Why Obama must commit to cluster munitions ban

December 5th, 2008

Mary Shaw

On December 3, 100 countries signed the Cluster Munitions Convention, which prohibits the use of cluster bombs.

So what rogue nations were conspicuously absent? The primary makers or users of cluster bombs -- the U.S., Israel, Russia, China, India, and Pakistan. This is the company we keep.

The problem with cluster bombs is that they are imprecise, and are notorious for killing or maiming innocent civilians, including children.

Cluster bombs are indiscriminate weapons, meaning that they cannot distinguish between an enemy solder and a civilian child. They kill whoever crosses their path. Furthermore, the clusters release numerous "bomblets" and many of them do not explode on impact. So they lie around and become de facto anti-personnel mines. Even worse, they sometimes look like toys to a child. ―In fact, according to a study by Handicap International, 98 percent of cluster bomb victims are civilians and 27 percent are children.

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Orwell in the Scanner

December 5th, 2008

Louise Whiteley

Thoughtcrime does not entail death. Thoughtcrime IS death. ~George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Unlike the contestants on Big Brother, the citizens in Orwell’s novel tend to hold their tongues, but ultimately surveillance of their actions is guaranteed to uncover any deviant thoughts they might entertain. Recently, neuroscientists have started to decipher the thoughts of individuals even in the absence of incriminating actions, as they lie still and silent in a brain scanner.

Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI) uses the magnetic properties of blood to infer the amount of oxygen in brain tissue, and thus indirectly the level of neural activity. This allows scientists to test hypotheses about where in the brain various mental processes are carried out, and, once particular brain areas or patterns of activity have functional ‘labels’, to work out which processes are active when the subject cannot, or will not, say what they are thinking. Researchers have been able to identify regions in the brain that produce a higher fMRI signal when subjects tell a lie, and media reports now speculate about a future in which this could be used to judge whether someone is dissembling in court. This future is in fact disturbingly close – a commercial company called ‘No Lie MRI’ is already “working to have its testing allowed as evidence” in the US, and the emerging field of neuroethics is calling for an urgent debate about the potential uses of such research in civil society and the military.

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Bush's Parting 'FUCK YOU' to America

December 5th, 2008

Len Hart

The 'bailout' is another Bush/GOP scam, a big black hole into which some 1.5 trillion dollars has already has been sucked! The dollar will eventually collapse as did German Marks under the Weimar Republic. Only the big banks benefit but they, too, will collapse. There is no bailout for the 'buck'. The emerging picture is one of fat cats scrambling to cover bare asses while putting the screws to you. This sucks!

Already $billions$ have been squandered, wasted, or simply stolen. Where is the accounting? Where has the money gone? Where is the loans that were supposed to have been made to folks hoping to own a home? How has the bailout benefited Americans in any way whatsoever? I'm open to any credible GOP explanation! I won't get one! Rather, I had expected Bush to tell Paulson: "You're doing a heckuva job!" The scary part is this: perhaps both Henry Paulson and Brownie have done precisely what Bush had intended. Like New Orleans earlier, the US economy is in ruins. Like New Orleans, there is no restoration in sight. There is, however, evidence that it was all planned.

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Iraq's US Security Charade

December 5th, 2008

Ramzy Baroud

World media rashly celebrated the "historic" security pact that allows for US troops to stay in Iraq for three more years after the Iraqi parliament ratified the agreement on Thursday, 27 November. The approval came one week after the Iraqi cabinet did the same.

Thousands of headlines exuded from media outlets, largely giving the false impression that the Iraqi government and parliament have a real say over the future of US troops in their country, once again playing into the ruse fashioned by Washington that Iraq is a democratic country, operating independently from the dictates of US Ambassador to Baghdad Ryan Crocker and the top commander of US troops in Iraq, General Ray Odierno. The men issued a joint, congratulatory statement shortly after the parliamentary vote, describing it as one that would "formalise a strong and equal partnership" between the US and Iraq.

Jonathan Steel of the British Guardian also joined the chorus. "Look at the agreement's text. It is remarkable for the number and scope of the concessions that the Iraqi government has managed to get from the Bush administration. They amount to a series of U-turns that spell the complete defeat of the neo-conservative plan to turn Iraq into a pro-Western ally and a platform from which to project US power across the Middle East."

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What Have the Bastards Done to My Country?

December 5th, 2008

Fred Reed

Oh god. It's getting worse. Everything. I knew it would. Death and taxes are long shots by comparison.

So I'm in Washington, a federal enclave, as someone said, surrounded on all four sides by reality. This was supposed to be a medical trip to have vital internal organs pawed, sliced, and injected with strange fluids. Kidneys, carburetor, remaining brain, that sort of thing. But this is Washington. Horrors everywhere.

Hillary. I don't hate Hillary. She's smart, tough, sane, been around, corrupt, and personally repellent as a fanged garden slug. By today's standards, that's a bargain.

But why the hell is she Secretary of State? How many years has she spent abroad? What languages does she speak? What does she know about the street in Karachi, Cairo, Guadalajara? She probably thinks Mumbai is what you eat with an RC Cola.

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Obama's War Cabinet

December 5th, 2008

Stephen Lendman

December 1 brought more disappointment but no surprises. Obama's national security appointees (like all his earlier ones) aren't "change to believe in" or what people expected for their votes. They're recycled establishment figures. Their agenda is business as usual, and they'll continue the same failed Bush administration policies at home and abroad. Washington's criminal class is bipartisan. Obama was chosen to lead it and is assembling a rogue team that's little different from the one it's replacing. For "security", it means:

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NYT & AP: Their latest ‘Coverage’ of the U.S.-Israeli Genocide in Gaza

December 5th, 2008

Detain This

[The hand and arm of a dead baby pokes out from the rubble of a building in Gaza, July 24, 2002. Debate raged in Israel on Wednesday over the wisdom of killing one of one man at the price of the lives of 14 Palestinians, nine of whom were sleeping children, and international condemnation of the devastating Gaza air raid. A day after the killing of Salah Shehada, it emerged that the U.S. made F-16 warplane that attacked his house used an American one-ton precision "smart bomb". San Diego IndyMedia]

In a December 4, Associated Press release — ”Israel opens Gaza border to foreign journalists” — we get that familiar and obvious double standard in the use of modifiers (divined, as usual, by whether the object of the modifying phrase is a friend or enemy of the U.S.-Israeli warfare state):

Crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip had been closed for more than four weeks since a shaky truce between Israel and Gaza’s violent Hamas rulers began to unravel in a series of cross-border rocket attacks from Gaza and Israeli raids into the territory. [1]

Of course the illegal military occupiers who kill about 30 Palestinians for every Israeli killed by Hamas, are not “violent.” And why the term cross-border? Are Israeli raids not cross-border phenomena? One would assume that when a rocket is fired from Gaza to Israel, it eventually crosses the border. “Cross-border” is inserted to make those oversized bottle-rockets seem more ominous, when in fact only one out of every hundred or so result in injury. Even fewer result in death.

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Afghanistan, Another Untold Story

December 5th, 2008

Michael Parenti

Barack Obama is on record as advocating a military escalation in Afghanistan. Before sinking any deeper into that quagmire, we might do well to learn something about recent Afghan history and the role played by the United States.

Less than a month after the 11 September 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon, US leaders began an all-out aerial assault upon Afghanistan, the country purportedly harboring Osama bin Laden and his al Qaeda terrorist organization. More than twenty years earlier, in 1980, the United States intervened to stop a Soviet “invasion” of that country. Even some leading progressive writers, who normally take a more critical view of US policy abroad, treated the US intervention against the Soviet-supported government as “a good thing.” The actual story is not such a good thing.

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