few bricks would come loose. Maybe if white folks marched because they had come to understand that their freedom too was at stake in the impending battle, the wall would begin to sway. And if enough Americans were awakened to the injustice; if they joined together, North and South, rich and poor, Christian and Jew, then perhaps that wall would come tumbling down, and justice would flow like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.

Unity is the great need of the hour -- the great need of this hour. Not because it sounds pleasant or because it makes us feel good, but because it's the only way we can overcome the essential deficit that exists in this country.

I'm not talking about a budget deficit. I'm not talking about a trade deficit. I'm not talking about a deficit of good ideas or new plans.

I'm talking about a moral deficit. I'm talking about an empathy deficit. I'm taking about an inability to recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother's keeper; we are our sister's keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.

We have an empathy deficit when we're still sending our children down corridors of shame -- schools in the forgotten corners of America where the color of your skin still affects the content of your education.

We have a deficit when CEOs are making more in ten minutes than some workers make in ten months; when families lose their homes so that lenders make a profit; when mothers can't afford a doctor when their children get sick.

We have a deficit in this country when there is Scooter Libby justice for some and Jena justice for others; when our children see nooses hanging from a schoolyard tree today, in the present, in the twenty-first century.

We have a deficit when homeless veterans sleep on the streets of our cities; when innocents are slaughtered in the deserts of Darfur; when young Americans serve tour after tour of duty in a war that should've never been authorized and never been waged.

And we have a deficit when it takes a breach in our levees to reveal a breach in our compassion; when it takes a terrible storm to reveal the hungry that God calls on us to feed; the sick He calls on us to care for; the least of these He commands that we treat as our own.

So we have a deficit to close. We have walls -- barriers to justice and equality -- that must come down. And to do this, we know that unity is the great need of this hour.

Unfortunately, all too often when we talk about unity in this country, we've come to believe that it can be purchased on the cheap. We've come to believe that racial reconciliation can come easily -- that it's just a matter of a few ignorant people trapped in the prejudices of the past, and that if the demagogues and those who exploit our racial divisions will simply go away, then all our problems would be solved.

All too often, we seek to ignore the profound institutional barriers that stand in the way of ensuring opportunity for all children, or decent jobs for all people, or health care for those who are sick. We long for unity, but are unwilling to pay the price.

But of course, true unity cannot be so easily won. It starts with a change in attitudes -- a broadening of our minds, and a broadening of our hearts.

It's not easy to stand in somebody else's shoes. It's not easy to see past our differences. We've all encountered this in our own lives. But what makes it even more difficult is that we have a politics in this country that seeks to drive us apart -- that puts up walls between us.

We are told that those who differ from us on a few things are different from us on all things; that our problems are the fault of those who don't think like us or look like us or come from where we do. The welfare queen is taking our tax money. The immigrant is taking our jobs. The believer condemns the non-believer as immoral, and the non-believer chides the believer as intolerant.

For most of this country's history, we in the African-American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays -- on the job, in the schools, in our health care system, and in our criminal justice system.

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

Every day, our politics fuels and exploits this kind of division across all races and regions; across gender and party. It is played out on television. It is sensationalized by the media. And last week, it even crept into the campaign for President, with charges and counter-charges that served to obscure the issues instead of illuminating the critical choices we face as a nation.

So let us say that on this day of all days, each of us carries with us the task of changing our hearts and minds. The division, the stereotypes, the scape-goating, the ease with which we blame our plight on others -- all of this distracts us from the common challenges we face -- war and poverty; injustice and inequality. We can no longer afford to build ourselves up by tearing someone else down. We can no longer afford to traffic in lies or fear or hate. It is the poison that we must purge from our politics; the wall that we must tear down before the hour grows too late.

Because if Dr. King could love his jailor; if he could call on the faithful who once sat where you do to forgive those who set dogs and fire hoses upon them, then surely we can look past what divides us in our time, and bind up our wounds, and erase the empathy deficit that exists in our hearts.

But if changing our hearts and minds is the first critical step, we cannot stop there. It is not enough to bemoan the plight of poor children in this country and remain unwilling to push our elected officials to provide the resources to fix our schools. It is not enough to decry the disparities of health care and yet allow the insurance companies and the drug companies to block much-needed reforms. It is not enough for us to abhor the costs of a misguided war, and yet allow ourselves to be driven by a politics of fear that sees the threat of attack as way to scare up votes instead of a call to come together around a common effort.

The Scripture tells us that we are judged not just by word, but by deed. And if we are to truly bring about the unity that is so crucial in this time, we must find it within ourselves to act on what we know; to understand that living up to this country's ideals and its possibilities will require great effort and resources; sacrifice and stamina.

And that is what is at stake in the great political debate we are having today. The changes that are needed are not just a matter of tinkering at the edges, and they will not come if politicians simply tell us what we want to hear. All of us will be called upon to make some sacrifice. None of us will be exempt from responsibility. We will have to fight to fix our schools, but we will also have to challenge ourselves to be better parents. We will have to confront the biases in our criminal justice system, but we will also have to acknowledge the deep-seated violence that still resides in our own communities and marshal the will to break its grip.

That is how we will bring about the change we seek. That is how Dr. King led this country through the wilderness. He did it with words -- words that he spoke not just to the children of slaves, but the children of slave owners. Words that inspired not just black but also white; not just the Christian but the Jew; not just the Southerner but also the Northerner.

He led with words, but he also led with deeds. He also led by example. He led by marching and going to jail and suffering threats and being away from his family. He led by taking a stand against a war, knowing full well that it would diminish his popularity. He led by challenging our economic structures, understanding that it would cause discomfort. Dr. King understood that unity cannot be won on the cheap; that we would have to earn it through great effort and determination.

That is the unity -- the hard-earned unity -- that we need right now. It is that effort, and that determination, that can transform blind optimism into hope -- the hope to imagine, and work for, and fight for what seemed impossible before.

The stories that give me such hope don't happen in the spotlight. They don't happen on the presidential stage. They happen in the quiet corners of our lives. They happen in the moments we least expect. Let me give you an example of one of those stories.

There is a young, twenty-three year old white woman named Ashley Baia who organizes for our campaign in Florence, South Carolina. She's been working to organize a mostly African-American community since the beginning of this campaign, and the other day she was at a roundtable discussion where everyone went around telling their story and why they were there.

And Ashley said that when she was nine years old, her mother got cancer. And because she had to miss days of work, she was let go and lost her health care. They had to file for bankruptcy, and that's when Ashley decided that she had to do something to help her mom.

She knew that food was one of their most expensive costs, and so Ashley convinced her mother that what she really liked and really wanted to eat more than anything else was mustard and relish sandwiches. Because that was the cheapest way to eat.

She did this for a year until her mom got better, and she told everyone at the roundtable that the reason she joined our campaign was so that she could help the millions of other children in the country who want and need to help their parents too.

So Ashley finishes her story and then goes around the room and asks everyone else why they're supporting the campaign. They all have different stories and reasons. Many bring up a specific issue. And finally they come to this elderly black man who's been sitting there quietly the entire time. And Ashley asks him why he's there. And he does not bring up a specific issue. He does not say health care or the economy. He does not say education or the war. He does not say that he was there because of Barack Obama. He simply says to everyone in the room, "I am here because of Ashley."

By itself, that single moment of recognition between that young white girl and that old black man is not enough. It is not enough to give health care to the sick, or jobs to the jobless, or education to our children.

But it is where we begin. It is why the walls in that room began to crack and shake.

And if they can shake in that room, they can shake in Atlanta.

And if they can shake in Atlanta, they can shake in Georgia.

And if they can shake in Georgia, they can shake all across America. And if enough of our voices join together; we can bring those walls tumbling down. The walls of Jericho can finally come tumbling down. That is our hope -- but only if we pray together, and work together, and march together.

Brothers and sisters, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for peace and justice, we cannot walk alone.

In the struggle for opportunity and equality, we cannot walk alone

In the struggle to heal this nation and repair this world, we cannot walk alone.

So I ask you to walk with me, and march with me, and join your voice with mine, and together we will sing the song that tears down the walls that divide us, and lift up an America that is truly indivisible, with liberty, and justice, for all. May God bless the memory of the great pastor of this church, and may God bless the United States of America.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Noam Chomsky: Israel, Palestine and Apartheid


Chomsky says U.S. backing of continued Israeli occupation and annexation of Palestinian land is the biggest obstacle to peace.
This is from conference The Apartheid Paradigm in Palestine/Israel: Issues of Justice and Equality. The video was broadcasted by Democracy Now! on November 27, 2007.

Transcript

Oh Those Pesky Missing Whitehouse E-mails...


Peter Yost reports:
"Apparent gaps in White House e-mail archives coincide with dates in late 2003 and early 2004 when the administration was struggling to deal with the CIA leak investigation and the possibility of a congressional probe into Iraq intelligence failures.

The gaps — 473 days over a period of 20 months — are cited in a chart prepared by White House computer technicians and shared in September with the House Reform and Government Oversight Committee, which has been looking into reports of missing e-mail.

Among the times for which e-mail may not have been archived from Vice President Dick Cheney's office are four days in early October 2003, just as a federal probe was beginning into the leak of Valerie Plame's CIA identity, an inquiry that eventually ensnared Cheney's chief of staff.

Contents of the chart — which the White House now disputes — were disclosed Thursday by Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who chairs the House committee, as he announced plans for a Feb. 15 hearing.

Waxman said he decided to release details from the White House-prepared chart after presidential spokesman Tony Fratto declared 'we have absolutely no reason to believe that any e-mails are missing.'"

Continue Reading.
Photo Credit: Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif. is shown in this 2006 file photo on Capitol Hill in Washington. Waxman said a White House spokesman's statements Thursday in the controversy over missing e-mail conflict with what congressional staffers were told four months ago. (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke, FILE)

Bill Moyers on Martin Luther King, LBJ,










(Click above to watch video.)

Bill Moyers:
"Many, many years ago, I was a young White House Assistant, when President Johnson at first wanted Martin Luther King to call off the marching, demonstrations, and protests. The civil rights movement had met massive resistance in the South, and the South, because of the seniority system, controlled Congress, making it virtually impossible for Congress to enact laws giving full citizenship to black Americans, no matter how desperate their lives."

Yes, Obama Won Nevada

If you were as confused as I by the pundit's take on just who won the Democratic Caucuses in Nevada, this should clear things up:

Chris Bowers of Open Left writes:
"Imagine if, the day after the 2000 election, the national media simply didn't care about what happened in Florida, and instead acted as though Al Gore had won the election because he won the popular vote. Imagine if all cries from the Bush campaign about something called 'The Electoral College' fell on deaf ears, and everyone just acted like Gore won and the popular vote was the only thing that mattered. States? Who cares about the results of individual states? Only the popular vote matters, dummies!"

Continue Reading.

War on Greed: Fight for the Dream

In honor of Martin Luther King's birthday, this from Robert Greenwald and the Brave New Films crew:
Today we honor Dr. King's birthday. We all know him because of his historic impact on civil rights, but many don't realize that later in life he fought just as passionately for the rights of workers and against the entrenched institutions of injustice.

"Equality means dignity. And dignity demands a job and a paycheck that lasts through the week."

The War on Greed is exactly this kind of fight. The livelihoods of families have been directly attacked by the actions of buyout billionaires like Henry Kravis putting Wall Street's special interests ahead of his 800,000 employees... and pocketing $51,000 an hour in the process.
Watch the video: War on Greed: Fight for the Dream

The first step must be taxing these buyout billionaires at a fair tax rate. It will not solve all the problems, but it is a strong and forceful beginning. With the presidential campaigns underway, it is the perfect time to force this issue into the campaigns the way we did with Wal-Mart and Iraq for Sale.

As our friend Rev. Yearwood, leader of the Hip Hop Caucus, has said: "We are facing a lunch counter moment for the 21st century."

Please join us at our virtual lunch counter by signing the petition to presidential candidates demanding they pledge to close the loopholes and tax the tax dodgers. Buyout billionaires are a menace to our economy. People are hurting, badly, and we must take beginning steps to bring the issue of corporate greed and economic equality to the nation's attention.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Breaking: Judge says MSNBC Debate Must Include Kucinich

-from the Los Angeles Times:
A judge in Nevada has just ordered MSNBC to include Rep. Dennis Kucinich in Tuesday's Democratic Party presidential debate in Las Vegas or he will
cancel the forum.

Senior Clark County District Court Judge Charles Thompson vowed to issue an injunction halting the nationally televised debate if MSNBC failed to
comply. Kucinich had filed a lawsuit seeking to be included just this morning.

The judge ruled it was a matter of fairness and Nevada voters would benefit from hearing from more than just Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama. Kucinich had been invited to participate in the 6 p.m. Pacific debate Tuesday, but that invitation was rescinded last week ... So set up a fourth podium.

Andrew Malcolm, correspondent - The Los Angeles Times
FINALLY, the principle that we are a nation of laws and not of corporate media control has prevailed. And without your support, your phone calls and emails and letters, this issue might never have attracted the national attention it has.

BUT, while Dennis is preparing to go to Nevada - court order in hand - to represent your interests, expect that MSNBC, NBC, its parent company GE, and dozens of other alphabet-soup corporations in the nation will start filing appeals on top of appeals to keep Dennis out of the debate and try to deplete our limited financial resources. Multi-billion corporations don't want Dennis on that stage Tuesday night. And they will do everything; spend anything they need to make sure that his voice - your voice - is not heard. The law is on our side, but the dollars are on theirs.

NOW, more than ever, we need your continued financial support to stop megalomania-media from robbing you of your Constitutional rights, taking control of the American electoral process, and hand-picking the candidates they want you to choose from.

Defend your rights today. Make a contribution today to the only candidate who is willing to challenge the powerful interests that want to control you.

They will try to outspend us, but, with your help, they won't be able to out-fight us. Please, contribute whatever you can to defend your rights, and ask everyone you know to do the same.

We won today, but tomorrow is another battle.

Strength through Peace
Kucinich Campaign

Koo-sin-ich

If you want real change, there is only one candidate who is actually doing what he says he will do.



Trouble viewing this video? Click here.

Please spread this video and word about the Kucinich campaign widely. Copy and paste the Koo-sin-ich Remix & Original Koo-sin-ich Video links into an e-mail to your friends, especially your friends who don't know who Kucinich is.

Get involved with the Kucinich Campaign:
http://www.dennis4president.com

"Dennis Thumbs Up" source footage from George Lois' 2004 Kucinich TV ad (used with permission):
http://www.goodkarmacreative.net

Music track featured in the spot by Hybrid:
http://www.hybridsoundsystem.com

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Hillary Wants 5 More Years of This

Iraqi Children Pay Heavy Price of War
...Despite all evidence, some political leaders continue to insist that the situation in Iraq is improving, as though the brutal TV images of the war were part of the collective imagination, as if the continuous carnage in Iraq's main cities had truly stopped.

The chasm between the people's view of reality and that of their leaders has rarely been greater. That those who pay the highest price are innocent children is the most severe indictment against the war.

MUST READ the entire article.

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Cossiga: US, Mossad behind 9/11


Press TV reports:
Former Italian President Francesco Cossiga says global intelligence agencies assert the 9/11 attacks were run by the CIA and Mossad.

Although Osama bin Laden has confessed to launching the attacks, now all the European and American intelligence services are well aware that the attacks were planned by the CIA and the Zionists' Mossad, Cossiga told Corriere della Sera.

The disastrous attack was aimed to put the Muslim world under powerful accusations and drum up support for the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, the former Italian president added.

Cossiga first expressed doubts about 9/11 in 2001, and is quoted in Webster Tarpley's book titled 9/11 Synthetic Terror Made in the USA as stating that, "The mastermind of the attack must have been a sophisticated mind, provided with ample means not only to recruit fanatic kamikazes, but also highly specialized personnel.

He went on to add that the attack could not have been accomplished without penetration into the ranks of radar and flight security personnel.

CS/HAR
Photo: Francesco Cossiga (PressTV)

Friday, January 11, 2008

More Bush Lies to Ratchet Rhetoric for War with Iran


(U.S. Pentagon's version of the "confrontation.")

The following should come as no surprise to anyone who has witnessed Bush administration lies over the last seven years. The audio tape attached to the government released video of the recent "naval incident" in the Strait of Hormuz was almost laughable. The voice sounded like a bad American actor trying to sound like an Iranian terrorist speaking English.

I don't know about the rest of you, but I immediately said to my spouse that this looked like another lame attempt of the Bush administration to invent an incident to help make their case for war with Iran. They have been ratcheting up the rhetoric on Iran ever since the intelligence estimate indicated they were not an immediate nuclear threat to the U.S. or others in their region.

As ever, the mainstream spinmeisters cooperate by reporting whatever they are fed by the fed without digging to find out the real facts. Their complicity in the Bush agenda is, despite their apologies about their Iraq reporting, ongoing and completely irresponsible.

The 2008 election cannot come soon enough. I only hope we vote for our intereststhis time....


Iran's version of the incident.

Official Version of Naval Incident Starts to Unravel | By Gareth Porter | IPS:
Despite the official and media portrayal of the incident in the Strait of Hormuz early Monday morning as a serious threat to U.S. ships from Iranian speedboats that nearly resulted in a "battle at sea", new information over the past three days suggests that the incident did not involve such a threat and that no U.S. commander was on the verge of firing at the Iranian boats.

The new information that appears to contradict the original version of the incident includes the revelation that U.S. officials spliced the audio recording of an alleged Iranian threat onto to a videotape of the incident. That suggests that the threatening message may not have come in immediately after the initial warning to Iranian boats from a U.S. warship, as appears to do on the video.

Also unraveling the story is testimony from a former U.S. naval officer that non-official chatter is common on the channel used to communicate with the Iranian boats and testimony from the commander of the U.S. 5th fleet that the commanding officers of the U.S. warships involved in the incident never felt the need to warn the Iranians of a possible use of force against them.

Further undermining the U.S. version of the incident is a video released by Iran Thursday showing an Iranian naval officer on a small boat hailing one of three ships.

The Iranian commander is heard to say, "Coalition warship 73, this is Iranian navy patrol boat." He then requests the "side numbers" of the U.S. warships. A voice with a U.S. accent replies, "This is coalition warship 73. I am operating in international waters."

The dramatic version of the incident reported by U.S. news media throughout Tuesday and Wednesday suggested that Iranian speedboats, apparently belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard navy, had made moves to attack three U.S. warships entering the Strait and that the U.S. commander had been on the verge of firing at them when they broke off.

Typical of the network coverage was a story by ABC's Jonathan Karl quoting a Pentagon official as saying the Iranian boats "were a heartbeat from being blown up".

Bush administration officials seized on the incident to advance the portrayal of Iran as a threat and to strike a more threatening stance toward Iran. National Security Adviser Stephen Hadley declared Wednesday that the incident "almost involved an exchange of fire between our forces and Iranian forces". President George W. Bush declared during his Mideast trip Wednesday that there would be "serious consequences" if Iran attacked U.S. ships and repeated his assertion that Iran is "a threat to world peace".

Central to the depiction of the incident as involving a threat to U.S. warships is a mysterious pair of messages that the sailor who heard them onboard immediately interpreted as saying, "I am coming at you...", and "You will explode after a few minutes." But the voice in the audio clearly said "I am coming to you," and the second message was much less clear.

Furthermore, as the New York Times noted Thursday, the recording carries no ambient noise, such as the sounds of a motor, the sea or wind, which should have been audible if the broadcast had been made from one of the five small Iranian boats....

Continue reading.

Related Articles:

Thursday, January 10, 2008

The "Good War" is a Bad War

By John Pilger
In his latest article for the New Statesman, John Pilger describes how the invasion of Afghanistan, which was widely supported in the West as a 'good war' and justifiable response to 9/11, was actually planned months before 9/11 and is the latest instalment of 'a great game'.

This article is a MUST READ.

Sliming Obama

FactCheck.org reports:
Dueling chain e-mails claim he's a radical Muslim or a 'racist' Christian. Both can't be right. We find both are false.

Read the analysis. Get the truth.

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A HEALTH CARE SYSTEM TO DIE FOR

By Paul Krugman - New York Times Blog

Rudy Giuliani warned us about what would happen if a Democrat wins:
You have got to see the trap. Otherwise we are in for a disaster. We are in for Canadian health care, French health care, British health care.

And that would be a terrible thing:

In "Measuring the Health of Nations: Updating an Earlier Analysis" (Health Affairs, Jan./Feb. 2008), Ellen Nolte, Ph.D., and C. Martin McKee, M.D., D.Sc., both of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, compared international rates of "amenable mortality"—that is, deaths from certain causes before age 75 that are potentially preventable with timely and effective health care.

And you see what that tells us:

(Click Chart for Larger View)


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MUST SEE: Freedom of Speech and H.R. 1955



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  • Gould-Wartofsky, Seven Steps to a Homeland Security Campus
    Consider the ultimate gift in a homeland security country: the iTaser, a weapon with its own MP3 player and earphones that can deliver a 50,000 volt electrical charge while you catch your favorite tunes. This new Taser, on display at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, will be available, reports Richard Wray of the British Guardian, in "red, pink and even leopard print designs." Anyone carrying the iTaser will be able to make what may be the first homeland-security fashion statement in any one of the 43 states where Tasers are legal. The company that makes the weapon, Taser International, has already sold 160,000 less-stylish versions to private individuals. According to founder and company CEO Rick Smith, "Personal protection can be both fashionable and functionable."

    In November 2006, the Taser infamously broke into the news on campus when a student at the University of Florida, questioning Senator John Kerry harshly, was dragged off, Tased, and subdued by campus police. His plea, "Don't Tase me, Bro!," is now the stuff of bumper stickers, T-shirts, and cell phone ring tones. Thanks largely to him and the publicity the incident got, the New Oxford Dictionary made "Tase" one of its 2007 words of the year, the Yale Book of Quotations put it at the top of its yearly list of most memorable quotes, and the rest of us got a hint that something new might be happening in America's "ivory towers."

    As Michael Gould-Wartofsky indicates below, that incident was just the tip of an enormous homeland-security presence on campus. Gould-Wartofsky's remarkable report -- a piece that the Nation Magazine and Tomdispatch.com are sharing -- offers real news about just how deeply the new homeland security state is settling into every aspect of our world. --TomDispatch.com
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Wednesday, January 09, 2008

A Surge of More Lies

By Congressman Robert Wexler
A new troubling myth has taken hold in Washington and it is critical that the record is set straight. According to the mainstream media, Republicans, and unfortunately even some Democrats, the President's surge in Iraq has been a resounding success. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.

This assertion is disingenuous, factually incorrect, and negatively impacts America's national security. The Surge had a clear and defined objective to create stability and security - enabling the Iraqi government to enact lasting political solutions and foster genuine reconciliation and cooperation between Sunnis, Shias, and Kurds. This has not happened.

There has been negligible political progress in Iraq, and we are no closer to solving the complex problems - including a power sharing government, oil revenue agreement and new constitution - than we were before the Administration upped the ante and sent 30,000 more troops to Iraq.

Too many Democrats in Congress are again surrendering to General Petraeus and have failed to challenge the Bush Administration's claims that the surge has been successful. In fact -- it is just the opposite.

The reduction in violence in Iraq has exposed the continuing failure of Iraqi officials to solve their substantial political rifts. By President Bush's own stated goal of political progress, the Surge has failed.

Of course raising troop levels has increased security - a strategy the Bush administration ignored when presented by General Shinseki before the war in Iraq began - but the fundamental internal Iraqi problems remain and the factors that were accelerating the civil war in 2007 have simply been put on hold.

The military progress is a testament to the patience and dedication of our brave troops even in the face of 15 month-long deployments followed by insufficient Veteran's health services when they return home. They have performed brilliantly despite the insult of having President Bush recently veto a military spending bill that enhanced funding and benefits, and increased care.

Despite the efforts of American soldiers, the surge alone cannot bring about the political solutions needed to end centuries of sectarian divide.

As it stands, little on the ground supports the assertion that Iraqis are ready to stand up and govern themselves. Too few Iraqi troops are trained, equipped and combat ready, and they cannot yet provide adequate security. Loyalty is also an issue in the Iraqi army as Al Queda and Sunni insurgents infliltrate their defense forces. The consequences turned deadly just recently when an Iraqi soldier purposely killed two U.S. troops.

On the streets of Baghdad and Mosul, the Sunni and Shia factions have paused their fighting, awaiting guarantees and protections that have not yet been delivered. As Iraqi refugees return, there is no mechanism to help them rebuild their lives, nor recover their now-occupied homes. Neighborhoods once mixed are now segregated.

In Northern Iraq, Kurdish terrorists conducting nefarious operations across the border into Turkey have compelled our NATO ally to strike at bases, inflaming tensions between Baghdad and Ankara.

The surge is working? We suffered more U.S. casualties in 2007 than in any other year of the war. We can't afford any more of this type of success.

How can we create the situation that is most likely to deliver political progress in Iraq? Not by continuing the surge and occupation. Our best chance (there is no guarantee) is by putting real pressure on the Iraqi government to force action. Telling the national and local Iraqi leaders that we are withdrawing our troops can help accomplish this goal. Today, the majority Iraqi Shia government led by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has little incentive to act when American troops remain in the country to provide security and stability.

Based on the Administration's plan, John McCain's proposal of a 100-year US occupation could be a reality!

The Democratic Congress must act aggressively to first cut off funding for the surge and then the entire war. Many of my colleagues avoided a showdown with the administration because they mistakenly believed such a fight would endanger the safety of the troops.

In fact, we must accept that every soldier killed or injured in the coming months should have already been home. Every billion dollars of war-appropriations we spend from here on should have been spent on genuine priorities here at home such as children's heath care.

Enough is enough: While the Administration over-commits American forces in Iraq, we see Al Qaeda-regrouping and Osama Bin Laden still at large. We remain seriously bogged down in Afghanistan, and are witnessing a crisis in Pakistan that has left a nuclear country on the brink of a meltdown. America's resources and attention are desperately needed elsewhere and our soldiers must no longer be needlessly sacrificed as we wait for Iraqis to stand up.

The Surge has failed. If my colleagues gullibly accept the moving rationale for the Surge, just as so many have for the war itself, we will have failed as well.

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Dowd Nails Hillary's Melt-Down

Can Hillary Cry Her Way Back to the White House?

By Maureen Dowd
"...There was a poignancy about the moment, seeing Hillary crack with exhaustion from decades of yearning to be the principal rather than the plus-one. But there was a whiff of Nixonian self-pity about her choking up. What was moving her so deeply was her recognition that the country was failing to grasp how much it needs her. In a weirdly narcissistic way, she was crying for us. But it was grimly typical of her that what finally made her break down was the prospect of losing....

"...Yet, in the end, she had to fend off calamity by playing the female victim, both of Obama and of the press. Hillary has barely talked to the press throughout her race even though the Clintons this week whined mightily that the press prefers Obama.

Bill Clinton, campaigning in Henniker on Monday, also played the poor-little-woman card in a less-than-flattering way. “I can’t make her younger, taller or change her gender,” he said. He was so low-energy at events that it sometimes seemed he was distancing himself from her. Now that she is done with New Hampshire, she may distance herself from him, realizing that seeing Bill so often reminds voters that they don’t want to go back to that whole megillah again.

Hillary sounded silly trying to paint Obama as a poetic dreamer and herself as a prodigious doer. “Dr. King’s dream began to be realized when President Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act,” she said. Did any living Democrat ever imagine that any other living Democrat would try to win a presidential primary in New Hampshire by comparing herself to L.B.J.? (Who was driven out of politics by Gene McCarthy in New Hampshire.)

Her argument against Obama now boils down to an argument against idealism, which is probably the lowest and most unlikely point to which any Clinton could sink. The people from Hope are arguing against hope...."Read more.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

How Green is Your Candidate?

Grist has done the research and provided valuable information about where the presidential candidates fall on the Green scale.

Interviews and information on the presidential candidates' energy plans and environmental positions are provided. You can also compare the candidate's green positions in this chart allowing you to quickly contrast where the presidential contenders stand on climate and energy issues.

Finally, you can watch video of "some of the candidates speaking at the first-ever presidential candidate forum focused on climate change and energy policy, cosponsored by Grist."

"Grist also teamed up with Outside to interview presidential contenders about green issues. [They've] published Q&As with all of the Democrats and a number of the Republicans. [They've] also compiled fact sheets on the candidates, with their current platforms, voting records, video, audio, and more" to be updated "as the campaigns unfold."

Illustration: Grist.org