Saturday, January 07, 2006

Results of AP-Ipsos Poll on Bush, Congress

What Americans think.
Normally, I don't post polls; such a poll is not left online for long, nor archived. But this speaks volumes, and therefore I have posted the whole thing. Even if the poll is not accurate, it would be slanted in favor of the administration. Be that as it may, this will give the 84% of the readers here (non American and non Canadian) an idea of how Americans are thinking.
Click here to see the results.

More revelations of U.S. illegal spying

More revelations of illegal spying by US government

Over the past week, several new reports have emerged casting additional light on the vast extent of illegal spying carried out by the US government. It is becoming increasingly clear that the government has initiated a major project to collect and database the communications of US citizens and non-citizens, including opponents of the war in Iraq and other policies of the Bush administration.

Risen reports that the NSA has been able to gain access to telecommunications switches, which are routing stations run by a handful of giant companies that direct large quantities of telephone calls and e-mails. “Unknown to most Americans,” Risen writes, “the NSA has extremely close relationships with both the telecommunications and computer industries, according to several government officials. Only a very few top executives in each corporation are aware of such relationships or know about the willingness of the corporations to cooperate on intelligence matters.”

These switches contain both international communications and communications entirely within the US. Because the US controls the Internet infrastructure, much of the world’s e-mail traffic at some point passes through stations located within the United States. “With its direct access to the US telecommunications system, there seems to be no physical or logistical obstacle to prevent the NSA from eavesdropping on anyone in the United States that it chooses,” Risen writes. The program established to allow the NSA spying is a highly secretive “special access program,” with no oversight or accountability required from the NSA regarding the communications it decides to monitor and for what reason.

Read on . . . .

Friday, January 06, 2006

The end of the Sharon Era

The end of the Sharon Era, Time for a New Beginning?

As Ariel Sharon clings to his life after suffering a major stroke, commentators across the globe, including many Arab leaders, are predicting the dire consequences of his removal from the Israeli political scene for the prospects for Israeli-Palestinian peace.

Yet while it is true that with Sharon gone his new party Kedima will likely lose out to a Netanyahu led Likud party, no matter who wins the upcoming Israeli or Palestinian elections the end of the Sharon era will in fact have little impact on the peace process.

This is because for all intents and purposes the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is over, and Israel has won, decisively.

Perhaps with the passing of Sharon, Arafat and the rest of the Israeli and Palestinian old guard, a new generation of leaders on both sides will emerge that has the courage and foresight to imagine a shared future for the two peoples that today remains unimaginable. The alternative is another generation lost to violence, a future neither Israelis nor Palestinians deserve.

Read on. . . .

Israel plunges into political turmoil

Israel: Sharon's stroke plunges Israel into political turmoil.

A life-threatening stroke suffered by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on January 4 has provoked a predictable deluge of hypocritical statements of concern for the fate of a “warrior” turned peacemaker.

The latest stroke has caused massive bleeding in his brain, and there are reports that he is at least partially paralysed.

Even if he recovers, his continued leadership of the Kadima party he created after splitting with Likud is in doubt, as is the outcome of the March election it was projected to win.

Since coming to power in 2001, Sharon, who deliberately provoked the second Intifada in September 2000 with his visit to the Al Aqsa mosque, has presided over a bloodbath that has claimed the lives of close to 3,500 Palestinians and around 450 Israeli civilians. He has also encouraged a massive expansion of Zionist settlements in the occupied territories, with almost half a million settlers now in the West Bank and Jerusalem. His much-lauded pullout of a few thousand settlers from Gaza has provided a cover for the United States to support a land grab that will permanently annex both Jerusalem and at least half of the West Bank to Israel. At the same time, it has provided the Israeli Defence Force (IDF) with the ability to actually step up its military offensive against the Palestinians without factoring in concern for Jewish settlers trapped in Gaza.

The economic suffering caused by Sharon is equally terrible.

Behind the hypocritical eulogies for Sharon and the attempts to unite the disparate factions within Israel’s ruling circles lay grave concerns over the political stability of Israel and the entire Middle East. Tel Aviv’s stock market plunged in early trading January 5, with a 6 percent drop

The conditions are therefore maturing for major social and political struggles within Israel itself.

On top of this, Sharon’s drive to destabilise the Palestinian Authority (PA) and to reduce the Palestinian people to penury has been all too successful. Its impact has produced a broad-based radicalisation and deep-felt anger and hatred of Israeli repression and oppression.

Read on . . . .

Sharon critical; may already be dead.

The battle of words and spin is here, too. While there is no official word of his death, it appears possible. Meanwhile, behind the scenes, you can rest assured that it is very busy.


Reliable sources indicate to Israel Insider that PM Ariel Sharon died at 11 am. Israeli media channels still report his condition is "very grave." Director of Hadassah Hospital Shlomo Mor-Yosef officially denies "rumors" of death and says Sharon's condition is "serious but stable." Channel 10 reports those closest to Sharon as saying he has suffered "brain damage." A likely explanation to reconcile the two reports is that Sharon has suffered brain death -- the lack of cerebral activity -- but that his heart continues beating, while he remains anesthetized and respirated.


Ariel Sharon dead

Thursday, January 05, 2006

The War Against Iran 18 Reports

Ariel Sharon suffers second, major stroke

JERUSALEM - Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon suffered a massive stroke Wednesday and was on a respirator after falling ill at his ranch. Doctors operated to drain excess blood from his brain. Powers were transferred to his deputy, Vice Premier Ehud Olmert.

Dr. Shlomo Mor-Yosef, director of Hadassah Hospital in Jerusalem, said Sharon suffered "a significant stroke," adding that he was "under anesthetic and receiving breathing assistance." A few minutes later, Mor-Yosef emerged to say that initial tests showed Sharon had suffered a cerebral hemorrhage, or bleeding in his brain.

Doctors who have not examined Sharon but are experts in the field said his chances of a full recovery are slim.

"It's among the most dangerous of all types of strokes," with half of victims dying within a month, said Dr. Robert A. Felberg, a neurologist at Ochsner Clinic in New Orleans.

Israel's Sharon Suffers Massive Stroke - Yahoo! News

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Stories today

The possibilities for war with Iran has gone from possible to likely to almost certain. This means many stories. I am posting much at my Politics International blog, and will resume posting much of that here when it slows down. Just click here to go there.

Israel's War Deadline-Iran in the Crosshairs
Terrorists in High Places - That's where they are
Israel preparing to use nuclear weapons
Cartoons - from Al Jazeera - worth a look
Al-Qaeda in Lebanon: More Neocon Hooey
Nuclear War against Iran
Preemptive Nuclear War in a State of Readiness
Is Washington Planning a Military Strike?

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The Coming War with Iran - Recommended Reading

Ook In het Nederlands; zie onderaan.

An excellent series has been written about the whole run-up to the almost certain coming attack on Iran. And then in both English and Dutch. I recommend it highly. And thanks for the tip given to me by Johnito.

In English - The Coming War With Iran - 6 parts, 7th will be translated from Dutch shortly.

In Nederlands - De Komende Oorlog Tegen Iran - 7 delig.

Chicago vs. Hugo Chávez

Rather than accept cheap diesel from Venezuela, the city chose to raise commuting costs for low-income residents.

The Chicago Transit Authority is refusing an opportunity to alleviate commuting costs for hundreds of thousands in the Windy City's low-income neighborhoods. Instead of accepting deeply discounted fuel from the Venezuela-owned Citgo Petroleum Corp., the city is instead raising fares to solve budget shortfalls.

In an October meeting with representatives from the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA), the city's Department of Energy and other city officials, Citgo unveiled a plan to provide Chicago with low-cost diesel fuel. The company's stipulation, at the bidding of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, was that the CTA, in turn, pass those savings on to poor residents in the form of free or discounted fare cards.

But two months later, despite claims of a looming budget crisis, the CTA president "has no intent or plan to accept the offer," according to CTA spokesperson Ibis Antongiorgi. She gave no explanation. According to Venezuela's consul general in Chicago, Martin Sanchez, the CTA has yet to inform his office of its decision to decline the discount offer.

/Read on ....

Why did the Chicago Transit Authority refuse the CITGO oil? One reader tells us why....

The Perfect Storm for wider nuclear conflict

This is a continuation of the foregoing report and spells out some likely consequences of a U.S. attack on Iran.

January 2, 2006

The Perfect Storm for wider nuclear conflict

U.S. political and military officials have also approached Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Jordan, Oman, and Azerbaijan seeking their support for a U.S. attack on Iran. Ina replay of the phony pre-war intelligence on Iraq, Washington is trying to convince various countries that a link exists between Iran and "Al Qaeda."

Polish intelligence sources report that Poland's Defense Minister Radek Sikorski assured Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld of Poland's support for any U.S. strike against Iran.

Sikorski is a former American Enterprise Institute colleague of such neo-cons as Richard Perle, Michael Ledeen, and Lynne Cheney, the so-called "Second Lady" of the United States. Sikorski and Polish Foreign Minister Stefan Meller assured Rumsfeld and Rice, respectively, that Poland would stand by the United States during the split in NATO that will occur as a result of the American strike. Polish intelligence sources, who are unhappy with the arrangement of the new right-wing government in Warsaw with the Bush administration, leaked the information about the recent U.S. demarche to NATO in Brussels about preparation for the attack.

Similar intelligence "leaks" about the U.S. attack plans were also leaked to the German magazine Der Spiegel.

European intelligence sources also report that the recent decision by Putin and Russia's state-owned Gazprom natural gas company to cut supplied of natural gas to Ukraine was a clear warning by Putin to nations like Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Croatia, Moldova, France, Austria, Italy, Hungary, Bosnia, Serbia, and Germany that it would do the same if they support the U.S. attack on Iran.

Intelligence and military officials around the world are also bracing for the results of a U.S. attack on Iran.

In a counter-attack, Iran would immediately launch its Shahab I and II missiles....

The virtual end of NATO as a viable defense organization may also result from an attack that will drive a final wedge between Washington and Europe. And China may elect to respond financially and militarily against the United States

Within the U.S. military and across the globe, there is heightened tension about the intentions of the neocon Bush administration and its allies in Israel.

Report continues here on January 2 page. Scroll down, as there is no permanent link to this report.

U.S. finalizes plans to attack Iran

If Bush decides to go ahead with this, it will have far-reaching consequences for the U.S. and the world. Virtually everything will be susceptible to dire consequences and may even result in wide-spread war, or WW3. Only an insane maniac would make such plans, but coming from the Bush administration, this is not surprising. I can only hope that clearer heads prevail there, and the U.S. does not go through with this devastating insanity.

January 2, 2006 -- Intelligence indications and warnings abound as Bush administration finalizes military attack on Iran. Intelligence and military sources in the United States and abroad are reporting on various factors that indicate a U.S. military hit on Iranian nuclear and military installations, that may involve tactical nuclear weapons, is in the final stages of preparation.

Oil installations and commercial port facilities would likely be relatively untouched by U.S. forces in order to preserve them for U.S. oil and business interests.

There has been a rapid increase in training and readiness at a number of U.S. military installations involved with the planned primarily aerial attack. These include a Pentagon order to Fort Rucker, Alabama, to be prepared to handle an estimated 50,000 to 60,000 trainees, including civilian contractors, who will be deployed for Iranian combat operations.

In addition, there has been an increase in readiness at nearby Hurlburt Field in Florida, the home of the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command.

There has also been a noticeable increase in activity at Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center at Twentynine Palms, California, a primary live fire training activity located in a desert and mountainous environment similar to target areas in Iran.

From European intelligence agencies comes word that the United States has told its NATO allies to be prepared for a military strike on Iranian nuclear development and military installations.

More to read here....on the Jan.2 page; there is no permanent link to this story.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Truth or dare, America

In optimistic moments, it's fun to wonder what the world would be like, if the people who followed Christianity and the world's other assorted religions actually lived their lives by the teachings of the religions they claim to follow. Why, I think we'd have peace on earth.

What if news reporters reported news? What if newspapers from the Washington Post to the Hicksville Gazette simply told the truth, with headlines that “Bush lied yesterday, when he said ...” and “Cheney is a pathological liar”? What if the nightly news was designed to make current events understood, instead of obfuscated?

How furious would your average American be, to discover that everything we the people had been told, everything we'd thought we'd known all our lives, was a mountain of lies, half-lies, three-quarter-lies, "national security" lies, lies we knew were lies, lies we suspected, lies we'd swallowed, lies we'd told ourselves, and lies we'd told each other?

Read on....

Telling it like it isn't

Robert Fisk
I FIRST REALIZED the enormous pressures on American journalists in the Middle East when I went some years ago to say goodbye to a colleague from the Boston Globe. I expressed my sorrow that he was leaving a region where he had obviously enjoyed reporting. I could save my sorrows for someone else, he said.

One of the joys of leaving was that he would no longer have to alter the truth to suit his paper's more vociferous readers. "I used to call the Israeli Likud Party 'right wing,' " he said. "But recently, my editors have been telling me not to use the phrase. A lot of our readers objected."

And so now, I asked? "We just don't call it 'right wing' anymore." Ouch. I knew at once that these "readers" were viewed at his newspaper as Israel's friends, but I also knew that the Likud under Benjamin Netanyahu was as right wing as it had ever been. This is only the tip of the semantic iceberg that has crashed into American journalism in the Middle East.

American television, meanwhile, continues to present war as a bloodless sandpit in which the horrors of conflict — the mutilated bodies of the victims of aerial bombing, torn apart in the desert by wild dogs — are kept off the screen.

Editors in New York and London make sure that viewers' "sensitivities" don't suffer, that we don't indulge in the "pornography" of death (which is exactly what war is) or "dishonor" the dead whom we have just killed.

Our prudish video coverage makes war easier to support, and journalists long ago became complicit with governments in making conflict and death more acceptable to viewers. Television journalism has thus become a lethal adjunct to war.

Read on ....

Extensive illegal spying by US government

New reports expose extensive illegal spying by US government

Recent articles in the US media indicate that the illegal spying organized by the Bush administration has extended far beyond what was initially reported. It is becoming increasingly clear that the US government has been engaging in a massive operation that violates fundamental democratic and constitutional rights.

Following an initial report by the New York Times on December 15, Bush acknowledged that he issued a Presidential order authorizing the National Security Agency (NSA) to spy on some calls made to or from the United States without obtaining the approval of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court. In issuing the order, the administration acted in violation of US law, which requires the NSA to receive a court warrant to monitor any communications involving individuals within the United States.

Citing unnamed current and former government officials, the Times reported on December 24 that “the volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged ... It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system’s main arteries.”

Essentially, this means that the government was not spying on a few hundred individuals at a time, as had been previously reported, but potentially thousands or millions of separate communications, including phone conversations and emails.

Read on....

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Chief Rabbi warns of anti-Semitic 'tsunami

Michael Rivero says it well:

I have warned readers for years that Israel's habit of hiding their crimes behind the world's Jewish people was setting those people to be targets of an eventual backlash. Israel has worked so hard to blur the line between Israel's government and the world's Jewish people that it has worked only too well, and many people are under the erroneous impression that the world's Jewish population do support Israel's apartheid policies, and therefore bear partial responsibility for them.

But in the end, you cannot blame the entire Jewish people for the crimes of Mossad any more than you can blame all Americans for the crimes of the CIA, or all Muslims for the crimes of Al Qaeda (who may be Mossad and CIA anyway). If there is a backlash against Jewish people in general, it will be exactly what Israel wants, so they can go on playing victim, extort money from the rest of the world, and steal yet more Arab lands with impunity.

Read on. . . .

Happy New Year! Gelukkig Nieuw Jaar!

I wish you health, contentment and peace in this New Year.