Sunday, June 26, 2005

It Could Be So Much Worse, eh?

So here's the story behind the kvetching about my job(s). I used to sew a lot, both for myself and semi-professionally, making specialized costumes for dancers. The kids were finally old enough, and I was venturing into the regular business world. Costumes are fun, but they don't pay the bills. Sewing for neurotic, damanding clients who have no idea the value they were receiving (because they DON'T sew) was just too stressful. Working in a fabric store seemed a natural. It was great fun, and I could leave the job at the store, as opposed to obsessing about commissions 24/7. Things were going well. I was even promoted to supervisor, learning to handle the cash and inventory. I'd have been at this place a year in April (yes! raise coming!) I added the office temping as a backup to support my sweetie's new business venture.

What happened? Apparently though on the surface all was well, this company had had serious cash flow problems for years. We got the "don't worry" letter in January. "We're restructuring. We're closing two stores in town, but the other three will be fine, and you will have the opportunity to switch to one of the remaining locations, blah, blah". Okaaay . . . . . .

Fortunately, I work at the head office location, so regardless, I knew that store would be fine. Three stores could easily absorb the staff of the ones that were closing. Everything seemed to be moving along right up to the end of April. The Bank pulled the plug that Friday. The Receiver's letter came on Sunday, posted in the staffroom. What a masterpiece of insult. No obligations contracted by the company to any salaried employees were in effect anymore, i.e. my lovely manager's severance agreement was gone, reduction in benefits to wage folk, and "we are pleased to retain you at your present salary, paid bi-weekly, until we terminate your position." And by the way, we only have to give you 24 hours notice. "Thank you for your cooperation in this time of transition."


But the worst was the practically instantaneous change in the character of the customers. As I live and breathe, I never thought I would see such behaviour from "civilized" and may I add well-off (the store is in a fairly affluent part of town) people.

All of the sudden, it's perfectly ok to leave bolts of silk drapery unravelled all over the floor. To pull bolts from all over, and dump them whereever you happen to get distracted. To switch discount tags ("I"m sorry madam, but the heavy cream chenille upholstery you have there, just doesn't sell for $9.99. Did you notice the roll it's on says grey organza?") Or just outright steal the material. We find empty bolts tucked everywhere. But the hardest thing is how rude and demanding people are being, because they are being inconvenienced.

They were mad for the first week because there weren't any more special orders. The second week because the lines were so long, they had to wait. The third week because there wasn't enough of the perfect thing they found and we aren't (can't, really) doing any more interstore checks. Or phone checks to see if we have the exact colour and length of zipper ("I'm sorry ma'am but I have 16 people in line for cash. I really can't go look". Huffs and hangs up). They still want all the consultation help they used to get. ("Well, I'm not really sure how big my windows are and I don't know what kind of rod I have, but I want to make drapes. How much do I need?") And so on. And for every person who says "I'm so sorry, I hope you all will be able to find work.", there are ten who whine "But, where are we going to shop??" and "will there be any more discounts before you close?" It's like a lake of pirhanas.

I think of how tired I am at the end of a full shift. The average bold of fleece weighs about 8lbs, and you handle an average of 60 bolts a shift. That's JUST fleece, nevermind the quilting cottons or drapery and vinyl, etc. . Or how difficult it is to hold my tongue when some woman (and it's ALWAYS a woman) tells me some variation on how "our attitude and customer service has dropped shamefully, since we started to close." That "She is never coming back again". Oh honey, do you ever listen to what you are actually saying? We are in the seventh week of an After Christmas-type sale. We are all exhausted and we are all losing our jobs. Sometimes we're just not feeling perky! And by the way, GOOD. We've got more than enough to deal with, without you too.

But when I think about all that, I still can't feel badly. I have a great life. I am blessed beyond measure and nothing, nothing I have to deal with is an inconvenience. What if I had to live the life of the poor women and men who are trapped in the ever-shrinking Isreali-created ghetto that is the Occupied Territories? These are people who are stronger and braver than any of us could dream. That they must be strong and brave, because their situation is being ignored, is the shame of the entire Western World.

Blue Ibis

Signs June 18, 2005

Ran HaCohen: The Quiet Occupation

Friday, June 17 2005
By Ran HaCohen

(ANTIWAR.COM) - What is the first picture the term "occupation" raises in our mind? Probably some kind of extreme violence among civilians: lethal fire in the middle of town, terrified kids in pajamas watching heavily armed soldiers searching a house, a helicopter firing a missile in the midst of Gaza. All these violent scenes do happen, but they do not give an adequate picture of what the occupation really looks like.

Very few people realize that Israel has turned life in the occupied territories (Israeli settlers excluded) into complete misery without any need to fire a single bullet. A unique, invaluable glance into the mechanisms that constitute this "quiet" occupation, usually hidden behind the literal smokescreen of violence, is given by the first annual report of the Israeli human rights group Machsom Watch, presented in a press conference in Tel Aviv last week.

West Bank Checkpoints: The Basics

Machsom – "roadblock" in Hebrew - stands for a whole arsenal of obstacles spread throughout the occupied territories: temporary or permanent roadblocks, manned checkpoints or roads closed off by heavy cement blocks, gates in the Wall, earth mounds, trenches, observation towers. The least known but most significant fact about these various physical obstacles is that almost all of them are NOT "border checkpoints" located between Israel and the occupied territories; almost all of them are placed WITHIN the occupied territories, hampering the movement from one Palestinian town or village to another.

Within the last four years - signs were clear enough in early 2002 - Israel made every movement of every Palestinian dependent on Israeli permit. Incredible, but true: a Palestinian wishing to get out of (or reenter) his or her immediate surrounding - a town, a village, a neighborhood, or just an arbitrarily cut-off part of a village - has to get a permit from Israel in advance and show it at every Israeli-manned checkpoint. You cannot just go to work, to do some shopping or business, to school, to visit family or friends, to a hospital - you have to go through one or several Israeli checkpoints first.

The numbers are horrifying. The UN's Office for the Coordination of Human Affairs (OCHA) counted in November 2004 not less than 719 (!) physical obstacles throughout the West Bank. Machsom Watch reports that less than 70 of them were removed in the recent "calm" period, some only to be replaced by the rapidly progressing Wall. An army general reported that the 25 central checkpoints under his command required 1,000 soldiers, and up to 5,000 soldiers are employed on special alerts (Ha'aretz, July 22, 2003); no wonder the checkpoints are consistently undermanned, resulting in endless queues.

None of the more than 2 million Palestinians in the West Bank thus live more than a couple of miles away from a roadblock or checkpoint. A short route through the West Bank would inevitably take you through several Israeli checkpoints, some of them five minutes' ride from each other. Lucky to have gone through one checkpoint? The next one is just a few minutes ahead, where you'll have to start all over again.

Checkpoints are closed on Israeli, Jewish, Muslim, and other holidays and public occasions, paralyzing Palestinian economic and social life. Machsom Watch reports that

"From March to May [2004], a closure was imposed that included full encirclement in many areas of the West Bank. The closure started for the Passover holiday, continued uninterrupted until Israeli Independence Day (several weeks later) and from then to the Likud party's referendum, and it was finally lifted after the Final Four playoff games."

A Personal Aside

When I was 18, I had my basic training with an Israeli infantry unit notorious for its ferocity. The most difficult aspect of the 100 days I spent there, in early 1983, was not the physical hardship: it was bad enough, but a piece of cake compared to the permanent stress caused by the intentional, systematic policy of keeping the new recruits under complete uncertainty. We had no idea what might happen a few minutes later - would we be taken to a lecture, a physical exercise, a meal, or moved to a remote base? We were sent to bed late at night only to be awakened half an hour later; a weekend off at home would be announced and withdrawn several times till Friday afternoon; and individual soldiers would be punished for no clear reason. As my officer later told us, the idea was to "break us down as civilians in order to rebuild us as soldiers." At least the first part was accomplished successfully: The unbearable stress caused many of us severe mental damage, like shock, identification with the aggressor, or post-traumatic syndromes.

Through the Checkpoint

Machsom Watch activists say they have seen the idea behind the checkpoints policy actually written in a military document: Keeping the Palestinian population under permanent uncertainty. Precisely the same principle, then, used to "break down" recruits during basic training, is applied to an entire population, children and adults, women and men, sick and elderly. The checkpoints are at the heart of this policy.

The moment you start a journey through the West Bank, you are no longer master of your time. You do not know whether you'll be able to make it at all, nor even roughly how long it will take. Due to "surprise checkpoints" and checkpoints manned only during certain hours, you cannot even tell how many checkpoints you'll have to go through. Any checkpoint can be closed at any time, without prior notice nor any indication whether and when it will reopen. You can pass three checkpoints on your way, only to be stopped at the fourth. Crossing a checkpoint can take minutes or hours, due to unpredictable queues. The army may also suddenly impose the notorious "Stop All Life Procedure" - a total freeze on movement that lasts for hours at a time.


Even when a checkpoint is open, individuals are exposed to extreme arbitrariness and uncertainty. Having a permit is a necessary condition to pass through the checkpoint, but not a sufficient one. With a hardly noticeable gesture of his or her finger, a 19-year-old soldier may decide your document needs "inspection" and detain you. Such a detention can take 20 minutes; but it can also take several hours, during which you have to wait in the unroofed Jora ("hole" in Arabic, "sewage hole" in Hebrew), where you may be ordered to remain standing, or to sit on the ground facing the wall. If you are a bus driver, all your passengers will have to wait with you. Your document may be sent for inspection immediately; but it may have to wait until 20 or 30 other documents are accumulated and sent together. When it returns with an OK, you may proceed; but some documents often get lost in the process.

Who is detained? Here are some answers Machsom Watch activists got from checkpoint soldiers: "Anyone who looks stressed" (under these circumstances, who wouldn't?); "Every ninth man"; "Everyone called Mohammed"; "Everyone who wants to go through my checkpoint." Arbitrariness incarnate. Many soldiers refer to detention at checkpoints as a kind of punishment or "educational measure," and even order those in charge: "Detain this guy for a long time."

English Weather

Behind this system are myriads of human beings with sometimes heartbreaking stories – the arrested kidney patient, the beaten student. Some of these stories clearly fall under abuse. Israel's efficiency in turning Palestinian life into hell disappears when complaints are to be processed: out of 100 complaints sent by Machsom Watch in 2004 to several state and army offices, 87 percent were ignored or insufficiently answered. Two years ago, the army admitted that out of 1,200 "inquiries" into checkpoint complaints, only 18 had led to military police investigations; the rest - 98.5 percent – had been shelved (Ha'aretz, July 22, 2003).

But it is important not to let the cases of abuse distract from the "normal" routine: Palestinian daily life is unbearable even on what Machsom Watch activists call "an English weather," i.e., a usual day without any exceptional event. If the roots of Palestinian frustration, despair, and violence - "terrorism," if you like - are to be sought, the checkpoint system is an excellent place to start.

Comment: It is clear that Israeli government oppression of Palestinians has little to do with security concerns and everything to do with harassing and often murdering Palestinian civilians and leaders in order to prevent them from establishing themselves as a independent people with a sovereign voice on the world stage.

Central to this goal is the continued portrayal of any Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation as "terrorism" when, in reality, resistance (including armed) to an occupying power is a fundamental right laid down in the article four of the third Geneva Convention.

However, according to humanitarian law, in order to lawfully use force in a conflict you must first be designated a lawful 'combatant'. To be a 'combatant', you have to belong to an 'armed resistance group' and that group must belong to a 'party' to the conflict. It is in this fact that we find one of the chief reasons why Israel will NEVER willingly allow the creation of a Palestinian state.

As long as Palestine does not have official state status, any Palestinian resistance group cannot claim to be a party in the conflict and must remain a simple independent resistance group, or a "terrorist" group in modern parlance.

Not only did the developed world oversee the theft of Palestinian land in order to create the state of Israel in 1948, but in continuing to refuse to lobby for an independent Palestinian state, they ensure that any Palestinian resistance to Israeli aggression is delegitimised in advance.

The day that Palestine is recognised as an independent state by the world (don't hold your breath) is the day that Israel will no longer be able to bulldoze Palestinian homes or execute Palestinian school children and claim that they are "fighting terrorism". On that day, Palestinian resistance will be legitismised and the actions of the IDF recognised for the war crimes that they are.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

What You Miss as a Corporate Drone

As mentioned, I've been working double shifts for about three weeks up till two weeks ago. Regular 8 - 5 office (but an hour for lunch, very civilized and RARE these days), then hoof it down the freeway for 5:30 to my once-fun little retail job in a big funky fabric store. Other than the sheer number of hours (60+), this used to not be a bad schedule. If I got really burned out, I could let the temp agency know I was taking a week off, just do the retail end, sleep in a couple days till I felt human again, then back into it. My husband is getting a new business off the ground (yess!!), so currently I'm the cash flow.

I'll get into why the retail job is a now an exhausting, depressing drag later. Suffice to say, though I've been off the office side of things for two weeks, it took a whole week of 12-hour sleeps to have any energy. What I missed in the grind was the whole Downing Street Memo kerfluffle. At least it seemed to be a big deal everywhere EXCEPT the mainstream media. So you catch up where you can on the net. The first I heard of it was on the Signs page . Then, as really important things tend to do, it showed up here, at Le Metropole Cafe, which is my favourite investing news letter. If you have an interest in how the global economy REALLY works (it ain't pretty), you can't do better than Le Metropole Cafe. This followup commentary by the reporter who broke the Downing Street Memo story was included in Bill Murphy's daily newsletter, Midas du Metropole.

Blue Ibis


The Real News in the Downing Street Memos

By Michael Smith
Michael Smith writes on defense issues for the Sunday Times of London.

June 23, 2005

It is now nine months since I obtained the first of the "Downing Street memos," thrust into my hand by someone who asked me to meet him in a quiet watering hole in London for what I imagined would just be a friendly drink.

At the time, I was defense correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph, and a staunch supporter of the decision to oust Saddam Hussein. The source was a friend. He'd given me a few stories before but nothing nearly as interesting as this.

The six leaked documents I took away with me that night were to change completely my opinion of the decision to go to war and the honesty of Prime Minister Tony Blair and President Bush.

They focused on the period leading up to the Crawford, Texas, summit between Blair and Bush in early April 2002, and were most striking for the way in which British officials warned the prime minister, with remarkable prescience, what a mess post-war Iraq would become. Even by the cynical standards of realpolitik, the decision to overrule this expert advice seemed to be criminal.

The second batch of leaks arrived in the middle of this year's British general election, by which time I was writing for a different newspaper, the Sunday Times. These documents, which came from a different source, related to a crucial meeting of Blair's war Cabinet on July 23, 2002. The timing of the leak was significant, with Blair clearly in electoral difficulties because of an unpopular war.

I did not then regard the now-infamous memo — the one that includes the minutes of the July 23 meeting — as the most important. My main article focused on the separate briefing paper for those taking part, prepared beforehand by Cabinet Office experts.

It said that Blair agreed at Crawford that "the UK would support military action to bring about regime change. " Because this was illegal, the officials noted, it was "necessary to create the conditions in which we could legally support military action."

But Downing Street had a "clever" plan that it hoped would trap Hussein into giving the allies the excuse they needed to go to war. It would persuade the U.N. Security Council to give the Iraqi leader an ultimatum to let in the weapons inspectors.

Although Blair and Bush still insist the decision to go to the U.N. was about averting war, one memo states that it was, in fact, about "wrong-footing" Hussein into giving them a legal justification for war.

British officials hoped the ultimatum could be framed in words that would be so unacceptable to Hussein that he would reject it outright. But they were far from certain this would work, so there was also a Plan B.

American media coverage of the Downing Street memo has largely focused on the assertion by Sir Richard Dearlove, head of British foreign intelligence, that war was seen as inevitable in Washington, where "the intelligence and facts were being fixed around the policy."

But another part of the memo is arguably more important. It quotes British Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon as saying that "the U.S. had already begun 'spikes of activity' to put pressure on the regime." This we now realize was Plan B.

Put simply, U.S. aircraft patrolling the southern no-fly zone were dropping a lot more bombs in the hope of provoking a reaction that would give the allies an excuse to carry out a full-scale bombing campaign, an air war, the first stage of the conflict.

British government figures for the number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq in 2002 show that although virtually none were used in March and April, an average of 10 tons a month were dropped between May and August.

But these initial "spikes of activity" didn't have the desired effect. The Iraqis didn't retaliate. They didn't provide the excuse Bush and Blair needed. So at the end of August, the allies dramatically intensified the bombing into what was effectively the initial air war.

The number of bombs dropped on southern Iraq by allied aircraft shot up to 54.6 tons in September alone, with the increased rates continuing into 2003.

In other words, Bush and Blair began their war not in March 2003, as everyone believed, but at the end of August 2002, six weeks before Congress approved military action against Iraq.

The way in which the intelligence was "fixed" to justify war is old news.

The real news is the shady April 2002 deal to go to war, the cynical use of the U.N. to provide an excuse, and the secret, illegal air war without the backing of Congress.

Friday, June 24, 2005

And YOU Aren't Either! (not. . . . .)

George is lying on so many fronts. I tell ya, it's exhausting trying to keep up. But until the ravages of climate change start getting up close and personal, I don't think too many "'murricans" are really going to care. Well maybe the farmers, but hey, they can always sell out to the big agribusinesses. Seeing as most of the fertilizer inputs are petroleum-based these days, it's a win-win for the psychopathic corporations. Capitalism rules!

Blue Ibis

P.S. Do you have any idea how annoying it is to have to go to the Brits to find out what's going on in your own country?????

Signs June 19, 2005

Revealed: how oil giant influenced Bush
White House sought advice from Exxon on Kyoto stance

John Vidal, environment editor
Wednesday June 8, 2005
The Guardian

President's George Bush's decision not to sign the United States up to the Kyoto global warming treaty was partly a result of pressure from ExxonMobil, the world's most powerful oil company, and other industries, according to US State Department papers seen by the Guardian.

The documents, which emerged as Tony Blair visited the White House for discussions on climate change before next month's G8 meeting, reinforce widely-held suspicions of how close the company is to the administration and its role in helping to formulate US policy.

In briefing papers given before meetings to the US under-secretary of state, Paula Dobriansky, between 2001 and 2004, the administration is found thanking Exxon executives for the company's "active involvement" in helping to determine climate change policy, and also seeking its advice on what climate change policies the company might find acceptable.

Other papers suggest that Ms Dobriansky should sound out Exxon executives and other anti-Kyoto business groups on potential alternatives to Kyoto.

Until now Exxon has publicly maintained that it had no involvement in the US government's rejection of Kyoto. But the documents, obtained by Greenpeace under US freedom of information legislation, suggest this is not the case.

"Potus [president of the United States] rejected Kyoto in part based on input from you [the Global Climate Coalition]," says one briefing note before Ms Dobriansky's meeting with the GCC, the main anti-Kyoto US industry group, which was dominated by Exxon.

The papers further state that the White House considered Exxon "among the companies most actively and prominently opposed to binding approaches [like Kyoto] to cut greenhouse gas emissions".

But in evidence to the UK House of Lords science and technology committee in 2003, Exxon's head of public affairs, Nick Thomas, said: "I think we can say categorically we have not campaigned with the United States government or any other government to take any sort of position over Kyoto."

Exxon, officially the US's most valuable company valued at $379bn (£206bn) earlier this year, is seen in the papers to share the White House's unwavering scepticism of international efforts to address climate change.

The documents, which reflect unanimity between the company and the US administration on the need for more global warming science and the unacceptable costs of Kyoto, state that Exxon believes that joining Kyoto "would be unjustifiably drastic and premature".

This line has been taken consistently by President Bush, and was expected to be continued in yesterday's talks with Tony Blair who has said that climate change is "the most pressing issue facing mankind".

"President Bush tells Mr Blair he's concerned about climate change, but these documents reveal the alarming truth, that policy in this White House is being written by the world's most powerful oil company. This administration's climate policy is a menace to humanity," said Stephen Tindale, Greenpeace's executive director in London last night.

"The prime minister needs to tell Mr Bush he's calling in some favours. Only by securing mandatory cuts in US emissions can Blair live up to his rhetoric," said Mr Tindale.

In other meetings documented in the papers, Ms Dobriansky meets Don Pearlman, an international anti-Kyoto lobbyist who has been a paid adviser to the Saudi and Kuwaiti governments, both of which have followed the US line against Kyoto.

The purpose of the meeting with Mr Pearlman, who also represents the secretive anti-Kyoto Climate Council, which the administration says "works against most US government efforts to address climate change", is said to be to "solicit [his] views as part of our dialogue with friends and allies".

ExxonMobil, which was yesterday contacted by the Guardian in the US but did not return calls, is spending millions of pounds on an advertising campaign aimed at influencing politicians, opinion formers and business leaders in the UK and other pro-Kyoto countries in the weeks before the G8 meeting at Gleneagles.

Comment: Of course the Bush Administration took its orders from Exxon and the oil lobby. You just have to look at the strong links between the major figures in the Bush government and the oil lobby to know that is true. Remember Cheney's energy task force, the secret meetings that were held with people who could not be named in order to work out an energy policy for the new administration? Why would it all have to be so secret if the list of invitations wasn't made up of Cheney's oil pals?

As to the absurd idea that Bush would ever return the favour to Tony Blair, it only shows the delusional state of the British PM: he's lost in wishful thinking and the illusion of his own importance.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Isreali Hypocrisy (NOT jewish, ok?) - a Short Overview

"Everybody has to move, run and grab as many hilltops as they can to enlarge the settlements because everything we take now will stay ours... Everything we don't grab will go to them."

- Ariel Sharon, as Israeli Foreign Minister, addressing a meeting of militants from the extreme right-wing Tsomet Party, Agence France Presse, November 15, 1998.
By now it should be clear to all Middle East analysts that the main impediment to peace in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is Ariel Sharon and the right-wing extremists in his Likud party. Time and again the Palestinians have expressed their sincere desire to end the inhuman conditions under which they are forced to live by the occupying IDF forces, yet every time that a peaceful settlement seems to be within their grasp, Hamas will bizarrely decide to fire a few usually harmless, Qasam rockets at an illegal Israeli settlement, or unknown "Palestinian gunmen" will murder an Israeli settler.

How can we explain such apparently repeated self-defeating acts by the alleged representatives of the beleaguered Palestinian people? It has been obvious for several years now that the Palestinians cannot win an armed conflict with Israel and any further attacks against Israeli forces, population or interests simply provides Sharon with the justification to increase Israeli control and oppression in the occupied territories. It is equally obvious that the international community has all but washed its hands of the conflict and is resigned to allowing it to play out to its final tragic denouement.

In yesterday's "summit" between Sharon and PA authority Chairman Abbas, Abbas told the Israelis that he wanted "freedom of movement in and out of Gaza, air and sea ports re-opened, key Palestinian towns handed back to their control and the release of Palestinian prisoners." Such demands are the precursor to the formation of a Palestinian state, an eventuality that Sharon has built his political career on ensuring never occurs.

Israel agreed to Abbas' demands on the proviso that all Palestinian attacks against Israel must first stop. Sharon willingly accepted these demands because he is confident that he can ensure that the Palestinian authority never meets the condition of a cessation of all "terrorist" attacks.

It is clear that Israeli government oppression of Palestinians has little to do with "security concerns" and everything to do with harassing and often murdering Palestinian civilians and leaders in order to prevent them from establishing themselves as a independent people with a sovereign voice on the world stage.

Central to this goal is the continued portrayal of any Palestinian resistance to Israeli occupation as "terrorism" when, in reality, resistance (including armed) to an occupying power is a fundamental right laid down in the article four of the third Geneva Convention.

However, according to humanitarian law, in order to lawfully use force in a conflict you must first be designated a lawful 'combatant'. To be a 'combatant', you have to belong to an 'armed resistance group' and that group must belong to a 'party' to the conflict. It is in this fact that we find one of the chief reasons why Israel will NEVER willingly allow the creation of a Palestinian state.

As long as Palestine does not have official state status, any Palestinian resistance group cannot claim to be a party in the conflict and must remain a simple independent resistance group, or a "terrorist" group in modern parlance.

Not only did the developed world oversee the theft of Palestinian land in order to create the state of Israel in 1948, but in continuing to refuse to lobby for an independent Palestinian state, they ensure that any Palestinian resistance to Israeli aggression is delegitimised in advance.

So how can Sharon be so confident that the Palestinian dream of state of their own will remain just that - a dream?

Israel controls all entrances and exits to and from the Gaza strip and the West Bank, it is Israel therefore - or more accurately the Israeli military and intelligence apparatus - that decides who and what gets in and out of the occupied Palestinian territories. Without doubt the Israeli army could, with relative ease, accomplish the goal of a cessation of all "terrorist" attacks that Sharon demands of Abbas, yet the hard, cold fact of the matter is that Israel's present position as the dominant force in the Middle East is DEPENDENT on the continued existence of a terrorist threat. This point was made clear by Israeli commentator, Yoram Bar Porath, in the Israeli News outlet, Yediot Aahronot of 14 July 1972:
"It is the duty of Israeli leaders to explain to public opinion, clearly and courageously, a certain number of facts that are forgotten with time. The first of these is that there is no Zionism, colonialization or Jewish State without the eviction of the Arabs and the expropriation of their lands."
In attempting to ensure that the "terrorism" so necessary to the state of Israel is never vanquished, Sharon and his predecessors have gone to great lengths to infiltrate and co-opt various Palestinian resistance organizations. Indeed, there is much evidence to support the thesis that, far from being the victim of terrorism, Israel is in fact one of the prime instigators of terrorist attacks in the Palestinian territories, attacks that are conveniently set up to look like the work of Palestinians. For example, consider the following excerpt from a UPI article from June 2002:
Hamas history tied to Israel

By Richard Sale
UPI Terrorism Correspondent
Published 6/18/2002

In the wake of a suicide bomb attack Tuesday on a crowded Jerusalem city bus that killed 19 people and wounded at least 70 more, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, took credit for the blast.

Israeli officials called it the deadliest attack in Jerusalem in six years.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon immediately vowed to fight "Palestinian terror" and summoned his cabinet to decide on a military response to the organization that Sharon had once described as "the deadliest terrorist group that we have ever had to face."

Active in Gaza and the West Bank, Hamas wants to liberate all of Palestine and establish a radical Islamic state in place of Israel. It is has gained notoriety with its assassinations, car bombs and other acts of terrorism.

But Sharon left something out.

Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO (Palestinian Liberation Organization)," said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official. [...]
Of course, here, we are deep into conspiracy theory territory, yet, when several current and former U.S. intelligence officials openly state that Hamas is basically a tool of Israeli intelligence, are we talking about a conspiracy theory, or simply the much-ignored SOP (standard operating procedure) of most of the world's spy agencies? Readers should also take note of the fact that, over the past few years, it has been Hamas that has repeatedly scuppered Palestinian aspirations for statehood by launching attacks on Israeli targets at the most inopportune moments and thereby giving Sharon the justification to renege on his promises.

Of course, Israel has a willing partner in its phony terror-crime in the American government. Vast sums ($billions) in donations are funneled every year from the pockets of US taxpayers into the coffers of the Israeli treasury for the purpose of "fighting terrorism". Israel, with the implicit support of the US, has been allowed to contravene or ignore dozens of UN resolutions, the Geneva conventions and Humanitarian and International law because it claims it is "fighting terrorism". Indeed, the role of the current US government in facilitating the continued persecution of the Palestinian people can be clearly seen in its promotion of the phony "war on terror" that has greatly benefited Sharon and the equally phony 9/11 attacks that precipitated it.

Israel then, in its present configuration, is an illegal state founded on the unlawful theft of Palestinian land and the blood of the thousands of innocent Palestinian people that refused, and continue to refuse, to bow down to the murderous racism of their Israeli taskmasters. Sharon knows this. He also knows that the day that he allows Palestine to be officially recognised as an independent state, is the day that Israel will no longer have the right to bulldoze Palestinian homes or arbitrarily execute Palestinian school children and claim that they are "fighting terrorism". On that day, Palestinian resistance to a brutal occupying power will be legitimised and the actions of Sharon and the IDF recognised for the war crimes that they are.

For this very reason, all "peace summits" between Sharon and Abbas are nothing more than a sop to the spineless international political community and a publicity stunt to give the appearance that Sharon is genuinely interested in peace. He, like his predecessors have but one plan in mind and it is best summed up by the words of current Chief Advisor to Sharon, Rafi Eitan as quoted by Gad Becker of the Yediot Ahronot and which appeared in the 14 April 1983 edition of the New York Times:
"We declare openly that the Arabs have no right to settle on even one centimeter of Eretz (Greater) Israel... Force is all they do or ever will understand. We shall use the ultimate force until the Palestinians come crawling to us on all fours."
* * * * * * * * * *
Oh yeah, real man of peace we got here. And, U.S. dudes, your taxes, to the tune of $5.000+, per isreali citizen, PER YEAR (50 years now?) is supporting him. Yay for democracy,

Blue Ibis

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

You're Not the Boss of ME!

For all of those who think that the US gov. is an independent entity, we offer the following for consideration. The general picture is depressing, especially when any rational discussion of the actions of a political entity are put off-limits by a manipulation of a legitimate tragedy.

Blue Ibis.

"What should we do? Let’s ask Israel!"

Thursday, April 22, 2004
By Raff Ellis Columnist

( – The Tribune Company’s local newspaper has a weekly “Friday Forum” page where mail is solicited in answer to timely questions such as, “Has the U.S. stayed too long in Iraq?” The paper printed 17 responses for that one and, knowing full well that the result would hardly be scientific, I attempted to gauge current public attitudes by statistically tallying the answers.

Had I answered the call for letters, I would have simply said, “Let’s ask Israel!” After all, they have been influencing America’s shots in the Middle East for a long time and, as reported on Israeli radio, Vice President Cheney told Sharon before the war started, “We will attack Iraq first and foremost for Israel's sake.” Philip Zelikow, former member of the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board, now the executive director of the 9/11 commission told a crowd at the University of Virginia on Sep. 10, 2002, that the prime motive for the invasion of Iraq was to eliminate a threat to Israel, a staunch U.S. ally in the Middle East.

The Israelis and their U.S.-based claque, of course, eschew any influence or responsibility for America’s policy decisions even though PM Sharon has on many occasions bragged about Israeli and Jewish influence. As he said to Shimon Peres on October 3rd, 2001, during a Knesset debate (reported on Kol Yisrael): "Every time we do something you tell me America will do this and will do that . . . I want to tell you something very clear: Don't worry about American pressure on Israel. We, the Jewish people, control America, and the Americans know it."

The hand of Israel can be seen in many areas including America’s intelligence operations. Although the CIA and FBI are taking the heat for pre-9-11 intelligence failures, nothing is mentioned about Israel’s influence in this area. Vice President Dick Cheney was briefed by Mossad’s director-general, Efraim Halevy in March, 2002 (as reported in the intelligence newsletter Globe-Intel), that Saddam Hussein had placed squadrons of suicide pilots at “hard stand readiness,” ready for instant take-off.

Cheney was told that the aircraft were carrying biological and chemical canisters, including nerve agents designed to destroy human immune systems and that Mossad had identified no fewer than a dozen other storage sites in and around Baghdad. “We believe some of them are buried beneath mosques in the city suburbs,” Cheney was told.

Our Congress bristles at the notion that it is often called “Israeli occupied territory,” yet it routinely passes legislation drafted or suggested by American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC) that lavishes praise and money on that foreign government. Millions in “loans” are forgiven each year. Grants, which are given to Israel in lump sum at the beginning of the year, are loaned back to the U.S. and we taxpayers not only get to foot the bill for the principal, but also for the interest -- on our own money! Pro-Israeli lobbies in America operate on a budget of more than $30 million a year, used to influence both Congress and American public opinion. Given the billions drained from the U.S. treasury over the years, I’d say it was money well spent.

There are no boundaries to Israel’s wishes and to our government’s desire to fulfill them. The TV images are still fresh from the White House of the president, walking on an appropriately blood-red carpet, side-by-side with the grinning and “courageous” war criminal Ariel Sharon. It is clear by Bush’s actions that he bases important decisions on what his hero Sharon and Israel wants.

He sent Americans to fight, bleed and die for them. He has given his blessing to Sharon’s atrocities against Palestinians and title to large portions of the West Bank, even though it wasn’t his to give. Forget about the Geneva Conventions, International Law and U.N. Resolutions, Bush has decided that Israeli support is more important than any laws, agreements or American lives. Ironic isn’t it that Bush used to be fond of saying that Saddam needed to be punished for not obeying U.N. Resolutions even though Israel is the world’s record holder for ignoring such resolutions. The same excuses, such as the violation of human rights and possession of WMDs, that were used to go to war in Iraq are forgiven for Sharon & Co.

So, if you want to know what we should do next in Iraq, let’s do as we always do — ask Israel! Are you as comfortable with that as I am?

And the U.S. is nothing if not consistent. From today's Signs:

An Updated List of Vetoes Cast by the United States to Shield Israel from Criticism by the U.N. Security Council

By Donald Neff

Prior to the Nixon administration, the United States had never employed its veto power in the U.N. Security Council. It was first used March 17, 1970 over Southern Rhodesia. The second U.S. veto came two years later, when Washington sought to protect Israel from a resolution condemning Israel for one of its attacks on its neighbors. Since then, the United States has cast its veto a total of 39 times to shield Israel from Security Council draft resolutions that condemned, deplored, denounced, demanded, affirmed, endorsed, called on and urged Israel to obey the world body.

1. Sept. 10, 1972—Condemned Israel’s attacks against Southern Lebanon and Syria; vote: 13 to 1, with 1 abstention

2. July 26, 1973—Affirmed the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination, statehood and equal protections; vote: 13 to 1, with China absent.

3. Dec. 8, 1975—Condemned Israel’s air strikes and attacks in Southern Lebanon and its murder of innocent civilians; vote: 13 to 1, with 1 abstention.

4. Jan. 26, 1976—Called for self-determination of Palestinian people; vote: 9 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

5. March 25, 1976—Deplored Israel’s altering of the status of Jerusalem, which is recognized as an international city, by most world nations and the United Nation’s; vote: 14 to 1.

6. June 29, 1976—Affirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people; vote: 10 to 1, with 4 abstentions.

7. April 30, 1980—Endorsed self-determination for the Palestinian people; vote: 10 to 1, with 4 abstentions.

8. Jan. 20, 1982—Demanded Israel’s withdrawal from the Golan Heights; vote: 9 to 1, with 4 abstentions.

9. April 2, 1982—Condemned Israel’s mistreatment of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and its refusal to abide by the Geneva Convention protocols of civilized nations; vote: 14 to 1.

10. April 20, 1982—Condemned an Israeli soldier who shot 11 Muslim worshippers on the Temple Mount of the Haram al-Sharaf near the Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem; vote: 14 to 1.

11. June 8, 1982—Urged sanctions against Israel if it did not withdraw from its invasion of Lebanon; vote: 14 to 1.

12. June 26, 1982—Urged sanctions against Israel if it did not withdraw from its invasion of Beirut, Lebanon; vote: 14 to 1.

13. Aug. 6, 1982—Urged cut-off of economic aid to Israel if it refused to withdraw from its occupation of Lebanon; vote: 11 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

14. Aug. 2, 1983—Condemned continued Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine territories of West Bank and Gaza Strip, denouncing them as an obstacle to peace; vote: 13 to 1, with 1 abstention.

15. Sept. 6, 1984—Deplored Israel’s brutal massacre of Arabs in Lebanon and urged its withdrawal; vote: 14 to 1.

16. March 12, 1985—Condemned Israeli brutality in Southern Lebanon and denounced Israel’s “Iron Fist” policy of repression; vote: 11 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

17. Sept. 13, 1985—Denounced Israel’s violation of human rights in the occupied territories; vote: 10 to 1, with 4 abstentions.

18. Jan. 17, 1986—Deplored Israel’s violence in Southern Lebanon; vote: 11 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

19. Jan. 30, 1986—Deplored Israel’s activities in occupied Arab East Jerusalem which threaten the sanctity of Muslim holy sites; vote: 13 to 1, with 1 abstention.

20. Feb. 6, 1986—Condemned Israel’s hijacking of a Libyan passenger airplane on Feb. 4; vote: 10 to 1, with 1 abstention.

21. Jan. 18, 1988—Deplored Israeli attacks against Lebanon and its measures and practices against the civilian population of Lebanon; vote: 13 to 1, with Britain abstaining.

22. Feb. 1, 1988—Called on Israel to abandon its policies against the Palestinian uprising that violate the rights of occupied Palestinians, abide by the Fourth Geneva Convention and formalize a leading role for the United Nations in future peace negotiations; vote: 14 to 1.

23. April 15, 1988—Urged Israel to accept back deported Palestinians, condemned Israel’s shooting of civilians, called on Israel to uphold the Fourth Geneva Convention and called for a peace settlement under U.N. auspices; vote: 14 to 1.

24. May 10, 1988—Condemned Israel’s May 2 incursion into Lebanon; vote: 14 to 1.

25. Dec. 14, 1988—Deplored Israel’s Dec. 9 commando raids on Lebanon; vote: 14 to 1.

26. Feb. 17, 1989—Deplored Israel’s repression of the Palestinian uprising and called on Israel to respect the human rights of the Palestinians; vote: 14 to 1.

27. June 9, 1989—Deplored Israel’s violation of the human rights of the Palestinians; vote: 14 to 1.

28. Nov. 7, 1989—Demanded Israel return property confiscated from Palestinians during a tax protest and allow a fact-finding mission to observe Israel’s crackdown on the Palestinian uprising; vote: 14 to 1.

29. May 31, 1990—Called for a fact-finding mission on abuses against Palestinians in Israeli-occupied lands; vote: 14 to 1.

30. May 17, 1995—Declared invalid Israel’s expropriation of land in East Jerusalem and in violation of Security Council resolutions and the Fourth Geneva convention; vote: 14 to 1.

31. March 7, 1997—Called on Israel to refrain from settlement activity and all other actions in the occupied territories; vote:14 to 1.

32. March 21, 1997—Demanded Israel cease construction of the settlement Har Homa (called Jabal Abu Ghneim by the Palestinians) in East Jerusalem and cease all other settlement activity in the occupied territories; vote: 13 to 1, with one abstention.

33. March 26, 2001—Called for the deployment of a U.N. observer force in the West Bank and Gaza; vote: 9 to 1, with 4 abstentions.

34. Dec. 14, 2001—Condemned all acts of terror, the use of excessive force and destruction of properties and encouraged establishment of a monitoring apparatus; vote: 12-1, with 2 abstentions.

35. Dec. 19, 2002—Expressed deep concern over Israel’s killing of U.N. employees and Israel’s destruction of the U.N. World Food Program warehouse in Beit Lahiya and demanded that Israel refrain from the excessive and disproportionate use of force in the occupied territories; vote: 12 to 1, with 2 abstentions.

36. Sept. 16, 2003—Reaffirmed the illegality of deportation of any Palestinian and expressed concern about the possible deportation of Yasser Arafat; vote: 11 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

37. Oct. 14, 2003—Raised concerns about Israel’s building of a securiy fence through the occupied West Bank; vote 10 to 1, with 4 abstentions.

38. March 25, 2004—Condemned Israel for killing Palestinian spiritual leader Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in a missile attack in Gaza; vote: 11 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

39. Oct. 5, 2004—Condemned Israel’s military incursion in Gaza, causing many civilian deaths and extensive damage to property; vote: 11 to 1, with 3 abstentions.

Comment: This list speaks for itself regarding the US position in the Middle East.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Down to One Job, But That's Over Soon (geeze)

It has been some time since my last post. Even though it sucks, we must survive in the world as we know it now. One of two jobs I held is complete and now there is time for more serious matters. I'm not going to think about the other one that ends in a month. Better to get working on my typing speed. It's george bush all over again, saying how great amerika is when a mom has the OPPORTUNITY(???) to hold three jobs to support her family. I am blessed to not be in that situation, but it is sure evident that society is set up to maximize the stress and distractions from what really matters.

Although this was published nearly a month ago, it has been on my mind ever since. It bespeaks the wisdom of those who have seen and experienced much and thought much on what they have gone through. There are veterans of many kinds.

Blue Ibis

Holocaust Survivor Says He's Leaving The US

by Joey Picador

One of our neighbors is moving. I've been in this neighborhood for about six years now, but didn't really know them very well at all - just waves and nods, mostly.

So I heard the moving van pull up this morning. When I got home this evening I happened to spy my neighbor (he's like 85 years old - I don't know exactly, but he's old, talks and moves very slowly) standing on the sidewalk next to the van. I walked over and shook his hand, and we started talking. I asked him where he was moving, and he said, "Back to Germany."

I had been stationed in Germany for two years while in the military, so I lit up, and commented about how beautiful the country was, and inquired if he was going back because he missed it.

"No," he answered me. "I'm going back because I've seen this before." He then commenced to explain that when he was a kid, he watched with his family in fear as Hitler's government committed atrocity after atrocity, and no one was willing to say anything. He said the news refused to question the government, and the ones who did were not in the newspaper business much longer. He said good neighbors, people he had known all his life, turned against his family and other Jews, grabbing on to the hate and superiority "as if they were starved for it" (his words).

He said he was too old to see it happen right in front of his eyes again, and too old to do anything about it, so he was taking his family back to Europe on Thursday where they would be safe from George W. Bush and his neocons. He seemed resolute, but troubled, nonetheless, as if being too young on one end and too old on the other to fight what he saw happening was wearing on him.

I gotta tell you - it was chilling. I let him talk, and the whole time, my gut was churning, like I had mutated butterflies in my stomach. When he was finished, he shook my hand, gripping it really hard, until his knuckles turned white and he was shaking. He looked me in the eyes, hard, and said, "I will pray for your family and your country." He let go of my hand and hobbled away.

I have related this event to you in the hopes it will serve as a cautionary anecdote about the state of our Union, and to illustrate the path we Americans are being led down by a group of fanatics bent on global economic and military dominion. When a man who survived the fruits of fascism decides its time to leave THIS country because he's seeing the same patterns that led to the Holocaust and other Nazi horrors beginning to form here, it is time for us to recognize the underlying evil inherent in the actions of those who claim they work for all Americans, and for all mankind. And it is incumbent upon all Americans, Red and Blue, Republican and Democrat, to stop them.