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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Violence on the Right; Glenn Beck Incites Violence; Olbermann Silenced; Media Becomes Even MORE Conservative; Obama Abandons Green Agenda; Poor Starve While Banks Profit; more

- Glenn Beck Incites Violence; Keith Olbermann Departs
    Even as the rightwing shouters get more extreme, with Glenn Beck inciting death threats against liberal academics, MSNBC got rid of its leading progressive voice, showing Keith Olbermann the door on Friday. These are ominous signs.
- Obama's Climate Adviser, Carol Browner, to Depart White House
    The White House energy and climate adviser is due to step down in the next few weeks, in a departure seen as the collapse of Barack Obama's ambitious green agenda. 
    Reports of Browner's exit reinforced concerns expressed by environmental groups that he was preparing further compromises on his once-ambitious green agenda to try to build a working arrangement with Republicans.

    Obama has also come under pressure from the main business lobby, the Chamber of Commerce, which opposes environmental regulations.

    But Browner's exit also recalled the extent to which Obama failed to realize his sweeping campaign promise of weaning America off fossil fuels, and making the transition to a new clean energy economy.
- Mega-Mega-Merger: Meet the New Media Monopoly
    Since Teddy Roosevelt's presidency, our government has tried to ensure that monopolistic business practices don’t destroy fair pricing and consumer choice.
    That should worry you. 
    Why? Because when one company, motivated solely by profit, can choose what news to cover and how to cover it, you may not be getting the full story. When it can exclude competing ideas or perspectives, whether for political or economic reasons, you may be denied a full hearing on the issues. And that’s bad for democracy.

    Then how can it justify the merger of Comcast and NBC Universal, which the Federal Communications Commission approved on January 18? The FCC is supposed to reject any media merger that doesn’t advance the public interest. But Comcast’s takeover of NBC will give one mega-corporation control of too much of what we watch and how we watch it.
- US Can’t Link Julian Assange to Bradley Manning
    One avenue by which the United States could press charges against Julian Assange appeared to have closed Monday, with US military officials' admission that they can't find a link between the WikiLeaks founder and PFC Bradley Manning, the alleged source of WikiLeaks' State Department cables.
- Overuse of Antibiotics
    Stop buying soaps, handwipes and cleaning agents whose vendors lure you with the label "antibacterial" - Wrongful or overuse of antibiotics has a perverse effect-causing the kinds of bacteria that these drugs can no longer destroy. The World Health Organization has cited antibiotic resistance as one of the three most serious public health threats of the 21st century.
- The "New Centrism" and Its Discontents
    There is no ideology of the "center." What is called a "centrist" or a "moderate" is actually very different - a bi-conceptual, someone who is conservative on some issues and progressive on others, in many, many possible combinations. Why does this matter? From the perspective of how the brain works, the distinction is crucial.
- Papers Reveal How Palestinian Leaders Gave Up Fight Over Refugees
    The documents have already become the focus of controversy among Israelis and Palestinians, revealing the scale of official Palestinian concessions rejected by Israel, but also throwing light on the huge imbalance of power in a peace process widely seen to have run into the sand.
- Vermont Measure Calls for Revoking Corporate Personhood
    In Vermont, a landmark measure has been introduced to revoke the granting of personhood rights to U.S. corporations.
- Food Speculation: 'People Die from Hunger While Banks Make a Killing on Food'
    It's not just bad harvests and climate change – it's also speculators that are behind record prices. And it's the planet's poorest who pay.

Violence on the Right: More Evidence
by Thomas Schaller
Published on Tuesday, January 25, 2011 by the Baltimore Sun

In my previous column I argued that radical, even violent rhetoric coming from the political right is more incendiary and aggressive than that coming from the left. I received a lot of angry e-mails claiming both sides deserved equal scorn.

Really? Well then, let's move beyond mere rhetoric to action - from talking the talk, to walking the walk. Before proceeding, again let me clarify that the overwhelming majority of conservatives neither engage in nor incite violence. However, it is almost always conservatives who use violence, even murder, to express political anger.

In 2009, David Neiwert published "The Eliminationists: How Hate Talk Radicalized the American Right," a book detailing the language and actions employed by right-wing radicals. Mr. Neiwert continues to track politically motivated crimes committed by those expressing anger about taxes, abortion, racial minorities or liberals. I previously mentioned the May 2009 murder of abortion doctor George Tiller and tax protester Joseph Stack's crashing of a plane into an IRS building in February 2010. But readers might not recall other, similar incidents:
  • In July 2008, after writing a manifesto complaining about how left-wing liberals are destroying America, Jim Adkisson walks into a Unitarian church in Knoxville, Tenn., and shoots and kills two churchgoers.
  • White supremacist Richard Poplawski, who claims President Barack Obama wants to take away his guns, shoots and kills three Pittsburgh police officers in April 2009.
  • In July 2009, anti-tax zealot and Holocaust denier James von Brunn opens fire inside the national Holocaust Museum, killing a security guard.
I don't have space for the rest, but Mr. Neiwert chronicles 18 incidents like this from the past 21/2 years - that's one incident roughly every 40 days - involving militia members, so-called "sovereign citizen" anarchists, white supremacists or anti-abortion radicals who killed or were caught plotting the murder of innocent people, local law enforcement officials and, of course, President Obama.

Now consider two incidents from last week, neither of which garnered much national attention.

On Jan. 17, a bomb later defused by authorities was found in a backpack at a Martin Luther King Day rally in Spokane, Wash. Also inside the backpack was a "Rally For Life" T-shirt from a 2010 anti-abortion event held in a nearby county. The next day, 200 sheet metal workers and painters union members burst into a Washington, D.C., hotel to protest a meeting of homebuilder executives whose companies benefited from nearly a billion dollars in federal tax breaks at a time when millions of Americans were losing their homes to foreclosure.

These incidents typify the glaring difference between how political anger is expressed by most on the left and the small but growing number on the radicalized right. Yes, sometimes environmentalists, Code Pink protestors or union members trespass or disturb the peace; what they don't do is try to kill their political opponents or innocent civilians.
Let me offer two final observations, and a challenge to my critics.

First, for decades, conservatives have insisted that culture influences action. Violent or sexed-up video games, television shows and movies, though fictional, are routinely blamed for contributing to drug use, promiscuous sex, illegitimacy, gang violence and other social ills. Yet somehow the daily rants by conservative radio and television personalities about tyrannical government, evil liberals and murdering abortionists, though not fictional, are wholly unrelated to the actions of a supposedly isolated, mentally disturbed few? Culture warriors want it both ways.

Second, imagine the reaction of Glenn Beck and his ilk had Muslim radicals, post-Sept. 11, shot police officers, killed churchgoers, bombed the Salt Lake City Olympics or flown planes into corporate headquarters. America would be put on Orange-level alert, and rightly so. Yet, despite an April 2009 report issued by the Department of Homeland Security warning that, amid rising economic insecurity and following the election of the nation's first African-American president, "lone wolves and small terrorist cells embracing violent rightwing extremist ideology are the most dangerous domestic terrorism threat" in America, there will be no such alerts for domestic terrorism.

To my critics, I pose a simple challenge: Produce a comparable list of violent acts or attempted acts during the past two years perpetrated by those who support economic fairness, reproductive choice, universal health care, environmental protection, animal rights or any other liberal cause against corporate executives, pro-life organizers, small business owners or white evangelicals.

If you can, I'll retract this column and the previous one. Good luck.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011

WikiLeaks Leaker a TRUE Patriot; Climate Change; Permanent War State; Obama the Republican; More Guns; MLK; American Exceptionalism Myth; more

- The Myth of 'American Exceptionalism' Implodes Until the 1970s, US capitalism shared its spoils with American workers. But since 2008, it has made them pay for its failures...

The richest 10-15% - those cashing in on employers' good fortune from no longer-rising wages - helped bring on the crisis by speculating wildly and unsuccessfully in all sorts of new financial instruments (asset-backed securities, credit default swaps, etc). The richest also contributed to the crisis by using their money to shift US politics to the right, rendering government regulation and oversight inadequate to anticipate or moderate the crisis or even to react properly once it hit.

- In the Crosshairs: From Tucson to Kabul Here's a question: Why don't the dead of our foreign wars register on us, particularly the civilians killed in numbers that, if attributed to our enemies or past imperial armies, would be seen as the acts of barbarians?  After all, when a Taliban suicide bomber kills  17 Afghans and wounds 23 in a bathhouse, including a senior police border-control officer, we know just what to think.  It wouldn't matter if those who sent the bomber claimed that he had made a “mistake” in targeting, or if they declared the other deaths regrettable “collateral damage.”  When we attack with similar results, we hardly think about it at all.

- The Sickening "Vindication" (by Barack Obama) of Dick Cheney In the early months of Obama's presidency, the American Right did to him what they do to every Democratic politician:  they accused him of being soft of defense (specifically "soft on Terror") and leaving the nation weak and vulnerable to attack.  But that tactic quickly became untenable as everyone (other than his hardest-core followers) was forced to acknowledge that Obama was [unfortunately] embracing and even expanding -- rather than reversing -- the core Bush/Cheney approach to Terrorism.

- The Tragic US Strategy in Afghanistan Meanwhile, with the presence of foreign troops in Afghanistan serving as one of its most effective recruiting tools, the Taliban has grown exponentially--from an estimated 7,000 in 2006 to 35,000 or 40,000 today, according to NATO.

But after the release of the December review of the war, President Obama nonetheless declared that the United States is “on track to achieve our goals.” Either the administration has deluded itself or it can't muster the courage to tell the American public the truth.

- Can We Trust Climate Models? Increasingly, the Answer is ‘Yes’ "If you want to know ‘is climate change something that should be on my radar screen?'" he says, "then you end up with some very solid results. The climate is warming, and we can say why. Looking to the 21st century, all reasonable projections of what humans will be doing suggest that not only will the climate continue to warm, you have a good chance of it accelerating. Those are global-scale issues, and they're very solid."

- Revolution of Values: From MLK, Jr. to Bradley Manning Manning, 23, is alleged to have provided Wikileaks with documents that expose war crimes and other unethical behaviors being committed by the United States. He reportedly first went to his commanding officer when he saw that Iraqis were being imprisoned and tortured at the behest of the US military for simply publishing a document which questioned where the money went in Iraq. He was told to get back to work. Apparently when he saw more evidence of war crimes, he felt that the American public must know what is being done in its name. Manning is said to have joined the military because he believed in his country.

- After Tucson Shootings, Ariz. Republicans Push for Guns on School Campuses Gun rights advocates aren't letting a shooting that left six dead and Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) in the hospital slow them down. Republicans in the Arizona State Legislature are planning to move forward with several bills that would expand gun rights.

- 'Respect' for MLK: Surf Shop Celebrates With '20% Off All Black Products' Sale ... when the country is celebrating the birthday of, arguably, the most influential civil-rights activist, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., boasting a sale with "20% Off All Black Products" is about as bad an idea as bad ideas go.

From Military-Industrial Complex to Permanent War State
by Gareth Porter


Monday, January 17, 2011

MLK; Schools More Segregated today; Iranian 'Chernobyl' Thanks to US/Israel; Gun Control; WikiLeaks and US Hypocrisy; BP Oil; Republican Hypocrisy

- Stuxnet Virus Attack: Russia Warns of 'Iranian Chernobyl' Russian nuclear officials have warned of another Chernobyl-style nuclear disaster at Iran's controversial Bushehr reactor because of the damage caused by the Stuxnet virus- widely believed to have been the result of a sophisticated joint US-Israeli cyber attack.

- On MLK Day, Some Thoughts on Segregated Schools, Arne Duncan, and President Obama American schools are more segregated by race and class today than they were on the day Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed, 43 years ago. The average white child in America attends a school that is 77 percent white, and where just 32 percent of the student body lives in poverty. The average black child attends a school that is 59 percent poor but only 29 percent white. The typical Latino kid is similarly segregated; his school is 57 percent poor and 27 percent white.

- Talk About Civility is Fine, but Where are the New Calls for Gun Control? Behold the silence of the lambs. Naturally, I'm talking about the Democrats.

One of their own House members has been plugged in the head by a nut job armed with a Glock and a high-capacity magazine, yet even now they can't muster the courage to talk about sensible gun curbs. That issue is off the national agenda because Democrats have been rendered mute by their terror of [the Republican's best friends,] the gun lobby.

- Amid WikiLeaks Storm, US Gov't Promotes Ellsberg Film AMERICAN HYPOCRISY: Even as prosecutors build a case against the Army private suspected of passing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, the State Department is promoting a documentary film that celebrates Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.

- BP Targets One of the World's Last Unspoilt Wildernesses Speaking to The Independent on Sunday  yesterday, Mike Childs, FoE's head of climate change, said: "BP, a number of years ago, were positioning themselves to be the greenest of the oil companies, promising to go 'beyond petroleum'. This latest move positions them quite nicely as environmental villain number one, given the huge impact they had in the Gulf of Mexico as well."
The oil giant "cannot be trusted" to drill oil in difficult waters, and any oil spill would be "completely catastrophic". He added: "The Arctic should be a no-go for fossil fuel extraction as it's one of the few pristine environments we have left. It's very fragile and we should be looking at ways to protect it, not seemingly trying to find ways of wrecking it."

- Martin Luther King's Legacy n the mid-1960s, the Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. contributed an annual essay to The Nation on the state of civil rights and race relations in the United States.  His last piece, from March 14, 1966, could have been written today: "Jobs are harder to create than voting rolls. Harmonizing of peoples of vastly different cultural levels is complicated and frequently abrasive." Read and share four of King's timeless and timely essays to mark this year's holiday.

- Darrell Issa (Republican) asks business: Tell me what to change Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) wants the oil industry, drug manufacturers and other trade groups and companies to tell him which Obama administration regulations to target this year.

- Don't Look Back Darrell Issa, the corrupt Republican congressman about to launch endless "investigations" into the Obama administration has had some troubles of his own.

Which Side Would Martin Luther King Be On?
[President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966]President Lyndon B. Johnson and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. meet at the White House, 1966

When it comes to newly maligned public workers, the answer is easy
by Roger Bybee
Published on Monday, January 17, 2011 by In These Times

If Martin Luther King, Jr. were to be resurrected today, just in time for the national holiday commemorating his memory, many of the anti-public sector politicians praising his legacy would be choking on their words.

After all, King was a persistent, unwavering champion of the most despised and disparaged members of society, like the public employees now being systematically demonized for state and local fiscal crises (Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich decimates the myths behind the campaign against government workers here).

Recent portraits of Martin Luther King, like Michael Eric Dyson's I May Not Get There With You and the brand-new All Work Has Dignity by Michael Honey, stress his unwavering commitment to labor unions and economic rights as well as full racial justice.
King's exhausting pace of organizing and mobilizing helped to force the passage of landmark civil rights legislation in 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. But he never considered resting on his laurels. He remained utterly unconcerned with retaining elite approval, as he had a larger vision of economic and social justice he sought to pursue.
Dr. King maintained a disciplined method of non-violence, but increasingly went "too far" in challenging America's economic inequality and the inequality its corporations established across the globe, backed up by U.S. military might. In a little-known speech at the Highlander Institute for activists in 1957, King proudly proclaimed:
I never intend to adjust myself to the tragic inequalities of an economic system which takes necessities from the masses to give luxuries to the classes. I never intend to become adjusted to the madness of militarism and the self-defeating method of physical violence.
King fought not just against "Jim Crow" laws, but against the underlying structure of America's economy which condemned all working people--black, white, and Latino--to a fundamental lack of power, dignity, and economic security. The condition of black people in America was a distinct product of American racism, but it was also intertwined with the economic powerlessness facing all poor and working people, King argued.

The Northern media—which largely applauded his efforts to bring down the irrational system of Southern segregation which kept the entire region backward for a century and impeded economic development—were far less sympathetic to his forceful denunciation of economic injustice and the Vietnam War.
As Norman Solomon and Jeff Cohen noted,
But after passage of civil rights acts in 1964 and 1965, King began challenging the nation's fundamental priorities. He maintained that civil rights laws were empty without "human rights" — including economic rights. For people too poor to eat at a restaurant or afford a decent home, King said, anti-discrimination laws were hollow.

Noting that a majority of Americans below the poverty line were white, King developed a class perspective. He decried the huge income gaps between rich and poor, and called for "radical changes in the structure of our society" to redistribute wealth and power."
Thus, at the time of his death on April 4, 1968, Dr. King was deeply immersed in the struggle of 1,300 black sanitation workers in Memphis who had organized themselves into an AFSCME local.. At the same time, he was also building a coalition for a "Poor People's Campaign" that would assemble in Washington, D.C., to demand "economic rights" for people of all colors. It was aimed at building a mighty coalition that would span autoworkers in Detroit, discarded coalminers in Appalachia, Latino farmworkers, and oppressed blacks in both the South and North.

In his new book All Work Has Dignity, Honey pulls together 11 of King's speeches on labor and explains the lasting significance of King's emphasis on the need for "economic rights" for all.
People forget that Dr. King was every bit as committed to economic justice as he was to ending racial segregation. As we struggle with massive unemployment, a staggering racial wealth gap and near collapse of our financial system, King’s prophetic writings and speeches underscore his relevance for today.
King saw domestic inequality as inextricably linked with the foreign policy of U.S. corporations and the government. He spoke out against the Vietnam War not as a "tragic well-intentioned mistake," as so many liberals described it, but the inevitable result of the U.S. empire of corporate power expanding under a growing military umbrella.
In an audacious statement that would get him branded a dangerous "extremist" today, King declared on April 4, 1967, that the United States was "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today." King was an early critic of corporate globalization, which exploited the misery of the world's poorest nations:
capitalists of the West [are] investing huge sums of money in Asia, Africa and South America, only to take the profits out with no concern for the social betterment of the countries.
The current version of globalization would seem familiar to Dr. King, as the the Southern economic model of all-powerful management, docile low-wage labor, and publicly subsidized operations, is now hugely expanded and ported around the globe.
Were he with us today, Dr. King would stand against the opportunistic politicians overlooking the untaxed wealth of billionaires to target public workers. In choosing which side to take in this growing battle, King would have little trouble making a decision, states Honey:
Efforts to shred public employee unions would have deadly effects on the wages, jobs and living standards of the rest of us—especially African Americans, who constitute the most highly unionized group of workers in the country. King fought for the right of all workers to belong to unions, and died supporting that right in Memphis.


Monday, January 10, 2011

Right Wing Racism and Violence; AZ Shooting; Guns; Healthcare Repeal Will Harm Economy; Republicans Try to Destroy Unions; WikiLeaks; Climate Change; more

- Palin Put a Gun Target on Giffords' District; Now a Colleague Says: 'Palin Needs to Look at Her Own Behavior' After Sarah Palin targeted her district with a gunsight on a map identifying Democrats Palin was urging her followers to "reload" and defeat, Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords said: "We are on Sarah Palin's targeted list. The way that she has it depicted has the crosshairs of the gunsight over our district. When people do that, they have got to realize there are consequences to that action." On Saturday, Giffords, a moderate Democrat who stirred the wrath of right-wingers with her vote for health care reform, was shot by a gunman who had posted "I can't trust the government" videos on the Internet. The shooting spree killed six people, including a federal judge and a nine-year-old girl, and left 13 others injured.

- Now Arizona Wants to Allow Concealed Guns on Campuses Arizona's weak gun laws could reach a new low this spring.  When the Arizona state legislature reconvenes today for the first day of the new session, two gun bills will be on the table for debate.

- Shameless: Right-wing pundit Jim Hoft Falls For Fake Facebook Profile In Attempt To Link Loughner To Obama In the wake of Saturday's tragic shooting in Arizona, Gateway Pundit and Breitbart blogger Jim Hoft has been on a one man mission to prove that the deranged shooter was a "typical leftist nut." This morning, Hoft posted what he seems to think is bulletproof evidence supporting this thesis, but, as is usually the case with him, it is merely evidence that someone as hackishly irresponsible as Hoft should have no role in our national political discourse.

- The Tucson Massacre: After the Cameras Are Gone? The hate here is deafening. We have been sending signals for years now and the hate continues. It is relentless, whether from minutemen, hate-radio loudmouths or from state legislators.

To the parachute journalists and all those that have discovered Arizona overnight, don't forget that. Long after you leave, long after this massacre has ceased to be headline news, we will continue to have to contend with the normalized bigotry and hate against brown peoples that continually comes out of the state capitol and that is nowadays prevalent throughout the state. Please remember this and look at your own communities to see if all this hate is already festering there. I can almost guarantee you that it is. Bring it to light before the next massacre. Perhaps you will prevent the next massacre.

- U.S. Healthcare Law Repeal Hurts Deficits An effort by Republicans in the U.S. House of Representatives to repeal the healthcare law enacted last year would add to already huge federal budget deficits, the Congressional Budget Office warned on Thursday.

- Will the New Assaults on Public Employee Unions Undermine All Workers? Years of demonizing public employee unions as part of a right-wing assault against the labor movement now seems about to pay off...

- Crabs, Birds, Fish: No End to Mysterious Animal Deaths First, it was birds falling from the sky, then thousands of dead fish washing up on shore.

- Great Barrier Reef Under Threat From Floods Australia's spectacular Great Barrier Reef is under threat from massive floods swamping the country's northeast which are pouring harmful debris and sediment into the sea, an expert said Wednesday.

- WikiLeaks Reveals Israel Aimed to Keep Gaza Economy on Brink of Collapse Israel told U.S. officials in 2008 it would keep Gaza's economy "on the brink of collapse" while avoiding a humanitarian crisis, according to U.S. diplomatic cables published by a Norwegian daily on Wednesday.

- Newly Elected Republicans Violate Constitution and US LAW- Miss Swearing-In Oath, Vote on Floor Anyway Two Republicans, including a member of the GOP leadership, voted on the House floor several times despite not having been sworn in, throwing the House into parliamentary turmoil Thursday - the same day the Constitution was read aloud on the floor.

- Canadian Study Sees Global Warming for Centuries Carbon dioxide already emitted into the atmosphere will keep contributing to global warming for centuries, eventually causing a huge Antarctic ice sheet to collapse and lift sea levels, Canadian scientists said on Sunday.

Posted before, but in the wake of the recent shootings it needs to be repeated:
- Fox News Makes You Stupid
- The Truth About "The Truth About Fox News Viewers"

Serious Guns and White Terrorism: Two Unasked Question in Tucson Mass Murder
by Bill Quigley

Question: How does a mentally unstable man who was kicked out of school and had run-ins with the law buy such a serious weapon?

The weapon reportedly used in the mass murders in Tucson was a serious weapon - a Glock 19, semi-automatic pistol, with an extended magazine. Some weapons like that were illegal to sell in the US from 1994 to 2004 under the Federal Assault Weapons Ban. It is now legal to sell and own them. The National Rifle Association reports there are tens of millions of assault weapons in private hands in the US.

The federal background check for people purchasing such weapons only prohibits selling such weapons to people who have been legally determined to be mentally defective or found insane or convicted of crimes. This man had not been found legally mentally defective or convicted so he was legally entitled to purchase an assault weapon. In Arizona he was legally entitled to carry the weapon in a concealed manner.

The US has well over 250 million guns in private hands according to the National Rifle Association. That is more, according to the BBC, than any country in the world. In one year, guns murdered 17 people in Finland, 35 in Australia, 39 in England and Wales, 60 in Spain, 194 in Germany, 200 in Canada, and 9,484 in the United States according to the Brady Campaign.

Does the US really need tens of millions of assault weapons and hundreds of millions of other guns? We already put more of our people in prison than any country in the world and we spend more on our military than all the rest of the world together. How fearful must we be?

Question: Why is there so little talk of terrorism?

Apparently when a mentally unstable white male is accused, terrorism is not the first thing that comes to mind. White terrorism is not a concept the US takes seriously.

When Clay Duke, a white male, threatened Florida school board members with a gun and shot at them before shooting himself, in December 2010, he was mentally imbalanced.

When Michael Enright, a white male, was arrested for slashing the throat of a Muslim NYC cab driver in August of 2010, his friends said he had a drinking problem.

When Byron Williams, a white male, was arrested after opening fire on police officers and admitted he was on his way to kill people at offices of a liberal foundation and a civil liberties organization, in July 2010, he was an unemployed right wing felon with a drinking problem.

When Joe Stack, a white male, flew his private plane into a federal building in Austin, Texas, in February 2010, he was angry with the IRS.

When a white male is accused of mass murder, white terrorism is not much talked of. Rather the mass murder becomes a terrible tragedy but not one where race or ethnicity or religion need be examined.

Now, if the accused had been Muslim, does anyone doubt whether this mass murder would have been considered an act of terrorism? US Muslims could have expected increased surveillance and harassment at home and the places where they work and worship. They could have expected a Congressional inquiry into the radicalization of their people. Oh, Representative Peter King (R-NY) has already started that one!

Bill is Legal Director at the Center for Constitutional Rights and a law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  He is a Katrina survivor and has been active in human rights in Haiti for years with the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti. 


Monday, January 3, 2011

More Proof of Conservative Media; Climate Change Deaths Rise; Republicans Embrace Terrorists; Arizona to Ban Ethnic Studies; Republicans Want War; More Republican Racism; more

- Ethnic Studies ban affects Reason and Justice in Arizona While much condemnation has rightly been expressed toward Arizona's anti-immigrant law, SB 1070, a less-reported and potentially more sinister measure is set to take effect on January 1, 2011. This new law, which was passed by the conservative state legislature at the behest of then-School Superintendent (and now Attorney General-elect) Tom Horne, is designated HB 2281 and is colloquially referred to as a measure to ban ethnic studies programs in the state. As with SB 1070, the implications of this law are problematic, wide-ranging and decidedly hate filled.

- CNN Poll: U.S. opposition to Afghanistan war remains high The survey indicates a partisan divide, with three-quarters of Democrats and more then six in ten independent voters opposed to the war, and Republicans supporting it by a 52 to 44 percent margin. A minority of Democrats and independents say the war is going well, with a majority of Republicans saying things are going well for the U.S. This year the U.S. and its coalition partners ramped up the fight against Taliban militants in Afghanistan. [resulting in the slaughter of more civilians, resulting in more anti-US sentiment, thus breeding more insurgent fighters. So it's become a self sustaining war]

- 2010: Deadliest for natural disasters in a generation The high death toll has less to do with Mother Nature and more to do with mankind. The excessive amount of extreme weather that dominated 2010 is a classic sign of man-made global warming that climate scientists have long warned about. They calculate that the killer Russian heat wave – setting a national record of 44C – would happen once every 100,000 years without global warming. Plus, poor construction and development practices conspire to make nature disasters more deadly than they need be. More people live in poverty in vulnerable buildings in crowded cities. That means that when the ground shakes, the river breaches or the tropical cyclone hits, more people die. "It's a form of suicide, isn't it? We build houses that kill ourselves [in earthquakes]. We build houses in flood zones that drown ourselves," said Roger Bilham, a professor of geological sciences at the University of Colorado. "It's our fault for not anticipating these things. You know, this is the Earth doing its thing."

- 15 Huge Lies Glenn Beck Did Not Get Fired For In 2010 In 2010, Glenn Beck repeatedly made up facts on Fox News show -- a barrage of lies that would force any credible news outlet to fire him. Media Matters counts down 15 of the most notable fibs that Beck told this year on Fox News, culminating with the biggest lie of all.

- Conservative Media Bias Exposed Indeed, a Pew Research Center survey found that of the top 10 most-covered candidates in the midterm elections, conservatives held the top three spots. Here's more evidence. I asked AOL's Relegence team, which tracks more than 30,000 news sites on the Web, to compare coverage of comparable liberals and conservatives over the past 12 months. The results are stark. Conservatives were featured in vastly more stories.

- The Media's Failure to Challenge Corporate Spin and Lies MSNBC’s Chris Matthews had a good laugh during a recent segment about the five biggest political lies of 2010. PolitiFact gave the top prize to Republicans and pundits who repeatedly lied—and got away with it—by calling the healthcare bill a “government takeover.”

- White Power USA: The Rise of Right-Wing Militia in America, a news report by Democracy Now Read the racist comments from republicans in the comments section, while they proclaim they aren't racists.

- Dead birds fall from sky in Arkansas Wildlife experts are trying to determine what caused more than 1,000 blackbirds to die and fall from the sky over the town of Beebe in Arkansas.

Leading Conservatives Openly Support a Terrorist Group
By Glenn Greenwald
Published Jan 3 2011 on

Imagine if a group of leading American liberals met on foreign soil with -- and expressed vocal support for -- supporters of a terrorist group that had (a) a long history of hateful anti-American rhetoric, (b) an active role in both the takeover of a U.S. embassy and Saddam Hussein's brutal 1991 repression of Iraqi Shiites, (c) extensive financial and military support from Saddam, (d) multiple acts of violence aimed at civilians, and (e) years of being designated a "Terrorist organization" by the U.S. under Presidents of both parties, a designation which is ongoing? The ensuing uproar and orgies of denunciation would be deafening.

But on December 23, a group of leading conservatives -- including Rudy Giuliani and former Bush officials Michael Mukasey, Tom Ridge, and Fran Townsend -- did exactly that. In Paris, of all places, they appeared at a forum organized by supporters of the Mujaheddin-e Khalq (MEK) -- a group declared by the U.S. since 1997 to be "terrorist organization" -- and expressed wholesale support for that group. Worse -- on foreign soil -- they vehemently criticized their own country's opposition to these Terrorists and specifically "demanded that Obama instead take the [] group off the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations and incorporate it into efforts to overturn the mullah-led government in Tehran." In other words, they are calling on the U.S. to embrace this Saddam-supported, U.S.-hating Terrorist group and recruit them to help overthrow the government of Iran. To a foreign audience, Mukasey denounced his own country's opposition to these Terrorists as "nothing less than an embarrassment."

Using common definitions, there is good reason for the MEK to be deemed by the U.S. Government to be a Terrorist group. In 2007, the Bush administration declared that "MEK leadership and members across the world maintain the capacity and will to commit terrorist acts in Europe, the Middle East, the United States, Canada, and beyond," and added that the group exhibits "cult-like characteristics." The Council on Foreign Relations has detailed that the MEK has been involved in numerous violent actions over the years, including many directed at Americans, such as "the 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran by Iranian revolutionaries" and "the killings of U.S.military personnel and civilians working on defense projects in Tehran in the 1970s." This is whom Guiliani, Ridge, Townsend and other conservatives are cheering.

Applying the orthodoxies of American political discourse, how can these Terrorist-supporting actions by prominent American conservatives not generate intense controversy? For one thing, their appearance in France to slam their own country's foreign policy blatantly violates the long-standing and rigorously enforced taboo against criticizing the U.S. Government while on dreaded foreign soil (the NYT previously noted that "nothing sets conservative opinion-mongers on edge like a speech made by a Democrat on foreign soil"). Worse, their conduct undoubtedly constitutes the crime of "aiding and abetting Terrorism" as interpreted by the Justice Department -- an interpretation recently upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court's 5-4 decision last year in Holder v. Humanitarian Law. Georgetown Law Professor David Cole represented the Humanitarian Law plaintiffs in their unsuccessful challenge to the DOJ's interpretation of the "material support" statute, and he argues today in The New York Times that as a result of that ruling, it is a felony in the U.S. "to engage in public advocacy to challenge a group's 'terrorist' designation or even to encourage peaceful avenues for redress of grievances."

Like Cole, I believe the advocacy and actions of these Bush officials in support of this Terrorist group should be deemed constitutionally protected free expression. But under American law and the view of the DOJ, it isn't. There are people sitting in prison right now with extremely long prison sentences for so-called "material support for terrorism" who did little different than what these right-wing advocates just did. What justifies allowing these Bush officials to materially support a Terrorist group with impunity?

Then there's CNN. How can they possibly continue to employ someone -- Fran Townsend -- who so openly supports a Terrorist group? Less than six months ago, that network abruptly fired its long-time producer, Octavia Nasr, for doing nothing more than expressing well wishes upon the death of Sayyed Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, one of the Shiite world's most beloved religious figures. Her sentiments were echoed by the British Ambassador to Lebanon, Frances Guy, who wrote a piece entitled "The Passing of a Decent Man," and by the journal Foreign Policy, which hailed him as "a voice of moderation and an advocate of unity." But because Fadlallh had connections to Hezbollah -- a group designated as a Terrorist organization by the U.S. -- and was an opponent of Israel, neocon and other right-wing organs demonized Nasr and CNN quickly accommodated them by ending her career.

Granted, Nasr was a news producer and Townsend is at CNN to provide commentary, but is it even remotely conceivable to imagine CNN employing someone who openly advocated for Hamas or Hezbollah, who met with their supporters on foreign soil and bashed the U.S. for classifying them as a Terrorist organization and otherwise acting against them or, more radically still, demanding that the U.S. embrace these groups as allies? To ask the question is to answer it. So why is Fran Townsend permitted to keep her CNN job even as she openly meets with supporters of a Terrorist group with a long history of violence and anti-American hatred?

There is simply no limit on the manipulation and exploitation of the term "terrorism" by America's political class. Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell support endless policies that slaughter civilians for political ends, yet with a straight face accuse Julian Assange -- who has done nothing like that -- of being a "terrorist." GOP Rep. Peter King is launching a McCarthyite Congressional hearing to investigate radicalism and Terrorism sympathies among American Muslim while ignoring his own long history of enthusiastic support for Catholic Terrorists in Northern Ireland; as Marcy Wheeler says: "Peter King would still be in prison if the US had treated his material support for terrorism as it now does."

And WikiLeaks this morning published a diplomatic cable from the U.S. summarizing the long-discussed meeting on July 25, 1990, at which the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq, April Glaspie, talked to Saddam -- a month before Iraq's invasion of Kuwait -- about the history of extensive American support for his regime, the desire of the U.S. for friendly relations with Saddam, and her statement that the U.S. does not care about Saddam's border disputes with Kuwait (Glaspie recorded that she told Saddam: "then, as now, we took no positions on these Arab affairs"). Months later, the U.S. attacked Iraq and cited a slew of human rights abuses and support for Terrorism that took place when the U.S. was arming and supporting Saddam and during the time they had removed Iraq from the list of State Sponsors of Terrorism in order to provide that support.

The reason there isn't more uproar over these Bush officials' overt foreign-soil advocacy on behalf of a Terrorist group is because they want to use that group's Terrorism to advance U.S. aims. Using Terrorism on behalf of American interests is always permissible, because the actual definition of a Terrorist -- the one that our political and media class universally embraces -- is nothing more than this: "someone who impedes or defies U.S. will with any degree of efficacy."

Even though the actions of these Bush officials violate every alleged piety about bashing one's own country on foreign soil and may very well constitute a felony under U.S. law, they will be shielded from criticisms because they want to use the Terrorist group to overthrow a government that refuses to bow to American dictates. Embracing Terrorist groups is perfectly acceptable when used for that end. That's why Fran Townsend will never suffer the fate of Octavia Nasr, and why her fellow Bush officials will never be deemed Terrorist supporters by the DOJ or establishment media outlets, even though what they've done makes them, by definition, exactly that.

UPDATE: Amazingly, Fran Townsend, on CNN, hailed the Supreme Court's decision in Humanitarian Law -- the Supreme Court ruling that upheld the DOJ's view that one can be guilty of "material support for terrorism" simply by talking to or advocating for a Terrorist group -- and enthusiastically agreed when Wolf Blitzer said, while interviewing her: "If you're thinking about even voicing support for a terrorist group, don't do it because the government can come down hard on you and the Supreme Court said the government has every right to do so." Yet "voicing support for a terrorist group" is exactly what Townsend is now doing -- and it makes her a criminal under the very Supreme Court ruling that she so gleefully praised.