July 22, 2014

Word: Where the Palestinian crisis began

Donna Nevel, a community psychologist and educator, is a long-time organizer for peace and justice in Palestine/Israel. Most recently, she was a founding member of Jews Say No!, is on the board of Jewish Voice for Peace, and is a member of the coordinating committee of the Nakba Education Project--US.

Donna Nevel - As Israeli government violence against the Palestinians in Gaza intensifies (the latest news being an aggressive ground invasion), I saw a discussion on-line about whether Israel has become more brutal or the brutality has simply become more visible to the public.

I remembered listening to Benjamin Netanyahu when he was at MIT in the 1970's. He called himself Bibi Nitai and said he was in self-exile until the Labor Party, which he despised, was out of power. He spoke contemptuously about Arabs, and predicted he would be the leader of Israel someday and would protect the Jewish state in the way it deserved. The immediate response many of us had was: "Heaven help us all if he ever gets into power in Israel."

I also remember the many Israeli leaders I met in the 1970's from Labor and Mapam and from smaller parties on the "Zionist left" who seemed kind and caring and markedly different from Benjamin Netanyahu-and in many ways they were, not just in their political rhetoric (they all said they were socialists) but as human beings, or so it seemed. But when I finally dug a little deeper and read my history, I learned how they, too, were participants-in fact, often leaders-in the plan to drive the Palestinians out of their homes and off their land. Nothing very kind or caring about that, to say the least.

The bottom line: Israel was created based on the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians from their land and from their homes (what Palestinians call the Nakba, the catastrophe). This is the heart of the problem.

In some circles, particularly among "progressive" Zionists, the terrible injustice done to the Palestinians is acknowledged, but as awful as the Nakba was, they say, it was what had to be done to create and ensure the security of the Jewish state. (The most recent proponent of this position is Israeli writer Avi Shavit.) It was a terrible price that had to be paid, he and others concede. To be clear, the price was paid by the Palestinians-that is, the killing and expulsion of Palestinians for the sake of Jewish safety. And quite simply, the only way you can think that - that you can excuse the Nakba- is to believe that Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives.

And isn't that what we are seeing today? If Jewish lives matter more than Palestinian lives-if, as the argument goes, the Nakba had to happen so that Jews could be "safe"-doesn't the brutal violence we see so casually inflicted on the people of Gaza by the Israeli government follow from, in fact, isn't it embedded in, that history? (And it's ironic to note that large numbers of the Palestinians in Gaza are from families that fled there during the Nakba in 1948 as refugees from cities and villages in what became Israel.)

That is why I believe those of us working in our own communities-in my case, the Jewish community-need to make sure everyone not only knows about the Nakba but understands that this is the heart of the issue. And that central to the achievement of the "Zionist dream" has been that Jewish lives matter more than Arab lives.

Israel hiring students to troll social media sites

USA Today - Israel is looking to hire university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks — without needing to identify themselves as government-linked, officials said Wednesday.

The Israeli prime minister's office said in a statement that students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to combat anti-Semitism and calls to boycott Israel online. It said students' messages would parallel statements by government officials.

"This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption," the statement said.

The war crimes Israel and Obama are committing

Shamus Cooke, Anti-War - The two most glaring war crimes Israel is committing – as defined by the Geneva Convention – are the concepts of “collective punishment” and “necessity and proportionality.”

Under collective punishment, a warring party cannot respond to an attack by waging war on the attacker’s community, as is clearly happening in Gaza. The clearest proof that collective punishment is being used is that a 1,000 Gaza homes have been destroyed and the majority of the casualties are civilians.

Under “necessity and proportionality” a warring party must only use the amount of force necessary to defeat the opponent; disproportional force is a crime. So, for example, if Hamas fires wimpy rockets that kill virtually no Israelis, then it is “disproportionate” for Israel to rain massive bombs, missiles, and artillery to reduce large sections of Gaza to rubble. Even Britain’s Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg called the Israel attack a “deliberately disproportionate form of collective punishment.”

It is also a specific war crime to deliberately attack civilians, and especially to attack facilities treating the wounded. But Israel has attacked al-Aqsa hospital in Gaza four times, according to Reuters. The latest shelling of al-Aqsa killed 4 and wounded 70.

Even the pro-western Human Rights Watch has denounced Israel for committing war crimes:

“Israeli air attacks in Gaza investigated by Human Rights Watch have been targeting apparent civilian structures and killing civilians in violation of the laws of war.”

Obama’s aiding and abetting Israeli war crimes is also closed to debate, since his administration stands guilty from the very beginning of the conflict by shielding Israel from international political pressure, hiding its war crimes by deliberate misrepresenting what is happening, and giving political space for the war to continue by not intervening directly.

It was a blatantly laughable lie when Obama said that his government was “using all means” to achieve a ceasefire early in the conflict.

The U.S. influence over Israel is tremendous, and Obama could have ended the conflict in the first hour by simply declaring, “If Israel does not stop its attack on Gaza, the US will refuse further military and financial assistance and sever all diplomatic and political ties.” War over.

California drought update

LA Times -Te groundwater level in the San Bernardino Basin area is at its lowest point in recorded history, officials say.
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Measured in volume, the groundwater level for the basin is now about 500,000 acre-feet below full, according to Douglas Headrick, general manager for the San Bernardino Valley Municipal Water District.

That would put it below the previous low recorded in 1964, a period that followed a 20-year drought, officials said.

CORECTION: Mandela on Palestine

The letter we posted a few minutes ago allegedly from Mandela to Thomas Friedman was actually a satirical piece. According to The Electronic Intifada, this article was written by Arjan El Fassed in 2001 in the satirical style then being employed by Thomas Friedman, of writing mock letters from one world leader to another. Although it carries El Fassed’s byline, it has been repeatedly mistaken for an actual letter from Mandela. It is not. It is a piece of satire and has never been presented by EI as anything other than satire. El Fassed has written this history of the piece and how it subsequently was mistaken for a real letter, on his personal blog.

Here are some actual thoughts of Mandela on Palestine as reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2013:

Haaretz - A survey of some of Mandela’s comments on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict evince that he was indeed highly critical of the Israeli occupation and the absence of an independent Palestine from map of the world. But Mandela fully endorsed Israel’s right to exist – and thought the Arabs states would need to reconcile fully with Israel in the context of a peace agreement.

“To the many people who have questioned why I came, I say: Israel worked very closely with the apartheid regime. I say: I’ve made peace with many men who slaughtered our people like animals. Israel cooperated with the apartheid regime, but it did not participate in any atrocities…My view is that talk of peace remains hollow if Israel continues to occupy Arab lands.” - to reporters during a visit to Israel in 1999, following a meeting with Israeli Foreign Minister David Levy.

“I cannot conceive of Israel withdrawing if Arab states do not recognize Israel within secure borders.” – Israel visit in 1999

"We know too well that our freedom is incomplete without the freedom of the Palestinians.” - Speech in Pretoria 1997 for International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people

“When in 1977, the United Nations passed the resolution inaugurating the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people, it was asserting the recognition that injustice and gross human rights violations were being perpetrated in Palestine. In the same period, the UN took a strong stand against apartheid; and over the years, an international consensus was built, which helped to bring an end to this iniquitous system." - Speech in Pretoria 1997 for International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian people

Jazz break

MONTY ALEXANDER: SATIN DOLL

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Massive retaliation reported in Veterans Administration

Lydia Dennett, Project on Government Oversight - In California, a Department of Veterans Affairs inpatient pharmacy supervisor was placed on administrative leave and ordered not to speak out after protesting what he described as errors and delays in the delivery of medications to patients.

In Pennsylvania, a former VA doctor was removed from clinical work and forced to spend his days in an office with nothing to do, he told the Project On Government Oversight. This action occurred after he complained that, in medical emergencies, physicians who were supposed to be on call were failing or refusing to report to the hospital. “There’s a culture of bullying employees….It’s just a culture of harassment that goes on if you report wrongdoing.”

In Appalachia, a former VA nurse was bullied by management and forced out of her job after complaining that patients with serious injuries were being neglected, she told POGO. “Such an upsetting thing for a nurse just to see this blatant neglect occur almost on a daily basis. It was not only overlooked but appeared to be embraced,” she said. “

These people are among the hundreds who contacted POGO over the past several weeks after we joined forces with Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America to seek inside perspectives on the Department of Veterans Affairs. Together, we and IAVA created the website VAOversight.org and asked people within the VA system to share their stories.

In its 33-year history, POGO has never received as many submissions on a single issue—nearly 800 current and former VA employees and veterans contacted us. POGO reviewed each of the submissions, and the comments indicate that concerns about the VA go far beyond long or falsified wait times for medical appointments; they extend to the quality of health care services veterans receive.

POGO received allegations of wrongdoing from 35 states and the District of Columbia, and in the limited time we have had thus far to analyze the information, a recurring and fundamental theme has become clear: VA employees across the country fear they will face repercussions if they dare to raise a dissenting voice.

Top foreign aid recipients per capita

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How Israel helped to create Hamas

Richard Sale, UPI, June 18, 2002 - Israel and Hamas may currently be locked in deadly combat, but, according to several current and former U.S. intelligence officials, beginning in the late 1970s, Tel Aviv gave direct and indirect financial aid to Hamas over a period of years.

Israel "aided Hamas directly -- the Israelis wanted to use it as a counterbalance to the PLO" said Tony Cordesman, Middle East analyst for the Center for Strategic Studies.

Israel's support for Hamas "was a direct attempt to divide and dilute support for a strong, secular PLO by using a competing religious alternative," said a former senior CIA official.

... According to U.S. administration officials, funds for the movement came from the oil-producing states and directly and indirectly from Israel. The PLO was secular and leftist and promoted Palestinian nationalism. Hamas wanted to set up a transnational state under the rule of Islam, much like Khomeini's Iran.

What took Israeli leaders by surprise was the way the Islamic movements began to surge after the Iranian revolution, after armed resistance to Israel sprang up in southern Lebanon
A further factor of Hamas' growth was the fact the PLO moved its base of operations to Beirut in the '80s, leaving the Islamic organization to grow in influence in the Occupied Territories "as the court of last resort," he said.

When the intifada began, Israeli leadership was surprised when Islamic groups began to surge in membership and strength. Hamas immediately grew in numbers and violence. The group had always embraced the doctrine of armed struggle, but the doctrine had not been practiced and Islamic groups had not been subjected to suppression the way groups like Fatah had been, according to U.S. government officials.

But with the triumph of the Khomeini revolution in Iran, with the birth of Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorism in Lebanon, Hamas began to gain in strength in Gaza and then in the West Bank, relying on terror to resist the Israeli occupation.

Israel was certainly funding the group at that time. One U.S. intelligence source who asked not to be named said that not only was Hamas being funded as a "counterweight" to the PLO, Israeli aid had another purpose: "To help identify and channel towards Israeli agents Hamas members who were dangerous terrorists."

In addition, by infiltrating Hamas, Israeli informers could only listen to debates on policy and identify Hamas members who "were dangerous hard-liners," the official said.

In the end, as Hamas set up a very comprehensive counterintelligence system, many collaborators with Israel were weeded out and shot. Violent acts of terrorism became the central tenet, and Hamas, unlike the PLO, was unwilling to compromise in any way with Israel, refusing to acquiesce in its very existence.

But even then, some in Israel saw some benefits to be had in trying to continue to give Hamas support: "The thinking on the part of some of the right-wing Israeli establishment was that Hamas and the others, if they gained control, would refuse to have any part of the peace process and would torpedo any agreements put in place," said a U.S. government official who asked not to be named.

All of which disgusts some former U.S. intelligence officials.

"The thing wrong with so many Israeli operations is that they try to be too sexy," said former CIA official Vincent Cannestraro.

According to former State Department counter-terrorism official Larry Johnson, "the Israelis are their own worst enemies when it comes to fighting terrorism."

"The Israelis are like a guy who sets fire to his hair and then tries to put it out by hitting it with a hammer."

"They do more to incite and sustain terrorism than curb it," he said.

... Cordesman said that a similar attempt by Egyptian intelligence to fund Egypt's fundamentalists had also come to grief because of "misreading of the complexities."


Warmest June on record

Rural Blog - The earth continues to experience record-breaking temperatures. Last month was the hottest June on record, following a trend in which the previous month was the hottest May on record, according to a report from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

"Primarily, it was the oceans of the world that pushed the mercury into the red zone," Angela Fritz reports for The Washington Post.

Book: Israel tried to blackmail Clinton over Lewinsky

As noted below, we reported a NY Post account of this 15 years ago.

Daily Mail, UK According to a new book, tapes of Bill Clinton’s steamy phone sex with Monica Lewinsky posed a threat to national security and resulted in a not-so-subtle ‘blackmail’ attempt by the Prime Minister of Israel, who used the torrid exchanges to try to ‘convince’ the President to secure the release of an American spying for the Israelis.

The book, Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine by Weekly Standard editor Daniel Halper, has. . . been widely leaked and have already been the subject of numerous news reports.

Halper reports evidence that not only the Israelis but also the British and Russians had ‘scooped up’ the microwaves off the top of the White House and taped Clinton's phone sex conversations with Monica – and perhaps other women.

According to allegations in the book, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used the tapes to try to persuade Clinton to release Jonathan Pollard, an American caught and jailed for spying for Israel.

Progresive Review, 1999 - Neal Travis of the New York Post reports that, according to a new book on the Mossad, Israel blackmailed President Clinton with 30 hours of tapes of his phone sex talks with Monica Lewinsky. The agency allegedly agreed not to release the material in return for Clinton calling off an FBI hunt for a top-level Israeli mole supposedly in the White House. The allegation appears in "Gideon's Spies - The Secret History of the Mossad," written by Gordon Thomas. Lewinsky testified under oath that after a session of heavy petting and oral sex in the White House, Clinton told her a foreign embassy was tapping the two phone lines in her DC apartment. She claims Clinton told her that if questioned they should say they knew their calls were being bugged and were only joking to fool the tappers. Kenneth Starr does not pursue the matter. Thomas tells the NYP: "So far as anyone knows, the Israeli agent MEGA - a much more important spy than the imprisoned CIA traitor Jonathan Pollard, and probably his controller - is still in place at the White House."

Stupid Florida tricks

WFTV, Fl - Pull up or pay up: It's now illegal to wear low pants that expose underwear or bare buttocks in parts of Ocala.

Th City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve an ordinance that prohibits anyone on city property from wearing pants 2 inches below their natural waist.

"I just think it's disgraceful to show your underwear," Councilwoman Mary Rich said.

Residents who talked with Channel 9 on Thursday said they think young black men and teens will take the brunt of the new ordinance.

"I think this is a form of harassment," said resident Curt Brown. "(It) gets you pulled to the side, (so they can) harass you, search you and have a right to do whatever they want to."

Police blotter

Baltimore Sun - Johns Hopkins Hospital has agreed to pay $190 million to settle claims from thousands of women who may have been surreptitiously recorded during pelvic exams by gynecologist Dr. Nikita A. Levy.

The amount of the settlement is one of the largest on record involving sexual misconduct by a physician. Levy, a doctor in the Johns Hopkins Community Medicine system for 25 years, took his life in February 2013 during an investigation that revealed he was using tiny cameras concealed in pens and key fobs to record patients.

Investigators found more than 1,300 videos and images during searches of Levy's home and office. Plaintiffs' attorneys estimate more than 8,000 patients could have a claim.

Because the women could not be identified from the images, all former patients could be considered victims. Anyone treated by Levy has been affected by a feeling of "betrayal" and an invasion of doctor-patient confidentiality, said Jonathan Schochor, the lead attorney for the patients

Obamacare in big trouble

Kaiser Health News - In what could be a major blow to the Affordable Care Act, a three-judge panel for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington ruled Tuesday that subsidies may not be offered in the federal health exchange. The decision overturned a lower court ruling. You can read the decision here.

The Washington Post: Federal Appeals Court Panel Deals Major Blow To Health Law A federal appeals court panel in the District struck down a major part of the 2010 health-care law Tuesday, ruling that the tax subsidies that are central to the program may not be provided in at least half of the states. ... The government could request an “en banc” hearing, putting the case before the entire appeals court, and the question ultimately may end up at the Supreme Court. But if subsidies for half the states are barred, it represents a potentially crippling blow to the health-care law, which relies on the subsidies to make insurance affordable for millions of low- and middle-income Americans (Somashekhar, 7/22).

Government goes beserk in selecting possible terrorists

Courthouse News - Five California men sued the Department of Justice, claiming they were entered into a counterterrorism database for innocent activities such as a professional photographer taking pictures, a computer consultant buying computers at Best Buy, and in one case, waiting for one's mother at a train station. The lawsuit, filed by the ACLU and the Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus on behalf of lead plaintiff Wiley Gill et al., challenges the Suspicious Activity Reports database, which flags people with potential connections to terrorism. 

The men, all U.S. citizens, say they were put into the database for innocuous activities such as photographing landmarks, or viewing a website about videos in his own home. One says his "suspicious activity" was "standing outside a restroom at a train station while waiting for his mother." The reports are part of the National Suspicious Activity Reporting Initiative, in which the federal government encourages state and local law enforcement agencies to collect and report information that may be connected to terrorism.

The reports are maintained in various counterterrorism databases and disseminated to law enforcement agencies across the country, according to the complaint. "An individual who is reported in a SAR is flagged as a person with a potential nexus to terrorism and automatically falls under law enforcement scrutiny which may include intrusive questioning by local or federal law enforcement agents. Even when the Federal Bureau of Investigation concludes that the person did not have any nexus to terrorism, a SAR can haunt that individual for decades, as SARs remain in federal databases for up to 30 years," the complaint states.

... Gill, a custodian at a state university who converted to Islam while a student, had his name put in the database after being identified as a "Suspicious Male Subject in Possession of Flight Simulator Game," according to the lawsuit. The report was filed after a search by the Chico Police Department in 2012. The report states that "Mr. Gill's computer displayed a screen titled something to the effect of 'Games that fly under the radar,' which appeared to be a 'flight simulator type of game.' The SAR concludes by describing Mr. Gill's 'full conversion to Islam as a young WMA [white, male adult],' 'pious demeanor,' and 'potential access to flight simulation via the internet' as 'worthy of note,'" the complaint states. (Brackets in complaint.)

In reality, Gill believes he was viewing a website about a video game on his computer at home, the complaint states. "The only reason that someone deemed Mr. Gill 'suspicious' is because he is a devout Muslim, not because he has done anything wrong," Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Asian Law Caucus attorney Nasrina Bargzie said in a statement. "With such a lax standard, it's not surprising that the result is religious profiling of this nature. Racial and religious profiling of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian communities needs to stop."

Khaled Ibrahim, a U.S. citizen of Egyptian descent who works for a computer network consulting and service company, was flagged for trying to make a bulk purchase of computers from a Best Buy retail store as a purchasing agent for his company, the complaint states.

Tariq Razak, a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent who works in the biotech industry, is identified in one of the reports as a "Male of Middle Easter decent [sic] observed surveying entry/exit points" at the Santa Ana Train Depot. He is described as exiting the facility with "a female wearing a white burka head dress," according to the complaint. Razak was trying to find his way to the county employment resource center, inside the depot, for an appointment. The woman with him was his mother, the complaint states.

... Despite a 1978 Justice Department regulation prohibiting the collection and dissemination of criminal intelligence unless "there is a reasonable suspicion that the individual is involved in criminal activity," the Justice Department's standard for SARS requires only behavior that may be indicative of terrorism planning, according to the lawsuit. "The Justice Department's own rules say that there should be reasonable suspicion before creating a record on someone, but the government's instructions to local police are that they should write up SARs even if there's no valid reason to suspect a person of doing anything wrong," ACLU staff attorney Linda Lye said in the statement.

Book; Bill Clinton's girlfriend has a Secret Service code name

Page Six - Bill Clinton reportedly has a buxom blond mistress who visits so often when Hillary Clinton isn’t home in Chappaqua that the former president’s Secret Service detail have given her an unofficial code name: Energizer.

This is according to Ronald Kessler in “The First Family Detail: Secret Service Agents Reveal the Hidden Lives of Presidents,” due Aug. 5 from Crown Forum.

Kessler is no stranger to the controversies surrounding the Secret Service.

He broke the story that Secret Service agents protecting President Obama in Cartagena, Colombia, hired prostitutes, and put the president in jeopardy.

The book, portions of which I’ve obtained, says none of the normal protocols are followed when Energizer arrives in her SUV, sometimes just minutes after Hillary has left the Westchester house.

Kessler quotes a supervisor informing a new agent: “You don’t stop her, you don’t approach her, you just let her go in.”

Energizer, who is described as charming and friendly, sometimes brought cookies to the agents, according to the book excerpts.

One told Kessler: “It was a warm day, and she was wearing a low-cut tank top, and as she leaned over, her breasts were very exposed. They appeared to be very perky and very new and full…There was no doubt in my mind they were enhanced.”

Kessler also reports that Hillary’s Secret Service detail informs Bill’s Secret Service detail when the former First Lady is coming home, so Bill has time to get Energizer off the property and clean up any evidence.

But once, the warning came late. “The agents had to scramble to get Energizer out of there so there wasn’t some kind of big confrontation.”

Kessler also reveals that Hillary is routinely rude to the agents who are sworn to take a bullet for her.

“Because she is so nasty to agents and hostile to law enforcement officers and military officers in general, agents consider being assigned to her detail a form of punishment,” Kessler wrote.

And they don’t get any cookies.

Bill’s representatives did not answer requests for comment.

Ronald Kessler was a reporter for the Washington Post, has written 20 books and won two Polk Awards. This story adds flame to rumors that Bill Clinton doesn't want his wife to win the White House as it might give her a history leg up over him and restrict his life style. - TPR

Beef production far more damaging to environment than other livestock

 As a comment below notes, this study aggregates - but does not distinguish between - pasture raised and heavily corn fed cattle. Scientific Blogging notes: "Cattle grazing on arid land in the western half of the US use enormous amounts of land, but relatively little irrigation water. Cattle in feedlots, on the other hand, eat mostly corn, which requires less land, but much more irrigation and nitrogen fertilizer. The researchers needed to account for these differences, but determine aggregate figures that reflect current practices and thus approximate the true environmental cost for each food item." in fact, the report should have distinguished between the two.

BBC - A new study suggests that the production of beef is around 10 times more damaging to the environment than any other form of livestock.

Scientists measured the environment inputs required to produce the main US sources of protein.

Beef cattle need 28 times more land and 11 times more irrigation water than pork, poultry, eggs or dairy.

The research has been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

While it has long been known that beef has a greater environmental impact than other meats, the authors of this paper say theirs is is the first to quantify the scale in a comparative way.

Obama support DC statehood

The Hill - President Obama said Monday that as a Washington, D.C., resident he supported statehood for the District of Columbia’s 650,000 inhabitants.

"I'm in D.C., so I'm for it," Obama said Monday at a town-hall event to promote his "My Brother's Keeper" program.

"I've long believed that folks in D.C. pay taxes like everybody else. They contribute to the overall well-being of the country like everybody else. They should be represented like everybody else," Obama added.

The president said there was no reason based on population size to deny the district's residents statehood. But he acknowledged that the politics in Congress on D.C. statehood would be "difficult."

The movement for DC statehood began right on these pages in our former guise as the DC Gazette. Three months later, your editor joined a small group of activists led by Julius Hobson to form the DC Statehood movement.

A doctor moves from Tokyo because of radiation

Shigeru Mita, Newsletter of Association of Doctors in Kodaira, Metropolitan Tokyo -  To my fellow doctorsI closed the clinic in March 2014, which had served the community of Kodaira for more than 50 years, since my father’s generation, and I have started a new Mita clinic in Okayama-city on April 21.

I had been a member of the board of directors in the Kodaira medical association since the 1990’s, the time I started practicing medicine at my father’s clinic. For the last 10 years, I had worked to establish a disaster emergency response in the city.

... I have been worried about the possibility of radiation contamination in Tokyo, so I had repeatedly requested the medical association, the municipal government and the local public health department to stock medical iodine. However, every time my request was turned down; the reason given was that Tokyo did not expect such an event. Hence there was no plan for preparing for the event.

In the afternoon of March 11, 2011, Tokyo experienced slow but great motions in the earthquake...The temperature of the reactors in Fukushima Daiichi NPP rose and it caused massive explosions, followed by meltdowns and melt-through.

It is clear that Eastern Japan and Metropolitan Tokyo have been contaminated with radiation.

....Since December 2011, I have conducted thyroid ultrasound examinations, thyroid function tests, general blood tests and biochemical tests on about 2000 people, mostly families in the Tokyo metropolitan area expressing concerns on the effects of radiation. I have observed that white blood cells, especially neutrophils, are decreasing among children under the age of 10. There are cases of significant decline in the number of neutrophils in 0-1 year-olds born after the earthquake. In both cases, conditions tend to improve by moving to Western Japan. Patients report nosebleed, hair loss, lack of energy, subcutaneous bleeding, visible urinary hemorrhage, skin inflammations, coughs and various other non-specific symptoms.

Kodaira, in western Tokyo, is one of the least-contaminated areas in Kanto; however, we began to notice changes in children’s blood test results around mid-2013 even in this area. Contamination in Tokyo is progressing, and further worsened by urban radiation concentration, or the effect by which urban sanitation systems such as the sewage system, garbage collection and incineration condense radiation, because contaminated waste is gathered and compressed. Data measured by citizens’ groups showed that radiation levels on the riverbeds of Kawabori River in Higashiyamato and Higashimurayama in Tokyo have increased drastically in the last 1-2 years.

Other concerns I have include symptoms reported by general patients, such as persistent asthma and sinusitis. The patients show notable improvement once they move away.

I also observe high occurrences of rheumatic polymyalgia characterized by complaints such as “difficulty turning over,” “inability to dress and undress,” and “inability to stand up” among my middle-aged and older patients. Could these be the same symptoms of muscle rheumatism that were recorded in Chernobyl?

Changes are also noticeable in the manifestation of contagious diseases such as influenza, hand-foot-and-mouth disease and shingles.

Many patients report experiencing unfamiliar symptoms or sensing unusual changes in their bodies. Perhaps they feel comfortable speaking to me, knowing that my clinic posted signs informing of possible radiation-related symptoms immediately after the nuclear accident. Many young couples with small children and women worried about their grandchildren visit my clinic and earnestly engage in the discussion, and there is not a single patient who resists my critical views on the impacts of radiation.

Ever since 3.11, everybody living in Eastern Japan including Tokyo is a victim, and everybody is involved.

We discovered that our knowledge from the discipline of radiology was completely useless in the face of a nuclear disaster. The keyword here is “long-term low-level internal irradiation.” This differs greatly from medical irradiation or simple external exposure to radiation. I do not want to get involved in political issues; nonetheless, I must state that the policies of the WHO, the IAEA or the Japanese government cannot be trusted. They are simply far too distanced from the harsh realities that people in Chernobyl still face today.

... Residents of Tokyo are unfortunately not in the position to pity the affected regions of Tohoku because they are victims themselves. Time is running short. I took an earlier step forward and evacuated to the west. My fellow doctors of medicine, I am waiting for you here. And to the people in Eastern Japan still hesitating, all my support goes to facilitating and enabling your evacuation, relocation, or a temporary relief in Western Japan.

New battle: marijuana vs. water

Indian Country - The drought in California is exacerbating the effect that illegal marijuana farms have on the Yurok ’s water supply, and on July 21 federal and state agencies raided several properties on or adjoining the reservation along the Klamath River.

The Yurok are not the only ones contending with the effects of illegal pot grows on their lands. The Hoopa Tribe has been actively combating incursions as well.

Even without the ongoing and worsening drought, the farms put a strain on Yurok life in a number of ways. Rat poison kills sacred fish and other animals, lower water levels become too warm and unhealthy for salmon to spawn in, and water pressure is just about nil on the reservation.

"They're stealing millions and millions of gallons of water, and it's impacting our ecosystem," Yurok Tribal Chairman Thomas O'Rourke said during the raid, according to the Los Angeles Times. "We can no longer make it into our dance places, our women and children can't leave the road to gather. We can't hunt. We can't live the life we've lived for thousands of years."

“We are coming close to being prisoners in our own land,” O’Rourke said. “Everything we stand for, everything we do is impacted.”

Pocket paradigms

We need a trial to judge all those who bear significant responsibility for the past century - the most murderous and ecologically destructive in human history. We could call it the war, air and fiscal crimes tribunal and we could put politicians and CEOs and major media owners in the dock with earphones like Eichmann and make them listen to the evidence of how they killed millions of people and almost murdered the planet and made most of us far more miserable than we needed to be. Of course, we wouldn't have time to go after them one by one. We'd have to lump Wall Street investment bankers in one trial, the Council on Foreign Relations in another, and any remaining Harvard Business School or Yale Law graduates in a third. We don't need this for retribution, only for edification. So there would be no capital punishment, but rather banishment to an overseas Nike factory with a vow of perpetual silence.- Sam Smith

Word

Oppression and harassment are a small price to live in the land of the free - C. Montgomery Burns, The Simpsons

July 21, 2014

Headlines of the day

How many politicians are being blackmailed by the NSA, CIA and FBI?

NSA shares secrets on US citizens with Israel

More cities defining homelessness as a crime

Infrequently asked questions

New York City approves segregated entrances at major development

Hillary in top one hundredth of one percent

Israelis gather on hilltops to cheer assault on Gaza

97 year old musician sent to homeless shelter for playing too much uke at ret...

Whites comprise biggest increase moving to poverty areas

Chicago school system killing vocational education

Word: Move veterans to Medicare

Where Americans live

Why I remember World War One

Links: Religion and its alternatives

Word: Ralph Nader's summary of the Gaza crisis

School reform child abuse hurting kids physically as well

Israelis destroy Gaza hospital

How many politicians are being blackmailed by the NSA, CIA and FBI?

David Sirota - When I asked U.S. Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) if the NSA was keeping files on his colleagues, he recounted a meeting between NSA officials and lawmakers in the lead-up to a closely contested House vote to better regulate the agency:

“One of my colleagues asked the NSA point blank will you give me a copy of my own record and the NSA said no, we won’t. They didn’t say no we don’t have one. They said no we won’t. So that’s possible.”

Grayson is right: presumably, if the NSA wasn’t tracking lawmakers, it would have flatly denied it. Instead, those officials merely denied lawmakers access to whatever files the agency might have. That suggests one of two realities: 1) the NSA is keeping files on lawmakers 2) the NSA isn’t keeping files on lawmakers, but answered vaguely in order to stoke fear among legislators that it is.

Regardless of which of these realities happens to be the case, the mere existence of legitimate fears of congressional surveillance by an executive-branch agency is a serious legal and separation-of-powers problem. Why? Because whether or not the surveillance is actually happening, the very real possibility that it even could be happening or has happened can unduly intimidate the legislative branch into abrogating its constitutional oversight responsibilities. In this particular case, it can scare congressional lawmakers away from voting to better regulate the NSA.

Washington's Blog - During the Vietnam war, the NSA spied on two prominent politicians – Senators Frank Church and Howard Baker – as well as critics of government policy Muhammad Ali, Martin Luther King, and a Washington Post humorist.

A recently declassified history written by the NSA itself called the effort “disreputable if not outright illegal.”

The main whistleblower who revealed the Vietnam-era spying was Christopher H. Pyle. Pyle told Rob Kall of OpEdNews:

"If the NSA was targeting people like Sen. Frank Church, who were in a position to oversee the NSA — is that happening now? That is, are people like intelligence committee chairs Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) and other congressional leaders — who are supposed to be providing oversight themselves — compromised in some way by the NSA? If so, as seems quite certain from the recent Edward Snowden revelations, then how can they conduct genuine oversight of the NSA with their committees?”

The NSA has been tracking people’s porn in order to discredit them. The New York Times reports that this type of behavior has been going on for a long time: “J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadilloes and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example”.

A high-level NSA whistleblower says that the NSA is spying on – and blackmailing – top government officials and military officers, including Supreme Court Justices, high-ranked generals, Colin Powell and other State Department personnel, and many other top officials

Another very high-level NSA whistleblower – the head of the NSA’s global intelligence gathering operation – says that the NSA targeted CIA chief Petraeus

And it’s not just the NSA.

Last year, Eric Holder refused to say whether the Department of Justice was spying on Congress.

Wikipedia - The Lavender Scare refers to the fear and persecution of homosexuals in the 1950s in the United States, which paralleled the anti-communist campaign known as McCarthyism. Because the psychiatric community regarded homosexuality as a mental illness, gay men and lesbians were considered susceptible to blackmail …. Former U.S. Senator Alan K. Simpson has written: “The so-called ‘Red Scare’ has been the main focus of most historians of that period of time. A lesser-known element . . . and one that harmed far more people was the witch-hunt McCarthy and others conducted against homosexuals.”

NY Times - J. Edgar Hoover compiled secret dossiers on the sexual peccadillos and private misbehavior of those he labeled as enemies — really dangerous people like … President John F. Kennedy, for example.

Alfred McCoy, Tom's Dispatch -  In the Obama years, the first signs have appeared that NSA surveillance will use the information gathered to traffic in scandal, much as Hoover’s FBI once did. In September 2013, the New York Times reported that the NSA has, since 2010, applied sophisticated software to create “social network diagrams…, unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible…, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner.”

...By collecting knowledge — routine, intimate, or scandalous — about foreign leaders, imperial proconsuls from ancient Rome to modern America have gained both the intelligence and aura of authority necessary for dominion over alien societies. The importance, and challenge, of controlling these local elites cannot be overstated. During its pacification of the Philippines after 1898, for instance, the U.S. colonial regime subdued contentious Filipino leaders via pervasive policing that swept up both political intelligence and personal scandal. And that, of course, was just what J. Edgar Hoover was doing in Washington during the 1950s and 1960s.

Washington's Blog - FBI whistleblower Sibel Edmonds alleged under oath that a recently-serving Democratic Congresswoman was secretly videotaped – for blackmail purposes – during a lesbian affair. There have been allegations of blackmail of gay activities within the U.S. armed forces for years.

NSA whistleblower Bill Binney said his agency targeted "Supreme Court Judges, other judges, Senators, Representatives, law firms and lawyers, and just anybody you don’t like … reporters included”

Washington's Blog -  NSA whistleblower Russell Tice (a key source in the 2005 New York Times report that blew the lid off the Bush administration’s use of warrantless wiretapping),  says:
  • The NSA is spying on and blackmailing its overseers in Washington, as well as Supreme Court judges, generals and others
  • The agency started spying on Barack Obama when he was just a candidate for the Senate
Washington's Blog -  The Washington Post’s report shows that the NSA also collected information on President Obama, both as president-elect and as president:
A “minimized U.S. president-elect” begins to appear in the files in early 2009, and references to the current “minimized U.S. president” appear 1,227 times in the following four years.
...Of course, the NSA has pretty much admitted to spying on Congress. And see this.

.....The NSA is spying on and blackmailing its overseers in Washington, as well as Supreme Court judges, generals and others

The agency started spying on Barack Obama when he was just a candidate for the Senate.

NSA shares secrets on US citizens with Israel

Guardian, UK - The National Security Agency routinely shares raw intelligence data with Israel without first sifting it to remove information about US citizens, a top-secret document provided to the Guardian by whistleblower Edward Snowden reveals.

Details of the intelligence-sharing agreement are laid out in a memorandum of understanding between the NSA and its Israeli counterpart that shows the US government handed over intercepted communications likely to contain phone calls and emails of American citizens. The agreement places no legally binding limits on the use of the data by the Israelis.

The disclosure that the NSA agreed to provide raw intelligence data to a foreign country contrasts with assurances from the Obama administration that there are rigorous safeguards to protect the privacy of US citizens caught in the dragnet. The intelligence community calls this process "minimization", but the memorandum makes clear that the information shared with the Israelis would be in its pre-minimized state.

More cities defining homelessness as a crime

PBS - In many cities throughout the U.S. it is now a crime to beg, loiter or sleep in public. It’s getting harder to be homeless in America.

Laws that criminalize homelessness are cropping up in cities throughout the country, while simultaneously, a national shortage of shelter beds and housing options is roiling the system.

Since 2001, the U.S. has lost nearly 13 percent of its low-income housing according to a report by the National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty that surveyed 187 cities.

The advocacy group’s report found that laws placing restrictions on loitering, begging, sitting and lying down in public have increased nationwide since 2009. Eighteen percent of cities now ban sleeping in public and 42 percent of cities ban sleeping in vehicles.

From Skid Row to high school graduation, Los Angeles supports homeless students’ academic success Homeless professor protests conditions of adjuncts

And that’s a problem, NLCHP Executive Director Mary Foscarinis told NPR, because it makes it difficult for individuals to get back on their feet.

“It’s really hard to get a job when you’re homeless anyway, or to get housing,” Foscarinis said. ”You have no place to bathe, no place to dress, no money for transportation. But then if you also have an arrest record, it’s even more challenging,” she said.

In May, city officials in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, passed a series of ordinances cracking down on public drunkenness, urination and sleeping on sidewalks — all in an effort to help the homeless and preserve the city’s quality of life, city spokesman Matt Little told USA Today.

“The city of Fort Lauderdale has a distinguished history of compassion toward those in need,” Little said. “Protecting our quality of life and business environment ensures continued funding for humanitarian needs.”

NLCHP says an overwhelming increase in urban homelessness after the recession and a widespread initiative to revitalize cities’ downtown areas incited the crackdown on the homeless.

Infrequenlty asked questions

If it's wrong for Russia to fund rebel attacks on Ukraine, why isn't it wrong for America to be a major under of Israel's attacks on Palestine?

New York City approves segregated entrances at major development

Daily Mail, UK - The City of New York approved a proposal by one of the largest real estate developers in the city to build in a 'poor door', or a separate door for residents living in affordable housing to enter their building.

According to a  report from the New York Post, the city approved the application of Extell, one of the most prominent developers in New York, to install this separate set of doors into a high-rise located on 40 Riverside Boulevard, a location situated next to the Hudson River.

Extell's proposal allows them to force affordable housing tenants to walk through an entrance located in a back alley behind the building to enter, leaving the more prominent front entrance for tenants paying for nicer apartments. A view of the high-rises lining Riverside Boulevard, in New York.

Under the Inclusionary Housing Program, for which the city approved Nextell's application, larger properties are allowed to be built as long as they include a portion of affordable housing units.

Despite the approval of this application, the New York Post reports that Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer vowed to reject future developments with separate entrances.

However, some developers dismiss the outcry over the 'poor door' concept.

'No one ever said that the goal was full integration of these populations,' David Von Spreckelsen, senior vice president at Toll Brothers, another developer specializing in luxury residencies, told The Real Deal in 2013. 'So now you have politicians talking about that, saying how horrible those back doors are. I think it’s unfair to expect very high-income homeowners who paid a fortune to live in their building to have to be in the same boat as low-income renters, who are very fortunate to live in a new building in a great neighborhood.'

Hillary in top one hundredth of one percent

Bloomberg - Hillary Clinton has earned at least $12 million in 16 months since leaving the State Department.

Clinton’s income since her resignation as secretary of state in February 2013 is derived mostly from her latest memoir, speeches and paid appearances at corporate retreats, according to an analysis of data compiled by Bloomberg.

At least 12 organizations that previously booked President Bill Clinton -- who has been paid almost $106 million in speaking fees alone since he left the White House -- also hired his wife. Among them: Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and the National Association of Realtors.

With a prospective 2016 presidential candidacy in her future, she keeps tight control over her events. In one university contract, Clinton retained the right to approve her introducer, program, moderator and the set, and she limited to 50 the number of pictures taken on a rope line.

Her earnings represent a fraction of the Clinton family’s total income and yet were large enough to rank her not only in the top 1 percent of the nation’s earners but in the top one-hundredth of the 1 percent.

Israelis gather on hilltops to cheer assault on Gaza

Guardian - As the sun begins to sink over the Mediterranean, groups of Israelis gather each evening on hilltops close to the Gaza border to cheer, whoop and whistle as bombs rain down on people in a hellish war zone a few miles away.

Old sofas, garden chairs, battered car seats and upturned crates provide seating for the spectators. On one hilltop, a swing has been attached to the branches of a pine tree, allowing its occupant to sway gently in the breeze. Some bring bottles of beer or soft drinks and snacks.

On Saturday, a group of men huddle around a shisha pipe. Nearly all hold up smartphones to record the explosions or to pose grinning, perhaps with thumbs up, for selfies against a backdrop of black smoke.

Despite reports that millions of Israelis are living in terror of Hamas rockets, they don't deter these hilltop war watchers whose proximity to Gaza puts them within range of the most rudimentary missiles. Some bring their children.

In the border town of Sderot, which has been struck by countless missiles from the Gaza Strip in recent years, one family gathers on a top-floor balcony, draped with an Israeli flag and banner of the army's legendary Golani Brigade. A house with a war view may even command a premium price these days.

97 year old musician sent to homeless shelter for playing too much uke at retirement home

Whites comprise biggest increase moving to poverty areas

Black News - One in four Americans now live in poverty areas, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The number of people who have been forced to move to poverty areas has greatly increased in the past 14 years.

....The housing crash, loss of jobs and the country’s financial crises has left many with no alternative but to move into poverty areas. Many people have lost their homes and now find themselves in a situation where they need to live where they can afford. This often means either moving where housing prices are low, or turning to subsidized housing and low-rent apartments, which often places them in poverty areas.

.... White Americans make up the largest increase of people moving to poverty areas. The number of whites moving into poverty areas increased from 11.3 percent in 2000 to 20.3 percent in 2012, almost doubling in 12 years. Overall, the number of people moving to poverty areas increased from 49.5 million in 2000 to 77.4 million in 2008-2012. Some areas of the country are worse than others. The percentage of people living in poverty in the state of Mississippi is 48.5 percent, while in New Hampshire it is 6.8 percent.

Chicago school system killing vocational education

Chicago Teachers Union - When Dr. Barbara Byrd-Bennett took over the helm of Chicago Public Schools in October of 2012, she told the Crusader during a meeting in her office that she was committed to maintaining vocational trade curriculum within the system.

Last week, CPS quietly cut the final electrical program offered in city schools when the program at Simeon Vocational Career Academy was given the axe without warning.

Members of the local electricians union, former Simeon electricity shop students and the instructor who taught them, came together Tuesday night just blocks from the school to begin organizing an effort to save the program. The elimination of the electricity program—a year after the last machine shop course was cut in the city—will have a devastating effect on African-American students looking to get into the trades, said a representative of the Chicago Teachers Union.

Michael E. Brunson, recording secretary for CTU, said while CPS is eliminating Career and Technical Education programs, suburban school districts are either maintaining or increasing them.

“These are opportunities that our young African-American and Latino students are missing out on. We are coming out of a recession, so the demand for electricians, machinists, plumbers, carpenters, and all of the other trades are on the rise again,” Brunson said. “So, why are we hurting our kids and their teachers?”

According to officials at the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local Union 134, an apprentice electrician is currently making $18 an hour. After four or five years in an apprentice program, a journeyman electrician can make $44 an hour. Within the next five years, that is expected to increase to $50 an hour.

Last week, Latisa Kindred said she was notified by Principal Dr. Sheldon House she would not be returning. This past school year, Kindred said she had 60 students in the electricity program in the beginning of the year and by year’s end, 56 students.

Word: Move veterans to Medicare

Paul F. deLespinasse, Statesman Journal- A key difference between Medicare on the one hand and veterans’ benefits and Obamacare on the other hand, is that Medicare patients can go to virtually any doctor or hospital in the country, most of which are not operated by the federal government. The VA has only limited facilities, not always conveniently located and insurance policies sold under Obamacare often severely restrict the doctors and hospitals people can go to.

... A major reform is needed here, and the simplest approach would be to privatize or close all VA facilities and put veterans on Medicare without regard to their age.

Like all other Medicare patients, veterans could then choose freely among doctors and hospitals and not have to wait for appointments any longer than anybody else. Money saved by closing VA facilities could be moved to the Medicare Trust Fund; perhaps part of the savings could be used to provide supplemental insurance to veterans if that is needed to duplicate the coverage they had under the VA.

The United States is unique in the industrialized world in having completely separate medical insurance systems for veterans, retired people, employed people, the unemployed and native Americans. Other countries have single-payer systems covering everybody, systems which have worked quite well and which hold administrative costs down to a bare minimum.

Let’s treat the current criticisms of VA medical facilities not just as a problem, but as an opportunity. Moving all veterans into Medicare would eliminate one of these separate systems and would be a step in the right direction towards eliminating all of them and providing Medicare for all.

Where Americans live


Business Insider - Half of the United States population is clustered
in just the 146 biggest counties out of over 3000.

Links: Religion and its alternatives

Religious right
Lutheran Airlines
Seventh Day Agnostics arise
Backing off of hate
Where have all the cool preachers gone?
Who owns faith and values?
A conversation with God
Where the hell did all the good Christians go?
What I learned as a part Jew
 
The Humanist 



Pocket paradigms

While it may only take a whole village to raise the average child, in my case it required three counties, two bioregions and an unincorporated territory, and I still don't have it quite straight- Sam Smith

Word

We cannot defend freedom abroad by deserting it at home. - Edward R. Murrow

Why I remember World War One


Sam Smith - This month marks the one hundredth anniversary of the start of World War One, the biggest war that most Americans never think about.

I'm one of the exceptions for two reasons. The first is that I came to comprehend an aspect of the conflict that is generally ignored. World War One helped introduce a culture of modernity that so changed the power of institutions over the individual that the latter would become what Erich Fromm called homo mechanicus, "attracted to all that is mechanical and inclined against all that is alive." Becoming, in fact, a part of the machinery -- willing to kill or to die just to keep it running.

For example, with Auschwitz-like efficiency, over 6,000 people perished every day during World War I for 1,500 days. Richard Rubenstein recounts that on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, the British lost 60,000 men and half the officers assigned to them. But the internal bureaucratic logic of the war did not falter at all; over the next six months, more than a million British, French and German soldiers would lose their lives. The total British advance during this period: six miles. No one in that war was a person anymore. The seeds of the Holocaust can thus be found in the trenches of World War I. It is no accident that Hitler and Lenin turned to the teachings of American technocratic apostle Frederick Winslow Taylor to carry out their evil or that the Nazis used IBM cards to help manage their death camps. Individuals had became no better than the bullets that killed them, just part of the expendable arsenal of the state.

The second reason I can't forget the war is that, while it occurred long before my birth, it caused death to hang like a shroud over my family. My mother's brother was killed by a shell as he he served as liaison between airplanes and the artillery - part of a three year period in which my grandfather also lost his wife and sister.

My uncle's first cousin was an aviator with the famed Lafayette Escadrille who lost his life a few months earlier while on a scouting mission over German territory. According to one account, "It was almost a year later that the remains of his charred Spad were located about three kilometers south of Montdidier, with a lone grave close by, marked with broken pieces of the plane."The Escadrille consisted of American pilots who joined the French Army to fight against the Germans before the US entered the war. In all, 65 American pilots died while in the Lafayette Escadrille and the Lafayette Flying Corps.

Another uncle whom I would never meet came back from the war and, according to one of his grandsons, never smiled again. He had been involved in moving dead bodies from the front. Suffering from what we would call post traumatic stress syndrome, he committed suicide ten years later.

Finally, one of my father's brothers  was lost near Lisbon while serving as an officer aboard Admiral William Halsey's first command. The then Commander Halsey wrote my grandfather:

"Your son was in charge of the forecastle and with the men was busy all the way down the river securing things for sea. As we got to the entrance it was seen there was a large sea running, so we slowed barely to steerage way. We finally ordered all hands off the forecastle. Your son requested permission to stay and secure a hatch. As the safety of the vessel depended on this hatch being secured, permission was granted. . . Scarcely three minutes later a high white wall of water was seen bearing down on us. There was no time to yell more than 'hold on' when the sea hit us. When it cleared, even high up on the bridge where I was, I was gasping for breath from the effects of the water. Life buoys were let go and searchlights were turned on, but your son and young Arthur were never seen again."

When history hits that close to home that often, it's hard to ignore or forget




July 20, 2014

Word: Ralph Nader's summary of the Gaza crisis

Ralph Nader, Independent Political Report - An already troubling humanitarian crisis has intensified with the Israeli bombardment of Gaza, an area about twice the size of the District of Columbia that has about three times as many residents (1.8 million). Israel has been using its highly touted precise missiles to hit numerous targets. This collective punishment, a war crime per se, wreaks havoc on civilians and their life-sustaining infrastructure.

With over 1,700 explosive strikes so far, the Israeli military has pounded homes, schools, mosques, electric and water facilities, municipal buildings, health clinics, moving vehicles, a home for the seriously disabled and even tiny agriculture areas. As a result of these attacks, over two hundred and thirty Gazans have died and over seventeen hundred have been injured so far, about eighty percent are civilians, a majority of whom are women and children, according to UN observers.

That is only part of the continuing war against Gaza. For years, Israel has maintained a siege/blockade, restricting the importation of adequate food, medicine, water, electricity, construction materials and other necessities needed by the refugees in the world’s largest open-air prison. These daily deprivations have taken a deadly toll. Fatalities, sicknesses, untreated cancers have resulted. Half of the children are seriously malnourished due to the dire poverty associated with the Israeli air, land and sea encirclement. (There are even harsh restrictions on Gazan fishermen.)

Israel’s complex association with Hamas, the elected governors of Gaza, is rarely reported or discussed. First, the Israelis, with U.S. support, helped start Hamas over thirty years ago to counteract the influence of the Palestinian Liberation Organization under Yasser Arafat. More recently, Israeli officials have been in regular communication with Hamas over the administrative details of the selective siege, custom duties and transfers of tax revenues by Israeli to pay for Hamas’ 40,000 public employees.

Even when open hostilities commence, the two adversaries remain in close communication to sense how far each can go, given their own internal political struggles, in the ensuing “lopsided battle,” as the New York Times calls it. Hamas and other splinter groups, comprising the complex dynamics of competing Palestinian factions, have launched some 1,000 feeble rockets to demonstrate that it can resist the hyper-powerful Israeli domination. The rockets obviously frighten Israelis, most of whom have access to secure shelters and are defended by the Israeli anti-missile system (which is called the Iron Dome and is funded largely by U.S. taxpayers). The Israeli military is knocking down 90% of the Palestinian rockets they target. These crude Palestinian rockets are so inaccurate that they largely fall on barren ground, including several right back on Gaza. Recently, one rocket claimed an Israeli life very close to the border where Israeli tanks lie waiting for the outright ground invasion.

Without any army, air force or navy, the Gazans have very limited military options. The Israelis have unlimited military options. The military invasion of the Palestinian enclave may unleash forces that may be uncontrollable and move Israel into a civilian catastrophe starting with no drinkable water and other human disasters.

In recent years, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza have suffered at least four hundred times more civilian causalities – both fatalities and injuries—than Hamas has inflicted on the Israelis whose immensely powerful forces occupy, colonize, brutalize, and loot the land, water and people of the remaining 22% of Palestine that has not already been taken by Israel.

No one said it more candidly than David Ben-Gurion, the father of modern Israel, who years ago, was asked why Palestinians were still resisting. He summed up Palestinian grievances by saying “They see but one thing: we have come and we have stolen their country. Why would they accept that?” No one has said it more eloquently than fifteen hundred reservists, combat officers and soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces who pledged: “We shall not continue to fight beyond the 1967 borders [the Palestinian territories] in order to dominate, expel, starve and humiliate an entire people.” And no one has better framed the challenge to Israeli leaders than several former retired heads of the Shin Bet (the Israeli FBI) and Mossad (the Israeli CIA) who publically have stated why Israel, as the supreme power can and should lead to a two-state solution already supported by a majority of both the Israeli and Palestinian people.

Listening to their public statements, interviews and reading their writings, along with those regularly put forth by the courageous Israeli human rights groups, such as B’Tselem, and newspaper columnists, such as Gideon Levy and Amira Hass, one can cut through the official propaganda used by the Israeli government that wages perpetual war instead of peace, affecting the whole Middle East and the national security budgets of the U.S. The following are two takeaways from these groups that promote peace and a two-state solution.

The Palestinian National Authority has long recognized the existence of Israel as an independent, secular state. So have numerous Arab and Islamic nations, belonging to the Arab League, whose comprehensive peace proposal was dismissed by Israel twelve years ago. Palestinians, as oppressed people, engage in no more verbal incitement than do the Israeli oppressors from a position of political and military power. Wagers of peace on both sides know how prejudicial some Israelis can be toward the Arabs, as well as vice versa.

Besides demanding ethnic cleansing, driving all Palestinians into the desert for the goal of a “Greater Israel” covering all of Palestine, some extremists have called for annihilation. Recently, on June 30th, a leader of the Jewish Home Party, part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s ruling coalition posted a call for the destruction of the Palestinian people including “its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure,” adding that Israel should also not exclude Palestinian mothers because they give birth to “little snakes.” Thousands of viewers responded favorably.

Where are the more numerous, rational Israelis who can reverse this perilous drift toward what the Israeli historical scholar Professor Ilan Pappe calls “incremental genocide?” After centuries of persecution, the Jewish people in Israel hold a towering power position from a secure state. Israel should accept the Arab League’s invitation for peace and normalized relations through a two-state solution.

Where is the Obama Administration, which like previous Administrations avoids its responsibility for peace and provides annually billions of dollars in unconditional military and economic support to the Israeli government? There are direct American strategic and security interests that oblige President Obama, in spite of the Washington puppet show in Congress, to do more than parrot the AIPAC lobby’s party line.

Just about all knowledgeable people believe the status quo will continue to favor the Israeli government’s political, economic and military interests while oppressing those of Palestine, unless the U.S. weighs in with strong influence over its ally, Israel.

School reform child abuse hurting kids physically as well

Angela Hanscom, a pediatric occupational therapist is the founder of TimberNook, a nature-based development program designed to foster creativity and independent play outdoors in New England,

Angela Hanscom - Over the past decade, more and more children are being coded as having attention issues and possibly ADHD. A local elementary teacher tells me that at least eight of her twenty-two students have trouble paying attention on a good day. At the same time, children are expected to sit for longer periods of time. In fact, even kindergarteners are being asked to sit for thirty minutes during circle time at some schools.

The problem: children are constantly in an upright position these days. It is rare to find children rolling down hills, climbing trees, and spinning in circles just for fun. Merry-go-rounds and teeter-totters are a thing of the past. Recess times have shortened due to increasing educational demands, and children rarely play outdoors due to parental fears, liability issues, and the hectic schedules of modern-day society. Lets face it: Children are not nearly moving enough, and it is really starting to become a problem.

I recently observed a fifth grade classroom as a favor to a teacher. I quietly went in and took a seat towards the back of the classroom. The teacher was reading a book to the children and it was towards the end of the day. I’ve never seen anything like it. Kids were tilting back their chairs back at extreme angles, others were rocking their bodies back and forth, a few were chewing on the ends of their pencils, and one child was hitting a water bottle against her forehead in a rhythmic pattern.

This was not a special-needs classroom, but a typical classroom at a popular art-integrated charter school. My first thought was that the children might have been fidgeting because it was the end of the day and they were simply tired. Even though this may have been part of the problem, there was certainly another underlying reason.

We quickly learned after further testing, that most of the children in the classroom had poor core strength and balance. In fact, we tested a few other classrooms and found that when compared to children from the early 1980s, only one out of twelve children had normal strength and balance...

Ironically, many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system today–due to restricted movement. In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their body in all directions, for hours at a time. Just like with exercising, they need to do this more than just once-a-week in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system.

Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”

Pocket paradigms

Barack Obama and Arne Duncan are to public education as the right is to climate. The right thinks the climate is all about last week's snow storm; Obama and Duncan think public education is all about last week's test..- Sam Smith

Word

If there is no struggle, there is no progress. Those who profess to favor freedom and yet deprecate agitation are people who want crops without plowing up the ground. They want rain without thunder and lightning. That struggle might be a moral one; it might be a physical one; it might be both moral and physical, but it must be struggle. Power concedes nothing without a demand. - Frederick Douglass

July 19, 2014

Israelis destroy Gaza hospital

Mondoweiss - The Israeli army targeted and destroyed the Gaza strip’s only rehabilitation hospital even though Israeli authorities said they did not believe weapons were inside of the facility. El-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital, which treats long-term injuries and physical disabilities, was heavily shelled  causing an emergency evacuation of all staff and patients. El-Wafa Rehabilitation Hospital treats long-term injuries and physical disabilities. All of the patients have some degree of paralysis, require around the clock care and many are on oxygen support and feeding tubes.

The IDF News Desk also confirmed that the military understood there were no weapons inside of el-Wafa hospital. When asked how far a humanitarian site needs to be to ensure there is not direct fire, the IDF said, “It’s not a matter of science, the IDF is very precise and they usually target what they intend to target.”

HIV infections fall by a third

BBC - The rate of HIV infections diagnosed in the United States has fallen by a third over the past decade, researchers say.

However, there was a rise in new cases of HIV among gay and bisexual men aged under 24 and over 45.

HIV is the virus that causes AIDS, a disease which destroys the immune system.

The World Health Organization estimates 35 million people globally have the virus. More than 1 million people in the US are thought to be infected, with 18% unaware of their infections.

Jazz break




Oscar Peterson & Ben Webster

US Congress unanimously supports Israel's invasion of Gaza

Information Clearinghouse - Following a similar resolution passed last week by the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate voted to support Israel’s ongoing invasion of the Gaza Strip.

No dissenting vote was cast, and no mention was made of the hundreds of Palestinian civilians, most of whom are women and children, that have been killed by Israel in the past ten days.

Feminism for all women


Lynn Stuart Parramore, Alternet -  I grew up in the South, where sexism can be so aggressive it smacks you upside the head (or in other places), so naturalized it’s like the sun coming up in the morning. In the late '80s and early '90s, when I was coming into adulthood, open expressions of feminist ideas could earn you hostility that was often downright scary.

But reading feminist authors like Marilyn French and Betty Friedan when I was an undergraduate at the University of Georgia gave me a sense that the resistance I felt to the discrimination I saw around me was something to be nurtured rather than overcome. I learned that being a feminist in the South was tough — it meant you had to be quick, Protean, subversive, and you damn well better have a sense of humor, or you would not survive. It also gave me strength and pride to identify with a movement that could correct wrongs and rewrite a social script that didn’t fit me. 

Later, when I won a teaching fellowship at NYU to pursue my doctorate, I imagined a sisterhood of worldly, intelligent feminists who would understand me and recognize me as one of their own. They would empower and teach me, and welcome me into their ranks.

That is not precisely what I found. I sensed (perhaps defensively) that some of the women in my graduate courses, who had gone to upper-class institutions like Harvard and Vassar, looked disdainfully on my makeup and clothing and were offended at the kind of femininity I expressed as a southern woman. They seemed turned off by my earthy humor and lack of conformity to their codes of speech and behavior, which seemed strict and centered on sexual issues in a way that was sometimes naïve and rigid. These women seemed to wear their feminism like a starched school uniform. I was not certain I wanted to join this club, and not at all sure if I was welcome.

I found myself drawn to books and essays written by European feminists who seemed to have the wordliness, intellectual depth and sensuality I admired. The American feminists in my classes seemed more interested in simplistic slogans than philosophical complexity, more inclined to attack than to engage.

Once I started teaching, however, I began to notice among my young students a different strain of American feminism burgeoning. Their humor and intelligence intrigued me as did the hints of solidarity with women who didn’t necessarily look and think like them. They had a taking-it-to-the-streets activist mentality.

These young women wanted to talk to me about people like Emma Goldman, the feminist anarchist who called for the creation of a radically new social order, and labor feminists like Rose Schneiderman, who worked to improve wages and conditions for American women. I began to understand that feminism could be directed to transforming thinking about how we interact with the economy in a way that would lift both women and men. I got excited watching the development of a rebellious, empowered spirit among young women that might one day shake things up on the economic front.

And so it has: 21st-century feminism, enriched by women-of-color feminists, working-class feminists, and others outside the mainstream, has opened up a promising new chapter. The contribution of young feminists to the Occupy Movement, in particular, has been a testimony to their influence and growing prestige. But the class fault lines are still there, and they often erupt into deep animosity.

Part of this I blame on the Democratic Party, which often embraces a superficial “hooray for women!” attitude while kicking women, particularly those at the lower rungs of the economic ladder, under the bus. Too often, mainstream moderate women's organizations seem to be class-blind and oblivious (or even hostile) to the need to confront economic structures that oppress both women and men.

It’s painful to see Emily’s List, the well-heeled group that raises money for Democratic women who support abortion rights, throw its weight behind candidates like Gina Raimondo of Rhode Island, a notorious Wall Street partisan who has busied herself shredding the pensions upon which working women depend while enriching her hedge fund friends. Or to see the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women team up with Wall Street interests to form a PAC to defeat Eliot Spitzer, one of the few national politicians with the knowledge and temperament to stand up to financial predators and protect the pensions of New York City.

Many women understandably find it hard to embrace Hillary Clinton, whose coziness to corporate interests and Big Finance seems at odds with her proclaimed feminism and populism. Is she keeping up the good fight for women, or is she merely a mouthpiece for power?The Clinton campaign is reaching out to women, particularly young women, but hobnobs with Wall Street titans whose activities have dampened the future of these very same people.

So how can we be feminists in a way that expresses solidarity with people struggling for better economic conditions, both male and female? I put this question to Kathleen Geier, who recently launched a forum called “The Curve” at the Nation to focus on economic issues within feminism.

In an email to me, Geier acknowledged that feminism has an image problem, and noted that part of the trouble is that the long and vital history of working-class and labor-identified feminism is still not widely known.

“In school, you probably heard about middle-class reformers like Susan B. Anthony, but not the Lowell mill women. Or you may not realize that an important public intellectual like Barbara Ehrenreich, who has done more than perhaps any other writer today to raise our awareness about the scandal that is low-wage work in America, came out of that second-wave socialist feminist tradition.

Why has barely anyone acknowledged Karen Lewis, the powerful president of the Chicago Teachers Union, an overwhelmingly female-dominated union and profession, as an important feminist? Somehow individualistically climbing the corporate ladder a la Sheryl Sandberg reads as feminist in our culture, but improving the economic status of thousands of female workers does not. That is bizarre. To me, the essence of feminism is not, 'you go girl, you choose your choice.' It's about women taking collective action to advance women as a class.”


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