5/14 "Obama's Violin": "Overseas Contingency Operations"; Katrina & 'Homeland' Agenda; Pope Serves USRAEL; Black Atheists

“Sadistic . . . violent . . . inhuman.”
Mike Malloy
...At today’s White House press briefing, press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters that the president was concerned that the photos’ release would pose a national security threat. In other words, these unreleased photos and videos show acts of degeneracy so vile there is no way they can be explained or rationalized. They contain images of children - some of them the children of detainees - being raped and sodomized as a means of forcing confessions from the adult detainees to provide links between Saddam Hussein and al-Quaeda, the basis for invading and occupying Iraq. In testimony before Congress five years ago former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said the unrevealed photos and videos contain acts "that can only be described as blatantly sadistic, cruel and inhuman."... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54232

Digest: capitalist democracy's justice system: legalizing and executing capital's terror, torture, destruction, dehumanization and slaughter

“A democratic republic is the best possible political shell for capitalism, and, therefore, once capital has gained possession of this very best shell...it establishes its power so securely, so firmly, that no change of persons, institutions or parties in the bourgeois-democratic republic can shake it.”
Lenin, The State and Revolution,1917

"A really efficient totalitarian state would be one in which the all-powerful executive of political bosses and their army of managers control a population of slaves who do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude. To make them love it is the task assigned, in present-day totalitarian states, to ministries of propaganda, newspaper editors and schoolteachers."
Aldous Huxley, Forward to 'Brave New World', 1932

Obama and the Triumph of the American Myth
Arthur Silber
....Given the fundamentalist fervor with which the U.S. ruling class maintains and burnishes the national mythology... It was dangerous enough when truth was the enemy; truth was to be destroyed, but there remained a barely discernible acknowledgment that the truth still existed. With the ascension of Obama the Marketer, Obama the Fulfiller of Dreams, Obama the Commander of Illusion... the lie installed grows daily and hourly....http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54217

Most of the world understands politics isn't fundamentally about electoral charades as amerikans are trained to believe, politics is the ruling political-economic system governing every aspect of human, environmental, planetary being in the interests of one ruling class or the other - capitalist at this moment in history, dominated by U.S. bipartisan finance capitalism ruling class. "Electoral opposition' charades delivers us into the 'choice' game to ensnare the patriotic allegiance of grossly ignorant, narcissistic sheep who buy amerika #1 exceptionalism. Amerikans, religiously tutored and trapped in the electoral politics scam, ignoring reality and history, many still buying the obama game - exactly as his managers strategized - relinquish their rights, responsibilities and power to the silver-tongued deadly pacification & protection racket, surrender their human dignity and agency for feel-good 'hope' --- delivering countless lives, lands and cultures into the tentacles of #1 world destroyer: imperialist zionism, bred and fattened on white supremacist 'manifest destiny'.

To Be Black and Head of the U.S. Empire: A Contradiction in Terms
Larry Pinkney
The inescapable but deliberately ignored irony about Barack Obama being installed as this nation’s first so-called black president is that being Black in ‘America’ has in reality always meant so much more than mere color pigmentation.
To be the head of the most aggressive, violent, and hypocritical empire on this planet is not to be Black. It is to be opportunistically and cynically hypocritical while serving the interests of continued U.S. Empire. Those who choose to wrap themselves in the security blanket of the supposed wonderfulness of Obama’s so-called Blackness while ignoring the ongoing horrors that this person supports, are deeply complicitous in perpetrating the misery that this empire is heaping upon Black, White, Brown, Red, and Yellow peoples both inside and outside of its physical borders.
In April of 2007, this writer unapologetically wrote that: “Beyond mere color, being Black is first and foremost a conscious political, social, and economic commitment to the struggle for the collective betterment of the descendants of the Black slavery holocaust in what has now become the United States of America, in conjunction with other people of color and humanity as a whole.” (Reference The Black Commentator, April 19, 2007 , issue 226, article entitled, To Be Black In America: An Unflinching Necessity.) In that same aforementioned article, your writer further wrote: “Blackness is, in fact, not only a rainbow of color but also a rainbow of active consciousness and commitment.”

Negrodian misleaders and their so-called “progressive” and “liberal” white counterparts have put forth and pontificated virtually every imaginable sorry excuse as to why Barack Obama and his current regime of the U.S. Empire should be supported. It is a truly pathetic for all conscious people of conscience of all colors to witness.

As the bloody U.S. wars of aggression rage on in Iraq and Afghanistan, and as the war drums of U.S. Empire intensify and deepen into Pakistan under the Obama regime; the peace movement in the United States has been castrated (i.e. made null and void), roaring overwhelmingly with a deafening silence.

As the bankers, the insurance companies, and the other gluttonous barons of Wall Street gorge themselves with trillions of dollars of the people’s money; as more and more people lose their jobs; and as every conceivable action is engaged in to crush the labor movement and the economic and political rights of working people in this nation; the Barack Obama regime, like clever rhetorical sorcerers of the system, keep pouring and passing around the poisonous Kool-Aid of rhetoric for the masses to gulp and ultimately die upon.

Be we Black, Brown, White, Red, or Yellow there is absolutely no legitimate excuse for wrapping ourselves in the hypocrisy of U.S. Empire. We all know, or certainly should know, that the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan are wrong and unacceptable.

Had George W. Bush boycotted and attempted to sabotage the recent United Nations Conference on Racism (in Durban) as did the Barack Obama administration, there would have been enormous outcry from the so-called Black and White left in the U.S. Had George W. Bush continued and even expanded upon the so-called “extraordinary rendition” program (i.e. the illegal kidnapping of persons in other nations by the U.S. Government) as has Barack Obama, there would have been unquenchable outrage! Why the virtual silence and hypocrisy now? It’s time to stop being hypocrites and apologists for yet another administration of U.S. Empire and hegemony.

To be Black has increasingly become clearly less and less about mere color and increasingly about the commitment to political, economic, and social justice.
Arabian Sights
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"The concept of race and alleged racial superiority fit into a social requirement of a thoroughly exploitative period in the 'development' of Western (European) man. The idea of race was developed in direct response to the exploitation of other people, to provide both a pretext and a justification for the most unjustifiable conduct, the enslavement, murder, and degradation of millions of human beings".  
Dr. Ashley Montagu, The Fallacy of Racial Superiority

digest note: only revolution overthrowing capitalism can demolish class and the intersecting oppression of the Black nation and other oppressed nationalities. Reformist "redistribution of the wealth" & "democratic restructuring of dominant american institutions" promoted by Marable and other capitalist apologists fosters more of the same white supremacist exploitation & oppression by leaving the capitalist political-economic system, the progenitor and nexus, untouched --- which is why 'left gatekeeper' house negroes like Gates are heralded as prestigious scholars / teachers.

Henry Louis 'Skip' Gates: “Class Over Race”
Paul Street
“Skip” Gates is at it again: warning us about the dangerous, self-destructive choices being made by the United States’ poorest black citizens.  I am referring to Dr. Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, who describes himself as “center left” and holds three prestigious academic titles, all at Harvard: W.E.B. DuBois Professor of Humanities, Chair of the Afro-American Studies Department, and Director of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute for Afro-American Research...
But what exactly does Gates mean by “class?” How does he explain the fracturing of black America into “two nations?” And how true is it that race has faded relative to class in explaining the special difficulties faced by the nation’s poorest African-Americans?  For... Manning Marable, class is part of a bold and radical interpretive and political framework that identifies multiple, interrelated structures of inequality and calls for the democratic re-structuring of dominant American institutions....

Gates tells the Tribune that “America Beyond” is “meant to be a wake-up call to America, but more especially to black America, saying ‘are we crazy?  What are we doing here? We can’t just keep saying,’” Gates argues, “‘the white man made me do it.’”  For his part, the Tribune reporter finds “America Beyond’s” “most striking” aspect to be “the degree to which it pushes the idea of personal responsibility as the best solution to the black community’s problems,” which, the reporter says, “is perhaps not something you expect to hear from a man who identifies himself as politically ‘center-left.’” When it’s all said and done, Gates prefers to skip past structural-racism and get to the meat of the matter: the personal responsibility of poor blacks...  a comforting message, no doubt, for much of white America, most of which has embraced the convenient notion that racism (structural or otherwise) no longer poses serious problems for blacks and that the real barriers to black success and equality are located in the African-American community itself....
As the great historical materialist Karl Marx once wrote, “men make their own history, but they do not make it just as they please; they do not make it under circumstances chosen by themselves, but under circumstances directly encountered, given, and transmitted from the past.” 
Paul Street (pstreet@cul-chicago.org) is an urban social policy researcher in Chicago, Illinois.

history shows how 'populist rage', is eventually co-opted by opportunists misdirecting it toward electoral changes within the system
Obama's Violin
Populist rage and the uncertain containment of change
By Paul Street
...It is the Democrats' job to define and embody the constricted left-most parameters of acceptable political debate. For the last century, it has been the Democratic Party's distinctive assignment to play "the role of shock absorber, trying to head off and co-opt restive [and potentially radical] segments of the electorate" by posing as "the party of the people"(Selfa). The Democrats performed this critical system-preserving, change-containing function in relation to the agrarian populist insurgency of the 1890s and the working-class rebellion of the 1930s and 1940s. They played much the same role in relation to the antiwar, civil rights, anti-poverty, ecology, and feminist movements during and since the 1960s and early 1970s. In every case, the movements that arose to challenge concentrated power and oppression and to reduce inequality were pacified, silenced, and ultimately shut down...
Two and a half weeks after Obama's victory... David Rothkopf, a former Clinton administration official, commented on the president-elect's corporatist and militarist transition team and cabinet appointments with a musical analogy. Obama, Rothkopf told the New York Times, was following "the violin model: you hold power with the left hand and you play the music with the right."
The Obama administration's record so far is richly consistent with the violin analogy. Dominant, so-called "mainstream" media routinely portray Obama as a "bold" and even "radical" "departure from the past" ...what leading communications authorities call "the left."... http://www.zcommunications.org/zmag/viewArticlePrint/21334

Status QuObama: A Hundred Days of Fake-Progressive BS and Liberal-Left Surrender
by Paul Street
The nation's first Black president proceeds unmolested by the Left as he moves mountains of money in a crusade to save the investment banking class. Anti-war forces dissolve into nothingness as Barack Obama extends the U.S. occupation of Iraq indefinitely. A new theater of war called Af-Pak coagulates in South Asia, yet benumbed "progressives" praise their president as the consummate man of peace. "By demanding nothing of Obama and the Democrats except that they not technically be Republicans, our so-called "progressive" organizations effectively grant advance approval to whatever corporate and imperial policies the new president and the Democrats execute."... Obama was selected by the predominantly corporate and imperial establishment in advance precisely to preserve the capitalist imperial, and racial status quo.

Every four years, many Americans are fooled into investing their hopes in an electoral process... voters are led by the dominant (so-called "mainstream") corporate media and the broader U.S. political culture and thought-control system to hope that a savior can be installed in the White House - someone who will raise wages, roll back war and militarism, provide universal and adequate health care, rebuild the nation's infrastructure, produce high-paying jobs, fix the environmental crisis, reduce inequality, guarantee economic security, and generally make daily life more livable. The dreams are regularly drowned in the icy waters of historical and political "reality." In the actuality of American politics and policy, the officially "electable" candidates are vetted in advance by what Laurence Shoup calls "the hidden primary of the ruling class." By prior Establishment selection, all of the "viable" presidential contenders are closely tied to corporate and military-imperial power in numerous and interrelated ways. They run safely within the narrow ideological and policy parameters set by those who rule behind the scenes to make sure that the rich and privileged continue to be the leading beneficiaries of the American system. ...
straight out of Shoup: preservation of the existing order....

As Obama himself (along with John Edwards) repeatedly noted during the campaign, in a comment that has not fallen from his lips since he reached the White House, "change doesn't happen from the top down. Change happens from the bottom up." And here we might add that change from the bottom up happens through the painstaking creation and expansion of grassroots social forces and organizations beneath and beyond the great quadrennial corporate-crafted mass marketed narrow-spectrum and candidate centered electoral and media extravaganzas that pass for the only politics that matter in the United States.
Paul Street (paulstreet99@yahoo.com) is a political commentator and author in Iowa City, IA. He is the author of Empire and Inequality: America and the World Since 9/11 (Paradigm, 2004); Segregated Schools: Educational Apartheid in the Post-Civil Rights Era (Routledge, 2005); Racial Oppression in the Global Metropolis: A Living Black Chicago History (Rowman & Littlefied, 2007), and Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics (Paradigm, 2008).

but our class enemies approve...OBAMA'S FIRST 100 DAYS & PRESIDENTIAL REALITIES
By George Friedman
U.S. presidential candidates run for office as if they would be free to act however they wish once elected. But upon election, they govern as they must. The freedom of the campaign trail contrasts sharply with the constraints of reality. The test of a president is how effectively he bridges the gap between what he said he would do and what he finds he must do. Great presidents achieve this seamlessly, while mediocre presidents never recover from the transition. All presidents make the shift, including Obama, who spent his first hundred days on this task.
Obama won the presidency with a much smaller margin than his supporters seem to believe. Despite his wide margin in the Electoral College, more than 47 percent of voters cast ballots against him. Obama was acutely aware of this and focused on making certain not to create a massive split in the country from the outset of his term. He did this in foreign policy by keeping Robert Gates on as defense secretary, bringing in Hillary Clinton, Richard Holbrooke and George Mitchell in key roles and essentially extrapolating from the Bush foreign policy. So far, this has worked. Obama’s approval rating rests at 69 percent, which The Washington Post notes is average for presidents at the hundred-day mark.

"Within each of us there is some piece of humanness that knows we are not being served by the machine which orchestrates crisis after crisis and is grinding all our futures into dust."
Audre Lorde, Black lesbian poet and warrior (1934-1992)

"As good as it gets"
Layla Anwar, An Arab Woman Blues
...subsequent "intelligent" reports, blamed the killing spree by "friendly fire" on combat stress resulting from frequent deployment to battle zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. Combat stress huh ? Please come and see our combat stress. The paralyzed old man with drill holes in his legs. The wobbly woman unable to walk after her "visit" to Abu Ghraib. The kids who stutter at age 14 and still piss in their pants because they saw the unspeakable. Whole families living one damp bedroom, with no mattresses and no blankets. Women prostituting themselves and slashing their thighs with razor blades after their clients have gone. Children who can't read and write because they can't afford school. Displaced families still living in tents and rummaging in garbage to find something to eat. Thousands maimed with bullets, bombs, burns because of you. Hundred of emptied homes in ruins or occupied by militias because of you... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54198

140 Afghanis Killed In US Attack Includes 93 Children
The list, obtained by Reuters, bears the endorsement of seven senior provincial and central government officials, including an Afghan two-star general who headed a task force dispatched by the government to investigate the incident.

U.S. military, per plan, is now inside Pakistan -- with help of its proxy govt.
The U.S. has begun flying armed Predator drones inside Pakistan giving Pakistani officers significant control over targets, flight routes and decisions to launch attacks under a new joint operation, according to U.S. officials familiar with the program.

Barack Obama - Mass Murderer
By Dan Spielberg

Obama national security adviser says US won't stop Afghan airstrikes
In a blunt rebuff of the Afghan president, President Barack Obama's national security adviser Ret. General James - i-take-my-daily-orders--from-Henry-Kissinger-Jones said the United States would not end airstrikes in Afghanistan even though they are blamed in the deaths of hundreds of civilians during the war. Jones said the U.S. would continue to make military decisions based on the best intelligence available. He refused to rule out any action because "we can't fight with one hand tied behind our back...."We have to be careful to make sure that we don't unnecessarily wound or kill innocent civilians,"...

The Children's Crusade
Chris Floyd
Day after day, week after week, Barack Obama's "Overseas Contingency Operations" keep churning through the bodies of children: sometimes with chemical weapons that sear their flesh and leave them maimed and disfigured for life; sometimes with carefully aimed bullets ripping through their organs and leaving them dead right on the spot. And in every such case, our brave and noble Terror Warriors -- who, lest we forget, are upholding the highest values of world civilization, bringing hope and change to benighted lands and defending our sacred way of life -- run screaming from the slightest hint of responsibility for their actions....their first response, always, blame someone else... the designated enemy - or the burned and shredded children themselves. This was on vivid display this week in two stories from separate fronts in the ever-spreading Terror War... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54158

U.S. Caused the Taliban Problem
By Jacob G. Hornberger
U.S. officials are now concerned not only with a Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan but also a Taliban takeover in Pakistan. These problems, however, were caused by the U.S. Empire itself.
While most Americans now view President Bush’s Iraq War as a “bad war,” the common perception is that Bush’s invasion of Afghanistan was a “good war” (despite the fact that he went to war without the constitutionally required congressional declaration of war). The notion is that the U.S. government was justified in invading Afghanistan and ousting the Taliban regime from power because the Taliban and al-Qaeda conspired to commit the 9/11 attacks. There’s just one big problem with that belief: it’s unfounded.

The reason that Bush ousted the Taliban from office was that the Taliban regime refused to comply with his unconditional demand to deliver Osama bin Laden to U.S. officials after the 9/11 attacks. The Taliban responded to Bush’s demand by asking him to furnish evidence of bin Laden’s complicity in the 9/11 attacks. Upon receipt of such evidence, they offered to turn him over to an independent tribunal instead of the United States. .... keep in mind the role that U.S. foreign policy played in bringing into existence and supporting the Taliban. In a November 5, 2001, article, Congressman Ron Paul pointed out:
...American tax dollars helped to create the very Taliban government that now wants to destroy us. In the late 1970s and early 80s, the CIA was very involved in the training and funding of various fundamentalist Islamic groups in Afghanistan, some of which later became today’s brutal Taliban government. In fact, the U.S. government admits to giving the groups at least 6 billion dollars in military aid and weaponry, a staggering sum that would be even larger in today’s dollars. Bin Laden himself received training and weapons from the CIA....
Incredibly, in May the U.S. announced that we would reward the Taliban with an additional $43 million in aid for its actions in banning the cultivation of poppy used to produce heroin and opium. Taliban rulers had agreed to assist us in our senseless drug war by declaring opium growing “against the will of God.”...

Once the Taliban regime refused to comply with Bush’s unconditional order to turn over bin Laden, the U.S. Empire did what it had done and tried to do in so many other countries — Iran, Guatemala, Chile, Cuba, Indonesia, Iraq, and others — bring about regime change by ousting a recalcitrant regime that refused to comply with the unconditional orders of the U.S. Empire — a regime that the U.S. Empire itself had helped to create — and replacing it with a submissive pro-empire regime.... http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22586.htm

U.S. Replaces Commander in War Overhaul
...the first time a civilian has fired a wartime commander since President Harry Truman ousted General Douglas MacArthur in 1951 for questioning Truman's Korean War strategy...
Defense officials said that General McKiernan was removed because of what they described as a conventional approach to what has become one of the most complicated military challenges in American history. He is to be replaced by Lt. Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, a former commander of the Joint Special Operations Command who recently ran all special operations in Iraq. ...
a Pentagon investigation into the accidental shooting death in 2004 of Cpl. Pat Tillman by fellow Army Rangers in Afghanistan held General McChrystal accountable for inaccurate information provided by Corporal Tillman’s unit in recommending him for a Silver Star.The information wrongly suggested that Corporal Tillman, a professional football player whose decision to enlist in the Army after the Sept. 11 attacks drew national attention, had been killed by enemy fire. ... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/12/world/asia/12military.html?_r=1&hp

"Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission, and a new ambassador. I believe that new military leadership also is
needed. This is the right time to make the change. Our mission there requires new thinking and new approaches from our military leaders."
Robert Gates, US defence secretary

Lieutenant General Stan McChrystal is head of covert special forces. The so-called dark or black forces. The ones who stay undercover ... Because of his extraordinarily sensitive position with covert special forces, he is not appearing in public. And so he will not be questioned further by the committee in an open hearing."
Barbara Starr, CNN correspondent, on McChrystal's absence during an August 2007 Congressional hearing over the friendly-fire death of former NFL star Pat Tillman (CNN, Aug. 1, 2007).

Big Increases for Intelligence and Pentagon “Black Ops” Programs in 2010
by Tom Burghardt / May 13th, 2009

President Barack Obama’s Defense and Intelligence budget for Fiscal Year 2010 will greatly expand the reach of unaccountable agencies–and the corporate grifters whom they serve. According to Bill Sweetman, “Black budget blows by $50 billion mark,” Aviation Week, May 7, 2009 “the Pentagon’s ‘black’ operations, including the intelligence budgets nested inside it, are roughly equal in magnitude to the entire defense budgets of the UK, France or Japan, and 10 per cent of the total.” ... you read that correctly. The “black” or secret portions of the budget are almost as large as entire defense outlays of U.S. allies....

u.s. orders backed up by billions
Pakistan: 700 Militants Killed in Past Four Days
Thousands More to Die, According to Zardari
Jason Ditz
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik today claimed that 700 militants have been killed in the past four days of military offensives in and around the Swat Valley. Yesterday the military said it had killed 200 in one 24 hour period. The tolls and the success being touted by the government in its attacks could not be independently confirmed because the military has barred journalists from the valley.... The final number will doubtlessly rise, as President Asif Ali Zardari estimated around 3,000 members of the assorted factions in the valley, while the army has said it is more like 4,000 to 5,000. Whatever the case, Malik reiterated the promise of President Zardari that all of them would be killed in the end...the government did not comment on the civilian toll, but reports from refugees that the indiscriminate shelling of residential neighborhoods has produced a significant toll. Hundreds of thousands of refugees have fled the violence, a number which would be higher if they could flee whenever they wanted, instead of just on those occasions when the military decides to lift the curfew for a few hours. Still, the United Nations says over 360,000 have fled in the past week - on top of the 500,000 already displaced from previous offensives. http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54176

Burn After Reading: Intel Dump Muddies Dirty War Waters
Chris Floyd
Throughout the long history of the Afghan War, the United States has never accused the Taliban of using white phosphorus weapons -- until now. Suddenly, after the emergence of glaring evidence of Afghan civilians being seared and maimed by these chemical weapons following American airstrikes and combat operations, the Pentagon has released "classified information" claiming that the Taliban have actually been using white phosphorus weapons for six years, since 2003: a practice that the Pentagon -- which has been using white phosphorus weapons in Afghanistan since 2002 if not before -- denounced as "reprehensible." This is very curious. The bipartistan managers of the Terror War have always been eager to trumpet -- even exaggerate -- the atrocities committed by the various armed groups opposing the imposition of foreign troops in Afghanistan. But now we are to believe that the Pentagon has been keeping evidence of the Taliban's chemical weapons use -- chem weapons! WMDs! -- under wraps for years... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54185

Taliban rejects US claim it used white phosphorous ammunition
...Qari Mohammad Yousuf, a Taliban spokesman, said "We neither have nor use phosphorous. The Americans have used it in many operations and now want to attribute their tyranny to the Taliban," he alleged in a telephone conversation with the Reuters news agency. Reuters reported last week that US military doctors had treated an eight-year-old girl with white phosphorous burns. The US military said it believes no rounds had been fired by Western forces near her house when she was hurt, that a mortar fired by militants may have been to blame. However, the girl's father told Reuters that the house was hit by a volley of artillery fired by Western troops... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54187

as it did in Gaza via the IDF
US accused of illegal white phosphorus attack in Afghanistan
Marc Garlasco...a former senior Pentagon intelligence analyst, said there has been widespread and regular use of white phosphorus by US and NATO forces in Afghanistan“...
Dr Mohammad Aref Jalali, the head of an internationally funded burns hospital in Herat, said villagers taken to hospital after the incident had ‘highly unusual burns’ on their hands and feet that he had not seen before,” reported The Guardian. “We cannot be 100% sure what type of chemical it was and we do not have the equipment here to find out. One of the women who came here told us that 22 members of her family were totally burned. She said a bomb distributed white power that caught fire and then set people’s clothes alight.”
“The stories that are emerging are quite frankly horrifying,” a United Nations official told the Guardian. “It is quite apparent that the large bulk of civilian casualties were called in after the initial fighting had subsided and both the troops and the Taliban had withdrawn. “Local villagers went to the mosque to pray for peace. Shortly after evening prayers the air strikes were called in, and they continued for a couple of hours whilst the villagers were frantically calling the local governor to get him to call off the air strikes.”
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai demanded the United States call a halt to its air strikes, cautioning that the attacks were turning civilians against Western forces.
U.S. General James L. Jones told ABC’s “This Week” that he refused to “tie the hands of our commanders and say we’re not going to conduct airstrikes.

Past Masters at Torture
By Iftekhar A. Khan
The Nation, Pakistan
May 09, 2009 "The Nation" May 7, 2009 - Legal and human rights groups applauded Barack Obama for deciding to shut down the Guantanamo torture centre for 'illegal combatants'. Many even commended him for his noble act without realising that when Gitmo in Cuba shut down Bagram in Afghanistan turned more active. Officials of US department of justice recently informed the federal court that there was no departure from Bush's policy of torturing detainees at Bagram. American propensity for using innocuous acronyms to cover heinous crimes is unsurpassed. Bagram torture centre renamed Bagram Theatre Internment Facility (BTIF) reportedly is to extend by investing $60 million. So torture as US state policy will continue and BTIF will be the ultimate hellhole. The writer is a freelance columnist - E-mail: pinecity@gmail.com first published by "The Nation" Pakistan http://informationclearinghouse.info/article22583.htm

“AFRICOM ... a vehicle for the U.S. to use proxy troops drawn from Africa’s armies to keep Africa safe for western corporations.”
“By means of press and radio, accounts are given of the capture of ‘terrorists’ by ‘security forces’ …the ‘terrorists’ being usually described as poorly-trained, ill-equipped, demoralized and uncertain of the cause for which they are fighting....This refusal to recognize freedom fighters as soldiers is again part of imperialist strategy designed to pour scorn on the armed revolutionary movement, and at the same time to discourage further recruits.”
Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first president, 40 years ago
Nkrumah understood four decades ago how easy it is for the underlying causes of armed struggle to be forgotten because of media lies and caricatures of Africans who resist foreign exploitation
Already, the U.S. has engaged in military activities and covert actions that have included complicity in a 2006 regime change in Somalia. There is also a significant U.S. presence at a special military installation in Djibouti. The U.S. search for “pirates,” “terrorists” and other purported “evil-doers” (as Bush used to call them) has not been limited to the Horn of Africa. For some time now, the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) has also been establishing an extensive high profile presence on Africa’s western coast - specifically in the Gulf of Guinea and the Niger Delta.
Notwithstanding its official mission statements, AFRICOM is proving itself to be a vehicle for the U.S. to use proxy troops drawn from Africa’s armies to keep Africa safe for western corporations that need access to the continent’s oil and mineral resources. It is understandable then why AFRICOM’s directors have been just as interested in West Africa as they are in Somalia. A study by the Nigerian government shows that during 2008, the country lost nearly $28 billion as a result of armed groups having blown up oil pipelines. These organizations have also kidnapped oil company personnel. The government study estimates that about 1,000 lives were lost last year in connection with oil thefts and sabotage. The attacks on the oil industry have not emerged from a vacuum. Oil operations have caused widespread environmental catastrophe, ruining fishing, farming and sources of fresh water for many villages in the Niger Delta. Unemployment in these areas that (according to government estimates) exceeds 80 percent fuels a spirit of rebellion and resistance among the youth that continues to spread... the Nigerian government has begun to chart plans for bolstering the capacity of special military forces to fight the rebels. With so much oil at stake, AFRICOM has not been sitting idly by. It has collaborated in the operation of an “Africa Partnership Station” that has cruised from port to port along Africa’s western coast training African naval personnel to conduct military operations that are helpful to U.S. corporate interests in the region....
Nkrumah understood four decades ago how easy it is for the underlying causes of armed struggle to be forgotten because of media lies and caricatures of Africans who resist foreign exploitation. Mark P. Fancher is an attorney, writer and activist. He can be contacted at mfancher(at)Comcast.net.

The Tamils of Sri Lanka; Distant Voices, Desperate Lives
By John Pilger
In order to conduct a slaughter, you ensure the pornography is unseen, illicit at best. You ban foreigners and their cameras from Tamil towns like Mulliavaikal, which was bombarded recently by the Sri Lankan army, and you lie that the 75 people killed in the hospital were blown up quite wilfully by a Tamil suicide bomber. You then give reporters a ride into the jungle, providing what in the news business is called a dateline, which suggests an eyewitness account, and you encourage the gullible to disseminate only your version and its lies. Gaza is the model.

From the same masterclass you learn to manipulate the definition of terrorism as a universal menace, thus ingratiating yourself with the “international community” (Washington) as a noble sovereign state blighted by an “insurgency” of mindless fanaticism. The truth and lessons of the past are irrelevant. And having succeeded in persuading the United States and Britain to proscribe your insurgents as terrorists, you affirm you are on the right side of history, regardless of the fact that your government has one of the world’s worst human rights records and practises terrorism by another name. Such is Sri Lanka....
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) ...are the product, not the cause, of an injustice and a war that long predate them. Neither is Sri Lanka’s civil strife as unfathomable as it is often presented: an ancient religious-ethnic rivalry between the Hindu Tamils and the Buddhist Sinhalese government. Sri Lanka as British-ruled Ceylon was subjected to a classic divide-and-rule. The British brought Tamils from India as virtual slave labour while building an educated Tamil middle class to run the colony. At independence in 1948, the new political elite, in its rush for power, cultivated ethnic support in a society whose real imperative should have been the eradication of poverty. Language became the spark. The election of a government pledging to replace English, the lingua franca, with Sinhalese was a declaration of war on the Tamils. The new law meant that Tamils almost disappeared from the civil service by 1970; and as “nationalism” seduced parties of both the left and right, discrimination and anti-Tamil riots followed.
The formation of a Tamil resistance, notably the LTTE, the Tamil Tigers, included a demand for a state in the north of the country. The response of the government was judicial killing, torture, disappearances, and more recently, the reported use of cluster bombs and chemical weapons... The Tigers responded with their own crimes [SIC] including suicide bombing and kidnapping. In 2002, a ceasefire was agreed, and was held until last year, when the government decided to finish off the Tigers. Tamil civilians were urged to flee to military-run “welfare camps”, which have become the symbol of an entire people under vicious detention, and worse, with nowhere to escape the army’s fury....

Imperialist backed Govt. hits hospital again
Tens of thousands of people have fled the fighting in recent weeks to state-run refugee camps, but the UN estimates that about 50,000 civilians remain trapped in the narrow strip of land still held by the Tamil Tigers. The LTTE is believed to be close to defeat in its 26-year battle for a separate homeland in the north and east of the island for the country's minority Tamils. The government has rejected international calls for a humanitarian ceasefire, saying it would allow the LTTE to regroup. Tuesday's attack came after a weekend of heavy shelling that killed more than 300 people and injured more than 1,000 civilians in what the UN has described as a "bloodbath".... http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/05/20095131040721771.html

the uses and abuses of putting Black faces in high places: could Bush or even Clinton get away with it?
First Black President Cuts Funds for Black Higher Education
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by Glen Ford
“Obama should be given a brief refresher course in the history that makes direct aid to Black schools necessary.”
Barack Obama encourages people to believe that he deserves to be remembered as the “Education President.” However, Obama will definitely not go down as a friend of historically Black higher education. Historically Black colleges and universities – HBCUs – take a $73 million hit in Obama’s educational budget. The cuts are even more disturbing, since education as a general category is a big winner in the president’s economic stimulus plan.
Obama’s people claim that an increase in maximum Pell Grant monies for low-income students will help all educational institutions, including historically Black ones. But that’s not quite true. Even if every one of the 132,000 Pell Grant students that attend HBCUs collected the maximum $200 extra dollars in Obama’s budget, that would only make up for one-third of the administration’s cuts to the Black schools. In other words, Obama’s slightly rising tide of Pell Grants will not sufficiently lift historically Black higher education boats.
The $73 million loss would have an outsized impact on the 105 Black institutions, many of which are on perennially shaky financial ground, and all of which have been hit hard by the current economic crisis. Although Black schools make up only three percent of total U.S. college enrollment, they account for one out of every five undergraduate degrees awarded to African Americans. It would be difficult to find anyplace in the federal budget where $73 million has a more concentrated impact on the fortunes of a particular ethnic group.

"Bush policy on New Orleans, in whole"
Obama Shows His True Katrina Colors
By Glen Ford
A Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
If response to the crimes of Katrina is the litmus test for 21st Century Black politics – and it should be – then the Obama administration has failed to distinguish itself from its predecessor under George W. Bush. The Bush imperative was to take gruesome advantage of the hurricane’s destruction to accomplish a national goal: to drive poor Blacks from the central cities. Every governmental crime of omission and commission in the wake of Katrina was coldly calculated to permanently exile several hundred thousand African Americans from New Orleans. The city was deliberately rendered unlivable for a huge portion of its previous residents, while corporate vultures from across the nation and even Australia schemed to create a new urban “model” – minus African Americans.
From the beginning, candidate Obama denied that racism played a role in Katrina’s aftermath. The prevailing “incompetence,” he said, was “colorblind” – proving either that he, Obama, was the blind one or that the man who would be president is as hostile to the inner city poor as George Bush.
Obama waited until his first 100 days in office had passed to delegate to his minions the task of evicting Katrina survivors from 3,000 FEMA trailers. Most of the trailer inhabitants are elderly. Two-thirds of them own homes that they have been trying to make habitable, with or without help from the government. Their evictions from the trailers will make it that much harder to renew their lives as permanent residents of New Orleans – which is the whole point of the evictions.
“Obama has effectively adopted the Bush policy on New Orleans, in whole.”
Not a single one of 500 planned “Katrina cottages” has been made ready for occupancy. Elderly people squat in abandoned buildings. There are no credible plans to repair or create an infrastructure that could accommodate the poor who still remain, much less the New Orleans diaspora, scattered to the four winds three and a half years ago.
President Obama’s economic stimulus plan revealed his administration’s general attitude regarding Katrina. Rather than putting people to work rebuilding New Orleans for the benefit of its original population, the administration and Congress allocated the city less money than any other congressional district. And it was under Obama that the latest federal actions to demolish public housing in the city have occurred.
The line between Bush and Obama has not simply blurred in New Orleans: it has disappeared. The ominous ramifications reverberate far beyond the Gulf Coast. If post-Katrina New Orleans is the “urban model” for the future, then Black America has a great deal to fear from the Obama White House.
For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford.www.BlackAgendaReport.com BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

no such honest analyses in mainstream u.s. media
The Disneyfication of New Orleans
By Anna Hartnell
Three years after Hurricane Katrina, a more glamorous image of black America is presenting itself to the world in the person of Barack Obama. Meanwhile, in New Orleans, America's story of black urban poverty is still unfolding, largely beneath the radar of the global media.

In August and September 2005, areas like the largely black Lower Ninth ward, almost entirely invisible to the hordes of tourists who flock to New Orleans every year, attracted worldwide sympathy as the levees broke. Now they have been all but forgotten. While tourists long ago repopulated the French Quarter, 57% of New Orleans' black population – against 36% of whites – have yet to return to the city. Many never will. This is because since Katrina, developers have clubbed together with the authorities to complete New Orleans' makeover into a playground for wealthy tourists. As house prices soar and homelessness rises, the authorities are quietly doing away with the city's remaining stocks of affordable housing in moves that the UN has recently claimed constitute human rights violations. The fact that these demolitions will overwhelmingly affect black people has led some to call this ethnic cleansing.

Looking back, these developments should come as no surprise. The sympathy that met Katrina's immediate aftermath was short-lived. In August 2005 it was poor African-American residents, statistically the least likely to have the means to evacuate the stricken city, who bore the brunt of the storm damage. Viewers all round the world watched in horrified fascination as conditions in the convention centre and Superbowl deteriorated. News reports did focus on the government's apparent abandonment of its own people, but a hysterical and arguably racist undercurrent was almost compulsively drawn to rumours of rape and murder – nearly all of which turned out to be untrue.

As residents evacuated the city, and before the floodwaters had even receded, the future of New Orleans and its residents was being spoken about in no uncertain terms. "We finally cleaned up public housing in New Orleans", declared Republican congressman Richard Baker soon after the storm. "We couldn't do it. But God did." Alphonso Jackson, the then US secretary of housing and urban development, made the racial implications of the gentrification process perfectly clear when he predicted that the reconstructed New Orleans would be a whiter city.
In the three years since, race and class stereotypes have paved the way for New Orleans' so-called "revitalisation". "We don't need soap opera-watchers right now", claimed the city council president, Oliver Thomas – perpetuating the view that New Orleans' high unemployment rate can be tracked to individual laziness as opposed to the systemic discrimination affecting most of America's inner cities. At the same time, those same forces that demonise poor and particularly black families – for their apparent "dysfunction" – are actively preventing the regrouping of some of the most close-knit black communities in the US.
The city is now in the process of phasing out the low-cost housing, public transportation system, and public health facilities that have supported the existence of low-income residents in New Orleans for decades. The US department of housing and urban development and the housing authority of New Orleans say that they wish to de-concentrate poverty in areas that were previously hotbeds for crime and drug abuse. Currently though, there are only plans to replace one-third of the units available for low-income renters. And as Audrey Stewart of the Loyola Law Clinic explains, the result is: " ... thousands and thousands of homeless people camping out, under bridges, we have folks staying with relatives and friends – I see that all over my neighbourhood, five, six, seven, eight people living in these tiny houses. We have people getting kicked out of Fema [Federal Emergency Management Agency] trailers with nowhere to go."
Many displaced New Orleans residents, black and white, are now calling for the "right of return" – and are in the process creating a dynamic grassroots movement that threatens to disrupt the relative calm that has eased the passage of the city's controversial reconstruction programme.... This time last year, Obama expressed concern that New Orleans would once again become the scene of the nation's broken promises, and told residents, "I can promise you this: I will be a president who wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night with the future of this city on my mind." He said: "... racial discord, poverty, the old divisions of black and white, rich and poor, it's time to leave that to yesterday." But as the presidential campaign intensifies, Obama is increasingly under pressure to "transcend race"....Three years on from the storm, during an election year that has focused attention on a spectacular symbol of African American success... once again, no one is looking in the direction of a black America that has experienced only the rough end of the American dream.
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article20650.htm Anna Hartnell is lecturer in American literature & culture at the University of Birmingham, a.hartnell@bham.ac.uk

Racist Genocide in New Orleans Continues: "Like 911 But Add Water"
by liz burbank
[edited version originally published 9/3/05 "A Catastrophic Success": A Holocaust Shaped by Race]
Katrina was no accident, no surprise, no act of 'mother nature', the 'gods' , nor the result of 'bureaucratic incompetence' and 'poor communication'. The human and environmental and impact on New Orleans of a hurricane of this magnitude had been scientifically calculated. Rescue and recovery were deliberately withheld, working class Black people militarily imprisoned, forcibly dispersed and murdered by the armed state's violence. National oppression and its ideological engine racism, are the lynchpin of u.s. capitalism, built and grown on genocide and slavery. Katrina is a major intensification of America's historical genocide, a premeditated physical and psychological attack on the Black Nation, part of a strategy to destroy its strength, pride, cultural cohesion that has led in revolutionary resistance against this system in its deepest crisis..

A renaissance of Black resistance and leadership, historically the leading edge of revolutionary resistance in the U.S., is what the postmodern slavemasters fear could derail or give rise to a movement here in the 'homeland', in solidarity with international resistance, that could defeat its global "new world order" agenda. Katrina and the brutal aftermath was engineered to serve the capitalist agenda in two interrelated ways: by uprooting, dispersing and destroying the Black Nation, while simultaneously inflaming reliable american racism and support for the consolidation of a fascist mode of state capitalism -- under the pretext of "rescue, relief and recovery” from a "major casualty-producing event" called a “natural disaster.” [...] full article at http://lizburbankdigest.blogspot.com/2006/03/racist-genocide-in-new-orle...

"Inseparable bond": serving imperialist zionism as political winds dictate

Jordan king Israel must accept Palestinian state : Abdullah II makes comments during Aqaba meet with Netanyahu, ahead of PM's upcoming visit to U.S

Israel has established the largest press centre in the country’s history for this visit, while police have broken up attempts by Palestinian organisations in Jerusalem to present a rival picture to journalists....careful stage management began the moment the Pope’s plane touched down in Tel Aviv on Monday. At the reception, Pope Benedict stood between Mr Netanyahu and Mr Peres to listen not only to the Israeli national anthem but also to Jerusalem of Gold, a song popularised by soldiers during the capture of East Jerusalem in the 1967 war. The lyrics ...describe an empty and neglected city before the arrival of Jews....Jerusalem’s mayor, Nir Barkat, made a point of welcoming him to the “capital of Israel and the Jewish people”, a description of Jerusalem not recognised in international law. After the Pope failed to object, the Israeli media happily concluded that the country’s occupation of Jerusalem had papal blessing. “The very act of coming here is a political act that works to the benefit of Israel,” observed Mazin Qumsiyeh, a prominent peace activist who teaches at the West Bank’s only Catholic university, in Bethlehem...."...his decision to stand next to [the Israeli prime minister] Benjamin Netanyahu and legitimise an extreme right-wing government.” ... one government adviser told the Haaretz newspaper: “We have become pariahs in so many places around the globe. Promoting the Pope’s visit to the state is part of changing that.”...

Pope Benedict XVI held a joint press conference with u.s.-israel proxy President Mahmoud Abbas... promotes Arab moderates

... among the devout were a hundred or so Gazans, given permission to leave the Strip for the pontifical visit.... In preparation for the pontifical visit the Palestinian Authority (PA) deployed 3000 security officers in Bethlehem including members of the presidential guards. A curfew has been imposed in the streets and neighborhoods where the Pope’s convoy will pass. As he received the pope at the presidential compound, Abbas called on Benedict to help end the suffering of the Palestinian people, establish a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital living beside Israel, and to help guarantee the right of return for Palestinian refugees guaranteed under UN Resolution 194; A tall order for a figure also trying to mend fences with Israeli leaders following two issues over the Holy See and the Holocaust.... http://www.uruknet.de/?s1=1&p=54212&s2=14

Pope, in Jordan, says church and Jews share 'inseparable bond'
09th May 2009
Benedict expressed hope his visit and the power of the Catholic church would help further peace efforts between Israelis and Palestinians.“We are not a political power but a spiritual power that can contribute,” Benedict told reporters aboard the plane. The traditional news conference was scaled down with the Vatican spokesman asking the questions based on previously submitted questions from reporters. In the past, some of his answers have stirred controversy, but he appeared to avoid that.... three years ago he quoted a Medieval text that characterized... Islam’s Prophet Muhammad’s teachings as “evil and inhuman,” particularly “his command to spread by the sword the faith. He said Jordan was in the forefront of efforts to promote peace, inter-religious dialogue and to “curb extremism.... The pope sparked outrage among jews earlier this year when he revoked the excommunication of an ultraconservative bishop who denies the Holocaust. Benedict lifted his excommunication along with three other ultraconservative prelates in a bid to end a church schism. But amid the uproar, the church has not allowed the bishop to resume his duties...The pope’s forceful condemnation of anti-Semitism and acknowledgment of Vatican mistakes have softened Jewish anger over the bishop. But another sore point has been World War II Pope Pius XII, whom Benedict has called a “great churchman.” Jews and others say he failed to do all he could to stop the extermination of European Jews. Despite the disputes, Jewish leaders say Benedict, who served in the Hitler Youth corps as a young man in Germany and then in the army before deserting near the end of the war, has an excellent record in fighting anti-Semitism.... http://www.japantoday.com/category/world/view/pope-in-jordan-expresses-r...

religion as historical WMD: holy fellow fascists unite
Nov 13, 2005
Pope Benedict told the first US ambassador of his pontificate, new U.S. envoy, Francis Rooney, that... many parts of the world were still affected by "crushing debt that feeds the spiral of poverty" and asked the United States to be generous.... Mr Rooney told the Pope that the United States was looking to the Holy See as a partner in efforts to spread peace, encourage democracy, and to defeat terrorism. "This task will require long-term efforts among like-minded partners to overcome the intolerance and hatred that lie at the heart of those determined to spread terror," Mr Rooney said. Rooney thanked the Vatican for consistently "condemning religiously inspired terrorism." The envoy also asked the Vatican to support US initiatives in favour of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), which are very controversial in Europe and parts of the developing world....The Pope told Mr Rooney he was still praying for all the people whose lives were devastated by Hurricane Katrina and other storms in the south of the United States.... http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2005/11/13/1505340.htm

Politics, the Pope and the Pauper
by Holger Henke
... In the late 1960s many Latin American clerics engaged in a more rigorous interpretation of the Bible. As they read it, it is a call to all Christians to concern themselves actively with the material depression and oppression of the large marginalised sectors of the population in their countries... [the currently advertised brand of "democratisation"...see e.g., William I. Robinson, Promoting Polyarchy. Globalisation, US Intervention, and Hegemony Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996)....soon known - and feared by the powers that be - as "liberation theology." Liberation theology bases its considerations on God's word in the Bible before he led the people out of Egypt: "I have heard the cry of my people." Consequently more priests involved themselves in politically organising the poor and speaking out against what they regarded as imperialist domination by international financial institutions, exploitation by multinationals and the collaboration of their domestic elites with them.... the Vatican began to counter this new trend...
The United States security policy in the Western hemisphere fastened on the Vatican's interpretation of liberation theology...as a subversive Marxist strategy aiming at her strong economic and political influence in this region. The infamous "Santa Fe Paper" which was presented in 1980 to the new Reagan Administration as a strategic guideline for US policy in Latin America clearly stated: "American foreign policy must begin to fight and not just react to liberation theology... marxist-leninist forces have transformed the Church into a political weapon against private property and productive capitalism by infiltrating the religious community with ideas which are more communist than Christian." [...]

Pope: "Katrina was divine punishment"
Feb. 2, 2009
Pope Benedict XVI has promoted a pastor, the Rev. Gerhard Maria Wagner, who said Hurricane Katrina was divine punishment for sin in New Orleans. In 2005, a Catholic news agency in Austria released excerpts of comments Wagner made in a parish newsletter in Linz about Katrina. It quoted Wagner as saying that Katrina destroyed not only nightclubs and brothels in New Orleans, but also abortion clinics. "The conditions of immorality in this city are indescribable," Wagner was quoted as saying. The row came as controversy continued surrounding the rehabilitation of Bishop Richard Williamson who said the Nazis did not use gas chambers and killed "only" 300,000 Jews rather than six million...

Redemption for the Pope?
The Lancet, Volume 373, Issue 9669, Page 1054, 28 March 2009
Pope Benedict XVI "publicly distorted scientific evidence to promote Catholic doctrine"...

Continuing religion's role as an ideological-political WMD
Jeff Archer
There is a storm brewing because of U.S. soldiers bringing bibles into Afghanistan and distributing them to the local population. According to Al-Jazeera News in a report on May 4, 2009, called "Probe Call in Afghan ‘Convert’ Row:"A former Afghan prime minister...Ahmed Shah Ahmedzai said there must be a "serious investigation" after military chaplains stationed in the US air base at Bagram were filmed discussing how to distribute copies of the Bible printed in the country's main Pashto and Dari languages. In one recorded sermon, Lieutenant-Colonel Gary Hensley, the chief of the US military chaplains in Afghanistan, tells soldiers that, as followers of Jesus Christ, they all have a responsibility "to be witnesses for him".This may be news for some, but I have been following the religious activities of the U.S. military for years. There is an in-depth program that has been in place for some time in which officers indoctrinate soldiers to fight in the name of Jesus.... Christianity is the only religion being taught by the officers in the indoctrination....several atheists stepped forward to complain. They were told by the higher-ups that this is not happening. Subject closed. Most received disciplinary actions for making such outrageous statements... a Jewish soldier reported that he was beat up by other soldiers, while their sergeant looked the other way, because he complained about the Christian indoctrination... some Christians came forward and said they were offended that their religion was being used to justify the killing of people. In all instances, the aggrieved parties wrote to the Department of Defense, only to be told that it is illegal to do the things they stated and that the U.S. military does not have any part of it.
Many atheists in the U.S. are well aware of such occurrences. We have read report-after-report from soldiers who have been ostracized. Some send our groups letters asking what they can do. We refer them to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, a watch-dog organization for stopping religious indoctrination in the U.S. military. In the past two years, the number of cases the Military Religious Freedom Foundation has received from military personnel has risen dramatically. All complaints talk of the escalation of the Christian preaching they are receiving. So far, despite hundreds of pieces of correspondence, the replies from the Department of Defense to the Military Religious Freedom Foundation is basically the same as those given to the individuals: this is illegal and it isn’t happening....the Boston Globe daily newspaper has run several piece since 2003 concerning bibles in Iraq as well as billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars funding missionary work to convert Iraqi Muslims to Christianity. In my book, The Mother of All Battles: The Endless U.S.-Iraq War, I devote more than 25 pages to the use of Christianity as a weapon in the buildup to and the execution of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. Military officers attended church services, in uniform, at which they spoke of the merits of invading Iraq. Some held a picture of Saddam Hussein and said he was "satan." Below is an article I wrote four years ago about the quandary of trying to export evangelistic Christianity to Iraq....
May 23, 2000 JUST WHAT EVERY IRAQI NEEDS: A BIBLE To order The Mother of All Battles please click on this link: http://malcomlagauche.com/id8.html

“Out of the Closet”: Black Atheists
by Sikivu Hutchinson
The history of African American civil and human rights resistance is heavily steeped in Judeo-Christian religious dogma.
In some black communities it’s akin to donning a white sheet and a Confederate Flag. In others it’s ostensibly tolerated yet whispered about, branded culturally incorrect and bad form if not outright sacrilege. For black atheists like myself, proclaiming one’s non-belief amidst genial wishes to “have a blessed day” is never easy in the seemingly innocuous context of casual chit chat between black folk. Yet, according to the New York Times, a small but growing segment of the American population, galvanized by the hyper-evangelical climate of the Republican Pleistocene, have begun organizing nationwide and becoming more vocal about their atheism. Although African Americans are not visible in the “movement” some are easing away from religion.
For black atheists, actively breaking with religious tradition is an even graver rejection than that of white intellectuals electrified by the “pew-storming” rhetoric of atheist gurus like Christopher Hitchens or Richard Dawkins. This is partly due to the fact that the history of African American civil and human rights resistance is heavily steeped in Judeo-Christian religious dogma. Despite the White Anglo Saxon Protestant religious justification for slavery and domestic terrorism, African Americans converted to Christianity and utilized it as a source of succor, community and spiritual redemption. No matter one’s actual deeds, life path or personal mores, to be unquestioningly religious in some quarters is to be inoculated from criticism. Noting this historical irony in his blog “The Black Atheist,” Wrath James White states [1], “In these (black) communities you find more tolerance towards gangbangers, drug addicts, and prostitutes, who pray to God for forgiveness than for honest productive citizens who deny the existence of God.” For Wright, this “is one of the most embarrassing elements of Black culture, our zealous embrace of the God of our kidnappers, murderers, slave masters and oppressors.”
Proclaiming one’s non-belief amidst genial wishes to ‘have a blessed day’ is never easy.
While there have been critical appraisals of African American adoption of Christianity within the context of European conquest and racial slavery, few propose atheism as a corrective. Indeed, atheism would seem to fly in the face of a cultural ethos that frames earthly pain and suffering as a crucible for achieving rewards in the afterlife. In the midst of extreme brutality religious faith can either be seen as a means to mental health, or, as Karl Marx put it more bluntly, an opiate.
In this sense contemporary black religiosity is the legacy of a culturally specific survival strategy. Many black secular community-based organizations still look to the black church as a coalition partner and resource. Disturbingly, the church is often uncritically perceived as the “backbone” of the black community. However, as the debate over California’s Proposition 8 demonstrated, the notion that there is a monolithic “marching in lockstep” black community is terminally outdated. On issues of gender and sexual orientation, the overwhelming opposition of many prominent black churches to granting civil rights to partnered African American gays and lesbians is morally indefensible. When it comes to attitudes about traditional gender roles, gender-based assumptions about black female religiosity are double-edged. While black male non-believers are given more leeway to be heretics, black women who openly profess atheist views are deemed especially traitorous, having abandoned their family role as purveyors of cultural and religious tradition. Images of black women faithfully shuttling their children to church and socializing them into Christianity are a prominent part of mainstream black culture. If being black and being Christian are synonymous, then being black, female and religious (whatever the denomination) is practically compulsory. Black women with children who don’t fall in line, who raise their children as atheists, may find their race credentials revoked.

On the national level the contradictions between American secularism and religion have produced a schizoid tension in the U.S., whereby religious fundamentalism and intolerance for secular thought have become the norm. When it’s practiced in the non-Western world Americans routinely brand this kind of propaganda as backward and extremist. Yet, in this, the most swaggeringly “liberal humanist” of all nations, “coming out” as an atheist in a culture that parades religious dogma as a substitute for true morality may be one of the final ideological frontiers for African Americans.
Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of blackfemlens.org and a commentator for KPFK 90.7 FM. She can be contacted at sikivu@blackfemlens.org [2]
Source URL: http://www.blackagendareport.com/?q=content/%E2%80%9Cout-closet%E2%80%9D...
Links:[1] http://wordsofwrath.blogspot.com/2008/05/invisibility-of-black-atheist.h... [2] mailto:sikivu@blackfemlens.org

U.S.: More Than 55 year history of torture
A.J. Langguth
The Pentagon/CIA tentacles reach far across the globe, and have left a heritage of unadulterated horrors. During the first seven years after [Brazilian General] Castelo Branco’s coup, the OPS trained 100,000 Brazilian police, including 600 who were brought to the United States. Their instruction varied. Some OPS lecturers denounced torture as inhumane and ineffectual. Others conveyed a different message. Le Van An, a student from the South Vietnamese police, later described what his instructors told him: “Despite the fact that brutal interrogation is strongly criticized by moralists its importance must not be denied if we want to have order and security in daily life.” http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=13495

Obama threatens to limit U.S. intel with Brits:
The Obama administration says it may curtail Anglo-American intelligence sharing if the British High Court discloses new details of the treatment of a former Guantanamo detainee.

Obama seeks to block release of detainee abuse photos:
An Obama administration official said the president told his legal advisers that releasing the photos would endanger U.S. troops. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the discussions were private.

The FBI’s Department of Precrime
Tom Burghardt
From COINTELPRO to the illegal targeting of antiwar activists and Muslim-Americans, the FBI is America’s premier political police agency. And now, from the folks who brought us Wi-Fi hacking, viral computer spyware and al-Qaeda triple agent Ali Mohamed comes the Bureau’s Department of Precrime! A chilling new report by the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reveals the breadth and scope of the FBI’s Investigative Data Warehouse (IDW), the Bureau’s massive data-mining projec t. With more than a billion records "many of which contain information on American citizens," EFF is calling on Congress to demand FBI accountability and strict oversight of this Orwellian project... http://www.uruknet.de/?p=53967

In every stockjobbing swindle every one knows that some time or other the crash must come, but every one hopes that it may fall on the head of his neighbour, after he himself has caught the shower of gold and placed it in safety. Après moi le déluge! is the watchword of every capitalist and of every capitalist nation. Hence Capital is reckless of the health or length of life of the labourer, unless under compulsion from society.
Karl Marx, Capital, Volume I, Chapter 10 (1867)

and metastasizing rapidly...
U.S. Economy: The Cancer Still There
Black Agenda Radio commentary by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
"In the cold assessment of history, Barack Obama will be remembered more for his massive transfers of national wealth to the finance capitalist class, than as the first Black president of the United States." Mostly under his administration, $12.8 trillion dollars has been committed to prop up the Wall Street oligarchy. Yet the five banks that are the biggest recipients of federal largess continue to hold $195 trillion in fatally toxic derivatives - a notional value more than three times the planetary domestic product! "There is nothing rational to do but to wipe the obligations, and their holders, off the face of the Earth, in order to save the real economy." ...

US: working class deterioration as 12 million children face hunger
Naomi Spencer
Hunger is a mounting problem in the US. As millions more working class families face job losses and poverty, the major federal safety net programs—including the food stamps and emergency cash assistance programs—are serving far fewer people than are eligible and in need. By the latest USDA count, food stamp enrollment has swelled by 1million people since last September, to a record 32.55 million Americans. The non-profit Food Research and Action Center estimates that 16 million more people are eligible to receive federal food assistance but are not enrolled. More than 12 million children are threatened with the risk of inadequate food and hunger in the US, according to a new report from the food bank advocacy Feeding America.... fully 17 percent—one in every six—of American children age five and under... As with poverty, homelessness, bankruptcy figures, and many other measures, the rates of food insecurity documented by the study plainly reflect the deterioration of living standards working class households have seen over the past five years. No state had less than 10 percent of its child population exposed to hunger. http://www.uruknet.de/?p=54162

NYT propaganda goes to laughable lengths in the midst of unprecedented consolidation / restructuring of u.s. finance & corporate capital into ever fewer hands -- this is another token move to appease western allies and growing disgruntled 'homeland' constituents
Administration Plans to Strengthen Antitrust Rules
guess who decides if / when who / what is unlawful?!
It is not unlawful for a company to gain control of a market. It becomes unlawful if the company engages in conduct to exclude or harm competitors with no business justification.
The head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, Christine A. Varney is not expected to mention any specific companies or industries vulnerable under the new policy, those who have talked to her about the speech say she is aiming at agriculture, energy, health care, technology and telecommunications companies. She may also be reviewing the conduct of some in the financial services industry, which is now undergoing a wave of consolidation as a result of the financial crisis. The Obama administration plans to reverse a Bush administration policy shift that precluded antitrust actions against big corporations... Ms. Varney, who headed the Internet practice group of the Washington-based Hogan & Hartson law firm, served as a commissioner at the Federal Trade Commission in the 1990s after working in the White House during the early years of the Clinton administration... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/11/business/11antitrust.html?th&emc=th

The government is digging itself [e.g.us] deeper into debt, but the market for Treasuries is not infinite and interest payments are expected to balloon
As the Obama administration racks up an unprecedented spending bill for bank bailouts, Detroit rescues, health care overhauls and stimulus plans, the bond market is starting to push up the cost of trillions of dollars in borrowing for the government ...investors are starting to wonder whether the United States is headed for a new era of rising market interest rates as the government borrows, borrows and borrows some more. Already, in the first six months of this fiscal year, the federal deficit is running at $956.8 billion, or nearly one seventh of gross domestic product — levels not seen since World War II, according to Wrightson ICAP research firm.
Debt held by the public is projected by the Congressional Budget Office to rise from 41 percent of gross domestic product in 2008 to 51 percent in 2009 and to a peak of around 54 percent in 2011 before declining again in the following years. For all of 2009, the administration probably needs to borrow about $2 trillion.
The rising tab has prompted warnings from the Treasury that the Congressionally mandated debt ceiling of $12.1 trillion will most likely be breached in the second half of this year...

America will face competition in global financial markets for its borrowing needs. For the moment, the United States is actually benefiting from a flight to quality into Treasuries brought on by the global financial crisis, which helped reduce rates to record lows this winter. But the influx will not continue forever. China has lent immense sums to the United States — about two-thirds of its central bank’s $1.95 trillion in foreign reserves is believed to be in United States securities — but it has begun to voice concerns about America’s financial health....To calm nerves and fill the deficit hole, the government is getting creative.... Earlier this year, when demand was hesitant at a Treasury auction... investors grew nervous that the government might struggle to sell its mountain of debt. To avoid such an outcome and to keep borrowing costs low, the government is trying to expand the group of firms that bid at Treasury auctions. After the demise of such names as Lehman Brothers, the number of these firms, called primary dealers, has shrunk to 16, the smallest since this elite club was formed decades ago. Now the government is in discussions with smaller firms like Nomura and MF Global to persuade them to join. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/04/business/economy/04debt.html?th&emc=th

industry bailout - healthcare quality not even mentioned
Industry Pledges to Control Health Care Costs
Doctors, hospitals, drug makers and insurance companies will join President Obama on Monday in announcing their commitment to a sharp reduction in the growth of national health spending, White House officials said Sunday. At this point, administration officials said, they do not have a way to enforce the commitment, other than by publicizing the performance of health care providers to hold them accountable. By offering to hold down costs voluntarily, providers said, they hope to stave off new government price constraints ...

Pharma’s Stimulus Plan: Treatment Resistant Conditions
by Martha Rosenberg / May 13th, 2009
The recession has hit pharma too. While it cites patent expirations of blockbusters like Lipitor, Effexor and Plavix for falling earnings — “patient” expirations from Vioxx, Bextra, Premarin/Prempro, Vytorin, Avandia, Chantix, Ketek, Baycol and fen phen have helped. Forty years of marketing the “diseases” of menopause and aging — Over 35? You Might Be At Risk for Menopause! — ended when hormone replacement therapy was found to cause not prevent the symptoms women feared. A decade and a half of osteoporosis profits collapsed when bone drugs Fosamax, Boniva and Actonel were found to cause not prevent fractures and jaw bone death in some cases. Nor did it help that Boniva czar Sally Field allegedly broke a bone. Oops.
And speaking of causing not preventing, SSRI/SSNI antidepressants are linked to so many suicides — 660 in newspaper reports alone — the pharma founded and operated American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is staging massive anti-suicide walks in June against an epidemic it largely created.Even asthma inhalers are causing deaths they were supposed to prevent — nor are people rushing to inoculate their 11-year-old daughters with Gardisil. And let’s face it: the depression-with-pain and pain-with-depression fibromyaglia financial eddy can only last so long.

What’s a pharmaceutical industry in the middle of a recession with nothing in the pipeline but me-too drugs to do?
Say hello to monotherapy and treatment resistant conditions!
Expensive and dangerous drugs that don’t work are now said to not work as monotherapy. You need to add a second or third drug. Conditions that don’t respond to expensive and dangerous drugs (that don’t work) are now said to be treatment resistant — not conditions treated with the wrong drugs or assigned the wrong diagnoses.
“Monotherapy” and “treatment resistance” keep patients on their meds — including ones that fail as “monotherapy”–and insurers paying for them in the absence of any evidence they are working! (see: little light going out in the refrigerator.) They upsell patients who were on one med into increasingly common and perverse drug cocktails with several meds that require more drugs to treat the side effects. Best of all, they shift the emphasis from pharma’s failures to a patient’s “failures”: It’s not our drug that’s not working, it’s your treatment resistant condition! In other words, they’re a stimulus plan.

Of course even before the recession, pharma’s favorite payup was pediatric conditions covered by state disability tax dollars — also known as Claim Approved. No wonder pharma’s got new drug applications before the FDA for pediatric use of antipsychotics Seroquel, Geodon and Zyprexa this June. (Though judging from childhood diabetes cases in the US, the drugs are already in wide, off label use.) But thanks to the recession, the pediatric diseases that surfaced when pharma debuted pills for them like social anxiety, passive-aggressive, oppositional-defiance and personality disorders now have “treatment resistant” varieties. Think children can’t have “treatment resistant” depression, ADHD, aggression, mania, anxiety and bipolar, obsessive compulsive and mood disorders because they’re too young? You haven’t been to clinicaltrials.gov lately.

And speaking of clinical trials, drugs are also being tested on children with schizophrenia — a condition that was rare in childhood until recently and the recession.“Awareness of childhood-onset schizophrenia is rapidly increasing, with a more precise definition now available of the clinical picture and early signs, the outcome and the treatment strategies,” writes Gabriele Masi, MD, a Lilly funded doctor, in the journal CNS Drugs, lamenting the “hesitancy on the part of clinicians to make a diagnosis,” of schizophrenia. Symptoms of childhood schizophrenia — “social deficits” and “delusions . . . related to childhood themes” — might look like symptoms of childhood itself (hello) but Zyprexa in conjunction with “social, scholastic, and familial interventions,” writes Masi — once called “bringing a kid up” — can turn the child around. Of course Zyprexa has had a checkered past–at least as “monotherapy” — with manufacturer Lilly agreeing in April to pay the state of Georgia $6 million for hiding its diabetes, high blood sugar and excessive weight gain side effects in the latest in a string of damaging settlements. But in March it was granted a new lease on life when the FDA approved it in Lilly’s Zyprexa/Prozac combination drug, Symbyax, as the first treatment for adults with treatment resistant depression.

The April suicide of 7-year-old Gabriel Myers of Margate, FL who the Florida Department of Children & Families says was also prescribed Symbyax drew less attention.
Martha Rosenberg is a columnist/cartoonist who writes about public health. She can be reached at: martharosenberg@sbcglobal.net

NYT headlines match capitalist mouthpiece's lying content
Social Security Benefits Not Expected to Rise in ’10
For the first time in more than three decades, Social Security recipients will not get any increase in their benefits next year, federal forecasts show... The forecasts, by the Obama administration and the Congressional Budget Office, indicate that Social Security beneficiaries will not receive any cost-of-living increase in 2010 or in 2011.... President Obama’s budget assumes no increase in 2010 or 2011, then a 1.4 percent COLA in 2012... The increase this year was 5.8 percent....
The absence of a cost-of-living adjustment, calculated under a formula set by law, will be a shock to older Americans already hit by plummeting home values, investment losses and rising health costs. More than 50 million people receive Social Security.... A freeze in Social Security benefits would have major implications for Medicare because the COLA, in effect, puts a cap on premiums for Part B of Medicare, which covers doctors’ services.... about three-fourths of beneficiaries will not see any change in their basic Part B premiums, federal officials said. But some beneficiaries do not have this protection and could face substantial increases in their Part B premiums.... Under federal law, most Medicare beneficiaries have some protection.... But one-fourth of Medicare beneficiaries are not protected by the law, and their premiums could increase. Most Medicare beneficiaries pay a monthly Part B premium of $96.40. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the basic premium will rise to $119 next year and $123 in 2011 for those who are not protected under federal law...In addition, millions of beneficiaries could see higher premiums for drug coverage, provided under Part D of Medicare... President Bush failed in his effort to overhaul Social Security, and Medicare only grew larger during his administration with the addition of prescription drug coverage for retirees.
Mr. Obama promised a more intensive effort to weed inefficient and bloated programs out of the federal budget in the short run, creating a White House position to ''scour this budget, line by line, eliminating what we don't need, or what doesn't work, and improving the things that do.'' He named Nancy Killefer to the post, called chief performance officer. ...

no faux exclamations please of 'disappointment', 'shock', ad nauseam:
Published: January 8, 2009
President-elect Barack Obama said Wednesday that overhauling Social Security and Medicare would be ''a central part'' of his administration's efforts to contain federal spending, signaling for the first time that he would wade into the thorny politics of entitlement programs. Senator Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, the senior Republican on the Budget Committee, and his House counterpart, Representative Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, said the extensive borrowing by the government could be a disaster if Congressional Democrats and the new Obama administration did not also work on long-term solutions including changes to Social Security and Medicare.

Chemical Company Acquitted in Asbestos Case
A federal court jury on Friday acquitted the big chemical products company W. R. Grace and three of its former executives on all charges that they had knowingly contaminated the small Montana mining town of Libby with asbestos, then conspired to cover up the deed. At least 200 people have died of asbestos-related diseases and hundreds more have been sickened in Libby, population about 2,600. And there is no doubt that the Zonolite Mountain vermiculite mine, owned and operated by Grace from 1963 to 1990, was the source of the asbestos.
Legal experts said the case was an uphill climb for prosecutors almost from the beginning.Judge Donald W. Molloy refused, for example, to allow the jurors to see some evidence — ruling it overly prejudicial — including memorandums in which executives talked about the costs of people dying in Libby. ...The company could have been fined millions of dollars in fines if convicted, while defendants faced prison time of up to 15 years on the most serious charges... http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/09/us/09grace.html?th&emc=th

W.R. Grace indicted in Libby asbestos deaths
MISSOULA, Mont. -- W.R. Grace & Co. and seven of its current or former executives have been indicted on federal charges that they knowingly put their workers and the public in danger through exposure to vermiculite ore contaminated with asbestos from the company's mine in Libby, Mont. Hundreds of miners, their family members and townsfolk have died and at least 1,200 have been sickened from exposure to the asbestos-containing ore. The health effects also threaten workers, their families and residents everywhere the ore was shipped, including Seattle, and people living in millions of homes nationwide where it was used as insulation.... If found guilty, the individual defendants face from five to 15 years in prison on each count, which for some of the executives could be as much as 70 years.

Grace could be fined up to twice the profits from its alleged criminal acts or twice the losses suffered by victims. According to the indictments, Grace made more than $140 million in after-tax profits from the Libby mine, which would mean a fine of up to $280 million. Alternatively, the court could fine the company twice what it computes the loss to be from more than a thousand Libby victims. In addition, the court could order restitution for the victims.

"This criminal indictment is intended to send a clear message: We will pursue corporations and senior managers who knowingly disregard environmental laws and jeopardize the health and welfare of workers and the public," said Thomas Skinner, EPA's acting assistant administrator for enforcement, yesterday. The 49-page indictment accuses Grace of knowingly releasing asbestos into the air, placing miners, their families and townspeople at risk, and of defrauding the government by obstructing the efforts of various agencies including the EPA, increasing profits and avoiding liability for damages by doing so.

In 1999, journalist Andrew Schneider heard about a small Montana town where people were dying by the dozens. He broke the story of asbestos poisoning in Libby on the pages of The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, bringing nationwide attention to the threat. Hear him talk about how he pursued the story, how he found out that W. R. Grace and the government knew about the dangers in Libby and what happened after the story ran. http://www.pbs.org/pov/pov2007/libbymontana/special_02.html

P-I Investigation: The dangers of asbestos
If you think that the mining, production, sale and use of asbestos in America has been banned, you're mistaken. Since November 1999 the Seattle Post-Intelligencer has published a series of reports on the continuing risks posed by the nation's asbestos legacy [.... ]

P-I investigation: Uncivil Action
Andrew Schneider
Tens of thousands of pages of internal Grace documents and court papers were the basis of scores of stories in the P-I on Libby and the deadly ore that Grace shipped throughout the world.Those documents show years of extensive communication among Grace's top health, marketing and legal managers and mine officials in Libby about concealing the danger of asbestos in the ore and consumer products that were made from it. They discussed methods to keep federal investigators from studying the health of the miners, the potential harm to Grace sales if asbestos warnings were posted on its products, and the effort to mask the hazard of working with the contaminated ore. "The prosecution cannot eliminate the death and disease in Libby," said John Heberling, a lawyer with McGarvey, Heberling, Sullivan and McGarvey. "But there is comfort in the hope that criminal convictions will say to corporate America ... managers will be held criminally accountable if they lie and deny and watch workers die."
Federal environmental officials began examining the hazards in Libby after Nov. 19, 1999, when the Seattle Post-Intelligencer began publishing a series of stories about what the government has called "the nation's biggest environmental disaster." Within three days of the P-I's first report, an EPA emergency team arrived in the tiny northwestern Montana town.