Friday, February 29, 2008
The former World Bank vice-president yesterday said the war had, so far, cost the US something like $US3trillion ($3.3 trillion) compared with the $US50-$US60-billion predicted in 2003.
Professor Stiglitz told the Chatham House think tank in London that the Bush White House was currently estimating the cost of the war at about $US500 billion, but that figure massively understated things such as the medical and welfare costs of US military servicemen.
The war was now the second-most expensive in US history after World War II and the second-longest after Vietnam, he said.
The spending on Iraq was a hidden cause of the current credit crunch because the US central bank responded to the massive financial drain of the war by flooding the American economy with cheap credit.
"The regulators were looking the other way and money was being lent to anybody this side of a life-support system," he said.
That led to a housing bubble and a consumption boom, and the fallout was plunging the US economy into recession and saddling the next US president with the biggest budget deficit in history, he said.
--Josh Marshall (talkingpointsmemo.com)
Police have arrested a woman who they say robbed a bank in Brooklyn and then returned the money a week later.The woman allegedly walked into the North Fork Branch bank on New Utrecht Avenue in Bensonhurst shortly after 4:00 p.m. Thursday handing the teller an envelope before running out the door.
Thursday, February 28, 2008
February 28, 2008
HANGING ROCK, Ohio—At a campaign event this afternoon on Ohio’s southern-Appalachian border with West Virginia, Governor Ted Strickland introduced Hillary Clinton as a "person of substance.”
“I think she is a pretty good talker herself," he said, tacitly comparing her to Barack Obama. "But I like what she says, not just how she says it.”
So the campaign and its surrogates are definitely sticking with the talk-over-action theme, and Clinton herself argued that Barack Obama’s lack of experience was revealed by his failure to actually chair any meetings of the senate subcommittee on European affairs because he was too busy running for president. (“I don’t think he should be touting that as experience since he never did anything.”)
But for the most part, Clinton herself hammered home the theme that she is the candidate who is most absolutely committed to fighting for average Americans—like regular folks in Ohio.
At the small gym in the Ohio University Southern campus child development center, she spent most of her time talking about health care and, except for a few sharp remarks -- “My opponent only wants your children to have health insurance. I don’t think that’s smart”—she treated it as an opportunity to display her competence. Se answered questions, listened to testimonials and made the case that she was the candidate who knew the most about the issues and would fight the hardest to stick up for parents with sick children, sick parents who couldn’t provide for their children, recently unemployed women being crushed by the burdens of debts and unfair government programs, impoverished elderly people who “go without eating” and end up in the hospital.
Clinton received several moving questions, to which she nodded meaningfully, and gave reassuring replies—“I’m so sorry that this is all coming down on you at one time”—before delivering detailed explanations of what’s wrong with the government’s policies.
And maybe because she was just north of West Virginia, she had a rather folksy patois going.
She talked about how she had stopped for lunch in a Bob Evans restaurant where she said she fueled up on good food.
“Y’all know about that,” she said at one point. “There’s no tellin’ how much that costs,” she said at another.
“People in southeast Ohio are, as Ted tells me all the time, are salt of the earth, great people,” she said.
Near the end, Clinton asked the voters of Ohio to think of the election as a job interview and to “really stop and ask yourself what does our next president need to do.”
RAW STORYPublished: Thursday February 28, 2008
An organization for gay police officers expressed outrage Wednesday that charges could be dropped against a former television news anchor who was accused of assaulting an officer.
The New York City Region of the Gay Officers Action League said it was "outraged and deeply concerned" that prosecutors downgraded charges against Alycia Lane from felony assault to misdemeanor obstruction of government administration and harassment. The charges stem from a Dec. 16, 2007, incident in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood.
The league also criticized Criminal Court Judge Dina Douglas's decision on Monday to dismiss the reduced charges if Lane, who worked at a CBS affiliate in Philadelphia, isn't arrested for any reason within the next six months.
Lane, 35, confronted undercover officers who identified themselves, was disorderly, made homophobic remarks and struck a female officer in the face, the group said. The decision not to prosecute Lane on the original charges, it said, sends a "disturbing message" to the public.
"If people cannot control their anger and hatred and choose to confront and injure a police officer, then what chance does the everyday citizen have of expecting a general sense of personal safety in our city?" the league's executive director, Thomas Verni, said in a statement.
The original complaint against Lane said the assault caused lacerations and swelling on the officer's face. But Manhattan prosecutors said scratches on the officer's face did not rise to the level of physical injury that a felony charge requires.
Lane's attorney David S. Smith on Wednesday said his client maintains she never made derogatory comments or assaulted anyone. He said she has gay friends and a high regard for police officers.
Lane, a Long Island native who joined Philadelphia's KYW-TV in 2003, was fired Jan. 7.
Station president Michael Colleran said "it would be impossible" for Lane to continue to report the news because she had "become the focus of so many news stories."
Lane hit the headlines in May 2007 after she e-mailed photos of herself in a bikini to NFL network sports anchor Rich Eisen. The photos were intercepted by Eisen's wife, who fired back a tart response, congratulating Lane for her fit physique.
Lane said at the time that the pictures were meant to be good fun between old friends, not an attempt to interfere in Eisen's marriage.
It's not clear if Gallagher, who maintains his innocence, will accept the last-ditch deal before DA Richard Brown seeks a new indictment next week on charges the politician raped and assaulted a woman he had met in a bar last June 8, sources said yesterday.
Gallagher's attorney, Benjamin Brafman, and the District Attorney's Office refused comment.
The Republican councilman from Queens had rejected an earlier plea bargain in which he would have admitted to a felony assault and not served time, sources said.
It was unclear if that deal included resigning from office.
The case then went to a grand jury, but a judge tossed out the indictment and said there was "prosecutorial misconduct" related to the personal questions Gallagher was asked.
The judge ruled that Brown could impanel a new grand jury, which begins work next week.
Among the differences in this new round of negotiations is reducing the assault charge from a serious felony to a misdemeanor and giving Gallagher a conditional discharge, which means no jail time or probation if he stays out of trouble, sources said.
It's unclear whether the misdemeanor charge would be assault or sexual misconduct, although he would not be required to register as a sex offender.
Sources said prosecutors want it to be part of the record that his 52-year-old alleged victim, who says he picked her up in a Middle Village bar, was under the influence and unable to consent to sex.
Gallagher, free on $200,000 bail, has maintained the sex was consensual.
But a source said he has engaged in plea talks to avoid the "embarrassment" of a trial.
Yesterday, the alleged victim was stunned to learn she had not been told of the DA's new offer.
"I have not heard of any changes in the case," she said.
"If that was the case, then I think they would have told me."
Gallagher was elected to the council in 2001 and represents Middle Village. After the arrest, he resigned his position as minority whip.
The mayor has done some great things for the environment. However, he should check out the peeling paint on the ceiling of the City Council chambers in his own non-green City Hall. That being said...test for the lead Bloombito. (see photo)
Good news for New Yorkers. And Earthers. New York City set new fuel emissions standards for the city's 10,000 black taxis Wednesday. Town car owners must switch to hybrid tech within 5 years. The move, reports Reuters, is part of Mayor Bloomberg's grand plan to decrease the city's carbon emissions by 30 percent by 2030. Yellow cabs in New York are already under a 2012 deadline for going green. Black town cars serve mostly corporate clients and make 2 percent of the city's transport-related emissions. Hybrids will cut that in half.
Not to mention sweeten the urban air.
By GRACE RAUHStaff Reporter of the SunFebruary 27, 2008
Rarely mentioned as a leading candidate for mayor in 2009, Marty Markowitz is leading a recent poll weighing the prospects of potential Democratic candidates to succeed Mayor Bloomberg.
In a WNBC/Marist poll released yesterday, 18% of the registered Democrats surveyed said they would support the Brooklyn president if next year's Democratic primary for mayor were held today. Thirteen percent of voters surveyed said they would support Rep. Anthony Weiner, 11% said they would support City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, 9% backed the city comptroller, William Thompson Jr., 9% chose the public advocate, Betsy Gotbaum, and 4% said they would support Council Member Tony Avella. Thirty-six percent of voters said they were unsure whom they would support.
"I am genuinely flattered," Mr. Markowitz, who is considered by many to be Brooklyn's most vocal cheerleader, said yesterday. He said he does not feel slighted that his name has not been floated more often for mayor because he said he has not yet decided whether to run.
As of January 15, Mr. Markowitz had raised about $901,000 for a political campaign, according to the city's Campaign Finance Board. Mr. Thompson had raised about $4.2 million, Mr. Weiner had raised about $3.6 million, and Ms. Quinn had raised nearly $2.5 million.
Yesterday's poll also found that 66% of voters say Mr. Bloomberg is doing an excellent or good job and that 25% of voters want him to run for president in 2008. Sixty-six percent of voters surveyed said they did not want him to run. Seventy-four percent of voters surveyed said they don't think Mr. Bloomberg can win as an independent candidate.
The poll was conducted between February 18 and 20. The survey of 649 city voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 4%, and the survey of 437 Democratic voters had a margin of error of plus or minus 5%.
Posted on 02/27/2008 8:24:39 PM PST by Kaslin
WASHINGTON — The question has nagged at the parents of Americans born outside the continental United States for generations: Dare their children aspire to grow up and become president? In the case of Senator John McCain of Arizona, the issue is becoming more than a matter of parental daydreaming.
Mr. McCain’s likely nomination as the Republican candidate for president and the happenstance of his birth in the Panama Canal Zone in 1936 are reviving a musty debate that has surfaced periodically since the founders first set quill to parchment and declared that only a “natural-born citizen” can hold the nation’s highest office.
Almost since those words were written in 1787 with scant explanation, their precise meaning has been the stuff of confusion, law school review articles, whisper campaigns and civics class debates over whether only those delivered on American soil can be truly natural born. To date, no American to take the presidential oath has had an official birthplace outside the 50 states.
“There are powerful arguments that Senator McCain or anyone else in this position is constitutionally qualified, but there is certainly no precedent,” said Sarah H. Duggin, an associate professor of law at Catholic University who has studied the issue extensively. “It is not a slam-dunk situation.”
Mr. McCain was born on a military installation in the Canal Zone, where his mother and father, a Navy officer, were stationed. His campaign advisers say they are comfortable that Mr. McCain meets the requirement and note that the question was researched for his first presidential bid in 1999 and reviewed again this time around.
The idea isn't to keep airmen in the dark -- they can still access news sources that are "primary, official-use sources," said Maj. Henry Schott, A5 for Air Force Network Operations. "Basically ... if it's a place like The New York Times, an established, reputable media outlet, then it's fairly cut and dry that that's a good source, an authorized source," he said ...
AFNOC blocks sites by using Blue Coat software, which categorizes sites based on their content and allows users to block sub-categories as they choose.
"Often, we block first and then review exceptions," said Tech. Sgt. Christopher DeWitt, a Cyber Command spokesman.
As a result, airmen posting online have cited instances of seemingly innocuous sites -- such as educational databases and some work-related sites -- getting wrapped up in broad proxy filters.
Wednesday, February 27, 2008
If Washington turned its definition of terror on the U.S., America could rise to the top of its own most-wanted list.
'John McSame': Meet Bush's Anti-Choice Clone
Cristina Page, Huffington Post
One of Noam Chomsky's latest books -- a conversation with David Barsamian -- is entitled What We Say Goes. It catches a powerful theme of Chomsky's: that we have long been living on a one-way planet and that the language we regularly wield to describe the realities of our world is tailored to Washington's interests.
Juan Cole, at his Informed Comment website, had a good example of the strangeness of this targeted language recently. When Serbs stormed the U.S. Embassy in Belgrade, he offered the following comment (with so many years of the term "Islamofascism" in mind): "...given that the Serbs are Eastern Orthodox Christians, will the Republican Party and Fox Cable News now start fulminating against 'Christofascism?'"
Of course, the minute you try to turn the Washington norm (in word or act) around, as Chomsky did in a piece entitled What If Iran Had Invaded Mexico?, you've already entered the theater of the absurd. "Terror" is a particularly good example of this. "Terror" is something that, by (recent) definition, is committed by free-floating groups or movements against innocent civilians and is utterly reprehensible (unless the group turns out to be the CIA running car bombs into Baghdad or car and camel bombs into Afghanistan, in which case it's not a topic that's either much discussed, or condemned in our world). On the other hand, that weapon of terror, air power, which is at the heart of the American way of war, simply doesn't qualify under the category of "terror" at all -- no matter how terrifying it may be to innocent civilians who find themselves underneath the missiles and bombs.
It's with this in mind that Chomsky turns to terror of every kind in the Middle East in the context of the car bombing of a major figure in Lebanon's Hizbollah movement. By the way, The Essential Chomsky (edited by Anthony Arnove), a new collection of his writings on politics and on language from the 1950s to the present, has just been published and is highly recommended. Introduction by TomDispatch editor, Tom Engelhardt.
The Most Wanted ListInternational Terrorism
By Noam Chomsky
On February 13, Imad Moughniyeh, a senior commander of Hizbollah, was assassinated in Damascus. "The world is a better place without this man in it," State Department spokesperson Sean McCormack said: "one way or the other he was brought to justice." Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell added that Moughniyeh has been "responsible for more deaths of Americans and Israelis than any other terrorist with the exception of Osama bin Laden."
Joy was unconstrained in Israel too, as "one of the U.S. and Israel's most wanted men" was brought to justice, the London Financial Times reported. Under the heading, "A militant wanted the world over," an accompanying story reported that he was "superseded on the most-wanted list by Osama bin Laden" after 9/11 and so ranked only second among "the most wanted militants in the world."
The terminology is accurate enough, according to the rules of Anglo-American discourse, which defines "the world" as the political class in Washington and London (and whoever happens to agree with them on specific matters). It is common, for example, to read that "the world" fully supported George Bush when he ordered the bombing of Afghanistan. That may be true of "the world," but hardly of the world, as revealed in an international Gallup Poll after the bombing was announced. Global support was slight. In Latin America, which has some experience with U.S. behavior, support ranged from 2% in Mexico to 16% in Panama, and that support was conditional upon the culprits being identified (they still weren't eight months later, the FBI reported), and civilian targets being spared (they were attacked at once). There was an overwhelming preference in the world for diplomatic/judicial measures, rejected out of hand by "the world."
Following the Terror Trail
In the present case, if "the world" were extended to the world, we might find some other candidates for the honor of most hated arch-criminal. It is instructive to ask why this might be true.
The Financial Times reports that most of the charges against Moughniyeh are unsubstantiated, but "one of the very few times when his involvement can be ascertained with certainty [is in] the hijacking of a TWA plane in 1985 in which a U.S. Navy diver was killed." This was one of two terrorist atrocities the led a poll of newspaper editors to select terrorism in the Middle East as the top story of 1985; the other was the hijacking of the passenger liner Achille Lauro, in which a crippled American, Leon Klinghoffer, was brutally murdered,. That reflects the judgment of "the world." It may be that the world saw matters somewhat differently.
The Achille Lauro hijacking was a retaliation for the bombing of Tunis ordered a week earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres. His air force killed 75 Tunisians and Palestinians with smart bombs that tore them to shreds, among other atrocities, as vividly reported from the scene by the prominent Israeli journalist Amnon Kapeliouk. Washington cooperated by failing to warn its ally Tunisia that the bombers were on the way, though the Sixth Fleet and U.S. intelligence could not have been unaware of the impending attack. Secretary of State George Shultz informed Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir that Washington "had considerable sympathy for the Israeli action," which he termed "a legitimate response" to "terrorist attacks," to general approbation. A few days later, the UN Security Council unanimously denounced the bombing as an "act of armed aggression" (with the U.S. abstaining). "Aggression" is, of course, a far more serious crime than international terrorism. But giving the United States and Israel the benefit of the doubt, let us keep to the lesser charge against their leadership.
A few days after, Peres went to Washington to consult with the leading international terrorist of the day, Ronald Reagan, who denounced "the evil scourge of terrorism," again with general acclaim by "the world."
The "terrorist attacks" that Shultz and Peres offered as the pretext for the bombing of Tunis were the killings of three Israelis in Larnaca, Cyprus. The killers, as Israel conceded, had nothing to do with Tunis, though they might have had Syrian connections. Tunis was a preferable target, however. It was defenseless, unlike Damascus. And there was an extra pleasure: more exiled Palestinians could be killed there.
The Larnaca killings, in turn, were regarded as retaliation by the perpetrators: They were a response to regular Israeli hijackings in international waters in which many victims were killed -- and many more kidnapped and sent to prisons in Israel, commonly to be held without charge for long periods. The most notorious of these has been the secret prison/torture chamber Facility 1391. A good deal can be learned about it from the Israeli and foreign press. Such regular Israeli crimes are, of course, known to editors of the national press in the U.S., and occasionally receive some casual mention.
Klinghoffer's murder was properly viewed with horror, and is very famous. It was the topic of an acclaimed opera and a made-for-TV movie, as well as much shocked commentary deploring the savagery of Palestinians -- "two-headed beasts" (Prime Minister Menachem Begin), "drugged roaches scurrying around in a bottle" (Chief of Staff Raful Eitan), "like grasshoppers compared to us," whose heads should be "smashed against the boulders and walls" (Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir). Or more commonly just "Araboushim," the slang counterpart of "kike" or "nigger."
Thus, after a particularly depraved display of settler-military terror and purposeful humiliation in the West Bank town of Halhul in December 1982, which disgusted even Israeli hawks, the well-known military/political analyst Yoram Peri wrote in dismay that one "task of the army today [is] to demolish the rights of innocent people just because they are Araboushim living in territories that God promised to us," a task that became far more urgent, and was carried out with far more brutality, when the Araboushim began to "raise their heads" a few years later.
We can easily assess the sincerity of the sentiments expressed about the Klinghoffer murder. It is only necessary to investigate the reaction to comparable U.S.-backed Israeli crimes. Take, for example, the murder in April 2002 of two crippled Palestinians, Kemal Zughayer and Jamal Rashid, by Israeli forces rampaging through the refugee camp of Jenin in the West Bank. Zughayer's crushed body and the remains of his wheelchair were found by British reporters, along with the remains of the white flag he was holding when he was shot dead while seeking to flee the Israeli tanks which then drove over him, ripping his face in two and severing his arms and legs. Jamal Rashid was crushed in his wheelchair when one of Israel's huge U.S.-supplied Caterpillar bulldozers demolished his home in Jenin with his family inside. The differential reaction, or rather non-reaction, has become so routine and so easy to explain that no further commentary is necessary.
Plainly, the 1985 Tunis bombing was a vastly more severe terrorist crime than the Achille Lauro hijacking, or the crime for which Moughniyeh's "involvement can be ascertained with certainty" in the same year. But even the Tunis bombing had competitors for the prize for worst terrorist atrocity in the Mideast in the peak year of 1985.
One challenger was a car-bombing in Beirut right outside a mosque, timed to go off as worshippers were leaving Friday prayers. It killed 80 people and wounded 256. Most of the dead were girls and women, who had been leaving the mosque, though the ferocity of the blast "burned babies in their beds," "killed a bride buying her trousseau," and "blew away three children as they walked home from the mosque." It also "devastated the main street of the densely populated" West Beirut suburb, reported Nora Boustany three years later in the Washington Post.
The intended target had been the Shi'ite cleric Sheikh Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah, who escaped. The bombing was carried out by Reagan's CIA and his Saudi allies, with Britain's help, and was specifically authorized by CIA Director William Casey, according to Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's account in his book Veil: The Secret Wars of the CIA, 1981-1987. Little is known beyond the bare facts, thanks to rigorous adherence to the doctrine that we do not investigate our own crimes (unless they become too prominent to suppress, and the inquiry can be limited to some low-level "bad apples" who were naturally "out of control").
A third competitor for the 1985 Mideast terrorism prize was Prime Minister Peres' "Iron Fist" operations in southern Lebanese territories then occupied by Israel in violation of Security Council orders. The targets were what the Israeli high command called "terrorist villagers." Peres's crimes in this case sank to new depths of "calculated brutality and arbitrary murder" in the words of a Western diplomat familiar with the area, an assessment amply supported by direct coverage. They are, however, of no interest to "the world" and therefore remain uninvestigated, in accordance with the usual conventions. We might well ask whether these crimes fall under international terrorism or the far more severe crime of aggression, but let us again give the benefit of the doubt to Israel and its backers in Washington and keep to the lesser charge.
These are a few of the thoughts that might cross the minds of people elsewhere in the world, even if not those of "the world," when considering "one of the very few times" Imad Moughniyeh was clearly implicated in a terrorist crime.
The U.S. also accuses him of responsibility for devastating double suicide truck-bomb attacks on U.S. Marine and French paratrooper barracks in Lebanon in 1983, killing 241 Marines and 58 paratroopers, as well as a prior attack on the U.S. Embassy in Beirut, killing 63, a particularly serious blow because of a meeting there of CIA officials at the time.
The Financial Times has, however, attributed the attack on the Marine barracks to Islamic Jihad, not Hizbollah. Fawaz Gerges, one of the leading scholars on the jihadi movements and on Lebanon, has written that responsibility was taken by an "unknown group called Islamic Jihad." A voice speaking in classical Arabic called for all Americans to leave Lebanon or face death. It has been claimed that Moughniyeh was the head of Islamic Jihad at the time, but to my knowledge, evidence is sparse.
The opinion of the world has not been sampled on the subject, but it is possible that there might be some hesitancy about calling an attack on a military base in a foreign country a "terrorist attack," particularly when U.S. and French forces were carrying out heavy naval bombardments and air strikes in Lebanon, and shortly after the U.S. provided decisive support for the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, which killed some 20,000 people and devastated the south, while leaving much of Beirut in ruins. It was finally called off by President Reagan when international protest became too intense to ignore after the Sabra-Shatila massacres.
In the United States, the Israeli invasion of Lebanon is regularly described as a reaction to Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terrorist attacks on northern Israel from their Lebanese bases, making our crucial contribution to these major war crimes understandable. In the real world, the Lebanese border area had been quiet for a year, apart from repeated Israeli attacks, many of them murderous, in an effort to elicit some PLO response that could be used as a pretext for the already planned invasion. Its actual purpose was not concealed at the time by Israeli commentators and leaders: to safeguard the Israeli takeover of the occupied West Bank. It is of some interest that the sole serious error in Jimmy Carter's book Palestine: Peace not Apartheid is the repetition of this propaganda concoction about PLO attacks from Lebanon being the motive for the Israeli invasion. The book was bitterly attacked, and desperate efforts were made to find some phrase that could be misinterpreted, but this glaring error -- the only one -- was ignored. Reasonably, since it satisfies the criterion of adhering to useful doctrinal fabrications.
Killing without Intent
Another allegation is that Moughniyeh "masterminded" the bombing of Israel's embassy in Buenos Aires on March 17, 1992, killing 29 people, in response, as the Financial Times put it, to Israel's "assassination of former Hizbollah leader Abbas Al-Mussawi in an air attack in southern Lebanon." About the assassination, there is no need for evidence: Israel proudly took credit for it. The world might have some interest in the rest of the story. Al-Mussawi was murdered with a U.S.-supplied helicopter, well north of Israel's illegal "security zone" in southern Lebanon. He was on his way to Sidon from the village of Jibshit, where he had spoken at the memorial for another Imam murdered by Israeli forces. The helicopter attack also killed his wife and five-year old child. Israel then employed U.S.-supplied helicopters to attack a car bringing survivors of the first attack to a hospital.
After the murder of the family, Hezbollah "changed the rules of the game," Prime Minister Rabin informed the Israeli Knesset. Previously, no rockets had been launched at Israel. Until then, the rules of the game had been that Israel could launch murderous attacks anywhere in Lebanon at will, and Hizbollah would respond only within Israeli-occupied Lebanese territory.
After the murder of its leader (and his family), Hizbollah began to respond to Israeli crimes in Lebanon by rocketing northern Israel. The latter is, of course, intolerable terror, so Rabin launched an invasion that drove some 500,000 people out of their homes and killed well over 100. The merciless Israeli attacks reached as far as northern Lebanon.
In the south, 80% of the city of Tyre fled and Nabatiye was left a "ghost town," Jibshit was about 70% destroyed according to an Israeli army spokesperson, who explained that the intent was "to destroy the village completely because of its importance to the Shi'ite population of southern Lebanon." The goal was "to wipe the villages from the face of the earth and sow destruction around them," as a senior officer of the Israeli northern command described the operation.
Jibshit may have been a particular target because it was the home of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid, kidnapped and brought to Israel several years earlier. Obeid's home "received a direct hit from a missile," British journalist Robert Fisk reported, "although the Israelis were presumably gunning for his wife and three children." Those who had not escaped hid in terror, wrote Mark Nicholson in the Financial Times, "because any visible movement inside or outside their houses is likely to attract the attention of Israeli artillery spotters, who... were pounding their shells repeatedly and devastatingly into selected targets." Artillery shells were hitting some villages at a rate of more than 10 rounds a minute at times.
All of this received the firm support of President Bill Clinton, who understood the need to instruct the Araboushim sternly on the "rules of the game." And Rabin emerged as another grand hero and man of peace, so different from the two-legged beasts, grasshoppers, and drugged roaches.
This is only a small sample of facts that the world might find of interest in connection with the alleged responsibility of Moughniyeh for the retaliatory terrorist act in Buenos Aires.
Other charges are that Moughniyeh helped prepare Hizbollah defenses against the 2006 Israeli invasion of Lebanon, evidently an intolerable terrorist crime by the standards of "the world," which understands that the United States and its clients must face no impediments in their just terror and aggression.
The more vulgar apologists for U.S. and Israeli crimes solemnly explain that, while Arabs purposely kill people, the U.S. and Israel, being democratic societies, do not intend to do so. Their killings are just accidental ones, hence not at the level of moral depravity of their adversaries. That was, for example, the stand of Israel's High Court when it recently authorized severe collective punishment of the people of Gaza by depriving them of electricity (hence water, sewage disposal, and other such basics of civilized life).
The same line of defense is common with regard to some of Washington's past peccadilloes, like the destruction in 1998 of the al-Shifa pharmaceutical plant in Sudan. The attack apparently led to the deaths of tens of thousands of people, but without intent to kill them, hence not a crime on the order of intentional killing -- so we are instructed by moralists who consistently suppress the response that had already been given to these vulgar efforts at self-justification.
To repeat once again, we can distinguish three categories of crimes: murder with intent, accidental killing, and murder with foreknowledge but without specific intent. Israeli and U.S. atrocities typically fall into the third category. Thus, when Israel destroys Gaza's power supply or sets up barriers to travel in the West Bank, it does not specifically intend to murder the particular people who will die from polluted water or in ambulances that cannot reach hospitals. And when Bill Clinton ordered the bombing of the al-Shifa plant, it was obvious that it would lead to a humanitarian catastrophe. Human Rights Watch immediately informed him of this, providing details; nevertheless, he and his advisers did not intend to kill specific people among those who would inevitably die when half the pharmaceutical supplies were destroyed in a poor African country that could not replenish them.
Rather, they and their apologists regarded Africans much as we do the ants we crush while walking down a street. We are aware that it is likely to happen (if we bother to think about it), but we do not intend to kill them because they are not worthy of such consideration. Needless to say, comparable attacks by Araboushim in areas inhabited by human beings would be regarded rather differently.
If, for a moment, we can adopt the perspective of the world, we might ask which criminals are "wanted the world over."
REUTERSReuters US Online Report Top News
Feb 26, 2008 18:16 EST
NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York City has agreed to pay $21 million to settle a class action lawsuit that claimed the city's parks department discriminated against black and Hispanic employees seeking better pay and promotion, officials said on Tuesday.
The suit, filed in 2001 on behalf of 3,500 people, said that between 1997 and 2004 the department retaliated against black and Hispanic employees who complained about discrimination and neglected parks in neighborhoods that housed black and Hispanic populations.
As part of the settlement, in which almost $12 million would be distributed among the 3,500 claimants and almost $9 million paid in lawyers fees and costs, the city agreed to review its pay and promotion decisions.
"While it was a long time coming, it is a significant step in the direction of equal employment opportunity for African-American and Latino employees of the City of New York," Cynthia Rollings, an attorney representing the plaintiffs, said in a statement.
New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg told reporters the claims dated back some time ago and he was "satisfied" the city did not discriminate against employees.
A trial had been due to begin in November.
(Reporting by Christine Kearney; Editing by Michelle Nichols and Eric Walsh)
By David Freedlander, amNewYork Staff Writer More stories mailto:email@example.com?subject=amNY.com
February 27, 2008
Members of the City Council spent more than $28,000 on travel outside of New York City last year, an analysis by amNewYork shows.The council's biggest spender was James Sanders (D-Laurelton) who billed the city more than $6,000 for workshops in Denver, Dallas and upstate. Sanders said his travel has helped the economic growth of his district, which includes the Rockaways, Springfield Gardens and Rosedale.
Photos: City Council speaker Christine Quinn Photos
Christine Quinn on the issues Video
Year-end chat with Christine Quinn Video
"I do believe that training must be non-stop and New York is not the only place with knowledge. You have to go to where the knowledge is," he said. "I didn't choose these sites. Denver in the winter is not a very luxurious place."
Sanders, who was fined $1,000 last year for keeping his wife on his legislative staff, spent more than $1,700 at the National Business Incubation Association workshop, including more than $400 spent for lodging at the Adams Mark hotel in Denver.The group assists small businesses in the early stages of their development and Sanders said he hoped to bring that knowledge to work in his district.
He also spent nearly $800 on a two-night staff retreat in Millwood, N.Y., the only councilmember to bill the city for that kind of event."If you can get your staff to give up their weekend and get thoroughly trained, I would argue that's cost effective," he said. "This shows that I am a very conscientious person who understands the needs of his district."
Sanders' travel only outpaced City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, who got her out-of-town passport stamped 10 times at taxpayer cost of more than $5,000, including visits to Texas to visit with troops from New York City, to New Orleans to advocate for the city's tourism industry and an $800 trip to Washington. D.C. for the Human Rights Campaign Board reception and dinner.
Quinn could not be reached for comment, but a spokesman, Andrew Doba, said in a statement, "As elected officials, it is not uncommon for the speaker and members of the council to travel on official business."Good-government watchdogs were divided about the usefulness of such travel."There are trips that make sense for public officials to be taking and there are trips that are unrelated to real public business," said Susan Lerner, executive director of Common Cause.
"We are all creative, and so can come up with some reason why a certain trip is for the public's benefit if we try hard enough."She added however, "One thing we criticize public officials for is going on junkets that are paid for by lobbyists and corporate interests, so we can't then say it's not OK for them to travel on the public dime."
Of the 51 council members, only 22 took trips at taxpayers' expense, and most of their excursions were lobbying trips to Albany or Washington, D.C."I think some of these things we should pay ourselves and not bear the cost along to the public," said Councilman Charles Barron , (D-Brooklyn) who said he will be paying his own way for upcoming trips to Albany and Cuba, and spent upwards of $3,000 last year traveling to Africa. "Sometimes a lot of these trips to Albany or what not are big social gatherings and hardly anything gets done. To me, paying for it is just some of the sacrifice that a public official should make."
Tuesday, February 26, 2008
Hillary herself responds to the Drudge claim that her campaign circulated a pic of Obama in native garb, saying she knows nothing about it:
"Every time I traveled to foreign countries, I wore the costume of the country. You can find dozen of pictures of me in different parts of the world. You can find me wearing African outfits, Latin American outfits, Asian outfits, when you travel to foreign countries, it’s a sign of respect. What does that have to do with anything?"
For the conspiratorially minded, in the wake of Sept. 11 and emails falsely claiming Obama is a Muslim, a picture showing him dressed in a turban might be more damaging than your normal native-garb shot. But in any event, on a day dominated by the Drudge story, it seems somehow fitting that we end with this photo, from a trip to Ghana, brought to our attention by a reader:
Newsweek pulls together some pieces of the Clinton effort to turn Jewish voters off from Obama, including a top Hillary aide misidentifying Zbigniew Brzezinski as Obama's "chief foreign-policy adviser" (he's not, but he's disliked by many Jewish voters), and this anecdote:
"In one case, Daphna Ziman, a longtime friend of Hillary Clinton's who has co-chaired several events for her, forwarded an e-mail from the Republican Jewish Coalition, a grass-roots GOP group, criticizing Obama for proposing a Muslim summit. In a Jan. 31 interview with Paris Match, Obama said he wanted 'an honest discussion about ways to bridge the gap that grows between Muslims and the West.' Ziman, in her Feb. 2 e-mail, responded, 'I am horrified at Mr. Obama's point of view.' "
Wouldn't want to bridge that gap! But Ziman, it should be noted, has no official role in the Hillary campaign.
February 24, 2008 -- NEWS of Mayor Bloomberg's crackdown on privileged parkers hasn't reached his own community board, which has authorized a synagogue a dozen blocks from the mayor's home to use homemade parking placards.
Officials at Community Board 8, which covers the Upper East Side, even sent out an e-mail last week spelling out the peculiar deal it made with the Park East Synagogue on East 67th Street.
Bloomberg - who has ordered a sharp cutback in government parking placards - lives just a stroll away on East 79th Street.
"After a very lengthy and detailed discussion, [Park East] agreed to the recommendation that they reduce the number of placards to eight by the end of June 2008, then decrease by four by June 2009, and two the following year, until the number of placards in use is reduced to two by June 2010," said the e-mail from Assistant District Manager Latha Thompson.
The message was sent to an irate resident, who has been complaining for months that Park East was manufacturing its own parking placards, and that the 19th Precinct next door was honoring them.
City Councilman Dan Garodnick (D-Manhattan) told The Post the community board was way out of bounds.
"It's unacceptable for individuals to be generating their own parking placards," he said.
Garodnick - who appoints members to the community board - said he wants all the synagogue's permits yanked, since only government entities can issue official parking placards.
Bloomberg is tightening that restriction on March 1, when 20 percent of all placards are supposed to be surrendered and placard-issuing powers will be limited to the NYPD and the Department of Transportation.
Park East director Joel Baum said the permits date back to before he came on board, and are used by teachers at the synagogue's school, a privilege accorded to public-school teachers as well.
"It has nothing really to do with the synagogue directly," he said.
CB-8 officials declined comment, saying that only the chairman, David Liston, could talk to the press and he's out of the country.
By Greg Sargent - February 25, 2008, 12:33PM
Hillary spokesperson Mo Elleithee, traveling with the campaign, offers some more push-back against the Obama camp's criticism over the Drudge story saying Clinton staffers "circulated" a photo of Obama in Somali garb:
“We have over 700 people on staff. I don’t know if someone on our staff sent it out or not," Elleithee said. “If someone on our staff makes the point that we are treated differently by the press than Sen. Obama, we agree with that sentiment. We don’t think there’s anything wrong with this photo. Sen. Clinton has herself, while traveling abroad, dressed in traditional, local dress. And there’s nothing divisive about that."
He also tried to push back at Obama: "We think it is wrong for the Obama campaign to say that this is divisive photo. It’s not a divisive photo."
The Hillary camp's earlier push-back didn't address the question of whether the Clinton camp had "circulated" the email; now this Clinton spokesperson is saying he doesn't know if any Clinton staffer had any role in it, and is saying that moving the photo shouldn't be seen as controversial in any case.
It's worth pointing out that the sole source thus far for the existence of this email is Drudge, and he didn't say what level of Clinton "staffer" circulated it and to whom it was circulated. Yet this is still commanding a huge amount of attention.
NYPD Slow to Curb Bigotry? A Federal lawsuit alleging that a former NYPD contractor repeatedly sent anti-Muslim and anti-Arab e-mail messages to an Egyptian-born NYPD analyst raises some troubling questions about the department's slow response.
U.S. District Court Judge Barbara Jones recently rejected the claim by the ex-contractor, Bruce Tefft, that his posts were protected speech under the First Amendment, permitting the unidentified analyst, an undercover officer at the NYPD's Cyber Unit, to proceed with his suit.
That officer, who for the past decade has worked for the NYPD Intelligence Division, charged that Mr. Tefft's toxic e-mails included the statement, "a good Muslim ... can't be a good American" and, "Has the U.S. threatened to vaporize Mecca? Excellent idea, if true." He also accused Mr. Tefft of telling employees in the Intelligence Division that they should not trust him because "Muslims have no place in law enforcement."
The lawsuit claims that these e-mail messages were sent from mid-2002 through the end of 2005, and among those who received them were the chief of the Intelligence Division, Deputy Commissioner David Cohen, who like Mr. Tefft is a former CIA official. The NYPD has said it terminated its contract with Mr. Tefft's firm, Orion, in 2003, after the analyst protested, but the messages continued being sent until his 2006 employment discrimination complaint.
The NYPD has claimed Deputy Commissioner Cohen was not aware of the e-mails until the analyst complained, contrary to what is charged in the suit.
If, in fact, he was receiving them from the outset, it raises questions about why the contract with Mr. Tefft's firm was not immediately terminated. The analyst also charged that other supervisors in the NYPD were unsympathetic to his complaints, and that one Lieutenant told him, "All Arabs are animals."
The Counter-Terrorism Division should not be a place where the kind of virulent racism expressed in Mr. Tefft's e-mails is condoned or echoed. Such behavior is un-American, and also violates everything that city government and the Police Department are supposed to represent.
Sunday, February 24, 2008
Havana. February 24, 2008
Raúl Castro elected president of the councils of State and Ministers
RAÚL Castro Ruz was elected on Sunday as president of Cuba’s councils of State and Ministers during the constituent session of the National Assembly of People’s Power (Parliament), held in Havana’s International Convention Center.
After the Assembly went back into session in the afternoon, Ricardo Alarcón de Quesada, reelected as president of the National Assembly, also announced that José Ramón Machado Ventura was elected first vice president of the councils of State and Ministers, and Juan Almeida Bosque, Abelardo Colomé Ibarra, Carlos Lage Dávila, Esteban Lazo Hernández and Julio Casas Regueiro were elected as vice presidents.
José Millar Barruecos was elected secretary of the Council of State.
The other 23 members of the Council of State were also announced.
Translated by Granma International •
Serbian girls loot stores in Belgrade after a riot. Kosovo, a province of Serbia was given it's independence from Serbia. Serbs were not too happy about the arrangement since it was partially brokered by Prez. Bush. In retaliation, they stole sneakers and other merchandise. Maybe Al Sharpton will hold a press conference.
Proposal for Alarcón to be reelected as president of Cuban parliament
• RICARDO Alarcón de Quesada and Jaime Crombet Hernández-Vaquero have been nominated to be ratified as president and vice-president, respectively, of the National Assembly, while Miriam Brito was proposed as secretary of this legislative body during the constituent session that took place this morning in Havana.
With the swearing-in of the 614 deputies to the National Assembly of People’s Power of the Republic of Cuba, the 7th Legislature of this legislative body was established in Havana.
As has already been mentioned, the deputies who were elected during the general elections in Cuba last January 20 have the responsibility of selecting the president, vice president and secretary of the National Assembly, once their election has been validated, they have signed their oaths and established the supreme body.
The inaugural session was chaired by María Esther Reus, president of the National Electoral Commission, accompanied by Alina Barreiro and Tomás Amarán, vice president and secretary, respectively, of the body.
María Esther Reus reported that the composition of the deputies includes 175 members linked to production and services, workers, campesinos and cooperative workers, educationalists and healthcare personnel.
Of the total, 348 are men and 266, women. The average age of the representatives is 49 years old, but among the Assembly’s members there are 131 aged between 18-40 years old and 56% were born after the triumph of the Revolution.
Some 35.67% of the representatives are Black or mixed race, while 64.33% are white.
Deputy Fidel Castro Ruz sent his vote, duly sealed, with Deputies José Miyar Barrueco and Carlos Valenciaga. (Lisanka Gonzàlez Suárez)
Translated by Granma International •
Photographers and videographers, whether amateur or professional (but not carrying an NYPD press pass), have long been battling various agencies over the right to photograph parts of the city. Whether it's the MTA trying to crack down on photographs of the subway system or the Mayor's Office of Theater, Film and Broadcasting trying require permits and liability insurance for small groups, people have protested (noting civil liberties concerns) and the agencies have largely backed down (though the NYPD still arrests and MTA police officers still harass).
Oregon lawyer Bert Krages, who has spoken on NPR about the issue, drafted a "Photographer's Bill of Rights" (here's a PDF you can print out) which describes your rights as a photographer if you're stopped. Regarding his brush, Holmes added, "Those crafty terrorists -- blow up the 9th St bridge, and they'll bring this country to its knees." You can see more of his photographs at joe's nyc.
Posted: February 21, 200810:48 pm Eastern© 2008 WorldNetDaily
WASHINGTON – Two more Iraqis with false Bulgarian passports were detained by Mexican officials in Monterrey – bringing the total to four this month.
Wisam Gorgies, a 34-year-old man, and Rana Nazar Peyoz, a 26-year-old woman, reportedly flew from Madrid and landed in Monterrey, according to reports in two Mexican newspapers today.
Following questioning, the pair admitted they intended to reach the United States. They were taken to Saltillo in the state of Coahuila, for final determination of their status.
Mexican officials said the are investigating "a network that could be made up of Mexicans operating in Greece who are selling false Bulgarian passports for $10,000 to European and Middle Eastern citizens."
Earlier this month, El Universal, a daily in Mexico City, reported two other Iraqis, Markos Ramy, a 25-year-old man, and Sollem Pate, a 20-year-old woman, presented Bulgarian passports upon arrival at the Monterrey airport after a flight from Spain.
They told customs officials they came as tourists for a couple days. But because they spoke no Bulgarian, their passports were determined to be fraudulent. The Bulgarian consulate did not acknowledge them as citizens and their hotel reservations proved to be phony.
Only after their cover story was blown did the couple admit to being Iraqis. They claimed to be fleeing the war.
WEIRD BUT TRUEBy LUKAS I. ALPERT and LORENA MONGELLI, Post Wire Services
Posted: 2008-02-24 09:36:53
Filed Under: Elections News, Nation News
WASHINGTON (Feb. 24) - Ralph Nader is launching a third-party campaign for president.The consumer advocate made the announcement Sunday on NBC's "Meet the Press." He says most Americans are disenchanted with the Democratic and Republican parties, and that none of the presidential contenders are addressing ways to stem corporate crime and Pentagon waste and promote labor rights.
Friday, February 22, 2008
Friday 22 February 2008
Arizona Republican Rick Renzi charged with wire fraud, money laundering.
Washington - Republican Rep. Rick Renzi was indicted Friday on charges of extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other matters in an Arizona land swap scam that allegedly helped him collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in payoffs.
A 26-page federal indictment unsealed in Arizona accuses Renzi and two former business partners of conspiring to promote the sale of land that buyers could swap for property owned by the federal government. The sale netted one of Renzi's former partners $4.5 million.
Renzi is a three-term member of the House. He announced in August that he would not seek re-election.
Attempts to reach Renzi by phone through his congressional office in Flagstaff and his lawyer were unsuccessful Friday.
As part of the alleged scam, Renzi and his former business partner, James W. Sandlin, concealed at least $733,000 that the congressman took for helping seal the land deals, the indictment says.
"Renzi was having financial difficulty throughout 2005 and needed a substantial infusion of funds to keep his insurance business solvent and to maintain his personal lifestyle," the indictment says.
The indictment accuses Renzi of using his position as a member of the House Natural Resources Committee to push the land swaps for Sandlin, who was also charged. It comes after a lengthy federal investigation into the land development and insurance businesses owned by Renzi's family.
GOP presidential front-runner Sen. John McCain, an Arizona colleague of Renzi's, seemed surprised when asked in Indianapolis for his reaction to the indictment, choosing his words carefully, shaking his head and speaking slowly.
"I'm sorry. I feel for the family; as you know, he has 12 children," McCain told reporters on the presidential campaign trail. "But I don't know enough of the details to make a judgment. These kinds of things are always very unfortunate.... I rely on our Department of Justice and system of justice to make the right outcome."
The extensive legal document says Renzi refused in 2005 and 2006 to secure congressional approval for land swaps by two unnamed businesses if they did not agree to buy Sandlin's property as a part of the deal.
Renzi had previously owned some of Sandlin's property, the indictment says.
In early 2005, one of the businesses seeking surface rights for a copper mining project in Renzi's district failed to buy Sandlin's land. As a result, the indictment says, Renzi allegedly told the business, "No Sandlin property, no bill."
At the time, Sandlin owed Renzi $700,000 out of the land's selling price of $800,000. Renzi also allegedly concealed his business relationship with Sandlin, even though the company had expressly asked if there was one.
Meanwhile, Renzi allegedly pushed the land on a second firm, an unnamed investment group, that was trying to secure a federal land swap. If the firm accepted Sandlin's property as part of the transaction, Renzi allegedly said investors would receive a "free pass" through the House Natural Resources Committee, according to the indictment.
In April 2005, the investors reluctantly agreed to the deal.
"Please be sensitive to the fact that we are going way out on a limb at the request of Congressman Renzi," one of the investors wrote in an April 17, 2005 e-mail to a Renzi aide. "I am putting my complete faith in Congressman Renzi and you that this is the correct decision."
The investment group agreed to pay $4.6 million for Sandlin's land, the indictment says. Sandlin then paid Renzi $733,000 for his help in securing the land swap from the second business.
Renzi failed to report the income on financial disclosure reports to Congress, as is required.
Government watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington applauded the Justice Department for holding Renzi "accountable given that his House colleagues refused to do so." The group has had Renzi on its "Most Corrupt Members of Congress" list for the last three years.
"Bluster aside, this latest in a string of congressional indictments demonstrates that Congress simply will not police itself," said CREW executive director Melanie Sloan.
Reflections of Fidel
What I wrote on Tuesday 19
THAT Tuesday, there was no fresh international news. My modest message to the people of Monday, February 18 had no problem being widely circulated. I began to receive news from 11:00 a.m. The previous night I slept like never before. My conscience was at rest and I had promised myself a vacation. The days of tension, with the proximity of February 24, left me exhausted.
Today I shall not say anything about people in Cuba and the world who are close and who expressed their emotions in thousands of different ways. I also received a large number of comments collected from people on the street via confirmed methods who, almost without exception, and spontaneously, voiced their most profound sentiments of solidarity. One day I shall approach that subject.
At this point I am dedicating myself to the adversaries. I enjoyed watching the embarrassing position of all the candidates for the United States presidency. One by one they were obliged to announce their immediate demands of Cuba in order not to risk losing a single voter. Not that I am a Pulitzer Prize winner interrogating them on CNN on the most delicate political and even personal matters from Las Vegas, where the logic of chance of the roulette rules and where one has to make ones humble presence if aspiring to be president.
Half a century of blockade seemed little enough to the favorites. "Change, change, change!" they cried in unison.
I am in agreement, change! but in the United States. Cuba changed a long while ago and will follow its dialectical route. "No return to the past ever!" exclaim our people.
"Annexation, annexation, annexation!" responds the adversary; that is what they are really thinking deep down about when they talk of change.
Breaking the secret of his silent struggle, Martí denounced the voracious and expansionist empire discovered and described by his brilliant intelligence more than one century after the revolutionary declaration of independence of the 13 colonies.
The end of one stage is not the same as the beginning of the end of an unsustainable system.
Immediately, the diminished European powers allied to that system, began to pronounce the same demands. In their judgment, the hour had come to dance to the music of the democracy and freedom that, since the times of Torquemada, they have never really known. The colonization and neo-colonization of entire continents, from which they extract energy, raw materials and a cheap workforce, morally disqualify them.
An extremely illustrious Spanish figure, previously minister of culture and an impeccable socialist, today and for some time now a spokesman on arms and war, is the synthesis of pure wrong. Kosovo and the unilateral declaration of independence is hitting them at this time like an impertinent nightmare.
People of flesh and blood with U.S. and NATO uniforms are still dying in Iraq and Afghanistan. The memory of the USSR, disintegrated in part due to its interventionist adventure in the latter of the two countries, haunts the Europeans like a shadow.
Bush Sr. is backing McCain as his candidate, while Bush Jr., in a country of Africa – yesterday the origin of humankind and a martyr continent today – and where nobody knows what he is doing, said that my message was the beginning of Cuba’s road to freedom; in other words, the annexation decreed by his government in a voluminous and enormous text.
The day before, international television showed a group of latest-generation bombers executing spectacular maneuvers, with the complete guarantee that bombs of any type could be launched without radars detecting the aircraft carriers, and this is not even considered to be war crime.
A protest was made by important countries in relation to the imperial idea of testing a weapon on the pretext of avoiding the possible fall over the territory of another country of a spy satellite – one of the many artifacts that, for military purposes, the United States has sent into orbit of the planet.
I was thinking of not writing a reflection for at least 10 days, but I had no right to keep quiet for so long. I revised it yesterday and today, Thursday, will hand it over. I have insistently asked for my reflections to be published on Page 2 or any other page of our newspapers, never on the front page, and to give simple summaries in the other media if they are extensive.
I am now absorbed in the effort of confirming my united vote for the President of the National Assembly and the new Council of State and how to do that.
I thank my readers for your patient wait.
Fidel Castro Ruz
February 21, 2008
Translated by Granma International •
REFLEXIONES DE FIDEL
Ese martes no hubo noticia internacional fresca. Mi modesto mensaje al pueblo, del lunes 18 de febrero, no tuvo dificultad para divulgarse con amplitud. Desde las 11 de la mañana comencé a recibir noticias concretas. La noche anterior había dormido como nunca. Tenía la conciencia tranquila y me había prometido unas vacaciones. Los días de tensión, esperando la proximidad del 24 de febrero, me dejaron exhausto.
No diré hoy una palabra de personas entrañables en Cuba y en el mundo que de mil formas diferentes expresaron sus emociones. Recibí igualmente un elevado número de opiniones recogidas en la calle con métodos confiables, las que casi sin excepción, y de forma espontánea, vertieron sus más profundos sentimientos de solidaridad. Algún día abordaré el tema.
En este instante me dedico al adversario. Disfruté observando la posición embarazosa de todos los candidatos a Presidente de Estados Unidos. Se vieron obligados uno por uno a proclamar sus inmediatas exigencias a Cuba para no arriesgar un solo elector. Ni que yo fuera Premio Pulitzer interrogándolos en la CNN sobre los más delicados asuntos políticos e incluso personales, desde Las Vegas, donde reina la lógica del azar de las ruletas de juego y adonde hay que asistir humildemente si alguien aspira a Presidente.
Medio siglo de bloqueo les parecía poco a los predilectos. ¡Cambio, cambio, cambio!, gritaban al unísono.
Estoy de acuerdo, ¡cambio!, pero en Estados Unidos. Cuba cambió hace rato y seguirá su rumbo dialéctico. ¡No regresar jamás al pasado!, exclama nuestro pueblo.
¡Anexión, anexión, anexión!, responde el adversario; es lo que en el fondo piensa cuando habla de cambio.
Martí, rompiendo el secreto de su lucha silenciosa, denunció el imperio voraz y expansionista ya descubierto y descrito por su genial inteligencia, más de un siglo después de la declaración revolucionaria de independencia de las 13 colonias.
No es lo mismo el fin de una etapa que el inicio del fin de un sistema insostenible.
De inmediato las menguadas potencias europeas aliadas a ese sistema proclaman las mismas exigencias. A su juicio había llegado la hora de danzar con la música de la democracia y la libertad que, desde los tiempos de Torquemada, jamás realmente conocieron. El coloniaje y el neocoloniaje de continentes enteros, de donde extraen energía, materias primas y mano de obra baratas, los descalifican moralmente.
Un ilustrísimo personaje español, antaño ministro de Cultura e impecable socialista, hoy y desde hace rato vocero de las armas y la guerra, es la síntesis de la sinrazón pura. Kosovo y la declaración unilateral de independencia los golpea en este instante como impertinente pesadilla.
En Iraq y Afganistán siguen muriendo hombres de carne y hueso con uniformes de Estados Unidos y la OTAN. El recuerdo de la URSS, desintegrada en parte por la aventura intervencionista en el segundo de los dos países, persigue a los europeos como una sombra.
Bush padre postula a McCain como su candidato, mientras Bush hijo, en un país de África —origen del hombre ayer y continente mártir hoy— donde nadie conoce lo que hace allí, dijo que mi mensaje era el inicio del camino de la libertad de Cuba, es decir, la anexión decretada por su gobierno en voluminoso y enorme texto.
El día antes, por la televisión internacional, se mostraba un grupo de bombarderos de última generación realizando maniobras espectaculares, con garantía total de que, bombas de cualquier tipo, pueden ser lanzadas sin que los radares detecten las naves portadoras y ni se considere crimen de guerra.
Una protesta de importantes países se relacionaba con la idea imperial de probar un arma, con el pretexto de evitar la posible caída sobre el territorio de otro país de un satélite espía, de los muchos artefactos que con fines militares Estados Unidos ha ubicado en la órbita del planeta.
Pensaba dejar de escribir una reflexión por lo menos en 10 días, pero no tenía derecho a guardar silencio tanto tiempo. Hay que abrir fuego ideológico sobre ellos.
Escribí esto a las 3 y 35 p.m. del martes. Ayer lo revisé y hoy jueves por la tarde lo entregaré. He rogado encarecidamente que mis reflexiones sean publicadas en la página 2 o cualquier otra de nuestros periódicos, nunca en primera plana, y hacer síntesis sencillas en los demás medios si son extensas.
Estoy enfrascado ahora en el esfuerzo por hacer constar mi voto unido en favor de la Presidencia de la Asamblea Nacional y del nuevo Consejo de Estado, y cómo hacerlo.
Doy las gracias a los lectores por su paciente espera.
Fidel Castro Ruz
Febrero 21 de 2008
6 y 34 p.m.