Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Herbert: We Owe the Troops an Exit, David Rovics at USC Thursday eve

Hi. I've been intrigued by David Rovics' songs for a couple of years, now.
Very talented, with fine music, good lyric sense and decently political; a
combo rare indeed. Never had the chance to see him, until now.
And it's free, or donate what you can. Join me. -Ed


We Owe the Troops an Exit

Bob Herbert
NY Times Op-Ed: August 31, 2010

At least 14 American soldiers have been killed in Afghanistan over the past
few days.

We learned on Saturday that our so-called partner in this forlorn war, Hamid
Karzai, fired a top prosecutor who had insisted on, gasp, fighting the
corruption that runs like a crippling disease through his country.

Time magazine tells us that stressed-out, depressed and despondent soldiers
are seeking help for their mental difficulties at a rate that is
overwhelming the capacity of available professionals. What we are doing to
these troops who have been serving tour after tour in Afghanistan and Iraq
is unconscionable.

Time described the mental-health issue as "the U.S. Army's third front,"
with the reporter, Mark Thompson, writing: "While its combat troops fight
two wars, its mental-health professionals are waging a battle to save
soldiers' sanity when they come back, one that will cost billions long after
combat ends in Baghdad and Kabul."

In addition to the terrible physical toll, the ultimate economic costs of
these two wars, as the Nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz and his colleague
Linda Bilmes have pointed out, will run to more than $3 trillion.

I get a headache when I hear supporters of this endless warfare complaining
about the federal budget deficits. They're like arsonists complaining about
the smell of smoke in the neighborhood.

There is no silver lining to this nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan. Poll
after poll has shown that it no longer has the support of most Americans.
And yet we fight on, feeding troops into the meat-grinder year after tragic
year - to what end?

"Clearly, the final chapters of this particular endeavor are very much yet
to be written," said Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of American and NATO
forces in Afghanistan, during a BBC interview over the weekend. He sounded
as if those chapters would not be written any time soon.

In a reference to President Obama's assertion that U.S. troops would begin
to withdraw from Afghanistan next July, General Petraeus told the
interviewer: "That's a date when a process begins, nothing more, nothing
less. It's not the date when the American forces begin an exodus and look
for the exit and the light to turn off on the way out of the room."

A lot of Americans who had listened to the president thought it was, in
fact, a date when the American forces would begin an exodus. The general
seems to have heard something quite different.

In truth, it's not at all clear how President Obama really feels about the
awesome responsibilities involved in waging war, and that's a problem. The
Times's Peter Baker wrote a compelling and in many ways troubling article
recently about the steep learning curve that Mr. Obama, with no previous
military background, has had to negotiate as a wartime commander in chief.

Quoting an unnamed adviser to the president, Mr. Baker wrote that Mr. Obama
sees the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq as "problems that need managing" while
he pursues his mission of transforming the nation. Defense Secretary Robert
Gates, speaking on the record, said, "He's got a very full plate of very big
issues, and I think he does not want to create the impression that he's so
preoccupied with these two wars that he's not addressing the domestic issues
that are uppermost in people's minds."

Wars are not problems that need managing, which suggests that they will
always be with us. They are catastrophes that need to be brought to an end
as quickly as possible. Wars consume lives by the thousands (in Iraq, by the
scores of thousands) and sometimes, as in World War II, by the millions. The
goal when fighting any war should be peace, not a permanent simmer of
nonstop maiming and killing. Wars are meant to be won - if they have to be
fought at all - not endlessly looked after.

One of the reasons we're in this state of nonstop warfare is the fact that
so few Americans have had any personal stake in the wars in Iraq and
Afghanistan. There is no draft and no direct financial hardship resulting
from the wars. So we keep shipping other people's children off to combat as
if they were some sort of commodity, like coal or wheat, with no real regard
for the terrible price so many have to pay, physically and psychologically.

Not only is this tragic, it is profoundly disrespectful. These are real men
and women, courageous and mostly uncomplaining human beings, that we are
sending into the war zones, and we owe them our most careful attention.
Above all, we owe them an end to two wars that have gone on much too long.


David Rovics USC Fundraiser Concert
With Spoken Word Artist Saria Idana

Thursday, September 2nd, 7:30 PM
Main Campus
817 W. 34th Street, Los Angeles 90089
(213) 748-0209

Concert is FREE & Open to the Public. Refreshments will be Served!

$5 DONATIONS are Encouraged, and All Proceeds will go to PALESTINE

DAVID ROVICS is a folk singer/songwriter and outspoken grassroots political
activist. His songs speak of the struggle for peace and justice in the
Middle East. Intricately crafted, raw, and original lyrics touch upon a wide
variety of subjects, including the Bush Administration's "War on Terror,"
labor laws, guerrilla warfare, global justice, and gender relations. His
2008 release of "The Commons," includes the song titles: "Who Would Jesus
Bomb?," "Halliburton Boardroom Massacre," "Falluja," and "Jenin," named
after a Palestinian city in the occupied West Bank. Amy Goodman has referred
to David Rovics as "the musical version of Democracy Now!" Cindy Sheehan has
called him "the peace poet and troubadour of our time"

SARIA IDANA is a talented, local interdisciplinary performing artist
dedicated to the arts as a space for social transformation. She holds a BA
in Arts and Social Change from Hampshire College and has recently produced
her own one-woman show "Homeless in Homeland." In Los Angeles she has
performed with Contra-Tiempo, Great Leap and is a current member of The
Moving Torah Company.
Concert begins THURSDAY, Sept. 2nd, at 7:30 PM at UNITED UNIVERSITY CHURCH
(on USC's campus), is FREE and OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Refreshments will be

$5 DONATIONS are encouraged, and all proceeds will go to PALESTINE
CHILDREN'S RELIEF FUND. P.C.R.F. is a registered non-political, non-profit,
organization in the U.S. established to address the medical and humanitarian
crisis facing Palestinian youths in the Middle East. It has since expanded
to help suffering children from other Middle Eastern nations like Iraq to
locate free medical care for children in the case that they are unable to
get the necessary and specialized treatment in their own homeland.

Brought to you by Students for Justice in Palestine, Middle East Studies
Student Association, and Student Activists for a Beloved Community.

Original Message Sent From: Marwa: katbi@usc.edu


A wonderful piece on Israel/Palestine

----- Original Message -----
Subject: Ed, a wonderful piece on Israel/Palestine from the Financial Times for your readers

A poisoned process holds little hope

By David Gardner, Financial Times

Published: August 25 2010 22:46 | Last updated: August 25 2010 22:46

Ingram Pinn illustration

As the caravans of Middle East peace negotiators rumble into Washington next week for the umpteenth time, the pervasive cynicism and sense of deja vu all over again is overwhelming – and with good reason.

The Middle East peace process long ago turned into a tortured charade of pure process while events on the ground – in particular the relentless and strategic Israeli colonisation of occupied Palestinian land – pull in the opposite direction to peace. "We have all been colluding in a gigantic confidence trick," is how one Arab minister puts it, "and here we go again".

While many factors had combined to hand veto powers to rejectionists on both sides, the heart of the question remains the continuing Israeli occupation. It is essential to remember that the biggest single increase of Jewish settlers on Arab land – a 50 per cent rise – took place in 1992-96 under the governments of peace-makers Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres at the high-water mark of the Oslo peace accords. Many Israelis will point to the perfidy of the late Yassir Arafat, who wanted to talk peace but keep the option of armed resistance dangerously in play. But what killed Oslo was the occupation. The second intifada that erupted a decade ago was essentially the Oslo war.

A decade on, the Israeli settlement enterprise has turned the occupied West Bank into a discontiguous scattering of cantons, walled in by a security barrier built on yet more annexed Arab land and criss-crossed by segregated Israeli roads linking the settlements. Last month, B'Tselem, the Israeli human rights group, published a study showing Israel has now taken 42 per cent of the West Bank, with 300,000 settlers there and another 200,000 in East Jerusalem. The siege of Gaza has turned that sliver of land into a vast, open-air prison.

The main feature of the present situation is the disconnect between the high politics of the utterly discredited peace process and these – in Israeli parlance – "facts on the ground".

At last month's White House summit, where Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu massaged their long estrangement into a political armistice, the US president praised the Israeli prime minister as a leader "willing to take risks for peace".

But there is no evidence for this whatsoever. True, in June last year, in response to Mr Obama's Cairo speech denying any legitimacy to Israel's settlements, Mr Netanyahu forced himself to utter the words "Palestinian state" – but he surrounded them with barbed-wire caveats that voided them of meaning.

Indeed, the words all sides use – peace, resolution, security, and so on – may be the same; but what each side means by them is different.

The mainstream Palestinian leaders, President Mahmoud Abbas and Salam Fayyad, the prime minister, and the Quartet made up of the US, the European Union, the UN and Russia, talk of a negotiated resolution. This means two states living in peace and security, and a Palestinian homeland on the 22 per cent of Mandate Palestine taken by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. East Jerusalem would serve as the capital of the West Bank and Gaza, with marginal land swaps to preserve some Israeli settlements near Jerusalem. But what does Mr Netanyahu mean?

He has been most clear on what he does not mean. For a start, he has set his face against any concessions on Jerusalem. He wants to keep most settlements except for the far-flung "ideological" ones and the 100-plus "outposts" established as pawns to be traded once the chess game began. His idea of a demilitarised Palestinian state is more like a sort of supra-municipal administration than a self-determined, independent government.

Will he surprise us, on the hackneyed Nixon and China principle that holds it is politicians of the right who most easily close difficult deals? There is little to suggest that.

The thinking of Mr Netanyahu, son of a celebrated promoter of Greater Israel, has always been profoundly irredentist. While his nationalist Likud faces the constraints of being in coalition with an assortment of ultra-rightist and ultra-orthodox parties as well as Labour, that was plainly his choice; the centrist Kadima party was (and remains) an alternative. To be fair, Israel's electoral system – with a low threshold for entry into the Knesset that makes multi-party coalitions inevitable – means lobbies such as the settlers can take the national interest hostage. But Mr Netanyahu magnifies this by his choice of partners and by diligently firing up the ultra-hawks in the pro-Israel lobby in the US.

As risks he has taken for peace, Exhibit A is the much-hyped moratorium on settlement-building, which expires next month and has, in any case, been speciously interpreted. While the bulldozers to build settlements have been idling, moreover, the bulldozers demolishing Palestinian homes have been roaring: the rate of demolition in and around Jerusalem has doubled this year, while the army has just razed the village of al-Farisiye in the Jordan Valley, in line with Mr Netanyahu's strategically obsolete obsession with keeping the valley as Israel's eastern border.

As diplomacy struggles to keep alive the viability of a two-state solution, three rival systems of control have crystallised in the occupied territories that would make up a future Palestinian homeland: the settlements; the crimped Palestinian Authority of Mr Abbas and Mr Fayyad; and then Hamas, which Israel and its Arab and western allies have tried and failed to marginalise. Time is short for a negotiated outcome; it may even have run out.

The outlines of a deal are clear, in the (Bill) Clinton parameters of 2000 and Arab Peace Initiative of 2002, endorsed by 22 Arab and 57 Muslim countries (as well as Hamas, as part of the 2007 Mecca accord). There has to be an end to the occupation, and the US and Quartet cannot just allude to this; they must demand it.

The writer is international affairs editor

Dick Platkin
+1-213-308-6354 Cell, +1-323-938-7027 FAX
SKYPE  dick.platkin

Monday, August 30, 2010

Floods in Pakistan - Cash for its Leader, Factory Farms make you Sick


Floods for Pakistan; Floods of Money -- For its Leader

By Tariq Ali'
CounterPunch : August 27-29, 2010

Tariq Ali's latest book, The Protocols of the Elders of Sodom and other
Essays, has just been published by Verso.

A disaster of biblical scope: the floods triggered by heavy monsoon rains a
month ago have affected more than 17.2 million people and killed over 1,500,
according to Pakistan's disaster management body | August is the monsoon
season in Pakistan. This year a hard rain keeps falling, which is why the
floodwaters are not abating. Nearly two thousand deaths and over 20 million
people are homeless. The man-made disasters - war in Afghanistan, its
spillage into Pakistan - are bad enough. Now the country faces its worst
ever natural disaster. Most governments would find it difficult to cope, but
the current regime is virtually paralyzed.

Over the last sixty years, the ruling elite in the country has never been
able to construct a social infrastructure for its people. This is a
structural defect that goes deep and affects the bulk of the population
adversely. Today the country's rulers eagerly follow the neoliberal dictates
of the IMF, to keep the loans flowing. Not helpful at the best of times they
are useless when the country is undergoing its worst humanitarian crisis of
recent decades.

The response of the West has been less than generous causing panic in
Islamabad with pro-US journalists in the country pleading that if help is
not forthcoming the terrorists might take over the country. This is
nonsense. The Pakistani Army is firmly in control of the flood-relief
effort. The religious groups and others too are raising money and helping
the homeless. It's normal.

Since 9/11 a rampant Islamophobia has gripped Europe and parts of North
America. A recent opinion-poll in "multicultural Britain" revealed that when
asked what their first thought was on hearing the word "Islam" over fifty
percent replied "Terrorist". France and Germany, Holland and Denmark, are no

This treatment of Islam as the permanent "other" is not unrelated to the
wars in Iraq and Afghanistan but the attitude is as wrong as the
anti-Semitism that ignited prejudice and genocide during the first half of
the 20th century. A million Iraqis dead since the occupation: Who cares?
Afghan civilians dying every day: It's their own fault. Pakistani engulfed
in floodwaters. Indifference. That is undoubtedly one reason for the lack of

Zardari joins the Shoe Club with Bush

Another is home-grown. Many citizens of Pakistani origin I have spoken to in
recent weeks are reluctant to send money because they fear it will end up in
the huge pockets of the corrupt leaders who govern the country. As the
floodwaters began to surge through Pakistan, the country's President left
for Europe. Properties had to be inspected; his son had to be crowned as the
future leader of Pakistan at a rally in Birmingham, England.

"1000s dying, president is holidaying": As images of a drowning country were
being shown on European television, Pakistan's president was on his way to
his 16th century chateau in the French countryside | The coronation in
Birmingham was postponed. It was too crass even for the loyalists. Instead
Zardari delivered an appalling speech and a Kashmiri elder, angered by the
nonsense being spouted, rose to his feet and hurled one of his shoes at the
businessman-president calling him "corrupt and a thief". Zardari left the
hall in anger. "Zardari joins the Shoe Club with Bush" was the headline in
the largest Pakistani newspaper.

Some demonstrators held up shoes to pictures of Zardari, while others held
placards reading, "1000s dying, president is holidaying", "Thousands killed,
millions homeless" and "Are the Zardaris enjoying England while Pakistan
drowns?" None of this helped raise more money.

As images of Pakistan coping with the crisis and of its destitute people
were being shown on European television, a French air force helicopter was
transporting the richest man in Pakistan to his most extravagant European
property, the 16th century chateau, Manoir de la Reine Blanche, with its
five acres of parkland, lakes and forests. Originally built for the widow of
King Philippe VI it is now the property of the Pakistani widower. How can he
afford it? Everybody knows. Pay-offs from companies investing in the

Back at home the Jang group, the country's largest media empire, was advised
by the government to exercise restraint and not show images of the
shoe-throwing incident on Geo TV. They rejected the suggestion and instead
interviewed the shoe-thrower.

Unable to curb YouTube, Zardari's men switched Geo and another network, ARY,
off the air in Karachi and parts of Sind. And hundreds of Zardari's jiyalas,
i.e. unthinking party loyalists, gathered outside Geo's Karachi office,
pelting the building with stones and shoes. All in reaction to Geo's
decision to report on the shoe-hurling incident.

Jang groups newspapers torched all over Karachi. No sign of the police. In
reaction, Geo started replaying clips of Benazir Bhutto defending press
freedom. The floods continue.



Factory Farms Make You Sick. Let Us Count the Ways

by Russell Mokhiber
Corporate Crime Reporter: August 27, 2010

Just last week, more than half a billion eggs recalled.


Salmonella poisoning.

More than 1,300 people sick.

Just last week, a recall of more than 380,000 pounds of deli meat products
distributed nationwide to Wal-Mart stores.


Possible contamination with the bacterium Listeria monocytogenes.

The bacteria can cause listeriosis - a rare but potentially deadly disease.

Move over Animal Farm.

Here comes Animal Factory.

And the animal factories are dominating the agricultural landscape.

Making us sick and poisoning the environment.

The Obama administration, which ran on a platform to confront factory
farming, has done little to confront the problem.

"They don't have the stomach to take on the factory farms," David Kirby,
author of the book Animal Factory (St. Martin's Press, 2010), told Corporate
Crime Reporter last week. "They are gun shy. I'm disappointed."

While the Justice Department and the Department of Agriculture are holding
hearings on concentration in agribusiness, Kirby see the exercise as a
glorified listening tour.

He doesn't anticipate federal intervention to prevent a disaster.

But he says what needs to be done is clear - move from factory farms to
family farms.


Ban non-therapeutic antibiotic use in animals.

Bust up the processing cartels.

"There are so few processing plants now and they are so centralized and big
they want to process only factory farm animals," Kirby says.

Cut the billions in subsidies to agribusiness.

"And by the way, why aren't the tea partiers out there screaming about the
billions of dollars we give away every year to these massive farms?" Kirby

"And then take some of those subsidies and give them to small independent
farmers who can really use it to compete."

He says that the Obama administration ran on a platform to do some of these

But it refuses to take on big agribusiness.

Kirby says it will take a disaster to change the system.

"You can pass all the laws you want, organize all the boycotts," Kirby said.
"But ultimately when you cram thousands of animals into a single confined
space without access to fresh air, outdoor sunlight, pasture, natural animal
behaviors - you are asking for problems in the form of diseases that attack

"Mother nature will have the last word. Mad cow disease was a warning. Swine
flu was a warning. MRSA was a warning. The egg recall was a warning."

"But we haven't hit the big one yet."

"Things are changing. Consumers are waking up."

"I understand that there are lines around the block at farmers markets where
eggs sell out by noon."

"Demand for sustainably grown eggs right now is huge. That will make
companies sit up and take notice."

"Things are changing. But for a massive shift away from factory farming, it
will probably take some new super-virus combining the killer bird flu and
some killer swine flu."

"And that could happen. These chicken farms in Iowa are just down the road
from the hog farms."

"And birds and rodents and insects are moving in and out of these places."

That disaster would force public action. But what about preventable public
action by the Obama administration.

"It won't be enough to have a serious impact on the structure of the factory
farms," Kirby says. "We are awash in apathy in this country."

[For a complete transcript of the Interview with David Kirby see 24
Corporate Crime Reporter 33(10), August 30, 2010, print edition only.]

Russell Mokhiber is editor of the Washington, D.C.-based Corporate Crime
Reporter. He is also founder of singlepayeraction.org.

Garrett: Connecting Dots, Krugman: Witch-Hunt Season

From: Lila Garrett

Opening commentary on Connect the Dots

August 30. 2010 7 AM, on KPFK 90.7 fm
Host: Lila Garrett
Guests: Winslow Wheeler…. Center for Defense Info.
Congressman Bob Filner…Dem. from San Diego
Ann Fagan Ginger..Head of Mieklejohn Inst.

Good Monday morning. Welcome to CONNECT THE DOTS. I'm your host Lila
Garrett wondering what the Republicans are going to hit us with next . Last
week they seem determined to shred the fabric of our democracy down to the
last thread. They're no longer even pretending that they're in business to
serve the people. As we watch our insurance companies lower our health care
benefits while they raise their rates, we also watch the shadow of
privatization loom over every program that belongs to the people.
Schools turn from public to charter, which in turn are taken over by
special interest groups like corporations churches and the military.

Libraries are being either closed or run by private companies. They decide
what you read and for how much. And the privatization of Social Security
seems closer than ever. Obama made the mistake of creating yet another
committee to "study" the most solid program in the our history. He is the
4th President to do so. But the right wing still insists that SS is ailing.
It needs the fine claw of Corporations to take it over.

And since our President just can't say no to the barracudas of the right he
created another "bi-partisan" commission with Republican attack dog, former
Senator Alan Simpson as co-Chair. Simpson has called those who depend on
SS "lesser people". . The fact that those "lesser people" paid into SS all
their working lives is apparently irrelevant. How can those lesser people
be properly punished? Why, by privatizing social security of course. Here
are Alan Simpson's exact words.

If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security
instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know. And yes, I've made
some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the
last degree. You know 'em too. It's the same with any system in America.
We've reached a point now where it's like a milk cow with 310 million tits!
Call when you get honest work!

Alan Simpson, former Republican Senator from Wyoming remembered for his
disgraceful attack on Anita Hill when she tried to tell ugly truths about
Clarence Thomas during his confirmation for the Supreme Ct. brought out of
moth balls by the President of the United States. Why he did this it another
of those Obama mysteries. Simpson is known for his biases, his tendency to
distort and mislead, and his ideological extremism. Put this threat to
Social Security together with last weeks's sudden halting of government
funding for stem cell research by a Federal judge, couple that with the
constant pounding by John Boehner, minority leader of the House to maintain
the tax break for the rich and what have you got? The Republican
leadership, gloves off, knives out, ready to slash every last vestige of
support for the people.

The excuse is the deficit. The Republicans, having created the greatest
deficit in our history under Bush are pretending to be panicked because it
costs money to keep we-the-people in food, clothing and shelter. Meanwhile
impending universal poverty is enough out of the closet for the whole
country to see it, so the Government has to come up with something.

Sec. of Defense Robert Gates to the rescue! He has volunteered to cut the
Defense Budget by 120 billion.. Since the Defense budget is almost a
trillion they'll never miss it, especially if it's a lie. Is it a lie?
If so what are they planning to do with that money? Winslow Wheeler, of
the center for Defense Info. joins us to analyze the new defense budget.
Prepare to be very angry.

And Congressman Bob Filner of San Diego, Chair of the House Committee on
Veterans Affairs has reason to be concerned. Veterans who continue to get
the short end of the defense money don't even begin to have their needs
covered this time. Filner wants 15% of the budget to go to them. What are
their chances of getting it? Filner comes on strong.

And somewhere in this shameful demolition of decent behavior, there may be a
ray of hope. Where does it come from? The California Legislature of all
places. They just passed a Bill which demands that our country stands up
for human rights. And according to Ann Fagan Ginger, head of the Meiklejohn
Civil Rights Institute of Berkeley this Bill doesn't need the governor's
signature. Sometimes we get lucky. Ann Ginger will join us.
But let's begin with the new Defense Budget Proposal. With us now is
Winslow Wheeler…



It's Witch-Hunt Season

By Paul Krugman
NY Times Op-Ed: August 30, 2010

The last time a Democrat sat in the White House, he faced a nonstop witch
hunt by his political opponents. Prominent figures on the right accused Bill
and Hillary Clinton of everything from drug smuggling to murder. And once
Republicans took control of Congress, they subjected the Clinton
administration to unrelenting harassment - at one point taking 140 hours of
sworn testimony over accusations that the White House had misused its
Christmas card list.

Now it's happening again - except that this time it's even worse. Let's turn
the floor over to Rush Limbaugh: "Imam Hussein Obama," he recently declared,
is "probably the best anti-American president we've ever had."

To get a sense of how much it matters when people like Mr. Limbaugh talk
like this, bear in mind that he's an utterly mainstream figure within the
Republican Party; bear in mind, too, that unless something changes the
political dynamics, Republicans will soon control at least one house of
Congress. This is going to be very, very ugly.

So where is this rage coming from? Why is it flourishing? What will it do to

Anyone who remembered the 1990s could have predicted something like the
current political craziness. What we learned from the Clinton years is that
a significant number of Americans just don't consider government by
liberals - even very moderate liberals - legitimate. Mr. Obama's election
would have enraged those people even if he were white. Of course, the fact
that he isn't, and has an alien-sounding name, adds to the rage.

By the way, I'm not talking about the rage of the excluded and the
dispossessed: Tea Partiers are relatively affluent, and nobody is angrier
these days than the very, very rich. Wall Street has turned on Mr. Obama
with a vengeance: last month Steve Schwarzman, the billionaire chairman of
the Blackstone Group, the private equity giant, compared proposals to end
tax loopholes for hedge fund managers with the Nazi invasion of Poland.

And powerful forces are promoting and exploiting this rage. Jane Mayer's new
article in The New Yorker about the superrich Koch brothers and their war
against Mr. Obama has generated much-justified attention, but as Ms. Mayer
herself points out, only the scale of their effort is new: billionaires like
Richard Mellon Scaife waged a similar war against Bill Clinton.

Meanwhile, the right-wing media are replaying their greatest hits. In the
1990s, Mr. Limbaugh used innuendo to feed anti-Clinton mythology, notably
the insinuation that Hillary Clinton was complicit in the death of Vince
Foster. Now, as we've just seen, he's doing his best to insinuate that Mr.
Obama is a Muslim. Again, though, there's an extra level of craziness this
time around: Mr. Limbaugh is the same as he always was, but now seems tame
compared with Glenn Beck.

And where, in all of this, are the responsible Republicans, leaders who will
stand up and say that some partisans are going too far? Nowhere to be found.

To take a prime example: the hysteria over the proposed Islamic center in
lower Manhattan almost makes one long for the days when former President
George W. Bush tried to soothe religious hatred, declaring Islam a religion
of peace. There were good reasons for his position: there are a billion
Muslims in the world, and America can't afford to make all of them its

But here's the thing: Mr. Bush is still around, as are many of his former
officials. Where are the statements, from the former president or those in
his inner circle, preaching tolerance and denouncing anti-Islam hysteria? On
this issue, as on many others, the G.O.P. establishment is offering a nearly
uniform profile in cowardice.

So what will happen if, as expected, Republicans win control of the House?
We already know part of the answer: Politico reports that they're gearing up
for a repeat performance of the 1990s, with a "wave of committee
investigations" - several of them over supposed scandals that we already
know are completely phony. We can expect the G.O.P. to play chicken over the
federal budget, too; I'd put even odds on a 1995-type government shutdown
sometime over the next couple of years.

It will be an ugly scene, and it will be dangerous, too. The 1990s were a
time of peace and prosperity; this is a time of neither. In particular,
still suffering the after-effects of the worst economic crisis since the
1930s, and we can't afford to have a federal government paralyzed by an
opposition with no interest in helping the president govern. But that's what
we're likely to get.

If I were President Obama, I'd be doing all I could to head off this
prospect, offering some major new initiatives on the economic front in
particular, if only to shake up the political dynamic. But my guess is that
the president will continue to play it safe, all the way into catastrophe.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

The backlash against Obama's blackness


The backlash against Obama's blackness

From Arizona to Ground Zero via birthers, the Republicans are riding a wave
of white resentment. It's reckless and frightening.

By Dan Kennedy
The Guardian/UK: August 24, 2010

The August madness into which America has descended is about several things.
It's about the still-sputtering economy, of course, and the fear it
engenders. It's about xenophobia, never far below the surface. And it's
about a rightwing media-political complex that plays on the public's

But there's a unifying theme that few wish to acknowledge. What we are
witnessing at the moment is the full, ugly furore of white backlash, aimed
directly and indirectly at our first black president.

The case was made, inadvertently, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed piece last
week by Republican congressman-turned-lobbyist Dick Armey, the godfather of
what might be called the Tea Party movement's corporate wing. Armey and his
co-author, Matt Kibbe, proudly dated the birth of the Tea Party to 9
February 2009.

Barack Obama's $800m stimulus bill was not approved until three days later.
Which is my point. The most notorious political movement of the Obama era,
grounded in racial fears if not flat-out racism, sprung into being within
weeks of Obama's inauguration, before he'd had a chance to do anything,
really. If Obama was for it, they were against it.

The Tea Party winter and spring of 2009 led to the "death panels" of summer,
and to rightwing hero Glenn Beck's declaration that the president harboured
"a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture". Minor issues
involving Acorn, a heretofore obscure agency that helped register urban,
mostly minority voters, became a cause célèbre. A little-known African
American bureaucrat, Van Jones, was hounded out of office for having
allegedly expressed offensive views about the terrorist attacks of 11
September 2001 - views he later said he had never voiced and did not hold.
Protesters spat upon and directed racial epithets at African American
congressmen as the healthcare debate reached its climax.

And now we come to the full fruition of all this race-baiting. According to
the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, 18% of Americans - and
34% of conservative Republicans - believe Obama is a Muslim, proportions
that have actually risen since the 2008 campaign. Another poll, by
CNN/Opinion Research, finds that 41% of Republicans believe Obama was
definitely or probably not born in the United States.

Far worse is the racial, ethnic and religious hatred that has been
unleashed, starting with the proposed Islamic centre to be built in New York
several blocks from the devastated World Trade Centre site, which Obama
endorsed and then (to his discredit) unendorsed, sort of, the next day.

Yes, we've all heard Newt Gingrich draw an analogy between Muslims and
Nazis, and we all know that more than 60% of the public has expressed its
opposition to what is inevitably, and inaccurately, referred to as the
"Ground Zero mosque".

But to experience the pure fury, you have to watch this video of a black man
who had the temerity to walk through a group of people protesting the
centre. It is a terrifying moment.

There is more - so much more. The anti-immigration law approved in Arizona,
which made a star of Republican governor Jan Brewer, notwithstanding the
inconvenient truth that illegal immigration across the Mexico-Arizona border
is at its lowest level in years. The political crucifixion of Shirley
Sherrod. The continuing phenomenon of Sarah Palin, who, at long last, feels
empowered enough to reach inside the deepest, darkest recesses of her tiny
little heart and embrace a fellow rightwinger's repeated use of the N-word.

It's a frightening time to be an American and to watch this insanity
unfolding all around us. There's a sense that anything could happen, none of
it good.

What's all too easy to forget is that though Obama was elected with the
strongest majority of any president in recent years, he received only 43% of
the white vote. Now, it's true that no Democrat since Lyndon Johnson in 1964
has won a majority of whites. But it's also true that 100% of voters who
would never support a black presidential candidate cast their ballots for
someone other than Obama. Now they're roaming the countryside, egged on by
the Republican party and the Tea Party and Fox News and Rush Limbaugh,
looking for new objects on which to unload their bitterness.

The traditional media, built as they are on the notion of fair-minded
coverage of equally responsible, equally reasonable political forces, can
barely process what's going on. You literally cannot understand the current
moment without watching the political satirists Jon Stewart and Stephen
Colbert. But, hey, they're only comedians.

Not that there's anything new about the Republican party's playing racial
politics. Richard Nixon was elected in 1968 on the basis of his infamous
"southern strategy", designed to appeal to white voters alienated by the
historic civil-rights legislation shepherded through Congress by Lyndon
Johnson. Ronald Reagan kicked off his 1980 campaign against the incumbent
president, Jimmy Carter, in Philadelphia, Mississippi, where three
civil-rights workers had been murdered, by invoking the toxic phrase
"states' rights".

As the economy slides into another trough, with no prospect of another
stimulus passing political muster, it's only going to get worse.

Strangely, there are virtually no political observers who hold out the
prospect that the folks whom the right has alienated will turn out to vote
against the Republicans this November. George W Bush, after all, worked
mightily to appeal to Latino voters. That's gone. Bush even won 70% of the
Muslim vote in 2000. That's long gone.

The Republicans hope to ride the white backlash back to power, and perhaps
they will. But they may also find that the hatred they have embraced will
come back to haunt them this November - and well beyond. For the rest of us,
though, the consequences of that hatred have yet to play out.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

America is Better Than This, Katrina is Not a Metaphor


America is Better Than This

Bob Herbert
NY Times Op-Ed: August 27, 2010

America is better than Glenn Beck. For all of his celebrity, Mr. Beck is an
ignorant, divisive, pathetic figure. On the anniversary of the great 1963
March on Washington he will stand in the shadows of giants - Abraham Lincoln
and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Who do you think is more
representative of this nation?

Consider a brief sampling of their rhetoric.

Lincoln: "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

King: "Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter."

Beck: "I think the president is a racist."

Washington was on edge on the morning of Aug. 28, 1963. The day was sunny
and very warm and Negroes, as we were called in those days, were coming into
town by the tens of thousands. The sale of liquor was banned. Troops stood
by to restore order if matters got out of control. President John F. Kennedy
waited anxiously in the White House to see how the day would unfold.

It unfolded splendidly. The crowd for the "March on Washington for Jobs and
Freedom" grew to some 250,000. Nearly a quarter of the marchers were white.
They gathered at the Lincoln Memorial, where they were enthralled by the
singing of Mahalia Jackson and Joan Baez. The march was all about inclusion
and the day seemed to swell with an extraordinary sense of camaraderie and
good feeling.

The climax, of course, was Dr. King's transcendent "I Have a Dream" speech.
Jerald Podair, a professor of American studies at Lawrence University in
Wisconsin, has called Aug. 28, 1963, "the most important single day in civil
rights history." This is the historical legacy that Glenn Beck, a small man
with a mean message, has chosen to tread upon with his cynical rally on
Saturday at that very same Lincoln Memorial.

Beck is a provocateur who likes to play with matches in the tinderbox of
racial and ethnic confrontation. He seems oblivious to the real danger of
his execrable behavior. He famously described President Obama as a man "who
has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture."

He is an integral part of the vicious effort by the Tea Party and other
elements of the right wing to portray Mr. Obama as somehow alien, a strange
figure who is separate and apart from - outside of - ordinary American life.
As the watchdog group Media Matters for America has noted, Beck said of the
president, "He chose to use the name, Barack, for a reason, to identify not
with America - you don't take the name Barack to identify with America. You
take the name Barack to identify, with what? Your heritage? The heritage,
maybe, of your father in Kenya, who is a radical?"

Facts and reality mean nothing to Beck. And there is no road too low for him
to slither upon. The Southern Poverty Law Center tells us that in a twist on
the civil rights movement, Beck said on the air that he "wouldn't be
surprised if in our lifetime dogs and fire hoses are released or opened on
us. I wouldn't be surprised if a few of us get a billy club to the head. I
wouldn't be surprised if some of us go to jail - just like Martin Luther
King did - on trumped-up charges. Tough times are coming."

He makes you want to take a shower.

In Beck's view, President Obama is driven by a desire to settle "old racial
scores" and his ultimate goal is "reparations" for black Americans. Abe
Lincoln and Dr. King could only look on aghast at this clown.

Beck has been advertising his rally as nonpolitical, but its main speaker is
Sarah Palin. She had her own low moment recently as a racial provocateur,
publicly voicing her support for Laura Schlessinger, radio's "Dr. Laura,"
who went out of her way to humiliate a black caller by continuously using
the n-word to make a point, even after the caller had made it clear that she
was offended.

Palin's advice to Schlessinger: "Don't retreat - reload."

There is a great deal of hatred and bigotry in this country, but it does not
define the country. The daily experience of most Americans is not a bitter
experience and for all of our problems we are in a much better place on
these matters than we were a half century ago.

But I worry about the potential for violence that grows out of unrestrained,
hostile bombast. We've seen it so often. A little more than two weeks after
the 1963 March on Washington, the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham
was bombed by the Ku Klux Klan and four young black girls were killed. And
three months after the march, Jack Kennedy was assassinated.

My sincere advice to Beck, Palin and their followers is chill, baby, chill.



Katrina Is Not a Metaphor

By Melissa Harris-Lacewell
The Nation: July 14, 2010

I haven't missed an episode of HBO's compelling new series Treme. I have
watched most of it in bars and restaurants in New Orleans. Creator David
Simon has captured much about life in the city. Most critical, the series
understands that New Orleans is, at its core, a physical experience. It's
routine to spend a Tuesday night standing shoulder to shoulder with 200
strangers in a tin-ceilinged sticky-floor bar, dancing to the blaring horns
of a brass band until your hair falls in a wet pile around your ringing
ears. Treme evokes New Orleans as the unbearable weight of summer's
humidity, the sobering perfection of a midnight beignet, the magnificence of
a crane taking flight in City Park, the familiar taste of home in a plastic
bowl of red beans and rice bought from a street vendor.

Perhaps this is why so many New Orleanians love the show. It feels so...
real. Seamlessly incorporated locals like musicians Trombone Shorty and
Kermit Ruffins are just the start. The city's landmarks, restaurants,
newspapers, T-shirts and taxis are the authentic fixtures that give the show
substance. But I worry that, for all its authenticity, Treme is ultimately
reductive. It is still a fiction whose characters only gesture toward the
far more complicated reality they portray.

Take the case of Phyllis Montana-Leblanc, who plays Desiree, the girlfriend
of Antoine Batiste, portrayed by Wendell Pierce. Leblanc is not an actor by
training. She entered the national scene as the most compelling voice in
Spike Lee's When the Levees Broke. Her personal testimony and stinging
analysis were the captivating threads holding Lee's long documentary
together. In that film Leblanc told her story with unflinching honesty and
well-directed anger, without a hint of self-censorship or self-pity. In
Treme she is scripted, cast as a fictionalized rendering of herself.
Leblanc's story is given back to her as lines written by someone else.
Desiree, the character, is an allegory for Leblanc, the citizen.

This representation is especially disturbing because throughout her
post-Katrina ordeal Leblanc insisted on her humanity even in profoundly
dehumanizing conditions. In her memoir she writes of her frustration while
waiting for help to evacuate the flooded city: "I am a person, a living
breathing person with a heart beating inside of a body, and you can't help
me?" Her insistence that the government violated human rights and flouted
basic human dignity resonates throughout her book. But each time her story
is mediated-first by Lee's editing and then by the writers and directors of
Treme-it becomes more palatable, even entertaining. With each translation
some meaning is lost.

This is not a criticism of Leblanc; it is a criticism of a pervasive trend,
of which Treme is perhaps the best example, of reducing Hurricane Katrina to
a mere metaphor. These days it is fashionable to use Katrina as a discursive

In March 2009, Frank Rich wondered if AIG bonuses would become Obama's
"Katrina moment." A few months later Politico reported that "Republicans
hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina," only to be
topped by the Washington Times, which asked, "Will Swine Flu Be Obama's
Katrina?" By January of this year the Wall Street Journal readily declared
that the Haiti earthquake was Obama's Katrina, while Arianna Huffington
recently assured readers that it was jobs, not the BP oil spill, that would
be Obama's Katrina.

Sometimes it feels like commentators can't wait for another Hurricane
Katrina. After all, catastrophes focus public attention, reveal
institutional shortcomings and evoke powerful emotional responses. Maybe it
was inevitable that Hurricane Katrina would be reduced to a casual metaphor.
For thirty years pundits have described political scandal involving intrigue
and corruption with the handy suffix "gate." Now Katrina is shorthand for
administration-crippling unresponsiveness. Mention Katrina to remind
politicians that they need to look concerned and engaged when citizens are
suffering. Deploy Katrina as a lesson in bureaucratic incompetence. Shake a
scolding Katrina finger at leaders who seem overwhelmed by a current
challenge. Katrina is unexpected disaster. Katrina is spectacular debacle.
Katrina is the beginning of the end of a flawed leader.

Except that it is not. Eighty percent of the city flooded when the levees
failed. More than 1,500 people were killed. Tens of thousands were
permanently displaced. Billions in property was lost. The levee failure
caused by Katrina wiped away entire communities, irreparably damaging homes,
schools, churches and stores. It stole decades of family memories. It
altered centuries of tradition in a matter of moments. It left a legacy of
blight, economic devastation and personal suffering in its wake.

Each time Katrina, whose fifth anniversary is on the oil-soaked horizon, is
evoked as a political metaphor, we risk a dangerous mediation of experience.
These metaphors reduce catastrophe to an object lesson, implying that the
effects of the disaster have been resolved, that the plot has been resolved
and that the continued suffering of our fellow citizens is little more than
a literary device.

Yes, New Orleans is a city whose cultural excess and eccentricity cry out
for understanding through the literary, the poetic, the musical, the
athletic and even the magical. But when we reduce Katrina to fiction-even
really good fiction-we risk making it little more than a trope. The fifth
anniversary of Katrina reminds us that to fully restore New Orleans, and to
change it into a more just and equal city, we must build tangible political
will based on sober assessments of the city's continuing challenges.

Katrina is still our Katrina. This story does not yet have an ending.

Melissa Victoria Harris-Lacewell is an American writer, political scientist,
and an Associate Professor of Politics and African American studies at
Princeton University. She received her B.A. in English from Wake Forest
University, her Ph.D. in political science from Duke University.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Dear Mr. President..., An amazing, unique, dirt-cheap book sale

August 17, 2010 <http://www.commondreams.org/> Dear Mr. President...

by Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party

President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500

August 14, 2010

Dear Mr. President:

Your Press Secretary has recently been quoted as strongly criticizing those
of us Democratic Party activists who feel that you have failed in some of
the most important promises you made, stated or implied, during your
campaign and that you are not steering our country in the right direction.
He dismisses us as the "professional left" as if we were the ones making a
living from politics.

We worked very hard for your election as we do for all candidates who seem
able and willing to work for progressive social change, and to make a better
life for our citizens and for the world. Your rhetoric often suggests that
you share this goal, but your actions frequently prove otherwise. We do not
simply disagree with you on a single small issue. Unfortunately our
unhappiness and disappointment has a broad scope. To name a few examples:

You promised to work for meaningful health care reform - we got a woeful
compromise. You committed to seek to rein in an out-of-control financial
sector - we got third best. You seemed to be in favor of winding down
unnecessary and increasingly inept and unwinnable foreign adventures - we
got an escalation of an untenable and unending war. You promised to close
Guantanamo and end don't ask, don't tell - neither has seen much of your
efforts. You campaigned against the Bush imperial presidency, and then you
expanded it. We could go on.

In our opinion you have failed, in whole or in part, to deliver on many of
your commitments. Instead, you have continued and supported some of the Bush
policies that many hoped and believed, based on your utterances, you would
quickly terminate. At best, the many who supported you and believed that you
were going to bring about great change are confused and disappointed; at
worst, they find themselves less motivated to continue their support for

The Republican policy of lock-step unthinking resistance to any meaningful
change is, of course, in large measure to blame for our disappointment. But
when we see you capitulate in advance of negotiations by submitting far less
than the public needs and deserves (health care, financial regulation,
public education, women's reproductive rights) or affirmatively go in the
other direction (civil liberties, the war in Afghanistan, to name a few
instances), we are deeply offended. Then, to add insult to injury, your
Press Secretary, Mr. Gibbs, publicly castigates and belittles us as the
"professional left", whatever that means, and suggests that we need to be
"drug tested".

But we are not a "professional left." On the contrary, we are among those
volunteers from around the country who campaigned, raised and contributed
money, and voted for you. We were, and are, active in your Democratic Party;
indeed, many of us were active in it long before you arrived on the scene.

We take issue with the fact that apparently Mr. Gibbs has no qualms about
insulting us and diminishing our hard work and years of faithful support. We
resent being vilified and dismissed by your Press Secretary as if our
opinions were not representative of a large number of your voters and
supporters and as if we were as truly hostile to your program as the "just
say no" Republicans.

We don't, however, make the mistake of seeking to shoot the messenger. Mr.
Gibbs (and even Emanuel) is not the real problem, Mr. President. We fear you
are. We demand that you do a better job of exercising your powers as
President; that you represent us better; that you cleave to your promises to
us with more fidelity; and that you refrain from sending forth your minions
to attack our right to disagree. Our country is in grave danger on many
fronts and we respectfully reserve the right to continue to insist that you
adhere to your promises to the American people, and your supporters without
being told that we are your real problem.

Indeed Mr. President, you have enemies that wish to see you fail but we
would hope that your administration has the clarity of vision to recognize
that we are not the enemy.


The Officers of the Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic Party:

Karen Bernal, Chair
Mal Burnstein, Vice-Chair
Dotty LeMieux, Secretary
Ralph Miller, Treasurer
Jeffrey Killeen, Parliamentarian
Mayme Hubert, Officer-at-Large
Dr. Bill Honigman, Officer-at-Large
J Brian Washman, Officer-at-Large


Karen Bernal, Chair
Progressive Caucus of the California Democratic


From: "Jan Goodman" <janjerry2@gmail.com>


Books, Books, and More Books
What do Masses and Mainstream, Yiddish Humor and Blueberry Sal all
have in common? They are among the hundreds of books and pamphlets
which will be sold at the Paul Robeson Community Center's First Ever
Book Fair and Sale. You will be so happy to get to this book sale

Saturday, August 28, 2010-- 10 am to 4 pm
Paul Robeson Community Center
6569 South Vermont Avenue, Los Angeles

The Paul Robeson Community Center has been the recipient of the book
collections of its progressive and radical supporters over the last
twenty years. So much so, that the Center is bursting at the seams.
Members of the public will be the beneficiaries of this over-endowment
of books, because the Center has decided to sell the books which don't
fit into their collection. , many of which will go on sale at 10 am on
Saturday, August 28, 2010, at the Paul Robeson Community Center.

Hard Bound: $1 each
Fat / Thick Paperbacks: $.50
Thin Paperbacks: $.10
Students and Seniors: 1/2 price.
Childrens' books: Free to Kids and their parents

(Bring some boxes & bags to take home the books--extra special prices
to those who want large quantaties!)

biography ( From Rock Hudson Moynahan, Joseph Conrad, Armand
Hammer, Truman Capote, Russel Baker) * gay
culture (history, fiction, non-fiction * philosophy
* fiction --Scott Turow, James Ellroy, Philip Roth , Saul
Bellow * classics (Shakespeare, Balzac, Collections, Leon Uris)
NON-FICTION: Carl Sagan, Alvin Toffler,
kids books * history /political science/social science
Bernard Segal, Tim Greene, Woody Allen, Irving Stone *
cook books (joy of Cooking, Jewish cooking and more * sociology,

Shakespeare to Lenin, from Kids Books to Cook Books, Karl Marx to Mark
Twain other authors: Joan Didion, Moynahan, Bill Maher, Tolstoy,
Isherwood, Dimitrov, There are also several boxes hard bound, mint
condition, hard bound books relating to all things gay -- from
fiction, to humor, to science to politics to pictures.

Jan Goodman
(310) 458-7213 or (310) 729-2394

Thursday, August 26, 2010

What we've left in Iraq, Hamas on Peace Talks


U.S. Occupation of Iraq More Than Doubles Poverty, Sickness -- Leaves
Country a Total Disaster

The American public has no idea just how terrible we've made conditions in

Adil Shamoo
Foreign Policy in Focus: August 22, 2010

Iraq has between 25 and 50 percent unemployment, a dysfunctional parliament,
rampant disease, an epidemic of mental illness, and sprawling slums. The
killing of innocent people has become part of daily life. What a havoc the
United States has wreaked in Iraq.

UN-HABITAT, an agency of the United Nations, recently published a 218-page
report entitled State of the World's Cities, 2010-2011. The report is full
of statistics on the status of cities around the world and their
demographics. It defines slum dwellers as those living in urban centers
without one of the following: durable structures to protect them from
climate, sufficient living area, sufficient access to water, access to
sanitation facilities, and freedom from eviction.

Almost intentionally hidden in these statistics is one shocking fact about
urban Iraqi populations. For the past few decades, prior to the U.S.
invasion of Iraq in 2003, the percentage of the urban population living in
slums in Iraq hovered just below 20 percent. Today, that percentage has
risen to 53 percent: 11 million of the 19 million total urban dwellers. In
the past decade, most countries have made progress toward reducing slum
dwellers. But Iraq has gone rapidly and dangerously in the opposite

According to the U.S. Census of 2000, 80 percent of the 285 million people
living in the United States are urban dwellers. Those living in slums are
well below 5 percent. If we translate the Iraqi statistic into the U.S.
context, 121 million people in the United States would be living in slums.

If the United States had an unemployment rate of 25-50 percent and 121
million people living in slums, riots would ensue, the military would take
over, and democracy would evaporate. So why are people in the United States
not concerned and saddened by the conditions in Iraq? Because most people in
the United States do not know what happened in Iraq and what is happening
there now. Our government, including the current administration, looks the
other way and perpetuates the myth that life has improved in post-invasion
Iraq. Our major news media reinforces this message.

I had high hopes that the new administration would tell the truth to its
citizens about why we invaded Iraq and what we are doing currently in the
country. President Obama promised to move forward and not look to the past.
However problematic this refusal to examine on the past -- particularly for
historians -- the president should at least inform the U.S. public of the
current conditions in Iraq. How else can we expect our government to
formulate appropriate policy?

More extensive congressional hearings on Iraq might have allowed us to learn
about the myths propagated about Iraq prior to the invasion and the extent
of the damage and destruction our invasion brought on Iraq. We would have
learned about the tremendous increase in urban poverty and the expansion of
city slums. Such facts about the current conditions of Iraq would help U.S.
citizens to better understand the impact of the quick U.S. withdraw and what
are our moral responsibilities in Iraq should be.

Adil E. Shamoo, born and raised in Baghdad, is a professor at the University
of Maryland School of Medicine. He is a contributor to Foreign Policy In



Hamas says peace talks will deal blow to Palestinians

By Khaled Yacoub Oweis
Reuters: Aug 24, 2010

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Tuesday that peace
talks between Palestinians and Israel next week could deal a fatal blow to
the Palestinian cause.

Meshaal said in a speech in Damascus that Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas was too weak to stand up to Israel and negotiate a just deal at the
talks in Washington on September 2.

"If the talks succeed they will succeed to Israeli standards and liquidate
the Palestinian cause. They'll give us parts of 1967 lands. They'll draw the
borders as they want and they'll confiscate our sovereignty," said Meshaal,
who lives in exile in Syria, along with several Palestinian leaders.

Abbas's negotiation strategy has long been condemned by the Hamas Islamist
group which seized control of the Gaza Strip from him in 2007 and is deeply
hostile to Israel.

Hamas does not rule out peace talks with Israel if they realize what it
considers Palestinian rights.

Hamas has said it could live peacefully alongside Israel if Israel withdrew
from all Palestinian land it occupied in the 1967 Middle East War. Hamas's
1988 founding charter, however, calls for the destruction of Israel and for
restoration of all of British mandate Palestine.

"Our grievance, in a nutshell, is occupation. Our project is resistance,"
said Meshaal.

Meshaal asked Abbas and his Fatah faction to join Hamas in adopting a
Palestinian strategy that does not drop diplomacy but concentrates on the
"option on resistance and holding on to inalienable Palestinian rights."

He said Palestinian negotiators were not legitimate.

The talks are the latest chapter in a peace process which, interrupted by
several years of violence earlier this decade, has given Palestinians
limited self-rule but no state on lands occupied by Israel since 1967.

The borders of the Palestinian state, the fate of Jewish settlements built
on occupied land and the future of Jerusalem are among the tough issues that
the negotiators will face and which past talks have failed to resolve.
Rad-Green mailing list


The "mosque" debate is not a "distraction" (Glenn Greenwald)

The videos noted below are pretty frightening. What bothers me more
is the lack of mass response and uniting of liberals, unions, people
of color, many others of decency against an evolving pre-fascist
movement. Included in the vile mix are nabobs financing the rabble-
rousing who benefit from distracting the public from today's survival
issues of housing, jobs and their own rising money accumulation as
everyone else's descends. I'm neither a fanatic nor henny penny, but
fear the worst if we don't quickly form a comparable, national response.

I got this quote from Sid Shniad just after writing the above. Lincoln says
it better while demonstrating the enduring, systemic nature of the threat.


"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes
me to tremble for the safety of my country. Corporations have been enthroned
and an era of corruption in high places will follow, and the money power of
the country will endeavor to prolong its reign by working upon the
prejudices of the people until all wealth is aggregated in a few hands and
the Republic is destroyed."

President Abraham Lincoln, November 21, 1864, letter to Colonel William F.

From: Mitchel Cohen

ALSO, to view the rather astounding clips mentioned here, please click on
the links at Glenn Greenwald's blog at:

The "mosque" debate is not a "distraction"

By Glenn Greenwald
Salon: August 24, 2010 (updated)

Opponents of the Park51 Islamic community center held a rally yesterday in
Lower Manhattan, and a 4-minute video, posted below, reveals the true
sentiments behind this campaign. It has little to do with The Hallowed
Ground of the World Trade Center -- that's just the pretext -- and
everything to do with animosity toward Muslims. I dislike the tactic of
singling out one or two objectionable people or signs at a march or rally in
order to disparage the event itself. That's not what this video is.
Rather, it shows the collective sentiment of those gathered, as well as
what's driving the broader national backlash against mosques and Muslims far
beyond Ground Zero.

The episode in the video begins when, as John Cole put it, "some black guy
made the mistake of looking Muslimish and was harassed and nearly assaulted
by the collection of lily white mouth-breathers at the event . . . At about
25 seconds in, he quite astutely points out to the crowd that 'All y'all
dumb motherfuckers don't even know my opinion on shit'." As this
African-American citizen (whom the videographer claims is a union carpenter
who works at Ground Zero) is instructed to leave by what appears to be some
sort of security or law enforcement official, the crowd proceeds to yell:
"he musta voted for Obama," "Mohammed's a pig," and other assorted charming
anti-mosque slogans. I really encourage everyone to watch this to see the
toxicity this campaign has unleashed:

The New York Times article on this rally describes similar incidents,
including how a student who carried a sign that simply read "Religious
tolerance is what makes America great" was threatened and told that "that if
the police were not present, [he] would be in danger." Does anyone believe
that their real agenda is simply to have Park51 move a few blocks away to
less Sacred ground, or that they're amenable to some sort of
Howard-Dean-envisioned compromise that accommodates everyone?

All of this underscores a point I've wanted to make for awhile. There's
been a tendency, which I find increasingly irritating, to dismiss this whole
Park51 debate as some sort of petty, inconsequential August "distraction"
from what Really Matters. Here's Chuck Todd mocking the debate as a "shiny
metal object alert" and lamenting "the waste of time" he believes it to be,
while Katrina vanden Heuvel, in The Washington Post last week, condemned
"pundits and politicians [who] are working themselves into hysteria over a
mosque near Ground Zero" on the ground that it won't determine the outcome
of the midterm elections. This impulse is understandable. If you chose to
narrowly define the topic of the controversy as nothing more than the
Manhattan address of Park 51, then obviously it pales in importance to the
unemployment crisis, our ongoing wars, and countless other political issues.

But that's an artificially narrow and misguided way of understanding what
this dispute is about. The intense animosity toward Muslims driving this
campaign extends far beyond Ground Zero, and manifests in all sorts of
significant and dangerous ways. In June, The New York Times reported on a
vicious opposition campaign against a proposed mosque in Staten Island.
Earlier this month, Associated Press documented that "Muslims trying to
build houses of worship in the nation's heartland, far from the heated fight
in New York over plans for a mosque near ground zero, are running into
opponents even more hostile and aggressive." And today, The Washington Post
examines anti-mosque campaigns from communities around the nation and
concludes that "the intense feelings driving that debate have surfaced in
communities from California to Florida in recent months, raising questions
about whether public attitudes toward Muslims have shifted."

To belittle this issue as though it's the equivalent of the media's August
fixation on shark attacks or Chandra Levy -- or, worse, to want to ignore it
because it's harmful to the Democrats' chances in November -- is profoundly
irresponsible. The Park51 conflict is driven by, and reflective of, a
pervasive animosity toward a religious minority -- one that has serious
implications for how we conduct ourselves both domestically and
internationally. Yesterday, ABC News' Christiane Amanpour decided to let
Americans hear about this dispute from actual Muslims behind the project
(compare that, as Jay Rosen suggested, to David Gregory's trite and
typically homogeneous guest list of Rick Lazio and Jeffrey Goldberg and you
see why there's so much upset caused by Amanpour). One of those project
organizers, Daisy Kahn, said this during her ABC interview:

This is like a metastasized anti-Semitism. That's what we feel right now.
It's not even Islamophobia; it's beyond Islamophobia. It's hate of Muslims,
and we are deeply concerned.

Can anyone watch the video of that disgusting hate rally and dispute that?
That's exactly why I've found this conflict so significant. If Park51 ends
up moving or if opponents otherwise succeed in defeating it, it will
seriously bolster and validate the ugly premises at the heart of this
campaign: that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11, Terrorism
justifies and even compels our restricting the equals rights and access of
Americans Muslims, and more broadly, the animosity and suspicions towards
Muslims generally are justified, or at least deserving of respect. As Aziz
Poonawalla put it: "if the project does fail, then I think that the message
that will be sent is that bigotry and fear of Muslims is not just permitted,
it is effective."

That's exactly the message that will be sent, and that's what makes this
conflict so significant. Obviously, not all opponents of Park51 are as
overtly hateful as those in that video -- and not all opponents are
themselves bigots -- but the position they've adopted is inherently bigoted,
as it seeks to impose guilt and blame on a large demographic group for the
aberrational acts of a small number of individual members. And one thing
is certain: if this campaign succeeds, it will proliferate and the
sentiments driving it will become even more potent. Hatemongers always
become emboldened when they triumph.

The animosity and hatred so visible here extends far beyond the location of
mosques or even how we treat American Muslims. So many of our national
abuses, crimes and other excesses of the last decade -- torture, invasions,
bombings, illegal surveillance, assassinations, renditions, disappearances,
etc. etc. -- are grounded in endless demonization of Muslims. A citizenry
will submit to such policies only if they are vested with sufficient fear of
an Enemy. There are, as always, a wide array of enemies capable of
producing substantial fear (the Immigrants, the Gays, and, as that video
reveals, the always-reliable racial minorities), but the leading Enemy over
the last decade, in American political discourse, has been, and still is,
the Muslim.

That's why the population is willing to justify virtually anything that's
done to "them" without much resistance at all, and it's why very few people
demand evidence from the Government before believing accusations that
someone is a Terrorist: after all, if they're Muslim, that's reason enough
to believe it. Hence, the repeated, mindless mantra that those in
Guantanamo -- or those on the Government's "hit list" -- are Terrorists even
in the absence of evidence and charges, and even in the presence of ample
grounds for doubting the truth of those accusations.

And there's no end in sight: the current hysteria over Iran at its core
relies -- just as the identical campaign against Iraq did -- on the
demonization of a whole new host of Muslim villains. A population that is
constantly bombarded with tales of Muslim Evil (they want to kill your
children and explode a nuclear suitcase in your neighborhood) will be filled
with fear and hatred -- sentiments always exacerbated during times of
economic strife and uncertainty -- and very well-primed to lash out. That's
the decade-long brew that has led to this purely irrational, hate-driven
demand that they not be allowed to desecrate and infect the Sacred, Hallowed
Space of Ground Zero (the religious terminology used to talk about 9/11 is
both creepy and no accident). This "debate" over Park51 is many things. An
inconsequential "distraction" from what Really Matters is not one of them.

UPDATE: Ron Paul issued a statement today excoriating conservative
opponents of Park51 for violating their alleged belief in religious freedom
and property rights, and added:

In my opinion it has come from the neo-conservatives who demand continual
war in the Middle East and Central Asia and are compelled to constantly
justify it.

They never miss a chance to use hatred toward Muslims to rally support for
the ill conceived preventative wars. . . Defending the controversial use of
property should be no more difficult than defending the 1st Amendment
principle of defending controversial speech. But many conservatives and
liberals do not want to diminish the hatred for Islam -- the driving emotion
that keeps us in the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia. . . .

The outcry over the building of the mosque, near ground zero, implies that
Islam alone was responsible for the 9/11 attacks. According to those who are
condemning the building of the mosque, the nineteen suicide terrorists on
9/11 spoke for all Muslims. . . . . This is all about hate and Islamaphobia.

It is indeed "about hate and Islamaphobia," and that is the driving,
enabling force behind so many of America's most controversial and
destructive policies.

UPDATE II: Perhaps the most depressing aspect of this entire episode has
been the dearth of national politicians willing to stand up to this campaign
of bigotry. Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley became one of the few to issue an
unapologetic, principled, unparsed, caveat-free defense of Park51 today,
joining Ron Paul, Joe Sestak, Grover Norquist, Russ Feingold, Jerry Nadler,
Ted Olson and only a handful of others. It's particularly commendable of
Feingold and Sestak to do so given the very tight Senate races they are
fighting, and there's added weight when people like Paul, Olson, and
Norquist stand up to their own party to do so.

I'll be on MSNBC, at roughly 4:00 p.m., this afternoon, discussing these
issues, along with National Review's Cliff May.

UPDATE III: The group which sponsored this rally has a website -- the
repellently named StopThe911Mosque.com -- which is registered to The Center
for Security Policy, the group of Frank Gaffney, one of the most deranged
and dishonest right-wing extremists in the country. So it's hardly
surprising that such a rotted root gave rise to this toxic fruit (I just
unintentionally made a nice rhyme).

Speaking of deranged right-wing extremists, I was on MSNBC today debating
Park51 with Cliff May of National Review; it largely degenerated into a
cable-news screamfest, but for those interested, you can watch it here:

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

40th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium, The Emmett Till Project

I participated in the original march, representing Peace and Freedom,
continuing my work in the alliance with the Black Panther Party, the
Brown Berets and others. We all understood that cross-cultural,
progressive change was the only way to go. Oother progressive anglos
Asians and African-Americcans also participated. I do wish Carlos had
acknowledged that in this otherwise fine essay. That truth maintains.

From: Carlos Montes
40th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium Against War: March & Rally ELA
Aug. 28

Join us for the march and rally this August 28th, Saturday, assemble at
Belvedere Park, East Los Angeles, at 9 am, 1st street and Mednick for march
to Salazar Park for rally.

It is important to commemorate the Chicano Moratorium because it is part of
our history of resistance that is not always taught in history classes. This
event is also part of the long struggle of Chicanos for self-determination
and liberation. Today it is important to continue the fight against the wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq and to protest the military recruitment targeting
Chicanos and especially immigrant youth.

Carlos Montes
August 29th Chicano Moratorium Organizing Committee

40th Anniversary of the Chicano Moratorium Against the Vietnam War
A Long History of Struggle against War and Racism

By Carlos Montes

August 29, 2010, marks the 40th anniversary of the historic Chicano
Moratorium protest against the Vietnam War. On Aug. 29, 1970 over 30,000
Chicanos marched down Whittier Boulevard in the heart of East Los Angeles
protesting the Vietnam War, the high casualty rate of Chicano soldiers and
racist conditions in the barrios. The participants included youth and
families of a mainly working class community with delegations from
throughout the Southwest. The marchers chanted "¡Raza Si, Guerra No!"
inspired by the call for Chicano self-determination and opposition to the
imperialist U.S. war in Vietnam. Many Chicano youth had been drafted into
the military after being pushed out of high school. The Chicano Movement was
on the rise after several years of mass actions like the East Los Angeles
high-school walkouts of 1968, land struggles in New Mexico, strikes by the
United Farm Workers union, and the growth of new Chicano groups like the
Brown Berets and MEChA (Movemiento Estudiantil Chicano de Atzlan, a Chicano
Student Movement of the Southwest).

The mass rally held at Laguna Park by the Chicano Moratorium was brutally
attacked by the combined forces of the Los Angeles city police and the Los
Angeles county sheriffs. Whole families were beaten and tear gassed. Youth
responded by defending the rally with their bare hands against the police. A
rebellion followed for the entire day, where later Ruben Salazar, a Los
Angeles Times journalist and Spanish TV news director, was killed by a
sheriff at the Silver Dollar. He was shot in the head with a tear gas
missile projectile normally used for barricaded situations.
It is important to commemorate the Chicano Moratorium because it is part of
our history of resistance that is not always taught in history classes. This
event is also part of the long struggle of Chicanos for self-determination
and liberation. Today it is important to continue the fight against the wars
in Afghanistan and Iraq and to protest the military recruitment targeting
Chicanos and especially immigrant youth.

Jose Gutierrez was the first U.S. Marine killed in Iraq. He came from
Guatemala to Los Angeles and then joined the Marines at age 17 even though
he had no papers. Gutierrez is an example of how U.S. intervention and
support for Central American militaries trained at the School of the
Americas that massacred over 200,000 Guatemalans has driven people to the
United States. U.S.-sponsored counter-insurgency and counter-revolutions in
El Salvador and Nicaragua are other examples. The U.S. supports U.S.
business interests and brutal military regimes that attack popular movements
and democratic or socialist governments. This causes war, poverty,
displacement and mass migration to the United States.

NAFTA is an example of how U.S. policy has caused mass unemployment and
poverty in Mexico, forcing millions to come to work in the U.S. and live in
horrible conditions. Today these immigrants are facing growing numbers of
deportations, expanded use of local police to track down the undocumented
and racist laws such as Arizona's SB1070. The mass migration of Mexicans and
Central Americans to the U.S. has led to the strengthening of the
Chicano/Mexican communities and to the growth of a strong mass movement for
immigrant rights. Our fight for legalization and is part of our historical
struggle for equality and self-determination and liberation of

This is why we continue our struggle today against U.S. wars and
interventions like in Colombia, and Plan Merida in Mexico. Also we must
support movements and governments that are independent and oppose U.S.
power, like those in Bolivia and Venezuela.

We make a call for principled unity to the community and all the
organizations organizing for the Chicano Moratorium, to continue the
struggle for Chicano self-determination. In addition to the the 1970 slogan
of "¡Raza si, guerra no!" we now add "¡Raza si, Migra no!" and "¡Aquí
estamos, y no nos vamos!"

This year's march and rally is organized by several groups and will take
place on Saturday, Aug. 28. The march will start at 10:00 am at Belvedere
Park (1st Street and Mednick) and go to Salazar Park (3864 Whittier
Boulevard) for a rally. For more information call 213-712-0370.

Read more News and Views from the Peoples Struggle at
http://www.fightbacknews.org. You can write to us at info@fightbacknews.org


From: aSharpShow
Subject: S. Pearl -Emmett Till

Fri/Sat Aug. 27th and 28th 2010 8:30 p.m.

Kevin Spicer, curator of the 2005 "The Murder of Emmett Till - Fifty Years
Later," returns to Highways with a new group of performance works and
visual arts commemorating the 55th anniversary of the lynching of
14-year-old Emmett Till on Aug 28, 1955, a murder that mobilized the
Civil Rights Movement.

Join performance artists Christopher Benson, Mark Broyard, David Crittendon,
Jason Luckett, J.M. Morris, Paul Outlaw, S. Pearl Sharp, Kevin Spicer,
Pat Taylor, and visual artists Alisa Adona,Lori-Antoinette, George Evans,
Candace Hunter, Robert Lowden, Toni Scott and others.

at Highways Performance Space, in the 18th St. Arts Complex
1651 18th St, Santa Monica, CA 90404 1/2 block N. of Olympic/access from
Olympic only.

$20 ($15 students) Reservations: 310/ 315-1459 (also check Goldstar)

S. Pearl

323/ 993-6006 v.m. aSharpShow@live.com www.aSharpShow.com
The Healing Passage/Voices From The Water "Beautiful and challenging" -
Los Angeles Times
Higher Ground (CD) " Like honey to red clover tea, oh so sweet "-
Truth Theory@ Mic Check
Black Women For Beginners "A voice of humor and passion" -

Cockburn: No, the Empire Doesn't Always Win, Scientists Deplore Stem Cell Order


No, the Empire Doesn't Always Win

Alexander Cockburn
The Nation: In the August 30/September 6, 2010 edition

"The US isn't withdrawing from Iraq at all-it's rebranding the
occupation.... What is abundantly clear is that the US...has no intention of
letting go of Iraq any time soon." So declared Seumas Milne of the Guardian
on August 4.

Milne is not alone among writers on the left arguing that even though most
Americans think it's all over, Uncle Sam still rules the roost in Iraq. They
point to 50,000 US troops in ninety-four military bases, "advising" and
training the Iraqi army, "providing security" and carrying out
"counterterrorism" missions. Outside US government forces there is what
Jeremy Scahill calls the "coming surge" of contractors in Iraq, swelling up
from the present 100,000. "The advantage of an outsourced occupation," Milne
writes, "is clearly that someone other than US soldiers can do the dying to
maintain control of Iraq."

"Can Iraq now be regarded as a tolerably secure outpost of the American
system in the Middle East?" Tariq Ali asked in New Left Review earlier this
year. He answered himself judiciously: "[Iraqis] have reason to exult, and
reason to doubt." But the thrust of his analysis depicts Iraq as still the
pawn of the US empire, with a "predominantly Shia army-some 250,000
strong...trained and armed to the teeth to deal with any resurgence of the

The bottom line, as drawn by Milne and Ali, is oil. Milne gestures to the
"dozen 20-year contracts to run Iraq's biggest oil fields that were handed
out last year to foreign companies."

Is it really true that, though the US troop presence has dropped by almost
100,000 in eighteen months, Iraq is as much under Uncle Sam's imperial
jackboot as it was in, say, 2004, even though US troops no longer patrol the
streets? If Iraq's political affairs are under US control, how come the US
Embassy-deployed in its Vatican City-size compound, mostly as vacant as a
foreclosed subdivision in Riverside, California-cannot knock Iraqi heads
together and bid them form a government? Those 50,000 troops broiling in
their costly bases are scarcely a decisive factor in Iraq's internal
affairs. Neither are the private contractors, whose military role should not
be oversold, unless the Shiites are supposed to quail before ill-paid
Peruvians, Ugandan cops and the like.

Is a Shiite-dominated government really to America's taste and nothing more
than its pawn? It was Sistani, denounced by Ali as America's creature, who
called Bush on his pledge of free elections in 2005, thus downsizing the
excessive representation of the Sunnis, who chose to boycott the elections
anyway. And if all this was a devious ploy to break "the Iraqi resistance,"
by which Ali means the Sunnis, why does the United States constantly invoke
the menace of Shiite Iran and decry its influence in Iraq?

If the Sunni "resistance," honored without qualification by Ali, ever had a
strategy beyond a sectarian agenda, it wasn't advanced by blowing up Shiite
pilgrims and setting off bombs in marketplaces. Muqtada al-Sadr, lamented by
Ali as sidelined by the United States and Sistani, has been described as the
"kingmaker" since his success in the parliamentary election this past March.

If this really was a "war for oil," it scarcely went well for the United
States. Run your eye down the list of contracts the Iraqi government awarded
in June and December 2009. Prominent is Russia's Lukoil, which, in
partnership with Norway's Statoil, won the rights to West Qurna Phase Two, a
12.9 billion-barrel supergiant oilfield. Other successful bidders for
fixed-term contracts included Russia's Gazprom and Malaysia's Petronas. Only
two US-based oil companies came away with contracts: ExxonMobil partnered
with Royal Dutch Shell on a contract for West Qurna Phase One (8.7 billion
barrels in reserves); and Occidental shares a contract in the Zubair field
(4 billion barrels), in company with Italy's ENI and South Korea's Kogas.
The huge Rumaila field (17 billion barrels) yielded a contract for BP and
the China National Petroleum Company, and Royal Dutch Shell split the 12.6
billion-barrel Majnoon field with Petronas, 60-40.

Throughout the two auctions there were frequent bleats from the oil
companies at the harsh terms imposed by the auctioneers representing Iraq,
as this vignette from Reuters about the bidding on the northern Najmah field
suggests: "Sonangol also won the nearby 900-million-barrel Najmah oilfield
in Nineveh.... Again, the Angolan firm had to cut its price and accept a fee
of $6 per barrel, less than the $8.50 it had sought. 'We are expecting a
little bit higher. Can you go a little bit higher?' Sonangol's exploration
manager Paulino Jeronimo asked Iraqi Oil Minister Hussain al-Shahristani to
spontaneous applause from other oil executives. Shahristani said, 'No.'"

So either the all-powerful US government was unable to fix the auctions to
its liking or the all-powerful US-based oil companies mostly decided the
profit margins weren't sufficiently tempting. Either way, the "war for oil"
isn't in very good shape.

Ali and Milne are being credulous in taking at face value declarations by US
officials that the United States is not wholly withdrawing and will stay in
business in Iraq for the foreseeable future. Those officials don't want to
see their influence go to zilch, so they have to maintain that their power
in Iraq is only a little affected by the steady reduction of troops.

The left-or a substantial slice of it-snatches defeat from the jaws of a
decisive victory over US plans for Iraq by proclaiming that America has
established what Milne calls "a new form of outsourced semi-colonial regime
to maintain its grip on the country and region." Yes, Iraq is in
ruins-always the default consequence of American imperial endeavors. The
left should hammer home the message that the US onslaught on Iraq, in terms
of its proclaimed objectives, was a strategic and military disaster. That's
the lesson to bring home.

Alexander Cockburn



WASHINGTON - The Obama administration said Tuesday that it would appeal a
court ruling challenging the legality of President Obama's rules governing
human embryonic stem cell research, as the head of the National Institutes
of Health said the decision would most likely force the cancellation of
dozens of experiments in diseases ranging from diabetes to Parkinson's

- - -


Scientists Attack Court Ruling Against Barack Obama's Stem Cell Policy

Order blocking government funding of stem cell research is a serious setback
in search for cures to diseases, say scientists

by Chris McGreal
The Guardian/UK: August 24, 2010

American scientists have reacted with anger at a court ruling that strikes
down Barack Obama's decision to greatly expand medical research using stem
cells taken from human embryos.

Scientists described the order by a federal judge in Washington, who said
that the president had overstepped a law barring the government funding of
research in which human embryos are destroyed, as "deplorable" and "a
serious setback" in the search for cures to major diseases.

Lawyers for an alliance of Christian groups who brought the case, which tied
opposition to experiments on embryonic stem cells to the anti-abortion
campaign, said the ruling appeared to go further than restrictions under
President George Bush and bar all government funding for such research. It
also pushes the ever-contentious issue of abortion to the fore again in the
runup to November's mid-term elections and presents Obama with the difficult
choice of whether he wants a battle in the courts and in Congress to repeal
the legislation.

The court order came after an executive order by Obama in March last year
that lifted restrictions put in place by Bush eight years earlier. Those
restrictions limited government funding to a small number of existing lines
of human embryonic stem cells. The administration had allocated about $250m
(£160m) to the research. The National Institutes of Health added an
additional 70 lines after Obama's order. But Judge Royce Lamberth ruled that
the president's decision was in conflict with the Dickey-Wicker amendment, a
1996 law that bars the use of government funds for "research in which a
human embryo or embryos are destroyed". The law has been renewed by Congress
each year.

Scientists swiftly condemned the ruling. The California Institute for
Regenerative Medicine (Cirm) said the court order would disrupt advances in
research for cures to diseases such as diabetes and Lou Gehrig's. "The
decision is a deplorable brake on all stem cell research," said Cirm's
president, Alan Trounson. "Many discoveries with other cell types ... would
not happen without ongoing research in human embryonic stem cells."

Steven Aden, a lawyer for the Alliance Defence Fund which brought the case,
said: "We're gratified that the court accepted what we think is a plain and
commonsense reading of the applicable law and we're hopeful that ultimately
this will result in the renewal of good, science-based funding for adult
stem cell research."

Scientists were also left confused over whether they had to immediately halt
embryonic stem cell work paid for with government funds or if the ruling
only prevented federal authorities from distributing more grants.

Cirm said the order appeared to bar research permitted even under the
tighter regulations imposed by Bush.

Aden said he believed the ruling prohibits any government-funded research
involving embryonic stem cells.

"We think that's right. When congress passed the Dickey-Wicker amendment
back in the days of the Clinton administration the reason for that was to
get the American public out of funding research that involves the
destruction of human life," he said.

An opinion poll by the Pew foundation last year found that 54% of Americans
support research using human embryos.

© 2010 Guardian News and Media Limited