Friday, July 31, 2009

It's time to take the profit out of occupation

Dear Tim,

Dear Friends,

Rabbi GottliebThere is a Jewish teaching: "Thou shall not derive personal pleasure or benefit from any product created through exploitation." AHAVA, an Israeli cosmetics company, is violating the basic principles of international law and Jewish ethics by profiting from the occupation of Palestine. Using resources from the ancient waters of the Dead Sea, AHAVA manufactures beauty products in an illegal Israeli settlement in Occupied Palestine.

AHAVA means love in Hebrew. But there's nothing loving about profiting from occupation. There's nothing loving about stealing resources from our neighbors.

As one of the first practicing women rabbis, as a Jew and as concerned human being, I endorse CODEPINK's new campaign to boycott AHAVA.

For over 40 years, I have been working to promote justice and reconciliation in the Middle East. I have watched more settlements, walls and checkpoints being built, and more Palestinians arrested and ground down by poverty, hunger, illness and oppression. After decades of working for peace through dialogue, I've come to believe that it's time to apply new tactics. It's time for us to listen to the Israeli and Palestinian peace activists who are calling on us to boycott Israeli products made in Occupied Palestine. It's time to take the profit out of the occupation.

Join me in boycotting AHAVA. Pass this message to your friends and neighbors: The fruits of occupation are simply not kosher!

Rabbi Lynn Gottlieb
Cofounder, Shomer Shalom Network for Jewish Nonviolence
Member of CODEPINK

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A soldiers take on M. Jackson's death

This is written by a young soldier serving his third tour of duty in Iraq.

Thought you might find his take on the Michael Jackson news interesting and

he's right.

Okay, I need to rant.

I was just watching the news, and I caught part of a report on Michael Jackson. As we all know, Jackson died the other day. He was an entertainer who performed for decades. He made millions, he spent millions, and he did

a lot of things that make him a villain to many people. I understand that his death would affect a lot of people, and I respect those people who mourn his death, but that isn't the point of my rant.

Why is it that when ONE man dies, the whole of America loses their minds

with grief. When a man dies whose only contribution to the country was to ENTERTAIN people, the American people find the need to flock to a memorial in Hollywood, and even Congress sees the need to hold a "moment of silence"

for his passing?0A

Am I missing something here? ONE man dies, and all of a sudden he's a freaking martyr because he entertained us for a few decades? What about all those SOLDIERS who have died to give us freedom? All those Soldiers who,

knowing that they would be asked to fight in a war, still raised their hands and swore to defend the Constitution and the United States of America.

Where is their moment of silence? Where are the people flocking to their

graves or memorials and mourning over them because they made the ultimate sacrifice? Why is it when a Soldier dies, there are more people saying "good riddence," and "thank God for IEDs?" When did this country become so

calloused to the sacrifice of GOOD MEN and WOMEN, that they can arbitrarily blow off their deaths, and instead, throw themselves into mourning for a "Pop Icon?"

I think that if they are going to hold a moment of silence IN CONGRESS for

Michael Jackson, they need to hold a moment of silence for every service member killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. They need to PUBLICLY recognize every life that has been lost so that the American people can live their

callous little lives in the luxury and freedom that WE, those that are living and those that have gone on, have provided for them.

But, wait, that would take too much time, because there have been so many willing to make that sacrifice. After all, we will never make millions of

dollars. We

will never star in movies, or write hit songs that the world will listen too. We only shed our blood, sweat and tears so that people can enjoy what they have.

Sorry if I have offended, but I needed to say it. Remember these five words

the next time you think of someone who is serving in the military;

"So that others may live..."


P.S.- "So that other's may live..." was also the creed of the Air Rescue &

Recovery Service during Vietnam & is still today.

Iraq as "Actor and Stakeholder"

Dahr Jamail, Truthout: "Just like the myth of Iraq's 'sovereignty,' the myth of US withdrawal is just that. Until the latter occurs, the former does not stand a chance. This is particularly so, as long as Iraq, like Afghanistan, are arenas where the US military is being used to 'ensure that all major and emerging powers are integrated as constructive actors and stakeholders into the international system.'"

Monday, July 27, 2009

Kuwait financier facing U.S. fraud suit found dead

By Rania El Gamal and Eman Goma

KUWAIT (Reuters) - A brash Kuwaiti financier facing a fraud suit by U.S. authorities was found dead Sunday in an apparent suicide that sent shockwaves through the Gulf Arab financial sector.

A security source told Reuters that Hazem Al-Braikan appeared to have died from a single gunshot wound to the side of the head, while a policeman standing outside Braikan's house said the well-connected financier, 37, had shot himself.

Prepare to Disengage

Elaine Elinson, Daily Journal Corporation: "During the Vietnam War, GI dissent was both documented and nurtured by a slew of underground GI newspapers. Papers like 'Up Against the Bulkhead,' 'Harass the Brass' and 'About Face' were mimeographed and passed from base to base, hand to hand. These bold, clever, ragtag papers gave voice to the soldiers' rage against the injustices of the military and offered advice on everything from filing for conscientious-objector status to organizing anti-war protests."

52 percent of US soldiers wounded in Iraq, Afghanistan diagnosed with TBI

The Mainichi Daily News: "Some 52 percent of soldiers severely injured in Iraq and Afghanistan who have come to the US Army's largest hospital for treatment have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries (TBI), an internal study has found."

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Cheney Pressured Bush to Authorize Use of Military on US Soil

Jason Leopold, Truthout: "Former Vice President Dick Cheney pressured President George W. Bush and other top administration officials to deploy US soldiers to a Buffalo, New York, suburb to arrest suspected terrorists, according to a report."

Friday, July 24, 2009

McChrystal Implicated in Torture

Dietary manipulation was one of 14 interrogation techniques that were outside the Army Field Manual but used as a matter of policy by the Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq when it was under the leadership of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who President Obama has now tapped to run the war in Afghanistan. The 14 techniques were more "than...any other military organization at that time," according to a 2004 report by Vice Admiral Albert T. Church, then the Naval Inspector General. Other techniques including use of muzzled dogs, "safety positions," sleep adjustment/management, "mild" physical contact, isolation, sensory overload and sensory deprivation.

McChrystal's tenure began shortly after Amin's five-day stay at Camp Nama but coincided with the abuses alleged in the New York Times and Human Rights Watch reports.

President Barack Obama meets with Army Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, in the Oval Office at the White House, May 19, 2009. McChrystal, who was head of Joint Special Operations Command in Iraq, is now the commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan.
None of the senators on the Armed Services Committee asked McChyrstal about Camp Nama during his confirmation hearing for the Afghanistan post last month. McChrystal testified that he does not condone mistreatment of detainees and that he was uncomfortable with some of the interrogation techniques he found in place in Iraq when he assumed his command in October 2003, adding that he immediately sought to reduce the use of certain methods.

In a sharp follow-up query to McChrystal after the hearing, however, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) pointed out that seven months into his command McChrystal made a request to Gen. John Abizaid, head of U.S. military operations in the Middle East, for permission to use five additional "enhanced" interrogation techniques not listed in the Army Field Manual - techniques that had been suspended by Abizaid two months prior - including "sleep management," "control positions," and "environmental manipulation." As an addendum, McChrystal asked that, in "exceptional circumstances," handcuffs be allowed to "enforce the detainee's position."

Abizaid denied McChrystal's request to use control positions, but approved the other four, which, in his written response to Levin's query, McChrystal said he used "sparingly." He also noted that he chose not to request permission to use physical contact or diet manipulation, "techniques which were in use by the SMUs [Special Mission Units] when I assumed command," he wrote

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Senate Won't Vote on Health Care Before Break

The Senate will not vote on health care legislation before
leaving for its summer recess on Aug. 8, Senator Harry Reid
of Nevada, the majority leader, said on Thursday, finally
acknowledging publicly the inescapable political reality that
has been clear for several days.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


The California Democratic Party, long in the vanguard of anti-war politics, is officially endorsing the Afghanistan exit strategy legislation by Rep. Jim McGovern, which was supported by a majority of House Democrats and opposed by the Obama administration.

Grass roots Democrats failed to achieve unity on the wording of an anti-war platform to propose to the party’s executive board, and faced internal party resistance to any criticism of the Obama Afghanistan policy. Their efforts were derailed until Burton intervened last week.

The resolution is the beginning of an effort at bottom-up anti-war organizing in other state Democratic parties. The resolutions are organizing tools for grass-roots education and increasing pressure on Congress when they return to the Long War issues in the coming session.

It was California Democrats who sparked the anti-Vietnam revolt within the party in 1967. In 2004, it was Howard Dean who triggered a similar questioning as the national primaries began. Tom Hayden

Two big victories on the F-22

Dear Tim,

We just had two amazing victories!

Yesterday, the Senate voted 58 to 40 to end production of the F-22 fighter jet. Thank you for telling your members of Congress that you do not support the F-22.

Prior to yesterday’s vote, President Obama threatened to veto any bill that included the F-22.This is significant because presidents are rarely willing to take the political risk of vetoing a defense authorization bill.

These victories are extremely important. The F-22 is a symbol. Defense Secretary Gates suggested cuts in the production of these war planes because they’re outdated and hugely expensive. If we can’t cut a program that no one wants, what military spending programs can we cut? The success of any future effort to cut military bloat will be hobbled if contractor lobbyists can persuade Congress to give the Pentagon more F-22s it doesn’t want and can’t use.

There are a few more steps before this victory is complete. Act today to keep the momentum going.

This morning, the House Appropriations Committee produced their version of a defense appropriations bill that included funding for the F-22. This funding needs to be stripped from the bill.

Please tell your representative to support amendments to remove F-22 funding from the defense appropriations bill when it comes to the floor next week.

When you e-mail, please personalize the suggested message:

* Say you are a constituent
* Explain why you care about this issue
* Ask your representative to support initiatives to cut funding for the F-22
* Thank your representative for his/her time

The final step to end production of additional F-22s will happen behind closed doors when a select group of Congress members negotiate a compromise between House and Senate versions of the bills to set military spending policies (authorization) and the spending itself (appropriations).

A strong voice from constituents today will help ensure that no back room deals are struck to reinstate the F-22.

Thank you for your good work to turn the tide on bloated military budgets.

In peace,

Mark Graham

Mark Graham
For AFSC’s Wage Peace Campaign team

45 Million Uninsured, BUT—

"Good News:" A Health Insurer Reports Soaring Profits
The quarterly earnings statement of one of the nation’s largest health insurers this week reported increased profits of nearly 155 per cent above a year ago. Its net earnings were more than $850 million.
All of us, in the midst of the recession malaise and the catastrophic loss of jobs, are expected to stand up and applaud this triumph of American corporate enterprise.
All of us, it should be added, with the exception of the more than 45 million people in America who aren’t covered by health insurance and can’t afford a cancer checkup. Add the thousands who are losing it every day.
The story in one of the newspapers I read detailing the big profit increase offered a caveat to head off any rash notion that the world is peaches and cream for corporate health insurers. “Unemployment could continue to surge,” it warned, “cutting membership roles (those who can afford insurance). Health reform could produce a government health plan, creating competition and crimping profit.”
Oh, the ugliness of it for the swashbucklers of the insurance industry--health care reform and actual competition in the market place for the corporate health insurers, who are now free to pick and choose who they are going to insure and whose lives they have the power to save.
And the debate drones on, each day diminishing the credibility of the reform advocates.
It widens the target zone for the obstructer posses who have outlasted and outtalked their quarreling opponents before. They are primed, combative and confident they can do it again. Poll results, being brandished and plugged on the networks, now tell us that the American people are getting tired of it and want nothing more than peace and quiet.
Except the 45 million who have no protection.
Most Americans don’t fully understand the internals of the competing policy plans now being discussed in the daily rag-chewing of the congressional deliberations. How could they?
What we know for certain is the ferocity of the opposition to health care reform and to any significant measure of government involvement in that reform. We also know for certain that, every day, thousands of Americans are losing their homes and in danger of adding to the toll of the uninsured. We also know the virtually forgotten truth of the debate is that the American health care system in its present form is one of the most inefficient and costliest in the civilized world, a cost swelled by claims agents whose primary jobs are to deny claims.
But the very complexity of reforming it through the legislative process, the horse-trading involved in it, is an open invitation to the “outs” in today’s political climate in Washington. That is to ignore the reality of millions of Americans being squeezed harder every day by a recession brought on by the same voices of greed and privilege who are now trying to sink health care reform.
It’s time, one of them heroically announced, “to move in for the kill,” meaning bury the reform and with it the Democrats’ cred when they go before the voters in 2010 and 2012,
These are the same voices that howled in pain a few weeks ago at the thought of any serious restrictions on the banking and credit card industries in their dismal collaboration to dupe customers with small print language that would bewitch a courtroom of lawyers.
They are the same voices that told us Wall Street could be trusted to weed out the crooks and shills who are now being paid millions of dollars by the taxpayers to dig the country out of the financial crash they ignited.
The alternative for fighting this fight to the finish is to postpone a showdown on health and the risk of defeat.
Do that, and everybody loses, except those who don’t have to worry about insurance.

By Jim Klobuchar
Jim Klobuchar Writes
July 22,2009

Jim Klobuchar returns to an arena that will be familiar to his readers when he was a columnist for the MINNEAPOLIS STAR TRIBUNE. You’ll find here a periodic mix of commentary and personal reflections drawn from a lifetime in daily journalism. They might season your day.

cJim Klobuchar

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

The Sotomayor hearings are a sham

The Republican Majority is using it to build cred with its dwinding racist base, in the process showing off how sexist, ignorant and intolerant they can be. But what really makes the hearings a sham is the mainstream media's broadcasting this showing of Right wing abuses of a Latina woman.

We don't need to see them doing it. They don't deserve to be given the attention.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Franken finally gets sworn in

July 7, 2009 WASHINGTON - Al Franken was sworn in Tuesday as Minnesota's second U.S. senator. No joke.
New colleagues give Minnesota's junior senator a rousing welcome, predicting that a new side of Franken will be on display.
In a ceremony that started a few minutes late -- and 246 days after the election -- the former Saturday Night Live comedian joined the Senate with a simple "I do."

Flanked by Sen. Amy Klobuchar and former Vice President Walter Mondale, Franken received a standing ovation from family members, supporters and others in the public galleries. Vice President Joe Biden offered his congratulations, and a packed Senate gallery that included Franken's wife, Franni, erupted into hugs and applause.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Cheney Is Linked to Concealment of C.I.A. Project

Published: July 11, 2009 The Central Intelligence Agency withheld information about a secret counter terrorism program from Congress for eight years on direct orders from former Vice President Dick Cheney, the agency’s director, Leon E। Panetta, has told the Senate and House intelligence committees, two people with direct knowledge of the matter said Saturday।

Nine stages of civilization

The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations has been two hundred years.
These nations have progressed through this sequence:

1. From bondage to spiritual faith;
2. from spiritual faith to great courage;
3. from courage to liberty;
4. from liberty to abundance;
5. from abundance to selfishness;
6. from selfishness to complacency;
7. from complacency to apathy;
8. from apathy to dependence; <—– you are here.
9. from dependency back again into bondage.

Sir Alex Fraser Tyler: (1742-1813) Scottish jurist and historian

Remarkable isn’t it? Historians looking through the past have been able to chart a civilizations growth much like we chart a child’s growth. And looking through our own history we can see the social and political changes each stage listed above represents.

Now we enter the time of dependence. Not independence. This generation doesn’t want to have to work, fail and try again. They want risk reduced to almost nothing and are willing to exchange the ‘risk’ in freedom for security. Security is an illusion. But for the chance to gain it, we will give up our liberties and freedoms to the government. The nanny state has begun and now becomes even more intrusive.

Instead of the people deciding what businesses ought to fail due to bad management and other things, the government will now make that determination. They will decide what businesses to bail out and what businesses to let fail. They will take interest in our banks and financial institutions directing them on which loans to make by insuring those loans with your tax dollars. And who will bear the brunt of all this? You my dear taxpayer. You will.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Beyond the Yellow Ribbon: Hope for Returning Veterans

Friday 10 July 2009 Bill Scheurer, Truthout: "Extensive information in the popular and scientific press shows that veterans are 'falling through the cracks' of our medical system. In a strange new twist of 'don't ask, don't tell' military culture, many veterans do not tell physicians about their military service and health care practitioners do not ask." http://www।truthout।org/071009A?n

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

White House, Hospitals Reach Deal on Health Care

"The nation's hospitals will give up $155 billion in future Medicare and Medicaid payments to help defray the cost of President Barack Obama's health care plan, a concession the White House hopes will boost an overhaul effort that's hit a roadblock in Congress।

Rove Deposed in US Attorney Probe

John Bresnahan and Josh Gerstein, The Politico: "Former White House Deputy Chief of Staff Karl Rove was deposed Tuesday by attorneys for the House Judiciary Committee, according to Rep। John Conyers (D-Mich।), the panel's chairman। Rove's deposition began at 10 a।m। and ended around 6:30 p।m, with several breaks, Conyers said। Conyers would not comment on what Rove told congressional investigators, what the next step in the long-running Judiciary Committee investigation would be or whether Rove would face additional questioning।"


The truth is that American military escalation will not liberate the women of Afghanistan। Instead, the hardships of war take a disproportionate toll on women and their families. There are 1,000 displaced families in a Kabul refugee camp, and they're suffering for lack of food and blankets.

Friday, July 3, 2009

National Day of Prayer

Dear Worshippers:

Please join in a Nation Day of Prayer for the USA on Sunday, July 5th. Pray that God would forgive the sins of our nation; pray that God would be restored to His rightful position as leader of our country; pray that we, as a nation, could repent and return to Him; pray He would be our God, and that we, once again, could be His people. Pray that God would restore our homeland, and that all in our land would know that Jesus is Lord.

Norton Lawellin

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Iraq Vote Could Oust US Troops Early

Maya Schenwar, Truthout: "As US combat troops retreated from Iraqi urban centers on Tuesday, signs of an incomplete withdrawal abounded। Some soldiers remained in cities, their labels changed from 'combat troops' to 'trainers' or 'advisers,' while others relocated to bases close outside city borders। However, the US-Iraq security pact approved last December requires that every single US troop withdraw from the country by December 31, 2011, and an upcoming referendum vote in Iraq may demand an even quicker deadline।"

Senate Already Passed A Budget That Can Pay For A Public Option

Posted: 01 Jul 2009 11:03 PM PDT

The Congressional Budget Office has put an estimated price tag on the health care reform bill from the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP). The plan includes a public option, and will cost just over $600 billion over ten years:
Democrats on a key Senate Committee outlined a revised and far less costly health care plan Wednesday night that includes a government-run insurance option and an annual fee on employers who do not offer coverage to their workers.

The plan carries a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600 billion, and would lead toward an estimated 97 percent of all Americans having coverage, according to the Congressional Budget Office, Sens. Edward M. Kennedy and Chris Dodd said in a letter to other members of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. The AP obtained a copy.

By contrast, an earlier, incomplete proposal carried a price tag of roughly $1 trillion and would have left millions uninsured, CBO analysts said in mid-June.

The most noteworthy part of this is that a 10-year price tag of slightly over $600 billion is slightly less than the $634 billion President Obama set aside for health care spending in the budget:

President Barack Obama's first budget will seek $634 billion over 10 years as a down payment on health care reform, a senior administration official said Wednesday.

The Senate has already passed the budget with the health care spending intact:

The Senate easily passed a $3.55 trillion federal budget late Thursday night to kick off a two-week recess, giving President Obama most of what he wanted in his first spending plan in office.

Senators voted 55-43 for a plan that was championed by the White House and congressional Democrats as key to reviving the nation's economy and panned by Republicans as too expensive to adopt.(...)

The Senate budget closely parallels the proposal put forth by Obama, trimming it only by $12 billion in non-defense discretionary spending

Add it all up, and the Senate has already passed a budget that can pay for the public option. While a few details need to be clarified, the overall structure is now in place.

At this point, the only way that a public plan does not pass into law is if right-wing Democratic ideologues like Joe Lieberman overwhelm The Progressive Bloc(k). You can make sure that doesn't happen by using the Citizen Whip Count tool at FireDogLake.