Saturday, September 29, 2007

Another example of how the war on drugs is really about oppressing the poor

Another great piece from our friend Tony Papa of the Drug Policy Alliance. Its just another demonstration of the backwards priorities and general incompetence of the American criminal justice system in general and our drug laws more specifically.

Cross-posted from

Will Drug Lord Do Less Time Than the Average American Nonviolent Drug Offender?

by Tony Papa,

The U.S. government recently praised the arrest of Colombia's top drug lord Diego Montoya when he was captured earlier this month. Law enforcement and military officials say it was a powerful blow to Colombia's most powerful drug cartel, comparing it to the capture of Al Capone during Prohibition.

Montoya, who had been on the FBI's top ten most wanted list, is said to be responsible for providing as much as 70 percent of all the cocaine in the United States. In 1999, a $5 million bounty for his capture and extradition was offered after he was indicted in a federal court in Miami.

There is much talk about how this capture will affect the drug trade and the flow of drugs into the United States. But the question on my mind is how much time will he serve when he is brought to the United States to stand trial for the death and destruction he has caused? I would be willing to bet that he will get less time than many Americans who are now serving extraordinarily long sentences, many for low-level, nonviolent drug law violations under the notorious mandatory minimum sentencing laws. Some would ask how would I come to this conclusion.

If you look at the recently completed federal sentence of former Panamanian dictator Manuel Noriega, who served a 17-year federal sentence for drug trafficking, it might give you a hint what is in store for Montoya. In Noriega's case the U.S. attorney negotiated deals with 26 high-level drug dealers, including drug lord Carlos Lehder. They in turn received a package of perks that included leniency and cash payments, and were allowed to keep their drug earnings in return for testimony against the infamous general who was once a strong United States ally before he fell from grace in 1989, when the U.S. invaded Panama.

There are many Americans in prison that are serving sentences of more than 17 years in prison for simple drug crimes. These are marginalized offenders that don't have the bargaining chips to establish deals. For example, Elaine Bartlett, a mother of four, served a 20-to-life sentence under the Rockefeller Drug Laws for seven ounces of cocaine. Her husband, Nathan Brooks, was sentenced to 25 years to life. The list goes on and on. There are an estimated 500,000 Americans locked up because of the drug war. Many of them are serving lengthy sentences because of a 30-year government campaign to demonize illicit drug use and implement mandatory minimum sentencing.

In 1986, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were enacted by Congress, which compelled judges to deliver fixed sentences to individuals convicted of certain crimes, regardless of mitigating factors or culpability. Federal mandatory drug sentences are determined based on three factors: the type of drug, weight of the drug mixture (or alleged weight in conspiracy cases), and the number of prior convictions. Judges are unable to consider other important factors, such as the offender's role, motivation and the likelihood of recidivism.

The push to incarcerate drug offenders has been further exacerbated through the current federal sentencing law that punishes crack cocaine offenders much more severely than offenders possessing other types of drugs, for example, powder cocaine. Distributing just five grams of crack carries a minimum five-year federal prison sentence while distributing 500 grams of powder cocaine carries the same sentence. This 100:1 sentencing disparity has been almost universally criticized for its racially discriminatory impact by a wide variety of criminal justice and civil rights groups, and in Congress. Although whites and Hispanics form the majority of crack users, the vast majority of those convicted for crack cocaine offenses are African Americans.

Because of the war on drugs, which mandates mandatory minimum sentencing, average drug offenders are routinely elevated to kingpin status and condemned to serve out long prison sentences that should be reserved only for actual drug kingpins, not individuals that are fabricated to that level. It's time to end these draconian laws and implement a sentencing structure that promotes fairness and justice.
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Thursday, September 27, 2007

John Cusack interviews Naomi Klein

By Ben Cohen

Naomi Klein has just come out with an extremely interesting book 'The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism'. It's a serious work of great importance, describing the exploitation of disasters by corporate capitalism. Klein sifts through the rhetoric and uncovers an extremely unpleasant side to the doctrine of the free market.

A very informed John Cusack interviews Klein about her book, and discusses the necessity of labeling the savage type of economic system we now live under.

The second part links directly from the video.

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Alan Greenspan and Naomi Klein go toe to toe

By Ben Cohen

Former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Greenspan recently took part in a fascinating debate with leftist author Naomi Klein on the show 'Democracy Now'.

Having kept his mouth shut during his years with the Bush Administration, Greenspan has embarked upon a tour to promote his new book 'The Age of Turbulence: Adventures in a New World', that basically excuses his appalling complicity in some of the worst economic decisions in recent history. Now admitting that the war in Iraq was about oil (and having not uttered a word when he could have had an impact), Greenspan attempts to weave his way out of taking any responsibility, and spouts his usual free market nonsense in the hope that people will still take him seriously.

The host, Amy Goodman takes Greenspan to task for his inability to speak out about decisions he knew to be detrimental to the U.S economy (like the absurd tax breaks for the wealthiest Americans), while Klein exposes his free market rhetoric as unproven, fanatical ideology....

In one part, Greenspan outrageously states that 'populist' movements in Latin America during the 70's and 80's "gripped...many Latin American countries to their detriment", conveniently omitting the devastating effects of the IMF in the years after, and the numerous CIA backed coups that undermined socialist movements in the region.

Klein schools 'Saint Alan' on some basic economic theories, embarrassing him with his own quotes about crony capitalism:

"There is something that I was quite interested in in your book, which was your definition of corruption and crony capitalism. You said, “When a government's leaders or businesses routinely seek out private sector individuals or businesses and, in exchange for political support, bestow favors on them, the society is said to be in the grip of crony capitalism.” You say, “The favors generally take the form of monopoly access to certain markets, preferred access to sales of government assets, and special access to those in power.” I kept thinking about Halliburton, Blackwater, Lockheed and Boeing. You were referring to Indonesia at the time..."

Greenspan's record and reputation are in tatters, and his futile attempt to excuse himself essentially collapses when challenged.

It's a very insightful debate, and well worth reading the whole transcript. Click here to check it out.

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Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Why isn't this guy our President?

So we get the WASPy rich kid who went to all the best schools and Bolivia gets the uneducated coca farmer from an indiginous tribe. Guess whose leader turns out to be the corrupt, violent puppet of even more corrupt and violent people who then accuses the other guy of being a bad guy because he stands up to the corporations instead of for them? You get one guess....

Check out Evo Moraleses fantastic interview on The Daily Show:

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Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Watch David Schuster slam Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN): When was the last time a New York Times ad killed anyone?

Its always so nice to see a petty hypocrite called out on national television.
From Crooks and Liars:
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Belligerence towards Ahmadinejad won't solve anything

By Ben Cohen

There is not doubt that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a bad person. He has absurd delusions of grandeur, ridiculous views about the Holocaust, does not believe that homosexuals exist in Iran, and is pursuing a dangerously aggressive stance against the west.

However, his recent treatment at Columbia University by the faculty was beyond pathetic. The President of Columbia, Lee Bollinger essentially gave a political speech slamming Ahmadinejad that tried to justify his heavily criticised decision to invite the Iranian leader to the university.

Said Bollinger in anticipation of Ahmadinejad's speech:

"It is consistent with the idea that one should know thine enemies, to have the intellectual and emotional courage to confront the mind of evil and to prepare ourselves to act with the right temperament."

Bollinger went on to list Iran's terrible human rights record, and scolded Ahmadinejad's efforts at suppressing freedom of speech. In fairness, these were issues Ahmadinejad needed to hear, as people in his own country cannot openly discuss them.

However, Bollinger then put on his cap as official spokesperson for the U.S government....


"In a briefing before the National Press Club earlier this month, General David Petraeus reported that arms supplies from Iran, including 240mm rockets and explosively formed projectiles, are contributing to “a sophistication of attacks that would by no means be possible without Iranian support”, he told the Iranian leader.

"A number of Columbia graduates and current students are among the brave members of our military who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. They, like other Americans with sons, daughters, fathers, husbands and wives serving in combat, rightly see your government as the enemy."

"Can you tell them and us why Iran is fighting a proxy war in Iraq by arming Shi’a militia targeting and killing U.S. troops?"

And here, Bollinger's diatribe falls flat on its face. The esteemed professor seems to have swallowed the ridiculous notion that the United States in not itself fighting a proxy war against Iran. To boot, he does not acknowledge that his country is trying to start an actual war with Iran.

Having specifically called Iran part of 'The Axis of Evil", invaded its neighbour then threatened it with military action, it would probably be fair to call U.S the aggressors in this situation. If Iran had invaded Canada, and then made noises about attacking the U.S, would it be reasonable for the U.S to fund anti Iranian forces? Most Americans would probably think so.

However, this type of logic appears to have escaped the Ivy League academic, who seems to believe the U.S is fighting for the freedom of Iraqis (a notion ridiculed recently by the right wing former chairman of the Federal Reserve, Alan Greenspan). Bollinger is appalled at the sophisticated attacks on American soldiers, but does not mention the sophisticated war these soldiers are waging in Iraq. The truth is, the U.S has no more right to be in Iraq than Iran does, and chastising the Iranian leader for doing the same thing his government has (with probably more legitimacy given its proximity to Iran), is extremely hypocritical.

Bollinger finished his speech with another tart insult.

"Let me close with this comment. Frankly, and in all candor, Mr. President, I doubt that you will have the intellectual courage to answer these questions. But your avoiding them will in itself be meaningful to us. I do expect you to exhibit the fanatical mindset that characterizes so much of what you say and do. "

Predictably, Ahmadinejad avoided most of the questions put to him, but perhaps Bollinger could have found the intellectual courage to apply the same standards to his own government.

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Monday, September 24, 2007

Ahmadinejad: What need do we have for a bomb?

by Ari Rutenberg

In an interview with Iranian President Ahmadinejad done by CBS' 60 Minutes the Iranian President specifically refuted U.S. claims that he is attempting to develop nuclear weapons. Read the article and see the video here and read additional coverage here. Ahmadinejad also said that "it's wrong to think that Iran and the U.S. are walking towards war. Who says so? Why should we go to war?...There is no war in the offing."

So clearly the recent rhetoric from Bush, Cheney, and Sarkozy is both incorrect factually and counterproductive diplomatically.

Though I do not believe Ahmadinejad is incorrect about many things, it is not because he lies. I believe his word to be credible because he believes what he says. There is therefore no reason to question the veracity of statements whose outcomes he controls. Therefore it seems clear that drum beats for war are only coming from one religious fundamentalist government, ours.

Once again our leaders desire war for the most crass and heartless of reasons. Indeed they have poisoned the minds of the American people to the extent that a New York state Assemblyman Dov Hikind said ""He should be arrested when he comes to Columbia University, not invited to speak, for God's sake." This was said apropos of nothing. Neither this man, nor anyone else, has any hard evidence that Iran or Mr. Ahmadinejad have committed any crimes. The fact that Iraqi insurgents use their weapons is an indication of nothing, given that they use ours as well. In addition it is a reminder of the complete lack of knowledge and understanding many Americans, even those in government, have towards the outside world. It is illegal to arrest a foreign leader traveling on a diplomatic mission to the United Nations. We have granted this man a visa to enter our country and should not be making threats which are unconstitutional (because under the constitution treaty obligations are our highest law).

So then there is no reason to talk about war with Iran other than to stoke the fears of the American population. It must stop or we will find that we have become the monster so many eleive us to be.
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Sunday, September 23, 2007

Did Micheal Moore's 'Sicko' fairly portray the NHS?

By Ben Cohen

The docu-film 'Sicko' shocked the American public with its brutal portrayal of their health care system. It has helped set the agenda for the 2008 presidential elections, and has forced the insurance companies to justify their existence like never before. Moore's film contrasts the broken American system with socialised European models in France, Cuba and Great Britain. The NHS in Britain (the National Health Service), and the French and Cuban system ares portrayed in extremely good light, emphasising their strengths while ignoring their weaknesses.

Moore has come under specific criticism for his one sided portrayal of the heavily criticised NHS.

Did Moore gloss over the facts to fit his thesis? Or is the U.K system as good as the film portrays? Click here to read a fascinating article in the that gives insight from people inside the NHS. END

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Saturday, September 22, 2007

Bush denies children health care

By Ben Cohen

For a president spending $2 billion a week on occupying a foreign country, it seems completely hypocritical that he would not pass a bill to fund health care for poor children at a far smaller cost. But for president Bush, this is part and parcel of 'compassionate conservatism'.

Government, as neo conservatives like to think, should essentially be eradicated when it comes to providing for its people. It's role is to serve the interests of corporate America, giving them huge tax subsidies and contracts to ensure they are kept happy.

The bill at hand is the
Children's Health Insurance Program, a state-federal program that subsidising health coverage for low-income families that earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, but not enough to afford private coverage.

The proposal would add $35 billion over five years to the program, adding 4 million people to the 6.6 million already participating. It would be financed by raising the federal cigarette tax.

Apparently, this won't do for Bush, who called the move 'irresponsible'.

"Members of Congress are risking health coverage for poor children purely to make a political point," he continued.

"Our goal should be to move children who have no health insurance to private coverage, not to move children who already have private health insurance to government coverage".....

This is of course, complete nonsense. In typical fashion, the facts are being distorted, and turned around to fit the ideology of the President. Just as the 'Clear skies' act meant more pollution in the atmosphere, any time the President says his policies helps people, it usually doesn't.

The bill, that many Republicans support, actually provides financial incentives for states to cover the uninsured first, and should extend coverage to millions of uninsured children (although really, it does not go far enough).

Given that most of those children slipped through the net under the Bush presidency, it is absolutely despicable for him to reject this bill, and claim he has the solution to fix the problem. More private insurance has had disastrous results for Americans, with 47 million people uninsured as of this year.

The argument for more private insurance has been lost. It's time for a change, and Bushes view on the subject is increasingly irrelevant.
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Thursday, September 20, 2007

Targeting Iran part 2

The Daily Banter is pleased to publish the second set of exclusive excerpts from David Barsamian's critically acclaimed new book 'Targeting Iran". The book contains interviews with todays leading intellectuals about the escalating conflict between the United States and Iranian governments.

Click here for part 1.

We'd like to thank David Barsamian and City Lights Books for supporting The Daily Banter.

Next week we will be publishing excerpts from Barsamian's interview with Noam Chomsky.

By David Barsamian

Under George W. Bush, U.S.–Iranian relations have deteriorated drastically. In his 2002 State of the Union address, President Bush designated Iran as part of the “axis of evil.” The speech stunned Tehran, particularly as it had just assisted the Bush administration in ousting the Taliban in Afghanistan. The “axis of evil” label was a big setback for reform president Mohammad Khatami (1997–2005), who risked much in cooperating with the United States. For Iran to be categorically grouped with Saddam Hussein’s Iraq, which had waged an eight-year war against Iran (1980–88), was an additional humiliation....

Political tensions with the United States have sharply escalated in 2006–7. United States allies Israel, India, and Pakistan all possess nuclear weapons but have not signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Washington gives those countries a free pass, but not Iran, which is a signatory to the NPT and has come under intense scrutiny. As a signatory to the treaty, it is permitted to enrich uranium. However, it is accused by the Bush administration, with some European support, of enriching uranium to develop nuclear weapons. The International Atomic Energy Agency, based in Vienna, referred the issue of Iranian compliance or noncompliance with the NPT to the UN Security Council in New York. In December 2006, the Security Council voted to impose limited sanctions on Iraq. More comprehensive sanctions, with the United States pressing the issue, are on their way. Interestingly, the United States is also a signatory to the NPT and, as such, is obliged to draw down its nuclear weapons arsenal. Despite their importance for understanding the crisis, it is virtually impossible to find mention of these key facts in most U.S. media reporting on the issue.

The central tenet of U.S. policy is: What we say goes. To make certain Tehran understands this basic principle of statecraft, in February 2007 Washington has dispatched yet another aircraft carrier battle group to the Persian Gulf to join the already deployed Eisenhower group. The new armada is led by the carrier USS John C. Stennis.

One can only imagine the response from Washington if Iranian naval vessels were deployed offshore from New York or Seattle.

The U.S. position on talking with Iran is: Give us what a negotiation would produce before the negotiations start. You concede, and then we can sit down and talk. This posture is a nonstarter as far as the Iranians are concerned. On February 27, 2007, Iran’s foreign minister, Manouchehr Mottaki, restated his country’s position: “Demands that Iran halt enrichment are illegal and illegitimate.” That will “never” happen, he said. However, he added, Iran is prepared to negotiate about its nuclear program “without any preconditions.”

Although the Bush administration says it has no intention to invade Iran, the New Statesman and the BBC, on February 19 and 20, 2007, revealed detailed plans of what an American attack would look like. The BBC reported that two triggers would cause U.S. military action: (a) any confirmation that Iran was developing a nuclear weapon or (b) if Iran were responsible for a high-casualty attack against U.S. forces.

Shirin Ebadi, Iran’s 2003 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, in an opinion piece in USA Today, has this advice for Americans and the regime in Washington: “The Iranian people are exceedingly proud of their 2,500-year history and culture. Iran as a country is larger and greater than its rulers and exists apart from any government in power at any particular time. If America attacks, however, Iranians will unite, forgetting their differences with their government, and they will fiercely and tenaciously defend their country.”

David Barsamian is the award winning founder and director of AR (Alternative Radio) and author of 14 books. To purchase a copy of the book 'Targeting Iran', click here, or go to the link at the top of the page.
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A car that runs on wind and sun?

By Ben Cohen

We sent a man to the moon in the 1960's, and managed to clone a sheep before the millennium was out. At least 50 years behind the times, the automobile industry is now catching up with modern science and has created a car powered with wind and sun. The technology has been around for years, but Mitsubishi finally looks like getting out act together and using it to do something good for people, and good for the environment. Don't expect the oil companies to be thrilled about this:


Mitsibushi Motors new eco-friendly car runs on wind and sun
anshu | Sep 17 2007

Recently, Mitsibushi Motors Corp, has declared an interesting concept of electric vehicle. This vehicle will effectively utilize solar and wind energy. This unqiue vehicle will be exhibited this autumn at Tokyo Motor Show.

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Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Did Andrew Meyer deserve to be tasered?

By Ben Cohen

Want further proof that Americans live in a police state? Check out this video of a student in Florida being tasered at a John Kerry forum for asking too many questions. There is no doubt Andrew Meyer was being obnoxious, and was clearly over excited at the prospect of confronting John Kerry on several issues, but there was absolutely no need to pin him down and electrocute him. See for yourself in this alarming video that has shocked America:

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Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bill Clinton (and his new book) get SLAMMED by Chis Hedges from

The Clintons and the Democratic establishment get absolutely demolished by Chris Hedges of Robert Scheer's

‘Giving’ and Taking

By Chris Hedges

Bill Clinton has written a new book. It is called “Giving: How Each of Us Can Change the World.” He will give a portion of the proceeds to charity. Giving, the former president informs us, gives us fulfilment in life and is “the fabric of our shared humanity.”

His book is the political equivalent of “Marley & Me” It is filled with a lot of vapid, feel-good stories about ordinary and wealthy Americans setting out to make the world a better place. It smacks of the philanthropy-as-publicity that characterized the largesse of the robber barons—the Mellons and the Rockefellers—and has become a pastime for our own oligarchic elite. Clinton’s call for charity is the equivalent of well-scrubbed prep school students spending a day in a soup kitchen, doling out food to the people whose jobs were outsourced by their mommies and daddies. It does little to alleviate suffering. But it is a balm to the conscience of the oligarchic class that profits handsomely from the impoverishment of the working class, globalization and our anti-democratic corporate state. The rich love to dine out on their own goodness.

The misery sweeping across the American landscape may have begun with Ronald Reagan, but it was accelerated and codified by Bill Clinton. He sold out the poor and the working class. And Clinton did it deliberately to feed the pathological hunger he and his wife have for political power. It was the Clintons who led the Democratic Party to the corporate watering trough. The Clintons argued that the party had to ditch labor unions, no longer a source of votes or power, as a political ally. Workers would vote Democratic anyway. They had no choice. It was better, the Clintons argued, to take corporate money and use government to service the needs of the corporations. By the 1990s, the Democratic Party, under Clinton’s leadership, had virtual fund-raising parity with the Republicans. In political terms, it was a success. In moral terms, it was a betrayal.

The North American Free Trade Agreement was sold to the country by the Clinton White House as an opportunity to raise the incomes and prosperity of the citizens of the United States, Canada and Mexico. Goods would be cheaper. Workers would be wealthier. Everyone would be happier. I am not sure how these contradictory things were supposed to happen, but in a sound-bite society, reality no longer matters. NAFTA would also, we were told, staunch Mexican immigration into the United States.

"There will be less illegal immigration because more Mexicans will be able to support their children by staying home,” President Clinton said in the spring of 1993 as he was lobbying for the bill.

But NAFTA, which took effect in 1994, had the curious effect of reversing every one of Clinton’s rosy predictions. Once the Mexican government lifted price supports on corn and beans for Mexican farmers, they had to compete against the huge agribusinesses in the United States. The Mexican farmers were swiftly bankrupted. At least 2 million Mexican farmers were driven off their land from 1993 through 2002. And guess where many of them went? This desperate flight of Mexicans into the United States is being exacerbated by large-scale factory closures along the border as manufacturers leave Mexico for the cut-rate embrace of China’s totalitarian capitalism.
Read the full article:
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UN believes war with Iran is imminent

By Ben Cohen

In an alarming statement, the United Nations chief nuclear weapons inspector gave stark warning against the use of force against Iran. Mohamed ElBaradei called the increasing aggression against Iran "out of control" and said he "hoped everybody would have gotten the lesson after the Iraq situation, where 700,000 innocent civilians have lost their lives on the suspicion that a country has nuclear weapons."

Having failed at virtually every aspect of his presidency, Bush is looking to divert attention by beating the drums for another war with renewed relish. With aggressive statements now coming from the French Government (which was opposed to the invasion of Iraq), it appears the west is gearing up for another confrontation with the Middle East. With Iran's steadfast desire to attain nuclear capability, the march to war is gaining speed rapidly.

Obviously rattled by the Iranian governments increasing influence in the Middle East, the issue here is almost certainly not about Nuclear weapons. After all, Israel, Pakistan and India have nuclear weapons in the region and are not the target of U.S/Western aggression. Iran knows Iraq is a weak spot for the U.S, and is using its power to gain leverage in the region. While all the other major powers in the region have submitted themselves U.S control, Iran will not, and it is reaping the consequences. It's petulance simply won't do and the West is seeking to keep Iran in its place.

This is cause for serious concern, as the cost of war, human life and terrorism will be enormous. People must raise awareness of this issue to stop our governments from marching us blindly into another conflict we do not fully understand. The gall of our leaders to even suggest another war is beyond rational explanation given their atrocious track record in recent years. But they are lulling us to sleep again with stories of 'imminent threats' and 'mushroom clouds'.

It's time to wake up, and it's time to speak out. We won't be fooled again.


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Monday, September 17, 2007

Former Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee: 'It's not my party anymore'

By Ben Cohen

Having done their best to destroy the middle class and working poor, it is amazing that the Republican party has not lost more of their sensible members. However, full credit goes to Lincoln Chafee, the former Senator from Rhode Island who has finally had enough. Citing his parties flagrant disregard for the environment, social programs and international law, Chafee called it a day on the GOP. Click here to read the full story.

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Iraq to mercenaries: you're fired!

by Ari Rutenberg

Finally the Iraqis have done what hey should have been doing ever since their sovereignty was "returned" by the American government... they have revoked the operating license of Blackwater USA, the notorious mercenary corporation (the U.S. calls them security contractors, the reality is they are soldiers for hire, or even corporate militias if you want to use the terminology of this conflict). These 'militias' are used by the Americans to protect non-military assets and high-profile individuals, including the top U.S. diplomats and representatives in Iraq.

They are almost completely unregulated by any government or set of rules except their own. They have the same access to resources as the U.S. military, and many are former members thereof. They are also notorious for killing civilians and opening fire on U.S. and Iraqi forces. Those acts have gone with out recourse or punishment. All of that is about to end, at least if the Iraqi government get its way.

As reported by The New York Times today
"Iraqi Interior Ministry spokesman Adul-Karim Khalf said "We have canceled the license of Blackwater and prevented them from working all over Iraqi territory. We will also refer those involved to Iraqi judicial authorities" due to an incident today in which "eight civilians were killed and 13 were wounded when contractors believed to be working for Blackwater USA opened fire in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood of western Baghdad."

It is a small ray of hope to see the Iraqis begin to stand up for themselves against the insanity imposed upon them by the U.S. government. Finally there is a bit of reason being forced into this debate. There never has been and is not currently any good justification for this kind of blatantly illegal mercenary warfare.
They only reason they are there is because Bush and Cheney figured out how to fund the military-industrial complex without actually having to put money into the government. This is due to their ideological opposition to the efficacy of government, even the military, rather than nay rational argument. I remain shocked that a government that believes itself to be sovereign (Iraq) would allow such groups to operate within their borders for so long in such a brutal and counterproductive way. That being said this seems to be a case of better late the never.
This action by the Iraqis, as well as the changing sentiment in both America and Iraq , seems to me to be the beginning of the resolution of this war. That doesn't mean that I believe the U.S. should stay or that I think this is going to end, or even get substantially better in the near future. I do think that actions like this will help push sentiment in the places that matter to a point at which everyone agrees it is time for the U.S. to go. Though I personally think it will get worse immediately after the U.S. leaves, once they are gone the catalyst for much of the violence will have been removed. It will be the first genuine chance for them to use their 5000 years of history and cultural wisdom to solve their own problems, which though we may have helped created we are clearly incapable of solving. I hope for the best for these unfortunate people. and I would really like to be able to visit the cradle of civilization and the birthplace of law, and of Abraham, before too long. But before that can happen, we need to stop interfering in their affairs and stop allowing our mercenaries to terrorize their civilians.
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Sunday, September 16, 2007

France gets into the mix with Iran

By Ben Cohen

For some reason, the western world believes it has the right to lecture everyone else on their rights to have nuclear weapons. Now France has warned Iran that it will go to war if they do not stop the progression towards having nuclear capability. Let's use the wonderful tool of perspective and look at it from a different angle. As a concerned person, I believe that any country that possesses nuclear capability is a threat to peace and stability. Therefore France should be invaded promptly for is possession of the lethal weapon, and Iran should be the country to do it. Anyone up for it? Of course not. France is a sovereign nation, and no one has the right to invade them even if they have granted themselves the right to have nuclear weapons.

To boot, France is a nation with white people, and they would never actually use the bomb. It's those pesky underdeveloped nations that have historically used Weapons of Mass Destruction anyway......

Please post comments below- this is a serious issue, and warrants much discussion.
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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Targeting Iran- Part 1

The Daily Banter is pleased to publish exclusive excerpts from David Barsamian's critically acclaimed new book 'Targeting Iran'. David Barsamian is the award winning founder and director of AR (Alternative Radio) and author of 14 books. 'Targeting Iran' contains interviews with Noam Chomsky, Ervand Abrahamian and Nadhid Mozaffari about the escalating conflict between the United States and Iranian governments. It is critical reading for anyone interested in the subject, and provides insightful analysis of the next potential war in the Middle East.

We'd like to thank David Barsamian and City Lights Books for supporting The Daily Banter.

We will also be publishing a series of extracts from the book over the next week, so stay tuned for more!

Targeting Iran

Introduction by David Barsamian

In the modern period, Iran has been the center of great power rivalries. First czarist Russia, then the Soviet Union, competed with Britain for supremacy in Iranian affairs. Since the end of World War II, the United States has projected its military, diplomatic, and economic power on Iran and the Middle East. For good reason: Iran has huge oil and natural gas reserves. The area constitutes, in the words of a 1945 State Department document, “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history” (Chomsky and Barsamian, Imperial Ambitions, 2005, p. 6).
In late October 2006, the United States deployed a “strike group” of military vessels to the Persian Gulf, including a nuclear aircraft carrier, a cruiser, a destroyer, a frigate, a submarine escort, and a supply ship, as well as Marine Corps units, just off Iran’s coast. The task force was dubbed the Eisenhower Strike Group. The former president’s name has special resonance for Iranians. It was Eisenhower who approved the 1953 coup overthrowing the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh. The latter, a popular figure, had the temerity to believe that Iran’s oil wealth should benefit the Iranian people. Clearly, Mossadegh did not understand the basic rule of international relations as explained by top State Department planner George Kennan: it is “our oil.” So when Mossadegh nationalized the oil wells, Washington, egged on by London, overthrew him. The shah was restored to power. His tyrannical rule set the stage for the rise of Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini. Ayatollah—“sign of God”—is the supreme Shiite clerical title.

The 1953 coup is one of the central events of twentieth-century history, and its repercussions continue to this day. Yet most Americans know little about Iran and the coup against Mossadegh. Ask the average American about the hostage crisis, however, and I am certain you would get a much higher level of recognition. Mark Bowden’s Guests of the Ayatollah (2006), for example, is a 680-page book with only four references to Mossadegh. Bowden’s book received extensive media coverage and hit best-seller lists. One cannot understand the November 1979 takeover of the U.S. embassy in Tehran and the hostage crisis, the subject of his book, without the context and background of the 1953 coup. The coup, code-named “Ajax,” was directed by Kermit Roosevelt and run out of the U.S. embassy in Tehran. Twenty-six year later, the militants, with some reason, feared a rerun. Months before the seizure of the embassy, President Jimmy Carter dispatched Robert Huyser, a top general, to Tehran to inspire a countercoup using sympathetic elements in the Iranian military. Huyser did not succeed.
The 1953 coup was doubly significant; it not only terminated the democratic experiment and brought back the shah, but it effectively ended British influence in Iran. The United States was now in the driver’s seat, exactly where it wanted to be. Marginalizing the British and also the French in the region was one of Washington’s primary policy goals in the post–World War II era. So the Iranian coup was a big step in realizing their geopolitical objectives. For Iranians, the events of 1953 are not ancient history. Their memories of the destruction of their democracy are vivid. And the memories extend beyond Iran. While I was on a lecture tour of Lebanon and Syria in 2005, whenever I mentioned the coup, members in the audience were well informed about its details and ramifications.
Under the shah, Iran was a cornerstone of U.S. hegemony in the Middle East for more than twenty years. Iran and Israel were, as Nixon’s defense secretary Melvin Laird said, local “cops on the beat” ensuring that “radical nationalists” would not threaten U.S. interests.
The Islamic Revolution of 1978–79 ended that equation and altered regional power dynamics. With the overthrow of the shah, Iran severed itself from the United States. Not only did the United States lose one of its main regional allies, but the new government in Tehran signaled the end to the flow of Iranian cash going to U.S. military contractors. The shah had spent tens of billions of dollars purchasing U.S.-made weapons. He had also, with Washington’s blessing, embarked on a nuclear energy program.
Today, the United States and Iran are on the brink of war. Much of what we see playing out today had its origins in the events of the late 1970s. The “loss” of Iran was a huge blow to Washington’s larger strategy in the Middle East. The humiliating and interminable hostage crisis, coupled with a botched rescue mission, further hardened Washington’s stance toward the new government in Tehran. The United States cut off diplomatic relations and imposed sanctions, conditions that continue to this day.

To purchase a copy of the book 'Targeting Iran', click here, or go to the link at the top of the page.
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Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Petraeus' boss "vowed that there would be no war against Iran on his watch"

By Ari Rutenberg

IPS News reports that there is a massive disagreement between General Petraeus and his boss, Admiral Wiliam Fallon, who believes the Iraq War is a waste of our resources..

Fallon, in addition to being a sensible voice on Iran (as in he would rather quit than allow the invasion of another country for ideological reasons) apparently told Petraeus, at their first meeting, that he (Petraeus) was an "ass-kissing little chicken shit." The fact that this is his bosses opinion of him is even more evidence that Patraeus is simply a shill for the administration who wants to advance his career at the expense of the welfare of this country.

From IPS News:

U.S.-IRAQ: Fallon Derided Petraeus, Opposed the Surge
By Gareth Porter*

WASHINGTON, Sep 12 (IPS) - In sharp contrast to the lionisation of Gen. David Petraeus by members of the U.S. Congress during his testimony this week, Petraeus's superior, Admiral William Fallon, chief of the Central Command (CENTCOM), derided Petraeus as a sycophant during their first meeting in Baghdad last March, according to Pentagon sources familiar with reports of the meeting.

Fallon told Petraeus that he considered him to be "an ass-kissing little chickenshit" and added, "I hate people like that", the sources say. That remark reportedly came after Petraeus began the meeting by making remarks that Fallon interpreted as trying to ingratiate himself with a superior.

That extraordinarily contentious start of Fallon's mission to Baghdad led to more meetings marked by acute tension between the two commanders. Fallon went on develop his own alternative to Petraeus's recommendation for continued high levels of U.S. troops in Iraq during the summer.

The enmity between the two commanders became public knowledge when the Washington Post reported Sep. 9 on intense conflict within the administration over Iraq. The story quoted a senior official as saying that referring to "bad relations" between them is "the understatement of the century".

Fallon's derision toward Petraeus reflected both the CENTCOM commander's personal distaste for Petraeus's style of operating and their fundamental policy differences over Iraq, according to the sources.

The policy context of Fallon's extraordinarily abrasive treatment of his subordinate was Petraeus's agreement in February to serve as front man for the George W. Bush administration's effort to sell its policy of increasing U.S. troop strength in Iraq to Congress.
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Ron Paul actually makes Billy O'Reilly think

by Ben Cohen

The only sane Republican in the race for the 2008 presidency, Ron Paul, seems to do the impossible: make Bill O'Reilly think. It's not completely obvious, but you can actually see the right wing shock jock pause for thought on a couple of occasions. He does not agree with Paul, of course, but he does not shout him down or completely disregard his point. Paul discusses the disastrous effects of American foreign policy and lays blame for September 11th on the actions of the U.S Government for the past 60 years. That O'Reilly did not kick him off the air is a major concession. To watch the video, click below:

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Not the only 9/11

By Ben Cohen

Americans will wake up today to 24 hours of 9/11 remembrance programming on their television sets. There will be tributes paid to the dead, music videos of the awful attacks, and speeches by politicians linking the event to the current war in Iraq.

There will be no mention of the terrible atrocities committed by the American Government, and no acknowledgment that many other countries have suffered their own 9/11s at the hands of the U.S military juggernaut.

This is not to discredit the appalling events of September 11th 2001, as many innocent people lost their lives. The victims deserve our respect, and we should pay tribute to their untimely deaths. However, every year after the attacks, the American media whips itself up into a frenzy and wallows in an inordinate amount of self pity, much of which is used to justify its continued wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and a possible one in Iran.

MSNBC, Fox, CNN etc, will show in depth focus pieces into the lives of some of the victims, tapes played of people trapped in the world trade center calling their loved ones, and absolutely no questions as to why the attacks happened in the first place.

November of this year will mark the 3rd anniversary of the U.S/U.K destruction of the Iraqi city Fallujah. In the second major attack on the city, the coalition forces cut off water and food supplies, bombed hospitals, and used toxic weapons against its population (white phosphorous for example, as pictured right). All of which are illegal under the Geneva Conventions.

There will be no music videos in our press remembering the dead Iraqis and the destruction of their ancient city.

Fallujah is a small example of the international havoc the U.S has created, but it exemplifies a hypocritical stance on terrorism. It's awful when they do it to us, but not when we do it to them.

If we want to remember the victims of 9/11, perhaps we should start by not behaving like their killers. END

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Sunday, September 9, 2007

An average night out in London

By Nick Lang

They say that the main thing that is great about living in the capital of this great country is the nightlife. I seem to be missing something, and I truly wish to be enlightened. I have been going out in London for at least 8 years now (having lived here all my life), and yet every evening brings with it the same features. Whether you are going for a few drinks at a nice bar, going on a filthy pub-crawl or for a big night on the town, some or all of the following events will almost certainly occur:

There will be a delay on public transport to the place; you will have to stand in a long queue of people who all look the same and you may realise at some point that you aren’t even sure what you are queuing for; you will spend more time waiting to get served than you will drinking; some prick will spill your pint and not apologise; no one will wash their hands in the toilet; you’ll be asked to give some guy money for handing you the soap that is very much within reach; at least 3 people will condescend to you about your occupation; many trendy idiots will say the word “yah” as an expression of agreement; no staff will speak English when you desperately need to order food; a bus driver will not stop for you; you will realise that you don’t have the exact change for one of mayor Ken’s joyous little bus ticket machines; a group of rudeboys will make you feel uncomfortable (or up for a fight) for at least 80% of your bus ride home; and you will eventually get home to realise that the kebab that you thought had saved your life will revisit you angrily as an unstoppable flow of beer and questionable meat from your poor confused face.

Oh, and don’t forget the horrible sinking feeling you get when you naively look in your wallet the next morning, expecting to find anything but shrapnel.
“But I took out £50!!!” Yes my friend, yes you did.
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Biden says Surge has not worked

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Thursday, September 6, 2007

Picard for President!

By Ari Rutenberg

I have to begin by saying that I am an unabashed Star Trek fan, specifically the Next Generation. I have always thought of the show not only as a geeky indulgence but also a fantastic set of allegories for both the large and small scale problems we face on Earth. So I was really happy to see the following post from the Huffington Post laying out the case for why Captain Picard would make not only a better President then our current one, but indeed would be an ideal candidate for the job if he were only real.

From the Huffington Post:Picard for President: Why the (Other) Bald Captain of the Enterprise is a Better Leader than Bush
by Marty Beckerman
This week marks the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation, which charted the adventures of the U.S.S. Enterprise a century after Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. The Emmy-winning TV series, created under the supervision of Trek mastermind Gene Roddenberry and syndicated on numerous cable channels today, lasted from 1987 to 1994 and served as the launching pad for four feature films. In addition to vastly improved special effects, TNG surpassed the original series' hokey '60s politics (such as the episode in which a race of half-white/half-black aliens loathe a race of half-black/half-white aliens -- get it?) with a nuanced political worldview that often explored the tactical necessity of choosing the lesser of two evils, the proper time for diplomacy to devolve into warfare, and other unpleasant shades of gray. (Does sex with an android count as emotional lovemaking or futuristic masturbation?)

At the moral center of these realist quandaries was Captain Jean-Luc Picard, whom Patrick Stewart played with Shakespearean gravitas (and without the use of William Shatner's signature toupee). The French-born, tea-drinking Picard, who popularized the catch phrase "make it so," was far more of a refined interstellar emissary than a testosterone-oozing brawler -- the Tony Blair to George W. Bush's Kirk, or more fittingly his Zapp Brannigan -- but was hardly a pacifist in an emergency. Indeed, Picard was a literate, contemplative and judicious leader, the exact opposite of what America has had so far in the Twenty-First Century.

A handful of satirical Facebook groups nominate Picard for the highest office in the land. One such group declares, "In these trying times, the resolute leadership of Jean-Luc Picard and the masculine facial hair of [first officer] William T. Riker are just what this country needs." While these groups are farcical in nature, they raise a valid point: the fictional Picard is a greater captain -- and better man -- than the president of the United States of America for a number of reasons:

Diplomacy: Bush invaded Iraq as soon as the reactionary political atmosphere proved conducive; he did not take the time to plan strategies for occupation or exit. However, Picard has a far more cautious approach to foreign policy and greater skepticism of nation-building. "History has proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well-intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous," Picard says in the TNG episode "Symbiosis." Picard criticized "cowboy diplomacy" by name in "Unification," supposedly the first modern usage of this disparaging phrase. Instead of losing his temper and acting brashly, Picard follows the United Federation of Planets' Prime Directive of nonintervention unless a hostile situation has no possible peaceful outcome, in which case he would respond swiftly and ruthlessly, emulating Colin Powell far more than any neoconservative. According to Lieutenant Commander Data, a human-like android, Picard has an 83 percent likelihood of action when faced with such emergencies. He might not qualify as a battle-hungry Klingon but he certainly isn't a Kucinich voter either.

Freedom and the Rule of Law: In the wake of 9/11 the Bush Administration detained U.S. citizens indefinitely without charges, eavesdropped on citizens' conversations without warrants, spied on domestic antiwar groups and otherwise subverted the most hallowed tents of the U.S. Constitution. Picard has infinitely more respect for the pillars of Western Civilization. In the TNG episode "The Drumhead," an alien security breach on the Enterprise unleashes a wave of xenophobia and demands for security crackdowns but Picard has none of it, cautioning that "the path between legitimate suspicion and rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think." He proclaims, "The first speech censored, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably." In the episode "Chain of Command," a sadistic Cardassian captures and tortures Picard, stripping and beating him for hours of interrogations; after being driven to the brink of sanity by such barbarism, it's unlikely that Picard would ever allow the same treatment of prisoners in his custody. (Stewart watched recovered interrogation tapes from Amnesty International before performing the disturbing nude scene -- disturbing for its content as well as the mental image of a nude Patrick Stewart.) It's a sad statement that a fictional space-faring atheistic Frenchman in the Twenty-Fourth Century defends the Bill of Rights more vigorously than the man who has sworn upon the Bible to do so.
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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Power to the people

By Ben Cohen

Taking on the mainstream news media is an uphill battle against a fearsome opponent. Nevertheless, it is an important fight for several reasons.

The media serves the interests of concentrated power centres, not the general population. The news we receive has been filtered rigorously so as not to offend advertisers or parent corporations, negating its original purpose; to bring us balanced news.

It is for these reasons that the serious left (and right for that matter), fight against it in an effort to balance the propaganda it spews.

These are strong words for news institutions, but for good cause.

Let us take the comments made by Barack Obama last month about invading Pakistan if they failed to follow U.S orders The media quickly leapt on the Senator for making the comments, accusing him of inexperience on the international stage for telegraphing his future moves. Obama was also taken to task for refusing to use nuclear weapons to tackle terrorism, with commentators expressing dismay that Obama would take such a deterrent off the table.

Not one News station bothered to mention that sending troops without Pakistan’s permission would be illegal under international law, and not one program thought to mention that the threat of using nuclear weapons is a crime in itself as well.

The right of the U.S to do as it pleases regardless of conventions it has signed, and laws it purports to uphold is almost completely unchallenged in the U.S media. For something so blindly obvious, it borders on the criminal that journalists do not challenge this deeply hypocritical orthodoxy.

News shows report stories with virtually no historical background, presenting conflicts in two dimensional bullet points, then invite ‘analysts’ to discuss inane topics, like whether Hilary Clinton showed too much cleavage, or whether John Edwards sounded ‘Presidential’ enough.

Modern presidential debates are categorised into sections, like ‘Issues’, ‘Style’, and ‘Likeability’ as if all have equal merit. Americans were more likely to want to grab a beer with George Bush than John Kerry in 2004, apparently playing an important part in Bush’s victory.

Presidential candidates who offer little in the way of style but a lot in the way of substance are lampooned by the media, and written off with scant attention paid to what they are actually saying. The media destroyed Howard Dean’s presidential aspirations after clips of him whooping at a speech in 2004 were played on loop for weeks on end. Dean's sensible and very moderate views (at least by the rest of the world's standards) were of no apparent importance, and his campaign effectively ended after the ridiculous affair.

In regards to the 2008 election, Mike Gravel has consistently pointed out the financial corruption present in all the mainstream Democratic candidates campaigns, and the media does nothing other than focus on his personality. Gravel is no silky politician, but he has consistently spoken truth to power and taken no money from corporate lobbyists. Again, these are issues the mainstream media do not find interesting and they have done their best to marginalise him.

This is not journalism, and it is not news, and it should be exposed ruthlessly.

There are few institutions that deal honestly with serious issues, and most of the major corporations work within a framework that will not offend their corporate sponsors. As the economist Paul Krugman once joked that if George Bush declared the world was flat, a typical news headline would read:
“The Shape of the Earth: Views Differ"....
When an American congressional report stated that Venezuela was supplying fake passports to Iranians so they could enter the U.S, no media corporations evaluated the claim, only repeating the official line from Big Brother.

Journalism in the U.S is dead, or at least it is dying fast. A career in journalism does not mean speaking truth to power anymore; it means a career in catering to power, and operating within its confines.

It is dangerous for democracy, and an assault on our intelligence. Unfortunately for the government and their corporate spokespersons, the Internet is providing fertile ground for dissent. Thousands of bloggers and sites are now reaching millions of people and they are holding the media accountable for its complacency.

To use a cliché, you can fool all the people some of the time, but you can’t fool all the people all of the time. People's patience with the mainstream media is wearing thin, and an increasing amount of people are turning to independent bloggers for serious opinion and reporting. Yes, the world of blogging is disorganised, confusing, and completely disjointed, but it is at least real.

So, come and join the alternative world of independent publishing. It's not perfect, but its the best chance we have in bringing power back to the people.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2007

This says it all...

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Monday, September 3, 2007

Mexico's President slaps down xenophobic U.S. immigration policy

Finally someone is standing up for the rights of migrant workers in the U.S. Its unfortunate that its been left to the President of Mexico. That being said it seems relevant to mention that though he is right and its important that people speak out on this issue he could also start by working to create labor standards and wage laws as well as to root out corruption and criminality in the government. A change in the economic and social circumstances which might encourage people to stay in Mexico is an important part of comprehensive immigration policy, which in my mind does not include walls, electronic surveillance, or mass jailing and deportation. That all being said the man is definitely right, and has only been in office for a few months, so I'll give him a chance on the other stuff.
From the Arizona Republic:

Strong words for America, stern warnings for Mexico

Chris Hawley
Republic Mexico City Bureau
Sept. 2, 2007 03:40 PM
MEXICO CITY - Mexico's president drew a standing ovation from legislators as he chided Americans for new border fences and their "humiliating treatment" of illegal immigrants during his State of the Union speech on Sunday.

But President Felipe Calderón leveled criticism at his own country as well, warning that Mexico is headed for a crisis if it does not create more jobs, improve education, crack down on tax evaders and find an alternative to its dwindling oil reserves.

The speech was Calderón's first State of the Union address since his disputed win in last year's presidential election. Lawmakers from the leftist Democratic Revolutionary Party boycotted the speech, and about 1,500 protesters jeered Calderón outside the National Palace in Mexico City's colonial center.

The speech was postponed a day and relocated from the capitol building to the National Palace, the former residence of Mexico's presidents, because of fears that opposition lawmakers would rush the podium to block the speech.

Calderón is a conservative who shares the Bush administration's pro-business sentiments. But he fiercely criticized the United States for failing to reform its immigration system this year while simultaneously bolstering border security.

"I again express an energetic protest for the unilateral measures, taken by the Congress and the government of the United States, that exacerbate the persecution and the humiliating treatment of undocumented Mexican workers," Calderón said.
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Sunday, September 2, 2007

UK and US trade barbs over troop pullout

By Ben Cohen

After the British announced their departure from Southern Iraq, a spat arose between the U.K and the U.S about their commitment to 'Democracy' in the region. In the scheme of things, it is a small difference of opinion between two imperial nations. But it is entertaining nevertheless to see the intimate pair squabble over their countries policies in Iraq.

General Jack Keane, a US commander accused the British of cutting and running in Iraq, saying the situation in Basra was "deteriorating."
He told the BBC, "I think there is a general disengagement from what the key issues are around Basra."

"The Brits have never had enough troops to truly protect the population and we have found that out painfully in the central region as well."

Sir Mike Jackson, the former chief of the British army hit back ferociously calling U.S postwar planning in Iraq 'intellectually bankrupt'. Singling out the then defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld, Jackson told the Sunday Mirror, "The US had already convinced themselves that Iraq would emerge reasonably quickly as a stable democracy. Anybody who tried to tell them anything that challenged that idea - they simply shut it out".....

Jackson has a point. Scolding the British for post war planning is completely ridiculous, particularly from any American involved in the disastrous venture in Iraq. The Bush administration has bungled the post war occupation beyond belief leading to a complete melt down in civilian life in Iraq, and for Keane to lecture the British about post war planning is the absolute definition of hypocrisy. With the Republican party slowly but surely turning its back on the President, they are looking for scape goats to shift the blame to and the British seem to be next in line.

However, the British cannot complain. They were foolish enough to follow Bush and his maniacal administration into Iraq, and they must deal with whatever the White House chooses to throw at them when it all goes wrong. Both countries are guilty of a heinous crime, and arguing over who did it worse is really a distraction from the serious issue: the illegal invasion of a sovereign nation and total disregard for its population thereafter. Jackson might have a point, but he has missed the main one by a mile.
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Gravel tells it like it is...

Once again former Senator Mike Gravel is speaking the unvarnished truth to the America people. In this clip from Real Time with Bill Maher he explains, calmly an without his usual theatrics, why the media does not provide accurate information to the American people. He also discusses the role of campaign finance, the military-industrial complex, and a number of other factors in the worsening deterioration of America.


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