If you’re travelling by air this summer, here’s something to think about


How did we go from thisTo this.....

to finally this?

How did we go from the picture in the top to the one in the middle  to the bottom photo in airports today? FEAR! I read where millimeter wave scanning is voluntary and if a passenger chooses NOT to have it, then they must submit to a pat down search!?!! In all my years of flying, I’ve never had one of those. Oh sure, I’ve had the “magic wand” swept around my body and been told to remove my shoes a time or two, but physical touching, or laying of hands? Never had it done in any airport. So why is this the alternative offered to body imaging scanners? In any event, for those of you more modest than the rest, make sure you wear underwear like the people in ALL of the millimeter wave scanning photos posted for public consumption, that doesn’t expose your genitals and you too can feel good about your body image being seen by someone you don’t know and can’t see. TSA? Titillating Sexual Appetites!

It’s NO! For now…..


I didn’t even begin to touch on the machinations of the accord the US is trying to draw up with Iraq, although I have mentioned some of the coercion they’re using to get Iraq to accept. It really is about Iraqi sovereignty, as the Iraqis claim and about American hegemony in the area which is not so widely claimed.  Besides wanting to establish between fifty to sixty permanent US military bases in Iraq, more than double the number presently there, the American government also wants to be able to determine if a hostile act from another country is aggression against Iraq, control over Iraqi air space up to 30,000 feet and immunity from prosecution for U.S. troops and private military contractors.

Some of these points have been rejected by the Iraqis before, notably immunity for private military contractors, but Iraqis have always been appeased and the issue settled to the satisfaction of both parties.  The language of the accord being considered also mentions the ability for the US to determine who is an aggressor against Iraq which leads some to think the US is aiming at Iran and that’s something the Shi’iah dominated Iraqi government doesn’t want!  With sixty military bases scattered throughout Iraq any provocation  or  casus belli could be construed as an act of war.  Keep in mind the US has been trying to convince the public that the Iranians are responsible for the insurgency movement especially in the south of Iraq, but such claims under closer scrutiny have usually turned out to be uncorroborated.

Finally, the Iraqi government has gone on record about this dispute and for now it’s a resounding no! They have even gone so far as to say they want the US out of Iraq and that they’re prepared to go it alone.  We’ve heard such talk before and it will probably turn into nothing, as far as the Iraqi government is concerned. However, there is this interesting little sidebar.

Hardline Iraqi cleric Moqtada Al Sadr will set up a new force to battle US troops.”We will not stop resisting the occupation until liberation or martyrdom,” Sadr told his more than 60,000-strong Mahdi Army militia.

The fight against US troops will now be waged only by the new group, while other members will “take on a social and religious role,” Sadr said in a statement which was read out at mosques in the holy Shi’ite town of Kufa.

The announcement came amid controversy in Iraq and in neighbouring Iran over negotiations between Baghdad and Washington for a new pact to cover the US military presence when a UN mandate expires at the end of the year.

Juan Cole seems to suggest Sadr’s army numbers in the millions and with that the case the potential could be devastating for the future of Iraq.

Very nice video


I always liked this video from the moment I first saw it.  There are three parts to it which gives a glimpse of who Muslims are in America.  I strongly urge you to take the time to look at all three parts, or any part, in its entirety!  You might be surprised to find your neighbor, whom you may like very much, in this film.

Blackmail American government style


In an earlier blog we reported how the US is withholding Iraqi funds in a bid to garner support from the Iraqis for permanent US military bases in their country.  Now in a new twist, perhaps, the government is taking things up a notch, demanding the Iraqis recognize and establish relations with Israel, or not receive US aid.  Without their own money or money from their prime benefactor, it’s a sure bet Iraq will be a two-bit banana republic in constant turmoil and strife for decades to come, which is exactly what the neocons want!

A side bar to this is, this is something being debated in Congress, the primary residence of AIPAC.  Neither the Administration nor the Israeli government have come up with such a proposal, probably due to the explosive nature such a proposal would bring, so this is just one more indication of the power of the lobby.  Stay tuned.

A beleagured Bush gets slapped by the Supreme Court


President Bush has been repudiated by the US Supreme Court in their decision allowing even foreigners held in Guantanamo Bay the right to appeal in US courts! The high court ruled unconstitutional a provision in the Military Commissions Act which kept US courts out of the range of detainees at Gitmo. No matter what the talking heads say, this is the third defeat for Bush before the US Supreme Court since 2004.

What Bush is faced with, in the waning days of his presidency is a defeat at the hands of the judicial as well as the timid legislative branches of government. For the latter, the assault is on two fronts. First Kucinich’s sponsorship of articles of impeachment, which he says he has support for from other legislators, and John Conyers attempts to investigate Bush for war crimes coupled with this latest round of defeat at the hands of the Court don’t bode well for Bush’s “legacy”.

GUILTY!


Here are the 35 articles of impeachment Dennis Kucinich placed on the record.

Article I Creating a Secret Propaganda Campaign to Manufacture a False Case for War Against Iraq.

Article II Falsely, Systematically, and with Criminal Intent Conflating the Attacks of September 11, 2001, With Misrepresentation of Iraq as a Security Threat as Part of Fraudulent Justification for a War of Aggression.

Article III Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, to Manufacture a False Case for War.

Article IV Misleading the American People and Members of Congress to Believe Iraq Posed an Imminent Threat to the United States.

Article V Illegally Misspending Funds to Secretly Begin a War of Aggression.

Article VI Invading Iraq in Violation of the Requirements of HJRes114.

Article VII Invading Iraq Absent a Declaration of War.

Article VIII Invading Iraq, A Sovereign Nation, in Violation of the UN Charter.

Article IX Failing to Provide Troops With Body Armor and Vehicle Armor

Article X Falsifying Accounts of US Troop Deaths and Injuries for Political Purposes

Article XI Establishment of Permanent U.S. Military Bases in Iraq

Article XII Initiating a War Against Iraq for Control of That Nation’s Natural Resources

Article XIIII Creating a Secret Task Force to Develop Energy and Military Policies With Respect to Iraq and Other Countries

Article XIV Misprision of a Felony, Misuse and Exposure of Classified Information And Obstruction of Justice in the Matter of Valerie Plame Wilson, Clandestine Agent of the Central Intelligence Agency

Article XV Providing Immunity from Prosecution for Criminal Contractors in Iraq

Article XVI Reckless Misspending and Waste of U.S. Tax Dollars in Connection With Iraq and US Contractors

Article XVII Illegal Detention: Detaining Indefinitely And Without Charge Persons Both U.S. Citizens and Foreign Captives

Article XVIII Torture: Secretly Authorizing, and Encouraging the Use of Torture Against Captives in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Other Places, as a Matter of Official Policy

Article XIX Rendition: Kidnapping People and Taking Them Against Their Will to “Black Sites” Located in Other Nations, Including Nations Known to Practice Torture

Article XX Imprisoning Children

Article XXI Misleading Congress and the American People About Threats from Iran, and Supporting Terrorist Organizations Within Iran, With the Goal of Overthrowing the Iranian Government

Article XXII Creating Secret Laws

Article XXIII Violation of the Posse Comitatus Act

Article XXIV Spying on American Citizens, Without a Court-Ordered Warrant, in Violation of the Law and the Fourth Amendment

Article XXV Directing Telecommunications Companies to Create an Illegal and Unconstitutional Database of the Private Telephone Numbers and Emails of American Citizens

Article XXVI Announcing the Intent to Violate Laws with Signing Statements

Article XXVII Failing to Comply with Congressional Subpoenas and Instructing Former Employees Not to Comply

Article XXVIII Tampering with Free and Fair Elections, Corruption of the Administration of Justice

Article XXIX Conspiracy to Violate the Voting Rights Act of 1965

Article XXX Misleading Congress and the American People in an Attempt to Destroy Medicare

Article XXXI Katrina: Failure to Plan for the Predicted Disaster of Hurricane Katrina, Failure to Respond to a Civil Emergency

Article XXXII Misleading Congress and the American People, Systematically Undermining Efforts to Address Global Climate Change

Article XXXIII Repeatedly Ignored and Failed to Respond to High Level Intelligence Warnings of Planned Terrorist Attacks in the US, Prior to 911.

Article XXXIV Obstruction of the Investigation into the Attacks of September 11, 2001

Article XXXV Endangering the Health of 911 First Responders

Similarities?


While flipping through the cyber pages I ran across this photograph of Baghdad after a terrorist bombing, from perceived friends or enemies and could help but think how it looks so much like others I have seen over the years.


It looks surprisingly like this photo of Jenin after being ransacked by Israelis.  Even if you consider the pictures quite different the effect is the same.  The displacement of an indigenous population through terror.

It’s here!


For all you techno geeks, and I include myself among them, the 3G Apple iPhone is finally here.  Some of us have salivated over it for months, but I’m not one to review it, because I can’t give it justice.  There are plenty of  places where you can find good reviews so check them out.  I hope you can now go back to sleeping soundly without all the tossing and turning and  dreaming and scheming this device might have caused you previously.  Knowing what I now know, I can!

Myth busted!


A recent “fatwa” by a Canadian Muslim scholar Sheikh Ahmad Kutty reveals, contrary to popular belief, it is not the ideal of Islam to convert everyone to become Muslim or under Islamic law known as shariah.

Muslims’ duty is not to convert the world to Islam; rather it is limited to witnessing the truth of Islam. This is best done by living Islam in word, deed, and behavior. Once Muslims have thus witnessed the truth of Islam, they have fulfilled their mandate. Allah says, [And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be the bearers of witness to the people and (that) the Messenger [Muhammad] may be a bearer of witness to you] (Al-Baqarah 2:143).


Muslims are not allowed to go beyond the above to coerce people to embrace Islam. To do so is clearly contrary to the Qur’anic imperative that states,
[There is no compulsion in religion; truly the right way has become clearly distinct from error; therefore, whoever disbelieves in satan and believes in Allah, he indeed has laid hold on the firmest handle, which shall not break off, and Allah is All-Hearing, All-Knowing] (Al-Baqarah 2:256).


Furthermore, we are also told time and again that people are free to choose to believe or disbelieve, and that each one is ultimately responsible for the choice he or she has made. It further adds that it is up to Allah to guide people. The Qur’an goes on to state clearly,
[Yet no faith will the greater part of mankind have, however ardently You [Muhammad] does desire it] (Yusuf 12:103).


Muslims are, therefore, to confine themselves to serve as witnesses of truth by observing the methodology as enunciated by the Qur’an,

[Call (all mankind) unto your Lord’s way with wisdom and goodly exhortation, and argue with them in the most kindly manner: for, behold, your Lord knows best as to who stray from His path, and best knows He as to who are the right-guided] (An-Nahl 16:125).

Kutty, for those who don’t remember or know, was one of several Muslims detained by American officials in 2003 while on a trip to Florida to speak at an Islamic conference.  It goes without saying, he didn’t make it, but coming so quickly after the 911 attacks this writer wonders why would authorities seek to silence the voice of one who makes the types of proclamations quoted above? Kutty asks an even more pointed question.

“Some Muslims used to call me a paid agent of America because I stood up for their ideals of freedom and dignity … These are the kinds of values that we want to teach, the universal values, instead of the cultural baggage that so many immigrants bring with them from India or the Middle East …

“But if the American immigration officials can go after me and Hamid who are well-known for preaching moderation, what happens to ordinary Muslims?”

Bored law agencies need to spy on you


Let’s put this another way, the war on terrorism is going so badly in the US, simply because there aren’t any terrorist, that all the law agencies set up to fight them have to now turn their attention to law abiding citizens!  That was always the plan, but they had to scare the population into supporting the establishment of so many law agencies, perhaps the highest per capita in the world.  Now, the chickens have come home to roost.

Fusion centers are collaborative law enforcement and intelligence organizations that were established all over the country after 9/11 to share intelligence and counterterrorism information. But in the absence of a widespread domestic terrorist threat, they have not consistently demonstrated their value, according to a recent study.

“Fusion centers emerged almost spontaneously in response to a need by state and local law enforcement for useful and usable intelligence related to the evolving terrorist threat,” observed Milton Nenneman, a Sacramento police officer, in a master’s thesis (pdf) based on a survey of California fusion centers.

But the terrorist threat has turned out to be “insufficient” to justify or sustain the new fusion centers.

There is, more often than not, insufficient purely ‘terrorist’ activity to support a multi-jurisdictional and multi-governmental level fusion center that exclusively processes terrorist activity,” said Lt. Nenneman.

As a result, “Fusion centers must consider analyzing or processing other criminal activity, in addition to terrorist activity, in order to maintain the skills and interest of the analysts, as well as the participation and data collection of the emergency responder community.”

Agencies with budgets approaching independent countries are now turning their attention on “criminal activity”, whatever that means, to keep the mental acumen of their analyst employees sharp.  What will agencies established to fight terrorist whose employees are responders to terrorism do to remain proficient when there are no terrorists to fight? Is anyone interested in that question?

More lies about Iraq


We blogged earlier about US plans to establish permanent bases in Iraqi and how some considered that an infringement on Iraqi sovereignty.  Naturally, Iraqis aren’t too enamored to the idea, as well they shouldn’t, so when things got out of hand one day recently, President Bush made a phone call to the Iraqi Prime Minister to assure him “Washington was not seeking to undermine Iraq’s sovereignty and that America would reconsider any contentious part of the agreement.” Obviously that’s diplomatic language used to diffuse a tense situation in Iraq as many Iraqis took to the street to protest the impending agreement.  However, America wants what it wants and uses a big stick to get it, Iraqi sovereignty be damned!

The US is holding hostage some $50bn (£25bn) of Iraq’s money in the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to pressure the Iraqi government into signing an agreement seen by many Iraqis as prolonging the US occupation indefinitely, according to information leaked to The Independent.

US negotiators are using the existence of $20bn in outstanding court judgments against Iraq in the US, to pressure their Iraqi counterparts into accepting the terms of the military deal……The US is able to threaten Iraq with the loss of 40 per cent of its foreign exchange reserves because Iraq’s independence is still limited by the legacy of UN sanctions and restrictions imposed on Iraq since Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in the 1990s. This means that Iraq is still considered a threat to international security and stability under Chapter Seven of the UN charter. The US negotiators say the price of Iraq escaping Chapter Seven is to sign up to a new “strategic alliance” with the United States.

So despite the fact Saddam is DEAD and a new government has been installed, supposedly with the full support of the United States, the Iraqi government can still be considered a threat to international security or they can sign the agreement the US wants and possibly get their money back. Doesn’t sound like respect for one’s sovereignty to me.

The difference between symbolism and substance


The House Democrats, some 50 plus of them want Bush investigated for war crimes, but are appealing to the Justice Dept’s Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor.  Given Mukasey’s contempt for this Congress, this move on the part of the Democrats is symbolism.  They know it won’t lead anywhere, except a mention in the Congressional Record perhaps, which can be removed later.  It would be interesting to know how many of the signatories to this  are also supporters of Dennis Kucinich’s articles of impeachment against the President.

Militarists in the Pentagon averted a strike against Iran last year, according to a news report, by asking the Administration just how far they were prepared to go in escalating a war.  By getting the Administration to commit and understand the gravity of their request, Pentagon officials were able to get the Bush admin to back down.  It seems Cheney was the chief agent provocateur. This was substance, because it led to a definite outcome that affected the lives of millions of people.  In a nutshell we see the difference between career politicians who get in the way, muddying up the waters and not really affecting change  and officials who take matters of life and death more seriously.

Duh!


The Washington Post, the very same newspaper that touted the disastrous Iraqi war, recently ran an article about Bush’s place in history. No doubt this was their way of expiation for their previous sin of mouthing the Administration’s line about the WOT, Iraq, et.al.

Historical analogies have become a staple of Bush speeches and interviews this year, whether he is addressing regional leaders in Egypt or talking to workers at an office park in suburban St. Louis. Bush will continue this historical focus in a visit to Europe this week, where he will commemorate the Berlin Airlift in Germany and deliver a speech in Paris marking the 60th anniversary of the Marshall Plan.

White House aides say Bush, who majored in history at Yale, likes to emphasize historical comparisons because they are easy for the public to understand and illustrate in dramatic fashion how differently future generations may come to view him.

Unfortunately for the president, many historians have already reached a conclusion. In an informal survey of scholars this spring, just two out of 109 historians said Bush would be judged a success; a majority deemed him the “worst president ever.”

“It’s all he has left,” said Millsaps College history professor Robert S. McElvaine, who conducted the survey for the History News Network of George Mason University. “When your approval ratings are down around 20 to 28 percent and the candidate of your own party is trying to hide from being seen with you, history is your only hope.”

Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz, who wrote a widely cited Rolling Stone essay about Bush in 2006 titled “The Worst President in History?,” said last week that the president’s historical arguments can be effective because they are difficult to disprove. “By just saying, ‘In the long run this is going to look great,’ it makes it very hard to respond to,” he said.

This still doesn’t let the Post off in my book.  Meanwhile that little spark plug, Dennis Kucinich has unleashed another series of articles of impeachment, but this time against the POTUS. Don’t count on his colleagues in Congress to come even close to this; but I wonder whether this too will become a part of Bush’s nefarious legacy?

Hamid Karzai can say some interesting things


In a recent interview with Spiegel, Karzai spoke of foreign interference in his country and his longing for the Taliban.  There are NATO troops in Afghanistan and the question is are these the foreign influences he speaks of and if not, then why aren’t these NATO and American troops able to interrupt the deleterious influence these foreign elements have on Afghanistan politics?  Or could that all be part of the plan? One could come to that conclusion when Karzai says certain Afghani groups are being paid to support outsiders and all this under the blessings of Karzai’s allies.

There is a lot of interference from abroad. The south part of the country has always been the center of the Taliban activity; they came from there. And there are also traces of the mujahedeen’s decades-long battle. These are all factors.

When we came back to Afghanistan, the international community brought back all those people who had turned away from the Taliban who then became partners with the foreign allies and are still paid by them today for their support.

SPIEGEL: Dirty deals are still necessary for the stability of Afghanistan?

Karzai: Absolutely necessary, because we lack the power to solve these problems in other ways. What do you want? War?

That last question is an unequivocal yes, by the way. Instability is a foreign policy objective for that part of the world because it insures a steady supply of drugs to the west and arms to the east.  Oh, and did you catch the part where Karzai said he wished he had the Taliban working for him?  I wonder how that made Laura Bush feel during her recent visit to Afghanistan?