Chavez Wins

Hugo Chavez, the Venezuelan President who received what was termed the largest round of applause ever heard at the UN General Assembly when he lashed out at the policies of the US, has won a third term as President of Venezuela by a margin of at least twenty percent. A US sponsored coup-attempt against the leader in 2004 led to a popular uprising to have him reinstaded, demonstrating his popularity, due primarily to his funneling of funds brought in by the country's vast oil wealth to the poor and underpriveledged majority. Al Jazeera has more on his reelection:

Hugo Chavez has won elections granting him another six-year term as president of Venezuela.

The leader told a jubilant crowd on Monday "long live the popular victory" from a balcony on the presidential palace in Caracas.

The 52-year-old who has been president for eight years has pledged to continue his self-styled social revolution.

Opposition candidate Manuel Rosales conceded defeat, saying: "We admit they defeated us today, but we will continue in this fight."

Initial results indicated that Chavez won 61 per cent of votes while Rosales gained 38 per cent, according to results based on 78 per cent of the polling stations.

Arab Man = Militant or Terrorist

This seems to be the formula most widely accepted by the western media and the US/US's Puppy (Englerica? Ameriland?) governments. Lets take a recent Associated Press article, regarding civilian casualties (being a woman or a child under 10 still counts as a "civilian," at least for now):

BAGHDAD -- U.S. soldiers destroyed two buildings being used by insurgents in a town in the western Anbar province, killing six militants, two women and a boy believed to be under 2, the U.S. military said Sunday.

Now, out of curiosity, what legally recognised court passed the guilty verdict on these six individuals that there was sufficiently binding evidence that they must fall into a legally recognised category of illegal "militants" pursuant to civil and international law?

Or was simply being an Arab man enough to justify their death sentence?

Also, Al Jazeera reports that Kofi Annan (previously scared to call a duck a duck and admit that the civil war in Iraq is a civil war) today did muster the courage to say what Iraqis have been thinking for years and openly articulating without qualification of late:
Annan said he agreed with Iraqis who say that life is worse now than it was under Saddam.

"I think they are right in the sense of the average Iraqi's life," he said.

"If I were an average Iraqi obviously I would make the same comparison - that they had a dictator who was brutal but they had their streets, they could go out, their kids could go to school and come back home without a mother or father worrying, 'Am I going to see my child again?" Annan said.

So, the UN Secretary General comes out and finally tacitly admits that the US (whose UN Mandate on Iraq was just renewed in the past week or so) has created a civil war in Iraq.

Yet the rest of the world stands by and does nothing.



New Nuclear Weapons

I can't help but think of a passage from the bible I read recently (book of Matthew, about hypocrisy) when I come across this article, in the context of the US's assertion that Iran isn't living up to their Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty obligations (which the IAEA says they are, but what does the IAEA know?).

From The Washington Post:

New Nuclear Weapons Program To Continue

By Walter Pincus
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, December 2, 2006; Page A07

The Nuclear Weapons Council, made up of senior Defense Department and National Nuclear Security Administration officials, said yesterday that they plan to continue developing a new nuclear weapons program even though recent studies suggested that existing stockpiles are in better condition than had been thought.

The announcement comes just two days after the release of studies by the Los Alamos and Lawrence Livermore national laboratories showing that plutonium triggers in currently stockpiled weapons will remain reliable for 90 to 100 years.

While many western media agencies are ignoring the news, it has not been missed by China's state-run news agency Xinhua.

The Post also neglects to mention the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty, which specifically states:
All Parties must pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to the cessation of the nuclear arms race and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

The treaty went into effect in March of 1970. Thirty-Six years later one of the drafting parties of the treaty is working on a new arsenal of Nuclear Weapons. Does that seems like a good faith pursuit of "general and complete disarmament" to you?


Israel's Peace Offer?

Recently there has been much news coverage of the "ceasefire" between Hamas and Israel (which Condi Rice was in Israel trying to "shore up" on Thursday) and the magnanamous offer by Ehud Olmert of peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

The fact that the ceasefire has been anything-but aside (monday, for example, after the ceasefire took effect sunday, Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel and the IDF shot and killed a "militant" and a 50 year old woman they claimed tried to "run off" with his weapon. I must say, that's the first time I've ever heard of a 50 year old woman running...), Israel's "offer of peace" has been on the table now since 1947.

Peace is offered to Palestine in return for the wholesale removal of all palestinians and the creation of a Jewish-Zionist state that runs from the mediterranean to the Jordan river. Okay, I exaggerate (a little). The best offer made by Israel at the Camp David negotiations still included a 12 percent reduction in the then-current territory under direct control of the Palestinian Authority, which didn't include of course any area that is still legally part of Palestine but under de-facto Israeli control. All current offers by Israel include taking Palestinian territory that cuts straight through the center of the west bank to the Jordan river, thus dividing the West Bank into walled-in enclaves with no inter-regional transportation (due to the Israeli "security fence" and buffer zone).

Palestine's offer (from Hamas and Fatah and Al-Aqsa etc.), which was made with much less publicity just a few months back, is that Israel withdraw to their pre-1967 borders (internationally viewed as the legal boundries of Israel and referred to as the "green line") and cease all military operations in Palestine. However, we don't hear about Palestine's offer in the West, although it has stood fairly unchanged since the early 1970s.

Yet, the western media gleefully reports every action by Olmert as a "major policy shift" that is obviously him taking the high road in looking for peace. He echos the offer of a "Palestinian State" but fails to mention, and this is never pointed out in the media, that the "state" they offer is essentially a small number of small and impossible to leave communes, all surrounded by the "State" of Israel and cut off from access to water or arable land, which technically (by international law) belongs to Palestine now but is part of the self-declared state of Israel in reality.

Olmert's offer is that some "suspected militants", thousands of whom are being detained without charge or trial by Israel, will be released after a kidnapped Israeli soldier is returned to Israel. They have already begun by releasing one Palestinian government minister who was kidnapped just a few weeks ago. Yes, you read that correctly: their graciousness has been displayed by releasing a kidnapped Palestinian government minister.

They also consistantly claim that Israel was planning to "unilaterally withdraw" from the west bank. But that is misleading. Israel offered to withdraw from the sections of the west bank it does not wish to keep, but maintains its claims on the farmlands and water supplies that are legally in the West Bank but viewed (only by the US and Israel and their puppy... what's it called again? Bushtain? Blairtain? Britrael?) as part of "Israeli territory."

What doesn't get covered is the UN report that was released this week that stated Israel "violated every article" of a crossings agreement they made last year regarding entry and exit from Palestinian areas. You need look no further than the blog of "A Mother From Gaza" who, as we speak, is waiting to get back into Palestine. She has been waiting, and waiting, and waiting and waiting, and waiting, and waiting... The effects of this de-facto blockade are disasterous for the Palestinians, left with no livelyhood, no food, and no water. So, as the report just linked to explains, while Israelis freely water their lawns with sprinklers, Palestinians are left having to pray for Red Cross water shipments... which are usually blocked by the IDF from entering Palestinian areas anyway.

Meanwhile, Palestine suffers from a whopping 40% unemployment rate; simultaneously, the US has historically provided unconditional aid to Israel to the tune of nearly a hundred billion dollars, and it continues to increase to this day.

The Human Rights Situation in Palestine is a travesty, and it has been inflicted upon Palestinians by Israel for decades. Additionally, those familiar with the situation are well aware of the disasterous effects that America's unconditional support for Israel has on the US's standing in the world, as evidenced by a letter from 50 retired American diplomats to George Bush on the subject. However, we in the west cannot say anything negative about Israel.

To give an example, a well known and very knowledgeable diplomat and former US president intricately familiar with the subject recently published a book called "Peace not Apartheid" which is naturally critical of Israel's actions towards Palestine.

Upon the book's release, the "new breed" of democrats who are taking over the US Congress in january were chomping at the bit to condemn the book as anti-semetic. Among those who came out against the book were Nancy Pelosi and John Conyers.

The formula is nothing new. Anything that is anti-Zionist (Zionism meaning building a Jewish state in the holy land, by UN terms it was a code-name for racism for 20 years lets not forget) and disagrees with Israel's murderous policies (much like 62 percent of the Israeli population disagreed with Ehud Olmert's actions in Lebanon this summer) must therefore be anti-semetic.

I think this kind of fear-and-hate mongering insults the intelligence and the morality of Jews and Gentiles everywhere. One does not have to support murder to be jewish, as those who are so quick to throw out the anti-semetic label would like you to believe, and one does not hate jews just because they disagree with the wholesale slaughter of Palestinians. The whole issue is so asinine I can't believe it even has to be addressed.

In 2002 Counterpunch published an interesting article on "anti-semitism." It's worth a read.

As far as Israel's "peace offer" goes, I would like to reiterate my take on the issue. Once the following conditions are met, I'm sure peace will soon follow.

  • The US needs to cut off its unconditional military aid to Israel, instead offering such aid only on the condition that murderous incursions by the IDF into foreign territories is ended immediately and finally.

  • Israel must withdraw from occupied territories back to the internationally agreed 1967 borders, and tear down its illegal perimeter wall.

  • The US must at once re-evaluate its position of unconditional support for Israeli policies and cease using its Security Council Veto to stymie any international attempt at mediation.

  • Iran must exert its influence on Hamas and Hizballah to stop targeting civilian areas, as it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions.

  • Israel must cease aggressive posturing against Iran that encourages the Iranian leadership to encourage Hamas and Hizballah to continue to provoke the IDF into attacks.

What is YOUR Terrorism / Crime risk factor?

Almost every day in the news there's something that causes me, for just a second, to lose my breath and wonder, have I dozed off and found myself in some strange dream based on George Orwells 1984?

Today, the Associated Press reported on a system that the US government maintains in which a federal agent will basically arbitrarily assign a score that assesses their risk for being a terrorist or a criminal. They will then keep this rating on file for the next FOURTY YEARS. We, as the voting public, are forbidden from accessing this information. For national security reasons, of course, because naturally "for the protection of the people and the state" certain things must be done, right?

Your terrorist/criminal score is explained by the AP as follows:

The scores are assigned to people entering and leaving the United States after computers assess their travel records, including where they are from, how they paid for tickets, their motor vehicle records, past one-way travel, seating preference and what kind of meals they ordered.

The Homeland Security Department notice called it "one of the most advanced targeting systems in the world" and said U.S. ability to spot criminals and other security threats "would be critically impaired without access to this data."

The next time you fly to/from/around the US, bear this in mind as the immigration/customs/security person gives you a second look after checking their computer screen.