Monday, May 31, 2010

4:30 Sun., 5/31, Vigil to Mourn Israeli Murders of Free Gaza Activists, Gush Shalom release

I opened this just after sending you today's email.  I thought many of you
would want to read it; and some would consider coming to the Israeli
Consulate, today. 
----- Original Message -----
Sent: Monday, May 31, 2010 8:02 AM
Subject: [PDLA] 4:30 Mon, 5/31, Vigil to Mourn Israeli Murders of Free Gaza Activists - Winograd Denounces Massacre Aboard Flotilla in International Waters

Human rights advocates, including members of LA Jews for Peace, will mourn the Israeli military massacre of Free Gaza activists delivering aid, clothing and wheelchairs, to a million imprisoned in Gaza.  The vigil will be held at 4:30 today, Monday, 5/31, in front of the Israeli consulate, 6380 Wilshire Blvd., LA, CA 90048.
I have posted this press release denouncing the attack on the Free Gaza flotilla and calling for an international investigation.  Marcy Winograd

May 31, 2010
Contact: Caitlin Frazier, Press Secretary
Tel. (405) 818 4077

Peace Candidate Winograd Denounces Murders of  Free Gaza Activists

Calls for International Investigation of Israeli Military Attacks

(Marina del Rey) Congressional Candidate Marcy Winograd (CA-36) denounces the Israeli military's killing of at least 10 Free Gaza activists and wounding of dozens more on board a flotilla delivering  humanitarian aid to Gaza.  A founder of LA Jews for Peace, Winograd calls for an international investigation into the Israeli military's use of deadly force and urges Congress to immediately pass a resolution supporting such an investigation.   Earlier, CNN reported  Israeli troops opened fire on civilians aboard the flotilla in international waters.

As a sign of solidarity with the Free Gaza movement, a Winograd for Congress t-shirt had been sent and worn on the flotilla.

Says Winograd, "I suspect the murders were committed as a warning to others who might want to bring humanitarian aid to Gaza.  Ironically, the killings are bound to heighten awareness about the brutal blockade and to increase pressure to end the imprisonment of over a million people in Gaza."

Adds Winograd, "Violence begets violence.   Hatred begets hatred.  Enough, we must stop this, and adhere to the laws that have been established by the international community.  Working for peace and human rights for all is the only way forward.  As a Jewish woman of conscience, I invite my opponent, Jane Harman, another Jewish woman, and all of Congress to join me in denouncing this kind of barbaric violence, demanding an end to the blockade, and seeking an international investigation into these murders.   I recommit myself to working towards a true, just, and lasting peace."

To learn more about the Winograd For Congress campaign, visit:


From: "Sid Shniad" <>
Subject: [R-G] [Gush Shalom press release] Only a government that crossedall red lines

*עברית אחרי אנגל*

*Press Release 05/31/2010

**Uri Avnery: this night a crime was perpetrated in the middle of the sea,
by order of the government of Israel and the IDF Command **

*A warlike attack against aid ships and deadly shooting at peace and
humanitarian aid activists
It is a crazy thing that only a government that crossed all red lines can do

"Only a crazy government that has lost all restraint and all connection to
reality could something like that - consider ships carrying humanitarian aid
and peace activists from around the world as an enemy and send massive
military force to international waters to attack them, shoot and kill.

"Noone in the world will believe the lies and excuses which the government
and army spokesmen come up with," said former Knesset member Uri Avnery of
the Gush Shalom movement. Gush Shalom activists together with activists of
other organizations are to depart at 11:00 from Tel Aviv to protest in front
of the prepared detention facility where the international peace activists
will be brought.

Greta Berlin, the spokeswoman for the flotilla organizers located in Cyprus,
told Gush Shalom activists that the Israeli commandos landed by helicopter
on the boats and immediately opened fire.

This is a day of disgrace to the State of Israel, a day of anxiety in which
we discover that our future was entrusted to a bunch of trigger-happy people
without any responsibility. This day is a day of disgrace and madness and
stupidity without limit, the day the Israeli government took care to blacken
the name of the country in the world, adding convincing evidence of
aggressiveness and brutality to Israel's already bad international image,
discouraging and distancing the few remaining friends.

Indeed, today a provocation took place off the coast of Gaza - but the
provocateurs were not the peace activists invited by the Palestinians and
seeking to reach Gaza. The provocation was carried out by Navy ships
commandos at the bidding of the Israeli government, blocking the way of the
aid boats and using deadly force.

It is time to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip, which causes severe
suffering to its residents. Today the Israeli government ripped the mask of
its face with its own hands and exposed the fact that Israel did not
"disengage" from Gaza. Real disengagement from the area does not go together
with blocking the access to it or sending soldiers to shoot and kill and
wound those who try to get there.

The State of Israel promised in the Oslo Accords 17 years ago to enable and
encourage the establishment of a deep water port in Gaza, through which
Palestinians could import and export freely to develop their economy. It's
time to realize this commitment and open the Port of Gaza. Only after the
Gaza port will be open to free and undisturbed movement, just like the
Ashdod and Haifa ports, will Israel really have disengaged from the Gaza
Strip. Until then, the world will continue - and rightly so - to consider
the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation and the State of Israel as
responsible for the fate of the people living there.

Contact: Uri Avnery 0505-306449
Adam Keller, Gush Shalom spokesman 03-5565804 or 054-2340749
Coalition Against the Siege Yacov - 050-5733276, 09-7670801, Sebastian

Greta Berlin  spokeswoman for flotilla organizers
*הודעה לעיתונות 31.5.2010*
* *

אורי אבנרי: בלב ים בוצע הלילה מעשה פשע בפקודת ממשלת ישראל ופיקוד צה"ל

התקפה מלחמתית על ספינות סיוע וירי קטלני על פעילי שלום וסיוע הומניטארי

היא מעשה מטורף שרק ממשלה שעברה כל גבול מסוגלת לעשותו

* *

*"רק ממשלה מטורפת שאיבדה כל רסן וכל קשר למציאות הייתה מסוגלת למעשה כזה –
להתייחס לספינות הנושאות סיוע הומניטארי ופעילי שלום מכל רחבי העולם כאל אויב
ולשלוח כוח צבאי אדיר כדי לתקוף אותן במים בינלאומיים, לירות ולהרוג. התירוצים
השקרניים שמביאים דוברי הממשלה והצבא למעשה הזה לא ישכנעו איש בעולם" אומר חבר
הכנסת לשעבר אורי אבנרי מתנועת גוש שלום. פעילים מגוש שלום ותנועות אחרות
עומדים לצאת בשעה 11.00 מתל אביב לקיים הפגנת מחאה לפני מתקן המעצר אליו הובאו
פעילי השלום הבינלאומיים. *

* *

*גרטה ברלין, דוברת מארגני המשט הנמצאת בקפריסין, מסרה לפעילי גוש שלום כי
חיילי הקומנדו הישראלים נחתו בהליקופטר על הספינות ופתחו מיד באש לעבר נוסעיהן.

* *

*זהו יום של חרפה למדינת ישראל, יום של חרדה בו אנו מגלים כי עתידנו הופקד בידי
חבורה של אנשים חסרי כל אחריות שידם קלה על ההדק. זהו יום הוא יום של בושה
וחרפה וגם שיגעון וטפשות ללא גבול, יום בו דאגה ממשלת ישראל להשחיר את שמה של
המדינה  בעולם כולו, לספק הוכחות חדשות ומוחצות לתדמית הכוחנית והברוטאלית שכבר
יצאה לישראל בזירה הבינלאומית, לייאש ולהרחיק את מעט הידידים שעוד נותרו לה. *

* *

*אכן, היום התבצעה פרובוקציה מול חופי עזה – אך הפרובוקטורים לא היו פעילי
השלום שביקשו להגיע לעזה על פי הזמנתם ובקשתם המפורשת של התושבים הפלסטינים. את
הפרובוקציה ביצעו ספינות חיל הים וחיילי הקומנדו, במצוותה של ממשלת ישראל, כאשר
חסמו את דרכן של הספינות והפעילו כוח קטלני. *

* *

*הגיע הזמן להסיר  את המצור על רצועת עזה, הגורם סבל קשה לתושביה. היום קרעה
ממשלת ישראל במו ידיה את המסכה מעל פניה וחשפה את העובדה כי מדינת ישראל לא
"התנתקה" מעזה. מי שהתנתק באמת משטח אינו חוסם את הדרכים לשטח הזה ואינו שולח
חיילים להרוג ולפצוע את כי מי משנסה הלגיע אליו. *

* *

*מדינת ישראל התחייבה בהסכמי אוסלו לפני 17 שנה לאפשר וגם לעודד הקמת נמל עמוק
מים בעזה, דרכו יוכלו הפלסטינים לייבא ולייצא באופן חופשי ולפתח את כלכלתם.
הגיע הזמן לממש את ההתחייבות הזאת ולפתוח לרווחה את נמל עזה. רק ברגע שיפתח נמל
עזה לתנועה חופשית ובלתי מופרעת, בדיוק כמו בנמל אשדוד ובנמל חיפה, תסתיים באמת
התנתקותה של ישראל מרצועת עזה. עד אז, ימשיך העולם – ובצדק – לראות את רצועת
עזה כנתונה לכיבוש ישראלי ואת מדינת ישראל כאחראית לגורל התושבים בה.*

* *

*לפרטים:   אורי אבנרי 0505-306449*

*אדם קלר, דובר גוש שלום 03-5565804 או 054-2340749*

*קואליציה נגד המצור יעקב- 050-5733276, 09-7670801,  סבסטיאן-050-6846056*

*גרטה ברלין דוברת מארגני המשט  מדברת אנגלית*

*+357 99187275*

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and write the word subscribe in the subject line.
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For assistance:

Remembrance Day

Hello All,

Please consider going to the Arlington West Memorial at the Santa
Monica Pier today, Monday, May 30th. The solemnity of the sea of
symbols representing the fallen in Iraq and Afghanistan is profound,
and sharing that among so many will be memorable. The monument
is non-'political', except in the sense of being against war. It is run and
was founded by veterans of WWII, Viet Nam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Veterans For Peace Los Angeles Chapter


This video is wonderfully produced, the song itself, extrordinary. -Ed

The Band Played Waltzing Matilda


Published on Friday, February 14, 2003 by the San Francisco

Taking a Stand on Iraq: Speak Out
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti

And a vast paranoia sweeps across the land
And America turns the attack on its Twin Towers
Into the beginning of the Third World War
The war with the Third World
And the terrorists in Washington
Are drafting all the young men
And no one speaks
And they are rousting out
All the ones with turbans
And they are flushing out
All the strange immigrants
And they are shipping all the young men
To the killing fields again
And no one speaks
And when they come to round up
All the great writers and poets and painters
The National Endowment of the Arts of Complacency
Will not speak
While all the young men
Will be killing all the young men
In the killing fields again
So now is the time for you to speak
All you lovers of liberty
All you lovers of the pursuit of happiness
All you lovers and sleepers
Deep in your private dreams
Now is the time for you to speak
O silent majority
Before they come for you

Lawrence Ferlinghetti is San Francisco's first poet laureate (1998)
and the owner and founder of City Lights Bookstore. This poem first
appeared on the City Lights Web site (


Excerpts from Eisenhower speeches:

:Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired
signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not
fed, those who are cold and are not clothed... The cost of one modern heavy
bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two
electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two
fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete
pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of
wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed
more than 8,000 people."

"Crises there will continue to be," Eisenhower declared in his farewell
warning. "In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small,
there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly
action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties."


The War Prayer: by Mark Twain

O Lord our God, help us tear their soldiers to bloody shreds
with our shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the
pale forms of their patriot dead; help us to drown the
thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their wounded,
writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes
with a hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their
unoffending widows with unavailing grief; help us to turn
them out roofless with their little children to wander
unfriended in the wastes of their desolated land in rags and
hunger and thirst, sports of the sun flames in summer and
the icy winds of winter, broken in spirit, worn with travail,
imploring thee for the refuge of the grave and denied it--

For our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight
their lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their
steps, water their way with their tears, strain the white
snow with the blood of their wounded feet!

We ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of
Love, and Who is the ever-faithful refuge and friend of all
that are sore beset and seek His aid with humble and
contrite hearts.




War is a racket. It always has been. It is possibly the oldest, easily the
most profitable, surely the most vicious.
~ General Smedley Butler

I hate war for its consequences, for the lies it lives on and propagates,
for the undying hatreds it arouses...
~ Harry Emerson Fosdick

After every ''victory'' you have more enemies.
~ Jeanette Winterson

Only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in
~ Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

The belief in the possibility of a short decisive war appears to be one of
the most ancient and dangerous of human illusions.
~ Robert Lynd

Those who give up essential liberties for temporary safety deserve neither
liberty nor safety.
~ Benjamin Franklin

War doesn't make boys men, it makes men dead.
~ Ken Gillespie

We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. When the loyal opposition dies,
I think the soul of America dies with it.
~ Edward R. Murrow

Paramount among the responsibilities of a free press is the duty to prevent
any part of the government from deceiving the people...
~ Hugo Black, Supreme Court Justice

In times of universal deceit, telling the truth will be a revolutionary act.
~ George Orwell

In this war - as in others - I am less interested in honoring the dead than
in preventing the dead.
~ Butler Shaffer

It is dangerous to be right when the government is wrong.
~ Voltaire

We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's
~ Jimmy Carter

That we are "to stand by the president right or wrong" is not only
unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.
~ Theodore Roosevelt

War is a racket. It is the only one international in scope. It is the only
one in which the profits are reckoned in dollars and the losses in lives.
~ General Smedley Butler

May we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

Every war when it comes, or before it comes, is represented not as a war but
as an act of self-defense against a homicidal maniac.
~ George Orwell

Criticism in a time of war is essential to the maintenance of any kind of
democratic government.
~ Sen. Robert Taft, (R) Ohio

The evils of government are directly proportional to the tolerance of the
~ Frank Kent

If there is one principle more deeply rooted in the mind of every American,
it is that we should have nothing to do with conquest.
~ Thomas Jefferson

I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for
this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually.
~ James Baldwin

There were no international terrorists in Iraq until we went in. It was we
who gave the perfect conditions in which Al Qaeda could thrive.
~ Robin Cook

All men having power ought to be mistrusted.
~ James Madison

The people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders...tell them
they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism
and exposing the country to danger.
~ Herman Goering

We Americans have no commission from God to police the world.
~ Benjamin Harrison

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security.
~ Dwight D. Eisenhower

The biggest lesson I learned from Vietnam is not to trust [our own]
government statements.
~ Senator James W. Fulbright

I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in
the name of national security.
~ Jim Garrison

No matter that patriotism is too often the refuge of scoundrels. Dissent,
rebellion, and all-around hell-raising remain the true duty of patriots.
~ Barbara Ehrenreich

You can no more win a war than you can win an earthquake.
~ Jeanette Rankin

All those who seek to destroy the liberties of a democratic nation ought to
know that war is the surest and shortest means to accomplish it.
~ Alexis de Tocqueville

It is part of the general pattern of misguided policy that our country is
now geared to an arms economy which was bred in an artificially induced
psychosis of war hysteria and nurtured upon an incessant propaganda of fear.
~ General Douglas MacArthur

There is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.
~ Howard Zinn

All wars are fought for money. ~ Socrates

As for "the good war", WWII, Hitler would have been nowhere without the
support of billionaires from Europe and America (such as Prescott Bush,
grandfather the the most recent president), who looked to profit from it.


Liz Rich

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Immemorial Day

**This was published two years ago. Revise upward, dramatically..
I'll send appropriate music and poetry tomorrow. -Ed

Immemorial Day - No Peace for Militarized U.S.

By Bill Quigley May 26, 2008

Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for U.S. troops who died in
action but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace. The 1950
Joint Resolution of Congress which created Memorial Day says: "Requesting
the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a
day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace." (64 Stat.158).

Peace today is a nearly impossible challenge for the United States. The U.S.
is far and away the most militarized country in the world and the most
aggressive. Unless the U.S. dramatically reduces its emphasis on global
military action, there will be many, many more families grieving on future
Memorial days.

The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually on our military, more than the
rest of the world combined. China, our nearest competitor, spends about
one-tenth of what we spend. The U.S. also sells more weapons to other
countries than any other nation in the world.

The U.S. has about 700 military bases in 130 countries world-wide and
another 6000 bases in the US and our territories, according to Chalmers
Johnson in his excellent book NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN
REPUBLIC (2007).

The Department of Defense (DOD) reports nearly 1.4 million active duty
military personnel today. Over a quarter of a million are in other countries
from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the rest
of the Western Hemisphere. The DOD also employs more than 700,000 civilian

The US has used its armed forces abroad over 230 times according to
researchers at the Department of the Navy Historical Center. Their
publications list over 60 military efforts outside the U.S. since World War

While the focus of most of the Memorial Day activities will be on U.S.
military dead, no effort is made to try to identify or remember the military
or civilians of other countries who have died in the same actions. For
example, the U.S. government reports 432 U.S. military dead in Afghanistan
and surrounding areas, but has refused to disclose civilian casualties. "We
don't do body counts," General Tommy Franks said.

Most people know of the deaths in World War I - 116,000 U.S. soldiers
killed. But how many in the U.S. know that over 8 million soldiers from
other countries and perhaps another 8 million civilians also died during
World War II?

By World War II, about 408,000 U.S. soldiers were killed. World-wide, at
least another 20 million soldiers and civilians died.

The U.S. is not only the largest and most expensive military on the planet
but it is also the most active. Since World War II, the U.S. has used U.S.
military force in the following countries:

1947-1949 Greece. Over 500 U.S. armed forces military advisers were sent
into Greece to administer hundreds of millions of dollars in their civil

1947-1949 Turkey. Over 400 U.S. armed forces military advisers sent into

1950-1953 Korea. In the Korean War and other global conflicts 54,246 U.S.
service members died.

1957-1975 Vietnam. Over 58,219 U.S. killed.

1958-1984 Lebanon. Sixth Fleet amphibious Marines and U.S. Army troops
landed in Beirut during their civil war. Over 3000 U.S. military
participated. 268 U.S. military killed in bombing.

1959 Haiti. U.S. troops, Marines and Navy, land in Haiti and joined in
support of military dictator Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier against rebels.

1962 Cuba. Naval and Marine forces blockade island.

1964 Panama. U.S. troops stationed there since 1903. U.S. troops used
gunfire and tear gas to clear US Canal Zone.

1965-1966 Dominican Republic. U.S. troops land in Dominican Republic during
their civil war - eventually 23,000 were stationed in their country.

1969-1975 Cambodia. U.S. and South Vietnam jets dropped more than 539,000
tons of bombs on Cambodia - three times the number dropped on Japan during

1964-1973 Laos. U.S. flew 580,000 bombing runs over country - more than 2
million tons of bombs dropped - double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany.
US dropped more than 80 million cluster bombs on Laos - 10 to 30% did not
explode leaving 8 to 24 million scattered across the country. Since the war
stopped, two or three Laotians are killed every month by leftover bombs -
over 5700 killed since bombing stopped.

1980 Iran. Operation Desert One, 8 U.S. troops die in rescue effort.

1981 Libya. U.S. planes aboard the Nimitz shot down 2 Libyan jets over Gulf
of Sidra.

1983 Grenada. U.S. Army and Marines invade, 19 U.S. killed.

1983 Lebanon. Over 1200 Marines deployed into country during their civil
war. 241 U.S. service members killed in bombing.

1983-1991 El Salvador. Over 150 US soldiers participate in their civil war
as military advisers.

1983 Honduras. Over 1000 troops and National Guard members deployed into
Honduras to help the contra fight against Nicaragua.

1986 Libya. U.S. Naval air strikes hit hundreds of targets - airfields,
barracks, and defense networks.

1986 Bolivia. U.S. Army troops assist in anti-drug raids on cocaine growers.

1987 Iran. Operation Nimble Archer. U.S. warships shelled two Iranian oil
platforms during Iran-Iraq war.

1988 Iran. US naval warship Vincennes in Persian Gulf shoots down Iranian
passenger airliner, Airbus A300, killing all 290 people on board. US said it
thought it was Iranian military jet.

1989 Libya. U.S. Naval jets shoot down 2 Libyan jets over Mediterranean

1989-1990 Panama. U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy forces invade Panama to
arrest President Manuel Noriega on drug charges. U.N. puts civilian death
toll at 500.

1989 Philippines. U.S. jets provide air cover to Philippine troops during
their civil war.

1991 Gulf War. Over 500,000 U.S. military involved. 700 plus U.S. died.

1992-93 Somalia. Operation Provide Relief, Operation Restore Hope, and
Operation Continue Hope. Over 1300 U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces
landed in 1992. A force of over 10,000 US was ultimately involved. Over 40
U.S. soldiers killed.

1992-96 Yugoslavia. U.S. Navy joins in naval blockade of Yugoslavia in
Adriatic waters.

1993 Bosnia. Operation Deny Flight. U.S. jets patrol no-fly zone, naval
ships launch cruise missiles, attack Bosnian Serbs.

1994 Haiti. Operation Uphold Democracy. U.S. led force of 20,000 troops
invade to restore president.

1995 Saudi Arabia. U.S. soldier killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia outside US
training facility.

1996 Saudi Arabia. Nineteen U.S. service personnel die in blast at Saudi Air

1998 Sudan. Operation Infinite Reach. U.S. cruise missiles fired at
pharmaceutical plant thought to be terrorist center.

1998 Afghanistan. Operation Infinite Reach. U.S. fires 75 cruise missiles on
four training camps.

1998 Iraq. Operation Desert Fox. U.S. Naval bombing Iraq from striker jets
and cruise missiles after weapons inspectors report Iraqi obstructions.

1999 Yugoslavia. U.S. participates in months of air bombing and cruise
missile strikes in Kosovo war.

2000 Yemen. 17 U.S. sailors killed aboard US Navy guided missile destroyer
USS Cole docked in Aden, Yemen.

2001 Macedonia. U.S. military lands troops during their civil war.

2001 to present Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) includes
Pakistan and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan. 432 U.S. killed in those
countries. Another 64 killed in other locations of OEF - Guantanamo Bay,
Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines,
Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen. US military does not count
deaths of non- US civilians, but estimates of over 8000 Afghan troops
killed, over 3500 Afghan civilians killed.

2002 Yemen. U.S. predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda.

2002 Philippines. U.S. sends over 1800 troops and Special Forces in mission
with local military.

2003-2004 Colombia. U.S. sends in 800 military to back up Columbian military
troops in their civil war.

2003 to present Iraq. Operation Iraqi Freedom. 4082 U.S. military killed.
British medical journal Lancet estimates over 655,000 civilian deaths. Iraq
Body Count estimates over 84,000 civilians killed.

2005 Haiti. U.S. troops land in Haiti after elected president forced to

2005 Pakistan. U.S. air strikes inside Pakistan against suspected Al Qaeda,
killing mostly civilians.

2007 Somalia. U.S. Air Force gunship attacked suspected Al Qaeda members,
U.S. Navy joins in blockade against Islamic rebels.

The U.S. has the most powerful and expensive military force in the world.
The U.S. is the biggest arms merchant. And the U.S. has been the most
aggressive in world-wide interventions. If Memorial Day in the U.S. is
supposed to be about praying for peace, the U.S. has a lot of praying (and
changing) to do.

Bill is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New
Orleans. His email is

Saturday, May 29, 2010

TomDispatch: The American Century Is So Over

There's a lot to chew on in this incisive, articulate overview
of US foreign policy. It surveys the world and is about double
in size of what I usually send you, but is well worth the viewing,
whether in sections or a big gulp, during this holiday weekend.

Obama's Flip-Flop Leadership Style

by Dilip Hiro
Tomgram: May 27, 2010

What do you make of it when Afghan War commander General Stanley McChrystal
now refers to the only significant offensive he's set in motion -- the
attempt to drive the Taliban out of Marjah, a collection of villages in
Helmand Province -- as "a bleeding ulcer"? Or what about his upcoming
summer "offensive" to drive the Taliban out of the second largest Afghan
city, Kandahar, which has recently been verbally downgraded from an
"operation" to something called "Cooperation for Kandahar," now also
referred to as a "military presence" so as not to offend local sensibilities
with a hint of the coming violence. What do you make of it when Dion
Nissenbaum and Jonathan Landay of McClatchy Newspapers report in mid-May
that the American non-operation in Kandahar, scarcely beginning, is already
showing signs of "faltering," while Karen DeYoung of the Washington Post
describes it as a "go-for-broke move that even its authors are unsure will
succeed," adding: "There is no Plan B."

Or what about when Gareth Porter, who has been doing top-notch reporting on
the Afghan War for Inter Press Service, points out McChrystal's striking
recent Kandahar flip-flop. Back in March, his team was talking about
getting rid of Afghan President Hamid Karzai's half-brother Wali Karzai,
Kandahar's major powerbroker, a man reputedly deeply involved in the drug
trade, and an asset or former asset of the CIA. ("The only way to clean up
Chicago," said McChrystal's intelligence chief General Michael Flynn back
then, "is to get rid of Capone.") More recently, however, they have executed
a 180-degree turn and decided not only to leave him in place, but to
intensify their work with him. "The reaffirmation of ties between the U.S.
and [Wali] Karzai," writes Porter, "ensures that the whole military effort
in the province is locked into Karzai's political strategy for maintaining
his grip on power."

Consider this but a brief snapshot of Obama's flailing war in Afghanistan.
As TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro makes clear in his latest canny analysis,
the president of what was, until recently, the global power is losing his
grip not just on Afghanistan, but on the planet. Hiro, whose latest book,
After Empire: The Birth of A Multipolar World, offers a deep look into
international power shifts, has been writing about the downward slope of
American power at this site since 2007. Tom

The American Century Is So Over

Obama's Rudderless Foreign Policy Underscores America's Waning Power

By Dilip Hiro

Irrespective of their politics, flawed leaders share a common trait. They
generally remain remarkably oblivious to the harm they do to the nation they
lead. George W. Bush is a salient recent example, as is former British Prime
Minister Tony Blair. When it comes to foreign policy, we are now witnessing
a similar phenomenon at the Obama White House.

Here is the Obama pattern: Choose a foreign leader to pressure. Threaten
him with dire consequences if he does not bend to Washington's will. When he
refuses to submit and instead responds vigorously, back off quickly and
overcompensate for failure by switching into a placatory mode.

In his first year-plus in office, Barack Obama has provided us with enough
examples to summarize his leadership style. The American president fails to
objectively evaluate the strength of the cards that a targeted leader holds
and his resolve to play them.

Obama's propensity to retreat at the first sign of resistance shows that
he lacks both guts and the strong convictions that are essential elements
distinguishing statesmen from politicians. By pursuing a rudderless course
in his foreign policy, by flip-flopping in his approach to other leaders, he
is also inadvertently furnishing hard evidence to those who argue that
American power is on the decline -- and that the downward slide of the
former "sole superpower" is irreversible.

Those who have refused to buckle under Obama's initial threats and
hardball tactics (and so the impact of American power) include not just the
presidents of China, a first-tier mega-nation, and Brazil, a rising major
power, but also the leaders of Israel, a regional power heavily dependent on
Washington for its sustenance, and Afghanistan, a client state -- not to
mention the military junta of Honduras, a minor entity, which stood up to
the Obama administration as if it were the Politburo of former Soviet Union.

Flip-Flop on Honduras

By overthrowing the civilian government of President Manuel Zelaya in June
2009, the Honduran generals acquired the odious distinction of carrying out
the first military coup in Central America in the post-Cold War era. What
drove them to it? The precipitating factor was Zelaya's decision to have a
non-binding survey on holding a referendum that November about convening a
Constituent Assembly to redraft the constitution.

Denouncing the coup as a "terrible precedent" for the region and demanding
its reversal, President Obama initially insisted: "We do not want to go back
to a dark past. We always want to stand with democracy."

Those words should have been followed by deeds like recalling his
ambassador in Tegucigalpa (just as Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba, Ecuador,
Nicaragua, and Venezuela did) and an immediate suspension of the American
aid on which the country depends. Instead, what followed was a statement by
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that the administration would not
formally designate the ouster as a military coup "for now" -- even though
the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the European
Union had already done so.

This backtracking encouraged the Honduran generals and their Republican
supporters in Congress. They began to stonewall, while a top notch public
relations firm in Washington, hired by the de facto government of the
military's puppet president Roberto Micheletti, went to work.

These moves proved enough to weaken the "democratic" resolve of a
president who makes lofty speeches, but lacks strong convictions when it
comes to foreign policy. Secretary of State Clinton then began talking of
reconciling the ousted president and the Micheletti government, treating the
legitimate and illegitimate camps as equals.

Having realized that a hard line stance vis-à-vis Washington was paying
dividends, the Honduran generals remained unbending. Only when Clinton
insisted that the State Department would not recognize the November
presidential election result because of doubts about it being free, fair,
and transparent did they agree to a compromise a month before the poll. They
would let Zelaya return to the presidential palace to finish his term in

That was when rightwing Republican Senator Jim DeMint, a fanatical
supporter of the Honduran generals, swung into action. He would give
Republican consent to White House nominees for important posts in Latin
America only if Clinton agreed to recognize the election results,
irrespective of what happened to Zelaya. Clinton buckled.

As a result, Obama became one of only two leaders -- the other being
Panama's president -- in the 34-member Organization of American States to
lend his support to the Honduran presidential poll. What probably appeared
as a routine trade-off in domestic politics on Capitol Hill was seen by the
international community as a humiliating retreat by Obama when challenged by
a group of Honduran generals. Other leaders undoubtedly took note.

A far more dramatic reversal awaited Obama when he locked horns with
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Wily Netanyahu Trumps Naïve Obama

On taking office, the Obama White House announced with much fanfare that
it would take on the intractable Israeli-Palestinian dispute right away. On
examining the 2003 "road map" to peace backed by the United Nations, the
United States, Russia, and the European Union, it discovered Israel's
promise to cease all settlement-building activity.

In his first meeting with Netanyahu in mid-May 2009, Obama demanded a halt
to the expansion of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and occupied East
Jerusalem, already housing nearly 500,000 Jews. He argued that they were a
major obstacle to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.
Netanyahu balked -- and changed tack by stressing the existential threat
that Iran's nuclear program posed to Israel.

Obama slipped into the Israeli leader's trap. At their joint press
conference, he linked the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks with the Iranian
nuclear threat. Then, to Netanyahu's delight, he gave Tehran "until the end
of the year" to respond to his diplomatic overtures. In this way, the wily
prime minister got the American president to accept his linkage of two
unrelated issues while offering nothing in return.

Later, Netanyahu would differentiate between the ongoing expansion of
present Jewish settlements and the creation of new ones, with no compromise
on the former. He would also draw a clear distinction between the West Bank
and East Jerusalem which, he would insist, was an integral part of the
"indivisible, eternal capital of Israel," and therefore exempt from any
restrictions on Jewish settlements.

Reflecting the Obama administration's style, Clinton offered a strong
verbal riposte: "No exceptions to Israeli settlement freeze". These would
prove empty words that changed nothing on the ground.

When Netanyahu publicly rejected Obama's demand for a halt to settlement
construction in the West Bank, Obama raised the stakes, suggesting that
Israeli intransigence endangered American security.

On October 15th, after much back-channel communication between the two
governments, Netanyahu announced that he had terminated the settlements
talks with Washington. Having said this, he offered to curb some settlement
construction during a later meeting with Clinton. This won him the secretary
of state's effusive praise for an "unprecedented" gesture, and a call for
the unconditional resumption of the Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

The Palestinians were flabbergasted by this American volte-face. "I
believe that the U.S. condones continued settlement expansion," said stunned
Palestinian government spokesman Ghassan Khatib. "Negotiations are about
ending the occupation and settlement expansion is about entrenching the

In December, Netanyahu agreed to a 10-month moratorium on settlement
building, but only after his government had given permission for the
construction of 3,000 new apartments in the occupied West Bank. Sticking to
their original position, the Palestinians refused to revive peace talks
until there was a total freeze on settlement activity.

On March 9, 2010, just as Vice-President Joe Biden arrived in Jerusalem as
part of Washington's campaign to kick-start the peace process, the Israeli
authorities announced the approval of yet more building -- 1,600 new homes
in East Jerusalem. This audacious move, meant to underline Israel's defiance
of Washington, left Biden -- as well as Obama -- fuming.

With the House of Representatives adopting his health reform bill on March
24th, Obama was on a domestic roll when he met Netanyahu in Washington the
next day. He reportedly laid out three conditions for defusing the crisis:
an extension of the freeze on Jewish settlement expansion beyond September
2010; an end to further Jewish settlement projects in East Jerusalem; and
withdrawal of the Israeli forces to the positions held before the Second
Intifada in September 2000. He then left Netanyahu at the White House to
consult with his advisers and get back to him if "there is anything new."
Again, however, as with the Honduran generals Obama's tough talk remained
just that: talk.

The purpose of all this activity was to get the Palestinians to resume
peace negotiations with Israel, which they had broken off when that country
attacked the Gaza Strip in December 2008. Netanyahu was prepared to talk as
long as no preconditions were set by the Palestinians.

In the end, he got what he wanted. He met neither Palestinian
preconditions nor those of the Obama administration. Simply put, it was
Obama who bent to Netanyahu's will. The tail wagged the dog.

The hapless officials of the Palestinian Authority read the writing on the
wall. After some ritual huffing and puffing, they agreed to participate in
"proximity talks" with the Netanyahu government in which Washington's Middle
East envoy, George Mitchell, would shuttle back and forth between the two
sides. These started on May 9th. Over the next four months, Mitchell's tough
task will be to try to narrow the yawning differences on the terms of
Palestinian statehood -- when both sides now know that Obama will shy away
from pressuring Israel where it hurts.

Spat With China, Then a Sudden Thaw

Obama's problems with the People's Republic of China (PRC) began in
November 2009 when, to his disappointment, the Chinese government failed to
accord him the royal treatment he had expected on his first visit to the

Washington-Beijing relations cooled further when the Obama administration
greenlighted the sale of $6.4 billion worth of advanced weaponry to Taiwan,
including anti-missile missiles, and Obama met the Dalai Lama, Tibet's
spiritual leader, at the White House. The PRC regards Taiwan as a breakaway
province and Tibet as an integral part of the republic.

Senior U.S. officials described the moves as part of Obama's concerted
drive to "push back" at China which, in his view, was punching above its
weight. Along with these moves went unrelenting pressure on Beijing, in
private and in public, to revalue its currency, the yuan. The
administration repeatedly highlighted a legal provision requiring the
Treasury Department to report twice a year on any country that has been
manipulating the rate of exchange between its currency and the American
dollar to gain unfair advantage in international trade. That the next due
date for such a report -- a preamble to possible sanctions -- was April 15th
was repeated by U.S. officials ad nauseam.

In mid-April, Obama was convening an international summit on nuclear
security in Washington. He was eager to have as many heads of state as
possible attend. At the very least, he wanted the leaders of the four
nuclear powers with U.N. Security Council vetoes -- Britain, France, Russia,
and China -- present.

That provided Chinese President Hu Jintao with a powerful card to play at
a moment when a White House threat to name his country as a currency
manipulator hung over his head. He refused to attend the Washington nuclear
summit. Obama blinked. He postponed the Treasury Department's judgment day.
In return, Hu came and met Obama at the White House.

That tensions existed between Beijing and Washington did not surprise
China's leaders, a collective of hard-nosed realists. Their attitude was
reflected in an editorial in the official newspaper, the China Daily, soon
after Obama's inauguration. "U.S. leaders have never been shy about talking
about their country's ambition," it said. "For them, it is divinely granted
destiny no matter what other nations think." The editorial went on to
predict that "Obama's defense of U.S. interests will inevitably clash with
those of other nations." And so they have, repeatedly.

Such realism contrasted starkly with the mood prevalent at the White House
where it was naively believed that a few well scripted speeches in foreign
capitals by the eloquent new president would restore U.S. prestige left in
tatters by George W. Bush's policies. What the president and his coterie
seem not to have noticed, however, was an important Pew Research Center
poll. It showed that, following Obama's public diplomacy campaign, while the
image of the U.S. had indeed risen sharply in Europe, Mexico, and Brazil,
any improvement was minor in India and China, marginal in the Arab Middle
East, and nonexistent in Russia, Pakistan, and Turkey.

Stuck in its self-congratulatory mode, the Obama team paid scant attention
to the full range of options that other powers had for retaliating to its
pressure. For instance, it did not foresee Beijing threatening sanctions
against major American companies supplying weapons to Taiwan, nor did it
anticipate the stiff resistance the PRC would offer to revaluing the yuan.

Some attributed Beijing's behavior to a rising Chinese nationalism and the
fears of its leaders that bending under pressure from "foreigners" would
play poorly at home. But the real reasons for Chinese resistance had more to
do with hard economics than popular sentiment. In the wake of the Great
Recession of 2008-09, symbolized by the collapse of the gigantic Lehman
Brothers investment bank, China's leaders noted tectonic changes occurring
in the international economic balance of power -- at the expense of the
hitherto "sole superpower."

While the U.S. and European economies contracted, Beijing quickly adopted
policies aimed at boosting domestic demand and infrastructure investment.
This resulted in impressive expansion: 9% growth in the gross domestic
product in 2009 with a prediction of 12% in the current year. This led
Goldman Sachs' analysts to advance their forecast of the year when China
would become the globe's number one economy from 2050 to 2027.

For the first time since World War II, it was not the United States that
pulled the rest of the world out of negative growth, but China. The U.S. has
emerged from the financial carnage as the most heavily indebted nation on
Earth, and China as its leading creditor with an unprecedented $2.4 trillion
in foreign reserves.

Its cash-rich corporations are now buying companies and future natural
resources from Australia to Peru, Canada to Afghanistan where, last year,
the Congjiang Copper Group, a Chinese corporation, offered $3.4 billion --
$1 billion more than the highest bid by a Western metallurgy company -- to
secure the right to mine copper from one of the richest deposits on the

Karzai the Menace Becomes Karzai the Indispensable

On assuming the presidency, Obama made no secret of his dislike for his
Afghan counterpart, Hamid Karzai. To circumvent his central government's
pervasive corruption, senior American officials came up with the idea of
dealing directly with Afghan provincial and district governors. In the
presidential election of August 2009, their preference for Abdullah
Abdullah, a serious rival to Karzai, was widely known.

When Karzai resorted to massive vote rigging to ensure his reelection and
turned a deaf ear to Washington's exhortations to clean up his
administration, Obama decided to use a stick to bring Washington's latest
client regime in line. In a dramatic gesture, he undertook an air journey of
26 hours -- from Washington to Kabul -- over the last weekend in March to
deliver a 26-minute lecture to Karzai on the corruption and administrative
ineptitude of his government. The Afghan leader had few options but to
listen in stony silence.

When, however, Karzai read a news story in which an unnamed senior
American military official suggested that his younger half-brother, Ahmed
Wali, the power broker in the southern province of Kandahar, deserved to be
put on the Pentagon's current list of drug barons to be killed or captured,
his patience snapped.

An incensed Afghan president responded by claiming that the U.S. was
deliberately intensifying and widening the war in Afghanistan in order to
stay in the region and dominate it. He added that, if Washington's pressure
continued, he might join the Taliban. (He had, in fact, been a significant
fundraiser for the Taliban after they captured Kabul in September 1996.)

Obama reacted as he had done in the past. When facing a serious challenge,
he retreated. From being a stick wielder he morphed into a carrier of
carrots during a Karzai visit to Washington early this month (that, in
March, administration officials were threatening to postpone indefinitely).

The high point of the wooing of Karzai -- worthy of being included in a
modern version of Alice in Wonderland -- was a dinner Vice-President Joe
Biden gave for the Afghan dignitary at his residence. At the very least
Karzai must have been bemused. In February, Biden had staged a dramatic
walk-out halfway through a dinner at the Afghan president's palace after
Karzai denied that his government was corrupt or that, if it was, he was at

Despite the Obama administration's "red carpet treatment" and "charm
offensive," Karzai was boldly honest at a joint press conference with Obama
when he described Iran as "our bother country, our friend."

The same sentiments would soon be expressed by another leader -- in

President da Silva Thumbs His Nose at Obama

Ever since assuming the presidency of Brazil in 2003, Luiz Inacio Lula da
Silva has, when necessary, not hesitated to challenge U.S. policy moves. He
has clashed with Washington on world trade (the Doha round), global warming,
and continuing U.S. sanctions against Cuba.

In December 2008, he chaired a meeting of 31 Latin American and Caribbean
countries, which excluded the United States, at the Brazilian tourist resort
of Sauipe. The next month, instead of going to the World Economic Forum at
Davos, Switzerland, da Silva attended the Eighth World Social Forum at Belem
at the mouth of the Amazon River.

He was critical of the way Obama compromised democracy in Honduras, and,
despite the Obama administration's dismay and opposition, he invited Iranian
president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to Brasilia in November 2009 for talks on the
Iranian nuclear program, his first attempt at high-profile international
diplomacy. (A week earlier he had warmly received Israeli president Shimon
Peres in the Brazilian capital.) Six months later, he paid a return visit
to Tehran -- and made history, much to the chagrin of Washington.

Acting in tandem with Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, da
Silva revived a putative October 2009 nuclear agreement and brokered an
unexpected deal with Ahmadinejad. Iran agreed to ship 1,200 kilograms of
its low-enriched uranium to Turkey; in return, Russia and France would
provide 120 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium for a medical research reactor
in Tehran.

Taken by surprise and rattled by the success of Brazil and Turkey in the
face of American disapproval, the Obama administration reverted to the
stance of the Bush White House and demanded that Iran suspend its program to
enrich nuclear fuel. It then moved to push an agreement on further U.N.
sanctions against Iran, as if the Brazilians and Turks had accomplished

This refusal to register reality was myopic at best. The blinkered view of
the present White House ignores salient global facts. The influence of
mid-level powers on the world stage is on the rise. Their leaders feel --
rightly -- that they can ignore or bypass the Obama administration's
demands. And, on the positive side, they can come together on certain
international issues and take diplomatic initiatives of their own with a
fair chance of success.

By now, from Afghanistan to Honduras, Brazil to China, global leaders
large and small increasingly sense that the Obama administration's bark is
worse than its bite, and though the U.S. remains a major power, it is no
longer the determinative one. The waning of the truncated American Century
is by now irreversible.

Dilip Hiro is the author of 32 books, the latest being After Empire: The
Birth of A Multipolar World (Nation Books).

Copyright 2010 Dilip Hiro

Friday, May 28, 2010

Michael T. Klare: The Oil Catastrophe

The Oil Catastrophe

By Michael T. Klare
The May 27, 2010 - in the June 14th edition of The Nation

It's hard to grasp the magnitude of the ecological catastrophe unfolding in
the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill. At
this point no one is certain how much oil is pouring from the well into the
surrounding ocean. BP, adopting an early government estimate, has claimed
that it amounts to a mere 5,000 barrels a day, but some scientists say the
amount is closer to 60,000 or 70,000 barrels. Taking the lesser of these
estimates, that would translate into the equivalent of an Exxon Valdez spill
every four days. Given that this has been going on for five weeks at the
time of this writing, the gulf has by now absorbed nine such spill
equivalents, with more to come. But picturing the 1989 Exxon Valdez
spill-until now the largest in US waters-and multiplying by nine does not
begin to convey the scale of the disaster. For the first time in history,
oil is pouring into the deep currents of a semi-enclosed sea, poisoning the
water and depriving it of oxygen so that entire classes of marine species
are at risk of annihilation. It is as if an underwater neutron bomb has
struck the Gulf of Mexico, causing little apparent damage on the surface but
destroying the living creatures below.

Who bears responsibility for this unmitigated catastrophe? What should be
done in response?

Beginning with the first question, it is evident that a host of actors bear
responsibility, from the drilling managers aboard the Deepwater Horizon rig
to the BP officials who oversaw their work to the government regulators who
awarded the corporations blanket waivers to ignore required environmental
assessments. But, as in all matters that derive from broad strokes of
policy, this disaster bears the imprint of the ultimate deciders: presidents
George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

What can be determined from the information available is that the April 20
explosion occurred because BP managers were in a hurry to seal off the well
so they could move the rig (which BP leased from Transocean for $500,000 per
day) to another drilling location. To speed up the move, BP's managers
evidently approved the risky exit procedure that led to the lethal
explosion. At one level, then, responsibility can be laid at the feet of the
managers involved in that decision as well as of Cameron International, the
manufacturer of the rig's blowout preventer, which appears to have been
defective. These managers operated in a corporate culture that favored
productivity and profit over safety and environmental protection.

BP, which has boasted of its success in boosting oil production in the gulf,
has a sordid history when it comes to safety. Last October it was fined $87
million by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to
correct safety problems discovered after a 2005 explosion that killed
fifteen workers at BP's Texas City refinery-the largest such fine ever
levied by OSHA. Like other firms operating in the gulf, BP has also sought a
blanket exemption from requirements that it conduct an environmental impact
assessment for each new offshore well it drills.

But corporate officials and their parent companies did not operate in a
political vacuum. BP and its subcontractors were able to drill in this
location, some forty miles off the Louisiana shore, because the government,
first under Bush and then under Obama, has been keen to increase production
in the deep waters of the Gulf of Mexico. Ever since it became clear, in the
1990s, that oil output at Prudhoe Bay in northern Alaska was in irreversible
decline and that no other onshore location in the continental United States
could provide increased levels of petroleum, the government has sought to
boost output from the deepwater gulf to moderate the nation's growing
dependence on imported energy. To that end, the Bush administration proposed
to open up new areas for drilling, including the Arctic National Wildlife
Refuge (ANWR) and the Outer Continental Shelf, and to facilitate the efforts
of giant energy firms to exploit these resources.

Bush was never able to persuade Congress to approve drilling in ANWR. But he
did succeed in expanding drilling in other areas, including the deepwater
gulf. Bush's principal instrument in these endeavors was the Minerals
Management Service (MMS), the branch of the Interior Department responsible
for providing leases for offshore drilling as well as collecting the fees
and royalties the companies paid for operating in federal waters.

Intended largely to promote offshore drilling, the MMS was also responsible
for ensuring that all such operations complied with the National
Environmental Policy Act, the Endangered Species Act and other environmental
laws. Full adherence to these laws could have slowed the expansion of
drilling or blocked it altogether-but the MMS provided the leases without
making the companies, including BP, obtain required environmental permits.
MMS officials routinely ignored warnings from the agency's own scientists
and from those at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration that
this sort of deepwater drilling posed a risk of massive oil spills with
devastating consequences for protected marine species. Such preferential
treatment for industry is hardly surprising, given the cozy-in some cases
criminal-relationships that developed between senior MMS officials and their
corporate counterparts.

Enter the Obama administration. Obama has been deeply critical of his
predecessor's environmental policies and has promised to place fresh
emphasis on developing alternative fuels-but he has shown little inclination
to reverse the nation's growing reliance on offshore oil. As it did under
Bush, the MMS has continued to award leases for offshore drilling in the
gulf without requiring environmental scrutiny. In October the agency gave
Shell Oil preliminary approval to drill in the Beaufort Sea, off Alaska's
northern coast, despite warnings from scientists within and outside the
agency that any spill in these far northern waters would have catastrophic
environmental repercussions. Then on March 30-three weeks before the
Deepwater Horizon disaster-Obama announced he would permit offshore drilling
in additional areas of the gulf as well as in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas
above Alaska and off the East Coast. Although Obama supposedly took this
step in part to win support from Senate Republicans for the proposed
climate-protection bill, it also reflects his belief, inherited from Bush,
that the United States must produce more domestic oil to reduce its reliance
on imports.

Since the gulf explosion, the administration has taken several halfhearted
steps to slow the drive for increased deepwater drilling. It placed a
moratorium on awarding new offshore leases, although the MMS reportedly has
continued to give these away. It has also announced plans to break up the
MMS into several independent agencies-with separate bodies responsible for
awarding leases, collecting revenues and providing environmental
oversight-in order to prevent a future conflict of interest. All these
bodies, however, will remain within the Interior Department, and it is
unclear if the White House really has the will to curb risky offshore

What can we learn from all this? It should be obvious that merely tightening
safety and environmental procedures on offshore rigs will not be enough to
prevent further environmental ruin. As long as the major energy firms
continue to rest future profits on wells in ever-deeper waters-and
government regulators collude with them in this-more catastrophes are
inevitable. Clearly, it's policy that has to change, not its implementation.

To prevent more ecological disasters, President Obama has to acknowledge the
fallacy of his offshore-drilling plan and place a moratorium on all drilling
in the Arctic, the Atlantic and new areas of the Gulf of Mexico while the
government and industry determine whether it will ever be safe to operate in
these waters. As BP's inept response to the crisis shows, the giant firms
lack the capacity to control leaks in deep offshore waters, and so any
approval of new wells in the gulf must be contingent on developing safety
and cleanup technologies equal to the task. In the meantime, every effort
must be made to speed the introduction of alternative fuels that pose fewer
threats to the natural environment.

Michael T. Klare

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Cook: Israel's Nukes Out of the Shadows

Israel's Nukes Out of the Shadows

Nuclear Offer to Apartheid Regime Blows Diplomatic Cover

Counterpunch: May 26, 2010


Israel faces unprecedented pressure to abandon its official policy of
"ambiguity" on its possession of nuclear weapons as the international
community meets at the United Nations in New York this week to consider
banning such arsenals from the Middle East.

Israel's equivocal stance on its atomic status was shattered by reports on
Monday that it offered to sell nuclear-armed Jericho missiles to South
Africa's apartheid regime back in 1975.

The revelations are deeply embarrassing to Israel given its long-standing
opposition to signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, arguing instead
that it is a "responsible power" that would never misuse nuclear weapons
technologies if it acquired them.

Reports of Israel's nuclear dealings with apartheid South Africa will also
energise a draft proposal from Egypt to the UN non-proliferation review
conference that Israel -- as the only nuclear power in the region -- be
required to sign the treaty.

Israeli officials are already said to be discomfited by Washington's
decision earlier this month to agree a statement with other UN Security
Council members calling for the establishment of a Middle East zone free of
nuclear arms.

The policy is chiefly aimed at Iran, which is believed by the US and Israel
to be secretly developing a nuclear bomb, but would also risk ensnaring
Israel. The US has supported Israel's ambiguity policy since the late 1960s.

Oversight of Israel's programme is also due to be debated at a meeting of
the UN's nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, in Vienna
next month.

The administration of US President Barack Obama is reported to have held
high-level discussions with Israel at the weekend to persuade it to consent
to proposals for a 2012 conference to outlaw weapons of mass destruction in
the Middle East.

As pressure mounts on Israel, local analysts have been debating the benefits
of maintaining the ambiguity policy, with most warning that an erosion of
the principle would lead inexorably to Israel being forced to dismantle its

Echoing the Israeli security consensus, Yossi Melman, a military
intelligence correspondent for the Haaretz newspaper, also cautioned that
declaring Israel's nuclear status "would play into Iran's hands" by focusing
attention on Tel Aviv rather than Tehran.

Israel refused to sign the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, having
developed its first warhead a few years earlier with help from Britain and

Tom Segev, an Israeli historian, reported that Israel briefly considered
showing its nuclear hand in 1967 when Shimon Peres, Israel's current
president, proposed publicly conducting a nuclear test to prevent the
impending Six-Day War. However, the test was overruled by Levi Eshkol, the
prime minister of the time.

Mr Peres, who master-minded the nuclear programme, later formulated the
policy of ambiguity, in which Israel asserts only that it will "not be the
first to introduce nuclear weapons to the Middle East".

That stance -- and a promise not to conduct nuclear tests -- was accepted by
the US administration of Richard Nixon in 1969.

According to analysts, the agreement between Israel and the US was driven in
part by concerns that Washington would not be able to give Israel foreign
aid -- today worth billions of dollars -- if Israel declared itself a
nuclear state but refused international supervision.

Nonetheless, revelations over the years have made it increasingly difficult
for the international community to turn a blind eye to Israel's arsenal.

Mordechai Vanunu, a technician at the Dimona nuclear energy plant in the
Negev, provided photographic evidence and detailed descriptions of the
country's weapons programme in 1986. Today the Israeli arsenal is estimated
at more than 200 warheads.

In 2006 Ehud Olmert, then the prime minister, let slip Israel's nuclear
status during an interview with German TV when he listed "America, France,
Israel and Russia" as countries with nuclear arms.

Even more damaging confirmation was provided this week by Britain's Guardian
newspaper, which published documents unearthed for a new book -- The
Unspoken Alliance by Sasha Polakow-Suransky, an American historian -- on
relations between Israel and South Africa's apartheid regime.

The top-secret papers reveal that in 1975 Mr Peres, then Israel's defence
minister, met with his South African counterpart, P W Botha, to discuss
selling the regime nuclear-armed missiles. The deal fell through partly
because South Africa could not afford the weapons. Pretoria later developed
its own bomb, almost certainly with Israel's help.

Israel, Mr Polakow-Suransky said, had fought to prevent declassification of
the documents.

Despite publication by the Guardian of a photographed agreement bearing the
date and the signatures of both Mr Peres and Mr Botha, Mr Peres' office
issued a statement on Monday denying the report.

Israel's increasingly transparent nuclear status is seen as an obstacle to
US efforts both to impose sanctions on Iran and to damp down a wider
potential nuclear arms race in the Middle East.

This month the US surprised officials in Tel Aviv by failing to keep
nuclear programme off the agenda of the IAEA's next meeting, on June 7. The
issue has only ever been discussed twice before, in 1988 and 1991.

Aware of the growing pressure of Israel to come clean, Benjamin Netanyahu,
the Israeli prime minister, declined an invitation to attend a nuclear
security conference in Washington last month at which participants had
threatened to question Israel about its arms.

At the meeting, US President Barack Obama called on all countries, including
Israel, to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

A draft declaration being considered at the UN review conference later this
week again demands that Israel -- and two other states known to have nuclear
weapons, India and Pakistan -- sign the treaty.

Egypt has proposed that the 189 states that have signed the treaty,
including the US, pledge not to transfer nuclear equipment, information,
material or professional help to Israel until it does so.

Reuven Pedatzur, an Israeli defence analyst, warned recently in Haaretz that
there was a danger the Egyptian proposal might be adopted by the US, or that
it might be used as a stick to browbeat a recalcitrant Israel into accepting
greater limitations on its arsenal. He suggested ending what he called the
"ridiculous fiction" of the ambiguity policy.

Emily Landau, an arms control expert at Tel Aviv University, however, said
that those who believed Israel should be more transparent were "misguided".
Ending ambiguity, she said, would eventually lead to calls for Israel's
"total and complete disarmament".

The last Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, five years ago, failed
when the US repudiated pledges to disarm and refused to pressure Israel over
its nuclear programme.

Jonathan Cook is a writer and journalist based in Nazareth, Israel. His
latest books are "Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the
Plan to Remake the Middle East" (Pluto Press) and "Disappearing Palestine:
Israel's Experiments in Human Despair" (Zed Books). His website is

US Moved the Goalposts - Supported Iran Fuel Swap

America Moves the Goalposts

NY Times: May 25, 2010


John Limbert, once a U.S. hostage in Tehran, now charged with Iranian
affairs at the State Department, has given a good description of the
caricatures that bedevil American-Iranian non-relations.

Americans see Iranians as "devious, mendacious, fanatical, violent and
incomprehensible." Iranians, in turn, see Americans as "belligerent,
sanctimonious, Godless and immoral, materialistic, calculating," not to
mention bullying and exploitive.

That's Ground Zero in the most traumatized relationship on earth and the
most tantalizing. Tantalizing because Iran and the United States are
unnatural enemies with plenty they might agree on if they ever broke the
ice. Limbert, a bridge-builder, has spent half a lifetime trying to deliver
that message. It never flies. Poisonous history gets in the way. So do those
that profit from poison.

If all the mistrust needed further illustration, it has just been provided
by the Brazilian-Turkish deal on Iran's low enriched uranium (LEU), the
peevish U.S. reaction to it, and the apparent determination of the Great
Powers, led by the Obama administration, to burrow deeper into failure.

I believed Obama was ready to think anew on Iran. It seems not. Presidents
must lead on major foreign policy initiatives, not be bullied by domestic
political considerations, in this case incandescent Iran ire on the Hill in
an election year.

More on that later, but first let's take a cold look at the Brazilian and
Turkish leaders' achievement in Tehran, how it relates to an earlier
American near-deal, and what all this says about a world undergoing
significant power shifts.

I'll take the last point first. Brazil and Turkey represent the emergent
post-Western world. It will continue to emerge; Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton should therefore be less trigger-happy in killing with faint praise
the "sincere efforts" of Brasilia and Ankara.

The West's ability to impose solutions to global issues like Iran's nuclear
program has unraveled. America, engaged in two inconclusive wars in Muslim
countries, cannot afford a third. The first decade of the 21st century has
delineated the limits of U.S. power: It is great but no longer

Lots of Americans, including the Tea Party diehards busy baying at wolves,
are angry about this. They will learn that facts are facts.

Speaking of facts, I must get a little technical here. Iran has been
producing, under International Atomic Energy Agency inspection, LEU
(enriched to about 5 percent). It is this LEU that would have to be turned
into bomb-grade uranium (over 90 percent) if Iran were to produce a nuclear
weapon. The idea behind the American deal in Geneva last October was to get
a big chunk of LEU out of Iran to build confidence, create some negotiating
space, and remove material that could get subverted. In exchange, Iran would
later get fuel rods for a medical research reactor in Tehran.

Iran, doing the bazaar routine, said yes, maybe and no, infuriating Obama.
Iran now wanted the LEU stored on Iranian soil under I.A.E.A. control,
phased movement of the LEU to this location, and a simultaneous fuel rod
exchange. Forget it, Obama said.

Well, Turkey and Brazil have now restored the core elements of the October
deal: a single shipment of the 1,200 kilograms of LEU to a location (Turkey)
outside Iran and a one-year gap - essential for broader negotiations to
begin - between this Iranian deposit in escrow and the import of the fuel

And what's the U.S. response? To pursue "strong sanctions" (if no longer
"crippling") against Iran at the United Nations; and insist now on a prior
suspension of enrichment that was not in the October deal (indeed this was a
core Obama departure from Bush doctrine).

Obama could instead have said: "Pressure works! Iran blinked on the eve of
new U.N. sanctions. It's come back to our offer. We need to be prudent,
given past Iranian duplicity, but this is progress. Isolation serves Iranian

No wonder Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, is angry. I believe
him when he says Obama and U.S. officials encouraged Turkey earlier this
year to revive the deal: "What they wanted us to do was give the confidence
to Iran to do the swap. We have done our duty."

Yes, Turkey has. I know, the 1,200 kilograms now represents a smaller
proportion of Iran's LEU than in October and it's no longer clear that the
fuel rods will come from the conversion of the LEU in escrow. But that's
small potatoes when you're trying to build a tenuous bridge between
"mendacious" Iranians and "bullying" Americans in the interests of global

The French and Chinese reactions - cautious support - made sense. The
American made none, or did only in the light of the strong Congressional
push for "crushing" sanctions. Further sanctions will not change Iran's
nuclear behavior; negotiations might. I can only hope the U.S. bristling was
an opening gambit.

Last year, at the United Nations, Obama called for a new era of shared
responsibilities. "Together we must build new coalitions that bridge old
divides," he declared. Turkey and Brazil responded - and got snubbed. Obama
has just made his own enlightened words look empty.

Copyright 2010 The New York Times Company

- - -

US Media Censors US Support of Iran Fuel Swap

by Robert Naiman
Robert Naiman is Policy Director at Just Foreign Policy

Published on Tuesday, May 25, 2010 by

Sao Paulo - If you get your information from major U.S. media, and you
follow U.S. foreign policy, then you know that last week Iran, Brazil, and
Turkey signed an agreement for Iran to ship about half of its stockpile of
low-enriched uranium to Turkey, in exchange for subsequent Western supply of
higher-enriched uranium to fuel Iran's medical research reactor - fuel Iran
needs in order to treat Iranian medical patients, fuel to which Iran is
entitled as a signatory of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

If you were paying close attention, you might know that the deal is quite
similar to one proposed a few months ago by the United States. An initial AP
story on the Washington Post's website last Monday - which I cited at the
time - said the agreement was "nearly identical" to the deal the U.S. was
pressing for, although by the end of the day the AP article on the Post's
website had been revised to downgrade this comparison to "mirrors." [The
original AP story is still visible here.] U.S. officials have dismissed the
deal brokered by Brazil and Turkey, even though the deal is "nearly
identical" to the one proposed by the U.S. Indeed, according to the
Washington Post, U.S. officials are "thoroughly irritated" with Turkey for
its role in mediating the agreement.

But if you get your information from major U.S. media, here's something that
you almost certainly don't know: Brazil and Turkey say that before they
reached the deal, they understood that they had the backing of the Obama
Administration for their efforts. The available evidence suggests that
Brazil and Turkey had good reason to believe that they had U.S. support, and
that the Obama Administration has taken a 180 degree turn in its position in
the last few weeks, and is now trying to cover its tracks, with the active
collaboration of major U.S. media.

Reuters reports from Brasilia - in an article you won't find on the web
sites of the New York Times or the Washington Post:

Brazil argues Washington and other Western powers had prodded Brazil to
try to revive the U.N. fuel swap deal proposed last October. "We were
encouraged directly or indirectly ... to implement the October proposal
without any leeway and that's what we did," said Amorim.

In a letter to Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva two weeks
ago, U.S. president Barack Obama said an Iranian uranium shipment abroad
would generate confidence.

"From our point of view, a decision by Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of
low-enriched uranium abroad, would generate confidence and reduce regional
tensions by cutting Iran's stockpile," Obama said, according to excerpts
from the letter translated into Portuguese and seen by Reuters.

I haven't seen any reference to this letter from President Obama to
President Lula in the U.S. press - have you? But in Brazil, this letter from
Obama to Lula was front-page news on Saturday morning - I saw it on the
front-page of O Estado de S. Paulo, above the fold.

Note that the Reuters story, dated May 22, says Obama sent this letter two
weeks ago. The deal was announced Monday, May 17. So, about a week before
the deal was announced, Obama told Lula that from the U.S. point of view a
decision by Iran to send 1,200 kilograms of low-enriched uranium abroad
would generate confidence and reduce regional tensions. Note furthermore
that Obama's words - according to Reuters, this is a direct quote from
Obama's letter - actually specify an exact amount of transfer that would
"generate confidence": 1,200 kilograms, exactly what was agreed a week
later. So the U.S. officials and media stenographers (like Glenn Kessler in
the Washington Post - "Iran creates illusion of progress in nuclear
negotiations") saying a 1,200 kilogram transfer would have been great in
October but would be worthless now are directly contradicting what President
Obama himself wrote to President Lula one week before the deal was
announced. But if course you wouldn't know about that direct contradiction
from the U.S. media, because in the U.S. media, the letter from Obama to
Lula apparently doesn't exist.

Morever, Brazil says that before the deal, no-one raised the issue of Iran's
20% enrichment as an obstacle:

"It wasn't on the agenda. Nobody told us, 'Hey if you don't stop 20
percent enrichment, forget the deal'," said [Brazilian Foreign Minister
Celso] Amorim.

So, if Brazil is telling the truth - and there is no evidence that they are
not - then this means that President Obama's letter to Lula did not raise
the 20% objection, and the excerpt provided by Reuters suggests that it

So far, I've seen one clear reference in U.S. media to claims by Brazil and
Turkey that they had the Obama Administration's backing in pursuing
negotiations: not in a news article, but in an International Herald Tribune
column by Roger Cohen reprinted by the New York Times, "America Moves the

Cohen wrote:

No wonder Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, is angry. I
believe him when he says Obama and U.S. officials encouraged Turkey earlier
this year to revive the deal: "What they wanted us to do was give the
confidence to Iran to do the swap. We have done our duty."
Cohen's explanation for the Obama Administration's stunning flip-flop?
Domestic politics:

I believed Obama was ready to think anew on Iran. It seems not. Presidents
must lead on major foreign policy initiatives, not be bullied by domestic
political considerations, in this case incandescent Iran ire on the Hill in
an election year.

Last year, the Administration concluded that Iran wasn't ready to negotiate
with the U.S. because of Iranian domestic politics. Now, it seems, the
United States isn't ready to deal because the Obama Administration is afraid
of Congress.

It's a shame we don't have a leader in the White House right now who is
ready to lead on this issue. If only we had elected this guy:

see video:

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Drilling Disasters Can't Happen Here

----- Original Message -----
From: FAIR
Sent: Tuesday, May 25, 2010 11:58 AM
Subject: Drilling Disasters Can't Happen Here


Media Advisory

Drilling Disasters Can't Happen Here
In run-up to BP spill, media touted offshore safety


As the United States examines the origins of the environmental catastrophe in the Gulf of Mexico, one factor that should not be overlooked is media coverage that served to cover up dangers rather than expose them. When President Barack Obama declared a new push for offshore drilling (3/31/10), asserting that "oil rigs today generally don't cause spills" (4/2/10), corporate news outlets echoed such pollyanna sentiments:

You know, there are a lot of serious people looking at, "Are there ways that we can do drilling and we can do nuclear that are--that are nowhere near as risky as what they were 10 or 15 or 20 years ago?" Offshore drilling today is a lot more safer, in many ways, environmentally, today than it was 20 years ago.
--David Gergen, CNN's Situation Room (3/31/10)

Some Americans have an opinion of offshore drilling that was first formed decades ago with those pictures of oil on the beaches in Santa Barbara, California. Others see it differently. They say time and technology have changed things. They say in order to lessen our dependence on foreign oil and keep gas prices low, we've got to bring more of it out of the ground and from under the sea.
--Brian Williams, NBC Nightly News (3/31/10)

The technology of oil drilling has made huge advances.... The time has come for my fellow environmentalists to reassess their stand on offshore oil. It is not clear that the risks of offshore oil drilling still outweigh the benefits. The risk of oil spills in the United States is quite low.
--Eric Smith, Washington Post op-ed (4/2/10)

Some of the most ironic objections come from those who say offshore exploration will destroy beaches and coastlines, citing the devastating 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill in Alaska as an example. The last serious spill from a drilling accident in U.S. waters was in 1969, off Santa Barbara, California.
--USA Today editorial (4/2/10)

Since the big spill off the coast of California about three decades ago, the big oil companies have really put a lot of time, money and resources into making sure that their drilling is a lot more safe and environmentally sound.
--Monica Crowley, Fox Business Happy Hour (3/31/10)

Drilling could be conducted in an environmentally sensitive manner. We already drill in an environmentally sensitive manner.
--Sean Hannity, Fox News' Hannity (4/1/10)

And even in terms of the environment, we're going to consume oil one way or the other. It's safer for the planet if it's done under our strict controls and high technology in America as opposed to Nigeria.... We've got a ton of drilling happening every day today in the Gulf of Mexico in a hurricane area and it's successful.
--Charles Krauthammer, WJLA's Inside Washington (4/4/10)

We had a hurricane on the Gulf Coast and there was no oil spill. If Katrina didn't cause an oil spill with all those oil wells in the Gulf....
--Dick Morris, Fox News' O'Reilly Factor (3/31/10)

The two main reasons oil and other fossil fuels became environmentally incorrect in the 1970s--air pollution and risk of oil spills--are largely obsolete. Improvements in drilling technology have greatly reduced the risk of the kind of offshore spill that occurred off Santa Barbara in 1969.... To fear oil spills from offshore rigs today is analogous to fearing air travel now because of prop plane crashes.
--Steven F. Hayward, Weekly Standard (4/26/10)

And these messages didn't entirely disappear after the Gulf of Mexico disaster unfolded. In its May 10 issue, Time magazine had a small box headlined, "Offshore-Drilling Disasters: Rare But Deadly," which listed a mere four incidents--the most recent in 1988. But it doesn't take too much research to turn up a slew of other incidents that raise concerns: the Unocal-owned Seacrest drillship that capsized in 1989, killing 91 people; Phillips Petroleum's Alexander Kielland rig that collapsed in 1980, killing 123, and more. The list managed to overlook at least three well disasters in the Gulf of Mexico that resulted in oil spills--two incidents off the Louisiana coast in 1999, and the Usumacinta spill in Mexican waters in 2007.

A previous story (4/24/10) had noted that the Minerals Management Service, which oversees offshore drilling, reported 39 fires or explosions in the first five months of 2009 alone; though the magazine said the "good news" is that "most of these" did not result in death. The website Oil Rig Disasters tallies 184 incidents, dozens of which involved fatalities--and 73 of which occurred after 1988.

Clearly there are different ways to measure such things, but it's hard not to feel that Time's point was to suggest that drilling disasters are really too rare to worry about.

Since the BP/Deepwater disaster, many news outlets have run investigative pieces detailing the long history of negligent oversight of the offshore drilling industry. But when the New York Times tells readers (5/25/10) about the "enduring laxity of federal regulation of offshore operations," one can't help but wonder why this apparently well-known problem got so little attention before the environmental catastrophe.

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Jackie G: Unsolicited Ballot Recommendations

From: jackie goldberg
Sent: Friday, May 14, 2010 4:07 PM
Subject: Unsolicited Ballot Recommendations

Hi, Here are my unsolicited recommendations for the June 8th ballot. As
always, if you disagree, please write and tell me so. And if you do NOT
wish to receive these, just send me a note by return email, and you shall
see them no more.

I did NOT recommend in all races here in California as I did not know enough
about the candidates or more likely, there was only one likely outcome, and
I though it unnecessary to note my support.

This is NOT an election to take likely. I urge you to vote, send money, and
be active wherever you can. The right is growing, and right-wing populism
is threatening this nation. Only active responses can make a difference.

Be well, Jackie

May 2010

Dear Friends,

June 8th is an important date in California and in the nation. It is on
this date, we voters decide on some ballot issues, and on the candidates
that will face each other in November. So, many people have asked me to
talk about this forthcoming Primary Election. In this little letter, I will
talk about the "Good, the All Right, and the Ugly" ballot Propositions. I
will also talk about some California political races in the California
Democratic Party Primary. I am still working on the Judges, and should have
some information for you on that score next week. Here goes!

The Good


This is probably the best Proposition on the ballot. Called the "California
Fair Elections Act," it would repeal the current ban on public funding of
campaigns here in our State. It would also create a voluntary system for
candidates for Secretary of State to qualify for a public campaign grant if
they agree to limitations on spending and private contributions.

Candidates for this ONE office in 2014 and 2018 could choose to receive
public funds to pay the cost of campaigns if they solicit enough $5
contributions to qualify. The measure would raise about $6 million every
four years would come from a biennial fee on lobbyists, lobbying firms and
lobbying employers, and from voluntary contributions.

now, as Samuel Clemmons once said, we ."have the best government money can
buy." The ridiculous amount spent on campaigns means all are beholden to
the corporate major donors if they want to be elected.

I am voting "YES on Proposition 15" on this small but essential first step
toward reducing the power of the current corporate stranglehold on our
elections process. The measure is supported by the California Nurses
Association, the California Clean Money Action Fund, Common Cause, and a
host of other groups and individuals. At the moment there is very little
organized opposition to the measure. That could change.

The All Right

Proposition 13

This measure is called "Limits on Property Tax Assessment. Seismic
Retrofitting of Existing Buildings. Legislative Constitutional Amendment."
It was put on the ballot after a 2/3 vote in both the Senate and the
Assembly of California. That usually means one of two things: (1) pretty
much everyone agrees on the matter; or (2) the Republicans would not vote
for the budget until the legislature agreed to put this on the ballot. In
this case, there was agreement on the issue. So far, the measure has NO

It would allow owners of properties who have to make seismic upgrades for
earthquake safety to do so without triggering a reassessment on their
property taxes. This exclusion most likely would lead to a minor reduction
of local property tax revenues, but would only be in effect until the
property is sold.

I am voting "YES on Proposition 13" on this measure, because who knows when
and where the next earthquake will hit, and preventative building measures
should not increase one's
property taxes until the property is sold.

The Ugly

Propositions 14, 16 and 17 are all bought and paid for by Special Interest
Corporate money and their wealthy friends. Each is an abomination, and
deserves a resounding
"NO" vote, which is what I will do on June 8th.

Proposition 14

Brought to you by Governor Schwarzeneggar's "Dream Team" of corporate
contributors, it is funded by the Chamber of Commerce, Eli Broad, the CA
Hospitals Committee, the CA Association Health Underwriters, Blue Shield,
and Hewlett Packard (HP), This measure would create an "open primary" system
where any voter could vote in any political party during the primary
election, and would have the two highest vote-getters appear on the run-off
ballot. That means that no Republican would appear on the ballot in a heavy
Democratic district, and no Democrat might appear in a heavily Republican

But the biggest problem is that corporations would be able to focus right
wing voters to do mischief in key Democratic primaries. The goal of this
measure is to reduce or eliminate progressive candidates from making it to
the General Election ballot. Had
this measure been in effect when I ran, I believe my less progressive
opponents would have won in several of my elections. Some argue that this
measure could also mean that
Democrats could vote in Republican primary elections, and kick out the most
conservative of candidates. That may also be true. But probably the most
disgusting part of this measure is that candidates would no longer be
required to put a Party Designation on the ballot at all! That means, Meg
Whitman, currently running for Governor without ever mentioning that she is
a Republican, would never have to tell anyone she is a Republican!
Republicans running for and holding office know that at this moment, they
are very unpopular because of their past destructive years in power.

So they want to get Republican money, be backed by corporate funding, and
NEVER have to tell you who they really are. This is a rotten measure, and a
very cynical one.

And I am voting a decisive "NO on Proposition 14" to try to stop this
madness. You will hear that this will mean "more people will come out to
vote." There is no evidence of that. But the mischief caused by no party
affiliation is not easy to calculate. But it will only help the right-wing
who wants to look like "independents" but are really ideologically radical
right-wing members of the Republican Party. This is a dirty trick. Don't
be fooled.

Proposition 16

This measure has only one contributor: Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). So
far this one private energy company in northern California has spent $22,
914,022 trying to prevent a not-for-profit East Bay Municipal District
(EastBay MUD) from being able to place on local ballots the choice of
whether they want a non-profit or a for-profit provider of electricity. It
is that simple. Since some of these elections have already occurred, and
since PG&E fears it will lose these elections, they are trying to get the
rest of the State
to require a 2/3 vote on the ballot to change companies, or to start their
own electrical provider (like we in L.A. have DwP, the Dept. of Water and

Pitched as a "let the People vote," if this measure passes, it would mean
that Local governments would no longer be able to implement proposals
involving the start-up or expansion of electricity service either through
approval by a majority of voters or by actions of governing boards. PG&E
charges more for electricity that East Bay MUD, because they have to make a
profit and pay their stockholders. This is why DwP customers pay lower
costs for electricity than those who get power from Southern California

Don't be fooled by the many advertisements on TV, or the pretty full color
brochures coming to your homes. This is an Anti-democratic measure,
designed to keep PG&E the only choice people in northern California have. I
am voting a big "NO" on Proposition 16.

Proposition 17

So far, Mercury Auto Insurance Company has put in $5,250,000 into this
campaign, and they are the ONLY contributor to this measure. What Mercury
Insurance wants to be able to do is to encourage people to switch to Mercury
Auto Insurance by offering a lower price to people who have always had auto
insurance. But they also want to be able to charge higher premiums to
people who have had a "break" in insurance coverage to pay for the lower
premiums of their new customers.

Think of who will be paying the higher costs: people in the military who
discontinue auto insurance when they are deployed overseas; low income
people who discontinue
auto insurance when they stop driving a car because it was temporarily too
expensive to keep it up; people who move from one state to another for a
job, and then move back to California; and those laid off jobs, or had work
hours reduced, who also stop driving until they can find work again. You get
the idea. These people will get a SURCHARGE of as much as $1,000 even if
they are good drivers and have NO accidents, simply because they had a
"break" in coverage. And they will be paying this money so that those of us
with stable incomes and higher incomes can be enticed away from our current
insurance provider to go to Mercury Insurance. That makes me mad. And I am
voting another big "NO" on Proposition 17. The opposition is the Campaign
for Consumer Rights (

Proposition E (Los Angeles Unified School District Special Election)

This measure will raise money for the Los Angeles Unified School District.
Passing Prop. E will prevent teacher lay-offs, restore art and music
programs in the schools, and will keep on school police and nurses and other
safety employees. It will cost a property owner just $100 per year, or
about $8.34 a month, and yet it will help keep LAUSD class sizes smaller,
and keep arts programming in the schools. I will be voting a big "YES" on
Proposition E which is on the very LAST PAGE of your ballot!

In Summary on the ballot propositions: I will vote "YES" on Propositions 13
and 15, and, local LAUSD Proposition E; and
I will vote "NO" on Propositions 14, 16, and 17.

Candidates in the Democratic Primary

I have not endorsed in many races, but here is who I am supporting in
several key Democratic Primary Elections:

Attorney General -Kamala D. Harris (currently D.A. in San Francisco) is

Insurance Commissioner-Dave Jones

Superintendent of Public Instruction-Tom Torlakson

Lieutenant Governor-Janice Hahn

Some statewide races have only one candidate in the Democratic Primary; and
for Governor, I have no recommendation at this time.

Congressional District #24-Marie Panec

Congressional District #33-Karen Bass

Congressional District #36-Marcy Winograd

Congressional District #46-Ken Arnold

Congressional District #50-Francine Busby

CA State Assembly District #35-Susan Jordan

CA State Assembly District #47-Holly J. Mitchell

CA State Assembly District #50-Ricardo Lara

CA State Assembly District #57-Roger Hernandez

CA State Assembly District #79-Ben Hueso

CA State Senate District #2-Noreen Evans

CA State Senate District #40-Mary Salas

Candidate for Nonpartisan Local Campaign

Los Angeles County Assessor-John R. Noguez

If you want to know more about who is supporting them, and giving them
funding, go to the following website, where all is revealed: . I usually follow the money when making key decisions
on candidates and issues.

For California candidates, you can also look at: Here you will find out who is spending what
on which candidates and issues. You can also find out how to reach a
particular campaign if you want to send money, or volunteer to help in this
final critical month before the California Primary Election on June 8th,

Get involved! Vote like your life depended on it! Be well. As always,
warmest regards, Jackie


First, let me say that I goofed when I added Proposition E (funds for L.A.
Schools). Because I was hurrying to get this to all of you, I added it to
the end of the Propositions, which makes it look like it is in the heading
"UGLY." Nothing could be further from the truth. This small measure, if it
passes by a super-majority, will prevent many teacher lay-offs, keep class
sizes from growing, and much, much more. It should be under the heading of
Judges, I am voting as follows:

Office #35-Soussan BRUGUERA; Office #73-Laura A. MATZ;Office #131-Maren
NELSON. For Office #28-Mark AMELI; Office #107-Valeria Salkan; and finally
for Office #117-Alan SCHNEIDER.

Below, find some commentary on all of these. These are NOT easy to figure
out. So in addition to my choices, I am including other information which
may or may not cause you to vote differently than listed above. Not a
problem for me. I just want you to have as much information as I could

The three incumbents who are being challenged for no apparent reasons
deserve to be re-elected: Soussan BRUGUERA (Office #35), Laura A. MATZ
(Office, #73), and especially Maren NELSON (Office #131). If it makes a
difference to you, I don't know Judge Matz's political party affiliation,
but the other two are both endorsed by the Democratic Party.

Office #28: This is a crowded race with 8 candidates, 6 of whom are rated
"qualified" by the County Bar, 2 rated "not qualified," and none rated
"well qualified." Donna Groman has endorsed C. Edward Mack again. I believe
that he's a criminal defense attorney, he's run numerous times, and finally
made the run-off last time. Zeke Zeidler has endorsed Referee Randy
Hammock, a colleague, but Zeke has become more and more concerned about a
lack of self-awareness. The L.A. County Democratic Party and Stonewall have
endorsed Mark Ameli, who would be the first judge of Iranian descent in the
county; there's a possibility that he and a couple of other candidates
successfully appealed "not qualified" ratings up to "qualified," but I have
no way of knowing if there's any truth in that. All three of these
candidates are rated "qualified" by the L.A. County Bar.

Office #107: I've endorsed Valerie Salkin, as has the Stonewall Democratic
Club. Valerie was the student rep on the ABA Board, actively championing
LGBT issues (as a straight woman). Valerie is rated "qualified" by the
Bar, but both of the other candidates are rated "Well Qualified." Tony de
la Reyes has served on the Los Angeles City Police Commission, Civil
Service Commission, and Cultural Affairs Commission and some endorse him
as well.

Office #117: Alan Schneider is the only candidate rated "well qualified"
and he has been endorsed by Stonewall.