Archive for January, 2008

The Creationist Buffoonery and Its Dangerous Implications

January 30, 2008

Dissident Voice, January 29, 2008

By Lee Salisbury

Creationism seems to be gaining credence far beyond its actual influence in the world of science. Even American presidential candidates, lest they offend the religious right, reject evolution in favor of creationism. Mike Huckabee, Fred Thompson and Mit Romney endorse creationism. President George Bush suggests students ought to hear all sides of the argument, as if creationism or its bastard offspring Intelligent Design is a science topic worthy of mention. In spite of the pro-evolution 2006 verdict in Dover, PA, creationists persist seeking to influence and intimidate uninformed school boards in Ohio, Florida, and Texas. This is clearly a culture war with creationist/biblical literalists leading the anti-science, pro-creationist charge.

Creationists usually have two basic assertions: 1) that they are the ones who know true science and 2) that it is they and they alone who are the guardians of true faith in the written and revealed word of their deity. Both are of concern as surely as they are false, but it is the first assertion that we must deal with here.

Continued . . .

Arming the Middle East

January 30, 2008

Foreign Policy In Focus, January 28, 2008

By Stephen Zunes

President George W Bush announced during his recent Middle East trip that he is formally serving notice to Congress of his administration’s decision to approve the sale of bomb-guidance kits to Saudi Arabia. This announcement follows notification on five other arms deals to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Kuwait that are part of a $20 billion package of additional armaments over the next decade to the family dictatorships of Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf emirates announced by President George W. Bush last summer.

At that time, the Bush administration also announced taxpayer-funded military assistance totaling an additional $13 billion over this same period to the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt. Also part of this package is an additional $30 billion worth of sophisticated weaponry bound for Israel.

Altogether, these arms deals represent a major setback for those struggling to promote peace and democracy in that volatile region.

The Democratic-controlled Congress has the authority to block any or all of these proposed sales. It could also refuse to approve the military assistance packages, which altogether total $63 billion. Congress has until February 13 to block the latest portion of the arms package, consisting of 900 Joint Direct Attack Munitions, or JDAMs, valued at $123 million. In addition to these highly advanced satellite-guided bombs, the Bush administration’s proposed arms sales to the Gulf monarchies include sophisticated guided missiles, new naval ships, and upgrades to fighter aircraft for Saudi Arabia and the five other Gulf monarchies.

However, no one among the top House or Senate leadership in either party has yet to come out in opposition to any aspect of the administration’s plans to dangerously escalate the regional arms race.

Continued . . .

Liberty, democracy, brutality

January 30, 2008

The Guardian, January 28, 2008

Many EU politicians treat Israel as a state that holds the highest European ideals dear. But this is hogwash

David Cronin

Diplomatic pressure from the European Union has been credited as being partly responsible for how Israel allowed some deliveries of food, medicine and fuel to Gaza over the past few days.But you would never guess that senior EU officials had been flexing their metaphorical muscles if you saw one particular document distributed to the Brussels press corps.

This was a transcript of a speech given by the European commission’s vice-president, Franco Frattini, during a visit to Israel.

In a week when the UN berated Israel for violating international law by blockading Gaza, it seems extraordinary that Frattini should indulge in some flagrant fawning towards his hosts.

According to his prepared script for a conference entitled Israel at 60: test of endurance, Frattini did not allude once to the blockade imposed on Gaza, even though the UN considers it to be an illegal act of “collective punishment”.

Instead, he insinuated that opponents of Israel in Europe were guilty of antisemitism. “This prejudice, this stance against Israel and Jews, has no place in today’s Europe,” he said.

Read those words again: “This stance against Israel and Jews”.

How can opposition to a country’s government be equated with hostility towards adherents of a religion?

Keep reading . . .

Danish library plans to house cartoons of prophet Muhammad

January 30, 2008

· Controversial works will be secure, says spokeswoman
· Muslim society vows to ignore ‘provocation’

Robert Tait
Wednesday January 30, 2008
The Guardian

Denmark’s national library is to risk re-opening an international political storm by housing the cartoon images of the prophet Muhammad that provoked violent convulsions throughout the Islamic world two years ago.

The royal library in Copenhagen – founded in the 17th century by King Frederik III and home to many historic treasures – has declared the drawings to be of historic value and is trying to acquire them for “preservation purposes”.

The library, widely acknowledged as the most significant in Scandinavia, has agreed to take possession of the caricatures on behalf of the museum of Danish cartoon art, a spokesman told the Art Newspaper.

Continued . . .

9/11 Contradictions

January 29, 2008

When Did Cheney Enter the Underground Bunker?

David Ray Griffin |, January 24, 2008

With regard to the morning of 9/11, everyone agrees that at some time after 9:03 (when the South Tower of the World Trade Center was struck) and before 10:00, Vice President Dick Cheney went down to the Presidential Emergency Operations Center (PEOC), sometimes simply called the “bunker,” under the east wing of the White House. Everyone also agrees that, once there, Cheney was in charge—that he was either making decisions or relaying decisions from President Bush. But there is enormous disagreement as to exactly when Cheney entered the PEOC.

According to The 9/11 Commission Report, Cheney arrived “shortly before 10:00, perhaps at 9:58” (The 9/11 Commission Report [henceforth 9/11CR], 40). This official time, however, contradicts almost all previous reports, some of which had him there before 9:20. This difference is important because, if the 9/11 Commission’s time is correct, Cheney was not in charge in the PEOC when the Pentagon was struck, or for most of the period during which United Flight 93 was approaching Washington. But if the reports that have him there by 9:20 are correct, he was in charge in the PEOC all that time.

Continued . . .

Report: Chief Rabbi says move Gazans to a Palestine in Sinai

January 29, 2008

By Saul Sadka

28/01/08 “Haaretz ” — — London – Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger has been quoted as calling for Gazans to be transferred to the Sinai Peninsula, to a Palestinian state which he said could be constructed for them in the desert.

In an interview in English with the British weekly The Jewish News, the chief rabbi also said that while peaceable Muslims should be allowed to pray in Jerusalem mosques, they should recognize that Jerusalem belongs to the Jews. Muslims have Mecca and Medina, he was quoted as saying, adding that “you don’t need a third place.”

Metzger called for Britain, the European Union and the United States to assist in the construction of a Palestinian state in Egypt’s Sinai Desert.

According to Metzger, the plan would be to “take all the poor people from Gaza to move them to a wonderful new modern country with trains buses cars, like in Arizona – we are now in a generation where you can take a desert and build a city. This will be a solution for the poor people – they will have a nice county, and we shall have our country and we shall live in peace.”

Metzger was quoted as telling the paper that the plan was new and he had not presented it to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Continued . . .

Dark Truths About the Israeli Occupation

January 29, 2008

By Daniel Levy, Washington Monthly. Posted January 29, 2008.

Can Israelis ever recover from the self-inflicted damage of becoming a brutal occupier?

Edith Zertal and Akiva Eldar end their exhaustive study of Israeli settlement policy with a poignant question: Is it possible, they wonder, that Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip will become a “first step in Israel’s journey of liberating itself from the enslavement to the territories that it occupied in 1967, and which have occupied [it] since then and have brought it to the verge of destruction”? Negotiations that have been set in motion by the Annapolis peace conference in November will likely provide a partial answer. Zertal, a leading Israeli historian, and Eldar, a chief political columnist and a former Washington correspondent for the Israeli daily Ha’aretz, have recently published Lords of the Land: The War for Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories, 1967-2007. It is a detailed history of Israel’s nearly forty-year occupation of Gaza and the West Bank with a painful contention at its core. The occupation, say Zertal and Eldar, has wounded Israel’s very psyche, damaging both its sense of self and its moral standing in the world. “The prolonged military occupation and the Jewish settlements that are perpetuating it have toppled Israeli governments,” write the authors, “and have brought Israel’s democracy and its political culture to the brink of an abyss.”

Continued . . .

Return to Fallujah

January 29, 2008

Three years after the devastating US assault, our correspondent enters besieged Iraqi city left without clean water, electricity and medicine

The Independent, January 28, 2009

By Patrick Cockburn

Fallujah is more difficult to enter than any city in the world. On the road from Baghdad I counted 27 checkpoints, all manned by well-armed soldiers and police. “The siege is total,” says Dr Kamal in Fallujah Hospital as he grimly lists his needs, which include everything from drugs and oxygen to electricity and clean water.

The last time I tried to drive to Fallujah, several years ago, I was caught in the ambush of an American fuel convoy and had to crawl out of the car and lie beside the road with the driver while US soldiers and guerrillas exchanged gunfire. The road is now much safer but nobody is allowed to enter Fallujah who does not come from there and can prove it through elaborate identity documents. The city has been sealed off since November 2004 when United States Marines stormed it in an attack that left much of the city in ruins.

Its streets, with walls pock-marked with bullets and buildings reduced to a heap of concrete slabs, still look as if the fighting had finished only a few weeks ago.

Continued . . .

Top US agents in secret trip to Pakistan

January 28, 2008

The Guardian, January 27, 2008

AP News

The top two U.S. intelligence officials made a secret visit to Pakistan in early January to seek permission from President Pervez Musharraf for greater involvement of American forces in trying to ferret out al-Qaida and other militant groups active in the tribal regions along the Afghanistan border, a senior U.S. official said.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity given the secret nature of the talks, declined to disclose what was said, but Musharraf was quoted two days after the Jan. 9 meeting as saying U.S. troops would be regarded as invaders if they crossed into Pakistan to hunt al-Qaida militants.

The New York Times — which first reported on the secret visit by CIA Director Michael Hayden and Mike McConnell, director of national intelligence — said Musharraf rebuffed an expansion of an American presence in Pakistan at the meeting, either through overt CIA. missions or by joint operations with Pakistani security forces.

Keep reading . . .

A criminal idea

January 28, 2008

The Guardian, January 25, 2008

James K Galbraith

Attacking other countries to stop them acquiring nuclear weapons repudiates a key principle of international law

James K Galbraith

Five former Nato generals, including the former chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili, have written a “radical manifesto” which states that “the West must be ready to resort to a pre-emptive nuclear attack to try to halt the ‘imminent’ spread of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction.”In other words, the generals argue that “the west” – meaning the nuclear powers including the United States, France and Britain – should prepare to use nuclear weapons, not to deter a nuclear attack, not to retaliate following such an attack, and not even to pre-empt an imminent nuclear attack. Rather, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by a non-nuclear state. And not only that, they should use them to prevent the acquisition of biological or chemical weapons by such a state.

Under this doctrine, the US could have used nuclear weapons in the invasion of Iraq in 2003, to destroy that country’s presumed stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons – stockpiles that did not in fact exist. Under it, the US could have used nuclear weapons against North Korea in 2006. The doctrine would also have justified a nuclear attack on Pakistan at any time prior to that country’s nuclear tests in 1998. Or on India, at any time prior to 1974.

Continued . . .

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